Summary: Back to the front, so to speak. More plans, but this time it's camouflage for something else.
With the usual thanks to Joy for the beta :-)
Oh boy. What the hell are we going to do? How did Daniel come up with this idea? Is he even right? Can we take the chance that he isn't?
Our families have decided to go home. A little reluctantly, unwilling as they are to leave us at a time like this, but knowing that we might have to move quickly and that they could be stranded if that were to happen. There were some tearful scenes, a lot of promises to meet up as soon as possible, and finally, they stepped through the gate, accompanied by MIB who have gone to brief the General on our current thoughts.
Dad has remained behind while we try to sort out what our thoughts actually are. Daniel, feeling a bit rough, I assume, has cracked open a bottle of Scotch; one that he was 'keeping for a special occasion'. I guess that believing that the people that mean most to you, outside of your immediate circle, are a potential target for Hades rates as that special occasion. We're all in the living room, curled up in front of the fire to ward off the chill that seems to have suddenly descended.
"Why Abydos, though?" I push.
"Like I said, from what we were able to tell from the hieroglyphs in the pyramid on Abydos, those people were the first ones Ra took. Possibly the only ones he took. After all, we've seen no trace of him since then on any inhabited planet. Selmac," he asks, turning to Dad. "Can you remember any other planet of his?"
"He most certainly had other planets," comes the reply. "But from what I can recall, Abydos was the only inhabited one. At least, the only one inhabited by Tauri. The others that I recall were either uninhabited, or they were military bases. Although I do believe that the planet where you found the Unas colony was part of Ra's holdings.
"Unlike some of the other Goa'uld, he felt that it would be easier to control the Tauri in smaller numbers. Up until the gate was buried on your world, Ra owned Earth. The first world. He needed no more prestige than that."
"And it's known that we freed Abydos and killed Ra," Jack mutters. "If Hades is spiteful, and there's no reason to think he's not, and if he doesn't have the fleet he wanted to take over Earth without a fight, he might strike there just to annoy us." He bangs his head against the back of the sofa. "Shit. Daniel's right. He's got to be."
"Do we tell them?" I ask.
They look at me oddly.
"Why wouldn't we?" Daniel asks back.
"Well, there's nothing they can do about it. They've got enough to cope with as it is without adding to their worries. If we suddenly go there and say that Hades is on his way - when there is the possibility he might not be - they may try to hide, and it could cause panic, slow down any food-gathering they're doing, possibly even scare some people so much that we could see deaths from heart attacks. After all, they remember what it's like to be ruled by a Goa'uld. They don't want it to happen again."
Daniel knocks back his Scotch and pours another one. Jack looks like he's about to tell him to slow down but he stops. I guess he doesn't want to annoy him any more than he's already annoyed.
"We need to go there," Daniel says abruptly. "And we need an excuse."
"To take the ship?" I ask.
He nods in reply.
"More food? I know, if you guys take some more buffalo over there, Teal'c and I can send some more water... We can make it look like we're topping them up but we can also be blocking the gate, if only for a while. We could give them some of the gems, too, and some safe addresses. Tell them where they can trade for food and other things."
"What about that cloth you insisted on getting, Daniel?" Jack asks.
Daniel smacks his head.
"Of course. I got that for them."
"Cloth?" Dad asks.
"Bolts of cotton, lots of them. I thought they might appreciate it. The cloth they have is rough and isn't as cool as it could be. I wanted to make sure they had a chance to feel good for once." He starts to chuckle.
"Daniel? Why're you laughing?"
"Oh, I was just imagining Paul ordering it. You see, I also asked for reels of sewing cotton, needles, scissors, embroidery silks... Can you picture the scene? 'Yes, this is the Pentagon. Yes, I do want embroidery silks - every colour you have. Yes, in large quantities...'."
His chuckling is turning to laughter and we join in. I guess we're just looking for an excuse, but we could do with the laugh.
"And I thought it was for you," I tease. "I know Jack's turning you into a housewife, but that was a step too far for me."
He throws a cushion at me and Jack, who's laughing too, wraps his arm firmly around him and hugs him tight.
Dad stands up and heads to the kitchen.
"Dad? You okay? Can I get you something?"
"I'm fine. Just want some water, that's all," he says, turning the faucet on. As I see the water come out, I get another idea.
"Dad, can the Tok'ra engineers make a very long, narrow tunnel?"
He stops and turns around, looking at me curiously.
"I don't know. I suppose it depends on how long and narrow. Why?"
"Something just clicked with me. Another excuse for us to spend some time on Abydos without it looking like it's a set-up."
"Oh? What's that?" Daniel asks.
"It's silly. I mean, it's silly that the women are having to go to the pyramid to get the water and carry it all the way back to Nagada. Sure, the water being in the pyramid is a great idea and the only sensible way to transfer water there. But, it's a long walk to the town. I know it's only a few kilometres in actual distance, but walking over sand is a pain."
They all mutter an agreement.
"So, if we can get the Tok'ra engineers to make a drainpipe, we can start it from the reservoir, aim it at the town centre, make it go slightly downhill so that gravity feeds it, and then put a small well there, or even better, a pump. That would keep the water cleanest of all. There would need to be a small chamber at the bottom of the pump shaft..."
Jack puts his hands up.
"Aht! We get the idea. It's a good one." He looks at Dad and asks, "How about it?"
Dad shrugs. "I have no idea. But we can ask them. They love challenges."
Jack's suggested that I go to Abydos tonight, mainly to put my mind at rest that Hades hasn't struck yet, but ostensibly to check up on their progress.
Before I leave, we're taking Jacob to the gate with three naquada bars. Earth's early warning system is going to have to take second place now. We've just hijacked it because we'll want one for Abydos. Our tentative plan is that we visit Abydos for as long as we can get away with, without looking like we're up to something. But Hades doesn't look like he's a guy in a hurry. On top of that, his ships, while fast, are nowhere near as fast as ours.
Sam looked at the star chart on Mia and calculated that it would take him a day to get to Abydos - from Hecate's system anyway - as opposed to our less than half an hour. So we probably won't be able to stay there as long as it's going to take. We'll need alerting. Trouble is, I need to tell the Abydonians that we're going to put the system in without alarming them. Not easy as they're smart.
Jacob's going to suggest to the council that a permanent 'guard' is put on Hecate's system (if it's not Hades' world - we still don't know where he was). If they can get one of the Asgard-powered al'keshes soon, they can hide out there and listen in to comms traffic, watch ship movements and so on. One word from them that the ships were moving out would put us on alert.
God, these bars are heavy. Jack and I are carrying one in a piece of thick cloth between us; Jacob and Teal'c are carrying one each. Damn them. I know I'm way stronger than I used to be, and I know it's a smaller bar than last time, but even now, I can't lift and easily carry one on my own. I take comfort that neither can Jack.
"Okay, Sam, dial it up," Jack calls as we get close to the gully. We keep walking, or rather stumbling, down the slope as the gate starts to engage.
By the time the wormhole has formed, we're there.
"Do you want us to come through with you?" Jack asks.
"How else are we going to send the naquada through?" I respond, a bit dumbfounded.
"We could throw it through," he replies, trying to shrug but failing.
"Throw it through? And what if there's someone on the other side of the gate? We'd kill them - or seriously dent them."
Jacob laughs. "Don't worry, Daniel. I'll go through and call when it's clear. You throw them through, then you can gate to Abydos. Tell them that I'll be sending some Tok'ra through tomorrow to check whether they can build the pipes or not."
"If you think so," I say. "We'll see you tomorrow?"
"Count on it. I'll give you a rundown on what's been said in the council chambers."
Bastard manages to wave with his left hand as he steps through. How soon can I throw this?
Ooh, you bitch, Jack teases.
He looks at me and winks. As if me being a bitch is news. Sheesh.
"Coast's clear. Send them through."
We hear Jacob's voice on the comms and look at each other in anticipation. Teal'c throws his bar through first, then Jack says, "On three."
"One." We swing the cloth backwards and then forwards. "Two," we do the same thing. "Three." When we reach the nearest point to the wormhole, one of each of our hands lets go of that side of the cloth and the naquada bar is in free-fall as it plunges into the abyss.
"And the winner is..." Jake teases.
"Well?" Jack prompts.
"The second one, Jack. You were expecting something else?"
Jack blows on his knuckles and 'polishes' his fingernails on his chest.
"Nah. Okay, see ya tomorrow, Jake. Thanks for everything."
"Don't thank me yet, Jack. I think this is going to be a long night."
"Don't forget we can add to the pot if we need to, Jacob," I call. "Leave that as a last resort, though. I'd rather we gave you guys things without strings attached."
"So you'll guilt them into helping out in future?"
"I wouldn't say that. 'Night, Jacob, Selmac."
"Yeah, 'night all."
The gate disengages and I look at the others, trying to ignore Jack's smug grin.
"I guess I'd better go..." I start.
Jack interrupts. "We go. Sam, Teal'c, you remain behind for MIB. Get the drainpipes out ready for tomorrow. They're going to need more water anyway."
I start to dial Abydos as the others make their way back to our house. We call our goodbyes and as soon as the gate dials up, we throw a VCD through and when we're sure it's clear, step through.
It's dawn here on Abydos, but that doesn't seem to matter. We're greeted initially by the business ends of some guns pointing in our direction. Not for long though, it's only a matter of moments before we're surrounded by friendly faces and are engulfed by hugs.
"Dan'yel, why are you here?" Malik asks.
"We wanted to see how you're doing. We guessed you might need more water soon, and we've had an idea which might make things easier for you in future."
"That is good! The water is still plentiful, but the level drops day by day."
"No problems, we'll send some more over tomorrow morning, our time," Jack says. "That'll be this afternoon."
Malik looks confused at Jack's timing so I tell them in Abydonian terms and he and the others look very pleased.
"We need to see the elders, to inform them of our idea," I add. "Are they all at Nagada?"
"They are. Do you wish us to accompany you?"
"No, it's okay. You stay on guard. I know where I'm going."
"Of course. We will see you later."
"We should have come by ship," Jack mutters as we trudge across the sand.
"We could have," I agree. "Didn't think of it."
"Why not? You think of plenty of other weird things."
"Quit your whinin' O'Neill," I tease, trying to sound like him and probably failing. "The exercise will do you good."
He looks fed up, so I take his hand in mine and that seems to cheer him up a little. He starts to swing our arms and soon we're walking like a pair of three year-olds, giggling a bit as we slide on the sand and finally laughing out loud when we roll down a dune. When we hit the bottom, he's on top of me, we're lying face-to-face. I see his eyes close to mine and can't help but kiss him.
"Do you come here often?" he asks when we break apart.
The pair of us are laughing like crazy now, wrestling in the sand. Eventually, undoubtedly looking a complete mess, we have to stop.
"Come on, it's going to be late when we get home as it is," he says softly. "Let's not make it too late, eh?"
We reluctantly stand up and brush as much of the sand off us as we can. He puts his arm around my shoulder and we finish the walk in silence.
Samantha and I have finished placing the main length of pipe along the mountain wall. We have only to add the final piece tomorrow. Since then, MIB have returned and are now aiding us in a task that has been suggested. We must sort out the various gemstones. This will be a large task.
The geologist at the SGC has identified the different types of gemstones that we have here. There are ten different colours, and (we assume), there are only ten different types of stone. We have been told that short of him examining every single stone, he can only go by the fact that of the stones presented to him, all that shared a colour seemed to have come from a single place.
The reason he gave that he could not be more specific was that there are numerous gemstones which share colours, and numerous gemstones which have many colours but are still the same stone.
He has named these stones as diamonds, sapphires of two different shades, being dark-blue and pale-blue, emeralds, rubies, garnets - which are so dark that they are nearly purple in shade and not the more brown-red found on Earth - kunzite, turquoise, jade and opals. Each type of stone must have been chosen for their beauty as they all sparkle as we pick them up. Samantha and Frankie seem to be most impressed by how they look.
We are sorting them into three different piles, according to their size. They all seem to have been cut in the same manner and conform to either a small, medium or large size. All of the large stones will be given to the Tok'ra, as they are in a better position to use them without questions of their provenance.
We shall put together collections of the smaller stones, which we can then use as gifts to friends and for the purposes of cementing alliances. The medium-sized stones will most likely be kept by us for commercial use and for decorative purposes.
I fear that this will take many hours. We have only opened one of the trunks, which Samantha had to transfer from the tunnels to the house (which is warmer) using the transporter as it is too heavy to move by hand.
"When we empty these trunks, we can use them for something," Samantha suggests. "They're big enough to store linen or pretty much anything personal."
"Don't give Daniel the one with Hecate on it," DJ mutters. "Somehow I can't see him enjoying that."
Then he looks at the carving on this one and sees that the image resembles the description of Hades himself.
"I wonder if there's anything in the carvings? I mean, that can tell us about their social structure."
"Do you mean that there may be a story here?" I ask.
"Could be. It wouldn't be unusual. I mean, we know that we've identified a number of Greek gods on them, but you see so many similar things on pottery of that time that tell stories that I wouldn't be surprised if it is the case here."
"Then you should mention it to Daniel when he returns and the two of you should study them."
"I'll make a start," he states. "It could be important."
"Daniel won't be studying anything until he's slept," Samantha warns. "He's going to be exhausted when he gets back."
"I'll film them. Maybe by putting the images together on a computer will help me organise the order that they go in."
"If they go in order," John states.
DJ shrugs. He cannot tell until he has studied them.
He gets up and leaves the house to go to the tunnels where he will retrieve the camera. I do not think that we will see him again after he has filmed this trunk.
"Where are we going to put all these?" John asks, pointing to the three piles on the table which are growing rapidly.
"We should find containers," Kar Shel states. "And later, perhaps some small pouches for carrying a few stones."
"I fear we will be very busy making things like that," I say. "There will be a need for many small containers."
I stand up and walk to the main storage shed to search for three suitable containers. They will have to do for now.
Kasuf and the rest of the clan heads were very happy to see us, Daniel specifically though, I guess. Not that I'm bitter. Anyway, Daniel told him we'd bring some more water and a while later, we'd bring some more meat by ship. He's also mentioned the possibility of transferring water directly to the town, but without promising that that would happen.
Now he's trying to bring up the subject of the early warning system without scaring them.
"But why?" Kasuf asks. "You have killed Ra."
"True, but he's not the only Goa'uld as you know. It's not that we think..." he tries, but stumbles over his words.
"Daniel's worried about you," I shrug. "You know what he's like. We've gotten the opportunity to put something up in the sky which will raise an alert on the ground when a ship enters your system." I look at Daniel and ask, "Would it sound if we come by ship?"
"I don't know. I shouldn't think so. I mean, otherwise the Tok'ra would be alerted every time one of their ships enters their own system, scaring them rigid for no reason. There must be a way of letting the satellite know if you're friend or foe."
"Okay, well, we'll ask them." I turn back to Kasuf. "When it's installed, if you want us to do it of course, we'll let you know what to expect."
He looks at the elders and there is some discussion between them. In the end, it's Kasuf that speaks.
"We would appreciate the warning," he states. "If it would bring Dan'yel comfort, it would comfort us also."
"Cool. If it ever sounds a warning, you should send someone to our homeworld immediately and we'll come by ship to help you."
"We shall do that." He stands up and asks, "Would you now join us? It is time for the morning meal."
"We'd love to, but it's really late at night at our home. We're really tired," Daniel yawns. "We've got to get home, then in the morning, uh, our morning, we'll go out and get some more meat for you. Sam and Teal'c will get the water transfer set up. The Tok'ra engineers will come through the gate, too. They'll survey the land between the pyramid and Nagada to see if they can build the pipes."
We're thanked by everyone - individually - as we stand up and get ready to go. I wish the gate was in town.
I am officially done for. So's Daniel. We're hot, tired, sweaty, and to make matters worse it's because we've just spent over three hours on a desert planet walking through dunes and making nice, rather than in bed making out.
"I need a shower," I complain as we peel off our clothes.
"Me too. Tomorrow," he says. "In the morning."
"I'm gonna stink," I warn.
"What do you mean? Going to? You do. So do I. Who cares?"
"Well, you're the one that's going to have to smell it," I tell him, sniffing my armpit and thinking that that was a stupid manoeuvre.
"It'll be blocked by how I smell. Tomorrow," he says again. "Tired now."
We muster up the strength to clean our teeth but that's about it. Then it's into bed and sleep.
I was right. We stink. Not that that seems to be bothering Daniel at the moment. If where he is and what he's doing to me is anything to go by, it could be an advantage. He's a braver man than me. I wouldn't go anywhere near my armpit yet.
He looks up at me, his eyebrows furrowed.
"You having fun?"
"Can't you tell?"
I leave him to carry on because let's face it, having someone suck my nipples is not what I call torture. Especially when it's Daniel doing it.
I can feel his breathing shorten as he explores my chest as if it's the first time he's been there. I know what that means. It means that I'm going to get my ass well and truly fucked. Oh, look at me try to escape. Hear me complain.
"Jeez, Daniel, oh yeah."
He's kneeling between my legs, pretty ruthlessly plastering my insides with lube and staring into my eyes without blinking. His eyes are black, and not because he needs to wash, either. His mouth is slightly open, his breath is short and his cock is standing to attention. Just how I like him.
I must be how he likes me - on my back, my legs wide open in invitation and staring back at him - because he's pushing inside me now, not taking his time but laying claim to my ass. If he wants to plant his flag on my territory, he's more than welcome. I surrender. Totally. Unconditionally. Unequivocally. Wow, that was a big word for this time of the morning.
He's in all the way and now he's leaning forward, making it seem like he's moved even further inside. I sit up as much as I can and the next thing I know, he's kissing me hard, a prelude to fucking me hard and I know it.
When he breaks off, I know that he's going to forget everything that's happened recently and let go. So'm I.
"Oh, fuck, yeah," I howl. "Fuck me."
"I am," he pants. "Hadn't you noticed?" He punctuates his teasing with harder and harder thrusts. I am so not going to want to sit.
"God, yes, I noticed. Still noticing."
He's grinning at me, a sardonic grin. Hell, I'm at it again. Big words when my brain is mushy. Must be this evolving shit.
"Oh fuck, can't hold..." he groans.
Wish he could 'cause he hasn't even touched my dick yet. I reach down to jerk off and he smacks my hand away.
"Not yet. Wait."
He grunts loudly as he fills my insides, continuing to fuck me until he can't anymore. I want to complain, to beg him to finish me but I say nothing. My trust in him is repaid by him pulling out, shuffling back and going down on me straight away. He's still panting and I feel the puffs of warm air over my cock and balls just as he soaks them with his spit. The warm air turns cold as it hits the moisture and I want to shiver but at the same time, I'm sweating with the strain of holding back.
I've changed my mind, I don't want to come yet, I want him to keep doing this all day long.
He doesn't let me, he sucks hard, takes me down as far as he can. When he swallows as the head hits the back of his throat, the contraction does it for me, like a trigger reflex. My hips raise off the bed with the force of it and he has to grab me and hold me down as if I was a newcomer to this, unused to being sucked off.
"Jeez, Daniel," I gasp. "Come here."
He crawls up my body, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, staring into my eyes again. His eyes are still black with lust. I guess mine must be, too. To show him what that meant to me, I grab his head between my hands firmly and lay a prize-winning kiss on him, twisting him onto his back and pinning him to the bed.
Eventually, we have to break apart - though it is reluctantly.
"Wow," he whispers, smiling at me.
"Yeah. Wow." I decide that we need to come down off our collective high and start dropping soft kisses over his face.
"Jack, you don't want to do that unless you're angling for me to get worked up again," he teases gently.
"Maybe I am?"
"Wish we could. We've got to get up though. Later?"
With a sigh, I pull back off him, roll of the bed and put my hand out to him. He takes it and I haul him upright. Our bodies pretty much locked together, we somehow make it to the bathroom.
As I turn on the shower, I look at him and say, "You can count on it."
MIB stayed over last night so that DJ could study the trunks. I have no idea if he's discovered anything yet as they're still in the tunnels. I wouldn't mind betting that John allowed DJ to work for a couple of hours before hauling him off to their room to rest... or something. They don't need to sleep like we do, but they do need to shut down every so often, a bit like a computer going on standby, I guess.
Jack and Daniel were back after we went to bed so I don't know if we've got the go-ahead to do what we planned. I have to await their word before starting on the water transfer.
Talking of water transfers, they've just emerged from their room looking very damp. We greet each other and I watch them as they make their way into the kitchen and start to make some breakfast for themselves. They're touching at every opportunity, making it look like something so choreographed that it could be put on the stage. It's so natural that I doubt they're even aware they're doing it.
Eventually, I have to disturb their rhythm and speak to them.
"Are you going to tell us what happened?" I ask.
"In a minute. Are MIB still here?"
"In the tunnels."
"Okay, no point in telling it twice."
He contacts them on the comms and I hear Frankie say they'll be up in a few minutes. Before Jack can even sit down, the alarm goes off and we see on the receiver (which sits on the mantelpiece) that it's Dad.
"Great," Jack says. "Saves telling him later."
We're sitting around the table and planning the day. Dad's already returned to the Tok'ra having told us that their engineers were willing to try making the pipe. The early warning system should be ready this afternoon, so while the guys hunt this morning (John and DJ have offered to help), Frankie and Kar Shel will go to Earth to see about picking up a pump - we need one sooner rather than later because we need the dimensions for the shaft - and Teal'c and I will start transferring the water.
Needless to say, we'll send a VCD through before one of us goes there to set things up that end. After last time, we're taking no chances.
"Where's all the plastic sheeting we used to line Mia's floor last time?" Jack asks. "Don't want to mess Gimli up."
"In the shed, Jack, with all the other equipment we brought from the first trip to Earth."
Daniel stops talking and inhales more coffee.
"It was cleaned before it was put away, wasn't it?" Jack asks suspiciously.
"No," Daniel grunts. "I folded it up, covered in guts and gore, and stored it away with its own colony of maggots." Then he looks up at Jack, gives him the 'evil eye' and says, "What the hell do you think?"
Jack puts his hands up in surrender. He should know better than to ask stupid questions before Daniel's had enough coffee. Then he looks at John, looks at DJ, who of course doesn't drink coffee, looks at Daniel, looks back at DJ and then back to John.
"Wanna swap?" he offers.
John declines to answer on the grounds that whatever answer he gives, he'll hack off either one or the other Daniel and he's not that stupid.
"Did you discover anything in the carvings, DJ?" I ask.
That gets Daniel's attention.
"On the jewel trunks," DJ answers with a nod. "Uh, I'm not entirely sure," he sighs, then explains to the others, "I had an idea that there might be a story on them, if we could figure out what order the trunks go in. There are different pictures on each one and..."
"Like the paintings on Greek pots," Daniel agrees. "Of course. What did you find out so far?"
"I think I've identified all the characters, but if they're telling a tale when put together, I haven't figured out what it is yet."
"Perhaps the story starts with the trunk with either the most valuable or the least valuable gem, possibly the latter," Frankie suggests.
"Why do you say that?" Daniel asks.
"Well, we know that the Goa'uld are the sorts of creatures who boast," she says thoughtfully. "They'd probably tell of how they got to be in a great position. I don't know, it would just seem to be the logical thing that he'd start at the bottom, so to speak and then end up with the best showing him at the top, where he thinks he is now."
"That's as good an idea as any," DJ agrees, looking at Daniel who nods, too. "Now all we need to do is work out which gems are worth what."
"We know some of them," John reminds them. "From the ones we were given. Trouble is, we were only given five types of stone."
"Let's wait till we see Jacob again. He'll know," Jack says. "In the meantime, we've got some hunting to do."
Frankie and Kar Shel have gone back to Earth to sort out the water pump, Sam and Teal'c are currently sending water through to Abydos and the rest of us are on Gimli, looking at the scanners to find the best herd.
"Down there, on the plain," DJ points out. "There's the biggest herd on the planet."
"Looks good to me," I agree, and so do the others.
Time to go.
Okay, so the cargo hold is pretty messy. I did remember to put the plastic sheeting down, which is a good thing. Because we had android backup, we were able to shoot rapidly, one bullet per bull. We made sure we only took bulls so that we wouldn't spoil the breeding process; not that taking thirty bulls from a herd the size of a large city's population would make a big difference.
Thank God for the transporters. This time we didn't have to manually haul them on board. Daniel's had an idea of where the beasts can go on Abydos which will give them time to process the meat before it starts to go off, which is why we're taking more than before.
We've called down to the others and told them that we're on our way to Abydos and now we're watching the solar system pass by us as we get to a place where we can hit hyperspace safely.
As soon as we're watching the colours of hyperspace from the view screen, I notice that DJ's gone quiet.
Daniel? What's up with DJ?
I don't know. Hang on, I'll ask.
He nonchalantly strolls to DJ's side and then puts a hand on his shoulder. John and I move as close to them as we can without spooking him.
"What's up?" Daniel asks quietly.
We can tell DJ is about to say 'nothing' when he stops. He can't hide anything from 'himself' after all.
In the end, he shakes his head and then turns to look at me.
"I guess I know how you felt when John went to see your family instead of you," he says.
His answer confuses me for a moment then I know what he means. He can't go to the planet. The Abydonians know we've changed and have accepted it. They'd get too confused at the thought of androids.
"Hey," I say, walking to him and putting my hands out so that I can hug him. He steps into it readily. "I know how you feel. But you know, I was at least glad that you guys were there and able to go see them. It would have been worse going to Earth and not knowing that they were okay. I know you're hurting, I understand. Maybe one day you'll get to see Kasuf and Skarra again, but for now, it wouldn't be a good idea."
"I know," he murmurs back. "I understand why I can't go, but I miss them."
Sometimes Daniel and DJ are painfully honest. All I can do is hug him closer and then let John take over.
Will he be okay? I ask Daniel. It's easier to ask than to guess.
There's no answer to that.
DJ's sitting on the floor, Daniel's right next to him. I'm sitting in the command chair and John's pacing up and down. We'll be at the system in a few minutes and if someone doesn't say something soon, I'm going to flip.
Speaking of flipping, John's just stopped walking and he looks like something has just struck him - like a fist.
"John? What's up?" DJ asks.
"Uh... I've had an idea," he says. "But I have no idea if the idea is a good idea or even a possible idea."
"I've got an idea," I interrupt. "Why don't you tell us what your idea is and we can tell you if it's a good idea or a possible idea."
He looks at me in a manner which says that he would like to strangle me. Nothing new there, then.
"Right. Well, remember what you said about Bastet's planet?"
"Which one?" Daniel asks, standing up and moving over to me, DJ following him moments later.
"The one with the larvae on it."
"Okay, what did we say?" I ask.
"That it was surrounded by those mines."
"So Bastet's dead, right? She's not going to be needing them anymore."
A silence falls and then DJ squeaks, "You want us to take them? HOW?"
"Haven't worked that one out yet. But it could protect Earth," he shrugs.
"Not Earth," I say. "Too many satellites, rockets taking off and so on. But it could protect Abydos."
Daniel and DJ seem to light up at that prospect. Then Daniel gets his 'idea face'.
"What if," he says, "um, following on from John's idea... What if we get Thor to ask Loki how he made his phase-shifting device?"
"The one that hid the planet?"
"Yeah. If we could either borrow that one or have the blueprints to make one, we could hide Earth from any attackers. If there was a warning from the Tok'ra warning system, someone could hit the button and Earth could just disappear."
"He might guess that Earth was still there because of the moon," I point out.
"Not if we could make two, one for Earth and one for the moon. That would keep them in phase with each other, too, which would help avoid trouble with the tides and so on."
"But the population on the dark side of the planet might not see the stars," DJ says. "They'd know something was up."
"If we were able to do the 180° phase shift, they'd still see the stars, the moon and so on."
"What about the satellites in orbit of Earth? The space station?"
"I don't know," he shrugs. "Perhaps if the field was big enough, it would encompass them, too?"
Ya know, I think he might be onto something.
"We could try to build two so that we could hide Abydos."
"Maybe, but would you like to explain the idea of phase shifting to them?" John asks. "Personally, I'd rather surround them with mines. If nothing else, it might put an attacker off."
"Unless he could attack from space," I say. Noticing that I've removed some of their previous enthusiasm, I add, "But hey, let's not look for problems, right? He might well assume that any planet which is surrounded by a shit load of mines would be protected by someone real powerful. If nothing else, it would slow him up until we got there, give us some more time."
We're feeling a little bit more positive as we enter Abydos' system. Maybe we can really do this.
I am on Abydos directing the filling of the reservoir. It will not take much longer. The Tok'ra engineers have already been here and have decided that it is technically possible to do what has been requested of them. They will have to start at the town, having placed inside the reservoir a transmitter which will tell them how deep they need to tunnel at the pump site and which way to send the 'drainpipe'. It should not take them long to accomplish this.
When the water has finished being transferred, and as soon as the gate is shut down, Kar Shel and Frankie should return to Annwn with the dimensions of the pump, if not the pump itself. Then it is a matter of informing the engineers and they will prepare a crystal to make the shaft to the smaller reservoir underneath the pump. We may need to top up the main reservoir after that, but it should only take one more session. All seems well on that front.
On the other front, O'Neill and the others have arrived in the system and have informed me of their catch. It is impressive. The Abydonians are planning another party, but we are afraid that we will have to miss it. Daniel told me of the new ideas for protecting Earth and Abydos from Hades and I have passed the information to Samantha so that she can start to consider how to remove the mines safely and place them in orbit around Abydos.
Shina, one of the older women who comes to collect water, is coming toward me. I wonder what she wants.
"Is it true that we will be able to get fresh water without coming here?" she asks in her language.
"It is true," I confirm. "Soon. The Tok'ra will accomplish it without many problems, I hope."
"This is good news," she replies. "It will be much easier for us."
"Indeed. It is our wish to make your life simpler and better."
"Dan'yel protects us, ne?"
I nod. In his heart, he always wishes to protect them.
"He does. It is his life's purpose."
"The gods sent him to us," she says, picking up the water container and holding it under the running water to catch it. "We knew when he first came here that finally the gods had listened to our prayers."
I do not wish to argue with her as who is to say that the gods did not send him?
Instead I ask, "And what do you pray for now?"
She looks up and smiles. "We pray for the gods to protect him, and you."
"I thank you," I say. "So far, your prayers have been answered."
She nods vigorously. "The gods are good," she says triumphantly. Then she winks at me. "The real gods. Not the demons."
I agree with her. I am glad that they now understand the difference.
The faces of those around us are joys to behold. The food and water we'd already supplied has sustained them, the grain the General managed to get to them helped a lot. But until the rains come a year from now, we're going to have to bring them more and more food. I'll have to tell the General that they'll need a lot more grain. He'll be in a much better position to get it now.
They have a granary in the centre of town but their own grain is long gone. There never was a great deal extra which they could save for lean times. To be honest, I'm definitely keen on the idea of getting some of the youngsters to travel to see if they can find other places which would be better, maybe a little further up the river.
My initial objection to all of them moving still holds. They can't leave the desert completely, they'd be like fish out of water. But further upstream, they might stand a better chance of withstanding dry times if the ground is naturally more fertile.
Before we transported down, I set Gimli's scanners to map the planet, including the food sources, just as I did with Annwn. I'll make them a set of maps and show them how to read them. Maybe one day, they'll use them. They're a brave people.
I know they're going to make the most of what we've brought, but to be honest, it's trifling. At least they're going to get some protein. There's enough for all for now. The women will use the meat as sparingly as they can, making a stew to make it go further. Every part of the beast will be used, I'm sure.
I've seen some new leather goods around here, so they obviously tanned the hides of the last buffalos we brought. They're very resourceful. We transferred all of the buffalo to the nearest caves to the town, where the temperature is low. It's the only place around here where you can truly escape the burning heat of the suns.
"Dan'yel, you are thinking."
I look up from where I'm sitting and see Skarra's face.
"Hey, Skarra. Yeah, I'm thinking," I say, patting the ground next to me.
He sits by my side and waits for me to say more.
"I'm thinking how great you guys are," I elaborate. "How you survive such harsh conditions."
"You have helped us, my brother. Without you, we would have no meat, no water. People would have died from hunger or thirst, or the bad water from the river."
"But what will happen to you if something happens to us?" I ask. "I mean, we're living a dangerous life. You know that better than anyone here."
I look at him as I say that, thinking that I probably shouldn't have said it, but he shrugs in the typical Abydonian way, his shoulders saying 'what's done is done'. For a people who literally live history, day by day, they never dwell in the past.
"I know that. So, you are expecting to die tomorrow?" he teases, his big brown eyes twinkling with mischief. I know that look of old.
"No, not expecting it," I say, poking his arm. "But you know as well as I do, it could happen. What would happen to you then? Where would you get the water from? We need to make something permanent here that could help you throughout the year."
"What do you have in mind?" he asks.
"I don't know yet." I stand up, put my hand out to him and pull him up. We brush down our clothes and start to walk. He remains silent, knowing that my mind is trying to work out a solution.
"Hang on," I say. "I need to check something."
"On the ship." I look at him, see that he wants to come with me and put my hand on his shoulder.
Jack, I'm heading up to Gimli.
I need to look at something. Won't be long.
I don't tell him I'm taking Skarra with me. This could be interesting.
Skarra's face is a picture. So's DJ's.
"Dan'yel? What is happening?" he asks.
"This isn't something you can discuss with the others just yet," I tell him. "This is DJ, and over there is John."
"You are brothers?" he asks.
"Not exactly. You see, DJ and John aren't precisely human."
He looks stunned by this so I go on to explain about androids, but it isn't easy. And this is a kid who's travelled the galaxy in futuristic spaceships. Eventually, he seems to understand. I think he also understands why the others on the planet wouldn't get it. His natural inclination is to think that it's magic. If he thinks that, explaining that it's just technology to the rest will be impossible.
"So you are Dan'yel, but you are not Dan'yel," he says eventually. Then he steps closer to a very anxious looking DJ. "But Dan'yel says that he thinks of you as a brother, ne?"
DJ nods, unwilling to speak.
"Then you are also my brother."
And that's it. When Skarra makes a pronouncement like that, it's generally the last word on the subject. He's stepped right up to DJ and they're both hugging. I look at John and see tears in his eyes. I didn't know they could cry, but it would seem that they can.
"And O'Neill thinks you are his brother?" Skarra asks looking at John.
"Yeah," John says, the first word either of them have spoken since we arrived.
"That is good. There are two O'Neills protecting us now, ne?"
"There are indeed kiddo," John chuckles. He pulls Skarra into a hug and I go to DJ.
"You okay?" I whisper.
"Much better," he whispers back. "Thanks."
"My pleasure. Anyway," I say, a bit more loudly, "I had another purpose in coming here."
"Oh? What's that?"
I look at the scanner and say, "I want a map of the river. I think we need to find a way to get water from the mountains when the rains fail."
"They will not fail again for many years," Skarra says, coming to my side.
"We hope," I shrug. "But if it's the case, then you guys will have time to do what I think you can do."
"What is that?"
I show him the scan and say, "The river, while not completely straight, isn't actually that twisty. I guess it's because it goes through sand which doesn't stop it, unlike rock. Anyway, it would make running a pipeline alongside it relatively simple."
"A pipeline?" all three ask at the same time.
"Yeah. Look, one of the clans makes a form of pottery, which, when it's baked, is waterproof, right?"
I look to Skarra and DJ and get confirmation.
"So, if we show them a design of a pipe and show them how to flare out the one end so that the straight end of another identical pipe could fit into it, they could make them during times when there is no need for ordinary pottery to be made. Maybe we could even get the other clans in on it, getting them to bring the raw materials needed, to help with the baking and so on. If the pipe starts at the pyramid, as each new section is made, it could be attached to the line and would head up to the mountains. Look here."
I point at the head of the river and show that there is snow on the mountains. During the summer, it's got to melt. And there is a freshwater lake. That would be even better.
"The pipe could run up to that lake. It would take years to get there, this is a major construction project. But I'm sure Sam could visit the lake and work out how the pipe could be connected to it to get a constant flow. If we write down the instructions, whoever in the future gets that far will know what to do. Eventually, you'll have fresh water from the lake all year round coming down the pipe and into the reservoir. Maybe you could have a joint somewhere along the line which could take water down to the farming area so that irrigation could be possible."
DJ shakes his head.
"I've got another idea," he says. "Why not ask the masons if they can build a pipe. You told me that Calicus said they do major construction as well as building houses and so on. They might be able to get something here a lot faster than it would otherwise take."
"But how would we pay for that?" Skarra asks.
I shake my head.
"That's not a problem," I tell him. "We'll pay for it."
"We cannot ask..."
"Skarra, you won't be asking," John insists. "We can pay for it and we want to. It will allow Daniel and DJ a lot more peace of mind if they know you've got enough water all year round and that would help them concentrate on their jobs, ultimately helping to keep them safe. If you and the elders agree to the pipeline idea - and we won't bring anyone here that you don't want here - you'll help them."
John's got it, just the way Jack understood. If we make this look like they're doing me a favour, they're more likely to accept the help. They're a proud people and whereas they're not the sort to turn away help when they really need it, they don't like to ask for it.
They didn't contact Hammond when the rains failed, he discovered what had gone wrong when he'd sent someone to check up on them as I'd asked him to do when we first left Earth. Despite his orders to abandon the alliances which apparently held no value to Earth, he continued to do that every few months, thank God.
"I see," Skarra says, probably realising that he's being emotionally blackmailed. "Are you sure that these people will be able to help us?"
"That they'd have the ability, I have no doubt," I reply. "Whether they will, or have the time to, is another matter. We'll go and see them as soon as we can. We have to visit them soon anyway for another reason. All I can promise is that we'll ask them."
"We should discuss this with our father and the elders," he announces.
When the time comes, Skarra is going to be a great clan head, I know it.
All of the water is through and Frankie and Kar Shel have returned home and have since taken the pump to the Tok'ra whose engineers are about to head out to Abydos to fix the pipes.
Despite our natural inclination to want to remain near the Abydonians at all times, we have to move. The early warning system is ready and before Teal'c came home, he called the guys and informed them of the situation. They're on their way to the Tok'ra right now. As soon as we've eaten something, Teal'c and I will join them. All eight of us will fly to Abydos again and we'll install the satellite according to the instructions I'm hoping we'll get.
"How are they all over there?" I ask Teal'c over lunch.
"They are well, Samantha. I assume that they are feeling a lot better than they would have if we had not been able to assist them."
"It's good to make a really tangible difference to someone, isn't it?" I muse.
Teal'c raises an eyebrow as he chews his sandwich so I elaborate.
"I know we've been out here, making a difference, but it's not something that we can see a direct result for very often. Apart from some freed slaves and finding a new home for those on Anat's world... things like that," I say waving a hand in the air. "There are few instances where we can look at a mission and say 'that made an immediate change for the better for someone specific'."
He thinks about what I say and nods slowly.
"It is like the difference between people who donate money regularly to the many charities on Earth which do good works all the year round, and those who react to a specific emergency. Both types of donors are kind-hearted, but those of the second kind will see an immediate benefit, whether it is food aid or shelter or whatever is needed.
"The first type will be the ones to supply the buildings, the hospitals, the doctors, the teachers and so on. Equally needed, possibly needed more in the long run than a lot of emergency aid, but not as..." He searches around for the word and finally settles on, "I would say 'glamorous', but that is not what I mean exactly."
"I know what you mean," I agree. "And you're right. Because a lot of our work is in preventing disaster, it's often not possible to quantify it. It's easier to measure the good you're doing if you can count the heads of the people you've saved from starvation, for example."
"I think it does us good to do something directly. It makes doing the preventative work easier. But I do fear that it is our egos that wish to be seen to do good."
"Perhaps." I take a sip of my drink and then say, "I think I've been thinking of this because of what Daniel said about the SGC staff. They don't know what we're doing and some of them resent us coming back to 'their' turf. I wanted to be able to tell them that we're working hard trying to protect them. But they don't see it, they don't see the prevention, and as a result little that they're told about us is going to hold any weight with them. When we were living on Earth, it was different. Mission details spread like wildfire and they knew what we were doing."
"And now they no longer trust that we have their best interests at heart," he agrees. "It is a shame."
"It is. If only because it makes gaining their trust and co-operation that much more difficult. We'll be fine as long as the General is in charge, but he's coming up to retirement, whether forced or not. I'm afraid that when we have a new man in charge, it's going to be tough for us to work with them. If the new general doesn't appreciate what we're doing, we could easily find ourselves out in the cold again."
"I agree. Perhaps it is just as well that we have been acquiring the things that we need and like while we can. I am afraid that when there is a new general, our contribution to the budget may well be forgotten."
"We'll be okay as long as Paul and Anthony remain liaisons, but we can't control what job they do. They could both be promoted or posted elsewhere. When they go, we'll have few friends back home."
He thinks about what I say and then finally offers me a smile.
"But remember this. We have the ship. Even with their ships, they would have difficulty in stopping us visiting. As long as your father remains with the Tok'ra, and remains the Tok'ra liaison to the SGC, we will have a connection."
That comforts me a bit, but I'm determined to make the most of the connections we have, while we have them. Heaven only knows how long they will last.
Sheesh, the guys don't exactly think small, do they? A pipeline a couple of hundred miles long? How much will that cost? I put the question to them and they shrug.
"Does it matter?" Daniel asks. "We've got more of the marble, plenty of silver, gold and platinum, not to mention the jewels. Some of the jewels marked for the Tok'ra could be used."
"I suppose so," I agree. "And it would take the worry away."
We're flying back to Abydos, the satellite in the cargo hold. I'm glad that Jack remembered to fold up the plastic sheeting first, but he'll need to remember to bleach it when we get home. It stinks.
"The elders liked the idea a lot," Jack says. "Daniel's definitely flavour of the month there at the moment."
"I always am," Daniel sniffs. "No need to be so jealous." He pokes his tongue out at Jack and gets the same in reply. Pair of children.
"So, what's the plan when we get there?" I ask, trying to get the conversation back on track.
"We set up the system, check on the Tok'ra, give them the pump..." We brought it with us to save them having to carry it across the desert, for which they were grateful. "Then we say our goodbyes and go home," John states.
"Why don't we go home via the masons?" Frankie asks. "We can see how our home is doing and ask them about the pipeline and how much it would cost us. If we have any time spare at all, we can cut the marble while we wait for the news on Hades."
Sounds good to me. The others agree, so we settle on that. I think it's going to be another long day somehow.
The Tok'ra said that we'll have to transmit a code as soon as we enter the system when the satellite is up and running. It's how they know if it's friend of foe. We're the only ones who'll know the code as the Tok'ra are unlikely to ever want to go there by ship. I'm glad that we're doing this.
All the using of Daniel as an excuse to get the Abydonians to agree to it is paying off. The thing is, it's true. Daniel does worry about them constantly, has done ever since he left them all those years ago. He just doesn't always say anything about it.
When we got back from setting up the reservoir initially, I noticed a difference in how he slept. It was one of the few nights when Abydos had been mentioned or visited during the day before where he didn't speak in Abydonian in his sleep.
We're slipping into their system and the satellite is about to be transported to the correct position on the edge of it. That should give the Abydonians about ten minutes to call us, or Earth, depending on who's available. It's not a huge amount of time to prepare anything, but it's better than nothing.
Sam and Frankie have been pondering the mine problem and they think they know how they're going to do it. By sheer luck, Bastet's system is about five minutes away from Abydos. It won't take long to transport anything from there to here. Unfortunately, there are one hell of a lot of mines to move. I have no idea how long it's going to take to move them all, or even if we can move them all. But we'll give it a damned good try.
Sam is convinced that the tractor beam on Gimli can be configured to take a complete section of the mines, about ten rows wide and the complete depth of them, all in one go. If it can tow a mother ship through hyperspace, there's no reason it couldn't, I suppose.
She says the difference between a big, heavy ship and the much smaller, lighter mines is the one of position. In other words, the ship's in one place, the mines are all over the place. She's literally going to have to tow space as well as the mines.
We're going to try, once we've sorted everything out with the masons. At least it will give us something to do other than building or stone work. There's nothing worse than sitting around and twiddling our thumbs when we know there's a psychotic snake on the loose.
The Tok'ra have gotten one of the al'keshes - we heard today that Thor had delivered another ship with four al'keshes on board, so Hammond called them up and some Tok'ra went to collect one. They're going to stake out the system where Daniel came into contact with Hecate.
"Satellite's in position," Sam says, cutting through my thoughts. "We're just coming up on Abydos. Jack, Daniel, you ready?"
We're going to take the little receiver thing down to Nagada and switch it on. Then we have to find a way to bow out of the party that's undoubtedly being prepared without offending them.
The part of Abydos that Nagada's on is just turning towards the night and I know that that will signal 'party time', it always does. And with more water, more meat, they're so going to make the most of the excuse.
"Got everything?" I ask Daniel.
"Yeah. Uh, Sam, can you transport the cloth and things down when I give the word, please? They're stored in our room."
"I'm on it. Have fun, guys."
"You sure you won't come with us?"
She shakes her head. "No, we'll wait. It'll give you the excuse to leave early."
"Okay, if you insist. Let's go."
"Dan'yel, O'Neill, you have returned."
We turn and see Kasuf making his way towards us.
"Hey, Kasuf. We come bearing gifts. Where should we put the receiver?"
"This is the central place," he states, pointing to the fact that we're in the market square. "This is the one place which has someone here at almost every moment."
"Great. Let's put it... here."
I point out a spot which can be seen from all over the square and isn't in the way. It takes us all of a few seconds to install it and I explain to Kasuf what will happen if an uninvited ship turns up.
Now it's time to sort out the water. "Are the Tok'ra anywhere about?"
He smiles and points in their direction. Daniel and I pick up the pump and start to walk towards them, Kasuf at our side.
"When this is up and running, life should be a lot easier for the womenfolk," Daniel says to him. "No more having to trek through the desert to get water."
"They will be most grateful, my son. As are we all." Then he looks a little serious.
"Kasuf? Is something wrong?"
"Not wrong, O'Neill. But I am worried."
"Oh? What about?"
"The pipeline that was discussed earlier."
"Is there a problem with that?" Daniel asks. "I thought you liked the idea. Don't you want the masons coming here? They're very good workers and we trust them."
To a point. Well, it's not them that we don't trust but their security level. Having said that, I can't see Hades being interested in a water pipe, and it's not as if there was an address on the blueprints Daniel copied with a big map and an X marking the spot, saying 'Hades lives here'.
"It is not that, good son. But we are concerned about how it will be paid for. I know that you assured us that you could pay for it, but we do not wish to take what you cannot afford."
"Don't worry about it, Kasuf," Daniel starts, but I can tell that Kasuf isn't convinced.
"Hey, Kasuf, can you keep a secret?" I ask, stopping and putting down my side of the pump.
The others stop, too, and look at me.
"Of course, O'Neill. What is it that you wish to confide?"
"Well, let's just say that we 'found' some things like pure naquada recently."
I shrug. "They were in the possession of someone who's up to no good. We're in the process of slowing him up. By removing the valuables from him, we're trying to prevent him building ships to try to take over places like Earth."
He nods slowly.
"Undoubtedly they were stolen by him to start with?"
"Either that or they were mined by slaves of his," Daniel agrees. "Think about this. When you and your people were forced to mine naquada by Ra, how would you have felt if he'd used it to build ships to enslave more people?"
"We assumed that he was doing that and we did not like it," Kasuf sighs. "But there was nothing we could do."
"No, there wasn't. You had to survive. You did the right thing. But think how you would have felt if someone had come along and taken the naquada from Ra, to use it against him and to free people like you. Would you have minded all your hard work in that case?"
He shakes his head.
"No, that would have given us great pleasure," he says defiantly.
"So don't worry about it. What we've taken, we're going to use for good. Some of it we've given to Earth for the SGC. Some of it will go to the Tok'ra, who have fought the Goa'uld for thousands of years. The rest, and it's a lot, we are keeping to use for our friends.
"I mean, we could just give you the metal and so on, but because we know the masons, and other people out there that could make your life better, and you don't know them, we thought it would be more sensible for us to spend it on behalf of all the people of Abydos."
Kasuf is smiling brightly now.
"Then I approve. And I thank you greatly."
"Ah, don't thank us yet, Kasuf. We've still to go to the builders to see if they will come. We can't promise anything except that we will try."
"That is what I thank you for, O'Neill. We know that you have us in your hearts and it fills our hearts with joy."
"It is our pleasure, good father," Daniel says quietly.
Kasuf puts his hand on Daniel's shoulder and says, "You are truly a good son."
Daniel's blushing a bit, but he covers for it by bending over and picking up the pump again.
"Come on, we've got some water to pump."
Oh boy, and I thought that an Academy graduation party was noisy. You should hear this. All because water is flowing freely and cleanly from the pump. The woman are singing and dancing and the children are splashing the water over themselves. I haven't often seen a Tok'ra laugh out loud, but the engineers here are practically uncontrollable. I guess they don't often see their work doing good.
Sam told me about her chat with Teal'c earlier and it must be the same for the Tok'ra. How often do they get thanked immediately like this? Many times they do good and no one knows it. It's an ego thing, as Teal'c said, but even the most selfless of people need to be thanked and told they're doing a good job once in a while.
"There's something else," Daniel says. "Uh, we need somewhere clean and dry."
Kasuf looks at me strangely as Daniel wanders off to find a suitable space.
"He's bought you a present," I tell him. "When we gave the precious metals to the SGC, we asked them to buy some things for us, to make our lives and our jobs a bit easier. But Daniel gave the guy who did the buying specific instructions. He has money - uh, that's what we use to buy things," I say, remembering at the last minute that they barter here and there's no intergalactic coinage. "Anyway, he has some on Earth, and he told his friend to use that to buy something for you."
"All of you. You'll see. I think it's mainly for the women, but you guys will benefit from it, too."
"And he gave his own... money?"
"You know what you mean to him, Kasuf. You and Skarra most of all, but he loves all of you. You took him in when he had no one and nowhere to go. You loved him when no one else did. You gave him the most precious thing in your life and he will never be able to thank you enough for that, because she became the most precious thing in his life."
"I never doubted that," he says seriously. "And I never regretted it."
"Let him do this, Kasuf. It'll make him happy."
"Then let us see what he has done now," he replies, his eyes twinkling. I think he's excited.
Daniel's found a suitable area and he's asked that a tent be brought out and laid flat on the ground. He's standing impatiently, waiting for it to happen.
"I hope they like it," he says nervously.
"The women are gonna love it," I tell him. "Making things with the cotton will feel much nicer in their hands, I'm sure."
"Yeah, that's what I thought. There's linen in the mix, too. I thought it would be better for the evenings."
I shake my head in disbelief that he'd thought of it, then realise that he probably thought of doing this for them when he lived here. I can just imagine him lying in bed at night, running his fingers over Shau're's hands, seeing where the rough cloth they have here had hurt her skin and dreaming of making it easier for her. I slip my hand into his and give it a squeeze. He looks at me and grins.
"They love doing embroidery, but there are few plants here that give them the fibres they need to do it and their needles aren't fine enough."
"You're just doing this to get on the good side of the women, aren't ya?" I tease.
"Damn, you got me, O'Neill," he replies. "I know which side my bread is buttered."
The tent is now flat and Daniel lifts up his wrist and calls Sam.
"Send them down, Sam, right in front of me."
Moments later, his gift arrives, to gasps and mutters - probably of 'magic!' - from the people around us. He puts up his hands and speaks to them, showing them the materials, which are all in light colours to reflect the sun. We're talking miles of the stuff, not just yards.
I don't know what he's saying exactly, but I can guess the gist. He's showing the different types of materials, the thinner cottons, the thicker linens. All the materials are natural, he told me when he first thought of it, so that it will let their skin breathe.
The women and girls are gathering around and touching it with reverence. Now he's opening up some large sports bags that came with it and from one of them, he takes out a pair of large scissors and shows how to cut the material with them. I guess they use knives or something here. Again, there are gasps of pleasure and awe. It's amazing how something so simple to me is so magical to them.
He shows them that there are different-sized scissors, probably for different tasks. I don't know, sewing was something I did when I had to, to get a button on or to fix a hole in my jeans or something. Ma did dressmaking so I have a clue, but not too much of one. A guy's got to have some pride.
This is going to be the good bit. He's put his hand in the last bag and pulled out lots of different colours of silks and some cotton reels. He's telling them what cotton to use on what materials, I guess, and taking out some packs of sewing needles and showing them which is used where. I want to know where he learned all this.
It's over, the women are all over him. Some, those I know to be part of his clan, are hugging him and kissing him. He looks a little awkward but very pleased, too. His gift has been accepted for what it is - an act of love.
I feel a hand on my shoulder and turn to see Kasuf staring at me.
"He has been most generous," Kasuf says.
"That's Daniel for you," I shrug. "Look at his face, Kasuf. Tell me he's not as happy as the women."
"He would seem to be."
"And so will you be," I tell him. "The material can be made into robes just as they have in the land of your ancestors. They'll help keep you cool. And they won't itch."
Kasuf laughs out loud and pats my back before going to extract Daniel to rescue him from the throng.
Daniel was looking most ruffled when he returned to the ship. He told us about the reception of the water and the gift from him and then O'Neill told us more about how they reacted to Daniel specifically. Daniel looked a little embarrassed by the fuss.
"What will happen when they run out of material?" Samantha asks. "I know you had thousands of dollars worth brought here, but it will end one day."
"I've made Skarra promise to tell me," Daniel shrugs. "I can always get some more later for them. If not from Earth, from somewhere else. The Minoans have cotton, silk, satin... Lots of luxurious materials that these people couldn't even begin to imagine. I'm sure we can trade with them for more."
I do not say anything about us not including Earth in our definitive plans. The thought of not trading with the Tauri is not a pleasant one.
"So, off to the masons?" Frankie asks.
Even though it is now late, we all agree. If it is dark when we arrive there, we can go home and return in the morning. It will really only take a matter of minutes in Gimli, instead of two days by Mia. I am beginning to wonder if we will ever need the smaller ship again.
O'Neill questioned Daniel about how he knew so much about sewing and Daniel and DJ laughed. They remembered their foster mother and sister as they fought over their mother's insistance that their sister needed to learn how to sew, as 'all ladies needed to have the proper skills'. It would seem that their sister much prefered to help their father with the maintenance of the house and car.
Daniel is now explaining how the women on Abydos will gather together in groups to sew. It is how they have done it for centuries. All of his gifts will be kept in a large building which is used by the women when they wish to come together without the menfolk. He has explained in the past that although their society is patriarchal on the surface, and that the women have to work as hard as the men, they are treated well and are given as much time to be together as is possible.
In all the time that he was there, he never saw a man mistreat his wife. This is unusual in many such societies. Perhaps it has a lot to do with the slavery that they endured. Instead of the men taking out their frustrations on their women, they found that loving relationships were more satisfactory.
He is looking very tired but very happy. It gladdens us greatly to see him like this.
"I must admit to still feeling uncomfortable with their custom of giving their daughters away, Daniel," Samantha sighs. "I mean, how can you justify that?"
Daniel shrugs. "I don't. It's their way. What you can take comfort in is the way they do it. You see, they wouldn't give their daughters away to just anyone. Kasuf gave Shau're to me because he thought the gods had sent me. It was his way of making a sacrifice without spilling blood, but also giving Shau're a level of security and status that she would not have got from being married off to the son of a clan head, which is what would have happened otherwise.
"When there is a marriage, it isn't seen that a daughter is lost to her clan, but that there's a joining of the clans. The new wife is watched over by her blood relatives as much as her new relatives. If a new husband treats his wife badly, everyone knows about it. There are laws set up to protect her and a clan can get a bad reputation if one of their members is seen to be bad. They'd have difficulties marrying off any of their people in future, so it's up to each clan to regulate their own members to protect them all.
"I know that in some societies where women are used as currency in a way, they end up with a financial worth and if they don't have enough sons or whatever, they can lose their value and that can threaten their safety and even lead to their deaths. It isn't like that on Abydos. There is no dowry system, so perhaps that makes a difference."
Samantha nods slowly as she digests his words. I believe that she still does not understand how Daniel could fit in with such a society, but I do. He has always had a respect for other people's traditions, as long as they do not hurt anyone. The Abydonians have been hurt for too long to wish to hurt others. Their way of life, while hard, is honest.
"We're here," Frankie calls. "It looks like there's some activity down there. Must be a 24/7 business."
John, Daniel, DJ, O'Neill and I are on the planet; the rest decided to remain behind on the ship. We are to see if the house is ready and to present a data crystal with a detailed topographical map of the area in which Daniel and DJ wish to place the pipeline.
DJ has spotted our contact and he is making his way to us.
"We're not here too late at night, are we?" Daniel asks when he is within range. "We were just passing and wondered how the house was going."
"It is nearly finished," Calicus replies. "And you may visit at whatever time you wish. There is always someone here who can see to your needs. Come, come, see your new home."
We follow him to the area where MIB's house is being made and see that he speaks the truth. They are in the process of assembling the roof.
"I don't want to be a pain," DJ says to him, "but would it be possible to double the order of glass that we made, please?"
He looks at us and says, "Don't see why we can't have the same extension as you guys."
"Of course, that will not be a problem, but naturally, it will cost you more."
DJ puts his hand in his pocket and brings out a few medium-sized gemstones.
"Would you accept these as payment?"
"If you have enough," Calicus shrugs.
He studies the gems in some light and determines their value by their colour and size. The smallest are the units of currency, the medium being worth five times as much and the large, ten times. Each type of stone has a level of value, with the opals holding the greatest value and not the diamonds as my Tauri friends had suspected. One small opal is worth one large or ten small garnets, which is the least valuable.
The currency is most complicated, but is accepted on all planets where trade with other civilisations is the mainstay of their local economy, such as here with the builders, or planets where slave auctions are held. O'Neill described them as the equivalent of "intergalactic travellers' cheques."
One of the stones Calicus is now holding is an opal and he seems most taken by its look.
"Five of these," he says. "This size."
"Okay," DJ shrugs. "Sounds a bit expensive but we will want it ready when we come to pick up the materials for the house."
"It will be so ready," Calicus bows, reluctantly handing over the gems.
"Can we take the concrete for the foundations today?" John asks. "We'd like to lay it as soon as possible."
"Of course, of course. I will have it brought to you."
"Bring it to the front of your office," O'Neill states. "We've got a proposition for you. A big project."
Calicus' eyes light up at that thought.
"Follow me!" he says most enthusiastically, so we do.
At last, we're home. Calicus has agreed to send surveyors to Abydos to check on the viability of the project and he'll get back to us when we pick up the house. I dare say his people are very experienced in doing this kind of job and with the technology they have at hand, it won't take them long. He thought that, from the data we've given him, it should be possible. He just wants specific data from certain areas.
Before we left, DJ and I approached him and kind of backed him into a corner.
"We know you keep your client list confidential," I said to him. "But this project is top secret. The only people outside us to know of it will be the people of the planet themselves. If word gets out about it, we will hold you personally responsible. You won't like that if we do."
DJ played 'good cop'. "If it's completed quickly, efficiently and most of all, secretly, we'll pay you in marble. And maybe a few extra of these."
He picked out the opal from his pocket and put it in Calicus' hand. He got the message and nodded greedily.
"So, no 'slips' of security," I said. "No letting the Goa'uld especially know about it."
"No one will discover. I will send only the most trustworthy of my surveyors straight away and will not tell my workers here where the pipeline is to go. Only at the last minute will the captain of the ship that will deliver the materials and those who will put the pipe together know where he is going."
We agreed to that and left feeling a bit more relaxed. It's not as if we think Calicus would sell us out, but the very fact that I saw the blueprints to the palace has set me on edge. It's only that my worry about a future supply of water for the Abydonians outweighs my fears about security is allowing me to think past the Abydonians building the pipeline for themselves.
I'm tired, but my mind is running hard. I can't settle. Something isn't right.
"Daniel? Come on, settle down," Jack says, putting his arm around me and holding me close.
"I can't. I've missed something."
"If I knew that I'd do something about it!"
I wriggle out of his arms and get out of bed, pull on a pair of shorts and say, "You go to sleep, Jack. I need to think."
I leave the room before he can say anything and then I head for the kitchen to make some hot milk. What is wrong? I've done something in the wrong order and I can't figure it out. DAMMIT! I hate it when that happens.
Maybe DJ will work it out. He's not as tired as I am. Where did I put my comms bracelet? Fuck, I wish I had telepathy with him. I look around the kitchen and then the living room as I search for it. My eyes roam the room, the table, the fireplace. I see the VCD... VCD... Alarm... Oh fuck.
I run back into the bedroom and see that I put the bracelet on the bedside table. I hadn't even thought to look there.
"DJ! John! Get up here!"
Jack opens his eyes and asks, "What the fuck is going on?"
"Uh, I know what's wrong."
He gets out of bed and follows me into the living area. I pace up and down it as I wait for the others and see Jack heading to the kitchen. It's then that I realise that I'd gotten as far as putting the milk on to heat. I hadn't even noticed that I'd done it. He waits till it's ready then takes the pan off the stove and pours the milk into a mug, stirring some sugar in before handing it to me.
"Here, drink this," he orders. "It might calm you down."
DJ and the rest of MIB enter the room, the guys looking a bit pissed and half-dressed. Oh hell, I must have disturbed something. The noise has brought Sam and Teal'c out, too, and they look just as tired as I feel.
"What's up?" John asks.
"The early warning system," I say.
They look at me as if I've gone mad.
"What about it?"
"We set it up and sent the surveyors there."
It dawns on them what's wrong and their faces drop.
"What are we going to do?"
"Someone's going to have to go there and fast," I say. "We'll need to send the code. It's not like we can give them the code, is it?"
"Depends on how much we trust them," Jack sighs. "If we don't give them the code, we'll have to be around when they go there to build the thing, too, and we might be elsewhere."
I drop my head into my hands. In my desperate attempt to keep my people safe, I might be putting them in danger.
"Can we change the code later?" DJ asks.
"Yes, it's possible."
"Okay, how about we run over to them now, hopefully catch them before they go. We can give the ship's captain the instructions. Then we tell them that we'll give them a new code the next time they want to go there. We'll change it whenever they visit."
"That'll mean we'll have to visit them in the next day or so," I say.
DJ shrugs. "We'll only have to get into the system. We can do that anytime."
I nod silently. Then I say, "Guess I'd better get dressed."
John puts his hand on my shoulder. "Drink that, go to bed. We'll do it."
I look up at them and see them all nodding.
"Okay, okay, thanks. I'll see you in the morning."
"I wish you'd stop thinking sometimes," Jack sighs as we get back into bed.
"It's not possible," I mutter. "Besides, it was necessary."
"True. Anyway, now it's time to rest. Lie on your back and shut your eyes."
"I don't sleep on my back, you know that."
"Who said anything about sleeping?" he asks.
Ah. I do as I'm told and soon feel him lying on top of me and kissing me softly. Hmm, that's lovely. I could do this all ni...
"Oh, you're awake."
I open my eyes and see Jack staring at me. Part of him looks annoyed but I can see that underneath it, he isn't.
"Well, I know the spark has gone, but you didn't have to fall asleep on me."
I try to remember but realise I haven't got a clue what he's talking about.
He can't hold back, he's laughing at me.
"Last night. When I was kissing you."
His eyes are telling me that he's not really cross with me.
"Hope you're not going to keep doing it," he teases.
"Why don't you test me?"
"Not sure if I can take the rejection," he sniffs.
I reach out to him and pull him on top of me, wrap my arms around him and hold him close.
"Try," I whisper.
He grins and then ducks his head down and starts to kiss my earlobe before trailing more kisses down my jawbone.
"You need to shave," he grumbles, but that doesn't stop him.
"So do you."
I twist my head so that I can kiss him back and copy his movements. He kisses my neck and then I kiss his. We spend ages like this, exchanging touches, kisses, nips...
I feel one of his hands make its way to the shorts that I must have left on last night and he tugs at them. With difficulty, I raise my hips to allow him more access and soon feel them sliding down my thighs but getting no further. I run my hands over his bare ass and trail my fingers through the crack. He responds by pushing against me. That feels good but I want him closer.
I whisper in his ear, "Fuck me," and hear the low, almost primal groan that comes from the base of his throat.
Reluctantly, he moves off me, then pushes me slightly so that I turn over. I love it like this, being taken from behind. Don't know why. It's not like I don't like facing him, but there's something so basic about this that it's just so much better. It's like being owned, used, not needing to think or react. Sometimes I need that more than I need to see him. He always seems to know it, too.
His instruction comes and I feel the cloth that we keep nearby being put underneath me, a pillow pulled under it to raise my hips for him. Jack's thought, the first time he put this down, was to keep the sheet clean, but I found that I particularly loved the sensation of the rough cloth against my hard cock, especially when he's fucking me like this. The next thing I feel is the coolness of the lube as he starts to put some inside of me. I push back onto his fingers, fucking myself on them.
I know he's watching me do this, I can feel it. It never fails to turn him on, or me for that matter. My ass feels full as he puts more fingers into the mix, I don't know how many there are but I want more. Always want more.
"Fuck," I mutter, slowing down and pulling myself off his fingers. If I don't, I'm going to come. Don't want that yet, not yet. Not until he's in me, all the way, screwing me into the mattress, pushing me against the cloth, breathing into my neck... biting me...
It doesn't take him long before he's sticking his cock inside me. I know exactly what he was feeling, that he needed a moment to calm before doing this. I've made him come by fucking myself on his fingers before now; as I came, so did he, all over me. And he hadn't even touched himself. He watches it with such intensity that he feels like he's actually fucking me. But this time, he wants to come inside me, and I want that, too.
I fold my arms and rest my head on them, my ass up as high as it can go for the moment as he starts to ride me like a cowboy at a rodeo. One hand is on my hip, pulling me back as he pushes forward. The other hand is on my shoulder, pushing my head down.
I'd bet that to an outsider, this would look rough, not loving at all, but I know different. He's giving me what I want and you don't get more loving than that. I know he's looking down, watching as best he can as his cock disappears inside me. It's a sight that never fails to fascinate him.
Once, back on Earth, we escaped for a weekend to a motel; one of those really tacky places with lots of gold paint and mirrors. He couldn't stop watching in the mirrors as he fucked me from every angle. He even took a video of it, a close-up of the most pornographic things we've ever done.
It was tasteless, trashy, cheap, but we didn't care. We ate and drank in bed, watched ourselves on the TV in the room, fucked as we watched it, videoed ourselves watching the video... We had to burn the tapes before we went home, going to a place in the woods where we gave them a 'ceremonial' send-off. We couldn't take the chance on someone ever finding them. It had been a bad couple of weeks before that and we needed to literally fuck them out of our heads.
How either of us sat during the following week, I don't know.
He's getting close, I can hear it in his breathing. My hips have been pushed down into the pillow and the roughness of the cloth is scratching at my dick. God, that feels so fucking good. It won't be long, he's laying over me, covering me like an animal when it's rutting. Guess that's what we're doing right now. Feels like it. Sounds like it. It's a good word for it.
I feel his teeth sink into my shoulder as he comes and it sets me off. I let out a yell into a pillow, not caring if it muffles the sound or not. His thrusts slow to little more than a nervous twitch as his cock softens, my hips responding in kind as I finish fucking the pillow beneath me.
Finally, he stops moving and I can only hear his harsh panting breath as he struggles to regain some air in his lungs. I can't breathe with his whole body weight on me, and picking up on that, he reluctantly pulls out of me and rolls to my side, his top arm wrapping itself around my waist so that we're still connected.
"See," I say, no louder than a whisper. "Still awake."
He chuckles but says nothing, dropping a kiss on my nose before shutting his eyes.
MIB are back. They ended up having to take Gimli back to Abydos' system to await the arrival of the surveyors. Kar Shel, putting a hat on to cover his 'tattoo' (it can't be a real one, can it? I don't know. Perhaps I should ask.) and pretending to be Teal'c, accompanied them to the surface to introduce them to the elders. They've left instructions with Calicus to wait for us to take them back to the system to build the pipeline when the parts are finally constructed. They're guessing that it will take a few months before everything is ready, so we'll pop back there every so often to check up on their progress.
We're going to cut a huge block of marble as the final payment for the pipe and use the transporter on Gimli to move it. Later today, we're going to gate over there with a down payment in gems.
Daniel and DJ have headed to the tunnels to look at the images DJ took of the trunks. If they can make some sort of sense out of them, it may give us a clue about Hades and his intentions.
We can't move the mines to Abydos until the pipeline is constructed, so we're having to rely on the alarm system to let us know if there is an attack on them. John had a great idea and left a couple of radios with Kasuf. One of them will be in the pyramid, the other will be with him in Nagada. If an attack comes by ship, he'll be able to radio the guards in the pyramid and they're under instructions to either call us, or, if we're not available, to call Earth for help. It will save a lot of time if they don't have to cross the desert to get the message out.
Frankie and Kar Shel have gone back to Earth to brief the General on what we've done and to ask that the next time Thor arrives in their system - which should be soon - for him to contact us. We'll discuss the possibility of the 'phase machines' being used on Earth.
I'm building a naquada generator. As soon as Frankie comes home, she's going to give me a hand. In fact, we're going to build a few. One, the largest one, will run to a transformer which in turn will power electric cabling which we'll run through the house and the workshop. Eventually, there'll be another one in the tunnels to do the same.
Frankie and I have planned to build a mainframe computer; all the parts we need have been supplied, the best we could possibly get. The idea is that we'll network our laptops to it so we can share information as and when we need to, and will have a computer with much larger 'brainpower' than the individual computers we have now.
Teal'c, Jack and John are in the garden. I've taken one of the small generators we bought from the masons and have connected it to the transformer so that they can operate the electric concrete mixer John asked for. I'm wondering if they'll ever have need of it again. Somehow I think they will, although what for, I don't know.
They're laying the foundations for MIB's house. It would seem that the guys are getting more and more interested in moving over here and are less and less bothered by the idea. They're certainly working enthusiastically on the foundations, but then that could be because they've got a big boys' toy to play with.
The weather is starting to close in on us, which is why I'm hurrying to get power to the house. During the summer, we haven't had to worry too much about lighting at night, the candles and oil lamps we have have been sufficient. But we're at a fairly high latitude, so it's going to start getting dark early soon, and I doubt the candles will be enough. If I don't get the generator built in time, we can use one of the smaller ones, but it will only power the house, not the workshop. They really are tiny.
All the spare ones are going to be used to power the various vehicles we've brought here. I'm going to have to convert their engines to run off naquada instead of their normal fuel. I understood why Jack decided on the skidoos, as we may need them to get around in the snow. They, and the quad-bikes will also allow us to explore further and faster on some of our exploratory missions.
Anyway, we're pretty relaxed now. As relaxed as we can be, anyway. Everything that can be done has been done when it comes to protecting Abydos and Earth, and that which isn't done is being prepared or discussed. All we can do now is wait for the word from the Tok'ra.
Whenever that will come.