Summary: It's time for Sam to engineer a solution to a potentially disastrous problem. And Daniel isn't without his own problems.
Yay, my betas are back. Thanks to Joy and Fabi :-))) Missed ya.
George has just gone home. It's unusual for him to come here directly, but this is an emergency. I have to get to Abydos, and now.
"Hold on, Daniel, we're all going," Jack insists.
"Then hurry up! We need to get a move on."
The others meet me at the DHD; I dial up, the wormhole swooshes into life and we step through.
We hear Skarra's voice and soon we see him as he steps into the shadows and out of the light near the doorway. He doesn't look too well, though he sounds happy to see us.
In moments, we are hugging each other tightly. I hold him close and notice that he's thinner than normal. Everyone here is slender all the time, but this is unusual.
"Skarra, what's wrong?" I demand. "General Hammond came to see us. He said you'd been having problems but that he was under orders to only help out minimally. What's going on?"
"The rains failed," he tells me. That's enough.
"Daniel? The rains? It rains here?" Sam interrupts.
"Not here. Further up the river. There are some mountains about a hundred miles away. That's where the river comes from."
"River? Oh yeah, I remember you telling us about it. Where is it again?"
"It's on the other side of Nagada. Oh, you haven't been there, either, have you? It's the town. Takes an hour or so to walk to it from here."
"The Abydonians are semi-nomadic, Sam. Nagada is the main permanent settlement, but all the clans have their own areas they take care of. Kasuf's clan, my family, are the stone masons. They come here and work the stone nearby, making blocks for building and so on. Other clans fish, farm... we all exchange goods in Nagada every so often.
"Every so many years, the rains in the mountains fail. When that happens, the flood doesn't occur, the land isn't soaked and fertilised with the silt so the crops don't grow. The fish start to disappear, the water becomes brackish... survival is difficult."
"Why don't you move to another part of the planet?" Jack asks.
Skarra shakes his head. "But Nagada is our home!"
"Jack, they wouldn't survive anywhere else," I point out. "They're used to this life. Their animals are used to the food here. If they suddenly went somewhere more lush, people and animals would get sick."
"Laminitis," Sam says, earning herself confused looks. She shrugs and continues. "It's a lameness that horses can get when they eat too much lush grass or a rich diet. Not all of them get it. Those that do are banned from going out in good grass fields and have a restricted diet or the lameness comes back."
"Yeah, I see what you're getting at. It's like that, but there are also stomach complaints. You know how you feel if you've eaten a lot of rich food, for example. Imagine how you'd feel if that was all you had to live on. Until you got used to it, you'd be very sick. Some animals would die, I'm sure."
"So, what can we do?" Jack asks.
"What do you need, Skarra?"
"Water. With that, we can save our people and animals. General Hammond has kindly sent through some emergency supplies. He said that he was allowed to help a little. He gave us as many sacks of grain as he could, but we have no water to mix with it to make bread."
"Then that's what we're going to do," Sam announces.
She's smiling. So are the rest of us. She's got a problem to solve and she's really good at that.
Something to get my teeth into at last. A really useful problem to solve. We need to get them a back-up water supply.
"Is your water supply usually reliable?"
Skarra says, "Oh yes. But some years, it is less than others. The old ones say that the rains failed when they were young."
"So it's not a constant problem. That's good."
"We need to build a container," Teal'c says, eyeing up a box on one side.
"A reservoir of sorts," I agree. "But where would we build it?"
I look at Daniel because he knows this place a lot better than the rest of us.
"Inside the pyramid," he says thoughtfully.
"Why?" It's not just me that asks that, it's everyone. Including Skarra.
"Think about it. Outside the pyramid, we have sand dunes and many violent sandstorms. If we had it out there, it would get full of sand in no time. Even the oasis, large as it is, suffers from those. Also, it gets hot here. Over a hundred degrees daily during the summer. It's not a whole lot cooler in the winter. The water would evaporate.
"Inside the pyramid is also neutral territory. None of the clans war, it's never happened here, but during a time of crisis, if the reservoir was in an area that belonged to a particular clan, who knows what would happen? No, it has to be inside the pyramid. All the people of Abydos are guaranteed safe passage here and inside it. Besides, how else would we get the water here?"
"There's no water on Abydos that we can easily access, Sam. We have to bring it through the gate."
Oh boy. Now we're in trouble. How in hell's name are we going to do that?
Skarra has gone with Daniel and Jack to see Kasuf. Daniel has pointed out a suitable room, which is used for nothing except storage and is right next to the gateroom. It's not particularly large, though, and wouldn't hold enough for all the people on Abydos - or at least the tribes in this area.
If we were to dig...
"Do you think we could dig a reservoir in here?" I ask Teal'c.
He taps the ground with his staff weapon. It's hard.
Daniel? Can you hear me?
Sure, Sam. What's up?
We might need to dig here but the ground is really hard. Are the people able to do that?
Why not use explosives? Jack asks.
NO! Daniel's voice rings through our heads making Teal'c and me jump - much to the consternation of the Abydonians that are watching us.
Naquada! It's in the ground. You might trigger a reaction or something.
Ah, okay, Jack soothes. Forgot. Yeah, bad idea. So, digging?
That would take too long.
Daniel pauses. We can hear him thinking. His mind is a jumble of thoughts. Finally, we get, The Tok'ra! Sam, go see them and see if you can get them to give you some crystals.
Of course! That would be much easier and will give a solid, watertight edge to it.
Seems like that idea is going well, says Jack. Before he can say any more I realise he's cracked it. Not a reservoir.
A well! That will be safer. I was worried about a reservoir because the kids might want to dive into it. It would be so deep they could get into trouble. If we get them to make a well, with a reservoir at the bottom, we can build a cover for it so the kids can't get into it.
Great idea, Sam! Daniel enthuses. You'd better get going. When you do, think of how we're going to get water from Annwn to Abydos.
Why Annwn? Jack asks.
Why not? We have a clean, fresh water supply. Not only that, if we're able to build a semi-permanent system for getting the water through, we can make sure it's available whenever they need to refill the well. If we have to rely on another water supply, there's always the possibility that we'd have to rebuild the system each time.
He's got a point. Not to mention that as the summer heats up on Annwn, the waterfall is getting more and more, er, lively, as the ice melt increases. We have more than enough water to spare. The waterfall's excess goes into the lake, which in turn drips down through another waterfall on the opposite side of the lake to the house and into the valley below. Even if we take a couple of thousand gallons of water, I don't think it would make any difference to our environment. It would soon be replaced anyway.
So how am I going to make a water system? This is going to be a tough one. First things first, Teal'c and I go visit the Tok'ra.
We've arrived in Nagada. Daniel's face is unreadable. He's happy to be here, I'm sure. He loves to see his in-laws, but he's worried sick about them. Not only that, he's reminded more about Shau're. Not that he forgets her, ever, but this is closer, more real. I can see tears before bedtime.
He's also worried about what's going to happen between the clans. As he says, the Abydonians never war, but he knows as well as I do, desperate times call for desperate measures. If we can't help them with food and water, desperation is going to set in.
Kasuf is standing at the doorway to his house. Daniel greets him in Abydonian - I haven't got a clue what he's saying, but he's kneeling in front of Kasuf, and the old man has just put his hands on Daniel's head, as if in blessing. It's obviously some ritual. The prodigal son has returned. Finally, Daniel gets up and Kasuf turns to me.
"O'Neill. I thank you for coming. Once again we turn to you in our hour of need."
"That's okay, Kasuf," I say. "You're family. We take care of our own, you know that."
He smiles broadly - I think I just said the right thing, but I'm not overly sure why. Daniel looks at me and nods slightly.
You just mentioned family, Jack. Trust me, that's the right thing to do. At the moment, Kasuf needs to be shown to be in charge. I'll explain more later.
He cuts our link; I guess I'll find out more when I need to, but now he needs to concentrate on Kasuf.
"Gather all the clan heads," he tells him. "We need to talk."
Kasuf doesn't question him, he just does as he asks. I'm not surprised, Daniel's using his 'teacher' voice.
I watch as the people look at him. That they love him isn't in question. You only had to see how upset they were when he left them all those years ago to see that. That they admire him also isn't in question. He was the brains behind the rebellion after all. He taught them to read and write, he taught them about their ancestors. He freed their minds as much as their bodies.
But they're also in awe of him; a little afraid, possibly. Not Kasuf or Skarra, they just treat him as one of the family, but the others. They look at me like that. I can understand. I have my P90 strapped to me - a normal precaution when I come here, just in case of attack. When they first met me, I wasn't exactly friendly. The fact that Daniel is walking right next to me, unafraid and obviously a part of me, helps them not be too afraid.
Daniel takes me to a large tent. I'm confused. There are lots of buildings here.
"This is the neutral ground," he tells me as we enter it. "All the buildings belong to various clans. This tent belongs to no one. It's used for inter-clan discussions and also for dispensing justice."
"I see. This justice stuff. How does that work?"
"There aren't any judges as such, but the heads of each clan get together. When someone has committed a crime, they're brought here, both sides are listened to, mitigating circumstances are taken into account, then they collectively decide on a suitable punishment. There are only a few set punishments."
"Oh? Such as?"
"If you kill someone deliberately, you die. If you kill someone accidentally, in a fight, say, you're banished. If you commit adultery, both parties are flogged, their possessions are taken and they're divorced automatically. If you rape, you're publicly castrated then killed. After that, all the other punishments are seen to be fit for the crime, and they all depend on the circumstances.
"For example, there was a small child who was caught stealing bread in the market. Now, they knew that the kid wasn't really responsible for his actions, but they wanted to know why he'd done it. When they realised that he was far too thin for a child of his age, they called his parents in. They, too, were determined to be underweight. As there wasn't a famine at the time, this was strange. The father was known to be a good fisherman, so it didn't make sense.
"The clan head, by now, was shifting about awkwardly and the others realised that he had something to do with it. After some investigation, it turned out that the clan were being forced to give all their catch to him and he was passing out barely enough for them to live off, while he was selling the rest and making a fortune.
"So, he was found guilty of the theft of the bread, as well as being unfit to be a clan head. He had all his possessions taken off him and distributed among his clan and his younger brother was installed as head in his place."
"Neat idea," I say. "It seems fair and just, too." But I can't help but add, "Public castration?" I can't get that image out of my head.
He shrugs. "There hasn't been a rape on Abydos in living memory."
Not surprised, really.
There's a noise at the tent entrance and I see a whole load of old guys. I think that this is it. Now all I have to do is figure out why Daniel called them here.
After the initial greetings, we got down to business. Most of it's being conducted in Abydonian, so I have no idea what's being said. Daniel's giving me a quick translation whenever he can. He's trying to explain what we're going to do, but as he hasn't got a total plan of action, he's finding it hard.
Daniel, why must we talk to all these guys?
Like I said, the pyramid's neutral territory. It's also a kind of 'holy place'. If we're going to put the well inside it, we'll need their permission. I'm trying to explain why it's necessary.
Ah, got you. Is that all?
I'm trying to prevent a civil war.
Okay, now that's come as a shock.
Remember what I said about the clan with the new head?
Well, that happened in the year that I was here. The new head is trying to establish his claim to be the head - it takes years for that authority to become... real, for want of a better word. Some of his clan weren't keen that other clan heads had decided what was best for them. So he needs to be seen as strong. By making demands, he thinks he's going to do that.
I need to know how he's dealing with this, so he agrees to think in English, even as he speaks in Abydonian. I don't know how he does it, as I know he doesn't always think in English anyway. What this means is that I can listen in to the arguments.
"How do I know that my clan will have access to the water?" the Abydonian's demanding.
"Because you have the law on your side," Daniel says with forced patience. "And because our clan gives its word. That's always been good enough for you in the past, hasn't it?"
"But that was when there was enough water to go around."
I can see Daniel's going to lose patience in a moment.
"Daniel, translate this for me, will ya?"
They all fall silent and turn to look at me.
"How many clans are there?" I start, then deliberately point at each man and count out loud. "Ten? Right. So, we have nine clans seeing that the sensible course of action is to agree to our idea and one who can't get his head out of his ass."
Daniel looks at me in shock and I nod at him. "Verbatim, Daniel."
He grins and does as I ask. The other clan heads snigger and the awkward one looks cross.
"The way I see it, we can do one of three things. One. We can give up. Not help. Go home."
Daniel stiffens, but translates what I say.
"Two. We can find somewhere else to put the water, but on Kasuf's clan's land. It's up to him whether you guys have the access or not. If I were him, I'd allow it for the eight clans that are agreeable, but not the other one."
Sulky-clan-head is now furious-clan-head. The others see what I'm up to and nod in agreement.
"Or three, we can just put the well in anyway and see what your clan members think about it. I think that once they see the water and food that we'll supply, they'll decide to get a more amenable head, don't you?"
Funny that, we got our permission.
The Tok'ra seemed reluctant to help us at first, claiming that they were too busy. Samantha pointed out, not very gently, that if they wanted our help in future, they'd get a move on and help us now. People's lives are at stake. We cannot wait. They were still reluctant, so I took my staff weapon and marched into the room where Medusa is being held and then pointed it at the queen.
We have our crystals.
We are now back on Abydos, and after reporting to O'Neill and getting permission, Samantha has started to create the well. One crystal has been used to create the shaft. She is now attached to a rope and is being lowered down to the bottom. She has a few more crystals and they will open up the ground beneath us to make a large cavern. It should only take a moment. The Abydonians are in awe of the power of the crystals and I hear comments such as 'it is magic'.
"It is not magic. It is just superior building technology," I tell them in their language. "There is nothing to fear. Now, to keep your people safe and to stop them falling into the well, you will need to create a cover. Are there any stonemasons here?"
Two young men say they are.
"Then you should measure the shaft and carve a suitable cover from stone. Make it light enough to be moved, yet strong enough so that it will not break. You must understand, if anyone falls down here, they could die. This is not acceptable. Eventually, it would be advisable to build a wall around the shaft. This may help prevent an accident."
They look serious as they take my instructions to heart. One of them orders another person to stand guard, to protect the children who are likely to want to look down the shaft while another uses some rope to measure the gap. Then they leave the pyramid.
Samantha calls to me and I pull her up.
"There, it's all done. That should hold a lot of water," she announces as she stands on her feet again. "Now, next problem. How do we get it here?"
"We have a maximum of thirty-eight minutes to transfer any water," I remind her.
"In one go," she agrees. "We can do one of two things. Either we can pump water through or we can let it happen using gravity."
"The second option would be better," I point out. "A pump would either need to be used manually or mechanically. Manually would require a lot of physical effort and quite possibly a change of person on the pump regularly, and mechanically, you would need a power source. Gravity is constant."
"Okay. So, how are we going to transfer the water? The distance between the gate and the waterfall is about five hundred yards."
This is going to be difficult.
An old man walks into the room in which we are standing and looks at the shaft. He says nothing, but instead takes out a large pipe and puts some dried leaf into it. From a pocket in his robes, he takes out what looks like a wick, places it into the flaming torch, then lights his pipe.
"Pipe," Samantha says. "We need lots and lots of drain pipe!"
"Yes! Call Jack, we need to talk to General Hammond."
"Why aren't these people freaked out about the way we look?" Jack asks as we stroll back to the pyramid, the clan heads in tow.
"Uh, oh probably because you look a lot like you did when they first saw you, me too. Only Kasuf's clan for the most part have seen you since those first couple of meetings. And don't forget, they're used to Goa'uld staying young. They'll accept alien intervention without question. I told Kasuf what happened when we first met today anyway. Because he is accepting us, they will."
"Cool. By the way, do you think I should call Hammond directly or leave a message for him?"
"It'll have to be direct, Jack. We don't have the time to mess about."
"Okay. I'll need to go home then - my radio's back there."
"We'll all need to go home, anyway, Jack. Despite them only asking for water, we really need to get them more food. If only to give them a bit of variety."
"Yeah. It would be a good idea to take some of the hunters from Abydos with us. We could do with the help. Have you any ideas where we could go to get them some large animals?"
Jack thinks for a moment, then says, "Yeah. Remember that T and I found a large herd of what look like buffalo. We should be able to find them easily enough. There are literally thousands of them; taking a few won't hurt. We'll have to use Mia, though."
"I think I can persuade them to do that."
Stopping in the sand, I call the heads together and tell them what we've discussed. Their eyes light up at the thought of a good meat supply. I ask that the best hunter from each clan comes to the pyramid and with us. I tell Kasuf that I'll take Skarra with me, too, and that makes him happy.
As the eldest of the clan heads, he's in effect the leader of the Abydonians. Skarra has to be seen to be a suitable heir. What with his time with the Goa'uld, he's still viewed with suspicion by a few. Helping to provide food and water at a time of need will at least show that he's got their best interests at heart.
The word goes out and a runner is sent to retrieve the names given by the heads. All the best hunters are known anyway - they're all renowned. Despite each clan having a specific task within Abydonian society, all clans have to provide some young men for the hunt; the croc hunt, the lizard hunt... There are certain ritual hunts throughout the year which are used as much to bind the clans together as to provide food.
As soon as we arrive in the pyramid, we give Sam and Teal'c an update on what's going to happen. Teal'c's eyes lit up at the prospect of a hunt, and he and Jack are busy discussing the best way to go about it. I suggest a mix of prey to give variety in the food. The people here are experts at preserving food, with smokehouses, salt houses, drying houses and so on littered throughout Nagada and the surrounding district, so quantity isn't going to be to much of a problem.
"Fish!" Jack suddenly says. "You guys like fish, right?"
They look confused so I translate with a grin. Oh yeah, they like fish.
"Freshwater fish, though, Jack. They don't travel a long way to the sea to get saltwater fish."
"Just as well the lake's full of fresh water, then, isn't it?" he says with a grin. "Uh, do they have any nets? We lost ours on Remoc."
I pass on the request to the family of the reluctant clan head, Yakib, and wait for his reaction. It's not a bad one; this is going to give him the chance to look good. He quickly gives the order for the best net to be brought to the pyramid, and his best fishermen, too.
I show the heads the well and they look impressed. Then I tell them that we will bring water here and it can be stored underground to keep it fresh and clean. Their smiles are getting broader and broader.
Jack says that he and the others should go back to Annwn so that they can measure up what they need and ask George for it. I'll stay here, giving me the chance to catch up with Kasuf and Skarra as I wait for everyone else to turn up.
Jack gives me a funny look before he steps through the gate to leave me on Abydos. He'll be seeing me in a few minutes, it's not like he isn't going to see me again, but it was the exact same look he gave when he went home to leave me with Shau're. All of a sudden, my heart has sunk and my whole body has gone numb. Doesn't he expect me to go back to him? Doesn't he want me back?
Oh God, I haven't been talking in my sleep, have I? No, of course I haven't. Even if I did, up till this moment, Jack's been perfectly normal with me. So what the hell was that all about? Okay, I know I've been a bit grouchy, but I've got good reason to be. It'll pass.
"Good son? What is it that troubles you?"
I turn and see Kasuf staring at me, and I realise that I'd been staring at the inactive gate.
"Uh, nothing, good father. I was just thinking of something, that's all. Tell me, how are you really? Are you all hungry?"
"It is not too bad, yet," he admits. "But when the floods did not happen, and had not happened for more than twenty days after they were expected, we knew to prepare for famine. I am sorry that we had to turn to you again."
"What? Why? You are my family, Kasuf. I know I no longer live among you, but I could not and would not want you to turn to anyone else. I will give you my new planet's address," I add. "If you need me, then you call me first, okay? I'm sorry I wasn't around for you before, but things happened on our planet, and we had to hide. If I had come here, I may have brought trouble for you from the enemies we had on Earth. They're gone now, so it's safe for us to visit."
He listens to my ramblings without interrupting me, and, I guess, realises that something is troubling me but that I'm not going to admit to it. Kasuf is a wise man.
"Okay, we need four hundred and eighty yards of drainpipe," I say, "with flexible joints between each section."
"Is that all?" the General drawls, sounding a little shocked by our request.
"Uh, from you? Yes, Sir, that's all. We need to get the water to them quickly, Sir. If you have to pay for it privately, you can use my..."
"Daniel's," Jack interrupts. "He'd insist on it."
"Yeah," I agree. "Daniel's account."
George is silent for a moment, then he agrees. "It will be with you as soon as we can get it there. It may take a while."
It's probably going to take every single foot of drainpipe in the Springs, Denver and Boulder, I think.
"The sooner the better, Sir. We have a well dug and waiting for it, and some very thirsty people."
"I will send it to Abydos when it's here," he says.
"Um, no, Sir, this is for us. We're going to transfer our water to them. We need the pipe to get the water from the waterfall to the gate."
"Very well. How will you get it through the gate and out the other end?"
"That's my next problem, Sir," I say with a grin. "It'll be solved before we get the pipe, though, I'm sure."
"Somehow, I have no doubt. Good luck, people."
While we wait for Daniel to come home, we discuss how we're going to 'catch' the water both from the waterfall and from the gate.
"If I were filling a bottle from a tap," I say, "I'd use a funnel."
"So you need to make a funnel," Jack says. "Uh, would a wooden one do?"
I don't see why not. It's not as if it's got to hold out for a long time, so we don't have to worry about it rotting.
"Sure. Um, Teal'c? Do we have some trees already cut down but not turned into planks or other sections yet?"
"I have four awaiting my attentions," he intones.
"Great! I think I've solved our problems. We'll need to use the Tok'ra tools though, time isn't something we have a lot of. First things first, we need to make a funnel."
Jack says he'll wait for Daniel. He's really quiet at the moment. I'm not sure why, it's not as if he hasn't been separated from Daniel before, and he'll be home soon.
I go with Teal'c to the trees and explain what I have in mind. We'll need to cut one chunk of trunk and carve it so that one end will go inside a drain pipe and the other will open out like a funnel. Then we need to hollow it out so the water can flow through as quickly as we can make it.
With the rest of the trees, I want to do something similar, making a sort of 'half' drain pipe, like guttering I guess but a lot wider. If we can get some rocks on Abydos, the C-shape hollowed trunk can then sit on them, with a slope down. When the water comes out of the gate, the wooden half-pipe can catch it and the water will run down it. We need to turn two corners, too, so below the end of the first one, another hollow trunk can catch the water and take it in a different direction. The final one will take it to the well.
All we need to know is the distances so we can cut them to the right length. Oh, and I need to let Daniel in on the plan so he can organise things his end.
With a few words to Teal'c, I go off to see Jack, who's trying to prepare Mia for the hunting trip by clearing out the cargo hold. We have some spare plastic sheeting here and he's going to lay it on the floor to try to keep the blood off it.
"Jack, I need to go to Abydos to get some measurements," I inform him.
He looks at me, his lips tight and he gives me a curt nod.
"Find out what's keeping Daniel while you're at it, will ya?"
Okay, now I'm really confused.
Calm the fuck down, will ya, O'Neill? It's not like you're not going to see him again.
Sheesh. This is ridiculous. I guess it's just... well, he looks just like he did when we met. His hair's that length again, and fair. The only difference is that he doesn't wear glasses, except his shades which he has on, and he's way bigger built now. Not that you can tell under those damned itchy robes he insists on throwing on whenever he goes there.
With Skarra by his side as he said goodbye to me when I was about to step through the gate, it was like I was being transported back in time. Okay, there was no Shau're, but I could almost see her there. He gave me the same sad look he did when I went back to Earth that first time. Isn't he going to come home?
Stop it! Of course he is.
Of course he is.
But what's up with him, anyway? He's been really grouchy for a couple of days. He hasn't been snapping or anything, but there's definitely something going on in his head. It's almost as if he's feeling guilty about something. Maybe it's to do with Shau're. Yeah, that must be it. I know that sometimes he gets like that. This trip to Abydos can't be helping, either. Poor guy.
Right, the ship's ready. I've got the weaponry ready, too. We'll go to the herd of buffalo or whatever they are, take out as many as we can fit on board and get them back here and through the gate as soon as possible. We'll also go to a forest nearby where there are some boars. Daniel says that the people of Abydos don't have a religious problem with eating various meats, so I'm not worried about offending them. As far as I know, we don't have any crocs for them to eat. Pity. I'd love to have seen Daniel 'gater wrestling.
The gate is opening and I look to see who's coming through. First thing, though, I get a crackle on my radio.
"Ah, Jack. We have some of the drainpipe you asked for. We'll send it through now so you can make a start on whatever it is you're constructing."
"Thanks, Sir. Don't ask me exactly what Carter has in mind, it's usually safer not to know these things."
I hear him laughing a little, then he says, "Understood. The rest of the pipe will come in the next hour. We've been... insistent."
"I'll bet you have," I laugh as I reply. "Thanks, George. We appreciate it."
"Good luck with this. I'll be in touch soon."
I call Teal'c and the two of us go to the gate in time to see vast quantities of plastic pipe appear. We grab them and move them up and onto the grass away from the vortex so we don't lose any when the gate reopens later.
"Samantha will want to attach this to the mountain wall," Teal'c says calmly.
"Any idea how we'll do that?"
"Not yet. I fear it will be another problem for her."
"Ah, don't worry about it, T. She's happy when she's got to wrap her head around stuff like this."
"Indeed. She is also pleased to be helping the people directly by her actions. So often, her problem solving has been for a part of an overall problem. This time, it is the whole of it."
I nod. I see what he's getting at. Sam's ruling the roost for this little 'mission' and it's doing her good. So many times in the past her brains have been set to a task to make something a little easier, or as Teal'c says, a part of the whole. She rarely gets to run the show. For someone with her smarts, it would be a nice change to let her imagination run riot and make a physical, obvious immediate difference to five thousand people.
While we wait for the word, I go back to the house and get the boat out. I inflate it - unfortunately, we have a foot pump to do this and it takes an age. I can't keep it inflated and on the water or it will perish over time. I only usually use the boat about once a week, so it's a matter of deflating it and re-inflating it whenever I need it. Still, it's good exercise, kinda like walking up and down stairs. With no gym here, we have to take our exercise where we can get it.
A gym... hmm... now there's a thought. Next time we go home, we could get some equipment. Yeah, we'll do that. And maybe a solid dinghy. Ooh - if we can make a cloak for the big ship, I could get a really big fishing boat for the ocean...
Change foot, pump, puff, gah. I really do need some exercise.
O'Neill is preparing to fish, though I feel that he will not get out onto the water. We will need him to aid us on the main hunt.
Samantha has asked me to assist her with the drainpipes and we are using the joints to create a long one. Her plan is to put the funnel that I have created into what she calls an L bend joint which is at one end of the pipe. The funnel will catch the water, the bend will take the water into the pipe which she is fixing to the side of the mountain by carving out a niche in the rock and into which the pipe will slot. It is higher than the gate and the pipe will gradually drop along its length until it reaches the gate, and when there, it will enter the event horizon just over halfway up.
By using flexible joints between each pipe, we are able to shape the pipe along its length, allowing us to slot it into further niches that she has carved out. Using the Tok'ra cutting tool, it has not taken her long to do that. When we get to the end, she will use more flexible joints and pipe cut to appropriate lengths so that we can aim the water directly into the event horizon. It will have to go inside it and we will therefore have to time the opening of the gate so that we do not lose the end of it when it shuts down.
As soon as she is ready, I will go through the gate with the logs that I have carved out. They are twice as wide as the drain pipes, giving us spare room to catch the water without losing too much.
I have sent a message through to Abydos for the people to gather up stones of sufficient size on which we can rest the logs, also giving us a gradual declination from the entrance of the water to the well. By doing it this way, we will make best use of gravity, and will hopefully fill the well without too much effort.
Given the size of the reservoir under the well and the rate of water flow, Samantha has calculated that it will take at least five attempts at dialling up to fill it. We are allowing thirty minutes for each connection, giving the Abydonians time to remove the logs and stones and us time to stop the flow of water before the wormhole shuts down. That way, when we dial up again, no one and nothing should be in the way of the vortex and nothing should be lost.
We have given ourselves that window because our watches have been slowed slightly and we cannot be completely sure about the timing.
Hammond has sent the remaining pipes to us and we are getting much closer to our goal. O'Neill has finished pumping up the boat and it is now attached to the pier, ready for the fisherman to use.
"Hey, kids, I'm going to Abydos," he announces. "Be good."
"Why are you going there?" I enquire.
"Ah, to get the hunters. They should all be ready to come over by now. I'll let them know what's going on."
"Please inform them that I will bring the logs to catch the water through with me soon."
I watch as he dials up the address and I hope that whatever the real reason for him to go to Abydos, it will make him happy.
Jack's back. That's good. Really, it's good. He sees me trying to organise the hunters and fishermen as we all try to make sure that the children keep out from under our feet. They're so excited, and not used to being kept from anything, that it's really hard.
"Nasria," I call one of the older women - one of my clan whom I know well. "Please. Take the children to Nagada. What we are about to do may be dangerous. I know they are excited and curious, but they may well get hurt, or cause one of us to get hurt by accident."
She understands what I'm talking about and insists that all the women in the pyramid help her gather up the children and then they usher them outside. Whether they'll go as far as Nagada, I don't know. But I don't want to have to worry about them. There's enough to worry about as it is.
"How's it going, Jack?"
"Good. Carter's finishing off the pipe. Teal'c will be through with the logs to catch it soon. He'll tell them what to do here. We're working on a thirty minute wormhole time."
He gives me that information so that I can figure out what's going on. I call to Kasuf and he comes over to me. Now I have to explain to him how to tell the time in just a few minutes. We'll need someone here to understand what's going on.
For the record, I would rather have tried to teach a 'monkey kindergarten' than try to teach Kasuf to tell the time. I think he's got it. To be sure, I called a couple of the other men that will stay here over and they now know what will be going on and what is expected of them. I've loaned him my watch, but I get the feeling that I won't see it again. Doesn't matter. The General can send me another one.
Jack has all of the hunters and fishermen at his heels and he's looking to me for help. Skarra's at his side, trying to translate, but he doesn't always understand Jack's use of idioms.
"Daniel? You free yet?"
"I think so, Jack. I'm not sure about them understanding the time, but I have to take it on trust that they will do as I've instructed."
"It took you long enough," he mutters.
"It takes kids months to learn at home, Jack. And they're constantly exposed to our manner of timekeeping. Kasuf and the others have no idea what 'thirty minutes' is."
He shrugs, seeing what I'm saying.
"You ready to go hunting?"
Am I? I suppose so. Part of me wants to stay here. Just to make sure that the Abydonians are ready. I look over at Kasuf and Jack picks up on my confusion.
Daniel? What's wrong.
I don't know if they really understand, Jack. I'm afraid they'll be too close to the wormhole. We need someone here, or a way to communicate with them.
He thinks for a moment, then takes his radio from his pocket.
"Got another one back on Annwn. Here, Kasuf?"
"I am here, O'Neill."
"This is a radio. We use them to communicate through the air."
"I have seen this," Kasuf nods. Of course, he's seen it many times, so he's familiar with it. Good thinking, Jack.
"When we are ready to send the water through, we will let you know using the radio. Uh, Carter will. Anyway, when you hear it making a noise, you listen to it and then to answer, you press this..."
I watch him as he gives Kasuf a quick rundown on the use of a two-way radio and now I'm happier. I'm kicking myself.
Daniel? What's wrong?
Wish I'd thought of that. Now I'm not going to get my watch back and Kasuf still has no idea what it's for.
He's forcing down a laugh as he reaches out to put his hand on my shoulder.
"Never mind," he mutters. Then in a louder voice, he says, "Let's go hunting and fishing, folks."
I dial home, the gate engages and we lead a bunch of chattering young men through it.
Very few of them have ever been through the gate, only the ones of Kasuf's clan when Amaunet captured them and Shifu and... well, I'd better not think about that. I've been thinking about it a lot recently for some reason. Hell, I know what reason. I'm just not going to think about it now. I've got a hunt to go on.
We emerge to see Sam fixing up the last pieces of pipe. Seems she's been busy.
"Hey, T, are you ready to take the logs through?" Jack asks.
"I am indeed, O'Neill."
"Great. Carter, you'll need a radio."
He explains to her what we've arranged with Kasuf and she agrees it's a good idea. Hopefully, in a matter of about ten minutes, water should start flowing through the gate and into the well.
Daniel and Jack are back and I've nearly finished the pipe on this end. Daniel explained his worries about people being on the wrong side of the wormhole vortex and Teal'c's let him know that he'll stay over there to help out instead of going hunting. I'm not sure why they didn't think of that themselves. I guess that Daniel's just plain worried about his people - and they are his people. He feels a great responsibility towards them.
I watch as Jack takes the Abydonians to the house. They're all in awe of our planet. It must be seeing so much green with the grass in the meadows and the trees. They're bending down and touching the grass, laughing and joking and then turning around and looking open-mouthed at the mountain. Jack's trying to shepherd them through the trees but without too much success.
The fishermen will take the boat onto the lake and trawl it. I'll be here for them when they're done. At a guess, they'll be the first ones to return to Abydos. I have no idea how long it's going to take for the meat hunt, though. Could be hours, could be days! I hope it's the former.
All of the pipe is now connected. I've asked Daniel to dial up Abydos before he goes and for him to ask for an assistant for me. I need someone at the funnel end of the pipe. That someone has to be able to speak English - or at least understand 'stop' and 'go'. The wormhole has disengaged, then it starts redialling. I always get a knot of nerves when it does that. It should be the connection from Abydos...
It is. A young woman has stepped through. I'm guessing that Daniel asked for her specifically. The poor thing looks frozen and overwhelmed.
"Sam, this is Shahira. She's part of my clan," Daniel introduces her. "She understands enough English for you. What will be your commands for her?"
"Stop and go, I guess," I reply. "Don't need anything else."
"Okay. I'll dig out another radio and show her how to use it. I'll call you as soon as we're ready. Teal'c says he's ready for you at his end. It didn't take him long to organise them all."
I thank him and watch as he wanders back to the house with Shahira. She looks a lot like Shau're in a way. She's got the long, dark, wavy hair, but her face is a little different. Pretty, though.
This must be really hard on Daniel. The trouble is, I don't know what to say or whether to say anything to him. He likes to bottle things up inside of him.
I've had the call from Daniel and so I'm dialling up. As soon as the event horizon forms, I attach the last bit of pipe to the final connection and radio Shahira.
Come on, come on. We haven't got that much time, really. I know it's going to take a while for the water to come through the pipe. Just hope there aren't any leaks.
"Teal'c! It's coming!"
I have my hand on the pipe near the event horizon and could feel it suddenly get colder. The icy water must have gotten to him by now.
"It has reached us," he calls back. "It flows excellently."
"Let me know when it gets into the reservoir."
I wait for a few seconds and hear, "It has reached the reservoir. All goes well, Samantha."
"That's great news." I check my watch. "We'll have another twenty-two minutes for this run. When it's done, could you have a look in the reservoir and see if it's made much difference?"
"I shall. I also thought that it would be a good idea if we could get a large bucket and some sturdy rope to retrieve the water."
I smack my head with my hand. I hadn't thought about that!
"Good thinking Teal'c. What do you think would be the best thing? A wood, metal or plastic bucket?"
"Wood and metal may rot, but a plastic bucket may crack," he says thoughtfully.
"When this is over, I'll as the General to send over a couple of galvanised steel buckets. They should last long enough. Chances are they've got sturdy skins to replace them at some point."
He agrees with me and then we stop talking. Somehow, we've run out of things to say.
Daniel's fussing over the hunters like a mother hen. It's not like they need to be looked after. He's taught them how to handle guns before so he can't be worrying about their capability, can he? I think I need to talk to him.
Daniel, come up to the bridge.
I shut off my link to him so that he can't argue with me.
It takes a while, but I see him enter the bridge, almost reluctantly.
"We're nearly there," I say casually.
"Good. So, what did you want?"
"Oh, I don't know. Perhaps I'm wondering why you're overreacting?"
"Overreacting? These people are facing death, Jack!"
"I know. But we're doing something about it. Sam's already called me to let me know the water's flowing well. Before long they're going to have plenty of food and plenty of water. They'll be better off than they've been in a long time. So, why are you fussing over the hunters so much?"
He freezes as if he's been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Then he shrugs, saying nothing.
I'd say something more but we've reached the plain where the buffalo roam. And no, I'm not going to sing. I need Daniel on my side, not ready to kill me.
"Great. I'll tell them. Have you got a plan?"
"Let's get outside and see what's what, shall we?"
He turns on his heel and walks straight out. I have got to figure this out. It's killing me.
We're watching the buffalo. Last time Teal'c and I did this, we managed to single out one of the young, adult bulls. It's imperative to keep the females alive. Not that we're in any danger of wiping out this herd, but there's no point in starting the same sort of extinction process that happened on Earth. Damn, I'm starting to sound like Daniel again.
We've chosen seven buffalo to start with. We'll need to take them all at the same time. I think the rest will stampede when they go down. The plan is, we shoot them all at once then let the herd run away. Then we can go in with the ship and haul each carcass onto it. If we decide it's not enough, we go after another herd which is about forty miles away and do the same thing there. We can take about twenty carcasses on board if we have to. Not looking forward to taking them through the gate, though.
Daniel did say we shouldn't try to take too many at once, as the Abydonians can only process so many animals at a given moment. If they hang about too long, they'll go off in the heat. So we'll probably only take seven to ten back with us now. They can come back at a later date if they need to and get some more.
I think I'm also getting why Daniel was so insistent on stocking up our own stores. He's lived in deserts a lot and must have faced hunger on more than one occasion. I know he was skinnier when he got back from Abydos than when he'd gone there the first time. And that was saying something. I saw him in his shorts that first night back in my house. He was nothing more than a walking bag of bones. A fit, healthy bag of bones, but a bag of bones nonetheless.
"Are we ready?" I ask.
The herd has settled to quiet grazing again after the ship landing scared it a bit.
I get nods from them all. Daniel and I are going to take out one bullock each. The remaining hunters - of which there are ten - have been allocated one between two. Well, they haven't had as much target practise as we have. One of the pair will go for the head with a gunshot, the other will go for the chest with a spear. We didn't have enough guns for them all so we've spread them out. Hopefully, they'll hit the targets. We've picked the seven nearest our positions and furthest away from the main body of the herd where the youngsters are.
We pick up our weapons and aim. Daniel has told each pair which animal they're aiming for and they're following his orders without question. I suppose that dates back to his living there.
"On three," I say, getting a funny look from the others.
"Jack will say the word 'three' and you should shoot when you hear it," Daniel says, then translates that into Abydonian.
I get understanding nods from them. Under my breath, I mutter 'one, two' and then audibly, "Three!"
To be fair, they all fired and threw at more or less the same moment. Five of the beasts have dropped. I notice that Daniel's and mine were among the number, which is a relief. There are two more staggering around. Dammit, they weren't killed. A quick look at Daniel and he nods. We pick one each, aim and fire at the heads, putting the poor things out of their misery. Needless to say, the herd is running away.
Daniel ushers everyone back into the ship and I fly us to the bodies straight away. We need to get them on board before the flies start their jobs.
For the record, I didn't enjoy that. I never enjoy hunting. It wasn't something I ever did for 'sport' back home. If I kill an animal, it's for one of two reasons. Or maybe three. One is, I want to eat it. Perfectly natural thing to do. Two, if it's dying slowly. I can't bear to see an animal suffer. And the final one is if it's trying to kill me. Well, fair's fair and all that.
But I've never been a trophy hunter. Can't see the enjoyment in that. Not even the fishing side of it. If I catch something, I either eat it or put it back if it's a baby or a breeder.
However, we've got seven large buffalo on board and we're flying back. I think that's going to be enough for now. If nothing else, it's going to give the people there a meal each containing some protein or other. Seeing as they should have a large net full of fish and possibly some other animals we can get later, it'll do them for now. As Daniel said, it's not as if they can start on a rich diet, they'll get sick.
Time to touch down. I hope everything's been going okay this end.
The reservoir is about three quarters full. This system is working admirably. I have been in discussion with Kasuf, showing him our address on the DHD and telling him that when they start to run out of water, he should dial up and call us on the radio. We will willingly refill the reservoir for them. He is very grateful for our help and is also excited.
The water is coming out to the side of the gate. Because of that, the fishermen were able to bring through their catch. Some of the women had come back into the pyramid and there were songs of celebration and joy. They have carried the fish out of the pyramid now, and they are taking them back to Nagada where they will be skinned and gutted and preserved as soon as possible. The fishermen will return to Annwn when it is possible to dial out, and refill the net. That should give the people here enough for a while.
We know that our solution is not the end of the problem, but hopefully, it will keep these good people alive until the rains come. I hope that they come.
"Teal'c? How's it going?"
I hear O'Neill's voice over the radio. He has only been gone a matter of a few hours.
"It goes well, O'Neill. This connection will break in a few minutes. Then it should take only one or two more and our task will be complete."
"That's great news."
"Have you returned from your hunt already, O'Neill?"
"We have. We found the buffalo straight away and the hunt was quick. We'll start to bring them through with the next load of water, so get people ready your end. There are seven for now."
"I will pass on the information."
I turn to see that Kasuf is speaking on his radio. I must assume that Daniel is already informing him of the same thing.
When he disconnects, I say, "O'Neill will send the first animals through the next time the gate engages."
"Yes, yes, Dan'yel told me so. I am most grateful. We are most grateful."
"There is no need to feel gratitude, Kasuf. We are doing what is right. Now, you must prepare your people to receive these beasts. They are large and will need a lot of work immediately."
"Of course. I will call them to me now."
He walks away, calling out to one of his clan. I watch as he organises the next work group. Kasuf is a leader held in high regard among all his people, not just his own clan. They do exactly as he says.
As the time has been passing, his people have brought large cloths, possibly from tents. I had informed them of the approximate size of the beasts that will come here and Kasuf decided that wrapping them in cloth would be the best way to transport them back to Nagada so that the sand flies do not infest them.
I see that he has a crowd of young men which he separates into seven separate groups. Each group has a large cloth.
"The gate will shut off in a moment, Teal'c. Same as usual. Talk to you in a few minutes, honey."
I acknowledge Samantha and ready my assistants. The water stops flowing through the gate, we wait for the last drop to fall onto the second pipe and then between us, we lift the heavy 'catching' pipe nearest the gate. As the gate shuts down, we move it away from the area of the vortex.
"Stand away from the gate," I call out in their language. "It will engage soon."
We watch as the symbols dial up one by one and get ready to put the pipe back.
"It won't dial up!"
Sam's panicked voice comes over the comms and my blood runs cold.
"What do you mean, it won't dial up?!" I yell back.
"We just disconnected and now we tried to redial and it won't!"
"Oh fuck, oh shit, oh fuck..."
I take off at a run and head directly to the gate. God knows what I'll do when I get there, though.
Jack? Did you hear?
I did. I'm on my way. I was just showing our new friends where they could hunt boar.
Fuck that, Jack! We need to contact Abydos!
I know. Calm down.
He didn't say that, did he? I know what I want to reply, but if I do, I'm going to lose him because no way will he let me stay. He'll probably pack me off to Abydos.
"Have you tried again?" I ask Sam breathlessly as I arrive.
"Yes. I'm giving it a minute to see if they were trying to dial us."
"Okay. Perhaps that's it." Please, let it be that.
"Sam, we need a VCD. What if...?"
I don't say it. I don't dare say it. She nods at me and takes off at a sprint. Should I try dialling again? I'd better wait till they come back.
"Dan'yel? What is wrong?" One of the hunters has already arrived by my side.
"We can't contact Abydos, Hakim."
"I don't know. We'll try again in a minute."
"Have the gods come again?"
"They are not gods!" I have to calm myself, trying not to shout at him. "They are just alien parasites, Hakim. Not gods. Don't be afraid."
"You will defeat them."
He looks at me with such faith that it scares me. They all believe that I will overcome 'the gods'. They do not believe that I could possibly fail. I wish they didn't think like that.
"Daniel. Dial it up."
Jack's with me again, Sam at his side. We watch as the symbols light up one at a time and then feel relieved when the wormhole engages. I start to walk towards it, inexorably drawn to the blue light. Jack grabs my arm fiercely.
"Wait! Let's send the VCD through, first."
I nod. I asked for the damned thing after all.
Sam throws the VCD through and we look at the receiver. My heart stops when I see what's there.
Oh hell. There are people on their knees. I instruct the VCD to look around but a matter of a second later the picture goes.
"It's been destroyed," I say, unnecessarily.
"Shut the gate down," Jack orders grimly.
"Jack? We need..."
"Daniel, we will. But first we need a plan."
We see the pain in his eyes as he acknowledges Jack's words.
"How long will it take for the big ship to get to Abydos?" Jack asks suddenly.
"Not long," I reply. "It's not that far from here. A couple of hours, max."
"Okay. Then this is what we're going to do."
All of the Abydonians have been ringed up onto the ship, along with various weapons, Daniel and me. Jack is piloting Mia up to the big ship and will park her in the cargo bay. As he said, when we get there, we may as well drop off the meat. His positive attitude is helping the scared people. They're even more scared now they're in orbit, but they have an inordinate trust in us.
"Get going," comes Jack's order over the comms. "I'm on board."
Daniel pushes the button and we start to move. None of us are discussing the fact that we hadn't long got back from Hades' planet and we hadn't had time to do a complete sweep of the ship. We don't think that there are any more homing devices or such like on board, but we can't say for certain. I don't need to look at Daniel to know that he's scared witless.
I use my connection to Jack and see that he's with the Abydonians, telling them that everything is going to be okay and that we'll use the ship and their help to release their people again. They still seem to have that faith in him. I only hope Daniel still does, too.
"Yes?" He looks at me blankly, his face composed.
"Are you all right?"
"It's not me that's been taken hostage by the Goa'uld," he replies bitterly.
"Daniel, please. Don't shut me out," I plead. "I want to help, too, you know."
I see a war going on in his mind and finally he softens.
"I know. I'm sorry."
"Don't be. I know how much this hurts."
"How could you?" he whispers, not wanting me to answer. I think there's something else going on in his head but he isn't letting me in on it.
In the end, I nod. "I'll just go check on our friends," I offer. "See if they need anything."
"That's good," he agrees. "Thanks."
He turns back to the viewscreen and dismisses me with his body language.
"Jack, you have to talk to him," I say after getting food and drinks for the Abydonians. They're so damned grateful for it that I want to get angry with them. They shouldn't be so grateful. It shouldn't be such a surprise to them that we'd do this for them!
"I know. I'm trying, honest," he shrugs. "But you know what he's like. I won't find out what's wrong until he tells me."
"But it's eating him up."
"I know. I know. Believe me, I know," he mutters, running his hands through his hair. "It's not something he's willing to talk about, though."
He gets up and walks across to the coffee pot - we're on Mia in the galley - and fills a mug.
"Maybe this will help," he says with a lopsided grin.
I watch him as he leaves the ship and goes into the big one. Hope he gets up to the peltac quickly. Daniel prefers his coffee hot.
"Hey, want a coffee?"
Daniel turns around and looks at me as if I've spoken an alien language. When he sees the mug, however, he nods.
Sheesh. I know that sometimes he's a man of few words but this is ridiculous.
I go to say something else but a noise behind me attracts my attention.
"Skarra. Hey, you okay?"
He's looking around the peltac and he's a bit bewildered.
"This is not like Apophis' ship," he states. "But some things are familiar."
Daniel looks at him and I see even more pain in his eyes. He's being reminded of that damned time again, isn't he? I want to reach out and hold him but his body language is really telling me not to touch him yet. Normally, I'd ignore that. This time, however, I know I have to wait. Later, when this is over most likely, I'll hold him tight and won't let him go.
"Dan'yel. How long until we arrive home?"
Daniel looks at the screen with our flight path and says, "Not long, Skarra. We need to get some plan together for what we're going to do when we get there. We can assume they came by gate and not by ship."
"If there is a ship there, we can take it," I remind him. "This ship has awesome firepower."
"And what if there are Abydonians on board?" he asks coldly.
"We'll find out. Carter brought the personal cloaks."
He nods slowly, his face still unreadable.
"You'd better prime everyone," he says out loud. Then in my head I hear, Keep your link open to me so that I know what you have in mind.
Of course. Don't worry, Daniel. We'll stop whatever's happening.
If we're not too late, he sighs, turning back to face the screen.
I know what he means. In the hour or so since we left, anything could have happened. We just have to hope that luck is on our side for once.
I never thought that I would see Apophis' Jaffa again. Some of them I recognise, others I do not. They all recognise me, however.
I feel impotent. They have secured me tightly and there is nothing that I can do. Since the VCD was destroyed, we have had no contact with Annwn. I am assuming that they will come using the big ship. I know they will not abandon us.
The only question I have been asked is about the location of Skarra and Daniel Jackson. A Goa'uld stands among the Jaffa but he has not revealed his identity. To buy us time I said that they were off-world but would return. Kasuf was not happy that I said that but I hope I conveyed that I had reason to say it. I will explain later if I am given the opportunity. Some Jaffa were sent to Nagada to look for them there.
So far, no one has been hurt here. Following my cue, the others here have answered the same question in the way I did. Sticking to the same story will aid us. There was no question about the location of O'Neill or Samantha, so I assume that either the Goa'uld knows they will be with Daniel or does not care for their whereabouts. If that is the case then neither Daniel nor Skarra must come down to the planet as they would be in grave danger.
I keep sending telepathic messages out in the hope that Samantha and the others will be close enough for them to hear me, but so far, I have received nothing back. I will continue to call to them, however. I know they are coming.
We are still in the gateroom of the pyramid, which is convenient. There are transport rings here as well as the pyramid being the landing site for a ship the size of ours.
Kasuf looks grave but not frightened. The rest of his people are most definitely scared. They should be. I know what these Jaffa are capable of. I trained some of them.
The Goa'uld is coming my way.
"Shol'va," he says, as if the word means anything to me. "Tell me what you have been doing since you left the Tauri."
"I will not."
His Jaffa take exception to that and I try not to cry out when the first blows rain down on me. I can take more than they are giving me.
"You will," he says.
I say nothing.
I do not like the look on his face when he finally says, "You will. Eventually."
A few more blows from the Jaffa end his initial interrogation. I know there will be more to come, but for now I allow my symbiote to treat my wounds. I half-shut my eyes and cast my mind into space again, calling to my beloved in the hope that she is now close enough. Still there is no response. I will keep trying.
I hear Teal'c. He's faint but I hear him.
"Jack, Sam, get up on the peltac now!" I call on the comms, then in my mind I say, Alone.
I don't let them argue but try to contact Teal'c myself.
Teal'c? Teal'c! Can you hear me?
It takes a moment but finally I hear, I can, Daniel.
Oh, thank God. Are you all right?
I am fine. Where are you?
Just getting into orbit around Abydos. What's going on down there?
A Goa'uld came through the gate when we were expecting the connection from Annwn. I should have taken greater precautions and hidden the people, but I failed. I am sorry, Daniel.
Don't be. We were all complacent, Teal'c. Which Goa'uld is it?
Jack and Sam crash through the peltac door and I point to my head and then to the screen which shows the planet. They get it straight away and listen in.
He will not say, but he controls Apophis' Jaffa.
APOPHIS?! Jack's voice comes through loud and clear. Will that bastard never die?
I do not think it is he, O'Neill. I believe it to be one of the lesser Goa'uld associated with him.
Jack looks slightly less annoyed, but not much.
What does he want? Sam asks.
He has only asked the location of Skarra and Daniel, Teal'c replies.
Right, Jack says, his tone firm. We'll come down, Daniel and Skarra stay on board.
Daniel, he wants you, he's not going to get you! That's that. If I have to zat you and tie you up to stop you going I'll do it and you know it.
He sounds angry with me. Perhaps it's been because I've been a bit out of it. I'd explain why but then he'd fuss over me and I really can't deal with that. Not now.
Teal'c, look around you and let us see what's going on, Sam interrupts. Thanks Sam.
He shows us a picture of the gateroom in the pyramid. Everyone there is on his or her knees. There aren't many Jaffa there, only about five, no six. Teal'c tells us that another six have gone to Nagada to look for me and Skarra and he informs us of what he said to distract the snake. Good. At least no one's been hurt. We can keep this Goa'uld waiting.
Teal'c, have you asked the snake its name? I ask.
Not yet. He does not seem in a mood to be spoken to.
Try. But don't get yourself hurt.
He lets us watch as he calls out to the snake. The only reply he gets is the back of a staff weapon in his chest and a sneer from the snake. Okay, chalk up another one to take out.
Sam's looking really worried now so Jack thinks fast and passes on the plan of action. He's still ordering me and Skarra to stay on board, but he's also giving us something to do. It's a compromise I'm almost willing to make. I'll make it, but that doesn't have to mean I'm happy. At least I'm keeping Skarra safe. This time.
This plan is taking shape. There will be two parts to it. When Teal'c tells us that the Jaffa have returned from Nagada, Jack will fly the Abydonians down there in Mia. We'll ring him back up onto the ship - we can retrieve Mia later - and then he and I will ring into the transport room.
Daniel still isn't happy and I can see him working on ways to overcome this plan and find one in which he can be involved. He's up on the peltac with Skarra, calming him down, I guess. Daniel's making sure that Skarra is staying on board the ship. He doesn't want to take any chances.
The Jaffa are returning, O'Neill, Teal'c's voice breaks through the silence. According to the communication I overheard, they found nothing and will be back in the pyramid in about ten minutes.
That's great. I'll fly Mia down now.
Jack lets Daniel know to open the cargo bay door and then goes as soon as he can. I'm still in the ring room, ready to go at a moment's notice. If it looks like the gate is about to be dialled up, I'll transport down on my own, cloaked of course, and cause enough of a distraction to stop them going until I have backup. Teal'c has told me he's been secured. I've got a zat on me for him so if I can get him undone, I'll have him loose and helping me. That will be a huge relief.
Of course, the difficulty is going to be in not hurting any of the Abydonians. He needs to let Kasuf know what's going to happen without alerting the Goa'uld. That will not be an easy task.
Daniel. How are things with you? I call. I hope he's feeling a little better now.
There's a tension in the pause before he answers me, then I hear, They're fine. We'll be ready for whatever you want soon.
Good. It will be okay, Daniel. There aren't too many Jaffa and they won't be able to see us.
Again there is a pause before he answers. But they will be able to see the Abydonians, Sam.
I don't know what to say to that. These are his people and he feels responsible for all of them.
It'll work, I say as positively I can.
I have to believe that. So does he.
Jack's back. He says that the people in Nagada are shaken up but okay, so he left them unloading the ship to give them something to do. He's 'parked' it around the back of the city, so not even a look-out could see it from the top of the pyramid.
He and I are in the transport rings now. We've put our cloaks on, got our weapons primed... there's something odd, though.
"Jack? Can you sense something?"
"I... yeah. Who is it? Anyone there?"
There is no answer and no sound, so perhaps it's just us imagining things.
"Okay," Jack says into his comms so that the guys on the peltac can hear us. "Time to go."
The transport rings engage and...
...we reappear in the gateroom. Of course, no one can see us.
Jack and I are back to back. He fires at the Jaffa in his direction, I fire at the ones in mine. We both hit the ground quickly so that they can't hit us by guesswork. I see Teal'c and start to make my way towards him but seconds later, I see him stand up. HOW? He said he was tied up!
He's got a zat! From where? I can't think about that now, I'm too busy dodging random staff blasts.
The people are all either on the floor or running for cover, scared by the invisible attackers, I guess. Youch - that was a close one.
We've taken out most of the Jaffa, the others are surrounding the snake and making for the DHD. I see the panel suddenly open and briefly see one of the crystals before it disappears.
Nice thinking, Jack, I call.
The DHD crystal. Good thinking.
But I didn't... DAMMIT, DANIEL?!
There's no answer but I know it's him. Has to be him or Skarra and no way would he allow Skarra down here. He's in so much trouble.
Never mind, we still have four Jaffa and a snake to beat. Between the four of us, we'll manage it. Of course, we have to keep dodging the stray blasts but it's working. We had the element of surprise to start with, which helped us take out the majority of the force quickly, but these guys are good. They're really hard to hit with a zat. If we pick up a staff weapon, though, we'll be spotted.
That doesn't stop Teal'c. He grabs one quickly and blasts at the new First Prime. I see him sneer. Talk about professional rivalry, eh? He's showing them that he may be the 'shol'va', but he's way better than any of them.
Another one goes down. I don't know who got him, but that lowers our target numbers. Two more and then the snake. I think we want him alive. At least for now.
The snake's host is old and looks frail. At a guess, he was dying when he was taken over, either that or this snake hasn't had any time in a sarc recently. To be honest, he looks like he needs putting out of his misery. From what I've heard, most unwilling hosts would rather die than continue as one.
Remind me to kill Daniel when I get hold of him. Dammit, I told him to stay on board the ship! If he gets taken...
No, don't go there, O'Neill. He's not going to be taken. I won't allow it.
Another Jaffa has gone down. One to go. I want that snake dead. No one comes after Daniel and lives. NO ONE.
I think that one of us has the snake. His hands have gone to his throat but now he's gone still, his eyes bugging out. He should be strong enough to fight off whoever has got him, so why isn't he fighting further? I don't know and frankly, I don't care. I need to get rid of that last Jaffa first.
He can't see me and he can't hear me. So he has no idea I'm creeping up on him. Too easy. Like taking candy from a baby. Two blasts and he's dead. Another one and the snake watches his final ally disappear.
Time to reveal ourselves.
I switch off my cloak and walk towards him. Teal'c already has his staff weapon pointing in his direction. Sam decloaks, too and now he sees three weapons aiming at him. Somehow, I think he's more scared of what - or who - is behind him, though.
A quick nod in Sam's direction has her wandering behind him and reaching for the cloaking device. It goes off and I see Daniel staring in the snake's direction furiously.
"Who are you?" he demands.
The snake says nothing but then he winces. It's then I see that Daniel has a knife in his hands and that he's already stuck it into the back of this Goa'uld's neck. A little bit of blood is trickling down his skin. He's got the message. Daniel's prepared to skewer him. It's a guaranteed way of killing a snake outright. The blade is slightly pointing upwards, towards the skull. No matter how well blended this snake is, this will kill it beyond repair in a sarc. Not to mention that all the Jaffa are dead, so there's no one to take him to one.
"Who are you?" he asks more firmly, pushing the blade a bit closer.
I'm not sure if I want him to do this. He'll have a hard time living with himself if he does.
"Klorel," the snake finally admits.
Well that explains a lot. No wonder he wanted Skarra and Daniel. He wants revenge.
"Who do you work for?" I ask, more in hope than expectation.
He sneers. It's the sneer of someone that knows he's going to die so there's no point in telling us any more. Daniel's got that, I think. He knows that we won't get any more out of this snake. There won't be any use in taking him to the Tok'ra, either, as he'll probably kill his host on the way there. Having been physically extracted from a host is, according to a Tok'ra I talked to at the time, something that a Goa'uld will only go through once. Just knowing it's going to happen again is enough to drive it over the edge.
Daniel's about to finish it off when we see the face of the host contort in agony. Daniel steps back as the host drops to the ground. Just in case the snake used this as a ruse to get away from Daniel, I zat him twice, then again. Klorel will never again touch Skarra.
Daniel drops to the floor, suddenly looking very tired and alone. Now I can hug him.
I want to tell him off. The look on his face tells me he's expecting it but that he couldn't stay out of this. I get that. So I sit next to him and pull him into my arms. He starts to pull away but I lock my arms in place and finally, he stops struggling. He's not crying but I feel my neck getting wet. Relief, I guess. And guilt. Lots and lots of guilt. I get that, too.
Kasuf comes over to us after checking that his people are well. He kneels on the ground next to us and puts his hand on Daniel's head, saying something in Abydonian.
Daniel looks up at him, his eyes red. He shakes his head and Kasuf sighs sadly.
"My son, you and your friends have saved us again. Do not feel guilt. It was not your fault that the demon returned."
"I should never have unburied the gate," Daniel whispers.
He's not talking about now, he's talking about back then. I hug him closer.
"You did it with my blessing, Dan'yel. Then as now. We cannot live a life without risk. Sometimes the risks are great and we pay. Other times the risks pay us. If the gate was not open, many of us would starve to death over the next moon.
"We remember well your lessons on sickness from bad water and if we had not opened the gate and called for help, we would die of this sickness even before the hunger took us. This time, we were lucky. The fates were on our side. There is one less demon in the heavens and we have food and water. Better food and cleaner water than we have had in many generations. We would willingly take this risk again to keep our people healthy and free from hunger.
"So there is no guilt, only gratitude."
He looks at Kasuf again, this time with gratitude in his eyes. Sometimes, I find Kasuf to be one of the wisest men I've ever met. He's certainly the only one that can get through to Daniel when he's in this mood.
I squeeze him and he looks at me.
"Come on," I say, in what I hope is an encouraging way. "We've got more water to supply. And then there's some more fishing to do, maybe a bit more hunting..." Then I give him a grin. "Tell you what. How about we get a special present for Kasuf?"
"What's that?" he asks, his face scrunched up with confusion.
"Wait and see."
Samantha will not stop fussing.
"You said you were okay! Look at you, you're covered in bruises!"
"I am fine," I say. I do believe that it will take more to convince her, however.
I stand up and call out to O'Neill.
"O'Neill. We should take home our ships. Perhaps we can resume our supplying of these people tomorrow? There is more than sufficient food and water here now. It will give everyone a chance to rest. They have not eaten or drunk much since we were first contacted and they, too, must be hungry and tired."
"Good idea, T. Okay, Kasuf, we'll do that. We'll take your people home. The big beasts are already in Nagada. Collect some water if you can, er, you do have something to raise it with?"
"We will need to prepare new skins," Kasuf says. "I fear our old ones may well be too dirty. Daniel has long told us about keeping the water supply as clean as possible."
"Okay. T, Sam, go back to Annwn. You can rest or get dinner on or something. When you're there, call up the General and ask him for a bucket and some ropes." He does not understand why Samantha and I start to laugh. "What's up?"
"We already decided we'd do that," Samantha informs him. "Will you fly the ship home?"
"Sure. We'll see you in a couple of hours."
Daniel presses the glyphs on the DHD but nothing happens. Then he hits his head with his hand and takes out the crystal from his jacket, puts it back into the DHD and dials again.
We say goodbye and step through the gate. Nothing seems to have changed, Samantha says. The place looks like it was abandoned hurriedly. I believe O'Neill sent us back to make sure that nothing had happened. Given the circumstances, I agree.
She dials Earth and calls the General. He says that he will supply us with what we want as soon as he can.
The gate disengages and we sit on some rocks, waiting for it to reopen.
"It's been a long day," she sighs.
I put my arm around her and hold her close.
"It is no longer than any other day."
She pokes my chest with one finger.
"You know what I mean."
"I do. It has been very tiring. I hope now that the Abydonians will remain healthy."
"And free from snake attack," she adds. "Now that Ra and Apophis and Klorel have gone, hopefully they will be left alone. Most of the old guard of System Lords are dead and those who are left are based on the other side of Goa'uld-controlled territory. Maybe they'll forget about Abydos, just as they've forgotten about other planets."
"Perhaps. But Goa'uld have long memories. We must not assume that they will forget it."
She lets out a deep sigh at my words. I feel guilt for saying them but it must be said. We say nothing more and await the gate. It does not take too long.
General Hammond sent us two brand new galvanised steel buckets as asked, along with a long length of nylon rope, a funnel and numerous five gallon plastic containers with lids to carry the water. We send a new VCD through to Abydos before we step through. We will take no more chances.
There are some women waiting for us and they look astounded by the buckets. We sometimes forget how simple things like that are new to those that do not have them. I should appreciate the mundane more.
They sing joyfully again as they raise the water and I show them how to put the funnel in the container and pour the water carefully into it. They appreciate the mechanics of saving the water like this and play with the screwtop lids like children. Samantha cannot stop smiling as she watches them.
Eventually, we decide that they are more than capable of doing this and say our goodbyes. We will see them again tomorrow and bring them more water and food. I do believe that they will celebrate tonight. I, on the other hand, will rest.
This is unnerving. Jack hasn't yelled at me. Okay, I guess he understands why I had to go with him, but I'm still expecting him to blow up.
We ringed all those that were returning to Nagada up to the big ship, taking a few minutes to show them Abydos from space. They were all astounded and believe their planet to be a jewel in the night sky.
Kasuf stared at the planet for a while and then said, "Thank you once again. Our home is once again at peace because of you. Seeing it whole like this is beyond any dreams I have ever had and my gratitude knows no end."
I had to translate that for Jack as Kasuf hadn't the English to say it, but I think that Jack got the gist of it anyway. He smiled broadly, proudly even.
To show them the whole planet, I flew them around it. They saw land and sea that they didn't know were there and I get the feeling that some of the young men may well start to explore. This isn't such a bad thing. I think I'll return with the ship one day and map the planet. If I can teach them to read maps, maybe they'll find somewhere safer on the surface of Abydos in which to make a new home.
Eventually, we had to take them home. With Kasuf and Skarra reunited, we were all in a good mood. When we emerged on Mia, we saw that the people were still removing the carcasses, so we helped them out, taking them to one building which has been designated as the receiving point for all these 'gifts'. Kasuf invited us to a celebration tonight, but we had to say no, knowing that we have to get to our own home. We promised that we would return in one day, which will be night-time, our time.
Tomorrow evening we'll restart the water transfer and hopefully have some more food for them. Yakib presented us with the net, telling us to keep it as a gift from his clan. I received it as humbly as I could in order to keep the clan tension from building up again. He seemed proud of his gift - he should be. It's a great net. It lets all the small fish out so we don't take too many. Jack said we'll catch some more fish tomorrow for them, and maybe some for us, too.
So we're flying home, still saying nothing about what happened. I'm waiting for the bomb to drop and the suspense is killing me.
All I can do is watch the view screen until he says what's on his mind. I wish he'd get it over and done with.
It's been nearly an hour! When is he going to shout at me? I'm getting more tense by the minute but he's just sitting on the 'throne' that's in here, watching me, watching the screen... humming to himself! This is getting annoying.
Uh oh, he's coming towards me. This must be it. I feel my body tense further in anticipation. I don't think he's going to hit me, but it feels like it.
He's not hitting me. He's standing behind me. I keep looking at the screen, I can't take my eyes off it.
Oh God, he's kissing my neck. Softly dragging his lips over my skin. My body shudders involuntarily as his hands hold my shoulders and then start to move down my arms. As he drags the palms of his hands over the backs of mine I shiver again. Now they're heading over my hips. He's still kissing the back of my neck and the sides of it. Gentle kisses, delicate touches that I can barely feel. I wish I had control of my senses so that I could turn up the sense of touch and feel them properly. I love this.
He isn't saying anything, he doesn't have to. I want to call out, to tell him how much I love him, how sorry I am... but I can't. I'm frozen in place - and in time.
He's pulling my robes up over my head. I put my hands out so that they will come off easily. He drops them onto the floor and I'm standing there in only my shorts and boots. I must look ridiculous but he doesn't seem to care one way or the other. He's kissing my neck again, but this time he's working his way down my spine. I'm hard. Harder than I've ever been, I think.
He's on his knees. Oh, God, he's on his knees. He's pulling my shorts down, stopping when he gets to my boots. He kisses my ass and then probes it with his tongue. I damn near come but manage to hold off. When he stops, it's the work of a moment or two for him to undo the boots and they're off, quickly followed by my shorts.
I'm naked and exposed, but I feel safer than I've felt in weeks. He stands up, looking at me as if he's never seen me before. I let him trawl my body with his eyes as he drops his own clothes onto the floor, somehow without looking like he's undoing anything. It's like magic. But then I can only see his eyes, they're the only thing I want to see. They tell me so much.
He's as naked as I am, now. But whereas I probably look like a 'victim' at the moment, he looks strong and powerful, both physically and emotionally. I draw on that strength and feel myself want him more and more each moment.
Finally, our minds connect. I'm glad. We always have much more intense moments when that happens.
Hold onto the... He realises he doesn't have the word for the 'table' with the various buttons and levers for piloting this ship, so he shows it to me in my mind. I'm leaning backwards, facing him, my hands grabbing the edge of it tightly.
I know I'm not allowed to touch him. He's taking possession of me. I'm giving myself to him.
His head ducks down and his ruthlessly bites one of my nipples, sucking hard at it at the same time. I let out my first sound as I gasp. He looks pleased with himself when he pulls back, then he takes the other nipple in his mouth and does the same thing, making me breathe in through my teeth sharply and my dick twitches violently.
Now he looks extremely pleased with himself. He knows what I want and what I need. He's going to give it to me.
Without warning, he drops to his knees again and swallows me whole. I want to grab his head but I keep my hands glued to the table. I look down and see his head bobbing up and down, feel his tongue and lips as they work me, can't escape the gentle rasp of his teeth as he teases me. He puts some fingers in his mouth alongside my dick and I open my legs wider in response.
This isn't going to be gentle but I don't want that.
His fingers go swiftly into me. One, two, they pull apart. The spit doesn't act as a good lube and I grit my teeth hard as he fucks me with them. He finds the gland, pushing against it harshly. I don't care, I love this. Love this.
The sensation when he drags his fingers out of me pushes me over the edge and I come. He stands up slowly, still staring at my body as he rises. Very deliberately, he picks up his pants off the table and pulls out some lube. Guess he must have got it from Mia earlier. Bastard. He planned this!
Turn around, he orders.
I don't get to see him rubbing his cock with the lube so I keep my mind open and watch through his eyes. I see him do it slowly - he knows I'm looking, so he's doing it for me. I open my legs again, as wide as I can go without losing too much height. I take a couple of steps towards him, too, so that I'm bending over in invitation.
I watch through his eyes and see him lining up. I do my best to show him how much I want this.
I grit my teeth again as I see him starting to push inside, if only to stop me from crying out with the pleasure. I see it before I feel it, but soon the wonderful burn takes over my body. I want him to hurry but he won't. As I start to push back to make him go faster, he pulls back. This is on his terms, not mine, so I stop and wait for him to be ready.
Finally, finally, he's all the way in. He stays there until I adjust to him and then he starts to pull back. God, it feels good. When he pushes back in, he speeds up. Yes! This is what I want. I think it's what he wants too as I hear his mind saying, So fucking good. So good. Yes! You are so mine.
God yes, Jack. I'm yours.
Not going anywhere. No one's gonna take you from me.
No. Not going. I'm yours.
He was scared he was going to lose me to Klorel. I was scared I'd lose Skarra. I'm only half-surprised that Jack didn't fuck Skarra like this, too, as he would want to lay claim to him again.
He's speeding up, forgetting to take it slow. I don't care. I want this more and more.
Do it. More!
He doesn't reply but slams into me time and again until he collapses against my back, wrapping his arms around my chest and holding me tight. I feel the hot breath on my shoulder and wait for him to say something.
He pulls out of me slowly, then turns me around and the next thing I know is that he's kissing me hard. I kiss him back as hard, showing him my own gratitude.
The guys are back. They're still quiet but they seem to have relaxed now, so that's good. Teal'c and I have already eaten so they're just preparing something for themselves.
Mia is back on terra firma and somehow, we've drawn the short straw and we're cleaning out the cargo bay. It's not too bad, though, the plastic sheeting helped. We've thrown water and disinfectant onto the floor and we're sweeping it out. If we leave the door open overnight, any remaining water and smell should disappear.
Once we've finished, we'll go to bed, get some sleep, then tomorrow we'll finish the hunt in readiness for reconnecting with Abydos in the evening. Jack has got something up his sleeve and I know it, but he won't let on what it is. It's obviously some private joke going on in his head. Undoubtedly we'll find out in the morning. At least I hope so.
Teal'c is insisting that the bruises on his stomach and back are not hurting him but I can't see how they can't be. I'm still angry with him for not admitting to this... Dammit, no, I'm not angry. Not at all. I get scared, that's all. What if he'd been taken off-world? How would we have found him?
We have no idea who Klorel was working for, if indeed he was working for anyone. I'll have to ask Dad when I next see him. We need to let him know that we've taken out another snake, anyway, or else their census will be out of date.
There, it's done.
"Ready for bed, honey?" I ask.
"I am more ready for a shower. As are you," he sniffs.
"Good point. Come on then." I stop and look over my shoulder with a grin. "May as well save some water and shower together?"
He grins back and lengthens his stride. I take off and start to run, him on my heels. I can't help but giggle as the excitement builds.
We crash through the kitchen door, ignore the stunned guys who stare at us as we race past them and head directly for our rooms.
I'm sure I can hear laughter from them as our door shuts. I don't care.
My clothes are off and the water's running in minutes and as soon as it's warm enough, I stand under the shower and use my finger to beckon Teal'c in. With a wicked smile, he steps closer.
We're in bed at last. Now it's time to talk. First, I wrap my arm around him and hold him tight.
"So, are you going to tell me what's been upsetting you today?" Before he can state the obvious, I add, "And not the things that have happened in the last few hours, either. There was something else. In fact, you've been a bit off for a few days."
He says nothing for a moment, then he shrugs off my arm and gets out of bed. I'm about to scold him, to tell him that he can't say there's nothing wrong when he picks up his spare laptop computer. Now I'm confused, but I let him do what he has to do.
It finally boots up and he clicks on the clock. It's then that I see it. The date. At least the date on Earth.
I nod in understanding and he switches the damned thing off again. I'd lost track of the date, if I'm honest.
"Why didn't you say anything?" I ask.
"What's there to say?" he replies, putting it away.
"That it's the anniversary of the day we returned to Abydos? Of the day you first lost Shau're and Skarra?" I prompt. "That I could possibly be a bit more sensitive and sympathetic towards you?"
I don't mention that Klorel certainly must have known the date, assuming he has a similar timeframe. Coincidences are not something I believe in. But how? I'll try to work that out later. In the meantime, I pay attention to Daniel. Something I should have done all along.
He shakes his head. "I don't want you to act differently," he insists. "I'm still a bit raw when it comes to certain dates, that's all."
"I know. Me, too. And somehow, you never seem to forget those dates, do you?"
He shrugs. "I have the computer to remind me of each day," he says quietly.
That's no excuse for me and I know it, but it's his signal that he wants me to drop the subject. Instead, I pull him into my arms again and hold him close.
"You know, she'd be so damned proud of you."
He's about to argue with me when I put my finger on his lips.
"Honestly. Everything that you did at the SGC, everything that you've done since then. And today. You've helped save her people again. You helped save Skarra again. He doesn't have to worry about Klorel coming to get him. Kasuf will be able to sleep at night..." I drop a kiss on his head. "Trust me, babe, she'd be bursting with pride."
"I wasn't on my own," he reminds me, kissing my chest and snuggling close.
"No. I already told you that, didn't I? You'll never be on your own again, Daniel."
I don't think he believes me - today was just too close for him - but he pulls the blanket up. Time to sleep. Tomorrow, he'll feel a lot better about us.
We caught a couple of wild boar this morning. If they weren't wild before, they were fucking livid when we caught them. The fish weren't too pleased this afternoon, either. Still, it's not like they can complain. And now, my pièce de résistance.
"Daniel? Come with me, please."
He's a bit more cheery today. Probably because we're going to be able to give the Abydonians more food and water; that and it's no longer the anniversary.
I feel bad about forgetting that. It's not really my fault. The months aren't the same here and it's so damned easy to lose track. But still, I should have paid closer attention to it. I will in future. I pulled Sam to one side this morning and asked her to work out a calendar for this planet. I'll be able to match it up to Earth's. We haven't even celebrated a single birthday since we left Earth. It's about time we did.
Anniversaries can be good things. The nearest thing we had to a celebration was our second anniversary and that was only because it wasn't that long since we'd left Earth, soon enough that we still had some clue as to what was going on.
He's also wondering where I'm taking him. Or rather, why I'm taking him into the nearby woods.
"The final part of the hunt, Daniel. Now, hush."
Dammit, I forget we have this link.
Jack, we only ever hunt one thing in these woods.
I know that.
He stops and then he starts to try to hold back a laugh. I signal him to shut up and he puts his hand on his mouth. In the end, he shakes his head and stalks back out of the woods. I guess he can't keep quiet enough. Oh well, I can do this on my own.
Daniel is laughing. It is a pleasant sound, especially after yesterday. O'Neill informed us of the date's significance this morning and we both understand why he was so sad. So listening to him now is even more pleasant. He says that he is laughing because of O'Neill's gift to Kasuf.
Although why O'Neill emerging from the woods would be so funny is beyond my comprehension, gift or no gift.
And why is O'Neill looking so pleased with himself for holding up a dead chicken?