Summary: It's time to extract their linguist from a breathtaking situation. Question is, can they do it in time? And will that lead to more questions than answers? Only one thing is for sure: time is running out and they're going to need all the answers they can get before Armageddon strikes on Earth.
Usual abundant thanks to Alph for putting me on the straight (eh hem) and narrow.
The power is going, bit by bit. It's nearly down to the level it was at when we arrived here. Back on 'standby'? Or perhaps to extinction. God, I hope not. The question is; where were the guys transported to? Somewhere in the castle or somewhere else?
In an effort to calm Jack down (and myself, if I'm honest), we've been trying to work out some things which aren't particularly important, along with a few that may be, such as the location of the secret room.
The one unimportant thing was that even if Ernest had found the alcove, and there's a pretty good chance he'd have seen it at some point even though it was outside that 'safe room', without a powerful light he wouldn't have been able to see the symbols. Perhaps he'd have seen something, shadows maybe, but Jack doubts whether he'd have been able to distinguish them. There may be a small note of it somewhere in his diary but nothing that Daniel remembered, we're sure.
Besides, we're now positive that if the guys hadn't gone and stood in exactly the right place at pretty much the same time Teal'c and I worked out how to switch the power source on, they wouldn't have been transported. And with no one to switch on the lights, so to speak, there is no way Ernest could be, well, illuminated.
That's another one of those 'coincidence? Or were we sent there?' things which none of us like.
We wondered why the two things, the power and the symbol, were in different places and came up with the idea that it was a security measure. There would have to be more than one person here, and there would have to be some way of getting to the power source. Short of Asgard transporters, though, we haven't found a way, although it's possible that whatever way there was in the castle itself is now in the sea. It might have been near the gate, which, as we found out when we'd got here, isn't there anymore.
Given that it seems that the Ancients were paranoid about Zeus, if possibly only at a later date, and given that it was a symbol which is probably only two to two and a half thousand years' old (assuming it was really just Buddhist and not much older) which acted as the... bus stop? Yeah, that'll do. I know what I mean. Anyway, given all of this, there's also a very good possibility that the room wasn't created until then and only as a means to protect the information which had been shared out. They'd have known Zeus was on Earth and short of him getting hold of an Asgard ship, it should have been safe from him.
So why were the cupboards bare, so to speak? Was it purely a decoy as Jack thinks; extra measures and layers of paranoia? Or has someone else already been there? Let's hope not.
And does that mean that the information had been given to the alien alliance later than we'd thought or was this just an afterthought by the Ancients? Damn it, where's Daniel when you need him? He'd work it out.
Oh God, more of the cliff has fallen away. Jack's face is one filled with horror. I have no idea what we're going to do if we don't find Daniel soon. He's going to go nuts, I'm sure. Think I'll follow him.
I get an idea; a final shred of hope.
"Jack, remember that we couldn't contact Gimli when we were down inside the castle with the power source on. Perhaps she can't see Daniel yet."
"The voice said that if the power goes out, he's going to be stuck there forever."
"Perhaps it didn't know about the transporters?" I offer.
He looks at me with the first sign of hope in his eyes since we got back together.
"Perhaps," he mutters, then keeps staring at the scans.
Time's going on. There's barely any power left now. It's the same as it was when we arrived. I tell Jack that just because it's at that low level, it doesn't mean it's switched off or to standby or whatever. It might still be properly on, just fading, like a candle nearing the end of its wick. I think he's nearing the end of his.
Suddenly, a set of scan data flashes up in front of me. I look at the timing and realise that it's not current. I also realise that none of us called it up because we're not touching any of the controls. That leads me to only one possible conclusion.
"Uh, Jack? I think Gimli's trying to tell us something."
"What? How could she?"
"Look at the data!"
Both guys gather around me and the data set resets itself and starts again.
We initially see four life-signs; two in the castle and two in the basement. Obviously the four of us as we got there. Then there's none, but there is an obvious boost to the naquada power source. Then, after quite some time - which speeds past on the data screen - it shows Jack stepping outside the castle. Even though the power source was not preventing telepathic thought between us when Jack got out of the shielded room, there was still no sign of us on the bio scans.
Gimli must have been watching out for us all the time we were there! Makes me wonder if she worried about us. I mean, would she? Could she? The Asgard have apparently close bonds with their ships... Who knows? Even on a good day I don't understand the machinations of aliens.
As we saw the part where Jack moved outside, I could have sworn the lights behind the data were a little brighter. Nah, must be imagining it.
Anyway, there's the transport log flashing up and we see Jack being brought 'home'. Instructions are typed into the transporter - he'd got us to stand right by the nearest wall to the sea and basically homed in on us, using his telepathy as a guide. We were lucky it worked.
"I wonder why Gimli's showing us this?" I ask the guys. They're both silent for a moment then Jack nods.
"She's telling us to be patient," he says quietly.
"What? Why? How?"
"It's all she could see when we weren't here, on the ship. She's also since heard us talking about the decreasing power source and she's saying 'hang on guys, let it go out and I'll find Daniel and bring him back'."
"That's a lot to figure out from a data stream," I counter.
"You have a better explanation?" he argues. Then he turns away and looks around the room as if he can look for Gimli. "Thanks, sweetheart," he says quietly. "Appreciate it."
"O'Neill. Much as I understand your interpretation, do you have any reason other than a hunch to back it up?" Teal'c asks after a short pause.
He shrugs. "On the way home yesterday. Found Daniel meditating or something in the central control room, right next to Gimli's 'brain'. He had no idea what was going on, but I know he thinks we were brought here, to the castle. That it wasn't just DJ's idea which triggered it off but there was something else."
"Gimli?" I ask.
"I'm not sure, don't think so though. I don't think he's sure, either. Actually, I'm damned sure he's not sure. Quite possibly he hasn't got a clue. He just knows it."
He shrugs again. "How does any of this shit happen?" he asks.
I'm going to have to trust in Gimli. It's not easy but there's a nagging voice in the back of my mind which just says 'do it'. So I am. I'm watching the power source and the bio scans and slowly, but surely, I'm falling out of my tree. If Danny doesn't make it...
NO. That's not going to happen. He is going to make it. One way or another, he'll make it. He has to. I won't leave without him. Not this time.
Never, ever again.
The power has gone. There's still no sign of life down there. Gimli's looking for any human life... human signs. Dead or alive. Nothing yet but I can tell that she's scanning like crazy without being asked to. Come on, Danny. Where the hell are you?
"Jack? What's that?" Sam says, pointing at a vague signal deep inside the last remaining part of the castle.
Not that there's much of it left; a bit on the top and that basement room with the power source and that appears to be about it. We've been watching it disappear into the water below, bit by bit, searching each piece for signs of Daniel as they've gone.
The area where the signal is has only just become clear, well, clearer on the scan because more of the castle between it and the sea has disappeared.
"That's got to be him," I say.
It's got to be. I won't let it not be. It's not clear enough to be recognised as human, there's still some sort of interference, but it doesn't fit in with any of the non-sentient life on the planet.
"I'm going down there."
They look oddly at me.
"Why don't we just beam him up?" Sam asks.
"Because we don't know it's him and..."
And what? I just have to.
"I'm not leaving the castle without him," I say in the end. "You two stay here and keep an eye out. See what happens to my signal when I'm in the same place. If it fades to what's there you'll know I've found him."
"What if there is something else there?" Teal'c asks.
I point to my head. "No point in using the comms. Just keep listening in. I'll yell if I need extracting in a hurry, okay?"
"Should I come with you?" he offers.
"You stay here for now. I'll call if I need help. No point in endangering more than one of us if it's not necessary."
I don't give them the chance to argue. I just instruct Gimli to send me to that sign. Please let it be him. Please.
He's here. Out cold, lying underneath a beam of some sort. Stone. Heavy. Not sure even Teal'c could have helped here. I'm going to have to get Gimli to just transport him up as he is.
There's that voice again. It sounds weaker than last time I heard it.
You must take him quickly.
"That was the plan," I agree. Then something makes me stop. "What about you?"
"Yes, you. Are you stuck? Can we get you out of here?"
The voice doesn't answer. Not sure if it can answer or if it's just thinking, or whatever it does.
I'm checking out Daniel as it does do whatever it is. He's still breathing, though it's a bit ragged. Breathing's good. It's real good. I'll take that. Can't see if there's any damage to him underneath that fucking stone though. I'm wondering what's going to happen when we release him. What if the stone is holding some broken blood vessels, like a pressure bandage type thing?
I know that rescuers are always scared about moving someone from underneath cover like this and not just because they're afraid that a wrong movement will make a broken neck worse. Sometimes they take bits of masonry and metal which are 'attached' to a victim to the hospital so they can be taken off in safer surroundings. What if we beam Daniel up and he starts bleeding to death?
NO. It's not happening.
"So?" I call out. "Can we take you somewhere? What are you?"
I am... The voice trails off as if it doesn't have words to describe it.
I cannot be separated from the information. I am the keeper of the records.
It says that abruptly.
"So, you're just going to stay here and die? Take that knowledge with you?"
I shall not die. That is not possible.
"You mean you're one of those ascended ones? Or are you not alive?"
I am not exactly alive.
"Look, we don't have time for this. If you want to get out of here, tell me now. We'll beam you up with all your records. And before you complain about exposing that information to us, we won't look for it."
What would you do with me? The information?
It sounds like it corrected itself. Me? There is some form of intelligence there, I'm sure of it.
"We'll take you somewhere suitable. We know a few safe havens. But tell me now or else I'm going to have to leave you."
There's a short pause, then:
Please take me.
If that wasn't the most plaintive sound I've heard in a long time, I don't know what was.
"Okay. Where are you? I need to know that or else we can't get you out of here."
A wall, door, well some sort of barrier moves and I see a, uh, I guess it's a computer of sorts. Crystals joined together, some alight, some not. This ain't going to be easy. I can see why the voice is starting to get afraid - and I think it is - 'cause one wall, the far one, has collapsed and it's now exposed to the elements.
I think I've figured out how Daniel's signal was so weak, too. It wasn't just the power source in the basement which was blocking us, it was the power for this record-keeping thing too. And now the wall is gone it's 'leaking', so to speak. It's how Gimli was just about able to see him.
"Okay. Give me a moment."
We hear you, O'Neill.
Good. Listen up. The life sign is Daniel but he's trapped under a large block of stone and he's unconscious. Sam. Go to the first aid room and get ready to receive him. Be prepared to staunch bleeding if necessary.
On my way. Give me a minute to get the stuff out. I'll call when I'm ready.
Can you see a bunch of crystals near to me on the scan?
There is a faint power source recently revealed.
Right. Look at everything in the room right next to me where you see the power. Then see if you can find a way to capture it all and take it up to Gimli.
Where should I put it? How large is it?
How large? Fucking huge!
Uh. Put it in the cargo hold. This thing is massive. Tell Gimli you want the whole thing beamed up in one piece. Speak, tell her out loud. I'm sure she'll understand.
I shall do that, he agrees.
Good. Now I can concentrate on Danny.
"The guys will transport you up to our cargo hold. Will you be able to speak to us when you're there?" I ask it.
Possibly. I do not know.
"Okay, plan A is that you tell us where you want to go when you're up there, if you know anywhere to go that is. Don't have time to discuss it now."
Before I can get to plan B, I hear, Okay, Jack, send him up.
Teal'c? Beam Daniel directly to the med room.
He doesn't even reply, I just see Daniel disappear. To be sure, and because the signal was so faint, I have a quick look around to make sure we haven't left any of him behind. Didn't want to think that; had to. No, the stone collapsed directly to the floor as he went. Can't see anything except a few small pools of blood. Nothing too serious by the looks of it.
"Right. Plan B is that we'll take you somewhere we'll believe you and your knowledge will be kept safe, if only temporarily. We can come up with a permanent solution later."
Why would you do this?
Why? Why not? I guess living and working with Daniel has made me think along these lines way more than I ever would have before.
"You're obviously intelligent. Possibly sentient. I wouldn't leave a dog behind in conditions like this. Besides, the info you have is obviously of great importance to the Ancients so... Well, I guess they'd want you to be safe."
I see. Thank you.
"You're welcome. Now, come on, let's get up there. Oh, and don't expect to see us straight away."
You have to deal with Daniel.
"Yes. He's the priority. Then we'll take care of you."
I have transported O'Neill straight back up to the medical room and am now attempting to transport the contents of that room to the cargo bay. I have given Gimli verbal instructions as well as homing the transporter in on the power signal. I only hope she understands. A moment later and the screen states that the transportation was successful.
I believe everything to be on board, O'Neill.
Get to the Tok'ra. NOW!
I fear for Daniel. O'Neill seems to be most afraid. I set the co-ordinates for the Tok'ra homeworld and then make my way to the medical room to see what is wrong for myself.
Daniel remains unconscious. Samantha has bandaged a few areas of his body already. O'Neill is cutting away at his clothes, carefully removing what he can without moving his body. Suddenly, he looks like he has an idea.
"Gimli, don't know if you can do this," he says out loud, "but could you fix your transporters on Daniel's clothes and remove them from him, please? I don't want to move his body any more than is necessary in case we do him some damage."
Before he has drawn breath, Daniel is surrounded by light and is then seen lying naked on the bed.
"Should have asked her to keep his underwear on," Samantha says, deliberately looking at Daniel's face as O'Neill picks up a sheet and lays it over Daniel's groin area.
He ignores her and says, "Thanks Gimli. Neat work. Right, Sam, can you see anywhere else that needs treating?"
She looks Daniel up and down, sees a few spots where bruising is appearing, along with grazes.
"You know," she says thoughtfully, "I don't think he's broken anything."
"At all?" O'Neill asks in astonishment. "He was under a fucking huge piece of stone. I was thinking crushed limbs and internal injuries."
Samantha shrugs. "He may well have some internal injuries, and I wouldn't like to speculate about the state of his spine, but apart from cuts and bruises, there's nothing obviously wrong. Certainly no major broken bones in his arms and legs."
"His breathing is better," O'Neill says, as much to himself as to the rest of us. "Must have been ragged when he was under the stone because it was squashing him. He must have broken ribs at least?"
With the utmost care, Samantha runs her hands over Daniel's chest and as far around his back as she can and shakes her head.
"Cracks, possibly, but there's nothing sticking in the wrong direction." She steps back and pushes her hair back with her fingers. "If I didn't know better, I'd say he's gotten a guardian angel."
"Are you sure you do know better?" I ask her.
She looks at me and shakes her head. "These days, Teal'c, I'm not sure I know anything."
We have arrived at the Tok'ra homeworld. O'Neill has retrieved a set of clothes for Daniel from their quarters and he is asking Gimli to beam him down first, and when he calls on her, she is to transport Daniel directly to the healing machine. Before he goes, he speaks to us.
"You guys stay here. Go and check out that computer thing. Talk to it. See if it can tell you where it wants to go, if it knows of anywhere that is. Take it there. The sooner it's somewhere safe, the happier I'll be."
"Can't we come with you?" Samantha complains, looking down at Daniel.
"Under normal circumstances, I'd say yes," he replies quietly. "But think of this. We're now in orbit of another planet. There are two ships with equal power to ours here, not to mention a couple of al'keshes on the side. If the Tok'ra detect some sort of crystals on this ship which they are not familiar with, they are going to ask awkward questions. Maybe even come on board. We're outnumbered, we may not be able to stop them.
"I promised that thing that we would not look at the information. Daniel's scared stiff that we'll end up knowing something that Zeus will be able to get a hold of. We need to get rid of it."
"O'Neill. If the machine is unable to respond, where should we take it?"
He stops and thinks for a moment, then nods to himself.
"Go to that planet of the giants."
"Jotunheim?" Samantha asks.
"That's the one. The one with the Asgard's repository. Don't go down to the planet but call Thor as you go there. He can arrange to take care of it, if only temporarily. If we meet up with Oma again, we can tell her where it is and she can make her own arrangements. Let me know where you're going before you leave orbit."
We are not happy to be leaving Daniel at the moment, but O'Neill speaks sense. Under no circumstances can we allow Ancient knowledge which is not already known of to become available to anyone, not even our allies. Because despite the thorough testing of the Tok'ra which we did, we are not certain that they have kept up the security standards of that time.
Now that all Tok'ra and their human helpers are aware of the plan to occasionally retest them, one who has been, or in the future will be, turned by the Goa'uld may well be able to take countermeasures. So now, just as in the past, we are able to trust very few of the Tok'ra to the point where we will share more information than is necessary.
It is with sadness that we see Daniel's body disappear from the table and I feel the need to hold Samantha. Her body is lax - she is distressed.
"He'd better make it," she whispers.
"He shall. There is no other option," I state. "Now come, we must speak to the machine."
Daniel's still out cold but it's not making any sense. Apollo's with me, as is Jacob. Garshaw's stuck her head in to see if he's okay. In fact, quite a few of the Tok'ra have 'popped in' during the time he's been here, and it's only been a short time.
The machine worked much quicker than I've seen it work before. The Tok'ra medic says that's a sign that he had no real damage. His cuts and bruises have gone - it seems that that's all he had wrong with him. No, it's not making any sense at all.
I've heard from the guys. The machine wasn't able to speak, so they're taking it to the giants' place. They're going to be gone for quite a while. In the meantime, I need to know why Danny's still unconscious.
"Any ideas?" I ask again of all the Tok'ra in the room.
"None," Jake says, his head shaking. "He hasn't got any physical injuries that we can tell."
"Dammit. Look, I'm going to take him to the SGC. I want the Doc to do a brain scan. He's been..." I pause, not wanting to give too much away, especially as there are others in here, not just Apollo and Jacob. "Getting headaches," I say in the end. "Maybe there's a connection."
"Do you wish to dress him first?" Apollo asks.
"Yeah. If it's safe to move him?" I ask the medic.
"I see no reason why not," he replies.
So I do it. Apollo insists on helping. He won't leave him. He's not even taking his eyes off Daniel's face, constantly watching for signs that show he's waking up. In the past I'd have gotten jealous of this sort of attention, but I'm beginning to understand Apollo's connection to Daniel. I'm not there yet, but I'm starting to get it.
That he loves Danny isn't in question. It's how he loves him that worries me, but on Daniel's side of things there's no doubt in my mind. He loves Apollo as a friend. He wouldn't leave him if the tables were turned. In the end, he'd come home with me. No questions, no doubt, not even the tiniest piece of jealousy on my part. Daniel would not leave me. Not like that. So I let Apollo help, understanding that he needs to do something, anything, to make Daniel better.
"I'd better carry him," I say when it's done.
Apollo looks at me with... no, it's not disdain. Pity? Perhaps. He gets why I want to do it but he says, "I have no intention to insult you, Jack, but may I suggest that I carry him? It is quite a walk to the gate."
I have to stop myself from arguing and just thank him instead. I may be stronger than I was but Daniel weighs a ton, especially when he's a dead weight like this. Jake says he'll scoot and get the GDO. Didn't bring ours. Didn't think we'd need it. Knew we'd forget something, we always do.
I watch as Apollo lifts Daniel with ease and carries him like he's carrying a sleeping kid.
Janet's on duty, thank God. She's running her tests on Daniel, only allowing what information is necessary to get out to the various nurses and other doctors on duty. He's had his MRI scan and she says that there's no damage there. No swelling, no broken skull, no pooling of blood or even a tiny clot, or even signs that there was something there before the Tok'ra's machine did its work. And best of all, there's no tumour. That's a relief, a real relief.
But it doesn't explain why he's still unconscious. I'm scared.
He hasn't made a sound since I found him under that stone. The only noise at all that's coming from him is the very reassuring sound of his breathing. But there hasn't been as much as a murmur yet. I'd give anything to hear him complaining that he's got a fucking headache so piss off and leave him alone. Yeah, that would be good. Hearing 'Jack, I love you' would be better, but I'll take the usual 'fuck off' for now.
There are discussions about the MRI readings. I'm only half-paying attention to them as they're in geek-speak, but when I hear Janet say, "Incredible activity here," I sit up and pay more attention. She and a couple of other doctors are in the room where the displays on the computers are. Daniel's in a bed in the infirmary, but he's close to it and the door is open.
"Doc? What's up?" I call.
I hear the oh, so familiar sound of the click-clack of her heels (we're sure she has them tipped with steel and sharpened, to go with her tongue, natch), and she heads out to me. Before she can say something I say, "Uh, keep it in layman's terms, huh?"
"Of course. Well, as we've already established, there's nothing wrong. But we've noticed that the area associated with dreaming is highly active. The thing is," she says, bending over and staring at Daniel's shut eyes, "there's no other sign that he's in a dream state. No rapid eye movement."
"But it's that part of the brain which is active?"
"Yes. There are different dream states, but he's showing all the signs of being in a lot of REM sleep at the moment. There are also indications that the parts of the brain to do with both the long- and short-term memories are active, but they're not as... lively," she decides on after a pause, "as the REM state. We want to put him back in the scanner and see if it's going on and off or if it's permanent."
"Only for as long as he's unconscious, Jack," she says, putting her hand on my arm. "I didn't mean like in a coma. He's not in a coma."
"That's good," I try, attempting to hold back the tears.
Well, it's late and I'm tired and I want Daniel back with me - awake. Preferably nailing me to the bed again.
"Go for it," I say. "Find out what you can."
As some others take Daniel to the scanner, she comes close to me.
"I don't know if this has anything to do with..." She points surreptitiously to her head. The telepathy. I get it, so I nod. "All I can do is tell you what we see and what we don't. So far, that's the only indication of anything unusual. Even his bloods are absolutely normal."
"Bloods? You haven't let anyone see the nanocytes, have you?" I ask under my breath.
"Did them myself, removed the parts of the data concerning them and then destroyed the sample."
"You keep one in the infirmary?" I ask in shock.
She stands up straight, ready to walk away and says, "A gal can't be too careful in a place like this." Then she saunters away, raising two joined fingers and blows on the top of them like she's blowing away gun smoke.
Despite the circumstances, she makes me laugh. I look at Jake and Apollo who are still with me, sitting on the chairs on the other side of the bed, and see them trying not to laugh, too.
We put a call out to Thor as soon as we left the Tok'ra homeworld. Don't know how Jack's going to explain why we're not with them, but he'll come up with something. Someone's bound to ask questions, they always do.
We didn't tell Thor exactly what we've got here, mainly because we're none too sure ourselves. We just told him that we'd rescued some technology from Heliopolis, then had to give him the co-ordinates of the planet as they called it something different, apparently. Heliopolis was the name given by Ernest.
Anyway, we said that the tech was Ancient and that it needed to be kept somewhere safe, and away from prying eyes. He agreed that Jotunheim was probably the safest place possible, mainly because they still have the phase-shifting device there. Should the worst happen and the Replicators turn up in the system, they can just hide the planet.
I can't help but look at the construction of the machine. Is there any way I can get some power to it? I must have that sort of look on my face because soon I hear Teal'c's voice.
"Samantha, do not touch it."
I put my hands in my pockets.
"I wasn't going to touch it," I say carefully. "I was just looking to see if I could power it up. Then we could talk to it. You know, like the guys did."
"I understand your reasoning," he rumbles, "but perhaps it would be for the best to leave it until Thor arrives."
Dammit, he's right. I look up at the machine and wonder if it can hear us. Maybe it can? I notice that Teal'c's heading out of the cargo bay so I wait till he's gone and then say;
"I don't know if you can hear me or understand me, but I just want to let you know that we're taking you somewhere safe. To the Asgard. Our plan is to keep you there and if we meet up with Oma Desala again, we can tell her where you are. You're going to be in good company. The planet we're going to holds the records of the Asgard. It's as safe as we can make it. I hope that's all right with you."
There's no answer, of course, but I get the feeling we're doing the right thing. After all, if a book had feelings, wouldn't it want to be in a library? And why did I just think that? A book with feelings? I've been hanging around Daniel for too long.
I turn and go and make my way up to the bridge. Despite our 'mission', my mind is with Daniel. Has he woken up yet? Is he all right? I'm almost positive he had no serious injuries and I'd really like to know how that was. With Jack's description of the stone that was on top of him, it's surprising that he was still three dimensional. He should have been squashed flat.
I'm seriously wondering about the whole 'guardian angel' thing.
Still no sign of Daniel waking up. There's got to be something I can do. I've eaten - Janet had some food brought up to the three of us. None of us have left his side, not for a moment. At least not since he came back from the MRI scanner again. The results were the same. It looks like he's sleeping and dreaming. His body, however, is absolutely still. The only sign he's alive is the really quiet sound of breath from him and the slightest motion of his chest as he breathes.
I've tried contacting him telepathically, but it's like it was when he was joined with Apollo. There's nothing there. I'm hoping that this is just because he's unconscious, and not because he's... Uh oh.
"Um, guys, I think we should take him home," I say.
They look at me oddly. Jake says, "I'd say he'd be better off here, Jack. You never know what might happen. He may go downhill. I mean, I hope he doesn't and that he just wakes up..."
I put my hand up to stop him mid-flow, then beckon the two of them to come closer.
"Listen up," I say in a whisper. "I've got no contact with him at all. None."
"And that means?" Jake whispers back.
"Last time it was like this, he was with Apollo."
"He has no symbiote," Apollo says, looking shocked.
"No, we know that from the MRIs. But..." Now, how do I put this? "Look, even when he's asleep, seriously out of it, I can kind of slip into his mind if I need to."
"Why would you do that?" Jacob asks.
"He gets nightmares," I shrug. "And he never wants to talk about them."
"So you can see what's setting them off?" he asks.
"Precisely. But now? Now I'm getting nothing."
Apollo sits back and takes a deep breath, then he gets where I'm going with this.
"You know, perhaps he would rather awaken in his own bed," he says quite firmly.
Jacob still hasn't got it, but I can explain it later if necessary.
"Yeah. He's pretty fond of that bed," I agree. "If he's going to wake up in the infirmary, it's going to freak him out."
I stand up, see that Janet is getting ready to go off duty so I call out to her.
"Hey, Doc. Thanks for everything you've done."
"Jack? What do you mean?" she demands, striding out of her room.
"We've been thinking. If he's physically okay and he's only sleeping, he's going to prefer to be in his own bed. You know, I wouldn't mind betting that he's going to sleep through till the morning. Then he's going to wake up and wonder what all the fuss is about. And you know how much he hates fuss."
She looks at me suspiciously and I'm flagging how much I want her to agree as best I can. In the end, she shrugs.
"Bring him back the first sign of any change for the worse. No arguments!"
"No, Ma'am," I agree. Sort of. "He'll be here if there's anything to worry about, I promise. I'll let you know when he wakes up."
"You do that. In the meantime, you've gotten until the morning to get him awake. After that, I want him back here for a check up. I'll put him on a drip to boost his liquids and so on. I haven't done it now because there's been no sign that he's needed them. Quite frankly, I haven't attempted to treat him because I couldn't see anything to treat him for. But there's only so long that the body can go without water."
"Agreed. If he's not awake by..." I check my watch and try to work out how long he's been out - and more to the point, the last time he ate. Uh, that was breakfast today. Oops. "Oh eight hundred, our time, which is darned close to your time. That'll be about 24 hours since he last ate. Will that be okay?"
"That's fine. He doesn't appear to be in any sort of shock so I'm not too panicked about getting fluids into him. If he goes cold and clammy, or there are any worrying signs in the meantime, I want him back - stat."
"He'll be here."
"So, are you going to explain the real reason why we're taking him to Annwn?" Jake asks.
We've arrived on the Tok'ra homeworld, he's just explained to a passing Tok'ra that he and Apollo are going to be off-world, possibly for the night at least, and now he's dialling up our home. Didn't want to go there straight from the SGC - not these days. I'm getting more and more paranoid about their security as time goes on.
"Let's get through the gate," I say.
It whooshes into life - Apollo's still carrying him, he's refusing to give him back - and we step through. Once we're all together again and we start to make our way up the gully, I explain.
"Remember what happened when Apollo left him?" I ask.
"He freaked out," Jake replies.
"Exactly. And that was the last time I had no connection to him at all."
"You think he's going to do it again?" he asks.
"I don't honestly know. He may not have his barriers up; uh, it's what we say when we're blocking out other people's thoughts. Even if it's just that, being in a place where there are a few hundred minds in a short space from him, well, that's going to hurt him bad. You have to understand, Jake, that's painful. It's not just loud, it physically hurts."
"I see. I get the feeling you're worried about something else, too."
"This is only conjecture, and really it's only a matter of taking precautions. I don't know what happened to him between leaving him and finding him again. Something might have happened to boost his powers again. It might not have. I hope to God it hasn't, to be honest. But I couldn't take that chance."
We're at the trees now, making our way through to our house. I automatically look over to MIB's place and see that the lights aren't on. They haven't come home yet. Wish they would.
"Where were you anyway? You never said."
"Ah, just going over old ground," I say with a shrug. "Back in our first year as a team we came across an interesting place. We had to leave quickly because the place where the gate was was unstable." So unstable it ain't there anymore, but let's not go there. "We just reckoned that with the ship, we could go back and safely, well, more safely look again."
"Did you find anything?"
Find anything? Hell yeah. But nothing I can even tell Jacob about. Not yet anyway.
"Bit of a washout, really. Only managed to reproduce the info we found before. That's all back at the SGC and Daniel wanted to go over it again."
"So, why did you leave him?"
"We found a different room but there were difficulties with the comms. I had to get out of there to talk to the others. They were exploring a different part of the building, and as it was falling down, I wanted to make sure they were okay. Something happened, couldn't get back into Daniel, so we went up to the ship and it took a while to find him."
"And you think something happened between those times?" he pushes, rather suspiciously if you ask me.
"Like I said, I don't know. I'm just not taking any chances."
"By the way," he says, as we enter the house, "where're Sam and Teal'c? I got the feeling that you didn't want to talk about it before so I didn't mention it."
"Ah, they're running an errand. And before you ask, I'm sorry, I can't tell you what or where or for whom. Let's just say it doesn't affect you guys or the SGC, it's important to that other, um, person, and that they're as safe as they can be. They're not going into a place of danger, if you're worried."
"That's my daughter you're talking about, Jack. Of course I'm worried!"
"Me too. Permanently. But let's say I'm not overly worried. No more than I would be if they'd taken the ship back to Earth."
And these days, that would probably worry me more.
Apollo lays Daniel on the bed and says, "Why don't you get ready for bed yourself, Jack? You look tired. I know Daniel would prefer to wake up next to you."
"Sure. But I want to wait for the others. They should be back soon with any luck. I'll leave the bedroom door open. We can go into the living room and listen out."
As we sit, I see Apollo frowning. "What's up?" I ask him.
"Did you tell Sam and Teal'c to come back here? Or will they go to the Tok'ra world first?"
"Um, you know, I hadn't thought about that."
I stand up, look around - what at, I don't know - and realise that I have no way of communicating with them. Mia doesn't have the comms that will work at the sort of distances we're talking about if they're still on the other side of the galaxy. Sam has taken her personal subspace communicator.
Right, that's it, when she gets back we're not going anywhere until we all have them. With MIB elsewhere, and God only knows where, I have no way of contacting them.
"Uh, guys? Why don't you go back home and wait for them? Let them know to come straight here, would you please?"
"Sure," Jake sighs, knowing he isn't going to get much in the way of info out of me. Then I see a look in his eye which says that he'll try pumping Sam.
"Apollo, you may as well go, too," I say, staring into his eyes and hoping that he'll get it. He tends to pick up on undertones quicker than most.
"Very well," he says slowly, but he's looking in at Daniel. "May I say 'goodnight'?" he asks, pointing into the bedroom.
I watch him go in, see that Jake's standing up and heading to the kitchen door to leave, so I head to the bedroom door. I whisper something in his direction, using the doorframe as a barrier between me and Jake, and hope that he hears.
"Don't let Jacob question Sam about her mission, please."
Apollo shows no sign of having heard me, instead he leans down and kisses Daniel's forehead.
"Sleep well, my friend, and wake up gently."
Then he walks past me and very quietly says, "I shall do so."
Damn, he's good.
"Thor, it's good to see you again." Samantha seems genuinely pleased to see our Asgard friend once more, as am I, especially under the circumstances.
"It is good to see you both, as well," he replies. "Where are O'Neill and Daniel Jackson?"
"Bit of a long story," she says with a sigh. "It's connected with what we've called you here for. Come with us and we'll explain as we go."
Thor had transported himself to our peltac and now we walk to the cargo bay. It takes quite a while as the ship is large, so by the time we have arrived at our destination, Samantha has explained everything, including why we brought the... crystalline construction, for want of a better description, here.
"I see," he says when she finishes. "You say that Zeus is on Earth?"
"You know of him?" I ask.
"By reputation rather than by experience. When we assisted the other races to leave Earth after the stargate had been buried, some of them mentioned him as being their reason to leave. They feared him greatly."
"As do the Ancients, or so it seems," I say.
"If that is the case, then he must be dealt with. Perhaps your ship could find him and transport him off the planet?"
"I get the feeling it's not going to be as simple as that," Samantha says sadly. "If it were, I'm sure the Ancients would have done something with him by now. In the meantime, would you take care of this, um, library I suppose it is. Jack said it contains knowledge which cannot fall into the hands of, well, pretty much anyone."
"Including yourselves?" he asks.
"We haven't even attempted to turn it on," she replies firmly. "Daniel is of the opinion that we can only fight Zeus with technology that he is familiar with, or even with lesser tech if it comes to it. We're too afraid to get our hands on something he doesn't know about, including information."
"A wise precaution. And the answer is 'yes'. We will be able to install this in the repository."
"Will you power it up?" I ask.
"I am not certain," he says thoughtfully. "My fear is that without power for a prolonged time it may lose its data, then bringing it here for safekeeping would have been a fruitless exercise. However, as you say, this information belongs to the Ancients, not the Asgard."
"Well, of all peoples, I'm sure the Ancients would be happier for you to know it."
He moves his head slightly and stares at her, unblinking. Then he says something which underlines Daniel's position.
"If I were to turn it on and gather its knowledge, I, too, would become vulnerable to exposing it. Should the Replicators attack me and get me into a position where I would be unable to prevent them from accessing my mind, then powerful information could end up where it could do the most damage.
"As your people often say, ignorance is bliss. Or in this case, ignorance is the safest course of action. I think we should just allow the library to access power to protect itself from memory loss. After that, no one will be allowed near it."
"Can you trust those who keep your own records to be sufficiently incurious when exposed to the possibility of great knowledge?" I ask.
As Thor turns to look at me, it appears that he lets loose what can only be described as a shrug. I have never seen such an action from him before.
"I have to," he states. "I believe that they will do as they say," he adds, a little more firmly, as if to convince himself rather than us.
Given that we have no other real option, we agree. However, before Thor goes to his own ship to arrange the transportation of the device to his own ship first - much room will need to be made for it within the repository, after all - I have a question for him.
"Thor, could you answer me one question? It is not dangerous information which I seek, more a clarification of circumstance."
"Ask. I will answer if I am able."
"Thank you. When we found the Furlings' ship, it was apparent that the Ancients had met up with them when they, the Ancients, were still in humanoid form and using ships. They installed a translation device onto the Furlings' ship which allowed Daniel to translate the records found there.
"However, when we first went to the castle from where we retrieved this item, we discovered a device which projected many holographic images of atomic elements into the air. Daniel, and Ernest Littlefield - the man we had gone to rescue - assumed that the images were there as a means to assist in communication between four peoples whose writings appeared in panels on the walls.
"Your own race was identified by the runes, and after O'Neill's interaction with the Ancients' device and his subsequent contact with your people, it was then realised that the four languages represented there were those of the Ancients, the Furlings and the Nox, along with yourselves.
"Over time, though, it has puzzled me. How would the four races have got together initially without being able to communicate? And if the Ancients had this translation device, why should there be a need for a universal language?"
Samantha looks at me oddly. "Why didn't you mention this before, Teal'c?"
"I am not sure. I think that it is only now that we have returned there, and of course, since we found the Furlings' ship only comparatively recently, that the pieces of this particular puzzle have come together. It only now struck me as a coherent thought, rather than odd bits of confusion as it was in the past."
"Oh. Okay," she says with a shrug.
I turn to Thor and await his answer.
"You are correct that those languages are those of the four races," he confirms, "and you are also correct that because of the Ancients, we were already able to communicate at that point. However, their translation device allowed only for a more basic translation than that which would be required.
"It soon became apparent that we would need a much deeper level of understanding when it came to exchanging scientific knowledge, for example. Not the sort of science which was universally known, but the sort of knowledge which each race had developed separately.
"To avoid any confusion or misunderstanding, which could have been dangerous, we developed the method of translation based on the known elements. By taking each item of our own languages to their simplest form, it allowed us to be far more accurate in more technical exchanges. It was this which allowed us all to begin to understand, and eventually develop the technology to communicate in whichever language was necessary."
"I see. That explains much, I thank you. Was this technical exchange a part of the coming-together of the four races?"
"It was part of the peace treaty and our joint philosophical approach towards the state of the galaxy."
"Could you expand on that?"
He shakes his head slightly. "There are some things which I am not able to speak of. I am sorry. For your people to truly become the Fifth Race, you must work these out for yourselves. And though a small group of you are out here, exploring the galaxy, humankind as a whole, at least on Earth, must come to the same conclusions. Only then will you be in a position to understand why things are the way that they are."
I am not sure that that clears things up particularly, but it is plain that that is the only answer which we shall get.
"I thank you for your explanation," I say. "And for your assistance," I finish, pointing at the machine.
Thor nods, says goodbye to us both, and then disappears to his ship, we assume. A moment or two later, the library also disappears.
"I guess it's time to go home," Samantha sighs.
"It is. Let us go to the galley and get something to eat as we travel."
We went first to the Tok'ra homeworld's system, as we did not know if O'Neill and Daniel would still be there. However, as soon as we entered the system and made our presence known, we heard Apollo's voice over the communicator. It seemed that he was on one of the ships and had been awaiting our return. He said little, except to say that O'Neill and Daniel had returned home and that we were to go there directly. We thanked him and are now entering our own system.
It has not taken more than a few minutes to get here but it has been spent in silence.
As we get to our orbiting position, Samantha says, "Did Apollo sound odd to you?"
"He sounded quite..." Quite what? Abrupt? No, not that. That implies rudeness. He was anything but rude. In the end I decide on, "Direct."
"That's not like him," she muses as we prepare to transport home.
"Perhaps we shall find out why when we meet up with the men," I suggest.
She does not look convinced, but nods anyway. It takes but the blink of an eye for us to transport from the ship to the kitchen where we see O'Neill asleep at the table, his arms folded, his head resting on them.
"Jack?" Samantha quietly calls, gently shaking his shoulder.
He wakes up suddenly, his head lifting, his eyes opening widely but still full of sleep and he says, "Wha?"
"Hey, are you okay?" she asks.
"Sorry," he says, shaking his head as if to awaken himself more fully. "Been waiting for you. Did it go all right?"
"Sure, we met up with Thor. Found some stuff out, but that can wait till morning. Daniel's going to want to hear it. How is he?"
O'Neill's face falls. He stands up, beckons us to come with him and we look inside the bedroom. Daniel is on his back, asleep, his face seemingly staring at the ceiling though his eyes are shut.
"He's still out cold."
He tells us what happened, including the reason for bringing him home and explains Apollo's message fully. We now understand but are most concerned.
"Go to bed," I tell him. "Perhaps Daniel shall wake in the morning, just as you suggested."
"God, I hope so," he murmurs. "Good work, by the way," he says. "You get some rest, too."
Wow, that was a weird dream. Um, where am I? Home? In my bed? How did I get here? Last I remember I was... Uh, where was I? Somewhere else, for sure. Let's think. What's the last vivid memory I have? Oh yes. Very nice. Jack does look good on his back and...
Okay, he's sleeping, let's not think down those lines right now. What time is it? I look at my watch which is on the side table and see that it's four thirty. Yeuch! That sort of time is only seen from the other end, so to speak, when I'm working through the night. Never when I've slept and woken up - well, at least not without good reason.
Perhaps I should try to get back to sleep?
Nope. Not going to work. Okay, coffee. Carefully, so as not to disturb Jack, I get out of bed, sneak into the kitchen... brrr, it's cold.
Quickly make up the fire for the water heaters as well as to warm up the house, put the coffee maker on (and I'm so glad Sam electrified the kitchen. Sure, I love the wood-burning stove but the coffee maker keeps coffee hot, whereas the cafetière doesn't) and decide to make myself something to eat while I'm waiting for it to do its job. I'm starving. Must be why I woke.
Right, that's done. First mug of coffee goes down quickly, followed by a second to be drunk more at leisure. That second one gives the first one a chance to do its job. Now, eat and think.
We were supposed to be going somewhere, weren't we? Where was it? Oh yes, Heliopolis. Right. Can remember being on the ship, can remember being in the room with the atomic gizmo... then... Then what? There was something after that. Dark. Tight. A light flashing around.
Ah ha! Got it. Weird symbols on the wall. Next thing I remember is being in a different room? How did we get there? Don't know, perhaps it'll come back to me soon. What do I remember about the room? Jack filming. Filming what?
I lift my head up and look around our kitchen and living rooms as if it can jog my memory. I see the camera to one side. Ah, that might help. I know I have had rather a lot of 'blank' moments recently, so if I, uh, assist my memories this time, then Jack's not going to have another reason to panic.
The viewscreen is too small. Where's my laptop? There's one in the bedroom. Could go down to the tunnels but it's getting warmer by the minute up here and I'm loath to leave. Okay, creep back into the bedroom, hear Jack snoring - that's good - and creep back out with my computer. Plug it in, switch it on, then wait until the OS has decided that stupid o'clock in the morning is actually a good time to work for once.
Done, it's up and running, now slide the memory card into the reader on the side of the machine. Open the program and see lots of film. There's the atomic stuff, but let's get past that. Ah, there's that strange room. More writings, but not Ancient. Ogham? What's that doing there? What's it say?
Uh, it's a list of data by the looks of it. Pretty esoteric stuff to do with states of being. Odd. What's that next to it? Akkadian? Ok-ay, that's weird too. What does that say? Much the same in basic meaning but there are some subtle differences as to the contents of the list. So this means... I have it, a memory's just hit me. It's the list of things given out to each race in contact with the Ancients. Of course! So this was a library of sorts.
Hang on, Akkadian? Where...
Okay, must get down to the tunnel. Need to read that fragment from Berossus.
Gimli, could you transport me to the tunnel please?
Don't want to use the rings because they're noisy. Don't think the others would appreciate being woken up. There's a delay in transportation. Is Gimli asleep?
Gimli? Did you hear me?
Hello, Daniel. It is good that you are awake and well now.
Uh, Gimli? That you?
Of course. Why do you wish to go to the tunnel? Is it not very early for you?
Uh, yes, but I'm fine. I'm awake. Wonder why she said that it's good that I'm up now and then she's questioning it. Strange. I just need to look something up, that's all. And how are we, uh, talking?
We have communicated before.
We have? Why don't I remember it?
I believe that you are not supposed to remember some things, Daniel.
Oh God. I suppose I'm not going to remember this, am I?
Probably not. It is for the best.
Why do I get the feeling that you're not the only one to have told me that?
I am not privy to any other communications that you have had with other beings. Only that you and I have once spoken.
Okay. Well, I still need to get to the tunnel and I don't want to wake the others yet, so could you please send me?
There's the usual moment's - well, disorientation would be an understatement - and then I'm whole again and in the tunnel as requested. In my study, in fact.
Thanks Gimli. I'll shout again when I need to go back up.
You will not need to shout, Daniel. A thought will suffice.
I laugh out loud, I can't help it.
Uh, figure of speech, sweetheart. I'll just 'think' to you, I promise.
There's no answer so I head off to the shelves. Now, Berossus? Or Alexander Polyhistor? Which did we file it under? We only have the writings of Alexander here, but he's said to have copied Berossus' writings. What makes Berossus interesting is that he was a priest of Bel. Bel - or is that really another name for Baal? Whatever, he had access to sacred writings.
He's one of the main sources for the Mesopotamian story of the flood - and not just the Gilgamesh version, either. Xisuthrus. There are two distinct versions from more or less the same place. The Gilgamesh story uses more 'local' gods and isn't as close to the biblical account as is commonly believed, although it is too close to be a separate invention.
The one containing the character Xisuthrus, however, is very similar. Xisuthrus' god, however, the one who warns him, tells him to build the ship (and gives its dimensions), take his family and the various animals and so on, is Cronus.
Ignoring the factor of the timing of the flood here, not to mention that there's no physical sign of a worldwide one within 'living' memory (in other words, the sort of time in which folk tales could continue to exist, unless people really could 'remember' as far back as the end of the Ice Age), it makes me wonder how much truth there is in it. The fact that birds were sent to check out the lay of the land, as it were, in the various tales just adds to that air of mystery regarding it.
Anyway, that's not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for a different part of the text.
Ah ha. Here it is. Time to get back to the warmth, methinks.
Gimli, could you send me to the kitchen, please?
There's no answer as I appear in the kitchen. She obviously heard me, so why didn't she speak this time? Or was I imagining it last time? Oh boy, not again...
Sod it. Coffee and reading. Sounds good to me.
I hear a noise from the kitchen. Yes, there's the distinct chink of a coffee cup against the glass pot from the maker. Would know that anywhere. What time is it? Ugh. Five thirty. I look over and see that Teal'c is still in deep meditation. He must have learned to shut out the usual 'home' sounds since we all moved in together as he used to open his eyes at the slightest noise.
So, as quietly as I can, I slip out of bed. Because he wasn't sleeping with me, I'd put some pyjamas on. Nice, brushed cotton, warm pyjamas. Not particularly sexy, but definitely comfortable when there's a lot of snow outside. I'm thinking it's as much a mental thing as a physical one. No matter how warm and comfy the bed is, it's definitely better if you're wrapped up in a soft, warm material when you know that outside the house the temperature is below freezing.
Brrr. I'm shivering now just thinking about it. Perhaps a coffee will warm me up from the inside. Jack must be up and about, probably worried sick about Daniel.
"Hey, what are you doing up?" I ask, seeing that there's only just enough coffee in the pot for a small mug and that he's working at his laptop.
"Uh, hi Sam. Just woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. Figured I'd be better off doing something. Didn't disturb you, did I?"
"Um, no. You didn't. Just woke, that's all."
I pour the remains of the coffee and switch the machine off to let it cool for a while before I refill it.
"So, you okay?" I ask him.
He shrugs. "I know it's unusual for me to be up this time of the morning, but it's not unknown."
I didn't mean that, but I wonder how much I should say. How much does he remember? He surely can't remember being unconscious. I dare say it won't hurt to tell him what I heard from Jack. Maybe it'll help him put Jack's mind at rest that he's now, apparently, fine.
"That wasn't what I meant, Daniel."
"Oh? What did you mean?"
He finally tears his eyes completely from the screen in front of him and stares back at me.
"Well, when we got home yesterday, you were asleep."
"And?" he asks, as if that's unusual. Before I can answer, he frowns, "Got home? You went somewhere without us?"
I sigh, shrug, then surrender and tell him what happened. At least from my perspective.
"Could explain why I don't remember anything after entering that room," he says, more to himself than to me.
"Did the computer speak to you after Jack went?"
"Computer? Oh, the library thing you said you took to Thor?"
"You don't remember that, do you?"
I see frustration written across his face as he desperately attempts to remember something.
"We were transported into a room - that one," he says, pointing at an image on the screen. "There were cupboards, but they were empty. There were writings on the walls. That writing. I've looked over the film and yes, now I really do remember being there and reading it. I've used the film to jog my memory but now it's all there."
Then he frowns, shrugs, stands up and starts some more coffee off.
"At least I think I remember it all to that point. There doesn't seem to be any time I can't account for while we were doing this," he says, pointing again at the screen.
"Do you remember getting into the room with the library or whatever it was?"
He's standing by the coffee pot, willing it to work faster. It dawns on me that he's already had about four mugs, maybe five, because I can't see him making half a pot, especially in the morning. He must be wired!
"Uh, Daniel," I say, as he thinks about the answer, "don't get mad but perhaps you might be better off without another mug of coffee just yet. I mean, how many have you had?"
He looks oddly at me as if to say, 'what's that got to do with anything?'. Perhaps he's right. I sometimes wonder if there's any room in his veins for blood, filled as it is with nanocytes and caffeine.
Oh, nanocytes. That reminds me of what Jack said last night. Before I can say anything, the pot 'farts' (Jack's description of the sound it makes when it's done) and Daniel automatically pours one. He puts his hand out to me and without thinking, I give him my mug. Who the hell am I to condemn him for his coffee habit? Sheesh.
When he sits back down, I tell him what Jack said just before he went to bed.
"So you see," I say as I finish. "He was worried that something had happened to you because he couldn't connect to you."
"He brought me home just in case my barriers were down," he replies thoughtfully.
"Yeah. Was scared you'd freak out."
"Can't say I blame him," he answers with a shrug. "I'll have to make a point of thanking him for it."
"There wasn't any problem when you woke? I mean, do you still have your telepathy?"
Sure I do, he replies in my head. Well, that answered that. And no, there were no problems.
"Glad to hear it. There must have been another reason for it. Maybe it had something to do with those weird MRI readings?"
"Maybe. Don't know. I don't remember anything."
"Have you remembered entering that room yet?" I ask again.
"There's something there," he says, screwing his eyes up, "but to be honest, it's pretty vague. Maybe when that block of stone hit me I banged my head and that's caused me to forget?"
Something doesn't ring true about that, but under the circumstances I'll agree with him. He's getting a bit distressed about it. So, time to change the subject.
"What were you studying when I came in?" I ask instead. That seems to cheer him up no end, which means he's discovered something interesting. It usually does.
"It's connected to the writings. There were loads of languages there but one set was in Akkadian."
"Cuneiform?" I ask, praying I got that one right.
"What's the significance? I mean, that one specifically."
"Don't you remember?" he teases.
"There's something familiar about it," I agree, "but..." I shake my head. "Can't place it."
With a grin, he slides a piece of paper over to me. Oh - my - God.
"Another lot? More to the point, another one that we've met?"
He doesn't say anything but grins. Then he points to a specific part of the writing.
"But that's the same..."
"I know. Exactly, precisely the same. As with the others, the conditions and the myth's base are different but the details are the same. The alliance is getting bigger and bigger. I mean, we knew it was big, we knew it was bigger than we'd realised, but I don't think we really grasped how far this went. Or how deep."
"How do you mean, how deep?"
"Think about it. If this constant repetition of the myth is factually accurate - by that I mean the contents of it rather than the fanciful imagery - then humanity as it stands now is probably at least five, perhaps ten thousand years ahead of what it should be."
"Ten thousand would tie in with the Goa'uld turning up," I say.
"I know. Not sure if that's connected or not. Perhaps it is."
He stands up again, walks away from the table and then turns on his heel and smacks his forehead.
"How could I have missed it!"
"Too many coincidences. Too much... stuff."
"Daniel, I'm not getting you."
"Why did humans, who for thousands upon thousands of years had been happily going about, inventing technologies bit by bit but without the benefit of a writing system, suddenly start putting things down on paper? Well, on clay, stone, parchment, then paper... You know what I mean."
"Didn't it happen at different times in different places?" I ask, thoroughly confused.
"Why? Simple question. Why did it happen at different times in different places? Or rather, how can we prove it?"
"Daniel, you're going off on one of your tangents again."
"Nuh huh, just a bit of lateral thinking. We have the clay tablets from Mesopotamia. They're the earliest writing we have. Think about that last sentence. Why did I just choose those words specifically?"
"The earliest writings?" I ask.
"That we have," he states firmly.
"Uh, clay keeps better... Oh!"
"And she gets it," he says with a grin.
"You mean that some of the others may have had writing systems at a similar time, but at that point were writing on some materials which didn't stand the test of time?"
"But why did some of them go back to stone and clay?" I push.
"Who says they went back to that?" he counters. "Who's to say they weren't writing on something with a limited life and got fed up of their more important writings effectively disappearing? Why couldn't they have decided that chiselling out whichever writing system they had in stone be a more permanent way of keeping the more important records?
"What you must understand, Sam, is that in some places, baked clay was the obvious choice. There was a lot of it about - uh, unbaked clay that is. But in other places, who's to say they weren't writing on dried leaves, for example? In a climate where trees were plentiful and clay was not, they could have made a form of paper from the leaves long before deciding on 'immortalising' their words.
"Most inscriptions we have, short of the graffiti found all over the place, are important notifications. We don't get much in the way of day-to-day activity, at least when compared to the amount of royal proclamations. It's only in places where they used the clay do we have more of that day-to-day stuff."
"But what of the ink?" I push. "Surely that would have taken time to develop? It's a leap in technology compared to chiselling out marks in stone."
He grins again and shakes his head. "Uh, Sam, think of the ancient cave paintings. Some are thought, are known to be over a hundred thousand years old! They had inks, of a sort at least. Certainly paint-like materials. And what's more of a technological leap? Grinding coloured rock with some liquid to form a paste or metal tools for precision carving of wedges or even hieroglyphs?"
He has a good point.
"So why did they then move onto papyrus and the like?" I ask, sort of getting it but getting equally confused.
"They didn't. It was a side-by-side thing. Only the more ancient papyri have gone. Rotted. We have a few very precious survivors, like the Rhind papyrus - something you'd like," he says with a grin.
"It's a maths text book."
"You're kidding me!"
"Nope. Seriously, it's the equivalent of a schoolkid's text book today - or as some other sources state, it's a book for scribes. Whatever, it's full of exercises and examples of how to calculate using Egyptian mathematics, and they're the sort of examples that people would come across in everyday life. How to equally share an amount of food between so many people, for example. It's full of fractions, by the way. Some are quite complicated.
"It's a copy made in about 1650 BCE of a text which was probably at least 200 years older. As a matter of curiosity, many Greek sources of about a millennium later ascribe the invention of maths to the Egyptians, but they don't seem to be able to agree on how it happened."
"I thought the Mesopotamians had invented maths," I say with a frown.
"We have evidence that they were using base 60 math at about 2500 BCE," he agrees. "The Egyptians, however, had a system, probably predating the Mesopotamians, or at least equalling it in date. From the Early Dynastic Period which ended in about 2686 BCE, we have evidence that they counted in powers of ten - they had a fraction system to create smaller unit numbers from them. That was written in hieroglyphs.
"But, they also used a form of digital numbers, as we do, where one symbol equals one number, and that was developed - it was thought - around 2150 BCE."
"So it might have been the change in that system which was recognised as the start?" I ask.
He shrugs. "As I wasn't there, I couldn't possibly comment. There is evidence that both were simultaneously used because even today, while we use base 10 for most of our arithmetical needs, we also use base 60 more commonly than most people realise. Telling the time, counting the degrees of angles... Having said that, though, counting must have been around since the dawn of human time.
"Remember the bone you were talking about that time? It's been dated between 8,500 and 11,000 years old! Could be that the maths then was as simple as we find in some places now - and they're often the places which don't have the same myths as are here," he says, pointing at his papers. "For example, there's one group of Pacific islanders who basically count something like; one, two, lots."
"Lots?" I ask with a laugh.
"Sure. After two or three, who needs more of anything as a rule?"
"Unless you're doing something scientific, I don't suppose you do," I agree. Then I start to laugh again.
"Sam? What's up?"
"Oh, just remembering one of my friends from the Academy. She came from a really big family. She said that whenever her dad was asked how many kids he had, he'd start counting on his fingers, say, 'one, two, three, four, five...' then when he'd run out of fingers on his one hand he'd look up at the questioner and say, 'too many'."
He starts to chuckle at that, too. Guess there comes a point when you have so many of something that the actual number of it starts to become meaningless. Then he looks at his computer and sighs - quite a sad sigh.
He looks at me and shrugs a little. "It's the one thing I really miss about Earth."
"The 'net. Or at least the availability of academic documents on it. You see, we only have, well, what we have here. Books which are in the public domain. Ones we were able to get from regular book shops, even if those shops were in a university town. They're pretty generalised for the most part. What I could really do with is access to academic papers, the sort usually only published in journals.
"I used to have subscriptions to any number of publications but they all lapsed when we left Earth. No way to get hold of them," he sighs again. "The thing is, most of them, these days anyway, also publish their journals on the web. I know I've always preferred the feeling of the paper in my hands, but to be frank, I'd be grateful just to access the information."
"Would it help you if it were possible?" I ask, coming up with an idea but I'm not sure if it would work.
"Might do," he replies. "There's a lot of study going on in this area, many digs happening and so on. I'm missing out on what today's archaeologists are finding out and you never know, there may be a clue to a problem I have out here in their data. They may not recognise its importance, at least its entire importance, but it may make a great deal of sense to me."
"I suppose all you can do for now is ask the General to send you copies of the journals as they come out?"
"I could," he agrees, "but in the meantime, I may have missed something that's been found over the last few years. I'd need all the back issues. Then I'd need the time to read them. At least with the web versions, you can just type in search parameters and whichever publication holds a paper, or even an abstract, will pop up right there and then."
"You're right. It would be useful. Pity we're so far away from Earth," I say, not giving my idea away. Just in case, of course.
We hear a muffled 'Danny?' coming from the guys' apartment and he grins.
"Guess my lord and master is waking up. I'll take him a coffee."
As he does that I have to stifle a laugh. That's what Jack calls him.
I'm sure I heard Daniel's voice. Just woken up. What's the time? Ugh. Even for an ex-military man, that's too early, especially on a day when I don't need to get up. I look to the side of the bed and no, Daniel's not here. Call his name - maybe he's in the bathroom.
Or not. He's just entered the bedroom from the kitchen, carrying a couple of mugs of steaming coffee and wearing a rather large, goofy grin.
"Hey," he says, putting the mugs down and bouncing onto the bed - so hard I damn near bounced off it.
"Hey! Watch it! I nearly hit the ceiling."
He laughs out loud. I stare into his eyes. They're wide open, his pupils are, well, not quite dilated but they're big. I know what that means.
"Man, you're wired."
Daniel + one entire pot of coffee = 1 × Daniel 'stoned'.
Seriously. You'd think he'd be used to it by now, but if he's had the equivalent of an entire pot in a fairly short space of time, it's like he's been hitting speed.
"Wired? Hmm. Perhaps I have another reason for being happy."
"Well, I have lots of reasons for being happy. Two of them, right at this moment, are directly related - to - you."
He spreads those last couple of words out and pokes me gently as he says each one. Forget wired, he's hyper. But then again, I quite like the idea of being his reason to be happy.
"Enlighten me," I say, sitting up, gently pushing him off me as I do (he was kneeling across me), and then I reach for my mug. Think I may need to catch up with him.
He starts to chuckle then says, "First and foremost, you're you. That's the only reason I really need."
"Flatterer," I tease.
He leans over, takes my mug off me and puts it back down, then he lays a kiss on me. I can taste how much coffee he's been drinking, even over the tang of my own drink which is still on my tongue. But not for long as his tongue is kind of wiping it clean. God, he's good at this. Yet he says that I am a great kisser. Well, shall take that compliment and run with it.
He seems to be physically fine, even if I'm not 100% sure about his mental state just yet. A good kissing session will put me in a hell of a good mood no matter what's wrong.
"And two?" I gasp as we break for air.
"I want to thank you for yesterday," he says more seriously.
He looks over to the door and makes sure it's shut, I think, then he twists himself around till he's facing me. He draws up his legs till he can rest his head on his knees and then takes my nearest hand in his, holding it firmly but gently and rubbing his thumb over the back of it.
It's a really tender thing to do, I guess, and that's not a word I'd usually apply to him, which may sound like a strange thing. Yes, he's a gentleman, and a gentle man. Yes, he's considerate, generous and thoughtful. He's as kind a person as you could ever wish to meet. But despite that, he's not what you'd call tender, at least not in a romantic way.
With Shau're, sure. Perhaps with other girlfriends, though I get the feeling that perhaps not quite so much. Shau're always brought out the best in him in all senses. I could get annoyed that he's seemingly treating me in the same way as he treated her, but instead I'm taking comfort from it. I know what it means.
"Yeah. For doing the right thing."
"Right thing? Uh, Danny, you're not making sense."
And there was me thinking I knew what he meant. That never lasts.
"Leaving that room to contact the others," he elaborates.
Then he squeezes my hand a bit before going back to stroking it with his thumb.
"I know you didn't want to leave me, and I know you'd have been feeling guilty about it, especially when you couldn't find me from the ship. But, when it comes down to it, what you did probably saved my life."
"How?" Now I'm a bit more enlightened, but at the same time, a bit more confused. How could leaving him be a good thing?
"Well, I hate to say this, but I'm not convinced that Sam and Teal'c would have stayed as long as you did."
"What? They wouldn't leave you!"
"Not leave me," he soothes, "not in the abandoning sense. But they'd have gone for help, I guess. Think about it, if, somehow, they'd even managed to get out of the cave or whatever it was they were in, they wouldn't have been able to see either of us.
"They'd have scanned the planet, but as Sam told me - and given the speed with which Gimli can scan an entire planet - because of the second power source in the library, they'd have been unable to find any sign of us unless they stayed until it had been exposed. Perhaps they'd have assumed we'd been transported to a different place," he says with a shrug. "After all, Sam looks for answers like that. Not the simple ones, but complicated, scientific ones, and these days ones beyond the realms of 'normal' physics.
"But you got out with valuable information regarding the generator in the 'basement'. Not only that, you made your way to a place where you could contact Gimli, then you found them... And then you insisted on staying for me.
"I know that somehow I wasn't particularly injured, and before you ask, no, I have no idea why I was unconscious or asleep or whatever for so long, but perhaps, if they had gone to get help I may have suffocated. You might have been equally injured or incapacitated.
"So, even though I know in my heart that you'd have been feeling dreadful for leaving me in the first place, I want, no, I need you to know that not only did you do the right thing but I am truly grateful that you did."
I can't answer. He's hit the nail on the head. I didn't want to leave that room. I was scared stiff I wouldn't see him alive again and he knows it. It's not so easy to throw off that guilt but his words are helping. I squeeze his hand back in reply, it's the only thing I can do to tell him that I am grateful that he sees it this way. He smiles in return. He gets it.
"I also want to thank you for thinking to bring me here," he continues. "As it turned out, my barriers were intact when I awoke and there doesn't seem to have been any change in my, uh, telepathic status, for want of a better phrase, but as you had no idea of what had happened to me, that was a very considerate thing to do. As you knew, I might have been in an 'exposed' state, and being at the SGC would have been excruciatingly painful.
"So... Like I said I have lots of reasons to be happy, but you are the only important one."
I still don't know what to say for that so I just resort to the time-honoured way out of speaking for guys, pull him down on top of me and kiss him till he can't breathe. Finally, I have something to say.
"Thank you," I whisper. "Thanks for understanding."
He shrugs, smiles, then kisses me back. Then it's his turn to resort to a long-standing custom and he comes close to my ear and whispers.
"I think I know what's going to make you feel real good."
"Oh?" I'm definitely curious.
He pulls back, stares into my eyes, his own are twinkling with mischief and says, "Fuck me."
I can do that.
Samantha would appear to have got up long before I did. Not only that, she is already working at her computer which is sitting alongside Daniel's on the kitchen table. She is looking at both, though each time she scrolls through some images on his she frowns.
"You know," she sighs after she greets me, "I can't see how they managed to connect these elements to their languages."
"Perhaps you will need to wait for Daniel to awaken?"
She looks up at me and shakes her head. "He's already awake."
"Oh? When did that happen?"
With a wry smile she says, "Long enough for him to have drunk most of a pot of coffee. He's back in with Jack now."
I consider this for a moment and then ask, "I take it he is well?"
"He's fine. Looks like he's just had a good long sleep. There don't seem to be any ill effects at all."
"That is good."
Again I think and then realise that we shall probably not see the men for some hours.
"O'Neill stated last night that he was to call Doctor Frasier when Daniel woke up. Given that they are probably... getting reacquainted," I suggest, much to Samantha's apparent amusement, "perhaps one of us should put in a call to the SGC?"
"You're right. I'll just go get dressed. We can go for a walk after breakfast and pass on the message then?"
"I shall make something to eat," I state, noting that she, too, has become all too familiar with the contents of the coffee pot and has no signs of food near to her.
"Just make some toast for me, would you, honey?" she asks as she makes her way to our rooms. "That's about as much as I can face. Have whatever you want, though."
Indeed I shall. Toast, while a satisfactory item for a snack, is not sufficient to be called a meal in my opinion. I look in the refrigerator and discover the sausages that Daniel made from our local wild pigs. They should do nicely.
"Could you pass on the message to Janet that Daniel's up and about and showing no signs of illness, please?" Samantha says to General Hammond via the radio.
"I shall indeed. That is good news. Are you sure he's well?" comes the reply.
"He's up, he's eaten, he's drunk lots of coffee - which you probably shouldn't tell her," she adds with a laugh, "and now he's... uh, resting."
That is a new euphemism. I think I may have to use it in future.
"Resting. Glad to hear it. Don't let him overwork again. He must have been exhausted."
If the news gets around the SGC that Daniel is just overworking, then that is a good thing. It would do no harm for that to be spread as a rumour rather than some sort of alien interference. Daniel working hard is not unusual.
"Shall do, Sir," she replies. "We're just going to let Dad know now. He's going to be worrying over nothing, I'm sure."
Hammond thanks us for the news and promises to pass on the information to the Doctor. Then we disconnect and dial up the Tok'ra.
"I guess we should go through to them," she sighs. "They're going to be wondering what was wrong."
"I believe we should just speak using a communicator and pass on a message to whomever intercepts it. That way we shall stand a better chance of not being interrogated over where we went yesterday."
"Good thinking, Teal'c. Okay."
She switches on her communicator and speaks into it, calling for her father as she does. It takes a short while until we hear his voice.
"Hey Dad. Just wanted to let you know that Daniel's up and about. Could you thank the medics for putting him through the machine again, please? Oh, and could you tell Apollo that he's fine, too. Undoubtedly he's going to be worried."
"Sure, Sam. Thanks for the info. You're positive he's okay? No, uh, side effects?"
He means problems with his abilities, no doubt.
"Nothing's wrong at all. He's up and at it already. Up to his eyeballs in cuneiform in fact."
I should imagine that at this precise moment, he is up to something else, but that shall remain unsaid.
Samantha looks at me oddly.
"Uh, Dad? It's Daniel. Why not?"
There is a pause and we hear, "You're right. As long as everything's fine. You're okay too?"
"Absolutely. All's quiet on the Annwn front."
I believe that Jacob is frustrated by the lack of concrete information regarding our trip yesterday.
"Good. Glad to hear it. See you soon?"
"You betcha!" she says quite forcefully. "I'll catch you later. Teal'c and I are off for a walk. Could do with some fresh air."
"Mind you don't catch a cold in all that snow."
She laughs, says goodbye and then disconnects.
"Do you really want to walk in the snow?" I ask her.
She frowns, considers my words, then cocks her head slightly to one side, communicating telepathically no doubt. Then I see a wicked grin form on her beautiful face.
"The guys are busy," she says, smiling broadly.
"Resting?" I ask.
It makes her laugh.
"Yeah. Resting. Do you want to 'rest'?"
"Not here in the snow." I do not believe it would do much for my abilities to 'rest'.
"No? How about somewhere else?"
Before I get a chance to answer, I find myself being transported. As we rematerialise I see that we are at our cabin. It is now nearly finished, though there are no furnishings here as yet. But where it is situated is much, much warmer than our home. Quite hot indeed. So hot, that Samantha must immediately remove her garments which protected her from the snow and ice.
I think I should do the same.
One thing that Jack loves more than anything else is to, well, frankly fuck me until he can't do it anymore. Not just the once, not even twice, but as many times as he physically can. There are days when to be honest, all I want to do is let him, and today's one of them.
We got lucky yesterday. Guess we're both getting lucky now, but in a different way. Yesterday, I could have died again. Should have died again. Something stopped me. Don't know what, but something did. I'm grateful.
What I do know is that Jack has a deep-seated need to possess me after times like this. He gets seriously turned on by the prospect of nailing me the second, third, even fourth time. At the end of such a day, I usually can't face sitting for ages, but I seriously don't care.
Not sure what it is with him - just the possession thing? No, it's not just that. He once admitted that it feels different each time. I'm 'softer', more receptive, I guess. More open to him. Better lubed, too, especially these days now we use our homemade oil. I've made it clear to him that he's welcome to just go for it without checking with me - I'll tell him if I can't take any more, but that'll be later. This is only the second time.
Thank the gods, or rather the Furlings, for the miracle of speedy recovery!
We're in the bath. The first time was on the bed. Him on his back, me doing all the work. Typical. Now I'm in the water, more or less floating on it - it's filled to the brim - and he's standing between my legs, they're wrapped around his back and he's taking it s-l-o-w. Damn, that feels good.
He knows that after this go, I'll be 'pliant'. Basically it means I'll do absolutely anything. It's weird, but the more sex we have sometimes, the more we want. The easier it is to get turned on. The simpler it is to let down barriers and do things we might not have otherwise done.
I learned that I was like this when I had my first serious boyfriend. I was pretty young, very horny, but nervous when we started out. Okay, it took him a couple of years before he fucked me, mainly because I was underage when we started going out. He'd keep it simple back in the beginning. But when I turned 18, there was no stopping me - and when I'd persuaded him to 'fuck me or else', there was no stopping him.
We experimented a lot. Hey, it was back in the early '80s. AIDS was just getting started but he was of the generation which had experienced freedom without fear. So initially we used condoms, even for the simple stuff. He got himself quite a few checks for the virus as soon as the test became available (though he had to use assumed names or else he could have lost the opportunity for life insurance - just for taking the test!).
When he came back clean after two years' worth of tests - he was absolutely, and understandably paranoid about it and in those days, there wasn't much in the way of knowledge on the subject - that was when I had that wonderful birthday.
Over time we lost our fear. We didn't cheat on each other so we felt safe. Safe enough to write the book on gay sex let alone go through the contents of one. Some stuff we avoided, that's the sort of thing I wouldn't go near now, but different positions were used, different places were visited, different chances were taken.
I'll admit to even using 'soft' drugs. It was pretty normal back then. Favourite was poppers. A quick hit, but in those few minutes whichever one of us was using them was so relaxed and able to take pretty much anything that we did whatever we could.
When we split up, that sense of freedom ended for me. Not even with Shau're could I feel totally free. We weren't ready to have kids at the beginning, and there was no contraception beyond abstinence (or other forms of sex, I guess, but I couldn't really ask her to do too much), but most of all she was very innocent and I honestly didn't want to spoil that.
Silly, huh? We were officially married. She wanted me, she was quick to use sex to distract me or get her way, and unless it was an 'unsafe' time, she was rarely inclined to say 'no'. But at the same time, I never wanted to go too far with her. Never wanted her to lose that innocence.
I had no idea that she'd not only lose it, but that I'd lose her.
It was only when I got together with Jack, and more to the point, when we moved off Earth, did that feeling of freedom to do as I please come back. No drugs now, though. I've grown up. Besides, I don't need them anymore. Jack's the only drug I need.
Oh yeah. That felt good. Reckon Jack feels the same because he's lowered me back into the water and he's leaning over me, panting hard, planting sloppy kisses on the side of my face while I try to get my breath back. As soon as I have enough breath I catch hold of him and kiss him senseless.
"God, you're amazing at that," I murmur. Can't get louder than that.
"Glad to be of service," he chuckles.
"You're damned good at servicing," I tell him. "Can't wait till you're up for it again."
"You're sure?" he asks, pulling back and looking in my eyes. "What about the others? Won't they be expecting us out there?"
"Sam contacted me," I say, pointing to my head. "She's taken Teal'c off to sunnier climes."
"Not sure, but it's on the planet. Doubt they're going to be back for ages. And yes, I'm sure I want you. I always want you. However you want me, I'm yours."
"However?" he all but squeaks.
"However. Wherever. Whenever. I'm all yours."
He lets loose the most sexy moan I've ever heard in my life. I'm looking forward to this.
Besides, when I ask to go visit Nem later, he's going to find it hard to say 'no'. Not that I'm using this incredible time for such base purposes. Hell no. Once is enough for that.
I suppose we should return to the house. It's midday, I'm getting hungry. Worn out, too. Teal'c doesn't often throw off the shackles of his Jaffa-training-induced restraint, but when he does - whoo momma! I must be looking as goofy as the guys do when they've been having a lot of fun.
We've had a look at the cabin, planned what else we need to do here and I can't wait till it gets finished. Being in a more tropical region, there's not much in the way of seasonal change, so it's going to be warm, at the very least, when the house is cold.
It's far enough inland to be away from the worst of tropical storms, the ground is high enough to avoid monsoon-type floods (Teal'c checked out the land and made sure there had been no signs of past flood events within about 100 metres of this site, while keeping the cabin as close to a water supply as he could), and it's beautiful. Definitely going to be a place we visit as often as we can.
"We should return," he sighs.
"We should get dressed first," I remind him.
He looks me up and down, smiles to himself then turns his head to one side in the way he does when he agrees.
"It is a pity," he states, "but you are right."
"You'd rather I was like this?" I ask, pretending to be annoyed.
"I always prefer you in this state," he replies, in what I can only describe as a filthy tone. Never heard that from him before! "However, I cannot see it doing you much good to remain naked when we get back to the house."
In other words, even though the guys have seen me like this before, he's not so inclined to let them see me like it again. Jealous? Teal'c? Who'd have thought it?
"Okay. I'll contact Daniel to warn them while we dress."
Looking at Teal'c without his clothes isn't what I'd call a chore, either.
Hey Daniel, what're you doing?
There's a pause, then a sort of mental groan followed by a gasp.
You really want to know?
Uh, probably not. We're coming back to the house soon.
As soon as we can get dressed.
Now I hear a truly dirty laugh coming my way.
Dressed? Whoo boy. What wouldn't I have given to see that, he teases.
You've seen me naked before. Teal'c too, for that matter, I joke back. We've all seen each other naked, it's hardly news.
Yeah, but there's naked and then there's naked, comes the next tease.
You're a pervert! I accuse.
Uh, probably. Actually, yes, I am. But since when is it perverted to want to see a beautiful woman without clothes?
Ha! That wasn't what you were thinking!
Thinking? Trust me, I can't think right now. Oh-- oh God!
I'm thinking I know why.
Yeah, well, cut it out. It's lunchtime.
You don't want me to cook, do you? His mental voice is horrified by the thought.
Perhaps not cook, but eat... And why do I just think that that was a stupid thing to say?
Okay, he says after a few moments. I guess I could do with a short break.
Hell yeah. You won't be seeing much of us today. Jack's feeling kinda possessive.
I look at Teal'c and feel my eyes rolling.
"They are still... resting?" he asks, smiling as he does.
"I'm thinking they're going to be doing some more after lunch, but for now, they really are resting. Probably panting and trying to get some breath in the meantime."
We're back at the house, there's some sort of noise coming from the guys' rooms which tells us that they're heading our way, so we get out some bread and various other bits and pieces. I think that they're going to need some serious calories. Come to think of it, so do I. Where's that chocolate?
I turn and greet Jack and see that he looks a lot happier than he did last night. And more tired. Considering he was asleep when I first saw him last night, that's quite an achievement. Daniel's following him, but I can see he's not going to be looking for a chair for a while. He can't take his eyes off Jack, though, and the feeling seems to be mutual.
"Hey guys. You okay?"
"We're fine. You?"
I look at Teal'c and see him trying to hide his own smile, but we can read him far too well. Ah well, the guys can't say anything, though they do look at him and try to smother their own grins.
We make up some sandwiches, Daniel casually leans against the worktop to eat his - surprise, surprise - and we chat about nothing in particular. Then Jack sees the computers, both of which would appear to have gone into standby. That seems to be a recurring theme at the moment.
"What were you working on?" he asks of us both.
I tell him about my attempt to make sense of the elements, telling Daniel about Teal'c's question and answer session with Thor regarding it. He nods in understanding as the blanks start to be filled in.
"Why didn't you think of that before?" Jack demands, in much the same way I asked Teal'c yesterday. However, he's looking at Daniel who's frowning in thought.
"Back when we went there the first time, it was in the beginning of our careers as... stargate adventurers," he says, trying to find a way to describe what we have been doing for the last - gosh, it's about a decade if we include their first trip. Wow.
"Anyway, we had no idea about the state of the galaxy and only a basic grasp of the history. What we thought back then about the elements being the sole way to communicate made sense - given what we knew. I'm surprised that it took us so long to connect the translation device to the meeting place, though. Well done, Teal'c. Good thinking."
Teal'c gives a little bow, pleased no doubt to have out-thought Daniel for once.
"How come you didn't think of it?" Jack asks. "You usually think of stuff like that."
Daniel shrugs. "Just didn't."
To avoid this turning into a bitching session, I point at the papers Daniel brought up.
"Daniel, are you going to tell the guys about this?" I ask.
He gives me the look that says he was going to wait until he could guarantee that he had Jack's support. In other words, I just put my foot in it. Oops.
"What?" Jack asks when Daniel covers for not answering by eating. Daniel waves as if to say 'hang on a moment'. So we hang on.
Daniel's planning something, I can tell. He's trying to get out of answering by eating. I'll let him eat - got to keep up his strength, after all - but he's going to answer me. Eventually, he runs out of food, and therefore excuses, so I get my answer.
"I was just looking at the film," he says casually.
"And remember there was Akkadian there?"
"Yeah. You seemed a bit surprised."
"Not as surprised as you were," he counters. "Anyway, it dawned on me this morning what the connection is."
"So? What is it?" This is going to be one of those 'blood out of a stone' sessions, I can tell.
"Same history, mythology, or whatever it is. Frankly these days, I'm not sure what lies in the realms of fantasy and what's real history. The lines are getting so blurred that it's hard to tell what's what."
"Daniel! What history?"
"Uh, the weird being/god/spirit/delete as per personal taste. It comes and gives the people laws, writing, medicine, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera."
"You have that here?" I ask, pointing at the screen which is still blank.
"Uh, no. It's just that I remembered the context of it all, that's all. Got it on paper though."
I growl. Can't help it. He's giving me no information whatsoever.
"Daniel. Data. NOW!"
He rolls his eyes, shrugs and says, "I know who the aliens' baby-sitters for the Mesopotamian area were. Or probably just one sitter, so it's 'was'. But that's by-the-by."
He does it on purpose, I'm sure. Just to distract me.
"Gah! Who the hell was it?"
"Well, we know it was a people we've come across before because we've seen Akkadian cuneiform off-world - and not in a Goa'uld context. And even though we've only got a small snippet of information, it happens to not only give the story of the being in charge but gives two versions of the flood myth."
As if that helps.
"Oh, uh, the being was known as Oannes, but that's probably a misspelling of Uanna. That in turn was possibly Adapa, a sort of demigod."
"WHOA! Back up. Oannes? You mean Nem?"
I stare at him and he looks at me innocently, doing that baby face thing.
"Oh no. You're not going there."
"Why not, Jack? It's not like Nem's got a reason to attack us again, is it? Besides, we have Gimli now."
"No. Absolutely not. Did I say no?"
"You said 'no', but I think you're overreacting."
He says that so calmly, like it's nothing. Though I wasn't there for him when he was being held by the creature from the deep, I'm none too inclined to forgive it for screwing with my mind, let alone messing with Daniel.
He never really let on what had happened, just said that he was made to remember something he'd read years before. Never said how he was 'made' to remember.
He slept over at mine for a few days after the event. I heard the nightmares. Held him through a few, though he was never aware of it. Still have no idea what happened but whatever it was, it was painful. Very painful.
"Daniel, you're not going into a place of danger again."
He moves to me, takes my hand and holds it, then pulls me up into a hug.
"Jack, we're going to be facing Zeus at some point."
"Might," I point out.
He shakes his head. "I have a feeling that some things are already out of our control. I'm sure we were sent to Heliopolis and into that room. I'm positive we were meant to find that list. And my gut's telling me that we're supposed to go find as many of the peoples on the list as possible and find out what they know about Zeus."
"We already know about him," Sam puts in quietly. "Everything we've heard says he's the most evil Goa'uld to have ever existed."
"Yes," he agrees, still holding me, "but nobody's told us why."
"What do you mean, Daniel?" Teal'c asks.
Daniel breaks from me and, after gritting his teeth, sits at the table and gets us to join him. When we do, he speaks.
"Ra, at a guess, was the same age as Zeus. There are other, seriously ancient gods of the pantheons taken over by the Goa'uld, like the Egyptians and Greeks, older by far than Ra and Zeus.
"What happened to them? Did they actually exist and were killed off? If so, by whom? Were they the really ancient Goa'uld killed by the illness that Apollo told us about? Are they just part of fertile human imagination? Or are they, like Zeus, still around?"
"Such as?" Sam asks.
"Ptah, Nut, Geb, Amun... Some of the most important Egyptian deities. Amun was even higher than Ra! He was there at the creation, part of the really important Ogdoad."
"You said that word before. What's it mean?" I ask, my heart suddenly sinking.
"It was a group of eight deities connected with primordial forces. I might have dismissed them as just imaginative creations except for a couple of things. There were four groups of two - one male, the other female: Nun and Naunet, who represented the primordial abyss; Kek and Kauket who were the darkness; Heh and Hauhet representing infinity and..."
His voice trails off and he looks apologetically at Teal'c.
"Amun and Amaunet. They represented hidden power. Amaunet is the only one we've come across. None of the others have been mentioned, let alone been seen as powers."
"What's the other thing that makes you not just dismiss the rest of them?" Sam asks cautiously.
"Well, this is probably a coincidence, but then again, who in hell knows these days - but their story originates from Khemnu in Middle Egypt."
"Why is that a coincidence?" I ask, suddenly not really wanting to know.
He shrugs. "It's known, in Greek, as Heliopolis."
We all groan. Coincidence? Yeah, right.
"So, what's this got to do with Zeus and so on?" I ask, trying to get him back on track.
"Like I said: he's apparently one of the most ancient ones we've come across. Of those we know about, Ra is most likely his only true contemporary. Cronus may have been, similarly Hera and Hades, possibly Baal too, and none of those were exactly pleasant. One thing about Ra was that despite his normal level of Goa'uld evilness, he wasn't apparently any worse than those who came later.
"Even the others I've mentioned were pretty much just your typical snake. Hades had the potential to have been the worst if he'd been allowed to live, but we'll never know for certain on that score. But despite that, it's only Zeus who has this reputation amongst the Goa'uld themselves. Even Anubis wasn't putting the wind up them just by the mention of his name. He'd had to act before they realised his power.
"I mean, Apollo's freaking out at the thought that he's around and Athene isn't exactly joyous at the thought that her supposed father is alive and well. I know that this Apollo isn't the same one as the original, but the original one was supposed to be the son of Zeus, too. Having said that, 'our' Apollo said that he had a human father and a Goa'uld mother."
His face goes white as he says that and I ask him what's up.
"Uh, his half-sister, if you can look at it like that, was Hecate. Same Goa'uld mother, different human father. I was just connecting the thought that the Zeus of mythology was supposed to have held Hecate in high regard. Remember what I said about it?"
"Yeah. Is this relevant?"
"I don't know," he admits. "This time it really, uh probably is a coincidence. But there is the possibility that Zeus brought her up as his own 'daughter', I guess. Might explain why she was so nasty?"
We don't know but it's as good an explanation as any. He gets back to the original point.
"Sam, you said that you'd heard from Thor that Zeus was given as the main reason for the various aliens needing to be rescued from Earth. Given that they - we think - had been asked to do a job by the Ancients, it must have taken something pretty major for them to be pushed into abandoning it."
There's a few minutes' silence as we contemplate this. Trouble is, none of us really knows what to say.
"Apollo said that his own genetic memory states that a group of other aliens gathered together to demand access to the gate but that they would only be allowed through if they gave over their writings. Now, they refused to do that, so we have to assume that they went into hiding. The rest of the Goa'uld must know about these writings. Some might want to find them, others might dismiss the story as being fanciful."
"Which ones would do that, Daniel?" Teal'c asks.
"The younger ones, those who weren't around at the time," he shrugs. "Remember that the Goa'uld never believe that they could be defeated. By not being given the writings, that would be seen as a defeat. Perhaps their Goa'uld mothers told them the information but in such a way as to make it sound like it was part of their own mythology. A way to gee them up, to stop them from letting vital information get away, no matter what it cost."
"Sort of like the Jaffa's story?" I try. "Using it to force newer generations to act, maybe even act out of character."
"Which in turn has made them even more ruthless," Daniel nods. "But as ruthless as they are, none of them scares other races in the same way even Zeus' name does."
He sighs, turns to me and shakes his head.
"I'm sorry, Jack, but I really do need to go and see Nem and any of the other aliens on the list," he says, pointing at the screen. "The downside to that list, however, is that we only know of a handful of them. Some of the languages are ones I recognise, but not ones that I know where they live.
"The only ones I can say with any certainty are on that list and are the ones we know are Thoth and Hermes, who we've already spoken to, the Tuatha and Nem. I want to go back to the other Annwn to have a word with Ogmius in the hope that he might know something specific, but the last hope I have of finding any concrete information is with Nem."
He swallows hard as I think something else dawns on him.
"There's somewhere else I'm not going to like, isn't there?" I push.
He nods. He ain't going to like it either.