Summary: The hunt for the machine's makers gets into full swing. To everyone's surprise, they end up going home. Sort of. But as usual, with some answers come more questions. Many thanks to Alph for the beta :-).
I should have realised when I saw the line in the middle of the markings. Should have, but didn't. I do have an excuse, however.
Most 'modern' scripts are not ones that come to mind readily, at least not in the context of my usual work. And this one, while it was in use a millennium ago, wasn't supposed to have been invented, as it were, until about the 4th or 5th Century CE. I know it was studied in 'scribe' schools until the 17th Century, but its main use was in the 5th and 6th Centuries.
And at least it explains the runic look to them. There's a distinct similarity between them and the Kortkvist runes, a simplified version of the standard futhorc. Not to mention that there were only a handful of marks on the damned thing, so I didn't have much to go on.
So, what this means is that either the people behind the machine weren't taken until around that time - which is a distinct possibility, of course, because we've met up with medieval-level Christians after all - or we've made a major discovery because the script is way older than previously thought.
In other words, yet another discovery of epic proportions that cannot be shared with the scholars of Earth.
Dammit, I'm doing it again. Going from up to down in less than sixty seconds.
"Daniel? What's up?"
I look up at Jack and shrug. How can I explain? Well, I could, but what difference will it make? Nothing will change the situation.
"Ach, usual mission highs and lows."
"We've only just arrived at the planet," he points out.
"Uh, yeah, Jack. About this. I'm starting to wonder if just beaming down to the surface is necessarily a good idea."
"Well, given the nature of the, er, natives..."
"Assuming that they're still there," he interrupts.
I bow slightly in agreement. "Of course. But given the worst-case scenario, and going by the myths..."
"I thought you said that it was safe to go from one place to the other, according to the myths."
"Twice a year. Two days. Two Earth days. Neither of which is today."
"Well, we're just going to have to take a chance. Scan from space, check out what it says. I know you said that those auction guys were great explorers, but they didn't strike me as being particularly brave."
"Greed before grave," John mutters.
I shrug. "They said that the place was uninhabited, at least according to this," I point out, waving the file around. Which, to my surprise, was written in 'Egyptian' Goa'uld. At least that allowed for a quick translation.
"Uninhabited," I say, raising one hand, "invisible aliens," I add raising the other hand and balancing them as if to say 'make a choice'.
"You're thinking spirits like Thoth?" Sam asks.
"Could be. I wouldn't dismiss the possibility."
John grins. "At least we've gotten something that the I'krell didn't have," he states, still grinning from ear to ear.
"A couple of good Irish boys," he announces, in the most dreadful Irish accent I have ever heard in my life. They'll never pull it off.
John said he recognised the marks. Ogham, apparently, which he, rather Jack once saw on a trip to Dublin. It was a tad embarrassing for them both because they - he - oh sod it, they - had to admit to voluntarily going into a museum. On their own. Without either an ulterior motive or because of threats to their person.
Anyway, it was a script used across the Celtic parts of the geographical - rather than the political - British Isles, and according to Daniel, supposedly developed as some sort of copy of Latin handwriting. Not that I can see the connection, personally, but that's the story; or at least it's one academic explanation.
It certainly explains the line down the centre of the pole (the whole Ogham thing, that is), because the script is quite literally marks either side of a line. It was developed as an easy script which could be carved into wooden 'message sticks' or on stones. It can either be read from bottom to top (for example the inscriptions on a stone obelisk), or if written on a manuscript, then it can be read horizontally.
He says that depending on the source of information, it's either tied to Latin or even possibly Greek, is a remnant of a long-lost writing system (which was carved into those wooden sticks and therefore rotted away), has a potential connection to the Germanic runes, or was made up at some point by someone unknown, quite possibly because the Romans had had writing and therefore the Celts decided it would be a cool thing to do.
He's not enamoured of that last suggestion but believes the 'long-lost' explanation to be more likely. He does have something to back that up, but I lost him when he started speaking about phonemes.
Even Daniel can't give us more than that, mainly because scholars disagree about its source and it's potentially based on a language so old that only its Latin-afflicted (as he put it) descendent exists. Old Irish was the least affected by Latin because the Romans never went to Ireland, but over time, it's possible to connect the two because of the letter P being introduced. Or something. Give me an equation and I'm happy; languages leave me cross-eyed. Or should that be cross-eared?
The thing is, as Daniel has long told us, the Celts had an oral tradition. Phenomenal memories were employed in recalling every detail of things from myths to medicine, history to laws. The druids were not the bloodthirsty murderers described by the Romans (he does tend to 'go off on one' when people constantly spout what he calls Romano-centric histories) but were teachers, leaders and probably priests. They held the entire knowledge of their peoples in their minds. Didn't need to write stuff down.
From what little is known, and taking away the nasty propaganda that the Romans wrote to justify their wholesale slaughter of them, a trainee druid would spend many, many years learning at the side of a master before being let loose on the general public, so to speak.
I'm not completely sure why he's so reluctant to go down to the planet, though. All of the stories that he and DJ have told us about Annwn and so on have been of honour and decency, along with the usual magic and mythology.
"Let's scan the planet," he eventually says with a sigh. "See if the Asgard scanners can pick up on whatever life-forms are down there."
I do as he suggests and home in on the gate area.
At least there's one thing we can be sure of; the I'krell haven't turned up. Daniel did enter the guy's mind, and while he said he couldn't be sure that they wouldn't take 'revenge' on us, he had a niggly feeling that as the boss, he wouldn't want to let on to his subordinates that he'd been pressured into giving up some valuable information. Here's hoping, anyway.
"Nothing within a hundred miles of the gate in any direction," I tell them.
"Well, we're here to meet the people, if there are any," DJ points out. "Better scan the entire planet."
I set Gimli's scanners to work, then program her to orbit the planet. It won't take long, nothing ever does on this ship. The bridge is quiet as we wait for the results. Eventually, a little bleep informs me that it's done and I shrug.
"Nothing sentient on the planet," I say.
"As far as we can tell," Daniel mutters.
"What d'ya mean?" John demands.
"How can we be sure that the scanners could pick up something like, oh, Thoth, maybe? I get the impression that he wouldn't have shown up unless he wanted to."
"What colour is this world?" Teal'c asks.
I pull up the holomap again and double-check it. It's as I remembered it. Silver. So there could be invisible life-forms here.
"Well, I guess it's about time we go down," Jack sighs. "Maybe it's time to put your new-found talents to the test, eh Daniel?"
Daniel just nods, but we can all tell that he's not a happy camper.
I'm trying to figure Daniel out and something isn't right with him. If I ask him, I doubt he's going to tell me. Probably because he doesn't really know what it is. But he was originally happy to go on this mission and now he isn't.
We're geared up with all different types of weaponry, from Goa'uld to primitive, P90s to Gimli. Well, a ship that responds to a single thought can be considered to be a weapon, I guess. Of course, we've got a couple of very sharp weapons constantly with us: Sam's brain and Daniel's tongue. If she can't work something out, he can insult the opposition till they back off. Don't knock it, it's worked before. And when all else fails, we let Teal'c loose. If his sarcasm doesn't get them, his physical strength usually does.
I put my hand out to Daniel as we prepare to beam down. He looks at me as if he's trying to work out what's up, sees my hand, stares at it as if it's a foreign object, then the light dawns and he takes it. I know he hates transporting.
Got your shields up? I ask him, as much as a reminder as anything.
Up full, he replies with a grimace.
I get what he means. He's only hoping that what he considers to be full is going to be enough. At least with the humans on Earth, he had an idea of the 'opposition', so to speak. With aliens, you can never tell what you're going to need.
"Do it," I give the order.
Kar Shel reaches out, presses the transporter and moments later, we appear on the planet, about 500 yards from the gate. Guess that's as good a starting point as anywhere. Daniel, in his trawl of the creep's mind, told me that they use the gate to travel. Somehow, they got an extended list of the gate system.
Oh hell... Just thought of something. What if they have Annwn on it? Do I mention that to the others yet? I certainly don't want to say anything to Daniel or he'll be more freaked out than he already is.
And he is. Seriously. He's looking around himself, wide-eyed, but not in his old 'let's go find out' way, more an 'I don't want to be here' way, kind of like when we were in the shopping mall.
"Daniel? Spidey senses tingling?"
He shakes his head, but I can't really tell if that's a 'no', or an 'I don't know'. Guess I'm going to have to wait.
"There's something..." But he stops.
"Can you sense anything bad?" Sam tries.
"No, not bad. But we're not alone."
I can see him summoning up his courage, then he gives me his weapons, steps away from all of us and calls out.
"HELLO?! Please, come out. I know we're armed, but I promise you that it's purely for defence. We will not harm you unless you harm us. It is not our way." He stops for a moment, then continues. "I give you my word."
I guess he's going on the old myth thing. In those stories, a man giving his word in front of his family or companions, was bound by that, or else he would be banished from the family, or even killed. Depending on what he'd done. Whatever, it was never good news for the guy who went back on it.
He's shaking, physically, but it's not nerves, it's this empathy thing hitting him again. Taking a chance, I give his weapons to John, then give mine to Teal'c, then I go and stand next to him. I know I'm going to shock him, but hey, I've had to learn the hard way that trusting Daniel is the way to go.
"Daniel's right," I call out. "Unless you attack us, we will not attack you. You not only have his word, but mine and that of the rest of us. We come in peace and only wish to meet you."
There's a bit of mist around. It's not as foggy as on Tiwaz' world, but there's definitely that mythological mist, the one that often turns up when a spirit of some sort is about to appear. And funnily enough, we're not disappointed now.
Daniel turns back to the others.
"Do not raise your weapons," he orders them. "Not unless I say so."
That's the first time I've ever heard him give a direct order like that (he's usually more asking, or even pleading), so the others keep their weapons down; whether it's against their better judgement or not. Somehow, none of them want to cross him.
A guy has just ridden out of the mist on a horse. A real horse - not one of those alien beasts that we call horses because they're the nearest thing to it, but one you'd find on Earth. Not only that, he's got greyhounds. Bright-white ones, with red tips to their ears. Sounds like that king Daniel told us about that one time. He explained later that the red was a magical symbol in this context. Can't remember what else he said, though, which is a pain.
The man looks at Daniel carefully, then says, "Pwy dych chi?"
Daniel blinks madly, then replies, "Rydw i'n Daniel. Rydyn ni'n teithwyr."
Daniel? What language is that? It's familiar.
Should be, Jack, if only from the sounds. It's Welsh. At least I'm hoping I'm getting it right, it's been a long time since I used it.
The man on the horseback starts to smile.
"Travellers, eh?" he states - in English.
I once wondered how that happened, how English got spoken so often. Apart from the obvious answers that some aliens seem to be telepathic and can pick up on our thoughts, it's not a question that's been answered. Anyway, the man carries on.
"And travellers who carry the enemy with you."
"The enemy?" Daniel asks warily.
"Yes. Although there is only one present, yet two would seem to be of them."
I'm not liking this.
"Oh!" Daniel exclaims. "You mean the Goa'uld?"
"There was no other enemy worthy of mention."
"Of course. Teal'c," Daniel states, "is a Jaffa, but he fights on our side. Against the Goa'uld. His only wish is to free his people from slavery."
"And the other?"
Daniel shrugs. "Kar Shel is kind of a long story," he says with a wry smile. "But he carries no symbiote and, like his brother, fights with us. You have my word that we are enemies of the Goa'uld." Then as if to pacify the guy, he says, "You should know that two of us, Jack here, and John over there are O'Neills. From Ireland originally."
"Irish, you say? From The Green Isle itself. 'Tis many years since I was there," he says with a sad smile. "Tell me, is it as beautiful as it once was?"
"Sure is," I reply, but I stick to my own accent; don't want to get that wrong. "Went there a good few years back, but it was damned pretty. I know I don't sound Irish, but my father's father's father came from Cork, and my mother was born in Dublin."
"Um..." Daniel has to think hard. "Of course, that's a Viking name. The city on the Liffey. A beautiful city," he adds.
The guy is softening. Daniel does his blinky thing and smiles sweetly. "Who are you?" he asks.
"I am Arawn."
Daniel is a little surprised, but not too surprised by the looks of things. "This planet, it wouldn't be called Annwn, would it?"
"How did you know, Daniel?" Arawn asks.
Daniel responds by laughing. Then he bows slightly. "It is a long story, Lord Arawn. But, I'm sure that you would want to hear it."
I'm thinking that the guy is warming to him. He's definitely smiling now. One of the dogs comes up to me and I tickle it behind its ear. Next thing I know, I've gotten a greyhound licking my hand.
"You're after food, aren't you?"
"You know hounds?" Arawn asks.
"Oh yeah. Might have gotten a rep for running and hunting, but given half a chance they'd spend their lives eating or sleeping. Or trying to find a way to do both at the same time."
He laughs loudly now. "You do know hounds. You really must be one of my people. Come. You will not need your weapons. You are safe here. You are under my protection."
Take his word, Jack. Do not hesitate.
I turn to the others. "Send them back to the ship. Don't want anyone coming through the gate and finding them."
You can keep your knives, Daniel adds. They won't be seen as weapons per se, more a part of who you are.
I indicate that we can keep them, and the others agree. Much as Daniel seems to trust this guy, I'm never going to be truly happy unless I have some sort of weapon on me.
Daniel seems to have relaxed a little now that he has met the alien. I remember his stories of the king of the Otherworld and they state him to be an honourable man. However, I am still not happy about relinquishing our weapons, but, as Daniel has proven to us on more than one occasion, it is sometimes the right thing to do.
We are following the man, who has dismounted and is now walking alongside Daniel. He seems to be curious about us, but would also seem to be willing to wait for an appropriate moment to question us. Eventually, we enter a clearing and see a large stone building, similar to that of ancient design. It is simple, but reminds me of a fortress or castle.
"Come, enter travellers. We shall eat and you shall tell us of your histories." Arawn seems to be most welcoming and interested, so we follow him into what is apparently a large hall or meeting place.
Arawn calls out and seemingly from nowhere, servants appear with food and drink. A long table is in the centre of the room, a large fire blazes in a grand stone fireplace to the side.
"Uh, Lord Arawn, we do not wish to seem ungrateful, but only four of us can eat," Daniel says carefully.
Daniel. Is it wise to impart knowledge of the androids?
Teal'c, one thing I have learned about these times is that truth is the only currency these people deal in. If we lie and are found out, then any trust that we could build up will be broken immediately and it will not be repairable.
"Could you explain why?" Arawn asks. "Are they fasting?"
Daniel looks at the androids, most specifically at DJ. I see him getting a small nod, permission to explain perhaps. It is fortunate that they know each other well enough to exchange much information in the smallest of glances.
"Not fasting as such," Daniel replies. "They're not exactly human. They cannot eat."
Arawn seems only vaguely surprised, as if the news is only of minor importance.
"Please. Tell us more."
The 'us' in question is a gathering of others, dressed similarly to Arawn in loose-fitting garments of greens and browns, some with vest-like tops which lace together, and who also have appeared from nowhere.
"Over a year ago, we visited a place that we knew of. The circumstances of the visit are not particularly important, but we were wary because of a previous incident," Daniel starts slowly. "You see, that place was run by what we found out to be an android. Uh, a mechanical human, I suppose, but highly advanced. He had promised us that he had not done what he had done before, which was make a copy of each of us.
"However, we discovered later on that he had done just that. These people here are the results of his work. They are us, or at least they were up to the point where they were created.
"Since then, they have become themselves, so to speak. They have their own experiences, their own lives. We met up with them after the place they had lived in had been destroyed by a Goa'uld and they had had to retreat. DJ and Frankie, uh, they are the copies of myself and Sam," he points to each in turn, "had been badly injured. We were able to help them and since then, we have worked together and now live together. In our eyes, they are our siblings."
Arawn nods slowly as he digests that information. I remember Daniel once explaining that the Celts would often take in distant relations or even strangers, foster them and sometimes adopt them. The concept of the 'blood brother' ran strong, and chosen relatives, such as those, were of equal status as blood relatives.
"It feels inhospitable to not offer you comfort," Arawn finally states. "Is there anything we can do to make you feel welcome?"
John shakes his head. "You've taken us into your home," he states quietly. "There couldn't be a better welcome." Then he smiles, possibly as a result of some information from one of his team. "Besides, we get our 'food', as it were, from light and heat. You've gotten a great fire going. Believe it or not, that gives us the same energy as the real food will give our friends."
"Very well," Arawn states. "But if there is anything else we can do, please, do not hold back."
Again I remember from Daniel's stories that hospitality was extremely important to these people. Lord Arawn must be desperate to be seen to be hospitable to them or else his honour will be compromised. MIB thank him for his offer and all state that they are happy as they are.
Eventually, Arawn turns back to Daniel and asks with a smile, "Tell me why you laughed when you found out the name of this place."
Daniel beams back at him, sips some of the ale that has been given to him, then settles back in his chair and starts to explain. His report that storytelling was extremely popular with these people would seem to be held up, as there is silence in the hall and he has everyone's attention.
He starts by explaining a little about the SGC - in general terms, no real details - then continues by saying that we had moved to Remoc because to stay at the SGC would have compromised our honour. We could not and would not work for people who had only their own interests at heart. That seems to have gone down well with Arawn; it is something that he understands. Then Daniel states that we returned to Earth by ship to meet up with some friends, but that when we had returned, our planet had virtually been destroyed.
"The Goa'uld?" Arawn asks.
"For once, no," Daniel sighs. "It was a natural disaster. A massive volcano. Anyway, we were fortunate in that the gate and its dialling device were still there, and more fortunate that our home planet had a 'twin'. We decided to move there, and as we were landing, we wanted to name it. Given that it was the 'other world' in our system, it seemed natural to call it after the Otherworld of history."
Arawn laughs. "That would seem to be appropriate," he states.
"You do not mind?" Daniel asks sweetly.
"No. You may continue to call your home that with our blessings. It is good to know that the stories of our presence have not been forgotten."
"Not forgotten," Daniel replies. "But perhaps not as well understood as they once were. After various invasions, the oral tradition more or less died out. There are still storytellers in the Celtic nations, and they keep hold of the traditions and pass them on, but who knows if they are accurate anymore?"
"What of the teachers?" Arawn asks.
"You mean the druids?"
Daniel shakes his head with great sadness. "The Romans came."
"Romans! No!" Arawn all but shouts. "The evil ones, that is what they should be called."
"They were Goa'uld?"
"Their leader was. But their own people were happy to follow their orders."
"If the leader was a Goa'uld, then the soldiers would have had little choice," I state.
"You would know?"
"To my shame."
Arawn stares at me, as if desperate to understand me. Eventually he nods.
"You have worked to negate that shame," he says, not even requiring an answer, but I feel I must give him one.
"As hard as possible. Until I met these people," I point at O'Neill, Daniel and Samantha, "I had only one ally, my old Jaffa master. It was he who told me of the wrong done by the Goa'uld. Until then, I had believed all I was told."
"Understandable," Arawn shrugs. "You could not know different."
"Indeed. Then one day I found myself in a position where I had to make a choice. In one way it was difficult. To give up my wife, my son, my position as First Prime to Apophis... But in another, it was easy. In making my decision, I was able to free many prisoners and follow O'Neill into battle against the Goa'uld. I hoped that by my actions I would eventually be able to free my people. All of them."
"What of your family?" Arawn now asks quietly.
I smile back at him. "My first wife now resides with people of great honour and decency. They gave her a home, along with my son. Now that he is old enough, he learns at the side of my old master. They, with others who have been persuaded away from the service of the false gods, fight for what is right."
"Indeed an honourable family," Arawn replies. "May your son live long and fight well."
"I thank you."
He turns back to Daniel. "What of the teachers?"
Oh boy, this isn't going to be easy. Telling a man that people he was obviously attached to were slaughtered isn't going to be a fun thing to do.
"They were pushed to a place, Anglesey, if I remember correctly. You must forgive me if I make small lapses in historical accuracy because this is not my area of study."
"Go on. Anglesey? Where is that?"
"Uh... Oh, you might know it as Ynys Môn? It's the big island off the top left corner of Wales."
He looks confused of course, because when he would have been there, Britain would literally have been home to all the Britons, so I get out some paper, draw a quick sketch of the islands.
"After the Romans, there were other invaders. Saxons," I say quietly, trying not to implicate either Sam's or my ancestors in this one... "Angles, Jutes, Danes, Vikings and eventually the Normans. They were Norse men who had gone to live in the north of France, er, Gaul."
He nods slowly. "Over time, the country became split. The Welsh, uh, Cymraeg live here," I point to Wales, "the Picts and Scots up here, the Cornish down here, and the Irish are still over in Ireland. Oh, and the Manx on the island between Great Britain - that's the name of the big island now - and Ireland. Of course you would have known most of these people under different tribal names. Some ended back up on the continent, too."
"The Romans did not go everywhere?"
"No, nor did they get far into what's now Scotland, only a relatively short way up, I guess... though we have come up against a Goa'uld with an Irish goddess' name, but perhaps we should discuss that later. Anyway," I point to the area I'm speaking about. "All of the druids and their followers were pushed into a small area up here. Then..." I look at him sadly. "Even the Roman historians said they fought bravely."
"That would be where the school was," Arawn says quietly. "All apprentices went there to learn, from all over my people's lands. Some of us would visit there when possible," he adds with a sigh. "There was a sacred grove, the most holy of all sites."
"The Roman records state that they burned it down," I tell him and he looks very sad.
I sip my ale, trying to give him something positive, but even that isn't as good as it could be.
"Some druids continued their practices in Ireland for a good while after, but when the Christians came, druidism as a whole died out. There are those, today, who believe that they practice the arts, but because the Celts wrote little down, all we have is the biased writings of the Romans to go on. Some people still believe that the druids were evil, but fortunately, that opinion is dying out."
"And what do you believe, Daniel?"
I shrug. "Given that I wasn't there, it is hard for me to believe anything. However, given what evidence there is, understanding the Roman abilities at propaganda and so watering down anything they said, I think they were leaders, teachers, maybe priests who connected the humans to the spirits. They were doctors, advisors," I shrug again. "The sort of people you need to lead a community.
"In other parts of the world, even today, there are similar people. They are known as shamans; people who live in-between the 'real' world and the spirit world, who teach, heal and so on. At a guess, the druids were like that."
"And yet they were so much more," Arawn sighs. "You are right, Daniel. They were as you said. But their most important role was to connect the humans to us. They spoke to us, called to us for help when needed and so on.
"Then one day, we ceased to hear from many of them. That must be the result of the battle of which you spoke. Our friends in Ireland also heard of a battle, but they could not get any information. A few braved the seas and sailed to that location and found only a few bodies, and the burnt remains of others. On the other side, they found dead Romans. It was assumed that there had been a battle, but details were few."
"Why didn't you intervene?" Jack blurts out. "Why didn't you help them?"
Arawn looks at him sadly. "We could not. If the connection had been open, we could have, but it was not."
"Connection? Do you mean that the whole travelling between Earth and the Otherworld only on two occasions a year was true?" I ask.
"Indeed so." Arawn looks at me a little conspiratorially. "It has something to do with the position of the stars, or so I believe. To tell you the truth, when our own teachers speak of such things, I don't listen with as much intensity as I should. I would prefer to take the dogs and go hunting."
He seems amused when I burst out laughing, as does DJ. Sam and Frankie are giggling and even Kar Shel and Teal'c see what's gotten to us.
"What amuses you so, Daniel?" he asks.
"Oh, just..." I wave towards the Jacks. "Let's just say that I've seen that trait somewhere else. Someone who understands more than he lets on, is way more intelligent than he's ever admitted, will fight to the death if necessary, but despite everything, would rather spend his day fishing." I finish up with, "It must be a Celtic thing."
Jack and John harrumph, then they shrug in unison as if to admit it. Arawn looks at them and then howls with laughter himself.
Sam's suddenly taken on a particular look.
"I think I understand the connection thing."
She looks at Frankie who nods and adds, "K'Tau."
Arawn frowns, then says, "I hope you are not ill?"
"No! K'Tau is a planet," Frankie replies with a chuckle. "It's not a sneeze."
For some reason that starts all of us off, even our Jaffa, and the next few minutes are spent less than profitably, but in great silliness. Which is cool, because Arawn seems to like a good laugh.
Now that the laughter has subsided, Arawn has asked for clarification about the K'Tau thing.
"A few years ago, we made a mistake," I sigh. "Not understanding all of the technicalities of the stargate..."
"Uh, it's what we call the ring," Daniel puts in. "The Goa'uld call it the chappa'ai, others call it many other names. It's what connects two planets."
"Of course. One name we call it is, 'y cylch o dŵr'," he states.
"The circle of water?" Daniel asks for confirmation.
"That would be it." He looks at me and then prompts, "So? The technicalities?"
"The dialling device that's used to power up the stargate has inbuilt 'overrides', which stop connections that aren't safe. We didn't understand how important that was. You see, on Earth, we don't use a DHD, we use a computerised system."
"Com-pu-te-rised?" he states, pronouncing the word slowly.
"Ah, don't worry about it," Jack puts in. "It's technical and confusing. All ya need to know is that the brain over there built the system to dial up the gate. It's way over my head," he adds with a grin.
Arawn laughs at him, then nods at me to carry on.
"Anyway, we did not understand these safety protocols and overrode them and dialled up a planet which, it turned out, was owned by the Asgard."
"The Asgard you say? You know of our old friends?"
"Um, yeah, we'll tell you all about that soon," Daniel promises.
Arawn allows me to continue, but it really is like speaking to Jack.
"What we did not know was that if we had had a dialling device like you have, we would not have gotten a connection. The wormhole that connected the two planets would have to travel through their sun at the time at which we dialled. This, as it turned out, was a bad thing as it changed the chemistry of their sun when we first opened the gate to their planet."
He looks at me, looks at Jack, I see an almost telepathic, 'scientists, what can you do with them, eh?' look get exchanged, then they both drink their ale to stop themselves from laughing. I scowl at Jack, Daniel picks up on that and pokes him.
"It is my supposition, but at a guess, the DHD will only allow a connection between your world and Earth twice a year because something like the sun would get in the way of a wormhole," I finish.
"I see. That is quite possible," Arawn replies. "However, we have not been to Earth, as you call it, for a very long time."
"The Goa'uld are long gone," Daniel states. "Did your people leave with the others of the alliance? Or did you go at another time?"
"Alliance?" Arawn frowns. "What alliance?"
"Uh, I was told that there was once an alliance of smaller races that had gathered together to demand access to the stargate. However, it was under Goa'uld control at the time and they would only allow them through it if they handed over writings that were in their possession. They knew that these writings could not be allowed to fall into their hands, but the one who told me wasn't sure how they left Earth after that.
"He assumed, from what his genetic memory told him, that the writings contained information on the ability to transcend mortal form and become other creatures, or even invisible. He thought that perhaps some had managed to sneak through the gate like that, while others would have gone in ships."
"Ah yes, the Great Friendship, as we called it. There were indeed such writings and a small band of what you would consider to be 'aliens' - or back then we were called 'spirits' or 'gods', depending on circumstance - got together to do just as you suggest.
"My people could not leave our home to visit Earth," he says, waving his arm around him, "except for the two days allowed by the device. Among our own people there are stories of those that left the... stargate, you called it?" Daniel nods in reply. "The Oldest Ones, we call them, were the builders. They were gone even before I was born. And that was many years ago," he adds with a chuckle.
"We call them the Ancients," Daniel replies. "Even the Asgard call them that."
"And they are old themselves," Arawn sighs. "The story is that the Oldest Ones told those who would not abuse their powers, how to change form and become as the Oldest Ones themselves. Those of us who were entrusted with this knowledge promised on our greatest honour that the secret would never fall into Goa'uld hands, that we would die out as a people before we allowed that to happen. There were quite a few different peoples, but we all agreed on that."
"How did you and your people get to and from Earth?" Daniel asks. "I mean, the gate has been under Goa'uld control for thousands of years. Long before the stories of yourself and Annwn were supposed to be around."
Arawn chuckles. "Time, my dear friend, is relative. When you are as old as I, then a thousand years is but a blink. My people have watched over those you would call the Celts since they became an identifiable people. That is many thousands of years. Before that, my ancestors, along with the ancestors of the other spirits, watched over the first humans."
"The Celts aren't a single race of people, though," DJ interrupts. "Are they?"
"No, indeed not," Arawn agrees. "They are, however, a group of different peoples, races as you say, who agreed on many things. Their... outlook, I suppose would be your word, on life was the same. Their culture. Their views on warfare and honour."
"Music?" Daniel asks. "I only ask because the Celts have a reputation throughout Europe - um, that's the continent next to the British Isles," he adds for clarification, "uh, that reputation is for loving music."
"And beer," I add, looking directly at Jack and grinning.
Arawn laughs out loud again. "You are right. My people loved to sing and to feast more even than fighting. Although sometimes," he sighs with a fond shake of his head, "they would find a way to combine all three."
"Yeah, they've still gotten that rep," Daniel chuckles. "So, did you watch over all of the Celts throughout the continent or just some of them?"
"Daniel? I thought that they were only in Britain, Ireland and France," Frankie says.
"Oh no. They originally came from Turkey, we believe," he states, looking to Arawn but he just looks confused. "Oh, of course, I keep forgetting you don't know these new country names. To the east of the Mediterranean Sea? Uh, the sea that surrounds what today is Italy, but where the Romans came from," he adds.
"That is part of their origin," Arawn agrees.
Much as I'm enjoying being in the company of a guy who knows how to enjoy himself, and much as I'm enjoying watching Daniel in his element, this isn't getting us anywhere in our quest to find another machine.
"Frankie, if you look at a map of Europe and see anywhere with the word Gaul or a variation, like 'Gal' at the beginning of it, like Galicia, you can be fairly certain that there were a bunch of Celts there. They were found in what's now Spain, France, southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland - uh, remember you told me your granddad collected stamps and you used to get confused by some of the names, one of which was Helvetia?"
"Yeah," she replies, hanging on his every word.
"Well, the Helveti were Celts that lived in that area. Also across to Hungary, up as far as Poland even. As we said, they were a huge bunch of different tribes who looked different from each other, like the shorter, dark-haired Britons to the taller, red-haired Gaelic peoples, but spoke basically the same language, or languages within the same group so that they could be pretty well understood by each other, and they traded, warred occasionally, allied against outsiders and so on.
"One alliance kicked some serious Greek butt at one point. And the Gauls of southern France set back Roman development by a good century, maybe more, by totally annihilating a Roman army at the battle of Alia. They could have taken Rome itself," he muses, "but the stories say that they couldn't see the joy in living in a smelly city when you could have the beauty of the countryside to yourself. So they spent six months raiding the place for food and drink and basically laid siege to the town by partying constantly before they got bored and went home."
I can't help but laugh at that, then remember something about this story, told to me a long time ago.
"Didn't they pull the senators' beards?" I ask.
"That's part of the story," Daniel replies with a shrug and a grin. "It's said that the senators were all sitting in the Senate, basically stoically waiting to be slaughtered by what they saw as a bunch of barbarians, when the Celts entered, saw them all there, started laughing at them for wearing 'dresses' and pulled at their beards to get a reaction from them. After a while, they left them."
"Why would they not have killed them, Daniel?" Kar Shel asks.
"Surely you should get that one," comes the gentle scold. "Where would be the honour in killing men sitting in chairs?"
Kar Shel nods. "Of course. There would only be dishonour."
"Exactly." Then Daniel turns back to Arawn. "So, how did you travel?" he asks again.
"When the stargate was free, we used that. Then, one day that became impossible, and some of my people were stranded on Earth. The Asgard came to their rescue and brought them home in one of their ships. After that, we lost contact," he sighs sadly. Then he looks at me. "Tell me, how are my people now?"
"Doin' just fine," I assure him. "Spread out over the whole world, generally still enjoying nothing more than a good time and some great music. Daniel knows a lot about you because he had a friend from Wales. He told him a lot of the stories that he now knows and taught him the language, too."
"Which explains how you understood me," Arawn replies, looking at him with a smile.
"I'm a linguist, it's what I do," Daniel shrugs.
"You are also travellers?"
"We are. Alongside our fight against the Goa'uld, we are explorers, looking to meet new peoples and make friends. We are also looking for help in our greatest quest."
"A quest?" Arawn's eyes have lit up. "Tell me of your quest."
"It's not as exciting as in the old stories," DJ answers for Daniel, which is just as well, because he's starting to get jumpy again. Not sure why as he's obviously cool with Arawn, and the others here have done nothing but eat and drink along with us and listen in to the conversation, doing nothing sinister at all. "What we are trying to do is find the Furlings. They were part of the great alliance, with the Asgard, the Nox and the Ancients. We believe that they will hold the key to our greatest hope."
"Reversing the genetic engineering that turned humans into Jaffa," DJ continues. "We need to offer those Jaffa that wish to leave their masters more than just freedom. Without access to symbiotes, all of them would die within a few years. Not to mention that Goa'uld queens are few and far between and they're going to die with or without their own desire for freedom. Their children are soon going to start dying when there are no symbiotes for implantation. We need to do something to help them."
"Because not all Jaffa are evil like their masters," Arawn mutters. I'm guessing he's gotten some personal experience here. "Is that why you came here? To seek these people?"
"No," I say. "This time, that's not the case. But of course, if you know of them or have a clue as to where we could find them, then we'd be mighty grateful."
"I am afraid that I have no knowledge of them, but I shall ask my scholars to search their records."
He looks over at a man who has been sitting nearby him and nods, then the man just walks a few paces and seems to disappear into thin air.
"Thank you," Daniel says, his voice is getting a bit shakier now. "Our original reason to visit here was, believe it or not, a commercial one."
"Business." At Arawn's frown, he explains. "Not long after we left Earth, we were sent on a mission to a planet where there was an auction being held. Um, items were being sold to the highest bidders. One of those items was a healing machine." I see Arawn stiffen at that, but he stays silent. "We had no idea of its origin," Daniel hurriedly puts in. "All we knew was that the Tok'ra, they're ..."
"I know of the Tok'ra," Arawn states. "I was there at the beginning of their fight."
"Good. Then you know that they are honourable." He gets a brief nod and carries on. "The Tok'ra had heard that this machine could heal as the Goa'uld sarcophagus would, but without the nasty side effects. No Tok'ra will ever use a sarcophagus, not even once. It goes against everything that they believe in. So, they asked us to try to get the machine from the I'krell's auction. We did..." He laughs a bit, but without humour.
"After a little adventure, shall I say, we managed to get it to them. Until recently, they have been desperately trying to find out the makers of the machine, to see if more could be made, in case something were to happen to the one they have. And given that our own lives are often in danger, and we are often in the position where the device would be useful, we had hoped to find the makers and buy one for ourselves.
"Unfortunately, the Tok'ra did not tell me about the marks on the side of the machine and I only found out a few days ago. Obviously, they did not recognise your script, but I realised that there was something familiar about it.
"In the end, however, we did the only thing we could do which the Tok'ra could not do, and that was to return to the planet where we first got it. You see, the I'krell do not allow any Goa'uld in their system, and do not distinguish between Goa'uld and Tok'ra, so they could not go there themselves. We went, saw the head man, and after some bribery and subterfuge," he admits with a guilty shrug, "we were given their information on your planet. According to them, this place was uninhabited.
"Much as I think that they're a bunch of greedy thieves on a good day, I have no reason to disbelieve their statement about their thoughts on this place." He takes a deep sigh. "Of course, if the machine was stolen from you, I'm sure that the Tok'ra would be horrified."
Daniel? What are you doing?
Just trust me, Jack. Arawn would only respect the honourable course of action.
Okay, but don't do anything stupid.
He refrains from answering and turns his attention back to Arawn.
I have noticed that as time has passed, Daniel is getting more and more agitated. It would seem that Arawn has noticed it, too.
"Daniel, before you continue, could you please tell me what it is that worries you?" he asks softly.
"Uh... Well, we recently came into contact with some technology left by the Furlings on one of their planets. Unbeknown to us it was designed to enhance the natural evolution of any species that came into contact with it.
"One of the effects was that I have become empathic. I can sense others' emotions, even sense the presence of those who cannot be seen. When I can see those around me, I find it easier to block out their emotions. But I can sense that there are many more here who are not visible and their emotions are getting to me," he says rather quickly.
"I see," Arawn replies. Then he waves his hand and more people seem to appear out of nowhere. "My people will cause you no harm," he states.
"Oh, I know that," Daniel puts in hurriedly, "but I can still feel them. Now that I can see them, it will be easier for me to relax. I'm sorry to put you to any inconvenience."
Arawn waves it off as if it is nothing. "If you are able, tell me more about the machine."
"Well, we were hoping that you would be able to tell us about it," comes the answer. "Like I said, we only wished to trade for another if it were possible. All we know is that it does not make the user evil and that it is helping save the lives of those who are the enemies of the Goa'uld. The Tok'ra can only heal a certain amount with their hand device, and even the symbiote can't heal everything. This machine has literally been a life-saver for them.
"Now that the enemy has left Earth's stargate project, we would also like to get one for the warriors who fight the Goa'uld on behalf of Earth and the humans and alien species found throughout the stargate network."
Now Arawn looks sad. "The thieves you mentioned took the only one we had. Once, we had a man amongst us, who was known for his healing skills. His name was Diancecht."
"Oh, um, wasn't he supposed to be the grandfather of Lug?" DJ asks.
"That is he. What do you know of him?"
"Well, there isn't much remaining unfortunately. But he was known as a physician god to the Irish Celts. Worshipped from prehistoric times right up to the advent of Christianity. Um, was one of the most important members of the Tuatha dé Danann and was renowned for his ability to make injured warriors whole again.
"One legend has him as making a silver arm for the god Nuadu after he was injured during the Battle of Moytura. Diancecht was supposed to have a sacred well, called Slane, where he bathed the mortally wounded and healed them."
Arawn smiles. "The well, as you can imagine, was only myth. He in fact made the machine for when we were in mortal form. There was only the one, as I said."
"Couldn't he make another?" O'Neill asks.
"That would be difficult as he died many centuries ago. You see, not all of us decided to change our forms. He was one of those left behind and refused to be rescued by the Asgard. He would not leave his people. He sent the machine to us because he did not want it to fall into Goa'uld hands.
"In himself, he was a great healer, and did what he could to save those who needed it. From what we heard later, he sacrificed himself when the evil one murdered Morrigan and took her form. He attempted to heal our sister but the Goa'uld killed him as he tried."
"You'll be pleased to know that we captured the Goa'uld Morrigan, handed her over to the Tok'ra and she is now dead," Daniel says coldly.
Arawn looks satisfied. "I hope I am forgiven for this thought, but I pray it was a painful death."
"Wasn't pretty," O'Neill states. "The snake would have been extracted and if the host was young enough, she would have survived. But I doubt it, 'cause of their use of the sarc. Most of their hosts are pretty ancient."
"I pray for the soul of the host. No one should be kept prisoner by such evil," Arawn says solemnly.
Then he notices Daniel's face, as well as DJ's. I know of what they are thinking and also know that even if they are asked, they will not tell of my part in their own pain. Such forgiveness is beyond price.
"Daniel? You would know of such agonies?" Arawn asks, his voice as gentle as anyone's could be.
He does not look at either myself or Kar Shel but answers directly. "I lost my wife to the Goa'uld. Apophis took her and made her host to his own mate."
"What of her?" If it were possible, Arawn is even more sympathetic.
"She died," Daniel sighs. "It was a blessing, really. Rather that than be host to a devil, eh?"
He is trying to sound positive but his body gives him away. O'Neill wraps one of his arms around Daniel's shoulders and hugs him tightly.
Then, all of a sudden, Daniel's demeanour changes.
"Not all symbiotes are bad," he states. "I was recently host, very temporarily, to a Goa'uld, but he was not evil. His nature was that of a Tok'ra and he has since joined them in the fight against the Goa'uld. He hates them even more than I do."
"Unusual," Arawn states. "Although when the evil ones first arrived on Earth, not all were bad. I remember being friend to some of them."
"It's not surprising. We've recently learned of more of their history. It was a combination of an illness, some inherent evil in some of the snakes and their use of the sarcophagus that made them the way they are. Those who did not use it remained good.
"We believe that that is how the Tok'ra came into being. Some were literally born evil, but others were born good. Of those who were born good, some remained so and others changed. The Tok'ra I hosted was called Apollo." He stops and thinks for a moment and then says, "You might know of him as Atepomarus?"
"Of course! He was one of the good ones. Kind, wise, honourable and a great hunter," Arawn states enthusiastically. "He still lives?"
"Sort of," Daniel replies. Then he explains what Apollo told us of his own creation. Arawn thinks about this and then speaks.
"So he remembers as much of Atepomarus as possible, but you say his character is the same as the old one?"
"He's certainly interested in peace, justice and freedom," Daniel replies. "He's become a good friend to me. To us all. He saved my life and DJ's, and in the process killed Hecate."
Arawn spits on the floor to the side of the table.
"Evil incarnate if ever there was," he growls. "The galaxy is better off without the likes of her. Tell me what you can of the Goa'uld."
I fear it will be a long day.
We've retreated to our ship. We spent all day talking to Arawn. He, in turn, told us much of the history of his own people and about some of the others in the 'Great Friendship'. Sounds like we might meet up with some interesting characters in the future, if they've all ended up out here.
He offered to put us up, but I was so afraid of losing my barriers when I was asleep that I pleaded to be allowed back up here. He understood, didn't take offence, thank goodness, and even came up to see the ship. We told him how we'd gotten it and how the Asgard had helped us and he seemed to be impressed.
Even though they're not involved with the fight against the Goa'uld, I think we could be building a good alliance here ourselves. He hasn't let on what powers they might have, but I get the feeling that if we can continue in the manner we started today, we may be in for a surprise or two.
"How're you feeling?" Jack asks as I get into bed next to him.
"Slightly drunk and extremely tired," I answer. "Not to mention stuffed to the gills! Boy, do those folks know how to eat."
He chuckles a little. "Guess the ale didn't help you with your barriers, eh?"
I shrug. "Don't think it made that much difference. It was just those who I couldn't see. All I could do was feel so many... people, I guess, and yet I couldn't see them."
"You said it's easier to block them out when you see them?"
"Yeah. For some reason, it is. Although, as time passed today, when a few of the others started to disappear, I wasn't as aware of them as I had been. I think that now that I know how those people's emotions work, so to speak, it'll be easier to deal with those who aren't visible."
"Hope so," he says with a yawn, pulling me under the covers. "By the way, why are we staying tonight?"
"You weren't listening?" I don't know why I'm surprised. In fact I'm surprised he listened as long as he did.
"Well, I got talking with one of the others..." He gives me a wicked grin. "Uh, Maponos," he adds. "Seems he likes fishing. You know how it goes."
I can't help but laugh; Maponos was the old Celtic name for the one who was supposed to have become the Welsh god, Mabon ap Modron (among others, one of whom will interest Jack if not confuse him), who was a god of hunting and fishing among other things, so that figures.
I don't think I've ever seen Jack so relaxed with a bunch of totally new people before. After just a few hours, he was acting the way he does with my clan on Abydos. Happy, laid back and sometimes even laughing out loud.
"Well, Arawn said that he'd get his scholars working on the records. He hopes to give us at least some news on the Furlings, even if it's just legends among his people."
"That would be good," he yawns.
"Ach, don't yawn, you're setting me off."
"That's the idea. Shut your eyes and get some rest. I've got a feeling that we may have another long day tomorrow."
I really need this coffee. I also need to get over this tiredness thing. It seems the more I have to concentrate on blocking people out, the more exhausted I get.
Since I've accepted that I was blocking out the guys, and that I was reassured that I could, I've stopped doing it so much at home. I've found that in doing so, they're constantly present but it isn't bad. It's quite nice in a way. I should have trusted my instincts regarding knowing them, but I was so afraid of being overwhelmed by others that I felt I had to try to put up barriers.
The barrier thing is getting easier, especially as I've now had some contact with others. Every day it's a little less strain, but I'm still tired. Still scared of losing the block, I guess. Still terrified of freaking out like I did when Apollo left me. It could be a remaining thought, a remnant of the fear that hit me when I realised just how I could - would have reacted if we'd gone to the Tok'ra's homeworld to get a new host.
I didn't tell the others but it took me a good week or so before the nightmares even became manageable. I'd wake up in a cold sweat, feeling like I'd been screaming myself hoarse. On a few nights I even did that.
Jack was a rock, as usual, but I found it hard to tell him all about it because some of the things that are happening to me are so hard to put into words. Like I told him, with no language designed to convey telepathic senses, I can't communicate what I'm feeling. And that's frustrating for me. Words are my life, but I have no words to describe what's been the most major change in my life. It's frustrating Jack, too, because he wants to help and he doesn't know how.
I keep telling him that the most important thing he can do is just be around me, hold me when I need it. I feel... grounded, I guess, when he does that. Earthed, to put it into an electrical term. Like he connects me to the real, to the here and now and not to the ethereal.
I'm in the galley with the rest of MIA; MIB aren't in here yet, but they're coming. I call out to them.
"Morning, guys. Are we all going back down to the planet?"
Sam's looking at me oddly.
"Sam? What's up?"
"Who are you talking to, Daniel?"
"The others," I turn to look at the door and it's only now they're coming through it.
"How did you know they were coming in?" she pushes.
I shrug. "Must have heard them walking."
Jack shakes his head. "Nuh huh, Danny, they weren't making any sound at all. None of us were." He looks at Teal'c, who's usually the first to notice if we've gotten company and he shakes his head.
"I did not hear them either, O'Neill."
Now I can feel myself frowning. MIB have joined us at the table and they're looking at me as if I've grown two heads or something.
"Has your hearing improved again?" Frankie asks.
"I don't think so," I reply. I try to think back over the last month or so and compare various moments with similar times after our initial change. "No, I'm pretty certain that isn't the case."
"So, how did you detect us? It's not like we give off any emotions, is it?"
I shrug. "How do we detect Gimli?" I ask, then my mouth drops open as it dawns on me. "That's it!"
"What's it, Daniel?" John asks.
"Thor attuned Gimli to our brainwaves, right? He also attuned her to yours. He could do that because you have your radio connections. Not only that, but that each brain, yours and ours, have their own, unique 'fingerprint', as it were. But what if..."
Think, Daniel, try to put this into words that'll at least describe this... this thing.
"What if you give off some sort of radiation as well as your radio connection? EM fields or something?"
I look at the ladies for help, but I'm not getting much.
"It's possible," Sam concedes. "Can you describe what you're feeling in more detail?"
Ask the impossible, why don't you? I can't fucking describe anything accurately.
Jack gets a funny look in his eye, then says, "You said you always know where we are. If we're within about ten miles of you, you know where, how far, even what mood we're in. You must only be able to do that if you let down your barriers."
I blush a little, then nod. How do I say that I need them around me without sounding like some child, desperate for affection? It isn't that. Honest. It's more fundamental.
"Daniel, why don't you let your barriers right down now?" he prompts gently. "We're a long way from the planet, and there's only us here. If you can't describe what you're feeling accurately, try the analogy thing again."
I nod slowly, then let down my remaining barriers, the most basic ones that I leave up out of habit. I shut my eyes and realise that I can 'see' the others, but my images of MIB are fuzzy at best. The electricity thing comes back to me and it gives me a clue.
"Remember we said that there are potentially an infinite number of phases, like tuning into an infinite number of radio stations?" I try, opening my eyes again. I see the others nod, but they keep quiet. "Well, for want of a much better description, you're all on different frequencies. You're all giving off a signal. I didn't recognise it before; don't know why, I just didn't."
"The timing is not important," Kar Shel puts in. "Only your recognition of your abilities carries any weight. Please, continue."
I give him a smile in thanks and then try again. "You know I can detect others, like animals, aliens and so on." They nod again but I plough on regardless. "Well, I knew I could do it I just didn't know how. Now I think it's literally that. I'm not saying it is electrical fields, I'm just saying that to me, it's like detecting each and every one of you on a different frequency."
"Doesn't that grate on your nerves?" Jack asks.
"If you remember, when I couldn't see the aliens yesterday, it did. Only when I saw them and recognised their individual 'signals' was I able to 'tune them out', so to speak."
"So how can you tell the difference between, say, a chicken and a hawk? You've told us you can do that," Sam pushes.
I can see that the frequency analogy has run out, so I try again.
"Hmm, okay, think music. Think instruments. Again, this is only a vague notion of what I'm really feeling, but it's as close as I can get."
"Run with it," Jack says encouragingly. In other words, he's literally not on my frequency. Like that's the first time that's happened.
"Okay. Imagine that humanoids are all string instruments. Each string instrument has its own tonal qualities. I guess among the four of us, Sam and Jack might be violins and Teal'c a bass. You could all be 'playing' the same note, even at the same pitch, but, it would still sound like it was coming from three different instruments, because no two instruments even of the same type sound precisely the same."
I leave that a moment so that they can digest it. Eventually I see seven nods slowly come my way.
"What is closer to the mark regarding the three of you is that you and Sam," I point to Jack, "are playing different notes. You 'sound' like - well, like you. With the chickens and the hawk, it's another two different types of instrument because just as humans and Jaffa are similar but different, so are they. They would be the woodwind, I guess. Piccolos and clarinet," I pick at random. "The reason I can say how many chickens there are is because if, say, there are forty, I can 'hear' forty different notes from the same instrument."
"Sounds horrible," Sam mutters.
"If it really were different notes, it probably would be. It's just the nearest analogy I can come up with. I'm wondering if there really is something in the EM field thing and that I've just become ultra-sensitive to it. It would make sense, insofar as any of this makes sense."
"We can check when we go home," Frankie states. "I'll run some tests to see if we're giving off any signals. It could be useful to know that because we might come up against scanners that look for EM fields. It could give us away."
I bite my tongue rather than say for her to not do that. But how can I tell them that now I know I can detect MIB, that now I realise what one of the sensations I've been feeling is, it's comforting me? Especially as my need to be attached to them could put them in danger. So I say nothing. That's one thought I'm keeping to myself.
"So, what is the plan for today?" O'Neill asks. "I mean, we're going back down to see if they've gotten any info on the Furlings, but is that it?"
DJ shakes his head. "No, not just that. Ogmius said he'd take us to a building - uh, it's not what you'd really call a temple as such, because these people don't worship anyone, but it's as near a holy place as they have. It was where Diancecht's machine resided before the I'krell took it."
O'Neill frowns. "Don'tcha think it's a bit odd that these spirit people need a healing machine anyway? I mean, who's gonna hurt them?"
I believe that Daniel has an answer to this. "Uh, Jack, unlike Thoth who appeared to us while still in his, uh, spirit-like form, when the people of the Tuatha dé Danann appear to us they become mortal again. If you hadn't tuned out and started chatting about fishing, you'd have heard how Arawn said that if they were mortal, uh, solid, so to speak, they were vulnerable to injury and death."
"Could they not just return to their spirit form, Daniel?" I ask.
"Well, they could, but whenever they return to mortal form, they'd be carrying the injury as it was at the moment they'd become spirits. If that makes any sense whatsoever."
"So they want their machine back?" O'Neill sighs.
"Again, if you'd listened," Daniel scolds, "you'd have heard that they were willing for the Tok'ra to keep it on the grounds that the Tok'ra are more likely to get injured in their fight against the Goa'uld. And even though we've taken out the major players, none of us think that that's the end of the snakes, do we?"
We all agree and he continues.
"Arawn also realised that the Tok'ra had bought the machine in good faith, so that their ownership of it was in his eyes, honourable. However, he's highly pissed with the I'krell," he adds with a mutter. "Kept calling them the enemy," he says, frowning slightly.
"Daniel? Is there something wrong with that statement? Surely Lord Arawn would regard any thieves as the enemy."
He looks at me and shakes his head.
"I'm not sure," he says slowly. "You see, I'm pretty certain I convinced him that the I'krell believed this place to be abandoned. He told us that the gate opened, but that all of his people were elsewhere on the planet. By the time they'd arrived at the gate to find out what was going on, they saw the machine being taken through the gate. They were too late to stop them from leaving."
He looks around at the others and frowns again.
"There was just something about his tone of voice as he told me that, but he wouldn't say any more."
We get nothing more from him, so O'Neill pushes the question of what today's plan is.
"Ogmius stated that there are writings on the wall of the building we're to go to," DJ states. "He gave us permission to record them and said that he'd read them out and then give us a translation."
"Can't you translate it?" John asks.
"No. Ogham isn't one of our languages. Besides, what's there is the original Celtic script. What Celtic languages exist now are developments of the oldest languages. Sure, we could make a stab at it, but we couldn't guarantee that our translation would be accurate. Add to the fact that we only speak 'conversational' modern Welsh, and don't speak any of the other Celtic languages fluently, it would make the translation more difficult."
"Not to mention that when we're dealing with ancient varieties of modern languages," Daniel adds, "there is an element of guesswork. After all, how can we be absolutely sure that we're right? We can be almost sure, and the more people who work on them and come up with the same answers, the more confident we can be that we're as close as we can get, just as if a code is being cracked.
"If, for example, a code without a key was given to five different people and they all came up with the same answer, there would be a pretty good chance that they were right; if, however, only three came up with one version and the other two came up with a different one, which would be the correct one?
"And look at the work done on ancient Egyptian. For many years, scholars worked on the hieroglyphs and came to a consensus about the sounds and the meanings. However, when we first went to Abydos, I realised that the pronunciation at least was very different from what had been believed to be the case."
O'Neill grins at that, remembering that first trip, I suppose.
"Okay, so you go down with your cameras, record, listen and what, then we go home?"
"Yep, that's the plan," DJ agrees.
It is good to have a plan. Or not. Daniel has just smacked his head.
"Daniel? What is wrong?"
"The cameras. We didn't bring them."
"Why not?" O'Neill demands.
He shrugs. "Didn't think of it. The plan had only been to go get the planetary co-ordinates, meet up with the makers and find a way to trade with them. We didn't even bring the 'cash' to buy one, if you remember. The idea was that we'd ask what they wanted in return then try to get it."
"So, shall we beam down, some go through the gate and pick up the cameras and then get on with it?"
"Um, I'm not sure we can," Frankie puts in. "I looked closely at the location of this planet last night and I realised why it can only connect with Earth twice a year. We were right that it's a safety protocol thing because of the sun in this system.
"However, because of the specific location of this system, I also realised that any number of planets might be blocked from connecting on a regular basis; although the I'krell's planet is astronomically 'nearby', so they can pretty much come and go at random. I checked the direct line from our Annwn to this one and saw that we could only gate once a year here. And that won't be for about six months," she sighs. "We'll have to take the ship home."
"Should we all go to the planet and tell Arawn that we're going to do that?" O'Neill asks.
"I wouldn't," Daniel states. "He'd be honour-bound to help us record the images without sending us away. He'd probably collar a number of scribes to write it all down."
"Don't they have video technology?"
Daniel looks at O'Neill with wide-open eyes. "Uh, why would they? It doesn't seem that they use any technology, except the machine. They didn't even have ships, remember?"
"Okay," O'Neill agrees. He looks at John and says, "You guys take Gimli, go get what we need and then come straight back. At least then if we're invited to eat there won't be any of that awkwardness on Arawn's part."
The others agree and soon we all get ready to do as planned.
We've transported down to the planet, near the gate again, and we're awaiting the arrival of the scholar, and quite possibly Arawn, too. Something's just struck me about this man's name.
"What did you say this guy's name was?" I ask Daniel.
"Ogmius," he replies with a sigh of frustration. I know, I really don't have any excuse to forget these things anymore, but it's a habit.
"Doesn't that sound like the name of the script?" At least I can ask a reasonable question, I guess.
"Well, there are a number of 'histories' behind the development of the script," Daniel replies, pulling up a mound of earth and sitting on it. I join him and the others gather close by. "One of which is that it's named after him. You see, Ogmius was a god of poetry and speech. A highly intelligent man by all accounts. Leaving the academic explanations of the script to one side, there are a couple of mythological stories.
"The one which names it after Ogmius says that he created it for the learned but not for the 'fools'. According to this story, the first writings in the script were seven Bs on birch wood. It was supposed to have been sent as a warning to Lug mac Elathan, and meant something along the lines of, 'unless the birch protects your wife, she will be carried away seven times to the Otherworld'.
"Like with Viking runes, there is supposed to be a secondary meaning to each symbol - one is the letter, the other a meaning, like the ones we used on the quest. The B was meant to represent the birch and apparently, the others all represent other trees. Don't forget, trees were highly symbolic to the ancient peoples, and the Celts believed that the spirits resided among them, along with other, naturalistic settings such as water."
He screws his face up a little and then frowns.
"Daniel? What's up?" Sam asks.
"Oh, just thinking. More to the point, just wishing I had my books with me. You see, there was a Celtic god called Lug and I can't for the life of me remember if he's the same as Lug mac Elathan."
"Is it important?"
"Probably not," he shrugs. "It's just that Lug is one of the earliest known gods, and he was the god of skills. One thing he was able to do was to change his shape. It made me wonder if there was any connection with the whole writings thing that Apollo told me about."
None of us answer that, 'cause none of us have a clue, but we all give him, 'it could be' shrugs.
"Were there other stories about the script?" Sam asks.
"One other springs to mind, and it's kind of odd, in a way."
"In what way?" I push.
He rolls his eyes at me as if to say, 'shut up and I'll tell you'. So I shut up.
"There are a number of sources for it, dating from the 11th Century to the 14th. It says that not long after the whole Tower of Babel thing, a Scythian king, Fenius Farsa travelled with a couple of companions and seventy-two scholars. They went to the tower to study the new languages. By the time they got there, everyone had gone, so he sent the scholars after them, while he remained at the tower to 'co-ordinate' everything.
"Anyway, it took them ten years to complete the studies and Fenius, out of what he learned, developed what he called the Bérla tóbaide, or 'the selected language', by taking what he considered to be the best bits of each tongue."
"What's so odd about that?" I ask.
"Well, you see, this is probably untrue given that it's got a biblical background. Yesterday I discovered that the script certainly predates anything in the New Testament and possibly even predates the Old. It's the whole Christianity thing taking over Pagan tradition again.
"But, there's a connection with the choosing of the books of the Bible; the Old Testament specifically. The Septuagint was commissioned by Ptolemy II and was supposed to have been collated and translated by seventy-two scholars. According to tradition, he got them to work separately, go through the old Hebrew/Aramaic writings and translate them into Greek. Because each one of them translated each book exactly the same, it was decided that the work must have been perfect and therefore was the work of God Himself."
He shrugs again.
"I guess the whole seventy-two thing came to mind," he says apologetically.
"It's probably why the second tradition was developed," Sam agrees. "If the sources of that time knew the story of the Septuagint, then it only makes sense that they'd find some way to connect the two things."
"Exactly!" he says, doing his pointy-finger thing that he does when he's glad someone agrees with him. "Which is why I'm far more inclined to believe that the script was actually invented by Ogmius himself. Or at least he introduced it to the mortals - or the humans, if it's actually an alien script to begin with."
"Which it probably was," Teal'c puts in.
Before anyone can say anything else, there's that mist again and soon we see Arawn and this old-looking guy next to him. There's something about him which screams 'geek' at me, so I'm guessing this is Ogmius.
"Lord Arawn, Ogmius, it is good to see you again," Daniel says, standing up to greet them. Makes a change for me to be right, eh?
"Daniel," Arawn replies, then he bows slightly and greets the rest of us. "Where are your friends?"
"Ah," Daniel's looking a little sheepish. "We had to ask them to pop home and get some things. You see, I forgot to pack the cameras when we left. Uh, they're the things we'll use to record the writings. They'll be back in a couple of hours."
"I see. Do you wish any assistance in making other records whilst you await their return?"
"No, that won't be necessary, but thank you all the same. The cameras will take pictures of the writings, and also they will record the sounds. Ogmius very generously promised to read out some of the writings and then translate them for us. That will give us a huge head start on finishing off the translations at home." Before Arawn can say anything else, he adds with an almost guilty smile, "Uh, we're actually looking forward to doing that work. It's what we do," he finishes with a cute shrug.
Arawn just about refrains from rolling his eyes. Guess he'd rather be fishing, too.
"Very well, but if there is anything we can do, please do not hesitate to ask. Anything that is in our power to grant, we shall."
"You are most generous," Daniel says with a small bow.
"Lord Arawn," Teal'c speaks up. When he's gotten his attention, he continues. "I am sure that you would be happy to leave Daniel and Ogmius alone to do the translations. Would you prefer to discuss the state of the galaxy with us?" he asks, pointing most specifically to me and himself. "We could tell you more details of what has happened to the Goa'uld over the centuries."
"Now that would be most interesting," he states. "Ogmius, would you agree?"
"Of course, my lord. It will be my pleasure."
Sam looks a little lost, so I say, Sam, why don't you stay with Daniel? Just in case there's something technical in that temple or whatever it is?
Sure. May as well, she sighs back at me.
Moments later, she and he are off with the old guy and Arawn invites us to sit. He hasn't got his horse with him, but some of his dogs have accompanied him. Cool.
"Tell me what you know," he says, then settles back to listen.
I let Teal'c start and decide I'll join in as and when the mood takes me. It's a warm day and I've got a warm dog by my side. This will do me for now.
Daniel's impressed by the inside of what looked like a pretty rudimentary stone building which is quite near the gate. Though to be fair, I can see why he's so impressed. All along the back wall, behind a plinth which probably held the healing machine, is a whole load of writings.
"I fear that it will be pointless in my translating this for you until you have your recording devices," Ogmius sighs. "But there is something that you may wish to see in the meantime."
Daniel's eyes light up and Ogmius only just about holds back a chuckle. He walks to what looks like an ordinary wall, then he waves his hand and the wall disappears. Behind it is what can only be described as a library. Now Daniel's eyes are on stalks.
"WOW!" he says again, only with a whole load more awe in his voice. I agree with him.
"Almost reminds me of Thoth's place," I say.
"You know Thoth?" Ogmius asks.
"Uh, yes. The Ka, not a Goa'uld," I reply. I can see that Daniel's itching to touch, but he's working hard at not doing so. "We went to his planet some time back. It's a long story, but we were looking for the Book of Thoth so that we could hide it from some unscrupulous people, just in case it had been abandoned, that is. As it turned out, he was there and so we warned him that others were looking for it."
"You would not have used it for yourselves?" comes a very curious question. "I know of that book. It contains much power. You could have used it on your righteous quest against the evil ones."
Daniel turns to him and shakes his head. "No," he says quietly. "With such power, any righteous intent would soon have gone. There is a saying on Earth. Power tends to corrupt, but absolute power corrupts absolutely. We would have started out with good intentions, but how long would that have lasted? How could we have stayed on the side of freedom with the power to enslave? How could we have worked for good with the ability to become as evil as the Goa'uld themselves? It could not work.
"Only someone pure could even possibly attempt such an undertaking, and though we try to be good, we all know that none of us are truly innocent. All we could have done with that book, as Sam said, even in the attempt to protect our people from the Goa'uld, would have been to hide it somewhere that no one would find it. That would have been our greatest gift towards the cause of freedom."
Ogmius smiles. "Such wise heads on the shoulders of such young people. It gladdens me to see that those we left behind were able to grow so well."
"If only," Daniel sighs. "Evil roams Earth as much as it ever did. Sometimes it is out in the open, but perhaps the worst form of evil is that which lurks in the shadows. Leaders of men, pretending to work for the good of their people but work only for themselves.
"And people use religion for their own purposes, too. Just as with the Goa'uld. They pretend to be gods, but on Earth there are those who call themselves men of God, who preach nothing but hate for those who are not as they are. I have no religion myself, but if God does exist, I am sure that He would be horrified by what was being done in His name."
"He?" Ogmius asks with a chuckle.
Daniel laughs out loud. "Or She, of course," he says with a bow.
"Of course. Now, come inside. On these scrolls is the history of our people. Records, stories," he shrugs, "even minutes of council meetings. My assistants and I searched through them for mention of the peoples you are looking for, but unfortunately, except for one small thing, there was nothing there."
"What was that one thing?" I ask.
"There is, in the mythology of our own people, a tale of an alliance. You mentioned such a thing yesterday, did you not?"
Daniel nods. "Yes. Between the Ancients - uh, the ones who Lord Arawn called the Oldest Ones - the Asgard, the Nox and the Furlings. Apart from a few clues, we know only a little about the Furlings. What we do know is that they may well be in a position to assist us in freeing the Jaffa from the slavery of the symbiote."
"Unfortunately, there is no mention of what happened after the split of the alliance," Ogmius says apologetically. "Only that there once was an alliance between four great races. Over time, the alliance fell apart, though we do not think that there was pain involved, just the parting of the ways."
That's good, because it gives us hope that the Furlings didn't turn bad.
"Those you call the Asgard were the only ones who remained in contact with the rest of us."
"What did you call them?" Daniel asks.
Ogmius chuckles again. "Back in the old days, they were known as - what would be in your language - 'the little grey ones'... But not to their faces."
We can't help it, we laugh out loud.
All of a sudden, Daniel's laughter stops.
"Daniel? What's wrong?"
"Uh, I don't know. But something isn't right." He looks at Ogmius and says, "Hide. Now. Hide this room again and then disappear. Please."
Ogmius is confused, but I think that Daniel's pleading voice has convinced him to do as he says. He ushers us out of the library, the wall reappears, then after touching Daniel on the shoulder, he fades away.
"Don't come back until I call you," Daniel adds, grabbing my hand and leading me out of the building. "I'll call as soon as it's safe, I promise."
"Do you know what's wrong?" I ask, but he puts his finger to his lips and shakes his head.
I think we've got company. Jack? Teal'c?
We can hear you, Daniel. It would appear that the I'krell have decided to come here once more. They are heading your way.
Thanks, Teal'c. Stay back and out of sight for now. There's nothing in the building for them to take - well, nothing that they'll find anyway.
Stay out of trouble.
Daniel looks at me and rolls his eyes.
Of course I will. I want you to get Arawn to promise on his word of honour that he'll disappear and stay out of this.
Daniel. It's Arawn!
I can hear you, Lord Arawn.
Why should I stay away? This is my world and these are invaders.
True. But you can only fight them in your mortal form and your healing machine is gone. If you were to get injured or worse, it would be our fault. We went to their planet and bribed their leader to give us the information about your home. Not that we knew that, of course, but, they've obviously come here because we went to them. No, we will deal with them. Please, I beg you, let us deal with this so that we can restore our own honour.
Daniel's gotten a way with words, because after a short pause, he gets Arawn's promise.
Teal'c? Can you feel that?
I can Samantha. It is naquada.
I see Daniel's face as it goes through a catalogue of emotions, from shock through to recognition, then a sense of anger with himself.
OF COURSE! I had wondered how they detected the presence of Goa'uld. That's how. They've gotten their own Jaffa. Look!
We look and see the guy who was beamed up to the ship yesterday and five Jaffa heading our way. We're not armed, of course, short of a knife each. Not that I can see Daniel using one of those. If anything, he'll use his tongue. It's sharper.
We've got to stop them. Capture them. How long before the others get here?
I look at my watch and groan. About another hour.
I can hear three minds working at a hundred miles an hour. Teal'c and Jack are working on guerilla tactics - and what the hell Daniel's working on, I don't know, 'cause it's whizzing through my own mind so fast I can't keep up. I block him out for a moment so I can think, too.
We have to stop them here. In this clearing.
Before any of us can argue, Daniel steps out in front of the invaders and orders them to stop.
Daniel? What are you doing? Jack asks before the rest of us can.
Making it up as I go along, comes the reply.
Situation normal then. Let's hope the standard AFU of the SNAFU doesn't come into play...
"You went back on your word," I call out, staring at the leader of the band of thieves. "Not that I'd expect you to keep it, liar that you are!"
He looks angrily back at me and states, "This is an uninhabited planet. We are free to come and go as we please."
I sneer back at him - at least I'm hoping it's a sneer. I'm going for Goa'uldish, nasty; the sort of sneer that should make him nervous. I'll give myself this one, he is nervous, but whether it's of me or anything else, I don't know. I'm going to have to let down my barriers, aren't I?
"That's where you're wrong. This isn't an uninhabited planet by a long way. And if you'd spent time looking for people to trade with, instead of raiding and stealing, you'd know that."
"Where are they then?" he yells back at me. "I don't see anyone."
I laugh, I can't help it. "Just because you don't see, doesn't mean there isn't something there. In my business, we have a saying; absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. You didn't see because you didn't look. You still don't see... And you won't."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that you're going back to your worthless planet," I spit, taking a leaf out of the Jaffa book of intimidation, "and you're going to forget this place ever existed. After you've compensated the people here for the theft of their machine."
"Yes. You will give them what you took. As you cannot give them the machine, you will give them what you were paid, plus a little interest, I think."
Daniel? What are you doing?
Stalling for time, Jack. We need the ship and soon. It's got the weapons on it, hasn't it?
I hear him sigh in my mind and get a 'carry on', probably because he hasn't a better idea. We need to put these people off coming here ever again. Actually, the more I hear from this guy's mind, the more I want to stop him going anywhere ever again.
One of his Jaffa - once a Jaffa of Baal by the looks of things - points his staff weapon at me. I try to look unimpressed.
"Tell him to put it down," I order.
"Why should I? You are unarmed, we are not. So I think that we are in the stronger position."
I laugh at him, it's the only thing I can do. I have no barriers up at the moment; not a single one. I can hear his mind, how afraid he is. Afraid of his own people because word has gotten out about our 'visit'. Which is probably why they're here. He's afraid of me, because I'm not armed and yet I'm showing no fear. His Jaffa are nervous. They're looking about for the 'locals', wondering if they're about to be ambushed. Time to undermine the little creep a bit further.
"You," I say to the Jaffa. "I see who you used to serve. Who you were slaves to. Baal, Apophis, Morrigan..." I wave my hands at each one. "You may not know this but we freed you from that slavery. You had a chance at an honourable life but now you serve another master. You are slaves to greed. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
"No longer are you following orders on pain of death, you have chosen to become slaves. The Jaffa I know personally would see you as the worst creatures imaginable. Something no better than what they'd scrape off their shoes. Something to spit on."
Four of them are looking a bit guilty, but one is getting angry. I can't allow him to attack. I need to keep everyone safe. I need to.
He raises his weapon again, points it at me and charges it.
Daniel! Get down!
No. Not this time. I put out my hand and will the damned thing to come to me.
We are in shock. That Daniel would stand in front of armed men and insult them is no surprise, but what is surprising is the fact that he now holds a charged staff weapon in his hands and is pointing it at the leader of the I'krell.
"Tell them to put their weapons down," he orders the man, yet his voice is now soft, almost disappointed in tone. It is as if he is depressed that this may yet come to violence.
The leader is very frightened; even I can tell that without the benefit of empathy. In defeat, he orders his men to drop their weapons. His shoulders are dropped, his head bowed.
"Kneel down," Daniel orders them. The Jaffa do as they are told immediately. "Guys, come out."
We emerge from our hiding places, and they realise that they were only surrounded by three, unarmed people. They look shamed, as well they should be.
Daniel throws the staff weapon to me, O'Neill and Samantha pick up the others and remove them from the reach of our captives. The leader still hasn't knelt down. Daniel moves closer to him as we aim the weapons at them all. There is a quick movement and it takes me a moment to realise what is going on. The leader has a knife and he has aimed it at Daniel.
"DANIEL!" O'Neill shouts.
"I'm fine, Jack," he calls quietly.
Then he steps back and we see that the knife is sticking out of the chest of the I'krell's leader. The man finally drops to his knees, then flops down to his side. He is still alive, but not for long.
"Now you see what greed gets you," Daniel states softly and with deep sadness. "Because you stole the healing machine, it is not here for you to use. And because of the nature of this gate, there is no way to get you to it."
I am closer now and see a look of understanding in the man's eyes. Then they shut. Daniel turns his back and walks away.
"Lord Arawn," he says quietly. "You may come out now."
The remaining Jaffa look in awe as Arawn and other people appear as if out of nowhere. Daniel ignores everyone and sits down, away from the crowd.
"Lord Arawn, would you have some rope?" I ask.
"To tie up our captives."
He nods, waves a hand and one of his people disappears. "What will you do with them?"
I look to O'Neill and he shrugs. "We'll take them away. Unless you would prefer to deal with them?"
Arawn shakes his head. "We do not wish the presence of evil ones." He looks at me with a wry smile. "With certain exceptions, of course."
I bow back at him, acknowledging his welcome.
We are on the ship and are leaving Annwn. MIB returned about a half hour after the incident ended. Kar Shel, John, O'Neill and I took the Jaffa up to the ship and put them in the cells that seem to have been part of each of Hades' ships. While Kar Shel and I remained on guard, we 'lectured' them on their dishonesty and greed. I believe that at least some of them understand that they took the wrong path.
They could have gone home to their families, they could have joined the rebellion, or they could even have done nothing. Any of those things would have been better than entering a life of crime.
Daniel secretly informed us of what he took from the mind of their leader. Not only were they explorers, the I'krell have committed many acts of theft knowingly. He thinks that occasionally, they were even driven to violence in the cause of their greed. I believe he has a plan to punish the people, which would be unlike him, but I am willing to listen to his explanation when it arrives.
DJ and Daniel spent time on the planet, recording many writings, learning how to read and translate the script under the tutelage of the scholar. Arawn was concerned by Daniel's demeanour, so O'Neill explained that all acts of violence leave Daniel in such a state. He hates to kill almost as much as he hates the Goa'uld. I am under the impression that Arawn is more fond of Daniel than he initially seemed to be; and, like so many who meet him, he had become very fond of him almost immediately.
O'Neill brought Arawn to the ship again and contacted Thor. It would seem that the old friends are now happy to be reunited.
Thor stated that although they once had the records of what planets were inhabited by those they knew, the first attack on Asgard territory wiped out the repository of those records. The only other copy they had was on Jotunheim, but because they have been otherwise occupied by the fight with the Replicators, no one has found time to go through the data. Thor has promised to visit as soon as is possible and Arawn is very grateful for this contact.
Daniel seemed to be sad to leave Annwn, but he has given - with our collective permission - Arawn the address so that when the planets are in alignment, he may visit us. Arawn has also given us permission to return at any time we wish. I think there may be a short visit to report on what is going to happen next.
We are in the galley, eating while MIB pilot the ship and guard the Jaffa. Kar Shel will not leave them in case they somehow break free. We are not going directly home, neither are we going directly to the I'krell. O'Neill suggested that we take these prisoners to the Jaffa rebellion, where they will be made even more aware of their dishonour and given the chance to make amends.
"What do you wish to do when we arrive at the I'krell's planet?" I ask Daniel.
He has not spoken a word to us since he was forced to kill that man; and just how he did it, we are unaware. It happened very quickly, but there was no sign of struggle, either to us while it happened, or on Daniel's clothes when it was over. DJ stated that he barely spoke even when they were recording the writings.
"I think they should be prevented from ever leaving their planet again," he says quietly.
O'Neill puts his hand on Daniel's and squeezes it tightly.
"Hey," he says softly. "What's up? I know you hate killing, but you haven't been this bad about it in a long while. Not to mention, that was most definitely in self-defence. You gave that creep every chance and it's his fault that he screwed up."
Daniel looks at him with sad eyes and a sadder smile.
"It's not just that," he admits. "I had to open my mind completely. Had to know everything that was going on."
He falters, looking for the words but I fear they are failing him.
I've never seen Daniel so lost. It's obviously gotten something to do with whatever he found out. He's hinted at some big shit having happened, but now I think it's time to get it out of him.
"What did you learn from the leader, Daniel?"
He pulls his hand from mine and concentrates on his coffee, staring at it as the steam rises.
"I've never known such greed," he starts. "I mean, we all knew that that was their driving force, and we've all come up against it back home. People getting mugged for a couple of dollars, even getting killed for the same. But these..."
He looks a little green. "Okay, so it was a generation or so ago, but they wiped out an entire village just to get some... some junk!" he spits. "Stuff that wasn't worth a scratch, let alone the deaths of men, women and children."
Now he looks angry, I can feel it radiating off him. If he doesn't calm down by the time we get there, and we are going there, I'm thinking that nuking the planet may well be on his agenda.
"So we make them pay," I suggest. "How?"
"Like I said, we stop them doing what they do."
"You have any ideas how we're going to implement that?" Sam asks. "They have ships and the gate, after all."
Daniel frowns for a while, then he smiles. It's not a nice smile, but it tells me that he's worked out some suitable way of punishing these people. Just as he's about to tell us what he's got in mind, there's a call from the bridge and we're at the planet where Bratac is training his rebel Jaffa.
Teal'c came back with Kar Shel, and both of them were grinning. Somehow, I'm not sure that just seeing Bratac and Rya'c is enough to cover that, either. No, I'm thinking that those greedy Jaffa are learning a few more lessons on how to be honourable warriors. Or else.
Daniel's explained his idea to everyone and we're all on the bridge, desperate to get there. I can't wait, I really can't wait. One thing he wants to do is to make these people pay and pay big time.
We're at the system again, and we're all getting tired. I want this over and done with as soon as possible.
"How many ships are there?" I ask.
Frankie looks at the scans and says, "Just four."
"Can we do this remotely, or do we need to get onto them?"
"We'll have to go over there. Can't tell one crystal from another at this distance."
The initial plan is that we remove the hyperdrive and their weapons' crystals. They should be able to fly back to the planet, but interstellar travel and attack will be impossible. We'll leave them their shields, though, 'cause of the asteroid belt. Don't want people getting spaced. We want to punish them, we don't want any more deaths. At least Daniel doesn't.
"We'll have to take a chance on the cloaks working. I don't want anyone on their own, though."
"How about Teal'c comes with me, and Kar Shel goes with Sam," Frankie suggests. "That way we can silently communicate with you guys and you can transport us to two different ships at the same time. When we're done, you can send us to the other ones. Between us, we should get the crystals we want in pretty short order."
I look at John and he shrugs an 'okay' back at me, so I give the go ahead. They're the ones who know the most about these things so it makes sense.
While they go to get ready, I ask Daniel what he wants to do on the planet.
"Two things," he states. "I want the crystals taken from the DHD. That way nobody will come here and these people will be stranded on their own planet. It's about time they started looking after themselves, I think. A bit of hard work might teach them a few lessons."
I see a more genuine grin, one which says he's so going to enjoy this. I give him one back.
"Easily done. What's the other thing?"
"I... uh," he starts a little sheepishly, "I got the code to the safe in the creep's office. He was the one who held their valuables."
"You want to take the lot?" I ask.
He gives a short shake of his head. "No, but I think that we should take what they 'earned' from the sale of the machine and give that to Arawn. He can do what he likes with it. I doubt he's really interested in monetary compensation, but it will at least show that we do as we promise."
"The whole honour thing again?"
He nods then says nothing more as the others are ready to go.
It's like taking candy from a baby. Kar Shel and I are in the engine room of one of the ships, there's nobody here and it only takes us a couple of moments to remove the right crystals. I like Daniel's idea. He's right, they can go to the planet and around their own system, but that's the end of their scavenging - at least with the ships.
We give the order and we're sent directly to the engine room of the other ship. I hear from Teal'c that they're on their other ship, too, so that's good. This one will be a little more difficult because there are a couple of engineers here.
Jack, tell John to ask Kar Shel to create a distraction away from the engines, please.
Hold on... Done. You'll have your distraction in a moment or two.
I see some lights popping up on a display over the other side of the room, some confusion is reigning and all bodies here are facing away from me. As quickly as I can, I open up the drawers and take out the relevant crystals.
Done. Get us out of here.
In what seems like the blink of an eye, Kar Shel and I reappear on Gimli's bridge.
"Well done," Jack says. "Just waiting for the others to shout and then we'll head for the planet. Keep the cloaks handy, we've got another job for you."
I'm glad. Over the last two days I've felt a bit useless. Okay, so this isn't exactly trying to shut down a chain reaction or something, but it does get my blood pumping.
The others reappear, John flies us to the planet, uncaring of whether we leave a trail or not now because they can't fire on us anymore. It takes no more than a couple of minutes to arrive in orbit, then Daniel tells us his plan.
"Um, Frankie, Kar Shel, you head to the DHD and take out the sending and receiving crystals. Then get back to the ship. Sam, Teal'c, you'd better come with me. Uh, DJ, you too. We might need to do a translation or two."
"What about us?" Jack asks.
"You're here to get us out of trouble if we run into it. You know it's better if we have at least one human and one android on board ship so that we can all communicate silently."
Jack looks at bit miffed so Daniel gives him a brief hug.
"Jack," he says softly, "we're going down there to do something technical, not tactical. I'm just suggesting a good allotment of resources, that's all. Besides, nobody co-ordinates stuff better than you, and therefore by definition, John too. We won't be long, then we can go home and rest."
It's night-time on the planet, at least on the part we're on. This helps because there are fewer people around. We were able to beam directly into the leader's office and now Daniel's giving us his ideas. While he opens the safe, DJ is going through the files and taking as much information as he can. These people aren't going to need it anymore.
It's not the whole file of each item, it's just the front page. If all the files are in the same system as the one we were given, the front page is the only one which carries an address, but it also has a précis of what was found and stuff about the place it was found in. The rest of the file carries information on what it was sold for and other financial data - things we aren't interested in.
I'm trying to boot up what looks like an old computer system. Daniel guessed there might be such a thing as there had to be a second record of the address of Annwn - that's Arawn's Annwn - or else they wouldn't have known how to get there again. Jack had passed on the possibility that they might have a complete list of gates, given that Annwn was on the silver planet list. We want to delete that.
But first, I've got to find it, then I'm going to try to find a way to download it, so that we can compare details with what we have. We're hoping that the paper information, at the very least, will give us some gen on places we haven't been to, possibly telling us whether it's worth going to those places or not.
Teal'c is on guard, supposedly, but he's doing it while standing next to DJ. We've switched off our cloaks for the moment, only using flashlights to see with. The windows are blacked out - I think these people are seriously paranoid on a good day. Today ain't a good day, as Jack would say. Their paranoia is serving us well.
Teal'c, meanwhile, has his arms out and DJ is piling sheet after sheet of paper onto him.
"Wow," we hear from Daniel in a whisper. I can't afford to take my eyes off what I'm doing, so I look through his eyes. He's opened the safe, and inside it is not just a whole load of gems, but what looks like gold and jewellery. "Look," he says. "If that's not a Celtic torc, I don't know what one is. Do you think that Arawn would like this?"
I see, again through his eyes, a necklet of twisted gold, highly-intricate work with round 'balls' on each end. I remember seeing something like that in one of his books on the Celts, so I'd have to agree on his supposition.
"I'd think so," DJ agrees. "In fact, they'd probably prefer gold to the jewels. The Celts loved gold, didn't they?"
Can't say I blame them. Daniel quickly packs it into his bag, finds a few other items of a similar nature, then wryly picks up the leather purse we'd given the man for the information in the first place. With a shrug, he puts that in his bag, too. When he's convinced he's taken what should cover what we paid for the machine, he shuts up the safe. Then he turns to help DJ, freeing up Teal'c to help me.
"Got it," I hiss under my breath.
Don't want any sound to travel outside this room if we can help it. The fact that this computer seems to be on a technological level comparable to that of the late 1980s on Earth means it's a pretty noisy one and it's not doing a lot for my nerves. I find a way to download the information, transfer it to my laptop - and boy, is it slow.
My own computer seems to be having its own moment of frustration as it waits for the data to come out of this seemingly clockwork machine. That'll teach it to frustrate me, I guess.
"How long?" Daniel asks, stuffing papers into DJ's bag while he continues to go through what seems like hundreds of files. Probably is hundreds.
"Piece of string?"
"Ah. Think it's going to be a long night," he moans.
I am absolutely exhausted. We finally got everything we wanted from the office. We're only hoping that they don't have back-up crystals and so on, but as far as we can tell, the only computer system was in that office and we pray that their filing system was similarly located in a single place. Without going through the whole place, we couldn't say for certain. Whatever, it's going to stop them in their tracks for a good while.
When we got home, MIB took the things we chose for Arawn back to Annwn. It's funny thinking of that place, but in another way, it's comforting. Almost like a second home. We - MIA that is - were too damned tired to think, let alone do anything else.
Damn those androids. I hate it when we're done for and they're still perky.
I've cleaned my teeth and now I'm in bed. Jack should be joining me in a minute, but I'm not up for a 'joining' in any other sense of the word. All I want to do is slee...
"Hey, wake up sleepyhead."
"Well, it's not Chaucer, but it'll do for a morning. Here. Coffee."
God, my head hurts. I must have slept heavily. I must also be giving off vibes of some sort 'cause Jack's just disappeared. Now he's back and handing me some pills.
"Take these. Then you can have some break... uh, lunch."
Lunch? I look at the time on my watch which sits on the table next to the bed and realise that it's midday. Wow. Haven't slept that late in ages.
I take the pills, then knock back the coffee. Damn, he's dressed. Maybe I can change that. I put out my hand and without a word, he takes it. I tug and he gets the message, laying down next to me and finally, we kiss. Seems like a month since we last did this. I know it wasn't, but it's how it feels. I need to reconnect with him. This time, I'm thinking that 'joining' will be in the other sense of the word.
I pull back a little, with my mouth next to his and say, "Fuck me."
"You got something better to do? Someone better to do?"
He looks like he's thinking about it, so I flatten him, kiss the shit out of him, undress him at the same time and before he knows it, the little prick-tease is on his back, his legs over my shoulders and I'm fucking him. Not that he's complaining. Not sure he's breathing. I'll teach him to think about it. Teach him so well he'll never think about anything again.
"OH fuck, Danny," I hear.
"No, you missed your chance," I scold. "It's 'fuck Jack' now."
I stop talking, drop his legs down, pull out of him, flip him over and then nail him into the mattress. Needless to say, he's not putting up a fight.
Wish I could see his face properly, but what the hell, if he didn't want this, he'd tell me soon enough. I want it. I need it. Got to be a part of him again.
He's building up, so'm I. Gonna come whether I want it or not. Never want it to end, yet always want it to end. Want that feeling, that amazing sensation, and never want it to stop.
"Gah!" We've connected our minds for the last few moments. Brings us off together usually and it's succeeded now. Panting, I roll off him, grab him and pull him close to me and then, in-between gasps of air, I kiss him again.
"Still thinking about it?" I ask when we break apart.
"Thinking? What's that?"
That's my boy.
MIB are home, thank God. They're telling us that the 'gifts' were well-received and Arawn thinks that my 'punishment' was just. I'm glad about that.
DJ's brought a gift of his own; from Arawn, via Ogmius. While we were away, Ogmius had a think about the documents in the library and went through them to find what he was looking for. Eventually, he did. By the time they arrived, he'd found the blueprints to the healing machine. They're in Ogham, but seeing as he taught us how to read it, transliterate it and, for the most part, translate it, we should be able to come up with an English version between us. We'll work on it separately and then do a compare and contrast to make sure we both think it's right. Not that we're likely to disagree on anything, but it's easy to make a mistake if you're not concentrating.
I'd wonder how DJ could lose concentration, but John can be as distracting as Jack.
"Daniel, tell me one thing," Jack says as we sit back and relax. Don't want to do anything else today except relax.
"One thing in particular?"
He rolls his eyes at me and I can't stop grinning back at him. Now Sam's doing the eye thing. Guess she knows what we did before lunch...
"Go on, what do you want to know?"
"Why the people there were called by an Irish name, yet Arawn greeted you in Welsh and he said they call the ring by a Welsh name."
"Ah, that's actually easier than it sounds. You see, Arawn, as you probably guessed, is telepathic. He must have scanned my mind initially and recognised that I speak some Welsh. So, he spoke in what would be a dialect to him, I guess, rather than a separate language.
"In fact, the name 'Tuatha dé Danann' was recognised by the Welsh Celts as the generic 'family' name for the various gods, too. I can't remember offhand if they had their own as well, but the various terms, specifically between the Irish and Welsh, were often interchangeable.
"The script we've been learning about is actually in their language, and ancient Celtic is based on it. They call themselves something different from what we've called them, but the meaning is the same. He understands many forms of Celtic languages and can swap easily from one to another.
"Some of his people, as he said, were brought back to their Annwn comparatively recently. They must have learned the Romano-Celtic dialects before they fled, because it took a while before the Romans turned on the druids. As a telepathic people, they must have assimilated any number of versions of their language quite easily."
"Which Roman do you think was the Goa'uld?" Sam asks.
I shrug. "Could be any number. I wondered about that and came up with a hypothesis, but how likely it is, I don't know."
DJ looks at me with curiosity, so I share it.
"Julius Caesar was basically a middle-class 'lout', in the eyes of the ruling classes. Sure, he had some apparent good points, but he allowed his troops, in fact encouraged them in wholesale slaughter of innocent people. When they went to war, they didn't just fight the soldiers, they raped, pillaged and murdered. The reputation of the Vikings for doing the same thing doesn't even come close to the Romans for the sheer scale of grotesque behaviour.
"Anyway, we know that the Roman ruling classes were incestuous, nepotistic and over time, got madder and madder. There are a few explanations for that, including the copious use of lead in everyday things, like wine and food - yes," I say at the raised eyebrows from Sam, "they ate it."
"No wonder they went nuts," she mutters.
"True. But it was the Caesars, the guys in charge who were the craziest; just look at Caligula and Nero as examples. It's my guess that there was one Goa'uld who was hiding himself inside each emperor as he ruled. He was smart enough to recognise that the people would get suspicious of an immortal emperor, so he would have changed hosts, possibly into the next ruler, just before the old one died, or more likely, was murdered. Usually by the next ruler..."
They see where I'm going with this. Add insanity derived from the sarc to a smart but evil snake, the freedom to take prisoners, murder on a massive scale and have a ready-made empire of slaves, why bother leaving Earth when you can stay put and change hosts when the mood takes?
"I wonder which one it was?" DJ murmurs.
Who knows? All we can do is hope that he's not still out there.