Summary: Aliens and alliances. Computers and connections. Does that mean gods or God? (Part one of a heaven-only-knows-how-many-parter... Haven't written the rest yet!) Ultra-gratitude as ever to the amazing Alph.
"Hey Daniel, what'cha doing?"
I'm only asking because I'd have thought he'd be down in the tunnel, where he's been all week. He looks up at me from the table we have in our 'apartment' - at least our bit of the house - and from his laptop. He frowns a bit, then shrugs.
"It's not particularly warm down in the tunnel," he replies, nodding at the blazing fire. "I mean, it's not cold..." He shrugs again.
I know what he means. Tok'ra tunnels are pretty much the same temperature all year round. Not too hot, not too cold. The cold-storage room we've got has some tech which chills it, as does the "special" new room put aside for the Carters' new sooper-dooper mainframe compooter; hand-built, the size of a few large wardrobes and filled with all the latest bits of gadgetry, electronics and does something acrobatic like a terror-flop. Not sure what that is, but it sounds dangerous. Anyway, they're the only rooms with a temperature difference.
The thing is, it's really been snowing this week and the temp outside is way below zero. The desert rat hates the cold. DJ doesn't particularly notice it, though even he frowns when he sees the snow. I think that's a residual hate from his memories of being Daniel.
I must admit that I'd been a bit worried about things like our water supply freezing up (it comes from the waterfall, which, we found out after moving here, is supplied by the melt-water from the snowcap on our mountain), but Sam got that sorted out before the snow really started to fall.
We visited Abydos the day after we got back from Arawn's place (calling it Annwn is plain odd), topped up their water and gave them some more meat. Then we paid a quick visit to the masons. They like us a lot at the moment, 'cause we keep buying stuff from them.
With an exchange of gems, Sam and Frankie came back with some equipment, then after yet another trip - this time to the Tok'ra - opened up a huge reservoir of our own and filled it with the fresh water, the flow of which from the waterfall is not-so slowly starting to reduce in intensity, mainly 'cause it's freezing up. The gals got some pipes, some insulating stuff and put the pipes underground.
What it means is that the reservoir won't freeze, neither will the pipes, and if the worst comes to the worst and our waterfall turns to ice, we have a back-up supply that should see us through the rest of the winter.
While we were at the masons' place, we also found out a couple of things. Three, in fact. One - which is a secret - is that my plan is coming together and that I should be able to start work on it soon. Which would be good, 'cause I want it done before Daniel's birthday in just under a couple of months.
The second was that we found that they trade for basic food items - wheat, barley, corn and so on - and more to the point, where they get it. The planet they trade with is one of the network of trading planets that Daniel had wondered about. We popped over there, met up with the contact that Calicus told us about and organised a little trade of our own.
In our stores now reside sacks of wheat flour, cornflour, malted barley and so on, as well as things like 'live' yeast. Daniel said something about him having a recipe for old-fashioned beer using some of these items, so that'll be good. We were able to buy a whole ton or two of grain for the Abydonians, too, which was also good.
The final bit of info was that the pipeline for the Abydonians is nearly finished. Just in time if we're going to run out of our own water. In the next couple of weeks, they'll be taking the whole lot over there and within a short while, the Abydonians will have a permanent, fresh supply of water. The masons are even fitting filters at the head of it. The water will have to go through a system of self-cleaning filters before it even gets into the pipe. That means it'll be as clean as the water we're sending them.
I know that both Daniels are really happy with that idea.
"I get that," I tell him, sitting on the armchair near the table. "You always prefer the heat. But I thought you'd be working with DJ on the translation, not doing research on..." I look at the pile of books he has stacked near him and see what it is. "Gods."
"Yeah," he says thoughtfully. "You see, while we were working on the translation, something struck us about what Arawn said about timing being relative."
"And it's always been difficult, using Earth's own mythology, to pin down timeframes for various events. We now know that the Tuatha dé Danann were pretty much gone during the Roman occupation of Britain, which puts it at around 300 CE - give or take a century or two, depending when they actually left. Uh, that's the Tuatha, not the Romans...
"Um, anyway, Arawn said some stayed after the others had gone, and we can't say for certain if they'd all gone by the time the druids had been wiped out or if they stayed until Ireland, especially, was converted to Christianity. Anyway, that gives us an idea of their time there. But only the end. He said that his people had been watching over the Celts from the time they became a distinct people. But, he also said that his ancestors had been watching over humans long before that.
"Given what we have found out about various other alien species being on Earth for millennia, we wondered just how long Earth has had alien visitors. We think that the Goa'uld turned up about 10,000 years ago - but that's only assuming that they had something to do with that amulet. If they didn't, if it was someone else behind it... if the Goa'uld took over from extant 'gods', then the other aliens must have been there for a heck of a long time before that."
"What relevance does this have?"
He shrugs. "Who knows? Might have little. Might have none." Then he looks at me curiously and adds, "Might have a heck of a lot."
"What do you mean?"
He stops for a moment, thinks about his answer, then poses a real humdinger of a question.
"What if..." he starts, then he stumbles for a moment.
I say nothing, but give him time to order the words in his mind. He shakes his head then starts again.
"Homo sapiens lived alongside other hominids for thousands of years. Many thousands of years. That would suggest that other hominids were well-suited to at least certain conditions on Earth. So why did Homo sapiens become the only human life about 30,000 years ago? Was there some sort of alien intervention?
"I mean, it's been shown that in Europe, for example, they were better suited to the climate changes that hit than the Neanderthals, but they'd lived alongside them for absolutely ages. There's no sign that the two warred significantly, just that the Neanderthals died out. But in other parts of the world, the ice-age would have had lesser effects. Why didn't the local equivalents of the Neanderthals continue on?
"What little we know of the Neanderthals actually shows that they were able to communicate, if only in a primitive manner because of the nature of their vocal construction, but they could talk. Don't know if they did talk in what we'd understand as a language, but the ability was there. They were also strong, inventive, pretty clever really. All the signs that they could have survived under the right conditions.
"Surely not all of Earth became inhospitable? There is some evidence of later hominid survivals, but only small groups in isolated areas; why not more?"
I shrug. I have absolutely no answer for him.
"And then there's the question of why," he adds.
"Why was Earth such a magnet for all the varied alien species? At a guess, the Goa'uld found that human hosts were the most satisfactory, but how did they find them in the first place? Had other aliens already settled some on other planets and they'd been discovered out there? Or did the Goa'uld find at least a partial list of the gate system?"
He continues with his questions without expecting an answer, which is just as well.
"Turning up when they did, they'd have found that humans had developed almost to the point we're at now. A few small differences in height and lifespan, but that's mainly down to diet and medicine. Nothing that a symbiote couldn't fix. And why were humans the first - and as far as we can tell - the only supply of what became Jaffa?"
I look at him in bewilderment. "I have no idea," I reply. "But what's all that got to do with what you're doing. And what are you doing?"
"Oh, that. Well, after a few days, DJ and I worked out that we were translating the various documents identically, which isn't really a surprise. So I've left him to translate what he can of the blueprint to the machine - we started on easier things first to make sure we were on the right track. I can go over his translation later and make sure I agree with him before we take it to the Tok'ra.
"Anyway, in the meantime, we figured that really working on the 'family tree' of gods would be a good idea. This book," he points to the only open one on the desk, "has a list of a fair few of the most regularly 'used' gods throughout Earth. I'm giving each one its own web page, so to speak, then I'm making a list of both the regions they came from and the sort of gods they were. Fertility, tutelary, oracular and so on," he adds as if that means anything to me.
"We want to do a compare and contrast by region. Names, dates, types... See if we can tie in any connections with what we've learned about the Goa'uld and other species of alien. This book is only the start, but it has about 3,000 gods in it, so it will give us a good basis from which to work."
He chuckles. "That's only the beginning, Jack. Some pantheons have around ten thousand minor gods."
"Wow. You're going to include them all?"
"Only the ones we can. Some have such brief mentions that there's little point in going on with them. But what we can find out, we will," he finishes, waving his hand at all the books. "It'll take some time; months, maybe even years, but it'll be worth it in the end."
He leans back and stretches. Guess he's been hunched over that computer for days. I hear his neck and spine crack as he moves. Ouch!
"When we're done, we can tie it into the Tok'ra's own 'family tree'; you know, the database that they have of the various Goa'uld. We'll be able to make notes on some that state that the Goa'uld versions of each god are dead." He adds that with a smile.
I look over his shoulder and see that the page is open on A - and the first god, or should I say 'goddess' - that jumps out at me is called 'Amaunet'. He looks at me, sees where my eyes are resting and shrugs.
"At least Apollo answered that one question I had about her," he says, a lot more calmly than I would have imagined possible.
"What question was that?" And why only one? I wonder, but I keep that thought to myself.
"Well, I knew there was an Egyptian goddess with that name, but I'd wondered just what a new symbiote was doing with her name. Teal'c told me that the symbiote that possessed Shau're came from a Jaffa, not from an old host. The original goddess was one of fertility; funnily enough, she was anthropomorphically depicted, but with the head of a snake."
He looks up at me and shrugs again.
"The point is, Amaunet - the original Goa'uld one - must have been a queen, or else Apophis wouldn't have had any symbiotes for his Jaffa." I nod, conceding that one. "She must have known she was getting old, maybe even dying. It wouldn't be a surprise because the Amaunet of history, so to speak, was one of the earliest gods, part of the Ogdoad."
That means nothing to me, but I'm not going to interrupt 'cause I need him to get it out of his system. He carries on regardless, anyway.
"But as a queen, from what Apollo said, she could pass on her knowledge to a single symbiote. I questioned Teal'c further, and boy, I'd rather have some teeth pulled without anaesthetic than go through that again," he mutters, "and discovered that the Jaffa that had carried the new symbiote had been kept secure for the seven years he had to carry her. We know that the new one wasn't a queen, but, she had all the memories of the old one. We also know Apophis was deeply attached to her. Why, if she was new? It wouldn't make so much sense.
"So he must have been deeply attached to the old her, and just carried on as if the new one was the same one. The old Amaunet died only a relatively short time before the new one was ready, which could have explained why he was so desperate to find the 'right' host. He wanted her back as soon as he could get her a new host."
His voice goes quiet and I lean over, click on the button to save his work and shut down his computer. I get the feeling that there are many other points he wants to make, but now isn't the time to think about them.
Daniel is looking thoughtful as we eat our lunch. He does not seem distressed, in fact he seems more like his old self, which is a relief to us all. No, now his thinking seems to be along the academic lines we are more used to him pursuing, rather than trying to work out what is wrong with him this time.
We all wait, knowing that while he eats, he will consider his words, attempt to put them in some sort of order, and then - as O'Neill says - 'give his idea to the floor'. Although why the floor would be of any use in sorting out a problem is beyond my understanding.
Earlier today, he had some difficult questions for me. I had to answer each one as accurately and as truthfully as I knew how, even though I knew that the answers - as well as the questions - held pain for him. One thing I have learned over the years of knowing him, however, is that he deals better with the truth, irrespective of how much it hurts. Even the most gentle of lies hurt him far more. So, I told him everything I knew about the history of Amaunet and the implantation of the new symbiote.
One thing I could not tell him, even though I believe that he would understand my motives, was that I felt that Apophis - or rather Amaunet - would have chosen Shau're in the end, no matter how many other beautiful women were presented. She looked much like the host of the old queen. I chose her in an attempt to prevent the deaths of the many other women in captivity; although, deep in my heart, I assumed that they, too, would eventually die. I hoped that they would have a less traumatic end than that faced when rejected by a symbiote.
Facing implantation would have been terrifying; more frightening, I believe, than facing death itself. I also had to explain that those he called 'his children', such as Klorel, were indeed the offspring of the old queen.
It was not easy for either of us, but somehow I feel he felt more anxiety for my own mental wellbeing than for his own. I wish I could understand him, but fear I cannot. All I can do is hope to protect him from further hurt, and if that means putting my own life in danger to protect O'Neill, then I shall. Daniel would not thank me for dying to save his own life, I am sure, but - I hope - he would understand my motives to protect his mate.
"You got something for us, Danny?" O'Neill asks.
Daniel points down his fork at his plate, aimlessly stabs at some food and then picks some up, but makes no attempt to eat it just yet.
"Uh?" O'Neill teases.
Daniel frowns, then smiles wryly. "Uh yeah. Something struck me about timelines."
This time Daniel chuckles. "Yeah, again." He looks at Samantha and myself and elaborates on what has obviously been a discussion point between himself and O'Neill. "Arawn said that his people and others had been watching over humans for a long time. Um, to cut a long thought process short, I'm guessing that that could be any time from the evolution of Homo sapiens as a concrete species to maybe even thirty thousand years ago. A minimum timeframe would really be ten thousand years."
"That long?" Samantha asks.
"Hmm, yeah. Goa'uld, as we know, took over many extant gods. We believe they turned up ten thousand years ago on Earth, so other aliens must have been around before then. Now we know very little about the truly ancient religions, mainly because there was no writing. Only the stories that got passed down from generation to generation have survived, and heaven only knows how they have changed. Anyway, the whole thing got me thinking.
"What if they'd been there from the beginning? Did they in any way affect the transition from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens - assuming, of course, that that was a direct evolution. We could be totally wrong about that because we know that any number of hominid species existed, many of them at the same time as each other."
He stops, notices that he has some food about to fall off his fork, eats it, swallows and then continues.
"Anyway, this led to another question; one I posed to Jack. Why was Earth a magnet for all these alien species? We know for a fact that many species were there at some point in Earth's history; we've met enough of them after all. The ancient alliance with the Ancients and the Asgard and so on probably knew of the planet long before the Goa'uld turned up. In fact, I have an inkling that they really knew of the planet."
That statement stops the rest of us eating, but he continues.
"You see, we know that the Ancients had a presence on Earth a very long time ago. I'd go so far as to bet that any number of the most prehistoric gods and spirits that we have art records for - some of which date back tens of thousands of years, like the cave paintings found in any number of places - um, yeah, I'd bet they actually refer to the Ancients themselves."
He puts his fork down and then looks at each one of us in turn.
"Actually, I think they originated on Earth."
"Why?" Samantha asks.
"Two reasons. One, it would be a good explanation as to why so many other aliens went there. Don't forget, the Ancients set up the stargate system by ship. It stands to reason that they met tens, maybe hundreds or even thousands of alien species as they did."
"And the other reason, Daniel?"
He looks at me and smiles. "Earth has always been referred to by transplanted humans and Goa'uld - and a few other aliens that we've met - as the 'first world'. Now, I'd bet everything we have that it wasn't the first world on which life evolved. That just doesn't make any sense. But, as far as we can tell, it was the first world that Jaffa were taken from - or at least the humans that got turned into them. And I wouldn't mind betting that it was the first world where there was a stargate."
"Why do you say that, Daniel?" O'Neill asks.
Daniel gives us his 'I've so got one over on you' smile and we all have to hide a smile of our own. It is something that has been missing for some time.
"Constellations," he says. At the look of confusion on our faces, he adds, "On the vast majority of planets, especially those in the region of the galaxy in which Earth resides, any number of the glyphs on the DHD are the same, except the point of origin, of course."
"And?" O'Neill pushes.
"If you were to go even to Proxima Centauri, Earth's nearest neighbour so to speak, most, if not all of the constellations would disappear, wouldn't they?" He looks at Samantha and her eyes widen.
"You'd lose the same perspective," she says.
He points his fork at her, which is unfortunate as he had obviously unwittingly picked up some more food. Samantha is now wearing it. However, she does not seem to mind too much and there is much laughter around the table for a while. Eventually, we calm.
"So..." O'Neill starts.
"Think about it, Jack," Daniel urges. "Why would constellations that we can't see be on our DHD? Not as many as one glyph should be the same on any DHD in the entire stargate system. It's my guess that the 'programming' inside the DHD takes into account the actual location in space of the planet within the range of what we see as the constellations on Earth; converts it into some stargate equivalent to binary coding, or something, and the glyphs are just pictorial reminders for people to remember addresses."
Samantha thinks for a while, then nods. "It could be," she agrees. "I can't say for certain. However, we do know that travelling to some planets on the far side of the galaxy using the gate can only be done via other planets. If our DHD doesn't have the glyphs for a gate then we have to go to one that does. Like having to change busses to get to a far destination, I guess."
"Could the Ancients not have come from the far side of the galaxy then?" I ask.
"It's possible," he states, "but even when we have been to one of those places where we've needed to go through a second gate, there have sometimes been one or two recognisable constellations. And from those planets, there is no way at all that those constellations would look the same. They just wouldn't exist. No, I'm certain that Earth was literally the first world."
"This is all fascinating," Jack says, "but what does it mean in your timeline thingy?"
Gah! Sometimes I wish he'd be more open to my ideas, more able to grasp where I'm going with them. Okay, Jackson, there's no need to get worked up. Just do what you usually do and explain it further.
"I'm trying to find out when the Ancients started to build the stargate network. And it struck me that the planet of the goo might help, at least a little."
I look at Sam. "How big was the planet? Earth-sized?"
"A bit smaller, I think," she says. "Why?"
"You said that the whole planet had evolved life on it. We know that the last place to get the goo was on the gate side of the settlement. I figured that they'd sent it on its way in the opposite direction to the gate to give themselves the chance to escape if something had gone wrong."
"Right, and how does that help us?"
"If we can work out the surface area of the planet, perhaps minus the seas, and the surface area of the goo, we can work out how long it took for it to travel over the entire land area of the planet. That will give us a minimum time for the existence of the Ancients.
"Actually, given that they'd met the Furlings in space and that the Furlings had moved on and were setting up scientific outposts, we could probably add a couple of hundred, if not thousands of years to that minimum. Even allowing for the Furlings to be the first aliens they met - and there's a fairly good chance that they were among the first because of the Alliance - the Ancients had to have been travelling and setting up gates for some time before, otherwise they couldn't have given the Furlings a list of addresses.
"We need to do two things. One is get back to the outpost and take the measurements. Gimli could do that in next to no time."
"What's the other?" she asks.
"We need to go back to the Furling's ship with some sort of power source and try to find the rest of the logs. DJ and I have gone through everything that was uploaded from the ship and we'd only just gotten to the point at which the first gate was being described before it shut off. There's more there."
I look at Jack with as much of a pleading gaze as I can muster.
"We need to do this Jack."
"The Ancients aren't as they were. Who's to say that the Furlings still are if they were around at the same time? It'll at least give us a clue. And maybe, it'll tell us more about that first planet. "
I can see that he is not liking this but can't see any good reason to argue against it.
"Sam? Can you build some sort of interface?"
She shrugs. "I'll speak with Frankie. Maybe we can come up with something."
Now Sam's left us to go see Frankie, it gives us the chance to do some secret planning.
"Teal'c, assuming that the ladies can get some power source working, I think we have a great excuse to get them off the planet."
He looks at me and nods slowly. "How much time would you need?"
"It would be good if they were gone overnight. So that everything can be done without them knowing. If you go the day before, stay away and then come back on the day, we can surprise them."
"Then we should go tomorrow," he states rather obviously, especially as 'the' day is the day after tomorrow. Some serious sneaking around is going to have to be done if we can't do it this way.
"Take them to the ship first," Jack suggests. "Allow them to work on it until late evening if necessary. Then take them to the goo, set the scanners to go over the planet while you sleep?" he adds, getting a thoughtful nod from Teal'c.
For all his tactical abilities, his creative thinking when it comes to dealing with outsiders and so on, Teal'c does lack the ability to come up with this sort of devious plan. Non-Tauri humans prove much easier for him to deal with than the Tauri. Don't know if it's gotten something to do with our lack of Goa'uld influence making us 'free thinkers' or if it's something else. Hey ho, it's why he comes to us when he needs some sort of sneaky plan.
"I shall go to speak with Kar Shel," he announces, and leaves us to do the washing up.
And there was me thinking that he's not particularly sneaky...
"I don't see why we can't interface a naquada generator with the comms panel on the ship," Frankie muses. "I mean, we're more used to Furling technology now. It won't be easy, but Daniel's right, it would be worth the effort."
I agree with her. It'll be fun trying to get it to work. My biggest worry is that we'll have too much power from even the tiniest naquada generator and will blow up what we're trying to get working.
"Samantha, Frankie." We look up from our desk where we've been scribbling some drawings, trying to work out some sort of wiring diagram to connect the two technologies together.
"Hey Teal'c. What's up?"
"If you think that you can interface the technologies, then it has been decided that Kar Shel and I will take you tomorrow. If we go in Gimli, we could stop at the other planet and measure the surface area of the land on the way back home."
"Daniel would seem to be most anxious to get an answer to this puzzle. The sooner we deal with it, the better."
"Uh, okay then. We'd better go and look a little more closely at the Furling tech that we have here. Maybe it'll give us a head start when we get there."
He bows a little and then leaves us.
"You really think that's what's going on?" Frankie asks.
I frown. "What do you mean?"
"Oh, I don't know. Teal'c was looking a little shifty to me."
"Teal'c? Shifty? I don't think he knows how to be shifty."
She shrugs. "Must've been imagining it. Come on, let's get on with studying that tech, eh?"
Teal'c dragged me off to bed before midnight. He said he wants me fresh tomorrow. I'm curious as to why the Jacks and Daniels won't be coming with, but they just said that there wouldn't be anything that they could do, so they may as well stay at home. It's not like there won't be four of us on the 'mission', and two of those are androids, not to mention we'll have Gimli, so at least we'll be 'one up' on the guys when they went on their mission together. Let's just hope that nothing goes wrong like it did for them.
"See you later!" Daniel calls as the four of us get into the rings with the equipment we've decided on taking.
"Be careful!" Jack hollers just before we activate them.
I'm getting the feeling that they're going to be up to... oops! I really mustn't try thinking when I'm in the process of being transported or ringed. It's pretty weird. Anyway, I'm thinking I know what they're going to be up to. Now there are only the four guys - two couples, two otherwise empty houses... What else are they going to get up to?!
"Everything ready?" I ask Daniel.
"Yup. I put the call through to the General and he says that the plan is 'a go'." He sighs. "You know what's missing from this?"
He chuckles and pokes me in the arm.
"No, it's just that Sam and I were chatting once, after we left Earth, and she said that she misses things like Chinese take-outs. It would be nice if we could get something like that for her."
I think about this for a moment then point out the obvious. "Can't really get a delivery. Not even to the gate and through the wormhole, 'cause it'll get frozen. Would probably chill off by the time we'd brought it back via ship, too."
"Not necessarily," he argues. "We have one of those thermally insulated 'cool boxes', haven't we? Can't that be used for keeping heat in as well?"
"Might work." I have a little think about it then throw the spanner in the works. "Trouble is, that would mean leaving the 'pick up' till the last moment. Thought we wanted everything here waiting for them."
He nods sadly, frowns, then grins. "Uh, got an idea," he states, then picks up his radio and heads off to the gate. Think I'll let him get on with it.
"Hey John, is everything ready?"
He looks up at me from where he's wrapping a present about as well as I do - which is not very well at all. It's somehow gratifying to see that despite his better hand-eye co-ordination and so on, he's still useless at wrapping prezzies.
"Just about. We've cleared out our room and we'll sleep underground."
"Is everything else ready?"
"Sure is. Daniel's gotten something on his mind about Chinese food, but apart from that, it's all planned and ready to be done."
"Sweet." He grins. "They're gonna enjoy this, aren't they?"
I let out a long sigh and say, "I sure hope so. After all this effort, I really don't want anything going wrong with it."
He scowls at me. "Ah, ya just had to say that, didn't you?"
Oh fuck. Jonathan Connor O'Neill-Murphy strikes again.
I can only hope that all plans are going smoothly back on Annwn. Kar Shel and I have the most difficult task, however; that of keeping the women occupied for long enough so that their suspicions are not aroused. I am not sure that we will be able to succeed.
In the meantime, we have arrived at the planet containing the Furlings' ship and are now in the control centres. It has been decided that Frankie and Kar Shel will attempt to connect a power supply to the engines, by-passing the crystal power source and using a naquada generator to fuel both life-support and basic systems. It is thought by the ladies that the engine systems are the least likely to be overloaded with power from the generator. Samantha had wondered about connecting just the bridge systems to it, but was distinctly nervous about the levels of power, or their transmission. Or something.
I am afraid that although I understand the structures of Goa'uld ships and their technologies, when discussing such things as matching power supplies to alien devices, my mind does not fully comprehend the difficulties. Samantha explained that it was similar to the problem that she had in electrifying our home, speaking of voltage and hertz rates and the difficulties encountered in transforming one to another. I do hope that between her and Frankie, they can establish the levels quickly as I do not feel comfortable inside a ship without lights. It feels like a tomb.
To be safe, and to avoid the necessity to climb the flattened walkways, we used the transporters to send us directly to the rooms that we are in. We hoped that we were getting the co-ordinates right when activating the beam, basing our eventual destinations on the results of a complete scan of the Furlings' ship. Fortunately, it seems to have worked, as we are on the bridge and communication from the others told us that they, too, are where they wanted to be.
"Come on, come on," I hear Samantha mutter under her breath.
I am holding a flashlight for her as she attempts to connect her computer to the control panel on the bridge. A simpler solution suddenly strikes me, but fear that if I mention it, the ladies will be finished too quickly and all plans for their surprise will come to naught. I shall therefore comfort myself with the knowledge that even without the enhanced brainpower of either my human friends or our android copies, I alone have worked out such a solution. It is perhaps too simple for them now.
If I were asked to retrieve all the records, I should do as we did on the Furlings' planet and simply disconnect any technologies that looked like they would hold information and transport them to the ship where they could be worked on in greater comfort. I cannot suggest that, however, because then we could be finished in such a short time that even with scanning in great detail the Furlings' scientific experiment, we should be home in time for dinner.
Finally, the lights on the bridge seem to flicker and after some time, they power up. It could be my imagination, but they seem brighter than when we were last here. A few minutes later, a flash of light on the bridge heralds the arrival of Frankie and Kar Shel.
"Did you discover anything in the engine room that would assist us?" I ask.
"Afraid not," Frankie sighs. "That crystal technology gave me the impression that it was similar to that used by the Goa'uld, but it was possibly older. Probably older, in fact."
With that, Samantha sits back on her heels from her position underneath the control panel and looks up at us with a curious face.
"If it is older and similar to that of the Goa'uld..." she starts, then looks like she is thinking about how she is going to finish the sentence. It would seem that her 'sister' is 'on her wavelength' as O'Neill would say, and she finishes for her.
"...Then perhaps the Goa'uld discovered the Furlings' ship technology at some point and copied it?"
"But..." Samantha shakes her head. "This is the only ship that we're aware of. We know that they used the gate system. Why would, what seems to be a peaceable race, need ships? Their only attempt up to this point, as far as we can tell, ended in failure."
"Perhaps it is like the power source with the nanocytes," I point out. "Perhaps many years in their future - I mean later than when they arrived here - someone tried again?"
"And that someone might have stumbled across the Goa'uld?" Samantha suggests.
"Or the Goa'uld found them," Kar Shel states.
"This is more like Daniel's line of thinking," Samantha groans. "If we're going to get anywhere in trying to assist him, then we should explore this ship to a greater extent."
"What do you mean?" I ask her.
She pauses for a moment, then says, "See if the automatic doors are now working, and then check on the staircase. See if that's working too."
I move to stand near the door and it does indeed open. It takes just a moment before I can also confirm that everything else seems to be in order. There are lights in the entire inner core of the ship allowing me to fully comprehend its magnitude. My previous thought that the lights are now brighter would also seem to be confirmed because I distinctly remember some areas in shadow on our last visit. There are now no hidden areas.
"Wow," Frankie drawls as she stands next to me. "That's pretty amazing, isn't it?"
We had, of course, on our return from this ship, described it to MIB in as great a detail as possible. But now she sees it with her own eyes and is impressed.
"What is that?" Kar Shel asks, pointing out to what looks like a building on the 'ground' floor, underneath the walkway and on the far end of the ship, near to where the airlock is situated.
We stare at what we can see of it and see that it does not look like what we assume are the houses for the Furlings.
"Daniel would love to be here now," Samantha states. "Should we go back and get him? Er, them?" she amends, remembering in time that DJ, too, would like to be here.
I look at Kar Shel in the hope that he will come up with a reasonable excuse for not bringing them here.
"There is no need," I eventually say when it looks like my android brother is going to let me down. "He mentioned to me before we left that he and DJ were hoping to get the translation of the healing device finished and double-checked today. We should not disturb such an endeavour. We can always bring them back. The naquada generator will not run out quickly, will it?"
Samantha looks at me suspiciously, then she shrugs. "No, it'll keep functioning for a long time. You're right, they don't like being disturbed when they're translating, do they?"
Frankie agrees, but not before Kar Shel's enthusiastic agreement causes more suspicion in the faces of the women.
"Perhaps we can explore while you continue in your efforts to download all information?" I try, in the hope that we can be spared further questioning.
Reminded of her task, Samantha agrees. Frankie follows her onto the bridge.
"That was close," Kar Shel murmurs to me as we descend to the ground floor.
"Too close," I agree.
This list of gods is making me think. Perhaps I'm over-thinking, but there are so many connections, ones that I either hadn't seen before or just hadn't put together, that it's making me wonder about the whole 'aliens on Earth' thing again.
For example, many of the 'gods' of the native American peoples - on both continents - along with others from apparently unconnected races, such as the Celts and some African peoples, had the ability to change form. That has to have something to do with the writings that Apollo told me about. Why, otherwise, would such similar stories be told?
The 'changeling' turns up in so many places and so many different ways, such as the Hindu gods being able to take the character of others - their avatars - or those like Morrigan, who in her form of Badb could change into anything, including the crow, the harbinger of death. But it's the underlying thread of change that's the key here, I think.
And then there are the creation stories, flood stories, tales of wars between different 'families' of gods - such as in the Nordic tales - and even more esoteric fables appear in similar form all over the world.
The names are different, the locations may be different, but there are endless stories with such similarities that I cannot help but wonder if some grain of truth is in all of them, or at least connects them. Races which would appear to have had no connection with each other have distinctly similar 'histories', to the point where in some cases, you can change the names but the situations are virtually identical.
I know that I've always believed in more advanced civilisations on Earth, that there were connections, that perhaps there was even contact between races that were not supposed to have known each other, but the more I go through this - the more stories I read about from races that I didn't really understand or study in the past - the more sure I am than ever before of my old convictions.
And I'm not totally convinced that it's all down to the Goa'uld, either. It could be something to do with the Ancients and their other alien friends. It could still simply be that so-called 'primitive' humans weren't so primitive after all. I've never given credence to that whole primitive thing anyway. Humans have always been smart, in one way or another. At least as a species: couldn't say the same for some individuals I've met.
The human race had to have been smart or else it would never have evolved into what it is. The most ancient of our ancestors knew what they needed to know, and obviously found out stuff as they went along. They worked things out. They thought. Their imaginations must have been vivid or else there wouldn't be all these creation stories with all the connections.
Even though we know about the creation of the Earth scientifically, and as a result some people look down on the old traditions and sneer, closer examination of what these people believed - and still believe in some cases - isn't always so far from the truth. It just takes a bit of imagination to put the stories into the right context.
Any number of religions believe that creation started with chaos in the universe, eventually bound together in some sort of cosmic order. If that doesn't describe something along the lines of the aftermath of the Big Bang followed by the laying down of the physical laws when the whole chaos had calmed, then I have no idea what does.
Sure, I don't believe that a single individual god/God/creator/call it what you will, had anything to do with it. But, it's easy to see how people with less scientific knowledge than us would come up with such a story. Had to have been an omnipotent entity or else it wouldn't make any sense to them.
Note, I don't say they were stupid or primitive, they just didn't know what we know.
It's something that's still seen today. Unexplained sightings in the sky are put down to alien spaceships. Even knowing that alien spaceships exist, I still know that probably 99.9999% of the so-called UFOs have a simpler explanation. We just haven't found it yet. Today's people might not automatically think it's the gods, but they're just as quick to shout 'alien'.
Is that any different? I don't think so.
And what of the snakes? Snakes, usually called serpents but named species too, appear in most traditions. I know we call the Goa'uld 'snakes' as an insult, and in fact they look more like legless lizards when you see them for real - a sight I particularly hate - but, being legless, they do resemble snakes.
A people, uninformed about the Goa'uld, who saw one in its true form, perhaps being taken out of a Jaffa or even in an incubator for the youngest larvae (when they're most like snakes to look at) might well call it a snake.
And yet snakes are often good symbols. Symbols of eternity, for example. There is such a thing as 'ophiolatry' - which is effectively 'snake worship'.
Not to mention there are any number of other connections - flying ships or chariots... And why is the dragon on most, if not all continents? Why is it good in some places and bad in others?
I can state the standard theories about these things but I get the feeling that I've just got to forget all that and start again. Reboot my mind so that I can take in and assimilate the data as if I've never seen it before. Then, and only then, will the connections start to make sense. I think.
"Daniel? Aren't you supposed to be sorting out the party stuff?"
I look up at Jack from where I'm working - yes, I'm back in our rooms and writing about gods again - and reply.
"All done, Jack."
"Where is it?" he asks, looking around and seeing nothing in our room except for the wrapped presents sitting on table.
"Well," I drawl, wishing I still had glasses so I could look over the top, "it's not in here."
He rolls his eyes with frustration and I have to fight down a laugh. For a brief moment he looked just as he did when I was winding him up back at the SGC.
"It's all down in the tunnel, Jack. Just in case they come home early, we thought it better to put it all down there. There's plenty of room in the 'kitchen' there, and..." I shrug before continuing, "it's kind of neutral territory, too."
"Yeah. Think about it. It's a party for Sam and for Frankie. Whose house should we have it in? If in one, why not in the other? DJ and I figured that to begin with, we'd have it in the tunnel. Later on, if we wish to split up into our own groups, then we can, just by 'going home', so to speak."
"But DJ and John are moving down to the tunnels for the night," he puts in.
"So they remain down there while we come up and eat," I try. "We just thought it would be a good idea."
He shrugs now, then sits next to me. "So, you're still at this?"
"Told you, it's gonna take a hell of a long time. DJ's finishing the translation about now, I'll go over it later, but in the meantime, with everything for the party that can be done having been done, I figured I'd get back up here and on with this."
"So what were you muttering about when I came in?"
"Yeah. You were talking to yourself about something. Couldn't make it out, though."
"Oh that. Just thinking out loud, so to speak. There are connections here, Jack. Bigger connections that I ever saw before."
"What sort of connections?"
My stomach rumbles, interrupting our conversation. That seems to jolt him.
"That reminds me. I came in here to tell you lunch was ready. Tell me what you mean over lunch."
"Sure. Actually, we'll eat then call the others up. I want to run my thoughts past DJ and see if he sees what I do. I might just be reading too much into it all."
Finally! It's connected. Instead of transmitting the information this time, we're downloading it onto the computer. Still have no idea what we're downloading and there's every possibility that we're duplicating what we got before. But hopefully, this time, we'll get everything. Including the address that the Furlings first went to. Let's just hope, eh?
In the meantime, I've eaten something and while Frankie watches over the goings-on on the bridge, I'm going to meet up with the guys. Teal'c's pretty excited about something or other. Sounded like Daniel for a moment when he called me. I guess we've all been together for too long.
He's made his way down to the structure at the far end of the ship. While they were making their way there, he and Kar Shel stopped inside some of the buildings along the way and confirmed that they looked like living quarters. Like small houses, actually. There were rooms that looked like bedrooms, bathrooms and even kitchens. Teal'c showed me images in my mind as he wandered through one of them and I could see what he was saying about them. Although the construction of the houses and the furniture inside were distinctly alien, they were also almost familiar. I doubt whether we're too far off in our guesses about the uses of each room.
Over the years, visiting various aliens of both human and non-human origin, we've found that all humanoid creatures seem to end up with something similar. Sleeping, living and eating quarters, with latrine facilities either in the houses or nearby, depending on the level of technology of the peoples involved. Sometimes it's all in one hut, other times it's more like a house that we'd recognise from our own culture. It's rarely anything different. Even the Nox lived in huts similar to those found in some parts of Earth.
He isn't letting me see what he's seeing now, though, so I'm more than curious as to what it is. Whatever it is, he can't wait for me to get there, so I'm jogging along in the hope of getting there sooner.
"Oh wow," I say as I enter the building. "Laboratory?" I suggest.
"It would appear so, Samantha. There are similarities in what we saw on the Furlings' planet."
I look around and stare at the technology. To the side of the room we're in is a huge glass 'tube', for want of a better word, although I'm not sure it's an accurate description, which goes from floor to ceiling. Inside which is a liquid of some sort. A very familiar looking liquid.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" I say.
"If you are thinking that that resembles the evolutionary liquid on the planet, then yes," he replies. Sometimes he doesn't really get 'rhetorical'. I say that 'cause it looks very similar to it. Very similar indeed.
"If they'd been doing this since before they landed here," I say, "then they must have been planning something. I mean, I'm not sure that they were totally convinced that whatever they had discovered or invented worked..."
I walk up to the tube in the hope that getting closer will help me think straighter.
"After all, we know from those diaries that the Daniels translated that they were distinctly experimenting. But..."
I've run out of words, unsure as to what this means.
"Perhaps the initial discovery or invention had been made on this ship during the long flight from wherever they had come from," Kar Shel starts. "Then they wished to see what would happen when it was activated as soon as they had the opportunity."
"Perhaps. But why would they invent evolutionary slime while still looking for a new world on which to settle?"
Teal'c gets his 'thinking' face and then takes his turn to say, "Perhaps." At least he follows it up quickly with, "They were not initially attempting to invent a way to evolve. It is my suggestion that they were in actuality attempting to either create something which could make a planet into a suitable habitat, such as happened with the Gadmeer..."
"Or else they were preparing to change themselves to fit an existing habitat. Did not Daniel state that they were experts in genetic engineering, having turned themselves into such so that should they find, for example, a planet with higher gravity than they were used to, they could change themselves to live easily on it?"
"Of course! This is all starting to make sense." I think for a moment then say, "But they didn't need it. They must have been given co-ordinates for suitable planets by the Ancients. The genetic engineering of themselves no longer became a priority."
"So only scientific curiosity took them to the other planet to see if the original experiment would have worked, or how it would have worked?" he asks.
"I think so."
"What does this mean for us?" Kar Shel asks.
"I have no idea."
"So, what do you think?" Daniel asks DJ having explained his thoughts to him.
DJ shrugs. "You've got a good point, but short of finding all of the various aliens and asking them, there's no way we can prove it."
That gets a sigh all round. It would be nice to get some sort of straight answers on the subject.
"Guess we'll be able to make more of an educated stab at the whole situation once we get a date from the Furlings' planet," I try in an effort to cheer them up a bit.
That only gets 'it might do' nods back, but at least it's a little more positive.
"Anyway, time to put our plan into action," John adds. "You all ready to come?"
Daniel shakes his head.
"You two go. We'll use the peace to finish checking the translation of the device plans."
"Peace?" John snorts. "We don't leave you in peace?"
Both Daniels look at us, raise their right eyebrows, look at each other, then back at us. Saying nothing, they stand up, DJ pats John on the shoulder, Daniel pats me on mine, and then they walk out to the rings. Sometimes I wonder if they have a telepathic link...
"This whole evolution thing is starting to seriously bother Daniel, isn't it?" John asks as we fly in the al'kesh towards Earth.
"Not sure 'bother' is the right word, but it's definitely getting him thinking."
"You think there's something in it?"
"Who knows? He's right that we know for a fact that many aliens were at least in contact with Earth and the various races over a considerable period of time. Some of those were good, some bad..."
"Some indifferent?" he puts in.
"Hard to say. Makes me wonder if for some aliens, like the snakes, we were nothing more than a 'resource'; ya know, slaves and hosts and all."
"But the others?"
"Arawn called the Celts his people, the druids were his friends. Sounds like they lived closely together in a good relationship. And if you remember our contact with the Salish - they were in a close friendship with their spirits."
"What about the 'neutrals'," he asks as we enter Sol's system.
"I'm thinking maybe the Ancients, seeing as they don't seem to be around anymore, or at least get involved in anything big."
"I thought they were the ascended ones," he says thoughtfully.
"Maybe. Well, we know that they did ascend, Thoth confirmed that, but I can't believe that what we've come across is all there is."
"You mean there are others, like Oma and what's-his-name that Carter got involved with?"
"Orlin. Yeah. He said there were others."
"Daniel thinks they just ascended. That's what Thor meant when he said they'd left the galaxy."
"Could be. But what if they've done something else too?"
I shrug. "Haven't a clue. These damned aliens never do what you think they're going to do. And half the time they speak so metaphorically it's hard to know if they really mean anything at all."
He looks at me and frowns as we pull into a high orbit of Earth, having transmitted our 'friends' code to the early warning system as soon as we got here and now sending a prearranged code to the SGC to let them know who's here.
"What are you saying?"
"Who in hell knows?" I grumble. "I'm just thinking that Daniel's whole 'aliens had more to do with us than we thought' thing might be right."
He groans. "Yeah. He's usually right about these things, isn't he?"
Despite the fact that we've picked up our 'surprise' for the Sams - in the form of Jan and Cassie - the ship is pretty quiet as we return home. Sure, it won't take us long to get there, but I still think it's quiet. Guess Cassie's picked up on that too, 'cause she's just asked me what's wrong.
"Nothing's wrong, Cass. It's just that Daniel's gotten us thinking about stuff and these days, it's hard to switch off the whole thinking thing," I reply, pointing to my head so she understands it's to do with the nanocyte crap.
"Oh, the usual. Myths, rumours, fairy tales."
She giggles at that. "Don't tell Daniel that!" she warns. "You know how it annoys him."
"Sure I do. Why do you think I do it?"
She giggles again. "Man, I wonder how you guys ever stick together."
She's not the only one, sometimes.
It is approaching the time for our evening meal. Frankie states that nearly all of the information that she could find on the bridge has been downloaded, and since entering the laboratory, Samantha has returned to our ship, picked up some more equipment, and has been downloading all of the data that she could find in the lab computer.
Kar Shel and I have been exploring more of the ship and about an hour ago, we found something that would please Daniel and DJ very much. It appears to be a library, with real books. At least they appear to be books. The 'paper' is not paper in the sense that we would know it from Earth, neither is it papyrus or parchment as far as I can tell. However, it does contain writings, so we are taking some of them with us. We can always return and collect more if they prove valuable in any way.
Needless to say, Kar Shel filmed the entire interior of the room before we removed a single book, because we know that they like to see places like this in their complete state to give them a sense of context, if one is needed.
I wondered why books would have been left and after discussions with the ladies and Kar Shel, have come to the conclusion that either the people had to leave in a hurry because of what had happened on landing, so equipment needed for survival would take priority, followed by personal possessions; or else these books contain nothing of value whatsoever, but are purely there for entertainment purposes.
If all of the books had been read on numerous occasions, they were probably glad to leave them behind. A thought we shall not mention to the book-loving Daniels.
In the meantime, I must discover something. I return to the laboratory and find Samantha hunched over her computer.
She startles and then tells me off for creeping up on her. I did not creep, but she was so consumed by her interest in the technology that I fear a battalion of Jaffa could have entered and she would have missed them. Again, this is a thought that I keep to myself. I quite enjoy life.
"How long will it be before you are ready to leave here?" I ask instead, hoping to calm her.
"Oh, about another hour I guess."
"It is time for you to eat."
She frowns, then states, "I'll leave it till we're done. It's either that or I'll have to come back down here. Don't know about you but after last time, I'd rather we just did everything and then got the hell out of here."
"Do you not trust the naquada generator to continue powering the ship?"
"Sure I do. I just don't trust the ship to keep accepting the power."
I see her logic. The systems on this ship are many hundreds, probably many thousands of years old. It is a miracle that they work at all.
"Very well. In one hour we shall leave for Gimli. We shall eat, then proceed to the Furlings' other planet and do the scan."
She yawns, giving me the excuse I needed to keep her away from Annwn until tomorrow.
"We should scan the planet in great detail," I state. "The more information we have, the better educated will be our guesses."
"But I want to get some sleep," she yawns again.
"Then we shall scan the planet whilst we sleep. There is no hurry for our return to Annwn, is there?"
Her face drops a little, as if she thinks that I have forgotten her birthday. In the end she sighs and replies.
"No, no rush."
Cassie's remarkably calm considering she's just set foot on another planet. I guess it's nothing special if you've already had to move from your home planet to another, but still... given the circumstances of her move, I'd have thought that this would have affected her more. But no, I can feel her emotions. They're calm, collected, a little excited about the party and so on, but there is no fear. That's good.
She's been looking around the houses, the garden - what she can see of it under the snow, that is - and is now sitting in front of the fire drinking hot chocolate to warm up again. We're all surrounding her, and those of us that can drink are drinking. DJ looks a little miffed that he can't drink the chocolate, but I guess it makes up for the fact that he's still better than me in so many ways.
"Have you heard the latest gossip about Kinsey?" Janet suddenly says.
"No, what is it?"
She smiles briefly as if enjoying the thought of it but then I can feel as well as see a look of... sympathy. Yeah, it's definitely sympathy for another human being. Wonder why?
"He's supposedly been admitted to a mental health facility. At least that's the gossip. Some of it."
"There's more?" Jack asks.
"Yeah. And I'm inclined to believe it too," she says quietly. "The talk is that he's been taken to a military-controlled facility."
She looks at me and shakes her head as if she can't really believe what she's about to say, but she actually does believe it. Which is kind of weird. Eventually she says, "He's apparently gone mad." Before Jack can say the obvious, she adds, "He started appearing lost, as if he hadn't got a clue where or even when he was, and kept saying that the 'evil had gone from him'. Now, I know he puts on a front about being a right-wing Christian-type, but what if..." She stumbles so I help her out.
"He'd been possessed by a Goa'uld?"
"Surely Teal'c would have noticed?" Jack puts in. "During that first meeting. He'd have felt it, wouldn't he?"
I wonder... "What if he was taken over later on? I can't remember Teal'c having a close encounter with him in, say, the last three years, probably more. Don't think Sam has either."
"He's probably just saying it to gain sympathy. Doing the 'born-again' thing that those TV preachers do when they've been caught with their pants down, so to speak," John puts in. "Ya know, he says he was bad, now he's good again and he'll ask everyone to forgive him so he can put his foot back in the White House door."
"It's a possibility, I suppose," Janet replies, "but so far, there's no hint of it. None of this has been made public. Only that he'd 'gone into a hospital' has made it onto TV. I've only heard what I heard because a friend of mine works at the facility and she hates him as much as we do. Mainly for political reasons on her part, I don't think she knows about the SGC, but there was a distinct tinge of delight in her voice when she said he'd been admitted."
"So much for confidentiality," Jack mutters, getting a frown from Janet.
"Nuh huh," she says. "All she told me was that he'd been admitted. Given that it's a military place, I was able to ask a few questions of people who could find stuff out on the quiet. So that I could let the General know," she adds in mitigation. "After all, it doesn't hurt us to keep up with the gossip, if you see what I mean."
"Especially now the NID's being dismantled but is still in operation, as we know," I finish for her.
"So when would the snake have taken him over?" DJ asks.
"At any time after the initial conflict between him and the SGC," I say. "Don't forget, there have been a few encounters with Goa'uld on Earth since then, one of which he was involved in. Or at least the NID was..."
We all shudder, Jack and John automatically put their hands on their shoulders as they remember being shot in the back by that slime-ball.
"I wonder which one it is?" DJ murmurs.
Jack frowns, then he says, "Didn't you say that you suspected one of the Roman leaders to have been taken over by a snake?"
Of course! I'd forgotten that.
"Yes. Uh, I guessed, after what Arawn said, that Julius Caesar was the first one."
At confused looks from Jan and Cassie I give them a quick rundown on our meeting with the Tuatha.
"It would make sense," I continue. "Up until Caesar, the Romans didn't have an empire as such. They were ruled by Consuls; more than one so that one person would not have absolute power. In fact the whole concept of absolute rule by a single person was abhorrent to the Roman people.
"With the civil war - with Caesar turning against those he'd called friend, like Pompey, and not to mention the nature of his leadership being far more cruel, at least on the battlefield, it just seemed like a snaky thing to me. What if, after he'd started to become important, the snake, whoever it is, decided that he would be a good host?"
"Didn't he get killed?" Cassie asks.
"Yes, he did. But it's my theory that the snake would have left him either just before it happened - because it would have been as aware as Caesar of the plot against him and there is evidence that he knew that something was up - or, of course, he could have just 'played dead' and then left him. Even being stabbed as many times as Caesar was wouldn't have killed a snake outright. There would have to be a very specific angle of attack, so to speak, for that to happen."
"Right in the base of the skull," Jack mutters.
"Exactly! And let's be honest, that's not a normal 'target' if you're attacking someone with a knife. It's normally the stomach, heart... the organs of the human that will, if damaged, stand a greater chance of killing them quickly so that they can't fight back."
"Where would it have gone?" Janet asks.
I shrug. "Could have entered pretty much anyone. If the body was only watched over by one person at a particular moment, then it could have happened without anyone noticing."
There is silence for a moment before she asks something else. "So, you think there was a snake hanging around on Earth for what, over 2,000 years?"
"More than that, really. It might have been stranded after the rebellion. Arawn and his people were in contact with the Celts for a long time after the rebellion, which suggests that there were still a lot of comings and goings by various aliens. None of whom would have been inclined to give a Goa'uld a 'lift' in their ships.
"The Tuatha were pretty much stuck on Earth until the Asgard took some of them away; others stayed until the Romans took over the Celtic world - at least the parts where the Tuatha remained." I get a thought as I say that. "Though the Romans never went to Ireland and Arawn stated that they had some still over there. Only the ones who fought alongside the Britons were killed by the Romans."
"He said that some of the Irish ones, like Diancecht, were killed by the Goa'uld, especially the one that took over Morrigan," DJ reminds me.
"So there must have been more Goa'uld and a way off the planet, or else Morrigan wouldn't have been out here when we reopened the gate."
"They could have hijacked another alien ship," John suggests.
"Possibly; or they might have had more hanging around on Earth."
"So why didn't the one who was in Caesar go with them?"
I stop to think about that for a moment, then realise the possibilities. Neither of which thrill me.
"Either the snake wanted to stay on Earth, perhaps in the hope that one day it would take over the planet in place of Ra..."
"How?" Cass interrupts.
"At the time, the Romans were the strongest force on the planet - at least in that part of the planet. Maybe it hoped to expand its territory more and more until it was in effect, in charge of the whole place. Don't forget, Ra was seen to own Earth, and yet he only really bothered himself with the peoples of Egypt and the surrounding areas, like Nubia and so on."
I see nods coming back at me and then Jack asks me the question I don't want to answer.
"So, what's the 'or'?"
"The 'or'?" I throw back at him.
"Yeah. You had an 'either', so there's an 'or'."
Damn him for working on his grammar...
I surrender. Which is something I do far too easily for him. "Remember Petrocus?" I ask quietly.
"Never forget him," Jack mutters.
"Remember what Teal'c said about him?"
This time John answers as the truth dawns on him.
"He was banished because he was too violent even for Apophis' tastes."
"Exactly," I say with a sigh. I look at DJ and see he's on my wavelength again.
"So nobody with a ship wanted to take this snake because it was too violent."
"It's at least a possibility." And one that fills me with horror.
"Samantha, what are you doing? I thought you wished to retire."
I look up at Teal'c and shake my head.
"Not just yet, honey. I just want to do a preliminary calculation to estimate the surface area of the land."
We finished up at the ship and have been in orbit of the planet for only a short while, but there's something about it that's niggling at the back of my mind.
"The ship can make exact calculations," he reminds me.
"Oh, I know, and when it's done everything I'll use its data. I just want something to go on. Just give me a moment, will you?"
I look again at the initial readouts of the data and discover that the radius is, as near as makes no difference, 3,250 miles. Turn that into yards and we have 3,250 times 1,760 which equals 5,720,000. The surface area of a sphere is 4×pi×r squared. This means that the surface area in yards squared is about 411,151,540,308,849, give or take a few decimal points. Of course, this is just estimated distances as I'm not using the exact numbers but hell, I won't be far wrong, I'm sure.
The goo moved in approximately twenty yard bursts. A scan of the goo tells me that its surface area is approximately 12,000 yards square. So with twelve scheduled movements in an Earth day, it will cover... no, hang on, it's only shifting twenty yards in one direction, leaving some of the goo covering some land which was already under it. GAH! This isn't going to be easy to even guesstimate because of all the variables.
Okay, okay, calm down. If it moves 'lengthwise' for twenty yards, taking - rather obviously - all of the goo in that area of it over new ground, and using the twenty yards as my 'radius' (it doesn't actually have a radius because it's not circular, but I'm just looking for something to work with here and I'm using the twenty because it's leaving approximately the same amount behind), that would mean that it would cover just over 5,000 yards of new ground each time it moved. No, 5,000 in total if 20 is the radius - so it's only 2,500. But the surface area is just over 12,000 so that radius would be about 31. Ish.
Oh sod it, the new ground is the important bit here, I think. I'll say that 5,000 square yards is approximately the size covering the new ground. Divide the surface area by 5,000 and we get... 82,230,308,062 - rounded up. Although if I take out the sea area, which is at a guess about a third of the planet's surface, there would be about 54,820,205,375 movements. Wouldn't there? Okay, maybe Teal'c's right. I'm tired and starting to see numbers in front of my eyes, which is weird as I'm not using a calculator. One more bit of working out and I'm there, though, and then I'll be able to sleep. I hope.
I'll use Earth days for timing because it's what will make sense to us. Twelve movements a day is equal to 4380 movements a year (let's not bother with leap days here...). 54,820,205,375 divided by 4380 is... whoa!
12516028.62. That means it's taken about 12,516,029 years. Twelve and a half million years. That can't be right. Can it?
And what does it mean? That ship couldn't have been that old.
"Put it away!"
Daniel looks up at me curiously. "Huh?"
"Put it away! You're not working on your computer now. It's bedtime."
He looks at his watch, frowns, then sighs, shrugs and does all the 'Daniel-things' that tell me he's not happy but will comply.
As I get undressed, I watch him as he mechanically prepares for bed. I can't believe that as soon as he said goodnight to everyone, he came in here and booted up that damned thing. What's so urgent about a project anyway? I wait until we're ready for bed before I ask him.
"So? Why were you working on the computer now?" I push.
"Ah, well, I guess I'm just feeling the need to get on with it, you know?"
"Maybe. But you said it could take months, even years to finish. There's no need to panic about it, is there?"
He turns onto his side to face me and rests his head on his hand, propping it up on his elbow.
"I'm not so sure," he states.
He tries to shrug it off, but his position makes it difficult.
"Okay, well, it's what Janet said. What if Kinsey had been snaked?"
"Wouldn't surprise me. After all, he seemed to get more and more..." I try to think of the word to describe it. Does 'megalomaniacal' exist? Not sure. I settle on, "Nuts."
"Exactly! My biggest worry is not knowing where the damned snake has gone or which one it is."
"Why would that make a difference?"
He frowns in thought for a moment, then says, "We've met many snakes over the years. Sure, they're all power-mad, but they do have different characters. Some are just megalomaniacs..." Even his mind is going the same way as mine - sheesh. "Some are Machiavellian. Some are outright cruel. Then there are the quieter, but smarter ones like Yu." He glares at me to stop me from doing the obvious and pointing at myself. "The ones that scare me are the ones like Hades."
"When you see them face-to-face, they seem to be like Yu. Pretty reasonable in some ways. Less inclined to strike first, ask questions later, if you know what I mean. But - and this is the bit that scares me - they're so sure of themselves, so full of belief that they really are gods, that they will do absolutely anything it takes to prove it."
"Don't they all do that?"
He shakes his head. "No. Yu knows what he is. He's a parasitic life-form who took the character of an historical Chinese figure. Quite possibly while that figure was alive. The Chinese were really into the whole 'immortal' thing, especially back then, but some still believe it now.
"The Taoists, for example, believe that there were a group of eight mortals who became immortal. The Ba Xian collective. Although those people were made immortal because they'd lived extremely good lives, so I don't believe there's any connection with the Goa'uld. It's just that the mindset of the time would have easily accepted an immortal king.
"I wouldn't mind betting that Yu, in a previous host, actually convinced his present host that to accept him would be to make him immortal. That sort of thing would have been irresistible to some."
"I can see that. What of the others? The scary ones?"
"I think they actually forget that they're parasites. Over the millennia, they've been worshipped as gods. The whole 'kneel before your god' shtick that we get sick of hearing must, in some cases, go straight to their heads. Hades truly believed he was a god, I'm sure."
"And if the snake that took Kinsey over was one of those...?"
"Then we're in trouble if it does manage to get into power. It's gotten close. Very close. God only knows what would happen to the planet if it managed to get into, say, the President? Or the Secretary General of the United Nations?"
"That doesn't have as much teeth as it would like," I remind him.
"Yet," he counters. "It would be like the whole 'end day' scenario that so many apocalypse believers are actually looking forward to."
He shudders. "Some fundamentalists actually believe that the end of the world really is nigh. That there will come a man who on the surface will seem absolutely wonderful and will get elected into high office. It's only when after some political shenanigans have got him absolute power - with the backing of the people on Earth because he'll bring peace and harmony, etc. - that he'll show his true colours as the Antichrist."
"You don't believe that, do you?"
"Course not! But given where that snake's been - inside the mind of a religious fundamentalist, and that's what Kinsey is - it will undoubtedly know of this belief and will try to play on it. What really scares me is that some of the most extreme groups are actually trying to hasten the end."
"WHAT? Are they insane?!"
"Yes. Quite probably. Only to them, they're absolutely doing the right thing. The 'foot soldiers', so to speak, are doing this out of a complete and in a strange way, honest belief that what they're doing is for the best. They want the end of the world because they'll be taken up in the 'Rapture'."
"Isn't that that weird thing where people will start disappearing?" I ask, remembering some documentary or other I was forced to watch with him years ago.
"Yeah. They believe that if the Islamic Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is destroyed, a third Temple can be built by the Jews. When that's built it's supposed to be the time of the 'end'." He looks at me sadly. "They're actually funding an extremist Jewish group who've even got the plans and models of the new Temple ready."
I really don't know what to say to that.
"The thing is, I'm not sure about the 'beliefs' of the various leaders of these groups. Some possibly believe it all. Others, however..."
"Wasn't that rapture thing supposed to have been proved to be hokum?" I ask. "I mean biblically. There's nothing in the Bible which promises it, is there?"
"A lot of the apocalyptic stuff that's about now is based on interpretations of interpretations of translations..." His voice trails off. "The rapture thing was invented by some guy in the 18th or 19th Century if I remember correctly. It's all come from Revelations; which was probably a coded set of writings based on the Roman occupation anyway.
"John of Patmos was trying to encourage the new Christians that the Romans would, eventually, be defeated. The whole 666 thing is supposed to be a numeric version of the Hebrew spelling of Nero, who was the Christians' worst nightmare at the time. He burned down Rome and used it as an excuse to blame them and..."
Again his voice trails off, almost as if he remembers the horrors of that time. Maybe Apollo knew something about it? I'm not sure I want to ask. Instead, he shrugs. "Nero's one of my candidates for a host for the snake we're worried about."
I give it some thought and ask, "Hitler?"
He pauses and then says, "Possibly, but I'd say it's as likely to be one of his henchmen. Hitler had extreme political views which most humans would find abhorrent, unfortunately not nearly enough people think it's that bad," he sighs before continuing, "but he was one of those very persuasive people that can get otherwise normal people to do abnormal things. Then they get caught up in the mass hysteria.
"It's been shown in psychological studies since then that it's very easy to get perfectly sane, respectable people to do harm to others simply by persuasion." At my look at him, he gets that I understand that. I've seen plenty of shit happening in my life. "I think Himmler would have been a better candidate."
"Plenty of power and influence and he was a total fantasist. The others in the greatest positions of power back then were political extremists - he was completely unhinged. Had no grounding in reality to the point where he was actually an embarrassment to the others in charge. He was the one behind the whole 'archaeology to find the mythical ancestry' thing."
"Thought that was an Indiana Jones story," I reply.
He chuckles. "You'd be surprised how damned close those stories were to reality. Sure, they're fictional, but they are stories that have a grounding in some sort of truth."
He's given me an 'in' to get his mind off the gods.
"Well, seeing as I've gotten my very own Indiana Jones, I wonder what I'm going to do with him?"
His eyes twinkle, then he grins.
"Absolutely anything you like," he purrs, then lays on his back.
Anything? Whoo boy. I'm thinking it's my birthday.
Despite my fears that Samantha would not wish to stay away from Annwn on her birthday, it would seem that I am going to have the opposite problem. She and Frankie are poring over streams of data which were collected by Gimli overnight. They are speaking of ground cover, time-spans and many other mathematical things of which I have no knowledge. It would seem that Kar Shel is keen to leave, too, but we cannot persuade the ladies to go.
"Samantha, Frankie, you can study the information as much as you like on Annwn," I try again. "Why do you wish to stay?"
They look at me and both shrug in a most Daniel-like way.
"It's not the same as seeing it with your own eyes. The timescales we're looking at here are so vast, it's making me wonder if it's even possible. We're missing something."
I look at the information that is in front of them and something strikes me.
"How much land is taken up by mountain ranges of more than..." I try to remember how high we were when the liquid ascended the hill we were on and estimate that it could not have risen more than about fifty yards. "Fifty yards high," I finish, explaining how I got the figure as soon as I can. They look again at the data and suddenly Samantha smiles.
"Land above that altitude covers approximately..." Her voice trails off, I see her fingers move rapidly as they scribble down numbers and an equation soon appears.
"Okay. At a guess, having measured the actual area of the liquid that's covering new ground as it still moves - and I'm guessing that now it's going over old 'new' ground if you get my meaning - and assuming that neither the sea nor land above 50 yards in height were ever touched by the goo, then the minimum time it could have taken for it to have covered the entire surface of the planet - rounded up to the nearest year - is 8,805,026."
"And the maximum?" Kar Shel asks. "In case it did cover every inch of the planet?"
Frankie looks at him and sighs. "Pretty much what Sam guesstimated last night. In fact a little more. Nearer 12.75 million years."
"The smaller number is probably the most accurate, is it not?" I ask in hope of actually moving from this place.
"I'm not so sure. The seas are teaming with life. Of course, it might only have taken a little bit of the goo to have entered the sea to kick-start life there... Oh, but I don't know, it seems like there's too much for only a small proportion to have entered it. Evolution and expansion takes way longer than what is in reality only a blink of an eye."
"Unless the power of the machine extended into the depths of the sea?" Kar Shel states.
She shrugs. "It's possible. Anyway, whatever the result, there's only about a four million year span between the maximum and minimum times. I guess we could call it about eleven million and call it quits?"
"We could indeed. Now, I suggest that we leave here and return home. The others were expecting us back by now."
With reluctance, and with last - longing - looks back at the planet, they agree.
"Hey, it's time to get up."
One of these days I'm going to wake up first and then come in with the annoyingly cheerful persona. And on that day, pigs will fly no doubt.
"Do I have to?"
"The gals will be home soon."
"Oh, of course."
The trouble is, I want to get my own back. Last night he had his wicked way with me. Did a bit of his own 'exploration' as it were. The other trouble is, I obviously don't have a great deal of time. So, let's work on this one.
I notice he's dressed, but hey, I can improvise. He grins, looks back at the door and makes sure it's shut, then lies down next to me. I'd like to hang around and spend ages on my own exploration, but I can't. So instead I push him to the mattress, kiss him so soundly that he has no idea what else I'm doing, and before he knows it, his pants are round his ankles and being kicked off by my feet.
"Turn over," I tell him.
He rolls his eyes but he's grinning and does as he's told. I think I can go for a quick recce if I can't do a complete expedition. I kiss down his spine, making him squirm as I go. Then I arrive at my favourite destination and continue to kiss, lick and - occasionally - bite. Apart from the odd gasp, there are no complaints coming my way.
I'd better get a move on, though, 'cause I don't want to be interrupted. Although coitus interruptus might have a (dodgy) place in contraception, that's hardly something we need to be bothered about and it's just damned annoying when it forcibly happens to us. I therefore pick up the oil, grease him up, grease me up and slide on in there.
The low, rumbling, sexy moan I get back from him tells me that I'm doing this just right. I should be after all this time, though, shouldn't I? It's not like we haven't had lots of practice.
I remember the first time I did this to him. Back on Earth after our 'getting together' on that hot and steamy planet. I got him hot and steamy that night. In the shower. I took my time washing him, using the opportunity as I washed him down to find out which bits made him gasp with pleasure - and discovering a few for him that he didn't even know worked. Then I towelled him down, his cock hard and dripping with anticipation, took him to the bedroom and laid him on the bed.
I took my time getting us ready. It had been a while for him so I made sure I wasn't hurting him. By the time I finally slid inside him he was as relaxed as he could ever be. Then, when we were both about to come, I bent down and gently bit his nipple. Didn't surprise me when this born-again atheist found God.
When he came round, a good few minutes after, he swore he'd never come so hard in his life. Since then I've found a few other ways to get the same result and each and every time he says the same thing. Either he's not very original when it comes to praising my technique or else I'm getting better at it. I hope so.
He's making the quiet, gasping sounds that tell me he's close. I stop thinking about the past and enjoy the present so that I can join him at the end.
Oh yeah. Just go for it, Danny.
His wish is my command.
"Oh - oh fuck," he complains when it's all over. "It should be illegal to feel this good."
I know what he means. I pull out of him gently, roll him to face me and kiss him again.
"In some places, it is," I remind him.
He chuckles. "They don't know what they're missing."
I shrug. "Two to one any number of the lawmakers probably do. They just don't tell anyone."
And so say all of us.
Breakfast's over. Cassie and Jan joined us 'cause there's no food in the others' house, and John and DJ are sitting in the living room. Teal'c called us as soon as they entered the solar system and we're just awaiting their arrival. I only hope the gals are going to like their surprises.
There's a flash of light and as soon as our eyes return to normal, we hug the ladies and wish them a happy birthday. There are squeals of delight from them as they see the others.
"So that's why you wanted us away overnight!" Sam exclaims.
"Couldn't surprise you any other way," Jack shrugs.
We know we've done the right thing because both she and Frankie are beaming from ear-to-ear. Methinks today could be a long day. But a good one, I'm sure.
I cannot believe how today went. Having Jan and Cassie here was just the icing on the cake. Dad popped over during the afternoon and brought both Frankie and myself a gift. He'd found a planet where they do lots of weaving and sewing and bought us both beautiful warm handmade quilts which remind us of the patchwork ones back home. He said he wanted to keep both his girls warm at night.
That meant so much to both of us, but especially Frankie. She actually cried. For the first time, I heard her call him 'Dad'. Up till now, she's avoided using any appellation to his face. This time she said it and I could see that he was pleased. I'm glad. It makes her even more like a sister than before.
And then there was my other adopted sister; my partner-in-crime back at the SGC. My soul-mate in so many ways. The connection forged because of Cassie to one side, Janet was always my best and most understanding friend and I miss her terribly when we're apart.
Daniel disappeared midway through the festivities which were held in the tunnels. He wasn't gone long and came back with a large thermos box filled with Chinese take-out. That's something else I'd missed. Turned out he'd made arrangements with the General to get a 'banquet' ordered and paid for to be ready at a certain time. It was still piping hot when it arrived and it was delicious!
The androids didn't mind one bit that they couldn't take part in the feasting, but they did disappear while it happened. They came back when it was over, though, so that was good.
Teal'c and Kar Shel have been busy - as have all the men. Whereas a few new clothes (very nice ones, I must admit) came our way from Earth (from the ladies and from some other friends, such as the General and Paul and Anthony), the men made us things.
We have beautifully carved jewellery boxes from Teal'c and equally beautiful, but slightly larger boxes of a matching design from Kar Shel, in which other bits and pieces like make up can go. Oh, we also got a large box of make up each from the girls. I've missed that.
Jack and John relied on their own skills. Jack made us both pottery perfume bottles. John, following a recipe that the Daniels had in one of their books (they have some seriously weird things in their books!) went around the planet and gathered up some of the most beautiful-smelling flowers and spices and concocted a gorgeous perfume that resides in large glass bottles, with small amounts at a time to be decanted into Jack's presents.
I've already put some on and Teal'c says I smell like a paradise garden. I'm thinking that I'm going to be in for a very good night tonight!
To cap it all, the Daniels have also been busy. They took some of the large emeralds from our stores and, apparently, using the Tok'ra cutting tools, extremely carefully cut them into pear-drop shapes; cutting facets into them so that they shine from every angle. DJ set some in earring wires and Daniel created a frame for his so that they hang as pendants from the beautiful chains he bought.
He and DJ apologised for buying the wires and chains, but that didn't matter to us. They must have spent ages working out how to make the stones stay safe, and in very intricately designed 'holders'. I'm sure there's a technical name for it, but I don't know and I don't really care. All I care about is that my men - all of them - spent many hours desperately trying to think of ways to please us. And they have. More than they could imagine.
Frankie liked my present to her - although it caused a great deal of hilarity because it was identical to the one she made for me. We had discussed the possibility of augmenting our communications bracelets to work on a subspace frequency. In the end, we made something separate, to do the same job but which can still be strapped onto our arms for convenience's sake. What it means is that if one of us is nowhere near a ship, and the other is somewhere in the galaxy, we can still be in touch. That means a great deal to us both.
Oh boy, I'm tired. Teal'c's giving off vibes that he wants to whisk me off to bed soon, and I won't stop him, I think.
I know that Daniel's been itching to discuss something with us, but he's held back just for today. Just the same way we haven't once discussed our own findings. Tomorrow, however, I think we'll be back at it.