Summary: A glow-in-the-dark alien enlightens the gang, but only a bit. Pieces of the puzzle start coming together and now they realise that they're going to need all the illumination they can get, especially as it seems that a rather large pile of the dark stuff is about to drop on their heads.
The real story starts here, but it's going to take a while before it ends. ECHW still lives on.
Many thanks to Alph for the beta, as usual. Couldn't do any of this without you. Undoubtedly there are those who would wish you hadn't bothered ;-)
"How long did it take you to get here?" Daniel asks as the enormity of Hermes' statement starts to sink in.
"From where?" Hermes is looking as confused as you could imagine a glowy being looking.
"From wherever it was that Zeus was holding you? How much time did it take? And where were you anyway?"
"Time. I cannot say. I do not experience time in the same manner as a human. To me time is almost non-existent, at least in the sense you mean. There are moments in your linear view of time which seem to last an eternity, whilst years are over before they have begun."
"You can say that again," Jack mutters under his breath. "Okay," he says a bit louder, "if you can't answer that, what can you answer?"
"Jack!" Daniel hisses. "Be nice. The poor, er, man has been through a lot." He blinks, looks around and asks, "Do we have to stay down here for now? I mean, couldn't we go to Gimli? Get some food?"
"You mean get some coffee," I tease. Daniel rarely suggests food because he's hungry. It's usually an excuse to hit the grounds, er, running...
"What about the city?" Teal'c asks. "Do we not need to search this place for more information?"
Daniel shrugs. "It's not going anywhere. We can always come back. I'm thinking that finding Zeus has got to be top of our 'to do' list. Then we can see if we can find some info about the Furlings."
"Furlings? What do you wish to know about them?" Hermes asks.
"Where they are for a start," Jack replies.
"Uh, because we believe that they have knowledge that we could really do with. Not that we want to take anything," Daniel puts in hurriedly. "We're not like that. We just require some help and what we've found out about them leads us to believe that, if they still exist of course, they could be in a position to give us that help."
"To do what?"
"Reverse the genetic engineering which turned my people into slaves," Teal'c answers solemnly.
"A noble and difficult quest," Hermes says thoughtfully.
"Do you know where they are?" Daniel asks.
"I am afraid not," comes the apologetic reply. "I only heard of them through tales of our own history."
Ah well, it couldn't have been that easy, could it?
Before the conversation can go on any further, Jack looks over at Daniel, sees the need in his eyes for the holy bean and says, "Come on, Daniel's right. Let's go to the ship."
He doesn't let anyone answer but uses his communicator to transport all five of us up to Gimli.
This Hermes character has gone wide-eyed; pretty much in the same way as Daniel does when he's working something out.
"This is a Goa'uld ship?" he asks.
"Was," I say with a grin. "Built by Hades and, er, rescued by us."
I think I see a smile.
"What of Hades?"
"Been sent to the real underworld," I reply with a shrug. "Along with his sidekicks."
"His... side - kicks?"
"Hecate and the Erinyes," Danny tells him.
The look on Hermes face tells us a whole load - for someone who gives the impression of being quite gentle as a rule, he's hoping that their 'journey to the underworld' was pretty damned painful and that he's rather enjoying the thought. Given that his own race might have been wiped out by the Goa'uld, I can't say I blame him.
Meanwhile, Daniel beckons us to follow and leads us all to the galley. As he walks, he talks.
"It's kind of a long story, but Hades was yet another of the, um, missing snakes who wanted to take over the galaxy, without sharing it with the other System Lords. It's becoming a bit of a running theme with them recently."
"But why now?" Hermes asks. "There have been many opportunities for these creatures to attempt such evil goals. You say that Anubis had hidden out for many years - that must be about the amount of time that I was held prisoner," he sighs. "One of the last pieces of news I remember from that time is that he had been killed by the System Lords."
"I heard that was a thousand years ago when I was at the summit," Daniel says. "But coming to think of it, if you had heard of them turning against him, and given what we know of our history, it must have been longer. Perhaps two or more millennia."
"Two thousand years?! Whoa! That's a hell of a long time. Didn't you get bored?"
Hermes blinks at me and then replies, "I did not perceive that time, as I told you."
"That's a hell of a lot of not perceiving," I whistle.
He shrugs, leaves some of his shoulders behind and finally reforms. No matter how often I see that, it's still freaky. By now we've arrived at the galley and Daniel's headed straight for the coffee pot. I guess I'd better get some actual food.
"Uh, do you eat? Can you eat?"
"I do not require the sort of food that you need," he says. "I gain my energy from the strength of the sun, amongst other, similar sources. Without it, after a while my abilities decrease."
Daniel turns and looks at him curiously.
"Is that how Zeus held you? Kept you from any such power source?"
"It was how he stopped me from escaping, that is true. I did not have enough energy to change my form enough to leave the confinement."
"So how did you escape?" Teal'c asks.
"Over time, the materials of the prison must have deteriorated. At one point I became aware that when the position of the sun was in a certain place, it came through a crack in what you might call a wall. It took, I assume, many years. Perhaps centuries. But over that time I was able to gather enough power to change my form - a task made more difficult by the technology which had confined me into a single shape - and then I finally overcame my bonds.
"This was a comparatively recent occurrence, I believe. Although this is just guesswork, I am afraid. I am still not able to give you a precise time. It must have been a few years at least as I needed to spend much time gathering my strength. How many years, I do not know.
"During that time I was not always... conscious, I suppose you would say. It is possible that a decade passed during each period of rest. It is also possible that it was but a few months or even days." He pauses for a moment, then says, "I am sorry I cannot be more specific."
Daniel sits down with a thud at that and thinks. We can tell he's thinking, his eyes have scrunched up and his eyebrows are doing the opposite to Teal'c's. If they went any lower they'd hit his chin.
"Uh, don't worry about the time thing. I'm guessing it wasn't more than a few years given our own story, so to speak. Do you know where were you held?"
"Not so that I could look to a drawing of a place and find it," Hermes says apologetically. "But it was known as Omphalos."
"The navel of the earth," Daniel mutters. "That was the name of the stone supposedly vomited by Cronus."
"Huh?" He puked a stone?
"Yeah, remember I told you that Cronus was supposed to have eaten his kids?"
"Not likely to forget something as gruesome as that," I agree.
"Well, the myth says that Cronus was afraid of being killed by his kids, much like he'd done to his father Uranus." He glares at me and I don't say a word. "Though some of those myths just say he castrated him instead, the blood from the, er, action being used to create..."
He looks at me and rolls his eyes. Sometimes I just need to get him back on track.
It is a pity that O'Neill has interrupted Daniel's storytelling; however, I believe that for once he is right to do so.
"Okay, well, Zeus' mother didn't want this to happen to another kid so she gave birth on Earth instead of Olympus. Then she gave him to some nymphs to care for him, uh, the Cretan warriors would make a lot of noise to cover for his crying, and then she wrapped a large stone up as if it were an infant. Without looking, Cronus swallowed it. Later on, uh, long story, he was poisoned and threw up the kids he'd eaten..."
"Which explains how they turn up later?" O'Neill puts in.
Daniel's points at him, nods and says, "Exactly. The last thing he threw up was the stone. It was set down on the earth and was known as Omphalos, from the Greek for navel."
"There is some truth in the myth," Hermes put in. "But I do not believe that there was any truth in the last part. The Goa'uld would eat their offspring, or the offspring of others."
"Yeah," Daniel says. "I've seen it happening. It's some kind of ritual thing they've gotten going."
"And a vile one," Hermes agrees. "Omphalos was, in fact, a place where the Goa'uld would gather to hold conferences. It was considered a neutral venue, and was one where they were not allowed to take weapons. No human would be allowed there."
"Omphalos," Daniel mutters. Then he asks, "Did Olympus exist? I mean, there's a mountain in Greece called that and it's where the ancient ones believed the gods lived, in a kind of heaven above the mountain."
"No, not as far as I am aware. That specific term was not used when I was living among the people."
"It couldn't be..." Daniel says under his breath.
"Could not be what?" I ask.
"A misspelling? Something as stupid as that? The words are both pretty ancient and God only knows how spelling changed throughout the centuries in a single language. But the Classical Greek we know today was not the only version around at the time; you only have to look at the writings that survived to see that. I mean, Linear A and B are both forms of really ancient Greek and they look nothing like even the classical alphabet.
"Regarding the more common one, in various places and times, some letters were written differently, some disappeared in writing but in a sense, not in speech. The digamma specifically - looked like an F to us, sounded like a W, then got replaced by a B in some places. The sound disappeared in the Attic and Ionic alphabets - but not in the others - in what we call prehistoric times; precisely the sort of time Olympus/Omphalos would have been in action.
"But at the same time, it was being used as if it were still there in poetry. The scansion of Homeric writings, for example, acts with some words as if the digamma was still being spoken, but it's not there in actuality."
"Sort of like the way we have silent letters in English, like the K in 'knee'?" Samantha suggests. "Except for the fact that we still write the letter. It's not pronounced now, but it must have been used at some time in the past?"
"Most likely," he agrees, then gets back on track. "So there were many forms of the language, not just the more commonplace ones today. It took till the 4th Century before the Ionic alphabet became relatively standardised throughout the region. Until then, just about each city had its own, uh, variety.
"Some were dialects, some even more disparate so as to really only be a related language. Similar to the basic words in the various Celtic languages I guess, where one ancient Celt could meet another from a completely diverse homeland to his own but still be able to make sense of what he was saying."
O'Neill puts up his hand. "Olympus, Danny?"
"Yes, right. What I mean is this. Is it beyond the realms of possibility that a story of the Omphalos, the meeting place when the 'Greek' Goa'uld were freely roaming Earth, got misheard by one person, perhaps someone from a different area from the speaker? The vowel sounds, for example, could be the start of the change, just as vowel sounds are different between English speakers from not just different countries, but different regions within those countries.
"The letter A, for example, can be pronounced in many ways, from a short 'ah' to a rising 'ay' to a rolling 'arr' to heaven only knows how else. That one letter alone could be misinterpreted today and written differently by any number of highly literate people.
"Now the Y in Olympus - uh, that's the English spelling - is, I believe, pronounced in modern Greek as we pronounce it, like the I in 'hit'. But in ancient Greek, it was the upsilon, which could either have been more like the umlauted U in 'müller' or the long one in the English 'ruse', for example.
"BUT - those pronunciations are only ones which have been agreed on as being standard since the 19th Century. Until then, no one really agreed as to how the ancient Greeks had spoken - we only knew from records that there had been differences. They may have sounded even more different from what we have guessed."
He takes a deep breath as if gathering himself for a final onslaught of explanation. Daniel often gets frustrated when he is attempting to make us understand his 'leaps of faith', especially when he is talking about subjects of which we know little.
"So. Take changes in pronunciation, people from different regions hearing one version but pronouncing it differently again, then get a scribe who's perhaps heard the word maybe tenth- or even a hundredth-hand, and it would be highly unlikely that the word stayed the same. The vowel sounds changed, the consonants changed place or disappeared..."
He smacks his head as if he remembers something else.
"Oh! Of course, the earlier pronunciation of phi was believed to be more of a P than the F sound we now use. It would have been 'oh-mp-ah-los'. Over time couldn't it become Olympus? Or," he says with a slightly hysterical laugh as if a simple idea has struck him, "take someone with perhaps a form of dyslexia, unheard of then, no doubt, and the L and M - P could easily have been interchanged without needing a convoluted explanation."
I look at the others and we all feel the same way about the answer. In other words, we do not know.
"Either explanation is possible," I agree in the end. "You have told me how in the Middle Ages that spelling of English in a place supposedly literate, was not standardised. That educated people sometimes even spelt their names differently from one day to the next. You have also shown me how, for example, letters in the ancient English language became transposed and that there were often many differing written versions of the same words."
"Especially when the alphabet changed from the runes to the Latin one," he says with a nod. "A simple thing like 'hwæt' became 'what'. The pronunciation changed from the 'hw-ay-t' to 'wh-ot'. Even though it is a comparatively basic word and therefore easy to work out, even for a non-linguist, it's still quite a change.
"Then go to Norman England, for example. Take a more complex English word, a whole bunch of distinctly different accents and dialects - long before the Great Vowel Shift - a time and a place where literacy was limited to an elite few, even more so than in the Middle Ages, and who knows what changes could be made?"
We say nothing as he takes a breath, not even questioning him regarding this Great Vowel Shift, because we wish him to keep on track. However, I am now curious as to what that was. It sounds like a linguists' medical complaint, but I am sure it must be something far different from that. I shall have to look it up later. He continues, unaware of our bewilderment.
"Back to the Greek. Omphalos remained the word for navel: in its mythological context it's a central place, a place of importance - and more to the point, a stone. And what is a mountain, to all intents and purposes, except a massive stone? So the word Olympus, though it sounds and looks quite different to us now, may not have needed such a leap to get from the 'correct' spelling to the one we ended up with. The 'magical stone' then becomes Olympus - the meeting place or home of the gods."
"That's interesting," Samantha says. "But what does this have to do with us now?"
"Now? Not a lot," he admits with a shrug, and much to our disappointment. "But I'd definitely like to find this Omphalos place. There may well be information there."
We see Hermes shudder at that thought so Daniel is quick to reassure him.
"Don't worry, we wouldn't ask you to go there. All we need to know is roughly where it is. You said you lived with the people of Earth. Was it in the same area?"
"I believe it was not too far, but I cannot be certain," Hermes says.
"Okay. We might be able to scan for the place. Were there any Goa'uld still there when you escaped?"
"Not that I was aware of. But I was in a hurry to flee and so did not look."
"Fair enough. At least we have something to go on. In the meantime, you asked a question regarding 'why now?' about the ancient Goa'uld attempting to become the 'owners' of the galaxy. I think I can answer that, but it's only a guess. You see, a good few years ago, we entered battle with Ra and defeated him."
Hermes looks like he is going to faint. If he had enough substance, I should offer him a chair.
"Anyway, we did not know the story of the Goa'uld at that time and didn't understand the politics. Much as I'm glad we killed him and freed a planet from slavery, we were unaware that others were waiting for an opportunity to take over. Over the years we have fought, and for the most part defeated, any number of System Lords.
"Fairly recently, we were able to kill most of the remaining System Lords in one go. Anubis had, by then, already started his rise back to power, but Lord Yu, Svarog and Olokun gathered their forces and defeated him. Olokun died in the attempt and because of the nature of the battle, Yu and Svarog are themselves weakened."
Ah, the coffee is ready. I get up and start to pour some mugs, talking as I do.
"In the meantime, Hades had had spies throughout the galaxy and at the urging of Hecate, we think, decided that then would be a good time to move out from the Underworld, so to speak, and to a new home. It was something he'd been planning for a long time, though, as he had built a massive fleet."
"From where you... rescued this ship, no doubt?" Hermes says, with, I should say, a teasing voice.
"Uh, sort of. This one we took from his original homeworld. But there were over a hundred at a shipyard. We took some more, for the use of those who fight the Goa'uld, then destroyed the others."
"How?!" Now he sounds stunned.
"We blew up a sun," Sam says with a shrug. "We'd, uh, done it before to wipe out Apophis' fleet."
Hermes is now laughing. Though I think it's a touch of hysteria.
"The Asgard helped us out and converted the ships so while they look Goa'uld, they're basically Asgard."
"You seem to be friends with the Asgard?"
"Sure. Especially Thor. He's a good friend of ours. We've met a couple of others, too."
"Your stories are much like the ones told of the ancient heroes by the humans I once lived amongst."
It's my turn to laugh. "Yeah, but if we ever told this as a story, no one would believe it. They'd say it was too fanciful."
"And yet the truth is often of more fancy than a lie."
"Yes, we have a saying that 'truth is stranger than fiction'. And believe me, in our experience, it usually is."
Hermes is pretty desperate to get away from Earth, and I can't say that I blame him. Trouble is, he can't remember where he's from. He was hoping that by looking at the DHD, he would eventually work out from the symbols which ones he needed to press. He was that desperate that he was prepared to make his way to the frozen wastes of Antarctica on a hunch. Poor guy.
We showed him the symbols that we have, but of course, these days they're different - mainly because since Thor got hold of the ship, they're now displayed as Asgard runes translated into alphanumeric codes for us... I don't want to take him to the SGC to look at the hieroglyphs on the dialling computer, just in case Zeus is somehow there, either in person or he has an agent in place. Not beyond the realms of possibility if he had taken over Kinsey.
Neither do I want to take Hermes to where we met up with Pan, even if there is the chance that he might know them all. Jack won't be in a hurry to return there, neither am I as a matter of fact, but the main reason is that Hermes is golden and glowy, whereas the nymphs were made up of water and Pan, if that's who it was, was solid - more like Arawn than Hermes - so perhaps they were not the same species. I do, however, have one other idea.
"How about we go to a planet where you may be able to get some help?" I try.
"Where?" he asks as the others turn to look at me.
"Thoth's world? I mean the Ka Thoth, not the Goa'uld Thoth. He has a phenomenal library. Perhaps he has a record of your people?"
And if it turns out that Pan's place is his home, then he can go there without our company.
"Uh, Daniel, we're not supposed to go back," Sam reminds me.
"Through the gate," I agree. "But somehow, I think he'll forgive us if we just go to the surface and don't attempt to enter the library again."
I turn back to Hermes. "Well? Would you like to try that?"
"You would do that for me?" he asks in surprise.
I look to Jack and he shrugs in indifference. I get similar replies from the others. So I look up the address and punch in the symbols. Shouldn't take long. I hope.
I hope Thoth really will be okay about us going back there. I mean, we parted on good terms, I suppose, but the underlying thread was that we wouldn't be returning. Though he did say that the ways of the universe were strange and that we might meet again, if I remember rightly. Perhaps he knew something we didn't.
Well duh, Sam. He's probably forgotten more than we'll ever know. Wish I could get back into the library. Bet Daniel does, too.
I look at him as we close in on the co-ordinates and see that he's gotten his 'I'm preparing myself to get let down' face on. He knows he won't even get a sniff at the books. The funny thing is, even though the whole Book of Thoth thing with the amazing tech and 'magic' surrounding it was what we set out to protect, it was the library with the Earth history that fascinated him so much. And made him so sad to leave, I think.
I'm not completely sure that Thoth got that. Given the circumstances of our visit it's understandable that he would have been concentrating on our interest in 'his' book, but the way Daniel's eyes lit up on seeing that library... No, very few would totally understand his disinterest in the tech and his love for the written word, even if it was just about things like water clocks.
We're there already. Thoth's world is on 'our' side of the galaxy, which is a help. I wonder what we're going to do now?
"Shall we all go down?" I ask. "Or do you think he'd resent it?"
Daniel shrugs. "Don't see why. He didn't have a problem with any one of us. I think, however, that as a display of good faith, we should not take any weapons with us. I mean, I know we couldn't hurt him with a P90 if we wanted to, but the sheer fact of taking them there might show that we have some dishonourable intent."
"What if someone... uninvited turns up?" Jack asks. "I dare say he could deal with them but what about us?"
"Call to Gimli," he shrugs as if the answer is obvious. Well, if he puts it like that, I guess it is.
"Fine. But first sign of trouble, Daniel, and we're heading out. Got it? No arguments."
Daniel puts his hands up in surrender.
"You're not getting any," he replies.
I guess that after last time, not getting out of trouble soon enough and ending up getting snaked... well, it's got to put a damper on his enthusiasm for hanging around. We just got very, very lucky with Apollo.
Hey ho, it's transport time. Daniel's holding Jack's hand again and shutting his eyes as he gets himself under control. Hermes is looking at him oddly, but we say nothing. When Daniel opens his eyes and gives a little nod, I take it as my cue to hit the transport button.
We've arrived on the surface near the pyramid. Needless to say, there is no sign of Thoth. Daniel steps away from us, just a little, then calls out to him.
"Thoth? It's me, Daniel. I'm really sorry we've returned and I promise we're not going to set foot in the library, but we've come here because it's the only place we believe we can get some help for a friend. You know him. He's not an enemy. Please. Come out."
We wait for a while, then out of nowhere, he appears.
"Hello," he says with a smile, looking first at the four of us. Then he sees Hermes who's looking both relieved and like he wants to cry. "Hermes?"
"Yes. It is you. I did not allow myself to believe that I should see an old friend again."
Poor guy's voice is cracking. Guess that if I'd been held for a long time, I'd be feeling pretty choked about now, too.
Ya know, the trouble with reunions is that it sometimes makes it hard to get to the point. Golden-Boy is talking with Fuzzy-Silver-Guy, but they've switched to some other language which I do not understand. I don't even have a clue what it is. I've heard modern Greek and heard Daniel speaking ancient Greek, and it ain't that. The sounds are all wrong. It's not ancient Egyptian, either. Know that sound, too. Anyway, despite Daniel's statement that we're not after anything, there's something I want to know.
"Uh, excuse me?" I try.
It seems to work 'cause the spirits stop talking.
"Right. Thanks. Look, I'm really glad we've been able to reintroduce you. I'm hoping that either Hermes can stay here with you or you'll know where his own people live. That would be nice," I say in the hope it gets them on our side. "The trouble is, there's a snake, uh, Goa'uld out there who was able to trap Hermes for what we think was a couple of thousand years. He's gotten hold of the book."
"The book?" Thoth asks.
"Yeah. What did you call it, Daniel?"
"The Hermetic Script. Named after Hermes as the Book of Thoth was named after you, and, it seems, was a copy of the writing left by the Ancients." He opens his eyes wide and then looks like someone's smacked him with a wet haddock. "Uh, Ogmius," he says.
"Ogmius was meant to have brought writing, among other knowledge to the Celts. Much as these guys were meant to have done the same for the Greeks and the Egyptians."
"They were the Ancient's writings, too?" Sam suggests. "The ones they told us they were given to protect?"
Daniel shrugs. "Could be. I mean, it would explain a lot. Probably were allowed to share basic info, like literacy, medicine and so on but none of the advanced stuff, so to speak. Uh, do you guys know Ogmius?"
"We knew him well," Thoth replies.
"Yeah, didn't Ogmius say he knew of Thoth and the book?" Sam says. Don't know when he said that. Must've been when they were in that holy place or whatever it was.
"Yes, yes, he did!" Daniel's getting a bit excited. "Of course. They must have at least part of the same writings. There must be many versions of it. So many civilisations have stories of how only one person, uh, god - whatever - brought the gift of writing, medicine, astronomy... The Great Friendship must have spread right across the planet."
"I think we'd pretty much worked that one out," I point out. Helpfully, natch.
"Well, yeah. But I don't think we'd actually totally comprehended the extent of this alliance." He turns back to the floaty guys. "How many peoples were a part of the friendship that Lord Arawn told us of?"
Thoth's actually smiling at him.
"Always the questions, Daniel. It seems your thirst for knowledge is unquenched," he says, though I think it's with fondness rather than, say, irritation. "And in answer to your question, there were many. You are right, we were all a part of the friendship and were all given parts of the Ancients' knowledge to keep to ourselves. When I myself escaped from Earth, with the help of the Asgard, and brought the knowledge of that place as well as the writings of which you speak, I was blessed by the Ancient Ones in that they gave me a copy of the remainder."
"Of course! You once said that all the knowledge of the Ancients resides here. I take it that it's in one of those weird machines? The one that grabs at your head and downloads the information into your brain?"
Thoth looks oddly at him.
"I am sorry, I know not of what you speak."
Daniel shrugs. "Never mind. I think it wasn't quite what they gave you anyway - I mean, not in the same manner."
"Then how did you know about it."
Daniel looks at me wryly.
"I got my head stuck in one," I admit. "Totally freaked me out - and everyone else, by the way. Especially as I wasn't exactly renowned for my intelligence and I started to speak the Ancient's language. Sort of fried my brain."
"How did you survive such an ordeal?" Hermes asks.
It's my turn to shrug. "Found the Asgard and they very kindly got rid of it."
"You did not wish to keep the information?" Thoth asks.
"Oh we, well, more like our bosses I guess, wanted it, mainly because there was a lot of stuff about how the gate worked and so on, but to be frank, mainly 'cause I'm kind of attached to my brain and all, I was glad to be rid of it."
"Didn't want to spoil his rep for being dumb," Daniel mutters under his breath.
I think I'll get him later for that one. Fortunately, I don't think the spooks heard him.
"Besides, I doubt we'd have understood half of it," I finish with a shrug. Don't want him thinking that we've become tech hunters. Well, we are, but not in a bad way.
"So you wish me to provide you with some sort of weapon to fight this Goa'uld?" he asks suspiciously.
Obviously didn't convince him much.
Daniel speaks up. "Uh, no. Not a weapon. Just some advice, if it is possible. Some information. Some way of..."
His voice trails off, his head dips and he goes quiet.
O'Neill has his hand on Daniel's shoulder and is shaking him as if to wake him from a dream. Suddenly, Daniel's head snaps up.
"Come on, let's go," he says.
"Go? Why? These guys may be able to help us defeat Zeus for cryin' out loud! We're not asking for weapons, are we? Just some advice."
"I've already received it."
He shakes his head slowly. "The only way to defeat evil is to deny the battle."
"Danny, that's not going to work. Zeus is after taking over the planet. Then he's going to get his hands on five - count them - FIVE Asgard-powered ships. And that's not including the ten al'keshes and thousands of gliders! Not even Gimli could take them. He could get out there and defeat all of the System Lords and any other Goa'uld that raises its ugly head. Not only that, he could make slaves of the entire GALAXY!"
O'Neill seems more than frustrated by Daniel's reluctance to fight at the moment, and I am inclined to agree.
"Daniel. Should Zeus become all powerful, everything we have fought for will be for nought. All of those who have died in the name of freedom shall have died for nothing! I cannot stand by and watch that happen. Can you?"
"No. I understand what you're saying. Honestly. I understand better than anyone. But we will not be able to fight Zeus with weapons, or even information."
"Then what do you intend doing to oppose him?" O'Neill demands. "Insult him till he cries?"
He looks at us sadly and shakes his head.
"I don't know. I'm sorry, but I don't know. All I know is that if we seek the knowledge of the Ancients and make a mistake, he's going to get hold of it. We were told by Thoth and Hermes that each group of people were given part of the Ancients' knowledge. They must have done that to protect it, just in case of, well, the sort of dreadful thing that happened to Hermes. I mean, he wouldn't have just given up the writings and they'd have known that, but they would also have known how devious the Goa'uld can be.
"So, in the Hermetic Scripts along with all the other versions, there is only some of what the Ancients knew. This will explain the changes in what each of the races who were part of the friendship can do. I mean, the Tuatha can disappear or reappear as solid mortals. Thoth and Hermes here are more like the Ancients. I, uh, I assume that the Salish were part of the alliance and we know that they can change form into, er, animals, for example.
"Remember, I've told you about any number of civilisations who had gods who could transform themselves into lots of different things, or who could do 'magic', often with similarities but usually with some differences, too. This splitting of the knowledge could explain that.
"Anyway, back to my point. Zeus can only make use of what he knows. Undoubtedly, though, he knows that there is more available. It is also possible he knows where to find that information."
He turns and looks at Thoth. "Are you the only one who had access to the whole of the Ancients' knowledge?"
"They told me so," Thoth says quietly. "And I had no reason to disbelieve them."
"Of course not. And what they said was probably the exact truth - in that they only gave you the whole information from them. But as we told you, we came across a repository of that information. At a guess, it was from a place far older than the time when you knew them; possibly by millions of years.
"Like I said, it was a form of technology, something which held the knowledge not only of the Ancients but probably also of the Nox, the Furlings and the Asgard. It was in what we had assumed to have been a meeting place for those four races.
"If, somehow, Zeus gets into the SGC - uh, that's where the stargate is held on Earth - he's going to get the address of the Nox. Now, they can probably take care of themselves. They can do the disappearing act thing that you guys can do. But, he's also going to get to see the record of the meeting place."
"But there's nothing left in that store," Samantha says. "We checked it out later, remember? It was all gone."
"But who is to say there wasn't another one? Remember Heliopolis? That's two places we know about - couldn't there have been more?"
He turns back to the spirit guys. "Hermes, were there any destinations in the writings you held? Suggestions of other meeting places of the four?"
"Not that I can recall," he says - to our relief, but not to Daniel's it would seem.
"Then how come we got sent to look for the Book of Thoth?"
"Daniel? An SGC team heard that there were rumours spreading across the galaxy and passed the info back," Samantha reminds him.
"Did they?" he turns to her. "Can you be sure of that? Think Sam. Why did we leave Earth? Specifically."
"Because of the interference from..." She goes quiet and then shakes her head. "The NID and Pentagon," she finishes in not more than a whisper.
"And are we sure that during the time that we were away, before the NID were exposed for what they really are, that there were no NID spies at the SGC?"
She shakes her head.
"So, who's to say that whichever soldier 'heard' this information wasn't told it by, say, Kinsey?" He turns to our host and Hermes and explains a little. "Hermes, you said you believed Zeus to be in America. Why?"
"I had, during one of my periods of consciousness near to the end of my confinement, overheard him speaking to his mate. He said that he wished to go there as the country was powerful and that he craved such power once more."
"This is starting to make a lot more sense," Daniel says, mainly to himself. "We thought that there was a single Goa'uld still on Earth," he continues. "A really evil one. You see, throughout our history, there have been many powerful characters who start out quite reasonable, or no more evil than the next guy at least, and then, over time, they get more and more... demonic," he says, shuddering as he does.
"Take a king of a place called Russia, for example. Ivan the Terrible. Initially, he was a devout Christian; uh, that's a religion based on the teachings of whom the faithful believe to have been the son of the only god in existence. His teachings, like many others, were to be kind, charitable, peaceful... Basically all of the good things that make humans, well, human, I guess. They're the sort of traits we all wish for ourselves, the sort of teachings worth following whether you're a believer or not.
"Anyway, he, uh, Ivan became king of a massive country spanning vast distances and many races. I'll cut the story short, but there's a reason he got the epithet 'terrible'. He ordered the massacre of countless innocents in ways I'm not even going to start to describe, they are so abhorrent to me. As they are to most humans.
"He is not the only leader, either one born to the position or one who gained that position, to have gone like that, either. It was my conjecture that in such extreme cases, a Goa'uld possession could have explained both the change in character and the delight in cruelty beyond imagination.
"You see, although humans have it in them to be bad, to even be mentally unstable to the point where they can commit such terrible crimes, no sane human can act in such a way. It goes against everything that we are. Yes, we have faults. Yes, we certainly have the ability to do vile things. We are also, unfortunately, easily led by those who have the ability to lead. And when led by such people, we are capable of committing vile acts worthy of a Goa'uld," he says, his voice full of shame regarding his race. I quite understand.
"But, as individuals and not as a part of the crowd, there is a moral line over which even many insane people will not step. Yet there are countless sickening accounts of powerful people committing or ordering acts of violence, often on their own people, which are so bad as to be beyond the realms of our nightmares, let alone our conscious imaginations.
"They commit genocide without a single thought - the wiping out of an entire race! We cannot conceive of how these people even exist. Yet throughout history, one after another of these monsters turns up."
"You believe they must have been hosts?" Thoth asks.
"I think," he says sadly, "that perhaps it is my wishful thinking that no rational human could stoop so low and that there has to be another reason, other than plain madness. I could be wrong," he continues with a shrug. "I have been before.
"But from what we've heard of Zeus, even the mythology surrounding him which describes him on the one hand as loving honour and justice," he says, nodding towards Hermes as if to say 'that must have been your father', "and on the other being capable of committing brutal acts, including rape, and knowing the history of most of the peoples of my world from the time before Hermes' capture, which, I am now assuming, was around two thousand years ago...
"Well, let's just say that there's good circumstantial evidence that at least some of the most evil characters in our histories were inhabited by him."
"There are many other Goa'uld on Earth," I remind him.
"I know," he agrees. "And some of them could explain others; but it's my feeling that for the most part, they haven't done anything more serious than start up cults like Seth or else they would have been spotted long ago. Somehow, they would have drawn too much attention to themselves. But a single Goa'uld, turning up in different places at different times...
"Who would connect the same strand of evil between Julius Caesar and Pol Pot, for example? Two thousand years part them. Yet look at the similarities: the cult-like nature that they built up around themselves. They started collecting the easily-led humans, those gullible enough to believe anything that they're told, and then they got more and more people on board as others follow like sheep.
"Initially they used religion or politics to gather more for their causes and by the time people recognised them for what they were, it was too late. They ended up either being worshipped as gods on Earth, or as in Pol Pot's case where it was a name something like Brother Number One, elevated themselves beyond all others - effectively making themselves godlike.
"That particular type of cult of personality followed by evil deeds done in that personality's name is rampant throughout history, yet rarely in more than one place at one time. A second or third one popping up at the same time might have been attempts by the group of Goa'uld on Earth to start to gather together all the humans, to get them all in the same frame of mind so that one day, the one leader could easily take over without a shot being fired. The others could just tell their followers to follow him. Job done. By then, the poor people would be too brainwashed and/or scared to object."
"Then we are lucky that so far it has not been managed."
He looks at me sadly.
"So far," he just says quietly, then he sits on the ground as if all of his energy has left him.
I hope I'm wrong. I really, really hope I'm wrong. But I get this dreadful feeling in the pit of my stomach that I'm on the money and it's making me feel sick.
"Why did you mention a particular man as being behind the map which mentioned my book?" Thoth asks.
"Kinsey," I say. "He is, er, was a senator. One of the most powerful men in our country. Not to mention he was very influential regarding the sinister group which tried to take possession of the stargate on more than one occasion. Then he decided that he was going to stand for election as President - uh, that's the leader of our country.
"If he had achieved that, he would have been effectively one of the most powerful men on the whole planet. If not the most powerful, because I'm sure he would have built up the mechanism for war pretty rapidly, using knowledge gained from our trips throughout the galaxy. You see, when we first met him, he was basically a jerk."
"A jerk?" Hermes asks.
"Yeah," I can't help but laugh. "The sort of person who really annoys you, you know? Thinks he's right about everything and that he alone holds the moral high ground. What was worse was that he used religion to further his ambition. He pretended to be a Christian - a follower of the good man I told you about."
"Who was also the teacher of that terrible creature?" Thoth puts in.
"Exactly. It's a disastrous thing, but many good religions on our planet, or even just good philosophical teachings, have been used as excuses to persecute those who do not agree with them. It's been going on for millennia, I'm afraid. Much in the way that the Goa'uld pretend to be gods and kill off anyone who won't worship them.
"Anyway, back to Kinsey. He would say he was this Christian man, yet hates those he cannot control. A behaviour that Christ would abhor, I am certain.
"Initially, we managed to either ignore him or work around him, pretending he wasn't there, if you see what I mean, in the hope that he'd give up and go away. But then he either started up this group, the NID, or got himself put in charge of it. They, through many devious and illegal acts, managed to get hold of both information and technology from our alien friends. Worse, they got hold of Goa'uld and started to experiment..."
I stop and look at Sam with an apology in my eyes and she nods in acceptance. I see that both Hermes and Thoth understand that we, as a team, were hurt by this so they say nothing.
"It is our belief that he was possessed by a Goa'uld. That is only a thought which came to us recently, however, as due to some deviousness on our own part, we were able to expose this illegal group and - for the most part - bring them down. Kinsey ended up stepping down from his position of power, and not long ago ended up in a hospital where he has been claiming that the 'evil has gone from him'."
"You think that perhaps Zeus had possessed him and when he lost his power, he went elsewhere?" Hermes asks with a shudder.
"Yes. And what makes it worse is that we don't have a clue as to where he's gone. Yet. We'll find him. Somehow, don't know how, but we will find him."
"And how will you defeat him?" Thoth asks. "If you do not ask for technology?"
"I've explained why such things will not work against him. If he were to get a hold of them, he could become more dangerous." A horrible thought strikes me. "Uh, Thoth, have you disabled your gate yet?"
"No, not yet. I was waiting to see if you would return anyway," he says, his voice almost teasing.
"Sorry to disappoint," I say with a shrug. "If we hadn't met Hermes, we wouldn't have needed to come back and we'd have stayed away. Anyway, you must either bury it or remove the crystals which allow a connection to it. Your address has not been entered into Earth's new ships' databanks, neither have we told anyone about it. But...
"We have to go after him to protect our planet. We cannot leave him there to do as he will. Over six thousand million humans need protecting on that one planet alone. Having said that, there is no telling what he might get out of us if we were to be captured by him."
"You think there is the possibility that he might torture you for information?"
"I think there's a good possibility of that. We would do our best to withstand it, but none of us could promise to keep quiet no matter what. There is technology available to force people to give up secrets. We will wipe all records of your planet from our own ship's memory, but we cannot wipe our own memories.
"You must protect yourself and your library from him. Shut down the gate, but be prepared for him to come by ship. I'm not saying that's going to happen, I just want you to be aware of the possibility of it, that is all."
"I understand. I am sure that between us, we can find a way to do as you say."
"Good. Don't tell me how, please."
"I shall not. Now, it is time for you to go. But Daniel, I wish you to remain for just a while."
"On my own?"
"Please. I give you my word that no harm shall come to you and that you shall return to your friends very soon."
With that, he waves his hand and the others have gone.
There's no answer.
"They are on your ship but cannot communicate with you for the moment. They are safe, I swear it. As are you."
"Please. Just wait here. I shall return as soon as I can."
So I wait. Hermes is still here, looking rather confused, but then again, so am I. Wish I could talk to the guys. I'll bet anything Jack is going nuts up there right now. Come on, come on... Ah, there you are.
"I have noticed a change in you, Daniel," Thoth says.
"Yeah, well... You see, we had a bit of a run in with technology left behind by the Furlings."
"A run in?" he asks.
"Well, it was more of a 'fall in'. There was this goo, uh, sticky liquid and we fell in it. Turned out it was full of bionanocytes; some highly-advanced biological, well, computers I guess. Basically, combined with a power source on the planet, it... uh, it kind of evolved us. Made us totally telepathic, except for Teal'c. Didn't work on him."
"Because of his symbiote no doubt."
"Yeah, that's what we thought."
"But you are different from your friends. I sense a greater change in you than in them."
I shrug. "Long story. But it seems that a sarcophagus has a similar power source to that of the Furlings' tech. Didn't want to go into one, but well, I got forced into it by Hecate."
I see Hermes shudder at her name and something from mythology suddenly comes back to me. I'll have to tell the guys that.
"She's dead," I remind him and get a relieved nod back from him.
"I see," Thoth murmurs. "I am not sure if this will help you in any way against the Goa'uld who calls himself Zeus, but..."
"We don't want tech he can get his hands on," I remind him.
"He will not," he states firmly. "It will not be possible. This is not a weapon. It is just something which may help."
"Uh, thanks," I say, thinking 'thanks, but for what?', seeing as he hasn't gotten anything with him. Then I feel a change in my right arm, over my biceps.
"What the hell?"
He waves his hand in front of my face.
"It is time for you to rejoin your friends, Daniel. I wish you luck."
Daniel's looking bewildered as he joins us on the ship.
"You want to tell us what that was all about?" Jack demands.
"What?" Daniel asks.
I can see first of all that Jack's going to get angry with him for saying that but soon after, and fortunately before Jack can have a go, I see that Daniel's genuinely confused.
"Daniel? Don't you remember what happened after we left?"
"Um... Thoth went. Oh, I remembered something about Zeus and Hecate," he adds a bit more brightly. It's not helping Jack's mood.
Jack, leave him. I really don't think he knows what happened.
It takes Jack a moment then I get, Yeah. Trouble is, do we go down and ask?
I can't see that helping, somehow. If Thoth's wiped his memory of the last few minutes, he's going to be able to do the same to us. I think we're going to have to take it on trust that whatever happened, it's for the best.
Trust an alien we don't really know?
He didn't hurt us before. He didn't get angry with us for returning. With his powers - all of the knowledge of the Ancients, remember - there's no telling what he could do to us. Remember what Oma did to the Jaffa?
Jack doesn't bother replying but gives me a little nod instead. In the meantime, Teal'c's asked Daniel what it was he remembered about Hecate.
"Well, according to Hesiod, who we know to only take as a poet and not the historian he set himself up as, Zeus absolutely loved her. Now, what was that quote... Oh, I know. He's talking about Phoebe, um, one of Cronus' siblings, who mated with Coeus.
"He says in the Theogony, 'And she conceived and bare Hecate whom Zeus the son of Cronus honoured above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless gods.
"For to this day, whenever any one of men on earth offers rich sacrifices and prays for favour according to custom, he calls upon Hecate. Great honour comes full easily to him whose prayers the goddess receives favourably, and she bestows wealth upon him; for the power surely is with her. For as many as were born of Earth and Ocean amongst all these she has her due portion.
"The son of Cronus did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was her portion among the former Titan gods: but she holds, as the division was at the first from the beginning, privilege both in earth, and in heaven, and in sea. Also, because she is an only child, the goddess receives not less honour, but much more still, for Zeus honours her'."
That's quite some memory. I know he's been enhanced but he said it all without a break. Not to mention he's tapping away at the controls to take us somewhere. Home, I hope. Though he's taking his time over it. Perhaps it's because he's otherwise engaged, so to speak.
"And this is important, why?" Jack asks.
"Two things. If there's any grain of truth in this whatsoever, of course, the sheer fact that Zeus honoured Hecate and did her no wrong," he emphasises firmly, "could mean that despite being Hades' mistress, she might have been in contact with Zeus, either in the past or even when Hades was planning his takeover.
"She did seem pretty desperate to get to Earth, even when Hades wasn't in a rush to do it. Perhaps she was working for or with him when she was planning her own takeover."
"You mean by her killing of Hades?" Teal'c asks.
"Exactly!" He turns and points at him, smiling as he does.
"What of the second thing?" Teal'c then asks.
"You weren't paying attention, were you?" he scolds, almost laughing as he does. But instead of teasing us further, he quotes part of it again. "The son of Cronus did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was her portion among the former Titan gods."
"Titan gods? So she was one of the Titans? Like Hermes?"
"Probably the original Hecate was one. Hesiod doesn't damn Hecate at all. Might have been because of the flattery thing, to ward off any evil, but the words just don't give that sort of impression to me. We already know that there was a Zeus before the Goa'uld one. Zeus was meant to have overthrown the Titans. It's said he 'drove the Titans from heaven'. That must have been the Goa'uld Zeus."
"Could the Hecate and Zeus you mentioned before have been Titans, then?" I ask.
He shrugs. "Could be. It could be one of the two things. One, they were both like Hermes and therefore probably both good. Zeus was known, as I said, for loving justice and honour. Among other things, he was the god of oaths. Bear something else in mind, the character of Zeus has a long history - longer than most others. He's known as Dyaus Pitar in the old Indo-European language. He has a presence throughout the Med, the Near and Middle East and as far as India. Differing versions of the name but they all boil down to the same thing."
"Zeus doesn't sound anything like that, Deus Pita bread or whatever you called him," Jack mutters.
"Ah," Daniel chuckles, ignoring Jack's deliberate attempt to wind him up. "But when you look at his name in Greek and see how it declines, you get Zeus - originally pronounced Sd-ay-us in the nominative, then in the accusative, genitive and dative cases it's Dia, Dios and Dií. Dios, of Zeus. Dyaus Pitar, 'heaven father' or 'father of heaven'. In other words, top dog, or god, depending on which way you look at it."
With that he taps his finger on the control panel, something lights up, disappears and then we start to move. I have no idea what he's done.
"Where are we going?" I try.
"Home. I'm tired."
To be honest, he sounds more wired than tired. He's also acting a little manic. Perhaps some food in his caffeine stream will help.
"What was the 'two'?" Jack asks.
"Yeah, you said one, so there's got to be a two."
"Oh that. Well, it's as I said. One, they were good Titans, but not the Titans we know from mythology but the ones like Hermes, or two, they were Goa'uld. And if that's the case, they may well have been in cahoots. Okay, that's kind of a moot point now, but it's worth considering as a 'what if?' At least I think so. What do you think?"
I think I want to go home. Now. If not sooner. My brain hurts.
Something's up with Daniel. He keeps looking at his arm but there's nothing there. He's not going to say anything; to be honest, I don't think he knows what it is. Get the feeling that Thoth messed with his head. Makes a change from aliens messing with his body, I suppose.
Anyway, we're home, we're eating. The sun's set and I think that getting him to bed will do us both good. We're going to need to head back to Earth asap, but MIB aren't here, and I would prefer to take them. Though we did find a message saying that they were going to be staying away for a day or two. Might be onto something. Let's hope so. If they're not back by the morning we're going to have to go without them.
"I wonder why these fuzzy guys are different colours?" I ask as we eat. "I mean, Oma and the like are white. Thoth's a sort of silver. Hermes is pretty much gold. The others that can change or disappear are just solid when they do appear, apart from those watery nymphs but then I don't know if they're the same. But the others... No fuzz and they're, well, as we'd expect them to be, I guess. But not those three."
"Something to do with the colours they originally were? Perhaps Hermes' people were like a golden bronze, or perhaps just gold?" Sam suggests.
Daniel drops his fork.
"First of all the deathless gods who dwell on Olympus made a golden race of mortal men who lived in the time of Cronus when he was reigning in heaven. And they lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief: miserable age rested not on them; but with legs and arms never failing they made merry with feasting beyond the reach of all evils.
"When they died, it was as though they were overcome with sleep, and they had all good things; for the fruitful earth unforced bare them fruit abundantly and without stint. They dwelt in ease and peace upon their lands with many good things, rich in flocks and loved by the blessed gods.
"But after earth had covered this generation - they are called pure spirits dwelling on the earth, and are kindly, delivering from harm, and guardians of mortal men; for they roam everywhere over the earth, clothed in mist and keep watch on judgements and cruel deeds, givers of wealth; for this royal right also they received - then they who dwell on Olympus made a second generation which was of silver and less noble by far.
"It was like the golden race neither in body nor in spirit. A child was brought up at his good mother's side a hundred years, an utter simpleton, playing childishly in his own home. But when they were full grown and were come to the full measure of their prime, they lived only a little time in sorrow because of their foolishness, for they could not keep from sinning and from wronging one another, nor would they serve the immortals, nor sacrifice on the holy altars of the blessed ones as it is right for men to do wherever they dwell.
"Then Zeus the son of Cronus was angry and put them away, because they would not give honour to the blessed gods who live on Olympus."
"Uh, excuse me?" I try.
I mean, I know Daniel was quoting again but he took on this 'I'm not really here' face thing as he did it, much like he did when he decided that fighting Zeus as we're used to isn't going to work.
"Sorry. Hesiod again. Works and Days this time. Now, I don't believe for a second that Zeus or the Olympians created a golden race or a silver race for that matter, and I doubt entirely that they were perfect or stupid, depending on type. But what if there is that grain of truth in it? He covered both races with earth. Buried them. Killed them! The golden race lived in the time of Cronus - a Titan! What if the golden people were the Titans?
"Hesiod said that when they died it was as if they were asleep - pretty much how Hermes described being when he was captured and kept from the light. And what if the silver people were the Kas? They refused to serve the immortals - the Goa'uld perhaps? From what we've learned they were just mortal - until they learned to ascend or change or whatever it is they do."
"Possible, I guess. If Zeus has been around so long... Who's to say what actually happened?"
He shakes his head and smiles wryly.
"There were two other races after them," he says quietly. "A third generation, again mortal. The 'Brazen Ones'. Warlike. Made from trees. Killed by war. A fourth generation, the Heroic ones. Made by Zeus, killed by war, except for the best who ended up dwelling in the Island of the Blessed, ruled by Cronus."
"Sounds like a Valhalla type place," Sam says.
"A not uncommon setting," he agrees. I know there's more, though.
"What's next?" I push.
"Next? We're next. The Iron men. Humans. Created by Zeus. Will be destroyed by Zeus."
Then he looks at me and gives me that wry smile again.
"The fifth race."
Silence has descended as Daniel's words settle in our minds. Could that just be a coincidence? What of the other races, the Brazen and Heroic ones. I have a thought.
"Daniel. Could one of the two other races have been Jaffa?"
He looks at me oddly, then his eyebrows raise.
"You know, you may have a point. We take away the mythical stuff regarding how people behaved and what happened in general, but look at it more broadly.
"The golden ones ended up walking the earth as spirits. The silver ones - well, I think there's a lot of poetic licence being used to describe how we went from being perfect to the imperfect humans that we are, their imbecilic nature probably being the product of Hesiod's imagination rather than holding truth.
"The Brazen ones - who knows who they were? Hesiod's description is pretty awful: he says they were 'terrible and strong. They loved the lamentable works of Ares and deeds of violence; they ate no bread, but were hard of heart like adamant, fearful men. Great was their strength and unconquerable the arms which grew from their shoulders on their strong limbs.
"Their armour was of bronze, and their houses of bronze, and of bronze were their implements: there was no black iron. These were destroyed by their own hands and passed to the dank house of chill Hades, and left no name: terrible though they were, black Death seized them, and they left the bright light of the sun'."
"Sounds scary," Samantha puts in. "Glad they're not around now."
"Yeah," Daniel agrees. Then he says, "But the Heroic race... Could be the Jaffa. 'A godlike race of hero-men who are called demigods'. Supermen, ultra-strong and brave. Sounds like the Jaffa to me. Perhaps the demigods like Herakles were among the first Jaffa?
"They fight on behalf of the gods, or against 'bad' gods - who could just be the opposition to whomever they were aligned - they turn up in the Oedipus and Trojan stories... and the description of being taken to live under Cronus could have been a way of describing how some people got turned into Jaffa rather than being human warriors on behalf of the 'gods'. Good thinking," he says, smiling at me.
"I thought that Ra created the Jaffa," Samantha says.
"We don't know for certain who did what," he reminds us. "Not to mention that Ra was the ultimate System Lord but Zeus seems to have had as long a presence on Earth, if not longer. We believe that Ra's influence on the planet didn't extend much beyond Egypt. Zeus' influence went way further, geographically. They might have been allies and shared the technology which made creating the original Jaffa possible?"
"Or one might have stolen it from the other."
"This is also true," he agrees with me. "In the long run, while I'd like to know which one started it all off, it's probably neither here nor there... Except..."
"Except?" O'Neill asks.
"Think about it. We've been wondering how the Goa'uld, who in most other circumstances did not seem to be interested in genetic manipulation, had changed the humans into Jaffa. We surmised that either one of them came across Furling tech, or worse, a Furling, and got the ability that way. If it was Ra, then frankly, it doesn't really matter how it happened because he's dead and can't use it anymore. But the more I think about it, the less I'm believing it was Ra."
"Simple, Jack. Ra wasn't stupid. Come on, you met him! He was curious to say the least. If he'd come across that sort of information, you think he'd have left it there? Just created the Jaffa and stopped dead in his tracks? Bear in mind that we think he had at least 10,000 years in charge as top System Lord - but that was just on Earth, even though it's unlikely he stayed put on Earth for those years, he'd have come and gone most likely.
"And what of before they found the planet? Mightn't he have been around a lot longer? He might have had total influence over the others, so why would he just give the information away?"
"Zeus is the one who is interested in the information left by the Ancients," I say. "And it was other 'Greek' Goa'uld who have had the greatest hand in such experimentation."
"Exactly! Pelops, Hera... Okay, Nirrti doesn't come under the Greek heading but we know that there were alliances. There were also very distinct connections between the mythologies of the Greeks right across to the Indians. That whole Indo-European thing I told you about. Even back then, India wasn't unknown, it was well known.
"Regarding the alliances, there was Hera with the Morrigan, we think it was the same for Nirrti. The point is, none of the Goa'uld who had connections with Ra seem to have been involved in it at all."
"Perhaps there is something in the Hermetic Script which could explain it?" I suggest. "After all, we do not know when Hermes was captured, so we also do not know when Zeus obtained the book. Zeus must have taken the book before capturing Hermes otherwise he would not have been able to contain such an ethereal being. It may have been many hundreds, if not thousands of years before he perfected the technology.
"It is my assumption that Hermes must have spent a long time tracing Zeus before attempting to retrieve the writings, by which time it was too late for him. He himself was captured and imprisoned."
"You could very well be right, Teal'c," Daniel states. "We think it was at least a thousand years ago that Anubis was banished. Hermes knew of that, so even if the date was wrong and the banishment was up to, say, two thousand years ago, then Hermes could only have been captured after that point. Add a lot of time to that for Zeus to make use of the writings, then it could have been many thousands of years - three, four, perhaps five or more - when he stole the book.
"Time isn't really relevant when you are to all intents and purposes immortal, which barring, er, accidents, the Goa'uld are. Unless there's some sort of emergency, they don't need to rush anything. Also Hermes says he can't perceive time as we do, so we can't rely on him for any dating evidence at all."
I think for a moment and then say, "You suggested once that Pelops had spent much time 'perfecting' his experiment on Argos. He may have at least had the idea for such genetic manipulation from Zeus. Or more likely from Hera, who was undoubtedly one of Zeus' original accomplices. She was able to clone, a procedure which would undoubtedly have taken much in the way of practice.
"Even if Pelops had taken his inspiration, if not his knowledge from her - and as a lower Goa'uld, he would have been closer to her than to the head System Lord - it would still have taken him a great deal of time to have developed his own experiment. He may have been quite brilliant, but that would not mean that he would get it right first time. So, that would definitely put the original theft of the book to over two thousand years ago.
"Perhaps, therefore, it was Zeus who created the machine which can be used to transform a living human into a Jaffa from something in that writing? Then on seeing the differences it made to one new Jaffa, he was able to determine the genetic changes necessary to turn some Homo sapiens into an entirely new species."
I see O'Neill shudder as I mention both that technology and the clone, and nod an apology to him. Today's discussions may not have taught us a great deal, but many painful incidents have been brought to mind. It is, however, necessary to say what is needed to be said so that we may possibly get a clearer picture of what has happened. And therefore, what will happen.
"You could be onto something," he agrees quietly. "But how did the Ra's lot get a hold of the tech? I could see tech trickling down from one top guy through the ranks of his own followers, but we know that the big guys don't like each other one bit. No way are they just going to give stuff away for the sake of it. I just don't see how it happened."
"A swap," Daniel says suddenly.
"Sure. The Goa'uld were ill, and initially Ra had the only sarcophagus. This we know as fact from Apollo. He also told us that Ra was 'persuaded' to share the technology.
"Now, short of him being captured by the other Goa'uld and being allowed to go after giving out the blueprints or whatever it was - something I cannot see happening; he would be far more likely to be killed as soon as he'd given up the secret, and then only after some sort of torture, I'm sure - the only thing that could have persuaded such a selfish race to share would be something mutually beneficial. A swap of information.
"I mean, I doubt very much whether Ra would have cared if the rest of the Goa'uld died out, frankly. So Zeus had something he wanted, as he had something Zeus wanted. Ra had the sarc, Zeus had the Jaffa.
"Each of these guys would have had their own alliances; the Greek Goa'uld following Zeus, the Egyptian ones following Ra. They would both have had strong support. There was only one choice to be made - swap the tech or go to war. With the Greek alliance suffering with the illness and only having an army of Jaffa to support them - uh, I don't mean 'only' in a bad way, Teal'c," he says with a smile. I nod in response.
"...And the Egyptians being down on manpower but up on the technology to keep the Goa'uld alive... It just makes sense that they came to a compromise. The risk of war was too great. Both sides knew that they could easily be wiped out if just one battle went wrong. No, they'd know that there were too many variables, too many chances of mistakes happening.
"Pre sarc, fewer of the Goa'uld were as insane as they are now; they should have been slightly more realistic about their chances. It was the safest option in the long run. They possibly met at somewhere like Omphalos, swapped the blueprints and went home. No war, plenty of Jaffa for their superhuman armies, and no more sickness."
"So what happened then? With the sarc to fix them and bring them back to life, and with the Jaffa - and the ability to create new ones at will - why didn't they just start fighting again?" Samantha asks.
"They scattered throughout the galaxy," Daniel says thoughtfully. "Remember that we think that Hathor had left Earth but had come back at Ra's behest, sometime before the rebellion, which means that they weren't just staying here but coming and going at will.
"As an aside, she could have gotten hold of that Jaffa-making device from him then, I suppose. The myth said that he'd called on her to wipe out the humans because he wasn't pleased with them but after she'd massacred thousands, he told her to stop and she got really annoyed with him."
"Which explains why she was so glad her 'husband' was dead," Samantha says.
"Most likely. Regarding the others, perhaps they realised that the potential for all-out war was too great if they all stayed on Earth. I mean, it's one thing to have the odd battle out here, where there is only really the danger of losing say, a system - it was quite another to lose everything, which is what would have happened if they'd had all their, er, eggs in one basket, so to speak. All of their followers in one place. All of their armies together. No, it made more sense to fight only when scattered," he repeats.
Now he nods his head slowly as it seems his thoughts are gathering themselves.
"They would have realised how strong Zeus and Ra were. They, I mean the rest of them, probably only had access to the technologies as Jack said; as and when it was granted by their 'bosses'. Once they'd created enough of their own Jaffa and gathered enough human followers, they upped and went. Found a planet, settled down.
"Some stayed that way; others, perhaps those who were lucky enough to have queens, then grew in their own power. Became lords of their own systems and then a few others. Took over some who were weaker and built up their power bases.
"Originally, it's likely that Zeus and Ra were the only ones left on Earth who had that distinct power. They must have been cheesed off with the idea of only one or two all-powerful Goa'uld and so made their own 'council'. Which is why there are normally seven System Lords at any one time.
"The others can only make their way into the 'inner sanctum' if voted in, and then only if they've done something to show that they have the power, like Anubis did by wiping out a lot of the other System Lords' forces."
"And when the rebellion happened and the gate got buried, Ra disappeared in his ship leaving Zeus behind," O'Neill says.
Daniel's eyes open wide. "Uh, guys, did it ever strike you as odd that the humans suddenly - and successfully - turned against their greatest 'god'?"
"Put it down to them being sick of slavery," O'Neill replies. "That's enough, isn't it?"
"In theory. But spear-wielding humans against staff weapon-armed Jaffa? Even if the Jaffa were heavily outnumbered, there's no contest. Remember Abydos. The people there were absolutely sick of slavery, Ra and his Jaffa were not there permanently so there was no one watching the Abydonians constantly to prevent a rebellion at least being planned, yet it took us turning up with our weapons and the bomb to rid them of the curse of Ra.
"And don't forget, even thousands of years ago, Ra had a ship. Could have blasted the entire planet if he'd wanted to. Why didn't he?"
There is great silence around the table. We have all stopped eating. Daniel's question is, on the face of it, simple. We have taken the history that we knew at face value and, as O'Neill said a while back, never questioned it. Now Daniel has asked perhaps the most pertinent question of all. What scares us all is that we believe we know the answer. It takes Samantha to voice it.
"He couldn't. Zeus was behind the rebellion somehow. But the Greeks weren't in Egypt," she says plaintively.
"Not in the early days, no. But remember Cleopatra? Last of the Ptolemaic pharaohs. Their dynasty started in 323 BCE. Remember we found the details of Ctesibius' clepsydra in the library? Had to have been put there after his birth in 270 BCE, probably no earlier than 250 BCE, quite possibly a decade or so later."
"Which means?" O'Neill pushes.
"The Greeks were a force in Egypt for nearly 300 years that we know about. Their gods easily became assimilated and were worshipped alongside the Egyptians' own gods. In fact they recognised the Greek gods as their own, only with different names in many cases."
He stops and thinks again and then says, "Alexander conquered Greece in 331 BCE."
"Alexander the Great was possessed by Zeus?" I ask.
"He was a young, vibrant man who went madder as time went on. He had the ability to command people from many nations and make them fight continuously without rebellion for about ten years. It was only then that he died, quite possibly from poison.
"Now, I'm not saying that Alexander was possessed by Zeus. Actually, there is more to his story which suggests not. But the Goa'uld Zeus might have made it easier for him, one way or another. Perhaps by implanting him with another Goa'uld. He did have a bit of a rep for recovering from life-threatening injuries.
"It was only later on, when his support was waning, did that reputation go. Any half-sensible Goa'uld would have 'jumped ship', and quite possibly into the one who did kill Alexander off in the end."
"I thought the Egyptian rebellion was a lot earlier than that time," O'Neill states.
"We're going on records written by a barely literate people on Abydos, and stories from the Goa'uld themselves, which should never be taken at face value. There are no records of it that we've found in Egypt itself. We're pretty positive they turned up about 10,000 years ago. We don't know when they went. Four to five thousand years ago as we originally thought, or two to three thousand years ago? That would cover 300 BCE quite nicely, wouldn't it?"
He thinks for a moment and then says, "You know, it would also tie in with Hathor's imprisonment in pre-Mayan Mexico. Could explain why she went there, to escape from Zeus or whoever it was he'd sent there, but more likely from Ra. He's supposed to have turned against her, after all.
"She didn't know about Ra's death - she didn't know where he was at all as a matter of fact. She must have been in Mexico during, or before the time of the rebellion. We think she was pretending to be Ix Chel who probably later became Xochiquetzal. Now, the Mayan civilisation didn't really get kick-started until about 300 CE, although - and this is the important bit - the first recorded Mayan heiroglyphs date back to the middle of the 3rd Century BCE.
"The Aztecs weren't there till over a thousand years later than that, but memory of her must have continued from those pre- or early Mayan times. And for that to have happened, it must have been a particularly strong memory. Ix Chel was the wife of the supreme Mayan god, a creator goddess - a mother goddess. And those, we've often found to be Goa'uld queens."
"How did she end up in a sarc?" O'Neill asks.
"Perhaps she cheesed off the locals and went and hid? Bear something in mind, Jack. By the time the Aztecs were worshipping her, one of the delightful ways of sacrificing to her was to flay the skin off a beautiful young woman."
Daniel's voice is dripping with sarcasm as he speaks, and we all wince when we hear his words. If it is true that this happened in the name of Hathor, even under a different name, we are all exceedingly glad that she is finally dead. Daniel continues, despite our discomfort.
"This skin would then get worn by a male priest who would pretend to weave. Uh, Xochiquetzal was a goddess of weavers. Now, I don't know if this sort of thing was going on before the Maya turned up, but it could be one of the things that might have made the ancient peoples there turn against her. And unlike her personality as a goddess later on, which was one based on faith in an unseen force, she would have been there in person, so to speak. An actual, physical being. Exactly the sort who could be overthrown one way or another.
"Or it could be something as simple as her running out of luck. That even though she was capable of producing larvae and Jaffa, she somehow ran out of subjects?" he suggests with a shrug.
"How?" I ask.
"A major natural disaster, which she couldn't control, might have caused the locals to lose faith in her and disrupted her rule so she got out of the way till it was safe? Anyway, the more I think about it, the more this time comes up. The only thing I can't really explain is why, in a literate land, which Egypt was for thousands of years before most other places, were there no real records of Goa'uld, or gods, roaming Earth? Only myth-like stories at best."
"Perhaps they didn't allow it?" Samantha suggests. "And aren't there a lot of cases of hieroglyphs being chiselled away from the pillars they were on?"
"Yes! Many. Most are thought to have just wiped out information of various pharaohs who had fallen out of favour, but it could explain why there is no actual data regarding alien spaceships and so on. They might have done it themselves. Uh, Zeus might have ordered it so that he could hide as he ended up doing."
I think I've gotten the final piece of that jigsaw.
"Alexander, when he conquered Egypt, went to Siwa, to the Oracle of Amun. Amun was basically the Egyptian Zeus, by the way, he was sometimes known as Zeus-Amun at temples. Ra was the sun god, Amun was the creator, the father. On the way there, he and his party ran out of water. Not something you want to happen in a desert. Anyway, basically a miracle happened and they got hit with a thunderstorm."
"You're not saying someone engineered one, are you?" Sam asks in disbelief.
"Not in the slightest. Storms do happen. Without them, no oases. But it was seen as a good omen. You must understand that though he'd just turned up as a conqueror, the Egyptians had been under Persian rule for 200 years at this point. Perhaps Baal or one of his henchmen might have been behind that particular period."
"But that takes us to 200 years before your 'revised' timetable for the rebellion," Jack points out.
"I said at some point during that millennium. Remember something else - but this is only relevant if we're right about Hesiod's golden men thing - he was writing sometime around 700 BCE. According to him the golden men were dead a long time before his own time. Long enough time had passed for another three races to be 'born' and then gotten rid of. Anyway, back to the point.
"The after effects probably rumbled on for hundreds of years, maybe nearly a thousand. Yes, there was an initial rebellion, probably backed by Zeus, during the first millennium BCE. More likely nearer the early part of it or even as far back as the late second millennium. Then, around the time of Alexander, it settled down. Hathor got expelled early on, before it all kicked off; then later on, whoever was in charge of the Persians went.
"The guy who'd governed on behalf of the Persians, Mazaces, was more than happy to not put up a fight and he ended up in charge of Egypt on Alexander's behalf - very successfully, too. Turns out he knew when he was onto a good thing - could have been a politically astute human or a typical underling Goa'uld. Whatever, he ended up very rich and powerful.
"Anyway, as I was saying, the Egyptians were glad to see the back of the Persians and basically welcomed him with open arms. There had been a long history of trade and academic connections between the two countries. They actually saw Alexander as a liberator rather than a conqueror, and gladly made him King of the Two Lands."
"Two?" Teal'c asks.
"Upper and Lower Egypt. It's what it was known as. Back to the story. He arrived at Siwa, went to see the Oracle, and, so the story goes, he was greeted by the high priest saying 'o paidion', basically 'oh, my son'. But there was a misinterpretation and it came out as 'o pai dios'. 'Oh, son of Zeus'. Needless to say, that pleased Alexander no end and the highly religious and superstitious around him believed it to be true.
"According to Plutarch, he went into the secret chamber of the temple, something he could do because he was now the pharaoh, and therefore the highest priest, and was said to have asked some questions. Only we don't know what questions. The only hints we have are those given by him. He had said that he would only tell the answer to his mother, and then face to face. But he never made it home.
"He actually believed himself to be the son of Zeus, and he only answered his friends when they questioned him on his exiting the temple as being happy with the answers he'd got.
"Another rumoured question was that he asked about his father - meaning Philip the Second of Macedonia - and if his murder had been avenged. But the priest supposedly cautioned him to rephrase that question. If Zeus was his father, he wasn't dead and so did not need avenging. Yet another thing that went along with his 'son of god' image."
"Could explain why he had so many willing followers," Jack says, then he looks at his watch. "Come on, let's get to bed. It's late, I'm tired, and my head is full of stuff."
I know exactly what he means.
Now I'm naked, in bed, and waiting for Jack to come out of the bathroom. Only I'm not sure I'm happy about the naked thing, and it's got nothing to do with the four feet or so of snow outside. There's something on my arm. It's like a gold bracelet, twisting around my biceps in a figure of eight, something like the symbol for infinity. But it's in the image of a snake, with its tail in its mouth. The symbol for eternity - another way of looking at infinity, I guess.
Jack's come out of the bathroom and he's looking at me oddly. Probably because I'm touching my arm. He can't see it, I'm sure of it, otherwise I'd be being questioned on my acquisition of some new jewellery. And I'm not. So only I can see it. I can feel it, too. If my arm is relaxed, it's tight. If my arm is tightened, the muscles standing proud, it moves with it. I can't pull it off.
I have no idea what it is. Something to do with that time on Thoth's world which I can't remember? There's a fuzzy moment after the guys had gone, and then I was back on the ship. That's all. What the hell did he do? What does this bracelet, amulet, whatever it is, do? Why me?
I'm not going to get any answers and to stop any questions - which I can't answer - coming my way, I think I'd better distract Jack. And there's only one sure-fire way of doing that.
"You know, honey, there's something about Daniel's story that's made me think."
"There are many things in his stories which have made me think, Samantha."
He's not wrong. There's so much there, so many coincidences, so many possibilities.
"What specifically has made you think?" Teal'c asks.
"That thing about the oracle. The one in Egypt. There are many stories about oracles, um, one in Delphi which, if I remember Daniel's stories correctly, was tied to Apollo. Do you think that there was some sort of subspace communication device there? So that the human priests could really contact their gods?"
"Was there not supposed to be some sort of poisonous gas in one of them?" he asks.
"I think so. But if the priests and priestesses were Jaffa, then the gas wouldn't have hurt them. Not in the short space of time they'd be inside whatever chamber was there. It might be why only the highest-ranking priests and so on were allowed inside them. Ordinary humans would have just died."
"It is possible," he says thoughtfully. "We should ask Daniel."
"Tomorrow," I say. "He's pretty hyper at the moment. I don't think Jack would be too pleased if we gave him something to think about. But we should be safe to talk to him over breakfast."
"I agree." He thinks for a moment then says, "It would also add to the theory that Alexander the Great did indeed have a symbiote - either as a host or as a Jaffa, perhaps. Both possibilities would explain his strength and ability to heal. Perhaps he was not poisoned but had his symbiote removed. That would explain why he took days to die. I seem to remember reading one of Daniel's books which stated that to be a fact.
"I also noticed something which Daniel did not, but then he was not looking at the aliens at that moment. On his mentioning of Christ's name, rather than just the name of the religion, both Thoth and Hermes seemed to startle a little, as if it were familiar. Perhaps they know something of that time which could be relevant."
"Could well be, honey. We'll put that to him, too."
"In the meantime, may I put something else to you?"
"Sure? What is it?"
He doesn't say anything but the filthy grin on his face tells me exactly what he's putting my way. I just lie down and smile back at him. I can take whatever he 'puts my way'. With pleasure.
Ya know, despite being tired and wanting to sleep, Danny's being pretty active. Not that I'm complaining. He's stopped fussing with his arm, so whatever that was has been forgotten for the moment. In fact, I doubt he's remembering a damned thing: except how to find his way around my body. That is something which is ingrained, I'm sure.
No matter how much he's made to forget, he ain't gonna forget this. For which I am profoundly grateful. Especially when he does this 'exploring' thing with his lips. I could die a happy, happy man right about now. But a coupl'a decades down the line would be preferable. As long as he's around to keep doing this.
Ah, he's stopped doing it. But the look in his eye now tells me he has something else in mind, and it ain't academic. Probably pornographic, though. Woo hoo!
"Turn over," he orders, so I do.
I'm not one to disobey orders. Well, not ones which suit me. And this one does. He's pushed my legs apart and he's kneeling between them.
"Hold onto the bedstead," comes the next order.
Hokey, dokey, I'm holding. And I'm going to do my damnedest to not let go. It's not easy, especially when he starts kissing me down my spine and then - Arrggh! - bites my ass! I'd already figured that sitting wasn't going to be easy tomorrow but hey, that's just making it more difficult.
"Bastard," I hiss.
"Probably. Kneel up a bit."
He's paying no attention to me whatsoever. So I kneel up a bit. And give him access so that he can kiss it all better. Whoa! He didn't bite there. But then that would be damned difficult - I mean the logistics of getting his teeth there... No, not really possible. However, I am not complaining about what he's doing. No siree. I guess he's just making sure that everything is all right down there. And it is. Man, I love that tongue...
Hmm. I love that other 'tongue', too. His 'lingua, linga' jokes regarding being a 'linguist' may sometimes wash over my head, but there's one I always get. He's one hell of a linguist. As my ass can attest. God, that feels good. Nice and slow. Kinda frustrating in one way, 'specially as I'm not allowed to move my hands so I can't, uh, 'help'. But I don't really mind. Patience is one of my virtues. Honest.
Okay, so I may not be too patient with him when he's launching into a long-winded explanation about something I really do not need to know, especially when he gets side-tracked and starts explaining something I really don't need to know. But this sort of patience, for when he's moving slow and deep, not letting me touch myself, not touching me, just making me feel every millimetre of movement... I have the patience of a saint for this.
Scrub that. A saint I ain't. And neither is Danny. We are both going to Hell and we know it. Frankly, having already been there, it's not really something which bothers us. We've just decided to enjoy the whole 'living thing'. Given that we've both done the 'dying thing' - in his case far too often - living is something we particularly enjoy.
And I am enjoying this. Oh - yeah. He's speeding up. Just a bit, but I know it's a prelude to him getting faster and faster, to him trying to go deeper than it's physically possible for him to do.
You want to come, Jack?
Uh. Not sure.
'Cause then this would stop.
I hear him laughing in my head as I say that. We rarely speak out loud these days when we're in the moment, if I can describe being fucked hard as such. Mainly 'cause we don't have enough spare breath to do it. But being joined like this, I mean in the mental way, makes being joined in the physical way so much better.
If I ever meet Tiwaz again, I'm gonna thank him profoundly. Which will probably freak him out if Thor's anything to go by. And why am I thinking of little grey men right now? Sheesh, my mind is a strange place these days.
Damn! He's stopped.
Turn back over, Jack. I want to see you.
Can I let go?
Till you've turned over, he finished with a wicked grin which I see as I flip onto my back.
He slides back on in there, this time with my legs over his shoulders. One hand is holding my hip, now the other has grabbed hold of my cock. Oh boy; nothing feels better than this. Though sometimes I wish he was flexible enough to bend down and suck me at the same time. Perhaps that could better it.
He must have picked up on that thought because his wicked grin is now a filthy smile. He's pulling back, dropping my legs down a bit and he's curling over. Somehow, he's gotten the end of my cock in his mouth and he's still fucking me. More slowly and carefully, but hell, life does not get better than this.
I can't hold on. No way. This is pretty much every fantasy rolled into one. It beats the one where he ties me up - yeah, I'm now into that, surprise, surprise - and fucks me raw but doesn't let me come and then he sucks me off.
So I do. And while I'm trying to regain some form of equilibrium, he's straightened himself out and he's banging into me hard. I hear the immortal 'Gnaagh!' come from him and feel him fill my guts. Now he's collapsed on top of me.
Whatever it was that was bothering him has definitely been forgotten. I can pretty much guarantee that he's forgotten his name right now. Mainly 'cause I've forgotten my own.
I can try to remember it tomorrow. Yeah, tomorrow, as they said in the film, is another day. Hopefully one which ends as well as this one. But then that is highly unlikely.