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Loose Ends

lacunal epiphany

Summary: Filling in the blanks of the timeline, Daniel suddenly realises something which may have implications for the people of Earth and maybe the Tok'ra. Much pondering on the implications of Hermes' capture and possibly the end of the world. An old 'friend' is needed once again, but will that help be available?

Many thanks to Alph for betaing and putting this up.

And welcome to the world, Baby Alph! May you always want but never need, may you never know suffering but always know how to alleviate it in others, and may you have a long, happy and healthy life.

Teal'c and Sam came up with some interesting thoughts regarding the Oracles and the high priests - and in the Greek case, priestesses - being the only ones allowed into them.

It's true that in Delphi it's thought that the trance that the Pythia, the priestess who gave the answers to the questions posed to the god (Apollo, funnily enough), was caused by exposure to either hydrogen sulphide or carbon dioxide, or more likely ethylene - a gas which has hallucinogenic properties - which comes up from a fissure in the ground. The whole area is prone to earthquakes after all. Deaths of those who were not allowed into the cave - but went anyway - have definitely been reported.

The Pythias were chosen women; sometimes from high-status families, well-educated and literate, other times they were illiterate peasants. If Teal'c is right, then that could mean that some were possibly minor Goa'uld and the others were Jaffa.

Depending on which scholar in this area you choose to believe, the Pythia either went into a trance and spoke gibberish which was 'translated' by the priests - of whom Plutarch was one around the turn of the 1st Century CE - or they actually spoke clearly and in, one assumes, Greek. Was the 'gibberish' Goa'uld? It's a possibility.

Plutarch, in his Moralia, said something like, "Not often nor regularly, but occasionally and fortuitously, the room in which is the seat of the god's consultants is filled with a fragrance and breeze, as if the adyton were sending forth the essences of the sweetest and most expensive perfumes from a spring."

The adyton was the sacred place where the Pythia would go to receive the messages. Also, the description of the scent can be attributed to ethylene, which Sam tells me is the only hydrocarbon to produce such smell. Not that I'd know the difference between a hydrocarbon and a hydrogen-powered car... So it's also possible that the Oracles were nothing other than the history and mythology describe.

But what if there is some truth to this tangent Teal'c and Sam have taken us on? Arawn said that the druids could speak to them, that they were the only ones able to contact the spirits. Trances and speaking to spirits is a common theme throughout the world, especially regarding shamans.

Is it just a bunch of hokum or did the ancient aliens actually leave methods of contacting them with the humans that they'd 'adopted'? Like the crystal skull Nick found? Was that place an oracle shrine of some sort? Short of going to an unexplored site and looking for evidence of aliens, then there's no way we can prove it one way or the other. And that's not going to happen because if it's a site which is known about, chances are it's already been explored or raided, depending on where and when it was found.

The converse is that I can't go explore somewhere we don't know about.

I could do with some enlightenment on this subject.

Perhaps Apollo will know? His ancestor, so to speak, was supposed to have turned himself into a dolphin, jumped onto a Cretan ship (one from Knossos - in other words, these people were Minoan) and after scaring the sailors half to death, guided them to the site at Delphi. The site became renamed Delphi after the Greek word for dolphin.

Of course, this is storytelling at its imaginative best, but the possibility that the ancient - good - Apollo led some people to this site and gave them a way to contact him is not beyond the realms of likelihood.

Teal'c also told me of Thoth and Hermes' reaction to Christ's name. It makes me wonder. That he existed is not disputed. The Romans themselves had records of him from that time - pre-Christian Roman time, so it's not 'we were there'-type post-event insertion of information for propaganda purposes which they were not above doing by any stretch of the imagination.

Besides, the Romans who came later and were Christians couldn't have been too pleased with what their own ancestors had done to the poor guy.

Now, I have no idea whether he was the Son of God or not. I would never try to persuade a true believer (and by that I mean someone who actually follows his teachings) that he wasn't the Messiah. I have, as I said, no idea. No evidence one way or another. I don't believe he was - but then again, I don't necessarily believe he wasn't. I just haven't been convinced either way.

Oh, the joys of agnosticism. I sit on the fence so often I have massive metaphorical splinters right throughout my ass. I should have been Canadian, not American. One of my Canadian friends once told me that fence-sitting was a national sport there, and I believed her. She could never seem to be solidly on one side or the other... I'm digressing again. But with a big mental smile as I remember her.

I must get back on track, however. This is important.

Those of faith state that faith needs no evidence and to be honest, I agree. Sam has some evidence that the Big Bang happened, but barring the laws of physics which work 'backwards' to a certain point in the universe's history and then stop, and projecting further back in time by educated guesswork (and don't tell her I phrased it that way!), she has no proof that it actually happened. That's why it's called the Big Bang theory. Not fact.

There are alternative ideas, such as the multi-brane one which states the possibility that the universe that we know 'sits' on a 'brane' (like a membrane) and that the bang came from the collision of 'ours' and another one. There is mathematical evidence to back that up, apparently. There's also mathematical evidence to show that we live not in a four-dimensional universe (three directional, one time) but in a ten, eleven or even more-dimensional one.

Having said that, even if the maths work, there's no way to prove it one way or another because we can't see it. Although I am speaking as someone who has gone to another universe and therefore has more than enough proof for my own purposes. It's just the whole 'science says this...' thing which those with no alien 'backup' can state as categorical fact.

Those scientists who are working on M-Theory, with the strings and branes and so on, are really only going on a hunch and what the maths tells them. Wish I could tell them they're on the right track.

This is one area where Sam really gets my frustration at being unable to share my knowledge of true history. Normally, she can share anything she can prove. But without exposing the gate and all that will entail, she has to sit on one of the most astounding facts which could blow the study of physics wide open.

So, under 'normal' circumstances, whether one's a follower of the Big Bang or the Big Clap or Crash or whatever it was, it's pretty much down to a matter of faith in one or other theory. Is that so different from religious faith? I'm not sure. I don't think so.

Back to the point: Jesus existed. Whether he was the Son of God or not, he was a teacher who had similar philosophical leanings to many of the best teachers there have been, such as the Buddha (who had been around about five centuries before him), and later, the Prophet Mohammed and then more modern ones such as the great Mahatma. Be nice to everyone, be charitable, share your wealth, do no harm to others, don't fight... Whether one's religious or not, you've got to say that's a darned fine way to live a life.

I don't know why I'm so reluctant to say what needs to be said, especially given the reaction of the aliens. I mean, isn't it perfectly obvious? If I were religious, I would undoubtedly dismiss the thought immediately, but I'm not. I'm a rationalist. I follow facts.

Okay, I have my own brand of faith, I suppose. A belief in the good of people - a not dissimilar set of standards to those of the true Christians and Buddhists and so on and so forth. Though these days, I'm prepared to break one of my own strictest rules and kill.

That's the one I have the most difficulty with, both morally and emotionally, but let's just say I've been driven to it and I think that even those great men would understand my failings on this score. They probably wouldn't agree with it, actually I'm damned sure they wouldn't, but I think they'd understand. And hopefully forgive me.

I've been quiet over breakfast and now I know all eyes are on me. They want to know what it is I'm considering but I'm not sure if I can say it.

There's one last thought. When I said 'He', in regard to God, in the presence of Ogmius, he reacted in an amused way and so I 'corrected' myself and said 'She'. Was he just teasing me? Or is this downright obvious thought actually true?

Daniel has been most quiet since I told him of both Samantha's and my ideas. He agreed about the possibility of the Pythia being a Jaffa or Goa'uld. He also told us that one of the myths is that during the Dark Ages of Greece, between about 11 and 9 BCE, Apollo became the 'new' god of prophecy and drove out the two serpents who guarded the sanctuary. He even told us that there was an omphalos there - in fact there are many scattered around the region. Large stones with carvings on them.

This could undermine his theory that Omphalos - the meeting place - became renamed Olympus, but then again, it may not. As he said, nothing was standardised at that time, let alone writing. The carved stones may well be copies or just representations of Olympus (perhaps that was once named 'Mount Omphalos'?) in the same way that there are any number of primitive carvings of pregnant women, presumed to represent Mother Nature.

Before we got too enamoured of the idea of Apollo being involved with the setting up of Delphi and the driving out of the serpents, he did remind us that it was only one of many stories regarding its creation, some of which have nothing to do with Apollo at all. Still, knowing the history of Earth as we know it, perhaps there is more to the story he told than meets the eye.

He also stated that it is possible that the second Apollo drove out two 'good snakes' and took Delphi as his own. Given the dating of the supposed event, it is not impossible that that is the case.

But now he is quiet and quite distressed for some reason. Our food has been eaten but none of us have moved, waiting as we are for his words. There is something there but he is distinctly reluctant to speak. Finally, I think that O'Neill has lost patience with him.

"Come on, Daniel. Speak," he orders. "I know you don't like what's on your mind but, as my grandma used to say, it's better out than in."

Daniel looks at him with a wry smile. "This is a profoundly disturbing thought," he says quietly. "You can't compare it to a saying regarding excess gas."

"Oh, I don't know," comes the reply. "You talk enough hot air as it is. Ow!"

I believe that Daniel has kicked him under the table.

"Yeah, well, much as I know you think my ideas to be nothing more than brainfarts, this idea is too damned obvious to be dismissed as such."


Now O'Neill's voice has gentled. I think he has finally grasped how distressed Daniel actually is. Or maybe he had already done so and used his teasing to get Daniel to speak initially. I think I have underestimated O'Neill once more. Given my age, I should be past doing such things, but it seems that I still have much to learn about people, the Tauri especially.

Daniel's voice breaks into my thoughts and it is quite an abrupt tone from him.

"Think, Jack! What happened on Easter Sunday?"

"An angel descended, scared the bejee... um, living daylights out of the guards, the earth shook, the stone from the sepulchre rolled back and from inside the tomb, Christ had disappeared," he says casually, obviously familiar with the story from his own very religious upbringing.

"An angel. Describe the angel. Quote the description, because I know that you can," he says in what can only be interpreted as an order.

"His countenance was like lightening, and his raiment white as snow." Again, O'Neill starts casually but as soon as he finishes quoting, his eyes open wide. "An Ancient?" he all but squeaks.

Daniel just shrugs. I think I now understand his reluctance to speak of this subject. It is one thing to deal with the ancient, no-longer active religions, such as the belief in the old Egyptian or Greek gods. It is quite another to bring such a revered man into this realm - and a man revered outside of his own following by even non-religious humans.

I also remember that despite the god's no-so-nice character, Daniel had bristled at the thought that a current Hindu god - who changed sex and became a goddess in their stories - had been taken over by a Goa'uld. Nirrti is still part of that great pantheon, whether loved or not.

But this... It would be proving that the highest, most perfect being, the creator of mankind to most, if not all major religions, was in fact an alien - or at least a very ancient human, if Daniel's theory regarding the evolution of life on Earth is shown to be true. Not only that, it would undermine the whole idea of God being the only creator. It would be upsetting at the very least, highly insulting as an idea to many people.

And given what Daniel has just pointed out, the idea that God may well be a manifestation of the Ancients as a whole, or just one in particular - Oma Desala perhaps - then that knowledge could cause great anguish to billions of people and possibly result in mass conflict as all that they had believed in would be wrong.

One thing I have observed in humans is that when they are proved so wrong, they often have a tendency to resort to violence as if to destroy the knowledge which contradicted them. Daniel has spoken of many 'book-burning' events throughout the ages, all designed to eliminate an idea and wipe it from the pages of history.

And religion - regardless of its origin or belief-system - has the potential to stir up great anger. This thought, even if it is proved absolutely to be accurate, must not be allowed to enter the Tauri stream of consciousness for now. First, they must be introduced to the fact of alien existence. Then, over time, the stories of how the aliens were on their planet must be leaked out.

When a few generations have passed - and again, if this is proved to be true - the knowledge can be made public. Even then there will likely be much anger, but by then it should be muted slightly. I put this point to the others and get silent nods of agreement in return.

"You're right," Samantha says quietly. "There's no telling what damage this could do if it got out."

"I agree completely," Daniel answers, also very quietly. "But does that mean we stop looking into it? Just because some - okay, a lot of people believe in some supernatural being? We just stop looking for the truth of the matter just like that?"

We look to O'Neill and see his own discomfort. Until the loss of his son, his own faith was intact. Perhaps it wavered from time to time because of the dreadful things he had seen, but losing his child in such a manner turned him against his God. But though he calls himself an atheist, I doubt that underneath it all his faith has entirely deserted him. He should not have been so angry with his God and turned against him had his faith not been so strong.

He also knows that his family would be hurt by the knowledge if it leaked out. They are religious - his brother is a priest. They dealt well with the knowledge that aliens exist; Father Patrick O'Neill even shrugged and said that if God could create humans once, then why not create aliens too? As it says in his Bible - God created the Heavens and the Earth. He has always been of the belief that that meant there was more than just the Earth as a place of habitation within the universe.

He even put forward the suggestion that something - or someone - had triggered the Big Bang (a theory he accepts without reservation), and that that someone could easily have been God.

Even Samantha could not argue with him over that possibility, as there is no way to prove or disprove it; and as she herself said, it is as good an explanation as any other she has heard. Given that most physicists will not even offer an explanation for the start of the bang, she has not heard that many feasible explanations. I feel that if she had not been so involved in the history and technology of alien species, however, she might not have been so accepting of it as an idea.

It is strange, but for her the more she learns, the easier it is for her to accept the possibility of there being a one true God. Her own faith has strengthened despite, or more likely because of her knowledge. Perhaps, however, in her case it is as much a hope that there is a being out there who will one day eliminate the evil that we encounter on an almost daily basis.

And underneath it all, there have been a few occasions - more than a few really - in which we needed a 'miracle' to survive, as O'Neill has often stated. That we are still living, whole and well, might go to back up his theory that we have been recipients of such miracles more than once.

If so, then who or what caused our good fortune? A coincidental turn of events to our favour? Once or twice, that might be an acceptable thought, but we have had many more than two such 'coincidences'.

Back to the thought of the impact of Daniel's suggestion. Would someone, even one as easygoing as Father Patrick, live with the certainty that his God was not the Creator as easily as Samantha accepts the possibility that He was? I doubt it, somehow, and I can see that O'Neill doubts it too.

One thing about Daniel is that he doesn't exactly think small. I see where he's coming from. Completely. I agree with his logic. Totally. I also see why he's so distressed by the thought of it becoming public knowledge.

Undoubtedly, one day the info about the gate will get out there. The people of Earth will find out what we've been up to. Some won't take it well, but I reckon most will get over themselves - some sooner than others, but they'll get there.

But this... I can't see them accepting it. I just can't. But as Daniel says, should we stop looking for the truth? Will it make any difference to what we're doing right now if we do? I ask the others and get blank looks in reply. I guess it's up to me to come up with a compromise.

"Okay, how about this. We stay open-minded regarding this but there's no real reason - as yet - to dig further. Should there become a reason, we'll look. Should we come across any info, we'll take it on board. But as we've been discussing, this is one area where the truth may hurt more than, well, not a lie as such but a lack of information. Sometimes, it's better to go that way, I think. Are we agreed?"

I look around the table, one at a time. Sam nods slowly, as does Teal'c. Daniel just shrugs. He's agreeing, I can tell, but this one has knocked the stuffing out of him.


We cleaned up our breakfast things in near silence. It's weird - none of us are truly religious, yet this has, as Daniel said, disturbed us deeply. I think it's because we don't know why we're feeling like this.

Me? Well, could be my upbringing. Similarly for Sam. Teal'c has no investment in this whatsoever but even he understands the potential ramifications. Better than most, I guess, given that his own upbringing included seeing his 'god' regularly, and then finding out that the one he had served loyally was, in fact, an evil parasite.

Okay, there's a world of difference in the goodness level here, so perhaps it was a little easier on him, but still... When you've been brought up not just to believe in but to know a god, it's got to take the wind out of your sails to find out the truth.

Daniel, however, is the one who's really shocking me. And I mean shocking. He's always been the one to make leaps of... well, uh, faith. Could have picked a different way of describing it, I guess, but can't think of one.

He's always been the one who's prepared to go down those roads less travelled when it comes to things academic. Be on the outside, not even looking in but looking further out until he finds the absolute truth. And when he does, he accepts it no matter what, even if it hurts him. I'm just not sure he's going to be able to do it this time.

He's disappeared down to his study. We should be thinking of ways of finding Zeus, I guess, but it's like it suddenly doesn't matter. It does, of course it does, and as soon as we've gotten back on our feet we're going after him. Trouble is, we don't know where, or how, to find him.

Has he stayed in America or moved somewhere else? Is he in someone who was close to Kinsey or has he moved on? Did he move down the food chain, or worse - up? Or has he taken another path entirely?

This religious thing has gotten me thinking. As Daniel pointed out, Kinsey is a religious fundamentalist. Zeus wouldn't have decided to take that particular route, would he? Or wouldn't he? Why wouldn't he? He must have picked up on the fact that some of those TV evangelists have a heck of a lot of influence up on the Hill. But then does that equate to your actual power, which is what he wants?

Although that whole end-time thing that Danny reminded me of... The good guy who gets millions, if not billions on his side, and then turns out to be the Antichrist. Could that be too much of a temptation for an egoistic megalomaniac? Plenty of TV airtime, the chance to make a fortune out of the desperate - and often desperately poor; the chance to get into the homes of not just the USA's TV viewers but any country's with all the satellite stuff that's going on.

Yikes - just had a scary thought. The Goa'uld can heal people, can't they? Right there, in front of everyone. Hide the healing device under a glove or long sleeve or something, any light that comes from it could be 'the light of God', and hey presto, 'rise up and walk, my son'. Could even bring some of the dead back to life. Now that would get people's attention.

Question is; how do we find out if this is happening? God only knows that enough charlatans are on the TV doing pretty much the same thing using healthy stand-ins. So if, and it's a big 'if', it's going down that way, how would we tell which one it was? And if we're looking in that direction, the sneaky snake could be slithering up the greasy political pole and right into the White House.

Now that is a really scary thought.

I wouldn't have thought that questioning religion would stun the four of us so much. After all, what have we been doing all these years? Fighting 'gods'.

Okay, the majority are no longer worshipped, but still... There's always been this element of unreality regarding them. Even regarding our allies or just those we call 'friend', such as Oma and Orlin, Ancients no doubt, though we still haven't proved that to be the case. It just makes sense given that Thoth agreed that the Ancients were the Ascended ones and it's a bit too much of a coincidence otherwise.

Anyway, they, or rather there were ancient humans, or at least ancient people from Earth. We've found their city and the gate. We've found records of them; and every physical indication we've found of them shows them to having been humanoid at the very least.

If Daniel's theory that they used our ancient ancestors as lab rats - and that thought still makes me shudder - then they must have been quite closely related or else what would have been the point?

In summary - to myself if to no one else: as a humanoid species they therefore definitely existed, and probably still do, though in their ascended form. If Oma is one, then they also look or looked like humans in a way, as they do even when they're doing their floaty thing. Only Oma's face gets seen, for example, but it's a human face. Is she making it that way to make us feel better? Or does she really look like that? Makes sense that it's her face because Orlin didn't find it hard to be human...

I don't know how I missed it. He 'descended'. He must have returned to his original form. Mustn't he? If so, they were human. Daniel was right. It's probably neither here nor there in the great, grand scheme of things but I'll bear it in mind.

Daniel's in his study and I'm going down there to talk to him. Trouble is, I don't really know what to say.

"Hey," I say as I enter the room. It's not much, but as an opener, it should do.

"Uh, hi," he replies, but very distractedly.

"What are you doing?"

He's gotten lots of paper and he's sticking it together. So I could say that I can see what he's doing; thing is, I want to know why.

"Oh, well, I wanted to make some sort of timeline and a single piece of A4 just isn't going to cut it."

I see. He needs a long piece of paper, but more to the point, he needs it wide so that he can go off on genealogical tangents if necessary. More than one thing happened at any given point in time after all.

"You want any help?" I offer.

"Uh, yeah. I could do with some."

"How big?"

"Well, let's make it as big as the table for now. Then I want to find some clear wall and stick it up so that I can start working on it. If the wall is big enough, I can add more paper if necessary."

So I pick up some sheets of paper and get some tape and before long, we're quietly working together. Trouble is, I can't really keep quiet.

"Why is the thought that Jesus might have been an Ancient, or at the very least, helped to ascend by one so disturbing to you?"

He looks blankly at me and shrugs.

"Not really sure. I've said in the past that any of the Goa'uld who continue to use names of gods who are still worshipped, especially in the particularly non-violent religions, really get to me. We haven't come across many, sure, but there must be others out there.

"It sickens me that perhaps there's an innocent, say, Hindu worshipper making sacrifices they might ill afford to some god or other, only to find that that particular god, whether he or she existed in reality or not, has had that ancient identity taken over by the personification of evil.

"Having said that, the Ancients are not evil, or even bad that we can figure. Okay, Oma wasn't good news for Apophis' Jaffa, but she was defending Shifu - and us, I guess. Those Jaffa weren't going to stop for anyone or anything other than Apophis' orders. And he wasn't going to give them. But apart from that, we've only seen acts of kindness.

"Yes, we believe that Oma was banished from the Others about whom Orlin told us, as was he, for not sticking to the party line, so to speak. But there's a world of difference between doing that and harming them. Given Oma's powers there's probably no limit to the evil they could do, but, at least in Orlin's case, they just banished him to teach him a lesson. There's no harm in that sort of attitude, is there?"

He looks at me and I nod in agreement, but I let him continue.

"I get the feeling that Oma bends the rules somehow. That monk was human - I'd stake pretty much anything on that. So why was she helping a human to ascend?

"And why help Shifu? A carrier of so much evil inside of him. Sure, he was a baby at the time, and anyone with an ounce of compassion in them wouldn't want to harm a child, especially one so young. But she must have known where he came from and the capacity he had - has - to change back to Goa'uldish ways. So I do think they're generally good," he finishes as he sticks the last piece to the others.

"They helped Orlin re-ascend when he'd learned his lesson," I add. "They couldn't have been too angry with him if they did that."

"I agree. They have an agenda: what that is, I don't know. But I don't think they have it in them to be evil."

"So saying that, why so upset?" I ask again.

"I really don't know. I suppose the questions are, was Christ really the Son of God? Was he an Ancient who had come back to teach humans how to be nice to each other? - because God knows, if you'll forgive the term, we need reminding on a regular basis. Or was he just a good man, a great teacher, whom the Ancients felt deserved a chance at an immortal life?"

I shrug. I can't answer it. The last option doesn't sound so bad, but it would undermine the faith of the many who believe in him.

The first one - well, that's purely down to faith. I somehow doubt we could ever prove that one way or another and I'm not sure I want to. Similarly, the second point. And who is God? A real supernatural being? Or an Ancient? As Daniel reminded me earlier, Ogmius hinted that God was female. Oma?

I get the feeling that putting my earlier thought to Daniel at this moment isn't going to be helpful so I don't go on with that and attempt to get his mind back where it was before I barged, um, walked in.

"What are you going to start with on this?" I try instead, pointing to the paper.

"I'm going to put down what I know, well, what has been written about Zeus, Ra, Hathor and so on and try to tie it into the rebellion and factual history. See if we can't come up with some sort of believable timeline."

"What about the Furlings' experiment, the ship, the Ancient's city?" I ask. "They are so old..."

He hums and haws then says, "You said you found an element which you could date between six and seven million years ago, right?"


"But there's nothing we've found as yet which could help us date the ship or even the experiment."

"We've gotten a sort of date for the experiment," I remind him.

"Yeah. But the more I think of it, the less likely I think it is quite that old. Tell me, were there any signs of other power sources?"

"No power sources giving off signatures," I say. "But I didn't get a huge chance to go over the data because Teal'c brought me back here for my birthday." I smile as I remember that and he smiles back at me.

"Help me get this stuck on a wall somewhere, please, then go back over the scan."

We pick up the huge sheet and some tape and look for somewhere to stick it. In the end we go out to the corridor and attempt to put it on one of the smooth Tok'ra tunnel walls. Not an easy task but we're getting there. With lots of tape.

"What do you think I'll find? What should I look for?" I ask as the last pieces of tape go on to secure it.

"I'm not going to say what I think. You should look at it with an unjaundiced eye. See if there's anything which doesn't fit. If you can't find anything, I'll come and look to see if there's anything which fits my idea. If not, then perhaps it really is that old."

I get the feeling he knows something I don't. Which is not unusual.

This is not making any sense whatsoever. I'm looking at known human history first and then I'm going to try to tie in what we know and what we can guess at regarding the Goa'uld.

But there is so much confusion. I'm beginning to wonder again about the timing of the rebellion. I still think it was later than we first believed, but, there is still so much human - and more to the point, recorded history in that region from before that date that I am doubting myself.

And what's frustrating me is that all of my evidence until now has led me to believe that we'd gotten much of the dating, especially in Egypt, wrong by a couple of thousand years, but in the other direction. That's what started me off on this whole stargate adventure of mine. But I have to go with facts for the moment. Things I have absolute evidence for. Then, and only then, can I try to make sense of it all.

Let's go back to say, the fifth millennium BCE. What happened on Earth then? Pottery and the use of copper were already long invented, so we were well on the road to technology. The wheel got invented in the Near East and urban societies started to bloom in some parts of that region, like Anatolia in modern-day Turkey, and Mesopotamia - modern Iraq.

Farming really took off as... well, as an industry, I guess. The hunter-gatherer was on the way out in the most populated areas of Earth, and the static farmer was even by then well established.

Were aliens behind any of this or did we just do it ourselves? Why couldn't we do it ourselves? If we could go from the first manned flight of a few seconds to landing a man on the moon in less than seven decades, I reckon we have the ingenuity to do all of this without outside interference.

There were any number of settled cultures, mainly in the eastern Mediterranean area, India and China at this point. The Australians had been an artistic culture for tens of millennia by this time, longer than most other human groups - and art is one of the defining human characteristics, as opposed to our hominid relations.

Back to the point - even as far back as 5000 BCE, maize was being planted in what is now Mexico. Writing systems were being developed during this millennium. Again - were they alien scripts or purely human, or a mixture of both? I don't know. I just don't know.

Then onto the fourth millennium.

The first date in Mayan chronology was some time near 3200 BCE - at least the first date in this sub-cycle, supposedly the last according to them. They based it on the cycle of the Sun lining up with the Galactic Centre, an ultimate cycle of 26,000 years give or take. Each shorter cycle was broken up into about 5,200 years.

They reckoned the gods created animals and plants first, then effectively got bored with them. Then they created men of mud who had no conscience so they got rid of them. Then it was men of wood who couldn't move and therefore couldn't survive. Next it was men of amber, who also couldn't survive. Finally it was the men of corn, made from the maize plant I seem to remember. That's us. And that part of the calendar ends on the winter solstice in 2012.

I know some people think that's going to be the end of the world but they miss three vital points if they think so. One, it's only the end of the galactic cycle (and why didn't the world end 26,000 years ago last time it happened - and 52,000 years ago, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, if it's so important?). Two, mankind's been around for a hell of a lot of these cycles and gotten over any disasters in that time. And most importantly, three; if the Maya were so smart, how come they didn't predict their own downfall?

Hey ho, some people will believe anything.

Uh oh. Five creations? The fifth race? Where have I heard that before? Coincidence? Possibly. Probably. Get back to the timeline, Jackson.

Other calendars were being developed elsewhere in the world; massive, complicated structures in stone were being erected all over the place, some for regular building purposes (houses, temples and so on), others were astronomical. From the Orkneys to Egypt; and that's just in that neck of the woods, so to speak. There's a lot of similar stuff in other places of the world too.

Uh oh - the Naqada culture on the Nile happened during this thousand year stretch. Naqada - naquada? Another coincidence? I doubt it very much, especially where it was based. The first known hieroglyphs were found in a tomb at Abydos dating to the middle of the millennium. That's not a coincidence. That's got to be more than one. This is the late predynastic period, but there were rulers, kings - and gods.

A burnished jar dating to around 3200 BCE from a tomb in Abydos resides in the British Museum. It's not a basic piece of terracotta-type pottery, but sophisticated and beautiful. And it's over five thousand years old. And made at a similar time to the beginning of this Mayan cycle, come to think of it.

A faience tile was found in Djoser's tomb: the step pyramid, the first known one. I say the first known one because God only knows if the desert hides others, or other earlier ones were built and later destroyed. That was from the middle of the next millennium - quite a while later in human years but a great leap in technology for the time.

Back to the fourth - the Chinese had already figured out how to make silk. SILK. Sounds petty? Nuh huh. Just think, Daniel, think. How would you know to even begin to produce it?

Sure, you might get the idea that there might be something you could do with the thread of the silkworm, but to work out how to get at it as efficiently as they did? Then to weave such fine threads into incredibly fine but also phenomenally strong cloth? Over five thousand years ago? Could you do it now? Without an instruction book - or even with? Not a hope in hell. But the Chinese did it all that time ago.

Again I ask myself: did they figure it out or were they shown? My heart says the first. My head is starting to wonder. At the moment, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt because the Chinese have long been proven to be particularly adept at developing new technologies, and long after the Goa'uld had been a power on the planet, too. I don't want aliens, good or bad, to have had any hand in any of these incredible advances made during this time.

Human arrogance? Maybe. Arguably. But perhaps not.

So the fourth millennium saw leaps in technology all over the world. Dams, drainage, sails, silk, pyramids, pottery, the plough... The basics of every technology used today for decent living. And this is a fraction of what went on then.

The third is interesting for a different reason: sure, there were developments and improvements in technology, the Bronze Age for a start, but this is when we see the dynastic era really beginning in Egypt, and not only there. This was the millennium of war, of conquest, of rulers with iron fists.

The world population is thought to have doubled at this time. Doubled. Not just increased but doubled. That's a lot more people in a comparatively short space of time. I know it's happened again in the 20th Century - in less than a hundred years - and on a far greater scale, but better medicine and surgical procedures, increased availability of food, the eradication of smallpox, even such programmes of encouraging the birth rate to rise must 'take the blame' for the majority of that.

The third millennium BCE didn't have this - not that we know of anyway, so it must be down to general improvements in health and expansion into new, previously uninhabited territories, especially agriculturally, allowing for room for the increase in population. Not to mention cities - real cities as we would recognise them - were on the increase at this time.

According to all written history and datable evidence, the great pyramids of Egypt were being built but it's only now, or should I say 'then', that the pharaohs started describing themselves as gods. Only then. NOT in the eighth millennium when Ra was supposed to have turned up. Five thousand years later, in fact. Were these just humans with massive egos or were they, too, inhabited by the unspeakable creatures?

I still have this inkling that the Great Pyramid is older than we can date it to. Was there perhaps one there before it? What if there was? Okay, the pyramid, as I remember saying to the others on Thoth's world, is a reasonable shape to build if you want to go big. It's more stable and easier to 'roof'. But until the Djoser one, we haven't found evidence for any real attempts at building in that style.

Were they copying one which Ra had had built thousands of years before and which, by then, was possibly dilapidated? Did the god-pharaohs want to copy their gods' designs?

And why, at this time, were the real megaliths being constructed around the world? Like Stonehenge, among many others. What was so special about this time?

Did Ra rebuild his pyramid, perhaps? If he was still around, taking over one pharaoh at a time, much like we think Zeus has done since, he might have decided to 'improve' his original. That could fit both my current theories. The pyramid was indeed much older than we thought, but the one that's there is only as old as it seems.

It might explain why the Great Pyramid is where it is, on the Giza Plateau, 50 miles from the pyramid of Khufu's father. Given that Khufu's sons later built theirs near the Great Pyramid, why did Djoser build so far away - or to put it another way, why did Khufu build so far from Djoser?

Short of some sort of animosity between father and son, or if the father had a really bad rep, it was pretty much always the case that the son would wish to be associated with the father in one way or another - and usually by being buried nearby. Was it, in Djoser's case, purely because the 'old' pyramid was still there and not just because Saqqarah was a traditional burial ground? He wanted to copy the 'gods' but didn't dare get too close.

Could he have reigned in Ra's stead during a time when Ra was 'elsewhere' and wanted to copy his boss? Then Ra came back and gave permission for the others to build nearby? Or as Ra took over each descendent as hosts in their turn, he built more for the sake of it? For the landing of other, smaller ships? Another 'possible', I guess.

Then there was the drought throughout the Middle East that's thought to have ended the Old Kingdom, among other civilisations, starting about 2200 BCE. Lasted 300 years. Lots of turmoil.

Oh fuck. I think I've got it.

Daniel has just appeared in the kitchen, carrying a book and some papers, calling on his communicator to Samantha to come quickly and as a result of attempting to manipulate the device on his wrist, he has dropped what he was carrying. I seem to remember days like this back at the SGC, when he had something so very important on his mind that nothing else was noticed.

"Danny? What's up?" O'Neill asks as he pushes him to sit down before he hurts himself, then picks up the scattered papers.

"Uh, I've got it."

"Got what?"

"The timeline. Revolution. Even Zeus' part in it, I think."

"You think?"

"Well, short of going back in time and watching the events unfold, resurrecting Ra and asking him, or tracking down Zeus and getting the info from him, then yeah, thinking is about as much as I can manage at the moment."

O'Neill rolls his eyes in exasperation. When Daniel is desperate to impart information he often speaks in such a manner. A noise from outside alerts us to the fact that Samantha has appeared from the tunnels via the rings and is now entering the living room. She makes her way over to the table, as curious as us as to what we are about to find out.

"So?" O'Neill pushes. "What have you worked out?"

"Remember I said that the revolution probably wasn't a single event?"

"Sure. Not certain how that works but..."

"Jack!" Daniel is quite abrupt as he interrupts. He seems to need to just speak and to let us figure out what it is he is saying later on.

"Sorry, go on."

"Thank you. Now, about 2,200 BCE the Old Kingdom in Egypt came to an end. Until then it was the time of the building of great pyramids, the pharaonic structure was at its peak, Egypt was a phenomenal power - and what's perhaps more important, the Old Kingdom saw the start of the pharaohs being seen as living gods.

"But, about this date something strange happened. First of all, a drought occurred. Now, that's not so unusual in and of itself. As you've seen on Abydos, the river fails to flood on the odd occasion and as a result, famine sets in.

"The Nile flood is known to fail every so often. It's been measured that a drop of just one metre could cause unimaginable devastation. It happened - it's what allowed Napolean to conquer Egypt so easily. The people were devastated by hunger and could not effectively find the strength to fight back. A lack of just one metre of waterborne silt, and the related volume of water itself, negated that year's harvest almost completely. So like I say, it's not unusual.

"BUT. What was unusual at this time was that this drought lasted 300 years or so. And that's not all."

"What's not all?" Samantha asks, enthralled by this strange storytelling session as much as the rest of us.

"Well, as you could imagine, a drought that long is more or less unheard of. Sure, climate changes happen, but they tend to have longer-lasting effects. They go on for thousands of years, like the ice ages; still geological-age blips, so to speak, but on a human scale, that's a long time. Or, there are short-term ones; occasionally triggered by something like a large volcanic eruption affecting the atmosphere.

"For example, I've found out some more information about the Theran explosion which triggered the decline of the Minoan civilisation. It was so massive that it did change the climate for about a decade - but - it also improved rapidly thereafter. They've even found a change in tree rings in Ireland which shows that this is the case. This 300-year period just doesn't fit in with either the long- or short-term scenario."

"Surely there is a natural explanation?" Samantha insists.

"Natural? Possibly. It might have been a wobble in the Earth's axis for example. There was definitely a volcanic eruption in Turkey at the beginning of the drought, but, it's since been proved that it, on its own, could not have affected what was in effect a local climate for such a time, and certainly not for the length of time it lasted - and it's not likely to have affected Egypt or the other extreme parts of the area which did suffer this change.

"Bear in mind where the Nile starts and therefore where the yearly flood starts to collect its water - it's a long way away from Turkey."

"You have another idea," O'Neill states.

"Possibly," Daniel repeats. "Hear me out."

We all nod, anxious to hear what else he has to say.

"Like I said, it wasn't only Egypt which was affected. There was a massive drought in the entire Levant region and beyond; one which destroyed the Akkadian empire. It had been a highly-successful regime based around the Euphrates, but it started in about 2,300 BCE and only one hundred years later, it was the beginning of the end - and there is no known evidence that it was because of 'bad management' so to speak. Those people were good administrators and we have evidence to show how organised they were.

"There is, however, definite proof of city abandonment in Mesopotamia, from Iraq right across to southern Turkey, at exactly the same time as there are records for this disaster in Egypt. Akkadian citizens abandoned many settlements and headed south, possibly initially because of the volcano but it doesn't explain the continuation of the abandonment over such a long period of time. After a while, they were attacked by the Amorites, a non-farming people.

"Eventually, over the centuries, the power in that region ended up in the hands of the descendants of those attacking Amorites. But, simultaneously with the start of this period and throughout it, there is evidence of other migration, mass abandonment of settlements, severe drought and so on all the way from Greece to the Indus Valley. And in each and every place some populations just disappeared, leaving no trace."

"They were taken away from Earth?" I suggest, remembering Apollo's words about the good Goa'uld as well as the bad taking Tauri throughout the galaxy, in some cases to protect the humans.

"It's at least a credible theory," he says with a sigh.

"So, what does this have to do with the revolution?" O'Neill asks tentatively.

"Like I said, it's the length of time of this climate-change event that's gotten me thinking. A thousand-year drought? That's not so unimaginable in some ways - some patches of ice ages got better or worse over periods like that and that would affect climate even in places with no ice.

"A ten-year drought - even a thirty-year drought; they're not impossible nor even improbable. But a three hundred-year drought? Why? It doesn't make sense. Not naturally. Unless there really was what would effectively be a short-term wobble of the Earth's axis. But if that happened, why wasn't there a 300-year climate change everywhere else? There's no evidence that I have which states that there was one.

"I don't know about the rest of the Earth because I only studied the Middle East. I knew about this one, I knew its extent, but I can't find any information in any of my books regarding it being elsewhere. Which is frustrating because my gut tells me that if this were a natural event, it would be global.

"What I do seem to remember is that all the historical and archaeological focus is on the drought in this area and not anywhere else, which also leads me to believe that it was not a global event. All I can say for definite, though, is that I have no proof either way on that matter, just a whole heap of conjecture based on what I know."

We cannot answer this as none of us knows what the facts of the matter are.

I remember him telling me of localised climate changes in some regions, such as near the end of the Mayan civilisation, but much of that had been brought on by themselves as they had cleared the forest, not understanding how it would affect the local rain patterns. But I also seem to remember him telling me that after the abandonment of those Mayan cities, the forest came back and reclaimed its space and the weather returned to normal. This climate event did not last as long as 300 years, if I remember correctly.

Other short but catastrophic changes can be ascribed to such natural phenomena as El Niño. Civilisations and cultures collapsed, but the effect was geologically brief. This length of time, as he states, has an element of suspicion about it.

"If it were not a natural occurrence," I say, "then what caused it?"


His pronouncement is quite stark and brings us to total silence.

It takes us a while to let Daniel's last word sink in. I mean, Zeus? How?! I ask him. When he answers, he's not quite so manic, but more quiet like he was over breakfast.

"Just putting things together, Jack. Ra came and went from Earth - we're pretty certain about that. He had a large ship. It wouldn't make sense for him to stay there all the time, would it? I mean, why would he have the ship otherwise?"

We stay quiet, just shrugging and nodding in agreement. He's right. Ra wasn't reliant on the gate like those snakes without transport. He really could come and go at will. And if the Great Pyramid was a landing place for his ship... What else could he have done? It's the only thing that makes sense.

"Zeus, on the other hand," he says, "does not appear to have had one."

"Why do you say that?" Teal'c asks.

"Why would he have one? He's been on Earth all this time, even during periods of what must have been frustrating quiescence for him. Surely he'd have left the planet, even temporarily, if he had a ship? Why would he have stayed otherwise?"

"I see," Teal'c says thoughtfully. I guess it makes sense.

"So how did he change the weather?" I ask.

"The Hermetic Scripts. Simple," he shrugs. "Oma created thunder and lightning. God only knows what she's really capable of. Snow in the tropics? Equatorial temperatures at the South Pole? Who knows?"

"So why didn't the Ancients stop the snow taking over their base in the Antarctic?" I ask.

"Because at that point they hadn't ascended and didn't have their current powers," he replies with a certainty that makes me wonder if he's guessing or knowing this.

"The point is that if Zeus was not as powerful as Ra - and even if he had the Jaffa, without a ship he wasn't going to be that powerful - then he'd need something to hold over him, wouldn't he?"

His eyes open wide as if he's just joined another couple of dots.

"That's what triggered the whole exchange thing," he murmurs. "It has to be."

"What has to be?" Sam asks.

"Think about it. The plague, illness, disease, whatever it was, was raging among the snakes on Earth. Ra's got the sarc. He's also probably got the only decent ship. Not only that, he's in control of the gate. Zeus steals the Hermetic Scripts - possibly in the beginning to find out if there was some sort of cure for the illness. After all, these scripts were supposed to contain such amazing knowledge, including medical stuff."

"Stuff?" I tease.

"Technical term," he agrees with a smile, then his face goes sad again.

"He couldn't have found what he was looking for but in the meantime, he found at least three things. One, if the myths are to be believed, he learned how to change shape - become a changeling in effect. Having said that, that is the one of the three things that is mostly guesswork on my part. It's also possible that that came later... Hmm, actually, it probably did as I think about it. That would have taken a lot more effort on his part with probably the least chance of an immediate payoff, and, it would seem, he was in a hurry to get something to hold over Ra.

"So the more important were the other two; the first of which was the genetic change to create Jaffa. As we've said before, putting all the larvae of a queen into a chamber is really like putting all your eggs in one basket. At that point, the only thing the Goa'uld could do was to reproduce as quickly as possible and then put the larvae somewhere as safe as they could - and to do that, they needed to split them up.

"Because of one thing you can be sure: any enemy of a given Goa'uld was going to attack a larval chamber whenever the opportunity presented itself. By putting each larva in a separate position - in other words, inside a Jaffa - it made it much more difficult to undermine a single Goa'uld's position.

"As a beneficial by-product for the Goa'uld, they created themselves a large, strong, superhuman and more to the point, devoted army. The one thing that Ra might not have had at that point."

"Surely he would have had some soldiers?" Sam asks.

"Probably underling Goa'uld in charge of humans, or, or... or Unas. King Unas was supposedly the first king of the Egyptians. Could have been a general in Ra's army - a Goa'uld equivalent of First Prime," he says, nodding towards Teal'c.

Teal'c frowns, then we see that he's dredging something up from the recesses of his mind.

"I had not heard this folk tale in many a year," he says thoughtfully. "But there is a story, told by grandparents to their small grandsons usually, to make them want to be fearless warriors. It tells of how the greatest god of all once had an army of non-Jaffa creatures, who were primitive and dishonourable but dauntless in battle, who would even eat their victims if they could. And how, over time, the gods created a race of even greater and stronger warriors, whose honour was always intact and who fought with the ultimate in bravery, never flinching in the sight of the enemy.

"Part of the story was that this race was chosen over the original army because of the honourable way they fought. There was a famous battle between the two so that the god could choose between them. The honourable warriors won. That race was, of course, the Jaffa."

"It might have been a folk memory from a battle against Ra's Unas," Daniel ponders. "Such a battle would have prompted Ra to want Jaffa of his own."

Then his face drops as the moral implications of the story hit him.

"It became a story which taught you that the Jaffa, above all, were the greatest soldiers ever to exist so you as an individual had to live up to that fearless reputation and not leave the battlefield, no matter how afraid you might be in reality," Daniel says softly. "To have run away would have brought dishonour on yourself and your family, something that no Jaffa would ever want to do."

We get the predictable, "Indeed," from Teal'c, who then shuts up again, his face still frowning in thought. Possibly thinking about all those poor Jaffa who had, in effect, been tricked into fighting, and of how many died as a result. Don't think we'll mention that.

"So, what was next? That second, um, third thing or whatever number it was you eventually decided on?" I push, trying to get the details and getting a scowl for my troubles.

"Somehow, Zeus learned to control the weather in the affected region. He'd have wanted to cause a drought in Egypt, and probably Mesopotamia which was probably ruled by Goa'uld allied to Ra, so as to level the playing field, so to speak. Unfortunately for him, he also affected the region that he was top dog, er, god in. Greece, through Anatolia and right across the northern part of what we'd call the Middle East and into western India and Pakistan."

"Which might have been how he ended up injured? He might have hacked off one of his followers?" I suggest.

"That or he got that injury in a battle with Ra before this all kicked off." He frowns to himself then nods. "Yeah, that makes more sense. Apollo said he only knew that he'd been injured, not how or when, except for the fact that Ra hadn't yet taken over the Earth and that the Goa'uld as a whole were still roaming the planet.

"What if there had been a battle between the Jaffa and Unas and during it, he'd gotten himself hurt? Gula would have been around at that time; like I said before, she was in Mesopotamia. And even though it seems that this battle was probably won by the Jaffa, or there was some sort of truce at the end of it, something would have to have triggered off a fit of pique which ended up as such a despicable action."

"Despicable?" Sam prompts.

"Sam, what happens when famine lasts longer than even a couple of years? How will the people in a region - those who for whatever reason cannot leave it - act?"

"Riots? Civil war?" she suggests.

"There is evidence of that," he says quietly. "But there is also evidence, written in the tomb of a fairly well-to-do Egyptian from further south, about the horrors to be found, particularly in the Nile Delta area."

"And?" she asks tentatively.

"Among other things, they ate their own children."

A collective shudder goes around the table. Makes me wonder, when the repulsiveness of the thought has settled in, how they just didn't die out if that was the case, but he probably means that they were just - if I can use that word - eating the corpses of the already-dead kids and those that survived into adulthood became the future. Although the thought of that makes me sick to the pit of my stomach.

I look at Daniel's face - don't need telepathic connection at the moment - and see that he believes that children were probably murdered for this purpose. Nope, as with Teal'c's sad thought, I'm not going to mention that either.

"So this pushed Ra into talking?" I try.

"Eventually. Initially, he would have just disappeared. Probably took some people, like the ancestors of the Abydonians, and went and lived there for a while. It possibly made it easier for him to take a willing population away - they'd have been grateful to get away from the famine, only they didn't know that it was out of the frying pan and into the fire. Instead of the possibility of moving around from one place to another on Earth, they were now enslaved and unable to go anywhere else to get away from him.

"Anyway, he'd probably have to go back to Earth every so often to make sure he was still in charge of that region and most importantly to him, the gate. The famine wouldn't have affected him at all. At least not until the people, not only in Egypt but throughout the areas allied to him, were so desperate that the rebellion started, probably some time around 1900 BCE. They would have lost faith in their gods. After all, why should they believe in a god who wouldn't help them?"

"How did he put the rebellion down? I mean, you reckon it took ages for it to fall into place."

"He came back, talked to Zeus, agreed to the exchange of information - even with the famine he wouldn't have just given the sarc over with nothing in return; especially as Zeus' own alliance would have been on distinctly shaky ground at that moment. He would have had a stronger hand than Zeus would have wanted.

"In the end, all the snakes got both the sarcs and the Jaffa. Zeus stopped whatever it was he'd started with the climate change, things went back to normal and the New Kingdom and other civilisations flourished for a while.

"Then, over time, Zeus would have been sowing the seeds of rebellion again in Egypt. Each time Ra would leave Earth, he'd probably go to Egypt and try to prompt action. Ra might have made the mistake of leaving it too long to return?" he suggests, then with another thoughtful frown he nods. "Hathor."


"Yeah. He sent her to put down a rebellion. She didn't succeed, somehow - possibly via the machinations of Zeus - ended up in the Americas. Became Ix Chel. But with her failure came Ra's failure.

"But it might have backfired on Zeus, too. At a guess, he wasn't there when the final, successful rebellion took place. So when the Egyptians buried the gate, he couldn't find it and he, along with any number of other snakes, were stuck on the planet. Some had smaller ships - had to have, otherwise we wouldn't have found the Christian settlement on another planet. Hermes said he didn't think that the snakes knew about the Antarctic gate, so the only way off the planet was via ship."

"And Zeus wasn't welcome on them," I put in.

"Given what he'd put the various followers of even his own allies through, and therefore by definition, his allies themselves, I can't say I blame them for leaving him."

"Me either," I agree.

Not sure how all of this helps us, but at least now we might actually be able to think of how to track the vile bastard down.

After Daniel's thoughts, we've all been quiet again, trying to come to terms with the whole scenario. One thing we're agreed on: we must find Zeus. We can't rely on the SGC's snake-hunters. Not for this one. He's too dangerous.

And though we can't let on to anyone on Earth who isn't the General or Janet, we're the ones with the only chance of doing anything against him. We know more; not only stuff in general but about him in particular. We're also stronger than most humans. We're telepathic. And Daniel...

Well, who knows exactly what he's capable of these days? He doesn't. Some form of telekinesis, but only if he's desperate for it to work, or so it seems. Could he do anything else to protect us from someone who might be able to control the weather? Who can confine an ethereal being? If he can imprison Hermes, what in Hell's name could he do to a human? Ugh, don't want to think about that, but perhaps I might have to.

We're eating lunch, but none of us have much of an appetite. We're only eating out of habit, I think. The habit of sitting around the table, eating and chatting, which dates back to our earliest missions at the SGC. Just how were we going to approach each new challenge? Ideas would be thrown about; some ridiculous, some sensible - we usually had a laugh at some point.

But not today. Today, there is no humour.

Daniel's mentioned something sickening, reminded us of something he'd already told us really. 'Bad' Zeus of legend had a rep for rape.

He'd change himself into an animal and rape women, like Leda and the swan or Europa and the bull - ew! He could even change himself to look like another man, such as Alcmena's husband.

The product of that rape was the birth of Herakles and his twin brother, though the twin was supposed to have been her husband's son, according to myth. Not sure how that works, but then as Daniel says, don't pay too much attention to the details of some myths, just the general theme. And this theme is a double one: that of change, and that of rape.

He's not averse to raping men, either. That's Zeus, not Daniel, naturally. Ganymede was supposedly a beautiful youth whom Zeus, by taking the form of an eagle and swooping down to Earth to get him, abducted or 'rescued', depending on which source you're reading. The story goes that he was taken to Olympus where he 'was beloved' of Zeus.

Daniel says to ignore the Victorian prudery in the translation and take it to mean what it probably meant. He was his lover - or bed-slave.

Either way, he was so enamoured of the youth (possibly even a boy of about 13 or 14) that it ticked Hera off to the point where she killed his family, making the Trojan war even worse. So Zeus took him away and set him among the stars in the constellation of Aquarius to protect him.

Did he have access to a ship or to the gate and there was a gate address there? Possible, definitely possible. Especially if it happened long before he ended up stranded on Earth.

Or it could all just be a fairy tale.

Whatever - Daniel's point is that we should be extra-specially careful. The thing about never, ever trusting a snake? This goes double for Zeus.

As an aside, Daniel thinks that might have been the final push, along with the drought, for Hera's 'defection' to Morrigan. She definitely fell from grace at some point and that might have been the point.

Uh oh. Jack's gotten a look on his face which tells me he's thinking of something that I'm not going to like.

"Jack? What's up?"

"Uh, just ruminating as I eat," he says, trying to lighten the atmosphere but failing.

"As long as you don't bring up the cud to chew, then carry on," Daniel replies with a wry grin on his face.

Okay, that made me laugh a little, but only because of the image I suddenly got of Jack with a pair of cow horns on his head. Let's not go there, shall we?

"What are you thinking of, O'Neill?" Teal'c all but demands.

"Safety first," comes the reply with a shrug. "Uh, Sam, this is personal and all, so tell me where to get off if you want, but did you want to have kids? I seem to remember you saying you didn't."

I must admit that has come as a shock, but undoubtedly he has a reason for asking.

"No, I don't. Teal'c and I have discussed this. He has Rya'c, I've never been particularly maternal. I'm happy to be stepmom, I guess, but that's it for me."

"Okay. Teal'c, you're sure you don't want more kids?"

"Positive, O'Neill. Why do you ask?"

He's silent for a moment. Speaking to Daniel? Possibly, but I'm not certain. Finally, he replies.

"Ah, it's just that shit has a habit of happening to us. Physical stuff."

He means rape.

I've been lucky over the years. There have been a few occasions where the guys have gotten me out of such a situation in the nick of time, or I've been just about able to get myself out of it, but as I said, I've been lucky. We - I mean women in the forces - get trained to deal with it. At least trained to deal with the idea of it, I guess. Who can predict how anyone would actually deal with it?

No matter how academically you can view the act; no matter that you know that it's about power and not sex, that your body - especially, but not exclusively, as a woman - is likely to be used as a tool against you if you are held in captivity, you will never know what it's really like unless you go through it. How horrendous. How dirty you will feel. How helpless. How weak.

All of the reassurances that you would hear after the event that you are a survivor and not a victim, in no way to blame, in no way pathetic or feeble or undermined as a 'warrior'... It must be dreadfully hard to believe all of that. To believe that those around you won't look at you differently, because you know that the entire base will find out. And, for the most part, will get angry on your behalf, which could be just as demeaning if you were to take it the wrong way.

By that I mean by thinking that they believe you're no longer up to the job; not for the real reason that they've seen a colleague - a friend - hurt and purely want revenge as if to assist you in your healing because there's little else they can do and they, themselves, feel guilt for not preventing it in the first place.

But there will also be a moron there; some crass, insensitive troglodyte, who is going to be cracking 'jokes' and commenting about it. There always is.

As a civilian attacked by a stranger, well it's got to be one of the most terrifying and shocking things you can go through - and one of the most devastating.

As a soldier, sailor or airwoman, you know it's probably coming if you're captured. That it's just a matter of time before it happens. And that it'll probably happen quite a lot during a single period of incarceration, so don't just batten down the mental hatches for an individual event, gals, but entirely shut your mind off for the whole time of your captivity or else you'll go insane.

Easier said than done. Much, much easier said than done. Personally, I've never managed it. I've always been terrified of the idea of it, though I've never - or rather I've tried never to show it.

Wonder how Daniel's feeling right now? I can sense that he's holding back his emotions. He's been raped. More than once. Doesn't matter that it was by women, it's the same thing. No way did he want it, he was forced. Drugged first time out, though I know he has some memory of it, and forced into doing it to protect me the second time.

That was hard for me to bear, but he shrugged it off and said it was just sex and that he wasn't really with it because of the sarc. I don't believe it. It hurt him. One way or another, it hurt him. It hurt me too.

And what of Jack? What happened to him in Iraq? Did he get raped? He won't say and I won't ask, but if he did it's got to be preying on his mind, especially after Daniel's warning. Because Zeus has powers we can't envisage, he's got to be considering that if we get captured by him, that's going to happen again. To him, to Daniel - to me.

Would he do it to Teal'c? A Jaffa? The Goa'uld don't see them as human, they see them as subhuman. A disgusting thought, but one which might protect him in a perverse way.

Teal'c once told me that any Goa'uld found having sex with a Jaffa would be put to death in as horrible a way as would be imaginable, though mercifully, he didn't go into too many details. The Jaffa, naturally, would lose his symbiote and then would be staked out on the ground, a sort of crucifixion on the floor; naked, exposed to the elements and the derision of his own kind. He would die a dishonourable death - the worst kind possible for a Jaffa.

So, in a way, I hope that Zeus sees him like this. As I said, perverse as it sounds, it might mean that he doesn't have to face up to this possibility.

"Uh, I think I might go see Janet," Daniel says suddenly.

"Why?" I ask, though I'm thinking the same thing. I need my contraceptive implant to be updated soon. Probably better to do it sooner rather than later. Just in case.

"Kebechet is a queen," he reminds us quietly.

Ah. Having been forced to father snakes in the past, he doesn't want to be able to do it again. He looks at Jack who nods back at him.

"I'll go with you." Then he grins. "Knowing the Doc, she'd find the right doctor to do it then make sure she got a ringside seat."

Daniel just thumps him.

Samantha? What are they speaking of?

Um, a vasectomy, Teal'c. It means that neither of them will be able to father children - or Goa'uld larvae for that matter.

Ah. I see. A wise precaution.

Yeah. But do yourself a favour. Don't talk to them about it. In my experience, men are really uptight when it comes to 'the snip'.

'The snip'?

It's a sort of nickname for it. The tube, um, the vas deferens, which carries the sperm gets cut. Or rather it's sort of welded together. Don't ask, I add when I see his eyebrow raise. That's how it was described to me. Anyway, human males are often even reluctant to take their male pets to get neutered. They see it as taking away some element of their own masculinity - I have no idea why. It's not supposed to affect men's ability to have sex, just stops them reproducing. Although for animals it's worse.

In what way?

Um, they get their testicles removed so that their sex-drive is also, um, neutered. So to speak. It acts to calm them down and stops them being so territorial.

He says nothing for a moment, then I hear, Ouch.

It takes all my self-control to not laugh out loud. Instead, I kick him under the table.

Having dealt with that pretty scary thought, we now need to move on - in more ways than one. If I dwell on the fact that I've decided to get a vasectomy, I ain't gonna go and get it.

I mean, it makes perfect sense. Up till now, I hadn't given it a second thought. Not like I could get Jack pregnant. Though with the weird shit that happens to us... Yeah, definitely going to get it done. I am not thinking of this. La la la la la - no brain, it's not... ew. It's there. An image of Jack, ready to give birth. Why do I think like this? I hate my brain on a regular basis: now being one of those times.

Anyway, the next subject that's come up is another thought that Jack had earlier. Where is Zeus? And by that, he means which way has he gone? Politically 'up the ladder'? (Oh boy: another weird image just flashed into my mind. A game for the SGC. Goa'uld snakes and political ladders. I really really hate my brain sometimes.) Back to the thought in hand, er, mind - has he gone the religious route? Jack's reasoning is sound. And it scares me.

Oh God. The Mayan thing...

"We have an absolute date by which he must be found," I say, getting everyone's attention.

"What?" Jack puts in.

"December 21st, 2012."


"It's the end of the Mayan calendar, for this cycle anyway." I go on, explain about the whole calendar system and see the idea percolating its way through the various heads around me.

"But what's that got to do with a religious fundamentalist?" Sam asks.

"Look, most 'end-timers', religious or not, are mixed up at best. They follow any and every 'lead' they pick up. Many believe - truly believe - that Nostradamus predicted that the turn of the millennium, give or take a couple of years because it didn't happen on the date it was supposed to," I say wryly, "is going to herald the end of the world. Any number of other so-called prophets and seers also marked this time as the end time.

"Not one of them accepts the fact that the same thing happened at the turn of the first millennium and were all proved wrong," I add with a shrug as I think of the ridiculousness of it all. Then I continue.

"But, when someone discovered that the Mayan calendar ended on this date, no matter that all of the previous things, the so-called history of human creation that the Maya wrote was bunkum, they've fixated on it. Doesn't matter that we have proof that global warming is our fault and that we can do something about it if everyone puts the effort in - it's the end of the world as we know it and nothing can be done, according to them. It's a sign.

"It's supposedly in Revelations, the I Ching, the Mayan calendar... Everywhere they look they find what they're looking for. Every earthquake, flood, hurricane and so on is being seen as a precursor to the end of the world. Doesn't matter that we've had worse things like supervolcanoes in the past, asteroid strikes, massive floods at the ends of the various ice ages... This is it.

"And to cap it all, the Antichrist is supposed to turn up about now. He's going to start out as a great leader, get a massive following, then he'll show his true colours but by then it will be too late."

"As you mentioned on Thoth's world," Teal'c puts in. "The cult followers are being primed to believe anything that they are told, and then will be told to follow the one."

"Exactly. And if Zeus is 'the one' and there are other, Seth-like cults, it's not going to take much of a push in his direction. Bear in mind that there's been a massive increase in such cults over the past few decades, any number of which may be connected to Zeus.

"Anyway, as Jack says, all he needs is some TV time, some ability with rhetoric, perhaps his fake miracles... He's going to get an international following in no time at all. Then he'll turn against one or perhaps many of the other religions of the world. They'll fight back, and what's going down on Earth at the moment is going to seem like child's play.

"He'll keep out of it, nuclear bombs will undoubtedly be used at some point, and in the end, he rules the Earth as being the only leader to survive. At least, that's how he's probably got it planned. Whatever is actually in his plans, we need to do one thing immediately."

"And what is that?"

"Get him off Earth, Teal'c. I'm thinking that killing him isn't going to be as easy as killing the others - and you know that some of them had a habit of coming back from the dead on a ridiculously regular basis. Apophis made me look like an amateur at the resurrection thing," I say, trying to get a smile out of the others. All I get back are frowns. Oh well, that one didn't work.

"If he gets off Earth, he may well be able to get himself into a position where he gets hold of a ship and is able to return," Teal'c counsels.

"I know. So we need to find a way to stop him. Just haven't worked out what, yet."

I'm also not sure I should tell the others if I do think of something. Don't know why, but there's something nagging at me to keep this plan, should I get one, to myself. Perhaps it's gotten something to do with the armband thing. Whatever, this is going to have to be played carefully.

"Just remember what I said on Thoth's world. We can't fight him with technology - at least tech he doesn't already know about or possess. As Shifu taught me, the only way to defeat evil is to deny the battle."

I'm not totally sure about that as a philosophy, and maybe I can find a way around it, but in the meantime, I'm running with it. I push the issue of finding him again.

"So, how are we going to find him? There are so many TV evangelists, often with the 'qualities' we're ascribing to Zeus - and that's if he's going this way - that we can't just go back to Earth and watch TV, channel-hopping in the hope that we get a clue. And as you said, Jack, what if he's actually in someone in the White House or the Pentagon or the UN? We might end up looking in the wrong place."

"Could ask the SGC to do just that?" Sam suggests.

Jack shakes his head. "Nuh huh. What if he's got a spy there? If he's in someone who's in the NID, God only knows if word about knowledge of him would get back to him."

"Then how?" I demand.

Jack thinks for a moment, then his face sort of drops and sort of smiles. What that means is that he's thought of the perfect answer but he doesn't like it, and neither will we.

"Jack?" I push.

He shrugs.



I've stopped banging my head on the table. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I have a piece of bread stuck to my hair. Will someone tell me why I got up this morning? Please?

"Quite finished?" Jack asks.

"Yeah. Just about. Are you sure about this?"

"Sure? Who else do you know would sit on his ass and watch TV as a means to gather information - and more to the point, do it willingly and get paid to do it."

"Paid? Who's going to pay him?"

"We can," he shrugs. "We're not exactly short, are we?"

"True. But there's a price on his head," I remind him.

He waves his hand dismissively.

"I'll speak to the General. He can speak to the President. I'm sure something can be arranged. Besides, he's been out of the loop for quite a while. That's an advantage for two reasons. One, he's going to see those he knew before and he's immediately going to be able to tell if they've changed. I mean, you rarely see a change which is happening before your eyes, do you? But he's going to notice if someone's a lot more nuts than before."

There are murmurs of agreement regarding that. You never see someone close to you getting old, for example. It only hits you when you see a photo taken a few years before and do a compare and contrast when you actually see the changes. Get a visitor you haven't seen in a few years and they often say 'you've changed'.

"What's the other reason?" I ask with a sinking feeling.

"Bet he can't wait to get off Kheb. He's got to either be lonely as hell or if Shifu's been with him, he's been going nuts with all the Zen shit. He's going to be desperate - and if he's desperate, then an offer to go back to Earth and watch TV is going to sound pretty damned good."

I sigh. I can't bring myself to agree or disagree. I can't come up with a better idea. Dammit.

"What about the political side of things?" Sam asks.

This time I do have an idea.

"I'll talk to Paul. He has ears in all the right places. He'll also probably have a list of all the visitors to Kinsey by now. If there were any political players on the list he'd surely find out if they were starting to act differently. Not to mention Kebechet. She's got to be around somewhere. So an influential politician with a new secretary possibly? Or some new female in a position of power connected to him. Maybe of Egyptian descent, but I wouldn't say that was a definite. If he's prepared to change hosts, so will she.

"But she'll be in someone young enough to still be attractive, I'm sure. Goa'uld are very vain. Not to mention that because she's a queen, there's every chance that whichever host she is in must have been of reproducing age at the point at which she was taken over. Not that I'm certain how Goa'uld reproduction works," and not that I want to think of it..., "but it seems to make sense that, in this case, the human she's in must have the right sort of hormones in place, so to speak, at least to begin with."

They see what I mean and agree, so we decide to head to the SGC. Sam calls up Frankie on her subspace comm - I want one of those, as do we all, so they're going to make them for us at some point - and tells her where we're going with a brief rundown of what's going on.

It turns out that they're up to their eyeballs in their own mission and won't be back for a few days, which is a pain. But, it seems that they're finding stuff out, which is a good thing. So we're on our own on this one. Shame, really. Hope they come home soon. I'm missing them.

We are now with the Tok'ra. Our conversations with both Doctor Frasier and General Hammond were most productive. In fact, Doctor Frasier arranged with Doctor Warner, the base's surgeon, to do the operation on the men immediately. Apparently it was a quiet day and the operation can be done quite quickly and under a local anaesthetic.

However, both men were very sore after the event and so have turned to the Tok'ra and the healing machine to take away the pain. Neither man is particularly forthcoming on what happened during the operation so I shall take Samantha's advice and not question them.

I do not think that I should like to go through the procedure myself, so I am just hoping that I will never be in the position where it might be advantageous to me. Needless to say, we are not dwelling on this afternoon's events.

Regarding Samantha, she discussed the possibility of a similar thing for her, but that procedure is more complex. Again, recovery time would be improved by the aid of the healing machine, so it should not affect her ability in the field for more than a short time, but she is of the opinion that it might make her life a little easier, especially as one of the results of her reduction in age was to apparently extend her fertile period by at least a decade.

In the meantime she has had her contraceptive implant renewed, so the chance of motherhood is now greatly reduced. This is a relief for us both. Much as there have been the odd occasions when I have felt that a child would be a welcome addition to our family, it is a totally impractical option.

Hammond has agreed to speak to the President about Maybourne. He thinks it may be possible to come to an equitable arrangement, as long as Maybourne does not try to do anything illegal. Again.

Now that the men have recovered, we are speaking with Athene, Apollo and a few others who have knowledge of Zeus. All we are saying is that we have had intelligence that he is on Earth and we wish to know more of his character before attempting to capture him. We questioned Selmac on the nature of Kebechet but she says that Kebechet was nothing more than a minor player, a wife to a supporter of Ra and possible supplier of larvae for Ra's Jaffa. She disappeared about the time of the revolution.

Daniel did gently question Selmac on the Tok'ra's part in the revolution and it seems that they were not in existence during the time of drought, though genetic memory from their 'mother' did tell them that there had been a time of turmoil. It was one of the things which had turned Egeria against the most senior Goa'uld as they did nothing to assist the poor people of Earth.

Selmac did not mention Zeus as having a part in this, so either Daniel's assumption that he was behind it was false or that only certain, highly-ranked Goa'uld knew what had really happened. Given their predilection for keeping knowledge to themselves and never wishing to be seen as weaker than other Goa'uld, that is a very real possibility.

It was only when Egeria spawned her first larvae was she in a position to start the Tok'ra organisation. During the drought she had not yet developed as a queen. It seems that Goa'uld must be of a certain age before that happens, much like human adolescence it appears, but over a much greater time span.

The story of their birth states that she chose a good man as father - as had been presumed by our discussions with Apollo - but until recently the Tok'ra themselves had not connected the two things as being important. It was believed that Egeria, herself, had chosen to imbue her offspring with a desire for justice and goodness.

Whether that had any real effect is debatable, because Hecate would not have chosen such a course of action and so it would not explain Apollo's nature. Perhaps that is just part of Tok'ra legend: much like the folk tale taught to me about the Jaffa's warrior nature.

The reason Daniel asked the questions as gently as he could was that he believes that the Tok'ra were not as effective as they themselves believe. He is of the opinion that Zeus' actions were more instrumental in the overthrow of Ra on Earth and the Tok'ra were merely pawns in his plans and he used them to his advantage. If that is the case, he will know of the existence of the Tok'ra.

At the moment, that is not a problem. However, if he gets off Earth he may well turn against them. Should that time come, we shall warn them. Until that time, we shall say nothing. There is no point in frightening them for no reason after all.

And the thought of Zeus seems to scare them. Even Athene, now that she knows that he is alive and well, is afraid, and he was supposed to be her father. Apollo is staring hard at Daniel, as if he is willing him to stay away and keep safe. As time passes, I am more convinced that this Goa'uld - for that is what he is in reality - actually has the capacity for genuine love.

Though I am not empathic like my companions, I can almost physically sense the worry in Apollo and his eyes speak of great love and concern. Even though I knew the Tok'ra to be more open regarding their emotions, especially concerning their hosts, I do not think that I had grasped that it is not just fondness that they hold for their hosts but the love of, for example, a married couple.

In some ways that is exactly what their joining is: a marriage. But in their case it is also a marriage of mind, body and soul. And though Apollo was with Daniel but a short time, and though he had done everything he could to not blend with him, his love for Daniel is nothing if it is not genuine. I sense that there is nothing in this universe which could make him deliberately hurt Daniel and that he would rather die to protect him.

I have never known that of a Goa'uld and had only heard of it when Jolinar died to protect Samantha. It is, considering my upbringing, quite a shock.

Daniel is now speaking to Apollo away from the others, their voices low and Daniel's face is flagging great urgency while Apollo's speaks of great distress. I move a little closer to hear them, at the same time watching out to make sure that no one else gets close.

I feel they wish to keep this conversation private and while I have no desire to intrude, my curiosity takes me further than I should really go.

"Daniel, you can't go after him," Apollo is insisting. "He's insane. He was mad before the sarcophagus turned up. Remember what we said about how Hera was deemed mad at that time? Could you even begin to imagine what Zeus was like? He was worse. Far worse. No Goa'uld, good or bad, would have much to do with him. At least none who were not forced to."

"You think Kebechet has been forced to be his queen?" Daniel asks thoughtfully.

"Are you listening to me?!"

"Sh, Apollo, of course I'm listening. We'd already worked out that he was one of the worst there had ever been, just from the myths and what we'd heard from Hermes."


"Ah. Look, it's not that we want to keep anything from the Tok'ra, but we don't think that this knowledge getting out just now is going to do anyone any good. It might send the rest of them into a panic."

"Would you tell me?" Apollo begs. "What you've already said is scaring me. And why are you so determined to be the one to find him?"

"Okay, I'll tell you, but promise me. Until we say it's okay, it can't go past you."

"You have my word. No matter what it is you tell me, no one else shall hear of it."

"Thank you. We met Hermes. The Titan. The original."

Apollo is silent for a moment. From my current position I can only just make out his face. It looks surprised.

"Go on," he urges.

"Do you remember you told me about the writings held by the old alien races on Earth?"

"Of course."

"Well, the Titans held one part of it. They became known as the Hermetic Scripts."

Again, there is a silence, then I hear in barely more than a whisper, "Zeus stole them?"

It is Daniel's turn for momentary silence, then almost as if defeated he says, "Yes. Hermes took a long time to track him down, but when he did Zeus had already mastered some of the technology or techniques or whatever it is that's in it. He captured him. Think of it, Apollo, he confined what is in effect a ghost. A spirit. Not solid. It took until recently for Hermes to escape. By then Zeus had already made his way to America, or so it seems. We have only a short time to get him off the planet before it's too late."

"What will you do with him? What will you use against him?" Apollo demands, though his voice is still quiet.

I can see Daniel shrug. "Haven't got that far yet. We're working on it."


"Apollo, we must. If we don't he will destroy the Earth."

"If you try he might destroy you."

"I know. Believe me, I know. All I can say is that I'll do my damnedest to prevent that from happening."

There is another silence then I hear, "You had better. I shall be furious with you if you get killed."

Daniel laughs a little at that and then I see him open his arms. They embrace as if they shall never see each other again. Perhaps they shall not. As Daniel turns to go he says, "Apollo, if the worst happens, please do me one favour."

"What is that?"

"Take care of the Abydonians, please. Go with Erlick first. They've met him. They trust him because he was one of the Tok'ra who brought them water. Ask for Kasuf and Skarra. Tell them I love them, that no matter what, nothing will change that, and that I've asked you to watch over them in my stead."

Apollo has turned and now I can see his face. There are many tears in his eyes, his cheeks are wet. In the end he says, "It shall be done. But don't put me in the position where it shall be necessary."

"Promise to try," Daniel shrugs.

That is all he can do, I suppose. I step back and into the shadows. I am not sure if imparting the knowledge was the wisest decision Daniel has ever made, but I do believe that Apollo will keep his word. And of all the Tok'ra here, he is probably the one who is best placed to take over the fight against Zeus - should it become necessary.

We're back home. It's been a long day. We were going to go to Kheb to talk to Harry, but we need to hear from George first. No point in getting Harry excited about going back to Earth if the President doesn't want him there. And it's not going to be easy for George to get that permission. We had to make him understand that he can't, under any circumstance, speak to anyone about our worries. I mean, what if the snake's already in the Oval Office? Not necessarily in the President (and that would be spine-chilling if that were the case) but in one of his assistants.

Danny didn't speak to Paul, either. We're going to see if plan A is going to work before setting the rest of it in motion. Hammond can start the arrangements if necessary and he's going to call us with the word 'go' over the comms so that no one understands what we're talking about.

So it's going to be a matter of waiting. I don't like waiting, especially when I know there's an insane snake on the loose. It was bad enough waiting for Hades to make his move, but from what we learned today, Hades was pretty much a reasonable, sane snake compared to Zeus. And that is a seriously bloodcurdling thought.

One good thing to come from the day is the fact that while both of us got, well, snipped, the healing machine only took a few moments for it to do its job and neither of us has any pain. According to the Tok'ra medic, or whatever he was, all the tissue and so on and so forth is back to normal, so the warning we had about not having sex for a while doesn't apply. Which is a really good thing.

Though please don't ask how they found out that the operation didn't get reversed, so to speak. Given that we're still not 100% sure how the machine worked, we reckoned it was probably a good idea to check. All the little fishies are gone - at least they're not swimming in the stream. That was embarrassing. Seriously. I've had to give specimens before, but behind locked doors, if you know what I mean. The Tok'ra don't have doors. Not a single one. They may not want them but I do.

The look on that female Tok'ra's face when she walked in on me and Danny... Nope, not going to think about that. Although under different circumstances, that could have been funny, especially as they keep saying that there is no embarrassment regarding sex or bodily functions. I think she gave the lie to that one.

There's been a lot of "let's not think about this" going on today. As Daniel gets into bed, I can see that he is thinking. Maybe I can do something to change that.

"Hey," I say as I get in next to him.

"Hey," he replies suspiciously. Then he rolls his eyes. "Doc Warner said..."

"Ah! The Tok'ra put that right, remember? Are you feeling any pain?"

Before I let him answer that, I lay one of my best kisses on him. The sort where he has to start breathing through his ears. I can hear him moaning from the back of his throat, his body is squirming underneath me and I'm definitely reacting. Which is another good thing 'cause it means the damned thing still works.

Rubbing against him, I realise that the same applies to him. Which is an even better thing in my book. Finally, I let him breathe properly. Well, it's more of a long gasp, followed by a few shorter pants, followed by a groan.

"Nope," he says with a wicked grin. "I'm feeling no pain."

"Well, ain't that a relief," I say and start again.

This time, he gives it back to the point where I'm on my back and doing the moaning and squirming. And breathing through my ears. Neat trick if you can do it.

He breaks off for a moment so that we get some real oxygen and not just the imaginary stuff we've been working with for the last few minutes. I get a great idea, look into his eyes and say, "Fuck me."

He shuts his eyes, gulps, opens them again and I can almost see them flash. Did he rejoin with Apollo when my back was turned?

"Back? Front? Side?" he asks.

"You decide."

"Decisions, decisions. Hmm. Do I get to see your face or your sweet ass?"

I look over at the wardrobe, nudge him to look at it and he realises that there's a mirror on it. I see a twinkle in his eyes as he remembers similar times.

"On your knees," he murmurs. "Face the mirror."

I get what he's saying - it's not like we haven't done this before - and I assume the position as quick as I can. He doesn't hang around but grabs the oil, kneels between my legs, pushes them apart as wide as they can go and then slicks us both up and slides on in there. It takes all of my self-control to not howl. Every sinew is being stretched, every muscle, every fibre. I feel everything so intensely that it's like I've taken something to enhance my nervous system. Haven't, just feels like it.

Maybe it's because I'm so pulled apart and everything feels so tight that he feels bigger to me for some reason. Different positions do feel different, I guess. I'm going to stop guessing. The only thing that matters is that he's buried balls deep in me and it feels so fucking good.

"God, I love you," I say, looking at him via the mirror.

"Know that," he replies with a pant, "but are you talking to me or to yourself?"

I hold myself up with one hand, reach back and slap his thigh.

"Of course I'm talking to myself! What? You think I meant you?"

He pulls out then slams back in.

"Okay, I give in. I meant you," I manage to wheeze.

"Better stay that way too. No looking elsewhere."

"Never would," I promise. I mean, why would I? When I have everything that I need, that I want, that I've ever even dreamed of right here? Not that I'll tell him that. Better to keep him on his toes.

I heard that.

Damn this telepathy.

I can see him trying to hide a smile as he continues fucking me. No matter what he says or what I say, no matter how much we try to wind each other up, he'll just keep on going because on one thing we always agree.

This is life. And more to the point, this is how to live it.


We heard from George this morning. We've gotten the permission we needed to get Harry and return him to Earth. In that one code word we heard that all the charges have been dropped - at least they've been shelved. I guess we'd better go and see him, though to be honest, I'd rather not.

Having said that, it was my idea and I can't come up with a better one. I mean, who better than him to do the job? He might even be able to watch the news, see if someone in politics is acting differently from the way he had known him to do so in the past. And much as I hate to say it, Harry's good at his job. Always was.

Still don't trust the slimy bastard, but gotta give credit where it's due, I suppose.

We're on Gimli. We could have gone via the gate, but none of us could summon up the energy to walk from the gate on Kheb to the settlement. And if, for some reason, he's 'moved house', then we can scan from the sky and home in on him.

Daniel's quiet again. He does this a lot, especially since he got snaked. Before that happened, even right at the beginning of us knowing each other, he was never loud, he only ever really spoke if he had something to say. Of course, there were times when he had way too much to say, but hey, at least it was usually worth listening to, which is more than I can say about some other people.

But since he got sn... he joined with Apollo (let's just say he prefers that term), he's been distinctly quieter. Sure, he has silly times, makes jokes and so on, but those times are rarer than they were. He has more of them when it's just the two of us, he always did, even before we got together. Guess we're on the same wavelength for the most part.

Don't know why he's changed like this. Was it Apollo or just the changes that came over him? I know he prefers to be alone a lot more than he did. Must be the extra powers.

I think he's gotten something on his mind, though. Don't know what it is, he's not letting me in on it. Maybe he hasn't quite worked it out himself. That's got to be it. He likes to at least have all of the relevant facts to hand before he spouts them out, whether they're in an intelligible order or not. It's up to us to make sense of what he's actually saying.

We've gotten the hang of it over the years. It took us a while but in the end we realised that if we kept our mouths shut and ears open we got all of the data we needed. Still doesn't stop us interrupting but we try not to do it too often.

We're there. Already. Damn, this ship is fast.

"Found him. He's still at the temple, house, whatever it is," Sam says.

"Better go down then."

That's greeted with nothing more than resigned murmurs.

What's gotten into us? We're about to do something. Something positive. Something which might really help us get at the worst snake in the history of the lousy, loathsome, lowlifes. Sheesh, I know I'm feeling bad, I've started to alliterate. Never a good sign. Anyway, I want to know why we're feeling like this when we should be raring to go, so I ask the others.

There's silence for a while then I hear Daniel say, "After Hades, we figured that any further snakes would be easier than him. Bit-players at best. Could take them out with much less effort, physically and emotionally. But since we found Hermes, all of the enthusiasm we had for searching for the Furlings, the positive thoughts that we might be able to move on, have just gone.

"We discovered that there's even worse out there than Hades, something we hadn't thought possible. And, I guess, that lurking in the backs of our minds is that if we do manage to take out Zeus, then what's next? Do we then get back on track with the positive stuff, or is there an even worse threat around the corner?"

We all sigh, agreeing with him without saying anything. In the end, I just give the order to get down to Kheb. Whatever the future brings, we need to make a start right now.