Summary: It's time to design that dream house and settle down on Annwn, but you know that they're going to get interrupted, don't you?
Usual thanks to Joy and Fabi for their invabluable assistance.
"Hey kids, what'cha doin?"
I only ask because they're conspiring. Huddled over one of the numerous computers we have, they're chattering about something or other.
"Hi, Jack," Daniel replies, not even looking back at me. "We're just trying to come up with a design for the house and tunnels. We figured that it would be a good idea to see if we can agree on something more of a combined design, connecting the two living spaces. And seeing how I know you and Sam knows Teal'c, we should be able to design a living space that will suit you two, too."
"You weren't going to ask?" Okay, I know I sound put out, but hell, this is my house too, ya know.
"Of course we were," Sam sighs. "We just thought that coming up with an original plan before we discuss it would be a good idea. You know how you always like something to work with."
"Oh. Okay then. Carry on."
I'm ignoring the sloppy salutes I'm getting back for that one.
Am I annoyed by this? Nah, it's not worth it. The kids can play. I've got me a better idea.
"Teal'c. Come in, big guy."
I'm calling T on the communicator. He'd made noises about meditating and I so do not want to repeat that last experience.
"O'Neill. What is it you require?"
Was it me or did he just sound pissed?
"Good. Meet me by the lake, will ya?"
We're still living on Mia. Jake promised to get some more crystals made really soon but we've asked him to hold off bringing them until we knew exactly what we wanted. We gave him a basic design back at the palace, but then we sent a message to get him to wait.
Remoc was developed quickly out of necessity, but here we have the caves for storage and Mia in which to sleep. We can cook on board or outside. Sam's thought that it was late spring seems to be right. Every day is getting a little bit warmer. We've had rain, but it's been like April showers at home. Nothing bad, nothing heavy - pretty good in fact.
Last night it was raining. T and Sam went and curled up in their quarters on Mia and Daniel and I went for a walk. I wondered what was on his mind when he suggested it. He said little, just held my hand as we walked around our field. Then he sat and let the water run down his face. I couldn't help it, I gasped. He's so... beautiful at times. Just like a Renaissance sculpture or something. I saw the grin that appeared and sat next to him.
So? What's going on?
I love the rain, he whispered. Living on a desert planet, being brought up in temperatures of over a hundred degrees... let's just say I can appreciate it.
I got that. Being brought up in Minnesota gave me an appreciation for the milder winters and mosquito-free summers in other places.
I could say that we made out in the rain but I'd be lying. It was strange but we didn't feel the need. It wasn't raining heavily, the water wasn't cold, so we found a rock to sit on at the edge of the field and looked out over the lake - we didn't really talk much, either. It stopped raining after about ten minutes and the sky cleared quickly. We looked up at the stars and I was able to point out Remoc to him. It's visible to the naked eye, but only just.
One of the best things we brought back from Earth was my telescope and I can't wait to get it set up. George had taken it to the cabin, so I had it packed up with the rest of my things. You wouldn't think that I'd have the same love for stargazing that I used to have, especially having seen so many stars up close and personal, but I do.
It's not the same as when we're in space, I don't really even associate the two sides of it. Unlike Sam, who when she looks around either when she's up there or down here, she's trying to figure out what makes the universe tick. We talked about this once, when we were on a camping trip on Earth as SG-1 - seems like a lifetime ago.
It wasn't that long after the time we found Cassie and we knew we needed a little, quiet break, so we'd all taken off for a weekend to the middle of nowhere in Colorado.
Daniel knew all about my astronomical passion and knowledge - despite the teasing that time in the gateroom. We'd long before decided to play down how well we knew each other - in public, that is. Even as 'just good friends' our closeness could have been used against us by enemies of the SGC. Being a close team was one thing. Knowing everything about each other was another.
Anyway, the sky was clear and literally full of stars. I'd never seen anything quite like it. So, we got talking about what we saw when we looked. Sam talked about the scientific wonders, getting off on talking about gravitational forces, chemical composition and so on. We got that, we really did. We all understand how our individual academic interests can literally take over our lives. She sees beauty in the mathematics of the universe, so that's pretty cool. For her. Confuses the fuck out of the rest of us, but we're happy for her.
Teal'c, when he looks, sees areas of Goa'uld control and suffering, so the stars hold little passion for him. Daniel pointed out some of the better-known constellations, and one or two lesser-known ones, and told us about the myths that various native and ancient peoples attached to each one. Mayan, Egyptian, Greek, Chinese... All over the globe, people looked up at the stars and wondered. Still do.
For me, it's just a fascination I can't really explain. Sure, I have a basic knowledge of the physics behind the composition of the stars and planets. I can tell you the difference between a G class star and a B class. I know the terms and what they mean; what a black hole is, what I'm likely to find in a given set of circumstances. But that means very little to me. It's hard to explain without it making me sound like a dumbass.
I see the wonder that's there. It's all very well saying that a big bang caused the entire universe to happen, but I wonder 'what was there before that?', 'what triggered the bang?' and, more to the point; 'why?'
I look at a planet as a military man and wonder who lives there. Are they a threat? Can the planet be useful?
I look at it with my amateur astronomer's eyes and think, 'fuck me, that's pretty'.
"O'Neill. You wished my presence?"
"Yeah, T. What do you think about building a pier into the lake and a boat?"
"I would wonder what your motivations are."
"Well, we're going to need food and this place isn't as overflowing with wildlife as Remoc was, so..."
"You wish to fish."
I knew he'd get it.
We've figured it out, we think. Daniel and I have been debating as to whether to have one or two homes. This was the most difficult decision. We looked at how we lived our lives on Remoc and came to the conclusion that apart from night-times, we actually spent most of our time together, as a team. So, building two homes could well be a waste of time. Having said that, we want our privacy from each other.
We came up with a compromise. One building, but with two living spaces - or rather, two dormitory areas, on opposite ends of the building. In-between will be the shared cooking and living area. Using a paint program - we didn't think to get a CAD program when we were on Earth, unfortunately - we drew up a design that suits the two of us. How we're going to build it will be another thing altogether. Hopefully, those people that Dad told us about will be able to come up with something. It turns out that they don't just quarry stone, they do a whole lot more.
Daniel's called the others and they're on the way, Teal'c muttering something about fishing when he replied. Guess we'll find out what it was all about later.
"So, kids, what have you got for us?"
They sit at the table with us and we show them the idea. It's a slight C shape. On each end is a bedroom and bathroom. In-between, the kitchen/dining room opens out into a lounge for us to get together. We're suggesting that it is built near the lake, too, so that some windows look out over it, and the ones on the opposite side of the house look to the west and at the trees. Why a C shape? Mainly because curving the house will be more comfortable.
I know that sounds strange, but it will mean that even though we'll be on opposite ends of the house to each other, the four of us will be close. The lay of the land suggested this shape to Daniel and me, too. The lake's edges where we want to put the house are circular, so, by building the house this way will keep the banks at the same distance from the inside curve of the house throughout. There's a symmetry there. Why this should be important, we don't know. We just know we liked the thought.
"What do you think?" I ask them.
"You sure you only want one house?" Jack asks back.
"Yeah, Jack," Daniel says. "It made sense. We spend all our time together anyway. If we build the bedrooms big enough, we can put chairs and maybe a desk or table in them, turn each one into a virtual apartment, so we get to be apart if we want. We're not restricted with space, here, so we can build as big as we want. This way, we don't have to battle the elements to get together, either."
Jack's nodding, remembering a couple of lousy weeks we had on Remoc when to meet up, either one pair of us had to run to the other's cabins or we all had to go to the transporter rings. That brings me onto the next bit.
"See here," I point out a circle we've marked in front of the house.
"Yeah, what is it?"
"How about we put the rings there?" I suggest. "It's right outside the house, just to the side of the door opening onto the lakeside. We can build an awning to keep the weather off us if it gets really bad."
He and Teal'c are nodding. I can see that their thought processes are churning through their brains.
"Have you decided how you want the tunnels to work?"
I click on another picture and show him the set-up. The rings will be in the middle and there will be rooms in a 360 shape around them. Each room will have a different function. Storage, studies and a spare room with a kitchen/living/bathroom space just in case we ever need to take refuge.
We don't think that this area gets extreme weather (except maybe snow), but after our experiences with Remoc, we don't want to take chances. There's going to be a corridor in-between two of the rooms which will lead to where we'll permanently park Mia. We'll get the Tok'ra to give us more transport rings so that if we ever have to escape from the planet and we can't run across the field, we'll have a way to do it. With Mia being cloaked, it would give us a chance. Again, we're not expecting trouble, but we can't take unnecessary risks.
Jack looks at the plans and nods.
"Looks like you two have thought about everything," he says.
"Is that okay, Jack?" I ask him. "Do you like this set-up? Do you have any ideas to change things?"
"No, it's fine. I think it would work. It covers all our bases, gives us a way off the planet... The second rings could be used when we want to unload the ship with stuff for storage. It'll save carrying things over the field and around the house and so on. What do you think, Teal'c?"
"I approve. As you say, O'Neill, it will be enough for us all. What would you do with the plants and seeds that you brought from Earth?"
"We could have a kitchen garden," Jack says thoughtfully. "Hang on, instead of having such a wide window on the west side, where the kitchen is, how about having a window and a door? Then we could grow food right there and we'd only have to pop out to get it."
He's picking up the mouse and now he's using it to sketch a few details, changing the marks for the windows into what he described. We're all nodding, it's looking good. Looking exciting too.
He's been looking after the plants on Mia, but I can tell he's itching to actually get a greenhouse built. We came to the conclusion that the local ecosystem probably wouldn't be damaged by what we've brought here, so some things will get planted outside. We're just hoping that the local bugs won't be harmful. I've tested the earth and it's suitable for planting things like root vegetables. More delicate plants will have to stay inside, though. We think it's going to get cold here in winter.
"What materials would you want to use?" Teal'c asks.
"I think we should try stone," Daniel says. "Where we're planning on building, it's going to be a suntrap in summer. Stone should help us keep cool. If we build in a material like that, we can also put chimneys in without worrying, so we can have fires in the winter."
"I think we should pay the Planet of the Masons a visit," Jack says with a grin.
"I wonder if we'll need to do a funny handshake?" Daniel muses.
Okay, we're all bubbling. Even Teal'c nearly smiled this morning. Jake came here first thing with a couple of Tok'ra to find out what stuff we'll need for the tunnels and the transport rings. We told him about the second one and he agreed that having a spare escape route would be a good idea, so he's arranging that now. He's given us the co-ordinates for the planet we want and told us a bit more about the people there.
They're descendants of the Romans and quite literally, born builders. They sell materials all over the galaxy and are willing to take payment in stone - if you have what they want. We did a flyover of Annwn and discovered that on the other side of the planet, there is an outcrop of stone that looks like high-grade marble. We put the ship down and chipped some samples with the Tok'ra cutter, finding it fairly easy to work with. It's full of different colours and looks quite beautiful. We're going to use it somehow at the house, just to have it there.
The way they work is this. You tell them what you want and then you agree a design. When it's all sorted, they go away and prepare the materials and literally build your building on their planet. You go back when you're told, check it out, and when you agree that it's okay, they dismantle it and then bring the materials, all numbered, to your place. You can either self-build with a blueprint they give you, or they'll do it themselves for an extra fee.
Either way, they're really good at this, and quick, apparently, which is probably something to do with the amount of people they have working there. We could have our house in the next month or so.
The universe never fails to surprise me. The way they work sounds very Earth-like. It's like one of those prefabricated buildings you can buy. An off-the-shelf house. Why this should surprise me, I don't know. After all, they were Tauri once.
So, we're off. Just about to step through the gate for the first time since we went to the palace about a week or so ago, and the first time to a new planet in an absolute age. We're all excited about this, especially as we're not expecting any trouble. Needless to say, we're armed and we've checked out the gate area with a VCD before we go.
"Okay, kiddies, it's time," Jack announces, so we step through.
"Welcome, welcome." A man steps up to us, wearing what looks like a toga that's been brought up to date. "My name is Calicus and I represent our people. Tell me, who are you and how may we help you?"
We're all smiling - well, the three of us are. Teal'c's limiting himself to not scowling.
"Hi, I'm Daniel Jackson," I say, "and these are my friends. Jack O'Neill, Sam Carter and Teal'c. We've come to see if you can build us a house. A friend told us you were the best in the galaxy," I add. Doesn't hurt to butter him up.
"Can we build you a house!" he exclaims, kinda reminding me of a used-car salesman. "Whatever you want. Big, small, a palace or a cottage. Nothing is outside our capabilities. You can see our builders working on some of their latest projects."
He waves his hands about and we see what he means. To one side of us, there is a huge amount of workshops, with piles of various rocks and blocks of wood and tree trunks outside, waiting to be worked. On the other side, there are builders, well, building. Finished houses, half-finished houses, a villa... A barn? He wasn't wrong when he said nothing was too big or too small. They're working in stone, brick and wood, depending on the style. Neat.
"We have a drawing, a very basic drawing," I add hastily, "of what we want. Could we show it to you or an architect to get the blueprints drawn up?"
"Certainly. Come with me, please."
He's ushering us to what looks like an office. This is so weird. The set-up here is strange, but at the same time, it's familiar.
"Uh, what about payment?" Jack asks. "We understand that you will barter for raw materials?"
"We will," he says as he shuts the door behind him. "If you have something of sufficient quality...?"
"Daniel, show the man the samples, please. No point in getting started if we don't have something he wants."
Fair enough. I put my backpack down and open it up. From it I take out the small pieces of stone, none more than about six inches square, but they're heavy.
He's picking them up and looking at them closely, using an eyepiece like a jeweller would use on Earth.
"Very nice. Very nice," he mutters. "You could supply us with large amounts of this?"
"Fairly large. There's only a single outcrop we could get to," I tell him. "The area it comes from is in difficult terrain." Don't want them coming in the middle of the night and starting a mining operation.
"I see," he mutters again. "May I have these please? I would like to test them."
"Sure, go ahead. Knock yourself out," Jack says.
Calicus looks alarmed.
"Figure of speech," I tell him. "It means 'feel free'."
"I see. Thank you."
He's taking what looks remarkably like a Tok'ra cutter out of his pocket and now he's setting the beam to extra fine. Oh, I see what he's doing. He's taking an incredibly thin slice from the one sample and now he's holding it up to the light and he gasps. It's totally translucent in parts - the parts where there are no colours running through. Where the colours are catching the light, they're acting like a stained-glass window.
"Let me look at your design," he says, almost unwilling to stop looking at the marble.
We show him the picture that I drew up with the measurements on it. I wasn't sure what measurements to use, so Teal'c showed me what the Goa'uld use. A shalmit is about ten centimetres more than a metre, or about three and a half feet. He's doing some calculations, working out how much material will be used. We want a slate or tiled roof, whatever's easiest. It's going to be a sloped roof with guttering. Not going to ask for the trouble of a flat roof and flooding.
"Come and choose your materials, and then we can bargain," he says. "This design is simple enough for us to complete fairly quickly."
We're back home and planning a trip to the outcrop. We've got to figure out how we're going to do this. Calicus was really taken with the marble - it's not like anything they had there. All of the marble there was limited in the colour range. Somehow, our marble has many colours in the one small sample.
Basically, he ended up working out roughly how heavy the total materials would be to make the house and he told us he'd do a straight swap. The worked stone for the same weight in unworked marble. He's given us the maximum dimensions of the blocks he wants and that should be 'doable', as they say. He'll even give us the roofing and windows for nothing more.
I think he thinks he's getting himself a bargain. We think the same thing. This marble is obviously rare and is extremely beautiful, something he can charge a fortune for when it's made into whatever he wants to make it into. We're getting a ready-to-assemble home.
Now all we have to do is turn ourselves into quarrying experts.
We have been working the marble for two days. We flew the ship to the location, which is nothing like as inaccessible as Daniel made out. Apart from mealtimes, we have been working all of the daylight hours on cutting and extracting the marble blocks. So far, we have one. It is in the cargo hold of the ship, the tractor having been used to move it.
Samantha worked out that we are just two days' flight from the masons, so we will deliver the stone by ship and pick up our materials the same way. Calicus said that it will take them but two weeks to complete the building, so we now have ten days in which to cut another nine blocks. We must improve our technique.
"Will the ship be able to take all ten blocks?" I ask as we eat our evening meal.
"Weight wise, it won't be a problem," Samantha says. "But size wise... the only practical way to store these is in a single row. Stacking them will be nigh on impossible. They're too heavy for the four of us to lift and unless I can build a ramp to the second level, the tractor couldn't be used. There's not going to be enough room on the floor of the cargo hold to store all of them in one go."
We fall silent for the moment, then Daniel suggests, "How about we load it up with five blocks, then you two fly the ship over there. You can check up on the progress of the house while you're at it. Make sure that it's starting to look the way we want it to look. Jack and I will stay behind and finish. I know it's taken us two days to cut one block, but we seem to know what we're doing now. If we pop back to our home site and pick up the tent from the cave, along with some other supplies, Jack and I can camp out. The weather seems to be okay here."
"It's got to be worth a try," Samantha agrees.
"How come they get to fly the ship?" O'Neill grumbles.
"Stop complaining, O'Neill," Daniel scolds. "It'll do you good to work out."
We have returned to the outcrop and are now settling down for the night. Sufficient supplies have been brought for a week for the men just in case we are delayed in returning.
"Are you excited about building the house, honey?" Samantha asks.
"I will be glad to not have to sleep on the ship more than is necessary," I reply. "It is not a conducive atmosphere for meditation."
"No, I don't suppose it would be. Did you like the fireplace idea?"
Samantha and Daniel decided that we should have two chimneys, each in the wall that separates the bedrooms from the kitchen and dining room. The one on the others' side of the house will have a fireplace in their quarters and on the other side of the wall, will be used for a wood-burning stove. Where we will get a wood-burning stove, I do not know. The other one is to serve our room and the living room as a fireplace.
"I think it is of merit, Samantha. I can put my candles safely on the grate."
We will be having wooden floors so fire safety is essential.
"Good. I'm glad you like it." She is yawning now.
"Samantha, it is time to sleep. Come to bed."
"Ah, three little words I love so much," she murmurs as she rests her head on my chest. "G'night."
"Good night, kalash'me." My soul.
"So, what was all that about me needing to work out?" I ask Daniel as I drop him on the mattress.
"You just won't let it go, will you?" he sighs.
"Well... no! I'm as fit as I've ever been. As strong as I've ever been."
"And you're as hot as you've ever been. Especially in your cut-offs and nothing else," he tells me, leering as he does.
"Is that so?"
"It's so," he shrugs.
I think I'm understanding his thought processes here.
"You do realise, we'll be on our own for at least four days," I say as I lie down next to him.
He just grins.
"No one around. No one else on the planet."
"No one else in the solar system or for about fifteen light-years around us, either. Just think how noisy you can get," he adds with a smirk.
I lean over to kiss him and he drops his head so I only get the top of it.
"Save it up, flyboy," he says huskily. "Don't want to tire you out, now, do I?"
"You think too much. Come on, I'm tired. Sleep, okay? You can wake me up s_l_o_w_l_y."
Aw hell. Oh well.
At least he's snuggling up with me. I wonder how long it's going to take me to fall asle...
I could say I hate mornings, but I'd be a liar. It gives me a chance to Danielwatch. It's the only time he's ever completely still to let me do it. Besides, one thing he really loves is to be awoken in a very specific way. It kinda makes mornings special, if you know what I mean.
I've rolled him onto his back, careful not to wake him yet. Forget foreplay, morning-times we go straight to the main event, so to speak. He's hard, I'm hard, he may not be awake yet but he's willing (he's always willing if I really want it). I'm certainly able, so what am I waiting for? Ragnorok? Fuck that, I'm going to do this by the book. I could get a doctorate in waking Daniel.
I've got the lube handy and I'm going down. One hot, wet mouth applied directly to the affected area like... so, followed by an application of suction, gently increasing the pressure until the patient starts to respond... thus.
Now, lick clean the affected area...
Increase the suction...
Add plenty of lubrication to aid movement...
And press the button.
No, that comes next.
Right, the next phase of the operation. Adjust the patient until he is in position, taking note that he is now unable to feel his extremities, so roll carefully.
Trail kisses down the spine, helping the patient to loosen up further, trying not to get thrown off as he wriggles underneath your touch.
Having reached the small of the back, linger a while and bathe the entire area with something long, flexible and wet.
Massage the lower areas firmly, stretching outwards, before continuing the bath in-between.
Locate the entrance and place probe in position. Slowly push until the patient accepts the entire length.
To scratch the itch, pull back out and push back in repeatedly.
Increase speed and pressure...
"Shut up, Jack."
We've cracked the method for cutting the stone and we're making serious inroads. Despite being woken up by Daniel's yells, Teal'c and I are feeling pretty lively. Jack and Daniel can't stop smirking at each other. Typical. You'd think that the novelty would have worn off by now, and to be fair, they're not usually like this. It's just that every so often, they return to their teenage state and can't keep their hands off each other. I think it's the excitement of the house building that's getting to them.
It's gotten to the state now that we're working on two blocks at once. Naturally, we've paired off the way we always do. Makes sense, I guess, and it has nothing to do with the fact that we're both couples. I know I'm physically strong, but my strength isn't as great as any of the guys. By pairing up with Teal'c, the total strength of each couple is more or less equalled.
Doing it this way, doing anything this way also makes sense. Daniel's got some military brains whereas Jack's a master tactician. And yeah, I know I was a major in the Air Force and I was taught tactics, but to be perfectly honest, I know that it's not something I excel at. Give me a problem to work out and I'll do it.
When Daniel complained about Makepeace taking over SG-1, he didn't really understand that despite my rank, command experience wasn't something I'd had much of. Teal'c's just like Jack. Smart, ready to learn whatever it takes to aid him and his team, but when it comes to tactics, he's hot. Of course, Daniel's the problem solver with the guys. So mentally as well as physically, each couple within the team is balanced.
Learning my limitations and accepting them was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I was so damned competitive that I had to be the best at everything. The guys helped me learn that I didn't have to be, that what I was good at, what I am good at, is every bit as useful to the team as any of the knowledge and experience that the others have.
What took me the longest to learn was that they weren't telling me that because I was a woman - after all, Jack took for granted that I wouldn't let him down in a fight, something I appreciated straight away and something that bound me to him irrevocably. That was mainly because I'd had to put up with so much anti-woman prejudiced crap in basic training from a real bastard of a sergeant... Let's just say it prejudiced me.
Jack's never allowed me to live down my first meeting 'speech'. I cringe when I think of it. They accepted me in a way that I'd never been accepted before. Even in the Pentagon, I was having to fight to be heard. 'Daddy's girl' was something I heard on more than one occasion. Jack and the others never accused me of getting my position because of who I am, they just accept me for what I am.
And what I am at the moment is horny. Teal'c's wearing nothing but shorts and a muscle shirt. Jack and Daniel are in shorts and nothing else, except for shoes, naturally. I'm surrounded by three incredibly gorgeous, muscled, toned, hot specimens of manhood that I'm finding it hard to concentrate on my job. Listening to the boys teasing each other and flirting isn't helping either.
"Guys, cut it out, will you?"
"What's up, Sam?"
"You two, Daniel. You're flirting, commenting, it's just... aargh!"
"I think we're disturbing her, Daniel."
"Could be, Jack. Could be. Uh, Teal'c?"
"How about you take Sam for a break?"
"That would be a good idea, Daniel. I shall do that."
Uh oh, Teal'c's looking dangerous. Should I run? Um... no.
I don't know what was worse, the boys teasing each other before lunch, or teasing me after lunch. There's no point in teasing Teal'c. The words 'water', 'duck' and 'back' spring to mind. Daniel did remind me about the zero G thing though. That could be fun.
Or not. Daniel's just smacked himself on the head.
"Daniel? What have you worked out now?" Jack's asking.
"Yeah? And, so, but..."
"Zero G, Jack. We load as many blocks onto Mia as we can, fly until we're outside of Annwn's gravity and then stack the blocks. I can't imagine that they'd lift voluntarily, but we should be able to manoeuvre them between us, shouldn't we? If we can do that, we should be able to go in one trip. That will mean we don't have to camp out and we don't get separated."
They look at me and I shrug. It makes sense.
"We'll probably have to do it a couple of times," I say. "After all, if we get five laid out and then stack them in a three and two high formation, we'll still only have room for another three."
"How many can we stack in one go?" Jack asks.
I go back into the ship and look.
"Four at a push," I say. "Three would be easier."
Teal'c's doing his 'Rodin's Thinker' thing. It's not something he does often, but he is rubbing his chin.
"If we took more blocks than we agreed, would they come and build the house for us? It would be quicker if they did."
"Got to be worth a try," Jack says. "How about we ask them?"
It's all organised. We flew back to the gate when the light started to fade. We now have three blocks on board, too, which is a help. Then we popped over to see Calicus and he was positively orgasmic at the thought. He's even told us that he has furniture makers who can supply us with whatever we need.
We looked at a showroom for the samples that they have and ordered some things. It was like going into a Roman Macy's or something. It's full of furniture which covers various styles, from the elaborate gold- and jewel-encrusted stuff the snakes like to simple farmhouse items in wood.
In the end, we went for simplicity and comfort and ordered two huge beds with thick mattresses, some sofas and a large dining table and eight dining chairs (for when MIB come over) and the all-important wood-burning stove and bathroom fixtures and fittings. They even have faucets similar to those used on Earth - not exactly the same, but the plumbing principles are identical; the opening and shutting off of valves.
The entire planetary economy is based on building houses and furnishing them. They barter for food and other supplies and just concentrate on being creative. Oh, and we've worked out where we'll have some of the marble. He said they can turn it into a sort of opaque window, ideal for the bathrooms so no one can see in when someone's in one of them. Also, the living area fireplaces will have the marble as surrounds for them. It'll look fantastic, I'm sure.
Calicus told us that there had been no wars on their planet from the time of their arrival. They weren't sure who'd taken them there, though they knew that they were originally from another planet. Whoever it was left them there without interfering. Could be the Ancients? Given their connections with the Romans, it's distinctly possible. Could explain why the Goa'uld, while utilising their services, leave them alone. They believe they're under the protection of the gods, but couldn't explain who the gods were. Said they didn't know.
Jack also asked them about some outbuildings, though I'm not really sure what he was after. They agreed to whatever it was. If it makes him happy, then we're happy. A happy colonel isn't annoying the crap out of the rest of us.
Anyway, this means we'll have to cut three more blocks, so we have to take thirteen over there. We're certain that there's enough in the outcrop without having to quarry further in, so that shouldn't be a problem.
"Jack, why don't we fly into space before we return to the rocks?" Sam suggests.
"You have anything in mind?"
"Yeah. We can try out the zero G thing and I'd like to spend a little time around Remoc. It won't take long."
"What do you want to go there for?"
"I want to scan the planet, try to figure out what happened."
I can see that Jack's wondering why she wants to know that.
Jack, let her go.
It means a lot to her.
Will you be okay?
Yeah. It's fine. Just do it, okay?
"All right, Sam. We do need to check out the zero G thing anyway. Just don't spend too long going around Remoc. I don't want you tired out in the morning."
She nods and Teal'c takes us up and into the darkness of space. As we fly towards our old home, we all prepare the ship for switching off the artificial gravity. As soon as the loose items are held down, we do it and head out to the cargo hold. I was right, the blocks are not floating around, but as the four of us get to the corners we're wondering if we will be able to lift them.
"Don't lift too quickly," she says. "If it comes up with a jerk, we may not be able to stop it crashing into the ceiling."
Good point. So we carefully lift, using our minds to communicate so that there's no time lapse between thought and understanding. We've discovered that telepathic communication is a lot simpler to assimilate for reasons we're not terribly sure about.
On three, Jack says. One, two, three.
We lift and still find the block heavy, but there is no resistance. As it raises, Sam says, Slip one hand on top to stop it going too high.
We all move our left hand at the same moment.
Okay, we're high enough. Give it a push towards the other block.
Slowly, it's moving where we want it to go. Making sure that our hands aren't anywhere near the underside of the block, we push it down until it's lying directly on top of the other one. It worked.
A message from the computer tells us we're nearing Remoc, so we go back to the peltac and switch the gravity back on. We can do the other one on the way back.
I couldn't look at the planet. What had been a sapphire-blue planet was now totally enshrouded in a grey dust. Sam's started to run the radar imaging to map out the planet below.
"If we're going to do this properly," she says, "it's going to take hours."
Hmm. I have an idea. "Teal'c, can you set the autopilot to orbit the planet in a manner that will allow us to cover the entire surface?"
"Good. Sam, can you set the imager to just do the job while you sleep?"
"Yeah, it's simple."
"Jack, why don't we do that? If the ship lets us know when the job is done, we can all go to bed now and then shift the other block on the way back to Annwn in the morning."
Morning is a relative term, here. We're all 'jet lagged' anyway because the marble is on the opposite side of the planet to what we're used to. So we've been working in daylight, but it's really our night-time. No wonder we're all hyper.
"Okay. We're going to be sleeping on the ship anyway, doesn't matter where we do it."
"Thanks, Jack," Sam says.
I think she's grateful to be here. I do understand her curiosity but it does hurt a bit. Part of me wants to know what happened and why, but the rest of me wants to forget.
"Daniel? Are you sure you're okay?" Jack asks as we get ready for bed.
"Yes, Jack. I think I want to know what happened."
He studies my face for a moment and then nods sharply. Telepathy or no telepathy, he can read me like a book.
We have completed the cutting of the blocks on schedule. In fact, we do not have to leave for another day. We have spent a few occasions in space as we reorganised the blocks within the cargo hold. I am concerned that the ship will be carrying too much weight on one side of the ship, so I should make a suggestion.
"O'Neill. May I suggest that we leave for our destination today?"
"Why's that, Teal'c?"
"So that we may go slower and put less pressure on the engines."
"Ah, I get you. Guys? What do you think?"
"Sounds good," Samantha says. "There's no rush, is there? No reason not to, either."
We all agree and so we take off.
Samantha is using our time in space to analyse the data she retrieved from the scan of Remoc, comparing it to the original scan she did when we first got the ship. Daniel does not seem to be as interested in it as I would have thought.
"Daniel. May I speak with you?"
"Sure, Teal'c. Shoot."
"I am surprised to see that you are not assisting Samantha with her analysis."
"Indeed. You would normally be sitting with her and aiding her."
"Does she need my help?"
"She has not indicated that your help is required."
"Well then. If she wants me, she knows where I am."
I think for a moment. "Is this upsetting you?"
"No, no, no. It's fine. I'm fine. If it makes her happy then leave her to do it, okay?"
I do believe that he is upset.
I've been trying to take Daniel's mind off of the analysis but I can't seem to. He's torn down the middle. He wants to know but he doesn't want to be reminded.
It would be like an autopsy, I guess. You've just lost someone dear to you and you've got a pretty good idea of the cause of death - and it's something not natural like a heart attack or shocking like murder, but say, something like being caught in an avalanche. Do you really want to know that your loved one died of hypothermia? Or would you rather know that they asphyxiated instead? Either way, he or she is just as dead.
Part of you would want to know that the suffering was minimal. Part of you, maybe, would have some scientific or even ghoulish curiosity about the actual cause. But the bit of you that's missing them like crazy would want the whole world to leave you alone and stop mentioning the actual death.
I know that this isn't the same, it's just the best analogy I can come up with at short notice.
Daniel's scientific and curious brain wants to know. His emotional brain wants to forget we ever lived there.
Damn. She's figured it out. Maybe this will mark the end of Daniel's moping, so perhaps we'd better get it over and done with.
We gather around the table, the ubiquitous coffees to hand and we await Her Majesty's pronouncement.
"It was a supervolcano," she says. "Just like the one in Yellowstone that they're waiting to go bang at some point soon. Er, that's soon in geological terms anyway."
"They are?" I ask.
"Oh yeah," Daniel says. "It's overdue. When it goes, bye-bye most of the US mainland and quite possibly hello nuclear winter for the planet. It usually goes off every 600,000 years, but it's been 640,000 since the last one."
"How do they know?" I ask. "Was someone there?" Okay, I know that's dumb but how they can be that precise, I don't know.
Daniel just looks at me wryly.
"You didn't see how old my palaeontology lecturer was. Some of the geologists were older."
Sam's sniggering but she's returning to the subject at hand.
"Supervolcanoes are not tall volcanoes, like Mount St. Helens, for example, but they're calderas. Dips in the earth, for want of a better description. They're found in subduction zones, where one of the planet's plates dips below another, and they sink rather than rise."
"So, why would that have caused a raise in the sea level?"
"I think that this volcanic eruption, subduction, or whatever it was, triggered a massive earthquake. You see, I found a caldera in one of the oceans. It wasn't an asteroid strike that triggered the initial sea level rise that we were looking into, it was another one of these events. The shape happened to throw me off when I first saw it. Thinking like an astrophysicist, it was easier for me to come up with the space solution," she shrugs.
"On Remoc, there is just the one supervolcano but it happens to be on a massive fault line, one that runs almost from the equator to the north pole. Imagine this. The volcano goes off, sending the sea above it and the ash and whatever else is there into the atmosphere in an almighty explosion - and by that I mean continuous violent eruptions which may have lasted for days on end rather than a single event. It's on the other side of the planet to where the gate was, so unless the Ancients had flown all around it, they wouldn't have known it was there."
She shakes her head as she gets back on track.
"The eruption shifted the plates and caused, judging by the amount of damage, a quake that would knock the San Francisco quake of the early twentieth century into a cocked hat. Probably a magnitude of nine plus."
Youch. That's a real big one.
"Like I said, the plates are overlapping, one subducting the other. So the plates shift and one goes down while the other goes up. Unfortunately, it was the one with the most land above water which went down. The scans I did of the polar regions show that half of the northern ice cap is gone. Not sure where it's gone... at a guess it broke away. There is some evidence of colder waters further south than there were.
"Bear in mind that unlike Earth, Remoc's northern pole is like Antarctica. The ice there was fresh water on land and growing in glaciers out into the sea. If that's been added to the sea then the amount of liquid water on the planet has just increased. There is also evidence of a number of archipelagos having disappeared. Not just under the sea, but reduced to rubble in effect - some of them were volcanic, too. All of these events are going to contribute to the rise in sea level. The fact that the other volcanoes were then triggered to erupt has just added to the junk in the atmosphere.
"A massive tsunami would also have been triggered, possibly more than one, so some of the excess water we saw could have been because of that. Just as if a big one hit some of the Pacific islands, the surfaces of the flatter islands on Remoc were literally washed away."
"You could say that, Jack," she chuckles. "Nothing could be done to stop something like that and only an intensive geological survey could have even vaguely predicted that something of this order could have happened. Neither Daniel nor myself are geologists, we're only working with the basic knowledge that we've picked up over the years. Daniel knows more about geology than me, but his knowledge is purely aimed at the sort of geology that he'd find archaeology in. Mine is even more basic."
"Could something like this happen on Annwn?"
"Could? Possibly. Will it? I have no idea," she sighs. "We'll need to do a complete survey to be sure."
"Whatever planet we live on would have the potential for something like this, Jack," Daniel shrugs. "There's no such thing as a safe planet. Just one that's safer than another."
Daniel did cheer up a bit after our discussion with Sam. It probably helped that I had a telepathic conversation telling her to drop the subject after that.
We've dropped the marble off, Calicus was creaming himself over it. The house was finished when we got there and it was looking terrific. Calicus told us that his guys would come in a ship and build the buildings for us. I wasn't so sure about that. It's not something I can reconcile. I want them to do it, it will be quicker and more efficient. But. I don't want anyone knowing where we are.
I guess he could see that so he said, "Our client list is not just confidential, it's destroyed after the job is over. We supply Goa'uld and Tok'ra, both sides of a war... We are neutral. The affairs of the galaxy do not concern us. Our ships have no weapons, all they contain is the space for the materials and the living quarters for the builders.
"It would do our reputation endless harm if word got out that we had passed on information about a customer. There are other peoples out there who provide similar services and we could lose our business to them. So you see, you are safe with us. Besides, you have something that we want. If we were to upset you, we could lose any chance we have of ever acquiring more of your beautiful marble."
I understood his explanation and finally agreed. It made sense. Who knows what buildings we might want in future? Upshot is, we're nearly home. Calicus' guys will be with us by the end of the week and we'll have a home a few days later than that. As soon as we get home, we're going to call up Jacob and tell him what's going on. It's going to be time for a mission soon, I think.
Dad's here on Annwn. He's brought the crystals and he and some Tok'ra are marking out where the tunnels will go. We're marking out the footprint of the house and Jack's doing the same for the outbuildings he ordered. It's really exciting.
"Time to start the tunnels," Dad says with a grin.
One of the Tok'ra places a crystal in the earth and starts by making a tunnel from the surface to deep underground. We all carefully make our way down the tunnel and then watch in awe as each room and corridor formation is created. It's coming up exactly as we'd hoped it would.
We all have a room down here, and in a mirror to the house, we have the dining/living space just in case we need one. The corridor is going the entire width of the field, just about. Now that's all done, they're going to install the equipment; that is the transport rings and some more cooking and bathroom facilities. Some of it has been created by crystals, too, including shelving which automatically formed in the walls as the rooms were made.
When it's all done, the Tok'ra will 'undo' the first tunnel that they created, making it look like nothing had ever happened.
While the Tok'ra finish what they're doing, Dad takes us to one side and indicates that we should go sit in the ship.
We all sit around the table and wait for Dad to tell us what's going on.
"MIB have been visiting the planets on George's list," he starts. "You've gotten out of the diplomacy thing. It made more sense for them to do it as they look the way you guys used to. Some of the planets they're visiting were ones you'd been to."
"That's good," Jack says. "So, what have you got for us?"
"Morrigan told us that Baal is trying to rebuild his power base. You got rid of the major 'minor' players at the space station, but he's using the allies of the other System Lords, the ones that sided with him against Morrigan, to increase his influence. On top of that, he's using his own allies to strengthen his forces. It would seem that Bastet is particularly siding with him, thinking that she's onto a good thing because of Morrigan's unfortunate capture."
"And demise?" Jack asks.
Dad just shrugs.
"We want you to go here." He's handing us some co-ordinates. "This is one of Bastet's homes and the one which she thinks that no one knows about."
"What's there? Another secret research base?"
"No. Bastet is a queen. This is the home of her larvae."
We sit silently for a moment and then there is a collective groan.
"Uh, Jacob, if we take out the larvae, the Jaffa will die," Daniel points out.
He still can't hate Jaffa. Heck, none of us can. We understand just how difficult their positions are. Some are genuinely supportive of the Goa'uld, some do it because they don't know any better. Others do it because their families would die if they didn't. It's a tough call. None of us wants the innocents to die - and yes, there are innocents involved here. Like Rya'c when he was a kid, given the primta whether he really wanted it or not. However, none of us wants a larval Goa'uld to mature and become implanted.
Dad's just shrugging again. He knows the score as well as we do and he finds it hard, too. As a general, he would order his troops into battle to kill opposing forces. However, his aim was always to take out those who sent them into battle. He told me once that the soldiers you fight are someone else's sons. That might sound like a strange and obvious thing to say, but his point was that if there is no need to kill the foot soldiers, then you shouldn't. There was a good chance that they didn't want to be there either.
"We still don't know why, but the queens are becoming less and less available," he just continues as if this didn't come up. "If we can eliminate some of the larvae that are around, then future Goa'uld forces will be more manageable. If there was a better way to do this, Daniel, you know I'd go for it."
"Why can't the SGC help you out with this one?" Jack asks. "After all, it's what they're after, isn't it?"
"No, it's not. All they want is tech, Jack. Sure, they'll do something if we push hard enough, but I don't want to undermine George's position any more than is necessary. Besides, there's no gate on this planet and they don't have a ship unless they use mine. I don't want them getting hold of it, mainly because I no longer trust them to give it back."
"Shit. This is fucked up," Jack growls.
"Yeah, it is. So, are you going to do it?"
"Give us a while to discuss this, will you?"
Dad gets up and walks out of the ship, leaving us alone.
I don't like this, Jack, Daniel says.
I don't like it, either. However, it would be a good thing to do tactically. Not only will we be lessening Baal's forces, we'll stop hundreds of people being forced into implantation. And it will send a message to the snakes that even gateless secret planets are not safe. Could help scare them a bit.
We could retrieve a new primta for me, Teal'c says. It is only a matter of a few years until Junior is too old for me to carry. This would give me a few more years of life.
Shit. I keep forgetting that despite Teal'c's perfect health, he's dependent on these damned things.
It will give us a few more years to find an alternative to a symbiote to keep Teal'c healthy, I agree.
Nods all round. Jack picks up the communicator. "Jake, we'll do it."
"How far away is the planet?" Jack asks as we plan the attack.
Dad's given us all of the information that the Tok'ra have on the place and we're glad to see that Bastet hasn't heavily fortified the planet. Seems that in typical Goa'uld arrogant style, she thinks that no one will ever find out about it.
"Only six hours' flight, Jack. You could be in and out in a day, if all goes well."
"And if it doesn't?" Daniel asks dryly.
"If you're not back in forty-eight hours, I'll collect MIB and we'll come and get you."
Jack nods shallowly. We see that the tank that they use for containing the snakes is in a courtyard. It is guarded, but the guard's as much an honour guard as a practical one. The complex is a temple and there is no settlement there. Only the priests of the snake live there. This is good.
If we have to go in all guns blazing then we're only going to be taking out the faithful and not the innocents. Dad said that the priests live celibate lives - and the celibacy is strictly enforced - so there are no children there. We're all relieved at that.
"Wish I had a P90," Jack sighs again.
It's something we go through a lot. I understand, though. A quick burst, just like Daniel did on Chulak and the problem's solved. It can be done from a distance too.
"Jake? Is there any weaponry out there that resembles Earth weapons? Zats and staff weapons are all very well, but they don't have the speed or accuracy of an automatic."
"I don't know. I'll look into it. I've not seen anything, but the galaxy's a big place. I'll check up with some of the traders we deal with. Maybe one will know of something. In the meantime, you'll have to go in more conventionally."
"We'll take some more C4. Oh, we'll need more of that soon, so if you can get your guys to make it?"
"Sure. Not a problem Jack. More of the smaller buttons?"
"Yeah, that gives us the option to use them singularly or in tandem, and it helps me control the size of the bang."
"Have you got enough for this mission?"
"Yeah, we're okay for now. How are MIB doing for weapons?"
"They're doing fine. We restocked them not so long back. The C4 thing has become a hit with the Tok'ra themselves," Dad adds with a grin. "We had explosives before it, naturally, but they were set in particular shapes. The idea that you can mould this stuff to whatever you wanted was a pleasant surprise. We're making it in big quantities."
We all grin at that and then Jack says, "Calicus' guys will be here in four days. We'd better get a move on if we're going to be back in time for them. Don't want any hold-ups to result in us missing them, do we?"
Here we go again. I keep scolding myself, telling myself that the reasons for this are good, but I still find it difficult to reconcile this. A death is a death.
Oh, I didn't really hesitate before and I know it. I hate the Goa'uld with a passion, too, and I will do anything it takes to take them out. But, as ever, it's the Jaffa that are going to suffer. I look at Teal'c and wonder what we're going to do when his symbiote matures, whether it's the one he's got or a new one, if there are none left. Can I really just sit and watch him die, knowing that I was the one to stop him having the chance at more life? Not just me, either. Can I even imagine what's going through Sam's mind as we head towards that planet? It's her future, too.
There may be more queens out there. Bastet could well spawn again in future. Will we be able to get one for Teal'c? For Rya'c?
Oh shit. Rya'c.
"Teal'c? How long before Rya'c's symbiote matures?"
A silence falls.
"It will be soon, Daniel."
"Uh, guys? Do you think that we should try to get one for him?"
"How will we take it there? I mean, we don't want the little fucker slithering around the ship, and to tell the truth, the thought that we'd have one which isn't inside Teal'c being anywhere near me..." Jack rubs the scar on the back of his neck as he speaks and gives us all the shivers.
"We kept that one alive in a thermos flask," Sam points out, reminding us of the one that became Junior.
"Do we have a thermos flask on board?"
Sam and I take off to the stores and look. We'll need something that can contain it with no chance of it escaping. Assuming we get one, that is.
"How about this?" I ask as I hold up a jar.
"No, the lid is too loose. What about this?"
"No, the lid is too easily knocked off accidentally."
Fuck. We'll be there soon. Come on, come on... "Here!"
"Perfect. I had no idea we had a flask on board."
"Neither did I. Must have been there for a while. Screwtop lid and it's big enough. Should do."
"Now all we have to do is get down there, get the snakes and get out again."
"Piece of cake."
"Sam? Daniel? Could you come to the bridge, please?"
Why don't I like the sound of Jack's voice?
Remind me to annihilate the Tok'ra intelligence people. Seems like the phrase 'military intelligence' is an intergalactic oxymoron.
No fucking wonder Bastet hasn't guarded the fucking planet. The system is full of fucking MINES.
We're all looking out the view screen with our mouths open. There must be millions of the bastards, surrounding the planet in a complete blanket.
"So, what? We go home?" I finally ask.
Jack shakes his head. "Nuh huh. Rya'c needs the snake. Besides, if we can pull this off, Bastet and the other System Lords will be sent a message."
"Yeah, tighten security," I say.
Sam smacks me with the back of her hand. I can see in her eyes that she's scared - but not for herself. With no new larva, Rya'c and Teal'c will die. Admittedly, we'll have a bit longer with Teal'c, but still.
"Bastet must be able to come and go as she pleases," she says. "There must be a way to get through them safely."
"A path?" Jack suggests.
"Could be. Teal'c, do you recognise the mine type?"
"I do indeed, Daniel. They are magnetic of a sort. Attracted solely to naquada."
"Magnetic? Oh shit. Even a path would be hard to navigate. Especially as our engines are naquada-powered."
"Unless some of them are dummies," Jack shrugs.
"But how do we find out which are which?"
Sam goes to the scanner and focusses on one mine. She's doing what she can to learn its composition. The rest of us just sit and wait to hear from her.
"I think..." she finally says as she rereads her data, "I think that Bastet sends them a signal to switch them off. That way she can just go through them. Each one seems to have some type of gyroscope in them, so if she just takes her ship through the field, they'll be knocked out of the way but they'll go back to their original position when she's cleared them."
"So, we need to know what signal to send," Jack says. "Marvellous."
The sarcasm is dripping from his voice.
"We need to get one and look at its design, its uh, wiring," I say.
"I just knew you'd say that," Jack mutters. "You mean we're going to have to do what we did before?"
"Something like that, Jack. It's either that, or we'll have to find a way to blast through them without them thinking that a ship is coming. I don't know about you, but I think the first idea is probably easier."
"The second one is safer."
"Can you do it?"
"That I don't know."
"Then we're going for the second option. I'm not taking any chances. After all, if it's attracted to naquada, it might attach itself to something in the cargo hold."
"If it's surrounded by naquada, it won't know which way to go," I point out.
Sam shakes her head. "Jack's right. If there's just a bit more in one direction, chances are it will go towards the strongest source."
"We could just try sending out random signals and seeing if it makes a difference," I suggest.
"That could take us a lifetime, though."
"Not necessarily. Hang on, let me think. Right, Bastet was the cat goddess, and in Egyptian myth, she was once identified with Hathor." I see the shiver that goes down Jack's spine as I mention her name.
"Don't worry, Jack, Hathor turns up in lots of forms, including a baboon," I add, getting a laugh from him. "Anyway, Hathor disappeared and Thoth went off to get her to persuade her to go back to Egypt. She wasn't keen on the idea and she appeared to him in the form of Sekhmet, the lioness.
"Eventually, though, he calmed her down and she became Bastet, or the domestic cat. On the way back, she fell asleep and Apophis took the opportunity to attack. Fortunately for her, Thoth saw what was happening and defeated Apophis. She returned to Egypt in triumph and was worshipped freely."
"That's all very interesting, Daniel, but how does that help us?"
I have to admit. "I have no idea."
We've gathered around the table and we're eating. Flashbacks to similar 'eating meetings' at the SGC threaten to disrupt my train of thought.
"Are there any naquada-flavoured asteroids in this system?" Jack asks.
"I doubt it," Sam says. "It would be unlikely that there's any naquada in this system. Just in case. As it is, we're taking a chance being here. I know we're apparently out of their range but I must admit to being a little nervous."
"Okay, where's the nearest system with naquada?"
Sam gets up and pulls up the local galactic map. "We're in luck, it's about an hour away."
"Are there any asteroids there?"
"I don't know."
"Right. Let's go look. I think I have an idea."
He's one up on the rest of us then, so Teal'c goes up to the console and programmes our destination in, then returns to the table.
"What is your idea, O'Neill?"
Jack grins and tells us.
O'Neill's plan is so audacious it may well work. I am very grateful that they are not giving up on the chance to help both myself and my son. I know that if I asked the Tok'ra to acquire a symbiote for Rya'c, that they may well try to do so, but I could not guarantee success. Now that I know that O'Neill is 'on the case' as he says, we will not let up until we succeed.
We have arrived at the system and Samantha is scanning for what we require.
"Bingo. Guys, we just struck lucky."
She points out just what we're looking for and we all smile. Well, I keep my face straight, but her elbow nudges me as she knows that I am pleased.
"Small chunks should do it, shouldn't they?" O'Neill asks.
"Yup. Small and lots of them. Hang on, I'll just get it on board."
She takes us to a small asteroid, not more than a fragment of a larger one really, and captures it with the tractor beam, using our engines to slow down its movement until we come to a halt.
"Seal all the hatches," she orders and we comply, locking the doors throughout the ship.
She opens the cargo bay door and releases the asteroid from the beam and then I manoeuvre the ship until it is inside the cargo hold. We shut the door and repressurise the bay, then it is time to enter. She and I stay on the bridge and move to the second phase. We capture a second, much, much larger asteroid with the beam and then head back to Bastet's planet.
Inside the cargo bay, I find that O'Neill and Daniel are hard at work. Using Tok'ra tools, they are cutting the asteroid into smaller pieces. I find another tool and start to help them.
"Don't cut them too small," O'Neill instructs. "They have to be strong enough to attract the mines."
"Samantha says that the naquada content is high. Small fragments may well be enough."
We have returned to the planet's solar system and we are now getting ready to put our plan into action. Samantha has given us the instructions and I am now flying the ship. Telling everyone to sit, I spin the ship around so that the asteroid that we are dragging also spins. We do not feel that we are spinning because of the artificial gravity, but none of us really wishes to look out of the window. There are one or two visual clues in the shape of planets. I enjoyed my lunch, but tasting it once is enough.
The ship is approaching the minefield. I have to release the asteroid at a given moment and then pull 'up' quickly to get out of the way of both the asteroid, the fragments and the mines. The asteroid's velocity will take it to the minefield a few minutes later, its spinning keeping the trajectory on track. We do not wish to destroy the planet. Yet.
I am about to release the asteroid. Samantha calls out to switch off the artificial gravity and open the cargo bay door. I do this and we watch as the view screen shows us that what we had hoped would happen, is happening.
The asteroid is spinning quickly and is heading directly for the minefield. The motion of the tiny meteors is giving them the appearance of having once been a part of the larger body, but having been chipped off it in a collision or something similar. Because of the movement that I was able to make with the ship, they are following it in a wider path, directly to the minefield.
Needless to say, we are not too close.
We watch as the mines rush towards the fragments and start exploding. Some fragments are getting through and being fixed on by mines closer to the planet. We did not release the asteroid directly pointing at the planet, but at an angle, for two reasons. One is that it looks more like a natural phenomenon and two, it will give us a much wider path through which to traverse.
The asteroid is being blasted into many pieces, but as it is made of naquada, it is very strong. The smaller pieces are themselves attracting mines and exploding.
O'Neill looks at us and says, "I love it when a plan comes together."
We have waited for the explosions to stop and see a large path that has been cut for us.
"Take us in, Teal'c. Cloaked, naturally. Keep the engines to a minimum though, don't want to take the chance on attracting the remaining mines."
I understand, so I move us in as quietly as I can. Daniel is listening into communication frequencies just in case a message is being sent out.
"Oh shit?" O'Neill asks.
"Yeah. Oh shit."
"Why oh shit?"
"Oh shit because someone on the planet has just contacted Bastet."
"And she's coming - soon. The good news is that they reported an apparently natural phenomenon. The bad news is, they know there's no naquada in this system."
"You think they're going to pin the blame on Anubis?" O'Neill asks hopefully.
"I doubt it, Jack. Think about it. It's been done to death."
"Hey, it's a good plan. The snake just didn't have you guys on his side when he tried it, thank God. It's a sound tactic. Destroy something remotely and..."
"Run like fuck?" Daniel asks innocently.
"If it works..."
Daniel shrugs. "We can't use it again, though."
"Because it's getting boring."
"Sheesh. The excitement of the raid not enough for you anymore?"
Daniel waggles his head from side to side in a 'so-so' manner.
"Damned adrenaline junkies," O'Neill mutters. "Can't please them. Do something once and the thrill goes."
O'Neill has given the order to land the ship about half a mile from the temple. We have discovered a field behind some trees which should give us cover.
"We'll dress up in black costume," he announces. "Then we'll head out to the trees to see what's going on."
"Jack, we won't have time to hang around. My guess is that Bastet will be coming soon," Daniel puts in.
"Yeah, I know. It's already dusk though. I'm thinking that waiting till nightfall will be safer to launch the raid."
We go to get changed and pick up our weaponry. O'Neill said that we should take plenty of explosives, zats and staff weapons. He is not taking any chances on the priests not being armed. That is a sensible idea.
Daniel is carrying a backpack containing the explosives and the flask. He is not carrying a staff weapon as we only have three. He will use one when necessary, but he prefers not to.
Now we are ready and we leave the ship, O'Neill is giving the order for the door to shut as soon as we disembark. It is gratifying to see that the ship has totally disappeared and that the cloaking device is still functioning.
It takes but a moment for us to enter the small woodland and a short time to make our way to the edge nearest the temple. Night is starting to fall, so O'Neill uses his night-vision goggles to see what is happening. He signals that there are three people in the courtyard and two in what looks like an observation post on top of the temple. He does not know if they are armed. There is no fence or wall around the complex, so we cannot keep hidden when we approach.
The guys in the courtyard are jittery.
Perhaps they're waiting for Bastet to turn up?
Could be, Daniel. We're going to have to go and do it now, aren't we?
We all agree and keep low as we creep out of the trees. It is only dusk so our clothing is not helping us one bit. I do not like hastily convened plans and neither does O'Neill. We both wish to choreograph our movements before we attack. However, if Bastet is on her way, then time is of the essence.
Daniel. Get some of the C4 out ready. I want to create a diversion.
Daniel does as instructed and hands the explosive out. We place patches of it on the side of the temple. Samantha and I have taken the west side, Daniel and O'Neill, the east. Somehow, we have not been spotted yet.
Get away from the temple and keep out of sight, he orders. Then when the C4 goes off, Teal'c and Sam, you take high. Daniel and I will take out the guys by the tank. You two, cover us, okay?
We acknowledge him and await the moment.
We do not have to wait long. There is a concussive wave from the blast nearest us but Samantha and I are prepared for it and aim our staff weapons at the men on the roof and fire. Daniel and O'Neill are running across the yard, firing at the men in front of the tank.
Both of our targets are taken out and we run to the tank to join the others, taking pleasure in seeing that the priests are unconscious at the very least. I see that the tank is swimming with larval Goa'uld, so I put my hand inside it and remove one, placing it in the flask that Daniel holds out for me and which already contains some liquid. O'Neill is placing some explosives on the side of the tank. He hands one to me.
"Put it inside, to be on the safe side."
I do as he asks and then remove another larva for myself. Samantha is firing at some people who are rushing out into the courtyard. They are armed. O'Neill is joining her, as is Daniel.
"You got one?" O'Neill asks.
"Grab it and go. You can put it in later."
I hold the squealing larva in my hand and we run, the others firing blindly. O'Neill presses a button and the tank explodes, sending liquid, glass and metal fragments everywhere.
"EW!" Samantha cries out.
Oh. It would seem that larval fragments are also being sent everywhere. I pick the piece out of her hair and we continue to run towards the trees.
"Cassie!" Daniel yells as we crash through to the field. The door opens and we get inside quickly, locking the door behind us. Daniel runs to the peltac and powers up the engine as I drop my weapon and use my free hand to pull 'Junior' out. I give the young larva to Samantha.
"Hold this for a moment, please," I request. "I will need both of my hands for this."
I take no little pleasure in removing its head from its body. Samantha holds the larva at arms' length, the distaste on her face obvious. She is relieved when I take it from her and insert it into my pouch.
It squirms, unhappy about its situation, but soon I feel it settling and taking over the job of my immune system.
O'Neill appears in front of me with a zat. He is looking down at the body of the dead Goa'uld at my feet. He zats it until it disappears, saying nothing, just taking his zat and wandering off to the peltac as soon as it has gone.
"I need to wash my hair," Samantha announces.
I do understand the distaste with which the humans view my primta. However, it occasionally makes me wonder if they would view me the same way as I need one to survive.
"Teal'c? Honey? You going to come and give me a hand?" Samantha calls.
It would seem that my fears are unfounded.
"So, what's going to go wrong?" I ask as I appear on the bridge next to Daniel.
"Wrong? Why should something go wrong?"
"That was too easy," I shrug easily.
He raises an eyebrow and then smacks me with the back of his hand. "Don't ask for trouble."
"Hey, I'm not. I'm just a realist."
"No," he drawls as we break out of the atmosphere and appear at the edge of the path in the minefield. "You're a fucking jinx. SAM! TEAL'C! WE'VE GOT COMPANY!"
"You don't need to yell, Daniel. You can just think it, you know."
"Oh. Anyway, this company. Bastet?"
"Look for yourself."
He shows me a blip - a big blip - on the readout.
"Looks like it."
"What's that tiny blip?"
Teal'c's with us. "Samantha shall join us in a moment," he announces. "She is washing her hair."
"Typical," I say. "Whenever you want a woman around, they're always washing their hair."
"I never had that response," Daniel says smugly. "They were always happy to go out with me."
"Must be something I said," I shrug.
Teal'c's looking at us as if we've gone mad.
"What is wrong, Daniel?" Teal'c asks.
Teal'c's good. Daniel's sniggering.
"Stay cloaked and creep towards her and out of the minefield," I tell him.
"Easier said than done. She's at the edge of it now, there's no room."
"But she will switch the mines off."
"We think," Daniel reminds me.
"She will. Snakes aren't suicidal."
Her ship is so large that even the path we've cut isn't big enough for her.
"Okay, sit still for a minute and let's watch what she does."
A very damp and harried-looking Sam has just appeared on the bridge. Daniel looks like he's about to say who when he grins and says, "Just who we thought."
"That's what Jack said."
You know, it's a miracle that we saved the world so often.
We watch the screen carefully and see just how she does it. It's not how we thought either.
"She has some sort of reverse-polarity shield," Sam says.
I was thinking that. Honest. The mines are drifting away from her.
"Can we go underneath her?" I ask as she gets closer and closer.
"Jack, we're in space. There is no 'underneath'."
"Relatively speaking," I growl. They know damned well what I mean.
"Looking at how far away she's pushing the mines, it would be a tight squeeze," Sam answers.
"We can do tight squeezes. Take us through it, Daniel."
"Uh, Jack, I think we'd be better off if Teal'c pilots us through this. I mean, it's like asking a road driver to take an Indycar around a track in the opposite direction to the racers. We need someone skilled."
He moves away from the console and allows Teal'c to take over. His analogy wasn't far wrong. She's heading steadily towards us, we're doing a similar speed in her direction and we're going to have about five yards clear top and bottom of us between the ship and the mines, and that's if Teal'c can take us through the middle of her shield. Of course, there's nothing to say that we won't get bounced off of her. But seeing as she's heading through the only clear path in the field and that there are live mines either side, the only other option we have is to retreat and hide out. I'm not liking that option.
None of us are speaking as Teal'c carefully takes us closer. Any moment now and we'll be at the edge of whatever effect the reverse-polarity has on us.
Now none of us are breathing. There wasn't any bounce effect. Naquada's not magnetic in the strictly scientific sense that we are familar with, but whatever system she has designed is acting in a similar manner on the mines as two like poles with iron magnets.
Sh-it. We're going under the ship. It is one big mother. We can see into the glider bay from down here and it's a long way up.
"Remind you of anything?" I ask.
Daniel blinks and grins. "Anybody got a virus to upload?"
"Well, I think I'm coming down with a cold."
It seemed to take forever to get past the ship and we've emerged halfway through the minefield.
"Uh, guys? Is it me or are those mines closing up ahead of us?" Sam asks.
We stare at them and see that they are indeed moving slowly closer towards each other, filling in the blanks, so to speak.
"T, floor it!"
"If I do, the mines may well detect the increase in power and come after us," he warns.
"If you don't, we're gonna get detected anyway. Move it!"
We're all holding onto something, not that we need to, but it seems like the thing to do. Teal'c was right, some of the mines have started to move towards us! Not to mention...
"I cannot go any faster without engaging the hyperdrive, O'Neill. I do not recommend that so close to the planet."
"I don't care! Do it!"
"Why, Jack?" Daniel pants, his eyes open wide as he stares.
"Because there's incoming. LOOK!"
They look at the display and they see what I just did. Bastet must have realised that something is up and she's firing on us; probably blindly but hell, it's too close for comfort. Teal'c grunts and presses the button and soon the familiar blue of hyperspace surrounds us. Great, we can breathe.
"Good job, Teal'c."
"Why do you say that, O'Neill?"
"Well, we're away from there, we have accomplished our mission, we've not got a scratch on us..."
"We've got a missile on our tail," Daniel adds blandly.
"WHAT? Oh fuck. How fast is it going?"
"Same speed as us. Don't know how, but it must be caught in our drive or something," Sam informs us.
"Is it getting closer?"
"No. But if it follows the pattern of Goa'uld tech, it's not going to go away until it hits something. Most likely us."
"So we can't go home and risk it slamming into us."
"No, we can't."
"Fucking great. Any suggestions?"
Daniel calls up the local galactic map. I think he's looking at systems in-between where we were and where we want to be.
"Teal'c, take us out of hyperspace at these co-ordinates."
"Why, Daniel?" I ask evenly. I'm really curious, honest.
"Well, we can't stop with this thing on our tail, so we need to give it another target, right?"
"And what better than a snake target?"
"Uh, none. What's there?"
"That, my friend, according to the chart, is the system called Bubastis. I knew the mythology would come in handy."
"The name of Bastet's cult centre."
"She's into cults? What, like the Moonies?"
"Probably more avant-garde than that, Jack, but yeah. The centre of the Bastet cult in Egypt was Bubastis. You want to send the missile home?"
Do I ever.
"Make it so," I say with a grin.
If Jack looked any more smug, the cat with the cream would look like a sourpuss in comparison. We're just coming out of hyperspace and we can see another ship in front of us. Of course, all they can see is a missile. Teal'c's doing his Andretti driving again and aiming us directly at the ship. Getting closer, getting closer. Any minute now...
YES! It worked! I knew getting him a racing programme for his Playstation at the SGC would be a good idea. The one missile won't cause that much damage to the ship but it's sweet anyway. He pulled up at the last possible second, the missile recognised a bigger target and smashed into the side of it. Great. Now we can go home and I can go find my stomach. I think it's hiding out in the escape pods, snuggling up with what used to be my back bone.
Shit like this only happens to us. None of the other teams had such a record for things going wrong. None of the others had an injury record like ours, either. Of course, none of them had a resurrection record like ours. Which is just as well. Once, we counted the number of times we've died and stopped counting when we realised that as a team we'd hit double figures. It was kinda depressing.
Daniel is still pissed that he hasn't heard the eulogy that Jack made when he wasn't even dead. I think that a macabre sense of humour was one of the essentials for being an SG-1 member.
"Take us home, Teal'c," Jack says with a grin as he wraps his arms around Daniel. We're all relieved. That was too damned close yet again.
I give Jack the look and he takes Daniel by the hand and leads him off the bridge. I take the opportunity and wrap my arms around Teal'c. He responds by holding me close.
"How's the new symbiote settling in?" I ask.
"It is doing well," he replies. "It was just as well we were able to retrieve two young larvae. I shall be glad to go to see Rya'c as soon as possible."
"That will be wonderful, honey. It's a relief to know that he's going to be fine, isn't it?"
"It is indeed. I just hope that there will be something that we can do in future to negate the need for him to have further Goa'uld larvae."
"You never know, sweetie. You never know. It's a big galaxy with a lot of aliens. Maybe someone out there will have the ability to produce what will in effect be a cure for dependency on a symbiote. Just think of the good that will do."
"I think of it frequently, my love."
Home at last. Just as well. The ship was starting to make funny noises as we entered our solar system. I think I'm going to need to refit the engines. Undoubtedly Dad'll be here tomorrow anyway, to get a debrief on what happened, so I can tell him what I need. We're going to eat, wash up and crash out, and tomorrow, we'll finish preparing for the builders to come. Teal'c's off to the Land of Light first thing so he gets out of working, lucky thing.
The tunnels are done and we'll need to move our things from the caves and into them as soon as possible. Jack's pretty excited about getting the outbuildings up. I think one of them is going to be a large greenhouse. The seedlings we have on board are only just bearing up. Living in Mia's galley probably isn't the best environment for them, but they're still alive. We have many packets of seeds too. Tomatoes, onions, herbs and spices... We are really looking forward to enlivening our cooking.
Another thing we're going to have to do is scour the planet for red and white meat. We're certain that there are plenty of fish in the lake, but none of us want to live on that for the rest of our lives. It would have been easier if we were all vegetarians, but we're not. Fortunately, seeing as we're committed carnivores, killing and skinning our own food hasn't put us off it, either.
We can't afford to raise any animals, we won't have the time to take care of them, so we'll be hunting for food till we die.
God, that's an awful thought. What if one of us is left? How will that person cope? If it was me, would I go somewhere else or stay?
Stop it, Sam. This is the time to look forward to good things, not bad things.
"Sam, dinner's ready."
Ah well, let's follow the voice. My stomach agrees.
"Tell me again why they've gone to sleep in the tunnel?" Jack asks as we settle down.
"Uh, for peace and quiet?" I suggest.
"Peace and quiet, eh? What noise is there in the ship?"
"At the moment, none. But if you're lucky..."
He looks at me and grins.
"I'm always lucky."
He's always hot, that's why. I can't help it. One look from those big brown eyes and I'm on my back so fast... Daniel 'the slut' Jackson, that's me. I'm sure I wasn't this bad with... or with... or him... or her... no, I wasn't. Was I? Aw fuck it, I probably was. He's looking. Damn. I was hoping to turn the tables tonight. What the hell.
I throw a tube of lube at him and I'm flat on my back in no time. He's trying not to grin as he settles on his knees between my legs.
"Straight to the point or do I get to go the roundabout route?" he asks.
"You're driving," I tell him. "Go where you please."
So he does. Resting on his hands so our chests barely touch, he's tracing delicate kisses over my face, my eyes, my nose... my oh my, that's good. We're both smiling as the tips of our tongues touch tentatively and our noses nuzzle nicely. I'm going to abandon the alliteration and accept the fact that we're fucking instead.
Aw no, not my ears!
"Daniel, why are you laughing?"
"You know I'm ticklish there."
"I know where else you're ticklish."
"Don't you dare flyboy, or the only nookie you're going to get is with your hand."
Maybe so, but contrary to popular opinion I have an extremely heightened sense of self-preservation.
Ah fuck, he's turning his attention to my nipples. Not that I'm complaining, I hasten to add. Far from it. I could lay here all night when he's doing thAT!
"You know it, Jack. Whatever, however, just do it!"
"Ah, my slut. My beautiful slut," he whispers.
Beautiful. HAH! My hair's shorn (we thought it a good thing to do on Earth), these days I'm built like an outhouse, I have hairy legs...
"So fucking gorgeous," he continues.
"Jack, if you're trying to seduce me, it's a waste of breath. Save it for the action, will you?"
"Don't you like me saying that?"
"Uh, well, I should be used to it by now, but it's just you don't have to say these things to get around me."
"Can't I say them because I believe them?"
He stops what he's doing and looks me in the eye.
"Every single fucking word, Daniel."
"Including the one about me being a slut?"
"Well, duh," he replies with a grin.
Good. The opening I was looking for. I put some of this hard-won strength to use, flip him onto his back, grab the lube, cover him up, kneel on him and sit.
He's trying not to laugh as I ride him. In-between gasps he's calling me names and I don't mind one bit. I'm his whore. His slut. He's a fine one to talk though. He'd be right here if I wanted him to be. He'd be riding me the way I'm riding him because all of the above apply to him. My slut. Just mine, really.
I can't keep up the slow pace anymore, I have to speed it up. His eyes are screwed shut as he tries to hold off, but he's failing. I know the looks on his face, I know when he's about to come. I stop any control I had, not that I had much and let go, covering his stomach as he lets go and fills me.
"Hmm," he says as we get our breath back. "So that's why they're in the tunnel."
They're here! Jacob came yesterday for our debrief and he's promised to get some more crystals for our engines and an engineer to come and help Sam. He was pleased with our results, especially when we told him about the larvae for Teal'c and Rya'c and the missile. He was furious about the minefield and has promised a thorough investigation at his end. He's said we should get the ship fixed before we're given any more missions and that settling down would be a good idea.
Which brings me to 'they're here'. The builders have arrived. God only knows there are enough of them. I'm not kidding, there must be about fifty. Some will deal with the other buildings but most are for the house. They reckon that in three days, we'll have a fully furnished house to live in.
We went on board their ship and saw the furniture and fittings in their own hold and were thrilled with them. We have two large baths, each big enough to hold two men (or a Teal'c and a Sam). The beds are king-sized and the mattresses are thick and soft. The sofas are big enough to lie on and there are four of them - two for the living room and one each, along with a table-cum-desk, for the 'quarters'. The dining table is big enough to seat eight and the chairs are matching. It's pretty rustic but it looks good.
There are cupboards and a dresser for the kitchen and the wood-burning stove I wanted. The floors will be wooden but we'll have rugs to cover the boards where we want them. All in all, it's looking good. Given that we have plenty of things from Earth with which to finish the house, by the end of next week, it's going to look as if we've been here for years.
We've finally found out what all the outbuildings will be. Yes, there's a greenhouse, but there will also be a workshop which will be big enough for Jack to do his pottery and for any of us that want to do woodwork or something similar to work alongside him. Another building will be a kiln for him, so he can bake the clay when it's done. Oh, and a smokehouse for when we hunt our food. Preserving it will be much easier with one of those and I have experience from Abydos on how to do it.
Which brings me to the last, but by no means least, structure. A pier that will go from the path leading from the inside curve of the house and into the lake.
I think I'm going to use my considerable experience in experimental archaeology and build Jack a boat. We found some tar pits between us and the marble, and there are some trees that resemble willow. I feel a coracle coming on. Did I mention that Jack brought his fishing gear from the cabin? I didn't? Ah well. I'm sure you could have guessed.