Summary: Making the Statue of Liberty disappear would be child's play for a certain alien. It's time to move in and carry on...
Usual grovelling thanks to Joy for betaing.
That's it! It's all done. The house is built, we moved in officially today from the ship, the outbuildings are all up, the pier is erected... all I have to do is find a suitable wood to make Jack a proper boat. I figured a coracle would be the best thing, a flat-bottomed boat made with flexible wood - almost like a bowl - which is then covered with canvas and tar.
Of course, I'll need canvas and a spare tar pit, too. The one I discovered wasn't as good as I thought it was and the 'willow' trees turned out to be more like balsa. Hey ho. Maybe I'll look at some other design. The reason I wanted to make him a coracle is even though they can be difficult to learn how to manoeuvre, they're great fishing boats and surprisingly stable.
Jack has checked out the fauna of the deep with his fishing rod off the end of the pier (yes, miracles of miracles, he actually caught some. I'm putting that down to the local fish not knowing what a fishing line was and getting curious. It won't last, I'm sure.) and they've turned out to be a trout-like fish. Sam did her usual toxicity test, then I did the ultimate test and cooked some. And no, they didn't taste like chicken. In fact, they taste more like salmon.
Teal'c has made an exploratory trip into the local wood and discovered some game birds. They do taste like chicken. Jack's talking about building a coop or some sort of large enclosure so they can roam and feed themselves, but where it would be quicker for us to catch one.
In the meantime, all of the things from the cave have either been put in the house or in the tunnels. Sam and I are keeping our books and things underground again, just in case of an unforeseen disaster. Once bitten, I guess. We do have shelves up in the house, though. Mainly for books, but the sort of books we'll read when relaxing, not studying.
We've stored all of the new games we bought in the living area and we'll keep one of the computers up in the house so we can watch one of the many DVDs we bought back on Earth.
As an aside, we totted up how much we'd spent between us and let's just say the total ran into four figures. I'm not talking $99.99 either. After the initial "You spent how much?" from Jack, he settled down. It's not as if the money's doing us any good in an Earth bank after all.
Currently, Jack's marking out where the kitchen garden is going to go. He figured that we should cut some stone from the mountain or other suitable source so that we can make footpaths from the house to the various buildings. That way we'll keep mud out of the house. Which is a good thing. One thing we don't have is a vacuum cleaner. On our next trip home we'll get one of those old-fashioned carpet sweepers that doesn't need electricity.
Having said that, Sam's looking into ways to link the power source from the Tok'ra tunnels to the house and convert them into 120V so that we can have an electrical system that we're more used to. That would give us the chance to buy appliances at home the next time we're there. Anything to make life a little easier.
Apparently, it's not going to be an easy task. Sam's warning of the fact that the generator used in the tunnel runs at the equivalent of a much higher voltage and hertz rate. Whatever that means. Something to do with needing a mega-transformer, anyway. Personally, I'm wondering what a kid's robot toy has to do with it all.
I've finished putting our clothes into the walk-in wardrobe we have and I've made the bed. I'm looking forward to christening it tonight. It's big, really big - a four-poster which has endless possibilities for a bit of tying up fun. Has two mattresses on it and could feasibly host a football match. Okay, maybe that was an exaggeration. A basketball match would be closer.
We need to find a planet where we can buy rugs for the floors and maybe some wall-hangings. I get the feeling it's going to be cold in winter, so they'd help.
Teal'c is outside at the moment, chopping wood. Why he's chopping wood I don't know. He's using an axe! Yes, we need a woodpile or else we won't be able to have a fire or cook on the wood-burning stove. No, he doesn't need to chop when we have perfectly good laser cutters that go through the hardest materials like a hot knife through butter. I guess he's enjoying the exercise or something.
We've scraped the bark off the tree that he's cutting and now it's drying in the kiln. Jack test-fired the kiln more or less straight away and he's thrilled to bits with it. When he damped down the fire, we shovelled the bark inside there. The reason for this is that the bark is going to be used in the smokehouse when we have something to smoke. It smells really nice - kind of sweet yet spicy. We can use the kiln to make charcoal too, so that will mean a barbecue. Jack's looking forward to that.
Time to make dinner.
"Teal'c, I need to fire up the stove. Is there any kindling?"
"There is indeed, Daniel."
He points me to a pile of twigs and branches. None of this tree will go to waste. The leaves have gone into a box that Jack brought back from Earth, a kind of flatpack composter. He put it up and all organic waste will go into it. It'll take some months but we'll have a plentiful supply of compost for the vegetable garden.
"Thanks, Teal'c. I'll just get dinner on. Are you enjoying yourself?"
"I am. It is, as O'Neill says, honest labour."
I understand that. Sometimes, when you're chasing across the galaxy, using the latest in alien technology and living out a sci-fi film plot, the simple things like cooking on a wood stove or chopping a tree with an axe can be quite pleasurable. It's probably why we don't really miss Earth all that much most of the time.
Daniel has returned to the kitchen with the wood that I have chopped. It is, as I told him, a most enjoyable pursuit. I feel like I have done something useful and I have something to show for it - something that will benefit us all.
He seems to be more positive about our home here on Annwn. This is all to the good. Maybe he will allow himself to consider this as his new home, hopefully a permanent one.
It takes me a while longer and then I finish my work. Just in time to be disturbed.
"Hey, T, are you done?"
"I am, O'Neill. The entire tree is now ready for use."
"Great! We're really getting somewhere, aren't we?"
"I was not aware that we were moving again."
"Uh, figure of speech."
I know that, however it does not do to let O'Neill slacken his concentration.
"What are your plans, O'Neill?"
"Well, we have a week till we have to go pick up the next mission brief," he says as he sits on my woodpile. "So, I guess it's a quiet time. We could do with one, after all."
"We could. I presume you will wish to fish?"
"Absolutely. No point in using the food from the stores unless we have to, or we feel like a change in our diets. I'll be doing some gardening too, I think. I'm going to dig up the beds for the vegetables. We'll need to cut some stones to make the raised herb garden that Daniel wants, oh and some more for the path, too."
"I also believe that Daniel has an idea for the front of the house. Something to do with keeping the rain from the transport rings."
"I am not sure. We should enquire when we meet at our mealtime."
"Yeah, talking of which..."
"Daniel is cooking it at this moment."
"Good. I'm hungry." He puts his hands in his pockets and is now swinging his feet back and forth. "When's Sam getting back?"
"She should return soon," I tell him. "I am not sure if meeting Frankie will help with her plans to power the house, but the idea of discussing things with her seems to make Samantha happy."
"Yeah, must be a woman thing, too."
"Surely you noticed how much she'd missed a bit of female company?"
"I see. Indeed I did. Unfortunately there is little that I can do to assist her."
He nods, then he grins. This worries me.
"You could always try wearing a dress..." he suggests. I look at him. "Forget I said it, big guy. It was a bad idea."
There is an uncomfortable silence and then he stands up. "I'll just go and check on Daniel."
"That would be wise."
Sheesh. Sometimes Teal'c seems like he's had a sense of humour bypass. I was kidding, right? The thought of the T man in a dress and high heels - no, just don't go there.
"Are you sure?"
"Because you answered me with a question?"
"More a rhetorical one, Jack. In that there is a fish in the pan in front of you. I'd have thought it would be obvious. Or do you need the Tok'ra to fix your eyes again?"
I scowl back at him.
"Yeah, you've got that squint again," he says evenly. "Must be spending too much time with your right hand."
"Explains how come you were so short-sighted," I tell him.
He just smiles dangerously. "Uh huh, that was someone else's right hand."
Dammit. I'll never get one over on him. At least not in a verbal situation...
"Have you made the bed?"
I watch as his right eyebrow starts a slow ascent. A skill honed with many, many hours of practise at the side of the master, Teal'c.
"What do you think?"
"I'll take that as a 'yes'," I answer.
"You do that. Look, Jack, could you go to the gate and call Sam, please? Dinner will be ready in ten."
"'Kay. I'm looking forward to it."
Sam sulked a bit when I called her through the gate. Seems like she and her metal self were getting somewhere with the transformer. I'm kinda partial to the idea of us getting electricity in the house. Sam says that if it doesn't work, we can return to Earth a little sooner than planned (about six months from now) and she'll buy solar panels and stuff like that. If we can get it supplied before winter sets in, it'll be even better. And no utility bills!
We have a clean water supply from the mountain which is piped into the house. We have hot water, too. At least we will tonight. The wood stove not only cooks our food, it heats a huge tank of water too. We haven't tried out the baths, yet, but tonight, it's all planned.
After dinner, we'll sit together and relax in the living room. Then we will retreat to the bathrooms, avail ourselves of the facilities and then we go to bed. No prizes for guessing what's going to happen then, right?
We even have showers in the bathrooms. This place is turning into a little palace.
Ha! If I'd only listen to my ramblings. Back home, if you didn't have a shower and/or a bath, or even a proper toilet, you wouldn't think you were well-off. But back on Remoc, we lived happily in a basic log cabin, with no power, the most basic plumbing available and little chance in the way of improving matters. Now with every increase in facilities, we think we're in the lap of luxury. I guess that to some, we are.
It's all a matter of perspective. I'm glad we lived in that cabin. It gave us the ability to appreciate every tiny detail in our new home.
It's only just dawned on me that I've just called Sam from a different part of the galaxy so she will be in time for dinner. How screwy is that?
Now that's what I call an 'opening night' dinner. Daniel's done us proud. As soon as we entered the house, he sent the three of us to wash up quickly and by the time we were back, he'd dished up.
We have that trout cooked in lemon, white wine, butter and spices, the juices used to make a creamy sauce. It's so tender that it's just flaking off the forks. He's served it up with creamed potatoes from the Land of Light, a small red vegetable that looks like a baked bean but tastes like petit pois, and a purple brassica-like vegetable that we call broccoli.
It would seem that though foodstuffs look very different throughout the galaxy, there are very few totally new flavours to us. It's why we use the familiar names.
Needless to say, the small amount of wine used in the cooking has allowed us to drink the rest.
"My compliments to the chef," I say, raising my glass to Daniel as I sit back in my chair, my plate sparkling clean. The others join me, though Teal'c drinks water only.
"My pleasure," he says. "Dessert?"
"You made dessert?" Jack asks, his eyes lighting up.
"Well, it is a special occasion," Daniel replies with a smile.
He gets up and goes to what the builders called a frigidarium... in other words, it's a fridge. Basically it's a big metal box that lives next to the worktop. Looks a bit like a chest freezer in that you open the top. Inside are shelves around each side and baskets that sit in the middle that can be removed if you need to store something big. We also have a gelidarium, a freezer, which lives in the food store. It has, like the fridge, a small self-contained power source. Naquada, naturally. I wonder if I could build something...
"What?" I reply but I immediately notice 'what'. Chocolate pudding.
"I got some extra chocolate from the Mayans when I went there yesterday," Daniel says.
He popped over there to trade some fish for some coffee. They don't have access to many large bodies of water, so fish are rare and prized. We have a mile-wide lake to feed four of us. It's full of fish. For us, on the other hand, it's coffee that's rare. And highly prized, naturally.
He places it on the table and all of us follow its every move with our eyes and twitching spoons. Daniel gives out bowls and then takes them each in turn, scooping up the lightest, fluffiest and creamiest-looking chocolate mousse we've ever seen.
"I got some cream and some eggs from them too," he says. "And, er, vanilla pods."
He's put my bowl in front of me and politeness goes out of the window as I take a mouthful and slowly slide the spoon out of my mouth, making sure to lick it clean. He's used coffee in it, and cinnamon. Every time my tongue touches a different bit, I get a new flavour, yet throughout it the chocolate comes over the most. He's somehow balanced the flavours like one of the top chefs in France.
"How, Daniel?" I finally ask.
"How did you make it?"
"It's simple," he shrugs. "I just had to make it a few hours ago so that it would set in the fridge."
"That's why you wouldn't let anyone in the kitchen earlier," Jack puts in. Daniel just smiles. Despite Jack's teasing of Daniel and me as being the chocoholics in this family, he's a sucker for a good chocolate dessert.
"So?" I push.
"Oh, um, melt the chocolate, stir the egg yolks, flavours and cream into it. Uh, whisk up the whites till they're stiff, fold them in together. Et voilą! Let it set and it's done."
"There's more to it than that," I say, unbelieving.
"No, seriously. All you need to know are the amounts and that's it." Then he looks at me, then waves his hand around the place. "It's surprising what you can do with the simplest of materials, isn't it?"
All I can do is nod.
"We're eating raw egg?" Jack asks in horror.
Daniel declines to answer.
The best thing about dinner was that the others cleared up. I enjoyed just cooking properly for once, not using Tok'ra technology or a pot on a camp fire. Now we're on the sofas, Teal'c and Sam on what they've clearly bagged as theirs, Jack and me on ours. We have some more wine, we're snuggling up in front of the fire and it's really, really homely.
"Daniel, Teal'c says you have an idea for the front of the house?" Jack prompts.
"Yeah. It's just a thought," I say. "Remember that we bought rolls of clear plastic to use for the greenhouse but that it wasn't used?"
They all agree.
"Well, I thought that if we were to make some frames, like brackets, and put them on the curve of the house on the lakeside, we could run the plastic over them. That way we'd still get the light coming in but we'd be kept dry if we needed to go into the tunnels during a rainstorm."
"What if the rain comes in from the lake?" Sam asks. "It would get underneath the cover."
"It's not perfect, but it should keep most of the rain off," I answer. "If we have enough, we could build a sort of covered passage to the food store, too."
The food store is one of the outbuildings, near the smokehouse at the end of what we've marked out as the garden. In it we will keep the root vegetables when harvested, and anything like that that we trade for. It's not big, but it holds the freezer, too.
"How?" Jack asks.
"Well, we could cut some poles from trees, then put each post either side of the path that you suggested we make, put another pole or split pole on the top horizontally to connect each one and stabilise them. Then we could put more of the plastic over the top. If we have enough, that is."
"I bought way more than I would have needed for one large greenhouse," Jack says. "I figured I'd need at least three times the amount just in case anything went wrong, or the winter winds on Remoc blew the greenhouse away."
That was always a possibility, so that was a sensible course of action. Good tactical planning - but then I wouldn't expect less from Jack.
"So, what do you think?"
"I think it's a good idea," Jack answers. "Guys?"
Teal'c and Sam agree. Much as none of us are the type to think we're melting if we get wet, there's no point in getting soaked if it's not necessary. Jack's got a smile on his face.
"Oh, I was just thinking. In the wood, there are some climbing plants on the sides of some trees. Just on the edges where they get the most sun. They're really colourful. If we could transplant some and get them to grow up the poles, it would be like one of those European chateau gardens with trellises and the like."
There's not really a lot to say about that, is there?
This is the life. We said goodnight, retired to our respective sides of the house and now, Jack and I are in the bath. I dare say that Sam and Teal'c are in theirs. It's wonderful. We step down into it, it's built into the floor. There are a couple of ledges on the sides so we can sit on them. It's wide enough for four, I think. On the floor of the bath, there's a mosaic in the typical Roman style. Seems some things don't change. To get the water, we lift a silver lever for cold and a gold-coloured one for hot. I bought some bath oils on Earth - thinking of the bath at the pleasure palace when I did. They're perfect for this. Jack and I are getting nice and slippery.
"What're you thinking, Daniel?"
"Uh, I was wondering... Would you like to replay our last bath at the palace, but the other way around?"
I see some water jump as Jack's already stiff cock twitches at that thought.
"I think I could be persuaded," he says with a leer.
First, though, he pulls me till I'm straddling his thighs, kneeling on the bottom ledge. Our dicks touch and we both gasp. Then he grabs me by the sides of my face and proceeds to equalise the pressure between my ears. Hnng. Oh God, I feel his hands move up and down my back, rubbing the oil from the bath into it. Then he goes lower and lower, till I feel his fingers trailing over my ass. Yeah, he's heading for his goal. My goal. Still kissing, our tongues twisting together, our lips stuck as if held there by glue.
My own hands aren't idle, they roam up and down his back, grabbing at his shoulders and working them as if massaging them from time to time. How long have we been doing this? I don't know. It seems like forever.
Ye-ah, that's it. He's fingering me, pushing as many as he can inside me, pretending to be rough but at the same time he's careful not to hurt me. Always a contradiction, my Jack. Always wonderful.
God, that feels good. Don't know how many fingers are inside me it's just a lot, stretching me, filling me. Shit, he's taken them out.
"Shh, it's okay," he murmurs. "Not going anywhere. Why don't you just..."
Oh yeah, he's moving me till I'm just in the right position. I hold onto the edge of the bath and with a slow push back... ye-ah. The oil in the water is helping me slide down him until he's all the way in. Hang on...
"How is it that I'm going to do all the work again?"
"Er, 'cause I'm the old guy?"
"Jack, you have the physiology of an incredibly fit man in his early thirties."
"So? You have the body of a fit guy in his twenties."
His eyes are twinkling at me as if he's pleased to get one over on me. We'll soon see about that.
Okay, squeezing my ass muscles is probably cheating.
"Bastard, move it."
"You sweet-talker, you."
He's chuckling now, grabbing my ass and pulling me up, then moving his hands to my hips and pushing me back down.
"There, you got it now?"
"Oh, I think so, Jack. You just hold tight."
I think I want to get some sort of inflatable pads. I could put them on the ledge either side of Jack's thighs and kneel on them. A bit of padding wouldn't go amiss, the ledge is tiled and hard. Still, I'm sure I can take my mind off that for a while.
Slowly, I am moving oh, so slowly. U-p, do-wn, wriggle a bit, then back u-p. Jack's stopped talking, stopped moving his hands. He's holding my hips so tightly that I think he's going to leave fingertip-sized bruises. I don't care, it feels good. He feels good. A slight change of angle and the ridge of his cut cock scrapes over my prostate, making my dick twitch with every touch. There's little sound in here, just the splash of the water as I move and the quiet grunts from us both.
"Jack," I gasp. I need to get off. He gets the message and moves his right hand to my cock, squeezing it, running his rough thumb over the head and then jerking me in time to my own movements. I speed up, he speeds up, we're racing to the end.
"Oh shit, Daniel. I'm gonna..."
Don't want to hold off, can't hold off.
I feel him, I feel his dick pulsing inside of me, I can feel him coming. Oh shit.
My turn, all over his hand, my stomach, his stomach. Don't want to stop coming, but I do. We hold onto each other tightly, kissing each other's face and neck, I clasp his head in my hands and he does the same to me.
He laughs at me and then his eyes glisten again. "How about we go to bed, Daniel?"
"Sounds good to me."
Making out again was just limited to kissing and groping, we've decided to leave the actual inaugural JackDaniel's fuck till the morning. Can't wait for my wake-up call.
"Morning, Daniel." I feel his hot breath on my neck and my dick jerks with the anticipation. Don't know what he's got planned but knowing him, he's definitely got something planned.
"You going to bite my head off for not having any coffee ready?"
"No, not if you make it worth my while I won't."
"Think that can be arranged."
He's rolled me onto my back and I see that my naked honey is as hard as nails, his cock red and dripping already. Out of sympathy, mine responds in kind. Licking his lips, he's heading straight for it. Oh God, yeah. He won't get his head bitten off if he gives head like that.
"Good morning, Samantha. I have brought you coffee."
"Aw, sweetie, thank you."
I help her to sit up and prop her up on the pillows. Not that she needs the assistance, but I have found that if I pay attention to the small details, it usually ends up with me being rewarded tenfold. She sips the coffee and her face breaks out into a beautiful smile.
"What did I do to deserve you?" she asks.
I am not sure how I should answer this. However, I try.
"You did not have to do anything, Samantha. Just existing is enough for me."
I get an even bigger smile from her.
"You say the most romantic things," she says.
"Is that a problem?"
"No! Why would it be?"
"I am afraid that I would insult you. That your warrior nature would be offended by words of love."
She reaches out and takes my hand.
"No, Teal'c. Never. You live your respect for me and my abilities. Hearing the wonderful things you say makes me remember that I am not only a warrior. No man has ever treated me as well as you do."
"I am relieved."
We both turn to look at the door, even though it is shut.
Daniel. Are you all right?
NO! Jack's gone!
What do you mean, gone?
That's what I mean. He's gone. One moment he was with me, the next he vanished into thin air.
Can you contact him?
I've tried. He's nowhere near.
This is strange. Samantha and I will join you immediately.
"I know, I heard," she says as she hurries to get dressed.
I don't fucking believe it. There I was, just about to take Daniel's dick into my mouth and what happens? I get beamed aboard a ship. I think I know who's behind this.
"I am here, O'Neill."
He looks me up and down as I stand up (I was beamed up on my hands and knees!) and he looks directly at my cock which hasn't gone down yet.
"Is it supposed to do that?"
"Yes it is! Now send me back, dammit and give me time to get dressed."
One look at Thor and my dick droops. Thank God.
"It would appear to have malfunctioned. You are uncomfortable? I could increase the heat?"
"No. Send me back to the planet. Give me five minutes, then come down there and join us, will you?"
He thinks, blinks and then nods.
"I will join you in five minutes."
I see him moving one of the stones and... I appear back on the planet. In the garden.
"Dammit, Thor, would it have hurt to return me to my bedroom?" I yell at the sky.
I stomp back inside the house, discover that the kitchen is now filled with Teal'c, Sam and a worried-looking Daniel who's only in his shorts (at least he had the chance to put some clothes on) and stomp through it. I am way passed being embarrassed about being naked in front of Sam. She's seen me screwing with Daniel. A naked stroll is nothing in comparison.
"Jack? What happened?"
"Thor happened. Get dressed, he's coming down in five."
He follows me into the bedroom and we hurriedly throw some clothes on.
"Thor, eh?" he says as he pulls on his jeans.
"What did he want?"
"I got that. Why?"
"Dunno. Wait and see. I insisted on being returned."
"Oh. I guess being transported must have deflated you pretty quickly," he chuckles, looking at my now - thankfully - covered groin.
I glare at him. "No."
I'm saying no more.
A few minutes later and we're all sitting around our table. Dressed, naturally, and with coffees in our hands. A flash of light heralds the arrival of my nemesis.
"So, Thor, what can we do for you?" Daniel asks, trying not to sound sexually frustrated.
Thor looks pretty sheepish.
"The Asgard are in need of some assistance," he says. "We have... lost something."
"Lost something?" That doesn't sound like the Asgard. "What, like a battle?"
"Some piece of technology?"
"Thor? What have you lost?"
He pauses awkwardly and then finally admits it.
Jack's face is a picture. In fact we're all looking pretty astounded.
"A planet? How the fuck do you lose a planet? Have you lost it to the Goa'uld?"
"No. It is just... gone. One day it was there, the next it was not," Thor replies with a sigh.
"I take it you don't think it was a natural disaster?" I ask.
"No, there is no sign that the planet was ever there."
A silence descends on us and we look at each other in confusion.
"Uh, Thor, I'm not sure what you want us to do," Jack says.
"Find it," Thor answers.
"Well, yeah, but if you've got the advanced technology, how do you expect us to find something that's evading your abilities?"
Thor doesn't answer for a while, then he says, "It is my belief that it is being hidden. The Asgard High Council, however, do not think so."
"Er, why?" Daniel asks.
"They do not believe that there is anyone with the technology to do so. I am afraid that they are becoming arrogant and that once again, this arrogance will be our downfall."
"Like with the Replicators," Jack nods in understanding.
"Exactly. Which brings me to why I am asking for your help. The Replicators are once again causing problems on our borders, so I will be needed to return to the battle. The Council will not ask for help in this matter as it is... embarrassing, I believe. I am certain that the answer to the problem is a lot simpler than at first appears."
"Which is why you're coming to us?" Jack asks.
"Yes. Major Carter proved that the manner in which the Asgard think is too complicated. We need a more basic approach."
If it were any other alien saying this, we'd be insulted. Fortunately, we're becoming immune to Thor's ways.
Jack looks at the rest of us and we all agree to help in our own way. I nod, Teal'c gives a little bow and Daniel shrugs.
"Sure, why not?" Jack says. "Is there a gate on this planet?"
"There is, but it cannot be accessed."
"How far away is it?" I ask. "I mean, how long will it take us to get there in Mia?"
"What is Mia?"
Thor thinks for a moment and then says, "Approximately fifty of your years."
"Uh, Thor, buddy, I'm seeing a little problem here," Jack interrupts.
"There is no problem, O'Neill. You will enter your ship and fly it to mine. My ship will take it to the system in which the planet resided. I will give you a device with which to communicate with me when you have discovered the planet."
"And if we don't? Discover the planet that is," Jack argues.
"Then that would be most unfortunate."
Before Jack can say any more, Daniel asks, "What's the name of the planet, Thor?"
Daniel ignores Jack but his eyes open wide at that name.
"Uh, Jotunheim, the land of the giants," he says. "Legend had it containing the Well of Mimir, a repository of wisdom."
"There is a repository on Jotunheim," he says. "It is one of the reasons that the planet is so important."
"And why the Council doesn't want outsiders looking for it?" Jack prompts.
Thor just nods, saying nothing.
Jack looks back at the rest of us and gets the same response. We have a week before our next scheduled mission so we may as well.
"Okay, give us a while to get ready. We'll meet you in space."
With that, Thor disappears.
"Teal'c, can you contact the droids and give them this, please?" Jack asks, scribbling something on a piece of paper. "It's the co-ordinates and time for the next drop, just in case we're delayed," he explains. "They can do the mission instead of us if they're not busy. Uh, they can let Jacob know where we are if he asks. Only if he asks, mind."
Teal'c takes the paper and a VCD and goes off to see the androids, leaving the rest of us to get ready.
"Uh, Jack, I'll just go and get some books," I tell him. I have a feeling I'm going to need them. As quickly as I can, I go down to the tunnels, pack up all my books on Norse mythology and then go down the tunnel to the other ring. A moment later and I'm inside the ship.
We decided that Mia shouldn't just be our home-from-home and transport for missions, we've turned one of the old cells into a study. Sam has most of her technical equipment on the bridge - scanners and the like. But sometimes, we'll need to sit in peace and quiet.
There's a mattress on the floor that was rescued from the palace before the androids turned up. It's been stuck down with the Tok'ra equivalent of superglue so forays into zero-G don't affect it. There's no desk or anything, but we can sit quietly and just read in comparative comfort. There is also a lockable cupboard which is bolted to the floor. Inside that there is a shelf which is just below the top of the cupboard and which is deep enough to hold side-by-side the two laptops that Sam and I put here and which is narrow enough to stop them moving around and getting damaged. Below that are a couple of shelves for books, notepads and so on.
I can change the books for each mission, depending on what I'm most likely to need. Sam bought a couple of scanners when we were home and she's going to power them with the same solar source that we use to keep the laptop batteries topped up. When we have enough time - or just time to kill - we're going to scan our books into the computers and then download each one onto a blank CD. That way we'll be able to store our entire library in a small cupboard.
However, that's likely to take years. Needless to say, we bought a ton of blank CDs.
None of the aforementioned, however, sheds any light on our current problem. There's something about the problem that is ringing a distant bell, but every time I turn to grab at it, it slips through my grasp.
I get word that we're ready to go. Jack and Sam have made sure that all the supplies are ready, Teal'c's back on board and we're about to take off. I think I want to talk to Thor as soon as possible.
Thor's ship is so big that the teltac is in the cargo bay and isn't taking up much room. He's told us to meet him up on the bridge and given us directions. First, we have to step into a tube. Hmm. Okay, let's see where this go-es! It went up. Quickly. My stomach is still in the cargo bay. I watch as the others pop up one at a time, each of them looking as bewildered as I felt. Even Teal'c looks stunned.
"Uh, this way, I guess," I say to Jack's query of 'where to now?', and point in what I assume is the general direction of the bridge.
We team up and walk as one down the wide corridor. I never went on the Belisknir, but apparently, this ship is different from it, so even the others have no clue.
Finally, we're there. We see that we're already moving through space.
"Hey, Thor," Jack says quietly. "How long before we get there?"
"Approximately one hundred and twenty minutes," he replies.
"Uh, Thor, have you got any ideas about this problem?" I ask him.
"I am not sure," he sighs. "Something tells me that it is being perpetrated by an Asgard, however."
He pauses, wondering just how much he should say. We know that Thor is getting pissed off with the High Council of the Asgard, though, so maybe that will push him.
"We, the Asgard, should be trying to solve this problem," he replies carefully. "I am concerned that the Council does not seem to be interested in what is happening."
The implications of this rattle through our brains.
"Uh, Thor, is Tiwaz on the High Council?" I ask, studying my nails. Oops - shouldn't bite them.
"Yes. Why do you ask?"
The other three look at me in horror.
"We met him," I say casually. "Er, on a quest of sorts."
Thor stares at me and then nods. "You completed the quest no doubt?"
"And you can now communicate with each other?"
Jack gets where this is going. "Uh, Thor, buddy, can this Tiwaz read our minds?"
Thor blinks, then says, "I am not sure. However, of all of the Council members, Tiwaz is the most reasonable. I do not believe that he would use you to gain information."
"Can you be sure about that?" Jack pushes.
Thor has to admit, "No. I cannot. When I return to Aesir, I will question him." He looks at our worried faces. "Do not fear, I shall not tell him that you are on yet another quest."
We relax, a little. Sam has a question for him.
"Uh, Thor, just in case there's a problem with you returning to us and if we don't find this planet, where's the nearest safe planet with a stargate?"
Samantha's question is a sound tactical one. Thor says that he will connect his computer to the navigational computer on the teltac and shall download all available navigational information into it. Samantha is pleased. Whereas all of the Goa'uld-held gates are plotted, few of the non-Goa'uld gates are.
Even though the SGC was sharing information with the Tok'ra, not all of the Ancients' addresses were passed on. Only those that it was deemed necessary to share were. Samantha has since input the addresses of the Ancients' system but the necessary 'tying up' of the addresses to locations is not complete. Despite his advanced technology, it takes quite some time for this download to occur, during which we all remain quiet.
"Thor, one last question," Daniel says as we slow down and arrive in the system where Jotunheim was supposed to be. "How much of the myth is reality? You say that there is a repository there, but what form does it take? If we do find the planet and get onto it, are we really going to see giants?"
Thor considers this for a moment. "There is a race of people on the planet," he says. "In small numbers, just in a few settlements. I believe that your ancestors would call them giants, but they are not as big as you might imagine. The repository is in fact a library."
We all fight a smile as Daniel's eyes light up at that word.
"A library? With books?"
"Mainly with data crystals," Thor replies, and Daniel's shoulders drop. "However, there are some books which are ancient." He regains some shoulder height.
"What sort of knowledge is contained in this repository?" O'Neill asks.
"The entire knowledge of the Asgard. All of our history, the tactics used in battles past, the treaties signed over the millennia... everything is there, O'Neill. It is why it is so important to us."
"I take it it's well-guarded?" Daniel asks, trying to look disinterested.
"It is. No Goa'uld may enter," he adds, looking in my direction. "It would not recognise the Jaffa Teal'c."
We acknowledge his warning.
"We have arrived. Your task is just to find the planet. If, however, you feel that landing on the planet to search out the perpetrator of this event would aid you, you have my permission. Take these."
He hands O'Neill two devices.
"This one is to call me," he says. "You may keep that for future use also. The other is a message to the Asgard guards on Jotunheim that you are there on my behalf. If you can refrain from using it then that would be the most preferable situation. I would rather that the Asgard Council do not know of your involvement. However, I do not wish you to become captured for no reason."
"Thanks, pal," O'Neill says. "We'll try to keep that in mind."
"Try to stay away from the giants," Thor adds cautiously. "They will not recognise the authorisation given to you. They are not reasonable beings."
"Right," O'Neill drawls, unhappy by this development. "Ah well, we'll go back to Mia and start looking. Knowing the kids, they'll already have some ideas."
We all turn to Samantha and Daniel. They look horrified.
"Uh, no?" Daniel says, his voice questioning even though he makes a statement.
"Don't look at me," Samantha adds.
This could be a long mission.
Ideas? We've just got here and he wants ideas already? Who does he think I am? Daniel?
We're on Mia, somewhere in the solar system of this disappearing planet. The weirdest thing is that there is a moon which is continuing to apparently orbit an object that isn't there!
Thor's gone, but not before he downloaded all of the gate information onto the teltac's computer. Daniel's gone to check his books and Teal'c's wandered off somewhere. Jack's staring out of the window, looking for inspiration. Just for the hell of it, I'm calling up the holographic navigational display. WOAH! Would you look at that?
"Sam? What's that?"
"Uh, Jack, that would appear to be the galaxy," I say, unable to take my eyes off of it.
It would seem that not only has Thor downloaded the gate addresses and therefore locations, but he's somehow fiddled with the capabilities of Mia's display system. I think that every star in the Milky Way is here. It's beautiful. Incredible. And it's floating in the middle of the bridge!
Teal'c! Daniel! Come to the bridge! You've got to look at this!
Okay, I'm excited.
We hear their footsteps as they clatter onto the bridge and see them both screech to a halt.
"Wow. That's... that's..." Daniel stammers.
"Yeah, it is. Look, I think that every white star is neutral, uh, not in the stargate system," I say - guessing, I know, but we've got to start somewhere with figuring this out. It's colour-coded and not just in star colours.
"As we are here," I point out a flashing purple star, "I'd guess that all the purple stars are Asgard controlled. All we have to do is figure out which stars are Goa'uld-held and which were on the Ancients' list and we'll have the entire gate network plotted."
The flashing star also has a little bit of gold in the centre. There are green stars, red stars, blue stars... some with and some without the gold. As Jotunheim has a gate, my guess is that all gold-flecked stars have gates. I've also discovered that if I put in the co-ordinates of a particular system, that system's star grows and shows the surrounding planets, but stays in the area of the galaxy in which it is in reality.
"Put in the co-ordinates of Annwn," Daniel says quietly.
I do, and the blue star with a gold fleck shines. So, blue equals Ancients.
"Now try Chulak."
That give us the red ones for the Goa'uld.
"Now try Earth."
That's the green.
"Protected planets?" Jack suggests.
"Could be. Uh, Sam? What about those?"
Daniel points out a smallish group that I didn't see before. Two groups in fact. One has the colour silver, the other has the colour lilac. Some have gates and some don't.
"I wonder who they are?"
"I have no idea," Daniel murmurs. "Uh, Sam, is it possible to compare the list of planets that we knew about with what we now have?"
"Yes, I think so. Hang on."
I press a button and the galaxy disappears. Then on the view screen, I pull up three lists. The original list of Goa'uld gates, next to it is the one that got downloaded into Jack's brain. Now there's the list from Thor. And it's bigger.
"Daniel? What are you thinking?"
"Uh, maybe the Ancients weren't the only ones to build gates? Maybe the Asgard, or some other race built some, probably after sharing the technology with them, or copying it after the Ancients disappeared. Whatever, we now have an extra... couple of hundred gates, at a guess."
The implications of this sink in and the four of us are stunned.
"Jack? We have to go visit one of these one day," Daniel prompts.
"Yeah. Maybe it'll be the Furballs?"
Daniel scowls. "Furlings, Jack."
A silence falls for the minute.
"Fascinating as this is, kids, it's not solving our immediate problem, is it?"
With sighs, we all put on our thinking caps.
That's all we need. More aliens. Still, it'll keep Sam happy with her astrophysics and stuff and Daniel will probably have an orgasm over potential cultural implications. Teal'c and I are just knowing that whatever it is, it's gonna mean trouble with a capital 'shit'.
Daniel's toddled back off to check up some sources on Asgard mythology for some reason. Teal'c's disappeared again and Carter's scanning. Don't know why, it ain't there.
"Sam? Why are you doing this?"
"I'm not really sure," she admits. "I guess I just want to eliminate the fact that it isn't still there, we just can't see it. I mean, why is that moon apparently still orbiting something otherwise?"
"Don't you think the Asgard would have done that?"
She looks at me wryly. "Yeah, but given what Thor said, would you be surprised to discover that he hasn't been told everything?"
She's got a point.
"It's not there. If it was just cloaked, I'd get something, I'm sure. The gravitational effect of the planet wouldn't just disappear. Would it?"
I dunno - why's she asking me? Though to be fair, I can see what she's saying.
"But it can't be gone as even though I'm not detecting the gravity, the moon's still... orbiting for want of a better word... in what appears to be its normal path."
"So, where is it? Could it have been towed out of the system?"
"What, you mean stolen?" She looks at me in shock then she shrugs. "Jack, we're talking alien tech that can make a planet disappear. I doubt very much whether shifting a planet to another system would be outside the realms of possibility. Difficult, yes. Likely - I doubt it. Possible? I'd have to say 'yes'."
"What about the nearest solar system? Could it have been taken there?"
She pulls up the galactic map again - I think she just wants another chance to look at it. Can't say I blame her, it's pretty.
"It's not too far," she says. "We can be there in an hour."
"Do it. We're not going to spot it here, are we?"
With a nod, she sets the course and we go.
O'Neill called to say that we are going to look in the next solar system. I am not sure why, but I accept this. I am currently attempting to meditate, hoping that a peaceful mind could suggest possibilities as to the solution to this problem. However, I am neither in need of kel'no'reem nor am I able to achieve it. I always find it difficult on missions.
Instead, I return to the bridge and see my Samantha studying the galactic map. She is so fascinated by it that she has not even noticed that I am standing behind her.
"GAH! TEAL'C! What did you do that for?"
She turns quickly around and punches my arm gently.
"Because it is most amusing."
She would seem to wish to be cross with me but she is still smiling. She wraps her arms around my neck and I lift her so that we are face to face. Now she has wrapped her legs around my waist and I am holding her more comfortably.
"So, Samantha. Have you discovered anything?"
"Not really," she sighs. "But the new mapping technology is incredible."
Her eyes light up as she speaks and I cannot help but kiss her.
"How long before we arrive at the next system?" I ask.
"Uh, about forty minutes."
That should just about be enough time. Not putting her down, I turn and leave the bridge and head straight for our quarters.
How would I make something big disappear? It's the question that's been rattling through my brain since I heard about this.
I've scanned the pages of my books relevant to Jotunheim and haven't seen anything that's triggered off a thought. Jotunheim, along with Midgard, was in the central level of the World Tree, or Yggdrasill. Yggdrasill joined the three levels of existence.
The top level contained Asgard, where the gods lived, Vanaheim, home of the Vanir and Alfheim where the light elves lived. Valhalla was there too - the Hall of the Slain. The middle level contained Midgard, the home of men, dark elves and dwarves and Jotunheim, the home of the giants. And down at the bottom is Niflheim, the realm of the dead in which was the land of Hel, where those who died of old age, sickness or accident were judged (as opposed to the warriors who were slain in battle and who went directly to Valhalla).
Hel was named after Loki's daughter who by all accounts was a monster. Hardly surprising when her dad was a tri.ck..ster...
"I think I know who's behind this!"
"Low-key? Not a very low-key thing to do, I mean, hiding a planet's pretty big."
"No, Loki. L-O-K-I. He was a trickster god. Think on this, Jack. In most mythologies, you have good gods, evil gods and then the tricksters. They're not evil as such, though they do do bad things. But in most cases, when the trickster sees that the other gods are getting a bit full of themselves, they play tricks - kind of like a court jester who was the only one able to insult the king and get away with it. The reason behind that was to stop the king becoming all ego.
"Now, as Thor said, the Asgard Council is starting to become arrogant again. What if he's doing this to bring them down a peg or two?"
Jack looks at me, thinking on my words.
"Makes sense - well, as much sense as any of this makes. So, what do you know about Loki?"
"How about we collect the others and meet up on the bridge. We can see if the planet's in that other system, but I have a feeling that it won't be. Then we can brainstorm."
Jack nods and calls up the others. They're sounding a bit put out, but they say they'll meet up with us in a minute. In the meantime, I send Jack off and have another flick through the books to refresh my memory of the bane of the Asgard.
As expected, there wasn't anything in the other system so we've retreated to the galley to discuss what's come up. I've told Sam and Teal'c about my idea about Loki and now I'm telling them about the myths behind him.
"Okay, just a quick history lesson, so to speak about the Asgard. The Asgard were not a single race of people like we imagine. There were two warring tribes of gods, the Aesir and the Vanir. Both tribes lived on the upper level of the World Tree which contained Vanaheim and Asgard.
"After a particularly bloody war, the two tribes exchanged some members so some of the Vanir went to live with the Aesir in Asgard. Anyway, during one of the wars with the Vanir, the fortress wall which surrounded the Aesir was razed. They asked a builder who approached them to rebuild a mighty barrier and in return, he would be given the goddess Freyja as his own wife. Oh, and he wanted the sun and the moon," I add with a shrug.
"Not much then, eh?" Jack says. "You should have seen how much it cost to build the SGC."
I poke him in the arm and continue.
"The Aesir - who by the way seem to contain most of the Asgard that we know and love - agreed but on the condition that he completed before the summer. That only gave him six months. If he couldn't do that, his payment would be forfeit. He agreed if he was allowed the use of his stallion, Svadilfari."
"Is there a point to this, Daniel?"
"Yes, Jack, shut up and you'll learn it. Now, where was I. Oh yeah." A quick look a our own sleek black stallion - the phrase 'hung like a horse' springs to mind - and I know where I am. "Loki persuaded the Aesir to agree. They thought that it couldn't be done, that six months would be far too short a time."
"They've seen government contractors in action, I take it."
That earns Jack another poke in the arm.
"With the stallion's help, which was a big, strong beast, the builder worked quickly. Winter wore on but the wall went up so strongly that it couldn't be breached. Just three days before the allotted time was up, he was nearly finished and the Aesir were worried. Remembering that Loki had been the one to persuade them to agree to the deal, they summoned him and told him to fix it or else. He went out that night, disguised as a mare and the stallion chased it off into the forest."
"Typical man," I mutter, getting myself a poke in the arm from Jack for my trouble. Daniel ignores me and carries on regardless.
"The builder was highly pissed off that his work had stopped - he was working all night as well as during the day - and he flew into a rage. His own disguise slipped and they then saw that he was in fact a giant. Thor was called in, and he used his hammer to send the giant to Hel. As an aside, Loki ended up giving birth to a magical horse called Sleipnir."
"Neat trick if you can do it," Jack sniggers. Then he frowns. "Thought he was a he."
"How can you tell?" Daniel shoots back.
He looks at Daniel and nods. "Good point."
"Anyway, you should know some more. Thor's main enemies were the giants."
"Hang on, didn't you say that they lived in Jotunheim?"
"This could mean trouble if we go down to the planet. If we find it, of course."
Teal'c and I are getting dizzy from the verbal tennis match the guys play. Don't know why, we should be used to it by now.
"I have the feeling I know why Thor wants us to find this planet, and it's not just because of the Well of Mimir," Daniel adds cautiously.
Daniel gets 'the look' from Jack. The one that tells him that Jack isn't going to want to know what it is he's thinking but he'd better tell him 'cause he hates surprises and if he doesn't tell him he's going to kill him. But then he could kill him for telling him in the first place. Whatever, the poor boy's onto a loser.
"Go on," Jack sighs.
"There was another story, about him, his hammer and the giants. Mjollnir, his hammer was stolen and it turned out that it was by the giant Thrym. Loki and Thor went off to see him and when Loki questioned Thrym, he discovered that it had been hidden eight leagues underground where the no one could find it. His price was Freya as his bride."
"The same goddess?"
"No, Freya, not Freyja. I know, it's a common-sounding name. Anyway, they were not happy about this, but Loki managed to persuade Thor to dress up as Freya in bridal costume and he himself dressed as her handmaiden. Thrym was thrilled that she turned up and so he ordered a huge feast to be prepared in her honour.
"Thor ate his way through a whole ox, loads of other food and basically washed the lot down with a small lake's worth of mead. Needless to say, Thrym was suspicious. Loki just said that Freya hadn't eaten for eight days because she was so excited. Then Thrym went to kiss Thor and was shocked to see red, wild eyes instead of the sweet blue ones he'd expected. Again, Loki came to the rescue and said it was because she hadn't slept in eight days.
"The good thing about this story is that it shows that the giants were a bit slow on the uptake. Thrym was so pleased to be marrying 'Freya' that he ordered that Mjollnir be brought and it was placed on Thor's lap. Big mistake, as Thor went nutso and killed all the giants in the hall."
"Isn't Thor's hammer the name of the object on Cimmeria?" I ask.
"Yes, it is. But I am wondering if there is something else there. In the original myths, it was a weapon that if thrown, would come back like a boomerang. It never missed its target whether it was thrown or held up. What if... What if there's another hammer? Some weapon or other that Thor wants to get back so that he can defeat the Replicators?"
"Do you think that he wouldn't have used it before?"
"I don't know. Maybe it's because the hammer is old. Remember - the Replicators have been going after new technology. And in response, the Asgard threw all of their latest developments at them. Perhaps Thor is only now thinking like us? Since the conference with Jacob and George, I mean. He's obviously decided that working with the High Council is no longer the best way, so maybe he's wanting to take a few steps back?"
We all look at Daniel and shrug.
"If that's the case," Jack says, "why didn't he get it before the planet went missing? He says it's only been gone a couple of days."
I think for a moment and then I think I know why.
"Perhaps the hammer is the only weapon that he has that he can use against the giants? If so, and if the hammer's in the giant's territory..."
I leave it at that, knowing they get the message.
Jack is not a happy camper. It would probably help if I stopped grinning. I can't help it. Teal'c's 'little' distraction put a smile on my face and the new technology has made it wider. So? I'm a technoslut, sue me. Daniel's happy, despite our predicament. He's getting the chance to use his knowledge and the chance to study. These last couple of weeks have been plain weird and he's missed his books, I think. I know I have.
What he's saying about the tech, though, makes perfect sense. We've done the same. When we went on the quest, we had the feeling that Goa'uld tech wouldn't work, so we made bows and arrows. On the planet of the Nox, we did the same against the Goa'uld shield. Jack defeated Heru'ur with a knife. Simple technology - or in the case of the Asgard, simpler technology - which would most likely not be seen as a threat by the Replicators.
Smart thinking Thor... We'll make a human tactician out of you yet.
In the meantime, Jack's face is just this side of one of the legendary Thor thunderbolts. I think that Daniel's going to have fun later on cheering him up.
I don't like this one bit. There's something about this mission that stinks and I'm not sure where to find the source. Our basic problem is that we need to find the planet. That in itself is going to be difficult. But there is so much more to it that I don't think we can go home before we know what's going on - and just why this place is so important.
I'm not buying this repository of all knowledge thing. I can't believe that a race as advanced as the Asgard would keep all of their information in a single place - at least, not without getting copies of it. It just doesn't ring true.
"So," I say. "First things first. How are we going to find this place?"
Silence reigns, followed by sighs, then Teal'c speaks up.
"It is as if David Copperfield has appeared here."
Daniel blinks in confusion.
"Er, sorry, Jack. I'm just wondering what Dickens has got to do with anything."
It takes us a moment and then Sam takes her turn at poking someone in the arm.
"He means the magician. You know, he made the Statue of Liberty disappear. It even went off radar screens if I remember correctly."
"Ah. Illusions. So, you think that this is an illusion?"
"It would have to be a good one. It's not there. We flew right through its co-ordinates and there's no gravitational field."
Daniel's figured something out, I think.
"Passed through it? You mean like I did when I was in a different phase?"
The light dawns.
"They're out of phase, just like the Mayans!" Sam announces.
Daniel points out something. "What if... What if Loki's around here somewhere? In a ship? He could be regulating his phase-shifting device on the planet. Maybe only switching it on when someone comes into the solar system? Or... The moon! He's on the moon!"
"Daniel's right! Think about it. If the planet was out of phase constantly, or not there at all, the orbit of the moon would be affected. In fact, it couldn't orbit something that wasn't there," Sam joins in. "But, if it's just going out of phase for a short while, it wouldn't make a great deal of difference, especially if the planet kept popping back into existence in this phase. The most there would be would be a blip, I'm sure."
She's standing up and pacing now. "Okay, I can't be sure, sure, because I've never seen a planet just up and disappear before, but if we're only talking an hour or two at a time, I can't see how it would make a massive difference. If it started to drift away from the planet, then switching the phase machine off should recapture it.
"At a guess," she adds with a shrug. "Of course, if Loki's smart enough to build a phase shifting machine, I'm sure he's going to be smart enough to build some sort of compensatory capacity into it."
"So what, we just sit and wait?" I ask.
"Yes. Or we go to the moon."
"I still don't get why the moon."
Daniel blinks again and gives me his 'it's obvious!' look. "Uh, Jack, I'm sure that Thor would have detected a cloaked Asgard ship."
"Not if it's out of phase."
"It won't be."
He sighs and now I know why. It's his instinct telling him this.
"Loki was descended from the giants," he says apropos of nothing.
"He had some giant kids with the giantess Angrboda."
"Thor had a couple of illegitimate kids by Jarnsaxa, another giantess."
"But Thor was known for killing giants."
"Don't you think that if you were playing a trick on the guy who was the son of your blood-brother, and in the view of the people that would embarrass him the most - i.e. his kids and the people that he liked to kill - that you'd want to be nearby to watch him?"
"He could do that from another phase."
"Why not? The Mayans saw us. You saw us. The Reetou and Nirrti saw us."
"But we didn't see them without a TER. Jack, think!"
"I am thinking!"
He takes a deep breath and tries again.
"The Reetou saw us because they were 180 degrees out of light phase. What if this planet is 170 degrees? Or 90 degrees? If they're not exactly opposite us, then maybe they won't be able to see us if we can't see them. Remember, Nick was able to see me because he'd been there. If he could do that, why couldn't I see the Mayans? Or Nirrti? The answer has to be because the phase shift wasn't exactly the same. I think."
He looks to Sam for confirmation, his face begging her to agree with him as his hands do their thing.
"Makes as much sense as any other explanation," she shrugs. "We know virtually nothing about the mechanics of phase shifting."
We are orbiting the moon, looking for Loki. Unfortunately, there appears to be no sign of him as yet. However, Daniel is convinced that he is around.
"What if he's watching us?" O'Neill suggests. Mia is uncloaked. It is possible.
"We should leave obtrusively," I say. "Then return quietly but cloaked."
"It might work," Samantha agrees. Daniel nods, he has no better idea.
I move to the controls of the ship and fly it low for a while, orbiting the moon as obviously as I can. Then I speed us towards the edge of the solar system. We leave it, wait for a while in the region just outside it, cloak the ship and then we slip back in. I keep the engines as low as possible, and it takes much longer for us to return. However, we are rewarded when the planet blinks back into our phase of reality.
Using passive scanners, Samantha detects the area in which the transphase device resides and O'Neill gives us the order to descend into the atmosphere. I do this as quickly as possible and now we are inside the atmosphere. If Loki detects us and switches the machine back on, we will go with it. I just hope that I will go with them. And the ship.
Fortunately, we have landed. The device is in this region, but we have no way of telling how far away it is. Samantha thinks that it will be nearby. I hope so.
"So, kids. Do you want to go out now or tomorrow?" O'Neill asks, pointing out the fact that it is now late both in our own time and dusk here.
"Darkness would aid our cover," I say. "However, we should be rested."
"I'm not sure it would make a huge amount of difference one way or the other," Daniel adds. "We can be spotted by technology in the dark as easily as in the light. I'm all for getting some sleep first."
"Me too," she replies with a smile. "Must be getting old or something."
I make sure that the perimeter alarm system is switched on. We will be advised if anyone comes within about a quarter of a mile of the ship.
"Eat first," O'Neill says. "Then we get some sleep." He looks over to Samantha and myself and glares. "And I mean sleep, okay?"
I nod and Samantha blushes. I believe that he is aware of my distraction of her earlier. We need thicker walls.
"So, Daniel, you think that Loki's aware that we're here?" Jack asks as we settle down for the night.
"I'm not sure, Jack. I don't know why, but I'm convinced he's on the moon. Seeing as the planet was in our phase when we arrived here, there's every chance that he doesn't know."
"Unless there's a trap waiting for us?" he pushes. "Would he?"
"In a word... yes. How far he'd be prepared to go, I really don't know. I want to meet the giants, though."
He looks at me with his patented 'I'm a patient man. I know Daniel well, and I will refrain from hurting him. For now' look.
"I'd ask 'why', but I'm sure it would end up being one of those things I didn't want to know."
I laugh at him and then shrug. "Didn't you hear stories about giants when you were a kid and wonder whether they really existed?"
"I guess," he copies my shrug. "But that doesn't mean I want to meet one up close and personal. Especially if they're not reasonable, like Thor says."
"True," I agree. "But then Thor is a bit biased. It was his job to fight off the giants on Earth."
"Myths, rumours and fairytales, Daniel."
I look at him and raise an eyebrow. He puts his hands up in surrender.
"C'mon, it's time to get some sleep. Tomorrow, I become Jack the Giant Slayer."
"Let's hope it doesn't come to that," I yawn. "I'm fresh out of magic beanstalks."
So, here we are again, following the yellow brick road - or rather the beeps produced by Sam's EM scanner or whatever it's called. She thinks we're close, which is good. I'm not really in the mood for a long hike.
"Whoa!" she says, stopping dead. "We're virtually on top of it."
We look around and all we can see is trees. Big trees. Reminding me of the ones on the planet of the clone. Not one of my favourite memories.
"Here, it's over here," she points.
We stick close together, our weapons are already drawn. Jack insisted that he and Teal'c have the bows and arrows that we made for the quest and that Sam and I have the hand guns that we got when rescuing the androids. We're under strict instructions to only fire as and when necessary as we only have a very limited number of rounds.
I think that Jacob's going to try to get some more for us, but we can't rely on that. Jack's still angling to get some other guns sent out. The message was that George would do what he could, but it's not easy to 'lose' them from the inventory.
The scanner's emitting a continuous beep now so we know that there's something here, in what would appear to be a well. A well? No... It couldn't be... Could it?
"Uh, Daniel? Didn't you say that the repository was called the Well of Mini Me?" Jack prompts.
"Mimir, Jack. As you well know." Well know. Damn, I'm a card. I look at him and he just tilts his head to one side as if to say 'get on with it and leave the jokes to me'. Misery. "Jack, somehow I have a hard time believing that the well contains the entire knowledge of the Asgard."
"Aren't you the one that insists on believing the unbelievable? Myths? Rumours? Fairytales?"
"Fine. Go down there and check it out then, Jack."
"Because you're our fearless leader and I'm just an archaeologist."
Okay, will someone tell me how I ended up going down the well with a rope tied around my waist? I'm supposed to be the smart one. How the fuck did Jack outwit me?
Uh, are you okay?
Sure, Jack, I'm just fine. Love being dangled down a dark, damp drain. The atmosphere is absolutely acrid, the light level is lamentable, and the stench is sneaking into my sinuses which are currently battling with my brain in bellicose bickering in a last ditch attempt to fucking get out of here!
Sheesh, sorry I asked.
That'll teach him. He hates it when I alliterate.
Daniel? What do you mean 'uh oh'?
I think I've spotted something. I need more light dammit.
Hang on, we'll send something else down.
HOW? There's no room for anyone else to come down here!
At least with telepathy, we don't have to shout. Which is a good thing and a bad thing. Bad because I really could do with a good shout about now. Good because the acoustics are such that I'd probably deafen myself if I did.
FUCK! What was that?
Have you got the light?
HAVE I GOT IT? THE FUCKING THING JUST HIT ME ON THE HEAD! WHAT MIND-BOGGLINGLY STUPID STACK OF WORM-INFESTED GERBIL PUKE DROPPED IT WITHOUT WARNING ME?
OOPS? I'll give him 'oops'. Just wait till I get the hell out of here. He's in so much trouble.
Okay, Jackson, calm down and do your job. Whatever that is these days. Flick the second light on, add it to my first and... bingo! There's definitely something down here. It's wet. Well, of course it is, it's in water. Sheesh, sometimes I amaze myself with my stupidity. That's twice this morning.
I only had two coffees before we left the ship, Jack wouldn't let me make another pot. Miserable bastard. Anyway, that explains the comatose brain cells.
I've tied the rope that they sent the other light down on to the device - it is a device. I think. It's not supposed to be in a well, I'm sure of that. I think.
Stop thinking. It's too damned painful.
Jack, pull me up. I've secured whatever's making Sam's scanner beep to the other rope.
Shouldn't we pull that up first?
Because I'm in the fucking way O'Neill! Not to mention if the thing drops off the rope, I'll be underneath it!
Ah, okay. Hang tight.
As if I'd hang any other way?
I don't think that Daniel's very happy with Jack. We got him out and he scowled. He's still scowling even though we've got the device out. He's really good at it. However, he'll have to go some to match his own record in scowling. That particular record stands at three whole days.
He did have a point though. Jack should never have left him with the so-called harmless aliens after Daniel warned him that they weren't as harmless as they made out. After all, the name of the people should have clued Jack in. The Nymphos - pronounced "os" as in "floss" rather than in "toes". A slight change in pronunciation and poor Daniel was worn out for a week.
"Daniel," I say - cautiously - "can you read what's on here?" I point out some runes and he reluctantly looks at it.
"That one means Thor," he says, his translator's instinct overriding his need to make Jack suffer. "Uh, oh boy, it's Mjollnir! Thor's Hammer!"
That would make sense as it's the shape of the hammer you see in pictures, almost looks like a solid crossbow when it's being pulled back, a long handle with an arch shape on the top, the points of the arches aiming backwards to the holder.
"You're shitting me?" Jack retorts.
Daniel looks like he's magnificently refraining from saying something in reply to that. "Uh huh, Jack. I'm betting that this is what Thor really wants."
"Well, let's get it back to him. Mission accomplished."
"Not really - he's still going to want that device turned off. And... I think I have an idea," I say.
"Oh? Care to share, Sam?"
"Not yet. Let me work on it, okay?"
"We should ascertain how this device works, O'Neill," Teal'c says. "If the phase-shifting device is guarded by giants, then perhaps it would be of use?"
"Good thinking, big guy. Okay, let's get back to the ship, it's only a short walk. Daniel can get changed and then we can try to figure it out."
"Uh, Jack, whatever you do, don't press that button," Daniel says, not taking his eyes from the hammer.
"'Cause if you do you're likely to do some serious damage."
Jack never changes. You can take the toys from the boy but that doesn't make him grow up.
We've eaten, Daniel's drunk a gallon of coffee and gotten washed and changed and now he's almost human again. I say 'almost' mainly because he's still pissed off with Jack. Hey ho. It's not my problem.
"I think..." Daniel says, his voice trailing, "that this button charges it up and then this one," he points at a triangular shaped one, "sets it off."
"Yeah. Much as I've improved, I'm not fluent in rune reading yet. And some of these runes aren't in my books."
"How do you know? You haven't looked at them!" Jack says.
Daniel just looks at him. "Trust me, Jack. They're not there."
"Hey, trusting you isn't the problem. I just want to know how you know."
Daniel sighs and says, "I memorised them. I don't memorise everything in every book, it would take too long to recall the details that I'd know if I did. But things like alphabets, or their equivalents, are easy enough to store."
"How many alphabets do you have stored in your brain, Daniel?" Teal'c asks.
He thinks for a moment. "Uh, can't say for certain. You see, many alphabets are variants on the same basic one. For example, a lot of European alphabets are based on the Roman one, but most of them have some differences, whether they're accented letters or diphthongs or missing a few letters..." He waves his hands about as if we should get this. We do, sort of. "And I know more alphabets than I know languages," he adds. "So, I'm guessing at about fifty or so."
Wow. That's a lot.
"Anyway, I know the runes, like I said. But some of these don't appear on Earth and even though I know the majority of the runes on this device, I don't yet fully know the grammar and so on. So anything else is a guess unless you want me to spend a couple of hours... or days on it."
Daniel just shrugs.
"I'll go with your initial hunch then," Jack says. I don't think he wants to be stuck here any longer than necessary.
Daniel finds what he thinks is the 'off' button and with us all holding our breath, he pushes it. It stops emitting a power signal and now we're free to go look for the phase-shifting device.
"Come on, kids, it's time to go," Jack announces. "Let's go kick some giant ass."
Over fifty alphabets. That's a lot of ABCs. I know he knows what I'm thinking - without him even talking to me in my mind. I can tell from the look on his face.
"It's my job to know, Jack," he says with a modest shrug. "Just like yours is to know about weapons. I can't tell the difference between the various makes and models, but you know what gun is pointing at you, what calibre the rounds are, how many will be in the chamber and so on. It's what you do."
When he puts it like that...
"Got it," Sam announces. "It's in that direction."
We follow her and trail off, all on guard for hostiles as we go. We're jogging now, wanting to get this over and done with as soon as possible. She takes us through the trees, near to the well and then over a small grass ridge. There's a ruined building just on the other side - guess that the well probably belonged to that at some point - and then, further down the steep slope we see a building which isn't ruined. It's just big. And I mean big. The doors stand about twenty feet high. That would tie in with what Thor said. These giants are going to be big, but it won't be like Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman - which is probably just as well.
"It's in the building," Sam says.
Of course it is! Where else would it be?
"Okay, any ideas?"
"We could just knock," Daniel says glibly.
"KNOCK? Are you NUTS?"
He looks at me, then deliberately looks me up and down and then sighs. "Quite possibly." He's going to make me pay for sending him down the well for ages, isn't he?
Unfortunately, none of us have a better idea, so we're going to knock. Daniel's gotten the hammer thingy and he's hidden it in his backpack as best he can. I've got C4 in mine. We could try to blow the walls or doors on that big building, but then that would piss the natives off and I don't think we need to do that just yet.
So, here we are. Can anyone tell me why we're here and why we think this is a good idea? No? Damn. I guess we knock then. Teal'c does it - with the back of his staff weapon. There's no answer. What a pity, never mind. Time to get out the C4... Or not.
"Hello!" Daniel shouts. "My name is Daniel, this is Jack, Sam and Teal'c. We were just passing and decided to stop and say hello," he adds.
The giant looks down on us and we smile innocently at him. Wish Teal'c wouldn't smile. It's unnerving.
The giant hasn't said anything yet, he's just blinking a lot. Reminds me of someone...
I guess you'd call him humanoid, but like three times the size of a human. About eighteen feet high, three times as wide, legs like tree trunks... No way could even Teal'c take him.
His mouth is opening so I guess he's going to speak.
Fuck. My ears are ringing. I got the feeling that he wasn't shouting, either.
"Uh, no?" Daniel says with that questioning tone that he has.
"Look, we're here for a purpose." Daniel thinks for a minute and then says, "Loki sent us."
The giant pauses.
"Yeah, you see, the machine that he put in here is malfunctioning and we've come to fix it."
"Yeah. We're your friendly neighbourhood phase-shifting-device-fixers. We get a call out from a customer and we guarantee to be here in one revolution of the planet and have the device fixed or your money back."
"WE HAVEN'T PAID YOU."
"No need! No need. Loki's got that covered. So, if you'll just let us in and show us where it is, we'll fix it and be on our way."
Teal'c, Sam and I stand stunned, trying to hide our shock as the giant steps back and lets us in. HOW? Why? Surely he can't be as thick as the legend states? Apparently he can.
"IT IS IN HERE."
"Thanks! We'll call you if we need anything," Daniel says, arriving in front of the machine and putting his bag in front of it.
The giant leaves us and shuts the door. Obviously doesn't talk to tradesmen.
"A cup of tea would be nice!" I holler to the shut door. "Maybe some cookies? Cucumber sandwiches?"
"Jack, shut up!" Daniel scolds. "Sam?"
"I'll just remove this crystal," she says and takes one out of the machine and puts it in her bag.
"And I'll plant the C4," I say.
"Jack? I told you we shouldn't destroy it," Sam pipes up.
"Not meaning to destroy it, Sam. Contingency plan. Just in case."
The others shrug, they know what I mean.
We're done in mere minutes. I check out the windows, Teal'c and Daniel give me a leg up to reach them. It would be tough to get out of here, but possible if necessary.
"I wonder where the repository is," Daniel sighs.
"Daniel, not now," I warn. "We get out of here, get the fuck off this planet and call you know who. Maybe you can talk him into letting you go there."
Sadly, he nods. Can't remember the last time he was allowed to play in a library. The Mayans were pretty cool and let him look at anything he wanted to, but he couldn't understand most of it.
"Come on, let's get out of here."
We pick up our bags and head to the door. I pull on the handle and find that the door's locked.
"HEY, WE'RE DONE HERE!" I yell.
Nothing - nada. Zip. Zilch.
"HEY! I SAID WE'RE DONE HERE!"
We hear a loud snigger from the other side of the door.
"LOKI DID NOT SEND YOU, I CHECKED."
"Well, that confirms our suspicions about Loki," Daniel replies quietly.
"YOU WILL REMAIN THERE UNTIL HE RETURNS."
Oh, I don't think so.
I take out the hammer from Daniel's pack.
"T. Take that lock out when I say. Daniel? This button to charge it?"
Daniel nods so I press it. We hear a whine which builds up and then a light goes on under the triangular one, which would also seem to confirm his suspicions.
He lets fly with the staff weapon and smashes the lock. A couple more shots and the door opens. The giant is waiting, stunned by what's going on. I aim the hammer in his direction and get ready to press the triangle - keeping Daniel and Sam behind Teal'c and myself.
O'Neill is aiming the hammer at the giant.
"Step back," he warns.
The giant does not move, but he also looks worried.
"I said step back!"
Still he does not move. O'Neill sighs and then says, "Don't say I didn't warn ya," and he presses the button.
We have picked ourselves up off the floor. I am uncertain as to how Thor manages to use this given his more delicate state than a human. Or a giant. The giant is also on the floor, but as he took the full blast of the hammer I do believe he is dead. It would be difficult to survive a crack such as the one that has appeared across his skull.
"Everyone all right?" O'Neill asks.
"I am fine, O'Neill."
"Yeah, I'm okay," Samantha agrees.
"Me three," adds Daniel. "Some recoil, eh?"
"Next time we'll brace ourselves," O'Neill says in awe. "Come on, let's get out of here."
We run from the room and head to the front door. There is noise behind us. Footsteps. Large, loud footsteps. We reach the door in a hurry but it is shut. Daniel jumps up and is swinging on the handle. I hold onto him and pull him backwards. Our combined weight pulls the door open a crack and O'Neill and Samantha aid us. Finally, it is open enough for us to leave through it.
The footsteps have grown closer. There are loud voices exclaiming in horror at what has happened. We could be in trouble. We will need to run at least three times faster than the giants if we are to make good our escape.
"To Mia, quickly!" O'Neill shouts as we start to run.
I look back and see that two giants are coming our way.
"Hurry!" I say. "We are being followed!"
We run up the hill, panting hard as we ascend the steep slope. O'Neill has the hammer in his hands again and is recharging it. Finally, we reach the top and he turns around and drops to the floor, aiming the hammer in the direction of the giants, who are rapidly closing in on us.
"Keep going!" he yells, but none of us leave him. Shaking his head, he fires the hammer and we see the effects properly for the first time.
What looks like a ripple in a smooth pond emerges from the hammer, a visible airwave for want of a better description. It creates a terrible noise that makes the earth shake. When it reaches the giants, it knocks them over. We do not hang around to see what damage has occurred to them.
"Why didn't it effect us this time?" Daniel asks as we recommence our retreat to the ship.
There is silence for a moment and then we pass the well. A stone is kicked by my shoe and it ends up dropping down the well. We hear its echo as it hits the side and then the splash as it lands.
"Got it!" Samantha says. "I'll tell you in the ship."
We have arrived in the ship, it is now ascending through the atmosphere. O'Neill has called Thor and we are going to head directly to the moon.
"So? Why didn't it knock us down the second time?" O'Neill asks.
"Simple. The hammer emits 'thunder', just as the legend says," she replies with a smile.
"Look, thunder is a phenomenon in which air heats up rapidly in a conducting channel and then it creates a cylindrical shock wave. That then changes into a sound wave close to the channel in which the lightning is. I have to surmise that within the hammer there is something that acts as a lightning channel, maybe making one and throwing it ahead of the shock wave and stopping on the nearest obstacle.
"Another thing is, how loud the thunderclap is depends on your location in relation to it. It's why, when the thunder breaks overhead, the earth shakes. When we were inside the room, only some of the thunder left it and because the giant was so close to it, it knocked him over and he most likely died from striking his head on something. We escaped the worst of it because we were behind it. We only got hit because the remainder of the shock wave bounced off the walls and hit us. We got lucky because some of the strength had likely dissipated when it hit the walls.
"Out in the open, we were safe as there wasn't anything to bounce off."
"Hence Thor could use such a powerful device out in the open without any ill effects," I interrupt.
"Neat!" O'Neill agrees. "So, do you think that he could use this against the Replicators?"
"Don't see why not," she says. "In the right circumstances, it could literally shatter them."
"All Thor has to do is make sure that he's not in the same room as it."
"Yeah, Jack," Daniel agrees. "I wonder if he had forgotten about this and only remembered it when the planet disappeared?"
"It's possible. Anyway, all we have to do now is sit and wait. Uh, Sam, did you finish working on that plan for Thor yet?"
"Almost. I'll have it when we see him."
"Well, you'd better work quickly, he's just turned up."
So, that's it. We're home. Thor turned up and we told him what had gone on. He was pleased to get Mjollnir back and agreed that he was going to try using it on the Replicators. He listened to Sam's idea and agreed to enter into discussions with Loki about it. I like her idea. She wants him to build a lot of the phase shifters and to do one of two things.
One, make so many planet hiders that whenever the Replicators turn up in their systems, they can hide whatever planet they need to. Or, two. Make sure that the phase that the machine sends that which it is hiding into a phase in which they cannot see or touch our phase. Then get them onto the Replicators ships, set them off remotely and banish the Replicators from our phase of existence. No more touchy-feely metal bugs. Works for me.
He brought us home then, I don't think he wants us around when he gets a hold of Loki. Which is a shame, I'd have liked to have met him. He did scan the moon and agreed that he was most likely to be hiding out there. Sam gave him the crystal so that they could get the machine working again.
Unfortunately, he said it would be for the best if I didn't go to the repository. Which is a real shame. I'd have loved to have gotten my hands on those books. Still, we can't have everything.
We've eaten, cleared up and now we're going to bed. I think that Jack's thinking of attempting to christen the bed again. Personally, I think it's pushing our luck.
"You ready yet, Daniel?"
"Uh, yeah, just about." I return to the bedroom from the bathroom and slide into bed. He puts his arm around me and holds me close.
"A busy couple of days, eh?" he says.
"Hmm, yeah. Tired?"
"A bit. I could, er, be persuaded to stay awake for a bit longer."
"I don't see why not. Got anything in mind?"
Silly question. I'm not hanging around tonight, foreplay can go hang. It's not as if I need to really persuade the man after all. He's already half-erect. I don't answer him, I just get out the lube and waggle it in front of him. He grins in reply.
I'm thinking it's his turn to get laid tonight, so I crawl in-between his legs, pushing the covers off us as I go. I'm not going to warm him up, his legs can go straight over my shoulders. I'm greasing myself up and then pushing slowly inside him. His face is changing from grinning to smiling - a kind of Cheshire cat smile. Pleased with himself, pleased with me, generally loving the hell out of me filling him. Oh yeah, I'm loving the hell out of it too.
He's lowered his legs until they're wrapped around my waist. I'm on my knees and now I'm leaning forward until our lips meet. Now we kiss, the only things moving are our lips and tongues. I know he's feeling good right now, not wanting me to move just yet, loving the sensation of fullness inside of him and the lingering strokes of our tongues. He lets out a little moan which is echoed by one from me. It's time to move.
I pull away from his kiss reluctantly but I need the room to manoeuvre. I pull back and then slide back inside of him. His eyes screw shut and his head arches back so much his shoulders aren't touching the bed.
It's perfect. Or it would be if there hadn't been a flash of light to the side of the bed.
"THOR?" he bellows.
We turn and look and discover that it's not Thor. It's a pile of books on the bedside table.
"I'd say we've just been rewarded for our latest quest," Jack answers with a grin. "THANKS BUDDY!" he calls, though I doubt Thor can hear him. I go to reach for one of the books when he clamps his ass muscles together. "Don't you fucking dare, Daniel. You've got a job to do."
Fuck or books - books or fuck... tough call.
Oh, okay, the books can wait. They don't complain.