Summary: New alien, old species, a wild guess and a weird ghost.
Usual thanks to Joy for the beta. Couldn't do it without you, dahlink.
We're going to pick up our new mission and we're pretty excited about it. Jack's been enjoying fishing and gardening, Teal'c's been chopping more wood - but this time with the laser so that we can have poles to make the pi shaped frames to go down the path, Daniel's been doing lots of things, pottering about the house and garden, reading and so on, and I've scanned the planet from the ship so that we now know what animal, vegetable and mineral resources we have in detail.
Okay, so it's only been four days since we got back from the mission that Thor set us, but we want to get back into the swing of things. Jack checked up with the androids and they're still visiting the various planets that George told us about and making nice with the natives. They have a few more to go to and then they'll be free to act, too.
"Dial it up, Daniel," Jack says and we step near him as he reaches into the little cubbyhole we dug and pushes the glyphs for our destination. We watch as the wormhole bursts into existence and send a VCD. The image comes back as negative so we step through.
Much to our surprise, SG-1 are waiting for us, hiding to one side.
"Lou! Good to see you! What are you doing here?" Jack asks as soon as we get over the shock.
"Just wanted to pass on a few things to you, Jack," he replies. "Sheesh, Hammond said that the outdoor living had done wonders for your complexions but he didn't let on you were looking this young!"
We laugh out loud and Jack gives him the quick explanation; i.e. "Remoc, fountain of youth, went for a dip - 'nuff said."
The two teams get together and we sit on the grass to chat. It's a warm day, the sun's out and SG-1 say that the planet is uninhabited, so we're not worried.
Lou gets his P90 and gives it to Jack.
"The General says that you're to have our weapons. Er, don't worry, we've come up with a reason for 'losing' them on this mission. In here..." he gets up and goes to the FRED and gets out a large box, "is the ammo. He bought that himself so we don't have to account for it. Sneaking that onto the base and into the FRED was fun, let me tell you," he chuckles. "Let us know when you're getting low and he'll get you some more."
Jack's grinning widely.
"Ah, thanks, pal," he says. "I've missed this." Then, to illuminate, he adds, "There are times when Goa'uld weaponry isn't enough, ya know? Even though we've been told to avoid using Earth tech, sometimes we're better off with it. Goa'uld tech is great when we're in the thick of things with them, but..." His voice trails off, re-emphasising his happiness at being reunited with his favourite toy.
Lou nods, then he has some more news for us.
"There are some rumours going around about Senator Kinsey."
That gets our attention.
"Oh? Do tell!" Daniel urges.
"It would seem that the mangy son of a bitch has been messing about with a kiss-and-tell hooker."
We all fall about laughing.
"Go on," Jack pushes. "We want details."
"There's nothing concrete," he says, "and it's not gotten into the press - yet - but it's filtering down from the Pentagon. It would seem that there's some sort of investigation going on. Whatever. Shit sticks. He's going to have a hard time getting out of this one."
"Couldn't happen to a nicer guy," Jack says with a satisfied grin.
And so say all of us.
"Let Hammond know that we'll be ready for the word, will you?"
"You got it. Heard you had to move, by the way. How're things going?"
"They are going well, Colonel Ferretti," Teal'c says. "We have a house built, we are preparing a garden and O'Neill is fishing a lot."
I've got an idea.
"Hey, Lou, what time are you expected back?"
"Uh, not for a couple of hours, Jack. Hammond gave us a bit extra time so that we'd meet up rather than you picking up the package. Why?"
Guys, you want visitors? I ask quickly. I get three agreements and say, "Why don't you come see our new place? Have a coffee or something? We don't really get much in the way of visitors."
Lou looks at his team and gets the nods.
"That's a great idea. I'd love to see it."
So it's settled.
"Daniel, dial it up."
Daniel grins as he punches in the address and soon we're all stepping through the gate and back onto Annwn.
"Welcome to Annwn," I say as they follow us up the gully.
"Wow, nice place you got here," Lou says as he looks at the field.
"You wait. Through the woods and we're there."
They follow us through, each member of SG-1 attaching themselves to their counterparts on MIA. Lou, naturally, is with me. Coburn's with Teal'c, Lieutenant Grant is with Daniel and Sergeant Merrit is with Sam. I hear conversations going on - Daniel's talking about his work on the Mayan glyphs, Sam's talking about the difficulties of converting Tok'ra power to our own standards and Teal'c is... what?
Finding out what happened in the first season of Star Trek Enterprise and discussing the relative merits of the various captains in all the series. Hey ho.
"How's it really going back home?" I ask Lou.
"Well, Hammond's doing what he can to keep a hold of his job, but the pressure on him to retire is fantastic, Jack. You know that when he goes, we're not going to be able to help you, don't you?"
"Yeah, sucks eh?"
"Sure does. But I'll keep him informed of what's happening. He's not saying how, but I know he's got a plan for keeping in touch with you."
"Yeah, we know about it. Having friends at the SGC is going to make it easier. Just make sure that no one knows you're up to it, pal. Keep yourself safe, okay?"
"You know me, Jack."
"Yeah, buddy, I do. Like I said, keep yourself safe. We could do without worrying about you on top of everything else. Anyway, here we are. Our new house."
He looks through the trees, sees our humble abode and lets out a low whistle.
"Very nice, Jack. Very nice indeed. Think I might retire out here. What's the fishing like?"
"Better than Minnesota," Sam pipes up.
"That wouldn't be difficult," Daniel mutters. "This one's got fish in it."
We're in the house, having given SG-1 a quick tour of the outside and inside (Daisy Grant went nuts when she saw our bathroom and wants one like it for herself) and now we're sitting around our huge farmhouse table.
"You guys are really living it up, aren't you?" Coburn says as he takes a drink from his mug. "This place is stunning."
We smile together as we think it's a little palace, too.
"We like it," Daniel replies. "It'll be better when we get electricity in it, but in the meantime, we're happy as we are. We have power in the tunnels if we need it."
"I've never been in a Tok'ra tunnel," Philip Merrit says. "Could I see it before we go?"
"Sure, don't see why not. Sam?"
"I'll give him the grand tour in a while," she agrees. I think she's pleased to show it off, too.
"So, how did you get it built so quickly?" Lou asks.
We tell him about the planet of the house builders and they sit and listen in awe.
"That's amazing," Lou finally says. "You've turned yourself into quarrymen and get a house in return?"
"And all the outbuildings," Daniel puts in. "The kiln, the smokehouse, the greenhouse... We are totally self-sufficient, really. All we need to do is trade for goods we don't have and don't really need but like."
"Like coffee," I say.
"Sam's discovered that Annwn has a lot of similar plants to Earth so we're going to go harvest what looks like an olive grove when the time's right. Of course, we need to check out that it is an olive grove. It's giving off the right signals. If it is, Jack can do some pottery, make us some amphorae and we'll have cooking oil.
"The only difference to life here than as it was on Earth is that it takes a bit more time. We have no one on the planet to trade with, so we have to go off-world or find things ourselves. I had a thought about the planet of the builders and I realised that it was only following in an Earth tradition anyway."
"Oh?" I look at him stunned. I have no idea why I'm stunned. I should be used to him coming up with things like this by now. "Do go on."
"Thank you," he says dryly. "Back on Earth, it's common for a region to specialise in certain goods and services. Uh, Italian shoes, for example. You want designer shoes, chances are - if you have the money - they come from there. It's a tradition that dates back to the origin of cities.
"Each city in a region specialised in something or other, tied into whatever resources were in that area. So, where there were sufficient iron ore deposits, the nearest cities would have smiths. Where there was good growing land, the city would be a storage facility for the excess grain produced by the local farmers. Each city would trade what it had for what it needed. It doesn't take a leap of imagination to think that there is a network of planets out there, probably not Goa'uld controlled, that trade with each other in this manner.
"You saw the ground on that planet, it was one big flat plain with quarries all around it. Ideal for setting up the prefabricated buildings and a source for the materials. I wouldn't mind betting that they had a huge forest in the area, too, for the wood they use, or they trade stone buildings for the raw materials from a forested planet. The more I think about it, the more I'd be surprised if we didn't find other planets that had other specialities like that."
"There are indeed independent planets that the Goa'uld leave alone," Teal'c says. "They say it is to their benefit to keep the trade in the various goods alive. Most of the planets with specialities have been taken over, but the ones that have no strategic importance have been ignored except for trade."
We digest that information and then chat a bit longer. Sam takes Philip to the tunnels, and the rest of us make a list of things for Lou to take back.
"Look, if this thing with Kinsey is going to go down the way we think it is," I say carefully - I don't know how much they know and they're better off not knowing - "then we'll be paying a quick visit before long." I raise my eyebrows in a 'don't ask' way and Louis nods. "Can you give this note to Hammond? It's just a list of things that we could do with here, both for our missions and the house. If he can get them delivered to the cabin, we can pick them up when we get there."
I pass him the list and he puts it in his pocket without even looking at it. It's not important that he doesn't look at it - the list only contains some weapons that George can get; two crossbows and two longbows, for example. The T man and I prefer crossbows, Daniel and Sam the longbows. I know it's better to pick your own bows, but under the circumstances, it's going to be too difficult. Daniel puts his preferred weight of bow down and we put a slightly lighter one for Sam. Needless to say, we've asked for as much in the way of arrows and bolts as we think he can reasonably get away with without raising too many eyebrows.
We've written down the ammunition we'll need for the two handguns - he already knows it for the P90s, and we've asked for some more guns. If he buys these privately, and at different gun shops, along with smaller quantities of ammunition from a wide range of sources, then the NID won't be so likely to pick up on it - of course, if he uses our 'new' names to add to the variety, that should help too. If he can get these all stored up in Minnesota, then we can just put them on the ship when we pick up Maybourne.
Of course, there are other things - like chicken wire and more of the clear plastic to finish the cover. We now know exactly how much we want and we don't have enough. He can get a local firm to just deliver it and dump it by the side of the cabin. He doesn't even have to visit it for that.
Sam and Philip come back in and sit down again, Philip chattering about how cool the tunnels are. Then Daniel dishes out some ice cream that he made from the gallon or so of cream he had left from the Mayans and SG-1 go into raptures. Sam, Teal'c and myself are more used to the flavour but we still enjoy it.
"Okay, how did you make this?" Daisy demands.
"A lot of stirring," Daniel shrugs. "I, er, got a large mixing bowl, beat up the cream, added some cans of strawberries in syrup that we bought back on Earth and stirred them in. Then froze it, stirred it, froze it... Let's say there was a lot of that going on. Simple, just time-consuming."
"It's delicious," Lou sighs. "But talking of time-consuming, we have to go. Thanks for inviting us over, guys. It's good to see that you're so settled and happy here."
We walk them back to the gate sadly - it's been nice having them here, too.
"Come anytime. I know you're not supposed to see us, but I know you guys will keep it secret," O'Neill says, his voice quiet.
"Count on it. If Daniel's going to keep making stuff like that ice cream, try keeping us away!"
We watch them as they depart and then we head directly - and silently - back to the house. It is also without speech that we prepare ourselves drinks and sit around the table. O'Neill has the briefing package and he opens it. His eyebrow raises and he passes out the information.
"So, it looks like we're on a tech hunt again folks," he says.
"Hmm," Daniel replies, not looking up from the briefing.
"Uh, hang on a minute, Jack. I'm thinking."
"Why does that fill me with dread?"
But Daniel ignores him and continues to read. I look at my own copy and see that the Tok'ra and the SGC are in talks about finding the homeworld of Thoth. It would appear that there have been rumours floating around the galaxy about 'magic' which have since reached the ears of those at the SGC.
Hammond is under pressure to locate this world and the Tok'ra/Tauri alliance is also coming under pressure because of it. The Tok'ra are unwilling to assist in this matter because of the potential for disaster if weapons of mass destruction, for example, were to get into the hands of the NID.
There aren't necessarily any weapons as such in this location, but the rumour states that the blueprints to many magical devices are to be found in a book which is hidden there. If the Tok'ra do not assist, however, the Pentagon are threatening to pull out of the alliance once and for all.
So, it is up to us to find the book and hide it somewhere that neither the Tok'ra nor the SGC would ever find it. We cannot tell Jacob where it will be, nor Hammond, so that they will not lie when they deny knowledge.
It will be, as O'Neill says, a tough job. Thoth's world is unknown. It is uncertain as to whether he is alive or not.
We all turn to Daniel and stare at him.
"Bless you," O'Neill replies.
He raises a single eyebrow and O'Neill winces. I assume that he has just had his manhood threatened telepathically given the look on his face. Daniel's threats are usually inventive and highly descriptive. He has made me wince on more than one occasion.
"Uh, Daniel? What did you say?" Samantha requests, quite possibly in an attempt to prevent disaster.
"Setne Khamwas, son of Rameses. Uh, it's a story, allegorical most likely. Dates back to Ancient Egypt and is based on the story of the book of magic written by Thoth."
He pauses and drinks some coffee before continuing.
"The story describes this prince, a learned scholar, Setne Khamwas, who was determined to find the book. It was reputed to be hidden in the necropolis, west of Memphis."
He pauses again and looks at O'Neill.
"One Elvis crack and you sleep alone for a month."
O'Neill clamps his mouth shut.
"The book was supposed to be hidden in the tomb of Prince Neferkaptah. With his brother Inaros' help, he found the tomb and forced it open. They went inside the dark tomb and the book was there, shining like a star. Greedily, he went to take it but before he could leave he was approached by the kas - spirits or ghosts if you like - of the prince, his wife Ihwey, and that of Merib, their son.
"Setne was going to just take the book and go anyway, he wasn't bothered by kas. But the prince wouldn't let him go straight away. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the prince said that he would have to play a game of checkers. If he won, he'd get to keep the book."
"They played checkers?" Samantha asks.
"Something very similar, more like backgammon really, but it's usually known as checkers... Er, it's a game called Senet," Daniel nods. He continues.
"Anyway, he lost a piece three times and with each loss, Neferkaptah knocked him on the head and basically drove him into the ground until only his head was peeking above the earth. Setne sent Inaros to run and get his magic amulets and when he returned, they used them to fight off the kas and steal the book, making good their escape."
"Are you saying that we're going to come up against something like this if we find this place?" O'Neill asks.
"I have no idea, Jack. I'm just telling you the story that I know that goes with Thoth's book of magic. It may or may not have some bearing on what happens if we find it. I guess it'll help us to be prepared if..." He waves his hands as his mind goes elsewhere again.
"Is that the end of the story?" Samantha asks, looking a little disappointed. She loves his storytelling.
"Uh, not quite. See, when he returned to the outside world, he was warned time and again to return the book. He ignored the advice and did what he could to learn the various spells and incantations in it. Then one day, he saw a beautiful woman walking past his house and fell head over heels in lust with her. Being a guy, he went after her and pleaded with her quite shamelessly to make love to him."
"Like that's beyond the realms of possibility," Samantha murmurs.
Daniel laughs a little and then continues.
"She agreed, but on two conditions."
"Like that's so unusual," O'Neill splutters. Samantha has smacked his arm and Daniel laughs again.
"Those conditions were that he hand over all his property..."
O'Neill coughs and mutters something about divorce lawyers.
"... and kill his own children."
A silence falls.
"Sounds like a snaky thing to do," O'Neill finally says.
"Yeah, I thought that," Daniel agrees. "Anyway, he agreed - probably thinking that he could renege on the deal later on. The trouble was, he didn't know that the woman was called Tabubua, a daughter of the high priestess of Bast. She had cast a spell on him and he didn't know it. He killed his kids, handed everything over to her and he only had just enough time to get his clothes off when the door opened to his room and the pharaoh walked in."
"Now that could be embarrassing," O'Neill interrupts. Yet again.
"Yeah, it could. Anyway, in this case, it wasn't so bad. The spell was broken, he discovered that he still owned his property and his kids were still alive."
"A kind of Bobby Ewing moment?"
"You got it. Setne agreed to return the book and took it back to the tomb. The prince's ka was waiting for him and for a punishment, Setne was sent to find the bodies of the prince's wife and son and have them interred in the same tomb as the prince. Eventually, he found them, placed them with the prince and then the tomb was sealed and the book was lost for ever."
There is a silence again, but I must ask a question.
"Who is Bobby Ewing?"
Whoo boy, we don't half get the tough ones, do we? Just how am I going to find this place? I'm assuming that this book isn't the Book of Thoth - though it could be that one that we're looking for. I just don't know. The Book of Thoth was supposedly dictated by him and contains forty-two papyrus scrolls with lots of knowledge of different subjects on them, from astronomy to medicine. A copy of it was supposed to have been destroyed in the fire in the Great Library in Alexandria.
Okay. Home. Let's think. Cult centres, that could be a good place to start. Hermopolis. Yeah, that was his main centre.
"Sam? You know that galactic map that Thor gave us?"
"Does it have names on it of the various systems?"
"No, just co-ordinates."
"Why, are you onto something?"
"Possibly. I was wondering if there was a planet called Hermopolis."
"It's the name of his major cult centre."
Jack raises an eyebrow but knows not to make another Moonie crack - or else.
"What about Memphis?" he asks. "Wasn't that where you said the book was found in the legend?"
I shrug. "Yeah, it's another possibility, but that really belonged to someone else. Hermopolis, or Shmun as it was known then, was his place."
Shmun... "Sam? You know on a DHD..."
"If you take, uh, the point of origin as being the last symbol, what symbols do you get in order after that?"
"What do you mean, Daniel?"
"Well, I was wondering... I mean as a possible starting place to look..." Oh heck, how am I going to put this? "Numbers. And, er, symbols. Do you think that it could be possible for a Goa'uld to adopt a planet with a specific address?"
"I suppose so. Assuming that there was a planet within the co-ordinates chosen. Why?"
"Well, this is magic, for want of a better word, that we're looking for. I was wondering if we could look for appropriate symbols, some based on magic or related numbers, to make up the address."
"It's as good a place to start as any, I guess. We can try to figure them out and see if there are any gates with those co-ordinates. We can also check to see if they belong to Goa'uld or anyone else."
Of course, the colour-coded galactic map.
"Okay. I'd say fifteen, because Shmun was in the fifteenth nome of Upper Egypt."
"They had gnomes there?" Jack pipes up. "Elves too?"
I glare at him and he totally and utterly fails to be impressed by it. Shit.
Sam writes that down and then I think again.
"Eight. Shmun is the Ancient Egyptian word for eight. Uh, that's referring to the eight ancestors of creation who created the first child, so it was believed that the first sunrise of the day was over Shmun. That in turn created the world."
"So it could be possible that the first symbol is also part of the address?" Teal'c puts in.
"Could be," I shrug. "It's got to be one worth trying."
"That's three then... Oh, three. That's a classic magical number, isn't it?" I ask. The others shrug.
"Isn't one of the symbols Libra as we know it?" I continue.
"Yeah," Sam replies. "It's on the outer ring."
"Well, Thoth and Ma'at, his wife, were the gods that weighed up the souls of the dead. Remember the ceremony when Shau're died and I put a feather on a scale?"
They're all quiet but nodding.
"Maybe that could have something to do with it?" I suggest.
Sam writes that down without a word.
"We think that his origin - at least that of the god form - was in the Delta region in Egypt. Isn't there a triangle?"
"There is," Sam says, "but... oh heck, can we go and look at the DHD?"
We all get up and make our way to it. It'll be easier to visualise it anyway.
We arrive and look at it and see that there is a triangle.
"Um, just in case we need more, he had three animals that represented him," I offer. "The ibis, the baboon and the dog."
"Well, we have a symbol that represents Canis Major," Sam says, "but I have no idea if it was the same sort of thing in Ancient Egypt."
Don't know why they're looking at me, I have no idea. Well, I have a little idea.
"I'm not sure about that one, but I seem to remember that the zodiac - or at least some of it - had the same basis in ancient times. I'm reasonably sure that the constellations would be recognisable and I'm almost certain that Libra - at least in meaning if not in name - has stood the test of time."
I'm an astrophysicist, not a freaking astrologer. Bunch of hooey if you ask me. But still, as Daniel says, the constellations are represented in the DHD symbols, so it's as good a guess as to where to start looking as anywhere else. With the point of origin as the last one, and working from the left and if Daniel's guesses about the numbers and so on are correct, we have...
"So it's Pegasus which is number one, Serpens Caput - number three."
"Serpent Kaput?" Jack says. "I like the sound of that."
"No, caput, Jack," Daniel groans. "Head of the snake. It's Latin."
"Snake head? Sounds like a Goa'uld address to me," Jack mutters. He could be right. I ignore him anyway and carry on.
"Hydra number eight..."
"More snakes," he mutters again.
"Sculptor would be number fifteen. That's the last of the numbers. Triangulum and Libra could be the other two, representing the Nile Delta and the scales of justice, right?" I look at Daniel and he nods. "What we need to do now is go to Mia, input the information to the navigational computer and see what it comes up with."
As we have nothing better to do, we go and do it.
"Tell me about this Thoth guy, Daniel," Jack says as we enter the ship.
"Uh, bringer of all knowledge to Egypt. He introduced the hieroglyphic writing system, gave medicine, law, astronomy... you name it."
"Sounds like a good guy," Jack says carefully.
"Yeah. Not like a snake at all."
Daniel shakes his head. "I doubt it. He was sometimes Ra's representative on Earth."
"Strange. Something doesn't sit right with this, does it?"
Daniel shakes his head again. "No. I'm not sure why, but I get a weird feeling about this one."
I've started up the navigational computer and input the co-ordinates. And we have?
"Oh. I wasn't expecting that," Daniel says quietly.
"Nor was I," I add.
"What?" asks Jack.
I point out the star and it's not the red of the Goa'uld that's in front of us. It's silver.
"Not snake territory then," Jack finally says.
"No. It wouldn't appear to be."
We are all staring at the little silver ball that's quietly flashing and apart from the fact that it has a gold centre, telling us it has a gate, it's not giving up any secrets.
"So. That's that then," Jack announces with an air of finality.
"This address isn't on the Abydos cartouche, nor on the list of Ancients' gates, so neither the Tok'ra nor the SGC will find it. So, we don't have to go. The secret book will stay secret and that's the end of it."
"Uh, no, Jack, it's not," Daniel says softly. "For a start, we don't know that this is where it is. All we know is that we came up with a guess and hit a gated planet by pure chance. Secondly, it could be anywhere. I mean, I could be so far off the mark to be completely wrong. Not to mention that if the SGC really wanted to they could continue with the cold-dialling and hit this place by accident, so to speak."
"And what, Jack?"
"And? There's an 'and' in your voice."
Daniel shuffles a bit and looks at his feet. "I guess I want to go there to see what's there," he adds. "Uh, to see who's there."
Jack stares at him for a minute and says, "And what if it's monsters? Big, scaly, creepy monsters?"
Daniel breaks out into a shy smile.
"Aw, go on," he says. "You know you want to."
"I'm not sure I want to face big, scaly creepy monsters, Daniel."
Uh oh, he's doing the licked lips and fluttering eyes again. I give Jack five seconds max before he caves.
One... two... three... four...
"Oh, all right. We'll send a VCD through in the morning and see what's there. First sign of a tyrannosaurus rex and we call it off, right?"
"Okay," Daniel agrees readily.
To be frank, a T-rex wouldn't put me off. Strange aliens however...
I sigh, put my hand out to my very own strange alien and, after switching off the computer, lead him from the ship.
We've had dinner - nothing special, only roast chicken with all the trimmings. Sigh. At least we're calling them chickens. Purple and orange furry feathers look strange but what the heck, they make similar sounds and taste the same. Daniel seems to have taken it upon himself to be the cook now that he has decent equipment. I'm going to build a barbecue in the garden soon...
Still, we had no dessert today, so I'm going to take a little something to bed. We're off on our trek through the wormhole and into the great unknown tomorrow, so Daniel and I have a little ritual to complete. Teeth cleaned (God, it's good to not have to ration the toothpaste so much), bits and pieces scrubbed and it's time for bed.
"Uh, Jack? What's this?"
He's pointing to the large towel I've placed on top of the cover.
"A towel, Daniel."
"Yes, I can see that. Why is it there? And what are you doing with my bandanas?"
He's soon going to find out.
"Lie on the towel, Daniel, and put your hands above your head."
I see him shiver as I give the command - and command it is. My voice is back to 'Colonel O'Neill' status. He's got the message. Airman Jackson is going to follow orders. I'm not sure, but I think that when we play like this, he has some sort of fantasy thing going on in his head. Whatever.
I let him see me tie his hands to the headboard, stretched either side of him, almost cruciform. That's the last thing he's going to see. Next up, the bandana over his eyes. He says nothing, but swallows harshly. He's hard already.
Now, the reason for the towel and my dessert.
"FUCK! What the hell was that?"
"Some strawberry ice cream that we had left over, Daniel. Why, do you want some?"
"I think I just had enough. Do something, Jack or my nipples will snap off!"
Oh, I certainly plan to. Why don't you just lie there while I... oh yeah. Strawberry ice cream à la Daniel. A lick here, a suck there, a little teasing of the nubs... hmm, much better than off a boring old spoon. Now, where is the next bit going to go? Oh, I know. Just there.
"JACK! You bastard!"
Heh heh heh. His navel is ticklish at the best of times. Dip my tongue in like so... lick out the cream thus... and bingo, he's writhing around the bed. Back up again and I put a little in my mouth. Time to share it, I think. Hmm, he seems to like that, his tongue is reaming my mouth for some more. I break from the kiss and put some in my mouth to warm it a little... slide down the bed and...
Double heh heh heh. My very own strawberry ice cream flavoured Daniel popsicle to suck on. Tasty. Maybe a little more? Oh yeah. Better warm this up first or he'll kill me later. A little move south and... snigger... strawberry bombe.
Roll it around in my mouth, drop it out, another spoonful, take the other one...
Didn't warm the ice cream so much that time. I am such a bastard at times. Damn, the ice cream's finished and there was one bit left to taste. Never mind, since when has lack of equipment stopped me doing a job? He hears me put the bowl down and sighs a little in relief. I make sure he doesn't hear me picking up the lube though. Can't spoil the surprise. Back in position, I push his legs up a bit and reach my goal. Time to finish my taste test.
"Oh yeah," he moans happily.
Flick the tip of my tongue over my goal and then push it inside him.
"More, Jack, please," he's panting.
Oh, he's gonna get more all right. As quietly as I can, I cover my fingers. Time to move this up a notch, I think. He loves it when I push my fingers inside him, he can come from this alone. I try not to hurt him but he likes it rough, so it's all part of the game. Him lying there, apparently helpless, me moving around, using him, turning the brilliant man into a body and nothing else.
One day, back on Remoc, I told the other two to stay out of the cabin. He was so wound up from a mission that he needed me to take over. I kept him naked all day, didn't let him think or speak or do anything without permission. I fucked him wherever and whenever I wanted and that night he slept like a baby. I get that, I really do. He trusts me so fucking much that it blows my mind.
I'm watching him now, he's cursing me but his face is telling me that he's enjoying the hell out of himself. Anyway, now for my final trick. Not that I'd admit it, but I enjoyed the hell out of myself back on Earth when he stuck that dildo up my ass. I'm about to get my own back.
"Shit! What the fuck?"
"Just getting revenge, Daniel dearest," I say sweetly.
I don't need to take it as slowly with him as he did with me, he's positively welcoming it inside him. I wonder what I'm going to do next? Oh yeah, I know. It's all the way in and he's looking almost serene. Time to wipe the smirk off his face. I crawl up the bed and straddle him and then turn myself to face in the other direction.
Dipping down, I grab a hold of my dick and then push it into his mouth. He gets the message and starts to suck on it like a baby with a pacifier. And now for my next trick, I bend down, take his cock in my mouth, reach around, switch that fucking thing on and...
"Ooh." That tickled.
No way is he going to last, I can feel him moaning and groaning as he sucks me hard. He's urging me to come but I think I'm going to outlast him. Probably not by much though. Oh yeah, here he comes. And comes. Whoo boy, and comes.
I'm pulling from his mouth, I don't want to come yet.
"Jack?" he pants.
"Not yet, Daniel. Just wait."
I switch the dildo off and pull it slowly out of him. He's still panting, still twitching from his orgasm. Let's just finish this dessert off, shall we? I get in-between his legs and push inside of him. God, that feels good.
"Oh fuck, please Jack, fuck me," he whispers.
That was the idea, you know. Jeez, looking at him is too much for me. He's still tied up, blindfolded, his limp dick is lying on his stomach, his body is streaked with pink ice cream and he looks thoroughly debauched. I have so got to end this. I'm not hanging back, I'm fucking him into the next century. He's calling out encouragement, 'Yes, fuck.' I don't think his vocabulary list is long enough to complete a sentence at the moment. It feels so good - too damn good. I'm gonna...
I did. Oh boy, did I.
"Jack, untie me."
Exhausted, I reach up and rip the bandana from his eyes and then get one of his hands from another. He doesn't wait for me to get to the final one, he does it himself. Now he's wrapped his arms around me and he's holding me tight.
"God, Jack, that was incredible."
I'd agree with him, but I think I need to sleep now.
Daniel kept muttering over his coffee this morning, something about strawberries and being sticky when he woke up. I really do not wish to know what it is he is talking about. No matter, we are about to send a VCD through the gate to the destination that we surmise - we hope - is that of Thoth's home. The gate has engaged, which is good.
"Here goes nothing," Samantha says as she sends it through. We look at the display on our VCD and see that the planet is capable of sustaining human life. However, nothing appears to be in the vicinity.
"Hang on, what's that?" Daniel asks, pointing at a large mound of some sort. "That looks man-made."
"Man-made?" O'Neill asks with a laugh.
"Man-made, alien-made, it's just a matter of perspective," he shrugs.
"You think we should look?" O'Neill prompts.
"May as well, Jack. You never know what's there."
"That's what's bothering me," O'Neill sighs. "Come on, kids, time to go play on another planet."
We make sure that we have our kits secured and then we step through.
"Sam, do you reckon you could invent a naquada fuel cell to power an internal combustion engine?"
We all look at O'Neill with curiosity.
"Uh, no, it wouldn't work like that. Why?"
"Well, I was thinking that maybe we'd get across land quicker if we had dirt bikes or something."
Samantha's eyes light up at the mention of motorbikes.
"I don't see why I couldn't build one to drive the chain... the whole engine thing would be different..." We see that she is now smiling and obviously working on the logistics of a naquada-powered engine.
Daniel and I look at each other and exchange glances that say that we would probably be safer if we stayed on foot. Fortunately, the mound is not too far away so we do not have to listen to O'Neill's ramblings for too long.
"I was right," Daniel says when we arrive. "Look."
We see what he is saying, the mound is in fact a structure which has become covered with vines and other plants over the years. It is made from stone, cut into blocks, and not unlike a pyramid.
"T? Sam? You getting your Spidey Senses tingling?"
"I do not sense a Goa'uld presence, O'Neill." Samantha agrees.
"Good. That is good, right?"
None of us are really able to answer that.
There has to be a way in to this. I've put my gloves on, just in case the plant life is poisonous, and start to pull some of it away carefully, trying not to damage the stonework. The others watch me and then join in. It's the only apparent structure in this area, so if this is what we're looking for, it's better that they all lend a hand.
"Try not to rip out the stone," I warn. "I don't think that the plants have damaged it too much but we have to be aware of it."
"Would it be better to burn it off?"
Ah, Jack, ever the military man.
"No, not really. For a start, the plants are full of sap and wouldn't burn easily."
I magnificently refrain from adding that under the same principles, Jack would be flameproof.
Okay, we've been at this for hours. The good news is that I can see what looks like a doorway. The bad news is that at this present rate of progress it will take a few more hours to get to it. Then I have to figure out a way of opening it. And it's getting dark.
"Time to take a break, kids," Jack announces. "We can go at it again in the morning."
Probably not a bad idea. We move away and set up camp. We put up two tents, start a fire, put some food on to cook and then sit around waiting for it and the coffee to brew.
"What are the chances that we've hit the right planet first go?" Jack asks as I hand out the mugs.
"Slim to non-existent," Sam shrugs.
"So, it still could be it, Jack," I insist. "Look at what little evidence there is. The pyramid. Surely that indicates a working knowledge of Egyptian life?"
"But there were pyramids on other parts of Earth too, Daniel," Sam responds.
"True, but they were built in a different manner. This one is reminiscent of Egyptian pyramids. Admittedly it's small by Egyptian standards, but still, it's more theirs than anyone else's."
"The colour of the holograph did not indicate that it was a Goa'uld planet," Teal'c says thoughtfully. "Is it possible that this structure was built independently?"
"Of course it's possible," I say. "A pyramid is a good shape to build. But nothing says that only the Goa'uld were in Egypt. After all, the Ancients were on Earth, Oma's people... Hang on, I wonder..."
I have all three's attention.
"The Ancients were the first ones there, as far as we can tell. Oma represents Mother Nature, right?"
Only Jack's answering but I know the others are listening in intently.
"Well, Mother Nature, or similar earth goddesses or spirits are found in many different cultures and just about all of the most ancient ones we know about - even the prehistoric peoples left us artefacts pertaining to a mother goddess. Is it possible that Oma's one of them?"
"I thought the Ancients had moved on to another galaxy."
"Maybe so. But what if they didn't all leave?"
A silence descends and I put the next bit of my suddenly contrived theory to them.
"What if they ascended? Orlin was banished, as was - we think - Oma, but the ones he called the Others were still around. They didn't go to another galaxy, they just changed."
"Granted," Jack drawls. "But what's that got to do with this place?"
"Only that if one lot of ancient aliens were on Earth before the Goa'uld, isn't it at least possible that others were too? And that they may still be around? We've found many aliens taking the shape of what became gods, such as the Asgard, the spirits of the Salish and the giant white aliens of the Aztecs and Mayans. We've also discovered that aliens like the Goa'uld took the identities of already extant gods.
"What if the gods they took over from were other aliens? Think about it, the Goa'uld didn't only take over Egyptian gods, they took over many gods from many belief systems. The Morrigan, Nirrti, Yu..."
Slow nods now, I think they're getting what I'm getting at.
"So, you're saying that Thoth may not have been a snake but could have had a snake take over his identity later on?"
"Yes! That would explain why he was Ra's sidekick, but it would also explain why he was known to be good. In other words, there were two Thoths."
Daniel's mind is a very strange place. I wouldn't mind except that he usually manages to convince me that his more far out theories are at the very least possible, if not probable.
"Let me get this straight," I say, trying to wrap my literal brain around his lateral thinking. "You think that the Thoth that we hope to find here is not a Goa'uld, but there could be another Thoth out there which is a Goa'uld."
"Yes, that's exactly it."
"Which Thoth are we looking for, then?"
Jack and Teal'c are flipping their heads back and forth and are starting to go cross-eyed as they follow our conversation.
"Because if there was a book of the Goa'uld Thoth then one of the others would have gotten hold of it by now, I'm sure of it."
"But what if the Goa'uld tech that we know and use comes from the book?"
"Could do," he shrugs. "But the rumours are talking about magic and stuff. Oh, I don't know, I just get the feeling that we're on the right track."
"Okay," I nod. "So, what would this alien race be? We had two 'spare' colours on the hologram. As far as we know, the Ancients don't have planets in this galaxy anymore, but the blue planets were once occupied by them, such as Kheb and Remoc. The other colours were Goa'uld owned, Asgard owned, neutral..."
We looked a little deeper into the green-coloured planets and saw that they were not only the protected planets but included ones that have thrown off Goa'uld 'ownership' like the Land of Light. It also included the Nox, the Mayan's planet and the Salish, so we assumed that planets where the gods don't get involved in the battle with the snakes shared a colour - with green representing planets where the Asgard were not supposed to interfere.
"This one was silver and we have lilac left over. Could this race be the Furlings?"
Daniel shrugs. "It's not a name that I recognise as a pantheon or anything. But then there's nothing to say that the Furlings had anything to do with Earth, either. The Nox didn't appear to and they were part of the alliance."
"So it could be someone else?" Jack prompts.
Daniel shrugs again. "I have no idea, Jack. I'm sorry."
"Don't sweat it, Daniel. You can't know all the answers straight away," Jack adds with a grin. "Tomorrow, however..."
Daniel rolls his eyes and shakes his head with fond exasperation. Ah well, maybe tomorrow we will know. Time for bed - I'm going to sleep like a log.
"Good morning campers."
There are times that I can happily hate Jack. Daniel has my sympathies on a daily basis.
Daniel's standing back and now looking at the cleared and clean doorway. It's covered in hieroglyphs.
"Uh, Daniel, aren't hieroglyphs Goa'uld?" I ask.
"Hmm. Not necessarily. Thoth was said to have brought them to Egypt. It's possible that some of the older snakes adopted them. After all, Cronus used Greek script, Pelops used Linear A, Yu likely uses an ancient Chinese script and so on."
I do. Honest.
"So, can you open it?" Jack asks - surprise, surprise.
"Give me a chance, Jack," Daniel sighs. "I need to decipher it."
"Decipher it? I thought that you could read these."
"I can..." he says, his voice trailing.
"Uh, remember the ziggurat?"
"With the Russians?"
"Ye-ah," he drawls. "Uh... there's a story or something here. Let me just figure it out, okay?"
Jack looks at Teal'c and me and then nods towards the camp. There's nothing for us to do, so we go make a coffee.
"Right, I think I've got it," Daniel says as he sits by the fire. We all look at him expectantly but all he's interested in is his mug.
"Are you going to share with the class, Jackson?"
He gives me a withering gaze.
"In a moment." Then he returns to his coffee. I guess we'll have to wait until my lord and master deigns to speak.
"Right," he finally drawls. "The story on the door is part of the same legend that I told you about, Setne Khamwas and the Book of Thoth. The bit that I cut out was where the kas of Neferkaptah and his wife and son told how they died. Basically, Neferkaptah found the book originally and learned it, writing the spells down and then dissolving the ink in water and drinking it."
"Ew," Sam cries out. "That's gross."
"Yeah, well, that was a common thing to do. They believed that the knowledge gained from the spells would be more potent if they ingested them. At worst, they got a bad stomach and pissed the colour of the ink for a while, but it wasn't poisonous. Anyway, they took the book on a journey to Memphis but on the river, Merib, the boy, was overcome by a spell and threw himself into the water and drowned. Even though Neferkaptah used the spells in the book, he couldn't bring him back to life as only Ra had the power of life and death."
"Sarcophagus?" I prompt.
"Maybe. It's well known that the snakes stole a lot of tech, so there's no reason to believe that the sarcs were their own invention. If only Ra possessed a sarc it could explain it."
"What happened next?" I ask, knowing that Daniel could end up on some tangent if I don't keep him on track.
"The same happened to Ihwey, she drowned and died, despite Neferkaptah's intervention. By the time the boat arrived at Memphis, Neferkaptah himself was found dead, with the book clasped to his chest."
He looks at me in hope and I pour him some more coffee. With a smile, he takes it, drinks some and then resumes.
"Anyway, I have no idea why I told you that bit."
"Daniel?" Okay, I know I sound exasperated, but hell, I think I'm entitled.
"Uh, sorry. Oh yes, now I remember. I just need to rewind a bit. You see, to get the book originally, Neferkaptah had to go through some tasks. First he had to go to the middle of the Nile at Koptos, where there was an iron box which was guarded by snakes, scorpions and to cap it all, a mighty, indestructible serpent. Inside the iron box was a bronze box, inside that was a wooden box, and inside that one there was an ivory and ebony box. In that one there was a silver box."
"Does this end?" I ask, my eyes crossing with all the boxes.
"Oh yeah. One last box, a golden one inside the silver one and in that was the Book of Thoth."
"So, how does that help us?"
"Simple, Jack. This bit of the legend was missed out of the story on the doorway. However, the hieroglyphs for all of the elements mentioned are there. Not only that, they're a bit more raised than the others - not much, but a bit. I was thinking, that just like the ziggurat, only someone familiar with the story of the Book of Thoth would know that it was missing and would know the order. I think I have to press the hieroglyphs in order and then the door will open."
He shrugs. "Best I can do, Jack."
"Okay. Look, it's nearly lunchtime anyway. Let's eat, then you can do your thing. At least we can go in on a full stomach."
Teal'c, Sam and I have weapons drawn already. Daniel looked at us and sighed. I know, I know, nothing says 'Hi, I'm a peaceful explorer from Earth' like a primed P90, but I go in prepared to protect my kids.
He's muttering something as he presses on a cartouche. And yes, I do know what one is.
"Speak up, we can't hear you," I taunt.
Ooh, I get the finger. Subtle, Dr. J., real subtle. He does raise his voice too, though.
"Hsmn, kht," he says as he presses two.
"I can give you something for that cold," I offer.
I get predictably ignored and he goes on with gritted teeth.
"Hbny, abw... er, ah, there it is, hj."
"Hj?" I gotta ask.
"Well, why didn't you say so?"
"I did. Now shut up... Nbw."
When he's right, he's right. Can't fault the guy. The door is creaking and groaning but it slides to one side. Daniel, naturally, starts to step inside. Needless to say, I stop him.
"Jack, I need to see what's in there first. What if there's a trap?"
Damn. I hate it when he's right.
"Okay, but by my side and don't..."
"Touch anything. Yeah, I know."
This mission feels as if we were back working with the SGC. It is good. O'Neill and Daniel are arguing as they once would and Samantha and I are tolerating their behaviour. Things are normal.
I look where Samantha is pointing and we all see that her flashlight is illuminating a flight of stone stairs going down. We all focus our lights in the same area, as the small room that we are standing in seems to have no other exit and nothing on the walls.
"I guess we go in here," Daniel says quietly.
We cautiously descend the stairs and enter the room at the bottom. Using our lights, we see that it is a lot larger than the building at the surface would suggest. All along the walls are scrolls in shelves. A wooden staircase appears at one end and we look up. There would seem to be a second level, also containing scrolls.
"Alexandria," Daniel whispers, awe filling his voice. "The Great Library of Alexandria."
"I though that burned down," O'Neill replies.
"It did. But who's to say that there weren't copies taken of the scrolls? I'm sure that something's going on here..."
His voice trails off and we hear him dropping his bag. He is looking for something in it.
"Gloves, gloves, where are the fucking gloves... Ah, got them."
I see what he wishes to do now. He has his soft, cotton gloves on and he is now carefully extracting one of the scrolls from a shelf.
"Dammit, I wish there was more light in here," he curses.
As he says that, the entire room is illuminated. From what source, I do not know.
"Oh! Great! Thank you!" Daniel calls out and returns to his scroll.
"I don't know about you, Teal'c, but that was a touch convenient, wasn't it? Just a little too easy?"
"I am not sure, O'Neill. There are civilisations which have voice-activated technologies."
"But one that understands English?"
He has a point. I do not know what to say to that.
"Oh God, this is incredible," Daniel gasps. "Wonderful. Amazing. I was right, Jack. This is the description of Ctesibius' version of the clepsydra."
"Whose version of the what?"
"Ctesibius. He was a guy from Alexandria, uh, born about 270 BCE. Inventor. Um... the clepsydra, ah, er, a water clock used to time speeches in courtrooms. He devised a new one, using constant water pressure instead of just relying on water falling out of a jar."
A silence falls.
"Well, that was interesting..." O'Neill starts.
"Gah! Don't you see, Jack? He was from Earth! Not long before the turn of the millennium and after the revolt against Ra!"
The truth of Daniel's statement now makes sense.
"Ah. So, this means... what?"
"It means that whoever's behind this probably wasn't Goa'uld and was there for a long time after we assumed them to be gone. There were at least three fires in the Library, and seeing just how big this place is and how many scrolls there are, I have to assume that these are all copies - and probably copies of everything that was ever there! Do you have any idea just how important this place is?"
"I do!" Samantha calls out. "All of those old inventions... it's fascinating!"
Daniel's face lights up as he sees her enthusiasm matching his.
"I knew you'd get it," he replies. "Jack? Teal'c?"
"I do believe that I see what makes you so excited," I say.
"Good!" Then he turns to O'Neill. "Jack?"
"Okay, I get the geek thing, honestly. I think I get the alien thing, too. But there's still something about it that makes me shiver."
Typical Jack. Can't he see how important this really is? At least Sam gets it. I'm not sure Teal'c does, but at least he tries.
"See, this is the way the water was pumped in," Sam says, pointing out a part of the drawing.
"Oh yeah, and look here, this is the scale that the time was measured against," I say.
I could lose myself in here for a lifetime. It is so cool.
This papyrus is written in Greek. I wonder if there's anything written in demotic or hieroglyphs?
"Don't touch anything with bare fingers," I warn them. "The grease could damage it."
I'm off to find something else.
This place is stunning. Incredible. I see scrolls written in all of the ancient languages, including the Latin of the Ancients. This is so cool!
"Jack, come and look at this!"
God, why doesn't he answer?
"Jack? Sam? Teal'c?"
I turn around and see that I am alone. Dammit, they could have told me that they were leaving the building. I'd better put the scroll back, I guess. Maybe they've gone to make some food? Oh heck, I could check with them, couldn't I?
Jack? Sam? Teal'c?
I hear nothing. Perhaps the materials of the building are blocking my thoughts. Fuck it, I'd better go and look for them.
"Hello? My name is Daniel. I'm a peaceful explorer from Earth. Uh, Tauri?" I offer, hoping that the guy that's just appeared out of thin air in front of me knows what I'm talking about.
"I am Thoth."
"Oh, that's great. We were looking for you."
Well, he certainly doesn't look like his pictures, that's for sure.
"Uh, what is the name of your people? Your species?"
He blinks a little. Even though he's humanoid, there's something a touch ethereal about him. I watch as he seems to think about his answer.
"You would know me as a Ka."
"A Ka? A spirit? A double? I, er, don't get it. I mean, the ka was one of the spirits of the dead back in ancient Egypt."
"I am aware of that."
I think for a moment.
"Are you one of the ascended beings? The Ancients maybe?"
Again, there's a silence. Then shakes his head. Which is really weird as he seems to leave part of it behind on each shake. Ah, it's reforming.
"Not as such. I know of the people of whom you speak. You could say that we are related; a similar evolution would be closer to the truth."
"Were your people human to start with?"
Yet another silence, then he says, "No."
Nothing like co-operation, is there? And this is nothing like co-operation. Sheesh. Talk about blood out of a stone.
"Uh, my friends, the ones that were with me. Do you know where they are?"
"Where are they?"
Ask a stupid question. A light flashes and I turn up in a different room. They're all there, lying on the floor, apparently okay, but unconscious.
"Are they all right?"
"What are they doing?"
Oh fuck. Here I go again.
Where am I? More to the point, who the fuck am I? Uh, don't be silly, Sam, you know who you are. So, why am I dressed in weird clothes?
I look down at myself and see that I'm in a long, bright-white dress. My head feels weird. I put my hand up and realise that it's long, plaited and, er, black? Hang on, it's a wig. I need a mirror. No mirror. What's that? Shiny metal. That'll do. Whoa! I look like one of those Egyptians you see on the History Channel.
"Teal'c? Jack! DANIEL!"
No, no answer. Shit.
I turn around slowly and see a man in front of me. Well, I think he's a man. It's hard to say for sure. He looks male, but his features are not quite human. It's hard to put my finger on it. I mean, he has two eyes, a nose, a mouth, two ears... and all in the same places as a human, but it's like they're not distinct, as if they're fuzzy around the edges. Weird.
"Er, hi. Who are you?"
"I am Thoth."
"Oh, good. We were looking for you."
Last of the great conversationalists, eh?
"Where am I?"
He is quiet for a moment, then asks, "Where do you think you are?"
Good question. "Last I knew I was in that library with all the scrolls. After that..." I look around and say, "If I didn't know better I'd say I'd been transported back in time and to Earth, er, Egypt specifically."
He is silent again, then he says, "How are you so sure that you do know better?"
Damn. He's got me there. I go to answer but he's gone. I didn't see him disappear, no flashing light, no whooshy sound effects, just no longer there. What the hell is going on?
This is not turning out to be one of my better days. I wake up somewhere weird, none of my kids around me, and to cap it all, I'm wearing a skirt. Talk about adding insult to injury. Then some strange guy just appeared in front of me, talked more cryptically than Daniel and vanished into thin air. I'm not hanging around, I'm off to find the others.
At least the door opened. That's good, right? There's no sign of anyone in this building, but I'm not taking that for granted. I've figured out that wherever it is I am, it's like ancient Egypt. I've seen enough of Daniel's documentaries and read enough of his books to work that out. But if Daniel ever finds out that I've read his books, I'll have to shoot him. I have an image to maintain.
Okay, I'm walking down a corridor, the only sound is that of my feet on the marble floor. There's a door off the side of the corridor, so it's got to be worth looking in, hasn't it? Better be careful though, I'm unarmed.
Here goes... "Damn!"
"Oh, God, sorry Jack."
"That's all right, Carter, good to see you're paying attention. I'll get over it."
"Get Daniel to kiss it better when we find him?"
"Ha. Ha. Ha. Anyway, you met Thoth?"
"I did. Not that he was much use."
"No, I didn't find that he was exactly co-operative, either. Did you find anything in here that can be used as a weapon? Apart from that fruit bowl, obviously."
She puts the bowl down, looking a cross between guilty and pleased with herself, and shrugs.
"No, 'fraid not, Jack. Perhaps the others will have more luck?"
"I doubt it, but you never know. Come on, let's go look for them."
"You are Jaffa."
The spirit, or alien, or whatever it is, is curious about me. This is not unusual.
"You do not bear the brand of a god?"
"At one time I did. I was First Prime to Apophis. But I no longer serve the false gods. I joined the Tauri's battle against the Goa'uld some years past."
It is silent, then speaks. "What of Apophis?"
"Dead. As is Ra, Cronus, Heru'ur, and others. Most of whom have perished either at our hands or as a result of our actions."
"Impressive. You are not afraid of me? I am Thoth. Perhaps I should be angry with you?"
"Goa'uld are never angry about the death of other Goa'uld, they only seek to use it to their advantage. I sense no Goa'uld within you. If you choose to kill me for turning against the Goa'uld, you may try. I am unafraid to die."
The spirit pauses, then it smiles.
"Perhaps," it says. "Until we meet again."
It has vanished, as if it was not there. I hear something in my mind.
O'Neill. It is I.
Great. Where are you?
I am in a room.
Thanks, T, that's really helpful.
You are welcome. If it would be of more use, I am in a room overlooking a courtyard. I would appear to be on the first floor above ground level.
That's better, we're on the same floor. You seen Daniel?
No, I have not. I have, however, met an alien spirit.
Yeah, we met him too. Er, Sam's with me.
That is indeed good news. Perhaps we shall find Daniel soon.
That's the plan, big guy. Step out into the corridor and stay put. We'll come to you.
I do as instructed and wait.
Whoa, this is interesting. A room in what looks like a pharaoh's palace, or at least somewhere as wealthy as that. Difficult to say which dynasty, though, could be Middle Kingdom, I just don't know for sure. We don't have enough information as what the various palaces really looked like on Earth, most of our ideas are just conjecture or based on reports from the time. I wonder if the glyphs will tell me anything...
Oh, hi Jack. You're here too? What about the others?
They're with me. Where are you?
I'm in a room with a lot of hieroglyphs on the wall, Jack. I'm just trying to figure out...
Daniel, look out of the window and tell me what you see.
Er, okay. Hang on... Um, above ground level, there's a courtyard. A fountain...
That'll do. Go to the door on the other side of the room and wait in the corridor.
Jack, if I read the glyphs it might tell me what's happening.
Daniel, we want to find you first. Now, do as I said, please.
Okay, okay, I'm on the way. Just hurry up, will you?
They are taking their sweet time about getting here, that's for sure. Oh, thank God, about time.
"Great, can I get back in there to read the walls, please?"
"Don't you think we'd be better off trying to find a way out of here?" Jack growls.
Hang on, he looks different. So do the others.
"Uh, nice look guys."
"You looked at yourself yet?" Jack asks, pointing at me. I look down and see what he's talking about. Oh. Ah well, he can't laugh, his kilt is shorter than mine.
"So, the walls?"
"No, Jack, we're here for a reason. I spoke to Thoth..."
"Yeah, we all did. Fell asleep, woke up here, spoke to the spook..."
"I spoke to him before I woke up."
That stops him.
"Before? So, what's going on?"
"He took me to a room where you three were lying down, sleeping or unconscious or something. Anyway, he said you were dreaming. That's the last thing I remember. Oh, and he said he was a Ka."
Jack does a neat impression of Thor and blinks.
"Ka, Jack. K. A. Ka. One of the spirits of the dead of Egypt in mythology, but apparently a different form of alien which would appear to have evolved along similar lines to the Ancients. He didn't contradict my theory about them being the ascended, either, so I assume that was correct."
How does he do it? I don't know how he does it, that's for sure, but he does. Each and every freaking time. Looking at Jack and Teal'c, I know they're thinking the same thing.
"So, what's this all about, Daniel?" I ask, thinking that it's better that we get back to the problem at hand. If the boys continue with their pissing contest, we could be here for a lifetime.
"Well, if I could look at the walls, they may tell me. They may not, of course, but I can't be sure until I look."
We all look at Jack and he drops his shoulders.
"Go. Look. Read!" he says with a sigh. "T, you're with me. We'll go have a look around."
Teal'c nods. I guess I've just been assigned Daniel-sitting duties. Daniel looks at me and winks. He knows precisely what's going on in Jack's head.
"Yes, Daniel?" You can hear the 'I'm going to be patient' tone in Jack's voice.
"Don't touch anything, there's a good man."
With that, Daniel turns and walks into the room again. I force down a smile and follow Daniel. No way am I looking at Jack.
"You do realise he's going to kill you one of these days, don't you?" I say as I sit on a chair near the wall he's gone to first.
"Oh yeah. Or the other way around. We keep saying we'll be the death of each other."
I leave it a while before I speak again, knowing that I can tell by his face when he's found something he'll want to share. Like now.
"So? What's it say?"
"Okay, among other things, it's talking about a magic rod."
"Yeah. Remember the story of Moses and the ten plagues of Egypt?"
"Well, the story goes that he and his brother Aaron possessed a 'wonderful rod' and they used it to turn the sea to blood, bring the locusts in, yadda. I'm wondering if it was some sort of alien technology?"
"Does it mention Moses?"
"No, but it does talk about a rod which has the power to command nature. It just put me in mind of that story, that's all."
"I see. Does it say where it is?"
"Hmm. Not sure about that. Let me read some more."
I relax in the chair and wait for him again. It's been hours. I'd better find out what the guys are up to.
Oh, hi Sam. How's it going up there?
Daniel's enjoying himself. Says there's information on a magic rod or something. Could be alien tech.
Magic rod? What, like a magic wand?
I guess. As Daniel would say, there's a lot of truth in myth. Even if it's not as we think it was, there could be something to set the myth off in the first place.
As long as we're not going to be going up against witches with warts and black cats...
Jack! Don't say that to Daniel. He'll give you a long lecture in how witches are nothing like that.
Don't I know it!
So, what have you guys found?
More of the same, really. Lots of corridors, rooms, hieroglyphs...
You get the feeling that this is going to be a long haul?
Got it in one, Sam. Keep in touch.
Shall do. Daniel's having fun reading out spells and stuff so I think he'll be occupied for a while. Stay out of trouble.
We'll do our best.
"O'Neill, look in here."
I turn and look at a room that Teal'c is pointing to. Inside, it's got the usual gold walls with hieroglyphs, but on the far side is what looks like an altar. On that are ornaments of some sort.
I'm still working on it, Jack.
Yeah, but I need your expertise on something.
Oh? What's that?
Well, we've found a room and a table or altar or something. Anyway, on it are, er... eighteen, nineteen... twenty small carved objects. Some green, some blue, some black... some other stuff. They look like they represent something. One looks like Ra's eye or similar.
Sorry, Jack, I was just thinking. What are the other objects?
One looks like a set of steps, uh, another looks like that cross thing.
Yeah, that's the one. There's a frog, uh, a beetle...
Does one look like a little canopic jar?
Hang on... yeah, one does. Does it mean anything?
Sounds like the amulets that would be wrapped up in the mummification process, Jack. They'd be laid on the body and inside the bandages.
Okay, does that mean anything here?
Probably... I mean, I don't know what's going on if that's what you're asking. Have a good look around, don't touch anything. If you see anything else let me know.
Anything else? This place is full of things. Trouble is, what we have here is a puzzle, but no way of telling what we're trying to figure out. Daniel says we're dreaming, so I'm not worried that we're in physical trouble in this 'realm' for want of a better word. However, I am concerned about our physical bodies. I want out of here.
O'Neill is not happy. I understand this. I much prefer to have an enemy that I can see. Of course, we may not be in danger.
Samantha? Is all well with you?
We're fine, sweetie. You?
We are also well. Please, remain safe.
I get a similar reply from her and we say goodbye. This mental connection we have brings me great comfort.
"Hey, T, look at this."
There are times when that comfort means more than others.
"I am here, O'Neill. What is it you wish me to see?"
"Remember Sam mentioned a magic rod? Do you think that this could be it?"
I look to see what he is pointing at and see a long wooden staff. At the top of which is a crystal.
"It could well be. I believe that we should ask Daniel to join us."
"Yeah, well, getting him out of that room might be easier said than done."
He has gone silent, so I assume that he is calling Daniel.
"Well, that was easier that I thought it would be. He's on the way down. We'd better wait out in the corridor."
"Hi guys," Daniel says as he appears with Samantha at his side. "What have you got for me?"
"I think you should see for yourself, Daniel," O'Neill answers, ushering him inside. "By the way, how was it so easy to pull you away from that wall?"
"Uh, I finished."
"Well, not exactly finished. I basically just scanned the walls and only really stopped to read anything that looked important or that looked like it would tie in with inventions, gizmos and other gadgets."
"Ancient Egyptian terms?" O'Neill teases.
Daniel looks at him and blinks for a moment, then he says, "Absolutely. Gizmo. From the Ancient Egyptian for crap."
With that he stalks over to the table and stares at the objects on it.
Right, what do we have here? Ah yes, the amulets. I was right. The ankh, khepri, Tet... yup. That's them. Here are some other amulets, ones that work with the spells and chants I saw on the walls of the other room. And what's this? The magic rod? Could well be. It fits the description I read on the wall. Question is, do I lift it and see how it works? Probably not, it's only going to tempt fate.
"Daniel? Aren't you going to touch it?" Jack taunts.
"What? And give you the chance to say 'I told you so'? How stupid do you think I am?"
If he answers that, I'm going to kill him.
There is so much temptation here. So many artefacts. Normally, I'd give into my curiosity - my burning desire to understand what was here would be so strong that I couldn't be dragged out of here by a couple of teams of wild horses. So, why am I not touching anything? What's holding me back?
Daniel? Is something wrong?
Uh, yeah guys, I reply, just knowing that they're all tuned into me.
That, I don't know. I mean, I want to look at this lot. It's fascinating. But I get the feeling that something's going on. Maybe we're being tested?
There's a silence for a moment, then Jack says out loud, "Come on, let's try to find a way out of here."
For once, I'm not arguing.
We turn to face the door and all of a sudden, right in front of me appears a book, shining from the gold on its cover, the glyphs on the face spelling out 'Book of Thoth'.
"That's what we were looking for, Jack," I say as calmly as I can.
"Yeah, I was afraid of that. What do you want to do?"
"I want to look at it," I say.
"I don't think I should. Thoth!" Perhaps calling the alien behind this will help.
Well, it might help if he turned up. Okay, plan B.
"What's plan B, guys?"
"Haven't come up with one yet," Jack replies. "I'm working on it."
"Yeah, well work faster."
"Daniel, can't you use those spells and things? Those amulets? Can't we get past Thoth with them?"
"No, Jack. I mean, I possibly could, but that's not how this is going to go down. THOTH! Damn you, come here now! You are not going to tempt me!"
"You do not wish to look at the book?" the alien asks.
"Oh, I want to," I say. "But that's not why we're here."
He looks at me oddly. I think he was prepared to get into a fight over this - I'm not going to give him one.
"I do not understand."
Jack, should I tell him?
Sure, go ahead. Anything to end this sooner rather than later.
"There have been rumours that this book exists," I start. "Rumours that it contains magic or blueprints to technologies beyond that which even the Goa'uld have. Word reached our home and teams are being sent out to look for it."
"But now you have found it, you do not wish to take it with you?"
"No. You see, certain elements of our government have more or less taken over the facility that oversees the stargate project. Uh, the chappa'ai. These people are dangerous. They've virtually blackmailed the Tok'ra into helping them out, too."
"Surely the information would help you fight the Goa'uld?" he says, trying to tempt me.
"No. Well, it might, but we do not believe that it would be the best thing. Some of the Tok'ra may well try to find the book, these items here..." I wave my hand behind me, letting it linger on the rod.
"There are sections of the Tok'ra that look only to protect themselves, just as those that try to run our facility are looking only to protect Earth. Our general has the same opinion as us, that this would be dangerous in the wrong hands. We came to look to protect it. If you hadn't been here, if you had died or left this place unattended, then there was the possibility that they would find it. We can no longer live on our planet because we oppose those that seek it. Do you understand that?"
He stays silent for a moment and then replies. "I see. What do you wish to do now?"
I think, then reply. "Look, we guessed that this was your home address. The planet is not on the list of active gates that our people have and the Tok'ra are also unaware of it. However, on Earth, we have such a thing as a cold-dialling program. This means that our computers dial up random addresses. There is the possibility - no matter how slim - that they will find you. If they realise that there are addresses that work which are not on the list that they have, they may try harder on the combinations that they don't have programmed, if you see what I mean.
"I worked out where your home could be. Admittedly, I struck very lucky, but it only took me minutes to find you without the aid of a computer."
I run my hands through my hair, unsure as to what to say next. "It's equally possible that they never find you. I guess that I just want you to be aware of the danger. No one can find this place. No one."
Okay, so I'm pacing. I'm frustrated, okay? I want to spend my time exploring this place, even if it is only in my dreams. And the library - God, what wouldn't I give to see that again? All of that wisdom, that history, that knowledge!
You only need to give one thing, Daniel.
Shit. That's Thoth's voice in my head.
Oh? And what is that?
I know the others cannot hear us, they're staring hard, trying to enter my mind.
The thing you love the most.
I start to laugh out loud. Not even the knowledge on Heliopolis managed that feat and I wasn't even in love with him then. I don't even have to look at Jack to make my decision.
"Thoth," I say. "You could offer me the galaxy on a plate and it wouldn't be enough for that. Come on, guys, it's time to wake up."
I don't know what was going on back there but we've all just woken up in the room at the top of the stairs at the entry to the pyramid. Daniel hasn't said a word, but as soon as we woke, he stood up and took Jack's hand and led him out of the building. Teal'c and I followed them silently.
We've packed up our camp, still saying nothing, and now we're heading back to the gate. Oh! It would seem that we have a send-off party.
"Hello Thoth," Jack drawls.
"Hello," he answers, his voice measured. "Daniel, are you sure you wish to leave this place? Once you step through the gate, you will never be allowed to return. All of the knowledge of the Ancients and the Ka resides here."
Daniel smiles a sad smile at him and shakes his head.
"I don't want to leave," he says. "I'd love to spend time here. It's many lifetimes' work in the library alone. And sure, I want to see the book, I want to see what your artefacts do. I'd love to have the control over the elements that the rod has and to take out the Goa'uld with it. But let's just say that I'm getting used to having that sort of knowledge taken from me. I had to walk from the knowledge of the Asgard recently and some years ago, I had the key to the universal language of the four major alien races.
"But I learned something important back then. All of the knowledge in the universe is worth nothing if you have no one to share it with." He smiles a little wider then and adds, "Keep it safe, Thoth. It's a shame that we won't meet again, but it's probably for the best."
Thoth smiles too. "Who is to say whether we shall meet again? The ways of the universe are strange. Walk softly, Daniel. Never leave your gentle path. Samantha, never lose your thirst for knowledge and your love of discovery. And Jack and the good Jaffa, Teal'c. Walk as lions by their sides. Protect your mates until your last breath. I believe that the galaxy is safe in your hands."
Before we can reply, he has gone. We stand in shocked silence for a moment, then Jack says, "Well, that's what I call a send-off. Nice guy. Dial it up, Daniel. Let's go home."
Daniel does just that, then he takes Jack's hand in his as he walks determinedly to the gate. Teal'c and I see the pained look he throws over his shoulder and back at the pyramid before he steps through. I get the feeling that I know what he was asked to give up. Thoth really didn't know him very well, did he?
Daniel has said little since we arrived home. I know how frustrated I am at not being able to study the knowledge that was in the library. Since our expedition into the Tobin system, I have spent a lot of my spare time reading up on ancient technologies and mathematics. I knew some things about it before then, of course, but my interests had always lain in the here and now.
It was the collective mistake there that made me realise that I had to know more. Daniel had no way of knowing that the Phoenicians would need to add a zero and I had completely forgotten that they didn't have one to start with (I did know it, but there are times that small things that you learned years before just don't come to mind, you know?). By learning more of the history, I have been better equipped to deal with Daniel's side of things.
And yes, it's interesting too. We know so little about the day-to-day technologies available to the ancients that it's not funny. That library could not only have opened up my world, it would have been - as Daniel said to Thoth - many lifetimes' work. I could just see that place crawling with ancient tech specialists. Probably wouldn't get most of them back out of it again.
The question is, what is this doing to Daniel? It's not the first time he's had to walk away from such knowledge. It's not as if it's knowledge for knowledge's sake, either. It could have helped us in the fight against the Goa'uld. He can't share his newly acquired knowledge of the Mayans, neither can he share the information that Thor sent him. He must be so frustrated!
He hasn't eaten much and for once, Jack's not pushing him to eat. Come to think of it, Jack's been pretty quiet too. I think that it's as I thought on the planet. Daniel was given the choice: Jack or the library.
For once, I don't know what to say to Daniel. On Heliopolis, there was no choice. He had to come with us or he'd die. To me, that was black and white. No way could I let him stay. On Jotunheim, he wasn't allowed to stay. But on Thoth's planet... tough call.
He would have been allowed to stay, would have been safe, I think. Daniel was right, Thoth was testing us. Seeing if we were being greedy, if we would just try to take the knowledge from him. That story that Daniel told us about the ghost and the checkers game ties in with that - Setne whatsisface represented the greedy and look what happened to him. Daniel could have looked at that book, learned things, remembered them, but he knew that it would be the wrong thing to do. He's always tried to do the right thing, no matter how painful for him.
I guess that's how he forgave Teal'c in the end. Despite what outsiders thought, I know how much Daniel wanted to hate him... but he couldn't. Just as he knew he couldn't stay in that library.
I may seem to be an insensitive bastard, I may play the dumb fuck too, but even I know just how historically important that library was. One of the greatest repositories of knowledge that Earth has ever known, lost to us, through fire and age. Considering that history was never my thing and that I do understand how important that was, I can't even begin to imagine how it's tearing him apart to not be there now.
He's in bed, waiting for me to say something I think. But I really don't know what to say. How can I comfort him over this?
I get under the covers and pull him close.
"It's okay. Honestly."
"Sure? That was your dream, wasn't it? I mean, finding all that knowledge."
"Yeah. It was. But I'm fine."
"What do you want to do? We could always fly there, you know."
He shakes his head. "No, we can't. Not until our job is done. I'm taking comfort in the fact that the knowledge still exists, and it's in safe hands. I think that Thoth will bury the gate or do something similar. What I am going to do though is write down the co-ordinates and log what I did find there. Then I'll encrypt it. Maybe one day, in the future, someone suitable will find the information and make the right use of it."
"Someone like you?"
He lets out a little laugh. "Maybe. Maybe someone more deserving."
"Daniel, there is no one more deserving. Thoth was right. You walk a gentle path. Even if you had the knowledge I doubt you could use it to hurt."
"That's where you're wrong, Jack. I could use it to hurt. And Thoth knew it."
"It's why he gave me the choice."
"Daniel, I don't understand."
He's silent, but I know he's just trying to formulate his words, so I leave him to do it.
"He could read us, he knew what drove us. He also knew that I would do whatever it took to protect you and the others. And if that meant using that rod to attack the Goa'uld, or reading his book to whatever end that would give me, then I would do so. He gave me the choice. You or the book, the library.
"It was no choice, Jack. I couldn't give you up, not and live peacefully with myself. So he knew that I was not the right person for the knowledge."
"Kind of like that teaching dream with Shifu, eh?"
"Yeah. Oh, I'd start out with the right intentions. I'd learn, I'd read, I'd enjoy the hell out of myself. Then I would have turned against Thoth, taken the knowledge and used it. While the Goa'uld exist, while the SGC is run by people like Kinsey, I would have been dangerous. So, no choice."
There would have been a time when I wouldn't have believed that of him. I never really believed that he would have nuked Moscow as shown him in the dream. But now, I know he's speaking the absolute truth.
"So, would you have missed me?" I tease, trying to cheer him up.
The bastard thinks about it. His blue eyes are twinkling though.
"Hmm. Why don't you give me a reason to miss you?"
Oh, it's like that, is it?
I flip him onto his back and he starts to laugh. What? Shit, now I'm on my back. I forget how strong he is sometimes. I don't forget how heavy he is, though.
"Gah, you tryin' to suffocate me?"
"No," he replies, then he lifts himself up and I see his arm muscles rippling. That is such a turn on! "I'm going to kiss you though."
Oh jeez, he's lowering himself back down and still taking his own weight. I feel his breath on my lips and it pushes me to act. I reach up and pull him down onto me again, then roll him to the side. Now we can kiss.
I feel like he's eating me, he's desperate, all over me. Hands everywhere, his body plastered to me, lips trailing all over my face, my neck... oh fuck, that feels good. I'm giving as good as I get. Got to let him know that I wouldn't give him up for anything, either. No honking great space gun would be payment enough.
I am so hard. So is he. Our hips are pushing closer together, ignoring what's going on with the rest of our bodies and just trying to get off. Not sure if I want that yet. This is just so good. He's hot, his skin is burning mine. Our breathing is short, we're gasping for breath.
"God, Jack, I need..."
He's rolled me back onto my back and now he's on top of me, grinding his hips into mine.
Daniel, feels so good.
We're staying connected, it adds to the experience, brings us together. Brings us off together more often than not. Sooner rather than later.
Ah, the joys of an education.
"Hi Sticky, I'm Daniel."
"Pleased to meet you. Gerroff, I think we need to clean up."
"You know what I love about you, Jack?"
"Hmm? What's that?"
"You're such a romantic."
He's finally asleep. He pretended for some time, not wanting to let on to me that he was upset by the day's events, even if he understood and agreed with the reasons. Yet again, he's had his treasure taken away from him. Will he ever get a break?