"Ah, not really. I take it you've been talking to General Hammond?"
"Well, I guessed you hadn't read my report," Daniel grinned.
"I did," said Sam, "it was fascinating."
"I, too, have read it. It was indeed fascinating, Dr. Jackson."
"The fishing was good, too," put in O'Neill dryly.
"Indeed it was, O'Neill."
"Did you catch anything, Teal'c?"
"No, Major Carter, we did not. We were fish-ing."
"Oh," said Samantha, looking none the wiser. "Guess it must be a- man-thing..."
"Could've some with us, Sam. How was your aunt, by the way?"
"Fine. She was - fine."
"Good. Well, come on, campers, let's not keep the General waiting..."
"Telemetry indicates that this planet's atmosphere is very similar to ours," went on General Hammond, " - nitrogen 77.29 per cent., oxygen 21 .67 per cent. and its mass is 98.7 per cent. of Earth's. The average air temperature at midday is around 28degrees C, though granted that's only over a few days."
"Sounds very... pleasant," Jack remarked.
"This isn't intended to be a second holiday, Colonel," Hammond reminded him. "Your mission is simply for reconnaissance and to assess any risk from the 'Goold' - or anything else for that matter. We haven't seen anything to suggest that this is a technologically advanced planet, rather the opposite in fact, but if you do find anything useful, no doubt the government will be very grateful..."
The general glanced round at four sceptical faces.
"Yes, well, embarkation is at 11.00 hours, so if you'll just go and get kitted up, I'll meet you in the Gate room."
"Chevron six - encoded... chevron seven - locked," announced the technician, as the 'kawoosh' exploded out from the gate and settled back to its usual liquid calm.
"You know, even after all this time, I still find that impressive," Daniel remarked, donning his boonie hat as he walked up the ramp after Col. O'Neill.
"Yeah, me too," Sam agreed.
Teal'c raised one eyebrow then followed them through the event horizon.
The warmth on the planet designated P4A-991 was a welcome relief after the biting chill that characterized wormhole travel. Jack was already scanning down the valley through binoculars by time the rest of the team emerged.
"Nothing moving around here, not nearby anyway. Come on, kids - moving out."
They set off down one of the narrow tracks that led down into the valley, looking around curiously as they went.
"There appears to have been a fire-fight in this area, Colonel O'Neill," Teal'c said, "though I think it was several years ago. Most of the signs have been obliterated now, but some remain."
"Fire-fight, Teal'c?" O'Neill asked. "That doesn't sound too good. Didn't Hammond say that the culture here wasn't technologically advanced?"
"Indeed he did, Colonel O'Neill. I would say that the markings on the rocks are the result of staff weapons."
" I suppose that's not altogether surprising, given Daniel's discoveries," Sam said.
"Oh, I forgot you hadn't read Daniel's report, colonel," she responded and proceeded to fill him in on the salient features of it. Well, it made a change from her techno-babble, he supposed.
As they neared the valley floor, the route became much gentler, and softer foliage began to appear amongst the thorn bushes. Ahead, the track widened and the woodland's trees threw branches over it in a delicate archway of bright mimosa-like leaves. The scents of the forest came to meet them which would all have made for a pleasant march but for the compensating irritation supplied by the clouds of buzzing insects. Jack slapped his neck. He seemed particularly attractive to them, and hoped there were none like those they'd encountered on BP6-3Q1...
It was a little cooler out of the full glare of the sun. For a forest way, it followed a fairly straight course and where it was damper underfoot, ruts made by heavy iron-shod wheels could be seen. Every now and again, they startled woodland creatures which took off with a clatter and cries of alarm, although S.G.1 rarely glimpsed exactly what they'd disturbed.
Sometimes they heard rustlings in the undergrowth close by which gave them the slightly creepy feeling of being watched, but none of them saw anything to justify that feeling. It worried them nevertheless and by the time they thought they saw the forest thinning out, their senses were definitely on edge. Still, not far now and they would be out into the cultivated part of the valley.
It was a part of the valley they were not destined to see from the upstream side. Jack, who was taking point, slapped his neck for the umpteenth time, but this time his hand encountered something bristly that was rather larger than a mosquito and much more painful.
His mind hardly had time to register that it was a blow-dart before he crumpled to the ground, followed almost simultaneously by Sam and Daniel. It took two more darts before Teal'c succumbed. The last thing he saw was a couple of human-looking beings with tousled grey hair and wearing pale, ragged grey clothing. Then the darkness closed in...
Jack became aware that something pleasantly cool and damp and smelling like lavender was being gently wiped across his forehead. Its touch was very pleasant. Apart from a throbbing pain in his neck, he felt very comfortable altogether and reluctant to move.
Fighting off the languor, he opened his eyes and wondered where he was. The last thing he'd seen was the forest canopy. Now, above him was a stuccoed ceiling. This image was interrupted as female face swam into view. The sudden movement made his head spin and he closed eyes again for a few moments.
When he opened them again, she was still there. She smiled.
"Welcome to Alexandria, my lord," she said softly. "You will soon be feeling much better."
He tried to sit up, but she restrained him.
"No, no, please rest a while longer, then I will take you to my father."
He had no immediate fault to find with that and did as he was bid, closing his eyes once more. He was feeling quite spaced out and the cool stroking was pleasantly relaxing. He could hear the murmur of other voices that sounded at the same time both quite far off and near at hand. Some of the voices were vaguely familiar. After a while, the lady stopped and he heard her light footsteps - and several other sets of footsteps - receding. Maybe he would sleep now...
Slowly, his consciousness fought to reassert itself. He should be doing something Something active. What was it? Where was he? Come to that, who was he?
"Jack?" said a voice nearby and on his level, "Jack, where are we?"
"Mmmph?" he mumbled, "I d'n' know..."
He paused a long minute for thought, then:
"Yes I do. Alexandria. She said it was Alexandria."
"Oh. We're on Earth then. Are we? Did we go back through the... through the ?"
"Stargate?" came another sleepy voice, female this time, but familiar.
"I don't remember, but we're certainly not in Kansas any more."
Jack pushed himself up on to his elbows and looked around.
The room was large and airy and its white walls were covered in murals. He was laid upon an ornate couch beside one of the walls. There were several couches along the walls. Three others were occupied. The man in the glasses was...? Oh yes. Daniel Daniel Jackson. The pretty blonde one was Sam. No, that should be Major Carter. And the other one must be... Teal'c. That was it. It was all beginning to fall into place now.
"What happened?" Daniel asked, propping himself up on one elbow. He still looked pretty woozy too.
"Somebody jumped us," he replied succinctly. "We were going through the forest, and a blow-dart hit me." He rubbed his neck. "Just here ouch. Still a little tender. Think someone's put some salve on it, though."
"Yeah, same here," Sam responded, gingerly fingering the side of her neck.
She'd rolled on to her side but still hadn't tried the sitting up manoeuvre. Daniel's fingers made an exploratory tour of his own neck. A wince showed he'd found the site. Teal'c was still motionless.
"Teal'c!" Jack barked, "Teal'c!"
No response. He swung his feet on to the floor, stood up, then sat down again abruptly, feeling dizzy.
"Sheesh! Whatever it was they hit us with sure packed a punch!" He groaned.
Jack tried again, more slowly. This time, he made it to verticality, more or less, though the world had a tendency to rotate independently if he moved too sharply. It seemed to take a very long time but finally he reached Teal'c's couch and shook the big man gently. There was no reaction. ~ Damn! ~ He bent cautiously and held two fingers to Teal'c's neck. He was relieved to feel a pulse - very slow, but strong. He was less happy to feel three puncture wounds.
~ One for Teal'c and two for his darned symbiote I suppose ~
He shook the Jaffa again, more vigorously. Teal'c moaned softly, then relapsed into his comatose state.
~ Guess he'll come round eventually ~
Jack thought about returning to his couch for a rest. He felt like he'd just finished a triathlon course, but decided that since he was already up, he might as well explore. Just a little bit. He shuffled over to a window near Teal'c's couch and looked out.
The sun was much lower in the sky than he last remembered seeing it - not much above the rim of the valley now. How long had they been out? He looked at his chronometer. Nearly 18.00 hours, Earth time. That meant they must have been out cold for something like five hours - assuming this was still the same day?
The window looked out over a wide paved courtyard surrounded by high white walls. Within the courtyard, fountains played their hypnotic tinkling song. Exotic plants, even trees, grew in large pots, visited by a colourful collection of butterflies. Some plants were trained up the walls. A bird trilled from a climber somewhere above his head. It all seemed very civilized - enchanting, almost.
Beyond the courtyard walls, the upper floors of other white-painted houses could be seen. Jack turned away and headed back to his couch. To his relief, Teal'c was beginning to stir.
He had not long sat down before the sound of soft footsteps approached.
Four strikingly attractive young ladies came in bearing trays of food and amphoras which they set down on low tables near the couches. Jack recognized one of them - a golden-haired beauty, exquisitely coiffured - as the one who'd been ministering to him earlier. All four were clothed in simple white gowns edged with gold embroidery which were neither Egyptian nor Greek in style, yet strangely reminiscent of both.
"I am pleased to see you are recovering, my lord," Jack's golden goddess said. "We have brought you food to aid your recuperation, and sweet-water drawn straight from our well. It is protected by our Sovereign Lord and has great restorative properties."
"Thank you - er - my lady?" he responded.
"I am sorry, my lord," she said, dropping an elegant curtsey, "I am Roxana. This," indicating a tall raven-haired young woman, "is my sister, Melantha. This," indicating a slightly smaller girl with glowing chestnut locks, "is our sister, Philomena, and that" - another dark-haired maiden - "is our cousin, Kalandra."
The four young women waited on the S.G.1 team, plying them with the most exquisite of fruits, sweetmeats, and other delicacies. The water, too, was very pleasant-tasting. By the end of the deliciously protracted meal, the whole team, even Teal'c, was almost fully recovered and feeling comfortably replete.
Sam giggled. "Didn't General Hammond say this wasn't a second holiday?" she grinned. "This is better than any holiday I ever had."
"Aren't you forgetting the little matter of...?" Jack pointed to his neck.
"Yes," she replied thoughtfully, "yes, I am..."
"My lords and lady" Roxana began.
"Would ya knock it off with the 'my lord' thing?" Jack interrupted.
Realizing that he hadn't reciprocated with the introductions earlier, he made amends, introducing himself and his team.
"But you can call us Jack, Sam, Daniel and - er -Teal'c."
"Well, my, Jack, Sam, Daniel and Ertealc, please will you come with us to meet our father?"
"That's Teal'c. Just Teal'c." Jack corrected.
Roxana looked confused.
"Teal'c... Oh, for crying out loud! Come on, let's go meet your father."
"It is all right, Lord Jack. Your belongings have been carefully stored in your chambers," she assured him.
That would have to do, but he inwardly cursed his incompetence nonetheless. She then excused herself and went to inform her father of the presence of his guests.
"Daniel, do you reckon that Daddy is Alexander the Great?" Jack muttered while they awaited the arrival of the father.
Daniel's eye's grew round at the suggestion.
"I don't know, Jack. I hope not!"
With that, a tall stately man strode into the chamber accompanied by two more hoplites. He was of middle years, yet with the merest sprinkling of grey in his jet black hair. Daniel relaxed. He looked nothing like the illustrations of Alexander the Great that he had ever seen.
"Welcome to Alexandria, my lords - and lady," the man said, smiling broadly. "I am sorry your first visit here should have been so - uncomfortable. You are now fully recovered, I hope?"
"Pretty fit, thank you Sir," Jack replied.
"My name is Prokopios. I am the Patriarch here. We do not often have visitors who come to Deuteros through the Ring of our Sovereign Lord. It is a great honour. You come from Archikos?"
"Earth, actually," Jack said blandly.
"Yes, yes we do," Daniel chimed in, adding in an undertone, "Archikos means 'origin' the first world."
"Yeah - Arky... kos. We call it Earth now." Jack confirmed.
"You come in answer to our prayers. Our Lord has sent you to us. Praise be to the Great Alexander! Tomorrow, there will be great feasting and merriment and the Ananeosy can begin!"
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