"Uh, Jack...? What just happened?"
"No idea, sir, but it certainly isn't P9X-984."
"And we're certainly not in Kansas any more, either," Jack
commented as he looked around the room with the metal walls, metal floor and
metal ceiling - and no door.
As he finished speaking, the air was filled with the voice of Judy Garland
singing, "Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high..."
"Huh?" Jack squawked, looking round for the source of the sound
and coming up empty. "Don't tell me, there's a scarecrow around here as
He broke off as, with a soft 'pop!', a
scarecrow suddenly materialized looking very puzzled, insofar as a scarecrow's
face has the capacity to look puzzled.
Jack held out his hand in front of Sam's face. "Bite
me," he said.
"I said bite me, Carter."
"Oh," Sam said warily. The hand didn't move, so she
bit it. Hard.
Jack yelped. "Nope, definitely not dreaming."
"I would advise against the use of the 'L' word, O'Neill."
"Love, Teal'c?" Jack asked.
"I think he means the 'L' word that ends in 'n' and has two vowels in
the middle..." Daniel suggested.
"Oh, that 'L' word," Jack said jauntily. "Why not? It would
be more afraid of us that we would be of it."
"Not necessarily Jack, and if it isn't, we don't have too many options
for getting out of here."
"You wish to exit this wonderful room with its satin-finished walls
and its non-slip floor with attractive dimpled surface texture...?" cut in
a tinny voice. It had the echo-y acoustics of a computerized voice simulation.
Judy Garland carried on warbling, "...skies are blue, and the dreams
that you dare to dream..."
"We've already established that this isn't a dream," Jack snapped.
"Well, there's no need to be so bad-tempered about it," Judy said
and shut up.
"...and discreet ambient lighting system?" the voice continued
"Er, yes. Please," Daniel said cautiously.
"Well, why didn't you say so?" said the voice with exaggerated
"I just did," Daniel replied.
"Oh. Very well, then. It is my pleasure to open my doors for
A section in the middle of one wall slid open like elevator doors. S.G.-1
and the scarecrow exchanged baffled looks.
"Well let's go folks. We're off to see th "
"Don't say it, Jack."
The five of them walked out into a metal passage. As Jack left the room in
last place behind the scarecrow, the doors shut with a vicious clang, trapping
his shirt tail - which ripped.
"That's for upsetting Judy," the voice sneered.
"Release O'Neill's shirt," Teal'c ordered.
"Very well then." The voice sounded resigned as the door opened
by the smallest possible chink to release the shirt. "But I think you
should leave him behind," it continued in campy tones. "He's grumpy
and you'd be much better off without him."
"This may be so," Teal'c said with a satirical look at Jack.
"He is, however, our leader so he stays with us. Clear?"
An indignant silence ensued accompanied by a slightly hurt look from Jack.
"I think it's this way," he said, setting off left.
"Nope, you're wrong," said the tinny voice,
"I don't think this place - wherever it is - likes you, sir," Sam
observed as they set off in the other direction.
"I think this must be a ship, O'Neill," Teal'c said as they
wandered around a maze of passages for several minutes without seeming to make
"Why's that, T?"
"Well, the slight vibration of the walls would be the first clue. I
think we should go to the bridge," he concluded, raising his voice.
Instantly, a part of the wall beside him slid smoothly open, accompanied by
a voice saying, "It is my pleasure to open my doors for you."
As Jack stepped towards them, the doors began to move
menacingly together. He gave them a filthy look and they sprang open again.
"Crosspatch!" the voice muttered.
Inside the ship's control room, an extremely beautiful young
woman was saying, "25,000 to 1... and falling. 13,250 to 1... 7,795 to
1... 556 to 1... 16 to 1... We have normality."
She turned to face the visitors.
"Hi!" she said brightly, "I'm Tricia Macmillan,
but you can call me Trillian."
Daniel introduced S.G.-1, valiantly ignoring the electronic
snort as he reached the 'peaceful explorers' bit.
"And this a scarecrow who... doesn't really belong to us
but decided to tag along," he concluded.
Footstep behind them attracted their attention.
A strange person had ambled on to the bridge. He had two
heads where most people only have one. He also had three arms.
"And you must be the Wizard of Oz?" Jack surmised, trying to
ignore the extra appendages.
"Er, no," replied the newcomer, looking a little puzzled.
"I'm Zaphod Beeblebrox," said his other head.
"I'm sorry, you must be a little disoriented," Trillian smiled.
"A little," and "No, not really," Daniel and Jack said
"What they mean," said Sam, looking admiringly at Trillian's hair
style, "is that our work takes us all over the galaxy. We've even been
back in time"
"Er, Carter Need to know..."
"Yes, sir. Sorry sir."
"Wait a minute," Trillian said. "Did you say you were from
"Er, well, just now... more or less."
"Wow!" Zaphod said with heavy irony.
"Well yes. The odds against that happening are 3,987,772,426,971 to
1!" Trillian said.
She took in the surprised looks on the faces of the new arrivals. "Oh
sorry, I'm a mathematician."
"Whatever to one against what happening?" Jack demanded,
maintaining his Colonel Grumpy image.
"I don't understand what they're talking about either," said the
scarecrow, putting a comradely arm around his shoulder. "I don't care what
they say," he added, "I like you. You gave me life. If I just had a
brain to go with it..." He sighed wistfully.
"Ah, well, in my universe," Trillian was saying, "the Earth
was destroyed by the Vogons to make way for a hyperspace by-pass, so we must've
picked you up from a different one. Universe that is."
"Oh." Sam thought about it. "I wouldn't have thought the
odds against that happening were all that high. This isn't the first
alternative universe we've visited."
"Yes. We have a mi er, device - that can send you to any number
Trillian's face wore a look or longing, like a hungry child standing outside
a candy store. "I wish I could go back home again..."
"I'd love to offer to take you back with us, but two versions of the
same person can't exist in the same place for long because of entropic cascade
failure and Oh." Sam suddenly looked aghast.
Sam looked at Trillian. "Have you jumped into our universe, or have we
jumped into yours...?"
"Why? What difference does it make?" Jack asked.
"Were you not paying attention, O'Neill? In Trillian's universe, the
Earth no longer exists."
"So we have a fifty-fifty chance of getting back then? Right?"
"The odds are considerably worse than
that, sir," Sam responded glumly, "considering that the number of
universes is infinite."
"You might be forgiven for thinking so," said a
voice behind them, "but you've been picked up by the 'Heart of Gold', a
spaceship powered by the Infinite Improbability Drive."
S.G.-1 and the scarecrow turned towards the speaker, a young
man with wavy brown hair and wearing an Argyll pullover.
He was accompanied by another member of the 'crew' - or
whatever this disparate group of people called itself. The other man was
wearing striped pajamas and an old-fashioned dressing gown in large plummy-red
"Hi guys, I'm Ford Prefect, and this is Arthur Dent," said the
one in the Argyll sweater.
"Ford... Prefect?" Jack asked curiously.
"Er, ye-es. Why?" Ford looked a little defensive.
"He's a little sensitive about his name," Arthur
explained with a smug smile. It wasn't often that he had the opportunity to put
one over on aliens. "He thought it was quite a common name on Earth -
well, Guildford, Surrey, actually - so it would be nicely inconspicuous, but
the chump didn't realize it was a make of car."
"So I made a mistake about the dominant life form on the
planet," Ford said sulkily.
"Wait a minute. You're not human?" Sam asked.
"Well, I am," Arthur continued. "He's an alien from a small
planet somewhere near Betelgeuse. He came... er, went, to Earth for a week to
research an article for 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' but got stranded
there for fifteen years. Can't think why... Zaphod there is his
"Don't ask," murmured Trillian.
"So what do we do now?" Daniel asked of no one in particular.
"You could mix me a pangalactic gargleblaster," Zaphod suggested,
eyes alight at the idea.
Ford frowned. "Weren't you listening?" he asked. "I told you
we'd run out of Tharsian froom beetles when we were on Zeta Ceti."
"Yes, and I told you to restock while we were there," Zaphod's
other head reminded him.
"Yes. And then I pointed out that the Zeta Cetians only take Altairian
dollars and you blued the last of those at Margladon Electrazoog's graduation
"Oh yeah. She was a bit of a goer though, wasn't she?"
"Well... ye-es... If you don't mind the green scaly skin..." Ford
looked faintly green himself at the memory.
"So what do we do now?" Daniel repeated.
"Don't bother," Arthur said against a background
of 'clunk - hiss - clunk - hiss - clunk - hiss.' "One thing I can
"You won't like it," cut in a lugubrious mechanoid voice.
"Oh, hi Marvin," Zaphod said in the bright tone of voice that he
knew Marvin hated.
"I've just had an idea." Arthur laid a comforting hand on Marvin's
metal shoulder. "It might even cheer you up."
"No it won't," Marvin said gloomily.
"How do you know. I haven't told you what it is yet," Arthur
"Brain the size of a planet... How can you possibly offer me anything
that could be even slightly challenging?"
Arthur drew a deep breath. "We've picked up a group of hitchhikers and
we don't know whether the ship's dragged them into our universe or it's jumped
into theirs. Or if we've all jumped into one of an infinite number of
universes. So can you tell us which scenario it is, please."
"I'm a robot not a psychic," Marvin grumbled.
"But can you do it?" Arthur asked with an encouraging look.
"I'll have to think about it," the robot said and apparently
switched itself off.
"Oy, robots..." Jack muttered in disparaging tones.
"I heard that," Marvin said indignantly then lapsed in silent
The 'Heart of Gold' set them down on an unknown planet several days, and
acres of boredom for some of the group, later. Jack was not a happy
"Trees!" he exclaimed in disgust. "Why is it that every
planet we set foot on is covered in trees? "
"Except the desert ones," Daniel pointed out.
Jack shot him a filthy look while the robot known as Marvin the paranoid
android remarked with glum satisfaction, "Told you you wouldn't like
"Have you come up with an answer yet?" Arthur asked.
"I'm still thinking," Marvin replied stiffly.
"Don't tell me Earthman here's managed to stump you?" Zaphod
"All right, I won't."
"Well, might as well explore now we're here," Daniel said.
"Before you do, you'd better have one of these," Ford said, ever
helpful where novices were involved.
There was a bit of a kerfuffle while certain parties - well, a certain party
- raised vociferous objections. Arthur and the scarecrow sympathized. Trillian
explained. Daniel, in anthropologist mode, had no problems with going native
and went along with it, then headed for the door.
This put a stop to Jack's objections; he wasn't going to let Daniel out of
his sight and if that meant shoving a fish in your ear...
Daniel had already left the bridge and turned right. "Make a U-turn if
possible," said a disembodied female voice, "then continue for thirty
yards, make a right turn and the doors will be pleased to open for you."
"Oh, thanks," Daniel replied absently, and set off in the
"The man does not change," Jack muttered, following the errant
archaeologist, and followed by everyone else.
"Make a U-turn if possible" began the female voice.
"Can it!" Jack snarled.
"He's really very nice," the scarecrow said, uncertain but loyal,
"when you get to know him."
"If you say so." The voice sounded highly skeptical.
"What's that light over there - through the... trees?" Sam asked.
"Fire!" wailed the scarecrow.
Although deficient on the brain front, he still had enough nous to realize
that fire and a straw-stuffed scarecrow is not a good combination, especially
if you're the scarecrow in question. He leapt on to Jack and buried his head in
Jack's neck in a shuddering panic.
While Jack was dealing with the terrified scarecrow, Daniel shot off towards
the flickering light.
"Daniel" Jack spluttered through a mouthful of straw
'hair'. "Dammit! Follow him, Teal'c and try to keep him out of
trouble this time."
"I always do," Teal'c replied, looking affronted. "Try, that
is," he muttered as he set off after his team mate.
"I'll get the fire extinguisher," Trillian said, and disappeared
back into the 'Heart of Gold'.
Meanwhile, Daniel, hotly pursued by Teal'c and Sam, had reached a clearing
in the forest where a fire was burning fiercely.
Through the circle of flames, he could see someone lying on a large flat
rock and apparently unconscious. The flames didn't seem to have reached the
person - a woman to judge by her shape - but it could only be a matter of time.
Daniel, still running full tilt, hurtled through the flames. Sam and Teal'c,
skidding to a halt too late to stop him, watched in horror. But Daniel had
already made it through and into the clear ground on the other side.
On the rock lay a large lady covered by a thick black cloak and, bizarrely,
a metal helmet sporting a couple of wings. Daniel laid his hand a little
gingerly on her chest and felt no movement. Her wrist had a faint pulse.
Quickly, he climbed on the rock beside her as Trillian arrived with Jack and
a reluctant scarecrow tagging along behind. She began spraying foam over the
flames which, strangely, seemed to be dying down of their own accord.
Daniel was already applying mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, hoping he wasn't
too late. His lips had barely made contact when the lady's eyelids fluttered.
He sat back as she opened her eyes wide and gazed at him in what could best be
described as rapt adoration.
As she sat up, the cloak fell aside revealing a finely crafted metal
"Siegfried!" she exclaimed, grasping Daniel's arm in a vice-like
grip. "My hero!"
"Er, no. My name is Daniel," he replied.
"Oh." The lady seemed a little confused. "And yet, you
braved the flames, so you are indeed my hero and my husband."
"Husband?" Daniel squawked. He and Jack exchanged