Following the final episode of the final season of Stargate S.G.-1, a few of us got together with a view to maybe writing our own virtual Season 11, and straightening out some of the unsatisfactory wrinkles we were left with in the final episode. We had a lot of fun plotting out a whole season, but sadly, R.L. got in the way and we only have one completed story. So far anyway.
This is it...
Grateful thanks to the rest of the gang: Tejas (our Plottweiler), Annie, Lady D, Kay B, Wadjet, Evelyn Duncan and Jules. Yes, they're all from the slash group, F.D.A.S., but this is entirely gen. - like you'd see onscreen. Well, except that you definitely won't see any 'ship here either!
"Previously on Stargate S.G.-1... " Teal'c announced in lugubrious tones.
"The dying Asgard bestowed upon the Tau'ri all their knowledge and technology. This was uploaded to the Odyssey's data banks. It was a lot to take on board, even for a gifted theoretical astrophysicist like Colonel Carter, particularly when being shot at by Ori battleships with every leap from hyperspace.
"To buy time - time? Grrr! - Colonel Carter managed to create a time dilation bubble around the Odyssey. In the blink an eye, S.G.-1 has passed fifty years. Fifty years stranded in space with S.G.-1 is a Very Long Time... ::headbulkhead::
"However, Colonel Carter, amazingly still in possession of her mental faculties, managed to solve the problem and reset time. Unfortunately, one of us had to remain fifty years older in order to avoid setting up a loop. I remember every second of those fifty years..."
General Landry was already in the briefing room when Colonel Mitchell and Teal'c walked in. Squabbling voices followed in their wake.
"Give it up, Vala," Daniel was saying as he and Vala arrived, "There is nothing you can say or do to persuade, cajole or trick Teal'c in telling you anything about Ah, sorry General."
"But don't you want to know?" Vala hissed as she took her seat.
"Aren't you just the teensiest bit curious...?"
Daniel was, though he felt he was probably better off not knowing. The fact that Teal'c was resolutely determined to say nothing strongly suggested that this was the case. He pointedly directed his gaze at General Landry, ignoring a look from Vala that suggested this was not over.
"I'm sorry to call you people back for a further debriefing. I've been getting more flak from the International Oversight Advisory. They're convinced we're holding out on them."
"Holding out what, General?" Mitchell enquired, puzzled. "We've reported all we know."
"Apparently, they think there's more. Someone's told them that one member of S.G.-1 has further information." Landry cast a casual glance at the stenographer and around in the general direction of the security camera as he spoke. It was enough to remind the team they were speaking on the record. Daniel shot Vala a suspicious look.
"Hey, I haven't " Vala began, then followed Landry's eyeline. "I - I mean, I can't imagine how one of us would know something the rest of us don't... Can you, Daniel?" she ended with feigned innocence.
"Absolutely not," Daniel agreed earnestly. "Which of us is supposed to have this - this 'further information?'"
"They appear to think that Teal'c was given more information - alien-to-alien - by the Asgard."
Teal'c raised an eyebrow. "The Asgard take no such action - did not take such action, General Landry."
"Well, I know that, Teal'c. I was there."
"Besides which, the Tau'ri are as alien to the Asgard as are the Jaffa."
Landry nodded his agreement and moved on. "They're also querying the timing of part of our mission."
"Which part?" Mitchell asked.
Landry sighed. "They want to know how come, when we were dodging the Ori ships, we went to P5Z-245 and sent down the crew."
"I would have thought that was self-evident," Mitchell said scathingly, "even to the I.O.A."
"Yes, I think they got that. What they didn't get is how, when we were being closely pursued by the Ori, having problems with the Asgard hyperdrive, and having our shields rapidly depleted, we were suddenly back on course for home and minus our Ori tail."
"That's because we're smart," Vala said with a cocky grin.
"Perhaps the I.O.A. are not familiar with time dilation fields?" Teal'c suggested with a faint hint of contempt.
Landry looked a little uncomfortable. "One of the I.O.A. - a Dr. Simon Winklemann - seems to think that in order for Colonel Carter to have done what she claims to have done - under fire - she would have needed to go back to a time before the shields failed. In which case, she would be back at a point before she solved the problem... Someone would have had to stay in the future - as it were - to prevent the setting up of a loop."
"And?" Vala said, looking credibly baffled.
"And... this could have been a few hours - or a few years..." Landry said drily. "Dr. Winklemann thinks that Colonel Carter took the time to familiarize herself with the Asgard technology, leaving a large store of information with whoever remained behind."
"What?" Daniel stood up sharply and gestured upwards. "Then how come Sam's up on the Odyssey right now, working her butt off, trying to get to grips with the Asgard legacy? According to this Dr. Winklemann, she already knows it all!"
The briefing room door swung open after a sharp double knock.
"Have I called at a bad time?" came a familiar drawl.
All eyes flew to the doorway where General O'Neill, in class A uniform, was casually leaning against the door jamb. The crooked grin on his face segued into smug as surprised and delighted cries of "Jack!" "General!" and "O'Neill!" filled the air.
"So ya do miss me?"
"To what do we owe the pleasure, General?" Landry smiled, glad of the interruption.
"Oh, I had a meeting with General Findley at N.O.R.A.D. and I just thought I'd look in on my kids while I was here - check that Mitchell's taking proper care of them. You know - making sure Daniel eats regular meals, Carter sleeps occasionally, Teal'c isn't watching too much reality T.V.," O'Neill said, adding with an impish smile, "and Vala's keeping her fingers out of the petty cash - that sort of thing."
There was an enraged squawk from Vala.
"It's okay, Vala," Daniel chuckled. "He's only teasing. He doesn't mean it."
But Vala wasn't mollified. Glaring at O'Neill she muttered to Daniel, "It's the 'petty' I object too!"
"So, whatcha been up to lately?"
"Still pretending not to read our mission reports, Jack?" Daniel grinned, knowing his ex-team leader hated being out of the loop where S.G.-1 was concerned. Their last mission had been a bust anyway, so there wasn't anything to report since
"Haven't heard anything since you had that run in with the Ori."
"It's about that we're having this meeting, General," Landry said.
"What? I thought that was last week? Or has there been another Ori incursion?"
"Nope. It's the same one," Landry sighed.
"Then how come you're debriefing now?" Jack wanted to know.
"We seem to have picked up another bureaucratic meddler, or rather, the I.O.A. has," Landry scowled.
"Ah. I take it you mean the good Dr. Winklemann?" Jack said, mirroring the scowl.
"Been bugging you, too, Jack?" Daniel asked.
"Winklemann? Yeah, he's crossed my path a time or two..." Jack thought a moment then added, "Imagine, if you will, a cross between Richard Woolsey and Rodney McKay but without the subtle charm."
S.G.-1 winced in unison.
"Yeah..." O'Neill nodded. "Treat him like you would a UXB..."
His facial expression changed suddenly to one of surprise. He shot quick suspicious glances all around, then dematerialized and disappeared upwards in a glowing particle stream. There was a stunned silence for several seconds.
"I presume Colonel Carter is working on the Asgard transporter system," Teal'c commented, and they all relaxed.
"That must be it," Landry agreed. He 'phoned through to the Control Room and sent her a message via Sergeant Davis, requesting the return of General O'Neill.
A short while later, the particle stream descended. It did not, however, resolve itself into General O'Neill but a very worried looking Sam clutching a pink Asgard crystal.
"Colonel?" Landry exclaimed. "Where is General O'Neill?"
"I've no idea, sir. Sergeant Davis said something about returning him to the S.G.C.," Sam replied looking mystified, "but I haven't seen him for months, not since Daniel went to play with the priors."
The ex-prior cringed slightly.
"You sure this isn't someone's idea of fun on the Odyssey, Sam?" Cameron asked.
"Absolutely. We - Dr. Lee and I - were working on fully amalgamating the Asgard hyperdrive with the Odyssey's own. As we're 'parked' in geosynchronous orbit over the mountain, Colonel Davidson was the only person on the bridge so far as I'm aware anyway."
"And he's certainly not noted for his sense of humor," Mitchell commented drily.
"No, he's not," Landry agreed. "We seem to have a situation on our hands, people."
As he finished speaking, the klaxon sounded along with the announcement of an unscheduled off-world activation.
"What now?" Landry exclaimed, hot-footing it into the Control Room, closely followed by S.G.-1. There was no G.D.O. code, so Sergeant Davis closed the iris as a squad of S.F.s ran into the 'Gate Room, weapons pointing at the 'Gate. The mounting tension increased as the titanium/trinium iris began to shimmer and seemed to merge with the event horizon.
"What the devil...?!" Landry exclaimed.
"Whatever it is, General," Daniel murmured, "it's a lot more powerful than we are, so I suggest you tell the men to lower their weapons."
Landry shot him a speculative look. Dr. Jackson was usually right about these things. He nodded agreement and gave the order.
A few seconds later, Lya of the Nox stepped gracefully through the 'Gate. It shut down immediately. She looked up to the Control Room window and did her dainty hands-clasped-little-bow thing, then waited for S.G.-1 to come down to meet her.
Daniel led the way, closely followed the rest of the team and finally General Landry.
"Lya," he said with a delighted smile. "It's so good to see you again."
"It is good to see you, too, friend Daniel," Lya smiled back.
"To what do we owe this pleasure?"
"I bring an invitation to you and your friends in S.G.-1. You will come to Delos tomorrow morning. It is most important."
"Delos?" Daniel asked, a little puzzled. He was pretty sure she wasn't referring to the Greek island in the Cyclades.
Lya gave him a gentle understanding smile. "It is in the Enastros Patrida galaxy. It is unknown to you?"
"Yes, it is."
Lya gave him a small, pearly rectangle inscribed with eight glyphs which Daniel recognized as a 'Gate address on a very distant planet.
"Thank you, Lya. Unfortunately, at the moment, we have - ah - a bit of a problem right now and we might not be able to visit Delos that soon."
"It is essential that S.G.-1 attend," Lya said, with as much forcefulness as a Nox could muster, "and you must bring no weapons with you."
"Yes, of course, Lya, but you don't understand. General O'Neill Jack has... well, we don't know what's happened to him. He just disappeared - kidnaped maybe... He may be in grave danger - and we have to channel all our efforts into finding him before we get involved in anything else. You have to see that...?"
"It is of paramount importance that you attend, Daniel - on time and unarmed." She raised a hand to silence Daniel as he was about speak again, and smiled sweetly. "Do not be concerned about O'Neill. He is in no danger."
With that, she gave her hands-clasped-little-bow, set up a stable wormhole and was gone.
"Daniel?" Landry gave him a concerned look. He'd left the negotiations to Daniel as he seemed to know their visitor. "Any idea what's going on?"
"Something pretty big by the sound of it."
"And that lady - Lya? - she's holding General O'Neill?"
"Oh, I doubt it. It's not the Nox way. She obviously knows who took him, though, and probably where he is right now, so I think it's safe to say he's okay."
"So, what am I going to tell the Pentagon? One of our generals is missing?"
"Oh, I don't think you need worry, sir," Sam smiled. "They must be used to weird sh stuff... um, unusual things happening around the S.G.C. And anyway, Lt. Colonel Davis is used to covering for us," she concluded brightly, then bit her lip. "Oops?"
Landry gave her an amused smile. "Thank you for the heads-up. Good to know whom we can trust to watch our backs."
"Yes, sir," Sam responded looking relieved. "Now, as we'll need to set up an intergalactic wormhole, I've some work to do. I'll have to upgrade the 'Gate's power source. Thanks to the Asgard, we now have that capability."
She suddenly looked very sad. "I really miss Thor..."
The following morning, bright and early, S.G.-1 joined General Landry in the Briefing Room where Daniel was to give a short presentation about Delos.
"Delos on Earth," he began, "is a small island, south-west of Mykonos in the Cyclades. It's chief claim to fame was as the birthplace of the twins, Artemis and Apollo - or more properly, Apollon. From the sixth century B.C.E. onwards, it grew as a cult center for Apollon."
"Cult center, Daniel?" Sam asked. She looked at Teal'c. "They... they couldn't be goa'uld, could they?"
"I am not aware of any such goa'uld, but it is not impossible," Teal'c replied, looking thoughtful.
"I agree that it is possible, but if so, then I think that either they were wiped out by other System Lords or maybe migrated to another galaxy," Daniel said.
"And we're going to another galaxy..." Cameron prompted.
"Yes we are," Daniel agreed, "and it's as well to be aware of potential threats. However, I don't think they will be a problem, even if they are hitherto unknown goa'uld. We have to consider the bigger picture here. Our previous encounters with Greek derived cultures have involved the advanced races. Heliopolis - which wasn't on the Abydos list of 'Gate addresses, incidentally - was a meeting place for the four races of the Alliance. Atlantis is mentioned in Greek writings. The Nox were originally Greek. "
"Really?" Sam exclaimed.
"Yes. The name derives from the Greek goddess, Nyx."
"Could not Artemis and Apollon also belong to the Nox, Daniel Jackson?"
"It's possible," he conceded. "Maybe we'll find out when we get to Delos..."
Shortly before 0930, Daniel arrived in the 'Gate Room, unusually awake for the time of day. This mission was dear to his heart. Even the absence of Jack wasn't enough to put a damper on his mood. S.G.-1 had been going through the 'Gate - not nearly often enough for his liking - for a couple of years now without Jack's presence.
Early as he was, Landry was there before him. He wasn't General Hammond but he knew how to look after his people. Daniel still missed George though.
"All set, Daniel?" Landry enquired with a benign smile.
"Yes sir. It certainly speeds things up when you don't have to take weaponswhatamIsaying?!" Daniel exclaimed as the rest of the team trooped in carrying their usual kit. "What part of 'bring no weapons' do you not get? Or are you all on autopilot?"
"Steady on, Jackson," Cameron said, unconsciously taking a step backward in the face of the verbal onslaught. "We never go unarmed into an unknown situation."
"Well, this time, we do. Besides, trust me, it not an entirely unknown situation. If Lya says no weapons, then taking weapons may be positively dangerous."
"Told ya," Sam muttered in Cameron's ear.
"Indeed," Teal'c chimed in with a slightly sanctimonious expression.
Cameron looked to Landry, hoping for back-up but it didn't come. "Okay, you heard what the doctor ordered," he sighed and checked his P90 and Beretta to a nearby S.F. The rest of his team followed suit.
"Knife too," Daniel said, getting a dirty look as Cameron complied. "And your stash of C4..."
"Okay, let's go," Colonel Mitchell growled.
"Oh, I don't think so," Daniel said, fixing a steely glare on Vala. "I know you too well! Though not Biblically," he added as Cameron smothered a chuckle with a cough.
Teal'c, finding something very interesting up above, didn't meet his eye. Oh, god, I hope not! he thought. Sam, oblivious, was checking her chronometer.
"What?" Vala asked, all wide-eyed.
"Don't play the innocent," Daniel snapped. "It won't wash. Hand 'em over, or stay here."
"Oh, you're no fun any more," she complained, removing several gizmos from various places about her person. She gave them to General Landry with what she hoped was an engaging smile. "You'll look after them, won't you? They're of great sentimental value."
"And the rest," Daniel insisted. Vala looked affronted for a few moments, but as Daniel's face took on a mulish look, she capitulated, producing two small daggers and something unidentifiable. Daniel's severe expression didn't waver.
"Mexican stand-off?" Cameron murmured to Sam, quite enjoying the show-down. "My money's on Vala."
"You're on. Ten dollars?"
Finally, Vala reached into her bra and pulled out a small phial of clear liquid. "Be very careful not to drop it," she said, handing it over to Landry.
"Done now?" Daniel asked with heavy sarcasm.
Vala sighed and nodded. Behind them, money changed hands.
Shortly after, the 'Gate sprang into life, doing that spinning-clunking-kawooshing thing that would never get old so far as Daniel was concerned. It was almost like the very first time all over again in view of the fact that they would be traveling out of their own little neck of the universe and across the cosmic void
"Another day, another galaxy," Cameron chanted. His blasé attitude rather spoilt the moment, Daniel thought, and then they were all on their way up the ramp and through the event horizon.
The five found themselves in a circular room with a domed ceiling a rotunda, Greek in style. The surrounding wall was divided into eight sections by white painted pilasters. Between the pilasters, the wall itself was decorated with frescoes of stylized flora in sage green on pale yellow ochre, except for a rectangular opening in one section which led to the outside.
The ceiling was painted white and showed signs of wear. The floor was covered in a circular design in small terracotta tiles - and a layer of grit, dust and small pieces of broken stone. There were footprints between the entry and the 'Gate.
The Stargate, which was of similar design to the 'Gate on Atlantis, faced the entry and was set close to the back. Half-way between the 'Gate and the entry, just beyond reach of the 'Gate's initial surge, stood two white marble statues. They were naked young men about ten feet tall, and missing various bits of their anatomy.
"Kouroi" Daniel commented, in case anyone was interested. They weren't. "They're believed to represent Apollon," he went on, faint but pursuing.
Between the two kouroi stood something shaped like a lectern made of some sort of transparent material. On the sloping panel on top, was a triangular multicolored grid with a glyph in each section.
"Very fancy D.H.D.," Vala commented. "You'd think that an advanced race that uses such smart kit would have some means of keeping the place tidy, wouldn't you?"
As she finished speaking, the air began to circulate around their feet, picking up speed and the detritus on the floor along with it.
"Well, that's no ordinary dust devil," Cameron said as the debris was flung outside in a long dusty stream. He was regretting leaving all his weapons behind already.
"Er, thank you!" Vala called to the empty air. She shot a worried look at Daniel and got a significant one in return.
"I think they're just letting us know they know we're here," he said, adding severely, "Now, aren't you glad I made you leave all your little toys behind?"
She looked a little shifty.
"Oh, please tell me you didn't hang on to any?"
"All right, Daniel, I didn't hang on to any," she said with suspicious obedience. When Daniel looked skeptical, she added earnestly, "Really."
"Okay?" Vala looked surprised.
"Okay, I believe you."
"Thank you," she smiled.
"Let's go, folks," Cameron broke in, taking point and leading them out on to the circular perron.
Fluted Ionic columns supporting the dome looked like they needed some repair as several had serious cracks in them. The view was quite spectacular. The rotunda was built at the lowest, narrowest part of a teardrop-shaped island. This was covered in semi-tropical greenery and exotic flowering plants. It was near the center of a large lake which was encircled by steep hills also clad in lush vegetation.
On the highest, widest part of the island was a large rectangular Greek-style building. A flight of shallow stone steps, wide enough for three to walk abreast, led up to it from the rotunda. It seemed likely that this was their destination and looked like a half-hour's walk to the top.
It was a pleasant day for a walk - blue sky softened by a faint mistiness, mirror-calm waters, flowers scenting the air and attracting butterflies, birds singing a good-to-be-alive day.
Cameron, looking around as they set off, gradually slowed down and called a halt.
"What's the matter," Sam asked.
"Ya know, this looks rather disturbingly like Crater Lake in Oregon - apart from all the greenery and stuff. Do you reckon we're in a flooded volcano? And if so, are we safe?"
"Hey, don't look at me. I'm not a vulcanologist."
"Nooo, but you're a scientist."
"Yes. I'm a theoretical astrophysicist. I'm also a military officer. Doesn't mean I know how to drive a battle tank."
"Well no. You're in the Air Force. We don't have battle tanks."
"There was a program on the Discovery Channel " Daniel began.
"Oh, why are we not surprised," Vala groaned.
"about super volcanos. They leave behind a large caldera, like Crater Lake. There's one in Indonesia - Lake Toba - that's over sixty miles long." Daniel was gratified by the stunned silence.
"So... if this is the caldera of a super volcano" Cameron began.
"Oh, I don't think this is all that big, and they don't go off very often."
"So we're safe then?" As Cameron spoke, the ground beneath them shuddered. "Okay, not so safe."
"Oh I don't know," Sam said. "I had a holiday in Japan once and they have regular earth tremors. That's why they don't have piles of crockery on display in shops. This is probably nothing to worry about."
"And yet," Teal'c mused, "if there was less plant life here, would another eruption be less likely?"
"How so?" Cameron asked.
"If eruptions are rare events, then would not a lack of vegetation indicate that the last eruption was fairly recent?"
"And well-established flora means the next one is closer? We'd better not hang around then." Cameron set off again at the double.
A narrow flagged footpath, some hundred yards long, led to from the top of the stairway to the larger building. Encroaching bushes necessitated that they walk in single file. Cameron reached the top step of the perron first. He leaned against one of the tall columns of the colonnaded portico, waiting for the rest to emerge from the shrubbery. Daniel was tagging along at the back of the line, looking around as he walked. He was looking - well, almost baffled.
"What's the matter, Jackson?" Cameron said.
"Er... I don't know. It's... probably nothing."
"What's probably nothing?" Sam asked sharply. She knew Daniel well enough by now to know that if he was concerned about something - had a hunch, or something - it probably wasn't a good idea to ignore it.
"I just... I just have this... feeling... that I've been here before..."
"It's called déjà-vu, Daniel," Cameron responded, less familiar with the way Daniel could pick up on things for which there were no obvious grounds, and keen to press on.
Daniel frowned then waved a hand as if batting away an irritating fly. "Yeah," he agreed, adding sotto voce, "Of course, it doesn't mean I haven't or somewhere very similar."
Cameron led S.G.-1 through the large square opening in the center of the front wall into an airy chamber with tall double doors in the center of the rear wall opposite the entrance and two small doors at opposite ends of the same wall.
"Ideas, Jackson?" Cameron said, all business-like.
"This is the Bouleuterion or Council House. The Cella, or inner sanctum is through those doors... Ah, probably..." he concluded, brushing aside an unsettling sense of familiarity, not just with the style of the building but this actual one.
"Well... if it... um, follows the standard design we're familiar with on Earth..." Daniel mumbled, sounding noncommital. He was saved from further explanation as the double doors opened and Lya came to greet them.
"Welcome, friends." she said with a warm smile. "And you have brought new friends?"
Daniel introduced Vala and Cameron.
"It gives us much pleasure to see you all. Please come with me."
S.G.-1 followed Lya into the circular main chamber. People were standing around in groups, chatting amicably. The first group to take the eye turned out to be the Furling delegation. This was partly because they were closest to the doorway, and partly because they were very tall, averaging nearly seven feet tall and thus obscuring the view of the room's other delegates.
Mostly, it was because, as Cameron remarked later, they looked as if they'd escaped from a Bollywood musical, clad in bright shiny colors. They smiled a lot too.
Lya introduced the two women as Rashmi and Angarika, and the men, Paramhansa, who was their senior delegate, Chandranath, Sunil and Gyandev,
To the left of the Furlings was the Nox contingent headed by Anteaus. There were two other Nox ladies, Elpida and Nyssa, who could have been Lya's sisters, and two other men, Hali and Eneas, who were both a little taller than Anteaus.
"Is Ohper not here?" Daniel asked.
"I am happy that you remember him," Anteaus smiled.
"Remember him?" Daniel asked, looking worried. "I remember him with fondness. He he is well, isn't he?"
Anteaus smiled at his concern. "Yes, he is well, but he is becoming increasingly frail and does not travel so much now."
"I see. Please give him our best wishes - Nafreyu, too," Daniel smiled as Lya led S.G.-1 to meet the Altera - the original ascended Ancients.
The Altera were tall, though not so tall as the Furlings, and seemed almost, but not quite, solid. They wore plain white robes somewhat akin to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Their leader, Sophos Lamphi welcomed their visitors with solemn formality, then presented his companions, Lilika Enastri, Kloë Filianthi Selenë Asemi, Hedyla Abri and Lukianos Hesperos.
Vala's eyes had glazed over after "Enastri" and Cameron zoned out after "Selenë." Only Daniel made it to the end. They all knew he would and that he'd remember them all.
As Sophos finished his introductions, Sam tensed and grabbed Daniel's arm. He turned to her and saw incredulity in her face. Following her eye line, his jaw dropped too. It wasn't just that Jack was already there and mingling, it was who he was mingling with.
"Would you excuse us, sir?" he said, hoping he wasn't committing a social gaffe, but he really wanted to get to the bottom of this.
Sophos' face relaxed into an amused smile. "Certainly Daniel."
Daniel, closely followed by Sam, skirted the large ring-shaped table in the center of the room. He rapidly bore down on his quarry who was facing away from him, stood behind him, and gave a significant cough.
"Care to introduce us to your new friends, Jack...?" Daniel asked with some sarcasm.
"Oh, certainly Daniel," Jack smiled, turning round then, and acknowledging the rest of the team with a nod. "I think you already know Thor, and Heimdall Freyr too? - and that's Vili, also of the Asgard High Council, talking to Aegir and Njord. Daniel, you're looking a little... tense."
"And you're surprised why exactly?"
"What, 'I don't write, I don't 'phone...'?"
"Something like that, "Daniel agreed mildly.
"Ya didn't get my message then?"
"Yeah..." Jack nodded.
"She said you were in no danger."
"Ah. Just the abstract, huh?"
"I was thinking more abstruse, actually."
"But... you knew I was safe, right?"
"I guess. Now, about these guys?" Daniel said, raising his eyebrows. "Not that we aren't overjoyed to see our Asgard friends - we are... very much so in fact - but 'As a race, we are dying. Very soon, we will all be gone...?' 'All the latest Asgard technology...entire recorded history...' Then, ka-boom...? What were you guys playing at?"
"I sense Daniel Jackson is displeased with us," Thor said, looking as guilty as an Asgard could look.
"Well you got that right! Sam was really upset and no, a hologram is not the same."
"Daniel," Sam said, pulling on his sleeve. "It's... it's all right, Thor. I'm not mad at you, but... Why?"
"I regret that it was necessary," Thor said bowing his head.
"Erm, could I point out that that doesn't actually answer the question?" Vala put in.
"It will all become clear soon," Freyr replied.
"Right..." Cameron sounded distinctly skeptical.
"And there's another thing..." Daniel continued, on a roll.
"See what I have to put up with?" Jack said to Thor. "The man will never give up when he has a bee in his bonnet."
Thor blinked. "Doctor Jackson is not wearing a bonnet, O'Neill."
Jack opened his mouth to explain, then sighed. "You'll have to talk to Teal'c about that one."
Thor blinked again.
"...Why did you abduct... er... collect just Jack? Why not all of us?" Daniel concluded.
"Ya just had to ask, didn'tcha?" Jack's face took on its constipated look.
Heimdall stepped forward. "When we - er - 'defrosted' O'Neill," he said with a sideways look at Jack, "Commander Thor requested that I create a chip which would enable the Asgard to locate O'Neill at need. Thor then implanted this in O'Neill's brain."
"And you're okay with that?" Daniel asked, astounded.
"Not... entirely," Thor said, forestalling O'Neill's indignant reply. "He has had much to say upon the subject in fact."
Daniel chuckled. "I can imagine!"
"So why the... er, masquerade of impending doom?" Cameron asked, picking up the baton.
"Ahh, it's a long story," Jack said.
"It would be."
"And it's partly true," Jack went on. "The Asgard health was severely compromised, but the Furlings were able to fix things You should talk to them, Carter. You might have a chance of understanding what they were talking about. Anyway, it made the Alliance realize that maybe they should consider a more belt and suspenders approach."
Sam nodded sagely. "Back-ups."
"So the Asgard proposed the Tau'ri as the official Fifth Race."
"Really?" Sam said, wide-eyed.
"But?" Daniel prompted.
"But the rest think we're still too young. They agree that we've made significant strides in the time since you opened the Stargate and we began swanning around the galaxy. Now, we have to prove ourselves worthy, and the Asgard legacy was the first test. They wanted to see if we'd be able to protect it."
"You took a bit of a risk there," Sam said. "We came very close to losing the whole thing!"
"But you did not, Colonel Carter," Thor said. "And, as you said, we have a number of... back-ups."
Teal'c suddenly looked as if he'd trapped his fingers in a vise. Sam understood the expression and gave him a sympathetic pat on the arm.
"It was necessary that you believed it was the only copy," Thor said, apologetically, "though we were rather surprised that Colonel Carter fell for the subterfuge."
"Right..." Sam said exchanging a pained look with Teal'c. "I'm beginning to see why you only picked up General O'Neill..."
At which point, Sophos called the meeting to order and they all took their seats around the table.
"Before we start," Sophos said as Lya came round with a tray bearing six small items which looked a little like earplugs, "I invite our Tau'ri guests to accept our gift of an antilepsemilia each. They translate any language you hear into your own language so that we may all have the comfort of speaking in our own tongue."
"Hope this isn't going to make me redundant," Daniel murmured as he took an antilepsemilia and placed it in his ear. He shivered as the thing seemed to melt and slither down his ear, tickling the tiny hairs there as it went.
Jack inhaled sharply. "I swear, if this thing meets up with the chip in my brain and they mate, I'm gonna"
"Shh," Daniel warned him as the rest of the Tau'ri went through various shocked reactions. The Furlings were near to pissing themselves laughing.
"Daniel, I'm getting a tad tired of being an advanced races' plaything," Jack muttered, scowling at the Furlings. "First I get my brain sucked, then I get implanted with a locator beacon and now I have some kind of slime rampaging around my brain."
"Can you feel it?"
"The antilepsemilia rampaging around your brain?"
Jack thought for a moment. "Well... no."
"Then... Son-na ni butarer' na yo. Omae kaset-to ningen jan."
"Daniel! I am not whining! Am I?"
"And being a pain in the ass?"
Daniel nodded again. "So you understood what I was saying then?"
"Well off course I did! What? Why...?" Jack tailed off as Daniel grinned broadly.
"Because I was speaking Japanese."
Sophos called for order then turned to the Tau'ri. "They are quite harmless," he reassured them. "We all have one. In a few minutes, you will forget that it exists."
Daniel thanked Sophos politely for the gift.
"Guess this explains how the Nox managed to 'learn' our language so rapidly. They could understand us all along!"
Lya and Anteaus exchanged an amused smile. Daniel lowered his voice and muttered, "At least you can't complain about our allies never sharing their technology. Be careful"
"What you wish for? Yeah right," Jack replied in acid tones. He dropped his voice to a whisper, "So this means I can't call you a chuisle mo chroí any more?"
"Yes you can," Daniel smiled, "just not in front of S.G.-1. Now hush."
"I believe we are all now aware of the reason for this meeting," Sophos was saying. "I would like to take this opportunity of formally offering to the Tau'ri the option of becoming the fifth member of the Alliance, dependent upon their demonstrating their willingness and worthiness of joining us. The four founding races have some reservations about the inclusion of such a young race, but the Tau'ri have shown great promise since they first stepped through their Stargate and we are prepared to give them the chance to prove themselves."
Sophos went on to detail, with examples, the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the Tau'ri. On the plus side, they had shown themselves to possess great ingenuity, a strong sense of justice, a desire to protect those weaker than themselves and to oppose those who sought to tyrannize the weak.
On the minus side, they tended to display the impatience of youth and an imperious belief that their ways were better than those of peoples they deemed inferior to themselves. Sam hung her head as Sophos cited her insistence on forcing her way through various protocols to get a lock on K'Tau, nearly destroying the planet's population to do so. The Alliance also censured General O'Neill for his attempt to destroy the non-human Gadmeer race. In relation to the Salish, the Tau'ri had shown themselves to be not entirely honest or trustworthy.
However, despite these and other lapses, the Alliance felt that the Tau'ri had learnt much from their off-world activities and deserved the opportunity to put their mistakes behind them and earn their place in the Alliance. Sophos then called upon General O'Neill to respond on behalf of his people. It was with some reluctance that Jack rose to his feet.
"First of all, sir, I am unable to speak for my country, much less the whole planet. I am not the leader of my people. That honor belongs to the President. Most of my fellow countrymen - and women - have no knowledge of the Stargate or of Stargate Command. It would be wrong of me to speak for them when I have no mandate to do so."
This was greeted with murmurs of approval. Sophos gave a benevolent smile. "Yet you have protected your people and your planet many times without their knowledge?"
Jack looked down and shuffled his feet. "I guess."
"And you are the leader of those Tau'ri who have ventured off your world?"
"Then who better to speak for your people?"
"Daniel" was Jack's instant and automatic reply.
"With respect, you are the leader. Daniel is your conscience." Sophos shot Daniel a fond, if slightly exasperated smile.
Jack registered the look. "He can be a bit of a pain in the ass, can't he, sir?"
"Let us say, he kept us on our toes..."
Daniel blushed, eliciting chuckles from the Furlings.
"I appreciate the vote of confidence, sir, but it is still the President and Congress who make the decisions in my country. Anything I say here can, and likely will, be vetoed."
"I understand that you have the confidence of your President?"
"At the moment, yes, but that can quickly change after the next elections."
"I don't think you need worry too much on that score," Sophos said. "I think they will have sufficient appreciation of the benefits and will be willing to make some concessions in the form of support for necessary off-world missions to protect or rescue developing worlds."
Jack seemed unconvinced.
"As the Asgard protected the Tau'ri from the Goa'uld," Sophos said significantly. "With great benefits come great responsibilities. We cannot take and not give."
"No sir. I appreciate that, sir." Jack looked uncomfortable.
"Then I am sure your President and Congress will come to the same conclusions. We will, of course, make available our archives here on Delos." Daniel's head shot up at that. He was practically salivating while beside him came a sotto voce comment, "just so long as I don't get my brain sucked again..."
Also on offer was scientific and technological assistance suitable to the Tau'ri level of competence from the Furlings. This had Sam looking as if her birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas had all come together.
"In conclusion, as we have rather sprung this on the Tau'ri delegation, I will waive their decision on the matter for six weeks in order for them to give the matter serious consideration," Sophos announced, then declared the meeting closed.
There followed something of a social gathering as other Altera came through the double doors opposite those S.G.-1 had entered by. They were bearing large trays of food and flagons of sparkling juices.
Sam shuddered at the sight of the brightly colored little food cubes supplied to the Asgard, then helped herself to a large slice of pizza.
"Mm," she mumbled through a delectable mouthful, "this tastes out of this world..."
"What is it?" asked Gyandev, the Furling in green.
"It's called pizza. Try some."
"It's - um - it's not like the Asgard food is it?" he asked, pulling a face.
Sam laughed. "Thankfully no."
He tried a piece and gave her a wide smile. "It is indeed... 'out of this world'!" He then proceeded to interest her in a scientific discussion that left her breathless and excited.
Meanwhile, Jack had been approached by the lightly bearded Chandranath. "We will be assisting you over the next few weeks," he said.
"Assisting?" Jack asked.
"We can help you in winning over your government," Chandranath replied, "and also with your commissions to help other worlds."
"Oh? We might have a little difficulty in maintaining the security of the base. You would certainly stand out from the crowd on Earth - well, except maybe on a basket ball court. It's a sport," he explained. "The players tend to be taller than average..."
"Oh, we are very good at blending in," Chandranath grinned, and rapidly changed into what might have been Daniel's twin brother. Or even Daniel himself. Jack nearly choked.
"Please," he coughed, "Would you not do that?"
"Sorry," Chandranath said, quickly changing back. "Did you not know we are shape-changers?"
"It's not that. It's just... when I'm... talking to Daniel, I want to know that it actually is Daniel."
"Ah, I see," the Furling said with a twinkling smile.
"Er, you do?" Jack asked looking worried.
"It is 'okay.' We can adapt our appearance either to a specific person or a generic form."
"That would be much better," Jack said, breathing more normally. "Don't you think it's a little - unethical - to go around looking like someone you're not?"
"Do not worry. When we change our appearance, we only do it with very good reason and not to take an unfair advantage of anyone. Though..." Chandranath lowered his voice conspiratorially and grinned broadly, "sometimes we do it just for fun."
"For fun? Right. I'll try to remember that..."
S.G.-1, along with Jack, walked back to the 'Gate in relative silence. The Alliance had given them much to think about and each settled into a reverie about the whole thing.
Jack was mulling over what could possibly be the chance of a lifetime and how on earth he was going to sell the deal to his superiors. Sam, feeling upbeat, had sparkling eyes in thoughts of the potential for scientific advances that the Furlings offered. Vala was enjoying the scenery and wondering what was in the whole deal for her.
Teal'c strode along in brooding silence as if under his own personal cloud of gloom. Cameron was concerned about the slight but regular ground tremors. Daniel was quietly seething about being dragged away from Delos without being given a chance to even take a look at the Alliance's archive.
After one significantly stronger tremor, he grumbled, "What is it about these so-called advanced races that makes them put their repositories of knowledge in geologically unsound places?"
"Don't worry, Daniel," Vala smiled brightly. "We know they keep back-ups What...?" she asked as Teal'c gave a deep growl beside her.
"We really did not want to be reminded of that," Sam grunted, wrenched out of her personal heaven.
"Why? That's a good thing, right? Back-ups?"
"Can it, Vala," Daniel said, adding, as she opened her mouth to continue the theme, "Sam's - well, we've all - been through fifty years of hell, confined in a metal box, marooned in space while Sam worked her way through the Asgard legacy when it turns out it wasn't strictly necessary."
"We don't know it was hell, Daniel."
"Oh, trust me, it was - would've been - hell."
"Yes but now, it never actually happened, so that's all right... isn't it?" Vala asked, suddenly wary as Teal'c drew a deep breath and stalked off ahead at the double.
"No. It's not all right. Teal'c's not only fifty years older than he was before the Asgard's little 'gift' to us, but he has all the memories of those fifty years of"
"Hell?" Vala asked in a small voice.
An echo of another place, another time, rippled through Daniel's mind like a lurking pike rising to the surface of particularly fetid lake.
"Going to have to do something about that," he murmured, though right now he had no idea what.