As J, Luc and Theo entered through the front of the house,
Falco and Daciana left by the back entrance and headed for the Capena Gate
where Helena's family lived.
As Daciana expected, the door porter denied them entry, but she
was ready for that. She planted a hand flat on his chest and barged in,
dragging Falco behind her. A stately young lady had just passed by on the way
to her room and turned back to see what was going on.
Daciana approached her. "Domina. You must be Helena
"And you are...?" Helena asked, looking haughty and
a little puzzled.
"A gift from your beloved Falco," Daciana grinned.
"I already have a maid."
"Oh, I'm not a replacement for Naissa." Daciana
plowed on regardless. "I'm your bodyguard."
"Bodyguard? I don't need a bodyguard!"
"Not here and not now, Domina, but you will, and I don't
want you to lose your baby."
"Ba You think I'm pregnant?" Helena's
voice went up an octave.
"I know you are, Domina. I also know who the father
is," Daciana smiled, letting her eyes drift towards Falco.
Falco sent an imploring look, first to Daciana, then to his
inamorata. Helena embarked on an eloquent tirade. When she finally ran out of
steam, Daciana took up her thread again.
"Domina, if this gift," she indicated herself,
"is not satisfactory, would you like me to turf this loutish oaf out on
Feeling a little left out, and against his better judgment,
Falco weighed in.
"She could probably do just that, and if you tell her to,
she almost certainly will!"
Helena looked from Daciana's smug expression to Falco's
sheepish one and cracked out laughing.
"I could teach you how to defend yourself," Daciana
"Won't that harm the" Falco and Helena began
as one, then exchanged a fond look.
"Probably not, but I was planning on a demonstration
anyway," Daciana said with a smile.
"I'm not going to enjoy this, am I?" Falco muttered.
"Hey, I didn't hurt you, did I?" Daciana asked,
looking mildly concerned. She had inflicted a little pain, but there was no way
he was going to admit it.
"Okay, come at me as if you were going to attack me with
your pugio," Daciana went on, and had him pose with his right arm raised
as if to strike.
"Your attacker will expect you to cringe, back away or
dodge," she explained to Helena. "This gives you an advantage when
you don't do what he expects."
"I don't back away?"
"No. You step forward and block his forearm with your
left forearm," Daciana commentated as she did so.
"Next, you reach behind his upper arm with your right arm
and grab your own left arm. Then you overbalance him by stepping forward and
pushing down hard."
"Ooof!" Falco hit the ground. Again.
"One more thing, Domina," Daciana said, releasing
Falco. "Don't go anywhere near your ex-husband's house on the
Quirinal for any reason whatsoever, or you will surely lose the
Falco decided it was time he returned to work at Pertinax's
house. "I'll leave you to school your new slave," he told Helena,
adding with a baleful look at Daciana and wagging a minatory finger at her,
"and you - behave yourself!"
"Sir! Yes sir!" she barked in English, giving him a
textbook perfect salute - longest way up; shortest way down.
Falco gave her a puzzled look, shrugged and took himself off,
muttering, "iacta alea est..."
Daciana found her new owner looking at her as if assessing
Falco's strange gift. She raised an eyebrow.
"Is your hair in two colors naturally?" Helena
"This is my natural color," Daciana replied,
pointing to her parting. "The dark part is hair dye."
"But why would you want to cover up your natural color? It
must look like burnished copper."
Daciana grimaced. "Well that's fine if you want to stand
out from the crowd, but my team and I were on a covert mission, so I wanted to
"A covert mission? That sounds exciting," Helena
"Sometimes my life can be exciting, yes. At the present
time, I was kidnaped near my apartment. Some very evil men want to get their
hands on a couple of powerful artefacts whose whereabouts are known only to me
and the two good - very good - people in whose care I left them. When I
wouldn't tell the bad guys where the artefacts are - denied all knowledge of
them in fact - they sold me at the slave market at the Agora."
"The Agora? In Greece?"
"We think there must be a Greek connection somewhere down
the line, but no. The next thing I tell you will be hard for you to
Daciana stopped as a sudden thought struck her. Where exactly
was the Agora? Not on Earth certainly, given the need for a Stargate. And then
there was the time travel element. She'd found physics fascinating, but at
school, her math had let her down.
Differential calculus was okay; it was reasonably logical.
Integral calculus on the other hand... It seemed like you had to be a magician
to conjure the final factor out of thin air! Maybe the Agora's planet was a
scientific anomaly - a nexus where many universes could safely interact...?
"Well go on," Helena demanded, poking her in the ribs
with a sharp finger.
Daciana shook her head and zoned back in. "Oh, er, where
"Somewhere I'm unlikely to believe..." Helena
"Ah, yes. I come from the future - around two thousand
years into the future."
Helena's jaw fell open.
"I did warn you that you wouldn't believe me,"
"No. You said it would be hard for me to believe - and it
is. But it doesn't sound like something you just made upon the spur of the
moment either. So how did you get here?"
"Initially through a Stargate, then Falco brought me here
using a Chronokinaton, or 'time machine'"
"Wait! Falco's been to the future?!"
Daciana giggled. "Yes, though I don't think he realized
Helena laughed too, then said, "Come to my room and tell
me all about your adventures."
"Well, I shouldn't really, as they're classified, but
what's a poor slave to do?"
"Exactly as she's told, of course," Helena grinned,
leading to way.
Daciana began by telling her mistress about her team, SG-24,
and how they traveled through their stargate to stargates on other planets.
This meant explaining what planets and stargates were. Then she moved on to
recount some of their actual missions: how they'd nearly lost J, then met Eneas
and the Contra-Bruxai; their visit to Persulis and how they'd over-turned the
tyrannical régime there, omitting the fact that she had personally
consigned two men to oblivion.
Instead, she went on to tell how they'd visited an apparently
primitive world, only to find that the 'natives' were modern young people
acting out adventures in their spare time just for fun.
Daciana didn't mention their run-in with the Warriors, and
Ash's 'near-death experience,' nor her supposed marriage to Ash to thwart
Kyros. Those were just way too close to home for comfort.
Instead, she moved on to their unscheduled trip to the Dignity
and meeting her crew, one of whom was Eneas' nephew. Next, Helena was highly
entertained by the tale of J the Samurai warrior.
By now, it felt like she'd been talking for hours and she was
very thirsty. However, her audience of one seemed fascinated by her escapades,
and didn't look inclined to take a break any time soon.
She sighed and said, "Right now, domina, I could kill for
some steaming hot coffee!"
Helena looked baffled. "What is 'coffee'?"
"It's a refreshing hot drink, made by pouring hot, but not
boiling, water on to ground coffee beans."
"Oh. I should like to try this coffee. Where do we get
coffee beans from?"
"We don't. Coffee won't reach Europe for about another
fifteen hundred years when Arabs will bring some coffee beans from Ethiopia to
trade in Venetian markets."
"Oh." Helena looked disappointed, then she sniffed
the air. "Can you smell that?" she asked.
"Yes. Yes, I can," Daciana said , sniffing and
looking around room the room suspiciously.
"Do you know what it is?"
"I certainly do! That, domina, is the smell of freshly
brewed coffee, which suggests that my great-great-grandfather is here!"
"Your great-great-grandfather? How is that
Daciana ignored her and growled - in Latin for Helen's benefit,
"You might share, rather than just tantalize, Grandfather!"
A disembodied voice responded on a whining note and in Latin,
"I'm not supposed to interfere..."
"We won't tell if you don't. Besides, what harm can it
do?" Daciana asked.
"Apart from giving some poor archaeologist of the future
a real headache when he finds coffee grounds in an ancient Roman spoil
"Oh, he'll just put it down to contemporary contamination
of the site. It'll be fine. So come on, Grandfather, be a sport..."
Daciana pleaded. "You never liked being deprived of your coffee either,
from what I've been told!"
There was a grunt and a profound sigh. "Oh, all
A mistily glowing, silvery-blue sphere appeared above a small
table between the two women. Within the light, ghostly hands could be seen
carefully placing an equally ghostly silver tray with two steaming mugs of
coffee on it, on to the table. Unlike Daniel, these rapidly coalesced into
"Cheers! Thanks, Grandfather!" Daciana said, raising
one of the mugs in the air as Helena picked up the other.
Her mistress first inhaled its delectable aroma, closing her
eyes as she did so and murmuring appreciatively. Next, Helena took a delicate
sip and let it swirl around her mouth. She took another mouthful then said,
Somewhere nearby, someone snorted then chuckled. Daciana
thought it sounded like Jack O'Neill.
Then a voice - definitely Jack's - said, "Oh
Daniel! What have you started?!"
Helena looked around, startled, and seeing no one asked,
"Is that another of your ghosts?"
"Sort of," Daciana nodded. "Do you like your
"Like it? I love it! It's divine and I want
"Unfortunately..." Daciana began, then slapped her
forehead, exclaiming, "and I'm stupid. Of course we can get more
coffee! They're bound to sell it at the Agora. They sell pretty much anything
Helena gasped. "Travel into the future?"
"Yes. Why not?"
"Is it safe?"
"Is anywhere safe, Domina?"
Helena seemed to be thinking it over, so Daciana reassured her.
"The authorities don't allow weapons at the Agora. Those have to be handed
in at the entrance, then you reclaim them as you leave."
"What about money?" asked Helena, the ever
Daciana explained the financial system.
"Oh. All right. Let's go to market then," her
mistress said, standing up. "I'll just leave a message for mother and
collect something to use for funds, then we'll be off."
Her wayward slave hoped she could find her way back to the
Meanwhile SG-24 had entered Pertinax's mansion where they were
stopped by Momus along with Anacrites, Vespasian's chief spy.
"Desisite!" Anacrites growled, "et mihi dicite
J raised his eyebrows and looked at Luc. "I think he told
us to stop and tell him who we are," Luc responded and gleaned a glare
"Noi cerchiamo Daciana e Falco," Luc tried and was
pleased to see a flicker of recognition at the name of Falco. Maybe this Falco
was a member of the upper class?
Anacrites and Momus conferred quickly, then Momus beckoned them
to follow him to the back of the mansion. There they drew a blank. It was
apparent that Daciana had covered the skimpy attire which Theo had first seen
The up-side was that it was probably less revealing, which
reflected well on Falco. The down-side was that they had no idea what she might
be wearing now.
Momus was still keeping an eye on them, but they didn't fancy
their chances of getting any information out of him. They were thinking of
giving up and moving on when Falco arrived to carry on with his work at
Pertinax's house. Anacrites told him about the visitors and sent him to see
what they were up to - and to get rid of them.
As soon as he entered the back room, Theo recognized him as
Daciana's companion whom he'd seen through the bug glasses.
Falco, much disconcerted, nodded. "Amici Dacianae
J lurked behind Luc, looking menacing.
"Daciana. Dove é lei?" Luc demanded, also
looking menacing. Momus decided to leave Falco to it and quietly sneaked away.
Falco decided to play dumb and shrugged.
Theo wasn't buying it. He might not speak or understand Latin,
but felt he could get his point across without. He stepped in front of Luc and
stabbed a finger into Falco's chest.
"You!!" he barked. "Take. Us.
" - he indicated the three of them - "To. Da-ci-a-na.
J leaned around Theo with raised finger and added,
Falco sighed, wondering what other odd things were going to
happen that day, and how Helena was going to react, given it seemed likely she
was going to lose her new slave. Make that, serva nova difficilis. To whom
Helena seemed to have taken a liking.
"Statim," he muttered and gestured for them to follow
Daciana managed to find her way back to the warehouse with
little difficulty. Just as when she'd anticipated running away to Aunt Claire's
house all those years ago, she'd made a mental note of significant landmarks en
route. Then there were the signs she'd left for her team.
She wondered where they were and what they were doing; didn't
think they'd find her here. Still, she seemed to have landed on her feet. So
Then there was Grandfather Daniel, though she didn't think he'd
interfere to the extent of playing 'deus ex machina' for her. She really hoped
not. It wasn't like she was totally out of options - not just yet anyway - and
she didn't want him to bring trouble on himself for her sake.
With Helena at her stateliest, there was no trouble gaining
admittance to "my warehouse." They went through to the back room
where Daciana perused the instructions for use of the Chronokinaton. As she had
surmised, it was fairly straightforward. With Helena sitting on her lap,
Daciana activated the machine, explaining what she was doing so that Helena
would be able to use it herself if she wished.
Very soon, having given their names and home date to the woman
on the desk, they were strolling around the Agora. First they found a 'bureau
de change' where Helena swapped her Roman coins for Agora gold pieces. Then
Daciana bartered a good deal for the sale of a number of pieces of jewelry that
Helena had never really liked.
Their next port of call was a coffee bar. Daciana ordered two
coffees for which Helena happily paid. While their drinks were being freshly
prepared, Daciana asked for directions to stalls which sold both ground coffee
and cafetières, or coffee presses, to brew it in.
Helena was in seventh heaven, investigating sacks of coffee
beans from places she'd never even heard of: Java and Santos, Sumatran, Pico
Duarte, Monsoon Malabar, Jamaican Blue Mountain, Colombian, Kenya Peaberry,
Mocha, Guatemala Elephant whose large beans looked like elephants' ears, Kopi
Luwak from Indonesia, Old Brown Persulian and several that Daciana had never
heard of. Presumably these had come from other worlds.
Helena decided against the Kopi Luwak on being told that it had
passed through the innards of a civet cat.
Daciana laughed. "It's quite safe, but the flavor isn't
all that strong."
"You've actually drunk some?" Helena looked
"Yes, but I only ever bought one packet as it's very
expensive, all things considered. It was rather disappointing in fact."
Helena selected small quantities of half a dozen different
varieties. Daciana had the stall holder grind them for her, then pack them in
hermetically sealed packets, clearly labeled. Added to these were one large
cafetière, two small ones and a hand-operated coffee grinder.
Again, Daciana's guile, with Helena looking on haughtily from
behind her, secured a fair deal for the goods. Helena was having a great time
and was disinclined to return to Roma immediately. The pair therefore spent the
afternoon wandering around the Agora, sightseeing and window-shopping.
Naturally, it didn't end there. Helena bought a new bucket
which she knew Falco's mother wanted, and some spoons which Falco needed.
Daciana was stuck with the task of carrying all Helena's purchases of course,
but at least the bucket came in useful for carrying everything else in.
Finally, Helena decided it was time to go. They would stop at
that coffee bar for another drink on their way back to the chronokinaton
When Falco and SG-24 arrived at Helena's home by the Capena
Gate, it seemed they'd drawn a blank. The door porter took one look at Falco
and was initially inclined to deny them entrance. He recalled Falco's previous
visit with the new female slave who'd nearly knocked him off his feet.
Now, Falco was back with three tall - very tall and powerfully
built - men. He let them in.
Falco asked to see Helena.
"Domina Helena non hic est. Illa Dacianaque mercaturam
"What?" Theo demanded.
"They've gone shopping," said a voice close to his
At this point, Helena's maid, Naissa came through, carrying a
silver tray with two modern-looking mugs on it. A distinctive odour made Theo
take one of the mugs from the tray as she passed him.
He inspected the mug and the remains within it. "I think I
know where they are," he said. "The Agora."
Luc gasped, looking horrified. "You mean this Helena's
taken her back there to sell her again?" he asked, his voice catching in
"No, I think they've gone to buy coffee."
"What?!" J exclaimed, dumbfounded.
"Well these two mugs once contained coffee."
"And...?" J scowled, unable to see the logic behind
"And the Romans didn't know anything about coffee, so I'm
told. Though I suspect one of them does now..."
The door porter had been having a bad day; it was about to get
worse. A voice behind him said, "Ohh, Daa-niel... Time to 'fess up
He looked over his shoulder, found no one there, and gave a
terrified shriek. He ran out of the door and up the street still screaming.
Falco's face had Schadenfreude written all over it.
"Um, Grandfather...?" Theo prompted.
"Oh all right. But I wasn't interfering." Daniel
sounded defensive and remained incorporeal. "I was just keeping an eye on
Maxine. Erm, 'Daciana.'" he added for Falco's benefit. "I was
enjoying a mug of coffee and she could smell it; they both could. Eventually, I
gave in to Maxine's blandishments and provided each of them with a mug of
coffee. Helena seemed to take a liking to it"
"Seemed to take a liking to it?! She had a full blown
Homer Simpson moment there! And I quote: 'Mmmmmm, co-ffeeee...'"
"Thank you for your contribution, Jack," Daniel said,
sounding anything but grateful. "So then Helena wanted more coffee. It
didn't take Maxine long to realize that, while you can't buy coffee in Roma,
you can probably buy it at the Agora."
"Oh great!" J exclaimed. "So now we have to
find two women in an intergalactic marketplace!"
"Don't exaggerate Jefferson," Daniel
muttered. "You're only looking for two sets: the set of females, which
probably reduces the search by at least a half, and the set of outlets selling
coffee, which will reduce the search far more."
"And are you coming with us to help?" J asked.
"I'm coming with, yes, but only to translate for Falco.
I'm not interfering."
"Much Ouch! What was that for?"
"You have to ask? Jim..."
"Right," Daniel said. "Heus, Falco, ad mercium
receptaculorum duc, si places."
Falco sighed then gestured for the rest to follow him. He led
the visitors back to the warehouse as requested by the polite but ghostly
As they arrived, there was the clank of chains and the screech
of an ill-fitting gate scraping along the ground. Falco and the Americans
pressed themselves back against the wall as someone wearing a hooded cloak of
an unmistakable green looked out into the alley.
"Barnabas!" Falco exclaimed, running towards him.
The other man pulled out a pugio and lunged towards him. Falco
dodged, blocked and dumped the attacker on the ground. The Americans applauded
"I think we know who he learned that move from," J
"Whom," came Jack's voice.
"Whatever," J said.
Daniel translated as he continued, "She dumped me on my
ass the first time we met too." Falco laughed then noticed that Barnabas
had taken the opportunity to sneak away, except...
"Sed non Barnaban erat," he muttered to himself,
shaking his head and leading the rest to the chronokinaton.
At the Agora, Falco handed in his weapons as they gave their
details to the desk clerk. She confirmed that Helena and Daciana were still at
As they walked away, Theo pulled his bug glasses out of his
"I wouldn't do that," Daniel's voice warned.
"You really don't want to be arrested as a spy. Worse than being taken as
"Much worse," Jack agreed.
"Oh great!" J grouched. "I mean, look at the
size of this place! We could still be searching at Christmas!"
"Christmas next year..." Theo added.
Whether Daniel - or Jack - was interfering was not obvious, but
a couple of hours later, they arrived at the stall where the two women had
bought Helena's coffee and equipment.
The stall holder recognized their descriptions, but couldn't
otherwise help. He was very apologetic about this, presumably hoping for their
custom. Oh, on second thoughts, they'd come from that direction - he pointed -
and might have gone back that way. They thanked him and set off back the way
Mistress and slave were enjoying yet another mug of coffee.
Helena's eyes opened wide as she looked over Daciana's shoulder.
"Falco!" she exclaimed.
"Yes, Fruit, time to go home," he smiled.
"You, too, Maxine," J said, as his linguist's head
whipped round in disbelief.
"What? You've bought me back from Falco?"
"No. You were never truly for sale."
"But" she protested, "Falco paid good
money for me. It's hardly fair that he should lose out. I mean, you did bring
some money with you. Didn't you?"
"Give!" she said, holding a hand out. J handed over
his money pouch. Maxine delved around and came up with a twenty Agp gold coin,
then returned the pouch.
She grabbed Falco's hand and pressed the coin into it. He
looked at the coin and gasped.
"Sed est non" he began.
"Falco, nihil dic!" she ordered.
Falco looked at the ex-slave and back at his hand, and smiled.
"Tibi gratias do," he said softly.
"All right, now let's all go home," J said as Luc and
Theo both gave Maxine hugs.
"Oh, we can't go back home yet!" Maxine objected.
"What now?"J growled.
"We have to go back to Roma so I can teach Helena - or
rather, Helena's maid - how to make coffee. Obviously."
"Obviously," J groaned.