Summary: While Daniel's other passion is still knowledge, Jack's terrified that it's going to hurt him again. However, as they work on their theories a 'small' hitch gets in their way.
Many thanks, as ever, to Alph for correcting me and keeping me on the right track.
"Jack, before you say 'no' to this permanently, think about it," Daniel urges. Again. "We need as much information as possible."
"We have it. Zeus is a maniac. What more do you need to know?!"
Jack, I think, understands Daniel's desire for more knowledge. I think he gets that there's a real urgency that we acquire it too - and possibly by any means necessary.
However, he's terrified. How many times has Daniel died or nearly died? Too many to count. And after yesterday's incident, he's scared he's going to lose him again.
"You are not going to see Pan!"
"No, not unless it's absolutely essential," Daniel agrees. Sort of. "Besides, it would be the naiad I'd want to see. I have no intention of setting er, eyes on Pan again."
You know, I think I was right. They didn't tell us everything that went on on that world. Yes, we heard about the naiad and the prophesy, and frankly that was enough to scare the living daylights out of any sane person, but they didn't give us all the details. I'm not sure I want them.
If I was convinced then, I'm even more convinced now that something else happened, rather than was just said or seen in their minds - and it's something they don't want to talk about. Daniel's face when he said he didn't want to see Pan again was convincing in and of itself. He's too scared of the thought, and I don't need empathy to figure that out.
"But I must go to see Nem, Jack."
"Why must you? Do you have another reason to seek this knowledge, Daniel?" Teal'c asks, far more calmly than Jack's managed so far.
Suddenly, I see a look on Daniel's face which tells me that he's been thinking. Well, duh, Sam, of course he's been thinking. It's what he's been thinking about that's the thing. And I wouldn't mind betting that he's figured something out - something we're not going to like one little bit.
He sighs, stands up, moves from the table and heads into the living room where we see him flop onto a sofa. I look at the others and see Jack shrug, so we follow him in there.
"You're at it again, aren't you?" Jack asks in the most resigned 'we're in such deep shit' voice I've ever heard.
Which takes some doing.
Daniel shrugs, tries to smile and fails, then shakes his head as if in disbelief.
"Danny? Come on, out with it. Whether you're right or not it's obviously going to have to be investigated."
"I'm afraid it is. It only struck me this morning when I was going over the papers, though why it came to me then I don't know. I can't find a connection, so perhaps it's just my weird brain doing its thing again," he offers.
Before Jack can answer he turns directly to him and speaks.
"Remember we had that discussion about Hitler or Himmler being the possible host at that point in time?"
"Sure. You reckoned it would be Himmler 'cause he'd have wanted to get his hands on the writings from the Buddhists."
"And that reasoning still stands," Daniel agrees. "But what little we've really learned about Zeus - and let's be honest here, all we've learned is that he's vicious, evil, able to make use of the Ancients' writings, and probably in a way that no other Goa'uld could..."
"Why?" I interrupt, er, ask. "You said they'd all be after the writings."
"But Oma was only afraid of Zeus. Not of the others. So that would suggest that only Zeus was able to use them; at least to the extent where he could frighten the Ancients."
"Okay, so what was it you were saying?" I ask in an attempt to get him back to his point.
"Well, one of his likely characteristics is the usual Goa'uld ego. Only in his case, it's going to be on steroids. True megalomania, a belief that only he is the 'true god' or whatever.
"And that was a characteristic of Hitler, not Himmler, who was in truth little more than Hitler's devoted puppy - not a characteristic of an all-powerful Goa'uld, is it? You see, the more I think of it, the more I'm convinced that he'd want to be in the position of most power.
"Himmler was one of the 'minds', if you can call it that, behind the 'final solution', but you can be absolutely certain that Hitler knew every little detail regarding it. Not only that, he was more than happy about the results."
He laughs, but without humour, and he shakes his head as in disbelief. I get how he's feeling. It's a time in human history which beggars belief.
Yes, we know how things ended up that way. We know how the end of World War I - the war to end all wars! - was the starting point for all of the atrocious horrors to come. We can even see how it was so easy for a lost people to be beguiled by a great orator. But we still can't believe that anyone could do such things even knowing that they were done.
Now Daniel sighs and drops his head in his hands before tilting it up to look at us and says, "You know, when Hitler finally rose to ultimate power and the people noticed bad things start to happen, there was a phrase 'If only the Führer knew...', meaning that the people didn't think that Hitler had a clue what was being done in his name! If that doesn't show how good he was at hiding his true personality, I don't know what would."
"Surely some of the people saw through his charade?" Teal'c demands.
"Absolutely. And some of them tried to stop him. There were numerous attempts on his life over the course of his rule; some by individuals and some by high-ranking military men in various conspiracies. But in the manner of a Goa'uld, he was never more than slightly injured by those that even got close to killing him, and managed to be in the right place at the wrong time, or the other way around, to avoid most of them.
"Every attempt at his life seemed to reinforce Hitler's belief that he was immortal, unable to be killed by anyone, no matter how they tried. He was even documented as saying that each attempt proved that he had been chosen by God to do his job! Needless to say, each potential assassin was horribly murdered, usually after gruesome torture. Not that any torture isn't gruesome, but you know what I mean."
Unfortunately, we do.
"All of those who so much as spoke out, even right at the beginning of his power, ended up 'disappearing'. It didn't take too long before the people, probably out of an in-built sense of self-preservation, turned a blind eye or pretended to themselves that it wasn't happening. It was either that or they, too, would end up dead and they knew it.
"Some continued to speak out until the Nazis had total power, when their ability to speak was viciously curtailed. Hundreds, probably thousands if not more, of ordinary citizens who didn't agree with Nazism ended up in concentration camps. So there came a time when no matter how much the people might have hated him, and there is good evidence to show that a lot of people did hate him, they kept their mouths firmly shut, both to protect themselves and their families.
"There was an organised resistance movement within Germany itself, not to mention the others in the various occupied countries. Some incredibly brave souls stuck it out, even hiding Jews and other 'marked' groups, knowing that if they were caught - and there was a good chance they would be - they and their families would die. But they continued because they knew it to be the right thing to do."
He sits back and sighs again.
"Lots of people, after the war, blamed the whole nation for the evils of that time. Yes, many could and should have done more; the army could have revolted, the people could have overthrown him early on... But as I said, he was good at hiding his true intentions until it was too late.
"I also doubt that many even believed that he'd actually act on some of the racist things in his policies, basically because it was just too... absurd, I guess. I mean, who'd do such a thing? It's one thing to say it, it's another thing entirely to actually carry it out.
"Not to mention that the mass killings didn't start until after he'd been in power for a while, by which time it was too late for the decent people to complain. I think that the majority of people thought that at worst, he'd expel the Jews from Germany, as happened for a 'lucky' few thousand early on. Expulsion was bad enough in and of itself, but - at least if things went well - it was not fatal and so that made it easier to accept as a concept.
"There had even been talk about sending Jews to a new homeland, which would be seen as a 'good thing' by those who didn't know what was really going on and didn't really comprehend the magnitude of suffering that even exile would cause. So a lot of people were caught out by it. And not enough credit has been given to those who did see through it all and stood against him."
I have a feeling I'm not going to like where Daniel's mind it taking us now. And what's worse is that I know I'm going to end up agreeing with him. Dammit. He takes a breath and gets back on track.
"Like I said, Zeus, from what we can tell, is an absolute megalomaniac. The worst we could imagine. Just like Hitler. Himmler, on the other hand, was plain nuts. Those expeditions he sent out? Some of them were to Greenland to look for Atlantis, for crying out loud!
"It's more than repulsive how his insanity ended up killing so many innocents, but when it came down to it, insanity is the only explanation for his often peculiar behaviour. That, or possession by an equally insane snake. Or, quite possibly, both.
"Back to Hitler. His early days show us a man, a human, who while delusional to a point, under normal circumstances wouldn't have ended up being more than the crazy man who shouts political garbage from a soapbox - and God knows there are enough of them anywhere you look. They've been everywhere and everywhen, so to speak, and the vast majority stay that way. So, how did this one particular maniac end up being so powerful?
"Look at his beginnings. A failed artist in Vienna, he ended up as a house painter. There's some evidence to show he might well have been a prostitute at that time, too. Then he fought in the First World War. It was as if he'd found a purpose during that time. Came out of it a lance corporal having, it must be said, a reasonable record regarding his performance in the theatre of battle. He did win the Iron Cross, after all.
"But there are those who say he was thought of as fairly mad by his commanders which is probably why he didn't get further promoted. When he was discharged from the army, he ended up joining, not forming, a right-wing party, the National Socialists - what we know as the Nazi party - in 1919. By some shenanigans, he ended up in charge by 1921. Two years later he staged the failed coup and ended up in prison where he wrote that turgid, revolting book."
I see that Teal'c's going to ask what book but I don't want Daniel to go off on another rant, so I say, Tell you later, Teal'c. It's important historically, but Danny's right. It's a bad book.
Indeed? Perhaps I should avoid reading it.
I try not to laugh given the circumstances, but Teal'c's mental voice was as dry as his sarcastic 'spoken' voice ever gets.
Right, you do that. Or not.
"Think about it," Daniel states. "He was this skinny, weak... being," he spits, almost unwilling to accredit him with human status, "unable to organise a coup in a brewery. Quite literally. The government was so weak at that point that it was vulnerable to any serious uprising, yet Hitler couldn't get enough support from a devastated people who were desperate to have someone to support.
"And yet within seven years of the coup, there he was. In power. His party had over 100 seats in government. By 1934, he not only had the title of President, but he'd taken over as Chancellor. And that was it. Absolute rule."
"He had people on his side, though," I remind him. "Smart people, too."
"Yes. Goering, a popular war hero; he'd taken over the Red Baron's wing when the Baron had been killed, though I don't credit him with what you would call great intelligence, especially as he was a drug addict. And there was Goebbels, who was brilliant at propaganda. So this begs the obvious question: why did he pick a failed chicken farmer to run the SS?"
"A failed chicken farmer?" Teal'c puts in in disbelief.
"Himmler. Talk about unable to organise anything. Failed at everything he put his hand to until that time. But as soon as he got in charge of the SS, all of a sudden he had amazing organisational ability. He was crazy, obsessed with the mythology of the German race. Made up a shit load of it.
"He restored a Renaissance castle as the SS's 'leadership school', but it never taught anyone. He even put a round table in it, like the King Arthur story and named various rooms after famous historical and mythical heroes. In this castle there were supposed to be secret initiation ceremonies for the higher-ups in the SS. He officiated at pseudo-Pagan weddings for his officers there, too.
"Most of that fantasy-land stuff you see from the old newsreels, based on supposed Germanic mythology of a master race, came from his mind. What sort of freaks me out even more is that the Ahnenerbe, the society set up partly by Himmler, not only went to Antarctica but to Tibet. One of the stated reasons for that trip was the 'belief' that the Buddha came from the so-called Aryan descent from a Nordic race! It's crazy!
"Seriously, this guy was mad. However, he was 'the king maker', because without the SS, Hitler could well have been taken down by a military coup. Because of one thing you can be sure; a whole load of the top brass did not like the 'upstart corporal'. Needless to say, as soon as he got his chance - a chance facilitated by Himmler's SS - he got rid of his enemies in the army, as well as most others.
"If you just think of the Night of the Long Knives, as it became known, it shouldn't have worked. It shouldn't have been able to happen. Ernst Röhm had a few million Brownshirts, whereas the SS only numbered in the few thousands. Röhm had also been one of Hitler's friends, and the one who'd organised the thuggery which had assisted him in getting into power.
"As an aside, it's also thought that he knew too much about Hitler's sexual tastes and his complicity, at the very least, in the death of his own niece with whom he's supposed to have had a rather perverted affair. Another thing which pushes me towards Zeus in Hitler given his own 'history'.
"So Röhm's death was seen as kind of necessary by that time, definitely by Hitler's closest supporters if not by himself. It's said that it took some persuasion and some false information to allow the execution, which makes me wonder if he was either fond of the human Röhm, or Röhm was a host and the snake inside him needed a little time to find a new one.
"Anyway, somehow, it worked. The SA didn't fight back, and this erstwhile incapable dreamer won the day. All of the major opponents to both Hitler's rule and Himmler's personal power were gone within 48 hours.
"Also regarding Himmler, in only four years from joining the party, he was in charge of the SS. Initially it was a small, pretty ineffectual group when he took over in '29, but by '34, when the purge took place, it was in a far stronger position than it had been.
"After the purge, he was in an incredible position of power. The SA was disbanded and the SS became the stuff of nightmares. Sure, he was loyal to Hitler, a real extremist, but you don't get sudden abilities without some form of explanation. Not even fanaticism should cover that one."
"I thought that Himmler abandoned Hitler at the end of the war," I say, racking my brains regarding my history lessons.
"A couple of days before the end, he did. Could be explained by one of two things: either the snake saw what was happening, maybe thought Zeus was dead and wanted to become the ruler itself, or it had gone from Himmler and left him to try to save its own neck. In the end, Himmler committed suicide - an unfortunate, at least in most cases, side effect all too often seen by those who've been possessed by Goa'uld.
"Can't say I'm sorry about the human Himmler because his initial history shows that he was a good candidate for that level of evil without any assistance," he says with a grimace.
"So was Zeus in Hitler or Himmler?" Sam asks, thoroughly confused. "Hitler committed suicide, too."
"Hitler. I just can't see Zeus' ego allowing him to be anything less than the man in charge. He had a cult following, and a godhood delusion to match, to put Jim Jones, Seth, David Koresh and even Pol Pot to shame. Put together. And what sickens me the most in this thought is that Hitler may have even known about Zeus and welcomed him so that he would get the power he'd craved as a 'normal' human.
"When the end was obvious, we see pictures of Hitler looking old and decrepit. It's almost an overnight change. He'd have had his one hope of immortal life taken from him and he wouldn't have been able to cope with that."
"What about all those stories about Hitler being medicated up to his eyeballs?" I ask.
"Sarc?" he offers. "That and someone fabricating records. I know that his servants and staff were supposed to have seen the medicine heading his way, but there's mainly only hearsay that he actually took it. He could have used that as a cover because the body wasn't particularly young and yet he'd be full of energy. Zeus is way too smart to make a mistake like that, I think. No, he'd be more than likely to use a sarc and pretend to be getting shot up with drugs.
"Besides, the records of the drugs show that for the most part, they weren't supposed to be anything more than vitamins. Hardly something which is going to explain his energy and so on, is it?"
"So you reckon there was another snake?" I ask, getting this sinking feeling.
"Yeah. And one who was both smart and, more importantly, devoted to Zeus. They must have used the archaeological expeditions to hide what they were really looking for."
"Could it have been Kebechet?" Sam asks, more in hope than in expectation.
Daniel screws his face up.
"It could be," he admits. "But I get the feeling that it wasn't."
"Why?" I ask.
"Gut?" he offers. In other words, he really doesn't know why he knows but he does. Like on so many other occasions, especially recently.
"She might have been in Eva Braun?" I try.
"Might have been. Just as likely to have been kept somewhere out of the way. Somewhere safe. Possibly at Omphalos, keeping an eye on Hermes. Bear in mind that she's a queen - something which is becoming a rarity in the galaxy as a whole, let alone on Earth. At a guess, they were already rare when the snakes went to Earth because that would help explain why they were a 'dying race', as Ra put it.
"So, he couldn't have taken the chance that she'd get killed and he was planning for war virtually from the time he got a sniff of power, or so it seems. He would have wanted her far from the action. It might explain his obsession with the Balkans and Greece, too. His desire to 'own' them. It wasn't just a strategic thing, Omphalos is likely to be somewhere in that region."
"Makes sense, I guess. So who was in Himmler?" I ask.
"That is why I need to get out there, Jack. The Tok'ra haven't mentioned any known associations, apart from a few who really are known to be dead and are not just supposed to be. My only hope is that we find out from others who were affected by them. It's possible that this one is one of his offspring, a more 'recent' addition, if you see what I mean. In which case, no one's going to know who it is.
"But we have to find out, because the one in Himmler, assuming there was one, was behind the majority of the atrocities carried out in the camps and elsewhere. He was not only prepared to continue in a delusional manner but was as ruthless as the head of any killing squad you care to think about."
Frankly, I don't care to think about them, but I know what he means.
"What about the others?" Sam asks. "Were they all snaked?"
"Doubt it," comes the reply. "Remember, some, many of these people would have held these gross beliefs without any form of persuasion. There had been decades of racial-superiority bullshit going around and it wouldn't have taken more than a nudge to get at least a good proportion of the population believing it was true. Then they were given the chance to act on it."
"But why attack the Jewish people?" Teal'c asks, obviously bewildered by such a despicable act.
With a sad face, Daniel replies. "Expedience."
"What do you mean?"
"As sickening as it sounds, they needed a scapegoat. Someone to blame for all their troubles. They were the easiest targets; them and some churches, the mentally ill, gypsies, homosexuals.... Social groups rather than political ones, they had no one to fight on their behalves.
"And while the Jewish people were the most visible ones being blamed, then attacked, imprisoned and slaughtered, other potential, real dangers to the organisation were quietly wiped out on the side. The political prisoners, for example."
"They were a smokescreen?" Sam asks in horror.
"Why not? Use the racial purity theories I just mentioned that had been embedded in the popular consciousness for a couple of decades, a century or so in fact, choose someone with a gift of oratory - not only Hitler could speak to the masses, after all - and before long, you have otherwise reasonable people believing that all their troubles could be wiped away just by getting rid of one group. They were brainwashed in effect.
"Some undoubtedly were happy to go along with it, others ended up believing what they were told because they heard it day after day, just as has happened with the Jaffa," he adds with a sad look towards Teal'c.
"Remember the Stanley Milgram experiment? The one where ordinary people were pushed to 'electrocute' someone who gave wrong answers, with each jolt being worse than the last one, up until it was supposed to be a fatal dose?
"Though the participants didn't know that they were pressing buttons which were not actually connected to an actor on the opposite side of a screen, and though many questioned the purpose of the experiment, they continued on and on, despite the 'screams of agony' of the actor, with only a relatively small percentage actually saying 'no' as it got worse.
"These people didn't even have the death penalty hanging over their heads if they'd said 'no'. They could have just got up and walked away without any problems, yet they continued on because they were told to do so by a man in a lab coat. It proved how easy it is to get people to act in such a way.
"Back to the point regarding the Jewish people in particular. It was an influential group that was being attacked. They had contacts with many governments. Not the ordinary people, of course, but the rich ones. Some owned banks - not just ran them but physically owned them.
"Effectively they - along with other, non-Jewish bankers who were 'conveniently' overlooked - helped organize countries and affected their governance as a result. Tie that in with the economic chaos, not only of the end of the war but the one caused by the Wall Street Crash, and hey presto: someone to blame. Then when they worked out a way to get rid of them en masse, they found a way to exterminate anyone else they thought 'impure'."
Daniel takes a deep breath and frowns, a sickened look on his face appearing though he tries to hide it.
"I know I'm only hoping, in a way, that Hitler was snaked, if only to 'explain' such gross behaviours. But - if it was Zeus, there could be another, simpler reason for him to be so vile towards the Jews."
He shrugs. "The Jewish people are Semitic. As are any number of other peoples from the Near East. They would have been under Ra's rule at some point, or at least under one of his puppets.
"And remember what I said about Joshua insisting that the people worship only the one God? Not to mention the story of the 'prophets of Baal' being slaughtered by the 're-converted' Jews, so to speak. Maybe Zeus had sneaked some of his own followers in where Ra's puppets were meant to be."
"Revenge?! After all that time?!" He's not the only one feeling sick.
He shrugs again. "What's two thousand years or so to a near-immortal being?" he asks simply. "Those poor people had no idea, could never have had an idea about it. But I wouldn't rule it out as at least a part of the 'reason'."
And on that note, a silence descends. A frozen one.
"So," O'Neill asks carefully, after a minute or so has passed. "What's the plan to find this one? Will he still be with Zeus?"
"If he's still alive, there's a good possibility. If he had actually still been with Himmler up until the suicide, there's also a possibility that he's now a cult leader in his own right, or leading one of the neo-fascist groups in any number of countries and is attempting to match Zeus, to take power from him the moment he gets his chance.
"Whatever the truth of that matter is, we need to get some form of information on him. It could be that if we manage to defeat Zeus in some way, this one will be waiting in the wings, ready to take over."
O'Neill is obviously thinking, so we wait in silence to allow him to accomplish his task with more ease. Finally, he asks, "Wasn't Goering supposed to take over from Hitler if he'd died in office?"
"Yeah, but I can't see him being a snake."
"Why not?" Samantha questions him.
Daniel shrugs his shoulders. "Too fat."
"Think about it. When did you last see a fat Goa'uld? Even one who feasts a lot?"
"Uh... Never," she agrees.
"Exactly. And while we think Hitler and Himmler are good candidates for being snaked, I'm only going on a hunch with these two because they both rose from obscurity and their personalities, or rather their abilities changed. Their 'human' personalities already leant themselves to this behaviour.
"Some of the abilities can be explained by more mundane methods - for example, Hitler is known to have taken lessons in how to present himself to the public. But there's just that little bit too much of that change for my liking. Those lessons could have been a cover, much like the drugs."
"Daniel. Is it possible that you are just hoping that the evil you described could only be perpetrated by a Goa'uld?" I suggest, thinking that humans do have a tendency to ignore the obvious from time to time.
"Possible," he nods in agreement. "Human or Goa'uld, he was evil incarnate. There are any number of writers who have attributed this to possession by the Devil - something to which I do not ascribe, at least in the usual, religious sense of demonic possession.
"I said before that it could be my wishful thinking that no human could stoop so low. But I also said that I know humans to be easily led by a great orator. And no matter what we think of Hitler, he was good at that."
"What of the other snakes on the planet?" Samantha queries. "Could they have been part of it?"
"Might have, but I doubt it. We know of nearly a thousand. That's a scary number in and of itself. But it doesn't even come close to the support Hitler had. No, that has to be down to humanity's sheep-like nature in some cases, and innate evil in others. And there were too many of those, unfortunately. Many were also found in the various countries which were occupied, and they turned on their own people.
"All you have to do is look at today's serial killers, rapists, torturers, paedophiles... See what's going on on Earth and very little, if any of it, could be explained by the Goa'uld.
"Think about it. What would happen if you gave a sadistic killer the chance to act out his most base fantasies and tell him that not only is he not going to be prosecuted, but that he'll be rewarded? Surely that happened then as seen by the stomach-churning results. Besides, Goa'uld tend to want to be in positions of power, not to be seen as individual maniacs."
He has a point; and it is a thoroughly depressing one.
"So," Daniel says, rather cautiously, "are we going to go to see Nem?"
We look to O'Neill and see him considering the answer. I believe it shall be 'yes', but at the same time, it will be with great reluctance. In the end, he makes his decision.
"Not yet," he states.
"Jack, we can't hang around," Daniel warns, unsurprisingly.
O'Neill raises his hand to stop him.
"We won't. It's just that yesterday I decided that we were not going to go anywhere again until we all had our own versions of the subspace comms that the ladies have," he states, looking at Samantha.
"Yesterday, I wanted to call you, but you had the only comm available. Not to mention you were on Gimli. If I'd used the one on Mia, it would have taken way too long to have a conversation. None of the gliders have subspace comms on them."
"Which is why we had to get the message from Apollo," Samantha nods.
"Can we build some quickly?" Daniel asks hopefully.
"Don't see why not. We have all we need to make them, and now we've already done it, doing it again shouldn't take so long. I mean, I've made the mistakes so I don't need to make them again, if you know what I mean."
"You kept blueprints?" O'Neill asks.
Daniel frowns, then asks, "Sam, is it possible to set the comms to a particular frequency?"
"Sure. They're already at them. I didn't want to interfere with either Gimli's or the al'kesh's comms. When Frankie and I compared what we'd done, we tuned them to set frequencies to call and to receive. Why?"
"I was just thinking. I mean, it would be a better idea if all eight of us have these, wouldn't it?"
He looks to O'Neill who nods in agreement.
"I'm also sure that if you, say, want a private conversation with Frankie, you're not going to want the conversation to be broadcast over the others' comms. Sometimes the privacy reason will be for, well, more personal things. But for the most part, it's just a matter of us wanting to compare notes with our, uh, 'twins'.
"You're more likely to call on Frankie, I'm more likely to call on DJ and so on. Not for secrecy reasons, but because the rest of you wouldn't be interested in historical or linguistic debate, for example."
He would seem to have a good point.
"And of course, if we do need to speak to all of the others at once, and they're not on a ship, then the others can come close enough to the one receiving the message to listen in."
"I could do with a hand making them," Samantha sighs. "I'm going to have to devise some sort of switch. It's going to need to go between at least nine different settings."
"Nine?" I ask. "There are only eight of us, so therefore each of us should only need seven others, with only six more being made."
"Sure, but if we include the ships, too, maybe even Earth's ships and so on, it might help in a given situation. After all, who knows what we're going to need at any point in the future?"
"A wise precaution," I say, approving of her idea.
"Could the comms be disguised as something else?" O'Neill asks.
"Why?" Daniel replies, looking at him oddly.
"Ah, just thinking. If we do end up somewhere near Zeus, he might see them and recognise them as non-Earth tech. Don't want to bring any unnecessary attention to any, even minor advantage we might have over him."
"I see. Well, Sam? Is it possible?"
She frowns, obviously considering her position.
"I need Frankie," she finally states.
"Call her up. See what they're doing."
She presses the communication device on her own wrist and moments later, we hear Frankie's voice replying.
"Hey," Samantha says, "what are you guys doing?"
"Packing up and getting ready to move onto the next destination. Why?"
"Uh, could you come home for a while? We need to do something and I need to pick your brains. Then I'm going to need your help."
There is a silence and then we hear, "Sure. We'll be back in about fifteen minutes."
"Great! See you then."
She seems most cheered by this news, as are we all. It would be good to have MIB back, if only for a while.
"Guys," Daniel says, interrupting the good mood, "do you need DJ and me for this? I mean, you two," he says, pointing to O'Neill and myself, "are pretty technically minded, but he and I aren't."
"Daniel," O'Neill growls. "You are not going to Nem on your own."
"No, absolutely not. I have something else I need to do, and for two reasons actually."
"What is it?" comes the demand.
"Well, as you know, we saw the writing of the Tuatha on the wall. I'd really like - correction, I really need to go see Ogmius and question him about it. I've already told you that. Maybe he'll know of Zeus' likely henchman."
"And?" O'Neill is definitely not happy about this, we can all plainly see that.
"And we need to take the translation of the blueprints to him to get him to check them over. You see, some of the items mentioned in the construction of it were rather obscure. We think we have it right, but we don't know we have it right. So we had already decided that we'd be happier if Ogmius looked over it before we took it to the Tok'ra. Then we can give him back the originals, too."
O'Neill is patently counting in his head.
"Sure, DJ and me. Come on Jack, it's the other Annwn. It's not a place of danger. Arawn has put us under his protection."
"That was when we were there," O'Neill snaps.
"No, you misunderstand him. He took us under his protection. He also invited us to return at any time. That means, each time we go there, we're under his protection. As he's the leader of his people, nobody would dare do anything to harm us. It would take a seriously bad action on our parts for him to withdraw that protection because it would harm his own honour to do so.
"Trust me on this one, Jack. Arawn couldn't harm us, or by his inaction, allow harm to come to us. And with his gate being one of those which is hardly used, the chances of a sudden snake attack are going to be pretty slim."
"You just had to say that, didn't you?" O'Neill says, waving his finger in Daniel's direction. "Just push the envelope that little bit. I wasn't thinking of snakes till that point, now it's going to be the only thing I can think about."
"You'll have contact with me via Gimli and Sam's comms," Daniel reminds him.
"Not when you're on the planet."
"Okay," Daniel states, then he thinks and suddenly nods to himself. "Don't worry, got that one covered."
"Frankie's coming home. We can borrow hers."
"Damn," we hear coming from O'Neill's mouth, though he did not move his lips.
He knows that Daniel is going to go to the other Annwn whether he likes it or not.
I honestly didn't think that Jack would let me go to Annwn, at least not without some sort of armed escort. Possibly even the entire fleet of Earth and the Tok'ra combined. But when MIB came home, a surprisingly brief chat with Frankie had a plan of action hashed out regarding making the comms units and somehow DJ and I got the green light.
Jack and Sam have now gone to Earth to buy some watches. They're going to be big, chunky ones, quite 'high', at least when measured from the arm. They're also buying some smaller ones.
The plan is that the larger watches' workings will be removed and replaced with the slimmer version, with the hope that they will still operate the same face movement. The ladies are pretty sure they can miniaturise the comms to the point where they can fit inside the remaining gap. Then the watch, using a switch to change functions, will either be a watch or a communicator.
Not sure how they're going to do that, undoubtedly I'll be shown how to use it when it's done, but she said something about the watch winder being used to change from one frequency to another.
They'll buy different-looking watches, too, on the grounds that if the four of us are together and wearing the same things, we'll find it harder to pretend we're not together, uh, as a group. There may be occasions when that's useful. There may not be, of course, but 'paranoid' has now become an official middle name to us all. Well, all except Teal'c and Kar Shel. It's their 'surname'.
"DJ, would you mind if we went via Kheb?" I ask as we leave the system.
"No, but why?"
"Well, I'd like to see Oma. We need to tell her about the library, or whatever it was."
Needless to say, while the technical discussions about the comms were going on, I'd told DJ everything I knew about the day before.
"And?" he asks.
"I'll ask her if she's got a clue about the second maniacal Goa'uld we think might exist."
"Oh. Okay. I guess it's not too far off our route, is it?"
"Given that Annwn is halfway across the galaxy, nothing between the two places really is."
I program in the initial co-ordinates and off we go.
Why I'm treading on eggshells with him I don't know. Guess it's a habit because of Jack.
"Would you stay on the ship when I go down there, please?"
"Well, if Jack calls, he might call Gimli's frequency, not Frankie's personal comms. If neither of us are on the ship, he's not going to get an answer and that's going to freak him out."
"What do I say if he calls?" he asks in horror.
"Uh, DJ, you sound exactly like me, especially over comms. He wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Just be me. If you think you're getting in over your head, tell him you need to take a leak, he just caught you before you'd left the bridge and say you'll call him back. Then give me a shout, I'll come back and speak to him, okay?"
"Why do I think I'm going to end up regretting this?" he mutters.
"Look, I don't even know if Oma's going to be there. As far as I can tell, she has no need to be there now that Maybourne's back on Earth. She might even be there, with him, though why I don't know. I'll go, call out to her, and if she doesn't turn up in about ten minutes, I'll come back up, okay?"
"What if you end up with one of those headaches again? Passed out on the floor like before."
"I woke up on my own," I remind him. "I didn't need resuscitation."
I think for a moment and then ask, "Gimli, can you monitor my body?"
"Uh, Daniel, how's she going to answer you?" he says. To be honest, I don't know why I even asked it. I just shrug.
A second later, we do get our answer. In front of us, on the display of the control panel, the Asgard rune for 'yes' flashes up.
"You can communicate with us?" DJ all but yelps.
"Whoa! This is amazing!"
I just grin. "Gimli is amazing," I state.
"Okay, Gimli, could you monitor me when I was on another planet? Assuming you're in orbit, of course."
"Fantastic. Would you recognise my brain waves if I was unconscious, as opposed to just being quiet?"
This time the answer takes a little longer, but it's still 'yes'.
"Gimli? Is something wrong?"
And why should I get the feeling that something is... upsetting her? Is that the right word?
There is another pause, then on the screen she shows us a recording. It's of me, unconscious in the medical room. It's actual video, but there's no audio. Perhaps she doesn't want me to hear what was said? Or am I reading too much into this?
Sam's checking me out. Jack's hovering. Teal'c's hovering. They're all looking scared. I'm looking naked?! When did that happen? Before I can ask anything, the video goes and it's replaced with what looks like a data stream. The numbers don't mean anything to me and I look to DJ for inspiration.
"Gimli? Is this what Daniel's brain looked like to you when he was unconscious?"
"Ah, that explains it. Thank you, honey. This is more than amazing, it's mind blowing."
A set of runes pop up, but I don't recognise them. I look to DJ and see he doesn't get it either.
"Could you display this in English or one of our other languages please?" I ask. "I'm sorry, we don't understand this."
Almost in the blink of an eye, the set changes to English.
'I do not wish to harm you'
I laugh out loud, so does DJ.
"It's just a figure of speech, sweetheart," I say. "It means that you are beyond anything we could dream about. Better than anything else."
'I am just a ship'
"The day you're just anything is the day I give up and retire. Oh no, Gimli, you are special in ways that perhaps even you don't understand. And now you've established contact with us like this, it makes you even more special than before. That takes some doing.
"Wait till the guys hear about this. They're going to be really excited. Sam will want to talk to you about the technical side of things. Jack will undoubtedly bore you to death regarding tactics..."
"I think you're probably going to escape that one. He's not particularly chatty to us. Though if he has a question, he'll be glad to know that you can answer him. I think it will bring him great comfort. His obsession is our protection. Being able to speak with you will assist him there, I think. So while you probably won't be nagged for answers, he will appreciate the contact more than you can imagine."
There's one of those pauses - she's thinking, isn't she? I look at DJ and realise he's thinking what I'm thinking. Which one's Brain?
'I can imagine a great deal'
"With your computing power, that's a certainty."
We're at Kheb and despite DJ's better judgement, I'm down here on my own. I've called out to Oma and Shifu and I'm waiting at the house. I only hope that they do turn up.
"Hey, Daniel, any sign of them yet?" DJ calls on the comms.
"Nope. Quiet as the proverbial. Any word from Jack?"
"Not yet. Wouldn't bet on it staying that way."
I couldn't agree more. I'm just about to give up when I see a familiar light heading my way.
"Hang on, it looks like I might have some company."
"Okay. Try not to be too long, eh?"
I stop speaking and wait for the light to form into whichever human shape it's going to be. It's Oma. Great. No sign of Shifu however. Not sure how we're going to communicate unless she deigns to speak out loud. If she can, that is.
"Hello Oma. Thanks for coming. I've got some news for you."
She turns her head slightly as if asking me to give her the details. So I do. I tell her about the castle and the precarious state it was in. I also tell her we found that room by accident, though I think I see a small smile appear on her face as I say that which leads me to believe that she might have been behind the 'finding'. Then I tell her what happened next.
"After Jack left me, I have no real recollection of what occurred. Later on he told me that I'd been trapped by a large slab of rock of some sort. That should probably have killed me, but I was left with only the most minor of injuries to my body, much to everyone's surprise.
"Uh, if you or any of your kind were behind that, well, that miracle I guess, I want to say 'thank you', even if that does sound a bit lame for what was done for me. It's just the only words I can think of."
I get a funny sensation and realise that the world seems to have stopped still. Have I felt this before? It's sort of familiar. What's going on? Uh, Oma?
"I am glad to hear you are well, Daniel."
"Um, thanks. Really. Was it you?"
Oma - standing right in front of me as if she's a solid human - says nothing, but she does tilt her head slightly. I just smile back at her. I think she knows I understand.
"I sense you have some questions again, Daniel."
"Well, I have some news as I said..."
"Was that not your news?"
"Uh, it was part of it, I guess, but what you need to know is that the room containing the records was also exposed to the elements, probably around the time that block squished me."
If she did save me, how come she didn't know about that? Or does she know? Oh who the hell knows what these aliens do? I don't, that's for sure. Maybe it was all a test to see what we would do with the records? I'll never find out, I'm positive of that. It's about the only thing I am positive about these days.
"Anyway, Jack ordered the guys to rescue everything from that room and they took it to Jotunheim, the Asgard's own repository of knowledge. Under the circumstances, they felt it was the safest place."
"I - we as a people are grateful for their consideration."
"Do you know where Jotunheim is? If you don't, we can give you the co-ordinates if you come up to the ship."
"I am aware of its location. It will be in good hands."
"Yes. But you must know that the Asgard themselves are in great danger from a ruthless enemy. They have a plan in place to protect the planet, by phase-shifting it. Uh, basically that means moving it into another realm of existence, if only temporarily.
"The repository is very well guarded, but I'm sure you will understand that even the best plans have flaws in them and there are no guarantees of your own knowledge's safety in the long run. They will undoubtedly do everything in their power to protect it, but they're only mortal," I finish with a shrug.
"I understand. Arrangements shall be made to relocate our knowledge. I am aware of the dangers the Asgard face and though I cannot interfere with their fight, this knowledge must be kept from the enemy."
From the look on her face I'm thinking that if she can find a way to protect the Asgard's knowledge too, she's going to do it.
"I'm really glad you see it that way. Now for the question, I guess, because I'm running out of time."
"Time has stopped temporarily, Daniel. There is no need to hurry."
I stop for a moment and then shake my head and laugh. At least I think I do - it feels like I do.
"I'd ask how you do that but I'm not sure I want to know. Anyway, the question is about Zeus. We know that many races are afraid of him. We think we can also place him inside a particularly vile individual about 60 to 70 Earth years ago.
"Unfortunately, we had first thought him to be inside another one, basically a henchman to the one we now believe held Zeus. Do you know of any Goa'uld who was aligned with him? It would have to be a particularly strong bond, where this other one was devoted to Zeus to the point of obsession."
She's silent; in her more human form she looks depressed, I guess. I don't say any more, just await her answer.
"His mate?" she suggests - hopefully? I'd say so. Something's telling me that she knows what's going on and doesn't want to give too much away.
"We're guessing that Kebechet was kept out of the way. He ended up living in a war zone. No way was he going to take a chance on losing the only queen he could get his hands on without leaving Earth."
"I see," she says. "Then if he has a queen perhaps it was one of his own offspring, or hers if she took another mate?"
"Yeah, we thought that but there's one point which would knock that on the head."
"What is that, Daniel?"
"We were once told that a Goa'uld fears nothing more than its own offspring. We've found nearly a thousand Goa'uld on Earth. Most are scattered around the planet, distanced from each other. Probably Zeus' way of keeping them at arm's length, so to speak. The chances of a Goa'uld trusting one of his own to do absolutely everything he ordered are pretty slim."
I see her nod slightly as if in further thought.
"There is only one other I can think of, but he was considered dead many centuries past."
"They thought that of Anubis and Zeus," I remind her.
"That is true. In which case, it could well be the one you know as Dionysos."
"Um, I thought he was supposed to be one of Zeus' illegitimate kids," I say, thoroughly confused.
"Many things are not as they seem, Daniel. You should know that by now."
"Oh sure. The more I study mythology, the more I realise I don't know anything at all."
She actually laughs a little at that, then her face changes to something so serious I know I'm not going to like what comes next.
"The Goa'uld Dionysos was, during the time of Zeus' greatest reign of power, his closest ally. He was both a follower and lover of Zeus, and because Zeus himself was devoted to Dionysos and allowed him to behave as he willed, he received greater devotion in return.
"He was given a retinue which would create great devastation, sometimes at Dionysos' own behest, other times on being given orders by the most evil of all Goa'uld."
"The Maenads?" I ask.
They're the ones who would do things like get themselves worked up into such a frenzy that they would kill animals, even humans with their bare hands.
"I believe that they took on that name at one point," she agrees.
"Do you think they're still with him?" I ask in dread.
She shuts her eyes and nods slightly.
We're in deep, deep shit. Especially as it's just dawned on me that I'm not going to remember a single word of this, am I?
"Before I go," I say after my blood unfreezes slightly, "there is one problem we have which you might know the cause of."
"Oh? And what is that?"
"I've been having lots of moments where I have no idea what's happened to me. In the back of my mind, there's something telling me not to fight this fact and I've been trying not to.
"The trouble is, Jack, Sam, Teal'c and now all of the androids are completely aware of the fact that I have forgotten things. They don't know what I've forgotten, of course, but the sheer fact that I have been forgetting is scaring them."
It's been scaring me too, but I'm not mentioning that.
"When we left Heliopolis I was unconscious for absolutely ages. They even took me to the SGC so that I could have a brain scan. Jack told me that it looked like I was sleeping, actively dreaming of something, but I have no idea what it was. So there are records of me behaving oddly. What if word gets back to Zeus that something strange is going on? Might he consider it to be worth investigating?"
She seems to consider this for a moment, then she nods.
"I understand what you are saying. You must not fight your memories, Daniel."
"I don't remember anything! I just know I have certain times when I have apparently been awake and aware, like in the castle, but I can't remember a thing! I'm not even going to remember this conversation am I? Yes, it's frustrating, but I'm hoping that there's a very good reason for it. Probably one you've already explained to me."
"Why do you suggest that I should have explained it?" She's curious and I'm starting to wonder if I should have said that.
"Just because of the headache I got after being here the last time. Each time I try to remember being here, the headache comes back. I just put two and two together. But I don't honestly know anything, I promise."
"That is good. And now your friends must not remember that you have forgotten."
"Yeah. But I don't want them to be hurt in any way. No piercing headaches, no pain..."
She waves her hand at me, the world goes a bit fuzzy, then I hear birdsong. I open my eyes wide and realise I'm alone.
"Hey DJ, you'd better beam me up. Looks like today's been a bust."
"I thought you said you had company," he says over the comms.
Oh hell, not again.
I had a better idea than the watches when we ended up on Earth. The General himself escorted us into town - guess he's not too enamoured of leaving us to our own devices while the NID are still at large. Anyway, as we were walking towards a jewellery shop, I saw someone walking along with a cellphone in his top pocket and a Bluetooth earpiece attached to his head and it triggered off the thought.
A cellphone to hold the comms would be a far better idea, along with the mini data cards that take up next to no room. It will hold more physical 'bits and pieces' if we get rid of some of the extraneous tech and we can use the keypads to 'dial' the set frequencies. We can even store each frequency in the phonebook section which can be transferred to the SIM card so it won't take up much room itself.
A trip to a second shop - well, 'supplier' - to get 'blank' SIMs was necessary. I don't think they're supposed to be available, but if you know where to look... Hey, I'm used to making things out of nothing - or at least out of nothing that I should have.
The only problem I can immediately foresee is going to be the battery life: the comms might drain them quicker than normal. Watch batteries are tiny but being so small, carrying spares doesn't take up much room and they're easy to replace.
Phone batteries are bigger, not so easy to replace in the sense that we'd have needed to buy quite a few when we got the phones - which could have raised some awkward questions. Pity Daniel wasn't with us. He could have come up with a reasonable answer.
We can keep them recharged to the max when we're at home, but if we're away for a few days they'll be flat as pancakes by the time we're done. I'm only hoping that Frankie can use her photosensitive recharging technology which the androids use to charge themselves up for this purpose.
The reason I'm thinking cellphone is that if we're going to be on Earth, nobody's going to even see the phones, they're so commonplace these days. Even the earpieces are normal. By the time I'd diverted the General and Jack towards a phone shop and walked about 100 yards, I'd spotted at least fifteen people just strolling down the street with the earpieces tucked around their ears. Nobody was giving them a second glance, even though they were seemingly speaking to themselves!
I nearly laughed out loud at that. Not long before we left Earth originally, a guy walking down the street and having a conversation with himself would probably end up being known as the local crazy man. These days it seems that half the population does it. Does that mean they're all going crazy?
The fact that some people can't be prised from their various bits of technology, afraid that they're going to miss an email while they're out to get lunch, must mean that a certain amount of mania is creeping into society.
I explained my idea to the men, briefly and under my breath so no one could hear us, and they agreed that it was a good one. Jack still wants the watch thing for future use, just in case we're on a different planet where the phone and especially the earpiece would be noticeable, but a watch could be hidden up a sleeve.
So we got them, too, but given the need to miniaturise the equipment even more for a watch than for a phone, making them will take longer to accomplish. We're not sure how much time we have left so the quicker our comms are made, the better. Refinements can come later.
We're back on Annwn. But not until I'd 'persuaded' George and Jack to take me back to the mountain via Baskin-Robbins. Well, it's warm there and I miss ice cream! Daniel's refused to make any while there's snow on the ground on Annwn. I miss the sort of flavours like the Oreo Cookies 'n' Cream. I wonder if he can figure out how to make them?
Needless to say, that set Jack off on a Ben & Jerry's 'hunt' - he prefers it, I guess. I think it's the names with him. He's just a big kid! Of course, Chunky Monkey was one of them, along with Neapolitan Dynamite, Karamel Sutra and... Actually, he bought a pot of most of them. Though we had a whole load of carrier bags, our arms were freezing by the time we'd got back to the house and had taken them, with the rest of the shopping (which we'd actually gone for) down to the tunnels.
After drinking some coffee in an attempt to warm us up from the inside, we're now trying to work out how best to go about dismantling the various bits of kit to make what we want.
The, uh, electronics, I guess, are actually only very small, but to get them into a watch we'd have to make them smaller. We reckon it can be done, but we're going to need to use microscopes and very fine tools. Better not have shaky hands when I'm trying to solder the bits together.
The guys are carefully unscrewing the phones' casings and removing what bits they can, laying them out in specific orders. Frankie and I are going over the blueprints again. She'd already assembled everything we'd need. I think that once we get it right on the first phone, the rest will fall into place. She thinks the display screens can be used as the photosensitive cells.
However, going on our previous reasoning that we did not want the watches to be identical, we had to choose different brands of phones, which might make it trickier. In the end we picked the biggest ones we could find, ones with cameras in. We're taking out the cameras and that's giving us some room to work. This is going to be a long day. It's already well into the afternoon. How much time am I going to have?
It's been ages since I spoke to Daniel. Guess it's not going to look too much like I'm being an overbearing, uh, overprotective SO if I call him, is it? He'll probably think I am, but what the hell. With so many things going on these days, I can't be too careful.
I let the guys know I'm taking a break and none of them even look up at me. I guess they've been waiting for me to do this. Am I that predictable? Probably.
So, up through the rings and then over to the al'kesh. Sam's going to need to be surgically removed from her communicator, I think, but I didn't even ask her for it. Part of me wants a bit of privacy. Why? No idea. I just hope the guys are okay.
I 'dial them up', call out and wait for a reply. Even with this super-subspace-highway we use for communicating, there's still a tiny pause when we're speaking over vast distances.
I nearly laugh out loud as I think of that. Back on Earth, the Sun is considered to be a long way away. Pluto is considered to be that 'vast distance' away. To us, though, we only really consider something at least halfway across the galaxy to be 'quite far'. Ridiculous, ain't it?
I guess it doesn't take more than a second or so for the reply to come; probably no longer than the radio chat between mission control and the moon landings, but these days, that's actually detectable. We're so used to immediate answers that a one to two second gap is like an age.
"Hey, Jack," I hear coming back at me. That's a very reassuring sound. "Everything okay with you?"
"Sure. Been to Earth to get the stuff. Carter's decided on using cellphones. Explain later. How's things with you?"
"Coming into orbit around Annwn."
"Only now? I though you'd have been there a while ago."
This time the pause is longer, as if Daniel's thinking of a reply which isn't going to freak me out.
"Keep your panties on," he snaps. "Took a diversion which added some time to the trip. We just stopped at Kheb to see if Oma was there so we could tell her about the library thing."
"And you didn't tell me before you went?!"
"Thought of it on the way," he says.
Just as well for him that he's not in reach, 'cause seriously damaging him right now is a distinct wish. Only to keep him home and safe, you understand.
"And?" I ask. "Was she there?"
"Nah. Waited a while but it was a bust. Thought I'd seen something but it must have been a ground fog near that river. I made a mark on the ground near the house. Nothing that anyone else would understand, but just to basically say I'd been there. I hope she gets the message and then will know to come see us. Best I could do under the circumstances."
"Okay. So, what are you doing now?"
"Told you. We're just getting into orbit and then we'll go down to the planet. I'll be in touch if there's anything to report, okay?"
"Sure. Use Sam's frequency. I'll be back down in the tunnel with them."
We sign off and I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Something's going to go wrong, isn't it?
O'Neill is finding concentration particularly difficult at the moment. Although his recent contact with Daniel should have reassured him, he seems to be most agitated. I look at my watch and see that it is already dinnertime. I wonder if I should mention this to him - he could use the time profitably and go to make dinner for the three of us. However, it will also serve to remind him that there are only three of us here at present.
"Jack? What's up?" John asks as O'Neill puts down his tools yet again.
"Ah, I'm just getting a bad feeling."
"Could it be because of the events of the past days?" I suggest. "You are more concerned than normal regarding Daniel's absence because of the trauma of yesterday?"
He shrugs. "Could be," he agrees. "But I can't shake the feeling that something is wrong."
"Would calling him again ease your mind?" I ask.
"My mind, probably. However it would most likely just wind him up."
There is some truth in that matter.
"I guess I wouldn't be so anxious if he hadn't said that he'd been to Kheb, ya know?"
"What do you mean?" Samantha asks.
"Last time he went there he passed out, remember? Then he wasn't aware of what had happened. Just like he couldn't remember after being with Thoth, and can't remember all of what happened yesterday."
She is about to answer that when we see something strange enter the room. It is like a fine mist but such an occurrence should not happen in a Tok'ra tunnel.
"Uh, what's that?" Frankie asks, pointing it out.
"Not sure," Samantha says. "Could one of the cooling units in the store room have broken?"
"I guess. We'd better check it out."
Before we can move to do so, the mist surrounds us. It is gentle, warm - and despite its sudden appearance, I do not feel any anxiety regarding it. I feel at peace. My mind is clearing. My eyes shut and all I sense is calmness and serenity.
"Perhaps you should make some dinner?" I suggest to O'Neill. "Time is going on."
"Sure. I'll get something started then give the guys a shout to see what time they'll be home. I'm sure that I'm worrying over nothing. If Daniel hadn't mentioned snakes getting through the gate, I guess I probably wouldn't have got so worked up. I mean, he's on the other Annwn, isn't he? Arawn's going to watch him like a hawk."
He walks off, heads to the rings and is just about to enter them when we hear a call on Samantha's comms.
"Guys? You there?"
Either Daniel or DJ would seem to be panicking.
"Sure thing," Samantha replies. "What's up?"
"Uh, not totally sure," we here. "But you better come to Annwn as fast as you can."
"Why?" O'Neill barks - he came running as soon as he heard the communication.
"Like I said. Don't know, but something's wrong. Very wrong. We'll try to find out what we can while you're on your way."
"DON'T DO ANYTHING!" O'Neill shouts.
"Jack, we won't do anything," comes the reply, I assume from Daniel as the voice was attempting to soothe him. "We'll just look. From the ship, okay? Now will you stop arguing and start moving?!"
All attempts at solace have been abandoned, it would seem. We all drop what we are doing and start to make our way to the al'kesh. It appears that O'Neill's fears that something would go wrong were well founded.
As we left Kheb, something strange happened. DJ was questioning me about the fact that I'd said it seemed like I was about to have a visitor and then I said that nothing had happened. I was attempting to answer him when we saw a misty 'presence' on the bridge of the ship. It surrounded DJ for a few moments, then disappeared. Next thing I knew, DJ was chatting about going to Annwn. Weird!
I'd have mentioned something about it, but it got me out of trying to answer a question I couldn't answer and stopped the awkward interrogation. If only the rest of the guys would stop asking me what I can and can't remember, things would be perfect.
We finally arrived at Annwn and scanned the surface to see if any of the Tuatha were 'out and about', so to speak, but they are either all in their spirit state or have left the planet. I wouldn't normally have given that as an option, but what we did see has scared the living daylights out of me.
There's something moving down there. It's about a hundred miles from the main settlement. It's also not giving off biological signals. The more I think of it, the more only one answer comes to mind and I'm not liking it one bit. I've called for the others, not giving them the chance to question me just yet because I want to know what's what before I say anything. I just know I need them here right now.
"DJ, scan local space to see if there are any anomalies," I say, keeping my eyes on the signs from below.
"Such as?" he asks as he starts the scan.
"Perhaps some neutronium where there shouldn't be any?" I try.
He looks at me, wide-eyed.
"You think the Replicators are here?" he all but squeaks.
"Something non-biological is moving down there. The topographical scan of their location indicates that the ground is being moved somehow. Mined possibly. The signals are also showing that the numbers of moving... parts," I try, for want of a better word, "are growing. There's not much there just yet, I mean, nowhere near as many as on that moon we saw for example, but I wouldn't count on that being true for long."
"But what are they mining?" he demands. "There's no neutronium on Annwn."
"I know, I know."
I run my hands through my hair as if that's going to help in some way. It doesn't. I use Gimli's elemental scanner to see if she can recognise what's going on. When she flashes up the answer, I'm not sure if I'm reassured or scared shitless.
"Daniel?" DJ's still looking at his own scan so he needs me to interpret the results for him.
"It looks like one of the higher elements from Heliopolis," I tell him. "Not naquada or neutronium..."
"What about that unknown element?"
"No. That's not on the list, remember? And it's not that. This one's known. Doesn't have a name, at least not so that we'd know it, but it's a big one. Gimli's saying it's metallic, stable in the sense that naquada's stable, but I'm guessing from the fact that it's being mined at all, it's got to have some property worth their while doing all that work for."
"But where did they come from?" he demands.
"Don't know. Which is why I'm asking you to look for the neutronium. Perhaps there's a ship somewhere?"
"We need Thor," he states.
"Agreed. At the very least he needs to know about this."
I open up the comms and call to him. His hologram appears on the bridge, I tell him what we're seeing and I can see the horror in his eyes, even though I'm not seeing him for real. He's on his way.
I only hope that he and the others come soon.
It's been ages. I can't just stand here and wait. What if Arawn and his people are in trouble? They won't know about the Replicators and how to deal with them. Not that we know how to do that, we just have a better idea. All I can think of at the moment is that we need to stop them doing whatever it is they are doing, 'cause whatever it is, they're not going to be doing any good.
"I'm going down," I tell DJ.
"WHAT? Are you NUTS?!"
"Probably. But I can communicate with Arawn telepathically and you can't. I won't get too close to the Replicators. You say there's no sign of a ship in the near reaches of space, so it looks like they started something here and have gone off, leaving this lot to replicate, I guess. If Arawn suddenly appears, they're going to turn on him."
"They'll turn on you if they see you."
"I know, I know, believe me I know it! I just won't let them see me. Look, I'll go there."
I point to a piece of high ground overlooking the area where they're at, but about a mile or so away. With any luck, they won't see me. I don't let DJ say anything but rush off to our quarters and pick up some field glasses. Then I head back to the bridge.
"Keep a lock on me. If I yell, get me back up immediately."
"What if you have a Replicator or many on you?" he asks quietly.
I stop for a moment and think, then get an answer. "Gimli, can you just transport me and nothing else, even if it's physically attached to me?"
We wait for her answer. I think she's reluctant to let me go, but she does tell me.
'I should be able to'
I guess that's as good as I'm going to get.
"Okay. Keep a close eye on me. Both of you. If you see so much as a tiny fragment of that element within, say, 100 metres of me, get me out of there, okay?"
"Jack's going to kill us both," DJ mutters.
"Leave him to me. Gimli, please send me down there."
The last thing I see before the light of the transporter engulfs me is DJ's face. There's a sense of dread written all over it.
As I appear, I determine that I'm not getting hurt this time. Not this time. I've put Jack and the others - Jack, especially - through too much recently. No, all I'm going to do now is exactly what I need to do.
Lord Arawn? Can you hear me? It's Daniel.
I wait and wait, not very patiently. Finally I hear a voice, but it's not Arawn.
Daniel. It is I, Ogmius.
Oh thank God for that. Are you all right?
I am well, thank you.
What of Arawn and the others?
There's that ominous pause again. I'm beginning to hate that.
Lord Arawn cannot be contacted.
Why? What's happened to him?
He was injured when trying to remove these creatures from our lands.
Oh hell. Has he returned to his spirit state?
He has. But he is very weak. He must be healed soon or else he will die. Even his present state of being will not preserve him forever.
Fuck. Uh, can he be transported to my ship as he is?
I do not think so.
I think for a moment, then come up with a plan. It's not a good one, but it's the only one I can think of. Now that I've seen the damnable things with my own eyes, I'm more determined than ever that it's going to work.
Right. Listen to me, Ogmius. These creatures are called Replicators. They're the Asgard's greatest enemies. We don't know why they're here, except that they obviously want to make themselves from that particular element found in the rocks over there. Perhaps there's something special in it, I don't know. What I do know is that we've already called for help. Thor is on his way. Jack, John and the others are coming in our other ship, too. DJ's in our big ship in orbit at the moment.
This is good news, I hear. Can you help our Lord?
We'll try. As soon as the little ship comes - uh, don't worry, it's as fast as the big one - he's going to need to go back to his mortal state for long enough to be transported to it. Then he can return to his spirit form. The ship will take him to the Tok'ra so that he can be healed using your machine.
We will be very grateful for that alone, he says seriously. Arawn obviously means a great deal to them, and not just as a revered leader, I think.
We'll do our best for him, I promise. We'll also try to think of a way to get rid of these creatures. But you and the others must promise me something.
What is it?
Do not, under any circumstances, return to your mortal form. Stay out of sight. These things have no feelings. They're machines. They act like swarming insects, like a plague of locusts, if you know what they are.
I do indeed. A great terror for many peoples on Earth.
Exactly. Only the difference here is that they will kill anyone who tries to get between them and what they want. I've seen it happen, Ogmius. It damned near happened to Jack and Teal'c once.
I stop 'talking' at that point. I hated that moment. I hated that I had to be the one to give the order. I hated myself for doing it, I hated myself for being too cowardly to not do it as soon as Jack begged me to - and I hated myself for not being with him and dying too.
I realise that I must have projected those memories to Ogmius as when I next hear his voice, it is even quieter and calmer than normal.
We promise, Daniel. Not one of us shall interfere with your plans.
Thank you, I say with great relief. I don't know if we'll be successful in any of our attempts, but we're going to try.
I would expect nothing less of someone with such great honour.
Damn. He's got me choking up. Must be the memories. I have to get rid of them. Move on.
Tell me something, Ogmius. What's so special about this element? Why are they so desperate to mine it?
It is used by our smiths to create the swords of our warriors, he says. It is also, I believe, one of the ingredients, so to speak, of the healing machine.
Whoa. Then it can't leave the planet.
Does it have any specific properties that you know of? Something which makes it stand out from, say, iron?
The swords never break.
So it's probably extremely strong and not brittle. Might be an excellent material for creating spaceships. Uh, you say your smiths use it. Can they melt a lot of it in one go?
It would depend on how much you wish to melt at one time, I suppose. Why?
Oh, just coming up with a plan. I'll need to talk to the others first.
Very well. I shall go to speak to our smiths. They can prepare themselves for their task.
Only if they can do it without being seen, all right? We're going to need a large container and a larger fire.
That should be possible. We shall collect sufficient fuel for it immediately.
Don't do it here, I warn. They may be watching out for movements. Make sure that you cannot be detected by them no matter what.
It shall be done as you say.
Good. I'll go back to the ship now and wait for the others. As soon as they come, I'll return and call for Lord Arawn. Um, is he at the castle?
Right. I'll meet him there. It's probably the safest place. Oh, and one last thing.
What is that?
If you have any technology at all, do not use it. These creatures take new technologies and use them against their enemy. And their enemy is anyone who isn't them. This is why the Asgard have had such trouble with them.
They tried too hard? he asks.
We have very little in the way of technology, and I doubt that what we have they do not already possess. But we shall keep it all hidden. Just in case.
Thank you. I'll go now and be in touch as soon as possible.
We say goodbye and then I get Gimli to transport me up. Just in time, too, as the al'kesh and Thor have arrived and are heading our way. Might have got away with that one!
Poor Daniel's getting it in the neck for having gone down onto the planet, but he's fighting back.
"Jack! Shut up! You've got to listen to me and listen good. Arawn is in grave danger. We've got to get him to the Tok'ra asap or he's going to die. That is not an option!"
Uh, I think I might have an idea. I look over to Thor, see he's looking pretty bewildered by the guys fighting again, and so come to a conclusion about what to do. I'm really glad I learned to whistle loudly. That got everyone's attention.
"Thor," I say, as sweetly as I can, while all the others stare hard at me. "Would your healing pod help Arawn?"
"If he was in his mortal form, it is possible," he says thoughtfully.
"Well, I had arranged that he'd change over so we could transport him to the ship," Daniel says as quickly as he can to stop Jack butting in. "All I have to do is go down to his castle and when he's ready, shout for someone to transport him to whichever ship he's going to go on."
"Daniel, you can't go down again," Jack says wearily.
"Jack, I'll be in the castle for a matter of minutes at most. Gimli's already told me she can even find me under a pile of Replicators, so will you please stop panicking?"
"What do you mean 'told you'?" I ask. "Can she speak?"
"Uh, in a manner of, um, speaking," he says rather obliquely. "That can wait."
He turns to Thor and asks, "Would you go to your ship and get ready to transport us? If the worst comes to the worst and your pod can't completely heal him, it may at least buy him time for us to get him to the Tok'ra. He can't hang on much longer, if what Ogmius told me is correct, and I see no reason why it shouldn't be."
"I shall go now," Thor states. "In the meantime, perhaps a plan can be devised to get rid of the Replicators."
"Oh, I've had an idea about that," Daniel says, raising his hand to his wrist. "I'll tell you when..."
When, we don't know, because he's just disappeared. I look over at Jack and see he's starting to fret again, so I move next to him.
"Jack, all the signs are that the Replicators are nowhere near the castle at the moment. We're watching him closely."
"Yeah," he mutters, kicking one foot against another. I think he'd rather be kicking Daniel.
I despair for the two of them sometimes. That they're crazy about each other is indisputable. That they'd die for each other is also not in dispute. That they seem to want to permanently damage each other does, however, make me wonder about the first two points, not to mention their sanity.
"So, DJ," I try in the hope of distracting Jack for a minute or so, "how does Gimli communicate with you?"
"Not just us. She can answer questions. Up there, on the screen," he says nodding in the direction of the said screen. It's the one where we get to see various readouts - the one where she showed us her scans when Daniel was missing.
"How did you find out?"
"Uh, Daniel asked her a question. To be honest, I don't think he was expecting an answer, and I'm not even sure he knew why he'd asked it, but as soon as he'd finished, she'd flashed up an answer in runes."
"That's not going to help us," John mutters. "Not unless we all learn to read them."
"No," DJ replies, grinning as he does. "She gave an answer to a question which we couldn't read, so Daniel asked if she could display it in one of our languages and she did. She now displays all answers in English."
"Wow! That's so cool!"
Well, I'm excited by the possibilities of this. Why are they all looking at me like that?
"Hey, it could be a great help to us," I complain. They're all trying not to laugh at me. Rotters.
"Sure it's going to be," Jack soothes. Then he does that thing he's taken to doing when speaking to the ship. He looks around the room, then he smiles softly and speaks gently.
"Hey Gimli, this is great. I'm not sure how you've started to do this or even why, but you can be sure that we're all going to appreciate it very much. So, thank you."
'You are welcome'
Wow. She does 'speak'. I'm just about to open my mouth when I hear, "Down Carter! Don't go bothering her right now, she's watching over Daniel."
I just smack Jack in return. There are days when I'm so glad I'm not in the Air Force anymore.
Daniel's back on the ship, his face is grim.
"How's Arawn?" Jack asks.
Daniel, for reasons known only to himself, slumps to the floor and sits. We really need to bring some chairs or cushions onto the bridge...
"Not good," we hear from somewhere in the vicinity of his knees. Then he looks up. "Even Thor isn't too hopeful."
He shakes his head sadly, as if he knows he's going to lose another friend.
"They made a real mess of him. His skin is torn to shreds, his bones are broken... Thor said that his only real hope of the pod fixing him is if his internal organs are more or less intact. If they're not, then only the healing device will work. His own one is more attuned to Asgard physiology, of course, and so while it can fix some stuff - the more, uh, generic body parts, I guess, like bones and skin - it's not really designed to do the more intricate stuff."
"It got rid of your 'flu," I remind him.
"It was a cold," he corrects. "And viruses are apparently common throughout the galaxy. I actually questioned Thor about it when we were putting Arawn into the pod. No matter how the viruses end up, either physically or in their nature, uh, whether they're based on DNA or RNA or however it is they differ, there's a particularly basic, even fundamental quality to them all, which the pod can recognise and it's how it destroys them.
"But, he was saying, Asgard DNA isn't the same as human, for example. They have a similar basic skeleton, a similar type of skin, in that it's also considered to be an organ, but internally, their cellular structure for things like blood and so on is quite different."
"So it all depends on how 'superficial', I guess, the injuries are?"
"In the sense of superficial being the extremities and bones, yes - kind of like putting a bandage on or plastering a broken bone, I guess. It's effectively a 'superficial' treatment that he can give. If it's more complicated, though, like the Earth equivalent of intricate brain surgery, then Thor's not sure what good his machine will do."
"With any luck, it'll just be what can be fixed," I try.
It's got to be. Arawn's one of the most decent guys we've met out here in this big, bad universe. I don't want it coming up short one good guy. Another good guy, that is.
"If not," I continue, "I'm sure that even if the pod just staunches bleeding by fixing the skin, and maybe heals his bones, that's got to give his body at least a chance of holding on for about an hour until we can get him to his own machine."
And now, the necessity of returning that machine to the Tuatha is really striking home with us. When that greedy creep... well, knifed himself, really, I wasn't too upset by the thought that the machine wasn't there to fix him. He'd brought it on himself after all. But that machine has done much good for us; we understand its value better than most.
It's only now, however, that we're starting to understand its priceless nature to the Tuatha. The sooner the Tok'ra can build a replacement, the better.
Unfortunately, that means we have to get rid of the Replicators sooner rather than later. At least the ones on this planet. According to Daniel's frantic explanation when we arrived, they're 'eating' one of the main ingredients to it. Hmm, I have a thought.
"Daniel, you said that the metal couldn't be broken, right?"
He looks up at me, quite bewildered by my apparent diversion.
"Uh, that's what Ogmius said. Well, he actually said the 'swords never break'."
"So, either it's an important component in the machine because of its strength, or..."
"Or?" Kar Shel asks.
Which makes me jump. He was standing behind me. And in common with Teal'c, he doesn't say much. In fact, he's even quieter as a rule, so when he does speak, it usually scares the life out of us.
"Or it's a part of the healing process itself. The cell regeneration."
I get that out quickly and try to hide the fact that my heart is now racing.
Sam's just 'done a Daniel'. That's quite some lateral thinking for her.
"How could a metal regenerate cells?" I ask.
She shrugs, sighs, then says, "How does any of the weird stuff we know to happen actually happen? I've gone past worrying about the laws of physics these days. It seems that one half of the universe happily obeys them, while the other half is like the science equivalent of an organised crime cell. It just blithely does what it bloody well likes!"
I can't help it, I laugh. There was a time, not so long ago, when she'd have argued long and hard against the possibility that a mere metal could do anything, let alone heal people.
We all turn to look at Daniel. He must have had a smack on the head again. It's pretty normal with him. Knock his brain and something weird spills out. What's worse is that it's usually somewhere on the right track.
"Uh, cauldron?" John asks.
"Yes!" It's DJ's turn to get all excited now. "In Celtic history, mythology... Actually, these days I'm not so sure which is which..."
"DJ! Cauldron!" John barks.
Tee hee - sounds like me and Daniel.
"The cauldron of plenty. It's always full of food," Daniel puts in. "There's more than one story relating to such an item."
"And this is connected, how?" I ask.
"Don't you see? Even if the cauldron never existed, something must have done so to create so many myths. They're not restricted to Ireland and Wales, either. Similar stories are found throughout the Celtic world."
He stops, as if he's just remembered something which has interrupted his stream of conscious. Like that doesn't happen on a daily basis...
"The Greeks had something along these lines, too. The cornucopia - the horn of plenty."
He scowls as he says, "It was either, depending on the source, presented to the nymph Amalthaea by Zeus or the other way round."
"You think he's gotten something made of this metal?" I ask in horror.
He just shrugs. "Maybe. The cornucopia doesn't have an identical story, it's just a similar one." Then he shrugs again and gets back to his original thought.
"There's something in Viking mythology, too. Thor had two goats: Tanngnjost and Tanngrisnir, who could be killed to be eaten, and then resurrected when he waved his hammer over their skins as a blessing.
"One story says how he shared a meal with a peasant boy, but told him not to break the bones for the marrow, but as Thor slept, the boy forgot it and broke one of them. When Thor came back and resurrected the goats, he realised what had happened because one of them was lame."
"So?" I push. I don't really like halting his storytelling but we don't have much time here.
"There must be something in this. Celtic and Viking mythologies do have some connections. Some are tenuous, some are stronger: they even share some of the more ancient spirits. They were neighbours, after all. And we know that the Asgard and the Tuatha have been friends for a very, very long time. They may have shared this technology, element, whatever."
"You reckon there's something which can regrow food?" I try.
"Food? Maybe. But isn't all food cellular? And if that's the case, perhaps there's a connection with the regeneration of the cells in the machine."
"This metal is capable of doing that?" Teal'c asks.
"Don't know. But we can find out. However, we can only do that once we've gotten rid of the Replicators."
"How are we going to do that?" I ask. "I mean, if this metal can't be broken..."
Daniel puts his hand up to stop me.
"Ogmius said that their smiths could make things from it, which means it has to be processed, right?"
"He also said it could be melted down. It has to be or else they couldn't make anything from it, could they? So I asked him to prepare his smiths to create a large fire and he agreed to it. Not that they're doing it in sight of the Replicators," he adds quite firmly.
"How are we going to get these creatures in the fire?" John asks. I was just about to ask that, too.
"Aren't they going to create a shield of some sort to protect themselves?" Frankie asks, just as Sam opens her mouth.
I'm thinking we're too much on the same wavelength these days.
"Uh, well, I hadn't worked out all the details," Daniel admits. "I was just thinking on my feet. But it just struck me, we can't let them leave the planet. If they do, destroying them is going to be nigh on impossible. So somehow, we have to destroy them now, before they get a chance to move."
Sam's thinking. I can tell, she's frowning. Then I see the light bulb go on.
"I was wondering what they'd want this metal for," she says. "What if they're just creating specific types of Replicator to go inside their other ships to protect certain parts, like the engines, shields, and so on?"
"Oh hell," DJ mutters. "If they manage that, they'll never be destroyed! Daniel's right, we can't let them leave. But we can't just blow up the planet this time, like Thor did with the moon."
"So?" I push. "How's it going to work?"
There's silence for a few moments then Teal'c speaks.
"We will need to push them into a situation in which they feel threatened. That way, they are more likely to band together. When they are all in one place, moving them with the transporter into the fire should be easier."
"If they're together, they'll use their shields to protect themselves. I mean, surely they'll have worked out a way to do that, won't they?" Daniel replies.
"The feedback!" Frankie calls out. "This time we can get down onto the planet, get pretty close, at least compared to last time, and work out their frequency. Then we transport them, blast them with the feedback and that should have the same effect as before."
"How are we going to get so close?" I ask in horror.
A sense of dread settles in me when I feel Daniel's hand on my shoulder.
"I'll do it," he says.
"No. Absolutely n..." I only stop because he's put his hand over my mouth.
O'Neill is frantic but Daniel would seem to have a sense of destiny at this moment. His face is calm and composed and he is showing no fear. The only thing that is annoying him at the moment is O'Neill who is desperately trying to speak.
"Jack, listen to me. Let me finish, then you can have your say."
Eventually we see O'Neill's body relax a little. He has relented for the moment, but I am certain he shall say his piece at the end.
"We don't know what's happened to me," Daniel starts.
"Uh, sorry to interrupt," Samantha puts in. "You've had your abilities increased and you have some telekinetic powers, but you don't seem to have any physical improvements."
Daniel frowns slightly, as if he were expecting some other answer. I wonder why?
"Let me rephrase it," he tries again. "We don't know how far my new abilities extend. I think I can at least stop someone getting too close to me."
"Think?!" O'Neill barks.
"What happened to that guy when he pulled a knife on me?" Daniel asks quietly. "I didn't touch him."
"But did that work because he was a living being?" I ask. "The Replicators are but machines."
"Hey!" John shouts. "What's with the 'but'?"
It takes me a moment to realise what I have said and I bow in apology.
"I am sorry. I did not mean it like that, neither did I think of you. It is quite obvious that you and the others are anything but machines. I consider you to be living beings; as do we all," I add, pointing to my own team.
"That's all right, Teal'c," DJ says. "We knew what you meant." Then he frowns at John as if to tell him off. I should be careful how I phrase such things in future.
However, this mistake of mine would seem to have given Daniel an idea.
"Go on. See if you can. When I give the word, okay?"
"But I'll hurt you!"
"This is what I want to find out. Um, you don't need to try too hard." Daniel's voice rises slightly at that as if to ask DJ to restrain from using all his force.
"If you think so..."
"Yeah. Give me a moment then when I nod my head, hit me."
"Wherever. Somewhere it won't hurt too much if you do manage it," Daniel tries with a smile.
He stands calmly, shuts his eyes, and from the look of anxiety on O'Neill's face I believe that Daniel is letting down all of his barriers. This is a state of being that none of my human companions like to be in at all as they fear that they shall never recover from it. Eventually, we see him open his eyes and nod.
Shaking his own head, DJ raises his hand and attempts to smack Daniel's arm. To our surprise - although why we are still surprised by such things, I do not know - DJ's hand just bounces back before it makes contact.
"I'm going to shut my eyes this time," Daniel states very sedately. "This time I want one of MIB - it doesn't matter who - to really go for it. I don't want to know when, where, whom, or how hard, okay?"
No one answers. None of MIB seem willing to try this, but they must. It will help Daniel learn about his own abilities. This in turn may well help us all. Eventually, with Daniel's eyes shut, Frankie lashes out as quickly as she can - a speed which is far quicker than any one of MIA could manage. She is also aiming for his arm, but yet again, she is repelled.
"Wow," Samantha whispers.
Daniel opens his eyes, looks around and smiles almost sadly. It is as if his new-found abilities have upset him somehow. Perhaps he feels less human? I do not know.
"Daniel. Do you think this technique will work against the Replicators?" I ask.
"I don't know for certain. All I know is that if you three go down, they'll try to kill you like they did with Arawn. If MIB go down... God only knows what they could do with the information they would glean from such advanced technology."
With that he looks at John, specifically, as if in apology for saying it. He is correct, however. Such superior android technology might make the Replicators even more of a threat than they already are. John understands and he nods back to say so.
"I stand the best chance of getting close and staying unharmed," he finishes with a small shrug. "I'll take a scanner, get as close as I can, preferably without being seen as I don't want them to know that we're here, then I'll take as many readings as I can."
His face suddenly tells us that he's thought of something else.
"Uh, Sam. Remember the subspace comms thing we talked about before?"
"Which one?" she asks.
"Regarding different groups of Replicators communicating over vast distances."
"Oh, sure. Thor said his engineers were working on it."
"Yeah, well, perhaps now would be a great chance to find out if it's the case."
"What do you mean, Daniel?" Frankie asks.
"Gut feeling says that they're not building a ship, at least not in totality, out of this metal. They're only going to use it in parts, probably because being at the higher end of the atomic spectrum, it's going to be difficult for them to get a hold of. You've explained why it would be a rare element because of its size. This means that they must be in a position to call to one other group at the very least when they've taken everything they can from here."
"Then the others come back and they can start to share out the various ingredients," Samantha states, seeing where he is going with this.
"We need to listen in and soon," DJ says. "At the rate they're replicating, they'll be wanting to leave before long."
"Get in touch with Thor and see how Arawn's doing," O'Neill says. "Maybe his engineers have already come up with a plan."
Let us hope so.