Chapter 6 - "In vino veritas"
In the evening, S.G.-1 were invited to an impromptu dinner party where they were to meet several more of the Simbouloi, or Councillors. Before the event, they managed to snatch a few minutes together to exchange information. Jack and Teal'c had been more impressed with the fine defensive site of the citadel complex above Mantinea than with its classical beauty.
"Are you sure they don't have any military capability, Daniel?" Jack asked.
"Pretty sure, yes. The Furlings set them up here when they first arrived. I guess they picked the safest place in case there were any problems before the Arcadians were fully established on this planet. Since then, they built their capital city at the base of the cliff and don't visit the original settlement much except for ceremonial occasions. They rely totally on the Furlings for their defence."
"On the plus side, Sir," Sam put in, "we could learn a great deal from them medically. I think Janet should be included in the next mission."
"Okay. So noted and thanks, both of ya."
Another tunic-clad youth came to escort S.G.-1 into the dining chamber, putting an end to further discussion.
The circular room was upstairs above the reception hall where they had waited earlier. White-walled like everywhere else, it had a polished wooden floor that had a traditional Greek 'key' design of different colored woods set into it around its margins. The rest of the floor around the central dining table was decorated, marquetry-style, with pictures of what Daniel recognized as the labors of Heracles. Even Jack was impressed.
Long drapes in stripes of greens, white and gold covered the windows. The same material had been used to upholster the chairs. The large round table, a sign of the egalitarian society, was equipped with a rotating 'Lazy Susan'. This was spread with fruits, pastries and cakes, much like their earlier meal, but the varieties and quantities were much greater. There was still no food of animal origin though. The Arcadians really did live in harmony with nature.
As well as the Arcadians that S.G.-1 had already met, there were three others making the company ten in all. Athnasia, who had lighter colored hair than the rest - glossy mahogany-colored curls - could be described as their Minister of Health. She was placed between Jack and Teal'c, who had Zephra to his left.
Next to Zephra sat Verenos, Minister for Gaia-Koree, then Ilarion, the Minister of Culture. Daniel, next along, was seated beside Demris, followed by Sam, with Leandros completing the circle.
Despite the absence of what the warriors privately considered 'proper food', the meal was very pleasant, washed down as it was by copious amounts of fine wine. This was another Arcadian forte, and one which Daniel and Sam made mental notes to recommend in further trading negotiations.
Once the edge had been taken off the diners' appetites, conversation began to develop, helped out by much creative waving of hands and ably assisted by the wine. Nothing like alcohol for lowering one's embarrassment threshold...
"I hear you're good at medicine - er, fixing people's health and stuff," Jack commented to Athnasia. Pointing to the affected joint he went on, "I have this little A.C.L. problem in my knee. Any chance you can fix it?"
"We can indeed - er - 'fix it' for thee. Demris has already noted this in thy exetassy. That is when we made sure you do not bring sickness to Arcadia. We would haff 'fixt it' then, but thou wert asleep. We do not fix things until we have thy lairf."
"Lairf? I guess that means permission," Jack said, resisting the urge to play dumb. "I don't recall giving my 'lairf' for your - erm - 'ecstasy?' though..."
"It is not harmful," Athnasia reassured him, "and it is easier when the man is asleep."
It made sense, he supposed - Doctor Fraiser took blood samples from alien visitors when necessary - but it gave him a bit of a creepy feeling all the same.
Sam was busy picking Leandros's brain as well as she could about what sources of power the Arcadians used. The ceilings, for instance, gave out a gentle radiant glow which grew almost imperceptibly as the sun set, maintaining the light at a comfortable ambient level.
For heating, it seemed that they used a similar sort of underfloor heating system to the Romans on Earth, but what provided the heat was uncertain. Even if the words existed in their second language to explain it - which was doubtful - Leandros wasn't a scientist. The Furlings came and did things which he didn't understand, then went away again leaving them with some new appliance other.
Sam felt she'd give her eye teeth for half an hour alone with one of the Furlings...
"This reminds me of the first time I went through the stone ring," Daniel was saying to Demris. "The place was called Abydos. I knew the form - um - shape of their words but not the sounds. At first, we had to use our hands to talk."
He looked around the table, grinning at the antics of both S.G.-1 and the Arcadians alike. His eyes lingered on Jack who seemed to getting well into the swing of it, rather surprisingly. Demris followed his gaze.
Suddenly becoming aware of her interest, he continued smoothly, "Jack was there too. It was over four years ago before we met Sam and Teal'c."
"So ye are very good friends?"
"Yes, we are."
"But I feel your time in Abydos has both sweet and bitter memories for thee?"
Daniel gave Demris a sad little smile and began a brief account of his unexpected marriage to Sha're, her being taken as a host, and finally her death.
"It was that same Teal'c," Demris asked, nodding across the table, "who first took thy wife and then killed her?"
"Ah - yes. But it wasn't that simple - arnfeald," Daniel said, thinking he'd need more than one dinner party to explain.
"And yet, I feel thy forgiveness. Thou art a great man, Daniel."
For his part, Teal'c was educating Zephra in the ways of the goa'uld and the Jaffa so that they would know what they were dealing with if the worst ever came to the worst. He tactfully refrained from producing his symbiote at the dinner table. If a fearless warrior like Jack O'Neill turned a little green at the sight of Junior, he figured the elegant lady to his left might display even greater revulsion.
Although... She was a medic. He arranged to complete her education in the subject on the following day.
Meanwhile, under the influence of Arcadian wine and with a little sympathetic prompting from Athnasia, Jack had been opening his heart to her.
"Great pain lives inside thee," she had begun.
"My back's crocked as well as my knee," he said grimacing and pointing to the afflicted area.
"There is something else," she persisted. "I feel pain that was once of the body. Though it is no more, pain stays within thee."
"But it was years ago," he protested initially.
"Yet still it troubles thee..."
Seeing the interested concern in her eyes, he capitulated. "I was tortured - um - bad men hurt me when I was a prisoner. Erm, in the hands of my enemies? Foes?"
"I ken what thou sayst."
"But that was long ago, now. It doesn't bother me any more."
"Not in the day maybe. What of the night?"
"Oh, you're good," Jack grinned wryly. "Yes, I still get nightmares sometimes - bad dreams - but not often."
"Then there is something else. A deeper pain - sorrow - yet lives within..."
So Jack told her about Charlie.
"And thou still feelst the need of someone to care for," came the compassionate response.
He thought about it - thought about Cassie - thought about Merrin, about Charlie the Rheetou child, about Skaara...
"Yeah, I guess," he agreed.
" Thou willst another child?" Athnasia asked, a little tactlessly Jack thought.
"I'd be too scared of messing up again. Couldn't bear losing another son," he said with a wistful look on his face. "Besides, it'll never happen. I no longer have a wife."
"What of Daniel?"
"I feel the love thou hast for him."
"We're just good friends," Jack said tersely, feeling that the room temperature had suddenly increased by several degrees.
"I see," Athnasia replied with a gentle smile.
"Look, could we just drop the subject... stop talking about me? Please."
Oblivious of her C.O.'s discomfort, Sam had also moved on to discuss medical matters with Leandros. She had a friend, she told him, who was a doctor. She felt sure Janet would love to meet the Arcadians and learn more about healing from them. Leandros graciously expressed a wish to meet her healer friend, so it was agreed they would make arrangements for a further visit on the morrow.
An unwelcome thought struck her.
"Will we get 'zatted' next time we come through the stone ring?" she asked, miming the experience.
"We cannot stop it," Leandros replied apologetically.
Sam thought about asking if she could tinker with the equipment and maybe find a way to turn it off. Then she thought about Cimmeria and the awful disaster that befell their friends there as a result of destroying Thor's hammer.
"Guess we'll just have to put up with it then," she said with a bright smile.
"We will ask Fjörl's folc for help when next they come."
Demris and Daniel were still talking about Abydos. Daniel spoke of his satisfaction at rescuing Sha're's brother, Skaara, of delivering Sha're's child and how he had made a promise to Sha're to find him when she died.
"Even though he is not thy child?"
"Even so. A promise is still a promise - ah, an oath, that is. And I did find him. He is safe now."
"Thou hast no children of thine own, I think?"
Daniel was silent for a moment, his gaze unfocused.
"No," he said reluctantly. "It seemed we had all the time in the world. We were happy in each other. Now I regret very much that I have nothing left of her."
He looked across at Jack and caught a pained expression on his face. It made him think of the suicidal Jack he'd first met, and of Charlie, and he wondered which was worse - or better? - never to have had a child or to have one and lose him. Was the pain of loss counterbalanced by the memories of the good times, or did the knowledge of what lay in the future fill those memories with too much sadness?
A burst of laughter from his right dragged his attention back to the present. Ilarion and Verenos, who both looked to be in their mid-thirties but were probably much older, had been helping themselves from the various flagons with gusto. As a result, they were becoming overtly amorous, Ilarion especially. Daniel had already had him pegged as a bit of a live wire.
"They are handfasted ," Demris explained.
"Thou art bedazed, Daniel?"
"Ah, just a little surprised - er - yes, bedazed I guess, though I don't know why I should be," Daniel responded.
The ancient Greeks were legendary for their acceptance of homosexuality. How much more repressive was the time and country in which he lived!
"Because Jack is thy yemacca?" Demris asked, misreading his emotions for once.
"Wh what? No!" Daniel exclaimed.
"Thou art shy?" Daniel cracked out laughing.
"Then ye are plighted?" she asked, digging the hole a little deeper.
Daniel gave a rueful chuckle. "Men are only handfasted with women in my land," he explained.
"Why, when ye love each other?"
Daniel, who'd just taken a mouthful from his goblet, choked. He managed not to spray it across the table, but couldn't stop some of it going down his nose - painfully. Hearing the sound of coughing and spluttering, Jack looked across at him, part amused and part concerned. He was bound to ask the cause later on. Damn!
Chapter 7 - in which Jack embarrasses himself
The party broke up shortly after. One of the youths who had waited at table was charged with taking Teal'c to the guest chamber assigned to him while Demris went off with Sam. Jack and Daniel found themselves in the care of Ilarion and Verenos, who decided to stay a while and finish emptying the flagons.
The conversation of the two Arcadian ministers became extremely risqué once the rest of the party had gone their separate ways, and left little to the imagination - or at least, little to Daniel's imagination.
"Come, we will take you to your bedbyur," announced Verenos, the senior of the pair,"and we will away to ours, my swass Ilarion."
"Yes, we would not keep you two little friyen-fuglas from your woonlust!" Ilarion said with a fruity chuckle, adding with appropriate gestures, "but please - do not bring the hrof down with your hartheort restyemarna when thou pooniast into thy wilyeseethe, Daniel!"
"Minister of Culture? Yeah, right!" Daniel muttered under his breath as they left the dining room with their hosts.
"Wha'? What's he sayin'?" Jack asked. His eyes were a little unfocused but the slurring of his speech was minimal.
"Trust me, Jack, you do not want to know," Daniel said drily.
"Yes, 'do," came the contradictory retort.
"Ri-ight. Then I'll tell you later, when you're a little more sober - if you still want to know" ~ and when I've thought of a more socially acceptable translation, he thought.
"Want to know now."
Daniel sighed. "Oh well, if you must. They're, um - they're ah... just wishing us a pleasant night's - er, rest - erm, a good night's sleep."
"Then why all th' myst'ry?"
"Look Jack, you really wouldn't be interested. It's just - linguist... stuff," Daniel said dismissively, hoping Jack would stay true to form and switch off.
"Hey, 'm interested!" Then again, while Jack would zone out during official briefings, he could be annoyingly and persistently nosy at other times...
"All right, Jack, you asked for it," Daniel growled. "Very basically - and paraphrasing - in words that even you can understand right now - Ilarion just asked us not to bring the roof down when I'm vigorously fucking your ass!"
He emphasized the last word by grabbing a handful of Jack's left buttock and squeezing it. Hard. Jack's howl of pain and surprise brought forth howls of laughter from Ilarion and Verenos.
"Well, you can explain to our teeny tyrant just how I got that bruise on my butt," Jack grumbled, then his remaining active brain cells registered precisely what Daniel had just said. "Fucking my ass?"
"You fell down after over-indulging at a dinner party." Daniel responded smoothly.
"Huh? Like you weren't putting it away like the rest of us!"
"Actually, Jack, I wasn't. Someone had to stay more or less sober in case we had to talk our way out of another Interplanetary Incident, and seeing as I'm the only linguist here, I figured it had to be me. So, I switched to fruit juice after the first glass - er, goblet."
"There was fruit juice...? And don't change the subject. Fucking..." Jack asked, and mouthed, "...my ass?"
"You heard correctly, Jack."
"You made that up, right?"
"Okay, I made it up. Happy now?"
"You didn't make it up, did ya?"
"No, I didn't."
Jack held Daniel back a moment so that their hosts got a little ahead of them, then asked, "What's with these guys?"
"Their ancestors came from Ancient Greece."
"And? So? Therefore?"
"You want me to give you some Greek lessons?"
"Hey, I could give you some Gr. Oh fuck! That's what you meant, isn't it?"
Daniel merely gave a smile by way of confirmation.
"They're gay, aren't they?" Jack asked unnecessarily. Daniel smiled again.
"And they're married."
"What?! No shit?"
"Totally shit free, Jack."
By now, they'd reached their room in the guest accommodation.
"And here we bid you god-niht, unless ye wish for a foursome?" Ilarion said with a nudge and a wink.
"Ah, no. Thank you," Daniel said with a slightly sheepish smile.
"An ye will," Ilarion replied, grinning at the two uptight Tau'ri. They went off, arm in arm, sharing a joke - probably at Jack and Daniel's expense. Jack entered the large airy chamber ahead of Daniel and stopped.
"Er, Daniel, where's the other bed?"
They both stared at the one large bed in the room.
"Well, we can't both sleep in it."
"Why not?" Daniel asked.
"You need to ask? I mean..." Jack waved his hand between the two of them,"...together...?"
"It wouldn't exactly be the first time, now would it?"
"Yes, but that's always been in a tent - in sleeping bags - in our underwear, which we don't currently have..."
"Except that night we slept over at Janet's, after her New Year party..."
"Oh, trust you to bring that up!"
"It wasn't the only thing that was 'up'- not to mention it was jammed between my butt cheeks!"
"Well, don't mention it then. It was only a pissing stand," Jack growled, and I said I was sorry. Several times over, in fact!"
"Yes, I remember," Daniel said softly with a reminiscent smile. "It was a good party, too."
"You bastard! You were winding me up!"
"Well, wouldn't you?" Daniel grinned.
Jack gave a sharp laugh. "Yeah, I guess. I just thought you might think I was wanting"
"To top?" Daniel sniggered.
"Oops," Daniel muttered, then, "Nothing, Jack. Let's just get washed and get into bed. It's big enough for all four of us, never mind just us two."
"Thank you for that image, Daniel."
There was an en suite bathroom behind a blue drape that had a watery pattern on it. They already knew that the Furlings had provided plumbing.
Daniel went through and yelled back, "All the comforts of home, Jack!"
As he returned a few minutes later, he was stripping off his tunic.
"What? It's not like you're seeing anything you haven't already seen many times already."
"Well, you might have given me a little warning, is all," Jack said, scooting into the bathroom before Daniel noticed the reaction he'd caused.
When he returned, Daniel was sprawled across his side of the bed on his stomach. He seemed almost asleep already. Jack removed his tunic and laid it across a chair beside the bed, then slid under the light quilt. He began the night as close to the edge of the bed as he could. When morning came, Daniel was laid on his side and Jack was plastered up behind him again.
"Hey, Snugglebum," Daniel grunted, elbowing his sleeping friend, "while this is better than being woken by a crowing cock, you might like to...?"
"Jack. Cock. Yours. Butt. Mine. You trying to tell me something?"
"Ugh? Wha'? ......Ack!" and Jack scrabbled over to the far side of the bed again.
"It's okay, Jack," Daniel said sleepily. "I won't tell, so no one's going to know."
Jack groaned. "I wouldn't be so sure about that," he muttered.
Jack didn't answer. He just waited for Daniel to register the aroma. It took a moment. Then Daniel sat up sharply, winced at the daylight spilling through the gauzy drapes at the window, and looked around. On a side table was a tray of foodstuffs and a large pot of what smelled remarkably like freshly brewed coffee.
The pair looked at each other. Daniel thought for a moment, then said, "Actually, it probably won't be a problem. They must be used to that sort of thing here."
"What sort of thing?" Jack asked sharply.
"Seeing a couple of guys"
"Totally naked guys..."
"snuggling up together in bed. They don't have any hang-ups about it," Daniel said, adding sotto voce, "unlike some."
"Suppose they say something to Teal'c or Carter? You know, make some kind of racy remark."
"Then we'll just have to play it by ear, Jack."
Chapter 8 - in which Daniel is shocked
Fortunately, the most likely offenders, Verenos and Ilarion, were nowhere around, though Jack noticed one youth looking at him in a way that could only be described as 'eyeing him up'. However, Daniel's assessment of the situation appeared to be correct as nothing untoward was said.
After a further short meeting with Leandros to arrange for a Tau'ri delegation to discuss terms of trade, arrangements were made for the correction of Jack's health problems. This was to take place at the Kirios Kliniki, the principal medical center in Mantinea. The time was set for mid-afternoon as Demris needed to return to her own kliniki to collect Jack's records and other things.
Jack officially gave his 'lairf' for the treatment which would take several hours with a kind of post-operative check the following day.
"And thou, Daniel?" Demris said. "Art thou also willan?"
"Willing?" he asked, a little bemused at having his opinion canvassed. "If it makes Jack a little less cranky, I'm more than willing!"
Sam drove back with Demris to make a sit. rep. to General Hammond. He seemed pleased with their mission and approved the extension of the mission for Jack's treatment. If successful, he hoped it would enable S.G.-1's C.O. to continue in his current capacity for some years more than had been anticipated. The downside was that General Hammond would have to suffer yet more of Colonel O'Neill's 'wacky' sense of humor...
O'Neill himself was spending the morning in a side ward of the Mantinean medical complex to rest up for the afternoon's treatment. Teal'c had gone with him to liaise with Zephra on the subject of the Jaffa and their symbiotes.
"Liaise, Teal'c?" Jack asked suspiciously.
"Indeed, O'Neill. She wishes to see my symbiote."
"Makes a change from etchings I suppose," Jack said with a suggestive smirk, "though somehow, I don't see Junior as an aid to romance."
Teal'c regarded him with an uncomprehending stare.
"Er, never mind. Daniel, you coming with?"
"Um, no. I think one gooseberry will be enough," Daniel grinned.
"So I thought I might have a look around the city if that's all right with Leandros."
"Okay, don't get lost, Daniel."
The archaeologist flipped him the bird then went off in search of the Archisimboulos. On the way, he met Ilarion.
"Is the hrof still yesund?" asked the Minister of Culture with a sly look.
"Ah, yes, the roof's still sound," Daniel said smoothly and got a pitying look in return. "So where's Verenos this morning?"
"He has the sickness," Ilarion replied wryly.
"Well, I can't say I'm surprised - besyrwa. You both drank a lot!"
"I did, but Verenos drank wineberry water, not wine - for the good of our daughter..."
Before Daniel had time to wonder about the two men having a daughter, Ilarion deprived him of his power of speech entirely. With a slightly sappy look, he said, "Yes. Verenos is with child."
There was a long pause, much to Ilarion's amusement.
"Daniel, thou lookst like a fish!"
"I - I - I'm sorry, I thought you said Verenos is... 'with child'...?"
"I did. We are so lucky to haff been chosen this time," Ilarion beamed. "We have named her Eleni, because she will light up our lives."
Just as Daniel began to think that he'd misunderstood, and that the two men were foster parents to an existing child, like Janet with Cassie, Ilarion removed all doubt.
"She will be brought forth at the birth of the year when the days here begin to grow longer."
"Oh," was all Daniel could find to say.
His apparently boundless curiosity seemed to have hit a brick wall. Sure, he'd delivered a couple of three - children. The experiences had been awesome and the end product almost miraculous, but he really didn't care to think about what it was like for the mother - months of discomfort and inconvenience followed by many hours of severe pain. Yes, then it seemed that women really were the stronger sex. He tried to imagine it happening to himself. And failed. His mind simply wouldn't go there.
"Daniel?" Ilarion was saying, "Daniel? Art thou not well?"
"Um, no. Uh, I mean yes. I'm - I'm fine. Really."
"Good, for thou art alone. Where are thy friends?"
Daniel explained and said he was looking for Leandros to ask for leave to look around the city.
"It will be mortan," Ilarion assured him. "As 'Kooltoora Eepoorhos', I will show thee our comely burgstead."
So Daniel spent a pleasant morning touring the fair city of Mantinea with the Arcadian Culture Minister who, in the absence of wine, proved to be a charming and informative companion. He even refrained from the earlier smutty innuendo, presumably having sensed Daniel's discomfort with it.
Their return to the Megaron coincided with the arrival of Sam and Demris. Teal'c returned shortly afterwards with the news that O'Neill was comfortably settled in, though protesting the lack of food. Ilarion took them to a small private chamber for a quiet lunch and then tactfully withdrew.
After they had eaten, Sam presided over a short debriefing session before they were summoned to the main audience chamber of the Megaron to open negotiations with Leandros at a full council meeting. For once these went very smoothly, possibly owing to the absence the one with the big honkin' gun fixation, and Daniel had high hopes for a fruitful alliance. The medical possibilities alone were extremely promising.
After the meeting was adjourned for the day, Daniel, Sam and Teal'c went back to the private chamber to await the return of their leader. When he did appear, he was being pushed in a wickerwork wheelchair by Demris and wearing a sour look. Daniel's first thought put the look down to pain. The second, following rapidly on its heels, was that Jack was well ticked off by being obliged to travel in a wheelchair and not being able to whinge about it, as he undoubtedly would have done back home. Daniel grinned.
"Glad you think it's funny, Daniel," Jack grunted.
Unable to repress the grin entirely, Daniel turned to Demris. "Ah, how did the - um - the healing go?"
"It went well, Daniel. Jack must not walk yet. We must look again tomorrow. Now I will send you food."
"How do you feel, O'Neill?" Teal'c was asking.
"Fine. I feel fine. Never better actually. Too well to be driving around in this chariot."
"Well there must be a good reason for it," Sam pointed out.
"I'm sure there is, Carter, which is why I'm sitting in the damn' thing."
"Oops. Sorry sir," Sam replied biting her lip to conceal a grin.
On the following day, Jack had the Arcadian equivalent of a post-operative check and was pronounced fit. He was also requested to return in six week's time for a further check-up. With much goodwill on both sides, S.G.-1 bid Leandros farewell and then were driven back with Zephra and Demris to their kliniki to collect their belongings.
Although they were unaware of it at the time, the kliniki was only a few hundred yards from the Stargate, but well concealed by the woodland surrounding both the 'Gate and the kliniki. Jack was therefore allowed to walk to the 'Gate. He was warned to keep to gentle but regular exercise for the next week. After that, unless there were any problems, he could return to normal working.
Chapter 9 - in which Sam offers Teal'c comfort and cookies
General Hammond, as always, was awaiting the team's return.
"Welcome home, S.G.-1," he greeted them, "and well done! Now report to the infirmary first. Doctor Fraiser is very keen to have a look at you, especially you, Colonel."
"Ah, my favorite part of any mission," Jack said, rolling his eyes.
Hammond grinned. "We'll debrief at 1400."
"General, if S.G.-9 are here, Major Kovacek might like to sit in, since he'll be leading trade negotiations," Daniel suggested, "and Doctor Fraiser, too."
"Good idea, Doctor Jackson. I'll see you all after lunch."
Doctor Fraiser was indeed very keen to get a look at the new improved Colonel O'Neill and subjected him to a number of tests, too many of which seemed to require needles.
"Ya know, Doc.," Jack remarked as the four were finally cleared, "you ought seriously to consider a training course with those Cardassians"
"Arcadians, Jack," Daniel said with only mild exasperation.
"The Cardassains are a technologically advanced race of humanoid villains from the Tau'ri 'Star Trek' adventures, O'Neill," Teal'c stated, adding severely, "as you well know."
"Whatever. They fixed me up real good, and - this is the point" Jack said with a significant look at Janet, "I never felt a thing! Gotta love those guys for that."
"Well, Colonel, they've certainly done a fantastic job on your knee. It really does look like new, or at least like that of someone less than half your age - your back, too. You're even looking better."
"Know what," Jack replied thoughtfully, "I feel better too."
One drawback to the light duties required by the Arcadians was that it left Jack with little to do except catch up with his paperwork. Consequently, he was almost glad when a Tok'ra arrived with a box of tricks. Almost.
While he wasn't too keen to act as a human guinea pig for Anise and her Attaneek armbands, the thought of increased speed and strength on top of his recent repairs was attractive proposition - which was more than he could say for Anise... Move over, Clark Kent!
It took a while for the armbands to have an effect, but when they did, it was euphoric - addictive even. Janet was extremely worried. She and Anise circled each other like a couple of rottweilers, all flashing eyes and angry skirmishing over the safety or otherwise of the armbands.
When General Hammond sided with Doctor Fraiser and decided to suspend the tests, the three guinea pigs were on the verge of mutiny. Their joy, when the armbands resisted all attempts to remove them only heightened Janet's concern.
However, the armbands proved to be nothing but trouble, as Daniel had shrewdly anticipated the moment Anise had stepped out of the wormhole. Not only were they barred from their favourite eating place, but, when the armbands unexpectedly fell off at the least convenient moment, they almost lost their lives. Hammond had a few sharp words to say to Anise before she and her companion departed. She appeared slightly chastened but the General had no expectation of its lasting.
Janet refused to declare the three fit for active duty for nearly a week to ensure that there were no after effects from the virus introduced by the armbands. Sam and Daniel made good use of the time in doing a little interesting research, Teal'c went to the Land of Light to visit his family, and Jack, having finished his paperwork, went not so quietly nuts...
Jack was surprised and pleased when Teal'c returned earlier than anticipated. So was Sergeant Siler. Fending off offers of assistance from the base's 2IC was not easy. It was also holding up his work. That Siler was his current target suggested that he'd already been sent on his way by Doctor Jackson, Major Carter and most of the other higher ranking officers and was now down to N.C.O.s.
"Hey, T!" Jack exclaimed as Teal'c strode down the ramp, "Great to have you ba"
He tailed off as the Jaffa brushed past him without apparently noticing his presence. Presumably the visit had not gone well. Siler breathed a sigh of relief as O'Neill followed his team member out of the 'Gate Room, leaving him to catch up with his work.
Teal'c was in a monumental sulk for the rest of the week, mostly keeping to his room and refusing to discuss the matter. The unexpected arrival of what was clearly an old flame set alarm bells jangling. Sam began to feel that she was living in a soap opera and that it would all end in tears - which it did, leaving Teal'c both homicidal and frustrated.
Much concerned, Sam knocked at the door of Teal'c's quarters.
"Teal'c, it's me, Sam. May I come in?"
"Go away, woman!"
"No, I won't, Teal'c. You need to talk."
"I do not."
"Yes. You do. And I'm not going away so you might as well open this door."
Teal'c opened the door with a deep scowl on his face. "Say what you have to and be gone."
"It's normally our custom to get roaring drunk on these occasions, but you don't drink and we're on base so I brought you some cookies. Ah-ah - you have to let me in first."
"Very well, Samantha. I can see that, like Drey'auc, you treat my wishes with disdain."
Treating that as an invitation, she squeezed past him and into the candle-lit room.
"Teal'c, I am so, so sorry about Shan'auc."
"As am I, MajorCarter, as am I," he replied sadly, tears standing in his eyes yet not falling, "and I have failed her."
"No, you did all you could."
"I did not. Tanith still lives. I should have torn him limb from limb to avenge her!"
"But if you had, Shan'auc really would have died in vain."
Teal'c thought about for a while. "Disinformation..." he said at last.
"Yes, Teal'c. You know that even if you don't feel it right now. Because of Shan'auc's... sacrifice, many may live who would have died. And - and that disinformation which the Tok'ra feed Tanith could bring about the downfall of the goa'uld - or at least be the pebble that starts the landslide. Isn't that a fitting tribute to her memory?"
"You speak wisely, Samantha, but it does not make me feel her loss any less deeply."
"No - no, I don't suppose it does. You have to grieve, I know that..." She put a comforting arm around him, and rather to her surprise, Teal'c cried. "Why don't you tell me about her?" she asked.
Little by little, he told her of Shan'auc, who and what she was, and of how they became friends and later lovers before circumstances pulled them apart. A further prompt from Sam led on to his argument with Drey'auc over her raising of Rya'c. When he finally wound down from expressing his anger about that, they were both surprised to find that nearly an hour had passed since Sam arrived bearing cookies.
"Must be a record for you," she grinned.
"Indeed, Samantha, and I thank you," he replied with the ghost of a smile. "You were correct. I do feel a little better."
Chapter 10 - which begins in disorder and ends in disarray
During the following week, S.G.-1 went on two missions back to back. They were allegedly standard recon. missions, which as per usual did not go entirely to plan. The first involved negotiating something like a ha-ha, the kind of sunken fence around an English stately home designed to keep out the peasants without obscuring the noble owner's view. The vertical drop in this case was a hundred foot cliff invisible from the Stargate platform.
"In future, Major, we will be sending a U.A.V. before every mission to a new planet," O'Neill grunted as they were half-way back up the cliff.
The second mission involved a headlong dash to the 'Gate pursued by bearded, bare-chested painted warriors like something from 'Braveheart'.
"What did I say about sending a U.A.V. before every mission, Carter?" Jack gasped as Daniel punched in the 'Gate address and G.D.O. code.
"Sorry, sir," Sam panted, "we didn't have one ready in time."
"And who's idea was it, O'Neill..." Teal'c growled, leaping to Sam's defence,
"...to squeeze in this extra mission?" he concluded on the other side of the wormhole.
"Well, Colonel," Doctor Fraiser said after the usual barrage of tests, "I'm happy to say that your back and knee are absolutely normal. There's no sign of injury past or present, so I'm giving you a clean bill of health."
"Great! So I won't be needing to go back to Arabica"
"Arcadia - and yes you will. If you don't book it into your schedule for next week, I will."
"What for? You said yourself I'm fine."
"Colonel, do you have any problems about your treatment by the Arcadians?"
"Then why are you asking me for a second opinion?"
"Yes. You are. You're asking me to overrule their medical decisions. How do you think I'd feel if I'd operated on one of the Arcadians and he tried to get his own doctor to ignore my judgement?"
O'Neill sighed. "Okay, I get the point. I'll go."
"Fine. We'll pencil it in for next Friday, shall we?"
Daniel had spent the last couple of days of that week preparing for Monday's scheduled visit to the Tok'ra. Its purpose was to agree the wording of an official treaty that outlined an alliance in the fight against the goa'uld and to arrange a meeting between the President and Supreme High Councillor Per'Sus for the signing thereof. Daniel was therefore making sure that every 'i' was dotted and every 't' crossed.
For once, Jack kept out of his way. He didn't know if Daniel had changed his brand of coffee, but if so, he wasn't impressed. The smell from the current brand made him feel nauseous.
When Monday came, Jack kind of wished he could've arranged his visit to Arcadia for that day. A political meeting with the Tok'ra wasn't his idea of fun. It promised to be both irritating and tedious, and probably accounted for his throwing up that morning in anticipation. Apart from Jacob Carter, he had very little time for the Tok'ra and their superior attitude, not to mention that they wouldn't share without some serious arm twisting.
In the event, it turned out to be more exciting than expected and not in a good way. During the meeting, Major Graham of S.G.-14 suddenly went ape-shit, attempting to assassinate Per'sus, and killing a Tok'ra and one of his own men before blowing himself up.
Rather surprisingly, the Tok'ra took it in their stride. Anise pronounced Major Graham to have been a victim of goa'uld mind control, or 'zatarc'. She had a machine that could detect zatarcs, she said, though Martouf showed extreme scepticism for its reliability.
The following day, both of them came to the S.G.C. Anise brought another boxes of tricks to test all S.G. team members who had been in contact with the goa'uld in the previous two months. The day got even better when Anise announced that both Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter were zatarcs. Jack thought she was just pissed because he kept calling her machine a zanex detector.
Fortunately, shortly before the summit meeting on Wednesday, Sam finally put two and two together. Because of the dangerous and unpredictable nature of the job, the bond cementing the team was far closer and stronger than regulations permitted; their withholding of that information had made the machine interpret it as lying.
"Good thing neither Daniel nor Teal'c was trapped behind that force field or we'd all four be in the brig indefinitely!" Jack remarked once the ordeal was over. "Makes you wonder if that wasn't the whole idea."
"What?" Sam asked. "To get rid of S.G.-1 - permanently..."
"What about the rest of the personnel," Sam asked Anise, "ours and yours?"
"Every member of the S.G.C. personnel has been tested. Even the High Councillor and his personal guard were tested on Vorash before they came."
"Hey, what about you? You ever been tested on that thing?" Jack asked, suddenly curious.
The Tok'ra woman looked at him with her customary superior expression.
"I have not been in any situations where I would be vulnerable to goa'uld zatarc technology," she replied smugly.
"And we should believe that why, exactly?" Jack asked with assumed casualness.
"Because I am telling the truth," Anise replied, looking affronted.
"But, if you were a zatarc, you would say that. Wouldn't you?" Sam asked.
It all happened at once. Anise raised her right hand. The goa'uld device on her fingers glowed. Sam dived for cover. The hot blast flew over her head. It caught an S.F. on the shoulder, downing him. Janet hit the alarm button - called for assistance.
Jack tackled Anise as she made to leave. As she fell, she turned the weapon on him. Sam grabbed her arm - deflected the shot. Anise seemed to have gained strength from the device. She wrenched herself free. S.F.'s came running. Anise pointed the weapon at her head.
"Stop her!" Janet screamed.
Too late. Like Major Graham, she blew herself up.
The rest of the day went very well.