Chapter 4 - The Modesty of Nature.
Hamlet; Act III, scene ii.
Quinn's initial impression on stepping out on to the second new world that day was one of disappointment. The Stargate was on a barren plateau of reddish sandstone. Beside it was a building similar in construction to those he'd seen in photographs on the walls of the late Dr. Jackson's office. He was surprised to find that the real thing was quite so big. Janet, on the other hand, was pleased - though not reassured - to find it was fairly moderate in size. Each was relieved to find that there was no one else around, though for different reasons.
Jonas had released Dr. Fraiser on the previous world, first taking possession of his box of naquadria and tucking it inside his 'borrowed' B.D.U. jacket. He resorted to keeping control of her with the M9 he'd taken from the S.F. at Stargate Command. He felt more comfortable keeping her at a distance, too. Indicating that she was to stay ahead of him, they walked the hundred yards or so to the edge of the plateau and looked down.
A little way along from where they were standing, steep well-worn steps cut into the rock led down a precipitous cliff. Two or three hundred feet below lay a wide fertile plain. Sub-tropical woodland hugged the base of the cliff. About a mile beyond the fringes of the woodland was a small walled town built of the same red sandstone as the plateau. That would be their first port of call.
"After you, Doctor," he said, waving the side arm towards the steps.
For want of anything better to do, Janet counted the steps as she went slowly and carefully down them. There were three hundred and ninety seven and her muscles were complaining quite significantly by the time they reached the bottom. An unpaved roadway some six feet wide led through the woodland towards the town.
After a while, Janet came to a halt.
"Why have you stopped, Doctor?" Quinn asked.
"You know, I really need to make a comfort stop," she replied.
"A comfort stop - natural break - use the bathroom...? Oh, for goodness sake, I need to wee!"
"Oh, well - go right ahead. I won't look."
"I'd rather just step behind a tree - if you don't mind?"
"Okay, fine. Just don't take too long," was all he said.
Janet stepped demurely among the trees. He watched her head weave a little way into the woodland then bob down. Apart from the usual cries of birds, shrieks of unseen animals and the whine of insects, the wood went quiet.
After a while, the bushes in her vicinity shook. He watched for her return. A twig cracked underfoot, or so he thought. Seconds later, a substantial branch thwacked him across the side of the head from behind with some force - Janet was well pissed off!
As he slumped to the ground, the M9 flew from his hand and disappeared into the undergrowth. Damn! No time to look for it now. He wouldn't be out for too long. She took the time to relieve him of the anaesthetic gun and the narcotics though.
Quickly she retraced her steps to the foot of the cliff. Her heart sank as she looked up the steep climb but it was the only way. By the time she reached the top, she was perspiring freely and feeling exhausted. She hurried over to the D.H.D., dialed up the glyphs for home and hit the red crystal in the centre.
As the energy of the event horizon shot out from the Stargate, a voice behind her yelled at her not to move.
"Nice try, Doctor," Quinn gasped, waving the M9 menacingly, "but don't try it again or I will shoot you. I can't afford to let you go. Now, back down the steps."
Janet gave him a weary look as she set off back to those three hundred and ninety seven steps. The look of smug satisfaction she kept to herself...
Chapter 5 -'For Her Price is Far Above Rubies.
'Proverbs, ch. 31 v. 10.
Quinn, with Dr. Fraiser ahead, had reached the bottom of the cliff - again. It was then that he realized something was missing from his pocket.
"Put the anaesthetic gun - and the ampoules - down on the ground and step away, Doctor," he ordered.
As he still had the M9 pointed at her, she had no option but to comply. They then made their way along the woodland walk in the direction of the walled town they'd seen from the plateau above. It was early afternoon, as far as they could tell, and the humid heat was oppressive and enervating. It would have been nice to remove some of their clothing but the flies were seriously interested in any bare skin they could find. Jonas seemed particularly attractive to them. Possibly this resulted from the smell of blood from the head wound which was still oozing sluggishly now and again. He was sporting a number of painful-looking blisters.
"What do you think you'll do when we get to the town?" Janet called back over her shoulder.
"I've no idea, except that we'll probably need money to make our way here," Quinn admitted, wafting away more of the pesky flies. "Guess we'll just have to play it by ear."
They'd reached the fringe zone between the woodland and the cultivated area now. There was a variety of produce being grown - some grain crops much like maize and wheat and an assortment of vegetables. There were also small orchards dotted here and there. Quinn helped himself to fruit as they went along. Janet hoped it would give him the gripes.
As there were people working in the fields, Quinn hid the side arm in a pocket of the S.F.'s B.D.U., but made sure Dr. Fraiser knew it was still there - still trained on her. The workers were wearing loose light-coloured garments, rather like pyjamas. This gave little indication of their status or of the type of society on the planet.
Janet looked back to the tip of the triangular silhouette that was just visible on the top of the plateau. It suggested that this might be a goa'uld planet. If that were the case, those could well be slaves. She seriously hoped they wouldn't run into any of the snake-heads and wondered if Quinn had heard anything about them. If not, his ignorance might be to her advantage. She could always fill him in later if necessary.
They soon reached the town whose gates stood open. There was a goodly throng going into the town, some on donkeys, some driving horse-drawn carts, one or two well-dressed people carried on litters, most on foot. Taking a firm grip on Dr. Fraiser's arm, Quinn joined the crowd and went with the flow.
It seemed to be market day. In the town centre were stalls with faded awnings, but the general drift of people was towards to the farther end of the site. There, on a low daïs in front of a large curtain, a kind of master of ceremonies stood behind a high desk. The M.C. banged loudly on the desk with a gavel and made an announcement which neither Jonas nor Janet understood.
Instantly, two burly men dragged a struggling third man out from behind the curtain and on to the platform. The third man was manacled and his legs were likewise fettered. The M.C. made several remarks, gesturing towards the chained man. At one point, one of the guards raised the man's arm and squeezed well-developed biceps.
Janet was horrified. This was a slave market. Bidding was brisk and the man was hustled away behind the curtain again. The veiled lady who'd made the final bid sent a small slave to the M.C. with a bag jingling with coins, and two of her bodyguards went to collect her new property.
This seemed to be the final lot of the auction, but the M.C. then addressed his audience. A cry came up from the back of the crowd, and a man pushed forward with a young lad. He and the lad mounted the platform where the man carried out his own private auction, selling the boy to a rough-looking man. Janet's heart went out to the boy. She would willing have outbid the brute if she could.
Several more people sold their personal slaves as the crowd began to drift away. The M.C. seemed to be asking for any more lots. Quinn, thinking on his feet, raised his hand, then manhandled Dr. Fraiser up on to the stage...
Chapter 6 - '...Yearning for the Other Shore.'
Virgil - The Aeneid VI, 314
The klaxon blared through Stargate Command.
"Incoming wormhole," announced the surprised voice of Sergeant Davis.
There were currently no teams off-world, and no visiting dignitaries were expected now that Dr. Jackson's funeral service was over. Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter were first to arrive in the Control Room, closely followed by Teal'c and General Hammond. The Gate Room filled with S.F.s, weapons at the ready.
"Do not open the iris," ordered the General.
"But, Sir, it might be Janet!" exclaimed Major Carter, "and she doesn't have a G.D.O. with her."
"You might well be right," Hammond conceded, bearing in mind that, though Dr. Fraiser was a pint-sized lady, she was nevertheless a resourceful little soul. "Very well, open the iris, Sergeant."
Smoothly the titanium/trinium shield slid clear of the event horizon. Nothing happened.
"Do we have any code or other identification," Sam asked.
"No, Major, just the address - P8Y-971. It's not one we've ever visited before," Davis replied.
"It could be Dr. Fraiser," Colonel O'Neill said thoughtfully, "or it might just be another civilization trying to make contact like the Eurondans did - not that that's any recommendation."
"But they would not know about the iris, O'Neill," Teal'c put in. "Surely they would send people through as Alar did? Or, if they know that some 'gates are buried, they would first send a probe to ascertain whether it is safe or not."
The five people in the Control Room stared at Stargate, willing Janet to step through it, but otherwise ready for anything. Anything except what happened next. The wormhole disengaged. They looked at the silent circle a little disconcerted.
"Close the iris, Sergeant," Hammond said a little reluctantly.
"I think it must have been Janet, sir," Sam surmised. "She'd know the iris might - probably would - be closed, so she wouldn't risk coming through."
"Or maybe Somebody prevented her," O'Neill growled.
"Oh God, I hope not!" Carter said, eyes wide. "No I - I think she's been pretty smart. She knows our computer will record the address, and then it doesn't matter if the iris is closed. All she has to do is sit tight and we'll come looking for her."
"Well I hope your reading of the situation is right, Major," General Hammond said, a little more optimistically, "but we still can't afford to take unnecessary risks. This is an unknown world and we have no idea what may be waiting on the other side."
"I'm willing to take the risk, General," O'Neill said, keen to be up and doing.
"Me too," Sam agreed vigorously.
"And I," added Teal'c.
"I know you are, S.G. -1," Hammond smiled fondly, "but I'm not prepared to let you take that risk. I'll have Sergeant Siler get a U.A.V. prepped and ready to go as soon as is humanly possible. Dismissed."
Although the delay was not great, Siler being the best that S.G.C. could find, the wait seemed interminable. Finally the U.A.V. was ready for launch. S.G. -1 raced to the Control Room.
"I always get a buzz out of watching that little thing take off and disappear through the event horizon," O'Neill smiled, eyes alight.
"Yeah, me too," Carter grinned.
Teal'c raised an eyebrow...
"Reaching destination in five seconds... two, one," Sergeant Davis announced. "We have visuals."
The on-board cameras showed a steep precipice dropping down from a plateau with cultivated land dotted with small settlements and a few towns beyond it. There were plenty of people working in the fields, some fleeing in terror from the U.A.V. On the plus side, no one fired anything at the little plane, but the down side was that there was no obvious sighting of Dr. Fraiser, or Quinn.
"Well, General, there's no immediate threat that I can see," O'Neill said buoyantly. "I say we go see what we can find on the ground."
"You go right ahead, Colonel," Hammond replied.
"Yes!" Jack exclaimed, punching the air with his fist, a fiery gleam in his eye. "Let's go folks..."
"Rescue mission, Jack," Hammond reminded him, "not retribution."
O'Neill returned a tight smile and headed for the 'Gate Room.
On P8Y-971, they followed the same procedure as on the last occasion on P9Z-115. Jack looked at the pyramid with disfavour as Teal'c and Silverwolf looked around. Again, they took little time to reach their conclusions.
Two people had recently come through the Stargate. Although footprints in the sandy detritus eroded from the rock surface indicated that both had returned to the D.H.D., and then made a second trip to the stairway, there was no sign of a struggle.
"You think this would be Doc. Fraiser and Quinn?" O'Neill asked.
"Yes, sir," Lieutenant Silverwolf responded handing something to the colonel.
"What is it, sir?" Major Carter asked, peering at what O'Neill held.
He handed her a small white plastic rectangle bearing the name, DR. FRAISER.
"Clever Janet!" Sam exclaimed. "I don't think that was dropped by accident. She's telling us she's here!"
"Yes," O'Neill agreed, "but where...?"