SHALL WE DANCE?
"I feel ridiculous," Sam groused as she tried to back up gracefully, all the while keeping the tango rhythm. She glanced over at the group of natives—Daniel had thought they were transplanted from one of the South Seas Islands—watching them grimly. She smiled at them, and the big-bellied chief frowned. She dropped the smile.
"I don't feel any better about it than you do," Jack whispered as he dipped her. He pulled her up, and they continued the tango.
"Sir, where did you learn how to tango?" Sam asked. She sneaked a peek over at Daniel and Teal'c. Teal'c was doing the stone face act, but Daniel's face was an interesting mix of curiosity, amazement, amusement, and, as he looked at the natives—fear.
Jack closed his eyes briefly. "It's a long story."
"Sara has three left feet." He sighed. "It was for my high school homecoming. I took Arthur Murray dancing lessons."
Sam tried desperately not to giggle,
"I know, I know, but I was desperate to impress my date. I don't even remember her name …" He paused a second as they moved across the clearing. "Sally."
"Was she pretty?"
"Very. Long dark hair, figure that went to …" He looked at Sam. "Sorry."
"For what, sir?" Sam smiled her amusement.
"Not cool to compare one dance partner with another."
"I've had better dance outfits," she said. "It's very difficult to dance in combat boots."
"Really," he said, dipping her again. "I didn't notice the difference."
"Enough!" said the chief. "Now, the brown-skinned man."
Teal'c sat where he was, and looked a bit uncomfortable.
"What's the matter, Teal'c?" Jack said, as the chief started to glower.
"Jaffa do not dance," Teal'c said lowly. "Dancing was deemed beneath the dignity of the Jaffa and their families."
"But," Sam said. "Jaffa do train with their staff weapons, and they do strengthening exercises,"
"Do that, but do it without your staff weapon."
Teal'c nodded. He got up fluidly, and went through the motions of his exercises. Jack was struck by how fluid the exercises were, and wondered if they could be integrated into the Air Force training regimen.
Teal'c whirled, coming to the last exercise, then stood still, in position, breathing naturally. Jack clapped once, then looked at the chief. Old Stone Face was sitting there, not an emotion showing on his face.
"Now the yellow-haired man."
"I do beg your pardon, sir," Daniel said to the chief, his face downcast. "I do not know how to dance."
The chief glowered at him.
"Daniel," Jack said. "They want you to dance." Now, this was a turnaround, Jack thought; he was encouraging Daniel to do something to connect with the natives.
"I only know one dance, sir," Daniel said. "And I fear it is too frivolous a dance for your august presence."
"Dance!" the chief said.
Daniel started dancing. Sam bit her lip, but her eyes were wide. Jack managed to turn a snort into a sneeze. Daniel glared at them, then went on.
Jack heard a snort from the tent behind the chief, turning into a full blown laugh. The chief attempted to keep his composure, then fell over, giggling. The rest of the natives were smiling. Daniel stopped dancing and his face turned bright red.
The tent flap opened, and out came a tall blond white man, in a cowboy hat and a fabric shirt and leather slacks. "Gol durn, boy, don't stop on my account. You look like a dying chicken. What the hell—pardon me, ma'am—do you call that?"
Daniel chewed his lip. "It's … the Chicken Dance."
The cowboy and the natives broke out laughing. "I guess so. Where did you learn that?"
"Ain't never seen that at any wedding I been to."
"Me neither," the "chief" said and smiled.
Sam started smiling, her eyebrows wrinkled together.
Jack wasn't sure if he was amused or alarmed. "What …"
The blond man took off his hat. "We ain't had visitors through the Chappa'ai …" he managed to put a western twang in the pronunciation "… in nigh onto five to seven years." He hitched his hands on his pockets. "And we wanted to have a little fun. You didn't look like Goa'uld, but you did have that Jaffa," he nodded towards Teal'c. "And then you said you came in peace. Jimmy there and I came up with a plan to see if you were friend or foe."
"How did dancing …" Sam started.
"We wanted to see if you would make idiots of yourselves. Goa'uld and Jaffa's sense of humor is a teeny bit … undeveloped."
Teal'c raised his eyebrows.
"Don't get him started," Jack warned. "He'll start telling Jaffa jokes."
The man smiled. "Undeveloped in front of us, then." He turned. "C'mon, meet the rest of the colony."
The chief shook his head. "That's our Jesse," he said, conversationally. "Always in a hurry." He stuck out his hand. "I'm James Asaoke. Jimmy to my friends. Call me Jimmy."
The big man blushed. "And I'm Jesse Stephenson." He turned to look Jimmy. "I figured we could parlay easier in town. Better chairs." He started down a path behind the tents, and the rest followed.
Daniel had stopped blushing. "I'm Dr. Daniel Jackson." He introduced the rest of the team, then added, "We're of the Tau'ri."
"Tory?" They looked at each other.
"Earth," Jack said.
"Earth!" Jesse and Jimmy stopped thunderstruck, then started again. "We're from Earth, too!" Jesse peered at them. "Hot damn!" He looked at Sam. "Beg pardon, ma'am."
"Pardoned, Mr. Stephenson," Sam said. "I've heard worse. Please don't worry about it."
"You're from Earth," Jack said.
"Well, my great-great-great grandpappy was taken from the MinnesotaTerritory."
"And mine was taken from Hawaii." Jimmy stopped for a minute. "When did we figure?"
" 'bout 1000 AD."
"But they couldn't learn our language, so we learned English. There weren't too many of us left." He smiled at Jesse. "Dumb white man."
"Stupid natives." He smiled back. He turned to Jack. "We were raised as brothers after his mom passed on. Can you tell?"
"We're based out of Colorado Springs," Jack said, "but I'm originally from Minnesota, too."
"How many states?" Jesse asked. We know about twenty-six."
"Fifty. And five territories."
They came to a road. Jack looked closely. "Is that brick covered with concrete?" "Durn straight," Jimmy said, and Jack reflected that this was why the "chief" didn't say much during the ceremony. They turned a corner. "And this is my steam wagon."
Sam's eyebrows were about ready to climb over her forehead. "Sir. It's a steam wagon with rubberized wheels. Mostly wood, some steel." She looked it over. "Looks extremely efficient, from what I can see. I'd like to take a closer look at it."
"I'm sure Jesse here wouldn't mind, as long as you don't take apart his engine. He ain't too mechanical."
"What does it run on?"
"Naquadah and water," Jimmy said. "I can get you the specifications. I'm an engineer by trade."
The two men looked at each other.
Daniel interrupted the inevitable question. "She knows it runs on heat. It's an expression of admiration."
"How fast?" Jack said.
"Seventy miles an hour, if I open all of the valves. But we rarely find it necessary to go over forty."
"Still faster than the average horse."
"Oh, we have a bunch of those," Jesse said. "Chickens, cows, ducks, pigs, sheep, too."
Jack blinked. Personable as these guys were, he had to ask. "Who brought you to this place?"
"Fancy dude. We got drawings of him. Dropped us off here, used to come by once in a while to get the stuff out of our mines. City slicker by the name of Apophis." He looked at their faces. "Doesn't look like you like him."
"And you do?" Jack said.
"Oh, he'd come in and try to order us around every once in a while, but we soon got him straight. He used to come and trade."
"It is very unlikely that Apophis would come and trade. He does not trade. He takes," Teal'c said.
"That's what he said all of the other Goa'uld did. He was our protector," Jimmy said.
"And you believed him?"
"Why not?" Jesse stopped. "Oh, yeah, I remember back when he used to take people and be cruel and all of that, but since he came here to stay, he's a lot better."
"He's here?" Jack said incredulously.
"I think we need to see your Apophis," Daniel said.
"We're right here." They stopped in front of a hut.
Jack looked it up and down. "Apophis is in here?"
"Sure," Jesse said. "Why not?"
Suddenly, Teal'c moved to the bushes in back of the hut. He came out, grabbing a skinny man by the neck.
"I was just—foraging—the man said, in a small voice.
"Apophis?" Jesse said. "One would think you're a'scared of these folks.
"This is not Apophis," Teal'c said. He looked down at the man. "I do not know who he is."
"But I do know you, Teal'c," The man's eyes flashed, and he spoke in the gravelly voice of the Goa'uld. Jack stepped back and raised his gun. "You are the First Prime of Apophis."
Teal'c let go of his neck. "I was First Prime. I now travel with the Tau'ri."
"The Tau'ri," said the man in a normal voice. "No, I don't think I know …"
Teal'c stared at him. "I do know you. You are Bes. You were Apophis' entertainment coordinator."
Jack blinked. "Apophis had a …" He stopped. "How in the hell did you entertain a sadist?"
"You don't want to know," Bes said.
Daniel looked at Bes, then started laughing. He found a rock to sit on.
"Daniel?" Jack said.
"I just realized …" Daniel finally gasped. "Among other things, Bes was the Lord of the Dance."
Jack rolled his eyes.
"He was also a household god who drove off evil and promoted fertility. He was depicted as being a dwarf." He looked at Bes. "Which you are not."
Bes lowered his head. "I am Dietmar," he said, in a normal voice. "Apophis gave my body as a reward to Bes almost fifty years ago. Since Bes and I have lived here, Bes has seen the error of his ways and has let me speak." He smiled. "But we were afraid that if the people here knew the truth, they would not let us live here."
"Wait a minute," Jesse said. "You're not Apophis?"
"We are sorry we had to deceive you."
" 'We?' "
"I will explain later. We are two entities in one body. Since we have lived here, we have found many things in common. For example, I was a cook in my former life."
"Oh," Jimmy said. "That would explain the grub he's been coming up with for the past few years." He turned to Jack. "You oughta see what he can do to a chicken."
Teal'c said, "Bes was just a minor god." He managed to look impassive, yet contemptuous.
Bes' eyes flashed. "I was not a minor god. Entertainment is important too." He slumped. "But it meant I couldn't always get access to the sarcophagus. Finally, I didn't want to go into the sarcophagus and started to regret everything I had done." He looked up pitifully. "I don't want to go back. Please don't tell Apophis I'm here."
"I never thought I'd see a snake-head cringe," Jack said to Sam.
Teal'c put his hand on Bes' shoulders. Bes looked up at him. "Apophis is dead," Teal'c said. "I saw him die."
Bes' mouth gaped, then he straightened up. "Good." He lowered his head.
"From both of us," Dietmar said. He smiled.
Jack felt something in his back. "But Ba'al is not," Ba'al said, coming up from behind his Jaffa guards.
The group raised their hands.
Jack looked at Ba'al. "What in the hell are you doing here, anyway?"
Ba'al shrugged. "When we divvied up Apophis' territory, I got this worthless little planet."
"Hey!" Jesse said.
"I put an alarm on the gate to transmit if anybody went through the gate to come here." Ba'al smiled. "And here you are." He stared at Jack. "Why are you here?"
Jack spread his hands. "Oh, you know. Explorers? Ring a bell?"
"I thought your stated mission was to gather information for weapons to destroy the Goa'uld."
"Did I tell you that? Well, that, too." Jack shrugged. "Can you blame us?"
Ba'al laughed. "As we search for ways to destroy you." He smiled. "By the way, loved your dance." He looked at Daniel, who blushed.
"You were watching."
"I believe you would call it an 'instant replay.' I didn't come until I realized you were here."
Daniel turned to Jesse and Jimmy. "I'm sorry."
"For leading them here."
"Hey," Jimmy said. "It wasn't your fault."
"Actually," Ba'al said. "It was their fault. If they hadn't been quite the pain in my side …" He stopped, because Jesse had let out a shrill whistle. A variety of people emerged from the woods: men, women, older children, all carrying projectile weapons or staff weapons.
"I believe you're surrounded," Jesse said.
Ba'al raised his eyebrows. "Yes, I do believe we are." His Jaffa looked uneasily at the surrounded people, then at each other, then at Ba'al. "Not that I wouldn't enjoy destroying you all, but strategic retreat may be the order of the day."
"I wouldn't let him go," Bes said. "I'd kill him right here."
Jimmy looked the man up and down. "I don't think he's worth the firepower."
"Hell, no," Jesse said. He looked at Jimmy, and they seemed to communicate silently. "He ain't. And especially we don't want to use our secret weapon on him." He gestured to the nearest group. "Escort Mr. Ba'al to the Chappa'ai."
After Ba'al had left, Carter turned to Jack. "Sir, I'm impressed."
Jack was looking at the path into the woods. "Actually, I am, too." He looked at the pair. "Secret weapon?"
"So secret, we don't even know what it is," Jesse said.
"Is this an example of your defense system?" Jack said.
"It was suggested by Apo …" Jesse looked to the Goa'uld. "By Bes here."
Jack raised an eyebrow at Bes, who lowered his head. Then he smiled and held a hand out the Jimmy, then to Jesse. "We'd like to start trade with you guys."
"As long as you ain't going to drive us off our land," Jimmy said. At Jack's look, he pointed to Jimmy. "His ancestors told us what happened to the Injuns."
"No," Daniel said. "You'll get more than beads."
"You'll be our secret territory," Jack said. "By the way, Hawaii is part of the United States, too."
Jimmy pursed his mouth. "I bet they didn't like that."
Daniel sighed. "They didn't. But they're not complaining now."
"We'll take a vote," Jesse said. "In the meantime, you're surely welcome to trade with us."
"I want to take a look at the naquadah engine," Sam said eagerly.
"I want to talk to someone about your culture," Daniel said.
"Jack O'Neill, I would like to look at their staff weapons," Teal'c said. "I believe they may have been manufactured here."
"They were," Bes said.
Teal'c and Bes walked off together. Jimmy motioned to Sam, and they went over to the engine. Daniel started talking to Jesse, then went to a seat to talk about their culture.
Jack shrugged, and looked at the locals. Most of them had melted back into the woods. "Is there anyplace I can get a drink?" he said, rather loudly.
"Johnny, take the colonel to the saloon," Jesse said. "Tell them it's on me."
Jack smiled broadly. "Now this is the kind of first contact I like!" He followed the young man down the path.
"Is Colonel O'Neill drunk?" General Hammond bellowed.
Daniel and Sam looked shame-faced at the general. "We were talking to the inhabitants, and Jack went to the saloon," Daniel admitted. "It appears that the citizens of New St. Louis forgot to tell him the local fruit juice was alcoholic."
"I like them," Jack said, then staggered.
Hammond sighed. "I'll debrief Colonel O'Neill tomorrow." He glared at the rest of the team. "You three, meet me in the briefing room as soon as you deposit the colonel with Doctor Frasier."
"They'll be our fifty-first state," O'Neill slurred. "Better not tick 'em off. 'specially Jesse."
The team hurried O'Neill out the door.
"Our fifty-first state?" General Hammond muttered. "Jesse?"
This debriefing was going to be very interesting.