The Village of the Fish

By Lorraine Anderson

Daniel Jackson looked down at the village. "The architectural structure is basically Judean, with a large Greek and Roman influence." He looked up at the bright blue sky. "Fortunately, the climate seems to be rather Mediterranean." He glanced over at Colonel Jack O'Neill, wondering if he was paying attention.

"That's fascinating," Jack said dryly. He looked back at their captors and flexed his hands, which were tied behind his back. They stared back at him, impassive. "But do you think that this is the time to discuss architecture?"

Daniel shrugged. "The better I understand the architecture, the better I understand the culture."

"I don't care about understanding the culture," Jack groused. "I just wish these guys would talk to us!"

Daniel grinned. "That's my line." He looked back at the men behind him. "They seem to want us to meet their leader."

One man nodded, but his spear remained steady. His commander glared at him. Daniel nodded back.

"Okay," Jack said. "But we would have talked to their leader without this." He lifted his hands from his back.

For an answer, the commander pointed down the hill. Fortunately, it wasn't too steep, and they managed to get down the hill without stumbling.

Daniel looked around. Sam and Teal'c had escaped the capture at the gate; he wondered where they were. He looked at Jack and tried to get into the military mindset. Well, they were either following Jack and him or staying by the Gate, waiting for the next activation. He decided that it made more sense for the two to follow them – they could always call for backup the next time the gate activated.

He wasn't going to look around to look for them - he had finally learned that - but he did glance at Jack. Jack was impassive, not giving anything away. Daniel sighed. He really needed to learn that look.

They entered the village, and he looked around. Children – both dark haired and blonde haired - looked at them, being scurried away by mothers and grandmothers, who also stared at them. Men walked out in the street, starting to follow the crowd. Daniel was almost glad that Sam wasn't along; this seemed to be a patriarchal society. They walked down the street, entering a building that seemed to be a cross of a temple and a forum. Other armed guards looked at them and scurried out - to get the leader of this society, he supposed. He wondered if the man would enter with a toga or a robe.

Then the door opened. Oh. A dark haired, sharp-eyed woman in a robe entered the room, followed by four armed guards. She sat in the leader's seat and brushed her hair back, staring at them. The guards around them bowed. Daniel glanced at them, and bowed the same way. Jack stared at them, then just nodded.

"Jack," Daniel hissed.

"Daniel," Jack said. "These people have captured us without an explanation and without any provocation. I acknowledge her as a leader of her people, but I do not bow to her."

The woman smiled. "Understandable." She motioned to the guards, and they untied Daniel's and Jack's hands.

Daniel rubbed his wrists, then looked up at the woman.

"My name is Lois," she said. "I am the head magistrate of Ichthys."

"How may I address you?" Daniel said. Interesting. The town was named "fish."

She smiled. "As Lois," she answered.

"What I don't understand," Jack said, his eyes flashing, "is why you captured us without a word."

"Ah," she said. "That is because you are not from Ra." She gestured at the clothes. "And you are not one of our usual trading partners. My men have standing orders to capture those they don't know and to bring them to me."

"Lois," one of the men said. "Two others escaped into the woods."

Daniel looked at his watch.

"They will probably try to contact the leaders of your world," Lois said, astutely, "through your communication devices." She gestured at the walkie-talkies.

"You know what they are?"

"We have seen the Goa'uld use something similar," she glanced sharply at them.

"Yeah, well, about that," Jack started.

"We serve Ra," she said simply.

"Ra," Jack said, "is dead. I saw him die."

Lois blinked. For the first time, she seemed startled. "You witnessed his death?"

Jack and Daniel looked at each other. "Well," Jack said. "I didn't literally see him die in front of his eyes, but I saw his ship explode. And I know he was on it."

"Gods cannot die," Lois said, wide-eyed.

They heard a commotion at the door. Carter came in, followed by Teal'c. They were pushed by another group of guards. Jack shook his head. "I thought you two escaped into the woods."

"We did, sir," Carter said. "We got a little ways away, but there were more guards in the woods."

"Hmm," Jack said. "And you didn't fight?"

Sam glanced at the woman on the dais.

"I am Lois. Your leader here was just telling us that Ra is dead." She looked at Teal'c. "You bear the mark of Apophis, Jaffa."

"I was Apophis' First Prime."

"Was?"

"I turned away from the false gods."

"You do not worship Apophis?"

"Apophis is a false God. Ra was a false god."

"Did you witness Ra's death?" Lois looked at him, leaning forward.

"I was still serving Apophis when Ra died. But it was discussed amongst the Jaffa in whispers."

"So," Lois said, and Daniel thought he detected hope in her voice, "you believe that gods can die."

"The Goa'uld are not gods."

Lois smiled broadly. "No. They are not."

Daniel closed his mouth. He looked around. The guards were looking at each other. One made a sign - Daniel couldn't quite make it out.

"I thought you worshipped Ra." Daniel said, turning back to Lois.

She shook her head. "I said we served Ra, because we could not fight him or his Jaffa," she said. "We did not fight - partly because his was a greater force than our people, but mostly because our God has told us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek." She pulled a necklace from under her dress. "Ra's people could never understand why we wore this."

Daniel saw Jack stare at it. "That looks like a fish," Jack said.

Oh! Daniel thought, and smiled broadly. "That's why your city is named Ichthys. Of course, you wear a fish." He turned to Jack and the rest of the team. "Jack, these people worship God."

Jack seemed to think a minute, then came up with "Huh?" Sam was starting to grin.

"No," Daniel said. "They worship God. Jehovah. Yahweh. Jack, they're Christians."

"And we follow Yeshua," she said. "The Son of the only God."

"We call him Jesus," Daniel smiled.

Teal'c frowned. "I do not believe I know this Yahweh Goa'uld."

Sam snorted. Jack stared at her. "Sorry, sir," she said.

"You do not follow God?" Lois said, looking surprised.

"Um," Daniel said. "I don't believe any of us have been to church lately. But one of my foster parents taught me about Jesus and God. And the symbol we use is the sign of the cross. We very rarely use the sign of the fish."

Lois furrowed her brow. "You use the cross? The cross that our Savior was tortured on?"

"Our people use the cross as a symbol of Jesus' triumph over death. The only man who was raised from the dead and who raised people from the dead," Jack cleared his throat, glancing at Daniel, who continued, "without the use of a sarcophagus."

"I have heard of these sarcophagus," Lois said. "There was rumor amongst our trading partners. We dismissed them as myths."

"Not myths," Sam said. "Just an incredibly advanced piece of technology."

"I see." She stood up and came down from her dais and walked in front of each team member, staring them each in the eye. She then returned back to Jack. "I believe you. The news you bring confirmed the rumors we heard, and our own speculations, since Ra has not been back in years to pillage our stores."

"He didn't have you mining for Naquadah?" Sam said.

'No," she said. We are farmers. We provided food." She spread her arms. "We call our world Jerusalem. Welcome!"

Daniel smiled broadly. "We come from Earth. I know the original Jerusalem intimately."

She smiled, delighted. "You do? Then you are doubly blessed! You come from the world of the Christ! You must all be Christians!"

Teal'c started to speak, and Jack silenced him with a look.

"We will talk more," Daniel said. "With your permission."

"Of course!"

General Hammond stared at the team. "You went to church," he said, disbelievingly, "and you taught them a gospel song?"

Daniel stared down at the table. "Well, it was more of a banquet," he said, "and it seemed appropriate, considering they were Christians."

"They were, after all," Sam said, "teaching us their songs."

"It was fascinating," Daniel said.

"Yes," Jack said. "And, along the way, they did allow us to talk to them about the Goa'uld, and they welcome any further teams. In return, they offered us food."

"I'm not an agricultural expert," Sam said. "But they did seem to have some interesting grains."

"I do think, however, that they should be Christian teams," Daniel added.

"As compared to..." Hammond said.

"Jewish people, Muslims, Wiccans, pagans?" Daniel said, looking around the table.

"We have Pagans on the base?" Jack said, glancing at Daniel.

"You'd be surprised," Daniel said. To his surprise, Carter nodded, too, as did Hammond.

"I'm not sure how I'm going to explain to my superiors that I need an all Christian team," Hammond said. "Going back to the song. What exactly did you teach them?"

"Well," Daniel said, looking back at the table. "Their symbol for Christianity is Ichthys, the fish."

Hammond nodded. "So?"

"I told them about the cross being our Christian symbol, so I taught them 'The Old Rugged Cross,'" Daniel said. He could feel himself blushing a little.

And, of course, General Hammond saw that. "What seems to be the problem with that, Dr. Jackson?" Hammond said.

"They seem to think it's our World's Anthem." Carter said, grinning.

"So every team going through is going to have to learn The Old Rugged Cross. By heart," Daniel said. "At least at first. At least until we learn more about each other."

"And they're going to have to know how to sing," Jack said.

"You see my dilemma." Daniel said.

"We need a team of Christian Air Force personnel who can sing." Hammond said. "Who have the clearance to go through the gate and can also be diplomatic, and" glancing at Sam, "know a bit about agriculture." He sighed. "Do they also have to know how to ride a unicycle?"

Daniel looked up, startled. "Wh..."

Hammond was smiling at him. "Doctor Jackson, you need to have a little faith. I think among the three hundred thousand Air Force Personnel and the hundred thousand civilian contractors, we can manage to find four singing Christian negotiators who grew up on a farm and who can learn 'The Old Rugged Cross.'"

"Really?"

Hammond looked sternly at Daniel, then smiled again. "As long as you don't ask for belly dancers who can fly F16s. Although I'm sure there are a couple of those, two. Are we finished?"

The team nodded.

Hammond got up from the table. "Good job, people," he said, exiting the room.

The room was silent for a moment. "So," Jack said. "When were you going to tell him that Lois wants to meet the Pope?"

Daniel winced and put his head down on the table. "I don't suppose that Pope John Paul would like to travel through..." Jack stared at him. "No, I suppose it wouldn't be a good idea, even if he were willing."

"Daniel," Jack said. "When am I going to teach you how to hold your sacramental wine?"

"That was pretty funny, trying to watch you negotiate after all of those toasts," Sam grinned. Teal'c didn't smile, but he did look a little less grim than usual.

"Well," Daniel said. "Just don't tell the General that I was drunk at the time."

"I don't think that drinking as a negotiation technique will catch on," Jack said, dryly.

Daniel stared Jack in the eye. "You're not going to live this down, are you?"

"Hell, no," Jack said. He stood up. "C'mon. Let's get supper."

They left the briefing room, Sam still giggling like a schoolgirl. Daniel glared at her.

Nope. He wasn't going to live this down for weeks. And weeks. And weeks.

He sighed.