The follow story is a work of fan fiction using characters that are copyrighted and/or trademarked. The purpose of this story is for fan enjoyment only free of charge. All original content is protected by Creative Commons License 3.0.
Michael "TheZorch" Haney's
Chapter 6 – Part 3: And So It Begins
One week after touch down the SG-1 team ran into a raging battle between Amazons, strange looking men who seems partially bestial, people with wings and invading forces from North Vietnam. It was safe to say the North Vietnamese didn't stand a chance. It was about that time that they ran to a group of Amazon women. Teal'c had mentioned several times that he thought they were being followed. Colonel O'Neil tried setting up a trap for them a few times to no avail, their pursuers were keeping a safe distance away. The Joketsuzoku explained that they'd been commanded by their queen to ensure nothing happened to them during their trip through China. So, the SG-1 team was lead around the battlefield, which was more a massacre than anything else, and took them deep into the rugged wilds of China.
With the detour it took them six more days to reach the Bayankawa mountain range on foot. Jack had tried to talk the warrior women into using a car but they refused each time. He and the four members of his team believed that they were all in pretty good physical shape due to all of training and missions. They soon learned that being in good shape was a matter of opinion. The Joketsuzoku seemed superhuman when it came to endurance. Teal'c was the only member of the group who could really appreciate the strength of these women. He often commented that they reminded him of his own people in many ways.
It was when they were a few days out from the village of Nyanchiczu that things stopped going so smoothly. At least for a certain archaeologist who was perhaps too curious for his own good. They'd entered the Josenkyo valley deep in the Bayankawa mountains, it was during this leg of their journey that Colonel O'Neil noticed a slight change in the demeanor of their hostesses. Teal'c was the first to notice it. As they entered a misty pass through the valley floor the Amazons had them stay close and in a tight group. Soon, thought the mist they began to see hundreds of tall bamboo polls still up in the air. Around each one was a large pool of water. The warrior women gave this place a wide berth, trying to avoid going close to it as much as possible.
"What is this place?" Daniel had asked, speaking Mandarin. He'd discovered that the language of these Joketsuzoku was entire Mandarin but an amalgam of Mandarin and an older language that had its origins in the steppes of Mongolia centuries ago. This further proved his theory that they were the descendants of the legendary Amazons of Greek legend.
One of the women looked in the direction of the pools and replied in her tongue, "Josenkyo, do not go near for it is a cursed and sacred place.*
"Josenkyo ... pools of sorrow," Daniel thought out loud as he translated the Mandarin word in his head. He'd remembered reading something that referenced a place called the Pools of Sorrow but he couldn't remember from where.
He asked, "Why is it cursed?" In his line of work old legends often had their roots in fact. This applied to anything involving the Ancients, the Goa'uld and the Asgard. Old Earth legends and myths could not be overlooked, because they had a tendency to be very real and often dangerous. Knowing what he knew now Daniel realized that many archaeologists had been very close to death several times. They had no idea that the seemingly primitive artifacts they unearthed were sometimes very dangerous pieces of alien technology.
"The knowledge of why has been lost to the ages, know only that it is dangerous to go near." the warrior replied. Soon the group was taken to a clearly that was still within sight of the springs. The leader, a tall purple haired girl with tanned skin, said that they would be camping there for the night. After the tents were pitched and the fire started he Josenkyo Guide came over to greet them.
It was later that night that Dr. Jackson slipped out of his tent and made his way over to the pools. They were fresh water springs, he recognized the monkey poles from his study of the far east and realized that this place had once been used for martial arts training long ago. He tried questioning the Amazons more about Josenkyo earlier that night but none of them were able to answer his questions or were choosing not to answer his questions. So, he decided until everyone was asleep before sneaking out.
He figured at least one Amazon was awake on look out duty, so he kept low the ground as he approached the springs. From his jacket he pulled out a sample container. He wanted to get a sample of the water for Sam to analyze later. If the curse of this place was caused by some kind of alien technology she might be able to tell from a water sample. Slowly, carefully he was about to dip the container into the water when he heard a footstep behind him.
"Daniel, what are you doing?"
"Getting a sample of this water for Sam," he looked back only to see Colonel O'Neil's silhouette in the waning campfire light.
Jack replied, "For some reason this screams 'bad idea', and coming from me that says a lot." He'd seen these warrior women do some amazing things. He'd seem only a little of the battle the Amazons were fighting and what he saw told him they didn't know the meaning of fear. So, when they suddenly show open fear of bunch of glorified puddles in the ground there just might be a good reason for why they're afraid.
Daniel was already dipping the first sample container into the water. "I'm only getting three samples, first form this pool and then two others," said Daniel. "What could possibly go wrong ... ok, I'm starting to sound like you now."
"Well, hurry it up before the one out on watch comes back and catches us here." Jack urged him. Daniel moved to the next pool, reached down and took the second sample. He secured it tightly, put it away and pulled out the next. The third and last pool he was going to get a sample had higher banks so he had to reach down to put the sample container in the water.
"Almost done ... Jack!" Daniel cried out as he felt an invisible force tug on his arm and pull him towards the water. O'Neil was at his side in an instant to grab him but wasn't nearly fast enough. All Jack could do was watch as Daniel vanished beneath the surface of the pool. He heard several footsteps behind him and turned around.
"Get away, this place is dangerous!" one of the Amazons yell pulling him away from the spring.
"Hey, one of my people fell in there," he pointed to the spring Daniel had fallen into. It was at that moment that a figure surfaced sputtering and gasping for breath. In the dim light they couldn't make out the person's features. Jack caught the reflection of the camp fire light on Daniel's glasses. He moved to help Daniel out but one of the warriors stopped him.
"NO!" she demanded. "Go no closer, tempt not the magic of the springs or they will pull you in." Heeding the warning Jack just watched as Daniel made it to the side of the pool and pulled himself out. By this time Teal'c and Samantha Carter were up and had joined the group after hearing the commotion.
"Jack, what happened?" Sam asked him, then she followed his haunted gaze to the figure sitting stunned on the ground. She recognized the clothes as those belonging to Dr. Jackson, she recognized the wire frame glasses, but the face and was totally different.
Teal'c took one look at Daniel and said, "It appears the fear the Joketsuzoku have for this place is indeed justified."
Jack for once had no witty comments on the tip of his tongue this time. "What are you guys loo .... what the hell happened to my voice?!" Daniel exclaimed in panic hearing not his normal voice but one that was considerably higher in pitch. Sam knelt down beside him and got a very good look at Daniel's face. The reason for the change was now quite apparent, and she was able to notice other changes as well beside just in the face.
"That isn't all that's changed," she said pointing to his chest. Daniel looked down to see a considerable bulge there that hadn't been there before. Carefully he opened the front of his jacket and put a hand on his chest. When his hand felt what was there his ... her ... eyes rolled up into the back of her head and passed out.
Jack finally came out of his shocked stupor and said while trying not to break out into a fit of laughter, "I guess we gotta call him Danielle now."
"Indeed," Teal'c deadpanned.
"Jack!" Sam reprimanded him while she looked Daniel over. "This is serious, Daniel has been physically transformed by something in this water. There is no telling how complete this change could be, whether its permanent and how it can be reversed." She didn't dare touch him, at least not yet out of fear the change could be due to nano-machines in the water.
One of the Amazons replied, "There is no cure, but the change can be temporarily reversed. Bring him, it is safe to touch him and we'll show you how to reverse his change." The Amazons, totally unphazed by what just happened as if they've seen it a thousand times before all left the SG-1 team and went back to the camp. Jack and Teal'c picked "Danielle" up off the ground trying not to cop a feel and carried her back to the camp with Major Carter following behind them. Eventually the now female Dr. Jackson sat by the fire in a fresh change of clothes which didn't really fit her anymore and was sipping a cup of hot chocolate.
"So, you say there is no cure yet his change can be temporarily reversed," said Jack to one of the Amazons. "I don't get it, you said there isn't a cure so how can he change back at all?" Two of the Amazons put a kettle of water on one of the stones ringing the camp fire to heat up.
"The curse is triggered by cold and warm water," one of the warrior women explained. "Cold water triggers the change and he becomes a she, and warm water reverses the change but only until he is drenched with cold water."
The Amazon who was apparently the leader added, "And, that will happen often as the curse also makes the victim a water magnet. He will find himself being splashed with cold water at some of the most embarrassing moments, with both cold and hot water. It is the nature of the curse. The only way to minimize that part of the curse is to accept it as a part of your life and not to fight it."
"How can I not fight this?" Dr. Jackson asked her looking up at her with distress in her eyes. She could feel that this change was more than just some kind of illusion. Her body felt different, she center of gravity was all wrong so she wasn't too sure on her feet yet, and her underwear was rubbing her in uncomfortable ways down ... there. No, this change was far more than an illusion or just and outward appearance. It was a total and completely physical transformation. Either this was real magic like the Amazons claimed or it was Ancient technology on a level they'd never seen before. Sam was thinking the same thing.
"Are there any others who have this curse?" Sam asked them. The leader nodded her head.
She replied, "The consort to a friend of the Red Queen has the curse, from a different pool so he does not become a girl, and the Prince of the Musk Dynasty has the same curse as your friend."
"How many of these curses are there?" Jack asked, when she said "from a different pool" something in him clicked and he immediately looked towards the springs. There were a lot of springs.
"As many as there are springs in Josenkyo, be thankful your friend fell into the Nyanniichaun or spring of drowned girl. At least he stays human, other springs transform you into animals." the Amazon explained. She went over to the fire and checked the kettle to see if it was hot enough now. Gingerly she picked it up and poured some over Daniel's head. Jack, Sam and Teal'c watched in shock as his transformation didn't happen slowly but was instantaneous. One second he was a girl and now he was back to normal faster than the blink of an eye.
"The change was instant," Teal'c observed.
Sam surmised, "I've never seen or read about anything that could possibly cause this kind of transformation to take place so quickly that you can't see it happening with the naked eye." She was nearly at a loss for words.
Daniel felt his chest, not feeling anything soft yet firm he sighed, "I'm a guy again, at least,"
Jack patted Daniel on the shoulder and asked, "Hey, you ok?" Dr. Jackson nodded, the relief on his face at being male again was unmistakable. "Good, look at it this way, at least you make a cute girl."
"Thanks Jack, that really helps," Daniel said sarcastically.
"I am surprised, most people who acquire a Josenkyo curse are usually in a panic and hysterical," the Amazon leader said to Daniel. "Of all the victims of the curse you seem to be rather calm."
Jack laughed, "When you've seen what we've seen and done what we've done something like this ain't a big deal." The Amazons looked at him with some confusion. He enjoyed the inside joke knowing there was no way these women could know about the Stargate program and the wild adventures him and his teammates have been on over the years.
Teal'c had been thinking and asked, "With as many springs as are visible from the fire light one would assume there is a spring of drowned man which should negate this curse, should it not?" His question was greeted by a look of horror on the faces of all of the warrior women.
The leader told them, "Never seek a cure to the curse using the Nanniichaun or spring of drowned man. The promise of a cure using that method is a trap, you'd lock you're friend into his cursed form for the rest of his life." The Jaffa visibly paled and Daniel gasped at the prospect.
"So, there really is no cure for this?" Jack asked. He looked over at Dr. Jackson, though he didn't say it he knew his friend and colleague could sense his heart went out to him.
The leader replied, "That is correct, you either learn to accept the curse or it destroys your life if you endeavor to resist it or find a cure. It is the nature of the curse."
Jack said, "Whoever made these curses was a real sadist." He couldn't really imagine himself living with such a curse and now here one is teammates and best friend has one.
One of the Amazons said, "The magic of the springs was created by the Old Ones." As if that explained everything. Jack just looked at her with an expression the easily read, "huh?"
Daniel's ears perked up at this. "The Old Ones, you mean the ancient god of antiquity from long before the god of ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology?" he asked.
The leader nodded and replied solemnly, "Yes, the ancient dark gods who bore witness to the birth of this world and this universe and how now thankful sleep in distant dark places far from the reach of mortal beings."
"Dark gods?" Sam asked looking at Daniel.
He explained, "There are many ancient tales of a pantheon of dark gods who ruled the world long before the gods of the ancient classical civilizations. According to many ancient stories the younger gods banded together against them and drove them away. H.P. Lovecraft often used these Old Ones in his stories based on ancient writings that spoke of them."
"So, there's a real Cthulhu out there somewhere?" Jack asked, but he had a funny feeling he wasn't going to like the answer. Fighting big bad aliens just went with the job.
"Cthulhu?" Teal'c said questioningly.
"Big ugly thing with tentacles and a bad attitude," said jack.
Daniel replied, "Well, some say Lovecraft's works were purely fiction but much of his works were based on ancient texts from Babylonian and Egyptian mythology concerning great dark gods which once existed long before the gods they worshiped appeared."
"Could these Old Ones have been Ancients?" Sam asked him. They knew the Ancients were very old, on the oder of a few million years. It was a possibility.
Daniel shook his head. "I'm not sure, its possible but all of the information I've obtained about them says that they were benevolent, these Old Ones were said to be incredibly cruel." he told her.
"I am sorry to interrupt this discussion, but we should rest for we make for the village tomorrow." the Amazon leader told them. They all agreed and went back to their tents to get as much sleep as possible before the sun comes up. It was late in the morning when they woke and finally made the final trek towards Nyanchiczu. As they reach the top of the hill the first sight that reached SG-1 was the great tree.
Daniel looked back at Sam who looked up at the massive arbor with an expression of awe. It pretty much dominated the entire mountain niche where the village was nestled. The village itself sprawled out underneath the great tree as it it were stretching out its mighty branches to protect it. From this distance they could see what looked like structures attached to the great branches of the tree, rope bridges and walkways that round their up far up to the top. The Amazon village looked like many other villages SG-1 had seen on different worlds that wee preparing for or were engaged in a war or some battle. Joketsuzoku were everywhere doing different tasks. It was a scene they've seen many times on their trips through the Stargate.
"This way," the leader of their escort pointed towards the great tree and they made their way through the village. The Amazons glanced their way only briefly not really paying much attention to them. Dr. Jackson absorbed everything he saw as they went through the village. Just from observing their war preparation activities he was learning a great deal about these people. Indeed they exhibited behaviors and customs which were part Chinese and part Eurasian. Their ancient European Amazon roots were quite evident to his eyes, but it was subtle so only someone who was trained to notice such things could tell.
"Hard to imagine these little girls brought down the Chinese military all on their own," said Jack as he looked around at the relatively primitive looking village. There was some evidence of twentieth century technology but not much.
This elicited some rather harsh looks from the women who were within earshot. "Uh, Colonel, this is a matriarchal society, I don't think say that right now is a good idea." Sam warned him hoping to save off another Jack O'Neil foot-in-mouth incident. It wouldn't be the first time they would have had to fight there way out an armed encampment because of Jack's mouth.
"Remember, the Vietcong using primitive bamboo spike traps, old surplus World War II issue Russian AK-47s, improvised bombs and land mines, and limited supplies nearly defeated a high tech, well equipped army in the Vietnam War." Daniel reminded Jack.
Teal'c added, "I admire their warrior's spirit, it is not their technology which win the battle but their determination to crush their foes. In their eyes I see a flame burning, a fire I've seen in my own people. They are driven to win because they believe they cannot be defeated, and it is this which has allowed them to succeed." He received appreciative glances from their escorts for those words.
"Its probably just PMS," Jack quipped.
"Jack," Sam and Daniel signed together.
This was going to be one of those days.
"Milady, the Americans have arrived,"
Ranma looked up from her chair in the nursery where she was nursing one of her newborns to look at the young Amazon who peek into the room. Her mother sat opposite her holding one of the three tiny bundles in her arms as the child slept peacefully. Since her arrival and eventually acceptance of what happened to her son Nodoka had been growing fonder of her "daughter", but most of all she absolutely adored her newborn grandchildren. They were all beautiful. She'd almost forgotten how tiny newborns had been. Ranma had been a big child as an infant. She had the stretch marks to prove it.
"Have them wait in the guest area until I'm done here," she said. The Amazon bowed and slowly closed the door behind so as not to awaken the sleeping infants.
"Ranma, are you alright?" her mother asked. She regarded the older woman with a smile which was obviously forced.
"They made me their queen because of some ancient scrolls they found," said Ranma. "I don't know anything about being a leader, or a queen, or anything like that."
Nodoka smiled back and replied, "But you've been doing a pretty good job so far."
Ranma sighed, "That's because Cologne is my advisor. I'm sure if I didn't have her I be screwing things up."
"I wouldn't sell myself so short if I were you," Cologne said from the door. She quietly walked into the room just in time to overhear Ranma, her ever present staff slung over one shoulder. She went to the red head's side and sat down in a nearby chair.
She continued, "The peace we enjoy with the Musk Dynasty and the Phoenix Tribe were negotiated by you."
"I wouldn't call those negotiations," Ranma replied. "Its more like I earned their respect and trust after fighting with them for a few years."
Cologne smiled and said, "Because of you our current modernization plans got started. And, you have been doing a good job so far making decisions as Queen. I've only advised on a few things, not everything you've done." Ranma smiled at the ancient woman she regarded as a second mother. The infant in her arms stopped suckling, gently she laid the tiny girl on her shoulder and rubbed her back until she let out a little burp.
"That's the last one," said Ranma as she gently laid the infant in the crib next to her third sister. "I guess these kids really are going to take after me, they sure do eat a lot." She took the newborn from her mother and laid her down next to the other two. The three looked up at her briefly before closing their eyes and falling asleep.
"They're rather well mannered for newborns," Nodoka observed. "You kept us up the first six weeks we brought you home from the hospital, Ranma-chan."
The older woman was expecting a wince at the "chan" part, but she guessed Ranma had been living as a woman long enough that it didn't bother her anymore. Cologne was happy to see Ranma's mother was starting to get used to her son being a girl. She didn't really want to have to hurt the woman but she'd been prepared to kill Nodoka if necessary. It looked like that was no longer necessary, which was a good thing for both Ranma and her children.
"Ok, lets go see what the American's want," Ranma said quietly as they all left the room closing the door behind them gently. The three made their way down the walkways suspended in the great tree towards the guest area. This was the same place where Ranma's family had first arrived. It seemed almost a million years ago. For Ranma it was hard to imagine its been just a week since they came and since the fireball fell from the sky.
Cologne commented, "I spoke to the warriors who brought them here. They seem unusually calm and at ease with what they've seen so far, as if the unusual and the strange is normal for them."
Her eyes narrowed and she added, "The ebony skinned one has an unusual aura like nothing I've seen. Be careful in there." Ranma nodded.
"I'll probably just get in the way here," said Nodoka as she turned to head back in the other direction. "The girls are all up on the observation deck having tea with that nice young man who arrived a few days ago with all of those girls."
"You mean that, what was his name again?" she asked Cologne.
"Masaki Tenchi, I believe that was his name," the elder replied. "He and those girls also have strange auras, and what that one Ayeka had said about this tree was rather interesting."
"It does explain a lot," said Ranma who put her hand on the massive trunk of the tree, she could feel its power flow into her hand. "Do you think what they said was true, that this tree came from another world?" She looked at the ancient elder as if to gauge her response. The elder regarded her with eyes filled with great wisdom.
She said, "Its possible, our legends of the great tree tell of it descending from the heavens so there could be truth to what that one named Ayeka said about it. By the way, she is rather eager to have an audience with you after you're done here."
"Tell her I'm sorry for making her wait, things have been crazy lately." Ranma told her as they neared the guest structure.
Cologne laughed, "That's putting it mildly."
Ranma grasped the door handle and steadied herself. She said, "Ok, lets do this."
Nodoka reached the observation desk high in the tree just in time to hear the trailing end of yet another argument between the boisterous spiky, cyan haired girl named Ryoko and the dark purple haired girl Ayeka who had a rather distinct regal bearing. She held back a smile, they remind her so much of how the girls around her son come daughter had acted all the time. While Akane hadn't been quite as loud as that Ryoko girl she certainly had her temper. Ayeka was somewhat more composed, around Tenchi, but whenever Ryoko made a snide comment towards her Ayeka was instantly breathing fire. Tenchi, for his part, had a better control over the situation than her son ever had. He had the bearing of a martial artist about him, there was also something else she couldn't put her finger on. It was as if he was radiating a power of his own that ever she, a non-martial artist, could detect. The girls deferred to him a great deal and when he spoke up for them to stop they often listened. If only Ranma had commanded that kind of control over the girls back in the day. Oh, well, she couldn't dwell on things beyond her control. Those days were well behind her son come daughter now, she was happy the way she was and because of that Nodoka was a grandmother. She was in her happy place.
"Auntie Nodoka, was I ever that bad?" Akane asked her quietly after she sat down at the table. A tea service had been set and trays of delicious snacks beckoned.
Nodoka laughed behind her hands and said, "Not quit but close enough, Akane dear."
"My sister and Ryoko-san are always like this," the young girl with sky blue hair commented from her seat next to Kasumi and her husband. The girl was perhaps twelve years old and beginning to flower, Nodoka could tell her beauty would surpass her sister's in a few more years. She liked Sasami very much, probably because she was so much like Kasumi in many respects.
The red haired girl added, "They aren't as bad as they used to be, at least they haven't destroyed the house in a few years." Nodoka remembered her name was Washu, she rather mature for a girl of her age which was somewhere around Sasami's, but her eyes were her most striking feature. They were ancient, showing wisdom far beyond her years.
"Its like watching us fighting over Ranchan all over again," Ukyo said with a wistful smile as she remembered the good old days back in Nerima.
Kasumi smiled, "Oh my, they certainly are like that aren't they."
"We can hear you guys, we're sitting right here." Ryoko groused before taking a draw on a sake bottle.
Tenchi nervously scratch the back of his hand and apologized, "Sorry about this,"
"You two have done nothing but argue since we arrived," complained the beautiful green haired woman whom Nodoka remembered was named Noike. "It is disrespectful to our guests."
Nodoka respected that girl. Tenchi had a little control over the girls, but Noike was a different matter. When she spoke they listened instantly, she had a very strong commanding voice and seemed to know how to control younger people. She remembered Sasami saying something about the girl having lots of younger brothers and sisters. It showed. Noike was much like Sasami, very kind and sweet, but her personality could make quick one eighty when needed especially when Ayeka and Ryoko decided to have at it.
"I am truly sorry," Ayeka said bowing her head, her cheeks blushing profusely.
"Ain't the princess's fault she can't accept that Tenchi and I are so much in love," Ryoko then said.
Ayeka responded, "In your delusional fantasies perhaps, but it is Tenchi and I who are deeply in love. He could never love something like you." Sparks, visible to the naked eye sparks, flew between the two women as they glared death at one another.
"Oh, please don't fight again," the blond haired girl named Mihoshi scolded them. Its often joked how blond haired girls were ditsy and air headed. She girl took that stereotype and made it flesh. Nodoka could see in her eyes great intelligence, eyes that have seen a great deal of suffering, but she didn't show any of it in her personality.
"That's enough," said Tenchi scolding them. "How come you two have started fighting like this again? I thought we were behind all this."
"Its because they're worried this Ranma might take a liking to you and try to steal him away from them," said Washu in a matter-of-fact tone.
Nodoka looked at her puzzled for moment then Akane busted out laughing. "As if that would ever happen," she guffawed.
"Yeah, sugar, Ranchan isn't that flighty," Ukyo explained. "And besides, she just gave birth to her husband's children, she's happily married." Ayeka and Ryoko looked sheepishly at each other, their secret worries had been eating at the two of them and giving them short tempers.
"See, nothing to worry about," said Noike. "So please stop making things unpleasant for the rest of us."
First impressions are everything, or at least that's what the old saying says. Cologne's first impressions of the this group from America were mixed. She quickly recognized the bearing of a warrior in the ebony skinned man the moment her eyes fell on him. The one in glasses wasn't so much a warrior but she could see a great deal of intelligence in his eyes. The only woman among them was a fighter, she had the build of one, but her eyes showed more intelligence than anything. As for their leader, his aura and bearing screamed "Military" and yet he had a rather laid back personality. He was also something of a smart ass, which meant that he and Ranma were bound to bump heads at some point.
For the SG-1 team it was a different story. They were expecting an older woman in red to enter the room not the young girl who had entered and knelt down before them. She was dressed in robes which were both elegant and functional. Teal'c easily saw how the outfit was designed to mask the fact that it was made for fighting while looking regal. The big shocker was Cologne herself. At first Jack though the old matriarch was a pet monkey until she spoke up. The whole idea of a old woman as diminutive as a toddler was a major shock.
"So your government just wants to know our intentions," said Ranma after listening to Col. O'Neil for the past several minutes.
O'Neil replied, "Pretty much, we're here to find out exactly what it is you want and what you intend to do. Right now as it stands you're pretty much all there is for a government in China right now."
"Our intentions are to route out any last remnants of the old order and usher in a new one here in motherland," said Cologne, who had been silent up until now. "This nation will be restored to imperial rule as it once was before the communists too control."
"I think what Colonel O'Neil was asking was what are your intentions on an international level?" Major Carter asked, on her mind were all of the nuclear weapons that China had in its possession. Which were now in the hands of a new government, such as it was, and nobody knew what they had in mind.
"Look at this way, you are a small group which took own one of the world's biggest superpowers second only to the United States," Samantha continued. "Its got a lot of people nervous."
Ranma sighed, "They're worried about China's nukes."
"If that's what you're really worried about, let your people know that we intend to destroy all of the nuclear weapons in this country," Ranma told them after a pause.
Jack said, "The UN would probably want inspectors during that."
"They are free to come and watch if they want," said Ranma.
Dr. Jackson could see the obvious tension in the room. He himself had been a bit stunned at the beginning of his meeting. He wasn't expecting the Red Queen to be so … beautiful. "Uh, what are your intentions concerning the object that crashed in Mongolia?" Daniel asked
"That country's independence from China has not yet been addressed," said Cologne in response to Daniel's question. "As it is the object is under Joketsuzoku control at the moment."
Jack scratched the back of his head and said, "Well, there's a problem with that."
Daniel cut him off and said, "The problem is, we know its a spacecraft and our government is concerned that whoever figures out what is inside it first might gain a significant technological edge over the other countries."
"You mean your government doesn't want China controlling the object, that they want to be the ones with the technological superiority." said Cologne rather tersely.
"We don't know what's in the thing," said Jack. "It could be really dangerous for all we know, and I double you have scientists in your feminist paradise thing you're got going here."
Cologne bristle at those words and was about to verbally reprimand the male but his female companion beat her to it.
"Jack," Samantha scolded him. The others could feel the room somehow getting colder, yet it didn't seem like the place had air conditioning. Ranma knew loosing her temper here wouldn't be good, and thus employed the Soul of Ice.
Teal'c, whom had been silent since this meeting began spoke up finally and said, "Doctor Jackson and Colonel O'Neil have perhaps chosen their words unwisely. They express a concern of the United States government that the secrets of the spacecraft could potentially enter the hands of those whom would do harm with them. I am not accusing you of being the ones who would do harm, but there is the possibility that it could occur under the current circumstances."
Ranma sighed and said, "I'd allow a joint examination of the wreck with the United States, but only under the stipulation that whatever is discovered there is shared equally. There also cannot be any secrecy or cover ups otherwise there will be no deal."
"We know your government is obsessed with secrecy," said Cologne. "There are other nations which live with the threat of violence all the time, yet you have one terrorist attack and you become paranoid to the point of insanity."
Col. O'Neil pointed out, "Well, those other nations also didn't have two major skyscrapers knocked down by hijacked aircraft either."
"And the hundreds who die each year due to the violence between the Israeli and Palestinians doesn't count?" Cologne asked him angrily.
Major Carter threw up her hands and said, "Wait! This isn't getting us anywhere. Look, times for us are uncertain, we've never had anything like that happens to our country before so an overreaction is to be expected."
"Like I said, I would allow a joint investigation of the thing, but there is to be nothing held back and there is to be no secrecy." Ranma said again.
Cologne added, "Those are the terms and they are non-negotiable. What ultimately happens with the object once its been thoroughly explored and studied is for another discussion."
"We'll have to talk to our superiors about that," Jack replied.
Ranma had been thinking about this for some time and finally said, "We wouldn't object to some Red Cross assistance. There are a lot of injured people out there and the hospitals as I understand are pretty filled up to the bursting point. There were survivors in Beijing and all along the whole swath of destruction that thing made as it crashed, amazingly."
Major Carter nodded and said, "That is something we can certainly do. We're already involved in Japan and North Korea at the moment where some survivors were found in the destruction."
"Its amazing anyone survived at all, the pictures I've seen of Beijing show the city was pretty much leveled to the ground," said Cologne.
Teal'c replied, "The tenacity to survive the most dire of circumstances is one attribute of the human race that has always impressed me."
Ranma looked at him curiously. Something about what he said didn't sit right. She could feel is aura, it was rather unusual in comparison to the others before her. It reminded her of the strange aura given off by the others who had arrived not long ago. Tenchi and his personal harem.
"Yes, we do tend to persevere during the hardest of times," said Cologne whom also gave the ebony skin warrior another look and noticed his strange aura as well. She exchanged a silent message with Ranma using subtle hand gestures and body movement, an ancient and secret form of communication among the Amazons that dated back centuries.
Ranma focused her gaze on Col. O'Neil and asked, "This wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that your dark skinned friend over there isn't human would it?"
The ebony man didn't show any surprise but the expression on the faces of his colleagues told a different story. Both Ranma and Cologne smiled when they saw their attempt to hide their expressions.
"Teal'c is human like the rest of us," Samantha tried to correct her.
Ranma replied, "He's no more human than that boy and his gaggle of girl friends who showed up here from Japan not long ago."
Cologne added, "There are peoples who've lived in this region for centuries who are not entirely human. Therefore, we have a lot of experience in sensing who is and who isn't human. Your spiritual aura which all Amazons possess the ability to sense is perhaps the most effective way to detect the difference."
"So try pulling the other leg," Ranma told Sam as she looked right into her eyes. Samantha could see in those crystal blue eyes a powerful mind and intelligence, they weren't dealing with a fool here.
"We aren't at liberty to discuss that right now," Jack said finally.
Ranma waved her hand and said, "I guess that answer is good enough, for now. Lets continue this later at dinner. Our other guests will be there so its likely going to be an interesting chat."
Jack nodded and replied, "We can do that. In the meantime we'll get in touch with our superiors and let them know what you've said."
"Ok," said Ranma. She turned to Cologne and said something to her in Mandarin which only Samantha and Dr. Jackson were both able to understand.
Cologne told them, "We've had quarters prepared for you before your arrival. I'm certain that you must be rather tired from your long journey here. If you'll follow me."
Bouncing on her staff like a pogo stick Cologne lead the SG-1 team out of the guest area and up the swinging bridge walkways that wound throughout the branches of the great tree up towards another guest area separate from the one currently being used by Ranma's family. This one was much higher up in the tree and a natural opening in the canopy afforded them a view of the valley below and the sprawl of the village.
"I've seen some big trees before, but this is ridiculous," Jack commented.
Cologne explained, "An ancient legend says the tree descended from the heavens long ago. It possess a power and voice of its own. Our queen has a unique bond with the great tree, she is able hear its voice and understand what it is feeling. The night of the object crashed the tree protected this region."
"You're queen hears voices," said Jack with a curious expression on his face.
Cologne narrowed her eyes and said, "It was the tree which warned the queen of the impending arrival of the object from space."
Their guest quarters were surprisingly spacious but there were only three rooms. Sam and Teal'c were able to have rooms to themselves but Jack and Daniel had to share a room. There was a small balcony outside that overlooked the opening in the canopy of leaves and it also had its own stone hearth for cold nights.
"This tree is sentient?" Dr. Jackson asked her.
Cologne regarded him from a moment. While he wasn't a fighter by his build and the way he held his body she was impressed by his attentiveness and his eyes which looked at everything with such curiosity. He wasn't military by any stretch of the imagination despite his attire. He had the bearing of a learned man more than a warrior.
"Only the queen can say for sure," she explained. "There are a lot of mysteries surrounding this sacred tree, but I have a feeling our other guests might know something about it. We'll see tonight."
She pogo sticked over to the wall and pointed out a small rope hanging from a level. "I must leave you now, if you need anything pull his rope and someone will come and attend you." she explained.
After everyone put their gear in their respective rooms the team gathered in the main room of the guest dwelling near the hearth to talk. This first meeting wasn't anything like they'd expect it to be. They now had more questions than answers on their minds.
"How were they able to tell Teal'c wasn't human?" Jack asked Sam.
She shrugged her shoulders and said, "I'm not sure, but its clear that they were able to sense something."
"People who are spiritually attuned are said to be able to sense a person's aura," Daniel explained. "Typically the Tibetan monks are among the groups whom are said to have this ability. We know so little about these people or their ways so its hard to say what they are really capable of doing."
"They spoke of other non-humans living in this region," said Teal'c.
Daniel nodded, "The entire orient is awash in ancient legend and folklore of otherworldly beings coexisting with humans. There could well be a grain of truth to those legends."
Jack replied, "What sort of legends?"
"In this specific region, there are ancient stories of man beasts half-man half-animal," Daniel answered him as he read his notebook. "There were also legends dating back several centuries of winged people living in these mountains."
"We know aliens once lived on earth a long time ago," said Sam.
Jack replied, "Yeah, but weren't they Goa'uld?"
"Technically the Ancients would also be classified as aliens even though they are our predecessors," Daniel told him.
Teal'c spoke up and added, "It is possible that earth has been visited by many races over the centuries since the uprising against the Goa'uld."
"The general is so going to love this," Jack said as he dug the satellite phone out of his pack. He and Teal'c went to the balcony and setup the portal dish which could improve their transmission since they would be using encryption for this call. Little did any of the know their conversation at dinner time was going to be a major turning point for their mission. It was going to an event that changed everything.
Jack's little chat with General Hammond was an interesting one. He was right about the General's reaction to everything that was discussed. The fact that they could tell Teal'c wasn't human was a major revelation. A few hours after the team's remote debriefing the team received a call from the SGC on their satellite phone.
"This is Colonel O'Neil," Jack said as he answer the call. The rest of the team listened, each waring headphones with a mic so they could each respond.
"Colonel, I just finished briefing the President," said Gen. Hammond. "You're orders are to secure a cooperative agreement and peace accord with the Amazons at any cost, he's willing to accept their terms concerning the Visitor and will be briefing the UN Security Counsel concerning their plans for China's nuclear arsenal."
Jack looked surprised and said, "Well that sounds good, but I hear a big but in there somewhere." He knew Hammond long enough to know he seemed agitated by something, it was the tone of the man's voice.
"Unfortunately there is, we've learned that the Iranians are interested in forging an alliance with the current government of China." the general replied.
Sam looked at Jack in surprise and said, "This is the first we've heard of this, as far as we know we're the only foreign delegation here."
General Hammond told them, "Their delegation has arrived yet because of a blockage by what's left of the Chinese navy. Technically they still haven't surrendered and are working out amongst themselves what to do next."
"Do they intend to counter attack the Amazons?" Teal'c asked. It was on the minds of everyone. Those ships carried nuclear weapons and cruise missiles. Getting one here so far inland wouldn't be a problem.
"That is a possibility," said the general. "At the moment we have three carrier groups in the Sea of China on the Japanese side of the boarder. The President doesn't want this to escalate any further than it already has so we're trying to negotiate with them, but its slow going."
"If they launch a nuclear cruise missile into this area we'll have about ten to fifteen minutes to reach a safe distance," Sam pointed out this fact to Jack.
Daniel chimed in and said, "I don't think we'd be in danger. I remember Cologne said the tree protected this region."
"How?" Sam asked him.
"If this tree possess some form of power it would stand to reason it generated a shield over this land." said Teal'c.
"A tree, making a force field," Jack said incredulously.
"Compared to all that we've seen over the years, I'd say its possible." said Daniel.
General Hammond asked, "Is this that massive tree you mentioned?"
"Yes, general, we're in a house built in its branches right now," Jack told him. He looked out over the balcony at the ground below to judge their height. "I'd say we're about fifteen to twenty stories up right now, and that's only half way up this thing."
"Nothing like that has shown on satellite imagery." Hammond told him. That was also a surprise for the team, they looked at one another questioningly.
"Well, its here and its real, general." said Daniel.
After a pause the General continued, "Alright, SG-1 your orders are to forge a treaty with the new government of Chinese using any means necessary. I'll get back with you on everything else once we get more intel on our end."
"Yes, sir." Jack said with a salute though he knew the general couldn't see it.
"Well, looks like we've got our work cut out for us." Samantha said as Jack shutdown the satellite link.
To be continued...
Notes: I had intended to put the dinner in this chapter but I was running out of ideas, until I had an interesting idea of how to advance the story and incorporate the dinner into that. I've been fighting writer's block something fierce for a while now after deciding to start my professional novel. Also, most of this chapter is the original and most is new material because I had the document open when the power went out and I hadn't saved in a while. Luckily OpenOffice was able to restore most of the file and I only had to replace some of it.
Anyway, the next chapter will refer back to the dinner in flashback sequences. The story will be set further on into the future after the new government of China and the United States forged a treaty and start exploring the crashed ship together. In this time frame it will be five years later. No more spoilers from here on. Hope you liked this chapter and I promise to have the next one as soon as I can.