"It's a trap!" Aldwin hissed.

It certainly looked that way. From her position down the corridor just behind Aldwin and Teal'c, Garshaw looked past the length of braid to the fallen young man's face, searching for any sign the one they'd called Houerv had vacated his hostage. None. The floor beneath him was clean.

"It was indeed a trap," the Jaffa said darkly. "Yet not in the manner you believe."

"Most of Macha's spies tried to bluff their way out rather than take a hostage," Chang noted, dark eyes on the twitching body. Trowa and Quatre had remained behind with Jacob and Samantha, calming Garshaw's stirred Council, but the dark-haired Preventer looked as confident as if he had an entire squad of SG Marines behind him. "But then, those spies had heard what happened to the Goa'uld who tried to take certain Preventers as hosts."

"What-" Garshaw started.

Duo's body heaved, something long and glistening black writhing from between his lips.

That - that was a symbiote, Garshaw thought, shocked.

Black rippled as the worm-like form twitched on the floor, squirming like an uprooted earthworm. Bone appeared where the tip of a tail should have been. The white surface crumbled and collapsed into black, which fell back to expose more bone, then more black….

"Stay back!" Chang's hand closed on Garshaw's wrist, halting her involuntary step forward. "Shi no Yami is deadly in this form!"

"Shi no-?" Aldwin's eyes were wide and white as he searched his elder's face for answers.

No. Garshaw held back Yosuuf's shiver. "Nemain destroyed them…."

Chang smirked at her. "She missed."

Gurgling, the last of the infiltrator collapsed into black slime.

Teal'c regarded it with the same wary disdain he gave one of Anise's medical experiments. "Duo Maxwell?"

Slowly, the still form sat up. Rubbed his temples. "Man… that always gives me a headache…."

"You're alive?" Aldwin squeaked.

"Yep." Violet blinked at them. Gave them a dark, vicious grin. "But keep coming closer, and you won't be. 'Fei? You mind?"

Chang waved his hand, and dark slime sizzled. "This will take a few minutes to be certain."

"As you may see, Councilor," Teal'c said gravely, "It would be unwise for Sanq's Alliance to provide the Tok'ra with hosts."

For the first time in untold centuries of life, Garshaw found herself with nothing to say.


"Jesus H. Cluny Frog…." Major Hopkins craned his head back farther, and farther, trying to take in the sweep of buildings arching up the L3 colony's artificial horizon.

Dr. Fraiser steadied him before he fell over. "Something else, huh?" The SGC doctor looked around the Angels Hospital roof, eyes following the dart of white and blue news hovers outside the edge of the Preventer perimeter. "Believe it or not, this place is a lot quieter than the last time we were here-"

"Dr. Fraiser!" A tall woman with short blue hair and a Preventer's formal uniform hurried toward them, an elegant blond man in the informal jacket following her. Her English carried the same accent as Preventer Akako's, but the harried look on her face was common to mid-level officers caught in the middle of a press opportunity everywhere. "Good, you're here. Come on, we need you. The Council's in such a hurry to wrangle over this, Lady Peacecraft's speech started ahead of schedule…."


"I'll look after them." The blond smiled wryly. "By this time, I would say I know the Angels critical ward quite well."

"Preventer Zechs Merquise," their new guide introduced himself, long blond hair brushing his jacket as he gave the two EOD specialists a half-bow. He waved a hand toward the retreating women. "My life partner - wife? - Preventer Lucrezia Noin. She prefers Noin. And you are Major Hopkins and Sergeant Carlson?"

"Yeah." With an effort, Hopkins tore his eyes away from his surroundings, focussing on their new minder. Who, like this colony, gave him that overwhelming sense of difference he hadn't felt since the first time he stepped into one of Japan's old Shinto shrines.

This isn't home. These people aren't Americans.

But they were still human. After facing down Reavers, that meant a lot. "Preventer Li?"

"She's been asking after you." With a nod, Zechs led them in toward the elevators. "Apparently you kept a very cool head under hostile conditions. Dragons notice that."

"They do?" Oh, lame, Hopkins groaned mentally. Almost as lame as the small get-well package stuffed in the kit bag over his shoulder; a package whose contents he'd had to clear with a very surprised Dr. Jackson, to make sure there wasn't anything in it to offend a very different culture.

At least, they hoped none of it was offensive. Only one way to find out.

Zechs' eyes danced, quietly laughing. "When your children are likely to start setting things on fire by will after the age of seven… yes, Major. They notice."

Oh, great, everybody thinks this is funny… did he say, set things on fire?

"Space," Carlson said numbly, leaning on his crutches as steel doors sealed them in. Surgery and some work with healing devices had left him fit to limp, but after some consultation with Dr. Po, Janet had declared that a certain amount of healing ought to happen the old-fashioned way. "Major, we're in space."

"I noticed." Hopkins whistled quietly. "Wonder how long it'll be until we have places like this?"

"Likely a few decades." Punching buttons that started the elevator moving down. Zechs studied them openly. "If your world's government likes to argue as much as the Alliance Council."

Honest. Colonel O'Neill said don't volunteer info, but be honest. "Um, we… don't have a world government," Hopkins said reluctantly.

Zechs paused, hand poised over the console. Looked them over, obviously gauging their sincerity. "That's going to make things interesting." A smile crept into the corners of his lips.


"I was just thinking that my sister's been complaining about Council being the same old boring diplomatic wrangle lately. Dull. Predictable. Anything but interesting." The smile broadened. "I think this could qualify as interesting."

"You have a sister?" Carlson perked up.

Hopkins tried not to sigh. If Zechs' sister was on this Council, she was not only a politician - bad news for any soldier - but a very high-level muckety-muck indeed. Oh well, he thought as the doors opened onto a quiet, cream-painted corridor lined with subtle flower arrangements. Let the guy dream. "This is a critical ward?"

"Critical recovery," Zechs nodded, stopping by a spray of something that looked like red and flame-streaked orchids to let a white-suited nurse push a cart by. "Po says it has to do with peace and quiet being necessary components of the healing process. I have to take her word for it; whenever I break something, I'm used to gunfire in the background…." Blue eyes checked the symbols on the door. "Here." He knocked.


Hopkins let out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. "Special delivery," he said, trying to keep his tone light as he walked in on the woman sitting up in bed swathed in bandages and a light, blue-iris-patterned kimono.

Dark hair cropped short near the bandages along the right side of her face, Preventer Li blinked at him. "Nani?"

"Um, Earth joke, I guess. Ah - here." Glancing aside, Hopkins held out his pair of gifts; one envelope, and one tight-wrapped rectangular package. "Where we come from, there's this custom… a get-well gift? It's from everybody in my unit, you know, the guys who would've been all over the walls if you hadn't-" Lame, lame, lame… oh, man. "Anyway. Dr. Jackson asked some of your guys, they said this would be okay. You open the card first," he added in a rush.

Visible brow scrunched down in a black line of concentration, Li Akako filched a short metal handle out from under her pillow. Flicked it, and carefully slit the side of the envelope with her revealed switchblade.

A hospital where they let you have knives. That's different….

Carlson leaned close in anticipation as Akako studied the handmade card. First there was the picture on the outside; everybody in the SGC's new EOD unit, frozen mid-wave, with Hopkins just beginning to cut into a vanilla cake decked with white candles around the rim and one tall red candle in the middle. When we got this job, we couldn't help but think of you, the scribbled text at the bottom read.

Then came the inside picture; candles burned out, one piece missing out of the yellow cake now frosted with black chocolate icing, and the whole group smeared with black face-paint.

Another near miss! Get well soon!

Akako made a choking noise.

"Um - sorry - that was supposed to be funny-" Hopkins looked frantically around the room. "There's got to be some water here somewhere-"

It took him a moment to realize she was laughing.

But her grip on her knife was firm as she slit the rest of the wrapping, unveiling one plain-bound book and a binder full of assorted pages. Akako traced her finger across the block script of the title, sounding out the words. "Air Force… Explosives Ordinance Detachment… Training Manual?"

"That's us!" Carlson grinned.

Oh. Ouch. "Sorry, I didn't think - I mean, you spoke English, didn't occur to me you might not read it," Hopkins stammered.

"We focussed on the spoken language," Zechs commented from his corner. "Our writing system borrows heavily from Goa'uld, and it's very different from your letters."

"But I know - a small of it," Akako said after a moment to think. "It will help me - try?"

"Practice," Hopkins confirmed. "The rest - well, it's mostly pictures anyway, in case you get interested in visiting…."

Wondering fingers skipped past brochures on Colorado to unfold a poster, pausing on the globe of blue and white suspended in the black of space. "Per-Tau'ri?"

"Earth," Hopkins nodded, feeling the sudden laser intensity of Zechs' attention. "That's home." Funny, thinking of a whole planet as home.

"I hadn't realized it would look so much like Sanq," the blond Preventer said softly.

"Our ancestors' home." Li's eyes softened. She looked up. "My given name is Akako. What is yours?"

Staring into deep black eyes, Hopkins' brain blanked. Given name? Er- ah-

"I'm Paul. Paul Carlson," Carlson stated. Lifted a crutch, and thumped his superior officer lightly on the head with the handle. "And rumor has it the guy trying not to trip over his own tongue here goes by the name of Jason Hopkins."

Funny, how the floor never opened up and swallowed you when you wanted it to. "Hi," Hopkins managed. "So - how's the weather around here lately?" Oh, for crying out loud, Hopkins, you're on a space station!

Dark brows wrinkled in thought. "I am not native to this colony, but - I think they plan for it to rain this evening?"

…And the space station has rain. Hoo boy.

Sound burst suddenly from Zechs' corner; the Preventer stepped back with a look of anticipation, as colored light swirled over a gray, box-like device to form a holographic image of crowds gathered around an occupied stage. "I believe you may wish to see this."


I'm not going to faint, Major Janet Fraiser, M.D., repeated silently, trying not to stare too hard at the foreign crowd murmuring and filming every detail of the alien uniforms standing at attention on the Colony Hall stage. I am not going to faint….

"In recognition of her bravery and correct actions in the face of a previously-unknown Plague of the Eight, knowingly risking her own life to save innocent civilians and prevent further spread of the infection, we hereby award Dr. Janet Fraiser of Earth's SGC the Knot of Gorgon!"

Like our Medal of Honor, Janet thought as she walked toward Lady Relena Peacecraft's warm, politically savvy smile. For gallantry at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.

Solemnly, Relena pinned the light, silvery medal to her uniform; three diamond-patterned vipers whose bodies entwined in a Celtic endless knot, fangs striking out to left, right, and ahead at their enemies.

Janet saluted as Relena bowed, holding it until the ambassador rose again, executing a sharp left turn and parade-marching back towards the rest of the SGC personnel who'd gotten shanghaied into this whole ceremony. Deep breaths, she told herself. Slowly, slowly, passing out from hyperventilation is not the way to make a good impression here….

Especially given that Lady Peacecraft had now launched into the body of her speech announcing the Council-verified death of Dimme to a roar of savage approval that literally shook the stage.

"Your patience, gentle-ladies and gentle-sirs, please!" The subtle transceiver tucked behind Janet's ear murmured the rough translation of Relena's amplified voice. "Allow us to finish; we've scheduled plenty of time for questions. Indeed, we must have them; for while the Council has taken action thus far, we now must hear our people's voices on this meeting with our ancient kin, the Tau'ri of Earth, before we move further…."

"Got 'em eating out of her hand," Jack murmured as Janet reached them. "Ten gets you two they clear the treaty by a landslide." He eyed the Gorgon's Knot. "Looks good on you."

"Looks kind of jarring," Janet muttered back. "Sir, what am I going to do with this? I can't wear it in public-"

"Not yet," Colonel O'Neill said firmly. "General's got meetings scheduled with the Joint Chiefs, the congressional committee on intelligence oversight, the representatives of the UN Security Council… and a couple of guys in the Freedom of Information Office who're holding down some interesting info on a bunch of really old Egyptian artifacts."

Janet held back a whistle. We're really going to do this. "It still feels weird."

"Relax, Major. Soon as her docs give her the clear, maybe a week or two, we get to turn the tables." Jack waggled his eyebrows. "I want to see Preventer Li's face when she gets the Silver Star."


"I can only say, it seemed like a good idea at the time, Riyani," Ambrin said humbly.

Eagle perched in a nearby tree, the elderly Gault falconer eyed the young Tok'ra operative, and shook his head. "You came back for your clan and kin, Ambrin. Anything else, we can mend." He turned to Jacob Carter with a growling sigh. "And having disagreed with your clan leaders over many things, including what they wished for our world, you now wish to start a new clan of your kind, here."

::And having defied a Council whose members are over two millennia old, we now have to rely on the approval of a youngster….::

He's not that young, Selmac, Jacob thought. "From what I've seen, we might all benefit from that, Elder Riyani," he said respectfully. "This place has been peaceful before, and will be again; a good place to raise a child of ours." Bless your practical, acquisitive heart, Sammie; you managed to grab two queens out of that larva-pile. "And we're pretty sure we've caught all the Reavers, but 'pretty sure' isn't sure. If one crops up, my people are immune. They can hold and bind it and its victims until a healer can come to treat the plague."

Riyani waited.

"The Tok'ra," Jacob said carefully, "Are scared to death of some Alliance citizens."

"The women with snake hair," Riyani noted dryly. "I might think them demons myself, had I not seen their kindness, and bravery." He tipped a gaze up to eagle eyes. "And Climbs High senses no evil in them."

Which is something I really want to talk to the Preventers about, Jacob thought. The information we had on Beastmasters says they can connect with animals - it doesn't say how. And this was one of Heru'ur's worlds. How in the galaxy did that mutation end up here?

::We thought it was simply another of Stheno's manipulations,:: Selmac agreed. ::Yet she claimed it was not her creation. That like Lamashtu's empaths, she merely brought to the forefront a gift that already existed in humankind, faceting it as a jeweler would an emerald found on the strand. If that is true….::

Then maybe the Tok'ra didn't know as much about humans as they thought.

"So you wish a presence here, that both you and the Alliance clans may be bound by treaty-peace when you meet," Riyani declared.


"A wise thought." Riyani whistled; dark gold feathers fluttered to his gloved hand. "Come. Let us address those elders who survived."

Ambrin winced again, falling in beside Jacob as they followed the falconer. "The High Council's not happy I'm here, are they?" he murmured.

"Fuming," Jacob acknowledged. "Though I think you and Rede got lucky; you just got lost in the shuffle."

Ambrin's head dipped. "There truly was a spy?" Rede asked. "And you did tell the Council you were taking any who wished to work within your operations, and joining your efforts with the SGC directly, and they could - jump off a cliff?"

"Something like that…."


"It's still cold here," Quatre murmured, hands clenching as if he wanted to chafe his arms through his thick jacket.

And not simply in the physical sense, Trowa thought, looking about the Cimmerian's high hall as wary warriors listened to Daniel Jackson's flowing explanation in their own language of just what had - and hadn't - happened, the last time Preventers had come to Cimmeria. Hrere rubbed against his side with a low purr; Daniel had advised they bring the esmeril this time, despite her lack of training with outsiders. Something about how an association with a cat would make clear their alliance with powers like Freya, and so be an honest declaration of their feelings toward each other, clear as the amber pendant that now hung in plain view over Quatre's leather jacket.

A faint smile touched Trowa's face as he glanced over the flowing lines of a Beastmaster's hawk carved in translucent gold. If nothing else, this fiasco had offered him the chance to give his love a gift.

And possibly more than one, the Beastmaster thought in sudden humor, watching Quatre's would-be seducer stare gape-mouthed at the braid-crowned blonde vision in a Preventer's jacket with medic flashes that had accompanied their party.

"That's Beornegar?" Jazira Winner stifled a giggle, leaning near her younger brother.

Quatre rolled his eyes. "The one with the tongue. Yes."


Trowa let out a quiet breath as Daniel's formal thanks to Gairwyn for her message to the SGC ended, and the two groups started cautiously mingling. And here comes the real test.

"One of the flying cats, like those who draw Freya's own chariot through the skies." Gairwyn looked them over, careful not to approach Hrere too closely as the esmeril fanned whiskers in her direction. "Bound to a child of the Mother of Witches herself… so Daniel spoke only the truth. It is your wyrd to be one who follows the way of seidr."

Wyrd, Trowa recalled Daniel's explanation of that particular belief in Cimmerian culture. Fate. The unalterable will even the gods must bow to.

"It is the thread the Norns have spun for me," Quatre said steadily. "Perhaps they were confused; I was the last child of my parents, their only son, and lived by the slimmest of chances. It would not be so difficult, I think, to spin out a thread for yet another daughter and discover the mistake too late."

"A hard fate for a warrior to carry." Gairwyn frowned, troubled.

"We live not as we would, but as we must," Trowa said quietly. "On our world, Quatre is accounted one with great honor, and a pure heart. I assure you, we intended no insult."

"As if you ever would!" Jazira laughed softly. "Gairwyn, my brother may be strange to you, but I promise you, I could not ask for a finer kinsman." She stood on tiptoe to look through the crowd, smile turning wry with mischief. "Though I think I'd like to meet a few of yours…."

Sashaying through the crowd, Jazira headed straight for Dr. Jackson, her swift grab of his wrist eliciting his aid in a formal introduction to Beornegar, Hjalmar, Ottar, and the rest of the hulking warrior clan. Trowa grinned. "One down, twenty-two left to go."


"What kind of partner would I be if I didn't see your sisters settled with the mate of their choice?" Trowa said reasonably. "You look after Catherine when she's testing the waters with a new man."

"That's different!"

"Yes. One sister is a lot easier than twenty-nine." He cast his partner a sidelong look. "Did your parents ever sleep?"


"Congress," Major Paul Davis, SGC liaison to the Pentagon and other various higher-ups said bluntly as he, General Hammond, and Colonel O'Neill approached the SGC cafeteria, "Is throwing three kinds of fits. The President's staff is scrambling six ways from Sunday trying to figure out just what we agreed to and how to present it to the American people without causing a mass panic. Last I heard, somebody got the bright idea to call in Hollywood and make a couple movies about it. And the UN Security Council's reaction might best be summed up as ack."

"Ack?" Jack smirked.

"Russia's kind of huh, Britain and France are still blinking over the whole aliens-are-out-there bit, and… you don't want to know what China said. Trust me."

"I suppose they might find the L1 component of Sanq's population unsettling," Hammond observed as they walked into a room crowded with SG teams, off-duty staff, and a few visiting Preventers. "But no matter what their appearance, they're over two thousand years from Japan, Major."

"Old hates die hard, sir…."

Heading for a table full of familiar faces, Jack left the brass to their discussion; he'd banged his head against this particular diplomatic wall for days, from the Earth and Sanq sides of the equation, and darned if he wasn't going to take the afternoon off. "Hey."

"They let you loose?" Daniel quipped.

"Nah," Jack waggled his eyebrows. "I broke out with a paperclip and a quarter."

"Not to mention a bribe to the secretarial staff of three reams of paper and a case of whiteout," Sam put in.

"I had heard that profane threats to a copier were a deciding factor," Teal'c noted thoughtfully.

"So I don't like paperwork. Who does? And I don't mean the fun kind of scribbling equations on Sanq fusion reactors type paperwork," Jack added as Sam's expression took on a distant, eager edge. "Sheesh. All these computers in the place, you'd think they could figure some way we don't have to file everything in triplicate."

"Unlikely." Heero set his tray down on their table; outwardly as fluid as ever, but Jack's gaze caught a lingering hint of stiffness. "Lacking adequate security protocols in place to eliminate tampering, computerized records without hardcopy backup are an invitation to disaster."

"And you're talking to a guy who knows." Duo balanced a ruby cube of cherry Jello on his spoon, zipping it this way and that through air before tossing it up and catching it in a snap of jaws. "Trust me. Came to Heero, no file was safe."

"Sally still hasn't cleared you for the flight line, huh?" Jack asked, sympathetic.

"She believes I need time to adjust to the fact of the demise of the last System Lord currently mounting attacks on Sanq." Heero didn't - quite - scowl as he sat. "And it is wise to allow A-Mushen a certain length of time to adjust to life within the Alliance. Without the sight of those who came to kill her while Dimme held her mind and body captive."

"I'm sure she knows you were trying to help her," Daniel pointed out.

"She knows we came to kill Dimme," Duo said matter-of-factly. "Saving her was a plus. I were her, I'd be ticked as hell at us." He shrugged. "Far as we can tell, Dimme had her as a host for somewhere over four hundred years. Lady's got a right to be ticked at somebody. And she's probably going to be over half of Preventer headquarters on Sanq while people debrief her. If staying clear of her for a few weeks helps her get her head on straight, hey, I could use a break." The braid rustled over his jacket as he glanced Teal'c's way. "So how's Apuki's crew doing?"

Teal'c hesitated. "They are… less than the most skilled of troops. Although I do not believe it is for lack of effort on Master Apuki's part."

"Mesha' new aped-ib?" Duo asked wryly.


Jack raised a questioning eyebrow.

"An army of klutzes," Daniel filled in.

Ah. Explained why Dimme had them in range of a minefield. "At least they were smart enough to back down klutzes," Jack shrugged, habit drawing some of his gaze toward the guys just coming into the cafeteria. There was Simmons from the 'Gateroom, and Siler, with Dr. Warner just a step behind… infirmary must be under control, then. Good. "We got 'em on one of the planets we use for training missions while we sort out the ones who want to join up from the hardcore loyalists and the guys who just want out."

"Your people are really willing to take in the Jaffa who just want to quit." Sam pursed her lips in a silent whistle. "I'm not sure we'd be able to do that here."

"It would be difficult," Heero agreed. "You do not have a society that bears some small resemblance to the one they are familiar with, nor the legal and police forces familiar with the various dangers possible from Jaffa still bearing prim'ta."

"I was thinking more about the fact that people tend not to like other groups of people who've been shooting at them," Sam said after a moment.

Heero blinked at her. "Dimme may not have been an honorable foe, but Tek'mateh Apuki acted with courage and due care for his command. His people will be well regarded."

"Mostly, anyway," Duo added under his breath.

And the kid's still not sitting down, Jack noted, suddenly suspicious. What the heck is-

Still snickering at one of Simmons' hand-waving stories, Sergeant Siler reached into the tray of Jello bowls.

Polka-dotted fangs flew at him.


"Yes!" Duo clenched a subtle, triumphant fist.

Not subtle enough. Siler scrambled off the floor. Scanned the room. Snarled. "Die, Maxwell!"

Chortling, the Preventer bolted, braid bare inches from Siler's claw-fingered grip before Duo poured on the speed and raced for the corridor.

Expressionless, Heero sipped his coffee. "Duo prefers an irregular exercise program."


Ah. Daniel lounged back against a boulder, eyes closed against the early-morning sun on the top of the mountain. Fresh air. Quiet….

And a sudden chill, as someone stepped between him and the sun. "You okay?"

"I was, before someone turned off the heat," the archaeologist muttered.

Duo stepped clear of the sunlight; eyes still closed, Daniel tracked the younger man's quiet footsteps as the pilot circled near him. "So… Janet says she's pretty sure you've leveled out," Duo ventured.

"If by level you mean nor-adrenaline concentrations that make Warner look at me like I'm a bomb that hasn't decided to go off yet," Daniel muttered.

"He'll deal," Duo said firmly. "He's tougher than he thinks." A moment's pause. "So are you."

So you think. "It's not that I'm not glad to be alive," Daniel said quietly. "It's just… if I'd known…."

Duo's toe scuffed rocky dirt. "If it helps - you were the first Tau'ri we'd ever seen. The first real shot we'd had at getting allies against the Goa'uld. I couldn't let you die."

"That's what Jack said." My whole planet at stake? You bet I'd've made the same call, Jack had said bluntly.

Well. Done was done. Daniel let out a breath. "I guess it's just as well they are still keeping an eye on me. This way, Catherine Langford gets to be the front-runner on presenting the archaeological evidence around the Stargate program. And her reputation's a lot… saner… than mine."

"Yeah?" Duo sounded warily interested.

"Yeah." Daniel rubbed at the back of his neck. "Jack wanted it to be me. Which I really appreciate, it's going to be nice to be thought of as a legitimate scholar again, but - I don't think he quite gets what it means in the academic community, when people walk out on you in the middle of your last public lecture…."

Duo scuffed the ground. "I'm going to take a flying leap here and guess it's kind of like planting a charge under the bad guys' ammo dump and hearing it go fizz."

Daniel smiled wryly. "Something like that."

Light and shadow moved as Duo nodded. "So you're going to let this lady Catherine fly point on the whole ancient-Egypt-influenced-by-aliens theme, then sweep in her opening when they're not looking and solidify your forces before they can counterattack."

"Well… yeah, I guess so." Academia as seen by a Gundam pilot, Daniel thought, amazed. I've got to get Catherine to meet you.

"Good." Duo drank in the wind. "Now that we've got that straightened out… where's my snake?"

Hiding a grin, Daniel cracked an eye open to meet impatient violet. "You mean Jack's snake."

"Hey!" Duo looked at him askance. "My snake!"

"We have a saying here on Earth," Daniel observed, making himself comfortable on granite. "Possession is nine-tenths of the law. You left it - probably the wisest thing to do, Siler looked pretty serious about throttling you - Jack grabbed it. You want it, ask him."

"I did. He smirked at me." Duo perched on a nearby rock, aggrieved. "And then he slipped this under my door."

Curious, Daniel took the color printout. What the….

Carefully coiled, the rubber Goa'uld posed in all its polka-dotted glory in front of this morning's paper, a combat knife poised just behind its dorsal fin. Some wit had used a photo-manipulation program to add a speech balloon of "Help! Save me!"

Daniel choked. Worked his jaw. Tried not to snicker.

"Oh yeah, laugh it up." Duo tapped his fingers on rock. "Nobody out-pranks Duo Maxwell."

Of course you know, this means war, a snickering corner of Daniel's mind spoke up. "I - ah - really don't know where it is," the archaeologist said honestly. "You could try the locker room-"

"Checked that."

"The infirmary-"


"Jack's office…?"

"Not there, either."

Daniel blinked. "You got into Jack's office? I have got to talk to Security."

"I'm a Gundam pilot," Duo said wryly. "Talk to Security all you want." He leaned back against dew-chilled stone. "'Kay, Daniel. Fair warning. Somebody is holding my snake in an undisclosed location. I'm going to get it back."

"Oh yeah?" Daniel raised skeptical eyebrows. "How?"

Shinigami grinned.




Translations from Egyptian.

Sen-ef! - It's open.

Per-Tau'ri? - The House of the Tau'ri.

Mesha' new aped-ib? - Army of bird-brains.

Translations from Japanese:

Nani? - What?

Owari - the end.