Hi. Thanks again for reading my story, sorry for the long delay. We're almost done with this.

Chapter 39 – The Shepherd and the Machinist

Sam and Jack entered the Mill to find two men standing next to a large piece of machinery. One was a massive man who was as tall and muscular as Teal'c. He looked to be in his upper fifties with graying hair. He was looking down at a younger, rotund man who was sweating and looking around as if he didn't want to be under the other man's gaze.

"Can you fix it or not?" the taller man asked.

"I just need some more time. I think I figured out why it doesn't work, I just need time to fix it now." The other man smiled at the big man.

"That is what you have been saying for the past week. Either you can fix it or you can't." The older man was getting angrier, when he finally noticed they had company. His demeanor changed immediately as he turned smiling to face the strangers. "Greetings friends, how may I be of service to you?"

Jack took a step forward. "Greetings, we were told we might be able to find someone named Thalor here."

"I am Thalor." the older man's smile grew broader as he stepped forward and held out his hand. "I am the owner of this mill, and this is Timon." He said, indicating the younger man with a slight note of disdain.

"I'm Jack and this is my wife Sam." Jack shook Thalor's hand as he made the introductions.

"Welcome to Ixnia. How may I be of service to you? Are you buyers?"

"Buyers? No, I'm sorry, we're new to Ixnia and were hoping to find work and maybe a place to stay."

"Work?" Thalor looked at Jack a moment, "Are you a machinist?"

"Machinist? Well, I've been known to be able to run some equipment, drill press, lathe, that sort of thing. What would you need me to do?" Jack knew he could probably run whatever kind of machinery they might have in this place, although he only saw the one piece, which looked more like an old, complicated, Rube Goldberg looking loom thing, than any type of machinist's equipment.

"Lathe? I am unfamiliar with this term. I need someone who can fix my machine, a machinist. As you are no doubt aware, Ixnia is known in all the villages for it's fine fabrics. It is all because of my machine here." Thalor was swelling with pride as he pointed out the monstrosity next to him. "It creates a finer thread and produces the world's best fabrics. It will not work and I need it running to fill my orders. It is this machine that ensures Ixnia's prosperity. Can you fix it?" He turned to Jack with an eager look in his eyes.

Jack had started to tune him out right about where he said that Ixnia produced fine fabrics as he looked at the coarse clothing both he and the other man were wearing. He was still looking between the two men and the large machine when Thalor reached out and grabbed the cuff of Jack's sleeve.

"Where did you get this fabric? It is finer than anything I have ever seen before."

"Um, well, it's just something we brought from home, which is far, far away." Jack wasn't sure how much to tell these people yet about where they were from.

"Surely with fabric like that, you must know something about this machine and how to fix it." Thalor was now almost pleading.

"What about the people who made the machine, can't they fix it for you?" Jack questioned.

"Alas, no. It was built by Rynoldt." The tall man bowed and shook his head. "He is no longer with us."

Sam took this opportunity to speak up, "What happened to him?"

"He was... he was different. Not right in the head, if you know what I mean. He was always thinking of ways to make things do work for him. Little machines to help with seeding and planting. Then he made this machine, because his father started having difficulties with the loom as he got older. But he was always talking about wanting to fly like the birds. We warned him. We told him that people couldn't fly. He just wouldn't listen."

Jack and Sam looked at each other for a moment during the pause. "What happened?"

"He made himself a set of wings and went to the top of Answell Hill to try to fly. We buried him on the hill so he would be closer to the sky."

"Oh, we're sorry to hear that. So you've never seen anyone or anything other than birds fly? Not even in big, gold, ships?"

Thalor looked at Jack as if he'd sprouted two heads. "You know as well as I do it's not possible to fly. People are too large and too heavy."

"What about dragons? They are large and heavy, but they can fly." Jack wasn't sure what kind of reaction he would get by mentioning dragons, but hoped for something positive.

"They are magical beasts. Legends say they can do many things, but we are just people, with no such special magic. Flying is not something we could ever do. But, if you can fix my machine, I will give you a job and you may even have Rynoldt's house to live in."

Jack looked at the machine again and then back to Thalor. "I'm actually more of a soldier and fisherman myself, but Sam here could probably fix your machine and get it to run better than it ever did before."

The younger man, Timon, who had been silently watching the conversation until this point started to laugh. "A woman? Fix the machine? It's not possible. They are only fit for cooking and sewing."

Jack just smirked at the man. "I'd be careful if I were you, she can do almost anything you could, and if you still don't believe it, just ask her to arm wrestle you."

"Thalor, turn these people away, it is clear there is something wrong with them."

Thalor, however, was staring at Sam as she walked over to the machine and started examining parts of it. After a few moments, she turned to Thalor. "If I fix your machine by the end of tomorrow, will that be good enough?"

The younger man started laughing again.

Thalor nodded his head, "If you fix it by tomorrow eve, you will have a job and place to stay. I will also find work for Jack. We do not need soldiers, but our livestock does need guarding." He looked at the P-90 Jack had slung around his neck and knew it must be a weapon of some sort. "We could always use a shepherd if you are willing."

At this Timon stormed out of the mill.

Thalor shook his head. "Do not mind him, he wanted this job because he thought it would be easy. Now he must go back to the fields to earn his way."

After they finalized the arrangements for their work and housing, Jack and Sam left the mill to go back to where they had left Rover. As they exited the building, Timon walked up to Jack. "How dare you! You come into my town and take my job and my house and give it to this woman. You will pay for this." He brought his fist back and as he was about to take a swing at Jack, a rock fell from the tree above them and hit him in the head. Timon stumbled backwards and tripped over a protruding root to fall flat on his back. He got up rubbing the quickly forming bump on his head and looked up into the tree. "Even the birds are helping you!" With that he stalked away from them.

Jack looked at the very familiar, slightly damp rock that was now sitting on the ground. He picked it up and looked up into the tree. The leaves were too dense to see anything, but he knew Rover was up there somewhere. "Rover!" he whispered. "You shouldn't have come here. Don't let anyone see you."

Jack and Sam settled themselves under the tree and discussed the day's events. They wanted to wait until the sun set before they headed back to the cave with Rover, so they could avoid any unnecessary attention for now.