By Nix Nada
General Jack O'Neill sat in his office, shifting piles of paper around his desk like a sulking child with a plate full of green vegetables. He picked up a mission report from SG-12 and glared at it.
So, it's come to this, he thought gloomily. From defender of the planet to pusher of the pen. From Air Force pilot to desk jockey.
Being the leader of Stargate Command's number one team had given his life purpose, had dragged him back to humanity at one of the lowest points in his life and had given him the strength and the will to go on.
He tossed the report back into the chaotic nest of papers on his desk, hung his head, and sighed.
Just then, a bright flash of light flared for a moment, in the corner of the room.
Jack looked up, suddenly delighted. "Thor!" he cried, happily. "Buddy!"
However, the figure standing in Jack's office was not an Asgard, but a short man with collar-length dark hair, wearing a bright red all-in-one jumpsuit with a large silver triangle emblazoned across the chest.
The man held out his arm as if to shake hands, but with a gap between his middle and ring fingers, and gave a friendly smile.
"Nanu nanu," said the man.
o o o
Later, after the brief formalities of interrogation and examination that greet any unexpected visitor who flashes into existence in the most secret of military bases, the man was shown to the briefing room, where SG-1 waited to meet him.
"Everybody," said General O'Neill, "this is Mork – a visitor to our planet. Mork, this is Major Samantha Carter, Doctor Daniel Jackson and Teal'c."
Mork looked around the table, giving a little wave to each person sitting there. "Nanu," he said to Sam and, "nanu," to Daniel, and to Teal'c, "nanu."
Sam and Daniel exchanged bewildered looks, while Teal'c merely stared at the newcomer, silently assessing him.
"Um… nanu," replied Daniel, always keen to respond in a being's own language.
Mork grinned. "Nanu nanu," he said happily.
"Nanu?" asked Daniel.
Jack lifted his hand. "Let's not start that again," he said. "We had enough of that when we questioned him. We thought it was all he could say; turns out he was just being friendly. So to cut a long, incredibly boring story short – Daniel, it means 'hello'"
"Ah," said Daniel, knowing when he'd been put in his place.
"Take a seat," said Jack to their visitor.
Mork pulled one of the seats next to Teal'c away from the table, turned, bent over and lowered himself onto the chair – head first.
"What are you doing?" asked Jack.
Mork straightened up and turned. "That's still not caught on?" he asked.
Jack shook his head and Mork sat down on the chair in the usual fashion. "I'm telling you," he said, "in a few bleems, everyone will be sitting like that."
"Bleems?" asked Daniel.
"It is a measure of time used on my planet of Ork," replied Mork. "It's about the same as an Earth day or two thousand years, depending on where you are."
"So your civilisation has knowledge of relativity?" put in Sam.
"Of course," replied Mork, proudly. "For instance, if you asked my aunt what a bleem was, she'd say 'one day', and if you asked my uncle, he'd say 'two thousand years', but if you asked my cousin –"
Sam interrupted. "I get the idea."
"Why have you come here, to Earth?" asked Daniel.
"I come to study your world, your people and your customs," said Mork. "I travel to Earth on this mission every twenty years."
"Every twenty years?" asked Sam. "Why?"
"It's a good length of time – societies progress; technologies advance; major motion picture trilogies get completed.
"I first arrived on Earth in the 1950s. That was a fun time – let's go to the hop, sit on it, splish splash, aaaayyyy…. But I had no real experience of humans and I'm afraid I didn't handle things very well.
"But then I returned in the late 70s, where I met the most wonderful woman in the world. Her name was Mindy, and she taught me everything that was good and kind and worthwhile about humanity. She taught me how to live as one of you, how to love, and most importantly, how to drink without getting my fingers wet."
Mork looked lost in sad memories for a moment.
"What happened to her?" asked Sam, gently.
Mork looked up. "The eighties," he replied. "Power suits, business meetings and those mobile phones that were so handy and small, they could fit into a medium-sized rucksack. That time changed Mindy. She now owns the largest chain of coffee houses in the Colorado area."
Daniel reached out and discreetly removed the paper cup of coffee he'd purchased that morning from Mindy's Javarama and placed it under the table.
"After a few years of that," continued Mork, "I couldn't stay. Twenty years ago to this day, I told her I had to return to Ork."
"I'm so sorry," said Sam.
"You're sorry?" replied Mork. "How do you think I feel? I've been twenty years without a coffee. If I don't get a caffeine fix soon, I'll go completely crathanza."
Jack motioned to one of the armed guards at the rear of the room to go and fetch a coffee for their guest, which was duly delivered.
Mork took a sip. "Shazbot!" he exclaimed. "That's cold."
"I'll get you another," said Jack, but before he could get up, Mork had pointed his finger at the cup. Steam began to rise from the bubbling hot coffee.
"Or the finger," said Jack, "that would work too."
"So, tell me about you," said Mork. "What is this place?"
Sam looked at Jack for permission to discuss the top secret operation.
"What the heck," said Jack, with a resigned shrug. "It seems everyone knows about this place these days, what's one more random alien? Make it the Reader's Digest version, though. No wormhole physics, okay?"
"I understand," said Mork. "A matter of national security."
"No," said Jack. "It's just really boring."
"This," said Sam, managing to ignore Jack's jibe, "is Stargate Command, which is our base of operations for missions to other planets."
"May I see this Stargate?" asked Mork.
Jack nodded and Sam led Mork over the viewing window behind them.
Mork appeared to recognise the Stargate. "We have one of these on Ork. My mission commander, Orson, uses it to hold his bathroom mirror."
Seeing their bewildered looks, Mork explained, "he's a little on the large side. One day, his wife said, "darling, I can't get over you," which was nice, but also true – she had to get up and walk around. I'm kidding, of course – she took a cab, it was quicker."
Mork took his seat. "I should watch what I say about Orson. He's got a fiery temper. Well, he would – he's a red head. No hair, just a big red head."
"Well," said Mork, walking to the door. "I think I've got enough information to make my report now. The mighty Orkan Empire will invade your world in six to eight weeks. Thank you. Nanu nanu."
Mork stopped and looked at their shocked faces. "I'm splinkling," he confessed. "Kidding you around – just my little joke. Well, good-bye, Earthlings."
Teal'c, who had remained silent throughout, suddenly said, "Mork."
"Yes?" replied Mork.
"From Ork," said Teal'c. Slowly, he broke into a grin and looked around at the others to see if they shared the joke. "Mork from Ork," he repeated.
The burly Jaffa's shoulders began to shake as he burst into gales of laughter.
"Mork from Ork!"
Jack gave Mork an apologetic shrug. "Teal'c doesn't get out much."
o o o
Later that day, Jack O'Neill stood by the observation window, looking down at the Stargate below. All the missions were either underway or scheduled for later, so the Gate room was empty and silent.
How many times had he journeyed through that portal? How many worlds had he visited?
He reached out and touched the glass, feeling a million miles from the Stargate that had dominated his life for so many years.
"You miss it, don't you?" said Mork, from behind him.
"What?" said Jack, who had thought he was alone. "Oh, yeah. I guess – a little."
Mork gave an understanding smile. "It must be quite something, travelling in that way; seeing all those distant planets."
"Yeah," agreed Jack. "It was."
"It's not gone," said Mork. "I don't think it ever will be."
Jack turned away and stared once more at the Stargate. "Is this the bit where you give me the crap about how the most important things about the Stargate are up here?" Jack tapped his temple with his finger. "And how they can never take my memories from me?"
"Not at all," said Mork. "In fact it's quite simple to take someone's memories – if you have a big enough blarg-leech."
Jack laughed a little, despite himself and turned to Mork. "What, then?" he said.
"I'm talking about them," said Mork, quietly, pointing through the glass.
Jack looked back and was stunned to see a procession of spectral figures walking up the ramp and disappearing through the Stargate. Many were soldiers, but Jack saw doctors and scientists, engineers and archaeologists, even families with children.
"I'm talking about all of the people who will pass through that portal because of you," said Mork, "to worlds that are made safe, because of you. Even when you are gone, this gateway will still be there – because of you."
Jack watched the ghostly procession for a moment. When he turned to thank Mork, the little man had disappeared. Jack did not need to turn back to know that the figures in the Gate room would be gone too.
"Thank you," said Jack, with a smile.
o o o
In the tranquil darkness of his own mind, Mork stood and rubbed his temples, attempting to make contact with his mission commander.
"Mork calling Orson," intoned Mork. "Come in, Orson."
Mork waited a moment. "Mork calling Orson," he repeated. "Come in, your Galactic Corpulence."
"What have you to report, Mork?" boomed a voice.
"Well, your Obesity," said Mork, "affairs on Earth continue much as they were when I last visited. They have the same wars, but in different countries. They have the same TV shows, but they've replaced trained professionals with members of the public that you would cross the street to avoid. They have the same politicians."
"But?" prompted Orson.
"No," said Mork. "They have the same politicians."
"So, nothing has changed?" replied Orson.
"I wouldn't say that," replied Mork, seeming suddenly coy. "There is one slight, tiny, little, unimportant, minor, insignificant change."
"Out with it, Mork," thundered Orson.
"They have a Stargate," mumbled Mork.
"What!" exclaimed Orson. "They can travel to other planets?"
"It'll be a good thing!" said Mork. "Humans will no longer be tied to the petty disputes of their little world. They will finally be able to experience all the wonders of the universe. They can grow and explore and, perhaps one day, share their culture with us."
"But our planet doesn't need a Starbuck's," replied Orson.
"You know what I mean," said Mork.
"Well," said Orson, "I'll believe it when I see it."
"Thank you, your Immensity," said Mork. "Until then, this is Mork, signing off."