Lost In Translation Clad in a mortal's blue woolen dress, a goddess lurked in the shadows of Garor's Great Hall.

No ribbon device on her soot-stained hand. No alfar Jaffa by her side, willing to throw themselves between her and Tau'ri weapons. No raven-winged death gliders hovering near, ready to deal death and terror to her enemies. Here, surrounded by laughing, drunken, feasting mortals, Hjordis had only her wits and guile.

But what was immortality without risk?

"...And so he says, 'What do you mean, those were Eyolf's horses?'" Shaking with laughter, Thane Atli clapped Major Stan Kovacek on the shoulder, gold rings glinting in the firelight. The thane's gilded ring-mail was put aside, for now; this was a peaceful feast, no warrior wearing more than a sword and dagger. Cotton tunics took the place of armor, an autumn leaf-fall of lichen-reds and herb-yellows, clouded here and there with woolen grays. "Heyla, wench! Give that here; tale-telling's hungry work."

Hjordis stepped lightly through the crowd, bearing her platter of roasted venison. She laid it before the thane with an antique flourish, dredged from her host's old memories. Patience, she reminded herself, smiling demurely from under lowered lashes. Granting the Major a sultry glance, before retreating to the shadows once more. There will be time, later. Time enough to repay every mortal indignity... especially the Tau'ri's.

The Tau'ri. Upstart mortals the System Lords could kill, yet never defeat. Worse than the Tok'ra; at least they were Goa'uld, no matter how they denied it. But the Tau'ri were slaves. Ra's slaves, who had somehow risen against their master swiftly enough to seal their world away for millennia. Slaves who had then ventured out into the universe once more, wreaking havoc on the System Lords' worlds.

Mardoll does not think of them as slaves.

The more fool she. Though Freyja Mardoll's softness had worked to Hjordis' advantage. What other System Lord would have left such a dangerous weapon behind, so lightly guarded? Mardoll cared for her little monster. She would not risk taking it to a System Lords' meeting, where staff blasts might leave not a scrap of its saffron fur to drift on the wind. So she'd left it in stasis, here on this chilly, coarse, forsaken world.

This world, where the Tau'ri thought they were safe.

Why do they think that? a quiet voice whispered in her mind.

Hjordis batted her host away. What mattered why they chose to be fools? They were slaves, no more.

And yet, for all that, scheme after Goa'uld scheme had failed. Aphrodisiacs, mind games, brute force; all had struck their foes and vanished, like lightning in the sea.

But even the sea may be brought to heel.

Yes. If one was careful. And clever. And - ahh, she loathed the word! - subtle.

Golden hair disguised under a wash of brown, Hjordis watched SG-9 finish their negotiations with Garor's mortal leaders. Interminable hours, it had taken; the formal boasts of lineage and prowess, the ax-throwing contests,the ritual toasting with frothing mead-horns. All of which had half the Tau'ri flinching at every flash of light on steel, and the other half seeing double.

Mortal fools.

But she schooled her face to a smile, and waited. Endured the stench of smoke rising from the central hearth, the splash of mead on her woolen hem as one of the less sober warriors tried to charm her into his arms. Soon, the Tau'ri's chief representative would arrive through the chaapa'ai to finalize the treaty. And - by being patient, and subtle - she would attend him.

Hidden in the folds of her bjornskin cloak, Mardoll's abandoned weapon twitched. So small. So fragile. And yet so perilously deadly.

And with it, I shall bring their leader to his knees!

General Hammond stepped off the stone dais into sunlight, and grinned.

It didn't matter that he had frost dripping off every square inch of his uniform. Or that the local equivalent of pine needles were now stuck in what little remained of his faded red hair. Or even that his exit from the wormhole had been - be honest, soldier - somewhat less than graceful. Captain Dr. Frasier would have some pithy comments about the bruises he'd be carrying back.

No; what mattered was that he was through the 'Gate, standing in the light of an alien sun, about to talk to people who'd never seen Earth.

Midgard, he recalled from the briefings, glancing at a sun just a shade too white to be Sol. Letting his gaze rest a hair longer on the crystal-set pillar by the 'Gate, tangible proof of Asgaard intervention. The Garorians - the Garor-liefr - call Earth Midgard.

He could see why SG-1 sometimes had to be ordered on leave.

"Heyla, Thane Hammond!" A grinning giant strode forward, gold-chased chain glittering under his furred cloak as he waded through the sea of green SG uniforms. A hammer nestled in his dark belt, and a dragon-headed sword swung at his side. Wide, chestnut-haired hands spread in a sweep of welcome. "Thane Atli's feast awaits.The spitted boars spit grease in the flames; the mead flows in torrents; the lasses wear the fair rain of Mardoll's eyelids. Truly this is a day that will be sung of when our children's children enter Sessrymnir!"

"That's good to hear, Heri Guthrum," the general said briskly, moving toward the... erm, horse-drawn chariot. Though he'd never seen horses quite that shade of butter-yellow. Not to mention those unmistakable extra toes by the silvery hooves.

Stepping aboard, Hammond made sure he had a good grip on the wicker rim before nodding to his soldiers. "All right, people. Let's move out."

He's here!

Hjordis schooled herself to patience, waiting through the interminable speech of welcome, the ceremonial tasting of mead, venison, and boar. Wait. Wait. Soon, his warriors will relax their guard.

As, bit by bit, they did. And then it was only a matter of a false stumble, an impassioned clutch at a blue sleeve, a swift, terrified whisper that there was a secret he must hear, if he would preserve his people free from harm-

"I'll meet you over there, miss," the general said gruffly. "Just a moment."

Oh, too easy. Too, too easy.

Cloak wriggling in her grip, Hjordis waited in a shadowy corner outside the mead hall. No one else would disturb them here; the children were out in the fields or forests with their older siblings, hunting and playing while their elders talked of diplomacy. Cats and hrolfhounds lazed in the sun, barely twitching as she stalked by. They knew the scent of Freyja's kind; they would not risk raising the alarm. Even the smith's forge was quiet, as the ironworkers led the charge on the fifth roast of venison.

"You say my people are in danger?" The blueclad mortal fixed her with a stern glare. "I thought this world was under Asgaard protection."

"Your first mistake," Hjordis whispered, and loosed the koningul.

Saffron fur giggled, leaping onto the mortal. Huge eyes blinked, and there was a sudden, double flash.

Hjordis rubbed her eyes. What - what had just happened....

"Miss?" A large, gentle hand on her arm; a mortal hand, by the feel of it. "Are you all right?"

"Oh, ja," the Goa'uld murmured, lifting sooty fingers to stroke that concerned face. How brave this Tau'ri was, to battle the System Lords; how fiercely determined, to risk walking as she walked, unarmed among the uncouth hordes of Garor! What an excellent consort he would make, once she got him off the planet. But there would be time enough for that, later....

"What's your name?"

"Miro," she murmured; her host's name, almost forgotten. Lips found hers, and she melted into the kiss. Ah, yes. Mortals valued youth too much, when experience was the true worth.

Something tickled at the back of her mind, even as she used her greater strength to guide them both toward the ironworks. There would be warmth there, and privacy, and... this... wasn't what she'd planned. Was it?

On the threshold, Hammond paused. Searched her gaze, confusion evident in his puzzled frown. "I think-"

"Yes?" Hjordis murmured, nuzzling his throat.

"I think... we should close the door."

Major Kovacek glanced at his watch for the fifth time in as many minutes, trying to ignore the hairs standing up on the back of his neck. God. How could they lose the general on a safe world. On a friendly world, no less, in the middle of a feast-

"Major!" Lieutenant Ario saluted, MP-5 slung by his side. "One of the servers saw the general leave the hall. We're doing a building to building now."

Wonderful. Building to building search with half of his men seeing double. At least the unit General Hammond had brought hadn't had time to get diplomatically drunk. "Good work, Lieutenant." Pasting a smile on his face, he turned back to Thane Atli. "If you'll excuse me. Thane, I should join them."

"Young warriors. Always looking for the fight that's not there." A heavy hand fell on the greenclad shoulder. "Look you, he's likely found a willing lass, and won't be wanting to be found, ja?"

"If that's the case, Thane, we'll just have to apologize." Sheesh, Kovacek thought, jogging out into the courtyard. This was General Hammond they were talking about. Widower. Grandfather. CIC of Stargate Command. The odds of the general wandering off somewhere for extracurricular activities-

"Ah, sir?" Lieutenant Ario looked as if he'd swallowed a porcupine; stiff, afraid to move, and very, very uncomfortable. He gestured toward the smithy door, where an industrious private had nudged it ajar. "I think you should... er...."

Still in one piece, was the major's first, relieved thought. Having to tell O'Neill he was now commander of the SGC because they'd managed to lose the general - on an Asgaard world, no less - well, he could think of pleasanter ways to get reassigned to Antarctica.

Who the hell is she? was his second.

What they were doing was clear as sunlight. The general hadn't gotten much past her clavicles, but red-haired fingers were doing a dance over white shoulders that blew any sense of relief to hell and gone. And the woman - whoever the hell she was, she was dressed like one of the serving girls - had a terminal liplock on his neck.

"Tell me this isn't happening," Major Kovacek mumbled.

Ario's jaw worked, caught between laughter and sheer, stunned, oh-my-God-we're-in-for-it. "We're not supposed to lie to superior officers, sir."

Smartass. "Okay. Ario, Royce, with me. On three, we pull them apart. One - two-"

"Mmm," the brunette breathed, coming up for air. "Oh, ja...."

In the double tones of a Goa'uld.

Shit! "Zat her!"

Ario's zat trilled, and SG-9 leaped forward to grab the convulsing forms. "Restraints!" Kovacek barked, and whipped the plastic ties someone handed him over the Goa'uld's wrists. Not nearly as satisfying as handcuffs, but not even the symbiote's strength could break them. At least, that's what R&D said, after examining the cell door the Ashrak had broken.

This would be a good time for them to be right, the major thought hastily, cinching ties around her ankles. And a few more on the wrists, for good measure. He stood back, breathing hard, as some of the general's guard took her off his hands. "General. Sir. Are you-"

"Still myself, I think." Still twitching from the blast, Hammond tried to sit up. "It - wasn't what Hathor used, whatever it was...." He trailed off, staring at the rousing Goa'uld; then tore his eyes away with an effort of will. "Cover her up!"

Ario grabbed up a heavy, dark fur lying nearby, whirled it over the woman.

"Thank you, Lieutenant. That helps." The general took a deep breath. "Major Kovacek, as of this moment, Colonel O'Neill is in command of the SGC. Until we find a way to counteract whatever this is...."

"We'll get you back to the infirmary, sir."

Hammond held out empty hands, wrists together. "Only under restraint, Major."

"Yessir." Kovacek tried not to look the general in the eye as he cinched down plastic. "Sir, do you remember how she affected you?" Facts. They needed facts.

"I was talking to her, and there was some sort of bright flash," Hammond said shortly. "Outside of that-"

"Sir." One of Hammond's lieutenants stepped in, omitting the salute his superior couldn't return. "We've got a chariot waiting. But the thane wants to know why the general's... indisposed."

Major Kovacek sighed. Diplomat or not, explaining to a drunk, annoyed, massive Viking thane and his equally drunk, massive, heavily-armed warriors why the general wasn't coming back to their feast wasn't a job he would've picked. Dr. Jackson and the rest of the anthropological department had made sure SG-9 was aware of all the unpleasant consequences of infringing Norse customs, up to and including the blood eagle. Having the back of his ribs carved open and his lungs yanked out to dry was not the way Kovacek wanted to spend his night....

On the bright side... he wouldn't be the one explaining this to Colonel O'Neill.

A shred of good mood restored, he nodded at Ario. "Lieutenant. Take the general and his staff back through the Stargate."

"Yes, sir." Moving briskly, the lieutenant made sure both the general and his covered, cursing assailant were secure in the chariot. "Let's go!"

Inside the bjornskin cloak, something giggled.

Black leather jacket slung over his arm, Colonel Jack O'Neill made a beeline for the elevator. His silver eagles were safely nestled into a box, his uniform was in the SGC laundry, and his toes wriggled comfortably in worn sneakers.

God, it felt good to go fishing.

Feet finding the way by habit, Jack mused on the perfect bait he planned to use on this next trip to terrorize the piscine community. Spoon was good. Wrigglers were better. But of course, for that most finicky of bluegills, you couldn't beat good, old-fashioned earthworms....

"Stand at attention, soldier!"

Sneakers jerked to a halt.

"Colonel O'Neill," Hammond's irritated voice went on, "What in the name of Sam Houston are you doing out of uniform?"

Jack pivoted. Took in the uniform, the faded red hair, the overall irritated expression. "Aren't you supposed to be off-world, sir?"

"Did you forget how to salute, Colonel?"

Automatically, O'Neill's hand lifted - then stopped. Something wasn't right.

Blue-clad arms crossed. "Sometime today, Colonel."

Hairs standing up on the back of his neck, Jack drifted closer. He'd learned to pay attention to that warning, over the years. It looked like the general. It sounded like the general.

But it didn't feel like the general.

Two swift steps, and Jack O'Neill grabbed for blue lapels.

Only to see his hands go right through. "What the-?"

A familiar chortle confirmed his suspicions. "Robertson," O'Neill stated, stepping away from the insubstantial image of General Hammond. "Mind telling me why you're impersonating a superior officer?"

SG-7's newest wirehead stepped around the comer, an odd bit of alien... something... in her hands. It had blue and green lights all over it, a few assorted dials, and at least one jury-rigged toggle switch. Carter might've known what it was. Maybe. "Just testing the holographic projector, sir."

Oh, peachy. "Piece of advice, Sergeant? Try reindeer."

The blonde blinked. "Reindeer, sir?"

"A sleigh would be good, too."

Robertson tucked the projector into the crook of her arm, used her free hand to polish her glasses. "Sir, are you suggesting we model Santa Claus?"

"Hey." Jack jerked a thumb upwards, toward the ignorant bulk of NORAD overhead. "They gotta track something at Christmas."

Turning on his heel, the colonel made a dignified retreat to the elevator. Behind him he could hear muttering; something about Solstice spirals and radar returns off coherent light.

Oh God, he'd given her an idea.

It's not too late, Jack thought, as steel doors started to close. Just get topside, get through the gates, and you can be gone before Robertson springs whatever it is on the general. "Hold it! Coming through!"


"Sorry, space monkey."

Dr. Daniel Jackson peeled a leather sleeve off his face, leaned wearily against the elevator wall. Slowly the floor lights moved up the panel, every light another breath closer to freedom. "I take it the fish should be nervous?"

"Damn straight." Jack grinned at his fellow escapee. Ah... fishing. The finest way to spend an afternoon when there wasn't a hockey stick in sight. "You still heading to Cascade?"                                                         

Tired as he was, blue eyes lit. "The Textiles of the World exhibit's a great concept" the archaeologist enthused. "Recreating traditional crafts like weaving can give us insight into the cultures that wove those fabrics; how they spent their time, what shortcuts they used to make it easier, what patterns were significant enough that they took the extra time to weave them in. Didn't you ever wonder why the people of Abydos were wearing linen, instead of furs?"

"Ahh... no." Hadn't really occurred to him; they were Egyptians, and Egyptians wore clothes. But... they were originally taken from Earth in 8000 B.C., weren't they? Whoah. Ten thousand years of dirty laundry.

"So far, the earliest cloth we've found on this planet dates around 6500 B.C.," Daniel went on. "Based on the evidence we have, I'm still not sure whether they had weaving before Ra kidnapped them, whether they developed it independently from plants they brought along - flax is used for oil, not just weaving - or whether it's an instance of cultural diffusion through one of the other Stargates."

Oh. Right. "And this is important how?"

"Well...." Daniel tapped his glasses up. "In most cultures, clothing is the most obvious indicator of wealth and status. If we had more information on ancient textiles, we might be able to make a better guess at the cultural ancestry of the people we run across. Languages, traditions, quaint local customs...."

A-ha. "Who gets burned at the stake."


Jack rolled his eyes. "So this is a working trip? Rest, Daniel. Relax. Or did those two words somehow not make it into your thirty-odd dictionaries?"

"Believe it or not, Jack, for some of us, puttering around in a roomful of artifacts is restful."

"Rocks," Jack grumbled.

Daniel peered blearily at him. "I don't think they have third century Chinese suits in the exhibit."

Ohh...kay. Somebody'd taken a swift left into the Twilight Zone. "Daniel. Even the Chinese didn't make cloth out of rocks."

"No, they did," the archaeologist corrected him. "Asbestos. Called it cloth washable in fire. Never really caught on, though."

Argh. Jack snorted. "Cascade, Danny. Trees, trees, and more trees. Don't you ever get tired of green?"

A wry smile lit blue eyes. "If I did, we'd be stuck with deserts."

The colonel shuddered, remembering how close they'd cut it on the last one. Hadn't been for Daniel's time on Abydos, they wouldn't have known a sandstorm was almost on top of them. As it was, they'd barely made it back through the 'Gate, a dehydrated SG-1 had missed the Garor first contact, and Teal'c was still wearing dark glasses while Junior healed his sand-scratched eyes. "No thanks."

Absently, Jack watched the floor lights pass. Just a little farther, then they'd walk out of NORAD. Sub-level fourteen. Thirteen. Twelve-


"We're stopped," Daniel muttered. "Jack, why are we stopped?"

"Incoming travelers," crackled over the elevator intercom. "SG-9 signal. Warning,incoming-"

From Daniel's corner arose a sound somewhere between a tomcat's snarl and crumbling concrete, that wavered and slid through hisses, spits, grumbles, coughs, and at least one tone that was a dead-on imitation of a circular saw hitting a nail in an oak board.

Jack stifled a grin. Ooh, if SG-9 had any idea... most people saw Dr. Jackson as a kind, gentle, soft-spoken linguist. Which he was. But get him tired, frustrated, and not speaking English, and Daniel could strip the paint off the walls. "Ditto."

Daniel threw him a dark look. "They couldn't have waited one minute more?"

Bouncing on the balls of his feet, Jack tried to block out the alarm. Yeah, yeah, we're in lockdown. Wormhole's established. We get it already. "Relax, Danny. Janet'll grab them, we wait a few minutes while they make sure nothing got through the 'Gate that wasn't supposed to, and we leave. Nothing to it."

"Colonel O'Neill to the infirmary," came Sgt. Harriman's voice over the intercom.

"Or not," Jack sighed.

"I guess the fish will live another day," Daniel said, aiming a gentle pat at his shoulder. Jacket nestled under his head, the linguist leaned back into his comer. "Do me a favor, Jack?" he asked sleepily. "Punch the button for eleven again after you get out."

O'Neill frowned as he hit the console for sublevel twenty-six. Between the sandstorm, worry over Teal'c, and giving a briefing on Norse customs with an IV still attached, Daniel wasn't running on all cylinders. All of SG-1 had been dangerously dehydrated, but only Dr. Jackson's fluids had to include Janet's patented witches'brew of antihistamines. Trust Daniel to come down with an allergic reaction to the local equivalent of tumbleweed. "You okay to drive?"

"Yeah," came the cloth-muffled reply. "Just need a little fresh air."

You need a lot more than that, Danny, the colonel thought wistfully, watching the numbers sink once more. Damnit, SG-1 needed a vacation. You could only go so far on chocolate, caffeine, and good intentions.

Steel doors slid open, and Jack reached for eleven. "See you later, kid."

"Dr. Jackson to the infirmary," came Frasier's harried tones.

The tousled head came up, and Daniel drew a deep breath. "Life," he sighed, "Is not fair."

The double tones of a snarling Goa'uld could be heard three corridors away. Jack frowned. Funny, that didn't sound like Abydonian.

In fact, if you ignored the reverberation, it sounded an awful lot like the Swedish Chef.

Daniel pried an eye open. "Old Norse."

He shot the linguist a look, accepting a zat from the nervous guards outside the door.

Dr. Jackson shrugged, tucking a zat into his own jacket pocket. "She's speaking a variant of Old Norse. Sounds like the Garor-liefr's language."

Somehow, he didn't like the sound of that. "Doc?"

"Come on in, Colonel," came Janet's aggravated reply. "They're under restraint."

They? he thought, stalking in, Daniel covering his flank. Oh, this was getting better all the time. "General?"

"Colonel," Hammond sighed, hands bound in front of him with some of those nifty new plastic ties R&D was raving over. Military gray, of course; they'd managed to talk the lab out of chartreuse, neon yellow, or psychedelic orange. Beside him stood Lieutenant Ario of SG-9, trim and neat and nervous as hell. "It seems your vacation's going to have to wait."

"Sivsula! Gisil'valkyr!" Firmly strapped down, a dark-haired Goa'uld cursed at them. "Ha'taaka!"

"Sounds like somebody got up on the wrong side of the 'Gate this morning," Jack grinned. Next to fishing, there was nothing better than a snakehead having a bad day. "What's she saying, Daniel?"

Daniel winced. "Well, they're definitely Norse insults. With some Goa'uld. Anyoneknow who she is?"

"She said her name was Miro," Hammond answered, face softening. "She was-" He shook his head, and the general was back. "Damn! Dr. Frasier-"

"No trace of Hathor's compound," the doctor said briskly, punching keys on her laptop. A pile of women's clothing and jewelry lay on her examining table, spread out on a glossy black fur. "No stray pheromones. No sign of a virus. A little elevated adrenaline." Janet looked up. "I'm still looking, General."

"Hathor?" Daniel said neutrally. If Jack hadn't glanced that way, he never would have caught that nervous lick of lips. "She - ah - she didn't-"

"No, thank god." The general was all business, but the tips of his ears were slightly pink. "SG-9's timing was impeccable."

Not that good, Jack thought, taking in the mussed uniform, the all-too-evident air of embarrassment, and - hello - the oval bruise on one side of the neck. "Think that's the point of exposure, Doc?"

Janet grimaced. "Actually, I'd call that a side effect."

"Side effect?" Daniel asked, curious.

Dr. Frasier rolled her eyes. "It's a hickey, Daniel."


Jack tried not to snicker. Good thing Carter wasn't here. One look at that rose-pink blush spreading up from the archaeologist's collar and the major would've launched into a long, detailed lecture about brain chemistry, the interaction of adrenaline with attraction, the possible compounds the Goa'uld might be using - in short, everything except why some people like to leave visible marks of having a very good time.

One of these days he was going to lock them both in a small room and see what happened. For an anthropologist, Daniel ought to have some experience with Tau'ri mating rituals.

Then again, you know what would happen, Jack thought wryly. Carter would start working on a power surge to disrupt communications so they could S.O.S. their way out of there, and while she was fryin' the circuits, Daniel would pick the lock.

Not a skill most of the SGC associated with their shy, bespectacled linguist. But then, they'd never seen Daniel hunt down coffee at 0400.

"On the way to the Stargate, the general's assailant identified herself as Hjordis," Ario said briskly. Ramrod straight, he gave a crisp account of events as SG-9 knew them; disappearance, discovery, retreat.

"So," Jack said thoughtfully. "As long as you don't look at her-"

"Or think about her, then yes, I seem to be fine," Hammond snarled. Hands jerked against gray plastic, clenching into fists. "But until we can identify exactly what happened and how we can counteract it, you're in command."

Colonel O'Neill nodded. "Yes, sir." He glanced at the archaeologist. "Daniel?"

"Sword goddess," Dr. Jackson said thoughtfully. "Barely mentioned in the sagas. Most Norse specialists consider it just a woman's name, not tied to any deity in particular." He fingered blue wool, lifting an embroidered hem to eye the intricate red knots. "Are these her clothes?"

"We searched her thoroughly," Ario reported. "No ribbon device. No weapons. One armband - we think it's the controls for a transport ring-"

"It is," Dr. Jackson agreed, rubbing a fingertip over the familiar blue gem. Strange to see it set in a slim armlet instead of a gauntlet; but then, you couldn't hide a gauntlet under wool sleeves.

Hiding. Hmm. "Servant's dress?" Colonel O'Neill asked.

"She served Thane Atli, and he didn't seem to notice anything strange about her," Ario answered. "Neither did we, until-" he shrugged.

Yeah. That nifty voice trick did tend to give it away.

"You think she was undercover?" Daniel asked, absently snagging one of Janet's penlights to examine the intertwined runes and hieroglyphs running the length of the armlet. The doctor sighed, and started moving her more fragile tools out of reach.

"The Tok'ra pull it off." Though Jack wasn't quite sure how. Lantash and Selmac could be two of the most arrogant, opinionated, ruthless sons-of-snakes he'd ever met. Could give a re-elected senator lessons in smug, the colonel thought. And let's not even talk about Anise and Garshaw.

Yeah. And those were the good guys.

"I didn't think even the Tok'ra could walk past Thor's Hammer," the archaeologist mused, tracing a golden falcon.

"Something tells me they're not going to be real keen to answer that, Daniel." Trust Daniel to put his linger on the real problem. If a Goa'uld could waltz past the Hammer, Garor and Cimmeria were toast.

"Given that we still don't know how the Hammer works, or how the Asgaard adjusted the new one to ignore Teal'c's larva, we don't know they can't," Dr. Frasier pointed out. "You might want to ask Thor about it the next time he asks you for a favor, Colonel. Tossing unwilling hosts through the Stargate to Cimmeria isn't my idea of good medical procedure."

"Hammond," came Hjordis' plaintive wail. "El einn..."

"Always alone," Daniel translated, reaching for a stethoscope. Janet deftly plucked it out of his grasp.

"Miro," the general murmured. "Dr. Frasier, I don't suppose you could loosen these up a little-"

"Spencer, get me a sedative," Janet ordered. "And the answer is no, General."

Fingers still trying to close on empty air, the archaeologist listened while Norse words spilled out. "Okay. That's - strange...."

Jack raised an eyebrow at the linguist's perplexed look. "So what's she saying?"

"Er... well, it's not exactly my area of expertise. I've studied the mythology, which gives you some exposure to the kennings the popular culture used, but over the centuries the Garor-liefr have come up with several of their own, having your heart seized with the chaapa'ai's chill is probably a kenning for fear, so-"

"Daniel." Kenning? Oh, yeah.... "We've got a snake in the infirmary and you're worried about poetry?"

A flicker of a smile. "So you were listening."

Argh. Caught. "Amazing what sticks," the colonel said nonchalantly, wincing as Janet drove her needle home in the general's arm. "So what's she saying?"

"It's - ah-" Dr. Jackson drew a deep breath, set the armband down. "It sounds like love poems, Jack."

"Dr. Frasier?"

"What is it, Lieutenant?" Janet asked, as she and Spencer wrestled Hammond back into his chair.

Ario pointed at a mound of black fur. "It's moving."

Three zats sprang open, aimed at the quivering lump. Not the fur, Jack thought quickly, watching the mound wriggle back and forth. Something's under there. "On three," he mouthed, holding up three fingers. One. Two-

Ario flipped the fur back.

"Purrrl?" Wide, dark eyes blinked at them, framed by saffron fur. Long ears tipped with black flopped at the sides of its head, as the creature looked around the room.

"A rabbit?" Ario squeaked.

"Sort of," Colonel O'Neill decided, taking in the long, wiggly tail, the forward-set eyes, the faint but undeniable giggles coming from the creature as it bounced on black fur. "Wasn't in the first-contact report-"

Flash. Flash.

Blinking spots from his eyes, Jack felt Daniel rush past him after the creature. "No!"the linguist protested. "Don't open the-"

"Aaah!" someone shrieked from the doorway.


"Sorry, Nurse Drew - ah, that's my elbow - we've got to go after it - Sergeant! Zat-"

Zats trilled. Trilled again. "Fast little bugger," one of the guards swore. "What the hell is it?"

"Getting away!" Daniel's voice rang from the corridor, as giggles echoed back down the hall. "Jack, come on!"

"Colonel!" Janet's hand brushed his shoulder, turning him to face her worried gaze. "Are you all right?"

Blinking, Colonel O'Neill stared at the loveliest face he'd ever seen. Chocolate eyes a man could melt into. Waves of silky hair, red as shadowed sunset. The will to outlast generals, held in a slight frame just the right size to be swept up in his arms.

"Colonel?" Dr. Frasier asked pointedly.

"Janet," he breathed, lifting one hand to cup her cheek. The firing zats, the cursing Goa'uld, the snoring general; they were all so far away. So insignificant, beside this aching sweetness. "You know, you... really mean a lot to me."

"Thanks. I think." Nonplused, the doctor took a swift step backwards. "But this really isn't the time to talk about this, Colonel-"

"You're right," the colonel stated, moving to cut off her retreat. "Actions speak so much louder."

"Aghh! Spencer! Daniel! Help!"

Colonel Makepeace strode down the corridor, staunchly determined to have a good weekend. He stepped aside for Sergeant Siler as the engineer muscled some piece of alien tech down to the labs for SG-7. He nodded to the general's new secretary as she headed down toward the cafeteria. He almost smiled at the maintenance tech working on the air vent.

By this time, Jackson and Colonel O'Neill should be long gone from the base. Carter and the Jaffa would probably take longer to clear out. The astrophysicist had some last test to run on an asteroid sample, and Dr. Frasier was still fussing over the alien's eyes. But in another hour or so they should be off-base as well, leaving the SGC in safer, saner hands.

Thank god for that sandstorm. If SG-1 was in the infirmary, they weren't going on missions. And if they weren't going on missions, they couldn't bring anything back. No Neanderthal viruses. No body-switching devices. No invisible aliens. He could enjoy his weekend of ambush paintball in peace.

For once, there was absolutely no way SG-1 could ruin his day.

Something giggled, down the hall. Something scurried over concrete; a quiet sound, but getting closer.

Rats? Makepeace wondered. The SGC didn't have a rodent problem.

Zats trilled. "Get it!"

"Damn, it's fast-"

"Look out!"

Jackson. Oh no. Please, anything but Jackson. Not only was the man a dyed-in-the-wool civilian with absolutely no respect for military protocol, the uniform, or the proper chain of command, he was a klutzy, too-bright, walking invitation to disaster. Collapsing temples? System Lord invasions? Mind-warping alien Goa'uld-killers? Just look for the archaeologist.

Yellow fur screeched around the comer, claws scraping madly at concrete before they caught, yanking whatever-it-was into a right-angle turn sharp enough to cut glass. "He-he-he - yipe!" it yelped, as the blue-white beam of a zat'ni'catel struck within an inch of its toes.

Makepeace swiped at it, large hands closing on the tip of a fluffy tail. Got it! Got what, he had no idea, but he wasn't too worried. Even Jackson knew enough to set off a biohazard alert.

"Oh, no-"

Rounding the corner at a dead run, the two sergeants dodged out of his way. Jackson - didn't.

"Ha-hee!" A tug, and saffron fur was gone.

Breathing hard, the colonel picked himself off the floor and glanced down the corridor. The tech was nowhere to be seen. From the footsteps beating a swift retreat, the airman was applying that most basic of lessons SGC personnel learned the hard way: if you don't know what the hell it is, and there's an SG team after it, run.

"You," Makepeace jabbed a finger at the archaeologist, not trusting his voice or his temper. "Stay."

Something had darted into that open air vent. Something small. And fuzzy. And terminally cute.

Knife between his teeth, Makepeace squirmed in after it.

Stay? the archaeologist thought, indignantly brushing himself off as he got to his feet. Jack could tell him to stay, but Jack was Jack, and though he always listened to Jack there was just so often some artifact or cultural twist his friend hadn't quite realized was important or he wouldn't have bothered saying stay in the first place,and-

This wasn't helping. Daniel blew out a breath, letting go of that flash of annoyance. Colonel Makepeace was - Colonel Makepeace. Focus on the real problem.

Right. Ten pounds of giggling yellow fluff loose in the airshafts. Ordinarily that wouldn't be much of a problem, unless the marine snickered himself to death when he finally caught it. Which wasn't likely. If Makepeace had ever had a sense of humor, he'd probably had it surgically removed.

But given that this... rabbitlike creature was the only thing out of place in all of Hjordis' gear, and given that it had let loose with some sort of a flash, just as the general had described - well, they could have real trouble here.

Worst case scenario. Can it get outside?

No way of knowing. Under ordinary circumstances, not so much as a microbe could get from the air that came past NORAD to the SGC. And vice-versa. Last thing they would've needed with the Broca virus was a bunch of Neanderthals at the controls upstairs.

But they didn't know what this not-quite-a-rabbit was, or what it could do. For all Daniel knew, it could melt through the molecular-screen filters like so much mist.

Lockdown, SG-l's linguist thought quickly. We've got to lock the place down, see if we can get it out of the shafts. Sam might have an idea. Or maybe Janet's got some kind of airborne tranquilizer we could pump in.

After all, it hadn't actually hurt anyone, so far. Maybe they could just catch it, and 'Gate it back where it belonged.

Assuming it belonged on Garor. Hjordis might have brought it from off-world. They'd have to ask. Later.

"Make sure it doesn't double back," Daniel instructed the guards, bolting for the infirmary. It was the closest place he could start a lockdown from, anyway.

Come to think of it, he wondered, rounding the corner cautiously, why hadn't Janet started one? The whole SGC knew what she thought about letting unknown biologicals loose on the base. Martouf had once made the mistake of bringing Sam flowers from the Tok'ra hydroponics bay, only to see his ivory-and-silver buttercups dunked into enough disinfectant to slaughter a rosebush. Today a buttercup, tomorrow the world!

Gods, he needed more sleep.

Thwam! "And keep them sedated!" Janet hollered through the infirmary doors. Her hair was mussed, the top two buttons of her blue blouse were missing, and the good doctor looked ready to bite through sheet steel.

"What's wrong?" Daniel glanced at the doors, saw them shudder. Curses filtered through the walls; English, Old Norse, and a scatter of Goa'uld. "Where's Jack?"

"Hopefully, on the wrong end of a needle," Dr. Frasier said grimly, as the biohazard lockdown alarms started blaring. "He's been affected. Where's the alien?"

"Ah - it's in the airshafts."

"Oh, god."

"Colonel Makepeace went after it," Daniel tried to reassure her. It might have worked better if he'd believed the marine had any more idea what to do about the creature than they did. Makepeace was the straightforward type. First he'd try to catch it. Then, if that didn't work, he'd go rabbit-hunting. "How'd it get Jack?"

Janet shoved fingers through her hair. "It's not airborne, or it would've gotten all of us. It's not contact; the colonel didn't touch it. It's not a bite, or saliva. It did flash."

"It did," the archaeologist grimaced, rubbing lingering spots out of his eyes.

Janet blanched, and leaned away. "You're not-"

Daniel blinked at her. "Not what?" Then it hit. Flash. The general. Hjordis. Jack. "Ah, no," he said hastily. "I'm fine."

Janet stopped backing up. "No infatuation?"


"No sudden urge to spout love poems?"

Daniel snorted. "Not in the slightest."

"No burning impulse to undo every last button on my person?"

Er. Oh. My. Jack, what were you thinking? The linguist shook his head. "Nothing."

"Try antihistamines!" Janet yelled through the locked doors.

"Got it!" Spencer hollered back. "Ahh! Colonel, relax - Ario, look out!"

"You think that'll work?" Daniel said dubiously. Trying to figure out just where the not-rabbit might have gotten to by this time. Frankly, he hadn't a clue. Sam was the one with the SGC blueprints committed to memory.

Janet tossed back a stray bit of auburn hair. "Can you think of anything else that's usually in your system, that isn't in those affected? No... hold that thought. Add caffeine and theobromine," she shouted at Spencer. "Maybe it doesn't like alkaloids."

Coffee and chocolate. Right. Well, if that was the case, Sam and SG-7 ought to be fine...

Oh, no. Sam! He dashed for a wall phone, grabbing it just before Janet could.

"Daniel, I've got to get details out over the intercom-"

"That airshaft heads toward the labs," the archaeologist said urgently, dialing fast. "Sam! Gods above, Sam, pick up!"

Deep in the twists of the airshaft, claws skittered over sheet steel. A whispered giggle echoed off the walls, seeming to come from everywhere and nowhere.

Knife in hand, Makepeace listened.

A yellow blur sped across the shaft, ducking into a side vent.

Breathing slow and even, the colonel didn't move.

Rrring. Rrring.

Black-tufted ears edged around the comer, drawn to the sound of a nearby phone.

Smiling grimly, the marine snuck toward saffron fur. He was through talking. O'Neill let that damn archaeologist run rampant, talking to aliens at the drop of a hat. And look where that got him. Shot. Zatted. Dumped in the middle of friggin' Antarctica, for god's sake.

No. This was a hostile.

Hostiles died.

One foot to grabbing range. Five inches. Three-


Blind and swearing, Makepeace fell backwards, still gripping an armful of yellow fur. Wait - this isn't solid, it's a grill - we're over one of the labs-

The grill collapsed.

Rrring. Rrring. Rrr-

Grumbling under her breath, Sam picked up the phone. She'd just finished writing up the results of the acid test on the asteroid when alarms announced that something had followed SG-9 home. So she'd locked her lab door, pulled a sidearm out of her desk drawer, and grabbed a stack of paperwork. Might as well get something done while Janet and her crew chased down the alien. What did they need her for? "Carter," she said briefly.

"Sam!" Daniel. Wasn't he supposed to be gone by now? Off-base? Out of the state? Asleep? "You've got to look out, it already got Jack, it's in the airshaft and Makepeace was chasing it your way-"

"Daniel, slow down!" Something got the colonel? In the airshaft? Makepeace? She thought she'd heard a funny noise up there a second ago, but it was so faint.... "What's in the airshaft?"


"Never mind," Sam sighed, watching Colonel Makepeace pick himself out of the wreckage of her microscope. "Colonel, just what were you doing up there?"

The marine wriggled his knife blade free of her lab bench. Pried the microscope arm off his ankle. Looked up.


Sam took a hasty step back. Oh, boy. How long would it take to unlock the lab door? "Colonel? Are you all right?"

The smile widened. "I am now, Major."

No fool, Sam bolted.

Fingering the unfamiliar dark glasses Dr. Frasier insisted he wear for the next twelve hours, Teal'c stalked toward Carter's lab. The scent of Dr. Warner's cookies laced the air, and the biohazard alert ached in his ears, almost covering the frantic scramble as the SGC sealed itself off from the world.

The alarms did not trouble him, save to indicate that other members of SG-1 might need defense. Major Carter would be less at risk than most; Jolinar's death had left her body more resistant to disease, though not as resistant as a Jaffa.

But she was closest, and from the intercom, the rest of SG-1 was already in the infirmary. He would see to Major Carter's safety before they went in pursuit of Daniel Jackson.

It was, after all, highly unlikely that the young Tau'ri was in truth where he had been ordered to go. If O'Neill could not manage that, Janet Frasier was unlikely to succeed.

The astrophysicist slammed out the door, breathing hard. "Colonel Makepeace!" Major Carter yelled, putting her shoulder to the door. "Get a grip!"

"I would," came Makepeace's lascivious reply, "If you'd just hold still...."

The door thudded, clicked, thudded, accompanied by the major's frantic curses. "Teal'c!" she called, catching sight of him. "I could use a hand, here."

Moving to her side, the Jaffa forced the door shut. Odd. His eyes had obviously not yet recovered from the sandstorm. For a moment, he had thought he'd seen something yellow dash through the partly-open door. "What is amiss?"

"Makepeace's lost his mind," Major Carter snarled. "Whatever it was, Daniel said- Daniel?"

Ah. As he had expected. "Daniel Jackson," Teal'c inclined his head, noting the ready zat'ni'catel in the panting archaeologist's hand.

"Small. Yellow. Kind've like a rabbit," the Tau'ri scholar gasped. Teal'c made a note to ask him what a rabbit was. "Flashes people and they - well, they seem to, er, get infatuated with the next person they see."

"Holy Hannah," Carter murmured, leaning against the shaking door. "And Makepeace saw me... the colonel?"

"He - ah - tried to grab Janet." The archaeologist brushed hair out of his glasses. "Apparently some Goa'uld called Hjordis let it loose on General Hammond; I don't know if it really got her, too, or if she's just faking it. Those kennings didn't sound like she was faking it, but...."

Teal'c frowned. "The creature affected a Goa'uld?"

"Looks like it. Janet's trying antihistamines and alkaloids on them, but she hasn't had any luck yet - there it is!"

Flash. Flash.

Teal'c blinked away spots. Strange. There was a small, yellow, furry creature standing there.

It appeared to be giggling at him.

"Teal'c?" There was something very... odd... about Major Carter's voice, as her gaze fixed on him. Something that reminded him of Drey'auc's voice, the night they had first affirmed their vows. "Oh, I'm so glad you're here." She released the doorknob, spreading arms wide as if to embrace him. "Hold me."

Teal'c stepped back. "Major Carter. You must resist the creature's effects."

Too late, he saw the door was unlocked.

Colonel Makepeace slammed the door open, knocking Daniel Jackson into the wall. The archaeologist keeled over, one hand to his head. "Don't you dare touch her!"

"Colonel Makepeace." Teal'c dodged one blow, seized the man's wrist in a gentle come-along hold. "We will escort you to the infirmary." A hot breath tickled his neck, and he stepped hastily away. "Major Carter. Tend to Daniel Jackson."

She blinked fuzzily at him, hand wandering up his arm. "Daniel?"

"Rabbit got away?" came the low moan.

The former First Prime of Apophis scanned the corridors. Listened, for any noise that might mark something small, cute, and annoyingly dangerous.

Yellow fur was nowhere in sight.


"Come on, come on," Dr. Warner grumbled at the cafeteria microwave, waiting for his cookies to finish heating up.

The general's new secretary figited behind him, glancing through thick glasses at the open door. "Sir, shouldn't we be going somewhere safe?"

Watching the timer click down, Warner snorted. "This is the SGC, Ms. Jarvis. Nowhere's safe." The intercom sounded again, and he sighed. "Right. Unknown biological loose, proceed with caution... I'll be there in a minute, Janet."

White chocolate chip pecan sandies just weren't as good cold.


Ahh, the surgeon thought, pulling open the door to take a deep, satisfying whiff. Cookies.


"Oh, my god," Jarvis whispered.

Teeth clenched in molten white chocolate, the surgeon froze. Swallowed. Looked over his shoulder.

Yellow fur came down like lightning.

Hearing the agonized scream, Janet burst through the cafeteria doors. "What happened?" she demanded.

Shaking like a leaf, Naomi Jarvis Stood over the limp form of Dr. Warner. Dusty pawprints covered his white labcoat, a black scorch mark traced from his wrist to his shoulder, and drops of blood showed at the edge of his lips. "It - it-"

"Okay," Dr. Frasier said matter-of-factly, holding out a calming hand. "Help me get him to the infirmary."

"It took the cookies!" the secretary wailed.

Ow. Marines, Daniel thought, wincing as Sam fussed over him.

"This is all your fault!" Makepeace raved, handcuffed three beds down. "Aliens... Antarctica... no paintball... no Sam...."

"Somebody knock the poor guy out," Jack sighed, trussed up in a corner like an over-wrapped Christmas present.

"SG-1 is cursed!" the marine snarled, before the needle slid home and his eyes shuttered closed.

Trying to get tied feet under him, Jack growled. "Sometimes, I'd have to agree with you."

"The skin's barely broken, but you're going to have one hell of a lump," Sam told her wincing friend. "Good thing your head's almost as hard as the colonel's."

"Hey! I resemble that remark."

"Teal'c, could you hand me," Sam sighed, a dreamy look coming over her face. "The iodine," she murmured, rising out of her chair.

Face even more studiously neutral than usual, Teal'c laid the disinfectant down and started backing out of reach.

Daniel grabbed her arm. "Sam, sit down. Please." Gods, how to get through... "Ah - this really hurts, and you promised you'd make it better-"

"Don't look at Teal'c, Major," Jack ordered, sitting up. "Look anywhere else, but not at him."

With an effort, Sam tore her eyes away. "Easier said than done. Sir."

"Make it better?" Jack mouthed.

Daniel shrugged. It'd worked on his foster parents. Once or twice.

"Coming through!" Dr. Frasier's voice rang through the swinging doors, as she and Naomi Jarvis hauled a limp form into the infirmary. "Spencer! IV, stat. We've got a burn here. Drew! Sterile dressings, and break me off some aloe leaves. Looks like it's just the arm, but we've got to get this coat off to be sure."

Dr. Warner. Oh no. "What happened?"

With Spencer and Naomi's help, Janet slung the surgeon onto a bed. "Warner was bitten."

"Warner's dead?" He was certainly still enough. Oh, gods....

"No, he was bitten," Janet corrected, slicing off the tattered labcoat. Under the scorch mark, the surgeon's skin was blistery red. "More like... gnawed on."

Sam frowned. "Is that-"

"An electrical burn," Dr. Frasier stated, studying the zigzag track. "Just the arm. Good." She held out her hand for green, spiky leaves, started tearing open the succulent rememdy. "Your rabbit packs quite a punch."

"SG-9's rabbit," Jack corrected, eyeing the snoring form of General Hammond in the bed by Makepeace. He sighed, wriggling as if to find a more comfortable pose. "At least somebody's getting a break."

Suspicious, Daniel slipped off the chair and knelt by his friend. Ah-hah. "Or making a break, Jack?" the archaeologist asked pointedly, plucking the throwing knife out of the colonel's bound hands. Plastic ties were half sawn through; how long had Jack been working on them? Probably since about five seconds after Spencer cinched them on, he thought wryly.

The colonel grinned weakly, dark gaze wandering to Janet. "Can't blame a guy for trying."


Darkness crashed over the room.

Daniel heard plastic snap, tried to duck-

"Sorry, Danny." Strong hands pinned him down, snatched the knife from his grip.

A liquid smack, as of lips finding flesh.

"Major Carter! If I must restrain you-"

"No time for that, Sam. C'mon!"

"Dammit, Colonel, put me down!" Janet snarled.

The hallway doors thumped, caught in the breeze of the escapees. In the distance, more alarms rang.

Nurse Drew gasped. "They cut the power."

"How could they cut the power, man?" Lieutenant Ario's voice was frayed around the edges, his Californian accent surfacing with the strain. "They're animals, man!"

"Are you finished?" Daniel snapped, gripping a handful of cammo collar.

Larger hands found him; Teal'c helping him to unsteady feet.

Emergency lights flickered on, showing a noted absence of Jack. Not to mention Sam and Janet.

"Security to the 'Gateroom!" Harriman's shaky voice came over the intercom. "I repeat, the intruder is in the 'Gateroom!"

Teal'c stepped away, watching him carefully. "We must go."

Daniel sighed, leaning against a bed. Did they have to? Let Security handle it. They were good at their jobs.

A dark brow climbed. "We must assume the security personnel are not immune."

Right. Trust Teal'c to see the tactical side of the situation. "I'm coming."

As they headed out the door, the Jaffa's frown was troubled. "Daniel Jackson. Why did Major Carter not attempt to remove me, as O'Neill did Janet Frasier?"

Daniel winced, trying to ignore the buzzing in his ears. "One, you outweigh her by... oh, my weight or so. And two - she didn't have to, Teal'c." He fingered the zat'ni'catel in his jacket pocket, coming to grips with the idea of using it on his closest friends. "There's only one place they're going."

"Colonel, I know it's hard, but try to think," Janet coaxed. "Put me down. Please?"

"In a minute," Jack said, distracted by the feel of a slim hand in his jacket as they headed for the 'Gateroom. "Carter?"

Clutching a roll of eighty-test fishing line, Sam tossed him a smile. "Go ahead, sir. I'll catch up." With a jaunty wave, she headed the other way.

Jack shook his head, passing startled guards heading for the 'Gateroom. "Something wrong with that woman."

"No, really?" Janet muttered under her breath. "Colonel-"

The sound of chevrons locking cut off her words, and O'Neill swore. Dislodging her from his shoulders, he ran for the control room. "Come on!"

Harriman and three techs pounded frantically at computer keyboards, trying to stop the dial-up program. "Get those circuits yanked!" the small sergeant ordered, hitting keys that would make an ordinary computer run whimpering back to the assembly line. "Pull the plugs if you have to, but shut it down!"

Chevron three encoded, Harriman's usual computer flashed the ominous message on the screen. Chevron three is locked in place.

"Just one more - damn it!" Legs kicked out from under a console. "Everything's melted!"

Chevron four encoded.

Harriman pulled on insulated gloves. "Clear! Now!"

People scrambled away from consoles, pulling the hapless tech out by his ankles. O'Neill scanned the room, looking for something he could help with - meaning anything less complicated than a VCR. No luck. "Sergeant?"

"Not now, sir." Face grim, Harriman unlocked a wall panel, reached in, and yanked.

Chevron five-

Every monitor went black.

Five chevrons lit, the Stargate stopped.

"Ohh, man...." someone graoned in the background. "Can we go home now?"

"Sergeant," O'Neill said briskly, a croner of his mind watching Janet check everyone for injuries. Hey, Doc, I've got a paper cut.... Now all he had to do was lower the blast shield, chase out the techs, and dim the lights-

Taking a deep breath, Jack focused on Harriman. "What happened?"

Fury blazed behind clear lenses. "That happened, sir."

Following the gloved finger, the colonel looked down at the ramp.

Bouncing on gray trinium was something small, yellow, and entirely too cute.

O'Neill growled.

"It jumped out of the airvent, fried the system, and danced all over the keyboards," Harriman reported. "Next thing we knew-" he shrugged.

"The iris?"

Harriman checked the palmprint reader. "It's fine, sir. Separate circuits. General's orders."

Good orders. Last thing they needed was some SG team going splat because of a giggling alien rabbit.

Death by furball. God, we'd never live it down.

Security was circling the alien now, moving in cautious as a bomb squad on a ticking box. Safeties clicked off. Zats sprang open.

Casually flopping down, the rabbit started grooming itself.

"Sir, we can get teams in from off-world, but it's going to take us at least a few hours to set up outgoing again."

With one last, lingering glance at Janet, Jack headed for the ramp. "Make it happen, Sergeant."

Romance would have to wait. He had a date with a furball.

"Anybody got a net?" Colonel O'Neill asked the major in charge of this security team. Hawkes, his nametag read. Ah, one of the new guys.

Tense eyes never left the yellow target. "A net, sir?"

One of the new guys, all right. Sigh. Where was an archaeologist when you needed one? Don't shoot the first people you meet was Daniel's line, not his. Right up there with check your assumptions and try to be friendly until you know what's going on.

Oh well. Time to try that most horrid of arts, diplomacy.

Janet beat him to it. "Unfortunately, Major, until we know how it's affecting our people, we're going to have to take it alive."

"Do we have to?" Harriman muttered behind them.

Dr. Frasier ignored the comments from the cheap seats. "It has some sort of electrical ability, so be very careful if you grab it. Frankly, I'd rather you just watched it until we can get someone up here with a trank gun-"

Flash. Flash flash flash flash.







So much for security.

Note to self: grab all surveillance tapes from the 'Gateroom, Jack thought, blinking spots out of his eyes as four hardened, combat-tested Air Force officers violated a dozen regs and all good order of military conduct. If there's no evidence, the general just might call off the courts-martial.

Yeah, right. And Apophis just wanted to drop by and say hello.

"Come here, Harriman," Janet sing-songed, creeping up on the unnerved sergeant. "I won't bite." Auburn brows wriggled with glee. "Hard."

"Colonel!" Frank panic on his face, Harriman dodged Janet's swift grab, ducked behind his commanding officer. "Help!"

"Janet?" Jack's heart hurt, wounded to the core. Harriman? Janet had never even noticed he sergeant, except when she was readying a needle for unmentionable places. "How could you?"

"Oh, gods." Taking in the scene, Daniel shook his head. Janet and Harriman circling Jack, four security officers in various states of undress, and one giggling, bouncing furball. "What a mess."

Teal'c handed over the fire extinguisher they'd taken out of Sam's third tripwire. At least, they though it was Sam's. Who else would be using Jack's fishing line to set Jaffa-sized traps? "I shall... separate our comrades."

Leaving him with the rabbit. Wonderful.

A thought struck, and Daniel checked the extinguisher label. Safe for electrical fires.


"Eat foam," the linguist snarled, depressing the trigger.

"Purr- gag! Phhft! Yipe!"

Spitting foam, the yellow furball scampered across the room, hampered by the white weight spraying over its coat. Froth speckled a course from the ramp, smeared half-naked security officers as it wriggled through the fray.

Daniel flanked the beast, cutting it off from the airshaft. Now if we can just catch it- "Teal'c! A net? A blanket? Anything?"

Mylar sailed through the air, settling over the foam-drenched rabbit like a silver parachute. Of course, mylar's an insulator, Daniel thought, making a grab. Teal'c never ceased to amaze him.

Silver fabric wriggled in his arms, and the scent of burning polyester twitched his nose. "The locker," Daniel said, thinking frantically. "Unless it can burn through sheet steel...."

"I will - O'Neill! Do no injure Sergeant Harriman-"

No help from that quarter. One hand cinching shut struggling mylar, the archaeologist yanked open one of the emergency supply lockers. Let's see, rope, rafts, rations; anything flammable? Oh gods, kerosene. He tumbled bottles to the floor. Batteries, flashlights - grenades? Somebody let SG-3 pack again....

Hard panting behind him; an aggravated colonel, struggling against a Jaffa's immovable arms. "Teal'c! Let me at 'im. Four-eyed sonofoabitch doesn't deserve her."


Anything else in here it could set off? Daniel poked his head further in, trying to ignore the sounds of munching mylar. Flares. Okay. He tossed the slim cylinders out. That looks like it-

"No, let me at him," Dr. Frasier murmured, in tones sultry enough to give Hathor a run for her money. Daniel shivered. "Come here, Sergeant. I think you need a physical."

"Doc," Harriman's voice quavered, getting closer. "You don't know what you're saying. Please, just, don't-"

"Gotcha!" Janet pounced, barreling her prey into the half-empty locker.

Mylar ripped.

"Ha-he!" Yellow fur bounced free.

Out of ideas, Daniel swung the empty fire extinguisher at the beast.

Just as Jack twisted out of Teal'c's grasp.




Jack blinked fuzz out of his eyes, registering the cold steel handcuffing him to the briefing table. "What the - Daniel?"

Cuffing Janet to the other side, the archaeologist looked up. "Are you okay, Jack?"

The colonel rattled his steel bracelet. "Peachy. Where the hell did you get these?"

"The security personnel no longer required them," Teal'c intoned.

Jack raised an eyebrow. "Daniel?"

"They're sedated," the archaeologist assured him hastily. "They're okay. Really."

"I kind of doubt Airman Porter would agree with that," Harriman muttered, hanging back in the furthest corner of the room from Janet. "I mean, even though anyone with half a brain knew he and Antoine - ah, never mind."

"I'm going to try to talk the general into a general amnesty," O'Neill said soberly. A grin twitched at the corner of sore lips. "After all, it's not like we were playing spin the bottle with a Goa'uld."

A snort of laughter from Daniel's side of the table. "Oh, ow," the archaeologist muttered, holding his head. "Ow, ow, ow."

Ow was right. It hurt to smile. Jack rubbed his aching jaw. Damn, somebody'd tagged him a good one. But... Daniel?

Bespectacled blue eyes dodged his. "Sorry, Jack. You weren't yourself."

"Yeah? Then who was I?"

"Annoying," Teal'c rumbled.

Hands waved as Daniel paced the room. "I know we should've gone after it, but I was worried I'd hit you too hard, and every time we get close to it the alien flashes someone else-"

"Breathe, Daniel," Jack ordered. Damn. They'd almost had it. If Janet hadn't jumped Harriman.... He squashed a sudden flare of jealousy. Don't go there, Jack. This isn't you. This isn't real.

"You made the right call," the colonel admitted. "'Til we can figure out how to keep people from losing their grip, there's no point in you racking up any more bruises." He fixed his gaze on the archaeologist, trying to convey the fact that he trusted the younger man's judgement... and trying not to look at Janet. "Any ideas, Doc?"

"It's not antihistamines. Harriman doesn't take them," Janet stated, screwing her eyes closed. "It can't be caffeine, Teal'c, you don't drink coffee. Did you have any chocolate today?"

"I did not."

"And you said it did try to flash you, when Sam was affected." Janet frowned. "So there has to be something else you three have in common."

Teal'c fingered his dark glasses. "The creature attacks with light."

"I'm not sure it's an attack," Daniel started, then caught Jack's sour look. "Okay," he allowed. "It's not exactly friendly."

"Do these lenses not protect against excessive light?"

And Makepeace thought Teal'c was just there for the muscle. Jack shook his head, a grin tugging at sore lips. "Genius." He slipped a glance at Janet. "Doc?"

"Could be," Dr. Frasier said thoughtfully, eyes firmly fixed on the briefing table. "When we think of light affecting the brain, we tend to think of epileptics. The truth is that any human being has a baseline frequency, and if you hit it, the results can be... unpredictable." She ran a hand through auburn hair. "Glass may look transparent, but the safety lenses we use block certain light frequencies. We won't know for sure unless someone takes off their glasses within the creature's area of effect."

O'Neill eyed the lone civilian in the room. "Don't even think about it, Daniel."

The archaeologist snorted. "Not a chance, Jack. I've had enough harassment under the influence to last a lifetime."

Well, that was a relief. Sort of. "So." Jack rattled the cuffs; darn, double-locked. What did you expect? a sane corner of his mind pointed out. You don't catch SG-1 the same way twice. If Danny didn't notice, Teal'c sure would've. "We tell everybody to put on safety glasses, and we go rabbit-hunting. Any ideas how we catch this thing?"

"Cookies," Janet said decisively.

"Cookies?" the colonel repeated. Maybe Danny'd hit him harder than he thought.

The doctor nodded. "When Naomi helped me bring Warner in... it apparently attacked him for his cookies."

"We must lure the creature into containment," Teal'c stated, unrolling a floorplan of the SGC over the table. "It must be insulated, yet small enough to transport through the Stargate."

"Sam might have an idea for that, if we can catch her," Daniel put in. "Or some of SG-7 ought to still be safe."

"I know where Sgt. Siler keeps the foam rolls," Harriman added hesitantly.

WEaving free fingers with manacled ones, Colonel O'Neill listened to the others hammer out a plan. Stargate Command. Earth's portal to the stars. First, last, and best line of defense against the scum of the universe.

And they were going to use cookies to lure a bouncing yellow rabbit into a rubber-lined box.

Jack buried his head in his hands. "Okay, kids. It's official. This is a lousy day."

Wiring the last circuit in place in SG-7's vacant lab, Sam sighed. There. No way would Teal'c be able to sneak past this trap.

But you don't want Teal'c caught, a rational corner of her mind pointed out. You want him out there, catching that little yellow... thing.

But it would be so much fun to catch Teal'c. Those muscular arms, that tireless strength of body and heart; the little hints Janet had wheedled out of him about Jaffa culture, and what he might be looking for, now that Drey'auc was out of his life-

Hello, that annoying corner jumped up. Janet? Evil-minded lady with needles? Same doc who fought for three weeks to keep Teal'c alive when Hathor's crew left him for dead? You know she's got a "hands-off" posted on the base grapevine. Do you have any idea what your next physical will be like if you go through with this?

Bad enough to make the Spanish Inquisition look like a friendly conversation. And yet... she just couldn't quite stop herself.

It's not real! Sam told herself fiercely, swerving sharply around the holographic projector. Focus, Sam. Concentrate!

"Okay. We know it's electromagnetic," the astrophysicist said to herself, pacing the booby-trapped lab. SG-7 was long gone, either out in the corridors, trying to help Security, or locked in closetss, doing... other things. "Electrical shock on Warner, light flash on the rest of us. What kind of light? Were there any other energies released?" And why didn't it affect Daniel? She should call Janet and ask.

But Janet might come if she called, and catch Teal'c instead of her. She didn't want that.

"Yes, I do," Sam gritted out, heading for SG-7's emergency stash of triple-C's: double chocolate chocolate-chip cookies. Arggh! She knew the alien had almost dialed up the Stargate and she still couldn't think straight. Her team was counting on her, and she couldn't drag her mind out of the gutter long enough to figure out one alien's electromagnetic attacks.

"Teal'c's a nice guy," Sam mumbled between bites of chocolate bliss, scoping out the lab for anything that might contain the beast. Scanning EM, gas chromatograph, chemical hood... no, no. "And he does like you." She brushed off crumbs, looking over Terran and off-world equipment. Amazing, the kind of stuff the SGC had collected over the years. Reactors, pieces of zat'ni'catels, energy crystals from staff weapons. Looked almost as bad as Daniel's office. "As a friend. That's it."

Part of her didn't want to believe it. The safer, saner part knew it was true, and tried crushing any thought of Teal'c tied down with rubber hoses, spread-eagled across a lab bench, trapped under the Plexiglas shield they used for studying potentially hazardous artifacts-

Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

Chomping another choclate disc, Sam eyed the shield. A tall cylinder of specially-formulated plastic, able to slam down at a moment's notice over anything that threatened to contaminate the lab atmosphere.

Shock-resistant plastic. Of course.

So how could she lure it in here?

Stomping her baser instincts, Sam dialed the infirmary. "Janet?"

"Sam." Definitely a wary doctor on the other end of the line. "How are you feeling?"

"Like Cupid's got lousy aim," Major Carter growled. "Listen. I've got an idea." Speaking quickly, she outlined her plan. "The only problem is, I don't know how to get it-"


A cold shudder tracked down her spine, as combat-trained ears picked out faint, almost noiseless footsteps. "Oh no...."

"Sam!" Captain Frasier's tone was a match for the general at his fiercest. "Toss the cookies. Toss them now!"

Catching a glimpse of wriggling yellow, Sam threw and rolled.

"Prrow!" Crackling energies sheeting past her skin, the alien pounced on her shoulder. Claws barely breaking skin, it leaped again, landing square amidst chocolate fragments. Teeth gleamed in the adorable face as it tore into cooked sugar, savaging the bag.

Breathing hard, Sam backed off. Her shoulder was just beginning to throb, in the hot, tight way that meant it was about half a minute from hurting like hell. "It eats cookies?"

"Just hang on and stay out of range, Major," Janet said firmly. "Your guys are coming."

Paper rattled. The alien clawed open the bottom of the bag, delicately licking off every last crumb. "Tell them to hurry."

They'd hurry. She knew it in her bones.

With a flick of a tail, the alien leapt to a lab table, sniffing for any fragment of sugar. Delicate paws stepped around and through wires and circuits, patted pyrex beakers, scratched lightly at the holographic projector's controls.

Lights glowed. A beam swept over saffron fur, scanning the creature from nose to tail.

And thirty aliens shimmered into being.

"Oh, no." Sam backed toward the wall, watching the one real creature scamper off into the crowd of images. "For cryin' out loud...." Flesh blended with light, holograms scattering through the lab as if they were a scrape of rabbits. Any one of them could have been the alien. Or none of them.

"They couldn't have put it away?" Sam muttered, aiming a few of Colonel O'Neill's better curses SG-7's way. Now how would they catch it? Wave cookies and see who got bitten?

Wincing as outraged nerves woke, the major gripped the shelf behind her. Doesn't have to be that complicated, she told herself, quietly opening a cabinet door. Just get the projector off, and we're back down to one.

Rubber-sheathed tongs in hand, Sam edged forward.

Pink tongues stopped in mid-lick. Teeth gleamed. A horde of black eyes stared at her.

Hurry faster, guys.

"Of course, you know this is a trap," O'Neill stated, as the rest of SG-1 hugged the wall beside the lab door.


"We must assume it is," Teal'c acknowledged, cutting off the young Tau'ri mid-protest. He listened to the scrabble of tiny claws. "Yet the creature is within."

"Right." Dark eyes narrowed, considering their options. And coming to the tactically correct conclusion. Tek'mateh Bra'tac would have been pleased. "Daniel, you first."


"It is likely that Major Carter has set another immobilizing trap within the lab," Teal'c explained.

The young scholar ran nervous fingers through his hair. "And you want me to set it off."

"Indeed." Perhaps Daniel Jackson would learn tactics after all. Eventually.

"You know Sam's not gonna hurt you, Daniel," O'Neill said persuasively. "And no offense, but if we're going after the furball, I'd rather have Teal'c's aim on my side."


"Don't mention it." O'Neill's gaze held a dry humor. "Cookies?"

Sighing, Daniel Jackson handed Teal'c the bag he had obtained from Janet Frasier's office. Curious; Janet Frasier had mentioned more than once that she kept the sugary confections known as "Oreos" under lock and key. Perhaps she had been careless in her efforts to escape O'Neill.

The colonel held up three fingers. Two. One.

Daniel Jackson on point, SG-1 slipped into the lab.

"Look out!"

Heeding Major Carter's warning, the Tau'ri scholar ducked, yellow fur flying past his knee.

Teal'c fired, catching the creature in a blue-white bolt. It yipped, convulsed, and-


Ignoring the prickling on the back of his neck, Teal'c strode into the saffron wave. One of these creatures was real. He would find it.

"No, Teal'c, don't-"

The ceiling slammed breath from his lungs.

Fool, the Jaffa told himself, pinned to gray tiles. His zat'ni'catel was still within his grasp, but not so much as a finger would move. Samantha Carter was also a student of tactics. And she had learned well.

Muttering under his breath, Daniel Jackson leapt atop a lab counter. "Sam, of all the times to get the antigravity device working...."

Below him O'Neill kept firing. "Carter!"

"SG-7's holographic projector, sir!"

"Oh, you gotta be kiddin' me...."


Daniel Jackson laid down a swift volley, glanced about the lab. "Sam, how do I get him down?"



"Sir, I know how to trap it. If you've got any cookies-"

"Teal'c's got the cookies, Major!"

"Oops." A slim hand hit a toggle switch.

Gravity reclaimed its prey.

Rolling off the groaning archaeologist, Teal'c fired on the projector. Circuits crackled, and hideous yellow beasts shimmered into nothingness. Save one.


Akin to a zat blast, the Jaffa thought as the world went gray. Dimly he felt Daniel Jackson pry the Oreos from his grasp, toss them toward Major Carter's voice.

"Under the shield," Samantha Carter directed. "Right! Keep it right there."


"Heeere rabbit, rabbit, rabbit..."

"Jack, it doesn't even know what a rabbit is."


"Purr- yipe!" Plastic clattered. Claws scrabbled.

"Got you, you little-"

Darkness slammed down.

"Okay," Janet grumbled, staring at the rubber-lined cage through protective glasses. Yellow fur had settled down in a huff, sniffing at the coffee stench of the briefing room. "We've got it. Now what?"

"Leaman in the messhall's got a great barbecue recipe," Jack suggested. Even the glasses couldn't dim the shine of her hair, the fire in her soul, the... arggh. Don't go there, Jack.

"Hmmm... barbecue sauce," Sam murmured, leaning toward Teal'c. "Drips on your fingers, and-" Scarlet bloomed in her cheeks. "Ah... never mind."

"I don't think cooking it will solve the problem," Daniel muttered, holding an icepack to the side of his face. Man, the kid was going to have bruises on his bruises. "How's General Hammond?"

"Sleeping," Dr. Frasier reported. "Though it may be wearing off. Slowly."

"Really?" Sam brightened.

"Yes. This time he ordered me to toss Hjordis through the Stargate to Cimmeria, before he asked me to let her loose." Janet glared at the callused hand sneaking toward her fingers. "Colonel-"

A rattle of steel rings stopped him cold. "Do we have to use these again?" Daniel asked, eyebrows raised.

Jack sighed. Who knew an archaeologist could turn out so mean?

"Hjordis believed she had found a weapon against the Tau'ri," Teal'c stated, looming closer.

O'Neill raised a brow of his own. "I thought she wasn't talking?"

"She chose to reconsider."

Um. Not that he cared all that much what happened to a snakehead, but given the amount of cameras on base....

"We exaggerated the damage, and she started boasting." Daniel shrugged. "She didn't say much."

"So how'd she get past the Asgaard's transport beam?" Sam wanted to know.

"It is not an Asgaard device."

"Excuse me?" Jack jabbed a finger at the MALP pictures Daniel was spreading over the table. The gray stone column loomed by the Garor Stargate, potent and threatening as that on Cimmeria. "Column. Jewel. Viking types. It sure looks like a Hammer."

"But it's not," Daniel said, tapping stylized four-footed animals carved at the pillar's foot. "Thor was never associated with cats. I don't know why I missed this before."

Oh, maybe recovering from a sandstorm had something to do with it. "So the whole place's a setup." Damnit. From the reports, the Garor-liefr had seemed like nice folks.

"SG-9 didn't think so." Sam frowned, cuffs rattling as she twisted a pencil between her fingers. "And Major Kovacek's usually pretty good at reading people."

Ripping his gaze away from Janet, O'Neill snorted. "Carter, Kovacek-"

"May have been right," Daniel cut across, absently tapping a pen on a carved head. It did sort of look like a cat. If you squinted, maybe. "Give me a few minutes. I need to get some books before we go."

"Go?" Jack asked pointedly.

The archaeologist looked up. "To Garor." Where else? said that matter-of-fact tone.

"Hjordis indicated that the creature was found on that planet," Teal'c stated.

"If we're going to stop this, we need answers, sir," Sam pointed out.

"What we should do is wait this out," Jack argued. A few more hours, and he could scare up a good candlelight dinner. As long as he could keep Harriman out of sight....

Daniel glared over melting ice. "Given that thing's demonstrated talent for escapes, Jack, waiting is the last thing we should do."

"So we should send an unaffected team," Colonel O'Neill argued.

"What unaffected team, sir?" Sam said pointedly. "Unless you count SG-4-"

"Who I am not letting out of the infirmary until they stop throwing up," Janet cut in.

"Then the only available team which hasn't been flashed is SG-9. Who are on Garor. Sir."

Um. Hard to argue with that.

Janet yelped. "Colonel!"

"What?" Why was everybody staring at him? It wasn't like he'd pinched her that hard.

Glaring, the doctor brushed out her labcoat. "I'll thank you to keep your hands to yourself, Colonel."

Jack tried to look innocent. "Well, if I get any closer, you'll just have to slap me!"


Shaking it off, Jack grinned. "Hey...."

"That does it." Daniel's chair scraped back.

Dark eyes narrowed. "You're not going to a Goa'uld planet without a full team, Dr. Jackson." Teal'c was good, but damnit, the last two times he and Daniel had gone off somewhere alone, the linguist had ended up on the wrong end of a ribbon device.

"No, I'm not," the archaeologist said wryly. He glanced at Teal'c. "Anything special we should pack?"

"I will attend to it," Teal'c said. "We will meet you in the embarkation room, Daniel Jackson."

Pack heavy on his shoulders, Jack couldn't keep from rattling the long chain attaching him to Teal'c. On the far side of the ramp, Major Carter clanked her own steel links against the railing, never drawing Daniel's attention from the blue-bound book he was hastily thumbing through, oblivious to the cuff on his left wrist.

God, this was embarrassing. Who'd have thought Daniel would ever have them on a leash?

"Chevron six is holding. Chevron six is locked in place."

Even with the dampers, you could feel the floor vibrate. Daniel stuffed the text into his pack, bright eyes never leaving the gray naquada circle.

Jack couldn't help grinning. If he lived to be a hundred, this would never get old.

"Chevron seven-"

Energy splashed out of nothingness; Niagara blown sideways, air boiling on the froth of space and time. Power and magic and the most terrible, awesome gift the human race could ever know; portal to nightmare and wonder. It sang in his bones, a spaceblown siren's call.

As the wormhole stabilized, he glanced at Daniel. No shadows, the colonel thought guiltily, watching wide eyes shine in the watery blue light. God. With all he's been through, he still loves this....

Heaven help them if Daniel ever did leave, as he'd once dreamed of doing, caught in Amaunet's grasp. Two alternate realities was enough to drive home the point; the SGC minus Daniel Jackson equaled disaster.

Back to business. He nodded toward the observation booth. "Lieutenant Ario, I'm leaving the base under your command. Do not let that yellow disaster out."

Behind hastily-donned sunglasses, the stray member of SG-9 nodded fiercely. "Yes, sir."

"Sergeant Harriman, you're second."

Tucked behind shatterproof glass, the tech did a horrified double take. "I'm what?"

"Don't worry, sir," Naomi Jarvis assured them, priming her zat gun. "We can handle it."

A lieutenant, a master sergeant, and a secretary. He didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Jack turned to the glimmering wormhole, drew a deep breath. "Let's do it."

Cold, Daniel thought, stepping off the Garor dais toward the false transport column. Not the wormhole; that was always cold, though lately it'd stopped bothering him. No; they'd stepped out into alien starlight, and their breath hung in chill, crisp air.

"Colonel O'Neill?" Major Stan Kovacek stepped forward into the flashlights' circle, the rest of SG-9 giving loose cover.

"It's - a long story," Jack sighed. "Let me give you the short version...."

Listening with half an ear, Daniel coordinated steps with Sam as they circumnavigated the column. She ran a bleeping EM detector; he explored with fingers and flashlight.

"No emissions, sir," Sam reported, scanning the column. "It's not even quiescent, like the Cimmerian transport beam would be if Teal'c were near it. It's just not there."

"A decoy," Teal'c rumbled.

"Or maybe just a warning," Daniel speculated, translating runes on the fly. No obvious giveaways. Nothing to state this was anything but an Asgaard device.

Except for the cats. "Are there cats in the village?"

Major Kovacek looked at him askance. "Sure. Why?"

"There are no domestic felines on Cimmeria."

The major's gaze swiveled to Teal'c. "And? This is important?"

"We're a couple of million light years from Earth, and you didn't wonder why there are cats here?" Rattling chain, Jack stepped off the dais. "Danny, why is that important?"

The archaeologist held up a finger. "Major, I need you to tell me exactly how they greeted the general. Not the translation," he said hastily, as the major started to fume. "Exactly what they said."

Kovacek blew out a breath. "All right."

Casting his mind into the archaic Norse of Garor, Daniel listened.

"...Truly this is a day that will be sung of when our children's children enter Sessrymnir!"

Oh, yeah. That was it. "Sessrymnir," Daniel sighed. "Not Vahalla."

The major looked dubious. "It's where the chosen warriors go after they die, right?"

The archaeologist tried to knead away his headache. "It's where Freyja's chosen go after they die." Gods, it never failed. He could lay out mythological details until he was blue in the face, and they didn't listen.

"I thought Freya was a Tok'ra host," Sam spoke up.

Jack grimaced. "Somehow, I don't think your dad's buddies had anything to do with this, Carter."

"Probably not," Daniel agreed. Not if it really was Freyja; the real Freyja, not just a woman with her name. "Major, I really need to talk to Thane Atli."

"They're still partying," Kovacek shrugged. Military eyes looked at him askance. "You are going to fill us in, aren't you, Dr. Jackson?"

Daniel licked his lips. "I think I know what's going on, but I haven't got all the details yet; there's nothing about a creature like this in the mythology, although it does seem to coincide-"

"Bottom line, Daniel." Jack's hand rested near his sidearm. "Is this a Goa'uld world or not?"

The archaeologist turned to his chain-linked partner. "No chance it's just depowered?"

Sam shook her head. "You'd have to destroy the whole column, not just the Hammer." She tapped cold stone. "This was never linked to a transport beam to begin with."

"In one of the sagas, Loki called Freyja a troll," Daniel said reluctantly. "An ettin, as Gairwyn's people would say." He held up an empty palm. "Loki was a liar, but when he insulted people, it was usually with the truth."

Kovacek looked green. "You mean - we brought the general to-"

"Oops," Jack said dryly.

"But I'm not sure this is a hostile world," the archaeologist argued.

Jack lifted a silver brow.

"I need-"

"To talk to some people. Right." Jack waved a hand. "After you."

"Interesting jewelry, skald Jackson," the thane chuckled, eyes lightly glazed. "Is this a custom of yours we've not heard of?" A wide grin split his beard. "Perhaps you've raided yourself a wife, eh? Mardoll's tears, she's a pretty one!"

"Daniel?" Sam said warningly.

"No, no. She's a sister to me," the linguist said hurriedly. Best way to imply they weren't married, but Sam was still off-limits. Vikings traced descent matrilineally; they took their sisters seriously. "We ran into a small trouble. Ah..." Hmm. He couldn't remember the word for cute. It wasn't as if it would have come up in conversations about yes, we're from Midgard, no, we don't throw axes at each other, and oh, by the way, have you run into any mind-warping parasites? Okay, you can do this. Try adorable fur animal. "Fortjusande pulsverk djur?"

Blank looks.

"Liten odjur gul?"

"A tiny yellow monster?" Thane Atli said skeptically.

A couple of his fellow Garor-liefr chuckled to each other. "Midgardians. Can't hold their mead worth a split shield."

"Ja, liten odjur gul." Yes, we did see a little yellow monster. Chased it all over the base, trapped it with cookies, and oh gods, what's Janet going to say about the infirmary. Okay, focus. Identifying characteristics. He could do that. Big eyes, rabbitlike, throws lightning. Can't be too many of those around, right? "Ogon stor, blixt kanin-"

"Mardallar koningul!" came a yelp from the back.

In a heartbeat, Daniel found himself facing a cloud of dust, punctuated with a few falling warhammers.

Jack stared at the empty space where a Viking horde had been. "For cryin' out loud, Daniel, what'd you say to them?"

The Egyptologist brushed gold strands out of his glasses. "Mardoll's yellow rabbit?"

"Okay," Jack said, as Teal'c firmly steered over the slowest Viking; a terrified young blond on crutches from the last inter-village raid. "Talk."

Long braids shook. Gray eyes were wide and wild, and the youth was white under his scraggly beard.

"Teal'c, look scary."

A dark brow touched gold; then the Jaffa turned his most foreboding look on their reluctant guest.

The blond yelped, then spewed a torrent of Norse dialect, hands waving so hard he almost lost the crutches twice. Daniel listened, inserting a phrase here and there; Jack caught the words Freyja, Mardoll, and Valkyrie.

"Koningul?" the linguist asked pointedly.

A trembling hand pointed to the north. A pleading voice matched the shaking head. "Vebond Freyja!"

"Frior," Daniel said soothingly. "Hang onto him." He flicked a glance Jack's way. "Gisil says the koningul comes from Freyja Mardoll's sanctuary. Somebody let it loose in the time of his grandfather's grandfather, and the resulting chaos took out three strongholds and nobody knows how many villages before Mardoll came and caught it." Another spatter of Norse. "She warned them not to loose it again, for sometimes she journeys far among the stars, and even Hel's finest steed might not bring her in time."

Sweet. "How long did it take her to show up last time?"

Sam frowned as Daniel put the question to Gisil. "You think there's an alarm, sir?"

"Carter, if I had this thing locked up, I'd put all the bells and whistles on it I could find."

"He doesn't know," Daiel reported. "It was a long time ago, Jack. At least a century."

"He will lead us to this sanctuary," Teal'c stated.

Daniel looked at him askance, then asked Gisil a short, quick question.

"In case you haven't noticed, it's pitch-black out there," Major Kovacek pointed out. "And if there's hostile Jaffa-"

"Plenty of starlight, Major. And the point is to get this over with before there are Jaffa out there. Daniel?"

"He says he doesn't know the way." From that ironic glance, Daniel didn't believe it either. "But according to his grandfather's saga, the koningul was kept within a horgr - that's a stone altar - within the vebond. It's protected by Mardoll's seidr, her sorcery; a wall of summer's flame that can only be pierced by walkyrihnoss, the Valkyrie's treasure."

"A force field?" Sam let out a breath of relief. "We can find that, sir."

Good. Following a reluctant guide in the dark was somewhere near the bottom of his list of favorite ways to spend the night. "So all we need's the treasure."

"I believe we have it," Teal'c replied, holding out Hjordis' bracer.

"Soemundri!" Gisil yelped, then drew a deep breath.

"Oh, no," Daniel said hastily. "No, we're not-"

"Gunnr- mmmph!"

One hand gagging Gisils's mouth, Teal'c turned a solemn gaze on the linguist. "His intent was hostile, Daniel Jackson?"

"Ahh... yeah, I'm afraid so."

Jack blinked. "Um, Daniel?"

"He thinks we're wizards," Daniel said carefully, as Kovacek's men bound and gagged the blond. "And since in Norse culture wizardry is usually opposed to Freyja's magic...."

"We're the bad guys. Gotcha."

"All that negotiating," Kovacek muttered as they headed down the northbound trail. Feet had packed it hard over the centuries, winding a twisted path around boulders the size of houses. "All that smoke. All that mead...."

Time for a distraction. "So who's Mardoll? Besides our friendly local Goa'uld." He'd recognized that light in Daniel's eyes; the delighted shock of recognition, as myth and folklore intersected with fact. Better get Teal'c to sit on him, or Carter's going to find herself pulled right over a cliff.

"She's a Norse goddess," the archaeologist replied, scribbling notes as he walked. "Sea-light. She reputedly weeps tears of gold, loves gray bitches - I imagine that's why most of the hrolfhounds are gray, here - and cats. Nothing in the legend about rabbits, but it does purr, and it is golden, so I suppose it fits...."

"Wait a minute," Kovacek raised halting hands. "Just - wait. I thought you said she was a Norse goddess."

Blue eyes blinked guilelessly through glass. "She is."

Stan rubbed his temples. Jack strode on, oddly comforted that he wasn't the only one left in the dust. Guess it's not just the blow to the head.

Give Kovacek credit, the guy had guts. Not too many guys would go toe-to-toe with Jackson over fairytales. "But if she's one of the Asgaard-"

"Ah... no, Major, it doesn't work that way." Daniel tapped his notes. "Mardoll - who's one of a lot of goddesses who were also called Freyja, which really just means 'the Lady'-"

"Daniel," Jack said gently.

The archaeologist sighed. "Mardoll was one of the Vanir, not the Aesir. According to the legends, she's originally from Alfheim, not Asgard."

Wide-eyed comprehension swept Carter's face. "You're saying she can be Norse and Goa'uld?"

Was that what Danny was saying? Oh, this so didn't sound good.

"If she's Mardoll, yes. Which I've been wondering about, ever since we ran into Thor; not that I think he would've answered me if I'd asked, it can't reflect too well on the Asgaard if I'm right-"

Hunh? Where did that come from? "Mardoll, Dr. Jackson," Jack said pointedly.

"Right." Daniel held up a finger, stumbling over a fallen log. "Originally, the Norse had two sets of gods."


"Oh, this promises to be good," Jack muttered. "Let me guess. Our little gray guys are the - assir?"

"Aesir," Daniel corrected absently. "Yes. Thor, Odin, that bunch. But there are older gods. The lords of the alfar, the elf-folk. People who lived a very long time, who could shapechange, especially into birds, who could heal all but the most fatal of wounds... stop me when this sounds familiar."

Teal'c lifted an eyebrow. "Indeed." Gold gleamed in the starlight as the dark brow furrowed. "Is the name Vanadis in your legends, Daniel Jackson?"

"Vanir goddess." Daniel nodded. "It's another of Freyja's names. Or any of the Vanir women, actually. Mardoll, Gersemi, Hoern, Syr...."

"Names I have heard." The Jaffa inclined his head. "The Vanadis avoid the System Lords, O'Neill. Their forces are strong, yet legends say they claim no planet. Though Apophis spent many Jaffa in the attempt, he has never found their home systems."

"But if they don't have a planet, where do they get more Jaffa?" Sam asked.

"I do not know."

"They do have a planet, Major," Jack pointed out. "We're standing on it."

"Ah... maybe."

Kovacek fingered his MP-5. "You either have a planet, or you don't."

"They don't need to have the planet, Major," the archaeologist corrected. "Just the mythology."

"Nobody gets taken as slaves here, Dr. Jackson," the major snarled. "And the Garor-liefr don't sacrifice people to the Goa'uld. I asked."

"They don't have to." Blue eyes blinked, shuffling through pages of myth for the most relevant details. "According to the stories, the Vanir originally fought the Aesir, before coming to terms with them. But the Vanir held onto a lot more of their power than most Old European gods; though the more well-known folklore has those killed on the battlefield going to Odin, carried off by his Valkyries, Freyja was actually entitled to claim half the slain for herself."

Jack lifted an eyebrow. "And your point is?"

"Well... the Valkyries came to the battlefield in the form of birds. Birds of prey, mostly; sometimes ravens. Freyja especially had a cloak that let her become a falcon."

"Death gliders." Sometimes even he could connect the dots.

Sam looked pale. "You watch the fight, take the best fighters, heal or revive them...."

"And you've got hosts no one will miss. Cute." Jack matched Teal'c's stride, trying to ignore the clink of chain. It wasn't like he was going to run off and dial up home just so he could take Janet out to dinner - or punch Harriman out, that dirty, lucky, sonofa-

Okay, so maybe the manacles were still a good idea. "So what in all that makes you think Mardoll's not hostile?"

"I didn't say that," Daniel said swiftly. "I'm just saying that mythologically, she was adopted into the Aesir. We might try talking, first."

"Daniel, you always try talking first."

Pulling out a slim black book, the linguist started paging through the index. "And if that doesn't work, I think it'd be a good idea if everyone memorized one of these."

Kovacek took the text, started skimming, then stared at the archaeologist. "You've got to be kidding."

"Ahh... no, he's not." Jack took the slender tome, turning it to read the silver-scribed spine. Love Poems Through The Ages. "I know I'm gonna hate myself for asking this...."

A faint blush touched the tips of Daniel's ears. "She, ah, the Vanir were mostly deities of... well, they had special authority over...."

"Fertility?" Sam asked, hiding a smile.

"Relationships." Daniel cleared his throat. "Love-poetry was a good way to gain their favor. Or at least distract them while you made a quick break for the window. Loki did that once or twice...."

"Okay." O'Neill poked the shimmering barrier with a stick. "Forcefield we got. Any idea where the transport rings are?"

The first fingers of dawn pried at Sam's tired eyes as she studied her scanner. Garor was a long walk behind them, and while EM levels had led them through the narrow pass to this granite fortress, they weren't much good for finding smaller power sources. "I'd say just step back and try the bracelet, sir."

"What if this Mardoll's already in there?" Major Kovacek pointed out.

"Then she has already discovered her creature is missing." A dark brow touched gold. "From the Garor-liefr's history, her next actions will be... unpleasant."

"All right, everybody look sharp." O'Neill raised the bracelet. "And if they come up around you, make sure you're inside the rings." He pressed the sapphire.


Dark eyes rested on a brusied archaeologist. "Hate to bring this up now, Daniel, but does Hjordis count as one of these Valkyries?"

Daniel took off his glasses, rubbed tired eyes. "She should. I mean, we know Hjordis got into the vebond in the first place, and the ring controls are pretty non-specific."

"The ones you know of," Kovacek argued.

Teal'c moved, silent support for the weary archaeologist. "It is rare for transport rings to need encoded controls."

"But it does happen. Doesn't it."

"Sir, maybe we're just not in the right spot." Sam stood on tip-toe at the limit of her chain, studying sculpted granite. "If we circle the perimeter-"

The colonel looked at her askance. "Half the perimeter is cliff, Carter."

"Then that should cut down on the area to search, sir."

"Round and round the mulberry bush...."

"Mulberries are trees, Jack."

"Sure, ruin a good rhyme." The colonel pressed glittering blue yet again. "We're running out of rock here, Carter."

Sam studied her scanner, stowed it away with a sigh. Nothing. Hopeless.

Well... not quite hopeless. Daniel had his nose in a book, and Teal'c had moved near to keep him from going over the edge.

"An altar to Freyja would tend to be oriented toward the north, home of the aurora borealis." Daniel looked at the rising sun, shrugged. "Which way's north-"

Sam pounced.


"Major Carter!"

"Damnit, Sam..."

It took half an hour to untangle SG-1.

"Okay. Last time. And stand still, Carter." O'Neill pressed smooth sapphire.

"If it's here-" Kovacek began.

Teal'c held up a hand. "I believe I hear them, O'Neill."

SG-1 followed his gaze to a small semi-circle of upright stones. Far from the forcefield, yet within clear view of the fortress walls.

With a glimmer of light, shadowy rings dropped out of sight.


Gold glimmered in artificial flames, Goa'uld lights mimicking the torches of a thane's hall. Dust sparkled in beams from translucent skylights, turning grim stone light and open. Hammered gold glinted from spears and swords, trimmed cloaks of falcon feathers. Golden threads, in shades from iron-purple to copper-rose, were woven into shimmering curtains between rooms.

"When the Aesir met the Vanir, they riddled Heithr with spears and burnt her three times," Daniel said softly, checking the camcorder battery before he started filming. He could think of a half-dozen Norse scholars who'd cheerfully maim for a look at this hall. "But she rose again, as the witch Gullveig; gold-drunkenness, the power and corruption of that which does not fade."

Jack snorted. "Should've gotten her sarcophagus first."


Slim bootprints traced a path through the dust, leading toward a dial-set console. "Anybody else think this looks familiar?"

"Controls for a cryogenic chamber," Sam stated. She tugged at the chain, waiting until Daniel stepped closer to circle the console. "Hard to say, sir, but this looks a lot more streamlined than Hathor's setup."

"Hathor's deception was constructed in great haste," Teal'c noted. "The Vanadis are rumored to do many things, but they act with great care."

Daniel drew toward the hammered gold covering the far wall, tasting the sounds of the hieroglyphs so carefully marked around the splendid carving of Mardoll. No attempt at blending with the Asgaard, here; he murmured the familiar sounds of Goa'uld, a warning of the terrible fate hidden in the fluffy form of a koningul.

-Wise ones, do not loose this terrible creature. All shall fall helpless before its baleful gaze, you will see next-

"See next?" Sam frowned. "That's a strange place to end a warning."

Jack tapped the wall. "I mean, we're talking dreadful curse time here. You'd think there would at least be an 'or else'."

"I know, but-" Frowning, Daniel traced glyphs down the wall. "No, you're right," he realized, brushing off dust. "It is see next. As in the next column, where...." A dark hand pointed. "Thanks, Teal'c."

-With hopeless infatuation; for such is Our way, to remind all that neither mortal nor god can deny the heart's call. Only a full day guarded from the koningul's rays shall untwist the weave of Our net-

Daniel blinked. Polished the dust off his glasses. Re-read the glyphs. Peered, very carefully, at the pattern of Hjordis' footprints.

Prints that didn't come anywhere near the second column.

"Daniel?" A foot tapped impatiently. "What's it say?"

A snicker slipped past his guard. Get a hold of yourself, Dr. Jackson, he told himself firmly. After everything we've been through the past day, the casualties, the base in shambles, the general incapacitated... Jack'll kill you. Sam'll kill you. A giggle snuck out.

Teal'c cleared his throat. "It is," the Jaffa said carefully, "A most intriguing choice for a... weapon."

"She didn't read it," the archaeologist managed between giggles. "S-she didn't-" He slid to the floor, still laughing.

"It seems likely."

"For cryin' out loud, Teal'c, what's it say?"

"I believe Daniel Jackson will explain," the Jaffa said serenely, watching the archaeologist chortle helplessly on the floor. "Later."

"Colonel, do you mean to tell me that this entire fiasco was a Goa'uld practical joke?" General Hammond thundered.

Taking off the last of his restraints, Dr. Frasier kept her mouth firmly shut.

"Not exactly, sir." Jack slid a glance toward the stifled chuckle in the corner of the embarkation room. Blue eyes blinked innocently behind glass as the archaeologist simultaneously scribbled hieroglyphs all over a legal pad and kept up a soothing stream of Norse to the purring creature devouring SGC cookies. This kept up, there wouldn't be a ginger snap left on the base. "This was a serious attempt. If you read the glyphs Hjordis did, you would think the koningul was a weapon."

"Basically, sir," Daniel yawned. "She made a mistake in translation."

The general growled. "Hjordis is a Goa'uld, Dr. Jackson. She was born knowing the language."

"Doesn't help if you don't read the directions, sir," Sam pointed out.

"Do we have to send it back?" Harriman sighed.

"Mardoll places great value on her pet, Sergeant Harriman." Teal'c folded his arms. "And the Vanadis are not allies of the System Lords."

"So unless we want them to have a good reason to buddy up to Heru'ur, we might as well toss it back through the 'Gate," Jack finished.

Hammond's face was a study in frustration. "Major Kovacek."

SG-9's commander swallowed. "Yes, sir."

"You will escort SG-1 as they take this... thing, back to Mardoll's hall. Carefully."

"Hang on a minute." Daniel held up a hand, finished scribbling something that looked like a bird. "Sam, can you help me attach this to the outside of the cage? I don't want Anja to eat it."

"Sure. A little tape, we can keep it out of reach."

Jack eyed the thin packet of Goa'uld writing. "Ah, Daniel, what does that say?"

"Oh, just a note," the linguist shrugged. "Janet helped me put it together."

"A list of what we think it ate and when," the doctor explained. "I don't know what Mardoll feeds it on a general basis, but I'll bet it's not cookies."

Black eyes blinked innocently. "Erp!"

Flexing a wrist free of steel, Jack helped Teal'c set the cage down by the cryogenic console. "Okay, kids, we are gone."

"Just a few more minutes, Jack...."

A low rumble shook the fortress. Dust filtered from the ceiling.

Jack's earpiece burst to life. "Sierra Gulf One!" Kovacek's voice was tight with controlled panic. "Hostile is descending upon your position!"

"No, really?" He jerked a head at Teal'c. "Daniel."

"We're here, sir," Carter said briskly, tugging their wayward archaeologist into the circle of transport rings.

Perfect. "Okay, kids. Get ready to run like hell." He reached for Hjordis' bracer.

Naquada rings shot up around them.

"Oh, brother...."

Light flared and died, leaving them on the granite cliffside beside a falcon-gold death glider.

And ten very tall, very blond, very startled female Jaffa.

"Lousy day," Jack muttered, and felt a brush of air past him. "Daniel, no...."

But there went their linguist, chattering away, not a weapon in reach. Arrgh.

"Hjordis?" asked one of the... well, guess that was a Valkyrie, after all. Glittering armor, bird-winged helmets, fierce gaze; yep, fit the description. Although he'd bet charged staff weapons weren't exactly in the folklore.

Waving an empty hand, Daniel said something that included Asgaard, Thor, and koningul.

Staff weapons snapped shut, lifted away. The center blonde gave them a long, level look; said something low and languid, and montioned her troops aside.

Tension easing out of greenclad shoulders, the archaeologist waved them forward. "It's all right. I think."

It'd be all right when they were on the other side of the 'Gate. "So you said?" Jack prompted, as SG-1 beat a casual retreat.

"Hjordis stole the koningul, we found out about it and brought it back."

True. If misleading. "What was that about the Asgaard?" Sam asked.

"Oh. Well, they wanted to know where she was... and she probably is in the Hammer by now, right?"

Given that Hammond had sent her through to Cimmeria a few hours ago, probably. "So what'd they say?"

"Ah." Daniel walked a little faster. "That if we were lying, they'd fetch us back to Mardoll. Alive."

"Doubletime it is," Jack concluded.

"Bruises, a few torn ligaments, and general exhaustion," Dr. Frasier concluded her report. "Outside of that... well, if embarrassment is fatal, we ought to know very soon."

"But nothing... serious occurred." Hammond's hands twitched, as if they wanted to rub the fading hickey.

"Not even in established relationships. Just a lot of heavy petting, sir."  

"That in itself would cause great conflict between the System Lords," Teal'c declared from his post against the infirmary wall. "They do not forgive such liberties."

"No wonder Daniel didn't want to ask the Asgaard about it," Sam murmured, paging through scribbled notes. "Although it fits with what you said about them bluffing."

Rubbing near where Frasier's last needle had jabbed, Jack tried to follow that train of thought. "What fits, Carter?"

"According to the Norse sagas, the chief of the Aesir once had Freyja's necklace stolen." Carter flipped a page. "He didn't give it back until Freyja started a war between two kings that went on for countless generations."

"The Vanadis have indeed started such battles between System Lords, O'Neill," Teal'c noted. "They are infamous in trickery and wiles."

"Cute." Didn't exactly fit Thor's image as Benevolent Protector of the Galaxy. But then, neither did that little treaty clause of humans only exist to serve the Goa'uld. "Something tells me this is why Danny wasn't surprised when Cronos laid out terms."

Sam shook her head. "Legend has Thor as the best of the Aesir. A lot of the rest of them... frankly, sir, Odin's only interest in humans was getting the best warriors to fight in Ragnarok." She looked up. "That's the... final battle, sir."

Hammond's eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "There aren't going to be any Ragnaroks on my watch, Colonel."

"No, sir." Thor might be an ally. But Mardoll was proof there were things the Asgaard weren't telling them. Just like there were things the Tok'ra weren't telling them, things the Tollans wouldn't tell them, things their own government didn't tell them...

But that was okay. The people he could count on were right here, safe and relatively sound. Speaking of which- "Shouldn't you be off to a cot, Major?"

"Just waiting for my weekly degaussing," Sam quipped. "For my MRI, sir," she clarified.

Oh. Right. "So what's the hold-up, Doc?"

Janet held a finger to her lips, pointing at the MRI.

Raising an eyebrow, Jack caught the faint sound of snoring.

Shaking her head, Janet motioned to Spencer. "I hate to wake him, but...."

"That will not be necessary." Teal'c reached in, lifted out the snoozing archaeologist.

Murmuring something unintelligible, Daniel snuggled into the powerful grip.

Ah, Daniel. Jack sighed. "Sorry about the exhibit, Dr. Jackson."

Halfway in, Sam hesitated. "The textile exhibit, sir?"

"Yeah. He missed it to save the base." Story of his friend's life.

"Not yet, sir," Carter's voice echoed out. "It's supposed to run all week."

Oh, really? Jack turned a calculating gaze on the stoic figure presently lifting glasses off Daniel's face. "Teal'c - how'd you like to see the Pacific?"

Noise. Movement.

"Sir, are you sure you have everything?"

"Isn't the first time I've packed for him, Carter. Notes, tapes, laptop; he'll be fine."

Hmm... warm. Although his pillow seemed to be on top of something lumpy, kind of like a... knee.

"Daniel Jackson is awake."

Awake and confused. "Jack?"

"Relax, Danny. You're being kidnapped."

"What?" Fumbling for his glasses, Daniel stared at a passing sign.

Cascade, Washington. 200 miles.

"Oh no."

"It's just an exhibit, Daniel," Sam shrugged. "What could possibly go wrong?"