This chapter is dedicated to fantasdancer because she always leaves lots of good reviews! Happy Birthday!
They had talked late into the night, not even stopping when it was time for a meal, continuing to discuss things while eating. Falanna was vastly amused when she noticed Jack sneaking more and more food onto Dannul's plate while the latter wasn't looking. Evidently, Jack thought that Dannul needed to eat a little more and Dannul's expression when finding a tidbit of food in the place of a tidbit he'd just consumed was priceless!
"Stop that," Daniel said, turning a glaring eye on Jack.
"Stop what?" Jack said innocently.
"Putting more food on my plate."
"I wasn't doing that," Jack told him. "Honest, Danny."
"Uh-huh. Tell another one."
By this point, their conversation had drawn everyone else's attention and even though the Ghenta did not speak English, they could guess what was being said. One of the Council members asked something and Daniel turned to answer him, but he turned back in time to catch Jack in the act of putting a morsel of vegetable cake on his plate.
"Aha! Caught ya!" Daniel said, causing no end of amusement at the table. Even the Ghenta were laughing while Sam giggled, Teal'c chuckled, and Skaara grinned.
"Okay, okay, so you caught me," Jack said, admitting defeat. "I'll stop. I promise."
The meal continued and Falanna had to fight down a smile when she spotted Skaara carefully sneaking more bread onto Daniel's plate. Daniel was keeping such a close eye on Jack that he was oblivious to what Skaara was doing and he returned to the previous topic.
"You said that Korh has only been in power for a few years," he said, unknowingly picking up the piece of bread Skaara had slipped onto his plate and nibbling at it. "Just what is his position and how did he come to be in power in the first place?"
Falanna breathed a short prayer of thanks that Dannul spoke their language so well. "Korh is an astute politician. He was often in the right place at the right time saying the right things to serve his cause. He moved up through different layers of our government at a fairly young age and suddenly, he was in charge of research. He's an efficient researcher and he's solved several problems that we've been working on for a while, but he also uses any methods that will get him what he wants. It is true that the Researcher's Guild has accomplished quite a lot recently, but they have also received criticism due to their methods and for their failure to work the Sabbah."
"They still aren't able to work the Gate?" Jack said, surprised. "Wait a second. They worked it when they came to Earth to get us! If they don't know how to use the Gate, then how did they come through it to Earth?"
Patiently, Falanna and the rest of the Council explained. Korh apparently had an advanced computer system that could tell him what the last address dialed was, but it could not generate new addresses.
"I see," Teal'c said thoughtfully.
"Teal'c? You look like you're remembering something. What is it?"
"I am uncertain, O'Neill," Teal'c told him. "Mention of this computer reminds me of something, but what it is, I know not. It is something that I heard in the past but I cannot recall it or why it is important."
"It'll come to you," Sam said supportively. "Just wait."
Talk moved to other channels then, mostly the history of Kohr's career and how the Guilds on Ghenta differed from one another and the roles they played in the government.
"Well, this is peachy," Jack said after hearing that a single guild could trump all the others if the project it was working on was deemed of "worldwide importance." "So, are we of 'worldwide importance'? Is that why Korh and his Scientific Guild suddenly in charge of the Research Guild and its facility?"
The Ghenta all smiled. "You are very perceptive, Jack," Ahntas said brightly.
"I have my moments."
Daniel had realized that Skaara had been putting food on his plate and the rest of the people seated at the table started laughing uproariously at the expression on Daniel's face.
Once the meal was over, everyone moved to the sitting room to talk some more. By the time sleep became imperative, they had a tentative battle plan formed. With luck, they would be able to implement it the next day as soon as they returned to the facility.
Korh had never had so much go so wrong so quickly before. The day before he'd been in complete charge of the Tau'ri and the facility they were housed in, but the Council had run merrily through that and had taken them, of all places, home! Outside of the facility Korh had no control over what the Tau'ri would be able to tell the Council or what they would do. For all he knew, they'd shaken their escorts, found some way to remove the barrier in front of the Shabbah and they'd returned home! If they hadn't done that, then he could think of any number of unpleasant alternatives to that course of events, and most of them involved a great deal anguish he'd rather not deal with.
How had things deteriorated to this point? One moment, he was fine, and the next, things went to the Dark Realm without a second thought. Incredible.
He felt a headache coming on.
Over the next few days, Korh's headache came to stay. Not only did the Council find the Tau'reh absolutely charming (their words exactly) but the Council was unwilling to have them confined to the research facility again.
"Why not?" Korh asked, surprised into speaking. Falanna and the other Council members had returned to the facility to talk with him.
"We don't see a need to have them confined," Yura said. "They are not violent and they are not a danger to themselves or others."
Korh stared at him, unable to believe what he was hearing. "They attacked Ahntas and his team with a weapon when they escaped," he reminded them. "That sounds dangerous, doesn't it?"
"Well, that was before they understood anything," Yura said. "I mean, no one had bothered to explain anything to them! Of course they felt as if they had to escape and to use any measures in order to do so."
Korh blinked. "Explain things to them? What do you mean?"
Falanna laughed. "Oh, Korh! Ahntas and his team did not explain things because they felt that their grasp of language wasn't good enough yet, but it's much, much better than we thought. They know our language enough to understand what we say and what we mean when we say it, so of course, we explained to them that they cannot leave yet since we have so many questions!"
"And they accepted that?"
Falanna looked at Korh as if he were being unreasonable or making no sense. "Of course they did!"
Now Korh knew that something was going on that he wasn't seeing. He doubted that the Tau'reh would agree to stay just because things had been explained to them. He doubted it highly. None of the Tau'reh struck him as the type to just give in because a few words had been spoken and some misconceptions had become clear. Then again, they were aliens. Who was to say if his perceptions of them were correct? For a moment or two he considered that possibility and then rejected it. No, he was right. He was sure of it. "I see."
"I'm glad to see you understand," Falanna said brightly.
Korh nodded. "I do understand. So, for the time being, what is planned for the Tau'reh?"
Falanna's colors shifted and she smiled. "For right now, we've decided to let them make themselves at home. Since my dwelling is the largest I've arranged quarters for them so they'll be comfortable and at the moment they should be settling in with aid from my staff. Over the next few weeks we'll show them around Ghenta and introduce them to people and after that, we can introduce them to the Cahvel specialists and artifacts and see what we can learn."
"What if they know nothing about the Cahvel culture?"
The instant he saw their reaction to the question Korh cursed himself for speaking before he thought. He'd already assured them that it was almost certain they knew things about the Cahvel culture! That had been his whole wedge for running his idea of keeping the Tau'reh there through the Council!
"You assured us that they did," Falanna said. "Which is it, Korh?"
Uh-oh. "Well, I'm fairly certain that they do," he said smoothly. "After all, the physical similarities between the Tau'reh and the Cahvel skeletons we found can't be denied. I only said that to pose a 'what if' scenario."
"Perhaps you could find a better time and place to pose your 'what-if' scenarios," Falanna said coolly. "You frightened all of us into thinking that we were keeping sentient beings here for a reason that did not exist!"
It was true, too. Falanna and members of the Council were still shifting colors.
"I apologize," Korh said hastily. "It was not my intention to alarm you, Councilmembers."
"You are forgiven, Korh," Falanna said graciously. "We shall meet with you again. We will still need your insights into several matters."
Korh noticed that they had not said they would be in contact with him about the Tau'reh.
The Tau'reh were in their quarters in Falanna's home, amusing themselves while they waited for the Ghenta to return. They knew that the Council was meeting with Korh and all of them wished they could see the cretin's face when he realized that he'd lost his control over them.
"I bet he turns puce," Jack said, highly amused at the image of a puce Ghenta. It wasn't pretty, but it was very, very funny.
"I'd like a really sick shade of gray shot through with purple," Sam said.
Jack blinked. "Isn't that puce?"
"No, puce is more of a blue shade."
"I think it would be more purple or reddish-brown, wouldn't it?" Daniel asked thoughtfully.
"I have heard it described as a muddy violet," Teal'c added.
Skaara looked confused. "Is not puce when you are sick?"
Surprised, they all looked at him.
"Sick to your stomach," he clarified. "When you are sick to your stomach you puce."
Sam broke down into giggles and nearly fell on her nose.
"Um...no," Jack said quickly. "When you're sick to your stomach you puke, Skaara. 'Puce' is a color."
Skaara thought about this. "It must be a very ugly color then, to be so close to puke."
That sentence made them all, even Teal'c, lose it. Skaara laughed right along with them, understanding just what he'd said and why it was funny. They were all laughing so hard that none of them noticed when Falanna entered. She'd heard them laughing all the way down the hall and wondered just what happened to cause such laughter.
"I'm glad to hear you all so happy," she said once they had enough breath to greet her. "What has happened?"
Daniel fought down further laughter. "I don't know if it will translate, but I can try telling you," he offered. At Falanna's nod he spent the next five minutes trying to tell her just what had been said and what it meant, and when she finally grasped the meaning she shifted colors intensely and started to laugh. Hearing her laugh set all the humans off again and for several minutes no one could speak; they were all too busy laughing.
"So, what color was our good friend Korh?" Jack asked. "I have to know."
"It was ugly," Falanna said. "He looked absolutely sick!"
"And score one for the good guys!"
It took Daniel a few minutes to explain that one to Falanna, but once she understood she could appreciate the sentiment.
"So what's planned for tomorrow?" Sam asked. Their general game plan was to make it seem to Korh as if they were settling in for the time being and to eventually attempt to figure out just where he found the technology he'd been using. According to Falanna, the Ghenta had nothing that could do what Korh had been doing.
"None of us like the fact that he's suddenly able to do these things," Falanna told them. "He has technology that is far beyond ours and none of it makes sense. We were hoping that if we managed to obtain some you would be able to tell us what it is."
"It stands to reason that we might know, or at the very least, either Teal'c or one of our allies might know," Jack said. "Since you and the Council were so kind as to get us away from Korh, we'd be more than happy to lend a hand with figuring out what Korh has."
Falanna smiled. "That would be wonderful."
There were several reasons why Jack and SG-1 were so eager to help Falanna with Korh's little technology "problem," but not the least of the reasons was Daniel. Since leaving the research facility and being told that Korh had no permission to enter Falanna's home, he was a lot like the old Daniel, the one that SG-1 remembered. It was almost like Korh's little experiment had never happened. Occasionally, he would get an odd, frightened look in his eyes, but after a minute or two it would pass and he would be himself again. Even better was the fact that he was joking and laughing again and having fun. He actually had taken a short nap in the middle of the day without having to have someone near him while he slept. Skaara was inordinately pleased with this fact and had informed them all, "His spirit is beginning to heal."
The next week seemed to prove that statement over and over. After using a walkie-talkie confiscated from Korh to report to Hammond ("It's dammed good to hear your voices, SG-1!") and telling him how matters stood on Ghenta, they received his reluctant permission to remain there until the present mysteries were solved.
"How are Doctor Jackson and Skaara?" Hammond asked before they could hang up. "I have a very anxious doctor here and an even more anxious father."
Daniel took the radio. "Hello, General. It's good to hear your voice, too. I'm just fine and Skaara's here. Does Kasuf want to talk to him?"
What they all heard next was priceless because it sounded as if the petite Janet Frasier and Kasuf were battling for the microphone.
"ME FIRST!" Janet shouted.
"THEY ARE MY CHILDREN ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CHAPPA'AI!"
"Let me talk to Father," Skaara suggested. "That will solve the problem."
Daniel handed the walkie to Skaara and fought down a chuckle. Janet versus Kasuf, hoo, boy.
"Father?" Skaara said after Jack reminded him of how to use the walkie.
"SKAARA!" What followed was a stream of Abydonian that only Daniel and Skaara could follow, and perhaps Teal'c. More than once Skaara smiled or winced and tried to talk, but Kasuf talked right over him. Finally he gave up and just let Kasuf talk as much as he wished. Once it seemed that he'd run out of steam Skaara hit the button and said a few quiet words before handing the walkie back to Daniel.
"Father says that he cannot wait to see us and that we are in trouble for not contacing him before this," Skaara reported.
"I was afraid of that," Daniel said. "Thanks, Skaara."
"He wants to talk to you," Skaara added.
"I was afraid of that, too. Okay. Good father?" Daniel said, speaking into the walkie.
Another stream of Abydonian followed and Daniel blinked and started to swallow. "Thank you, good father."
"Okay, you've had the mike long enough," they heard Janet complain in the background. "For the love of all things sacred, let me talk to Daniel!"
Daniel winced. He really, really didn't feel like talking to Janet just now. She would be full of questions about his mental state and he didn't want to talk about it. "I'm all right, Janet."
"Any problems?" she asked, finally getting the microphone away from Kasuf.
"No, not really," Daniel admitted. "A few bad dreams, but nothing too bad. I'm fine."
Surprised silence. "You're all right?"
"I think so," he answered. "I'm not in denial or anything, and I know what's happened to me, but it's not so difficult to deal with now."
"Has something changed?"
Daniel chuckled. "Oh, yes. We're no longer confined to the research facility, we're under the protection of the Ghenta Council, and Korh's no longer in charge of us."
He heard Janet laugh. "That's great! Let me know if anything else changes, all right?"
"Will do, Janet."
After receiving further orders from General Hammond about reporting in and hearing of Thor's visit SG-1 promised to call home again as soon as they could and to let Hammond know what was going on.
"Any guesses on when you'll be returning? We miss you around here."
"Now, that just warms the cockles of my heart," Jack joked. "A few weeks, three or so, I think."
"All right, colonel. Report in every other day."
After they finished reporting in, Falanna took them to a building housing the Ghenta archives.
"This is where all of our records are kept," she explained as she led them inside. "We have taken down all of the writings found from the Cahvel culture and transcribed them into bound volumes here. I was hoping that Daniel might recognize the symbols they used."
Daniel's eyes gleamed and Jack fought down a wave of chagrin. It was very unlikely that they'd ever get Daniel out of there without extreme and violent force. Either that, or an act of God.
"I've gathered copies of all the Cahvel writings in this room," Falanna said, opening a door. "Will you be comfortable here?"
Jack had to give Falanna points for getting furniture that they could sit at comfortably. Daniel scooted to the table and opened up the nearest book. Within seconds he was flipping through the pages.
"Do you know this script?" Falanna asked, seeing Daniel's eyes skimming over the text.
Falanna looked at Jack for an explanation. "Ummm" had not been covered in their language lessons.
"He's not sure yet," Jack said.
Five minutes later Daniel's entire posture changed from limp in a chair to a hunting dog on a scent. "OH!"
That got their attention. "What is it?" Teal'c asked, moving to Daniel's side.
"It's...well, it's a variation of what I think is Brahmi, which was a precursor to about forty modern Indian alphabets, and it was used about 500 B.C. It's old and the time elapsing could account for some variations in the symbols, but yeah, it's entirely recognizable."
Falanna's colors shifted so much that they had a hard time stopping themselves from laughing.
"Uhh-ohhh," Daniel said a second later. "Here's a symbol I definitely recognize."
"What is it?" Jack asked, catching Daniel's change in mood.
"It's not Brahmi. It's the symbol for Nirrti."