"Welcome to P9E-554, campers," O'Neill said as the event horizon dissipated behind them. "According to MALP readings, we have a nice little campground ahead of us. We've got trees, we've got rocks, we've got blue sky, and we've got…trees."
"Looks like Maine," Carter said, looking around. "Very…green and piney."
"Well, let's start wandering around," Daniel commented, digging in his vest for tissues. Why did his allergies always act up like this? "Hopefully we'll find something."
"You know what I like about Maine?" O'Neill said chummily as they headed away from the Stargate. "All the ice cream stands. They've got a lot of those in Maine. All of it, really good ice cream. That and spring water. They've got a lot of that, too."
"Maybe we will find some, O'Neill," Teal'c told him, taking point.
"Which? Spring water or ice cream?"
Five hours later, they'd found an ideal campsite and Carter had taken tons of soil samples that she could analyze once they returned to Earth. They'd found no signs of civilization, but they were still scheduled to remain for another two days. Jack told Daniel not to give up hope, sooner or later they'd find something for him to play with. Some rock or other was bound to show up.
"Artifacts, Jack," Daniel reminded him, yawning.
"Yeah, those paperweights you've got all over your office. Those. You okay?"
"Just really tired," Daniel answered. "Didn't get much sleep last night."
"You went to bed early, though," Carter pointed out.
"Well, I had a lot of dreams last night."
"Were they pleasant ones, Daniel Jackson?" He was still intensely interested in dreams.
"No, they weren't, but really, I'm fine." Everyone left it at that, sensing that they weren't anything he wanted to talk about, but what they didn't know was that they had been dreams of his parents' deaths.
Much later that evening, the stars came out and it was a night like Minnesota, as Jack would say. All of them pulled out MREs and made dinner, chatting away companionably.
"What've we got tonight?" Jack said, plopping down on a handy log.
"Um, we've got chicken with noodles, macaroni and cheese, or beef and mushroom. Take your pick," Daniel said, looking through the packages.
"I think I'll have a taste adventure, then, and go with the mac and cheese."
"Beef and mushroom, please, Daniel Jackson."
"Chicken and noodles," Sam pleaded, hoping that this time they would be edible.
"Okay," Daniel said, tossing each of his friends their chosen packets. "And I'll go with…what the heck is that?"
"Aw, come on, Daniel, they're not that bad," Jack said, starting to open his.
"No, no, that's not it," he said, looking beyond where Jack sat. "I see light over there."
Everybody turned, staring. Sure enough, there was light and plenty of it. It looked like there were torches, but they were pretty far away.
"Okay, let's put out this fire and head over there," Jack said. "Daniel, get ready to do a meet'n'greet."
Close to an hour later, they found where the torchlight had been coming from. There was a large stone building covered with vines, which explained why they hadn't seen it before. What little they could see of the building made them all think of a large, moss-covered boulder, and they'd seen plenty of those already.
"Do you think everyone's gone inside?" Carter asked, looking at the door that was partially hidden by vines. It was covered by carvings that Daniel was busy looking at.
"They must have, but something about these carvings…"
"What is it, Daniel Jackson?"
"Well, we have what appears to be some runes, here. Younger Futhark, which originated around the second century A.D. The only problem is what it says."
"What does it say?" O'Neill asked.
"Um, 'Those who enter and have most need shall have the blessings of the elves.' Something along that line, but it seems that it means we'll actually get something. I can't tell what, though."
"Well, let's go inside and find out, kids," O'Neill said, leading the way.
When they got inside, there was a very big feeling that they'd been expected. The place was packed, and everyone was facing the door they'd come through. Jack and Carter stopped, surprised, and Daniel went forward at Jack's signal.
"Hello," Daniel said in his best meet'n'greet attitude. "We are peaceful explorers from a place called Earth. We apologize for barging in like this, but we saw torchlight and wondered what or who it was."
"No apologies are needed," an elder man said, stepping forward, his hands out to grasp Daniel's in a gesture of greeting. "They told us you would be coming."
"They did?" Daniel said, surprised. "Who?"
"The elves, of course!" the old man said, smiling broadly. "The guardian spirits who watch over us and aid us in all things. They asked us to wait, because they wished you to be here during the communion tonight. They said there was one among you in great need."
"Great need?" Jack asked, surprised. "In need of what?"
"In need of their blessings, good sir," the old man replied. "I am Alberich, the headman of Aldiss village, and these good people you see around you are the villagers of Aldiss. We bid you welcome, strangers."
"Well, thank you," Daniel said. "I'm Daniel, and this is Colonel Jack O'Neill, Major Samantha Carter, and Teal'c. It is an honor to meet you."
"An honor to meet you as well," Alberich answered, turning to the waiting villagers. "Come, we must make our guests welcome!"
In a moment, the villagers descended upon the team, offering to take coats and hats and packs, as well as their guns, which the villagers referred to as "burdens." Jack said thanks, he'd keep his. They were shown to the very front of the building (Daniel thought it was a temple) and shown to seats behind a large table. They sat there with Alberich and other village elders, and food was brought out. Other villagers placed themselves in groups around the temple, sitting on rugs or cushions, and everyone was sharing food.
"The elves have told me that you will be curious about us," Alberich said kindly to Daniel. "They ask me to tell you that the groups you are seeing in the temple are clans or families, and it is customary for them all to eat together just as they would in their own homes."
"Th-thank you, I was wondering about that," Daniel said, surprised. "And it is customary for the elders to eat together?"
"Yes, it is," Alberich assured him. "We must be together since we all do the chants together. The chants will tell the elves we are ready to meet with them."
"I see," Daniel said while Jack raised a skeptical eyebrow a la Teal'c.
"The…elves tell you these things?" Jack asked, wondering if the old guy was cracked in the head.
"Yes, they do," Alberich told him. "Since I am the eldest, I am the one most used to hearing them, so they speak to me most since they can be sure their messages will be heard clearly and without misinterpretation."
"Do others hear them?" Carter wondered.
"Of course. We all do," another elder assured her. "As one grows older, the more clearly they are heard. The elves say that over time our ears become used to hearing them. That is all it is."
"We will talk more later," Alberich said kindly. "Now, it is time for our tired travelers to eat! The elves say that your intended dinner was not fit for anyone, not even dwarves, so please enjoy. There is a good deal of everything."
There was. There were several kinds of bread, roasted meats, cheeses, cooked vegetables in sauces or broth, and fruit and cakes. To drink, there was only cool spring water, which destroyed Jack's theory of "communion" being nothing more than wine going to one's head. Dinner lasted for hours, and every time that SG-1 thought it was over, another course was offered. Finally, Alberich asked them if they'd had enough, and they were more than happy to assure him that they had and that everything had been positively wonderful.
"Beats macaroni and cheese that tastes like chicken," Jack said, joking.
"Yes," Alberich said, somewhat confused as the last of the dishes and food were taken away. "Good. Now, it is almost time for communion."
"Communion?" Teal'c asked.
"With the elves. They are coming. Everyone, get ready!"
Immediately, people rushed to their respective clans and sat down, looking excited and happy.
"What should we do?" Daniel asked.
"Just remain where you are," Alberich told him. "I told you, the elves wish you to be present tonight."
"Okey-dokey," Jack said. "We'll…just sit." He whispered to Daniel, "So, do we meditate, or what?"
"I suppose we just wait and see."
Further conversation was blocked since the elders began chanting. What bothered Daniel about that chanting was that it was unlike anything he'd ever heard, and that the words they were chanting included sounds that did not exist in Germanic or Scandinavian languages. In people descended from a Scandinavian culture that should not have been. Where had those alien sounds come from?
Suddenly, the chanting stopped, and it became deadly cold in the temple. Daniel and the rest of SG-1 realized that they could see everyone's breath, and it appeared as if hoarfrost was beginning to show on the walls, floor, and furniture. Slowly, though, it faded away and it became warmer. In fact, thousands of warm little breezes moved throughout the temple, ruffling hair and clothing. Carter, most of all, was surprised. How could there be wind inside?
"Our friends, the elves, have come," Alberich intoned. "They search our hearts and minds and pour down blessings upon those with most need."
"We thank the elves, our friends and guardians, for their kind gifts, and we gratefully accept," the village answered as one. "We pray that they shall continue to watch over us for all time."
Alberich turned to Daniel. "The elves are among us now. The warm breezes you feel are them being nearby. Do not be afraid."
"Oh, I'm not afraid," Jack said as one breeze ruffled his hair. "I'm just a little creeped out, that's all. Why was it cold earlier?"
"That was the wind from their coming," Alberich explained. "They must come a long way, so they take…a shortcut, if you will. That coldness is the result of that shortcut."
"Oh. Sounds like Gate travel," Jack said as a breeze made a pocket flap flap. "We used a shortcut to come here, too."
"Wonderful. Then you already know how they travel."
Silence fell then, and the breezes stopped. There was a very heavy feeling of…waiting… within the temple.
"What is happening?" Teal'c asked, concerned.
"The elves are conferring on who has the most need," Alberich said, smiling. "It will not take long, and they shall make their choice."
"How will we know when they're finished?" Jack asked.
Suddenly, a great rush of wind was heard, and it was clear from the way it blew clothing and hair that it was heading straight for the head table, the elders, and SG-1. Jack winced, expecting to be knocked over, but immediately all of his concerns were swept away as Daniel fell over backwards, unconscious. The wind was gone.
"What the hell?" Jack shouted, scrambling to get to Daniel. "Daniel? Daniel?" Worried, Jack tapped the archeologist's face. "Wake up!"
"It is all right," Alberich said, attempting to calm him. "The elves have merely decided to bestow their blessings upon him. He is not the only one, there are four others, and they are all sleeping, just as Daniel is. He and they will awake soon."
"He's right, sir, I can find nothing wrong with him," Carter said, completing a field examination.
"He's unconscious, Carter!"
"I meant aside from that!"
"Please, there is no reason to worry," another elder said. "He will be fine in a few moments, you'll see. The others are already beginning to wake."
It was true. The four inert bodies lying among the villagers suddenly began to stir and sit up, looking around them with smiles. At the same moment, Daniel began to move, his eyes blinking. At last, his eyes opened and he sat up, rubbing his head.
"Daniel? Are you okay?" Jack asked.
"Wow," he said, still rubbing his head, sounding very surprised. "Yeah, I'm…fine. What happened?"
"You fell over," Teal'c said calmly. "We were very concerned."
"Are you sure you're all right?" Carter asked, looking anxiously at her teammate.
"Yeah…I feel fine. A bit of a headache, though."
"That is simply a reaction from the elves' blessing," Alberich said, smiling kindly at all of them. "It will fade in time."
"Yeah, well, I'd feel better if we could get Frasier to look at him," Jack said. "Alberich, we're going to head home for a little bit, but don't worry, we'll be back."
"The elves say that it will be a few days before you return from the Stone Circle," Alberich said, nodding. "We will await your return, and we shall send a guide with you to lead you there in safety. We look forward to your return."
General Hammond was very surprised when SG-1 returned ahead of schedule. Usually, they didn't do that without a very good reason, and when he saw an inert Daniel Jackson flung over Teal'c's shoulder, he realized what that reason was.
"What happened?" he demanded, heading into the Gate room while Walter called for a medical team.
"Ah, we were taking part in some kind of ceremony to make nice with the local villagers, and the next thing we knew, Daniel was unconscious. He's been passing out and waking up since then, but whenever he's awake, he says he feels fine. Just a little headache," O'Neill reported. "Aside from four villagers, Daniel was the only one it happened to. Our guide said that his passing out and waking up was normal and that he'll be fine by morning, but I didn't want to risk it."
By this time, the med team had brought a stretcher and Daniel was loaded onto it and wheeled away towards the infirmary, shortly followed by the General and SG-1. While nurses examined the rest of them, Daniel was given a complete physical by Frasier and an MRI and EEG.
"What have you got for us, Doctor?" the general asked as Frasier completed her exam.
"Well, it's very odd. Nothing showed up in exams except for the EEG. It shows a high incidence of delta waves even when Doctor Jackson is awake. Delta waves are normally seen when the subject is deeply asleep or very young. Since Daniel's an adult, the latter isn't likely, and these readings aren't normal. I don't know why they're occurring, but I'm sure they have something to do with why he keeps passing out. Unconsciousness and consciousness are happening in cycles every twenty minutes, and that isn't natural."
"Ya think?" Jack asked, pacing. "How long till morning?"
It happened just as their guide had said. By the next morning, the passing out and waking up cycles had ended, and Daniel insisted he felt fine. Dr. Frasier had given him an all-clear, but Hammond said he would feel better if SG-1 stayed on the base for the next few days just in case.
Daniel was in his office working on a translation when his telephone rang.
"Dr. Jackson, would you step up to the debriefing room, please? There's a little problem we would like your help with," the general said, sounding thoroughly mystified.
"On my way," Daniel assured him, wondering what it could be. What was it that General Hammond couldn't have a few SFs bring down? Perhaps it was a person?
He reached the debriefing room and found the rest of the SG-1 team there, staring at two people who were standing next to the general. Several security detail were there as well, keeping their eyes on the pair.
"What can I do for you, General?" Daniel asked politely as he entered. Then, he stopped and turned a dead white as he saw who the two people were that were standing with the General.
"These two…individuals were found on Level 22, Dr. Jackson, and they claimed to be looking for you. Major Carter has identified them as your parents."
Still staring, Daniel nodded.
"As we've been telling you for the last twenty minutes," the elder Dr. Jackson said. "Now, could you call off the watch?"
Dr. Ballard-Jackson was looking at Daniel with concern. "Danny? Sweetheart, are you okay?"
Daniel shook his head, still very white. "I don't feel so good…"
That was all he had time to say, for in the next second he fell to the floor in a dead faint.