The problems started before they even properly entered the conference room. As soon as the girl had set foot in the room, something had set her off. She began talking rapidly while occasionally pointing at the floor. General Hammond turned to Daniel. "What's the problem?"
"I'm not sure. I think it has something to do with the floor. She doesn't like it."
Jack threw his hands into the air. "Doesn't like it? But it's newly carpeted! Do you know how long I've been waiting to get a carpeted conference room?" Daniel ignored him, instead conversing with the boy and girl in whatever language they used.
Daniel cleared his throat. "Right, so apparently the problem is she can't 'see' in this room."
"She can't see?" Jack asked, incredulous.
Daniel had another quick conversation, before turning back towards the group. "Yes, well, it appears she uses her feet to sense tremors in the earth, and carpeting interferes with that."
"So no carpet then?" Jack sighed. "Why is it whenever we get something cool we're never allowed to use it? Oh well, better than it getting blow up. I think the room down the hall still has tiles."
"Would you stop that?" Zuko hissed.
Toph tried to look as innocent as possible. "Stop what?"
"You know what, the thing, with the chair." Zuko hated these chairs. They were all flimsy and weird. With little wheels that made them move unexpectedly, and they would constantly lean forward and back whenever he shifted, what sort of fiendish mind would design these? Toph was only making it worse, having discovered her chair 'squeeked' when she shifted her weight, she was now endeavoring to drive him insane. "Look, you're annoying them, please stop it."
Speaking of "them" Zuko looked across the table. These people were bizarre. He had first thought they were Earth Kingdom, given the uniforms and underground base. But they worked metal like the Fire Nation and it seemed like most spoke some odd language. Looking at the five people in front of him, Zuko would have been hard pressed to place them. The yelling one was clearly Earth Kingdom; green pants and black shirt. The first bald man was wearing water tribe colors, but he looked Earth Kingdom and the clothes clearly weren't built for weather around the poles. Then there was the woman and the one who spoke to them, what was up with their hair? It was just wrong, he'd never seen anything like it, yellow hair (or a mix in the man's case). Maybe it was Air Nomad? Aang was always bald, and maybe this was why. Who wouldn't want to hide such a ridiculous hair color? But they were all dead so that didn't make sense. Then there was the final man, the silent one. His skin was darker than anything Zuko had seen, and his build didn't exactly match anything Zuko has seen either. His head was shaven like an Air Nomad, but there were no tattoos. Then there was that medallion…
The man in the glasses cleared his throat. "We both have questions-"
"Yes, who are you people?" Zuko exploded.
The man stopped, taken aback by the outburst. "I supposed that's a good place to start. I am Sage Daniel Jackson. This is Major Samantha Carter, Colonel jack O'neill, Teal'c and this is General George Hammond. We are part of the United Nati-No that's isn't right, United Kingdoms, no ….." The man stopped, thinking. Finally he seemed to make up his mind. "We are part of the United Countries Air Force, in charge of the Stargate program. You name?"
"Prince Zuko, of the Fire Nation."
"Toph Bei Fong ." After an afterthought, she added "of the Earth Kingdom."
The sage conveyed this to the others, who started talking among themselves. Toph tugged Zuko's arm, "Did any of that make any sense to you?"
"No-" Zuko stopped in midsentence, as inspiration struck. "Wait… I think it did. He said they were United Countries right? What if their some sort of united organization of the various countries? That would explain why they have Earth Kingdom bases, Fire Nation tech, and a Water Tribe commander. It works out perfectly. Given they said Air Force, maybe they have some connection with the Air Nomads!"
Toph turned her head to the side. "But why can only he understand us. And what's with their surprise at bending?"
Zuko deflated. "Oh, right. Well, you come up with an answer then!" Before an argument could break out, they were both distracted by the yelling man…. Chaque? Breaking into laughter.
"Why's he laughing?" Zuko demanded.
Daniel licked his lips. "Nothing, it not really important-"
"You're lying!" Toph sprang to her feet, pointing at him.
The laughter died down as Daniel talked rapidly with the others, before turning back. "…. He, …. finds your countries funny."
"What's so funny about them?" Toph asked angrily.
"Well…. Is difficult to explain. The "earth" and "fire" as the beginning of the names, and Jack finds that funny."
"Why? Does he find the Water Tribes and Air Nomad's funny as well?" Zuko asked.
Daniel turned back to his companions, and they rapidly broke into argument.
"They have got to be making that up." Jack insisted.
"I am in agreement with Colonel O'neill , it seems extremely unlikely that these names would be realistic names for a nation to choose."
"They seemed pretty sincere to me. And they're only kids," Daniel offered.
"Don't let that fool you. You've never been a teacher, have you?"
"Well, no. But I don't see how that matters, neither have you."
Jack smiled. "Yeah, but I wasn't a teacher's pet in school either."
General Hammond spoke up. "Dr. Jackson, can you think of any reason they would have lie to us?"
"What about artificial naming?" Carter offered.
Jack turned to her. "What?"
"Sir, I agree it's unlikely that these names would have evolved naturally, but what about unnaturally? Sort of like North and South Korea, or East and West Germany."
"System Lords have been known to choose names for place based on personal whims, it is possible that the Lord who took them chose to separate them by names based on elemental themes. Though it would not explain why the second part of the name is divergent." Teal'c acknowledged.
The people of the… United Countries had finally finished arguing, and the sage once again turned back to them. "So could you talk on 'bending' more?"
Zuko blinked. "I don't know. Why don't you tell us? Why don't you know about bending? Why do you have metalworking and are yet live underground? Why do you talk so strange? And why is your hair so weird?"
Daniel blinked, running a hand through his hair. "Weird?"
"They've got funny looking hair?" Toph asked.
"Yeah, he and, Major…" Zuko hesitated.
"Carter," Daniel supplied.
"Yes, both of you, your hair is all yellow and freaky. Are you Air Nomads?"
"Do they have yellow hair?" Daniel asked.
"I don't know! I never saw Aang with hair."
"Don't worry Sparky, I got you covered. Aang grew his hair out when we infiltrated the Fire Nation."
"Really, so was it-" Zuko frowned at the smirking Toph. "When are you going to stop doing that?"
"When it stops working."
Daniel cleared his throat, and the two turned their attention back to him. "Truth. We do not come from your world."
"So you're spirits?"
Daniel shook his head. "No, just another type of people. We use an artifact known as the 'stargate' to travel to worlds."
"So it's some sort of spirit artifact?"
"No, it is a technology."
"Technology can't do th-" Zuko started, then he realized that five years ago he would have been prepared to say technology couldn't make people fly either.
"The technology is incredibly advanced, left by a race known as the…" The Sage struggled for a moment, "ancestors."
Toph leaned over and whispered to him. "'Ancestors', huh? Shame we don't have Aang here, maybe one of his past lives could explain all this." Zuko nodded in agreement.
"So, um, going back to earlier question. What is bending?"
Zuko struggled for an answer. "Bending is bending. I control fire with firebending, Toph controls earth with earthbending."
"So there are different types of bending?"
"Yeah. Fire, Earth, Air and Water."
"Right." Daniel paused for a moment. "Would the bending type be same as Nation?"
"Firebenders from the Fire Nation. Earthbenders from the Earth Nation?" Zuko nodded. Daniel turned back to his companions.
Toph turned to him. "So there aren't any benders here?"
"I guess not"
"This place is even weirder than Ba Sing Se."
"So can they summon Captain Planet?"
"I believe that would require the additional power of heart, Colonel O'neill." The rest of SG-1, (and General Hammond) stared at Teal'c. "I have been attempting to familiarize myself with earth culture. Sergeant Greene recommended the series to me as an excellent example of animation."
"Greene always was a smartass…" O'neal mumbled.
"So they can manipulate the four ancient elements? What about the metal the girl made into armor?" Carter interjected.
Daniel translated the question. Toph responded with an enthusiastic strings of words, punctuated by raising her fist in the air. "She claims it a form of the art, and that she can do it because she is 'The Superior Master of the Devine Power of World." Though I'm not sure if that conveys the proper sentiment."
"No, I think the first pumping did that."
"Major, Doctor. Do either of you have any explanation for this?"
Carter nodded. "It must be some sort of technology, like the Nox."
"But they don't seem very advanced. And unlike the Nox I don't think they're hiding it." Daniel countered.
"Neither were the Cimmeri's, maybe these people were visited by another advanced race? Ask them if they need any items to work this power."
"That theory it unlikely to be true, they were searched thoroughly when they were admitted to medical."
Carter narrowed her eyes at Teal'c. "Just ask them."
Daniel asked the question. "The boy says he can use swords with fire, but given what we saw…."
The General shook his head "They clearly aren't necessary. Any other theories Major?"
"Nanonities in the blood, some sort of innate technology that's within their body," she offered.
"Hold on one second." Daniel spoke to teenagers again. "Um, I just realized something, earlier the girl had mentioned not having any people with the power here. Which implied that they were confused that none of could do it, rather than being confused that any of us couldn't. I just checked with them to confirm. Apparently not everyone on the planet is capable of using it."
"Really! Ask what makes them capable of it! Why they can use it and other people can't."
Daniel nodded, and once again translated. The two were silent for a moment. Finally the boy spoke reluctantly. After he finished the girl enthusiastically added her own remarks. "He says it was because he was touched by the spirits, but he doesn't sound very confident."
"What about Tough?"
O'Neill rolled his eyes. "She's tough as far as I'm concerned."
"Well, roughly translated, she claims she has if because she's, 'just that awesome'."
Carter spoke up again. "Ask him if being 'touched by the spirits' means anything?"
"Like… I don't know, seeing the spirit. Or disappearing from the cribs. Or having to touch some sort of artifact at a temple, anything unusual that doesn't happen to other people."
Daniel spoke the question, the shaking heads not even requiring him to translate, he did so anyway. "They say no."
"Where does that leave us?" demanded Hammond.
"I don't know sir…. Maybe some sort of… gene? What about their parents, siblings do they bend?"
As Daniel translated the question the boy seemed to hesitate, answering only reluctantly, the girl just gave a simple shake of the head.
"Zuko says that all members of the royal family are benders, but Toph says neither of her parents were."
Jack rolled his eyes. "There goes that theory."
"Not necessarily sir. I mean I'm no geneticist, but if it's controlled by a recessive gene that would explain both of those. The royal family could insure that all its members were firebenders by only allowing only Firebenders to marry in. Maybe we could get some blood samples-"
Jack coughed. "I don't think it's a good idea to ask our new friends for their blood right now. Just in my professional opinion."
Hammond nodded. "Agreed Colonel. Though we might want to check if Dr. Frasier took any when they were under her care. What I want to know is the political situation down there. They were talking about an Avatar?"
"Yes, sir. They asked if we were with the Avatar."
"Find out more about this Avatar. I'd like to know who, or what, it is, and what they stand for."
Zuko blinked, unable to even begin to compose a response. Luckily Toph did it for him. "How can you not know about the Avatar? You just talked about him!"
Daniel blinked. "What?"
"You just talked about him. I can't make out half the goobly gook you are saying, but I heard you say 'Avatar'. You pronounced it funny, but I heard you say it."
"That's because our language took the word from yours."
"But I thought you came across the stars."
"Your ancestors came from our planet. "
"They what?" Zuko shook his head. This was just unbelievable. "Look I don't really care about that, if you have word, you have to know what it means, right? You have to have an Avatar."
"There are such things as Avatars-"
"Avatar, Avatars, same thing. The point is you have them, right? So shouldn't you know what they do?" Toph pointed an accusatory figure.
Jackson hesitated. "For us an avatar is considered the mortal form of a spirit, sent to do various tasks." Zuko and Toph nodded. "So can you tell me what tasks this "Avatar" does, why some people are against him?"
"Well… he's the keeper of balance. The Fire Nation is trying to conquer the world and are going to destroy it. He has to stop them."
"Wait, WHAT!?" Toph shouted.
"So he's keeping the balance between nations?"
"Yes, and between the spirit world and ours, though I don't know as much about that."
Toph grabbed Zuko's sleeve and began tugging it. "Hold on, go back. What's this about the Fire Nation destroying the world?"
"I'll tell you later," he said as he pulled her hands of him.
"So is there anything else unique about the Avatar?" Daniel pressed.
"Well, he can bend all four elements," Zuko offered.
"And he can go to the Spirit World. Though really that's kind of boring. All he does is sit around perfectly still." Toph added.
Daniel began talking with the rest of the others. "Only the Avatar can bend more than one element?"
Zuko nodded. "Yeah, that's what makes him special…. Well, that and the Avatar State."
"The… Avatar State?"
"Yeah. In it he accesses all the knowledge of previous Avatars. His eyes glow and he gains incredible skill in power. In it he's nearly unstoppable."
"Don't forget the deep creepy voice he gets." Toph added.
That set him off. Daniel began translating to the others, who rapidly began talking in their babbling tongue. "What is going on?" Zuko asked, but found himself completely ignored, whatever it was, he didn't like it.
"A Goa'uld? They're under the leadership of a Goa'uld? Just great." Jack threw his hands in the air.
Daniel rubbed his eyes. "I should have seen this coming, Avatar's are considered to be mortal forms of a god…"
"So what do we do now?" Carter asked.
"I see no reason we could not enlighten them to the true nature of the Goa'uld, as we have done with others deceived ."
"Oh yeah let's tell the living flame thrower and earthquake maker that their god is evil and everything they've ever know is a lie. They're teenagers, they love the whole rebellion stick. " O'Neil turned to Hammond. "Sir I've got a zat gun under the table, I can shut both of them out now."
"Because firing on them is such a good way to gain trust."
"Daniel, I love your little way of looking at the universe, but I also really, really love not getting crushed. We can explain to them after we have them restrained."
Carter saluted. "With all do respect, how is that going to do any good sir?"
"I was watching them before, they needed to move to do their little voodoo."
"Are you sure of that?"
"Sure I'm sure, I mean I'm a magic expert. Look it's safer than doing it here, where one little foot stomp could bring down the entire mountain."
"And for all you know they could still do it when restrained, and they'd have no reason to trust us."
"Dr., Colonel. I've listened to both you arguments." General Hammond's voice rose above the noise. "I'm willing to let Dr. Jackson continue for now, but, Colonel I want you to keep your zat handy if they make any hostile movements-"
"I'm ready sir."
"I don't like this. Something has them tense." Toph whispered to Zuko.
"Maybe they're against the Avatar?" Zuko hissed back.
"But they didn't even know anything about him."
"Well something set them off. Maybe because they don't have bending their Avatar is different. Maybe they were checking if it was the same thing. We need to get out of here."
Zuko was silent for a moment, blinking incredulously. "Maybe using the greatest earthbender ever?"
"No you idiot, they said we were on another world. How do we get out from it?"
"We just have to get to that gate again."
"Do you know how it works?"
"AHEM." Sage Jackson leaned forward, whatever argument they were having was obviously over. "You personally serve the Avatar?"
"I'm his firebending teacher, and Toph is his earthbending teacher."
"He needs teachers?"
Toph shrugged. "Well, yeah. Even the Avatar doesn't know everything."
"Then the Avatar… did he recently arrive?"
"Sort of… I mean he was here, but frozen in the ice for a hundred years."
"Frozen?" Daniel's voice was disbelieving.
"Yeah. I saw his return, there was this giant pillar of light…."
Daniel nodded. "So your father had you serve him?"
"What? No! Why would you think that?"
"Well I assumed as a prince he would have you-"
"My father's the one trying to stop the Avatar. He sent me to capture the Avatar."
"And you didn't?"
"Well… at first I tried, I thought I could regain my honor. Then after my sister tried to kill me I thought about it some more, but I still ended up helping her kill him, though I didn't really realize I she would kill him at the time." Zuko rubbed the back of his head.
Daniel interrupted him before he could continue. "After he died, he went in a box, correct?"
"What?" Zuko asked.
"He went into a box which brought him back to life, right?"
"I don't think so…" Zuko looked questioningly at Toph.
"Nope, I was there the whole time, it was the spirit water from the Oasis that brought him back." Toph confirmed.
"So how does he live so long?"
"He's a spirit, correct? Immortal."
"Well, yeah, but he's reincarnated, after each avatar dies a new one is born"
The sage didn't elaborate further, so Zuko decided to continue his story. "Anyways, after I came back I realized what I thought made me happy and honorable didn't really, so I choose to help the Avatar instead."
"I just went for the adventure." Toph added.
"Yeah, my parents were treating me like a helpless doll, and the Avatar needed an earthbending trainer, so I figured I'd never get another chance."
"I…. see." Daniel began talking with his compatriots again.
Toph leaned over to Zuko. "I don't think that went very well."
"Neither do I."
"Now can I shoot them?"
Hammond began to nod. "Colonel I'm inclined you agree with you-"
"No." Teal'c stated. "Tell them of the false gods."
"Teal'c I'm not really sure that's a good idea. I mean, both seem pretty fanatically devoted, abandoning their own parents-"
"TELL THEM!" Teal'c roared.
Jack shot Daniel a nasty look, who had the grace to be embarrassed. "Rya'c… right" he muttered under his breath. He looked over to General Hammond, who nodded.
"What was that about?" Zuko demanded. The oddly dark man with the medallion on his forehead had suddenly yelled at the top of his lungs. The only reason Zuko hadn't decided to send out fire then and there was that he was doing it at his own companions and not at them.
"He wishes me to tell you…" The sage hesitated… "The Avatar is a false spirit."
"A false spirit?" Zuko was thunderstruck. He'd been expecting some sort of anti-Avatar propaganda, but not something so… stupid. Not even the most overt of the Fire Nation propaganda attempted to claim Aang wasn't real. "I mean he's not exactly like the other spirits, but how can you claim that? I mean… he's the Avatar."
"The Avatar is a member of a species know as the Goaul'd. They pretend to be spirits in order for people to obey them."
Toph threw her hands up in the air "Are you nuts? Aang's human, not some gold… thingy."
"Goaul'd. The Goaul'd are actually snakelike, they infest human host bodies. Normally they use a technology known as a "death box" in order to keep the body alive, but yours appears to switch bodies instead, hence the reincarnation. I know this is hard to accept, but it is true. The Avatar is pretending to be a spirit in order to rule over your people."
"Are you insane? Aang doesn't rule over anything." Toph said.
"He… doesn't?" Daniel sounded off balance.
"No, he just has to keep balance."
Zuko nodded. "Yeah, he didn't even want to be the Avatar. He wasn't even willing to reveal his true identity until I threatened the Water Tribe Village."
Toph turned towards him. "You threatened Katara and Sokka's village to get at Aang?" Zuko nodded as his eyes look to the ground. "Wow Sokka was right, you were an angry jerk. Anyways, Aang isn't some creepy snake, he's my friend." Toph declared. She then turned to zuko and whispered. "What exactly is a snake, is it like a bear?"
The sage blinked. "I'm sorry, did you just say, 'friend'?" The two benders nodded. Daniel leaned back, and began speaking to the others, after a brief discussion, he leaned forward again. "I think I may have mistranslated that last sentence. By friend you mean someone who is treated as an equal, in a positive manner?"
"Um… Yeah? Zuko and Toph found themselves ignored once again.
Daniel leaned back. "This is odd."
"What is it, Daniel Jackson?"
"Well, they just called the Avatar their 'friend'."
"They think of the snake as a friend?" Jack let out a groan. "This is just great."
"Well, it's more than that. Can you think of any Goaul'd who would let normal humans consider them to be friends?"
Teal'c nodded. "Most Goaul'd would find the familiarity and equality implicit to be a grave insult. Perhaps you have mistranslated."
Daniel spoke to the two once again. "No I'm pretty sure I got it right. And this Goaul'd doesn't seem to use a sarcophagus either."
"Maybe we're dealing with a Tok'ra then?" Carter asked.
Daniel nodded. "That what I was thinking. The prince mentioned that the Avatar wasn't like other gods, maybe we're witnessing some sort of conflict between a group of system lords and the Tok'ra? Given the powers of these people, there would be a good reason to want this planet. I mean I can't be sure but I think-"
"That this merits further investigation." Hammond finished. "I agree with Dr. Jackson. Sg-1 will accompany the natives back to P1V-171 Meanwhile I need see if we can find a way to contact the Tok'ra. Hopefully, if it is them they'll realize it was us and are already on their way."
The discussion had died down. Evidently they had reached some sort of agreement. The sage leaned forward. "We… may have been wrong about the Avatar."
Even with clouded over eyes, Toph still did a good impression of rolling them. "No, really?"
"Yes, anyways we'd like to go back to your world and meet this Avatar. Is that acceptable?"
"SURE!" Toph shouted over Zuko.
Zuko leaned in, whispering as softly as he could. "Are you insane? They just said Aang was some… snake, for all we know they could decide he really is and try to kill him."
"Yeah, but do you know how to get back? Once we get to the other side of the gate we can ditch them and find Aang."
At first their reaction was unsurprising. As the Stargate began to power up the two children began looking around the gateroom, trying to take in every noise and sound. Both jumped back when the gate opened. In other words, the exact same reaction of any low tech society SG-1 had encountered. It was only after that that things began to get a little…. Weird.
"What are they arguing about?"
"Well it's a little too fast for me to follow. But I think the boy is saying he won't go in the water, he'll drown, and the girl is saying there is nothing there."
"And the word she keeps repeating?"
"I'm not sure, but it sort of sounds like the word for 'chicken'." Eventually the two broke off when the girl marched up to the gate and thrust her hand in. A second later she pulled it out, babbling at the top of her lungs. After a few seconds she stopped, the cautiously put her hand in, and pulled it out, put it in and pulled it out. The boy eventually followed up the walkway, poking the wormhole.
Finally Jack rolled his eyes. "Come on, we don't have all day. IT'S SAFE see? Safe."
"They can't understand you."
Jack rolled his eye and walked into the gate. That set of another round of astonishment and yelling. The boy jumped over the railing and began looking to the other side. He gave a yelp of surprise, which prompted the girl to yell back at him, which prompted him to yell at her and soon the two had fallen into another round of yelling.
Finally Daniel had had enough. He shouted something in their language. The two stopped yelling but still continued to rapidly argue as both walked in front of the gate.
"Alright then, well go together? Okay?"
"Alright." Zuko nodded. "On three. One. Tw- AHHHH" Zuko yelled as he found himself pushed forward as the metal under his feet decided to uproot itself and send him flying forward.
Toph giggled. "Sorry, I couldn't resist." Before taking a deep breath and running forward.
Notes: Obviously Daniel had some difficulty with translation, hence his translating of "spirit" as "god". Also when Zuko said all members of the royal family were firebenders, he may have only been referring to members "by blood" (ie those descended from the royal line) or may have been referring to any members, Carter's simply assuming he meant the second.
Note that while this was done with permission, this is not any sort of "official" sequel merely my own take. Also "Avatar" is a loanword from India, similar to "taco" or "sombrero" hence why Toph/Zuko were able to understand that one word. I totally admit that Toph's line "gold- thingy" makes no sense, as the Chinese word for gold would sound like goaul'd.