Kevin Elliot opened his eyes, and found himself looking up at a blue sky from the bottom of a stone box. "I'm alive."
We are alive.
"Weren't we supposed to die?"
Yes. They had a sarcophagus.
Slowly, carefully, Elliot sat up. "Jesus!"
Bodies lay in heaps around the sarcophagus, most in Jaffa armor but one in the elaborate robes of a Goa'uld host. All were at the worst possible stage in the transition from flesh to skeleton. The smell was sickening. Elliot hastily lay down again, swallowing hard.
As you can see, it worked.
"That's good - I guess. Any idea how long we've been in this thing?"
Long enough for the poison to dissipate and the bodies reach this state decomposition. Two weeks to a month perhaps?
"I think, I'm going to hurl."
"Let's get out of here!"
I could not agree more.
Elliot looked at the DHD. "Uh, Lantash? The only address I know is for Earth and we can't go there. SG-1 took my GDO and we'd splat against the iris."
I am thinking. Most of the addresses I know are for fallen bases.... Ah.
Elliot watched his hand reach out and enter an address. "Serpens Caput; Sextans; Auriga; Hydra; Triangulum; Canis Minor - that would be somewhere in the opposite galactic arm wouldn't it?"
Very good, Lieutenant Elliot.
"I've always liked figures and codes," he answered as the 'kawoosh' came roaring out. And call me Kevin, we're going to be together to for a long, long time."
Longer than either of us anticipated. Kevin... I know how Tau'ri feel about joining -
Elliot shook his head. "Don't worry about it, pal. I'm really glad not to be alone."
Together they walked into the puddle.
There was the usual sensation of great and dizzying speed as they zoomed past galaxies of stars and through flashing auroras of light - to step out into a stone platform overlooking a park-like sweep of lawn. What looked like the local equivalent of picnickers and joggers stood in huddled groups at a safe distance. Over their heads and beyond a fringe of trees Elliot could see the tops of stepped buildings. He could hear the roar of distant traffic and smell the acrid odor of industrial emissions. "Just like home."
He jumped as sirens screamed and the crowd parted to let through buglike vehicles flashing with lights. Uniformed men poured out to form a ring around him, bristling with leveled weapon. "Yup, exactly like home." He raised his hands, groping for the right Goa'uldish words. Lantash supplied them:
"Hol mel! Tek'ma'tek." (Hold your fire! I come in peace.) The gun barrels didn't move but nobody pressed a trigger. "Mak Tauri, tek'ma'te." (I am a Tauri and a friend.) Nobody moved. "Uh, Lantash, I'm getting the distinct impression here that they don't understand a word I say."
However I believe the message we are unarmed and intend no threat is getting through.
"I sure hope so!"
Suddenly one of the men returned his small hand weapon to its holster. The other barrels dipped ground-ward and Elliot relaxed a little. The first man, presumably the one in command approached, slowly climbing the steps to look Elliot carefully in the face. He said something, slowly and clearly, the only word Elliot could understand was 'Tauri'.
He nodded emphatically. "Mak Tauri. That's me!"
The man was frowning, but it was an intent and thoughtful frown, not an angry one. He gestured for Elliot to follow him.
The bulbous bodies of the buggy vehicles held two pairs of seats, facing each other. Elliot sat opposite the commander under the eyes of two wary guards. 'Well, they know what a Tauri is anyway,' he said silently to Lantash.
Yes. Clearly they retain some memory of their origins.
Elliot essayed a smile, "I'm Kevin Elliot," he said putting a hand flat on his chest then pointed: "You are?"
The commander got the message. "Sargon Ulmesh, "
"Nice to meet you," Elliot said, leaning back in his seat he closed his eyes. "Take me to your leader."
Why do Tauri find that phrase so amusing? Lantash asked curiously.
Elliot grinned a little ruefully. 'It's hard to explain.'
The room was perfectly square, the upper third of its high walls paneled with reflective glass. Elliot sat at the table which was, with its two chairs, the only furniture. He chuckled softly. "So this is what it feels like to be on the other end."
Other end of what?
"Standard first contact procedures," he answered, pointed. "That's one way glass, just like the observation and interrogation room at SGC."
We are being watched?
"Count on it, pal. My guess is they're busy trying to dig up somebody like Dr. Jackson to establish communication." His stomach growled. "Hope it's soon, I'm starving."
Surely not, I believe we could go some little time more without food before being seriously affected. Lantash objected, sounding alarmed.
"Just an expression. Us tauri are given to exaggeration."
I see. Now he sounded bemused. Elliot grinned. The door opened and he stood.
A short, graying man with the widest, brightest eyes Elliot had ever seen outside of a kindergarten came in. He was wearing what looked uncannily like a warm, wooly sweater and carrying a large book which he put down on the table, then gestured for Elliot to sit before lowering himself into the second chair.
"Tek'ma'te," Elliot said politely. The little man made what was obviously an exclamation of surprise. "Kel tol?" (I beg your pardon?)
The other cleared his throat and answered in slow, careful Goa'uldish. "Forgive me, I didn't quite believe the military when they told me you were speaking the Oppressors' Tongue."
"Ah, 'Oppressors'," Elliot grimaced, "good name for them."
"We've found that most cultures we encounter either speak a derivation of Goa'uldish or retain it as a ritual language." Elliot finished aloud.
The old man opened his book. It consisted of thin sheets of something like plastic with curious signs impressed into rather than printed on them. He ran his finger down the rows of signs muttering to himself.
"Am I talking to fast?" Elliot asked, slowly and politely.
The little man looked up from his dictionary. "Your pronunciation is not - that is I am used to reading rather than speaking the language."
"I was saying that we've found Goa'uldish is pretty widely spoken."
"'We' being the Tauri?"
"That is correct."
"According to our most ancient traditions 'Tauri' is the First World, the Place of Origin."
"Right. We do seem to be the source of all the Human cultures scattered around this Galaxy." Elliot paused again as the linguist scrabbled frantically through his plastic tablets on their ring binding.
"You mean there are other inhabited worlds - many of them?" he demanded excitedly.
"Hundreds," said Elliot simply. The little man seemed stunned. " I'm Lieutenant Kevin Elliot of Stargate Command. What's your name?"
"Oh, I beg your pardon," he flushed in embarrassment. "I am Scholar-First Usser Ashptim."
"Nice to meet you," Elliot said politely.
"Forgive me, I'm confused, what is this 'Stargate Command'."
"That thing in your park is a stargate. Many worlds have one, including Tauri. Stargate Command sends teams through the gate to explore strange new worlds and seek out allies and technology we can use against the Goa'uld."
"Against?" Ashptim echoed. "You fight the Oppressors?"
"We don't have much choice," Elliot said matter of factly. "They're not going to forget Earth - sorry, I mean Tauri - again. It's them or us."
Ashptim looked shocked, not unlike an American scientist who'd just been informed the boogie-man really existed. "But... they're only a legend! Anyway it's been thousands of years since the flight from Babylon if it did happen."
"Good move," said Elliot. "Marduk was a nasty one. Don't worry, he's dead. But there are plenty of other System Lords who are very much alive." He leaned forward, urgently. "Look, there's a major war going on out there. I'm here now because of a battle our side lost. If your people don't want to get involved I understand - in fact I recommend it! All I ask is that you help me send a message through your gate so I can let my people know I'm alive. I go home, you bury your gate and you're out of it."
Probably, said Lantash.
'Odds are anyway,' Elliot answered silently.
The little linguist was looking dazed. "Information overload, huh?" Elliot said sympathetically. I know the feeling, believe me!"
"I...I must consult -" he snuck a glance upward at the glass.
Elliot nodded. "Of course," adding as the man rose, "uh, could I get something to eat? It's been a hell of a day."
Which is no exaggeration!