Author's note: This is the second and final chapter of the Christmas special. Enjoy!

SG-20

Christmas Special, Part II


The room was in chaos even before the Off-world Activation alarm went off. Samantha O'Neill and Jason both knelt by the suddenly-collapsed Christine. On the bright side, she only appeared to be asleep. On the not-so-bright side, there seemed to be no reason why a perfectly healthy twenty-five year old -who had been drinking nothing stronger than root beer- would suddenly collapse.

Then the alarm went off, and true chaos broke out as everyone rushed to assigned posts, or to check that their temporary replacements had everything under control.

Worried as he was about Christine, Jason found himself rushing to the control room- to find things were not as they should be. The Iris was open, and none of the personnel seemed to be moving to close it.

Jason rushed forward to plant his hand on the scanner and saw why everything was messed up. Three Dryads stood on the ramp- two females and a male.

One of the females looked up, and he felt the clouding calm enter his mind.

But this time, it seemed different. It was still strong, but he felt as though it was somehow- weakened. As though it was pitting itself against a greater power.

With a titanic effort, he wrenched his mind free. His hand came down on the scanner.

The great trinium leaves of the Iris slid closed not second too soon- something massive thudded against the barrier.

The three on the ramp collapsed instantly.


Daniel couldn't recall when he had seen the SGC this confused. By the time he had got to the control room, he was certain that something major had just happened- but what, he could not tell. Most of the control room personnel were unconscious, save for a young major from one of the newer SG teams.

"What happened?" Daniel asked.

"Dryad attack." was the response.

"Dryad? Are you".. He glanced at the mission patch on the man's uniform. SG-20. The first team to encounter the Dryad.

"Quite certain." Jason replied, endeavoring to wake General O'Neill. "It was strange, though. They seemed- weak. Almost like they were spending most of their power fighting off something-"

At that second, the general muttered something about an Al'kesh and rolled over, socking Jason in the teeth.


It was two hours later when the whole picture was pieced together, even as reports trickled in from other areas. The unconscious Dryads were relocated to the infirmary, where Dr. Lam discovered that their telepathic centers were apparently burned out- according to her, they would awake with permanent retrograde amnesia, a threat to no one and nothing.

A small Dryad spacecraft was discovered in orbit, apparently an unmanned drone. However, it, too, seemed to have burned itself out. It self-destructed before anyone could retrieve it.

Apparently, Daniel's incident was not isolated- at roughly the same time, many animals- some pets, some strays, some farm animals- had spoken. Some had warned of the Dryad attack. Some had complained about food or bedding. One isolated report indicated a cat demanding a gold-plated windowsill.

Christine joined them a while later, having suddenly and mysteriously recovered, with no clue why she had passed out. She entered the control room as Walter was relaying a report about a farmer in Kansas (Apparently, the farmer was wondering why his entire herd beef cows had demanded a lawyer).

"Wasn't there an old legend about animals talking on Christmas eve or something like that ?" O'Neill asked to no-one in particular.

Daniel suddenly sat up. "Of course! The tacen virtumentis!"

A handful of bewildered stares were directed Daniel's direction.

"It was an ancient device I read about a while ago." He continued "Until now, I figured it wasn't real. It was supposedly able to counter psychic abilities by dissipating them into nearby sub-sentient minds-"

"Which would explain them talking- I think." Christine noted.

"So, in plain words.." O'Neill asked.

"The Dryad must have somehow focused a tremendous amount of telepathic energy at Earth. The device re-directed it into the nearby animals, rather than allowing it to be focused on our minds."

"The problem was, it seemed to damage the minds of nearby sentients- especially those who were experiencing hostile emotion." Daniel added.

"So the ancients built in some sort of fail-safe so it only works when there's enough "Peace on Earth" to allow it to operate safely." Jason noted.


Author's Note: Well, what did you think of it?

Fellow Latin scholars will realize that invented my own word for "telepathy" - which may or may not be even close. I couldn't find my notes to double-check it.

Have a wonderful Christmas, and don't forget the true reason for the season- the birth of Christ.