Characters

by

Lorraine Anderson

Ba'al stared at Kahn Noonien Singh, then glanced at at James Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy. He then looked to the skies. "You must be kidding," he rumbled.

"Isn't that what I said?" whispered Jack to Daniel. He turned to look at Ba'al from behind the boxes in the warehouse. "That's what I said."

"I wonder who he's talking to, if he thinks he's a god," muttered Daniel to himself.

'Spock' gave a raspy gasp and dropped to his knees. "Forgive us, Lord Ba'al." The other participants slowly dropped and groveled.

Ba'al looked at them, opened his mouth, closed his mouth, then stared at them.

"I think - he's dumbfounded," Daniel said, his eyebrows pulling together.

"Dumbfounded is good. I'd rather see 'dead', though."

"Where - how - how did you ever see 'Star Trek'?" Ba'al said, not keeping the surprise out of his voice. He circled the kneeling group. "I knew I was making a mistake," he muttered.

"Mistake?" Jack said.

Daniel shushed him.

"One of our scientists, Lord. He caught transmissions from another star. We were surprised they were human."

Ba'al sighed. "I never told you to listen for other people from other stars. Why did you get the idea?"

"I don't know, Lord, but their transmissions are very odd. They have people in space."

The man playing McCoy spoke up. "We thought you would be pleased, Lord, if we dressed like them."

"And then…" The original speaker stopped speaking.

O'Neill suddenly realized that Ba'al was missing a guard. "Sloppy, Jack, sloppy. I've been watching you too much, Daniel, " he muttered to himself.

"What?" Daniel said.

Jack looked behind them, then stood up. "Him," he said. "Hi! How are you?"

The Jaffa grimaced at him. Daniel rose slowly, looking grim.

"Not good, huh? Still suffering from that colitis?"

The Jaffa jerked his staff towards Ba'al. Ba'al was smiling ruefully. "I should have known."

Jack gave him his best wide-eyed stare. "I'm sure I don't know what you mean."

"Them. Cultural contamination. Tau'ri."

"And how do you know it's Tau'ri? How do you know it's not from a galaxy long, long ago and far, far away?"

"One of your philosophers said 'Know thine enemy.' I've been studying your world, and, in particular, your country's popular culture. You'd be amazed what one can find out about a culture."

"So you read Shakespeare? That's not modern culture," Daniel said.

"I've read Shakespeare, the Bible, the Koran, Buddha's teachings…"

"And nothing sank in?" Jack said.

"And I watched Star Trek…"

"'I Love Lucy?' 'F-Troop?' 'Hogan's Heroes'?" Jack said enthusiastically. He squinted. "Yeah, I see the resemblance between you and Chief Roaring Chicken."

"I saw those!" one of Ba'al's followers said enthusiastically.

"Zat him," Ba'al said casually. 'Captain Kirk' fell over.

"Sire? Should I kill him?" the Jaffa said.

"Not yet. I'm… a compassionate lord," Ba'al said. "I need to find out how widespread the contamination is on this planet."

Jack raised his eyebrows and pinched his nose. "I'd like to see this myself."

Ba'al turned to Jack and Daniel. "So where are your compatriots?"

Jack and Daniel remained silent. Jack hoped that Sam and Teal'c were better at hiding than they were.

Ba'al shrugged. "They'll show up. Bring them."

They exited the warehouse to a street. Ba'al stared at the Checker Cab that came to a Jaffa's whistle. "Jaffa… you and you ride with me and the Tau'ri. The rest of you follow us in another cab."

"So… how're you going to pay for this?" the cabbie said gruffly. Ba'al stared him down and gestured at a Jaffa. "I'm sorry, Lord, I do not expect you to pay. It's my part, you know?" He looked at the Jaffa. "I don't believe the staffs will fit in the cab with youse gentleman."

"'Youse gentlemen'?" Daniel said.

"Iotians, you know?"

"Iotians?" Daniel said. "I don't recall any planets named…"

"'Star Trek,'" Jack and Ba'al said simultaneously. They looked contemptuously at each other, then looked away.

"Oh," Daniel said. "I'm too young…"

"Oh, shut up," Ba'al said.

Daniel frowned and glanced at Jack.

"I don't have exclusive use of the line," Jack said.

They piled into the cab, the Jaffa looking fiercely at the driver, who glared back at them.

The cab took off with a jerk. Jack, Daniel, and Ba'al fell backwards, and the two Jaffa who were not seated yet landed on them. The cab sped through the streets as the five sorted each other out. "We liked the London cabs compared to the American."

Daniel looked puzzled. "I was… wondering about that."

Ba'al looked nonplused. "I haven't told you where to go."

"No, but I'm taking you, anyway." The two Jaffa raised their zatnikotels. The cabbie raised his hand. "Zat proof, bullet-proof glass. Highly reflective. So I wouldn't recommend either type of weapon if you prefer your own body parts."

Ba'al made a hand gesture. "Jaffa, kree." They settled down, looking fierce.

"So… where are you taking us?" Jack said.

"We've been waiting for you to come back. Your advance crew threw us off…"

"Us," Jack supplied helpfully to Ba'al. "We're not his advance crew," he said to the cabbie.

Ba'al rolled his eyes.

"But when you came through, we had ya," The cabbie said.

"Haven't been back in a while?" Jack said to Ba'al.

"It's only been forty years," Ba'al said, bemused. "When I left, the populace was just barely industrial. Naquada shipments were delivered up to a year ago. I had ministers, priests, temples, followers…"

"We done seen the light," the cabbie said. "Billy Graham made us believe in something else besides you. Nixon - brilliant leader."

"You're only up to Nixon…?"

"There's another president?"

Daniel looked out the windows. "Jack – look."

Jack looked, but all he saw was people. He looked at Daniel.

"Miniskirts. Hippies. Men in suits and ties. Women in house dresses."

"Gotcha." Nothing past 1970. "Drat. No 'Wormhole Extreme.'" He made a face. Any way to explain themselves? Well, maybe Hogan's Heroes, with the snakes as the Nazis?

Ba'al rolled his eyes. "'Extreme' not to your taste?"

"You actually watch that?"

"I like the guy that plays you. He reminds me of you. Ludicrous."

"Driver…" said Daniel "When are we going to get…?"

"We're almost there. Eager to be jailed?"

"No, I'm tired of the bon mots."

The cabbie looked faintly sympathetic. "Set 'em down to a good game of Fizzbin. That'll get all of their aggressions out."

Daniel's brows drew together. Ba'al and Jack looked at each other. Jack started laughing.

"What…?" The cabbie said. The cab rolled to a stop, and troops poured out of a different warehouse and surrounded the cab. Jack laughed even harder, and Ba'al smiled, then chuckled. Daniel's head dropped onto his chest.

"What?" The cabbie said. "Those phasers are set on kill."

"Yeah, but…" Jack laughed. "Those are red shirts."

"They're our security."

Ba'al sighed. "You have an army of Starfleet security."

"I'm telling you," Jack said. "You simply have to visit more often. At least you could inform them about the red shirts."

"My problems amuse you?"

"Oh, yeah," Jack sat back. "And admit it, you were laughing."

"Was not."

"Were, too."

"Stop it."

"Torturing the snake head who murdered me a bunch of times? Of course I'm not going to stop."

The cabbie sighed. "Will you guys get out of the car? And don't try anything funny."

"You… kinda have to open the door first."

The cabbie blushed. "Oh. Yeah." He got out of the car and opened the back door. The Jaffa exploded out of the back seat, knocked the man down, then ran towards the circle of men.

"Jaffa, kree!"

Five phaser shots hit each Jaffa. They disappeared.

Jack grimaced. "Never watched Star Trek, huh?"

"Don't make light of the situation." Ba'al looked at the spot where the Jaffa had died. "They had families."

"Like you care."

"I… have my favorites."

Jack made a face. "Which means… you care?"

Ba'al shrugged.

The cabbie had gotten up and peered into the car. "Get out of the car, huh?"

"Gladly," Daniel said, and he slowly got out of the car with his hands up. "I'll take a cell for one, please?"

The cabbie looked sympathetically at him.

#

They stared at each other from across the cell block. "Well," Daniel shrugged. "At least I got my wish. I guess I should have asked for earplugs."

"My Jaffa will come for me soon." Ba'al lounged back on his cot.

"And our Marines will come for us soon," Jack said. Daniel looked at him. Jack shrugged.

"Colonel? Daniel?"

"See?" Jack strained to look out of the cell. "Here she comes."

Sam walked around the corner, followed by security guards.

"Or not," Ba'al said.

"You, too?"

"You missed a check-in. General Hammond sent us to find you."

Teal'c and three more security guards rounded the corner.

"Bravo," Ba'al said lazily. "The team is together." He looked at his surroundings. "Perhaps now we can use a piece of toilet tissue and this wonderfully soft sheet," he picked at it distastefully, "to MacGyver ourselves out of here."

"Hey!" Jack said. "I liked that show."

"You would."

"Have they been at this all this time?" Sam said to Daniel.

"Unfortunately," Daniel replied.

"I had the opportunity to speak to one of the Langels," Sam said as she was locked into a cell. "In spite of their… obsessions, they seem like a reasonable people."

"Langels?" Daniel said.

"What they call themselves. Although there's a strong movement in their congress to call themselves Terrans."

"Which wouldn't be so wrong," Jack said. "They are human."

"So what we need to do is talk to them."

"Yeah, I think so. I think we need to convince them that we're the source of their entertainment." Sam shook her head as all of the men stared at them. "That didn't come out right."

"Which is fine for you," Ba'al said. "But they seem to have it in for me."

"Do I look like I care?" Jack said.

"They plan to take us out individually for questioning. Maybe one of us could convince them to consider the possibility that we're not with Ba'al."

"How? By producing Captain Kirk?"

Daniel considered the possibility. "William Shatner is alive."

Jack looked across at Daniel, his eyes wide. "Are you suggesting we produce an actor? Bring him across the Stargate?"

"Yeah, stupid idea." His eyes widened. "But we could show them some videos. Maybe that first movie."

"No."

"Not that one!"

Jack and Ba'al looked at each other, not believing they had agreed on something again.

#

"If we're to believe what you're saying, we want to see the actors."

Jack scratched the back of his head. "That could be a bit difficult." He looked at the man across the desk. Daniel had finally convinced the Langels of their sincerity, and Jack, being the oldest and feeling every one of his years, had answered interminable questions about fifties and sixties Television. He yawned. "Sorry."

"Why would it be difficult?" The president of the Langels sat back in his chair. The room looked remarkably like the Oval Room in the White House. The Langels, when they took up a notion, took it up wholeheartedly, Jack reflected.

Jack looked at Sam, who turned to the president. "We believe that what you've been seeing was transmitted through a naturally occurring wormhole originating approximately 35 light years away from Earth… Terra. Television waves are transmitted at the speed of light." She looked sympathetic. "What you've been seeing is thirty-five years old."

"Many of these guys are dead." The president looked disappointed.

"Not all," Sam said quickly. "Many are alive and acting."

"Can you bring them here?"

"That's… a problem," Jack said.

"But – are you saying that you can get William Shatner here?" At that moment, the man looked not much as a leader of the Langels but an elderly fan boy. "Or Robert Crane? Lucille Ball?"

"Theoretically, Shatner could visit, yes," Daniel said. "I'm afraid that Mr. Crane and Miss Ball have passed on."

Jack, with an effort, resisted the temptation to elaborate on Daniel's comment with various synonyms. Gave up the ghost. Kicked the bucket. Bowled their last strike. Met their maker. He almost missed the next comment.

"David McCallum? Robert Vaughn?"

Daniel looked around. "'Man from U.N.C.L.E.' Still alive," Sam said.

"I have to explain something." Jack said. "Look, you've seen our old shows. You've seen how the United States and Ru… the U.S.S.R. have had their differences."

The president nodded.

"It's not much better. Different decade, different players – the upshot is that our Stargate program is Top-Secret, and our president is not about to allow actors access to the Stargate." He sat back. "But we can bring you up-to-date TV shows. For example, Shatner did any number of Trek movies and he did a show called 'T.J. Hooker.;"

"'Boston Legal'," Teal'c said.

Jack looked at Teal'c. "You watch 'Boston Legal'?"

Teal'c inclined his head.

"And David McCallum does 'NCIS'," Sam said.

Jack ignored that. Navy, indeed.

"And we could take a couple of representatives to Terra," Daniel said.

"Whoa there, buckaroo!" Jack raised his eyebrows. "Don't you think we need permission for that one?"

"I demand to be taken," said the president.

"And I think your advisors would have something to say about that," Jack said. "Now see what you started, Daniel?"

Daniel looked as if he was already regretting his impulsive comment. With an apologetic glance at Jack, he looked the president in the eye. "I'm afraid Colonel O'Neill is right. We really don't wish to start any problems between…"

The president looked at them steadily. "I'll arrange everything on my end, if you can do it on your end." He looked at each of them in turn, and Jack reflected that even on this planet, a President was something to be respected.

"Perhaps we can arrange something."

"I believe the United States President is planning on a California visit," Teal'c said.

Jack's head swiveled. "How…?"

"I watched last night's news."

"Perfect," the President said. "He and I could arrange for a state visit."

"A secret state visit," Sam said.

"Of course. On your end."

Daniel looked as if he had bitten a snake. "But highly publicized on this end."

The president looked a little ashamed, but looked at each in turn again.

"We'll ask for permission." Jack hesitated. "I almost hate to ask, but what are you going to do with Ba'al?"

"Do you want him?"
"No. God, no." Jack said. "Let him rot."

The president smiled. "We'll do our best."

#

"My initial reaction," Hammond said, "was absolutely not."

"As was mine, sir," Jack mumbled.

"But I had to pass it along." He sighed. "It seems our president likes the idea."

Jack looked thunderstruck. "Why?"

"The chance to meet a man from another world."

"But… he looks just like everybody else. It's not like he's got three heads or anything."

"I know, I know. But you saw him when he met Teal'c. He could barely talk." Hammond shook his head. "And for a politician, that's saying a lot."

"Are… we going to meet William Shatner?"

"Apparently it's being arranged as we speak."

"And what are we telling Mr. Shatner?"

"That the Langel President is a minor official from Ireland who spent a lot of time in the States."

"Oh…" Jack dropped his head into his hands.

"And you'll be part of the bodyguards."

Jack raised his head. "Must we?"

"That's an order, Jack."

"Yes, sir." He brightened. "Well, Teal'c has always wanted to see Shatner. That should make the big guy's day."

"Which big guy?" Hammond smiled.

Jack looked at him, then smiled, too.

#

"Get down!" Jack barked, and both presidents dove to the floor of the empty warehouse. Shatner looked flabbergasted, then was pulled down by Daniel.

Jack pulled out his Zat gun and shot towards the men who were aiming at them from around the door. "A phaser?" Shatner yelled.

Daniel pulled Shatner's head down. "Top secret technology. No, not a laser."

"It is a Zat…" Teal'c stopped at a noise from Daniel "… gun."

"Cool."

Jack got a good shot at the sniper at the door, and he dropped. The other man started running. The Secret Service arrived at the door, and Jack dropped his gun. "Good protection service, guys," he yelled.

They winced. "They had the proper credentials," one mumbled.

"You still shouldn't have let…"

"Colonel," Sam said. "They could be rogue N.I.D."

Jack stopped in mid tirade. "In which case, they would have the proper credentials." He looked at the men at the door, then looked at the three civilians. "I trust, Mr. Shatner, that what happened here stays here? No talking."

Shatner looked rueful, then smiled. "Colonel, if I started talking about phasers and alien technology," he glanced at the Zat, and Jack hastily hid it, "they would either think I was talking 'Star Trek' or they would take me to the old actor's home."

"Cool."

Sam had helped the Langel president up. "Does that include aliens?" he said.

Shatner looked slowly up and down the Langel president, then looked at Teal'c's bare forehead. Teal'c quickly replaced his hat. Shatner gulped and nodded slowly. "Yes."

"Indeed," Teal'c said. "You are an honorable man."

"I'm complimented. I think."

The U.S. president brushed his suit off. "I must leave." He grasped the Langel president's hand. "It was an honor to meet you." He glanced at Shatner, then went on. "I hope our worlds may have an amicable relationship."

"Sir, you keep sending those TV shows, and we will."

"So long." He walked over to Shatner. "Your country is counting on you."

"Canada?" Shatner said impishly. "Sorry. I won't say a word, sir."

They shook hands, and the president left.

"God, I wish Nimoy had come," Shatner muttered.

#

"Thank God that's over," Jack muttered, his false smile dropping off his face as the Langel president disappeared through the Stargate.

Hammond toggled the intercom. "Colonel, I'm afraid I have some bad news."

Jack whirled. "He's coming back?"

"Ba'al escaped."

Jack wondered if his day could get any worse. "He's not here, is he?"

"No, he took a hostage and disappeared through the gate."

Jack struggled between anger or relief. "Sir, may I go to bed with a sick headache?"

"Permission granted." Hammond looked at the rest of the team. "Your whole team should stand down. They looked exhausted. Go home. Watch a little TV…"

They looked at him.

"Or not."