Neutral Ground

Chapter 3

O'Niell, T'ealc, Daniel, and Sam were led by Melasha, the First Prime of Ma'at, into an oppulant but comfortible sitting room. The go'ulds, Ma'at and Thoth were both sitting behind large wooden desks, which were set at such angles as to allow them to look at eachother and the room at the same time.A small space between the desks allowed Melasha to walk past and behind her gods after ordering SG-1 to sit in several comfortible chairs.

"No one expects the spanish inquisition." O'Niell muttered, earning odd looks from his Major and T'ealc. Daniel, recognizing the quote, chuckled.

"It is good that you are in high spirits." Ma'at smiled. "My husband was afraid you would feel fear, or at least wariness upon meeting us."

"They do, My beloved." Thoth leaned foreward, considering the Tau'ri in his chambers. "They simply choose not to show it, and this I understand. There is no reason for the Tau'ri to trust us. Am I right, Colnel Jack O'Neill?"

"About me not trusting you? Oh yeah." Jack didn't care if he hurt their feelings, and he'd be damned if he'd lie to this pair, anyway. "But you using our actual names is a nice change. But call me Jack, not Jonathon."

"Very well Colonel Jack O'Niell. In what way could we show you our sincerity in intending no harm to you or your people?"

"By telling us what you want."

Thoth nodded and glanced over to Ma'at, who stood and lifted the "Danny" box from behind her desk. "This contains a flirtatious library of languages I've never seen. It also contains an encyclopedia about your modern world, Earth as you now call it. You have a great deal we are interested in."

Jack looked at Daniel. "How much is on that thing?"

"A couple of CD-ROMS worth of encyclopedia's, some musical MP-3's I hope the RIAA haven't noticed, and the language databases we told you about. Oh, and windows XP Pro." At Jacks raised eyebrow Daniel muttered "What. We have to make our own operating system? I like windows."

Ma'at stepped back into the conversation, rather startled by having been somehow EXCLUDED from it. "What we desire is three fold. First, we would like access to cultural material from your world. Music, literature, and art. To achieve this is our second wish, wich is to invite you to trade here besides over a dozen other species and empires."

"Sounds...good actually." Daniel replied, interested in spite of himself. "Whats the third thing?"

"The last thing we do not expect immediately." Thoth spoke for his wife, who sat once more. "We are minor, but very wealthy and influential, system lords. We each control one system of our own and share this world with my other wife as our mutual capitol. Our strength is our alliances with other races. We offer, but do not expect yet, such an alliance with you, the Tau'ri."

Ma'at added "To our mutual benefit." With a wave of her hand six energy rings flared into sight and SG-1's gear, sans staff weapon and firearms but with Zats to O'Neills surprise, appeared behind them. "You have read, and may of course keep, the copies of Our Laws. The Zat-Nik-Tals are allowable, as are knives. When you are ready to begin negotiations for Market space my husbands First Prime will consider any other defensive weapons you may choose to carry."

"You mean we can go?"

"Yes, Colonel Jack O'Neill. If you return or not is up to you and your people."

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"This had better not be some kind of joke, Colonel." General Hammond said after listening to the bizzare story of his flag ship team.

"I'm not sure about that sir, but we aren't making this stuff up. Ma'at's First Girl, Marjorie or something..."

"Melasha, O'Neill." T'eacl corrected.

"Yeah, her... She even gave us a list of proscribed trade goods, in english! If it wasn't a snake head making the offer I'd be dancing in the damn gate room right now."

Hammond nodded and turned to Daniel. "Dr. Jackson, what can you tell us about this Thoth and Ma'at. Should we even entertain the thought of using this market?"

"Well, considering they are fanatical about honesty and Ma'at was actually the ancient egyption word for "Truth" it might be. I know the legends and myths."

"Go Ahead."

"Thoth was the god of Knowledge and Magic, and was one of two gods who sought the power to return life to Horus. Thoth, according to legend, was given the Knowledge of all things."

"Like one of those Ancients head-grabbers?" O'Neill asked.

"The myths don't meantion any... Head-grabbers actually. They did, however, help Isis resurect Horus. After that Thoth became the one who judged the deads worthiness in the afterlife."

"And Ma'at?" Samantha asked, leaning foreward.

"Actually, she was a scribe."

"Scribe? As in a historian?"

Daniel shrugged. "Actually, there was always a debate as to if she was an actual diety or just another, female, aspect of Thoth. She's the only woman ever carved in Heiloglyphs as writing, and was apparently as Knowledgable as Thoth."

"A Gou'ld Daniel and Carter. Nice." O'Niell wisecracked. "They don't sound so bad."

"Um... Actually... If Thoth found you lacking in death, Ma'at fed your soul to a monster."

Jack blinked twice. "Yep. They're Gou'ld all right."

"But they did nothing to threaten or coerce you?"

"Not really, unless you call making us watch a bunch of trials 'threatening'. Never get a parking ticket on that planet, by the way." The General gave his XO an inquiring look. "It's probobly like a years hard labor."

"Actually a month's community service." Major Carter chimed in. "I asked, okay." She said when everyone looked at her.

"either way, we'll contact the To'kra and Bretac... And if what you've told me is true the Asgard as well, and ask what they think on this matter." The General leaned back. "Its hard to imagine that after years of offering trade to all our allies, it's our ENEMIES who would be the first to jump on board.

AN: Yes, I know this took a long time. I hope you all are still going to read.

Now, before it's brought up, NO these aren't "GOOD" Gou'ld. However, they aren't the bad guys either. Like most gou'ld (And lets be honest, most Tok'ra aren't much better.) they are arrogant and desire power. What they figured out is they don't have to be crazied psychos to achieve this. Now I will admit, they have ONE edge on other Gou'ld (Heh...teaser) but they aren't good. They are more like the children of Mafia Don's who look around and figure out they can be just as successful on Wall Street as they would ever be in crime. If you think about it, the simple fact that the ASGARD have a vested intrest in them not getting kicked out of power should worry any other system lord heavily, in spite of their non-territorial interests. However, anyone wanna guess who controls the Inter-System trade throughout the Gou'ld empire?

Basically, they are like anyone else...looking to make a buck, build a power base, and AVOID making enemies they'd have to fight later to get them. Slow, but much safer.

The rep for feeding people to monsters and a tendancy towards the total annialation of their enemies in the past ALSO helps in Inter-Gould politics. Why poke the fire-ant hill when you don't have to, eh?