Title: Genie of the MALP
Category: Gen, A/A, Drama, Humor
Spoilers: Vague spoilers through S7; mentions of Entity and New Ground
Summary: When SG-1 are mistaken as genii, they must rely on magic and trickery to make it back alive.
Word Count: 8201
For Abyssinia who wanted: Who wants: 1) Some form of whumping of at least one character; 2) an element of mythology the show hasn't dealt with (story, archetype,
god, monster, etc.); 3) the team learns something new about one of its members.
Disclaimer: Stargate, Stargate SG-1 and all of its characters, titles, names, and back-story are the property of MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Productions, SciFi Channel, and Showtime/Viacom. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be printed anywhere without the sole permission of the author. Realize this is for entertainment purposes only; no financial gain or profit has been gained from this fiction. This story is not meant to be an infringement on the rights of the above-mentioned establishments
"This is different."
Jack surveyed the immediate area around the Gate. A sea of gray surrounded them – gray moss, gray water, gray mud. Even the reeds that clung to the water's edge were coated with grayish-green algae. The land gave a whole new meaning to the word drab.
"It's a swamp," Carter said.
Jack sighed. "Thank you, Carter. I hadn't guessed."
Daniel had already made it down the steps. With a hop, he jumped from one clump of land to the next, narrowly avoiding a rather wet disaster. Jack didn't want to think what could be swimming beneath the murky waters.
"Okay, let's make this quick," he said, leaping after Daniel and Carter. He encouraged Teal'c to follow with the wave of his hand. "I want to be home in time for the game."
He heard Carter snicker and thought he heard some snide comment from Daniel, but he couldn't be sure. The swamp had the worst gas he'd ever heard and the hissing of whatever lived in the trees was loud enough to drown out the sound of the MALP.
Speaking of which…
"Has anyone even seen the MALP?" Jack shielded his sunglasses from the glare of the sun to scout the area. All he saw were reeds, reeds and more reeds.
They had better not have lost the damn thing. While losing some equipment here and there was to be expected, the number of MALPs SG-1 had lost over the course of their career was enough to get Hammond antsy, and an antsy Hammond was the last thing Jack wanted. Plus, every time they lost visual or audio feed with the vehicles, it inevitably meant a retrieval, which was more boring than one of Daniel and Carter's science adventures.
"It couldn't have moved far," Carter said. She lifted up one of their updated tracking devices. "The viscosity of the mud would prevent the MALP from attaining good traction."
"Lucky us." Jack lifted his boot and watched the mud separate into long, gooey strings, not unlike chewed and discarded bubblegum. He shook his leg once, twice, three times before he finally gave up.
"You know, these look like papyrus reeds."
Jack glanced up from his boots to find Daniel wandering off toward a thicket of reeds. They had clumped together near the bank of the muddy lake, growing wild and unhindered under the sun, while depleting most of the water in the area. Jack signaled for Carter and Teal'c to head toward drier land.
"I wonder if the plant is native to Earth, or if it was brought through the Stargate," Daniel said as he stopped to finger the papyrus.
Jack paused beside Daniel. "And this helps us find the MALP, how?"
Daniel frowned. "Point."
Jack glared at him, but refocused on Carter when he heard her mutter something unintelligible. "Carter?"
"I'm picking up something, sir." She pointed ahead. "This way."
The four of them charged through the underbrush. The swamp thinned out; the majority of the wetland surrounded the Gate. Still, the papyrus reeds grew in thick clumps that made movement difficult. Jack slashed at a particular dense thicket before stopping to survey the area.
"There's no way the MALP got out here on its own," he muttered. "Stay alert."
They spent the next few minutes alternating between chopping down pockets of dense vegetation, and avoiding the annoying tangles of vines and low lying brush at their feet. Teal'c seemed to be the most annoyed by the area, scowling the entire time as he stomped down on shrubbery.
"You've been quiet," Jack said.
"I do not like this place," he said, frowning as he plucked a snake off his shoulder. "I believe you are correct. The MALP would not be capable of traveling into this environment."
"Yeah. This place is giving me the creeps."
Jack couldn't help but recall the incident when the electrical entity used the MALP to hijack the SGC and Carter. Then there was the trouble they met on Bedrosia. Or any of the other times they'd run into trouble when something or someone got a hold of their technology. He didn't want a repeat of any of those occasions. Ever.
"Should we not return to SGC and inform General Hammond of your misgivings?"
"Washington is all over Hammond right now." Jack shook his head. "Let's just find the damn thing and –"
"Jack! Found it!"
Jack turned to his left and raised his weapon. With a sigh, he lowered the gun. Daniel had found the MALP. Or what was left of it.
From what Jack could see, only the arm was visible. It jutted out of one of the thickets, the body of the MALP completely obscured by the tall reeds.
Daniel started marching through the reeds and brush to get to the MALP. Carter pocketed her tracking device and started after him, Jack and Teal'c bringing up the rear. Jack started to mull over just how they were going to move the MALP when he heard a crash ahead.
Daniel had vanished.
"Daniel!" Carter yelled.
Jack sprinted toward the area Daniel had last been. Carter reached it first and she gasped, jumping back and nearly smacking into Jack in the process.
"Sir, watch out!"
Jack knew what she found. He slowed and reached the edge of the hole, instructing Teal'c to keep an eye out for any movement in the bushes. Jack withdrew his knife and started chopping at the reeds in order to get a clearer view.
"Daniel?" He hacked at another patch of weeds. "Daniel?"
"I'm okay. The mattress broke my fall."
Jack pulled back and frowned. "Mattress?"
He exchanged a confused look with Carter, who could only shrug. Curious, Jack peered inside the deep hole. He blinked. Daniel was seated on something large and puffy. The darkness of the opening prevented him from making a full assessment of the hole, but at least Daniel seemed to be in one piece.
And there sat the MALP, not far from the hole, mocking them in all of its glory.
Jack scowled at it and waved at Carter to break out the rope they always kept handy. She started to unwind it and toss part of the length down to the hole. Jack fumbled for his flashlight to give them some illumination.
He heard the click of Tealc's staff weapon.
Jack spun around and raised his P-90. In the distance stood a middle-aged man with dark hair. He said nothing but smiled at them, his shiny dark eyes filled with anticipation. Jack didn't miss the small device in his outstretched hand.
"Drop it," Jack said. He nudged the air with his gun. "Now."
The man kept grinning. "I knew you would come."
"I knew you would come for it. You need it."
Jack eyed the MALP out of the corner of his eye. "So, we'll just take it and be on our way."
"No. No, I can't. I've waited too long."
"So, drop the weapon, and we'll talk about it."
The man laughed. "This?" He raised the device causing Jack and Teal'c immediately to tense. "This is no weapon. But it will allow me to better interact with you."
Jack frowned. He had no idea what game this guy was playing, but he wasn't in the mood. "Look, pal," Jack said as he stepped forward. "Just put it down and we'll—"
A blinding light flooded Jack's entire field of vision. He cried out, the pain thundering through his skull, down his back, and through his bones. His energy spent, he fell to the ground and collapsed into a sea of white noise.
Whatever the device was, it seemed to do its worst through visual stimulation, not unlike a flash grenade. Luckily for Daniel, since he was in the hole, he hadn't been exposed to the light to the same degree as Sam, Jack, and Teal'c. Unluckily for the rest of the team, they were now unconscious.
That left Daniel to deal with their captor.
He craned his neck for a better glimpse at the local man. From where he was chained, Daniel could see the man working over a variety of gizmos that he'd laid out over a wooden table. None of the devices looked familiar. Then again, Daniel's back was to the man. The strain of twisting his body to see along with minor exposure to the light was making him dizzy.
Daniel turned around and stared at the wall to refocus his eyesight. He'd gained consciousness half way through the trip back, and after a brief period of disorientation, he'd tried to reason with the man. To his dismay, the stranger ignored him as if he didn't exist, and continued to cart their shackled bodies out of the swamp and into a thinning forest.
When Daniel felt his sense of balance returning, he glanced down at his wrists, which had been bound in front of him. The restraints were obviously magnetic, connected both to each other and the metal slab that the local conveniently kept in his home.
Daniel figured he was a blacksmith.
Once again, Daniel tilted his head and tried to make eye contact with the man. "You can't just keep us here."
"I can do whatever I want," the man said, grabbing one of his tabletop items. He grinned, holding it up like a new prize. "I could not have asked for more."
"This has to be a misunderstanding." Daniel shifted his body for a better view, careful not to step on Sam, who had been bound on the floor. "We came through the Stargate. We're explorers."
The man huffed. "I know what you really are."
Okay, so his tried and true spiel wasn't going to work this time. He'd have to try the other tactic.
"We have powerful friends. Once they find we're missing –"
"Your kind does not care for one another. You tell nothing but lies. But I will change that."
"We are your kind," Daniel stressed. "Look at us."
He glanced over to his friends, hoping the man would follow his plea.
Jack, who had his arms raised and bound over his head from where he stood, remained unconscious, his body hanging like a worn out rag doll. Teal'c was beside him, hands behind his back, his head bowed forward. Sam was closest to him, set down in a seated position, her back to the metal with her arms bound on either side. All four them remained cemented to the metal slab that the man kept in the corner of his shack.
He laughed. "I am aware that you have taken human form."
Human form? Daniel's eyes widened. Crap.
"This is definitely a mistake," he said. "We're human, just like you. I don't know what you think we are, but you're wrong."
"I am a man of wisdom. I am not so foolish as to fall for your trickery."
"Okay, then. Just what are we?"
The man's eyes glimmered. "You know what you are."
Daniel immediately started scanning the room for any hint of the man's root culture. Based on his appearance, Daniel would guess he had ancestry in any number of ancient Middle Eastern societies, but he couldn't base that assessment on looks alone. Culture and custom were constantly changing, as much as the genetics of the population could have shifted.
His gaze fell to the walls. He saw some writing, something long and fluid, a style that looked more ornamental than anything else. Without a cipher and foundation to work with, he could only guess at its roots.
Daniel sighed. He was never going to make any gains with this man if he couldn't figure out his culture.
Craning his next to the right, Daniel tried to get a look at the rest of the room. Jack and Teal'c obscured most of his view, but he could see a stone relief with a carving of an ancient creature of some kind that seemed vaguely familiar. The MALP rested just below it.
"Ah, you see it. I knew you would." Daniel jerked as the man sidled up next to him. "It calls to you, does it not?"
Daniel stared at him. Never in his life had he ever felt any affinity to the MALPs. In fact, as of today, he was starting to hate them.
The man reached up and touched Daniel's hair, coming to whisper in his ear. "Let it call to you. You will not go. I am your master now."
Daniel froze. Not good.
"Hey, watch your hands."
Daniel turned at the sound of Jack's voice. He was glad to see him a wake, but Jack had seen better days. His face was ashen, and he barely looked conscious, but at this point, Daniel would take what he could.
The man walked over to Jack, pausing to study him. "And what is your power?"
"Power?" Jack shot a weary look to Daniel.
Again, Daniel strained to get a better view of the relief over the MALP. The image had a distinct Middle Eastern flare, Pre-Islamic. He exhaled. This was going to be a tough one.
"At first I thought he thought we were daevas, but now I'm not so sure."
Jack stared at him with groggy eyes. "Did you just call me a diva?"
"Daevas," Daniel corrected. "Usually thought to be benevolent divine creatures in Hindu and Buddhist traditions."
"Well, that's a good thing."
"Normally, yes. But we're not daevas."
"No kidding." Jack paused. "So, what are we?"
Daniel licked his lips, his gaze falling back to the man. He was watching them with interest, but Daniel didn't fail to notice that his gaze kept slipping down to Sam. Apparently, Jack noticed as well.
"Well, now that you have us, why don't you tell us your name?" Jack asked.
The man stopped staring at Sam and turned his attention on Jack. "Do you think I am that foolish to give out my name for you to have power over me?"
"Oh, I think your name is the least of your worries right now.'" Jack forced a smile. "Why don't you untie us before this gets messy?"
The man gave Jack a toothy grin. "I'm your master now. You do my bidding."
Jack shot another look to Daniel. "Slaves?"
Teal'c stirred and slowly lifted his head. "I believe Daniel Jackson refers to phenomenal cosmic powers." He straightened his back. "And perhaps a living space of disproportionate size."
Daniel had no idea what Teal'c was talking about, but apparently Jack did.
"What? He thinks you're a genie?"
"Actually, he thinks we're genii. Or more aptly, djinn."
Jack waved his head toward the man. "Arabic?"
"Actually, the word genie is from the French génie, a word meaning spirit, which in turn came from the Latin genius, a term that loosely translated means guardian spirit. While the Latin predates the Arabic, they both derive from the root, which is Semitic. The word means to conceal or to hide, which is likely why so much of the mythology associates djinn with concealed areas." Daniel's gaze wandered to the MALP again. "Though, with the ancient Arabic – or Aribi – societies and even in modern societies today 'djinn' has a sinister connotation. It's interesting how so many cultures have conflated the idea of wish giving and luck with that of djinni attached to an object of importance like a lamp, or in our case, a MALP."
"Manalp?" the man asked.
"MALP." Sam stirred, her icy cold glare directed into the man. "Mobile Analytic Laboratory Probe."
"MALP," the man repeated. "The MALP of the Genii."
"Yeah, something like that," Jack muttered. "Gods, elves, genii. What's next?"
"I do not wish to know," Teal'c mumbled.
Their conversation was quickly forgotten as the man started toward Sam and leered at her. "And what is your power?"
"Why don't you untie me, and you can find out."
He chuckled. "You spirits. You think we humans are foolish. I shall keep you restrained until I am certain that you are bound to me."
"Don't think that's going to happen," Jack said.
"You are so sure. But I have you." The man pointed to their restraints. "You are bonded by magic. And I have your leader, the master djinni." He gazed up at Teal'c, staring at the tattoo burned into his forehead. "I will learn your abilities. If nothing more, I know that I can sell you."
"Sell?" Daniel fidgeted in his spot. He didn't like the sound of that.
The man turned back to his table, fiddling with the gadgets that he likely had no idea how to really use. He shifted his body again to see if he could get some idea what they were but stopped when he saw Jack's body jerk.
Jack mouthed to him the word "distract," and Daniel could see why. Jack had started to hop closer to Sam, whose hands were just at the right height to grab the knife he kept concealed on his leg. If Daniel could keep the man's attention on him, and have Teal'c block the rest, maybe Sam and Jack could find a way around their restraints.
"My power is magic through words," Daniel blurted out.
Sam and Jack stopped just as the man turned to Daniel. "And I am to believe you?"
"Take me to your table, and I'll show you."
The man pondered the idea for a moment before he finally nodded. He brought out a device similar to the one he had when SG-1 first met him. With a small flick of his thumb, the device blinked, and Daniel felt his wrists snap off the metal slab. The limited freedom was fleeting. Daniel felt his wrists pulled toward the man, the field of attraction rooted in whatever signals the device gave off.
Daniel grabbed the charcoal on the table and snatched a stray piece of paper. He vaguely wondered if it was made from the same papyrus from the reedy marsh, but he put that thought aside and started to write.
With the man's attention solely on him, Daniel knew that the others would be able to get to work. Occasionally, he glanced up from his scribbles to see Jack changing from one ridiculous position to another as he attempted to get in the right spot for Sam to grab the knife he kept hidden on his leg.
"What are you drawing?" the man asked suspiciously.
"Words. Different words." Daniel finished the calligraphy and reached for another. "They are words for confidence."
"Do you have words for gold?"
Daniel stopped and frowned at the man. "Gold?"
"Djinn can bring riches to those that ask. I ask for treasure."
"Seems like you have a lot of treasure to me." Daniel pointed to all of the devices laid out on the table.
"None of this will buy back my son."
Daniel stopped and dropped the charcoal on the table. "Buy?"
"He was wrongly accused," the man said. "He did not steal that loaf of bread. He does not deserve slavery to the king's son." The man leaned closer to Daniel, his eyes now shining with hope. "But I knew that if I waited, I could catch you. Every day, in the swamps, I waited. And I waited. I did not expect four, but it appears that you are a lucky one indeed."
Daniel wasn't so sure about that.
"Release me and my friends. We'll listen to what you have to say, and we'll try to help. I promise."
"You may be lucky, but you speak nothing but lies."
"You're looking for trust?" Daniel held up his bound hands. "My name is Daniel. Daniel Jackson. Just like my friends called me before. Now you have my name. My true name."
The man stared at him for the umpteenth time that day, only this time Daniel felt like there was more than just awe, anger, or anticipation. Slowly, he reached for the device and went to flip the switch.
And happened to glance over his shoulder.
"What is this!" The man spun around angrily, glaring at Sam, Jack, and Teal'c. "You deceive me?" he asked Daniel.
But his words did nothing to quell the man's ire. Jack had been caught with one of his legs raised and tilted back, his ankle right by Sam's fingers. Teal'c tried his best to cover them with body, but he was too far removed to make a difference.
"Well, this is awkward," Jack muttered.
That was an understatement, Daniel thought. He looked around, searching for anything he could use to disable their captor. Remote controlled magnetic shackles put a damper on any of his more creative thoughts.
"Djinn," the man said, a low growl escaping his throat. "Deceivers. Liars."
"Here's a thought," Jack said. "Let us go, and we won't lie to you anymore."
"You are here to do what I say!" the man yelled. "You are here for me!"
The man slammed his thumb into the remote control. Instantly, the restraints around Daniel's wrists dropped like a ton of bricks to the floor. Daniel cried out. Wincing, he bit back the pain that flared through his arms and shoulders while vainly attempting to move the dead weight from the floor.
When Daniel glanced up, he saw Sam yelling, though he couldn't hear her through the painful throbs in his head. Daniel didn't dwell on that fact for long; his eyes widened when he saw the man creeping toward Jack, another small remote pointing at him.
"I have waited too long to have this end in trickery." He squared his shoulders. "I have given up too much."
He pressed down on the remote.
The fits increased, harder and faster, his entire body shaking. Daniel felt the panic rise in his chest when he started to see foam at the corners of Jack's mouth.
"Stop it! You'll kill him!" Sam fought against her restraints but to no avail. "The human body can't handle exposure to that kind of energy for long!"
Both Daniel and Teal'c struggled against their restraints as well, but unsurprisingly they could do nothing. All Daniel knew was that if they didn't do something soon, Jack would die.
"Djinn, or as you say, genii, are strong creatures. This I know. Do not insult my intelligence." He pressed the remote again, spending Jack into another fit of convulsions.
"No, stop! All right! All right! I'll tell you our secret!" Daniel yelled. "It's through movement. It's all through gestures, movement, action!" The convulsions continued. "I said I would tell you and I have! You're killing him!"
The man stopped and turned to him. Daniel breathed heavily, trying to catch his breath and calm his nerves. He watched as Sam and Teal'c checked on Jack's limp form, while he dealt with the sadistic little man.
"Movements," the man said. "Explain this to me."
Daniel ignored him, his attention still on Jack, Sam, and Teal'c. He breathed out, relieved, when he saw Jack begin to stir.
"Movements." The man poked him. "Speak."
"Dancing. Jack completes his magic through dancing."
Beyond the man's perplexed face, he saw Jack's head bob up. "Excuse me?"
Daniel ignored him and kept talking. "The most powerful magic is done through dance. Jack wanted to be free, so he had started to dance." He cleared his throat. "Right, Sam?"
Sam stared at him. "Uh…yes. He's an expert dancer."
Teal'c raised his eyebrows. "Indeed."
Jack muttered something unintelligible under his breath, but Daniel had a feeling he didn't want know what he said anyway.
"Dancing magics, you say? How very interesting."
Daniel froze, realizing that the voice was from someone different. He turned his head, surprised to find two men standing in the doorway, watching the whole scene with interest.
Their captor's face paled. "Qaylah. I did not expect you."
"I had heard rumors that you had snuck beings into your home, but had not believed them." He tapped his chin. "We split all that we find in half. Is that not correct?"
The man forced a weak smile. "Very much so."
"Then would you tell me what beings these are?"
"They are nothing," the man said. "Friends."
The other chuckled. "I see you treat your friends well." He laughed again, pointing to the restraints. "I would hate to see the hospitality you give to your enemies."
"It is not what it looks like."
"It's exactly what it looks like," Jack mumbled. "Daniel?"
Beneath the glare, Daniel saw the conviction in Jack's face. Jack knew these guys were worse trouble than the man who had originally grabbed them. "Right," Daniel said, offering his best smile. "We were helping test out these restraints so that when you do find real djinn, they would work.
The man's face brightened. "That is what I have done."
Qaylah shook his head as he walked further into the home. He stopped beside Daniel and turned his head, appraising him. "I see you have already bound this one to you. He lies for you. A weak djinni." He spat at the ground near Daniel and turned toward the rest.
"A female." Qayah pointed to Sam with disgust. "Enticing, but bad luck. I claim the other two."
"No!" Daniel grunted as he pushed against the magnetic restraints. "We can't be separated!"
"Our magic weakens when separated," Sam added quickly.
Qaylah chuckled. "Look how they lie for you." He snapped his fingers. "Take them."
The man that had come with Qaylah nodded and retrieved the remote from their captor. Despite Daniel's and Sam's protests, he detached Jack and Teal'c, adjusting their restraints as he herded them toward the exit.
Daniel felt a twinge of panic return. If they lost track of Jack and Teal'c, they might never see them again. He shot a worried look to Sam. The same fear was evident in her wide eyes.
Jack and Teal'c struggled against their restraints, but like Daniel's efforts, it didn't work. Before they were shoved out the door, Jack signaled to them with his bound hands that it would be all right.
Translation – Jack and Teal'c were going to try to make a break for it. That left Sam and Daniel to find a way out of their own devising.
"I should have never entered into agreement to earn money from Qaylah to pay for my son." The man wiped his mouth and turned to Sam and Daniel. "But you have earned your place in my home."
The man pressed down on one of his remotes. The restraints around Daniel's hands dropped to the ground, leaving him free. Sam's quickly followed.
"I will get help."
The man ran out the exit and shut the door behind him. Sam and Daniel darted after him, but halted when they crashed into thin air. Daniel cried out and stumbled, his body tingling from contact with the invisible shield.
"I knew that was too good to be true," Sam mumbled.
Daniel shook his stunned hand. "Okay, now what?"
Sam sighed. "Now we find a way to disengage this shield."
Although Teal'c was not fond of their current situation, he finally allowed himself to be taken along with O'Neill. As they had been led from the home of their first captor, Teal'c had caught a "gleam" to O'Neill's eyes, one that he had seen many times before. A plan was forming. He had learned that if he were patient, then their plans would come to pass.
If they did not, then Teal'c would implement a plan of his own devising.
He remained quiet as they continued to travel across the land. The area had little vegetation and appeared to have been overly cultivated. This was in sharp contrast to the small woodland and swamp that they had left behind.
They would have little cover if they ran. He knew O'Neill understood this as well.
"We'll find a way around it," O'Neill assured him.
Teal'c believed his words were meant to assure himself.
They had not traveled far when the two native men stopped. Teal'c stopped as well, his gaze falling to the hillside. Ahead of them, various homes dotted the landscape, carved into the dirt and rock of the hills. However, they were too far in the distance to offer assistance.
"It is time to see your strength," the one known as Qaylah said.
O'Neill frowned. "What? We're not going to see the city?"
"Do you take me for a fool?" Qaylah grabbed O'Neill by the jacket and narrowed his eyes. "I will not bring spirits into a crowd."
"Ah, I get it." O'Neill said. "You don't want anyone touching the merchandise."
"You are mine," Qaylah said with a shrug. His assistant chuckled. "Once you and your magics are bound to me, you shall become obedient."
"We serve no one," Teal'c said.
Qaylah released O'Neill and faced Teal'c. In his eyes, there was a burning – a fire that Teal'c understood well. He had long ago learned that not only did creatures such as Apophis hold that lust, but also men, Jaffa, and any others that yearned for what they should not have.
It was an unspoken warning, one that Teal'c knew would be their last.
"I know you have strong magics within you." Qaylah grinned, crossed his arms, and studied them both. "Your brethren would not have tried to stop your departure otherwise."
"Yeah, about that purchase. I don't think you got the best deal."
"I think otherwise. I have seen you in motion. And while I will save this one's power for later," Qaylah said, pointing to Teal'c, "I wish to tap into yours now."
O'Neill glared at him. "What? You want me to dance for you?"
Qaylah's grin widened. "I want for you to dance. I want for you to bring the people of Djebja to me."
Now it was O'Neill's turn to laugh.
Qaylah's face darkened. "You mock me, Djinni?"
"Oh, I mock."
Qaylah nodded and pointed to O'Neill. Qaylah's assistant stepped forward, and with a satisfied growl, he withdrew a short barbed wand, striking O'Neill's bound hands.
O'Neill hissed, but he did not back down. He shook his hand and glared at their captors. "Who volunteered me to be the punching bag today?"
"Djinn may be powerful, but you are still mortal, like the rest of us. I could kill you if I wish."
"Bit of a waste, wouldn't you say?" O'Neill asked.
"Not after I get what I wish."
Teal'c exchanged a hard look with O'Neill. They both were aware that if they must escape, they needed to do it soon. However, escape was most difficult with the magnetic restraints that held them under control.
Teal'c eyed the remote in Qaylah's hands.
"I know you crave freedom. What creature would not?" Qaylah smiled and gazed down at O'Neill's bloodied hands. "Dance for me. Use your power to bring the Djebja to the flats and bow before me."
"See, that's not going to happen."
"And now you defy me?"
"Believe me, buddy. If I had the power, I'd be defying you all over your ass."
Teal'c could not help but smile at the remark. Their reactions brought nothing but anger to Qaylah's face and he shook, the vessels on his neck bulging from the strain.
"Elem." Qaylah's eyes darkened. "Be done with this one."
Elem tossed aside the barbed stick and unsheathed his sword. With a devious smile, he arched upward and swept down to strike O'Neill.
Teal'c grabbed the man's arm with his bound wrists. "I will perform for you, but I cannot be held responsible for my actions."
Qaylah's eyes widened. "Impressive." He nodded to Elem who relaxed his grip. "I will spare the other if you agree to show me your magics."
He felt O'Neil's eyes on him. "Teal'c!"
Teal'c ignored his friend. "I will, but I cannot guarantee you will be pleased with what you see."
"I'll be the judge of that." He stepped closer to Teal'c. "You serve me, Master Djinni. Do not forget."
Teal'c would not forget. He would make sure that Qaylah would always remember.
Sam slammed the small remote on the table and sighed. "There has to be a way to deactivate the shield without the remote."
Daniel glanced up from the book he'd found. "Still nothing?"
Sam shook her head. "Look at this." She waved her hand across the cluttered table. "There are seven different remotes for devices I can't figure out. There are little trinkets and charms and gadgets that could have any number of functions. He has equipment scattered all over his house. See this?" She ran the pad of her thumb over a coin-sized stone, which caused the object to light up. A small hiss erupted to her left, causing Daniel to start. "It controls his stove. He's jimmied everything to work by remote and half the time I don't think he's realized what he's done. The other half of the time, the devices are useless."
"That's an understatement," she muttered. Sam tried the switches on another square remote, but nothing happened. "How about you?" she asked, tossing it. "Can you read the text?"
"Read it, yes. Read it well?" He cringed. "That's a different story."
"It looks like a log," Daniel said. "He's been keeping an inventory of everything he's collected."
"Great. Did he log where he keeps everything?"
"Daniel looked up from the book and stared at her. He then glanced over to the table. "I think you're looking at it."
Sam pushed away from the table and started another assessment of the room. The man obviously had little time or inclination to keep his home neat – she saw clothes, scrap metal, and even old wooden toys scattered over the floor, the chairs, and the counter tops. Most of what she found looked like a mishmash of alien technology and advanced metalworking, some components Goa'uld, but mostly something else.
None of these contraptions would help them. While she and Daniel wasted time playing scavenger hunt within a fortified shack, Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c could be in serious trouble, or worse, dead. She tried not to dwell on that morbid thought, but the reality struck her hard – they were stuck in a situation that could get worse.
"I feel bad for him, in a way," she heard Daniel say. "He's only trying to help his son."
She dusted her hand across the nearby mantle. "Tying us up isn't the best way to win my sympathy…"
Her voice trailed off as a glimmer if metal caught her eye. In the corner, she noticed a small chest. It wasn't much bigger than the old keepsake boxes that her father had given her as a child, but there was more to it, something different. The box called to her in a familiar way. She just couldn't pinpoint exactly how or why.
"It's naquadah," she said aloud as she crossed the room. Sam grabbed the small chest and brought it to the table. She rubbed the surface with her hand, frowning when she couldn't find a clasp.
Daniel had slid in beside her and looked at the chest from over her shoulder. "Can you open it?"
"I'm trying. There doesn't seem to be a lock." She brushed her palm over the top again, this time pausing over the center.
"Let me try something."
She closed her eyes and concentrated, just like she had done in the past, and tried to feel the naquadah in her veins. Somewhere distant, she heard a pop and when she opened her eyes, she smiled, noting the impenetrable chest had snapped open.
What was inside is what shocked her.
"Oh my God," she said. "Look at this."
She heard Daniel let out a whistle. She had to agree. Inside the chest was an assortment of gems in a rainbow of colors. Each twinkled with surprising clarity. A few gold coins were nestled inside as well.
"Whatever Goa'uld had these sure had an eye for treasure," Daniel said. "I wonder who it belongs to?"
"Let's hope we never have to find out."
She started to close to the chest when she changed her mind and opened the lid wider. There was something about the gold coins that didn't seem right. Carefully, she picked them out and laid them on the table.
"What is it, Sam?"
"These coins don't look right." She picked one up and rubbed her thumb over the etchings in its surface, but nothing happened. She handled it to Daniel. "I think its Goa'uld. Can you read what that says?"
He adjusted his glasses with his free hand and frowned, leaning over and squinting as he tried to decipher the text. "You're right. It's definitely Goa'uld, but I don't know this word. Aklash?"
A stream of green fire erupted from his fingertips and danced across the table. Daniel watched, his mouth open. Sam immediately went to his hand.
"No burns," she said, turning his hand over. She looked up at him. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. I don't feel any different."
She nodded, distractedly, and turned to another one of the coins on the table. Holding it up to the light, she rubbed her thumb over it, feeling the naquadah in its core. "Aklash," she said.
Her hand started to glow and burst into a brilliant blue flame. She stared at it, rotating her hand side to side, watching the smokeless flame flicker. Sam smiled. "It's hologram technology."
"The Goa'uld must have used the coins to create the illusion of power," Daniel said.
Sam nodded. "I think you need to have naquadah in your blood to activate them, but once they are activated, anyone can use them."
"This is great," Daniel said excitedly. "I bet we could use these to learn a lot about how the culture evolved here."
"If we could get out," she said with a sigh.
Sam and Daniel put the coins back on the table and started their search again. Sam knew that time was of the essence. They still had no idea what had happened with Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c; she hated to think of the consequences once they were found out.
"Maybe it's in a chest like those hologram gadgets," Daniel said. He peeked inside the man's cabinets. "Or maybe he's combined it with something else."
"Wherever it is, we have to find it before he comes back."
Sam started back towards the mantle to see if maybe he'd hidden the core device in one of the many knick-knacks that lined the wooden shelf. As she reached for one, she stopped, feeling her boot get caught onto the floor. Sam looked down. Her pacing had caused the rug to peel back, which in turn had exposed a small domed object about the size of a wireless mouse. She bent down to pick it up.
As soon as she touched it, she saw a ripple pass through the invisible field. Sam tried again – same effect. With a grin, she lifted up the device and flicked the tiny switch that ran along the side. The field snapped shut with a pop.
She looked to the table and then to Daniel. He smiled. They both knew what they had to do.
Jack had seen a lot of strange things during his life. Being in the military, it was par the course. But a dancing Jaffa? That was a new one.
So far, Teal'c had done the Swim, the Electric Slide, and some kind of square dance. Though, Jack had to admit the current Moonwalk had to be his favorite.
Jack watched Teal'c do his best Michael Jackson impersonation for the fifth time before he glanced over to Elem.
The local man stood beside Jack, his sword still drawn, the tip pointed at Jack's neck. Every few minutes, the sword would creep closer, and being the astute person that he was, Jack got the message. He wasn't sure how much longer Teal'c could stall while Jack thought of a way to overcome the natives.
He could sweep under Elem's legs, pin him with his knees and knock him out, but that would leave Qaylah open. Not only did Qaylah have a sword, but he also had that damn remote. Jack had enough fun already playing with that for one day.
Teal'c wasn't positioned strategically enough for them to get the jump on both of them at the same time. Even if he was closer to Qaylah, Jack didn't think it would matter.
No, they needed Plan B.
Qaylah looked to the hills and frowned.
Jack grimaced. They needed Plan B fast.
"Your magic seems to fail you," Qaylah said at last. When he glanced over to Jack, the sword pressed a little closer. "Perhaps I was mistaken. Perhaps you have no magic at all."
"Perhaps we've been trying to tell you that all this time," Jack muttered.
"This is a waste of my time," Qaylah said. He pointed to Jack. "Kill that one."
Elem's face twisted with cruel pleasure. Once again, he lifted his sword, wavering as he waited for his final instructions. Teal'c rushed forward but was quickly brought to his knees when Qaylah pressed the switch on his remote.
Screw the plans. They needed to do something now.
Jack tapped his foot, waiting to strike at just the right moment. Only, a glint on the horizon distracted him, and he frowned. "What the hell?"
"Do you believe we would fall for your tricks?" Qaylah asked. "Kill him, Elem. Elem!"
But Elem had abandoned his post to stare across the flats, following Jack's gaze. Teal'c and Qaylah joined them, and before Jack could figure out what exactly they were seeing, he heard a frightened gasp by his side.
The glint on horizon grew and grew until it morphed into a large flame.
Elem dropped his sword and ran.
Jack crouched low and picked up the sword, his gaze still transfixed on the green flame that hurled itself toward them. Unless he was hallucinating, Daniel had not only gone all glowy again, but had managed to catch himself on fire.
Daniel's body was entirely engulfed in the green flame, one that flickered madly from the pressure of the winds that whipped across the flats. The flame was so strong that Jack could barely make out his features. His first thought was that Daniel was in danger, but as the blur of green came closer and closer, Jack could see the determination in his eyes.
A ball of fire rained down at them, nearly striking Qaylah. The man froze and covered his head.
"What magic is this?"
"Teal'c warned you," Jack said. His eyes narrowed when he saw the remote drop to the ground.
Qaylah rushed for it, but Teal'c caught him square in the chest with his shoulder. Jack took his chance. Sword in hand for defense, he weaved in and out of the flying fireballs and dove for the remote.
He dropped the sword, but kept it close, and grabbed the remote. Smiling with triumph, he pocketed the remote. No way was he going to start fiddling with it now. Once he and Teal'c overpowered Qaylah, they could worry about the restraints on their hands.
Jack grabbed for the sword again and was about to jump to Teal'c's aid when he saw another flame beside Daniel. This one burned a bright blue, heavy and hard. But inside, he could see Carter and damn, she looked pissed.
Blue fireballs zipped through the air alongside the green ones, leaving the flats to glow like an ocean on fire. Together, Carter and Daniel marched across the flats, heading directly for Qaylah, streaks and sparks trailing them.
Finally, Qaylah could take no more. As Daniel and Carter approached, he took off to the hills, cursing the entire way. Jack smiled as he watched him go and dropped the sword.
Jack and Teal'c strolled across the flats to meet Carter and Daniel. The burning in their eyes gave way to mischievous smiles.
"Nice trick." Jack poked Carter's flaming sleeve and watched his hand pass right through blaze. "I take it all the fireworks are fake, too?"
"It's a form of hologram technology," Carter said. She dug her fingers into her vest pocket and retrieved a shiny gold piece. She tossed it to Jack. "Daniel and I figured out if you wear them on your body, it gives the illusion of humanoids made of fire."
"Djinn," Daniel said with a smile.
"Nice." Jack studied the small coin-shaped object. He glanced up, watching as the flame that surrounded Carter petered out. The one that surrounded Daniel had begun to thin as well, leaving Jack to figure the devices must have some kind of built in timer. He shoved the coin into his pocket. "Take home gifts."
"It appears you have found your diamond in the rough, O'Neill."
"Will you stop quoting that movie?" He shook his head, ignoring the amused smile on Teal'c's face. Carter started to chuckle as well, though Daniel had a look of total confusion on his face.
Jack handed Carter the remote they'd found, pleased as she turned the magnetic bonds off. He rubbed his wrists and glanced back the way they'd come. "I think we've visited long enough. Let's head home."
Jack led his team back through the swamp. They pushed through the muck, retracing their steps back to the Gate. He was fully aware of the fact they had never retrieved the MALP, though by now he didn't care. General Hammond wouldn't be happy at the lost equipment, but the hologram technology Carter snatched should be more than enough to sway the pencil necks in Washington.
"We're almost there, sir," Carter said.
"Not soon enough." Jack scowled, batting away the reeds.
"By the way, Teal'c," Jack heard Daniel say. "Were you dancing back there?"
Carter chuckled. "I didn't know you could dance."
"Doctor Fraiser has instructed me on many occasions."
Dead silence. Jack stopped and turned to stare at Teal'c. "Did I just hear you right?"
"Janet?" Carter and Daniel said together.
Teal'c smiled widely as they continued. The three of them just shook their heads, but Jack knew they all had the same thought on their minds. They wondered just what else Teal'c had learned and whether or not it was too late to take the TV away from him.
Shaking the thought off, Jack stepped forward. The Stargate loomed ahead; he instructed Daniel to start dialing. Just as the event horizon opened with that welcoming whoosh, Jack felt a presence behind him.
The four of them turned and came to a halt, surprised to find the blacksmith standing behind them.
"Dammit," Jack muttered as he glared at the man. "Don't you quit?"
The man said nothing, but there was something notably different about him. Gone were the harshness, the fear, and the anger. Instead, Jack saw sorrow, regret, and relief. This was a broken man, a man that had lost a piece of himself, but unlike Jack, had the chance to reclaim it. Jack felt his face go slack as he waited patiently for the man to speak.
"I have spent all my free time in these swamps. I search for any means I can find to get him back. I look for treasures left by the gods of old." He clutched a small open chest in his hands. "You are not evil spirits."
"No," Jack said.
The man said nothing as he looked down at the open chest. His fingers caressed the jewels. "I left my home to look for one of the larger items I keep outside. When I came back, you were gone." He brought his gaze to SG-1. "I knew I would find you here. I just did not expect –"
He shook his head and stared back at the jewels.
"What's your name?" Jack asked.
"Go save your son, Khatna."
Jack followed the rest of his team up the steps toward the Stargate. The four of them paused before stepping through, giving Khatna one final wave goodbye. The blacksmith raised his hand in return, and with a familiar snap, the event horizon closed.
Khatna reached up and took down the stone relief of the djinni of Sazla that his father had given him as a child. Instead, he hung a new relief, one that showcased four special individuals, a group that had irrevocably changed his life, and kept it above their mobile container.
He stepped back and smiled. "That is better."
Feeling the pride swell inside, he reached over and wrapped his arm around his son. His days could not be better with Sahat back in his life, working with him, and living off the land.
He was a lucky man. He would not take that luck for granted ever again.
"Tell me the story again, father?"
Khatna squeezed Sahat's shoulder and nodded. "Today, I will tell you a tale. I will tell you the tale to end tales, the story of the four that came through the circle. Today, my son, I tell you the tale of the genie of the MALP."