moragmacpherson: (Default)
moragmacpherson ([personal profile] moragmacpherson) wrote2010-09-30 01:07 pm

Fic: The Color of Logic (SG-1/Discworld, for bookchan and help_pakistan)

Title: The Color of Logic
Author: MoragMacPherson
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Gen
Fandoms: Discworld, Stargate: SG-1
Contents include: Smoking, alcohol, humor, language
Word Count: 6,760
Beta: [personal profile] jjhunter 
Disclaimer: Discworld is the property of Sir Terry Pratchett; Stargate belongs to Brad Wright and Universal.
Author's Note: This story takes place some time in the late third season or early fourth season of SG-1, while on the Discworld this takes place some time after a story I wrote called 'A Grand Sneer,' (there are a few references to that story, but it's not required reading to understand this one).  Thank my fantastic beta JJ for the footnotes, and for killing the worst of my run-ons, and bookchan for donating to help_pakistan and providing the prompt, which requested SG-1 traveling to the Discworld and encountering the Feegles. 
Summary: Believing in six impossible things before breakfast isn't a luxury that everyone can afford.
____________________________________

"Ye jist haftae insinuate yer feets ahin the gaig an' give it a wee jeegle. It's all in the ankle, ye ken?"

Major Samantha Carter blinked. No, she wanted to say, she very much did not ken that statement. For starters there were the unfamiliar, slurred words in it. She could guess at what 'ahin' and 'jeegle' might mean - even if she would have to check with Daniel to be sure. But she had absolutely no clue about what a 'gaig' might be or how she might insinuate her foot behind one to jiggle it.

Beyond that obstacle: even if the sentence had been delivered in standard English with a neutral accent, Sam might refuse to ken the information contained therein as a matter of principle. It couldn't possibly be an actual explanation for how she and her team were supposed to open a trans-dimensional gateway to transport them instantaneously across the vast but as yet uncalculated distance between this world and their home planet - and now she had to stifle an uncharacteristic snort of laughter. In the latest Stargate Command budget, the first volume was two inches thick, and that was just the funds devoted to powering, cooling, and maintaining the 'Gate, the dialing apparatus, and the supercomputers dedicated to calculating the other 'Gate addresses. Wouldn't Senator Kinsey be pleased to hear that all of that money will be saved next year because as it turns out, trans-dimensional travel wasn't based on the complicated manipulation of subatomic particles via the superconduction of energy in order to fold the fabric of space-time - sorry, Senator Kinsey, I was mistaken, they're all extraneous accessories, it's actually all in the ankle. And the gaig, apparently, whatever the hell that was.

'Tell us who,' Senator Kinsey - no scratch that, may as well go for broke in wild fits of fantasy - so rather it would be the chairman of the Nobel Committee who would ask her, "Tell us who, Major Carter, imparted this revolutionary scientific breakthrough to the human race?'

And Samantha Carter, being an honest woman, would reply, 'A six-inch tall drunken Pictsie with blue skin who really needed to be more careful about how he draped his kilt in windy conditions.'

Another burble of laughter escaped Sam's throat before she could choke it down, causing Jack to first give her an odd look, then give her that eye-dart and roll which meant that he was counting on her to deal with this. It was more compelling than any direct order and she hated him a little for that. Nonetheless Sam did her best, gave a tentative nod and looked down and back. "Ah, yes, but you see, Mr. Anybody, I'm not sure..." and she'd looked back in the hope that Daniel might be able to provide some kind of help or insight here - he was the expert at dealing with alien languages and cultures, which is clearly what this situation called for, rather than an astrophysicist - but he was just smiling and quietly humming the theme from 'The Smurfs' under his breath, and if Daniel had been reduced to using Jack's coping mechanisms then Sam could be forgiven a couple of giggles here and there.

No - no: it had been a long day, but Sam was an officer of the United States Air Force, a veteran explorer, and a scientist. She could do this: she could hold herself together long enough to get her team home. She could take a deep breath, smile, and in a calm, reasonable voice say, "Maybe it'd work better if you just showed us."

~+~

It wasn't supposed to be like this. SG-1 wasn't supposed to be here, on this impossible world which the inhabitants insisted was a Disc. SG-1 had been sent on a routine mission to P8X-888, where initial probes had detected some promising mineralogical readings and no signs of recent habitation but some interesting ruins for Daniel to poke through. Something had gone wrong though, and Sam had known it the second she'd set foot on this side of the wormhole, remembered her heart plummeting in her chest when she opened her eyes and saw no sign of a DHD.

It had been Teal'c who'd first noticed that the lack of a DHD was the least of their problems. He'd gone through the gate first and so he'd also turned around first. Given his expression, all three of his teammates had been loathe to look back and see what could possibly have made Teal'c's eyes go so wide - made his jaw go slack. "What is it?" Jack had asked, still not turning.

"We have not emerged from a chappa'ai," said Teal'c, pointing his staff, "but from a circle of stones," he finished, freeing his teammates to spin around and discover the truth of his words for themselves.

Jack rubbed at his eyes. "Well, that's a new one," he said.

Daniel wetted his lips with the tip of his tongue before stating, "Megaliths. They don't appear to be specially carved, but I would say they're exactly placed." He slung his weapon around his shoulders and touched one of the stones, easing his palm over to the edge of it then hesitating. He made a low sound in his throat and looked at Jack. "I don't know why, but I really, really don't want to put my hand between them," he admitted after several seconds.

Jack edged a few steps closer, raising his arm and making it just as far as Daniel had before lurching to a halt. "I'm gonna have to agree with Daniel here," said Jack, pivoting away and walking up to Sam. "Major, you got any idea what's going on?"

"It takes two gates," whispered Sam while shaking her head. "In order to form a stable connection, you need a gate at both points. There has to be a gate," she continued in a louder voice. "Maybe - maybe there was some kind of transporter on the landing platform? Or is the stone circle a kind of cloaking device, an illusion like the Nox could put up?" She pulled out her scanner. "Well, that can't be right."

Jack's forehead wrinkled. "What else can't be right?"

"It must be a malfunction. According to this, those stones are producing enough gamma radiation to melt us where we stand." Daniel jumped back a few feet at her words. "We should be dead, sir, along with every organic thing for a million mile radius."

Jack looked around and clucked his tongue. "Well, we're not dead and we're surrounded by the same kind of evergreen forest we seem to find on half the planets in this galaxy, so I'm gonna go ahead and say something's wrong with your scanner. Just to be safe, Daniel, why don't you step away from the potential rocks-o'-doom?"

"On it, Jack," replied Daniel, stumbling a bit in his rush to move away.

"You ever hear of anything like this, Teal'c?" asked Jack.

Teal'c had circled around the set of stones, taking in their surroundings: a small, sunny clearing in a forest with steeply-graded, rough terrain. A few snow-topped peaks were visible over the tops of the trees. "No, O'Neill, it is as Major Carter has said. For a connection to form, there must be two chappa'ai. Nor have I ever encountered a circle of stones such as this one, where the stones defy counting."

"What?" scoffed Jack. "They don't defy counting. There's obviously eigh- er- wait." With a huff, Jack made a quick perimeter around the stones. "One, two, three, no- dammit. Carter, how many stones are there?"

Sam stared at the circle. She wanted to say eight off the bat, but the angles were off, was that a ninth, or were there really only seven with one angled so it got counted twice? "Uh, how many do you see, Daniel?"

"Uh, maybe it's a really faulty Nox-illusion," murmured Daniel a few seconds later. "It keeps - or at least I think - does it keep shifting?"

"It does, and yet it does not," said Teal'c. "I find myself having trouble believing my own eyes."

"But is it not written, 'Seeing is believing'?" chimed a wheedling voice from the edge of the clearing.

As a group they pointed their weapons at the source. Where Sam was certain there had been no one a couple of seconds ago when she'd looked in that direction stood a smiling, elderly, East Asian-looking man in saffron robes. He appeared to be rolling a cigarette with one hand while the other held a well-used birch broom in a loose grip. Sam and Daniel both lowered their weapons slightly, though Jack and Teal'c maintained their aim. The old man's smile never wavered. "Unfortunately, in our experience that's not always true, mister," said Jack after a beat.

"Probably a healthy attitude, that," agreed the old man, sealing the cigarette shut with a swipe of his tongue before sticking it in his mouth, striking a match, and lighting it in a single practiced motion. "For it is also written, 'You can't tell a book by its cover'."

"Sure it is, Master Po," replied Jack, keeping his rifle trained. Sam didn't blame him. Something about the stranger was making her feel uneasy - either the bizarre way he delivered clichéd aphorisms as Zen koans, or something in that unflagging smile - something about the man made her fight or flight instinct stand up and pay attention.

Either not picking up on the same signals or actively suppressing them, Daniel took a tentative step towards the native, his palms facing forward. "Pardon us, sir. My name's Dr. Daniel Jackson, over there's Colonel Jack O'Neill, the others are Teal'c and Major Samantha Carter. We're a team of peaceful explorers from another world."

"Peaceful, eh? Your companions have an odd way of showing it," said the man.

Jack flashed a quick smile. "Just because we're peaceful doesn't mean we're not prepared," he said. The man made no response but took another drag from his cigarette. "Normally, this is where we'd tell you how we came through the Stargate, the big metal ring with lots of pictures carved on it, but funny thing: this planet doesn't seem to have one, which, as far as we can tell, is impossible. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"

The man seemed to pause in order to regard the entire situation from a slightly removed perspective; maybe she'd forgotten to blink because he blurred in her vision for a fraction of a second before nodding. "I would say, Colonel O'Neill, that you sincerely believe everything you just said." Jack made an annoyed grunt in reply and Daniel sighed. Teal'c, Sam noticed, continued to hold his breath, and hey, so did she. She exhaled as the man continued. "I would also say that you are almost entirely correct in saying there is no 'Stargate' on this planet."

The SG-1 team waited for the native to explain.

He continued to smoke and smile.

A half second after the pause had turned awkward but just before Jack could open his mouth and make things even worse, Teal'c asked, "Which part of the statement is incorrect?"

Apparently that was the right response because the monk practically beamed while drawing a circle over his head with his cigarette and answering, "This place here, this world? Is not a planet." Teal'c blinked while the others each produced a wordless monosyllable of disbelief and before any of them managed a coherent response, he continued, "Welcome, peaceful explorers, to the Disc. My name is Lu-Tze and if you'll just follow me we can chat along the way but we have a long walk ahead of us, so we'd best get started." He turned around and started walking.

At least Sam wasn't the only one who needed a moment to process that statement. Daniel's lips kept forming the beginnings of words though no sounds emerged; Teal'c discretely shuffled his weight from foot to foot like he no longer trusted the ground beneath him to stay there; and Jack looked like he was halfway to shooting Lu-Tze in the back on the principle of the matter. Instead he shook his head, scowled, and called out, "Where are you taking us?"

"To get you back to your Roundworld, where else?" shouted Lu-Tze, sauntering towards the tree line. He didn't bother to look back to check if they were following him.

Jack let his M-16 slip from his fingers and adjusted the strap so that it rested over his shoulder, then echoed, "He's taking us back to our Roundworld," like it was a bad punchline.

"His behavior suggest that our situation is one he has dealt with previously, though I was not aware that worlds came in alternative shapes," said Teal'c as they formed a huddle.

Daniel found his words and rushed them out. "They don't: flat earths are a common myth but the underlying cosmology can't possibly account for life on other planets. Not to mention that with a name like Lu-Tze, he should be saying it's a square, not a disc; then again he's speaking in adages which are practically the opposite of riddles - this doesn't make any sense."

All eyes landed squarely on Sam. "Maybe it's a disc-shaped space ship? Some kind of ark, refugees from a dying world?" was the best she could think of.

Jack tilted his head up. "Hell of an imitation of a partly cloudy sky if it is."

Teal'c pointed over the tree tops. "There are also the mountains to consider."

Lu-Tze cut off further speculation with a distant yell. "I meant it when I said we can chat while we walk, for it is written, 'I haven't got all day, you know." And Sam had to give him credit: in the face of this revealed wisdom, they really had no choice but to shoulder their packs and start catching up.


~+~

On the way Lu-Tze explained things and answered all of Sam and Daniel's questions. Or at least Sam told herself that. No, really: Sam told herself that. A version of Sam, anyway.

After they'd caught up with Lu-Tze, she and Daniel and even Jack had begun peppering the old man with questions, most of which he'd evaded with more of his adages or with explanations that made no sense. Supposedly he belonged to an order of monks that could manipulate time: he wasn't forthcoming about exactly how they did it. Allegedly it had something to do with how the Disc was sustained by magical force fields and elementary particles that didn't even exist where Sam came from; as if the universe had different rules here than it did anyplace else, and the fact that he insisted on calling it a multiverse didn't make that concept any more plausible. She'd done her best, stood her ground for science and rational explanations, until the discussion grew so heated the monk stopped and tossed his third cigarette aside in frustration, for once without a smile on his face. His words, however, were calmly delivered. "Major Carter, may I request five minutes of your time?" he asked.

Sam straightened her shoulders. "Certainly, if you can give me an explanation that's plausible and true in five minutes." Which I doubt went unsaid save for the hand she planted on her hip.

Lu-Tze's smile returned as he shot looks at her companions. "Gentlemen, if you'll excuse us, we will be two hundred feet in that direction," he said, pointing to the right of the path. "If you could give us some privacy, I'd suggest that you take the opportunity to relieve yourselves by walking a few yards that way," and now he pointed in the opposite direction, "though not more than a few yards, as there's a rather precipitous drop if you go any further."

Sam expected Jack to start objecting, which he did, but it was Teal'c's throat clearing that gave her pause. "Major Carter, I'm not certain he is being honest about his intentions. I think it would be wiser if one of us accompanied you."

Before Sam could respond, Lu-Tze chuckled. "You have my word, Teal'c, that I have requested exactly what I intend to take, and that I will see to it that no harm comes to your friend while I take her aside."

The two men shared a long look after which Teal'c nodded, setting his staff to the ground and leaning his weight onto it. "Very well then."

The matter apparently settled, Lu-Tze turned to Sam. "Major, if you would just follow me." As they walked through the underbrush Sam could hear Jack, Daniel, and Teal'c speaking in hushed tones but she ignored them. About two hundred feet later, Lu-Tze gestured for her to lean up on the far side of a large evergeen trunk that shielded them completely from the view of the path. "Now," he said, his smile gentle instead of teasing, "don't be alarmed."

"Don't be-" she began, but the world blurred for a second and when it stopped, Sam saw herself step out from behind a tree a few feet ahead, not wearing her usual backpack but rather an odd device which included a slow-moving spindle and a crank.* "What?"

"Hi Sam, and yes, it's me. Us. You know what I mean. You were about to say, 'Don't be alarmed by what?' Not our most original response, I'm afraid. Lu-Tze was telling you not to be alarmed by me, to answer your question. But you're still suspicious, and rightfully so, so you'll want to hear this part first: our name is Major Samantha Carter, serial number 366349, of the United States Air Force and lately the Stargate Command." The 'our' and the order in which she delivered this information indicated that, as far as this Sam knew, she was a future version of herself.

"My Dad's name is Jacob," she continued: 'Dad' instead of 'father' meant she wasn't captured or under duress, "and he currently shares a body with a Tok'ra named Selmak." 'Shares': we have allies here, no enemies present. "I have a brother, Mark, who I don't talk to very much." 'Very' indicated she didn't need to call for back up. "My mother died in a taxi accident when I was a teenager, but I forgave Dad for not going to pick her up a long time ago." Including that last bit meant they could speak freely about anything, including top secret information, in present company. "I also, uh, well, you know as well as I do how hard it is to say what I feel about Jack." One last check, this one to make sure this was the same dimension, and it was, Sam knew it as she watched herself blush and look down and felt her own cheeks color. "So you know this is me."

"Yes, okay, I'm listening," said Sam, looking over at Lu-Tze who was giving her counterpart a reassuring nod.

"We don't have a lot of time now - or at least I don't. I'm on borrowed time right now: when I'm done, I'll be you again. I wish-" and she stopped and raised her hand and briefly made a fist, almost like she was trying to grab something that she knew wasn't there. "Lu-Tze made me promise not to and I understand why he did - but I wish I could tell you everything he's shown me. You can- no, you should trust him. He's not lying about how he can manipulate time or about all of the work that his order does to keep history working in this place. He's not lying about this world being a Disc or the fact that there are fundamental particles and forces in play on this world that make it so incredibly, wonderfully different than any other place we've ever been."

Sam's counterpart was flushed and glowing and excited as the words spilled out of her lips. "That's the thing, though, Sam: now that I've seen this place, there's a part of me that never wants to go back. I mean, there are gods here, honest to goodness gods, and they make the Goa'uld look mature and responsible, but it's okay because mostly everyone just ignores them anyway." She laughed and shook her head at some memory she was never actually going to have before sobering and opening her eyes. "But we have to go, there's work that needs to be done at home that we're a necessary part of. Lu-Tze's Abbot explained this thing, it's called quantum potential, and it's vitally important to the history of our world, our home, that we go back, and go back soon. We have an important job to do and this place, as wonderful as it is, would distract us."

On those words, the second Sam's eyes turned glassy with tears, her shoulders slumping. "Don't bother asking about exchanging technology either, because the differences in our worlds are so fundamental; that's really why I agreed to forget, that's why you're never going to know. Back home, we can't think of this place as a way out. Our world doesn't work like this one." She wiped her face with the back of her hand, collecting herself. "So, please, Sam, go back to the team and let them know that everything's going to be fine, that we need listen to Lu-Tze and get home, and that there are some places that are getting along just fine without us."

That wasn't an attitude that Sam associated with herself and she had to resist the urge to step forward and give herself a hug. "Are you sure?"

"Yes, Sam, I'm sure." Sam stared herself down and realized that she wasn't lying. She nodded and received her own smile in return. "So, good luck, and don't get too worried when the blue guys show up. They're not all that bad." With that cryptic remark the other Sam stepped back behind the tree and the world blurred again, and Sam and Lu-Tze were once again alone, Sam standing a pace or so forward of where she remembered being and without her pack, which leaned against the tree.

"Do you need a moment? I'd offer you a cigarette, but I know you don't smoke," said Lu-Tze, lighting his own.

Sam wobbled backwards, felt behind herself, clutched the rough bark as a reminder that this was real and not a dream, breathing deeply and closing her eyes. "Let me get this straight: I asked you for answers."

"Yes."

"But there are disastrous consequences if I have them."

"For both your world and mine, yes."

"So you somehow manipulated time and my memory - which you can actually do - in order to show me proof of the answers to everything I've been asking you about-"

"I did get your permission-" he began, but now Sam was on a roll.

"- then got me to agree that it was better for me not to know in the first place, brought me back here to tell myself that because you knew that I'd only believe something that absurd if it came out of my own mouth, and then made me forget all of it; all in the name of preserving the timeline and history of my own world?"

Lu-Tze clapped his hands together softly. "Both our worlds, actually, but near enough and on the first go, no less. You are a brilliant, brilliant woman, Major Carter, and if it were possible, I think we'd make a wonderful team."

Sam bit her lips. "In another life, maybe."

Lu-Tze's eyes twinkled. "Perhaps," he agreed in a wheedling tone.

She realized that she could now tell by the twinkle that this particular wheedling tone was wistful, not sarcastic, and this observation made everything real in a way it hadn't been a moment before. She replayed the last several minutes in her mind. The other her hadn't been under duress, the other her had agreed to this, the other her had said to trust him. Which left only the question: how much did Sam trust herself?

He gestured towards the path. "Our five minutes are just about up, and I don't like to think of what your friend Teal'c will do if I'm even a moment late."

"Funny, I think he's the one who's most afraid of you," said Sam while she grabbed her pack, because while she now understood that Teal'c was right to be frightened of the elderly monk, she also realized that during the time she'd forgotten, Lu-Tze had grown fond of her.

Lu-Tze chuckled. "I may be a smiling old man armed with nothing but an old broom, but your friend Teal'c is a true warrior, and worse than that, intelligent and patient."

Sam frowned. "Patient? But-"

"Oh, not with me. He'll hold me to my word: five minutes, not a second longer. Any more, or if he thinks I've abused your trust in any way, he'll very patiently wait for the exact right time to take revenge. And that, Major Carter, would make this situation unneccesarily messy." Sam found herself nodding in agreement.

When they returned to the path they found the rest of the team waiting there, anxiety written in the way they all held their weapons at the ready. "Did he finally give you some straight answers?" asked Jack.

"Yes," said Sam. "I learned everything I needed to."

"So how'd we wind up here?" asked Jack and Sam looked to Lu-Tze, a little shocked with herself, because no, she hadn't gotten an answer to that one very obvious question.

Lu-Tze bobbed his head. "The circle of stones you appeared next to shares many characteristics with your Stargates. As this world travels in an unpredictable course compared to the ones that you're used to, it simply intercepted you on the way to your intended destination. What's important is that we return you home promptly."

Daniell's brow furrowed. "And that's an acceptable answer to you," he said to Sam.

Sam met Teal'c's concerned regard and decided to trust herself. "Yes, Daniel, it is."

~+~

The rest of the walk passed in relative calm and silence until they arrived at a small medieval-looking village in the late afternoon. The villagers noted their presence with wary glances but none of them approached the group as Lu-Tze led them on without hesitation. He stopped them at a well-kept cottage abutted by similar dwellings at either side. "With any luck, she'll be in," said Lu-Tze, adjusting his robes. He glanced back at the team. "Don't worry, this one's friendly, just keep your weapons down." For the first time in their acquaintance (that she could remember), Lu-Tze appeared nervous, and Sam wondered at the term 'this one' while Lu-Tze strode forward and knocked on the door.

The door creaked open to reveal a plain, cowed-looking woman. "Yes?" she asked.

Lu-Tze bowed. "Good afternoon, Mrs. Ogg, we were wondering if Nanny was in?"

The woman sighed and began to say "Yes," but she was interrupted by a shout from the other room.

"Do I hear that damned Hublander at my door? Let him in, girl, let him in!" A resigned look passed over the woman's face as she opened the door all the way and motioned for them to enter. Sam and the rest of the team filed in behind Lu-Tze to find a cottage cluttered with knick-knacks and tchotchkes. At the center of the main room sat a small, rotund woman dressed in black whose face was composed almost entirely of wrinkles.

"What have you dragged to my doorstep this time?" she asked, hopping to her feet. Lu-Tze told her their names while she looked the team up and down. Sam got the least of it: by the time the lady was done reviewing Daniel he was blushing. "Ah, several fine specimens, perhaps not quite as handsome as that first one, but they do make up for it in variety," she finished as she gave Teal'c an appreciative leer. Clucking her tongue she turned to Lu-Tze. "Does Esme know you're here?"

Lu-Tze shrugged. "What do you think, Gytha?"

The lady laughed. "That you didn't bother to tell her because she more than likely already knows." Lu-Tze spread his hands in resigned agreement. "You'll hear no complaints from me on that account, Sweeper, she'll show up if she feels the need and I've no pressing urge to see the two of you circle each other like two feral toms again any time soon - ah, speaking of which, I see Greebo's come to say hello."

A large, heavily scarred black cat had embedded itself in Teal'c's leg. "It's a rather vehement hello," allowed Teal'c, his voice strained. To his credit, he wasn't pointing his staff at the creature.

"He's just curious about strangers, 'tis all. He can be a mite territorial, my Greebo, but a real softie at heart, aren't you sweetie?" cooed Nanny as she pried him off of Teal'c and set the cat on her chair, the blood on the cat's claws spotting the upholstery. "Sorry 'bout that. I'm Nanny Ogg and I assume you're travelers from another world?"

Jack nodded and the rest of them followed suit. "That's what we're given to understand, ma'am."

"Polite, good, and soldiers, I see, too. I like soldiers just fine, had many a fine time with them - so long as it's peace-time anyway."

Jack smiled. "We prefer it that way ourselves."

"Aye, good, good to hear." She pulled a pipe out of her pocket and chomped on the stem. "I suppose you've followed this meddlesome old coot here looking for a way home?"

"That's correct, ma'am," said Daniel.

Nanny snorted and turned to the monk. "You do realize, Lu-Tze, that I can only make so much scumble in one year?"

Lu-Tze was lighting a cigarette as she asked this. "Gytha, if you'd simply provide me with the recipe I could-"

"Have your own ready supply and mix up history so badly that I'd wind up my own grandmother?" she interrupted, poking him in the stomach with the stem of her pipe. "And wouldn't that be a sight? No, no, I'll not be giving your lot my recipe any time soon. But no worries, dearies, I have a gallon or two left from last harvest," she said, walking into another room and returning with a small earthenware jug, "but if we get any more visitors before autumn, you'll have to pop down to the Chalk for some of that Sheep Liniment they like first," she told Lu-Tze.

"I'll bear that in mind, Gytha."

"I'm certain you will," she said, grabbing a pointed black hat and setting it on her head. "We'd best get along then, follow me."

Sam couldn't help herself. "Excuse me, ma'am, but are you a witch?"

Nanny grinned, her single tooth gleaming. "Of course I am, lass, what else would I be?"

When Nanny and Lu-Tze had left the room Sam looked over at Jack, who shrugged. "Well, what else would she be?" He nudged Daniel with his elbow until the other man managed to shut his jaw and start walking out. "You're the one who said we should trust them, Carter, and we've come this far, may as well see this through to the end." He glared at Greebo. "The old guy was right about one thing, though."

"What's that?" asked Sam.

"We can't get out of this place soon enough."

~+~

It was by following the witch to a clearing a short walk away from the village that Sam and her team finally met the blue guys, whom Lu-Tze named as the Nac Mac Feegle but Nanny called the Wee Free Men or Pictsies. Sam's future self had been right: they weren't so bad, just a little overwhelming. At first they appeared most impressed with Teal'c. "Ye're a huge heap o' bigjob, ain't ye," said the one called Daft Wullie.

"I imagine a person six-inches tall would consider me huge, yes," said Teal'c, taking the matter in stride. He was doing better than Jack, who kept flinching any time one of the little guys got too close to him. Daniel, Lu-Tze, and Nanny had huddled close around the self-proclaimed 'big man,' Rob Anybody, in order to negotiate the terms involved in purchasing SG-1's return home.

"Ach, hag, 'tis nae like we hae nothin' else tae do with ourselves, other than escortin' e'ery lost mudlin home wot stumbles intae the Last World," said Rob.

Lu-Tze sighed. "Don't force our hand, Mister Anybody."

"Dinnae force ye tae do wot? I'd like tae see ye try ye're Déjà-fu on us, ye besom-wielding bodach, see how quick ye can get a faceful o' heid."

It must have been an insult by the way Daniel held his breath but Lu-Tze didn't even flinch. "I wouldn't bother. But it occurs to me that you haven't noticed something important."

Rob puffed out his chest. "Wossat, carle?"

"Who's standing here right now?" asked Lu-Tze, pulling out his tobacco pouch.

"Weel, there's us, ye, the hag, this peddera-eyed fur'n bigjob, the fur'n hag, the big man o' the fur'n bigjobs, an' the huge heap o' bigjob," said Rob, pointing them each out in turn. Sam wasn't sure how she felt about being referred to as a 'hag' but Nanny didn't seem to mind.**

Nanny, in fact, was smiling. "What's more important is who isn't standing here right now." She arched her eyebrows and the tiny blue man paled.

"Ach, ye'd nae be so cruel as to call in the hag o' hags*** on us, would ye, hag?"

She shrugged. "Oh, I wouldn't."

Daniel clasped his hand to his chest at her look and Sam was glad someone on the team understood what was going on. "And we wouldn't dream of doing such a thing," he said.

Lu-Tze struck a match. "But I would." He lit his cigarette. "Unless you agree that half a gallon of scumble is a fair price."

Rob Anybody scowled, spat on his hand, and offered it to Daniel. "'Tis a fair trade," he said, glaring at Lu-Tze. Daniel spat on his forefinger and extended it to the Feegle, who shook it heartily.

Jack cleared his throat. "So we're all set?"

"Nae quite, big man," said the Feegle to Rob's left, who was holding what appeared to be a tiny set of bagpipes. "We'll be needin' tae ken our destination, and fra' that, we'll be needin' a tiny bit o' song from one o' yin."

That was when things had gotten to be a little too much for Sam - it had been a long day - and when she'd started having to fight the urge to cackle. Jack had eyeballed Daniel until he submitted and rasped out a few bars of Fleetwood Mac's 'The Chain,' and Sam was going to be stunned if they didn't hear about that from Jack every single day for the rest of their lives. The musician Feegle pronounced the performance "a wee bit rough but sufficient fra' our purposes," and announced that they could depart whenever they were ready.

"Relax, Major Carter," said Lu-Tze, his familiar smile growing wider. "You've done well to come so far. There's a good deal of responsibility you're returning home to, but I have the highest confidence in you. Farewell."

Sam was surprised when Nanny hugged her, the witch having mostly ignored her until now. "There's not many as the Sweeper would say that to, lass," she explained. "And it's clear these fine young lads have a good deal of faith in you as well. You'll be fine."

Sam felt oddly touched by the woman's words. "Thank you." The others made their farewells and then Sam made the mistake of asking exactly how it was that the Feegles were going to transport them home.

~+~

"Do you know what it was that they did with their ankles?" asked General Hammond.

"No," replied all four members of SG-1 in flat tones.

"Frankly, sir, it was a disturbing experience that I'm fairly certain none of us would care to repeat," said Jack as he let loose with a full-bodied shudder. "The little guys just crawled all over us, grabbed our legs, and next thing we knew, we were standing in supply closet B, and the Feegles were already gone."

General Hammond shook his head. "I know you've all been thoroughly examined by Dr. Frasier, who assures me your MRIs are perfectly normal, but all the same, I find this entire report difficult to believe."

"I would not have believed it had I not experienced it myself," said Teal'c. "But it all happened exactly as we said."

"I understand, Teal'c, it's just- well, even in our positions, you must all admit this sounds far-fetched."

Sam leaned forward. "If you don't mind me saying so, sir, I think it's because Lu-Tze was right. The Disc is one world we're not meant to explore."

General Hammond turned on her. "And that's perhaps the most surprising thing of all, to hear those words coming out of your mouth." He sighed and flipped the file folder shut. "On the other hand, all things considered, this is one file that I won't lose any sleep in burying. You're all dismissed. Go home, get some rest, three days mandatory leave. P8X-888 will be waiting for you on your return."

Sam was the last to leave the briefing room and she found Daniel waiting for her outside the door. "Do you really believe what you said?" he asked.

Sam took a deep breath before shakng her head and starting to walk down the corridor. "I don't know, Daniel. I believed it while I was there, but the whole experience already feels a little like a dream, you know?"

Daniel scratched his head. "Well, he did fool around with your memory, that could be a side-effect."

"Maybe," she allowed.

"But you don't think so," Daniel finished.

"You didn't see me, Daniel. I- I loved it there, the other me. I was so happy, so excited, like a little girl who'd discovered a whole other world down the rabbit hole."

"But Alice never gets to stay in Wonderland," said Daniel.

Sam stopped at the door to her office. "No, she doesn't." She turned to face him. "Whatever made me give that up, it had to have been important. I agreed to give up that feeling, to not explore it, to forget I ever knew it. I wouldn't have done that without a reason."

Daniel reached out and squeezed her shoulder. "Then it must have been a good reason." He released his grip and gave her a moment before saying, "Are you going to be okay?"

Sam smiled up at him. "Couple of days leave, get my head lost in some good old fashioned astro-physics, I'm sure I'll be fine."

Daniel smiled back. "Sounds like a good plan. I think I'll try the same thing with translating those Furling texts we found on P3X-042. Take care, Sam."

"You too," Sam replied as he walked away. Sam watched him go then turned to head into her office. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed a custodian in plain coveralls, smiling and sweeping his way around the corner. Her heart skipped a beat and she almost went to track him down before she stopped herself and walked to her desk, shutting the office door behind her. She was being foolish: it had just been one of the regular custodians and anyway, things didn't work that way on this world.

Around the corner, the Sweeper allowed himself a single wheedling laugh.

THE END

________________
* Which Lu-Tze could have told Sam was a portable Procrastinator, which allowed the wearer to live in the time that it stored, rather than in the present time passing by. But, as the Procrastinator-wearing Sam is about to tell the other Sam, Lu-Tze's not going to tell her this. He has his reasons. Trust him: he's a professional. [Back to text]


___________________
** For the next six months, Teal'c patiently bore the nickname 'the huge heap o' bigjob'. Colonel O'Neill thought it was hilarious, until he found himself being the butt of every 'big man' joke a very patient Jaffa could inspire. [Back to text]



_____________________
*** "The hag o' hags," a.k.a. "Aaoograha hoa," if you're a troll, "K'ez'rek d'b'duz," if you're a dwarf, "Granny Weatherwax," if she's given you permission, "Esme," if you dare, and "Mistress Weatherwax" to the rest of you. [Back to text]

Post a comment in response:

From:
Anonymous
OpenID
Identity URL: 
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

If you are unable to use this captcha for any reason, please contact us by email at support@dreamwidth.org


 
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.