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Hell to Pay

Chapter 1

Casey barely opened her eyes when Daniel put the mug of coffee in her hands. She was sitting cross-legged on his work table, still trying to force sleep from her eyes, and her mind. The briefing wasn't until 0700. But Daniel had been anxious to see the MALP images of the people they would be meeting in a about two and a half hours...or so. Give or take.

"You could go to our quarters and go back to bed," he said softly.

"I could still be at home in my bed," she grumbled. She forced her eyes open. Yawned, then took a sip of coffee.

"Maybe we should talk more about getting another car," he replied absently, already losing himself in the quickly typed report of the information describing what was on the tape.

"Maybe. Then when you get the ridiculous notion to come to the base at five o'clock in the damned morning, I can kiss you goodbye, roll over and go back to sleep," she agreed, not yet aware that his attention was no longer on her. When he remained silent, she looked over at his desk. He was 'gone'. 'Off in archaeologist la-la land', as Jack referred to Daniel's habit of focusing so intently on what he was doing that absolutely nothing else registered in his mind. "Then again, maybe I'll just hire one of the college guys to chauffeur me around town. Nice fringe benefits that way."

"Mmmhmm."

"Yep, nice buff college man. I think I want a brunette. Brown eyes. His name shall be Michael, and I will command him, and he will obey me, and indulge my every whim. Like making love on the steering wheel."

"Sounds good, babe."

She was awake now. "I wonder if I could have two college men. Yes, two would do nicely. A brunette and a redhead. Variety is the spice of life, ya know. You're blond...well, dark blond, but it still counts, so that would be perfect. One of each. I like that idea. We could convert the garage into a small apartment for them, so they'd always be nearby, ready at my beck and call," she continued.

"Yeah," Daniel responded automatically.

"Do you think we could sound proof it? I mean with two college men to take care of my every need, well, you say I'm a bit...vocal. Don't need the neighbors complaining about the noise."

"Sure, babe."

She was grinning from ear to ear. "Okay, I'm going to go place an ad in the newspaper for Michael and...hmm...what's a good name for a redhead?"

Daniel's attention was fully focused on the monitor as he watched the tape...stopping it and examining the images, going back and looking at something that had spurred his memory.

"Okay, I'll call the redhead...um...Charles. Yeah, I like that. Michael and Charles. I'll meet up with you in the briefing room."

"Okay."

Casey shook her head. As long as she was awake, she might as well get in a workout. Maybe she'd have a go at the punching bag. She certainly felt like hitting something right now, and her Husband's insistence on their 'middle of the night' arrival and subsequent distraction weren't the only reasons. Even though she knew she should meditate, determine exactly what it was that she was seeing...or rather, not seeing. She had encountered this particular type of darkness before...when Daniel had gone on the mission for the Tok'ra, pretending to be Yu's lo'taur.

She was aware now that she had been blocked. Recognized the 'darkness' that seemed to be around everything she tried to look at. Before the team had left for the award ceremony, she had gone over every mission folder General Hammond had for the week. She had been able to 'see' for each of them...well enough that two had been scrubbed, one postponed until the needed equipment arrived, and the notes she attached to the others would see the teams who drew the missions through safely and successfully.

But meditating...facing whatever waited for her, scared her to death. She was well aware of the fact that she couldn't avoid the confrontation with her 'astral stalker' for much longer...Daniel's well-being was too important to take risks. But for the moment, right here, right now, she wasn't ready to deal with it.

Putting the mug down on the table, she jumped to the floor. Smiled indulgently at her Husband. For a man who wasn't normally a morning person, he had the annoying habit of waking up way too early when he wanted to examine something that had piqued his interest. She grabbed his legal pad, wrote a note on the top of it...

 

 

 

The gym was deserted when she walked in, dressed in gray sweat pants and a bright pink spandex exercise bra. She flipped on the lights, and her gaze lit on her basha'ak. Working with the Jaffa training staff required concentration. Just the thing to keep her mind occupied. Only until she was ready to face her problem, she assured herself.

The basha'ak felt familiar in her hands...and she took comfort from that familiarity. She spun it around a few times. Then began to thrust and jab, feinting against an invisible enemy. Sort of like The Shadow. She shook her head mentally. Pushed thoughts of her astral plane stalker from her mind. Focused her thoughts, her effort, on all that Teal'c had taught her about the staff weapon.

 

 

 

Forty-five minutes later Daniel looked up from his notes. Frowned to find the room empty save for himself. He started looking around his desk, certain Casey would have left a note. Picked up the legal pad he had been using to look beneath it...put it back. The neat, precise lettering at the very top of the page caught is eye. He smiled. Picked up the phone and dialed the gym.

Men and women from three SG teams were in the gym now. The stereo that Tony Sabotti had brought in was blaring Aerosmith's Greatest Hits as they exercised. The phone on the wall rang several times before one of the airmen heard it.

"Whitman."

"This is Doctor Jackson. Is my Wife there?"

"Yes, sir, one minute." The young man turned back toward the room, held the receiver out, in Casey's direction. "Mrs. J...telephone!"

Casey nodded, finished the movement she had started, then hurried over and took the receiver. "Jackson," she said, responding the same way everyone on the base answered the phone for 'internal' calls.

"Jackson, this is Doctor Jackson. Take a shower and meet me in the commissary in fifteen."

She grinned. "Make it twenty."

"Fifteen, or I don't buy you breakfast."

"Twenty, or you sleep alone tonight."

"Twenty is good."

She could hear the smile in the words. "See you in twenty." With a wave to the others, she raced to the locker room to shower.

 

 

 

The room was filling quickly as those who worked within the belly of Cheyenne Mountain came in to grab breakfast before beginning their day. SG-1 wasn't the only team with an early briefing to attend. Going by the schedule posted beside the briefing room door, they would have thirty minutes before the next team would arrive to meet with General Hammond.

Daniel was waiting, two cups of steaming coffee sitting in front of him. He grinned when she dropped into the chair beside him, her hair still damp.  His heart fluttered at the site of his name...her name above the pocket of her BDU shirt.  'Jackson'.  Sometimes it was the simplest things that reminded him of just how happy he was.  "They're fixing omelets this morning."

She shook her head. "It's too early to eat that much. Just a slice of toast. Strawberry jam. Maybe a banana or an orange."

He sighed. He'd get an omelet to go with his usual waffles and sausage. With luck he could cajole her into eating at least part of it. "Be right back."

By the time he returned with their food, Sam and Teal'c had arrived. They joined the couple, and Jack came through the door less than five minutes later. As was their habit every morning they were on duty, SG-1 ate their breakfast together.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Daniel watched the footage closely, then clicked the remote to stop the tape. "There, see the staff that man is holding?"

General Hammond nodded. "It looks like a staff weapon."

The archaeologist smiled. "Well, not exactly. It's similar, copied I'm sure, from the staff weapons carried by the Jaffa of the Goa'uld who enslaved these people."

"And that would be whom?" Jack asked.

"I'm not sure yet," was the immediate answer. "well, I have an idea, but I'm not positive...well, there really aren't that many possibilities-" Daniel broke off when Jack rolled his eyes. "This staff has interesting markings on it. There are half a dozen that appear to be runes, like the Norse would carve into their weapons. But there are also what look to be Chinese symbols."

"Whoa, Norse and Chinese? That's some combination!" Jack declared.

"Have you found anything that would explain this interesting mixture of cultures?" the general asked.

"No, sir, not yet. The only thing I can say with any degree of assurance is that the man holding that staff is the leader of these people," Daniel replied.

"Do you think going there will pose any problems?"

"I don't think so. I was able to listen to them speaking, and it's a ancient dialect of Norwegian...Viking Norse, actually. I was able to understand most of it, and communicate through the MALP a few minutes ago that we'd like to visit. I explained that we'd arrive through the Stargate...um...they call it 'the portal'-"

"Isn't that what Gairwyn called it?" Sam asked, studying the report that Daniel had put together.

"I believe so...if I'm remembering correctly...yes," he replied. "They never knew it as a 'Stargate' or 'Chappa'ai' on Cimmeria, because they'd never been exposed to Goa'uld, or any other civilization or culture. Like Gairwyn's people, this group seems to have continued to live as their Viking ancestors had."

"Which means the Asgard transplanted them," Sam said.

Daniel nodded. "It appears so, just as they did with Gairwyn's people. The Vikings are the descendants of the Norse...and directly related to the Germans, Norwegians, Finns, Swedes...all of the northern European countries. And didn't come onto the scene as a separate society until the early 790's, AD. In archaeological terms, this movement has been fairly recent, just over twelve hundred years ago. I would guess that this group was 'moved' at the same time Gairwyn's people were."

"So, like Gairwyn's people, they were moved from Earth long after all of the Goa'uld and Asgard were gone," Jack summarized.

"Exactly. I have no idea which Asgard is responsible, or why he...or they...felt it necessary to 'transplant' these groups of people. Circumstances being what they are, I assume the Asgard in question is Thor. Considering that he made sure that Gairwyn's people were protected, I'm assuming that he moved this group as well. I do know that for the past twelve hundred years or so, they've lived exactly like their ancestors."

"I don't understand," Casey said softly. "Why wouldn't they continue to evolve? To grow as a society? Why haven't they made advances - in their culture, in their science? Are all groups taken through the 'gate this...stunted...culturally? And if so, why?"

Smiles flickered over the faces of those around the table. The slender blonde sounded exactly like Daniel had during his first year or so at the SGC. The way Daniel still sounded when he stumbled across a new 'mystery'.

"That's something we're struggling to figure out," Daniel answered, smiling at her. "Some of the people we've come into contact with have matured...advanced. Others haven't. There are several hypothesis as to why this occurs. Many cultures here on Earth still live the way their ancestors did, refusing to-"

"So you think we'll be able to visit these folks without causing any problems for ourselves?" Jack asked, cutting off what would undoubtedly be a very long, very boring narrative from the Space Monkey.

"Yes, I think so," Daniel said, only slightly put out that his explanation had been cut short.

"Major Carter, have there been any traces of naquadah found in the preliminary scans?" General Hammond inquired.

"No, sir. But there do seem to be deposits of tin and iron ore. We've seen what appear to be copper utensils, which means a source for copper, but we can't be sure," Sam replied. "It's possible that they've traded through the 'gate for the copper."

"There doesn't seem to be any sort of 'Hammer' nearby," Daniel added. "Apparently Cimmeria was the only planet protected in that manner. Of course, it's also possible that the Goa'uld who enslaved these people destroyed it. Due to the presence of the Chinese symbols on the staff we've seen, I would say that Lord Yu conquered this planet. He wasn't able to totally obliterate the Norse influence in their culture or their speech, which leads me to believe he wasn't in control for very long."

"Is it possible that Yu didn't stick around because the Asgard showed up?" Jack asked.

"I suppose so," Daniel allowed. "Thor returned to Cimmeria when we called him via his 'Great Hall'. It's logical to think that there might have been some sort of alarm that was set off when, and if, any Hammer that might have been on PX8 478 was destroyed."

Casey had read the mission reports of Cimmeria. She'd marveled that Daniel had been willing to destroy the one thing that might have freed Sha're from Goa'uld infestation, in order to save Teal'c's life. The decision couldn't have been an easy one. Being who he was, Daniel would have felt that he had no choice but to choose to save the life of the friend who was there and in mortal danger, over the life of his wife, who was elsewhere - with Apophis. It must have broken his heart, she thought briefly.

"Casey, can you sense anything that might give us cause to worry?" Hammond asked.

She shook her head. "No, sir."

Daniel glanced at her. She had been unusually quiet during breakfast. Had brushed off his questions about what was wrong, or ignored them completely. He took a deep breath. Pushing her for information usually upset her. Especially if she didn't have 'specifics'. "You're sure?"

Her eyes swung to look at her Husband. How could she tell him about Miss Eloise's warnings? That they were spinning around in her head, getting louder with each passing moment? And that the little voice was warning her of great danger ahead? Not for SG-1. But for him. Because she was being 'blocked', she couldn't see enough to be able to warn him...or to know how to defeat this mysterious enemy. There was only one thing she did know...if she failed to defeat The Shadow on the astral plane, something horrible would happen to Daniel here...something she wasn't sure his Immortality could protect him from. She pulled her lip between her teeth. "I'm sure," she said at last.

Jack leaned forward. "Radar, even if it doesn't make sense to you...or it's cloudy, or murky, or whatever, we need to know. We'll help you figure it out."

Once again she shook her head. "I have absolutely nothing on this mission, or about those people, or that place," she replied firmly. Damned her voice for quavering slightly.

Nervous glances were exchanged. "Casey, join me in my office, please," General Hammond said quietly. "Colonel O'Neill, get SG-1 ready to leave."

"Yes, sir," Jack said, frowning slightly. Didn't like knowing that Radar was holding something back. It wasn't like her. He knew she wouldn't endanger the team. But something was bothering her, and that was enough to make him nervous.

Casey followed the general into his office, watched as he closed the door. She wrapped her arms around her waist, waited for him to speak first.

"Is there anything you can tell me?" the CO asked softly.

She shook her head. "No," she whispered.

"But there is something, isn't there?"

She nodded, brushed away the tear that had fallen onto her cheek. "I have to protect Daniel. If I fail..." she closed her eyes, took a deep breath. "If I fail, it would be really, really bad."

"What do you have to do?"

"I'm not exactly sure." She knew that she had to battle The Shadow, on the astral plane. She just didn't know how she was supposed to do that. Nor was she willing to tell anyone else about it...not yet.

General Hammond studied the young woman. He could sense her distress. He also knew that Casey never withheld information vital to the safety of the teams that went through the 'gate. She would certainly never endanger Dr. Jackson's life. He considered what she had said. "I take it that whatever is going to happen, won't happen here?"

She managed a small smile. Even after all of this time, it still surprised her that what she said was taken seriously, and that no one blinked an eye over her gift, or her ability to travel the astral plane. "No, sir. It won't. I have no idea what will happen, or when."

He nodded. This was something he was learning to adapt to - dealing with other planes of existence. Having a seer working for him, who traveled the astral plane as easily as he drove from his home to the base every morning, necessitated that adaptation. "As soon as you have anything, let me know."

"Yes, sir."

"And Casey, if you just need to talk...my door is always open."

Her smile widened, and brightened her face. "Thank you, General. I appreciate that. I haven't felt anything 'negative' about this mission. That can change, but for right now, all I feel from those people is...curiosity."

"Very well. If you should pick up anything, tell Colonel O'Neill immediately."

"I will."

"Good. Now, I suppose you should join your team."

"Yes, sir." She was almost out of the door when she hesitated, turned, and hurried back into the room. She leaned up and kissed the Texan's cheek. "Thank you for everything," she murmured. Then fled from the room.

The general stared after her for a few minutes. What had that been about? With a shake of his head, he turned his attention to the next mission file, and prepared himself for the second briefing of the day.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Daniel was waiting by the elevator for her. "So, are you going to talk to me?"

"About what?"

"About whatever it is that has you so upset."

She looked up into blue eyes that were filled with frustration. "I wish I could. It's all so...jumbled... right now." It wasn't a lie. She had one fact...well, two, if she considered Miss Eloise's warning. She had to defeat The Shadow on the astral plane. And dreams weren't real, no matter how real they might seem. The former she had no clue how to accomplish. The latter was only confusing. What images she'd been able to see were so...strange...that she had no clue where they fit into anything; images of a small desert village...an old woman by a well...a pre-teen boy with wisdom much deeper than one his age should possess. For all she knew, she was remembering bits and pieces of a movie, or one of her romance novels.

Well, that was a relief. He'd been worried that she was hiding something...perhaps had seen something that was going to happen to her, and that she thought she needed to protect him from the knowledge. He put his arm around her shoulders. "If you need help sorting it out, let me know," he said softly.

"I will, I promise," she said. She already knew that this was one time when she was on her own...completely. And it scared her to death. She followed him onto the elevator. "All I know about this mission is that those people are as curious about us as we are about them."

He smiled. "Then we should all get along very well."

"As long as we have you to translate."

The smile widened. "Kind of proves that I'm needed around here, huh?"

"Occasionally," she teased.

Jack looked up when the two entered the supply room. "Supplies for two days," he said.

Casey grabbed the pack with her name on it. Checked the contents, then began to add what she would need.

"Talk to me, Radar," Jack said softly.

"Jack, there isn't anything to say," she replied, just as softly. "These people are curious about us. I don't think we'll have trouble negotiating for mining rights."

"Something is bugging you."

She pulled her lip between her teeth, unaware that every one of her team members recognized the movement, and that it sent four hearts dropping toward the floor. "It's something I have to work out...on my own."

"Casey-" Daniel began.

She shook her head stubbornly. "I know it's not easy. But you have to trust me."

"Damn it, Radar-"

"Everything will be all right, Jack," she said, interrupting the older man before he could get a rant started. "Even when things seem the darkest, remember that everything will be all right."

Daniel felt his heart drop completely to is feet. It was going to be bad. He could feel it. "Are you certain, Angel?"

Green eyes looked up at him quizzically. "Am I certain about what?"

Glances were exchanged. Casey was never wrong if she made a prediction and wasn't aware of it. Never.

"That this mission will go as planned," Sam said softly, stepping in to prevent Daniel or Jack from demanding answers that Casey either didn't have, or wasn't willing to share as of yet.

"That everything will be all right," Daniel corrected, knowing that how Casey said something was as important as what she said.

"As certain as I can be," the slender blonde replied, a smile tugging at her lips. "We are talking about SG-1 here. When do things ever go as planned for us?"

"You are such a smartass," Jack complained.

"So everyone keeps telling me," she retorted. She closed her pack. "How heavily armed are we going?"

"P90's and side arms," Jack replied. "Just to be safe."

"Nothing like frightening the locals with our superior firepower," Daniel groused.

"Hey, we don't know that it's superior," Jack argued.

"We won't need them," Casey said softly. "But taking them, and then putting them down in a show of good faith, will impress the leaders."

"Works for me," Daniel smiled.

"We'll see," Jack replied. Even though he knew, they all knew, that if Daniel told them to lower their weapons, or hand them over to the people they were about to meet, they would do so. Because they trusted him...and Casey.

 

 

 

The inner ring of the Stargate was spinning, ready to lock in the third chevron when the team entered the 'gate room. Casey looked around her. Tried to quell the rising fear that she would never stand in this room again. Would never stand beside Daniel as he embarked on missions to fight the Goa'uld, to meet new people. Everything will be all right. If she'd said it, had 'seen' it subconsciously, then she had to be right. Oh, goddess, please let everything be all right!

Daniel didn't miss the look of panic...and sorrow, that filled the green eyes he loved so very much. Something was bothering her...she knew something. Not knowing what was bothering her...what was haunting her, made him uneasy. There were times he wished he could demand that she tell him everything...and that she would obey those demands. But he couldn't, and lord knew that if he tried, she wouldn't! He put his hand on the small of her back as they walked up the ramp towards the event horizon. "Together, Case," he said softly. "Whatever it is, we'll face it together."

Those softly spoken words tore at her heart. She bit her tongue to keep from spilling everything...telling him all. As difficult as it was, as terrified as she was, protecting him was more important than anything else. His emotional comfort and her safety included. "Together, always," she replied. As long as she had anything to say about it, that was.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

It was raining when they stepped through the gate, a fine mist punctuated by large splatters of water being dumped from the dark clouds that swirled above them. The Stargate was several hundred yards from the village. For a simple Viking settlement, it appeared to be quite large. A quick count and Daniel tallied twenty-five dwellings. A blacksmith's hut could been seen to one side of a large central area, another small building on the other side of the 'square', beside which were half a dozen large ovens, was most probably a bakery of some sort. Sitting in what had to be the place of honor was a large building with several intricately decorated columns supporting the overhanging roof. If he had to take a guess, he would suppose it was a temple...or a meeting place of some sort. In the center of a large patch of what was now mud, beneath a thatched roof which was supported by very large poles, and open on all sides, were what looked like trader's stalls. And which, for all intents and purposes, were deserted. Only the few wisps of smoke that wafted above the straw thatched roofs of the dwellings gave any hint that the occupants were inside, warm and dry.

Dry was one thing the team now wasn't. Jack pulled off his ball cap, ran a hand through his hair. "Lovely weather," he said sarcastically.

"You won't melt," Daniel replied, moving down the steps. Leading the way, he walked toward the 'center' of the village. The others of SG-1 closed in behind him. He looked around, felt as if he had stepped back in time, was seeing an authentic Viking village, just the way the Vikings on Earth had lived.

The dwellings were all typical 'long houses', and he was certain that he knew exactly how each was laid out: the central, open hearth; the raised platforms against the walls, covered with furs and blankets, used for sleeping and sitting. The interior plank walls in each long house would be covered with 'wattle and daub', a mixture of mud and straw that served to insulate against the cold. There would be chests that held household goods, some upright, others low and long. Round stools made from cross-cut slabs of trees would be scattered about, perhaps gathered around a plank table. The long, one room dwelling would contain everything that the family who lived there needed for their lives. The back of each dwelling, separated by a wall, accessible through a low door, would house any animals the family owned.

"Okay, Daniel, now what?" Jack asked.

"Hello?" Daniel called out. He waited for a few seconds, then shook his head. "Hello?"

The doors of three of the nearest long houses opened. Tall men with long, light or reddish brown hair, full beards, and light colored eyes full of suspicion stared at them. When the archaeologist allowed his weapon to fall freely at his side, and held his hands out, away from his body, his teammates did the same. The men stepped out into the rain, and slowly approached the strangers. Not one of the teammates moved.

"I am Daniel, we spoke through the machine near the Stargate...er...the portal," Daniel said calmly.

"We did not think you to come in weather such as this," one of the men said cautiously.

Daniel recognized the voice. And the face. This man was the leader, the one who owned the replica of a Jaffa staff weapon. He didn't think that these people would understand that where the team had been standing only minutes earlier, the weather had been quite different. Cold and sunny...not a cloud in the sky over Silver Springs. "We were anxious to arrive...to meet you," he explained.

"Bid them enter, so that they might warm themselves," a feminine voice from inside the nearest dwelling demanded.

It was difficult to tell beneath the bushy beard on the man's face, but Daniel thought he saw the hint of a smile. "Come, warm yourselves at my fire."

"Thank you, your hospitality is most generous, and we accept gratefully," Daniel replied. He captured Casey's fingers with his, noted how cold they were, and walked toward the house. His teammates followed closely.

The interior of the house was warm, and slightly smoky. Not all of the smoke generated by the fire escaped through the open hole just above the round hearth.  The man led them further inside. A woman and three young teenagers hurried to put stools as near to the fire as they could.

"Sit, warm yourselves," the woman insisted, her smile warm and inviting.

"Thank you," Daniel replied, returning her smile. Was oblivious to the sigh that slipped from the teenaged girl's lips as she watched him. Her brothers glanced at her, both grinning broadly at her. Nor did he notice when Casey raised an eyebrow at the silent by-play.

"If you wish to remove your wet clothes, we have plenty of blankets," the lady of the house offered.

"That's very generous, but we'll dry quickly," he said. No way was he going to suggest that the team strip in front of these strangers. Stripping in front of one another...well, that was tolerable under certain conditions. Among strangers of both sexes...forget it! Jack would have a shit-fit, and neither Casey nor Sam would ever forgive him.

Casey looked around with unabashed interest. The room was narrow, but long. There was a small door at the end of the room, she had no idea where it might lead. Beside it was a loom, much larger than she had imagined would fit in the cramped quarters. A low chest with two doors and three drawers sat beneath a long shelf, the top of each covered with cooking and eating utensils. Several tallow candles burned, adding their smoke and dim light to the room. Her hostess, a lean woman who had obviously worked hard all of her life, had kind eyes and a warm smile. The brown skirt and blouse were woven, of wool, it appeared. Around her waist was a belt of deep red, Casey couldn't tell if it was leather, or of some other material. Hanging from a deep red string of woven yarn were two keys. She would later learn that these were the keys to the food chests, which were two squat, box shaped chests near the low chest.

Three other men stepped into the house, their eyes full of open curiosity. The owner of the house nodded, and the men seated themselves on the plank floor, near the fire. He then turned to look at the visitors. "I am Gandalf."

Daniel smiled. Obviously the man had been named in part because of the staff he carried...had no doubt inherited. It was hanging on the wall behind his host, displayed proudly. It was possible that these people knew nothing of the Goa'uld, except that which had been handed down in myths and stories.

"These are my younger brothers Havarth, Njordr, and Sveinn. My sons Anund and Bruadar; my wife Bergthora, and my daughter Nanna."

Each person nodded as his or her name was spoken, Daniel smiled and nodded in return. When he looked at Nanna, and nodded, he once again missed the look of raw desire that filled the young woman's eyes. He translated for his friends, pointing to each person as he said his or her name. Again, those named nodded and smiled shyly. He pointed to himself, and then at his teammates as he introduced them. "I am Daniel, this is my Wife, Casey; my friends Jack, Samantha, and Teal'c."

Gandalf stared at the Jaffa for a moment. "This man bears the mark of the Evil Ones!"

"He is a friend," Daniel insisted quickly. "He and all of his people were enslaved by the Evil Ones, and marked as you see. Teal'c stands at our side and battles against the Goa'uld...er...the Evil Ones."

"I will trust you, Daniel. However, if this marked one named Teal'c should cause harm, you will be held accountable," Gandalf said slowly. It was obvious that he didn't trust the large, dark skinned man.

"Teal'c is a kind man, Gandalf. He will harm no one," Daniel replied.

The Viking stared at Teal'c for another minute or so, then nodded. Returned his gaze to Daniel. "You have traveled far?"

"Very far," Daniel said. How much would these people understand? "The...um...portal... opens to a pathway that leads from my world, to many, many other worlds. It enables us to travel very quickly from one place to another. So that we might meet with people such as yourselves. People whose ancestors were taken from their home world...our world...um...Midgard, by the Evil Ones."

Once again Gandalf studied his guest. This man knew the old stories...else how would he know of the Vikings being taken from Midgard? He would send his sons to gather the leaders of the nearby villages. These strangers were more than just the simple folk Daniel insisted them to be. They were either servants of the gods, or minions of the demons. The decision on how to deal with them would be best served by all of the leaders together.

Daniel was an astute man when it came to dealing with those of other cultures...his anthropological training saw to that. He watched his host as intently as he was being watched. There was no way to know, without asking questions about the lives of these Norse people, how much they retained of their ancestors' ways, and how much had been influenced by Lord Yu. He didn't know how well Gandalf would take to being questioned. "May I ask about your people...about how you live?"

"What would you know?" Gandalf asked warily.

His pack was beside him. He opened it, and took out his journal, so that he could take notes about what he learned. "Tell me the story of your arrival here," Daniel began.

Casey smiled. She didn't need to understand the words to pick up on the tone of voice, the excitement that took hold of him every time he met someone new. She had only witnessed his enthusiasm for learning about the 'alien' societies they encountered twice. But the light in his blue eyes was unmistakable. "And he's off," she said softly. Her teammates smiled.

Gandalf looked at Casey, then at her smiling companions. "What did she say?" the large man demanded to know.

Knowing that the man might be feeling insulted, which was not a good thing when among Vikings, Daniel smiled. "She said that 'I'm off'. I very much enjoy learning about others, their ways of life. My Wife and friends tease me about my...eagerness."

"They laugh at you?"

"With much love," Daniel replied with a smile.

The Viking nodded. Friends and families often teased those they loved...not in malice, but in fun. He looked at the faces of Daniel's friends. Yes, there was much love there. Much respect as well.

For two hours Daniel asked questions, and Gandalf answered them. Gandalf had a few questions of his own. By the end of that time, the Viking felt he had a better understanding of the stranger who sat beside his hearth. This stranger was a good man. The people he spoke for must be good people, for they surely wouldn't have chosen a man like Daniel to be a speaker for them if they were not. An alliance with these people would make his family, his village, very wealthy. He glanced at his daughter. Yes, an alliance would be a very good thing.


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