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Picking Up the Pieces
The team approached the village cautiously. To leave the trail they were following...to find the cover they longed for...would make their sudden arrival in the village seem as if they were trying to sneak up on the unsuspecting inhabitants, and would lead those people to believe that SG-1 was an enemy, bent on destruction. Being out in the open, in the middle of the dirt path that Daniel generously called a road, left them all feeling exposed and vulnerable, but would be far less threatening to those who lived in the village. Hands caressed weapons, while hearts prayed that there would be no need to use them.
The structures...simple houses, from what they could see...were made of stacked gray stone, with tall, sharply peaked thatched roofs. The largest building, although it really wasn’t much larger than the simple shelters that surrounded it, had markings on the door, similar to what one would find on the doors of a church...or monastery...or synagogue...or mosque...or some other house of worship. The ‘feeling’ that one got looking at the door was the same...it inspired a sense of reverence.
"There’s the church," Daniel whispered, nodding toward the building.
"Strange marks," Jack whispered in return. "Do you recognize them?"
"So who are we dealing with here?"
"I have no idea."
"There is the cage in which we will be held," Teal’c said, calling attention to the crude structure of sharpened wooden poles.
"Lovely," Jack said. His tone of voice let his team know how he felt about the nasty-looking framework. "How long will we be in that thing, Radar?"
"No clue, boss."
The team grew quiet as they entered the village.
The villagers who had been toiling over daily tasks had stopped working, and were staring wide-eyed and slack-jawed at the strangers who were suddenly in their midst. SG-1 did their best not to gape in return. The villagers were unlike any group of people they had met...at least as far as one aspect of their physical appearance was concerned. Wearing modest, homespun garments, it was plain to see that these people lived simply. That wasn’t really a surprise. However, every man, woman, and child who stood gawking had a faint green hue to their skin.
"They’re green!" Jack hissed quietly.
"Hard not to notice," Daniel quipped.
Sam was busy looking around, making a quick head count; assessing which of the villagers might pose the largest threat. No doubt Jack and Teal’c were doing the same thing. For a brief moment she wondered if they would consider the same men a potential problem, if their experience would have them locating others she had missed. "It could be a result of living on this planet. Maybe something in their food or water source," she mused, having been listening to the conversation with one ear.
Daniel frowned, then nodded slightly. "I’ve seen people turn sort of orange when they eat too many carrots." Those ‘people’ had been two foster-siblings. Who'd had a love of carrots, and had seemed to be eating them constantly. And as a result had turned a lovely shade of orange, prompting the social worker to remove all of the children from the foster home and put them in a home where their diet was more closely monitored; a foster mother given to conceding to a child’s demands, even for something as healthy as carrots, was not to be tolerated. He had, Daniel mused silently, actually liked that particular home.
"Exactly," Sam said.
"Thus her theory, Stud Muffin," Casey teased gently.
Daniel rolled his eyes slightly. Knew from the smile his Wife tossed him that she was well aware of the fact that he wasn’t as put out as he was pretending to be.
The villagers were beginning to move toward them now, curiosity outweighing any fear that they might have held of the peculiarly dressed strangers. A few of the men wore straw hats, but every woman and girl had a bonnet that completely covered their heads, and shielded their eyes from view as well. A few wisps and curls of hair peeked from below the bonnets, or clung to cheeks. Hair color ranged from dark brown to black, but nothing lighter, no red highlights could be seen. And explained why Casey’s blonde braid, which hung down her back, was being commented upon by the locals, who pointed and gasped in surprise. The eyes of the villagers, as far as they could tell, were as dark as their hair.
Smiling and nodding, trying to appear as harmless as possible, Jack had taken point, and continued to lead the team farther into the village. They had passed the first of the houses, and were almost to the building that Daniel had identified as being a church of some sort.
The door of the ‘church’ flew open, and a large man wearing a black cowled robe stepped out from the gloomy interior. His size was intimidating, but when he pushed the hood back, and revealed his scarred face and bald head, he was downright scary! His brow was knitted into an unwelcoming scowl. "Rymd!"
The tone of voice gave an indication of what had been said. Jack held up a fist, and the team stopped moving, shifting to stand behind him. "Danny?"
"Not a clue," Daniel replied.
The man stepped closer, inspecting the strangers as much as possible. His gaze hesitated on Sam and Casey, as if trying to ascertain that what his eyes beheld was the truth...that two of the five strangers were female. "Fru yna oui? Vnus frana ryja oui lusa?"
Daniel shook his head. "I have absolutely no idea what he’s saying. There aren’t any root derivatives that I recognize."
"Try Goa’uld. It seems to be a universal constant," Jack suggested.
With a single nod of his head, Daniel moved to stand beside Jack, shoulder to shoulder. "We come in peace. We mean you no harm."
The frown on the man’s face deepened. He turned to the group of villagers gathered to his right, watching the team closely, as if they had no idea what to expect. "Veht dra umt syh!"
One of the villagers, a boy of perhaps ten or so, turned away from the group, ran through the dusty street and dashed into a small hut at the very edge of the village.
"What was that about?" Jack asked, speaking out of the side of his mouth, trying to maintain a serene facade.
"No idea," Daniel responded. "He might have sent that boy to get someone to communicate with us. It’s possible he recognized the Goa’uld, but doesn’t speak it."
The men of the village, most of them holding rakes or shovels, were slowly surrounding the team.
"Relax, campers. Don’t make any sudden moves," Jack said, his voice low, carefully controlled. "Danny, now would be a real good time to explain we’re just here for a friendly visit."
"We come in peace,"Daniel repeated. "We aren’t your enemy. We only wish to visit with you."
There was no response from the people gathered around them, although the bald, scarred man continued to glare at them.
An old man, his short white hair wrapped around his head like a wreath, stepped out of the tiny cottage, and stared in their direction. His beard, just as white as his hair, seemed all the whiter in contrast to the green hue of his skin, and reached to the belt that wrapped around the simple tunic he wore. Bent with age, the old man shuffled toward them. Watery brown eyes studied the strangers carefully. He nodded slightly, the only display of friendliness, such as it was, that had been offered so far.
"We’re peaceful explorers," Daniel said quietly. "We come in peace."
The old man shook his head. "It has been many years since I’ve heard the tongue of the gods spoken."
Daniel almost collapsed with relief. Not being able to vocally communicate with the locals was always a hindrance, as well as a danger. Casey’s warnings had them on edge to begin with, not being able to speak to these people would have made that tension much worse. Having these villagers sense that tension could be deadly if it were misconstrued. "My friends and I come in peace."
"So you say," the old man replied warily.
"My name is Daniel Jackson. What is your name?"Daniel asked politely.
The old man hesitated for a moment. His gaze moved from Daniel, to the disapproving stare of the village elder. There was a tense moment of silence, as the old man seemed to contemplate his options. Raising his chin slightly, his eyes returned to Daniel. "Sawyer."
"Well, Sawyer, we’d like to get to know you and your people."
"They’re not ‘my’ people," Sawyer replied, an edge of bitterness in each word. He looked again at the black garbed man. "Ech’d dryd cu, Kyemmynt? E’s zicd dra umt syh fru ghufc ruf du raym ouin fuihtc, frah du bmyhd ouin lnubc. Dra uidcetan fedruid frus oui’t hajan cinjeja!"
The villagers shifted nervously, murmuring amongst themselves, fear-filled eyes darting back and forth from the old man to the man who was obviously the leader, and a cruel man if reactions were anything to go by.
"Tu hud dacd so bydeahla, umt syh! E luimt caa oui cduhat pavuna dra tyo’c aht!" the leader growled.
The members of SG-1 were now shifting from foot to foot. There was a threat in whatever it was the man had said. "Danny?" Jack asked, the lilt of his voice belying his increasing fears.
"Sawyer, would you please tell your leader...er...the leader of these people, that we’d like to visit with them?"Daniel said.
The old man looked at the young man with the sandy-blonde hair and the odd blue eyes. Gave a sharp nod of his head. Lifted a gnarled hand to point to the team as he spoke. "Draca baubma lusa eh bayla. Vun cusa naycuh, drao pameaja oui’na fundro uv vneahtcreb."
The man in the black robe, Daniel speculated silently that he was considered a priest of some sort, stood in front of the team. Scrutinized them carefully. His displeasure at Sam and Casey’s presence came through loud and clear. The thunderous look on his face had only darkened as he studied them, the gentle features of their beautiful faces plainly visible, their feminine curves not completely hidden by the clothes they wore. Without a word, he marched toward the platform that Casey had described to her teammates.
Sawyer tugged on his white beard, shook his head and mumbled beneath his breath, then motioned that the team should follow him.
"I guess we should follow," Daniel said, somewhat nervously.
The team fell into step behind the old man, matching their strides with his, taking their time to reach the thick, green grass that covered the square plot of ground. A plain, wooden dais on one side the only other embellishment.
"There it is," Casey whispered, nodding subtly toward the chair that the leader settled his impressive bulk into.
Yep, there it was. It wasn’t easy to see, the priest with the bad attitude was sitting on it, his robe covering the majority of it. Catching the attention of his friend and CO, Daniel pointed subtly with his chin.
Jack grimaced slightly. Okay, so the chair that the big green guy was sitting on was part of the weapon. How in the hell were they going to convince a bunch of primitive, frightened people to let them have the king’s throne? "Not much to it," he noted.
"Look at the bottom of the seat," Sam whispered. "That has to be at least six inches deep. I’d say that what makes it important to the weapon is inside it."
"Any clue on how to get that thing away from Mr. Chuckles?" Jack asked.
"Not yet," Daniel murmured. Although the beginnings of an idea were starting to form. One of the universal constants seemed to be that absolute power corrupted absolutely. And those who held that power often had egos that outstripped their common sense, and usually their intellect as well.
"Better start thinking," Jack grumbled.
"E ys Kyemmynt, Naldun vun dra jemmyka uv Csymm Jymmao."
"His name is Gaillard, he’s rector for the village,"Sawyer translated, stumbled slightly over Daniel’s name when giving the archaeologist’s response.
The rector looked from Jack to Daniel and back again. "Du frelr kut tu oui bnyo?"
Daniel looked expectantly at the old man.
Who sighed heavily. "He wants to know who you pray to."
"Uh oh," Daniel muttered. "He wants to know who we pray to." Blue eyes sought green. "How should I answer?"
Casey’s gaze remained locked with Daniel’s. She wanted to reach for him, feel his arms around her, but realized that in that moment, it probably wasn’t a good idea. She struggled to keep her mind clear, waiting for any hints to drop into her consciousness. Shook her head slightly. "Sorry, Stud Muffin. I’m not getting anything."
"Stick with the truth," Jack suggested.
The man sitting on the platform watched the strangers. His question was simple enough...why was there discussion about it? Or were these strangers among those who worshipped many gods? Did each of the sinners pray to a different god...to false gods?
Jack held Gaillard’s gaze, the action having more affect than he would ever realize.
Daniel turned to the old man, "We believe in one God. But we call Him by many names. And we each pray to Him in our own way."
The old man nodded, and addressed the leader. "Drao funcreb dra dnia Kut. Drao funcreb eh draen ufh fyo. Ihrehtanat."
The dark eyes of the leader narrowed. "E ys dra juela uv Kut vun drec jemmyka. Ra cbaygc du dra baubma uhmo drnuikr sa."
"He claims to be the voice of God, and the only one in the village God can be bothered to speak to,"Sawyer translated. Watched with secret delight as the man with the silver hair rolled his eyes. Apparently that man wasn’t a ‘believer’. Interesting that the others accepted him so easily. Unless they were non-believers as well. And that, the old man grinned mentally, was a pleasant thought to contemplate.
"So what we have is a group of religious lunatics," Jack sighed. Great. That made getting that chair all the more challenging. Nothing like trying to steal the seat of the ‘voice of God’.
"Seems that way." Daniel glanced at Gaillard, then returned his attention to Jack. "I think I have an idea. I’m just not certain it will work."
"And your idea is...?"
"We trade a chair for the one he’s sitting on."
"Right. You think he’s going to be interested in one of the mess hall chairs? Or one from the conference room?"
"If we could decorate it a bit, that might help," Casey offered.
"Maybe he’d like a nice gold chair," Sam said quietly.
Jack frowned. "Carter? Are ya getting enough oxygen to your brain?"
She shook her head, tried to hide her grin. "There’s gold paint on the Daedalus. It’s a special mix of metal ores, and lead based, to prevent any energy readings from being emitted. There’s real gold in it as well, which helps to keep the other ores from corroding as quickly. It’s used to coat the inside of every power box on the ship."
Daniel grinned. "I think we have a plan."
"You really think you can just offer him a gold chair, and he’ll let us have that one?" Jack asked incredulously.
"Do you have a better idea?" Daniel challenged.
"Get to it, Danny. This place is creeping me out," Jack replied. The last time he’d been so disconcerted, Casey had wound up in Ba’al’s clutches, a thought that did little to calm him. The head’s up about spending time in that cage affair at the edge of the village had him ready to turn around and leave, and reporting that the chair was of no consequence to them. My luck the damned snakes would find it and be able to build the rest of the weapon around it, just by looking at what’s in that thing, he grumbled silently. Which meant that he and his kids were stuck in this village until they could convince the not-so-jolly Green Giant to part with it.
Daniel turned to face Gaillard, stepping forward slightly. He dropped his pack to the ground, put his P90 on top of it, and bowed low. "Forgive us for not recognizing the Hand of God. We have traveled far, and it’s been a long time since we have been in the presence of one so distinguished."
Gaillard sat forward. The stranger was beginning to show him the respect he deserved. Nodded with approval when the man’s companions followed suit, although their slight nods were not the bows he should have received from them. Waited until Sawyer had interpreted the man’s words. "Vunkejahacc ec knyhdat. Fryd tu oui caag vnus sa?"
Sawyer gave a quiet ‘hmmph’, then turned to Daniel. "He forgives you, as if it’s in his power to do so. And he wants to know what you want."
"We wish only to get to know your people,"Daniel replied.
"He’s going to want to know why,"the old man grunted.
"Because that’s what we do. We travel...in order to meet others. To learn from them. To teach them what we’ve learned,"Daniel said.
The old man grunted softly, then chuckled. Tossed a look of disdain at the man who glared impatiently, sitting on what was nothing less than a throne to the people of the village. "You’ll be wasting your time. Gaillard will allow no one to tell ‘his’ people anything. He keeps them in ignorance in order to control them. I’m alive only because I have knowledge of herbs to heal sicknesses, I can set a broken bone, or help a woman having difficulty during childbirth. I can read the signs of the seasons, know when to plant the gardens and the crops."
Gaillard slapped his hand down on the arm of the chair. "Fryd meac tu oui damm, umt syh?"
Daniel frowned. Two words sounded familiar. "Sawyer, ‘umt syh’, I recognize those words. What do they mean?"
Sawyer started, hoped to hide his surprise from the village leader by coughing slightly. There hadn’t been enough spoken for this man to have already learned words! Not unless there was something...special...about him. "Old man. Which is what I am."
"Don’t anger him," Daniel said quietly. "Please, tell him what I said, exactly. And repeat what he says...exactly, so that I don’t risk the safety of my friends, you, or myself, by inadvertently insulting him."
Rheumy brown eyes locked with clear, impossibly blue eyes. Saw the plea that the man hadn’t spoken. And the promise that hadn’t been voiced. "I will do as you ask."
Daniel nodded. Waited until Sawyer had translated his response to Gaillard’s question. Wasn’t surprised when the large man stared at him. Didn’t need a translator to understand the next question.
He gave a casual shrug of his wide shoulders, pushed his glasses up slightly. "We have nothing to hide." Daniel knew that he’d hit a nerve in the way that Gaillard looked around as Sawyer translated. As if challenging any of the villagers to speak out.
"Oui syo upcanja yc fa tu dra dycgc Kut ryc kejah ic du tu. Pid tu hud ehdanvana, hun cbayg du druca fru yna hud faynehk dra nupac uv dra teclebmac."
"He doesn’t care if you watch, but don’t attempt to talk to the villagers, don’t want to distract the people from their ‘god-given tasks’,"Sawyer said disdainfully. "If you need to speak to anyone, you have to talk to Gaillard, or his black-robed disciples."
As soon as Sawyer had translated, Daniel’s eyes skimmed over the gathered villagers. The only others wearing black robes were the two men standing behind Gaillard. Both were nearly as large as their leader. Neither looked very friendly. "I understand. With your permission, we’ll sit here in the grass, and watch from a distance. We have no wish to distract your people from their tasks."
Gaillard listened carefully as Sawyer translated, then nodded. "Drana femm pa y cbaleym saadehk duhekrd, eh ruhun uv ouin jeced."
Sawyer snorted softly. "He’s going to hold a special meeting tonight to honor your visit."
Daniel was listening carefully to every word spoken. There was something familiar about it. He didn’t recognize it as any of the languages, or bastardizations thereof, that he spoke. Still... "We are honored that you would do so," he said, not sure what the hell this ‘meeting’ might be. Better to sound grateful as to tick this guy off. At least for the moment.
Sawyer shook his white head slowly. "Some honor. You’ll spend three hours listening to the word of God, according to Gaillard," he snorted. Turned to the impatient leader, his eyes, and his voice carried a warning. "Drao yna ruhunat. Oui cruimt dnayd dras famm. Draca cdnyhkanc luimt pa bufanvim ymmeac. Un tyhkanuic vuac. Lruuca fecamo, Kyemmynt."
Gaillard glared at the old man. Looked out among those gathered around, listening with open interest. "Ku ypuid ouin fung. Oui haat hud luhlanh ouincamjac fedr draca...jecedunc.."
Again the old man snorted. "There will be not one of these ‘good folk’ who will speak to you now. You might as well make yourselves invisible, for all the attention you’ll garner. They won’t even dare to look in your direction."
Daniel nodded his understanding.
"Upcanja yc oui femm, pid nasaspan so fynhehk." Gaillard said, his dark eyes boring into Daniel’s.
Sawyer translated the words, an admonishment to obey the leader, then added a warning of his own. He promised to return as soon as he had finished tasks interrupted by the team’s arrival.
The minute the ugly guy on the chair had spoken...loudly, the villagers had scurried back to whatever they had been doing, not even glancing over at the team. Which was really rather bizarre, Casey thought. There was something about this place. Something cold, dark. Not exactly evil...she’d felt evil. Shivered slightly in spite of the sunshine that warmed her. But there was...something. She wondered if Daniel felt the tension as well. Glanced over at him. Saw the frown that furrowed his brow. Dared to step closer, put her hand on his arm. "Just relax, what you’re looking for is there. Just let it come to you."
He glanced down at her. "Huh?"
"Huh, what? I was just going to ask if everything is okay," Casey replied.
He barely refrained from dropping a kiss on her forehead. Satisfied himself to give her a subtle wink. "So far, so good."
"So what’s going on?" Jack asked, stepping closer to the archaeologist..
"We’re free to sit here and watch. We can’t talk to these people, or get near them. And tonight, we’ll be going to a meeting. Apparently it’s being held in our honor," Daniel replied.
"According to Sawyer, we’re attending services. For about three hours," Daniel explained.
"It might help me...there’s something about this language. I think I’ve heard it before, somewhere." Daniel grinned at his Wife. "And, according to Casey, I just need to relax and let that information come to me."
"I hate when that happens," Casey muttered under her breath, but not low enough to keep her teammates from hearing it, which was apparent when they all chuckled softly.
"So, did you ask him about swapping chairs with us?" Jack asked.
"Not yet. I’m going to have to wait for the right moment," Daniel said. "I was thinking, since it looks as if we’re going to be spending the night here, tomorrow we could tell them we need to continue our journey. Then, before we leave, I’ll see if I can appeal to Gaillard’s ego."
"That’s Scarface’s name?" Jack asked, looking up at where the man sat watching the activity around him as if he were indeed a king.
"Do you really think you can talk him into trading?"
Daniel shrugged. "I can only try. If we can’t get it that way, we’ll have to find another way."
"If one of us can get close enough to it, we can put a homing device on it, and just beam it to the ship," Sam suggested.
"We’ll try diplomacy first," Daniel said, looking at Jack. "Right?"
"Sure, right," Jack agreed, although begrudgingly.
The comment Sam had made caught her attention. Poked at her. But Casey had no clue why.
Gaillard motioned to his assistants. "We must not let these strangers speak with our people. They must have come from very far away, look at their manner of clothing! And that the women are dressed as the men-"
"Sacrilege!" one of the men hissed angrily.
Heavy eyebrows deepened into a fierce frown. "They will attempt to spread their heresy among the believers. If they do not accept our ways tonight, then come dawn we will stone them."
The disciples nodded.
"If Sawyer spends time with them, let me know. He’s enough of a danger to our control without the wicked ideas of outsiders muddying up his already clouded mind."
Again, the disciples nodded.
"Wanna bet we’re the topic of that conversation," Jack said quietly, watching Gaillard and his two black-cloaked friends.
"No doubt," Daniel replied.
There wasn’t anything the team could do about the situation, not if they wanted a chance to get that chair. At least, get it without causing any hostility.
The afternoon was growing warmer, and the team, still sitting in the open on the grass, removed BDU shirts. Casey had opened her bottle of sunscreen, and was applying it liberally to arms left bare by her tee shirt; her teammates following suit.
There was no doubt that they were being watched, although those eyes were well hidden inside the dim interiors of the small houses that surrounded the square on three sides. What the locals thought about the bare arms, and the fact that the strangers didn’t seem to find anything wrong with applying lotion to their skin, in the open, was something that the members of SG-1 would never be entirely certain. They had, however, created a buzz among the people who did their best to pretend to ignore the strangers. What the local leader thought, however, was about to become perfectly clear.
Gaillard gasped out loud at the display. He cleared his throat, hoping to get the attention of the annoying, and obviously dangerous, visitors. He didn’t want to make a scene, he had no doubt that his inability to communicate directly with these strangers had already weakened his position. His claims of being all-knowing were at risk, and he dare not give the few who grumbled at every turn a reason to begin to openly question him. When not one of the five looked in his direction, he cleared his throat again.
Casey glanced over her shoulder. The man still sitting in the chair was staring at them, and if the look on his face was anything to go by, he was madder than hell about something. She poked Daniel in the side. "I think Scarface is about to throw a temper tantrum."
He had felt the slightest bit uneasy when the green eyes of the woman had focused on him. When four heads swung around, all of them watching him with expressions of open curiosity, and not a little disrespect, he didn’t know whether to shout at them for their impudence, or pretend not to notice them at all. Gaillard felt a moment of panic. He held control of the village, but just barely. Only the fear he had instilled in the villagers saw him sitting on the throne.
"Yep, looks like he’s unhappy about something," Jack said.
Daniel looked around, studied the villagers for a few minutes. Noted how they were dressed, the way the women were covered from head to foot, only a few wisps of hair visible beneath those huge bonnets. "I think we might have offended him," he said softly. "Apparently women aren’t allowed to be as...exposed...as Sam and Casey are. Even the men are all wearing long sleeved-shirts."
"Sort of like the Amish," Casey mused.
"Similar, but this group seems totally fanatical," Daniel said.
"I get the feeling it’s not so much by choice," Jack replied.
"Sawyer certainly doesn’t seem to like Gaillard," Daniel admitted.
"Whatever he said, when he first started translating for you, had these villagers upset," Sam noted. "There were several, standing toward the back, who started whispering back and forth."
"Well, let’s just remember what we’re here for," Jack said, holding Daniel with a firm gaze. "We’re here for that chair, and nothing else. Any political changes will have to be made by these people, all by themselves."
"Daniel, we don’t know for certain that they disagree with this Gay-lard guy. For all we know, they could think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread," Jack said.
He took a breath, then blew it out slowly. Hated to admit that Jack was right. "The chair," Daniel mumbled softly.
Casey took his hand between hers. "Stud Muffin, for all we know, just our being here will be enough to spur change, if that’s what these people really want."
How like her to want to offer him solace, he thought, grateful for her love and understanding. A glance up at the man who continued to glare at them. Screw him. Daniel reached out and cupped Casey’s cheek, dared to run his thumb over her full bottom lip. "Thanks, Angel."
"Anytime," she replied, smiling gently.
Jumping to his feet, Gaillard stomped down the steps of the platform. "Fa femm hud ced rana yht fedhacc drec raydrah tecbmyo! Oui femm yllusbyho ic du dra dasbma, yht bnyo dryd Kut femm cyja ouin pmylg cuimc!"
The team rose to their feet, watching with increasing alarm as the leader and his two henchmen approached. Whatever he'd said, it caused the villagers to stop and watch the commotion.
Gaillard grabbed Casey by the arm, yanked her in the direction of the church.
"Hey!" Daniel said, reaching for her. The black-robed assistant closest to him shoved him back.
"Let’s go," Jack said, already moving. He had his P90 up, ready to fire. But damn it, there were kids playing in the dusty street, and he sure as hell didn’t want to expose them to the aftermath of what the weapon could do.
Daniel had already pushed the man who had attempted to stop him out of the way, and was running after Gaillard and his Wife.
Casey’s green eyes were wide, but when she looked up at him, the depths showed her anger, not her fear. She tried to pull away, but the vise-like grip the man had on her only tightened. "Ow! You’re hurting me!"
Those words were all it took for Daniel to close the distance. He firmly took Gaillard’s arm, pried his thick fingers from Casey’s slender forearm. Before he could say a thing, the two assistants had arrived, and took his arms in their powerful grasp. He was shoved forward, as Gaillard once again grabbed hold of Casey.
The odd parade…made up of Gaillard, his henchmen, and Daniel and Casey…marched into the ‘church’, up the middle of the building, past the rows of plain wooden benches, toward a lectern. On the tall pulpit a symbol, similar to the one on the door, had been burned into the wood. Behind it was a large tapestry. Daniel tried frantically to take in as much as he could of the ‘story’ being told, in an attempt to figure out just who, or what, these people worshipped.
Shoved to their knees, their heads forcefully pushed down, Casey and Daniel were flanked by the robed men. Gaillard stood in front of them, opened a large, leather bound book, and began to read from it.
Jack, Teal’c, and Sam arrived in the building seconds behind their friends, just ahead of a group of agitated on-lookers. Before they were aware of being surrounded, their weapons had been pulled from their hands, and they were shoved to their knees behind their teammates.
The benches filled with villagers, and Gaillard continued to read.
The sun was arcing toward the horizon when Sawyer finished tying the last of the herbs. He’d barely finished before they’d begun drying. Had that happened, they would have become useless to him. He stretched, cursing the aches of his aging body. Stepped out of his house. Not one of his neighbors could be seen. The visitors weren’t sitting on the grass of the square. Which meant...
Shaking his head, he hurried toward the building that represented all that he hated about this place. He’d never set foot in it. Had never been ‘invited’ by Gaillard, nor by the scarred man’s followers...his neighbors.
The door of the ‘church’ slammed open. Every head in the room turned to stare. Gasps went up among the villagers, who poked one another in surprise as the old man hobbled up the aisle.
"Ruf tyna oui ehdanvan!" Gaillard roared.
"Ruf tyna oui dnayd draca baubma yc ev drao’na yc paydah yc dra craab oui mayt!"
Daniel looked up, raised his hand slightly. "Sawyer, it was just a misunderstanding."
"He rages at my ‘insult’ to him by arriving here," the old man huffed, "yet dares to treat you as if you’re nothing more than the sheep of this village!"
"We take no offense," Daniel said quietly. He was certain that their ‘behavior’ had been insulting to the villagers. The team, he believed, was at fault for the misunderstanding, by simply forgetting where they were, and doing what they always did on a mission.
"You are a kind and generous man."Sawyer stepped closer. Took Teal’c’s arm, tugged until the Jaffa was standing. Repeated the gesture with each of the team members, pushing the two robed assistants out of the way when helping Casey and Daniel to their feet.
"Oui femm damm sa fryd dra cehhan cyet!" Gaillard snarled, his dark eyes narrowed. Listened carefully as Sawyer spoke, repeating...as ordered...what Daniel had said. Without seeming to do so, the scarred man scanned the faces of his followers. What he did in the next few moments would see him retain his control, or lose it forever.
Daniel turned to face the rector. "We meant no offense to you or your people, and we apologize if we’ve inadvertently broken any of your laws."
Gaillard pulled his mouth into a firm line as the old man translated. The apology was sincere, the tone of voice proved that.
"Evening will be here soon, my friends and I need to make our camp. We’d like to do so nearby, it that’s permissible?"
Sawyer nodded, then once again translated. "Tu hud yhkan draca baubma, Kyemmynt. Drao luimt gemm ymm uv ic. Oui ryja ehcimdat dras, oad drao luhdehia du dnayd oui fedr bumedahacc, yht gehthacc dryd oui tu hud tacanja."
Jack shifted from one foot to the other. Sure would like to know what the old man said, he thought...the tone of voice indicated he was trying to impart a bit of friendly advice to Scarface.
Gaillard raised his chin, looked down at the old man. He no longer feared that these people would corrupt the old man. He was certain now that there was no hope of saving Sawyer. This was the final act of rebellion that would allow him to finally get rid of the bastard. "Cehla oui caas cu vuht uv draca cehhanc, mad dras cbaht dra hekrd fedr oui."
Sawyer smiled. "Ev drao femm tu sa dra ruhun uv cbahtehk dra hekrd eh so rispma yputa, ed femm pa so bmaycina du uvvan ymm dryd E ryja."
Daniel waited, his outward appearance calm enough to soothe his teammates. His palms were sweating, his heart pounding. Whatever had been said, seemed to be between Sawyer and Gaillard. He fought down his frustration as he continued to feel as if he should know the language, able to discern a word here or a short phrase there.
"If you would be willing to indulge an old man,"Sawyer said, "I’d be proud to offer shelter for the night in my home."
"We’d be honored,"Daniel smiled.
"No, young man, you...and your friends...honor me."
Jack glanced around him. The P90’s had been stacked in one corner. "Danny, I’m not leaving here without my weapon."
"Me, either," Casey declared, shooting a cold look at Gaillard.
Teal’c walked to the corner, swept the straps of the weapons into his hand. No one made a move to stop him, nor uttered one word of protest. Armed, the team followed Sawyer out of the church.
Gaillard’s voice followed, although they had no idea what he was saying.
The rector pulled himself to his full height, towering over the villagers who had risen to their feet when Sawyer had appeared. Glared at the people, making certain all had lowered their eyes before speaking. "Fa femm byno dryd draca cehhanc femm veht draen fy du Kut." The entire congregation fell to their knees, and began to pray.
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