Changing of the Guard 2: The Ninth Chevron

Sequel: Second in series

Feedback: Comments, flames, superfluous remarks and vicious character 
assassination may be cheerfully sent to:

Disclaimer: Okay, so a few of the characters in this story actually 
belong to me, but I'm still not making any money off
the others. But please, go ahead and sue me anyway. If fact, I'll make 
you a deal. You help me gain fame and notoriety --
and I'll help your lawyers spend all that retainer money!

Author's note: For the sake of readability in most cases modern place 
names and descriptions of certain artifacts have
been used. Purists will cringe, but hey, a cup is a cup is a cup.

Note to canon junkies: Yes, I fudged a little in this one -- a couple 
of minor points -- but if the producers/writers
can't be bothered to follow canon from episode to episode and movie to 
movie why should I? 

Personal note: Many thanks to Arameth for diabolical and fiendish 
torment of the author, guidance and without whom none of
this would be possible. To Daisy, for just being there. And to Karoshi, 
for painlessly picking out the nits. Everyone
should be so lucky! 

In Memorium: One more for Estella, who left the way she lived -- with 
dignity and style.


Reconnaissance Mission: Planet P7X4238

"Well they certainly weren't very friendly," Jack O'Neill muttered 
sullenly, holding a thick square of gauze to his forehead where a small 
stone had hit him.

"I told you they wouldn't be," Methos shrugged, rubbing his shoulder. 
The rock hadn't been very big, but whoever had thrown it had put their 
all into the gesture. A few shots from a zat gun and the attendant 
electrical show that went with it had frightened the rest of the 
villagers off, but not before they'd done some damage, however slight 
that was.

"How did you know?" Samantha Carter asked, easing a knot out of her 

"Call it deja vu, Major," Methos smiled grimly. "I sort of knew their 

Daniel Jackson looked up from where he knelt over his pack. "I thought 
I recognized the clothing style. Early Mesopotamian, right?"

"Very early," Methos agreed. "Pre-bronze age, in fact."

"Must have been caught up in a Goa'uld slave run," O'Neill commented, 
checking the gauze to see whether the flow of blood had stopped. "Good 
enough," he mumbled, tossing the pad aside. "Come on, let's get back to 
the gate. Teal'c!" he called and the dark skinned Jaffa, who'd been 
guarding the clearing while they saw to their wounds came over. "Take 
point," he ordered as he stood. "Carter, watch our asses."

"Yes, sir," she responded as they moved out.

Methos fell in beside O'Neill and Daniel, also keeping an eye out for 
any villagers who might have gotten their courage back. He doubted it, 
but there was always a first time.

They'd walked about half a mile before Daniel finally spoke up. "Deja 
vu, huh?" he asked softly. "How many times did it happen?"

"Enough," Methos responded lightly. "People weren't very friendly 
towards strangers in those days. Not if they looked substantially 
different from what they imagined a normal human should look like. You 
couldn't even call it racism. It was just otherness that was 

"What did you do?"

"What any sensible being would," Methos shrugged. "I hid. Found some 
nice comfy caves and stayed well away from everyone."

Daniel looked shocked. "For how long?"

"I don't know," Methos admitted with a dismissive shrug. "A few hundred 
years, maybe more. I didn't keep track. It's all a sort of blur to me 
now. Just hunting for food and trying to stay alive, mostly."

"So you knew you were Immortal?"

Methos sighed, finally giving into the idea that the questions wouldn't 
stop until something else distracted Daniel. "I knew I was different, 
but I didn't know why. Five thousand years ago I had no memories, 

"Right," Daniel nodded. "So, how did you find out?"

"The same day I took my first head," he murmured, remembering the 
moment. "I was fishing."

"Fishing?" Jack asked, suddenly interested.

Methos grinned. The colonel had been listening, but unlike Daniel never 
dreamed of asking prying, uncomfortable questions. "Not for sport, for 
food. The lake wasn't very big and it was close to one of the villages 
I avoided, but I wanted some water reeds for making rope and I was 
hungry, so I fished."

"What happened?" Daniel asked as they started to climb one of several 
hills that led back to the gate.

"A man showed up. Not much different from the villagers in looks, but 
he had an ax. A very big bronze ax. He shouted something to the effect 
that he was going to cut off my head and swallow my soul, which as you 
can imagine rather shocked me. I was used to sticks and stones -- being 
driven away -- although one village headman decided he wanted to eat my 
demon heart which was what made me hide in the first place. But no one 
had ever just come out and said they were going to kill me without 
reason. And he wasn't frightened of me, which I found puzzling." Not to 
mention, he thought wryly, that his stomach had been twisted in knots 
and his head buzzing so loudly he'd though he'd lose his mind.

"Well, he obviously didn't take your head," O'Neill pointed out.

"No," Methos agreed. "He might have had an ax, but I had a fishing 
spear -- and I wasn't shy about using it. Idiot never even got close."

"Then you took his head," Daniel surmised.

"I'd like to say yes," Methos grinned ruefully. "To say that I stood 
there all proud and manly thinking, 'Take my head, will you?! I'll show 
you, pond scum!' But I was just as terrified of him as the villagers 
were of me."

"Why?" O'Neill asked, surprised.

"I'd never seen bronze before. And he hadn't been the least bit afraid 
of me. I knew I wasn't a demon, but maybe he was. When I finally pulled 
myself together and got my spear out of his chest I stopped to look at 
the ax. He revived while I was examining it and I was so startled... I 
mean, he came back to life just like I did and he'd already said he 
wanted to eat my soul. So, I hit him with it. And that's when my fear 
turned to anger and I chopped off his head along with some other bits 
and pieces."

"Sounds messy," O'Neill grimaced.

"Extremely," Methos allowed. "But then, what did I know? I thought if I 
hit it enough times it would stay down. And somewhere in there his 
Quickening showed up and I thought, 'Run!' So I did, but it caught me. 
After that," he shrugged. "I had some of his memories and I knew what I 
was. And what I was supposedly supposed to do."

"Not a very pleasant introduction to Immortality," Daniel commented 
softly as they reached the Stargate.

"No," Methos agreed, watching Carter punch in the address home. "But it 
got me out of those damn caves. And no one threw stones at me anymore 
-- because now I had a big bronze ax and I wasn't shy about using it."

To one side of him, Jack was snickering, while Daniel looked appalled. 
The gate opened and they headed through. Another mission accomplished. 
Sort of.

Chapter 1

"That was great!" O'Neill shouted as they left the arena in Colorado 
Springs. Behind them a huge neon sign blinked, 'In Concert! Bruce 
Springsteen and the E Street Band! One Night Only!' 

"Yeah, thanks, Adam," Daniel grinned. "At least this time we didn't 
have to hitchhike."

Methos rolled his eyes, looking over his shoulder to where Samantha and 
Dr. Fraiser followed. Beside him, Teal'c was still rubbing his ears, 
but smiling. "I can't believe you've worked together this long and only 
just discovered there was one thing you all had in common."

"It's that close knit fraternity thing we've got going," Jack remarked 
as he led the way to the parking lot. "Head banging doesn't generally 
come up at the debriefing."

"Guess not," Methos grinned as Samantha suddenly smiled in his 
direction. A little of the ice between them seemed to have thawed, he 
thought relieved. It wasn't exactly bribery, but getting his hands on 
six front row seats to the hottest ticket in town had been a stroke of 
genius. More importantly, Carter was looking at him as something more 
akin to human and less like a potential science project. And if 
watching him dance and scream with 30,000 other music lovers was what 
it took to get him off her list of things to do, Methos was just as 
happy to do it.

"Food?" Jack asked a few minutes later as everyone climbed into the van 
he'd borrowed. 

A chorus of "Yeah!" with accompanying nods greeted his suggestion. 

"Okay. Where to?"

"Let's try that new place," Samantha suggested. "Bellinni's, over on 
Ninth. One of the techs mentioned they had a great menu."

"The one that's got it's own micro brewery?" Methos asked. He'd been 
meaning to check the place out, but had been too busy getting his new 
apartment in order between missions.

Daniel laughed as Carter nodded. "You never could pass up a beer."

"Not a decent one at any rate," Methos agreed. "Or the occasional fine 
wine. Not to mention a good sherry or glass of properly aged whiskey, 
brandy, or bourbon."

Dr. Fraiser cleared her throat. "Unless someone mentions the words 
designated driver," she threatened cheerfully. "I'm going to schedule 
all of you for a liver biopsy."

"That's me," O'Neill raised his hand. "Keep your scalpel sheathed, 

"So it's Bellinni's," Samantha grinned. "Take Main to--"

"I know how to get there, Carter," O'Neill interrupted in exasperation 
just as his cell phone rang. "Damn," he muttered, fishing it out of his 

He answered, frowning as he listened. "Yes, sir. We'll be there in half 
an hour." O'Neill snapped it shut, slipping it back into his pocket. 
"Sorry, kids," he told them, turning in the opposite direction from 
where they'd planned to go. "We're back on the clock."

"What's up?" Daniel asked.

"One of our satellites picked up something in the Egyptian desert," he 
explained briefly. "Outline makes it look to be a Goa'uld transport 
ship. But nobody's sure."

"Why not?" Methos asked, surprised.

O'Neill shrugged. "Guess we'll find out, won't we?"


"This is familiar," Methos grumbled as he stepped out of the small 
passenger jet and onto the tarmac at the airfield in Cairo.

"That's my line," O'Neill muttered as he came from behind. "God, I hate 
commercial flights."

Methos grimaced as they waited for the rest of the team then followed 
the other passengers to customs. They'd taken the long route to Egypt. 
A military transport had left them in Denver where a connecting flight 
brought them to Chicago. From there they'd flown to Athens, switched 
carries to board yet another plane to Alexandria and then another, 
smaller jet to the local airport in Cairo. "I still say we should have 
flown O'Neill Airlines," he sighed. "But then why listen to me? What do 
I know about the desert?"

"This isn't about the desert," O'Neill reminded him. "It's about 
following the letter of the law--"

"If not the spirit."

"--of our little agreement with the Russians," O'Neill finished. "They 
shut down their Stargate and we share whatever knowledge we gather 
through ours."

"And since this mission technically has nothing to do with the 
Stargate," Methos added with a wry twist of his lips. "Your government 
feels safe playing fast and loose with the terms of the agreement. 
Because, as we all know, the Egyptians are allies of the Russians. I do 
get it, Jack. I just don't happen to agree. The free flow of 
information is important for a free society to flourish. "

"This isn't about information. It's about tactics. It was a tactical 
decision to go in undercover. And who says we won't share?"

"No one, Jack. Forget I even mentioned it." 

"Mentioned what?" O'Neill grinned as they entered the main airport 
building and lined up. 

Customs was a hassle, but they got through it and Methos was simply 
relieved to have his sword back and quite content to let Daniel take 
care of the petty details like taxis, hotels, currency exchanges and 
what not. An hour later they were safely ensconced in a moderately 
priced, yet comfortable suite at one of the less expensive hotels. 
Daniel divvied up the keys and gave out the room assignments. Carter, 
of course, had her own bedroom, while Teal'c and O'Neill took the back 
room that overlooked the inner courtyard. He and the Immortal would 
take the front room with its grand view of the pyramids.

Methos tossed his bag on the floor beside the bed nearest the door and 
threw himself down on the mattress, sighing with relief as a cool 
breeze from the air conditioner caressed his skin.

"You know," he drawled, closing his eyes as Daniel came in. "You might 
have let Jack and Teal'c take the room with the view. Rank should have 
its privileges."

"Jack hates the pyramids," Daniel said as he started to unpack. "They 
remind him of what they're bases for. Goa'uld ships. And Teal'c doesn't 
care. Besides," he added quietly. "I thought you might appreciate it."

Methos laughed softly. "Old home week? Not me. Never had much use for 
pyramids. Interesting structures, but I remember my first view of them 
when they still had their limestone facings and the priestly caste 
reigned supreme along the Nile."

Daniel paused and waited, but Methos remained silent. "So? What did you 
think of them that first time?"

"Incredible. Huge. Grandiose. Monuments to the gigantic egos of dead 
men who deserved much less than they thought they were worth. 
Although," he added thoughtfully, finally opening his eyes to stare at 
the ceiling. "I did like Hatshepsut. She certainly deserved to be 
remembered. Even if she did look a bit silly in that beard all the 
pharaohs wore."

"You knew Hatshepsut?" Daniel asked, quietly stunned.

Methos shook his head and sat up. "Nope. Saw her once in a procession 
though. She was fairly old, but her eyes were piercingly bright -- made 
me think of crocodiles floating in the river on a moonlit night. 
Beautiful and deadly in a horrific sort of way."

In silence, Daniel watched as Methos removed his sword from its travel 
case and carefully laid it under the bed.

"Uh, is there something going on here that I'm missing?" he finally 

"No more than usual," Methos grinned and toed off his sneakers. 

Daniel nodded slowly. "Jack won't let anything happen to you, Adam. Not 
even if he has to risk his own life. And neither will I."

"Thank you," he answered sincerely. "That's a lovely sentiment. But 
I'll warn you now. Never interfere in what I am or what I might have to 

"But it's sick!" Daniel responded vehemently.

"Perhaps it is," Methos told him mildly. "But it's our way and I accept 
it. Now, I'm going to take a very long, very hot shower. Why don't you 
order everyone up some room service."

Daniel shook his head as the door closed behind Methos and he went to 
the phone. He would never understand how anyone, least of all someone 
as seemingly well balanced as his friend, could accept genocide as a 
way of life. On the other hand, what choice did he have?


An hour later, feeling refreshed and relaxed in a clean pair of jeans 
and a light cotton shirt, Methos wandered barefoot into the central 
living room following the scent of food. He smiled appreciatively as he 
lifted the various tray covers, finding a good mix of traditional 
Egyptian foods. He filled a plate with spicy lamb stew and flat bread, 
grabbed a bottle of Egyptian beer then found the remote, turned on the 
television and started flipping around the satellite. 

"Anything good on?" Samantha asked as she came out of her room, dressed 
similarly in jeans and a tee shirt with her hair still slightly damp.

"Nope," he sighed and shut it off. "Ten thousand years of civilization 
and we're left with Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy reruns. Whatever 
happened to art?"

"I think it got lost somewhere between Bigfoot: Man or Myth and Big 
Rigs: The Accidents We Love To Watch."

Methos laughed and pointed to the dinner cart. "Try the lamb. It's 

She did as he suggested and curled up on the love seat across from him 
to eat. "This is good," she said after taking a tentative bite. "My mom 
used to make something similar except with beef."

Methos nodded. "Modern Greek cooking."

"Dad was stationed in Athens for a year," she agreed.

"So, where is everybody?" Methos finally asked as he put his plate 
aside and settled back with his beer.

Between bites Samantha responded. "Colonel O'Neill's at the embassy 
getting our gear." 

Methos nodded. That would be the classified stuff and ordinance they 
couldn't take on a commercial flight. 

"Teal'c's meditating, and Daniel's off to look up an old colleague 
whose working on an archaeological dig not far from the coordinates the 
satellite identified."

"Trying to find out if he's seen anything unusual in the area," Methos 

"She," Carter corrected with a brief nod. "From what I gather they were 
pretty close for a while. He's hoping to wrangle an invite for us out 
to the site."

"Whatever for?" Methos asked, getting up from his seat to stretch and 
make his way over to the tall French doors which dominated the room. 
The late afternoon sun lit the Nile and across her gleaming surface lay 
the distant pyramids of Giza. 

"Cover," Samantha explained. "The colonel wants to rent a jeep to take 
us out there. As long as it looks legitimate at the start, he figures 
we can detour and head anywhere we want."

Methos nodded absently and stepped out onto the balcony. It was a good 
plan and he didn't doubt that Daniel would wrangle his way back into 
his old flame's good graces. The boy could be positively charming when 
he recollected he was a man and not a human history machine. Behind 
him, Methos heard the quiet clink of china as Carter put down her plate 
and the soft whisper of cloth as she joined him on the terrace. For a 
long time they stood quiet, just watching the sun lowering in the 
distance, until finally she spoke.

"What's it like to watch the world change?" she asked softly.

Methos gave her a puzzled look, not quite certain what she really 
wanted to know.

"I mean," she explained, managing to look vaguely embarrassed as well 
as extremely curious. "I can calculate the changes in the atmosphere, 
the geological shifts, all the variables and differentials of space 
until I know what stars were where and when and what it all must have 
looked like, but to see it all change in one lifetime... It's hard to 

Methos smiled kindly. "I'm not sure I can answer that. I'm not sure 
anyone really can. I guess it's like reading a book. The first page 
pulls you in and you just keep on from there, absorbing what comes. 
Some of the chapters are interesting, some of them not, but there's 
always another."

Her brow furrowed slightly as she thought about that. "But what do you 
see when you look out there?" Samantha nodded toward the monuments in 
the distance.

"Same as you," he shrugged and followed her gaze. "They're a bit more 
tattered and worn from my point of view, but still essentially the 
same. And down there," he added, leaning against the rail to gaze into 
the street below. "Strip away the cars, the buildings, all the modern 
appliances the world has grown to love and the people are exactly as 
they were when the pyramids were built. In one sense the pharaohs were 
right. Egypt is eternal. No matter how many armies have passed through 
here, none could ever truly conquer this land. As long as the people 
remain, Egypt lives. And as long as the Nile flows, the people will 

If she had any other questions the sound of a door opening and closing 
behind them put an end to it.

"Hey, campers! Look what Colonel Jack's got!" 

They turned as one, smiling as O'Neill set down his bags. 

"Get over here, Pierson. I need you to take a look at this map."

"I am ever obedient to your will, O Great Satan," he responded 
sardonically, sprawling on the couch.

"That's, O Great Satan, sir," Jack muttered absently, tossing him the 
map. "Now, be a good minion and find us a way around that Egyptian 
military operation that seems to have sprung up overnight."

Methos ignored the jibe and opened the map. "Wonderful," he sighed as 
he got a look at the latest satellite pass. "Guess we aren't the only 
interested parties in town."

Chapter 2

It was a long hot drive to Dr. Nazuq's camp. They'd left Cairo right 
after breakfast, renting a jeep as O'Neill had planned then taken the 
ferry across to Giza. From there, in the shadow of the pyramids, they 
followed her directions. There were no roads this far into the western 
desert and the doctor was not there to guide them, having returned to 
the site the previous evening with supplies. They traveled north along 
the river for an hour or so, turning west for the final leg. Not very 
deep into the desert, but far enough to make the vast ocean of sand 
around them seem daunting and endless.

"That's it," Jack called, spotting tents in the distance when they were 
a few miles out. "So," he turned to Daniel, who sat behind him with 
Teal'c and Carter. "What are they digging for?"

"A lost Egyptian city maybe," the archaeologist replied. "Doesn't have 
a name yet, but they've done some good work this season. Two rooms and 
a small shrine so far."

"They won't find much more," Methos advised. "This was only an outpost 
on the trade route to Cyrene before the Nile shifted eastward. "

"Don't tell Yasmin that," Daniel grinned. "You'll spoil her fun!"

Methos smiled and nodded. It wasn't so much the size of the discovery, 
he knew, but the delight in uncovering some unknown bit of knowledge 
that put the other fragments in place that made an archaeologist's day.

"What's that?" Samantha asked as she spotted a large bundle of what 
looked to be clothing on the ground about half a mile from the camp. 
O'Neill slowed down then stopped as they pulled even with what was 
obviously a body. Wary now, they climbed out of the jeep and Methos 
toed the corpse over, revealing the blood soaked sand beneath the 
gaping bullet wound in the man's chest.

"That's Ibrahim," Daniel said quietly. "He was Yasmin's assistant."

"Not anymore," Jack muttered as he reached under his seat and pulled 
out a small bag, quickly distributing several Goa'uld zat guns. They 
had other ordinance, but with civilians around, O'Neill wasn't prepared 
to risk lives.

He gestured for Teal'c and Samantha to circle the small encampment from 
the far side, while he, Methos and Daniel took the near. They found Dr. 
Nazuq first, sprawled in her jeep then two more bodies inside one of 
the tents.

"How many archaeologists?" Methos asked Daniel, who was still pale from 
the sight of his ex-girlfriend's body.

"Four paid," he responded dully. "Not counting any students who might 
have unofficially signed up."

"You okay?" Methos asked more gently.

Daniel only nodded as they moved further into the camp. They found 
another body near a small generator and another near a second vehicle 
where he'd obviously tried to run. When Teal'c and Carter arrived they 
reported three more in the recovery tent, where artifacts were first 
catalogued then stored.

"Look's like thieves," Samantha told them. "There's a few pieces of 
broken crockery left in there, but everything else is gone."

"Not thieves," Methos said. "Real thieves would have stripped the place 
bare and buried the bodies," he added.

O'Neill nodded knowingly. "Equipment's still here."

"Yeah," Daniel agreed. "The black market for ancient artifacts is good, 
but the one for tents, generators and computers is a lot better -- and 
of much less interest to the authorities." 

Samantha nodded slowly. "So why were they killed? To keep them quiet?"

"Maybe. Or to avoid potential witnesses," Methos responded.

"Colonel O'Neill, did you not say there was an army camped nearby?" 
Teal'c suddenly asked.

"Yeah," Jack nodded, walking over to a small pile of carbine shells on 
the ground. "Intel says it's just a training exercise," he added 

"If that's true, then I don't get it," Daniel sighed, following O'Neill 
with the others. "The whole team was Egyptian and the Egyptian military 
wouldn't do this to their own. They're too respectful of their own 
history. They'd ask them to leave the area, secure the site and escort 
the team out, but they'd never steal the artifacts."

"Wasn't the locals," O'Neill finally said as he crouched, picking up a 
spent shell and cursorily examining it. "These rounds came from a 
Kalashnikov. Definitely not standard issue for the Egyptian army."

"And thieves are more likely to carry American or German semi-automatic 
weapons," Methos pointed out. "Much easier to get and far more reliable 
than Russian guns. At least, in my opinion."

"Sounds like the competition just heated up a notch," Carter murmured.

Silently, Methos agreed with that assessment. It might be that for the 
Egyptians this was a simple training exercise, Methos thoughtfully 
acknowledged. But there were often Russian military advisors tagging 
along, and their agenda might be far more insidious and unclear to 
their allies.

"Okay," the colonel stood and tossed the shell aside. "Let's leave this 
one alone for now. We'll report later and let the locals handle it. 
Move out."

They headed back to the jeep, quiet strain showing on everyone's face. 
If it was indeed a Goa'uld ship sitting out there in the desert, 
whoever owned that singular piece of technology would gain a great 
advantage. So far, the Russians appeared to have little or no knowledge 
of the Goa'uld. And while Methos might have great admiration and 
respect for the general populace of that particular nation, he was also 
still leery of its political goals. A single naquada generator could 
power several major cities for a lifetime, freeing up enough resources 
to begin a new cold war. And the last one as he recalled, hadn't been 
much fun for either of the parties involved.

They detoured south then turned west again. Dr. Nazuq's camp had been a 
mere twenty miles from the Egyptian base, while the military camp was a 
good fifty miles from the ship's coordinates. In terms of this 
particular desert that was a relatively short distance, though not a 
healthy one. The average hale and hearty individual could manage 
perhaps thirty miles in a day walking, but even the average soldier 
wouldn't risk the fifty. And certainly not just to satisfy his 

It was late afternoon when they stopped some five miles out from the 
target coordinates. They changed from their street clothes into desert 
camouflage, making their way across the dunes until they were little 
more than a mile out.

"Busy little beavers, aren't they?" O'Neill muttered as he and the 
others observed the bustling activity around the ship through their 
field glasses. 

"Looks like they've been digging it out," Carter responded.

Large earth movers and trucks had been brought to the site, all neatly 
hidden under individual camouflage netting.

"The ship is most definitely Hatak class in origin," Teal'c announced. 
"But an older cargo ship and larger than any I have ever seen."

"Those are definitely Russian uniforms," Carter added. "About fifty, 
maybe more."

"Yeah, sweet," O'Neill said, sliding down a little and sitting back 
against the sand. 

"Looks like they aren't camping here," Methos said, joining him. 

"Seems that way. Just the one command tent and a latrine," O'Neill 

"Too suspicious," Methos agreed. "If they stayed one or two nights it 
might be put down as part of a training exercise. But a large group of 
Russian military advisors disappearing into the desert would certainly 
arouse any Egyptian's innate inquisitiveness. They might be allies, but 
there's an old saying. 'Trust in Allah, but lock up your camel at 

"I always liked 'Take the Pepsi Challenge' myself," O'Neill quipped and 
put away his binoculars. "Okay, kids," he finally decided. "Let's go 
back to the jeep. We'll set up a base camp there and report in. Return 
after dark. If they aren't spending the night, they probably won't 
bother to leave a guard. Missing men would have to be reported."

"Very true," Methos added. "Besides, who would expect to find five 
willing idiots ready to take on the Russian army?"

O'Neill grimaced wryly. "It's a good job, isn't it?"


"That's odd," Carter observed quietly as she examined the code pad for 
the ship's airlock. "Doesn't look like anyone's gone inside."

Methos leaned over and nodded an affirmative. "Sand's still encrusted 
on it. I'd say they're planning to abscond with the goods before 
letting their scientists take a crack at it."

"Sounds like someone else isn't interested in keeping up their end of 
an agreement either," O'Neill pointedly responded.

"Boys with toys," Methos sighed and Samantha gave him a rare smile.

"Shall we?" the colonel frowned, gesturing toward the lock.

Teal'c stepped forward and tapped the panel several times. Nothing 
happened. He tried it again using a different pattern this time, again 
without result.

"Stand back," O'Neill ordered then pointed his zat gun at the lock and 
fired. The system shorted out and Teal'c took several minutes to pry 
open the panel and bypass the mechanism. The door slid open a few 
inches then stalled completely, forcing O'Neill and Teal'c to push it 
the rest of the way back.

"Sand," Daniel explained at O'Neill's annoyed expression. "Fouls the 
lubricants. If the external vents were open it's probably gotten into 

"No kidding," the colonel muttered, frowning. "We'll have to clean it 
before we leave."

"Indeed," Teal'c agreed, turning on his flashlight and allowing the 
others to pass as they did the same.

The air inside was hot and dry. Not unexpected, Methos silently noted, 
but the place was eerie. They moved forward, weapons ready and nearly 
stumbled across several bodies as they turned into the first corridor.

"Goa'uld?" O'Neill asked.

"This one is," Carter nodded, kneeling beside a mummified corpse. "I 
can't tell what killed it though," she said, taking a closer look. "The 
rest seem to be Jaffa.

"Get samples," he ordered. "Of everything. Teal'c. Stay with her." They 
nodded and Samantha got to work as he and his companions cautiously 
moved off.

There were more bodies the further in they went. Some contorted in 
agony, others looking as though they'd simply fallen where they stood. 
They reached the bridge, finding another corpse -- dead in the act of 
reaching for the lift off controls.

"Looks like they were trying to escape," Daniel commented.

"Yeah, but from what?" O'Neill asked quietly, moving slowly around the 
room as he searched for an answer to his question.

"There are no outward signs of violence," Daniel responded. "From the 
look of it," he added, shining his light into the corpse's mummified 
face. "I'd say poison. Some sort of gas maybe."

"It's possible," O'Neill nodded.

"No, it's not," Methos pointed out. "Unless they arrived fairly 
recently. And given this accumulation of sand," he kicked at the 
thickly covered floor. "I'd guess this ship's been here a lot longer 
than a century." 

"Something in the area then?" Daniel offered.

"There's nothing here!" O'Neill spread his arms, looking mystified.

"That's not entirely true," Methos corrected. "There was a city 
hereabouts, or so I was told. It was all rumors really. A city built in 
secret by the pharaoh Shishak," he explained. "Right around the time he 
made war on the Judeans. A place to send all the treasures of Solomon's 
temple that he'd gathered from his siege of Jerusalem."

"That's just a myth," Daniel said. "We know where Tanis is. And it's 
never been lost."

"This place wasn't called Tanis, but Tanlit," Methos explained. "Sort 
of the short form of Tanis to differentiate between the two."

"Tanis?" Jack asked curiously. "Why does that name sound familiar?"

"Raiders of the Lost Ark," Methos grinned. "The place where Indiana 
Jones found the Ark of the Covenant. Great movie, very weak on 
history." O'Neill nodded. "Still," he went on as the colonel led the 
way back into the corridor. "Behind most myths there's generally a 
kernel of truth. In this case, I was always inclined to believe the 
rumors. Tanis in the north was held by one faction of the priestly 
caste -- mostly family related to Shishak, while Thebes in the south 
was held by another, not counting those in Karnak and other places. 
Shishak was strong enough to unite them all and by virtue of that, 
Upper and Lower Egypt under his sole rule. There was quite a bit of 
unrest even then and sending such revered artifacts, even if they 
weren't Egyptian, to any of the priesthood might have started another 
uprising. I wouldn't have done it. And there used to be a fairly large 
oasis not far from here dedicated to Atum." Methos grimaced wryly as he 
thought of something. "Atum was usually represented as either a man or 
a serpent and his worship was later merged with that of Ra. I'm 
guessing the two are one in the same."

"They were," Daniel confirmed.

"So, the snakeheads knew about this place and the logistics were 
good," O'Neill said thoughtfully as they headed back for Carter and 

"Seem that way," Methos agreed.

"But you never saw this city?" Daniel asked as he walked alongside the 

Methos shook his head. "Three thousand years ago I was still trolling 
for trouble. Somewhere in Anatolia, I believe. I only heard about it 
after the fact. Though I do remember being quite proud of the Judeans 
for buying Shishak off with Solomon's gold. Very smart."

"But not the Ark," Daniel said. "The bible says it stayed in 

"That's one story," Methos responded. "But I know for a fact it went 
south much earlier."

"That's what the Coptics claim. That it went to Ethiopia with Bathsheba 
and her son for safekeeping."

Methos shrugged as they joined Teal'c and Carter, who were just 
finishing up. "I don't know who the hell they were or where the Ark 
ultimately ended up, but whatever they had in that box killed the lot 
of us. The Horsemen raided that caravan. Rich Judean priests and even 
richer nobles. All guarding what we thought was a great big box of gold 
sent as tribute. They tried to warn us, I'll give them that. Of course, 
we ignored the priests and opened it once we'd gotten safely away. The 
last thing I remember was writhing in agony until Silas closed it up. 
When we revived it was gone, but we were sick as dogs for weeks after. 
Got ourselves out of Africa right smart."

"You were all sick?" Carter asked, surprised. "What were they 

Methos shuddered even to remember. "Burns everywhere that didn't seem 
to heal. Vomiting and bloody stool. We swelled up in places that should 
never swell like that and both Silas and Caspian lost their hair. I 
don't know how many times we died after that first time, but it kept on 
killing us -- and everyone we came into contact with until we burned 
everything we owned, even our horses, in a great pyre."

"You burned everything? Even your clothes?" she asked.

Methos chuckled ruefully. "By that time we weren't wearing any if we 
could possibly avoid it. Our skin was excruciatingly tender."

"You know what it is?" Daniel asked her.

"Sounds like radiation poisoning. And from the look of these bodies, 
I'm beginning to think something similar may have happened here."

"Naquada does not produce noticeably dangerous amounts of harmful 
radiation," Teal'c pointed out.

"No," Samantha agreed. "But a radioactive substance could have been 
introduced into the environment." She studied one of her instruments. 
"I am picking up traces of subatomic particles still lingering in the 
air. Nothing that could cause us a problem, but it is a little higher 
than normal."

O'Neill nodded. "If we've got everything we need here, let's get back 
to camp and report in."

"Yes, sir," she said. "I can analyze the samples tonight and have a 
report for you in the morning."


"So, what are we going to do about the ship?" Daniel asked nervously as 
they made their way to the exit. "We can't just leave it here."

"We're not flying it anywhere until we know what killed everyone," 
O'Neill responded as he paused with Teal'c to clear the door of sand 
and make sure it was sealed. "Whatever it is could still be on board. 
We need to know more about what happened."

"I might be able to help there," Methos offered.

"I thought you said you were never here?"

"I wasn't, but I may know someone who was." 

Daniel cast excited, puppy dog eyes in the Immortal's direction and 
Methos grinned. "Ptahsennes has been around since the first Tuthmose's 
reign, and he never leaves Egypt. Doesn't much like the modern era 
either, except for some jazz recordings and an old record player he 
liberated from the Nazis during the war. We go back a ways and he might 
be willing to talk."

"You know where to find him?" O'Neill asked. With the hatch now closed 
he carefully swept the sand to make it look as though no one had 

"Pretty much," Methos nodded. "He sent me a postcard about thirty years 
ago with a picture of Alexandria and a note telling me to stop by some 

"Thirty years ago?!" Jack uttered, moving the group back toward camp. 
"How do you know he's still there?"

"Because he's living in my house," Methos explained. "Or what used to 
be my house when I lived there. It's been a couple of thousand years, 
but the place is still standing. And this is Egypt after all. Things 
and people move a lot more slowly here."

"Okay," O'Neill nodded. "You can check it out tomorrow. And," he looked 
over at Daniel, "think you could take him with you? He'll sulk all day 
in his tent if you don't."

Daniel frowned, but gazed hopefully at Methos. 

"Sure," the Immortal finally gave in. "Why not? It'll amuse the hell 
out of the old bastard. Just don't be surprised if he calls you a 
carrion eater," Methos warned the younger man. "He doesn't have much 
use for archaeologists."

Chapter 3

The drive to Alexandria the next morning had been mostly uneventful, 
except for Daniel's never ending stream of questions. Methos didn't 
really mind answering them and talking kept the boy from thinking about 
the loss of Yasmin Nazuq and her erstwhile colleagues. While O'Neill 
had reported the situation to General Hammond, it had been agreed that 
at present no action could be taken to remove the bodies. It was 
doubtful whoever had killed them would come back, but the stakes at the 
moment were just too high to take that chance.

When they reached the outskirts of the city, Methos wended their way up 
an old road until they came to the outer wall that marked the beginning 
of the property. The house was set on a hill top and the old stone 
gleamed a cool white in the late morning sunlight.

He sensed Ptahsennes as he pulled into the front drive where the 
stables had once been, though the mud brick structure was long since 
gone. Methos got out as a shadow appeared in a window then smiled as he 
saw his old friend opening the door.

"Methos!" Ptahsennes called out as he strode forward. "You son of a 
diseased camel mated with a braying ass! Welcome old friend!"

Methos laughed, holding out his arms as the stout Immortal, older in 
appearance though a hand span shorter, grabbed his shoulders and pulled 
him tight. "It's good to see you too," he smiled, hugging him back. "I 
see you're still shaving your head, you sun shriveled lump of dried 
beetle dung."

The other man rubbed his bald pate. "The old ways are still the best," 
Ptahsennes grinned. "Now, introduce me to your very pretty boy."

Daniel raised an eyebrow at that and promptly introduced himself. "Dr. 
Daniel Jackson," he said in the same ancient dialect Ptahsennes had 
been speaking, offering his hand. "It's an honor, revered father. And 
Methos and I are colleagues."

"A doctor who speaks the old tongue?" Ptahsennes asked warily. "Not 
another tomb robber are you?"

"Uh, no," Daniel answered carefully. "I'm currently employed as a 

"Ah," Ptahsennes nodded, finally taking his hand. "That is better. The 
old tongue is still the most beautiful, even spoken badly by the likes 
of a western carrion eater such as yourself."

Methos chuckled at Daniel's confused expression. "Thank the man, Danny. 
That was a compliment."

"Uh, thanks...I think."

Ptahsennes guided them into the house past stacks of records piled 
nearly to the ceiling. "If he is not your current favorite," he 
murmured softly in Methos' ear. "Pray tell, old friend, how he comes to 
know of our kind?"

"An accident of chance," Methos explained just as quietly. "But he is 
loyal and holds his tongue."

"The two most useful virtues," Ptahsennes agreed, laying the matter to 
rest. "Come into the garden and see my fruit trees," he offered in a 
normal tone. "Cool and fragrant after a morning in the hot sun. Girl!" 
he called to an old woman sweeping the floor who looked to be at least 
ninety. "Bring wine for my friends and I. And some of those little 
pastries you sneak when you think I'm not watching." She snorted in 
derision, though her shoulders shook with mirth as she scurried off.

"In the old days," he confided to Daniel. "I would have beaten her for 
that. But she has been with me many years and good servants without 
tongues are hard to find."

Daniel looked a little pale as he settled on a pillow beneath the shade 
of an orange tree, but Methos ignored him, sprawling on the grass while 
Ptahsennes took the stool beside him. Like a proper guest, he waited 
until the servant had brought their refreshments and his host opened 
the conversation.

"So, why have you come, old friend? Still looking for that stash you 
think you left behind? I promise you, the pharaoh's guards were very 
thorough in their search. I had a difficult time putting the place back 
in order."

"Stash?" Daniel asked curiously.

Methos rolled his eyes. "93 BC," he explained. "I billed myself as a 
Phonecian trader. Had a marvelous little business going in costly 
spices and unguents."

"With a most excellent sideline in opium," Ptahsennes interjected, 

Daniel's eyes went wide. "You dealt drugs?"

"It wasn't like that back then," Methos sighed. "No one cared who was 
toasted and who wasn't. The entire western world," he raised his cup, 
"was pretty much sloshed most of the time anyway. The water killed you, 
so we all drank beer or wine. And it wasn't selling opium that got me 
in trouble."

"No," Ptahsennes laughed. "It was not selling opium! This one," he 
gestured at Methos. "Sold the drug at a fair price to anyone, but saved 
his best tricks for the families of his dear departed customers. Such a 
devout man they all thought when he would come to offer his wares as 
the priests purified the body. He'd bring gifts of sweet oil and 
sandalwood then sell them enough dope at half price to last the 
deceased an eternity in the underworld. Only it wasn't opium in those 
little bottles he put in the tombs. It was a paste of floured water!"

Methos chuckled. "If that whining little bastard Diomenes hadn't robbed 
his uncle's tomb and found me out, I'd have been a richer man today."

"You were a scam artist, too?!" Daniel gasped.

"Don't look so shocked," Methos smirked. "And, come to think of it, you 
should be grateful. Just whom do you think invented the free sample?"

Ptahsennes laughed. "Ah," he sighed. "Those were good days."

"No they weren't," Methos disagreed amiably. "No cars, no films, no air 
conditioning. Always worrying about money. I, for one, would not go 
back there."

"If you hadn't spent everything you earned on those damn books of yours 
you'd have had money," Ptahsennes reminded him gently. "As for the 
rest... It would be just as well if it never happened. Who needs a car 
when there are horses, camels and donkeys? Why does everyone these days 
want to go fast? The business will wait. If not, then perhaps it was 
not worth the trouble. And films? Bah! Men in blue tights and red capes 
flying about saving the world. Men could save their own world if they 
would but listen to the gods. And air conditioning," he shook his head 
as Methos chuckled, having heard it all before. "Gives me a headache. 
All that cold unnatural air. Here it is pleasant," he looked with 
satisfaction around his garden. "And business can be done just as well 
in the shade of a fruit tree, can it not?"

"It can indeed," Methos allowed his old friend. "And speaking of 

"Yes," Ptahsennes smiled. "I was wondering when you'd get to that, old 

"Shishak," Methos said, watching Ptahsennes' eyes light up.

"A good pharaoh, even if he was of the Lybian line. Don't tell me 
you're seeking the lost treasures of Solomon this time?" the old 
Egyptian laughed. "Will you never learn?"

"It's the boy," he twitched his head in Daniel's direction, feeling no 
compunction about lying to his old friend. He was Methos, and it was, 
after all, expected. "He wants to prove a theory to his fellow 
historians. That Shishak built a treasure city in the desert, out near 
the Oasis of Atum-Ra."

Ptahsennes nodded. "A difficult business that," he murmured. "So much 
rivalry between the priests at the time. I remember it well. Tanlit, he 
called it. And yes, he brought his treasures there."

Now Daniel spoke up. "So, what happened to it?"

"No one knows for certain," Ptahsennes told him honestly. "The Judeans 
claimed it was their god who destroyed the city. But why their god 
would not have destroyed Shishak's army on the spot, before the pharaoh 
carried off the contents of his temple has never been adequately 
explained to me. I do know that those who carried the treasure into 
Egypt later died horribly of disease. As did Shishak within a year of 
his return. And that the whole area, not just the city, but the 
surrounding districts as well, were later found empty of people. As if 
one day all the inhabitants suddenly just decided to leave. But no one 
came to the pharaoh asking for help against an invading army, so 
nothing was done. Though Shishak's heir sent scouts to learn the fate 
of that city. They did not return," Ptahsennes added quietly.

"What do you think happened?" Daniel asked curiously.

"The Four Horsemen came and stole it all away," Ptahsennes answered 
bitterly, staring into his wine and not noticing how his companions 
stiffened in surprise.

"Are you certain?" Methos asked gently.

"As certain as anyone can be when it came to those bastards. Death and 
his henchmen," the Egyptian spat in the sand. "Wherever they are may 
they rot for eternity."

Methos looked away, swallowing his pain as he brought himself to speak. 
"I had heard they were in Anatolia at the time," he said thoughtfully. 
"And they were not the only scourge in those days. More infamous than 
most, but only one of many. Besides," he added reasonably. "It would 
take an army to empty an entire district."

"Perhaps," Ptahsennes agreed distantly, his eyes drifting to the little 
stream that ran through his garden as he remembered his own history. 
"But long before that they took my wife, you know. And all the children 
we had adopted."

Methos bowed his head. "No. I didn't," he whispered sadly. "I'm sorry."

"Mmmm," Ptahsennes nodded. "It was in the reign of Tuthmose III."

At that Methos looked up, relief visibly flooding his features. He'd 
been nowhere near Egypt then, but as so often happened in the past one 
raiding band of horsemen was much the same as any other. He listened as 
Ptahsennes told how he had been away on temple business and come home 
to find the temple looted and burned to the ground, his village 
destroyed. The men dead, the women and children missing. It sounded 
like an attack by a rival priesthood to Methos from that description. 
One thing he and the Horsemen had never done by tacit agreement was to 
lay waste to holy ground. Not because they feared the consequences, but 
because they might one day have need of that temple or shrine to 
protect themselves from others of their kind.

"But how do you know it was them?" Daniel asked quietly, having watched 
both men react to the story.

"One of the slaves saw them coming and hid. He alone survived."

Methos sighed silently in disgust. He'd heard that one before. 
Soldiers, slaves, farmers. When faced with overwhelming odds they often 
hid or ran, forgetting to give the alarm in their panic. When it was 
all over they would come out and so as not to shame themselves claim it 
was an attack by the almighty Horsemen. And who could stand against 
such demons the people would ask and nod their heads knowingly -- ever 
after kind to the survivors. They had been the bogey men and everyone 
believed whatever was said when it came to the Four Horsemen -- no 
matter how preposterous it might have sounded!

Daniel looked at his watch and then at Methos. "We have to get back, 
Adam. They'll be waiting."

Methos nodded and Ptahsennes sighed sadly. "Go if you must, but stay a 
moment, old friend. I have something for you and I must find it before 
you leave."

"We'll be in the house," Methos told him as they rose.

Ptahsennes left them in the great room, surrounded by his records as he 
went to search.

They were quiet as they waited until Daniel finally spoke up. "He 
doesn't know," he stated softly.

"Not many do," Methos agreed.

"But if he finds out..."

Methos sighed, picking up an old album and examining the cover. "Then I 
shall have to hope he never does."

"You didn't kill his family, did you?" Daniel's voice was small with 

"No," Methos shook his head, putting the record aside. "We were in 
Mesopotamia at the time."

"You should tell him," Daniel advised. "Tell him the truth. He likes 
you. He'll understand."

Methos laughed harshly. "He'd never believe it. Especially coming from 
me. Death claiming innocence? And how could I prove it?" he smiled 
sadly. "It would only drive a wedge between us, knowing my real past. 
He'd feel honor bound to challenge me."

"He does!" came the hoarse awful cry from behind them as something 
crashed to the floor. Methos turned in surprise to see Ptahsennes 
standing in the door, sword in hand.

A look of infinite sadness crossed Methos face. "Go start the car, 

The younger man nodded, hurriedly backing away and a moment later 
Methos heard the engine turn over.

"I won't fight you, old friend," Methos told him softly. "And you have 
no cause to challenge me. I did not harm your family."

Ptahsennes moved forward dangerously, pointing his blade as Methos 
followed Daniel's path to the door.

"You were Death!" the Egyptian hissed.

"I was many things," Methos admitted, edging his way outside. "But none 
I regret more than that."

"Regret?!" Ptahsennes shouted angrily, following. "Regret is for oath 
breakers. Not for such as you."

"I can give you nothing else. And the dead need nothing."

"The dead cry out for vengeance!" Ptahsennes roared, suddenly lunging 

With his own sword still in the car Methos dodged to the side, reaching 
behind his back as he moved to pull out his zat gun. He almost avoided 
another heavy blow, but it caught his shoulder just as he fired.

"Adam!" Daniel cried, leaping over the side of the jeep to kneel beside 
his friend.

"We have to hurry," Methos gasped, clutching his bloody arm.

Daniel grimaced and grabbed the gun, firing a second time to kill the 
Immortal. "We have a minute. Can you walk?"

Methos nodded weakly as the younger man helped him to his feet. "I'm 
impressed," he finally said once they were away and the waves of pain 
had subsided as his body began to repair itself.

"With what?" Daniel asked, keeping his eyes on the road as he navigated 

"You've become positively blood thirsty. I wasn't even thinking about a 
second shot. Just getting the hell out."

Daniel shook his head sadly. "More a matter of practicality than a 
thirst for blood. I didn't want to kill him, even though I know he'll 
get up again."

"But you did and I'm grateful."

"And I'm sorry," Daniel sighed. "I should have waited until we were in 
the car."

"Yes, you should have," Methos nodded, carefully checking his shoulder 
to make sure the skin was knitted up before he ripped the sleeve off 
his bloody shirt and used it to clean the area. 

"Do you think he'll come after you?" Daniel finally asked.

Methos shoved the bloody rag under his seat. "Maybe. Probably. If I run 
into him again, certainly. But since Ptahsennes never leaves Egypt, I'm 
not too worried."

"I'm really am sorry," Daniel repeated softly. "He was your friend and 
I screwed that up."

Methos sighed. "I've lost many friends, Daniel, even old ones. To the 
Game, to my past. It happens," he shrugged. "Give him a few hundred 
years and he might eventually get over the shock." Daniel glanced at 
him, surprised at his calm. "It does happen you know. Time heals all 
wounds. I mean, look at me. Am I not a mellow fellow?"

Daniel laughed softly. "Very mellow," he agreed. "Which is probably why 
I just can't seem to picture you as one of the Four Horsemen of the 
Apocalypse sweeping across the plains in a storm of fire."

Now it was Methos' turn to laugh. "Makes a great billboard, but it 
wasn't that impressive really. We were the ancient equivalent of gang 
banging hoodlums. That's all. Purse snatchers and thugs. A little more 
creative than most, but not by much. As for sweeping the plains..." 
Methos shrugged. "That wasn't us. Four guys on horseback do not sweep 
anything. We trotted, we cantered -- sometimes we even charged. But we 
never swept across anywhere. That's what armies are for."

"So what you're saying is that you were just a typical bunch of angry, 
rebellious kids -- even if you were a couple of thousand years old at 
the time."

An apt description, Methos thought wryly. "Yes, we were very angry. Me 
more than the others I suspect."

"Why?" Daniel wanted to know.

"I told you how it was," Methos explained tiredly. "People hated me, so 
I hated them right back. They tried to kill me, so I killed them 
instead. If someone didn't want to sell me something because I was 
different, I took it. I couldn't have a real family, so I sold theirs 
and didn't look back. It didn't matter that they might not be the ones 
who hurt me. What mattered was that they had the power to do it again. 
As I said, I was very, very angry."

"What changed?"

"I did," Methos said, yawning. "You can be angry for just so long 
before it eats away what's left of your soul. I wanted more. And then I 
met someone. Someone who knew what I was and instead of killing me out 
of hand gave me a second chance."

Daniel nodded thoughtfully, looking over at his friend whose eyes were 
drooping with fatigue. "Here," he said, reaching down to grab a bottle 
of water. "You lost a lot of blood. I can drive us back. Why don't you 
get some rest?"

Methos drank then settled back against the seat cushions. With an 
amused glance Daniel watched as the Immortal drifted off, looking more 
like the college kid he'd first known than the scourge of the ancient 
world he'd suddenly discovered. Whoever had given him that second 
chance, Daniel thought, deserved not only Methos' thanks, but his own. 
What a tragedy it would have been, if that all that knowledge, not to 
mention the good and decent man who held it, were lost.


"That's fascinating," O'Neill said after Daniel finished recounting 
their meeting with Ptahsennes, carefully editing out the bit where he'd 
cost Methos a dear friend. "Really fascinating," Jack yawned. "But how 
does that help us?"

Carter hid a smile. "It tells us that thousands of years ago someone 
around here had access to nuclear material, Colonel."

"I must have missed that bit." Methos looked up from his chicken in 
salsa. Whatever anyone said about Napoleon, he'd been right about one 
thing. An army traveled on its stomach -- and Methos was extremely 
happy the Americans had decided to take him up on it. "Are we talking 
actual fissionable material or a stray bit of uranium?"

"Unknown," Carter admitted with a sigh. "Although I can pretty much 
rule out the uranium theory. Whatever killed the Goa'uld was powerful 
enough to do it in a matter of minutes."

"Like Chernobyl," Daniel commented. 

Methos raised a questioning brow and the archaeologist shrugged. 

"When the accident happened," he explained. "Those closest to it died 
within minutes. Just like you and your...friends did when you stole the 
Ark of the Covenant."

"Exactly," Samantha nodded. "Everything around you was contaminated, 
including your clothes. And everything you came into contact with, like 
your horses, was then hit by radiation and subsequently died."

It sounded reasonable, but... "You're saying the Judeans somehow got 
hold of something so radioactive it was enough to poison everybody 
around it, but not them? Then palmed it off on Shishak?" Methos asked 

"It' possible," Carter speculated. "That they had access to a meteoric 
site and used some of that stone."

"Used it in what?" Jack asked, baffled. "The Ten Commandments?"

"Why not," Daniel responded. "Once the original tablets were brought 
down from Mt. Sinai and smashed they were placed in a special box and 
never looked at, never touched. It was forbidden under Mosaic Law."

"I suppose it's possible," Methos gave a half shrug and nodded. "There 
have always been stories about stones which fell from the heavens. 
Stones much sought after by kings and priests as a show of power. And 
with those myths came a warning. We didn't know about radiation, of 
course, but the stories often claimed that anyone who handled the 
stones would die."

Jack shook his head, holding up a hand. "Time out, folks. This is 
great, but you said you stole the Ark, right?" Methos nodded. "You also 
said it was before Shack Attack got his hands on it, that right too?" 
Again Methos nodded, though he was smiling now. "So, if the Ark was in 
Ethiopia, how could Shack bring the Ark here?"

"He could," Daniel said slowly. "If the Ark he was given was a decoy."

"An exact replica of the original," Carter nodded thoughtfully. "With 
all the same properties."

"But if the Judeans knew what the stone was capable of," Methos 
insisted. "They would never have kept it in the city. Eventually they 
all would have died."

"Yes," Carter agreed. "Unless it was shielded properly. Encased in lead 
or stone -- something to absorb the radiation."

Methos' eyes went wide. "When I was in Jerusalem the Ark was kept in a 
stone vault, supposedly never seen by anyone but the High Priest. No 
one but he and the king would have known if it had been sent out of the 
city. And the Ark was always a target, even in Solomon's time -- a very 
powerful symbol. Not only for the warring factions within Israel and 
Judea, but to their enemies. Still, if Solomon sent the Ark south with 
Bathsheba, as I believe he did, then what was everyone worshipping?"

"The second set of tablets Moses brought down," Daniel theorized.

"Or an empty box," Carter suggested. "Except this one had a small bit 
of highly radioactive material inside it. If anyone did get their hands 
on the Ark they would die."

"But not just because they stole it," Methos surmised. "But because 
they dared to open the box like we did."

"No," Carter said. "There are enough stray atomic particles in both the 
sand and that ship to say otherwise. Whatever came here was leaking 
radiation like a sieve. Once the false Ark left its containment unit in 
Jerusalem whoever came in contact with it would die. Even if they never 
opened the Ark, it would have killed them within a year."

"Wonderful story," O'Neill finally interrupted. "But what the hell does 
it have to do with the Goa'uld?"

"They gave them the Ark," Daniel said.

"And why would they do that?" 

"Think about it, Jack. The Goa'uld land on your doorstep. They say 
they're sent by the gods. Ptahsennes said the surrounding districts 
were emptied of people. And what do the Goa'uld do? They take slaves -- 
and anything else they can get their greedy hands on."

"Daniel Jackson is correct," Teal'c agreed. "It is what they do. I have 
many times seen it happen. The ship will land and those nearest the 
ship will be forced to provide food and other goods the Goa'uld cannot 
make, while those in nearby areas will be captured and forced through 
the gate by the Jaffa. When that is done, the guards will bring those 
in the host village through, or kill them if they fight."

"And imagine," Methos added his own thoughts. "You're an Egyptian 
priest seeing this happen. Somehow you've come to realize that they are 
not gods. None of your own magic works against them, but you've got 
this very powerful box stolen from your enemies. Enemies who've 
probably told you never to open it on pain of death, which only makes 
you want to open it more. Maybe you do, maybe you don't. But these 
beings are asking for everything you own anyway, so you give it to 
them. And while you're at it, you ask if they'd like to see what's 
inside. I'd take that shot."

"Or," Daniel countered. "They gave it to the gods as a form of tribute. 
The Jaffa guarding the ship could have opened it just to see what was 

"Either way, it makes sense," Jack nodded. "Okay. So, bible study aside 
Major, there's no danger to us from that ship?"

"None that I can think of, sir," she responded. "The priests must have 
taken back the Ark or the Goa'uld managed to somehow get it off the 
ship, which is probably how everyone else died so rapidly."

"And anyone coming to look would have died as well," Methos nodded.

"So where is it?" Jack asked.

"Buried out here somewhere," Samantha shrugged. "The sand is a good 
insulator. By now most of the radiation has leached into the ground, 
but I'd leave it where it is just to be safe. We're in no danger, if 
that's what you're asking, sir."

"It is," O'Neill grinned. "Okay, kids. Let's pack it up. We're flyin' 
that baby out tonight."

Chapter 4

The sun was sinking by the time Ptahsennes reached the edge of the 
western desert. He could drive -- after a fashion -- though it wasn't 
something he liked to admit. One thing he had changed his mind about 
though, was his concept of time. He now understood why everyone rushed 
everywhere. He didn't know where Death was, but he knew where he was 
going. And Ptahsennes intended to be there, waiting.


"If I never saw another desert again, I could die happy," O'Neill 
muttered as they topped the last rise and headed down toward the ship.

Methos grinned. "It's not so bad once you get used to it. At least 
it's--" He stopped abruptly as he sensed the presence of another 

"Time to die, Horseman!"

Weapons came up as everyone turned. Except for Methos, who closed his 
eyes and took a deep, painful breath.

"Hello again, Ptahsennes," he finally said, turning to face his 
accuser. "I'm very busy right now, do you mind if we do this later?"

"I am not laughing, carrion. I will have your head. Tonight!"

"Uh, hold up a minute here," Jack raised his hand. "No one's head is 
going anywhere. Especially not his," he jerked a thumb at Methos. 
"Unless you haven't noticed, your friend here is wearing U.S. 
Government Issue. Which means," he pointed out. "That his head belongs 
to us -- along with his ass. And we're not fixing to let either of them 
go any time soon."

Ptahsennes stared in disbelief. "What have you done, Methos?! One 
mortal who knows our secret was not enough? You must tell the whole 

"Shit happens," Methos said bluntly.

Ptahsennes nodded slowly. "So be it. Then you must all die."

"No!" Methos shouted as O'Neill and the others instantly cocked their 
weapons. The sound of heavy machinery suddenly sounded in the distance 
and lights from several dozen vehicles appeared on the distant horizon.

"Oh, man!" O'Neill complained loudly. "You woke up the Russians!"

"It's a bit of a crowd for this, Ptahsennes!" Methos snarled in 

"It matters not," the Egyptian said. "Fight me now, coward. Or I will 
hunt you down -- if I have to leave Egypt to do it!"

Methos compressed his lips and nodded slowly. "Get in the ship, Jack. 
Go! All of you!" he shouted when they made no move to leave. 

"We are so not doing this now," O'Neill shook his head.

"No. We are not," Methos agreed. "I will take care of Ptahsennes."

"The hell you will!" Jack told him angrily.

Methos frowned deeply. "When I agreed to this I made it clear to 
General Hammond that I would not tolerate interference in a fair 
challenge. Well, fair challenge is given and accepted. Now, go!"

"Fine!" O'Neill retorted. "But if you're not in that ship in three 
minutes I will kill you. Repeatedly!"

Ptahsennes laughed. "You will not have the chance, mortal. This one 
belongs to me now."

O'Neill glared at the Egyptian then turned to Methos. "Just kill his 
crazy ass!" he told the Immortal angrily.

"Not if I can help it," Methos murmured softly as the colonel stalked 
off followed by the rest of the team. 

The lights on the horizon were drawing closer and Methos estimated they 
had only a few minutes before the place was crawling with Russian 

"Come, old friend," he finally nodded as he shrugged off his pack and 
drew his sword from the sheath at his back. "Let's do this where--"

Ptahsennes didn't bother to let him finish, rushing forward as soon as 
his sword was free. Methos back peddled, drawing his old friend away 
from the oncoming soldiers and around the other side of the ship.

"You don't understand what's happening here, Ptahsennes!" Methos called 
as he hurriedly deflected a parry, answering with a thrust of his own 
past the other man's defenses which was easily countered. "Just let me 
explain!" Maybe reason would help, Methos hoped, though he doubted it.

"I have all the explanation I need," Ptahsennes growled. "You're in my 
desert. Stealing. Again!" he shouted. "I saw those bodies you left 
behind. Murdering rogue!"

"That wasn't us!" Methos ducked and Ptahsennes' sword passed far too 
close to his hair.

"Lies! More lies!"

The blows came more quickly and Methos no longer had time to think. 
Ptahsennes had always been good, even in practice. And right now, 
Ptahsennes wasn't practicing.


"We up and running yet?" O'Neill called over his radio from where he 
and Daniel guarded the main hatchway. He fired on a squad of Russian 
troops as Daniel used Teal'c staff weapon to break up their advance.

"Momentarily," the Jaffa called back.

O'Neill cocked his head as he heard a dangerously familiar sound. 
"Incoming!" he shouted as he and Daniel hit the deck.

The ship rocked as a mortar exploded against the hull. Then another and 
another, until it suddenly dawned on O'Neill that the Russians planned 
to destroy the ship rather than let it take off.

"We got any shields?!" he called desperately as he heard an explosion 
from within the ship itself.

"We have nothing!" Teal'c responded a moment later as he and Carter 
came running down the corridor. 

"That last round hit the engine core," she reported. "We can't stop the 
power build up." 

"We have little time, O'Neill," Teal'c added. "This ship will soon be 

"Oh, that's just beautiful!" the colonel snapped disgustedly. 

"Sir," Carter said as the ship rocked again. "We can still use the 
Stargate to get out."

"I thought we couldn't do that!" he responded testily, firing several 
rounds out the hatch. "Only one gate on Earth opens at a time."

"Technically, sir, this gate isn't on Earth," she explained. "It has a 
different address entirely. I'm guessing it's like all the other ship 
based Stargates we've seen. Its system should automatically compensate 
for the differential."

"Daniel," O'Neill ordered. "Secure the gate. Get ready to dial us 

"What about Adam?" the archaeologist demanded. "We can't just leave 

"We're going! If he wants to play Knights of the Round Table with his 
buddies we can't help him."

Daniel looked furious, but he headed for the Stargate nonetheless.

Another round of mortar fire struck the ship and O'Neill ordered the 
others back. "Seal that door," he told Teal'c. "Carter, see if you can 
locate Pierson. Find a hatch close to where he is. If you have to, 
shoot him and the bastard he's fighting with and drag Pierson's ass on 
board. You have two minutes!"

"Yes, sir!" she answered smartly and took off running down the 


The ground shook again as Methos felt the bite of Ptahsennes' blade in 
his thigh. Sand was lousy footing to begin with, but this was 
ridiculous. Still, his opponent was just as bad off, bleeding from 
nearly as many wounds as Methos.

On the other side of the ship the fight raged on, a strange counterpoint to the ancient clash of steel. End it now, Methos' inner 
voice told him as he saw another opening in Ptahsennes' defenses. He 
could make a straight cut to the shoulder and an upward thrust to the 
neck -- just as Ptahsennes had tried to do to him that morning. Or, he 
could use this opening to disarm and disable. He lunged to take 
advantage of his luck just as another mortar exploded behind them. 
Unable to compensate, Methos flew forward, his sword rising upward to 
spear Ptahsennes' throat.

"No!" he shouted as he saw the light of Ptahsennes' Quickening gleam 
brightly against the Egyptian's dark skin. Ptahsennes' eyes widened in 
surprise and Methos shook his head sadly. "I'm sorry," he whispered, 
furious at the fates which had never meant for two such disparate forms 
of war to come together. Shutting his eyes Methos yanked his sword 
free, partially cleaving the neck to let the head loll sideways. Sloppy 
work, he thought as the body dropped to the ground, but he could do no 
better by his old friend now.

As Methos fell to his knees someone called his name. A woman. Carter, 
he thought bleakly, ignoring her as he raised his sword and waited to 
receive Ptahsennes' Quickening. 

Suddenly, there was a hand in his hair and he flinched as sharp nailed 
fingers painfully pinched his earlobe.

"Move it, Pierson!" Carter ordered, dragging him toward an open 
airlock. "We're leaving!"

If he hadn't been so shocked Methos might have fought, but if she'd 
meant to get his attention Carter had succeeded completely. Even before 
he realized he was moving Methos was up and running for the hatch, 
following his twisted ear.

The first wave of the Quickening caught him at the door, knocking the 
pair forward as it loosened Carter's hold.

"Go!" he shouted, shoving her toward the corridor. "I'll follow!" Then 
he couldn't speak for the pain as the lightening seared his flesh. 
Staggering forward, Methos rounded the corner to see the others waiting 
impatiently near the gate. He gasped, falling to his knees as several 
bolts of energy pounded him in quick succession. Debris rained down as 
the strikes shot around the room, exploding against every available 
surface. Dimly through the haze of his vision, Methos saw Daniel 
punching in the address. The Quickening was dying, he realized 
gratefully as the last few discharges went wild, dancing across the 
face of the Stargate.

The outer track turned, the chevrons locking into place as Teal'c and 
O'Neill grabbed Methos, pulling him toward the gate. Then several 
mortars exploded against the hull, sending most of what was left of the 
ceiling crashing down. They sheltered as best they could, but it seemed 
to take forever for the gate to open and when it did, the vortex turned 
multi-colored, undulating weirdly as the gate crackled with energy.

"What the hell?!" O'Neill gasped. 

Even as he spoke the vortex settled back to normal and another 
explosion, this time from within the ship, savagely shook the room. 

"Let's go!" he shouted. And they flung themselves into the light as the 
world behind them was suddenly blasted to pieces.

Chapter 5

Water dripped onto rock, the sound of it echoing in the dank 
underground chamber. The gateway stood behind an altar set high above 
the rest of the room. The only other sound, metal scraping and 
squealing as the ancient wheel turned and light suddenly burst into the 
room as its center filled with energy. An instant later, five figures 
tumbled out, releasing harsh groans and quiet cries as they hit the 
ground rolling. Behind them, the light winked out and the sound of 
water dripping on rock continued its relentless echoing through the 
dank underground hall.

"Did I not say, 'Dial us home'?" O'Neill asked in complete darkness.

"You did," Teal'c stated succinctly.

"Thought so."

"Guess the general forgot to pay this month's electric."

"Shut up, Pierson! I'm mad at you!" O'Neill turned on his flashlight. 
"Oh, Daniel..." he sang, saccharine sweet. "Pray tell, does this look 
like the SGC to you?" Everyone turned on their flashlights, cautiously 
looking around.

"I dialed correctly, Jack. You were there. You saw me."

"Something happened to the gate," Carter said, getting to her feet.

"Major Carter is correct," Teal'c added. "Never have I seen a gate 
behave so erratically."

Daniel glanced over at Methos for more support, but the Immortal merely 
shrugged. "Don't look at me. I'm the newbie."

"There was a lot of electrical discharge around the gate," Carter 
pointed out as she panned her light over the Stargate above them.

"Indeed, we have experienced similar problems with the gate mechanism 
from unexpected energy surges," Teal'c reminded them quietly.

Methos raised a questioning brow.

Daniel nodded slowly. "He's right. Remember 1969? Come to the sit in?"

"Must have missed that one," Methos responded, training his light on 
the ceiling and surrounding walls.

"Did you make it to Woodstock?" O'Neill asked.

"Of course. I was a roadie for the Stones. Great music, rotten 
facilities," he added with a grimace, catching sight of a narrow 
staircase against the far wall and ambling over.

"Well then," Jack said petulantly. "You didn't miss anything." 

"Glad to hear it," Methos responded lightly, refusing to be baited. If 
O'Neill was upset that he'd accepted Ptahsennes' challenge then the 
colonel would just have to live with it. Some things were more 
important than following orders. "There're some stairs here," he said, 
shining his light up into the corner. "Should be an exit, but I think 
it's blocked."

The others came over, O'Neill taking the lead as he climbed the rough 
hewn steps. "Looks like part of the building above collapsed," he 
called down. "I can see light though, so it can't be too deep. Teal'c, 
you wanna give me a hand here?"

The big man handed his staff to Daniel then made his way up the stairs. 
In short order they had enough of the debris cleared for everyone to 
scramble through the opening. Outside, night was falling and the air 
was redolent with the heavy scent of rain, green grass and moist earth.

O'Neill breathed deeply and sighed. "At least it's not a desert," he 
said to no one in particular. "So, where are we? Any ideas?"

Carter looked around at the tumbled down stones of the structure 
covered with lichen and vines then glanced at the darkening sky and 
shook her head. "It doesn't look familiar, sir. But," she added, 
reaching around to remove the lap top computer she always carried in 
her pack. "I should be able to triangulate our location from the 
position of the stars."

"That won't be necessary," Methos whispered softly, seeming stunned as 
he stared off into the distance. "I know where we are. I'm just not 
sure of when."

"When?!" O'Neill repeated, eyes going wide.

Methos nodded slowly. "Daniel?" He waved the younger man over to where 
he stood then pointed toward a not too distant peak. "That's Mt. 
Parnassus, isn't it?"

Daniel peered through his glasses, eyes going round with shock. "Uh, it 
looks like it. But..." he looked back over his shoulder, past the ruins 
behind them and into the distance, shaking his head.

"Go on," Methos told him quietly. "Say it."

"If that's Mt. Parnassus," Daniel shrugged, looking flabbergasted as he 
pointed southwest. "Then that should be Delphi. But it can't be. The 
city's missing."

"Not missing," Methos sighed, glancing up at the few stars already 
peeking through the atmosphere. "And it's not really a city. Not yet 
anyway. It's still just a local shrine with a rather large village 
attached to it."

"What are you saying?" O'Neill demanded.

Methos shook his head, turning to look at the building they'd just 
crawled out of. The cast of the stone and the monumental size of them. 
Then he looked back at the mountain and closed his eyes briefly as he 
remembered. "I know this place," he whispered.

"Okay," O'Neill said. "That's a good thing, right?"

Methos simply stared at him for a long moment then turned to Samantha. 
"Major, if you'll look to the eastern horizon you will see Andromeda. 
She's lower in the sky than you're used to, but it's still her, isn't 

Carter looked where he pointed and nodded slowly. "It looks like the 
constellation Andromeda, but the position's all wrong."

"No, it's not wrong," Methos said slowly. "Or... It's right for the 
time, but we're wrong."

"Wait a minute," O'Neill interjected. "Is he saying what I think he's 
saying? Carter? Daniel? Tell me we're not doing this again!"

"I'm sorry, sir," the major apologized. "But Pierson is right. This is 
definitely Earth -- probably somewhere in Greece, if that is Mt. 
Parnassus. But I'd have to guess we're at least a couple of thousand 
years from where we should be."

"More like three," Methos corrected her softly.

"Are you sure?" Daniel breathed, swallowing hard as Methos nodded 

"Aw, damn!" O'Neill fumed. "I hate this time travel bullshit!"

"Well, I'm not thrilled with it either!" Methos retorted, suddenly more 
angry than startled by the strangeness of it all. "I've been here, 
remember? Itchy woolen blankets for clothing. Chickens, pigs and goats 
sleeping in your bedroom," he recounted disgustedly. "And let's not 
forget the civilized world's favorite pastime -- taking your enemy's 
head and spitting it on a tall pointy stick as you parade through town 
at festival time! You never once! Not once!" he complained bitterly. 
"Said anything about time travel when you coerced me into this Stargate 

"Guys! Guys!" Daniel interjected, pleadingly as O'Neill scowled 
furiously. "We can figure a way out of here, just like we did the last 
time. All we need to do is work out how we got here and reverse the 
process. Right, Sam?"

Carter said nothing, glancing toward the mountain as the others looked 
to her for an answer. "It's worth a try," she finally agreed.

O'Neill took a deep breath and sighed, relaxing slowly. "We," he wagged 
a finger at Methos, "will talk later. For now," he ordered, moving 
toward a patch of clear ground beside the ruins. "Let's sort out the 
supplies and make camp while we try and get a handle on this thing."


Methos sat quietly, ignoring everyone as he cleaned his sword by the 
fire. Having lost his pack back when he'd fought Ptahsennes, he'd built 
the fire using a bit of flint he'd found in the dirt and the edge of 
his sword, leaving the others to cook their freeze dried rations while 
he searched through the ruins until he'd found an old whetstone.

Nearby, he could feel O'Neill watching him. Worried, Methos supposed, 
about whether he'd made the right decision in dragging his 'minion' 
back from Nepal. Then again, maybe not, Methos thought wryly. For all 
his bluster, O'Neill seemed to like him. More importantly, he was 
unafraid -- without needing to denigrate Methos' abilities in order to 
achieve that fearless state.

He heard rather than saw O'Neill wordlessly pick up a plate of food and 
come to sit beside him on the other side of the fire.

"I'm sorry about your friend," O'Neill said quietly as he placed the 
food beside him. "Daniel told me what happened. Why he challenged you."

Methos gave a half shrug and nodded. "Ptahsennes was a good man," he 
offered. "I shall miss him."

"Then why'd you do it?" O'Neill asked, squinting into the fire as if 
he'd find his answer there. "I thought you didn't like challenges."

"I didn't mean to kill him," Methos admitted, finally sheathing his 
sword. "But I knew Ptahsennes. He would have felt honor bound to hunt 
me. And I thought," he sighed sadly. "I thought if I gave him a good 
fight, made him feel as though he'd tried his best to defeat me, but I 
won and spared his life, he would also feel honor bound to let the past 
go. We might not have been friends, but at least he would have been 

"But you slipped." Methos gave him a look of surprise. "Carter told 

The Immortal nodded. "I played a dangerous game," he agreed. "And 
Ptahsennes lost." Another regret, he thought bitterly, added to a list 
that was already far too long.

They sat for a time just watching the fire. "You should eat 
something," O'Neill finally told him. "Have some protein with that 
iron," he nodded at the sword.

Methos smiled wryly and picked up the plate. He didn't have much of an 
appetite, but he ate anyway, feeling a little less like a pariah after 
his outburst.

"You know," he told Jack, between bites. "I really should have guessed 
about the time travel."

"How's that?"

"Because Tok'ra said something to me before he disappeared," Methos 
began slowly. "Actually, it was the very last thing he said. I didn't 
know what it meant then. I wasn't even sure I'd heard it right. But 
now, after what happen in Egypt, I'm beginning to wonder."

"That's...interesting. But utterly meaningless. Since I don't know what 
the hell you're talking about."

Methos grimaced, knowing O'Neill was probably not going to be very 
happy with him once he explained. "The last thing Tok'ra said to me 
sounded like, 'The ninth symbol is Time'. I mean, it may have 
absolutely nothing to do with what happened to us, I just thought I 
ought to mention it."

For a long moment O'Neill simply stared at him then turned to the 
others. "After Daniel punched in the address," he asked tersely, "did 
anyone else see a bunch of stuff fall on the DHD? And maybe a couple of 
extra key pads lighting up?"

"I didn't see the pads," Daniel cocked his head, looking perplexed. 
"But like you said, the ceiling was caving in. Some of it must have hit 
the DHD."

"I didn't see it either, sir," Carter admitted. "But I thought the 
outer track took a long time to lock into place."

"It did," Teal'c nodded.

"What I thought," O'Neill sighed tiredly. "Pierson here says Tok'ra 
made a death bed confession. Only he didn't get it. And someone," he 
glared at Methos, "didn't bother to read the memo on what constitutes a 
debriefing. Like, reporting the little things all-powerful beings tell 
us before they vanish into the space time continuum."

"Sir," Carter asked. "What did Tok'ra say?"

"Oh, nothing much. Just some stuff about the ninth chevron representing 

They all stared at Methos, who merely shrugged. "I thought he was just 
being profound. You know, something I'd figure out in a few thousand 
years. It's not like we even use eight."

"Actually," Daniel said uncomfortably. "The eighth is used for 
intergalactic travel."

"Apparently, no one sent me the memo on that one either," Methos glared 
back at Jack.

"I'm not sure any of this really matters," Carter interjected. "The 
number of variables needed to come up with an exact address for 
returning to a specific point in time are astronomical. Just hitting 
the keys randomly won't do it."

"But we have seen the gate used as time travel device before," Daniel 
pointed out. 

O'Neill shook his head. "1969 was an accident, Daniel." 

"Yes, but the time loop incident wasn't. That was a deliberate attempt 
to alter the fabric of Time."

Carter nodded. "True. But the Ancients themselves failed to make it 
work. If they knew it was possible to use the gate for time travel, why 
would they have gone to the trouble of creating a separate device to 
send their whole world back in time? Why not just send someone back to 
change history?"

"They might not have known it was possible," Methos interjected, though 
the others looked doubtful. "The Ancients who designed the gate system 
might not have given that little piece of information out to everybody. 
It's not the kind of thing I'd put in the manual. Too easy to abuse. 
I'd keep it for special circumstances, if I even used it at all."

"Yes," Teal'c said quietly. "It would not be prudent to disseminate 
such information. And there are many symbols on the gates we have seen 
which do not correspond to any known star systems. If only one 
represented the aspect of Time we would not know it."

"But you'd still need an awful lot of power going into the gate in 
order to make use of it," Carter pointed out.

"Ptahsennes' Quickening," Daniel theorized. "It could have charged the 
gate enough to make it possible."

"It could have," the major admitted. "But that doesn't explain why the 
wormhole changed color and undulated."

"Maybe it was confused," Methos said softly, drawing stares. "Look," he 
said. "From what I gather, the technology the Ancients used was vastly 
different from ours. Tok'ra implied they were beings who didn't really 
need bodies anymore -- they were essentially all mind. And from what 
you've told me, at least some Goa'uld technology requires an element of 
thought control to make certain objects work."

"Like the hand devices," Carter nodded.

"Exactly," Methos went on. "Suppose the gate was accidentally set for 
time travel mode, but needed the mental input to really make it work? 
Maybe it got something from one us. The last historic date we all 
thought about in common was the year Shishak went to Jerusalem. Well, I 
hate to tell you this, but if we aren't pretty close to it I'd be 
awfully surprised."

"Maybe," Carter tentatively agreed. "Or maybe it just went to the 
nearest available gate in time at the same location for which it had 
been programmed."

"The nearest available gate was at the SGC," O'Neill pointed out.

Carter took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I'm not sure it was, 
sir. I've been going over the data I took from the ship. If my 
calculations are right..."

"And they usually are," O'Neill muttered.

"...I don't think the gate in Colorado exists anymore."

"Run that by me again." 

"Sir, I'm sorry. But when I said the ship was safe I was working from a 
misconception. I neglected to take into account the effect of the 
radiation on the naquada used in building the ship."

Daniel drew a horrified breath. "She's right, Jack. Radiation and 
naquada don't mix well. Or, they do, but the result is more dangerous. 
Remember Ra?"

"Yeah, I remember," O'Neill nodded soberly. "Together they make a 
bigger bomb. But you said there was no radiation left in that ship, 

"There wasn't," she admitted. "Because it was all absorbed by the 
naquada in the hull. Over time, it must have changed its molecular 
structure, making it unstable."

"But they've got shields for that," O'Neill said, looking to Teal'c. 
"Don't they?"

"Not," the Jaffa pointed out, "on the inside. Radioactive material is 
strictly prohibited aboard Goa'uld ships, on pain of death."

"Are you telling me," O'Neill asked slowly. "That when that ship blew 
it became the world's biggest bomb?"

Carter bit her lip and nodded. "I think so, sir."

"You think so?! You either know or you don't, Major. I need an 
answer!" O'Neill demanded.

"Yes, sir," she said quietly. "But there's only one way to know for 
sure. We need to find a way to dial out and see if anyone's at home."


"That's the sequence," Jack said, pointing to the key pads on the DHD 
inside the ruins.

Carter shook her head. "It might work. But we still need the same kind 
of power Ptahsennes Quickening provided. If," she added dubiously, 
"that's what caused us to jump in the first place." 

"Uh, Sam. If your calculations are right and this is 926 BC," Daniel 
said softly. "Then this is the sub-Mycenean period. It's a Dark Age in 
Greece. We're just not going to find that kind of power here."

"I might be able to help with that," Methos smiled.

O'Neill gave him a wry grimace. "I may be pissed at you, Pierson, but 
I'm not going to cut off your head just to see if this works!"

Methos' eyes went wide. "I wouldn't even suggest it!" he insisted. "But 
older Immortals do have some control over the planet's electrical 

Daniel shook his head. "We need the equivalent of several bolts of 
lighting, Adam. Not just a random electrical discharge."

"Come," Methos smiled, ushering them up the stairs and back outside. 
The morning was bright and clear, though it had rained on and off 
during the night. There was a chill in the air, but the sun was warming 
the land as it drew high. Methos shooed them all away. "Stand back, 
children. I'm about to scare the dickens out of you." 

O'Neill rolled his eyes and found a seat on some fallen stones as 
Methos strode into the open closer to the tree line.

This probably wasn't the wisest thing to do, he silently admitted as he 
set himself with feet apart, threw back his head and closed his eyes. 
Still, there was no help for it if he wanted to go home and not spend 
the next three thousand years quite literally reliving the nightmares 
of his past.

He took a deep breath, reaching from within himself for the power he 
remembered. In the distance, thunder roared as he raised his arm and 
called the lightening to him. It crackled above, refusing to be tamed. 
Then he focused his will with a shout of triumph and pulled down the 
power of the heavens. It came in searing waves and strikes, burning his 
skin until he pointed his other arm, throwing the lightening into the 
trees. Again and again, he did this, having forgotten the joy of this 
particular venture. So many years in hiding, so many gains forsaken. 
Immortals played with lightening. With the power and the willingness to 
simply be a conduit.

When he'd finally had enough, Methos eased back and lowered his arms, 
enjoying the last caress of the static discharge as it traveled across 
his skin. With a sigh of pure pleasure he opened his eyes to find his 
mortal companions staring in open mouthed horror.

I might have overdone it just a tad, he thought with chagrin as he 
rejoined them, sprawling on the grass near Carter's feet. "Think it'll 
get the job done?"

Silence greeted him until Jack frowned and spoke up. "Show off."

Methos laughed. "God!" he sighed, falling back in relief. "I haven't 
done that in ages. I'd forgotten how much fun that was."

"Fun?" Teal'c asked, clearly appalled. "Power like that is what made 
the Goa'uld evil."

"True," Methos admitted quietly, slowly sitting up and stretching. "But 
then the Goa'uld don't have any limits placed on them by an outside 
agency. I haven't been able to do that freely in over two thousand 
years. Repercussions and consequences tend to keep one honest."

The Jaffa nodded thoughtfully. "Then you must have such fun more 

"Sure," O'Neill shrugged. "We'll take him out to Area 51. He can have 
all the fun he wants there. In the meantime, Carter?"

She finally closed her mouth and nodded. "If he can direct it at the 
gate, sir, it should work."

"Good," O'Neill said, then looked around at Daniel to see how he'd 
taken the whole fireworks display. 

Methos nervously followed his gaze. "You okay, Danny?"

The archaeologist said nothing, simply staring at the smoking, 
splintered trees across the clearing. 

"He's speechless," O'Neill grinned appreciatively. "Which is actually a 
good thing," he added, suddenly quite serious. "Because none of you 
ever saw this," he looked at the others. "No one needs to know, because 
it never happened. Understood?"

Teal'c and Carter nodded in agreement, then O'Neill gave Daniel a 
little shove. "You gettin' this, Danny?"

"Uh, yeah," the younger man nodded.

"You sure?" O'Neill asked.

Finally, Daniel looked at Methos. "Yeah, I'm sure," he answered softly. 
Then, "They'd take you apart for that, wouldn't they?" he asked, no 
doubt reminded of Methos' unceremonious and painful introduction to the 

Methos only smiled wistfully at his innocence. "No, Danny," he said 
quietly. "For that," he pointed to the smoking ruin of the trees. 
"They'd kill me."

Chapter 6

O'Neill shook his head, looking around the heavily wooded area while 
they waited on Carter to finish running another simulation. The 
Stargate was rigged with fishing wire from their survival kits and 
attached to Methos' sword in place of a lightening rod to create a 
focal point for the energies he would call. It should work, the major 
insisted, but just to be sure she wanted to run a few models.

"There's something I just don't get," O'Neill finally muttered. "What's 
a Stargate doing in the middle of Ancient Greece? And why hasn't it 
been active until now?"

"It's probably from the original Shrine of Pythias at Delphi," Daniel 

"Oh, now that's helpful," O'Neill rolled his eyes.

Methos smiled wryly. "In mythology," he explained. "The god Pythias 
often took the form of a python."

"Another snakehead," O'Neill grimaced in disgust.

"Very likely," Methos agreed. 

"According to the legend," Daniel explained. "Pythias fought Apollo and 
lost. Only to be trapped in his lair at the center of the earth. The 
passage down was supposedly at Delphi. After the battle, the Omphalos, 
or passageway, was sealed over and another temple erected on the site, 
where the Sibyl, a sort of mystic cum fortune teller priestess, became 
the Oracle of Apollo."

"Supposedly," Methos said, taking up the story. "Pythias' breath came 
from a hole left in the ground and inhaling the fumes gave whoever sat 
on the stone above the Omphalos the ability to see the future. Bunch of 
drug addled bimbos muttering nonsense, if you ask me," he snorted 

"You never went to the Oracle at Delphi?" Daniel asked, surprised.

"Oh, I went," Methos nodded. "257 BC," he recalled. "It was great fun. 
Sort of like going to Vegas. You know it's going to cost a fortune and 
everything's in favor of the house, but you go anyway, just to see what 
all the hype is about."

"So what did you ask her?"

"When I'd die, of course."

O'Neill laughed. "What'd she say?"

"That I was mocking her and to get the hell out," Methos smirked. 
"Woman had no sense of humor."

"She knew what you were?" Daniel asked, astonished.

"Of course she did," Methos grinned. "She was Immortal. Liked to play 
handmaiden of the gods. Kept her safe on holy ground for centuries. I 
did run into her again a few years back. Owns an occult book shop in 
New York. Still no sense of humor," he sighed.

O'Neill grinned and shook his head while Daniel looked vaguely shocked.

The colonel finally sighed. "That's...interesting, but what does it 
have to do with the gate downstairs?"

"Nothing," Methos shrugged. "Except that some of the original Pythians 
probably survived and brought the gate here in the hope that one day 
the god would rise."

"When most of Greece was leveled by a series of earthquakes," Daniel 
added, glancing at the ruins. "Maybe only the gate survived."

"My guess," Methos commented. "Is that it will soon be buried in 
another one. Much the same as every other gate the Goa'uld might have 
left behind."

"That brings to mind another problem," Daniel said softly. "If this 
doesn't work, what are we going to do? We can't stay here."

"It'll work," O'Neill insisted, refusing to give up hope.

Methos nodded. It had better work, he thought, because right now they 
were running out of options. Most of all, he didn't fancy spending the 
next three thousand years avoiding the Horsemen. Especially since he'd 
also have to avoid himself in all those places he'd been avoiding the 

Behind them, Carter emerged from the ruins, Teal'c trailing beside. 
"We're ready, sir."

Methos rose with the rest of the team, but stayed at the entrance 
above. This would be tricky, he knew, to call the Quickening and not 
lose himself in the power as he waited for the gate to open then to 
grab his sword as he ran and leap through the gate before it could 
close once the current died. But then, the simplest of plans were often 
the most dangerous and if he missed his chance he would be stuck here 
unless the others could find a way to get him back.

"Okay," Carter murmured, checking the connections one last time. "Let's 
do it."

They moved back against the far wall watching as Methos raised his arm 
and called the lightening, directing it to his sword and from there to 
the gate itself. With enough power energizing the gate, Carter darted 
out and programmed the DHD. They got ready to run, watching as the 
outer track turned and the chevrons locked. Then...nothing. 

A moment later, when it was obvious they weren't leaving O'Neill called 
to Methos telling him to stand down. Exhausted, he fell to his knees, 
blearily watching as Teal'c gathered up his sword and the others joined 
him above.

"Well, that was a big bust," O'Neill muttered, leaning down to grab 
Methos under the arms and haul him outside. "You okay?"

The Immortal nodded. "Bitterly disappointed," he admitted. "I was so 
hoping Major Carter was wrong."

"I too am unhappy," Teal'c stated, offering Methos his sword.

"You're not the only ones," Daniel said, sinking to the grass beside 
his companions.

"Well, there is another option," Carter pointed out, joining them. "We 
find a place to live quietly and in three thousand years Captain 
Pierson makes sure we don't ever go to that ship."

Methos raised his brows. "Thanks for the vote of confidence in terms of 
my continued survival, Major, but what in the world will I do for the 
next three thousand years while I'm waiting to pull your asses out of 
the fire?"

"Whatever you did for the last three thousand," she said calmly. "Once 
you warn us and we don't go, history will have changed and this will 
have never happened. The timeline will correct itself and the original 
Methos will still be part of the SGC never having gone back in time."

"So, I will simply cease to exist," Methos surmised. "How kind of you 
to offer me that option."

"It's just an idea," O'Neill told him. "We can try something else 
before it comes to that."

"Like what?" Daniel asked. "If that ship explodes again the chain 
reaction is still going to rip the atmosphere from the planet. We need 
to find a way to stop it."

"What about the Tok'ra?" O'Neill asked.

"Even if we knew where some of them were this far back in time it still 
wouldn't do us any good," Daniel pointed out. "We need to prevent that 
ship from exploding."

"Then we must go to Egypt and await the arrival of the Goa'uld," Teal'c 
stated blandly. "Once there, we will find a way to prevent your world's 
destruction and utilize their gate to return us to our own time."

A stunned silence greeted his suggestion, until Methos finally nodded. 
"It might just work. I mean, we've got two years to get there."

Chapter 7

By late afternoon they'd succeeded in setting up a more permanent camp 
next to the eastern wall of the ruins with a hastily constructed 
shelter made of tent halves and emergency blankets. Layering on their 
street clothes underneath their thin desert uniforms had added extra 
protection against the sudden drop in temperature the rains had 
brought. A large fire warmed the area sufficiently, though the looming 
cloud cover atop Mt. Parnassus foretold more bad weather to come. A 
quick inventory of their supplies had revealed enough freeze dried 
rations, energy bars and candy to last about two weeks, if they were 
careful. But Methos had plans to supplement that by hunting as well as 
to go shopping.

"Shopping?" O'Neill asked, obviously surprised at the suggestion.

"Yeah," Methos grinned. "Shopping. We need stuff. Like clothes, food, 
blankets, a donkey. Daniel's right, O'Neill. We can't remain here 
indefinitely and leave for Egypt when the time comes. We've got to move 

"Why now?"

Methos gave a quiet sigh. How could he expect these children of the 
modern age to truly understand? "First," he explained patiently. "It 
may be winter and travel is limited, but there are still people moving 
around out there," he gestured toward the forest. "The locals may be 
superstitious about this place and not come here, but others might. And 
being afraid of something doesn't necessarily mean you're afraid to 
fight the evil demons who've suddenly sprung up in your backyard. Quite 
the opposite, in fact, believe me."

"Okay. We need to move. Got it," O'Neill nodded. "Next?"

"Second," Methos went on. "We can't run around dressed in these clothes 
and not expect to be challenged. The Dorians never were a placid bunch, 
even once they got settled hereabouts. They're a tribal people and 
still very suspicious of foreigners. We need to look like them as much 
as possible, so that even if they know we're not from around here 
they'll think we're not too distantly related. Following the forms and 
customs is always a good idea."

"Great," Jack grimaced. "We all get to wear itchy woolen blankets for 

"I'll buy some linen for linings," Methos smiled, wondering vaguely why 
he hadn't thought of that three thousand years ago. "I promise, you 
won't get a rash."

"Gee, thanks, Dad!" O'Neill rolled his eyes. "And the donkey?"

"A donkey and cart to start. Eventually we'll need horses. These," he 
held up the torn wrapper of an energy bar, "do not exist. Everything 
comes in sacks, baskets or clay jars. Which means we'll need pack 
animals to carry our supplies. And once you add them into the equation 
the logistics have to be proportionately enlarged. Grain and food 
stuffs for us, oats for the donkeys and horses. And we'll need travel 
supplies. Tents, bedding, cookware, and items to barter when cash money 
won't suffice. There aren't any inns yet, Colonel, and we can't just 
wander into town looking for the familiar golden arches."

"Did you have to say that?" O'Neill complained, staring miserably at 
his energy bar. "Damn! Now I want a burger and fries."

"That's something else you won't see much of for a while," Methos told 
him softly. "Meat, especially beef, is very expensive. Most people make 
do with fish and the occasional fowl. Pork and goat are available, but 
usually only eaten after they're sacrificed. And in Egypt most meals, 
even in wealthy houses, consist mainly of bread and beer. Of course, 
we'll supplement that with cheese, fruit, fish and as much meat as we 
can afford, but don't expect the quality to be as good as you might 

"Sounds yummy," the colonel grumbled. "So, when do we leave for the 

"I'm leaving. You're not."

"Are you ashamed of us?"

Methos grinned, looking around the fire at his companions' bemused 
expressions. "Maybe later -- when you all start scratching in public," 
he smirked. "For now though, not one of you is safe beyond this 
clearing. Teal'c," he nodded at the big Jaffa. "Is far too exotic 
without the appropriate entourage. Major Carter and Daniel," he shook 
his head as he looked at the pair. "Let's just say blondes are rare in 
this part of the world and highly prized. As for you," he looked at 
O'Neill. "I'd feel a whole lot better if you stayed to guard them while 
I'm gone."

"We can take care of ourselves," Samantha insisted.

"He's talking about slavery, Carter," O'Neill pointed out.

"Or worse," Methos sighed. "Let me be blunt, Major. You're both not 
only blonde, but your skin is fair and you're attractive. Tell me, 
Danny, you know the times. With a combination like that where would you 
expect to end up?"

The archaeologist flushed deeply, but nodded. "Probably a brothel -- if 
we were lucky. Personal pets of some local ruler if we're not."

"Lucky?!" Carter asked, horrified.

"Lucky as it gets," Methos shrugged. "You'd be better off in a brothel. 
If it's a good house the owner's less likely to beat you if you're 
bringing in good money -- which you certainly would because of your 
hair and eyes. And the customers would give you gifts. Eventually, you 
might even get enough money to buy yourself out, but not until you were 
used up by the amount of trade you'd be forced to endure. And then what 
would you do?" he added pointedly. "You have no useful skills like 
weaving or sewing. And no one would be likely to marry you because you 
wouldn't have a dowry, or a family line which could be traced. The fact 
is," he told her honestly. "This world is not friendly to those without 
the means of survival, Major. There are no social services, no 
charitable organizations and no international movements rallying to 
free the slaves. They are, quite simply, appliances. Human washing 
machines and industrial cogs."

Samantha grimaced, looking obviously disgusted. "So, we all just sit 
back while you to take care of us?" she finally asked, very much 

"Just for a little while," he said gently. "Once we're on the road 
things will be different. You'll all have your parts to play in our 
little charade."

"Don't tell me," O'Neill grimaced wryly. "You've got a plan."

"Don't I always?" Methos smiled widely.


"Oh, this was a great plan," Methos muttered angrily as he wended his 
way through the forest. He was cold and wet and desperately hungry, 
since he'd refused to take what little supplies the others had. Just a 
canteen for water and some strips of rabbit he'd caught the night 
before. In his pocket he had twenty-two copper pennies, the total sum 
of useful coinage they'd had among them. He had other coins, but the 
metal being unknown might not go over well with the locals. They'd 
probably take it, but not at a fair exchange rate like the copper -- it 
being used in combination with tin to make bronze. And much of it, he 
knew, would go towards their immediate purchases. He would have to 
think of something else to help them survive. Had, in fact, already 
thought of it, but it was an idea he knew none of them would like.

The scent of burning wood caught his attention and he made his way 
toward whatever little hovel he might be lucky enough to have stumbled 
upon. There were few roads this far into the back country and dressed 
as he was he didn't dare travel on anything more established than a 
goat track.

He was surprised then when he reached the edge of the forest to find a 
fairly large farm house on the outskirts of what appeared to be a 
village. But then he'd spent most of his time during this period in 
Greek history in Africa or Asia Minor. Civilized places where the 
cities and towns were more to his liking. He and the Horsemen had been 
through here a few times, but they'd never stayed longer than a few 
decades at most. The Myceneans had been far too eager to fight and 
after the collapse of their civilization there wasn't much gold to be 
had anyway. The Dorians, who now dominated the area after taking 
advantage of that collapse and successfully invading, might have been 
less organized, but they had also been far less acquisitive than the 
Horsemen had liked.

He moved through the woods, carefully screening himself in the foliage 
until he'd edged around toward the front of the house. Inside, two 
women were chatting and he could hear their laughter drifting in his 
direction. There were no men about, Methos smiled to himself, imagining 
that they were probably in the village gossiping and drinking wine with 
the rest of the farmers. This being the rainy season there wasn't much 
to do on a farm after the animals got fed and the goats got milked. 
Only a single male slave watched at the door and an old one at that. A 
sop to convention that said the women must never be left alone and 
unguarded. He didn't see any children, but they might be in the village 
as well, running wild with the rest of the urchins until a slave was 
sent to call them home.

Methos pulled out his zat gun and carefully moved out toward the side 
of the house. Staying close to the wall he edged around the corner to 
the front, where the slave seemed to have nodded off. He fired once 
then caught the man before he could fall into the mud beside the door. 
No alarm came from the house and Methos easily pulled the man inside.

Without thinking about it twice he quickly stripped the man of his 
tunic and sandals. Good wool, he thought. Not, he was glad, simply a 
threadbare, cut down castoff of the master's. Likely made new by the 
women of the house because the slave been with them a long while and 
they were rather fond of the old fart. He bundled the clothes and 
sandals inside his jacket and turned to leave, pausing for a moment to 
look back. The man was old by the standard of the times and would 
certainly be punished for the loss -- even if no sane man would give 
away his only clothing. Still, masters as he well knew, did not have to 
be rational in their ire. Cloth and leather were expensive and quick 
replacements might not be easy to find. With a silent sigh he pulled a 
penny from his pocket and put it on the floor beside the old man. Far 
more than the items were worth, but whatever excuse he gave the family 
that owned him at least now they could afford not to beat him too hard. 

He ran for the woods, moving swiftly through the undergrowth, still 
feeling the tiny rush of adrenaline his little adventure had caused. It 
sustained him until he deemed he was far enough away from the village 
to stop and make use of the things he'd bought. 

Well, not exactly bought, Methos thought wryly as he changed his 
clothes. Still, it was close enough for his scruples to suit even the 
Highlander's morals. Well, maybe not his, Methos thought, with a 
grimace of distaste. Not unless he'd found a warm blanket for the old 
slave and tucked him up safe for the night before running off. On the 
other hand, he knew what most people in this day and age were like. And 
he didn't doubt for a moment that if he'd offered the same money to the 
women they'd have thought nothing of stripping the old, much favored 
slave bare on the spot. 

Feeling less like a hunted man than he probably should have without his 
sword, though he did have a pair of daggers strapped to his sides, 
Methos rolled up his own clothes, wrapping them inside his uniform 
jacket. His combat boots would have been better for this terrain, he 
sighed in dismay, but they just wouldn't work with the chiton. Pity, he 
thought, but he'd just have to put up with mud between his toes and the 
occasional rock. 

"Now for the donkey," he muttered with a disgusted sigh. At least then 
he could ride.

Chapter 8

He was an odd looking slave when he rode into Delphi, but they were 
used to that. Even before the rest of the country was back on its 
collective feet in another century or so, the Oracle still had visitors 
coming from far and wide. Not as many as it would eventually have, and 
not nearly as often, but enough to mask his presence and for Methos 
that was all right.

They didn't ask where he was from, or care much about him at all except 
to remark on the fairness of his skin. What concerned the small 
shopkeepers was the weight and purity of his coin. And none cared at 
all how he came by it. He was obviously a trusted slave to be deemed so 
responsible at such a young age. He was also well mannered, though not 
disgustingly servile. So they sold him a small cart and some ready made 
clothes at exorbitant prices and counted themselves lucky even if his 
master was an idiot. No one bought clothes made ready to wear except 
foreign fools and motherless bachelors.

With eight pennies left in his pocket Methos went on a shopping spree, 
but this time he bargained hard. When he was done both the cart and the 
donkey were overloaded with jars of foodstuffs, chests of linen, 
leather and bolts of lesser quality wool cloth along with numerous 
household items. And with his last penny he purchased another sword.

Hiding a smile he urged the donkey forward and with a gentle flick of 
the reins he started back. When spring came and foaling season arrived 
he'd be back to buy the horses -- and maybe a little something more.


"He said it could take a week or more, so no, Daniel, I'm not 
worried." O'Neill scooped another handful of clay from the stream into 
the sack he'd made out of his rain poncho. "Not yet, anyway."

"Well, I am," the archaeologist muttered. "Adam's out there alone and 
virtually unarmed. What if he runs into another Immortal. Damn it! He 
wouldn't even be in this mess if I hadn't recommended him for that 
translation job."

"Feeling a little guilty, are we?"

"Maybe I am," Daniel admitted. "It's just... It can't be easy for him. 
Look at us. I don't know about you, but this isn't my idea of a good 

"You managed well enough on Abydos," O'Neill pointed out.

"That was different. I had Sha're to think of and for the first six 
months I barely felt the culture shock. Then reality set in and I had 
to go into the fields with the others, even if I was teaching most of 
the rest of the time."

"You did good, Daniel. And Pierson will be fine. He's been here and 
done that, remember?"

"That's not the point," he muttered, turning as Carter came part way 
down the path.

"Colonel!" she called urgently. "Teal'c just radioed in. Someone's 

O'Neill handed Daniel the clay filled rain poncho and went to meet her. 
"Is it Pierson?"

"He thinks so, sir, but he can't be sure. He's still a ways out."

O'Neill nodded and strode back up the path toward the hills behind the 
temple where they'd built their new camp. The day after Methos had left 
it had rained so long and hard that the temple had flooded, so they'd 
moved to higher ground and dug in for the duration. More importantly, 
it had a good view of the land on all sides. A short while later he 
reached the top and joined Teal'c in their observation post, easily 
climbing up the rope they'd secured to a tree and into the branches 

"Which direction?" O'Neill asked the Jaffa, who lounged comfortably 
several feet away.

"From the south," he pointed. "One man leading a beast and a cart."

O'Neill pulled out his binoculars and had a look. A tall thin man 
completely wrapped in what looked like a blanket trudged along leading 
a donkey and cart up the narrow, overgrown path that led to the temple. 
The man paused in his journey long enough to push back the cloth that 
covered his head to take a drink from the canteen which hung from the 
side of the cart.

"It's him," O'Neill grinned.

"Shall we go meet him?" Teal'c asked.

O'Neill shook his head. "Nah," he smiled. "He looks okay from here. And 
besides," he added as he felt something cool and wet splash against his 
cheek. "It's starting to rain."


"Come on, girl," Methos urged the donkey. "Just a little bit further 
and you can have a nice rest and something to eat where it's toasty 
warm and dry."

The animal balked again at the up slope in the path and Methos sighed 
in despair. He missed cars and buses and floor board heating, and right 
about now he wouldn't even mind getting one of those annoying 
telemarketing phone calls. He moved up the path in the dark, tripping 
as his long chiton, soaked and heavy with rain water, wrapped around 
his ankles pulling him down into the rocky mud.

God, he thought miserably, shivering as the wind whipped him cruelly, 
he'd forgotten just how awful it was.

"Need some help, soldier?" he heard as the brilliant glare of a 
flashlight beam suddenly blinded him.

Wincing, Methos shielded his eyes with his arm. "Christ, O'Neill! It's 
about fucking time! Just how long have you been watching?!"

Strong hands helped him to his feet as he heard the colonel chuckling 
from above. Teal'c, he realized with relief as the big man threw an arm 
around his shoulders. 

"Couple of hours," O'Neill told him as the Jaffa practically lifted him 
the rest of the way up the path. "You were doing okay until your friend 
there decided to stop."

Ah, he thought, suddenly understanding. This was his punishment for not 
revealing Tok'ra's little message at the proper time. So be it, Methos 
thought, too tired to argue. 

The light went off as he sensed two figures moving past him in dark.

"Glad you're safe, Adam," Daniel murmured, laying a hand on his 

"There's warm food back at camp," Samantha added. "Why don't you go dry 

He nodded tiredly in response, barely noticing when Teal'c turned back 
to help take charge of the donkey and cart and O'Neill led him past the 

"We moved to higher ground a week or so ago," he informed Methos as he 
helped him up the path. "It's a little rough, but we're working on it."

A structure loomed against the dark and for a moment Methos thought he 
was seeing an old style barracks. Then he was inside and his tired eyes 
grew round as he got his first look at what these children of the 
modern age had wrought.

It was indeed a barracks of sorts. A little rectangular house made of 
rough hewn logs with a clay floor covered in straw. In one corner of 
the room granite blocks from the ruins and field stone had been used to 
create a huge hearth with a small opening in the ceiling just above to 
draw the smoke out. To build the roof they'd obviously scavenged timber 
from the old temple's ceiling. Good seasoned wood originally coated in 
pitch and meant to last a dozen generations or more. The cracks had 
been filled in with more clay and probably covered over with sod for 
extra warmth.

"Like I said," O'Neill shrugged. "It's rough, but it keeps the rain 

Rough? Methos thought, astonished. "I've seen rich men living in 
worse," he mumbled, staggering towards the fire.

"Hey! Hey!" O'Neill called. "You're dripping on my floor!"

Methos sighed exhaustedly and briefly closed his eyes. Modern children, 
modern sensibilities, he thought wryly. With a shrug of his shoulders 
the himation, his cloak, fell to floor, quickly followed by the chiton. 
With practiced fingers he unlaced his sandals, walking away from the 
nasty wet pile dressed only in his dignity and sank limply to his 
haunches by the hearth.

Behind him, he could hear O'Neill muttering as he picked up after him, 
but didn't bother to pay attention. He was chilled to the bone and 
starving. The packet of bread, cheese, fish and olives he'd bought in 
Delphi had run out the day before and opening the wax seals on the jars 
would have ruined the contents. "Carter mentioned food," he whispered 

O'Neill came up behind him and laid a uniform jacket across his 
shoulders, dropping a dry pair of jeans and a tee shirt beside him into 
which Methos hurriedly scrambled.

"In here," Jack said, shoving aside a large flat paving stone from the 
front of the hearth. Inset into the blocks they'd left an opening, 
lined it with clay to hold the heat and built an oven. 

Methos grunted in surprise. "Clever," he murmured, then moaned softly 
as he inhaled the marvelous aroma of the food inside.

"Carter's idea," O'Neill grinned, grabbing a plate and fork from a 
stack nearby. "Me? I'd have just gone with a spit. Barbecue style."

Methos nodded. So would he. But trust a woman to design a better, more 
serviceable hearth.

O'Neill speared a couple of small birds onto the plate then used one of 
the camping cups to ladle some vegetables beside it.

"You've done well," Methos said appreciatively, noting the wild onions, 
turnips and mushrooms that now graced the plate O'Neill handed over.

"Just the basics," he responded, watching Methos savor his first bite. 
"The Air Force requires survival training for all its pilots. This is 
just Foraging 101. At least we didn't have to resort to eating bugs. 
Oh, and there's fish and pork smoking in the shed out back."

Methos' eyes went wide. "You guys took a boar?!"

"Just Teal'c. He didn't know what it was. Found it rooting around the 
latrine and used his staff on it. Too bad you missed it, we had ribs 
last night."

"Well save me the tongue," Methos insisted, refusing to hide his 
delight. "I haven't had a decent boar's tongue dinner in over six 
hundred years."

"It's all yours," O'Neill told him, glancing past Methos as the door 
behind them opened.

"We got it all up," Carter informed them. "Daniel's securing the donkey 
out back under the tent."

Methos shook his head. That donkey would be living better than their 
neighbors down the road if the children had their way, he thought 

"Good work," O'Neill told her, getting to his feet. "I'll give you a 
hand getting everything inside."

They left Methos to his dinner and he watched, much bemused while with 
military precision they quickly stacked the goods he'd bought against 
the opposite wall. 

"Think you got enough stuff?" O'Neill asked sarcastically as Teal'c, 
Daniel and Carter brought in the last items.

"Not as much as I would have liked," Methos told him honestly. "But 
enough for five healthy individuals to get by for a time."

"Sir," Carter said, glancing worriedly at Methos as she discreetly 
showed the colonel something she'd carried in.

O'Neill frowned and held up the old slave's tunic he'd first worn. 
"What the hell is this?" he asked angrily, obviously referring to the 
bloody cuts and tears in the cloth.

Methos shrugged. "A handful of street toughs tried to divest me of my 
goods on the way out of Delphi. I simply disabused them of the notion 
that I was harmless."

"Right," O'Neill nodded briefly. "From now on, you don't go anywhere 
alone. That's an order."

"An order that cannot be carried out," Methos told him bluntly. "None 
of you speak the language, and even Daniel doesn't speak it well enough 
to make himself clearly understood in the market. You don't move like 
proper Greeks and you don't know the cultural forms. Gossip and chatter 
being the only entertainment around, taking even one of you to town 
right now would be suicide."

"So we learn," Daniel said, accepting Methos' expert judgment. "But 
Jack is right. It isn't safe for you to go alone."

Methos shook his head and smiled. "I'm tougher than I look, Danny. And 
I've been at this quite a bit longer than any of you have."

"That may be true," O'Neill told him. "But you're also our ace in the 
hole. And if we have to spend the rest of our miserable lives here, 
you're going to be right there, miserably spending yours alongside us."

"All right," Methos offered, smiling with pleasure at the oddly 
comforting sentiment, and willing now to compromise. "How about this? I 
will teach you what I think you need to know if anything should by 
chance happen to me. And in addition, I promise to take no risks that I 
have never undertaken before. Anything else, I know how to survive or 

"Fair enough," O'Neill nodded. "Now get some rest," he gestured toward 
the sleeping bags rolled up in the corner. "Tomorrow you can help me 
start on a bedroom for Carter."

Chapter 9

The sound of hammering woke Methos early the next morning and he 
sighed, rubbing his eyes as he sat up. He didn't know whether to curse 
or praise a military that believed hammers, nails, pliers, saws, spades 
and axes should be considered part of the basic survival package. 
Still, he thought, having awakened warm and dry for the first time in 
nearly a fortnight, who was he to complain?

He got out of bed and rolled up the sleeping bag, disdaining the 
himation and chiton someone had hung by the fire to dry and went to 
find his boots and socks. They were neatly stacked with the rest of the 
team's gear and he gratefully put them on before going outside.

"Morning!" Jack called as he banged away at a wooden frame that looked 
to be more scavenged planking. "Just making some shelving for all our 
stuff," he explained at Methos' quizzical expression.

The Immortal merely nodded. "You know, we're leaving in a few months."

"So what?" O'Neill said, putting aside his tools as he stood up. "We're 
not gonna freeze our asses off living in a tent just because we're not 
sticking around that long. Why should we? Besides, what else is there 
to do around here?"

That was true, Methos nodded. And why not? Everyone ought to have a 
hobby. "Where is everybody?" he asked curiously, looking around the 
empty camp.

"Carter and Daniel took the cart down to the stream to get more clay 
for the major's flooring. And Teal'c's decided to try his hand at wood 
working. He's out looking for trees that speak to him -- although I've 
never liked a chatty dining room table. Too annoying, don't you think?"

"Only if we haven't been properly introduced," Methos responded drolly.

"Come on," O'Neill grinned, leading him over to the side of the little 
house where a new foundation was being laid for an extension.

O'Neill reached behind a pile of timber and pulled out a small thermos. 
"Saved this for you," he said, tossing the item to Methos. "It's the 
last of the coffee."

"Thanks," he smiled gratefully, taking a seat on the logs before 
pouring out the contents into the lid cup. "I'm definitely going to 
miss this," he sighed, taking a sip. Even freeze dried the stuff tasted 

"We'll get back," O'Neill said with certainty.

Methos only nodded. He too was hopeful, and yet remained pragmatic 
about the situation -- already planning ahead to where he might have to 
take them if they didn't. Certainly out of the way of any invading 
armies. Though that might be difficult in this day and age.

"So, you want to give me your report?" O'Neill asked quietly.

"Nothing much to tell," he shrugged. "I walked to Delphi, spent your 
pocket change and came back here. Other than that rabble in town I 
didn't have any trouble."

"No one in the area knows we're here?" 

Methos shook his head. "I passed through several villages on the way 
back. The nearest one to the south is a day and a half from here. And 
given the amount of rain we've had the north is probably flooding. Like 
I said, there's not a lot of movement during the winter months, but 
come spring someone might show up. I saw signs of Dionysians in the 
woods further down the slopes. The women probably use the ruins for 
their ceremonies. We should definitely leave before the Great 

"What? And miss all the fun?" O'Neill grinned.

"It's not fun," Methos told him curtly. "If they're using the ruins 
they're probably also using the hills for the wilding. I've never 
actually seen the ceremony. That was forbidden. But I have seen the 
results. They drink a lot of wine mixed with hallucinogens to bring on 
visions and race through the woods in praise of Dionysos. If they find 
a male, any male," he stressed, "even a small child, they'll tear him 
to pieces. Bare hands, bare teeth. And it's all legal."

"You've gotta be kidding?" O'Neill whispered, appalled.

"Not even a little," he answered in deadly earnest. "It's a wild cult 
that came out of India a few centuries back and took hold among the 
women. Remember, Greek females are suppressed by their men, not just 
oppressed. As you can imagine," he added wryly. "Dionysos, even if he 
is the god of wine, isn't much favored by the male population. But they 
seem to feel that letting the girls engage in a little ritual madness 
once a year is a small price to pay for quiet in the house all the 

"Okay," O'Neill nodded thoughtfully. "I'll put out a memo. No partying 
with the local women."

"Don't worry," Methos grinned. "We should be well away from here by the 
time the grapes are harvested and the new wine is ready for the 

"Sounds good to me. Now that's settled," he smiled. "You wanna give me 
a hand here?"

Methos glanced in dismay at the building materials. Construction was 
not a trade he'd ever really been interested in, and he'd done it only 
when absolutely necessary. "Actually," he offered brightly. "I thought 
I'd go check your snares and reset them. Those birds last night were 

"Gee, thanks!" O'Neill grinned. "But I didn't use any snares."

Methos gave him a confused look. "Then how...?"

The colonel shrugged and whipped out his zat gun, firing once at the 
nearest tree. A dozen or so birds dropped to the ground as Methos sat 
staring in amazement.

O'Neill put the weapon away and moved to start working. "You wanna get 
lunch, Pierson?" he gestured grandly at the decimation.

Methos rolled his eyes and sighed. "You have a fast food mind," he 
muttered disgustedly, putting away the empty thermos.

"Teach you to try and wriggle out of duty, Captain Pierson. Oh, and by 
the way," O'Neill smirked as he walked away. "He who cooks also cleans. 
You police the cabin today. And don't forget the latrine," he ordered 
cheerfully. "I know Teal'c will be grateful."

With a wry grimace Methos saluted. "Thank you, sir!" he called to 
O'Neill's retreating figure. "Glad to be back, sir! I'll fetch a good 
price at market, sir! I hear they're having a sale on minions!"

"Not a chance, Pierson!" he shot back. "The Great Satan likes you right 
where you are. Under his thumb and happy about it!"

"On a cold day in hell," Methos muttered as O'Neill rounded the corner. 
"Bloody ungrateful bastard!" he sighed, glancing at the fallen covey. 
Still, he'd known what he was getting into when he'd signed those 
papers back at the SGC. If everyone else was working, he'd be expected 
to as well. He got to his feet and took off his jacket to put the birds 
in. Ah, hell, maybe it wasn't so bad. He who cooked might also have to 
clean -- but then he usually got to eat the most heartily.

Chapter 10

Daniel shook his head slowly. "You can't be serious, Adam?"

"We need money," Methos insisted. "And lots of it. For the passage to 
Egypt. For bribing officials to look the other way when we get there. 
For food and clothing. Not to mention life's other little necessities 
-- like transportation and housing costs. It's the only way!"

"No," Daniel said, refusing to listen as he got up from his grinding to 
add more flour to his bread mix. It was his turn to cook today and 
Methos had taken the opportunity to come by and pitch his idea. "It's 
bad enough we had to take stones from the ruins to build the foundation 
for this place. I won't be a party to it!"

"A party to what?" O'Neill asked as he came in, taking off his rain 
poncho and muddy boots before going to the hearth for a cup of wild 
mint tea.

"Adam wants to rob the tholoi we found last week."

"The what?" O'Neill asked, taking a seat at the table.

Teal'c had done a fine job, Methos thought absently. He'd leveled the 
wood to perfection and polished it with some of the bees wax Methos had 
bought for sealing jars and making candles. It would be a shame to 
leave it all behind, the Immortal thought, but leave they must. After 
three weeks up here everyone seemed to be settling in and he considered 
it his job to remind them why they could not.

"The tombs Sam and I came across when we were out foraging," Daniel 

"I knew that," O'Neill said hurriedly. "Those mounds you raved about, 
right?" Daniel nodded and O'Neill gave Methos a curious glance. "So, 
what's in them, other than the dear departed, that's got you're 
interest piqued?"

"Gold," Methos told him, crossing his arms as he leaned back in his 
chair. "Enough to get us to Egypt and then some."

O'Neill nodded. "He's got a point, Daniel."

Jackson put down the bowl he was using to for bread making and turned 
to stare. "Those tombs are valuable historical evidence from an 
important period in Greek history. We can't just strip them because we 
need the money!"

Methos gave a wry twist of his lips. "So speaks a man who robs tombs 

"That's different and you know it!" Daniel shouted, incensed by the 

"Is it?" Methos asked coolly. "You do it for the sake of the historical 
record. For knowledge," he added mockingly. "But those people didn't 
want to be known. They didn't care whether or not you understood them. 
They wanted to be left in peace on their journey to the underworld, 
whether you accept their religious practices as valid or not. And the 
last fate any of them would have chosen was to have their bones and 
their grave goods on display for hordes of curious gawkers. They would 
have wept with shame to be so disrespected. There was a reason for 
cursing anyone who entered a tomb."

"But you want to," Daniel stated quietly.

"They're dead, Danny. They don't need that gold and we do."

"We can find another way," he insisted, looking to Jack for support.

The colonel sat quietly for a long moment, staring into his cup. "If 
those were my loved ones out there," he said softly. "I'd be really 
pissed off if anyone, for any reason, dug up their graves. But," he 
added with a quiet sigh. "You both have a point. Knowledge versus 
necessity. Daniel," he said with finality. "You have a week to come up 
with an alternative. Then we start digging."


Methos hoisted the deer he'd bagged over his shoulders and started 
heading back to camp. Now that the cabin was finished to everyone's 
satisfaction there was more time for him to enjoy the simple pursuits 
he'd once considered a normal part of life. Not that he'd ever made an 
effort to go hunting when professionals and butchers were available to 
do the job for him -- and he was just as content to buy his meat at the 
supermarket. But there was a certain amount of gratification involved 
when he brought something big into camp. And, shallow, egotistical man 
that he was, Methos admitted ruefully, he quite liked the applause.

A while later he entered the clearing, surprised to find the place 
nearly empty. With the exception of O'Neill, who sat under what had 
become the all purpose work tent -- and he seemed to be occupied with 
something other than building this morning -- no one else was in 
evidence. Teal'c, having gotten the carpentry bug was probably out 
chatting up the trees again. Carter was likely working on some project 
or other. And if he knew Danny, which he did, the boy was probably down 
by the tombs trying to document as much as he could before O'Neill gave 
the okay and let Methos rip into them.

The Immortal hid a smile at the thought. Poor Daniel had not been able 
to come up with a single alternative that wasn't either too time 
consuming or too dangerous. Methos was still silently laughing over the 
preposterous notion of the entire team traveling through the 
countryside as itinerant soothsayers and dealers in healthful potions. 
They'd all be dead inside a week! Such things might seem possible to 
the modern mind, but the ancient way of thinking was far too different. 
In this part of the world, strangers were not only unwelcome, but those 
with magical abilities were feared and hated. The first child that took 
sick, or mare that died in foaling would be blamed on them -- even if 
they hadn't been anywhere near the injured parties. The very rain that 
fell in the same amount and at the same time each year would be 
considered a curse of the gods and fingers would be pointed at the 
newcomers. It wouldn't matter if they gave good advice on when to plant 
and what to plant in overtaxed fields. If your ancestors planted beans 
on the third moon of the second month after the first crow cawed as you 
were getting out of bed then you did the same. And anyone who said 
different was a renegade and an agitator who ought to be dead.

No, Methos knew, there was no other way than the one he had suggested. 
Which meant Daniel was sulking and being a general pain in the ass 
whenever he was around, but so be it. It was time the boy looked past 
the articles of history and saw the people behind them. Warts and all. 
The pot might be beautiful, but the slave who was forced to make it and 
beaten if it broke was at the heart of its history. The living, 
breathing artist who painted it more important than the sum total of 
his work. For all that Daniel loved history, he did not yet know how to 
love the people who had lived that history. They were as strange and 
unaccountable to him in their thoughts and ideas as the members of SG-1 
would be to them.

"Hey!" Methos greeted O'Neill as he came over, dropping the deer on the 

"Hey yourself, great white hunter," O'Neill grinned.

Methos shrugged, reaching for his canteen. "Just thought we could use a 
change from fish and poultry," he said with studied nonchalance before 

O'Neill nodded thoughtfully. "Did you check the duty roster this 
morning?" he asked, equally casual.

"Yeah, I did," Methos said, not bothering to hide his annoyance. "I'll 
go to the stream a little later. Although I don't see why we need more 
clay. Carter has her separate bedroom -- as per regulations -- what do 
we need more for?"

"Because we need a kiln."

"For what?" Methos asked, truly curious.

"Carter wants to run some experiments to separate something from 
something else in order to do whatever it is she's doing, and I," he 
smiled. "Am going to use this." He held up a rather crude potter's 
wheel. "Teal'c made it for me," he grinned.

Methos cocked his head. "Well, it's nice that you have a hobby," he 
answered tartly. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get a bowl -- so 
I can properly dress the deer we are all going to eat."

That was it, he thought disgustedly, stalking towards the house. 
Tomorrow, when it was his turn to cook, he was definitely going to make 
a deer blood stew -- with heart, liver, tongue and kidneys. Maybe even 
throw in a few lengths of innards just to watch the children squirm as 
it wriggled and slid across their plates. He opened the door to find 
the major up to her elbows in bowls -- every last one of them from the 
look of it -- spread over the table and every available surface. She 
wasn't cooking -- O'Neill had that duty today -- and she was never very 
happy when she got it. Then again, neither was anyone else. So then, 
what was she up to?

Methos went over to the table and glanced down. 

"Rocks?" he asked, angrily wondering when they would learn that this 
wasn't summer vacation. "You're collecting rocks?" he repeated.

She glanced up looking perfectly innocent and content as she sorted 
another stone into the correctly classified bowl. "Actually, I'm 
looking for iodine crystals in the rock formations."

"Were you planning to dye something?" he asked, surprised by her 

She smiled and shook her head, running her scanner over another rock 
looking for the substance she sought. "Colonel O'Neill put me in charge 
of the medical kit," she explained. "We're also going to run out of 
water purification tablets eventually and iodine is a naturally 
occurring antibacterial. Two drops in a gallon of water will purify it 
completely. And, given the number of cuts, scraps, burns and blisters 
everyone's been getting I thought it might be prudent to plan ahead. 
Which reminds me. I need alcohol for the kit and to process the crystal 
once I've smelted it out of the rock. How much of our grain can I 

Methos stared at her dumbly for a long moment. "As much as you like," 
he finally murmured. 

Now it was her turn to look surprised. Methos had been placed in charge 
of the food supply and as they'd all learned in the past few weeks he 
was notoriously tightfisted with it. Foraging to supplement their 
stores had become a way of life for almost everybody whenever they were 
out in the field.

"I don't need much," she told him carefully, obviously unsure of his 
reaction. "Maybe a couple of sacks."

"Did I ever tell you I was a doctor in a former incarnation?" he 
suddenly asked, picking up a large bowl and sitting down in the chair 
on which it had been placed as he held it in his lap. "Several times, 
in fact."

"Colonel O'Neill mentioned it," she nodded dubiously. "One of the 
reasons I started this project was because I considered the possibility 
that one of us might be injured severely enough to require surgery at 
some point. I think we'd all like it better if you had sterile 
equipment to work with. I know I would."

Methos smiled wryly, absently running his fingers over the rocks. He 
would never have thought to make iodine or alcohol, he realized. Wine 
and vinegar both purified water and he'd already purchased some of 
each, which they used exclusively for cooking now. But later... He 
would have had them carry about several jars of the stuff wherever they 
went. Methos gave a tiny shake of his head. Leave it to the modern mind 
to micro-miniaturize even that! Why carry gallons, when a few ounces 
will do? Leaving more room to carry other equally valuable supplies. 
And he knew how to make several good salves, but none with the potency 
a proper surgery required. Why they could even make aspirin and refined 
penicillin if they wanted!

"It's a brilliant idea, Major Carter," he told her honestly. "I'd no 
clue you were a chemist as well."

"Sort of comes with the science geek territory," she shrugged, giving 
him a self-deprecating smile. "And if there's anything you can think of 
that we might need, I'd be happy to give it a try."

"I'll make a list," he said, glancing down at the bowl as he moved to 
put it aside. "What's this?" he asked curiously as something familiar 
caught his eye.

Samantha leaned forward to look as he held the stone up. "Carnelian 
probably. That sample came from an area where it's common in the rock."

"Carnelian," he repeated, utterly stunned. "What else is in these?" he 
waved a hand across the table.

"Besides that?" Carter shrugged. "Mostly quartz, a little hematite and 
tigers eye, maybe some amethyst. Why?"

"Those are all semi-precious stones," Methos told her, but her 
expression remained only vaguely curious. With a wide grin he leaned 
forward impulsively and kissed her on the nose, laughing softly as she 
fell back, completely startled. "Forgive me, Major, but I think you 
just found our ticket to Egypt!"

Chapter 11

Methos sat by the hearth hand tooling a long strip of deerskin into a 
sword belt. It was delicate, painstaking work, but after two months in 
this place he finally had the time. He listened to the rain pattering 
on the ground outside and wondered how Teal'c and Daniel were getting 
on. They'd gone out early to check the rabbit snares he'd put out and 
had yet to return, while Jack was happy in his little potter's shed 
making more ceramic beakers, test tubes and other items for Carter's 

He glanced up as Samantha accidentally dropped the tool she'd been 
working with trying chip out another good sized stone. That too was 
painstaking work and everyone took a turn at it, because they didn't 
dare try to smelt it out of the rock. Their control over the kiln's 
temperature wasn't that good and they'd already ruined several precious 
batches of stones. 

"Damn it!" she hissed as she bent to pick up the implement, angrily 
pushing back the hair that now constantly fell in her eyes. Except for 
Teal'c they were all looking a bit shaggy these days. Methos was about 
to offer her one of the many ribbons he'd bought for her use -- things 
which she'd glanced at and then ignored -- when she turned to him and 
started to speak.

Methos held up a hand and shook his head. "In Greek, please," he told 
her quietly. 

As promised, Methos had been working with the team on language skills 
and custom. Daniel, of course, was almost completely fluent in Greek 
and in contemporary Ancient Egyptian, rather than the hybrid dialects 
of Abydos and the Goa'uld. Teal'c was also doing well, though Methos 
didn't think he'd have to do much talking on the journey. All he'd need 
to do was stand there looking dangerous and most people would give him 
anything -- until of course they got to Egypt, where he'd just 
naturally blend in.

O'Neill and Carter on the other hand were problem students, and he'd 
already given up on ever getting them past the basics in Egyptian. As 
for their education in Greek -- which he considered an absolute 
necessity --- neither was very musically inclined and Ancient Greek was 
an inflected language where the pitch, lilt and tone of the spoken word 
often determined its meaning. To improve their skills Methos had 
decreed that they speak only Greek when they were alone with him. Jack 
chafed, but went along with it. Carter simply forgot -- constantly.

Samantha frowned, but nodded, asking her question with the most 
atrocious pronunciation he'd heard from her yet, completely changing 
the meaning. Feigning affront, Methos glanced at his crotch then looked 
her in the eye.

"No," he told her indignantly. "You may not borrow my fat man!"

Appalled, Carter covered her mouth, blushing fiercely until she started 
to laugh. Which of course set Methos to laughing.

"I'm sorry," she finally choked, gesturing at the table. "It's just 
that I'm so frustrated!" Another horrified expression of embarrassment 
crossed her face as his eyes went wide and Samantha realized she'd done 
it again -- and in her own native tongue!

Eventually, they both stopped laughing. Methos put aside his work and 
stood up, stretching the kinks out of his muscles. "Enough," he told 
her gently. "I'm giving you the afternoon off. I think we both need it 
at this point."

She nodded gratefully and sighed, again brushing back the annoying 
locks of hair.

"Would you like me to do something about that?" Methos asked kindly, 
finally taking pity on her plight.

"Don't tell me," Samantha smiled tiredly. "You also do hair and nails."

"After a fashion," he agreed. "Come on, instead of language what do you 
say to working on cultural assimilation for a change of pace?" She 
glanced guiltily down at the stones. "They'll keep," Methos insisted. 
"And besides," he added, trying to alleviate any embarrassment she 
might be feeling. "I was planning this for everyone later in the week. 
Maybe it'll be easier to remember to speak the language if you look 
like one of the people," he suggested.

"Well, I obviously need a break," she finally nodded. "Okay, you're on. 
What do I do?"

Methos grabbed a chair and set it by the hearth. "All you need to do is 
sit," he told her, going to the corner as she moved. He opened one of 
the smaller chests and pulled out a box of toiletries containing all 
the things a woman of some status would require daily. Then, going back 
to the hearth he laid out the items he needed, putting the rest aside.

"What are those for?" Samantha asked as Methos rested a pair of hollow, 
tube shaped clay implements with bone handles near the fire. He told 
her and from the expression on her face, for a moment he thought he'd 
get slapped.

"You had curling irons?! And you didn't bother to tell me?!" she 
accused, voicing her ire.

Methos smiled impishly. "You never asked."

"What else have you got in there?" she said, reaching for the box.

Methos grinned. There was a woman under that uniform after all, he 
thought with relief. "Perfumed oils, scented wax, combs, ribbons, 
cosmetics and a few pieces of jewelry."

"Cosmetics?" she repeated hopefully.

"Not Revlon, I'm afraid. Or whatever it is girls wear nowadays. But it 
gets the job done."

Carter opened the box and looked at the confusing array of tiny jars 
and unmixed powders. "Looks complicated," she said a little wistfully.

"Takes a bit of practice," he agreed. "But you'll get the hang of it 

She gave him a long considering stare then handed over the box. "Okay, 
Pierson, let's see what you've got. Make me pretty."

Methos accepted the challenge with a grace born of centuries. "Too late 
for that I'm afraid. Your parents got there long before me."


It was with some trepidation a few hours later that Colonel O'Neill 
approached the house. The windows, covered in thickly waxed linen, 
glowed brightly in the late afternoon shadows which harbored more rain 
for the night. But that was typical. Wet in the morning, again around 
lunch and sometimes in the evening the skies would open and the deluge 
would start all over again. What was not typical was the sound of music 
and laughter coming from inside. By this time of day everyone was 
usually too tired to do more than practice their language skills or 
listen to Pierson's lectures on proper Greek etiquette. Which was never 
too onerous since he generally interspersed these talks with amusing 
anecdotes and stories of his own social gaffs and faux pas.

So, he was more than a little surprised when he opened the door to find 
everyone dressed in blankets. The beds Teal'c had made had been moved 
and set into a half circle at the side of the room -- and in the center 
Methos and Daniel were line dancing to the sound of the Jaffa's flute. 
Nearby, Carter lay on one of the beds, a wine cup in her hand, looking 
spectacular. Hair curled up in an attractive do and set with decorative 
combs and ribbons, she giggled as Daniel tripped over his feet when 
Teal'c suddenly broke off his tune.

"You guys decided to have a blow out and you didn't invite me?!" 
O'Neill complained, pretending to be hurt, but in truth secretly 
pleased to see his team relaxed and happy for the first time in months.

"Uh, sorry, Jack," Daniel apologized, faintly embarrassed as Carter 
stood, nervously putting aside her cup. "We kind of got lost in the 


They stared guiltily at him, except for Methos, who showed not the 
least bit of remorse. O'Neill frowned, looking them over one by one.

"Well, don't I get a bed sheet?" he finally asked feigning annoyance.

"Right this way, Colonel Satan, sir!" Methos grinned as he bowed 
O'Neill toward Carter's bedroom.

The colonel gave Samantha a surprised glance. Her room was strictly off 
limits unless the door was open and the man inside had her express 
permission to be there.

"It's okay, sir," she told him, blushing faintly. "Getting these 
on..." She absently touched one of the many folds and draperies of her 
chiton. "Well, it gets a little...personal."

O'Neill paused as he digested her words. "You mean you're not..." He 
couldn't even bring himself to say it as he stared at their faces. 
"None of you?!"

Methos chuckled as the others stood there looking clearly 
uncomfortable. "You want to be authentic, don't you?"

O'Neill grimaced. "I was kinda hoping that was all just a nasty rumor."

"Afraid not," Methos shook his head. "And with all due respect, 
Colonel, underwear is highly overrated. But not to worry," he grinned 
widely. "You're fat man is safe in my hands."

Carter unaccountably burst out laughing, while O'Neill turned red and 
stalked into the bedroom. 

"You leave him out of this, Pierson!"

The door slammed behind him and Methos sighed. He was definitely going 
to have to add alum to their list of supplies. His chances of getting 
O'Neill into a public bathhouse, he suddenly realized, had just taken a 
nose dive.

Chapter 12

The morning was bright with sunshine and birdsong. A perfect spring 
day, Methos thought, inhaling deeply. He didn't know what lay ahead and 
at the moment he didn't really care. 

Now, that was not entirely true, Methos suddenly realized with a touch 
of chagrin. He did care. About these people, about the future, and 
about his own place in this crazy, screwed up universe.

Okay, so he cared, Methos admitted silently. But not, he grinned, 
enough to spoil his pleasure at the first truly beautiful morning since 
they'd been here. There would be no rain today, he was certain of it.

Behind him, the door opened quietly and he heard O'Neill's soft 
greeting. The others were probably still sleeping, today being 
everyone's day off. A special allowance the colonel had made as long as 
they all shared in the housekeeping chores.

Methos returned his greeting with a nod. "We should leave in a few 
days, a week at most," he said quietly.

"We?" O'Neill asked curiously.

"Yes," Methos nodded. "You and I. We. Go to Delphi. Buy horses. Drink 
beer. Wine. And get arrested for loitering."

"You had me up until the horses," O'Neill sighed, sitting down on one 
of benches Teal'c had placed to either side of the door. "But," he 
finally nodded. "I'd definitely like to recon the area. So, what's the 

"Same as before," Methos shrugged. "We walk. We shop. We come back 
here. Only this time it's safe enough for you to go with me."

"How's that?" O'Neill asked.

Methos opened his arms wide as if to encompass the world. "It's 
spring!" he exclaimed enthusiastically.

"I take it that's a big deal around here," O'Neill responded, 

"Only if you're alive," Methos rolled his eyes and sat down beside him. 
"Listen, in a few days the roads will be dry. The mares have already 
started foaling and the yearlings will be coming to market."

O'Neill gave him an odd stare. "I'm a little fuzzy on the whole Son of 
Flicka thing, but keep going."

Methos sighed and did his best to try and convey the true meaning of 
spring to a child of the modern era. "Don't you get it, O'Neill? 
Farmers who need seed and tools will travel to the markets to sell the 
extra cloth and flax their women have woven during the winter. Knowing 
this, spice merchants, potters, arms makers, dye makers, perfumers and 
jewelers from everywhere will come to the cities. It's the one time of 
year when strangers are not only welcome, but expected. In the 
villages, on the roads, it doesn't matter. And most important of all, 
you can look at anything and everything and no one will question why."

"Good cover," O'Neill nodded slowly. "I like it. But why don't we all 
just leave now?"

"Because it's also the time of year that most slaves are bought and 
sold. And when the wealthy come to shop -- or take what they want if 
they can't make a price. They're bored from being cooped up too long. 
Thinking of getting that new slave that will entertain them for the 
rest of the year before discarding him or her to the fields or the 
kitchens. They make the laws, so they can do what they like and they 
know it. The others aren't safe yet, and they won't be until we get 
back with the rest of our disguise."

"The horses?" O'Neill asked, surprised.

"Them too," Methos nodded. "But I was thinking more along the line of 


"So what do you think?" Methos asked as they reached the hills 
overlooking Delphi.

For three days they had walked, talking little as O'Neill contemplated 
the land and its people. To say he wasn't impressed would have been an 
overstatement. He was, in fact, quite clearly disappointed. Now, 
looking down on the untidy sprawl of fieldstone houses and wooden huts 
with thatched roofs that was Delphi, O'Neill had to shake his head in 

"I thought this was supposed to be the cradle of Western 
Civilization," he commented.

"Give them another three centuries and they'll be well on their way," 
Methos responded lightly. "Right now, they're about a half step up from 
subsistence farming. No written language to speak of and no concept of 
modern economics."

"I thought Daniel said they had a pretty high level of sophistication 
just a few hundred years ago?" he asked as they started down.

"Those were the Myceneans. You know, the guys who fought at Troy," 
Methos explained. "They lost control of the country when the big 
earthquake hit about three hundred years ago. God, that was a nasty 
piece of business," he shook his head, remembering. "Not a stone left 
standing for hundreds of miles in every direction of the epicenter. 
People just sat on what was left of their homes until they keeled over 
and died. Starvation and disease took thousands more and the 
aristocracy could do nothing for them. They were just as bad off as the 
rest. Took another century before it was all gone and the Dorians had 
everything, but what you see here is the end result of that collapse. A 
tribal, agrarian society just beginning to feel settled enough to start 
exploring the world around them. In a quarter century or so they'll 
actually start trading with their neighbors."

O'Neill nodded. "Looks pretty much like every other piss poor, pathetic 
little dirt ball we've been to," he murmured as they reached the road 
and joined the steady stream of travelers moving toward the town. "All 
they need is a gate and a few snakeheads coming by every so often."

"True," Methos agreed quietly. "But this is your world and these are 
your ancestors. Not some strangers who might be descended from a 
handful of kidnap victims left on another planet. These people will 
eventually have living, breathing children. Some of whom might watch 
the same television shows, listen to the same music and dream about 
owning the same kind of car you do."

"You really know how to take the fun out of it, don't you?" O'Neill 

Methos smiled kindly. "I tell you this, because there is no gate to run 
back to when things go wrong. No back up, no SGC, no escape -- at least 
for the moment. You will see things here. Things that are so 
unconscionably cruel that you won't be able to fathom how you could 
ever have been born of such stock. Even if none of your antecedents 
spring from this place, somewhere in your past there is one just like 

"If you're trying to tell me not to be Daniel, running around trying to 
save the universe then you're preaching to the choir, Pierson."

"That's another thing," Methos pointed out. "It's time you started 
calling me by my proper name."


Methos hid a smile. "Come, Yanos, son of Neleus, there's something I 
want to show you."

O'Neill grimaced at the name Methos had given him before they'd left. 
The same way he'd named the others. Samantas, Danaeus and Teulokos. He 
hated it, but he'd thought Cornelios was worse, so he'd finally 
accepted it.

A little while later they'd reached the town's outskirts, entering with 
the rest of the morning rush. There was no gate, no outer wall, and no 
means of defense except the swords and daggers everyone seemed to 
carry. The streets were narrow and cramped. Only wide enough for a tall 
man to stretch out his arms and touch the walls on either side. The 
place was noisy, claustrophobic and oddly enough, both strange and 
familiar at the same time. O'Neill had seen dozens of villages not too 
unlike this one in his travels on Earth. And they all pretty much felt 
the same. Though he'd never had that same feeling on any of the other 
worlds he'd been too. But then, this was his sun and his world, and 
somehow, his mind and body knew it.

"Something smells good," O'Neill murmured as they passed a shop with an 
open front.

Methos paused in his step. "This town is big enough to have a real 
bakery," he explained. "I see the proprietor has just put out some 
fresh baked loaves. Hungry?"

"Oh, yeah," he nodded. "For fresh bread and not that flat, pasty stuff 
you and Daniel make? Anytime."

"Good," Methos grinned. "Let's see if he'll take a nickel for a couple 
of his finest."

There was a little haggling, but the man seemed very taken with the 
unusual coinage, smiling when he bit it and throwing in an extra loaf 
because he was certain he'd just robbed the two strangers. Methos led 
him over to an alley around the side of the building, hunkering down 
against the wall out of the flow of traffic to sit and eat. O'Neill 
shrugged and joined him.

With the first bite Jack simply closed his eyes and savored. Warm, 
fresh, soft delicious bread. A little more grainy than wheat bread and 
made with honey instead of sugar, but it was still wonderful to the 

"This is great!" O'Neill exclaimed after another two bites.

"Glad you like it," Methos nodded. "Want to see how it's made?"

O'Neill gave him a quizzical look. "Sure," he finally said as Methos 
stood and led the way to the back of the house. "I can give my 
compliments to the baker."

The rear entry to the courtyard stood open and Methos looked inside 
then stepped back, twitching his head at the doorway. "You're in luck, 
Yanos. The baker is in."

O'Neill moved around him, standing stock still as he laid eyes on the 
baker. No big shouldered, round bellied, happy stereotype in a white 
apron covered in flour dust stood to meet him. But a pair of thin, 
wretched looking women bound in thick, heavy leather collars that 
covered their necks up to their mouths knelt on a hard stone floor 
kneading and pounding. 

"They will never taste the bread they bake," Methos' voice was a dark 
whisper from behind. "Never do more than crawl from their corner to the 
wash basin, so that they cannot even lick the flour from their hands. 
They get the dry crusts that no one wants to use even for feeding geese 
and hens. And when they cannot lift their arms to knead they'll be sent 
into the streets to sell the bread and never dare to try and eat it for 
fear of being sent to the mines."

O'Neill looked pale and disgusted as he stepped back out, tossing the 
rest of his bread aside. "Point taken -- Methos."

The Immortal sighed as he watched O'Neill walk away. He shrugged and 
picked up the bread, not bothering to dust it off as he quickly ducked 
back into the kitchen. Over in the far corner a pile of straw served as 
bedding for the slaves. Too weary to do more than glance at him, the 
women hardly looked up from their work until he tucked both his loaf 
and O'Neill's half eaten one as well as the extra loaf they'd been 
given under the straw. Then their eyes went wide with fear and 
consternation. No doubt, Methos thought, they were afraid the master 
might think it stolen.

"Good bread, little one," he gently pinched the cheek of a girl who 
couldn't have been more than twelve. "Wait until they're all in bed," 
he warned. "Then fill your bellies." She couldn't even nod in her 
collar, so she blinked her eyes to show she understood. 

Shocked by his own actions Methos left hurriedly, wondering what in the 
world had come over him. He should never have given them hope like 
that. Never have given them food which might prolong their lives and 
their suffering by another minute. It was an act of kindness completely 
inconsistent with the times. And he knew better! Especially after his 
lecture to O'Neill. Yet, without thinking, he'd done it.

"Just couldn't resist, could you?" Jack accused as he rejoined the 

Methos only shrugged, hiding his own internal quandary. It had been a 
cruel thing to do to the man, but... "You had to understand," he 
explained gently.

"Not that," O'Neill shook his head. "The bread -- you phony!"