* denotes thoughts or host/symbiote communication.

Chapter 2

"Any idea why they captured us and threw us in here? I mean, we hadn't done a thing!" O'Neill exclaimed.

"No idea, sir. They seemed pretty agitated," Sam said.

"I do not know, O'Neill. Their language is unknown to me," Teal'c answered.

"Perhaps they just don't like strangers trespassing on their land?" Sam suggested. "The area could have been... holy, or something, I guess?"

"Possibly. They sure liked your hair, though, Carter. Seemed a bit - weird," O'Neill said.

Sam shrugged. "Maybe they haven't seen anyone with blond hair before?" She got up from where she was sitting on the floor of the large cage, and went to examine the hatch door. It was securely locked. She began checking the bars meticulously.

Teal'c started doing the same, and for some time they worked on examining the sturdiness of the cage.

"Any luck?" O'Neill asked.

"No, sir." Sam looked unhappy.

"It seems well constructed," Teal'c agreed.

"Hey!" O'Neill shouted at a guard, standing some distance away. "We've been in here for hours! Could we have some food?"

The guard looked coldly - and without any sign of comprehension - at him.

"I do not believe they speak our language, O'Neill," Teal'c offered.

"Obviously not" O'Neill glared at the guard.

"Maybe he does." Sam pointed at an elaborately dressed man, being carried on a platform by four men. After him walked several warriors. Beside them walked a man who was also clearly important, though not as much as the one that was being carried.

"I wonder if he's their leader?" O'Neill said.

"Or maybe a priest?" Sam suggested.

The small procession had reached the cage Sam and the others were locked up in, and the man on the platform studied them for some time. The man wore a purple cloak, decorated with what looked like some sort of black gemstones. He had on an elaborate headdress, with long coloured feathers. Around his neck was a large necklace, and he had large earrings.

"Hey! Are you the leader here?" O'Neill asked. "Because if you are, I'd like to say... we're sorry, about whatever it was that we did. You can open the cage now."

The man on the platform stared at O'Neill, an arrogant expression on his face. He turned to speak to the other expensively dressed man, both of them getting pleased expressions.

"I wonder what those two clowns were going on about!" O'Neill said, when they were alone again.

"They weren't speaking the same language as those that captured us," Sam observed. "It sounded like Goa'uld!"

"Indeed, it was a dialect of Goa'uld," Teal'c said.

"Did you understand it?" O'Neill asked.

"Some of it. I believe the man that was being carried was a High Priest, and that the other man in colourful clothing was a priest as well, though not as important."

"And?" O'Neill prompted.

"They seem to worship a god called Tonatiuh."

"A Goa'uld?" Sam asked.

"Most likely. They seem to wish to sacrifice us to him, since we trespassed on their land."

"What?!" O'Neill exclaimed.

"They're going to kill us?" Sam asked, disbelieving.

"They wish to kill O'Neill and myself. Major Carter... I believe they intend for you to be the bride of Tonatiuh," Teal'c said. "Apparently, we arrived at a time which coincides with... a festival or ceremony, of some sort. I believe the people of this world find it to be a quite fortunate coincidence."

The Stargate had barely shut down behind Martouf/Lantash and the others, before a group of warriors burst from the forest.

Thinking they were being attacked, Lantash raised his hand device, while his 'Jaffa' activated their staff weapons.

The local warriors shouted something in their own language, and threw themselves to the ground, prostrating themselves before Lantash.

"My Lord, it... makes the locals hearts happy to again see the chaapa'ai activate, and bring forth their god. They are welcoming you to their world, and offering worship," Daniel told Lantash in Goa'uld. He was not sure if the locals understood it. They did not seem to, since they continued in their own tongue. "Uh, they ask to be allowed to accompany us to their city and the temple."

Lantash considered for a moment, then nodded. "I will allow them this honour."

Daniel translated for the locals, who did not seem surprised Lantash spoke another language.

Soon they were all marching towards the city.

"My Lord Tonatiuh!" The elaborately dressed man kneeled down in front of Lantash. "Welcome! It has been so long since you honoured us with your visit, we feared you would never come back. We are deeply grateful you have returned to us. I am your High Priest on this world, and my name is Uetzcayotl."

Lantash was relieved the man was speaking Goa'uld - and a dialect he understood. He answered, using the same language. "It came to my attention that foreigners had visited on my world, and that they had been captured."

"Yes, that is correct. They will be sacrificed to you at the coming festival of planting," Uetzcayotl said. "Everything will be prepared and carried out as you have taught us."

"We feared we had angered you, since our harvest has failed for two years in a row." A younger man, clad in similar, but less extravagant clothing as Uetzcayotl, kneeled before Lantash as well. "I am Tezcacoatl, a priest in your temple."

"I had more important matters to attend to." Lantash turned to Daniel. "I believed I had trained the priests of this world well enough that they could take care of things while I was absent. It would seem I was mistaken. How unfortunate." He allowed his hand device to glow softly. "Perhaps I should appoint new, more attentive priests, worthy of this position."

"My Lord! Please, forgive us!" Uetzcayotl exclaimed, terrified. "We will make sure the festival is to your satisfaction! I promise you! One of the foreigners has hair the colour of the sun! According to your commandments, she will be given to you as your bride! Please, allow us to prepare the celebrations for the festival, and reconsider our worthiness when you have seen our sacrifices!"

"Hm," Lantash said, and pretended to think it over. "Very well. I shall be merciful. I will postpone my decision until after the festival."

"Thank you, most merciful Lord." The High Priest bowed his head even deeper, where he was kneeling on the floor. "Now, please allow us to arrange a small banquet in your honour."

"Jack!" Daniel whispered. "Sam! Teal'c!" He threw a quick look in the direction of the guards. They were far enough away that they should not be able to hear them, but he was still nervous. He might have been sent by the 'god' to evaluate the offered sacrifices, but he could not risk anyone hearing them talk in English.

Teal'c was the first to react, as he was only deep in kel'no'reem, and not asleep like the others.

"Doctor Jackson." Teal'c looked in the direction of the guards. They stood maybe 60-70 feet away. He lowered his voice. "Are you here to free us?"

Sam and O'Neill had both awoken as well, and looked with hope at Daniel.

Daniel shook his head. "No, I'm afraid not." He saw O'Neill was about to say something, and quickly continued, "At least not yet. We are working on a way to rescue you."

"Well, how many men did you bring?" O'Neill demanded, keeping his voice down.

"It's not that simple, Jack. We can't get you out with force. This place is crawling with guards and soldiers - and very well armed ones at that. It would be... very bloody, to put it mildly, if we tried to fight them," Daniel told them.

O'Neill sighed. "Okay. Who's we?"

"What?" Daniel looked at him, uncomprehendingly.

"You said 'we' are working on a way to rescue us," O'Neill reminded him.

"Oh. Martouf and Lantash... and me. And 8 SG team members and a couple of other people from the SGC - all picked because they speak some Goa'uld. We can't let the locals hear us speak the same language as you."

"Martouf is here?" Sam wondered.

"Yes. He - or rather Lantash - is pretending to be the sun god, Tonatiuh. Which is a good thing, because the people here want to sacrifice you to him."

"Yeah, we heard. Any idea why they want to sacrifice us?" O'Neill asked.

"Uh... this culture is clearly inspired by the Aztecs - unless it's the other way around, of course. Anyway, in many Mesoamerican cultures they believed that sacrifice to the gods was necessary to ensure the continuity of the world and the balance of the universe. According to mythology, Tonatiuh demanded lots of human sacrifices in order to keep the sun moving and the Aztecs obliged. Priests took victims to a temple where they would cut out their heart while they were still alive," Daniel explained.

"What!?" O'Neill stared at him.

"That... doesn't sound good." Sam frowned.

"It is not common among the Goa'uld to insist on a lot of humans being killed for them. It is normally only done as punishment, or to show their power. Otherwise, sacrificed humans would be taken as hosts, or to be slaves," Teal'c informed them.

"Yeah... I think that the killing was something the priests added after the Goa'uld had left. Probably since the chosen people wouldn't just disappear by being taken through the Stargate," Daniel explained.

"And here?" Sam asked.

"I think they've been doing the whole 'cut their heart out while still alive', and that they were going to do that to you guys - well, Jack and Teal'c, at least. However, with 'Tonatiuh' here, they'll probably go back to giving the slaves to their god, to do with as he sees fit."

"Probably?!" O'Neill exclaimed.

"Quiet!" Daniel whispered, looking with concern in the direction of the guards. They did not react. "They can't be allowed to hear me speaking the same language as you guys!"

"I repeat... 'probably'?!" O'Neill looked at him, an unhappy expression on his face.

"Okay, certainly! Lantash will absolutely insist on that," Daniel reassured them.

"I hope so!" O'Neill sighed, then nodded. "Okay, so we'll be fine? We'll just wait until that festival, or whatever, and then we're given to Lantash as his slaves, and he can just take us along when you guys leave. Right?"

"Something along those lines, yes. That's our plan, anyway," Daniel said.

"Okay? No problem, then?" O'Neill still looked wary.

"Well, mostly no problem..." Daniel looked guilty.

"What?" O'Neill demanded. "You know I hate surprises!"

Daniel took a deep breath. "The priests insists that Sam must be given to the sun god as his bride - in order to ensure the fertility of their crops... and also to honour their god."

"Can't Lantash just tell them he doesn't want that?" Sam asked.

"I don't think that would be a good idea. They'd probably think he rejects you - and then they'd be likely to kill you. Or, I guess, they could get suspicious, since he doesn't behave the way he's supposed to. In that case they probably kill all of us. Either way would be bad for us."

"That's for sure!" O'Neill exclaimed.

Sam sighed, then shrugged. "So I just pretend to get married to him. No big deal."

"Unless there's something more you're not telling us?" O'Neill looked suspiciously at Daniel.

"No... no I think that's it," Daniel said, then added in a low voice. "I hope."

Early next morning.

Sam, O'Neill, and Teal'c were dragged into the temple, and locked up in a large room.

"Hey!" O'Neill shouted after the guards. "We still haven't gotten any food - and we've been here since yesterday at noon!"

"At least we have water," Daniel said, looking towards the bucket that had been placed in the room earlier.

"Maybe those people are bringing us food?" Sam pointed at a small group of servants who were approaching them, carrying trays and plates.

"Yes! Food!" O'Neill exclaimed, smiling. "Finally!"

There was a cell beside the one Sam and the others were in, separated from theirs with bars. The servants went into that cell and put the plates and bowls of food, as well as pitchers containing some sort of drink, on a table in there.

"It would not seem this feast is intended for us," Teal'c observed.

"That's just unfair! Who is going to be eating it in there? In full view of us?" O'Neill complained, just as his stomach rumbled.

"Maybe it is meant for us..." Sam said. "Look."

The servants had finished placing out the food and drink, and now locked the door to the other cell. Then one of them went to pull a lever, and part of the wall between the two cells disappeared into the floor.

"Nice!" O'Neill approached the table, and looked over the many different dishes.

"Don't you think it's weird they're suddenly not only feeding us, but treating us to... a feast?" Sam said.

O'Neill shrugged. "Who cares. I'm going to eat."

"Most likely it is because we are to be sacrificed to their god," Teal'c suggested.

"You think it's part of the ceremony?" Sam said. "Maybe. Sounds as good an explanation as any. Regardless, it wouldn't make sense for them to poison us like this."

There did not seem to be any catch, and they ate and drank with good appetite.

Chapter 3 >>