Rascals II - Chapter 22

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It was early evening when they finally arrived at O'Neill's cabin. They had made a stop at the nearest supermarket, to buy supplies for the week, and after that they had eaten at a local Grill, which O'Neill liked.

"Can we go swim in the lake?" Daniel asked.

"Not tonight. You'll just be eaten by mosquitoes. Tomorrow, maybe. They tend to stay away during daytime. Mostly," O'Neill said. "If you want - and you're not too tired - I can teach you how to make twist bread over an open fire?"

"Yes! Do that!" Sam said, excitedly, and the other children mimicked her enthusiasm.

"I would be most interested in learning about this Tau'ri tradition as well," Teal'c told him.

"My uncle taught me when I was a kid. It's easy. You just mix flour, water, yeast, a little oil, and a little salt. Roll the bread into thin 'sausages' and wrap them around a wet stick, then bake it over a fire until it's done. The trick is to not keep it too close to the fire, and to wait until the fire is down to embers and small flames, or you'll burn the bread. Oh, and remember to turn the bread so it isn't black on one side and raw on the other!" O'Neill grinned. "Mine always ended up that way!"

"Sounds fun!" Martouf said.

"It is. Who wants to help me mix the dough?"

"Me," Daniel said, eagerly.

"Okay. The rest of you help Teal'c build a nice fire - and find a good solid stick for each of us. Not too thick and not too thin." O'Neill explained.

"I don't think it's done yet," O'Neill told Daniel, when he checked on his bread for the fourth time in a few minutes. "And be careful - it's hot!"

Daniel nodded. "Knows." He shook his hand and blew on his fingers. "Very hot." He placed the bread back over the fire.

Lantash picked up a piece of wood, which was only burning at one end, and studied the small flames as they licked at the wood. "Very pretty." He observed.

"Whoa!" O'Neill carefully grabbed the piece of wood from him, placing it back in the fire. "Careful! Are you trying to hurt yourself?"

"It wasn't hot at the end I was touching! I'm not stupid!" Lantash said, defensively.

"Maybe not, but please don't do it again. Okay?"

Lantash got a stubborn expression, but then gave in. "Yes. I will not do it again."

"You're burning your bread," Sam observed.

Lantash quickly lifted up the stick with his bread on. The bread was dark on one side and a little smoke came from it. He sighed unhappily and turned the bread, before carefully placing it at a larger height from the flames. "I think it is almost done."

"So is mine," Anise said, checking her bread. She frowned at the burnt parts on it.

Suddenly, they all jumped a little as they heard a drawn-out howling from some distance away. Shortly after answered by a similar howling from another direction.

"What was that!" Anise asked, sounding afraid.

"Timber wolves," O'Neill said. "We've got some of them up here."

"Wolves!" Daniel exclaimed, terrified. "They'll eat us! Quick! Let's get inside!"

"Calm down! They've never bothered me here, and besides, wolves are afraid of fire. Humans are the only lifeforms that aren't afraid of it, so you're quite safe from anything that's out there," O'Neill reassured them.

"That is obviously not true!" Lantash said, "I am not human, and I am not afraid of fire...it was you who told me to put down the burning stick!"

"So symbiotes are no more fearful of fire than humans!" Anise added, helpfully.

"Jaffa are also not afraid of fire," Teal'c said. "In fact, there are very few things Jaffa fear."

"Since your state-ment was clearly in-correct, sir, perhaps wolves aren't afraid of it either?" Sam wondered, nervously looking around for wolves about to jump her.

"I am going inside!" Daniel declared. "My bread is ready anyway."

After a long nights sleep, and a large breakfast, the children felt ready to face the world again. It seemed much less dangerous now, when the Sun was shining warmly and the birds where singing.

"We can bathe in the lake, right?" Sam asked.

"Sure. Teal'c and me will be there with you - fishing. Won't we, Teal'c?" O'Neill looked hopefully at his friend.

"We will," Teal'c confirmed.

"I...am not sure I want to swim in this lake..." Lantash said.

"Why not? I thought you guys loved water!" O'Neill said.

"We do...but I am afraid of the large fish," Lantash admitted.

"Large fish? Who said anything about large fish?" O'Neill frowned.

"You are going to fish...why would you do so if there were no large fish to catch?" Anise pointed out.

"Ah...well, no need to worry, then, kids. There are no fish in the lake. None at all," O'Neill reassured them.

"No fish?" Daniel stared at him. "Why are you going to fish, then?"

"O'Neill told me once, it is not about the actual fish. The fish are not important in this context. It's about fish-ing, the act of fishing itself." Teal'c explained.

"O-kay," Sam said, giving him a strange look.

"It is very deep. I do not expect you to understand," Teal'c said.

"Well, if there's no fish in the lake, then I am going swimming!" Lantash declared, starting to pull off his clothing and dropping it on the ground beside him.

"Whoa! Wait, young man." O'Neill called after an already naked Lantash who was on his way to the waterfront. "You need to wear your bathing trunks. I know you have some - you all got swimwear for your birthday and we did bring them."

"Why? You don't bathe with clothes on otherwise, and you didn't explain it very well when you gave me the 'bathing trunks'!" Lantash argued. "Stupid Tau'ri rules!"

"Perhaps, but you'll all wear your bathing clothes anyway!" O'Neill told him, pointing in the direction of the cabin.

Lantash grumbled something inaudible, but picked up his clothes and left in the direction of the hut. The other children followed.

The children were swimming and playing in the lake, and having a great time. Meanwhile, Teal'c and O'Neill sat on the shore and relaxed. Suddenly, the sound of a cell phone could be heard.

Teal'c fished it out of his pocket, glancing briefly at it.

"You didn't?" O'Neill said, giving him an accusatory look.

"Ferretti implored me to bring it with me, in case there was an emergency on the base," Teal'c explained, picking up the call. "Teal'c," He said into the receiver. He listened for a short time. "He is here. I will 'put him on.'" He handed the phone to O'Neill, who sighed dramatically, but accepted the phone.

"Yeah, it's me." O'Neill frowned, "Do you need me to come back to the base?" He said, his expression becoming grim. "I see. No, we'll stay here, then, and not contact anyone until we know we're okay...let's hope they're the only ones affected...yeah, you too. Keep in touch." He hung up.

"An emergency at the base?" Teal'c said.

"Yes. Apparently Vaselov's got some kind of nasty disease. It doesn't appear as if it's come through the gate, and no one else has developed all the symptoms, but others have done things and then forgotten about them, which is one of the symptoms. Hailey is in the infirmary - she had an episode of something - she demanded the gate was opened, and then she just collapsed. Doesn't remember a thing about it. The base is quarantined until they know more about what it is."

"Could any of us have this affliction?"

"No idea. Possibly, though at least Martouf/Lantash and Freya/Anise should be safe." O'Neill shook his head. "No reason to worry about it. We'll keep an eye on each other and stay away from anyone else. There's no reason to mention anything to the kids, yet."

Ferretti called O'Neill again later, to inform him that they had determined that it was not an outbreak of a disease they had on base, but that it was, in fact, Anubis. Since he was still partially ascended, he did not have a true material form. He was currently moving around the base, in a shape not unlike mist or a dark cloud - and in order to interact with the physical world, he needed a body. Hence he had possessed first Colonel Vaselov, and then a string of other people. The 'disease' had been a symptom of being inhabited by him in this form. Fortunately, it would seem Vaselov was the only one who had been exposed for long enough to become truly sick, but unfortunately, he seemed to be dying.

Ferretti explained that they did not currently know who Anubis was in, but that they did know he was still on the base.

The crisis was by no means over, but at least O'Neill knew there was not some sort of contagion that he could have brought out from the base. That was reassuring, at least.

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