Rascals II - Chapter 9

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"That's why I always distrust you Air Force guys. Always messing around with some stuff you don't know how to handle. Now let me see what's happened to my poor sister!" Mark said, irritated, as he followed Jacob and O'Neill through the corridors. "How can you work with these people, Dad?" He turned to O'Neill. "And no, I'm not signing any non-disclosure agreements!"

"Sam's in here - together with the rest of her...ah, team." Jacob said, ignoring Mark's outburst. He opened the door and entered.

Mark and O'Neill stepped in after him. In the room Sam, Martouf/Lantash, Freya/Anise, and Daniel, sat at a table, drawing. They all got up when the adults entered.

"Hello, Mark!" Sam said, smiling brightly at him. "Long time, no see, eh?"

Mark stared at her and the other children for a few moments before he angrily turned to Jacob and O'Neill. "What is this? Do you take me for a fool?"

"No, Mark. That's Sam - and her team."

"The General's telling the truth. Carter and the others were exposed to a...ah, device that unfortunately turned them into children." O'Neill explained, realising how ridiculous it sounded.

Mark snorted, but then he looked at Sam again. "You do look a lot like Sam..." He frowned. "Actually, you look exactly how I remember my sister looking at that age." He turned to Jacob. "Dad...tell me...is it really her?"

Jacob nodded, looking serious. "Yes, it is."

"It is unbelievable..." Mark slowly shook his head. "But I don't see why you would invent such a story. However, I'm not going to believe the Air Force could make such a thing. That's gotta be beyond our capabilities!"

Jacob sighed. This was what they had expected. "Well, yes and no. They were exposed to the effects of a device they were studying, but it wasn't one that was made by the Air Force."

"Who then? And don't say aliens, because I'm not gonna believe that!"

"Does it matter? That's your sister, you said so yourself." O'Neill said, getting a little irritated.

"Don't you want to talk to me?" Sam said, beginning to cry a little. "Dad...Colonel, make him leave!"

Martouf, Daniel, and Freya all quickly went to stand beside Sam.

"You're making her cry!" Daniel said.

"Bad man!" Freya told him.

"You will cease bo-thering Samantha, immediately." Martouf demanded, stomping his foot and sounding as threatening as a six year old could.

Mark sighed deeply. "Listen...Sam. I didn't mean to make you cry, it's just...this is all insane!"

"If you'll just sign the non-disclosure agreement, you will get clearance to hear something that will cause all of this to make more sense!" O'Neill exclaimed.

Mark looked resolutely at him. "And what would happen if I did that? No, I'm not trusting you guys."

"I have an idea." Jacob pulled O'Neill aside and talked to him for a while.

O'Neill grinned shortly. "That's a great idea! How long will it take to carry out?"

"Not long. Malek should be passing close by in a teltac later today, on his way back from a mission to Sondara." Jacob said, smiling.

"Teltac? What is that?" Mark asked, suspicious.

"You'll see." O'Neill smiled. "Just spend some time here first - hang out with your sister and her friends for a while, then we'll call you when we're ready to show you."

"Sam's friends are a little...strange, aren't they? Especially Daniel, though the others have very odd...speech patterns, as if they're not from around here." Mark said, frowning, as he followed O'Neill through the corridors, and then into an elevator.

"They're not originally from...the US, that's right. And Daniel? Well, he's always been a little special. Not in a bad way...he's very smart. I don't usually get along well with scientists, but Daniel's okay - and so is Carter."

"You've worked with them before?"

"Oh, yeah. For several years. They've probably saved my butt more times than I'd care to think about."

"I'm sorry, then. It must be hard for you seeing them like this."

O'Neill did not answer, but merely pressed the button, taking them to the floor where the SGC had their ring transportation platform. The Tok'ra had installed it a few months ago, in a side-tunnel they had made with their tunnel crystals. A heavy steel door and mounted machine guns in the ring room assured there would be no unwelcome surprise visitors, while still allowing for easy access. O'Neill had to admit it was a good idea, and it would certainly work well in their little scheme to convince Mark to sign the non-disclosure agreement.

They rode the elevator in silence for some time, then reached the right floor. "You first." O'Neill told Mark, pointing towards the corridor outside.

Mark shrugged, not really surprised by the other man's behaviour. He had never liked the military, and to him, O'Neill seemed to be the embodiment of all he did not like about them.

"So, where're we going?"

"Patience. You'll see." O'Neill scanned his access card and punched in a code, and the heavy steel door opened. They entered the small ante-room before the tunnel to the ring room. He went to the door on the opposite side. "Follow me."

Mark stared, surprised, at the blue-grey Tok'ra crystals everywhere - roof, walls, floor - of the corridor they walked through. "Wow...what is this stuff?"

"Crystals. Carter can probably tell you more about how they're made than I can, even now."

"Yeah...about that. Why do you call her Carter? I mean, she's a little kid!"

O'Neill thought about it. "She's always been Carter to me - and I think she would be unhappy if I called her Sam. It would just remind her she's no longer a soldier and a scientist in the Air Force."

"Well, that does sound like her, yeah."

"Stand right here." O'Neill stopped in the middle of some circles on the floor. "Here, come closer."

Mark stepped closer, looking confused.

O'Neill activated the Tok'ra communicator he was carrying. "Now, Jacob."

Mark made a yelp as the rings came up around him, and quickly transported them on board the teltac.

"What the Hell..." He gaped as he looked around. "How did you do that?"

"Pretty neat trick, huh?" O'Neill smiled, looking very pleased.

"Welcome aboard the Tal'pat'Ryn." Jacob said, smiling.

"Eh, thanks." Mark said. He shook his head. "How did I get here? Wherever here is...did I fall through a hole?"

Jacob grinned. "Not at all. I transported you aboard a teltac that we've got in orbit around Earth."

"Of course you did." Mark looked at him with an extremely skeptical expression.

"Come, then. See for yourself." Jacob waved him towards the fore of the ship.

"What's with the tapas-thing?" O'Neill asked Jacob.

"What do you mean?" Jacob frowned.

"You said...'welcome aboard the tapas-something-or-other."

Jacob rolled his eyes. "Tal'pat'Ryn. It means 'falling star', and it's the name of the ship."

"How's that for an ominous name! Trust the Tok'ra to name their ship something like that!" O'Neill shook his head. "Hey, since when did you name your ships?"

"Since always, as far as Selmak tells me. I guess it just hasn't come up before." Jacob said, turning to follow Mark to the fore of the ship, where Malek sat.

O'Neill sighed before he followed.

"Ah, I see you've met Malek." He told Mark. "He's always a fun fellow, aren't you?" He gave Malek a pat on the back.

Malek frowned at O'Neill, wearing an expression that did not look right for him, somehow...more relaxed, perhaps.

"I thought his name was Johan, wasn't that what you said?" Mark wondered.

"Yes. It is." Johan told him.

"Malek is...his, ah, other name." O'Neill explained, awkwardly, realising Johan would of course be in control, since they did not intend to let Mark know about the Tok'ra. The less he had to keep quiet about the better.

Jacob grinned again. "I'll go fetch the kids - I promised them they could come."

"Haven't they flown enough in teltacs that it isn't a novelty?" O'Neill wondered.

 "Yes, but apparently it has suddenly become more fun." He rolled his eyes. "No idea why. Oh, and they also wanted to say hi to Malek."

"Oh...well, okay, I guess, but hurry up so we can get on with this." O'Neill said, sitting down along the wall at the back of the piloting area. "You take a look through the window, Mr. Carter."

"We're in space?"  Mark gasped.

"Yes. It is the world of the Tau'ri...I mean, Earth you see down there." Johan nodded towards the window.

Mark reached out to touch it, expecting to find some kind of trick...setup, anything. He yanked his hand back, at the faint tickling he felt, and stared at the flicker that appeared briefly. "It's not glass - it's some sort of...what? Movie screen? You really thought you could trick me into believing we're in orbit?"

"You are correct. It is not, actually, a glass window." Johan pointed out. "At least not in the traditional sense. Glass would not be able to withstand the pressure of travelling through hyperspace. Instead, it is a transparent composite-material, containing both naquadah and trinnium. However, as you just felt, it is always protected by a force field. The transparent material is an extra safety, should the force field cease to function because of an attack or accident."

"Force field!" Mark scoffed. "What do you take me for? An idiot? I may not be a scientist, like my brilliant sister, but I'm not a complete moron, either! Even I know we can't make something like that, yet."

"Very true. Earth scientists do not know how to make force fields." Johan smiled a little.

"What?" Mark shook his head, not having expected Johan to say that. "So...what are you trying to push here?"

"I...believe Johan just means we don't know how force fields work but we can use them. We, ah, acquired them...and some other things...from, eh..." O'Neill searched for a useful excuse.

Why had he they not come up with an excuse for this? They had decided on telling Mark about the Stargate, and a few other things, claiming it was things that had been found, first on Earth, and then on one or two alien planets they had gone to. Tell him they thought aliens had made the stuff long ago, but that no one had seem them since. Same for the alien device that had transformed Sam and the others to children. It should work - and it would be partially true as well, as they had found many things. Ancient aliens did seem to have a tendency to leave crap lying around for others to find and play with. Things to use - and very often get in trouble because of.

He was saved from having to explain, when Jacob returned with the children.

"Malek! Johan!" They all yelled and threw themselves at him.

"Are you here to play with us?" Sam wanted to know.

"We've built a huge model of Rohl'wa, in LEGO. You must see it!" Martouf declared, enthusiastically.

"And there's Jaffa!" Daniel added.

"I made a chaapa'ai in LEGO!" Freya insisted. "Anise helped. A little bit." She winced, as Anise probably yelled at her, insisting they had built it together.

"That sounds intriguing." Johan looked thoughtful for a moment, while he and Malek remembered what LEGO was. "Unfortunately, I will not have time to spend time with you, admiring your work of creation."

Mark frowned at the children, who quite obviously were not afraid of the place, nor where they reacting with confusion or surprise at the alleged 'transportation' here - curtesy of those strange rings - from the base to this 'ship'.

"Johan...has Jacob told you about our plan?" O'Neill asked.

"Yes. He wishes me to..." Johan began.

"Shhh." O'Neill interrupted him, shaking his head. "Don't tell him - yet."

Johan nodded, looking a little unsure. "As you wish, a...surprise."

"You speak French, correct?" O'Neill wondered.

"Eh, yes, I do." Mark looked confused. "Why?"

"We've just landed in Paris, in the..uh...Champ de Mars. We're cloaked...Johan...right? We're cloaked?"

"We are. We are also hidden behind a relatively large group of trees, so I do not believe anyone will notice anything. It is at the outskirts of the specified area."

"Good." O'Neill smiled, looking satisfied. "Let's take a walk. Buy a newspaper, perhaps. See the Eiffel Tower. I've always wanted to see that, haven't you, kids?"

"Yaay!" Sam exclaimed.

"Can we climb to the top?" Martouf wanted to know.

"On the outside?" Freya wondered.

"I've seen it. Twice. It's boring." Daniel insisted.

"I even went to the trouble of finding someone on the base that's from a country that use Euro, so I've got money to pay for admittance!" O'Neill smiled triumphantly to the children, who jumped excitedly around him.

"We can't be in France already!" Mark insisted. "It's not even ten minutes since we left, and you claimed we were in orbit, then!"

"I assure you, I really followed all security directions. Our flight was quite safe." Johan sounded indignant. 

"Listen, I wasn't saying you were a bad pilot - I mean, if we were actually even airborne, you set us down nicely, so softly, in fact, that I'm suspecting it was all a ruse, and we've just taken some fancy elevator to the surface."

"Thank you, though the anti-gravity does make it easier to land softly, contrary to what something like an...airplane can do." He shuddered, thinking back to the one time he had been forced to fly in a Tau'ri airborne vehicle. Both he and Malek had been terrified, and it had been an overall unpleasant experience.

"Come." Jacob said, giving his son a push towards the exit. "Quit being so thick-headed. You're not usually like that. Why don't you go outside and see we're telling you the truth?"

Mark reluctantly allowed himself to be pushed outside. He found himself in a pleasantly green park, behind a group of large trees and bushes, as Johan had said. He walked a few steps, circling in the direction Jacob pointed him...and suddenly froze, as he saw the Eiffel Tower ahead of him. The lower part of it was hidden by trees, but it was very obvious it was indeed the Eiffel Tower. Mark sighed, and slowly shook his head.

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