[ Chapter 1: Ruins | Chapter 2: Stranded | Chapter 3: The Feast | Chapter 4: Surprise | Chapter 5: The Challenges | Chapter 6: Hope and Worry | Chapter 7: More Competitions - and Another Surprise | Chapter 8: Choices | Chapter 9: The Party | Chapter 10: Weddings | Chapter 11: Drugged | Chapter 12: Love and Pleasure | Chapter 13: Pleasing Discoveries | Chapter 14: Fulfillment | Chapter 15: First Times | Chapter 16: A Pleasant Encounter | Chapter 17: More Pleasure | Chapter 18: Thoughts and Desire | Chapter 19: Time to Talk ]

Chapter 6: Hope and Worry
Summary: Jack O'Neill, Martouf/Lantash, Freya/Anise, and Daniel are doing a little better in the competitions, but defeat is still a very real possibility.

"...and that brings us to today's challenges," Tinnok said, smiling as usual. "There will be three tests today: construction, interpretation, and combat. We will meet on the ceremonial grounds outside the city, just like we did yesterday. Good luck everyone!"

"Construction, eh? How hard can that be!" O'Neill observed, a pleased look on his face.

"Depends what they want us to build, I guess," Daniel said. "Could be easy - or it could be very hard."

"I've helped my granddad rebuild one of the walls of his house, when the storm had taken it down, and I've also helped him build a wall around his house, so I'm thinking I've got a good chance on this one," O'Neill insisted. "What about you, Marty?"

Martouf got the slightly offended expression he always got when O'Neill referred to him as 'Marty'. "I have never built anything, except with a toy construction set. One of Lantash's former host's have helped build a house, though, so we believe we shall manage."

They reached the ceremonial grounds where the city held their games, and the first challenge started. The goal was to build a wall, five feet long, two feet tall, and two bricks thick. The competitors set to work immediately, each working in their own area.

With some anxiousness, Sam, Teal'c, and Aldwin observed them all work. Their people needed to do well in this event, or they would get too far behind to win.

It was soon obvious that O'Neill and Martouf/Lantash were actually doing a good job building their walls. Even though most of the locals were reasonably good, only some of them were at the level of O'Neill and Martouf/Lantash.

"Hah - did you see? That fellow over there..." Sam pointed. "His wall just tipped over!"

Teal'c smiled. "You are correct, Major Carter. He will have to start over."

"I think his name is Narok," Aldwin said. "He is leading your group in points, so it is most fortunate he is not doing well in this competition."

"Oh, I agree. Wholeheartedly!" Sam exclaimed. "By the way, it looks like Freya... or maybe it's Anise... is close to finishing her wall."

"It is Anise. Her host before the one before Freya was a brick layer. It was her only male host," Aldwin told them.

"Lucky," Sam observed.

Finally everyone had finished building their piece of wall, and Freya/Anise actually ended up second in her group.

O'Neill finished just moments before Martouf/Lantash, and only one of the locals had gotten their wall built before them, so they got good scores. Daniel worked slower, but ended up with a fairly good placement - as number five.

After a short break and a light lunch, the second challenge of the day began. The men and Freya/Anise were each given a short text written in Goa'uld, and asked to translate it as well and as fast as possible.

While the people of that world generally learned to read and write some Goa'uld, it was normally not much. Unless they wanted to be traders or priests, they had little use for it, as it was mostly used for talking and trading with those rare visitors that arrived through the Stargate.

As a result, all the locals except one did extremely poorly on this test. Freya/Anise easily read and translated her entire text long before the others, and she was the only one who got all of it correct.

Martouf and Lantash also had an easy job, and won their group, followed by Daniel. O'Neill only recognized very little of his text, and only because Daniel had recently insisted on teaching him. He had hated it then, but now it came in handy, and he was happy about it. This meant he did better than many of the locals, and ended up in fifth place.

It was now time for the day's last competition, which would be unarmed combat. The competitors in each group would fight two and two, in such a way that everyone tried their luck against everyone else. This meant every man in Sam's group would fight a total of 8 battles, and everyone in Freya/Anise's group - including herself - would fight 7 opponents. The competitors would get one point for each fight they won.

"And here I thought things were looking up for me after that ancient text we got to translate!" Daniel complained. "I've got no chance against anyone! I'll just be beat up and not get anything to show for it. I'm thinking it would be safer to withdraw than continue! I mean, that would be one less point for the others to win, right?"

"Didn't you take the self-defence class I told you to?" O'Neill asked.

"Yes, I did, but that's not going to help me here!"

"It very well may. There is no reason why the people of this world should be particularly adept at fighting, Doctor Jackson," Martouf said. "It is a farming community, and as far as I understand, there has been no skirmishes with nearby villages, or offworlders, for many many centuries."

"Yeah, exactly!" O'Neill smiled. "You'll be fine, Daniel!"

"I hope you guys are right..." Daniel said, not looking convinced.

"Of course we are... in any case, I promise to do my best not to hurt you!" O'Neill grinned.

"So, who do you think will be the most dangerous opponent, Teal'c?" O'Neill asked, studying the men that he would be fighting very soon. "The big guy over there? Or maybe the wiry one?"

"Neither. The Tok'ra Martouf will almost certainly prove to be the most difficult opponent," Teal'c said.

"Marty? He's a kid! I mean, okay, he's Tok'ra, and I guess they're supposed to be pretty strong, but he doesn't look that strong..."

"Do not forget; he is Tok'ra, not human. As such, he will be stronger, faster, and more agile. Goa'uld are not usually trained in martial arts, but I would not be surprised if Tok'ra were. If so, they would be formidable opponents, even for myself."

"Gee, thanks, T! That's not exactly encouraging, but we'll see, I guess. Any actual advice in fighting him - or the others?"

"My best advice is to observe each of your opponents, including Martouf and Lantash. Study their strengths and weaknesses."

"Good advice - if it wasn't for the fact that I'll be too busy fighting to observe much of anything!" He sighed. "First round starts now - I've got to fight some guy called Rilek. Wish me luck!"

*Mmmm, have you seen that one over there?* Freya called Anise's attention to one of the local men, named Rhoak, who was currently fighting another local man, which she could not remember the name of right now.

*I am attempting to prepare for the next fight,* Anise answered, testily.

*Then why do you not do so while looking at Rhoak? Such wonderful muscles on that one!*

*He is attempting to win Major Carter... but yes, I will admit he is... attractive. As is his brother, who is currently fighting Martouf... fighting and losing, but that is hardly surprising. Lantash is a skilled fighter.*

*Yes... what magnificent brothers those two are!*

*Are you even listening to what I am saying?* Anise scoffed, then went back to preparing herself, mentally. After each fight the competitors had some time to recover and collect themselves. Their next combat would start in a few moments.

Lantash quickly and efficiently disabled his opponent, causing as little damage as possible. When his adversary had admitted defeat, he let go of him and stepped back.

*That was the last of our opponents. We have won all our fights!* Martouf observed, pleased.

*Yes - though I shall gladly admit I am happy there are no more battles to fight right now. We are exhausted and sore, and need time to recuperate.* Lantash looked at the sun. *Sunset is not far away. As soon as we are allowed to, we should go and bathe - and then hopefully dinner is soon ready. It would be nice to go to sleep early, so we will be fully recovered by tomorrow.*

*Something few others will be, I suspect." Martouf took in the state of their fellow contestants, who were all rather worse for wear after the many fights.

After the scores had been calculated for everyone and read out aloud, SG-1 and the Tok'ra could feel somewhat more relaxed than they had the other days. Freya and Anise were actually leading her group in points - even if only by one point ahead of the two nearest. In Sam's group, one of the locals still took first place, but Martouf and Lantash were only one point behind, and O'Neill had also gained some places from the days before.

It was starting to look possibly that someone from SG-1 or the Tok'ra could win - as long as the challenges the next day were not targeted too specifically to the skills of the locals.

This meant the mood among them at the evenings dinner was not as tense as it had been the other days, and they allowed themselves to relax some.

The dinner ended early, though, as all the competitors were exhausted and needed time to sleep and recover their strength before the last day of the games.

Then came the morning of the fourth and last day of the contest. Today the winners would be found.

It currently looked as if SG-1 and the Tok'ra would have a very good chance of preventing one of the locals from winning either Freya/Anise or Sam.

Of course, that all depended on what today's challenges were.

All the competitors - with the exception of Martouf/Lantash and Freya/Anise - were still sore from the previous day's battles.

"Why didn't you guys bring a healing device?" O'Neill complained. "My ribs feels like elephants have been dancing on them!"

"We did our best to avoid injuring you, O'Neill," Martouf assured him.

O'Neill grumbled. "Hmph, well even if that's the truth, the same couldn't be said for the others!"

"If you're sore, what do you think I am?" Daniel exclaimed.

"In the future, we shall remember to bring a healing device whenever we are on missions with you," Martouf said. "Samantha, it may be a good idea for you to train with the device, so that you can assist your team members on those missions where there are no Tok'ra."

Sam nodded. "Sounds like a good idea, actually."

"Lantash and I will be happy to instruct you," Martouf assured her.

"Oh, I'm sure you will!" O'Neill snorted.

"Listen - we need to hurry. Breakfast begins in a few moments," Daniel said, quickly, wanting to avoid an argument.

"...and with that, I welcome all of you to the last day of the games, and wish our skillful competitors good luck!" Tinnok said, and raised his cup. "May the best men win the women they are vying for!"

The villagers all drank a cup with him, and cheered loudly. It was clear they were enjoying watching the games immensely - as well as enjoying the good food they shared.

Tonight, after the games had ended, there would be not only a celebratory dinner, but also a grand party, with music and dancing. Tomorrow evening there would be another celebration - for the weddings that would be held then.

Chapter 7: More Competitions - and Another Surprise