|"Pining For The Fjords"
||[Mar. 14th, 2009|12:26 pm]
finishathon. If I decide to do finishathon.) File last modified: 2006The Jack/Thor Epic of Epicness. Or perhaps that should be "saga-ness". (finally posting this here mostly so I can link it to |
Part One: The Rainbow Bridge
"Okay, see," Jack said. "What is this?"
He had landed on the bridge of an Asgard ship, in a pair of very rumpled jeans and a white t-shirt. "O'Neill," Thor said from behind the console, and blinked in welcome.
"Thor. Buddy!" Jack said. "I'm retired! For the last time! Congratulate me! I've spent the last three months fishing! In Minnesota. And hopefully not catching anything. Do the Asgard have something against fishing? Some sort of cultural thing, or something?"
Thor tilted his head to the side. "Retired. This means that you have left your position with the military of Earth, and intend to spend the remainder of your life at rest?"
"Yes! Sounds good to me. Which kind of makes me wonder why I suddenly found myself, not in my bed, but in your *ship*."
"The Asgard do not have a concept of retirement," Thor said thoughtfully. "We believe that to die at rest is to die without honor."
"Well, I'm damn glad I'm not Asgard, then," Jack said, and stood up very slowly. His knees were flaring up again and the hard floor hadn't done anything for his back. Not to mention the lingering effects of last night's beer. Really. Don't mention them. Please. He pressed a hand to his temple. "Ow."
Thor peered at Jack again. "Are you well? You appear to be exhibiting symptoms of head pain."
"It's just a hangover. I was out drinking with Sam and Daniel last night. I was *planning* to sleep in once I got off the plane." He shaded his eyes. "I don't suppose you have anything to drink up here?"
"A hangover?" Thor asked, curiously.
"Oh, come on," Jack said. "You little guys aren't *that* innocent. You've gotta know about drinking. I know you were always drinking in those stories Daniel tells. Quaffing. Quaffing mead."
"Ah," Thor said. "You are referring to the practice of intentionally imbibing neurotoxins for the purpose of emotional release. I fear I do not have any such substances on this ship."
"Just water would be fine," Jack said, wandering over and leaning on the console. "Or you could send me back *home*, and I could make coffee and find some aspirin."
"The Asgard are in need of your help, O'Neill," Thor said, materializing a cube of water and giving him the full force of those black eyes.
Jack took it and gazed at the ceiling. "You don't seem to have gotten the point of this 'retirement' thing. I know it took me three tries, but you guys are supposed to be smart."
"I was not aware you had retired from your position as Asgard's friend on Earth," Thor said. "In fact, since we have no concept of retirement--"
"Nope," Jack interrupted. "I'm not doing it."
Thor tilted his head and blinked. "You do not even know what I plan to ask of you."
"Not doing it," Jack said. "I'm retired."
Thor fiddled with something on the console, and gestured at the broad window. "Look."
The visible starfield began to turn, and Jack found himself watching against his will as he drank. Slowly, another ship rotated into view. It looked Asgard, but it was somehow different from any other Asgard ship Jack had seen, even ignoring the pitted, aged-looking surface of it. It looked graceful, and almost pretty. Jack suddenly thought of Lya of the Nox. "What is that?" he asked.
"It is a legendary Asgard prototype vessel," Thor replied, "thought to have been lost nearly fifteen hundred years ago, at the height of our war with the Goa'uld. It was recently found floating undamaged but empty in space. The wealth in knowledge and technology it could return to our people is invaluable."
"So why do you need me?" Jack asked. "That is why you snatched me, right? Not that I'm going to help," he added, jabbing a finger. "Retired."
Thor blinked. "We have been attempting to gain access to this vessel for several months now. However, one of its innovations was to incorporate certain Ancient technologies into the design, and it appears that before the ship was abandoned it was locked using a method we do not entirely understand. We are hoping that your genetic advancement will allow you to - open the doors."
"Open the doors. That's all you want."
"Yes," Thor said. "We are confident there will be no danger. I only ask that you try, and then I will return you to your Earth, and your - fishing. Perhaps, if you no longer consider it your duty, enough friendship has passed between us that you would be willing to do this as a favor to me?"
"No danger, you said. Quick in and out." Jack looked over and Thor nodded. "And you say there's Ancient techonology in there?"
"Yes. To the best of our knowledge, perhaps even some of the final technologies developed by the Ancients before the last of them moved on."
"All right, all right," Jack said. "I'll do it. But just as a favor, mind you. Because I'm retired. And you people really need to learn to call ahead. I would have invited you to my retirement party if I'd had an address."
"That is very good of you, O'Neill."
"Speaking of calling, let me tell Landry what's up--"
Thor blinked very slowly. "I have already informed the necessary people of our whereabouts and mission, O'Neill. In the interests of saving time, so that you might return to your fishing as rapidly as possible."
"Ah." Jack said. "Really?"
It was far too easy to get into the ship. Jack should have known better. He blamed retirement for screwing up his instincts.
Thor's own ship seemed to be significantly smaller than any Asgard ship Jack had encountered before, judging by the way he maneuvered it into a docking position with the derelict and aligned the airlocks. Apparently Asgard technology had not changed enough in fifteen hundred years to cause compatibility problems. And apparently there was some kind of shielding that kept them from just transporting in. The door on the other side didn't open until Jack fiddled with an Ancient-looking doohickey beside it, but that was the only hint of trouble.
Thor led him through the ship to what Jack assumed would be the command room. The corridors were pretty much like the corridors of every other Asgard ship. It even gave him that itchy back-of-the-neck feeling he always got that made him think robotic bugs were watching him, even when there weren't any. Although he noticed quite a bit more of the ornamental knotwork the Asgard were fond of, and all the lights were off, and the air was stale and very chilly. He should have insisted that Thor get him a change of clothes at least.
It wasn't until they found the control room that trouble showed up. Thor fiddled with the stones for a while in an attempt to fully power up the ship's systems. Eventually the ship made that *whooshing* sound that was pretty much galactic universal for "stuff turning on". Of course, ancient alien technology turning on usually meant at least a week's worth of extreme weirdness, deadly peril, and, in the worst cases, paperwork, but Jack didn't stop to think of that until the doors to the control room slid shut.
Thor's eyes widened at that, and he did something rather frantic to the console. The doors didn't re-open.
"Thor," Jack said warningly.
"O'Neill," Thor replied, and then gave a wheezy little cough that sounded *way* too much like he had when he was dying on the Biliskner, then suddenly leaned heavily on the console.
Jack took a couple steps toward him before he abruptly realized that he couldn't breathe either, and he instinctively reached for his mask, but he wasn't in mission gear and he didn't have *anything* to work with. The floor felt a lot harder when he collapsed this time.
The familiar klaxons rang out through Cheyenne Mountain, followed by an announcement of "Unscheduled Offworld Activation" over the PA system. Sam and Daniel, conferring in his office, looked at each other and dashed for the gateroom. They'd just made it out the door when the power went down, and the rest of the run to the gateroom was done by emergency lighting.
A minute later, Walter paged them to the conference room.
An Asgard sat there across from the general, his feet dangling above the door like a child's.d
"Heimdall!" Sam said delightedly, as Cam came in.
The Asgard nodded at her, pleased. "Greetings, Dr. Carter."
"Daniel, Colonel Mitchell, this is Heimdall, the Asgard scientist," Sam said. "I don't think you've met."
"Not in the flesh, as such," Daniel said with what might have been meant as a smile, and nodded in welcome. "Heimdall. It's an honor."
"I am very pleased to meet you at last, Dr. Jackson."
"So, what's up?" Daniel asked, clasping his hands behind his back. "You just stop by for a chat?"
Heimdall blinked at him. "We have not had any contact with Commander Thor in nearly a week. I wished to discover whether you had heard from General O'Neill."
"Jack?" the General said with a frown. "Jack's at his cabin. Isn't he?"
"That's what I thought," Sam said. "But no, I haven't heard from him since the last time he came back for a visit. You know how he gets."
Heimdall tilted his head. "O'Neill is not on a mission with Thor?"
"Not as far as I know," Daniel said, frowning.
"I see," Heimdall said, and thought for a moment. "Slightly over a week ago, Commander Thor approached Earth for the purpose of requesting O'Neill's assistance in a matter vital to the Asgard race. Soon thereafter, he communicated to me that O'Neill had consented to help and they were proceeding with the mission. That is the last contact I have had with them; they are now substantially overdue. They did not contact you?"
"Nooo--" Daniel said, and looked at Sam.
Heimdall tilted his head. "Why would Commander Thor and General O'Neill have neglected to inform you of their purpose?"
"I would guess that it's because he knew that I would say no," Landry growled, narrowing his eyes. "He has no business going offworld - he doesn't bounce back as fast these days. And his first chemotherapy session was scheduled for the week he got back from his vacation."
"Chemo?" Cam asked, surprised.
"Apparently zat blasts are carcinogenic over the long term," Daniel said witheringly. "Who would have guessed?"
"I see." Heimdall blinked, and looked down at the table. "Three months ago, the Nox informed my people that they had detected an Asgard ship drifting in their space. When Thor and I arrived to investigate, we discovered that it was an experimental ship which had been reported destroyed fifteen hundred years ago, apparently undamaged. Among other advanced technologies, it was meant to contain a complete cloning facility and a large archive of Asgard genetic material."
"That could solve your problem in one stroke," Sam said, leaning forward.
"Yes," Heimdall said, and glanced at her. "However, this ship was also exceptional for the extent to which it integrated Asgard technology with that of the rest of the Four Races, moreso than has been attempted before or since. It is passively shielded against transporters, and we were also unable to, ah, unlock the front door. I was of the opinion that it had been gene-locked using Ancient technology, and Thor eventually obtained permission to ask for the assistance of one of your people who is genetically advanced, in the hope that they would be able to activate the locks. Thor reported to me five days ago that he and O'Neill had reached the vessel and were preparing to attempt entry; that was the last contact I have had with him."
Sam frowned. "Have you tried going in after them?"
Heimdall shook his head. "The ship was also equipped with a device which combines Asgard cloaking technology with Nox glamour. As far as the Nox can determine, it was activated at some point after Thor reached the vessel. Neither I nor the Nox are able to determine its current location."
"Heimdall," Daniel Jackson said, drawing on the table with one finger, "Last time you and Thor were in trouble, Freyr showed up to ask for help. Why did you come alone this time? Without even a ship?"
"Ah," Heimdall said. "Freyr has chosen not to involve himself with this project. It was a wise decision, as it has reduced a potential for complications. Also," he added hastily, "Much of our resources are still tied up in efforts to rebuild and repopulate our galaxy."
"I guess that means we won't have backup from your people, either, if we send a rescue team," drawled Cam.
Heimdall blinked. "Most likely not, unless the situation greatly increases in urgency."
"What happened to your research being vitally important --"
Daniel interrupted. "So what is the name of this oh-so-special, ancient ship?"
Heimdall looked at him, slowly. "It is the Sessrumnir, Dr. Jackson."
"Of course it is."
"Does that mean something to you, Daniel?" Cameron asked.
"According to Norse legend, Sessrumnir was Freyja's hall."
"The Tok'Ra are involved in this?" said Landry, frowning
"No, not that Freya. Although I had assumed that she was from an Asgard protected planet," Daniel added thoughtfully. "In Earth legends, Frejya was the primary fertility goddess in Asgard. You might say that she was the goddess of sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll."
"Oh, heck," Sam said.
"Not exactly reassuring, is it?" Daniel leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest. "I had been curious as to why we've heard no references to any of the goddesses in our dealings with the Asgard. So, Heimdall, you want to explain? And how exactly was the Sessrumnir supposed to have been destroyed, anyway, if it's some sort of wonder ship?"
Jack opened his eyes and saw a rainbow. Or, rather, a band of pastel-colored light that crossed the sky from one horizon to the other. Behind it, stars in unfamiliar constellations were scattered against the black of night. He blinked and shook his head, but the band of light was still there. A ringed planet?, he thought. He heard nothing but a soft rustle of wind.
Hoisting himself up, he took a look around. He was sitting in a field of some sort of soft grass or moss, scattered with tiny white flowers that shone with the reflected light of the arch in the sky. The meadow filled a small, bowl-shaped valley that was surrounded on three sides by steep mountainsides, covered with scrubby evergreen forest that mounted to a treeline and then snow. The snow glowed orange in the light from the ring. On the fourth side, the still waters of a large body of water filled the valley from cliff wall to cliff wall and reflected back the endless black of the sky.
He was near the center of the valley, which was empty and quiet, except for a faint, wavering orange glow about half a klick closer to both the trees and the water than Jack was. He reached for his rifle scope in order to get a better view, and realized that he had field kit with him; he was dressed in green BDUs with a vest and weapons, and beside him on the grass was a full pack.
His knees didn't hurt either. Or his back, and his headache had mysteriously vanished. And for the first time since he could remember, he didn't feel physically tired, either.
Well. Today was just getting weirder and weirder.
The scope showed him that the light in the distance was a small, cheerful campfire, with what looked like several large fish being roasted over it. A single figure moved around, tending the cooking. It looked more-or-less humanoid, but Jack wouldn't swear that it was actually human - it moved with an unreal gliding grace, and while it was slender and maybe a few inches taller than Jack, its proportions were subtly wrong. A heart-shaped face was framed by a mass of feathery red-gold hair, and it wore a plain, straight tunic cinched by a heavy, elaborate belt of some sort of metal. Over that it wore a dark cloak, and sturdy boots laced halfway up to its knees. What caught Jack's eye, though, was a glint of metal as it raised its right hand. It wore some kind of device which wound around the palm, wrist, and fingers. From this distance, Jack couldn't make out any details, but it sure as hell looked like a Goa'uld hand device.
But on the other hand, the figure at the campfire was the only sign of life in the valley, and his best chance of figuring out how to get out of here. And Jack would have at least a little warning if it was Goa'uld. He considered heading into the scrub forest and circling around that way, but he'd still have to walk half a kilometer over open ground in order to reach cover. Instead, he just hoisted on his pack, settled the gun, and struck out toward the fire. He'd try the "peaceful explorers" method. He was pretty sure it had worked at least once. For somebody.
As he got closer he could hear the figure singing cheerfully to itself in an unfamiliar language but a naggingly familiar voice. Really incredibly familiar. In fact, he was concentrating so hard on the voice that he nearly jumped out of his skin when it stopped singing and called out to him.
"O'Neill!" it said joyously, its small, bow-shaped mouth stretching into a grin. "So you are here! I had begun to think that she would not take you."
Jack stopped short and stared. He recognized the voice now, all right. "Thor?!"
"You are looking very hale as well, O'Neill."
"No, seriously. Where's Thor? Little naked gray guy, about so high? You seem to have stolen his voice."
The alien grinned unrepentantly at him. "You see the body I wore when I was young, O'Neill, before the Asgard's present troubles with cloning began. I believe that you will find that your own body is also in better condition than it was."
He'd noticed that already, actually. "And this doesn't .. bother you? At all?" He gestured expansively around the fire, the roasting fish, the camp.
Thor laughed. "This is still the body that I wear when I dream, O'Neill. To wear it again is more than a dream come true. To smile, to breath freely, to feel the wind of Otthala in my hair ... and I wield Jarngreipr once more!" He raised the hand that wore the gauntlet in victory.
"Yes, about that. Since when do you wear a hand device?"
"The gauntlet of Asgard is not a mere device, O'Neill. It is a weapon and a tool and a work of high craft. Perhaps, one day, I will tell you the story of its theft by the Goa'uld. If I do not, I am sure Dr. Jackson has heard an account of it. But as our genome deteriorated, most of us have lost the ability to control the gauntlet, and I never thought I would wear one again. Come, sit down," he added. "Partake of sustenance. Be welcome."
Jack sat, slowly. Either this *was* Thor, or it was an unknown alien with the ability to use a hand device who just happened to capture him on an Asgard ship and was telling a very complicated lie for no immediately apparent reason. Anyway, he was hungry.