Season: season 6
Series: Stargate SG-1
A silly shippy tale of the two hours Captain Matheson lasted.
No dough, no foul.
T plus 58 minutes
Captain Matheson jogged down the slope towards the other members of SG-1. Above him, several of the natives of P5N-927 aimed longbows at the descending figure. Jack prayed silently for them to shoot.
Matheson slid to a halt in front of Carter. "I was right," he said breathlessly. "They worship Venus."
"The planet?" Jack asked.
"The Roman goddess. The Greeks knew her as Aphrodite, and the Etruscans, from whom these people are descended---"
"Matheson." Jack hated it when the Daniel-replacements sounded too much like the original. "What about the naqahdah?" They'd come here for the naqahdah deposits. The natives were just an unexpected complication.
Matheson shifted gears on his enthusiasm. "You won't believe me."
"Try us," Carter said, and not in a get-to-the-point-already way. She was way too easy on the new guys, in Jack's opinion. Back at the temple ruins, Matheson had wandered away from the class and straight into the arms of a native patrol. Teal'c had tracked them here.
"They grind up the ore and use it to make a kind of Greek fire."
Jack sighed. Matheson had minored in Classics at the Air Force Academy, and hardly a sentence went by without a reference to ancient dead people.
"That's amazing," Carter said.
Jack eyed the arrows still casually pointed at them from above. "One man's fire is as good as another's, I always say."
Carter explained. "It was a chemical weapon that caught fire when exposed to water."
"Lovely." Jack gripped his P-90 for comfort, and Teal'c hefted his staff weapon.
Matheson added, "The Byzantines used it to---"
Jack made a cutting motion. "So are they willing to share?"
"They seem open to a joint mining arrangement. They're also eager to meet you."
The natives must have tired of Matheson's long-windedness as well. They scrambled down the hillside and surrounded SG-1. A particularly large, solid man in a white robe stepped forward from the ring.
Matheson introduced him. "This is the paterfamilias, Dalilus."
Dalilus ignored Matheson--the paterfamilias was quick on the uptake--and addressed Carter instead. "You are the unattached female warrior."
It was going to be one of those planets, Jack could already tell. Matheson could have warned them.
"I'm Major Carter. Pleased to meet you."
"You will consider my son, Nonius." A thinner version of Dalilus stepped forward from the ring. His robe hung a little loose and his hair was greasy, but otherwise he was a fine example of alien youth.
"Nonius is probably his ninth child," Matheson whispered, as if it mattered to anyone besides Nonius himself.
Carter pretended not to get it. "Consider him for what?"
Matheson sputtered, but Carter took it well. "I'm not looking for a mate right now," she said.
Dalilus was unfazed. "You will consider him," he repeated, then made a hand-signal to his followers. A round man in a sky-blue robe stepped forward.
Jack pointed his P-90 at the new guy, who didn't catch on. Sometimes it took a crossbow to threaten the natives properly. Matheson put a restraining hand on Jack's arm, which only pissed him off more.
"Ries is the priest of Venus," Matheson said. "He's unarmed. The other three men in blue togas are his acolytes."
"Then what's that mace-thing he's holding?"
Ries had pulled out a foot-long gold chain with a large ring at each end. Jack stepped forward, but everyone and his brother had their arrows notched now. Twenty black arrowheads pointed at him.
Two acolytes moved in to flank Carter. "Sir?"
"Carter, why don't you consider Nonius? Then let him down easy and we can go find another planet with naqahdah deposits."
Carter opened her mouth to say that line about being friends that was dreaded by greasy teenage boys everywhere, but before she got past the "let's," the priest grabbed her arm and slipped one of the rings over her hand. It shrank to fit snugly, and the chain hung off Carter's wrist.
Matheson started hyperventilating. Jack slapped him on the back. "Do you have any idea what that is?"
Jack left him to his hyperventilation. "Carter?"
"There's naqahdah in this thing, sir."
"Well, don't get any water on it."
The priest had the other end of the chain and was trying to slip the cuff onto Nonius' arm. It bounced back off each time like a magnet being repelled by another, unwilling, magnet. The scene would have been comic without the bows and arrows.
The priest shook his head and Nonius slunk away. The acolytes backed off, arrows were lowered, and everyone relaxed. Jack approached Carter, with Teal'c guarding his back. Matheson's curiosity overcame his panic and he started talking to the priest about the chain-thing.
Jack kept an eye on Dalilus, who seemed disappointed but not angry. "I'm sure your son is a fine boy," Jack said, "but we came here for the naqahdah."
"I have other sons," he offered. "Come back with us to the village and I will find your Carter a mate."
"Na. Qah. Dah."
Dalilus nodded and led the way back up the hill.
T plus 86 minutes
Jack checked their six; Matheson and the priest tailed behind, but at least they were moving. Teal'c held the other end of the chain for Carter as she wrestled with the device. She couldn't slip her wrist out of the cuff.
"It looks Goa'uld, sir."
Teal'c stretched the chain out for Jack's benefit. "It does indeed appear to be Goa'uld."
T would know. Besides, the gold gave it away. You'd think the Goa'uld would switch color schemes every thousand years or so, but no. They stuck with the gold.
Matheson's voice carried over the other conversations for a moment--"You're kidding!"--then faded back into the crowd. Jack shook his head.
"He's not that bad, sir." That from the woman with a Goa'uld mystery device hanging off her wrist, who'd almost married Nonius on their first date.
Jack rolled his eyes. "Daniel would have seen the whole interstellar dating service thing coming a mile away."
And they walked. The ground rose gently towards distant mountains. A forest lay beyond the ruins where they'd lost Matheson. Speaking of whom... "Matheson!"
"One minute!" he shouted back.
Jack sighed. Teal'c slowed down to wait for Matheson; Carter didn't. Jack stopped short in front of the chain when it went taut between them.
"Is Teal'c jerking your chain, Major?"
She flicked her wrist, snapping the heavy links into his abdomen.
"Ow!" Jack backed off and unslung his P-90. Although the natives were friendly enough, pointing it at people would make him feel better. They walked on.
T plus 107 minutes
The natives stopped at a clearing deep in the forest, surrounded by what could only be described as log cabins. The priest headed for a larger, plank building and Matheson finally looked around for his team. Jack watched him, wishing they could sneak back to the gate without their fourth wheel.
"T, check the perimeter. I'll jerk Carter's chain."
Teal'c obligingly held out the golden circle to Jack. Out of the corner of his eye, Jack could see Matheson waving from across the clearing.
"Colonel, sir! Wait!" Matheson started running.
Chicken. "We're not leaving you behind," Jack shouted, adding, "much as I'd like to," under his breath. He took the chain from Teal'c and nodded to him to move out. The ring at the end was heavier than it looked.
"No!" Matheson grabbed at the chain.
"What's your problem, Captain?"
Carter was staring at his hand. Jack looked down. The anti-magnetism that had pushed the ring off Nonius' wrist had reversed itself; the ring pulled itself up Jack's hand and over his wrist, twisting his thumb in the process.
Matheson yanked at the chain, but it sprang back immediately and shrunk down onto his wrist.
"Shit!" Jack pulled his arm back. The thing was heavy, and it was still attached to Carter at the other end. "What's going on, Matheson? You came tearing over here like you knew this was going to happen."
Teal'c loomed over the captain, who talked.
"The p-p-priest explained a-a-bout the chain. L-l-long ago, Venus arranged all matches here. W-when she left, she gave these people the chains to do her matchmaking for her." Matheson paused, and Jack made a rolling motion with his free hand to encourage him to continue. "W-w-when a woman is undecided about her future mate, they attach the chain to her wrist."
Jack thought he was holding back. "When exactly did the priest tell you this?"
"About ten minutes ago." Matheson was calming down, but Jack wasn't. A crowd of natives had gathered; they were laughing at the Tauri.
Teal'c asked the obvious question. "Then why did you not warn me? I carried the chain for Major Carter."
"The chain will only attach two people if they're attracted to each other, and you're not in love with Cap--" Matheson's mouth snapped shut, as if he'd just realized what he was saying. He backed away slowly.
Jack went for his throat. The chain weighed him down, but one free hand would be enough for a skinny chicken neck like Matheson's.
"Out of my way, Teal'c! I'm putting him out of my misery."
He couldn't get a good grip, though, and Matheson squeaked. "Sir! Sergeant East told me, sir! She said the whole base knew--" Jack squeezed harder. Was that little tidbit supposed to help his case?
Carter came up on Jack's left. "Allow me, sir." She wrapped a second hand around Matheson's throat. He squeaked out something like "feedback loop" before he started to turn blue.
Teal'c pulled him out of their joint grasp, then imposed himself between them and Matheson.
"Let me at 'em, T."
Teal'c turned to Matheson, shielding him with his body. "Go to the Tauri," he said. "Inform General Hammond of our status, and do not return."
Carter added, "I'd request a transfer if I were you."
"To Siberia." Jack frowned as Matheson sprinted away.
T plus 119 minutes
Jack held up his chained hand. "This is the most damage any of them have done yet, and he did it in under a day." He tried to check his watch, but the gold cuff had flowed over it.
Carter's left hand was free; she checked the time. "Two hours--a new record."
Teal'c cleared his throat.
"O'Neill, you attempted to murder Captain Matheson." Teal'c gave him one of those hundred-year-old paternal looks.
"And your point is?"
"This behavior is unlike you, and also unlike Major Carter."
Carter shrugged. "Teal'c has a point. Matheson said something about a feedback loop."
"I didn't catch that."
"You were strangling him at the time, O'Neill." Teal'c raised an eyebrow.
"T, fetch the priest. I think someone needs to make a confession."
T plus 130 minutes
Teal'c dragged the priest bodily back to their position. Jack glared at him and Teal'c shrugged. "Lover Tosce was reluctant to speak to you. I promised not to permit you to strangle him."
"So," Jack said, "about this chain..."
The priest gave too bright a smile. "Congratulations! You make a lovely couple."
Jack twitched, and Carter leaned forward menacingly.
The priest backed away. "Don't kill me," he said.
"We won't"--Jack paused--"if you tell us how to get this thing off."
Lover Tosce relaxed. "That's easy," he said. "You just have to...you know."
"I don't know." Jack's hands itched.
"You know, you-know."
Jack stepped forward and the priest cringed. "Look, Father--"
"Lover," Tosce corrected him.
Jack rolled his eyes. "Look, Tosce, I'm from another planet. I don't know. You're going to have to spell it out for me here."
Lover Tosce blushed, belying his racy title. "We do not speak of the mysteries of Venus."
"Sir," Carter said, "I think he means you-know."
Tosce covered his ears. "La la la la la," he said, "I can't hear you."
"Who is this guy?" No one answered Jack's question. The Lover kept la-la-ing. "Teal'c, your staff weapon. Carter, stand still."
Jack stepped back as far as he could, stretching the chain taut between his upraised arm and Carter's.
Teal'c aimed and the head of the staff weapon opened. "Are you ready?"
The la-las ended abruptly. "No," Tosce shouted. He knocked the staff weapon aside as Teal'c fired. The energy blast set a small cabin ablaze. The natives rushed to extinguish it, several of them making a wide circle to avoid SG-1.
Teal'c pinned the Lover's arms behind his back with one hand, and with the other readied his staff to fire again.
"You mustn't," Tosce said. "You will hurt them."
"My aim is--"
Tosce didn't let him finish his sentence. "The fire will run through the chain. I have heard stories of couples that held the chain in the fire for only a moment, yet burnt themselves."
"Superstition," Jack said.
"He may be right, sir." Carter moved forward, letting the chain go slack. "The chain may reverberate at a submolecular level when exposed to--"
"Carter, my head." Jack had a disturbing thought. "Does that mean we can't cut it off, either?"
"I wouldn't recommend it. Sir." She had her rare there's-no-way-to-save-this-planet-sir look on. Normally that was a sign to dial the stargate and get the heck out of Dodge, but in this case...
T plus 143 minutes
Jack summed up the situation: "So it's sex or be chained together forever." Which would probably lead to sex anyway, if they didn't kill each other first.
Lover Tosce couldn't cover his ears; Teal'c still had him pinned. "No no no," he said. "Not s-s-s--." He rephrased, "Not that. Only you-know."
Some possibilities came to mind, but he didn't want to give Tosce a stroke by saying them aloud. He decided to work his way up. "Give her flowers?"
Tosce was puzzled. "Why would you give dying vegetation to a woman?"
"It is a Tauri thing," Teal'c explained.
"Buy her dinner?" Jack suggested. Carter twitched.
"Is she hungry?"
Carter leapt forward and got her hands back around Tosce's neck. The desire to kill the coy priest flooded Jack. Teal'c knocked Jack to the ground as he closed, though. A big Jaffa foot pinned him down.
Teal'c tried to pry Carter's hands off Tosce with little success. The specter of death loosened his tongue, though. He said something with an s in it.
"What was that?" No answer. "Carter, let him talk, then kill him."
Carter relaxed her hands. "Kiss!" Tosce shouted hoarsely.
Teal'c yanked him back out of range. Free of the Jaffa foot, Jack stood up.
Was that all? He gave Carter a peck on the cheek. The chain didn't respond.
She turned and kissed Jack quickly on the lips. His lips tingled pleasantly, but the chain remained attached.
"Carter, you have permission to kill him now."
Tosce held up his hands to block her. "No, no, no," he said, "a real k-k-k--."
"I believe Lover Tosce is referring to a Fren--"
"When did we jump the shark?" Jack asked.
Carter said, "Excuse me, sir?"
"O'Neill is asking when we crossed the line from melodrama into farce. I believe it was when Daniel Jackson began to haunt us from his higher plane of existence."
Jack shook his head. "Carter, you really need to get out more. Teal'c knows more about popular culture than you do."
"What shark?" she asked.
They were both delaying the inevitable. But like a good soldier, Jack was ready to jump on that land mine, and the sooner he got it over with, the better. He turned towards Carter.
Tosce squeaked, "You're not going to you-know in public, are you? There are children in the village. We have cabins..."
He was not going into a dark hut to kiss his 2IC. One little interstellar obscenity incident wouldn't hurt them. At least not as much as he still wanted to. "You should have thought of that before trying your Goa'uld toys out on an alien."
Carter grabbed Jack and kissed him before Tosce could turn away and la-la. It started out as your average awkward aliens-are-forcing-me-to-kiss-my-2IC moment, but then like the attempted murder the kiss compounded itself. Jack actually saw fireworks.
T plus 165 minutes
"O'Neill." Jack thought he heard Teal'c say something. He ignored it. "The chain detached itself some time ago."
Teal'c had a big Jaffa hand on Jack's arm, and was trying to separate him from--
Jack jumped back. "Carter!"
"I was unaware that the Tauri could go without breathing for so long."
Carter poked at the chain with the toe of her boot.
"Where's Lover-boy?" Jack asked.
"He fled when you became...distracted."
Carter bent down to examine the chain.
"Get away from that thing!"
"Sir, the chain puts out more energy than it takes in. It could be the greatest scientific discovery the SGC has made---a veritable perpetual motion ma--"
"Let me guess; you want to take it back with us." She nodded. "That's a negative, Major. It's a religious artifact. Tosce needs it." And the SGC didn't need it lying around, slipping itself onto unsuspecting arms. "Why don't you go report in, and Teal'c and I will smooth things over with the natives. And Carter?"
"When the general asks what happened, be vague. Be very, very vague. That's an order."
"Yes, sir." With a last, longing look at the inert chain, she headed for the stargate.
T plus 171 minutes
Jack waited until she was out of earshot before speaking. "Say, T..."
"Does the whole chain-thing mean we're married now?"
Teal'c shrugged. "Perhaps you should ask Captain Matheson."
They could find naqahdah somewhere else. Someplace safe, with angry Jaffa chasing them and death gliders strafing them.