Summary: The Munchkins are on their first official mission with their parents tagging along. Naturally, things don't quite go as planned.
Author Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Feedback welcome)
Author Website: http://orrymain.com
Category: Slash, Action/Adventure, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - December 27-29, 2012
Spoilers: The Nox, Thor's Hammer, Thor's Chariot, A Matter of Time, The First Ones
Written: June 3-12,16-17, 2016
Summary: The Munchkins are on their first official mission with their parents tagging along. Naturally, things don't quite go as planned.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically. Their "silent" words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
Jack and Daniel walked into the control room at Cheyenne Mountain where an unknown technician was at the operations post.
"Where's Walter?" Jack asked about Chief Master Sergeant Walter Davis.
"I'm not sure, Sir," one of the technicians responded.
"Find him," Jack ordered.
"Actually, General, General Landry has him working on an assignment," Sergeant Matt Cpecnak explained as he entered the area.
"Find him," Jack repeated.
"But General Landry ..."
Jack stepped into the sergeant's personal space and glared as he pointed out, "See these stars?"
"Uh, Jack ..." Daniel interrupted, motioning to his Love's shoulder.
For a moment, Jack forgot he was wearing his green BDUs. He let out a groan before continuing.
"Pretend you see the stars," Jack ordered. "How many do you have?"
The sergeant maintained his ground, having never run across Jack before. He definitely knew who Jack and Daniel were, but he simply had not worked with or near them.
"Sergeant, I have two. Two. T-W-O. Two. Get my drift, unless you'd rather be an airman again, assigned to a fleabag post I know." With his best, most fiercest stern glare, he mouthed, "Get him."
"Yes, Sir, right away, Sir," the sergeant responded, snapping to attention and saluting before practically running out of the control room in fear.
"Daniel, these are our kids we're talking about. I want someone I know controlling that thing."
"You know that, uh ..." Daniel glanced at the still unknown man at the controls and sighed. He looked at his husband and smiled. "You're right."
Sam walked in and automatically took a look down at the Stargate. She chuckled at what she saw.
"What's so funny, Carter?" Jack asked.
"They're so cute."
Jack and Daniel walked over, each standing to one side of their friend. The trio smiled at what they were witnessing.
In the gate room, General Jonny ordered two SFs to do a mini-parade, walking across the area as if it were at the Air Force Academy grounds. Unlike Cpecnak, the SFs knew exactly the power of Jack and Daniel Jackson-O'Neill, having heard stories of transfers out of SGC due to the failure to adhere to orders by the pint-sized O'Neill. Obedient to the letter, the two SFs did as ordered and were happy as clams when General Jonny dismissed them.
"Jonny, you shouldn't do that," Aislinn told her brother.
"Because you're not really a general. You're not even an airman."
"I will be."
"But you're not now."
"They don't know that," Jonny insisted.
"Little Danny, tell him," Aislinn requested of the middle Munchkin.
"He knows, Ash," Little Danny returned. "He just likes to pretend."
"I am not pretending."
"Yes, you are," Little Danny insisted strongly.
"Na-huh," Jonny maintained.
"Uh-huh," Little Danny put forth with the bob of his head.
"I'm glad their new uniforms fit," Sam mused since she had been charged by General Hammiond of having the attire made, a necessity caused by the children having grown taller since the last time they'd worn BDUs.
"They keep growing," Daniel sighed.
"Yeah, how do we stop that?" Jack asked with a straight face.
"General O'Neill," Davis called out as soon as he caught a glimpse of Jack.
"Walter!" a smiling Jack called out. He walked over and put his arm around the man's shoulder. As he slowly nudged Davis to the operations area, he said, "You know what's about to happen?"
"Who's that?" Jack asked, unabashedly putting his hand on the seated man's shoulder.
"I don't know Dumbrosky, but I know you," Jack stated ardently as he stared at Davis. "Understand?"
"I'll be right here, General," Davis stated while staring at the controls.
"I'll remain here until you, Doctor Jackson, and the children return."
"Right here," Jack stated as he poked Dumbrosky and motioned for him to stand down from his post. "Here, Walter."
"Yes, Sir," Walter acknowledged as he sat down.
"I ran a full system's check this morning, Sir. Everything's fine."
Jack stared at his 2IC and sighed, "Why do I have a funny feeling?"
"Maybe it's that onion and garlic stew you had for breakfast," Sam joked, having eaten with the Jackson-O'Neills that morning before reporting to Stargate Command.
"There's nothing wrong with my onion and garlic stew," Jack responded defensively.
Suddenly, three voices were heard, causing Jack to refocus on the gate room below. As he looked down, he saw the six-year-old triplets jumping up and down, waving, and shouting up at them.
Leaning over and opening the mic, Jack asked, "What?"
"Is it go time yet?" Jonny asked eagerly.
"Wanna go!" Little Danny added.
"Me, too!" Aislinn added.
Jack paused as he stared at the happy youngsters.
"Jack?" Daniel called out.
"Do they mean go as in let's go, or do they mean go as in ... you know, go?"
Daniel rolled his eyes and leaned over to respond over the tannoy.
Jack was certain that Daniel was going to tell the kids they'd be leaving any minute.
"Tracey," Daniel called out, referring to Tracey O'Connor who was assigned to Munchkin duty at the moment. "Would you make sure the children visit the restroom, please."
"Daddy, we don't mean go go," Jonny groaned.
"Go!" Daniel ordered, releasing the microphone and standing up straight.
"Coward," Jack teased.
"It's been a while since they've ... gone, and they're excited."
"What you really mean is that there aren't any gas stations on the Nox home world," Jack retorted.
"We're not babies, Tracey," Aislinn sighed as she walked with Tracey and her brothers to the nearest facility.
"Your parents know that, but better safe than sorry. You sure don't want to get the urge when you visit the Nox."
"Have you met them, Tracey?"
"Actually, I've never been through the Stargate."
All three children gasped in disbelief.
"Do you want to go?" Little Danny asked.
"I'd love to, but that's not my job here," Tracey told them. "I've heard the Nox are very nice."
"They are," Aislinn affirmed. "Oh, now I do have to go!"
Tracey chuckled as the children all proceeded to take care of business.
"Thirteen hundred hours," Jack told Walter about the family's scheduled return time. He started to follow Daniel out of the control room when he paused and turned back. "Walter ..."
"Noted," Walter responded after which both Jackson-O'Neills made their way to the gate room. He made a note and then began to engage the Stargate. "Fred?"
The technician walked over to where Davis was seated and replied, "Yeah?"
"Tell Siler he owes me ten bucks."
Fred laughed and asked, "Why?"
"I said General O'Neill would insist on me operating the Stargate for this mission. Siler bet me he wouldn't."
"Even I wouldn't have taken that bet," Fred laughed as he returned to his post.
"You're smarter than Siler," Davis mused, adding, "but don't tell him I said that."
Just as Davis was about to begin the dialing sequence, Landry walked in and went over to the window.
"Allow me," Landry spoke, smiling as Walter leaned back from the mic.
The major general was on duty at Stargate Command on this day as General Hammond had been called to a meeting that he could not get out of. With Hammond's retirement on the horizon, Landry had already been assigned as his replacement when the time came.
Surprised to hear Landry's voice because they thought he was busy, the triplets instantly looked up at the big window. All three stood at attention with their parents standing behind them.
"Good luck and give the Nox greetings from Stargate Command," Landry called out. He smiled down at Jack and Daniel, who were loving the attention their children were receiving. "Walter."
Within seconds, Davis began the dialing sequence, the Gate turning as reliably as ever.
"I love this," Little Danny declared with a grin.
The three children were now standing at the center of the ramp to get the best view of the Stargate. They stood way back, though, and were safely out of range of the upcoming kawoosh. Their parents stood on each side of them, Jack on their left and Daniel on their right. Behind them was the Mobile Analytic Laboratory Probe, better known as a MALP. Though not necessarily needed for this mission, it was being sent through mostly to make the children feel like they really were on a mission.
"Kids, remember ..."
The single name reminder by his husband was all the general needed. The kids had been briefed and tested on all the rules backwards and forwards. Besides, this wasn't their first trip off-world. However, it was the first time they were on a real mission where they had a specific assignment, even if said mission was as short and safe as it was certain to be.
The trip was actually a Christmas present from their grandfather, General Hammond. With Jack and Daniel's permission, he'd made a big deal out of the Air Force recruiting the Munchkins for a special mission to the Nox home world. In theory, with the upcoming retirement of their parents, the kids weren't sure if they'd be allowed to go through the Stargate again, so their excitement was huge.
"Chevron six, encoded."
Little Danny walked over to stand beside his younger father. He put his hand in Daniel's and leaned closed.
"Are you okay?" Daniel asked his namesake.
"It's exciting, Daddy. There's so much to learn," the boy answered in awe, his eyes never off the Stargate, even as he leaned closer to Daniel.
"Yes, there is, Son," Daniel affirmed, squeezing Little Danny's hand securely.
"Chevron seven, locked," Davis announced.
"Here it comes, Daddy."
The Munchkins were grinning widely as they watched the power of the Stargate blast in front of them.
"Wow!" Jonny exclaimed, jumping up and down three times.
"It's like a beautiful picture," Aislinn opined about the watery-like substance she saw in the big ring.
Little Danny left Daniel to stand with his fellow Munchkins.
Landry was about to give the order for SG-Munchkins to proceed when another officer entered the control room, calling out Walter's name.
Landry and Davis both smiled as the man took over the tannoy and announced, "SG-Munchkins, you have a go to the Nox home world. God speed."
"Grandpa!" the children shouted, not having any idea at all their grandfather would be at SGC for their special mission.
Hammond waved and smiled at the kids.
"I thought you had a meeting with Homeworld Security," Landry stated.
"I'm retiring, Hank. If HS wants me, they know where to find me," Hammond replied while still smiling at his grandkids. Then he countered, "I thought you had a meeting with the Brass."
"This is my full time gig in another month, George. I'm the only one of my rank prepped for the Stargate Program." He mused, "They know where to find me, too."
"Okay, kids, move out," Jack ordered as he headed up the ramp and walked through the Gate.
"Daddy?" Aislinn exclaimed in question as she ran over and tried to hop up onto the object. "Thank you," she said to Sergeant Siler, who had just entered the gate room and aided the little girl in achieving her upward climb.
Daniel laughed and nodded his permission. He made sure his precious cargo was secure and then joined his soulmate.
Jack was surprised to see his husband arriving on the Nox planet before their children.
"Daniel, did you forget something?"
"Not exactly," Daniel answered as he turned back to await the arrival of the Munchkins.
Jack looked at the Stargate in anticipation and then chuckled when he saw the kids coming through the Gate on the MALP, sitting on it as if it were a ride at an amusement park. He was about to say something, when the Jonny spoke up.
"Munchkins, time to go to work. No more play," the oldest triplet stated.
"Jonny's right, Ash. We don't want to let Grandpa down."
"Ready," the girl responded as she climbed down off the MALP, pleased when she felt her older father's hands take hold and lift her to the safety of the ground.
When his siblings were at his side, Jonny looked at his parents, saluted, and announced, "Team Munchkin reporting for duty, Sirs."
**Help me, Danny.**
**You're the general,** Daniel responded, his head down and now standing at a side angle so the children wouldn't see him in case he couldn't hold his laugh in.
Jack returned the salute and ordered, "Proceed. The mission is yours."
"Move out!" the little general ordered. "I'll take point."
Jonny started to walk when Little Danny ran up to him and tugged him on the arm while pointing out, "Jonny, it's that way!"
The Munchkin leader looked around and asked, "Are you sure?"
"I'm sure," Little Danny responded.
"Oops," Jonny giggled as he altered his direct. "Shoulda checked my compass."
With that, the Munchkins were off, each of them holding compasses given to them in 2009 when Jonny and Little Danny had gotten lost while on a visit to the ranch owned by Sara Wilson's father, Mike.
**This is going to be fun,** Jack communicated to his Love.
**It already is.**
The Jackson-O'Neills had walked a little over a half mile when they saw familiar faces ahead.
"Lya!" Little Danny called out before running full steam to his favorite Nox alien. He put his arms around her and said, "I missed you."
"Little Danny, hello," the Nox woman greeted tenderly. She looked down on him and added, "I have missed you, too." Looking up, she smiled at the children and said, "Munchkins, you are most welcome."
Jonny and Aislinn stopped walking and then Jonny snapped to, saluted, and announced, "SG-Munchkins happy to see the Nox again." There was a pause and then the boy, his hand still at salute status, asked his older father, "Dad, what I do? Lya's not military."
"You're paying your respects, Son. Once you're acknowledged, let it down," Jack advised.
With a smile, Jonny looked back at Lya and smiled.
"I acknowledge you, Jonny," Lya spoke, a twinkle in her eye.
"Hi, Lya!" Jonny responded as he now stood at ease.
"You're so pretty, Lya," Aislinn spoke.
"As are you, Ash," Lya praised. "Hello," she said as she smiled at Jack and Daniel.
"Hello," Daniel greeted lightly. "Thank you for allowing us to visit your world again."
"Your family is always welcome, Daniel," Lya responded. "Come. The others are waiting."
"We're on a mission," Jonny told the woman.
"Yes, I know."
"We hafta to ask lots of questions. Is that okay, Lya?"
"Questions are how we learn," the woman replied.
"I thought we learned from the answers," Jonny opined.
"Answers are helpful, but it's the questions you ask that are more important."
"How come?" Jonny inquired curiously.
"Answers do not always help you. Sometimes, they merely confuse, but if you have questions, then you can have more to learn."
"Oh," the boy responded. He whispered into Little Danny's ear, "What does she mean?"
"Curiosity is good," Little Danny responded.
"Oh," Jonny said again. ~I'll ask Dad later.~
Jack and Daniel were pleased to be on the Nox world again. They really weren't sure how many more visits they'd be able to make. They weren't thinking of it as their last trip, and with their retirement only a month away, who knew if they would have a chance to visit the Nox again.
**I love this place, Jack.**
**Me, too, Danny.**
"Wow!" Jonny exclaimed when the group reached the equivalent of a Earthly camping site with primitive building structures. He'd been there before so it wasn't the physicality of the place, a place he knew was where Lya and her family lived much of the time; rather, it was the young children that caused the reaction. "I've never seen little Nox before."
"Are you ready, Ash?" Little Danny asked.
Aislinn pulled out her notebook and a recording device given to her by Sam before embarking off-world.
Jonny looked at Lya and queried, "SG-Munchkins would like permission to speak with little Nox."
"Permission granted," Lya stated. "They've been waiting for you."
With big smiles, the triplets began to mingle with the Nox children. They wanted to start by saying hello before jumping right into their mission, and that's exactly what they did.
"Thank you for doing this, Lya," Daniel spoke as the adults kept watch over the children.
"It was time for these young to meet the Tau'ri. They have heard many stories," Lya advised.
"I'm afraid to ask," Jack began, "but how old are the little dickens?"
"Dickens?" the woman asked. "I do not know that word."
"Jack doesn't always remember to utilize the English language properly when we're off-world," Daniel spoke as a manner of apology.
"How old are they?" Jack asked more simply.
"In your years," Lya paused as she did the calculation in her mind, "about thirty years old."
"That young," Jack sighed, shaking his head at the news.e "Speaking of the young, where's that kid of yours?"
"He will be here soon. He does not like to miss your visits," Lya spoke of Nafrayu.
Several minutes later, SG-Munckins regrouped. They huddled together for a minute and then Jonny walked to a spot where he was going to make his speech.
"No, Jonny, over there," Little Danny encouraged, pointing to a spot that was completely in the middle of the Nox. "We want to be part of them."
"Okay," Jonny agreed. When the trio were in place, the team leader called out, "Hi, little Nox. We're SG-Munchkins. I'm Jonny."
"And I'm Little Danny. That's our Daddy and Dad," the middle Munchkin announced, pointing over at Jack and Daniel.
"My name is Aislinn, but my friends call me Ash. You're my friends, so you can call Ash."
"We're from Earth and my gran..." Jonny stopped himself from being so informal and corrected his words. "... our leader, General Hammond, asked us to come say hi and learn about the little Nox."
"We're little, so that's our *grandpa*, he's the leader, General Hammond, but he's our grandpa, too," Little Danny stated proudly.
"Little Danny," Jonny grumbled.
"Little Danny is right," Aislinn stated firmly, much to the chagrin of the self-appointed SG-Munchkin team leader. "We just want to be friends and Grandpa wants to know more about the Nox and their children."
"So who better to find out than us, 'cause we're kids, too," Little Danny pointed out with a smile.
"If it's okay with you, we wanna talk with you and ask you a few questions," Jonny told the assembled young of the Nox.
"We're going to be right here," Little Danny said, sitting down. "We only want you to talk to us if you want to, so if you want to, you come here."
"Only one at a time, though, because I can't write that fast and I have to take notes," Aislinn confided to the group as she sat down. "Oh!" She jumped back up and showed the group the recording device. "Aunt Sam, she's a colonel and part of SG-1 with Dad and Daddy, she gave me this," she held up the recorder, "to record what you say."
Little Danny called out, "Lya, is that okay? We're afraid we won't remember everything and Ash might cramp her hand trying to write down everything."
Lya chuckled quietly and nodded her head while saying, "Yes, you may use your recorder."
"Lya, are you sure you're okay with that?" Daniel questioned. "I mean, we don't know what the children might say."
"Only the Munchkins will be able to hear the recording. The Nox trust the Munchkins to use their best judgement on what to share."
"That's a lot of trust," Jack responded, a bit surprised, not only about the technology, but that Lya would put so much trust on earthling children. "In full disclosure, you do know that our kids are six. I'm not sure what that is in Nox years ... babies?"
"Do you not trust your children?"
"We do," Jack avowed.
Lya nodded and walked forward to be closer to the children. She wasn't doing so to eavesdrop or censor their comments. Instead, she wanted to make sure the Nox children felt safe with the Tau'ri and to encourage them to speak with the Munchkins.
Twenty-five minutes later, Little Danny stood and ran over to Lya to ask her an important question. The Nox woman, having ensured the children felt safe with the kids from Earth, was again chatting with Jack and Daniel.
"Lya, I want to ask some of the little Nox about your cloud city and what it's like there, but I don't know if I should or not. I know it's a secret place, and I don't want to get any of them in trouble, and I don't want you to be upset with me, if I ask them. We just wanna learn, but only if it's okay. Is it okay, Lya?"
With a smile, Lya looked at Daniel and opined, "He is most like you."
"Yeah," Daniel acknowledged. **Don't say it, Jack.**
**What? That you both can talk the ears off a parrot?** Jack teased.
**Something like that,** Daniel admitted with an upturn of his lips.
"The Nox keep our city secret to protect ourselves from enemies. Are you our enemy?"
"Oh, no!" Little Danny responded emphatically, shaking his head. "Then you may ask what you wish. I cannot say what they will say, but you may ask."
"Thanks, Lya," the boy responded before turning and running back to his siblings.
"Are you sure about that?" Jack questioned. "Look, this is fun for them, but whatever they report back to SGC goes in the record. You need to know that."
"Our children will say what they feel is right. Your Munchkins are learning by visiting the Nox, yes? Our children are learning, too."
"But what if they say something you don't want them to say?" Daniel queried, genuinely concerned about the issue.
"They will not."
"But if they do?" Jack prodded.
"It will be fine, General O'Neill. Remember, the Tau'ri are ..."
Jack held out his hands toward the woman as he stepped back and pleaded, "Please don't say it. I can't handle that too young thing again."
Lya smiled and replied, "You need not worry about the Nox. We have told you that many times. We have our ways." She looked over at a new arrival. "There is Nafrayu."
As Lya walked away to meet the youth, Jack asked, "What do you think she meant by that?"
"That we're still too young and we still don't half of who the Nox are," Daniel sighed with regret.
"What if one of those kids mouths off and says something they shouldn't?"
"I don't think they will, and if they do, somehow, I don't think it will end up on the tape. I also think if they say something our children aren't sure about, it won't make it into the report."
Jack nodded his agreement and turned his attention back to the triplets, who seemed to be having a great time.
"Jack," Daniel prompted, motioning over to Lya and Nafrayu.
Seeing Lya waving him over, Jack responded, "Play time."
"Have fun," Daniel expressed, amused by his estimation of what would happen next. ~Another game of hide and seek. My poor husband, he never has a chance, not when Nafrayu can disappear.~
Ninety minutes later, Jonny stood up and called out, "Little Nox, listen up." He waited for the sounds of chatter and play to cease. "SG-Munchkins thank you very much for helping us. We learned a lot. You're our friends. We have to go now, but we hope you'll let us come back and play sometime."
"We love to play," Aislinn added as she put away her recorder and notebook.
"Thank you!" Little Danny exclaimed as he began to walk toward his parents, waving at the Nox children as he spoke.
"Thanks!" both Jonny and Aislinn called out enthusiastically as they followed their brother.
When the Munchkins reached Lya and their parents, Jonny snapped to attention, saluted again, and said, "On behalf of Earth, SG-Munchkins say thank you to the Nox for letting us come here." Not expecting a return salute this time, Jonny lowered his hand. Then has asked, "Lya, can we come back and play with the little Nox sometime?"
"Yes, that would be agreeable."
"Yes!" Jonny exclaimed with a fist pump. "That means I'm happy."
"Can we go say goodbye, as kids and not an SG-team?" Little Danny requested excitedly.
"Yes," Lya answered, watching the triplets return to the Nox children to say more informal good-byes. She turned to Jack and Daniel. "The children must get back to the city now, so I must go."
"Lya," Daniel began a bit emotionally. "With Jack and I retiring ..."
"We will meet again, Daniel," Lya assured with an air of confidence.
"I hope so."
"It will be so," Lya insisted, smiling and walking away.
"She sounds sure," Daniel noted quietly to his husband.
"Maybe she knows something we don't."
"Maybe," Daniel acknowledged, "but, uh, still."
"Yeah," Jack agreed. "Kids, let's go. Walter gets cranky if we aren't home when we say we will be."
The triplets couldn't stop chattering about their visit all the way to the Stargate. They were happy and felt like they'd completed their mission. All three were eager to review their notes and write their report that would be delivered to General Hammond.
Once the family reached the Gate, Daniel walked over to the DHD and entered in the address that would take the family home. He glanced over at his children and noticed his namesake was watching him closely. Daniel smiled as he entered the last part of the address. The kawoosh thundered.
"Go ahead, kids," Jack ordered, following the children's movements closely. When he felt Daniel at his side again, he turned back toward the interior of the Nox planet. He knew Daniel had done the same. "Wish we knew the Nox better."
"I get the sense we only know the basics about them."
"And that's why they've survived longer than we can imagine." Taking a final look, Jack suggested, "Let's go home, Danny."
Jack turned back to the Stargate and walked right up to the event horizon. He waited for his husband, though, before proceeding.
Daniel drew one last breath in wonderment of the Nox home world, looked around one more time, and then joined his husband as they walked through the Gate together and returned to Earth.
As the event horizon closed behind them, Jack and Daniel walked down the ramp and looked around. They saw Sam standing there, waiting. They both noted her wide eyes and shocked expression. It made the couple very uneasy and caused them to scan every section of the embarkation room.
"Carter, where are my kids?" Jack inquired with a strained voice.
"Sir, they, uh ... I don't know. Weren't they with you?" Sam replied hesitantly and with a huge gulp.
"Sam?" Daniel asked pointedly.
"Carter, my kids, where are they?"
"You're the only ones who walked through the Gate. I've been here the whole time. The Munchkins didn't come through."
"They were ahead of us, Sam," Daniel advised in a combination of urgency and fear. "They went through maybe a minute before we did."
"We saw them," Jack noted angrily. "Carter, did you do something crazy with that computer again?"
"Jack, calm down."
"Daniel, she lost our kids."
"No, she didn't," Daniel spoke as he tried to soothe his husband. "Sam, what could have happened? Where are they?"
Shaking her head, Sam didn't have a response.
At that moment, SG-25 walked in, preparing to embark on their scheduled mission.
"No!" Sam called out. She turned and shouted up to the control room. "Sergeant Davis?"
"Ma'am?" Davis asked over the microphone.
"Don't do anything with the systems. Do *not* dial the Gate. Get General Hammond," Sam ordered.
"Colonel, we have to get to PRK-921, and we have to get there now," the team leader stated defiantly.
"I'm sorry, Colonel," Sam addressed the team leader. "For now, you're grounded. The Gate is closed until I can run a complete systems check."
"I thought you did that," Jack interjected sarcastically.
"I did, Sir, but I need to do it again," Sam advised before hurrying up to the control room.
"Lives are at stake," SG-25's colonel told Jack.
"Oh yeah, you got that right," Jack barked as he stomped out of the gate room.
Daniel looked back at the still Stargate and sighed. His heart was aching for his children.
~Gawd, I hope this isn't like what happened to Teal'c, or what happened to Jack and Sam, or ...~
"Daniel, coming?" Jack snapped, having returned to gate room upon realizing his husband was still there.
With a nod, Daniel walked pass SG-25 and prayed for his children's safety.
A trio of smiling Munchkins emerged from the Stargate, expecting to walk down a ramp and see their Aunt Sam and maybe even their grandfather waiting to greet them. They were feeling proud of themselves and happy after completing their mission.
None of the kids said anything at first. They all just stared and looked around their surroundings.
"I don't think we're at the Mountain," Aislinn finally spoke, breaking the silence.
"Little Danny, there's the DHD," Jonny pointed out, first with his outstretched arm and then by running up to it. "You can dial us home."
Little Danny was curious and ran up to the DHD. It looked like other dial home devices he'd seen. It was roughly a yard wide and over two yards deep. He saw the symbols, but didn't recognize many of them, if any. He did a count and noted there were thirty-eight different glyphs, nineteen on the inner ring and nineteen on the outer ring. At the very center was the large red button that caused the Stargate to activate and dial the inputted address. He wasn't sure, but he thought he remembered Aunt Sam calling the button a hemisphere once. To him, it was simply a big red button.
"Do it, Little Danny. I wanna go home," Aislinn encouraged as calmly as she could.
"I can't," the middle Munchkin responded.
"Why not?" Jonny asked.
"Daddy never taught me how."
"You push those thingies," Aislinn reminded as she pointed at the glyphs.
"You have to push the right ones," Little Danny refuted. "I know there's seven of them, and that one is Earth, at least on the Stargate, but I don't know the rest of it."
"Daddy didn't teach you?" Jonny asked incredulously.
Shaking his head, Little Danny challenged, "Did Dad teach you?"
"Dad says Daddy and Aunt Sam always dialed home." Jonny added confidently, "You can figure it out."
Little Danny looked at his brother in disbelief and responded, "Jonny, you have to know which ones to press or we could end up anywhere, or nowhere."
"Nowhere?" Jonny asked with a gulp.
Little Danny nodded his head.
"What we gonna do?" Aislinn asked, suddenly frightened more than she'd been in a very long time.
Immediately, Jonny hugged his sister and promised, "It's gonna be okay, Ash. We're together, and we're the Munchkins."
Little Danny joined the hug and agreed, "We have Munchkin power. No one else has that."
As the hug ended, Aislinn bobbed her head up and down as her fear fled, though she repeated, "What are we going to do now?"
"We wait for Dad and Daddy. They'll find us," Jonny declared with certainty.
The triplets walked over to the Stargate. It was out in the open, nothing but green meadow around them. There was a cement-like substance beneath the Gate and in front of it, with three steps leading down to the meadow. The Munchkins went to the top step and sat down.
The children looked out with the Gate behind them.
"Dad says there were mostly always trees by the Stargate," Aislinn noted as she observed plenty of trees to both their right and the left.
"Why aren't there trees in front of us?" Jonny wondered.
"Maybe it means that's the way people should go," Little Danny theorized about the treeless patch in front of the Stargate.
"Like a path?" Aislinn asked, seeing her genius brother nod. "There's no road, though."
"Maybe they don't like roads."
"They built this," Aislinn stated about the steps.
"We don't know who built the steps," Little Danny pointed out.
All of a sudden, Jonny stood up and walked down the steps. He stared over the long meadow and beyond. Then he turned and faced his siblings.
"We're SG-Munchkins and we're on a mission. We can't just sit here and wait. We hafta explore, like Dad and Daddy."
"But what if they come for us?" Aislinn answered.
Jonny wrinkled his face as he thought hard and then he let out with a giant grin as he answered, "We'll leave them a note."
Little Danny smiled as he pulled off his backpack and pulled out a paper and pencil. He wrote the note that told his parents where the Munchkins were headed.
"Jonny," Little Danny stated expectantly.
"Ooooh," the oldest of the triplets acknowledged, taking off his backpack and pulling out a roll of duct tape and some scissors. "We'll tape it to the DHD."
"Okay," Little Danny acknowledged.
With their note attached to the dial home device, the Munchkins started walking through the meadow, curious as to what they might find when the meadow ended.
"Carter?" Jack prodded with an edge in his voice as he stood in the briefing room with his husband at his side.
"I'm sorry, Sir. I don't know what happened."
"They're not ... stuck, like Teal'c was?" Daniel inquired vulnerably.
"No. That's the first thing I looked for," Sam answered. "I've tested the system thoroughly."
"Something happened because my kids aren't here," Jack shouted.
"Jack, she's doing everything she can. She loves the Munchkins, remember?"
"It's okay, Daniel," Sam interjected calmly. "I'm going to run some alternative tests and look for redundancies in other areas. I'm triple checking the software. I'll let you know what I find out."
As Sam exited, Daniel walked over to the huge window that overlooked the twenty-seventh level of Cheyenne Mountain. He felt Jack standing next to him.
"I didn't mean to blow up at her," Jack admitted.
"You're scared, Jack, just like I am. Sam's scared, too."
"Who else do I yell at?"
"What do you suggest we do, Danny?"
Daniel turned to face his lover and answered, "We find our children and we bring them home."
The archaeologist headed for the door.
"Where are you going?" Jack inquired.
"To help Sam."
~Like we can help Carter,~ Jack groaned. "Hey!" he called out, sprinting after his Love. "Wait for me."
"Take ten," Jonny ordered. "I'll take the watch."
Every now and then, like right now, the Munchkins took a break, sitting down and resting, though one of them was always assigned to watch the perimeter, even while resting. Each of them had one bottle of water in their backpacks, but none of the bottles were more than half full since the children had been drinking out of them ever since arriving on the Nox world. Jonny also had a baggie full of Froot Loops to snack on at the start of the day, while Little Danny had a chocolate candy bar and Aislinn some gummy bears.
Ten minutes later, the little general ordered, "Move out."
Obediently, Little Danny and Aislinn put their water and snacks away and joined their brother. The triplets were determined to explore the planet they were on and see what they could learn about it.
"Jonny, look," Little Danny called out about a change in scenery.
The children hurried forward. The meadow was ending with mountain peaks off in the distance. There was a banking not far ahead where they could look down and see more of what was actually around them.
"Careful!" Jonny warned. "Down," he instructed as he himself plopped down to the ground and then began to crawl forward.
"Why are we crawling?" Aislinn asked.
"Because we don't know what's out there, or who," Jonny answered ominously.
When they reached the edge of the bank, the Munchkins looked down and gasped.
"Little Danny, what's that?" Jonny questioned.
"They're moving so slow," Aislinn observed. "It's like when Dad plays with the remote and makes Homer move in small steps."
"Ut oh," the small genius expressed nervously. He stood up and stared up at the unique square clouds in the sky. He made a half turn and focused on the square clouds behind them. Then he turned back and tried to see the wind. "Ut oh," he said again.
"Little Danny, what is it?" Aislinn asked as she stood up, too.
"I watched a TV show at Aunt Sam's and then I read about it and I asked her about it, too. Ut oh."
"Stop ut-oh'ing, Little Danny, and tell us why you're ut-ohing," Jonny demanded as he, too, rose from the ground.
Pointing behind where they were standing, Little Danny noted, "See how those clouds move in the middle, like a wave."
"They're all doing that," Jonny responded.
Little Danny turned and pointed at the clouds that covered the valley where the people were and said, "Those clouds are barely waving, just like the people are barely moving."
"So?" Aislinn asked.
"I think there's a black hole around here somewhere. They're trying to escape, but the black hole is sucking them in."
"Huh?" Jonny asked in confusion.
"Jonny, we hafta get out of here now. Run!" Little Danny reached out to pull Aislinn along. He looked over to make sure Jonny was running, too. "Hurry!" he encouraged.
"Why are we running?" Aislinn asked.
"So we don't get sucked up by the black hole, too," Jonny answered for his brother. "Now I 'member Aunt Sam telling me about black holes, too."
Halfway through the meadow, the Munchkins paused, putting their hands on their knees to catch their breaths. They'd been running full speed for several minutes and needed to stop, if only for a few seconds.
"Ut oh," Little Danny said again.
Jonny and Aislinn focused on the sky and saw clouds that had been waving naturally were now slowing down.
"I don't see any black hole," Aislinn stated while looking up at the sky.
"And you don't want to, Ash," Little Danny responded. "It's a bad thing."
"I don't understand," Aislinn sighed.
"It's Aunt Sam's science," Little Danny replied. "It has to do with stars that die and collapse and gravity. I didn't listen to that part," he admitted.
"Me, either," Jonny confided. Quickly, he added, "But if the dead star makes a black hole then anything too close to it gets sucked in and once it's in, it can't get out."
"Not ever?" Aislinn inquired.
"Never ever," Jonny answered with a solemn nodding of his head.
"We need to go," Little Danny suggested urgently as he looked back and saw so much stillness in nature that it looked like a painting rather than the true outdoors.
"Hurry!" Jonny urged, pushing Aislinn onward and pulling on Little Danny's hand to get him running too.
The triplets moved as fast as their little feet would carry them. Finally, they made it back to the Stargate.
"Now, what? Little Danny doesn't know the address for Earth," Aislinn spoke with a whiff since she was out of breath from running so hard.
"It's okay, Ash, Little Danny will think of something," Jonny averred as he stared as his brother.
His eyes glued to the DHD, Little Danny pushed a button and then another.
"Jonny, help me!"
"What you need?"
"I can't reach the glyphs up there. I'm not tall enough," Little Danny responded.
Jonny jumped up onto the DHD and said, "Tell me what to push."
"Which one is that one?" Jonny asked anxiously.
"Outer ring; looks like a Y with a triangle on both sides."
"Got it," Jonny said, pushing the glyph.
Little Danny pushed two more and then told Jonny to press another glyph at the top of the DVD.
"Help me press the red button," Little Danny requested as he leaned over as far as he could and pushed against the large circle.
Little Danny heard the kawoosh thundering and saw the event horizon form. He looked over his shoulder at the still trees that once rustled from the wind. Everything within him was screaming that time was short.
"Go!" Little Danny ordered.
The triplets ran up the steps and stopped short of the water-like substance.
"Little Danny, go!" Jonny ordered.
"I think ..." Little Danny began, suddenly finding himself pushed through the Stargate.
Jonny made sure Aislinn was ahead of him and only then did he follow his siblings through the event horizon.
At Stargate Command, all on duty teams were standing in the gate room. They were geared up and waiting for orders. Few of them were aware of what was happening. General Hammond stood at the foot of the ramp.
"Beginning with SG-2, each team will travel to your assigned planet and do a thorough search for Jonny, Little Danny, and Aislinn Jackson-O'Neill," Hammond advised.
At that moment, pictures of the three children in their BDU outfits that were taken earlier in the day were distributed to every team member.
Hammond continued, "The children were on a mission to the Nox home world. Upon completing their mission, they walked through the Stargate, but they did not arrive here."
Many looks were being passed among the SGC personnel, some caring, some neutral, and some unhappy that they were having to hunt for kids of a same-sex married couple.
"Your mission is to find my grandchildren as quickly as possible," the SGC commander spoke, his words penetrating and confusing the minds of those personnel who weren't aware that Hammond considered the Munchkins to be his grandchildren. Some were perplexed at how it was possible while others knew the story and understood. "All other missions are postponed unless otherwise notified."
Hammond walked out, leaving Jack and Daniel at the ramp of the Stargate.
"These are my kids, and I'm not retired yet. *Find* my children," Jack ordered as he traced Hammond's footsteps out of the gate room.
Daniel stared at the assemblage and added, "Sam doesn't understand how this happened. There's still so much we don't know about the Stargate and what's out there. I know some of you don't think much of me, but we're talking about three six-year-old children who are out there, somewhere, alone. We appreciate your help. Thank you."
The archaeologist's words served to unite the SG-teams, even the ones who were critical of their orders. It was Daniel's mention of the children's ages and being out in the universe alone. Those words cut through the animosity for the majority of the SG team personnel.
"SG-2, you have a go to the Land of Light," came over the tannoy as the Stargate began to turn.
His arms folded across his chest, Daniel watched the Gate turning.
"We'll find them, Doctor Jackson," Daniel heard.
Daniel turned and saw Major Hugo Romaine, a temporary member of SG-3 who was not a fan of his or Jack's. The Marine had been chastised more than once for his negativity toward what he considered to be a homosexual couple that had no business in the military, regardless of what the law now permitted.
"My sister's kids are six. We'll find your kids," Romaine promised.
"Thank you," Daniel spoke graciously before leaving the area.
As the triplets emerged through the Stargate, they were surprised to see a group of people dancing and cheering while upbeat music was played on instruments resembling flutes, banjos, and castanets. As a result, they had no time to process their prior experience on the planet with the black hole.
"Hi, we're SG-Munchkins," Jonny greeted. "I'm Jonny."
"I'm Little Danny."
"And I'm Aislinn, but you can call me Ash."
"We're from Earth," Little Danny stated. "Do you know Earth?"
The happy natives cocked their heads and held a steady look at the children.
"Do you know the Stargate?" Little Danny asked, pointing behind him. Then he took a breath of air as he thought of something. "Do you know this is the Chappa'ai?"
"Chappa'ai," several of the natives affirmed.
"We're Tau'ri," Little Danny added. He heard the murmurs and saw the reactions as natives talked amongst themselves. "Tau'ri just means Earthlings. We're Earthlings, from Earth."
"Earth," a woman echoed as she walked closer to the children.
Little Danny nodded as he pointed at himself and said, "Tau'ri." Then he pointed at the woman and asked, "Who are you?"
"Lavanthia," the woman answered.
"Hi, Lavanthia. I'm Little Danny and that's Ash and that's Jonny," the boy said as he pointed at his siblings.
"Do you have food?" Jonny asked as he heard the grumbling of his stomach. "You know, things you eat," he clarified as he mimed the eating process. He looked at his siblings and whispered, "I only have a few Loops left and my tummy wants a steak or at least a burger."
While Little Danny and Aislinn sighed at Jonny's admission, the people merely laughed until an old native ordered, "Easharia."
Lavanthia told the children, "Evo."
"Huh?" all three children responded.
Lavanthia reached forward, gently pulling on each of the children as she repeated, "Evo."
"I think she means we should go with her," Little Danny stated.
"D'oh!" Jonny responded in full Homer Simpson vogue.
Walking in the middle of his siblings, Jonny reached out and held both Little Danny's and Aislinn's hands. He didn't want to risk them being separated, especially since the natives were dancing all around them, some of them actually reaching out and touching and poking the triplets as they walked.
"I wish they wouldn't do that," Aislinn whispered.
"Maybe it's a ritual," Little Danny suggested.
"But poking hurts," Jonny whined. "Please don't do that," he said to the white-haired woman who had just jabbed him at the side of his head. "Does she understand me?" he asked his brother.
"I don't think so."
"But they knew the Chappa'ai."
"Chappa'ai," several of the natives echoed.
One of the natives pulled at Aislinn, separating her from the boys and causing her to shout, "Jonny, help me!"
A light-skinned male with long black hair held onto the little girl while playing with her long hair.
"Hey!" Jonny shouted as he ran over to his sister. In a Jaffa stance, he ordered, "Let her go!"
"Jonny, be careful," Little Danny warned. "They don't understand us."
Jonny reached over to take Aislinn's hand, but the native male pulled her to him.
"No, you don't," Aislinn declared, trying to push the male's hand off her shoulder. "I don't want you to hold me or touch me. It's not nice."
"Last chance," Jonny warned.
Little Danny looked around, feeling the natives tensing up. He was wary of what might happen if his sister took the male down, which he knew she was about to do. A year-and-a-half ago, Teal'c taught the younger Jackson-O'Neills how to do Chuk'ga, which was similar to karate, but encompassed much more. Since that time, the kids ability to perform the defense maneuvers increased as their training and practice sessions intensified. The children were small, but Little Danny noticed that the natives, while tall, weren't very broad. None of them were big like Teal'c. He was fairly confident that the Munchkins could evade the grabby natives.
~But I wonder how fast they can run,~ Little Danny thought, concerned they wouldn't be able to outrun the taller and long-legged natives.
"Igkno budarah," the native male shouted at Jonny.
"Ick no budda...rahma to you, too. That's my sister, and if you don't let her go, we're gonna take you down."
The male native leered at the sandy-haired boy as he yanked on Aislinn's hair and gripped her shoulder tighter.
"Ouch!" Aislinn exclaimed. "That does it!" she added as she performed an escape maneuver on the male and then ran.
"Let's go!" Jonny ordered Little Danny.
The Munchkins took off at full speed, the natives following.
Little Danny looked back and was relieved that the locals were slow runners, even the ones that looked younger.
"Little Danny, when we reach the Stargate ..."
"I know, dial!" the boy responded. "Ash, help me when we get there."
As they ran, Aislinn fell down, dragging her brothers to the ground with her.
"It's okay, Ash," Little Danny replied as he helped the girl up.
The triplets continued running. They could hear the natives still chasing them, but the sounds were becoming more distant.
"Dial!" Jonny gasped.
"I don't know what to dial. There's no Earth symbol on this one," the scientist in the making revealed.
"Dial something!" Jonny ordered. "I can see them again."
"Hurry, Little Danny," Aislinn urged strongly while she climbed onto the DHD to assist. "They're coming!"
With a shrug, Little Danny hit a few glyphs, had Aislinn press a couple, and then both of them pressed the red crystal in the center of the DHD.
As soon as the kawoosh pushed back, Little Danny helped Aislinn off the DHD and then the triplets held hands and ran through the Gate together.
"Sir," Sam called out to General Hammond, who was seated at his desk.
"Colonel," Hammond responded. "What have you found out?"
"Not much," Sam sighed as she entered the office and stood in front of the general's desk. "I've checked everything I know to check."
"What about what happened when you and General O'Neill were transported to a second Stargate?"
"That's not what happened here. General, every time something that wasn't supposed to happen happened, we've made corrections. Even when I created a workaround to reach K'tau, we learned from that. We've developed safeguards to prevent viruses from attacking the DHD. This has to something new, but I've been unsuccessful at determining what the problem is."
"Keep working on it, Colonel."
"Sir," Sam acknowledged. She paused and asked, "Any word from the SG teams?"
"Twenty have reported back in. There's been no sign of the Munchkins," Hammond sighed. "Many of the teams are preparing to move on to other planets."
Sam nodded and headed for the control room to continue her work.
"They could be anywhere, Jack," Daniel sighed as the two sat on the small cot in his lab where Daniel had slept many nights over the years.
Sitting next to his husband, Jack put his arm around Daniel and pulled him close.
"We'll find them."
"They're alone," Daniel said quietly.
"Danny, that trio of ours aren't your normal kids. They're not afraid, and they have one another."
"Jack, how many times did we go through the Gate and end up almost being killed the minute we got there?"
"Too many, but we always survived, and so will the Munchkins."
"Remember that first time on Abydos?"
"I assume you mean when you bluffed your way onto the team with that little fib of yours," Jack replied.
"It was a lie; we both know that," Daniel sighed. "I wanted so badly to see whatever was out there, to go wherever the Stargate was going to take me. I just needed to be there."
"Yeah, but the Cartouche wasn't in sight and I could have gotten everyone killed."
"Danny ..." Jack began, not wanting his husband to feel guilty about something that happened years earlier.
"All I'm saying is that when I got there and I realized it was going to take longer to find the Cartouche and get us home, I felt so alone and lost. I knew the symbols on Earth, but I didn't know what I'd find on Abydos." Daniel chuckled eerily, "I didn't even know it was Abydos. It didn't have a name. It was only a place we ended up in when we walked through the Gate. Little Danny must feel so lost. They're counting on him, Jack, to find the way home. You know they are."
"If I know my Dannys, our little genius is doing his part. They're a team, a good one, and they'll help each other."
Closing his eyes as dread threatened to overcome him, Daniel begged, "There has to be something we can do."
"Carter's working on the computer angle and Hammond has most of the SG teams investigating. I don't know what else we can do right now."
Daniel enjoyed his lover's protective hold, but then he broke free and stood up. He looked back at Jack, who remained seated.
"Babe, we've missed something, or someone," Daniel put forth.
"Who?" a curious Jack asked as he stood.
"Our allies," Daniel responded. "Jack, the SG teams are going everywhere they can, as fast as they can, but they can't reach everyone. We need to make some contacts."
Understanding, Jack agreed, "Time to get in touch with some of our friends ..."
"... especially the ones with advanced technology ..."
"... call in some favors, and get them looking for the kids, too."
With that, the couple headed toward Hammond's office, moving as briskly as they could. They wanted to meet with Hammond and make a plan to immediately get in contact with allies they believed might be able to aid in the search.
"I don't like this planet," Aislinn stated.
"How come?" Jonny asked.
"I don't know. It makes me feel funny," the girl answered.
"We're going exploring," Jonny insisted while finishing up a note to his parents and leaving it on the DHD.
"I'm hungry, Jonny," Aislinn sighed.
"Don't you have anymore gummy bears?"
"Jonny, those are sugary snacks and I didn't bring that many. I want food, real food," the girl responded.
Jonny knew what his sister meant. He loved his Froot Loops passionately, and while he did have some left, he was desperate for real food, too, just like he'd said on the planet the triplets had just come from.
"We'll find food in the forest," Jonny promised, pointing over to the vast array of trees and shrubbery on the left. "Little Danny, what are you doing?"
"Looking." Little Danny moved forward a few feet and opined, "I think we're being watched."
Jonny looked around and replied, "I don't see anyone, but if they're covert ..."
"Yeah," Little Danny agreed.
The children began walking, but they proceeded slowly. Aislinn couldn't fight the eerie feeling she had and Jonny was in total agreement with his brother that they were being watched. He could feel the eyes on his back. After a while, the boys both became aware of interesting items in their path.
"Jonny," Little Danny called out.
"Little Danny," Jonny said at the same time.
"Hey, look at this," Aislinn spoke, her words said at the same time as her brothers'.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Jonny asked as he stared down at a trowel that was half buried in the dirt.
Nodding, Little Danny responded, "There was a dig here, a big dig, but a long time ago." He picked up the trowel and pointed out, "It's rusted."
Spotting another item, Aislinn ran over to the edge of the forest, picked it up, and shouted, "It's an old bucket."
"An old broken bucket," Little Danny observed more accurately.
"Maybe there are humans here," Jonny surmised hopefully.
Little Danny walked around and kneeled down to the ground, trying to see everything he could.
"What are you looking for?" Aislinn questioned.
"The dig plots, but I can't tell where they were for sure, but they're here," Little Danny stated as he shifted and sat on his knees.
While years had passed, there were remnants of a dig. It was the way the earth was disturbed as well as a few pieces of dirtied rope and decaying pieces of wood along the ground that had the mini-archaeologist's attention.
"So, the trowel is rusted, the bucket is broken, and all this stuff," Little Danny pointed at the rope and wood, "is rotten and falling apart. If they had a dig, it must been a really long time ago."
Getting up, Little Danny nodded his agreement.
"Let's keep exploring. Maybe we'll find a friend," Jonny suggested.
Their curiosity piqued, the trio headed deeper into the planet's forest.
Thirty minutes later, the Munchkins were deep into the forest. They were holding hands as they looked around. Though none of them said anything, they continually had the feeling they were being watched. Then they heard noises, deep, gravelly sounds.
"Take cover," Jonny whispered as the three tried to hide amid several bushes.
Aislinn covered her mouth to keep from screaming at the creature she saw. Her brothers took notice and both looked in their sister's direction.
"It's an Unas," Little Danny observed, running out from the bush.
"Little Danny, what are you doing?" a frustrated Jonny called out. "Ash, stay here."
Jonny immediately ran after his brother, who was now staring straight up at an Unas.
"Hi. My name is Little Danny Jackson-O'Neill, and that's my brother, Jonny. We're peaceful explorers from the planet Earth."
"Earrrrrth," came the throaty response. The creature cocked its head and said, "Dan'el?"
"Little Danny, but Dan'el is okay, too. My daddy is Daniel. I was named after him, and my dad, too. I have my dad's middle name. You're an Unas, right? Daddy told me what the Unas look like. Do you know Cha'ka? Daddy and Cha'ka are friends."
"Dan'el," the Unas repeated in what sounded like a lighter tone to the children. "Dan'el ka nay."
"Ka nay," Little Danny whispered to himself. "Daddy only taught me a few words of Unas," the boy revealed as he thought.
"Dan'el ka nay," the Unas repeated. He pointed at Little Danny and said, "Lit Dan'el ka nay."
Little Danny's face lit up as he agreed, "Yes, we're friends." He asked again, "Do you know Cha'ka?"
The Unas pounded on his chest as he stated, "Cha'ka."
"You're Cha'ka!" Little Danny exclaimed. "Jonny, Ash, this is Cha'ka. He's an Unas and a friend of Daddy's."
"Hi, Cha'ka," Aislinn greeted. "I'm Ash. I'm ka nay, too."
"And I'm Jonny. I want to be your ka nay, too."
"'Ell-o," Cha'ka greeted.
"I'll bet Daddy taught you that, huh," Little Danny stated excitedly.
Jonny's stomach rumbled again with hunger. It was loud enough that Cha'ka heard it, too.
"We're hungry, Cha'ka," Little Danny stated. "I only know a few Unas words," he sighed.
"Ka cha," Cha'ka instructed, motioning for the children to follow. "Ka cha," he repeated. "Nok."
"I think he wants us to follow him right now," Little Danny translated.
"Okay," Jonny agreed. "We're ka nay, right."
"Ka cha, ka nay," the Unas repeated. "Dan'el."
"I think he said Daddy's name to remind us that we are friends. We should follow him," Little Danny put forth.
"We go," Jonny agreed as he took Aislinn's hand.
The Unas and the children traveled for a long ways and the kids were getting very tired.
"I can't," Aislinn sighed, as she slipped to her knees. "I'm too tired."
"Me, too," Little Danny admitted.
"Me, three," Jonny agreed.
Cha'ka stared at the youth and then let out a mighty roar, one that startled the children. He walked over and picked up Aislinn.
"Little Danny," Jonny called out in concern. ~He's so big. I'm not sure about the Unas. Daddy never told me about them.~
"It's okay. She's tired and he just wants to help."
All of a sudden three other Unas appeared. The children listened to Cha'ka giving orders to two of the Unas, each of whom came and picked up one of the boys.
"Okay, I guess," Jonny responded. "Little Danny?"
"They're ka nay, Jonny."
"Okay." Jonny wanted to know more and asked, "Little Danny, isn't Dad a friend of the Unas, too?"
"I guess so. Daddy said he spent more time with Cha'ka and that Dad didn't really know him."
Jonny decided to take the direct approach and asked, "Cha'ka, do you know our dad, too. His name is Jack."
Cha'ka let out a growl, though it was a small one.
"Maybe he doesn't know Dad," Aislinn offered.
"Cha'ka, you like our dad, Jack, right?" Little Danny inquired, not wanting to think his father was disliked by the Unas, especially when his daddy spoke so fondly about Cha'ka.
"Jack zo," Cha'ka responded.
"What does that mean, Little Danny?" Aislinn asked.
"I don't know," the boy answered with a sigh, making a note to ask his daddy when back home.
Meanwhile, Jonny had a frown on his face and determined, ~Better ask Dad about the Unas when we get home.~
In spite of their best attempts to stay awake, the Munchkins fell asleep while in the arms of the Unas. When they awoke, they were inside a large cave. A fire was lit nearby to keep them warm and they could smell the aroma of food.
"I wonder what it is," Aislinn said as she was handed something that looked like a leg.
"I wouldn't ask, if I were you," Jonny suggested as he took the piece he was given.
Little Danny accepted his food, but not liking to eat meat, he wasn't sure if he wanted to eat it or not.
"Nan," Cha'ka said, telling the children to eat.
"I don't know that I want to nan this," Little Danny stated as he stared at the food.
"What's nan?" Jonny asked.
"It means to eat," Little Danny replied. "It's the first word Daddy taught me."
A couple of minutes passed and the middle Munchkin had yet to take a bite.
"Ya hafta eat," Jonny insisted in mumbled words since he'd already taken several bites of the food. "It's good."
"It's like chicken, but it's not chicken," Aislinn noted.
"Guess I should," Little Danny agreed. ~Sorry, animal, whatever you are, or were.~
"Where Dan'el?" Cha'ka asked.
"On Earth, we think," Little Danny answered. He told Cha'ka the entire story of the day, though he was certain the Unas didn't understand him. "We want to go home, but we don't know how. Do you know how to dial Earth on the DHD?"
Cha'ka just stared at the children, prompting Jonny to conclude, "I don't think he knows. I don't think the Unas travel much."
"Cha'ka, can you take us back to the Stargate? It's a long way from here. Please?"
"Lota," the Unas instructed.
"Okay," Little Danny agreed.
"Okay what?" Jonny asked.
"He told us to wait here."
"Where would we go?" Jonny questioned, getting a shrug from his brother.
The children finished their meals and then Cha'ka and two of the three Unas from before returned. Saying nothing, the children were picked up and carried out of the cave and back towards the Stargate. This time, the kids took in as much as they could about their surroundings. Little Danny tried to talk to Cha'ka, too.
"Daddy said you were a slave. Slavery isn't good. He said you became friends over a chocolate bar. I *love* chocolate."
"Mmmmmm," Cha'ka responded.
Little Danny laughed, "Te love chocolate, too!"
"Does te mean you, Little Danny?" Aislinn asked as she took in as much of the Unas language as she could.
As the children were carried to the Stargate, Little Danny continued talking to Cha'ka. As they passed various plants, the boy would tell Cha'ka the English name for it.
"That's a rock," the communicative Munchkin advised. "See Cha'ka. Rock."
"Look up, Cha'ka," Little Danny directed. "That's the sky. It's blue. It's a blue sky."
Little Danny talked so much that by the time the Stargate came into view, his voice was hoarse.
"That's the Stargate, Cha'ka, Star-gate."
"Sta'ga," Cha'ka repeated.
"Yes!" Little Danny exclaimed.
"Lit Dan'el 'uman good," Cha'ka communicated.
"I think you're good, too, Cha'ka. Thank you for the ride," Little Danny spoke as he and his siblings were gently lowered to the ground.
The triplets walked over to the DHD and stared at the glyphs.
"I sure wish Cha'ka knew how to dial Earth."
All of a sudden, Cha'ka was looming over the children and the dial home device. He made a noise and pointed to three glyphs. Then, as best the kids could determine, Cha'ka shrugged.
"I think he knows these three glyphs," Little Danny said.
"But not the rest," Jonny sighed.
"Dial something, Little Danny," Aislinn requested.
"I wish I had Dad's books," the middle triple spoke dreamily.
"How come?" Jonny inquired.
"'Cause the addresses are constellations."
"From the sky?" Jonny asked as he reared his head backwards to look up at the blue sky.
"Yeah," Little Danny answered. "Hmmm."
"What?" Aislinn asked eagerly.
"Maybe this one ... and that one, but I don't know if I should try that one, too, or maybe this one here."
"Take your best guess, Little Danny," Jonny suggested.
Little Danny dialed and the Stargate was soon ready for their travel.
"Bye, Cha'ka, and aka," Little Danny stated with a smile.
"Is that thank you?" Aislinn asked. Seeing her brother nod, she called out, "Aka, Cha'ka."
Jonny followed suit as he added another word in Unas to his vocabulary. He was feeling better about the Unas, but still wanted to ask his dad about them.
"Cha'aka," Cha'ka replied.
"I'm not sure what that is, but it's probably good-bye or something," Little Danny told his siblings.
"Bye," the throaty parting word came from the Unas.
"Bye, Cha'ka," all three kids said, waving.
"Bye other Unas," Little Danny added just before walking through the Stargate.
The mood at Stargate Command was low. SG teams had visited sixty different planets to no avail, and Sam was still stumped about the cause of the children's disappearance. It was a new day, though, and everyone remained hopeful they would find the kids soon.
Jack and Daniel had spent hours contacting some of the SGC's more advanced races in order to enlist their help. They'd even contacted the Tok'ra. They'd managed to reach everyone but the Asgard, which was strange since Thor had such a vested interest in the family.
"Where are those little gray butts?" Jack ranted.
"Out of the universe, I guess," Daniel sighed. "Jack, we have to make a decision."
Jack nodded, but he wasn't sure how he wanted to proceed. When he and Daniel realized the night before that the Munchkins probably wouldn't be home in time for family dinner, he'd phoned Mrs. Valissi, their neighbor, to spend the night with the brood. It was breakfast time now, and the children were no doubt asking the woman a lot of questions to which she was clueless on how to answer.
"Let's give it until noon," Jack suggested, not wanting to leave Cheyenne Mountain as yet. He was pleased to see his lover's affirming bob of the head. "Our kids are tough, Danny. They'll be home soon."
Jack walked over and encircled his arms around Daniel, who leaned his head back.
"What are we missing, Jack? We must be missing something."
"We dialed the Gate and they went through. We followed."
"But not for a minute later."
"The wormhole was steady, Danny. It didn't close. There wasn't a bolt of lightning that hit it. It was a regular wormhole, like the thousands before it."
"No, something had to be different. We missed it."
Jack continued to embrace his Heart, but he didn't believe they'd miss anything. He may not be a scientist, but he'd seen his share of wormholes, and this one was just like all the others he'd seen.
Emerging through the Stargate, Aislinn giggled, "More trees."
"Dad would be happy," Jonny remarked as he began the process of writing another note and attaching it to the DHD as was now the norm upon the Munchkins' arrival on a new planet.
"This planet looks a lot like Earth," Little Danny observed, excited to see what would be found on this planet.
Within minutes, the children were walking down a dirt path toward whatever lie ahead.
"There's a town," Aislinn observed after the children had walked a full mile.
"Looks smaller, like a village," Little Danny noted as the kids kept walking.
After getting even closer, Jonny suggested, "Let's go over here and watch for a while."
"How come?" came the query from the youngest triplet.
"So we can see if they're friendly or not."
The triplets took a position atop a hill that led down to the village. They watched for about thirty minutes as villagers walked around.
"They don't have houses," Aislinn noted.
"They have huts," Jonny observed. "No cars."
"I don't see any telephone polls or power wires," Little Danny pointed out.
"There's a man on a wagon," Jonny pointed out, mainly because it was the first source of transportation he'd seen on the planet.
"He's stopping," Little Danny said.
The children watched as the man climbed off the wagon. He pulled off a tarp that covered part of the wagon and pounded three times on a large cymbal.
"That's an ancient cymbal, only bigger," Little Danny observed.
"How you know that?" Jonny asked.
"It played a C-note," Little Danny answered. He expounded, "New cymbals don't play a note, and it sounded really light, like hand bells, and he hit it on the edge of the cymbal and not in the center."
"Oh," Jonny responded and then refocused on the man. ~Wish he had drums.~
"Citizens, it is time for the cleanse," the man called out loudly.
"At least he speaks English," Aislinn whispered.
The villagers came forth and gathered around the man. Each kneeled down and bowed their heads.
"From the beginning of our time, we have washed away the rot and the dirt from our bodies and our souls. Our gods told us that if we did so, they would one day return and take us to a special place. We were told we would thrive. We shout our joy as we pray in our gods' name. We await their return."
Cheers broke out and phrases the Earth children couldn't understand were shouted. The exclamations of praises lasted for five minutes until the man again hit the cymbal three times.
The man spoke to the people.
"That's Greek," Jonny pointed out. "He says ... is that forever, Little Danny?"
"Jonny, he's saying that it's eternal, life is eternal," Aislinn responded. "I don't know the rest."
"Something about being thankful for their long lives," Little Danny explained. "He's not speaking Greek, but it's close."
"Begin the cleanse," the man instructed, walking over to the side as each villager went to the wagon where two large barrels of a white liquid were inside.
Each villager used a ladle to sip some of the liquid, after which they calmly walked away and returned to what they had been doing before the man in the wagon's arrival.
The man went to the wagon and bowed his head as he spoke, "Thanks be to the gods for the miracle of the cleanse. Enrich the goodness of the people until your return."
After replacing the tarp, the man boarded his wagon and drove slowly out of the town.
"Let's go," Jonny ordered.
"What are we going to do?" Aislinn asked.
"I want to know what's in the wagon," the oldest Munchkin answered.
"But the wagon is going the other way," Little Danny commented.
"I wanna see the people close up first," Jonny told his siblings as he led the way down the small hill and into the village. "Stay close: covert."
The triplets stayed closed to the back of the village huts. Since there were no walls, they had an easy time listening to the villagers' conversations.
"Praise be for the cleanse," a woman told a man inside one of the huts.
"It is the power of the gods," the man replied. "Soon, they will come."
When the talk ended, Jonny looked around and at the right time, motioned for the Munchkins to run to the next hut. The children were still as they listened.
"Jovah, the wagon captain, he came?"
"The cleanse was completed, Nefi. Where be you?"
"I fell getting the water. I missed the cleanse."
"You will lose a year of life, Nefi," the man claimed.
"The cleanse keeps us safe and gives us life. My failing is responsible. The gods may not forgive me for missing their gift," Nefi stated with concern.
When the conversation turned to more routine things, the children advanced to another hut and listened to what was being said.
"How be your foot?" a woman asked.
"The cleanse worked, Mam," a child replied. "See, my toes wiggle and it doesn't hurt."
"Praise to the gods who bring the cleanse."
"We go after the wagon now," Jonny ordered, carefully leading the way back to the small hill and up the incline. "The wagon went that way."
"It was moving slow, so we can catch it," Aislinn suggested confidently.
"Let's move out," Jonny ordered.
The triplets ran carefully along the side of the dirt road and tried to stay hidden by running along the brush that sandwiched the path. They constantly looked back in case they were being followed.
"See!" Jonny called out in a hushed tone when the triplets caught sight of the wagon in the distance. "He's going really slow."
"I wonder why," Aislinn remarked.
"Maybe he's not in a hurry," Little Danny alluded.
With caution, the children continued to follow the wagon until it stopped near a golden lake.
"I've never seen a yellow lake before," Jonny whispered.
"It's not yellow, it's gold," Aislinn clarified.
"Okay, I've never seen a gold lake before."
"Is it water?" Little Danny asked, not really expecting an answer.
"Well, that's not our mission," Jonny responded. "Cover me."
"Huh?" Little Danny asked. "With what?" He sighed as he watched his brother slither along the ground like a snake. "He's seen too many war movies."
"He just likes to pretend he's Dad," Aislinn asserted. She smiled, "He's a good little general, but don't tell him that or his head will explode."
Little Danny chuckled quietly and then suggested, "Ash, let's follow, in case he needs us."
Jonny reached the wagon and examined its setup carefully. He kept an eye out under the wagon at the man. He could see the black furry boots the man wore. They were settled, not moving, by the golden lake. The Munchkin climbed up into the wagon and disappeared from sight.
"I wish he wouldn't do that," Little Danny whined. "Watch the man, Ash."
"I am. He's still not moving."
Inside the wagon, Jonny opened his backpack and found a small container of items such as nails, screws, paper clips, erasers, little magnets, and more. These were all things he never knew if he might need. He was a big fan of "MacGyver" and carried anything he thought might come in handy. He never thought the container these items were stored in would be what he needed. He emptied the little Tupperware cup and then reached in one of the barrels and extracted three-quarters of the cup size in the white liquid. He put the lid back on and found a plastic bag to put the container into for extra protection.
Just as Jonny put on his backpack and started to get up, he heard a noise.
"Little Danny, the man is going back to his wagon. Jonny's still in there," Aislinn anxiously advised.
"Ash, go over to that tree and make a lot of noise. Don't show yourself, just make noise."
Aislinn nodded and did as instructed. She remembered reading about Irish banshee's and their shrill sounds. Being musically inclined, she began to sing an eerie shriek, one that immediately drew the attention of the man.
Watching and waiting, Little Danny picked his moment. The man was now halfway between the wagon and Aislinn's tree. Having found five rocks, he threw them onto the other side of the dirt road, one at a time. Each hit their target, a bigger tree.
The man turned his focus to the tree and headed toward it.
Meanwhile, Jonny pushed on the tarp and peeked out.
"Jonny, come on," Little Danny whispered, having run toward the wagon.
Jonny hopped out and asked, "Where's Ash?"
"Ash, come on," Little Danny called out as quietly as he could and yet still be heard by his sister.
Aislinn ran to her brothers, her little feet crunching against some twigs.
Hearing the sounds of the breaking twigs, the man turned and called out, "Who be there?" Seeing the children, he sprinted after them. Surpisingly, he only ran a few yards before stopping and shouting out to the kids, "If ye need to be cleansed, come forth. Come, be cleansed."
~I don't think so,~ Jonny thought as he ran down the road. "Head for the Stargate," he ordered, uncertain if the man would follow or not.
As he'd done a few times now, Little Danny did his best to dial an address that made sense. He wished he could figure out how the symbols related to the constellations. He simply did not have the information he needed to translate that awareness into a proper address.
As soon as possible, the triplets left the land of the cleansing and golden lake behind, jumping through the Stargate and to the next planet.
The klaxons began to blare with the announcement of an unauthorized incoming transmission. Quickly, Jack, Daniel, and General Hammond assembled in the control room.
"It's Ardyl," Sergeant Davis advised as he acknowledged the incoming identification signature.
"Open the iris," Hammond ordered, leading the way to the gate room. When the leader of Hedronix, a major ally that was still a huge mystery to Stargate Command and the United States government, walked down the ramp, Hammond greeted, "Ardyl, it is an honor to welcome you."
"General Hammond," Ardyl greeted. He looked at Jack and Daniel and advised, "I have news of your children."
"What?" Daniel asked, moving forward. "Do you have them? Do you know where they are?"
"I know where they were," Ardyl replied. He reached into a pocket and handed Daniel a note. "They left this on Jejtujal."
"Je-what? Wha is that? No, *where* is that?" Jack asked.
"I have written down the coordinates," Ardyl responded as he pulled out another paper and gave it to Jack.
"Aren't they still there?" the archaeologist required.
"No, Daniel, they are not," Ardyl answered regretfully. "The people of Jejtujal are overexuberant. They have ways and beliefs that are not appropriate for the children of Earth."
"What are you saying?" Jack snapped.
"Your children are unharmed," Ardyl promised. "I am told they ran off before they could be swayed."
"Swayed?" Jack barked.
"Jack, calm down. Ardyl said they're safe, and he's doing us a favor by coming here personally to tell us what he's discovered. This place isn't part of the Hedronix world."
With a giant sigh, Jack responded, "He's right, Ardyl. I'm sorry, but our kids are out there somewhere and this is the first news we've heard."
Ardyl nodded acceptance of Jack's apology and added, "You may go to Jejtujal, but they know only that the children were there and then ran away. They found the note on the transporter."
"The DHD," Daniel surmised.
Jack read the note and commented, "They wanted us to know they went exploring until we arrived and found them."
"Thank you, Ardyl. You came personally and that means a lot in our culture. Your time is valued. We appreciate it," Daniel spoke sincerely.
"You are welcome, and we will continue to search for your children."
Jack and General Hammond both said their good-byes to the Hedronix leader who immediately returned to his planet.
"At least we know they're okay," Daniel stated.
"But where did they go next?" Hammond asked.
The adults could only shake their heads and leave the gate room. They all felt lost as they waited for more news about the Munchkins. At least now that had a morsel of information. They'd plot out the location on the map and see if there was anything they could learn from that.
"Where are we now?" Aislinn asked. "What's that?"
Little Danny gasped as he ran forward and looked as high as he could. To him, the object seemed to reach the sky. He ran all around the object and then he ran over by the forest to get a better look at the object.
Standing right in front of the towering object, Jonny leaned his head way back to try to see the top of the curious thing in front of him. Suddenly, he fell back and landed on his derriere.
"Ouch!" the little general complained.
Aislinn chuckled openly and commented, "You're funny, Jonny."
"You better not tell anyone I fell on my butt," the boy warned as he stood up.
Sternly, Aislinn insisted, "I'll tell them if I want to."
"Come on, Ash. It would bad for my reputation."
Aislinn laughed again as she responded, "Funny is funny, and we all know your reputation, Jonny Jackson-O'Neill."
"Ah, Ash," the boy sighed, ignoring the girl's happy giggle.
From his position, Little Danny gasped as he made a realization and quickly called out, "Jonny, Ash, it's Thor's Hammer!"
"It doesn't look like a hammer," Aislinn noted.
"But it is. It has to be," the youthful genius surmised. "Daddy told me about once. Well, he didn't say that much. I heard him talking to Dad about it after Thor left one time. Dad asked if Thor's hammer still worked because ..."
Just then, the hammer began to make a humming sound.
"Oh, wow!" Little Danny exclaimed. "Hold hands," he ordered his siblings.
"How come?" Jonny asked, even as he took hold of Little Danny's hand. He took Aislinn's hand, too, so the three were standing in a circle. "Why is it making that noise?"
"Watch out for the big ray. It's gonna scan us, but it'll be okay."
The children waited and then what Little Danny said would happen, did. A wide beam of light that reminded them of a laser aimed right at them. The light stayed on them for a few seconds and then disappeared.
"That was scary," Aislinn opined. "Why did it do that?"
"It was scanning for a symbiote," Little Danny answered.
"You mean a snakehead?" Jonny responded. "Dad hates snakeheads."
"They were the Goa'uld, but Dad and Daddy defeated them and drove them away," Little Danny recalled.
"So the hammer could tell if we were snakes?" a confused Aislinn queried.
"That's what Daddy said, but he didn't tell me that much," Little Danny admitted.
"Dad and Daddy don't like to tell us bad things about outer space," Jonny sighed. Then he perked up and asked, "Do you think SG-1 was here?"
"Maybe," Little Danny answered, afraid to be too confident of his answer, but hoping they had. "We need to explore, Jonny. Daddy said they met Thor on a planet with a hammer and a lady name Gairwyn."
Jonny looked around and then ordered, "We'll go that way and see if we can find Gairwyn."
"How come that way?" Little Danny asked.
"You wanna go that way instead?"
"Nah, let's go that way like you said," Little Danny agreed.
Having left yet another note for their parents on the DHD, the children walked casually as they sought out someone they hoped could help them find home.
Jack and Daniel were in the briefing room, having just received the latest status report of off-world search teams. Jack was looking out the window while Daniel was sitting in a chair, a cup of coffee in front of him.
The event horizon opened, awaiting the departure of SG-19 to search yet another planet.
Suddenly, Jack blinked several times as a memory stirred.
"It wasn't normal."
"Sorry, Jack, I didn't hear what you said," Daniel responded.
Jack turned to face his husband as he revealed, "The event horizon, Danny. It wasn't normal."
"What do you mean?" the archaeologist questioned, standing up and approaching the older man.
"Let's find Carter."
Jack and Daniel found Sam brainstorming with members of her team. They interrupted her, prompting her to join them in the corridor.
"Sam, Jack says the event horizon on the Nox home world wasn't normal," Daniel advised.
"How was it different?" Sam asked.
"It was only for a couple of seconds. We watched the kids go through and then we looked back at the planet."
"Sort of a ... a nostalgic farewell," Daniel explained.
"He was still looking. I turned around and for one or two, maybe three seconds, there was a ripple. It didn't faze me at the time. I wasn't thinking it was different, but there was a ripple I haven't seen before."
"Can you describe it in more detail?" Sam prompted. "Was it a solitary ripple or were there multiples? Was it present throughout the event horizon or just a part of it? Was there a noise, anything abnormal? Sir, anything you can tell me may help us to determine what happened."
Jack did his best to describe what he'd seen and then Sam returned to her team. She felt hopeful they could figure it out. As for the worried parents, they returned to Daniel's office to take time for themselves. Their noon deadline was approaching and then they'd have to decide what to do about telling the rest of their brood about the missing trio.
On the planet, the children heard the sound of a horn in the distance.
"What's that?" Aislinn queried.
"I think it's a hunter's horn," Little Danny answered, feeling sad for whatever was being hunted.
"Keep moving," Jonny ordered.
The triplets walked on until they spotted a village. There were many small tenements in the village and people were walking all about. There was nothing hostile or unusual in the estimation of the children.
"What are they wearing? It looks medieval or something," Aislinn observed.
"It's the Vikings," Little Danny determined. "We need to talk to them."
Jonny saw Little Danny dart out in front of his siblings as he began to run toward the village.
"Little Danny, stop doing that!" Jonny shouted to no avail.
The middle Munchkin ran until he was in the main street of the village with men and women staring at him.
"Hi!" the boy greeted enthusiastically. "I'm Little Danny Jackson-O'Neill." He pointed back at his brother and sister who were still running to join him. "That's Jonny and Ash. We're SG-Munchkins, peaceful explorers from Earth. We think our parents were here once, Jack and Daniel, and Aunt Sam, too. Oh, and Teal'c. He was here, too. We're looking for Gairwyn. Is she here?"
"You talk much," a blond-haired man laughed.
"Dad says I'm just like Daddy," Little Danny stated, something that confused the listeners.
"Will you *stop* running ahead of us like that," Jonny spat when he and Aislinn reached their brother.
"No, you're not."
"No, I'm not," Little Danny laughed. "We're safe 'cause this is one of Thor's safe planets. That's why the hammer is here."
"You know Thor?" the man asked.
"Uh-huh. Our little brother JD is named after him," Little Danny stated. "Well, JD has lots of names, but one of them is Thor. Thor calls him Little Thor when he visits."
"Thor visits you?" a woman questioned as she walked from the back of the children to the front.
"Sometimes," Jonny responded.
"Is Gairwyn here?" Little Danny asked again.
"Asta, get Gairwyn," the man instructed. When the woman left, the man said, "I am Walenty. Would you like water?"
"Yes, please," all three of the children responded.
Walenty and a few others walked with the children inside a common eating area where water was served to the kids.
"Sometimes water tastes better than anything," Aislinn opined before drinking more of pure beverage.
"You are from Earth," a man spoke. "I recognize the clothing."
"They're called BDUs. All the SG teams wear them on missions," Jonny responded.
"Do you know our parents?" Aislinn asked.
"Who are your parents?"
Suddenly, Little Danny gasped, the sound covering up the beginning of Aislinn's response.
"Um, can you please excuse us a minute?" the boy asked. "Jonny, Ash, over there."
The three children went over to a corner where none of the locals were standing.
"What's wrong?" Jonny asked.
"Shh!" Little Danny warned. "These people are Vikings."
"So?" Jonny asked.
"I'm not sure they'd like it if they knew Dad and Daddy were our parents," Little Danny stated as softly as he could. "I don't like lying, but this is a different culture and we have to respect them."
"I respect them," Aislinn replied, "But they should respect us, too."
"I know, but they aren't as advanced as Earth. It's complicated, but I don't think we should tell them. They might not think it's okay."
Jonny let out a groan as he covertly looked over at the Vikings, many of who carried weaponry on their persons.
"Okay. What do we tell them?" the team leader sighed.
"We've already talked about Dad and Daddy," Aislinn reminded.
"And you already told them we're your brother and sister," Jonny pointed out.
"Well, we'll say we're half-siblings. Dad is our dad and Daddy is our step-daddy. Ash is Daddy's little girl, and we're Dad's little boys," Little Danny informed, though he felt sad doing it.
"What about our mother?" Aislinn asked quietly.
"Mommy is our mommy," Little Danny replied strongly. Little Danny just could not bring himself to even pretend that another woman was their precious mother. Kayla Armentrout was their mother and he would never betray that. "Mommy's dead so our dad and daddy both take care of us. That'll work."
"Okay, we'll do what Little Danny said," Jonny stated. "You agree, Ash?"
"Yeah, I agree. I'm glad Mommy's still Mommy."
"Mommy is always Mommy," Little Danny reiterated. "Dad and Daddy are explorers. They know we have to fib sometimes, even when we don't like it."
"On three," Jonny instructed. "One, two, three!"
The triplets put their hands together and called out, "Munchkin Power!"
The locals were startled and became uncertain about the triplets after their loud call, but Little Danny soothed them by saying it was just something they said to make them feel better.
"We're a little lost, and that's why we needed to feel better," the genius concluded.
Just then, a woman hurried down the street on her horse. She dismounted and hurried inside the eating place.
"This is Gairwyn," Walenty introduced.
"Hello, Gairwyn," all three children greeted with smiles.
"Hello, and who may you be?"
"Do you remember SG-1?" Jonny asked.
With a bright smile, Gairwyn answered, "Yes. Are they well?"
"I think so, except I think they're probably upset because we're lost," Aislinn answered for her siblings. "We want to go home, but we don't know how."
"Jack and Daniel are our parents," Little Danny stated, hoping Gairwyn wouldn't ask for the specifics so he wouldn't have to lie.
"I can see," the woman observed. ~The tall one has Jack's eyes and the other boy has Daniel's beautiful hair. The girl? She is beautiful. Interesting how much they all look alike.~
"Can you help us get home, Gairwyn?" Aislinn asked.
"Do you know how to use the DHD at the Stargate?" Little Danny asked before the woman could respond to his sister's question.
"I do." The children cheered and hugged Gairwyn whose arms embraced the triplets. "Come. We will go to the portal."
Gairwyn led the children outside and put them all on her mighty steed. Taking the reins, she began a leisurely pace toward the Stargate that her people referred to as a portal.
"Gairwyn, what is your planet called?" Little Danny asked.
"Cimmeria. Our people are from Midgard, the ancient home. Thor brought us here to keep us safe from the Etins."
"Who are they?" Jonny asked.
"The Goa'uld," Gairwyn responded. "Do you know of the Etins?"
"A little. Dad and Daddy don't like to tell us much about them," Little Danny answered.
"The people are safe now from the Etins. Thor and our brothers and sisters from Earth defeated them."
"Why do you still have the hammer?" Aislinn asked.
"Thor wishes it to remain, just in case the Etins return, though he says that is impossible."
"Do you have a leader?" Jonny asked.
Gairwyn laughed and replied, "I am mistress of the land."
"Like a president?" Jonny questioned.
"I do not know what a president is," Gairwyn returned, "but I am the leader of all now. Thor has made that so. Some of the men do not like that."
"A woman can be a leader," Aislinn insisted.
"They do not like that Thor speaks only to me."
"Do they watch him talk to you?" Little Danny asked.
"No," Gairwyn answered. "I go to the Hall of Thor's Might when in need. He talks to me there."
"What's that?" Jonny asked.
"It is the place where Thor speaks to me."
"Oh," Jonny sighed while shrugging. "I'm a leader. I'm a little general."
"Jonny!" Aislinn chastised. "That's for fun. You shouldn't do that when we're on a mission."
"I can't help it," Jonny admitted.
"Jonny's gonna be a real general one day, Gairwyn," Little Danny assured. "He's a good leader and he'll be even better when we all grow up."
"I am sure," Gairwyn replied with a smile.
"Gairwyn, do you do anything else besides leading your people?" Little Danny queried.
"I have a small farm. I do my best to help my people with what I grow."
"Does your husband help?" Aislinn asked.
"My husband is dead. He died fighting the Etins many years ago," Gairwyn spoke somewhat sadly.
"We're sorry," Little Danny spoke from deep within his heart.
"He was a good provider and a strong fighter. I honor him as best I can," Gairwyn stated. Changing the subject, she asked, "We have not had a visit from your world in a long time."
"Ut oh," Little Danny responded.
"It is fine, Little Danny," Gairwyn assured.
"No, I mean ut oh."
"Ut oh what?" Jonny asked.
"We can't send an IDC through the Stargate," Little Danny replied.
"Dad has the garage door opener," Jonny recalled with a frown.
"Jonny, why don't you just call it a GDO like everyone else does?" Aislinn questioned.
"Because it's more fun to call it a garage door opener and 'sides, that's its name."
Little Danny rolled his eyes at his brother's playfulness and inquired, "Gairwyn, do you have a way of telling them it's you dialing the Stargate, um, portal?"
"We had a box, but I sent it back when the Etins attacked. We do not cause the portal to stir. We greet only the visitors who come here."
"But you know the address," Aislinn reminded.
"Yes, I know the address. Kendra told me."
"I think we have a problem," Jonny sighed, wondering who Kendra was but not really caring until the problem was solved.
"No, we don't," Little Danny said with a grin. "Gairwyn, can you take us to the Hall of Thor's Might? We can contact Thor and he can take us home."
"I would be pleased to take you to there, but Thor does not always respond. Sometimes, it takes him a long time."
"We know," Jonny sighed as Gairwyn turned the horse to the right to go in a different direction.
"Why don't you have a GDO?" Little Danny pondered aloud.
"I do not know what that is, but our ways are simple, Little Danny. Maybe they do not believe we are capable of using this GDO."
Jonny whispered, "We can talk to Dad and Daddy about it when we get home."
Little Danny and Aislinn nodded, happy to divert their attention to the idea of finally going home.
"Here we are," Gairwyn announced and then helped the children off her horse. "We must walk now, but it is not far."
Sure enough, it wasn't long before Gairwyn told the children they had arrived.
"Gairwyn?" Little Danny called out hesitantly.
"This doesn't look like a hall to me."
"What were you expecting?" the woman asked.
"Well, uh, maybe a hall?"
Gairwyn broke out into polite laughter as she responded, "You are Daniel's son. He had the very same reaction the first time I showed him this place." She was still smiling as she expounded, "When I brought Daniel and Sam here, I did not know this was Thor's way of testing us. We were forbidden to touch the stone."
"Weren't you tempted?" a curious Jonny asked. ~I'd check it out.~
"Thor forbade it, and we honored Thor."
The kids looked up at the Norse monument that was tall, but nowhere near the height of Thor's hammer that was near the Stargate.
"How did you find out Thor was inside?"
"Daniel touched the stone and we were transported inside," Gairwyn told the Munchkins. "Now Thor allows me to touch it, if we need him."
"So if we touch it, it'll open," Jonny surmised.
"Not exactly," Gairwyn answered as she reached up and touched the red stone that was just above her head.
The light began to glow and then Gairwyn and the children were zapped away and into the hall.
"Wow, that was fun," Jonny laughed.
"Can we do it again?" Aislinn asked.
"The way out is equally ... fun," Gairwyn promised.
"Well, at least this is a hall," Little Danny noted, not realizing he was parroting his younger father's words from years earlier.
The Viking woman laughed as she told the children to follow her. They walked a long corridor until they came to wide expanse.
"Here is where Daniel solved the riddle of the runes. I do not know much about that, but when I need to speak with Thor, I come here and press this," Gairwyn told the children before reaching upward and placing her hands on a large stone. She stopped, lowering her hands and asked Little Danny, "Would you like to press it?"
"You may," Gairwyn permitted, picking up the boy so he could reach the stone.
"It's pretty," Little Danny observed about the red stone. "It has pictures of Thor's hammer on it, five of them."
"Press it firmly," Gairwyn instructed.
As soon as Little Danny released the stone, a sound began.
Gairwyn put the boy down and said, "Now we wait."
Jack and Daniel were still in Daniel's office. They had fifteen minutes left before they had to decide how to proceed with the rest of their children.
"Sam," Daniel called out, seeing his friend walk in.
"Any news?" Jack asked the woman who would always be his 2IC.
"We think the ripple was some kind of interference, but we've never seen this before and we don't know what caused it."
"More words," Jack requested quietly.
"I'm guessing that when the event horizon formed, it temporarily jumped some place else due to this interference."
"Inference that you have no clue why it was out there," Jack assumed.
"Right," Sam confirmed. "The ripple was the wormhole stabilizing back to where it should have been all along. The simplest way to put it is that it's like when you get a bad connection and it takes a few seconds for that connection to really take hold."
"The frequency strengthens," Daniel put forth.
"Yeah, more or less," Sam agreed. "We have a lot of work to do to determine what caused this."
"Sam, how do we find the children?" Daniel asked.
"I wish I ..." the colonel began before being distracted by the aloud alarm.
The klaxons blared the warning of incoming unscheduled wormhole, causing Jack, Daniel, and Sam to run to the control room where General Hammond was already in place.
"It's the Asgard, Sir," Davis announced as he identified Thor's IDC code.
"Open the iris," Hammond ordered.
"Since when does Thor use the Stargate?" Jack questioned.
"Maybe since he has our children," the archaeologist responded excitedly, hurrying to the gate room, followed by the rest of SG-1 and Hammond.
With the iris open, the SGC personnel waited with baited breath until finally three little lives walked through the Stargate, followed by Commandor Thor of the Asgard.
"Daddy!" Aislinn called out, running to her younger father who scooped her up and held her so tight that she had to remind him to let her breath.
"Dad, we have a lot to tell you," Jonny called out as he ran to Jack, who picked him up. He leaned down slightly and picked up Little Danny as well. "You two are getting so friggin' big."
There were hugs, laughter, and a few tears as everyone reunited.
"Thor, thank you," General Hammond spoke from his heart.
"Hey, Thor. You're welcome to stay for lunch," Jack teased, although he was always serious about the offer.
"How'd you find them?" Sam asked.
"They found me," Thor clarified.
"It's like Jonny said, Aunt Sam. We have a lot to tell you," Little Danny advised as he and his brother were lowered to the ground.
"Grandpa General Hammond, Sir," Jonny called out as snapped to and saluted. "SG-Munchkins needs to make a full report, Sir. We have important news."
"And recommendations, too," Little Danny added.
Hammond saluted the children. He looked at Jack and Daniel, who both shrugged. Their kids looked safe, healthy, and eager to tell their story.
"SG-Munchkins, you will proceed to the infirmary for a full medical checkup."
"Ouch!" Jonny groaned.
Hammond continued, "We will debrief as soon as you are cleared by Doctor Lam." He looked at Thor and noted, "We are in the debt of the Asgard. If there is anything we can do, we are at the ready."
"Thank you, General Hammond," Thor replied. "I must return to Cimmeria through the Stargate in order to return to my ship." He looked at Jack and Daniel and stated, "I cannot do lunch. I will do dinner. Tell Little Thor we will ... play."
The lovers tried not to chuckle, but didn't succeed much. They thanked Thor again and watched as he returned to Cimmeria.
"Okay you rugrats, move," Jack ordered. He watched as Daniel walked by him and behind the Munchkins as they headed for the infirmary. "Sam," he called out. "I need to apologize, again."
"No, Sir. You were worried about them."
"But none of this was your fault."
"I know that, General, but I'm your second and it's my duty to take the heat when times get tough."
"Is that in the rule book somewhere?" an astonished Jack asked.
"It's in our rule book, Jack."
Sam smiled and headed back to her lab. The crisis was over, but her team still needed to find out why the interference happened and how it caused the Gate to jump. They needed to make sure it never happened again. That said, her plan was to get her team up to date and then she was going to head home to make out with her husband.
Jack smiled and took a deep breath. He looked up at the control room and saw Sergeant Davis watching. He gave Davis a smile and nod of gratitude for his assistance. Then he looked back at the Stargate.
~Every time I think you're safe, you blow me a curve,~ Jack told the ancient device. ~What will Danny and I do without you to drive home adventure?~ Then Jack grinned, a seductive expression. He laughed audibly. ~You can't touch that, you Chappa'ai.~
Still laughing and now planning a romantic rendezvous with his sexy geek, Jack headed for the infirmary to join his family.
"Too bad T is on Chulak," Jack mused privately with his husband.
"He'd enjoy this," Daniel agreed.
The lovers followed their children into the briefing room. Everyone took a seat. Daniel was seated at the far end of the table. Aislinn sat next to him with Little Danny on the other side of her. Sam took the chair on Little Danny's right. On the other side of the table, Jack sat across from his husband with Jonny to his left. Upon entry, Hammond, of course, would take his traditional chair at the end of the table, closest to the office.
As he settled in his seat, Jonny let out a groan.
"Oh," Jack chuckled. He looked around and finally went into Hammond's office. "Excuse me, General, but SG-Munchkins are whining because they don't quite sit up to par, if you know what I mean."
Hammond looked out his office window and smiled . He picked up the phone and dialed the infirmary. A moment later, he gave Jack a grin.
Returning to the briefing room, Jack told the triplets, "Grandpa handled it. The solution should be here in a couple of minutes."
"I hope so," Jonny sighed.
"What are you complaining about, Jonny Jackson-O'Neill. You can see. Look at me!" Aislinn practically cried.
"Munchkins, Dad said Grandpa is taking care of it. This is not a big deal, and we don't whine in the briefing room, not if you continue on SG-Munchkins in the future."
At first, Jonny felt dejected at his daddy's rebuke, but then he grinned. In fact, he was positively jovial.
"What is it, Jonny?" Little Danny asked.
"That means we get to go on more missions," Jonny told his siblings. "Daddy's not gonna be paranoid." Suddenly, he realized what he'd said and looked over at his younger father with a cautious expression. "I'm sorry, Daddy."
"It's all right, Jonny. I do get a little ... paranoid sometimes because I love you and I don't want you be hurt."
"We get to go through the Stargate again?" Little Danny asked calmly.
"If the opportunity is there, maybe," Daniel answered with a serious expression that he held for five seconds before smiling brightly at the children.
The triplets chuckled, until they saw other SGC personnel entering the room and heard the click that indicated the recording of the debriefing was starting. Right after that, a couple of nurses from the infirmary walked in with pillows. Quickly, the children became situated so that they now sat higher up at the conference table.
"I'm not whining, Daddy, but I wish the nurses had brought the pillows before they started recording," Jonny admitted.
Daniel smiled, but didn't say anything due to the entrance of General Hammond. Immediately, all personnel stood up. The children, though, were wide-eyed as they had just gotten comfortable and would need help again if they stood.
"At ease," Hammond ordered, motioning for the kids to stay seated.
"Thanks, Grandpa," Jonny returned. "I mean, Grandpa General Hammond, Sir."
"SG-Munchkins, it's good to have you back safe and sound. Report."
"Well, our mission was to learn about the young Nox. No one has ever talked to them before, so we did, and this is what we found out," Jonny began.
It took the children over an hour to tell everything they thought they should during the session. Even so, they had even more to write up in the report.
"Then we walked through the Stargate, but we weren't back at SGC," Aislinn stated.
"We left a note for you on the Stargate and went exploring," Little Danny interjected.
"Because that's what SG teams do," Jonny added.
Jack and Daniel exchanged a look when the triplets seemed to hesitate. They had all been very vocal while talking about the Nox, but now none of them appeared anxious to speak.
"Go ahead," Jack instructed.
As the leader of SG-Munchkins, if only by his own making, Jonny believed it was his duty to speak up and lead the report on what they'd seen on the planet.
"We think we saw a planet being sucked into a black hole," Jonny informed the adults solemnly.
Alarmed, Sam responded, "Jonny, black holes are very destructive. Anything that goes near them would probably be pulled inside and very possibly destroyed."
Daniel leaned forward as the kids once again went silent and bowed their heads.
"It's okay," the archaeologist soothed. Protectively, he reached out and caressed Aislinn's back. He smiled, a reminder the children were safe and home with their parents. Calmly, Daniel requested, "Tell us what you saw that makes you believe you were near a black hole."
"People," Aislinn whispered. "We saw ... people."
Jack and Daniel studied their children closely, looking for signs the experience had been too much for them. Both were ready to pull the plug on the debriefing if the signs of distress became too much.
"What were the people doing?" Daniel queried softly.
"Nothing," Little Danny answered, his hands were interlaced, but fidgeting. He was staring down at the long brown table as he spoke. "They were running, I think, but to us, they were just standing there, looking like they were running. They're dead now, aren't they?" he asked as a tear ran down his cheek.
Daniel looked over at Sam, who couldn't help herself. In a very un-military response, she twisted her chair around and reached over to move Little Danny's chair so that they were facing each other. She wanted the boy to see directly into her eyes.
"Very specifically, we don't know what happens when an object enters a black hole. There are a lot of theories, but that's all the are. The one thing scientists most strongly agree on is that once inside the hole, an object cannot come back out. Little Danny, we can't say for one-hundred percent certain what happens and most likely, we'll never know."
"They might be alive?" the sensitive youth surmised hopefully.
Sam sighed. The Jackson-O'Neills were strong believers in the truth, no matter what. Still, she heard Aislinn sniffle, even as she reached out to wipe away a second tear that fell from the middle Munchkin's eyes.
"There's no way of knowing, but even if they are, the odds are they aren't living much of a life, not if they're floating around this large expanse of space. If they are dead, it's probably a blessing. I know that's hard for you and I wish I could say something to make you feel better about what you saw, but the only thing I can say is that whatever happened, time was so slow for them, they didn't feel anything. They just stopped like everything around them."
Sam hugged the boy and gave a smile to Jonny and Aislinn before returning to her seat, where she looked at Hammond and said, "Sorry, Sir."
"Nothing to apologize for, Colonel," Hammond stated. After a moment, he asked, "Is there any chance the Munchkins witnessed another phenomenon? Could there be another explanation for what they saw?"
"Well," Sam began.
"Aunt Sam," Aislinn interrupted, "the clouds were different, too."
"And the wind," Jonny noted.
"And it followed us," Little Danny revealed, wiping away a third tear and moving forward as he knew was necessary. "We ran really fast and no matter how far we ran, when we looked backed, the things that used to move, weren't moving anymore."
"I wish we knew that address so we could block it," Sam sighed.
"Carter, could they have gone near P3W-451?" Jack asked in reference to a nasty black hole SG-1 had to deal with back in 1999.
"Actually, Sir, if you remember, the bomb caused the wormhole to jump to P2A-270."
"Carter, if *you* recall, that bomb landed me in the infirmary."
"Jack!" Daniel reprimanded.
Jack looked at the Munchkins and sighed, "Kids, it's a long story, but I'm here, so nothing to worry about, right?"
"Right," the Munchkins all responded in sync.
Looking back at Sam, Jack questioned, "Could the kids have been on 270 or somewhere near there?"
"That was several years ago, Sir. The odds are that anything near 270 has been ..." Sam paused, not wanting to upset the children, especially after she'd tried to ease their pain over the almost certain deaths of the people on the planet they'd first gated to, "... transported."
Jack and Daniel both saw Sam's change in expression and the message in her eyes. They chose not to pursue the line of questioning any further and leave it to the current crop of SG scientists to deal with the issue. They had their hands full with three very young children who apparently had seen more than they bargained for in the last two days.
"Okay," Daniel interrupted in a calm and steady tone. "How did you get off the planet?"
"Little Danny dialed the Stargate," Jonny answered.
"And that brings me to my first recommendation for my daddy," Little Danny stated.
"Ah ... okay, what?"
"You need to teach me some Gate addresses to safe places because I didn't know what glyphs to choose. I had to guess," the Munchkin replied.
"Oh gawd," Daniel sighed, realizing the triplets could have ended up on a slew of bad and dangerous planets. "We'll, ah, do that, for sure, yes, we will."
"I think he gets it, Danny," Jack teased, needing a light moment to get through the intensity of the kids' report.
"Jonny had to get on the DHD to help me dial because I couldn't reach up that high. Ash helped later, too."
"Amen to Jonny's height," Jack sighed in recognition that his namesake was on the tall side for his age.
"So you dialed an address that you ... guessed and went through the Stargate," Daniel surmised, getting three bobbing heads in response. "Okay, then what?"
Aislinn began the tale of the next planet, saying, "We didn't know where we were, but there were a lot of people who looked like they were having a party or something. At first, they were very nice, but then one of them grabbed me."
"Dad, is it okay to hit someone if they grab Ash?" Jonny asked as his ire over the situation returned.
Jack looked at Daniel, who looked straight back into his eyes, and answered simply, "Yes."
"Ash, continue," Hammond instructed.
The girl told her story and how the triplets fled, thanks to the inhabitants being very slow runners.
Hammond looked at Jack and queried, "At this point, General, I would like to verify that Doctor Lam did a full and complete examination on SG-Munchkins, as is normal procedure for any team when they return from this type of mission."
The major general appreciated what the lieutenant general was saying. He'd done an excellent job covering up his real question that hung on Aislinn's physical and mental state.
"She did, Sir. The entire SG-Munchkins team passed with flying colors," Jack responded.
"Very well," Hammond acknowledged, relieved to hear the answer.
"By the way, Carter, you and Shanahan joining us for dinner tonight?" Jack questioned in a normal tone of voice.
"Wouldn't miss it, Sir," Sam responded, understanding the hidden meaning of the request.
Hammond understood the truth behind the dinner invitation as well and with it answered to his satisfaction, he ordered, "Munchkins, continue with your report."
Little Danny took over and began, "On the next planet we explored, we found a rusty trowel and an old, broken bucket. Dad, Daddy, Cha'ka says hello."
Jack just about fell out of his chair and Daniel was agape at what they'd just heard.
"You were with the Unas?" Jack questioned while still trying to contain himself.
"They took care of us overnight. Cha'ka fed us and let us sleep. He and his friends carried us all the way to their cave home and then back to the Stargate. They were very nice. I taught Cha'ka some new words, too."
"He likes to learn," Daniel replied in amazement. "Tell us about your stay with Cha'ka."
Little Danny talked for a half-hour about the triplets' adventure with the Unas and when he was done, Jonny had a question.
"Dad, do you like Cha'ka and the Unas?"
Jack didn't need to look at his husband to see the warning glare. He knew it was there. He also knew that he had to contain his natural suspicion. He let out an evasive cough as he struggled for the answer.
"Why would you ask me that?"
"Well, Cha'ka kept talking about Daddy and saying that Daddy was ka nay," the oldest Munchkin responded.
"Ka nay?" SG-1's team leader question.
"Friend," Daniel informed with a tiny smile.
"And he growled when I asked him about you."
Daniel lowered his head and was unsuccessful in his attempt to mask his chuckle.
"Cha'ka and I have an understanding," Jack put forth. "He doesn't hurt Daddy and I let him ..."
"Jack!" the warning was spoken in a loud, sharp tone.
"... and I let him do whatever it is Unas do," Jack replied, having altered his response. ~Daniel's right. The kids don't need to hear that. Old habits,~ he sighed.
"Daddy," Little Danny called out.
"What does zo mean?"
"When Jonny asked Cha'ka about Dad, after he growled, he said Dad's name and then zo, but I don't know what zo means."
With a smile, Daniel answered, "In this case, Son, zo means respect. Cha'ka was saying that while he and Dad are not really good friends, that they respect each other for who they are and for the alliance that we share." He stared at Jack with a tiny smirk and added, "Would that be a fair statement, Jack?"
Feeling a bit cornered but okay with Daniel's answer to the Munchkin, Jack nodded and agreed, "That's a fair statement." He looked at the Munchkins and affirmed, "There's an understanding and respect for our worlds being allies. Fair enough?"
With the friendship question answered, Jonny took the floor to continue the Munchkins' report.
"Oh, I need my backpack," Jonny requested.
"Here you go, Sport," Jack stated as he retrieved the item and handed it to his son.
Jonny smiled, a big wide smile. He always did when his older father used that nickname for him. It was special, because the nickname originally belonged to Charlie, Jack's first son. Now Jack used it for him and David and sometimes Ricky, too. It didn't matter who was on the receiving end of the name because it was considered a special name filled with love for all of the boys.
The oldest Munchkin reported on the strange white liquid and what they had heard about the cleansing. That's when he opened his backpack and pulled out the cup that was surrounded in a plastic baggy.
"I brought some back."
"Oh my gosh," Sam spoke in response as she stood up and took possession of the liquid. "Uh, Jonny." Sam stopped and looked at Jack, who gave her a nod. "Jonny, you never bring something back from another planet without first telling General Hammond, or whoever is in charge."
"Well, we don't know what this is or what kind of effect it might have on humans."
"You've never brought anything back from off-world?"
"Oh, gawd," Sam sighed, sounding a lot like Daniel. "It's a rule, Jonny, and we try not to break it so that everyone stays safe." Calmer now, Sam expounded, "And the reason we have that rule is because, yes, a lot of us used to bring things back, things that ended up being dangerous. That's why we have the rule."
"Okay, Aunt Sam," Jonny acknowledged.
"Sir, with your permission ..."
"Tend to it, Colonel," Hammond ordered, allowing Sam to take the liquid to a safety area for examination.
"Did we really do something wrong?" Little Danny asked emotionally.
"It's all right, Son," Daniel assured. "We'll talk about it a little more later."
"Jonny, what did you learn about this liquid?" Hammond queried.
Jonny told Hammond everything they'd overheard and what the man with the wagon had shouted at them while they were running away.
"We don't know what it is, but they think it's something great," Jonny concluded.
By this time, with the liquid secured, Sam rejoined the briefing.
"Dad, Daddy, Aunt Sam," Little Danny began. He couldn't help but smile as he said, "Gairwyn says hello."
"You have got to be kidding," Sam laughed while the parents simply shook their heads in amazement.
"Gairwyn," Hammond stated. "Cimmeria, correct?"
"Yes, Sir," Sam responded.
"That's where Teal'c and I ended up in that tunnel maze," Jack recalled with a mock shiver.
"I recognized the hammer from the story you told me, Daddy," Little Danny admitted. "We went looking for her and she took us to the Hall of Thor's Might."
"And you contacted Thor there," Daniel surmised.
"Uh-huh, and he came and brought us home. He was gonna bring us on his ship, but they were in the middle of their own mission, so he said he'd come with us and go back to his ship."
Everyone discussed the events on Cimmeria and then Little Danny asked, "Why doesn't Cimmeria have a GDO? I know they aren't advanced, but they know us, and they know Thor, and maybe they'll need help again someday." He looked at Daniel and said, "Gairwyn told us about the box and she said they don't use the Stargate themselves to go anywhere, but what if they need us? They're our friends. Shouldn't they have a GDO?"
Little Danny's gaze shifted from Daniel to his grandfather, who met the gaze firmly.
"Sergeant Davis," Hammond called out loudly.
Within seconds, Davis appeared in the room and called out, "Yes, Sir?"
"Prepare a GDO for Gairwyn on Cimmeria and have SG-2 deliver it tomorrow. I want Colonel Ferretti to personally ensure Gairwyn has a full understanding of its operation and use."
Davis nodded and started to walk out.
"Sergeant," Hammond called out. "Make sure Gairwyn gets our thanks for assisting SG-Munchkins and tell her we are in her debt and Cimmeria is to contact us at any time."
"Sir," Davis acknowledged and then left the room.
"Your recommendation has been considered and approved," Hammond told Little Danny with a smile.
"Grandpa, we have another rec'mendation," Aislinn stated.
"Proceed," Hammond responded with a nod.
Looking around the table, Aislinn paused a moment before saying, "We don't know all the rules here and Jonny knows more than me about the Air Force and the Stargate, but we think everyone should be able to go through the Stargate."
Little Danny knew what his sister was referring to and elaborated, "Maybe a new rule could be made so that people who have worked here a long time can go through the Gate if they want."
**Danny, who are they talking about?** Jack asked.
**I'm not sure.**
"Even civilians," Jonny interjected.
"We have a lot of personnel who have requested permission to go with a team through the Stargate, but there is a risk for untrained personnel to do so and a cost factor in training them appropriately."
"Grandpa, if they're trained to protect us then aren't they good enough to go through the Stargate?" Little Danny asked.
"We get to go," Aislinn stated in the belief that said a lot about who should be allowed to go through. "And Jen and David."
"I bet a lot of people go through who aren't trained," Jonny added.
"Why can't they go with Dad and Daddy sometimes?" Aislinn added.
Eagerly, Little Danny added, "Or with Colonel Davis. He does peaceful negotiations."
The kids continued to hit their grandfather with reasons and ways SGC personnel should be allowed to go through the Stargate. They were adamant about it, especially for staff who had been assigned to the Mountain for a long period of time.
"Hold on," Hammond finally interrupted, holding his hands out, palms facing the children in a physical sign for them to stop.
"Much of your recommendation makes sense. I can't make any promises, but I'll have a review done and we'll see what we can do for the future." As an afterthought, he added, "I'll ask General Landry for his opinion in moving forward."
The children grinned and couldn't help but let go with a few cheers.
**They have someone in mind, Danny.**
**I think I know who.** Daniel leaned forward, his hands clasped together on the large conference table. "General, in moving forward, maybe it might be a good idea to have a, ah, a sort of sample participant."
"Do you have someone in mind, Doctor Jackson?" Hammond inquired.
Glancing briefly at the triplets and hoping his guess was accurate, Daniel answered, "Yes, Sir, I do." After a beat, he continued, "Technical Sergeant Tracey O'Connor. She's been assigned to SGC since 2000. I believe she would make an excellent candidate for a trip through the Stargate."
"I concur, Sir," Jack quickly noted, having seen the broad smiles on the Munchkins' faces when Daniel mentioned Tracey's name.
"Me, three," Jonny added.
"Me, four," Aislinn chimed.
"And me, five," Little Danny stated with great enthusiasm. "Tracey deserves to go through the Stargate, and she really wants to, too."
"Very well," Hammond acknowledged, silently thinking there were some realistic opportunities that could await Sergeant O'Connor and others like her.
The meeting lasted another twenty minutes before Hammond stood up and announced, "Dismissed." He smiled and requested, "Now come give your grandpa big hugs."
The children got off their chairs and ran to Hammond.
"That was the best Christmas present ever, Grandpa," Aislinn said as she engaged in a group hug.
"It was fun, Grandpa. Thank you for giving us a mission for Christmas," Little Danny added.
"I wanna go again," Jonny expressed earnestly. "Thanks, Grandpa. I love you."
More hugs and expressions of love were made before Hammond left the room and readied himself to go home. Before that, though, he would wait for every SG team that had been searching for the children to return. Ten teams were still off-world at this point.
"Well, I'm going home," Sam told the family.
"We're not sure what time dinner will be ready," Daniel noted. "We'll give you a call later."
"You can bring Shanahan," Jack teased.
"I'll ask him. Thank you, Sir." Sam hugged the children, and it was another tight hold. "I was worried about you three. You scared me. Don't do that again," she requested emotionally.
"We love you, Aunt Sam," Little Danny declared, giving her a kiss.
"Munchkins," Sam laughed. "I love you, too. I'll see you later."
As Jack and Daniel headed out with their children, Little Danny asked, "Dad, Daddy, was I right about Cimmeria, I mean, about you being our parents?"
"Probably," Daniel answered. "I'm guessing you weren't very happy about the cover up, but it was the right thing to do. You have to honor and respect other cultures when you're off-world and when you're on their planet, you have to behave according to their rules. I don't think they would have understood and it might have led to trouble."
"Like it does here sometimes, too," Jonny sighed.
"Prejudice is everywhere, Jonny," Jack responded. "It's getting better, but we still have a long way to go. Like Daddy said, when you're off-world, even if pulls at your gut, you have to go by their rules, when you can." He looked at Daniel for a second and his mind also went to his 2IC. ~Most of the time anyway,~ the general thought, silently recalling several incidents over the years where SG-1 butted in as morality overtook any unwritten directive about not interfering with other cultures. ~What directive? It's always been butt in and get what we need. That's the real world, not the world according to Roddenberry.~
When the family returned home, Jack and Daniel thanked Mrs. Valissi for staying the night and tending to the non-Munchkins. It was early evening and the Munchkins were told by their parents not to say anything about their mission until expressly told it was okay. There were three reasons for that. First, the lovers knew their children had kept the secret of the Stargate for years, but they'd just completed a rather adventurous mission. Jack and Daniel wanted to know if the children could keep quiet about something so monumental, even to their siblings.
**I don't like testing them like this, Jack,** Daniel had communicated as his lover drove home in the truck with the kids in the back seat.
**Danny, what is it we keep reminding ourselves of when it comes to the brood? They're still kids. No matter what happens or what we're talking about, their education, their trustworthiness, or the Stargate, they are still kids. This is gonna be tough. The brood knows about the Nox, but Jonny is itching to talk about meeting the creature from the faraway planet ...**
**Okay, Cha'ka the Unas. Jonny can't wait, and Little Danny is chomping at the bit to talk about Cimmeria, and Ash ...**
Daniel had heard the sigh and communicated, **She has something more difficult to share and she can't keep that inside.**
**That Jewhateveritis is darn lucky all that moron actually did was pull her hair,** Jack had barked mentally. Regrouping, he had continued, **Danny, this is a chance to make sure the kids really do get it. We both know how friggin' hard it is to keep the secrets of the Stargate. If they can do this and wait for our okay, then the next generation of SG-1 could be the Munchkins.**
**Jen and David have proven themselves in the Teen Gater Exchange Program. They rarely say a word about their experiences with the other children.**
**And that's my point, difficult as it is for us as parents, we need to know how the kids respond when it's not a family crisis. That we know they're good at, but ...**
**... but what if it's a great adventure they want to share,** Daniel had completed for his husband. **Okay, I'm in. Let's see how they are through dinner. If Thor comes, the other children will be even more curious.**
**It adds to the challenge,** Jack had suggested. **If they get through dinner, we let them loose with their tales. Agreed?**
The second reason for keeping things quiet was that Jack and Daniel wanted to give Sam a chance to speak with Aislinn. They would be as well, of course, but the lovers always realized that sometimes a girl needed her mother. Sam was a mother to the brood and before revealing all to a bunch of question-asking brood, it was more important to ensure that their original miracle was okay.
The final reason was that even though JD was named after Thor, he was way too young to understand what the Stargate was about. The toddler was not even two years old yet. Before the big reveal, JD needed to have dinner and fall asleep in his nursery.
As the Munchkins were greeted by the brood as soon as they'd walked in the door, Jack and Daniel saw something they hadn't discussed.
**She knows, Babe. She doesn't know exactly what, but Jen knows something happened.**
**So does David,** Jack advised.
Daniel looked over at the tweener and sighed, **You're right. He knows, too.**
Though both Jennifer and David had the sense that the SG-Munchkins were returning from a more complicated mission than intended, neither let on to their siblings and neither said a word to their parents. They did give the Munchkins more of a visual examination than the other kids, but other than that, both Teen Gaters remained quiet about their suspicions.
Sam and Pete arrived for dinner and after hugs and greetings with the entire brood, Daniel directed his friend to Jack's study and closed the door, something that Jack knew Jennifer was totally aware of. In fact, the general noticed his oldest daughter approach Aislinn and engage her in some one-on-one conversation.
~Psych evaluation,~ Jack determined.
A couple of minutes later, Sam and Daniel joined the others and participated in the main topic of conversation, the Nox. Eventually, the kids began to play before being called to dinner, which Jennifer was fixing with the help of Chenoa and Ricky.
Finally, there was a moment when Aislinn wasn't surrounded by a worried older sister or many of her siblings.
"Ash, would you help me with something?"
"Sure, Aunt Sam."
"See, I have a problem and I need your advice. Can we talk?"
"I'll help you," Aislinn agreed.
Sam smiled and took the girl's hand. As Jack and Daniel watched, Sam took Aislinn to the Bird's Nest, the one room in the house that was set aside for the female family members only.
Sitting down on a floor pillow, Sam smiled and teased, "If these walls could talk."
Aislinn nodded and replied, "I talk to Mommy a lot when I'm here."
"Your mommy was a beautiful woman. You look a lot like her," Sam put forth, seeing a lovely smile on the girl's face.
"I look like Daddy, too."
Sam merely smiled, not wanting to delve into the genetics of the Jackson-O'Neill children. She actually wasn't privy to the details of who was the natural father of each child, but after years of observation, she believed she had a good idea of whose DNA flowed within the Munchkins and the Spitfires.
"Ash, do you want to talk about what happened on Jejtujal? You don't have to, but I'm here if you do."
Aislinn was quiet, so Sam stayed quiet as well for a couple of minutes. Then she decided to share something very personal to her.
"You know, I was kidnapped once on a mission," Sam confided.
"We were on a planet where women were objects and not equals to the men. They had to wear these really awful dresses and veils over their faces. One of the chieftains decided I would make a good addition to his harem. I didn't think so, but I had to go along for awhile because I couldn't find a way to escape."
"Well, the women were getting tired of being in the background. They helped me to escape and then your fathers and Teal'c found me. We went back and I fought the chieftain."
"You won, huh!" Aislinn boastfully assumed.
"I did kick some butt, and the women began to stand their ground. They have a ways to go, but they don't always wear those dresses anymore and the veils are gone for good. The men are listening more, so it's progress," Sam explained. "But while I was captured, it wasn't fun."
"Were you scared?"
"Not really," Sam admitted. "I knew something the chieftain didn't."
"I know!" Aislinn responded excitedly. Responding to Sam's nod to take a guess, the little girl stated, "You knew Dad and Daddy and Teal'c would find you."
"I did," Sam affirmed with a nod. "But, way down deep, I knew I had to survive until I could find a way out or SG-1 had a chance to find me." She leaned forward and took hold of Aislinn's hands as she reminded, "Ash, I was a kick 'em and take 'em down woman who had spent years proving that I was as good as any man, if not better. I had oodles of military training. I wasn't afraid because I didn't think anything could harm me. My bravado was gigantic."
"Bravado," Sam repeated. "It means being acting like you're so tough that nothing can touch you. Sometimes, being in the military means having a lot of bravado, even when it's not such a good idea."
"Because we stand up and act like nothing can hurt us when that's the furthest thing from the truth."
"Like Jonny?" Aislinn inquired.
"Why would you say that, Ash?"
"Because he wants to be just like Dad and Daddy, and he thinks he is, right now, but he's only a little boy, like I'm a little girl, and sometimes, he tries to protect all of us, even if he's too little to really protect us."
"That's bravado, and lots of love."
"I know," Aislinn acknowledged. "Someday, Jonny really will be a general. He'll be just like Dad and Daddy. He's a great little general, but ..."
"I worry about him sometimes. Jenny's that way, too. When she was really little, she was afraid sometimes. She doesn't get afraid very much anymore."
"The truth is that all of you are very brave, and that's probably because of your parents. It's not a bad thing, Ash, but it's good that you think about it and are aware of it. I wouldn't be surprised if Jonny doesn't think about it, too."
Aislinn still had her hands in Sam's when she sighed, "I was scared for a minute on that planet. It wasn't when he pulled my hair. I can fight. It hurt for a few seconds, but it just made me mad."
"So when were you scared?"
"He pulled me really close and wouldn't let go. He put his hand on my shoulder and I didn't like it. I was mad, but then I was scared because I couldn't get free right away."
"It's okay to be scared, Ash," Sam assured, letting go of the girl's hands and taking her into a protective hold.
Aislinn happily scooted into Sam's embrace and settled onto her lap while leaning her head against Sam's chest.
"I knew I could get away, after I relaxed. I mean, when he touched me, it scared me, and I couldn't do anything, for a second."
"That's normal, Ash."
"Then I remembered who I was, what Teal'c taught us, and that I really wanted to get home to Dad and Daddy and the brood and our zoo, so then I stopped being scared and I just got madder. That's when I got away."
"You did great, Ash. I'm so proud of you." Sam was swaying a bit, an action that not only soothed the child in her arms, but herself as well. "Ash, never, ever let anyone touch you where you don't want to be touched. I don't care who they are or what's happening around you, you do whatever you have to do to get away, just like you did on Jejtujal." Her cheek atop Aislinn's head, Sam added, "It's okay to be afraid as long as you're smart at the same time."
"And kick butt?"
Sam chuckled, "And kick butt."
Aislinn twisted around a bit and put her arms around her aunt as she declared, "I love you, Aunt Sam."
"I love you, too, Ash. Anytime you need someone to talk to, an adult, I'm here for you, and so are Aunt Janet and Aunt Sara."
"My living mommies," Aislinn acknowledged.
"Thank you," Sam sighed contently at the reference. ~Geez, I never thought I could do this. I never really knew I wanted to. Do I?~ Holding the beautiful youngster in her arms, the colonel didn't feel like colonel. She didn't feel like a military expert or a scientist. ~Wow, I feel like ... like I'm a mother.~
Sam continued to hold Aislinn in her arms and together they talked a bit more about what happened and the strength and courage exhibited by the Munchkins on their mission.
A few minutes later, Sam and Aislinn joined the others downstairs. This time, it was Jack who had the best opportunity to speak with his 2IC.
"How's she doing?" Jack questioned as he and Sam stood near the entryway of the home, far enough away from the others to talk privately for a minute.
"She's doing great," Sam answered with a smile. "He didn't hurt her physically. He put his hands on her shoulder and pulled her in pretty close, and that's what bothered her the most; mentally, she's a *strong* little girl, Jack. I think she'll be ready to tell you and Daniel how she felt in a day or two."
"What's your assessment of Ash going off-world again?"
Sam chuckled, "Sir, if you don't let her go, you'll have a Munchkin rebellion on your hands. She's as curious as her brothers. I actually think this experience helped her." Sam knew that would irk her commanding officer, so she quickly threw up her hands and urged, "Wait. What I'm saying is that Ash learned she can take care of herself when she's off-world. She wasn't frightened all that much about traveling from one planet to the next. Sure, she wanted to come home, but she knew down deep that you and Daniel would find them. Once she fought off the Jejtujal male, she wasn't scared again, not even for a second."
"Space Family Jackson-O'Neill proceeds then."
"I don't think you can stop it, not as long as they want to go." Sam drew and breath and added, "I don't know that Ash wants to do this full time, not like Jonny and Little Danny might, but she doesn't want to be excluded, either, especially now that her confidence has grown so much."
"Everything okay?" Pete asked, concerned there might be a problem.
"Your better half was giving me some advice, and now I'm gonna find my husband," Jack returned, looking back at Sam with a thankful expression and then walking away.
"Dinner's ready," Jennifer announced.
Most of the children and the Shanahans headed for the large table in the hospitality room and sat down. Jennifer and her helpers finished off their meal preparation duties and began to place food on the table. Jack and Daniel also stepped in to assist.
As Jennifer gave the mashed potatoes a last whip by hand, Daniel stood at her side, putting fresh baked rolls onto a platter.
Just before lifting up the platter to take it to the table, Daniel whispered, "She's fine, Jen. Your concern is appropriate, but Ash is fine. No, she's not fine. She's good. You'll hear about it soon. Stop worrying." The father gave his daughter a kiss on the cheek before adding, "Oh, and, Jen, thanks for not asking."
With that, Daniel carried the large platter of rolls to the table.
Jennifer smiled, glancing over at her daddy for a split second before completing her food task. She felt like she could breathe again and couldn't wait to hear what had happened to the Munchkins. Her concern for Aislinn didn't fade, but she now knew the little girl was really okay. She was certain about this because she knew in her heart that her parents would never lie to her.
~That's why they didn't call home last night or this morning. They didn't want to tell us about ... whatever yet, and they didn't want to lie, either.~
Now content to wait for the full story, Jennifer finished serving dinner.
As the diners were enjoying their soups and salads, a flash of light appeared.
"I apologize for being late," Thor stated as he walked to the table. "Little Thor, hello."
"Hey, don't we get a hello, too?" Jack mused.
"As you wish," Thor replied. "Hello people of Earth."
"You're doing that on purpose," Jack accused.
Sitting down next to JD's high chair, Thor looked up and asked, "Why does JD not sit at your table?"
"He's too little to reach the table and he still needs to be supported," Daniel answered.
"He won't be in a high chair very much longer," Jack added.
"Little Thor, you are a strong baby. You must overcome your need for this high chair."
"You just don't like having to look up at him," Jack teased. "Potatoes?" he asked, picking up the bowl and offering it to the Asgard. "You don't eat, do ya?"
"We are clones, O'Neill, as you are aware."
The children chuckled at the exchange and then proceeded to enjoy their dinner. Thor mostly observed and didn't say much. Being one of the Asgard's elite and most perceptive leaders, the alien quickly realized that the non-Munchkins were not aware of recent events. Thus, he, too, remained silent on the subject.
A cough was heard at the far end of the table, causing Sam to speak up and say, "Um, Thor, this is my husband, Pete Shanahan."
Thor looked over at the man and replied, "The Asgard approve of Colonel Carter's mate."
"Ahhhh, thanks," an amused Pete returned.
"That's it? One look and Shanahan gets the Asgard okay?" Jack mocked.
"Colonel Carter would not choose a mate who is not worthy of the honor," Thor asserted. As a side remark, he added, "He was here when Little Thor was born."
"Yeah, I was," Pete acknowledged. "We didn't get a chance to say hello."
"Hello," Thor responded.
Jack chuckled, "Good one, Thor." His response was a firm stare from the alien. "That was a joke. Admit it."
"The Asgard do not joke."
"And I suppose they don't bob their head yes. You gave me a head bob all those years ago, and you know it."
"You remember odd things, O'Neill."
Jack shrugged, unable to deny the charge, something that caused those at the table to laugh at.
After twenty minutes, Thor excused himself, needing to return to his duties on The Daniel Jackson.
"Ship's getting kinda old, isn't it?" Jack's jealousy forced him to ask.
When Pete looked at Sam, the woman quietly explained, "The Asgard named a ship after the general. It was destroyed. Their next ship was named after Daniel."
"The Daniel Jackson remains one of our top vessels. It has been updated to our current system capabilities and protections."
"Peachy," Jack returned. Then he smiled, "We're glad you came, Thor, and thanks."
Thor nodded and in a flash of light disappeared.
"Out of curiosity, do those Roswell dudes know about Thor?" Pete asked.
"Nope," Jack answered. "We like to keep Thor a secret and let the conspiracy hounds keep guessing."
"Even though you know the truth," Pete replied.
"Politics," Jack groaned. "Right hand, left hand, over head, under the belly: they don't talk to each other and when they do, they don't share."
"It's one of the reasons we're retiring next month," Daniel interjected. "There's a time and a place for secrecy, and then there's not ... a time and a place for secrecy."
"Are you talking about the Stargate, Daddy?" David questioned. "Do you think the Stargate shouldn't be a secret anymore?"
Jack and Daniel had never discussed their beliefs with anyone before, at least, nothing in depth. They glanced at each other and paused to see who would tackle the response.
Finally, Daniel answered, "We think it should be discussed."
"The whole thing is so big now. The international angle keeps growing. I'm not as on board as Danny is on going public, but I agree it's worth discussion."
"Sooner or later, it has to come out," Daniel asserted.
"I'm not sure how people would react," Jack admitted.
"I'm not sure, either, Jack, but one of these days, something is going to happen that can't be explained away and then the world will have to know."
"We survived threats from the Goa'uld, the Replicators, those blasted Ori," Jack groaned with a frown.
Quickly, Daniel argued, "And if we think that's all that's out there, we're wrong. We can't be as blind as our government was before the Stargate."
"I'm on your side, Danny. I'm open to the conversation, but I also know people are nuts. We have to consider their response."
"What do you think, Aunt Sam?" Jennifer questioned.
"I'm with your parents, both of them. The time will come when the military won't be able to keep the Stargate a secret, and I'm not sure we have a right to keep it quiet much longer."
"It never hurts to have a good debate," Pete put forth.
"Well, nothing is going to change for a while," Daniel sighed.
"Years," Jack opined. "They don't have the guts to fess up."
"That's the heart of it, isn't it, Jack?" Pete queried.
"Not until they cover their sixes with lots of camouflage, if you get my drift," Jack answered.
"What does that mean?" Chenoa asked Lulu, who shook her head in ignorance of the subject.
Jeff responded, "It means the government wants to make sure they don't end up looking bad ..."
"Liars," Jack sing-songed while munching on a carrot.
"What Dad said," Jeff continued. "They don't want us to think they've been keeping this a secret for no reason."
"Oh," Chenoa acknowledged.
"Curly Tops," Jack called out jovially. "How's the new routine coming along?"
**Good job, Babe,** Daniel praised regarding Jack's successful change in conversation since Chenoa and Lulu were both now chattering away about their latest dance composition.
**Thank you, Love,** Jack responded and then focused his attention fully on the happy dancers.
When dinner ended, Jack and Daniel told their children that they were having a special family meeting in the recreation room. Though Pete was headed home due to having an early shift the next day, Sam stayed in case she was needed.
"Let me, Sir," Sam requested, taking hold of JD with a smile.
Jack and Daniel both said goodnight to JD, giving him hugs and kisses before allowing Sam to take JD upstairs to his nursery and settle him down into a gentle slumber.
"That's very maternal of her," Jack quipped.
"Yeah," Daniel agreed and then turned away to help with the dinner cleanup.
Jack was about to join his family when he saw David off by himself. He was actually sitting outside on the patio, next to his telescope. The father sighed and walked casually outside. He sat down in one of the chairs on the patio and looked up at the night sky.
"Clear sky, great for stargazing," Jack remarked.
"Too cold," the tweener responded.
Jack looked over at David and asked, "What's on your mind, Son?"
The general knew that was a lie, but he also was aware that the lie was told in the spirit of keeping all things old-world secret. He leaned forward in his chair, clasping his hands together as he spoke.
"The Munchkins are a-okay. Nothing severe happened to Jonny and Little Danny." Jack saw the heightened look of concern on David's face. He quickly asserted, "Ash is good, too, David. She wasn't hurt. She was a little scared, but the Munchkins were together and they did a great job out there."
David looked at his father and asked, "Are you going to tell us what happened?"
With a nod, Jack answered, "Yes."
"At the family meeting?"
"And you didn't tell us before because you wanted to see if the Munchkins would tell us. That's the reason for the quiet, isn't it?"
Jack saw the challenge in his son's expression and demeanor. He opted to answer with the truth.
"David, we have an obligation to the Program. We don't always like it, but we're talking kids here. Yes, it was a test. I'm sorry, but sometimes, we have to do things like this to make sure our family is safe."
Not as accusatory as his last query, David questioned, "And beyond our family?"
"The most important thing in the world to Daddy and me is the safety of our family, but we do have a duty to the world. We know more than most what type of danger is facing us in the universe." Jack cocked his head and put up his hand to stop David from interrupting. "Son, you don't know the third of it about what's out there. Because of the Teen Gaters, you and Jen are privy to more information than most, but you don't know the worst of it. Someday, maybe we'll be able to share more of that with you and your brothers and sisters, but it's not happening now. That's the way it is. In the meantime, we're your parents, and we have to do a juggling act sometimes to balance what's best for us and what's best to protect everyone."
"If the Munchkins hadn't kept quiet ..."
"Then we would have to restrict whatever future participation might be out there for them. It would be hard, but we wouldn't have a choice. It's not just them, David, it's the safety everyone. Keeping secrets in the name of national or international or interplanetary security is important. If any of your brothers and sisters aren't capable of doing that then we have to change course."
"We do pretty good," David opined. He laughed lightly, "As Jonny would say, we're top notch at covert." He paused for a moment. "Dad?"
"Ash is really okay?"
"Yes, and you can ask her for yourself at the meeting, or maybe wait and see how she is in a few days."
"Hey, what's wrong?" Jack asked his son, seeing something he couldn't quite detect on the boy's face.
"I love the Stargate, Dad, and I know there are dangers, but I think this is the first time one of us might have been hurt."
"Son, the Stargate Program is serious business. It's not just the other planets, but the system itself is like some giant computer that I'll never understand."
"Is the risk worth it?"
It was a man's question, so that's how Jack chose to answer it.
"That depends on each individual. A lot of people would say no. We've dealt with a lot of politicians who never believed in the Program and who tried to shut us down." Jack paused. "Is the Stargate risky? Absolutely, but so is walking out that door," he pointed back towards the entryway of the home, "driving a car, going the movies, walking down the street, going shopping ..." he sighed as he thought for a moment. "David, everything in life is a risk. Just how big of a risk you want to take is up to you."
"Are you and Daddy still okay with us going through the Stargate?"
"We're talking about that."
"I still want to go. I guess what I'm saying is that the risks are more real now, even though I don't know yet what happened to the Munchkins. I only know it must have been scary for them."
"How do you know?" Jack questioned. "I know you've been watching them, but they've been their normal crazy little selves tonight."
"It wasn't them," David responded.
"You and Daddy avoided us last night. You always call, but you didn't. You called Mrs. Valissi and had her come over and you didn't call this morning, either. That's how I knew."
"Yeah, we made a decision. I don't know if it was the right one or not, but we were concerned and didn't want to leave the Mountain."
"Couldn't you have told Jen and let her tell us?"
Jack reached out and ran his hand through David's shaggy brown hair. He nodded and gave the boy a small smile.
"I hope there's never a next time, but if there is, Daddy and I will consider that as an option."
Pleading, David responded, "We're the brood, Dad. We're your kids. We can handle the truths. It's the secrets, I mean, it's the secrets we can't share, together, that are hard to handle. Does that make sense?"
"It makes perfect sense," the father replied. "Are we okay?"
"Yeah, we're good, Dad."
"I'm freezing my buns off out here. Let's go back inside."
After Jack and David stood, Jack put his arm around his son and led him into the house where they joined the rest of the family.
As the brood settled in, Jack paused to give Ptolemy, the family's hyacinth macaw, a cracker. He became aware that his lover was standing next to him.
"Is everything okay?" Daniel asked his husband.
"You're talking about David?"
"It looked like a pretty serious conversation."
"That it was, Danny," Jack admitted while giving Ptolemy one last treat. He looked around, gauging where the children were. "He made a good point about our decision not to tell the brood what was happening."
"Okay, well, you can tell me about it later. We'd better get the meeting started. It's already late and you know this is going to take awhile."
Jack nodded his agreement. He leaned in for a quick kiss before joining the kids and starting the meeting.
When the brood heard about the Munchkins' adventures over the past two days, they were surprised, shocked, concerned, angry, happy, excited, and a host of other emotions. Mostly, they were ecstatic that the triplets were all safe. Everyone listened as the Munchkins, with the permission of their parents, shared their tales. Afterward, the other children had a host of questions.
"Could a black hole swallow us?" Jenny asked, thinking the whole thing sounded horrible.
"Jenny, black holes are very far away from Earth," Sam began with an assuring smile. "Scientists agree that the nearest black hole is so far away that it's really an impossibility that Earth would ever be in danger."
"I don't understand what makes a black hole," Lulu admitted.
"A big monster with a great big suckee face," Jack teased.
"Dad!" several of the children objected.
"Sorry," the general replied. "Sometimes these kids are no fun at all."
When the laughter subsided, Sam answered in simple terms, explaining, "They're created by stars that die. Stars can live for millions of years. Think of stars as big balls of fire. As they burn, they convert hydrogen to helium, but after a very long time, they run out of fuel, like a car without any gasoline. When that happens, the star cools because there's nothing to keep it burning. Instead of being free flowing, the star gets heavier and heavier. Now, sometimes, the star explodes. We call that going supernova. The star collapses."
"It falls down?" Ricky questioned.
"No, Ricky, it sinks into itself and that creates a black hole. What that means is that the matter that made the star a star is still there, but it's crushed and it has a very big gravitational field that pulls things inside."
"I'll just watch a movie about it," the Spitfire returned, causing the family to share another laugh.
"Aunt Sam, why are there thirty-nine glyphs on the Stargate, but only thirty-eight on the DVD," the eagle-eyed Little Danny asked.
"Gosh," Sam expressed with a cock of her head. "The honest truth to that, Little Danny, is that we don't know."
"Daniel," Jack whispered, leaning over closer to his husband. "Is that true?"
"Oh." The older man had a funny look on his face as he whispered, "How come I don't know that." Daniel's stare was unmistakable, giving off a huge answer that could not be denied. "So I had other things to do."
"Babe, do you know how long it took me to teach you how to dial the DHD?"
"It wasn't that long."
Daniel's stare had the attention of the entire family and Sam, who couldn't help but snicker.
"Science was never my thing," Jack sighed.
Staring at Jack, Daniel asked, "Jonny, Little Danny, Ais, do you think it's important to learn how to dial the DHD?"
Three resounding yeses along with much laughter was heard.
"Hey, maybe Jen and I should learn. We never dial the Gate," David interjected.
"Training starts next week," Daniel advised, his eyes still focused on Jack.
Finally, Jack took a giant breath and admitted, "Okay, so I wasn't interested at first. It was your job. I didn't think I needed to know."
"But ..." Daniel prodded.
"I was wrong," Jack stated.
"Tell us, Dad," Chenoa requested. "You got in trouble with Daddy, huh? We want to know."
The cheers of encouragement filled the room, but Jack shook his head and stated, "That's a story for another time. I was wrong, though, and I agree that if you go through the Gate other than being a one- or two-time visitor, you should know how to get home. Now, we were talking glyphs. Carter!"
Sam continued, "We've never been able to come up with a reason why the DHDs are short a glyph, but something you may not know is that not all the DHDs have the same glyphs on them."
"I know," Little Danny acknowledged. "Some of them had an Earth glyph and some didn't. I only know the Earth glyph so I always looked for it."
"We aren't totally sure what the logic was when the Ancients created the Stargate system and the DHDs, but the working theory is to think of it like a bus line. Only certain buses run to specific areas on their route. In the case of a DHD, it's made to connect with certain Stargates in its route. That's why sometimes the glyphs are different."
"Maybe they just made a mistake when they made the DHDs," Jonny laughed.
Sam and Daniel exchanged an amused look that was confirmed when the colonel responded, "That's a possibility, too."
"Really?" the sandy-haired boy said.
"Really," Sam chuckled.
"There's a lot we know about the Stargate, and there's still a lot we don't know," Daniel concluded.
"How could you tell it was an ancient cymbal?" Brianna asked curiously when hearing about the man with the wagon and how he clanged on the cymbal to announce his presence on the planet that went through a cleansing ritual.
"Egyptians liked percussion instruments, like cymbals. I think they even invented cymbals, but I'm not sure. I'll have to look that up, but I think they did," the young genius rambled. "Ancient cymbals sound different from new ones, like hand bells. The man hit the cymbal at its edge and that's how ancient cymbals were played. You can clang them together or hit them in the middle like they do today." Little Danny shrugged and noted, "It just sounded like an ancient cymbal to me."
"You said it was a playing a C note," Jonny pointed out.
"Oh, yeah, it was, a high C," Little Danny confirmed. "Modern cymbals aren't tuned like that."
"Dad, Daddy, don't you think maybe Teen Gaters should have GDOs assigned to them?" Jennifer asked. "I know we always have an SG team with us, but the Munchkins had you."
"Why don't you talk to Grandpa about that," Jack suggested. ~I will, too. Done!~
At last, one of the longest family meetings ever concluded. The Munchkins were beyond tired, so as soon as they'd consumed their ice cream treat, they were tucked into their beds. The twins also went to bed. Sam also said goodnight and went home to be with her husband.
Jennifer spent a half-hour planning a special afternoon outing the next day that would be only for the girls. Her goal was to pamper Aislinn and make doubly sure that the Munchkin was absolutely okay after her ordeal on Jejtujal. At the same time, Jeff decided to do the same for the boys.
When Jack and Daniel went upstairs to do their nightly rounds, they discovered the triplets were fast asleep and all in Jonny's bed, including Aislinn. Their little hands were joined together.
**We're not going to wake them up, right?** Daniel inquired mentally, not wanting to disturb the children.
**Not a chance in Netu,** Jack agreed. **The girls are with them. They'll let us know if we have any nightmares to deal with,** he pointed out about the family beagles who were nestled in with the triplets.
**Jack, Ricky's not here.**
**Probably. Let's go look.**
The lovers suspicions were correct as Ricky had apparently gone to sleep with his twin, Jenny, though he was sleeping in Aislinn's bed. Both of the Spitfires were fast asleep.
**Long day,** Jack noted.
Things were more normal when the couple popped in to visit with the Curly Tops for a few minutes. The girls appeared unfazed by what they'd heard and were simply glad as can be that their siblings were safe.
After ensuring JD was sleeping comfortably, Jack and Daniel went to David's room. The twelve-year-old was at his desk, working on his computer.
"Hey," Jack called out. "What are you working on?"
Twisting around to face his parents, David answered, "I told Jen I'd write up our recommendation for regular Teen Gaters to be given GDOs."
"I don't think you'll have much of a problem," Daniel assured, certain the children's grandfather would always side with caution when their safety was at stake. ~And Jack is going to make it happen anyway.~
"We know, but it needs to be done right. We want to submit a well thought out recommendation so the Brass won't give Grandpa a hard time about it. And then there's General Landry. He's taking over next month, so he has to believe in it, too."
"Good point," Daniel praised.
"David, I want you to know that I am going to discuss what we talked about earlier with Daddy tonight. For now, I'd like to make sure you're okay," Jack stated, wondering if now that David knew the totality of the Munchkins' adventures he had any more concerns or thoughts.
"Things happen, Dad. I'll bet you and Daddy have experienced far worse," David responded in his normal voice and without any hesitancy. "Hey, that black hole thing you told us about tonight, it wasn't as simple as what you said, was it? I mean, that's the proof that things happen. We keep going because we have to. That's the price of exploration."
"You're growing up too fast," Jack chuckled. ~Is he really okay now or is he trying to cover?~ he pondered quietly.
"What really happened, with the black hole?" David inquired.
"That's not a story for tonight," Jack responded.
"Will you tell us, someday?"
Jack looked at his lover and then back as their son as he agreed, "Someday."
"It's late, David. Another half hour and then bed, okay," Daniel told the tweener.
The parents exchanged hugs and kisses with their son before leaving his room. They walked slowly down the hallway as the memory of the black hole experience was at the forefront of their thoughts.
Daniel reached over and took Jack's hand, grasping it firmly and supportively while asking, "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm okay. It's their faces, Danny. I'll never forget that look of terror on SG-10's faces as they tried to outrun that black hole."
"I wish I'd been there, with you, instead of on a dig with SG-6," Daniel replied.
"I'm glad you weren't there. You were safe, Danny, and that was the most important thing to me," Jack admitted as the lovers rounded the corner, headed for Brianna's room. "Besides, you were there to nurse me back to health."
"That was, uh, fun," Daniel mused. "Sam did a nice job with the Munchkins during the briefing."
"She lied, but gave herself an out," Jack sighed. Shaking his head, he conceded, "Hank Boyd and his team had their bodies pulled apart like a butcher butchering a cow. I know it, you know it, and Carter knows it, but she used the scientific escape of we don't have solid, absolute proof when talking to the kids."
"We don't, not really," Daniel replied. "Jack, science isn't absolute, and until we can see what's on the other side of a black hole, everything is a guess." He sighed, "I know. They're dead, but I'm glad our children are able to balance what probably happened with the very small chance that maybe we're wrong."
Jack nodded and then regrouped. He didn't want to upset Brianna whose bedroom was now only two yards ahead of him.
"On to the nextie," the general said to his archaeologist.
"To the nextie," Daniel agreed, although he paused to kiss his husband and say, "I love you, Jack."
"I love you, too, Angel, forever and always."
"And always and forever."
"Aerie?" Jack asked after thee lovers finished the last of their rounds.
"No, our roof deck," Daniel countered.
Jack understood the choice. Their roof deck was a place of many things, including moments of solace. The lovers had survived all kinds of mental challenges by spending time together there. In fact, it went back to the very beginning of their relationship, before they were lovers. Back then, they went outside and climbed a ladder to the deck. Now, after the renovation of their home in 2009, all they had to do to reach the roof deck was walk out the door in their master bedroom.
"I'll lock up and meet you there," Jack stated, kissing Daniel before heading for the patio door.
"I'll get the monitor in case JD wakes up," Daniel advised as he began upstairs.
A couple of minutes later, Jack walked onto the roof deck. Daniel was already sitting with his back to the wall. Jack stepped over his Love's outstretched legs to get to his usual position. As he sat down, he handed Daniel a drink.
"Beer?" Daniel questioned.
"Danny, tonight we're having a beer," Jack instructed.
Without argument, Daniel took the open bottle and took a swig, after which he commented, "I still don't like beer."
Jack laughed. Daniel's statement was one he'd been saying for years, but it certainly never stopped him from joining the older man in imbibing in the brew.
"We used to get so drunk up here. We had to sometimes just to survive everything we'd seen or done that day," Daniel reflected quietly.
Jack took a swig of beer without saying anything in reply.
"Babe, put on your coat," Daniel instructed, handing over the large coat that would keep his Love protected from the extreme cold of the night.
Jack was cold and appreciated having his coat handed to him. He was even happier that his Heart was firmly enwrapped in his own coat. Between the woolly items and the beer, he felt like the couple would be warm enough to have a good conversation outside before returning to their master bedroom where they could warm themselves in their own special way.
A few minutes of quiet reflection passed.
"So," Daniel sighed.
"So," Jack echoed.
"Are we making the right decision?" Daniel asked, turning his head to face Jack.
The older man sighed and took another drink from his bottle.
"Danny, do you know how many risks we take every day? I'm not talking the Stargate, just the normal stuff. Add that to the insanity that's happening out there anymore and we're lucky any of us are alive at the end of the day."
Daniel gazed upward at the stars in the sky, his thoughts turning to an exploding star somewhere in the Milky Way that created a black hole which almost devoured the Munchkins.
"We could stop them from going through the Gate until their eighteen," Daniel put forth.
Both men faced each other, brown eyes and blue eyes becoming one.
"Yeah, that's what I thought," Daniel sighed and then downed more of the beer.
"Danny, it's not like they're going to go through again tomorrow. Hammond's retiring like we are. Landry may not want the kids to go through," Jack stated. "It's the same with Jen and David. They love the Teen Gaters. It's Jen's program; she created it. I don't know that we have the right to yank her away."
"All during ice cream, the Munchkins talked about where they would go on their next mission." Daniel shook his head and mused, "Ash was accosted and all three saw death right in front of them and all that was important before bedtime was thinking about their next mission."
Daniel looked at his husband whose eyes took on a pointedness that caused the archaeologist to smile for a moment.
"I know. Nothing ever stopped us, did it?" the archaeologist challenged lightly.
Jack reached over and squeezed his husband's hand. His expression was one of acceptance.
"Gawd, they're just like us, all of them. How many times have we said that?" Daniel asked.
"I can't count that high," the older man joked.
"They did a great job, Jack. They stayed focused, they stayed together, and in the end, they represented SGC as good as, if not better, than a lot of SG teams have done in the past. We can't stop them, not if the right opportunities pop up."
"Space Family Jackson-O'Neill," Jack mused. "They're our kids. We are who we are and they are an extension of us."
"Next time, Babe, we all go through together at the same time," Daniel asserted with strength and determination.
"Next time," Jack agreed.
"They loved talking with the Nox. It was the best Christmas present ever for theme," Daniel acknowledged. "Uh, Jack, General Hammond ..."
"I'll talk to him, but he knows the score. He's probably gone through this step by step five times already."
"And reached the same truth?"
"He's their grandfather," Jack stated, getting a nod from his husband.
"Jonny brought back a sample of that ... cleanse. That was smart."
"I, uh ... I think I'll start teaching Little Danny a few basic Gate addresses tomorrow and work up a full training lesson for all the, uh, Stargaters," Daniel laughed at the term he'd just created, "starting next week. Any objections?"
"Nope." Jack drank some more of the beer and reluctantly suggested, "Danny, maybe you should pay Cha'ka a visit and let him know that ..."
"... we're grateful?" the archaeologist interjected. "Yeah, I think I should do that." After a moment, he added, "We should also ..."
"... Gate over to Cimmeria and deliver the GDO in person?"
"Yep," Daniel concurred. "Lou won't mind if we tag along with SG-2 tomorrow." After a minute of peaceful silence, he asked, "Babe, what are we supposed to be discussing about David?"
"Ah, yeah," Jack responded. He told Daniel about the discussion, including David's suggestion that the children deserved to know about what was happening. "I don't know, Danny, but there was something about how he asked me about telling Jen and letting her tell them."
"That's a lot to put on her," Daniel replied. He sighed as he thought. "But ... well, she could handle it. She's handled a lot worse. I'm not sure I like the idea of not being here, though."
"What would we have done if noon had come?" Jack asked.
"I honestly don't know," Daniel answered as truthfully as he could.
"Neither do I, but in fairness to our brood, if there is a next time, maybe we should consider David's suggestion."
"We can talk about it," Daniel agreed. "But I don't want there to be a next time."
The lovers went silent, each lost in their own independent thoughts. They drank their beers and, though it was below freezing outside, they felt calm and happy on their roof deck.
"Danny," Jack called out while still holding and caressing his soulmate's hand. "Any regrets about all of this?"
"Us? Our lives at SGC? Retiring? Having an even dozen, some of who are a whole lot like us? Taking the children to work with us? Telling them about the Stargate? Letting them meet the Nox? Letting Jen create a program that has literally advanced our relationships with other worlds, one of which has resulted in significant advancements with three leading diseases in our world? Regrets? No, no regrets, Babe, only a ... a hope that their world is better than ours in the long run." Daniel gazed into his lover's eyes and asked, "You? Any regrets?"
"If I could, I'd keep our kids in our pockets, but I can't do that. That bubble we talk about sometimes," Jack began, shaking his head. "We can't keep the kids wrapped in a giant plastic baggie. As much as I bark, we can't hold them back, not even when they're engaged in being Space Family Jackson-O'Neill. No regrets."
"Okay, then, let's have another beer and then ... you know."
Jack grinned, kissed Daniel, and promised, "Be right back with two more."
Daniel looked up at the sky and mused, "Gawd, what would Child Protective Services think about us?"
The next morning, Jack and Daniel awoke and started their day off by checking in on the Munchkins.
"If they're still asleep, let's not wake them," Daniel suggested.
"Works for me," Jack agreed.
Opening the door to the boys' room, the parents were shocked to see the Munchkins gathered around Little Danny's computer.
"Avisa said some really good things," Aislinn noted as she searched for the page she wanted in her notebook.
"She said it wasn't easy to learn how to not interfere with other's choices," Jonny reminded.
"Yeah," Aislinn agreed. "I'll find it in a minute."
"The Nox don't like to get involved in the other worlds," Little Danny stated as he studied what he'd already typed into the word document the kids were working on for their mission report.
"They stick to themselves," Jonny added.
"But they're our friends," Little Danny refuted.
"Tanomani told me that we're way too young to really know their ways," Jonny replied. "It's funny, though, because of how they look and how they live. They aren't showy."
Little Danny pondered a thought for several seconds and then commented, "Shalaya said something interesting. She told me that the Nox's natural instinct is to help, but that as they grow, they learn to be true to their environment. What do you think that means?"
"Maybe it means they learn not to help," Jonny proposed.
"Why would parents teach their kids not to help one another," Aislinn questioned.
"They do help each other," Little Danny clarified.
"They just don't help anyone else," Jonny pointed out.
"I think we should ask Dad and Daddy how they met the Nox," Little Danny suggested.
"Found it," Aislinn interjected. "Avisa said it was hard not to help others. She said their first thoughts were to always help, but that the Nox learned long ago that help is often a ... I don't know this word. I wrote it by how it sounded."
Little Danny looked at his sister's notes and went syllable by syllable in his mind before saying, "Detriment. That means it's a bad thing. It holds people back."
"Like what we just did," Jonny asserted. "Ash, you'll probably remember because you're real smart, but Little Danny just told you that word and what it meant instead of you looking it up yourself."
"It always feels better when I find out something myself," Aislinn agreed.
"That's just a small thing, but I bet there are bigger things they think about," Little Danny surmised.
"But what if people's lives need saving?" Jonny argued. "Ya gotta help when people need help."
"And the Nox did help us," Jack interrupted as he and Daniel revealed their presence.
"Good morning," Daniel greeted, happy when the triplets all ran over for good morning hugs and kisses.
"We're working on our report," Jonny announced.
"We heard," Daniel replied.
"Daddy, Dad, will you tell us how you met the Nox?" Little Danny requested. "We don't understand how they like to keep to themselves, but yet are our friends. Don't friends help friends?"
"They do," the younger father acknowledged.
"And Daddy and I will discuss telling you that story later."
"That means there's stuff they don't want us to know," Jonny sighed.
"They think it's scary," Aislinn agreed.
"Well, after the last few days, maybe it's not as scary as we think," Daniel responded. "We'll think about it, okay."
Jack decided to speak up about one aspect of that first meeting and stated, "There is one thing I'll tell you now. When SG-1 first went to the Nox world, we brought the bad guys with us. We were determined to save the Nox."
"From the Goa'uld?" Jonny inquired.
"Yeah, the snakes," Jack confirmed. "Kids, the Nox told us from the get go that they didn't need our help, but we didn't believe them. We thought we were stronger and maybe even more intelligent. We assumed the Nox were weak and would be slaughtered by the Goa'uld. What's that saying about a book?"
In total sync, the Munchkins responded with the cliché, "You can't judge a book by its cover."
"We did, and boy, were we wrong. The Nox never needed our help. The truth was that they saved our sorry butts and it was our good intentions that almost cost Lya her life."
The triplets gasped at what their father said.
Daniel added, "Anteaus told us early on that the very young do not always do as they're told. We don't and sometimes, most of the time, we probably should."
"Dad, do the Nox have a prime directive?" Jonny asked, having come up with a way to understand the Nox's point of view.
"Pretty much," Jack affirmed for his namesake. "There's a place for Trek's prime directive and not inserting our values upon others. The Nox learned that eons ago. The Tau'ri are still trying to learn how to live with that concept."
"Ut oh," Little Danny sighed.
"What is it?" Aislinn questioned.
"I'm on breakfast duty with Bri and Jenny," Little Danny answered.
Jack and Daniel exchanged a look and then Jack responded, "You're excused for today."
Little Danny's face lit up and he replied, "Thank you. It's important that our report gets done and says what's really important."
"Okay, get back to work, but you will come down for breakfast when it's done. Got it?" Jack instructed.
"Got it," the trio responded, suddenly refocusing on their work and ignoring their parents completely.
"I guess we should go now," Daniel stated.
The lovers left the room and headed downstairs to see if Brianna had begun preparing the first meal of the day.
"Do you think they'll understand?" Daniel inquired of his husband.
"They have a fault that will make it hard for them."
Surprised by the response, Daniel asked, "What fault?"
"They're human, and humans make a lot of mistakes."
"That's true," Daniel agreed. "But they also have a few very big things working for them."
"Compassion, caring, curiosity, understanding, tolerance, and passion for all people and things."
"Well spoken, My Love," Daniel praised, reaching out to stop Jack from walking forward. He put his arms around Jack's neck and played a bit with the hair at his nape. Lovingly, he gazed into his husband's eyes and said, "You know what? I'm not frightened anymore about our children and their future. I was frightened, but just for a little while. Our children are the future of our family, this planet, and, according to Thor, our universe. Maybe Thor does know something we don't, but it doesn't matter. There's a force looking over this family that helps us to survive. Whatever that force is, I believe it was the Munchkins during their adventure. I'm not saying disaster can't happen, or won't, but it's exactly what you said, Jack. We are who we are, and our children are who they are. That's our life, and I love it, all of it."
"Geez, I love you," Jack declared.
"And I love you," Daniel vowed right before sharing a very passionate kiss with his husband. "To be continued as soon as possible."
"Amen to that," Jack responded happily.
A crash from the kitchen drew the couple's attention.
"Oh, for crying out loud," Brianna whined. "Who left the lid off the blender?"
"You didn't tell me to put the lid back on," Ricky responded.
"Aren't you supposed to be Little Danny?" the teen questioned with a hint of exasperation.
"He's doing his SGC report with Ash and Jonny, so I thought I'd help out until he remembers it's his turn," the Spitfire advised.
"That was nice of you," Daniel chimed. "Accidents happen."
"No worries," Jack added. "Bri can make a new batch of," he looked over at the liquid that was now strewn over the counter and onto the floor, "whatever that is."
Calmer now, Brianna surprised Ricky by picking him up and praising, "You're a good kid. You're right. I should have said exactly what I needed you to do, especially since you can't reach the top of the blender."
Ricky laughed and hugged his sister while asking, "Can we do it again?"
"We have to or everyone will go hungry," Brianna teased.
"Daddy, where's my CD? I can't find it?" Chenoa asked as she ran by her parents in a panic, intending to search the living room.
"Daaaad!" Lulu called out from the rec room. "Ptolemy tossed her cracker at me!"
Running down the stairs and shouting, even before seeing his parents, David called out, "Dad, there's something wrong with my telescope. I need some help."
Before either parent could respond to either of the complaints, they heard a defiant "Meeeeeow," followed by a loud, "That darn cat."
Jack and Daniel looked at each other and broke out into laughter. Things were back to their normal abnormal that went from the threat of being devoured by a black hole to a hyacinth macaw starting a food war with a little girl.
"I love you," Daniel stated.
"I love you," Jack responded.
The lovers kissed, even while ignoring the outbursts of "Dad!" and "Daddy" that broke out among the needy children. Life was crazy, but wonderful, for the Space Family Jackson-O'Neills of Colorado Springs.
~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
Author's Note: Please feel free to email me with your comments or suggestions; constructive criticism, things you'd like to see, etc. A chronological listing of my universe is at http://orrymain.com