“OK Daniel, would you like to explain what we’re doing here again?”
Dr Daniel Jackson rolled his eyes. He sometimes wondered if Colonel Jack O’Neill really was stupid, or if he just pretended to be to screw with peoples’ heads. Maybe it was a bit of both.
“We’re here because of the inscription Jack”
“Oh right, that Babylonian thing.”
“Yeah, whatever. But didn’t you say it said ‘If rabbits eat grass then goats will expire rapidly’?”
“We went through that in the briefing Jack, it was a code. If you rotate the cuneiform characters by 90 degrees then subtract earth’s point of origin symbol from each of them you end up with a dialling sequence.”
“Ah, I must have missed that bit.”
“I sort of zone out when you start talking archaeology”
“So, the inscription aside, why are we here?”
“Because of the other inscription”
“The other inscription?”
“You didn’t listen to a word of my briefing did you?”
“I listened to a few words”
“The other inscription that referred to the first inscription as the key to the land of plenty.”
“Ah. The land of plenty.”
“A mythical place where all luxuries are found in abundance, I would have thought even you could have worked that one out Jack.”
“Well excuse me for not being an archaeologist.”
Further argument was averted by the arrival of Major Samantha Carter, closely followed by Teal’c. They picked their way through the debris on the floor of the half ruined hut the team was using as a temporary base and sat down.
“The perimeter’s secure Colonel” reported Sam “No sign of any natives, hostile or friendly”.
“The area appears to be completely deserted” Commented Teal’c.
“Find anything interesting?” asked Daniel
“Nothing but a smell”
“A smell?” asked Jack.
“About a kilometre south we started getting a whiff of something like rotten meat”
“How strong was this meat smell?”
“The further south we went, the stronger it got.”
“Was the land of plenty famous for an all pervading smell of rotten meat Daniel?”
“Okay then. Anything else to report?”
“We saw thunderclouds moving in from the east as we returned” replied Teal’c
”So we could be in for some rain then.”
“Yes, I believe so”
“Right. Well it’s getting dark, and if there’s anything worse than marching through a thunderstorm it’s marching through a thunderstorm in the dark. So we’ll set up camp here for the night, hopefully wait out the rain, and check out this smell in the morning.”
“It was a very strong smell Colonel”
“You gave a quite adequate description of the smell Sam”
“I mean if it keeps getting stronger the further you go south....”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it Major. For now we’re setting up camp.”
It was several hours later. Teal’s thunderclouds had moved in, but despite the occasional peals of distant thunder no rain had yet eventuated. With no sign of local inhabitants Jack had decided to risk a fire, and was busy throwing leaves and twigs into the flames while waiting for his rations to heat up. Teal’c was meditating next to a large tree. Sam was taking an inventory of her pack to make sure nothing had been lost on the scouting mission. Daniel was reading a paperback . Apart from Jack’s occasional muttered oaths when his fingers got a bit close to the fire, it was a scene of blissful tranquillity.
“What you reading?” asked Jack eventually, to break the silence.
"Tom Jones" replied Daniel without looking up. "Or more properly The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. It’s by Henry Fielding”
“Can’t say I’ve heard of him” said Jack sucking on a finger he’d just scorched. “New author?”
“He died in 1754 Colonel” contributed Sam.
“Ah.” He turned back to Daniel “So what’s it about?”
Daniel sighed. Jack obviously wasn’t going to shut up. He closed the book. “Um, a guy named Tom Jones. He gets adopted into this rich family as a kid, then gets kicked out when his evil brother betrays him. Then he goes wandering around the countryside trying to make a living.”
“His adopted brother?”
“Hard. But it all works out in the end?”
“Dunno, I haven’t got that far yet”
“It all works out in the end” piped up Sam. “He’s reunited with his sweetheart, proves his brother’s evil and manipulative and turns out to be the illegitimate son of his adopted father’s sister and thus heir to the estates.”
Daniel rolled his eyes and dropped the book.
“You’ve read it?” asked Jack in surprise.
“We had to do an assignment on it back at school. I got an ‘A’”
“I wouldn’t expect anything less. So why are you reading it Danny boy?”
“I wanted something to read, and saw it lying around in the med lab. ”
“So you stole it?”
“I didn’t steal it, I’m putting it back when I’m finished. Which is as soon as we get back now I suppose.”
“I would be interested in reading this book Daniel Jackson” contributed Teal’c
“Getting into the Tau’ri literature there Teal’c?” asked a surprised Jack
“The more I learn of your world, the better I can help defend it against the Goa’uld.”
Jack raised his eyebrows.
“Be my guest Teal’c” said Daniel, handing over the book. “There’s not much point me finishing it now” He glared pointedly at Sam.
Any further discussion was halted as everyone stopped dead.
“What the heck was that!?” hissed Jack, glancing around and reaching for his sidearm. Sam and Teal’c were already taking point and covering the surrounding trees with their weapons. Daniel was looking around apprehensively. His face clearly said Don’t shoot! I’m a civilian!
Something plummeted out of the sky, and into the middle of the camp. It flopped around on the ground for a few seconds then lay still. It was a fish. A red fish. There was a peal of thunder.
Everyone stared at the fish.
Daniel stepped forward and poked it with his shoe. He stared at it.
“It’s a herring” he announced in a bewildered tone.
“A herring” returned Jack
“Yeah” Daniel knelt down for a closer look.
“A red herring”
“And it fell from the sky”
Another herring fell to the ground narrowly missing Teal’c. He jumped away, looking quite panicked for a few seconds before regaining his composure.
“But fish don’t just fall from the sky!” exclaimed Jack in a somewhat disturbed tone. He eyed the fish with a look of extreme discomfort.
“Actually they do Colonel, it’s not unusual.” explained Sam “Every year there’s several reports of fish or frogs falling in rainstorms from all over the world.”
“But how?” cried Jack looking more worried. In his world things like this shouldn’t happen. In his world things made sense.
“A whirlwind or waterspout goes over a pond, or picks up a school of fish out at sea. They get carried along in the clouds for a while, then fall out when the windspeed becomes too slow to keep them airborne. It’s a documented phenomena.”
“There is a similar phenomena on Chulak” commented Teal’c. “A fall of fish from the sky is taken as a blessing or curse from Apophis. “
“A blessing or curse?”
“If there are enough people in the vicinity to consume the fish, it is a blessing. If not it is a curse.”
“It’s a fafrotsky” announced Daniel, who was still poking at the fish, quite oblivious to the conversation going on behind him.
“I thought you said it was a herring?” asked Jack, once again becoming confused.
“No, the phenomena, a fall from the sky” the empahsis were quite clear. “A fafrotsky is when anything falls inexplicably out of the sky”
“But it’s not inexplicable” contributed Sam “Like I told the Colonel, a whirlwind...”
“Not the old whirlwind-waterspout theory Sam?” asked Daniel, getting to his feet.
“What’s wrong with the whirlwind-waterspout theory?” replied Sam, somewhat defensively.
“Fafrotskies are almost always homogenous”
“What do you mean ‘homogenous’?”
“All the same. They consist of individuals of the same age, same size and same species. All in the same condition too. No whirlwind could ever be that selective.”
“It could out in the ocean, schools of fish generally segregate into groups based on age and size. And I do know what homogenous means by the way!”
“Frogs toads and newts don’t segregate into groups! They inhabit varied environments full of other species of amphibians, fish and insects!”
“Well, maybe the whirlwind sorts them by specific gravity!”
“Ha! Ever see a Kansas town once a tornado’s been through? You don’t find all the pillows in one pile and all the bathtubs in another! Debris’s scattered all over the place!”
“Well what’s your explanation then!?”
“I don’t have one! I’m just pointing out that your paradigm is invalid!”
“Invalid? It’s supported by the greatest scientific minds in the world!”
“Do you have any idea what they’re talking about Teal’c?” asked Jack, watching the two becoming more and more animated.
“I do not O’Neill”
“Right, in that case I’d better stop them before we both get a headache.” He stepped forward.
“Kids! Kids! let’s not get into some kind of scientific deathmatch here!”
Sam and Daniel stopped arguing and stared at him.
“Well you looked just about ready to tear each other’s throats out.”
“We were just engaging in a free exchange of scientific ideas Colonel” explained Sam.
“It didn’t look that way!”
“It wasn’t personal, we were just agreeing to disagree, right Sam?”
“OK, whatever” said Jack, throwing up his hands in exasperation. “Just.....don’t do it again, OK?”
“The fish storm appears to have passed, we should rest for the morning” suggested Teal’c.