Carrots on a Stick
Okay, I guess the first question is how much of what Daniel just told me is a bluff and how much of it is real. Is there a real possibility that someone's followed them to Cascade? I know that if there were someone tailing us Jim would have said something about it but on the other hand, even if no one followed them this time around, the fact that they are here is bound to end up in someone's report sooner rather than later and that is not a good thing. That means that the danger is real, it means that even though I denounced my dissertation, their visit is still likely to raise some red flags and that is not a risk we can afford to take... the problem is that the 'protection' we are being offered --or sort of offered-- comes with some rather nasty strings attached. If we take them up on their offer we run the risk of jumping out of the frying pan and straight into the fire.
I know this is exactly the kind of scenario Jim was worried about, this is why he said option number two could well turn out to be our best bet and now I understand what he meant by that. I really should have more faith in him when it comes to reading a situation involving the military.
The good news is that at least I know where we stand and I have an idea as to how Jim would want me to handle this situation... not that there's any need for me to tell them that.
"I'm listening," I say and watch them exchange a rather troubled glance. It's good to know I'm not the only one who is feeling more than a little out of his element here.
"As you said, we are fighting a war against a race of aliens who call themselves the Goa'uld. They are parasites who like to pretend they are gods and have the ability to infect humans, to take us as hosts," says Sam, looking rather green, not that my brother is doing much better in that regard.
"Yes, my wife, Sha're was taken, explains Daniel. I won't lie to you, it's not a pretty galaxy out there but we can't afford to bury our heads in the sand... that would be deadly."
"And what about Teal'c?" I ask.
"Define complicated," I push, not willing to back down.
I see Daniel turn toward Sam and after a moment's hesitation she nods, ever so slightly.
"He is a Jaffa. He carries an infant Goa'uld but is not controlled by it. A Goa'uld larva can't really take a host before it matures," he explains.
"But I assume that it is still growing, right?"
"Yes," he admits.
"So, how long is the 'incubation period' and what will happen once that baby is ready to leave the nest?" I ask.
"The incubation period lasts several years. Teal'c's primta was implanted before it was ready... long story... but the thing is that that has bought us a little extra time. He still has a couple of years to go before it becomes an issue," explains Daniel.
"And the Asgard? Any connection to Norse mythology?"
"They are basically the basis for it... of course you wouldn't know it by looking at them. In fact the definition of Roswell grays is far more fitting. They are a technologically advanced society, though at times they are far less helpful than they could be."
"So there's intelligent life in quite a few planets out there," I say, still having a hard time trying to accept that any of this is real.
"Yes, though oddly enough there are humans in quite a few of those planets as well... and that's another reason why we'd like you to join us," says Daniel.
"Humans?" I ask, caught totally off-guard. That is something I definitely wasnt expecting.
"Yes. The Goa'uld came to earth thousands of years ago. There was a rebellion back then and they left but before that happened they took a lot of people and scattered them throughout the galaxy to use as slaves, hosts or to turn into Jaffa," he explains.
"Are you saying that Jaffa are actually human?!" I exclaim.
"Basically. They are modified humans. Their immune systems are destroyed to prevent rejection so they rely on the infant Goa'uld they carry to survive, which is the reason why we can't get rid of Teal'c's larva in the first place," says Sam.
"Can I say 'ouch'?" I mutter.
"You can, says Daniel with a smile. The thing is that since a good number of those societies we've encountered out there are the descendants of those humans that were taken from our world by the Goa'uld thousands of years ago, it is not uncommon for their cultures to be reminiscent of the ancient civilizations they descend from."
"Wait, are you saying that there are clear parallels?" I ask, trying to imagine the implications of what my brother is saying from an anthropological perspective.
"It's more than that, it's like they were able to evolve with few, if any, external influences and totally isolated from each other. Most planets are populated by the descendants of a single group and their civilizations have evolved independent from one another. That has served to minimize the divergence from their original sources due to the absence of external influences and in some cases it has even enabled us to find things we couldn't possibly have imagined," he says.
"Such as?" I ask, feeling more than a little curious.
"Can you imagine what kind of a society the Vikings could have built without the influence of Christianity... well, we've actually been there, he explains.
"But I imagine that the absence of Christianity must have left its mark as well, right? I mean, it's true that our perspective of the Vikings has been tainted by a Christian bias but if they were raiders then the absence of settlements to raid must have had a significant impact," I say.
"Of course, as did the fact that they were sailors and that the settlement we encountered was nowhere near the shore, or the fact that the weather on their planet was far more forgiving than the one of their native regions here on earth, but the point is that as an anthropologist those changes themselves are extremely interesting," Daniel points out.
"But you are not just telling me this because it's interesting, are you?" I ask, wondering what hes not telling me.
"No, the truth is that one of the things we desperately need are contact specialists. I mean, we've managed to recruit a couple of them but there arent that many anthropologists affiliated with the military to begin with and we can't exactly put an ad out in the local newspaper so that has made things rather difficult in that regard. That is one of the reasons why we would really like you to join us. You would have a chance to experience every anthropologist's dream and Jim would be safe. Believe me, his talents would definitely come in handy out there and you wouldn't have to be looking over your shoulder any more."
So, in other words, after mentioning a rather nasty stick, now my brother is dangling a very tasty carrot right in front of my eyes, the question is: can I afford to go for it?