Previously, on SG-1 (Space Race): Sam and her alien pal Warrick totally lost the 59th Loop of Kon Garat on the planet Hebridan…
"The race is just two weeks away! You will help us, won't you Major Carter?" Warrick said imploringly, leaning on the conference table with Eamon standing beside him, looking just as anxious to hear her answer.
Sam glowed, eyes alight with the prospect of a high-gear, high-risk, high-stakes challenge. Daniel suspected her answer would be… yes.
"But… it hasn't been a year. Has it?" Jack said, glancing at his watch. He glared at it, tapped it with his forefinger and then held it up to his ear, giving his wrist an irritated shake.
"The Hebridian year is considerably shorter than ours, sir," she smiled.
Warrick broke in eagerly, saying, "With Major Carter on our side and the contest above board this year, thanks to you, I know we can win it this time!"
Eamon chimed in, "And to commemorate the 60th Loop of Kon Garat, not only does the winner get a contract with Tech Con, there will be—" He and his brother exchanged charged looks and almost whispered together, rapturously, "Celebrity endorsements."
"We won't just be heroes," Warrick explained.
"We'll be famous," Eamon sighed dreamily. "There's every chance that I'll get to meet Petxi Jumala. THE Petxi Jumala! She's the face Of Kray-Zee Vedd-E's guidance glags. Major, we promise it'll be much safer this year."
"Besides, we're actually here on official Hebridian business," Warrick added. "Miles Hagan has been elected High Counselor, and he wishes to officially initiate a trade agreement with Earth." He smiled at Sam, and then turned toward General Hammond looking hopeful. "He invites all of SG-1 to the capital building, and wishes you to make a short goodwill tour of the planet as our guests."
Teal'c nodded at Eamon and said gravely, "General, I believe it would be to our great advantage to enter into negotiations with a people who have proven to be both friendly and willing to exchange technologies in the past."
General Hammond, who looked wary and a little gobsmacked by the Serrakins' breathless enthusiasm, just nodded and said, "Agreed. Major, I know you'll represent the Air Force the best you know how."
"He means he knows you'll kick their asses this time for sure, Carter," Jack said serenely.
Hammond gave Jack a warning look before patting Carter's shoulder and saying, "Do us proud. SG-1, you have a go."
After the reception and what seemed even to Daniel to be an excessive amount of hand-shaking, Teal'c and Sam had broken away with Warrick and Eamon in order to get cracking on the Seberus retrofit so they'd be ready for the race.
"Since when is Teal'c a greasemonkey?" Jack asked.
"Well, for one thing, it doesn't involve a lot of political gladhanding. For another, it's a nice change of pace for him. Besides, Eamon's a friend of his."
"They do seem to be pretty buddy-buddy," Jack observed sourly.
Raising an eyebrow, Daniel said, "Surely you're not begrudging Teal'c the opportunity to make new friends?"
Jack all but stuck his tongue out at him. "No. It's just… Eamon's kind of a prissy little guy, don't you think?"
"I think that Teal'c admires him. And after all, he comes from a race that not only freed a people from the Goa'uld, but erased human slavery and developed a society whose credo is, 'Progress and people, working in total harmony.' We could learn a lot from Hebridians. Maybe more than just technologically."
"Look, Daniel, I'm not saying they don't talk a good game, but let's not forget that we came face to face with the seamy underbelly of their simmering racial tensions."
"Face to face… with their underbelly?"
"What? That's a thing," Jack assured him.
Daniel was denied the opportunity to argue the point by the appearance of a Serrakin in the uniform of the High Counsel.
"Hello, hello, I am Gub Ankarian. Such a pleasure to meet the Earth delegation."
"We're honored to be guests in your lovely city," Daniel said.
"Charmed, I'm sure," Jack supplied with bright, false smile.
"Are you ready for your tour? Yes? Well, please follow me. Oh, I envy you, I do, making your first foray into our society. We're very proud of Hebridan, of course, and we do hope that you will find it just as pleasing."
"I'm sure we will," Daniel promised. Jack rolled his eyes and together they followed the back of Gub's green head out of the capital building's echoing hall.
"It's… a Winnebago." Jack sounded both baffled and semi-awed.
They were standing in front of a long, blocky, hovering vehicle not unlike the boxcar of a train. It was covered in what Daniel had first thought to be colorful graffiti, but then recognized as various commercial brand names and slogans.
"Here we are." Gub led them inside and held an arm out to indicate the ship's interior. From the inside, it looked like the cabin of a well-appointed yacht, handsomely furnished but strangely empty-- there was no command chair or visible control mechanism. "Enjoy your trip," Gub said, clapping his hands together.
"We won't have… a tour guide? A liaison? A driver?" Daniel asked cautiously. Gub looked confused.
"No need. The Jilona can take you anywhere you'd like to go. Besides, there's a saying on Hebridan: no matter how big a Jilona is, it's only built for two. Once you get in one, no matter how luxurious, it's just a hallway on anti-grav skis. Well, a hallway with a sumptuous bed and a thuba-jet shower square." His eyes twinkled and he slapped Jack's shoulder. "And anyway, we want to encourage the informal aspect of this goodwill junket. Just go out and mingle with the people as you would on your own world. These credit chips will see to any needs, and please, feel free to make good use of them. Samples of our craftsmanship, that sort of thing. Or even just souvenirs for the folks back home!
"There's a remote alarm system here—" He tapped a gleaming sliver button that glowed on the windshield where a rearview mirror would have been on an Earth model, "in the unlikely event of a breakdown or illness, that sort of thing." Gub trotted down the short ramp and turned to face them. "Now, we'll see you in twelve orlas or so for the Loop. Off you go, then." He waved at them cheerily and then turned back to the capital building, striding away with a brisk, bouncing step.
Daniel met Jack's questioning gaze and shrugged. A perky female voice said, "Welcome to the Jilona-56. I'm Mitzy, your in-transit navigation system. Where would you like to go today?"
"Um," said Daniel. "We're, uh, new to the area. Do you have any suggestions?"
A glowing three-dimensional map flickered into view, with little green symbols throbbing happily here and there throughout the gold field.
"The Tech Con Ultra Relaxation Park features sixteen gotsana fountains and six waterslides, as well as a staff of masseurs available for the skilled application of a wide variety of scented sunscreens and Serrakin unguents, including Radon Shield 55 and Cream of Starloth. The Tech Con Supreme Delight Buffet and Roller Rink will tickle your palate and vibrate your soles as you speedskate past six wings of global delicacies on a sixteen lang track in the heart of the bustling city of Trob. The Tech Con Extreme Petting Zoo features sixteen paddocks—"
"Sixteen and six are lucky numbers in Hebridian lore," Daniel explained.
Jack placidly ignored him and opened one of the cabinets, finding it stacked with boxes of what Daniel obligingly translated as Tech Con Ultra Sport Beverage.
Jack chose a Beverage with a blue label and squeezed the box slightly; a straw poked out of the top. He handed one with a white label to Daniel before sampling his own, and grimacing immediately. "It tastes like… mouthwash."
Daniel raised his eyebrows and took a cautious sip of his own Beverage. There was a suggestion of… well, he was at a loss to describe it. Despite the fact that the liquid was colorless and the box label was white, the Beverage tasted decidedly… pink, to Daniel.
"I don't know. I kind of like it."
Jack narrowed his eyes at him before yanking open the door to another cabinet, revealing many colored tubes of something labeled Tech Con Maximum Heemo Paste. Taking one from the shelf, Jack peered at it and unscrewed the cap, cautiously waving it under his nose.
"It smells like Beefaroni." He held it out to Daniel, who declined to sniff.
"I believe you," he said softly, eyeing the gleaming rows of shiny packaging. "I'm going to assume that the ship's been stocked with… food."
"What do you want to bet that this is the Hebridian equivalent of a year's supply of The San Francisco Treat?"
"I can't deny a certain gameshow feel…"
"Daniel," Jack said seriously. "We won the Showcase Showdown."
"Do you think we'll get a set of matching luggage?"
Mitzy took this as her cue; the engine revved up—it sounded to Daniel a little like the burble of a coffee machine—and Mitzy told them, "The Tech Con Ultimate Mall Experience is the first stop for over 60 million visitors a year. Matching luggage, floating photars, beeblix for the whole family and an assortment of fragranced shopping airs are available for anyone who appreciates the highest quality in material goods. We will arrive in 78 melars. Please refresh yourselves at any time with a revitalizing thuba-jet shower, or rest comfortably in the Floog 8000 Dream Supreme Select Ultra Support bed, between crisp ogla-scented 4000 count sheets of pure vat-grown country galaz."
"What do you think 'galaz' is?" Daniel wondered. If the ship was moving, he couldn't feel it.
Jack was eyeing the bed thoughtfully.
"Dunno. Wouldn't mind finding out, though. Care to join me?" The cheerful invitation made Jack's eyes shine. Despite himself, Daniel felt the back of his neck flush.
"Jack," he said, finally. "On a mission?"
"A mission? Daniel, aliens are practically forcing us to accept an all-expense-paid round trip to their equivalent of Disney Land. And you heard Gub. These things are only built for two." He sat down on the bed and bounced a little, nodding appreciatively before waggling his eyebrows and patting the mattress beside him. "How long's a melar, anyway?"
"We have arrived at the destination," Mitzy chirped.
"Not long," Daniel said dryly.
"Please enjoy yourselves and remember to employ the cart-drones to return your varied purchases to the vehicle!"
"We'll do that," Daniel promised, giving Jack a 'what can you do' tilt of his head. Outside, a small crowd was gathering in the vast grassy field that surrounded the unbelievably vast and ornate city-sized block that was the Tech Con Ultimate Mall Experience. They were murmuring appreciatively and a few people were close enough to be clearly heard.
"Hey, look Ango! It's the aliens!"
"That's so crobus! I can't believe we're going to meet real, live aliens!"
"How the hell—" Jack began, but Daniel leaned out the wide window and saw the six-foot-high pulsing glow of the external holographic display and said, "The floating billboard announcing us as the Earth delegation might have something to do with it."
Jack looked at Daniel without speaking for a long, long moment, then buried his head in his hands.
Jack rose to the occasion, though. The cart drones returned laden with various packages, a new ion drive and six sets of compression coils (for Carter), sixteen hats (for Teal'c), and a Fangarian olibo, a block of heavily carved glass-like stuff embedded with little glowing flowers.
"But… what is it?" Daniel asked, as Jack tossed it idly from hand to hand.
"I'm gonna go with… paperweight," Jack decided. Then he shrugged. "You got me. The General's a hard man to shop for. I'd like to see you do better. What did you get me?"
Daniel gave him an untroubled look.
"I didn't 'get' you anything. You were perfectly capable of buying anything that caught your eye." Daniel made it plain that he felt Jack had done just that. "Besides, the main point of this trip is to foster relations with a potential new ally."
"What better way to make new friends than to spend a lot of money?"
Daniel smiled a little.
"Where to next, Jack?"
"Mitzy, show us the map, huh?"
The map floated into view and Jack dropped on to the bed, leaning back on one elbow.
"Tell you what, give us some destinations that are at least two orlas away."
"The Tech Con Daring Cliffs of Untuine; the Tech Con Transcendant Ducon Bowl; the Tech Con SuperFun Gaming Casino, Hospital and Elder Center; The Tech Con Extreme Excitement Bubble Thrill-Spill Park, The Tech Con—"
"The first one! Take us to the Cliffs of Untuine, Mitzy."
"Jack, an orla is something like 16 hours," Daniel cautioned.
Jack grinned, reaching out to hook a thumb in the waist of Daniel's BDU's.
"I know." He tugged sharply and Daniel overbalanced, grabbing at Jack's shoulder to right himself, his knee coming up onto the mattress, wedged against the outside of Jack's thigh.
"That could have been unfortunate," Jack commented, looking down.
"Hm," Daniel said, leaning forward and bringing his other knee up. Jack cupped Daniel's hips and tugged him down so Daniel's weight was settled against his lap before flopping backward and stretching his arms out across the vast bed with a smug look.
"Take off your shirt, Jack," Daniel said, making an attempt to sound put-upon; it came out as more of a breathless demand.
Jack shucked his shirt and tossed it over Daniel's shoulder. For a long moment, Daniel just searched Jack's face, his warm eyes, the strong line of his mouth and jaw. Jack let him look for a time and then widened his eyes, signaling his impatience. Finally, he cuffed the side of Daniel's head and said, "Get on with the ravishing already, will ya?"
Spreading his hands on the soft bedspread, Daniel lowered his head and pressed a kiss to Jack's sharp collarbone, to the brown, crinkling skin of his tightening nipple, the flat sternum and wiry hair of Jack's chest. He felt Jack twine his hands into his hair, and he went willingly when Jack lifted his face to kiss him. Easing himself down, Daniel stretched out against Jack, chest resting against his, letting Jack stroke his tongue with his own, and work his hands up the back of Daniel's shirt.
He could feel the rising heat of Jack's erection trapped behind the placket of his pants, and nudged it lazily with his own. Jack made a low, grumbling sound and hooked one calf over the back of Daniel's leg, shoving up impatiently with his hips and rocking the both of them.
"I gotta get me one of these," Jack murmured, bucking against the mattress.
"Mm," Daniel agreed, not caring if Jack meant the bed or the Jilona, utterly focused on unbuttoning Jack's pants, knuckles pressing into the hot skin of Jack's stomach. The zipper glided down and he tugged at the BDUs with intent, but Jack refused to lift his hips. When Daniel realized he was being deliberately thwarted, he looked up at Jack with open speculation.
Cupping the side of Daniel's neck with his palm, Jack rubbed a thumb against the grain of the stubble rising on Daniel's throat.
"We've got two whole orlas, Daniel. Feel free to take your time."
Daniel blinked at him. There was little likelihood of interruption. No clamoring alarm clock, no gate klaxon, not even so much as a ringing phone to break the mood. No bugged apartments, no alien honor guard, no one who might recognize them and give them away.
While he sat there absorbing the fact that he very nearly had as much time as he wanted to spend with Jack, alone, in bed, Daniel noticed that Jack was idly stroking a palm against the curve of Daniel's skull, his expression relaxed and fond.
"Soft," Jack said, when Daniel quirked a questioning eyebrow. "It's not in the same league as pure vat-grown country galaz or anything," he amended, and Daniel dug his fingers, hard, into the crease of Jack's thigh. Jack doubled up, nearly clipping Daniel with his forehead, and barked a short laugh, managing, "but it's nice. It's nice. C'mere."
Some nine or ten orlas later, they were making rigorous use of the thuba-jet shower square, Daniel braced against the shower wall, swallowing a groan as Jack drove into him, Jack half-laughing, half-gasping as the water beat against their shoulders and he surged against Daniel's body, thick and slick and fucking perfect when a window coalesced above their heads and Sam's bright face blinked into view.
"Hi, sir, I—Oh! Oh, I did not need to see that!" The light window shivered out of existence and both Daniel and Jack stood there, wet, panting and pole-axed, for a good long time. Then Jack ran his hands down Daniel's arms and nudged his thighs further apart. "Cat's out of the bag," Jack said philosophically, before placing a gnawing kiss to the side of Daniel's throat. "Might as well enjoy the ride while it lasts. Mitzy," he shouted over the shower's roar, "Take us back to the capital building. But take the scenic route, you got me?"
"We will be returning to Trob by way of the Tech Con Magnificent Skyway, built in Tenteen in Oba Lenth, the same year Tech Con introduced the Huegar Monolith in sixteen exciting new colors—"
By the time Mitzy got them back to Trob, Sam and Warrick had already left for pre-flight inspection, so the wellwishing had to be done by Tech Con Tech Comms.
Sam blushed a lot when she met up with them again, but maybe that was just the flush of victory.
"You kicked their asses, Carter. Toldja."
"Indeed, you have earned a great victory. I congratulate you." Sam hugged Teal'c with enthusiasm and then clapped her arms around Daniel next.
"Good job, you little speed-demon, you," said Jack, giving her arms a friendly squeeze before she laughed and flung her arms around his neck.
"I can hardly believe it!" Warrick was crowing. "We won! Eamon, we're going to be rich!"
"We're going to be famous," Eamon corrected happily. An army of people clutching various paparazzi technology flanked them on all sides.
"Why do I have to be in these pictures again?" Jack muttered, as a little Serrakin woman arranged him to her liking and then stepped back to frame the shot.
"It is our highest honor," Warrick insisted. "As guests to our world, and the supporting team of the co-pilot who won this race, it is only right that you should be so rewarded. Few dare to even dream of recognition like this!" He grinned, posing for another photo.
Daniel raised his eyebrows and tried to talk through his fixed smile as the paparazzi waved what Daniel assumed was a light meter of some kind in his face.
"See, Jack? Where others dream, we dare."
"Oh, dare we?"
"Come on, sir. It is kind of fun," Sam wheedled in her sunshiney way, looking particularly radiant in a silvery tank top and a weirdly fluffy skirt.
"You would do well to give the impression that you are enjoying yourself, O'Neill. They would show you honor, and therefore deserve your respect."
Looking a little surprised at the reprimand in Teal'c's tone, Jack subsided with a world-weary sigh.
"Fine, fine, I'll do it. Just make sure they get my best side," he said.
In the end, SG-1 returned to the planet with a trophy announcing Sam as a winner of the 60th Loop of Kon Garat, depicting the Sebarus cast in solid suniam, a new ion drive to book-end the one they already had, six sets of compression coils, sixteen hats, a Fangarian olibo, a handsome photo album that projected holographic images of their forays into shilling for Tech Con, and a set of 4000 count sheets of pure vat-grown country galaz.