Daniel was silent as he and Sam walked into the briefing room and saw Vala standing by the window. She was talking to Cam, or more precisely, trying to talk to Cam.
"But it's not like I have any real experience. I mean I was only on SG-1 for maybe what? Three years?"
"I have not even been on SG-1 for three years," Cam said dryly. "Try more like a bit over two years. And you around one year." Turning toward where Sam and Daniel now were sitting at the table, he added softly as he passed, "One very loooooong year."
"And now I am back!" Vala said excitedly, taking no notice that even General Landry was not happy about the declaration.
"Well now that everyone is here; Teal'c said the birth ceremony for his grandchild will be lasting longer than the mission, and as it is his first, he can not cut out early. In front of you is the negotiation with the Dune people on MPX-9913. They sent us a reply through SG-21 saying they were ready to talk," Landry folded his hands and looked at Cam then Sam. "I do not trust these people. I don't care that they have been using their Stargate for six years exploring and have found how to connect to other galaxies, they just don't sit well with me."
"Well is there a reason why we really want to talk to them then?" Sam asked.
"The President is intrigued with the whole going to other galaxy business. He seems to think that NASA is finally coming into making space travel possible, that we should be expanding colonies to the moon," Landry paused. "Personally I think the President has been reading a bit more sci-fi than is necessary. But do not repeat that," he said, pointing a finger at Vala.
"Why do you think I would do that?" Vala said innocently. "And who are you to say he has read too much sci-fi; you people travel through a wormhole - something every scientist says cannot exist - everyday. Why not colonize the rotten rock?"
Four pairs of eyes looked at her blankly. "Ok, so we go through the wormhole, and talk to these people. We get what? Intergalactic traveling equipment?" Daniel said, shifting his eyes away from Vala.
"No, we supposedly get part of their colonies in the Pegasus Galaxy. Un-touched by the Wraith according to the Dunes," Landry replied.
"Oh well that would be really nice for the Atlantis people," Daniel muttered.
Sam glanced at him and he looked back over his glasses. Seeing her hurt expression he quickly mouthed an apology. It had been promised shortly after Jack had been promoted - again - that the newlyweds would be on the next ship out to the famed Atlantis, but then Cam had come and had convinced them to go on one mission - with Vala - before they left. With Daniel being caught in a rather dangerous game that Vala had trapped him in, Sam had found out she was pregnant. She was happy but at the same time having to deal with her husband, who at that point was in a coma. They had never made it out to Atlantis, and was still a bit of a sore point for Daniel.
"Well does that mean some of the Atlantis crew is going to join us?" Cam said.
"Maybe, I am in talks with Dr. Weir. She is going to rearrange some of the missions so their first contact team, lead by Colonel Sheppard, will join you. I don't expect this to be a day trip, so Dr. Jackson, Colonel Carter I assume you have made arrangements for your son?"
"Yes, Sir," Sam replied. She had learned to be a bit detached when she had to leave Jacob to go through the gate. She was glad Landry let her go though the gate, let alone stay on the same team as Daniel.
"Oh, you mean you are leaving him behind?" Vala whined.
"Yes," Daniel said.
"Oh, but I could have looked after him. I'm great with kids!"
"I only let my son go with people I trust," Daniel said, almost glaring at Vala.
"But I'm sure he would trust me."
"I said people I trust."
"You're hurting my feelings Daniel," Vala pouted. Even though he was married the second time she met Daniel, with Sam firmly planted by his side once the whole bracelet incident happened, Vala still flirted with him like he was single.
"General, can we get packed?" Daniel said turning to Landry and clutching Sam's arm rest.
"Please. You are expected on the planet at 1400. Dismissed," Landry said, getting up himself.
Sam and Daniel, hand in hand, walked out of the briefing room and left the back way, avoiding all the public places such as the control center or outside the Gate room. They were already packed, just needing to give their last instructions to their departments. Meeting Cam in the changing room, the three of them went off to the commissary to have some food before their travel. SG-21 already warned them that the Dune people did not take breaks while negotiating.
"How has your government been able to maintain such low standards?" one of the high council dignataries exploded.
SG-1 had stepped on to the Dune's planet precisely at 1400, not missing a beat. They however were quickly told that they were not expected so early, and it was rather rude to have come un-announced. Colonel Cameron Mitchell had quickly apologized, saying they did not realize coming early (or on time as Vala mumbled as Daniel placed a hand over her mouth) was considered rude. They were led to a waiting room attached to a round rotunda looking building and told to "wait here!" Two hours later, and a round of cards, a young man, who turned out to be a priest, came in and escorted them to the Hall of Announcements, where they were currently being yelled at.
"You present yourself and your people as if you are intelligent and technologically advanced. Yet you have proven that your own rulers do not choose wisely who they send to us!" the dignatary said once more.
Daniel sighed and got up. "It is not that our ... rulers are not wise, it is that some do not see the need to have intergalactic abilities. We have traveled to many planets, and our own moon, but the thought of going further, colonizing the planets within our solar system is simply a plan they have not thought about. They are very open to new possibilities; you have said we are a very curious race. But we also are very cautious about how we approach new discoverers," Daniel paused, looking back at Cam, Sam and Vala. "While we welcome any challenge, any discovery, we also look at it to make sure it will profit all of society, not just a few."
The Chancellor eyed him coolly. "I will convene with the other members and see how we proceed. The Priest will escort you back to the Weeping Room."
"Thanks," they muttered as the same Priest came forward and led them back to the waiting room.
"Excuse me," Vala started. Sam placed a hand on Daniel as he stiffened. "Why is it that you call this room the Weeping Room?"
Daniel relaxed; she had only asked an intelligent question. The Priest regarded her for a moment and replied, "Long ago when the criminals of Dune were kept on the planet, the convict's mother and families would come in here to weep for forgiveness for their son's or husband's insolence. They would weep as the verdicts were read. Now all trials are held on one of the desolate moons we have."
"Oh," Vala replied, turning back to the small table and chairs on the far end of the room. "Oh look a fruit basket!"
Sam slapped the apple looking fruit out of Vala's hand before she bit into it, getting a glare that could kill someone. "Hey what's the big idea?"
"You never eat anything that suddenly shows up. Especially when the people whose planet you are on are notorious for not feeding their guests," Sam said, picking the basket up and moving it near the door.
"Well someone's 'mommy instincts' are in full force," Vala muttered. It was Cam who turned to Vala and glared.
"Don't be second guessing Colonel Carter. She is very capable of assessing the situation and coming up with solutions," he said, hotly.
"Well then. Come on and assess," Vala said, not bothering to keep the distain out of her voice. "We seem to have some more time here."
Sam stood staring at Vala for a beat and then quickly took in the whole room. "I think they are stalling because they can. The Chancellor and all the rest are not in there 'discussing' anything. They are probably calling us names and eating," Sam said. "These people seem to think that as long as you colonize some planet you own it; the land, the people, the way of life. That disturbs me, but I suppose if that means that the Pegasus crew gets some un-touched territory it would help them."
Daniel nodded as Sam spoke, agreeing with her views. It was not just because they were married that he agreed; it was genuinely because he saw all her points as valid. "This is going to be long time. If they said it would take a week to just trade some upgraded long range communication devices for some planets, then this will be a long week."
"I hope that they show us some views at least," Vala sulked. She gazed out of the small window, over looking some garden and the Gate beyond.
"Why let people wonder freely, or even under guard, when they can't see the uses of intergalactic traveling?" Cam asked dryly. "I think these people are a bit off with how much value they are placing in their ability to travel through the gate and colonize people. A bit power hungry for my taste."
Daniel crossed the room to where Sam was sitting on a sofa. "You ok?" he asked softly.
"Yeah, just frustrated. Like Mitchell said, I am glad they want to trade something that is very valuable to both of us, but would wish they would see that it's not always about getting ahead," she said, placing her head on his arm. "That and wondering when we can do some straight dealing with these people."
"How about settling for a round of cards?" Daniel asked. Sam smiled and nodded, knowing there was little else to do while they waited some more.