Slick, Stark, and Snagged
Thanks, Anne, for reading, fixing, and surviving my writing.
“I am going to kill that spiky-haired midget with my bare hands!” bellowed Telemachus Rhade, tearing off his slipfighter suit as he headed for the shower. Dylan Hunt’s ruse to fool Indra Xicol had failed miserably. Not only that, Telemachus’ fake accident, courtesy of Seamus Harper, had turned out to be not so fake. For the umpteenth time since joining the Andromeda Ascendant’s crew, the Tarazed refugee wondered if he should string the tiny engineer up by his toenails and teach him a lesson on proper respect for a Nietzschean.
Telemachus kicked the suit across his quarters and entered the shower. He closed his eyes and sighed under the hot sprays of water, and felt his muscles relax. As he reached for the soap, a strange white light engulfed him and he disappeared from the shower.
Now he is standing in the middle of a large room, stark naked, and dripping wet. A voice from behind him says, “Somebody sure has a thing for wet naked men.”
<<< T minus five minutes >>>
Gaheris Rhade smiled to himself as he left Dylan Hunt’s quarters and headed for his own. He thought about his duties as Dylan’s Best Man. “Drinks and half-naked dancing girls…interesting possibilities,” he mumbled to himself. “Andromeda, messages,” he said to the Andromeda Ascendant as he entered his quarters and took off his red uniform jacket. Rommie appeared on a screen.
“You have 3 letters from home, and 18 messages from various members of the crew.”
“Are any of the letters from my children?”
“No. Two are from your wives, and the other is from your mother. Do you wish to read them now?”
“No. Are any of the messages from the crew urgent?”
“I’ll read them later.”
The screen and Rommie disappeared. Gaheris removed the rest of his uniform and stepped into the shower. Standing under the hot shower he muttered, “My mother! When is she going to realize I’m an adult? I have wives and children, for Friedrich’s sake!” Before he could utter another word he was engulfed in a white light. When the light dissipated Gaheris found himself standing in the middle of a large room, stark naked, and dripping wet. He looked around. He was utterly alone.
<<< T minus four minutes >>>
“Major, if you cooperate, I’ll finish with you sooner, and you’ll get out of here sooner,” admonished Dr. Janet Frasier. With a heavy sigh, Major Coburn submitted to the doctor’s ministration. The natives on the planet that SG-2 had just visited were not too friendly, resulting in their hasty return trip home. The Major provided cover fire for his team as they escaped, then dove through the stargate, landing hard on his right shoulder.
“Ouch!” he yelped as Dr. Frasier forced his right arm back into its socket.
“Try not to fall on your right shoulder for a few days.”
“I’ll try,” said Coburn with a grimace.
“You may go now.”
“Thank you, Doctor.”
“Drop by if you have any problem with that shoulder.”
“Thank you, Doctor,” said Coburn a little louder as he walked out of the infirmary.
“Come see me if the pain persists!” yelled Dr. Frasier after him.
“THANK YOU, DOCTOR!” he shouted from the hallway.
The leader of SG-2 headed for the locker room, annoyed with unfriendly natives and overly friendly doctors. In the locker room, Coburn removed his green uniform jacket, now torn in a couple of places, and stuffed it in his laundry bag. He rubbed his right shoulder; then the rest of his uniform followed the jacket. Positioning his right shoulder under the showerhead, he turned the water on hot, but not too hot. After a few seconds he moved squarely under the showerhead and reached for the shampoo. Just as his fingers touched the bottle he was engulfed in a white light. The next moment Coburn was standing in the middle of a large room, stark naked, and dripping wet. Looking around, he saw someone else there.
“What the hellfire and brimstone is going on here?” he demanded of the other man.
<<< T minus three minutes >>>
“Here you go, Officer Scott Pierce,” said Major Liam Kincaid, indicating a door on the left. “You should be safe from Zo’or and the other Taelons here. At least for a while.”
“Thank you, Major. And thank you, Captain Marquette.”
Liam and Lili nodded in acknowledgement and left Scott to settle into his new apartment.
Scott opened the door and entered his new home. The apartment was good-sized, comfortably furnished, and had one bedroom. The view through the window was of an alleyway, but he didn’t care. All he wanted to do was to sleep for a few days, after a long hot shower, of course. Being possessed by Zo’or was nasty business, and that was after he had been injured on the job and was in a coma in a hospital. “So much for my career in law enforcement,” he muttered as he headed for the bedroom.
The former policeman walked through the bedroom directly into the bathroom. He stopped and looked at himself in the mirror. He thought he saw swirling blue colors in his eyes. He blinked. The swirls disappeared. “Must be the headache,” he murmured. He took off his t-shirt, jeans, and everything else, stepped over the tub ledge into the tub-shower and closed the curtain.
He cursed as the shower sprayed him with ice-cold water, and turned the hot water on full blast. As the water warmed, he thought about his wife. It would be some time before they could be together again. He was grateful that Liam and Lili allowed him to see his wife, however briefly, before he was hidden away. His thoughts then turned to his possession by Zo’or. He didn’t know all of the things that Zo’or had used his body to do. Liam and Lili wouldn’t tell him much, only that they were things he himself would not have done. He wished the Taelons had never come to Earth. He looked around for some soap but didn’t find any. Just as he reached for the curtain, he was engulfed in a white light. Suddenly, he was standing in the middle of a large room, stark naked, and dripping wet. Scott looked around, saw two other men in the room, and mumbled: “At least this isn’t the Taelon mothership.”
<<< T minus two minutes >>>
System Lord Camulus looked at the blue jumpsuit with disdain. He turned to Dr. Daniel Jackson and raised his left eyebrow in a silent question.
“It’s functional,” said Dr. Jackson.
“You have no aesthetics. Functional does not mean ugly. This is despicable!”
“That’s what we have at the moment. Unless you prefer to continue to wear what you have on.”
Camulus growled in reply. He looked at the jumpsuit again, then back up at Daniel. “Very well, bring it,” snarled Camulus. Daniel picked up the jumpsuit and led the Celtic War God to the showers. Once there Daniel dropped the jumpsuit on a bench, motioned towards the facilities, and left Camulus alone. Camulus proceeded to remove his cape, kilt, and everything else before entering a stall. Under the hot shower, he thought about all of the inconveniences and annoyances he had to endure to ensure the destruction of the Tau’ri. He couldn’t wait to walk through Earth’s stargate knowing that in a few days, there would be no stargate on Earth. As a matter of fact, there would be no Earth. As he relished the victory to come he was engulfed in a bright white light. Camulus roared. Still roaring, he appeared, standing in the middle of a large room, stark naked, and dripping wet. The other three men in the room started at the loudness of the new arrival.
<<< T minus one minute >>>
“Lana, you don’t know how happy I am that you’re home,” said Gregory as he washed her. “We just can’t have Circus Lana without Lana.” The elephant swung her head towards Gregory’s voice, then turned her attention back to her rare treat of bananas. Everything had been scarce since the Big Death, especially joy and happiness. Gregory and his troupe had been trying to maintain their circus and way of life. They didn’t make much, but they made enough to keep going. More importantly, they brought joy and happiness to people who were mired in the daily struggle to survive, children who had their childhoods snatched away by the Big Death. To everyone, Circus Lana brought hope.
Today had been a great day for Gregory. With the help of Jeremiah, he had found Lana, who had disappeared a few days earlier. Not only that, when Jeremiah and Kurdy had come to the circus’ camping ground, they had brought Polly with them. Gregory hadn’t seen her in years. She had left soon after their daughter China was born, and he had searched for Polly for many years. Now she was with them again, and China seemed to like her. Maybe they could try to be a family.
Finished with Lana, he headed for the shower tent. Inside the tent, he took off his mismatched, patched, colorful Ringmaster garb and pulled the chain for some water, which was, fortunately, warm. As he let go of the chain, a blinding white light engulfed him. The light faded and Gregory stood in the middle of a large room, stark naked, and dripping wet. Looking around he exclaimed, “I could fit Circus Lana into this room, animals included!” causing the other four men to look at each other with varied raised eyebrows.
<<< T zero >>>
“Somebody sure has a thing for wet naked men,” chuckles Gregory. Telemachus Rhade looks around him and sees five other men. They are all naked. They are all dripping wet. They all look remarkably like him. Four of them look human, and one looks Nietzchean. He then realizes he’s the only one with facial hair, his goatee. “What’s going on here?” he asks. The other five raise some eyebrows, look at each other, then at Telemachus. Gaheris says, “I was first to arrive. Someone else appeared every minute after that.” Scott adds, “We should wait and see if anyone else shows up.”
The six wet naked men wait. After about 10 minutes, Camulus says, “It would appear that no one else is joining us. Perhaps introductions are in order. I am Goa’uld System Lord Camulus. I am a god.” Camulus’ eyes briefly glow yellow.
Coburn snarks, “You’re not a god, you snake. I am Major Coburn of the SGC, leader of SG-2. We are enemies of the Goa’uld.”
Gregory snickers and says, “Wonderful, a cockfight. I’m Gregory, Ringmaster of Circus Lana. Have you seen my elephant?”
Scott also snickers and says, “I’ll have to break the trend of single names here. I’m Scott Pierce. I am an enemy of the Taelons.” Scott’s eyes briefly show blue swirls.
Gaheris extends and retracts his bone blades and says, “I am Commander Gaheris Rhade of the All Systems Commonwealth High Guard. I am a Nietzschean.”
Telemachus stares at Gaheris for a few moments before saying, “You are Gaheris Rhade, my ancestor! Some say you were a hero, and some say you were a traitor.” Gaheris raises his right eyebrow. Looking flustered, Telemachus adds, “I’m Lieutenant Commander Telemachus Rhade of the Restored Systems Commonwealth. I was an Admiral in the Tarazed Home Guard, but that’s a long story.”
Gaheris looks at Telemachus and asks, “How long ago?” “Over 300 years,” replies Telemachus. Gregory sniffs, “I just love family reunions.” Camulus snorts, Coburn and Scott roll their eyes.
A bright white light appears, diverting all of their attention. In the middle of the room stands a stark naked, dripping wet man who looks just like them, except for the longer hair, a mustache, and a full beard. The new man looks at the other six damp naked men and says, “Sh…ugar! This can’t be happening!”
Gregory looks at the new man, and decides to introduce himself and the other five. “Oh, don’t panic. I’m Gregory. I like elephants. This is Camulus. He thinks he’s a god. This is Coburn. He thinks Camulus is not a god. This is Scott Pierce. He doesn’t like Taelons. This is Gaheris, and this is Telemachus. They’re Nietzscheans. They’re related. Gaheris is 300 years older than Telemachus. And you are?”
The new man stares open-mouthed at the six men and stammers, “I’m Steve Bacic. I played you. All of you. Just what the Friedrich is this?”
“What do you mean ‘you played us’?” demands Camulus, eyes steadily glowing.
“Yeah, what he said,” says Gregory.
Steve replies, “I played you. You’re all roles in TV series. You, Camulus, and you, Coburn, you are characters in Stargate: SG-1. You, Gaheris, and you, Teleshm…Telemuck…the other Rhade, you are characters in Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda. You, Scott Pierce, you are a character in Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict. You, Gregory, you are a character in Jeremiah. Don’t you just love the elephant? Sorry, I digress. You aren’t real, any of you. This is not real. This just can’t be happening. And why are we all wet and naked?”
Coburn remarks, “Those white light flashes look a lot like Asgard beam technology.” Camulus nods in agreement. Rolling his eyes, an exasperated Steve says, “The Asgards aren’t real. They’re little gray puppets. Beam technology is pure computer graphics.” Coburn asks, “Then how else do you explain all of us getting here? Anyway, I have no idea about the wet and naked part.”
“I have an idea about that,” says Gaheris. The other six men look at him. Gaheris continues, “It would seem that we were all abducted by…the Asgards, unless someone else has a better idea.” They all shake their heads. “I was taking a shower when I was abducted.” “Me, too,” says everyone else except Camulus, who just sneers. Raising his left eyebrow and staring at Camulus, Gaheris says, “The Asgards probably wanted to be certain that we were each alone at the moment of abduction. We all seem to prefer privacy when bathing which makes the showers ideal locations for abductions.” They all look at each other and nod in agreement, even Camulus.
Gregory inquires, “I’ve heard of Asgards. They’re Norse gods, like Odin, and Thor, and Loki. But they’re supposed to look like humans. Are you talking about the same Asgards?”
Camulus answers, “The Asgards are meddling midgets from another galaxy. Thor is the Supreme Commander of their fleet. They possess some technology that the Goa’uld do not. The Asgards and the System Lords have been in conflict for a great many years.” Coburn quips, “You mean they can kick your tails whenever they want to.” Camulus growls at Coburn.
Gregory says, “So the Asgards are extra-terrestrial aliens. Whoa!” Camulus, Scott, Gaheris, and Telemachus look at each other and snicker. Gregory looks at them and exclaims, “Hey, you guys are aliens, too!” Scott replies, “I’m not an alien. I was just possessed by one. Those three are aliens.” Coburn adds, “Actually, Camulus is two aliens. The man you see is just a host to Camulus, the snake who took over the host’s mind and body. Camulus is a parasite.” Camulus’ eyes glow as he lunges at Coburn to tackle him. Steve steps in between Camulus and Coburn, keeping them apart. “Gentleman, we have bigger problems than the name-callings,” says Steve. “We need to find out where we are, and how to get home. If possible, why we are here. At the very least, we could find something to wear. Some towels perhaps. As much as I’m comfortable with my body, I’m not comfortable looking at six other ‘my bodies’. We could split up and search this place. Don’t slip on the water puddles.”
Gaheris walks off with Telemachus in tow. Scott raises an eyebrow at Coburn, and they walk off together in another direction. Camulus growls at Coburn and turns in the opposite direction. Gregory looks at Steve, who shrugs and leads Gregory in another direction.
About fifty feet away from where they started, each team reaches a door. The men open the doors and walk through. As the teams close the doors behind them, bright white lights engulf them. The white lights deposit all seven men in a room in front of a man-shaped shadow with glowing eyes. The shadow booms, “I am the Spirit of the Abyss. To pass beyond this point, you must answer three questions correctly. Every wrong answer will cost one of your lives.”
Telemachus grumbles, “Great. Old Sparky. I thought we were through with him.” Steve rolls his eyes and says, “He’s not real either.” Scott sighs, “Not another non-corporeal alien.” Camulus snorts, “State your questions.”
“First question. What has four legs at dawn, two legs at noon, and three legs at dusk?”
Steve answers the SotA, “Man.” To the others he says, “That’s way easy. My kids are into riddles right now.” The others nodded. The SotA booms, “Correct.”
“Second question. What is one-half of one-half of one-half of one-half of one-half of one-half of one-half of one-half of one-half of one-half of one-half of one-half of one-half of one-half to the one-half?”
Scott says, “Say again?” The SotA answers, “The question has been asked.”
“I counted fifteen one-halves,” says Telemachus. “I counted fourteen,” says Gaheris. “I wasn’t counting, and math’s not really my thing,” says Gregory. “Did he say ‘to the one-half’ at the end?” asks Coburn. Scott replies, “I’m pretty sure that’s what he said, but I only counted thirteen one-halves total.” Steve mumbles as he counts on his fingers, “One-half of one-half of one-half of one-half of one-half of…”
Camulus snorts and answers the SotA, “Thirty-two thousand seven hundred sixty-eight.” The SotA booms, “Incorrect.” Camulus disappears in a cloud of darkness. The remaining six men stare at the spot that Camulus had occupied, then at the SotA, then at each other. Then they resume their calculations, except for Gregory, who looks around the room for a way out.
Scott says, “Camulus missed the square root.” After a few seconds, Coburn answers the SotA, “One-hundred twenty-eight square root of two.” The SotA booms, “Incorrect.” Coburn disappears in a cloud of darkness. The five men curse. Steve continues to mumble, “One-half of one-half of one-half of…” Telemachus and Gaheris look at each other and exclaim, simultaneously, “One over!”
Telemachus answers the SotA, “One over one-hundred twenty-eight square root of two.” The SotA booms, “Incorrect.” Telemachus disappears in a cloud of darkness. Gaheris mutters under his breath, “Fourteen then.”
Gaheris answers the SotA, “One over one-hundred twenty-eight.” The SotA booms, “Correct.” The four men sigh with relief.
“Hey!” shouts Steve. “You already asked two questions.”
“Third question,” booms an irritated SotA. “What is the Ultimate Answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything?”
Gregory asks, “Is this a joke?” The SotA answers, “The question has been asked.”
Gregory answers the SotA, “You are born, you live, you struggle, you reproduce, you suffer, and then you die.” The SotA booms, “Incorrect.” Gregory disappears in a cloud of darkness. Scott mutters, “This is unreal.” Steve retorts, “That’s what I’ve been saying.”
Scott answers the SotA, “All life, all things, the whole universe is one.” The SotA booms, “Incorrect.” Scott disappears in a cloud of darkness. Gaheris and Steve look at each other. They are the only two left. Gaheris raises his left eyebrow at Steve. Steve shrugs and says, “I got nothing.” Gaheris says, “I believe the question is the oft heard ‘What is the meaning of life?’ ”
Gaheris then answers the SotA, “The Great Question is a nonsense question. Instead of asking ‘What is the meaning of life?’ you might as well ask ‘What is the shape of yellow?’ or ‘What is the taste of a circle?’ However, if you’re asking ‘What is the meaning of “life”?’ then that is a legitimate question. The answer to that is the answer already given by Gregory. Since that answer is incorrect, I can conclude that you are not asking for the meaning of ‘life’. That leaves the nonsense question ‘What is the meaning of life?’ Very well, then, the meaning of life is to have purpose in what you do; to have pride and principal in the pursuit of that purpose; to stand fast to your beliefs and values, and to pursue life with vigor and conviction, and with no regrets; to live up to your own expectations, to live up to other’s expectations, and to exceed all expectations; to improve all things around you; to create beauty and knowledge; and to ensure that everything continues to evolve for the betterment of all existence.” The SotA booms, “Incorrect.” Gaheris disappears in a cloud of darkness. Steve curses.
Steve mutters, “What is the Ultimate Answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything? What is the Ultimate Answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything? That has a familiar ring but I can’t quite put my thumb on it.” Suddenly, Steve’s head snaps around and he glares at the SotA.
Steve shouts at the SotA, “Forty-two!” The SotA booms, “Correct. You may now pass, or remain to answer a bonus question.”
“What do I get if I answer the bonus question correctly?”
“I will return your six friends.”
“What if I answer incorrectly?”
“It will cost you your life.”
Steve thinks about it for a few minutes. Finally he tells the SotA, “Ask me the bonus question.”
“Bonus question. What is the Question to the Ultimate Answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything?”
Steve mutters to himself, “I had a feeling that would be the question. I hope I have it right.”
Steve answers the SotA, “What do you get if you multiply six by nine?” The SotA booms, “Correct.”
Steve is engulfed in a white light, then finds himself standing in the middle of a large room, stark naked, and dripping wet. Looking around, he sees six other men standing near him, all stark naked, and dripping wet. They are in the same large room that they first arrived in. Steve shouts, “Oh, no, not again! Why is this happening? Why? Why?? WHY??”
Mrs. Steve Bacic startles awake. “WHY??” shouts Steve again. Mrs. Steve hits Steve with her pillow and says, “Wake up and stop shouting. You’ll wake the children.” Steve sits up, looks around, and discovers that he’s in bed with Mrs. Steve.
He tells her, “I had this really bizarre dream. I was in the middle of a large room with six other guys. We were all stark naked, and dripping wet. The weirdest thing was that they were all characters I’ve played in scifi TV series. We were beamed there by Asgard beam technology from Stargate, and there was the Spirit of the Abyss from Andromeda asking these…strange questions.”
Mrs. Steve says, “What did I tell you about smoking those cigars from that Abby, Addy, Aggie, Ally, Amy, oh, whatever-her-name-is fangirl?”
Steve, clutching his head, replies, “I know, I know, I know. But I was out of my usual brand and didn’t feel like going to the store. Don’t worry. I won’t do that again. I’m going to go get something to drink. Be right back.” Steve gets out of bed and leaves the bedroom.
After grabbing a beer out of the refrigerator, he walks into his office. Opening a drawer, he takes out a cigar from the fangirl. Out on the balcony, smoking the cigar, he muses, “Seven wet naked me’s. And those questions. I was beginning to feel like Arthur Dent. Thirteen is definitely not my lucky number. I wonder what bizarre dreams I’ll get from this cigar. Could be a script or two.”
<<< Fin >>>
(Not So) Obscure Reference Notes:
Friedrich refers to Friedrich Nietzsche, whose philosophy is adopted by the Nietzscheans.
“This can’t be happening!” is what Steve Bacic’s character (he played the erotic dream) says in the episode “Meow” of “Dark Angel”.
The first question is the well-known Riddle of the Sphinx from Greek legend.
The second question is something you may have seen if you had a sadistic math teacher.
Arthur Dent, thumb, Don’t Panic, the Question and the Ultimate Answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything, forty-two, what do you get if you multiply six by nine, thirteen, and towels are all references to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (1952-2001), a trilogy in 5 books.
Arthur Dent, from the planet Earth, is the main character in the series.
The Thumb is a device used by galactic hitchhikers to flag down passing spaceships.
The words “Don’t Panic” is written on the cover of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the electronic book that is used by the characters in the series.
The Ultimate Answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is revealed in the first book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, as “forty-two”.
The Question to the Great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is revealed in the second book, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, as “What do you get if you multiply six by nine?”
Thirteen is the base number that makes the equation 6 x 9 = 42 true. If you don’t want to do or think or see math, skip the next paragraph.
The arithmetic that we (well, most of us anyway) use is base ten (10 fingers, big leap), so 6 x 9 = 54. However, in base thirteen, 6 x 9 = 42. We (that would be a “royal We”) can easily convert 42 base 13 into base 10 by (4 x 13) + (2 x 1) which is 52 + 2 = 54 in base 10. “We” can also easily convert 54 base 10 into base 13 by [ integer(54/13), remainder(54/13) ] = [ 4 , 2 ] = 42 base 13. QED.
A towel is about the most useful thing to a galactic hitchhiker, according to the electronic book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Any hitchhiker who has a towel is assumed to be someone who has it all together.
As for the wet naked men, I have no idea why they’re wet or naked. They just showed up that way.
Why seven of them? Well, I have no idea what to do with more of them.
7 October 2004