Title: Furnishing the Universe, One Room at a Time
Summary: The SG-1 team makes an important discovery.
Spoilers: Not as such
Archiving: Always welcome; just let me know you have done so.
Thanks to: Quinn for polishing a couple of the jokes until they shined, and r_ness for the idea.
FURNISHING THE UNIVERSE, ONE ROOM AT A TIME
The sun was just rising, still hidden by the treetops, as they stepped through the Gate. The road from the Stargate was broad and well-tended, lined on either side with some sort of coniferous tree. It led down a hill, at the bottom of which they could see the corner of a large blue building with yellow trim.
“The MALP was dead on,” Carter said, taking a few readings. “Gravity and temperature here are pretty close to Earth-normal.”
“The condition of the road seems to indicate that the Stargate is an important part of the culture here,” Daniel said. “Looks like it leads down to that building – might be a religious center, a temple of some kind.”
Teal’c opened his mouth as if to say something, then closed it again.
“Let’s check it out,” O’Neill said, waving his team on. “We’ll take a look around, maybe make nice with the natives, see if there’s anything we can learn.”
As they got closer, more of the building came into view.
“It looks like it’s made out of some sort of blue stone, sir,” said Carter. “It’s not a type I’m familiar with from Earth.”
“Daniel, are those letters, up above that yellow stripe?” the Colonel asked.
Daniel squinted a little at the letters. “It looks like it was derived from the early Phonecian alphabet,” he said. “It says something like ykeah. That doesn’t translate into anything, though.” His teammates walked closer; he stood still for a moment, blinking at the building. Suddenly, like one of those stereo optical prints at the mall, what he was seeing clicked into place. “No. It can’t be…” he said under his breath.
“Daniel, you comin’?” Jack called back to him.
“Sorry,” Daniel said, scrambling after them. He wasn’t going to explain his theory just yet; the team would laugh at him faster than the Egyptologists had when he’d proposed that they Pyramids were built by aliens. If he was right, the evidence would present itself in a few minutes.
It couldn’t be possible that he was right. Could it?
They began walking across a glassy plain that surrounded the building. Several vehicles were parked in it. “Sir, I think they’re using some sort of hovercraft technology here. These seem fairly advanced. It’s not Goa’uld, though – I haven’t seen anything like it.”
Jack squinted through the window of the vehicle. “What’s that, on the seat back there? It looks like…a kiddie car seat.”
Carter shrugged. “Perhaps it’s a seat for smaller-sized humanoids, like the Nox. It’s possible those spheres strung in front of the seat are some sort of control device. I’d have to get a closer look. Maybe the people inside will help us out.”
“I believe the entrance is over there,” Teal’c said, pointing.
They walked across what seemed to be an alien version of a parking lot, and up to a glass wall. The wall slid up into the ceiling, and they stepped inside the building.
The four of them looked around. Even though he’d expected it, Daniel was still shocked. His mouth was moving, and he was gesturing insistently, but no words were coming out; all twenty-two languages in his head were fighting for dominance, leaving him silent.
“I think I’ve figured out how that word is pronounced, Daniel,” Carter said, both eyebrows raised.
“Ikea,” Daniel gasped out, the one word that was the same in all the Earth languages that he knew – and, it seemed, a few alien ones as well. He made a few false starts at sentence construction, and finally managed to settle on English. “I – I’d had a suspicion – but – it can’t be, can it?”
“I don’t know,” Carter replied, her words coming with the rapid staccato of someone whose brain has outpaced their mouth. “But look around. The colors, the map in the doorway, the happy, but slightly dazed-looking people over there. Maybe it’s some sort of temporal anomaly, I don’t know.”
“Carter,” O’Neill’s voice was somewhere between a question and an order.
“We’re in Ikea, sir,” she said. “I don’t understand how, but. . .”
“We can’t get the damned store in Colorado Springs, and they got one on P3X-244?” Jack yelled.
Teal’c raised his eyebrows. “You are familiar with this place?”
Daniel walked forward, the others following him. On their left and right were model living room setups, with tags hanging from each piece of furniture. “I always thought Tollan furniture looked suspiciously sleek and Scandinavian,” he said.
“Hey, isn’t that your couch?” Sam said, pointing to a room setup across the walkway.
Daniel looked at the tag. “Kle - no, Klippan.” Either there’d been some interesting vowel shifts over the past two thousand years, or current thinking on Phoenecian phoenomes was about to be set on its ear – either way, the uniformity of the Ikea naming system was providing relevatory insights. “Yeah, it’s the same one I have.” He ran his hand along the surface of the couch. “The leather – or whatever – is softer, though. Maybe they use a different animal here.”
Jack turned to Teal’c. “You seemed surprised we’d heard of –” he gestured around the room. “This.”
Teal’c nodded. “Ikea is a purveyor of furniture, known throughout the galaxy. I was unaware of their presence on Earth. I visited them many times in my capacity as first prime of Apophis.” He let out a small sigh. “Drey’auc frequently complained that I was more willing to enter Ikea with Apophis than with her.”
“Apophis took you shopping?” O’Neill said, incredulous.
“As First Prime, it was my duty to fetch items from high shelves and ensure that all purchases were color-coordinated with his current décor,” Teal’c replied.
Carter shook her head. “Sir, Ikea’s normal mode of business operation is to place their shops near a port of some kind.”
“We’re never gonna get one in Colorado Springs, are we?” Jack sighed.
“Unlikely, sir. But we have to assume, since this one is located almost on top of the Stargate, that on more advanced planets they use the Gate technology to cart materials from place to place.”
“Indeed,” Teal’c said. “Many planets have an Ikea located quite near to their Stargate.”
“Sir – I think this might mean there’s a third Stargate on Earth,” Carter said.
Jack shook his head. “You said two Gates can’t operate at the same time on Earth. Don’t you think we would have noticed by now?”
Carter frowned. “I think we might have a leak in the SGC, Colonel.”
“A leak?” Jack asked. “Wait a minute. You think one of our guys is working for Ikea?”
“Well, Maybourne was keeping the Russians apprised of our gate activity. It could be that the Swedes have someone similar. And, now that I think about it, Sergeant Siler’s apartment did seem suspiciously well decorated, sir,” Carter replied.
Jack stared at her. “I’m not gonna ask how you know that,” he said. Then he looked around. “Hey, wait a minute. Where’s Daniel?”
“This place is a maze,” O’Neill said, as they forged their way through the kitchen section, nary a Daniel in sight. Teal’c’s tracking skill was no help in finding a slightly crazed double Ph.D. who had a lust for modern, yet inexpensive, design.
“It’s intentionally designed that way, sir,” Carter said. “The idea is to get you to buy more by showing you the furniture in a homelike – ooo, isn’t this stool nice? It would fit perfectly in my breakfast nook.”
“Carter,” O’Neill said warningly.
“Sorry, sir,” Carter apologized, giving the stool a last longing glance.
“I thought these places were supposed to be crowded.”
“It is early morning, O’Neill. By midday, there will be many people crowding this place, and a long line for those who wish to partake of the Swedish meatballs and applecake.”
O’Neill paused. “They serve Swedish meatballs here?”
“Well, yeah, sir. They’ve got all kinds of Swedish food in the cafeteria.”
He sighed wistfully. “I haven’t had any good meatballs since I left Minnesota.”
Sam smiled. “They’ve got lingonberries on the side, sir.”
“Lingonberries?” O’Neill desperately tried to cling to his dignity amid rumors of fine Scandinavian food.
“The cuisine at Ikea is far better than our normal rations,” Teal’c added.
“What, Apophis ate here, too?”
“Indeed. He was especially fond of the almond cake.”
They continued down the walkway, and suddenly heard a voice from another kitchen setup – the echoy distorted baritone of a Goa’uld. “What do you mean, you have discontinued the rose stain for these cabinets?” the male voice howled. “Nothing else is suitable. I demand you reconsider.”
“I’m sorry, sir, but all decisions about products are made on a planet-by-planet basis,” said the salesperson, without a hint of fear in her voice. “I can inquire as to the availability on other worlds, if you would like.”
“See to it!” said Yu, huffily. His eyes flashed gold as he gathered up the sleeves of his gown and stalked towards another part of the showroom floor, followed by his retinue.
Jack began to raise his P90, only to have the muzzle pushed down by Teal’c. “What are you doing?” he asked.
“Ikea is a zone of true neutrality, O’Neill,” Teal’c responded coolly. “None may attack another on its premises, or on the trail to the Stargate. Only one has disobeyed this rule, and he has not been welcome at any Ikea since that day. Nor will he, ever.”
“Who, Anubis?” Jack asked.
“No, Ba’al,” Yu hissed as he walked by. “Did you think that the Tau’ri posed a threat to him? He merely wished to have Ikea for himself.” Directing his ancient eyes toward the footstools, he strode away, his minions carrying five throw pillows and a set of plaid dishtowels.
Jack shook his head. “This…is definitely weird.”
They found Daniel when they entered the bedroom section of the store. He rounded a Gutvik bunk bed at top speed, wheeling a cart in front of him, nearly knocking the bed over onto the family of four who were looking at it. “Slicha,” he said to the family, breathlessly and apologetically.
“For cryin’ out loud, Daniel!” Jack ranted, gesticulating wildly. “We’ve been looking all over for you!”
“I know. I’m sorry. I just had to see if they had it, and they did!”
“Had what?” Jack asked, trying to read the unfamiliar script on the box. It didn’t make any sense. Maybe it was upside down. He turned his head. “It looks like Greek to me.”
“It’s the Lärare bookcase set. It’s been discontinued on Earth for years!” Jack hadn’t seen Daniel this excited about anything that wasn’t a new language, or a trash heap that the archeologist insisted could explain the evolution of a culture. “I’ve been hunting for these on eBay and Craigslist, but no one ever had them in a color that matched the ones I’ve got. And look!” Daniel continued, picking up an ovoid sitting in the cart. “See this?” He tapped the side, and it emitted a steady glow. “It’s a lamp. It adheres to the wall, or to a table, and it’s naquida-powered.”
Jack took a step back from the light. Sam stepped forward. “Naquida-powered?” she asked, trying to take it out of Daniel’s hands.
“Here. I knew you’d want one,” Daniel said with a little smile. He handing her another from his basket before rushing on. “And look at this! They’re little stands for knickknacks, which emit a forcefield, so any item you put on it will hover. It won’t fall over if you accidentally bump into it. I’ve got a Jin dynasty bowl that I’ve been afraid to put on the shelf in my apartment – this would be perfect!”
“Hang on a minute. Naquida-powered light?” Jack said.
“They seemed to be based on something like an LED technology,” Carter said, running her hand over the light. “They don’t get very warm.”
“Oh, and see?” Daniel reached over Carter’s shoulder, brushing his finger against a small circle on the surface of the light. The color of the light changed from white to blue, and then began shading toward red. “Instant mood lighting.”
“Sir, we have to take this back. It’s worth analyzing the technology,” Sam said.
“It’s important,” Daniel said, giving Jack his most convincing sincere face, the one he usually saved for getting in between Jack and people who deserved to be shot.
Jack cocked his head suspiciously. “Somehow, I suspect you’re not doing this for the good of Earth.”
“Ja-ack,” Daniel whined. Translation: “Stop being such a fuddy-duddy.”
“Daniel,” Jack said. Translation: “What did you just call me? And no, you can’t buy a new toy.”
“Jack,” Daniel replied, sternly. Translation: “I’m sorry I called you a fuddy-duddy, now will you just listen?” “We can use this technology. Besides, you know my apartment has practically no electrical outlets.”
“Fine. And just how do you propose we do this? Smuggle your bookcase out in one of our many pockets?” O’Neill asked, shaking his vest at Daniel.
“No,” Daniel said, in the tone of voice that implied he was talking to child. He unbuckled his own vest, reached into an inner pocket, pulled out his wallet and started rifling through it. “See?” he said, brandishing a piece of blue and yellow plastic. “Ikea charge card.”
“The SGC isn’t within five hundred miles of an Ikea – why the hell do you have one of their charge cards? And, besides, how do you know that thing will work out here?”
Daniel shrugged. “They ship; it just costs extra. Within the US, I mean.” He let out that nervous giggle that Jack thought he’d lost his first year back from Abydos. “I don’t know if they’d ship from here.”
“O’Neill,” Teal’c cut in, quiet but confident. “It is my experience that every Ikea accepts the payment methods of other worlds. I do not know how this works, only that it does.”
“Sir,” Carter said, looking up from her naquida powered distraction device long enough to interrupt. “There’s no reason we can’t take it back through the gate. We have to give a report to General Hammond, anyway. It might be good to have something we can show him.”
“General Hammond does often request that we return with technology from other worlds,” Teal’c opined.
“It’s Ikea,” O’Neill waved his hand in front of himself in frustration, but he knew when he was outvoted. When none of the others were looking, he tossed a knickknack into the cart – three small neon colored fish swimming in mid-air, encased in a force-field.
After a grueling march through the gigantic complex, they found themselves efficiently herded to the checkout counter. The cashier barely batted an eye at Daniel’s card.
“Ooo, get this, too,” Sam said, putting a catalog onto the cashier’s table. The fact that the text was in some godforsaken dialect of Phoenecian didn’t even seem to matter to her.
“How are we gonna get this all to the Gate?” O’Neill groused.
“Shuttle service runs every half hour from our front door to the kukob’shu’ ur,” the cashier said as she efficiently rang in Daniel’s purchases, using a small sensor on her fingertip to read a code from each price tag.
“Listen to the way she’s eliding the vowels!” Daniel hissed to Jack. “If I could come back and spend more time here, it could advance the study of Semitic languages by decades!”
“You just want to buy more bookcases,” Jack said.
“No, I think I’m set. But have you seen their kitchenwares department?”
Her smile was almost sincere when she asked if they had a pleasant shopping experience. “That will be nine hundred eight Sidonia, sir.”
“Put it on my card,” Daniel said.
“Aren’t you going to ask about the exchange rate?” Jack whispered in his ear.
Daniel shrugged. “We’re bringing home important alien technology. I’m sure the General will let me expense it.”
“Please remove your eyeglasses for the retinal scan, sir,” the cashier asked in a slightly bored tone. Daniel pulled his glasses off, and she moved her index finger in front of his eyes. A green light scanned his left eye for a moment. “All set, sir. Have a wonderful morning.”As Daniel wheeled the cart away from the cash register, Jack said, “Hey, as long as you’re charging things, how about we stop for some of those Swedish meatballs?"
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