Chapter 2

The rest of the winter, and all of the spring passed slowly for the children. The Trust had been found to be infiltrated by the Goa'uld. That was not all - the Trust had also compromised both the US and Russian governments. Because of this, the children were not allowed to leave the base, for fear they would be captured and experimented on.

Slowly, the danger passed, and by the time Sam, Daniel, Martouf, and Freya turned 8 - and Lantash and Anise turned 4 - they were again allowed outside the base for shorter periods of time.

It was summer, and outside Stargate Command the weather was warm and pleasant. However, that was not where they were celebrating their birthday this time.

They had gone to the Tok'ra base where Jacob/Selmak were stationed. Aside from the children and most of the Tok'ra on that, SG-1 and SG-2 participated, as did Janet/Rhiva, O'Neill, Cassandra, and Hammond, who had managed to get the time off from his work at Homeworld Security. He was happy for the excuse to make a short trip offworld, as it was not something he often had the opportunity to do.

"Why can't Mark be here for my birthday?" Sam asked, pouting a little.

"You know why, Sammie." Jacob patted her shoulder. "It's offworld - and at an alien base, even."

"Mark knows about aliens - and it's not really aliens, it's just Tok'ra."

Jacob grinned wryly. "I suspect Mark considers Tok'ra to be real aliens, at least the symbiotes. Anyway, the problem is not so much him, as it's the issue of explaining why he can go visit you, but not his wife and kids."

"They haven't gotten clea-rance," Sam said, matter-of-factly. "Of course they can't go then. Maybe it's time they should get that?"

Jacob slowly shook his head. "Lisa is 10 and William is 12 - they're not old enough that you can tell them something like that and trust them not to speak of it to their friends. In a few years, perhaps."

"Daad! Really! I'm 8! I've known about aliens for years!" Sam exclaimed. "I've never told anything to any friends that didn't know!"

"You don't have any friends who doesn't know! Many of them are aliens!" Jacob sighed deeply. "Besides, you're hardly a typical 8 year old! You know much, much more."

"Does that mean I don't have to go to school anymore?" Sam asked, slyly.

"Nope, just that I hold you to higher standards, young lady! Now, let's go find the others. I'm sure the cook is ready to serve the birthday cake - you don't want the others to eat it all, do you?"

"No!" Sam sounded panicked. "Come, let's go, dad!" She pulled desperately on his hand, and they started to walk towards the Tok'ra mess hall - at a much too low speed for Sam's liking.

The cake was huge, since it was the intention that all the guests - including the 253 Tok'ra currently on the base - should be able to get a slice of it. Actually it was the biggest cake any of them had ever seen - with the exception of one building-sized cake Selmak had seen, which had been made for one of Ra's parties.

It was a chocolate cake, made with chocolate from the planet Cul'huacan - a world famous across the Milky Way for its fine chocolate. It was layered with vanilla cream and chopped nuts, topped with a layer of marzipan and decorated with whipped cream. It was divided into six sections, each with candles matching the number of years of one of the children. Given how large the cake was, the candles did not take up much space.

One at a time the children were allowed to stand on a chair and try to blow out their own section of candles, and no others. Since the cake was as big as it was, there was little risk of any of them being able to blow out more candles than they were supposed to.

Finally, Anise, as the last, had blown out her candles and hopped down from the chair. "That means we can have a slice of cake now, right?" she asked, eagerly.

"We've eaten our cake - can we have gifts now?" Daniel asked, hopefully.

"Soon." O'Neill smiled. "Actually, I think the Tok'ra have a surprise for you." He looked mysterious.

"Surprise?" Sam asked, eagerly.

"What kind of surprise?" Lantash wanted to know.

"Is it candy?" Freya asked.

"No - it's a treasure hunt. For your birthday gifts," Jacob said, smiling.

"A treasure hunt?" Sam looked interested.

"Treasure hunt!" Martouf repeated, sounding excited.

"Awesome!" Daniel started jumping up and down.

"What is a treasure hunt?" Freya asked.

"You follow clues to find a treasure," Daniel explained. "My parents did one for me when I was little. In Egypt! In a tomb!"

"Well, we don't have a tomb for you to explore, but Daniel is correct. You do indeed follow clues that will lead you to your gifts. If you do it correctly," Malek said.

"Do we get to dress up? I was dressed up as a pha-raoh when I did this with my parents!" Daniel informed them, excitedly.

"We do have many costumes for use when we go undercover, but regrettably, I fear none of them will fit you," Aldwin told them.

"The pharaohs were either Goa'uld or Goa'uld followers, dressing up in Goa'uld style. Why would you want to dress like them?" Lantash said, having gotten control from Martouf.

"I can put the correct make-up on you if you want, Daniel," Freya suggested.

"Don't you want to get started on the treasure hunt, so you can get your gifts?" O'Neill asked, seeing that Daniel was considering Freya's suggestion. He did not feel like cleaning make-up off from everywhere, and he was certain the children would somehow get it smeared out over their clothes, at least.

"Yes, we want to begin now," Lantash confirmed. "How do we do this, pre-cisely?"

"Hah, I know what this means," Sam exclaimed, reading the first clue. "It says 'Beside the warm rocks, near the big water.' That must be those rocks near the o-asis, topside! Where we found all those animals last year!"

"Um, I'm not sure... aren't we forbidden to use the ring transporter?" Lantash said.

"Ob-viously not anymore!" Daniel insisted. "It says so right there on that paper. Come, let's go find the rings!"

"Maybe it means something else?" Freya suggested.

Lantash nodded. "Yes, those warm rocks could be the heating stones in the large com-munal spa. They're right beside the largest pool."

"Well, let's try that first, then," Sam said.

"I'll get there first!" Daniel exclaimed, beginning to run as fast as he could, fairly certain he could remember the right way.

The others took off after him, while the adults watched them from the other end of the room, and smiled at their enthusiasm. Making a treasure hunt seemed to have been a good idea.

The next note had indeed been located near the large, communal spa, and the children had found the next clue - and a piece of a map, which they were to save and eventually put together with the rest of the pieces, to show them where the 'treasure' was.

"Where to?" Daniel wondered.

"The Council chamber - I think," Lantash said, hoping he had interpreted the clue correct.

"Come on, then!" Sam urged.

They hurried off.

Chapter 3