Next morning after breakfast, they went to the Stargate and started to dial, in order to contact Stargate Command and report in - and hear if there were new orders regarding the healing drug.
"It won't dial!" Daniel said.
"Well, try again!" O'Neill ordered.
"I already did. Twice. It just won't lock!" Daniel looked at O'Neill with frustration in his eyes.
"Carter - take a look at the DHD. Maybe there's something wrong with it," O'Neill said.
Sam nodded. "Yes, sir."
She kneeled beside the DHD and was about to open the access panel, when a small group of locals stepped out of the forest and approached them.
"You cannot use the Ring of the Ancestors during the Time of Fire and Light," a middle aged man said. "I am Tinnok, leader of Kareka - the village closest to the ring."
"Hello... I am Jack O'Neill. Colonel." He frowned. "The 'time of the fire and light'?"
"The polar lights," Sam guessed.
"Okay. So why can't we leave? Why doesn't the Stargate work?" O'Neill asked.
"The 'Ring of the Ancestors'," Daniel added.
"It is not known why, but it never works at this time," Tinnok said.
"And for how long is that?" O'Neill sounded unhappy. "Only a day or so, I hope?"
"For just over 7 sun rises," Tinnok said. "Usually."
"A week?" O'Neill turned to Sam. "Can't you do something to fix it?"
"Ah... I haven't had time to look at the DHD yet, but I'm not so sure we even want to. If we can."
"We do not. The reason the chaapa'ai does not function is that it would be dangerous to use it. There are safety measures built in. Presumably the solar eruptions causing the intense polar lights would disrupt the transference through the wormhole," Martouf said. "The Tok'ra have observed this before."
"You sound like Carter!" O'Neill looked more than slightly disgusted. "So we're stuck here?"
"Sounds like it," Sam said.
"You are of course welcome as our guests." Tinnok smiled, and bowed to O'Neill, realizing he was the leader of the group of strangers.
"Thanks." O'Neill sighed.
"That's a good thing," Daniel began. "It will give us a chance to ask about that drug..."
Before anything more could be said, the Stargate started dialling, and a wormhole opened. The locals quickly vanished - probably hiding behind some of the nearby shrubbery. It was clear they were either wary of people coming through the Stargate, or unsettled by Stargate activating at a time it should not. Probably both.
"Seems someone can connect to here..." O'Neill observed.
"Colonel O'Neill? Come in." Hammond's voice was heard from their radios.
"Good to hear you. When you didn't report in, we got worried."
"Yeah, seems we can't dial out right now," O'Neill told him.
"What seems..." the signal disappeared in static for a moment. "...blem? Can we send anyone to help?"
Sam quickly took her radio. ""Major Carter here. Sir... do not send anyone through. I repeat. Do not send anyone through. We have reason to believe it may be dangerous to do so. Radio signals seem to work... mostly. This planet's sun is experiencing periodic eruptions, and right now the activity is maximal. It is likely that the solar flares are interfering with the matter stream of the wormhole. The DHD won't dial out, probably to prevent any harm coming to travellers. We've observed similar behaviour from the Stargate network before, and Martouf says the Tok'ra have seen it too."
"Understood. No one will be ...t through. We will try a MALP shortly. Major... any idea why it works from this end?" Hammond asked, amid more static.
"Presumably because we are not using a DHD, but our own computer system. It ignores a large number of the safety protocols built into the DHDs."
"All right. Do you believe there is any danger to you on the planet?"
"No, the atmosphere should protect us. The native population seems unaffected."
"Understood. We are sending a MALP now." Moments later, something came through the Stargate. "Did it come through?"
"Well, something did..." O'Neill looked at the small, smoking heap of crumpled metal. "It did not come through all right - at all. It's completely mangled. So don't send anyone through until we can dial out from this end."
"Okay. Colonel... we received ...rom Washington. Your orders are ...uire the formula for that healing drug. By any - peaceful - means necessary."
"Got it. We'll talk to the locals."
"We will try to contact ...again tomorrow at the same time. Hammond out."
O'Neill turned to Martouf. "Could the Tok'ra send a ship to pick us up?"
Martouf thought about it for a moment. "Yes, but it would take a couple days. This planet is somewhat out of the way. Besides, I am not certain it would be safe for a ship either."
"I don't think it will, actually. I saw something in one of the text yesterday about ships not being able to approach the planet at some times of the year - I just didn't connect it until now," Daniel said.
O'Neill sighed. "All right. I guess we're staying here for now, then."
A little while after the Stargate had shut down, and nothing dangerous had appeared, Tinnok and the rest of the small group of locals had approached SG-1 and the Tok'ra again. After a short introduction, and an explanation of why the Stargate had activated - which did not seem to really interest them, as long as they knew it was harmless - the locals had asked SG-1 and the Tok'ra to follow them.
The road from the Stargate to the village was not long, and soon they arrived in the relatively large settlement.
The village was decorated with flowers and green leaves everywhere, and people looked very happy and smiling. The planet's climate was fairly warm, at least this time of the year, and no one was wearing much in the way of clothing.
"The village has been decorated. Are you celebrating something?" Daniel wondered.
"Yes. It is the time of the fire and lights," the village leader answered, clearly surprised at the question.
"Uh, of course..." Daniel said, frowning.
They soon arrived at a number of small huts.
"These are our guest houses." Tinnok turned to Sam. "Tell me, my lady, to which of these gentlemen do you belong?"
"Belong? I don't belong to anyone!" Sam exclaimed. "Eh... I'm not married, if that's what you're asking."
Tinnok looked surprised, then nodded. He turned to Freya/Anise. "And you, my lady?"
"I am not mated either," Freya answered, then winked discreetly at O'Neill.
Tinnok nodded. "Understood." He showed each of the women to an individual, fairly large hut. The men were placed two and two in the smaller buildings, with the exception of O'Neill, who was given a separate cabin - presumably because he was the leader.
Later, they were all sitting in Sam's hut.
"So... we're all invited... I mean, expected to take part of the local celebrations starting tonight. It should be interesting to observe," Daniel said, looking quite excited.
"Yes." Sam looked thoughtful. "I wonder why they wanted to know if any of us were married?"
"Yes, I thought that was strange as well," O'Neill said.
"Probably they just need to know so as not to offend you, or something. Many cultures treat and dress women differently when they are married," Daniel explained.
Sam shrugged. "That's as good an explanation as any, I guess."
"Okay, enough about that. We should take the opportunity to ask about the healing drug while we're here," O'Neill said.
"Oh, I forgot to say... I already asked," Daniel told them. "They told me they had the drug, and that they would not be averse to sharing it - and the ingredient list - with their friends."
"With their 'friends'... do they consider us friends?" O'Neill asked.
"That.. was not completely clear. I got the impression that we were still being evaluated."
"Wonderful." O'Neill hid his face in his hands. "We had better behave - we're under orders to get that drug, so we can't risk them becoming angry."