"What did he say the competitions were today?" O'Neill asked.
"Water skills - which I'm guessing is swimming, though it sounded like there were several separate parts to it." Daniel frowned. "Oh, and then there's the 'bonus' contest. Tinnok didn't say anything about what it was, other than it was something no one had ever succeeded in completing before."
O'Neill grimassed. "Not exactly encouraging, but I guess that means the locals won't be able to do it either, so we can just forget about that contest, and focus on winning without it."
"I agree. We should assume the winner will be determined from the other competitions," Martouf said.
O'Neill stretched and winced. "I really hope it's just a short swim. I mean, I'm good at swimming, don't get me wrong - I just really don't feel like soaking in cold water right now!"
"I do not believe the water will be actually cold, perhaps closer to tepid, since the weather is fairly warm. True, it will depend on the size of the body of water," Martouf said.
O'Neill grumbled something inaudible, but they were almost at the ceremonial grounds, so he decided not to argue further.
The first event was not swimming, but instead they had to construct a fishing net from a sort of fibrous plant. As soon as they had done that they would go to a stream that held many fish.
They then had one hour to catch fish, after which they would return and be judged on the quality of both the net and the number of fish caught.
O'Neill was pleased to hear about this contest, as he had learned to make fishing nets on one of his black ops missions. It had been the only way he and his fellow soldier had been able to get food, and the other man had learned it as a child, and had been happy to teach O'Neill.
This meant O'Neill did a good job constructing a fishing net, and he also managed to catch several fish, meaning he was awarded 7 points for the net, and 8 points for the number of fish.
Martouf and Lantash did not have much experience fishing, and even less in making nets. Lantash's first host had tried it as a little child, but that was all. As a result of this, the net they managed to make broke apart as soon as they attempted to use it. After patching it up, they succeeded - mostly by pure luck - in catching a fish, which they brought back to be judged.
They got 0 points for the net, and 2 points for catching the fish.
Daniel did a fairly good job, having seen such nets made and used before, on his travels to different parts of Earth.
All of this meant that Martouf/Lantash and O'Neill now shared a second place behind one of the local men - and that with one competition to go, unless you also counted the bonus challenge, which they all felt uncertain of.
Freya/Anise had done a very good job of creating a net and catching fish - and she had kept her first place, even if some of the others were very close.
The last regular event was swimming. Bathing suits did not exist, and it soon became clear that they were all expected to swim naked.
"What did you expect?" Sam grinned. "Didn't you remember that Daniel said they were hedonists? Not exactly the kind of people who have an aversion to nudity, you know!"
"Yeah, yeah..." O'Neill grumbled.
"The Tok'ra have no problems with nudity," Martouf said, starting to remove his clothing, just like the locals - and just like Freya and Anise were doing.
Sam looked away at first, then surreptitiously glanced back at Martouf, as he dropped the rest of his clothes. He caught her looking, and gave her a naughty smile. She blushed, but did not look away, instead allowing herself to look at his now completely naked body.
Martouf's eyes flashed as Lantash took over control. He leaned close to Sam and spoke in a low voice, "Do you like what you see?"
Sam's cheeks reddened further, but she nodded. "Um... yeah. I do."
Lantash smiled widely. "Good!" He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. "Wish me luck!" He told her, as he went over to the starting position where the others were getting ready.
Sam looked after him, dazed, for a few moments. She suddenly experienced several memories from Jolinar - and knew exactly how it felt when he kissed her deeply, when he fondled her breasts, sliding his hands down between her legs... the sounds he made when he came, how he smelled... She shook herself, and managed a "Good luck!"
Recovering fully, she quickly looked around to see if any of her team mates had seen her reaction, but it did not seem so. Daniel and O'Neill were both gawking at a naked Freya/Anise, and Teal'c was talking to Aldwin about something. She breathed out a sigh of relief and turned back to look at Lantash.
The swimming competition would be held in a local lake near the village. It was about a third of a mile across, so that was the distance the participants would be swimming. The water was relatively warm and pleasant at this time of the year, and there were beautiful sand beaches around most of the lake.
It was truly a pleasant place, and it was normally used for recreation by the local population. Since the water was not very deep anywhere, old and young would play and swim in the water.
Freya and Anise were good swimmers, and made it across the lake fast enough to take a second place in her group. Together with her other points, this guaranteed that she would win - unless one of her competitors were able to succeed in the mysterious bonus challenge, despite the fact that no one had ever been able to.
The last of the groups to swim was the men vying for Sam's favours. Some of the locals in that group were very good swimmers, but despite that, O'Neill and Martouf/Lantash managed to get the second and third place in this event, with Daniel coming in as a nice fifth.
Fortunately, the local man that was the best swimmer was not the one that had been in the lead before the swimming contest, so both O'Neill and Martouf/Lantash were now ahead of him and all the others in Sam's group - with O'Neill at 48 points total, and Martouf/Lantash at 47 points total.
O'Neill pulled his clothing back on and looked at Martouf and Lantash with a puzzled expression. "What went wrong?"
"What do you mean?" Lantash answered, irritated. He pulled his boots on, finishing dressing.
"Why didn't you win this round? Aren't you an aquatic sn... lifeform? Shouldn't you be better at this?"
"I can swim with great speed - and easily out-swim you or any other human - but not in a host. Then a symbiote can only swim in the same manner as a human, of course." Lantash explained, patiently - though he seemed to be growing ever more annoyed at O'Neill.
"Sucks!" O'Neill grinned widely. "Too bad! Well, fortunately I won, so Carter is safe from the local men..."
"The competition is not over yet, human. There is still the bonus-contest, which may change the result!"
"Yeah, right! Fat chance of that! No one's ever won it before. Only a snakehead would be overconfident enough to think he could do it!"
Before they could continue their 'discussion', Tinnok stepped up on the large platform that had been erected at the edge of the ceremonial grounds.
"Good. All the contestants have done their best, and showed great skill and stamina. We have truly witnessed a great game over these four days! Now we go on to the bonus-competition. As you know, the winner of this - if there is one - will get 100 points! Easily assuring him victory in all but the largest groups. But, as you also know, no one has ever succeeded! This year we are blessed by our honoured guests from beyond the Ring. Is this going to be the year where we see success beyond our wildest dreams? Truly, our planet would be even more blessed if that were to be the case!"
Tinnok continued his speech for some time, before the high priest ascended the platform, followed by four young girls, who carried a large box. After them came a man, carrying a pedestal, which he placed near the end of the platform.
Meanwhile, a couple other men raised a wooden screen at that end of the platform.
"I wonder what they are doing?" O'Neill asked. "Now they're removing a vase or something from that box, and putting it on the pedestal! A very heavy vase!"
"Preparing for the last contest, obviously," Lantash said, still sounding annoyed.
"Yes, of course they're doing that! What I meant was what is that contest going to be?"
They were interrupted by Tinnok speaking up again. He held a small cloth bag in his hand. "We are now ready to test your abilities in using this ancient device. According to legend, it should be possible to use it to push something - from a distance! Thus, in this contest you are going to attempt to move the vase without touching it, using only the device. We are going to allow our dear guests to try first!"
Tinnok now removed the device from the bag, and held it up for all of them to see.
O'Neill stared unhappily at it. "This is not fair!" he grumbled.
Lantash looked at the device too, and immediately grinned widely. He walked to the platform and jumped up on it. Tinnok smiled at him and handed him the kara'kesh - the hand device.
"Thank you," Lantash said, as he quickly put the kara'kesh on.
"Impressive! I have never seen anyone be able to put it on with such effortlessness. It is a good sign indeed!" Tinnok looked very happy.
Lantash walked over to inspect the vase, and saw that it was full of water. He returned to the middle of the platform, and activated the hand device. Instead of using a shockwave, he used an energetic form of the ribbon-mode, and hit the vase with an intense beam of energy,
The audience gasped when they saw the strange device actually do something - first starting to glow, and then a beam of light spring from it. Moments later, steam rose from the vase, as the water started to boil. The people watching gasped again, and began clapping and cheering loudly.
Lantash smiled confidently at Tinnok, who looked on in shock and awe.
"Hey! Shouldn't he move the vase? He merely made the water boil!" O'Neill shouted from his place near the platform.
Lantash threw him an annoyed look, before he stepped further back. He then turned towards the vase and raised his hand with the hand device. Moments later he threw a shockwave at the vase, hitting it and throwing it hard against the wooden screen behind it. The water spilled out and the vase broke into pieces.
Lantash smilingly made a half-bow towards the audience, and they went wild, cheering and clapping. Lantash's gaze found Sam, and she was smiling at him. He smiled back, warmly, then looked over at O'Neill, who had an annoyed, irritated expression.
Lantash turned to Tinnok, as he took off the kara'kesh. With a half-bow, he gave the ribbon device back to Tinnok.
"Congratulations! You are the first ever to succeed! This is a most auspicious day indeed! You certainly deserve your 100 points, young man. I hope you win the contest, though that will surely be the case. There is not going to be other contestants who will be able to succeed in this!" Tinnok smiled again, very happy that this had happened during his leadership. He turned to the other contestants. "Of course, you will all be allowed to try. Proceed!"
While Tinnok had spoken, a new vase filled with water had been placed on the pedestal.
All the other men who wanted to win Sam went up there, one at a time. The only exception was O'Neill, who knew very well he would not be able to activate the hand device.
Lantash, still in control, walked back to the group to await the completion of the games.
"So, you won. It doesn't matter, of course, who won, as long as it was you, me, or Daniel. We only did it to save Carter from the locals, after all, not to win her," O'Neill reminded them.
"I am well aware of that, Colonel O'Neill. I am merely pleased to have been the one to do so."
Grumbling, O'Neill turned back to watch the rest of the games.