Author: Michael Weyer
Stargate SG-1, all rights and properties owned by MGM.
JAG, all rights and properties owned by CBS.
1. Right past season four's "Upgrades", "Avatars of Sung" by Steve Pantovich.
2. O'Neill, Daniel, Carter and Teal'c all have empowerments by the god Tyr.
3. Teal'c's forehead emblem and symboint have both been removed due to Tyr's influence.
4. O'Neill and Carter are carrying on an intimate relationship.
5. The events of the episodes "Jolinar's Memories" and "The Devil You Know" did not occur.
1. Up through midway of season 4, my stories "Of Immortal Life and Liberty" and "The Pursuit of Happiness."
2. Harm and Mac are both Immortal and lovers.
3. The two are unaware that Admiral Cheggwidden is their Watcher.
A little ditty that hit me. Hope you like it.
Cheyenne Mountain, CO
June 2nd, 1999 - 0013 Hours CMT
Personal records of Dr. Janet Fraiser, CMO, Stargate Command RE: Events of
recent Tok'ra armband "gifts" upon SG-1 (File name: "Upgrade.")
I hate having to agree with Colonel O'Neill. I really do, more than anything. Unfortunately, in this case, I'd have to say the Colonel was right on the money with his assessment that the sudden arrival of the Tok'ra would mean something nasty was about to happen. What do you know? It did.
"Beware of Greeks bearing gifts." I'm becoming more rapidly convinced it was the Tok'ra the writer of that little ditty had in mind. I've kept my opinions on them mostly to myself. I'm not a full operations officer so I don't have as close contact with them as the SG teams but I do feel that the standoffish manner and rather one-sided treatment of this "alliance" isn't going well for us. And what just happened just proved that point.
I try to keep an open mind about people but when Anise started to throw her weight around, I instantly disliked her. She treated me like a third-grader, talking about how the technology she was showing off was beyond my comprehension and that I couldn't hope to understand it. What really got to me was that her host, Freya, seemed as arrogant as the symbiont was. Between both of them getting in my face, I was a bit on edge, which no doubt helped to add to the tension of the situation.
When Anise told us what the armbands they had discovered were for, that should have been enough to get all my alarms ringing. The entire story about the narcotic that granted the owners enhanced abilities was rubbing me the wrong way. I told General Hammond that I couldn't predict the effects for a normal human. Given how Anise wanted to try them out on three people empowered by a God (I still can't believe I just wrote that), it was even more unpredictable.
I was surprised to learn that apparently the General has yet to inform the Tok'ra about the recent...shift in SG-1. Well, hell, they keep secrets from us, keeping a couple from them isn't too bad, in my opinion. But it meant that Anise wasn't aware of how the armbands might affect Carter, O'Neill and Daniel. Then again, I strongly suspect that even if she had known, it wouldn't have changed her decision one bit.
I made my concerns known to the General and was pleased that he agreed with them. However in "the interests of the alliance" he allowed Anise to carry out her "tests." And that's when I got a good look at how things can go to hell in a hand basket quicker than you think.
It started slow at first. O'Neill managing to punch out Teal'c in a practice session. Carter able to see clearly in a room in pitch darkness. Daniel managing to translate in sections the saying on the armbands: "With great power comes great responsibility." (Funny, that sounds so familiar for some reason.) The physical upgrades were a lot more than I expected. Unbelievable speed, they were literally a blur in action. Their strength had grown measurably, as did their speed and reflexes, far more than what had already been done to them. Plus, their senses appeared more finely attuned. And to top it all off, their metabolism was at such a rate that they were soon chewing down on half the lunchroom.
But it wasn't long before I noticed how their attitudes were getting worse the longer they kept the armbands on. Maybe that Tok'ra condescending attitude is contagious or something but it was coming to the fore with those three. Now, O'Neill, I would expect the ego from. But Carter sniping at me when I suggested the bands weren't that good was unexpected. So she could write a book on wormhole physics in an hour, that is not an excuse for getting in my face about true and actual concerns for her health. Even Daniel was biting back when I suggested he might want to remove the armbands off. And that was before they seemed eager for a little action.
(On that subject, I suppose I should be grateful O'Neill and Carter managed to keep enough sense not to try anything...intimate while under the influence of these things. Their affair is pretty much an open secret among the base but throwing it out in the open would mean some official reprisals on both. Plus, I really did not need that mental image in my head.)
It got worse when, after my recommendations, they attempted to remove the armbands, only to find out they couldn't. The bad part was that they didn't really seem to mind, they were enjoying their new abilities. The Colonel actually went to Hammond's office and did all but strong-arm the General to have SG-1 go on a mission. Thankfully, the General knew a soldier not in his right mind when he saw one and refused. Then O'Neill practically broke a technician in half when he gave a "friendly pat" that shoved him over a railing and down to a floor below. They were confined to quarters where, in a move that I couldn't believe Carter and Daniel would agree too, all three went against orders and their lockdown and left the base to grab a bite to eat at a local bar and grill. After each downed a few steaks, there was an altercation with a group of locals which ended in a brawl, with SG-1 coming out on top, after a lot of damage to bar and bodies.
Hammond was more than a little upset by all this and his mood wasn't helped by my recent findings: That the narcotic was starting to become too ingratiated with their body systems and was sending them into stress levels the human body was not meant to reach. For all the talk about "reaching full potential" health clubs put out, it is a basic fact that there are natural limits to what humans can and should do. And SG-1 was getting dangerously close to hitting those limits.
While Hammond justifiably had the trio on the carpet over their actions, Anise (whose efforts to help remove the armbands had been minimal to say the least) showed up to inform Hammond that the Tok'ra had just discovered a deadly new battleship being built by this mysterious new System Lord. And guess whom they thought should take it out?
Hammond may appear a bit slow on the uptake when it comes to scientific matters but he knew a bullshit story when it came around as well as I did. The Tok'ra assessment of human intelligence must be lower than I thought if they seriously believed we would buy this "we just found out about it" coincidence crap. Anise had it all planned out, to use the newly empowered SG-1 to do the Tok'ra's dirty work for them. Seeing the looks of anticipation on their faces, Hammond immediately had SG-1 confined to quarters while exchanging a few nasty words with Anise.
We brought Teal'c in to talk about the situation. It was when he asked if there was a computer in Carter's room that we realized too late how Anise had played us. She'd deliberately mentioned the battleship and that the information was in the system's computers, knowing the eager for action SG-1 would go for the mission immediately. Which they did.
Again, we underestimated how strong and fast Carter, O'Neill and Daniel were. They'd escaped from their quarters, knocked out the technician crew and activated the Stargate before we knew it. Teal'c got there just in time for them to leave and before I found out a little something.
I took an oath to do no harm. Despite my military training, I still hold to that oath. But I swear to God, when I found out the last bit about the armbands, I was ready to kill Anise. Maybe it's true, maybe she didn't know that the narcotic would burn itself out after a limited time, the armbands would break free on their own and the added abilities would vanish. But for such an expert who kept throwing her knowledge in our face, she sure missed a big one. After some quick calculations, I realized the burnout might also effect the empowerments the three already carried, which meant that Carter, O'Neill and Daniel were soon going to be powerless and feeling hung over while inside a major Goa'uld stronghold.
Hammond immediately ordered Teal'c on a rescue mission and Teal'c made it clear that if anyone was killed, he was going to take it out on Anise and I doubt either Hammond or myself would have lifted a finger to stop him.
I suppose it's a testament to their abilities that O'Neill, Carter and Daniel managed to stay alive long enough for Teal'c to show up and help them and that they ended up destroying the ship to boot. I guess seeing them alive again put Hammond in a good enough mood to skip the court-martial and say they were under the influence of an alien device. Of course, he did make them have to apologize for their various abnormal behaviors over the last few days. Teal'c, of course, had nothing to apologize for and I had to love the little smug smile he gave when he informed O'Neill of that little fact.
So, SG-1 is on a cool-down period while I make sure they don't feel any more side effects from what happened. Anise beat it back to the Tok'ra before they could fully realize what she had done and good riddance. And I'm ready for yet another migraine check to make sure-----
Fraiser started and looked up, her hand automatically shutting off her tape recorder. She glanced up, her short red hair a bit frayed, her lab coat hanging over her uniform loosely. Seeing General George Hammond standing in the doorway to the lab, Fraiser started to rise to her feet.
"At ease, Doctor," Hammond said. He appeared a bit frazzled himself, his white shirt sweat-stained and wrinkled, his face drawn. He stepped into the lab, giving a quick look around before looking at Fraiser. "Doctor, what is your assessment of SG-1 at this moment?"
Fraiser frowned at the question before replying. "Well, sir, I don't know if I'd recommend them going back out into the field soon but they are making a good recovery. There's been a slight psychological downturn with losing the abilities but that's to be expected and I'm sure it won't linger too long. A lot of it is tied in with the remaining traces of the narcotic. Once it's been purged from their systems, they should be fine. Why do you ask?"
Hammond took a deep breath before replying. "We may have a problem."
Fraiser closed her eyes and shook her head. "General, permission to speak freely?"
"Why is it this one team gives me more headaches than the rest of the entire SGC combined?"
"I'll let you know when I figure it out myself, Doctor."
Falls Church, VA
0831 Hours EST
"Enter," Admiral A.J. Chegwidden called out as the knocking sound faded. He glanced up as the door opened and Harmon Rabb and Sarah MacKenzie entered. The two were in uniform but a careful eye could tell they'd dressed hurriedly, their hair still a little wet. Raising an eyebrow at them, Chegwidden spoke up. "I didn't catch you at a bad time, did I?"
"No, sir," the two chorused, trying to appear nonchalant. Chegwidden supposed it was a little petty of him to call in the two when he knew they were having some "off-duty" time and pretend he didn't know anything about it. Of course, even if he weren't their Watcher, he'd know Harm and Mac were sleeping together. It was just so obvious and yet they apparently thought no one was the wiser. *It figures. They were in denial about their feelings for so long, now they're in denial over their keeping it quiet.* Brushing aside the thought, Chegwidden got down to business.
"At ease, Commander, Major...oh, sorry, Lt. Colonel."
"That's all right sir," the recently promoted Mac said. "I'm still getting used to it myself."
"Again, sorry to drag you on a weekend but something's come up," Chegwidden said, motioning for the two to sit down. He opened a folder and placed a pair of files on the desk before them. "Three nights ago, there was an altercation at a bar in Colorado, just a few miles outside of Cheyenne Mountain," he began. "Two Air Force officers and a civilian operative were involved in a brawl that resulted in a variety of injuries against some locals as well as a few thousand dollars worth of damages. The injured parties have been making some complaints and an investigation has been called for."
"What do the officers have to say?" Mac asked, perusing the file.
"That's one of the things you're going to be finding out," Chegwidden said. "They've been throwing out some "sensitive matters" line to the local P.D. You'll be interviewing the officers themselves, see if charges should be filed."
"Sir, this is an Air Force base," Harm observed. "Why are we being assigned to it?"
"The base's commander, General George Hammond, is an old friend of mine," Chegwidden replied. "When he heard this might turn into an official investigation, he called in a favor. Plus, the two of you have experience with sensitive cases and the base falls under that."
Mac frowned at the file. "Deep space radar telemetry? There's a military base for that?"
"Probably explains why they started a fight," Harm muttered. "That's probably the most excitement they've ever see."
"I'd appreciate it if you two could keep this quick and quiet," Chegwidden said. "You could say you're representing me here. I told Hammond I was going to be sending my best."
"Thank you, sir," Harm nodded.
"But Bud wasn't available so you two will have to do."
"Old joke, sir."
"I steal my laughs when I can, Colonel. Your flight leave in ninety minutes. Good luck."
The two rose and saluted him before moving out. Watching them leave, Chegwidden shook his head and went back to his desk. "You owe me big for this, George," he muttered, just knowing this wasn't going to go well.
0946 Hours CMT
"So, exactly how are we going to be reamed now?" Colonel Jack O'Neill didn't appear too nervous about suddenly being called into the conference room. He, Major Samantha Carter, Daniel Jackson and Teal'c were seated along the table as Hammond took his seat at the end of the table. Carter and O'Neill were wearing their uniforms, Daniel in his usual ensemble of uniform pants and open coat over a dark shirt. Teal'c wore his usual fatigue pants and dark shirt and Hammond was still getting used to seeing him without the gold emblem on his forehead. The former Jaffa was far more at ease than the others, due no doubt to the fact that he wasn't the one facing major heat for his actions.
"Actually, Colonel, you may be closer than you know," Hammond intoned as he leaned forward. "It appeared your little altercation at the bar and grill has had some new consequences."
"I thought we were cleared on that, sir," Carter stated with a frown. "Privileged information and all that."
"Had it stayed then and there, it would have been cleared up, Major," Hammond told her. "However, some of the men you assaulted-----"
"Sir, it wasn't exactly an assault----"
"Quiet, Dr. Jackson. Some of those men have been making some rather loud complaints about being beaten on by members of the United States Air Force."
"Now how could they know who we were?" O'Neill said.
Hammond glared at him. "Perhaps it was the sudden cry of 'USAF rules!' that tipped them off."
"Sorry about that, sir. It sort of slipped out."
"I could guess, Major Carter. Anyway, the complaints have risen and have now reached JAG."
"Ah, hell," O'Neill groaned and Carter winced as well at the revelation. Daniel frowned, glancing about the table. "JAG? What's JAG?"
"Judge Advocate General," Hammond informed the civilian. "They investigate incidents of a criminal nature in the military and prosecute as they see fit."
"They're military lawyers," O'Neill explained to the archaeologist. "And if that's not enough to make you sick, I don't know what is."
"And this is the first time we're dealing with them?" Daniel asked, raising an eyebrow in surprise. "Wow, we're doing better than I thought."
Sighing, Hammond went on. "I just received word that two JAG officers are flying out here to get your side of what happened."
O'Neill stared at him. "Sir, are you telling me we have to sit here and explain this whole thing to two JAG lawyers?"
"Very good, Colonel," Hammond dryly stated. "You actually understood something without my having to explain it more than once."
"Sir, is this really----"
"Yes, Major, it really is necessary," Hammond cut her off. "And it could be worse. When I heard the JAG department was going to be contacted, I called in a favor. It happens that a friend of mine is a JAG head in Virginia and he's arranged for two of his best people to come out here to handle this."
"What old friend is this, sir?" Carter asked.
"I believe you may remember him, Major," Hammond said. "Admiral Chegwidden.
The three humans groaned and even Teal'c appeared annoyed at the name. "God, just what we needed," O'Neill complained. "We have to put up with the best people under the command of that arrogant asshole?"
"I'm sure he'll be saying the same thing about us soon, Colonel," Hammond said. "Regardless, he has done his best to accomodate us with this situation so I ask that you attempt to show some respect for once. Try not to embarrass me with these two."
"You don't trust my tact, sir?"
"How can I trust what doesn't seem to exist, Colonel?"
"He's got you there," Daniel had to point out to O'Neill, who glared at him before turning back toward the general.
"How are we going to handle this?" O'Neill asked. "I assume they're not cleared to know about the Stargate."
"Not the Gate itself," Hammond admitted. "But they have high enough security to be allowed on base and know it's a sensitive matter. If we keep them away from operations and under watch, we should be able to handle it. Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter, Dr. Jackson, you three will get your stories straight and get ready to relate what you can to these two."
"Sure, Teal'c gets to sit this one out," O'Neill muttered.
Hammond fixed him with a glare. "Teal'c didn't get involved in this mess. Teal'c didn't directly disobey my orders and go out on his own while not knowing the full situation. Teal'c didn't start a brawl over nothing, Teal'c did not, I repeat, did *not* knock out the entire control room of the Stargate and Teal'c actually went in to clean up your mess!"
"I thought we were forgiven for that," O'Neill almost pouted
"I said I would do my best not to have charges pressed against you, Colonel," Hammond replied. "That's a very long way from forgiveness."
"General's pet," O'Neill muttered at the smirking Jaffa.
"Um, General?" Daniel spoke up. "I take it I don't have to be here."
"Why would you take that, Dr. Jackson?" Hammond asked in curiosity.
Daniel frowned in puzzlement before elaborating. "Sir, I'm a civilian. So, I can't be court-martialed."
"Re-read the agreement you signed when you joined this project, Doctor," Hammond informed him. "You fall under military jurisdiction and rules which means, yes, you can be held accountable for your actions in military tribunal."
A slightly panicked look came over Daniel's face. "I need to go over that again."
"Well, we do have lawyers coming," O'Neill informed him. He turned toward Hammond. "Just who are these two, sir?"
"Commander Harmon Rabb, Navy and his partner, Lt. Colonel Sarah MacKenzie, Marines."
Both O'Neill and Carter closed their eyes and groaned. "Great," O'Neill muttered. "Just great. A squid and a jarhead. Just what we needed."
"What is the problem, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked.
"They're Navy and Marines, Teal'c," O'Neill said. "The former is pretty much good for taxi service while the latter is for the people who flunk the intelligence exams for the other branches. God, we couldn't at least get our own department handling this?"
Teal'c raised an eyebrow. "There are still many things about your culture I do not understand, O'Neill. And among them is this feeling that one branch of the military must be superior to another when you should all be working equally for a common goal."
O'Neill glared at him. "I really hate it when you make such biting observations."
"As you wish," Teal'c answered with a shrug.
O'Neill sighed. "Someday, that superiority is going to get you into trouble, Teal'c."
"Strange," Teal'c said. "Someone once said that about you."
"Sorry," the civilian stated. He stopped and thought for a moment. "MacKenzie..." He closed his eyes and groaned. "Oh, God, Scottish meets Irish and whatever the hell this Rabb is."
"From what I saw of his files," Hammond stated. "His father went to Russia a lot."
Daniel groaned again. "Is it too late to get out of this?"
"The meeting or the SGC?" O'Neill asked.
"Let me get back to you on that."
Hammond closed his eyes and rubbed at his head. *You owe me big for this, A.J.*
United Flight 175
Midair over Midwest
1104 Hours CST
"I don't get this," Harm muttered as he flipped through the file before him. "I just don't. It's really weird."
"Which part?" Mac asked from the seat next to him. "That a deep space radar telemetry installation would be located within a mountain with a budget that goes unrecorded?"
"That and the people who apparently help run it," Harm answered. The two were dressed in loose civilian clothing, Harm a pair of jeans and light jacket over his shirt while Mac wore a light pair of slacks and a dark blouse, her jacket folded behind her. The two didn't go commercial often but liked being able to take a flight out of uniform and the perks that went with it.
"I mean, look at this," Harm said, holding up his file. "A decorated former Special Ops soldier who decided to join a science facility? An Air Force captain who looked to be on the fast track to NASA and who prefers to be stuck in a mountain? And whose cancer-stricken father, I might add, vanished from his deathbed and off the face of the earth? And of course..."
"The piece de resistance," Mac agreed. "An archaeologist who pulled a vanishing act himself after being blackballed from the mainstream scientific community for his goofball theories on how the pyramids were built by aliens." She shook her head in disbelief. "So far, I'd say court-martialing these three would be a benefit for the entire nation."
"All stuck in some research facility in a Colorado mountain," Harm muttered. "God knows why Bartlett even okays this crap in the first place."
"I'm hoping once we get there they can give us a report that can actually be read," Mac complained. "I don't do well with pages that have 'classified' stamped all over them."
Harm sighed. "Well, hopefully, we can get this settled quick and maybe even get a little extra time on our hands."
Mac brightened at that. "Well, we are going to Colorado. Maybe I can get some hiking in."
"That sounds good," Harm agreed. "I've been wanting to try a little rock- climbing."
Mac smiled. "Yep. Then camp out under the stars. Just us, our tent and the stars."
"Why bother with a tent?"
Mac looked at him with wonder. "Why, Harm. Are you suggesting we go commando?"
Harm smiled back. "Consider it getting back to nature."
"Ooongowa," Mac smirked. "Ah, can't wait for that."
Mac looked at him, her eyes narrowed. "Okay, you've got a devious look on your face. What, are you enjoying the flight?"
"Somewhat," Harm allowed. "I am thinking, though..." He let a sly smile come to his face as he looked at his partner. "Ever thought about doing one thing on commercial we can't do in a fighter jet?"
Mac raised her eyebrows. "Are you serious?"
Harm stole a look down the aisle and then looked back at her. "Bathroom looked big enough, it's a long flight, no one's watching...Come on, this will probably be as high as you can get to make love."
Mac thought for exactly two seconds before nodding. "Give me two minutes and I'll meet you there." As she watched Harm unbuckle and walk down the aisle, she began to think that maybe this trip wouldn't be so bad after all.
1402 Hours CMT
"You're sure they can handle this?" Hammond asked Fraiser.
"Sir, it's just talking," Fraiser responded. "There shouldn't be any physical activity involved. Well, at least I hope not." She and Hammond were walking down the hallways of the SGC toward the main elevator shaft. Hammond was in his full uniform while Fraiser kept her coat over hers.
"I'm concerned about the mental abnormalities they were having," Hammond informed her. "It's hardly going to be helping their case if they start to act high and mighty and condescending to these two."
"Well, sir, a lot of that was tied in to the narcotic in the armbands," Fraiser told him. "It has dissipated quite a bit so they should be at their normal attitudes. Not that that's much better."
"How do you mean?" Hammond asked in confusion.
Fraiser looked at him. "Sir, these are Navy and Marine lawyers. This is Colonel O'Neill."
"You expect trouble."
"There's already a betting pool going on how long until O'Neill throws the first punch."
"You really think he'll act so unprofessionally?"
Fraiser gave him a look.
"Put me down for three hours and fifteen minutes," Hammond intoned as he and Fraiser stopped in front of the elevator doors. They stood, calmly waiting as the buzzer rang out. The doors slid open and Harm and Mac, in full uniform, stepped out. The two immediately came to attention and saluted Hammond, who returned it. "Commander Rabb and Lt. Colonel MacKenzie reporting, sir."
"General George Hammond, facilitator of the installation," Hammond replied. "This is Dr. Janet Fraiser, our CMO. If you'll go with her, we can get started."
"Sir?" Harm frowned.
"We require an immediate medical check for anyone who enters the facility," Hammond informed him. "We have some sensitive equipment here and we do try to keep the area as clean as possible. If you'll just accompany Dr. Fraiser, she'll have you checked out and then we can get started."
Harm and Mac shared a look of slight foreboding but then shrugged and followed Janet out. This didn't sound too bad. It was a simple medical check, how rough could that be?
"Good God, my last ob/gyn was less thorough than that!" Mac groaned as she and Harm, their uniforms slightly disheveled, walked down the hallways of the SGC. A pair of soldiers followed them, with an aide leading them along. The two had spent the last half hour in an intensive examination, put through everything from blood samples to mouth and ear checks as well as a few scanners they hadn't even known were there. It was hardly the best way to put the two in a good mood.
"They're trying to put us off-balance," Harm decided. "There's no way they make everyone go through that when they first arrive here."
Mac shot him a look. "Why, Harm," she said softly. "You almost sound...jealous."
Stealing a look to make sure the aide and the soldiers were far enough away, Harm leaned in and whispered to her. "Call me crazy, call me sappy, but I kind of like it that I'm the only one who gets to know what you look like naked."
Mac did her best not to blush and just shook her head. "We can't do anything while we're here but first chance we get, I'm laying you a good one for that."
"Cheap pop!" Harm shot back.
"Oh, please," Mac said. "You'll say that every chance you get."
"It's true," Harm said. "About me enjoying seeing you naked that is."
Mac raised an eyebrow at him. "Is that why you suggested I turn down that offer from Playboy for a "Ladies of the Marines' feature?"
"Mac," Harm said seriously. "You know how hard they come down on personnel who do that stuff. Is your career really worth a brief moment in the sun?"
"I guess not," Mac admitted.
"Now, if it was Playgirl looking for a Men of the Navy thing, well..."
"Put the ego back where it belongs, flyboy," Mac chided. Sighing, she looked back at Harm and her face grew serious. "Listen, Harm, whatever you do, don't piss off this O'Neill. He's a Colonel *and* he's special Forces."
"Oh, come on, Mac, I'm Immortal. What's the worst he can do to me?"
"Jack, whatever you do, don't piss off Rabb," Carter told O'Neill. "He's an expert pilot *and* a lawyer."
"Oh, come on, Sam, I'm empowered by Tyr. What's the worst he can do to me?" O'Neill shrugged. He seemed uncomfortable in his uniform, tugging at the collar a bit as he took a seat at the table. Carter was next to him, also in uniform, appearing a little more at ease. Daniel was wearing his best suit (actually it was his only suit) and looked as out of place as possible, fiddling with his tie nervously. The trio was in an auxiliary conference room, the regular one being too close to the Gate to keep things quiet. It was less fancy, a simple long wooden table and a few smaller tables the only furniture, with a large ceiling lamp glaring down.
"I still don't see why this is even necessary," O'Neill complained. "The general should have been able to take care of this himself."
"Maybe he didn't want to," Daniel said. "And you know, we were asking for it with what we did. Breaking orders, starting a fight, being verbally abusive to a few people, I think we may deserve some punishment for it."
O'Neill sighed and looked at him. "Daniel, I keep telling you, that stand up to consequences Boy Scout attitude is going to get you into serious trouble one day."
"Jack, if I try to remember how much serious trouble I've been in since I met you, we'll be here all day," Daniel remarked.
O'Neill rolled his eyes and tapped his fingers on the desk. "Lawyers. I'd rather dig old Snake Breath out of whatever hole Sokar buried him in and bring him back to life rather than spend time with these guys."
"Relax, Jack," Carter said, giving him a quick rub on the shoulder. "Come on, we get through this and we'll have some time off." A smile came to her face. "I'm sure we can think of a few things to pass the time."
O'Neill smiled back and was about to lean in for a kiss when Daniel coughed into his hand. The two glanced up to see Hammond entering the room and quickly broke apart. While his accidentally walking in on O'Neill and Carter in "intimate circumstances" had given Daniel a mental image he could do without, it did allow him to give the two a heads-up when they were about to cross the line.
Hammond spared a glance at Carter and O'Neill and once again was amazed at how the duo assumed they were managing to keep their affair quiet when it was so obvious they were together. Hammond knew he should separate them onto different teams but figured that would cause too much of a fuss. *Hell, they've broken more rules than I can remember, what's one more?* "Dr. Fraiser has just finished her exams," he announced as he stood at the end of the table. "Rabb and MacKenzie are on their way up."
"Rapture," O'Neill muttered.
Hammond fixed him with a glare. "Colonel, I don't want to have to order you to be on your best behavior, for no other reason then the fact I know you don't do well with orders. But try to be civil for once?"
"I'll be the soul of discretion, sir."
Before Hammond could comment on that, the door opened and the aide stepped inside, Harm and Mac behind him. Amidst the full uniforms, Daniel felt a tad underdressed as the two groups saluted one another. "Commander Rabb, Lt. Colonel MacKenzie," Hammond began. "This is Colonel Jack O'Neill and Major Samantha Carter. And Dr. Daniel Jackson."
"Good to meet you," Harm said as he and Mac sat on the opposite side of the table from the SG-1 team. The two of them opened up a set of folders and spread out the papers. "Let's get started," Harm went on.
There was a pause for a few moments while he and Mac flipped through the papers. The military figures glanced at one another, a bit confused as to what the delay was. O'Neill was ready to speak but a glare from Hammond quickly silenced that.
Harm finally looked up toward Hammond. "General, we're having problems with this report."
"How so?" Hammond asked.
In answer, Harm held up a sheet of paper littered with black marks. "The fact that every other line on this report has been edited out with black ink," he stated. "General, just what kind of work do these people do?"
"I'm afraid that's classified."
"Then how about these 'extenuating circumstances' you refer to in the report?" Mac pressed.
"That's also classified," Hammond repeated.
Harm pursed his lips and pressed on. "What about the overview of the last mission they took before the brawl took place?"
"Oh, God, is there anything on this base that is *not* classified, General?" Mac demanded.
"Bathrooms are down the hall," O'Neill offered.
Harm shot him an ugly look. "You have a problem with me, O'Neill?"
"Well, not you per se," O'Neill said. "I just hate lawyers in particular. Far as I'm concerned, they're nothing but a pack of lower-feeding dirtbags who take pleasure in making other people miserable."
Harm looked at him carefully. "Let me guess. Divorced."
"Shocker," Mac muttered.
Harm sat back in his chair and tapped the file. "Okay, let's get down to some things you can tell me. Who threw the first punch?"
"Um, I did."
Harm and Mac both stared in obvious disbelief at Daniel. "You did," Mac said, not hiding her skepticism.
Daniel nodded. "Yes, yes I did."
Daniel looked at the table. "Well, they sort of...um, they...um..." He looked down and coughed. "They called me a geek."
Harm and Mac looked at him expectantly. "And?" Harm prodded.
"No and," Daniel shrugged. "They called me a geek, I took exception and, well..."
If they were dubious before, Harm and Mac found themselves completely thrown by now. "You started a fight that sent six men to a hospital and caused five figures worth of damages because they called you a geek?" Harm demanded.
"That's, um, that's about the size of it," Daniel admitted.
"Is this your defense?" Mac asked. "Extremely thin skin?"
Harm shook his head. "And this is the first time you've ever gotten into such trouble?"
"Trouble's our business," O'Neill shrugged in response. "But you're Navy so you wouldn't know."
Harm fixed him with a cold look. "I'm really hoping you're not one of those guys who think the Navy's only purpose is to be a taxi service for all the other armed forces," he said in a chilly tone. "I'm a pilot too."
"So?" O'Neill shrugged. "I'm Air Force. You know, where the real pilots go?"
As Harm made a mental note to find a way to kick O'Neill ass when this was over, Mac quickly stepped in. "Major Carter," she said. "Just what is your part in this project?"
"Well, I'm mostly scientific research for our radar equipment," Carter replied. "It's a lot of technical stuff, so I can't go into much detail."
"Well, our records will need all the information we can get. If you can tell us----"
"Well, no, I don't think you'll understand it," Carter went on. "At all. It involves technical terms that are far beyond your comprehension."
As Mac made a mental note to find a way to kick Carter's ass when this was over, Hammond tried to break into the argument. "Commander, Lt. Colonel, I understand the need for the JAG office to find out what happened, but we do have restrictions on what we do and who we tell. I'm hoping you can give us some leeway---"
"General, since your Colonel O'Neill here just loves pushing the frankness," Harm stated. "I personally think this whole place is one big cash cow and whatever trouble your people got into has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with them getting drunk and starting a fight for no reason."
While Hammond found it hard to totally disagree with Harm's assessment, he still had to keep a tight rein on things. "Commander, I can assure you, there was a reason for their actions. I simply----"
"Simply can't tell us what it is," Mac interrupted. "We get that, General, we've been getting that ever since we got here and to be frank-----"
"That'd be new," Hammond couldn't help muttering under his breath.
"We're tired of getting the runaround and we'd like some answers," Mac said.
"Well, you might not be ready for the answers," O'Neill said. "You don't have our mind set."
Harm stared at him for a moment before turning toward Mac. "Let me see his bio again."
Mac passed over a sheet of paper. Harm took it and swiftly skimmed it with his eyes. "Yep," he nodded. "Born and raised in Chicago, that explains a lot."
"We know the feeling," Daniel stated.
Harm put his hands on the table and leaned forward to fix his best glare at SG-1. "We are not leaving here until we hear what we want to know."
"Sir, if it gets them out of here any faster----"
"Colonel, be quiet."
"Just putting in my----"
"Shutting up, sir."
"Doctor, we've got that new batch of arrivals to go over," an aide informed Fraiser. The CMO was making some notations on a pad and gave a quick nod in reply. SG-8 had come across a Goa'uld prison camp during a routine scouting mission. After a brief firefight, with no casualties to the SG team, they had managed to get the prisoners, twenty strong, back through the Gate. They had already gone through preliminary checks and Fraiser was set to run through the more high-screen ones.
Although she was careful not to say it out loud, Fraiser sometimes wished she could get a chance to see a body that was a lot more alien than the ones she usually got. The refugees were mostly the worst for wear, with evidence of mistreatment abounding. They were dressed in tattered clothing, with dirty faces and downcast expressions and not even Fraiser's attempts to console them seemed enough.
"Doctor, can you help me with this one?" a nurse called out as she tried to examine a young girl.
"I'll be right there," Fraiser stated. "As soon as----"
"Doctor!" Fraiser turned to see Corporal Hastings rush up. The young medical aide seemed flustered, her dark hair held back in a ponytail and her face one of amazement. "Doctor, you need to see this," she said breathlessly.
"What?" Fraiser frowned at the sheaf of papers Hastings held up.
"We just got back the full test results on those two JAG people," Hastings said. "And Doctor, it's...My God, it's----"
"Corporal, try to maintain some decorum," Fraiser chided as she took the papers away. "I don't know exactly what it is but you still have to have some sense of----" She stopped, her eyes widening as she flipped through the papers before her. "Are----are these true?"
"Yes, ma'am," Hastings confirmed.
"My God," Fraiser whispered. She took a moment to absorb what she was reading. She then turned and dashed over to the wall. Yanking the phone off its receiver, she swiftly dialed in a number, failing to notice how one of the refugees was watching this with interest.
"You know what's interesting, Colonel?" Harm said. "Nowhere in this report do I see anything about the three of you being off-duty when this happened. Did you actually go AWOL in order to start a brawl in a bar only a few miles off the base? Did it not occur to you that might not have been a bright move?"
O'Neill bristled at the way Harm phrased the question. "Are you inferring I'm an idiot?"
"No," Harm calmly answered. "I'm implying it, you're inferring it."
Listen, Rabb," O'Neill said, his tone sliding from annoyance into menace. "Read my file and you'll see I spent six fun-filled months in an Iraqi prison. I don't take very well to being interrogated by people, least of all lawyers. You come in here and throw your weight around and think because you're JAG, you'll have us lining up and answering on command. You know what I have to say to that?"
"No, but I'm guessing it'd be something stupid," Mac threw in with a smirk.
O'Neill opened his mouth to shoot back a retort and Hammond was never so grateful to hear the phone ring as he was now. He picked up the receiver and spoke. "Hammond here."
"Sir, this is Fraiser," the doctor's breathless voice came on the other end. "Sir, I need you to confine Rabb and MacKenzie immediately."
"Doctor, what are----"
"Sir, I'm invoking Medical Priority 3, I need them confined immediately."
Hammond didn't hesitate. Hanging up the phone, he got to his feet and called out. "Guards!" Both SG-1 and Harm and Mac were confused as to Hammond's sudden actions. Two uniformed guards entered immediately and Hammond motioned toward Harm and Mac. "Take these two into temporary custody and under careful guard."
"Excuse me?" Harm demanded as he and Mac immediately shot to their feet.
"Commander, I apologize for this," Hammond said. "But this is an immediate situation with our medical officer and-----"
"General, if this is some bullshit tactic to put us off, it won't work!" Mac said. "We are not going to let ourselves be manhandled like this!"
"Commander, I'm afraid the situation is rather out of your hands," Hammond stated. "Guards, take them away."
"You can't do that!" Harm protested.
"I was so sure he couldn't do that," Harm muttered as he sat on his small cot. He and Mac were inside a small room, their beds and a table the only decoration. Mac paced back and forth restlessly, obviously not in a good mood.
"I swear to God, if we've stumbled upon another military conspiracy, I'm going to kill myself, I swear to God, I will," Harm remarked.
"Can you put it off till later?" Mac snapped. "I could really do without the smell right now." She paused and looked at her partner. "I wouldn't worry too much."
"What are you talking about?!" Harm demanded. "We've been incarcerated in the middle of the Earth under Cheyenne Mountain!"
Mac smiled. "Hammond's going to have to call the Admiral and explain why he's detaining us."
A smile came to Harm's face as well. "Oh, God, I wish I could see the look on Hammond's face when that comes on."
Mac stole a look around and sighed. "If it weren't for the fact I'm sure this place has some bugs and hidden cameras, we could pass the time well."
"Life's full of disappointment." Harm sat back on the cot, shaking his head. "I just know that O'Neill had something to do with this. I just know it."
"Yeah and Carter helped," Mac added. "Those two are so obviously together, it's ridiculous."
"They're doing it."
"Aw, come on, sir!" O'Neill protested. "The way they look at each other, the way they talk, sit next to each other and act, it's obvious!"
Hammond sighed and rubbed at his head. Nearby, Teal'c raised an eyebrow, a bit unsure as to what was going on. He had arrived to join the others after hearing about Harm and Mac's imprisonment. All he had heard the last few minutes was bickering about some conflict between Carter and O'Neill and a pair of lawyers and was feeling a bit behind the times.
"Colonel, to be perfectly frank," Hammond coldly stated. "What those two do is the business of them and their commanding officer, not you. And may I add that they are here due to your own foolish actions so I wouldn't be going around talking about them in a negative light."
"I talk about everyone in a negative light, General," O'Neill defended. "It's my character trait."
"Wouldn't you need character first, sir?"
"Et tu, Carter?"
Everyone looked up as Fraiser strode into the briefing room, a folder in her hands. "Doctor," Hammond called out. "I'm hoping you have a good reason for ordering two United States officers locked up."
"We appreciate you stepping in, Doc, but this is hardly going to help our case."
Ignoring O'Neill, Fraiser stood at the edge of the table, placing the file down. Taking a breath, she began to speak. "Sir, I was going over the examination results for Commander Rabb and Lt. Colonel MacKenzie and I noticed some...anomalies in their makeup."
"Such as?" Hammond pressed.
"They're perfectly healthy."
There was a long pause as everyone looked at each other. It was Daniel who asked the question they were all wondering. "And that's a problem, why?"
"Because they're *perfectly* healthy," Fraiser related. "And that's humanly impossible."
"Explain that, Doctor?" Hammond demanded not so much as asked.
Flipping open the folder on the table, Fraiser quickly went over the papers before her. "To start with, these two have immunity levels that are literally off the charts."
"So get new charts," O'Neill said.
Sighing, Fraiser went on. "Their cell reproduction rate is just as high, reforming in ways that should not be possible. Their metabolism is so fast, we can barely track it. They could probably eat a full ten-course meal and not gain a single pound."
"Wish I had that," Carter muttered.
Fraiser continued, her nail flicking along the charts as she recited the data. "Skeletal structure is fortified, makes it harder to snap bones. There's an increase in brain activity as well, I'd say they could use two, maybe even five, percent more brain power than most people are able to. There's something else, some sort of...energy inside them."
That got Carter's attention. "Alien?"
Fraiser shrugged. "It's nothing I've ever seen before. There are electrical impulses in the human body, that's basic life science. With these two, however..." Fraiser shook her head. "To try and make it simple, it's like you or I would be a small village and they're Las Vegas."
"So, what you're saying, Doctor," Hammond said, rubbing his chin. "If these two got sick, they could recover faster than you or I?"
Fraiser shook her head. "That's just it, sir. I don't think these two could get sick if they wanted to. They could stand outside in the pouring rain for an entire day and I doubt they'd so much as sneeze afterward."
"Handy," O'Neill observed.
"How come no one's caught this before?" Daniel asked.
Fraiser ran a hand through her hair. "Well, it could be due to a new phenomenon, something that only happened to them recently. Plus, keep in mind, due to the nature of this facility, we do much more thorough examinations with far more sophisticated equipment than a normal military physical."
"Doctor, can you speculate as to the cause of these odd physiologies?" Hammond asked.
Fraiser shrugged. "I'd guess it'd have something to do with a...physical mutation triggered by some sort of event."
O'Neill raised an eyebrow. "That's your explanation?"
"It's a guess, sir, not a hypothesis," Fraiser said. She shook her head yet again. "The thing of it is, their basic genetic makeup is human but this...."
"So, they're a little different," O'Neill said.
"A *little?!*" Fraiser demanded. She stared at O'Neill in disbelief. "What would you consider a lot different?"
Even as she asked the question, Fraiser regretted it. That regret was confirmed as O'Neill spoke. "Amazons, elves, gargoyles, demons, Gods, Goddesses, King Arthur, and traveling to another dimension that's the basis for a Dungeons and Dragons game."
Fraiser stared at him for a long moment before looking back to the safety of her charts. "I almost wish I could go on one of these missions," she muttered under her breath.
"So what do we do with them?" Hammond openly asked.
"Give them to Maybourne and hope they'll kill each other?"
"Oh, come on!" O'Neill added. "Don't tell me you haven't thought about it at least once!"
"At least I'm a professional about it," Hammond calmly replied.
Teal'c raised an eyebrow at the way O'Neill winced. "O'Neill have you been officially dissed?"
Resisting the urge to smile, Hammond turned back toward Fraiser. "Doctor, what is your recommendation?"
"Well, sir, it's hard to make a serious recommendation when I still don't know exactly what the hell I'm looking at," Fraiser admitted. "However, finding out more about them and why they're this way would be a definite starting point."
"Should Carter and I interrogate them, sir?" O'Neill asked. Next to him, Carter appeared to brighten a bit at the suggestion.
Hammond sighed and tapped at the table. "I know you're loving the irony of that, Colonel but give them a little time first. It might make them more corporative."
"No problem, sir," Carter said. "It'll just make the talk all the sweeter."
*God help me, it's not enough that they're sleeping together, they're thinking alike now!* Hammond thought to himself.
Teal'c saw the looks on the faces of Carter and O'Neill and looked toward Daniel. "I take it there is friction between those two and Carter and O'Neill?"
"Friction?" Daniel snorted. "Try combustion."
"Much like when Colonel O'Neill deals with Colonel Maybourne?" Teal'c asked.
"He *did* suggest giving the lawyers to them," Daniel pointed out.
Teal'c slowly nodded. "Pitting one's enemies against each other. He has learned well."
Hammond glanced over toward Fraiser. "Doctor, do you have anything for a headache?"
"I'll save you what I don't use myself, sir," Fraiser assured him.
If there was one thing the personnel of the SGC quickly learned was that you had to go with the flow a lot on the base. Weird happenings were quite common and the soldiers had learned that the less they knew, the better off they'd be. So, the two MP's stationed outside the room Harm and Mac were locked in were simply standing on guard, as was their duty. Their eyes were locked ahead, their poses ramrod straight as they waited for anyone to come by and let them know what they were supposed to do next.
That the someone in question was one of the refugees was not what they were expecting. He was a tall man with a good build, a dark turban over his head, his robes not as torn or ragged as the other escapees. His hands were folded together, his stride strong and with definite purpose, his face hard and seemingly prepared for something.
As the man came forward, one of the MP's held up his hand. "Halt," he called out. "This is a restricted-----"
They never knew what hit them.
"Leave behind the swords, you said," Mac complained as she paced about. "We won't need them on the trip, you said."
Harm sighed as he rose to his feet. "Mac, we went through three pat-downs and four scanners before we could even get on the elevator. There's no way we could have explained the swords. We would have gotten into some trouble."
Mac stared at him incredulously and threw out her hands. "Hello!"
Before Harm could reply, the door unlocked and opened. The two immediately turned to face it and were both startled when a strangely dressed figure stepped inside. "Who the hell----"
Before Harm's question could finish, the man held up one hand. Harm and Mac had just enough time to see the odd golden device that seemed to stretch inside the man's palm. The device let out a bright glow that instantly transfixed the two. They stood there, their faces slipping into blank expressions as their conscious minds shut off.
Meaning they saved themselves the experience of a wild trip.
"Doctor," Hammond began. "How long do you think it will take to find out more about these two?"
"That all depends, sir," Fraiser said. "I'd have to do even more tests, we'd have to see if they're forthcoming about the reasons, it could take a while."
"I ask because sooner or later, their commanding officer is going to be calling and demanding to know why his officers haven't checked in," Hammond explained. "And trust me, Doctor, A.J. Chegwidden is not a person who buys a bullshit excuse."
"Damn, lucky I never got him as a commanding officer."
Before Hammond could yell at him, the klaxons suddenly started to blare around the base. In a flash, everyone at the table was on their feet and rushing to the door. As they entered the hallway, they nearly ran into the platoon of rifle-carrying soldiers who marched at top speed toward the Gate room. SG-1 tried to catch up as best they could.
"Oh, this doesn't look good," O'Neill remarked as they came up to the steel doors leading into the Gate Room. Before it, the soldiers had paused, several of them trying to pull at the handle but it wouldn't budge. "We're locked out, sir!" One of them called out to Hammond.
Without a word, Hammond turned and yanked a nearby phone off the receiver. "Gate room!" he barked into the phone. He paused at the long silence. "Gate room, this is Hammond, come in!" He slammed down the receiver and started to run back down the hallway with a speed that most of the soldiers didn't think him capable of.
Hammond took the stairs as fast as he could and came up to the door leading to the tech booth for the Gate room. He yanked on the handle, but found it frozen. O'Neill came up next to him and tried to yank back as well. He stopped and stared at the way the metal appeared to be melted slightly. "Damn thing's welded shut," O'Neill muttered.
"General!" Hammond and O'Neill turned to see Teal'c pushing his way through the pack of soldiers. His staff was held in his hands. "Permission to----"
"Given," Hammond immediately nodded as he and O'Neill moved away from the door. Teal'c lowered the staff, the end pointed directly at the lock and primed it.
"I would recommend you all take several steps back," he announced. Obediently, the soldiers backed away as Teal'c aimed the staff and thumbed the trigger. A blast of energy ripped out and smashed into the lock, blasting it away. With a swift kick, Teal'c burst the door open and entered. The rifle- toting soldiers were quick to back him up, their weapons raised and ready as they stepped into the room.
There were only a half-dozen technicians on duty at this time, all of who were sprawled around the room in various poses and places. Carter rushed over to the console to try and figure out what was going on while Fraiser moved to check a technician who was slumped over the workstation. Placing two fingers on his throat, she paused, then sighed with relief. "He's still alive," she called out. "Sir, we need to-----
The blasting sound from the room before her got the attention of her, Carter and the rest of the people inside the room. They all looked up to see the Stargate coming to life and a figure moving up the ramp. "Carter, shut it down!" Hammond yelled.
Carter shook her head even as her fingers flew over the keyboard. "We're locked out, sir. There are command overrides all over the place, I can't even seal the iris."
They all stared out the window as the figure paused at the edge of the ramp. He turned around to show his face and Fraiser started as she recognized him as one of the escapees she had seen only half an hour before. For the first time, she could also tell that he had Mac slung over one shoulder like she weighed nothing while he dragged Harm by the scruff of his neck. Both officers appeared to be unconscious, limp weights that the man seemingly had no trouble carrying.
"Sir!" Another MP suddenly came into the booth and moved toward Hammond. "The two officers you had us look after are gone and the soldiers guarding them are unconscious!"
"Thanks for the heads-up," O'Neill sarcastically said.
The "refugee" looked up at the control booth and a smile came to his face. His eyes flashed a bright white and when he spoke, there was a booming echo to his voice. "The Iramus are my Lord's! And soon, they will become his prized lieutenants!" With another smile, he turned and walked through the Gate, taking Harm and Mac with him. Almost instantly after he passed through, the Gate shut down, the wall of energy vanishing and leaving a silent chamber behind him.
A long silence passed through the room. Hammond simply stood there, his jaw slowly tightening and Daniel could see a couple of veins beginning to throb in his forehead.
"Well," O'Neill finally said. "This isn't going to look good on our next performance review."
June 2nd, 1999 - 1704 Hours PST
Jack O'Neill had never really realized how General Hammond's face seemed to shift in color when he was angry. That was mainly due to the fact that he was usually the one Hammond was angry at when he started yelling. However, since it was Fraiser who was getting the brunt of the General's anger, O'Neill had time to watch as Hammond's face turned into a rather fascinating mix of red and purple.
He had to give Fraiser credit. The doctor stood straight at the end of the conference table, not backing down and doing her best not to flinch as Hammond railed at her. The General was hardly in a good mood and it definitely showed.
"Doctor, can you please tell me how in the HELL a Goa'uld managed to sneak into this base undetected, right under the nose of all those tests you're supposed to perform, kidnap a pair of United States military lawyers, render the entire technician crew unconscious, start the Gate up and take those two to God only knows where?!"
O'Neill leaned toward Cater. "If smoke comes out of his ears, it's every man for himself."
"Shut up, Colonel!" Hammond barked out.
Swallowing, Fraiser tried to reply. "Permission to speak in my defense, sir?"
"You're going to be speaking like a goddamn *civilian* in a minute if you don't speak up, Doctor!"
Collecting herself, Fraiser started to speak. "Sir, that man was part of the collection of refugees we had gotten from the most recent mission by SG-11. They had been brought to the lab for examinations and I was just about to start when the results on Rabb and MacKenzie were brought to my attention." Fraiser resisted the urge to look at her feet and focused on Hammond's angry face. "I placed the order to hold them and got the notes together to show you and I...believed that one of my other doctors would be able to finish the examinations themselves."
"Apparently, you thought wrong," Hammond bit out. He shook his head as he paced around his side of table. "Doctor, you are DAMN lucky none of those technicians or soldiers are dead or you'd really be in the shit!"
"I am grateful, sir," Fraiser replied. "However, it's less for myself and more for the fact that I know you hate having to write those letters of condolence."
Hammond froze her with a glare. "Doctor, I am in no mood for you to suddenly take on some of Colonel O'Neill's sarcastic tendencies."
"That's the difference between me and Colonel O'Neill, sir," Fraiser stated. "I was being sincere."
"Look, sir," O'Neill spoke up. "This guy slipped by her. It happens! Maybe you should just -"
Hammond turned and glared at him. "Colonel. You are the last person in the world I want to hear making excuses for someone right now."
"Geez!" O'Neill sniffed. "You let one guy make a robot duplicate of you that scares the shit out of someone and you never hear the end of it!"
"At least your robot double is probably capable of following orders," Hammond grumbled.
Fraiser coughed and began to speak again. "Sir, I take full responsibility for what happened and if you ask for my resignation, I will give it-----"
"Doctor, when I want a martyr, I'll ask for Joan of Arc," Hammond cut in.
"I thought those Sunnydale guys had her on speed dial, sir."
Hammond slowly turned and glared at him. "Colonel, half an hour ago, I was trying to figure out how to tell Chegwidden that two of his officers had been detained. Now, I have to figure out a way to explain how they've totally vanished. How the hell am I supposed to tell him that they've been abducted and taken to another planet?"
O'Neill made a show of looking upward in concentration. "Permission to take a moment to come up with a clever quip, sir?"
Hammond decided he wasn't getting anywhere with this line of thought and turned back toward Fraiser. "Doctor, I will decide what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken against you. For now, I want to know where that Goa'uld went and why he took those two."
"Well, as to the former, sir," Carter quickly piped in. "While he was good enough to get the Gate going and start it up with enough time to take those two through it, he didn't do a good job covering his tracks. We've managed to track him to an unexplored world, one that we weren't due to check out for a few months yet."
"Ah, road trip."
"Shut up, Colonel," Hammond said. "Major, you're saying the coordinates were left in the computer?"
Carter nodded. "As I said, sir, he didn't take the time to erase them."
"Which suggests," Teal'c stated. "That taking Commander Rabb and Colonel MacKenzie may not have been this Goa'uld's primary mission."
"I don't see how it could be," Daniel said. "They only arrived here today and we certainly didn't know about them. There's no way the Goa'uld could have either."
"I don't understand why they would take them, though," Carter said. She sniffed. "It can hardly be their wonderful personalities."
Fraiser tried her best not to openly roll her eyes. *Oh, God, O'Neill's rubbing off on her* she thought to herself. Trying to get back on track, she spoke. "Sir, it may have something to do with those unusual physical anomalies I discovered in Rabb and MacKenzie. That Goa'uld was in the medical lab, he could very well have seen the reports himself." She shrugged. "Why it would be so important for him to have broken whatever mission he was on and take them, though, I couldn't begin to guess."
"I don't get that myself," Daniel said. "Why would they want those two..." He frowned. "That word he used...Iramus...The undying..."
"Well, I think that's a slight exaggeration," Fraiser said. "It may take a lot, but you could kill them, I have no doubt about it. It's alive, it can die, that's a simple fact of life."
"Thanks for the cheery observation, Doc," O'Neill sarcastically said.
"That still doesn't explain why this Goa'uld would want them so badly," Daniel continued.
"I believe I can answer that, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c stated. "There is an old legend among the Jaffa----"
"Oh, great, Daniel, *now* see what you've done!" O'Neill groaned.
Barely paying attention to O'Neill, Teal'c went on. "Thousands of years ago, a rebellion broke out on a Goa'uld occupied world. The rebellion was led by a proud human who was always at the point of attack." His gaze swept around the people listening. "It is said that this human was seen to fall time and again. Yet each time he arose, alive and without proof of injury, always continuing to battle, always refusing to back away."
Teal'c looked at the table before continuing. "It is said he confronted the Goa'uld ruler, a System Lord named Trelene. In the battle, Trelene managed to apparently kill this human once and for all by decapitating him. However, according to those who were there, that beheading unleashed a wave of electricity, lightning from the heavens, which killed Trelene and sent his followers scattering."
A long silence covered the room as Teal'c finished his tale. "Soooo..." O'Neill said. "You think this Goa'uld believed that, because of the fancy schmancy genetic whatevers those two have, they might be these...?" He waved a hand.
"Iramus," Daniel answered. "I guess this Goa'uld at least thinks so."
"Whether they are or not hardly matters," Hammond stated. "What matters is that these are two United States officers in the hands of a hostile force and getting them back is our number one priority." He looked over at Carter. "Major, any ideas on who it might be from the last data we got from the Tok'ra?"
The sour look she took on was enough to let Hammond know Carter still wasn't happy to hear that name spoken around her. "Well, sir, it wasn't too much. Evidently, their major concern is that a new System Lord appears to be on the rise by the name of Meamouk."
"New?" O'Neill raised an eyebrow. "I was under the impression that you had to waste a couple hundred thousand people before you qualified for System Lord."
"There have been cases of a System Lord suddenly coming into power," Teal'c stated. "Although not one of such strength so soon. Obviously, this Meamouk has done much to attain his position."
"Well, it's rumored he managed to defeat or at least push back Sokar," Carter went on. "He's been building his forces and has already made attacks on some weaker Goa'uld, mostly former followers of Apophis."
"Damn," O'Neill said. "If he wasn't a snake himself, I could like the guy."
"You think this Goa'uld was in the service of Meamouk?" Hammond asked.
Carter shrugged. "It's a possibility, sir. Regardless, those two are obviously in trouble."
"And we need to get them out of it." Hammond took a deep breath before speaking. "Colonel, as much as I hate to say it, I'm low of capable SG teams at the moment so you are hereby assigned to find these two and, if possible, rescue them ASAP."
"We'll be there with bells on in half an hour, sir."
Fraiser smiled and shook her head. "Good luck, Colonel. That doesn't sound like an easy job."
"That, Doctor," Hammond announced. "Is why you're going along."
Fraiser stopped and stared at him in utter surprise. "Excuse me?" she said, temporarily forgetting her place.
Hammond fixed a look at her. "I need to be sure SG-1 isn't still feeling any aftereffects of the armbands. Plus, if Rabb and MacKenzie are in desperate need of medical assistance, you'll be needed."
"Sir, in case you've forgotten," Fraiser said. "They can't get sick."
"There's still a lot about their condition we don't know, Doctor, and I'm not taking chances. You're going."
"Sir," Fraiser said. "I'm medical, I don't actually go on combat missions."
"Think of it as an extended house call, Doctor."
"Wow," Daniel muttered. "Jack's rubbing off on him."
"Yeah," Carter agreed. "Gives us hope for you."
Fraiser shook her head and held up a hand. "Sir, I really don't think I'm ready for------"
"Doctor," Hammond cut her off. "There is a reason they're called orders and not suggestions."
As Fraiser blanched, O'Neill grew a smirk. "Don't worry, Doc. We'll treat you like our own."
Fraiser immediately made up her mind that the next time Hammond came in for a physical, she was going to do her best to gain a small measure of payback.
Mac's eyes slowly opened and stared blankly forward. She blinked on instinct before her brain synapses began to kick back in. She started to move her limbs, a groan escaping her lips as she tried to bring herself back into full consciousness. She realized she was lying on her back, one leg folded under her body and was staring up at a rocky ceiling. She began to move, bringing a hand up to her head and rubbing it. *Funny* she thought to herself. *Usually, when I had a hangover, I could at least remember getting drunk.*
She rolled over, feeling strength return to her body, slowly but surely. *One good thing about dying, you just snap right back awake when it's over.* She sat up, shaking her head to try and clear it and her gaze fell on the body next to her. "Harm?" she spoke up, leaning over to her partner. "Harm, come on, wake up."
She slapped him lightly on the cheek and was rewarded by a groan as Harm slowly opened his eyes. "Sarah?" he weakly asked. "Wha---what happened?"
"Damned if I know," Mac confessed. She closed her eyes and tried to cast her mind back. "There was that guy, he held up his hand, there was this flash and then..."
"That's all I remember, too," Harm said as he tried to sit up. He gasped and held his head. "Damn, what did he hit us with?"
"I don't know," Mac said. "Leaves a headache I haven't gotten since I got the Buzz for the first time." She turned her head about and took in her surroundings. "Where the hell are we?"
Harm looked about and instantly agreed with his partner's confusion. The two were in a cell of some sort, metal bars covering them on all sides. The walls around them were dark and seemed to be inscribed with strange insignias and symbols of some sort. There was light, but from where exactly it was coming from was something the two couldn't determine. They tried to bring themselves up from the cold hard floor and try to figure out what was going on.
"Well, about time I got some company." Harm and Mac both started before turning toward the voice coming from behind them. Sitting on the floor, leaning his back against a wall, was a middle-aged man with a balding head and an odd-looking uniform.
Harm looked at the man and blinked. He slowly leaned in and whispered to Mac. "Mac, is my eyesight still blurry or does this man bear a very scary resemblance to the Admiral?"
"It's not just you," Mac informed him. "We're in trouble."
"Well, been great knowing you, hon."
"Thank you, stater of the obvious," the man sarcastically said. He sighed and leaned back and for the first time, the two could see how he had a few bruises on his cheek as well as a cut on his lip. The way he tried to bring himself up indicated he had some pain along his body as well.
"Are you all right?" Harm asked with concern.
"Dandy," the man answered. He looked back up at the two and shook his head. "At least you two speak English. Makes things easier."
Mac narrowed her eyes as she took in the man's words. "You're...an American?" she asked, still not sure of the man's origins.
The man raised his eyebrows in mild surprise. "Well, how about that?" he asked to no one in particular. His eyes swept over the slightly disheveled uniforms Harm and Mac wore. "I take it you two are U.S. military?"
"Harmon Rabb, Commander, United States Navy."
"Sarah MacKenzie, Lt. Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps."
The man nodded at the brisk delivery. "Jacob Carter, Air Force. Semi-retired."
"Carter..." Mac muttered to herself. Her eyes widened as she suddenly made the connection. "Wait a minute! You're Samantha Carter's father?"
Jacob truly looked surprised now. "You know my daughter?"
"Unfortunately," Mac muttered and Harm took on a sour expression as well. Jacob noticed the tension but decided to pass over it.
"I think we've got a lot to discuss," he said.
"You can start by telling us where on Earth we are," Mac sniffed.
Jacob stared at her for a long moment before letting out a big sigh and shook his head. "You just had to say that, didn't you?" he asked in a tired voice.
Harm and Mac both stared at him as he started to talk...
Janet Fraiser had only been through the Stargate a few times before, mainly for humanitarian reasons or times when her medical expertise was called for. No matter how many times it was, she never got used to the incredible sensation stepping through the Gate brought. It felt like her entire body was chilled and yet heated at the same time and sent through the wildest roller coaster imaginable.
As always, she stumbled a bit as she emerged through the Gate and it took a moment for her senses to catch up and allow her to process her surroundings. She never ceased to be amazed at how much like Earth most of the planets the SGC discovered were. In this case, the Stargate was set in the middle of a large clearing, with dense foliage ahead of them, a hill to the right. Aside from the MALP, which had been sent in to make sure the Gate was okay to travel through, the clearing was deserted and no signs of life could be seen.
"Glad you skipped the big lunch, huh, Doc?" Fraiser shot O'Neill a hard look. She would have made a comment but she was afraid if she opened her mouth before her stomach fully settled, she would actually be sick and never hear the end of it.
O'Neill simply flashed a smirk as he walked down the steps of the platform that led to the Gate, Carter and Daniel following. Teal'c did pause to make sure Fraiser was okay before going with them. Fraiser shuffled her pack on her shoulders, trying to loosen it a bit. She was dressed the same as the others, in green fatigues with a dark green cap on her head. Daniel wore that odd explorer's hat of his while Teal'c's bald plate glinted a bit in the sunlight. Fraiser usually didn't carry so much equipment with her but since she wasn't sure what condition Harm and Mac would be in when they found them, it was best to be prepared for anything.
Of course, that didn't include O'Neill's lovely discourses on their situation.
"What's this planet called again, Carter?" he called out as he moved towards the MALP.
"P64-GR8, sir," Carter gamely answered.
"Didn't we come here before?"
"No, sir, that was PG5-6R9."
"Ah, okay. I always mix them up, you know. You seen one alien planet you've seen them all."
"If that were true, Jack, then we wouldn't be here," Daniel observed.
Carter moved toward the MALP, checking a readout on the device. "It looks like there's a large heat source about three klicks east, sir," she told O'Neill. "That's about all we can get off of it."
"Are we sure this is the right planet?" Fraiser asked. "It looks a bit too quiet to be a Goa'uld-occupied world."
"It's the place we backtracked the signal to, sir," Carter stated.
"It just seems a bit too quiet," Fraiser said, glancing about nervously.
"First rule of this job, Doc," O'Neill stated. "The quieter it is, the more dangerous it is."
"In that case, you must be the safest man alive," Fraiser said with perfectly timed sarcasm.
Daniel couldn't hide a smile and a chuckle. "She's got you there, Jack."
O'Neill glared at him, then at Fraiser. "If they're here, they'll show up, trust me." He glanced about. "Although I do admit, I was expecting more resistance than this."
"The Goa'uld do not always leave their Gates guarded, O'Neill," Teal'c pointed out. "It is a sign of their arrogance, that they do not believe anyone would actually attack them at such an obvious point."
"I hardly think you need to lecture the Colonel on arrogance, Teal'c," Fraiser quipped.
Shooting her a look, O'Neill turned toward the forest. "All right, kiddies, time to make with the high-ho, high-ho, it's off to work we go."
"I would recommend exercising caution, O'Neill," Teal'c suggested. "We still do not know the full extent of any danger on this world."
"Come on, Teal'c, you know what a cautious guy I am."
Teal'c said nothing but raised an eyebrow in what Fraiser interpreted as a "whatever" gesture. Sighing, she spoke up. "Colonel? Keep in mind that you three can no longer run at Mach 2 and punch out a wall, all right?"
"Relax, Janet," Carter said. "We all have our own skills. And we can handle those much better."
"I have to admit, I do like my empowerment," Daniel nodded. He was getting a little tired of breaking his glasses on missions and the 20/20 vision was a benefit.
"And we don't have to pray to a statue as payment for it," Carter added.
"I add in my respect, Major Carter," Teal'c said as the group began to walk toward the trees. "It is good to know there is a God worth giving devotion to."
As she followed SG-1 off, Fraiser briefly wondered just who was crazier: her teammates or herself for being with them.
A long silence carried in the cell as Harm and Mac both stared at Jacob in absolute disbelief. Even given all that had happened to them in the last month, Jacob's story was just a little hard to swallow.
"You're saying you've got an alien inside of you," Mac started.
"Yes," Jacob nodded.
"And you're part of a rebellion of aliens against some nastier aliens who have set themselves up as Gods of various Earth cultures," Harm added.
"And you travel all around the galaxy in this Stargate thing," Harm went on. "And even though it's our biggest military asset and it forms the linchpin of our defense against these...Goa'uld, no one knows about it?"
"A couple of people here and there but their stories tend to end up in the tabloids," Jacob explained. "It's been my experience with the Tok'ra that the only unlimited source of energy in the universe is the capacity for self-deception."
Harm snorted. "Too bad we can't harness it."
"Don't give the Goa'uld any ideas," Jacob stated.
Mac shook her head. "You actually expect us to buy any of this bullshit?"
Jacob looked at her, then at Harm. Seeing the expressions of disbelief on their faces, he closed his eyes and sighed. "You're going to make me do it, aren't you?"
The two officers stared at him in confusion. "Do what?" Mac asked.
Jacob appeared to bring himself up and take a deep breath. He then opened his eyes and both Harm and Mac jumped back a bit as Jacob's eyes took on a bright glow. <I assure you that every word you have heard Jacob Carter speak is the truth,> Jacob said, his voice now in a deep and booming echo.
Mac's jaw moved up and down but no sound came out. Harm simply stared as "Jacob" continued to talk. <I am Selmak, the Tok'ra part of Jacob. This simple effort weakens me severely but I knew he needed my aid to convince you. I hope that has succeeded.>
Jacob closed his eyes again, then opened them. "Sorry," he said in his normal voice. "Selmak sometimes gets a little...too overprotective. He's a little worn out too fixing me up after the beating they gave me."
Harm and Mac stared at him in absolute shock. "That..." Harm softly said. "That was...that was real, wasn't it?"
"Fraid so," Jacob nodded.
Mac closed her eyes, shook her head, then opened them again and stared back at Jacob. "We're..." she whispered. "We're actually on an...alien planet?"
"Yep," Jacob confirmed. "I was sent here to try and find out more about this Meamouk guy, spy from within." He swept a hand around him to indicate the cell. "Let's say it didn't go quite according to plan."
Harm was having a tough time accepting all this. "So...that guy who caught us was one of these...Goa'uld?"
"I don't know why he took you so don't bother asking," Jacob told him. "I had just been uncovered trying to get a message to the Tok'ra when they dragged you two in here."
"Kidnapped by aliens," Mac groaned. "I just know those two FBI weirdoes would be laughing their heads off at this."
"Even more reason to try and avoid them like the plague," Harm stated.
"It could be worse," Jacob shrugged. "You could be stuck with the guys from Section Six."
"And they are?" Harm asked even though he suspected he didn't really want to know the answer.
"The Men in Black," Jacob answered. "They monitor all alien life on Earth, check out all the species who pass through on business and stuff. They sort of dress like the Blues Brothers."
"Great," Mac sarcastically said. "We could be saved by a whacko Irish Colonel from Chicago or Dan Ackroyd."
"I'm leaning towards Ackroyd," Harm muttered.
Mac shook her head. "I can't believe you people can keep something like this a secret. How did the President react to all this?"
"He was pretty good about it actually," Jacob told them. "He seemed to like O'Neill."
"Well, there's another good reason to hate the guy," Harm muttered.
"O'Neill or Bartlett?"
Mac rubbed her head. "God, this is like something out of the Sci-Fi Channel!"
"Well, at least it's not one of those stupid shows they have on the USA Network that they keep rerunning every night," Harm grunted.
"Hey!" Mac barked. "They have wrestling on USA!"
Harm stared at her in amazement. "You watch wrestling?"
Mac narrowed her eyes. "You make a single smartass remark about it, and I'll show you just what they ask you not to try at home."
"Relax," Jacob said. "I'm sure by now, George is organizing a rescue attempt and he's bound to send my daughter's team. She and Jack will have you two out of here in no time."
Mac raised an eyebrow. "We're counting on those two for a rescue? Darn, I knew I should have written out a will."
"Hey," Jacob said and the two could see a flash of anger on his features. "That's my daughter you're talking about."
Mac sniffed. "How can a guy like you have a daughter who's-----"
"A woman willing to do whatever it takes to help out others despite the obvious dangers and doesn't care what gets in her way?"
"Yeah, he's a father all right," Harm sighed.
"I'll take your word for it," Mac said with a trace of bitterness, her own father issues hardly ideal. She had scooted next to Harm by this point and he could feel the fear she was trying to keep under control. He knew how she felt. Nothing in his training could prepare him for anything like this. He put an arm around her shoulders and gave her a reassuring squeeze.
"Just what did they do to us?" Harm asked. "The guy held this thing up in his hand, it flashed and...it's a muddle after that."
"A little trait for their hand devices," Jacob explained. "Makes their victims a tad more...compliant."
Harm and Mac exchanged a look. "Just how...compliant?" Mac asked, not sure if she wanted to know the answer.
Jacob slowly shook his head. "You don't want to know."
Mac looked at him and then, surprisingly, smiled. "You know, you sort of remind me of my uncle."
"Really?" Jacob asked. "What kind of guy was he?"
Mac took a breath. "Well, in high school, I sort of had a...drinking problem and he helped me with it."
"He got you into a program?"
"No, he drove me to a mountain camp, forced me to go cold turkey, helped me through withdrawal and made me realize how screwed up my life had gotten so I went into the military."
"I'm thanking him every day for that," Harm smiled, squeezing Mac's arm.
Jacob noticed the way Mac relaxed at his touch and raised an eyebrow. Before he could press on it, a clanking sound suddenly came down the hallway. The three captives looked up and saw a group of men in dark red and gray armor come toward their cell. Four were strong and handsome men with dark skullcaps, each bearing a strange gold insignia on their foreheads. Each held a long staff in their hands and a stern expression. In the middle of the group was the man Harm and Mac recognized as their captor, now dressed in a slightly different suit of armor. It appeared less bulky than the others, with not as much gray covering, the red robes and gold trimmings helping him stand out.
The man pressed his hand against a panel on the archway before the bars. The bars slid into the walls and the armored men immediately moved into the cell. Harm and Mac found themselves grabbed and dragged to their feet and toward the doorway. They each tried to struggle but the armored beings kept their grip strong and tight. Jacob tried to bring himself up to stop them but one guard hit him in the face with his staff. Jacob collapsed to the ground as the quartet of guards led Harm and Mac away.
"You know what I really hate about this job?" O'Neill asked.
"I think you're going to tell us regardless," Fraiser muttered. In the half-hour SG-1 had been hiking through the forest, she'd had to hear O'Neill's inane patter as the Colonel touched on everything from sports to the weather of the planet to the last movie he'd seen. (And given how that had been "Armageddon," Fraiser could tell O'Neill needed to get out more.) How Carter, Daniel and Teal'c could put up with this guy was beyond the doctor.
"It's the ingratitude," O'Neill continued. "We go around, we risk our asses every day, we save the world at least once a week and are we appreciated for it? I don't think so."
"Well, Jack, it's sort of hard to be credited when no one knows what we do," Daniel pointed out.
"Well, it's the principle of the thing," O'Neill complained.
"I was under the impression, O'Neill," Teal'c said. "That we do this not for personal gratification but to save lives, ensure the defense of your world and help to bring an end to the Goa'uld. Our own personal feelings should not be a driving factor."
Fraiser let out a small smile. "It's sad that you're the one person on this team I feel the most comfortable with."
"Perhaps that is because I do not show arrogance." Teal'c went a few steps before realizing that everyone else had stopped. He turned to see the four humans staring at him with various dubious expressions. He raised his eyebrow in what was apparently intended to be a "what?"
Shaking his head, O'Neill continued to move on. "Carter, how much farther to this supposed site?"
"About twenty feet closer than the last time you asked, sir," Carter calmly stated. "It should be just over the rise just beyond those trees."
"I hate it when you say 'just' like that," O'Neill muttered. "It's 'just' a quick trip, it's 'just' a guess, it 'just' shouldn't be that bad. You're a scientist, Carter, can't you be more precise?"
Fraiser happened to be looking right at Carter as O'Neill spoke and fought to keep from snorting at the sour look the blonde took on. Something told the doctor that O'Neill would be making up for that comment later tonight. She shifted her pack on her shoulders and felt the unfamiliar weight of a pistol at her hip. She had been against carrying a firearm but the General had insisted on it and Fraiser could tell he wasn't in the mood to be questioned, least of all by her.
While she was hiding it well, Fraiser still felt some guilt over what had happened. She had tried to tell herself it wasn't really her fault, that the Goa'uld agent had managed to escape detection from several people. But the fact of the matter was that whatever happened in medical was her responsibility and Harm and Mac had fallen under her watch. She had slipped up and she knew that if anything happened to either of them, it was going to be on her head. She had to do whatever it took to get them out of it.
"And on the third day of the expedition, we came across a lovely hill. It was, in fact, the loveliest hill we've seen in quite a few of our travels and we could not wait to see what wondrous sights lay beyond it."
However, responsibility or not, in another five minutes Fraiser was going to forget her Hippocratic Oath and shoot O'Neill herself.
The colonel paused as he came to the edge of the rise, his eyes peering forward. "Down," he suddenly intoned as he hit the ground. Carter, Teal'c and Daniel immediately followed his lead and fell into a prone position. Fraiser was startled but quickly joined them. The group crawled to where O'Neill lay. The colonel had pulled out a pair of small binoculars and was using them to observe the very large encampment that filled the area before them.
It appeared to cover a field roughly the size of two football stadiums. Dominating the area was a large fort with a pyramid mother ship covering it from overhead. Several rows of tents were lined up near the entrance to the fort with what appeared to be a small factory set on the opposite side of the field. Some large-scale cannons were set up to ring around the main parts of the camp and several squads of armored Jaffa could be seen marching about the camp.
"Now that is one big snake nest," O'Neill said, handing his glasses over to Teal'c. Carter had been observing with her own pair of binoculars, which she passed over to Fraiser.
"Three full complements of Jaffa," Teal'c announced. "A full regiment of attack cannons. What appears to be a factory for new weaponry."
"And let's not forget the huge-ass spaceship hanging over the fort," O'Neill pointed out.
Fraiser frowned as she observed the Jaffa. "I know I'm not up on all the facets of the Goa'uld," she stated. "But don't Jaffa usually dress in gray and not reddish armor?"
Teal'c frowned as he lowered his glasses. "That is unusual," he admitted. "Usually, the Jaffa simply rely on differing symbols to set themselves apart by who they worship. I must assume this Meamouk is attempting to assert his place with a different color for his troops."
"The Goa'uld have fashion consultants," O'Neill sniffed. "Now I've heard everything." He bit his lip in thought. "So. Suggestions?"
Teal'c looked over at the fort. "It would appear their command center is in a style used by several Goa'uld," he stated. "I am familiar with the layout and know there are several ways of egress. The most strategic ones would be either through a maintenance area near the back or one of the escape exits located near the east side."
"I say we try the back entrance, sir," Carter said.
"Maybe we should use that maintenance one instead in case the escape exits are guarded," Daniel put in.
"Or we could try both," Teal'c stated. "Divide ourselves and cover more ground."
"So, we split up," O'Neill nodded. "Yep, that's pretty much what I had planned."
Daniel looked at him. "Um, if you had figured it out already, why did you bother asking us?"
O'Neill smiled. "I wanted to let you all feel like you were included in the decision- making process."
"Well, in that case, sir, I say-----"
"Doctor," O'Neill cut Fraiser off. "I said I'd give you the feeling of being included. I didn't say you'd actually get to decide anything."
Steaming a bit, Fraiser glanced toward Carter. "Just how far do you put up with this?"
Carter looked at O'Neill, then threw an evil grin at Fraiser. "I'll fill you in back at the base."
"Good plan," Fraiser said, grinning back as O'Neill sputtered slightly.
"Okay," he said, recovering. "Daniel, Carter, you're with me, we'll go in through the back. Teal'c, you and Fraiser go through those tunnels, give a holler if you find anything."
"Um, sir?" Fraiser piped up. "I'm inexperienced on combat missions. Why are you putting me with only one man?"
O'Neill looked at her. "Because he's Teal'c," he said as if that explained everything. He let out a smile. "What's the matter, Doc? You're not enjoying yourself?"
"You don't have to look so smug about it," Fraiser muttered.
O'Neill appeared to be honestly surprised as he turned toward the others. "Do I look smug?" he asked with what appeared to be honest curiosity.
"You really can't help it, sir," Carter stated.
"What's that supposed to mean?" O'Neill demanded.
Daniel coughed before replying. "You know how Teal'c can do that thing where he just bows his head a half inch or cocks an eyebrow and it makes you feel stupid?"
O'Neill looked at Teal'c, who appeared neutral at the conversation around him. "Am I really that bad?" he asked as if the thought had never occurred to him before. Shrugging, he crawled back a few feet before rising to his feet. "Daniel, Sam, let's go."
"Lead on, sir," Carter said. She and Daniel also rose to their feet and started to follow him.
"Nice to have my leadership recognized," O'Neill acknowledged as the three set off.
"Well, we'd rather have Teal'c," Daniel said. "If only because he makes a bigger target."
"Can't argue with that," O'Neill agreed.
Fraiser closed her eyes and rubbed her head. *I'm in Hell, I'm simply in Hell..."
"Watch the hand!" Mac yelled at one of armored men holding her. The alien gave no sign of even hearing her, his grip still latched like iron around her forearm. Harm wasn't having much luck with his captors, both holding on tight as the two JAG officers were dragged down a large hallway. The armored aliens didn't give any sign that they were even acknowledging the duo's struggles. They simply held on as their leader led the way before them.
Their destination was a large room, the walls, like most of the fortress, a dark red with those strange symbols scattered about. The area appeared to be a laboratory of some sort, with devices that Harm and Mac couldn't even begin to comprehend the purpose of. Two tables (which frankly looked more like slabs) were set up to one side. Also filling the room were about a dozen Jaffa, all with staffs primed and ready in case of danger. The two humans were rather surprised to see there were a few women there, dressed in odd robes and with neutral expressions.
In the center of the room was a man who wasn't very big physically but nonetheless was clearly the most dominant figure there. He was dressed in what appeared to be a fine suit of that same reddish armor. Only the gold trimmings that enhanced it were far finer, the red even brighter and the man gave off an aura of sheer power and majesty. What made it more impressive was that he did so despite the fact that his head was completely covered by a dark mesh-like helmet, only a slight slit for the mouth and nose, the eyeslits opaque so nothing could be seen behind them, giving him an air of danger.
The "refugee" who had been leading Harm and Mac on stopped and bowed before the hooded man. "My Lord," he said. "Here are the Iramus."
"You are certain?" The man's voice was deep and hollow, the Goa'uld echo enhanced by the hood, aiding his presence to grow beyond his stature.
"I swear it upon my life, My Lord Meamouk."
"I shall hold you to that vow, Readu," the hooded Goa'uld stated. "I had sent you to that camp so you may have the chance to infiltrate our enemies. You broke your assignment too early."
"Because I knew you would wish to have these two immediately, my Lord," Readu said, trying to keep his voice steady.
Harm and Mac knew the System Lord must have raised an eyebrow at that. "You would tell me my own mind?" he asked in a flat tone. His right hand clenched, the gold device in its palm seeming to crackle a bit.
Swallowing, Readu made another bow. "My Lord..."
"Enough," Meamouk stated, dismissing his underling with a wave of his hand. He turned back toward Harm and Mac and the two shared the rather chilling feeling of being appraised like they were slabs of meat. "They do not seem all that impressive," Meamouk muttered under his breath.
Mac snorted. "Oh and you're in a fine position to talk, you----"
"SILENCE." Meamouk held up his hand and the device in his palm emitted a bright golden flash. Mac felt her voice give away as she stared at the device. Next to her, Harm was also caught up in the strange energy, his conscious will also fading away.
But not extinguished. There was still a small part of the duo that still retained consciousness and was fully aware of what was happening. They were unable to move, however, forcing them to simply stand there, seeing and hearing everything around them but unable to do anything about it.
And that was what made what happened next all the more horrible.
Meamouk made a nodding motion to the Jaffa surrounding the duo and they immediately moved in. Harm and Mac both felt the Jaffa start to pull at them, literally tearing away their uniforms. Harm tried to gather every ounce of will he could to do something, anything. But he couldn't even raise a hand as his clothing was pulled off him. As she felt her bra ripped off, her chest exposed for all to see, Mac wanted to scream, cry, hit something but couldn't. She couldn't even look over at Harm, who was feeling just as humiliated as she was. They just stood limply as they were swiftly and methodically stripped down by the Jaffa.
Meamouk calmly stepped forward, his head bending to the side as he appraised the two. He didn't seem to care how Harm and Mac felt, helplessness and humiliation washing over the duo at their treatment. The alien circled around them, checking over every inch of their bodies. He let one finger caress Mac's backside and she immediately decided death would be a blessing at that moment.
Circling back around, Meamouk held out a hand. Without a word, a Jaffa placed a small but sharp knife into his waiting palm. Gripping the handle, Meamouk slashed outward and instantly both Harm and Mac showed a red gash on their arms. The two felt the pain but couldn't even react to it. They saw Meamouk suddenly straighten up and realized he had seen their arms heal.
"So..." he said softly. "They are Iramus." He turned and faced Readu. "Prepare them both for the joining."
"As you command, my Lord," Readu bowed. He turned and made a motion and several Jaffa immediately began to move.
Meamouk glanced back at Harm and Mac and he had to be smiling when he spoke. "If I can have two Iramus as my servants...My dominance over the other System Lords is assured."
He let out a long and ugly chuckle as Harm and Mac simply stood, unable to cope with what was happening to them. Neither could imagine that the worse part was yet to come.
"Goddamn," O'Neill groaned, trying to cover his nose while still holding onto his gun. "All that high-tech space age stuff and these guys can't even get rid of their own garbage?"
Carter and Daniel had to agree as they made their way through the rear and realized just why it wasn't well-guarded: It happened to be a stockpile of the various refuse that had built up in the fortress and it wasn't exactly well-cared for either. Frankly, seeing the amount of waste a fortress full of Goa'uld could produce was more "know thy enemy" than O'Neill wanted to get.
Getting through one of the exhaust vents in the back hadn't been too hard and neither had been making their way through the generator room. While it was tempting to leave behind an explosive or two, O'Neill didn't want to over commit himself until he knew more of the situation.
O'Neill had to fight not to just gasp for breath when he opened up the door to the hallway leading out of the room. He carefully craned his head around enough to give the corridor a quick glance. He held up his hand, raised two fingers, waggled it forward, then lowered it. Taking a deep breath, he quickly dashed across the hallway, sliding into a hidden spot formed by an archway. Five seconds later, Carter and Daniel were with him, all three on alert.
A sound caught O'Neill's attention and he quickly backed against the wall. *One good thing about these guys, you can always hear them coming* he thought to himself as two armored Jaffa passed by with a robed man in front of them. *Plus it helps that their peripheral vision in those helmets is shit.* He could hear the man saying something to the Jaffa but couldn't quite make it out.
O'Neill waited until after the trio had marched down the corridor and then rose to a standing position. "Daniel, you get any of that?"
"Not much," the linguist admitted. "But I did hear something about the prisoner down the hall."
"Sounds good," O'Neill nodded. "Let's go."
"I don't like this," O'Neill muttered as he looked at the prison area. "There should be guards. It's a prison, there should be guards, that's simple basics of running a fortress."
"Maybe whoever's under guard isn't that important," Daniel shrugged.
O'Neill shook his head. "I just have a bad feeling about it."
"Jack, you have a bad feeling about everything," Carter jabbed.
"And I'm usually right, you'll notice."
Carter sighed as O'Neill took the lead, carefully treading toward the entrance to the jail area. He sneaked his head forward to look inside, then pulled it back. He lowered his machine gun and slung it over his shoulder. He reached to a side holster and pulled out a zat gun. Priming it up, he spun into the room and began firing.
He hit it perfectly, two shots into each of the two armored guards on duty. They collapsed immediately and O'Neill swiftly moved into the room, his gun still up. Daniel and Carter were quick to back him up, Carter swiftly sweeping her gun around the room. She stopped and stared at the figure lying in the main cell. "Dad?"
Jacob had been slowly rising to his feet when he realized just who the three new arrivals were and rolled his eyes. "I don't believe it!" he said, throwing up his hands. "How did you three get here? Why? Dammit, Sam, you should know better than to come after me."
Before Sam could reply, O'Neill broke in. "Hate you burst your ego, Jacob, but we didn't even know you were here."
Jacob seemed surprised at first, then glowered. "One of these days, the Tok'ra council and I are going to have a long talk about how we do business."
"Wait 'til you hear what happened to us," O'Neill said as he moved to the pad next to the cell door. "Then, you'll really be pissed." He pressed on a few buttons to no effect. Shrugging, he stepped back and lashed out a boot, smashing the pad. Instantly, the cell bars swung open and Jacob stepped out. Carter immediately moved to help her father, who looked a bit weak on his feet.
"Dad, are you all right?" she asked, the concern of a daughter overriding her position as a soldier.
"Yeah, yeah, Selmak's helping," Jacob explained. He tried to stand on his own, shaking his head. "If you didn't come on a rescue mission, then why are you here?"
"We're on a rescue all right, just not yours," O'Neill explained. "We're trying to find two military officers this Goa'uld captured."
"Rabb and MacKenzie?"
O'Neill raised his eyebrows. "They were here?"
"The guards dragged them out a while ago," Jacob informed him. "We talked for a bit."
"I'm so sorry."
"Hey, I kinda like the kids."
"Damn," O'Neill muttered to Carter. "My liking your dad is affecting my dislike of those two."
"Join the club, sir," Carter sighed.
Jacob raised an eyebrow at Daniel. "I take it they got off on a bad foot?"
Daniel nodded. "I was ready to call the gym and have them get the boxing ring set up."
"Like I couldn't have taken MacKenzie," Carter sniffed. A clomping sound got her attention and she spun around, her finger already tightening on the trigger of her weapon. As soon as the armored Jaffa came into the doorway, she opened fire, her rifle firing several bullets that sparked against the Jaffa's armor as he went down. Carter ducked as O'Neill snap-aimed and fired two bursts from his Zat gun, taking down the second Jaffa who had just entered.
"Okay, kiddies, it's running firefight time!" O'Neill announced. "I'm in the lead, Carter behind me, Jacob, Daniel, you take the rear and for God's sake, try to hit what you're aiming at this time."
"That's what I admire about you, sir," Carter smiled. "Your icy calm lunacy under pressure."
"I'm Irish," O'Neill replied as the group moved out of the room. "We refined calm lunacy."
"They are prepared, my Lord," Readu said with a bow. Meamouk looked over to where Harm and Mac lay on the two tables. The two were staring blankly upward, still under the influence of Meamouk's hand device while part of their minds remained fully aware of what had happened. Mac was dressed in a loose white outfit, a sash tied around her neck and leading to her chest where a slit ran from her cleavage to her belly, the silk flowing around her body in a way that normally would have appealed to Mac. A light golden crown was set in her short hair to complete the picture. Harm's white robes were more masculine, his arms bare and a dark mesh chestplate completing the ensemble. Of course, neither was much in the mood for a fashion critique, both overwhelmed by what was happening to them.
Meamouk gave a quick nod and Readu bowed before turning back toward the two captives. He made a motion and two Goa'uld in technician's outfits approached, each holding a jar. Inside each container was a symboint, the alien creature screeching and pushing against its prison. "They are good specimens?" Meamouk asked.
"Taken from our two finest Jaffa, my Lord," Readu answered.
"Then proceed," Meamouk ordered. The technicians placed the jars onto the edge of the tables and opened the lids. They reached in and removed the symbionts, who withered in their grasp. As per Meamouk's orders, the technicians made sure to hold the symbionts where Harm and Mac could see them. Marine or no, the sight of the creature only a few inches away from her face scared the absolute hell out of Mac and Harm was right with her. The technicians let the symbionts drop onto Harm and Mac's chests and with lightning speed, the worm-like creatures sped up to the faces of the two humans and dived into their mouths.
Finally, the two could move as they arched in synchronicity, both letting out involuntary screams at the sudden intrusion. It wasn't so much the pain of the two symbionts burrowing into their bodies, it was the horrifying feeling as the Goa'uld began to take hold of their minds. In seconds, both officers felt a rush of memories come over them, images and feelings that weren't their own, that weren't human, centuries of conquering and murder, details of alien technologies and how to use them, all held by two creatures who considered the humans nothing but vessels for them to use.
Aside from those initial cries, neither Harm or Mac had said anything verbally. But inside their own minds, they screamed for all they were worth.
Meamouk had just begun to move forward when a helmeted Jaffa burst into the room. "My Lord!" he cried out after a swift bow. "We have intruders in the palace! They have already freed the Tok'ra spy and given us several losses amongst the guards!"
Immediately, every Jaffa in the room moved in a protective pose around their lord, who appeared to take it quite calmly. "As I expected," Meamouk slowly said with a nod. "I knew someone would come." He glanced over at Readu. "Watch over them until the joining is complete," he said, pointing at Harm and Mac. "Then take them to me."
"Yes, My Lord," Readu agreed with a deep bow. He watched as Meamouk marched out, his honor guard and assorted aides with him, leaving Readu, a technician and three Jaffa in the lab. Readu turned and walked over to where Harm and Mac lay, frowning. "What is taking so long?" he asked. "They should be awake by now."
"I am not sure," the technician admitted. "There seems to be something slowing down the process, I do not see----"
The rest of his words were lost in the electrical buzzing as two zat beams struck him from behind. Readu was so shocked at the sudden occurrence that he didn't fully comprehend the pair of blasts of a staff weapon that took out two of the Jaffa. Turning at the sound, Readu saw a dark garbed figure enter, his arms crossed, with a staff weapon aimed at the remaining Jaffa and a zat gun at himself. The blast of the two weapons was the last thing Readu saw.
Fraiser stepped into the room, swallowing a bit as she saw the smoking bodies lying around the room. She looked over at Teal'c, who still held his weapons high. "Do you always shoot first before entering a room?"
"Only in unique circumstances," Teal'c said in such a deadpan tone that it was hard for Fraiser to decide if he was joking or not. Shaking her head, the doctor moved toward the tables where Harm and Mac lay but was stopped by a metal bar. Actually, it was Teal'c's outstretched arm but it felt like the same density. Fraiser looked at the former Jaffa as he aimed his zat gun at the duo.
"It is not wise to approach them just yet," he intoned.
"The merger may not have taken fully," Fraiser argued. "There's still a chance we can get the symbionts out----"
"As one who has witnessed this more times than I care to remember, Doctor Fraiser," Teal'c interrupted. "That is not an easy procedure."
Fraiser glared at him. "Until you first went to that world that worshiped Thor, you had believed there was no way the symbiont could be removed from the host at all. If there's one thing this entire project proves, Teal'c, it's that you should be open to new ideas."
Teal'c raised his eyebrow but before Fraiser could try to figure out what that meant, she heard a metallic sound behind her. She and Teal'c spun around to see a Jaffa aiming his staff weapon at them. Before either could move, a whine ripped through the air and the Jaffa was blasted forward, collapsing onto the ground. Tearing their eyes away from the body, Fraiser and Teal'c looked up to see another Jaffa standing in the doorway, raising his smoking staff weapon up. He turned toward them and his helmet began to break apart and shift away with that unique trick the Goa'uld possessed. The man looked at the duo, his lined face breaking out into a rueful smile as he shook his head. "You simply cannot keep out of trouble, can you, apprentice?" he asked, his voice carrying a dry humor to it.
"Bra'tac!" Teal'c said, actually looking surprised and pleased, a combination Fraiser didn't think him capable of.
The aged Jaffa lowered his staff and shook his head in a rueful manner. "I knew it," he stated. "The moment I heard there were intruders, I knew it was you and your friends. After that, it was simply a matter of following the bodies."
"That's one good thing about SG-1," Fraiser admitted. "You can always tell where they've been."
"What are you doing here?" Teal'c asked in curiosity.
"I was attempting to infiltrate the ranks of this new System Lord," Bra'tac stated. "I have only been here for a few days, trying to keep a low profile." He glanced at the bodies and then raised an eyebrow at Teal'c. "It would appear that tactic is now moot."
Before Fraiser could even smile at the comment, there was a gasping noise behind her. She spun around to see Harm and Mac both begin to move from the tables. Instantly, Teal'c and Bra'tac were pushing her aside, their weapons aimed right at the two newly implanted Goa'uld, ready for anything.
"Anything" did not include the two officers suddenly rolling off the table and crashing onto the floor. They began to spasm, appearing to go into convulsions, their faces showing expressions of agony as they shook. Fraiser glanced toward Teal'c and Bra'tac and seeing the looks of confusion on their faces made her realize this was something they had never seen before.
A retching sound brought Fraiser's attention back to the two humans and her eyes widened in shock. Harm was on his hands and knees as Mac lay on her side, both gagging and spitting, their bodies continuing to convulse as they did. Almost simultaneously, the two humans vomited, the symbionts spat out of their mouths and onto the floor. Each creature squealed at the highest pitch possible, shaking about in the pile of bile, their bodies flopping about for several moments. Slowly, the movements ceased, the cries quieting and with a final twitch, each symbiont lay still.
Harm lay on his hands and knees, gasping with deep breaths, Mac on her side, her hands over her stomach, still shaking from what had happened. Harm opened his eyes, coughing as he looked over at his partner. "Oh, God..." he choked. "Oh, God, that was....God, I thought dying was bad, but that...." His eyes focused fully and took in Mac's condition. "Sarah? Sarah, are you...?"
"Yeah..." Mac gasped as she slowly pushed herself to her knees. "Yeah..." She swallowed as Harm crawled over to her. "Not the....not the first time I've woken up in a pool of my own vomit." Harm reached out a hand and placed it on her shoulder and the physical contact nearly overwhelmed Mac. "Harm," she whispered as she looked up at him, tears filling her eyes. "Oh, God, Harm..."
"I know, baby," he got out, fighting back his own tears. "I know how it felt." He pulled her in and held onto her tight, the two both shaking from the horror they had just undergone.
Fraiser, Teal'c and Bra'tac stared at them in absolute amazement. "I have never seen that before," Teal'c said in as soft a tone as Fraiser had ever heard him use.
"Nor I," Bra'tac admitted. "What happened?"
Fraiser carefully knelt down and prodded one symbiont with her gun. She pulled at it and got absolutely no reaction. "Something in their systems," she muttered. "It...killed the symbionts."
"That is impossible," Bra'tac snapped.
"These two possess incredibly advanced physiologies," Teal'c informed his teacher. "So much so that they can possibly never take ill. The Goa'uld who captured them believed they might be Iramus."
Bra'tac's face went ashen. "Iramus?" he whispered. "Iramus. If that is true..."
"Indeed," Teal'c said. "It could mean something of great value to us."
Bra'tac looked at him, his eyes narrowed. "You should speak your mind, Teal'c. That is the best medicine."
Teal'c raised an eyebrow. "Humans believe laughter is."
"And they only live half as long as we do," Bra'tac pointed out. "There is a lesson there."
Teal'c looked thoughtful. "Perhaps that is why Daniel Jackson is always so serious."
"You know that this," Bra'tac said, motioning toward Harm and Mac. "Is proof that the Iramus exist on Earth."
"It may well be," Teal'c informed him. "I can think of no other way they could destroy the symbionts."
"Which makes them of possible value to us," Bra'tac said, stroking his goatee. "More than we can speculate on right now."
Fraiser carefully moved over to where Harm and Mac knelt, the two drawing strength from one another. "Hey," she said in a gentle tone. "Are you two...all right?"
The two turned at her, taking a moment to register just who she was. "Dr. Fraiser?" Mac frowned, tears still in her eyes. "What...what are you doing here?"
"That's...sort of complicated," Fraiser sighed. "Look, I know this is hard but we need to get you two out of here before things get bad."
"I believe," Bra'tac spoke up. "That O'Neill of the Windy City has already brought that trouble on."
"What a shock," Fraiser muttered.
O'Neill let out another burst from his machine gun, watching yet another Jaffa fall before the hail of bullets. O'Neill immediately went back to running, his gun still smoking as he moved. Carter, Jacob and Daniel followed, Daniel pausing to let out a few zat bursts at some pursuing Jaffa, scattering the warriors.
"Jack, do we know where the hell we're going?" Daniel yelled out as they ran.
"According to Teal'c, the first exit should be this way!" O'Neill yelled back as he neared an upcoming corridor. "And, hopefully, we can get through the camp and to the Gate without much trouble."
"Jack, this isn't the planned rescue I was expecting!" Jacob called out. He was able to run but not up to the speeds he was used to. He was rather surprised at how much quicker the SG-1 team suddenly seemed since the last time he'd seen them. Jacob considered himself in good shape and Selmak helped but the three younger people were starting to make him look bad.
"Relax, Jacob," O'Neill smiled as he led the way toward the corridor. "I'm as good a rescuer as the next man!"
"If the next man is a pompous, arrogant, loose-tempered lunatic, I'd tend to agree."
"Yeah, love you too," O'Neill shot back as he turned the corridor and into the next hallway----and came to a running stop at the sight of a dozen Jaffa aiming their staff weapons right at him. "Back up, back up!" he yelled, his rifle set to fire. Carter nearly ran into him before she could stop herself, Jacob and Daniel able to back up quickly.
"Um, Jack?" Daniel asked as the four backed into the hallway. "Why aren't they firing?"
"It looks like they're almost herding us," Jacob muttered.
The four suddenly stopped, the same thought occurring to all of them. As one, they looked down at the floor and noticed how they were standing in the middle of a large circle. A column of light came from overhead and enveloped them all and instantly a series of stone circles lowered from the ceiling at lightning speed. They slammed down around the three humans and one Tok'ra, levitating in the air around them.
O'Neill blew out a wad of air as he realized what was going to happen just before the circles flashed. "Ah------"
A bright flash filled the room and it appeared that the quartet blurred and then vanished. The circles blasted back up into the ceiling as fast as they had come, leaving a deserted spot on the floor.
"-----Shit!" O'Neill said as his vision cleared and he saw his surroundings. In an instant, SG-1 had gone from a hallway into a massive throne room. It was standard Goa'uld decoration: Lots of dark architecture, torches lighting most of the room, with a large light bearing down on the raised throne in the center. There were two unique things about the room: One was the dark red scheme that dominated the decoration. The second was the twenty or so Jaffa who aimed their staffs right at the newly teleported quartet.
"Great job, Jack," Jacob sarcastically said. "Just...great."
O'Neill was not a man who liked to surrender but he was a realist. With obvious reluctance, he lowered his rifle to the ground and put his zat gun next to it. Carter and Daniel followed suit, the Jaffa, staffs primed to fire, watching as SG-1 disarmed themselves.
Feeling a little uncomfortable with any weapons at his side, O'Neill rose and let his gaze travel around the room. It finally settled on the masked Goa'uld sitting on the throne and appearing quite pleased with the sight of his captives. "Let me take a shot in the dark," O'Neill asked Jacob. "Meamouk."
"Yep," Jacob nodded.
"So," the System Lord said, his voice booming inside the chamber. "At last, you have come just as I expected it."
"As you expected?" Carter dubiously asked. "You thought we in particular were coming here?"
"I knew you were," Meamouk stated. "When Readu brought me the Iramus, I knew someone would follow and I knew you were the right choice."
"Always nice to be appreciated," O'Neill sarcastically said.
Meamouk let out a soft chuckle. "Did you not think it rather odd that you found it so easy to enter my fortress and free the Tok'ra spy?"
O'Neill actually seemed to give it some thought. "Well, now that you mention it..."
"I allowed you to get this far," Meamouk told him. "So I might be able to see you face to face."
"Think we're missing one half of that equation," O'Neill jibed, gesturing toward Meamouk's mask.
A Jaffa snarled and pointed at O'Neill. "You will show respect to the Lord Meamouk!"
"You shall call me Meamouk no longer." Everyone turned to watch him rise from his throne, his hands going toward his mask. "From this day forth," he announced as he started to pull the mask from his head. "I shall be known once more by my true name..."
He lifted the mask over his head and then lowered, allowing his face to be seen by all. It was a handsome face of apparent Egyptian descent and short black hair. His eyes, however, were cruel, even without the flash and one side of his face was covered by a plated mask. He let out an evil smile as he took in the looks of utter shock on the faces of O'Neill, Daniel and the two Carters. Barely able to keep back a laugh, he completed his announcement.
"My true name...APOPHIS!"
Not surprisingly, O'Neill was the first one to recover from the shock of Apophis' sudden resurrection to speak. "You realize of course, we're not at all happy to see you again."
The team's oldest and deadliest enemy raised an eyebrow. "I have waited so long for this," he softly said. "To take my vengeance and increase my rise to power at the same time." He looked at O'Neill and a slow smile came to his face. "I suppose I should thank you, human."
"Thank me? Wait a minute, you're *thanking* me?" O'Neill looked toward Carter. "Carter, did we accidentally wander through some mirror again?"
"You have defeated many System Lords in the last few years," Apophis elaborated. "You have given me the means to rebuild my army, to seize power and to regain my influence. You have allowed me to become even more powerful than I once was. Soon, powerful enough to take on all the remaining System Lords. So, I thank you."
O'Neill blinked before replying. "Well...you're welcome. And if you let us go, we'll do our best to keep up the good work----"
"That," Apophis cut him off. "Is as far as I am willing to go."
"Ingrate," O'Neill muttered.
"A God does have limits to his gratitude."
"You and Ares would get along fine," O'Neill sniffed. He paused and bent his head to the side. "So...just how did you get here? Last we saw, we were shipping your corpse through the Gate and over to Sokar. How'd you survive?"
Apophis brought himself up. "I survived because it was my destiny. I survived because I and I alone am meant to rule. I survived because I was meant to."
"Well, I can see how dying has made you humble."
The Goa'uld's eyes flashed with anger. "I am a GOD, human! I am above such things as ego."
"And things you're certainly full of," O'Neill nodded.
Apophis clenched one hand, trying to bring himself back under control before speaking. "I was brought back to life by Sokar and forced to work in the mines of Heitu, his planet of Hell," he began. "But I bided my time carefully, taking the punishments that resulted in this." He waved a hand toward his plated face. "I killed my guard, escaped, then made my way to and executed Sokar. With his forces in hand, I have been rebuilding my power base. Soon...Very soon, I will be able to launch a full assault on the System Lords. With the Iramus as my lieutenants, I will be victorious and take my rightful place as ruler of all I survey."
O'Neill slowly nodded and looked away. "Well, that takes care of exposition. Let's move onto the kicking your ass part."
Apophis sniffed at O'Neill like one would do at an insect. "Save your bravado. There is no escape, human, not this time."
"Better hope not," O'Neill told him. "Cause we know a few Yautja and if we do get out of here, we're going to be letting them know it's snake hunting season."
There was a rustle of nervous movements as several of the Jaffa surrounding the group shuddered at the mention of the notorious intergalactic Predators. "Yautja?" Apophis repeated with obvious disbelief. "You actually claim to be allied with the Yautja?"
O'Neill beamed. "Your friends here may know the guy leading them," he said, waving at the nervous Jaffa.
Apophis narrowed his glowing eyes. "Who could the Yautja choose to lead them? No one human."
An evil grin overtook O'Neill's face. "Whoever said that Methos was human?"
O'Neill really wished those helmets didn't hide the faces of the Jaffa. Seeing them in shock and terror over the mention of Methos' name would have made his day. For an instant, just a brief instant, something akin to fear flickered across Apophis' face. Then, he sobered himself and raised his chin up as he threw a sneer at O'Neill. "It does not matter what help you may call on for you will never get the opportunity. I have you and soon I will have all that I once possessed, all that was taken from me, I will have it all back and no one shall ever steal away-----"
"Your mate, Amonet, is dead."
It was hard to tell just who was more surprised at Daniel's sudden, cold pronouncement, Apophis or O'Neill and the two Carters. All of them looked toward Daniel. The archeologist was staring at Apophis with a chilly expression of hatred O'Neill didn't think he could make. "Yeah, it's true," he went on. "Sorry to have to break it to you." He paused and then shook his head. "Oh, wait, no, my apologies, I'm not sorry at all."
Apophis' face set into a neutral expression but for a brief moment, it appeared that a twinge of true mourning had flashed in his eyes. "I was told of her death," he said softly, his voice actually sounding regretful. "I did not believe it."
"Well, believe it, it's true," Daniel shrugged. "Sorry to ruin your day." He paused again. "Oh, wait, no, wrong again, I'm not."
O'Neill leaned in toward Carter. "Every now and then," he muttered. "I get the feeling that underneath that absent-minded exterior, Daniel's got a nasty side you and I would envy."
"It's always the quiet ones," Carter nodded.
Apophis was still digesting Daniel's words. "Then it must also be true that Teal'c is the killer."
"Oh, yeah, that'd wrap things up real nice for you, wouldn't they?" O'Neill noted.
Apophis' eyes swept over the group, struck by a sudden thought. "Why is the sholvah not with you?" he demanded.
"Teal'c?" O'Neill tried to bullshit. "Oh, I'm sure if he knew he'd be getting another shot at you, he'd be here and raring to go. But, unfortunately, we left him behind on this trip."
A crackling sound went out and from O'Neill's jacket, Fraiser's voice could be heard. "Colonel, this is Fraiser. Teal'c and I have found Rabb and MacKenzie, they're in the lab. Come in."
When they got back, O'Neill decided, he was going to sit Fraiser down and have a very long talk with her about proper communication procedure in the field. He groaned as Apophis strode over, reached down and yanked his communicator right off his jacket with a smile.
"Colonel, come in," Fraiser said. She frowned at her communicator, resisting the urge to shake it and make sure it was working right. Bra'tac and Teal'c were still carefully observing Harm and Mac. The two humans had managed to gather themselves together and were starting to stand up.
"Shit, what did they put me in?" Mac demanded, looking down at her "dress."
Harm raised an eyebrow. "Looks good to me."
Mac let her eyes rake over him and snorted. "Take a look at yourself, flyboy?"
Harm got his first good look at his own outfit and blanched. "Okay, kidnapping, mind control, implanting with an alien, all that I can take," Harm said. "But this is really crossing the line."
The two looked up to see Bra'tac in the uniform of a Jaffa and immediately moved back, fists up. "Okay..." Harm said. "We've been having a very bad day today, pal, so we really wouldn't mind beating you up."
"Trust us," Mac added. "We know how to burn off energy."
Bra'tac looked at them and then smiled at Teal'c. "I like these two already."
Teal'c glanced over to where Fraiser was still trying to use her communicator. "No response," she told him.
Frowning, Teal'c took the device from her and spoke into it. "O'Neill," he said. "O'Neill, this is Teal'c, can you hear me?"
There was a pause before a deep booming voice echoed through the communicator. "I am afraid your Colonel O'Neill is indisposed at the moment."
Fraiser's eyes went wide. Bra'tac whirled about, his face pale. Teal'c slowly felt his jaw unhinge. "No..." he whispered.
"Yes," the voice rang out. "You know who this is, Teal'c. This is your God, Apophis, risen from the fires of Neitu. I have spent a very long time considering what forms of revenge I will take for your betrayals, First Prime. Having you know that your human friends are my prisoners will serve as an excellent beginning." His voice went ice-cold. "But however horrible your fate, Teal'c, and it will be horrible...It will be pleasant compared to what I have planned for you."
There was a crunching sound and then static. Teal'c slowly lowered the communicator, his face drawn. "He lives," Bra'tac softly said. "The false one still lives."
Harm looked over toward Fraiser. "I take it they know the guy?"
"Unfortunately," the redhead answered. "I can relate. He was hardly the best patient I've ever had."
"Patient?" Bra'tac stared at her. "You treated him instead of letting him die?"
Fraiser rolled her eyes. "Do the words Hippocratic Oath mean *anything* to anyone?!"
"Hey, easy," Mac said, holding up a hand.
Fraiser sighed and waved in apology. "Sorry. I've been having a very bad day."
Harm and Mac looked at each other, then back at her and spoke in unison. "Wonder what that's like."
Bra'tac shook his head as he looked at Teal'c. "This is something I did not expect," he growled. "How we are going to deal with Apophis and rescue your teammates is a problem..." He trailed off as he looked at Teal'c, noticing something for the first time. "Teal'c," he carefully said. "What happened to your emblem?"
Teal'c's eyes rolled to the spot where his golden mark had rested on his forehead, then back to Bra'tac. "I had it removed."
Bra'tac stared as if Teal'c had just stated he had given birth. "Teal'c...We...we cannot simply have the emblem removed!"
Teal'c was barely able to hold back a smile as he replied. "That was also said about the symbiont. Yet Tyr managed to remove that as well when he bestowed upon me his empowerment."
*Damn* Fraiser thought to herself. *O'Neill would have loved to have seen that look on Bra'tac's face.*
"Tyr?" Bra'tac got out. His eyes narrowed. "You mean an Asgard impersonating Tyr, like the one called Thor?"
Teal'c shook his head. "No. It was the true Tyr. An actual God, much like the one called Artemis."
Bra'tac raised an eyebrow. "Artemis...Artemis...Wait, is that not the Roman Goddess of the Hunt?"
"Greek, actually," Fraiser put in. "And, yes, she's a real goddess, not one of the Asgard. It's a little hard to wrap your head around, I know."
Bra'tac shook his head as he looked toward Teal'c. "You've met the actual Tyr and received his gift?"
"I have," Teal'c confirmed.
Bra'tac's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "What does this God require in return for His gifts to you?"
"Fighting the Goa'uld and occasionally helping other warriors of the Ta'Ree in their battles against other evils."
Bra'tac looked at him carefully. "I do not really want to know, do I?"
"Highly unlikely," Fraiser informed him. "But they do hang around a bit more with some specially powered commandos." She looked to Bra'tac. "You don't believe in...magic, do you?"
"One man's magic is another's science so I am open to possibilities."
"Why do I bother?" Fraiser muttered.
Bra'tac raised an eyebrow at Teal'c. "You have fought with such people?"
"Yes," Teal'c said. "I have also fought alongside Methos himself."
As far as Fraiser knew, she was the first human to ever see Bra'tac actually stammer before he spoke. "Y----y----you have m----met....DEATH?"
"He is a fine warrior," Teal'c said as if it was no consequence.
"What of..." Bra'tac swallowed. "What of the other three Horsemen of legend?"
"Methos and a friend."
"A friend of Death's," Bra'tac groaned. "What twisted sadist could that be?"
"Harm," Mac whispered. "You get the feeling we're just a little lost here?"
"I agree," Harm stated. "Let's try to get the advantage back. Excuse me?" he called out to everyone. "Just what the hell is going on here? Who are these guys?"
Fraiser looked at him and then at Teal'c and Bra'tac. "Oh, right, you haven't met," she said. "This is Teal'c and that's Bra'tac. They're-----"
"The sholvah," Harm and Mac intoned. They both started and looked at each other in confusion. "The hell did that come from?" Mac wondered, rubbing at her head.
Harm furrowed his brow. "Those...things..." he softly said. "When mine was inside me, I Got...flashes of a bunch of...images, names, events, technology, none of them mine and I can barely understand it..."
"All mixed up..." Mac finished. "But...but it's still there, still stuck inside our heads..." She shuddered. "Oh, God...This is incredibly disturbing."
"I've got a woman you two will want to talk to," Fraiser remarked.
"Excuse me," Bra'tac spoke up. "I do not believe I got your names."
"Commander Harmon Rabb."
"Lt. Colonel Sarah MacKenzie. Just call me Mac."
"Good," Bra'tac nodded. "Now, in case things go badly, I know whom to curse with my dying breath."
Harm narrowed his eyes at him. "You know, we know a guy who'd just love to meet you."
"Ah, you have met O'Neill of the Windy City," Bra'tac observed with a smile.
Harm raised an eyebrow. "You've had the displeasure?"
"Actually, I respect him greatly," Bra'tac informed him. "He is a great pain in the System Lords' neckta."
Mac looked at him before smiling. "Does that mean what I think it means?"
Bra'tac chuckled. "Finally, a human with my sense of humor."
Harm groaned as he rubbed at his temples. "I can't believe that just happened."
"I can't believe what I saw when that...thing was in me," Mac added, crossing her arms and rubbing them at the chilling memory.
Fraiser looked them over in light amazement. "I can't believe you two are on your feet so fast after that. It took Carter a week to get out of bed when it happened to her. Even Colonel O'Neill was in for a day and you can imagine how much fun that was."
"What did he do?" Mac frowned. "He brought us in, he held up his hand, there was the flash and..." She stopped and closed her eyes. "Shit, they gave us the Whammy again."
"Oh, Carter will just love hearing that term for it," Fraiser muttered.
"It is probably best that we tried to move at this time," Teal'c stated. "We are in a dangerous situation."
"Gee, you think?!" Mac sarcastically said.
Teal'c turned toward her and raised an eyebrow.
Mac leaned toward Fraiser. "Does that mean he agrees with me?"
Fraiser pursed her lips as she thought about it. "I'm still trying to interpret the meaning behind all his eyebrow raises. The best I can tell is that he's either agreeing with you, formulating a plan of rescue or just understood a joke O'Neill told him two weeks ago."
"As it happens," Teal'c announced. "I do have a plan."
"I believe I know what it is," Bra'tac said.
"What?" Fraiser asked.
"The only plan available to us," Teal'c told her.
Bra'tac nodded before finishing. "We shall surrender ourselves."
After briefly wondering if today was the Jaffa version of April Fool's Day, Fraiser immediately made up her mind that the next time SG-1 got a mission, she was going to risk going AWOL and just stay in bed all day.
Before she could even open her mouth to protest the "plan," the doors to the lab swung open. Harm was the first one to catch the staff moving into the doorway and instinctively moved. He ran over to where Fraiser and Mac stood and shoved the two down just as the staff blast erupted. The charge took Harm right in the chest, sending him flying off his feet and onto his back, hard. He let out a gasp before his eyes shut and his body slumped in death.
Seeing the smoking hole in her lover's chest sent Mac into a fury. Her eyes glanced around for a weapon, any weapon, and fell upon the zat gun that had been dropped by one of the Jaffa Teal'c had killed. Taking a deep breath, she fell forward, rolling on the ground and grabbing the gun. She felt it open up in her hands and, praying she was aiming it the right way, pulled the trigger.
She involuntarily yelped as several beams of blue electricity shot out and at the Jaffa. "Be careful!" Bra'tac barked, his own staff blasting at the doorway. "Those charges are dangerous!"
"Sorry!" Mac apologized. "It's my first ray gun."
Fraiser ducked behind a table, wincing as a blast took off a piece near her head. "And I thought med school was going to be the death of me." She unhooked her gun, realizing the moment she'd feared was almost here.
Mac scooted on her backside, still firing a blast at the door. She moved to where Fraiser was and saw her with the gun. "Wait a minute, I thought you were a doctor!" she said.
"I am," Fraiser shot back. "But, I'm also military and as we like to say, the Hippocratic Oath was not intended to be a suicide pact."
Mac ducked as a blast ripped over her head. "Are you even capable of killing someone?"
Fraiser shrugged. "It's amazing what you find yourself capable of killing when it's trying to kill you."
Bra'tac and Teal'c had also retreated to near the table, each continuing to fire. As Teal'c fired his staff, Bra'tac reached to his uniform and palmed a small globe into his palm. He squeezed and then released, a loud buzzing sound emitting from the globe. "Teal'c!" he called out.
Teal'c looked toward him and saw the globe. He turned toward Mac and Fraiser and spoke out. "Down and close your eyes!"
Fraiser did so, giving thanks that she didn't have to actually fire. Mac wasn't quite sure what was going on but if the big, strong alien said to do something, she did it. Bra'tac tossed the ball and then turned, his eyes closed as it sailed toward the door.
A loud booming sound went out along with a massive flash, quickly followed by the cries of several now-blinded Jaffa. The two former Jaffa rose up and began firing, easily taking out their helpless opponents. They spent a few moments making sure there would be no other attackers before rising.
"There will be more," Bra'tac announced. "We have to move." He looked over to where Mac had crawled over to Harm's dead body. Fraiser followed her movements and gave her a look of sympathy. She moved over to where Mac knelt by the corpse, stroking Harm's cheek. Placing a hand on the Marine's shoulder, Fraiser softly spoke. "We have to go."
"We're not leaving Harm," Mac said.
Bra'tac saw the scene and managed to put some condolence in his tone while also being strong and commanding. "He is dead, woman. There is nothing we can do for him."
"Then we wait," Mac answered, sounding quite calm about the dead body before her.
*Classic denial* Fraiser thought and she tried again. "MacKenzie...I can tell that you have some obvious feelings for this man and I am sorry but I've seen enough bodies to know when a person is dead and he-----"
Her eyes fell on the body and widened as they took in the blue electricity that covered the massive wound in Harm's chest. The lightning vanished, taking the charred flesh with it. Before Fraiser could even ask what had happened, Harm's eyes opened wide and he sat up, taking a huge draw of breath.
"And he's not dead," Fraiser found herself saying although her mind wasn't quite up to full processing speed just yet. In her time at the SGC, Fraiser had seen aliens, robots, imposters, doubles from another reality and various alien viruses and organisms. But this was definitely a new one on her. She glanced behind her and was suddenly realized she was in the unique position of being probably the only person alive who could testify to seeing both Teal'c and Bra'tac in open-mouthed shock for the second time in ten minutes.
"Oh, God...." Harm groaned as he sat up, a hand to his chest. "Damn, that hurts. Felt like my chest was on fire."
"It was," Mac told him.
"I...I have seen that before," Bra'tac managed to say. "But not without a sarcophagus present."
Harm looked up at the shocked trio and managed a rueful grin. "How about that. I managed to shock two aliens and a doctor who works with them. My day's complete."
"How...what is this?" Fraiser softly asked, her face in utter shock.
Harm groaned slightly as Mac helped him back up to his feet. "You want to tell them?" he asked.
Mac shrugged. "Sure." Making sure Harm could stand up on his own, she turned toward Fraiser and the two aliens and spoke. "Me and Harm are...well, we're Immortal."
Fraiser simply blinked while Bra'tac and Teal'c seemed to recover their decorum. "Immortal," Teal'c stated. "You mean you cannot die."
"No, no, dying we can do," Harm said, rubbing at his chest. "For us, it just doesn't seem to take, that's all."
"Well, actually, there is a way to permanently kill us," Mac added. "But you'll excuse us if we don't tell it to you."
Fraiser slowly nodded. "Okay...okay, I can accept that."
It was Harm and Mac's turn to be surprised. "You do?" they asked.
Fraiser snorted. "Considering the results of your exams and putting aside the fact I just saw him come back from the dead..." She shrugged. "After what I've seen in the last few years, that's actually pretty damn believable." She was suddenly hit with a thought. "Wait a minute, your results..." She glanced down at the dead symbionts and her eyes widened as she got the connection. "My God, that's it! If you've got a healing factor so advanced that it can fully heal a fatal wound and actually bring you back from the dead...Then it must have treated the symbionts like any other foreign agent and did whatever it took to destroy and expel them from your systems."
Teal'c's eyes lit up as a thought struck him. "Dr. Fraiser," he began. "Has it not occurred to you that Methos might be the same type of human as Commander Rabb and Colonel MacKenzie?"
Fraiser resisted the urge to smack her head in realization. "My God, you're right! I never thought about it like that but it makes perfect sense that he'd be Immortal like they are." She sniffed. "A hell of a lot more than that stupid 'gifted swords' story."
"Death as an Immortal," Bra'tac remarked. "That makes an odd sense." He turned toward Teal'c. "If there are more like them on your world...then we may have a weapon to use against the Goa'uld."
Mac leaned in toward Harm. "Should we be worried over the fact that we're being referred to as weapons?" she whispered.
"Hey," Harm whispered back. "At least it's against something realistic. Like aliens."
There was a moment of silence as everyone processed this. "All right," Harm finally said. "We need to find where those guys are being held and bust them out."
"That's it?" Fraiser said. "That's the plan, we just go in and blow them out?"
Harm shrugged. "It's the best option. Hit them hard and hit them fast."
"Ah, yes, there's the machismo," Fraiser sardonically said. She paused and looked off in thought. "Or maybe it's stupidity, I always get the two confused."
Mac had to snicker as Harm glowered. "Well, let's hear your idea!" he yelled.
"I don't have one!" Fraiser yelled back. "I'm not a commando, I'm medical, I'm usually back on the base, doing medical work, I don't get dragged into this." She shrugged. "Well, unless something unusual happens."
"Such as?" Harm pressed.
"Oh..." Fraiser began. "A bunch of aliens sneaking into the base and replacing everyone with look-alikes while we're in cold storage. So, while my body is hanging from the ceiling on a hanger like a piece of meat, an alien looking like me drugs SG-1, tortures Teal'c and ends up getting punched out by Colonel O'Neill who then opens its shirt to get at the disguise emitter."
Harm stared at her while Mac simply muttered an "ummm..."
Fraiser smirked. "Now you know how I felt seeing you come back to life."
"We had a plan already," Bra'tac said. "We shall surrender ourselves, get in close to Apophis and then attack."
"That's worse than her idea!" Harm told him. "I've got a couple of memories of how the Goa'uld work, buddy. Five of us against a guy with a force field and a couple dozen armed guards? Exactly how is that going to help us?"
"Wait a minute," Mac said, holding up a hand. Her brow was furrowed and a light smile was coming onto her face. "I think I may have a plan to do both at once."
"A plan?" Harm said. "That's not like a Marine."
Fraiser coughed to get Mac's attention. "Um, this plan of yours. Is it safe?"
"Only if you don't mind going a little nuts."
Fraiser looked at her for a long moment before throwing up her arms. "Oh, why not? Everyone else on this team does sooner or later. What's the plan?" Before Mac could answer, Fraiser held up a finger. "And can we try to keep it to a relatively low amount of danger? I promised my daughter I'd be home in time to help her with her science project and I hate being made a liar out of."
Harm looked at her with surprise. "You have a daughter?"
"Well, she's not really mine," Fraiser explained. "I adopted her when her entire world was killed by a psychotic System Lord."
It took the two Immortals a minute to absorb that. "So..." Mac started. "You're raising an alien as your daughter?"
Fraiser chuckled. "The worse part is, I'm starting to think that going through the Gate is easier than trying to talk to her for ten minutes."
Harm raised an eyebrow. "An alien as your daughter. Is that the weirdest thing ever on this job?"
Fraiser actually gave it serious thought. "It's a very big field to choose from. But, if I had to, I'd say it was examining a civilian version of Carter from an alternate reality while our Carter was standing right next to her watching that was the height of weirdness."
Harm and Mac stared at her for a full ten seconds. "Can we stop talking about this until we get out of here?" Mac finally said. "It's making my head hurt."
"On the subject at hand," Bra'tac broke in. "What is your plan, MacKenzie?"
"I think..." Mac started, looking down at some of the dead Jaffa. "It's time we went...to the classics."
On his throne, one leg crossed before him, his hands brought up to his chin, Apophis silently brooded. This was supposed to be a good time for him, the chance to finally gain his long-awaited vengeance on the humans who had defied him so many times. To destroy them while also gaining a pair of powerful hosts would have made this day among the best of Apophis' life. But Daniel Jackson's words had ruined that.
As much as Jackson might deny it, Apophis truly had loved Amonet. Her host had been a lowly but attractive creature and soon became the perfect vessel to hold Amonet's spirit. She had been the perfect mate, loyal and true. And Gods, what a lover.
But she had left him when he fell from power, left and gone on her own. That had hurt him far worse than any of Sokar's tortures. And now, to know she was dead and gone to him forever...That hurt him more. And it angered him and made him vow to take that anger out upon those who had precipitated his fall.
A whining sound got his attention and he looked up as the circle in the middle of the throne room began to glow. Instantly, the Jaffa on duty were alert, staffs held up and aimed at the circle as the rings swept up. The flash went out, the rings faded and a quintet of figures could be seen standing in the teleportation ring.
Three of them weren't standing for long. With a few hard shoves and smacks of a staff, Teal'c, Bra'tac and Fraiser were pushed forward and then down to their knees by the two armored Jaffa. They looked a bit worse for wear, Teal'c showing a blackened eye, Bra'tac a cut lip and even Fraiser looked a little roughed up, her pack pushing against her shoulders.
The two soldiers bowed their heads before Apophis, who was rising from his throne. "My Lord!" the taller of the two called out. "We have subdued the intruders despite several losses."
Apophis didn't seem to notice his words, his gaze was fixed on the two male figures before him. "Teal'c," he darkly muttered. "You cannot imagine how long I have looked forward to this moment." He let his gaze track to the side and he raised his eyebrows in surprise. "And Bra'tac. So, I will be able to punish both of my betrayers at once." He looked over to the two Jaffa and barked. "What of the Iramus?"
In answer, the second Jaffa held up a hand. Apophis' eyes darkened as he took in the two lifeless symbionts. "Dead, my Lord," the Jaffa said in an odd-sounding voice. "The intruders destroyed the symbionts and killed the hosts before we could stop them."
"Better they die than be allowed to serve you," Bra'tac announced, spitting a little blood out in Apophis' general direction.
The System Lord glowered, his eyes flashing with rage before he could calm himself. "Then I will add that to your crimes against me." He looked over to the two Jaffa and commanded. "Take the human to the cells. Let her stay with her companions until I am ready to partake in my revenge."
The two Jaffa nodded and reached down, each grabbing Fraiser by an arm and pulling. Fraiser yelped in pain as she was lifted up and onto her feet before being dragged back toward the circle. As one of the Jaffa hit a button on his wrist to call up the rings, Apophis looked down at Teal'c and Bra'tac. An evil grin came over his face as he held up a hand. "For now...I have some old bonds to reform."
"I can't believe you didn't have a plan."
"We had a plan, we went in with a plan, Carter, didn't we have a plan?"
"Well, it was more like a sketch, really, sir."
"Don't help me, Carter."
The mood inside the small cell was gloomy to say the least. O'Neill, Carter, Daniel and Jacob had been taken there right after Apophis had crushed O'Neill's communicator following his "chat" with Teal'c. In the last few minutes, Jacob had been making his feelings about O'Neill's "leadership" well known.
"I can't believe you people just rushed into this," Jacob continued. The four were seated around the floor, Jacob leaning against a wall with Carter next to him. O'Neill was on the other end of the cell with Daniel near a corner, trying to avoid the gaze of the four guards outside their cell.
"These things take timing," Jacob went on. "They take planning, they take strategy."
"Oh, yeah, and the Tok'ra strategy just works out great," O'Neill sarcastically said. "Jacob, just what is the plan for you guys, huh? The whole 'bomb a base every now and then' thing really isn't making that big an impact."
Jacob rolled his eyes. "The Tok'ra is severely outnumbered, Jack, and we don't have the resources the Goa'uld do. So, a war of attrition is the best plan."
O'Neill snorted. "More like a war of irritation. You know what, Jacob? I think, deep down, the Tok'ra's jealous."
Jacob looked at him incredulously. "Excuse me?"
"Yeah, jealous," O'Neill repeated. "In only a few years, we've taken out about a half dozen big-time System Lords and some smaller Goa'uld. How many have you guys taken out in the last few centuries?"
Jacob sighed and shook his head. "Jack, you just can't go upsetting things like that. Yes, you've taken out some big guys but that's allowed the nastier, more powerful, more ambitious System Lords to move in and consolidate power. Come on, Jack, you know as well as I do that it's easier to deal with a dozen or so lesser powered enemies than one majorly powerful one."
"Yeah, well..." O'Neill trailed off, waving a hand in the air before finishing. "Well, you're jealous!"
Jacob stared at him before turning toward Carter. "Sam, how can you sleep with this guy?"
"Well..." Carter trailed off as she realized what her father had just said. She and O'Neill both looked at him with amazed expressions, prompting Jacob to snort with amusement. "Oh, please, I have eyes!" He let out a light chuckle as he suddenly calmed down. "Were you going to tell me about you two?"
"Sam doesn't need to tell you everything, Jacob."
"Jack, stop trying to put words in my mouth."
"Well, his is so big and open, they just have to spill out somewhere."
"SHUT UP, DANIEL!"
"Look, just calm down," Daniel insisted. "I'm sure that by now, Fraiser and Teal'c have managed to get back to the Gate, told Hammond what happened and he should have no problem raising a rescue mission------"
The doors to the room opened and Fraiser stumbled in, the two armored Jaffa right behind her.
"Remind me never to take you to Vegas, Daniel," O'Neill sighed. He looked up at Fraiser and took on a light smirk. "So, Doc, nice job on the communicator."
"With respect, sir, shut up," Fraiser sourly remarked.
"Hey, this is all your fault!" O'Neill accused, pointing a finger at Fraiser.
She stared at him in utter amazement. "How in the hell is this MY fault?!" she demanded.
"If you'd just let Snake Breath die instead of saving his life when we had him, we wouldn't be in this mess!"
"Oh, yes, of course," Fraiser sarcastically answered. "Upholding my oath and saving the life of one who was in need, what *was* I thinking?!"
"Well, you could have done-----"
"Colonel," Fraiser interrupted. "I have just one thing to say to you right now."
O'Neill looked at her with amusement. "Really? What?"
Fraiser glanced at the two Jaffa behind her and then back to the cell. "Duck."
She instantly fell onto her hands and knees and covered her head. The second she dropped, the two Jaffa held up their staffs and let loose with a series of blasts. Two of the Jaffa guards never even knew what hit them and the other two had barely gotten their own staffs up when they were knocked down by the pulse bolts.
The two Jaffa who had attacked swept their staffs about, making sure there were no other guards left. They then turned to the cell, where the prisoners stared at them in confusion. Each Jaffa hit a button on their wrists and their helmets broke apart and slid away, revealing their faces.
"Oh, shit," O'Neill muttered. "You two are rescuing *us?*"
"God, no wonder those guys sound so pissed," Harm gasped. He shook his head a bit, then threw a smirk at O'Neill. "So, O'Neill. Any more cracks about how the Navy's only good for taxi service?"
Mac actually let out a light chuckle as she shook her head. "I can't believe that worked!"
"It was your plan," Harm pointed out.
"I know, I can't believe it worked! The oldest trick in the book and the big, bad alien fell for it hook, line and sinker!"
"So much for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe," Harm agreed. He looked over at the others. "I'm guessing that Stargate thing doesn't have an IQ requirement?"
Carter looked at her father. "You told them about the Stargate?!" she demanded in disbelief.
Jacob gave his daughter a bemused look. "Sam, we're on another planet surrounded by hostile aliens. I think they'd figure it out on their own soon enough."
"Dad, we're trying to keep it secret----"
"My little traveling companion pretty much absolves me from any security problems, hon."
O'Neill threw up his hands. "What the hell kind of family am I getting into?"
"An Irish one?"
"Shut up, Daniel, I got it."
"This is the grand commando team that saves the world all the time?" Mac asked. "I am deeply ashamed."
Everyone looked at her with slightly insulted expressions. "And what's wrong with us, may I ask?" O'Neill questioned, his arms folded.
"The fact that you go into serious combat wearing baseball caps?"
"Have you seen a modern-day ballgame lately?" O'Neill looked toward Mac and Harm, who simply looked back at him. After a moment, O'Neill finally said, "Well?"
The two JAG officers looked at each other, then back at him. "Well what?" they answered with innocent expressions.
O'Neill threw his hand out in an impatient gesture. "The door? You're going to let us out, aren't you?"
"Let's see..." Harm said in a teasing tone, making a show of thinking about it. Tapping a finger against his chin, he smiled at O'Neill. "Are you going to kill us now that we know about the Stargate?"
"If we wanted that, we wouldn't have come," O'Neill told him. "Trust me, if we wanted to kill you, you'd be dead by now."
Harm let his eyes trail along the cell. "Actually, considering what I've seen so far of you people at work, if you'd wanted to kill us, *you'd* be dead by now."
"Well, either way, you should know you're in no danger," O'Neill said, refusing to back down.
"Considering we got kidnapped and possessed by Goa'uld, that's not reassuring."
"Um, repeat that last part, please?" a slightly alarmed Daniel asked.
"It's all right," Fraiser quickly assured him. "It was only for a few minutes before they expelled the symbionts."
"Expelled them?" an amazed Carter said. "How?"
"Oh, I doubt you'd understand," Mac said with a perfect replication of Carter's earlier tone with her back at the SGC. "It involves technical terms that are far beyond your comprehension."
Carter glowered as Harm moved toward the keypad on the side of the cell and made a few quick strokes. The cell door slid open and allowed SG-1 to come out. "How did you get the code?" Daniel asked.
"Bra'tac managed to find it out," Fraiser explained as she rose from the floor.
"Bra'tac?" O'Neill demanded. "What is he-----" He broke off and vigorously shook his head. "No, no, no, I promised myself I wouldn't be surprised by him anymore."
"Just where is Bra'tac now?" Daniel asked.
"He and Teal'c are with Apophis," Fraiser matter-of-factly answered.
"What?!" O'Neill exploded. "You left them there?!"
"It was their idea!" Fraiser defended herself. "They volunteered to be captured, figuring that it would put Apophis off guard and distract him so we could break you out."
"What idiot thought that plan up?!"
Mac coughed and held up a hand.
"Well, that explains it."
"Watch it, Jack," Jacob chided him. "It was a good plan and it worked out better than anything we came up with."
O'Neill stared at him. "Jacob, you don't actually like these guys, do you?"
"They're good, outspoken, strong and tough as nails. What's not to like?"
"All right, Dad, now you're scaring me," Carter said.
"Look, we're going after them," Mac stressed. "We don't leave our own behind. Of course, you're not a Marine, so I doubt you'd know."
"Nice diss, hon," Harm said.
Coughing, Jacob tried to get things back on track. "Okay, listen. We need to rescue Teal'c and Bra'tac, set off the explosives and get to the Gate before-----"
"Scuse me?" O'Neill broke in, holding up a finger. "Explosives? What explosives?"
Jacob looked confused for a moment before answering. "Oh, right, I forgot to mention. I planted some explosives around the base before I was caught. Each on their own isn't too bad but they're connected to some weapon depots, power relays, other stuff so that when they go off, it should make a big enough bang to take out most of the base."
O'Neill looked at him with an open mouth. "And exactly when were you going to be bringing this up?" he demanded.
"It didn't seem that important to mention when we had no way out of the cell," Jacob informed him. "Plus, I think Apophis has the remote trigger with him since he was grabbing a bunch of my stuff when he threw me in the cell."
O'Neill looked toward Carter. "Sam, I love your pop and all but he's starting to act too much like the Tok'ra for my tastes."
"Mine too," Carter had to admit."
O'Neill sighed and rubbed at his head. "Okay, we need to get some weapons and we need to-----"
Without a word, Fraiser slipped off her pack and unzipped it to reveal a few zat guns and a pair of machine guns. "As a giver of life, not a taker, please appreciate how unsettling it was to carry this," she told the group as she lifted up the pack.
"You're a lifesaver, Doc," O'Neill said as he took a zat gun and a rifle. "And I mean that literally."
"Thanks, sir, that'll make my day complete."
O'Neill looked up at Harm and Mac. "You two want any of this?"
"I'll take one of those zat ones," Mac said. "It's less of a carry than these staffs."
"I don't know, I like them," Harm said, hefting his staff a bit. "Gives me a wide range to fight from and I can handle the kick of the blast."
Mac smiled as she looked down at herself. "Well, at least the armor's a better outfit to go into combat. I can't imagine going into a fight wearing that flimsy dress."
"Funny, I could.."
"On the job, flyboy."
"You won't let me have any fun."
O'Neill rolled his eyes once more. "I can't believe we're actually being rescued by these two." He checked the ammo in his rifle before slinging the strap over his shoulder and slid a zat gun onto his belt. Behind him, Carter was also palming a zat gun as Daniel took up a rifle. Harm stared at him with mild surprise. "Ah, can you shoot that? I thought you were an archeologist."
"I am," Daniel answered, still looking at his gun, his face set. "So, I'm making more work for myself by trying to make them extinct."
Everyone stopped what they were doing to stare at him. "You worry me sometimes, Daniel, you really do," O'Neill said.
Harm took a look around and, smiling, shook his head. "Navy, Marines and Air Force. All we need is an Army officer and we've got the full armed forces compilation." He chuckled and then saw Mac wearing a large smile on her face. "What is it?"
Mac turned her smile toward him. "Just thinking of the richly satisfying feeling if we managed to drag Matthew Connors along on a trip like this."
Harm immediately smiled back. "That makes me feel so much better, thanks."
Mac moved toward the door, her armor shuffling a bit around her as she carefully opened the door and took a peek down either side of the hallway. She turned and faced the others. "Okay, we're clear."
"You're sure?" O'Neill asked.
"Real clear," Mac answered. "Transparent in fact."
O'Neill looked toward Carter. "Now, see, this means there's about a hundred Jaffa just waiting for us to step out so they can blast us."
Mac snorted. "Oh, come on! I don't think a couple of Jaffa are just going to sneak up behind me and be able to-----"
The rest of her words were lost in a pair of zat blasts. Mac shot straight up, her eyes wide and her body shaking. She collapsed onto the floor, twitching for a bit before stilling.
"Damn, I was just starting to tolerate her," O'Neill muttered as he swung his rifle up. He immediately opened fire on the two Jaffa who had entered the room. Sparks lit up at the armor on the Jaffa who had just killed Mac, sending him down. Harm had already unleashed a blast that took out the other Jaffa.
Glancing at the Jaffa O'Neill had shot, then at O'Neill. "Staff blasters, ray guns, spaceships, personal force fields and these guys can't even develop bullet-proof armor?"
"It's a designer flaw," O'Neill shrugged. "Don't ask, I gave up understanding it years ago."
"But you don't really mind, do you?"
"Are you kidding? I love shooting these guys!"
Carter had joined Fraiser in kneeling by Mac's body. Fraiser had rolled her over onto her back, her limbs splayed about. Carter actually felt sorry for her earlier treatment of MacKenzie. No matter how much she'd pissed Carter off, she didn't deserve to die like this. Carter looked up and was surprised to see Fraiser with a blasť expression on her face. True, Janet was a professional but she at least showed a little more emotion than this.
"I hate to sound callous," O'Neill announced. "But could we have all the *living* people move about now?"
"Just wait, sir," Fraiser said.
"Janet, the woman is dead," Carter stressed.
"It's all right, Carter," Harm spoke up. "She's-----"
"Shhh!" Fraiser said, pointing a finger at him. A smile was actually on her face as she motioned around the room. "I don't want to miss an opportunity to see them all shocked speechless."
Ignoring Carter, Fraiser turned toward Harm. "So, how long do you think?"
Harm looked at Mac and thought about it. "Well, if it's just a massive electrocution, that shouldn't be too long." Fraiser looked at him quizzically and he made a sheepish smile. "I...um...knocked a plugged hair dryer into the bathtub one time by accident."
"A hairdryer?" Fraiser asked.
"Well, we were...you know..."
Before Fraiser could comment, Mac let out a huge gasp as she came back to life. Everyone else started and then stared as she opened her eyes and tried to sit up. "Oh, shit," she whispered. "Oh, damn, that was...God, it felt like my entire body was electricity!"
"I'll take your word for it," Harm said as he moved to her. "Well, hon, guess we're tied on this trip."
"What the HELL is this?!" O'Neill yelled, the only one of the humans there who could say anything at this point.
"It's...sort of complicated, sir," Fraiser started.
"Me and Harm are Immortal, we can die but we won't stay dead long, we can heal any wound almost instantly and that's why we were able to expel the symbionts."
"Okay, not that complicated..." Fraiser muttered.
"Immortal?" Carter broke in. "Like Methos?"
Harm threw up his hands. "Just how the hell do you people know this guy?"
"You don't want to know," Fraiser assured him.
"Makes you wonder how many other of those guys that St. Wolf guy knows," Carter murmured to herself.
"Well, I don't think he could get that many," Daniel told her.
"Now wait a minute," O'Neill spoke up. "You're telling us you can't die?"
"Pretty much, yeah," Harm answered.
"Good!" O'Neill barked. "Because when this is over, I'm going to shoot you for all you've put us through!"
"Hey!" Harm yelled, pointing a finger at O'Neill. "If *you* hadn't started this whole thing by getting into that brawl..."
"What part of undue influence do you not understand?!" O'Neill yelled back.
"Children," Jacob called out. "Can we get on track here? We've had too much time talking as it is. Sooner or later, we're going to have company."
"So what?" Daniel asked. "It's not like these two have anything to worry about."
"You don't seem too impressed," Harm noted.
Daniel shrugged. "Well, I've been through that myself."
Mac frowned. "You have? But...you're not..."
"Before we get into a very confusing argument," O'Neill broke in. "Can we concentrate on getting out of here?"
Harm looked at Carter. "He's showing good sense."
"He has his moments," Carter answered.
Carter looked at O'Neill and then shrugged. "He's Irish."
"That explains it," Harm and Mac said.
O'Neill looked at Daniel: "What have I done to deserve such verbal abuse?"
Daniel did a nice show of giving it thought. "Do you want the short list or the long?"
Giving up, O'Neill moved toward the door, his rifle up and ready. "Okay, here we go. I got lead, the rest...hell, figure it out. Oh, and MacKenzie, if they start firing zat bolts, keep your head down."
"Hey, I already got killed," Mac retorted. "What's the worst that can happen?"
"Well, a third shot from the zat gun so soon after the first two will disintegrate you," Daniel calmly answered.
Mac looked at him before closing her eyes. "I'm really hating you guys."
"Please, don't lump me in with them," Fraiser begged.
"Any ideas on how to get Teal'c and Bra'tac out from under Snake Breath's nose?" O'Neill asked.
"Actually, Teal'c already had an idea," Harm told him. "It involves sneaky, underhanded tactics that would create a large amount of destruction. He thought you'd approve."
"Ah, he knows me so well..." O'Neill checked his rifle, then brushed up the collars on his jacket. "Well, children, it looks like we're up a creek. Let's paddle."
"I wonder if it's possible to classify myself as a Section Eight?" Fraiser muttered under her breath. "I have to look into that..."
Teal'c had seen Bra'tac's courage and strength in various ways over the years. He'd seen it in battle and in the aftermath. He'd seen it in his taking the chance to teach his young apprentice that their masters weren't truly gods and had to be opposed. And he'd seen it when Bra'tac finally turned on Apophis and helped lead the rebellion among the Jaffa. But right now, Bra'tac was showing him a level of strength that Teal'c hadn't thought him capable of before.
Bra'tac knelt on the ground, a pair of Jaffa holding him down by the arms. Apophis stood before him, his hand raised and his palm device flashing brightly. From it emitted a bright light, the beam pouring into Bra'tac's forehead, racking him with pain. The aged Jaffa had his teeth gritted, his face set in defiance, despite the overwhelming agony that was coming over him. He may die, Bra'tac vowed, but he was damned if he was going to give Apophis the satisfaction of seeing him in suffering.
Nearby, Teal'c was struggling with the trio of Jaffa who held him on his knees as Apophis continued to torture Bra'tac. He finally let up, his hand device dimming, allowing Bra'tac, despite his pride, to sink a bit in his captors' grasp. "You take your pain well, Bra'tac," Apophis said. "But I will hear you scream before the day is done."
Bra'tac slowly lifted his head to glare at Apophis, his gaze one of pure hatred. "You will die and come back ten times more before you ever hear me scream," he hissed.
Apophis raised an eyebrow. "We shall see." He slowly turned his head to the side to look at Teal'c. "Teal'c. Tell me, just what has become of your emblem? Or your symbiont?"
"Both taken," Apophis said. "A gift from a *true* God, not the pretender you are."
Apophis' face darkened and he flexed one hand. "I will make your death one of exquisite pain, Teal'c," he said. "But first..." He turned back toward Bra'tac, his hand moving back up. "He led you into your rebellion, First Prime," Apophis said. "It is only proper he lead you into death."
His palm device glowed once more and Bra'tac braced himself for another onslaught of pain. Before it could come, however, another sound rang out through the room. Apophis' head swung up as he saw the teleport circle glow. He immediately raised his hands and made a motion to the Jaffa to drag Bra'tac toward Teal'c. "Kree!" he shouted, motioning toward the circle. Immediately, a dozen Jaffa moved in to surround the circle, staffs swinging down to aim at the center.
The rings shot up and then the flash rang out. Apophis stepped forward, gazing over the shoulder of his Jaffa as the rings vanished into the floor, leaving what had been teleported for all to see. Apophis saw the small bag in the middle of the ring and frowned. One Jaffa stepped forward and picked up the bag. He stepped back and looked at it dully, turning it in his hands. Apophis' eyes widened as it suddenly struck him just what that bag contained.
He immediately held up his gauntlet and pushed the button that activated his force field. The glimmering shield had just covered him when the explosives inside the bag went off. The Jaffa holding the bag was immediately incinerated, along with three others, the rest blown back. Apophis was protected from the blast itself but not the shock wave it created, which knocked him off his feet and sent him flying back toward his throne.
The distance, the Jaffa that had already been around it and the fact they were on their knees and out of the main wave of fire kept Teal'c and Bra'tac safe. Their guards weren't as lucky, two catching shrapnel in their heads and chest, the other two knocked off-balance enough for the two former Jaffa to get free. Teal'c immediately went for the first staff weapon he could find while Bra'tac showed a surprising return to strength as he grabbed a staff of his own.
The rings reactivated and when the flash faded, O'Neill, Carter, Daniel, Jacob, Fraiser, Harm and Mac were there. Immediately, O'Neill, Harm and Mac opened up with their weapons on the Jaffa still on their feet. Teal'c and Bra'tac fired their own weapons in an attempt to cut down on the opposition.
O'Neill quickly moved over to where Bra'tac and Teal'c were. "Hey, Bra, nice to see you again."
"O'Neill," Bra'tac grunted. "I am pleased to see you as well."
"I had not expected so volatile an entrance, O'Neill," Teal'c noted as he shot down a Jaffa.
"Well, we figured we'd need a distraction and Jacob knew where the snakes kept their explosives, right for us to grab," O'Neill explained. "They're good sports, those."
Amidst the firing, Jacob had slid to a spot near Apophis' throne, where a set of devices had been laid out. *Told you he'd want to keep them as trophies* Jacob thought.
<Jacob, we are in a very precarious position,> Selmak told him. <Could you put the "I told you so" off for a period of time, for once?>
*Spoil my fun* Jacob returned as he immediately rushed back to where SG-1 was. "I got it!" he yelled, holding up a small device in his hand.
"Good, you got it, let's haul!" O'Neill said. By this point, the few Jaffa who hadn't been cut down by staff blasts, zat beams and bullets had retreated for reinforcements. O'Neill saw Apophis himself still laying by his throne, trying to get back to his feet. And he also saw Teal'c moving toward the System Lord, murder in his eye. "Teal'c!" he yelled.
"I am not leaving him alive, O'Neill!" Teal'c yelled back.
"Hey, I want a piece of him too but we've gotta get out of here!" O'Neill said.
"Not until I have killed him!"
"Goddamit, Teal'c, that is an ORDER!"
Teal'c looked at O'Neill, his face flushed with anger. "I will not------"
"Don't make me shoot you," O'Neill said in a voice that let Teal'c know he wasn't joking. With a final look back at the downed Apophis, Teal'c moved to join the others near the rings. As soon as they were all gathered, Harm hit the trigger on his gauntlet. Apophis rose in time to see the two people he'd just seen taken as Goa'uld grinning and giving him the finger.
The rings slammed down onto one of the quieter hallways inside the fortress. Thanks to some directions from Jacob, they'd managed to find a different spot to teleport from than before, a spot mercifully free for the moment of Jaffa.
As the teleport effect faded, O'Neill turned toward Jacob. "I thought we were going to be making a big kaboom here?" he demanded.
"Call me crazy, Jack, but I'd prefer to be a safe distance away before we blow this place to hell," Jacob retorted.
"Point taken," O'Neill said. "And I still think you're crazy for keeping that snake inside you!"
"So..." Harm started. "Is this a normal day for all of you?"
"Nah," O'Neill shrugged. "This is a milk run."
"If your milk happens to be in Bosnia," Daniel said.
"Ignore him, he's been trying to get the hang of humor for years and he's no closer now than when he started." O'Neill checked his ammo, putting a new clip in as he looked up at Harm. "I hope you realize what you're putting us through with this inconvenience."
Harm's eyes bugged out. "Inconvenience? We're the ones who got kidnapped to another planet and infected with alien slugs!"
"And we had to rescue you, so we're the ones who got inconvenienced."
Hefting his zat gun, Harm turned toward Bra'tac. "Remind me. How many shots does it take to kill him?"
Mac looked at Carter. "Do you even do deep space radar telemetry?"
"Oh, yes, we chart star systems and planets all the time," Carter answered. "We just leave out the little thing about us actually visiting them."
Mac rolled her eyes. "And I thought what we did was weird."
"We are going to be wanting an explanation for that, you know."
"Oh, and you were so forthcoming on what you did!" Mac shot back.
Carter blinked and then glared at Mac. "Are you always this pissed off when you come back from the dead?"
Mac moved forward, pushing a finger into Carter's chest. Her nostrils flared as she glared right into Carter's eyes. "No. I'm this pissed after I've been kidnapped, entranced, stripped naked and put through the closest thing to rape I ever want to experience."
Carter blanched for a minute before recovering. "Listen, MacKenzie...I know what it's like. I had------"
"A symbiont, yeah, your dad told us." Carter shot a quick look at Jacob before Mac's words directed her attention back. "Guess what, Carter? Yours was a saint compared to that...thing," Mac spat. She leaned in and looked Carter straight in the eye, the Air Force officer seeing the pain within her. "It was only in me for a few seconds but it felt like an eternity of hell so please don't piss me off anymore."
Carter slowly swallowed and stepped back, her anger toward Mac fading at the obvious trauma the woman had gone through. Resisting the urge to hug Mac then and there, Harm instead let his gaze swing toward O'Neill. "Well? Got anything to add?"
O'Neill coughed. "Well, I was going to, but, regardless of my reputation, even I know when it's time not to make an inappropriate comment."
"Everyone calm down, all right?" Jacob barked. "The last thing we need to do is lose our heads."
"I'm a Marine, we never lose our heads."
"Of course not," O'Neill easily answered. "Then again, it was a Marine who was dumb enough to yell at his men, 'you wanna live forever?'"
"Don't start with the Immortality jokes!"
"Please, God, shoot me," Fraiser groaned.
A staff blast hit the wall about two inches away from Fraiser's head. "Okay, I was asking for that," Fraiser muttered as she ducked to the side.
Harm fired away with his zat gun, taking out one of the Jaffa who had fired upon him. The others kept firing, their pulse blasts ripping down the hallway and around the human intruders.
"God, these guys shoot worse than Imperial Stormtroopers!" Mac yelled.
O'Neill threw her a smirk. "Just think of it as a reminder of how shooting to wound is pretty much a useless strategy."
"Who would be that stupid in this situation anyway?"
There was enough of a pause in the firing for everyone to look at O'Neill. "Ha ha ha," he replied, firing another burst down the hall.
Teal'c and Bra'tac fired off a double blast that took down a sizeable piece of the wall behind the Jaffa, knocking several about. "I can tell you people aren't a covert unit," Harm noted.
"What they lack in subtlety, they make up for in efficiency," Jacob answered with a smile.
Firing off a charge from his staff, Bra'tac called out to O'Neill. "O'Neill, we cannot stay here long!"
"We're too big a crowd to go at once, sir!" Carter observed as she fired. "We need to split up!"
"Oh, yeah, because that just worked out *so* well the last time we tried it!"
"Janet, you're sounding like the Colonel."
"Okay, we break it up!" O'Neill yelled. "Doc, Bra'tac, you're with MacKenzie and Rabb! The rest are with me, we split down the hall on three!"
"Now, is that on three or do we count-----"
"We're not even starting that, Daniel!" O'Neill fired again and then shrugged. "Oh, the hell with it, go, go, go!"
They began to back up, firing as they did at the rapidly growing number of Jaffa. "Just where do all these guys come from?" O'Neill muttered.
"I am assuming that is a rhetorical question, O'Neill."
"It is, Teal'c but thanks for clarifying."
"Is this what you always do in a hostile situation?" Mac asked him. "Laugh in the face of death?"
"Actually, I generally sneer," O'Neill returned. "Teal'c just does the eyebrow."
The group was backing into a side hallway, Harm, Mac and Fraiser in the rear. The two JAG officers and the medical officer turned and moved into the deserted hallway. "Whoever said 'it's not a job, it's an adventure' should have been dragged out into the streets and shot," Harm muttered under his breath.
"See, now I've got 'the good, the few, the proud,'" Mac teased. The two were walking forward, Fraiser trying to catch up to them. "Hold it, hold it, hold it!" she called out, reaching to grab at Harm's wrist. Too late, she felt her finger tighten too much on one button in particular. A flash of light came overhead and the three immediately looked up. They then looked down to see themselves standing in a large circle. "I hate you both," Fraiser said as the rings came down. "I really, really hate------"
"-----You both." Fraiser blinked her eyes and made an effort to hold in her stomach. *A trip through the gate and multiple teleports. I am never complaining about the time I took Cassie to Six Flags again.*
As her eyesight cleared, she took in her surroundings. She, Harm and Mac were at the far end of a large room, somewhere in the pyramid, Fraiser guessed. It took her a moment to realize it was a hanger, several rows of Goa'uld gliders spread about. Some were in a position to immediately launch themselves at the open doors that were on the opposite side of the hanger. Others were lined up, waiting for someone to come to them. At the moment, the hanger was empty. Any Jaffa who had been on duty had no doubt been called upon to fight the human intruders.
"Shit," Mac muttered. She looked at the hanger doors and then to Harm. "Should we chance teleporting back down?"
Harm shook his head. "They'll probably have a dozen Jaffa waiting for us by then and I think dying once today is enough."
"I'm with you there," Mac agreed. "So, now what?"
Harm's eyes fell on a glider and a small smile came to his face. "Hmmm...."
Mac knew that look. It was the look Harm got every now and then when in court and he suddenly seized upon a stray comment or a notation on a report. It was the look that told her he had seized upon an idea and he knew he was right about it. "Oh, God. What is it?"
Harm began to walk toward a glider. After sharing a look, Mac and Fraiser moved to catch up to him. "Harm?" Mac called out. "Harm, are you actually suggesting-----"
"They'll probably need some covering fire when they get out," Harm said without looking back. "And we could use the aerial view."
"Oh, I don't like where this is going," Fraiser announced to no one in particular.
"You sure?" Mac asked.
"Yep," Harm answered, a smile on his face as he ran a hand against the glider.
"Um, excuse me?" Fraiser called out, holding up a finger. "Since when do you know how to fly an alien spaceship?"
"I've got some traces memories from that symbiont," Harm answered. "It was in a Jaffa, remember." He gazed over the glider and nodded. "I think I can handle it."
Harm didn't even listen to her. Instead, he climbed up to the glider, which conveniently had its cockpit hood up, allowing him to slide into the pilot's seat. "Okay, okay, I can do this," he said, looking over the controls.
Mac saw the way Harm's eyes lit up at the alien technology and knew there was no way to talk him out of this. Sighing, she moved up to the glider and got ready to climb in. "I'll take the other seat. The doc here can squeeze in with me."
"What?" Fraiser couldn't believe she was seeing this.
"You be on top of her," Harm told Mac.
"Why is she on top of me?!" Fraiser demanded.
Harm looked over at her with an innocent expression. "She weighs less than you do."
Fraiser looked over the armor-bound Mac. "Oh, now, come on-----"
"I love you," Mac smiled at Harm.
Fraiser looked at them both, then threw up her hands. "I'm crazy, that's all there is to it, I'm just crazy."
The encampment that had looked rather quiet when SG-1 first saw it was now a site of bedlam. Jaffa rushed about, several arming the cannons around the camp, others taking guard over some of the more sensitive areas while the rest just rushed about, trying to keep order.
When it came to SG-1, that was pretty much an exercise in futility.
Carter ducked behind a pile of containers as a zat beam whizzed over her head. She felt, rather than saw, a Jaffa coming up and leapt to her feet. Grabbing its arm, she pulled back while slamming her palm against the back of the Jaffa's elbow, breaking it. She swung a leg up and slammed a foot into the warrior's uncovered face, smashing its nose. She let go and let it collapse to the ground in pain and turned her attention immediately toward another Jaffa. Leaping, Carter lashed out with a spin kick that hit the alien in the face, breaking its jaw. Landing on her feet, Carter turned to face Jacob, who was looking at his daughter in wonder. "Sam," he started. "Is there something you'd like to tell me?"
"It's sort of a long story, Dad," Carter answered.
"And it can wait!" O'Neill yelled as he came up, firing his rifle at some Jaffa. Daniel was with him as Teal'c and Bra'tac began to back up toward them as well. The group came together near the containers, Bra'tac and Teal'c making pinpoint shots on the Jaffa foolish enough to come close. Teal'c looked over the containers to see one of the large cannons being swept around and toward them.
"O'Neill," Teal'c called out. "I believe we may have a problem."
"On a mission, gee, when was the last time *that* happened?!"
"Um, Jack?" Daniel called out, his eyes widening as he saw the cannon moving toward them. "Maybe we should think about----"
There was a loud shooshing sound, followed by twin beams of energy that ripped down and into the cannon. Immediately, it erupted into flame, sending Jaffa flying in all directions. More blasts came down from the sky, causing small explosions around the camp.
As one, the entire group looked up to see a Jaffa glider sweep down, its cannons blazing. It was flying somewhat erratically, moving back and forth as if its pilot was still getting used to how to handle the ship. But it was managing to fly and make a fairly decent strafing run as it did.
O'Neill saw the ship soar overhead and closed his eyes. "Carter," he said, his voice and face expressing pain. "Tell me that's not..."
Carter's look mirrored his own. "Only the Navy flies that crazy, sir."
Jacob laughed and shook his head. "I knew I liked those kids."
"Great," O'Neill groaned, dragging a hand down his face. "Just great. Now, we have to listen to them brag about how they've saved our asses AGAIN!"
"Well, you could always knock that rant off by listing all the times and ways you've saved the world."
"Thanks, Daniel, I needed that."
"I'm crazy," Fraiser whispered to herself. "I'm crazy." She gripped the armrests of her chair hard, gasping for breath as the glider took a sudden turn. The gasp also came due to Mac sitting onto her, her armored form pushing Fraiser down hard into her seat and leaving her with very little leg or breathing room. Mac wasn't comfortable either and was feeling just as nervous about Harm's flying as Fraiser was.
Harmon Rabb Jr wore a smile on his face that Mac hadn't seen since the first night they'd made love. While the vague memories of his symbiont were helping, Harm had taken to the glider's controls far easier than he thought he would. The layout was simple, the pitch and firing controls easy to get to and Harm always had enjoyed an affinity for aircraft.
So all in all, he was having the time of his life. Mac and Fraiser, however, were far less enthused.
"Ah!" Fraiser yelled as a sudden turn slammed her against the side of her seat. "I thought you knew how to fly this thing from memory!"
"Wasn't my memory," Harm answered, the smile never leaving his face. "Plus, it was sketchy at best. Don't worry, I think I've got the hang of it."
"Hanging sounds so good right now..."
Harm turned the glider around and aimed it right at the pyramid hanger they had just left. "Um, Harm?" Mac called out, staring at the oncoming structure. "Didn't we just leave here?"
"Just making sure we don't get any dogfights," Harm said, pushing the fire triggers. Several pulse blasts ripped out and into the hanger, striking at several of the waiting gliders and fuel containers. Harm threw the plane into another turn, letting out a little laugh as flame erupted from the hanger bay.
Fraiser heard the laughter and brought her head up to look at Mac. "Is it me or is he enjoying this far too much?"
Mac shrugged. "Well, he was grounded for a while with night blindness after a plane crash."
"Relax," Mac quickly added. "His Immortality fixed that, his eyesight's 20/20 now."
"It's not his eyesight I'm worried about, it's his sanity!"
"Well...that's a bit iffy."
"I'm crazy, I'm just crazy."
"I don't see what the problem is," Mac told her.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON'T SEE WHAT THE PROBLEM IS?!?!" Fraiser exploded, gulping as Harm threw the plane into a sharp turn.
"You ARE in the Air Force," Mac pointed out. She yelped as Harm threw the glider into a dive, sending them blasting downward, cannons firing down on the Jaffa. "Um, Harm," Mac called out. "I love you and all but maybe you're being just a little overboard here?"
"Wait, wait, let me see if I can do a barrel roll..."
"NO!" the two women shrieked.
"Aw, come on, just once?" Harm pleaded.
"Harm!" Mac glared at him. "This is not a toy! You don't do this in a jet!"
"The taxpayers don't handle this."
Mac paused before nodding. "Well, you have a point there."
"I'm crazy, I'm crazy, I'm crazy, I'm crazy......"
A sudden flash of light came from the side, followed by a blasting sound. The glider suddenly shook from the force of the lucky shot a Jaffa blast had made. Mac spun her head to the side and saw smoke pouring out from the right wing. "We're hit!" she yelled.
"I know!" Harm yelled back, fighting with the controls. The glider shook from another blast, this one striking near the bottom. "Okay, that solves the problem of how to land this thing." Harm informed them.
"I hate you," Fraiser said with a voice of ice. "I hate you both."
"After the exam you gave us, we're even!" Mac shot back.
"Buckle in back there!" Harm called out, fighting with the controls. "We're going down!"
"No seatbelts," Fraiser tightly told him.
Harm didn't even pause. "Okay, Mac, try to cover her as best you can."
Fraiser rolled her eyes. "I have an armored Marine lawyer sitting in my lap acting as an air bag. My life officially makes no sense anymore."
"That's what you get for joining the Air Force," Mac jibed as she braced herself.
SG-1, Bra'tac and Jacob in tow, were running from what was left of the encampment. Erratic it may have been but Harm's impromptu attack had caused severe damage to the area. Several of the cannons had been destroyed, tents were in flames and the bodies of Jaffa lay everywhere. The Jaffa themselves, meanwhile, had begun to retreat to the fortress and the pyramid above it, no doubt to protect Apophis.
The group managed to get to the hill just as a low humming sound started to close in behind them. O'Neill craned his head around to see the smoking glider coming toward them. "Incoming!" he yelled, ducking to the ground. The others quickly joined them, covering their heads as the wounded ship flew over their heads, trails of smoke flying onto them.
Inside, Harm yanked back on the controls and gritted his teeth, doing his best to come right side up as the ground came closer. The glider slammed into the ground on its bottom, bouncing off and then slamming into it hard. Dirt and dust flew in all directions as the ship slid across the field and to the edge of the forest. It finally came to a stop, smashing into a tree and then settling into the ground.
"Yeah, that's a Navy landing all right," O'Neill noted as he rose to his feet. He began marching toward the downed craft, the other falling in behind him.
"I have to admit, Jack," Daniel began. "You tend not to crash any aircraft you pilot."
"Of course, that's just about the only thing he doesn't manage to destroy on a mission," Carter noted.
"I try to be consistent," O'Neill swiftly answered. He came up to craft as the hood to the cockpit popped open. With a groan, Mac began to extradite herself from the ship, groaning as she lifted a leg over the hood. She let out a yelp as Fraiser gave her a shove, sending her off the ship and landing hard on one leg. She rolled about with a yell as she was sure at least one bone in her leg was sprained, if not broken.
"I am never," Fraiser hissed as she climbed out of the glider. "EVER. Flying. Again."
"Harm's flying is an acquired taste, I'll admit," Mac grunted, leaning on the glider for support as she felt her leg heal. Harm himself had managed to pull out of the pilot's seat, rubbing at his face.
"Nice landing, Rabb," O'Neill said. "I'm sure I-----" He stopped as Harm turned toward them, showing the massive cut that bisected his forehead.
"Don't piss me off, O'Neill," he bit out, apparently not even noticing his wound. "I'm really not in the mood." He watched as they all stared at the cut healing itself, flashes of electricity closing the wound. "What?" Harm asked, holding up his hands.
O'Neill paused before answering. "Always nice to know there are still ways the universe can trick you up."
"Think of it as its way of keeping you humble, Jack," Jacob told him.
"The universe has its work cut out for it," Daniel muttered.
O'Neill shot him a glare before turning to Harm, Mac and Fraiser. "Are you guys ready to move?"
"Give me a minute," Mac grunted. She leaned against the ship, grit her teeth, then snapped her leg forward, an audible cracking going out as her bones reknit. "Okay," she nodded, stepping back onto the leg. "I'm ready."
"Oh, God, that's disgusting," Daniel winced.
"It's surprising how fast you get used to it," Harm informed him as he wiped at his face.
Ignoring them, Jacob held up the small remote and pushed the center button. "Okay," he announced. "We've got less than ten minutes before those bombs start to go off." He looked at the startled group. "Hope I'm not putting pressure on you."
"I'm Navy, I'm JAG and I'm a pilot. I live on pressure."
"Rabb," O'Neill stated. "Keep in mind, we are not all Immortal."
"Well, we're not suicidal, so we're even," Harm returned as the group started to run.
Fraiser was in the rear of the group, amazed at just how much imminent death could push a person's speed. She let out a small prayer of thanks as the group made it through the woods and into the clearing, the Stargate before them. "That's it?" Mac asked. "That's the big device that transports you across the galaxy?"
"Don't ask me, I didn't design it!" O'Neill yelled. "Daniel, dial us up, send the code and get us the HELL out of here!"
Daniel took on a burst of speed to reach the raised platform before the Gate. He immediately started to push on the symbols, each one lighting up with a light tone. The Gate started to whirl, the symbols locking down in sequence as Daniel stepped back.
Carter checked her wristwatch and blinked. She had it set to count down the moment Jacob had told her the bombs would be going off in ten minutes and the readout wasn't what she expected. "Um, Dad, you said ten minutes after you pushed the remote, right?"
"Yeah," Jacob told his daughter. "Why?"
Carter held up her watch so Jacob could show that the readout said 02:27 and counting up. "Uh oh," Jacob muttered. "They should have gone off by now."
"A Tok'ra plan that doesn't work out," O'Neill sarcastically said. "What a shocker."
"Are the batteries upside down?" Daniel asked. "I have that problem sometimes with my TV remote-----"
A gigantic booming noise cut through the area, causing everyone to instinctively cover their ears. They looked up to see a massive orange glow come over the horizon. As they watched, the glow appeared to brighten, smaller explosions coming in rapid succession.
"Um, is it just me," Harm started. "Or is the explosion coming closer?"
"Uh oh," Jacob said. "I think I may have underestimated the blast range."
"DANIEL...!" Even as O'Neill said it, the final chevron locked in and the Gate came alive, blasting out its water-like energy before settling back.
"Whoa," Mac whispered, taken aback at the alien device before her.
"Let's move, kiddies!" O'Neill barked, hustling toward the Gate. He raced up the steps and paused right by the edge of the "water," waving the other through. Daniel went first, followed by Carter, with Jacob by her side. Teal'c and Bra'tac followed. Despite the onrushing shockwave, Harm and Mac paused to stare at the Gate, Mac reaching out a hand to touch the strange energy. Without a strength that belied her size, Fraiser rushed the two of them and shoved them through the Gate, moving right with them. Taking a last look back at the wave of fire that was smashing through the trees, O'Neill stepped through.
The explosive shockwave had just reached the dialing device when the Gate shut off for the last time before it was smashed to pieces by the onrushing wall of flame.
The sensation Harm and Mac had upon hitting the Gate was the biggest, wildest, brightest roller coaster either had ever been on. They had barely gotten used to it when suddenly the Gate spat them out and onto the ramp of the SGC. They were barely aware of the others coming out of the Gate and simply focused on getting their breath back. They soon became aware of some things: The platoon of soldiers aiming rifles at them, the sound of klaxons ringing in the room and the light of the Gate behind them that suddenly shut off.
"Carter," they heard O'Neill say in a tired voice.
"I'm a little beat, so can you take my 'use enough dynamite there' line?"
"Oh. WOW!" Mac gasped. "What a rush!" She stood up, Harm helping her to her feet as he rose with her.
"Everyone says that," O'Neill commented, taking off his cap and scratching his head. "It's like they're coming off a roller coaster for the first time. I don't get it."
"Well, at least they're holding their lunch in, which is more than most people get to do."
Carter groaned. "Thanks for the reminder, Daniel."
"Shit," Harm said, also thrown for a loop. "I thought my first time pulling 3 G's was something but that..."
"That is without a doubt the wildest ride I have ever taken," Mac said with a grin.
Harm threw her a look. "What about last week?"
Mac thought about it, then nodded. "Okay, but this is a close second."
"Colonel." The group looked up to see Hammond approaching from the bottom of the ramp. He let his gaze go the armor-clad Harm and Mac, then back at O'Neill. "I assume your trip was successful?"
"Oh, the usual, sir."
"How much did you blow up?"
"Actually, that was Jacob, sir," O'Neill said, hiking a thumb toward the elder Carter, who gave a quick wave at Hammond. Bra'tac pushed to the front of the group and bowed his head. "Hammond of Texas. It is good to see you again."
Hammond nodded back, then finally fixed his gaze onto Harm and Mac. "Commander, Colonel. Are you------"
"Not now, sir," a tired Harm said. "Please, just not now."
Hammond narrowed his eyes. "Commander, I am your superior officer so you might want to show a bit more-----"
"General," Harm interrupted. "With all due respect, sir. In the last day we have been, in no particular order, examined, imprisoned, insulted, hypnotized, dragged through an intergalactic portal, imprisoned AGAIN, hypnotized AGAIN, stripped, dressed in some stupid outfits out of a Penthouse video, infected with aliens and you can better believe THAT wasn't pleasant, spat out said aliens, we've each been killed, we've had to wear this stupid armor, got into several running firefights, teleported multiple times and barely got off an alien planet before a massive explosion so we are not exactly in the most respectful mood."
A long silence filled the room as Hammond stared at him, then at Mac. Seeing the looks on their faces, Hammond craned his head toward O'Neill and did an eyebrow raise Teal'c would have been proud of. "Colonel...I'm awaiting your briefing with anticipation."
Fraiser had broken away from the group and was marching down the ramp. "If you'll excuse me, sir, I have to get ready for their exams------"
"After yours, Doctor."
Fraiser stopped and turned toward Hammond. "What?" she demanded, forgetting her place.
The flash of anger in Hammond's eyes let Fraiser know she had gone over the line a bit. "All personnel must be examined after returning to Earth, Doctor, no exceptions. Those were your guidelines, remember?"
"So, who's the lucky nurse who gets to stick the doc?"
Shooting O'Neill an ugly look, Fraiser made the supreme effort of not exploding in anger, one fist clenched so hard, her knuckles turned white. Finally calming herself, she spoke to Hammond. "General," she said carefully. "I am formally requesting that I be able to put myself on leave for a week."
"Noted and under consideration, Doctor."
Fraiser turned toward O'Neill. "Colonel," she said in a low tone. "I'm going back to my lab where it's nice and safe and quiet from the lunacy you people get up to. I am giving notice that I have no intention of going on another mission with you anytime soon."
"You know, Doc, we are scheduled next week for PX475-----"
Fraiser was already moving away, a finger pointed over her shoulder and at O'Neill. "Don't! Even! START!"
The group watched her march out before anyone could comment. "She really needs to cut down to one cup a day," Mac finally said.
Home of Admiral A.J. Chegwidden
Falls Church, VA
June 3rd, 1999 - 0302 Hours EST
The phone ringing cut through the haze of light sleep A.J. Chegwidden was trying to get through. He was awake almost instantly and reaching for the phone. "Hello?" he barked into it.
"Admiral," Harm's voice came on. "Sir, I apologize for calling you at home but-----"
"Commander, what in the hell has been going on there?!" Chegwidden demanded. "I have been calling that base every half hour all day for you and Colonel MacKenzie and have gotten the runaround! Just what is going on?"
"Well, sir, it's complicated and unfortunately, a lot of it has to do with sensitive material."
Chegwidden gripped the phone hard. "Commander, are you refusing to answer me?"
"I would if I could, sir, but there are extenuating circumstances," Harm answered. "You'll have a full report faxed to you at the office by 0700. Well, what we can report of course."
"Sorry, sir, I have to have an examination done. I'll report back soon." The phone clicked off and Chegwidden stared at it for a moment before slamming it down. "Those two are going to end up killing me," he muttered as he got ready to go back to bed.
0105 Hours CMT
Harm hung up the phone and turned to face O'Neill. "So, how'd your boss take it?" O'Neill asked.
"About as expected," Harm shrugged.
"Yelled your ear off?"
"You get used to it."
The two men paced through the hallways of the SGC, heading toward the briefing room. Harm had changed into a pair of fatigues that was quite the relief after wearing that heavy armor. He brushed at his hair, still a little wet from the shower he'd taken.
"Well, for a guy who got infected, killed and had a giant laceration across his face, you look good," O'Neill said.
"It's a gift," Harm shrugged.
"Uh huh," O'Neill smirked. "Better have a better explanation than that when the General asks, buddy."
"I'm working on it," Harm told him. Trying to change the subject, he asked "So, who bankrolls you guys, anyway?"
"We're military," O'Neill answered him. "We have the special stamp of approval from the President himself. Plus, we sort of...finance ourselves on some otherworldly materials."
"So, the CIA is not involved?"
O'Neill scoffed. "Please. We're going to turn to a bunch of assholes who can't even tie their own shoelaces without forms in triplicate."
"Good to hear."
"Bad Company experiences?"
"Now and again."
"Got any guys you'd like to send through that thing?"
Harm chuckled. "Nah, I don't think Webb deserves..." He trailed off and frowned. "Wait, what am I saying?"
O'Neill couldn't help laughing. Despite himself, he was starting to warm up to this guy a little. "You know, I do sort of wish we could have dragged Snake Breath with us."
"Why?" Harm asked in disbelief.
"You could try him for a couple thousand years worth of war crimes," O'Neill answered. "Come on, that'd look good on the promotion sheet."
Harm snorted. "With my luck, Mac and I would be picked to defend him."
O'Neill paused in a quiet section of the hallway and took a quick look around. Seeing no one close, he turned back to Harm. "Listen. I'm guessing you and her are...?"
Harm made the same check around the halls before nodding. "Yeah."
O'Neill nodded. "You know, the brass frowns on that stuff."
Harm raised an eyebrow. "Like they would on you and Carter?"
"Point," O'Neill nodded. "Listen, I'm willing to leave that part out of my report if you decide not to...well....mention me and Sam."
"Deal," Harm said. He and O'Neill started walking again. "So, just how...serious is it?"
For once, O'Neill seemed a little unsure. "We're still figuring that out, to tell the truth. But, for now, it's going good." He shot a smirk at Harm. "Blondes really are more fun, you know."
"Maybe," Harm shot back. "But at least my girlfriend has a chest."
"Okay, now you're hitting below the belt------"
"I'll tell you, O'Neill, you have not lived until you've seen Mac in a bikini." Harm beamed. "Course, seeing her out of it..."
O'Neill sniffed, then frowned. "We're not acting too frat house, are we?"
"Well, we are military."
"Good point. Okay, back to the subject." He crossed his arms and looked at Harm. "Believe me, Carter's got a lot more physically than you might think."
Harm smirked right back. "No offense, O'Neill, but you've got an Air Force scientist. I've got a Marine. 'Physical' takes on a whole new level with Mac."
"Hey, hey, hey, don't try to match me there," O'Neill said, good-naturedly pointing a finger at Harm. "Me and Sam have empowerments from a God, remember."
"Maybe," Harm allowed. He then threw a wicked grin toward O'Neill. "But me and Mac are Immortal. Which means that the limit of ability the human body can go through...we blow right past."
O'Neill rolled his eyes and threw up his hands. "I give up," he said. He looked back at Harm. "Well, hopefully you won't have her pulling rank on you or anything."
"Hey, we're above that," Harm told him. "I love her and I'm proud of her and she feels the same. Come on, you don't pull rank on Carter, do you?"
"Like it'd do any good," O'Neill muttered.
"Aren't you the team leader? The guy in charge?"
"Ever have command of a group, Rabb?"
"When you do, you'll find out something," O'Neill sighed. "Being the leader doesn't mean you're in charge."
"Isn't that an oxymoron?"
"No, it's the military. That makes it plain language."
"So, looks like you have a clean bill of health," Fraiser said as she checked over the scans on Mac. "Not that it should be surprising." She was more than grateful to be back in her normal lab coat and dress, checking over patients like nothing had happened. She had calmed down a bit since coming back through the Gate and was back in her professional demeanor.
She turned to face Mac and Carter, both of whom had been just checked out by the doctor. Both were dressed in fatigues, Mac seeming as happy as Fraiser to get out of her old outfit.
"I still can't believe you do that," Carter said, staring at the spot she had seen a needle slide into Mac's arm. Not even a dot was left to indicate anything had happened.
"Well, it's not like I actually *do* anything," Mac replied with a shrug, stepping off the examination table. "It just...happens. It's amazing how fast you can get used to it."
"No offense, but I'll pass," Carter said. She sat back on her table, sighing. "It's not like I don't have enough weird things on my plate already."
"Let's not get into your love life," Mac jibed.
Carter shot her a glare but did have a slight smile on her face. "Ah, Jack's not too bad. The empowered deal works out pretty well and we can handle it in the field."
Mac raised an eyebrow. "No problems with his attitude?"
Carter sighed. "Well, sometimes." At Mac's look, she threw up her hands. "Okay, he pisses me off a lot but that's just Jack, you know?" She sighed again. "God, men can be so infuriating. Like when..."
"When they're awake?"
"Exactly!" Carter yelled.
Fraiser smiled. "I'll take your word for it." The smile faded as she let out a slow sigh. "I'm so busy with the base and raising a daughter, I haven't had time for a social life lately."
"Never tried to pick up a guy on a trip?" Mac teased.
Fraiser rolled her eyes. "Oh, right, I want to date an alien. Like *that* could ever work for anyone."
Mac and Carter both chuckled. Mac looked at the other two women and waved a hand. "We're the perfect balance, aren't we? Blonde, brunette, redhead."
"Well, we have more fun," Carter grinned.
"But we get the hunks," Mac shot back.
"Whereas we..." Fraiser began, a twinkle in her eye. "Can leave either of you in the dust by going more wild than either of you can dream."
"Doctor Fraiser?" the three women turned to see the man who had just entered. He was a tall man, not exactly muscular but in good shape, filling out his uniform nicely. He had his dark hair cut quite short, his blue eyes carrying a dash of humor to them. "I'm sorry," he said in a deep voice. "I was wondering if you needed help with anything."
"Not at the moment, Lieutenant, thank you," Fraiser nodded. Nodding back, the man exited with all three ladies watching him leave.
"Nice ass," Mac said with a smile.
"Leave it to the Marine to have no tact," Carter smiled.
"Oh, like you weren't thinking it!" Mac shot back.
Carter turned toward Fraiser. "Janet, who was that, I don't think I've seen him around."
"Lt. Greg Hendricks," Fraiser told her. "He was just transferred here. He's been helping out at the lab."
"I hope you gave him a better check-up than that guy who kidnaped us," Mac sourly noted.
Fraiser groaned. "God, I'm going to be hearing about that one for weeks, aren't I?"
Carter nodded with light sympathy. "Yep, pretty much."
Mac looked at the direction Hendricks had gone to and then back to Janet. "Not a bad guy, I'd have to say. If not for Harm, I'd be tempted."
"Well, that is one benefit I have to this job," Fraiser said with a little smile. "Unlike you two, who can only wonder what a guy like that might look like debriefed...I can see it for myself." Her smile widening, she moved off toward the other side of the lab.
Carter and Mac stared at her for a long moment. They then stared at each other for a longer one. "Is she serious?" Mac asked.
Carter shrugged. "Don't ask."
Hammond sat in his chair, silently absorbing the report he'd just heard. Before him, SG- 1, Bra'tac, Jacob, Fraiser, Harm and Mac were all seated around the conference table, waiting to hear the general's reaction to their tale. Jacob was also hearing the explanation from Sam as to how she was able to perform such fighting moves as she'd shown against the Jaffa.
"An empowerment?" Jacob said.
"Yes," Carter nodded.
"From an actual God?"
"That's right, Dad."
"Said actual God being on of the Norse pantheon?" Mac asked.
"You've got it."
"And who is also the God of Justice for the world that's the basis for Dungeons & Dragons?" Harm pressed.
Jacob, Harm and Mac looked at her, then slowly turned toward the other members of SG-1 who gave nods of assent. They turned toward Fraiser, who had her chin propped up on her fist and who just gave a tired sigh. "Oh, don't look at me, I think they're all insane."
"And it sounds like you've joined the club," Mac noted.
"Don't remind me."
"So," Hammond finally said. "You destroyed the base?"
"Yep," O'Neill replied with a vehement nod. "Blown to bits, nothing but air, Snake Breath's finally out of our hair for good."
"You really think he was killed?" Daniel asked.
"Nah," O'Neill answered. "I'm sure he had plenty of time to get to an escape ship just before the pyramid went up. But allow me a moment of illusion."
"And so goes the front runner for the first alien production of 'Phantom of the Opera,'" Harm remarked.
"Well, at least you can tell he's male," O'Neill said. "I'm still trying to figure out if Ra was really a guy or not, it was hard to tell with him. Her. Whatever."
Hammond shot a glance at O'Neill before looking back at Harm and Mac. "Commander, Colonel," he began, his hands held on the desk. "I hope you understand that your...conditions aren't exactly something we see every day. Not even here."
"We know that, sir," Harm said. "Although there are more of us out there than you can guess."
"How many?" Daniel asked.
Harm and Mac exchanged a glance. "We'd...sort of like to keep that confidential," Mac said. "Not just for ourselves, sir, but for the safety of others. Which is why we'd appreciate it if you didn't order us to go around the base and see if we can feel any other Immortals here."
"I doubt there are any," Fraiser told them. "I definitely would have known if I had seen anything like your genetic makeups before so I guess we're an Immortal-free zone."
"Be that as it may," Mac continued. "We'd prefer not having to 'out' any others or give out that much information."
"And on that subject," Harm chimed in. "I'm sure you can appreciate how big a deal this is for us, General so...well...we'd sort of appreciate it if you could..."
"Don't worry, Commander," Hammond broke in. "I assure you that all records pertaining to the two of you will be purged from our databases or at least kept under tight confidential barriers." His eyes gazed around the table as he smiled. "Trust me, if there's at least one thing the people in this room can do well, it's keep a secret."
"Was that a slam?" O'Neill muttered to Carter, the major just shrugging.
"Well, we more than appreciate that gesture, sir," Mac told Hammond. "As for the reason we were here in the first place..." She let her eyes drag over O'Neill, Carter and Daniel, keeping them in suspense for a moment before elaborating. "As soon as we get back to Virginia, Commander Rabb and I will be filing an immediate motion for dismissal on all charges based on our own observations of the over stressed conditions your people endure, combined with a...classified influencing factor."
"I think if we play it right, we can also placate the men who filed the charges in the first place," Harm added. "We can have this swept under the rug nice and fast."
"Wow," O'Neill said, turning toward Carter. "If I'd known putting them through the Gate would be enough to get us off the hook, I'd have done it when they first showed up."
"Watch it, O'Neill," Harm said. Even though he was pointing a finger at the Air Force operative, he was smiling. "I'm pretty sure you're going to be needing legal representation at some point during your career and you'd do well to know someone willing to defend you."
O'Neill paused, crossing his arms as he looked at Harm. "You know, if I'm not careful, I might actually get to like you," he finally said.
Harm looked to Mac. "While we're at it, maybe we should recommend Hammond get the Medal of Honor for putting up with this bunch."
"So noted," Mac said.
Fraiser coughed as she started to rise from her seat. "Sir, if you're finished here, I still have to do a final check for Commander Rabb and Lt. Colonel MacKenzie before we send them off. Permission to take them down to medical?"
"Granted, Doctor," Hammond said. "And I'll be expecting your report later on as well."
"Yes, sir," Fraiser nodded as she stood up, Harm and Mac with her. "Oh, General," Harm said. "I hope the Admiral didn't give you too much of a hard time wanting to know about our whereabouts. He can be a bit...bombastic sometimes."
"No, I handled it rather well," Hammond said.
"Good to know, sir, thank you." With a final nod, Harm and Mac let Fraiser lead them out. As soon as they were gone, O'Neill looked toward Hammond.
"Sir," he began. "I'm assuming you didn't tell them that their commanding officer already knows about the Stargate and probably has a good idea why they've done such a 180 on having us brought up on charges?"
"I decided that information fell into the 'need to know' category," Hammond answered without missing a beat.
Bra'tac raised an eyebrow as he leaned in toward Jacob. "I believe O'Neill is becoming a greater influence on Hammond of Texas by the day," he stated.
"Which is why we're here," Jacob shot back. "Someone has to try and keep him grounded."
O'Neill sighed as he leaned back in his chair. "You know what I liked about this mission? There was no big moral ambiguity here. There was no big ethical debate on whether or not it was right to effect a civilization, no questions on our methods, no big 'do we or do we not stick our necks in' problem. We just got to go in, shoot a bunch of Goa'uld, blow up some stuff and get right out, nice and easy."
"The military axiom at work," Daniel dryly noted.
"Hey, sometimes, I can sympathize with Kirk on those Prime Directive things."
Hammond coughed to get everyone's attention. "You're all dismissed for now."
"Already, sir?" Carter frowned.
"Major, when we start bringing in science fiction television, it's time to end the meeting."
"We get out early, nice going, Jack."
"Shutting up, sir."
"So, more tests?" Mac asked as she, Harm and Fraiser entered the lab.
"Actually, no," Fraiser admitted, turning toward them. She motioned them to take a seat at the examination table. They did, a little confused as to what this was about. Turning toward them, Fraiser gave the two officers a look of sympathy. "I was just wondering how you two are holding up," she began.
"Fine," Mac said. "No ill effects or anything like that."
"That's not what I meant," Fraiser stressed. She folded her arms before her and took a breath. "How are you two dealing with...all this?" She waved a hand around to indicate the entire SGC.
Harm and Mac exchanged a serious look, both falling silent. "It's...difficult," Harm allowed. "We...well, we still have residual memories of those...things. It's not a lot, it doesn't intrude into our every thought but...They're still there."
Fraiser nodded. "Carter told me she had pretty much the same aftereffect from Jolinar. She had her inside for far longer than you two did, however so hopefully it won't be too bad in the future."
"Hopefully," Mac quietly agreed. "Still...It's a lot to take in. I mean, I consider myself a somewhat open-minded person but being forced, in the space of less than twenty-four hours, to find out that not only do aliens exist but to actually have on in me..."
"It's not just you, Sarah," Harm gently told her, a hand on her shoulder. "I feel the same way, trust me. Getting into a firefight on another planet is not what I had in mind for the day's activities." He stopped and grinned. "Well, getting to fly an alien ship wasn't too bad..."
"Speak for yourself," Mac and Fraiser told him. With a little chuckle, Fraiser turned and walked to a nearby table. She reached over some sheets of paper and pulled out a flat plastic card.
Turning back to Harm and Mac, Fraiser walked back and handed the plastic card to Harm. "Here."
Harm looked at the card with utter confusion, then back at Fraiser. "What...?"
"A friend of mine in town owed me a favor," the doctor explained. "So, after calling it in and a little pleading, I got you two a room at the best hotel near the airport." Harm and Mac looked at each other in surprise. "Full suite, room service, the works."
"What----" Mac started.
"You two need time to absorb all of this, to let it sink in before you go right back to your usual lives. Trust me, you get used to the idea of aliens a lot faster than you might think. I thought I'd give you a head start on letting that happen." A smile came to the redhead's face. Plus, I figure you two could use a little TLC after all you've been through."
"But..." Harm said. "We've got our job to get back to-----"
"Oh, that's taken care of," Fraiser informed her. "Nice thing about being CMO. I can dictate who's fit to return to duty and who needs leave immediately and most people can't challenge it. And it is my serious recommendation to your superior that you two receive at least two days' leave immediately."
"Sorry. You two are doing this." Fraiser's grin widened. "Doctor's orders."
There was a short silence.
"Well, if it's an order..." Mac started.
"And if it's for our own good health..." Harm added.
"Best to get going," Fraiser cut in.
"Yes, Ma'am!" the two said, hopping off and saluting Fraiser. They then turned and, with just a little bit of extra speed, headed out. Fraiser watched them go and shook her head. "Now *that* made the trip worthwhile," she muttered to herself.
"So," Mac said as she and Harm made their way toward the elevator. "What's your take on these guys?"
"As much as I hate to admit it, I'm impressed," her partner told her. "Name one other group on this planet that goes through alien attacks, fights against other-worldly creatures and gods, have saved the world at least a dozen times, have switched bodies with one another and even traveled to another reality."
"So, you want to come back?"
"Oh, no," Harm said, shaking his head with vigor. "No, no, no, not now, not ever. I never want to see these people again, I don't want to come here again, I want nothing more than to just go home and forget everything about this miserable trip. I never want to think about it again, I never want to have it mentioned again, nothing good came out of it."
"I kept the outfit I was in."
Harm stopped and looked at her, a smile coming onto his face. "I love you." With a laugh, the two headed off to move on with their lives.
Fraiser sighed as she put down the pen. Finally, her report was done and she was more than ready to close this whole thing down. She was tempted to put herself on medical leave for a while but suspected Hammond might have something to say about that.
She sat up, groaning slightly as she felt the cracks along her back and her tired muscles. Rising, she backed up her chair, turned around and came face to face with a man who had appeared out of nowhere. She naturally screamed at the sudden intrusion.
"Nice," the man said. He placed his little finger into one ear and wiggled it. "A little flat, though, I recommend a high C next time."
"How----how did you get in here?" Fraiser demanded. She stepped back, allowing a good look at the intruder. She knew immediately he wasn't a Goa'uld. They had much better dress sense. The wild multi-colored suit with Panama hat and unbelievably garish tie was the most horrible ensemble she'd ever laid eyes upon. It somehow seemed to fit the man with the giant grin on his face, his sharp goatee seeming to glow a bit under the lights, as did the shock of gray above his forehead. He leaned on a bright cane with a curved handle covered in runes, his hands in orange gloves and a long scarf wrapped around his neck. His eyes glinted behind a pair of glasses as he took in the startled doctor.
"Not many places that can keep me out," the man answered in a jovial tone. "As much as they'd like to."
"Who in the hell are you?" Fraiser demanded, trying to move toward the nearest alarm. She had her eyes right on the man, who was standing perfectly still, watching her. So she was more than a little confused when she turned toward the alarm and suddenly found him leaning right in front of it.
"Just a guy wanting a friendly little chat," the man answered. "I just wanted to drop by quick and say thanks, Doc, I knew you'd come through."
Fraiser stared at him in utter confusion. "Excuse me?"
The man draped an arm around her shoulder and pulled her toward the center of the room. "Well, I didn't know if simply making sure those two got assigned to handle this was going to be enough so I...pushed your little scanners a bit to make sure they got the Immortality discovered."
Fraiser was having a hard time taking this in. "Wait a minute, wait a minute, you...You arranged all this? The kidnapping, the------"
"No, no, not that part," the man told her. "That was a bit of a surprise. But I was hoping something would happen that could open up their minds to the universe. I needed that to happen."
"Ah, not really your problem," the man said, letting go of Fraiser and moving toward the exit. He paused and looked back at her, that odd smile on his lips. "Oh, and thanks for that little gift you just gave them, they really needed that. You handled yourself pretty well, Doc. Wouldn't be surprised if ole Tyr made you an offer pretty soon."
"Um....thanks." Fraiser really didn't know what to say. The man held up his cane and tipped the handle toward her in a little salute. Twirling the cane in his hands, he threw the scarf around his neck and walked off singing.
"Did you ever get the feeling that you wanted to go but you still had the feeling that you wanted to stay..." With a flash of light and smoke, the man vanished, leaving Fraiser all alone. She remained standing for several minutes before deciding what to do next. *It's time for the physician to heal thyself* she thought as she turned toward her desk. *And I've got a pint of bourbon at home that's the best medicine right now.* Sighing, she started to pack up her things and was already imagining herself at home, a small glass in one hand and thoughts of a certain lieutenant in her mind.