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Free Spirits

first strike

Summary: Hades makes the first move, but will it be his last? And there is unwelcome attention for the Daniels.
Thanks to Joy for the beta.

"We didn't think of this. I didn't think of this. Of course, it makes perfect sense. Hades isn't going to go to Abydos... yet. He's going to take back all the planets once ruled by Goa'uld who pretended to be the Greek or related gods. What the hell are we going to do? Why has he gone to the Land of Light?"

Daniel's pacing up and down as he says what's on his mind. But I should have realised what was going to happen.

"Naquada," I say. "It's our fault. My fault!"

They look at me in shock.

"What do you mean?" Jack demands.

"Because we took his supplies. He needs to go and get some more! Oh God, if only I'd left that last lot..." The magnitude of my error hits me.

Daniel puts his hands on my shoulders and shakes me until I look at him.

"Sam, he might have planned this all along. We took our eyes off the ball. All of us did. We didn't think that he would go there. I had us looking at Abydos, at Earth... I didn't even consider the Land of Light as a target."

"Have you all finished with the self-blame?" Jack demands. "That's not going to help anyone, is it?"

We agree with him. He's right. It's not helping.

"What are we going to do, Jack?"

He shrugs. "We do what we always do," he says with a grin. "We go beat the bad guys."


I wish I had Jack's confidence. If we've got three ships to face, however, it might not be as easy as it at first appears. If we show our hand now, if the SGC sends its ships to help, Hades might wait until he's gotten a massive fleet before he attacks Earth. Unless we can hide the planet until he disappears, even with our advanced ships, we would have difficulty in fighting back. I don't like this at all.

Of course, it could be a diversion. This whole Land of Light thing might not be the real attack. The Tauri ships have to stay at home.

God, I hate this. My mind is rushing about, trying to work out the various possibilities and it's giving me a headache.

Memnon's information was that Hades had come by ship. Or at the very least, Hades' people had come by ship, not by gate. We wondered why, but it's probably because of the darkness or the fact that he wants to look strong. He doesn't have to use the gate. He's got ships to spare.

We're just waiting for Jack and John to return to Annwn before we go there. They've gone to the SGC to inform Hammond about what's happening. After all, there are some engineers and miners there, working the naquada mines. I hope they were either able to hide or are just being forced to work there. If not, they could all be dead. Jack's suggestion was that we launch some sort of co-ordinated attack.

I've calculated that it will only take us about twenty minutes to fly to the Land of Light, so we're going to go there, assess the situation, then inform the SGC of the situation. If the gate hasn't been taken, they can send a force through it while we attack from space. At least that's the tentative plan. We all know that's subject to change at any moment.

It's not easy calming Memnon down. His people are not used to fighting. He's one of the guards, but even he knows they're only honour guards and wouldn't stand a chance against even a small force of Jaffa, let alone hundreds of them. All we can do is assure him that we will do everything in our power to save his people. We cannot promise that we will save them all. I wish we could.

"They're back!"

Frankie's voice gets my attention. She's been watching the alarm like a hawk and calls out the moment they appear. Thank God. Now we can go and find out what's happening.

We're all in SGC uniform. Without the patches, but somehow wearing the green BDUs seemed appropriate, especially if we're going into a ground battle, and the chances are, we will be doing just that.

Hey ho, it's how it goes, I guess. Daniel's kicking himself for not thinking beyond Abydos and Earth, but hell, even he can't think of everything. Sam's just as bad. She's scolding herself for 'being greedy', when we all know that she was just attacking Hades where it seems to hurt him most. The pocket.

To try to calm Memnon, DJ's been trying to convince him that Hades is most likely to be sending his people to the mines. Not that that's a pleasant thought, especially for a people who are not used to doing that, but at least if they are, they should all be alive when we get there. They'll be sore, hungry, and probably confused and afraid, but they'll be alive. We hope.

Let's not go there, shall we?

It's Teal'c and Kar Shel I'm most worried about. When John and I were on Earth, they dialled up to Bratac and discovered that Rya'c was with him, which was a relief. However, Draya'uc had gone back there after getting her new symbiote. If the Jaffa find her...

Nope. Don't want to go there, either.

Gimli is stocked to the ceiling with everything we can think of, including Mia. We have no idea what we're going to need to use, so we've got the Tok'ra C4, P90s, staff weapons, knives and bows and arrows.

Sam hasn't finished building the Hammer yet, but she and Frankie are in the engine room trying to put any loose bits and pieces away so that we don't have any problems in battle. Assuming we'll be in battle, of course. Dammit. I'd prefer to be told I was about to have to fight for my life in a gladiatorial ring, somehow. At least then I'd know what I was up against.

Hades is untested, untried. We don't know his tactics. We don't know if his Jaffa have been trained. The only ones we came up against were the ones in the Underworld and while they weren't necessarily difficult to defeat, they might not have been typical. We can only hope that centuries away from the mainstream has blunted their tactical abilities.

George is going to wait until he hears from us on the subspace communicator before acting. We're going to go, check out what's going on, and if we can wait for him to send a couple of ships, we might do that. Although he's not happy about sending them, as it could be as Sam says, that the attack on the Land of Light is a diversionary tactic. We know Hades is planning to attack Earth at some point.

The main plan is that he's organising a whole load of troops to attack through the gate. A double-fronted attack would be a good option. They'll all be assembled in one place anyway, waiting the word. If sending the ships seems like a better idea, then they can be transported up to them and brought here like that.

He's particularly worried about the miners sent from Earth to get the naquada. They're not soldiers. Sure, there are a couple of soldiers with them, but the Land of Light was not deemed a danger, seeing as they're among our closest allies and hadn't seen a Goa'uld in who knows how long.

Hades might decide to make an example of them, or use them as a bargaining chip. We just don't fucking know.

Okay, calm down, O'Neill. Not knowing what's going on is something that happens a lot. You should be used to it by now.

I think Daniel needs a hug. Yeah. I'll go hug him. If it makes me feel better too, then that's just a bonus, isn't it?


"There they are."

Frankie's voice breaks the silence and we all move to her side. We see what she sees. Three ha'taks and a system full of gliders. They don't look like they're going to be re-entering the mother ships anytime soon, either, which causes us a problem.

Sure, we could probably take out the first one or two ha'taks without our location being spotted, but even we will probably lose the advantage of our cloak by the time we attack the third. With about six hundred gliders in the system, they'd stand a pretty good chance of hitting us without us being able to take all of them out.

If so much as one glider pilot gets word back to Hades, we could be in big trouble. At least we've discovered that there aren't thousands of Jaffa on the planet, just about a hundred in total. The majority seem to be in the gliders and the ships. That'll make fighting on the planet a little easier.

"We have to hide out," John sighs.

"Yeah. But how the fuck are we going to win this one?"

They all look at me and shrug.

I need to get to the planet. Draya'uc is there. I must find her. There is no point in scanning for her with the aim of transporting her straight up, as the scanners are showing many Jaffa on the planet. If I am wrong, I could transport an armed man, rather than 'just' a very dangerous woman. Kar Shel is feeling the same way as I am and O'Neill has noticed it.

"Don't worry, we'll find her," he states.

I am not sure that I believe him.

"Hey guys," Daniel calls. "Look here. On the scans."

I look at where he is pointing and see a sole Jaffa in the dark forest.

"Could that be Draya'uc?" he asks.

"It is likely that she would hide herself," I agree. "She would not wish the Jaffa to find her, both to protect herself, but also because hiding a shol'va would bring retribution to the people of this world. She will die rather than allow that. I know that she has grown most fond of these people and is exceedingly grateful for their hospitality."

"Then let's get her," O'Neill says. "Beam her up, Danny."

Daniel kicks him.

"We should go to her," I state. "In case it is one of Hades' Jaffa who is searching for those who might be hiding. It is not that unusual for individual Jaffa to enter places of danger, partly as an initiation to the higher ranks, but also because if there is a trap, there will be only one casualty."

"Nice," O'Neill says, not meaning it.

"I shall transport to the position of the signal and discover the source."

"Not on your own," O'Neill orders. "Nobody goes anywhere on their own."

"I shall accompany you," Kar Shel states. "If it is Draya'uc, I should like to see with my own eyes that she is safe. If it is one of Hades' Jaffa, then it would be better for the two of us to be there."

"Indeed. I would appreciate your company. Let us retrieve our staff weapons."

There are no objections from our teammates, so we go. I know that they would come with us if we so required them. However, they are needed on the ship to determine our next course of action.


The forest is no less dark than it ever is. We have transported to thirty feet from the signal. Normally, that would be nothing, but here, it is impossible to see that far. Fortunately, we have excellent vision. Unfortunately, our opponent (or my first wife, if it is she) will also have excellent vision. However, we also have the night vision glasses.

I still cannot see anyone except for Kar Shel, and he, possibly because he is not a biological being, is not as clear as one of my own teammates would be. Perhaps he has better insulation than we have.

"Where was the signal?" I whisper.

"Over there. We should be quiet."

I agree - quietly - and we make our way to the position.

"Look, Jack. The mines. There are way more humans there than have been sent from Earth. We need to get down there and check out what's going on."

"Why don't we just beam them all up?" he asks.

"Uh... Because they'll know we're here?" I try.

He shrugs.

"Yeah, you're right. We can't do the beam up thingy until we have everyone we need on board."

"Not to mention the whole idea is to get rid of Hades' people and not to remove the natives. We need to make this place safe and scare off Hades."

"What, by making this a haunted planet?" he asks.

"Sounds good to me."

I see the first smile on his face for hours. Maybe we'll be able to do something with this after all.


Sam and Frankie are still on board Gimli, keeping in contact with our wandering Jaffa as well as us and co-ordinating our actions. After getting our idea, the rest of us collected up some things - Jack's 'box of tricks' - and we transported deep into the mine where there were no life-signs. Our first trick is to find out exactly what's going on down here. Our second trick is to do something about it.

We're communicating with our android brothers through the girls. As they're on the ship, they can speak out loud whereas we need to remain silent. It's nearly pitch-black down here, so like Teal'c and Kar Shel, we're wearing night-vision goggles to see where we're going.

Can you hear that? Jack's voice breaks my thoughts.

Yeah. Sounds like digging.

Wonder how far away they are?

Can't be too close, I can't feel any emotions yet.

Do you have to see people to feel them?

No, but I seem to need to be close by. Don't forget, our hearing has been sharpened. We can hear further than we used to.

True. Wish I knew what my range was. It's not as good as that cop guy on the TV, is it?

I have to stop myself from laughing out loud at that.

No, Jack, it's not. Just about, oh, at a guess, ten percent better than normal. Probably as good as Teal'c's hearing.

Same with our eyesight?

Probably. Don't know if you've noticed, but the glasses we're using seem to be even more effective than before.

Considering there's precious little light here, they're very clear. Okay, I think we're getting close. Can you feel anything now?

I stop and let my mind calm before letting down my barriers. I've been sending out mental 'feelers' since we got here, because feeling someone's emotions before I meet them will give me a clue as to who it is we're about to meet. Up till now, I haven't found anything.

Having said that, now I'm feeling numerous emotions. Some are particularly strong. Fear, anger - fuelled by fear, sorrow, pain... I guess they're all from the humans. Then there's something which stops me dead in my tracks. Evil. Pure, unadulterated evil. I let Jack know, let Sam know too so that the other guys will find out my thoughts. I'm feeling sick.

Block it out, Daniel, Jack's order comes.

His voice gives me something to concentrate on while I rebuild my barrier and the wave of nausea goes.

Thanks, Jack. I didn't realise how much this would affect me.

Just take it easy, he soothes. Even I can feel a bit of what you're feeling. Then he has one of his throwaway thoughts. I think you must have gotten more of those bio-nano-whatsits.

What makes you say that?

I know you were more empathic than the rest of us before we got hit with this, but even that doesn't explain how different your talent is.

Talent? Is that what you call it?

If you can use it to help us, then sure.

Oh. Okay, I guess. And you're probably right.

I think back to when I landed in the mud. Jack was the one to fall in, but... But he had his jacket on. I'd taken mine off and wrapped it around my waist. My arms were bare.

Yeah, I think I probably did.

I flash him an image of my memory of that moment and get a murmur of agreement from him. I'm going to have to check that out when we get home. If we get home.

Here they are. Heads up.

The order goes out to us all and we stop dead. Hiding behind a corner of the mine wall, we look up into a chamber.

Many of our friends are here, in their native dress which is tattered and torn, chipping away at the walls in search of naquada. There are only men, though. No women or children. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. I wouldn't want the women and children down here, but at least then I'd know where they were.

Sam? Where are all the women and children?

Just a moment, Daniel. I'll let you know as soon as I can.

Women and children? Oh boy, I have no idea. There are two groups of humans; one near the guys, the other on the surface. Perhaps they're there?

There's another group on the surface, Daniel. It could be them. I can't tell anything except that they're human.

Okay, let's hope so. Keep watching them, Sam. Maybe whatever they're doing will give us a clue.

Shall do. Be careful!

Oh, don't worry, we will. Jack and John are currently using their very own version of sign language to co-ordinate some... well, something or other. Get ready to get us out of here as soon as you get the word.

Not going anywhere, sweetie.

I wish I was on the planet, either with Teal'c and Kar Shel or with the guys. However, it's my turn to wait on the ship, I guess.

"Sam, would the Hammer work on Hades' ships?"


"You know, if we were to fire it at them, shouldn't it hit them all at the same time? Gliders included."

"Well, it would hit them all with the one shot, of course. There wouldn't be a huge difference in time between each one getting struck, either, as they're in close formation. Why?"

"Well, I was thinking. If we were to send out a blast wave, it wouldn't be recognised as a weapon blast. Hitting all three at the same time would stop them getting their shields up, too. I don't know what damage it would cause, but if we could get really close before firing, it could at least disrupt them, throw them off their feet... possibly damage their engines.

"If we do it when all the guys are back and we're ready to strike, we could use it as the first strike and it might just give us the extra few moments to hit them when they're down."

"Okay, that's a possibility. But it's not ready. We've gotten all the parts on board but I had only just finished building the interface from the engine to the weapon when we had to leave Annwn. It hasn't been fixed yet."

"We've got a bit of time," she states. "I'll head to the engine room and get on with it. I'll keep in touch with you via the comms. Keep them open at all times and we won't have any more delay in passing messages between the guys than we have now."

"Good idea. Good luck."

"Thanks. I think I'm going to need it!"

I watch as she leaves the bridge and then turn my full attention to the scans and keep the comms - and my mind - open. I think that when this mission is over, I'm going to sleep for a week. Somehow, I know it's going to be a long day... or two.

Daniel's managed to get the attention of one of the Minoans forced to work down here. Very carefully, he sneaked away from the others and came around the corner to us. Daniel has assured him that Memnon's message had gotten through to us and now we're finding out what's been going on here. Frankly, I don't like what we've heard, either.

The SGC's miners aren't down here. They had hidden initially, then the small military team that had accompanied them had - foolishly - attempted a strike on Hades' forces as the Minoans were being taken down the mine. Alexos, that's the guy Daniel's talking to, doesn't know what's happened to them. However, we think we've found out what's happened to the women and children. They're supposed to be on one of the ships, being held as hostages to make the men work hard. The men have been told that the sooner they make a particular quota, the sooner the hostages will be released.

I've passed that information onto Sam and she's trying to come up with a way to get them away from the ships. She's said something about Frankie coming up with an idea to do with the Hammer, but I didn't let her go into too many details. Sometimes, it's just better to not know these things.

Daniel's urged Alexos to return to the others and to pass on a message from us. We're about to mess a few things up for Hades and his crew.


In my box of tricks, I carry a Tok'ra cutter. Handy things, those. They even cut into naquada-flavoured walls. Neat holes, just the right size to put smoke grenades in far enough down so that they can't be seen by any inquisitive Jaffa. We've put enough in, I think. They're just beyond the area that the people are mining, so hopefully they won't get blamed for our bit of fun. We're going to have to hide when we set them off.

Daniel had suggested that we use the personal cloaks, but after what happened to him, I've nixed that. I'd rather we were more careful to start with. Maybe when the girls get a more stable power source we'll use them again, but until then, no way.

Ready? I call out, via the ladies.

Moments later, I get the thumbs up from all three. We hide deep in the darkness and I press the button on the remote. We wait a little while but then we hear coughing and yelling.

"What is going on, Lord?" one of the Minoans calls, probably to the Jaffa controlling them.

We hear more yells from the Jaffa, but I can't tell if he's telling them to get out or to get back to work.

Daniel? What's he saying?

He's sending them out. Um... They're being sent to get some water to damp down the walls. The Jaffa thinks that the walls are on fire.

Great. That's set them on edge. Now for our next trick.

Yeah, Jack, about that. We need to find out what's going on on the surface, too. And we've got to let Hammond know what's going on.

I know. Okay, I'll call Sam to get us out of here. But before we go...

I signal to them to stay back and head back to the chamber. Good, it's empty. The smoke is thick in parts but it's starting to clear. I'll use it as a cover for the minute. What's that? Jaffa marching - I'd know those boots anywhere. Sweet. One little C4 button here and...





I know what you want to do, Jack, but we can't take the chance. If the naquada goes deep into the crust, it might destroy the planet!

Dammit, he's right. But that wooden prop isn't made of naquada. And if the prop comes down...

Sam, get ready to get us out of here... NOW!


We appear on the bridge and I quickly check the scans. No human life-signs - or signs of human dead bodies - in the mine. Only some Jaffa. Probably been sent down to check out what's going on down there. The charge I used was minuscule, it wasn't designed to make a loud explosion. That'll have brought the wooden ceiling props down and will, at the very least, slow up production. Now we move this up a notch.

"Is there any chatter on the comms?" I ask.

DJ's paying close attention to it.

"Yeah. A message has gone to... that ship," he says, pointing at a specific blip on our screen. "The message back is to make repairs as quickly as possible, or else."

"Is that where the women and children are?" John asks.

Sam shakes her head.

"No, they're on that one," she states. "At least there is a large population of humans on that one. I can only assume that they're the Minoans."

"We can't make any assumptions, Sam," Daniel sighs. "We need to check it out with our own eyes. Don't forget, Hecate's planet had ten billion humans on it. They could be from there."

"But why wouldn't the women and children be there?" I push. "Alexos said they were."

"Said they were supposed to be," he corrects. "And they could well be there. But there's something about Hecate that sets me on edge. How did they have ten billion humans on the twin planets? Even Earth doesn't have anything like that. The only thing that makes sense to me is some sort of breeding programme."

"Breeding programme? What, you mean she wants that many people?"

"Yeah. Imagine, Jack. If you're on a power kick, as we know she is given what she did to Alecto, then one thing you're going to want is a large and dedicated populace. It won't be too hard for her to brainwash these people into accepting that she's one of the ancient goddesses and worth worshipping.

"Besides, she has a mythological reputation for magic - which we can interpret as being good with technology and possibly things like chemicals. Remember the 'Blood of Sokar'? With something like that in your system, you can be rendered very suggestible. Taking the women and children might make sense to her: she might not want to return them later.

"But perhaps the humans on that ship are men from her world, ready to add to the miners on the planet. If the natives turn out to be bad at mining, then she'd want some back-up plan, wouldn't she?"

"That's all guesswork, Daniel. The most logical thing is that she's doing as we think she is. Holding the native women and children hostage on that ship."

"Agreed," he replies. "But unless we go look, we are not going to find out, are we?"

"Show yourself!"

We have been chasing a shadow for many minutes and my patience is running out. At the sound of my voice, the shadow stops dead.

"Teal'c? Is that you?"

"Draya'uc! Come here, woman. We have been tracking you for too long."

We see her come closer.

"I see that you have technology to help you find me," she states, her voice mocking. "I had only my wits to hide me. I think that I was succeeding. If you had not the courage to call for me, I should have stayed in the shadows."

"You did well," Kar Shel tells her. "I... we are most proud of you. Now it is time to take you to our ship. There, you will be safe until we have rid this place of the enemy."

She makes her way to us, speaking as she does.

"I felt the need to hide. I did not wish to endanger my friends."

"You did the right thing," I agree. "Kar Shel is correct, I am proud of you. Now, let us go to the ship."

"Hey, Teal'c, what's going on?"

I hear O'Neill's voice on the communicator.

"We are ready to transport to the ship, O'Neill. We have found Draya'uc."

"That's great. She okay?"

"She is well."

"Good. Glad to hear it. Look, we'll pick her up. Can you guys head closer to the mines and let us know what's going on?"

"We can. We will be in touch as soon as we know anything."

We watch as Draya'uc disappears then turn to head towards the settlement. Perhaps there will be some information there.


We are hiding in some long grass and watching the people near the settlement. There are many Jaffa there but we see no humans. I fear that we will have to go to the mines to discover all of their whereabouts.

O'Neill has telepathically informed me of the second group of humans on the surface, near to the mine entrance. I believe that they could well be processing the naquada, as Hades would not wish to take the ore but the pure metal. Perhaps the Tauri miners are there as it is a technical process. They would be more familiar with the technology and it would be a more appropriate use of resources.

Kar Shel signals to me to move and we make our way towards the mines, which are a few miles away. We are not transporting there as we wish to gather as much visual intelligence as possible. I have been continuously broadcasting what I am seeing to my teammates, and Kar Shel is doing the same to his. They have been discussing their thoughts with us, too.

Like O'Neill, I do not like the idea of transporting to that other ship to discover if the women and children are truly there, but fear that it might become necessary. My other fear is that when the time comes to act, we will find our resources spread thinly, as we have found on many occasions. That is never a good thing.


We must act, and we must act soon. The Tauri are, as thought, on the surface. The engineers are indeed processing the ore.

However, the small military force is in grave danger, if they are even alive. Each man, and one woman, has been stripped naked and they are tied to poles, their hands tied above their heads, their feet attached to the base of the pole, but a few inches above the earth. They are being suspended by their wrists. I can only tell that they are the military team because they all wear dog tags. I have communicated the image to O'Neill and he is furious.

O'Neill, we cannot act without thought, or without backup. There are far too many Jaffa at the settlement.

I know, I know. But we can't leave them like that!

No, we cannot. However, we cannot release them without giving our presence away.

Yeah, well, we've probably done that anyway. Look, I'll call Hammond and get him to send teams through the gate. Our scans say it's now lightly guarded, but they should be able to get through them.

Let Kar Shel and myself return to the gate. We can distract the guard when the team is coming through.

Good idea. Hang on, we'll transport you there when I've spoken to Hammond. In the meantime, look around you and think all the images up to us. The more we know what's happening down there, the better.

I let Kar Shel know what we are about to do and he agrees. Between us, we visually scan the area around the mines and project everything that we can see. The more we see, the more we feel our teammates' distress. These Jaffa have no honour. Daniel's description of 'pure, unadulterated evil' would seem to be appropriate. Even I am sickened by the sights in front of me and I have seen many things that man should not see.

"Yeah, General, it's time to launch an attack."

Jack's talking to the General on subspace comms, telling him what Teal'c and Kar Shel have discovered. Sam's taking care of Draya'uc, giving her something to eat and showing her where she can settle down to rest. The last thing we want is her on the bridge or else she will find out about our telepathy and we still don't wish to spread news of that ability around.

"The Tok'ra have said that there has been some communication with Hades that they were able to track. He is on his way to the Land of Light."

"Shit, that's all we need. Well, we'd better get on with it. You're going to need to send as many as you can through the gate. We think we can take the ships out, but we can't do that until we've checked out the whereabouts of the women and children."

I've had an idea about that, but Jack isn't going to like it, neither is John. But under the circumstances, it's the only way that I can see. Sam and Frankie are needed to finish that weapon. John and Jack, along with Kar Shel and Teal'c, are needed to co-ordinate the attack and to fight if necessary.

That leaves DJ and me to do the sneaking around. The only way I can see that working is if we use the personal cloaks, something that Jack doesn't want us to touch again. Can't say I blame him. I take DJ to one side while Jack is distracted with his conversation and tell him what I think. In Abydonian. Just don't want Jack freaking too soon.

Somehow, I'm not totally reassured when DJ replies that, as ideas go, this one sucks, but that we probably don't have a choice in the matter. So much for a hundred percent backup, eh?

"Daniel, what the fuck are you thinking now?" John demands.

Dammit. Jack's distracted, but John isn't.

"Uh, wait till Jack's finished, okay?" I try.

He doesn't look happy. Somehow, he knows he's not going to like what I say next. Frankly, neither will I.

"Thirty minutes," Jack confirms with Hammond.

So that's it. Thirty minutes from now, we act. Whether we're ready or not.

"John, we need to get all the C4 we can find," he orders. "Then we get down to the settlement and to the mine. Have Teal'c and Kar Shel transported to the gate yet?"

"Not yet."

"Good. Transport them up here. They can take some stuff with them to make the diversion, or take out the guard for good."

"Understood. Perhaps you can find out what Daniel's up to while we do that?"

Shit. Thanks, John. Love you too.

"Daniel," Jack growls. "Out with it."

"Well, we still need to find the women and children, Jack. You and John need to go to the planet, Teal'c and Kar Shel are taking the gate. Sam and Frankie need to stay on Gimli..."

He isn't saying anything out loud, but I can hear him mentally reeling off a huge list of curses and swearwords, doing a mental toddler tantrum stomp, I think. I wait until he's finished and then I know that he agrees with me but doesn't like it any more than I do.

"We'll use the cloaks, but," I add quickly, "we won't rely on them. We'll assume they'll fail, okay? They'll just be on to give us an edge. Sam and Frankie can keep us in touch some of the time. If they can't, we'll find a way to communicate, we always do."

"Be quick. In thirty minutes, we're attacking."

He doesn't add, 'whether we've succeeded in finding the Minoans or not'. He doesn't have to.

"The back-up plan is that should we have to attack without knowing where they are, we'll transport every human off the ships before the first strike. They can be dropped on the planet, away from the action. That way if they're not Minoan, they won't be able to assist the Jaffa. If they are, they'll be out of harm's way."

"Good idea, Jack. We should find out before then, though." I turn to DJ. "Come on, let's get what we need."

He raises his eyebrows at me, shrugs at John and follows me off the bridge.

"You sure this is going to work?" he asks.

I laugh.

"You're kidding, right?"

"Uh... yeah. Probably. Wish I could think of another way to do it."

"There probably is, but I can't make the scans work any better than they do. Not to the point of being able to pick out individuals that the ship hasn't encountered before, anyway."

Frankie and I are panicking. The weapon is nearly ready but the clock is ticking. Not to mention we have to co-ordinate all the attacks and keep a mental eye on the Daniels at the same time. Extra intelligence or not, this is not easy.

"You concentrate on the attack," Frankie urges. "I'll concentrate on this. Like before, I'll let you know if I hear anything specific, but I'll tell my guys to only speak if it's necessary. Your guys can keep us informed of what's going on. That'll give me the chance to move faster on this and there'll be less chance of making mistakes."

"Good thinking. I'll check up on Draya'uc and then get back up to the bridge."

I leave her and rush off to Draya'uc's quarters. As expected, I find her pacing up and down.

"Draya'uc, are you okay?"

"I am worried about my friends, and my hus... your husband."

"Draya'uc, it's okay, I'm not going to get jealous if you call him that. It's habit after all. Look, there really isn't anything you can do at the moment. If there is, I'll call you. In the meantime, just lie down or get some kel'no'reem. Then you'll be ready to act the second I need you."

"Very well. I am sorry to be so impatient."

"Don't be. I understand. Believe me. I really understand."

She nods and I get out of there. I need to get back to the bridge. Memnon is there, sitting in the corner and sulking because Jack won't take him down to the planet.

"Everything working out?" Jack asks as soon as I get on there.

"Sure. Draya'uc's restless, Frankie's working on the weapon. You, Teal'c and Daniel should be the main contacts to me. The other guys should only contact her if they need to. I'm ready to co-ordinate, the question is, are you guys ready to go?"

"We're as ready as we'll ever be," DJ mutters, heading to John to give him a kiss. Daniel does the same with Jack and they take a moment just to hug.

"Take care," I hear Jack mutter.

"Promise. You too."

"Yeah. Promise. Go on, you'd better hurry. We need the intel asap."

Daniel steps back, stands right next to DJ and puts his hand on DJ's arm. Then we see them switch on their cloaks and they both disappear. I feel less worried about Daniel now that he's gotten company, but not much less.

"Send us," comes the order. I use Gimli's transporters and they are sent to the ship where we found the humans.

We're here, I hear from Daniel. The cloaks are still working. So far, anyway. We'll be in touch as soon as we've found what we're looking for.

I'll keep a lock on you, I remind them. First sign of trouble or the cloaks failing, call and I'll get you out of there.

Shall do. See you later.

I can feel his presence in the back of my mind, but it's like he's a TV on standby; ready to go into action at the touch of a button without the warm up time from a cold start. I'd rather see everything through his eyes, but then I'd get very confused as I have to see so many other things, too.

"We're ready to go," John says. "Put us down near the mine, but out of sight."

They're not wearing the cloaks. I guess they don't trust them. Can't say I blame them at all. I don't trust them anymore.

I wish them well and then send them down. So that's it. They're all gone and ready for action. Frankie's busy... But I can't leave here as they might need me at any moment.

I hate this!

So this is it. I see with my own eyes what I didn't want to believe when I saw it from Teal'c's perspective. Part of me is glad that Daniel isn't down here. It would get him so damned mad...

Knowing him as I now know him, I wouldn't put it past him to happily nuke Hades if he saw this. Not saying I would think twice about it, but I doubt I'd get the kind of sinister pleasure that lurks deep down inside Daniel's mind's darkest recesses when he sees the really bad guys get it. He's such a conundrum. He can feel sympathy for the enemy, or he can shoot them up without remorse. No wonder they never understood him back home.

O'Neill. There is only a small guard at the gate. Four in total.

Have they seen you?

They have not. What are your orders?

Plant the C4 as we discussed. At the first sign of the gate opening, blow it and take out any survivors. Stay out of sight till then. When Hammond's people come through, use your radio to identify yourself. Then take them to the settlement. If they can start on the Jaffa that are there, it'll give us the opportunity to do something here.

Very well. According to my watch, we have fifteen minutes to wait.

Yeah. Seems like eternity, doesn't it?

It does indeed. I shall place the explosives now. Do not omit to call Samantha to transport Kar Shel and myself to your side if you should so require us.

I won't. Promise. See ya later.

We sign off. No 'good luck', not between us. Teal'c doesn't believe in luck. I believe we make our own. Sam calculates the odds and figures out if she's likely to make it.

Daniel's the chancer. Always has been. Goes on gut instinct alone. Shit. Has he any idea how fucking scary that is?

"Over there," John murmurs.

He's pointing to an area where the Jaffa are congregating and there appear to be no humans. We're going to try to save every human here. 'Try' being the operative word.

This is another reason I'm glad Daniel's not down here. Much as he intellectually understands 'casualties of war' and 'collateral damage', much as he agrees that it's better for one or two to die in the name of freedom for the rest... Well, he's never really been able to take to that as a concept. There's a big difference between intellectual understanding and emotional understanding.

It doesn't help that he understands the difference between the two of them, either. He knows his emotional response isn't logical. Knows it. Just doesn't like logic much, sometimes.

We've sneaked down the side of the hill, hiding behind boxes, piles of rocks and so on. They've installed some rings in the middle of the flat land which sits in front of the mine and all the processed metal is being sent to a ship using them. I'm watching the operations as I move, John is, too, so that we can come up with a plan of action.

That's the trouble with rescue missions like this, they don't give you the time to plan first, act later. You've got to plan on the hoof, so to speak. At least I know that the orders Hammond will have given will be for my orders to be listened to. Somehow I doubt his people will like that anymore, depending on which troops come through the gate, but it's necessary.

I met with Monkewitz when I was at the SGC and he seems to accept that I'm still loyal to Hammond, which is a good thing. He's loyal to him, even if he is a bit of a pro-Pentagon man. But he does understand that I wouldn't do a thing to harm Hammond or his people.

Not sure if Hammond's glad to have a man like Monkewitz as his second or not. I know I was a pain in the ass, but he also knew I'd literally go to the end of the universe and back for him. Monkewitz is a 'by the book' operator. Not saying that's a bad thing, but it's not always very inspired.

I get a nudge from John and see what he's pointing at. A pile of staff weapons. Oh yeah. Time for some fun, I think.

The C4 is planted according to O'Neill's instructions. These Jaffa are... I am not sure what the Tauri word for them would be. They are nervous, but they are also ready for action. They seem well trained but they did not find us when we placed the explosives near to them. It is as if they have only been trained to deal with certain situations, such as a face-to-face battle. This is interesting.

I pass on the information to O'Neill and I hear his pleasure in my mind.

That's good news, he says. I'm thinking that they won't know what's hit them.

I agree, O'Neill. It would seem that Tauri ape tactics may well work here.

Guerrilla, Teal'c. That's guerilla tactics.

I knew that.


Samantha. Have you heard from Daniel yet? Time is getting short.

He's found the place where the humans are, but they're having a little difficulty getting into the room without being discovered. It's one of those doors that will only open if someone is there. So it will be known that someone is there if they open, even if the guys can't be seen.

They must take the chance soon, if there is no other way. They have only five minutes.

I know. I'll pass that on to them.

Despite the knowledge that I am about to enter battle, I am more concerned with Daniel and DJ's predicament. After the last time that Daniel used the cloak, I am not convinced that they will remain out of sight. If they are discovered...

No. I cannot think like that. I must concentrate on my own task and trust them to complete theirs.

Time's up. The battle is going to start in three minutes. We have to discover who's behind the door. At least there isn't anyone in this corridor, so DJ and I are speaking quietly to each other. Thank God for the increase in my hearing ability.

"Let's do it," I whisper.

I can't see him, and because he isn't human, I can't emotionally detect where he is either. Which is a pain. The door suddenly opens, so I assume he was standing on the pad which detected his weight. We creep in and see that there are many cells, filled with humans. Given their dress, I'd guess that these are the women and children from the Land of Light, but then again, Hecate's humans might dress the same. What if this is one of those weird plans...

No, Daniel. This isn't anything more than it seems. Look, there's Melosha. That's it, it's confirmed.

Sam, all the humans in this corridor would seem to be the Minoans. When the time comes, lock on and transport them to the arranged co-ordinates.

I'll get you guys out of there, too.

Uh, wait a moment, will you?

I look around and see that there are no guards in here. They wouldn't need them. Everyone is behind bars.

"DJ," I hiss. "Go to that corner on the left."

"On my way."

We head over to a corner which is in the shadows and I take a chance and switch off my cloak.

"What the hell are you doing?" he snaps, switching his off, too.

"We need to get information to these people. Look, in that cell."

The women nearest us are murmuring so I hush them. They recognise us straight away, but are understandably confused.

"Nesta, Leyana, it's me, Daniel."

"Daniel, what are you doing here?"

"Getting you out of here. Just hang on. You're going for a ride. You'll find yourself in a safe place, about two thousand paces from your homes. Stay there. Someone will come and get you when it's safe to go home. Help is on its way."


"No time to explain. Please, just keep quiet. Stay put when you get there. Stay out of sight. If all goes according to plan, you'll be home with your men by sunset."

"Thank you..."

"No, no thanks. Not yet. I'm not promising that this is going to work, but I am promising that we're going to try."

"I know. We know. We thank you for trying."

The gate's open, the first explosions have gone off. It's time. I've got to get you off the ship!

Just get the women and children first, Sam. I'll call you when it's time to get us off. Just keep a lock on us.

Jack's going to go nuts.

Leave him to me. Transport them now!

"Cloak on!" I order and DJ responds. There are footsteps in the corridor. As we disappear, so do the women and kids. I can only hope that it's going to work out.

DJ wants to know what the hell is going on, Sam growls. For that matter, so do I!

Tell him we're going to head up to the peltac. Maybe we can find out what the heck is going on with Hades.

Daniel, that's not safe.

Sam, we're at war! Nothing's safe!

Dammit. Look, let me at least transport you up there.

Fine. That'll be quicker. Tell Frankie what's going on and transport us the moment she's spoken to DJ.

Knowing where DJ was before we both cloaked, I put my hand where his should be. Finding it, I grab it so that he knows where I am. We can let go when we're transported to the peltac, but for now, this is actually quite comforting. We can't speak, there are Jaffa in here going nuts. Can't say that they're the only ones.

I am going to kill Daniel when I get hold of him. Why does he have to be so damned reasonable? He's going straight into the lion's den again. Hell, his mother was right to name him Daniel. He couldn't have been called anything else, could he?

Sam? What's going on up there?

Oh hell, it's Jack. What am I going to tell him? The truth, I guess.

The women and children are at the prearranged transport location.

Great. Well done. Where's Daniel?

Oh, on the peltac.

There's a moment's silence before I hear the hopeful, but not believing, Gimli's peltac?

Er... no.

Sam, he growls. What the hell...?

It was his idea! He figured that as the cloaks were working and that he and DJ were on the ship anyway, they may as well go check out the bridge and see if they could come up with some intel or other. I have them in my sights, so to speak, so I can get them off the ship when they call.

This time, you get them off the second the cloaks fail, if they fail. No letting Daniel talk you into leaving him there.

No way. Besides, I don't think he'd ask me to this time.

He'd better not.

Anyway, what's going on down there?

Oh, we're having fun. Set some staff weapons to explode under a pile of naquada ore.

That would be the big bang I saw a few minutes ago?

That would be that bang.

And now?

Now we're picking our way through the barbecued Jaffa ribs and heading to the humans they've been torturing.

Do you want me to transport them out of there?

Yeah, but just wait a moment. You'll need to know which humans are which. Some of them are just tired and a little bit injured. These guys will need medical attention straight away.

We sign off, I get an idea and ask Teal'c to find a couple of medics in among the SGC teams that have been sent. Of course, I ask that by comms.

"Teal'c, have you found them yet?"

"I have Samantha. They are the two to my right."

"Do they have the equipment?"

"They do indeed."

"Good. I'll transport them up here in readiness."

Moments later, two rather bewildered-looking people from the medical team appear on the bridge.

"There's a room down the corridor. Go out that door, turn right, four doors down on your left. Turn that into a sick bay. You're going to have patients any minute now."

"Yes, Ma'am," one says, the other still looks bewildered.

They also look like they could do with help. Help... Oh, of course.

"Memnon, go with them and assist them, please."

"I should be glad to do so," he replies seriously.

"Draya'uc," I call on the comms.

"I am here."

"Do you know anything about medicine?"

"Not about human medicine but I am good at following orders."

"Yeah, I know. We've got some people on board getting ready to receive casualties. Would you help them?"

"Of course. Where should I go?"

I tell her how to get to the new sick bay and sign off. I'm glad she's here now, if only to fetch and carry for the medics. It'll give her something positive to do and will help them, too. Now all I need to do is wait for Jack's order.

Daniel is so dead. If Hades doesn't kill him, I'm gonna. And if I don't, John will for putting DJ in danger. Why the fuck does he do this? I could ask him, but he'd come up with something so damned logical that I won't be able to argue with him. Damn. Blast. Fuck. If he gets hurt...

In the meantime, I'm going to shoot every fucking Jaffa in my way. It's taking too long to get to these poor people tied to the stakes. I'm not even sure if they're alive. John's laying down cover fire as I run, then I stop, hide, and do the same for him to catch up. So far, so good. The humans are scattering, some are heading to the mines for cover. Another run and I'll get there. Then it's wait for John and signal to Sam to get the soldiers away from here.

Shit, that was a close one. Never mind, it missed. They don't count. Do they?

I'm there.

Sam! The four static bodies next to me. Get them out of here!

Got them!

I watch as they disappear. Now it's time to fight like crazy. Not to mention getting under cover. OUCH! That'll teach me to look before I drop. Freaking thistles. I'll have to get Daniel to kiss it better later. He'll need to kiss my ass to get around me after putting himself in danger again, so this will be his chance.

"You okay?"

I hear John's voice above the firing. It's not like we need to keep silent, is it?

"Sure. You?"

"Yeah. Take out the Jaffa on the right. I'll take left."

I look at where he's indicating and realise that we're surrounded. Without answering him, I start firing like crazy. Reminds me of the old days...


"O'Neill. We have arrived at the settlement."

"Great, Teal'c. How's it going?"

"Hades' Jaffa are not as well trained as we at first feared. The Tauri soldiers are teaching them how to fight."

I can hear the sheer pleasure in Teal'c's voice. He loves it when he gets to show how good he is, and I can guarantee that he's doing a bit of teaching of his own.

"Can you spare any manpower? We could do with some assistance."

"Kar Shel and I will be with you momentarily."

"Nah, you guys stay there. I'd rather have someone I know and trust... er, hang on..."

Damn, this is getting hot down here. Really hot. If I don't move right now... Oh hell, how stupid am I?

Sam, lock onto me. Move me one hundred yards to my north. Do the same with John. NOW!

I reappear with a bewildered-looking John next to me, both of us facing the wrong way.

"That way!" I grab at him and point him in the right direction.

The Jaffa are looking for us. We're behind them. Sweet.


"Just select some manpower and get Sam to put them down near the mine. We need to surround the processing area."

"Understood. Stand by."

Stand? Not a chance. Shoot, however...

I love my P90.

We have pushed all of the defending Jaffa into a single building. In fact, it is the one to which we were first taken on our initial visit to this planet. I feel that they are protecting someone. Hecate, perhaps?

"Colonel. We must get inside. There are transport rings in that building. They could use them to escape."


He calls out to three teams and sends them around the back of the structure. Two more are sent to monitor the sides. This is one of the largest forces that Hammond has ever sent out as we still have five teams to enter the building at the front.

"Leave two teams behind, Colonel. We will need cover fire and it will take too long to get all five teams through the one door."

"Agreed. SG-12 and 14, cover us and await further instruction. If we're taken out, fall back and contact Colonel O'Neill."

The team leaders acknowledge him and we make our move.


The fire from the Jaffa is not as heavy as I expected. This means one of two things. Either they are using the rings to escape, or there will be a heavily-defended area inside the building. We must assume it is the latter.

Samantha. Are the transport rings being operated from the planet to one of the ships?

Not yet, Teal'c. One transport has gone the other way. Uh... stand by.


A new ship has entered the system. All the gliders seem to be forming some sort of honour guard or escort.

Alert the others. That must be Hades.

I hear her calling to Daniel and O'Neill in her mind and informing them of the situation. I also hear a oh hell from Daniel and a shit, that's all we need from O'Neill. Quite.

"Teal'c. In there."

I look at where Kar Shel is pointing and see that he is alerting me to the fact that a curtain, which stands in place of a solid door, is twitching. I catch the attention of Colonel Monkewitz and he indicates to his men to pull to the side. We count down and ready ourselves to go on the attack.

Just before we strike, one of the SG team members discovers that there is another way in to the room. Whether there are Jaffa on the other side of the curtain or not, we do not know. However, it gives us an opportunity.

Again, we ready ourselves to strike, but this time, Kar Shel indicates to us to keep silent. He is listening to something. I focus my hearing and move as close to the curtain as I dare.

"Fools! You should be fighting, not cowering like children!"

"We are outnumbered, my lady." That is not entirely true. "Let us gather more forces and return."

"You will fight or you will die. I will not allow such cowards to serve us."

"My lady, we are not cowards. It is my solemn duty to tell you the truth. The truth is, we are insufficiently armed to win this battle. I do not wish your good name to be tainted. Please, my lady. Let us prepare to take back what is rightfully yours."

There is another noise. Transport rings. Has she left? It would appear not.

"My lord! We are not ready for you."

I hear Hecate as she grovels. Now would be a good time to attack. As I inform Colonel Monkewitz of the development, I hear, "Please, my lord, return to your ship until we have made your planet safe for you."

"You doubt my strength, Hecate?"

"No, lord. But we should not doubt the strength of the Tauri."

"I have let you have too much power. I have let you have your own way for too long. You were given my Erinyes to play with and you took their strength from them, but what did you do with it? Wasted it! Threw it away!"

"Now," I order.

Colonel Monkewitz relays the order and we rush into the room, firing at the Jaffa who have, in their foolishness, dropped to their knees at the appearance of their god. They forgot the basic fact that we were attacking, so afraid were they of ignoring the etiquette demanded by the Goa'uld. I always said that the Goa'uld ego would lead to their downfall, and yet again, I have been proven correct.

We have all entered the room, without any casualties on our side. Only three Jaffa remain alive, and Hecate and Hades stand alone. Hades has raised his hand to operate the rings again, but Kar Shel acts before he can do it, throwing a knife into his hand and damaging both Hades and his technology.

"Stand still!" I order. "You are now the prisoners of the Tauri."

"I do not think so," Hecate sneers.

"But I do. Stand still or I will shoot."

"You should kneel before your god," Hades demands.

"If I were ever to meet my god, then I would. However, you are not a god but a parasite and I would die before kneeling in front of you."

"That can be arranged," he replies.

"I doubt that."

The remaining Jaffa have dropped their weapons. A wise move as three Tauri are right next to them, their guns pointing directly at the Jaffa's heads. Kar Shel, some of the Tauri and I move closer to the Goa'uld. Hades has pulled the knife out of his hand and dropped it on the floor, but he is not making any move to try to escape.

"You will step out of the rings," I order.

"And if I do not?"

"Then I shall fire my staff weapon."

Hades seems to think about it but then, slowly, he steps forward. I keep watching him, waiting for him to make a sudden move. Should he do so, I will kill him.

Hecate has not moved as of yet, but she will do so if her lord and master wills it.

"Tell her to step out of the rings also," I order.

I can tell that Hades is about to reply with one of his typical answers, but then he seems to think better of it.

"Hecate, do as he says. For now. We will make the shol'va pay at a later date."

She does not move initially, but then her tightly held shoulders drop as if defeated. Good.

"You did not think that I would know who you are?" Hades asks.

"I do not care," I reply. "My fame or otherwise is of no importance. The only thing of any importance is that my people are freed from slavery."

"Slavery? Is that what you call it? After all we give to you? Your strength, your long life..."

"What you give is also of no importance. That is given only because it suits you. Not us. You have taken away the Jaffa's freedom. You have taken away their lives and the lives of their children. The future for the Jaffa only means anything should there be no Goa'uld in it."

There is a sudden movement and I think that Hades is about to attack, but by the time that I realise what is really going on, Hecate has operated the rings. Hades has a knife in the back of his neck and has fallen to the floor. Dead.

"Samantha! Hecate has ringed out of here."

"She's gone to the ship that the Daniels are on!"

"Get them off there and fire!"

I wait for her answer, it is taking too long.

Teal'c?! What's happening?

I hear O'Neill's voice and inform him of the past moments' events.


His mind is screaming at her but there is still no answer.

"SAMANTHA! Speak woman!"

"They've gone!"

"What do you mean, they've gone?"

"The ship. It just jumped to hyperspace. I hit the weapons, fired... Tried to pull the guys off the ship at the same moment... But I was too late. A moment earlier and I would have gotten them."

I fear the worst.

This is not what I had in mind. My idea was that we'd check out the peltac, sneak around, try to find something out, then get the hell out of here before all hell broke loose. Unfortunately we checked, we sneaked, we found, we didn't get out. And just a few seconds ago, we felt the unmistakable sensation of a jump into hyperspace. Didn't know a ship could do it from a standing start. Apparently, it can.

"Jack's going to kill me," I whisper to DJ as we try to get away from anyone on the ship.

"Never mind Jack," he bitches back, "I am going to kill you. And take great pleasure in it. You and your dumb ideas, Daniel."

"Look, I didn't expect this to happen. Anyway, she'll have set course for her homeworld. Sam knows where it is. They'll follow, scan, find us and Gimli will get us out of here."

"That's assuming it's Hecate's ship, Daniel. What if it's Hades'?"

"Do you have to look for complications?"

"Yes." I hear him sigh, then he says, "All we have to do is stay out of sight. Simple, right?"

"Right. What's behind this door?"


"We need somewhere to hide in case the cloaks fail, don't we?"

I can feel him shrugging. I've got one of my hands on his shoulder so that we're in constant contact. He's stepping closer to the door that's in front of us. It's one of those pressure pad doors again. I hate those. They don't give you the chance to sneak into a room.

The room isn't completely dark, but it's not exactly light, either. In the shadows, I see something that I really don't like. I give DJ a squeeze and we silently make our way to the thing we don't want to see but know we're going to have to see anyway. Needless to say, we're in 'sneak clothing'. In other words, no shoes. Going barefoot really makes it easier. Sneakers can squeak on the wrong (or right, depending on your point of view) flooring.

Yup. I was right. Didn't want to see what I thought it was.

At a guess, and it's a very educated guess, we have Tisiphone and Megaera. It would seem that Hecate has a very warped sense of humour. Instead of the three wise monkeys, we have the three mutilated Furies. Alecto's eyes had been cut out. One of the other Furies, couldn't say which is which, has had her ears cut off. The remaining one has a scar which runs either side of her mouth. Her lips have been cut off and, I wouldn't mind betting, there's no tongue in there, either.

There seems to be a very good reason these snakes haven't taken a new host. There didn't appear to be any humans on the Underworld for Alecto. Tisiphone and Megaera are chained to the wall. Couldn't take another host if they wanted to.

DJ catches my jacket and tugs me away from them. Probably wants to throw up. Oh, he can't. Still, probably wants to. I know I do.

We make our way to the other side of the large room and I hear in a very quiet whisper, "Shall we finish them off?"

"Out of sympathy for the hosts?" I ask, not really needing to. Whatever future they'd imagined they might have, they're not going to get it.

"Yeah. Zats?"


"Give me a couple of moments before we do it. I might find something out."

I lift his hand and tap my head with it, so that he knows what I'm thinking. A squeeze of my hand lets me know that he understands.

We make our way back to the women. As soon as I get close enough, I send my mind into the mind of the Goa'uld, but find that it's not easy. I can mentally scan a human and a Jaffa, but I am getting nothing but emotions from the Goa'uld. Which is odd. I got words from Jacob... Perhaps these women are not thinking of any words. Yeah, that could be it. Not to mention the fact that Selmac knows us well, probably drops her guard.

I found it way easier to deliberately enter Paul's mind than that Jaffa I questioned. Okay, so maybe I won't get any deep thoughts from a snakehead. They're both completely pissed, though, that's for certain.

I nudge DJ. It's time. We power up the weapons. The dumb one is panicking. She can obviously hear the zats but can't see us or cry out. The other one has no idea what's about to happen. For the host's sake, I'm glad.

The blue of the zat's power lights up the dark room like lightning during a night-time storm. Three times we fire and the chains and manacles are left rocking against the wall; empty.

"Time to go hide?" DJ suggests.

"Yeah. That would be a good idea. Keep your zat powered up, just in case."

We go to make our way out of the room, holding onto each other again as we go, but as we approach the door, it opens. DJ grabs me and pulls me in the opposite direction. The lights go on and I have to shut my eyes for a moment as it starts to blind me. A voice cries out. I recognise it.


"What the fuck do you mean we can't pursue?"

Jack is not happy. Neither is John. Actually, none of us are. Teal'c and Kar Shel have returned to the ship. The remaining Jaffa on the planet have surrendered.

Memnon, who had been kept away from the fight at Jack's orders, has gone back down to the planet to where the women and children are so that he can tell them it's safe to go home. The SGC teams are cleaning up.

We still have the four injured soldiers on board, however, and the news from the medics is that they can't be moved, not even to be transported to the gate. They won't survive the trip back home through the wormhole.

"We used the Hammer to hit all the mother ships and the gliders at the same time," I tell him. Again. "The hope had been that it would disable, or slow up, all the ships, giving us the time to fire on them one at a time. Well, we were able to fire on the three remaining ships, including Hades', but the initial shot from the Hammer blew one of the engine's crystals. Frankie's trying to repair it right now.

"The good news is, the Hammer worked. It ruined the ships we hit and we definitely shattered all of the gliders."

"It didn't do us any good," Jack growls.

"We will need to isolate it from the engines in future," I shrug. "In the meantime, we have to go to Earth to take the injured to the infirmary. We can't make them wait."

"Have you forgotten that Daniel and DJ are on that fucking ship? The one that escaped!"

"O'NEILL. You will refrain from shouting at Samantha. She was only able to activate one thing at a time. It is not her fault that Hecate was able to elude us temporarily."


"We know her address. We will find them as soon as we can get there."

"If they're alive."

"Do you no longer have faith in their abilities?"

Ouch. Teal'c really knows how to hit below the belt sometimes.

"I have faith in them," Jack snaps. "I don't have faith in the fucking cloaks."

Great. Hit a gal when she's down, why don't you?


John got onto the subspace comms and called up the General. He's sending one of their ships to collect the injured.

The news on the four in our newly designated sick bay is not good. They have multiple broken bones, have lost blood... They'll be lucky to survive, let alone to heal completely. By sending the ship to us it means less delay, as it's going to take a little while longer to ensure that all of our systems are up and running.

Jack, probably out of spite, finished off the remaining ha'taks. They'd been damaged beyond immediate repair, their shields, weapons and engines were down, so he hit them with our standard Asgard weaponry. Then he scanned the system for any gliders that might have survived. There were a few which were probably just about fit enough for the gliders to land, so he took them out.

He's simmering with anger, mainly aimed at Daniel I think, but possibly some of it is aimed at me. He isn't really angry, he's just very afraid. So am I.

"Jack, I..."

He stops and looks at me, shaking his head.

"I know," he whispers.

"He's fine. They're fine. I know it."

"Yeah. Of course."

"We'll get them as soon as we can."


He sits down and drops his head into his hands. Probably going against my better judgement, I sit next to him.

"Don't get angry with him when we get him back. It isn't his fault."

"He should have gotten off the ship when you rescued the women and children."

"I know, but we didn't know that Hecate would kill Hades. We needed more information. He could have found out something really important. He didn't want to be on the ship when it went."

Teal'c appears next to us and says, "O'Neill, if I had watched Hecate more closely, I could have prevented their abduction."

"How?" Jack asks, looking up with pain written over his face.

"I let down my guard. I made the fatal assumption that Hades was the danger. She was able to act quickly and did something that none of us anticipated. We had all assumed that she would be loyal to her master."

Jack shrugs.

"Guess we all took our eye off the ball. I should have ordered them off the ship. Should have ordered Sam to pull them off whether they wanted it or not. I had a gut feeling that something would go wrong."

There's another shadow falling on us and I look up and see John. He puts his hand on Jack's shoulder.

"The Potemkin will be here in a few minutes," he says. "Frankie says the engines are up and running. She'll double-check the shields and weapons as we go. She's asking for Sam's help."

"Sure. I'll just..."

I don't bother finishing my sentence as the others just nod. I'm certain Jack doesn't blame me now but I know that he's getting more afraid by the moment.

The Potemkin's here. They've taken the injured from us and they're going to take all the casualties from the planet, too. A team of medics have gone to the surface to check out the natives. Draya'uc has said goodbye to Teal'c and Kar Shel and has gone down to the planet. I made sure the medics left us as much of the medical supplies as they could, just in case. We're free to go.


Teal'c's at the helm and we're going as fast as we can. Sam realised that not being able to chase Hecate might not be as bad as we at first feared. Our ship is many times faster than theirs. It'll take us about a half hour to reach her system. Even with our delays, we'll be there long before they get there. That helps. I just hope the guys can hide out for as long as they need to.

I trust their ability, I really do. I just don't trust the cloaks and I don't trust their luck. And there was me thinking that I didn't believe in luck. They'll do what they can to make their own luck, I'm sure of it.

Sure of it.


Sam's right, I can't get angry with him. I want to. Crazy, huh? Want to hurt him when he gets hurt. Want to kill him for getting killed - as happens far too frequently. Doesn't make sense, does it? I guess it's that I want him to feel what I'm feeling. I hurt when he hurts. I die when he dies.

I know something bad is going to happen to him. I can feel it.


We've arrived at Hecate's system. I see what Sam meant when she said that the planets were weird. Probably just as well they don't seem to have too many seas on them as the tidal forces must be immense.

We have to wait for another three hours before Hecate turns up. If she comes here. Part of me wants to blow up her palace. It's really tempting. I watch John as he stares out of the viewscreen and know he's thinking the same thing.

"Tell ya what. When we get them back, we'll do it."

He looks at me and grins sheepishly.

"You're on."

While we await the arrival of Hecate's ship, some of us have moved into the room now used as a sick bay and we are cleaning it up. The women are still with the engines, trying desperately to isolate the Hammer from the main power. They ordered the Potemkin's engineers to do the same with theirs before it is fired.

At least we know that as a weapon, it is highly successful. The gliders that it struck were badly affected. Those in the direct line of fire were literally blown apart. Those that had been behind the destroyed ones, and which had been sheltered by them, had various problems, but the worst of those was the breaking of the covers, exposing the pilots to the vacuum of space. Those furthest away and least affected still had their engines damaged.

The Hammer is a most useful weapon against attack by a glider fleet.

The affect on the ha'taks was equally startling. We had the advantage that they did not have their shields up because they did not know of our ship's presence. Samantha concluded that the Hammer shattered all the crystals on their ships; a logical conclusion. It is a great pity that the Hammer took just a moment too long to discharge its power and Hecate was allowed to escape.

There is much blood on the floor of this room. I fear greatly for the health of the soldiers. We are saying nothing, but all feel the need to clean this room and to ready it. Somehow, we feel that it may be needed.

"Teal'c. I think we were keeping all of the medical supplies we'd put on Gimli originally in the galley. They should be brought up here, shouldn't they?"

"They should O'Neill. I shall retrieve them."

"Good idea."

He lets out a loud sigh and it stops me in my tracks.


He shakes his head.

"Ah, it's nothing, Teal'c. Just thinking that we could do with one of those healing device things that the Tok'ra have."

"I understand. That would be most useful. We should ask them if they have discovered the origin of the one that they have. Perhaps we could find the makers and trade with them for another one."

He looks a little more cheerful for a moment as he nods in agreement, then his cheer goes as he thinks of the fact that we might need one.

"Who is there?"

Hecate's been demanding this for ages. It seems like ages, anyway. Don't know how but it's as if she knows that we're here, or at least knows that someone is here. She's called out an order to sweep the ship for Tisiphone and Megaera, but I don't think she really believes that they've escaped.

"You will show yourselves or..."

You know, I've never liked 'or' in this context. Nope, I definitely don't like 'or'. Not when she takes a staff weapon from the Jaffa standing next to her and starts to randomly blast along the wall. Against which, we happen to be standing.

"We have to get out of here," DJ hisses.

"We do? I'd never have guessed."

I get a nudge in my ribs for that moment of sarcasm. I really need to remind him not to do that. I think he's cracked a rib.

We can't fight back, there are simply too many of them and firing the zats would give our positions away before we got a chance to fire the second time. Which is a shame.


Okay, I didn't mean to yell out loud, but that last blast caught my thigh.

"Shit, sorry," I whisper. "You keep your cloak on."

"Come out! Come out now or I shall fire again!"

I switch off my cloak and step - correction, limp - away from the wall.

"YOU! What are you doing here again? Where are the Erinyes?"

"Uh... You know, just hanging," I shrug. "As for the Erinyes... Do you mean the pathetic specimens you had hanging on the walls?"

DJ's right behind me. I can feel his body next to mine.

"What the fuck are you doing?" he whispers.


"Of course!" she screams at me. She seems to like screaming.

"Oh, they're gone."


"Yeah. Figured they could do you more harm if they weren't attached to the walls. I'd watch your back if I were you."

"And you should watch your mouth!" she spits back.

"Yeah, well, that wouldn't be the first time I've heard that."

"Get on your knees."

"Uh... no. You shot my thigh. No way am I going down there. It hurts enough as it is."

She's going red in the face. Not a good colour for her. FUCK! I've had my knees knocked and I'm down on the floor again. I hate that.

"HEY! What the fuck do you think you're doing?"

Her Jaffa has ripped my shirt off my back. That wasn't very nice.

"I wish to see what my opposition is made of," she says, trying to sound seductive and sounding more like a send-up of herself.

"Flesh, bone, blood... The usual," I reply.

I can't feel DJ's presence anymore. I wonder what he's up to. Oh! That's what he's up to. Hecate's just been knocked to the floor.

It's weird watching her rolling around, fighting an invisible attacker. I'd help DJ out but I have two staff weapons pointing directly at my head.

"STOP!" one of the Jaffa calls. "Show yourself or your friend will die!"

The staff weapons are powered up and somehow I think they mean what they say.

Hecate stops rolling around so I assume that DJ has pulled off her. He must have decided that things were getting hairy so he attacked. Now it's even hairier. Still, it was a good try.

"Show yourself!" she demands as she gets to her feet.

The staff weapons are pressed into my head and body, and DJ finally has no option. He switches off his cloak. Another Jaffa takes his zat off him and forces him to his knees next to me.

"Which of you was in my palace?" she demands.

"Neither of us," I lie.

At her incredulous look, I say, "Never heard of identical triplets?"

"There is a third on board this ship?"

"No. He's busy with Lord Svarog."

"I do not believe you," she states. "I know that you do not serve Svarog. You are Tauri."

"We're all Tauri to start with," DJ shrugs.

He's answered by the Jaffa half-stripping him, too.

"You are scarred," she states. "Why?"

"Oh, you know. A bit of this, a bit of that."

"But your brother is not scarred. Why is that?"

"He's more careful," he shrugs.

Thanks bro. Don't mention the sarcophagus. I've already noticed that there's one in this room.

When the lights went on, we realised that it's her throne room-cum-bedchamber. You'd think that a torture room would be in the ship's equivalent of a dungeon, wouldn't you? Not hers. She gets to watch her prisoners suffer while she eats, drinks, sleeps... Does whatever it is she does in here. Don't want to go there.

"As they took away my playthings, they shall replace them," she suddenly states.

Great. That's all I need. It's okay for DJ, he can be chained up without it bothering him. It's going to hurt me big time, especially as my thigh is really throbbing.

Ouch, it doesn't help that she's chained us up facing the wall. That doesn't bode well, does it?

The engines are fine, the shields and weapons are working... We've even figured out how to isolate the Hammer from the main power and have done it. All of it. We're a formidable fighting machine. Trouble is, we haven't got anything to fight!

There's going to be at least another hour to wait. A lot can happen in an hour.

I've officially driven everyone on board up the wall, around the bend and back again. I've even done it to me. I've paced, I've yelled... I've maniacally cleaned my P90, the sick bay, the galley... If I don't get them back now I'm going to be taken away by men in white coats with a straitjacket to a padded room. I'll welcome it.

It really doesn't help the Sams and Teal'cs that there are two 'mes' on board. John's as nuts as me, only with android superpowers. Not a good combination on a good day.

Today ain't a good day.

I am watching the clock intently. It is either that or I should strangle O'Neill. I pity Daniel when we find him. O'Neill will be so relieved to get him back that he will severely damage him. Perhaps I should damage O'Neill first to prevent that? I do not know what is for the best. I should definitely watch him.

"Kar Shel."


"When we retrieve the Daniels, you should keep close watch on your O'Neill."

"Why is that?"

"To prevent him from hurting DJ."

"Of course. You will do the same with your O'Neill?"

"I shall."


I return to watching the clock.


That fucking hurts. I'm man enough to yell when I hurt. Don't care one jot what anyone thinks of me. She's whipping me with what would seem to be a whip made by binding some of the Furies' whips together. The 'scorpion tail' whip could be pluralised. There are at least four tails on this one. Couldn't say if there are more, the pain runs from one to another.

She's doing it to DJ, too, but is getting really pissed when he doesn't yell. Or bleed for that matter.

"It would seem that your brother is more of a man than you are," she taunts me.

"You have no fucking idea," I mutter back.

"I should choose him, I feel."

"Choose?" he squeaks.

"It is time for me to spawn again. Some of the larval symbiotes are ready for implantation."

I can't help it, I shudder when I hear that. No fucking way.

I turn my head and look at him, my eyes questioning. He doesn't want to do it any more than I want to do it, but if he does do it... His eyes twinkle and he winks a little in my direction. I get it. Play along.

"No way," he states. "I'm not going to help you spawn any more of those fucking evil creatures!"

"Oh, you will. If you want your brother to live, that is."

"You call this living? Look at him. His leg is burned, his back is cut to shreds... We'd rather die."

"I can heal him," she states, waving the hand-held healing device at him.

That wouldn't be so bad, would it? If it would take away the pain for now, I could hold out longer. I look at him and he nods slightly. He's prepared to do it.

"Heal him first," he orders.

"He will be healed as you give me what I require."


"Take them down."

Before I get a chance to question what's going on, we're taken down. DJ's being led to Hecate's bed on the far side of the room, a staff weapon pointing at his face. I guess Hecate doesn't have the same drug Hathor had. Not that it would work on either of us if she did. Uh oh, she's giving him a small vial.

"Drink this."

"Look lady, if you're trying to drug me to make me do what you want me to do, you don't have to. Besides, I'm immune to nishta."

Of course, it's not good for him to drink things. He really needs to avoid drinking that as we don't know what effect it will have on him.

I'm being taken closer to them, I can't take my eyes off them, afraid that something is going to happen to him.

She laughs.

"It is not nishta. I wonder where you came into contact with that?"

"Oh, here, there," he shrugs. "Look, are you going to heal my brother or not? That's the deal. You heal him, I screw you. No amount of drugs will make me do that if you don't."

She laughs again, obviously finding him amusing. She has no fucking idea whatsoever. Her whip didn't even break his skin somehow. Guess their skin can take certain types of blows that mine can't. Anyway, she still has no idea he's an android. I can sense that she's intrigued by him, that's for sure.

"Very well. Jaffa, kree!"

What? Oh no. Not that. No!

Shit. They're bundling me into the sarc. I don't have the strength - physical or mental - to fight them. Jack and the others have no idea how strong the desire is to go into it, even after I've gone months without being in one. It's like a switch that goes on whenever I see one of the damned things. A magnetic attraction.

I'm injured. It'll heal the injuries. It's only when it's not healing injuries that the addiction kicks in. Okay, Daniel, you can do this. The last thing I see before the lid closes is the worried look of my android brother. I give him a small nod to reassure him. If he can fuck her, I can get through this. Can't I?

Another thirty minutes. The last thirty minutes have been the longest I've ever known. Where the hell is she? What if they don't come here? Do I dare suggest that? I've been listening into subspace and ordinary comms chatter but there isn't any indication that they even know she's on her way. What if she isn't on her way? Oh hell.

Sam's pacing now. I think I know why. As the time goes on, so our surety that she'll come here is diminishing. The more time that passes, the more sure I am that something bad is happening on that ship, too. I know it. I fucking know it.

How many nights will I have to hold him as he screams his way through the nightmares? How long will it take him to get over this one? And I just know it's one of those cases. It's like I can feel his terror. And he is scared right now. I don't have to be within ten light-years to know that. He's shit scared.

So am I.

I have never known the androids to be so afraid, except for when we had lost DJ in that glider. They believe that something bad is happening to him, as we are afraid for Daniel. Not that we are not afraid for DJ, or them for Daniel, but naturally, we are concentrating on our own. It is hard to explain but we need to do that. I think that it would be too much emotionally for us to worry about both of them to the same extent. We literally could not do it without being overcome.

I fear for O'Neill's sanity. Both O'Neills.

I am beginning to fear for my own.

That wasn't so bad, was it? At least I didn't have to watch DJ fucking Hecate. He looks bored. She looks confused. I'm looking anywhere but at him or else I'm going to laugh. He once told me that they can ejaculate the liquid that's inside them. It reminds them of how it is for us, but also it acts as extra lube for when they want to continue playing (bastards can have as much sex as they like without it going down until they want it to go down).

So she's probably got that inside her and she's wondering why she isn't producing the larvae. Having said that, she's also got the look that says she's just had her brains fucked out so she probably isn't thinking as hard as she could.

As the Jaffa drag me out of the sarc, I send my mental feelers back to her and find that's the case. I don't think she's ever been fucked that good before. I'm thinking of swapping Jack for John at some point.

The Jaffa have pushed him to my side and we're back on the floor, kneeling next to each other. I look sideways at him and he winks at me. Then he whispers, "Whatever you do, don't mention this to John or Jack. They'll..."

I nod as a Jaffa takes exception to us speaking and smacks DJ with the butt end of his staff weapon. DJ looks annoyed as he does it, surprising the Jaffa that he hadn't been sent sprawling.

"I think," Hecate finally says - a little breathlessly if I'm not mistaken - "that I will keep you."

"Uh, no. Sorry. I'm otherwise taken," DJ states. "So's he. And you won't like it when they come looking for us."

"You think that I would be bothered by Tauri women?" she sneers.

"Wrong sex," I shrug. "Tauri men. Besides, you should be bothered because they won't be too pleased with you. And they're the ones that just kicked your ass at the Land of Light."

She loses a bit of her colour but tries to bluster her way out of it. Neither of us is impressed. In the end, she does the one thing we really don't want her to do and she calls a Jaffa to her side, puts her hand in front of his stomach and moments later, the mature Goa'uld sticks its ugly head out. Nope. Don't want that.

DJ jumps up and attacks the Jaffa to his side. I head-butt the one to my side. Ouch. He's gotten one of those metal plates on his stomach. DJ is currently going nutso, he's broken the neck of one of the Jaffa. I'm struggling with 'my' Jaffa for his weapon. I'm thinking he's winning. Won't give up, though.

I see from the corner of my eye that three Jaffa have landed on DJ and he's being held to the floor.

FUCK! A knife in my arm makes me drop my hold on the weapon. It's her.

"Fools!" she yells. "Do not think that you will escape me. Jaffa!"

They drag us together again and this time throw us to our knees. Blood's pouring down my arm and I feel sick. She has the Goa'uld in her hand. She grabs DJ by the hair and holds the snake to his neck. We know how that is going to go, don't we? She's confused, however, when the snake seems to refuse to bury itself in his head.

If I didn't know better, I'd say that it wasn't willing. It really looks like it would rather be anywhere but being forced into doing this.

She picks it up by the throat and looks into its eyes. I wonder if the Goa'uld have some form of internal telepathy? I'm going to have a first-hand chance to find out. Unless Jack and the guys beam us out of here in the next couple of seconds, I'm definitely going to have that chance.