Summary: The guys are left seeing double when Jacob comes to call. Thanks as ever to Joy for the beta.
"Ding-dong, Tok'ra calling."
He's doing it to get his own back on me, I know it. I've been getting Daniel up early recently and making him sneak through the jungle to creep up on Teal'c and 'take him out'. Hey, I need to teach my kids infiltration techniques that were not learned at college - and I don't mean sneaking into the boys' dorms for Sam. Or Daniel for that matter.
So, the sun is barely up and he's just bounced on me, grinning maniacally and announced overly cheerfully that Jacob has arrived. Guess I'd better get up.
"How much caffeine have you ingested, Daniel?"
"Only the one cup, Jack. That blend from the Mayans is very good."
"How long have you been up?"
"Oh, about an hour. I thought I'd let you sleep in, seeing as you're getting old and all."
I'd get him for that but I can't be bothered. Later, definitely.
I wonder what Jacob wants this time? We're not due to pick up a mission briefing for five days. Ah, Daniel's handed me a coffee, just as well, the bastard's got me hooked in it.
Still, it's one way to wake up, I suppose. Not my favourite way though. That happened a couple of days ago. I was having this lovely dream about Daniel and me up in Mia, orbiting one of the planets in our system, and fucking like rabid minks in zero gravity. Him tied to something so that he was just about the right height, no bending and no stretching for me, just lined it up and in I went.
So, while he was merrily screaming the place down in my dreams, real Daniel noticed that at least one part of me was awake. And he went down. I must have felt something because just as dream Daniel was coming hard enough to knock himself out, I woke up. Just about to bawl him out for that, I noticed that he wasn't near my face. However, his position mitigated his waking me up. One look at his mischievous face and I came hard enough to at least need some more sleep.
He didn't let me get it though, he just crawled up my body and fucked me. Now that's how I like to wake up. So does Daniel for that matter.
Underground now and I see that Jacob's sitting at the table in the kitchen and not looking happy.
"Jake? What's wrong?"
"Ah, Jack, good morning. We, er, we have a problem."
When Jake drawls we're in trouble.
"Okay. One of our operatives was undercover and visited this planet." He's handed me a folder, with the co-ordinates and details of the place. "A new ruler has been installed there. He's brutal, despotic and generally not a very nice guy. He's called Joc'nel."
"Stupid name," Sam mutters. Daniel sniggers. I'll get him later. I already thought that, didn't I? Hmm. Definitely getting him later then.
"So, what's the problem? If you want, we'll go in and take him out. Don't think that any of us will have a problem with taking out a snake. No offence, Selmac, you know I don't mean you."
"None taken, Jack. But this man is not a 'snake'. He is, in fact, human."
"It wouldn't be the first time we've... I've done something like that."
"Jack, look at the photo," Daniel says suddenly, sounding distinctly distracted.
"Oh... my... God," Sam says.
What? What! OH CRAP!
"It's me?" If my voice sounds like it's gone up a couple of octaves it's because I feel like I've been kicked in the nuts.
"We think it's a clone," Jake says.
"Well I'd say that was obvious," I mutter. "I happen to know I don't have an evil twin. That would be too much of a cliché and you all know how much I hate them."
"I don't know if I can do this," Daniel whispers.
Shit. Killing me, or killing a version of me; well it's not something that Daniel's going to take to.
"Can't you just send a Tok'ra assassin in?" I plead.
"We don't want him dead, at least not to start with," Jake argues. "We need to know who his creator is. We're guessing a Goa'uld for obvious reasons. We have to know which Goa'uld has the ability to do this."
"So you want us to kidnap him? Okay, we can do that," Daniel says a little more cheerfully.
I look at Jake and shake my head.
"It's a trap, Jake. Set up to catch my team."
"We figured as much," comes the solemn reply. "But it has to be done. This level of information isn't just desirable, Jack, it's essential."
Yeah. I know. So, we have to come up with a foolproof plan.
"How far away is the planet?" I ask Jacob.
"Three days if you're going to fly it. I'd recommend that you do. No one knows you've got the ship, so you'll stand a better chance of going in undetected."
"We'll have to leave now then," O'Neill states. "The sooner we start, the sooner we get there and take him out one way or the other. Know this, Jacob, I'm putting the safety of my kids first. If we can't take the guy, we take him out. And I don't want any grief from you if we have to do that."
Jacob agrees, takes our latest 'shopping lists' and after wishing us luck, he leaves.
"Pack the ship. We'll need food and medical supplies. Daniel and Sam, you see to them. Then bring your green BDUs - it's a temperate planet according to this. We'll want our night gear too, so black and green camo paint and the clothes to go with it. Teal'c, you'll need to cover up your tattoo by the time we get there. That gold shines out in the dark. Come with me first, we'll need to go and get some weapons loaded."
O'Neill is giving his orders but his face is not registering any emotion at all. I do believe that he is not very happy about this.
"You are letting Daniel come with us?" I ask.
"Would you want to tell him 'no'?"
"I see your point."
"He'd kill me, Teal'c. He won't let us down."
"No, he will not. But it may be upsetting for him."
"He's strong, he'll get over it," O'Neill sighs. Then he quietly adds, "Just like he's gotten over everything else."
The Tok'ra really seem to like kicking us in the nuts, don't they? Okay, I can kidnap a version of Jack, heaven only knows I've done that a few times with my own version of Jack - but kill him? I don't think I can.
I know it's not him, but if it is a clone, then it is him, or at least genetically. Let's hope that this O'Neill, Joc'nel as I should think of him, doesn't know what the real one does. At least all of the codes were changed in the computer back home, so if he did know something, it's not as if he'd be of much use. The layout of the place seems known to the various snakes anyway, Hathor managed to recreate it pretty well, and Nirrti had as much access as she wanted when she was phase shifted.
I guess it's a matter of not knowing but hoping for the best. Kind of like when we had... our... doubles... JACK!
"Daniel? What's wrong?"
"What if it's not a clone? What if it's an android? Harlan was left on his own, wasn't he? He wouldn't be able to protect himself from an all-out attack. Maybe a snake got in and accessed his data and created a version of you? If that's the case, there may be versions of the rest of us too."
"And, so, but..."
"JACK! Don't! You know as well as I do that it's not going to be as easy to get at an android as it will be to get to a human. Think about it. We need to know what we're dealing with. Jacob and the Tok'ra are only assuming it's a clone."
"You're right, of course. Do you have the co-ordinates for Harlan's world?"
"We have the entire gate system on Sam's laptop."
"Good, go find them. A quick trip to see Mr. Kum-bay-ah and we'll at least know with more certainty what we're letting ourselves in for."
Okay, first, find Sam. Jeez, those two are as bad as us.
"Sam, put Teal'c down and get your computer. We need some co-ordinates."
She reluctantly lets him go and goes and gets it.
"What address do you want, Daniel?"
"Harlan's world, Sam. We need to know if the clone is really an android."
"Good point. Um, let me see, P3X..."
"Got them. I wonder how he is?"
"Guess we're about to find out. I'll get a VCD and we should go there. If the clone didn't come from there, we'll have to get straight back and to Mia."
I hope that we don't wake up on those bed things this time with our doubles looking at us. The VCD didn't show any life there, but at least the gate isn't covered up. Not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing. If it was covered up, then the Goa'uld couldn't have got there, the radiation is still too bad on the surface.
We step through... and emerge to... what the fuck?
Ow, my head hurts. And I'm lying down. A quick look around and let's see... I'm on the ramp in front of the gate. Teal'c's to one side of me, and, er, yeah, the guys are next to him. Phew. We're all together and all waking up.
"Hello Harlan," Jack moans. "What in hell's name did you do to us?"
"You like the security system I installed?" he asks in that annoyingly smug way of his.
"When I saw your device coming through the stargate I thought it might be the Goa'uld coming. I couldn't have that, oh no."
"No, no, you couldn't. I guess this is going to answer our question."
"What question is that?"
"A duplicate of Jack has turned up," Daniel explains, "and we wanted to see if he was an android or a clone."
"And as you're the only android maker we know..." Jack adds rather unnecessarily.
"No, no, not from here. Oh goodness no. No androids here. Apart from me, of course."
Is it me, or is Harlan looking distinctly nervous?
"Harlan? What are you keeping from us?" Daniel demands.
Good, it's not just me.
"Keeping? Nothing! Nothing! I must go now. The systems are breaking again. Not good for you to stay. Comtraya. You must go now."
We're being ushered to the gate; this is so not like Harlan. Daniel's dialling up looking a bit dazed as he does. Even Teal'c is looking dazed.
"Did anyone think that Harlan was acting strangely?" Teal'c asks as we step through.
"Strange? In what way?" Jack asks. "He's always strange."
"I think he was hiding something," I tell them. "You don't think he did it again, do you?"
"We were on the ramp, not strapped to those beds," Daniel points out.
"Yeah, I don't suppose he's that sneaky, is he?" I ask.
They look at me, look at each other, look at me again, then they all say, "Nah."
Yeah, right. They're about as convinced as I am.
"Question is, do we go back there?" Jack asks.
"We don't really have the time, Jack," Daniel sighs. "Gut feeling is that he didn't have a hand in this. He looked horrified when we mentioned it, and not in his normal jittery way."
We're still not sure what it is, but something was definitely up back on Weird-Duplicate-World.
We've been on Mia for two days now and we're bored, confused and jumpy in equal measure. Daniel and I aren't getting any, neither are Sam and Teal'c. I don't think abstinence does us any good.
"Do you have a plan yet, Jack?" Daniel asks as he comes and sits next to me on the floor. We really need to get some proper furniture on board. A table, some chairs, that sort of thing. You can't really have a conversation on the bridge, all the chairs face forward. I'm getting too damned old to sit on the floor too.
"Plan? Not really. I've gone over the intel till it's stuck in my head, but until we get there, it's going to be hard to know exactly what we're going to do."
"Perhaps I can help," he says, not looking at me, but finding his fingernails absolutely fascinating.
"What? WHAT! NO!" I know what he means, use him as bait. "Daniel, just because I happen to find you irresistibly attractive doesn't mean that a copy of me will."
"Find me, and I quote, irresistibly attractive. End quote."
"Yeah, well, of course I do."
He's trying not to laugh, the bastard.
"Oh, good. Because I find you irresistibly attractive too, Jack."
Shit. Husky, sexy, seductive voice.
"Where are the others?"
"Off doing whatever it is they want to be doing," he says innocently. He's about to add something when he just gets a manic grin, stands up, shuts the door and ooh strips. Slowly. Oh boy.
"Stand up, Jack."
Sure, not a problem, especially as my knees are fixed. It's not just me that's standing up. All of me is standing up. He's naked. Here, on the ship, with the others around somewhere. We could get caught. Um, hang on.
"Carter? What are you doing?"
"Ooh, um, Jack," she sounds a bit breathless I think, must be exercising. "Just working out," she gasps.
"Good. Keep at it. I'll see you in about half an hour. Teal'c with you?"
"UGH! Yeah, he's helping me."
"'Kay - later."
"Strip, Jack," Daniel orders. Abso-fuckin'-lutely. Clothes are off in a blink.
"Against the wall, babe."
I lean against the wall and he walks, no slinks towards me.
"Keep your hands flat against the wall, Jack. Don't you let go of it."
I can do that. I think. I'm not thinking. He's gone down, nudging my legs apart and, shit, biting my thighs. Gently nibbling up the insides as he pushes my legs further and further out. My tendons are tightening and he's licking his way up them. Oh yeah. Mouthing my balls while his fingers tickle my ass. He's put one of his fingers in his mouth, getting it wet and... ye-ah, inside me. This is his kink, getting fucked and sucked at the same time. Let's just say it's one I appreciate.
He's taken my dick in his mouth and he's humming? OOH! The vibrations are tickling, his finger is stroking and FINding the SPOT. He's FOUND it. Sucking hard now, I want to grab his head and fuck his mouth but I have to keep my hands on the fucking wall! Why do I agree to these things? He knows how to drive me insane in more ways than his normal 'talk to me and confuse me' way. I am SO gonna come, right... about... now.
I feel like I've hit the jackpot. He's caught my semen in his mouth and his hand and he's, oh shit, he's lubing his dick with it. One of my kinks.
"Face the wall, Jack. Put your hands on it and bend."
He's usually the one that likes to get roughly fucked, but sometimes, just sometimes, I need it. Like now. And he knew it. I have no fucking idea how he knows it, but each and every time I need to be taken like this, he does it. That feels so good. He's grabbed hold of my hips and he's not hanging around, just slamming into me, pulling out and slamming back in. I squeeze my butt muscles together and he freezes.
"JACK! Don't do that, unless you want me to come already?"
I'm not saying a word. Okay, I lied.
"Move it then."
He's growling, fucking me as hard as he's ever done.
"Oh Christ, Jack, you feel so fucking good. Gonna fuck you so good, babe."
He is, he keeps his word, my Daniel. Some primal grunts from him and I know he's close. I push my ass further out and he's getting in as far as he can go. More grunts turn into howls. He's coming, I can fucking feel him filling me. Oh yeah, he is so good at this.
"Ugh." He's flopped his chest against my back and his arms are wrapped around my chest and hugging me hard. "Love you, O'Neill," he whispers.
"Love you, Jackson."
My ass is sore. Who wants chairs?
I believe that O'Neill and Daniel have had sex. O'Neill winced when he entered the bridge and sat on the command chair. Samantha should really try not to look so guilty, it will 'give the game away' as she says. I do not believe, however, that the men will either notice or care. Neither should they. They have 'given the game away' on many occasions.
"We'll be there soon, guys. We'll see where the sun is in comparison to the gate's position, then wait till it's dark before we go down."
"Should we enter the atmosphere on the other side of the planet, Jack?" Daniel asks.
"Good idea. As long as the planet as a whole isn't populated, it will hide our entry."
"Do you have any ideas, yet?" Daniel asks gently. Why? I do not know.
"Not really, Daniel. Well, I have one, but I think I'll hold that in reserve."
"You want me to...?"
"No, Daniel. You're not putting yourself in danger, not this time."
"Jack, don't you dare!"
"Hey, like I said, I'm keeping it in reserve."
Samantha and I watch as this verbal tennis match takes place. Neither of us really knows what is going on, but I fear that O'Neill may be volunteering to be placed in danger so as to deflect the attention from Daniel. This is as unacceptable as Daniel getting hurt. We will have to come up with a different idea.
"O'Neill. We will observe the movements of this impostor. If he is not under heavy guard, we may be able to do a smack and speedily depart."
He grins. "That's 'hit and run', Teal'c," he says with a grin.
I knew that. O'Neill, I think, knew that too.
If Jack thinks he's putting himself at risk, he has another think coming. I'll kill him if he gets hurt. No, there has to be another way, there just has to.
"We are in the system," Teal'c announces.
We head through an asteroid belt similar to the one in Earth's system and to the fourth planet from the sun. It's more green than Earth, not as much ocean. Certainly nothing like as much as on Remoc. It only takes us a matter of minutes and we cross the system. Wish the broken down wreck we had when we were chasing that asteroid had been as fast as this.
"We'll have to wait about six hours, guys," Sam announces as she checks out the position of the gate.
We've decided we'll wait in space rather than on the planet just in case the cloaking device packs in. The less time there, the less likelihood we'll have of being be spotted. She sets the controls to warn us of any incoming ships or other trouble (we are cloaked, of course) and then we all head off to get something to eat.
"Yep, we're definitely going to get a table and some chairs," Jack announces as we sit on the floor together to eat our meal. "Maybe we can make some like we did for the cabins."
"You'd have to bolt them to the floor," Sam says. "Just in case you lost the artificial gravity. They'd start to float around."
The witch! Her eyes are twinkling and Jack is blushing. Teal'c looks oblivious but then he's good at looking like that. I'll get my own back.
"We could do with some exercise equipment, maybe stick a mat to the floor of the cargo hold?"
Now it's her turn to blush. Gotcha. Hell, even Teal'c is looking uncomfortable. I think Jack has picked up on the meaning. Oh yeah, he's smirking. No more being picked on by Sam, methinks.
We've landed. It's dark and we can't see our hands in front of our faces. There's no moon for this planet, so no natural light (starlight doesn't cut it when you want to see). We can't use flashlights or we'll be seen, so we're relying on our night-vision goggles. They're effective, but the world looks weird when it's green at night.
We've parked the ship about a mile or so from the settlement, according to the sensors. There are lots of trees here; looks kinda like British Columbia on steroids. They're big. Huge in fact. Just hope Jack doesn't want me to climb one. I'd tie him to one but I don't have enough rope.
Put that thought out of your head, Jackson. You have to concentrate on the job in hand. No - stop it! Jeez, man, you have sex on the brain. Which is, coming to think about it, a strange place to want to have sex.
I'm at it again. I really have to concentrate.
Like everything else, the walls here are huge. They must be at least thirty feet up. We are never going to get in that way.
"Jack? What are we going to do?"
"I don't know, Daniel. Um, I guess we'll have to find the gate and see if we can sneak in."
This gets better and better. They must know we're coming, after all, what's the point in cloning Jack if not to catch us. I wonder who's behind this? Yu is the only snake we know that knows we're out here and working, and though he's the more thoughtful, scientific kind, I don't see him doing this. He's more direct, more in-your-face. If he wanted us dead he'd have killed us straight away when he caught Jack and me that time, he certainly wouldn't have just held us. He's not one of those posturing villains in B movies, he's way smarter than that.
So, which snake? Anubis maybe? He seems to be the sneaky sort. There aren't many of the big names left. Zippy wouldn't have the brains to do this without help, Osiris would though. Maybe it's him?
The gates are closed. There's a surprise. Now what?
"Okay," Jack says in despair. "Back to the ship. I think we're going to have to tackle this differently."
Differently, Jack says. Just how are we supposed to do this? We know it's a trap. Chances are they know we know it's a trap. So, anything we do to distract them, they'll be expecting and will not pay too much attention to it, maybe sending a token guard out or something. It's going to have to be something they're not expecting.
"We have two choices that I see, O'Neill," Teal'c says. "The first one is that we create so many distractions at the same time that they will not know which one to ignore, thereby spreading their forces out very thinly."
"Sounds good, Teal'c. The other?"
"You walk in there and surrender while we stay out here and then come to your rescue."
"I do NOT like that option," Daniel yells, unsurprisingly.
"The disadvantage of the first option is that they will know for certain that the entire team is here. If we were to drop O'Neill off at a nearby planet with a gate and he was to come here on his own while we arrive covertly in the ship, they will not be completely sure of our presence."
"And just how are we going to get to rescue him when he's captured?"
"That will have to wait until the Goa'uld arrives to collect him or Joc'nel sends him through the gate."
"This is assuming that Jack is the target, guys. It could be any one of us. Most people don't know we're out here, Teal'c, but word may well have got out that you left the SGC. They could be after you, using Jack's copy to pique your interest and bring you here, maybe with Bratac."
Daniel's got a point. Trouble is, we just don't know what's going on.
"I agree with Daniel," Jack says, then backs his statement up. "I don't want anyone getting separated from the rest of us. We're a team, guys. I know we've had to split and do things on our own occasionally, but unless lives depend on it, you can forget that option. Not one of us is expendable, not one of us. We'll go with box number one, I think. Talking of boxes, let's go and play with our box of tricks in the cargo hold. Your little escapade on the planet-of-the-phase-shifters has given me an idea."
It has? Ooh goody! I get to play again.
"We still need to know how many people there are, how many guards and so on, Jack, so we can plan properly," Daniel points out.
Jack looks back at him and grins.
"How do you feel about climbing one of the trees nearest to the settlement, Daniel?"
Daniel drops his head in his hand and moans.
"You mean I have to do it in the dark, with those goggles on? Those trees are huge, Jack, they're bigger than redwoods. I've never climbed anything so big before."
"True, but I think you can do it, Daniel. There are plenty of branches reasonably low down. We'll get you up to the first one."
"Okay, okay, guess I'll have to do it, won't I?"
He's gone off to get something, what I don't know.
"Carter, while we're getting him up a tree, you go through our stocks and see what you can come up with. We'll need to make lots and lots of diversions. Not necessarily big enough to damage things badly, we're not vandals, but enough to make sure that they send troops out of the town."
"On my way."
Daniel's looking at me as if he's going to kill me. We're back out and looking for a suitable tree somewhere near the gate. He hates heights, but he won't say anything and he won't let us down.
"Here. This one," he whispers.
We're all very quiet, creeping through the forestry and trying not to make much of a sound. He's got a rope encircling him. I'm not sure what he's got planned with that - I'm guessing it's not make out time though.
Teal'c and I have lifted him up so he's standing on our shoulders. Ah! He's just flung a rope around the nearest branch above him, he's got one end tied to his waist and the other end has come down to us. We pull and he's up on the branch. Good thinking Daniel.
He's pulled the rope up to him, it's not long enough for us to get him all the way up, but the branches are close enough now for him to climb them. It's wrapped around him again and now he's on the move, silently ascending till I can't see him anymore. The foliage is hiding him from our view - let's just hope it's hiding him from the enemy's too.
A whisper comes through on the comms. He can see over the wall.
"It's an ordinary town, Jack. There's a market square, shops, houses. A guard room or small barracks I think at the gatehouse. You and the guys should look around the side of the wall and see if there's another way in. I can't see anything from here.
"There's no one in the town square, Jack. It's dead. A few lights are on in the houses but that's it. I can see the place that Joc'nel is likely to be, not a palace as such but there's an imposing building on the side of the square opposite the gate. Hmm, there are a couple of guards there too.
"Dammit, Jack, I think I'm better off coming here in daylight. We can't get an idea about numbers of troops till we see them for sure. Short of breaking into the barracks I can't see how else we'll do it."
"Okay, Daniel. Come on down. We'll set a few surprises tonight and then sneak back up the tree in the day. This looks like it's going to be a mission that takes some time."
"On my way."
We wait for a few minutes and then we hear a quiet rustling above us. He's secured his rope to the second highest branch and he's lowering himself down.
"Why have you got that stick, Daniel?"
He's tied a stick to the end of the rope and now he's... throwing it into the tree? Onto the lower branch.
"It'll be there in the morning Jack. I only have to knock it out of the tree with another stick and I can climb up on my own, leaving you guys to do your thing if necessary. This way, it isn't likely to be seen."
"Good thinking. C'mon, let's see what Sam's found."
We have copious supplies of smoke grenades, Goa'uld shock grenades, C4 and detonators. After our meeting with Ferretti, we received a delivery of the explosive.
It would appear that the Tok'ra have learned how to make it (it was difficult for the SGC to keep 'losing' supplies) and also the detonators. O'Neill is delighted with it. The Tok'ra version is enhanced with naquada. We need only use minuscule amounts to cause the same damage that the packs of plastic explosive cause. The detonators are nothing more than small buttons that we can control remotely.
O'Neill spent an entire day on another island 'learning' how to use it. Daniel was sent back to ours so O'Neill could 'play on his own'. He was very nervous and paced a lot until he got the call to pick O'Neill up. O'Neill came back 'as happy as a pig in shit' as Daniel put it, though why a pig would be happy in those circumstances I do not know. I was led to understand that they prefer their sties to be kept clean.
"Let's go and make some firewood," O'Neill announces.
We leave the sanctuary of the ship and creep out to the trees. We choose the trees carefully and place the C4 (as O'Neill continues to call it for simplicity) on one side of the trunks. We have also placed some on the frame to the town gates, hidden in the cracks between the frame and the walls.
And now? Now we are walking around the walls, placing larger amounts in the gaps between some of the older stones, where they have been chipped and damaged. Our plan would seem to be to create as much confusion as possible.
Now we are going back to the ship to rest. Daniel will need to climb the tree again in daylight to confirm his opinions and also to film the layout of the town. The more information we have, the better.
"Are you okay? You've been quiet."
"I am concerned, Samantha. I am afraid that both O'Neill and Daniel will want to protect each other."
"You're thinking they won't want to protect us?"
"Not at all. They would both rather die than allow harm to come to either of us, I am positive about it. No, my fear is that O'Neill would allow himself to be captured rather than put Daniel at risk, and the other way around. Daniel may be sure that O'Neill's clone will be interested in him also, and can be taken by Daniel using himself as bait. Either option is not a good one."
"You're right. Daniel told me that Jack's got something up his sleeve and that he's worried sick. I think he may be planning a pre-emptive strike."
"We will have to watch them both."
"That we will, sweetie. Come on, I don't know about you, but I could do with some sleep."
"I need to meditate, but I will sit with you, Samantha."
She smiles at me, puts her hand out and we retire.
"Jack, will you stop pacing, please."
"Ach, sorry, Daniel, I'm just a bit on edge."
"Thanks for the info, I'd never have guessed."
"Sarcasm doesn't suit you, Daniel."
"Jack, I'm worried too. C'mon, we'll be okay. We're SG-1!"
Thanks for reminding me, babe. I'd start to seduce him but to be honest, I don't really feel like it. That has got to be a first.
"Jack, let's go and rest. I need to sleep if I'm going to be up a tree later. It's already getting light out there."
"Yeah, you're right. Lead on."
We go to our sleeping area. We've decided to split it from the others, specially for long trips. The guys don't mind Jack and me snuggling, and we don't mind them doing it either, but we have a habit of starting things in our sleep, and that's not really acceptable. Also, I think that Jack was embarrassed that he'd woken up snuggled with Sam coming back from the Mayans.
I've pulled him into my arms and I'm holding him tightly, stroking his back until he starts to settle. He's strung up tighter than a harp.
"Jack, lay on your stomach, hun."
"You need a back rub."
I've got his shirt off and he's lying face down. I'm running my hands over his shoulders and down his spine, trying to work out his 'worry knots' as he calls them. He loves it when I do this, and I love to do it really.
We spent all our time on Earth hiding out, making the most of opportunities to make out, so taking care of each other like this was not something we had much time to do. But now I can do it, and sometimes he lets me. Just as sometimes I let him take over and do the thinking and caring for me. It's hard.
We're both terribly independent, but we've come to rely on each other so much that I can't bear to think that one day I may well lose him - or he may lose me. It's going to happen one way or the other; maybe, if we're lucky, it will be old age that gets us. Most likely it will be a snake. If he's taken from me I think, no I know, that I will die. I won't need to kill myself, my heart will break and do it for me.
Shit, I'm getting maudlin again. I often get like this when I'm afraid; most especially when I'm afraid for Jack.
He's sleeping, his breathing has evened out, he's resting his head on his hands and he's out cold. I'd say he's dead to the world, but I don't want to think that way. I don't really want to think at all, I just want to sleep too. But I can't. I'm afraid. I'm not afraid that I'll get hurt, and, God help me, I'm not afraid for Sam or Teal'c. I should be, but I'm not. I'm afraid for Jack.
He's moving, turning onto his side, still sleeping. I love to watch him sleep. It's the only time he's not worried about his 'kids'.
"I'm coming, love. I'll just lie here, 'kay?"
His head is on my chest and I'm holding him again. I'm never going to let him go either.
I can see him. The clone, that is. He's arrogant, striding through the market square, his troops (not Jaffa, they're carrying spears by the looks of things) clearing his path. He's not my Jack. No way. My Jack can be arrogant when he wants to be, my Jack can be a pig if he wants to be. But my Jack wouldn't have pushed a kid from under his feet, wouldn't have yelled at an old woman either, wouldn't have ordered a man put to death for shouting back. No way. I can do this now. This isn't my Jack.
Daniel's back on board Mia, loading up the camera's images to the computer. He looks determined, defiant even. He has the same look that he gets when he's facing down snakes.
"Daniel?" Jack's picked up on this.
"Don't feel bad if we have to kill this bastard son of a bitch," Daniel growls. "He's not you, Jack. He's nothing like you."
Jack's about to make some sort of flippant remark but Teal'c and I shoot him a look. He really picks up on Daniel's mood and just puts his hand on Daniel's shoulder instead. Daniel's just had a sense of humour bypass. Anyone cracks a joke now is liable to wake up dead.
"See? Look at him."
He's right. No way is this guy modelled on Jack in any way other than his looks. What a pig! Jack's looking quiet.
"Jack? What's wrong?"
"It's weird, watching this guy acting this way. He's me, ya know?"
We all tell him no, but he raises his hands.
"You guys didn't know me back in the beginning. Daniel, you knew me then, you know I can be like this."
"You can be," Daniel admits quietly. "But you aren't. You were never this bad, Jack."
"No Jack. When Kawalsky was about to beat me up, you stepped in, you stopped it. You wouldn't let someone behave like it."
"I didn't understand you back then," Jack whispers. "I thought you were weak. My mistake." He snorts and shakes his head.
"It took me a long time to figure you out, Daniel. I got a clue that time you took the blast for me. You hate violence and don't fight unless you have to. That was the big difference between that Jack and this one. Back then I'd fight over anything and everything. I never questioned it, just did what I thought I had to do. But you stepped in, showed me what I could be like, taught me to be this Jack, Daniel. You.
"Joc'nel hasn't got a Daniel. He hasn't got someone to guide him the way I've had. I could be like him, like Joc'nel. He is me - a part of me I don't like very much and a part of me I locked away when I met you. Before I was with Sara I was every bit as arrogant and nasty as this guy. She knocked a lot of it out of me. You finished the job - and I'm glad. I hated myself back then."
I don't think that Jack realises that Teal'c and I are still with him. He's staring into Daniel's eyes as if he's looking for something.
"You had just lost Charlie, Jack. You were empty back then, you weren't bad. You were hurting."
"True. But I was like it before, Daniel. Believe me, this clone, it's like he's me, but the worst side of me. You have to understand this. He's dangerous. He's a killer. If I hadn't ended up doing what I was doing, I'd have likely ended up in jail. I was bad, Daniel. You must believe this."
"We all have that side in us, Jack. I was shown it in the dream that Shifu gave me. You have no idea how cold and calculating I can be. So I do understand, babe, honest."
They reach out to each other and now they're holding on to each other tightly. I look at Teal'c. He understands them too, I think. He's done many things in a much longer past that he's not proud of.
I wonder if I have that side in me? I don't know. Maybe I do. Maybe everyone does. If Daniel has it in him to be cold and calculating then I guess everyone does, because I don't know anyone more forgiving than him.
It's nightfall. Nearly time to go and put our plan into action. Daniel's thought that Teal'c is the target is worrying me. I'm beginning to think that he's right. I'd ask Teal'c to stay behind but he'd be offended, and to tell the truth, I don't want to do this without him. I need him there.
We're geared up. We're in our black clothes, our sneakers, camouflage make-up on, Teal'c's tattoo is blanked out. He's got his staff weapon, we have our zats and knives. I hate seeing Daniel like this. He isn't supposed to be in this position. He's a man of peace, of words, not of violence and weapons. But he's determined to go through with it. It isn't as if he hasn't done it before, it isn't as if he hasn't killed. I wish it wasn't so.
Maybe, in another, alternate universe, the snakes were wiped out before Daniel opened the gate. Maybe, that Daniel is happily traipsing through the galaxy, doing his meet and greet, never getting into more than a skirmish caused by a misunderstanding. Maybe.
Out of Mia and we're heading to Daniel's tree. We'll all go up there and then set the surprises off. In the confusion, we're hoping to sneak in and to the clone's stronghold.
Silently, we're using the rope Daniel tied to get us up there. That was a piece of good thinking. We're hidden by the foliage now and we can watch. We wait for the people to disappear from the streets. The guards are back in their guardroom, the lights are going from the houses one by one. None of us have spoken, we're not even really looking at each other. Daniel's next to me, holding my hand for a moment, telling me in his touch that he loves me. I'm hoping he's getting the same message back.
It's time. I look at them and nod. Then I get out the remote and press the first button.
The skies have lit up. In front of the gate an entire row of trees exploded. Branches and splinters are going everywhere. What's left of the trunks is falling down. One of them has smashed into the town wall. Wow, it's broken the stone. I knew those trees were big, but the walls are thick! People are running from their houses, the guards have come piling out of the guardhouse. Some are running to the gate, some are running to the clone's place.
I press button number two. The gate frame shatters and the huge gates come tumbling down. Ew. A couple of guards didn't get out of the way. Ah well, two less to deal with. More guards are running out now, only partly dressed in some cases. They're confused. Button number three sets more explosions off in trees on a different side of the town. Button four takes out parts of the wall.
Joc'nel has come out of his hiding place. It's time for the grand finale.
Button five. The largest explosions of all now. We've taken down a couple of the sides of the town walls, masonry flies everywhere. It's not pretty.
We get down from the tree, head to a far part of the wall and sneak into town unseen.
"Where to?" Daniel asks as quietly as he can in all the noise and confusion.
"His place. Let's see what we can find out. If we can find out which snake it is, we don't have to worry about taking him to the Tok'ra."
They get my meaning. We can assassinate him instead.
We're hiding as we go, creeping through the shadows, avoiding running and screaming people. I didn't want to hurt the townsfolk, I don't think I did. It's more superficial damage really, enough to scare and confuse. It's certainly doing that.
We're at the building that Daniel saw the clone go into. It's not mediaeval, but something like it. Big doors and thick walls, a long corridor with large, arched wooden doors leading to rooms on either side. Given the spaces between them, I'd say that the rooms are about thirty to forty feet wide. There are stairs, huge wooden spiral stairs. Leading to the bedrooms, maybe?
"Up there." I don't actually say it out loud, just give them the signal.
We're sneaking up the stairs as quickly as we can go, not making any sound. There are voices ringing throughout the entire building and the echoes are making it difficult to pinpoint the locations of the sources.
We get to a door, more impressive than the rest. There was at least a twenty-five foot gap to it from another door on one side; I'm thinking more than that on the other. This is a big room, and instinct is telling me we should go in there. I signal to them and they stop, hiding behind pillars as we hear footsteps. They get louder, then fortunately, a door opens down the hall. We wait a moment, then I use my scope and look out. The way is clear.
Daniel and Sam watch my back as I open the door slightly. Teal'c is watching over my shoulder, basically watching my front. I put the scope in, but it's dark in there and I can't see a thing. We don't hear anything either, so I push the door further open and we all tiptoe inside.
It's got to be his bedroom. For a start, there's a huge bed in here. It looks imposing, grand, the sort of bed you'd expect the lord of the manor to have.
We look around, we've got our night-vision goggles on so we don't draw attention to ourselves. There are clothes here, my size, more confirmation that this is Joc'nel's place.
I hear footsteps and an angry voice coming towards us. I warn the others.
"Hide!" O'Neill hisses.
We all slip into the shadows in the room, hiding behind curtains and cupboard doors. The main door opens and the clone has entered, a lackey following him and picking up his robe as he throws it to the floor. Lights go on, they look electric to me.
"I want whoever is responsible found! I will NOT tolerate this sort of terrorism. YOU will find the culprits and I will take great delight in finding out the reasons for their acts. The goddess will not be pleased with you or your people."
Goddess? I wonder which one?
The clone continues to rave; his servant, more likely his slave, is cowering beside him. Finally, he has been dismissed.
We are in trouble. He has just gone to the closet wherein Daniel Jackson is hiding.
"Oh, hello. I wonder could you help me? I was looking for the kitchens and I must have taken a wrong turn. Could you direct me there please?"
It is often a point of amazement to me that Daniel Jackson is still alive.
"Who are you? And what are you doing in my closet?"
"Um, coming out?"
I hear a quiet snigger beside me. I fear that Samantha may have given away her position.
"COME OUT!" he commands.
O'Neill and I stay where we are, but Samantha leaves her hiding place. Somehow, most of their camouflage make-up has been removed. I think that they anticipated being caught. There are dirty smudges on them but that just makes them look as if they have been hiding in dusty places. I believe that the 'sibs' as they call each other may try to bluff the clone.
"I told you we'd get caught," she hisses at him, moving closer and then taking his hand.
"I didn't know it was his room," Daniel argues.
They have started what O'Neill calls a 'bickering contest' and Joc'nel is looking bewildered. I think that that is why they are doing it.
"ENOUGH! You will tell me who you are, and why you are here."
Daniel is managing to look about eighteen years old. He is shifting about, looking at his feet and not at the clone at all. Every so often he's casting sly glances at Samantha. She is behaving in a similar way. They are acting as if they are teenagers caught doing something that they should not be doing. Joc'nel is furious, but I do not believe he is particularly dangerous at the moment.
"You two are together?" he demands. "You are alone?"
"Well, duh! We'd hardly want an audience."
Daniel's tone is that of a rebellious teenager now. His acting is quite convincing. If I didn't know his true age I would be in difficulties trying to guess it. Samantha is also as convincing, giggling every so often and making comments like 'my dad is going to kill me'.
"An audience? Perhaps you need one. Show me what you were doing."
"WHAT?" Daniel is not impressed by this idea. Neither is Samantha. They should comply though.
"You heard me. Show me."
"If we must," Daniel replies, looking at Samantha in apology.
I feel that their body language may give them away, but I am hopeful that the clone will put this down to embarrassment on their part. Both of them will feel like they are cheating on us, their partners. I fear I will have to convince Samantha later that I am not in the slightest bit jealous. If it had been a stranger, I may have been, but not Daniel because I know just how much he truly loves her.
They kiss, just briefly.
"You came HERE for THAT?" Joc'nel is not convinced.
"Well hardly, that was just a warm up," Daniel sighs.
He pulls her to him again and this time kisses her more deeply. She has wrapped her arms around him, as he has with her. This time, it takes them a few minutes before they break.
"More," Joc'nel demands, pushing them towards the bed.
Daniel casts a glance towards O'Neill's hiding position and then I see a very small nod from Daniel. They have agreed an action, I believe.
Daniel has whispered something to Samantha. Her eyes open wide, but then I see a flash of agreement in them.
I hope to God I read Jack's look right. I'm going to do something now that will make me feel sick, I think.
"Why don't you join us?" I ask the clone, trying not to look into his eyes.
I saw them earlier. They're the same colour as Jack's, but they are cold, empty, devoid of emotion or feeling. Not warm and chocolatey like Jack's. Not loving and kind. I don't want to see those eyes in my dreams when I should be seeing Jack's.
"Yeah. C'mon. You'll love it."
I move behind him and shut my eyes, trying to pretend for a moment that this is Jack. But he even smells different. He's been sweating. My Jack smells salty when he's in this state, this one smells acidic. It's no good, I can't do this. But I have to.
I start to kiss his neck and nape, letting him know what I have in mind. I need to completely distract him so that Jack can do whatever it is he has in mind.
Sam's cottoned on, she's pulled her shirt off and she's just in a bra now. Not bad, Sam, you're nearly distracting me. She's wet her finger and she's trailing it over her breasts. Joc'nel can't take his eyes off her, but he's reacting to my touch too, writhing as I kiss the places that drive Jack insane. He's definitely distracted. I look over to Jack. His eyes flick to the bed. He wants me away from Joc'nel, I think.
I move, he grabs hold of me.
"Where are you going?" he demands.
I walk backwards, pulling my own shirt off. Now I'm on the bed next to Sam. Sorry, Sam, I'm going to have to kiss you again.
I see that Jack has a zat in his hand. I'm going to have to make a noise to cover for him powering it up. Sam and I kiss, I run my mouth up to her ear.
"Get noisy," I whisper.
My hands start to stroke her body and hers do the same to mine. We're moving, making lots of noise, groaning, crying out. Jack nods. He's about to do whatever it is he has in mind.
Joc'nel can't wait anymore. He's taken a step towards us. Blue light flashes from two directions and he's hit the deck.
"Crap!" Jack yells. "He's dead dammit! I only wanted to stun him. Why did you fire, Teal'c?"
"I did not know that you were about to fire, O'Neill. I am sorry."
"Yeah, well, it's done now."
He's fired again and made Joc'nel disappear. I can't say I'm overly sorry about that.
Sam and I are off the bed and getting our shirts on.
"Um, Teal'c, Jack, we're sorry, it was the only..."
"AHT! You two did what you had to do to survive. And you did your jobs, distracting him. Don't worry about it," Jack insists.
Teal'c nods in agreement. "I too have no complaints, Daniel. Your actions kept you both alive. Joc'nel must have suspected that you were part of the actions outside and he was testing you. If you had failed the test, he would have had confirmation and killed you. If it had meant that you had to go further, I would have understood and forgiven you. You must stay alive at all costs. There is no embarrassment or recrimination between brothers. You kept my Samantha safe and for that I thank you."
Phew. I did not want to piss off the big guy.
"Thanks, guys." I want to say more but we hear more footsteps.
"Shit. What do we do now?" Jack asks.
"You're going to have to be him, Jack," I tell him.
He nods. I think he was afraid of this.
We hide while he disappears into the bathroom and washes off the camo make-up, taking one of the clone's robes with him. There's a knock on the door. Jack comes out looking just like Joc'nel, his face like thunder.
"COME!" he barks.
The man that was here before is shaking like a leaf.
"What have you found?" Jack demands.
"We found no one, lord. But there was a rope in a tree. We do not know the significance of that."
"A child's plaything most likely," Jack snaps. "Get back out there and don't come back until you have news for me. I do not want to be disturbed until the morning now. So keep the noise down."
The man bows and scrapes and backs out of the room, shutting the door behind him.
"You can come out now," Jack murmurs.
I'm so not telling Teal'c just how good a kisser Daniel is. Damn, he is good. Those noises I was making? Genuine. Jack is one lucky guy.
They're sitting on the bed together, Daniel's arm is wrapped around him, holding him tightly.
"It's okay, Jack. All you have to do is find out who this goddess is and then we can disappear."
"Easier said than done, Daniel. I don't know how to be this guy. I don't know the servants' names, I don't know what they do. I'll give us away."
"We'll be here with you, Jack. Watching you. You know that. We won't leave you."
"I know. But you guys don't know what's going on any more than I do."
"Then we'll find out. I saw what clothes these people were wearing. Perhaps I can get some and we can go and find things out. You have your comms unit. The three of us will go and snoop, you get some sleep. You've told them not to disturb you so you shouldn't leave the room till morning anyway."
All of a sudden, Jack's looking old. It's as if he's carrying the weight of the universe on his shoulders. Daniel's picked up on that. He's cast a glance at me and I nod. I know what he wants. I take Teal'c by the hand and we go to the door, carefully open it and look out. Jack's order that he's not disturbed seems to have kept everyone off this level, for now at least. I take one look back and see Daniel gently guide Jack into bed, murmuring something to him that I can't hear. Then he kisses Jack's head and comes over to us.
"We should find a laundry room," Teal'c says. Good idea. We need local clothes to fit in.
"Um, Teal'c, you shouldn't go."
Daniel's always saying stuff like this, pulling ideas out of nowhere.
"Look. My gut instinct is telling me that you are the target of this entire set-up. I don't know why, but it is. So, seeing as you are not exactly small or indistinct, I think you should hide out. And to tell the truth, I don't want Jack left alone for a moment. I need you to be with him, Teal'c, watching him for me. Sam and I will more likely find clothes to fit us and we can blend in much more easily than you."
"I am fully versed in infiltration techniques, Daniel."
Oops, I think he's hurt Teal'c's feelings. However, I'm inclined to agree with Daniel on this one. My Teal'c is a big boy and noticeable.
"Teal'c, please babe, you have to do as Daniel asks. He and I are not so obvious, for want of a better word. Most of the people here are fair-haired and fair-skinned. You stick out. I don't want you in any danger. You know I love you, don't you?"
"As do I, Samantha."
"I know, sweetie. So don't you see? By hiding out and letting Daniel and me do our jobs you'll be keeping us safe. And if Daniel knows that you are watching over Jack, his mind's going to be completely on his task."
"True," Daniel encourages. "If you're with him I never worry so much, I know you'll keep him safe. He can't be left alone now, it's not right. He's just been dropped in it from a great height and left to sink or swim. If you're there, you'll act as a lifeline. Please, Teal'c, keep him safe for me."
Teal'c is not a happy chappy. But he's gone back in the room with strict instructions to us to contact him as often as possible.
"You don't think he's jealous of me kissing you, do you?" Daniel asks.
"Nah. Anyone else doing it, I think he'd have torn them apart. But not you, honey."
"If the clone hadn't been there, it would have been fun," he whispers. I know he's just teasing me, but does he have to?
"Whoo ya. And if the guys hadn't been there, I wouldn't have stopped you."
There. That's got him. His eyes are staring at me, trying to work out if I'm joking or not. I'm not saying a word.
"Teal'c? What are you doing in here?"
"The young ones suggested that I stay with you. They fear that I may be spotted as I am rather distinctive."
They have a point.
"That you are, my friend. I'm tired, but I can't sleep."
"Lay down, O'Neill, and shut your eyes. I shall stay vigilant. I need no kel'no'reem until much later. They have promised to keep in contact with us and I shall listen for them."
"Hey T? Are you really okay about Daniel and Sam and what happened earlier?"
"I am. Despite their actions I saw that Daniel was treating her with respect. He would not have done it unless he thought it was essential."
"True. It's just they looked kinda good together, like they were meant to be together, ya know?"
"I do know. I often wondered why they did not get together on Earth."
"Could have something to do with the fact that Daniel prefers guys?"
"It may. But he loves her."
"He does. She's his big sister. He always wanted one of those. He wanted a big brother too. He doesn't want to do anything to upset you, to stop you being that for him."
The big guy looks at me slowly and cocks his head to one side.
"He could not do that. He is my young brother. As are you, O'Neill. I do not stop being family to any of my kin. I could no more stop being your brother, or his brother, than I could stop being father to Rya'c."
"Same here, buddy. Same here. They were right in a way, SG-1 always were too damned close for our own good."
"Maybe so, O'Neill. However, if we were not as close as we are, we would likely not have survived this long. If you had not come for me when captured, or patiently borne my abuse when I was brainwashed by Apophis, we would not be here now. I do not think you and the others would have done that, to that extent, if we were not this close."
"You're probably right, my friend."
I lay down, I think I really do need some rest. So do Sam and Daniel, but as they will know, this is their best chance to get clothes without being discovered. Who knows? Maybe they'll find out something else.
We've found what looks like a laundry. Fortunately for us, the whole household is in uproar so we're able to sneak about without anyone really noticing us. Sam's going through the pile of clean clothes while I watch the door.
"Got something," she hisses. "Damned dress again."
"What, for me? You know I'm not into that sort of thing."
"Shut up," she's giggling. "Dammit, Daniel, I'm so glad you weren't at the Academy with me."
"Why not? It would have been fun."
"That's exactly what I mean! I'd have been thrown out. Giggling in class, undoubtedly getting up to mischief around the grounds... I wouldn't have lasted a semester."
"Yeah, true, but what a hoot, eh? Oh oh, someone's coming."
"Quick. Get these on."
She's thrown me some nondescript clothes, a beige/sandy colour. Should help us blend into the walls because they're the same colour. I can get changed quickly when I want, just don't tell Jack that. Mind, with him around it usually takes a lot longer than is strictly necessary.
It's too late to get out of here. There's a big window, it's open.
I give her a boost and she's over the sill. I've thrown our black clothes out with her and I'm following them.
The laundry was in the basement. The land is above us, but a cutting has been made. It's narrow, about a foot wide, creating a moat-like path around the building. The actual ground level is about twelve feet above us.
She puts her finger to her lips and we listen in.
The master will not be pleased. We found nothing, no person, no evidence at all. Heads will roll.
I don't envy you telling him.
Yes, well, I shall live till the morning. He does not wish to be disturbed before then.
I miss the old master; he was much kinder.
Hush! He has ears. He will hear if you speak of him this way.
It's the truth.
Margid, you are an old fool.
Maybe, but I am an old woman who has lived long and seen much, and I'm telling you that something is not right with that man. He is not human.
What rubbish are you speaking now?
Have you not seen him? Seen the way he flies into a rage for no reason? Seen how scared he is of the goddess? We're all reverent towards her, but he quakes at the mention of her name.
He is devout.
He is insane!
Margid, you will die for this.
Are you going to tell him I said it, Ferdo?
No, no, of course not. But he will hear, mark my words.
He has already killed my husband, my son and my grandson, Ferdo. Tell me, just how much harm can truly come to me? If he wishes to punish me further, he will leave me to live.
Well, that was interesting. He's scared of the goddess, eh? Now all we have to do is find out who the goddess is.
I have been trying to think which Goa'uld would be interested in me personally. I am not sure. I have had many dealings with many Goa'uld, and most would be interested in capturing the shol'va. But, if Daniel is correct, then I am the specific target. Why? And who? This is confusing.
Yu is an unlikely prospect. He is, of course, in a host of the wrong gender to be called a goddess. Osiris' persona is that of a god, even though the Goa'uld is in a female host. Hathor is dead and Nirrti has been cast out. However, Nirrti is not necessarily out of the picture, she was after all in the SGC that time. But her area of study has not been that of cloning. Maybe she has changed? Perhaps she has found someone to assist her. Nirrti would be a likely candidate.
Morrigan is another possibility. Her 'goddess' persona covers many things, but that of battle or war goddess is one. O'Neill told me that in the myths of Ireland, she was seen as the portent of death for warriors. Perhaps that is enough for her, to capture the famous shol'va warrior.
Maybe it is Kali? Or Bastet? They are both Goa'uld of renown, both System Lords with resources for this sort of venture. It really depends on their willingness to make the expenditure.
There is a noise from the corridor. I should wake O'Neill, but I think the he needs to sleep. There are times that even I feel old. O'Neill isn't really old, but he worries too much about us all.
There's a call on the comm. It is Samantha.
"Teal'c. Open the door."
I do as I am told. Never let it be said that I do not listen to my woman.
"Samantha. You have returned. Where is Daniel?"
"He's down the end of the corridor. Here are some clothes for you, just in case. It's probably still best you're not seen, babe, but if you have to be, it will take a little longer for you to be spotted in these. Put our black clothing in with the rest of our gear. I'm going back with Daniel. We're going to see if there's a temple or something to clue us into the goddess."
"Be careful. Do not become captured."
She smiles at me and then kisses my cheek.
"Won't you come to my rescue if I do?"
"Then I'm going to be just fine. Rest up now, sweetie, Daniel and I will need you to take over tomorrow." She nods at the still sleeping O'Neill as she says it. I know what she means.
"I shall. Return here as soon as you have found anything. If your way is blocked, try to get to the ship instead. Let us know."
"I will. Take care, honey."
"And you, my love."
She has gone. I hope that she will be fine.
"No, it's the tooth fairy."
"I was not aware that you were interested in teeth, O'Neill."
"You're supposed to say I'm not a fairy."
I am not answering that. He has thrown a cushion at me.
"Are they okay?"
"They are fine, O'Neill."
"Good. Get some rest."
"I shall do. As soon as you stop throwing soft furnishings in my direction."
He chuckles quietly and then I sit back down and try to meditate.
We haven't found anything that looks like a temple. Daniel's tearing his hair out.
"There should be... something! Anything to tell me who the frigging goddess is. But there's nothing."
"We'd better get back to the guys then, the sun will be coming up soon."
"Yeah, you're right. Maybe Jack will discover something later."
"It's funny that we haven't been spotted, you know."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, there's all these people around and they're not saying a thing."
"Sam, shut up. You know that's asking for trouble. Besides, they're all looking for the terrorists."
"But they don't know us."
"True, but did you know everyone in the SGC, let alone the 'Springs?"
"Um, no. You're right."
"We look the part, Sam. Hush, someone's coming."
He's pulled me into a shadow and then into his arms. If anyone finds us they'll find two lovers again.
I wonder what the goddess will say when she comes.
When is she coming?
Couldn't say for sure, but rumours were that she was due here soon. She'll come through the ring of water.
Just like Joc'nel. Only the gods come through that. Do you think that he is a god.
I think that he is a minion for the goddess and nothing more. He is afraid of her. He calls her his creator.
The gods created us all!
True, but have you heard him and the way he speaks of her? He is more devout than a priest. Will not let us talk of her, or say her name. I was astounded that we had to destroy the temple. He said that it was her wish, that we should worship her every moment of every day.
And we do!
Yes, yes, we do. But it's strange, that's what I'm saying.
The priests are that devout.
They are, but they do not lead, do not kill, do not torture.
I have seen it with my own eyes. He takes great delight in it. He even took one of the boys in front of everyone before he killed him.
You know, as if he was a woman. He was fair, blue-eyed, very pretty. It was terrible. I have seen men together in the barracks, it was nothing like that. The men in the barracks swear to live and die together, they pledge themselves to each other. He ripped this poor boy apart.
How old was he?
About sixteen summers.
A child, no more than a child.
Joc'nel said it was as punishment for his behaviour. I don't know about you, but I think that the goddess would be surprised by that.
Yes, you're right. I'm beginning to wonder if he really does this in her name or not.
Perhaps he should be stopped?
Perhaps you are right.
Oh crap. Jack's in trouble. We have to get him out of here now.
The kids have just come back to us, out of breath and looking scared.
"Jack," Daniel pants as he virtually jumps on me, "we have to get you away from here. We've overheard a number of people and we think there's going to be a revolt, at the very least an assassination attempt."
"Aw crap. That's all I need. We have to hang around to find out who the snake is, but if I do they'll think I'm the clone and try to kill me. This is not good news."
"It is not."
Teal'c makes the proclamation and we all look at him. Why? I have no idea. What is it about the guy that makes us listen to him as if his word is law? I am supposed to be the head honcho around here. Sheesh.
"Shh, there's someone coming."
Sam's got her head stuck to the door. She looks glued to it. I hope not, that would be inconvenient to say the least.
Well, duh. Nice thinking book boy. I'm gonna hide by lying in bed. Teal'c's powered up his zat, Carter's behind a curtain, her zat's powered up too, there's a knock on the door and... Daniel's just thrown his top off and jumped into bed with me.
"Shh, pretend to sleep."
What the fuck is going on in his head? I will never understand him.
"Enter!" I yell, as soon as I think I look like I haven't got out of bed.
It's that guy again.
"Ferdo," Daniel whispers.
"My lord, may I ent... oh! I am sorry. I did not wish to disturb you. Please, accept my apologies."
"You are in here now. Tell me, what news is there?"
"I am sorry lord, but there is none. I had all of the guards out last night and they found nothing and no one. It is as if the gods themselves created the havoc. Do you think that the goddess would have done this? Have we displeased her?"
Oh crap. I look at Daniel and his eyes talk to me.
"Perhaps we have," I tell him. "We should fear her. A display of our loyalty may be called for."
"She visits soon, lord. Perhaps we can show her how loyal we are to her face?"
She does? Oh goody.
"Perhaps. In the meantime, give word that I want the mess cleared. All of the people should help. There will be no other work done until the town is as it was."
I'm getting a 'that's right' look from Daniel. There are times that being able to read him comes in handy.
"Bring me some food. And some for him," I nod at Daniel. "Plenty of it. He needs to keep his strength up. I have use of him."
I give my best evil overlord laugh and a sneer. I'm getting a look back from Daniel that tells me to can it.
Daniel's also doing a very good impression of looking weak and pathetic at the moment. Keeping his arms under the covers though because if Ferdo there saw how well-built he really is we'd never have gotten away with it. I'm thinking that Ferdo is wondering where Daniel came from.
"I found him last night," I say, offering information where the servant shouldn't have any really, but I need to deflect the attention from Daniel. "He will... suffice."
"Good, good, lord. If you need... er... anything else?"
"Just the food. You may go."
He bows and then leaves, walking backwards and shutting the door behind him.
"Suffice?" Daniel says. Oh oh, I'm in trouble. "I need to keep my strength up?" I'm in deep shit. It's not just my eyes that are going to be brown in a minute.
"Hey, I had to say something. I had to make it sound like you don't want to be here, like I'm using you or..."
"Yeah. You know I didn't mean anything by it."
Yup, I was right. My hair should start turning back to brown any minute now.
The guys have come out of hiding. Sam and Daniel give me a quick rundown of what they found (nothing) and heard (little). At least we know that the guys have to watch my back (and possibly my front and sides too) and that the snake is coming soon. How soon that is though, I don't know. The sooner the better, I think.
O'Neill does not look happy. The food was delivered and we all shared it (Samantha and I hid in the bathroom as it was left). Now he is considering his options.
"You have no ideas at all, Daniel? You usually have some clue, even the slightest one."
"No, sorry, Jack. It's been wiped out, everything. I've not seen a thing that triggers a single thought. I've seen a few things like images of fruit that look like apples, the odd cow. Things that would tie these people to the land. That's not unusual. It would help if I knew the name of the settlement."
He looks at me, then Samantha, then O'Neill. We all shrug. We have no idea of it either.
"So, we see who it is, then we get the hell out of here."
That would sound like our only option.
Daniel is quiet, he is thinking I believe. I would say something, as would the others, but he has the look on his face that tells us to be quiet.
He is looking out of the window, as if he is able to see something that isn't there.
"I'm missing something," he says suddenly. "The people here are devout. Joc'nel ordered the destruction of the temple but they wouldn't have wiped out every sign of their worship. And if they are so devout, it would suggest that either their goddess is kind and benevolent, or so awful as to literally instil the fear of God in them."
"Maybe it's somewhere in-between? A goddess that had the ability to be loved but was still feared beyond reason," O'Neill encourages. "What pantheon do you think this snake has taken the persona from?"
"Not Egyptian," Daniel says. "I'm almost certain of that."
"Not Indian," Samantha says. "There's no hint of civilisation from that part of Earth."
"No, true, but that's not what I'm thinking, Sam. Look, the snakes take over each other's territory, so the racial background of the inhabitants isn't necessarily a pointer."
"So why not Egyptian, Daniel?" I ask.
He shrugs. "Gut feeling, nothing else."
His gut feelings are usually right, so I will accept that.
"Greek," he says suddenly. "I think it's going to be Greek."
"Like Cronus?" O'Neill says quietly, trying not to look at me.
"Cronus was the father of the Greek gods," Daniel says quietly. "He was supposed to have eaten all of his kids except Zeus - but then other ones were supposed to have survived, so I've never been able to reconcile the myths. Having seen the Goa'uld eating other symbiotes, I'm guessing there's a ring of truth in the one myth."
He gives a shudder as he remembers what must have been a traumatic time.
"Who were his daughters, Daniel?" O'Neill prompts.
"Oh boy, a few. Let's see. Demeter. It could be her. She was the goddess of vegetation. That would tie in with the fruit symbols I've seen. Um, it all depends on which version you believe as to which were children and which were grandchildren, you see..."
"Daniel, hush. Calm down and give me more names."
"Hestia, goddess of hearth and home."
"Doesn't ring true. You heard of a snake called Hestia big guy?
"I have not. But then my knowledge of the Goa'uld is limited."
"Maybe so, but you're the nearest thing we have to an expert. Okay Daniel, more?"
"Of course, there was..."
Samantha and I hide, our weapons powered up before the knock comes to the door. Daniel has dropped to his knees. O'Neill's face has taken on the countenance of one who is sexually frustrated. However, his cry of 'come!' has forced Daniel to swallow a snigger.
"This had better be good," O'Neill snarls. "I was just teaching my friend here a new lesson. It will teach him to deny me."
"Lord! She comes! The goddess is here!"
"Oh? Well what are you waiting for? Go and arrange everything for her. She must be made most comfortable."
"That will not be necessary, Joc'nel."
A woman's voice has come from the door. It is her. I cannot see her to work out who she is. O'Neill has flown into a rage, demanding to know why the servant had not informed him of her arrival earlier. He is playing out the role that Daniel explained to him, begging the Goa'uld's forgiveness for not attending to her sooner.
Hera. It must be her, the necklace she's wearing, it's golden peacock feathers. And her 'crown' is just as she's depicted on Earth. Why didn't I think of that before? The cow, the apple. If it turns out this place is called Argos I'm going to quit. Call myself an expert on mythology and I didn't even think of her. Jack's never going to forgive me.
I stay on my knees, but tug Jack to kneel too. He does, I whisper her name and his eyes acknowledge me. He needed to know that.
"Get up, Joc'nel, and explain how far you have got in capturing the shol'va."
"He is here, I am sure," Jack says cautiously, standing in-between Hera and Teal'c's hiding place. I can't get up off the floor yet. Why would she want him? "An attack was carried out here yesterday. Whoever it was is good, they left no trace of their presence. It must be him. Perhaps, if you gave me Jaffa, I would have the trained manpower to find him. These people here are good for one thing and one thing only."
He looks at me and I give him the nod. Whatever it is he needs to do to distract the snake, he should do it. I have a feeling I know what that's going to be.
Hera was a vengeful goddess. Not one of the sweet earth-mother-types.
"You have found a plaything, Joc'nel? Look up at me, boy!"
Oh crap. If she knows who Jack is, and she knows who Teal'c is, then she's gonna know who I am.
"Daniel Jackson," she says quietly. "I had heard that you were no longer active."
"Oh, you know me, can't keep a good guy down."
She snorts. Ew, that really didn't sound good coming from her. I wonder who's put her up to this?
"So, Hera," I say and she opens her eyes wide. Yup, I'd say I've got her name right. "What's this all about? I mean, I figured out you wanted Teal'c, who isn't here, by the way. I'm not so stupid as to bring the target of a hit with me, no matter what your clone here thinks. So, why do you want him? Seeing as you're likely to have me killed in a minute, you can at least satisfy my curiosity."
Go on. Please. Be the dumb snake. Posture, prance, tell me your evil plan to take over the universe, huh? Then at least Sam and Teal'c will know it and can help Jack out.
She's looking at me as I stare into her eyes, trying to decide what to tell me, I think.
"It won't hurt for you to know." YES! "When I capture the shol'va, my standing with the System Lords will grow. Anubis wants him to show them that he is the power in the galaxy, that he captured him. But if I do it, then it will undermine the little hataaka."
Ooh, delusions of grandeur, how novel among the Goa'uld. Shit, shouldn't have said that out loud. Ow. Her Jaffa were quick to react. At least that's given the guys info on them, I guess.
Jack's hand is on my shoulder, his fingers digging into me, telling me to shut up, if I know him. Not now, hun, I have to do this.
"I heard that you were defiant, Jackson."
"That's one way of putting it."
She's looking at Jack and now studying his face. Oh God, please don't put two and two together.
"How can I know if you are Joc'nel and not Jack O'Neill?" she purrs.
"Because Jack O'Neill is dead," I spit. "Joc'nel killed him. And for that, I'll kill your clone before you kill me."
"We'll see," she says. "Joc'nel's tastes are extreme. I heard that O'Neill was extremely fond of you, Jackson. I wonder which this is?"
"I am Joc'nel," Jack growls. I manage to catch his eye and give him my 'do it' look. Whatever it is, babe, we'll get through it.
I know that Sam and Teal'c are watching this, that they'll happily take out the snake, but she has five Jaffa with her - the servant sneaked out as soon as he could. Even if they manage to take out the Jaffa on the edges, the chances are the remaining Jaffa will get Jack and me before they finish the job. They're in the impossible position of being forced to wait.
Hera has lifted a ribbon device and is aiming it at Jack. I can't react. I want to take her out but I can't move.
I want to kill that snaky bitch. She's aiming her ribbon device at Jack. I'm afraid for the guys, really afraid.
"Take him," she tells Jack.
"I'm not in the mood."
"O'Neill would not do this," she says. "O'Neill was supposed to care for the boy." Boy? Daniel's going to be pissed. "If you do not care for him, then take him now."
She has no idea. Jack would willingly be tortured to death for Daniel. But if he doesn't do this now, Daniel's going to die and so is Jack. I'm with Teal'c in our hiding place. We can't take all the Jaffa in one go. They're too alert. God help us, the guys distracting them is the only way we're going to do this. Jack knows it too.
He's grabbed Daniel and hauled him onto the bed. Daniel's putting up a good fight. Shit. The pain in both their faces is too much.
Jack has 'subdued' Daniel. That's a joke in itself. We all know that Daniel could take Jack if he wanted to, but those that don't know him don't understand that. They'd expect him to capitulate.
I'm not going to watch the guys, not this time. When they're together normally, they love each other so much that it shows, almost like an aura. But not now.
Jack's made Daniel face down - probably so he doesn't have to see him. Oh God I heard Daniel's clothes rip.
Teal'c and I are watching the Jaffa. They're watching the men but still alert. Hera is engrossed though. We're going to have to do this soon.
FUCK! Daniel's just screamed. I'm sure he's acting, that this isn't hurting him the way he's making out. But this cannot be helping Jack at all. We hear the pounding of Jack's body into Daniel's.
Teal'c's nudged me. The Jaffa are definitely distracted now. Their hold on their weapons has loosened, Hera's hand has dropped. I signal that I'll take her, he nods. It's time to act.
We leap out of our hiding place and I get her before she knows it. Both Teal'c and I have two zats each and we're firing quickly. One Jaffa manages to get a shot off before I get him. It misses us both, thank goodness.
Teal'c dispatches all of them, Goa'uld included. She obviously didn't have a personal shield.
Shit. Jack's crying.
"Jack, it's okay, it's okay." Daniel's holding me tightly, but I'm trying to push him away. How could he say that? I just fucking raped him!
"No, keep away from me!"
"Jack, shut up and listen to me, will you?"
He's grabbed hold of my face and he's making me look at him.
"You did what you had to do to save our lives and to give Sam and Teal'c the chance to take out the snake and Jaffa. You did the right thing, Jack."
Yeah, I guess. So why do I feel like crap?
"Let's get cleaned up. Then we'll get back to Mia and go home, okay?"
I can do that. I think.
I look at Carter and Teal'c and see that they're looking concerned. Of course they should be. After what I just did to Daniel. I hurt him.
"Sam, Teal'c, make sure that the corridor's clear will you?" Daniel tells them. They leave us. He leads me to the bathroom and gets a cloth. There's blood on me.
"Daniel? You're bleeding."
"It's okay, Jack. I'll get over it. Come on, we're not going to talk about this here, we'll do it on the ship. I'm alive, you're alive, that's all that matters. I still love you."
"Do NOT do this to me, O'Neill! Don't you dare pull back from me now. I need you, you bastard. If you go to pieces on me now you'll be letting me down. Do you want that?"
"No, of course no..."
"Then shut up, get cleaned up, and we'll get back to the ship."
Orders. I can follow orders.
I fear that O'Neill is in bigger trouble than we first anticipated. A crowd of men are coming this way, armed to the teeth. And in some cases, I think that their teeth are armed. Samantha and I go back to the men, locking and blocking the door as we go.
"A mob is coming," Samantha tells them.
"Shit! Not now," Daniel snarls. "No point in explaining that Hera and Joc'nel are dead, I'm sure."
"Not really, they don't look like they're going to listen, and the cloning thing may be beyond them."
"Window. Come on, it's the only way."
I look out of the window and see a ledge about a foot or so wide. It goes along the side of the building. We have no rope on us so I can only hope that there is another way off this building. We are about forty feet in the air. We may survive a fall but even I would be badly injured.
O'Neill has pulled himself together and is at the window.
"Teal'c, you first, then you Daniel."
"Um, Jack," Daniel says, trying not to hyperventilate. "I need you with me."
"You're fine in trees."
"Yeah. Trees good, ledges bad. Don't let me down, Jack. I need you with me."
I think I know what he is doing. He has to let O'Neill know that he still needs him. O'Neill is trying to shut him out.
I slip out to the ledge, Samantha follows. We are sidling along as we make our way to the end of the building. I look and see that O'Neill has come next, undoubtedly on Daniel's insistence.
"Hold my hand Jack, please, or I'm going to fall."
"You won't fall, Daniel."
"Don't let me."
"I know. Hold me Jack. Don't let me go."
"Not going to Daniel, you can do this. You're doing great."
"I'm going to hurl."
"Not now you're not. Wait till we're on the ship."
Daniel never ceases to amaze me. He is not as afraid as he is making out, of that I am sure. We are near the end. The crowd have broken down the door to the bedroom and are now looking out of the window. Some have gone back in. Some are following. We must hurry.
The town wall is at the end of the building. This part is still intact. With a jump I believe we can land safely on it.
"Do it, Teal'c," O'Neill urges. The natives are getting closer.
I jump. Fortunately, the wall is wide. I catch Samantha as she, too, leaps.
O'Neill orders. I turn and see him trying to encourage Daniel to jump.
They look at each other and then O'Neill nods. They jump together. I catch O'Neill, he catches Daniel.
"I knew you wouldn't let me fall, Jack."
O'Neill knows that Daniel is 'playing' him, I believe, but I think that he is gratified too.
We must now find a way off this wall.
Well, somehow we did it. We ran across that wall, some natives throwing things at us as we went, but fortunately missing. Got to a broken bit of wall, scrambled down it, then ran to Mia. We're now in hyperspace. Sam and Teal'c are flying her - not that they need to but they know that Jack and I have to be alone for a bit. I've taken him to our sleeping area and sat him on the bedding.
"It's all over, Jack. Not only did we get rid of the clone, we killed the snake, found out why she did it, and then freed a people from the tyranny. Not bad for a couple of days' work, eh?"
"I hurt you."
"You kept me alive."
"I raped you."
"No. You didn't. I put up the fight because she would have expected it. You know that."
"I forced you, Daniel. No lube, nothing, I tore you apart."
"I have a sore ass. I'll live. So will you. And when my ass is better I expect you to make it up to me by making love to me slowly and sweetly."
"You shouldn't want me anywhere near you."
Fuck. This has got to stop and stop now.
Okay, I hit him. I admit it. I just curled up my fist and smacked him hard.
"Stop the fucking pity party, O'Neill. Remember you said that what I did with Sam was okay? It kept us alive?"
"And if I'd had to make love to her, you'd have said the same thing, right?"
"Yes." He's whispering now. He knows I'm right.
"Babe. I love you. I know you love me. You couldn't rape me. Because rape is about power and control, and that is something we share and share freely. And rape is about hate, and you love me and I love you. And rape is about lack of consent. I consented, Jack. The fighting was for show. If I'd really wanted you to stop you'd be singing soprano for the rest of your life. Don't you think I could take you?"
"Any day of the week," he gives me a small smile.
"I'm sorry, Daniel."
"I know. And it's all over."
"Till next time."
"Yeah, till next time. Who knows though, maybe next time will be more fun?"