Jack strolled casually into the control room as the klaxon blared its warning. He took in the slight frown on Hammond's face and glanced out the window at the closed iris.
"Not sure, Colonel," Hammond said. He glanced quickly at Jack before turning his eyes back to the monitor that displayed the gate status data. "It's an incoming wormhole, but we don't know from where."
"Still no IDC," Sergeant Davis said. "Wait.... Sir, we're getting a radio transmission."
"Put it through," Hammond ordered.
Jack grimaced as a blast of static came through the speakers. Then his eyes widened as a familiar voice followed the static.
"...repeat, this is Colonel Maybourne. Can anyone hear me?"
"Colonel O'Neill, I thought you said Maybourne was dead," Hammond said, turning to Jack.
"Did I?" Jack asked disingenuously.
"Yes, you did."
"I may have misspoken," Jack said, his eyes sliding away from the general's gaze.
"It was the arugula, sir."
Hammond made a skeptical grunt and leaned toward the microphone.
"We read you, Maybourne."
"Ah, General Hammond. Good to hear your voice again. I don't suppose Colonel O'Neill is around?"
"What do you want, Maybourne?"
"This time it's I who have something you want, sir."
"Right," Jack muttered.
"So O'Neill is there," Maybourne said.
"He is. And we both have better things to do so I suggest you get to the point," Hammond said.
"I'd prefer not to discuss this openly, if you know what I mean, General."
"I trust my people," Hammond said.
"Well, I don't."
"Oh, that's good coming from you, Harry," Jack interjected. "And while we're on the subjectwhy should we trust you?"
"Because you gave me a fair deal when you convinced the Tok'ra to take me to a new home," Harry said.
Hammond threw a blatantly incredulous look at Jack.
"The arugula, sir. You do remember the arugula?" Jack said quietly, almost desperately.
"What's your point, Maybourne?" Hammond asked.
"My point is that Jack gave me a fair shake. I'm just trying to repay the favor."
"With what?" Jack asked.
"Information. Technology. The kind of stuff you're always looking for."
"Who've you been stealing from this time?" Jack asked.
"No one," Maybourne said. "Look, JackI'm being straight with you here. This is information you want."
"What's it going to cost us?" Hammond asked.
"I'll send you a set of gate coordinates. Have Colonel O'Neill meet me there and I'll explain everything."
Hammond looked at Jack, awaiting his assessment. Jack groaned and threw up his hands before leaning toward the microphone again.
"You'd better not be screwing around with me, Maybourne. 'Cause if you are, I guarantee there isn't a galaxy big enough for you to hide in."
"Are we really going to trust Maybourne?" Sam asked the minute she sat down at the briefing room table. She hadn't forgiven Maybourne yet for zatting her in his break for freedom. And she didn't intend to anytime soon.
"He doesn't exactly have a history of honorable intentions," Daniel said. "Or legal ones for that matter."
"Maybourne would sell his own mother," Jack agreed. "But he does owe me."
"And we'll be discussing that, Colonel," Hammond said.
"Arugula," Jack coughed.
"Do you believe Maybourne is telling the truth about this information?" Teal'c asked. He hadn't yet forgiven Maybourne for the whole bug incident. And he didn't intend to. Ever.
"Knowing Maybourne, it won't be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but yeahI think he probably has something we'd like to know about." Jack sighed. "I'll go alone, sir."
Daniel's sharp, "Jack" was followed swiftly by Carter's disbelieving, "Sir" and Teal'c's grave, "O'Neill."
"I'm not sure that's wise, Colonel," Hammond said.
"Better not to risk the entire team," Jack said, "Just in case Harry is trying to pull a fast one."
"No," Daniel said firmly.
"You need back up, sir," Sam added.
"Honestly, I don't think Harry will mess with me," Jack said.
"I believe your trust is misplaced," Teal'c said.
"Maybe," Jack allowed. "But we need to find out what he's up to. If I'm not back in thirty minutessend out the search dogs."
"Jack, wait up."
Jack paused and turned as Daniel jogged to catch up with him just outside the gate room.
"What?" Jack asked.
"Are you really sure about this? About going alone? We can be ready in five minutes, you know," Daniel said.
"I know, but I'll be fine."
"Come on, Jack. This is Maybourne we're talking about. He's never exactly been number one on your hit list."
"Au contraire. At one time he was number onewith a bullet," Jack said, grinning.
"Jack," Daniel said with an exasperated sigh.
"Don't worry about it, Daniel. Harry and I have come to an understanding."
"Yeah. He doesn't shoot me and I won't shoot him." Jack paused. "Probably."
"Oh, well, that's reassuring," Daniel said dryly.
"You worry too much."
"I...I worry too much?"
"Yeah. You need to learn to relax. Chill out," Jack teased. He glanced over his shoulder in time to catch Daniel rolling his eyes. "Hey, I'll be back in a half hour."
"And if you're not?"
"Then you, Carter, and Teal'c will just have to come pull my nuts out of the fire."
"Yeah?" Jack asked as he looked down to double check his gear. "What is it, Daniel?"
"I don't care how hot your nuts get, I'm not touching them."
Jack's head snapped up. He stared at Daniel but could only see his back as he casually strolled out of the gate room. Jack then glanced furtively around, studying the faces of the S.F.'s for any signs of amusement.
"No, sir," Jack said, looking up into the control room at Hammond.
"Then you may proceed when ready."
"What is it?" Jack asked the moment he stepped out of the gate.
"Jack, I'm hurt. No 'hello'. No 'how are you'?" Maybourne said in a mocking tone.
"Maybourne, you've got exactly five minutes to convince me I shouldn't turn right around and go back through that gate," Jack said, making a point of checking his watch. "Otherwise I'm turning right around and going back through that gate."
"Technology," Harry reminded him.
"Where? What kind? Who has it?"
"It's about a day's walk from here. And yeswe'll have to walk. They live in a pretty deserted area and vehicles would attract too much attention."
"They who, Harry?"
"To be honestI'm not entirely sure. No one ever sees them, not up close."
Jack just stared suspiciously at Harry.
"I'm telling you the truth, Jack."
"How do you know they have technology if you've never gotten close?" Jack asked logically.
"They can become invisible. Now the locals think it's magic but we both know it doesn't take magic to become invisible." Harry smiled at the unmistakable interest Jack showed at that bit of information.
"We've met aliens with nifty gadgets before. We've met aliens with the ability to become invisible before. Not one has ever shared that technology," Jack said with a scowl. "What makes you think these folks will be any different?"
"All the advanced civilizations we've met before have been, wellcivilizations," Harry said. "Large. Powerful. Lots of pesky laws and nosey politicians. This is a small group. They're isolated. Vulnerable."
"So you figure we can just beat them up and take their toys?" Jack asked.
"Not necessarily, although I'm not averse to that method."
"Obviously," Jack said sarcastically.
"I just figured you'd have a better chance of working out a deal with a small group," Harry continued.
"Okay, well, the next logical question is: why haven't you tried to work out a deal yourself?"
"I'm a nobody, Jack. They're not going to deal with me," Harry said. "You, on the other hand, as an official representative of another planet...."
"Uh huh," Jack grunted skeptically.
"It's up to you, Jack. I thought this would be an interesting proposition for the SGC. And the truth isthese people have attracted some attention. They're going to need an ally they can trust. I know for a fact that at least one unscrupulous group is looking to beat them up and take their toys."
"And I figure you can use that bit of information as a bargaining chip," Harry said smugly.
Jack let out an exasperated breath as he stared out into the distance taking in the slightly purple hue of the sky. The stone and metal of a nearby city gleamed dully under the morning sun. Finally he turned, walked the DHD and started dialing.
"Does this mean you believe me?" Harry asked.
"This means I'm curious enough to at least check it out."
"Major Carter, Teal'c," Harry said politely.
The two members of SG-1 gave Harry curt nods in greeting before walking down the steps to survey their surroundings.
"What the hell?" Harry said, his mouth gaping in shock as the last member of SG-1 arrived.
"Which way, Harry?" Jack said once he knew the rest of his team was through the gate safely.
"Which way are we going?"
"Er...that way," Harry said, gesturing vaguely toward the city, his eyes still fixed on Daniel.
"Right. Move it out," Jack said, sliding his sunglasses into place.
Sam and Teal'c brushed past Maybourne, each giving him a look that said that they were not going to tolerate any funny stuff. Daniel gave Harry a bemused glance as he walked past.
"Maybourne seems a little...disconcerted," Daniel observed as he fell into step with Jack.
"Yeah, you'd think he'd never seen a dead guy before."
"So...where are we?" Daniel asked, looking around as they entered the city a half hour later.
Most of the buildings were of brick or stone, and wouldn't have looked particularly out of place on Earth. The streets were stone, too, and narrow. Small, quiet vehicles moved along the streets with little room to spare.
"Sam...?" Daniel said.
"They're some kind of hovercraft," Sam said immediately, gazing longingly as one of the vehicles hummed past.
"Cool," Jack said, leaning over slightly so that he could see the gap between the vehicle and the ground.
"This way," Harry said, leading them onto one of the pedestrian paths that ran parallel but separate from the streets.
Daniel couldn't help but gaze curiously at the native people bustling along the walkway.
"Colonel Maybourne, you have not yet answered Daniel Jackson's question," Teal'c prompted.
"What? Oh, right. Well, the city is called Pankeer," Harry told them. "Actually, the planet is, too."
"This is the capital city?" Daniel asked.
"Not really. There are a number of...I guess you'd call them city-states. Pankeer is one of the larger ones," Harry said. "They're all loosely affiliated but each one has its own government."
"Political affiliations?" Daniel asked, tearing his eyes away from the local architecture to look at Harry. "Economic...or what about military ties?"
"Focus, Daniel," Jack interrupted.
"I am," Daniel said with a puzzled frown.
"On the mission," Jack said with exasperation.
Daniel gave a long suffering sigh but he let the question of Pankeer's socio-political structure drop and concentrated on trying to guess the origins of the apparently human inhabitants.
"So, Harry.... What the hell have you been up to anyway?" Jack asked as they hiked on toward the east side of town.
"I live here," Harry said with a casual wave of his hand.
"Which does not answer my question," Jack said.
"I'm in law enforcement."
Jack stopped dead and turned to stare at Harry.
"What's so strange about that?"
"Well, it's just that you're more likely to break laws than uphold them," Daniel pointed out.
"I have exactly the kind of training they want in their officers," Harry said. He took in the continued disbelieving stares of SG-1. "Okay, so it's a bit of a stretch, but the fact is that I'm legit these days."
Jack snorted but started walking again. After a couple of blocks, Harry turned off onto another pedestrian path. After several minutes they reached an empty square housing a circular platform. Jack walked around it, eyeing it suspiciously.
"What is this?" Sam asked after a cursory look.
"This, my friends, is our transportation to the moon."
"Moon?" Jack said, his guard up instantly. "Nobody mentioned a moon."
"You didn't ask," Maybourne said with a shrug.
"You said it was a day's walk," Jack argued.
"And it is. From the transporter."
"Why are there no guards on this device?" Teal'c asked.
"No need. The transporter only goes to one place. Not many people are interested in traveling to the moon, but those who are can come and go as they please."
"How does it work?" Sam asked.
"You just push the button," Harry said, pointing at a pedestal at one corner of the platform.
"I mean what physical principle does it work on?" Sam said, giving Harry an annoyed look. "What's its power source?"
"It doesn't look like Goa'uld technology," Sam said, studying the platform more closely.
"I agree," Teal'c said, circling the platform in the opposite direction from Jack. "It is not in any way familiar to me."
"Is it local technology?" Sam asked, turning to Maybourne.
"No, I don't think so."
"Who then?" Sam asked. "Sir, I'd really like to study this...."
"Carterfocus!" Jack suggested.
"But...I am, sir," Sam said with a sly grin at Daniel.
"Yeesh," Jack muttered.
"Is the moon part of the Pankeer political system?" Teal'c asked.
"Not really. The moon is sparsely inhabited, and the people are less developed, technologically speaking. They prefer to be left alone and frankly they don't have anything worth the effort of annexing them."
"Harry, you said they had advanced technology," Jack reminded him.
"Ah, the people we're interested in do. But they're just one small, isolated group."
"So...they're some sort of separatists?" Daniel asked.
"In a manner of speaking. They're not native to the moon or this planet," Harry said. "I don't know for sure when they showed up, but it must've been relatively recent."
"And you don't know anything more about them?" Sam asked.
"Just that they are very secretive."
"What do you know of the group you claim will attempt to attack the people we seek?" Teal'c asked as SG-1 and Maybourne made their way across the moon's surface.
They were en route to a hulking gray cliff wall that towered over the forested land between it and the transporter.
"As far as I know there are only three, possibly four men."
"Who are they?" Sam asked.
"You might call them dealers."
"In what?" Jack prompted.
"Weapons mostly, but anything they can make a profit at, they'll trade."
"Are they from the moon or Pankeer?" Daniel asked.
"Neither," Harry said. "In fact, they're from Earth."
"All right," Jack snapped, turning and walking back until he was right in Maybourne's face. "There was no mention made of anyone else from Earth."
"Who are they?" Sam asked again more forcefully.
"Former colleagues," Harry admitted.
"That's it. I am going to shoot him," Jack announced.
"Jack," Daniel said quietly.
He put a restraining hand on Jack's shoulder before turning his attention to Maybourne.
"Are you saying they're N.I.D? Part of your off world operation?"
"They were," Harry said.
"Wait," Sam said. "You said you gave us the names of everyone in your group."
"He lied," Jack interjected.
"No surprise there," Daniel muttered.
"Come on, you didn't really think I'd give you everything?" Harry said, incredulous.
"Yes, I did. You took an oath," Jack said.
"Sir," Sam said.
"I know," Jack said, throwing his hands up in disgust.
"Hey," Harry protested. "I was looking at the death penalty whether I gave up everything or not. Where was the incentive?"
"Incentive?" Jack snapped. "I'll give you incentive."
"Look, I'm sure this has the potential of a real knock-down drag-out and as exciting as that sounds...later," Daniel said. "We should probably focus on what these guys are doing here now."
"How did you make contact with these agents?" Teal'c asked.
"It wasn't intentional, believe me," Harry said. "I ran into them in Tandarra. Well, Collins and Hurst anyway. They were in Tandarra trying to get more information on the people I've been telling you about, making plans to 'acquire' their technology. Collins invited me along."
"Tandarra?" Daniel prompted.
"Another city back on the planet."
"And this Tandarra is?" Jack said.
"It's like...well, I don't really know any place quite like it," Harry said. "There's no law there but what you make for yourself. And you can find anything: weapons, drugs, women...."
"Sounds charming," Jack said sarcastically.
"Anyway, I went to Tandarra a couple of weeks ago. I was in one of the many 'quaint' drinking establishments, minding my own business, and...there they were."
"Come on, Harry. Even I don't believe that," Jack said. "You knew these guys were out here and Tandoori...."
"Tandarra," Daniel muttered quickly.
"Tandarra," Jack repeated emphatically. "Sounds like exactly the kind of place these guys would hang out."
"Believe what you like, Jack. But I didn't go to Tandarra to meet up with them."
"Why did you go?" Sam asked. "Weapons?"
"I have both personal weapons and my duty weapon," Harry said. "Around here I don't need any more."
"Drugs?" Teal'c asked.
"I don't do drugs. Drugs will get you killed in my line of work. Former and current lines of work both."
"So...women, then?" Daniel asked innocently.
"Next time stick to the inflatable kind, Harry. Save us all some trouble."
"I went to Tandarra for information," Harry said, pointedly ignoring Jack's jibe. "I'd been told it was a good place to find intel on all kinds of criminal activity."
"Former line of work my ass," Jack muttered.
"We're getting close," Maybourne said, nodding directly ahead of them.
The cliff wall was now visible between the trees, although Jack had to crane his head almost all the way back to see the top edge.
"How do you know?" Jack asked, not seeing or hearing any sign of civilization.
"According to the information Collins gave me, this is the only area that these people have been seen. The only place outside of infrequent visits to a local town for supplies anyway" Harry said.
"How is that you live on Pankeer and didn't know anything about these people'?" Daniel asked.
"I knew. I mean everyone knows they exist. They just don't care," Harry said. "The people on the moon are just...hicks from the sticks. They're not important."
"Even though they have magic?" Jack prodded.
"That's dismissed as ignorant superstition," Harry said. "It just supports the Pankeerans' belief that the people here are backward. Trust methe moon and its people have no value to Pankeer."
"They must have at some point," Daniel said.
"What makes you say that, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c asked.
"The transporter," Daniel said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder in the general direction of the transportation platform. "At some point in time there must have been a reason for building it."
"Well, if there ever was, I haven't heard about it," Harry said.
"Jack...," Daniel said, visibly gearing up to make his case for further study.
"Daniel, please. The mission," Jack reminded him.
Daniel gave a resigned sigh as Sam moved to Jack's side.
"Sir, I'm not getting any readings that would indicate life," Sam told Jack quietly. She brushed back a branch that snagged on her sleeve as she verified her data.
"They're here, Jack," Harry said firmly.
"Prove it," Jack challenged as Harry angled off, approaching the cliff wall at a more oblique angle. "Harry?"
"You might want to spread out a little," Maybourne said, continuing to diverge from their previous path.
"Because according to Collins, the few brave souls who've tried to find these people have disappeared right about here."
"Disappeared? What the hell do you mean disapp...?"
The world went black for a moment, then Jack opened his eyes, frowned and blinked. He found Daniel standing right in front of him, blinking and frowning back at him.
"Ah...sir?" Sam said.
"I hate when that happens," Jack said, turning to take in his new, and completely unfamiliar, surroundings.
"I believe we have been transported to another location," Teal'c said, making his own perusal of the nearly featureless room.
"Don't ask me," Harry said, looking around with the same slightly disconcerted expression the rest of them were wearing.
"Why not?" Jack asked irritably.
"Because I don't know?" Harry suggested.
"I can't guess where we are, sir, but wherever it is, it took some doing to create this...room," Sam said as she brushed her fingers along the smoothly finished gray stone. "These walls are solid rock."
"Jack, I think there's a door over...." Daniel's words were abruptly cut off when the slight gap in the wall widened and the opening door pushed him back. "Yep, there's definitely a door over here."
"You look strangely familiar," Jack said, studying the two people, a man and a woman, who had entered the room. Their clothing was dark colored and relatively plain; their expressions were grave.
"They should, sir. They're Tollan," Sam said, walking over to stand behind Jack's left shoulder.
"Tollan?" Even as Jack said the word, he realized that Sam was right. He pointed at the man. "You were one of Travell's flunkies."
"I was her administrative assistant," the man said, sounding a touch indignant. "I am now accorded the honor of acting as my people's leader. My name is Marden. This is Arvann, one of our councilors."
"Whatever," Jack said. "We thought you'd all been killed."
"A few ships managed to escape from Tollana. Even some of those were damaged and they were...lost," Marden said gravely.
"Narim?" Sam asked hesitantly.
"Narim was not among the survivors," Arvann told her.
"We're sorry to hear that. Narim was a good friend to us," Daniel said, glancing quickly at Sam.
"But we expected the worst, given the last transmission we received from Tollana," Sam said with a small, resigned smile.
"As I said, very few escaped."
"So...what are you doing here?" Jack asked.
"For the most partrecovering from the near complete destruction of our civilization," Arvann admitted.
"But why here?" Daniel asked. "You're clearly more advanced than the local population. I thought the Tollan always refused to associate with more 'primitive' cultures."
"We do not associate with the native inhabitants."
"But you're here, in close proximity to them," Sam said. "Aren't you concerned that they'll learn...something? Even if only by accident?"
"We encouraged the local stories of 'magic.' The residents of this moon are even more primitive than your people. It was not difficult to frighten them into believing we are 'witches' or 'demons'," Marden admitted.
"Why didn't you go back to the Nox?" Daniel asked.
"We did not wish to impose on our friends once again," Marden said.
"I'm sure they wouldn't mind," Daniel said.
"We would," Marden said curtly.
"Then why not go to another world inhabited by a more advanced civilization?" Teal'c asked.
"There are so few of us left. We feared that a larger civilization would not respect our autonomy," Marden said, glancing at Arvann.
"That's good coming from you," Jack said. "There wasn't any autonomy on Tollana. Hell, you all even dressed alike."
"As do you," Arvann said, eyeing their uniforms.
"That's different. We're part of a military unit. And we don't dress like this when we're off duty," Jack argued. "On Earth, people are free to be themselves. To march to the beat of a different drummer."
"Hence a society of chaos," Marden said. "On Tollana, every individual made a choice: to live by rules that would engender the common good."
"Every individual?" Jack said incredulously. "What happened when one individual said forget it?"
"That did not happen. All Tollan learned, at a very early age, the benefits of a principled society."
"Brainwashing," Jack said.
"Jack," Daniel murmured, tugging at Jack's sleeve. "Why don't we leave the philosophical rhetoric for another time?"
"Oh, trust mewhat I was about to say was not in the least philosophical," Jack muttered loudly.
"Still, I don't think this is the best time for it."
"Jackson's right," Harry said. "We've got bigger problems."
"What problems?" Marden asked.
"There are some rogue N.I.D. agents still on the loose," Sam explained hesitantly. "They've heard about you and your 'magic' powers. They're convinced you have some advanced technology."
"And they're coming to get it," Jack added. "If Mayboune's information is right they're planning to hit you tomorrow morning."
"We thank you for the warning," Marden said, glancing briefly at his colleague.
"We are not here merely to warn you," Teal'c said. "We also offer assistance."
"Our community is hidden. They will not find us," Marden said confidently.
"They will," Harry said just as confidently. "They know you're here and they won't stop until they do find you."
"We are quite capable of defending ourselves."
"How?" Jack asked.
"They will be warned. If they do not desist they will be...eliminated."
"Okay, that's not exactly what I was asking but.... We didn't come here to 'eliminate' these guys. We want to take them home to face charges," Jack explained.
"Are you capable of apprehending them?" Marden asked, clearly skeptical.
"We are," Teal'c said, his gaze challenging the Tollan leader.
"We'd like to set up a perimeter a short distance away," Sam explained. "A trap. We can take them before they ever get close enough to know who you are."
"Very well," Marden said after a moment's whispered consultation with Arvann.
"Ah...there's another reason we came here," Daniel said as Marden and Arvann prepared to leave.
"What other reason could you have?"
"Well, we thought we might be able to negotiate. Exchange ideas.... Technology," Daniel said hesitantly.
Marden just stared at Daniel as if he were a specimen under a microscope.
"That was before we knew who you were, obviously," Jack said sarcastically.
"Surely you do not intend to continue your practice of withholding information and technology from your allies," Teal'c said.
"That is precisely why we have isolated ourselves here," Marden reminded them.
"Look, you areas you sayisolated here," Daniel persisted. "You're vulnerable."
"You think you can trick us into sharing our knowledge by pretending it's for our benefit?" Marden said, amused.
"He's not pretending," Jack said sharply, his long time annoyance at Tollan superiority fully renewed. "Well, I'm certainly not pretending that it's solely for your benefit. We could both gain something," Daniel said. "Which is, after all, the normal basis for an alliance."
"We do not have allies."
"And that's exactly why you're in this situation to begin with," Jack said.
"Had we had a true alliance with the Tollan we might have been able to help you avoid being wiped out by the Goa'uld," Sam said.
"Well, if nothing else we might have been able to help you hide," Daniel said. "Helped you relocate while there was still time to save the Tollan people."
"Indeed," Teal'c agreed. "Tanith gave the Tollan Curia time in which to build weapons. That time could have been used more wisely. It was not necessary to lose the majority of the Tollan population to a Goa'uld attack."
"Tanith?" Arvann asked.
"You knowguy about yea high, weird voice, glowing eyes," Jack said.
"A Goa'uld?" Arvann asked, clearly confused. "What does a Goa'uld have to do with the Curia?"
"You don't know," Daniel realized suddenly.
"Most likely the attack appeared to be sudden and unprovoked to most people on Tollana," Teal'c said to Daniel.
"It was," Marden said firmly.
"Sudden? Yes. Unprovoked? That depends on whose side you're on," Jack said.
"Please explain," Arvann said in a demanding tone.
"It's kind of a long story," Daniel said, glancing at Jack.
"We must convene the Council," Arvann told Marden.
"Very well," Marden said, eyeing SG-1 and Maybourne with displeasure. "Summon the others. I will bring our guests to the council chamber."
Daniel stopped pacing as his recitation of the events on Tollana ended. The five Tollan councilors sat along one side of a long table facing SG-1, their expressions unrevealing.
"Your accusations are very serious," one of the Tollan councilors finally said.
"Yes, they are," Daniel agreed. "Unfortunately, they're also true."
"It is inconceivable that the Curia could've acted in such a manner," Arvann said.
"Narim didn't believe it either. Not until he saw the evidence with his own eyes," Sam said.
"So you claim," Marden said.
"It is the truth," Teal'c said.
"Chancellor Travell was an honorable woman," Marden argued. "She would never have betrayed the Tollan people. She dedicated her life to serving the Tollan people."
"She made a mistake," Daniel said. "I have no doubt that in her mind she was still serving the Tollan people, but in an attempt to save them she ended up destroying them."
"She was scared," Jack said. "The Goa'uld suddenly showed up with shields your ion cannons couldn't penetrate and she panicked. And she wasn't alone. The rest of the Curia knew about it, too."
"Impossible," the man at the end of the table said. "To pervert Tollan government in this way would have been...impossible."
"Not," Jack said sharply. "They did it. They sold out to the Goa'uld in the stupid belief that they could protect Tollana."
"No," Marden said firmly. "As a people we have never put our lives before our principles. Any Tollan would rather die than compromise his own integrity, let alone that of the entire Tollan people."
"That's exactly how Narim felt," Sam said. "When he realized the truth, he risked his own life to try and prevent it from happening. He chose to risk losing your world rather than let the Tollan become collaborators."
"Forgive me, Major, but it sounds as though it may have been Narim who was the traitor," Marden said.
"No!" Sam said, her expression fierce.
"Narim did the right thing," Jack added. "The Curia sold you out and they were going to send a bomb to Earth into the bargain. Narim did the only thing he could to salvage your precious Tollan integrity."
"I cannot believe it," Arvann said.
Daniel dropped his head forward with a sigh. Sam closed her eyes, frustration evident on her face.
"Are you calling us liars?" Jack asked in a low and all too calm tone of voice.
"No," Marden said slowly. "But you are not like us, Colonel. You do not fully understand Tollan society or government. It is most likely that you have made an error. Perhaps misinterpreted the events."
"Damn it, Marden," Daniel said, planting his fists on the table and leaning toward the Tollan Council members. "You can't close your eyes to this. As painful as it may be to realize that the Curia could and would betray your planet, hiding the truth serves no one."
"Even if what you say were truewhat purpose would it serve to vilify our former leaders?" Marden asked.
"Well, we have a cliché on Earth," Jack said. "Actually, we have a lot of clichés, but the one that speaks to this particular set of circumstances is: Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it."
"Aphorism," Daniel said quietly.
"That's an aphorism, not a cliché."
"Stop that," Jack said irritably.
"We hardly need a lecture on responsibility from you. We have learned many difficult lessons in our past," Marden said.
"Well, then this will be just one more," Jack said with mocking optimism.
"If indeed your version of the events were true, we would have to accept responsibility and determine the means to preventing any further such...errors," Arvann said.
"If our version is true," Daniel repeated with disgust.
"I'm sorry, Dr. Jackson, but your story undermines all that I know to be true about the Tollan," Arvann said.
"And where is the proof?" a young female councilor asked.
"Proof?" Sam said. "Well, that's a little difficult, given that Narim is dead. And Travell."
"And Tanith," Teal'c added with a definite air of satisfaction.
"Not that Tanith would be likely to help," Jack said. "But you see our point. All the evidence was destroyed in the attack. And, other than SG-1, everyone who knew the truth is dead."
"Lookwhy would we lie?" Daniel asked, looking earnestly at Arvann. "What possible good would it do us?"
"Not lies, Dr. Jackson, misunderstandings," Marden said magnanimously.
Daniel finally slumped back in his chair, exasperated.
"We will discuss the information you have given us," Arvann promised.
"Yes, of course," Marden said dismissively. "In the meantime, you may proceed with your plan to apprehend the criminals. Please leave as soon as you are done."