Set late in series
4, set after Chain Reaction
Grateful thanks to the
amazingly helpful F.D.A.S. crew:
Monday - 14th August
The man took cover the instant the Stargate surged into life. He wondered who else could be coming to this sodden godforsaken world. It should have been deserted, giving him plenty of time to move on before anyone back home noticed he was missing.
He liked to be at least three steps ahead. As this world had a 'Gate not far from the A.P., he had registered it as a possible bolt-hole in time of need. That time had arrived when the ...removal... of the Chairman had failed to stave off the impending investigation.
Fortunately, security was unaware of his 'wanted' status when he left, and anyone can be bought if you're willing to pay highly enough. So he should, by now, have been home free. He hoped the others had made it to safety somewhere, but if not, hey, it wasn't his problem now. The incoming visitors on the other hand...
Presumably they were the owners of the strange contraption which was positioned to the side of the 'Gate just out of range of the vortex. He guessed it must be a probe of some kind. It hadn't been there the last time he came, and would no doubt record his presence if he tried to go through the Stargate now. He would have to hang around until they left. Maybe they would just do a quick recce. then leave him in peace. It wasn't like there was anything much to hang around here for!
He gasped as the first person came through the 'Gate. Jack O'Neill! Off-world? He could hardly believe it. Next through was Sammy Kawalsky. Despite the lank shoulder-length hair he could still recognize her. He'd wondered occasionally if Sammy's bright bubbly curls were natural. Now he knew.
This Sammy was followed by Doctor Jackson of all people. He smiled in satisfaction. Now he had the beginnings of a plan that could solve all his problems. The last person to appear was Teal'c. The watery sun fought its way through the pearly clouds just then. A sudden ray reflected off something that glinted like gold on his forehead. Strange.
It was a little worrying that they were all kitted out in military-style uniforms and bearing arms. Even Sammy looked like she was used to handling the SMG she carried. Still, he wasn't in a position to look this gift horse in the mouth.
He wasn't any too keen on the weapon Teal'c was carrying either. Once or twice, they'd found a universe where the local bad guys carried them. They'd given those allocosms a wide berth after Mike Mansfield and Hank Boyd had been killed. He noticed now, that Doctor Jackson was toting one of their snake-like Z-guns too. That was the only useful thing that the remains of F.C.-4 had brought back from that mission.
Jack was moaning to Sammy about the trees and the dampness, and then about the trees again. He called her Carter. Presumably she and Charlie hadn't married yet - or were divorced. Heaven knew, their relationship always seemed poised on a knife-edge. Partly his fault, he acknowledged, but then, he wasn't alone in that. He felt no guilt either. After all, she could always say no. He wasn't into forcing women. He didn't need to.
The group set off along the broad straight roadway that he'd just walked along to get to the Stargate. And a long tedious road it was too! At some time it must have carried a fair amount of traffic because it had been paved to a width of ten or twelve feet. Many of the flagstones were cracked and upturned as nature worked on taking back the land. Quite large trees had grown up in places destroying the surface even more. Still it made for easier walking than creeping through the forest of moss-covered trees that rose up on either side, as he was obliged to do this time.
They set quite a wicked place, and he had some difficulty in keeping up. Partly this was due to his being a lot less fresh than they were, but mostly it was because he couldn't afford to be spotted - at least not yet. Teal'c in particular seemed very alert, constantly looking around. At one point, the man trod on a fallen branch that was not quite saturated enough not to crack noisily. It caught the Chulakian's attention.
"O'Neill!" Teal'c cried, stopping and pointing in the direction of the sound. "I do not think we are alone. I have sensed for some time that we are being followed."
As the four back-tracked, the man drew further into the trees, moving obliquely in the direction of the abandoned town as he went. Once they'd passed his position, he picked up a short, hefty piece of branch. He hurled it, as hard as he could, further into the forest and through the lower foliage.
It clattered through the branches. Several birds took flight with warning cries. On the forest floor, small animals scuttled away. A larger animal - sounded about the size of a peccary - went crashing through the trees away from both him and the allocosmic team.
The man hadn't realized there was quite so much wildlife around, but it suited his purpose. It would either lure the four away from him, allowing him to get ahead of them, or convince them that they were alone here. If he was lucky, both. Whichever, he arrived at the remains of the small town ahead of them.
He made for the large storage room in the principal building. The long-vanished civilization had put their Allocosmic Portal there, along with a whole lot more rather dull and very dusty artefacts, including plenty of things to hide behind. If these people were anything like his own F.C. team, one of them was almost bound to come in here.
Luck favored him again as Doctor Jackson wandered in. There was a small lantern window above the high-ceilinged room but the light it allowed to enter was much reduced by its filthy, guano-streaked glass. Jackson directed his flashlight beam around the room. O'Neill, a little way behind him, cursorily shone his own flashlight into the chamber.
"Jack, you have to see this!" Jackson called excitedly.
"What?" O'Neill asked gruffly and raised his eyebrows when he saw the cause of the excitement.
"We could keep it at the S.G.C. It could be very useful. It has a control unit too," Jackson said, waving the device.
"Maybe. Just don't touch it, ok. We'll send S.G.-11 to collect it. You got half an hour, Daniel."
"Half an hour and no buts." Then O'Neill was gone.
Doctor Jackson muttered to himself about ignorant, vindictive and pig-headed C.O.s as he slipped his pack from his shoulders and set it on the floor. He laid his flashlight on a table and extracted a video camera and note-book. Laying the latter down beside the flashlight, he did a smooth 360 video scan of the room.
That done, he put the camera down and took out a dictaphone. As he set about recording his observations on the contents of the room and making occasional written notes, the man settled down to listen and learn.
Half an hour later, Jack returned. "Come on, Daniel, pack up. It's time to go!"
"But Jack, I haven't finished yet. I've barely scratched the surface!"
"I said 'no buts', remember? Carter's wanting to investigate that geo-magnetic anomaly or whatever that the U.A.V. picked up. You've had your turn. Now it's hers and we've a couple of hours walk to go yet, so come on. Now."
"Couldn't you leave me here to carry on cataloguing this stuff and collect me on the way back?"
"No Daniel. Carter may need your assistance and you're not going to be much help here, so let's not waste any more time, ok?"
"What? You want me to argue the toss about it?"
"No," Jack said. "Just a little surprised that you didn't. You usually do."
"You said S.G.-11 would come and collect the things. I can check them out later."
"Well, that's... good."
Before they reached the site that Carter wanted to investigate, Daniel was lagging behind.
"Come on, Daniel," Jack complained, "we don't have all day. What's this? Some new ploy because I wouldn't let you stay behind?"
Daniel treated the comment with the contempt he felt it deserved and stomped onwards to catch up.
"Daniel Jackson has been limping for some time," Teal'c said in disapproving tones," as you would know if you were paying attention to all your team."
Jack, who'd been taking point, stopped and turned to face his critic. "What's that supposed to mean?" he asked sharply.
"Merely that you have been riding Doctor Jackson very hard of late, O'Neill."
Jack sighed. "All right, let's have a look."
"It's fine. I'm fine," Daniel insisted. "I've just maybe got a blister coming or something."
"Take your boots off and let's have a look."
Reluctantly, Daniel sat down on a fallen mossy tree trunk and removed one of his boots. There was a tell-tail damp red oval in his sock at the back of his heel.
"And the other one." Daniel sighed and carefully removed the other, wincing a little as he did so. The entire end of his sock was wet with blood.
"If you knew you had a problem, why the hell didn't you call for a break sooner and put a blister pack on it?" Jack demanded.
"You seemed to be in a hurry to get to... er... Carter's anomaly. I just didn't want to hold you up is all."
"With the result that you're going to hold us up a whole lot longer. If we don't have to go back to the S.G.C. because of this."
Sam, taking pity on Daniel, fished a first-aid kit out of her vest. When she took his sock off, she found that he had two large deep blisters down the side of his big toe and the toe joint which had joined together and had not only burst, but the skin had worn off and disintegrated. Carefully, she swabbed the affected areas with an antiseptic wipe and applied blister dressings.
"Thanks, Sammy," he said, flashing her a dazzling smile, then painfully squeezed his feet back into his boots.
The rest of the mission went pretty much according to plan. Sam was pleased with the results of the tests she'd done on the anomaly.
"As there are trace amounts of naquadah in the soil, I think there could be a substantial ore deposit below us. It's at quite a depth, though, so S.G.-11 will have to come and take some core samples."
"It is fortunate that this world does not come from the Abydos cartouche, Major Carter," Teal'c observed. "If it is indeed naquadah, the goa'uld would have mined it all long ago."
"Yeah. Wonder what happened to all the people who lived here," she mused. "Daniel?"
"Don't ask me. If I'd had a little more time..." he replied and got a filthy look, though no comment, from Jack. "Maybe they're all living on the other side of the planet. I mean, it's not like we've charted the whole world, is it?" he concluded with snide sarcasm.
"Well, you usually have some theory to advance about it," Jack responded, nettled. "At great length. What about a plague?"
"Where's the evidence? Where are the bodies - well, skeletons?"
"Buried?" Jack suggested.
"And who do you think would have buried all these plague victims, Jack? Did they just bury themselves when there were more people dead than living assuming the living people hadn't already fled while they still could?"
"Ok, Daniel, so you need more time. I get your point," Jack said pettishly. "All right, folks, let's pack up. Moving out in ten."
When S.G.-1 clattered back down the ramp at the S.G.C., General Hammond was already waiting for them as usual. Daniel, third to return, was still limping a little. Hammond expressed his concern.
"It's ok " Daniel began.
"Only a blister, sir, not exactly trench foot," Jack said dismissively from behind him.
"Actually, they're serious blisters, sir," Sam said defensively, feeling the sting on behalf of her 'little brother'.
"Very well. No doubt Doctor Fraiser will see to them. Colonel, a word in my office. Now."
Whatever Hammond had said to O'Neill didn't seem to have improved his temper any when the rest of S.G.-1 convened in the briefing room. Sam gave her account in a distinctly muted voice. Teal'c confirmed that there was no trace of goa'uld activity.
"Ah, well, I've recorded some observations on tape which I shall need to review before I can produce a report."
"Very well. As Doctor Fraiser's given you two days medical leave, if you wish to do that at home, you have my authorization to do so. Do you require a staff car to take you home?"
Daniel looked a little surprised. "That would be appreciated, yes sir."
"That's ok, Daniel," Sam said with a smile followed by a slightly challenging look at her C.O., "I'd be happy to drive you home."
"Thanks. I'll take you up on that."
Daniel was quiet on the drive home, hugging his backpack on his knees. Sam supposed he was nursing a little emotional pain too. She was concerned about the way her C.O. seemed to be distancing himself from his quondam best buddy - couldn't imagine what had been said or done on either side to cause the rift. Whatever it was, she wished they'd get over it, and soon, because it was making her feel darned uncomfortable. She pulled into the parking lot below Daniel's apartment.
"Want me to carry your pack, Daniel?"
"Ah, no it's ok," he replied, swivelling round to reach for his jacket on the back seat.
As it was a long stretch, Sam grabbed it from her side. "I'll bring it up for you," she smiled.
The ride up in the elevator was also silent. Daniel stood aside to let her out first. Always the gentleman, she thought as he followed her to his door. There he fished a bunch of keys out of his pocket, fumbled and dropped them.
"Oops," he grinned. He indicated his encumbrance and gave a beseeching look. "Could you...?"
Sam picked up the keys, selected the right one and opened the door for him. Daniel took the pack's strap in one hand and slid his other arm round Sam's waist, pulling her into a hug.
"Thanks, Sammy. You're an angel!" he said and kissed her cheek.
Sam pulled back, giving him a very old-fashioned look.
"Care to come in for a drink?" he asked with an inviting smile.
"No. Er... thank you. I'd - er - better get on home. Lots to do..." she replied, handing him his jacket, then scooting back to the elevator.
Daniel watched her go, looking a little puzzled.
He went inside, dumped his pack beside the sofa, poured himself a generous scotch then settled down to investigate the contents of his pack, running the taped record as he did so. Some of the things he'd brought back from P6X-312 he could recognize. Several of them would fetch reasonable prices on the open market, but there was nothing to get rich from.
His initial assessment done, he discovered he felt hungry. He did a little investigating, but the 'fridge was more than half empty, and what food there was looked like mycology experiments at best, and at worst, well, 'bio-hazard' came to mind. He had better luck with the freezer and settled for a 'home-bake' pizza. While he was waiting for it to cook, he found the remote, turned on the T.V. and channel surfed for something relevant to watch.
After he'd consumed most of the pizza and make a few preparations, he decided to have a quick shower, and turn in early. It had been a long hard day and that big bed was very inviting. Big enough for a threesome, he thought as he drifted off into an untroubled sleep.
Daniel awoke sharply with a splitting headache and needing to take a leak. Had no idea where he was, what time it was or even what day it was. Plus ça change! Tried to roll over but something was hampering him, something hard and unyielding around his wrist. Opened one eye and saw it was a handcuff. The other end was attached to a metal bedstead. He groaned.
He opened the other eye and looked around. It wasn't good. Looked very much like a prison cell. Dingy grey paint peeling off the walls. Graffiti. Single bare light bulb. Security camera high up in a corner. Bucket beside the bed. Door with a small grill at face height - and no door handle... Made use of the bucket with difficulty. Tried to remember what had happened to land him in this predicament. Knew Jack would kill him if he had to organize yet another rescue. Shit! He buttoned up, lay back and closed his eyes. Threw his free arm across them.
A short while later, a squeaky clang announced the opening of the door.
"Doctor Jackson - awake at last," said a familiar voice.
Daniel sat up abruptly, forgetting about the handcuff, and nearly yanked his arm out of its socket.
"Maybourne!" he said venomously, wincing at the way the sudden movement refreshed his headache. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Tut, tut, Doctor Jackson. You don't seem too pleased to see me," Maybourne responded with a self-satisfied smile.
"Why would I be?" Daniel asked. He looked around. The scenery hadn't changed. "More importantly where am I, and why am I wherever I am?"
"Oh come on, you're in the Collingwood Street lock-up. Where else would you be?"
"Collingwood Street? Where's that?"
Maybourne gave him a funny look. "Off Vaughan Street where it's always been."
Jackson was still making a show of looking baffled so he continued with added sarcasm, "Colorado Springs."
"Well, I thought I knew Colorado Springs, but I never heard of... Collingwood Street?"
Maybourne snorted. "Next you'll be saying you've never heard of Paul Collingwood either."
"No, I haven't. Is there any reason I should?"
"Never heard of President Collingwood? Yeah, right."
Daniel's jaw dropped. "No, actually I haven't."
"Very funny. You trying to plead insanity? You won't get away with it so you might as well accept that and come clean."
"Get away with what?" Daniel asked, mystified.
"Still playing the innocent card? Give it up, Jackson. It really won't work this time."
"Innocent of what?" Daniel persisted. "And where's Jack?"
"Jack O'Neill," Maybourne said, noting that Jackson was sticking to formalities and avoiding his pet name for O'Neill. "Oh, he's got problems of his own right now Like you didn't know!" he scoffed.
"I don't know! Why aren't you listening?"
"You aren't saying anything."
Daniel gave an exasperated sigh.
"Ok, then get Hammond."
Maybourne gave a hoot of derisive laughter.
"Oh you really take the biscuit for chutzpah, I'll give you that!" he said, still chuckling. "Did you really think you could get away with murder? Well, you did before, didn't you? But ever since you managed to wriggle out of the Armin Selig rap, I've been watching you like a hawk. That cost me my promotion," Maybourne added sourly, "so I've been checking up on every move you've made, and this time, I've got enough evidence to put you away for good. And when the tox. screen report comes back, I reckon I'll have enough to send you to the gallows..."
Daniel just stared at him open-mouthed.
"What's the matter, Jackson? Cat got your tongue?"
"Gallows? Murder?" Daniel mumbled, stunned. "Are you saying George is... dead?"
"Well that's what murder usually entails," Maybourne said caustically, "so quit stalling and 'fess up. That could count in your favor, and with your - uh - 'charms', you might even manage to get the jury to put in a recommendation for clemency and save you from the long drop - 'specially if your legal team can stack the jury with women..."
But Daniel wasn't listening. He was trying to think. Fighting his way through the pain in his head, he ran the day's events through his mind. He'd overslept, skipped breakfast, and was only five minutes late - too late to avoid a tongue lashing from Jack though. Hammond had been fine then - saw them off through the wormhole just like always.
It was another sodden wet world full of trees which hadn't improved Jack's temper one jot. They'd marched several miles along the wreck of a paved roadway, including a diversion through the forest after Teal'c had mistakenly thought they were being followed.
They'd found the ruins of the town that the U.A.V. had spotted a couple of days previously, but Jack would only give him half an hour - penance for being late, he'd supposed. Bad timing. He'd found a store room packed with a multitude of interesting items that were simply begging for hours - days - months of study. And all he had was a paltry half hour!
The main influence had seemed to be Chinese. There were jade carvings and fine porcelain. There were number of terra cotta figures about half life-size that reminded him of the Xian warriors. There were also a number of futuristic looking gadgets that he was going to ask Sam about when the rest of the team returned. And there was
"A quantum mirror!" he exclaimed triumphantly.
"A-A-A quantum mirror th-they go to other universes..." he said, words tumbling over themselves in his haste to clear up the matter," I - I mean, t- to other realities. I was in a store room on P6X-312 "
"It's the 'Gate address of the world we were exploring."
"Gate address..." Harry said, his voice laden with skepticism.
"Yes. What? You don't have a Stargate? Just a - a Quantum Mirror?"
Harry grimaced impatiently. "You know damn' well we have a Stargate, given that you work for the corporation."
"No. I don't. I work for Stargate Command. I was on P6X-312 and - and - someone zatted me. From behind." Daniel scowled. "Guess he pushed me through the mirror into your world."
"A likely tale"
"It's true. I've done it before"
"Well, I know that."
"Assuming this 'Quantum Mirror' is a new name you've given to the A.P."
"Allocosmic Portal," Maybourne sighed, getting bored with the game.
"Allocosmic Portal? Allo - allos, Greek, meaning other; cosmos - universe. Yes, that seems very likely. It goes to Alternate Universes? Of course. I guess the N.I.D. have one here too?"
Maybourne pricked up his ears. "N.I.D.? Who are they?" he asked.
"Oh boy! Look, in my world, you used to work for them. Until you were arrested, that is," Daniel added snidely.
"I was arrested? Oh, that's good - that's very good coming from you, Jackson!"
"It's true," Daniel said earnestly. "You were on death row until General Hammond"
"Yes. What? This isn't a military establishment?"
"Oh come on, you can do better than that," Maybourne said, clearly unimpressed. "You know very well it isn't. And never has been."
"Well, where I come from, it is." He looked at the clothes he was now wearing and looked accusingly at Maybourne. "What have you done with my clothes?"
"I haven't touched your clothes," the other replied a little indignantly.
"So where are my clothes, then? Because these, sure as hell, are not mine."
Harry Maybourne of the Serious Crimes Investigation Department paused to consider Jackson's fairy tale. He had observed in the past that highly intelligent people were often arrogant enough to think they were invulnerable and could do whatever they liked without having to deal with the consequences of their actions. And Jackson was one of the cleverest people who had ever crossed his path.
He was also a creative and plausible liar, as Harry knew to his cost. Clearly, Jackson was trying to set up some sort of alibi. Perhaps, as the proverb said, if he gave him enough rope, he might inadvertently hang himself. Or at least trip himself up with verifiable inconsistencies. He decided to indulge his arch-nemesis.
"Ok," he said, "let's assume for the sake of argument that you aren't Doctor Jackson"
"Oh, I am Doctor Jackson. I'm just not your Doctor Jackson."
"Ri-ight," Harry said skeptically.
He reviewed his tactics. If he wanted Jackson to slip up, he needed to lure him into a false sense of security. Pinning on a sympathetic smile he continued, "Go on, Doctor Jackson. I assure you, you have my full attention."
So Jackson told him about how he was recruited by Catherine Langford to solve the riddle of the Stargate which had puzzled people for so long.
"Bet your doctorate in cryptology came in useful there?" Harry asked.
"Cryptology? I'm not a cryptologist. I'm an archaeologist and anthropologist."
"And not a linguist either, then?"
"I'm a linguist, yes."
"Oh. Carry on."
"Well, General West"
"General West? Not General Hammond?"
"No," Jackson snapped with an annoyed look that plainly asked, 'Who's giving this account?'
"Sorry," Harry replied, unabashed.
"General West agreed to a mission after we'd sent a probe through to see what was at the other end of the wormhole and whether the world there could sustain life. Jack led the mission."
"General Jack O'Neill?" Harry prompted with an encouraging smile.
Jackson laughed, shaking his head, "I don't they'd ever give him a star - er, promote him to General. He's far too frivolous. At least he used to be. These days he's more like a bear with a sore head." He sighed mournfully. "Guess it's the knees. I know he's in a lot of pain sometimes, even though he makes a joke of it."
He noticed an enquiring look on Harry's face.
"He's a colonel," Jackson said. "Anyway, we went to Abydos where we met Skaara and Kasuf. And Sha're." He paused, looking sad as he mentioned her name. "Kasuf gave her to me as a bride, though I didn't realize it at first."
"And how is Sha're?" Harry asked. It was a simple question. Sha're, he knew, was still living on Abydos, not that Jackson bothered to visit her very often, going more to see his son, Baheer, than her. He was consequently taken aback by Jackson's reaction to the question.
"She's dead, you sonovabitch!" he yelled, yanking at the handcuff as if he'd like to launch himself at Harry and tear him limb from limb, which, Harry appreciated, he probably would, given half a chance.
"She was taken as a host by Ammonet. Teal'c killed her!" Jackson continued, getting himself back under control. Dropping his voice to a whisper, he concluded, "He had to."
It had already occurred to Harry that Teal'c was probably responsible for the murders of both Armin Selig and George Hammond - maybe more - although Jackson was obviously pulling his strings.
"I'm sorry to hear that," was all he said.
"It's ok. I appreciate that things will be different here. I guess Sha're's still alive here?" Jackson said with a wistful look.
Harry nodded. "And Baheer."
"Baheer?" Jackson asked. Had to hand it to the man. His acting deserved an Oliver.
"Your son," Harry said blandly.
"A son?" Jackson gave a euphoric smile. "We have a son? I mean - they have a son?"
Harry gave an entirely genuine smile. Jackson had just made his first mistake. Letting him talk freely was definitely paying off. He was a little puzzled about Jackson's reference to Sha're being taken as a host. The name he'd mentioned rang no bells either.
"Who's Anna Met?" he asked, but Jackson didn't fall into that one.
"Ammonet," he corrected. "She's - she was the mate of Apophis."
"A Goa'uld System Lord."
"Not a general?" Harry asked on a teasing note, and got a filthy look for his pains. "Sorry. That was uncalled for."
"Yes. It was." Jackson paused. "Do I take it there are no Goa'uld in this reality?"
"I don't know. What are they."
"They're a kind of snake-like parasite that invades the body of a host - humans are the preferred species for hosts. They use the brain and motor facilities for their own evil purposes. The personality of the host is suppressed, though he - or she - is fully aware of what the body is doing as the goa'uld attempts to conquer worlds and enslave their people."
"How do they do that?" Harry asked, interested, despite himself, in where Jackson was taking this.
Jackson explained at some length about the creation of new larvae and their nurturing inside the bodies of Jaffa warriors until they matured and took hosts of their own.
"Teal'c - our Teal'c - is a Jaffa. He rescued us and defected. He wants to free his people from the tyranny of the System Lords and figured we were his best chance of success."
"He has one of these symbiotes living inside him?"
"Yes. Jack calls it 'Junior'," Jackson laughed. He thought for a moment. "Actually, you have to have come across Jaffa somewhere, or how did you get your hands on a zat gun?"
"A... A what? Zat gun?"
"A Zat'nikatel. It delivers a kind of electrical discharge that knocks out the victim. Two shots close together will usually kill."
"Oh. Looks a bit... phallic?"
Jackson laughed again. "That's the one."
"Yeah. I was told you were zee-ed in the A.P. Chamber, trying to escape," Harry said coldly. He watched Jackson processing this information and wondered how he would spin it.
"I don't remember... at least... I have a kind of hazy memory. This - A.P. Chamber? It's where you keep your Quan er Allocosmic Portal, yes?"
Harry nodded, beginning to lose patience with this display of patently phoney ignorance.
"Is it painted green? Well, a kind of pale bluey-green? Because if it is, then I must've come round and then been zatted a second time. Which means I'm lucky to be alive."
It was a good tale, Harry thought with reluctant admiration. If he didn't know better, he'd almost believe it.
"Wait a minute," Jackson said, a thoughtful look on his face. "You keep records of where your people go, right?"
"Usually..." Harry agreed.
"Then all you have to do is go through your Allocosmic Portal to my reality What? What?" Jackson demanded as Harry burst out laughing.
"Oh, you'd really love that, wouldn't you? Having us chasing our tails through hundreds of thousands of allocosms trying to find the one you claim to have come from!"
Jackson looked nonplused.
"Oh please. Save the acting for the jury. You made certain there was no way we'd be able to track you once you were through the A.P. Trouble was you were just too late to step through..."
Harry had the satisfaction of seeing Jackson sag as he came face to face with the reality of his situation.
"This is not happening," he whispered.
"Sam!" Doctor Fraiser exclaimed. "I thought you'd gone home."
"Yes, I did, or at least I got as far as Daniel's apartment. Jan, are you sure he isn't infected with some alien virus or... something?"
"Because Daniel hasn't been acting entirely normally."
"In what way, Sam?"
"For one thing, he keeps calling me Sammy"
" I hardly think that could be an alien influence."
"No, not on its own. But I helped Daniel with his things up to his apartment, and he He made a pass at me. Now that is something he's never done before. And the familiarity... It seemed like he expected me to welcome it."
"I see. Well, there was nothing unusual in his blood work. Apart from the blisters, he was fully fit."
Sam's eyes widened.
"Oh. My. God! Why the hell didn't I think of that before? Stupid, stupid, stupid! I have to see General Hammond. First, I have to track down Colonel O'Neill."
"What? Why?" Janet asked bemused, but Sam had already gone.
Sam rapped briskly on General Hammond's office door and entered on his invitation.
"What can I do for you, Major?" he asked.
"Sir, I think we may have a code seven situation."
"We have an alien intruder on the base?"
"Worse than that. He's left the base, sir. His last known whereabouts were Colorado Springs."
"Are you sure about this?"
"Oh yes. I took him there," Sam said with a look of chagrin.
"You'd better explain, Major."
"Well sir, Daniel was behaving a little strangely on P6X-312. I didn't become suspicious until he Until an... incident when I took him to his apartment. At first, I thought it might be some kind of alien bug he'd picked up, so I checked with Janet. He was all clear except for the blisters. I must have been blind not to spot the significance of that. Guess I was more focused on Daniel himself. He was - um - he was having a bit of a rough time..."
Hammond looked a little perplexed.
"I contacted Colonel O'Neill, and asked him about the buildings Daniel was exploring," she continued. "Specifically, I asked him if there was a Quantum Mirror there, and there was. I think another Daniel from another universe somehow took his place."
"What makes you think that, Major?" Hammond asked, looking no less puzzled.
"Well, the universe that the alternate Daniel came from must be different from ours. He would have to change clothes to blend in, including his footwear. But - he won't be identical to Daniel any more than identical twins are truly identical. There will be slight differences - for instance, maybe he's a little weightier - not so fit as our Daniel - and if he's used to loafers, they would let his feet spread. Now Daniel's boots will have taken on the shape of Daniel's feet. They wouldn't be a perfect fit for the imposter, hence he'd get blisters - especially if he isn't used to military issue boots."
"I see," Hammond said, as there was a peremptory knock on the door. "Come in, Colonel. Good. You have Teal'c with you, too."
"Oh trust Daniel," O'Neill grumbled as Sam quickly put her team mates in the picture.
"Colonel," General Hammond said in sharp reproof, "perhaps you might like to consider that had you been a little more even-handed in your treatment of Doctor Jackson, this might have been discovered a lot sooner. I don't know what's happened between you two lately - and no, I don't want to hear anything about 'geeks' - but it's having a deleterious effect on both your team and your command. So whatever it is, I'm ordering you to sort it out. As soon as we recover Doctor Jackson."
"If we get Daniel Jackson back," Teal'c added with a condemnatory look at O'Neill.
Sam shivered. "He's right, sir. There's an infinite number of alternate universes out there. It entirely redefines looking for a needle in a haystack. We don't even know which haystack to start looking in."
"Yes we do, Carter. We bring in this other guy and make him tell us where he came from."
"With respect, sir, he may not know himself if he just picked a random world to come to. I mean, he didn't come through to our universe and make his presence known. Effectively, he's trying to take over Daniel's life. Possibly permanently. I think that argues that he's running away from something, and the fact that he could have asked for help but didn't, suggests that it may be something highly illegal."
"I fear you are right, Major Carter," Teal'c concurred. "And someone with Daniel's abilities applied with criminal intent would be a very dangerous adversary. Furthermore, our Daniel Jackson may now be facing whatever his alternate self was escaping..."
"Oy!" O'Neill groaned, rolling his eyes. He stood up and added brusquely, "Well, this is my mess. It's my job to clean it up."
"Colonel, regardless of the circumstances, you will uphold the Geneva Convention."
O'Neill paused in the doorway. "Does the Geneva Convention apply to people from an alternate universe?"
"Or to Jaffa?" Teal'c asked, joining his colleague.
Hammond opened his mouth, then shut it again. He wasn't sure he had answers to those two questions.