Conversation rather languished after Tilk was taken away and the door clanged shut again. Nyan seemed a little in awe of O'Neill, and O'Neill was wary of pumping him for information which Nyan might expect him know. His ignorance would look suspicious.
It was one thing to drop the odd ambiguous sentence into a conversation and see what popped up. In a one-to-one situation, the other 'one' tended to pay more attention to what was being said.
When the guards returned, they came for Nyan, and O'Neill was left alone with his thoughts. Knowing what was to come, he needed to consider what he would say. What had he learned already since they'd come through the wormhole ring?
Well, he was in a different city this time, which was all to the good. He hoped no one would recognize him here. He looked different now, with the uniform and the short greying hair, but sod's law said someone probably would put two and two together and come up with the right approximation.
It would be nice to know if this was the same universe though, and if so, whereabouts in the time-line he'd arrive. Still, if he was in the wrong time and the wrong place he would no doubt find out soon enough and then there really would be Hell to pay - and not just for himself. The other three suckers he'd brought with him would be made to pay the same price through association.
Perhaps he could gain a tempo though. If he was in their database, it would be as Jonathan O'Neill, so he could perhaps throw a little sand in the Amazons' eyes there. Another important thing - he mustn't let them know he could understand them. The others couldn't, he was pretty sure, so he shouldn't be able to. Play dumb then.
The medical samples were another matter. As one of their erstwhile 'prize bulls', it was highly likely that, if anyone cross-referenced the breeding files, she would find a match. Well maybe he could do something to reduce his desirability for breeding purposes.
He reached under the bench for one of the buckets and tried to think of something erotic...
He had just kicked the bucket back under the bench and rearranged his clothing when the guards from Hell returned.
He was trussed up like a chicken again for the march up a level to the medical facility. There, he was released and made to strip. His body was probed and prodded in every nook and cranny and the usual samples extracted from him. When he was dressed again, he was taken into another room to be tagged.
Whoa, wait a minute. This looked more like a dental surgery... He was strapped to the chair by the guards. A woman in a white coat came towards him with an anaesthetic gun. A jab to the side of the neck and he was out of it.
When he regained consciousness, the woman in white spoke to him. In English. Well that saved him having to remember to play dumb anyway. In his still woozy state, he might well have answered in Amazonian Greek without thinking about it. What was she saying?
"...Do you understand?"
He blinked at her, trying to focus properly.
"Understand what?" he asked.
Talk about playing dumb!
"I have inserted small radio transponders into four of your molars connected to electrodes beside the nerves. If you do not obey your owners, a radio signal will be transmitted to your dental transponders. It will cause you great pain. Do you understand?"
~ O-Oh shit! What happened to the normal neck tags? Does this mean they've changed the system after I escaped? ~
"I said - do you understand?"
"Yes, I understand."
~ Only too well! ~
"So that you will know the effect of these devices, I will give you a demonstration. This is at minimum power," she said, pressing a button on a small transmitter.
An electrical current scythed through his molar nerves. Every other nerve in his body seemed to fire in sympathy. O'Neill screamed. And screamed. And screamed again. Had he not been strapped down, they would have had to peel him off the ceiling!
When he'd stopped trembling, he was released from the dental chair. This time, they didn't bother to truss him up. There was no need... The raven-haired guard leader escorted him up to an office at ground level and passed him on to a severe-looking officer for interrogation.
"Name?" she barked, as the door closed behind the guard.
"Neil - Colonel Jacko Neil."
"Reason for coming to Evsos?"
"Oh, just passing through, ya know."
He thought about smiling but then, noticing a transmitter like the one in the dental surgery on her desk, thought better of it. Showing too much tooth might remind her of his current vulnerability.
"For what purpose?"
"We're just peaceful explorers, hoping to make friends, trade... Ya know how it is."
"I know only too well," she responded in voice that could have sliced through concrete. "Peaceful explorers hoping to trade do not come heavily armed, Colonel. I think you are spies for an alien power."
"No! No way."
"Where have you come from, Colonel?"
"From a planet called Earth, many light-years from here."
"I know where Earth is. You are not the first... man... to come from that planet."
~ Oh, crap! Well, I guess that answers my two unanswered questions... ~
Aloud, O'Neill said, "I'm thinking you didn't really take to him?"
"That is neither here nor there, Colonel, but be assured, we have learnt from our mistakes, and you will - benefit - from our experiences... Now, what have you come here for?"
"I told you, peaceful trade AARGGHH!!"
"I ask you again, Colonel. Why are you here?"
"Well, everybody's gotta be somewhere...! AAARRGGHHH!!!"
"Don't try to play games with me, Colonel."
"I'm not, damn it! If I knew what you wanted to hear, I'd say it. We're just checking out the neighbourhood, and if you let us go, I swear to God, you'll
He fell to the floor, his body spasming and twitching.
"What the Hell was that for?!" he gasped once the pain had receded.
"If you must swear, Colonel, you will swear by the Goddess!"
"Oh, for crying out loud!" O'Neill groaned, "Fine! Then by the Goddess I swear, let us all go and I guarantee you will never have any more visitors from Earth. Ever!"
"And are you in a position to enforce that guarantee?"
"What? Well... no, I guess. But I will do my damnedest to make sure it doesn't happen again. I can guarantee that!"
"That's not good enough, Colonel."
His interrogator summoned a guard over the intercom.
"When your results come through, we will decide how to make best use of you. Dismissed."
The guard escorted him through a maze of corridors on the same floor to another section of holding cells and unlocked the door by a key pad. O'Neill entered meekly and, for once, was pleased by the sight before him.
Chapter 11 - First Things First
The rest of the team were sitting on the cell's benches, looking glum. O'Neill was seriously pleased to see them. He was also pleased to see that they were all outwardly undamaged, though doubtless they, too, had been tagged with those damned implants.
It was rather touching that they seemed pleased to see him, eyes lighting up the moment he appeared. He felt a slight twinge of guilt about what he'd had to do to insinuate himself into their midst.
Colonel Jack O'Neill had to have been a decent sort of guy to generate such a warm sense of camaraderie. That esprit de corps was still there, despite the somewhat arrogant way he'd been treating Major Bim Carter. She wasn't entirely brain-dead. To give her credit, she had figured out how to use the matter transmutation device. Eventually.
~ Leave it, Jonathan. These are nice people. Finally, you've managed to find yourself an acceptable home. Don't blow it now by driving them away when you don't have to. Play it right, build on what Jack O'Neill had, and you could have friends for life ~
"Good to see you folks again Major... Tilk... Nyan," he said smiling down at each and being welcomed in return. "And now I hate to state the obvious, but we really have to get out of here."
"Of course, sir, but these implants are going to make that a lot harder."
"Not a problem, Major," O'Neill grinned.
Two pairs of eyes widened in disbelief. Tilk maintained his stoical calm but remarked, "On the contrary, they are excruciatingly painful, O'Neill."
"I said, not a problem, Tilk. Would you open your mouth please?"
Tilk gave him an enquiring look but complied.
"Hm, yeah, I see 'em. Yep, should be ok."
O'Neill put one booted foot up on the bench and lifted a baggy trouser-leg. He pulled something from the back of his sock where it had been secured with a wide elastic band.
"The device from Kay Pacha!" Major Carter exclaimed. "But I thought that was being sent to Area 51!"
"Obviously not. Now let's see what we can do with this..."
O'Neill activated the device, pressed one of the buttons on the top, pointed the stubby projection at the edge of the wooden bench and fired. A small black circle appeared in the wood. It looked like jet.
"Too big," he muttered and tried another button. "Just chat among yourselves while I get this worked out."
After another couple of attempts, he had the ray focussed to a fine enough line. Next, he tinkered with combinations of the indentations. After a few more false tries and some cursing, he seemed satisfied with the final minuscule alteration to the bench.
"Ok, who's first?"
"I will go first, ColonelO'Neill."
O'Neill was pleased. He felt that the big guy probably had the highest pain threshold. He hoped it would be pain-less, but if it wasn't, he didn't want loud screams fetching the guards running. The end result would be very pain-ful for all concerned. He felt reasonably sure about that.
"Open wide, Tilk. Major, would you watch what I'm doing, please. You'll have to do the same thing for me."
With Carter looking over his shoulder, O'Neill aimed the device at the first implant and fired. Tilk jumped slightly, but otherwise gave no indication of pain. Good. Looked like it was going to work. Three more, and it was done.
"Ok, I'll do yours next, Major, then you'll have a little time to recover before you do mine. Wouldn't want your hand shaking," he grinned wryly.
"No, sir," she responded and opened her mouth without waiting to be told. In a very short time, both she and Nyan were implant free. O'Neill handed her the device.
"I trust you, Major," he said with his best smile, then opened his mouth and crossed his fingers. Happily the latter was unnecessary. He gave a relieved sigh.
"Er, just as a matter of interest, Sir, what have you turned the implants into?"
"Diamonds, Major - a girl's best friend," he grinned, "Now all we have to do is make our escape..."
Chapter 12 - 'Sad Wings of Destiny'
"Make our escape..." echoed Major Carter, looking a little sceptical.
O'Neill gave a cock-eyed grin.
"Yeah. Sounds easy when you say it quickly, doesn't it? Ok, time to pool our knowledge, I think, and, by the way, how come they sent you back to us, Major?"
"Oh, 'Rosa Kleb' out there decided I'd been associating with men too long and was therefore brainwashed. She didn't think it was worth the effort of deprogramming me. I - er - tried to play the 'dumb blonde', sir," she said with an impish twinkle in her eye.
~ No Jonathan! Don't go there! ~
Instead, he smiled and said, "Well done, Major - smart move," and was rewarded with a beaming smile.
~ Oops. Have I just walked into something here? I thought she was Hammond's fancy piece. Hm. Being protective in a fatherly way, maybe? Better tread more carefully here... ~
"So what happened ?"
"Well, I just gave basic information, sir."
"Goes without saying, Major. Did you notice anything useful?"
"Nothing significant, sir. We're on the ground floor, in a maze of cells and the key code to open this door is 1197."
"I concur, O'Neill," Tilk said and Nyan nodded.
"That's about my take, too, which doesn't help a great deal. Have you been told yet what they plan to do with you?"
No one had.
"If they keep us overnight, we could leave when they shut up shop, assuming that they do. I imagine there will only be token guards on this level, now they've tagged us. Shouldn't be too difficult to find our way out, then back to the temple."
"Um, well, sir, passing over the absence of C4 to blow the door, aren't you forgetting that there's no D.H.D. in the temple. We can't get back home unless we can find out how they operate their Stargate."
~ Stargate? That's what they call it? Now I just need to know what a D.H.D. is. A computer? They operated our Stargate via a computer in an adjacent room. Didn't see any sign of any other exits from the temple though... ~
"Hang on. If there's no means of going back, why did General Hammond let us come here in the first place?" he asked.
There was a perplexed silence for a little while, broken by Nyan.
"Because there is a D.H.D., Sir!"
"So how come no one else saw it?"
~ Whatever it is. ~
"No, no, sir. I didn't see it here either," Nyan exclaimed, then continued in a subdued tone, "I guess Daniel's... death... kind of drove it out of my mind."
"Tell us about it, Nyan," Major Carter said gently, resting an arm around the young man's shoulder.
O'Neill noted the supportive gesture - and the watering eyes. Even the stoical Tilk looked striken.
Daniel's death? Presumably he was Dr. Jackson then? Clearly, this was a very close-knit little group that he'd just gate-crashed. The guilt trip kicked in again, big time.
Little did these good people know that they had lost two team members, not one. He'd had to do it to survive, of course - to survive comfortably, anyway...
Comfortably? Dear God, how far had he drifted away from the moral high ground in the past twenty years...? At that moment, he came precious close to self-loathing. Well, it was up to him to get these people - his people - home safely now. He focussed on Nyan who was trying to collect his thoughts together.
"We had M.A.L.P. transmissions from the temple while S.G-1 was tied up with the training programme," Nyan began. "Daniel had a quick look at the photographic captures afterwards and said they looked interesting. He took them - and the rest of the data - home to read. I daresay the photos are still with his possessions..."
Nyan gulped and sniffed and fell silent. O'Neill didn't like to but in. It would probably help the young man to talk. Cathartic... After a few moments, he regained control and continued.
"Anyway, the General was impressed with Daniel's report and was going to make this S.G.-1's next mission after P3X-116, only what with one thing and another it kept being put back in the schedule. I know Daniel was expecting to come here after the Latona mission. But, when he returned, he was told it was postponed again because Major Kovachek had already arranged a prestigious meeting with the Colonans."
"Oh my God," Sam breathed, "so if this mission had followed Latona - before S.G.-9 returned - Daniel would still be alive..."
Tilk dropped his head into his hands.
"My fault! All my fault!!" he cried. "Had I not stayed to destroy Tanith, I would not have become trapped in the Stargate - for two days! It was Iwho caused all the delays. I curse my foolish lust for vengeance!"
O'Neill was stunned. The words, 'too much information', rattled around his brain. He must recover the situation before everyone fell apart entirely. And before the Amazons came for them again...