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Monday, January 2nd, 2006

Subject: Nightmares
Mood: .worried.

Well, all good things must come to an end, and the last few days have been very good things. We've stacked up some hot memories to keep us going through the winter until we meet again. Assuming we do... After the New Year celebrations - the pyrotechnics outside were brilliant too {g} - we were pretty well exhausted, but in a very good way.

I flew out from D.C. mid-afternoon. I began passing the time running those memories through my mind, but had to give up - too stimulating... So I moved on to contemplating the Ori and what to do about them. Then the weekend caught up with me and I fell asleep. And dreamed. Pity I hadn't fallen asleep earlier. Those memories might have segued into dreams of Jack. Actually, I did dream about Jack, and I hope I never have that dream ever again!

He was in his office when two guys arrived (Kreutzmeier and Todd?) with a message that I was being held hostage for the planet. His face became ashen and drawn. He thought for a moment, then grabbed his jacket and left his office. As he left, I noticed that K. and T.'s faces morphed into the features of Ori Priors.

In the next 'scene,' which I seemed to be watching from treetop level, Jack was running through Arlington Cemetery with his two security guards close behind. As their route swung around in my direction, I saw that the guards also had priors' faces. At that point, Jack looked over his shoulder and realized they were pursuing him, not guarding him.

As he tried to evade them, a Stargate shimmered into existence in front of him and an Ori prior stepped through it. Jack skidded to a halt in front of him. The prior pointed his staff and Jack burst into flames. His eyes turned to mine, pleading. There was nothing I could do except watch as his body collapsed into bone and ashes. The prior said with evil piety, "Hallowed be the Ori."

Think I must've screamed at that point. I jerked awake to find fellow passengers staring at me and the landing messages flashing on. One of the crew asked if I was all right. I said I was fine, just having a bad dream, then she told me to fasten my seat-belt.

By the time we landed, though my pulse had returned to normal, I was feeling cold and shivery. I called Jack at the earliest opportunity. He sounded surprisingly relieved, not like his usual laid back response.

"You okay?" I asked.

He paused for a moment before answering evasively. "Erm, yeah, I guess."

When I pushed for more, he admitted he'd fallen asleep at work - which he blamed on me for working him so hard last night {g} - and, he'd had a similar sort of dream to my own. We're now hoping that this is just a normal response to the current threat - or the rich food we'd had for dinner - and that the Ori don't have some sort of mindfuck ability. That we can well do without!

We really need more information about the Alterans in general and the Ori in particular, and right now, the only place I can think of to find any is Kheb.

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

Subject: Planning a mission
Mood: .hopeful.

Went to see General Landry first thing this morning and bumped into Doctor Lamb. She's been Janet's new deputy since Doctor Warner retired. She seems pleasant if a little distant. No doubt this will change as she gets to know us better as she undoubtedly will.

Actually, I'm definitely with Sam on one aspect of 'Wormhole Xtreme' and that was the unbelievable killing - make that assassination - of their Janet. It went totally against S.O.P. and without being referred to a court-martial.

Sam practically had steam coming out of her ears because they'd used her character as a tool in the plot. She has a life-size picture of Ron C. Coxall, who wrote the episode, pinned up in her lab and uses it for target practice. Actually, that's the second one. She totally disintegrated the first one during a particularly bad attack of P.M.S. But I digress.

I made my case for a visit to Kheb to Landry. I was planning on a solo mission as Oma would never allow any violence there so it's pretty much a no-go area for anyone with any sense. Landry said he wasn't prepared to risk my life as that argument didn't rule out those who don't have any sense. He would authorize a limited visit for S.G.-1. Why do these military types always seem to think that, just because I'm a civilian, I'm incapable of looking after myself?

"Because your track record suggests that this is so?" he asked.

"Yet, I'm still here," I said.

"Because you're a member of S.G.-1," he came back looking smug. ::headdesk::

I pointed out that the rest of S.G.-1 has better things to do. Sam's working on a weapon that we hope will be useful against the Priors, and Teal'c's got enough on his hands on Dakara with Gerak.

"Which leaves Mitchell..." Landry said.

Damn. I'd hoped he might follow my attempted misdirection there. I guess that as a compromise, it isn't too bad. He doesn't get in my way too much so the company might be nice. We leave at nine tomorrow morning. On the plus side, Landry was so pleased with himself for foisting Cameron on me that he forgot to put a time limit on the mission.

Friday, January 6th, 2006

Subject: A return to Kheb
Mood: mischievous.

The mission to Kheb yesterday went as planned - sort of. I did not need a bodyguard, as I'd predicted. So far as I was aware, we were the only two people within a hundred miles of the 'Gate. I was wrong about not having a time limit though. Landry, who is obviously slyer than he looks, had put a time limit on Cameron. He didn't bother to mention this until we'd arrived at the temple.

It took us nearly an hour's travel. This would normally have been a pleasant walk, but the sky was overcast and air was full of moisture that was neither mist nor drizzle but somewhere in between. I couldn't help wondering if this was Oma showing disapproval, or maybe sorrow, but I suspect she's probably still locked in combat with Anubis. Maybe Kheb itself is grieving for her. Who knows?

I tried to find out a little about Cameron as we walked. I really don't know very much about the man. It's like he didn't exist prior to the time our paths first crossed in Antarctica. Well, Sam had met him before but I hadn't. Seemed like he'd sprung into being as a full grown true blue American hero, period.

About all I found out on the trek is his parents are still alive, he's single, has a married sister, likes heavy rock music, martial arts movies, crime fiction, sport, but not hockey which is a bit of a relief, and he was practically an S.G.-1 groupie before he met us. Maybe that's why he's not very forthcoming about himself? And why he keeps calling me Jackson. I finally tackled him about his reluctance to call me Daniel.

"What's the matter?" I asked. "Afraid I'll jump you if you get too familiar?"

It was merely a humorous attempt to get him to loosen up a little, but I got a shocked 'deer-in-the-headlights' look in response. Now does that mean he's gay and suddenly scared that someone's outed him to me, or is he just homophobic? I decided not to follow up on his reaction, just gave him a reassuring smile. Maybe later...

I really hope he isn't a homophobe. That would be so difficult to live with. He's now taken to calling me J'—Daniel, but doubtless he'll get used to it eventually.

The temple looked a little dilapidated, which made me sad. Inside (I had to wait until Cameron, obviously a Jack 'Mother Hen' O'Neill clone, had declared the building safe) we found that leaks in the roof had obliterated some sections of text. I couldn't help wondering if this was a deliberate act on someone's part, as the missing pieces were fairly crucial - naturally.

It was at this point that Cameron said, "Well that's good, since you only have four hours until we have to set off back." I swear he's developing some of Jack's more annoying habits.

"Four hours?" I protested. "Who says?"

"General Landry," he said with that d'uh look.

My comments do no not bear reprinting here. Cameron's face took on its shocked - well surprised - look again, like civilians don't swear or something.

"I'm sorry if strong language offends you," I said with due sarcasm, "It's not like you've never heard me swear before but I'll swear in Abydonian or Latin or Amharic if you'd prefer..."

"It's not that. I've never heard anyone swear with quite so much fluency before," he said. Think we're back on the groupie trail again. I understand he was very much set on working with the original S.G.-1, not S.G.-1 mk II.

I pointed out that I was expecting to spend at least four days - preferably four weeks here. I'd already spotted several references to the Ori before Cameron dropped his bombshell. Well, not the Ori as such, but the phrasing was couched in such a way that it couldn't be anything else. I think.

Then it was looking like all I was going to have time to do would be to video everything I could that was relevant and then work on it back at the S.G.C. I keep trying to tell people that it just isn't the same, but do they ever fucking listen? Then they wonder why I feel under-valued. Less so latterly, but it's still there.

Then I had one of those lightning bolts of intuition. The waffle house where I last saw Oma wasn't real. Abydos wasn't real when Jack and Sam and Teal'c went back after Anubis had leveled it. So— maybe the temple wasn't real either.

I was standing in front of the seventh wall in my hunt for answers and videoing the texts on it. I put the videocam down, then simply closed my eyes and walked forward, believing that the temple was just an illusion. If I couldn't see it, it wasn't there. (I have picked up on a few of Oma's thought patterns.) When I opened my eyes again, I was on a flat area of grass facing the monk whom I'd met before on Kheb.

"Oma said you would work it out," he said with a smile.

I smiled and asked if he knew why I'd come back.

"When the stallion returns to the stable—" he began, took in my expression - maybe - and ended, "he seeks information about the Ori." He smiled broadly at having taken the wind out of my sails yet again.

"I don't suppose I'm going to get straight answers about how to deal with them?" I asked politely.

"Oma says that though there is light all around, it is difficult to see the darkness."

"Isn't that kind of stating the obvious," I asked.

The monk just looked inscrutable and continued, "sticks may turns arrows, yet when the sun shines, the arrows may pass."

"That's it?" I asked.

"Not quite. You may find the answers you seek where three staves follow a staff with a ring, two more rings and a serpent."

Then he changed form and drifted away on the wind.

While this was happening, I could hear Cameron calling my name in the background. He'd sounded quite distant. At first its tone was one of 'don't think you can hide now that it's time to pack up and make tracks.'

With the passage of time, it shifted through an irritated 'stop pissing me about' to an agitated 'Landry's gonna throw me through an in-coming wormhole if I go back without him,' finally ending in a 'whatifhe'sbeenabductedbyalienskidnapedbywhiteslaversorjustplaindead' flat-out panic. He really has some catching up to do regarding off-world missions.

When I looked around, there was no sign of the temple, just Cameron walking around with a death grip on his P90 and a baffled look on his face. Patently he couldn't see me. I was tempted to creep up behind him and say, "Boo!" but contrary to popular opinion, I do not have a death wish. Didn't mean I couldn't have a little fun though.

My pack was where I left it, of course, so I just ambled over, sat down beside it and waited for him to find me. Took him a good five minutes so I was all packed up and ready to go when he did. I gave him exasperated look and tapped my watch.

"I don't know," I said, "you tell me to pack up and then you keep me hanging around for ages..."

The look on his face was priceless.

"Where have you been?" he demanded.

"Right here," I said. "Where else would I be?"

"But - but I've been looking for you all over."

"Oh well, you know how it is with us ascended beings..."

Cameron and I returned to learn that a third planet has fallen to the Ori since the New Year, which is bad enough. Worse, Teal'c said Gerak is falling under the sway of one of the Priors.

We debriefed after Cameron and I had showered, and Janet had checked us out. Sam and Bill Lee sat in on the meeting too. I explained that I'd met up with the ascended monk - Cameron shot me a very suspicious look but said nothing - and I offered the 'clues' he'd given me for discussion. No one came up with anything that incontrovertibly fit so we moved on to Sam's and Bill's contributions.

Based on the research that was done on Anubis's genetic experiment, Khalek, they're working on developing a technology that might inhibit the Priors' enhanced abilities. Having identified which areas of the brain were firing when Khalek was using his abilities, they're trying to find a way of targeting those areas of the brain and incapacitating them by some sort of ultrasonic device.

I found myself identifying with Jack and the way his eyes used to glaze over when Sam got into her enthusiastic technobabble mode. I was using the time to polish the lenses of my glasses, and thinking maybe it was time I had my eyes checked again when a piece of Oma's puzzle dropped into place.

At the back of the eye, above the optic nerve, there's a blind spot - no light receptor cells, so no vision, however much light falls there. I guess that means the Ori have a blind spot. Somewhere. We just have to find it and... creep up on them there. Or something. Kind of like the way I managed to get close enough to Khalek to shoot him while his attention was focused on Cameron, I guess. At least it gives us hope that they can be defeated.

Saturday, January 7th, 2006

Subject: A horrible suspician
Mood: .worried.

I was at home grappling with the monk's cryptic clues when the 'phone rang. I answered it brightly, thinking it would be Jack. It wasn't. It was Doctor Lamb, Janet's 2IC, calling me in for tests. S.G.-6's leader Colonel Barnes, who told us yesterday that P2X-885 had fallen to the Ori, is in the infirmary, showing all the signs of the Priors' plague.

I went in immediately and was relieved when the tests came back negative for me. We're hoping that it's was spread by contact only, because an airborne plague would be seriously bad news. I'm thinking global pandemic.

I was thinking of looking in on Sam and Bill - also thankfully negative - with the view that three heads are better than one in unscrambling Oma's thought processes, when Sergeant Davis' dulcet tones came over the P.A. system. So headed down to the control room. Teal'c was making his sit.rep.

It's not good. He and Bra'tak have pretty much given up on keeping the council on the straight and narrow and Not-Ori. They were about to head for Chulak to contact other free Jaffa so far unaffected by the Ori, and attempt to get them to join forces. I took the opportunity to bounce some ideas off him regarding those Delphic clues.

"Does not Oma Desala make much use of symbolism?" he suggested. "Turning sticks into arrows seems entirely practical."

"No, that wasn't it. It was 'sticks may turn arrows,' and I'm an idiot," I said. "It's a reference to Achilles being dipped in the River Styx by his mother to protect him. Except that his heel stayed out of the water which was then his only vulnerable spot. And the sun shining would be a reference to Apollo who helped Paris to wound him with an arrow."

"So it would seem that the Ori have a weak point and thus may be defeated," Teal'c said. I wished him luck on Chulak and headed for my office and a cup of decent coffee - necessary if I'm to unscramble the rest of it, and quickly. 'Three staves follow a staff with a ring, two more rings and a serpent...?'

I met Sam heading in the same direction and for the same reason. Commissary coffee just does not cut it. I told her I'd got two parts which were basically introductory. Over coffee, I told her Teal'c's suggestion about symbolism. At her suggestion, I wrote down

"Looks like 'boo!'" I said.

"The 'two rings' look like a the mathematical sign for infinity, "Sam said.

"Well, the universe is infinite," I said, "but I don't see how that gets us anywhere."

"When we need to look somewhere...?"

We looked at each other as the penny dropped. "P8S-111," we said together.

"We have to go there as soon as possible," I said. I could see she had misgivings so I said of course she should stay and focus on the anti-prior weapon. "I'll just take Cameron."

"General Landry will never buy that," she said. "Kheb's one thing. This world is something else again. You've no idea what might be waiting for you, even if the MALP gives you an all clear. You know that. At least take Teal'c and Bra'tak with you as well."

"No," I said. "The fewer people that know about this, the better. Oma will know I'm likely to go alone and I don't think she'd deliberately send me into danger. Also I suspect she took a bit of a risk telling me this."

I suddenly had an awful thought. Sam demanded to know why I was looking horrified.

"The Ancients," I said. "They ascended to escape a plague of some sort. I'm guessing the Ori were behind that. Suppose they're creating havoc in our galaxy to flush them out and destroy them?"

"Oh my god! Then they would be completely unopposed," Sam said aghast.

"Except for us, and we're wa-ay out of our league here."

Sunday, January 8th, 2006

Subject: The mission to P8S-111
Mood: .satisfied.

Landry was inclined to veto the whole idea out of hand, but then Sergeant Davis came in to drag the general off to a meeting of our allies, so he didn't have time to argue the point.

"Trust me," I said as he grabbed his jacket, "it'll be just like old friends meeting up."

"Uh-huh?" he said on his way out.

I decided to take that as a yes and went to dragoon Cameron into riding shotgun. The MALP footage wasn't encouraging. It was a scene of devastation with a thick layer of ash as far as the eye could see with only a few blackened skeletal trees to relieve the grey monotony. But - there did look to be the remains of some sort of civilization in the distance.

I commandeered Sergeant Siler to send a U.A.V., the results from which seemed much more promising. The buildings had a look of the Ancients about them - maybe a little different. If not the Ancients, then maybe the Alterans. Or the Ori? I didn't think it could be the latter - didn't think Oma would deliberately put me in harm's way.

The buildings looked long derelict with nothing living there. Maybe it had once been an Ori site before they got the upper hand and had been annihilated by someone. It didn't seem likely that it had been the Ancients, though maybe they weren't always as non-interventionist. Oma can certainly - pack a punch when she wants to. Well, we would soon find out.

I dragged Cameron off before he had time to think of questioning the mission too closely and before Landry came back to veto it. It was a long and dreary march, so different from the walk on Kheb despite the poor weather. We didn't talk much.

About half-way there, Cameron asked out of the blue how I'd managed to talk Landry into letting the two of us go gadding off on our own. I explained why we couldn't take Sam and Teal'c and he assumed that Landry had bought my arguments. Or he forgot to ask. Sam isn't the only one whose long discourses can make people's brains shut down. {eg}

A little later on, he suggested that maybe we should think about all-terrain motorcycles for a mission like this, or maybe quad bikes. He was rather surprised that we didn't already use them - said he was a bit of a boy racer in his youth. Wonder if Sam knows this? I thought it could be a good idea - the quad bikes at least - and suggested he recommend the idea to General Landry.

Throughout the journey, which took nearly an hour and half and would have been soo much quicker with motorized transport, we saw no trace of life. Specifically, were saw no footprints or vehicle tracks. The ash had a crusted surface which left deep footprints behind us and there was little loose detritus blowing in the eddying breeze so it seemed safe to assume that it had been a long time anyone had come this way.

The buildings, when we reached them, seemed to be the remains of a scientific complex. Cameron went to check out the living quarters and left me to the labs.

"When does Landry want us back?" he asked as we split up.

"There's no time limit on this one," I said. Given that I'd extrapolated Landry's grunted response to be authorization of the mission, it was fair to say that he'd said nothing about when we should return.

"You're kidding?" Cameron exclaimed, brain back in fully functioning mode.

I denied it, saying that the mission had high priority, which it does, though not necessarily in Landry's mind. "And in view of the high priority, I'd better make a start sooner rather than later," I said, heading for the main building.

It is so easy for geeks to bullshit the military. {G} This is just as well given their apparently innate inability to think outside the box when the box isn't strictly military.

Outside the entrance to the main building were a number of charred and crumbled remains of skeletons. As I stepped over and among them, I wondered who they were - Ancients fighting a last ditch defence? Attacking Ori? Or vice versa, or something else entirely?

The first problem was gaining entry. The huge blackened double doors were solidly closed and with no obvious means of opening them. In the back of my mind, I could hear Jack saying, "Not a problem. Just need a little C4." I could see the smug expression on his face as he said it, too. I miss him.

I was on the verge of capitulating to Jack's suggestion when I noticed that what I initially took to be decorative beading around the door frame incorporated the Ancient glyph, 'dic,' or 'speak.' I took this to mean that the either door mechanism was voice operated or they used some sort of intercom.

I pushed on the glyph which moved inwards, and said, "Daniel, sodalis Ascensorum sum." (I am Daniel, companion of the Ascended.) I figured that neither 'Antiqui' (Ancients) nor 'Alteri' (the Others) would be current parlance when the system was in use. The voice that replied sounded just like the annoying pseudo-female you get on voice mail. Argh!

"Dic tessaram hodie si placet."

Great! Today's password... Where did I start to find a password for a system last used possibly - probably - thousands of years ago. I tried a number of possibilities without success and was beginning to feel like Gandalf outside the Gates of Moria. Then I heard an amused chuckle behind me and turned to see Cameron holding up an offering of a pack of C4. How long had he been watching me? His face was wearing pretty much the same smirk as Jack's when he thinks he's about to put one over on me.

I thought of Gandalf again. "Amicus!" I said defiantly. And the doors opened. It was worth the previous frustration to see the look of disappointment on his face.

"So, find anything interesting?" I asked. "Looks like they were evacuating when trouble arrived," he said. "There are eight accommodation blocks. I looked round one which had capacity for a dozen people which suggests a full complement of over a hundred, but I only saw five skeletons out in the open and none in the living quarters. Four of them'd been carrying baggage of some sort. Just seemed to have contained personal items. The placement of the skeletons suggests they were heading here and got caught out in the open."

He seemed to think he'd done his bit and reassigned himself to 'helping' me. This meant him walking round aimlessly and picking up random objects with no sign of respect for their age and provenance - kind of like Jack, actually. Eventually, I had to tell him he was distracting me and that I'd get on much quicker on my own. He took himself off looking a little crushed, also like Jack. Did I mention I miss him?

I took a moment and tried to think myself into the Ancient mind set. Where are all those memories when I really, really need them? First, I walked around the huge building trying to imagine where Oma might lead me if she was there, and just followed my intuition. With hindsight, maybe she was.

My eye was drawn to a large screen like a flat screen monitor. After a few trials and errors, I found the right glyphs to press. With a few static crackles, it came to life - obviously built to last. What followed was, in effect, a final news bulletin-cum-message for posterity read by an elderly woman with short wavy hair.

The gist of it was that the group was abandoning the base as its existence had become known to the Ori. They had learned to ascend like the Benevoli, which I presume was the name they gave themselves before they became known as the Ancients.

However, the Ori had taken a different route to ascension because the Benevoli would not help them. The Benevoli knew that the Ori motives were tainted with the urge to power - to control. So the Ori had found their own way - one which relied on their using the life force of others. Of course, people don't willingly surrender their life force without good reason, so the Ori gave them one. They would help the Alteri - the Others - to ascend once they themselves had done so. It was an empty promise which they had no intention of keeping.

Therefore, the Benevoli had helped the Alteri to ascend and both groups left the Ori behind on Origo, the first world. Now that the Ori had managed to ascend, they had discovered this particular Benevoli group and were bent on destroying them along with all the Benevoli wherever they might be. So my apprehension about that was correct. :-(

As their final act before leaving, the Benevoli had produced this broadcast in the expectation that the Ori plague - I think she meant the Ori themselves as a plague in the galaxy - would spread and that future victims would come here in search of a remedy. If this was the case, the viewers would find what they sought in room nine. The items we would need were—

At this point, there was a massive explosion off screen, the reader jumped up and the transmission cut out. Argh! Then it flickered back on for a moment and the reader said, "Cavete Ori! Omnia pollicentor sed nihil dant!" (Beware the Ori! They promise all but give nothing.) That was the end. There was no more. Crucially, there was no information about those items we would need...

I went in search of Room 9 which was surprisingly not easy to find. Between Rooms 8 and 10? Nope. Well, sort of. It was accessed by concealed doors at the rear of both those rooms. On a cursory glance, they looked just like a continuation of the back wall. However, the search was well worth the effort.

Along the back wall of Room 9 were banks of racks like those one sees in British castles for storing rows of vertical spears. They were all empty except for one which held five prior-style staffs. On a counter to the left, amongst a collection of tools(?) which I couldn't identify, were a number of milky cabochon crystals in pink and greeny-blue, smooth and egg-shaped, a little like the Asgard communication stones.

On the opposite counter were more of the crystals - opalescent this time - and a greyish-brown latticed cube. It looked like it was made of naquadah. It also looked suspiciously similar to Telchak's device that we brought back from Honduras. Could this be the answer to curing the plague?

I went over to it, but it generated no sense of the power that Telchak's had. I picked it up, and it fell apart like one of those wooden puzzles that you have to fit together to make a cube. The disappointment I felt was immense. I thought of the five would-be escapees Cameron had found. Maybe this device was just a prototype - that it had never worked. If it had, maybe the five would've been resurrected?

I inspected the pieces. Most of them were straight, but some had smooth incurved edges. I wondered it one of the crystals was supposed to be in the center of the cube, and if so, which one? I wished we had Sam with us. Still, it would be no problem to carry the lot of them back to the S.G.C.

I turned my attention to the staffs, went over to the rack and lifted one of them out. This time, I did feel a power surge as soon as I touched it. The crystals incorporated in them looked pretty much identical to the ones on the first counter. I was fairly sure that they were the source of the priors' power.

Thinking of the Asgard again, it occurred to me that maybe one of the crystals functioned as a comm. unit. I called Cameron. He appeared almost immediately which made me wonder if he'd been covertly watching me at work. Groupie! I tossed him on of the staffs which he caught as a reflex action. As his hand touched it, his eyes opened wide in surprise. I turned my back on him.

"Can you hear me, Cameron?"

"Of course I can hear you!" he said, like he was stating the obvious.

"That's good," I thought as I turned to face him, "because I'm not actually saying anything."

"You a ventriloquist?" he asked, looking suspicious.

"No. Why don't you try thinking something?"

He screwed up his face like it would take great effort. I laughed. I felt a sense of exasperation but no actual words.

"No, just think a sentence," I thought.

"Like what?"

"Well, that'll do for now," I said out loud.

"You mean, you got that?"

I gave him a d'uh look. "I suspect these are slightly different from the priors' staffs, and possibly pre-date them. I think one of the crystals creates some sort of telepathic link. The other one I'm not so sure about."

I directed his attention to the other counter. "And I'm hoping that something here will cure, or at least halt the spread of the plague."

I took him back to the main lab and showed him the final broadcast, giving a rough translation as it played.

"I'm hoping that we can use the staffs to communicate this to the priors."

"And what then?"

"Well, I'm just guessing here, but I think that maybe, during the hours of prostration, the crystals are either collecting life energy from the worshipers or acting as a conduit transmitting that energy direct to the Ori. Without the priors and their staffs, the Ori won't get the energy they need to remain ascended."

"But what's in it for the priors?" he asked.

"Well, that's the point. There is nothing in it for the priors. They think the Ori will share the secret of ascension with them, but they won't. They don't share."

"And if we can convince the priors...?"

"Right. Nobody likes being taken for a fool, and used."

We went back into Room 9 and began packing up all the crystals and the pieces of the cube which should keep Sam in scientific heaven for weeks. We were nearly done when we heard the sound of footsteps from the main lab. Shit! That was careless. Even though we were apparently alone, should still have shut the door.

Cam and I looked at each other and grabbed a staff each. He took one exit from Room 9 and I took the other. We peeped out but saw nothing, then went to the doors from the main lab. There were more sounds of tramping feet - about four people, Cam thought. Someone spoke near my door and I recognized the voice as Captain Grogan.

"It's okay, it's S.G.-12," I thought back to Cameron so we came out of hiding.

Colonel Coburn, now team leader of S.G.-12, came over. "I'm sorry, Doctor Jackson," he said. "General Landry wants you back at S.G.C. immediately."

"Oops," I thought, forgetting I still held the staff.

"Oops?" Cam's thought came back loud and clear and very suspicious. "You did get permission for this mission, didn't ya?"

I shrugged. "He didn't actually veto it, so yes. Sort of."

"Oh, great!"

Colonel Coburn gave us both a funny look. "Either of you want to say anything?" he asked.

"Er, yes. You've just come in time to help us take back the spoils," I smiled.

We trekked back in optimistic mood. Until we were close to the 'Gate - which began to activate...

The scattered skeletal trees, while they provided a little protection, were inadequate for hiding behind, but we gave it a try anyway. The event horizon stabilized and three priors stepped through.

"Reckon they picked up on us using the staffs?" Cameron thought, then grinned as Coburn, Grogan and Gibbs who were carrying the other staffs, gave him astonished looks.

"Sorry," I thought, dragging the astonished looks my way. "Forgot to mention that these things enable you to communicate telep—"

"People of the Tau'ri," the lead prior interrupted. "Bow down and worship the Ori or you will be destroyed."

I stepped forward. "Oh, I don't think so."

"The Ori are all powerful. You are as chaff before the wind."

"And you, my friends, are like logs beside the fire, waiting to feed the flames."

"Thus the Evil Ones seek to deceive the beloved of the Ori."

"You're only beloved by the Ori because they're secretly stealing your lives."

"You lie, deceivers!"

"No, the Ancients, or to give them the name they call themselves, the Benevoli, do not lie, neither do they manipulate humans the way the Ori are manipulating you."

"You cannot know this."

"I can because I was once one of them until I returned to help my people, the Tau'ri. You see, unlike the Ori, the Benevoli don't interfere in the lives of humans."

"Lies!" he screamed.

Cameron stepped forward to join me. "Nice try. Liked the metaphors."

"Now you will all die," the prior screamed, lowering his staff towards us.

We were quicker. An exchange of looks was enough. Together we aimed our staffs at the prior and focused. I wasn't sure what would happen - an energy surge to knock him off his feet maybe. If we were lucky.

"Bloody hell," Cameron murmured as a couple of electrical discharges converged on him like bolts of lightning leaving a smoking, blackened pillar that slowly crumbled to the ground. If I was shocked, the other two priors were stunned into immobility.

Cameron recovered first. "Now go. Tell the other priors what happened here today. Especially tell them that the Ori promise you everything but will give you nothing. They're just using you, you fools! Go on, scram!"

And they did. Just hope we haven't just opened up another can of worms. ::sigh::

We returned to a stony-faced General Landry and a full complement of S.F.s in the 'Gate Room, all with their weapons turned on us.

"My office. Now." Landry said in a voice that brooked no discussion.

"Let me handle this," I thought, as we surrendered our weapons.

Cameron scowled a negative at an S.F. who moved to take his staff, and thought, "Be my guest." The thought had an overlying snark of, "You got us into this..."

"What the hell did you think you were doing," Landry demanded of Cameron as we entered his office.

"Sir?" Cameron said with just the right amount of bafflement.

"That's good," I thought back at him.

"Going off on your own to an unknown planet and without either authorization or back-up?"

I stepped in. "Unauthorized, sir?"

"Yes, Doctor Jackson, unauthorized."

Putting on what I hoped was my best innocent expression, I said, "I'm sorry, sir, I understood you to approve of the mission when I put it to you this morning, and I did take Colonel Mitchell as back-up."

He did a double-take at that.

"You didn't say no, sir, and the mission was very successful. Sir."

"It was, was it?"


Between us we gave the general the salient features of the mission and our hopes for what it could achieve after which we were sent off to the infirmary. A full briefing was set up for 18.00.

We told our tale again for the benefit of the rest. As I expected, Sam was in seventh heaven and positively drooling over the crystals. Bill Lee got busy picking over the pieces of the proto-Telchak cube. Doctor Lamb reported that the plague had taken a strong hold over the base and had spread to the Springs. We needed a very quick fix or it would soon cover most of the States as it had become apparent that the virus was airborne.

Teal'c and Bra'tak had gone to Chulak to rally support among the free Jaffa and were then planning to go to P9G-844 to try to enlist th support of the Sodan also, as the prior had succeeded in turning Gerak.

"That could play to our advantage," I said. "If Sam and Doctor Lee can configure one of the staffs so that they can communicate the Benevoli message to Gerak, via his staff, I think he would be strong enough to break through the prior's brainwashing. He didn't throw off the tyranny of one set of false gods just to fall prey to another. If we can get him back, he stands a better chance than any of us to persuade the other priors to abandon the Ori."

"And you think they could— would stop the plague?" Doctor Lamb asked. "Now would be better than sooner..."

"We could try the staffs now," I suggested. "We managed to make them work destructively..." (Still feeling guilty about that, and am wondering more and more what I did when I was ascended.) "Maybe they could work for good."

We had nothing to lose. Cameron and I went to the infirmary with Doctor Lamb. It was packed to capacity and Janet looked rushed off her feet.

"Oh, not you, too?" she said when we arrived.

We reassured her and decided to begin in the ICU.

"Together," I thought. "Three, two, one."

We banged the staffs on the floor the way the priors do. A brilliant wave of light spread outwards. We wondered what we'd done. Later, Janet told us that the alien virus had disappeared, but those who were sick before still were.

"It seems just like a bad dose of 'flu now," she said, "so we're hoping that their immune systems will kick in and fight off the secondary infections that the alien virus left them with. Thank you!"

We had no idea of the area of effect so we went up to the top of the mountain to repeat it.

"Together," Cameron thought. I nodded. He transferred his staff to his other hand and took a firm hold of my hand. "Three, two, one..."

Another wave of light spread out across the country as far as we could see.

"That should do it," he grinned. He was still holding my hand. That guy is so not a homophobe! This poses another problem for me. Although he didn't actually think anything right then, the vibes he was giving off said that he wants me. But, the love of my life is - and always will be - Jack. On the other hand, the thought of Cam as a fuck buddy is very appealing. Damn!

Tuesday, January 10th, 2006

Subject: Teal'c in persuasive mood
Mood: .even more satisfied.

Things are continuing to go our way for a change. Sam and Bill Lee pulled out all the stops on the communications crystals and surpassed themselves. The staffs were all programmed to give the original message followed by my translation.

When Teal'c called in from Chulak, we updated him. As a result, he came back to the S.G.C. to collect a staff to use in working on Gerak. Meanwhile, Cameron went with Bra'tac to P9G-844 as he already knows several of the Sodan.

Teal'c fared very well with Gerak. This was good news as, on the orders of the Ori, Gerak had taken a fleet of hatak vessels to destroy the resistance on Chulak. Actually, that wasn't a particularly bright move by the Ori. Gerak was a very new 'convert' and when you've just been through hell with your warrior brothers, it kind of goes against the grain to try to wipe them out.

Teal'c persuaded him to come down to talk first. They met at a memorial to a battle in the war for freedom from the tyranny of the goa'uld. Teal'c began by reminding Gerak what they'd been through to gain their freedom and wondered that Gerak should be prepared to surrender that dearly won freedom so easily. Gerak assured Teal'c that the Ori are the real deal - cue the recorded message.

Of course, Gerak knows that Teal'c isn't a bullshitter. Gerak's also not the kind of guy to take being used as a stooge lightly. He was all set to take on the other priors right then and there, but Teal'c persuaded him to come to the S.G.C. Knowing that the priors have a tendency to combust spontaneously once their usefulness is done, he thought it might be a good idea to trade in his Ori staff for one of ours.

So Sam is now carefully deconstructing Gerak's staff. She's in a shielded room as she doesn't want any Ori transmissions blowing it up. More importantly, we don't want them turning her into a pillar of flame! She's hoping that we can turn that idea back on them by destroying the power crystal rather than the prior. They're more victims themselves than actually evil.

Then another Ori staff arrived with Cameron. A prior had shown up at the Sodan village while he and Bra'tac were there, so they managed to turn another prior. Mark up another one for the Good Guys!

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

Subject: The course of true love?
Mood: . pissed off.

Just when you think things are beginning to go your way, the fickle hand of Fate comes and slaps you down again. ::sigh::

At last, I have a little breathing space. The S.G.C. is currently working on reclaiming the worlds that have fallen to the Ori. By turning their priors, we deprive them of their power and the more priors who 'see the light' as it were, and come over to our side, the more the balance tilts in our direction.

Of course, this is a little simplistic. I'm sure the Ori won't just throw in the towel and creep away. In the first place, god-like beings don't like playing Goliath to our David, and in the second place, it seems likely that they carry a grievance a long way. They wanted to wipe out the Benevoli - what? a thousand years ago? - and that bad blood had been carried over from when they first achieved ascension, many more thousands of years ago. No, the Ori aren't going to stop while there are any Benevoli - Ancients - left in this galaxy.

The more I think about it, the more certain I am that Oma was guiding me. My thoughts are also leading me to the certainty that the Alteri - the Others - will eventually have to get off the fence and become pro-active. This too, is worrying. After millennia of inactivity, I'm wondering how fit they'll be when they do come up against the Ori. And how much control they'll have. We really don't want to be playing piggy-in-the-middle here.

I rang Jack to put him in the picture. I know how much he hates reading reports so I figured I'd make it easy on him by telling him what he most needs to know.

As I wound down, he asked, "So, Daniel, how's your number one fan?"

I was clueless for a second then realized what he meant a beat before he drawled, "Lieutenant. Colonel. Cameron. Mitchell..."

Oops. I wondered if I'd mentioned him a little too often or a little too warmly.

Jack chuckled. "Come on, Daniel, I know you have needs, and I wanted someone around you that I could trust. Didn't want you going cruising."

"Going cruising?" I squawked. "I've never gone cruising in my life!"

"You haven't?" He sounded surprised.

"You have." It wasn't a question.

"We-ell," he muttered, "not since I found you."

"So you thought you'd 'fix' me up? That was nice," I said with ungracious sarcasm. "So what are you doing? You 'have needs' too."

"Jealous, Daniel?"

"A little, I guess. So— what are you doing? Or should that be whom?"

"Oh, I get by," he said, sounding a little shifty.


The penny dropped heavily just as he elaborated, "well, you know, Harry and I go back a long way, and as he's in D.C.—"

I slammed the 'phone down. And ignored it when it rang again. The answerphone kicked in and after my invitation to leave name and number and I'd get back to the caller, Jack's voice came on.

"Daniel, pick up. ...Aw come on, Daniel. I miss you, that's all... And Harry knows the score. Actually, he suggested a threesome."


There was a faint chuckle before he continued. "Oh, but don't worry, I declined on your behalf... Daniel? Daniel!"

Then the answerphone cut him off.

Sunday, January 15th, 2006

Subject: All's well that ends well.
Mood: .cheerful.

Did not sleep well last night. The whole thing kept going round and round in my mind and my brain just would not shut down...

Okay, we're not married, and never likely to be in this homophobic organization, but I feel cheated. And with Harry of all people. How long has it been going on? Harry's been in D.C. for over a fortnight at least.

Jealous? Oh, sure you betcha! There's Jack in the center of things, doing heaven knows what, while I'm stuck out here in the middle of nowhere putting my ass on the line every time we set foot through the 'Gate.

And then the guilt thing kicked in because I'd been thinking of hot, mindless sex with Cameron. But— I was only thinking of it. I didn't go ahead and do it without so much a word to Jack about whether he would be okay with it. He did! I felt like heading over to Cam's place, rousting him out of bed and fucking him right there and then.

That thought had me feeling seriously horny which does not help when you're trying to get to sleep! Argh!

That led on to my remembering Jack's intimation that he'd pretty much chosen Cam as potential fuck buddy for me while he wasn't around - my pet toy boy? I hate being manipulated.

I laid in till ten o'clock, then gave in and got out of bed feeling horribly groggy. I'm not a morning person at the best of times and this was not the best of times. The day definitely needed a three-coffee start. Then I had a fourth as by then, it was time for elevenses. The 'phone rang, but I ignored it once I'd checked caller ID. I was still too pissed with Jack. He didn't leave a message. Maybe he'd got the message?

[ Later ]

He rang again an hour after that, then again at two o'clock and still left no message. The fourth time he rang, he did speak.

"Daniel, come on, pick up..."

When I didn't jump to it, he continued a little testily, "Oh come on, Daniel. You're behaving like a spoilt brat..."

That did it. I grabbed the phone, then took a deep breath to gather a modicum of self-control and said coldly, "Better than being a slut, Jack."

"What?" he sounded surprised.

"Oh come on, Jack, you admitted you'd been doing Harry behind my back. How long has it been going on? And how many more were there?"

"Daniel! It was only the once, I swear." He did actually sound shocked which gave me pause. After a long silence he said simply, "I miss you."

I sighed. He sounded kind of crushed and I didn't want to screw things up irreparably, but—

"So why did you send 'someone you could trust' to service my 'needs' if it wasn't so you could screw around with a clear conscience?" I asked a little less snarkily.

"It wasn't like that, Daniel, on my honor."

"Then why didn't you talk to me about it? Ask me if I minded before you - you know - with Harry?"

"It was just a spur of the moment thing. I was feeling low after you left and he was there. It wasn't premeditated. Mitchell? Well, he clearly had the hots for you. I figured you needed someone more your age, someone who could keep up with you, not an old guy like me—" He tailed off.

Shit! Way to make me feel a heel...

"Jack, how can you think I'd trade you in for a younger model? It's you I love. It's one of those now and forever things. And as for you not keeping up with me, you wore me to a frazzle over Christmas and the New Year. I thought I'd never walk straight again!"

"Really?" he asked, sounding much perkier.

"At the risk of feeding your already overblown ego—"

"Not that. The 'now and forever' thing."

"I don't say what I don't mean. You should know that by now."

"Sweet! Same here by the way."

"So... you wouldn't mind if I fucked Cameron then?"

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

Subject: Wormhole Xtreme.
Mood: .irritated.

'Project Prior' has been continuing with moderate success. The more who lay down their staffs as it were, the less control the Ori can exert.

Teal'c's returned to Earth. He says that Gerak has been thoroughly chastened by his run in with the Ori. It was a little humiliating to find out how easily he was manipulated and he's now doubting his ability to make good judgements. He's stepped down from the council, and Teal'c's managed to persuade Bra'tac to stand for election as head of the Jaffa Council. It seems likely he will be elected unopposed. So far, so good.

Yesterday evening, we went out for dinner at O'Malley's. Sam had fun at the pool table. Her winnings paid for the meal and we managed to leave without getting into a fight. We went back to her home coffee and a little relaxation as Teal'c wanted to catch up on the latest episodes of his favorite program. ::sigh:: (Sam had recorded the last two episodes for him as his machine is on the fritz.)

This was not a success! Well, the recording was. Unfortunately... Suspect Gephura Studios' spy has been having difficulties. Security at the S.G.C. was tightened up considerably since the Ori took such a keen interest in Earth so they've had to come up with their own stories. These did not go down well with this audience. Sam was spitting bullets as usual.

"Oh come on," she grumbled. "Stephanie Carpenter's an astrophysicist like me. Since when was she a medical doctor or a biologist?"

She was seriously pissed off that they'd brought in Orlin as a small boy to help their Sam, muttering something about turning her into a scruffy pedophile. Can we say, deus ex machina? Oma may have given me a helping hand. If so, at least she was subtle about it.

And would someone please tell that Jerry Maladroit, who mangled 'deus ex machina' into an episode title earlier on, that 'ex' is a preposition? It governs the noun it precedes. (Pre-position? No?) and then tell him it takes the ablative case, which would be deo not deus Just because word order in Latin is variable, doesn't mean it doesn't have some rules.

Garek - their Gerak - was killed off at the end of one episode. Teal'c said nothing but his face eloquently showed his ire.

"'Is it not just a television program?'" Sam asked with a smirk. She'd calmed down a little but it didn't last, just until they institutionalized their Orlin...

Cameron was quite laid back about it all, amused by the reactions the program provoked. The next episode, 'Concomitant Harm,' was centered around Callum Maxwell. Cameron was a little less charitable about that one.

"Oh, I hope they're not going to turn him into a womanizer," he muttered.

"Oh, please," Sam said, rolling her eyes, "their S.G.C. is like an intergalactic dating agency."

Cameron shuddered. "I thought this was supposed to be a science fiction show," he protested. "You know, going through the Wormhole, having adventures, that sort of thing, not soap opera central."

"Welcome to my world," Sam said.

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

Subject: Sam's secret addiction.
Mood: .amused.

Went down to Sam's lab. to take her some of these new cookies I discovered, and to see how her latest project is coming along. She's developing a personal all-terrain vehicle from a quad bike. Landry gave us the go-ahead on that one. It will also function as a mini-FRED. Pity no one thought of it sooner. I'm sure Jack's knees would've been very grateful.

When I arrived, she was solidly focused on her computer monitor and didn't hear me come in. I'd gotten right up to her before she noticed, then she gasped, closed her laptop sharply and turned seventeen shades of pink.

"Sam?" I said.

She started breathing again. "Do you have to creep up on people like that?" she asked, still a little flustered.

"Ah, I didn't creep up on you, Sam. You were just totally engrossed in what you were reading. What was it, by the way? Nothing to do with work judging by your reaction," I grinned.

"I thought for the moment you were General Landry"

"Thank you for that."

"No, I didn't mean— It was my peripheral vision. You were just an Air Force blue shape..."

I let her off the hook on that one. "So what was so enthralling then?"

"Um, you won't like it," she hedged.

A while back she'd found some fan groups set up for/by fans of W.X. and joined a few of them for the purposes of venting. From there, she'd found something more interesting.

"They write their own versions of the show," she said. "Some of them're much better than the actual program."

I reached over to open the laptop, but she grabbed it and said, "No, you're not reading that one!"

"Why not?"

"It's— it's... not suitable."


She bit her lip and looked amusingly guilty, like a kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar. "It's - um - it's slash."

"Slash? As in...?" I know what slash is, but couldn't resist winding her up.

"Um, it's about... er... well - relationships."


She sighed. "Gay relationships, Daniel." She hung her head as she expected me never to speak to her again.

"Ah. Fine," I smiled. She let me see what she was reading. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but...

'Denzil Johnson, exhausted from the last mission, leaned back against the man he loved. He felt safe, encircled by the strong arms of his lover, Colonel Jon O'Flynn - strong arms that had carried him for over five miles through hostile and treacherous terrain. He cursed his carelessness in not tying his bootlaces properly. That sprained ankle could have cost the lives of his team. His cerulean orbs filled with tears - tears of anguish for letting the team down so badly and tears of gratitude for his manly savior.

'"Oh, Jon, I'm SO sorry!" Denzil whimpered.'

"What the fuck are you reading, Sam? I thought you said this stuff was better than the real thing."

"Well some of it is," she said defensively. "This is... um... this is a bit of an acquired taste."

"And you've acquired it?" I asked, appalled.

"No! It was recc'd in the 'Dainty Denzil' group. I was just looking to see if it really was as bad as I'd been told."

"You relieve my mind. A little."

I clicked another link and read a few lines of that. It was kind of mesmerizing in a trainwreck sort of way. I tried another one.


"Kimber and Gemma? Oh, they're the stars of these fics.," Sam giggled.


"Erm, Daniel, you will keep this to yourself, won't you...?"

Friday, January 20th, 2006

Subject: Back to normal?
Mood: .cheerful.

We seem to be getting back to some sort of normality at last. I'm working on translations from some MALP footage from a world we haven't been to before, P8Q-465. Leading away from the 'Gate is a dirt road. There are rows of stone pillars on either side for the first hundred yards or so - and they have runic inscriptions carved on them.

The stills suggest a mostly agrarian culture, and there's some sort of settlement, possibly a town, several miles away. The UAV reports indicate some potentially useful mineral deposits too.

As Teal'c said, "This is most interesting," while Cameron is as antsy as a kid getting ready for a trip to Disneyworld. Suggested Teal'c take him to the gym for a little sparring practice to work off some of his excess energy. Was I this excited before missions when I first started. Hm, guess I was.

Cam is even more distracting than Jack used to be. Being so much younger, he's even more peppy. He's fidgety too when he doesn't have anything to occupy him. In fact, I'm wondering if Jack picked him for his I.Q. (Irritation Quotient)...

Sam's going to finish converting the quad bikes over the weekend - they've now become known as PATTs, or Personal All-Terrain Transporters. BTW - so all being well, we'll be setting off on a new mission on Monday.

Saturday, January 21st, 2006

Subject: Foreshadowing?
Mood: . concerned.

Rang Jack this afternoon in anticipation of a little 'phone sex. Jack is so foul-mouthed, mmm. What he says and how he says it have me pretty much coming from that alone. However, it didn't go at all as planned - expected - hoped for.

He sounded a little distracted. I asked him if he was all right. He said, "Sure, never better," then went on to congratulate us on our successes with the Ori, however temporary that might be.

"Okay, so which way are we playing it today? Elevator? Off-world temple? The Jacuzz—"

"Oh, I don't think that would be a good idea right now," he cut in quickly.

"Are you sure you're okay?"

I asked. "Sure I'm sure," he said brusquely, then made an excuse and hung up.

I rang back a couple of times, but he didn't pick up. This had me worried in a nebulous kind of way. Thinking back to the Jacuzzi made me wonder if Harry was involved somehow. I logged on to the message board. Sure enough, there was a message from Rick Deckard 2019:

"Bought KT Tunstall's album, 'Eye To The Telescope' today. Probably the best track is 'Stoppin' the Love.' Not too keen on 'Miniature Disasters.' Might be better if it segued into 'False Alarm' but I doubt it."

This does not sound good.

Sunday, January 22nd, 2006

Subject: Shadows gathering?
Mood: .gloomy.

Checked my e-mail this afternoon - mostly junk, but one or two interesting items in the archaeology news groups. I tend to find them a little depressing because they make me feel left out of a world I should be a part of. I also find some of them incredibly frustrating because they are so far off the mark and I can't tell them. I can't even point them in the right direction.

But I'm getting off the point. There was an e-mail from Jack requesting that we set up an extra level of encryption on our machines. This puzzled me a little. We already have PGP encryption, which baffles Jack, yet he was offering to walk me through it. Why do I detect the hand of Harry Maybourne in this?

So now we have possibly the most secure communications in the world, available only to Jack and me and, I doubt not, Harry. Somehow this puts me off the whole concept of cybersex. Jack on the other hand is raring to go. ::sigh::

I e-mailed later asking, now that we are secure, what all the fuss was about and if it had anything to do with his standoffishness yesterday. It did. Harry - why am I not surprised? - has been busy on our behalf...

In a nutshell, Kreutzmeier and Todd are officially working for Turner Transport, which is a small trucking company and as such, not likely to attract undue attention. It's a subsidiary of R.P. West and Son, a warehousing company - also quite small in the grand scheme of things.

However, R.P. West and Son come under the umbrella of the MBC Corporation. This is a holding company run by the brothers Morton, Barrington and Chance Roberts. Also under the umbrella are number of electronics and IT companies and a weapons development company. Among others. They all seem to be flying below government radar.

This is looking worse and worse. Wish I wasn't going off-world tomorrow. Feel I need to be here.

Go earlier

Part 1 December 2005

Go later

Part 3 27th Jan - 21st Feb 2006

Part 4 22nd Feb - 24th Mar 2006

Part 5 25th Mar - April 2006

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