Clone Jack

 

:¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤:

Jack J. O'Neill was happy. His first year at the academy had been successful. With his special history, he had been admitted at the age of 17, and he had literally flown over the trainings and classes this first year. He had chosen Military Strategic studies for his major, like his first time around. If his early results during the second year were any indication, he was headed to a promising graduation. With the holiday season looming, he intended to spend his two weeks leave at his duplicate's cabin. 

Both men had reached an agreement: as compensation for Jack J.’s unfortunate predicament, Jack O'Neill had offered half ownership of the cabin to him. So far the arrangement suited him just fine. Whenever he needed the place, he sent Jack a short text message to announce he would be there. The rare times they had bumped into each other, it had only been to pass the relay. Whenever Jack was there, Jack J. was not, and vice versa.  Not that they did not get along fine but it was just too frustrating for Jack J. to get a glimpse of ‘what should have been’ while he was resting his ass on school benches. On his part Jack O'Neill had to be a little freaked out every time he saw a younger version of himself.

Jack J. knew who he had to thank for his life but he was not going to dwell on that forever.

The past four years had been all about studying and making the most of the situation he had been forced into. He was only moderately interested in partying (besides, drinking had been forbidden to him until recently). He was definitely not interested in girls *that* age –despite being the professed interest of manyso he chose to study. His admission to the academy had never been a problem, his path was already well traced and his rapid promotions planned in advance. He had even been wooed by the black operations section and he had declined more than once. He wanted only one thing: the Stargate Program. As soon as he was out of the academy, he was guaranteed the rank of major and command of an SG Unit by special order of the president and he was not going to jeopardize that.

Jack J. zipped his bag closed and locked his room before making his way down the stairs to the parking lot. He had decided to drive all the way to Minnesota, stopping at a motel along the way. The weather was clear and he should be able to make good time but he still had a long trip ahead of him.

As he was fumbling with the keys of his F150 a white flash enveloped him, leaving only his bag next to his red truck…

:¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤:

Jack felt the alien presence before his senses were fully alert. His eyes snapped open and he groaned. "Thor, has anyone ever told you that sneaking up on people is dangerous?" he showed the small gun he had retrieved from underneath his pillow.

The Asgard blinked. "Greetings, O'Neill."

A feminine voice groaned next to Jack and he turned his head toward it a brief moment.

"Greetings to you too, Colonel Carter," Thor said at the same tone.

Jack slapped his forehead and collapsed back down on his pillow. "Ah crap!"

"I will wait for you on board my ship, O'Neill. We need to talk."

Thor disappeared in a flash of light. Jack sighed.

"You have any idea what he wants?" Sam asked, snuggling into his side.

"No," Jack replied "but I'm pissed. He really needs to stop appearing out of nowhere! What if we had been…"

Sam's groaned “Don't even mention it!"

"Not that I'm a prude or anything but…"

"Jack!" she cut him off in an offended tone.

"Kidding!" he said before kissing her soundly. "I'd better put something on, I wouldn't want the little guy to get jealous…" He folded back the bed covers and headed for the bathroom.

Sam snorted. "Smartass!"

"Yes Ma'am, and a cute one at that, according to you!" he laughed, barely avoiding the pillow she threw at him.

:¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤:

Jack sat in the SGC briefing room. He had borrowed a set of military fatigues in exchange for the sweats he had donned before his meeting with Thor and was waiting for SG-1 and Major General Hank Landry to put in an appearance. To their credit, Thor had seemed to forget that 0430 in the morning was considered resting time for Earthlings… The alien was stoically seated in front of Jack while the latter endlessly drummed his fingers on top of the table.

Jack ran a hand through his tousled hair and then rubbed it down his cheek, grimacing as he realized he had not shaved for two days. Of course, he was supposed to be on vacation for at least another week, but Murphy's Law seemed to hang around his neck like a millstone. So here he was. At least he had showered, he mused.

There was a slight commotion at the entrance of the briefing room and Jack turned his head just in time to see Sam, followed by Teal'c, Cameron Mitchell, Daniel, Vala, and finally Hank Landry enter the room.

Thor blinked.

"All right, Jack, what's this all about?" asked an aggravated Hank Landry, getting straight to the point while the others grumpily sat down around the table.

"Thor and his buddies made some possibly interesting discovery that could help us beat the crap out of those Ori," Jack stated. "I might be the key to it, at least my clone might," he concluded.

"Oh?" Landry asked the alien.

"We have been trying to find a genetic solution to the Ori problem ever since our defeat when they invaded our galaxy. Conventional weapons have not been successful, and furthermore, we know that the Ori drive their power from the prayers of their followers." Thor started.

"You found a new super strong Asgard weapon to defeat the Priors?" Cameron asked, earning a warning look from Landry.

"I am afraid not yet, unfortunately, Colonel Mitchell. But upon studying some planets’ populations which did not seem to provide as much power as some others, we determined that a few genes showed a slight mutation, and that this was the reason the full deliverance of power from the prayer was prevented."

"…What about Jack's clone?" Daniel asked.

"To allow O'Neill's clone to live, we had to induce several mutations on certain parts of his genes. As a result, his genetic code is slightly different now than O'Neill's.  He is not able to use Ancient technology the same way O'Neill does because some of the modifications were made on the Ancient genes."

"Let me guess, the same genes that are involved in not delivering full power to the Ori?" Vala asked enthusiastically.

"In a way, yes, but we had not noticed this at first. At some point during our research in analyzing the various genomes, O'Neill's was used as the reference, and that is how we discovered that some of the mutated genes on the human genome corresponded to the ancient genes in O'Neill's and later, John Sheppard's. We used his DNA imprint to verify our theories.

"And the Ori have not noticed?" Sam inquired.

"At this point, it seems that they do not care or have not paid attention. They are focused on other matters undoubtedly.” Thor paused a moment, then resumed. "We tried several simulations with O'Neill's and Sheppard's DNA but the result was not as promising as we had first presumed. Heimdal was the one to think of O'Neill's clone, and the simulations we made on his DNA showed that there was a stronger potential," he concluded.

"O-Kay, how does this concern SG-1?" Cameron asked.

"Jack J. has disappeared," Jack blurted out.

"What do you mean, 'disappeared'?" Landry asked.

"We cannot trace his biological signature to anywhere in particular in the galaxy. We know it is there, we just do not know where." Thor said.

"You think the Ori have some responsibility in this?" Teal'c suggested.

"We do not want to rule out any possibility; his disappearance was sudden and total. If he were dead, we would know it because of the markers we left in both O'Neill and his clone. Only two of our enemies can do this: the Ori…"

"And Baal," Jack said in a somber voice.

Thor nodded slightly.

"That's going to be wild goose chase," Cameron stated. "We've had trouble locating him ever since he left Earth with his clones."

"Baal has several hideouts in the galaxy. We may not be able to find his bio signature, but I have an advantage over him that he doesn't even suspect…" Jack said in a resigned tone.

"What is it?" Daniel asked.

Jack looked at Sam. "I know the precise location of most of them."

"And you never mentioned this before because…?" Landry asked in an aggravated tone.
 
"Because I had no idea I still had it in my subconscious!" Jack snapped back. "Thor searched Kanaan's memories and apparently those Tok'Ra know how to keep a secret because it took him a rather long time to locate these and retrieve them! Kanaan had memorized the locations and plans of most of Baal's bases. Of course, this might be old history for some of them, but we still have an advantage over him, and that's better than nothing."

Hank sighed. "So what's the plan?"

Jack folded his hands in front of him and looked straight to each member of SG-1 in turn.

"We split. I'll take Carter with me. Mitchell, you take Teal'c, Daniel and Vala. Carter and I will go and try to find Jack J. at one of Baal's fortresses. The rest of SG-1 tries the Ori alternative. Thor screened several possibilities and Vala might be useful if Adria's involved in any of them."

"General?" Landry asked, concerned.

"This is a personal matter, General, you stay here to run the base, I'm going to save his butt. I won't let him go through this a second time." Jack said in a tone that left no doubt about his determination.

"If Baal is the one who abducted Jack J., how can you be sure he won't be able to find what Thor did?" Landry asked. "And if the Ori did it, then…. I'd rather not think about what they could have done with him.”

"So what if Baal does? The snake won't have time to move fast enough and we can track ships. Besides, the point is to find Jack J. before Baal tortures him," Jack retorted.

"You seem pretty sure Baal captured your clone," Landry stated.

"He has a name, you know," Jack said, clearly annoyed.

"This was our first assessment as well, General Landry," Thor interrupted.

"So why did he capture him?" Landry asked, matter-of-factly.

"We may have a leak in our security system," Thor admitted.

"Lots of 'if' and 'may' or 'might'," Landry said.

Jack sighed, "We don't have many options. My gut tells me Jack J. is with Baal, I'm going."

"You may do whatever you want with your gut, Jack, but SG-1 is my responsibility and I'm not going to send them on a wild goose chase just because you have a gut feeling!"

"A gut feeling that is supported by Thor, Hank!" Jack roared, clearly beyond civility. "My gut feelings have saved our collective asses more than once, if I recall correctly!"

Silence fell upon the briefing table. Jack looked at the older man dangerously then spoke in a voice that left no room for discussion.

"Besides being one of our own, Jack J. O'Neill is far more important than what you can ever imagine if my buddy Thor here is right. So either you move your butt and support me in handling this, or I make it an order. If I have to face charges for abusing my position, then so be it. This won't be the first or the last time I take action for the greater good."

"Okay, Jack, you're the boss, I just hope you know what you're doing," Landry said, clearly defeated.

"Thanks for your support," Jack smirked

Landry stood up. "SG-1, go get geared up and be ready to leave. Jack, can I talk to you in my office, please?"

"Sure", Jack mumbled. "I have to ask for a form to borrow equipment anyway," he quipped.

While SG-1 went their separate ways, Jack stepped into the other general's office. The latter closed the door behind him.

"Jack…"

"I don't know what's gotten into you, Hank, but I don't like the way you treated me out there!" Jack roared. "I'm not a rookie and I think I have proven enough times that my judgment is accurate!"

"Calm down, Jack and sit down, please."

"You're treading dangerous waters there," Jack said in a cold voice.

"Jack! I said what I said because I think you're taking this too much at heart! Don't tell me the Baal possibility doesn't have any importance in your personal involvement!"

"Of course it does! It did when my team was supposed to be in his hands two years ago. Baal is the only remaining system lord and I know first hand what he's capable of!” 

"And that's what worries me, Jack. How can I be sure that it's not clouding your judgment?" Hank asked, calmly.

"It's not. And besides, I'll have Carter with me, she'll keep me grounded."

"You outrank her," Hank deadpanned.

Jack smiled. "So? It's never stopped her before, it's not gonna stop her now, believe me, I know that first hand, too." He raised his eyebrows suggestively.

Hank looked surprised.

"What? It's not as if we're breaking any rule, and I won't be the one writing her evaluation, you will." He shrugged.

Hank chuckled. "I understand now why you were so eager to take that position in D.C."

"Not a word, Hank. Only Daniel and Teal'c know." Jack warned.

"My lips are sealed, don't worry…"

"Now can I fill in the form for my equipment?" Jack changed the subject, smiling.

:¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤:

Jack J. knew instantly where he was. He ignored the thrill he felt at being once again on a spaceship and concentrated on trying to know whose ship he was on. The vessel was of Goa'uld design, no doubt and he was probably at the hands of some enemy, too, as his binds testified. He was only vaguely aware of galactic current events. His SGC contacts were still bound by secrecy, even around him. He knew the system lords had been defeated and that on their ashes, a society of rogue Jaffa/merchants had arisen and taken the name "Lucian alliance". He also knew Baal was still on the run. So the possibilities were many but only a few were plausible. Somehow, he doubted he would be of any commercial value to the Lucian Alliance. He opted for the Baal alternative even though he was not absolutely sure why the defeated system lord would want anything to do with the clone of his nemesis, except to attract O'Neill into a trap. Maybe… Nothing was beyond the bastard anyway…

His musings were interrupted by a familiar clanking of armors. He tried to sit up straight.
The sliding doors opened and an overdressed Baal made his entrance.

"Ah crap!" Jack J. groaned. "What do you want from me?!"

"Your DNA," Baal deadpanned, his lips raised with that familiar smirk Jack J had come to hate.

"Wrong Jack O'Neill, Baal! I’m a clone, a copy, and my DNA’s not the same as the original!" Jack J. quipped.

"That is where you are mistaken, O'Neill. Because you are a clone your DNA presents certain interests that the original's doesn't!"

"Why am I not surprised?"

"Your Asgard creator Loki provided us with the most interesting information," Baal resumed.

"He's locked in an Asgard cell!"

"His body is," Baal stated, clearly amused. "I used his research to broaden my possibilities of action."

Jack J. raised his eyebrows inquiringly.

"My own clones," the Goa'uld stated. "Oh but you may not know about this." He chuckled. "However using his research proved inadequate, I needed more. I needed some insight into Asgard research, so I improved one of Anubis's devices…" He produced a small sphere from his robe. "Amazing that the spirit of an Asgard can be kept in such a small device!" he snarled.

Jack J. sighed, clearly not amused. "If you want to keep mine, you'll only need a marble, and I'm not even sure the extent of my knowledge would fit in such a large a space! So go on, be done with it and let me rest. I never asked for this cloning stuff but I had finally made my peace with the situation. Do whatever it is you want with me and then leave me alone."

Baal chuckled. "Oh, have no doubt, I will do whatever I want with you. We still have quite some distance to travel before I can continue with my experiment on you. In the meantime, I'd like to draw some of your blood and start validating a few theories." He smiled evilly.

He stepped aside and a woman followed by a floating device bearing several tubes and syringes came in.

"Ah crap." Jack J. said

:¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤:

 Jack and Sam saw SG-1 through the gate before readjusting their gear and stepping through the shimmering pool in their turn.

They arrived on P7G-RTF, a barren planet where, according to Jack’s memories of Kanaan, the System Lord Baal was known to have a base. The facility was subterranean and quite a walk from the gate. Jack and Sam started in that direction. Their trip was silent. They had not done this in a long time and were just enjoying the well oiled routine they had developed after all these years.

They walked several hours before arriving in sight of the cliff underneath which the base was located. Jack crept under a boulder and signaled Sam to do the same, then he produced his mini binoculars and scouted the area. He did not see any activity but that did not mean there was not any. They decided to approach with caution. When they reached the rock wall, Jack felt the surface with his fingertips, looking for some clue.

"Jack?" Sam asked after a moment.

"There should be a small cavity somewhere," he replied.

"There are lots of small cavities," she stated. "You know what it looks like?" she started to examine the wall.

"Well this cavity's not natural, it's carved and you have Goa'uld designs engraved in the rock. It's about this high," he indicated his chest.

Sam nodded and resumed her exploration of the wall. "Found it!" she said triumphantly after a short while.

Jack smiled. "I knew there was a reason I let you tag along with me."

"Smartass," she shook her head.

"Well Colonel Carter, your language lacks variety!" he chuckled, as he reached her position and examined the wall closely.

"Yep, that's the one," he murmured. "Now let's see if Thor's memory enhancement was worth the headache…"

He touched the symbols in a seemingly random pattern and after a short while, rings appeared to transport them underneath the surface.

The base was unlit and dusty. Jack and Sam switched on the lights on their P90s and started exploring the place. Jack took point and they silently walked along the corridors.
They went several levels down before finally reaching a barely lit chamber.

Jack's stomach lurched and Sam turned her head in disgust.

A dead queen floated in a tank, half eaten by the larvae she had apparently given birth to. They were as dead as the queen was and the stench was probably contained by the sealed tank. At least that was what Jack surmised and he had no desire to check it out.

"Sir, I think the base has been long abandoned," Sam stated in a breath.

"I think you're right, Carter." Jack admitted. "There's a chamber we should check out three levels up, that’s where he stored his Goa'uld gizmos, there might be some left…”
 
"Can we go now? This place gives me the creeps…" Sam said uneasily.

"Lead the way, Colonel." Jack agreed, gesturing with his weapon for Sam to retrace their steps.

:¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤:

SG-1 gated to a planet that had recently fallen into Ori's hands, but which was still open to travelers. They had dressed in native clothing. Teal'c concealed his bulky figure underneath a large poncho, Daniel wore a peasant's outfit. Cameron's was a mix of leather and tan material, and Vala' wore a simple dress, forced to forego her usual flashy wardrobe as she was supposed to be Daniel's wife traveling with their servant and bodyguard.

They came into the village and mingled with the population. The planet used to be a commercial trade post before its conversion to the Ori, so it was not unusual for travelers to come and go on traders’ errands. They booked a room at the local Inn and were informed of the prostration hours, a sine qua non condition if they wanted to remain and trade there. It was risky to ask too many questions and talk in the open, so they opted to meet and discuss their options in Daniel and Vala's room.

"We should try and speak with Sandika about how things are," Cameron started, referring to their contact the last time they had been here. "If he's still here, that is…"

"I believe it is better we go to the prostration first and observe if anything is different. It may give us some indication about our research." Teal'c said.

"Vala and I can go to the tavern and listen to what people say there. In my opinion, if the Ori have abducted Jack J., and unless they want to keep it a secret, there will at least be rumors." Daniel suggested.

"So we spilt?" Cameron asked. "I'm not sure I like this…"

"In such a small village, splitting is not too dangerous," Daniel said. "Who knows, Sandika may even be at the tavern…"

"And what if he's a faithful follower of the Ori?" Cameron asked.

"Sandika is a former first prime, and he saw the demise of Gerak. I doubt he will have fallen into the trap. He may be playing along, if he is still on this planet. But not a faithful follower." Teal'c affirmed.

"What time is the prostration?" Vala asked.

"Err…." Daniel started as a single bell started ringing. "Right now?" he winced.

Sg-1 exited Daniel's room and dutifully joined the rest of the village kneeling in the central square.

:¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤:

Jack J. woke up with a start. His head was pounding, no doubt the effect of the drugs the woman had pumped into his body once she had taken –in his opinion– gallons of his blood. When he had asked what it was, the woman had merely shrugged. He had briefly wondered if she even spoke English but was proven wrong when he heard her talk to the guards outside. He rubbed his neck, a difficult task given that his wrists were still handcuffed and wondered what day it was. His watch had been taken, along with his belt, jacket and pull-over. He was glad not to be dressed as a Tok'Ra this time, but socks, jeans, and a T-shirt were not his dream clothes in such a chilly environment.

A huge "clonk" was heard and the ship shuddered, leading Jack J. to think their journey had ended. As if on cue, the door to his cell slid open and two guards came in to grab him and drag him out.

"Why no Jaffa?!" he smirked. "How's the pay? Because you know, I'm thinking of a new direction for my blossoming career…"

"Silence!" one of the guards cut him off right before the rings activated and transported them into the Goa'uld's domain.

The guards then proceeded along brightly lit corridors that went further down what seemed to be a subterranean base. Jack J. was trying to keep his pants from slipping down to his ankles at the same time as he was trying to keep in pace with his captors. Finally, they reached the prisoners' cells. Jack J. was grateful for his sock clad feet which were starting to hurt between the rough ground and the bruising binds on his ankles.

"Lord Baal will come to see you momentarily!" the same guard announced while releasing Jack J.’s arms and opening the cell door.  Without support Jack J. slumped slightly against the second guard.  He muttered a soft ‘sorry’ before he got back to his feet.

"Watch it, human!" the guard growled.

"Well I haven’t practiced standing on one leg enough lately, and with those binds that’s what I’ve got as far as I’m concerned!" Jack J. shot back.

"Untie him!" the first one said as he pushed him into the cell.

The second guard grumbled something incomprehensible and bent down to loosen the binds Jack J. had around his ankles.

Jack J. watched calmly as the first guard switched the force field on, snarling. "I hope you will enjoy your stay."

A corner of Jack J.'s mouth curled up ironically. "I'm not sure I'd recommend this hotel, but maybe there's been some improvement since the last time I experienced the hospitality of the host."

The guards turned on their heels and disappeared from sight as Jack J. slid down the wall to a sitting position.

When he was sure he was alone, he winced in pain and slowly retrieved the three inch pin he had stealthily removed from the guard's belt and quickly hidden in his pants leg, managing to stab his thigh in the process.

:¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤:

SG-1 had barely managed to escape the Prior's magic and were running for the gate as quickly as they could. Upon arriving, Daniel frantically dialed Earth and Cameron sent the GDO code as soon as the shimmering pool sprang to life. The foursome dove into it, piling up clumsily on top of one another on the other side, as Teal'c shouted "Iris!"

The protective device slid in place as SG-1 climbed to their feet and went to meet their CO.

"What happened?" Hank Landry demanded.

"Ask Teal'c!" Cameron said in an aggravated tone.

"Colonel Mitchell, how was I to know that Sandika had been turned into a Prior?"

"I should have trusted my instincts!"

"Colonel!" Landry snapped.

"General, we were all misled," Daniel said to diffuse the tension. "We thought Sandika could provide us with some information, and indeed he did, just not what we were expecting…"

"Go get checked out by medical.  We'll debrief in two hours, hopefully General O’Neill and Colonel Carter will be back by then." Landry dismissed them.

:¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤:

It was the third base Jack and Sam had visited and so far, they had not even managed to retrieve working Goa'uld technology. They were getting desperate.

Jack navigated through the streets of the large settlement as if on autopilot. Sam had been surprised at first, not understanding why a Goa'uld lord would want to set a base in such a busy place, but Jack had assured her that this was only one of many entrances to a huge complex. Suddenly, the General entered a small building and disappeared. She was disoriented a moment until she heard his disembodied voice.

"Carter!"

"Jack?"

An arm grabbed her and she found herself in a barely lit chamber, pressed against a hard body.

"You should be more careful, Colonel." His breath tickled her ear.

"You have some talent at disappearing, General…" she replied.

Jack released her. "Okay, watch this." He raised his arms.

"You want to fl…" and suddenly he was gone, "Jack?"

He reappeared. "Cool, huh?"

She sighed. "What did you do?"

"Stay close to me, Carter, and learn."

She stepped to stand in front of him and once again, he raised his arms.
The moment she noticed his arms crossed an invisible beam, they were sent to another chamber in Baal's base. This one was richly lit and buzzing with noise. Jack and Sam crept out of the chamber cautiously and alternated their position, always keeping watch, their weapons at the ready.

Upon hearing an approaching patrol, they slipped into a room and waited for the noise to disappear. As they were about to exit the room, a man entered.

Jack raised his P-90 and pointed it to the man. "Who are you?" he asked softly.

"I could ask you the same question if I didn't know who you are, General Jack O'Neill," the man replied calmly. "I'm Kael of the Tok'Ra. We infiltrated this base when Baal gathered what was left of his forces to flee to Earth."

Jack relaxed a bit, yet not entirely.

"You know where Baal is?" Sam asked.

"Not at present, unfortunately. Come, let us go enjoy some more comfortable settings." He beckoned them outside with a sweep of the arm.

"Wait a minute," Sam demanded "Just how do you intend to prove you really are a Tok'Ra?"

Kael smiled. "Malek is here with me, I was on my way to see him."

"Ah, Malek!" Jack quipped. "If he's here, you won't mind leading us to him?" he smiled falsely.

The Tok'Ra nodded tensely and exited the room. He led them through several corridors, sometimes crossing paths with other people who appeared unarmed. They finally reached a large chamber with a long table in the middle. Several people were gathered at the end of it.

Kael turned toward his guests, smiling.

"Malek is there", he said, pointing to a bald man in the middle of the gathering.

Jack frowned, looking at Kael. "Malek?"

Kael's face darkened. "Malek was kept in Baal's cells for some time. He didn't come out of it unscathed. I'm afraid you will find his appearance changed, but he's still the same inside.

The three approached the group and the one Kael had designated as Malek raised his head. He had lost an eye and half of his face was hidden by a leather mask, but he was indeed the same man who had been among the Tok’ra willing to make the doomed Tok’ra/Jaffa alliance work.

"O'Neill? Colonel Carter?" he asked, surprised.

"Malek! Good to see you!" Jack winced.

The other man nodded. "What are you doing here?" he asked as he stepped forward.

"Can we go some place more private?" Sam asked.

"Of course, follow me," Malek beckoned them to another room on the left of the wide one. They entered thea smaller chamber, where Malek sat down behind a large table made of rock and showed Sam and Jack two seats facing it.

"I hope you will forgive my rude behavior out there, but I really did not expect to see you ever again," Malek started.

"Yeah well, the feeling's mutual," Jack quipped.

"I'm sorry, O'Neill, I didn't mean it that way…".

"Save it, Malek, we're here to find Baal. He's abducted one of our own, and we want to rescue him."

Malek's face fell. "I'm afraid I cannot provide you with any information regarding his location. However, our spies have mentioned a renewed activity and interest in Asgard affairs, and we are certain they all trace back to Baal," he offered. "He's our main target right now, too."

Jack was disappointed but he did not let it show. Sam knew though. She had seen the momentary flash in his dark eyes. She put a hand on his arm. "Sir, this is confirmation that he should be the main focus of our search," she said calmly.

Jack stood up. "Malek, it was good to see you again…"

"Wait, there's more." Malek said. "Have you investigated other bases?"

Jack sat back down. "Why? You wanna’ know what's there?"

"No, I know Kanaan was well aware of Baal’s plans and bases. I was among those who defined his mission to make an inventory of most of Baal’s resources, among other things…" he looked at Jack pointedly.

One corner of Jack's mouth rose. "Not much escapes you, huh?"

"I gave you some information," the Tok’ra replied.

"You did… This is the third base we visited, there are three left on my list of main bases. The other ones are secondary but not our main focus now…"

Malek nodded.

"There's one on P9F-324 that I want to raid next…"

"That one is deserted. We discovered it several months ago," Malek interrupted.

"Sir, maybe you could share your knowledge with Malek and narrow down our searches," Sam suggested.

"All right, but just because I'm desperate," Jack agreed reluctantly, making Malek chuckle.

"You haven't changed much, O'Neill.”

:¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤:

Sam punched in the code for the SGC and waited patiently for the gate to activate.
They had discussed the possibility of going straight to one of the two locations Malek had suggested but had agreed on debriefing and recouping a little at the SGC first. Malek was going to send his own people to monitor the activity at both locations and had promised to keep them informed. Jack had no other alternative than to trust him and besides, they both needed the rest.

Jack and Sam finally stepped down the ramp, giving their weapons to the SF in charge, before heading up to the infirmary where Hank Landry came to meet them after a short while.

"SG-1 had an interesting brush with a former contact," Landry stated as Jack patiently held his arm for the nurse to take a sample of his blood.

"So I heard from Walter," Jack said.

Landry chuckled. "Why am I not surprised?"

"Walter always had a soft spot for me, Hank…" Jack shrugged. "He likes to keep me up to date."

"I called a debriefing in an hour; I hope you're up to it. You look like crap, Jack." Landry said sympathetically.

"You would too if you hadn't slept in three days, you know."

"Anyway, briefing in an hour and we'll decide what to do next. SG-1 may have a few interesting bits to share and I'm sure you do too." The older man patted his shoulder while Jack rolled down his sleeve.

Jack was finishing tying up his boots when Sam came into his side of the infirmary.

"You're all right?" he smiled at her.

“I’ve got firm orders to have a good night's rest, and you do too…" she said.

"I know, I'm just wondering if resting is wise while that overdressed sadistic power monger holds one of ours," he said, worry and tiredness creasing his brow. "Maybe we should debrief and set out on the mission ASAP. I’d feel better if…"

"Oh I don't think so, Jack O'Neill," she interrupted.

Jack looked at her questioningly. "What?"

"Don’t' use that tone on me, Jack, I know you. We go to debriefing, and then we sleep, preferably not in the same room if you keep up the sulking act.”

"You wouldn't…"

"Try me?" she said, crossing her arms in front of her.

Jack shook his head, chuckling and stood up from the bed before encircling her waist with his arms. "Do I have to say 'yes Sir'?" he murmured in her ear.

"Well, I'm not the one who finds it endearing, but please, be my guest…" she replied, un-phased.

"Let's get that darn briefing under way then, Colonel, so I can rest in good company," he raised his eyebrows suggestively.

Sam shook her head as he exited the infirmary, and followed him to the briefing room.

:¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤:

"So Malek and his people are out there keeping watch for us until tomorrow where he should report in and give us a better idea regarding Baal’s location. He'll also provide the first information on how well the base is guarded," Jack concluded his report. "Malek also told us that Baal's been actively recruiting mercenaries that he pays with Kassa. So the Lucian alliance must be onto something too."

"And yet, you want SG-1 to go and try to gain intelligence about the Ori's next move?" Landry asked.

"Well, from what Teal'c said of their mission, they know where Adria's forces are. That's a good starting point."

"We could also provide you with support when rescuing young O'Neill," Teal'c pointed out.

"True enough but we'll have Malek's people for support and I'm pretty sure we can retrieve Jack J. with them. Malek holds some kind of grudge toward the snake, he'll deal with him, of that I'm sure. When Jack J.'s back with us, Thor and his buddies will be glad to have any intelligence about Adria's whereabouts and plans."

"I can send Dixon to find out what the Ori are about to do since we know in which part of the galaxy Adria has concentrated her efforts, so you can have SG-1 with you," Landry suggested.

"No. Don't lose the main focus, General. If Thor is right, we'll need to act quickly before the Ori find something to counteract the effect of the weapon, or whatever the Asgard will come up with. We’ll have a better chance if we keep the element of surprise, and SG1 has dealt several times with Adria. Much as I like Dixon’s efficiency, Dave is not Adria’s mother." Jack replied.

“Well, I’m not sure I understand why the fact Vala is Adria’s mother is necessary for this mission…”

“Adria will not kill us should she take a hold of us, General Landry,” Teal’c said calmly looking at Jack for confirmation.

The latter smiled painfully.

"I don't like this plan," Hank sighed.

"Neither do I, but it's the only one that's acceptable." Jack said in a firm voice.

"So what do you want us to do?" Daniel asked.

"Go to Adria’s last known coordinates and gather information about her troops, her plans,… whatever you can. Mitchell, Teal'c, be extra careful. Where the Ori have set their pawns, there must be some pockets of resistance. Concentrate on those, infiltrate them if you can. Just come back with as much as you can so we can beat the crap out of these over dramatic conjurers.”

"You heard the general, SG-1 go get ready, you leave in two hours," Landry ordered before motioning for Jack to follow him in his office, and closing the door once Jack was inside. "Jack, the VIP quarters have been prepped…" he said with a slight raise of the eyebrows. “Special commendation from Dr. Lam, she ordered you to rest… Colonel Carter’s quarters are ready too…" he concluded not missing the annoyed look Jack threw him. "Carolyn specifically said ‘rest’, Jack. Besides, it’s my base, my rules…" he smiled.

"I sometimes wonder what those stars they pinned on my shoulders are for," Jack grumbled, rising from his chair.

:¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤:

The pain in Jack J.’s thigh was subsiding. He regularly massaged the area, trying to rest despite the frequent passage of guards outside his cell and not knowing exactly when Baal would finally tell him what he wanted with him.  Deep inside he dreaded the confrontation and he had the fierce desire to end this right then. But old reaction patterns die hard and the trained military man inside of him advised patience and calm. So he relaxed as best as he could and reviewed his desperate plan over and over, fingering the pin absently.

He must have dozed off for a while because he barely realized that the door of his cell had opened before he felt the butt end of a staff weapon on his back.

“Lord Baal wants to see you now!” the guard barked.

Jack J. groaned and stood up slowly. Without a belt, his jeans slipped down a bit, like they had upon his arrival. Concealing the pin in his palm, he nonchalantly grabbed the waistband of his pants with the same hand.

Another guard was waiting for them at the entrance of his cell. He put manacles on his wrists before nudging him forward into the corridor. They did not tie his feet this time, probably not too concerned with him escaping.

As they walked, Jack J. observed the corridors they were walking along, drawing mental maps of the place and noticing every detail of importance.  Academic life had its perks, he thought amused, it kept the brain active, probably more so than his counterpart’s stuck in an office at the Pentagon. They eventually reached a middle-sized chamber where he recognized the familiar silhouette of the former system lord, his back to him.

Baal turned to greet his guest with a sardonic smile. The guards stepped backwards, turned and exiting the chamber, sliding the closing panel shut.

Jack J. kept the awkward stance, wanting to weigh his options before acting, wanting to be sure the System Lord’s over confidence was still his weak point.

“I am sorry for keeping you waiting,” Baal said ironically. “Your results are rather promising if your blood samples are any indication.”

He turned away and Jack J. saw vials of what he presumed was his own blood. He also caught a glimpse of the ribbon device on the Goa’uld’s other hand and knew that he needed to act now…

:¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤:

Jack and Sam met Malek at the designated coordinates. The Tok’ra and a few of his men guided them silently to a small cabin in ruins by a large lake.

Jack looked at his guide with raised eyebrows.

Malek smiled slightly. “The cabin is only camouflage for the rings platform.”

“Oh…. Then Kanaan’s information wasn’t up to date, they were supposed to be in the middle of a fishermen’s village,” Jack frowned.

“There used to be a village indeed, but they were Jaffa. When the Rebellion won Dakara, they destroyed the village. Baal had this makeshift ruins constructed,” he swiped the area with his hand, “to fit in the landscape.”

“So what’s the situation?” Sam pressed all business again.

“A few of my operatives have infiltrated his ranks of mercenaries. He must be rather desperate in recruiting troops, he’s less careful about the people he hires. They reported that a new prisoner was brought in a couple of days ago. The landing pad is on top of this mountain,” he showed the mountain dominating the lake. “The base is wide but there is only one level. We know of two ways of entry…”

“There’s probably more,” Jack cut in.

“At least one more, yes, but I’ll leave my men here to cover this one. There is a Tel’Tac in the planet’s atmosphere monitoring energy coming and going from the landing pad on the mountain. They will be able to disable the ship’s engines from above, cutting this escape route.” Malek concluded.

“How many people have you got inside?” Sam asked.

“Seven.” Malek replied.

“It’s not a Hell of a lot,” Jack said pensively.

“Indeed, but remember Baal’s troops are mercenaries. They are not as trained, obedient, and cohesive as Jaffas…” Malek stated. “Besides, I’m expecting more troops in a moment.”

“You think a diversion would work?” Jack asked.

Malek nodded.

“Sir, maybe small C4 detonations would do the trick?” Sam suggested.

“I was thinking along these lines but remember we need Baal alive. That’s the condition, O'Neill.” Malek warned.

Jack nodded. “Now, do you know where the cells are?”

Kael stepped forward and kneeled, starting to draw a rough plan of the base. “As far as we know, the cells are roughly at an equal distance between the mountain and the lake. It’s far from this entrance, but since the other one is obviously unavailable, we’ll have to deal with it.”

:¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤ :¤:

Teal'c crouched into the narrow entrance of the cave. Big weaponry was definitely not an option for this people, he mused. After emerging from the primary tunnel, he was able to progress on all fours for a while before finally reaching a wide chamber where several fires illuminated the small encampment inside.

Cameron was in deep conversation with Anko, the leader of the resistance. The latter had lost his daughter Lamika to the Ori, she had become one of Adria’s servants, but the old man had used this to his own advantage.  Hence Lamika had unknowingly become a source of information about Adria’s whereabouts and plans.
When SG-1 had arrived they had of course drawn attention, and Romans, the blacksmith of the village had immediately taken action: the Ori had to know about those intruders, he had proclaimed to the people of the village in a close assembly. It had been decided that he would ambush SG-1 and confiscate their weapons with the help of his aides.
Once the team had been effectively captured, Romans showed them to the village before announcing he was going to bring them to the Ori base beyond the forest.
 
They had left the village under much cheering but once in the forest, Romans had taken a totally different route and had brought them to their former village leader Anko, finally revealing which side he was really on.

 

As he emerged from the tent SG-1 had been given Daniel spotted Teal'c. He smiled and met his friend half way.

“There is an unusual fervor of activity in the village, Daniel Jackson. As far as I could understand, people say the Priors are going to announce something soon.”

“This seems to go along with what Mitchell has been observing too. Anko said Lamika was very excited about some discovery Adria made. Apparently she is on the verge of finding a way to the Sangraal,” Daniel concluded in a somber voice.

“But she has not found it yet,” Teal'c pressed.

“No. From what Lamika said, they have found scriptures that offer several possibilities. As it happens, we may be closer to it than them since we already know of two planets that the Knights of Arthur visited. On the other hand we may have been totally misled. Lamika has yet to tell her father what Adria is so excited about. One thing is certain though, Adria is less cautious. She must be close or she’s found something that she can use against us. I still think our confrontation with Morgan la Fey gave us some important clues in our quest to try and find Merlin’s weapon…”

“I see… Perhaps this is why Colonel Mitchell is so agitated, then,” Teal'c raised an eyebrow.

Daniel smiled at that and looked briefly at his gesticulating companion. “Oh you know Cameron… He needs to expel his extra energy…”

Part 2

to index