Just a Small Experiment - Part Eight 


“I’m sorry I had to cut our time together at home so short,” Sam said to the boy sitting in his car seat in the back as they drove toward Cheyenne Mountain the next day.

“It’s okay,” Danny told her with a small smile she caught in the rear view mirror. “You have to stop Anubis.”

“Yes, yes, we do,” she murmured, glad for his understanding but sorry all the same. She took a deep breath and released it slowly. “Well, when we get to the mountain, you can either stay in a VIP room or stay with me in my lab. Which would you like to do?”

Danny swallowed nervously then chewed on his lower lip for a moment. “Will I be in the way in the lab?” he asked quietly.

Sam gave him a quick glance over her shoulder and saw the fear in his eyes. She had a feeling he did n’t want to be alone, especially considering he’d woken up a little over an hour early that morning thanks to a bad nightmare. It had taken her quite a while to calm him down. “I think I can find a corner for you that will keep you out of my way. Why don’t we do it that way?”

The blonde major watched the tiny smile form on her ward’s lips. “Okay, Sam,” he whispered.

The rest of the ride was quiet as Danny let his gaze turn to the window and the view to his right, and Sam chose not to interrupt the silent observation and reflection. The pair quickly made their way through the security checkpoints and down to level nineteen and Sam’s lab, where Jacob was waiting for them.

“Hey, you two,” he greeted them, covering up his surprise at the child’s presence. “Sam, I asked the Counsel for the materials we’ll need to make the replacement crystal, and they should be sending it along shortly. They’re supporting this plan as much as they can.”

“That’s good news, Dad,” Sam said with a smile. “Let me get Danny set up and we can go over the formulas we talked about last night.”

Once Danny was seated at a computer terminal in the far corner with one of his language programs running, Sam and Jacob set up their notes on the main lab station with a large dry erase board against the wall. They reviewed the details they had come up with until an unscheduled gate activation was declared over the PA system. Danny smiled his blessing when Sam told him she had to leave for a little while, and the two Carters hurried off.

It turned out to be the Tok’ra, and a package and special news that was brought by a young woman named Sana. Sana and her symbiote Deval joined the team in Sam’s lab, and work started in earnest. Three days later, they completed the red crystal and sent it over to the archaeology department for them to put the finishing touches on it according to Daniel and Jonas’ notes. The Kelownan oversaw the process, glad to be able to do something concrete to help.

A day and a half later, Sam called a meeting to explain her plan. The Tok’ra stood behind the full room of Tau’ri to await the briefing as well. With a supportive smile and thumbs-up from Jacob, Sam took a deep breath and began. After she’d finished explaining the basic science behind everything, she moved on to core of the matter. “Thanks to the information the Tok’ra brought us, we now know that they have successfully inserted one of their operatives into Anubis’ ranks on board the mother ship with the super weapon. We now have the means to secretly board the ship and make the switch between one of the Eyes of Power and the crystal my father, Sana, and I created in the lab.”

“We’re sure about that?” Jack asked from his seat in the front row.

“As sure as we can be, Jack,” Jacob replied from the back. “Telane has been installed as one of Anubis’ scientists working on the weapon. It was an angle we’d tried before and couldn’t make work.”

“So why did it work this time?” Jack asked.

Jacob smiled. “Sam’s questions about what made the Eyes work. Telane used them to come up with a theory to increase the power output of the weapon. Anubis was interested. Since she’d need to be close to the Eyes to develop that theory, she was assigned to the flagship.”

Jack turned back to look at Sam with an impressed expression. “Way to go, Major.”

“What happens once we get to the flagship?” Jonas asked.

“We’ll be smuggled aboard,” Sam answered. “Colonel O’Neill, Jonas Quinn and myself will be injected with a radioactive isotope that will hide us from the ship’s sensors for eight hours.”

“But this mission shouldn’t actually take eight hours, right, Major?” Jack queried sardonically.

Sam sighed. “As the colonel is already aware, we shouldn’t need eight hours to complete this mission. Once we’re on board, Teal’c will disguise himself as one of Anubis’ Jaffa and relieve the two Jaffa standing guard outside the room where the Eyes of Power are hooked up as the power source of the super weapon. After he’s alone, he’ll alert the rest of us, and we’ll join him.”

Jack nodded. “Then we slip inside, make the crystal switch, and get the heck out of Dodge.”

Sam sighed again. “As the colonel knows, it won’t be that simple. The security system in place will force us to move quickly, with no room for mistakes. We’ll have just less than ten minutes to find the appropriate Eye and replace it. The trickiest part will be removing the original and inserting the copy between the regular energy pulses that cycle through the circuit made up by the Eyes of Power. If we’re even a fraction off, the security system will seal off the room, fill it with a gas powerful enough to knock out a Jaffa, and call in at least two squads of soldiers. There will be no escape from that trap.”

“Still ever the optimist, eh, Carter?” Jack quietly quipped.

“Are we aware of the interval of time you will have available?” Teal’c asked.

Sam shook her head. “Not unless Telane has the information waiting for us when we get there.”

Sana cleared her throat to get everyone’s attention. “Telane has only recently been brought onto Anubis’ new ship. While she has seen the power room, she has not been allowed to study it directly. She has been asked to first refine her theory using figures provided to her. She does not believe it will take much time to earn the trust required to gain entry to the Eyes of Power; however, she cannot be certain it will be before this mission will begin.”

Jack nodded. “And this Telane will be sneaking us on board how?” he asked. He winked at Sam when she gave him yet another exasperated look.

“I don’t believe that’s been settled,” the major answered, fighting back the urge to roll her eyes.

“It’s been suggested that she minorly tamper with one of the ring platforms to make its activation look like a malfunction to the scans,” Jacob added, taking pity on his daughter. “She’ll know the timing of the patrols so she can slip you in without being detected.”

“You’re sure this fake crystal of yours is going to overload the weapon and destroy it?” Jack asked seriously.

Sam looked him straight in the eyes. “We can’t be one hundred percent sure, sir, not without an actual Eye of Power to study. But from all the information we do have, there is a high probability that this will be successful. At the very least we’ll have cut down on the effectiveness of the weapon, or even shut it down completely.”

General Hammond cleared his throat. “How do you figure that, Major?” he asked.

“It’s like when one battery is dead in a device that needs multiple batteries,” Sam explained. “It tends not to work. And in this particular case, the Eyes are set up in a circuit. If one is removed, the circuit isn’t complete.”

“Anubis didn’t actually use the weapon until after he’d gotten the Eye of Ra,” Jonas mused.

“Perhaps he was not able to do so, as Major Carter suggests,” Teal’c added.

Sam nodded, smiling. “That’s what we were thinking.”

Jack wore a wider smile. “So basically, one way or the other, we’re crippling this super weapon of his. I like it.”

“Is there any chance that this explosion will take out the entire ship?” Jonas asked.

“There’s a chance,” Sam confirmed, “but we don’t think it likely. Anubis would probably have that power room well-shielded, for multiple reasons.”

“It looks like we have a plan, people,” Hammond declared with a decisive nod of his head. “You all know what you have to do. Let’s get to it.” He turned and headed back to his office, most of the rest of the room clearing quickly afterward.

The members of SG-1 and Jacob Carter were soon the only ones left. “Could you have made it any more difficult for Sam?” Jacob asked Jack as he walked over to the team.

Jack shrugged. “I asked the questions other people had, but were afraid to ask,” he explained. “And it didn’t hurt me to have a few points covered twice.”

“So you’re okay with this plan?” Sam asked.

“The weakest part of it is counting on someone we’ve never met or even heard of to get us on and off that ship undetected,” Jack said. He glanced at Jacob. “No offense.”

“None taken,” Jacob replied easily. “You’re not doubting me.” Jack grinned.

Jonas looked around at the people with him. “That shouldn’t be a problem, should it?”

Jack shook his head, although his expression still held a touch of apprehension. “It shouldn’t, but we’re talking about the Tok’ra. Even Jacob here has to admit they don’t have the best track record with us.”

“This mission is just as important to the Tok’ra as it is to Stargate Command,” Jacob insisted. “We’ll do what we can to make it happen, successfully.”

“Well, my only problem with that is that the Tok’ra are perfectly willing to sacrifice themselves, even when they don’t really have to,” Jack shot back.

Jacob held up his hands in surrender. “I know, I know. But nothing like that should be remotely necessary with this mission. You know that.”

Jack crossed his arms over his chest. “Yeah, I know,” he grumbled.

There was a brief moment of silence. “Um, so we’re set to go tomorrow?” Jonas asked a touch tentatively.

“Yes,” Jacob confirmed. “Sana is sending a coded message to Telane a little later today to let her know you’re coming.”

“Then I have some final calculations to make and an explanation to give,” Sam said with a small, shaky smile. The four men could see the fear and regret in her eyes.

“Everything will be okay, Sam,” Jonas said gently, his expression sympathetic and supportive. “Daniel will understand.”

“Young Daniel will be well cared for in your absence as well,” Teal’c added.

Jacob gripped her shoulder and gave it a light squeeze. “It’s always hard, kiddo,” he said softly. “You make it up to him by coming home in one piece.”

Sam gave him a grateful smile, then turned it on her teammates. “Thanks, guys,” she murmured. “I better get going.”

As Jack lagged behind the others while they all left the briefing room, he replayed the last bit of conversation to himself. His eyes widened slightly as a realization came to him. Quickly resolved he left the others to their duties and went to take care of something that had suddenly become quite important.


* * * * * * * *


Early the next morning, Jack found himself in front of the nondescript door of a VIP room. He took a deep breath and released it slowly, centering himself. He could do this. He resettled his shoulders, the plastic bag that dangled from his left hand rustling slightly. With one last deep breath, he knocked and went inside.

Brown eyes met nervous and startled blue as Jack closed the door behind himself. He couldn’t seem to find any words to say to the small boy scrambling to sit on the edge of the bed. Once the child had settled himself, Jack stepped forward, ignoring the anxious lump in his own throat.

“You know we’re leaving in a little while to go on a mission,” the colonel began awkwardly. The small head slowly nodded. “I’d guess you’re going to be lonely while we’re gone.”

Jack wanted to smack himself in the forehead. He’d guess the kid would be lonely? Thank you, Colonel Obvious.

“I mean,” he stumbled on, “you’re probably really going to miss Carter, aren’t you?”

While Jack plotted out his own demise for bringing up the negative part of this whole thing, something lingering and painful, he got another nod of agreement, this one slow and sad. The man felt his heart twist as the bright blue gaze dropped to the blanket beneath the tiny hand.

“I’ve seen how much Carter... I mean Sam...” Jack rolled his eyes at himself, took a deep breath, and tried again. “I’ve seen how much Sam cares about you, and I’m pretty sure you feel the same way. Does she hug you a lot?”

The blue gaze came back up at the gentle question, and after a bit of hesitation, the boy nodded. Jack smiled.

“I just bet she does. I also bet it makes you feel pretty good, doesn’t it?”

The kid started to look pretty confused, but he nodded again.

“That’s going to be one of the things you miss the most, I bet.” Without waiting for a response, Jack pulled out the present he’d bought the day before from the plastic bag. It was a plush ape, about a foot high and bright yellow. It had extra long arms, with Velcro on the mitten-like hands, and it looked like it was smiling. “I got this for you yesterday. Now, I know nothing can take Sam’s place, but maybe this little guy can take the edge off until she gets back.”

The boy just looked at him even more confused. Jack’s smile grew soft. “Let me show you.” He pulled apart the hands and wrapped the arms around the child’s neck, placing the soft, plush face next to the youthful cheek. “Like I said, I know he can’t take the place of Sam or her hugs, but whenever you feel lonely, you can just give this guy a squeeze and maybe - just maybe - it’ll make you feel just a little bit less alone. And you know he won’t let go until you want him to.”

The big blue eyes looked up at him for a long, silent moment. Then Jack watched as the small arms slowly rose up and wrapped around the soft center of the stuffed animal. The boy squeezed slightly.

“That’s right,” Jack encouraged him. “Just like that.”

The ape was given another squeeze, this time with the child’s face slightly buried in the yellow joint between head and arm. The tiny form began rocking somewhat, and those blue eyes returned to Jack’s face. The colonel was surprised by the beginning of a smile.

“You’re welcome,” Jack whispered, and turned to leave the room. He stopped and looked back over his shoulder just before he opened the door. “We won’t be gone long,” he said softly but confidently. “And when we get back, Anubis won’t have his weapon anymore.” He was rewarded by a widening of a smile. He gave as good as he got, then left the room. He headed for the locker room with a huge weight lifted off his shoulders.


* * * * * * * *


Sam walked into the gateroom and smiled at Jack, who stood at the foot of the ramp waiting for the rest of the party to arrive. “Thank you, sir,” she said quietly, snapping the last buckle of her vest into place.

“For what?” Jack asked with mock ignorance, his expression slightly too innocent.

“For Sunshine. Danny feels better about me going already. He didn’t say as much, but he told me he had someone to hug him while I was gone.” Sam smiled. “I think he told me that to make me feel better about going.”

“Sunshine?” Jack asked, confused.

Sam gave a little chuckle. “We named the ape you gave him. I asked him if the color reminded him of anything, and he said sunshine. So that’s his name.”

Jack gave her a surprised look. “He’s talking? Freely?”

Sam shrugged, her expression a bit uncomfortable. “Well, I usually have to ask him a question, or otherwise start the conversation, but he’s improving. We’re getting pretty good at holding little conversations.”

The rest of the team came in at that point, and shortly after that Jacob and Sana joined them. The six of them were gating to a planet where the Tok’ra High Counsel had a cargo ship waiting to take them to the planet Anubis’ new flagship was orbiting. Fortunately the trip would only take about six hours, and then they would wait for the signal from Telane that all was ready.

“Is your team prepared, Colonel?” Hammond asked from the control room above them.

“Yes, sir,” Jack replied.

“Then you have a go. Sergeant, begin the dialing sequence.”

Seven and a half hours later, SG-1 and the two Tok’ra were hiding in an alcove near the ring platform close to the Stargate. “Are you certain you do not wish for me to begin injecting your team with the isotope, Colonel O’Neill?” Sana asked in a soft whisper.

Jack nodded sharply. “You aren’t injecting anybody with anything until we get that signal from your operative. I want the maximum time possible from this stuff.” He gave the blended woman a strained smile. “Just in case.”

Sana sighed. “I understand, Colonel.”

“You’ll get used to him,” Jacob murmured in his fellow Tok’ra’s ear.

“Are you sure there’s nothing wrong?” Jonas asked. “We’ve been here longer than you said we’d need to be before hearing something from Telane.”

“We cannot be sure, of course,” Sana replied, “but I do not believe our wait will last much longer.”

Teal’c raised an eyebrow. “What makes you believe this?”

The female Tok’ra turned a slightly surprised look the Jaffa’s way. “I know Telane well. She will do what she has sworn to do.”

Fifteen minutes later, a gem in the bracelet Sana wore blinked for a brief time then stopped. “That is Telane’s signal. It is safe for you to use the rings to enter the ship for the next ten minutes. I will inject you with the isotope now.”

The blended woman did as promised for Jack, Sam, and Jonas while Teal’c attached the breastplate to the Jaffa armor he wore and donned the helmet of Anubis’ troops that had been waiting for them in the alcove. When the four team members were ready, they stepped onto the platform and Jacob pressed the wrist control that had also been waiting with the helmet. The rings sprang up, and with a flash of light they were gone.

“Good luck, you guys,” Jacob whispered to the empty space SG-1 had just occupied.

* * * * * * * *


As promised, the halls between the ring room and their predetermined hiding place were empty of Anubis’ Jaffa. The four of them silently slipped inside, the door sliding shut behind them. Jack pressed a button on the side of his watch and checked the time.

“Okay, we wait fifteen minutes,” the Air Force colonel reviewed in a low tone. “Then Teal’c goes out and delivers the message that Telane wants to see the two guards and he’s there to replace them. Once the two flunkies are out of sight, he clicks his radio twice, and the three of us join him. Then we’ll slip into the power room and make the switch, then get back here. Teal’c will join us once the guards get back. Then we wait for Telane to give our storage room door three quick knocks, and we’ll know it’s safe to go back to the ring room and get the heck out of Dodge.” He made eye contact with the other three in the low light. “Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir,” Sam replied immediately, followed quickly by statements of assent from Jonas and Teal’c.

Just as had been hoped, the beginning of the plan went smoothly, and soon enough the four members of SG-1 were standing alone in front of the room where the Eyes of Power waited to charge Anubis’ new weapon upon the half-ascended Goa’uld’s command. With one last look down the hallway in both directions and a nod of thanks and acknowledgment to Teal’c, Jack silently led Sam and Jonas inside.

The three of them only managed a few steps along the short walkway leading from the door through a wall of circuitry before they were forced to stop in their tracks. A visible energy barrier ran through the middle of a walkway that seemed to follow the edge of the circular room; it appeared to be a band that covered an area approximately chin to mid-thigh. Jack gave Sam an irritated look. “I suppose I should have expected this,” he grumbled in a harsh whisper.

“We couldn’t have known, sir,” she whispered back. “Telane wasn’t able to get inside this room to warn us about it.”

“You think it’s safe to crawl underneath?” Jack asked.

Sam took a device out of the small pack attached to her vest and ran it down the barrier to the floor. She nodded. “The energy increase the forcefield gives off isn’t present in the area near the floor. My guess is no one thought a saboteur could get in here slowly and deliberately make their way to the Eyes. Anyone in a rush would run right into the barrier and set off the security protocols.”

Jonas looked at her curiously. “Are the Eyes powering the shield?” he asked.

Sam blinked. “It’s possible, I suppose. I won’t be able to tell until I can take a direct reading of them.”

“Could the shield only cover part of the area to cut down on the energy used?”

“So that more could be immediately available when Anubis wants to fire the weapon,” Jack concluded with a nod.

Sam’s lips twitched into a small, brief smile as she put the device she’d used back in her pack. “That just might be it. Let’s get in there and figure out the pulse rate so we can make the switch.”

The trio slid along the floor, Sam and Jonas pushing the packs they’d brought along in front of them as they went. Once they were past the barrier they slowly made their way to their feet and glanced around at the brightly lit energy hub. The six Eyes of Power were placed equidistantly around the space, held in brackets amidst the metal, wires, and crystals that made up the walls. A blue-white bolt of energy emerged from a spot to their right and zoomed around the room through the Eyes in a counter-clockwise direction.

Sam brought out her detection device once again and Jonas took out the replacement crystal as they waited for the energy surge to come again. It wasn’t long before it did, and Sam gave a small sigh of relief. “I have the timing down. We’ll be able to make the switch after the next circuit.”

“Wait a minute,” Jack said as the other two prepared themselves. “What was that relieved sigh for?”

“Oh, um...” Sam began, a little surprised to be caught out. “I’d been a bit concerned about a secondary surge that would have drastically cut down the amount of time we’d have to make the switch. But I didn’t detect one, so we’re good to go.”

“And you didn’t mention this earlier why?”

“The odds were against it, sir.”

Jonas cleared his throat nervously. “Are you sure about the Eye you want to switch out?” he asked, his eyes flitting toward his watch.

Sam nodded, knowing she probably hadn’t heard the end of it from her commanding officer. “The Eye of Ra,” she confirmed. “That is the one you modeled the designs from, right?”

“On one side, yes. On the backside I had them etch the designs from the Eye of Tiamat, since we had an even more detailed sketch to work from. I figured we could make the switch with whichever one was easier to get to.” Jonas began to look around for either of the Eyes he’d mentioned.

“There,” Jack said, pointing to the Eye directly behind Sam.

The three of them stood in front of the Eye of Ra, memories of how it had come to be in Anubis’ possession flying through each of their thoughts. They were all saddened, and Jack in particular felt an incredible amount of guilt. This is what it had all been about; this is what he had forced Daniel to break the rules of the Others over. This is why his best friend was now gone completely.

The bright flash of the surge zooming by startled them all. As soon as it had faded, Sam carefully extracted the Eye from the metal frame that was holding it, making sure to not let it touch anything other than the frame. It was a tight fit that slowed everything down. Once it was clear of the wall, she handed it off to Jack, who put it in her pack while Jonas handed her the replacement. Sam made sure the black stylized eye was facing outward, then reversed her previous actions to put it where the other had been.

The physicist hadn’t quite gotten it in place when they could all feel the energy build-up that signified the beginning of another surge. “Come on, Carter, snap it into place and let’s go!” Jack ordered tersely.

“I can’t, sir. Any quick jerking motions like that will most likely set off the security protocols. I’m almost there.” Sam’s brows furrowed in intense concentration as she struggled to force the new crystal down the last few fractions of an inch.

“Does it have to be perfect?” Jack asked.

“If it’s not, it may not complete the circuit, and that would tip Anubis off that someone had been in here tampering with the Eyes. That’s not to mention that the Goa’uld scientists that check on the Eyes would most likely notice the discrepancy. It won’t be much longer.” She bit her lower lip and tried even harder.

There was a barely audible hum. “Sam, look out!” Jonas cried as he jerked her away from the crystal just before the bolt of energy reached it.

The three of them froze in place as they waited for the room to be sealed and the knock-out gas to start pouring in. It was a few more beats before they realized that nothing was happening.

“So what just happened?” Jack asked as Sam went back to pushing the replacement crystal into place.

“The bolt of energy did make a complete circuit,” Jonas pointed out. “Maybe that was enough to keep the security protocols from activating.”

Sam nodded after one last, minute shove clicked the crystal into place. “I’m sure the system allows for minor fluctuations. I guess the crystal was far enough in place to allow enough energy to pass through that the computer readings suggested a fluctuation instead of a gap.”

Jack sighed. “That’s good enough for me. Let’s get out of here.”

They exited the same way they entered, a brief knock at the door answered promptly. Teal’c opened the door. “It will not be long before the guards return,” he told them. “I will join you in the storage room shortly.”

“See you there,” Jack whispered. He gestured for the other two to lead the way back to where they started.

The four of them had gathered in the storage room and were waiting for Telane’s knock when a strange feeling had them all sharing worried gazes. “Was that what I think it was?” Jack asked.

“If you believe that was the ship engaging into hyperspace, I believe you are correct,” Teal’c confirmed.

“No one said anything about taking a joyride while we were here,” Jack protested.

“I’m sure this was an unscheduled trip, sir. The Tok’ra would have told us if there was going to be a possibility that Anubis would be leaving this planet around the planned time of our mission,” Sam insisted.

Jack scowled. “I’m not so sure about that, Carter.”

Sam sighed. “My dad would have told us, sir. That I’m sure of.”

The colonel’s expression lightened slightly. “Okay, I’ll give you that one.”

“So what do we do?” Jonas asked.

“I really don’t know,” Sam said solemnly.

“And we’ve only got...” Jack looked at his watch, “a little under seven hours to figure it out.”

The four teammates shared a long look, seeing in each others’ eyes the acceptance of the difficult position they were now up to their eyeballs in.


* * * * * * * *


A while later, the four members of SG-1 waited in a far corner of the storage room, three of them seated, carefully shielded from the door by a stack of metallic crates. “Are you sure you can’t figure out where we’re headed?” Jack asked for the seventh time after suddenly raising his head from where he’d been holding it in his hands, his elbows resting on his knees.

Sam and Jonas shared an exasperated look. “Yes, sir, quite sure. Like I’ve told you before, I’d need access to a computer interface, and there isn’t one in the storage room.”

“And we can’t chance moving to another room since we don’t know what’s really going on out there,” Jonas added.

“You really didn’t see anything out there, Teal’c?” Jack asked the standing Jaffa.

“I did not, O’Neill,” the deep voice rumbled. “I realized I would not be able to wander freely as the ship appears to be preparing for battle upon arrival at its destination. If I were discovered I would be questioned as to my appropriate duty station.”

Sam sighed and leaned back against the wall behind her. “And it would seem pretty suspicious if he started asking questions about where we were going and what we were doing.”

Jack sighed as well and slammed his fists down on his knees. “I know, I know. I’m sorry. But what about Telane? Does anyone else have a bad feeling about the fact that we haven’t heard from her yet?”

“If she has duties to perform to prepare for the upcoming battle, she would risk revealing herself as a traitor by not completing them,” Teal’c explained.

“I’m sure she’ll come as soon as she can,” Sam assured her commanding officer, trying to sound positive.

“Well, she’s got...” Jack looked at his watch, “four hours and seventeen minutes to get us the heck off this wreck, or we may be staying a bit longer than expected in much more uncomfortable quarters. We certainly don’t want Anubis to use the mind probe he used on Thor on any of us.”

Jonas shuddered. “I can imagine that wouldn’t be very comfortable,” he commented.

The quiet whoosh of the door to the storage room sliding open immediately silenced the hushed conversation. SG-1 crouched down into battle-ready positions and waited to see who had decided to join them as they heard buttons beside the now-closed door being pressed.

A single silhouette appeared beside the stack of crates the four of them were hiding behind. “Colonel O’Neill,” a female voice whispered. “It is I, Telane. Please reveal yourself.”

Jack slowly stood up, his weapon aimed in the direction of the voice. “You better really be alone,” he quietly declared.

A tall redheaded woman jumped back slightly at the sudden threat that had appeared behind her. “Colonel O’Neill,” she breathed in relief once she’d settled herself, her hand resting on her chest. “Is the rest of your team with you?”

“You didn’t answer my question. Are you alone?” Jack shot back.

“Yes, of course,” Telane replied, her hand returning to her side. “I came as soon as I was able to excuse myself. There is much activity in the halls of the ship at the moment.”

“So we’ve heard,” Jack responded, relaxing slightly without lowering his P-90. “What was that code we heard you enter once you were inside?”

Telane blinked at the unexpected question. “I insured our privacy, Colonel. It will be assumed that this storage room has been secured for the upcoming battle.”

Jack frowned. “In other words, you locked the door.”

The redhead nodded. “Yes.”

Jack looked at her for a long moment, then made a gesture. The rest of SG-1 stood. “So, would you mind explaining why we’ve jumped into hyperspace?” Jack asked as he lowered his weapon.

“Anubis received word that Amaterasu has gathered a sizable force near a planet in her domain. He believes she will be attempting to send this force against him. He seeks to destroy this fleet before it can leave its home base, eliminating the threat and hopefully destroying Amaterasu’s will to fight.” Telane gazed from one member of the team to another once she’d stepped behind the stacked crates.

“Who’s Amaterasu?” Jack asked.

“I think she’s Japanese in origin,” Jonas answered. “The sun-goddess of the native religion there.”

The colonel nodded. “Okay, that’s good enough for me.” He looked at their Tok’ra contact. “What does that mean for our timetable? We don’t have all that much time left before the isotope some of us have floating around in our bloodstreams wears off.”

Telane bowed her head to concede the point. “While that is true, I do not believe that you will be immediately detected upon the isotope’s disappearance,” she said. “I do not propose to test that theory, but you will most likely have a slightly wider window of opportunity for escape than you currently believe.”

“You know, that doesn’t mean anything if we can’t get off this ship,” Jack replied.

“How long before we reach Amaterasu’s planet?” Sam asked.

“I do not know the precise amount of time the trip will take, but I do not believe it will be longer than three hours,” Telane answered.

Jack checked his watch. “That leaves us just over an hour to get off this ship. Only problem I can see is this planet we’re going to is going to end up being the site of quite a violent party. Do you think Anubis is going to just pop out of hyperspace and open up on the ships there?”

Telane shook her head. “That is not likely. Anubis will want to assess the forces opposing him and determine if there will be other System Lords who will join in the attack. He will likely keep his ship cloaked until he has gathered the information he seeks.”

Sam frowned. “How will we know if there is a ring platform we can use to get off the ship?” she asked. “And even if there is one, won’t there be troops milling around nearby waiting to board Amaterasu’s fleet?”

“Can’t we take a cargo ship if the ring platform isn’t available?” Jonas asked.

“No way,” Jack replied. “The ring platform activating can be covered up. A cargo ship leaving the bay while the mother ship is cloaked, that’s a different story all together. They’d be able to detect Teal’c for starters, and we’d most likely be shot out of the sky.”

“That is true,” Telane confirmed. “The life signs of a Jaffa on board a ship appearing to be attempting escape would also alert Anubis to the possibility of sabotage, possibly preventing our plan from successful completion.”

There was a brief moment of silence as the five of them considered their situation. “So what do we do?” Jack asked.

Telane looked at him. “As soon as we emerge from hyperspace I will discreetly scan the planet for ring platforms, as well as the position of enemy troops. Once I have devised an escape plan for you I will return to you and inform you of its details.”

Jack looked at each member of his team then sighed. “I guess that’s what we’re stuck with.”


* * * * * * * *


Janet Fraiser made her way toward the VIP room Danny was occupying while Sam was away with SG-1 around nine o’clock the evening of the flagship team’s departure. She’d made that trip a number of times during the day, checking up on the small boy and making sure he had everything he needed. She’d been pleasantly surprised when Danny was willing to accompany her to the commissary for that day’s meals, and noticed that he smiled much more easily at her. She was on her way toward gaining the child’s trust, and the thought that she was close made her proud.

That pride had slipped to the back of her thoughts as she got closer to her destination. She had been told of Jacob Carter’s contact earlier that evening that had informed the SGC of Anubis’ jump into hyperspace, and the unknown condition of the petite doctor’s friends. As per the previous arrangements, Jacob had left the planet Anubis had been orbiting, and was now waiting impatiently at the Alpha Site for SG-1's return. Janet had avoided telling Danny about this turn of events, hoping that SG-1's propensity for getting out of tight spots would come through one more time. She figured she had until five o’clock the next evening, when they were due back. She’d break the news then if it were necessary.

With the guilt of her hidden secret eating at her, Janet gave a brief knock at the VIP room door and entered. Danny sat on the edge of the bed, a pile of neatly folded pajamas beside him. “Were you waiting for me?” Janet asked, surprised.

Danny sighed and nodded, the woman’s question telling him all he wanted to know about the possibility of Sam’s early return.

“Then why don’t we get you ready for bed?” Janet suggested sweetly in a gentle tone. She knew he had to be disappointed that Sam wasn’t there to take care of this nightly ritual, but he was at least willing to let her stand in for the blonde physicist. “Do you need me to come into the shower with you?”

Danny shook his head, sliding off the bed and grabbing the soft pile of night clothes. He slowly made his way toward the bathroom, pausing at the door to look back at the auburn-haired woman standing just inside the room. Janet returned the gaze for a moment. “Do you need me to help with the towel afterward? Is that it?” Danny smiled and stepped into the small, tiled space.

Janet gave a brief sigh of relief that she’d guessed it right, silently wondering at Sam’s ability to read this child, then joined the young boy. A little while later, once she’d dried his body and his hair and he’d put on his pajamas, Janet stepped back and stared at him, tears suddenly welling up in her eyes. Danny looked up at her, his expression changing quickly to one of worry at the sight of her watery brown orbs.

“I’m sorry, Daniel,” Janet said with a shaky smile. “I just looked at you and realized this is what Sam gets to do with you every night... and that I never got a chance like this with my own little girl. I just need to pull myself together.” She turned away from the little boy and wiped her face on the hand towel hanging next to the sink. When she turned back, her jaw dropped. Danny was nervously holding out a small comb. “Do you... do you want me to comb your hair?” Janet asked in a soft whisper, awe in her voice.

The physician had to fight back another sob when Danny gave her a shy nod, with only a slight hesitation. She gave him as bright a smile as she could and took the small piece of plastic. It wasn’t long before she was finished. “There, now you’re as handsome as ever. Go ahead and brush your teeth, and we’ll get you tucked away.” She stepped out as Danny reached for his toothbrush.

Once Danny had come back into the main room, he headed straight for the turned-down bed and tried to climb into it. Janet gave him a boost, which earned her another shy smile. He laid his head down on the pillow, and Janet brought the blanket up to his chin. “Do you want me to tell you a story?” she asked after she thought he was settled. He shook his head. “Okay, Daniel. I know I can’t compete with Sam in that department anyway.” She paused for a moment, then decided to forge ahead, sitting down on the edge of the bed near the boy’s waist. “Um, Daniel? I know that Sam usually stays with you until you fall asleep. Would you like me to stay? I know I’m not Sam, and I can’t really take her place, but you don’t have to be alone if you don’t want to be.” She reached out instinctively and gently rubbed his right arm on top of the covers.

Danny stared at the woman’s hand as it went up and down the blanket over his arm. The touch felt good, almost as good as it did when Sam rubbed him like that. He turned his gaze to the doctor’s face. The tenderness in her expression, the same tenderness that she’d worn every time she’d visited, on top of the gentle touch, convinced the small boy that this lady really cared about him, even if she wasn’t part of SG-1. He bit his lower lip as he continued to look at her.

“Do you want me to stay?” Janet asked again, even more gently. After a long moment of hesitation, Danny nodded, sending another wave of pride and affection over the petite woman’s heart. She smiled and retrieved a chair, pulling it right next to the bed. “Now that I’m comfortable,” she said once she was seated, “I want you to feel free to drift off. I’ll be right here until you’re sleeping.” Danny gave her one last smile, then closed his eyes. It wasn’t long before sleep claimed him.

Janet waited an extra twenty minutes before rising and heading for the door. She turned off the light, then gazed back at the small angel looking so peaceful under the covers. “Sweet dreams, Daniel,” she murmured. “I only hope Sam will be back to spend this time with you tomorrow.” She then closed the door and went on her way.

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