Just a Small Experiment - Part Nine


All four members of SG-1 had felt it when Anubis’ ship dropped out of hyperspace, Jack confirming Telane’s time estimate with a glance at his watch. It was another ten minutes before Telane slipped inside to rejoin them. “What have we got?” Jack asked once he’d confirmed she was alone.

“I believe I have located a second ring platform a relatively safe distance from the Stargate. As we suspected, Amaterasu’s Jaffa have gathered in great numbers near the first platform, most likely awaiting her command to board the Ha’tak ships in orbit around this planet,” Telane said tersely.

“So when can we ring down?” Jonas asked.

“I cannot be certain that I would be capable of disguising the activation of the rings while Anubis lies in wait. The entirety of the ship is on full alert. Nothing will be missed.”

Jack shared a look with Teal’c. “So we wait until Anubis opens fire on Amaterasu’s fleet,” he said grimly.

Sam looked at him sharply. “But sir, the weapon will overload not long after Anubis tries to use it. I’m not sure how big that explosion will be.”

The colonel looked over at his second in command. “You said the odds were against it taking out the whole ship, Carter. I guess we just have to play the numbers.”

“I understand that, sir, but this won’t be the safest part of the ship to be occupying. Even if the explosion is contained completely within the power core, this will be the first place that ends up crawling with Jaffa.”

“Major Carter is correct,” Telane said. “I have made arrangements to move you to another storage room in a much more strategic location.”

“Which is located where?” Jack asked.

Telane focused her gaze solely on SG-1's team leader. “The ring room will be between you and the power core. Currently, the power core is between you and the ring room.”

Jack nodded. “And just how are we making the move? With everybody on full alert like you said, I think someone might take notice of three people in Earth fatigues walking down the hall.”

Telane went to a crate on the floor and opened it, then reached in and took out the top panel of weapons that had been resting there. “We will empty the rest of this storage crate as well as two others. The three of you will lie inside and be concealed with panels such as this. I will bring Jaffa to transfer you to the new location.”

Jonas frowned at the crates that weren’t quite the length of an average person. “It’s going to be awfully cramped,” he commented.

“It won’t be for very long,” Sam said. “And it’s the easiest way to do it without being seen.”

“Yeah, I can see that,” Jack agreed somewhat reluctantly. “Are you sure there aren’t any man-sized air vents that lead to this new hidey hole of yours?”

“We cannot be sure how long Anubis will wait before beginning his attack,” Telane refuted. “You would not wish to be near the power core at the time the Eyes of Power reached overload.”

Jack blinked. “Point taken.”

They cleared out two more crates, hiding the extra weaponry in the air vent Jack had asked about. Once Sam, Jonas, and Jack were tucked away, the last with a sharp grumble of complaint about his knees, Telane had Teal’c don his Jaffa armor and helmet once again, and they went to recruit others to carry the “supplies” to their new home. Thankfully, Jaffa were trained not to ask questions, although Telane mentioned she wished her scientific equipment moved to a storage area closer to her laboratory. It would have been difficult to explain the weapons and other cargo otherwise.

Jack sprang out of his crate once the weapons had been lifted off of him. “Remind me not to do that again any time soon,” he grumbled to Teal’c as the Jaffa offered a hand to assist him.

“Not my favorite pastime, that’s for sure,” Jonas agreed as he stretched next to his storage box.

“What’s next?” Sam asked, rolling her shoulders.

Just then the ship rocked slightly. “It would seem Anubis has disengaged this ship’s cloak,” Teal’c declared.

Telane headed for the door. “Then I must begin preparations for your escape. There is no time to lose.”

“Wait a minute,” Jack called just before the Tok’ra operative opened the door. “How are we going to know when to go to the ring room?”

“When you hear the explosion from the power core, come to the ring room,” Telane told him with a chilling smile. “It will be quite noticeable.” The smile faded. “I will meet you there.” And she was gone.

“There’s hope for her,” Jack said with a gesture toward the door.

It wasn’t long before the ship was rocked by a different kind of explosion. Teal’c checked the hallway and found it filled with smoke and debris. “The power core has overloaded,” he announced simply.

Jack nodded. “Then let’s go.”

The four of them quickly dashed to the ring room and found Telane already there, feverishly working on a panel of crystals next to the control pad. “What’s going on?” Sam asked, rushing over to help.

“From what I can ascertain, the explosion of the power core has eliminated more than just Anubis’ new weapon. It appears that the ship’s normal weapons and shields have also been affected, draining them drastically. Power levels all over the ship, and in this section in particular, are fluctuating wildly. I must reroute enough power to this panel or we will not be able to activate the rings.” Telane actually looked frightened as she hurried along in her work.

“Is there anything I can do to help?” Sam asked.

“Not at the moment. There is too little time.”

Jack kept his balance through another shake of the ship, this one apparently with an outer source. “I’d guess Amaterasu is taking advantage of Anubis’ sudden vulnerability,” he said wryly. “Teal’c, you watch that entrance; I’ll watch the one we came from. Jonas, keep an eye on that view screen next to Carter and Telane. Maybe you’ll be able to tell if anyone’s coming this way.”

The others followed his orders swiftly, only the sound of crystals sliding in and out of their slots filling the brief silences between direct hits from the battle surrounding them. A few minutes later, Jonas gasped. “Sam, come look at this,” he said, pointing at the screen he’d been assigned to monitor.

The blonde stepped over, her eyes widening when she saw what had startled her teammate. “We have to get out of here now,” she declared in a tone that brooked no argument. “These readings are saying that the engines are heading toward catastrophic overload.”

“I take it this overload will take out a lot more than ours did,” Jack said, his words more of a statement than a question.

“It’ll take out the whole ship, sir,” Sam confirmed.

“What of Anubis?” Teal’c asked.

Sam looked back at the screen. “I’d say he’s already made his getaway. A large escape pod has detached from the ship and has activated its hyperdrive engines.” There was a brief pause. “It’s gone.”

Jack walked over to where Telane was making one last adjustment. “Look, unless you want to feel an affinity with space dust, I suggest you just put everything back together and get us all the hell out of here. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just needs to get us off this ship and onto the planet.”

“It is finished,” Telane declared, putting the panel back into place. “Stand on the platform and I will enter the coordinates.”

SG-1 did as they were told, and half a minute later, the four of them plus Telane were standing on a ring platform in the center of the great hall of an unknown building lit by a number of simple orbs evenly spaced around the room. All of them were instantly on alert. “So where are we?” Jack asked.

“All I can be sure of is we are half a day’s travel from the Stargate,” Telane answered.

“Something tells me we’re in a temple,” Jonas said, pointing at a large, ornate symbol that took up most of the wall he was facing. There was a comparatively simple throne in front of it, and cushions embroidered with metallic thread were spread out on the floor surrounding the wooden seat.

“It is the symbol of Amaterasu,” Teal’c said after a glance.

Telane nodded her agreement. “She most likely holds court here when she visits this planet. We should leave as quickly as possible, to avoid the likelihood of servants discovering our presence.”

Jack took one last look around the surprisingly simple room. “That sounds like a good idea.” He paused before moving forward. “So why is it that symbol of hers is the only major decoration in here? It totally goes against all the other Goa’uld’s gaudy, ego-serving propaganda and other types of galactic graffiti we’ve found all over the place.”

“Amaterasu prefers to be the center of worship when her subjects are in her presence,” Telane explained. “Excessive decoration would detract from the glory of her divinity.”

“So she doesn’t trust her slaves and Jaffa not to be distracted by shiny objects. Interesting,” Jack commented with a smirk. He began to lead them all toward the exit.

“Do not think Amaterasu does not care for her praise and glories to be immortalized, O’Neill,” Teal’c said. “I have seen many planets where there were numerous statues raised in her name, and walls of engraved gold told of her glories and victories.”

Sam gave the Jaffa a brief grin. “We’ll find that in the next room, eh, Teal’c?”

There was a twinkle of amusement in his dark brown eyes as he responded, “Indeed.”

They all grew silent then, and slowly made their way through the split bamboo curtain and around the large mirror that stood a few feet in front of that. Jack looked back and was about to comment, but at the last second thought better of it and continued to lead his team onward. They had barely managed to hide amidst a large thatch of bushes just to the right of the outer door of the temple when they heard servants rush around inside. The words they heard were loud and angry, though no one could understand what was being said. Their closest guess was Japanese, but because they were on another planet, they couldn’t be sure.

Finally the voices subsided. Jack insisted they wait another twenty minutes to make sure they weren’t coming out to check the star-lit grounds, but no one did. The five of them crept toward the wide gap in the stone wall that seemed to surround the barely-illuminated yard, then stopped suddenly when they saw the steep set of stairs that led down the tall hill they were atop of.

“That’s it, my knees have officially given notice that they’re rebelling at the earliest safe opportunity,” Jack muttered.

“I can see a large number of people quite a distance from here,” Sam declared, staring off into the distance. “Or at least that’s what all those flickering lights seem to suggest.”

“There’s a road that seems to lead directly from here to there,” Jonas observed. “It probably leads to the Stargate.”

Telane nodded. “That is true. The Stargate does indeed stand at the end of this road.”

Jack scowled. “Then we can’t take it, at least not on the road itself. Amaterasu has a bunch of Jaffa bunching around the ring platform next to the gate waiting to ring up to the ships in orbit to go fight Anubis. But Anubis’ big ship was just blown to smithereens.” He gestured to the artificial meteor shower still raining down from the sky above. “What do you suppose all those troops are going to do with themselves now that they don’t have to go off and fight?”

“Come back home,” Sam answered. “So we shadow the road?”

“Exactly. Let’s get off this hill before we’re spotted.” Jack led them down the steps as fast as he dared then into the thick forest to the right of the road.

“Shall we continue on?” Telane asked politely when Jack stopped them in a particularly dense thicket.

The colonel shook his head. “Not anymore tonight. While I’m sure you and Teal’c are more than capable of taking another twelve-hour hike in stride, the rest of us could end up tired, especially after all that glorious excitement.” He again gestured to the luminescent debris still streaking through the sky. “Tired people make mistakes. We’ll cover up whatever tracks we left getting in here and head out at dawn. Teal’c, can you take a solo watch?”

The Jaffa gave a single nod. “I can, O’Neill.”

“Then you take first watch. While we set up what camp we can, why don’t you take care of those tracks?” Jack watched Teal’c slip silently into the surrounding darkness after removing the loud metal plates and helmet of his armor then turned back to the others. “Carter, you and Jonas take second watch. Telane and I will take third. Two hours for each. Understood?”

“Yes, sir,” Sam and Jonas chimed together, Telane a beat behind with her murmur of assent.

“Let’s get some rest. Tomorrow just might be a really long day.”

As Sam settled down to try to sleep, her mind couldn’t help but wander back to the SGC where she knew a little boy was anxiously awaiting her return. She could only hope their luck would hold, and the five of them would make it to the Stargate without incident. She knew they would be late, and that her father had most likely already informed General Hammond of Anubis’ ship’s disappearance. If Danny didn’t know, she hoped Janet and the others could shield him from the terrifying truth as long as possible, choosing to believe that she and her team would be a bit tardy but all right. If Danny did know, she hoped her friends back home would be enough to comfort him until she did come back. Her expression hardened. She would come back, no matter what or how long it took. And with that silent promise to herself and the boy she held in her heart, she slipped into a light, restful sleep.

* * * * * * * *

It seemed like no time had passed at all before the five of them were moving again in the pale light of early day. It was slow going, the thick grove of trees that shadowed the road providing obstacles along with cover. The trickiest part was keeping the noise down to a minimum as people traveled to and from the temple behind them.

At the speed they were forced to go, everyone realized Telane’s estimate of half a day was on the conservative side. Jack led them through the trees and thick underbrush while Teal’c was last in line, doing his best to cover their tracks. They stopped periodically when the sounds of someone getting a little close reached their ears, but fortunately no one came close enough to cause a problem. They’d gone perhaps a third of the way to the Stargate when Jack decided to stop for a quick lunch.

It was a silent meal. All five of them lost themselves in their thoughts, one ear always wide open for any intruder. Sam couldn’t help but think of little Danny waiting back at the SGC. Had they told him about SG-1 disappearing along with Anubis’ ship? Did anyone know the ship had been destroyed? If they did it wasn’t likely they’d think anyone had survived. They wouldn’t tell Danny that, would they? At least not right away? Sam bit her lower lip and tried to force the horrible thoughts from her mind. She couldn’t afford them. The last thing she needed was something distracting her at a crucial moment.

When they were done, they moved on, and the going was just as slow as it had been before. They were another third of the way to their destination when the distinctive tromp of Jaffa marching reached their ears. Jack signaled them a bit further back into the brush, then they all stilled and waited for the soldiers to pass.

In the next few moments, they were all glad Jack had made the calls he did. The Jaffa were beating the bushes along the side of the trail; some even came in far enough to reach their previous position. They all could tell the warrior’s hearts weren’t completely into the search, but honor demanded they follow their orders.

When the first wave had passed, SG-1 and Telane shared a wary look tinged with relief. “I did not believe the Jaffa would be so suspicious as to the possibility of survivors,” the Tok’ra whispered, her expression disturbed and worried.

“That may not be the only explanation for their behavior,” Teal’c refuted quietly. “While we were aboard Anubis’ ship, were you able to ascertain if Amaterasu would be at the helm of one of her ships?”

“Yes,” Telane confirmed. “I believe that is why Anubis waited as long as he did to begin the attack.”

“So Amaterasu is on one of those ships up there,” Jonas murmured, looking up into the sky.

Sam’s expression was thoughtful. “Or maybe not. What if she’s ringed down to the planet?”

Teal’c gave her a small smile. “I believe that is a distinct possibility. It would explain her warriors’ behavior. They would take such actions to clear the way for their goddess on her way to her temple.”

Jack raised a hand, his brows furrowed in slight confusion. “Why wouldn’t she just ring down to her throne room instead of taking the long way around?” he asked.

“She has just won a great battle, O’Neill,” the dark-skinned Jaffa answered him. “She will wish to receive the proper adulation for her achievement.”

“But that means there’ll probably be more of these sweeps,” Jonas pointed out.

“Of course there will,” Jack grumbled. Then he sighed. “We’ll have to keep an even closer ear out then. At the first sign of company, we pull back further into the brush like we did this time. Let’s get going.”

Telane reached out and laid a hand on Jack’s arm before he’d moved more than a couple inches. “Should we not merely remain here until the bulk of Amaterasu’s army has passed?”

The colonel shook his head. “It’s getting late, and we still have a ways to go to the gate. If anyone caught us here, it’d be too far to make a run for it. I don’t think they’re really expecting to find anyone; they looked like they were more going through the motions than seriously looking for people. As long as we’re careful, we can make it to the Stargate and put enough distance between us and them before sundown. I’d rather get home before the SGC finds out about the success of our mission and starts thinking we didn’t make it.”

“Of course,” Telane conceded.

“Then let’s go.” Jack moved forward through the trees, his team following.

An hour later, they again heard the sound of Jaffa marching, this group much larger by the increase in volume. Again they pulled back into the brush, even further than they had before. It wasn’t long before the search parties came through, pushing bushes and tree branches aside as well as poking their staff weapons into places too low or awkward for them to crawl into themselves. Sam could just make out the enemy forms as she peeked out through the leaves that kept her out of sight.

And so it was that she saw one of the soldiers thrust his weapon into the brush beside her, directly toward where Telane had taken cover. On instinct, she reached over and covered the Tok’ra’s mouth, where she felt the sharp intake of breath against her hand as well as the sudden tenseness of the other woman’s body. On the other side of the bushes, the Jaffa that had done the damage had hesitated, having felt the resistance against the blow of his weapon. He raised the staff up to strike again, and Sam wasn’t sure she could keep the Tok’ra quiet a second time.


* * * * * * * *


Five-thirty. Janet sighed and took another look at the clock on the wall of her office. Yes, it still declared the time to be after seventeen hundred hours, the time when SG-1 was supposed to be back from their mission. But they weren’t back yet, and no one was sure what had happened to them. The doctor sighed again and rose to her feet. She decided to head for General Hammond’s office to get what answers she could; she needed to know what to tell the little boy in a VIP room on level twenty-five that desperately wanted to know what had happened to the small group of people in this world that he trusted without question.

Curt permission to enter was the reply to her knock at the general’s office door, and Janet braced herself before following the command. She saw General Hammond sitting behind his desk, a serious expression shaping his features as he gazed at her. The auburn-haired doctor couldn’t help but notice the worry that filled the pale blue eyes of her commanding officer. “Doctor Fraiser,” he greeted her shortly. “How can I help you?”

“I was wondering if you had any new information on SG-1, sir,” Janet said. “I need to know what to tell Daniel.”

“We’ve received a preliminary report from the Tok’ra that suggests Anubis’ mother ship was destroyed in a battle with another System Lord’s fleet. There’s no word on whether or not SG-1 was on board when that happened. I’m not sure I’d tell Daniel all that, however.”

Janet sighed. “I know, sir. But I have to tell him something, and I don’t want to lie. Sam wouldn’t want that.”

Hammond’s eyes dropped. “I know she wouldn’t, Doctor. Jacob is still holding out hope that they’re safe, asking for more time to find out what really happened out there.” He brought his gaze back up. “I’ve given it to him. Officially, SG-1 is only a little over a half-hour late. That in and of itself isn’t unusual.”

The physician’s brown eyes narrowed. “But with the other information we’ve received...”

“That other information is not confirmed, Doctor,” the general interrupted firmly.

“Yes, sir,” Janet replied promptly. She paused. “So what do I tell Daniel?” she asked softly.

Hammond’s eyes turned gentle. “I don’t know, Doctor, but I trust you to think of something. Just as I believe Major Carter trusts you. She left Daniel in your care, after all.”

Janet swallowed the lump in her throat before responding. “Yes, she did. Thank you, sir. I’d better go take care of that then.”

“You’re dismissed,” he said sympathetically. “And you’ll do fine.” Janet smiled and nodded her thanks, then left the office.

Her mind was still a blank when she arrived at the boy’s VIP room. The doctor gave a brief knock and entered, stopping in her tracks when she saw what awaited her inside. Danny sat in the middle of the bed, Sunshine held tightly in his arms as he stared at the clock resting on the bedside table. He didn’t turn to acknowledge his visitor.

Janet was frozen for a long moment, then somehow managed to shut the door behind herself and move closer to the bed. “Daniel?” she asked. The boy didn’t move. “Daniel, I know you’re worried about Sam and the others because they’re not back yet. I’m worried too.” The petite woman wanted to kick herself for the admission. It did get the child to look at her, however, blue eyes wide. She gave him as comforting a smile as she could. “But you have to remember that SG-1 is a team that has gotten themselves out of all kinds of trouble a lot of times before. They’ll come back.”

Danny swallowed and blinked away a few tears. “Are you sure?” he asked in a barely-audible voice, his arms squeezing the plush animal he held even more tightly.

“I...” The automatic affirmative caught in Janet’s throat before it could leave her lips, her own doubts and fears washing over her. She had said she didn’t want to lie to the boy, and she had meant it. “No, I’m not sure,” she said finally, her head dropping slightly. “But I haven’t given up hope yet. They’ve come back too many times for me to give up.”

“Then... then I won’t give up either,” Danny whispered, swallowing another lump in his throat. He laid his cheek against the top of Sunshine’s head and tried to smile. Doctor Fraiser had been so nice to him, and obviously cared about him. He didn’t want her to be sad because of him.

Janet looked at the brave young boy. “How about we wait for SG-1 together, huh? We can sit together in my office.”

Danny stared at her for a long moment then nodded shyly. “Sunshine, too?” he asked hesitantly.

The doctor gave a little laugh. “Sunshine, too. We’ll grab some supper from the commissary then go back to the infirmary. I’m sure Sam and the others will be back before we know it.” She offered a hand, and after Danny had slid off the bed and shifted the plush ape to one side he took it. The two of them then left to continue their vigil together.

* * * * * * * *

Sam wasn’t sure what had happened. One second she was practically cutting off Telane’s air supply to keep her quiet in the face of a second blow to the shin from the Jaffa standing far too close to their hiding place, and the next she was involuntarily flinching away from a booming command that had the entire Jaffa patrol marching back to the road proper and leaving SG-1 plus one crouched in continued safety. She gave the Tok’ra she held a questioning look and released her upon receiving a non-verbal assurance of silence.

Jack looked the pair over with a swift glance then returned his attention to the now-fading footsteps of the Jaffa patrol. Once he decided they were far enough away, he gestured for his team to continue on their way. He called a halt a half hour later. “All right, what happened back there?” he asked in a sharp whisper once Teal’c had assured him the coast was clear.

“I apologize, Colonel O’Neill,” Telane said immediately. “I was taken by surprise by a strike to my leg during the Jaffa search. If it were not for Major Carter’s timely actions, I would have inadvertently revealed our position.”

“Well, Carter was there and you didn’t,” Jack said begrudgingly, giving the Tok’ra a brief glare. “We weren’t expecting the patrol to come that far into the brush anyway, so you’re not completely at fault. Teal’c, can we look forward to more of that?”

“I do not believe so, O’Neill,” the Jaffa replied. “The command that was given was intended to hasten the patrol in its task. Amaterasu’s arrival must be expected at any time.”

Telane nodded. “Teal’c is correct, Colonel. The commander wished the patrol to return to the city prior to the evening meal.”

Jonas creased his brows in thought. “So are we going to run into any more patrols?” he asked.

“Well, I doubt they’ll be very thorough if we do,” Jack said. “We’ll still have to be careful, of course, but we might be able to put on a little more speed. The brush is a little thinner around here anyway.” He made a brief gesture, and the five of them continued on toward the Stargate.

They’d covered half the distance they had left when more armor-rattling footsteps were heard thundering toward them. Jack’s expression became a silent curse, and he quickly led the others further back into the remaining undergrowth. There was another breath-catching moment when a pair of Jaffa stopped directly in front of their hiding spot and peered into the clump of bushes they were surrounded by. Jonas subtly moved a branch to cover Sam and Telane’s hair when he figured out what had caught the warriors’ attention, and soon enough the Jaffa were on their way. About ten minutes later, the stomping footsteps were fading off into the distance.

Jack looked over his team. “We seemed to have come through that in one piece,” he said, relieved. “Did anyone catch any random comments that would tell us what was going on with that bunch?”

Jonas looked off in the direction the Jaffa squad had gone. “That group was bigger than the others put together,” he said, his eyes large and his voice soft.

“I believe I heard a reference to the goddess herself,” Telane offered. “The Jaffa may have been escorting Amaterasu to the temple.”

“That would account for the size of the patrol,” Sam agreed.

“That would also suggest a relatively clear path to the Stargate,” Jonas added.

Jack shook his head. “I’m not taking any chances at this stage of the game. We’ll keep going like we have. The brush is still thick enough. And by the time it isn’t it should be dark enough to cover our approach to the DHD.” He looked straight at Sam. “We’ll head for the Alpha Site if at all possible.”

Sam frowned in confusion for a moment then cleared her expression. “Yes, sir. We’ll gate to the Alpha Site.”

SG-1's commander looked around at everyone. “We’ll take a quick pit stop here. Take care of any last minute needs, then we’ll head out in ten. Carter, help me scout up ahead, would you?”

“Yes, sir,” she replied, noticing the silent command Jack gave to Teal’c to watch over Telane. “Why the Alpha Site, sir?” she asked once Jack had given her the signal that they were alone.

“I’m not taking that Tok’ra back to Earth. That little stunt with the last patrol put me on edge, and I’m not willing to take the chance we’re dealing with a traitor,” Jack explained, darkly serious.

Sam blinked at the tone. “She was taken by surprise, sir. It could have happened to any of us.”

Jack nodded his concession of the point. “Maybe, but it didn’t. I’m not saying she actually is a traitor, but like I said, I’m just not willing to take the chance.”

“I understand, sir.” She thought for a moment. “I take it you don’t want her to see the address.”

“You got it, Carter. And if the unexpected happens and we’re running for our lives, pick a safe, deserted planet first.”

“Yes, sir.”

Jack’s look softened a bit. “Way to catch her, though, Carter. You saved our asses back there.”

Sam smiled. “Thank you, sir. I just got lucky enough to see where the Jaffa was hitting with his staff weapon, that’s all.”

The colonel gave a brief chuckle. “That’s good enough for me. We can use all the good luck we can get.” He gazed around the area they were in. “I think we’re clear for a while. Let’s go back to the others.”

Jack had been correct in his earlier assessment. The sun had set and night had fallen by the time they were within running distance of the Stargate. When they arrived, the five of them crouched down in the last of the underbrush and looked out over the large clearing the gate and DHD stood in. “That’s an awfully long distance in the open,” Jack murmured, frowning.

“We don’t really have a choice, sir,” Sam said. “The guards stationed here have a pretty wide circuit to walk, though, so we should have time if we wait until they’re far enough away.”

“Major Carter is correct, O’Neill,” Teal’c agreed. “Because they foolishly leave no one to guard the Stargate, they would be forced to rush to return at the first sound of its activation, and this would only allow them to witness us stepping through if we were to await the moment they reach the furthest point of their perimeter before entering the address.”

“That sounds about right. And you’re both sure?” Jack asked, looking from his second in command to the Jaffa and back to confirm his own mental calculations.

Sam nodded. “Yes, sir. We’ll have to time their circuit and leave cover as soon as they’re out of sight, but it can be done.”

Jack looked at Jonas and Telane and, seeing no objections, nodded his agreement. “All right, we’ll do it that way. Carter, you’re on DHD duty once we get there. Everyone else covers her. Time out their circuit and let’s get going.”

Two and a half hours later, the team was ready to put their plan into action. The small Jaffa squad disappeared into the darkness behind the Ancient device, and the five of them swiftly moved into the clearing. They were stopped halfway to their destination, however, by a small explosion in front of Jack’s feet. “Damn it!” he cursed, his head snapping in the direction of the staff weapon blast. “We can’t catch a break!” He raised his P-90 and began firing at the six Jaffa that were running down the road toward them.

“The other Jaffa!” Jonas cried, pointing toward where the first patrol had disappeared a little while ago. More staff weapon fire came from that direction.

“Carter! Dial us out of here!” Jack yelled as Teal’c joined him and Jonas began firing at the other group.

“Yes, sir!” Sam replied as she took aim at Jonas’ sextet, her feet already starting to run toward the DHD.

Telane took up position next to Jack and raised the zat gun that had been strapped to her belt. “I believe this squad was to replace the guards we have been watching,” she told the colonel, firing off a few shots as she did.

Jack gave a low growl and fired another burst. “Why does that not surprise me?” he grumbled.

Sam quickly found herself at the DHD, Jonas using strategic bursts of weapon fire to keep the Jaffa that had returned to the scene of the fight under cover more often than they were letting loose volleys of staff weapon blasts. She punched in the address of a planet they’d found to be deserted a little over a year and a half ago then brought her gun to bear while the wormhole formed. “We’re good to go, sir!” she called as she helped her teammate hold off the alien warriors.

“Then let’s go!” Jack yelled back, gesturing for Telane and Teal’c to begin a careful withdrawal.

The five of them met on the steps leading up to the Stargate, now in an even better position to defend themselves as they hurried through the event horizon. Amaterasu’s planet was suddenly gone from their vision, and the lush, green planet that Sam had dialed took its place. Jack looked around approvingly. “Way to go, Carter,” he said lowly into her ear.

They watched for any Jaffa that might have been able to make it through after them, but the wormhole shut down shortly after their arrival. Sam led the way over to the DHD, this time to dial the Alpha Site, Jonas at her side. “Make sure Telane doesn’t see the address,” she whispered to the Kelownan without changing her expression.

“Sure,” he whispered back, a touch of confusion in his voice. He’d have to ask about it later.

“I think the folks at home are going to be happy to see us,” Jack declared, his light-hearted tone at odds with the careful, wary look he was continuing to give his surroundings. “Especially when they hear the great news.”

“Speaking of this great news, Colonel, we will need to speak of the ultimate disposition of the Eye of Ra you currently have in your possession,” Telane said emotionlessly.

The members of SG-1 shared a quick look. “Figures,” Jack grumbled. “Take all the glory out of our day.”

The Tok’ra raised an eyebrow. “This is important, Colonel. And I believe that it would be best for the Eye of Ra to be given to the Tok’ra at the end of this mission. The incident that led to Anubis’ possession of the Eye is proof that it is not safe in the hands of the Tau’ri.”

Sam paused in her examination of the DHD while the men of SG-1 all gritted their teeth at the callous comment, Jack worst of all. The team commander took a breath to retort angrily when an unexpected voice beat him to it. “Do you have any idea what happened before it was decided to give up the Eye?” Jonas asked in a low tone, filled with an underlying fury no one had heard from the newest member of their team before. “Do you have any idea what we went through before we made that choice?”

“You and the people of Abydos were doing battle with the forces of Anubis,” Telane replied, obviously confused as to where Jonas was taking the conversation. “I have also heard that Doctor Jackson arrived on the planet as well.”

“Oh, yes, he was there,” the brown-haired man continued, his voice still soft and icy. “If it weren’t for Doctor Jackson there would have no chance at all of stopping Anubis from getting the Eye. And if it weren’t for him we never would have found it in time.”

“And then you used it to bargain for your own survival, sacrificing the rest of the galaxy to the power of Anubis’ weapon,” the red-haired Tok’ra retorted impatiently. “Do you see now why the Tau’ri cannot be trusted with such a powerful artifact?”

Jonas made a harsh slashing gesture with his arm as he took a step toward the blended woman. “You don’t even know our reasoning and you’re so willing to condemn us!” he shouted, losing control for a moment. He took a deep breath while everyone else stared at him in shock. “Doctor Jackson made the bargain with Anubis,” the Kelownan continued, his tone returning to the quiet hardness it had held previously. “He used the Eye to bargain for our safety and for that of the people of Abydos. He was planning on using his powers as an Ascended being to make sure Anubis didn’t go back on that promise. But something happened, something had to have happened to keep him from being able to do that. And we know that whatever that was had to be something extremely powerful to stop the Ascended.”

Telane met the hard blue-green gaze boring a hole into her own. “Then why did that power not stop the actions of Anubis?”

Jonas scowled. “How are we supposed to know? The only reason we know Doctor Jackson was stopped was because of the destruction of Abydos. He never would have let that happen if he’d been able to prevent it. He’s too good a man to have done anything else.” He took another deep breath as he remembered Daniel’s sacrifice for his own people. “We trusted him with the Eye. We’d do it again.” He paused for a moment when he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder. He glanced back to find Sam standing beside him wearing a small supportive smile. “Doctor Jackson has been willing to sacrifice everything on more than one occasion to save other people, people he didn’t even know,” Jonas continued as he returned his gaze to the Tok’ra before him. He missed the slight tugging on his backpack. “People that may not have even deserved that sacrifice. But he wouldn’t have made the bargain he did if he didn’t think he could make it stick. We didn’t make the wrong call. We put our faith in one of the best people we could have put it in. Extraordinary circumstances made it all fall apart, and now we’ve corrected the mistake those circumstances left behind. Doctor Jackson may have finally made the ultimate sacrifice for that Eye, and I don’t want to see it just... thrown to the wolves because you’re so willing to judge our actions without knowing the full story.”

“Thank you, Jonas,” Sam whispered into the sudden silence that followed his conclusion.

“While I appreciate your motivations, that does not change the fact that the Tau’ri should not be entrusted with the Eye of Ra,” Telane insisted. “Your emotional attachment to Doctor Jackson blinded you to the bigger picture that should have been considered before agreeing to his plan.”

A firm hand on his other shoulder stopped Jonas from responding. “I got this one, Jonas,” Jack said from his other side. “Apparently what you’ve already said wasn’t good enough for her.” His brown gaze met the younger man’s blue-green one. “But it was good enough for me.” He turned back to Telane. “The only thing my teammate here left out was that there was another reason Daniel wanted us to escape. There was a tablet that talked about an even bigger and better weapon that was more than a match for Anubis, even with his super weapon. And no, you can’t have it, and no, we’re not telling you anything more about it.”

Telane rolled her eyes. “Selmak has already informed the High Council of the tablet you recovered from Ra’s pyramid on Abydos,” she stated.

Jack frowned. “Right, whatever. The thing is, Daniel thinks that tablet was even more important than the Eye. If this weapon of his really is that powerful, he’s right. I don’t regret putting my faith in my friend. And we’re not giving up the Eye that he was willing to face off against the Others to help us get.”

“You may not have a say in the matter, Colonel O’Neill,” Telane said haughtily. “I will be bringing the matter to the High Council. I am sure they will wish to discuss this in relation to the treaty our peoples share.”

“All right, fine,” Sam snapped, taking a few steps away from Jonas after giving his shoulder one last squeeze. “If you’re going to start dragging the treaty into it, I have a solution for you.” She released her backpack from her vest. “Colonel, you put the Eye into my pack when we made the switch, right?”

“Well, yeah,” Jack replied, unsure of where this was going.

The blonde major looked at Telane again and held her arms straight out from her sides. “I have nowhere else I could put it. Jonas, would you dial up the Alpha Site, please?”

Jonas looked at her oddly then glanced over at Jack. The colonel gave him a nod after a long moment of contemplation. “All right, Sam,” the younger man agreed quietly and went over to the DHD to begin the dialing sequence.

Sam moved over to the side of the Stargate. “This will all be over in a minute,” she said with a glare at Telane as the chevrons locked. As the wormhole formed with its usual kawoosh, Sam tossed her pack into the vortex, disintegrating it completely. “There,” she said into the stunned silence that followed her actions. “Now there’s no Eye of Ra to argue about.”

Telane blinked a few more times in shock then walked swiftly over to where Jonas still stood next to the DHD. “You are trying to deceive me,” she said harshly. “You hid the Eye amongst your teammate’s things.” Before Jonas could react, the Tok’ra had removed his pack and was digging through it, taking everything out for inspection. All that was revealed was a pile of supplies, meters, and other scientific equipment, more than Jonas had originally packed.

“I didn’t see the need to destroy everything,” Sam said coldly. “Some of those devices are very expensive and hard to replace.”

“You truly destroyed the Eye of Ra,” Telane whispered, looking at Sam with awe. “Do you mistrust the Tok’ra so much that you would disintegrate such a powerful artifact? Think of what could have been discovered and developed from studying how it functioned!”

Sam shook her head. “It wasn’t really mistrust that made me do what I did. The Eye of Ra is too powerful for any one faction to have. And you know as well as I do that we can’t trust everyone involved with your people or our people. Now, even if the other Eyes survived the explosion, a super weapon like the one Anubis created can never be rebuilt, and our people can’t fight over the Eye we had. It’s not worth it.” She took a deep breath and released it. “And Daniel wouldn’t have wanted us to be torn apart over it.”

There was a moment of silence as Telane rose to her feet and dusted herself off. Jack finally broke it by radioing to the Alpha Site and letting them know who was coming through while Jonas repacked his bag. “Well, let’s head out,” the silver-haired man said in a subdued voice once he was finished. “People are waiting for us.” He gestured toward the still-active gate.

Telane shook her head and was the first one to disappear through the event horizon. The male members of SG-1 paused when they saw Sam head back for the DHD. “What are you doing, Sam?” Jonas asked.

“I almost forgot something,” she said with a half smile, kneeling down and opening a panel on the pedestal of the Dial Home Device. Jack and Jonas gasped when they saw what she pulled out.

“Is that not the Eye of Ra?” Teal’c asked, both eyebrows as high as they could go.

“That it is, Teal’c. I didn’t think Daniel’s sacrifice should be in vain.” Sam shrugged.

Jack frowned, confused. “So was all that stuff you told Telane a complete bluff?”

Sam shook her head. “No, sir, not in the least.” She walked to the edge of the clearing and pulled a small folding spade out of her vest. She quickly dug a hole beneath a flowering bush and buried the Eye. “We can’t trust the NID not to get their hands on it if we take it home, and who knows what the Tok’ra will do with it. It’s better if everyone thinks all the Eyes have been lost.”

Jonas nodded. “But we’ll still know,” he said softly.

“Yeah. For Daniel,” Sam said simply.

“Let’s get going before people get too worried,” Jack said as he gave his 2IC an approving look. “They’re expecting us.”

With that, the four teammates walked through the Stargate together. Back to Gen Fiction          Back to Part Eight          Go to Part Ten

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