Connections Part
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Fan Fiction Main

Connections Part Seven
By Tammy K
tkukuk@netscape.net
 

RATING: PG-13
WARNINGS: Violence, some profanity
CATEGORY: Hurt/Comfort, Drama, Angst
SPOILERS: A Hundred Days, Stargate the movie, minor references to Brief Candle, The Broca Divide, Children of the Gods, Cold Lazarus, Need, Solitudes, The Serpent’s Lair
TIME FRAME: Immediately after A Hundred Days
PAIRINGS:  A little Jack/Sam UST
SUMMARY: The team’s efforts to deal with the implications of what happened to Jack on Edora are cut short when a highly advanced society with the power to read and control their victims’ minds targets the Colonel and Daniel.
DISCLAIMER: This story has been created for entertainment purposes only and is in no way intended to infringe upon any copyrights associated with Stargate or Stargate SG-1.
All original characters and situations are the property of the author.  Please do not archive without permission.
URL: http://www.crosswinds.net/~latlk/connectionsone.html

***

 “Chief Solomon approaches!”  A sentry burst into Marcus’s quarters where he, Carter and Teal'c were working on the logistics for their infiltration of Lacitta.

“At this hour.  That is not good.”  Marcus took a deep breath, his chest tightening with dread.  Why would his old friend be coming to see them at such a late hour?

Carter’s heart sank.  He knew.

“We’d better find a place to hide just in case he’s discovered our real identities.”

“I know of such a place.”  Teal'c said.

Sam nodded and followed the Jaffa out the back door and into the shadows.

Solomon and his party entered the dwelling with no fan fare.  Arik and his guards immediately scanned the room for the strangers.

“Greetings, Chief Solomon.  Your are traveling late this evening.”  Marcus put on his best smile.

“I have heard some disturbing news my friend.  The Colonel feels that he has been contacted by a member of his team through the mind link.  Obviously no one used our equipment in Lacitta for such an enterprise.  Have you been visited by the Tau’ri?”

Sam closed her eyes.  He did know.  But how?  Colonel O’Neill would never tell them.  But the mind link is so invasive she supposed he wouldn’t have to do it willingly.

“Not to my knowledge.  We welcome all travelers, though.  Perhaps they concealed their identities.”  Marcus knew he couldn’t risk any outright lies or he could find himself strapped to the Chair, forced to give up all their secrets.

“There were two such travelers here when I visited you earlier today.  Where are they, now?”   Solomon demanded as he thought back to his brief conversation with the strangers.  A woman and a large dark man: Carter and Teal'c of SG-1!

“They left soon after your visit.  Do you suspect them?”  Marcus continued with his usual innocent tone.

“Yes I do I’m afraid.  Were they interested in O’Neill or Jackson?”  Solomon examined his friend with a critical eye.  Was Marcus being honest with him?  Through all the years they had known each other, the man had always expressed his love for the Nekaran people.  He didn’t think he would betray them now.

“Yes, they asked many questions about your new acquisitions, but the heroes of Abydos are known far and wide, so I did not think their questions odd.”

Solomon nodded.  They had been cunning.  “Of course not, why should you.  Did they ask about the memory sharing devices?”

“Yes they did.  The woman was quite interested in our technology.”

Carter smiled from her hiding place.  Marcus was very adept at weaving lies together with the truth.

“In fact, she even received the device and sat in the Chair herself.”  The leader of Sarafeen continued.

That was what Solomon had been waiting to hear.  SG-1 had access to the technology to contact O’Neill.  They must have used it to warn him that they were planning some kind of rescue operation.

“Arik and his men will search the compound to be sure you are in no danger from the imposters.  Be careful my friend, these are trained Tau’ri killers.”

“Of course.  Thank you for your concern.  If they should return I will send word to you immediately.”

Major Carter and Teal'c sank farther into a clump of bushes.  Their weapons ready.

Arik checked the parameter brush himself.  He didn’t think the Tau’ri would risk capture by staying so close to Sarafeen.  They were probably already in Lacitta.

Sam held her breath as the leader of the guard stood only feet in front of her.  The Major tightened her grip on her pistol.  She was afraid they were going to have to fight their way out.

But Arik passed their hiding place without discovering them.

Teal'c relaxed his fighting stance.  It looked like the Nekarans were leaving.

“The Tau’ri must be headed toward Lacitta.”  Solomon concluded as he turned with Arik to leave.  “Double all guards around the living stalls and the arena.  You will capture them before they reach O’Neill and Jackson.”

“Yes, Chief.”  Arik bowed before boarding the transport.

Solomon smiled at his friend.  “I apologize for the intrusion, Marcus.  Sleep well.”

The leader of Sarafeen nodded and watched silently as the transport disappeared into the darkness.

Then he hurried back to his home where Sam and Teal'c were waiting.  “Solomon said he was going to increase the guards.  You will never be able to reach your friends.”

Carter concentrated on the problem.  Their disguises were useless now.  Everyone would be looking for them.  But intuition told her they had to move tomorrow.  The longer they waited the more difficult it would be to get to their friends.  She would have to find a way.

Suddenly the door opened and a shivering young woman hurried inside.

Marcus stepped forward, his hand on his heart to welcome a stranger.

“Greetings.  I am seeking sanctuary.”  The young woman said.  Her eyes wide with fear.

“Sarafeen is always open to travelers.  I am Marcus, leader of the community.”

“I am Jenna.”  She lowered her eyes in a show of respect.

The Nekaran saw his young visitor was shaking from the cold.  “Did you walk here from Lacitta?”  He asked, offering her a blanket.

Jenna nodded and accepted the wrap.  She had considered the Colonel’s words for several hours.  Then when the darkness came she gathered a few belongings and left her home for the last time.

“Then I’m sure you must be hungry.  Let me get you some food.”  Marcus left them in silence.

Carter motioned the frightened woman to a seat at the table.  “I’m Sam and this is Teal'c.  Don’t worry.  Sarafeen has taken us in.  I’m sure they’ll be happy to help you, too.”

“Thank you.”  Jenna nodded to each in turn.  They seemed like caring people.

Marcus returned with a large plate of vegetables.  “I hope you like home grown plants.”  He smiled as he put the dish in front of the stranger.

The young woman ate enthusiastically.  The meal was much better than the flavorless nutrition tablets supplied each day by the city.

Sam, Teal'c and Marcus continued their conversation to the side.

“Now that we have lost the element of surprise Chief Solomon will have all his guards looking for you.  I do not believe we will be able to infiltrate the holding area without being discovered.”  The Nekaran started.

Carter sighed.  “Then we’ll need new disguises.  I will not sit by while Colonel O’Neill faces another day in the Chair.  Not to mention whatever they have planned for Solomon’s big presentation tomorrow.”  The Major was adamant.

Jenna looked up when she heard the Lareo’s name.

“You know of O’Neill?”  She asked cautiously.

All three heads turned at once.  “He is our commanding officer.”  Teal'c answered.

The young woman’s eyes brightened.  “He is a good man.”

“You’ve met Colonel O’Neill?”  Sam hesitated at the weight of coincidence.

“I have tended to Lareos for many cycles.  The Colonel was my newest charge.”  Jenna answered.

“What is a Lareo?”  Carter turned to Marcus, whose face had brightened with new hope.

“It is the name given to captives forced to sit in the Chair.”  He answered.

“Tending to him in what way.”  Sam could feel that vague jealousy cropping up again.

“Bringing him clothing, treating his wounds before each day in the Chair.  That is all.”

“So you care for him every morning?”  Marcus asked.

“I do.”

“What about Doctor Daniel Jackson?  Have you seen him?”  The Major continued her questioning with growing enthusiasm.

“Only one time.  He is the private servant of Chief Solomon and does not sit in the Chair.”

“Do you know of tomorrow’s presentation?”  Teal'c asked.

“Only that I am to report to the medical room in the morning to prepare both men for the arena.”  Jenna answered as she continued to eat.  It was a strange sensation to enjoy her meal.  Such luxuries were not afforded to the common worker of Nekara.

Sam and Teal'c exchanged a quick look.  Their luck had just changed.

“Jenna, you may be the key to rescuing our friends from that insanity.  Will you help us enter the city?”  Carter asked, willing the young woman to say yes.

The Nekaran hesitated.  It had taken so many years for her to leave her meaningless existence and after being free for less than one hour someone was asking her to return to the site of her escape.  What if she couldn’t get out again?

Sam sympathized with the young woman’s fears.  But she also knew how scared her friend had been when she shared his mind in the Chair.  There was no room for argument.

“Can I speak to you privately for a moment?”  The Major knew she had to find a way to get through to Jenna.

The woman nodded.

Carter led her out into the darkened courtyard to a small fire glowing at the edge of the clearing.

“I know this must seem like a ridiculous request.  After all, you just summoned the courage to escape and we’re asking you to voluntarily return.”  She began in an even and serious tone.

Jenna listened silently.  She wanted to help, but how could she go back?

“Well I’m going to guess that you decided to find a new life because Colonel O’Neill encouraged you to leave the city.  Is that right?”

“Yes…how did you know?”

“He’s always doing something like that.  He and Daniel both have such a firm sense of fair play that they would never sit by and let someone suffer.  You owe them the same courtesy.  Colonel O’Neill saved your life, help us save his.”

The young woman looked off into the darkness.  Sam was right.  She did owe her chance at a new life to Colonel O’Neill.

“I promise you that I will make sure you leave Lacitta with me.  Please help us rescue our friends.”  Major Carter was close to begging.  She knew she was looking at the only way they were going to get into the city now that all the guards were on high alert.

Jenna searched the other woman’s eyes for a reason to trust her.  She saw courage and determination and it was enough to change her mind.

“What do you want me to do?”  She asked with a new resolve.

“This may sound strange, but I’d like to use your body.”

“As a vessel to enter the city.”  Jenna nodded.  It was a good plan.

“Exactly.  So you know about consciousness sharing?”  Sam could see that they had found the perfect ally.

“Yes.  I was one of Chief Solomon’s favorites before the accident.  I carried many courtesans for him.”  The woman straightened with pride.

Carter thought about the implications of that statement and it made her more determined than ever to rescue her friends from this deranged society.

“We shouldn’t have any difficulty infiltrating the city with you as our cover.  I will enter your mind and you can lead us to our men.”

“Of course.”  Jenna smiled at the thought of helping O’Neill escape.

The women walked back to Marcus’s home and each conspirator took a seat around the table as they spent most of the evening finalizing their plans.

***

Jack slowly opened his eyes, blinking at the light.  He frowned as he recognized his surroundings.

“’Morning, Jack.”  Daniel said as he noticed his friend’s movement.

“Morning?  You were supposed to wake me.”  Jack was angry.

“You needed the rest.”

Colonel O’Neill attacked him with his best military reprimand stare.

It worked.

Daniel wilted under his glare.  “I’m sorry.  But you have to admit you feel a lot better after a full night’s sleep.”

Jack took stock of himself.  He was more alert and rested than he had been in days. He would never admit it, but the archeologist was right.

“Next time do as I tell you.  I might not be up to snuff but I can still take my share of the watch.  Is that understood?”  Jack was not kidding, he didn’t want to be ‘the sick one’, forcing everyone else to take care of him at their own peril.

“Yes, sir.”  Daniel knew he had wounded his friend’s pride.  But it was more important to worry about his health than his bruised ego.

Jack scrubbed his hand through his hair as he sat up straight.

“Good.  I know you were looking out for me, so let’s let it go at that.”  His mood lightened instantly.  “And how are you this fine morning?” He asked, satisfied that he had made his point.

“OK, I guess.  But hungry and tired.”  Daniel’s voice was low with fatigue.

“Well, I can’t offer you any more of that delicious prison food, but why don’t you close your eyes for a while.  I’ll wake you when they come for us.”

Daniel was glad to comply.  He knew Jack had needed the extra sleep, but he was tired too.  “Thanks, how are you feeling?”

O’Neill shifted his position, holding his left arm against his body to protect his injured hand.  It throbbed with hot agony, but he downplayed the pain.

“Ah…A little sore.  But I’ve been worse.  Now get some sleep.”  He smiled thinly as Daniel curled up on the floor and closed his eyes.

The Colonel moved slowly to his feet to stretch his stiff limbs.  After stopping at the water bottle to wash the bitter taste from his mouth, he started to pace.  It felt good to work off some of his pent up energy.

O’Neill knew he had given his enemy the advantage over the past few days.  He had let the Chair take its’ toll, not to mention his clashes with the Giant.  But now thanks to Sam’s voice he felt re-energized.  He was ready to turn all his attention to beating them at their own game.

And something more.  It was no longer enough to win.

He could not just walk away and leave Lacitta in tact.

Instead he would destroy it.

His eyes darkened as he looked out over the large room filled with men who had been warped by this twisted planet.  One was crying like a baby as the guards dragged him away.  Some tried to fight as they were taken, but the armed men were ready for them and their struggles didn’t amount to much.  Others just lowered their eyes and left with no expression.

Those were the worst.  Beaten men.  Jack could sympathize.  He knew how easy it was to lose your bearings in the Chair.  He had come close to letting the past engulf him, but now looking down at his crushed hand he felt a new resolve.  The pain would remind him where he was every second of the day and he could turn his attention back to defeating Solomon, where it should have been all along.

O’Neill watched Daniel until he was satisfied that the archeologist was fast asleep.  No matter what people thought about Daniel Jackson, he could be tough when they needed him to be.  Jack admired the young man’s persistence in the face of such alien environments, you couldn’t teach that.

But the sarcophagus awaited them today and that would test both men’s resolve.  The Colonel hated that thing.  It made everyone around it crazy with power.  Not a good place to be a victim.

He sat again, his body screaming louder.  He wished he could find a way to talk to Carter and Teal'c.

***

Major Carter rose from a few hours of restless sleep. She had dreamt O’Neill’s dreams.  Trapped on Edora, no gate, no friends…it was eye-opening.   She kept thinking back to her behavior at the Colonel’s house.  He had been so lost and alone.  And what did she do to welcome him home, confront him with childish accusations, great job, Sam.

Sam got to her feet stretching away the night. They had finalized their mission plans then each retired to their sleeping quarters for a few hours of rest before daylight.

The Major’s motion woke Teal'c from his Kel no’Reem.

“Good morning.”  Carter said with a haggard smile.

“Good morning, MajorCarter.  You did not rest well?”  The Jaffa asked, concerned by her pale face and bleary eyes.

“Not really, I’m worried about the men.”  She answered self-consciously.

Teal'c sat next to her.  “O’Neill and DanielJackson are strong, they will survive.”

“I know, it’s just…” Carter hesitated.  “I felt the Colonel’s fear on Edora.  It really put things into perspective.  Sometimes I forget that just because he doesn’t show his feelings doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any.”  Sam sighed.

“Sometimes leaders must ignore their own needs in order to lead.  O’Neill is no different.”

“That’s just what Janet told me.”   Sam had a better understanding of the Colonel’s survival instincts.  He always did what he had to do to make it through, both physically and mentally.   The price of survival was often high, and Jack O’Neill had paid it many times.  That was all she could ask of anyone.

Carter looked at her friend and wondered how he could remain so calm.

“How are you doing, Teal'c?”  She asked as she ran her fingers through her rumpled blonde hair.

“I am well.”  Teal'c answered calmly.

“Are you really?”

Teal'c examined the Major.

“I am in good health.”  He was puzzled.

“I meant how do you ‘feel’”

“I worry for O’Neill and DanielJackson.  I wish to bring them home safely.  I will continue to serve you until we accomplish that mission.”

Major Carter nodded.  She often forgot that her friend was not from Earth.  His perspective was not colored by years of self-examination and doubt. He was assigned a task and he carried it out.  No hesitation or analysis.

“I wanted to thank you for that.  Where would I be without you?”  Sam smiled awkwardly.

“You would be here.”  Teal'c smiled his subtle smile.

Carter sat next to the Jaffa on his bed and put a hand on his broad shoulder, gathering strength from his resolve before she had to face the impossible tasks that lay ahead.

***

“Rise and shine Danny Boy.”  Jack touched his friend’s sleeping form.

“Must I?”  Daniel muttered with closed eyes.

“’Fraid so.  We have company.”  Jackson opened his eyes to see Orson and Arik coming toward them.

“Great.”  He crawled to a sitting position then slowly to his feet.

“Morning, gentlemen.  What can we do for you?”  Jack smiled wryly.

“Colonel, you look terrible!”  Orson was alarmed.

“Really, and I feel so good.”  O’Neill smirked.

“Even makeup may not cover all those bruises.”  Orson said as he examined the Colonel’s battered face.  He gasped when his eyes rested on Jack’s twisted fingers.  “Is that broken?”  His voice was soft with fear.  He worried that Solomon wouldn’t be happy with the condition of his prisoner.

“Does it look broken?”  O’Neill countered slyly.  “I don’t think all the makeup in town is gonna cover that one.”  He was high on defiance and it felt great.

Daniel was relieved to hear his friend’s unique voice again.  “Isn’t it a little early for a show?”  The linguist asked.

“Chief Solomon schedules his special performances before the day’s events so he can attend both.”  Orson answered.

“Oh.  And what kind of special performance are we going to be giving?”  Daniel asked as he heard the force field crackle off.

“He is extremely secretive.  I do not know what is going to happen.”

Arik grabbed Jack and manacled him again.  The Colonel stifled a groan as the man touched his fractured hand.  Instead he laughed to hide the pain.  “I guess you didn’t need any little helpers today, what with my broken paw.  I bet you weren’t surprised to see that though, were you?”

Arik smiled.  “Cade has his job to do, just as I do.  Just as you do.”

“Oh I’m gonna do my job, you can count on it.”  Jack growled with a vicious smile.

The chief of security ignored him.

Instead he pulled O’Neill’s leash hard and the Colonel stumbled to one knee.  He winced as pain shot through his ribs.

“That wasn’t very nice.”  Jack said as Daniel helped him to his feet.

“Please Colonel, do not make this any worse for yourself than it has to be.”  Orson was begging his charge to stop resisting before they both suffered for his insolence.  Solomon was not very forgiving to attendants who could not control their acquisitions.

***

Marcus stood after everyone had finished breakfast.  “I have an announcement to make,” He began, as he looked out over the 21 other Nekarans sitting around the table.  “I want to thank you for welcoming Jenna to Sarafeen.”  The young woman had eaten her first meal as a member of the community.  Today she and I will be accompanying Carter and Teal'c into Lacitta to rescue their friends.”  He paused as a buzz of excitement spread from person to person.

Sam watched their reactions, some seemed proud of their leader’s decision, while others were not happy to see him interfere.

“If something should happen to me while I am away, I hope you will all carry on with the same passion you have shown throughout our time here.”  Marcus fought back tears.  “I am so proud of our community.  I know you are too.  I bid you a brief farewell.”
The leader of Sarafeen walked around the table and clasped hands with each of his companions.  Most wished him luck and stood to embrace their beloved friend.

Carter and Teal'c waited silently in the background.  To their surprise, Dayna stopped before them.

“Are you going to wish us luck?”  Sam asked with a smile. Her expression hardened when she saw the anger in the other woman’s eyes.

“Why did you have to come here?  It was all so perfect.”  Dayna hissed, her voice low.

“Chief Solomon forced us to act when he kidnapped our teammates.”  Teal'c answered mildly.

“They belong to Lacitta now.  The four of you will not be able to change that.  Instead you will get our leader killed.”

“Maybe, but I don’t think so.  By using the Chief’s technology against him I believe we have found a way to enter the city undetected.  With Jenna as our guide we should be able to contact the Colonel and Daniel before we’re discovered.”  Sam beamed with confidence.  She felt every bit of it.

Dayna laughed derisively.  “Do you think you are the first people to try to free Solomon’s acquisitions?  Most have died in the pit themselves.”

“You are an intelligent woman, Dayna.  I don’t understand how you could be a part of such wasted potential.”  Sam was disgusted with the Nekaran’s selfishness.

“I will not argue the merits of our way of life with you anymore.  It is pointless.  However, I do hope that we will be able to expand our involvement to include our own subjects.  For now, I enjoy the fresh air and freedom of Sarafeen too much to jeopardize my position with Marcus.  He is a wonderful man, but too naïve to realize the incredible power the Chair can harness.”

“Perhaps it is you who is naïve not to see the Chair’s true danger.  You sacrifice your soul to it every time you find enjoyment in the suffering it brings to its victims.”  Teal'c was sad to see such delusions, it reminded him of the misguided millions who still worship the Goa’uld.

Carter just shook her head.  She had too much on her mind to worry about Dayna anymore.  With any luck the Nekaran would get a taste of life without the Chair soon enough.

“Be well, Dayna.”  Marcus greeted his friend as he joined the group.  The woman took her leader’s arm and held it for a long moment, looking into his eyes.  She feared this would be their last moment together.

“Be well.”  She said with reverence.

“Do not worry, I will be fine.  Meet me in front of the arena before the start of the show and I will prove it to you.”  Marcus smiled.

“I pray to the gods that you are there.”  Dayna released his arm and turned without another word.

“Are you sure you want to do this?”  Sam asked.

“I have never been more certain of anything in my life.  Follow me.”  Marcus was eager to atone for years of omission.

The two members of SG-1 followed their guide to the vehicles waiting at the edge of town.  Jenna was already inside examining the mind transfer device that had been installed in the back of one of the transports.

“Do you know how to operate the mechanism?”  The young woman asked as she took her seat in the metal Chair on the right.

“I should, I helped design it.”  Marcus answered as he motioned Sam to the left-hand seat.  The Major took a deep breath and sat in the cold Chair.  She couldn’t pretend she wasn’t scared to death by the notion of allowing someone to move her conscious mind to another body.  Teal'c stood next to his friend as Marcus applied thick straps to her ankles, wrists and chest.

“I don’t think you’ll have to worry about my body wondering off.”  Sam quipped, her panic rising as she realized she could no longer run away.

“It is essential that the bodies be totally immobile while the transfer is taking place.”  The older man added as he restrained Jenna as well.

“Do not worry, Sam.  The process is not painful.”  The young woman tried to reassure her new friend.

Carter nodded, then closed her eyes as Marcus strapped her forehead to the back of the Chair.  Soon she could feel the energy building inside her mind as the transfer process began.

***

Orson led O’Neill and Jackson to the familiar shower room in silence.  These Tau’ri were so difficult to understand.  He watched them smile and joke amongst themselves and he wondered how they could be so lighthearted.  They were hours away from participating in Solomon’s newest presentation and that could only mean that they would suffer mental and physical tortures.  He knew that from experience, but he assumed they must not realize their destination.  ‘Maybe that is for the best.’  He thought.  He was growing fond of them.  It would be a shame when the continuing ordeal finally broke their spirits.

After a refreshing shower, Daniel helped his friend change clothes.  This time is was a skin tight gold lamee suit with navy piping down the arms and sides.

“Viva Las Vegas.”  Jack said as he smirked at Daniel’s ridiculous outfit.

“Ah…Ditto.”  The archeologist answered dryly.

Jack frowned and looked down at his elaborate costume.  Solomon must be planing one hell of a show.

***

Sam felt her mind pulling away from her body.  She was floating in space.  The sensation reminded her of what it was like to travel through a wormhole.  Her essence was being drawn from its’ home to a new host, and she felt compelled to follow it.

From the outside Teal'c wasn’t sure what was happening.  The machine surged with power, but both figures were still.  Suddenly Major Carter’s face was blank and her body sagged.  The Jaffa assumed the transfer must be complete.

Sam’s mind settled inside its’ new boundaries.  The sensations were incredible.  She was actually sharing the body of another person.  All the automatic responses were still being maintained by Jenna’s brain, but voluntary movements and gestures were hers to command.

The Major couldn’t help but wonder if this was what it was like to be a Goa’uld.

She saw the thoughts of her host.  All the years of servitude, both physical and mental were there.  Carter was horrified by the level of violation that the young woman had been forced to live with her entire life.  But there was also a new joy and hope thanks to her encounters with Colonel O’Neill.   Sam swore she would do everything she could to make sure Jenna had a chance at a new life after all this was over.

“MajorCarter.  Are you well?”  Teal'c asked, disturbed by the sight of her seemingly lifeless body.

“I am.”  Sam answered in Jenna’s voice as she opened her host’s eyes.

“The transfer was a success.”  Marcus added as he removed the straps from the young woman’s body, allowing her to stand.  Carter was wobbly on her feet at first.  It was a lot like piloting a plane.  The Air Force Major just had to familiarize herself with a whole new set of controls.  Soon she was walking with the confidence of a pro.

“This is incredible.  I can’t really describe all the sensations.  It’s not like the Chair where I felt like I had fused with Colonel O’Neill’s consciousness.  Our minds are separate and whole inside Jenna’s body.  It’s only a question of whose mental energy is in control of the host.  Amazing.  I wish I had time to study the scientific implications.”  She was brimming with enthusiasm as she turned to face her friends.

Then she saw it.

Her own body strapped to a chair, pale and motionless.  It was like seeing her corpse.

Jenna/Carter’s knees buckled.  Luckily Teal'c moved quickly to prevent her from falling to the ground.

Sam took deep breaths until she was able to stand again on her own.  “I guess I wasn’t ready for that.”  She felt a chill run down Jenna’s spine.  Her mind flushed with guilt at her misguided enthusiasm.  Some things should not be measured by science.  The real heart of the evil of Lacitta was the notion that men like Solomon and Marcus felt they could play God.

The Major stared at herself and wondered if there was anything left inside her own mind.

“Do not worry about your body, Sam.  The life support systems of your brain have not been affected.  It can be maintained indefinitely.  When we put you back inside it will be like you never left.”

Sam nodded her thanks.  The process was unimaginable, but she felt like she could trust Marcus with her life, and her soul.

“If you are ready, Major, we should be going.”  The Jaffa said gently as he helped his friend to her feet.

“Right.”  Sam pulled herself back to Major Carter mode.  “Jenna knows how to drive the transport so I’ll take the helm in the other vehicle, Teal'c, you come with me.  Marcus, you can lead the way here. According to my host our men are being held in a room inside the arena complex.”

Marcus flew the lead vehicle ahead of them with ease as Sam allowed Jenna to take control of their transport.  She watched calmly as the Nekaran set their course and piloted the craft.

“MajorCarter, we do not know the location of Garan.  Do you have a plan to rescue him as well?”  Teal'c said as he watched the young woman’s fingers glide over the touch pad in front of her.

“No I don’t.  But I think our first priority has to be the Colonel and Daniel.  After we free them, we can retreat into the brush and consider our options.”  Sam answered, not sure how she could even speak while Jenna was at the controls.

“Very well.”  The Jaffa turned his attention to the laser weapon Marcus had provided for him.  It looked very similar to a small staff weapon.  Hopefully it was as deadly, for he had no intention of allowing anything to happen to his friends.

Both vehicles entered the compound without difficulty.  Marcus remembered the Chief’s instructions to his guards not to prevent Carter and Teal'c from entering the city, but instead to set up additional guards around the prisoners to lure them into a trap. He knew he would not be able to accompany his new friends into the building.  Anyone who saw him inside the compound would report his presence to Solomon.

After they had parked in an unassuming lot in an adjoining complex about two hundred yards from the large structure, Sam/Jenna and Teal'c joined Marcus in the main compartment of the second vehicle.  Carter couldn’t help but stare at the blank face of her own body.  It was unnerving.  “You’d better stay here with the power thrusters fully charged.  Make sure you’re ready to move out as quickly as possible.  I’d like to say this is going to be easy, but it doesn’t usually work out that way.  Since this vehicle contains the transfer device it will be our primary means of escape in case anything goes wrong.”

Marcus nodded as the Major spoke.  “I will make sure it is powered up at all times.  Be careful my friends.”

“You, too.”  Sam/Jenna took the leader’s hand and smiled.  Then she and Teal'c turned to leave.  Carter looked at her motionless form one more time, silently willing her plan to succeed.

The Major allowed Jenna to take over once more.  She and Teal'c walked with confidence into the long hallway that led to the holding area housing O’Neill and Jackson.  After stopping to gather her supplies in an adjoining room, Jenna handed the black box to Teal'c who would act as her assistant/bodyguard for all the world to see.  Finally they were standing in front of the treatment room.

“I am here to prepare the men for today’s presentation.”  Jenna said in the same sheepish voice that she used everyday when addressing Solomon’s security force.  The guards admired the young woman’s tight mini-dress and stood aside allowing her to enter without a word.

***

Jack sighed.  “You know I’m getting so sick of this whole routine.”

Daniel nodded.  He was getting tired of the constant manacles himself.  “The Nekarans seem to have made prisoner transfer into an art form.”

“Ya think?”  He struggled again, but it was just as useless as before, this time with the added bonus of a burning agony shooting through his hand.  “Ah, damn it!”  He exclaimed unconsciously as he closed his eyes at the pain.

“That hand’s getting worse.  It looks infected.”  Jackson could see how swollen his friend’s mangled fingers had become and knew he was in danger of losing them.  Hopefully someone would be coming soon for their daily checkup.

Right on cue the door opened and Jenna entered.  Jack and Daniel both smiled at the lovely young woman.    But their grins turned to delight as they saw Teal'c enter behind her.

“Teal'c!”  Jack could barely wait until his friend had closed the door.  “What the hell are you doing here?”

“I have come to rescue you, of course.”  He answered with a faint smile.

“Great!  Where’s Sam?”  Daniel asked, his eyes glassy with tears of joy.

“What’s the matter, Daniel?  Don’t you recognize me?”  Sam asked playfully in Jenna’s voice.  The Major was so happy to see them she could burst.  Just a few days ago she thought her friends would be lost forever.

“Carter?  ‘You in there?”  Jack was confused.

“Sure am, Sir.  A friend from the compound outside the city has created the technology necessary to transfer the conscious mind from one body to another.”  Major Carter explained.

“Ha!  I knew I heard your voice yesterday.”  Jack exclaimed, not concerned at all about how it worked, only that she was standing in front of him right now.

“Yes you did.”  Sam’s voice smiled and she slipped into encyclopedia mode.  “We reversed the mind link and were able to send our own thoughts rather than retrieve yours.  It actually involved a simple cross retrieval…”

“Carter, I’m so glad you’re here that your double talk doesn’t even bother me.”  He turned to Daniel grinning like a fool.  “See, Danny, I wasn’t going bonkers!”

Daniel was grinning too.  “At least not this time anyway.”  He looked back to Jenna/Sam in awe.  “Amazing… a portable model.  And where is your body?”  The scientist in Daniel was coming to life again.

“Marcus, the leader of a small community outside of Lacitta stayed with it in a transport vehicle down the street.”

“A real ‘body’ guard, eh.” Jack frowned apologetically at his own joke.  “So what’s the plan?”  He asked quickly.

Sam/Jenna hurried to her commanding officer’s side and examined the manacles holding him in the chair.  “We came to get you out of here, sir.”

“Great.”  Jack thought about their situation.  Hell without the thing-a-majig to open their manacles they couldn’t even get out of these chairs.  But SG-1 was together again.  And that definitely improved the odds.

“I’ve never seen metal like this before.  It looks like it’s molded to your skin.”  Sam pressed and prodded, but she couldn’t find any give.  Damn.  “And I don’t think we’ll be able to use our laser weapons to cut them without hurting you.”  She was getting frustrated.

“We’ve seen a device that removes these things, I don’t think anything else will work.”  Daniel said, trying to pull his own wrists free, but it was as useless as before.

“Besides, the place is crawling with guards.  So unless you brought a first rate locksmith and a hundred or so troops back with you, Daniel and I aren’t going anywhere right now.”  Jack concluded finally.

“But there has to be some other way to get them off.”  Sam moved to Daniel’s chair and pulled at his wrists, looking desperately for another option.  She had assumed that they would all be able to leave together, it was hard to admit that it might not be possible.

“Easy Carter, sometimes you need to back up and go to Plan B.”  Jack said, sensing his second in command’s rising anxiety.

Jack’s firm voice pulled Sam back to reality.  She finally nodded in frustration.  The alien metal had made it impossible for her to free her friends for the moment.  They did need another plan.

“What are your orders, Colonel?”  Carter asked, unsure what to do next.

Jack reveled in his subordinate’s request.  He had wondered if he would ever hear those words again.  “Well, since we’re stuck here for the time being, I guess you’ll have do what Jenna was sent here to do.  Get us ready for the big show.”

Carter nodded, looking at her commanding officer’s condition for the first time.  She could see the pain etched in his face.  Clearly he had not been having an easy time in captivity.  “How are you feeling, Colonel?”  She asked.

Jack could hear his friend’s concern in her voice, even if her face was neutral.  He laughed to ease the tension.  “Don’t worry about me, Carter.  I’ll be just great when we get outta here.”

The Major couldn’t help but lighten her mood at the Colonel’s confidence.

O’Neill was already weighing their next move.  “Even if Daniel and I can’t go anywhere, you should be able to get to Garan.”  He said to no one in particular.

Sam examined the various containers in her case and selected the one Jenna’s mind told her to use.  “He’s here?”  She asked as she began applying a flesh colored crème to the Colonel’s bruised face.

“He’s still at the crash site, digging for more Goa’uld treasures.”  Daniel’s eye’s flashed with anger at the thought.

“Crash site?  A Goa’uld ship crashed on Nekara?”  Sam asked, surprised.  She hadn’t seen any evidence of the Goa’uld in Sarafeen.

“A pyramid ship.”  Daniel frowned.

“Complete with a sarcophagus.”  Jack added.

“Damn.”  Sam cursed their rotten luck.

“That’s what I said.”  Jack answered, wincing as she touched his black eye.

“This big show today should have most of the city humming.  It will be a great time to grab the kid and get him back to earth.  OW!  Careful with that, Carter!”

“Sorry, Sir.”  Sam pulled back from O’Neill’s bruised eye and concentrated on his split lip.  “We can’t just leave you here, Colonel.”  She had worked too hard to find them.

“Don’t worry about us, we’re not going anywhere.  Besides, Danny and I are the top attractions in this berg.  We’re the toast of Nekara.”  Jack smirked.

Daniel frowned at the thought of being the most popular animals at the zoo.  “We should be fine.  Solomon knows we’re worth more alive than dead, and profit seems to be his primary motivation.”

Sam hesitated, but she was trained to follow orders.  “Alright, sir.  We’ll need some directions to the crash site.  Marcus has already supplied us with weapons and a transport vehicle to make our escape.”

Jack was impressed.  “Well done, Major.”

“I’ve been out to the site a few times, it’s about 30 miles outside the city to the northeast.  If you use the northern exit gate it should be pretty easy to find.”  Daniel explained while Teal'c and Sam listened carefully, committing his directions to memory and repeating them back to him.

Satisfied that they would be able to locate Garan, Carter stood back to admire her work.  She thought Colonel O’Neill looked much better.  The crème had covered most of the cuts on his face, and he didn’t look so pale.  Then she saw his mangled hand.

“Broken fingers, sir?”  She asked.

Jack frowned, but didn’t answer.

Carter lightly touched it, feeling the Colonel flinch.

“More like a broken hand.”  Daniel offered when O’Neill did not speak.

“Oh.  You must be in a lot of pain.”  As Sam looked at the mangled hand, she let her host’s mind take control.   “Jenna says there is a glove shaped splint that they use to protect broken hand bones.”  She explained.

“Another splint…” The Colonel growled.  “Carter, I didn’t want to hear that.”

“Sorry, sir, but it’s the only way to immobilize your hand until Janet can examine it.”

“I know.  Stop apologizing and do it.”  Jack hated broken bones.  Worse than that he hated having broken bones set.

Sam nodded and unwrapped it as quickly as she could.   She gasped at the Colonel’s twisted fingers.  “How did this happen?”  She asked, feeling her stomach protest at the gruesome injury.

“Let’s just say a really big clown used my hand to clean the bottom of his boot.”  Jack winced.

Major Carter could feel the anger rising.  They needed to get off this planet.

But first, she had to do something to ease her CO’s suffering.  His fingers would never fit into the skin-tight glove unless they were straightened.  She didn’t think she could do it herself.  Carter looked back at Teal'c who was waiting patiently by the door.

“What’s the hold up, Major?”  Jack was getting testy.  He just wanted her to get it over with as quickly as possible.

“Just a minute, sir.  Teal'c, I could use your help.”

“Of course, MajorCarter.  What do you require?”

Sam moved to the Jaffa’s side and whispered to him.  “We have to straighten the Colonel’s fingers before I can put the glove on his hand.  Could you take care of that for me?”

Without warning, Teal'c grabbed the Colonel’s hand and pulled his twisted fingers straight.

“Oh God…” Jack groaned as his eyes rolled up in his head.

Major Carter was relieved to see her commanding officer slip into unconsciousness.  He looked like he had suffered enough pain since his disappearance.

“Thanks, Teal'c.”

The Jaffa nodded as he moved back to his position by the door.  Sam finished straightening O’Neill’s hand while his head sagged to his chest.  The glove had a hard, flat bottom that should support the Colonel’s injury as well as could be expected.

After she was finished, Sam used a small vial of smelling salts to bring her CO back to consciousness.

“Ahhhh, is that it?”  Jack saw the black glove on his hand.  Somehow it wasn’t so painful anymore.

“That glove has anesthetic properties, but Janet will have to do a lot of work to reset the broken bones.” The Major said as she finished.

“I know.  But thanks.”  He smiled warmly at his second in command.

“So Teal'c, tell me about this civilization outside the city.”  Daniel asked, relieved that Sam had finished the painful treatment.

“Many citizens of Sarafeen are from the city, they have contempt for Solomon and his leadership, so they have created a village for themselves.”

“But they use the consciousness transfer technology?”  The archeologist asked.

“Many do.  That is how Major Carter contacted Colonel O’Neill.”  Teal'c continued.

“They have a small group of computers that allow them to hack into the memory transmissions inside the city.”  Sam said.

“Great, so they’ve been enjoying my little show, too.”  Jack’s voice was pinched with pain.

Sam nodded, feeling guilty for using it herself.   “Marcus is the de facto leader.  I think he could help restructure the entire civilization if we neutralize Solomon.”  Sam continued as she packed the medical objects back in Jenna’s bag.

“Oh, we’ll do more than neutralize him, I promise you that.”  Jack added, his face darkening.

Sam nodded, knowing her CO’s determination when he made up his mind.  “Marcus will be at the arena today.  Solomon came all the way to Sarafeen to invite him in person.”

“That doesn’t sound good.  They’re friends?”  Daniel asked.

“They were partners before Solomon started kidnapping people for the Chair.  Then Marcus and his followers moved out into the countryside.  It seems like Solomon still values his opinion, but Marcus knows what kind of man he really is.”  Sam said.

“Good.  We can use all the allies we can get.”  Jack smiled as the Major stepped away.  “Thanks again, Major, Jenna, both of you.”  The Colonel couldn’t help but be confused by the strange turn of events.

Sam nodded and moved to Daniel with her black bag.

“How are you doing?”  She asked, not seeing any injuries.

“They’ve been too busy beating up Jack to do anything to me.  I’m fine.”

Suddenly the door opened.  Teal'c tensed, the Colonel’s eyes ordering him to stand ready.  Maybe their cover would hold.

“Orson, long time no see.”  The Colonel spoke quickly to hold his attention.

“You were to wait for me outside.”  The Nekaran spoke to Sam/Jenna.

The young woman bowed her head and stepped away from Daniel.  “I am sorry.”  She whispered, doing her best to sound like a servant.

Orson turned to see Teal'c for the first time and Jack knew from the look in his eyes that their ruse had failed.

“Who are you?”  Orson asked, backing toward the door.

Teal'c looked to O’Neill.

Jack frowned.  “He’s with us. Orson meet Teal'c.”

The small man did not move.  “Is he here to rescue you?”  There was fear in his voice.

“That was the plan.  But these bracelets kinda forced us to put it on hold.”  Jack tried to move his good wrist for effect, but it wouldn’t budge.

“Unless you release us.”  Daniel added, seeing a hesitation in the man’s eyes.

Orson was torn.  He had been developing a concern for O’Neill and Jackson since the first time he met them.  Most acquisitions were far more primitive so it was easy to pretend he wasn’t making other sentient beings into slaves.  But these men were just like him, and that didn’t go down easy.  However, such feelings were new to him and he was only willing do so much.

“I cannot.  You are the property of Nekara now.”  He said with a deep sadness.

“This is one screwed up planet you’ve got here, Orson.  But you do what you want, we’ll get out of here with or without your help.”  The Colonel was tired of begging people to do the right thing.  Let Orson try to live with himself after his little society was in ashes.

“But we’d like to do it WITH your help.”  Sometimes Daniel wanted to strangle Jack O’Neill.  He had to be the most undiplomatic person he had ever met.  They needed Orson’s cooperation to prevent Sam and Teal'c from being discovered.  But did Jack give that one-second’s thought?  Of course not.  The linguist shot O’Neill a withering glance in hopes of silencing him.

But the Colonel wasn’t paying any attention to his friend.  He had already written off the little man, and his focus had turned to Carter and Teal'c’s exit strategy.  He wondered how many guards were outside.  They may have to use Orson as a hostage to fight their way out.  Damn it.  Nothing was ever easy.

The Nekaran’s resolve was weakening.  There must be a way to help the Tau’ri without getting caught between them and his government.  “I must admit that your presence here has opened my eyes to the troubling core of our society.  Even though I cannot help you escape, I will not report your friend.”  Orson smiled at Jackson.  He secretly hoped they succeeded.

“Thank you.”  Daniel said as the man turned to leave.

“I will not return for several hours.  What you do with that time is your own concern.”

“There may be hope for you after all.”  Jack said, sending Orson out of the room with a warm glance.

“Do you think we can trust him, sir?”  Sam asked as the door closed.

“Yeah, I do.”  Jack was glad to see the man finally give some thought to what he was doing to the prisoners of Nekara.

“It looks like you’ve made a new friend.”  Carter sighed with relief as she moved back to Daniel and reopened the crème jar.

“I guess we have.”  The linguist answered, surprised by their good fortune.

“A little makeup and you’ll be finished.”  The Major added some crème to his pale face.

“Thanks, Sam.  How are you doing?”  He asked.

“Now I’m great.  I thought I’d lost you.”  Daniel heard the unspoken ‘again’.  He smiled warmly.

“Thanks for finding us.”  He whispered.

Sam/Jenna looked down awkwardly.  She was so grateful that they had located their friends that she was afraid she might cry in front of them.  When she had regained her composure she stepped back to regard both men.  “That’s it for the makeup.  You both look ready for the main event.”

“Well done, now you’ll have to get out of here.”  Jack said.

“Yes sir.  We’ll find Garan and get him back to earth.”

“Be careful.  Solomon is a dangerous man.”  Daniel said, concerned.  Sam moved to her friend and hugged his shoulders.

“You too.” She embraced him for a long moment.  Daniel wished he could return the affection.

“See you soon.”  She said as she stood.

She met eyes with Jack and they looked at each other for a long moment.  O’Neill saw Sam, not Jenna standing before him.

She leaned forward and embraced him.

“A hug, Major?”  Jack smirked, savoring the contact.

“You look like you could use one.”  She whispered.

“You’re right.”  He whispered in return.

“Besides, it’s not against regulations, Sir.”  She answered in Jenna’s voice.

“I don’t know, Carter.  In that body, wearing those clothes.  It just might be.”  He answered.

Sam laughed.

“I don’t think anyone will report us.”

They held the embrace in silence.  Daniel and Teal'c looked away to give their friends some privacy.

“There’s something I want to tell you, sir.”  Sam started, her stomach tight as a drum.

“Shoot.”

“About what happened at your house…” She tried to continue, but it was more difficult than she thought it would be.  She and Colonel O’Neill never discussed personal issues, and certainly this was not the perfect time to start.  But she was afraid that she might not get another chance.

“Don’t worry about it.  We were all having a bad day.”  Jack said gently.  That was as much tenderness as the Colonel could share.

“Yes sir.  I ‘will’ be back for you.” She whispered, choked with emotion.

O’Neill closed his eyes, visualizing his second in command embracing his tired shoulders.  It felt so good to be held.

“Be in the control room above the arena floor at the end of the show and we’ll bring the house down.”  Jack said, a plan starting to take shape in his mind.  He explained the bits and pieces to her.

“You can count on me, sir.”  Sam said with new enthusiasm.

“I know.”  Jack smiled warmly.

Finally she broke loose and turned away, not looking back.  Teal'c nodded to both men and followed her out.

Jack and Daniel were suddenly alone again.  Each man sat silently, overwhelmed by their changing fortunes.  Jackson couldn’t remember the last time he had felt so relieved.  He had never lost hope that their friends would find them someday.  But Sam and Teal'c had moved so quickly that he was stunned to see them. Even though they were still trapped, the SGC knew where they were and that made all the difference.

O’Neill was proud of his subordinates.  Carter and Teal'c had really come through for them.  The rest was just mop-up work now.  Thinking ahead to the arena, the most important thing was to stall long enough for his friends to free Garan and get back.  Then it would be time to take matters into their own hands.  Solomon had called the tune long enough.

***

Sam/Jenna and Teal'c walked easily past all the guards and back down the street to the transport where Marcus was waiting with Sam’s body.   The Nekaran was relieved to see his new friends, but his heart sank when the remaining two members of SG-1 were not among them.

“Where are Jackson and O’Neill?”  He asked, afraid their plan had failed.

“They were restrained by unbreakable manacles that prevented their escape.  But we will be going back for them as part of the Colonel’s escape plan.  Right now I have orders to travel outside the city to find another prisoner.”  Sam/Jenna said as she sat in the chair next to her silent body.

Teal'c quickly strapped her in as Marcus manipulated the transfer device.

Sam felt her mind moving out of its host, compelled to return to her own body.  Soon both women were alone again.  Carter opened her eyes slowly as her mind regained complete control of her body.  She had grown accustomed to sharing her consciousness with another so the transition left her with a vague sense of loneliness.

As Teal'c released her from the device, Marcus did the same for Jenna.  When both women were standing on their own, the Nekaran asked them their names and they answered without hesitation.  The transfer had been a success.

The Major explained O’Neill’s plans, then told Jenna and Marcus about Garan.

Carter turned to the young woman.  “Jenna, I’m going to have to ask you to continue your daily routine until we come for you.  Otherwise they’ll know something’s wrong.  Can you do that?”

Jenna hesitated.  But she had shared her mind with the woman and knew that she would do everything in her power to keep her promise.

“I can.”  She smiled to each of her new friends in turn.  “Be well and I will see you soon.”

Carter and she embraced warmly, then the young woman left.

Sam turned to Marcus.  “We have to get to that crash site.  And you can’t be late for the show.  I’m sure Solomon will be looking for you.”  She opened the main compartment by pressing a code sequence on the door.

“Good luck.  I wish I could go with you.”  Marcus smiled sadly.

“Me too, but you’d be missed, and we can’t afford to be discovered.  Thank you for your help.”

“I should be thanking you.”  Marcus answered.  The visitors had given him an opportunity to make up for some of the hardship he’d caused the people of Nekara.

***

“I’m sorry I doubted you.”  Daniel said, breaking the long silence.

Jack laughed.  “Excuse me?”

“I’m sorry I didn’t believe you when you said you heard Sam’s voice.”

“An apology, now that’s a first. But it’s gladly accepted.”

Daniel smiled shyly.

“Hell, I barely believed me.”

“But I made everything more difficult.  Arguing with you.”  Jackson continued.

“Danny-I said apology accepted.  Enough already.”  O’Neill hated awkward emotional scenes.  He never knew what to say.

“Sorry.”  Daniel closed his mouth as Jack’s eyes widened.

“Everything is looking up.  I can feel it.  All we have to do is hold on-and stop apologizing.” Jack knew their luck was turning.  The ordeal wasn’t over by a long shot, but now he was certain that they’d all make it out of this alive.

“I hope you’re right.”  Daniel could never share his friend’s optimism.  It hurt too much to be wrong.

“I thought you weren’t going to doubt me anymore.”  Jack said.

“No, I said I shouldn’t have doubted you this one time.”  Jackson corrected with a smile.

“Close enough.  When we go in there today learn Solomon’s routine.  Watch the guards.  How many are there?  Where they go during the performance?  Gather any details that might be useful to us in the future.  We may need a contingency plan if today’s operation isn’t successful.”

“Alright.”  Daniel was glad to have something to focus on other than their current situation.

“I’ll be doing the same.  If it’s anything like last time we won’t have much time to think, but do the best you can.”   Jack was in his glory, revising strategies, making contingency plans.  Being an Air Force Colonel wasn’t all fun and games.  Sometimes he had to earn his government salary.  And it was going to take one hell of a well-coordinated maneuver to get them all out of Lacitta in one piece.

***

As Marcus walked toward the center of the city, he was stunned by the number of people waiting to get inside the arena.  He scanned the huge crowd looking for Dayna.  Finally he found the young woman waiting for him by a secondary entrance.  She ran to his side, relieved to see her friend alive and well.

“Thank the gods!  I was afraid we had spoken for the last time.”  She embraced him.

“So was I.  But I am here now and it’s time to go inside.”  Marcus took his friend’s arm and they went through the special VIP entrance.

“Marcus!  I’m so glad you’ve come.”  Solomon greeted his old friend with an embrace.  Even though they no longer worked together, he yearned for his former partner’s approval.

“It is good to see you as always.”  Marcus returned his affection.  He too enjoyed spending time with the man.  They loved each other like brothers, even if they could no longer stand to be together for more than a few hours at a time.

“Of course you remember my companion, Dayna.”  Marcus presented his friend.

“Dayna, it is so nice to see you again.  You are as lovely as ever.”  Solomon took the young woman’s hand and held it gently for a moment.  She was always overwhelmed by his larger than life charisma. “Thank you sir.  I am so honored to be here to witness your newest triumph.”

The Chief cut a glorious figure in his golden robes.  He looked like Zeus himself.  “Thank you, Dayna.”  He spoke to them both with pride.  “Wait until you see what I have planned for today’s show.  It will change everything.”

“I am always interested in your new presentations.  If only you would chose volunteers instead of acquiring slaves.”  Marcus added with a hint of sadness.  He missed the thrill of discovery he had shared with the chief of Lacitta.  But he could no longer endure the suffering of all the innocent victims.

Dayna blanched at the notion that her leader would challenge the Chief of ZenCorp.

Solomon smiled at the same old argument.  “My dear friend, If only you could see that Nekara is using the same natural laws that govern the rest of the universe.  The weak always bend to the strong.  We shall leave it at that.”  He turned to the crowd and smiled, forgetting about their conflict.  “I have reserved your special seats again, my brother.  I expected you to bring more citizens with you.”

“They were detained by business in Sarafeen.  They should arrive before the presentation begins.”  Marcus certainly hoped Carter and the others could make it back before it was too late to stop the performance.

***

O’Neill and Jackson were shoved through double doors into the arena.

The air was electric with excitement as strobe lights blanketed the floor with a rainbow of colors and music echoed through the cavernous chamber.  Daniel’s heart raced as he listened to the screaming crowd.  He needed to turn and run as far away as he could before it was too late.

The young man froze in his tracks at the site of a large rectangular box covered with a bright blue silk cloth.

Oh my God, the sarcophagus!

Jack bumped into the archeologist.  “Hey!  Give a guy some warning before you do that!”  He yelled over the roaring crowd.  He sensed his friend’s panic and moved in front of him, meeting his wild eyes with a strong glare to steady him.  “Easy there, Danny!  Remember what we talked about!  Be ready to move!”

“Look over there!”  Daniel yelled back, motioning to the covered box while he worked to control his emotions.

“Shit!”  Well there it was.  The sarcophagus.  “We knew that was coming!  Don’t lose your head over it!”  Jack had hoped the Goa’uld device would not be ready for today’s show.  But he’d been in too many tight spots to really think it could go any other way.

“What now!”  Daniel’s voice shook a lot more than he hoped it would.

“We get through it!  What choice do we have?”  Jack yelled back with his best confident smile.  Daniel nodded, taking deep breaths to restore his courage.  They were survivors.

Solomon met them in the middle of the floor.   “Hello gentlemen!”  He was positively beaming. Marcus and Dayna followed behind, eager to meet the heroes of Abydos.

“Hi yourself!”  Jack yelled with a nasty smile.  He beamed with the image of his own hands around the overblown weasel’s throat.

“I would like you to meet my most treasured friend!  Marcus, these are the heroes of Abydos, Colonel Jack O’Neill and Doctor Daniel Jackson!”  He presented them with a dramatic flourish.

“Charmed!”  Jack bowed, mocking them.

Daniel nodded silently, still preoccupied with the covered box.

“I am honored to meet such brave men! May your struggles today end in victory!”

“Ya gotta hope!”  Jack and Marcus exchanged quick, knowing, glance and the Colonel was satisfied that the man was on their side.  “Who’s your friend?”  Jack yelled as he watched Dayna waiting at a respectful distance.

“This is Dayna!  She has been a citizen of Sarafeen for many years!”

Jack nodded.  “Another fan.  I’m touched.”  His greeting dripped with sarcasm.

Dayna hesitated as she and O’Neill made eye contact.  Her heart raced.  She had shared so many adventures with this man that she felt like she already knew him.  But to see the Colonel first hand was different than she had expected it to be.  Dayna saw the ravages of days of emotional torture in his eyes.  An incredible vulnerability was set in the wrinkles of his worn face.   Colonel Jack O’Neill was no longer a disembodied voice sharing adventures with her inside her mind.  He was a living, breathing, man who had suffered great pain since his capture.  It occurred to her that she had been a party to some of that abuse and for the first time she was ashamed.

“Nothing to say?  Aren’t you going to wish us luck or something like that?”  Jack wondered what the woman was thinking as she looked so deeply into his eyes.  He thought he saw regret.  An odd emotion in this city of parasites.

“Ah…I am sorry…” Was all she could say.

Marcus laughed self-consciously.  “She’s never meet such impressive heroes before!”  He was surprised by his friend’s hesitation.  She was usually so outspoken.

 “Of course!  Many citizens are in awe of their tremendous feats!  It is to be expected!”  Solomon smiled a condescending smile at Dayna.

The woman didn’t know what to do.  All the talk of survival of the fittest didn’t seem to apply.  Both men looked exactly like the residents of Sarafeen, smart, resilient, capable of great things.  Why should they be forced to participate in such cruel tortures for the purposes of entertainment?  She had never asked herself that question before.  She should have helped Carter.

Solomon draped his arm around his friend’s shoulder.  “Your seats are ready!  I will come to visit with you again after the presentation has concluded!”

Marcus nodded.  “I look forward to discussing the day’s events with you!  Good luck O’Neill, Jackson!”  He left without meeting their eyes.  Dayna looked back one last time at the handsome colonel, making a decision that could change her future.

Solomon turned to his prisoners.  “Doctor Jackson, come with me!  Colonel O’Neill, you will follow Orson!”

Daniel looked at Jack with fear in his eyes.  O’Neill winked and smiled, trying to reassure his friend as they were separated.  “Piece of cake.”  He quipped as he was dragged to the center of the arena.

A metal ring on the floor anchored Jack’s manacles in front of him once again.  He looked defiantly into the crowd as he began to feel them invading his mind.  There were at least a hundred thousand people waiting for him to put on a good show.  He hoped he’d have the chance to give them all what they had coming.

Solomon led Daniel to his balcony control tower.

“Don’t do this.  There must be something I can say to make you stop the presentation.”  Jackson pleaded.

“Come now, Doctor.  You don’t seriously think I could hurt the Colonel.  If you have completed your task well he will be fine.”

Before Daniel could respond, the microphone in front of Solomon came to life.  “Citizens of Nekara, Welcome to the largest arena show ever.  Inside these walls we will cross the boundary between life and death.”

Jack felt a chill go down his spine as the crowd roared.  There was no turning back now.

“Prepare for the ultimate consciousness sharing experience.”  Solomon was the quintessential showman.

Daniel watched helplessly as the transparent cell lowered around his friend.

“Would you like to share in the link?”  Solomon asked, knowing the linguist’s answer.

Jackson shook his head.  He felt a rumbling building inside the Box.
 
 
 
 
 

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