Connections Part Three
By Tammy K
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.
Daniel never knew how draining it was to just sit quietly. As the hours pass, his eyes were getting heavy, and his stiff legs ached from lack of moment. The young man was relieved when his friend began to stir.
“I see we’re still here.” Jack mumbled.
“I’m afraid so. How do you feel?”
“I’ll live. Any trouble?”
“No. No one else stopped by.” Daniel checked the Colonel’s head. No fever, that was a good sign.
“I’m OK. Just a little sore. I can still take a beating.” Jack reassured his friend.
As he stretched his stiff back, O’Neill looked around at their neighbors. On the left the two haggard men were deep in an uneasy sleep, and on the right two more stared blankly ahead. They didn’t seem to know where they were. Luckily neither group showed any interest in them. The Colonel hoped it stayed that way.
“Why don’t you get some rest.” Jack told his friend.
Daniel nodded absently. He had been studying the room, no ornamental markings, no writings, totally utilitarian. People living like animals, no luxuries or conveniences. “Look at everyone. No personal items, no pictures, nothing. Imagine.” Daniel said, the fear of spending the rest of his life trapped on another planet settling in his stomach.
“When you stayed on Abydos you left it all behind.”
“I guess I did, but I had Sha’re and her family. I was joining their lives.” The linguist smiled, remembering the feelings of joy and belonging. It had been perfect.
“But now I can see how difficult it must have been for you on Edora.” Daniel said, seeing for the first time what it must have felt like for Jack to be lost so far away from home.
Jack nodded. “It was tough at first. But I guess I joined their lives too.” O’Neill looked away, the memories of Edora still a confusing web in his mind. But this was not the time to sort it out. He had more important things to worry about.
He shook off the past, replacing it with optimism for the future. “But don’t set up housekeeping here just yet. We’ll get back.” He smiled to reassure his friend.
The young man nodded. Jack had a way of giving him hope. Closing his eyes, he tried to sleep.
An hour passed and Daniel was awakened by a loud yell.
“What was that?” Jackson asked rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“Looks like somebody’s in big trouble.” O’Neill whispered as he watched a small man being dragged into the center of the room. Cade was waiting for him there.
“This man was not in his stall. He does not heed our warnings.” He said as he grabbed the whimpering man. “Escape is impossible.”
“Damn.” Jack muttered under his breath. This was only going to end one way.
“We have to do something or he’s going to kill that man.” Daniel’s voice cracked with panic. He saw the fear in the prisoner’s face and he knew they had to help him.
“There’s nothing we can do. We’re outnumbered here. I’m afraid he’s on his own.” Jack said harshly. He had been in this situation before and it was no time for sentimentality. Every man was on his own. You had to keep your head down and wait for something to break your way. He knew that would be difficult for the empathetic archeologist to handle, but it was their only hope.
“Wait!” Daniel yelled before Jack could pull him back.
“Shut up!” The colonel put a rough hand on his friend’s shoulder, anchoring him to the spot.
Jackson sagged, giving in to his friend’s orders.
The Giant looked directly at the members of SG-1 as he quickly and efficiently snapped the helpless man’s neck. Then he smiled at O’Neill. The Colonel flashed raging eyes in return. He got the message.
Daniel gasped in horror at the cold-blooded murder. No second chances, no hearings, punishment here was swift and final.
“So I guess we won’t go exploring any time soon.” Jack said grimly as the body was dragged away.
Daniel put his head in his hands. They just sat back and watched that man die. His deep sense of justice couldn’t accept that.
“That man was murdered for nothing.” Daniel whispered, his voice choked with emotion.
“I doubt he was the first. Try to focus on that and keep your head down.” The Colonel took his seat again.
“I don’t know if I can.” The linguist said, looking deep into Jack’s eyes. O’Neill returned his glare with one of his own.
“We have no choice.” He ordered intensely. “We wouldn’t last long against all these goons. You have to learn to pick your battles.”
Daniel bowed his head. He knew Jack was right. But it was so hard to sit by and let these things go on all around him, even in the middle of an alien prison.
“We have company.” He heard the Colonel whisper.
Jackson looked up quickly, watching Orson and two guards as they walked toward them.
“Orson, long time no see. What can we do for you?” Jack smiled.
Orson stopped when he saw the man’s bruised face. “O’Neill, you are injured!” He seemed genuinely concerned.
“This? Just a little scuffle.”
“We’ll have to get that looked at by Makeup.”
“What?” Prisoners in Makeup! What kind of lame-ass planet was this anyway? Jack wondered.
“You’ll be making your public debut today. We don’t want them to see you like this.”
“Our public debut?” Daniel was frustrated by all the secrecy.
“Come with me, Dr. Jackson.” Orson motioned for Daniel. The archeologist looked to Jack.
“He’s not going anywhere.” The Colonel answered, standing quickly.
“You will both be coming with me. But one at a time, with Dr. Jackson going first. If you resist, you will be restrained. Now stand aside, Colonel.” Orson found himself getting frustrated with a prisoner for the first time. It was an odd sensation.
Jack weighed his options. Which were zero. But he couldn’t just stand by and let them drag his friend away without a fight.
“Colonel. Why do you have to make everything so difficult?”
“I can’t help it. I’m just a difficult kinda guy. You’ve got your answer.” Jack sneered.
Orson nodded to the guards and they grabbed O’Neill by the shoulders, soon his wrists were manacled behind his back again and he was thrown to the floor.
“Damn it. I hate when that happens.” He said, struggling to a seated position.
Daniel did not resist as the guards pushed him out of their stall. He looked back to be sure his friend was ok. It had been a valiant effort, but the people of Nekara had elevated prisoner restraint to an art form. “See you, Jack.”
“Count on it.” Jack said with his flashiest smile. All he could do was watch helplessly as his friend left with Orson. At least they would finally see what was going on here.
Outfitted in full field gear, General Hammond entered the gate room exactly 45 minutes after their meeting.
Major Carter fidgeted as she watched him enter. She always felt like she had to prove herself to him.
“Are you two ready?” He asked with a hint of enthusiasm.
“Yes, sir.” Sam was at attention.
“At ease, Major. Just think of me as Colonel O’Neill.”
Sam relaxed a little. General Hammond nodded his approval. He usually enjoyed letting officers squirm in his presence, a privilege of rank. But this was serious business and he didn’t want Major Carter’s judgement to be impaired by her need to treat him like a General.
“Initiate dialing sequence.” He turned to the control room.
Sergeant Davis nodded and soon the familiar chevrons roared to life.
George could feel the power of the Stargate as the event horizon whooshed toward them and faded back into the glowing ring.
“Damned amazing.” He muttered as he motioned to Carter to lead the way. Teal'c brought up the rear. The General took a deep breath, pulling in Earth’s atmosphere one last time, then let it out and stepped through.
The sensation was indescribable, hurling through the wormhole at incredible speeds, the lights, the cold, all assaulted his senses in the space of a heartbeat.
Stepping down off the ramp, General Hammond breathed deeply on Edora. He surveyed the mountains and the trees. It looked so much like Earth that it was hard to accept that they were standing on an alien world.
“Lead the way, Major.” He commanded finally.
Sam took point, walking towards the main center of civilization.
Her heart swelled with mixed emotions. She hoped to find Daniel and the Colonel on Edora, but she knew that if they were there, they were in very big trouble.
Then there was Laira. Carter was not looking forward to seeing her again. Janet and Daniel were right. She was jealous. Colonel O’Neill did not want to come home. She had heard him say that with her own ears, and it hurt.
Sam knew that if she and the rest of SG-1 had not worked so hard to save him, Jack and Laira would have happily grown old together. That was the hardest part to accept.
Now she had to face this woman again and it was going to take all her self-control to be diplomatic. Maybe that’s why General Hammond was leading this mission himself.
A young boy came running to their side at the center of town. Both Sam and Teal'c recognized him as Laira’s son Garan.
“Greetings Major Carter, Teal'c.” The young boy smiled.
“Greetings Garan. This is General Hammond.” Sam’s manners were formal, hiding her anxiety.
The General extended his hand to the boy, who clenched it enthusiastically.
“I see the Colonel taught you how to shake hands.” George smiled approvingly.
“O’Neill taught me many things. Is he here with you?” Garan looked around for his new friend and surrogate father.
“I’m afraid not, son. That’s what I’d like to speak to your mother about. Could you take us to her?” The General asked.
He pointed down the road. “Our home is there. What can my Mother tell you about O’Neill?”
“The Colonel and Doctor Jackson are missing and we’re looking for any information that might help us locate them.”
Garan adjusted his shoulder pack. “I will come with you to aid in the search.” The boy squared his shoulders, determined to help.
George smiled at the boy’s enthusiasm. “No son. I appreciate your offer, but I’m sure your mother would have something to say about that.”
“OK.” The boy was momentarily crestfallen. “Mother will be glad to help.”
General Hammond patted the young man on the shoulder. “I’m sure she will. The best thing you can do for the Colonel is to stay well. Were you going somewhere?” He asked motioning to the boy’s pack. Garan’s face lightened. “Some friends and I have been exploring the caves.”
“That sounds like fun. You don’t want to keep them waiting.” George said.
“No. I hope you find O’Neill and Daniel. Fair Day.”
“We will, don’t worry. Fair Day, Garan.” The General nodded his thanks as the boy turned to leave. Then he led the remainder of SG-1 toward the modest home. A woman carrying a basket of strange flowers stood in the yard. He assumed it must be Laira.
“Greetings Major, Teal'c.” The woman smiled, looking past them for Jack.
“Greetings, Laira. I am General George Hammond. May I speak to you?”
“Of course, General. What help can I give.”
“Is Colonel O’Neill here?” Sam blurted coldly.
The General’s fierce glare silenced her.
“O’Neill here? He had not returned since he accompanied you back to his home. Is he in need of assistance?”
“That’s what we hope to find out. He and Doctor Jackson disappeared during a routine mission. We thought he may have come here.” The General continued.
“He did not.” Laira was visibly shaken.
“We’re concerned that he has been influenced somehow. Can you think back to his behavior? Was there anything out of the ordinary?”
Laira thought about the time they had spent together. “O’Neill was a good man, he worked to help us rebuild. Then he became a member of our community. He did not seem strange in any way.”
“General, if they did something to influence him, they wouldn’t just admit it.” Sam muttered in frustrated. The General was falling under her spell too.
Hammond spoke quietly, but with all the authority of his rank. “Major, don’t make me regret bringing you along. You are ordered to keep your emotions under control before I have to send you back to the base. Is that clear?”
“Yes sir.” Sam was embarrassed by the rebuke, but her desire to find the Colonel was more powerful than her rational mind.
George turned back to a puzzled Laira. “My apologies. We are just concerned about our men.”
Laira smiled. “Of course. I am worried about them as well.”
“I bet.” Sam muttered.
“Major! You are out of line. One more time and you’re out of here!”
“What is the source of your hostility?” Laira asked.
“You seduced the Colonel into giving up his search for the Stargate. He would have found his own way home weeks earlier if you had just let him alone.” Sam’s emotions flowed from her.
“That’s enough!” General Hammond snapped.
“No Hammond, allow her to speak. I wish to hear her true feelings.”
“The Colonel would have been found a lot sooner if he could have unearthed the Stargate. But he was too busy with you to look for it.” Carter had inadvertently stepped in front of Hammond, she stood toe to toe with the Edoran, her eyes flashing with anger.
“Perhaps. But I cast no spell on Colonel O’Neill. We comforted each other through a difficult time. Nothing more.” Feeling her emotions rising, Laira took a deep breath. She could not allow herself to lose control. Convincing herself that what she and the Colonel had shared was only an affair of convenience helped her make it through the day.
Daniel followed Orson down the paved street to a building located next to the amphitheater. It was a maze of identical cubicles. They stopped at a small room where a young woman waited with new clothing.
Without saying a word, she left him alone for a moment and he changed obediently. His new costume was as tight as the old one, but at least there was more of it. A skintight body suit, it was bright blue with a silver triangle down his left side.
A few minutes later the girl returned with a box of supplies.
“Hi…I’m Daniel, what’s your name?” Daniel asked the small woman. He couldn’t help but notice her beautiful face framed by long blonde hair.
She hesitated. No one ever asked her to speak.
“It’s alright. I’m just looking for someone to talk to.”
“Tera, my name is Tera.” She whispered.
“Nice to meet you Tera. What are you going to do?”
“I will prepare you for the arena.”
“What happens in the arena?”
“Many things.” She answered as she motioned him to sit.
“Could you be more specific?” Daniel asked taking the only chair in the austere room.
“Tera didn’t answer. She began rubbing a skin colored powder on Daniel’s pale face. The linguist noticed that the young woman was missing two fingers on her right hand.
“Your hand…” He started awkwardly.
Tera pulled back self-consciously.
“No! I didn’t mean anything by it. I just wondered what happened to you.” Daniel tried to ease her embarrassment.
“I had an accident.” She whispered.
The linguist nodded, sensing she would not offer more than that.
Tera resumed her work and Daniel sat back, the woman’s fingers relaxing. He couldn’t help but relish the soothing attention. It felt comforting to be touched so gently.
“Please accept my apologies once again.” General Hammond smiled his most charming smile. “Would you permit us to look around your community. There may be something your people would not have recognized as a problem. Then we will take our leave of you.” The General said, disgusted.
“As you wish. Be well.”
Teal'c and Hammond nodded, turning to the small community.
“Just do a cursory sweep of the area, if you see anything suspicious, I want to know about it.”
“Yes General.” They split up and moved from dwelling to dwelling.
Laira watched them go. “Major. O’Neill spent many nights digging for the stone ring. Even after full days of the harvest. He did not stop for many cycles. In fact I was taking his Earth belongings to discard only when your voice appeared on the communication device. He had waited all that time. Hoping to be rescued.”
“And he was.” Sam added defiantly.
“Yes he was. I hope you do so again.”
“I will.” Sam added and turned to join the others without another word.
Secretly it helped her to know that the Colonel had tried to fight longer than she had originally imagined. But they were still no closer to finding out what had happened to either of her friends.
Jack waited tensely for the guards to return. His shoulders aching from the uncomfortable manacles. Within 30 minutes three guards came to get him. Taking no chances with the Colonel, two men grabbed his arms and pulled him to his feet. Then the other man reactivated his leash and used it to drag him out of the building.
Soon he was standing in a room similar to Daniel’s.
“What now?” Jack asked, wishing the Nekaran would say something. It was unnerving to have no communication with them.
One guard attached his leash to a ring on the back of a steal chair, forcing him to sit. Then Orson appeared again with a young woman.
“Colonel, this is Jenna. She will clean your body. Then we will get you changed into your new suit. Please do not resist.” Orson pleaded. “There is nothing you can do to escape. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you will enjoy your new life.”
Jack laughed at the absurdity. “Enjoy this! Where I come from we wouldn’t even treat our dogs like this!”
Orson shook his head. Why did he always get the difficult ones? He left Jenna to her work.
The young woman spread out her supplies on a metal table next to the chair. Then she took a soft towel and wiped the blood from the Colonel’s mouth and chest. She didn’t meet his eyes.
“You can look at me. I won’t bite.” Jack smiled, enjoying the woman’s presence.
She said nothing.
“The quiet type, huh. That’s OK. I’ve been known to say enough for two people. Where are you from?”
She finished cleaning his face. Then she began to apply a skin colored crème to cover his bruises.
“Wouldn’t want my public to see that. Why exactly do I have a public, anyway?”
“You are one of the destroyers of RA. They will come from far away to share in your mind.” Jenna looked into his eyes for the first time. He was handsome for a Lareo.
Jack laughed humorlessly. “Share in my mind. I don’t think any of them really want a piece of my mind right now.” As Jenna leaned over his chest, O’Neill noticed a long scar running the entire length of her face, from her forehead to her chin just in front of her left ear. Her long brown hair didn’t cover all of it.
“Nasty scar. Must have been one hell of a fight.” The Colonel said casually.
“I fell from a vehicle.” The woman answered.
“I’m sorry about that.” Jack smiled for her benefit. “But it’s hardly noticeable, really.”
Jenna went back to her work, not speaking again. She liked O’Neill. It was regrettable that he was marked for the chair.
When she finished, she smiled once quickly and left before the Colonel could say anything. She could not allow herself to care about Lareos. They usually didn’t survive very long.
Orson brought Jack’s new suit and the guards released him long enough to change. O’Neill relished even a minute of free hands. More than the stiff shoulders and lack of circulation what bothered him most about the manacles was how they reinforced his status as a helpless captive. He hated that.
Then it was back to chains. The tight suit hurt his bruised chest but the change of clothes was welcome nonetheless.
Finally O’Neill was led out into the street again. He whistled in amazement at the structure looming in front of him. The huge dome at the end of the walkway was bigger than anything he had ever seen before. It put the Coliseum to shame.
Suddenly his heart rose as he saw Daniel waiting at the entrance.
“Hey that makeup really makes your face shine.” Jack yelled with a smile.
Daniel was relieved to be reunited with his friend. “I see they fixed you up, too.” He answered as they were shoved together and pushed forward.
“Do you have any idea what’s going on here?” O’Neill asked.
“Not really. My makeup girl wasn’t very talkative.” Jackson answered.
“Yours too. I thought it was just me.” Jack continued. “All Jenna told me was that they would share my mind. And I have no idea what that means.”
“I’m afraid we’re soon going to find out. It looks like this structure is the center of their society. All the walkways lead here. It must be a giant meeting hall.”
“Looks more like a giant football stadium.” The Colonel added as he was pushed through the doorway.
The crowd noise inside the huge arena was deafening. Daniel guessed there were over one hundred thousand screaming and cheering people. The seating seemed to reach the sky.
Suddenly a man dressed all in silver strutted to the center of the open floor. Jackson recognized him as Chief Solomon. When the crowd saw their leader they were suddenly silent.
“Wellness all, welcome to my show. The ZenCorp Entertainment Company searches the galaxy for new showcases, today I am proud to present two of my greatest acquisitions:”
The music started to build as the room faded to black. “How dramatic.” O’Neill said to no one in particular as he and Jackson felt themselves being pulled forward. Suddenly a gleaming white ball appeared just below the ceiling. The crowd murmured reverently as it continued to glow.
Both men stared in awe.
Daniel wondered what purpose the hovering sphere served. The local reaction made him think it might be some sort of religious icon.
Jack just thought it looked cool.
Suddenly they were held in place as a bright spotlight blinded them.
“Citizens of Nekara, I give you the heroes of Abydos: Colonel O’Neill and Dr. Jackson.” The cheers were deafening. Both men felt a chill run down their spines.
Daniel reminded himself that they wouldn’t have gone to all that trouble to capture them to just bring them here for an execution. There had to be more involved.
Jack felt his disgust rising. ‘Listen to those clowns, cheering for an old man and a geeky scientist like they were teenagers at a rock concert.’ He thought.
“Before we see them in action, here is an old favorite.” The master of ceremonies paused for effect, as another man was led into the arena.
Colonel O’Neill squinted, trying to make out the newest arrival’s face, but his vision had not yet adjusted to the light. He and Doctor Jackson were forced to a position on the far right side of the arena. Daniel’s wrists were bound behind him and he was anchored aside the Colonel to a chain in the floor. There they stood as helpless spectators while the unknown man was brought to the middle of the arena.
“Krel…” Daniel turned to Jack and yelled. O’Neill squinted, grateful that the spotlight had shifted from them to the new man so he could focus. When he saw the face he knew his friend was right. It was the enthusiastic man who had visited them in their stall.
“What’s going on here?” He yelled. But no one could hear him over the cheering crowd.
Daniel was surprised by the Nekaran’s calm face. It looked like he was going to work on an ordinary day.
Krel smiled when he saw the heroes of Abydos. They stood proud and tall even in the chains of the arena. In his heart he knew they would be the keys to Nekara’s salvation.
Suddenly a large box appeared around the man and his manacles were gone.
Daniel couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw Krel being pulled into the sky by what seemed like a snow-covered mountain. The Box expanded upwards and the ceiling seemed to grow with it.
“What the hell…” Colonel O’Neill had no idea what he was looking at. Was that a mountain? Unbelievable.
“Look at the crowd. They’re mesmerized.” Jackson yelled.
Jack checked out the stands. Everyone was staring straight ahead, faces wracked with emotion. Weird. “What’s wrong with them?” He wondered out loud.
“They seem to be linked to Krel somehow. Maybe it’s a virtual reality program.”
“That’s just great. I really love this place.”
General Hammond was secretly relieved to be heading home. Travelling all over the galaxy was a tough adjustment for a career military man. Unfortunately he and his people would be going back to Earth empty handed. Carter and Teal'c had found nothing. Now all three were walking silently toward the Gate.
The general had bid farewell to Laira with more apologies and a promise of continued diplomatic relations. He was satisfied that the Edorans had no part in whatever had happened to O’Neill and Jackson. The handsome woman and her people were not kidnappers. In fact, seeing the agrarian paradise for himself he understood the Colonel’s affection for the planet. But unfortunately they had no more leads to follow.
As Major Carter walked, she thought about the Colonel and Daniel out there on their own and it was tearing her apart. She remembered her own frustration when she and Colonel O’Neill had been stranded in Antarctica. If Daniel and Teal'c had not found them, they would have died there.
Suddenly all three heard a scream. General Hammond silently ordered the Major and Teal'c to check it out. He drew his weapon and followed cautiously.
Teal'c saw the Nekarans first. He estimated there were at least five soldiers holding strange weapons on a large group of Edorans.
Arik, in the lead, fired a laser blast over the crowd and the simple people shrieked in horror.
Sam motioned to her teammate to stay in position, then returned to her commanding officer’s side.
“Sir, it looks like a small group of soldiers carrying some kind of laser weapons. They’ve gathered a group of Edorans in the clearing in front of the gate.” She whispered to the general behind a large boulder.
“Is there any indication of what they’re planning to do?” Hammond asked.
Carter shook her head. “No sir, I think they’re herding them toward the gate.”
General Hammond frowned. “We have to get those people out of there. Send Teal'c to the left flank, you take the right and I’ll come in from the rear. Maybe we can separate them from their prisoners.”
Sam nodded. She hurried back to Teal’c’s forward position and explained Hammond’s plan to the Jaffa. He agreed and they separated, taking up strategic positions to await their commanding officer’s signal.
Daniel and Jack watched silently as Krel battled to keep his balance on the mountain. All the while the crowd gasped and shouted along with him.
Daniel watched the huge silver sphere, suspended above the arena floor. Throbbing rhythmically as the spectacle continued, it seemed like some kind of power source.
Finally Krel managed to get a foothold and start climbing to the bottom, but just as quickly the mountain shook and he tumbled again. A few moments later, the snow covered peak disappeared and the small man was lying on the empty floor, shivering and covered with snow, but seemingly uninjured.
With that, the crowd seemed to snap back to life. They applauded wildly as the man struggled to his feet. Krel acknowledged his adoring fans and turned to the members of SG-1, smiling as he was lead away. It seemed to Daniel that the man was trying to win their approval. It had certainly worked. He hoped to get a chance to talk to him later.
What amazed Jack the most was Krel’s bland expression. He had just survived a battle with a disappearing mountain and he didn’t really seem to care. Now that took guts.
The Colonel and Daniel were led to the middle of the arena. There the master of ceremonies was waiting for them.
“It is an honor to meet both of you. I am Solomon, the leader of Nekara.”
“Judging from that sweet introduction you’ve already heard of us.” O’Neill said, barely interested in speaking to their kidnapper.
“Everyone knows of the men who killed RA. You will be wondrous additions to the Box.” Solomon smiled wide.
“Not interested, thanks anyway.” Colonel O’Neill quipped, his arms getting stiff from the heavy manacles.
“Please, Chief Solomon, you must realize that we have been brought here against our will.” Daniel tried to reason with him.
Jack frowned. It was a waste of his friend’s breath. They both knew it.
Solomon smiled even wider. “Of course. I arranged it. Prepare to take your places for the presentation. We will speak later.” He turned to the crowd and waved his hands in a grand gesture of welcome.
“Now it is time for our special presentation. I give you the heroes of Abydos!” The crowd was so loud Daniel thought his head would explode.
As they were both anchored to the floor again Jack noticed that the Emcee was backing away from them. The guards had gone as well, leaving the two of them standing alone on the platform.
“Get ready, whatever it is, it’s gonna happen any minute now.” He whispered to Daniel, who nodded, bracing himself.
“Citizens, I give you-The Pit!” The announcer yelled into the crowd as he nodded to unseen technicians.
Suddenly a clear box about ten feet tall and ten feet wide appeared around the platform, trapping them inside. A moment later the chains disappeared and both men’s hands were free. Now able to look into the crowd again, Daniel saw that each member of the audience was wearing a visor over his/her eyes.
The archeologist felt strange, his head throbbing.
“Whoa, what a headache.” Jack whispered, his head throbbing too. It felt like a million little tingly sensations in his brain. He had to work hard to concentrate.
“Listen to me! We are not your enemies! Our cultures could learn much from each other.” Daniel yelled-turning 360 degrees to face everyone in the crowd.
His plea only seemed to cause more cheers.
The crowd started chanting something, but the Colonel couldn’t make it out. He had to admire the kid’s stubbornness. Trying to reason with them right up to the end. He spent his time examining the plastic box. He wouldn’t be able to lift it from the inside because it fit into a track on the floor. It even looked airtight.
Jack suddenly realized what they were chanting and it chilled him to the bone. Before he could warn Daniel to brace himself, the floor opened, revealing a giant hole. Soon the crowd’s chant of “Into the pit!” Was realized as both men hurled into a black void.
General Hammond watched silently as his two soldiers moved into position. Satisfied that they were ready, he walked confidently into the clearing. Arik noticed the man approaching and moved to the front of the group to meet him.
“I am General George Hammond. I ask that you release the citizens of Edora.” The General said as he measured his enemy. They looked like professional soldiers. But what would a group like that want with the locals?
Arik smiled at the audacity of this lone man standing before him. “A General here? You are not native to this world.” The Nekaran was surprised by the presence of an armed soldier in the midst of the provincial natives.
“I am from Earth. Now let them go and we can talk.” Hammond stood firm.
“A Tau’ri? We did not know the Tau’ri had claimed this world as their own.” Arik was not going to give an inch either. “We will release no one. Leave now or perhaps we will take you as well.”
“We are here looking for two missing men, O’Neill and Jackson. Maybe you know what happened to them.” The General had a feeling he already knew the answer. He wondered if the alien would admit it.
“You will not find them here.” Arik smirked.
Sam’s heart skipped a beat. Was the alien soldier saying he knew where Daniel and the Colonel had gone? She wanted to rush out into the open field and force him to tell them what he meant. But she had violated the General’s orders at least twice on this mission, any more and she would be in deep trouble.
“How do you know that?” General Hammond asked as he confirmed that Sam and Teal'c were in place.
“They now serve us. As will you. Put down your weapon and surrender.” Arik had tired of the general. He would make a good addition to the Chair.
“Not likely.” George puffed up his chest in defiance. He could not allow the innocent Edorans to be taken, even if it meant losing a lead on his friends.
Arik fired over the General’s head. Hammond ducked, giving his soldiers the signal to move.
Sam and Teal'c opened fire. Branches and tall weeds whipped against their faces as they moved quickly into the open. Taken by surprise, Arik and his soldiers retreated to a nearby wooded area, dragging one of the Edorans with them. Major Carter gathered up the remaining citizens and herded them into the woods as Teal'c and Hammond continued to fire on the soldiers, forcing them toward the gate.
Daniel screamed as the entire floor disappeared beneath him.
Jack threw himself toward the side wall. “Grab onto something!” He yelled, a command to himself as well as to Daniel. The rock seemed to be changing, becoming more like the sides of a deep well. The Colonel grabbed for a finger hold, but the wall broke off in his hands. The sharp edges tore at his clothes, cutting his skin.
O’Neill decided that no handhold would break his fall so he changed his strategy. He examined the wall below him, looking for an outcropping that would make a good place to land. Jack spotted a small ledge and positioned his body to reach the target. He hit it hard, feeling the sharp edges pierce his chest. But it only stopped his fall momentarily. His weight was too much for the small ledge and it broke loose, sending him into the abyss once again.
Solomon watched the crowd’s reaction to O’Neill’s reversal of fortune with satisfaction. Some clenched their fists, while others had tears in their eyes over their subject’s failure. He himself could feel the prisoner’s iron will and determination through the visor link and it unnerved him. The Colonel would make a profitable addition to his company, but he couldn’t help but wonder if he wouldn’t also be their undoing. Solomon had to be sure the Giant got this man under control as quickly as possible.
Daniel didn’t know which end was up, he found himself falling head over heels. Looking for anything to grab onto, he only seemed to push himself farther away from the wall. The linguist screamed as his shoulder jammed into an outcropping, sending him bouncing from one sharp rock to another. Through the panic and pain he thought he heard the spectators above screaming, too.
Jack heard the amplified noise as well, but there was nothing he could do, he had to find a way to break his own fall or they were both dead. Spotting one more ledge below him, the Colonel focused on it as hard as he had ever concentrated on anything in his entire life.
He would make it, he told himself. He had to. Angling his body parallel to the flat rock, O’Neill landed with a thud. There he stayed for a long moment, straining to hear any weakness in the stone. To his relief there was no cracking or crumbling, it seemed solid.
Solomon watched as the crowd let out a collective sigh of relief, some shaking under the strain. He knew they would pay anything to get their chance with the Colonel in the Chair after his heroic display.
As for Dr. Jackson, he would make an excellent personal assistant. The information locked in the young man’s mind was the key to absolute power. Solomon’s corporation would rule the planet forever-and he would be at the helm.
Daniel’s dislocated shoulder throbbed as he fell. He knew that his injury had effectively ended any hopes of breaking his own fall.
Jack could see the doctor’s predicament. His mind raced, how was he going to save his friend before it was too late? He surveyed the opposite wall for a similar outcropping, but saw none. Damn, there has to be something…The floor of the pit caught his eye. Oddly enough, it seemed to be turning into thick bluish mud. That could cushion Daniel’s fall, the Colonel thought, as he climbed quickly towards the bottom of the hole.
The crowd gasped, sharing Daniel’s horror as he hit. They cried out, certain they were all lost.
Jack wadded into the muck as quickly as he could. He grabbed the archeologist and pulled him up onto the rocks. The Colonel quickly cleaned the thick muck from his unconscious friend’s face and neck to check his pulse. Thankfully, it was strong.
O’Neill grinned widely with relief. “You are one tough son of a bitch.” He scooped the putrid ooze from the young man’s clothing, stopping at the left shoulder. “That’s gonna hurt.” He said, feeling the separated joint.
“Ow.” Daniel woke with a start, surprised to be alive.
“Good to see you back among the living. I think you have a dislocated shoulder.” O’Neill helped the linguist sit against the cliff face.
Daniel nodded and spit the foul muck from his mouth. “The mud came out of nowhere, when I looked down it was solid rock. I thought….” Daniel stopped.
“Me too.” Jack almost whispered. “I guess they wanted us alive.” He continued, the bravura back in his voice.
“I’m gonna have to fix that shoulder.”
The linguist nodded.
“And it’s gonna hurt like hell.” Jack added gently.
“I don’t really have a choice do I.” Daniel said as he braced himself against O’Neill’s left side. He prayed his friend would be quick.
“No you don’t.” Jack set his jaw and gripped his friend’s injured arm above the elbow. Then he grabbed his shoulder and yanked it back into joint.
Jackson yelled in agony. To the Colonel’s irritation, so did the thousands watching above. He had forgotten they were there.
Jackson slumped in his arms, sore and exhausted.
“There we go, it should be alright for now. Janet can take care of the rest when we get home.”
Daniel looked into his friend’s face asking for reassurance.
“We will get home. I promise you that. Now close your eyes for a minute till I figure out how we’re gonna get out of here.”
The archeologist nodded, comforted by his words. He knew Jack would never break a promise.
Solomon closed his eyes, feeling O’Neill’s determination and the fear that he had hidden from the younger man. It was an amazing rush.
Looking at the emotional faces of the citizens of Nekara, Solomon’s heart filled with pride. He had created the technology that made all this possible, and they loved him for it. And as long as he kept the Box and the Chair supplied with exciting new subjects, he could do anything he wanted and no one would care. The power of that statement was intoxicating.
Chief Solomon touched a few symbols on the control monitor. Now he would see what the heroes of Abydos were really made of.
Jack looked up at the cliff side, not many footholds. It would be an almost impossible climb for him alone, forget about Daniel and his bad shoulder. He sighed. What now? But suddenly the rock changed. It was more graduated with large outcroppings to make it easier to scale. ‘I guess we’re supposed to climb.’ O’Neill scowled under his breath.
“How’s the shoulder?” Jack asked his friend.
“It hurts, but not too bad. What are we going to do?” Daniel was scared. They were being led around like rats in a maze to the roar of cheering crowds. He felt small and helpless. In his mind the archeologist knew that was the idea-but it didn’t help him get rid of the king-size butterflies ripping his stomach apart.
“I don’t see any exit signs down here. So we’re gonna have to climb out.”
“Back up to them.” Daniel said flatly.
“’Fraid so. It won’t be easy, but we can do it.” Jack smiled resolutely.
Daniel nodded for Jack’s benefit. He really didn’t feel like he could do anything at this point.
Suddenly both men heard a gurgling sound.
“Crap. What the hell is that?” Jack muttered, looking around for some kind of creature.
Daniel gasped. “Oh my God, the mud…”
Satisfied that the Edorans were out of danger, Carter ran as fast as she could back toward the center of the fight. Teal'c was crouched low on the ground firing his staff weapon at the Nekarans. General Hammond aimed his P-90 next to the Jaffa, both men had wounded one of the enemy’s men, but they could not stop Arik from dialing up the gate. Pinned down by heavy fire, Sam couldn’t see the address. She hurried closer, but the angle was too steep. She gasped as she recognized the young captive. It was Laira’s son Garan!
General Hammond moved to his feet as the last of the aliens disappeared back through the gate. The Major and Teal'c took off at a full run trying to reach the DHD before the wormhole closed, but they didn’t make it.
Sam screamed at the top of her lungs, the frustration blinding. The alien leader had admitted that he knew where her friends had been taken. In fact, she thought the soldiers were probably involved in their disappearance. But without the address Carter was no closer to finding them than she had been before. And now she had lost the young Edoran as well.
Jack saw the filthy muck rising. He heard the excited gasps of the crowd above and wanted to strangle every last one of them for putting Daniel and him through this in the name of entertainment. He had seen some sick things in his long military career, but this was as twisted as they came.
He quickly scanned the rocks above them. Then he turned to the
linguist, who was still gaping at the ooze. “We can do this.
Just stay in front of me and I’ll guide you.”
Hearing no answer, he took his friend’s face in his hands. His hard glare shaking Daniel back to reality.
“Did you hear me, Danny?” He asked with the power of an Air Force Colonel.
“No…. What?” Jackson muttered, confused, exhausted and in pain.
“Stay above me, I’ll guide you to the footholds, we can do this.” The Colonel repeated.
Daniel nodded, rising to his feet. He looked up the mountain face-it seemed to stretch to the heavens. It was insurmountable.
“Ok, here we go.” Jack looked down one more time, the muck was rising slowly, but it was still rising. They had to get moving.
“See that outcropping about two feet above the ledge?” He was all business.
“And that small ledge about two feet above your head?” O’Neill looked to be sure he had his friend’s attention.
The young man nodded again, focusing on his friend’s voice.
“Put your foot in and pull yourself up.” Jack commanded as he steadied Jackson’s ascent. The linguist did as he was told, and soon he was balancing shaky on the cliff side.
The Colonel followed, anchoring himself in a similar outcropping to the right of his friend. They repeated this maneuver over and over again, concentrating on every movement.
Daniel’s shoulder hurt so bad he wanted to cry out, but he didn’t. Both for Jack and because he didn’t want the crowd to see his pain.
The Colonel stole a quick look down and saw the muck rising faster. “We’re gonna have to pick up the pace.” He said as he helped Jackson move more quickly. But the archeologist chose a brittle outcropping as his newest target and it crumbled in his hand, sending his arm flying into his teammate’s face. The slap took Jack by surprise and he lost his footing, tumbling into the ooze with a flat smack.
“Damn it!” Jack cursed. He had landed on his back on the surface of the slimy mud and he could feel himself slowly sinking.
“Jack!” Daniel turned, screaming his friend’s name, knowing his carelessness had sent O’Neill to his death.
Solomon gasped-the level of emotion generated by the Doctor was so intense that he took off the visor. He knew he had made the right decision having both men brought to Nekara. Their dedication to each other would make his goals so much easier to achieve. He watched the crowd again, the horrified silence. They were definitely getting their money’s worth. Some members of the audience had ripped off their own visors and seemed ready to jump into the pit to rescue their newest acquisitions. That’s the main reason for the transparent box. No one goes in and no one gets out.
“Daniel, listen to me. Don’t come back here. You can’t help me.” O’Neill yelled as calmly as he could.
“You’ll drown!” Daniel was getting hysterical. “My God, Jack! I’m so sorry.”
“Stop it right now! Get up that cliff before we’re both stuck in here. That is an ORDER!” Jack barked in his best military tone.
The Colonel’s harsh instructions cut through Daniel’s panic, forcing him to act. He found a stable new foothold and pulled himself upward one step at a time, pushing his friend’s predicament to the back of his mind.
‘You’re really in the soup now O’Neill.’ Jack thought as he worked to master his own panic. The muck stank of rotting flesh and plants like it was from the depths of hell. It made him gag.
The Colonel could feel himself sinking to the foul, thick slime. If he sank below the surface he would drown. Jack started to imagine what it would be like to inhale the muck…to have it slide down his throat…. ’STOP it right there!’ He ordered himself to calm down. No man ever saved his own neck by panicking. Deep breaths…focus…that’s what wins the race.
After a few deep breaths, he surveyed the situation with a calmer eye. He had fallen about five feet from the wall. No injuries, at least the slime was good for something. He could also see his friend above him, still climbing as quickly as he could. ‘Good boy, Danny.’
The Colonel decided that he would have to try to make it to the side of the pit, it was either that or slowly sink into oblivion. Not even an option. Jack O’Neill didn’t do giving up.
Slowing he moved his arm like a swimmer, trying to propel his body toward the wall. The disturbance made him sink faster. Soon his legs were totally covered with muck. But he was moving in the right direction. Now it would be a race. Could he make it to the side before he ran out of time?
“Garan!” Laira screamed as she ran toward the clearing, summoned by one of the victims. General Hammond’s grim expression stopped her in her tracks.
“Where is my son?” She asked through tear-filled eyes.
“I’m afraid he has been taken.” He said, angry at his own powerlessness.
“Where?” She was getting more upset by the moment.
“I wish we knew.”
“Sir, he was probably transported to the same planet as the Colonel and Daniel.” Sam said as she joined them.
“I agree.” He turned back to the Edoran leader. “Has anyone come through the gate since our last visit?”
The woman shook her head, still in shock. “No one. Why would someone want to harm us? We are peaceful.”
“I don’t know. They didn’t offer any kind of explanation.” Hammond was as confused as Laira. You wouldn’t find a less threatening people than the Edorans. Although that would make them an attractive target for anyone interesting in an easy mark. He’d have to get to work on a plan to find the missing boy. “Please accept my personal apology. We will send word the minute we have any news.”
“You are leaving us?” Laira had no idea what to do.
“I’ll station several soldiers at the gate to guard against any further attempts to harm your people. But my team and I will have to go back to our headquarters to mount an effective search for your son.” General Hammond gripped the woman’s shoulder to show his support. Laira felt she could trust him, so she bid them good bye.
“We will find him.” Sam tried to be reassuring, suddenly regretting her earlier behavior.
Laira nodded and watched helplessly as the Tau’ri disappeared through the event horizon.
Daniel stole a look behind him to check on Colonel O’Neill. Thank goodness the man was making some progress. The linguist knew he had to keep going-one foothold at a time, ignoring his shoulder, leaving Jack to struggle alone below him. It had been the Colonel’s final order and he couldn’t let him down. But he held out hope that he would be able to convince Solomon to help his friend. That made him climb faster.
O’Neill was up to his shoulders in the filthy ooze. He felt it rising all around him, sickening and thick. But he had made it halfway to the wall. He moved slowly but steadily, each hand movement precise to cause as little disturbance as possible in the muck.
Finally Daniel had made it to the top. He struggled to pull himself up over the edge of the large hole, gasping for every breath. The arena was filled with an eerie silence. Daniel looked at the crowd. They seemed to be entranced.
“Chief Solomon, my friend fell into the mud down there. You have to help him!” The young man looked frantically around the arena, trying to locate the man in charge.
“It’s good to see you are alright, Doctor.” Solomon said, his pleasant voice amplified.
The leader’s calm made Daniel even more frantic. Taking a deep breath, he tried again. “Please do something before Colonel O’Neill drowns.” He asked, forcing his voice to remain steady and mild.
“You’re wasting your breath, Dr. Jackson. All new acquisitions must take a turn in the pit. It is the nature of Lacitta.”
Daniel felt Solomon’s voice filling his mind. “We are sentient beings. You can’t just let the Colonel die.” The linguist tried one more time.
“You are the only one who can help your friend now.” The chief would not budge.
Daniel realized he was not going to get any assistance from the unresponsive chief. And Jack was running out of time below him. Looking quickly around the empty box, he knew there was nothing here that could help him rescue his friend. So Jackson did the only thing he could, he started back into the pit with a new resolve.
Solomon smiled again. The doctor’s loyalty was impressive. He found that the Box usually revealed the real spirit of an acquisition.
Up to his neck, Jack was getting tired. With over a foot to go, he knew he would have to make one desperate dive for the rocky wall or soon he would sink below the surface and that would be the end of that. He took a deep breath, the sickening smell gagging him again, pointed himself toward the wall, and pushed as hard as he could with his arms and legs. The force propelled him forward, but with his hands covered in slime, would he be able to hang on?
Daniel climbed down the wall as quickly as he could. He should have never left Jack alone, no matter what the Colonel said. Not to mention the fact that it was his fault his friend was down there in the first place. If he couldn’t save Jack, at least he could be there with him at the end.
“Damn!” O’Neill’s fingers slid off the wall, too slippery from the muck.
As he worked to find a handhold on the rock, The Colonel was losing his battle with the mud. Soon he was in up to his chin. Not much time left, Jack struggled with both hands to hold onto the cliff. He cursed as his slimy hands slipped off for the last time. Now he could taste the foul muck as his head went under. There was nothing left to do but sink into the abyss.
Suddenly the Colonel felt a hand pulling him up onto the wall of rock. Soon he was lying on a ledge, out of breath. He reached up to push the mud out of his eyes. Only then did he see the face of his savior.
“Daniel! I told you to get out of here!” He coughed, the taste of ooze heavy in his throat.
“You’re welcome. And yes I did climb to the top, but no one would listen to me up there so I came back for you. Technically I did follow orders.” Daniel smiled.
Jack smiled too, in spite of himself. “I guess you did at that. But now we’d better both get out of here. That muck’s rising pretty fast.” They would have to hurry to get to the top before they were covered with mud. He had already done that once today, he had no interest in doing it again.
General Hammond sent the Major and Teal'c to stow their gear before a short meeting in his office. Unfortunately, he found no new information waiting for him upon his return.
When Carter and Teal'c knocked, Hammond was reviewing the Edorans mission report one more time.
“Come.” He said absently.
The remaining members of SG-1 stood at attention just inside the door.
“Have a seat, Sam, Teal'c.” George waited until both sat in front of his desk.
“I’ve been reviewing the Edora file and I haven’t found anything to explain what just happened. Now that I’ve seen the planet for myself I can say with some certainty that those people are not plotting against us or anyone else. So why were they attacked?”
Sam had no answer. What could those random Edorans have that anyone would want to steal? And even if there were something, what did it have to do with Daniel and Colonel O’Neill.
“We will not learn that until we locate them.” Teal'c added.
“I’m afraid you are right. Major, you and Teal'c get to work on those mission reports. There has to be something useful in there.”
“With all due respect, sir, I was hoping that we could join the search.” Carter said.
“No one knows more about SG-1 than you two. Your review of the mission reports might be the only way to locate them. Searching planet to planet is the longest long shot. We’ll start that on a limited basis. But the real heart of the search is in those reports.”
Sam nodded and they rose to leave.
“Major, please stay, Teal'c, dismissed.” The Jaffa nodded and left.
Carter braced for a serious reprimand.
General Hammond examined the officer standing before him with a critical eye. “Major Carter, I must say I am disappointed by your recent behavior. I don’t have to tell you that you are representing the entire planet when you step through that gate. And you will do so with professionalism and respect.” The General began, his voice stern.
Sam stood at attention. She deserved the rebuke. She didn’t know what had come over her.
Having made his point, the General’s face softened. “Sam.”
Major Carter’s shoulder’s eased at the sound of her first name.
“I know this isn’t easy. When you lose your teammates it’s never easy. Now the Stargate has added a whole new dimension to missing in action. But we have to remain focused on the mission. Don’t let your feelings for your friends get in the way of finding them.”
“I won’t sir. Let me apologize for my behavior. It will not happen again.”
The General smiled. “Very good. Now go find the clues we need to break this thing wide open.”
“Yes sir.” She saluted and turned on her heel to leave.
The General smiled as Carter closed the door. Jack was right, she was shaping up to be one hell of an officer.
When Sam closed the door she let out a sigh of relief. Miraculously, her erratic behavior had not gotten her removed from the project. She had to work harder to recover her professional distance. The Colonel and Daniel were out there somewhere, waiting for her to save them. There was no time for emotional outbursts. She walked down the hall with a new determination to solve this mystery and bring them home.
In the conference room, Teal'c was already scanning the first file on the long table. “Are you alright, MajorCarter?” He asked.
“Yes, I’ll be fine. I owe you an apology, though. I’m sorry I acted that way on Edora. It won’t happen again.”
“It is understandable. We are all concerned for the welfare of ColonelO’Neill and DanielJackson, but do not worry, we will find them.” Teal'c was certain.
Sam nodded, wishing she could be so optimistic. She took a seat across from the Jaffa and opened the next file to page one.
Colonel O’Neill got to his feet, wiping his slimy hands on the rocks. He examined their surroundings, satisfied that they were pretty close to the top. “At least the rising muck was good for something, we should be out of here in no time.” He said with a determined smile. The linguist only nodded, concerned more about what waited for them at the top than the difficulty of the climb. Both men silently pulled themselves to the rim of the hole and within minutes they were back on the floor of the arena.
Jack lay on the ground for a moment, examining the crowd he despised. They glowed with joy, drained, but excited. He couldn’t help but think their faces mirrored his emotions and it creeped him out. Suddenly they broke into thunderous applause.
The Colonel rose and turned to face Solomon, his eyes icy with hatred. Standing tall, he challenged his captor with the mere fact of his survival.
Solomon had to admit that the man’s formidable figure unnerved him. Even covered with muck, the Colonel was the most confident being he had ever seen.
Jack tipped an imaginary cap to the crowd and they responded with a thunderous roar. “You gotta love these fools.” He said to Daniel, even though the linguist couldn’t hear a thing over the incredible noise.
The Chief hurried onto the arena floor to regain his advantage. The cheers rose even louder for the man who had made it all possible.
He basked in his glory for a full minute before motioning for quiet. “Good citizens, now you have experienced our newest featured attractions. Share tales of the adventure with your friends, so they may come and be amazed. It is my privilege to announce that Colonel O’Neill will be in the Chair for an entire week beginning tomorrow. Reservations to share his mind will be taken after the arena closes today. I’m sure they will be filled quickly so be sure to hurry.”
The crowd cheered. They couldn’t wait to share in the Colonel’s mind again.
“Whoa, what does that mean, Share in my mind?” Jack yelled. “You don’t have to wait for a ticket. I’d be more than thrilled to tell you all what I’m thinking right now.”
The crowd ignored him.
“They can’t hear you over all that noise.” Daniel sighed.
“Damn it anyway, I am so over this whole planet.” Jack hit the plastic wall with a closed fist.
“Feel better?” Daniel asked sadly.
“Not by a long shot. When I can do that to Solomon, then I’ll be overjoyed.” O’Neill’s eyes flashed.
The crowd began to file out in an orderly fashion. It took almost thirty minutes to clear the huge stadium. People whispered and giggled as they passed their newest superstars.
Jack and Daniel sat against the far wall of their transparent prison silently watching the procession. Using his time to rest and regroup, O’Neill fiddled with the bracelets on his wrists, but to his frustration, they didn’t budge. The only way to gain their freedom would be to get one of those control devices. He had to make that his top priority.
Daniel studied the faces as they passed. Hoping to win some sympathy, he made eye contact with everyone he could. Unfortunately, that only seemed to make them beam with joy, like a souvenir for the trip home. Daniel’s heart sank as he realized that he and Jack were nothing more than zoo animals to the passing crowd. He doubted there was anyone in the arena who wanted to see them released.
“We need one of those control doohickeys.” The Colonel whispered.
“Right.” Daniel answered softly, preoccupied by the crystal sphere, still hovering above the arena floor. “That is amazing.” The linguist marveled as he pointed to the object still levitating above the arena floor.
“I guess so. It looks like an overgrown disco ball.” The Colonel was more worried about their future than some local trinket.
“It was glowing brightly while Krel was in the Box. At first I thought it was a religious object, but it could also be some kind of power source. It certainly doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever seen before.” Jackson wished he could examine the alien object.
“You got that right.” O’Neill turned his attention back to the crowd.
Eventually Solomon and Orson were the only people remaining in the gigantic structure.
“Well done, gentlemen. I see that the two of you are going to be very profitable for me.” Solomon beamed.
“Glad to be of service.” Jack answered, standing tall and defiant directly in front of his captors.
Suddenly their manacled hands were restrained again. The plastic box disappeared and the large hole in the ground vanished.
“Neat trick. What now?” O’Neill’s flip tone surprised Solomon. Most people were left weak and submissive by their first time in the pit. But the Colonel’s ordeal seemed to have made him more determined.
“Now you will wash, your wounds will be cared for, and you will receive new clothes. Then, Colonel, you will go back to your living quarters. Dr. Jackson, you will accompany me to the research area for a special project.”
“No way, we stay together.” Jack stood between them.
“I will not argue with a performer. Dr. Jackson is coming with me because I wish it.” Solomon was conversational, accustomed to obedience without question.
“What if I say I won’t let you take him.” Jack answered slyly, goading his captor.
Solomon’s eyes darkened. “In order for you to have a long life here on Nekara, Colonel, you are going to have to come to terms with your new reality. My corporation controls the entire planet. I could have you destroyed on a whim. Remember that.” Solomon sighed, he had allowed himself to show more anger than he had intended.
“You know we have to do what he wants here, Jack, why not just let it go for once.” Daniel whispered to his friend, concerned he was getting in over his head.
“Can’t a guy have a little fun.” The Colonel smiled as they were dragged away to the shower room. He had seen how easy it was to unhinge his adversary. That would be useful information to keep in his back pocket.
The mirror in the bathhouse made Jack laugh. He was caked with dried blue mud from head to toe and his clothes were ripped everywhere, exposing cuts and bruises. “Some hero.” He smirked.
Daniel didn’t look much better. The two men stripped off their muddy, torn clothes and stepped under the warm water.
Jack felt all his aches and pains melt away. It was incredible. He wished he could have his cell moved right here.
Daniel’s shoulder throbbed, but the warm water relaxed him a little. He felt like his head was going to explode, the stress wearing on his nerves. He always envied Jack his calm. Nothing seemed to bother him.
After they toweled off, Jenna appeared. Jack blushed, trying to cover himself, but the woman didn’t seem to notice him at all. Something about that fact bothered the Colonel more than any embarrassment.
“A pleasure to see you again. This is my friend Daniel Jackson. Daniel, this is Jenna.”
Daniel smiled despite his embarrassment. “Nice to meet you, although I wish it could have been under different circumstances.”
Jenna didn’t speak. Instead she examined the Colonel’s cuts and bruises.
“I am glad you were not seriously injured in the pit.” She said finally.
“Why Jenna, I didn’t think you cared.” His smile lit up the room. “I told you she liked me.” He said to Daniel, who couldn’t help but grin himself.
“I wish good health to all Lareos. It would serve no purpose for any of you to be injured.”
Jack nodded. She was probably as a much a captive as he was. As such there may be consequences for any fraternization. She could say no more and he knew it.
She handed them each a pair of white shorts and they quickly dressed.
“I really need to talk to somebody about these outfits. I mean, could you make them any tighter?” Jack frowned.
Jenna was confused by the request. “I do not think so, O’Neill.”
“You can say that again.” Daniel added grimly.
A small woman entered the room, followed by two guards.
“Who’s this?” Jack asked Jenna.
“She is your healer. I will see you again soon, O’Neill, Jackson.”
“I hope so.” Jack smiled as she left.
Daniel looked at his friend’s blushing face. “She’s a beautiful woman.” The linguist said.
“Yes she is.” The Colonel answered absently. Then noticing his friend’s goofy stare, he straightened up.
“Did you see the scar on her face?” Jackson added.
“Yeah, so?” O’Neill was getting defensive.
“Nothing like that, but the woman who attended to me was missing two fingers. It’s odd, that’s all.” Daniel said, wondering about the connection between the two women.
“Daniel Jackson?” The doctor asked with authority.
Daniel stepped forward, feeling ludicrous in his tiny shorts.
“Sit.” She was cold, didn’t look at his face.
“My shoulder was dislocated. That’s all.” He didn’t look at her either.
The doctor nodded and felt the bruised area. “It seems to have been set well. When I apply healing cream you will be mended.”
She did just that. The cream burned at first, but then it seemed to repair the damaged area.
“That’s great. What kind of cream is that?” He asked, flexing his shoulder.
“It seeks out weak tissues and repairs them.”
“Wow, what are its’ properties?” Jackson’s scientific mind brightened.
The doctor moved on to Jack without acknowledging Daniel’s enthusiastic questions.
“That’s some bedside manner you have there, Doc.” Jack said as she examined him.
“Nothing serious, assorted bruises, cuts. No broken bones.” She used the cream over Jack’s chest and arms.
“I could use a massage while you’re at it. I get stiff every time I have to climb up out of a pit.”
Jack smiled as the cream did its’ work. “You could sell that stuff at home. I could get you a great distribution deal.”
Still no answer.
He frowned. It was no fun to bait the enemy when they didn’t respond. The doctor gave them each a change of clothes. It was another skintight jumpsuit-this time basic black with no design.
“This is the first prison camp I’ve been in with showers and new clothes everyday, cool.” Jack quipped. He changed in front of her, his head held high.
Daniel turned his back and changed too. O’Neill worried that his friend was too quiet.
“Are you alright over there?” He asked, averting his eyes as his friend pulled the tight suit over his chest and arms.
“I’m fine.” Jackson said.
“You’re quiet.” The Colonel answered.
“Only you like to talk when we get captured.” The linguist reminded his friend.
“Oh yeah, I guess that’s true. How’s your shoulder?”
“Like new. The properties of that cream are amazing. It seems to enhance the immune system for the wounded area, re-energizing the surrounding tissues.” Daniel was in his element again and it brightened his mood.
“Whoa, I think I liked the silent treatment better.” Jack wrinkled his brow.
Jackson shook his head, playing their usual game.
“Let’s go.” Two guards grabbed each man separately.
“Watch the new clothes.” Jack was pushed forward first.
“Keep your eyes open. If you see a way out, take it.” He yelled as he was pushed away.
“I will.” Daniel yelled after him. The Colonel expected him to escape on his own. Daniel smiled grimly at his friend’s misplaced faith.
The archeologist was shoved out of the arena and onto the roadway. Soon he entered a large laboratory where Solomon was waiting.
“Good to see you, Doctor. Can I offer you a refreshment.” The Chief stood in his lavish office holding a cravat of red liqueur.
Daniel hesitated, admiring the Old World motif of his captor’s office. Some artifacts were familiar to him, but most he had never seen before. “I’m not thirsty.” He lied.
“You and your friend are totally under my control. If I meant to poison you I could do it any way I desired.” Solomon added, sensing his guest’s hesitation.
“You have a point.” The linguist couldn’t help but smile thinly.
Solomon poured the bright red liquid into a fine crystal glass and handed it to the archeologist. Daniel drank gratefully. The spirit had a faint cherry flavor and seemed to contain some kind of stimulant. Exhausted from the pit, the linguist needed a boost.
“I have heard many stories about your adventures, Dr. Jackson. The things you have seen would leave most beings speechless.”
“I can’t argue with that.” Daniel continued to sip his drink with enthusiasm.
“I’m sure you’ve learned of a great many cultures in your travels.” Solomon continued.
“Yes….” Daniel answered slowly. Where was his captor going with all this?
“I’d like to use that knowledge. Some strange artifacts have come into my possession and I hope you will give me your expert opinion as to their origins.”
Daniel was interested. “Alright…” He asked, hoping his help would make Solomon into an ally.
“Excellent. I will take you to them soon.” Solomon said, satisfied with the man’s enthusiasm.
Jackson opened his mouth to speak, but suddenly the room was dim. He felt vaguely nauseous and disconnected. His stomach tightened, he had been drugged.
“Drugs…” The linguist’s speech was slurred.
“Yes, doctor, I’m afraid so. Do not resist it and you will be fine.”
Two guards moved to his side and pulled him to a steel chair.
Daniel tried to struggle at first, but the drug made it impossible for him to control his movements. He watched as they put him into the chair, the manacles molding into the steel arms. A headband fit over his forehead connecting to the triangle embedded there.
“….Wait….” Daniel rasped, trying to communicate through the haze. “…talk…” He had let his guard down for a moment and now he was at the alien’s mercy. Jack would never let him hear the end of this.
Solomon ignored his captive’s protests and took a seat next to the young man, putting an identical headband on his own forehead.
The Nekaran pushed a button on his armrest and a white light consumed Daniel’s mind. The doctor felt like a spectator as his own memories came to life.
Suddenly he was back on Ra’s ship, leaping in front of then relative stranger Jack O’Neill, taking a staff weapon blast to the chest in his place.
The pain was amazing. It burned through him just as it had those five years before. He crumpled to the ground almost immediately, smoke still billowing from his singed flesh. Through clenched eyes he saw Colonel O’Neill being knocked to the floor by Ra’s Jaffa. Then he felt his own life force slipping away.
Jack was unceremoniously dragged back to their living quarters. Hands manacled behind his back, leash around his throat.
“I don’t know where you fellas got your information, but I’m really not all that dangerous.” Jack rasped as they pulled him along. “I haven’t killed anyone with my bare hands in at least a week.”
As he struggled to keep pace with his captors, O’Neill vowed never to put his parents’ dog on a leash again. It was really uncomfortable and downright humiliating.
The Colonel was glad to see his familiar stall. It would be nice just to be off the leash. Again he was manhandled and thrown to the ground, hitting the wall hard. “Thanks for the lift.” He smiled weakly.
As the silent guards left, one of them touched the controls of his bracelet. Jack heard the air sizzle to life. A touch of the edge of their stall confirmed the Colonel’s suspicions. A force field, just great! O’Neill rearranged the cottony straw around himself and used the blanket as a pillow to cushion his head against the wall. There he could watch for intruders and wait for his friend’s return.
Daniel gasped, fighting for his last breath. The machine had stimulated his memories of Abydos so vividly that he was sure his life was slipping away.
Suddenly all brain functions ceased. Everything he knew was blackness, no breathing, no thought.
He was dead.
Solomon felt it with him. The emptiness was so profound that he pulled back, opening his eyes to reassure himself that he had only been experiencing another man’s memories.
He looked at the archeologist beside him. His face grey and blank, but he was still breathing. The power of the Chair always amazed him, even after all these years. The young man’s body continued to function all the while even though his mind believed he was dead.
Solomon reentered the device just as Daniel sprang back to life.
The linguist was shocked to be among the living. He had awakened
inside the sarcophagus. Alive and aware because of Ra.