Connections Part Two
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.
“Off world activation.” Sergeant Davis announced into the intercom. Less than a minute later, the base commander hurried to the control room.
“What is it Sergeant?” General Hammond asked.
“It’s SG-1, sir. But they’re not scheduled to return for hours.”
The General frowned. “No they aren’t. Open the iris.”
Sam appeared through the event horizon. “Did the Colonel and Daniel come through the gate?” She asked quickly, hoping against hope.
“No…should they have?” Hammond started down the steps.
“General, we have a problem.” Carter removed her gear and met the base commander near the top of the control room stairs.
“What is it, Major?” He asked. “Did something happen to Colonel O’Neill?”
“He and Daniel went through the gate and disappeared.”
The General didn’t know what to say. “What do you mean they disappeared?”
“Teal'c and I were gathering samples and were too far away to see what happened. We couldn’t even make out the address they dialed.”
“They just left? That doesn’t make any sense, Major.” Bewildered, Hammond shook his head.
“No it doesn’t. Teal'c is watching the gate in case they return. I’d like to lead a team back to the planet and sweep the area for any clues as to what happened to them.”
“Also, I believe we can use a fingerprint kit to pull Daniel’s prints from the DHD, that should tell us what glyphs he dialed.”
“Excellent, I’ll send our best criminalist to see to it.”
“Thank you, sir.” She saluted, turned briskly and left Hammond to worry and wait.
Daniel couldn’t help but be impressed by the city that stretched out before them. A sharp contrast to the barren blue landscape, It was a series of round tubes in the shape of an oval. A large dome in the middle with semi-circles surrounding it, only broken by red brick roads.
“Lacitta.” Arik said with pride.
“The city.” Daniel translated. “It’s a derivative of the Italian.”
“Great to know. What’s Italian for ‘let me go?’” Jack’s voice dripped with sarcasm.
As they walked the Colonel had noticed people gathering along the road to cheer them on.
“What’s with the audience?” He asked Arik.
“Your people want to see their new Lareo”
“Hero, or champion.” Daniel said.
“This just keeps getting better and better.”
Suddenly a screaming fan grabbed Jack’s arm. The Colonel lost his balance and fell into the crowd. They were on him instantly, grabbing and pulling at his clothes. With his hands tied behind his back, O’Neill had no way to defend himself.
Daniel pulled as hard as he could to drag his friend out of the fray, the crowd tearing the uniform from his back.
Jack kicked and thrashed back and forth, trying to break free. But his new found fans wouldn’t let go.
“Do something!” The linguist yelled to his captor over the screaming throng.
Arik finally motioned to the guards who fired a laser blast into the air, scattering the attackers.
O’Neill lay on the ground in a heap. His jacket hanging in tatters, his arms and face covered with scratches.
“Are you alright?” Daniel asked, leaning over his friend.
“Yeah. Now I know why I never became a rock star.” Jack was breathing hard.
Arik helped Daniel to his feet while a guard dragged Colonel O’Neill to the standing position. The Nekaran examined the frantic crowd gathering just behind the safety barrier with satisfaction. ‘These men are going to be very popular’, he thought.
“We must go. Are you able to walk, O’Neill?”
“Sure. Let’s get this show on the road.”
Arik smiled and led them down the street, walking closer to the middle to avoid the frantic arms of the screaming crowd.
Daniel saw a large grandstand waiting at the end of the road. There a large grey haired man dressed in silver lamee from head to toe stood at the podium.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome our newest acquisitions: The Heroes of Abydos, Colonel Jack O’Neill and Doctor Daniel Jackson.”
Jack was stunned as the crowd erupted. What had they gotten themselves into this time?
“These two men single-handedly defeated one of the most dreaded rulers in the universe. See their bravery and skill later today in the Box. Get your tickets now!” The unknown master of ceremonies announced to thunderous applause.
“Wait a minute. I’m not getting in any box.” Jack tried to yell over the crowd, but no one heard him. Both men were dragged away before they could say any more.
“Who was that?” Daniel asked Arik when they were past the crowd.
“He is Chief Solomon, leader of Zencorp. He oversees the entire city.”
“Then we should speak to him.” Daniel continued.
“You will be processed.” Arik said, ignoring the linguist’s request.
“Processed how?” Jack asked with dread.
“All new participants are processed. You will receive the device, then you will become Lareo."
“We are peaceful explorers. Please let us speak to Chief Solomon.” Daniel asked.
“You will meet him at the presentation.”
Jack shook his head. The ‘take me to your leader’ routine never worked. He surveyed the area in front of them and it reminded him of a giant alien carnival. Bright flashing signs with sayings like ‘Adventure inside!’ ‘Come here for the ride of your life!’ ‘You’ll be amazed!’ etc…
They entered one of the huge tubes then an enormous building inside. Daniel took it all in with amazement. He estimated at least two city blocks of machinery in front of them. White sterile walls seemed to stretch into infinity.
Technicians stopped to stare at the new prisoners. Jack couldn’t help but smile at the fearful looks on their faces. Like they were wild animals out of their cages.
“Hi folks. Nice weather today. Here to see the show?” He smirked.
Daniel shook his head as they shrunk away. “You really know how to make friends.”
“Those guys wouldn’t help us. Hell, just the sight of us almost gave them a heart attack.”
Daniel couldn’t argue with that. He wondered what about the site of two men shacked together could create such fear. They’d probably learn the answer to that soon enough. For now he continued to marvel at the architecture. White and sterile like a hospital, no decoration at all. That was odd for any culture that seemed to place such a high value on their prisoners.
Finally they reached their destination. Arik led them into a large room filled with other men. All were shackled, forced to stand silently in long lines, waiting to enter a hidden processing center.
Colonel O’Neill was not manacled with the others. Very aware of Jack’s military training, Arik tied his leash to a ring on the floor forcing the other man to kneel. Still chained to his friend, Daniel had no choice but to follow behind him.
“We will meet again soon.” The red-haired man said then he turned and left the two men alone.
“Lookin’ forward to it.” Jack answered with a mocking smile. “This is getting so old.” He mumbled, unable to straighten his back.
“I wonder what’s on the other side of those doors.” Daniel said absently.
“I think we’ll see soon enough.” O’Neill surveyed the room. There were over 200 men shuffling forward in front of them. Each group of 10 had a large guard watching them, moving with them through the line.
“Their own personal goon.” He said out loud.
“What was that?” Daniel half heard.
“Look at those goons.” Jack absently commanded.
Daniel did as he was told. “And see what…Oh now I see what you mean. They do seem to be moving with their own group. That’s odd.”
“That’s very weird.”
“Greetings gentlemen.” A small man had silently moved behind them.
“Greetings.” The linguist smiled, recovering quickly. “I am Daniel Jackson and this is Jack O’Neill.”
Jack managed an exaggerated nod.
“I am Orson. I have been assigned to be your caretaker throughout the procedure.”
“You make it sound so routine.” Daniel said, vaguely bothered by Orson’s matter-of-fact manner.
“We process 500-700 new acquisitions a week. To do that we use the best state of the art equipment our behavioral scientists can create.”
“That’s comforting. Let’s cut through the brochure and head straight to the bottom line. What’s going on here Orson?” Jack demanded. Losing his patience along with the circulation to his legs.
“You have become part of ZenCorp. It is a great honor.”
“An honor, huh? Boy do I feel lucky.” Jack grimaced as he tried to shift his weight to a more comfortable position. Daniel saw his friend’s struggle and put a hand on his back to help him move without falling over.
“Thanks, that’s better.”
“Orson, you have us restrained, can’t you free Colonel O’Neill from the collar?”
The alien’s eyes grew large. “Oh no, this is the holding area for the most dangerous creatures we process. The Colonel has an A rating. He must be restrained at all times for his own safety.”
“Swell.” Jack grumbled. They were right about the dangerous part. Hell, if he could get loose he would make it his personal mission to teach Orson about the evils of grabbing innocent victims off the street.
Then he would burn this building to the ground.
Arik entered Chief Solomon’s office with his head bowed.
The leader of Nekara looked up from his terminal.
“Are they being processed?” He asked regally.
“Well done. From the enthusiasm of the crowd I think they will be our best acquisitions yet.” Solomon was delighted.
“Yes, chief, and we are set to travel to another planet soon to acquire new people.” Arik offered, hoping to impress his leader.
“Of course. Be sure to return with the best.” Solomon said.
“I cannot emphasize enough the need to keep Colonel O’Neill and Doctor Jackson safe and under control. Therefore I’m appointing you as their personal guard.”
Arik frowned, he was the leader of the Nekaran army, not a guard.
Solomon sensed his displeasure. “You are not happy with your new assignment I’m sure. But if you knew what plans I have for those men you’d realize that I’m entrusting you with the future of our civilization.”
Arik straightened with pride. Maybe it was an assignment worthy of his talents after all.
“When you return from your latest mission you will begin to supervise our new acquisitions.” Solomon ordered and turned back to work at his terminal. Arik saw that his meeting had ended and left without another word.
Major Carter led members of SG-2 back through the gate about an hour after she had first spoken to the General.
Teal'c was waiting patiently where Sam had left him. She returned to his side.
“No news I guess.” She said, looking into the surrounding brush.
“None.” Teal'c was grave.
SG-2 spread out, searching for any evidence that would shed light on what had happened to their comrades. Meanwhile, a criminalistics unit had removed all fingerprint evidence from the surface of the DHD.
Two hours later, Sam stood in front of the gate with nothing to report. She sighed in frustration, looking into the empty stone ring for answers. ‘Where are you?’
SG-2 returned empty handed, leaving Carter with no choice but to order them all back to the SGC.
“Tell me more about your world.” Daniel asked.
“ZenCorp provides everyone with everything they desire. Food, garments, shelter, mental stimulation.”
“And what does the Company get?” Jack asked.
“The satisfaction of a contented society.”
“The people here don’t look so thrilled.” O’Neill continued.
Orson laughed at the foolish statement. “These are not members of society. They are ZenCorp acquisitions. They only exist to provide stimulation.”
Jack really didn’t like the sound of that.
“What kind of stimulation?” Daniel asked.
“Anything a citizen desires. It is for the individual to choose.”
“So you go around the universe and kidnap beings to be used as slaves so your people can get their jollies?” Jack was indignant.
Orson thought about it. “Your words are juvenile, but more or less accurate.”
There was a moment of forced silence as both men considered their fates.
Orson smiled, uncomfortable with the maudlin shift in mood. “But soon you will be processed and you will come to embrace your new life.”
“I can hardly wait.” Jack closed his eyes, concentrating on his cramped muscles. He had to be ready to act if the opportunity presented itself.
“It is time.” Orson motioned to three guards who moved with the precision of years of practice. One stood behind Daniel and the second grabbed Jack’s shoulders holding him fast while the third untied the leash from the floor.
“That’s real personal service.” Jack quipped as they pulled him to his feet. Daniel hurried to follow.
“You will come with me.” Orson turned and walked past all the waiting prisoners to the red door on the right.
“VIP treatment, right to the front of the line.” Jack smirked as he stumbled forward, the feeling returning to his legs.
“Lucky us.” Daniel dreaded what was behind the door.
His stomach fell as they walked inside. It was a large assembly line with men being placed on machines and moved through an entire regimen of unrecognizable procedures.
Jack cursed under his breath. They were in the soup now.
Orson ran his index finger over a hand-held device. First the chain connecting the two men disappeared, then Jack’s hands were released and he was led by the collar to the foot of the machine.
It looked like a giant centrifuge, Daniel thought as he watched his friend, helpless.
“Now what?” Jack asked, rubbing his shoulder, and unwilling to move.
“Step into the machine, Colonel O’Neill.” Orson instructed.
“No.” Jack answered, defiant.
One of the guards backhanded the Colonel across the face and he staggered backwards. Then the large man pushed O’Neill up a step onto the silver platform.
“Turn and back into your cell.” Orson instructed.
Jack shrugged and smiled wickedly. “Do you really think I’m going to make it that easy for you?” His eyes burning a hole through his captors.
One of the guards grabbed O’Neill’s arms and pinned them behind his back. The Colonel tried to duck out of the hold, but a second guard pulled his leash tight, choking him as he moved. He had to straighten up or hang himself. Still he struggled in the guard’s arms, coughing and gasping as he fought.
The Colonel knew he couldn’t win, but no one just ‘put’ Jack O’Neill into anything. They would have to work for it.
Daniel frowned. Jack made life so difficult for himself. In the end the guards would win and all he would have to show for his efforts was more bumps and bruises.
But his friend always went on his own terms.
As the Colonel began to waiver, close to losing consciousness due to a lack of oxygen, the guard spun him around and lifted him into the alcove that would be his ‘cell’. When his back slammed into the wall O’Neill came back to life, wincing.
A metal restraining band formed around Jack’s chest, pinning his arms at his sides. Two similar bands appeared around his knees and ankles. The guard cut the collar around his neck and soon a metal restraint took its place. The Colonel struggled, but there was no slack. The metal cut through his neck, any movement choking him.
Daniel looked on in horror. Jack was truly at their mercy.
O’Neill’s expression lightened. It was back to the old game. Never give the bad guy the satisfaction of seeing your fear and uncertainty. Plus, he had Daniel to worry about. It was important to keep the young man’s spirits up. The Colonel knew they would escape somehow, sometime, when the enemy’s back was turned. And he needed his teammate to be ready. So Jack smiled his encouragement, locking Daniel’s eyes in his.
The linguist tried to smile back, nodding reassurance he didn’t feel.
Suddenly Jack’s cell rotated to the right, leaving a new empty one in front. Daniel knew that was his.
“Come, please do not resist. It is less painful that way.” Orson said, still shocked by O’Neill’s struggles.
Daniel nodded. He didn’t have Jack’s resolve. He turned, his heart pounding loudly in his ears, as Orson released his shackles. Then he took one step backwards into the cell. Soon he too was pinned into the device by metal bands around his neck, chest and legs.
“Now what’s going to happen?” He asked Orson in a small, shaky voice.
“You become part of the company.” He answered mildly.
Suddenly the machine hummed to life. It began to spin, picking up speed until both men were overcome by waves of dizziness. Two minutes later, the machine came to a stop.
Daniel wretched, dry heaves wracking his body as the room continued to spin. In the chamber next to him, Jack screwed up his eyes trying to focus on anything that would help him convince his body that the room was not spinning at warp speed, but to no avail. He felt disconnected from everything around him.
“Now you are ready for processing.” Orson smiled. The Spinner always took the fight out of them. It was easier than a tranquilizer with no long-term affects.
Next, Jack could feel his wrists being pulled in front of him. He struggled vaguely, unable to focus his energy. He felt a cold metal against his wrists, but then a streak of fire burning him. He was being fitted with permanent bracelets.
“Hey!” He muttered absently, still reeling.
“Be still O’Neill, so the process can be completed more quickly.” Orson instructed watching as a technician locked each man’s manacles in place. Then Jack felt the same metal around his neck. Damn, it was a permanent collar.
After Daniel had been fitted with the same restraining devices, Orson pushed a button on his control pad and both men’s wrist and neck restraints locked into the wall behind them like a magnet to metal.
Jack tried to shake them loose, but the bond was too strong.
“Now you will be treated for bacteria with the cleansing spray. Please close your eyes or permanent damage could result.”
Both men did as they were told and a cool mist covered them. Daniel sneezed at the strange smell.
Next they were each drenched with a blast of water from overhead. Both members of SG-1 yelled with surprise.
“Sorry, I should have warned you. The water washes away the disinfectant. Now you will receive the device. It will be painful. I apologize for that.”
Suddenly Jack felt rough hands holding his head still. He tried to move against them, but they meant business. Metal bands covered his eyes and mouth, forcing both closed, and locking his head in place. All he could do was stand there and wait. ‘Stay cool, be ready to move.’ He told himself, fighting the urge to panic in the darkness.
In spite of his fear, Daniel couldn’t help but be fascinated by the level of technology at work. It seemed to be a society built around the parasitic use of slave labor, but on a grand scale. And they had turned the processing of prisoners into a science. Suddenly incredible pain hit him like an electric shock, cutting through his whole body. He wanted to cry out, but the metal gag left him mute.
Jack felt the device as it burrowed into his forehead. The pain was excruciating, but he didn’t make a sound. He heard Daniel’s muffled cries and swore he would have his revenge against this sick society somehow. It would be cold, calculated, and well deserved. Another sensation suddenly filled his consciousness, like a ray of light seeping through his mind. He heard Orson’s voice.
“Now we will preserve the essence of your mind. Don’t worry, it leaves no permanent damage. This information will be processed by our scientists and soon all of Lacitta share in the wonderful experiences you both have collected over the years of your life.”
Jack wanted to yell at the top of his lungs. ‘The essence of his mind’ was not something he would willingly share with anyone, let alone an entire city of strangers. Not to mention all the sensitive information they both carried. Had they just betrayed the entire Stargate project?
Suddenly the centrifuge spun again, faster than before. Jack felt like his stomach was going to explode. Finally neither man could stand the G-Forces and passed out.
“Nothing to report, sir.” Major Carter answered the General’s question before he could speak. “There were no signs of a struggle. We found nothing at all left behind by the Colonel or Daniel.”
“The criminalists?” He asked, meeting her at the foot of the ramp.
“They managed to lift some fingerprints from the stone. I expect results within the hour.”
“Good work. Why don’t you and Teal'c go get yourselves cleaned up. And I bet you could both use something to eat. Keep me appraised.”
“Yes, sir.” The General noticed how tired Sam looked as she and Teal'c shuffled sadly out of the gate room. It was a damn shame. He turned his attention back to his work. No matter who was missing he still had a base to run.
Sam and Teal'c sat in the commissary, each silently picking at a bowl of soup.
How could this be happening again so soon? Carter felt like she was trapped in a nightmare. The Colonel lost over and over again, leaving her to find a way to save him. And this time he had taken her good friend and confidante with him.
“Be patient, MajorCarter, we will find them.” Teal'c smiled his best reassuring smile. It lifted some of Sam’s burden.
“I hope so. How do you stay so optimistic?”
“It is not optimism, it is a fact I truly believe. I know we will not stop looking for them until they are found. Thus, we will find them.”
Sam cocked her head to one side, she couldn’t argue with that.
Dr. Fitzsimmons stood by their table, waiting for the Major to notice her. Carter looked up, acknowledging the doctor with a nod.
“Major, I have the fingerprint analysis you’ve been waiting for. If you two will follow me.”
Sam and Teal'c quickly followed Doctor Fitzsimmons to the Criminalistics lab.
“We have isolated Dr. Jackson’s prints on all seven glyphs. Here is a list of the items he touched.” She handed Sam a printout. The Major took it gladly. She needed some good news.
“Thank you, Doctor.” Sam said. Then she and Teal'c headed to the General’s office.
“Come.” General Hammond commanded at the knock on his office door.
Carter and Teal'c entered, each taking a seat in front of the General’s desk.
“Sir, we have the results from Criminalistics.” Sam said as she handed the list of glyphs to the base commander.
“Very well, Major. Good news I hope.” Hammond waited for her to summarize the sheet before he scanned it himself.
“They’ve isolated Daniel’s fingerprints on seven tiles.” Sam continued.
The General nodded. “At least that’s a start.”
“Now we have to use these results to narrow the search.” Sam said.
“I assume you have a strategy to do just that, Major.” Hammond looked briefly at the seven symbols on his sheet. Since he delegated such specialized details of the Stargate project to the expert personnel of the SGC, he only gave it a cursory glance.
“Yes, sir. After we exclude the seventh glyph as the unique point of origin, I can create a program to list all possible combinations of the remaining six symbols.” Carter took the paper as the General handed it back to her.
“Good. Update me as soon as you find anything.” General Hammond smiled encouragement.
Carter saluted and left, with Teal'c following close behind her.
Sam unlocked her office and hurried to her computer terminal. Then she and Teal'c both took a seat, waiting for the hard drive to come on line. The Major poured them each a cup of coffee as her machine booted up.
Where were they? Carter thought back over the last few days’ conversation, looking for clues. Eventually that led her to memories of her own behavior at the Colonel’s home. Given the day’s events, she regretted it all the more. The Major hoped it wouldn’t be another one hundred days before she could apologize.
Finally the SGC computer network was up and running and Sam set to work. The programming language was simple enough. Any first year programmer could run a list of all the permutations of a six-digit number. Fifteen minutes later she downloaded the results onto a disk. Then the Major looked to Teal'c, holding the small CD in her hand.
“Here they are, all 720 of them.” She frowned. The list was too long. How could they even search a fraction of them?
Jack opened his eyes and retched. The room was spinning so fast he thought he would be ripped apart. Clenching his eyes closed again quickly, he blindly crawled to a wall, pressed his back against it, and concentrated on regaining his senses.
Colonel O’Neill focused on reality. He knew the room was not spinning. In fact he doubted that any room could move as quickly as his mind was telling him this one was travelling. He was sitting on the floor. Now all he had to do was convince his body. Jack repeated the truth in his mind, fighting to get past the dizziness. Breathing deeply, he forced himself to relax little bit by little bit. After ten minutes or so he was confident enough in his control to open his eyes.
To his relief the room was no longer spinning, a victory of sorts. The Colonel turned his attention to his physical condition.
O’Neill looked at his arms, wrists manacled again. He examined the bracelets carefully, no seams to break and no play to squeeze his hands free. Each bracelet had a link that attached to the twelve-inch chain holding them together. He was relieved that they were in front of him this time. His shoulders still ached from having them pinned behind his back.
Jack continued to explore his body, looking for injuries. He was sore all over from that damn collar, now a metal band, snug around his swollen throat. And his forehead was on fire. Carefully touching the throbbing area he felt a metal object embedded there. About an inch wide at the base, it seemed to be a triangle. O’Neill probed the edges, but it hurt so much that he decided to leave it alone for now.
Underneath the pain there was something else. A strange buzzing rang in his head and he had no idea where the sensation was coming from. It was like his mind was now an open channel.
Daniel groaned, retching as he awakened as well. Jack hurried to his side, steeling his friend’s shoulders by holding him as he bent over, shaking.
“Easy there, Danny, get it out.” He whispered.
“Oh God…spinning…”the young man rasped in a panic.
Jack helped his friend sit up against the wall. “Focus on the wall, It’s not moving and neither are you.” He was firm, in CO mode.
The young man latched on to his friend’s certainty, trying to believe he was sitting still even though his head was spinning so fast he couldn’t see.
“Deep breaths….slower….slower…Good…Focus on the wall.” Jack commanded softly but firmly. He talked him through the worst of it.
Finally Daniel stopped shaking and was breathing normally again. He opened his eyes slowly. “Ahhh…” He moaned, the pain in his head replacing the spinning nausea.
“Tell me about it. It seems we’ve had our heads pierced.” Jack smirked, looking at the grey metal triangle embedded in his friend’s forehead.
Daniel saw the same on Jack’s brow and reached out to touch it, noticing the manacles for the first time.
Jack flinched. It hurt. “Hey! You’ve got your own.” The Colonel surveyed the room for the first time. It was about 20x20 all in white and brightly lit. But he couldn’t find a light source. An empty white cell, there were no doors or windows, no furniture.
“How do you feel?” He turned back to Daniel who was looking at the manacles, pulling them to test their strength, not happy when they didn’t budge.
“Aside from a really rotten headache, I’m fine. What about you?”
“I’m just ducky. What the hell is going on here?” He stated flatly, not expecting an answer.
“We’re in big trouble.” Daniel answered absently, still distracted by the cuffs.
“Ya think?” Jack quipped, knowing all too well that he was right. “How the hell did we end up here?”
“Well…I remember Makepeace and the rest of SG-3 at your house. He put a metal orb in your ear and suddenly you were in a trance. I guess they must have done the same to me.”
Jack nodded. “They did. I saw Arik pull it out with some kind of doohickey.”
“Right. The orb must have affected our minds somehow.” Daniel reasoned.
“So I guess it was more than a hangover.” Jack added grimly.
Suddenly a doorway appeared in the far wall. Orson entered with three burly guards.
“Did you sleep well?” He asked with the tone of a pleasant innkeeper.
“Great, thanks for askin’.” Jack’s smiled melted to an angry glare. “What the hell is going on here, Orson?” He demanded.
“You have been processed and after you change into your new uniforms you will join the others in the living hall.
He motioned to the guards and stepped back, letting them do their jobs.
The leader stayed with Orson while his subordinates assumed time-practiced positions behind the new acquisitions.
“Kneel.” He commanded.
“Here we go again.” Jack said. “My knees are a little sore from yesterday, can’t I just…” Another guard kicked the back of his legs and the Colonel lost his balance, manacled hands breaking his fall.
“OK, this is much better.” He gasped with a smile.
Daniel silently complied, wondering again why his friend insisted on doing everything the hard way.
Jack’s guard touched a button on his control device and a chain was suddenly attached to the Colonel’s collar.
“Arf, arf.” O’Neill smirked. “I have to warn you guys ahead of time, SIT is the only trick I know.”
“Silence!” The guard slapped him across the mouth. Jack felt his lips with his tongue. ‘No blood, I must be living right.’ He thought. The same smirk on his face, he was determined to push them as far as they’d let him. Knowing the enemy was Jack’s business. Every snide remark, every reckless move told him something about his adversaries. He filed that information away for the day when it would help him gain the upper hand. The guard pulled his leash behind him, anchoring Jack to the spot.
Orson handed the second guard a small bundle. He took it to Daniel, who accepted it suspiciously.
“Dress.” The large man ordered.
“I beg your pardon?” The linguist asked, hoping he hadn’t heard him correctly.
“Please do as you are told, Doctor Jackson. Change into your new uniform.” Orson was pleading. They were being so difficult. Why did he always get the ones who would not comply?
Daniel still hesitated, not wanting to change in front of an audience. “On our planet, strangers do not undress in front of each other. It is a cultural taboo.”
Orson nodded with sympathy. “Very well, come with me to a separate room and I will allow you to dress privately. But understand this Doctor, if you make any attempt to escape, the Colonel will suffer.”
Jackson nodded, looking at Jack, who was straining against the leash holding his head and the foot now holding his knees.
“Don’t worry about me, Danny.” O’Neill said, trying to tell his friend to make a break for it with his eyes.
Daniel turned back to Orson. “I understand, and thank you.” One guard followed the archeologist and Orson, leaving the other two to deal with the Colonel.
“Looks like it’s just us. What should we do to pass the time?” O’Neill asked playfully. The guard at the door threw him his new uniform.
“Dress.” He was tiring of the new prisoner.
“What about my taboos?” The Colonel countered.
“You will stand.” The guard let him up. His knees screaming, O’Neill was happy to comply. Next the guard touched a small device and the chain evaporated, leaving his arms to fall to his sides. Jack let out a grateful sigh. It was a relief to be free.
“Remove your clothing.” Colonel O’Neill wasn’t all that thrilled with the idea, but he was getting a little bored with the punching bag routine, so he complied. Soon he stood naked before them.
“Now what?” He asked, enjoying his role as chief pain in the ass.
“Here. Dress.” Neither guard seemed concerned about the Colonel’s nakedness. He was nothing more than a new acquisition to them. Jack shrugged and put on his clothes. It wasn’t fun anymore.
“This is it?” He asked. The guards ignored him. All the ‘uniform’ consisted of was a pair of really tight knee length white shorts. The revealing clothes made Jack more uncomfortable than being nude.
After his prisoner had dressed, the guard touched his control device again and soon Jack was wearing a leash and his wrists were chained.
Jack sighed. Captivity was hard on the knees. “What if I gave my word as an officer and a gentleman.” The guard kicked the back of his legs and he fell to the floor again.
“I guess you’ve read my file.” The Colonel gasped as he sat up slowly.
One guard held his leash from behind as the other stood watch across the room. O’Neill could only sit and wait hoping that Daniel would find a way to escape.
Sam was absently sipping her third cup of coffee as the computer continued to sift through the 720 addresses it had uncovered. She and Teal'c had decided to cross-reference the untenable list with the Abydos cartoushe.
The Jaffa waited silently across her desk. His patience seemed unlimited and Carter envied his calm.
Finally the computer beeped to announce the end of the latest search.
“481.” Sam frowned.
“I am afraid that total is still too large.” Teal'c said sadly.
“I know. We’ll have to find another way to narrow it.” Major Carter closed her eyes, focusing all her energy on the problem at hand.
Teal'c could feel his friend’s mind working. So he sat silently, weighing the options. “Perhaps we should create a new program to search for only addresses previously visited by our SG teams.” He suggested.
Sam considered her friend’s suggestion. “It would probably be safe to assume that whatever force influenced the Colonel and Daniel acted upon them before they reached that planet.” She reasoned.
“That would seem to be so.” Teal'c added. “There was nothing visible on P3X257 that would have contributed to their behavior.”
The Major battled through her hesitations. It was dangerous to limit the search by so many variables. The right planet could slip through their fingers and they wouldn’t even know it. But she had to be realistic. The SGC didn’t have the manpower to search the entire universe. She would be forced to make some difficult choices.
Carter sighed and met the Jaffa’s eyes with new resolve. “Alright, I’ll reformulate the search.”
Wearing the same tight shorts as O’Neill, Daniel followed his captor solemnly. “We are free beings, Orson. You don’t have the right to hold us against our will.”
The Nekaran turned to meet the young man’s eyes. “You should be honored. The Company issued a special order for your capture. Such a request is very rare.”
“Really…why us?” The linguist pressed.
“The men who defeated RA will sell many tickets to the Chair and the Box.”
“What are they?” Daniel asked cautiously.
“You will learn of those things soon enough.” Orson stopped at an empty wall. He pushed a button on his hand held control device and soon a door appeared. Jackson followed him back inside.
Colonel O’Neill was lying face-down on the floor, his hands outstretched in front of him, with one guard pulling his head back hard with the leash while holding him tight to the ground with a boot to the back.
Daniel wondered what his friend had done this time to make them so mad.
“Sorry to see you’re back.” Jack rasped with a smile. He had been hoping the young man would find a way to escape.
“I see you’ve been busy antagonizing our hosts while I was gone.” Daniel frowned.
“Are you kidding, they love me. Right guys?” Jack breathed a sigh of relief as the man let him up and all four moved to leave.
“Rest here for a few hours. Then you will join the others.” Orson said as he and the guards left.
O’Neill watched as the only exit disappeared again. He hurried to the empty wall to check for any evidence of its’ location. He found none.
“Unbelievable. I must have broken my own record this time. Back on Earth for three whole days before I’m trapped on some lousy alien planet AGAIN!”
Frustrated, he turned to Daniel. The young man was staring at him.
“What?” Jack asked, suddenly self-conscious.
“Are my shorts so…tight?”
“Ah, Yeah…” Jack answered with mock exasperation, looking down at his own appearance sheepishly.
“Oh…” Daniel frowned.
They both sunk heavily to the floor, lost in thought.
“Their technology seems to be incredibly advanced.” The archeologist mused after a few moments.
“Tell me about it. That trick with the bracelets is getting old.” O’Neill’s nerves took over and he started to pace.
Jackson stood, too. “It looks like they’ve discovered how to alter matter.”
The Colonel nodded out of habit, with no interest in what his friend had said.
Daniel knew Jack wasn’t listening, but that didn’t stop him. “Orson said something about the Chair and the Box. I wonder what he meant. Did the guards mention anything like that to you?”
“We didn’t talk much. They were too busy trying to teach me to roll over.”
The archeologist studied the metal triangle on his friend’s forehead like he was seeing it for the first time. “Let me get a closer look at that.” He said as he moved to Jack’s side and touched the object. O’Neill flinched-it was still a little tender and Daniel had cold hands.
“Sorry. This metal is not from Earth, that’s for sure.” Daniel examined the grey material.
“What’s this stupid thing for anyway?” O’Neill asked as his friend poked and prodded.
“I’m not sure. A brand maybe? Or maybe a tracking device.”
“Swell. Does your brain feel like FM 107?” The Colonel asked massaging his forehead.
“Ever since I woke up my head’s been weird. Like I have a radio station playing inside my brain.”
“Now that you mention it, I do have a strange sensation. Like static in my mind.” Daniel assessed his own condition for the first time. “I wonder if the triangles are responsible for that?”
“Good guess. Maybe we should just rip them out.” O’Neill started to trace the outer edges of the figure with his long fingers.
“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea. They might be linked to our minds some how. Then pulling them off might lead to brain damage. Until we learn more about what we’re dealing with I think we’d better let them where they are.”
Jack nodded. “Alright, I won’t do anything to it for now. We need to figure out how to break these chains, anyway.”
“Right.” Daniel stepped back from his friend and sat against the wall.
Jack resumed his pacing. Formulating any kind of plan would be difficult with so little information. Orson had been so damn cryptic. The Colonel tried to do an assessment of the situation. They were in a room with no windows or doors, their hands manacled, wearing the tightest shorts he had ever seen. Not much to work with there.
“All that pacing is making me dizzy. You should conserve your energy.” Jackson said
“I guess.” The Colonel sat heavily.
“There really isn’t anything we can do until we get out of this room.” The linguist felt helpless.
“I know. Why don’t you get some shuteye.” Jack told his friend. He would keep watch.
“OK, wake me later so you can do the same.”
“Sure thing.” Jack smiled. His face fell as soon as the young man closed his eyes. It had always been his experience that whenever someone goes to so much trouble to get to you they’re not planning to ask you to the prom. This was only the beginning and it was going to get a lot worse.
Later, the Colonel opened his eyes with a start. “Laira…” He muttered as he looked around the empty room, trying to get his bearings.
Daniel sensed his friend’s confusion. “We’re still in Lacitta.” He said softly.
Jack nodded, taking a deep breath. “Damn. I still wake up expecting to see Edora.” He scrubbed his hand over his face to clear his mind.
The linguist smiled. “Sometimes I expect to see Abydos, even after three years.”
“I’m not sure I want to hear that.” O’Neill was hoping his conflicting emotions would fade as quickly as possible.
“The difference is I don’t want to forget my time away. I think you do.” Daniel gently probed. No matter what their current situation, Jack was still carrying a lot of personal baggage that would have to be dealt with.
“I don’t even know. Hell, I wanted to stay.” There, he said it. It had been very difficult for him to come back to Earth and that was eating him up as much as anything about his time on the planet.
“But you didn’t. That’s what really matters.” Daniel tried to stay positive.
O’Neill’s cool demeanor turned frosty. “Are you sure? I bet if you asked Carter she’d disagree.” He scowled.
Jackson shook his head. “Sometimes you can be so dense. You don’t see what’s really going on with Sam.”
Jack waited. Daniel hesitated to reveal his friend’s secrets. But it seemed like the only way to help them both deal with their feelings.
“She’s afraid you don’t have faith in her. She’s looking for your approval.”
Jack was incredulous. “My approval? She’s the smartest person I’ve ever met. Without her we would have cashed it in a long time ago.”
“You know that and I know that, but have you ever mentioned it to Sam?”
Jack squirmed. “Not exactly.”
“I think she needs to hear it. She believes you settled in on Edora because you didn’t have faith in her ability to come to your rescue.”
“I don’t think I’d put it quite that way, but you need to talk to her about this before it becomes a real problem. She’s trying to find her place on the team, that’s all. Don’t take it personally.”
Jack nodded. “I’ll have to make sure she knows how important she is to SG-1”
“Good. Now what about your own place on the team?”
“I don’t think I know the answer to that question anymore. I used to be the commanding officer. But it looks like my new role is to be kidnapped, captured or marooned.” The Colonel started in disgust. “ I can’t believe we were nabbed after only two nights in my own bed. I need to start carrying some extra supplies for these long trips.” O’Neill laughed at their ridiculous predicament. SG-1 had the worst luck in the galaxy.
Daniel noticed how effortlessly the Colonel had changed the subject. His friend felt like a liability right now. Well the linguist knew a little bit about that. It was easy to take Jack’s strength for granted. But sometimes his invincible façade was expensive.
Both men were startled when the door reappeared. Colonel O’Neill jumped to his feet as Orson and four guards stepped inside.
“I hope you have rested.” The Nekaran said with all the warmth of an old friend.
“What now?” Jack asked, no pleasantries. It was time to get down to business.
“I’ve come to take you to your new home.”
Two of the guards came forward and grabbed Jack’s shoulders while a third touched his control pad, momentarily freeing the Colonel’s hands. Then they quickly pulled O’Neill’s wrists behind him and reactivated the manacles. One held his leash and one stood next to Daniel who couldn’t help but think of lion tamers subduing a lion as he watched them manhandle his friend so efficiently. They must have had years of practice.
Jack regarded them silently, his irritation building. It had been several years since he killed anyone with his bare hands, why the rough stuff? You’d think he was the most dangerous man on the planet. In fact, looking at the burly guards holding him, he doubted he would even make the top 50.
“We will go.” Orson led them out of the room and down a long corridor. Soon they were outside the building and among the people of Nekara.
Once again, Jack almost laughed at the looks of horror these two humans were getting from the man on the street. If this was the kind of person living in Nekara, maybe he was the most dangerous man on the planet. He made a show of scowling at them as they walked, delighting in their discomfort.
Daniel, on the other hand, smiled sympathetically, trying to engage them in conversation. “I am Daniel...” He would always begin. A young woman smiled at him until her husband pulled her away. Then a guard’s whack to the head knocked the linguist to one knee.
Colonel O’Neill turned at the commotion and moved in front of his friend. “Leave him alone.” He snapped. The guard smiled and a yank of his leash sent Jack stumbling backwards, barely keeping his balance.
Daniel rose to his feet, mildly dazed. “I’m alright.” He said, afraid Jack would push the guards too far and get hurt.
“Quiet.” Was all the guard said as he pushed them forward.
It took almost 20 minutes for the group to reach their destination. With the blistering sun high overhead, O’Neill was glad for his tight shorts. Still he was breathing heavily from the humidity hanging in the air. Both he and Daniel marveled at the size of the tube-like enclosures that made up the city. Transparent domes with small communities inside. One looked like a mini Las Vegas with all the neon and excess. Another was an art nouveau setting where Daniel assumed the citizens of Nekara lived.
Black and ominous, the last circle was not transparent like the others. Daniel assumed that whatever was inside was not meant for public consumption.
Orson placed a round device on the wall and an opening appeared. O’Neill made note of that. They would need one of those devices before they could have any hope of escaping.
Inside, it was a different world. Dark and dingy, it was more like a barn than living quarters. Small railing about a foot high sectioned out many ‘stalls’. Inside each fluffy straw covered the ground and there were small collections of supplies like blankets and water bags.
No one looked at them as they entered. Daniel saw haunted and distant faces, many covered with scars and bruises. And there were no women.
Jack noticed the men too. They all had the dead eyes of soldiers. This was not going to be fun. He scanned the room for weapons, supplies to create weapons and any other tools they could use. There were some interesting possibilities.
Suddenly the group stopped in front of an empty stall about seven feet square. Jack assumed this would be their new home. Again the guards grabbed him, forced his arms around to the front and manacled them there. Then he was unceremoniously shoved to the ground, hitting the back wall hard. Laughing painfully, the Colonel turned himself over and sat against the stone wall.
“Thanks for the lift, guys.” He smirked as he moved to break Daniel’s fall.
“Now that your are the property of Nekara, this is your home. Anyone caught outside their stalls at any time other than during a specified meal period will be executed.” The guard said with a hard glare for emphasis.
“We’ll keep that in mind. Come visit anytime.” O’Neill called after them as they left.
The linguist scurried to a seat next to his friend.
“Are you Ok?” Jack asked.
Daniel nodded. He looked around their accommodations. “I expected something a little more upscale, since we’re such valuable acquisitions.
“Even a prized thoroughbred sleeps in the barn.” The Colonel answered.
Jackson smiled thinly as he turned back to the other prisoners. “We should try to talk to them.” Before Jack could stop him, Daniel hurried to an adjoining stall.
“Hi, I’m Daniel Jackson. We’ve been brought here from Earth.” He began. The large men just stared at him.
‘Why does he always pick the biggest guy to talk to?’ Jack wondered. He got painfully to his feet and stepped between Daniel and the men. They mumbled what sounded like a low growl.
“Sorry ‘bout that…I’ll keep the family at home.” Jack backed away pushing Daniel behind him. Soon they were back in their stall.
“Jack what were you doing? I was just starting to establish a rapport with them.” Daniel whispered.
O’Neill turned to face him, his eyes burning with anger. “Are you nuts! Look around. This is a prison. You don’t just walk into your fellow con’s bunk and say how ya doin’!”
“With all due respect, Jack, these people are probably just as much victims as we are. If we all work together we could escape.”
The Colonel’s voice was almost inaudible. “You have to be alive to break out. I expect you to work harder to keep that in mind. Even if our new friends are victims too, that doesn’t mean they won’t slit our throats for our water rations.”
Daniel scanned the room again. The other men certainly looked rough, but it had been his experience that they would have to make some friends to survive here. “Alright. I’ll be more careful.”
“Good.” O’Neill sat down against the wall again. Putting on his best ‘don’t mess with us’ face, he took in every detail of their new home.
Daniel sat too, watching the men, looking for a way to reach them.
Suddenly Jack’s heart fell as he saw a really large man strutting towards them. “Stay quiet.” He whispered. The archeologist lowered his eyes, trying to become invisible.
“I am Cade. This is mine.” He growled.
The Colonel stood. “O’Neill, and you can have it. All we want to do is get out of here.”
The giant man laughed. “You have been here less than one cycle and already you plan to escape. There are men who have lived here more than ten thousand cycles. No one gets away.”
“Everyone keeps telling me that.” Jack answered mildly. “Yet here I am.”
That only made Cade laugh harder. “This scrawny Tau’ri and his little friend amuse me.”
O’Neill smiled weakly, bracing for a fight.
“You challenge me.” It sounded like a statement.
“Look Andre, all we want to do is get out of here in one piece. You can be king of this ‘empire’ for a million cycles. Just leave us alone and we’ll leave you alone. Sound fair.”
Daniel winced. Jack really had a way with words.
Cade was getting angry. Solomon had warned him that O’Neill would not submit easily. But as the chief’s agent it was his job to be sure that all new acquisitions accepted their fate as quickly as possible. That guaranteed there would be few instances of disobedience witnessed by the paying customers. Solomon had assured him long ago that if too many prisoners had to be disciplined in front of the citizens of Nekara he would pay with his own head. That was language the big man understood. Cade motioned to the two neighbors Daniel had approached. They joined him without a word.
“You will yield to me.” The giant man’s voice boomed over the entire room and soon there was silence.
“Why work up a sweat over an old Air Force Colonel. We’ll just sit in here and mind our own business from now on. Couldn’t we just agree to disagree and let it go at that.” Jack protested casually, knowing what was coming.
The two men grabbed O’Neill’s arms and held him in front of Cade.
“No one challenges me.”
Daniel stood, hoping to reason with the man, afraid for Jack’s life. “Wait, we mean you no harm.” He started.
O’Neill shot him an angry glare that froze the young man in his tracks. The Colonel cursed under his breath. He had to keep them away from Daniel. Even thought the linguist was brave in his own right, he was not equipped to handle the kind of beating these thugs were capable of handing out.
“Come on, if this is some kind of welcome to the block thing, let’s get it over with. I have muffins in the oven.” The Colonel quipped to draw their attention back to him.
Cade hit him hard with a closed fist to the stomach. Jack doubled over, the power of the blow knocking the wind out of him. That man could throw a punch!
Daniel kept his head down. Not knowing what else to do. Jack needed him to stay clear-headed, wait for a chance to do something. But he was no soldier. He wished Sam or Teal'c were here. They’d know how to save their friend. All he could do was sit and watch.
“238.” Sam said aloud, her voice sad and frustrated. She and Teal'c had narrowed the list of possible gate addresses by every filter they could think of and that was the best they could do. It wasn’t nearly enough.
“There are no other sorting methods to include in our search?” Teal'c asked, their failure making him more and more anxious.
“I don’t think we dare take it any lower. The risk of losing our target is too great. It’s time to talk to the General.” She removed the disk and led the way to General Hammond’s office.
Several blows to the head left Jack reeling. There were enough stars in his brain to fill the whole galaxy. One last kick to the back of the knee and Cade motioned to his men who threw O’Neill down in a heap.
“This territory is mine-you’re inside now, so you’re mine too.” The Giant growled and walked away.
“I’ll take that under advisement.” The Colonel quipped painfully. Daniel hurried to his friend’s side, helping him lean against the wall.
“Ahhh…that went well.” Jack put his head back, his eyes closed. Not much of a beating on the Jack O’Neill butt kicking scale, but his head was pounding, his chest was on fire and his knee was throbbing.
“How do you feel?” Daniel asked, helping his friend move into a more comfortable position.
“I’ve had worse. Nothing’s broken. I just need time to catch my breath.”
“Thank goodness for that. I’m sorry I provoked them.” Jackson covered his friend with a blanket.
“It’s classic strategy, target the new guys, show them who’s boss. I don’t think you had anything to do with it.” Jack scrubbed his hand over his face and grimaced. “Just don’t go looking for any more new friends, OK?”
“OK. You should get some rest.” Daniel pushed the hair out of his friend’s eyes.
“Watch out for hostiles.” O’Neill laid his head back. “Wake me if anything funny happens.”
“I will.” Daniel nodded.
Jack drifted off, glad for a moment’s rest.
The linguist watched his friend as his breathing became more regular. The bruising on his chest and face was bright purple, including a black eye. But no one knew better than Daniel how resilient Colonel O’Neill could be. He would be fine.
The linguist watched the room, hoping no one would meet his eyes. Look for something funny-easier said than done. It all looked funny to him. Men held prisoner this way should be working together, not fighting each other. But Jack would call him naïve. Lord of the Flies, that’s the model here, not Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. He had to try to be more suspicious, think more like a military man.
“How is he?” A stranger suddenly stood in front of Daniel. The archeologist hesitated, moving close to his friend.
“Ah…Why?” He asked, eyeing the man with suspicion.
“I know of you two. You defeated RA.”
Daniel said nothing, not sure if he should wake the Colonel.
“My name is Krel. I am a prisoner too. When I saw you, I hoped that you were here to free us. But you are slaves...”
“We’re nobody’s slaves.” Jack answered, groggy.
“I hope that is true.” Krel bowed with respect.
“What can we do for you?” O’Neill asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm and pain.
“Nothing…I will leave you to rest.” Krel bowed again and left, sensing the Colonel’s foul mood.
“I told you to wake me.” The Colonel groaned as he sat up and looked at his friend critically.
“He seemed harmless and you needed the rest.” Daniel was defensive.
Jack’s tone softened. “Fair enough. Just be careful. Think of this as a prison. And jail is not a fun place. Especially for fresh meat.” O’Neill closed his eyes again.
Jackson thought about it. ‘Fresh Meat’. That sent a chill through him. They were so overmatched. What could they really do?
General Hammond watched patiently as the remaining members of SG-1 each took a seat in front of his desk.
“Where do we stand, Major?” He asked finally.
“After adding every viable filter to the original list, we’re left with 238 addresses to search.” She frowned.
“238. That’s quite a few more than I had hoped for.”
“I know” Sam examined the floor.
“Was Edora on the list?” The General asked.
Just the mention of the name made Carter tense. “Yes sir, it was.” She looked at Hammond’s desk for the first time and saw that the General had been reviewing Colonel O’Neill’s report from their last mission.
“Then that’s where we’ll begin. How quickly can you two be ready to accompany me?”
Sam was thrilled to start doing something. “We’ll need about thirty minutes to gather our gear, Sir.” She answered with enthusiasm.
“Very good. Since that was the Colonel’s home for the last three months it makes a logical starting point. Something may have happened to him there, or one of the locals may have noticed something that could shed some light on this whole situation. Either way, I intend to have a few words with them. Ready your gear and meet me in the Gate room in 45 minutes.”
Sam saluted and turned on her heel. She and Teal’c left the General to make arrangements for their departure.
As she hurried to the armory, Carter was deep in thought. She had so much to say to Laira, heck what she really wanted to do was rip her heart out for making the Colonel give up. But now she wondered if the people of this agrarian paradise had done something to Jack. What she wouldn’t give to find him and Daniel on Edora safe and sound.
“Standard field gear, I suppose.” She said aloud as they entered the armory.
“Indeed.” Teal'c answered.
“What do you think of all this, Teal'c?” Carter turned to him as they selected their weapons, the usual P90’s.
“I do not know. Certainly Edora is the logical starting point due to the Colonel’s extended visit. However I do not believe he is there.”
“Why?” Sam asked.
“Colonel O’Neill chose to return to Earth. He would not then abandon his duties and go back. And DanielJackson would have had no reason to accompany him.”
“What if Jack was coerced?”
“The Edorans are a simple people. They do not appear to possess the technology.”
“You might be right.” Major Carter finished checking her weapon, satisfied that it was perfect.
“But appearances can be deceiving.” She handed Teal'c his staff.