So - a new story from me. Please don't worry - I haven't left off Spring Cleaning and will return to it shortly. I have had the flu the last few days and haven't felt like writing. When I did, I was in the mood for whump! So please be warned - the following chapters are full of detailed and gratuitous whump. If you don't like that please do not read! It is extremely whumpish, whumpful, whumply, etc. Very, very full of whump. And did I forget to say there was lots of whump?

For those of you who like whump - I hope you enjoy. I don't plan for this to be a long story, but you never know with me.

It's funny, he thought, how much humans cling to hope, even when reality shows them clearly that there isn't any.

It was a lesson he should already have learned, years ago, when he'd heard that gun go off. He'd known it as soon as he'd seen his son's body, but still, all the way to the hospital the hope had been there that maybe, just maybe his son would be all right, would survive.

But he hadn't and Jack had known it all along, in spite of the hope. He should have learned his lesson that day. He wondered why he hadn't.

Because through the succeeding years hope had won out many, many times, that's why Jack. How often had they – his team and him – been in hopeless situations, situations where they were certainly going to die – but where they'd survived? He didn't think he could even count the number. All of those instances had taught him to believe, to hope. He laughed again, softly, weakly. He should have known better.

So now he was letting go of hope. The Goa'uld had told him to do that a long, long time ago – he didn't even know how long he'd been here – but he'd refused to listen. He'd laughed at the bastard and refused to give up. His team would find him. They'd keep looking and they'd rescue him and take him home. He knew it, he believed it, he kept hoping for it.

And he'd been wrong. They weren't coming and he was stuck here for the rest of his miserable life. God! This time he sobbed – although again silently – he no longer had any hope of rescue, and he couldn't hope for death because the Goa'uld would make sure that wouldn't happen.

For the first time in a long time he felt utter, complete and absolute despair. Hope had died.

It had been a simple mission – a reconnaissance mission. They were to go and simply observe – and not engage the enemy. They'd had a report, from the Tokra of course, of a new base being built on planet P – something or other – and Sg1 had been sent to gather intel. At first everything had been fine and they'd watched and collected data and information.

It was on their way back to the gate that it had all gone wrong. Daniel hadn't been watching where he was going and had tripped and fallen. Unfortunately they had been walking on a steep path and when he'd fallen it had been down a hillside. He wouldn't have gotten much more than a few scrapes and bruises – and a lot of teasing from his team leader – except for the fact that a passing Jaffa patrol was at the bottom of the hill.

As soon as Daniel had tumbled down, the Jaffa had shouted out and headed towards the hurtling human. Jack had cursed and had taken off down the hill after his archaeologist, followed closely by Carter and Teal'c.

The battle was quick and the Jaffa were soon eliminated but Jack was pretty sure they had already alerted their comrades back at their camp. "To the gate people – quickly."

He'd had to help Daniel, who appeared to have sprained his ankle, while Carter ran ahead to dial the gate. Teal'c watched for any other patrols.

"I'm sorry Jack", Daniel whispered.

"Forget it", Jack answered, "Accidents happen. Let's just get to the gate."

"But -"

"Not now Daniel! I need to listen for the enemy."

He could feel Daniel nod and almost smiled when he thought of the amount of guilt Daniel was carrying. If – no when they made it home he was going to milk this for all it was worth. He could probably get the younger man to accompany him to a few hockey games as penance.

They almost made it. Jack could see Sam and the open gate and Teal'c waiting ahead. He felt himself start to relax when a zat blast hit the tree right beside him.

"Teal'c – get Daniel to the gate!" Teal'c ran up and grabbed Daniel under the arm and hurried towards Sam. Jack turned and began to lay down fire. If he could hold them up for a few seconds they all had a chance.

He actually made it to the stairs and watched as his teammates entered the event horizon. He was only a step away when the blast hit him in the back. His last thought was damn – no hockey.

He woke up in the sarcophagus, a feeling of dread and fear washing over him. He couldn't do this – not again.

The face that stared down at him wasn't that of Ba'al – a small mercy that – although it certainly wasn't a pleasant face. Handsome – yes – kind and considerate – definitely not.

"Bring him!" the face snapped. The next thing he knew he was being dragged behind the scum-sucking Goa'uld.

He realized a second later that he wasn't on the planet any longer, but was instead on a ship – a mothership if his memory served. Crap! He just prayed they were still in orbit or it was going to be tricky for his team to find him.

They arrived at the ostentatious, over-the-top, flamboyant and pretentious throne room where he was immediately forced to kneel. He debated standing, but didn't feel like being wacked in the back, so decided to stay down – at least for now.

"Who are you?" the deep echoing voice asked.

Hmm? He wondered briefly if he should give his real name, but then decided against it. He was too notorious and there was too big a price on his head. "My name's Zaphod Beeblebrox", he answered seriously.

He only just caught the nod and the next thing he knew he was flat on his stomach, his back throbbing from the whack from the staff weapon.

"Ow! Whatcha do that for?" he complained.

"Do not lie to me", the Goa'uld said menacingly. "What is your name?"

He pushed himself back up. "Uh – I thought that was a good name. Okay, okay", he held up his hands when he saw the nod again. "My name is John Carter.

"Oooph!" he was on his stomach again. "Why do you keep doing that?" he asked as he pushed himself up again – this time more slowly and more painfully.

"We will keep doing that as long as you keep lying to me."

"How do you know I'm lying?" Jack asked curiously.

"What. Is. Your. Name!"

Jack sighed. "Okay fine – my name is Homer Simp – AAARGH!" He screamed as the pain stick was applied between his shoulder blades. By the time Jaffa stopped he was on the floor – again – tears flowing freely down his face and his whole body shaking.

"Your name?"

"Jack", he gasped, "It's Jack."

"Jack what?"

He forced his head up to look at the sadistic monster in front of him. The Goa'uld knew exactly who he was and had been playing with him the entire time. The bastard.

"Why are you asking if you – already know?" he managed to ask. He then cringed in fear when he saw another nod and the pain stick was applied. "O' - NEILL", he screamed. "It's – Jack – O'NEILL!"

Another nod and this time the pain stick stopped. Jack just lay there, feeling sick and dizzy – and frightened. Whoever this was, he knew what he was doing.

"So Jack O'Neill – of Sg1. Why were you on Thesona?"

"Thesona? I have no – AARGH – STOP!"

"You will not lie to me. We can continue this until you die – after which I will revive you and ask again. Why. Were. You. On. Thesona?"

"I – assume – that's the name of the – planet – where you – captured me?" he gasped.

"Of course."

"Oh." Jack forced himself to look up the Goa'uld but after a couple of seconds closed his eyes and laid his head back on the floor. "Don't know."

The next time he woke up it wasn't in a sarcophagus, but rather in a cage. It was too small for him to stand up in or to lie out fully. He had to curl up in a ball, which was hard considering the fact that he felt like hell. He was pretty sure he'd pulled a bunch of muscles – the others were all totally cramped up. He ached in every muscle and joint in his body. Ached? That was a feeble word. He was in agony.

He remained in the cage for what felt like days, although it was probably more like a single day, considering how thirsty he was – thirsty but not yet in danger of dying of thirst. He was still in pain and would have given anything to stretch out – and to have someone inject him with a nice big vial of morphine.

Just at the point where he wanted to start begging for water the door to the room opened and Mr. Sadistic Bastard approached the cage.

"And how are you feeling Jack O'Neill?"

He wanted to respond with some witty remark, but discovered that you need at least a minute amount of saliva to speak properly. All he managed was a cross between a groan and a gurgle – and then felt like he was going to throw up. And wouldn't that be fun?

The Goa'uld – hell, he didn't even know which Goa'uld, ordered his men to open the cage. The next thing he knew he was being dragged behind SB (formerly known as Sadistic Bastard) and back to the ornate throne room. He was again thrown on the floor.

"So, shall we try this again?" the Goa'uld asked. "Why were you on Thesona?"

Jack opened his mouth and immediately gagged. He then started to cough and couldn't catch his breath. The coughing caused his muscles to protest – very vigorously – and he wanted to cry. A moment later he felt a glass being held to his lips and he allowed the cool liquid to enter his mouth.

There was only a momentary sense of relief before he realized that it wasn't water he was being given. He tried to spit whatever it was out, but they pulled a Netu on him and the guards held his nose and poured the liquid in his mouth.

After he'd drunk half a river-full the Jaffa let him go – to fall in an ungainly heap on the floor.

"What was that?" he asked. "Truth serum?"

"Truth – what?" The Goa'uld shook his head. "No", he smiled. "The only truth in that is the truth of the pain it will cause. The drink was made from the root of the coralai tree. It is toxic and causes extreme pain, nausea, dizziness and disorientation. The effects last quite a long time and can be deadly if not treated."

"Why?" Jack croaked out. He knew the Goa'uld liked torture, but it was usually done with a reason.

"Why? Because you disgust me", the Goa'uld hissed. "You humans think you are better than us – that you will defeat us. But you will not. We shall conquer you and you shall obey us. And I'm going to start with you. By the time I am finished with you, you will do my bidding and gladly." He turned to his Jaffa. "Take him back to his cage."

Good old SB had been right. The stuff – from whatever the tree was called – did cause terrible pain, nausea, disorientation – oh, and he forgot diarrhea. Jack writhed in agony for hours, covered in filth. He was left alone in the cage with nothing – and wanted to die.

Eventually the pain started to lessen and he began to return to reality. The first thing he noticed was the smell and the fact that he was covered in vomit and worse. Through the remaining pain he felt a deep sense of shame, even though it hadn't been his fault. Still, he wanted nothing so much as to crawl away and hide.

They left him like that for hours and the despair grew. However, through it all remained a strong sense of hope that his team would find him – or they'd get the Tokra or Asgard out looking and soon he'd be rescued. He wouldn't allow that thought to die.

A while later some Jaffa entered, their faces covered with masks. The held a hose between them and the next thing he knew he was pushed to the back of the cage, his body forced against the bars by the pressure of the water.

They sprayed him for what felt like hours, until he was shivering so badly his teeth actually chattered. Eventually they stopped and he was left in a shivering heap on the floor of the cage. He barely registered the fact that the door was opened and he was dragged out. The next thing he knew his clothes were being cut off of him. He was then thrown back, naked, into the cage.

He'd managed to drink some of the water that had been sprayed on him, so his thirst was quenched but other than that he was miserable. He was freezing and lay in the cage shaking. All he could think about was getting warm.

By the time they finally came for him – by this time he'd totally lost track of time – he was blue with cold. He couldn't walk, so they dragged him down the long corridor back to the thrown room. He heard laughter as he was dragged and knew it was because he must look like an insane –and very naked – mess.

"So – Jack O'Neill, you have returned. How did you enjoy the experience?"

Jack couldn't get the energy to respond, although he knew that he would probably suffer as a result. He was almost surprised then, when nothing happened.

The Goa'uld stared at him for a moment, a smile on his face. "So – this is the great Jack O'Neill, scourge of the Goa'uld?" he laughed. "Now you are nothing but a pathetic slave. Your life is mine to use as I please. Before that however, you will tell me, why were you on Thesona?"

Jack tried to swallow, tried to speak but was too weak, too dry, too cold to do more than grunt. A moment later a glass appeared at his mouth and he quickly turned his head. Not again!

"It is just water", the Goa'uld explained. "Drink it."

He didn't have the energy to fight so turned his head and took a small sip. After that he opened his mouth and drank greedily – it was water. Once he was done the Goa'uld again asked him "why where you on Thesona?"

"No – reason", he managed to say. "We like to – visit – different – planets. I'm thinkin' – of retiring – and am lookin' for a good – place."

He heard the sigh and grimaced, not knowing what was coming, but sure that something was. When nothing happened he eventually lifted his head and checked out the Bastard. "What's – your – name?" he finally managed to say.

The Goa'uld laughed and held up his hand to stop his First Prime – who looked as if he was going to attack the human. "I am Raijin, your god."

"Sorry Raisin, you're not my god", gasped Jack. A moment later he screamed as the pain stick was placed on him. This time the Jaffa didn't go for his back but between his legs. He wondered briefly if there would be permanent damage.

"You really are a very stupid man, aren't you Jack O'Neill?" Raijin asked. "All you have to do is answer my one question and this will stop."

"And you'll let me go?"

"No", the Goa'uld answered. "I told you – you are to be my slave. But you can suffer pain as my slave – relentless pain – or you can obey me and not feel pain."

Jack took a deep breath, wondering if it really mattered if he told the guy why they were there. It's not like they were doing anything other than gathering information. If Raisin knew that it might not be a good thing either. "Not your slave", he murmured. "I'm free and always will be."

The Goa'uld watched the man on the ground for a few more moments, almost admiring the courage and foolishness of the Tauri. "Prepare him", Raijin told his Prime. He then walked slowly over to the quivering human. "Listen well O'Neill", he said softly, "from this moment on you are nothing but a slave. You no longer have a name but will be referred to as Surebu. Now take him."

Jack was dragged by the Jaffa, but not back to his cell. This time he was taken to what looked like some kind of workshop. He was pulled over to a metal table in the middle of the room and thrown on it. His wrists and ankles were tied to the corners and then they left. He was all alone.

He had no idea what was to be done to him, but he was frightened – probably more frightened than he ever had been, except when in the hands of Ba'al. He closed his eyes and again prayed that his team would come. They were good at miracles and now would be the time to pull out a big one.

But they didn't come and Jack lay there, all alone, cold and terrified. The longer he waited, the more the fear grew. He knew that that was what the sadistic bastard planned. Torture wasn't only physical. Sometimes the psychological was worse.

He'd totally lost track of time before the door slid open and someone arrived. He immediately turned his head and a man – he thought it was a human – approached him. He was dressed plainly, not like a Jaffa, and had no expression on his face.

"So, who are you?" he croaked.

The man didn't respond, didn't even look at him. He simply turned and walked to the side of the room where there were cupboards and a long counter with a number of objects laid out. Jack couldn't see much from where he was, but he didn't think the things there meant anything good.

"Uh – my name's Jack. Who are you?"

Again there was no response at all.

"Okay, why don't I call you Marvin?" he said. There had been an old guy who'd lived down the street from him when he'd been a kid. He'd terrified a young Jack because he never said a word, he just stood and stared at the young boy. For some reason this guy reminded him of that man.

A few minutes later 'Marvin' returned. Without speaking he grabbed Jack by the hair and lifted his head. He then quickly placed something around his neck.

"Ow! What are you doing?"

Again silence. A few seconds later Marvin took something that looked vaguely like a corkscrew and placed it against the metal collar around his neck. There was a vibration and then agony as something burned. It fortunately only lasted a few seconds, but his neck continued to hurt.

"What the hell was that?" he gasped. By this time he didn't expect any reply but kept talking, more to comfort himself then anything.

Over the next few minutes the silent man moved back and forth between him and the cupboard. He placed metal bracelets on his wrists and then his ankles, each time holding the small tool against them – Jack figured out it was to seal them closed. There was now no way to get them off without cutting them.

Once finished with that Marvin moved up to the table and stared down. Jack was shaking from a combination of cold and fear, but there was no way in hell he was going to let that defeat him. He scowled at the guy. "Cat got your tongue or do you not understand me? What is wrong with you?"

The next thing Jack knew, his mouth was wrenched open and something was placed between his teeth. He tried to fight it, tried to bite the guys fingers off, but obviously he was well used to this and in a few seconds Jack was lying there with his mouth forced open.

He watched as dear sweet Marvin retrieved a new tool and returned to him. All he held was some kind of long metal rod. It didn't look too bad, but Jack was pretty sure it was. There was nothing good coming his way,that he knew.

The pain was excruciating and he started to scream, but within seconds the screams died out. It wasn't because the pain stopped, but because his voice went away. The rod had been placed down his throat and then turned on. Marvin held it there for a few seconds, until Jack was silent – the only evidence of his pain the tears streaming down his face.

The thing was taken out from between his teeth and he was able to close his mouth, but the pain in his throat continued. He didn't know what had been done, although he suspected. He was pretty sure he would no longer be able to speak.

There was only one thing more he had to endure before he was again dragged back to his cage. His silent torturer walked over to him, a long metal rod in his hand, it's end glowing. Jack closed his eyes, knowing what was coming.

This time his scream was silent and mercifully he passed out after a few seconds. In those seconds though he'd known. He would wake up with the mark of Raijin on his chest.

A bucket of freezing water thrown in his face brought him back to consciousness. It only took mere moments before he felt the pain return. His chest and throat were agony – on top of all the other pains that had accumulated since he'd been taken captive.

Four Jaffa were standing outside his cage, laughing and making comments about him. He couldn't understand them as they were speaking Goa'uld, but he could tell ridicule when he heard it.

The next thing he knew he was being grabbed and pulled out of the cage. Rather than being forced to stand and walk he was shoved to the ground. One of the Jaffa leaned over him and the next thing he knew, a chain had been attached to the collar around his neck.

"Come Surebu! Come dog!" The Jaffa pulled on the leash and began to drag him by the neck. He started to choke, all the while the Jaffa laughed at him. He was eventually able to get to his knees and quickly crawl, just so that he could breath.

"He will make a good pet", one of his guards said.

"And quiet!", one of the others laughed. "No barking!"

"No, that's true. Come Surebu!"

Jack wondered for a brief moment what Surebu meant. He was pretty sure it wasn't anything good, but that was the least of his worries. He was half dragged down the hallway as it was impossible to keep up with the Jaffa on his hands and knees. He'd tried a couple of times to stand, but had always been pushed down.

"Dogs don't walk on two legs!" he'd been told.

Eventually they made it to the throne room, where he was dragged, red-faced and choking up to where Raijin was sitting. He was thrown down in front of the Goa'uld, where he stayed, too exhausted and in too much pain to move.

"Ah, he has been prepared, that is good. I have guests tonight and I want to show off my new prize. Can he speak?"

"No, his voice was removed."

"Good, good." Raijin stood and descended the two steps to his throne down to where Jack was lying. He took his foot and kicked the prone man. "You would not answer my simple question Tauri, now you can no longer speak. But that is as well as now you are nothing but my pet." He turned and sat again. "Iwai, take him away but bring him back when I call you."

Jack lifted his head slightly, to see Raijin's First Prime walk toward him. This must be Iwai, although it didn't sound much like a Goa'uld name. He wished briefly that Daniel were here. He'd know who that was.

The next thing he knew he was again being dragged by the neck out of the throne room and back to his cage. Iwai opened the door and basically kicked him inside. The door shut, was locked and he was left alone.

- alone with his thoughts and his pain. He knew things were bad – very bad. In fact, he had a suspicion that he had officially entered hell with no way out.

He tried to gently clear his throat, hoping that whatever had been done was only temporary, although he knew -it probably wasn't. It meant that even if he was rescued his career would be over.

He felt a wave of despair wash over him and laid his head down on the cold floor. For the first time in many years, he began to wish for death.

He'd fallen into a light doze, in too much pain to actually sleep, when the door to his cell opened and then he was grabbed and pulled out by the chain attached to his neck. The Jaffa didn't speak to him but simply pulled him down the hallway. They arrived at the throne room and waited.

Jack could hear Raijin speaking and laughing inside. His guests must be here, he realized. Suddenly he could hear the Goa'uld announce a 'surprise' to his guests. At that he was dragged forward.

Guess I'm the surprise, he thought.

"You have heard about the fiercesome Tauri", Raijin cried. He was standing and speaking dramatically to the group at the table below him. Jack glanced over to see another Goa'uld and what looked like a delegation of important people – or Goa'uld, Jack wasn't sure which, sitting and listening to Raijin.

"And you have heard of their leader, Jack O'Neill? Well, I am pleased to inform you that he is now nothing but my slave, my pet! Iwai, bring him forward!"

He was again dragged to the base of the throne, choking and gasping for breath. As soon as they got there Iwai grabbed him and forced him to kneel. The chain attached to his neck collar was placed over a hook on the wall. Iwai then grabbed his arms and pulled them behind his back. The next thing he knew, his wrists bracelets were attached to those on his ankles. It left him in a horribly uncomfortable position – forced to stay upright, on his knees, with his hands forced behind him. If he tried to relax he would be strangled by the neck collar and chain.

"See him now!" Raijin crowed, circling around his prisoner. "He is Surebu – a mute slave good for nothing but my pleasure!"

There were exclamations of surprise, laughter and congratulations from the assembled guests. They had all seen the Goa'uld empire be decimated, one System Lord at a time, so it made all of them pleased to see their biggest enemy vanquished and humiliated.

The banquet went on for hours while Jack was forced to kneel. His entire body throbbed in anguish and there were many times he was sure he was going to pass out and strangle himself. At one point he even decided to just go for it, figuring they'd bring him back in the sarcophagus if he died. As much as he hated the damn thing, he was almost at the point that he no longer cared.

The only thing that stopped him was Iwai's voice, telling him that if he died he would be revived, but he would be punished horribly for doing so. That made Jack decide to hold on.

As the evening wore on, a number of the guests wandered over to him. None of them spoke directly to him, but they made numerous comments and ridiculed and laughed at him. A few of them even decided to hit and slap him. One of the women took her nails and scored them down his back. The entire time he stayed still, refusing to give them the satisfaction of responding.

Eventually the evening came to a close and the guests retired to their rooms. Raijin came over to him and stared at him for a moment. "I love my little pet", he whispered. "Take him back to his cage", he yelled to Iwai. "He is not to have any food or water until I command it. Enjoy your new life Surebu!"

Over the next days – weeks – months – Jack lost all track of time, the torture and humiliation continued. By this time they had moved from the mother-ship to a planet, but his life didn't change. He was still relegated to a small, dank cell with a cage in the middle of it. He would sometimes be left in his cage for days at a time, only receiving water and the occasional meal when Raijin thought about it. He knew he was slowly starving, but figured the Goa'uld didn't care. He could always bring him back in the sarcophagus.

The worst was when they denied him water. Then the guards would force him to beg for it. He suffered so much from thirst that he would do it – begging like an animal without a voice.

When they did feed him or give him water they wouldn't let him use his hands. They would be restrained behind his back and he'd be forced to drink and eat out of a bowl with his mouth only.

For a long time he'd tried to hang on, to tell himself that help would come and he would be rescued. He refused to let them destroy his humanity, even if they did treat him like an animal.

Slowly though, he was worn down. No one ever spoke to him, other than to give him commands. He was continually ridiculed and humiliated in a hundred ways – often being paraded in front of Raijin's guests or servants, made to kneel for hours, naked and cold. If he tried to look anyone in the eye he was punished. If he was too slow obeying an order he was punished. If he tried to stand or reach for anything he was punished. Slowly, surely, everything was being beaten out of him.

Most of his days were spent curled in a ball in his cage. Often his hands were kept restrained behind him. It was too small for him to lie out and his muscles suffered permanent cramps. It was cold and there was nothing in the cage with him – not a blanket, a bowl or even a toilet. Every few days the Jaffa would come by and use the hose to clean him and his cage but in between he got used to lying in filth.

But strangely, as horrible as it was, his cage became his one refuge. Here no one hurt him or punished him. When he was inside he was left alone. Just like an animal he began to feel safest when in his small sanctuary. It was his space.

Soon he began to exist mainly in his own mind. Unable to handle the real world around him, he retreated. At first he had made himself concentrate on better times. He thought about his family, his team, about his friends and his home. It was hard at first – hard to divorce himself from the painful reality in which he lived. But over time it became easier – easier to tune out the world and concentrate only on his memories.

He wasn't totally separate from reality though – not yet. In fact he tried to take control back one time by killing himself. He knew that it wouldn't really make a difference – but he had to try just in case they'd gotten tired of him and would leave him dead.

On each of his ankle and wrist bracelets there were metal loops that could be used to attach ropes or chains. One of them had broken and he used the sharp end to cut open his wrists. It was incredibly painful as he'd had to really dig, rather than using a sharp knife, but eventually he'd done enough to know it wouldn't be long before he bled to death. He faded slowly – his last dying thought his son.

Of course he woke up in the sarcophagus – and was punished for trying to kill himself. They impaled his hands to a beam and left him to hang for hours. He passed out eventually but not before he knew he would never try to kill himself again – not unless he could be sure to do it in a way that they couldn't put him back together. Unfortunately, he knew there was little to no chance of that.

So now he no longer lived or hoped – he simply existed. Jack O'Neill was no more. In his place was Surebu – an animal existing for the pleasure of a Goa'uld System Lord.

"We are to take Surebu to the throne room", the Jaffa instructed. "Our Lord has guests and he wants to show him off again."

The First Prime laughed. "He has become Lord Raijin's favorite pet. It is too bad his mind is going. I don't know if he even knows what is happening anymore."

"Maybe he needs a bit more pain to remind him?" the Jaffa replied. "There are things we have not tried yet."

Iwai regarded the slave dispassionately for a moment. "We shall wait until Lord Raijin's guests have left and then we shall see."

Raijin was in his element. There was nothing he enjoyed more than showing off his wealth and power to guests. He had been one of the fortunate ones who had stayed out of the way of the Tauri. He knew better than to try and do battle with them – instead he had moved his empire to the outskirts of the galaxy and stayed away from them and from the Tokra.

Still, sometimes he felt isolated, so when traders came he loved to entertain. He also loved to boast about his conquests, especially the capture of the great O'Neill.

Today he was entertaining a minor Goa'uld by the name of P'tah. It was someone he hadn't come into contact with before, but that didn't matter. He almost preferred the less powerful ones – it allowed him to show himself off even more.

P'tah was accompanied by a number of servants and by his concubine, Ishrani. Raijin found her beautiful and wondered if P'tah would sell her. He had been without female companionship for too long and needed a warm, voluptuous body between his sheets – and she certainly was that.

"Is all prepared?" he asked his manservant, while he kept his eye on the concubine.

"Yes my Lord."

"And is Iwai bringing my pet?"

"He is my Lord."

"Good, good. I love it when they see what I have done with the dangerous O'Neill of the Tauri." He turned back to his guests. "I have a little surprise for you tonight", he announced.

"Surprise?" P'tah asked. "I hope a good one? I am ready for something pleasant with all the bad news across the galaxy."

Raijin frowned briefly. It was true – the Tauri were making more and more headway in their fight against the Goa'uld. For the first time Raijin had begun to worry, as the Tauri seemed to move ever closer to his home world. But then he smiled. No – he had proof that the Tauri were not invincible. "Then I think this will be very pleasant for you. Bring him in!" he called to his servant.

The doors opened and the guests, P'tah and his concubine and the servants with them, watched as a man was practically dragged into the room. He was crawling – if it could be called that – on hands and knees. He was naked, his hair long and unkempt and his beard tangled. He was nothing but skin and bone and looked half dead.

The concubine Ishrani frowned, but when she caught Raijin's eyes on her she smiled. "What is this? It looks like some slave. Did he do something wrong to be punished so?"

"Ah, he is not just any slave!" He walked over to the man who was now still, although he was swaying as if barely conscious. Raijin lifted his chin so that they could better see his face. "Have you heard of O'Neill of the Tauri? Well, this is what is left of him."

P'tah stood suddenly, his face looking shocked. He opened his mouth as if to speak but then closed it just as quickly. At Raijin's look he immediately relaxed and smiled. "I was surprised all right my Lord, surprised and – pleased. It shows what a mighty and powerful god you are to have captured such a one."

"Yes, yes, that is true", Raijin agreed, appearing pleased. He looked over at the woman. "And what about you my dear? What do you think of my little surprise?"

The woman swallowed, her eyes focused on the man in front of her. It took her a moment to answer, but at Raijin's frown she lifted her head. "My lord – I do not wish to doubt you, but are you sure this is O'Neill? It does not look anything like the warrior I have heard so much about."

Raijin laughed and let go of his prisoner's chin. He stepped back and nodded to the guard who was holding the man's leash. "Pull him up so they can see him better", he said. "He looked much different when he arrived, I can assure you. We have had to – train him carefully you see. He is now my pet but used to be uncooperative." He turned and spoke to the slave.

"Isn't that right Surebu?" he asked. When the slave didn't answer he kicked him in the side. The only response he got was a feeble nod of the head, but that seemed to be enough for the System Lord. He laughed and moved back to his seat. "He now obeys me. It amuses me to see him. It proves that the Tauri can be vanquished. It is just that my brother Goa'uld have been too soft!"

"That is so", P'tah answered, reaching over and taking piece of pastry. "You would do well to tell them the best way to defeat the Goa'uld."

"Yes", Raijin looked as if he was considering it, but then sat back. "But I am happy here on my world. If they are unable to handle them well, that is their problem. Now come – you must eat! There is more good food to come."

The Goa'uld and his concubine talked and laughed with Raijin, all the while that the slave Surebu knelt beside them, his eyes glazed and his breathing shallow.

Finally the evening was over and Raijin retired to his chambers. As he left he motioned to the guard. "Remove him and place him in his cage. You can give him water tonight, but no food. Watching us eat was certainly enough for him."

He said goodnight to his guests and then left. P'tah and Ishrani watched as first Raijin left and then the guard who pulled the slave from the room. Neither the System Lord or his servants saw the faces of the guests. If they had, they might have worried.