"I think I have it," said Sam in a hushed voice to Daniel. "The light in the sky – we've seen it before, when we first got here, the ribbon of matter that the Doctor pointed out."
Sutekh rose from his throne. "What is this 'ribbon of matter'?" he demanded.
"It figures he'd have good hearing with ears like those," said Daniel.
Sam turned, her mind racing. "I'm not sure. I could be wrong. I don't even really know what it is."
"It's called the Maktor cloud," said the Doctor, striding into the room as if he wasn't a prisoner at the wrong end of a staff weapon, "and the flash of light was caused by a small portion of it igniting in the planet's atmosphere. An event that will occur again this very night, if I'm not mistaken."
Behind him, Jack and Teal'c entered, visibly relieved to see Daniel and Sam still alive.
Sutekh rounded on him, his green eyes flashing. "And this will give me my powers?"
"On the contrary," said the Doctor. "The ignition of the matter in the cloud creates a potent nerve gas with some rather interesting properties. Harmless to humans, it sends the natives of this world into paroxysms of religious ecstasy. It's why they always hold their holiest ceremonies around the time of the conjunction of this planet with the cloud. Oh, it's also highly poisonous to Goa'uld symbiotes. That's why I allowed myself to be captured, you see – so I could warn you, get you off the planet. You know how I hate to see another creature suffer. So, if you'd just come along, like a good Osirian…"
"You lie!" said Sutekh, raising his hand weapon.
Before Sutekh could activate the device, Palmer stepped through the door, and began firing. Shot after shot ripped into Sutekh's torso, sending him staggering back against his throne.
Palmer turned to aim at the Doctor, but at that moment he caught sight of Scherer, whose body was slumped against the side of Sutekh's throne. With an inhuman cry of anguish, he dropped his gun, ran across the room and threw his arms around the man's corpse.
"My god," said Jack, catching his first sight of Scherer. "What happened to him?"
"Sutekh has the power to animate dead flesh," said the Doctor, grimly, "similar to the technology of the sarcophagus. When Sutekh was killed by Palmer the power that animated Scherer was cut, but I'm afraid your comrade had already been dead for a long time."
Similarly, the guards in the room, with no master to protect and no orders to follow, had also fallen still.
"Let's go home," said Jack, his voice quiet. "Gather up your stuff. The least we can do is see that Scherer and Lawson get a proper burial."
"Sir," said Sam, "Lawson's gone. Sutekh, he…"
"Memorial then," snapped Jack, sickened by everything that had happened. "Let's just get out of here."
Suddenly, the room was filled with a dull, red glow.
"The Maktor event," explained the Doctor. "Quite harmless now. Under different circumstances I'd recommend it as one of the most beautiful sights in the universe."
"Beautiful?" With a low moan, Palmer rose to his feet and staggered towards the Doctor, his face contorted with rage.
Jack turned. "Palmer, stand down – that's an order. Just let it… look out!"
Stirring in the throne, his green eyes bright against the glittering red of the Maktor event, Sutekh rose to his feet. He stretched out a hand towards Palmer who stopped as if grabbed from behind.
Palmer began to shake, his feet rising from the floor.
"Jack," was all Palmer managed to say, before his body was incinerated from within, bursting into ash in a second leaving Sutekh standing in a cloud of cinders.
"No!" cried Jack.
"Run," yelled the Doctor. "All of you, get out now!"
The robot guards remained still, Sutekh having no need of them now, so SG-1 managed to make it through the door and down the corridor, the Doctor close behind. Unhurried, revelling in his power, Sutekh strode after them.
Jack and his team ran through the ship, eventually finding the main door.
"Come on!" shouted Jack as they made it outside. Outdoors, the Maktor event looked like red crystal rain against the dark night sky.
"Where's the Doctor?" said Sam, looking back inside the doorway.
"We can't go back in there," said Jack. "We'd be toast. Take up positions around the doorway. All we can do is to try to take Sutekh by surprise."
"O'Neill," said Teal'c, pointing to the edge of the crater where flashes of bright orange light could be seen against the red sky, "the village."
"This is a religious event for the creatures on this planet," said Daniel. "They could be celebrating. Some sort of firework, perhaps?"
"That is staff weapon fire," said Teal'c.
"Sutekh's robots?" asked Sam.
"Too many of them," replied Jack. "Alright, we stick to the plan. Get in position around the door, but keep an eye on that ridge. We do not want to be outflanked here."
o o o
The Doctor stood in a corridor of the Goa'uld ship, his eyes blank and staring.
"How quickly the mind of a Time Lord falls to my power," whispered Sutekh, from behind the Doctor, "the vaunted Gallifreyan intellect overcome."
"Actually," said the Doctor, blinking, "I've become quite adept at resisting mind control since our last meeting. I was just trying to give the others time to escape."
Sutekh hissed, his nostrils flaring. With a flick of his hand, he sent the Doctor sprawling against the wall. "Fool! You only seal your own doom."
"That's where you're wrong," said the Doctor, brightly, picking himself up and dusting himself off. "Before you kill me, you really should take a look outside. You see, I've just remembered what day it is."
"What is this trickery?" snorted Sutekh, walking towards the exit from the ship. "You cannot hope to fool me. With my newfound power I am all but invincible."
"Jolly good," said the Doctor, following him. "Shall we?"
o o o
Jack looked in the direction of the village, and saw that the flashes of weapons fire had died away.
"God, it must have been a slaughter," said Daniel. "It's happening again."
"Actually, it's happening for the first time," said Sam. "What we saw was the aftermath, long after the event."
"Have I mentioned how much I hate time travel?" asked Jack.
"O'Neill!" said Teal'c, readying his staff weapon and gesturing towards the ridge.
"Aw, crap," said Jack, as the unmistakable figure of a Jaffa soldier came into sight.
"Oh, crap!" he said again. Coming up behind the Jaffa was the largest Goa'uld army Jack had ever seen. They filled the edge of the mile-wide crater and spilled down towards them.
"Fall back!" yelled Jack. "Behind the ship!"
They scurried for cover, staying low, fearing that at any moment the army would unleash a volley of staff weapon fire and knowing that if it did there was nothing they could do to survive.
o o o
Even before Sutekh had reached the door, he could hear the thunder of booted feet running towards the ship. He stepped outside and was immediately hit by several staff blasts. Undaunted, he raised a hand and returned fire with solid red bolts of light that flew from his fingers. Stepping back, he took cover in the doorway as he cut down another half a dozen Jaffa with a shot from his hand.
"Sorry Sutekh old chap," said the Doctor. He ran forward and barged Sutekh through the door, sending them both tumbling into the dust. The Doctor quickly scrambled to his feet and ran to the side of the ship, staff blasts blowing craters in the dirt around him.
His hopes that the Jaffa army would only be interested in Sutekh were dashed when he glanced over his shoulder and saw three Jaffa chasing him. Holding onto his hat, he picked up the pace and rounded the corner of the ship.
Whirling around, he saw the Jaffa raising their staff weapons to fire.
"Goodbye," said the Doctor, and jammed his sonic screwdriver into the control panel for the ring transporter. The rings sprung up and teleported the Jaffa away.
"That should hold you three for a while," he said.
Jack stepped out from behind the ship and gestured for the others to follow suit.
"Colonel O'Neill," beamed the Doctor. "Shall we head for home?"
"Uh, Doctor?" said Jack. "What about Sutekh? What about the honking great army of Jaffa and Goa'uld?"
"Oh, they'll sort each other out," replied the Doctor. "They did last time. And the time before that. And the time before that…"
o o o
Sutekh stood by the doorway of his temple, firing blast after blast into the massive army. As he did so, their staff weapons tore into him, his body charring, his robes hanging in tatters from his body.
Around him stood Jaffa bearing the emblems of all the System Lords; of Baal, of Osiris, of Lord Yu. The soldiers of Ra fought alongside those of Apophis. Hundreds of minor Goa'uld also lent what power they had to the effort.
And the battle was starting to go their way. Sutekh felt his power ebb away, his strength fading. He fell to one knee and, as staff weapon fire continued to pound into him, he sank to the dusty ground. A blast to the shoulder spun him onto his back and he lay staring into the crimson rain of the Maktor event, the source of the power that had now left him.
A throng of Jaffa gathered around him, their weapons pointed down at him. Through this crowd, Sutekh saw the System Lord Baal looming over him, a cruel smile twisting his face. On his left hand was a jagged metal gauntlet whose fingers ended in curved blades which glinted red in the light from the sky.
"Lord Sutekh," said Baal, "It is the decision of the System Lords that you should be parted from your host and held in static confinement for eternity, your host body destroyed and the creatures of your world put to death. Power such as yours would lay waste to all creation. The balance of the galaxy must be maintained."
He flexed the fingers of his gauntlet. "Turn him over," he said.
The last thing Sutekh felt, before he was torn from his host body, was five bladed fingers, sinking into the back of his neck.
Baal lifted the squirming, gasping symbiote and placed it in a waiting canopic jar, which was lifted by a burly Jaffa soldier.
The deed done, the members of the unusual Goa'uld alliance turned and made their way back to the Stargate, each of them aware that the various truces would only hold for as long as it took to secure Sutekh in his prison.
o o o
"That makes no sense," said Sam.
"Of course it does," replied the Doctor. "The Sutekh whom the Goa'uld have just imprisoned was the one who escaped. That left the Sutekh who left through the Stargate, as we saw in the temple carvings, for me to deal with in 1911, when I set a trap that locked him into a time loop."
"And the time loop…"
"We're in it. Escape and capture, over and over, for eternity."
"See? That makes no sense!"
"What a mess," said Jack, looking out over the battlefield. Jaffa lay dead in their hundreds, in a rough circle around the crumpled, smoking body of what was once Sutekh. "Let's get Scherer and get back home."
o o o
The central column of the TARDIS console fell still as the time machine arrived at its proper time and place. The Doctor operated a control and the doors opened, revealing the briefing room of Stargate Command.
Teal'c lifted the body of Scherer, which they had wrapped in a makeshift shroud made from an old bed sheet found somewhere in the depths of the TARDIS, and stepped through the doors.
"Doctor?" said Jack, nodding towards the door.
"Well, I don't usually stay around at this point," said the Doctor, "but I owe General Hammond that much at least."
"Thank you, Doctor."
o o o
The Doctor knocked on the door of General Hammond's office.
"Come in," said Hammond, quietly.
"General," began the Doctor, closing the door behind him and taking off his hat, "no apology I could make could ever make up for the loss of your men, but for what it's worth, I am truly, truly sorry."
"I know. And you know that all of my men are prepared for the worst every time they step through that gate. What's done is done."
The Doctor sat down on the opposite side of Hammond's desk and lapsed into a pensive silence.
The two men sat for a minute in quiet contemplation until Hammond straightened up and cleared his throat. "So, where next for you?" he asked.
"Oh, you know, see where the TARDIS takes me," replied the Doctor, standing up and placing his hat back on his head.
Hammond smiled and stood up, extending his hand, which the Doctor shook, warmly.
"Take care out there, Doctor," said Hammond.
"And you, General," replied the Doctor, with a wide grin. "And you."