The Theft of the Thief by Cleo the Muse

"One should hold fast one's heart; for when one letteth it go, how quickly doth one's head run away!"
-- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra


Sarilis Camir, former bounty hunter and mechanic extraordinaire, looked up from the power generator she was attempting to repair when the door to her shop opened. Expecting to see one of the Berelli brothers or some other boisterous mercenary, she was surprised to see Vala Mal Duran walk through the entrance. The notorious thief and occasional tenant glanced around the shop's interior quickly, then made her way to the worktable. "Hello, Sarilis," she grinned.

"Vala," the older woman acknowledged. "What brings you here? Steal something that needs fixing?"

"Actually, no. You'd be surprised how much even a damaged al'kesh brings on the market these days."

Sarilis snorted. "You managed to steal an al'kesh?"

The dark-haired thief draped herself dramatically across the chair opposite the shopkeeper. "Well, first I stole a Kell suit, then I stole a tel'tac."

Sarilis' jaw dropped. "How did you get a Kell warrior's suit?"

"Andron got one from a Jaffa rebel... and it's not like he could use it, he's far too short and tubby."

"Vala!"

"The tel'tac was pretty badly damaged, so I used it to get to an al'kesh. Unfortunately, the Jaffa on board weren't too keen on giving it up, so it wound up in shambles, too--hyperdrive was totally shot, and sublight engines weren't much better. Basically, I had two ships and both were junk."

The shopkeeper shook her head in amusement. "How'd you get it back here, then?"

Vala propped her feet up on the table and tipped her chair back, idly playing with the streak of white in her hair. "I sent out a distress call. After all, I had promised Tennet O'Voran I'd get him a ship in exchange for the naquadah he promised me, so I figured if someone were stupid enough to answer my signal, I'd relieve them of their ship instead."

Sarilis noticed, for the first time, that the normally conspicuous garb of the thief had been replaced by a one-piece blue suit, not at all dissimilar to her own comfortable work clothing. Simple boots covered her restless feet instead of the high-heeled, impractical footwear Vala so often favored. "I take it things didn't go well."

"Oh, it went perfectly well. A suitably large but distressingly primitive ship arrived shortly thereafter. They sent a few people aboard my al'kesh, and I zatted them all before ringing aboard their ship."

"'Zatted'?"

Vala grinned. "Apparently what they call getting shot by a zat'ni'katel."

"I like it."

"So do I. Anyway, I made my way through the ship, systematically shooting people and sending their unconscious bodies to the al'kesh. When I reached the control center, I didn't even have to shoot: they took one look at the big, bad Kell warrior and surrendered."

Sarilis fitted two pieces together, then wiped her grimy hands on a rag. "Then?" she prompted.

"Well, I thought I had ringed everyone off the ship. Suddenly, I felt a kind of shockwave go through me."

"Come again? I thought the Kell suits were impervious to zat'ni'katel and staff blasts?"

"Oh, they are, but whatever weapon he used on me penetrated. It didn't really affect me any--'he' being the only person on the ship I hadn't managed to disable--but I was naturally concerned another shot might, so I zatted him, too. Of course by that time, I was already quite far away from the al'kesh, so I could hardly turn around and drop him off with his friends."

"You kept a hostile alien on board?"

"Not an alien, Sarilis, a human. A quite handsome one, too, so I thought I'd keep him."

"I'm not surprised."

Vala sighed dramatically. "Too bad he didn't see things my way. I tied him to a chair, and when he woke up, he wasn't even scared of the big, bad Kell warrior. Seems he thought that weapon of his should have killed me--maybe it does work on a real Kell warrior--and wanted to know what I'd done with the rest of the crew." She giggled. "Actually, he did seem quite disturbed the big, bad Kell warrior thought he was attractive."

"Have you looked at the groin armor on that thing?" Sarilis snorted.

"Good point. He figured out pretty quickly that I used to be a host--smart man, that one--and adamantly refused to help me in anyway. Fortunately, I was able to switch around a few control crystals in their engine room and re-write the command codes. Before I got to do anything else, though, my prisoner escaped and pointed a zat at me. I disarmed him, of course, and after some rather invigorating foreplay, I was able to knock him out."

Sarilis choked. "Foreplay?"

"Yes, we threw each other around for a while and I ended up kissing him before I was through. Turns out he wasn't completely out, though, and managed to get his zat back. I woke up in a cell, wearing these clothes. I have good reason to believe he was a perfect gentleman while I was naked, though I'm sure I wouldn't have done the same had our places been reversed."

"Vala!"

"Did I mention smart and attractive?"

"Only once or twice."

"He was really quite sweet, actually. He fed me all the food I could eat and listened patiently to the little sob-story I fed him. Then he locked me back in the cell anyway."

"Yes, you did say he was smart."

"Sarilis!"

The shopkeeper grinned wickedly. "Yes, dear?"

"You're supposed to be on my side," Vala pouted. "I'd already programmed the ship to meet Tennet, so all he could do was enjoy the ride. You see, my little tale was spun around a dramatic, noble deed: the rescue of an entire civilization from the hands of Ba'al. Once we'd landed, Mister Chivalry donned my Kell suit and went out to meet Tennet and his little henchman. Unfortunately, the Goa'uld ships in the system detected our arrival and started shooting."

She put her feet back on the floor. "Actually, that primitive ship took a considerable beating quite well before Daniel agreed to let me out of my cell so I could help him. We raised the shields and lifted off, trying to escape before we took too much damage, but ran into more gliders and al'kesh. Our shields were failing and we were about to take a serious pounding, when his people showed up in the al'kesh I thought I'd left disabled and took out one of the enemy ships."

"Resourceful people."

"So it would seem. And just when I thought I knew how his mind worked, he zatted me again! Fortunately for me, the rest of his people weren't nearly as careful about keeping me safely confined. I managed to escape, ring back to the al'kesh, and make off with it. So here I am!"

"Glad you made it back okay," Sarilis said genuinely.

"Oh, me too. Is my stuff still upstairs? I really need to slip into something more uncomfortable."

"Vala, my dear, you're the only tenant I have. So long as you continue to pay for the space, your belongings stay where they are." Sarilis picked up another component and began scraping corrosion off it.

"Thanks," Vala smiled. "Actually, Sarilis, the real reason I came to talk to you was for information. Have you ever heard of the Tau'ri?"

She dropped the component in shock. "The First World?"

"Ah, that's why the name seemed familiar! Now why would he mention that old legend?"

"Vala, the Tau'ri aren't just a legend, they're real. Ra, Apophis, Sokar, Osiris... any of those names familar to you?"

"Of course. They're all dead System Lords."

"They're all dead System Lords killed by the Tau'ri." Standing, Sarilis walked to the cabinet where she kept her old bounty hunting gear. Opening one drawer, she removed a small holographic displayer and carried it back to the worktable. "This is a Goa'uld bounty marker," she explained.

"Oh, please, Sarilis, I know what those are," Vala scoffed.

"But I bet you've never seen this." She pushed a button and the display came to life, projecting a string of Goa'uld symbols which basically translated to WANTED DEAD or ALIVE. "These are the Tau'ri," Sarilis explained. "The four whose pictures are contained in this marker are known as SG-1, and almost anything bad that's happened to any of the System Lords in the last decade can be attributed to them."

The first image was of gray-haired, handsome man, his left eyebrow bisected by a faint scar. Colonel Jack O'Neill, read the accompanying text, former host to the Tok'ra dissident, Kanan. Known Tok'ra collaborator. Known member of the terrorist faction known as SG-1. Complicit in the deaths or defeat of Apophis, Cronus, Hathor, Marduk, Mot, Nirrti, Ra, Seth, and Sokar. The reward listed caused Vala to straighten up eagerly.

"Keep in mind, this information is a few years old," Sarilis said casually. "I'm sure the bounty's gone up considerably since the Tau'ri killed Osiris and defeated Anubis."

She pressed the button again, and the image changed to a blond-haired, attractive woman. Major Samantha Carter, former host to the Tok'ra dissident, Jolinar of Malkshur. Daughter of Jacob Carter, host to the Tok'ra dissident, Selmac. Known Tok'ra collaborator. Known member of the terrorist faction known as SG-1. Complicit in the deaths or defeat of Apophis, Cronus, Hathor, Marduk, Mot, Nirrti, Seth, and Sokar. The bounty for the woman was equal to that of the man.

The next image was not of a human, but of a large, dark-skinned Jaffa. Teal'c, read the accompanying text, former First Prime of Apophis. Shol'va. Leader of Jaffa rebellion. Known member of the terrorist faction known as SG-1. Complicit in the deaths or defeat of Ammaunet, Apophis, Cronus, Hathor, Marduk, Mot, Nirrti, Seth, and Sokar. When the figures for the Jaffa finally appeared, Vala gasped.

"I could buy I new ha'tak for that!" she cried.

"Oh, it gets better," the former bounty hunter assured her, and pressed the button one last time. "This last one's worth at least two ha'tak, the last I heard."

The final image was of a brown-haired, spectacled young man. Daniel Jackson. Known Tok'ra collaborator. Known member of the terrorist faction known as SG-1. Complicit in the deaths or defeat of Ammaunet, Apophis, Hathor, Marduk, Ra, Seth, and Sokar.

Sarilis had the privilege of seeing something she thought she never would: Vala at loss for words. "Impressive rewards, aren't they?" she grinned.

"That's..." Vala sputtered.

"A bit confusing," Sarilis agreed, turning the marker off. "The one with the fewest System Lords to his name has the biggest reward! Apparently, Anubis and Osiris upped his price to twice that of the shol'va over a year ago, making him more valuable than any Tok'ra. He must've really done something to make Anubis want him captured that badly."

"That's my Daniel!" the thief finally managed.

"Your Daniel?" Her eyes widened in shock. "Holy fire, girl, you actually captured Daniel Jackson?"

"I didn't know who he was!" Vala cried. "Well, actually, he told me his name, but I certainly didn't think he was number one on the Goa'uld Most Wanted list! He seemed too... nice."

"Nice? The single most valuable bounty in the galaxy and you thought he was nice?" Sarilis shook her head in amusement. "It's a good thing I'm not in the business anymore, else I'd have you introduce us! Goa'uld bounties pay well when you actually get paid, but getting a System Lord to keep a promise? Too dangerous for me, these days. Besides, what do I care if a few rebels overthrow the Goa'uld?"

"Can I have this?" Vala asked impulsively, picking up the marker.

Sarilis frowned in puzzlement, then as realization began to dawn on her, she smiled. "Sure. It's out of date, anyway." But I bet that picture of 'your' Daniel is close enough to current, she thought. That girl has got it bad. She chuckled to herself, watching as the younger woman turned the marker back on and scrolled to the last image. Vala Mal Duran, thief extraordinaire, has had her heart stolen by that handsome, nice Tau'ri, Daniel Jackson!


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