The Roswell Experience

By Eliza Hayes

"Can you believe it?" Nigel smoothed down his red hair for the umpteenth time. "Dr. Tobias, the head of NASA, is giving us an award for our working robotic model of a dragonfly today."

"No, I can't." Jack mumbled dispiritedly. He looked at four future scientists who were about to expire from excitement. "This ends all my hopes of dating in this decade."

"Jack, not even you can be blase about this." Mark undid his tie. "We're here at NASA in Maryland as Dr. Tobias's guest."

"You should be thankful, Jack." Denise went over her thank you speech. "We did the work. You get the glory."

"Jack did discover the faulty component." Dennis argued. He knew his sister was jealous of Jack and, as a brother, he gleefully rubbed it in. "He also assisted with the design of the solar unit. Without him we wouldn't have won."

Jack just snorted, not trusting either one of the 'Bobbsey twins'. At first, Denise reminded him of Carter but she was vindictive when proven wrong. Dennis was no better. The smarmy little weasel! Jack was relieved that Original Jack made arrangements to rent a cabin in Virginia for a little fishing. The last thing he wanted to do was sightsee with the geeks.

Their advisor opened the door and informed the kids it was time to leave for the auditorium. Nigel and the twins headed out.

"Damn." Mark pulled his tie off again.

"Here!" Jack grabbed Mark's tie. In a flash, Jack finished the knot. "Don't touch it."

"Thanks, Jack." Mark checked his tie out in one the mirrors in the room.

"Just like a scientist." Jack said. "Can give me an equation for almost anything. But ask him to do something simple like tying a tie!"

"Well you know me, the idiot savant of ties." Mark grinned in good-naturedly. "It's better than being an idiot."

"Let's go, savant." Jack laughed.

"Okay, idiot." Mark's hand headed for the tie. Jack smacked it away. "Ouch."

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Major Riley finished up the final report of the last mission. Ever since the failure of his team in Roswell, New Mexico, all of his assignments were milkruns. At least this one had the perk of being in Atlantic City. He looked up as Donaleigh and a stranger rushed in.

"We've got a location on the aliens." Donaleigh vibrated with tension. He knew how important this information was to his commander. "This is my contact, Dr. Mendez, with the NID. A couple of his subordinates recognized the one called Max from the agency's most wanted. "

"Where are they?" Major Riley's face shifted. He wanted to kill those creatures now more than ever.

"A motel in Virginia." Donaleigh looked hesitant. He glanced at Mendez. "One problem..."

"What problem," Major Riley snapped.

"We want to capture the aliens alive." Mendez stated. " See if they have any weakness."

"Are you out of your mind!" Major Riley banged his fist on the desk. "One of them destroyed an Air Force base by itself."

"We understand the risks." Mendez said to Major Riley. "Do you understand what an army of these hybrids can do? We need to analyze their DNA. And, in a controlled environment, check the limit of their powers. "

"Why us?" Major Riley asked. "Surely you have teams in Virginia."

"None with your experience." Mendez lied. NID teams had more than enough experience to capture the aliens. However, if he used them, his immediate supervisor would replace him as lead scientist. No way would he allow that to happen.

The room was quiet as Major Riley paced back and forth. He finally stopped in front of Dr. Mendez. "All right, I'm in."

"I'm authorized to give you whatever you need." Mendez stated. "We're setting up a temporary base in Arletta, Virginia."

"We need stun guns and grenades for six squads of ten men each." Major Riley said. "We'll take three squads with us and leave three here on stand by. We need two personal carriers and two jeeps. And radios for all the men. And I also need the layout of the motel."

"I'll take care of it." Mendez quickly jotted down some notes.

"Now, about security for the base..." Major Riley started.

"Don't worry about that. It's already being taken care of it." Mendez stated.

"Have a plane ready to go in an hour." Major Riley picked up the phone to contact commander of the squads.

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Liz Parker Evans glanced up at her husband, Max and smiled. They spent their second anniversary in a dingy but clean motel, located in a little south of Luray Virginia, and ate at a small diner similar to the one Liz's parents owned minus the alien menu and waitress' swaying antenna. What made it so romantic in Liz's eyes was that they were alone!

"It's time to meet up with the others." Max packed his clothes in a small backpack.

"I know." Liz said with a small sigh. As much as she loved her friends, she wished she had a few more days alone with Max.

Liz and Max stepped out of the hotel with their bikes. The air was clear and crisp with just a hint of the heat to come. Both of them bore the weight of their backpacks easily as they pedaled back to the campsite a few miles away.

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Major Riley saw the plan come together. His vehicles and equipment were at the Luray airport when he arrived. They spent fifteen minutes gathering the necessary information and equipment. Everything was going like clockwork. Although the car was driving twenty miles over the speed limit, it felt like eternity until he saw the ancient motel.

"Surround the motel." McMurphy spoke into his headsets. "Stop anything that moves."

One of the squads did just that while the other two methodically broke down the doors of all the rooms.

"They're not here, sir." Donaleigh ran up to Major Riley.

"Major, I spoke with the desk clerk." McMurphy came up from behind Donaleigh. "Max Evans and a girl left about half an hour ago by bike. It looks like the aliens split up."

"Agreed. He's probably on his way to meet the others." Major Riley tapped the roof of the car. "We passed a strip mall coming up here. We'll see if anybody there has seen them before going on."

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"You were flirting with her." Maria shouted at her currently off-again boyfriend, Michael Guerin.

"I was just being helpful." Michael shouted right back.

"Don't give me that! You nearly fell in her shirt." Maria responded. She was quivering with righteous indignation.

"I was changing her tire." Michael claimed as Kyle came out of the tent. "Ask Kyle!"

Maria turned to Kyle with blood in her eyes.

"I know NOTHING." Kyle answered his hands up in the classic surrender pattern. "NOTHING!"

"Chicken," Michael mumbled as Maria turned back to him.

"Buc, buc," Kyle turned to make his escape and almost knocked over Liz and Max who were walking their bikes down the wooded path. "Thank God, you two are back!"

"What's going on here?" Max asked with a disapproving frown. "I could hear you two from the road."

"Michael was flirting with a bleach blond bimbo." Maria's eyes glittered with rage.

"I was changing her tire." Michael was frustrated with Maria in particular and the situation in general.

"Where's the van?" Liz injected, hoping to distract the couple from their argument. "We planned on leaving in a few hours."

"Isabel took it." Michael took the change of subject gratefully. "She said we needed more supplies."

Liz and Max looked at one another figuring out easily what happened, Isabel skipped out for some much-needed quiet time from the Maria-and-Michael show.

"Let's finish packing up the camp," Liz said to Maria. Maria looked like she was going to say something but, much to everybody's relief, she followed Liz into the tent.

Maria started rolling up Michael's and her sleeping bag while Liz started on Isabel's. Maria looked up to find Liz frozen with a look of horror on her face.

"Liz, what is it?" Maria cried out shrilly. She placed her hand on Liz's shoulder.

The guys came running at Maria's cry. Max crowded into the small tent pushing Maria out of the way.

"It's Isabel." Liz choked out.

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After the ceremony and a long tour of NASA with the adult and baby geeks, Jack was relieved to be away. He still couldn't believe he made the honor roll in physics, mathematics, and foreign languages. And now he was in a national program for gifted students. All he wanted to do was get back to Cheyenne Mountain and the Stargate. At this rate, he might end up being a scientist instead of an air force officer and wouldn't that be just perfect.

Jack saw a grocery store and decided to stock up on supplies. He parked and got out of the car. He saw a beautiful young woman get out of a van and briefly checked her out. It was Isabel.

She walked towards the large grocery store, unaware that Jack was admiring her. She was absent-mindedly playing with two rings on her left hand when one of them fell off. Isabel followed the rolling ring. As she was bending over to make a grab at her ring, Jack shoved her out of the way of a speeding car.

Isabel fell to her knees. Jack used his body to protect her. The wind lifted her hair as a black Lexus sped by. After a moment, Jack got to his feet and held out his left hand for Isabel. In his right hand, he carried a small travel bag.

"Are you alright?" The boy checked her for injuries and found nothing more dangerous than skinned knees. Isabel was wearing shorts.

"Yes." Isabel responded, looking at her knees. "Thanks."

"Don't mention it." Jack held out his hand. Isabel shook it feeling a slight static shock. " I'm Jack O'Neill."

"Isabel Ramirez." Isabel turned her attention back to the street and bent down to pick up the ring.

"Why don't we go to Grandma's to see if we can clean your knees?" Jack asked as Isabel picked up the ring wincing a little as she stood up.

"Grandma's?" Isabel thought Jack looked innocent enough but no way was she going to a stranger's house.

"Grandma's Old Fashion Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor," Jack pointed to the a little restaurant with the name barely crammed onto the sign. "Might be good idea to get out of the middle of the street."

"Alright," Isabel responded, after a moment hesitation. Jack looked nothing like Alex but somehow his smile reminded her of him.

They entered the restaurant and looked around for a booth. The atmosphere seemed to embrace them living up to its name. The wooden tables with cream-colored tablecloths and matching napkins gave the place an old-fashioned air.

"Can I help you?" An elderly man asked.

"A table for two," Jack said. The host turned around and led them to an isolated booth.

A waitress immediately came out with water, silverware and a menu.

When the waitress left Jack unzipped a side pocket of his bag and pulled out some Band-Aids and antiseptic. "I was a Boy Scout in a previous life."

To the shock and embarrassment of both Isabel and Jack, Isabel burst into tears. Her sobs sounded almost painful as her shoulders shook violently. Jack discovered in his long life that the best thing to do in a situation like this was to keep quiet.

After a few minutes, Isabel choked out a mumbled 'sorry', feeling wretched and humiliated. She finally got her crying under control.

"Don't worry, I've been there." Jack said. "Except my crying was a lot more manly."

Isabel gave a watery smile wiping the last of her tears with a napkin.

"Been divorced, before?" Isabel asked. She couldn't believe how comforting Jack's presence was.

"Lost my family, friends, and a life that I loved twice." Jack answered. His eyes were lonely and sad, "To be honest, they were never mine to began with. But it's hard to argue with feelings."

"Sorry," Isabel repeated again, reaching out to hold Jack's hand. They stared into one another's eyes sharing a brief connection.

"Do you need anymore time?" The waitress asked, surprising both of the occupants of the booth. She was shifting her weight looking embarrassed.

"Milkshakes, the only good food in times like these," Jack said with a grin.

"Just coffee." Isabel said.

"Good idea! Two coffee milkshakes." Jack smiled at her.

The waitress stood looking at Isabel. Isabel hesitated a moment before nodding her head. The waitress booked through the double doors leading to the kitchen to place the order.

By the time waitress came back with their order, Isabel had cleaned and bandaged both of her knees. The only sound for a few minutes was the slurping of the milkshakes. Isabel marveled at the taste for once not tempted to put tabasco sauce in her milkshake. The bitterness of the coffee and sweetness of the ice cream was perfect.

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Michael and Max found the van in the parking lot. The rushed into the grocery store and convinced the manager to page Isabel with no luck. They searched the store again not finding Isabel anywhere.

"Where could she be?" Michael ran his fingers through his hair.

Max just shook his head. "We have to search every store."

They headed to the first store in the strip when they saw Isabel and Jack stepping out of the restaurant.

"Isabel!" Michael and Max cried out. Both rushed over and hugged her. Jack looked on with shocked amusement.

"What's going on?" Isabel threw confused looks between Max and Michael.

"You were supposed to meet with Liz a hour ago." Michael visibly relieved they found her. "We got worried and started searching for you."

"Are you alright?" Max looked at her twin bandages with concern.

"I just fell." Isabel said. "Nothing serious."

"Except for almost being hit by that huge car." Jack chimed in.

"It's nothing." Isabel elbowed Jack lightly in the stomach.

Jack made an exaggerated whooshing sound. He rubbed his stomach with a mock grimace on his face.

"Who are you?" Michael eyed him suspiciously.

"I'm Jack O'Neill." Jack said with a non-threatening smile.

"He saved me." Isabel said. "Jack, this is my brother, Max. And our friend, Michael."

"Howdy," Jack nodded his head.

Max nodded back. "We have to get back. You know we're breaking camp today."

"Thanks again." Isabel kissed Jack on the cheek.

"Could you do that for the camera?" Jack pulled out old instant camera from his bag.

"What?" Isabel laughed. He truly was a Boy Scout, she thought.

"The geek squad, which I joined under protest, will never believe that kiss without proof." Jack said. His smile disappeared and he seemed grimmer. "Just want something to hold on to."

Michael and Max looked from Isabel to Jack sensing closeness between them.

"I'll take the picture," Max said, taking the camera from Jack. Isabel and Jack stood together smiling at the camera while Max snapped the picture.

"Do one for me?" Isabel asked.

Max handed the first picture to Michael and immediately snapped another picture.

"Let's get our bikes on the rack." Max said to Michael.

"I'll bike back." Michael said. Max and Isabel looked at him questioning. "I need to get something. For Maria."

"Ah," Max and Isabel said together.

"Well, we're leaving as soon as you get back, so hurry." Max said, before heading for his bike.

"Bye Jack," Isabel said.

"Bye Isabel. I hope you feel better." Jack said, Isabel nodded briefly and headed to the van. Max and Isabel climbed in and took off.

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A short time later, two jeeps and personal carriers drove into the small strip mall. As McMurphy and his team got out of the jeep, Michael stepped out of a small antique and gift shop.

"It's one of them." One of the men yelled. The team pulled out their stun guns and stun grenades. They tossed a couple of the grenades at Michael, raised their rifles and started firing the tranq darts at him as well.

Michael's power slammed against the grenades causing a series of explosions that caused most of the civilians outside to run back into the stores. The darts were destroyed before even reaching Michael. One of the jeeps drove straight for Michael. Michael lashed out again, destroying the jeep. The soldier, who drove the jeep, jumped out at the last minute.

Michael backed up, trying to get inside. From there, Michael hoped to find a back door and find a way to escape Michael tripped over a discarded bottle and lost his concentration for one instant. That instance was enough.

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Jack finished picking up some supplies for the cabin. "It would be nice to get in some fishing. It would be even nicer if I could legally buy beer. If only I could have blackmail the other Jack into it. Well at least I got him to rent a car for me." Jack thought as he headed for the front of the store. It was then that Jack heard what sounded like bombs going off outside. He ran outside and was just in time to see an explosion destroy a jeep and several men scattered behind various cars and personal carriers. A moment later, before his disbelieving eyes, Jack saw several uniformed men shoot Isabel's friend, Michael with some kind of dart. Michael fell to the ground losing consciousness. Two of the men picked Michael up and carried him to one of the trucks.

"What's going on here?" Jack marched over to the men, forgetting he wasn't a Colonel in the Air Force.

"Who are you, boy?" Donaleigh twisted him by the arm. With his free arm, Jack locked onto Donaleigh's wrist and twisted. Donaleigh yelled and loosened his grip. Jack wrenched his other arm free, spun on one foot and slammed his palm into Donaleigh's elbow, breaking the arm at the wrist and elbow. As Donaleigh dropped to the ground in shock and pain, Jack snapped one of his knees up against Donaleigh's chin. Donaleigh hit the ground like a large sack of flour, out for the count.

The rest of the men pointed their guns at Jack.

"Hold. Nelson take your team and search the strip mall for any of his friends." An older balding man with a stern face walked toward Jack and the unconscious Donaleigh. At the same time the rest of the men broke up and headed for the different stores.

"Who are you?" Jack used his fiercest glare. It was a pity the glare worked better at 45 then at 16. "What has he done?"

"This is for Donaleigh," the older man stated before hitting Jack in the face. Jack moved just in time to avoid getting a broken jaw but that blow still knocked him to the ground. "Stevens, check his bag."

Jack was dragged up by two men and forced against a Jeep. One of the men grabbed the bag and dumped everything on the ground.

"Major Riley, look at this." Stevens said, after a minute of scrounging through the bag. He held out a picture.

"You're one of them." Major Riley snarled, shoving the picture in Jack's face.

"One of who?" Jack said in bewilderment. He looked at the picture of Isabel and him smiling, hardly believing that was taken only a few minutes ago.

"Where is this... thing, Isabel?" Major Riley growled.

"Thing?" Jack tightened his stomach muscles at the sight of Major Riley's raised fist. Major Riley's fist slammed into Jack's stomach. He hit the ground and lay there sobbing for breath trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

"Major Riley, I found a set of car keys." Stevens held out car keys with rental logo on the key chain. "It's to a Pontiac Sunfire. A rental."

"It has to be here somewhere." Major Riley barked. Three of the men, including Stevens, roamed the parking lot until they found the only Sunfire in the lot. The others kept an eye on Jack and Michael.

Nelson and his group hurried back to the group. "They're not in any of the stores."

"Boy, where are the rest of your friends?" Major Riley stared down at Jack who was pulling himself unsteadily to his feet. He looked harmless but he took out the major's best man in under a minute.

"I don't..." Jack started.

"Major Riley, it looks like this kid, Jack ... Jack O'Neill rented this car and a cabin." Stevens interrupted. "Here's the map. It's a few miles away."

"NOBODY is there." Jack rubbed his stomach.

"McMurphy, take him and his friend back to the temporary base. Handcuff him." Major Riley smiled scornfully at Jack. "Stevens, call for more backup and we'll head to this cabin. "

"Is that necessary?" Jack said, as McMurphy pulled Jack's left arm back and placed the cuffs on him.

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Liz and Maria stood at the campsite, waiting for their friends to come back. Liz had had another vision of the strip mall, one of Michael being in trouble. They wished they were searching for Michael with the others. However, they understood the wisdom of staying behind in case Michael came back.

"It looks like the soldiers split up." Kyle said to Maria and Liz. "One group was headed towards the highway. The others went deeper into the park. I think they're looking for us."

"They must have Michael." Maria said to Liz, tears forming. "Why didn't you warn us, Liz? You should have known."

"I'm sorry Maria." Her eyes filled with guilt. "If only I had this vision sooner."

"It's not your fault that your first vision only showed the car accident." Max walked from the woods with Isabel at his side.

"We have to leave, Max." Isabel said in despair.

"What about Michael?" Maria cried. "You can't leave him!"

"We can't help him if all of us are caught." Max placed his hand on Maria shoulder. "For some reason, all the soldiers left the area. We have a clear passage out."

Max and Liz got into the front seat. Maria, Kyle and Isabel piled in back. The van was deadly silent as it traveled down the highway.

"Liz, tell us again about your vision." Max drove the car from the dirt road to the main highway.

"Soldiers everywhere." Liz said. "There were explosions all around Michael. A car exploded. And then Michael fell, a dart sticking out of his stomach."

"Was there anything else?" Max asked.

"No ... yes," Liz closed her eyes replaying her vision in her head. "Somebody tried to help. A teenager about sixteen, brown hair."

"Jack," Isabel pulled the picture out of her purse and handing it to Liz. "Is this him?"

"Yes." Liz looked at the photograph of smiling boy. "Who is he?"

"He saved me from being hit by a car today." Isabel said, angry that another innocent bystander was being pulled into their battle. "Was he hurt?"

"I don't think so." Liz stated.

The van fell quiet again as they wondered how to rescue Michael and Jack. Several hours later, they pulled into another campsite and set up camp. They wanted to make sure that Michael couldn't tell his captors where they were.

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Jack watched Mendez probe and prod a semi-conscious Michael. He and his men kept Michael drugged and out of it.

"Get some of the other one's blood." Mendez said. Jack realized that being handcuffed to the bed limited his fighting ability. Besides, both his face and stomach still hurt.

"Ouch." Jack said, as the needle found the vein.

"It would be better if he wasn't drugged." One of the scientists said, taking Michael's blood to analyze.

"Unfortunately, that isn't possible." Mendez pulled out a penlight to look at Jack's eyes.

The door crashed against the wall and several soldiers came in interrupting the steady murmur of voices. Everyone jumped in reaction to it, including Michael.

"Bring him." McMurphy pointed to Michael. "Take the other one to one of the security rooms."

"What are you going to do with him?" Jack asked as he was dragged out of the room. McMurphy smiled in response.

As soon as he was tossed in his room, Jack looked around, trying to see if there was anyway to escape. The room was small with two beds and a door leading to a bathroom. There was nothing else in the room. It reminded him eerily of Cheyenne Mountain. Finding no means of escape, he sat on the bed, waiting for someone to remember he was here. Several hours later, the soldiers tossed Michael on the bed and took Jack to the interrogation room.

The soldiers secured Jack to a chair in the room and left him alone with Major Riley. "Jack, you finally made it." The Major's tone was jovial but his eyes were angry, like a predator denied his prey.

"I didn't think I had a choice." Jack sat on the chair looking nonchalant. He lost count of how many guys captured and questioned him. Granted, it happened to the original O'Neill and not him. However, he knew what it felt like to be taken prisoner.

"Where are you friends?" Major Riley hissed.

"I have a lot of friends. Could you be more specific?" Jack asked.

"We know about the cabin." Major Riley leaned over his desk trying to intimidate the boy.

"What cabin? I don't know anything about any cabin." Jack realized what Major Riley was doing. However, Jack met Goa'ulds, replicators and other not so nice aliens. It took a lot more to intimidate a person after that.

"Liar." Major Riley yelled, spittle flying everywhere.

Jack looked at him, wondering about the Major's sanity. Jack thought, if he ran this operation he would have made damn sure that the area was locked down and called in reinforcements to check the cabin. It was pretty sloppy job all the way around.

"Why are you after Isabel?" Jack asked.

"Please don't play the innocent. We know that you're an alien." Major Riley reached for something beside him.

"An Alien," Jack said in disbelief. "Like Marvin Martian?"

"From the Roswell crash."

"The Roswell Crash?" Jack laughed, amazed Major Riley believed in that nonsense.

The older man wasn't pleased that this boy was mocking him. He decided to teach Jack some manners as well as get some information out of him. Two birds with one stone, or in this case, one stun gun.

Sometime later, Jack leaned against the wall his head buried on his knees. 'At least it wasn't as bad as Ba'al,' Jack thought, trembling lightly. 'He can't kill me and bring me back, over and over again.'

Major Riley lifted Jack's badly swollen face. He heard the boy draw in a shaky breath. "You will tell me the location of your friends."

Jack heard a noise in the room. It took a second to figure out it was a phone on the desk. Major Riley got up and answered it.

"What?" Major Riley barked. "The plane was supposed to be here tonight. Okay ... Okay. I'll be expecting the plane tomorrow morning at 11 sharp." He hung up and looked back at Jack.

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Michael became more aware as the hours ticked by. He still had very little control of his powers but he felt himself becoming more and more lucid. He heard the door open and someone being tossed on the other bed. When he turned to look, he saw Isabel's friend, Jack. The boy looked like he had been in the losing end of a fight.

"Jack." Michael whispered, reaching over to touch the boy. Jack pulled back with a whimper. Michael said Jack's name twice more before getting a response.

"Michael?" Jack responded in a similar whisper. "Tired."

"Did you hear anything?" Michael asked.

"You're a Roswell alien. Leaving 11:00am plane." Jack slurred. "Tired."

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Isabel walked in the New Mexico desert toward Michael. She saw the beautiful majesty and subtle colors of the desert. For the first time, she noticed how beautiful the emptiness of the earth's bare bones was without trees and grassland cloaking it.

"Michael, do you know where you are?" Isabel asked.

"No." Michael wandered to the place that housed their spaceship before Tess stole it. "They're drugging me."

"Do you know anything?" Isabel asked, becoming more desperate.

"Jack told me we're leaving tomorrow morning at 11:00am." Michael leaned over to pick up a stick and drew some of the alien markings. "Jack's asleep. Go into his dream.

Isabel hesitated.

"He knows what we are, Isabel. Soldiers told him." Michael drew the last shape in the dirt.

Isabel touched Jack's picture and before long she found herself on a lawn with an older couple. They were talking together when, suddenly, a shot rang from the house.

"Charlie!" The man ran up the stairs and stopped at the door to one of the bedrooms.

The dream shifted and Isabel saw a circle with what appeared to liquid in the center. The same older man, in strange fatigues, was walking towards it with three other people. Three were humans. The fourth she somehow knew wasn't, at least not completely.

The older man turned and looked at her. "Isabel, you shouldn't be here."

The scene shifted once more Isabel was in a room with a large mirror on the wall. She turned to look into the mirror she saw her and Jack. She turned to talk to him but all she saw was the older man.

"Who are you?" Isabel asked.

"Jack." He answered.

"Where are you and Michael?" Isabel questioned.

"Are you here to hurt us?" Jack asked without answering.

"We were born here. Humans raised us. We know no other life." Isabel said.

Jack looked at her silently and then nodded his head. "We're in Arletta, Virginia. About three hours from where we met. There is an abandoned Air Force base just north of the town."

"How many men?" Isabel asked.

"About thirty." Jack said.

"We'll be there." Isabel assured him. Jack nodded once and Isabel felt herself being shoved out of his mind.

"Are you okay Isabel?" Max placed his hand on his sister's shoulder. He knew Isabel was tired. Hell they all were tired. It was getting close to midnight.

"Did you find out where Michael is being held?" Maria's eyes frantic with worry.

"Arletta, Virginia, at an old Air Force base. But they'll only be there until 11:00am tomorrow." Isabel said.

"Here's the map." Kyle pulled the Virginia map and a flashlight from the glove compartment.

After few minutes of frantic searching, Kyle found Arletta.

"It will take us about 2 1/2 hours to get there." Kyle searched the map for the quickest route. For all the myriad talent of the Royal 4 well, now 3, if you don't count Liz, they couldn't read map to save their lives. It was a lucky thing he was here to help them.

"Pack up. We're leaving as soon as possible." Max started taking down the tent.

"There is something else." Isabel sat down at the table. "About Jack."

"What about him?" Liz asked, wondering what if the boy was going to be all right.

"He's different." Isabel picked at the table nervously. The dirt disappeared from the surface. " So strong."

"Alien?" Max said.

"No." Isabel said. "An old soul." Literally, Isabel thought.

"Is he dangerous?" Max considered the possibility of leaving Jack there.

"No." Isabel answered.

"Let's worry about it later." Max went back to taking down the tent.

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Major Riley watched Jack's shoulders shake with silent sobbing. He knew he would be able to break him given enough time. Once he did, he would make the aliens would come to him. He paged McMurphy and Nelson. Both of his men arrived at the same time.

"McMurphy, take the boy back." Major Riley turned to look at the crumbled figure one last time before McMurphy picked him up and carried him out of office. "Nelson, gather two squads we're going to catch the rest of them.

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Kyle drove up to the gate in a stolen car. The guard at the gate pointed a gun at him. Kyle jumped at the sight.

"I've got lost on the back roads and saw your lights." Kyle wished he wasn't the only one the government didn't know about. "Can you give me directions to the nearest town?"

"Step out of the car." The soldier barked.

"That's okay, I'll find my own way." Kyle stated.

"Get out of the car!" The soldier released the safety.

Kyle did what he was told. He trembled a little bit, remembering the pain of the last time he got shot. Kyle also remembered he wouldn't be alive today if it wasn't for Max. All he wanted to do was run and not look back but he owed Max. Plus Max, Isabel and Maria were coming soon.

The soldier shined a flashlight in the back seat. "Pop the trunk."

"It doesn't work. I need the key." Kyle leaned in slowly, keeping one of his hands in sight, and grabbed the key from the ignition. He walked to the back of the car. He dropped the key. He reached for the key and dropped it again. Kyle finally picked up the key in a trembling hand. "Sorry."

"Give me that." The soldier put the gun away and grabbed the key.

Kyle, seeing his opportunity, tackled the soldier to the ground. The soldier's head hit the pavement hard, knocking him out. Kyle removed the soldier's clothes and was handcuffing him as his friends came out of the woods.

"What took you so long?" Kyle asked. He was proud of the fact he didn't need Max or Isabel.

"Good job, Kyle." Max went into the guardhouse and opened the gate. He then destroyed the equipment so it couldn't be closed again. Kyle went into the woods to change.

"How's the fit?" Isabel asked as Kyle came out of the woods.

"Kind of tight." Kyle pulled the shirt from his neck. He was amazed the man was able to support that huge head given the small the neck size. He motioned to Max and patted his own shoulder. "Come on, get on board." Max shrugged and did what he was told.

Kyle walked toward the base with Max over one shoulder while the women waited under cover. They decided it would be too suspicious to have one lone soldier capture two aliens.

"I caught one of the aliens!" Kyle cried out as he stepped into the base's Security Police building. "Sneaking on the base. He knocked out the guard at the gate."

"What?" The soldier at the desk jumped up. "What do we do?"

"Call some men up here before he wakes up." Kyle barked. He put Max on the floor in front of the desk. "Now!" The soldier did as he was asked.

Kyle heard running and five soldiers rushed into the lobby.

"What's going on?" One of the soldiers asked. The soldier at the desk squinted at Kyle. "You know, I don't remember you coming in here with the rest of us. Who are you?" Max jumped to his feet and used his power to shove the five soldiers into the wall knocking them out. He turned to the desk soldier. "He's my friend." Max said.

Kyle slammed the desk soldier to the floor and handcuffed and gagged him. Being the son of the sheriff, he had learned things as a kid that they just didn't teach in school.

"Handcuff the others." Max peered at the security cameras trying to locate Michael and Jack.

"Did you find them?" Kyle stuffed a gag into the last man.

"Yes." Max pointed to one of the screens. He didn't see them but there were two soldiers outside a door.

"Where's the rest of the enemy?" Kyle nervously plucked at the collar of his shirt. "Isabel said there was thirty."

"Don't know." Max frowned at the different screens trying to locate the other twenty-four or five men.

Max signaled for Isabel and Maria to join them. Kyle dragged the handcuffed men to small conference room, he found, just off the small lobby.

"Kyle, stay here." Max said. "We'll be back as soon as possible."

They walked through the building watching for any unexpected attacks. Maria was the first one who saw the two guards. It didn't take long to incapacitate them. They dragged the two men in the room and tied them up.

"Michael." Maria rushed to where Michael laid. She shook him gently by the shoulder. When he didn't wake, she shook him harder.

Max put his hand on Michael.

"What's wrong with him?" Maria both afraid and furious started petting his hair.

"Drugged." Max answered. "I can't do anything."

"Max." Isabel knelt down by the other bed. Jack was curled in a loose fetal position. She fought the rage to hurt the men the way Jack had been hurt.

"My God." Max breathed. The others echoed the sentiment silently. Max was horrified at the broken body of the boy. He placed his hand on the back of Jack's neck and began the healing processing. Ten minutes later Jack's last injury was healed.

"Jack." Isabel shook his shoulder. Isabel jerked back as Jack swung his fist at her. Fortunately for her, Jack, while healed of his injuries, was still weak from his ordeal and missed her by a few feet.

"Jack." Isabel put her hand on his back.

"Carter." Jack grabbed her hand clumsily and placed it on his cheek.

"No, it's Isabel." Isabel said. "You have to wake up. We can't carry you."

"Isabel?" Jack peered up at her. He pulled himself to a sitting position with Isabel's help.

Maria and Max pulled Michael up while Isabel assisted Jack to the door. Isabel took over for Max when Jack was able to walk on his own. They headed back to the front. Kyle jumped up and they all headed out of the building. The night was eerily quiet. Every snap of a twig felt like a trap closing in on them. Finally, they saw the van with Liz waiting beside it.

Many hours and several states later, they ended up at a Motel 6 in North Carolina. Jack woke up enough to wash up and change into some borrowed sweats. He looked around the room at kids sprawled out on the bed and floor like discarded clothes. He grabbed his blanket and found an empty spot.

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Jack walked out of the motel flinching at the morning sun. He saw the group.

"Hi." Jack headed over to them with a disarming grin. "Find a place to eat? Doesn't even have to be good."

"Come, there's a park nearby." Max entered the van. The others followed.

"Great, another interrogation." Jack thought as he entered the van.

After being introduced to the rest of the group, they headed off to the park.

Jack ate another piece of bread humming just under his breath. He didn't remember when he had last eaten. The others looked at him with fascination. He was the first person healed by Max that didn't ask at least one question about it.

"So you're aliens." Jack patted his stomach.

"Only three of us." Isabel answered. "Max, Michael and me. What are you?"

"A clone." Jack answered.

"What?" Liz looked at him with amazement. "Human cloning process is not that advanced."

"Oh, I didn't know that." Jack smiled innocently.

"Jack cut the act." Isabel snapped at him. "Here's the deal. We'll answer your questions, if you'll answer ours."

"There are some things I can't tell you." Jack said. "But, okay, deal."

They all looked at each other with a touch of disbelief, when all the stories were told.

"Okay you're telling me you're a disposed king from Antar, a galaxy far, far away." Jack recapped. "You're his sister, the princess, Isabel, and you, Michael, are his general. Unbelievable."

"You're not much better." Maria claimed. "An advance race cloned an Air Force Colonel because he's the next step in human evolution and possibly the savior of their civilization."

"Unfortunately, I'm not the answer to their problem." Jack looked a little sad. He was truly fond of those little guys.

"What about the ring of water?" Isabel asked.

"Classified." Jack for a moment appeared every inch an Air Force colonel.

"You said there were thirty men." Kyle stated. The others looked at Kyle surprised at the shift in the conversation. "Well I want to know what happened to all the men."

"There were thirty." Jack said in smug tone. "I knew Major Riley would head out when I told him where you were. "

"You sent him on a wild goose chase." Michael was impressed. He didn't know if he could take such a beating and still have the ability to manipulate the situation to his advantage.

"How did you know he go for it?" Max asked.

"He's a glory hound." Jack answered with a cynical expression. He had met several Major Rileys in the Air Force. "He had to be the one to catch you. I made sure he had to interrogate really hard before he finally believed my story about you being at my cabin."

The others nodded, looking at Jack with gratitude, remembering how badly he'd been beaten...for them.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Isabel looked disappointed.

"Better to expect thirty men and only have ten to deal with." Jack answered. "Than to expect ten and have thirty."

"You can't go back to your old life." Isabel told Jack.

"Don't worry about me." Jack's eyes glittered vengefully. "Once the original O'Neill and his commander find out I was kidnapped by these ass..., Bozos, well, let's just say Major Riley's problems are just beginning."

"Are you going to tell them about us?" Max considered what to do about the mini Air Force colonel.

"No." Jack understood Max's dilemma. "I wish you would come forward but I understand why you don't."

"I'm sorry." Isabel said.

"I know." Jack put his hand on hers. "Trust comes with time."

"And we have the time." Max stated. The rest, including Jack, nodded.

THE END