Chapter 1

Daniel knew they were in trouble as soon as he spotted the Jaffa. They'd gone on a simple recon mission, and it quickly evolved into hell in a matter of minutes. They came out of nowhere, and in the next instant there was shooting all over the place. Daniel shot back as well; he'd been trained how to use all the weapons that the SGC had at its disposal, but there were times when he wondered if he ever actually hit anyone or anything. He saw Jaffa fall, but that didn't mean he'd hit them.

"I thought this wasn't a Ga'ould planet!" Jack shouted to Teal'c. "This is one of the planets from the Ancients' information!"

"It is an Ancient planet!" Teal'c assured him, shouting over the gunfire. "I do not know why they are here!"

"Who cares?" Sam shouted. "We're under fire!"

What happened at that point was too chaotic for Daniel to remember clearly. Something…exploded nearby and knocked him to the ground. He could hear shouting, screaming, more shooting, and the last thing he remembered seeing before oblivion overtook him was the face of a Jaffa looking down at him.

For a while--an interminably long while--there was pain. He hurt all over, and breathing was the most difficult thing he'd ever had to do in his life. At times, he would feel the pain lessen and self-awareness would return, but it never lasted very long. During those times of self-awareness he would realize that he was being taken somewhere, but he didn't know where, how long they had been traveling, or why he hurt so much. He remembered that there had been people with him before the pain, but who were they exactly (he couldn't remember) and why was he so worried about them? Whenever being awake with the pain became too much for him, a Jaffa would appear and force something down his throat that would make him sleep. Eventually, he came to welcome the bitter liquid the Jaffa made him swallow and the sleep that followed.

When he at last woke completely from the pain, he was lying down somewhere warm and dark. He could feel movement all around him, and slowly, it became lighter. Then he found himself staring at a ceiling above him and wondering just where he was. He was…slowly he sat up, and he realized that he was in a sarcophagus. It had just finished healing him.


Daniel jumped, and to his right he saw the same Jaffa warrior standing, watching him. The room was large, and there were other Jaffa standing at the door, obviously guarding him.

"Come with me," the Jaffa said, standing back to allow Daniel to climb out of the sarcophagus. "I have been told to tell you that if you attempt to escape, then your friends' health will be on your responsibility."

Daniel felt himself go cold. "Where are they? And where are we?"

The Jaffa didn't answer as he took Daniel by the arm and led him out of the sarcophagus room and into a hallway. Down the hallway they went, and Daniel found himself awed by the splendor surrounding him. Tall, columned galleries with sumptuous hangings, torches, statues, and walls covered with hieroglyphics. It looked as if they were in a palace! Either that, or a very fancy ship at the least.

"Where are my friends?" Daniel asked. "Are we going to where they are?"

The Jaffa pulled out a zat and pointed it at Daniel. "Be silent, Tau'ri. I will not answer your questions. You are to come with me. Do you understand?"

All Daniel could do was nod, and then the Jaffa continued to lead him through hallways. As Daniel walked, he thought. Why had they been attacked on a planet that was not a Ga'ould planet? Were these really Jaffa he was seeing, or did they only look like Jaffa? (He had an awful feeling that they were the real article.) If they were, then why was he here alone and where was the rest of SG-1?

He felt as if someone had pulled the carpet from underneath his feet and he still hadn't regained his balance. He was under the impression that Apophis and the rest of the System Lords wanted him dead, but if that were the case, then why had someone put him in the sarcophagus? Why go the the trouble of reviving him when they could dance on his corpse instead? He was sure that more than one System Lord would be more than happy for that. What bothered him more were his surroundings: Where was he? Why did this place look like a palace? Since he was a prisoner of war, then he should have been in the dungeon or a cell somewhere. So, why wasn't he?

They entered what had to be a throne room, and Daniel's guard led him up to the dais where he could see two empty thrones. He stood there staring until the guard hit him in the back of the knees with his staff weapon, knocking Daniel to the floor before growling, "Kneel to the gods, Tau'ri!"

Wisely, Daniel remained silent and stayed on his knees, wondering which Ga'ould he would see. He could hear footsteps approaching, and he was certain that he wouldn't like what he saw. A door behind the thrones opened, and when he saw Apophis and Amaunet enter, he knew that his fears were confirmed. Of all the Ga'ould he could have seen, they were the least welcome, despite the fact that seeing Amaunet allowed Daniel to see his beloved wife Sha're. Apophis led Amaunet forward and seated her before turning to Daniel. When the archeologist saw the cold smile Apophis wore, he knew that nothing good was going to happen.

"Welcome, Tau'ri Daniel Jackson," Apophis said, walking down the few stairs of the dais to stand in front of Daniel. "I trust you are feeling better?"

"Better?" Daniel echoed, not quite sure if this was truly Apophis. After all, Apophis did not bother to ask how you were feeling. Perhaps he was sick?

"You were injured," Apophis explained. "I had you put in my sarcophagus as soon as you were brought in."

Daniel blinked. "Ah...thank you?" He didn't know what else to say but one other word. "Why?"

Apophis turned and regarded him coolly. "Would you have preferred to die?"

"No, it's just that you really don't help someone unless there's something in it for you," Daniel remarked. "So, what's in it for you this time?"

"Your life," Apophis said smugly. "I need you alive."

"I won't tell you anything," Daniel said quickly. Thanks to Jack, he had learned how to resist interrogations and torture and everything else that Apophis could possibly do to him. There was no way the Serpent King could get information from him to use against the SGC.

"Did I say I wanted information?" Apophis snapped. "You assume too much, Tau'ri, and you attach undue importance to yourself. No, I just need you living, that's all."

Now I'm confused, Daniel thought. "I don't understand you."

"It is because of my host, Sha're," Amaunet said, rising to her feet and approaching Daniel as well. "She makes things...very difficult for me."

One side of Daniel's mouth rose in a bitter smile. "I bet she's fighting you every moment."

Apophis' fist lashed out, knocking him to the floor and making him see stars for a moment. "You will be respectful to Amaunet, Tau'ri!" he growled.

Daniel picked himself up from the floor and glared at Apophis. "So why do you need me?" he demanded.

"Allow your host to come forward, my love," Apophis said, laying an arm about Amaunet's shoulders. "Let's allow them both to speak to one another, and I will make the matter plain."

Amaunet's chin dipped forward onto her chest, and when Daniel next saw her face, it was Sha're. She stared at Apophis, horrified, and backed away from him. Apophis gave a dark chuckle and smiled at her. "What's wrong, my dear? Frightened to see me? Not to worry, there's nothing the matter. I have a pleasant surprise for you," he said, grasping her shoulders and turning her to face Daniel. "Look. Do not say I am not kind. I have had your Daniel brought to you. Why don't you greet him?"

"Daniel?" Sha're gasped. "Husband? You are real? You are not a trick?"

Daniel could say nothing, but he rose to his feet and held out his arms. "Sha're..."

The next thing he knew, she was in his arms and he was holding her for the first time in more than two years. The time drifted away from both of them in that moment, and it was as if they were still on Abydos.

"You are real," Sha're breathed. "This is horrible, husband."

Daniel pulled away from her but did not release her, and he looked into her eyes, wondering why she had said that. Had she grown to hate him for not finding her sooner? Oh, God, anything but that!

"They have brought you here to punish me," she told him. "They are going to kill you..."

"But we are not," Apophis said, interrupting her. "No, we want your Daniel alive and in good health for a good, long time. You see, that long and healthy life will depend entirely upon you, Sha're. Amaunet is not of a mind to give you up, and since Daniel is precious to you, what better way could we find to solve the problem of your consistent disobedience? If you continue to be host to Amaunet and cause her no difficulties, then Daniel will be fine."

Daniel was horrified, but he could not make his voice work.

"You will lock him up and torture him!" Sha're cried, glaring angrily at Apophis.

"Oh, we will not," Apophis assured her, chuckling again.. "How fierce the lioness is when she has something to protect! Daniel will have a suite of rooms here in our palace, servants to attend him, the best food and drink, the best clothing we can provide, and the best possible care."

"You lie," Sha're hissed fiercely. "I have seen how you torture those in your power! You would not do such things for Daniel or anyone else you consider your enemy! I have heard you say how much you wish Daniel dead!"

"I'm beginning to think that all of that sarcophagus use has done a number on your snakey little mind," Daniel broke in, using one of Jack's favorite adjectives for the Ga'ould. "You have to be crazy. That's the only explanation I can think of."

Apophis smiled. "I can assure you I am not mad. It is a brilliant idea. How better to control a host than to ensure you have a hostage? As further proof of my kindness, you shall have an hour each day in one another's company."

Daniel stared at him, too surprised and freaked out to even think. Was this the same Apophis? This was the guy who had blithely ordered his execution more than once! Had he been hit in the head or lost his mind? "You would have me live in your very palace? How do you know I won't try to kill you?"

"But you will not, Tau'ri," Apophis informed him, clearly enjoying himself. "Your servants will see that you are kept diverted and amused. You will not be bored nor will you have time to attempt assasination. Besides, should you attempt to harm anyone, I can always have a few peasants brought to the palace to be tortured to ease your boredom. I can tell you myself how amusing it is to watch them beg for mercy."

Daniel swallowed, feeling ill, and he shook his head. "That won't be necessary."

Apophis smiled. "Good. Ensure that it will not be." He turned and addressed Sha're. "Now, woman, will you cease troubling Amaunet, or will the sight of your Daniel being tortured help you to decide to do so?"

"No!" Sha're cried, terrified for Daniel's sake. "Do not harm him!"

"Then you agree to our bargain?"

"No, Sha're," Daniel said sharply. "I won't let him have this control over you! I won't allow him to use me! I'll die first!"

Apophis laughed. "You will die first? Amusing, Tau'ri. We have the sarcophagus. Even if we killed you during our 'persuasion' of Sha're, you can be brought back to life. Also, any attempt to kill yourself will fail, and each time you try, that will mean ten peasants tortured. There are a good many children out in that city. Think of that."

Daniel fought down an urge to wrap his hands around Apophis' skinny throat. "Then torture me if you want. I won't allow you to do this to Sha're."

Apophis nodded to Daniel's guard, and the Jaffa lifted his staff weapon.

"No!" Sha're screamed, running to place herself between Daniel and his would-be torturer. "I will not let you! I will cease fighting Amaunet!"

"No, Sha're! Say no!"

Sha're whirled and wrapped Daniel in her arms so tightly that his ribs hurt and gave him a kiss that took his breath for a moment. She pulled away and looked into his eyes longingly and placed her hands on either side of his face. "If you can be so brave for me, my husband, then I can be so brave for you," she told him. "We must wait a little longer before we can be together again."

"A wise decision," Apophis said smugly. "Daniel will be shown to his quarters, and I wish Amaunet to come forward now. Do so."

Sha're stepped away from Daniel and her head dipped forward. When she raised it, Daniel saw Amaunet looking at him. "Good. She has agreed, my lord," she said, turning to Apophis and kissing him before addressing Daniel's guard. "Jaffa. Take him to the rooms we have had prepared and keep him there until we send for him. You have your orders."

"How long do you plan on keeping me?" Daniel asked before the Jaffa could take him out of the room.

"As long as we like," Amaunet snapped. "Do not try our patience, Tau'ri. Do as you're told!"

Daniel had no choice but to go, but he swore to himself that he would find some way out of his current situation and that he would save Sha're.