Daniel woke up with a very stiff neck and a very evil taste in the back of his mouth. What the heck had happened? One moment he'd been participating on an archeological dig, and then the next thing he knew, he was waking up…somewhere…feeling as if he'd been run over by a disgruntled rampaging mastadge. Slowly, very slowly, Daniel sat up and looked around, wishing that the light was a little better and that he had his glasses. Everything was blurry and dark, and he really, really wanted to find out where he was. As he got to his feet a million little pains made themselves felt and he groaned, wishing that whatever had knocked him out could come and knock him out again. Oblivion was better than being awake at the moment.
A door opened, startling him and flooding the tiny room with light. It closed quickly, but in that moment of light he'd seen where he was: he was inside a room on an al'kesh. He was on an al'kesh at the mercy of an unknown person.
"You're awake," a voice said, sounding very familiar. "How are you feeling?"
"Horrible," Daniel admitted, wishing he could see who it was. "Where am I and who are you?"
The lights came up then, and Daniel nearly screamed at the guy facing him. "Aris Boch! What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"I'm carrying out my commission, Doctor Jackson," Aris told him, grinning. "Oooh, you should see the price that's on you now! It was too much to pass up!"
"Wait a little longer, maybe it'll go higher," Daniel suggested acerbically. "Now take me back to where you found me."
"Absolutely not," Aris insisted. "You're going to make me a very, very rich man. Someone really wants you."
Daniel stopped and looked at him, trying to think. What was that old saying about deals with the devil? "Who wants me? Who set the price? It's not a Ga'ould, is it?"
"All I know is the price they set for bringing you in alive and unharmed," Aris told him. "What's wrong? You seem like you're hurting. Feel okay?"
"I feel positively wretched," Daniel muttered. "What happened?"
"Well, I kind of had to toss you over my shoulder and run, and I kind of threw you in here before we took off, and there was some pretty fancy flying I had to do a while back, so that could be why you're feeling so awful now. Want something for the pain?"
"What will it do to me besides relieve the pain?" Daniel asked cautiously. He didn't trust Aris Boch one little bit. Not one miniscule iota, as he'd heard someone at the SGC say...was it that morning he left? It seemed like a lifetime ago.
"Send you to sleep," Aris said honestly. "You seem to do an awful lot of planning and plotting when you're awake, and you tend to cause trouble. You're less trouble asleep."
"Well, if you don't kidnap people, then you'll find the number of people trying to cause trouble in your life will reduce drastically," Daniel snapped, swallowing, trying to get some moisture into his dry throat. He was insanely thirsty.
"Thought so. Used a little bit of a drug on you to keep you asleep the first day I had you. One of the side effects is being thirsty. I'll get you some water, okay?"
"Sounds great," Daniel said, sitting down. "Then we can talk about my return. You know, ten to one, the SGC would pay a pretty big price to get me back."
Aris looked at him speculatively. "Then why haven't they offered a price yet?" With that, he left, and Daniel was left on his own to think. Apparently, his ploy to get Aris to contact the SGC wasn't going to work. He'd have to think about something else.
Aris came back with a large container of water, and Daniel sipped at it and asked questions in an attempt to find out just where they were going. Most of the time when Daniel asked such questions Aris would waggle a finger at him and then change the topic.
"Look, you're taking me there anyway and there's very little I can do about it," Daniel pointed out, frustrated. "I mean, how much trouble did we have getting away from you the first time we met? And then there was four of us to work together in getting away. I'm just one archeologist, what am I going to do if you tell me where we're going?"
"Does it really matter?" Aris Boch asked.
"To me it does," Daniel muttered. "I want to know what I'm going to be sold into."
"Well, it's not a Ga'ould, I can tell you that much," Boch finally told him. "Person didn't say what you were wanted for, but a price of one hundred thousand is kind of hard to pass up."
Daniel blinked. "One hundred thousand? That's…a lot, right?"
"That kind of price could set me up for life," Aris said, grinning. "You've become quite valuable in recent months."
"Could you tell me what kind of person set that price, and could you take a guess why they would?"
Aris shrugged. "Didn't seem like a slaver, didn't seem like anything. They just want you and they were willing to pay for you. That's all I need to know."
"Great," Daniel muttered. "How long before we get there?"
"Say another few hours. You sure you don't want to go back to sleep?"
Daniel nodded. "I'm sure."
"Suit yourself. Nighty-night."
Daniel blinked at him, wondering why he was using that particular farewell, but then he realized just what it meant. He leaned his head against the wall and closed his eyes, cursing himself for a fool worse than Urgo. "You drugged the water."
"Darn right I did," Aris told him, giving him a wink. "It's something with no taste or color to it. You should be asleep in just a few minutes, so why don't you lie back down? You'll be awake as soon as we get there, I promise. Go sleepy-byes now."
Daniel set the container of tainted water aside and glared at Aris Boch. "Sleepy-byes? Just how much time have you and Jack spent together since we met you? He certainly seems to be rubbing off on you."
Aris shrugged, and since his vision was getting blurry (much blurrier than usual without his glasses) Daniel lay down and closed his eyes. The last thing he heard before falling back asleep was Aris Bock whistling a tune.
Daniel woke up when something cold and wet touched his face, and he stared up at Aris Boch in surprise and chagrin. He'd been hoping so much that it had all been a dream!
"Awake?" Aris said, grinning. "We're there."
"We're where?" Daniel demanded.
"We're at the place where I'm going to drop you off and collect my fee," Aris said, pulling him to his feet before placing handcuffs on him. "Let's go."
"Um, what if I don't want to?" Daniel asked as Aris pulled him out of the holding cell and into the main bridge of the ship. "You know, at least let me call my friends to let them know I'm okay!"
"Do I look stupid to you?" Aris demanded, pulling him out of the ship.
Daniel grabbed hold of the door frame and looked thoughtful. "Ummm..."
"Don't answer that," Aris snapped. "Don't you even smile."
"You'll get a whole lot less money if you beat me up," Daniel warned him.
"That's the only reason I haven't swung on you yet," Aris snapped. "Let's go." He pulled Daniel out of the ship and led him along at such a fast pace that Daniel kept stumbling. Finally, realizing that Daniel was having trouble keeping up, he slowed, which was exactly what Daniel wanted. The longer it took them to get to wherever it was they were going, then the longer...well, he didn't really know. He had no idea what was going to happen, but he was sure it was going to be nothing good.
"Stay where you are, Aris Boch!"
Aris stopped, and Daniel of course had to stop as well. "Who is it?" Daniel asked. The voice hadn't sounded like anyone he knew, it really sounded like...well, it was a deep voice, he could tell that much.
"My contact," Aris told him. "Now you be quiet while I'm talking, got it? I'm here, Dare!"
"Do you have what I want?"
"Of course I do!" Aris told whoever it was that was hidden in the trees. Daniel still couldn't see whoever it was. "Look for yourself!"
Daniel's heart stopped as he saw what stepped out of the trees, and he was certain that he was doomed on so many levels. It was a Super Soldier.
"Aris!" Daniel gasped as the soldier came closer. "You can't...can't give me to a Super Soldier! He's gonna kill me!"
"Hey, he's offering a price," Aris said, shrugging. "That's all I need."
Daniel stared at him in disbelief. "He's going to kill you and take me, and then he'll kill me. They don't pay people, they kill them!"
The soldier stepped closer and regarded them both closely. It leaned in close to Daniel as if checking to make sure he was really Daniel Jackson, and then it handed Aris Boch a large bag. "Well done, Aris Boch," the soldier said. "Perhaps we'll do business again."
Aris grinned. "Sure thing. You two have...fun."
At that point, the soldier took hold of Daniel's hands and pulled him closer and prepared to take off its mask. Daniel fought, certain he was going to be very sick in a moment, but instead, he heard a voice he had not expected to hear again. "Surprised to see me, Daniel?"
Daniel stared at the dark-haired woman that had once hijacked the Prometheus. "You? You?"
"He remembers me!" Vala cried before giving Daniel a kiss that almost snapped his neck.
Aris Boch started laughing and waggled a finger at Daniel. "It's just a joke, Doctor Jackson," he said. "Your Vala told me you two were going to be married soon, and she wanted my help to play a little joke on you before the wedding. Congratulations to you both!"
Daniel turned to stare at Vala. "Married? Wedding? Joke?"
"Surprise!" she said, giving him another kiss. "I hope you like the ship I picked out for us. I just know you'll love it! Thank you, Aris!"
Aris walked away, chuckling, and Daniel turned towards Vala with murder in his eye. He was going to kill this woman! How dare she have him kidnapped like this!
"Well, come on," Vala said, taking his still bound hands and leading him toward the trees. "I've been busy ever since I left your ship."
"Where are we going?" Daniel demanded. "And why did you have me KIDNAPPED?"
Vala turned at the tone of his voice. "You're not mad at me, are you?"
Daniel was certain that he was going to go insane in a moment. "Yes, I'm MAD! How could you kidnap me like this? Everyone back on Earth is probably going crazy by now, the SGC is going to send out countless search parties, and Jack's gonna lose his mind and say 'I told you so!' What did you think you were doing?"
"I was thinking of getting you here," Vala said calmly. "Now come on. If you want, I'll let you contact your friends."
That stopped Daniel in his tracks. "You will?"
Still leading him along, Vala nodded. "Of course. You'll want to invite some of them to the wedding, I suppose."
"Wedding?" Daniel blurted. "What wedding? Vala, we're not getting married!"
She turned and gave him an impish smile. "Says you."
They continued in that manner until they reached Vala's ship, which was a sleek little vessel perfect for...whatever it was that Vala did when she wasn't hijacking ships. She took him inside and led him through the corridors until they reached the bridge. Once there, she brought up the communications system and said, "Okay, I've got the right channel, see if you can get your friends to pick up."
Daniel sighed and transmitted his communications code, hoping that someone would hear him. He got a surprise when someone picked up almost immediately.
"Dr. Jackson?" Walter's breathless voice came over the link, suffused with worry.
"Hi, Walter," Daniel said. "How long has it been since you heard from me?"
"About two days," Walter informed him. "What happened to you?"
Daniel was about to answer when he heard a voice in the background. "Is that Daniel? Walter, is that Daniel?"
"Yes, General O'Neill, it's Dr. Jackson," Walter said before Daniel could tell him not to tell Jack who it was on the radio.
"I told you going off on one of those insane expeditions of yours was a bad idea!" Jack yelled into the transmitter. "Where the heck are you?"
"Where are we?" Daniel asked Vala, but she simply shrugged and gave him a smile. Daniel sighed again and said, "Okay, I'm not being told where we are, but do you remember that insane woman who hijacked the Prometheus? Well, she had our old friend Aris Boch kidnap me and bring me here, and she insists it was all a joke."
Suddenly Vala leaned over Daniel's shoulder and spoke into the transmitter. "You're invited to the wedding, of course, if you want to come."
Silence. Then, "Daniel, did you go and get yourself engaged when I wasn't looking?"
"No, Jack, I didn't," Daniel said firmly. "She's only trying to annoy me, and it's working."
"Well, tell her to bring you back."
"Nope!" Vala said before Daniel could say anything. "I didn't go to all that trouble of having him brought here just to take him back again." With that, she shut off the transmitter and ignored Daniel's complaints and protests.
"You can't do this," Daniel said as Vala began flicking switches in preparation to taking off. "You really can't. This is kidnapping. Got that? Kid. Nap. Iiiiing!"
"It's not kidnapping," Vala said as the ship left the planet's atmosphere. "This is beginning the honeymoon a little early."
"Remember when I said you were a fruitcake?" Daniel snapped, getting up from his chair. "I take it way back. You are certifiably nuts!"
"Oh, just because I have someone give you a ride to where I am..."
"You had someone kidnap me!" Daniel interrupted. "I have a very big problem with that! Now, unlock these cuffs and set in a course for Earth."
"Excuse me?" Daniel blurted. "That wasn't a request! I'm not going to stay on this ship with you, I want to go home, and since you had me brought here, it's only fair that you take me back!"
Vala looked as if she were considering it. "Mmmm...no. I don't think I will. Give it a month or two, and I promise that you'll be glad I had you kidnapped."
"I don't need a month or two," Daniel growled, thoroughly frustrated. "I don't even need a second. I'm not happy about being kidnapped by you, I'll never be happy about it, so why don't we just head back to Earth now and spare the both of us a lot of boredom, huh?"
Vala gave him another impish smile. "I think I like you with cuffs on. You're so...helpless."
Daniel fought the urge to back away from her. "Take them off of me, now."
Vala sighed and began to unlock them, but before he could pull his hands away she snapped a black bracelet onto each wrist and grinned. "I don't like you with naked wrists anyway."
"What are these?" Daniel demanded, ready to kill her. "What are these things?"
"They are command cuffs," Vala explained. "They're on you to keep you from trying to get away from me when I want you close."
"Oh, that's just disturbing on so many levels," Daniel remarked as the implications of the cuffs set in. "Take them off of me. Now."
Vala appeared to think about, but she grinned. "Nope. Don't think so. Now, those cuffs are very special. I just have to order them together, and they'll link with one another, confining your hands. There are points all over the ship where I just have to tell them to hold you there, and they will. As long as you're a good boy and don't try to run away, Daniel, I won't order them to do that. Otherwise, you can move around the ship just as you would your own. Understand?"
"I understand I want to kill you right now," Daniel muttered.
For the first time, Vala appeared angry. "Hands together."
Daniel got the shock of his life as the cuffs sprang together, holding his wrists together. He stared at Vala, wondering just what was going to happen.
Vala gave him a wink. "Understand?"
He didn't need to answer.