Author's Note: Team friendship. Sam/Jack UST. Jacob/George friendship.
Double Jeopardy Recap: SG1 arrive on Juna and are quickly captured. They seem bemused when the lead warrior, Darian, identifies them correctly as SG1. They are informed that Cronus will be pleased at their capture but suddenly, Darian realises that Jack is no longer present. The overseer instructs Darian to find Jack and he returns home to his wife to find Jack already there. Darian is confused but fearing for the safety of his wife, he tells Jack that SG1 was there before. They convinced the people of Juna to rebel against the Jaffa of Heru'ur; they were successful and buried their Stargate but Cronus arrived in a ship and punished them. Darian says he will not be fooled again. Jack leaves him. The next day, Jack disguised as a Juna warrior, sneaks into the pyramid and watches as the rest of SG1 is brought before Cronus. He orders Darian to kill Daniel. The shot impacts decapitates Daniel revealing him to be a robot. Darian and Cronus are equally disturbed.
Back on Earth, Harlan contacts the SGC and is granted passage. He arrives and asks for the help of SG1 to help their robot duplicates. He tells Hammond and a bemused Sam, Jack and Teal'c (Daniel being away on a mission) that their duplicates go on missions – Robot Sam having developed a portable power pack – and they are late returning from their last one. Hammond is reluctant to authorise a mission and both Jack and Sam agree that going on one isn't necessary. Harlan requests that they dial the planet the duplicates went to so he can help. Sam recognises the address and when they dial and send a MALP through, Robot Jack talks to them along with Darian, who has realised Cronus is not a God given his surprise at Robot Daniel.
SG1 head to the planet and meet with Robot Jack and Darian. Robot Jack and Jack are very hostile to each other but a plan is formed to take the mothership in orbit. Robot Jack requests the help of his team-mates through an internal radio in his head. Robot Sam and Robot Teal'c are both being held by Cronus and being interrogated for information. The plan works; Teal'c suffers injury when Cronus tries to kill him before his robot counterpart kills Cronus and all the robots are fatally injured. As Robot Jack dies, Jack accepts that perhaps they weren't as different as he had insisted.
The sirens blared through the SGC and George Hammond took the stairs swiftly down to the control room.
'Receiving IDC, sir.' The technician reported crisply. 'It's SG1, sir.'
'Open the iris.' Hammond ordered.
'Incoming transmission, sir.'
The General automatically straightened as the video monitor flickered into life. Jack O'Neill looked back at him. At least, he hoped it was his Jack O'Neill and not the robot duplicate he had spoken to earlier. 'Colonel?'
'Yes, sir.' Jack grinned at him. 'I have good news.'
Hammond's thin eyebrows rose. 'Oh?'
'We have eliminated Cronus, sir, and taken possession of his mothership.' Jack reported briskly. He looked pleased with himself.
Hammond frowned. 'Colonel, did I…'
'Yes, General. You did hear me correctly.' It occurred to Hammond that Jack looked impossibly smug. 'A mothership.'
Hammond found himself smiling, and wasn't surprised to see the rest of the control room smiling alongside him.
Jack sobered. 'General, I'm going to need a medic team out here asap. Teal'c's a little beaten up. He says Junior is taking care of it but…'
'And we're going to need every available man we have to keep her secure.' Jack continued. 'We've got a ton of Jaffa locked up in the bowels of the ship. Teal'c would like to get a message to Bra'tac; he wants to offer Cronus's Jaffa freedom or something.'
Hammond turned to an Airman in the corner. 'Get all available SG teams geared up and ready to move out in the next ten minutes.' His gaze returned to the Colonel. 'Back-up is on its way, Jack, and I'll see to it that Bra'tac is informed.'
Jack shuffled awkwardly. 'Is, uh, Harlan with you?'
'We've assigned quarters and he's there presently.' Hammond informed him. 'I take it you have news of the robots?'
'They're all dead, sir.' Jack said briskly. He pulled a face and he looked distinctly uncomfortable as he cleared his throat. 'They might have helped us out a little.'
Hammond nodded slowly. He couldn't deny his own feelings in regards to the news edged more toward relief than sorrow. The robot duplicates had been a security headache. 'I understand. I'll let Harlan know.'
'Thank you, sir.'
'We'll dial back in ten with your back-up.' Hammond said.
'Understood, sir.' Jack nodded. A second later, the wormhole blinked out.
The next couple of hours passed in a haze for Hammond. The first wave of back-up went to Juna to assist SG1. Updates to the President and the Pentagon resulted in all the current mission priorities being rewritten. Every available SG team was recalled in anticipation of being sent to Juna. Messages were relayed to their allies; Bra'tac sent a message back confirming that he would travel directly to Juna to assist Teal'c.
It was only then that Hammond ordered an Airman to retrieve Harlan from the guest quarters. He was in his office when the rotund robot was shown into his room.
'Komtrya.' Harlan said cheerfully.
Hammond waved him into a seat and noted the worried look in the robot's eyes beyond a surface veneer of affability. 'I'm afraid the news isn't good.'
'Oh dear, oh dear.' Harlan's face turned downcast.
'I'm sorry but the robot duplicates of SG1 are dead.' Hammond broke the news without fanfare.
Harlan crumpled like a tissue paper, folding in on himself and covering his face with his hands. 'I told them they must not go but they would not listen.'
'I know this is probably not a consolation to you but they helped our SG1 free the people of Juna from the rule of Cronus.' Hammond said kindly. 'They died with honour.'
The robot lowered his hands slowly. 'I have grown accustomed to them.' He suddenly looked at Hammond wishfully. 'I could make more duplicates…'
'I very much doubt that SG1 would volunteer for such a procedure again,' Hammond said, 'and nor would I allow it.'
'But what will I do?' Harlan said clearly distressed. 'What will I do without them?'
'Harlan…' Hammond sighed, taking in the robot's evident distress. 'SG1 reported that you created the duplicates because you required assistance maintaining the equipment on the planet. Is that correct?'
'It is.' Harlan gave a wobbly smile. 'I cannot continue to do so without them.'
'I could offer an engineering team to assist you.' Hammond said kindly.
Harlan brightened. 'I could duplicate…'
'No!' Hammond said forcefully, cutting off the robot mid-sentence. He stabbed his desk. 'No duplicates. We'll send an engineering team to your planet to help you and in exchange you can teach us about your power and duplication technology. But you are not to duplicate anyone. Is that understood?'
Harlan nodded chastised.
'I'll make the arrangements and send a team through within the next couple of days.' Hammond said gentling his voice. 'You have my condolences. We'll make arrangements for you to return to your planet now.'
Harlan gave a sharp nod. 'Thank you, General.' He got to his feet and bowed.
Hammond waved at an Airman to escort the robot to the gate room and gave a sigh of relief as Harlan left his office. He reached for the stack of paperwork that had built up in the wake of ensuring that the Goa'uld ship could be held. Time passed; Hammond wasn't certain how long before the sirens started up again. He was out of his seat and headed down the stairs without thinking about it.
'Report.' He ordered as he took up position behind the technician.
'Incoming wormhole, sir.' There was a pause. 'Receiving IDC. It's the Tok'ra, sir.'
'Open the iris.' Hammond said briskly. He didn't wait for the acknowledgement to his order but made his way straight to the gate room. He was at the bottom of the metal ramp when a single figure stepped through the shimmering blue event horizon.
Hammond's round face broke into a welcome smile. 'Jake.'
Jacob Carter returned Hammond's handshake warmly. 'George. Selmak says hello too.'
Hammond nodded at the mention of Jacob's Tok'ra symbiote. 'Of course; welcome back, Selmak.'
Jacob's head inclined slightly. His dark eyes twinkled. 'We got your message.'
The General's chest puffed out with pride even as they began the walk to Hammond's office. 'It's quite something.'
'How?' Jacob asked. The disbelief was evident in the single word. 'How did they do it?'
Hammond waited a moment before replying as they took seats in his office and he ordered his aide to get some refreshments. 'I admit I don't know the exact details. I haven't had the chance to debrief SG1 yet. We've been focused on getting enough troops to the planet to have a fighting chance to hold the ship.'
'Understandable.' Jacob said. He paused as the aide returned with a china coffee pot and cups.
Hammond poured out a cup of hot coffee and handed it to Jacob.
Do you have to? Selmak complained silently in Jacob's head.
Yes. I like coffee. Jacob took the cup from Hammond with a grateful smile.
I don't, Selmak reminded him.
Jacob ignored Selmak's moue of distaste and took a large sip. He gave an appreciative sigh. His attention moved back to Hammond who had retaken his seat with a cup of coffee of his own. 'We have a proposition for you.'
'Oh?' Hammond looked over the rim of his cup at Jacob.
'We've been debating moving the Tok'ra base for some time now.' Jacob said, his fingers wrapping around the delicate china. 'We knew when we took the decision to keep Tanith around, our location would be compromised.'
Hammond's lips pursed at the mention of the Goa'uld spy that the Tok'ra had elected to keep within their ranks in order to use him for misinformation. 'And you want to use the ship we have just acquired to make the move.' He surmised.
'You always did catch on fast, George.' Jacob said with a quick grin. He took another sip of coffee. 'A mothership would give us the ability to move all our people and take our Stargate to somewhere off the Goa'uld grid.'
'They wouldn't be able to track you.' Hammond realised. He sat back in the leather chair and regarded Jacob with understanding.
Jacob set aside his cup and tugged on his tunic. 'And the timing is good. We've had a couple of close calls in recent weeks. We think Tanith is managing to get some real information out to Apophis despite our best efforts to control him.'
'He's lost his usefulness.' Hammond folded his hands over his stomach.
'You got that right.' Jacob's dark eyes were deadly serious. 'He's becoming a liability.' He gestured at his old friend. 'We intend arresting him shortly. We'll extract him from the host and leave him on Vorash while we move the rest of the Tok'ra.'
'Teal'c may want some say in that.' Hammond warned Jacob. Tanith had murdered Teal'c's lover, Sho'nac.
'I'll talk to him.' Jacob promised. 'The extraction process is excruciatingly painful for the symbiote; I don't think he'll be displeased at the punishment.'
Hammond refrained from comment.
'In exchange for helping us to move we're prepared to work with you to show you how to fly and maintain the mothership.' Jacob concluded. He smiled suddenly. 'In truth, George, we'd like to keep it – we could put it to good use – but I told the Tok'ra Council that you probably wouldn't go for that.'
'No.' Hammond agreed, his eyebrows rising in surprise.
'So, do this for us and let us help you.' Jacob's hand rose slightly from the arm of his chair. 'If nothing else, we should be able to ensure there isn't a repeat of what happened to Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c when you tested the glider.'
Hammond flushed a little. 'Point taken, Jacob.' He sighed as he considered the Tok'ra's request and offer. It was a fair exchange and he really did want to avoid a repeat of the mistakes that had been made in testing a glider they had cannibalised some months earlier. They had almost lost the Jaffa and SG1's team leader in the test flight. 'I'm going to need to discuss this with my superiors.'
'Understood.' Jacob said easily. He had expected as much. 'Perhaps I could join the next set of troops headed for Juna while we wait for an answer?'
'I don't see a problem with that.' Hammond said. He smiled. 'I know a certain Air Force Major who will be pleased to see you.'
Jacob's dark eyes warmed as he got to his feet. He hadn't seen his daughter, Samantha, for a long while. 'How is Sam?'
'Good.' Hammond said quickly. He gestured at the other man. 'We had a…a situation a couple of weeks ago but she made a full recovery.'
Jacob stiffened and he pinned Hammond with a hard stare. 'A full recovery?'
'She was taken over by some kind of computer entity.' Hammond explained. 'She's OK. She doesn't remember anything about it.'
'That's sounds like a blessing.' Jacob took in the strained look in Hammond's eyes.
'You could say that.' Hammond said quietly. He waved a hand at Jacob's inquisitiveness. 'We contacted a world from the Ancient repository of knowledge. A transmission came back through – some kind of entity. When we realised it was in the computer, I ordered it purged. It managed to build a…a nest in the MALP room. Colonel O'Neill wanted to blow it up. Major Carter and Doctor Jackson wanted to talk with it. I agreed with them. She was taken over by the entity.'
'And?' Jacob prompted. 'I take it from your expression there's more to it than that?'
'The entity refused to leave her but Colonel O'Neill managed to threaten it.' Hammond said. 'It transferred her consciousness into our computer before the Colonel killed it.'
Jacob looked at him in shock.
'Unfortunately, we didn't realise Sam had been transferred. We spent some time thinking she was dead, Jacob.' Hammond admitted.
'Holy Hannah.' Jacob sank back into his chair. Even Selmak remained speechless in his head.
Hammond sighed heavily. 'Luckily, Doctor Jackson realised that Sam was in the computer and we were able to get her back into her body.'
'But she's OK?' Jacob checked.
'She's fine.' Hammond confirmed swiftly. 'Like I said, she has no memory of it.'
Jacob shook his head. The urge to check his daughter was in one piece was almost overwhelming.
Hammond stood up again reading Jacob's thoughts easily enough. 'Let's get you to Juna.'
Sam watched as the medics placed a bandage over Teal'c's shoulder wound. He lay slumped against the steps leading to the throne-like chair and his dark skin had taken on a grey cast.
Teal'c caught her concerned look. 'I am fine, Major Carter.'
She knew it was pointless to argue with him. She patted his good shoulder and moved away a little. They'd cleared the room of the bodies; Cronus's body had been taken to the pyramid where he would be displayed to help the remaining Jaffa and the people of Juna accept that the God they had honoured was nothing more than flesh and bone.
Bra'tac had arrived with a contingent of Free Jaffa and taken charge of what happened with Cronus's Jaffa. There was already a steady stream of Jaffa being escorted back through the Stargate under guard. Sam had asked the colonel where the Jaffa were being taken and the Colonel had replied brusquely that he didn't care so long as they were off his ship and off the planet. It had been Teal'c who had informed her that Bra'tac was sending any who refused to join them to a neutral planet. They would be left with basic supplies and it would be up to the Jaffa where they went from there.
Sam sighed and rubbed her forehead. Her team leader was busy deploying the troops General Hammond had sent to key areas of the ship. He had ordered her to hold the bridge. She was itching to examine the controls properly but she knew it would have to wait.
The medics packed up and she acknowledged their departure with a brief nod of her head. Teal'c was struggling to stand. 'You need to rest.' Sam said trying to inject as much authority as she could into the words.
'I am fine.' Teal'c insisted. 'I must go and assist Bra'tac.'
'Teal'c.' Sam pushed him back onto the steps firmly as he tried to get to his feet. 'You're staying here and recovering. That's an order.'
Teal'c's eyebrow rose but he inclined his head. 'Perhaps a rest would be wise.'
Sam turned away so he wouldn't see the small smile that flickered to her lips. She looked around the bridge with a sense of disbelief. 'I can't believe we did this.'
'It is an unexpected success.' Teal'c murmured.
'We couldn't have done it without the robots.' Sam admitted. 'If the other me hadn't been able to get the crystals out of the control panel…'
'Indeed.' Teal'c said. 'My robot double was also of great assistance in the battle with Cronus.' He winced – a clear sign of the pain he was in. 'I believe I should endeavour to kel no reem. It may enable my symbiote to heal faster.'
Sam nodded. 'Well, you just rest and I'll, er, I'll…' she pointed at the console, 'I'll be over there.'
Teal'c lay down gingerly and Sam watched as his features smoothed into a relaxed state.
She sighed and walked to the console. She looked it over. The controls had luckily not been hit in the fight. There was a tactical display showing movement all through the ship. She sighed, feeling useless. It was an important task holding the bridge, Sam tried to tell herself. It would be the main target if anyone tried retaking the ship. She should be pleased the Colonel trusted her with the task. She wondered why she couldn't help feeling that he was avoiding her. She yanked her thoughts back to the task at hand.
The silence was oppressive.
Sam fingered her gun and sat down. It had been a crazy day. In truth, she had never really given much thought to their robot doubles after they had left them. Soon after the incident, they had been saving the world from Apophis and then there had been Jolinar…she had pretty much forgotten about them. She couldn't help but feel guilty at that. They had just abandoned the robots to their fate.
Was it bizarre to be proud that her double had found some way of creating a portable power pack? Of finding a way off the planet to continue the fight against the Goa'uld? Or was it narcissism to feel that way? What had happened to the robots in the last three years? How many missions had they done? How many people had they helped? Had they grown stronger as friends? Had her double and the Colonel…
Don't go there, she thought abruptly. Just because she had been foolish enough to fall for her CO didn't mean her robot double had been as stupid.
She finally gave into the temptation to think about it. It had been slightly less than two weeks before that she had been possessed by a computer entity; less than two weeks since the Colonel had apparently killed her to save the base; less than two weeks since her miraculous recovery. Less than a week since the Colonel had returned from leave and made it clear that whatever feelings he had developed for her, he was moving on.
It had hurt in the moment he had told her in his own oblique way; the only way he could, given their working relationship, their military ranks.
'It got a little too close there for a while.' His eyes held hers and begged her to understand. 'I hope we can put this behind us, Carter.' He continued quietly. 'Move on?'
She had sucked it up. They had been on base after all. But when she'd gone home to her new house...They had known for a while they had both crossed the line allowed where their feelings were concerned. They had both buried the truth in order to remain working together; the mission was too important and they were both needed on SG1. Yet they had kept the truth of their feelings alive with the hope that one day when they no longer serving together…the ache in her chest reminded Sam she needed to breathe.
It was stupid to mourn something she had never really had in the first place and she understood his reasons; she understood them all too clearly. Military personnel weren't meant to fall in love with each other. They had gotten too close and the Colonel had been the one to pay the price. She could only imagine what had he had gone through shooting her to save the base. She remembered how she had felt when she had shot Martouf – the echo of Jolinar's grief and her own. If she'd had to shoot Jack…
Yep; Sam understood his decision. They needed to stay objective in the field. He had told her once that he tried to make the right decisions despite how close SG1 had become; tried to make decisions he could live with and she knew deciding to kill her had not been easy for him – it would have been devastating for her in his place. With no end in sight to the war against the Goa'uld, it was only likely that either one of them would be put in the same position again some day. Maybe it would be easier if they weren't in love with each other. Maybe they really should try to put their feelings behind them and move on.
She wondered how she did that. How did she fall out of love with him? She didn't think it was possible but she had noticed a definite difference in the way the Colonel interacted with her since he had made his decision. Oh, he was still friendly; still joked with her, still sat next to her at briefings. But he'd stopped flirting, stopped teasing her or making any personal inquiries or comments. In fact, he was treating her with nothing but an appropriate level of friendliness, respect and professionalism that any team leader might display for a member of their team who they had worked with for a number of years.
Sam sighed. She couldn't dwell on it; couldn't let it distract her. The only other option was to leave SG1. The thought shot through her like lightening. Was it an option? She could leave SG1 and…what? She loved her job and she loved being part of the Air Force. The Colonel would never ask her to give up either, and more, she suspected that he would be disappointed in her if she did. He had told her their mission was important and she was needed on SG1. No. It was a mutually exclusive deal; the Colonel or her job and mission? He had made it clear which he had chosen. The Colonel had made his decision to move on from his feelings for her and she had to accept that. She could only hope that when she truly did accept it, that whenever she believed whatever feelings they had for each other were behind them, that she could move on with some grace.
Her radio crackled. 'Carter.'
'Here, sir.' She responded crisply.
'Dad's here. He'll be with you in ten. Out.' The Colonel relayed.
Her Dad was on Juna? It made sense; the SGC would have had to have informed the Tok'ra. She felt a wave of childish desire at the thought of seeing him; the want of a hurt child for a parent despite her adult years. Not that she could confide in him; not about her feelings about the Colonel. She waited eagerly and greeted him with a hug as he walked onto the bridge.
'Hi kiddo.' Jacob grinned. 'So,' he stepped back and waved at the bridge, 'you've been busy.'
'It wasn't really planned.' Sam admitted.
'Exactly how did it happen?' Jacob asked.
Sam told him of the day's events.
Jacob shook his head in disbelief. 'Unbelievable.' He looked at her carefully. 'So I understand you were possessed by some computer thing?'
Sam glanced away from him. 'Yeah.' She moved to the console. 'I don't remember it.'
'Sounds like you got lucky.' Jacob said, walking up to her. Her father reached out and took hold of her hand. 'Are you OK?'
'I'm fine, Dad.' Sam insisted.
'You don't look fine.'
'It's nothing.' Sam shrugged.
'Hmmm.' Jacob let it go. Something was bothering her but he took Selmak's advice not to push it; Sam would tell him when and if she wanted. 'Actually, you getting this ship is great timing.' He filled her in on the Tok'ra's plans for the ship.
Sam stared at him. 'Does, uh, does the Colonel know about this yet?'
'Not yet.' Jacob said. 'You know the drill; the President will need to make a decision on this one.'
'Well, in the meantime, can you tell me how any of this stuff actually works?' She asked hopefully, looking at the array of controls.
'That's what I'm here for.' Jacob smiled.
'I'm glad you're here, Dad.' Sam said.
Jacob patted her hand. 'So am I.' He let go. 'Let's get started.'
Jack was grinning as the fourth member of SG1 walked through the wormhole onto Juna. 'Daniel.'
'Jack.' Daniel took his glasses off and wiped them with a handkerchief. 'So.'
'So.' Jack jerked his thumb over his shoulder. 'You wanna see?'
Daniel sighed. He fell into step beside the Colonel. 'So how did you manage to get hold of a mothership?' General Hammond had been a bit vague on the details when Daniel had landed back in the SGC having been recalled along with SG11. Luckily, the details of the trade treaty had been agreed with the Ankari a day before.
'Oh, you know, the usual.' Jack said breezily. 'A good strategy, perfect execution…'
'Luck?' Daniel suggested archly.
'And luck.' Jack allowed.
'The General said something about our robot duplicates?' Daniel prompted.
'Apparently, they were going through the Stargate on missions.' Jack informed him. The shake of the head gave away Jack's unhappiness with what their duplicates had done.
'Well, you can't blame them.' Daniel said without thinking.
'Oh can't I?' Jack shot back.
'They were essentially us, Jack.' Daniel pointed out.
Jack shot him a look. 'They promised to bury the gate.'
'Would you have buried the gate?'
'That's not the point.'
Daniel sighed. 'That is the point.'
'No, it's not.'
'Yes, it is.'
'No, it's not.'
'Yes, it is…woah.' Daniel blinked up at the mothership.
Jack slapped his shoulder. 'Told ya. Come on.'
They made their way into the pyramid. There was a stream of inhabitants from Juna making their way in and out.
Daniel looked at them questioningly. 'What's going on?'
'They're viewing Cronus's body.'
'You killed Cronus?' Daniel's eyebrows shot up above his glasses.
'I guess Hammond forgot to mention that.' Jack said as they made their way through to the main room.
'Daniel Jackson.' Darian, the lead warrior hurried toward them. 'You are alive.'
'Yes.' Daniel replied cautiously.
'It is good to see you alive.' Darian grasped his arm tightly. 'I killed you.'
Daniel blinked at him. 'You did?'
'Your robot you.' Jack explained.
'I am sorry.' Darian said earnestly.
'It's OK.' Daniel reassured him.
'Come on,' Jack tapped his arm gently, 'this way.' They took positions in the centre of the temple.
The Colonel clicked his radio and the rings streamed down from above. They were transported in a heartbeat.
'Cool, huh?' Jack said. He led Daniel through the corridors, nodding at the SGC personnel who were on guard duty at various locations.
Daniel followed Jack mindlessly. He had no idea where he was going and he only hoped Jack did. It had been a shock to get the message that SG1 – or rather the rest of SG1 – had gone on a mission without him and got hold of a mothership. And killed Cronus, Daniel reminded himself. He mustn't forget that.
He couldn't ignore the uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his stomach that it was more evidence that he wasn't really needed on the team. A year before, they had all gone off to fight the Replicators on Thor's ship without him and succeeded, and now…now they had gone off together, defeated a high ranking Goa'uld System Lord and somehow won possession of a mothership. Yep. Unneeded was definitely how he felt.
Daniel sighed inwardly. He was being overly sensitive. He knew that. He realised that in a fighting scenario, his skills were limited at best; a hindrance at worst despite his improvement in shooting and fighting over the years. He was utilised best in the mission he had just left; building bridges with other cultures, establishing treaties, exploring new cultures. And it wasn't as though SG1 existed only as a team performing missions. They were friends – family. Even if his skills weren't needed occasionally, he knew he was wanted on the team regardless.
They stepped onto the bridge.
'Daniel.' Sam gave him a bright smile. He smiled back at her and waved to Jacob, standing next to her.
Teal'c gave him a nod of welcome and Daniel walked over to the Jaffa. His team-mates' welcome had helped ease the knot in his gut.
'You OK, Teal'c?' Daniel asked.
'I am fine.' Teal'c said. 'It is only a shoulder wound. My symbiote will heal it.' He smiled at Daniel. 'I have my revenge on Cronus.'
Daniel looked over at Jack who shrugged in response. 'That's good, I guess.' The archaeologist murmured.
The radio went before anything further could be said. 'Colonel O'Neill, this is General Hammond.'
Jack pressed it quickly. 'O'Neill here, sir.'
'Colonel, you have new orders.' Hammond's voice crackled a little with static. 'The Joint Chiefs and the President have agreed to the Tok'ra's request for us to lend them the ship to move base.'
Jack shot Jacob a look. Jacob smiled back at him.
'Oh they have, have they?' Jack replied to his CO.
'They have, Colonel.' Hammond said firmly. 'As soon as Cronus's Jaffa have been dealt with, all personnel are to return to the SGC. SG1 will accompany General Carter and Selmak to Vorash and assist with the move. In exchange the Tok'ra will provide us with information on how to fly and use the mothership.'
'Sir, I have to protest.' Jack responded, not bothering to hide his reply from Jacob.
'Yes, I'm sure you do.'
Hammond's wry response had Jacob smiling and Sam ducking her head.
'For the record, I think this is a bad idea, sir.' Jack continued.
'Colonel, we're only loaning them the mothership for one mission.' Hammond said, obviously trying to placate the SG1 team-leader.
'With respect, sir, I don't even loan my truck to anyone.'
It was Daniel's turn to cover his laugh with a cough.
'This is a direct order, Colonel.' Hammond replied evidently at the end of his patience. 'Once your mission with the Tok'ra is completed, you can bring the mothership back to Earth for study. Understood.'
'Yes, sir.' Jack replied with a sigh. 'Understood.'
'I'll leave you to make the necessary arrangements your end. Hammond out.'
Jack lowered his hand and pointed a finger accusingly at Jacob. 'You knew about this?'
'Of course.' Jacob responded smoothly.
'Indeed, Jacob Carter has informed both myself and Major Carter of the plans to move the Tok'ra base.' Teal'c confirmed, placing his hands behind his back.
'And you didn't tell me?' Jack pressed.
'I was waiting for the right moment.' Jacob smiled at him irrepressively.
Jack sighed and whirled away to Teal'c. 'You want to check on how far Bra'tac is with the Jaffa?'
Teal'c bowed his head.
Daniel decided a strategic retreat was in order. 'I'll, er, I'll just go with Teal'c.' He waited until he was off the bridge before he let himself smile broadly at Jack's disgusted expression.
Teal'c left Daniel with Darian, and made his way to the Stargate. He kept the pain from his face. His shoulder ached. His symbiote was recovering from its own injuries after Cronus had tried to crush the life from it. It would be sometime before it would be able to heal Teal'c's wound.
Despite the pain, he felt a deep satisfaction at the death of Cronus. His one regret was that he had not crushed the life from the Goa'uld with his bare hands. It surprised him that he did not truly mind the assist from his robot double. Teal'c did not have the same abhorrence of being duplicated that O'Neill experienced nor the fascination for it that Major Carter and Daniel Jackson exhibited. The Jaffa firmly believed that his own existence was not diminished nor enhanced by being duplicated. It had happened. Teal'c was comfortable with the idea that it was his duplicate and not himself who had fired the shot that had killed Cronus. Were they not one and the same ultimately? His father was avenged by Teal'c's own hand and Teal'c had kept the promise he had made to his mother as a child.
He stepped into the clearing and watched as Jaffa after Jaffa disappeared into the blue wormhole under the watchful gaze of the Free Jaffa and the SGC's security forces.
Bra'tac spotted him and walked hurriedly over to meet him. 'Teal'c.'
'Master Bra'tac.' Teal'c bowed his head as he clasped Bra'tac's forearm warmly. He looked past his mentor to the Jaffa again. 'I see we have made much progress.'
Bra'tac snorted. 'A third have joined us. They have pledged to fight with us against the Goa'uld. The others would not be swayed despite the evidence of their God's demise.'
'A third is a substantial number, old friend.' Teal'c said.
'Harrumph.' Bra'tac looked at him with keen eyes. 'Your symbiote has yet to heal you?'
Teal'c didn't bother denying it. Bra'tac knew him too well. 'It requires time to heal.'
A young Jaffa caught sight of Teal'c and stumbled as he made his way to the Stargate.
Bra'tac shook his head. 'Your defeat of Cronus has only added to your legend amongst our kind.'
'I have my vengeance.' Teal'c said simply.
'And an army.' Bra'tac pointed out. 'One that could benefit from the leadership of a younger man.'
'You are not old.' Teal'c said firmly.
'And yet I am no longer young.' Bra'tac rejoined. He swept his cloak up over one arm. 'Walk with me, Teal'c.'
They headed away from the gate towards the forest before Bra'tac stopped them.
'I cannot come with you.' Teal'c forestalled the request he was certain Bra'tac was about to make.
'You are needed, Teal'c.' Bra'tac looked at him determinedly. 'This rebellion cries out for someone to lead,' he held up a hand, 'and I do not command the respect of all those who would seek freedom as you do.'
Teal'c stiffened. 'My place is with SG1.'
Bra'tac looked at him and nodded slowly. 'Can you return with us for a while to settle the men?'
'I cannot.' Regret coated his words. He inclined his head. 'Jacob Carter and Selmak of the Tok'ra have requested the use of the mothership to move the Tok'ra base.' He looked at Bra'tac. 'They will not take Tanith with them. He will be punished for his duplicity and for the murder of Sho'nac. I must be there.'
Bra'tac's eyes widened. 'I understand.'
Teal'c knew Bra'tac did. Vengeance was the way of the Jaffa; an ancient rite of justice for wrongs. It came before all other loyalties; all other duties. The Tau'ri understood vengeance but it rarely took on the level of importance that it meant for the Jaffa. Had O'Neill or Hammond stood in front of him instead of Bra'tac, they may have insisted that staying and helping Bra'tac was the right thing to do; that the mission to the Tok'ra could go on without him. Teal'c knew Bra'tac would never make such a request now he understood why Teal'c was keen to leave.
'I will spend time with you when I return.' Teal'c compromised.
'Very well.' Bra'tac motioned toward the Stargate with his staff weapon. 'We should return.'
Teal'c followed his old mentor. It was becoming more and more difficult to deny his competing priorities, Teal'c mused. In the early days of his rebellion, he had been alone and working with the Tau'ri, being part of SG1 had been his salvation and his hope. Yet the Free Jaffa were growing in numbers; more joined their cause with every day that passed. Bra'tac was right; they had an army and it needed leadership. Perhaps the Free Jaffa could now make a difference in a way they had not been able to before; perhaps his place was no longer with SG1.
The thought disturbed him more than he wished to admit. Sho'nac had questioned his continuing presence among the Tau'ri; even Selmak had encouraged him to spend more time with the Free Jaffa. And he did miss being with other Jaffa; being with his own kind. As much as he loved his team-mates, their ways were not his own.
It did not help, Teal'c considered seriously, that he could see his team-mates had been affected by recent events. Distance was seeping into the cracks that had formed between them. He still believed SG1 was stronger together; still believed in his friends' ability to get past the current difficulties and continue on but…but, Teal'c realised with some chagrin as he made his way back to the pyramid, he wondered how much longer he could claim that his place was with them.
The bridge window was filled with the distorted light that came with hyperspace travel. Jack looked at it with a scowl. He would have preferred to have been headed home to Earth instead of to the Tok'ra base of Vorash. He really didn't think it was a good idea to loan out their brand new mothership to the Tok'ra – not just the Tok'ra – anyone. They had waited for years to get their hands on the kind of technology a mothership represented. It could defend Earth; it had weapons and gliders. It was the single best technology find in their four years of searching.
OK, so he could understand that the offer of flying and engineering lessons was attractive especially after what had happened with the X301 glider test. The memory of being stranded in space wasn't one he really wanted to repeat but still…loaning their shiny new asset out so quickly? Especially after they had risked life and limb to get it; especially when their robot duplicates had given their lives to get it. Jack sighed and stretched out across the top step.
The whole idea of the robot duplicates had never sat easily with him. He had been quite happy at the idea that they were somewhere stuck on a planet and he didn't have to think about them. Ever. He wasn't truly surprised the Carter robot had devised a way of the planet for them or that his own counterpart hadn't followed his promise to bury the gate. They were too alike as much as he hated to admit it. He wouldn't have spent the rest of his life on that rock Harlan called home either.
In some ways, Jack knew his double would have been satisfied with his eventual demise; going out in battle along with his team-mates in the midst of saving a planet from the Goa'uld. Jack hoped he would be lucky enough to get the same when his time came. Of course, given the option, he'd always prefer not dying at all. Not him; not his team-mates. He definitely did not want to outlive them.
The memory of sitting by Carter's bed believing she was dead, that he had killed her flashed through him. He shivered. It hadn't happened, Jack assured himself. She was fine. She, Teal'c and Daniel were off exploring the ship. He resisted the urge to radio her and check where she was, if she was OK. He rubbed a hand over his face. He had to get over it, Jack told himself furiously, and he had to get over them as an idea.
They had gotten too close; that was his fault. He had allowed himself to fall in love with a subordinate and, worse, allowed her to fall in love with him. He should have ensured that Sam never knew how he felt; never realised her feelings were returned. He knew her. She was level-headed. She would have gotten over him quickly, moved on. All he could do now was tell her he was moving on and hoped she believed him so she could do what she should have done in the first place. And in truth, he was trying to move on himself. She had to mean no more to him than Teal'c or Daniel or anyone else under his command.
Because it was so easy not flirting with her; not dropping by her lab when he was simply bored; not inveigling her away from her work to have jello with him. Not calling by her new house to see if she still needed help with the painting or the boxes. So easy not seeing the hurt in her eyes when he treated her with professionalism and not the easy, if sometimes constrained, friendship they had built. But he had to try. Protecting her came first and that meant he needed to be able to make objective decisions and ensure the enemy never targeted her because of him; because of the way he felt.
It was for the best.
Jack wondered how much longer he would have to keep having the same conversation with himself. A noise at the console caught his attention.
Jacob had wisely kept mostly out of his way since they had taken off but the Tok'ra was flying the ship. Jack got to his feet and made his way over to the older man.
'Are we there yet?' Jack asked, standing just behind Jacob.
'It's going to be a while.' Jacob said, looking over his shoulder.
'Right.' Jack didn't move.
'I'm sorry I didn't tell you about the plan.' Jacob said.
Jack looked at him sceptically.
'I know I should have told you,' Jacob said, 'but I wanted to see Sam first. Hammond told me about the computer entity.'
'Oh.' Jack's gaze dropped to the floor. 'About that…'
'You did what you had to do, Jack.' Jacob sighed. 'I know that.'
'Yes. Well.' Jack was at a loss for words. He'd killed Jacob's daughter. 'I'm still sorry.'
Jacob looked at him. 'It can't have been easy for you.'
Jack rocked back on his heels. 'No.' The single blunt word gave away more than he intended. 'We got her back though. She's OK.' He hurried out, covering quickly. 'We're putting it behind us. Moving on.' He stopped abruptly, realising from Jacob's raised eyebrow that he was babbling.
'So. A while?' Jack questioned, gesturing at the hyperspace streaks outside.
'A while.' Jacob confirmed.
'Hey.' Daniel's quiet call announced the rest of SG1 as they reentered the bridge.
'You find anything interesting?' Jack asked as he walked over to them as they gathered on the steps.
'Not really.' Daniel wrinkled his nose as he sat down on the steps
'We've found some zats and weapons, sir.' Sam reported crisply as she joined him. 'And we've finished storing our supplies.'
'Good.' Jack looked round. 'Well, Jacob says it's going to take a while to get to Vorash so we might as well make ourselves comfortable.' He swept an arm around the empty space. 'Everybody pick a spot.'
They all settled around the steps.
'By the way,' Daniel asked, 'what happened to the, uh, robot us?'
'We had them transported back to the SGC.' Sam informed him, opening her eyes. She had settled in a sitting position against the wall, legs stretched out in front of her. Daniel sat beside her. Across the steps, Jack and Teal'c had taken similar positions.
'We didn't give them back to Harlan?' Daniel asked curious.
'No.' Jack glared at him. 'Why would we do that?'
'They did live with Harlan for the last three years. Maybe he would have liked to have, I don't know, buried them?' Daniel said.
'Perhaps he would have been able to have repaired them.' Teal'c suggested.
'You see,' Jack stated firmly, 'that reason right there is why it would have been a bad idea.'
'I don't think they could be repaired.' Sam said. 'Harlan seemed quite certain if their energy ran out then that was it.'
'It must have been weird seeing them again.' Daniel commented, folding his arms over his chest.
'Weird's one way of putting it.' Jack said caustically.
'I take it you and your double got along as well as you did the last time.' Daniel's voice was filled with amusement.
'Hey,' Jack said, 'I so owned him!'
'Right, sir.' Sam said.
He turned to glare at her but when she smiled knowingly at him, Jack sighed and let his gaze slip away.
'It was weird seeing them again.' Sam admitted, replying to Daniel's question. 'It was like looking back at ourselves three years ago.' There was a wistfulness in her voice that had Jack wincing.
'You think they ever imagined we would still be together as a team?' Daniel asked idly.
'Perhaps.' Teal'c answered.
'I was wondering before what they must have gone through in the last three years.' Daniel continued. 'I mean, when you think of everything we've been through…' his voice trailed away.
Jack cleared his throat. 'They had each other.'
They all looked exchanged a warm look of acknowledgement at his unspoken words; they'd had each other too.
'Indeed.' Teal'c's soft word had them all smiling and it was as though all the tension between them drained away with the single word. All their doubts and insecurities washed away by the strength of their bond as SG1.
Jack felt his own worries over whether he was too close, whether he could protect them fade – at least for that moment. 'Get some rest.' He told them gently. 'We've got a long journey ahead of us yet.'
Author's Note: And so we're at the end of volume II. Volume III is available and can be found under my profile.