Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Q?
Everything was blurry when Daniel first opened his eyes. As his vision cleared, he made out the figure sitting beside the bed. He smiled as Jack fumbled, almost dropping, the empty IV bag he was playing with.
"Old habits die hard."
"What?" Jack's head snapped up, and he abandoned the IV bag on the bed table.
"You sitting by my bedside."
"Oh. Well, you have a habit of getting injured. And shoved through walls by women. And . . . worse."
"I'll try to quit," Daniel said.
"You do that," Jack said, shaking a finger at Daniel. After a pause, he said, "You might want to stick with the habit of being lucky, though."
"Lucky hurts." Daniel ran a hand lightly over his ribs, feeling the bandage under his shirt.
Jack nodded. "Dr. Lam says you're out of the woods, but I'm supposed to make sure you don't move much."
Right on cue, Daniel pushed himself onto his elbows, bringing forth a hiss of pain, and craned his neck around the halfway drawn curtain. "Where's everybody else?"
Jack sighed and lightly pressed on Daniel's shoulders. "They're all gonna be fine."
"Gonna be fine?" Daniel resisted Jack, but collapsed onto his back when he felt a stab in his chest. "Last thing I remember, they were fine. Aside from Vala's ankle, shoulder and probable concussion. And Sam-" Daniel had to stop talking because of a coughing fit.
Jack poured water into a cup and waited for Daniel to stop coughing before handing it to him. "You gotta take it easy. Even if you weren't as bad off as you shoulda been."
"Nothing." Jack sat back in his chair and flicked the IV bag.
"I overheard Lam say you should've been dead with a hole in your lung that size."
Daniel's eyes widened. "Q," he said after a pause.
"What?" Jack said. He looked around for Q, then waved his hand in front of Daniel's face to see if his friend was still with him.
"He must've done something."
"Why do you say that?"
"Well, he went inside me to see if I had internal bleeding. Maybe he went back and . . . I don't know put something in the hole."
"I don't think Lam found-. Did you say inside you?"
"Yeah, please don't ask. I guess we made it back ok? I was kind of in and out."
Jack shook his head to rid it of the thought of Q inside Daniel, then filled Daniel in on how he and Vala had arrived back at the SGC. "Carter, Teal'c and Mitchell are still en route to the alpha site, but they should be getting there soon."
Daniel relaxed and yawned.
"Want a bedtime story?" Jack asked.
Daniel smiled. "Sure."
"Rumor has it Adria returned through the supergate."
"Vala has a plan to capture her."
Daniel raised his eyebrows.
"She wants to use that memory altering thingy from that planet with those aliens who altered Mitchell's memory."
"Whatever. She wants to implant false memories and use herself as bait."
Daniel bit his lip in thought. "You going to let her go through with it?"
"With a little adjusting I think it could work. Course technically, it's Landry's call."
"What does she want to do with Adria?"
"Get rid of her I guess."
"Jack, Adria's her daughter."
Daniel turned his head away.
"It was her idea, Daniel."
"I just don't want her to do something she might regret."
"Yeah," Jack said quietly.
"You should have waited for medical assistance before removing that device," Dr. Lam said as a nurse handed Sam some pills and a cup of water. "You could have done serious damage."
"I did. It'll probably never work again."
'I meant to you."
"Why did you take it off?" Q asked.
Lam jumped and sighed. "Don't you ever knock?"
"I missed you too." Q smiled innocently.
Lam rolled her eyes. "I'll go check on your test results," she said to Sam.
"Well?" Q demanded. "You could have just input the disconnect command."
"I know, but I didn't want to risk the override kicking in and prematurely reconnecting me."
"You knew about that?"
Sam scoffed. "Yep."
Q looked impressed. "He said you'd probably notice."
"Glad you're ok." And Q was gone.
"I apologize for any inconvenience they caused you," Odai Ventrell said to SG-1 in the briefing room.
"Jackson's the one who suffered the brunt of the attack," Mitchell said.
"Then I will give you this." With a grunt, Ventrell held out his hand, demanding the small chest held by one of the men who had come with him.
The man stepped forward, not raising his gaze from the briefing room table, and handed over the box.
Ventrell slid it across the table to Daniel.
Vala leaned closer from her chair beside Daniel, who was busy studying the writing on the top of the chest. "Well, open it."
Daniel turned to Vala with a look indicating she should back off. Vala smiled and gestured to the chest, but didn't retreat. In fact, she leaned in closer.
Daniel turned the small key and removed the padlock looking thing. The lid creaked as Daniel raised it to reveal a velvet-lined interior and a single orb.
Vala opened her mouth wide with a gasp and reached for the orb.
Daniel made a slight attempt to prevent her from taking it, but she brushed his hand away. The orb was so big, that even with it flat against her palm, Vala's fingers didn't reach around it. Its burnt orange, iridescent surface sprayed the room with reflected light as Vala twirled it slowly, admiring every inch. "Daniel, this is. Where did you get this?" she asked Ventrell.
"It was among Netan's possessions. I'd advise you not to let that woman see it."
"His lover," Mitchell clarified.
"Yes," Ventrell said with a sneer and a shudder.
"Daniel, this is priceless. You could get-"
"If it's priceless, I think I'll hold on to it." Daniel pried the orb from Vala's fingers and set it back in the chest. "Thank you," he said to Ventrell. "What about the chest itself?"
Vala rolled her eyes. "Worthless. You can get one like it anywhere."
"She's right," Ventrell said.
"No, I mean, what do the markings mean?"
Ventrell held out his hand for the chest, and Daniel slid it to him. "This one says 'An oath is a binding sentiment. To be avoided at all cost.'." He slid the chest back to Daniel.
"Sounds like a twisted fortune cookie," Mitchell said.
"Pretty much," Vala said, moving her head to get another glimpse of the orb before Daniel closed the chest.
"Well, you didn't have to give me anything," Daniel said, ignoring Vala's scowl.
"I brought it for Colonel Mitchell," Ventrell said. "Your little tip led me to the most lucrative position I've ever had. I'll give you this instead, Colonel." Ventrell snapped his fingers at the other man who'd accompanied him. With the same downcast gaze, the man brought a smaller box to Ventrell, who slid it to Mitchell.
"Ah, you shouldn't have." Mitchell opened the box and pulled out a long chain with a large medallion.
"I'll take that as a good sign," Mitchell said, coiling the chain back into the box.
"You know, I fell too," Vala said. "As I was trying to protect Daniel."
Ventrell smiled at Vala. "I used to frequent a dusty marketplace on Cavalitus 3. Ever heard of it? My specialty was rare artifacts. I had this one I was particularly fond of. It was a golden vessel with horns. Large. Ornate."
Vala folded her arms and slouched in her chair.
"I left my station one day to fetch something for a seductively persuasive young woman. When I returned, my entire stock was gone, including the golden vessel. I didn't see that young woman for quite some time, and I have never laid eyes on the vessel since."
Vala sighed and averted her gaze from the others at the table. When she felt Daniel's stare still on her after a few seconds, she said defensively, "Someone stole it from me."
"Hmph," Ventrell said. "If you don't mind, I'd like to take the prisoners now. I've got a busy afternoon."
"Just out of curiosity," Mitchell said, standing with Landry, Carter and Ventrell. "What will you do with them?"
"They can work in one of my mining camps. I am grateful to you, Colonel Mitchell. If you or your people need anything. . . Ever."
"Thank you," Mitchell and Daniel said.
"Teal'c, wanna help me retrieve the prisoners?"
Teal'c bowed his head to Ventrell, and followed Mitchell.
"How do you know these things?" Ollin asked.
"I was on that ship with the Orici," Daniel said. "I was the Prior who gave you those orders."
Ollin tilted his head to study Daniel. "That cannot be."
"It is. Everything I told you is true, correct?"
"Ye-es. But if you are a Prior, why do you dishonor the Orici?"
"I'm not a Prior. Not anymore."
Ollin's tilted his head in the other direction, and his features twisted in further confusion.
"I know, it's difficult to understand. But I'm telling you the truth. The Ori are not who you think they are."
"The Ori are powerful."
Ollin crossed his arms. "They possess far greater power than me. If I were to believe you and follow you, how would you protect me?"
"I'm not asking you to follow me," Daniel said. "I'm not asking you to follow anyone, least of all anyone who will deceive you."
"Than what are you asking?"
Daniel sighed. "We're taking you to some friends of ours who survived a confrontation with the Ori."
Ollin crossed his arms tighter. "Impossible."
"Many, many of their people were lost in the process, but the survivors were able to find a new home. They're taking in anyone who opposes the Ori."
"I have not agreed to oppose the Ori."
Daniel held up his hands. "I know that. Just listen to these people."
"They have proof of what you claim?"
"They have more proof than I can give you, yes."
"Can you prove that you were in the Orici's mind?"
"Not without you hearing it from her, no. All you have is my word for that."
"And your knowledge of my activities on that ship."
"Can you summon her?"
"If she says you were a Prior, then I will agree to talk to your friends."
Daniel thought for a minute, then called for Q.
"Feeling better?" Q asked.
"Oh, yes. Thank you, by the way."
Q waved dismissively. "Pshaw."
"I wonder if you could do me a favor."
Q frowned. "As I've reminded you on several occasions-"
"You're omnipotent, right. Sorry."
"I know it's a hard concept to understand with your finite little brain."
Daniel decided to ignore the racial slur. "I need to talk to Adria. Can you, I mean will you bring her here."
Q leaned close and gazed into Daniel's eyes. "You must have banged your head harder than I thought."
"I just need to talk to her for a minute or so."
"Talking doesn't seem to be her style."
"Normally, I could identify with that. But in this case, I think it would be best to leave her where she is." Jack had arrived and pushed his way to the front of the crowd from the Ori ship's chapel. "In another galaxy. Far, far, far away," he added.
"Daniel, when Carter and Vala execute their plan and Adria is strapped to that chair, you can talk to her all you want."
"You should listen to him," Q said, pointing his thumb at Jack. "He's not as dumb as he looks."
Jack stopped mid nod at Q's first statement to protest the second point, but Q had already waved and vanished.
"We're ready to take the refugees, General."
Jack nodded to the Marines gathering around the crowd.
"Any trouble with the soldiers?" Daniel asked.
"There were a few scuffles," the Marine unit leader said. "But once they realized they were unarmed and Teal'c wasn't bluffing, they cooperated."
"What will become of them?" Ollin asked.
"They'll be taken somewhere where they can't hurt anyone," Jack said. "Ok, folks, time to go. These fellas will take good care of you." Jack waved his arms in a shooing gesture at the crowd.
"We are not refugees," Ollin said.
"Look, I know this is all new to you," Daniel said. "But give us a chance. If you don't decide to change your minds, we can find somewhere else for you to stay."
"You will take us back to our galaxy?"
"We'll see what we can do," Daniel said.
Ollin studied Daniel, who didn't waver or squirm. "You appear to be truthful. We will go." Ollin nodded and lead the people away with the Marines. Several people glanced at Daniel as they passed.
"You can't be left alone for a second," Jack tisked as he put an arm around Daniel and started walking toward the large clearing where Teal'c had landed the ship.
"Q could've gotten her away before she did anything."
"You sure about that? Because from what I heard, she was pretty pissed."
"That would have demonstrated that she knew me."
"You think that woulda been enough?"
"Even if she denied that I was a Prior, which she probably would have-."
"She wouldn't want her worshippers to know she failed."
"Right. But Ollin would have at least been able to see that we know each other well."
"And what if she killed you?"
"I'm confident Q would have taken precautions before bringing her here."
Jack thought about that and must have agreed because his next statement was, "How well do you know each other?"
Daniel ignored Jack's wry grin and waved at Sam.
"Welcome to the new alpha site, sir," Sam said, as she and Teal'c approached.
Jack made a noncommittal grunt.
"What?" Daniel asked.
"I liked the other one."
"The other one being the one before this one?"
"It had more trees."
"You were the one who said we shouldn't stay in one place too long."
"Which is a good idea, sir."
"I wasn't made aware there were fewer trees here."
"Ready to see the ship?" Sam asked while Daniel rolled his eyes, and Teal'c raised an eyebrow.
"You have to ask?"
"This way, sir," Sam said with an amused smile.
Jack clapped Teal'c on the back and fell into step beside the Jaffa. "How'd you like flying her, T?"
"It was a most enjoyable experience O'Neill."
"Try to contain yourself."
Jack laughed heartily.
As the team neared the Ori ship's hulking shadow, Sam stopped and asked for Siler's clipboard.
"What are you doing?" Daniel asked as she flipped to a page and began writing.
"Adding to the criteria list for future alpha sites."
Daniel laughed, and the two jogged to catch up with their teammates.
Siler flipped to Sam's note, then cast a confused glance at her back, mouthing, "Trees?"
"Oh my god!" Sam stared open-mouthed at her laptop.
"What?" Jack and Daniel looked up from the weapons schematics Vala was showing them on the Ori ship.
Sam moved her mouth for a few seconds before she could speak. "I'll kill him."
Jack and Daniel exchanged a look.
"All I did was open it," Jack whispered. "I didn't touch any buttons."
Mitchell whistled and leaned down to look at the laptop's screen.
"They're all from-?"
"I have one hundred and twenty-"
"One hundred twenty-one," Mitchell said. "It just…updated." He backed away from the glare Sam turned on him.
"One hundred twenty-one emails from Rodney McKay! In my personal email account!"
"How did Dr. McKay get your personal email address?" Daniel asked.
"Q no doubt. In exchange for helping develop certain devices. Of course Rodney doesn't specify which devices, but his hints make it clear enough."
"He better be glad he's omnipotent," Jack muttered. "So she won't be able to find him."
"I wouldn't let her hear you say that," Vala said.
Q sat back with a smug smile. He rested his head against the back of an enormous armchair floating in Earth's orbit. He watched the large screen in front of him for a few more minutes, then used a remote to click it off. The members of SG-1 shrank to a pinprick of light that vanished a nanosecond before the screen itself vanished.
Q sighed and pulled a long scroll from his pocket. He was still unrolling it when he and his chair disappeared in a flash of light.
AN: Thank you all so much for reading and reviewing!! Q may decide he likes the SGC as much as the Enterprise and come for another visit someday. For the moment, I have an idea for a Psych story I'd like to work on.