Stargate SG1 is somebody else's, probably MGM/Gekko Corp/Sci-fi, and I freely admit that whoever's it is, I'm borrowing their show and they retain all rights, etc
Final Update 23rd March 2010: And so we're at the end of Season 6! Phew! It's been a long road to finish this volume but we've made it. I just want to say a very big thank you to everyone who reads Aftershocks. Your support for the series gives me so much pleasure and encouragement. Particularly thanks to everyone who has left a review or sent me a message: it means a lot to me. So, onwards to the final instalment of vol.3: "The Descending Trilogy" which TAGs the episode 'Full Circle.' If you would like to stay with the series when it returns after a short break with volume 4 (Seasons Seven and Eight), I would suggest you add me to your author alerts if you haven't already. And, THANK YOU!
This is the third volume of Aftershocks and will contain TAGs for Season Five and Season Six. The TAGs focus on how the characters reacted to their various missions, what impact it had on them and their relationships. As I briefly recap the episode that precedes it at the head of the story and sometimes foreshadow to future episodes, there are spoilers for all the Stargate SG1 episodes included! Each chapter is a TAG; each is complete/stand alone although like Stargate there are continuing themes from story to story. Updates may be irregular given real life insanity.
Please note pairings are in line with those implied or established within the series, (e.g. Jack/Sam, Daniel/Sha're, Teal'c/Drey'auc). There is an author's note preceding each story with any specific story dynamics highlighted.
You will find Aftershocks vol 1 (TAGs covering Seasons One and Two) and Aftershocks vol 2 (TAGs covering Seasons Three and Four) under my profile. It is not necessary to read the previous volumes to read this. :)
Author's Note: Teal'c/team friendship. Mild Sam/Jack UST.
Exodus/Enemies Recap: SG1 and Jacob arrive at Vorash to help the Tok'ra move to a new base. Tanith is taken aback by their arrival and their transport – the mothership they procured from Cronus. The Tok'ra finally reveal to Tanith that they know of his deception and arrest him; they will extract the symbiote from the host and leave the symbiote behind when they leave. Although Tanith attempts to rile Teal'c into killing him, Teal'c resists, noting Tanith will not get out of it so easy. However, as the efforts to move their base continue, Tanith escapes and a search fails to find him.
Meanwhile, Apophis and his fleet are en route to Vorash. Plans are altered with Sam and Jacob proposing an ambitious plan to blow up Apophis's fleet by blowing up the sun. As the Tok'ra make their way through the Stargate, the plan goes into action and the sun begins to destabilise. Unfortunately the mothership is attacked by an alkesh; determined that it should not land on Vorash and allow Tanith to escape, Teal'c pursues it obsessively, and ends up crashing the glider containing himself and Jack. As they make their way to the rings, they are ambushed – Teal'c is shot and Tanith rings aboard Apophis's ship with the Jaffa.
Jack is rescued from Vorash by the rest of SG1, telling them sadly that he thinks Teal'c is dead. They make their escape as the sun explodes but are caught in some kind of energy surge and end up in a different galaxy, a long way from home with a damaged ship.
They are disturbed to realise that Apophis's ship has also made the same journey and just as Apophis seems about to destroy them, another ship arrives and begins firing on Apophis. Jacob moves their ship into the sun's corona for protection while they make repairs. When they emerge, Apophis's ship is devoid of lifesigns and the other ship is nowhere to be seen. They ring aboard hoping to seize the ship and use it to get home – or at the least get the crystals they need to make repairs on their own ship. They find Replicators and only just get back to their own ship in time to get enough distance from Apophis's as it self-destructs.
A cargo ship appears and hails them; it is Teal'c who claims to have escaped with some fellow Jaffa. They allow his ship to dock but when SG1 go to greet him, Teal'c pulls a weapon on them and Apophis appears, congratulating the Jaffa on rightly retaking his place as his First Prime. SG1 are imprisoned along with Jacob by an obviously brainwashed Teal'c. The Replicators have also got on board though and SG1 get free when the mechanical bugs short out the systems. They grab an unwilling Teal'c and take the cargo ship. But they realise the mothership is heading for Apophis's planet and they cannot allow the Replicators to get a hold in their galaxy. Jack, Sam and Daniel destroy the sublight engines which means the mothership cannot decelerate. As the cargo ship makes its escape with SG1 and Jacob on board, the mothership carrying Apophis crashes into the planet; Apophis is finally dead and the Replicators destroyed.
As Jack goes to check on Teal'c, Jacob notes that they have his body back but getting his mind back will be much more difficult.
Friend and Foe
Teal'c regarded the humans in the cargo ship through narrow eyes. Vermin, he thought darkly. They would soon be eradicated when his Lord Apophis rose again. He did not believe the lies he had been told. His God was not dead. Had not Apophis risen before from death? He knew the truth.
Jack O'Neill stirred in the corner; the military man got to his feet, briefly checking on the sleeping form of Daniel Jackson before he walked into the forward area. Teal'c pointedly ignored him as he passed. It sickened Teal'c to think of all the times he'd had the opportunity to take O'Neill's life; of all the times he had let those opportunities slip through his fingers to remain undercover. He ignored the whispering voice in his mind reminding him of all the times he had saved O'Neill. He had always been in the service of his God. He had saved O'Neill because not to have saved him would have drawn suspicion.
His God had required such a sacrifice from him; Apophis had wanted Teal'c to go with the humans, to learn as much as he could from them in order so that he could destroy them. His mind skipped over the inconsistencies; of facing Apophis in battle, of his son's brainwashing, his joy at Apophis's death and his anger at hearing of his survival after Netu. It was all part of the illusion constructed so that the humans would believe in his betrayal, Teal'c thought resolutely; all part of Apophis's plan to draw out the Jaffa who would betray their God and to reveal the location of the Tok'ra.
His dark eyes slid sideways to Daniel Jackson. The archaeologist was slumped against the wall of the cargo hold. His glasses were askew on his slack face; a gentle snore rumbling through his chest.
Weak, mused Teal'c. He could easily snap the man's neck in two; easily dispose of the fool who had lusted after Apophis's Queen. He turned his head silently back to the forward area.
Voices drifted through the open door; O'Neill's sarcasm backlit with the melodic counterpoint of Samantha Carter and the deeper tone of her father without the distortion of his Tok'ra symbiote. Teal'c's face contorted into a snarl. O'Neill's feelings for the Major were his downfall; love had no place in battle something O'Neill seemed to have realised after he had almost killed her. In the weeks since, he had instituted a more professional demeanour without the flirting and banter that Teal'c had observed before but Teal'c knew O'Neill's feelings had not truly diminished.
Teal'c's face smoothed. O'Neill would be distracted and possibly for some time by Samantha Carter. They had bound his hands and feet, and he was still wounded but it would not stop him. It would be easy to kill Daniel Jackson.
Revenge for his God.
Teal'c's eyes hardened with determination, dark and uncompromising cruelty. He pressed his full lips together and shifted silently. He crawled across the expanse of floor; he did not make a sound.
Daniel Jackson slept on.
Teal'c inched closer. He came close to brushing the man's booted foot but a quick correction of his balance had him sliding past by a whisper.
He was within reach. His face rippled into a mask of hatred as his hands rose to deliver a killing blow to the human's neck.
O'Neill's cry spurred him forward even as Daniel Jackson's blue eyes opened and blinked at him innocently in confusion.
The blow to the side of Teal'c's head caught him by surprise; he sailed through the air and rolled across the floor.
He dimly registered another blow. Perhaps O'Neill had not been as distracted as he had believed, Teal'c mused with frustrated fury. It was his last thought as another blow sent him into black oblivion.
'Teal'c's pretty beaten up.'
Jack squirmed under Janet Fraiser's accusing look. He raised his hands in a defeated gesture. 'He was about to kill Daniel.'
Everyone's eyes flickered to Daniel sat at the briefing table next to Janet.
Daniel smiled, embarrassed. 'I'm fine.'
His eyes moved to Jack across the table who acknowledged the silent gratitude with a pained grimace. Jack was a little uncomfortable at how close it had been and chagrined at leaving Teal'c alone with Daniel to check on their flight progress, giving Teal'c the opportunity in the first place.
'Teal'c has been brainwashed.' Sam said quietly as though prompted to remind them all why the Jaffa had tried to kill a team-mate.
General Hammond nodded thoughtfully. His round face had been so happy and relieved when SG1 had walked through the Stargate but the sight of an unconscious Teal'c and the news of his brainwashing had meant the relief had been short lived to say the least.
Jack felt a rush of guilt curdle in his gut. As far as Jack was concerned, it was his fault that Teal'c had ended up brainwashed. If Jack had foreseen the ambush on Vorash or had been able to prevent the Goa'uld Tanith from taking Teal'c's body, perhaps it could have been prevented. Of course, his Jaffa team-mate might just have ended up dead instead of in solitary confinement in an infirmary isolation room, strapped to a bed with restraints and under guard.
'Do we know how Apophis managed to brainwash Teal'c in such a relatively short space of time?' Hammond asked concerned.
The remaining members of SG1 looked at each other for once at a loss.
'It was probably through the sarcophagus when Teal'c was healed.' Jacob chimed in from his place next to Sam.
Hammond raised his pale eyebrows. 'How?'
A dip of the head signalled Selmak, Jacob's symbiote taking over. 'If a drug such as nishta is placed in the sarcophagus during healing,' Selmak explained, 'the subject is extremely compliant and open to suggestion on waking.'
Jacob cleared his throat. 'It's extremely rare but very effective.'
Hammond nodded. 'So how do we reverse this?'
'Zat?' Jack suggested.
'Right,' Daniel agreed enthusiastically, pushing his glasses up his nose, 'it worked on us when we were under the nishta's influence.'
'And Rya'c.' Sam added.
Jacob shook his head. 'Not in this case. Because the nishta is employed during the sarcophagus healing, it penetrates into the cells at a much deeper level. An electrical charge would be useless at counteracting it.'
'Then what?' Jack demanded before Hammond could speak. 'How do we get him back?'
'It won't be easy.' Jacob said calmly, folding his hands over his stomach. 'I can probably tell what won't work more than I can tell you what will.' He looked at Jack apologetically. 'The Tok'ra have never heard of anyone recovering from this type of brainwashing.'
There was a bitter silence as everyone digested the information.
'Doctor?' Hammond turned to the petite medic, unaware that his voice held a hint of the desperation the group all felt.
Janet took a deep breath and sat forward, clasping her hands atop the folder in front of her. 'Well, sir,' she wet her lips, 'there are some psychological therapies we can try but I can't guarantee how successful they would be given the influence of this drug on Teal'c's physiology.'
'Is there anything about the Jaffa physiology that may help us here?' Hammond asked urgently. 'Wouldn't his symbiote be able to,' he gestured at the doctor, 'neutralise the drug?'
'It's not in its interests.' Jacob answered before Janet could reply. 'If anything it may be keeping the drug present in Teal'c's system.'
'It may also be possible that it's reinforcing the brainwashing.' Daniel added.
'What?' Jack asked bemused.
'Well, we know from Sho'nac's experiments that the symbiote and the Jaffa can communicate when a deep state of kel no reem is achieved.' Daniel explained, motioning at Jack.
Jack glared at him, still not comprehending the archaeologist's point. 'So?'
'So, it's not unreasonable to assume the symbiote is probably able to subconsciously influence the Jaffa in reverse.' Daniel said. 'In this case, suggesting subconsciously to Teal'c that Apophis's lies are true.'
'I don't know, Daniel.' Sam murmured. 'That's quite a leap.' She turned to her father. 'Dad?'
Jacob shrugged. 'I don't know. The Tok'ra don't use Jaffa, and according to Selmak, what they know about them and the interaction between the symbiote and the Jaffa is fairly limited.'
'We could do with an expert in Jaffa physiology to assist.' Janet commented seriously.
'Bra'tac.' Daniel said suddenly.
Jack's face brightened and he pointed the pen he had picked up at the archaeologist. 'Now that's an idea.'
Sam turned to Hammond. 'Bra'tac may be Teal'c's best hope, sir.'
'Do we even know where Bra'tac is?' Hammond asked, looking to each member of SG1 in turn.
Sam leaned forward. 'We could probably start at the rebel Jaffa camp.'
Daniel nodded enthusiastically. 'He's probably settling in the members of Cronus's Jaffa who joined them.'
Hammond looked at Jack.
'It's a plan.' Jack commented dryly. He didn't add it was the only one they had that had a chance of working; he knew they were all too aware of the odds.
'One that will wait until all members of SG1 have rested.' Janet jumped in firmly.
'Doc…' Jack began to protest.
Her determined face stared him down. 'I insist, Colonel.' Her dark eyes flickered to the General. 'Twenty-four hours, sir.'
Hammond shifted under her expectant gaze. 'Very well.'
'Sir.' Jack shook his head in disbelief.
'You heard the doctor, Colonel.' Hammond stressed gently. 'Twenty-four hours is not going to make a difference.' He turned back to his CMO. 'In the meantime, begin whatever treatment for Teal'c you see fit.'
'Yes, sir.' Janet nodded.
'Maybe we can talk to Teal'c again.' Daniel suggested. 'If we can convince him that he has been brainwashed, he may be able to tell us what we need to do to reverse it.'
Jack looked unconvinced as did Hammond.
'Perhaps.' The General said diplomatically.
'I'm afraid I can't stay around.' Jacob smiled apologetically. 'I have to get back to the Tok'ra and report on Apophis's demise.'
'Of course.' Hammond agreed understandingly. 'If you'll excuse me, I'll leave SG1 to see to your departure. I need to make a few phone calls on that matter myself.' He stood up.
Jacob stood along with the other military personnel and reached over to shake his old friend's hand. 'It was good to see you again.'
Hammond nodded. 'Likewise, Jacob. Don't be a stranger.' He gave another nod of acknowledgement to everyone around the table and strode away to his office.
Jack stuck his hands in his pockets and jerked his head at the control room. 'After you, Jacob.'
Daniel raised his hand as he watched Janet disappearing out of the doorway to the corridor and elevator. 'I'll, uh, go and see how Teal'c is doing. Have a, er, good trip, Jacob.'
Jacob nodded in reply and Daniel darted away. Jack waved Sam's father down the stairs and they made their way into the control room where Jacob gave the technician his coordinates. They walked down to the gate room while the Stargate spun, dialling the address.
'We did good.' Jacob reminded Jack and Sam as they waited for the wormhole. 'The Goa'uld will be in disarray for a while given Apophis's defeat. This is a significant victory.'
'Right.' Jack agreed caustically. It just didn't feel like a victory given Teal'c's situation.
'You'll get him back, Jack.' Jacob said reassuringly as though he had read Jack's thoughts. He smiled suddenly. 'And by the way, thanks for the ride.'
'About that, Dad,' Jack said dryly, 'I believe you owe us a mothership.' The hard-won ship had been lost during their mission. Jack had known it was a bad idea to loan it to the Tok'ra to help with their move although in all honesty, he knew the loss had more to do with their ambitious plan to blow up a sun and destroy Apophis's fleet going slightly awry.
Jacob simply smiled, refusing to rise to the bait. He shifted his attention to his daughter. 'You take care of yourself, kiddo.'
'I will, Dad.' Sam hugged him.
The wormhole blossomed and settled into its shimmering blue puddle.
Jacob pulled away from Sam and smiled at her regretfully. His dark eyes darted to Jack again. Look after her. The words were as clear as though they had been spoken.
Jack nodded, a muscle tensing in his jaw.
'Good luck with Teal'c.' Jacob said to them both. He walked up the ramp and disappeared into the blue.
Sam sighed as the wormhole disappeared.
Jack nudged her. 'Let's go and see Teal'c.'
'Yes, sir.' Sam fell into step beside him as they headed for the elevator. 'Do you think Bra'tac will be able to help Teal'c, sir?'
'I don't know, Carter.' Jack admitted as he punched the call button. 'I know one thing.'
Sam looked at him inquisitively.
'We're not giving up on him.' Jack said determinedly.
Sam nodded. 'Yes, sir.'
Her heartfelt agreement settled him and he stepped briskly into the elevator to cover his feelings. She was out of bounds, Jack reminded himself; he was moving on. He scented her hair as she brushed past him to push the button for the infirmary and he wondered when he would be able to convince himself of that. He shook himself.
He was what was important; Jack had to focus on that.
The soft sounds of the human moving around him filled Teal'c's ears along with the steady beeping of the heart monitor. He had regained consciousness minutes before but he had kept still, his eyes closed. A part of him was angry at the way he had failed to kill Daniel Jackson; a part of him was angry at O'Neill for stopping him. He set his anger aside and focused on the present.
He was in the infirmary which meant he was back at the SGC. He could feel the chafe of restraints around his wrists and ankles. No doubt they had posted a guard. He was not overly worried. He was a Jaffa and the restraints had been constructed for humans. At the right time he could break out of them, kill the guard and make his escape. He knew the SGC; knew the humans' likely responses; it would be easy.
'Any change?' Janet Fraiser's voice heralded her arrival. Teal'c could picture her warm concern in his mind's eye.
'None.' The nurse responded.
'Uh, Doctor Fraiser?' Daniel Jackson's quiet prompt almost startled Teal'c into movement.
There was whispering; Teal'c could not make out the words.
A second later, footsteps approached the bed.
'We know you're awake, Teal'c.' Daniel said calmly. 'You can stop pretending.'
Teal'c's eyes snapped open and glared at the archaeologist. 'Next time,' he threatened, 'I will kill you.'
The barb struck home; Daniel was incapable of hiding the flinch. The archaeologist wrapped his arms around his torso. 'You're not yourself right now.'
'I am myself, Daniel Jackson.' Teal'c said forcefully. 'I am the First Prime of my God, and you will pay for your crimes against Apophis.'
'OK.' Daniel said slowly. He looked at Janet beside him.
'Teal'c,' the doctor began gently, 'I want you to consider the possibility that you are brainwashed.'
'I am not.' Teal'c growled. 'And you will not speak to me, woman.'
Janet's eyebrows rose. 'Teal'c, do you remember waking after the sarcophagus?'
Her words evoked a memory; the grinding slide of the sarcophagus lid filling his ears, the bright light and Apophis, his God in the centre looking down on him, welcoming him home – washing away his confused uncertainty and filling him with purpose.
'There was nishta in the sarcophagus, Teal'c.' Daniel added.
Teal'c shook his head.
'Well, let's say there was.' Daniel continued. 'What would that have done to you?'
Nishta in the sarcophagus was a form of brainwashing, Teal'c knew that. He had seen Apophis employ such techniques on his human slaves. When they awoke they were as helpless and confused as children, open and willing to hear Apophis's words, to hear the truth. He had been confused on waking in the sarcophagus. Teal'c frowned. Was it possible that Apophis had used the technique on him?
There had been no need. Teal'c had always been in the service of Apophis; why would his God need to guarantee his allegiance that way? No, his confusion was merely his own startled gratitude at Apophis granting him life.
'Teal'c,' Janet stepped back into his direct eye line, 'if someone had been brainwashed in this way, how would you reverse it?'
Teal'c pressed his lips together and remained silent.
'Are you silent because you don't know or because you don't want to tell us?' Daniel asked dryly.
'How's it going?' O'Neill entered the room along with Samantha Carter, and Teal'c refused to acknowledge them, turning his face to the wall.
'Perhaps we should talk outside.' Janet suggested.
Teal'c heard them leave. He tested the restraints. They were fastened loosely; it would only take one sharp tug. He glanced around the room. He was alone. He could hear the murmur of voices outside. They would be surprised; he would have the advantage.
He moved; tearing the restraints aside and ripping the monitoring cords from his skin. He shoved the bed clothes away and jumped lightly out of the bed. He ran; he barrelled out of the room, knocking his former team and the guard to the floor like bowling pins with a few well placed blows.
He knew a moment's hesitation as the temptation to stop and finish them filled him but he didn't wait; he ran.
Sirens filled the silence; noisy and blaring.
His bare feet hit the cold concrete steadily. He rendered the approaching SF unconscious without hesitation before taking the door to the stairwell. He needed to get to the armoury; needed to arm himself so he could kill more efficiently. He continued moving at a strong pace; another SF was quickly handled. He rounded the corner…
Teal'c's eyes widened at the sight of Samantha Carter stood firm; zat in hand.
The blue energy sizzled outward and despite his attempt to evade, it hit Teal'c full force.
'Ah!' Jack raised a hand to his head and groaned. 'What hit me?'
Sam almost smiled. 'Teal'c, sir.' The Colonel had taken the full force of Teal'c's first punch; it had sent him spiralling into the wall and knocked him out. Her CO had an impressive bruise on his forehead.
'Right.' Jack sighed heavily. His chocolate eyes ran over her. 'You seem fine.'
'Teal'c focused the efforts of his attack on you and Daniel.' Sam reported crisply. The Jaffa had simply swept her and Janet aside as though they were bugs. They'd gone sprawling but had been relatively uninjured.
'Daniel?' Jack asked, his face creasing in concern and then flinching at the movement.
'Sleeping.' Sam gestured at the neighbouring bed at the huddled form of their team-mate. 'Teal'c pushed his head into a wall.' She bit her lip. 'He was knocked out but Doctor Fraiser thinks he's going to be fine.'
'Ouch.' Jack winced. 'And Teal'c?'
'I figured he would head to the armoury, took the elevator and beat him there. I was able to knock him out with a zat.'
'He's been moved to a security isolation room and has been heavily restrained.' Sam reported. 'The General's ordered a full security guard.'
'Good idea.' Jack rubbed his forehead. 'Oy.'
'Get some rest, sir.' Sam suggested gently.
Jack nodded. His eyes closed.
Sam looked around and pulled up a stool between the two beds occupied by her team-mates. She rubbed at the bruise on her elbow. It was sore but in comparison to the damage suffered by the others it was relatively minor.
Janet walked in; she was limping slightly. She had injured her knee when she had fallen. 'How are they?' She kept her voice low so she didn't disturb her patients.
'The Colonel woke up briefly.' Sam said quietly.
'Good.' Janet picked up his chart and made a notation. She replaced it and pocketed the pen. She looked at Sam. 'You should get some sleep.'
'I'm fine.' Sam said.
Janet looked at her sceptically.
'I'd like to stay here.' Sam admitted.
Janet waved at the empty bed on the opposite side of Jack. 'Help yourself.'
'How's Teal'c?' Sam asked. She felt a touch guilty about zatting him but she hadn't seen any other way of stopping him.
'Awake.' Janet said succinctly. 'Threatening to destroy the base.'
Sam looked down, disturbed.
'He might have succeeded before if you hadn't got to the armoury first.' Janet commented.
'I hate seeing him like this.' Sam replied.
Janet reached out and patted her arm. 'I know.' She sighed. 'I've talked to Doctor Mackenzie. He'll start work with Teal'c tomorrow.'
'Do you think he'll be able to help him?' Sam asked bluntly.
Janet shrugged uneasily. 'Honestly, I don't know, Sam.'
Sam nodded in understanding. The brainwashing technique of combining the nishta and the sarcophagus was so far out of their experience, it was impossible to determine whether their attempts to counteract it would be successful. She took a deep breath, trying to ease the fear gathering inside of her that Teal'c was lost to them. 'You should have seen Teal'c on the ship, Janet.' Her gaze drifted to the Colonel. 'It was like he was someone else, like he didn't know us at all.'
Janet nodded. 'It can't be easy seeing someone you care about act so differently towards you.'
Sam's head snapped back round to her friend and she frowned at the knowing look on Janet's face. 'We're talking about Teal'c, right?'
'Who else would be talking about?' Janet countered softly.
There was an awkward silence.
'Maybe Bra'tac can help Teal'c.' Sam said, determined to keep to the subject.
'Maybe.' Janet agreed with another sigh. 'But that will have to wait until Doctor Jackson and Colonel O'Neill are healed from Teal'c's attack.'
Sam pulled a face but she understood Janet's position.
Janet smiled at her sympathetically. 'Get some sleep, Sam.' She walked away.
The empty bed looked inviting and Sam walked around to it. She removed her boots and climbed on top of the covers. She closed her eyes.
'It can't be easy seeing someone you care about act so differently towards you.'
Janet's words echoed mockingly in Sam's head. She couldn't help thinking Janet had not been referring to Teal'c but the Colonel. She frowned and pushed her face further into the pillow as though to hide from her thoughts. It was true the Colonel was acting differently towards her, Sam mused tiredly. He had been acting differently ever since he'd had to fire on her when she had been possessed by an alien entity threatening the base. She knew he had believed for a time that his action had killed her. She hadn't needed to be told how devastated Jack must have been especially given their feelings for one another; she knew only too well after her experience with Martouf how she would have felt in his place.
Sam sighed. Neither she nor Jack had meant to fall in love with each other, and neither of them had ever meant for the other to know. Yet, it had happened and she couldn't deny that when she had realised just how much Jack did love her, she had felt special, cherished. But they had both agreed the mission came first; that they could handle their feelings in the field; that they would be friends until the day came when they could be more.
'It got a little too close there for a while.' Jack said softly. His eyes held hers and begged her to understand. 'I hope we can put this behind us, Carter.' He continued quietly. 'Move on?'
His words drifted into her mind. The experience with the entity had shaken the Colonel; showed him how dangerous even just feeling feelings were given their working relationship and military ranks. He had decided to withdraw and Sam couldn't honestly blame him. It was only too likely that one of them would need to hold a gun on the other again some day – just as she'd had to fire on Teal'c earlier. If he hadn't gone down with the first zat, if she'd had to kill him…
As much as she hated to admit it, the Colonel was right. They needed to get some distance from each other, move on from their feelings. They'd gotten too close and despite the fact that it hurt to think about it, it was the right thing to do.
He acted differently around her already; their flirting and closeness had been discarded for a friendly professionalism. He was treating her as though she was nothing more than a team-mate – someone he cared about certainly but not someone he loved.
Suck it up, Sam, she thought wearily. Apparently, the Colonel having made the decision had been able to move on straight away; she needed to catch up and do the same. It was for the best and besides; her focus needed to be on Teal'c, on getting him back to normal. It was her final thought as she slid into sleep unaware of the chocolate eyes that watched her from the next bed.
Daniel took a moment to get his bearings as he clambered out of the tent and stretched, easing the kinks out of his body with a small groan. He put his glasses on and the world came into focus along with the smell of coffee. It was barely light. He checked his surroundings; Sam was by the campfire in charge of breakfast; Jack was nowhere in sight. Probably doing a perimeter check, Daniel assumed. He headed out of camp briefly and made his way back via the stream; washing up and taking the opportunity to refill his water canister. Ten minutes had passed before he returned to camp.
Jack was back; sat beside Sam and using a spoon to scoop up the rehydrated eggs in the metal tin. Daniel accepted a similar portion and a small metal mug of coffee as he took his own place beside the military man.
'We'll pack up as soon as you're done and keep heading North.' Jack informed him.
Daniel nodded, unable to verbally reply as his mouth was filled with eggs. He swallowed hurriedly. 'How much further?'
'We've got another few days of walking if Rak'nor's map is accurate.' Sam replied.
'If.' Jack qualified gruffly.
'He has no reason to lie to us.' Daniel pointed out with a hint of exasperation. He forced himself to finish his meal swiftly, knowing Jack would be impatient to get moving. He couldn't blame him.
It had taken them almost four days to recover from the injuries Teal'c had inflicted in his escape attempt; four days before they had been able to head to the rebel Jaffa planet to find Bra'tac only to be informed by the Jaffa Rak'nor that Bra'tac had left days before for the settlement of Ancara on Chulak on a personal matter.
Rak'nor had drawn them a map, showing them the way from the Stargate to the settlement and providing them with advice on the trip which he had warned them would be long and arduous – eleven days of walking through forest and along treacherous mountain pathways. They'd had to return to the SGC and organise provisions for the trip, wasting another day in Jack's opinion. Six days on, Rak'nor's information had been accurate and helpful even if Jack continued to distrust it.
Daniel grimaced at the ache in his legs. He was in good shape – they all were but he was feeling the strain of the long walk in his thighs and calves. He was just pleased his boots were comfortable because the thought of walking with blisters was simply unthinkable. He finished with his food and coffee; he handed the tin and mug back to Sam and went to pack up the tent.
Fifteen minutes later, they headed out. Jack took point; Sam guarded the rear with Daniel in the middle. He kept a watchful eye on the surrounding forest but he could admit to himself that it was much more likely that either Jack or Sam would spot a threat before he did.
Maybe he should have stayed behind and helped with Teal'c, Daniel mused worriedly. The Jaffa was undergoing psychological therapy with Mackenzie and Daniel couldn't help but think that it wasn't going well.
Teal'c had still been wedded firmly to his belief that Apophis was God before they had left for Chulak. Daniel was also suspicious that Mackenzie believed separating Teal'c from his team-mates was a good thing. He couldn't see how they were supposed to bring Teal'c back to his senses by isolating him from his friends. Still, there was another part of him that was relieved to be out of the firing line. Teal'c's continual threats and visible hatred towards them was hard to take.
Daniel glanced behind him at Sam. They exchanged empathetic smiles before Daniel returned his attention to the front. He knew Sam was having as hard a time dealing with Teal'c's behaviour as he was. No matter how many times they dismissed the comments and the attitude as being caused by the brainwashing, it hurt and more, they couldn't help but think that perhaps some part of Teal'c believed the insults he levelled at them; that they were weak and pathetic; that they were nothing – bugs to be squashed.
Jack seemed able to shrug the insults away like a duck shaking water of its back but Daniel couldn't. His mind slipped back to the last time he had spoken with Teal'c…
The Jaffa was restrained to the bed with heavy straps. His dark eyes glared at Daniel.
'Just thought I would stop by; see how you're doing.' Daniel said, trying to keep his tone light-hearted.
'Your compassion disgusts me.' Teal'c snarled.
'OK.' Daniel rocked back on his heels. 'So, still brainwashed then.'
'You are of no importance to me.' Teal'c's head fell back on the pillow.
Daniel took a deep breath. 'I'm sorry you feel that way, Teal'c, because you're important to me. You're my friend.'
'I am not.' Teal'c denied it bluntly. 'I kidnapped your wife; I had her implanted with Ammonet and I killed her when she fulfilled her purpose in delivering the Harcesis child.'
'That's quite a revision of history, Teal'c.' Daniel said mildly.
'You failed to prevent her fate, Daniel Jackson.' Teal'c pointed out. 'You know the truth. You are useless; pathetic.' He rose suddenly, straining against his leather bounds. 'You are nothing and soon you will be dead.'
And it was partially the truth, Daniel thought sadly. He had failed to prevent what had happened to Sha're, and there were times he really did wonder whether he made a difference – whether the team needed him. They had taken down Cronus without him; secured a mothership without him; and he'd spent most of their mission to Vorash feeling like he was surplus to requirements. A bit like he felt right at that moment as they trudged through the forest and it was clear that a soldier was needed not an archaeologist.
Jack was setting a hard pace and Daniel could feel the burn in his lungs as he forced himself to match it. He knew Jack was driven by guilt. The military man held himself accountable for what had happened to Teal'c; for not spotting the ambush; for not preventing Tanith from taking Teal'c. Of course, if Tanith hadn't taken Teal'c, Apophis would not have revived the Jaffa in the sarcophagus and they would have lost him for good. Daniel firmly believed it was better that Teal'c was alive and brainwashed than dead.
Besides, Daniel thought, breathing hard, if anyone was to blame for what had happened it was Teal'c. The Jaffa had been consumed by his need for revenge; consumed by his need to kill Tanith and avenge his lover Sho'nac's death. From all accounts, it had been Teal'c's clouded emotions that had led to him and Jack crashing the glider on Vorash enabling Tanith to get the drop on them in the first place. Daniel could sympathise with Teal'c's emotions – he couldn't deny being satisfied that Apophis was finally dead but still the Jaffa revenge thing seemed extreme, and he knew it had annoyed Jack even if the military man would never admit it out loud. Daniel only hoped they weren't interrupting Bra'tac on some similar quest because otherwise they were in trouble.
Bra'tac brushed the headstone with his fingertips before he rose and wrapped his cloak around him, unable to ignore the chill in the mountain air or the ache in his old bones. His symbiote was no longer able to heal all his maladies, and it was likely that when it matured, another symbiote would not accept him. Bra'tac knew his own death crept closer with each passing year. Still, her death had come as a shock to him.
His head bowed in grief. His wife.
A picture of a beautiful woman with sparkling brown eyes and a warm, vivacious smile filled his mind. It had been a long time since he had allowed himself to think of her. So many years had passed since their estrangement…
Apophis was in a foul temper. The day before Apophis had lost a critical battle against Ra and retreated back to Chulak. Bra'tac had yet to leave the palace and see his wife; Apophis had not dismissed any of the Jaffa for leave.
Two Jaffa had already died at the God's hands that day for no other reason it seemed than to satisfy Apophis's temper. It was not a good day to displease Apophis. The envoy from Doma, the settlement where Bra'tac had been raised, bowed deeply but Bra'tac could see the sheen of nervous sweat on the Jaffa's skin and the way his fingers trembled around the staff weapon as the delegation presented their annual tribute. He knew Ka'lac; had grown up with him.
Apophis sneered. 'You dare to bring this before your God.'
'Forgive us, my Lord.' Ka'lac bowed deeply. 'The harvest was bad this year…'
'Do not lie to your God!' Apophis kicked over the chest and with a blast of power from the hand device tossed the envoy across the room; he lay dead.
Bra'tac gestured for one of the servants to clear up the mess as Apophis stalked to his throne. He felt a moment's grief for Ka'lac but he knew there was nothing that anyone could have done to prevent it. He resolved to ensure Ka'lac's wife and children were provided for; it was the only thing he could do.
'Bra'tac.' Apophis called him forward.
Bra'tac knelt swiftly in front of him. 'My Lord?'
'Take a glider wing and destroy Doma.' Apophis ordered smoothly, his fingers tapping on the arm of the throne absently. 'They should learn not to anger their God in future.'
His breath caught harshly in his throat; he knew there were many innocent women and children in Doma. 'My Lord, perhaps there is another way.'
'Do you question your God, Bra'tac?'
'No, my Lord, but…' Bra'tac swallowed hard, unable to marshal an argument.
'They will die at the will of their God, Bra'tac.' Apophis glared at him.
Bra'tac bowed his head. 'Yes, my Lord.' He strode out of the throne room wondering what he could do. There was nothing, Bra'tac determined harshly. Apophis could not be reasoned with and if Bra'tac defied him, he would end up dead and of no use to his own wife, Alia, and their young daughter, Jyo. He gathered a couple of Jaffa and headed for the glider bay; the most he could do was to try and limit how much destruction Doma suffered.
The mission was done swiftly; brutally. Fire rained down on Doma; destroyed house after house. Bra'tac could not help the grief and guilt that flowed through his veins as he watched the settlement burn. He knew some would die but he hoped they had avoided as many places as possible that were likely to be occupied.
It was almost a month before Apophis released the Jaffa from service and Bra'tac returned to his home. The house was filled with people and Bra'tac was uneasy as Jaffa after Jaffa looked at him sorrowfully as he entered.
'What has occurred?' Bra'tac demanded, finding his wife's brother waiting for him.
'Gliders destroyed Doma.'
'I am aware.' Bra'tac sighed sadly. 'Apophis could not be swayed to spare the settlement.'
'Many were killed.' Mel'tac said softly.
Bra'tac felt the blow of guilt and bowed his head. 'I am sorry, Mel'tac.'
'There is more.' Mel'tac placed his hand on Bra'tac's shoulder. 'Your old nemesis Gyn'c believed you would have led the assault as the First Prime, Bra'tac. He lost his son in the fires and came on a mission of vengeance.'
The words froze the blood in Bra'tac's veins.
Mel'tac did not look at him. 'Alia is...she is dishonoured. He killed Jyo.'
'Where is he?' Bra'tac demanded.
'Alia killed him with his own knife.' Mel'tac informed him.
Bra'tac glared at him. 'Alia?'
'Upstairs with Jyo.'
Bra'tac took the stairs at a run. He hurried into Jyo's bedroom and stopped. Alia sat on the floor, her hand clasping Jyo's. The body of their child was already prepared for burial; wrapped in white bandages. His wife did not move with his entry and Bra'tac wondered if she even knew he was present. He moved forward. He placed a hand on Jyo's head and kissed her forehead as he had done many times when he had said goodnight to her.
'I only have one question, my husband.' Alia said, deathly calm.
Bra'tac met her tear-stained eyes. 'I led the assault; Apophis ordered it.'
'Apophis.' Alia said bitterly. 'Where was your God when Gyn'c took our child's life, Bra'tac? Where was he then?'
Bra'tac had no reply.
'I am dishonoured.' Alia informed him defiantly. 'Our marriage can be dissolved.'
'I do not wish it to be dissolved.' Bra'tac said softly. He knew her dishonour was not her doing; that she would have fought with every breath.
Bra'tac looked at her angry face and knew she blamed him for their daughter's death; that nothing he would ever say or do would erase that. 'Very well.'
'I will bury my child.' Alia said forcefully. 'And after that I never want to see you again.'
And so she never had. Alia had returned with her brother to Ancara. Bra'tac had continued as First Prime to Apophis. He had never remarried. His heart had in many ways remained with Alia but more he would never risk another woman or another child with the burden of his position. He had warned Teal'c when he became First Prime. To have loved ones placed them at risk. Teal'c had learned the lesson when his mother had been slain, and again, when Apophis had brainwashed his son.
'I am sorry you were unable to say goodbye.'
He stiffened at the unexpected interruption but outwardly refused to turn around and acknowledge the man who had brought him back to Ancara after so many years. 'Are you, Mel'tac?' Bra'tac asked quietly.
'She asked for you.' Mel'tac drew up beside him. 'I would not have denied her the last request she made of me.'
Bra'tac accepted Mel'tac's words with a slight inclination of his head. Mel'tac had idolised his sister and Bra'tac could not conceive of him denying Alia anything.
'She has talked often of you these last years.' Mel'tac continued. 'We have heard the stories of you and your apprentice, Teal'c. Of your rebellion against Apophis and the Goa'uld. I believe she was proud that you had finally taken action.'
'Why do you speak of this to me?' Bra'tac asked wearily.
'Because you should know she had forgiven you.' Mel'tac said quietly.
Bra'tac did not respond; perhaps Alia had forgiven him but he could never forgive himself.
Mel'tac shifted his weight and noisily cleared his throat. 'The scouts have reported seeing the Tau'ri on the path to Ancara.'
That got Bra'tac's attention. 'How many?'
'Three; two men and a woman.' Mel'tac tilted his head. 'Teal'c does not accompany them.'
Bra'tac pursed his lips. 'I will leave immediately and meet them on the way.'
Mel'tac nodded. 'As I thought you would.'
It took moments for Bra'tac to gather his travelling sack and head back down the mountain. It was not good news if the Tau'ri had travelled so far to find him and if Teal'c was not with them. He could only hope that they did not travel to tell him of Teal'c's death. He was not certain his old heart would take another blow so soon after Alia's passing.
It was a few days before he reached the humans.
'Bra'tac.' O'Neill reached forward and clasped Bra'tac's outstretched arm. 'Teal'c needs you.'
'I had gathered as much.' Bra'tac said simply. 'You can tell me why on the way.'
They turned around and started back in the opposite direction. It was Daniel Jackson who told Bra'tac the events that had led to their seeking his help. Bra'tac frowned at the news of Teal'c's brainwashing.
'That isn't a happy face.' O'Neill commented.
'It is not.' Bra'tac admitted. 'The technique is very powerful and not easily overcome.'
'But it can be overcome?' Daniel asked urgently.
'Perhaps.' Bra'tac said. He did not believe it was a good idea to share his plan with the humans. The only way he knew of defeating the nishta in such cases was to remove the symbiote from the Jaffa, to perform the ancient rite of mal'shuraan. It would take Teal'c to the very brink of death. He sighed heavily, feeling every one of his years. 'We shall see.'
Teal'c smiled widely at the doctor sat beside him. It had been relatively easy to hoodwink the man. Mackenzie had such arrogance about his techniques and his methods that he had never considered failure.
And Teal'c had been careful; he had gradually pretended to come to the realisations the doctor had laid before him; that the Goa'uld were False Gods, parasites.
He told himself they were necessary lies – like the ones he had spoken during his previous time with the Tau'ri – lies that would get him released from his prison and able to return to the side of his God once more.
After he had destroyed the Tau'ri once and for all.
The journey back had been tiring. Jack knew they'd all pushed themselves so they could return without delay. They were all weary when they stepped through the Stargate and into the grey confines of the SGC.
'Hammond of Texas.' Bra'tac greeted the SGC leader with respect.
'Master Bra'tac.' Hammond bowed his head. 'It's good to see you again.' He gave a small grimace. 'I wish it were under better circumstances.'
'As do I.' Bra'tac replied. 'Where is Teal'c?'
'He's in a detention cell.' Hammond explained. 'But actually we may not need your services after all.'
Jack raised an eyebrow in an unconscious mimic of Teal'c. 'Oh?'
'Doctor Mackenzie believes Teal'c has managed to overcome the brainwashing.' Hammond informed them.
'Is that possible?' Sam asked the question which had hovered on Jack's lips. They all looked to Bra'tac.
'Teal'c is a strong warrior.' Bra'tac admitted uncertainly. 'It may be that he has found the strength alone.'
'Or not.' O'Neill remarked seeing the hint of disbelief in the old warrior's eyes.
'There is one way to find out.' Daniel suggested. He gestured at Bra'tac. 'Can you tell if Teal'c is telling the truth?'
Bra'tac inclined his head in agreement.
'Are we sure that's necessary?' Hammond asked.
'I have never seen anyone able to resist such brainwashing.' Bra'tac admitted, giving voice to his fears. 'I think it is more likely that Teal'c is telling your doctor what he wishes to hear, hmmm?'
'Wouldn't be the first time.' Jack muttered under his breath.
'If he has not yet found the strength to overcome Apophis's lies, it will be difficult to help him.' Bra'tac continued.
'Whatever you need.' Hammond promised.
Bra'tac acknowledged the other man's promise with a sharp nod. 'If it is possible I would appreciate sending a brief message to the rebel Jaffa camp.'
'Of course.' Hammond acquiesced. He turned to Jack and the rest of SG1. 'Why don't you all get cleaned up while I get things set up with Doctor Mackenzie?'
Jack acknowledged Hammond's implicit order as they headed for the lockers. He had a horrible feeling Bra'tac was Teal'c's last hope.