15 July 2001; Briefing Room, SGC; 1900 hrs
Jack kicked Daniel's foot under the table. Daniel jerked back awake.
"I know you're all tired," Hammond said. "We're nearly done, and then you can--"
"Chulak," Daniel said in his typically incomprehensible way. "We should go to," he added, and then, a second later, "Sir."
"The Jaffa rebellion is rapidly gaining strength on Chulak," Teal'c explained, because few could understand a Daniel who'd just woken up, "but they are hindered by those who still believe in the Goa'uld. Perhaps news of Apophis's death will convince them further."
Hammond sighed. "All right, but I insist that you get at least a night's rest first before going anywhere. Chulak is still dangerous, even with both Bra'tac and Rak'nor helping. And," he added to Jacob, "you'll want to go to Revanna. I'll call them immediately and let them know, but checking in with them and reviewing security is probably a more urgent first trip than Chulak."
"Uh...Revanna, sir?" Carter repeated.
"It's the name of the planet where the Tok'ra are building their new base," Major Davis filled in.
"It's been our backup plan for months," Jacob said. "Before we thought it would be possible to use a Goa'uld mothership to move the Stargate to an uncharted planet, we'd been considering Revanna as a possibility. If a better option comes up, we'll move again, but not before we take some time to gather more of our resources."
"So that's about it, sir," Jack said. "Apophis's fleet was destroyed by the supernova, Apophis's ship was destroyed by the Replicators, and Apophis and the Replicators were destroyed by Earth's atmosphere." Lots of destruction, but none of it had been his people or his team, so for now, he was okay with that.
"In addition," Martouf added, "we have learned never to attempt to enter hyperspace at the exact moment of a supernova event while flying within that system."
Carter suppressed a smile. Jack tried to figure out whether that was a joke--did Martouf joke?--and couldn't tell.
"Speaking of that," Hammond said, "there were Tok'ra scout ships in the area just before the supernova. They left before you did and didn't see what happened, but they did record a few odd events that I was hoping you'd be able to explain."
"Well, two of the events would've been us and Apophis going into hyperspace," Jacob said. "But there was something else? Another subspace window?"
"Yes," Hammond said. "A single al'kesh was spotted entering hyperspace significantly before you--minutes before the supernova. We've been fearing that that meant Apophis escaped the blast that destroyed his fleet."
"But we know for a fact that Apophis was still on the mothership when we landed in the other galaxy," Carter filled in, frowning. "Who else would've jumped ship and escaped? A Jaffa?"
"It is unlikely that a Jaffa would escape from such a situation himself, especially without allowing Apophis to be saved in his place," Teal'c said. Jack had to agree--it was that subservience and the willingness of Jaffa to act as living shields and cannon-fodder that let SG personnel win against them, at least some of the time.
"Were there minor Goa'uld onboard?" Daniel said, and then his eyes widened. "Oh..."
"Tanith," Teal'c realized.
"He wasn't on Vorash when the system was destroyed?" Davis spoke up, paging through what was probably all the data pieced together from the past few days.
Carter shook her head. "No--Teal'c and Colonel O'Neill shot down the al'kesh that was going to pick him up, but Apophis's fleet arrived early. Daniel and I found another al'kesh hovering just over the rings on Vorash, and we saw Tanith escape using the rings. He wouldn't have wanted to go back to Apophis after he'd failed and had nothing to show for it, but he might have taken that al'kesh--"
"--and escaped again," Teal'c said.
"There's nothing we can do about it now," Jack said.
He'd known that Teal'c had a vengeful streak a few miles wide, but it had scared even him a little, the way Teal'c had acted and refused to listen to reason on that death glider zooming toward Vorash. On this team, not everyone seemed to understand the limits of the chain of command and he was used to it by now, but with Teal'c, there was usually a good reason for disobedience and a good risk-benefit assessment behind it. He'd never be able to trust Teal'c around Tanith again, and he hated not being able to trust everyone on his team, even if only in certain circumstances.
Then again, there were circumstances in which Carter and Daniel had to be watched carefully, too. When something made Carter doubt her orders, the orders usually won out if they were from Jack or Hammond, but it made her too hesitant. When Daniel decided he was more morally right than everyone else, sometimes he was right (and sometimes he was wrong), but it made him dangerously reckless.
Jack supposed he should just be grateful those circumstances didn't usually overlap. If there was one thing their team did well most of the time, it was making up for each other.
"If Tanith escaped," Jacob said, "then he's got no armies, no support, and no one backing him. In fact, rumor might get to other System Lords that Tanith was played by the Tok'ra. No one will take him in. If he wants to pose a threat, he'll have to start from scratch."
"Unfortunately," Daniel said, "sometimes being a Goa'uld seems to be enough to gain support from humans and Jaffa troops. The god thing."
Jack shook his head and repeated firmly, "Nothing we can do now. Sir, I recommend we keep Tanith in mind, but there's no way we can actively look for him."
"I agree, Colonel," Hammond said.
Turning to Davis, Jack said, "And sorry about the fireball in the sky. What did your bosses say?"
Davis sighed. "We're calling it a meteor."
"Yes, sir," Davis agreed. "Luckily, the Russian government is cooperating and confirming that they saw it burn up in our atmosphere. As for the death gliders, we don't think there was any footage taken, but a couple of odd reports have come in. We're denying all of it and insinuating it might have been a test flight for a new class of stealth aircraft."
"It's not very stealthy if people saw and reported it," Daniel pointed out.
"Got a better story?" Jack said.
"Uh...no," Daniel admitted.
"And with that," Hammond said, standing up, "I think we're done here. All of you get some sleep, and then you can start spreading the news to our allies."
Major Davis followed Hammond into his office. Jack fought the urge to sit back down and fall asleep right here. If he sat down now, it meant he'd just have to get back up and walk to the bunkroom in a minute.
"So...Revanna tomorrow?" Jacob said.
"Yeah, we can go first thing," Jack said.
Daniel yawned again. "Sometimes I think the follow-up, clean-up missions are the hardest. No adrenaline rush to go along with the sleep deprivation."
"Then perhaps you should begin to sleep as soon as possible," Teal'c suggested.
"Yeah, okay," Daniel said, starting to lay his head on the table until Teal'c hauled him to his feet by the back of his shirt.
"Unless you wish otherwise," Martouf said, "I think I should remain here on the base while you contact our allies. I have had my share of adventures with SG-1. Perhaps one day Lantash and another host may join you again."
"Martouf..." Carter said in a tone that meant Jack was missing something.
"That won't be for years yet," Daniel said casually, but not casually enough that Jack couldn't tell there was something un-casual about it. A quick look at Teal'c and Jacob showed that they didn't understand the subtext, either, but then, Carter spent a lot more time with Martouf than any of them, and Daniel was more blunt than Jack about asking questions of the Tok'ra.
Still, Jack said, "Well, that was some nice work you did yesterday and today--couldn't've done it without you. Let us know if you want to come with us again sometime."
With a smile, Martouf nodded to him. "Thank you, Colonel. And all of you--I admit it was good to be on a mission again."
"I'm just glad you can fly Goa'uld aircraft," Jack said honestly.
"Come on," Carter said, beginning to shepherd him and her father of the room. "Dad, I can get you a room for the night, and we should all get some rest. I'll walk up with you guys."
16 July 2001; Revanna; 0900 hrs
"We're back," Dad announced when they managed to find the ring platform that led to the new Tok'ra base.
Sam looked around, amazed by how much had already been built in...what, three days? Of course, they had those crystal-forming crystals to help them create tunnels, but still, even the ring platform itself must have taken quite a bit of labor. She wondered suddenly where they'd gotten a set of rings, then remembered the Tok'ra had a couple of ships that usually had rings on them. She really had to ask how something like that got dismantled properly.
"Welcome," Ren'al said, inclining her head slightly. "I told General Hammond days ago that I did not believe you could be alive. I am pleased to find that I was wrong."
"I feel so loved," Colonel O'Neill deadpanned.
"We're glad you were able to settle here safely, even though the original plan didn't work, Councilor," Daniel said. "If you need help setting up or replacing any equipment you lost on Vorash, General Hammond has offered our aid."
Sam felt a shift next to her and glanced up to see Teal'c with a tiny, almost-smile on his lips, and she grinned back at him. It was never not going to be nice, not having to play diplomat anymore to the colonel's more undiplomatic ways.
"You were able to escape through hyperspace before the star system was destroyed, then?" Ren'al asked.
"In a way," Sam said. "It's a...long story, but the gist of it is that the only casualty on our side after we left Vorash was Cronus's mothership. Apophis and a large chunk of his forces are dead, and we're alive."
Ren'al's expression intensified. "There is no question? We had feared that--"
"Apophis wasn't the one who escaped at Vorash," the colonel interjected. "We think that was Tanith. Apophis is definitely"--he glanced at Teal'c--"very dead. No question."
Selmak had taken over at some point without Sam's realizing it and said, "I cannot think of anything Tanith could reveal about our current position, but it is a matter that must be carefully considered if he is indeed at large."
As much as she'd come to like Selmak, it was still really weird hearing that voice and that inflection coming out of her dad's mouth. Weirder still was that she was actually starting to get used to it.
"So..." Daniel was saying. "Is there anything we can do to help you finish moving in while we're here?"
The colonel made a half-turn, wearing his favorite shut-up-Daniel expression. Before he could speak up, Ren'al said, "Much of our technology is incompatible with yours--or, rather, attempting to interface them in such a way would drastically reduce efficiency."
"In other words, you want to get your own equipment," Sam said. "But if you'd like, we can still lend a hand to shift things around if you need the help, or set up what equipment you managed to bring. It must be pretty hectic around here, and security must still be an issue."
The colonel made up a new shut-up-Carter expression on the spot.
Finally, Ren'al nodded. "Very well. That would be appreciated, Major Carter."
Sam lay under a console with Daniel. She was trying to slot another crystal into a stubborn control panel when a small child zoomed past her, followed by Colonel O'Neill.
And then Teal'c zoomed after them both, which made her sit up so fast she cracked her head on the bottom of the panel.
"Ouch," Daniel said, wincing vicariously as she bit her lip and pressed a hand to the top of her head. "You okay?"
Instead of answering, Sam slid out from under the station where they'd been working. "Was that...?"
"Jack," Daniel said, crawling out to join her.
"Huh," she said. "And was that--?"
"Charlie," Daniel said, nodding.
Well, of course. It wasn't like the Tok'ra kept many children around. "The genetically engineered Reetou boy with all the organ failure?"
"I'm sure there's a more politically correct term," he said, his tone just this side of chiding.
Sam glanced at him and saw him watching the others play, which seemed to consist mostly of Charlie running around in circles while the colonel chased him and Teal'c planted himself as an obstacle around which to run. "I just wasn't sure we were still calling him Charlie," she admitted. "Because of...you know. The colonel."
"Oh," he said thoughtfully. "I guess so. But he does still go by Charlie, and Jack doesn't seem to mind... Well. Everyone still calls him that, anyway."
Charlie squeaked and clutched Teal'c's legs from behind. Teal'c backed into a wall to prevent the colonel from reaching the boy, which incited a brief, upright wrestling match that just barely avoided squashing Charlie but made him giggle.
She wondered what it would have been like to meet her older teammates under different circumstances, with Charlie O'Neill and Rya'c as children underfoot instead of as ghosts and fugitives. She slid carefully back under the table. "Can you read that for me?" she said, pointing at the diagnostic screen positioned next to the control panel that indicated what repair needed to be done. "I still can't get the power back, and I'm not sure what's wrong."
A few moments later, Daniel was wriggling into place, lying next to her and, blinking up at the screen. "Um," he said. "It says the circuit isn't closed."
"Of course it is," she said, frowning, then groaned. "Unless one of the crystals is broken."
"Can't you tell if one's broken?" he said.
"Not always, if it's not obvious," Sam said, reaching up with a hand to explore the panel by touch. "Here, I'm going to hand you the crystals one by one to test." She carefully pulled the first one out of the panel above her. "You see the slot where it goes in on the diagnostic computer?"
Daniel accepted the crystal but paused before putting it in. "Does the direction matter? Oh, never mind--it only fits one way."
A minute later, he pulled it back out and said, "This one's fine."
They continued testing crystals until Daniel jumped, sitting up and cracking his head on the bottom of the console. "Ow--Charlie, don't--"
"I did nothing!" Charlie's voice said from farther down. "But I told you not to play under the tables."
Sam raised her head enough to look out and just barely saw Colonel O'Neill letting go of Daniel's leg a little guiltily. "Sir," she complained.
"Jack, that was you? What was that for?" Daniel groaned, rubbing his forehead and straightening his pant leg where the colonel had grabbed him.
"Just wanted to see if I could make you jump," the colonel said. "Blame Teal'c."
"Why would I blame--"
"I'm just saying," the colonel said.
"You should stop making bets with Teal'c." With a sharp exhale through his nose, Daniel pulled his legs out of the man's reach, muttering, "You can be so childish sometimes."
Sam bit her lips, then had to slap a hand over her mouth to stop from laughing. Daniel turned and glared at her, which made a snort escape.
By the time she'd composed herself, the colonel had run off again and Charlie's chattering could be heard.
"You're going to make fun of the person translating for you?" Daniel said grumpily, but even as he said it, he was slotting another crystal into the computer for it to run its diagnostic.
"Uh-huh," Sam said, grinning and knowing he'd be distracted soon, anyway.
The colonel was like this. On a mission, or when it really mattered, they could usually count on his attempts at humor to be purposeful--morale-raising sometimes, or a way to make them annoyed at him instead of worried about their circumstances, or a distraction for people who weren't familiar with him. When he was bored, though, and they weren't in imminent danger of dying and were in the presence of small children...well. All bets were off.
Also, Daniel was distracted again and no longer grumpy.
"It says that the current..." he started, then stopped. "Uh...I think this is talking about resistance."
Sam glanced at the last crystal to be tested. There was no damage she could see, but she asked, "What about the resistance?"
"It's too high?"
"Is that a question or an answer?"
In answer, Daniel pulled the crystal back out. "Anyway, something's wrong with this crystal," he said. She accepted it and set it carefully aside in the pile of crystals to be examined. "Is that it?"
"We'll have to get a replacement, and then...yeah, I think that's it for this panel," she said, pushing herself back out from under the console. "Just two more on this thing and it should be good to go."
He crawled back out and joined her. A high peal of laughter made them both turn, but O'Neill, Teal'c, and Charlie must have taken their playing out of sight. Daniel leaned over her work to peer at the circuits inside. "Can I ask you a question?" he said, reaching a finger in as if to touch a panel until she grabbed his hand to stop him.
"Sure," she said.
"Um... The other, uh...Harlan's SG-1," he said, then paused again. "Well. I just mean that they were so different and...so similar. Do you ever wonder what it would have been like if they could have come back with you the first time?"
Sam started to think of the possibilities and quickly shut it down to point out, "They had power limitations. Even with that pack they invented, they only would've lasted forty-eight hours, max."
"But what if they hadn't had power limitations?"
"There would have been security issues--or the NID or even someone else would have caused more trouble."
"But what if, Sam?"
She sighed. "If they hadn't, and there weren't, then they wouldn't've been them, and it's a moot point."
Daniel brooded on that for a few moments while she turned back around to check the other systems on the console they'd been working on. He folded his arms and passively watched her work, which could only mean that he was still thinking. She opened a panel and examined the circuitry inside.
"All right," she said, "to start off, I need...four green ones. No--five."
"What was she like?" he said suddenly, even as he handed crystals up to her. "I barely even saw the other...well...you. Captain Carter."
("They're protected by a force field," Sam said, shaking her stinging hands.
"Switch with me," her double said. "I'll do it.")
"I barely got to talk to her, either," Sam said. She slotted a green crystal in. "Not enough time."
"What do you think of them?" he pressed. "Or what did you think of them when you first met them, when they were still basically you?"
It was hard getting into these discussions with Daniel. It was like watching a cold, bloody dissection--he peeled back each layer and cut right to the heart of it, but once he was there, he wasn't squeamish; he could wrap everything in layers of theory and present it as a heart without a flinch. She wasn't sure if he realized that not everyone could dig so far without getting sucked all the way in. Was she supposed to feel ashamed that the other her had died so that she and the rest could live, or should she be proud that she would have done that, since they were so much the same? Or had they been separate enough that she didn't have a claim to either shame or pride?
"I think the colonels would've fought a lot," she finally said. "Or one would've moved...somewhere. They wouldn't've lived together on base."
"Mm," Daniel said, tilting his head. "It wouldn't help that they're not equal. The other O'Neill would always be faster and stronger, but our Jack would get all the rank and authority from people on Earth, just for being human."
Personally, Sam thought that being human wasn't 'just' anything. She had thought that, anyway, until she'd watched her other self die doing something Sam herself couldn't do.
"The Teal'cs would've ignored each other," Daniel said. He glanced at her and gave her an almost-nudge with his elbow that didn't quite make contact, and she realized he was trying to turn it into a game of speculation to take the edge off. "Yeah?"
"Uh...yeah, maybe," she said, finally acquiescing. "I think I would've gotten along with the other me. She must've been--"
Sam wrinkled her nose. "Better at calculations," she conceded. Faster, stronger, better...
"It would be the same thing between you two as between the Jacks," Daniel suggested. "It would just take longer and be more polite. You're too competitive. She would always be better than you at math and computers, and you'd go on missions while she was stuck on base to recharge, and you would be promoted while she stayed Captain."
She didn't think the US Air Force would give a robot a promotion and a raise. Still, the words stung, even though she couldn't claim any of it wasn't true. "Not Teal'c?" she said.
"Actually," Daniel said, "I don't think he'd have cared about having someone stronger and...and more accurate with weapons than he was on base. But the part about not having a Goa'uld in his abdomen..."
"Yeah," she acknowledged. "That's true. Although...it might not turn ugly with them. The other Teal'c wouldn't have gloated about it or anything, not to an ally." And their Teal'c might be envious, but he wouldn't begrudge the other the lack of a Goa'uld.
"Oh," Daniel said suddenly.
She raised her eyebrows. "Oh?"
"I get it now. The Teal'cs would be allies and they'd work together in the field and probably make a scary team, but they wouldn't be friends. All of you would be like that, at best--you can't share a life."
Sam thought about that as she took the notebook out of Daniel's pocket and jotted down what crystals needed to be replaced for this console.
"Sure you can," she said eventually, ripping out a sheet and flipping the rest shut.
Daniel looked up, startled, clearly having moved on to a different thought. "Can what?"
"Share a life," she said. "The four of us. Sometimes it feels like we're practically living in each others' pockets." As if to prove it, she gave the notebook and pen back to Daniel, who didn't even seem to notice when she stuck it directly into his pocket for him.
He narrowed his eyes as he pushed the last panel shut. "Maybe that's true," he said. "Can't share a life with yourself, then." She imagined what would have happen if Daniel had been duplicated with the rest of them. Maybe the two would have gotten along and talked about stuff like this. Maybe the robot would resent never getting past fourteen years old in appearance--and in respect--while the original would be frustrated that he couldn't solve language puzzles as fast. "But I still wish--"
"Yeah," she said. "I know."
He nodded, frowning thoughtfully at the ground. "We should replace these," he finally said, nudging a toe at the pile of damaged crystals. "Are there more backups somewhere?"
Sam beckoned. "This way. I think I saw a store of a lot of them for people to use."
"It's a good thing you know how to fix these things," Daniel said as they moved down the corridor. "Now you just have to learn to fly a ship."
Smiling, she said, "We're gonna be tinkering with Cronus's gliders to see if there's any sort of failsafe trap left in them, but either way, as soon as the X-302 is done, I'm getting some flying lessons in."
"What's the good of having a Tok'ra father if you don't get flying lessons?" Daniel agreed, raising his eyebrows so innocently that he had to be teasing someone.
She realized why a second later when her dad stepped into view, shaking his head. "Just for that, no lessons for you," her dad told Daniel.
"I can get Teal'c to teach me if we have to learn," Daniel said, unconcerned.
"How's it going with the Council, Dad?" Sam said.
"How does anything ever go with any council?" Dad answered. "It's busy. You? Saying long?"
"Just long enough to fix one more thing, and then we'll probably go," she said, a little reluctantly.
"Yeah, I need to get back to the Council and go over a few things," Dad said, grimacing. "Just wanted to see you before you take off. I'll see you soon, all right?"
"Sure," she said, suppressing the disappointment that never completely disappeared when they had to go separate ways. "I'm looking forward to our next mission."
He hugged her quickly and then gave her a mock-stern look. "No more destruction of celestial bodies while I'm gone."
"That wasn't--" she started. "That was partly you and Selmak, too."
"If you say so," he said. "You're going to Chulak next? Take care of yourselves." He started down the corridor and called back, "And try to keep Jack out of trouble."
17 July 2001; Chulak; 0900 hrs
"We need to learn to stay out of trouble," O'Neill said once there were no longer bodies pinning them to the ground.
Teal'c stood up and looked at Bra'tac in the dark of night while his companions brushed themselves off and pushed themselves to their feet, as well. "Bra'tac--" he started.
"Not here," Bra'tac interrupted quietly. A quick gesture to the other, hooded Jaffa who surrounded them was enough to send them ahead and into the woods around them. "Come."
O'Neill and Major Carter exchanged worried glances, but Teal'c nodded to both to tell them it was no more dangerous than usual. Bra'tac was still waiting impatiently, so Teal'c gestured for Daniel Jackson to follow and fell into place at his side, O'Neill and Major Carter guarding from behind.
Soft rustling came from around them as they walked, as of footsteps on leaves. Teal'c gritted his teeth and restrained himself from turning to find the source of the noise--it was undoubtedly the scouts Bra'tac had sent ahead of them. None of his human companions seemed to notice--Teal'c suspected that even many Jaffa would not have noticed--but he saw Bra'tac shake his head when someone's foot fell too heavily in the distance, and he knew there would be a harder training lesson the next day.
The camps where the kresh'ta lived were no longer mere camps. They were much bigger, though not extravagant--Teal'c knew now, as the Goa'uld had still to learn and the rebels understood well, that extravagance was a waste of power and resources that could be better used otherwise. A System Lord could afford the waste, perhaps, when few had dared to challenge them until now; a camp of rebels could not.
And these were no longer kresh'ta. This was where they lived who hated the Goa'uld, and while they might always be in danger while the Goa'uld lived, they were no longer the outcasts on this planet. Apophis had been too harsh too many times with his subjects here, and he had wrongly chosen a time of growing rebellion to do so.
But Teal'c had not expected to walk past all of the small homes and into the main part of the city.
Wary--for they had come to deliver news, not to seek battle--Teal'c touched a hand to Bra'ta'c's arm to catch his attention.
'What is it?' Bra'tac's expression said.
Teal'c gripped his staff weapon on one hand and asked with the other, 'Where?'
Bra'tac smiled, a tiny life of one half of his mouth. 'Wait and see,' he meant.
There was a large house beginning to come into view when Teal'c felt something nearby and whirled around, staff weapon priming. Another weapon was aimed at his chest already, and he froze, still holding his position.
His opponent was not moving and wore a hooded robe that covered his face too well to see in the dark. A glance to Teal'c's side showed Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter both aiming their weapons at others, out of Teal'c's line of sight; another glance the other way showed that Daniel Jackson had his gun in his hand but did not seem to know where to aim it. Too many.
And Bra'tac...had not moved.
"Tal bet," Bra'tac ordered.
Teal'c waited for his opponent to lower his weapon before obeying reluctantly as well.
"Lower your weapons," Daniel Jackson said, looking at O'Neill and Major Carter.
"Why?" O'Neill said.
"You are among friends," Teal'c's opponent said, then tipped his hood back.
"Rak'nor," Teal'c recognized. His unease was replaced with satisfaction. These men--he looked around and found five other Jaffa surrounding them--had been trained well. Young though Rak'nor might be, he was a worthy warrior.
Rak'nor inclined his head slightly. "Come inside," he said.
"Nice digs," O'Neill said, whistling as he looked around the luxurious home.
"You should not be here," Bra'tac scolded once the door had closed behind them.
"Where is here?" Daniel Jackson asked, turning in a circle to look around.
"The home of Fro'tak of the High Cliffs," Bra'tac said, glancing at Teal'c.
"He is the one of whom I spoke before," Teal'c told Daniel Jackson, "who worked as a scribe in the Hall of Records."
"Only until Apophis betrayed us," Fro'tak's familiar voice said. Teal'c turned, smiling widely to see the friend he had not seen in years. "Now, my home--and others like this one--is a refuge for those who follow Bra'tac."
"And Teal'c," Daniel Jackson said loyally. "Bra'tac and Teal'c."
Bra'tac and Rak'nor knew of Daniel Jackson's ways already and did not react. Fro'tak looked at him, then glanced past to where O'Neill and Major Carter were standing. "Of course, child--and Teal'c," Fro'tak said, in the way that one might speak to a young Jaffa of Daniel Jackson's age.
The Tau'ri and the Tok'ra so rarely spoke to Daniel Jackson in that way anymore that he seemed surprised. Teal'c stepped forward and said with more than a little pride, "Not a child--this is the warrior who held Cronus at bay as I killed him eight days ago--"
"Cronus!" Bra'tac said, surprised.
"--and killed Apophis beside me two days ago," Teal'c finished. Daniel Jackson gave him an odd look but did not interrupt. The Jaffa who stood around Fro'tak's house became very still. "Apophis is dead."
When someone finally answered, it was Rak'nor. "We have heard that before," Rak'nor said.
"Never before did we watch Apophis die and then destroy the body ourselves," Teal'c said.
"That's the trick," O'Neill spoke up, his tone light but his eyes hard. "Can't come back to life when there's nothing left to come back to."
Rak'nor believed them, as did Bra'tac, because they trusted the word of Teal'c and SG-1. A man deceived was the most dangerous enemy--it was what would have made Rak'nor a formidable opponent after his father had been killed by Apophis, and it was what would now make Rak'nor a formidable ally after he had seen Heru-ur die.
But there were others who looked unsure, and Teal'c had had enough of believing without knowing. "You do not have to trust us," he told the room of waiting ears. "If you are here, then you know already that Apophis and the Goa'uld are not worth your worship. We can give you nothing but our word that Apophis will never return here."
"Now, that doesn't mean no one else will," Major Carter said. Teal'c saw a few of the Jaffa shift in their place, perhaps as uncomfortable to see a woman with a weapon as he himself had been at the start. "Cronus is dead, and so is Apophis. As you know, there are plenty more where they came from, and some might see Chulak as a place to recruit people into their armies. "
"As Heru-ur did before he died," Rak'nor spoke up. "But we will not fall to any Goa'uld."
"But Apophis is--" someone started, then stopped.
"A god?" O'Neill said, raising his eyebrows.
"Powerful," the Jaffa retorted.
"Well, his blood was all over these guys' hands a couple of days ago," O'Neill said. "If one Jaffa and his human student can do that, imagine what an army of Jaffa can do."
"It wasn't just Teal'c and me," Daniel Jackson said, but he spoke seriously, not in modesty. "It took a lot of our allies. Even then, a lot of people died and we were lucky and had to try...far too many times to get there. We're not saying it'll be easy, but you know that already."
Bra'tac nodded. "This is not a task that they"--he gestured to SG-1--"or even all of us in this house can accomplish alone. But together, with Jaffa, humans, Tok'ra, and more at our back, we are strong. Apophis is dead. Think on that."
Teal'c was grateful that O'Neill wished to speak with Rak'nor and Fro'tak, that Major Carter wished to listen, and that O'Neill's eyebrows could make Daniel Jackson sit when his words could not. Bra'tac had long since begun to call Teal'c his friend and brother, but there were times when Teal'c wished he could speak with Bra'tac as a student again.
"Cronus," Bra'tac repeated when they stepped outside of Fro'tak's house. Teal'c nodded. "There have been times when I have doubted that you would defeat him."
"I am stronger than Cronus was," Teal'c said.
"It was not your arm or your heart that I doubted, but your reason. I am pleased that you did not allow your lust for his death to overpower you."
Despite his words, Bra'tac was watching him, knowing, as always. Teal'c had trained in black night and the fog of battle under this man--the shadows of night did nothing to mask the expression he knew his teacher was wearing. "I nearly failed," he said eventually.
"Ah," was all Bra'tac said.
"The boy who calls me 'Tek'ma'tae' nearly died with me."
"Yet the boy does not think less of you."
Daniel Jackson had always known those things about Teal'c, though, or he would not have followed that day on Cronus's ship. "What does it matter?" Teal'c growled. "Cronus is dead."
"He is dead," Bra'tac agreed. "And what will you do next time, when one of them"--he jabbed a finger toward the house--"dies instead because of your haste?"
"Do not think I have not imagined that," Teal'c said.
"Do not think I care what you have imagined," Bra'tac retorted. "Will next time be different?"
The thought of Cronus leaning over Daniel Jackson was what had given him the strength to hold Apophis long enough, and to catch the symbiote before his friend could be taken. "We are still alive," Teal'c said in answer.
"Even after Apophis."
"I crushed his symbiote in my hand," Teal'c said. It was strange to remember that the symbiote in Teal'c's hand, and not the man Daniel Jackson had stabbed and killed, had been the tyrant who had ruled them.
"I would have done the same," Bra'tac said, not asking how it had happened.
Teal'c clenched his fist, almost able to feel the blood still flowing through his fingers, just as the blood of his father's symbiote--and Shan'auc's--had flowed through the fingers of other Goa'uld. "I do not regret it. I would do again if I had the chance."
"Be glad that you do not have the chance," Bra'tac advised. "I do not know if I could take the wiser path if I had Apophis kneeling before me now. But that will be my last act against the Goa'uld--when my prim'ta becomes too old for me to carry, I will kill it with my own hands."
"That will not be your last, Bra'tac," Teal'c said, frowning. This was the second time his friend had spoken of such things.
"I am old, Teal'c. When this symbiote matures, in less than two years, I will die as a Jaffa warrior, as our ancestors before us died. Perhaps," he added thoughtfully, "I will even seek out enlightenment at Kheb."
"We can find symbiotes for you," Teal'c said. "We have stolen prim'ta from the Goa'uld before."
"And it will nonetheless reject my body," Bra'tac said. "You know this already."
"Our scientists have been attempting to devise a method to eliminate our dependence on the larval Goa'uld," Teal'c said.
Bra'tac's lips turned upward slightly, and only then did Teal'c realize he had said 'our scientists,' and not 'the Tau'ri.' "And if such a method is not completed when my time comes," Bra'tac said, "then I will have lived a full life. I will have seen the fall of Apophis and the beginning of a new era. I will die free, Teal'c."
"My son needs you," Teal'c said. "The rebellion needs you."
"Perhaps," Bra'tac said noncommittally, then pulled Teal'c's hood over his head. "Now. Do not show your face until you have reached the chaapa'ai. You have friends here, Teal'c, but you still also have many enemies. We will speak again soon."
17 July 2001; Abydos; 1700 hrs
Daniel stepped out of the wormhole, turned to Kasuf, and said, "Apophis is dead."
He was waiting for the ruckus around them--whispers, murmurs, questions, more than a few cheers--and didn't care or listen or answer, because Skaara and Sha'uri were standing frozen before him and the rest of the team. Skaara looked to Jack, as if asking for confirmation, and then turned to Sha'uri, looking lost.
They waited for the noise to fade. Abydos deserved a little ruckus. Apophis had meant something to everyone here, too.
Then Sha'uri stepped closer, Skaara at her side, and, too quietly for people behind her to hear, she said, "You are certain that you killed him?"
"With our own hands," Teal'c told her. Daniel forced his hands to hold still. "We destroyed the body, then left it on a ship as it burned. There is nothing left of him now."
Skaara looked down. Sha'uri didn't, but her hand fisted in her robe at her side.
Teal'c's words weren't true, of course. There was plenty left of Apophis, and there always would be, but they were memories now, mere stories to pass down. That was where gods and monsters belonged: in stories, in history, and in thought, not sitting on thrones among men.
"Now," Jack said, stepping up beside him and directing his words to Kasuf as much as to them, "if you don't mind, we'd like to go over certain strategic points with you. You know, an update on the System Lords and where we stand, what you can probably expect."
Sha'uri nodded. "We would be grateful for that."
Finally, Skaara raised his head, looking unnaturally solemn. "Yes. Abydos will never belong to a Goa'uld again."
When they returned to Nagada, Daniel found Kasuf alone for a moment and lowered himself to his knees. "Dan'yel," Kasuf said, sounding surprised. "What is this?"
"I lied to you," Daniel said, staring at the folds of his robe on the ground. "I must ask your forgiveness."
Kasuf didn't answer for a while. "When?"
"Just before Shifu came," Daniel said. "We came to take naquadah. We used it for a bomb."
"But you have done so many times before," Kasuf said, puzzled. "No?"
"Not like that," Daniel insisted. "I did not tell you that it was for a bomb."
"Dan'yel..." Kasuf sighed. When Daniel looked up, the man still looked confused. "We often do not know for what the SGC uses our naquadah. We do not ask."
"Yes, but...because you trust us," Daniel said. "You trust them."
Kasuf raised his eyebrows. "We have been given no reason not to trust. Are you telling me now that I should not?"
"No!" Daniel said quickly. "No. It was only that one time. But. It was wrong. I believed it was wrong, what we would do with the naquadah. Major Carter and Teal'c tried to stop it. O'Neill risked...very much to stop it. I would have asked you to refuse to give us that naquadah if the other choice had not been worse--"
"Would you do it again?" Kasuf said, not asking what the other choice had been.
Daniel bit his lip. It always came down to this. He could wish all he wanted that he hadn't done something, but if he could say with certainty that he would have done it again... "Yes."
"Then how can it be the wrong choice?"
"But how can you trust us?"
"You are telling me now," Kasuf said simply. "Our people were not harmed. And you have given us comfort and hope that the false gods will fall--that we will live in peace, without fear again." Daniel looked up at him, furrowing his brow. "Dan'yel. Nothing is so simple. I know this. If you say that we are right to believe in Tau'ri"--Daniel nodded vigorously--"then we believe."
"Oh," Daniel said.
"Stand up," Kasuf said. When he obeyed, Kasuf took him gently by the shoulders. "My son. My friend. All I ask is that you stay safe."
"I cannot promise that," Daniel admitted.
Kasuf gave him a sad smile. "And yet I will ask it of you, and you will do what you can in answer. That is all we can ever do."
Daniel didn't turn when someone crunched the sand behind him and listened instead to the footfalls. Jack had a distinctive loping stride that was easy to pick out, especially with the dry ground rattling under him. Besides--Sam and Teal'c would take their cues from the Abydons and keep their distance while he was at his parents' grave. Privacy simply didn't hold the same meaning to Jack as it did for most people, at least where his team was concerned.
"Hey," Jack said, sticking his hands into his pockets once he was only a few steps away.
"Hey," Daniel answered.
Jack tilted his head at the stone marking the place. "Thinking again?"
"Habit," he said absently.
Daniel reluctantly checked his watch. "Is it time to go already?"
"We've got lots of time," Jack assured him. "We should make this our official vacation home. I mean, we killed two System Lords, blew up a sun, and destroyed our fourth mothership around Earth's orbit and our second ship with Replicators, not to mention the three gliders at Area 51 that they're using for spare parts. Do you have any idea how long we'll be dining out on this?"
Daniel snorted. "About a day, probably. Do you realize how much paperwork we haven't done from everything?"
"Your reports are always too long; blame yourself for that," Jack said.
"Your reports are always so short that it's hard to figure out exactly what happened."
"It's lacking details and sufficient context."
"See," Jack said, "I use one word, you use five."
Daniel smiled involuntarily and raised his eyebrows at his parents. 'See what I have to put up with?' he told them silently and wondered what they would have said in response.
"Your people are celebrating," Jack said suddenly, jerking his thumb back toward the village.
"I know," Daniel said.
"They're wondering where their Traveler is."
Daniel frowned, then said, "The...uh. You don't mean me, do you?"
"There are little kids whispering about the god-killer, too," Jack said unhelpfully. When Daniel turned an appalled look on him, he added, "I didn't come up with the name. I'm just the messenger. Although it's got a nice ring--"
"The great Jack O'Neill," Daniel retorted. "Destroyer of gods and hero of Abydos and killer of Ra and savior of the--"
"Shut up," Jack muttered.
God-killer. He hoped they weren't actually saying that, not about him, but while Jack might make things up, this didn't sound like something he'd joke about. He didn't even want to know what else they were calling Sam and Teal'c, and how many more suffixes they'd added to O'Neill's name.
"I didn't kill him, you know," Daniel said. It was ridiculous that people might think he had, when he'd been the one stumbling in and getting caught and accidentally staying alive. That the knife had been in his hand meant so little; it was Martouf who had directed them through the ship, Sam who had found the Replicator infestation, Jacob and Jack who had taken care of the Jaffa in their path, Teal'c who had saved him at least twice in the space of a minute.
Jack shrugged. "Technicalities. You helped just as much as anyone else. And it doesn't matter; you're one of theirs, and gods are falling like never before. Let 'em celebrate."
Gods were big, though. It didn't matter whether or not they were real gods; when they fell, they crushed a lot around them.
"So why aren't you celebrating with them?" Daniel said.
"Never liked that stuff," Jack said dismissively. "I took off while everyone's back was turned."
"I'll be there in a minute," Daniel said.
"Ah, don't bother. Betcha anything Carter and Teal'c will come out and join us as soon as they can escape. We can make a party of it."
"On the burial grounds?"
"We could walk backward several meters," Jack amended, "and then make a party of it."
"Or...we could stay here," Jack said after a minute.
"It's nice here, isn't it?" Daniel said, looking up. "The planet, I mean, not specifically here here." He hadn't realized at first that the daytime sky could look different on different planets--bluer or brighter or more full of clouds. The air smelled different, too. He thought that might be what he missed the most on Earth: the smell of the desert and the feel of the ground.
"It's not easier for them," Jack said, calling his attention back. "Well, maybe it is, in some ways. But if you think Kasuf doesn't think about his kids being taken every time we bring up Apophis, or your brother and sister can forget about what happened to them..."
"Of course not," Daniel murmured.
"But they're not gonna let their people dwell on that. Life's too short."
He opened his mouth to answer, then closed it. It was an odd thing to say, now that they'd met people whose lives were all but infinite.
"For humans," Jack clarified.
"Yeah." When nothing more was forthcoming, Daniel added, "I'm not moping."
"Okay," Jack said.
"You're thinking," Jack said. "Which, given your brain, is just as dangerous."
But Jack let him keep thinking anyway, and it was Daniel who broke their silence to say, "You've been doing this kind of thing forever."
"Uh...no," Jack said.
"Not wrecking spaceships," Daniel clarified. "Fighting people."
"All right, 'most of my life' is not 'forever,'" Jack said, sounding partly indignant but partly amused, too.
"I think I'm getting used to it," Daniel said. "But it hasn't been all that long for me, even if it feels like it has. How do you do it? All those years...how aren't you tired?"
Jack did some thinking of his own, then, and finally said, "Letting yourself get tired is the quickest way to get dead. Hammond knows that--it's why we have so many evaluations. And why we rotate the exploration roster. It's why the four of us are off the rotation for a week or two."
"I thought that was because of the paperwork we haven't done," Daniel said.
With a shrug, Jack pointed out, "Getting killed just makes more paperwork. No one wants that."
Daniel rolled his eyes. "Of course."
A moment later, Jack asked, "You tired?"
"A little bit," Daniel said honestly. "But I'll be bored in a week. Sam and I will have a list of planets we want to see by then."
Jack smiled briefly and clapped a hand on his back. "That's the spirit."
As if summoned by her name, Sam called, "Colonel, Daniel?"
Jack raised an eyebrow at him, then turned around to face Sam and Teal'c, both of them standing just beyond the last plot. "Hey, guys," he said, making his way toward them.
On an impulse, Daniel stayed where he was and said, "Teal'c--come here?" Teal'c stiffened. Jack paused in the middle of a step, then continued on until he'd reached Sam's side. "Please," Daniel said, gesturing. "Just for a minute."
Teal'c glanced at Jack, then finally handed over his staff weapon and stepped gingerly between the graves and toward Daniel, his entire body and expression radiating discomfort.
"Daniel Jackson..." he said quietly.
"These are my parents," Daniel said, tentatively grasping his friend's stiff arm and pulling him closer. Teal'c didn't budge--Daniel didn't have the muscles to force him to move and wouldn't, anyway, but the tug must have been enough, because eventually Teal'c took two tiny steps forward. "Melburn and Claire Jackson. Uh, obviously."
Teal'c looked down at the stone place marker. He didn't speak.
"And I wanted them to meet my friend," Daniel added. "I mean, not meet, obviously, because they're, you know... But..."
When Teal'c finally opened his mouth, it was only to say, "I understand."
"Teal'c has protected me and taught me a lot," Daniel said aloud to the grave, but mostly for Teal'c, and told Teal'c directly, "They would have liked you."
"I will continue to teach and to protect you," Teal'c said to him.
"Not for that. They would've liked you. I'm sure they'd say it now if they could." He hesitated, then decided it had to be said, whether or not he had the right to say it. "They would have forgiven you, too. For everything. I'm sure of it."
Teal'c didn't seem to know what to say, and neither did Daniel, so it wasn't until Teal'c started glancing at him worriedly that he realized he was on the brink of crying again for no one reason he could name.
"I don't know what's wrong with me lately," Daniel muttered, blinking and ducking his head self-consciously.
"Your mother and father would not have wished you to spend your life grieving for the dead," Teal'c said gently.
"I'm not sad," Daniel said, and was surprised to find that that was mostly true. Relieved, maybe, between Apophis and Cronus and being here on Abydos, and overwhelmed at the idea of what had passed and what was still to come, but not strictly sad right now. He took another step back, and this time, Teal'c stepped back with him. "I just can't believe it's over."
It wasn't over, not even close. Killing what had ripped him from his home and his kin and his life didn't change anything, really. Apophis's death marked something important, and yet, all it meant for them now was a brief reprieve, staving off imminent defeat just one more time in a string of battles that each meant so little to the war, and the joy and the despair of the moment was almost more than he could stand.
"Indeed it is," Teal'c said softly, understanding. "And it is not."
He's dead, Daniel told his parents. We killed the one who killed you, and I don't know what it means. "What does it mean?" he asked.
Teal'c didn't seem to know, either, or not at first. And then, he said, "We live in fear of one less Goa'uld. Those who fell fighting him can continue on their journey in peace."
"All roads lead to the great path," he said, Shifu's words echoing in his mind. Shifu would know, surely, he and Oma Desala. Maybe Daniel's parents were on the great path and had met Robert after all, and all the other people--friends--that they'd lost. Maybe they had been watching him all along.
"That is not now," Teal'c said.
"But eventually," Daniel said.
"That is not now," Teal'c repeated. "The fate of the kalach is the concern of the dead. You are among the living."
"Yeah," Daniel said, standing among the dead. His life always started with those dead who were buried here. He had been born in the aftermath of a bloody revolution and then begun anew with his parents' death. "We've avenged our dead. Do you think...they'd understand? Or approve?"
Teal'c was silent for a moment. Then, he took Daniel's shoulders, like they were in the gym and he was correcting a position, and pulled him around until he was facing away. "Honor your dead, Daniel Jackson--fight in their name. But live for the living." He started back to their friends and turned back and raised an eyebrow. Daniel watched thoughtfully for a moment, and then followed them all back to the village.
Sha'uri dropped into a seat next to Daniel as others talked and traded stories and wrestled or watched the boys wrestle. "I saw Shifu again," she told him quietly.
Daniel whipped around to face her. "What? You--where? When?"
But she shook her head. "In a dream."
"Oh," he said. "Right, uh...I was there."
"A different dream, Dan'yel," she clarified, flicking his ear. "It came to me shortly after he left us. He said that he would watch over us--that he was at peace."
He hated that disappointment flickered through him, because he should want the best for Shifu first, who was the child, not himself. "Oh," he repeated. For a moment, he wasn't sure whether to feel uncomfortable about the fact that someone might be watching over him the way that Shifu might be, then decided it wasn't a bad thought, as long as his little brother wasn't watching while he was in the shower or doing anything embarrassing.
Sha'uri tilted her head, then said, "You do not ask how I know that it was not simply a dream."
"Was it just a dream?" Daniel said.
"No," she said. "I am certain that it was Shifu who spoke to me."
"Well, I believe you if you say it was real. A lot of people still aren't completely sure that we didn't imagine the entire thing, with the other dream."
"We know better, you and I," she said with a smile. "I thought that you should know." She stood and ruffled the top of his head.
He reached up automatically to bat the offending hand away but then caught it instead. "Sha'uri--I'm glad you told me," he said.
She nodded and extracted her arm, still smiling, and returned to the man she had been sitting with before. Daniel felt his eyebrows rise as she leaned in close to him for a moment and received a smile from the man in return. Not her husband--surely he would have heard about that, even from light years away--but perhaps he would be one day.
He looked around, making sure he knew where the others were--Jack was talking to Skaara, while Sam couldn't seem to resist trying to fix a sagging, wooden fence in the absence of electrical circuits, and Teal'c held what looked like a very serious conference with Kasuf.
Daniel climbed up to sit on top of the fence closing off one of the mastadge pens and watched the bustle from there, absently patting the animal when it headbutted his hand.
Life was too short, Jack had said. There were people managing to live happily here, despite all that had happened to them and their home. It was easy to forget about this part, sometimes--that the death of an entire army of men meant life for someone else who would otherwise have been killed. In battle, they sought their enemies' death, but their goal was still life.
He'd always miss the smell of the air and the feel of sand on his feet, and it would feel less and less familiar every time he came back and he knew that already, but he suspected the restlessness was stronger and would never go away. He'd found his brother and his sister and her son, and they'd killed Apophis, and they'd finished so many things but started so many more. It would never be over, and for perhaps the first time, he didn't think he ever really wanted it to be.
There was death waiting for SG personnel--their own or their friends' or both--but there was life, too, as long as they were willing to fight for it.
The mastadge engulfed Daniel's fingers in its mouth.
"Ew," Jack's voice said, and Daniel turned to see him and Skaara standing next to him.
Wrinkling his nose, Daniel pulled his wet hand out. "Ew," he agreed.
Skaara ventured too close, though, and Daniel wiped the saliva off on his brother's hair.
"Ay!" Skaara complained, swiping at him in retaliation and making him topple off the top of the gate he'd been sitting on, which made him land on Jack, who cushioned his fall to the ground with his mik'ta and a loud curse.
"Oops," Daniel said, and scooted off Jack as fast as he could, because Jack was already recovering and lunging for him. He did not need those two teaming up against him, except then, Jack was sitting on him and Skaara was choosing now to remember where Daniel had been most ticklish as a child.
Daniel had held out before against men with shock weapons and Goa'ulds with ribbon devices, so he clamped his lips together stubbornly and struggled to free himself, until suddenly Jack shifted his weight onto Daniel's shoulders and Sam appeared and sat down on his legs, and there was no hope for escape.
In the end, it was perhaps the most embarrassing thing that had happened to him in very recent memory, but he'd laughed, too. He couldn't remember the last time he had laughed so hard, even if it had been at the hands of a merciless older brother.
Also, Teal'c rescued him, and it was always fun to see Jack struggling futilely in the grip of an amused Jaffa.
"You may travel through the chaapa'ai and defeat Goa'uld," Skaara said, laughing himself as Daniel caught his breath and made a mild effort to look dignified while sprawled on the dusty ground, "but I knew you as a baby, do not forget."
"I haven't forgotten," Daniel protested. "It's not my fault I'm the most mature one around here."
For that, Sam sat on him again, and Teal'c accidentally let Jack escape to steal Daniel's sandals. Skaara fed them to the mastadge.
Too soon, Sam said, "I hate to break this up, but we should get going. Given recent events, General Hammond probably wouldn't like it if we missed a check-in, even by a few minutes."
Jack checked his watch. "Yeah, you're right," he agreed, but even he sounded reluctant.
"I will walk back with you," Skaara offered.
The pyramid was rarely really empty these days unless there was a good reason for it, so there were plenty of people milling around, paying them varying amounts of attention.
"Apophis is gone," Skaara said to Daniel as they arrived. "He who took us away is now dead. What will happen now, for you?"
Daniel shrugged. "For now, we wander the galaxy," he said. "Explore. Learn things."
"Try to find enough help so we won't be crushed the next time someone attacks," Jack added.
"Why not attack now?" Skaara asked. "Why wait for them to attack you?"
"Love to," Jack said. "Question is where, who, how. Mostly the 'how.'"
Skaara sighed but nodded in understanding. "Then...there is no longer one task that you wish to accomplish," he said. "You search without knowing what you seek."
"You sound like your nephew, you know that?" Jack said, but Skaara didn't laugh.
"I'll come home," Daniel said, knowing what he'd meant. "When we're done."
"Will you ever be done?" Skaara asked.
There had been a time when he had thought this would be the end--that after this, he would be done and go home. It was hard to know just when that time had passed, but it was no longer in sight. "I don't know," Daniel said honestly. "But that doesn't mean I won't come back sometimes, or you can't contact us..."
"Yes," Skaara said, forcing a smile and holding out a hand as Sam dialed the DHD. "Of course."
Daniel accepted the hand and pulled his brother close. "We never have to fear him again," he said quietly. "Will you be all right?"
Skaara patted him on the back. "Yes," he repeated, then pulled away. "We will all be fine. Return soon, brother--if I do not see you within two moon cycles, I will go to the SGC myself to ask them why."
Daniel grinned. "I'll visit," he promised as he backed up the steps toward the open wormhole. "We will."
"Be safe," Skaara called to them before they could leave.
"We'll do our best," Jack said.
Daniel paused before stepping through and waved to his people. He would always hate leaving here, but it didn't ache quite as much when he knew he'd be back. "Goodbye," he said.
18 July 2001; Embarkation Room, SGC; 2200 hrs
General Hammond greeted them in the embarkation room.
"How did everything go?" the general asked.
"The Tok'ra are settling in, sir," Sam reported. "They've started setting up other outposts, too, in case the Goa'uld discover Revanna, but they're pretty short on supplies and personnel for that. We should consider Revanna their main base until further notice."
"The Jaffa rebellion is growing strong on Chulak," Teal'c added. "I believe we can count Rak'nor among those most loyal and most influential in our cause. He will soon begin to seek out the leaders of rebellions on other planets."
"Daniel rubbed spit in his brother's hair," Jack said.
"Jack took my shoe," Daniel said, holding up the single sandal that was left intact.
The general didn't so much as twitch. "All right, then," he said easily. "Glad to hear things went so well. Welcome back, SG-1."
"It's good to be home, sir," Daniel said, and followed his team down the ramp.
We made it! Thank you for sticking with me. Aside from being the longest book by length, this one was more ambitious than the previous ones in terms of the topics I tried to cover--much of this book was really about weaknesses as much as it was about strengths. I'm very grateful for the reviews, comments, encouragement, and discussion throughout.
As for what's coming up...
While I like to think each novel in the series has enough of a resolution that it can potentially serve an ending of sorts, this is the one I think of as 'The End'--at least, the end of books in this format, relatively straightforward and covering an entire season.
That being said, there is another story in the works. I think it'll end up a long short-story or short novel--it sort of starts in media res, in the middle of an episode in the middle of the season, and spans an odd amount of time (mid- to late season 5 until season 7). If you've guessed the topic of that story, you may be unsurprised that I'm a little nervous about its execution and probably won't finish and start posting that too soon. However, it's something I really want to finish at some point, especially since I've been setting up some of its twists as far back as book 2.
Also, when I have writer's block (or am avoiding homework), I've started writing bits of a mini!Daniel AU of "Affinity," because, if you couldn't tell, I have a soft spot for Daniel-Teal'c tales, and because alien-on-Earth stories are fun. At some point, though, I do want to write something set in the canon 'verse with the real Dr. Daniel Jackson and team, so I'm planning to stop playing in this AU 'verse after that.
Once again, thanks so much for reading through this entire project. I hope you've enjoyed the ride, because I certainly have.