by Lorraine Anderson
Colonel Jack O'Neill looked down at himself. "For God's sake, Daniel, couldn't you have warned us?"
Sam looked dumbfounded. She sat down heavily on a dusty step, wincing as she looked up at Jack. Daniel stood up, looked at the two, then raised an eyebrow. "Um... it would seem I read the inscription wrong."
Jack looked up at him. "Ya think?"
Daniel chewed his lip. "I'm not perfect."
"Yeah, well, I see why the ancients de-ascended you." Daniel winced, and Jack immediately regretted his words. "I'm... sorry, I'm just under a bit of stress over here."
Jack glared at him.
"I'm sorry," Daniel smiled, looking away. He turned his attention to the rune covered wall. "It appears that the Asgard have been here and fairly recently, although there's a good bit of rhetoric that does not sound... Asgardian. This inscription had appeared to look like the directions for a transportation device." He looked at Jack, then at Sam, then took a deep breath. "Apparently not. Literally, it said that one would transport from one heavenly body to another heavenly body. I took it to mean a planet. I was tracing the next inscription with my brush when you two walked in and passed by that panel over there."
"Yeah," Jack said. "And your point is?"
"When you walked in at the same time I was brushing, well - we must have triggered something. The next thing I knew, an inscription had flared up and died, you had both fainted, and I was calling out to Teal'c to get back here, fast."
"Then we woke up."
"Then we all realized that we had a problem."
"Teal'c!" Sam grabbed her walkie-talkie. "Teal'c. Don't come in the building!"
"I am at the edge of the clearing now," Teal'c answered. "Daniel Jackson called for assistance. Why should I not come in the building, O'Neill?"
Sam winced, and Jack grabbed his walkie-talkie. "Because she's not Jack O'Neill. I am."
There was a moment of radio silence. "I'm not sure I understand."
Daniel grabbed for his walkie-talkie. "Remember Ma'Chello?"
"I do." Jack could almost see Teal'c raising an eyebrow. "I see. Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter have switched places."
"Um, yeah, that's the gist of it, yeah."
"I did not realized that Ma'chello had been here." Jack winced, remembering the ancient man who had switched bodies with Daniel in an effort to keep fighting the Goa'uld. He and Teal'c had switched when they had attempted to return Ma'chello's device to Earth. "Cut my hair?" he muttered.
Daniel raised his eyebrows, glancing at Jack, then grabbed his walkie-talkie. "He hadn't. It was an Asgard; a renegade Asgard, like Loki, I believe. Perhaps he was conducting his experiments among other peoples. Maybe even Terrans. Think of the people who have disappeared entirely."
"Now you're getting a bit far out. I'm not buying that Amelia Ehrhart is here," Jack said.
Daniel shrugged. "Maybe not now - but there were a couple of inscriptions..."
"What kind of person would leave his lab notes on the wall?"
Sam shrugged. "Well, sir, they are an alien people..."
"And that excuses stupidity?"
Teal'c had come up to the doorway. "I was going to report that I had found signs of occupation." He held up a wrist watch. "Tauri."
"How do you know?" Jack said.
"It is a Rolex."
"Oh." Jack cocked his head. A strand of hair fell into his eyes. "Ick," he said, under his breath as he brushed it back.
Sam looked up. "We should try to recreate the conditions."
"Yeah," Jack seconded. "I'm feeling really-" He looked at Sam, who raised her eyebrows. "- uncomfortable. Sorry." He looked away. "Do you suppose it will work?"
Sam shrugged. "Asgardian technology shouldn't have the same safeguard that Ma'chello placed in his device. We should be able to exchange again directly."
"How come I don't believe it will be that easy?" Jack muttered. "Well, Daniel, you get brushing. Carter, you follow me and we'll go past that place again."
Daniel turned towards the wall, and Sam and Jack walked past the panel. "The inscription is glowing slightly. It's - um - blinking. It didn't do that before," he said. He turned toward the pair, who had stopped, glassy eyed, then back at the inscription. "It's gone out." He walked towards the pair. "Jack? Sam?"
The tall colonel shook his head, then looked at Daniel. "For a moment, I was no place, then I was back here. I'm Sam."
"Dammit," Jack said, pulling his hair outwards and checking the color. "Daniel, what happened?"
"I think the panel ran out of power." He looked at it.
Jack screwed up his face. "Ran out of power?"
"Sir," Sam said. "Maybe whoever it was took the power source and this was just residual."
"He did and it is." A voice came from another doorway.
"Who the hell are you?" Jack backed up a step, then noticed the gun... a zat?... in the man's hand.. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it the way it sounded."
There was a youngish looking man in the doorway, wearing a World War II Army jacket and leather pants. He looked Jack up and down. " Who the hell are you?"
Jack glared at him. "Why should I tell you?"
The man gestured. Teal'c walked in, a gun in his back. From the bushes around the building, both men and women emerged, all armed. "Because we have the tactical advantage, that's why."
Jack looked around and stayed silent. Sam and Teal'c followed his lead. "Jack," Daniel started, "don't you think we should tell them who..."
Jack made a shushing noise.
The man shrugged. "All right, take them to jail."
They were walked to a huge clearing. The leader walked to one side, and pushed a knothole on a nearby tree. A village sprang to life in front of them.
"Whoa," Jack raised his eyebrows. "Nox?"
"I don't think so, sir," Sam said.
Stone cottages lined a stone-paved street. There were gardens at most of the houses – flowers and vegetables that looked like corn, beans, tomatoes, and other Terran vegetables. Off in the distance, Jack could see a small wheatfield, and there were other pastures that had animals that looked like cows, horses, and pigs.
"Are those Texas longhorns?" he asked.
The leader looked at him, startled, then nodded tightly.
"Jack, look at the clothing," Daniel said.
"The clothing, hell, look at the sign!"
Over the entrance of the village was a sign that said:
Unofficial Colony of the United States of America
"If you seek a pleasant planet, this ain't it."
Sam murmured. "Colonel, I would say that these are not Goa'uld."
Jack looked at the people staring at them as they were paraded through the village. "Yeah, but who the hell are they?" He saw styles from 1920's flapper chic, done in leather, to homespun blouses and pants, to a guy who looked straight out of the sixties, complete with peace sign and head band. They were all ages from an elderly couple to a baby who ignored them and chewed on his mother's shoulder.
Jack looked at the building in front of them – a jail, with actual iron bars. He chewed his lip. "Look," he said, turning to the leader next to him. "I think we've gotten off to a really bad start. I think we're on the same side. Can we talk?"
The leader winced. "We were warned that people who might travel here may not be human. I would feel happier if you were behind bars."
"If that's what it takes, okay."
The woman next to him spoke. "Tom, that's American slang."
Tom gestured them into a cell and clanged the door shut. Jack looked around. It was a cell, but... it almost had a homey touch. The walls were stone and the bars were some sort of metal, but there was a cot with a quilt and a fairly large pillow on it. Jack ran his hand and pushed at the cot. Hell, he had a harder bed at the base. Was this the jail or the visiting dignitary's quarters?
"Use this place often?" he said. The couple ignored him.
"Sylvia, you know what Loki said."
"Loki," Teal'c growled.
"Oh, crap," Jack said. "I really don't like that guy."
"You know Loki?" Tom said.
"Yeah," Sam said. "He cloned Jack."
Tom looked blank.
"Little grey guy, about three feet tall?" Jack pursed his lips and looked at the floor. "Yeah, we know him."
"Which doesn't mean anything to me," Tom said. "You might know him as an enemy."
"Well, we didn't part friends," Jack said. "But I don't know as you'd call him an enemy. You mean, he was behind that body changing device?"
"Cultural references," Daniel said suddenly.
"Excuse me?" Jack said. "Is it just me, or did you suddenly come in from left field?"
"Hard to fake a complete knowledge of a culture."
"But easy to look up," Sam said.
"On what?" Jack said. "The Intel chip in our heads?" Tom looked puzzled. "Joke. We don't have a computer in our heads."
"I'll start," Sylvia smiled. "Bob Hope."
"Comedian," Daniel said. "Ski nose. Vaudevillian. Passed away earlier this year." Tom looked startled. "Well, he was one hundred."
"Judy Garland," Sylvia said.
"Wizard of Oz," Jack volunteered. "Singer."
"Figures you'd know that," Daniel muttered.
"What does that mean?"
Sylvia looked up with a twinkle in her eye. "Ok, a bit more obscure. Who's Cliff Edwards?"
Sam and Daniel looked blank. Jack wrinkled his brow. "Charlie Weaver?"
"No," Daniel said. "That was Cliff Arquette." He grinned. "I know that from reading about David Arquette, his grandson."
"Youngsters," Jack muttered.
"Ukelele Ike," Teal'c said solemnly. "He also provided the voice for the cartoon character 'Jiminy Cricket'."
The other three stared at him. "You've been watching 'Pinocchio'?" Jack ventured.
"Indeed," Teal'c said, raising an eyebrow.
"See," Jack said, turning to Daniel. "That blows your theory to hell. He's not even from Earth."
Sylvia laid a hand on Tom's arm. "Give it up, Tom. They're fine." She turned to Jack. "It's his military background."
"Ah," Jack said. He glanced at Sam and saw his own face looking back at him. He shivered and said, "I may not look like it right now, but I'm Colonel Jack O'Neill, United States Air Force."
"Major Tom Watson, United States Army. Shot down over Germany in the War." He shrugged. "Obviously, I didn't reach the ground."
Sylvia smiled. "Sylvia Jones Watson. I disappeared in 1955." At their questioning looks, she explained, "Loki apparently kept us in storage until twenty years ago. He experimented on us, then tried to return us. He didn't realize that humans didn't live as long as he did. When he discovered what had happened, he helped us set up this colony."
"And you're all right with that?" Jack asked.
Tom shrugged. "What could we do?" He looked at them sharply. "Which two have been exchanged?"
"I'm Major Samantha Carter," Sam said, extending a hand. "That's me, over there. This is Doctor Daniel Jackson, and over there is Teal'c."
"Did Loki bring you?" Sylvia asked.
"No," Daniel said.
"We now have the technology to reach other planets?"
"Well, it's not our technology. We discovered something," Daniel said. "It's a long story."
Tom frowned. "Welcome to the Bermuda Triangle."
"Oh." Sam said.
"Our little joke." Tom said. "We're a diverse group. Some of us actually disappeared there, but about half of us are from the Titanic."
"The Titanic," Jack said.
"So, you've met Loki," Daniel said in the awkward silence.
"Polite little bastard, isn't he?" Jack commented.
"Yeah," Tom said. "He gave us the technology to fend for ourselves, but that really doesn't excuse him. I wish you had found us earlier."
Daniel shrugged. "We didn't know you were here."
"Where did you come from?"
"We came through the Stargate."
"Um... the big circle on the hill."
"Through that?" Tom shook his head. "We thought it was just a sculpture."
"Well, Loki's not coming back. Thor's taken care of him," Jack said.
Tom screwed up his face. "Thor? Another God?" he said, disbelievingly. "You mean we fell into a Norse myth?"
Jack sighed. "I wouldn't believe me, either, but swear to God, hope to die."
"Sir, we have a problem," Sam said lowly
Jack brushed Sam's blond hair back from his face. "Only one?"
"We should repatriate these people. They're all citizens of Earth. Tactically, though, the Stargate and the Asgard are top secret. I doubt that Loki picked these people on their security status."
Sylvia grinned lopsidedly. "Definitely not." She looked around. "Many of us will not want to leave. Especially those who were born here." She looked wistful. "But it would be nice to have the option."
"We need to kick this problem upstairs. Daniel? Carter? You're sure that thing won't work again?"
"I think the batteries are dead," Sam said.
"Maybe if we concentrated hard enough? Maybe the transference will weaken?"
"This isn't Star Trek," Daniel said. "And you're not Janice Lester."
Sam smiled. "You hadn't seen Star Wars and you watched Star Trek?"
Jack shrugged. "Teal'c forced me."
Teal'c smiled slightly and inclined his head.
Jack shrugged. "I can hope, can't I?" He turned to Tom. "Could you let us go?"
"I'm coming with you," Tom said.
"Do you want to let your people know yet?"
Tom shook his head. "We're a pretty level-headed group. We've speculated that Loki must have had some idea of the kind of people he wanted. But I think we had better keep your identity..."
"Such as it is," Jack muttered.
"... under wraps."
"Pete, Jason, and Dave will come with us."
"And me," Sylvia said.
Tom smiled slightly. He unlocked the cell. "Let's go."
They walked silently back through the village. Jack could feel the eyes on him.
"You've been through the device," Sam said to Sylvia. "When did you change back?"
"When Loki changed us back."
"Is Teal'c human?" Sylvia asked.
"I am a Jaffa," Teal'c said.
The group looked confused but polite. "Sir, they haven't encountered the Goa'uld." Sam said lowly.
"I gathered that."
"What are Jaffa?" Tom asked.
"Go ahead, Daniel," Jack said.
Daniel nodded. "They're what Loki warned you about. Most of them serve people called the Goa'uld, who are evil... people with great power. They were on earth before the pyramids."
"You're kidding," Tom said.
"No," Daniel said. "We've met Ra, Apophis, Anubis, Imhotep, Seth, Osiris, Hathor. All evil." He looked into the distance. "Some time ago, we discovered the Stargate in Egypt... the circle on the hill. It creates a wormhole that connects Earth to here and many other planets."
Jack nodded. "The problem is that the Stargate – and Loki – are top U.S. government secrets. So we're going to have to go back through the Stargate to find out what to do with you."
"You think we can't go back."
"I didn't say that. I don't know."
"On the other hand, if you did go back, you might not be believed," Daniel interjected.
Jack looked at him.
"Who are they going to tell? The 'National Enquirer'?"
Jack shrugged. "Daniel, actually I think you should stay here and start interviewing the abductees. Tom, out of curiosity, do you have any sort of security clearance?"
Tom shrugged. "I was a pilot in the second world war. Sir. I was never officially discharged."
"Exactly when were you abducted?"
"Over Germany. October 13, 1943. I suppose we were listed missing in action."
"Good enough. Would it be all right if Daniel stayed?"
Sylvia looked disappointed. "I suppose I had better stay with him."
Jack had a thought. "Look, Tom, you've been lucky here. There are some real nasty guys out there - worse than Hitler - and they may come in through the Stargate." Jack grimaced. "Put a guard on the gate."
Tom looked at him sharply, but acquiesced. "Will do. David? You heard?"
"Whatever you say, Major. I'll warn the village," said the young man. "I don't know that we'll have any trouble, though."
"If you see some people who look like they're from Ancient Egypt," Jack said, "shoot first, ask questions later."
Sylvia exchanged a kiss with Tom, then walked off. "Your wife." Sam said.
"My second. Loki stole me away from my first wife."
They turned back. The rest of the group trouped towards the gate. Jack kicked at the MALP. "Sometimes I think this is a worthless piece of junk. It never tells us anything!"
"Carter, dial it up. People, stand back." The gate shooshed to life.
"You mean all we had to do was that?" Tom said.
Sam grinned. "Not exactly. You needed a seven symbol code. Unless you had an Egyptologist among you."
Tom grimaced. "Not exactly. We're going through that puddle of water?"
"Throws quite a kick, too," Jack said.
"Ready?" Sam said.
"No," Jack muttered, then walked into the gate.
As they emerged from the other side, Jack looked around and cringed. The room was the familiar gate room, military drab, but the occupants weren't dressed in military green. "Dorothy, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." He stared at the staff weapon pointing at him. "All right, who answered the doorbell? Damn salesmen. What are they selling this time?" He looked across the room. "Hathor. I thought you were dead."
She smiled at him appraisingly "I am Hathor's daughter but I have Hathor's soul and her memories. Essentially, I am your god Hathor.
"Right," Jack said. "Of course. I knew that."
"Where is Hathor's Beloved?"
Jack stared Hathor in the face. "Hadn't you heard, darling? He died about a year ago."
"Put me on a lie detector. Better yet, go to the cemetery and look at his headstone."
Hathor stared him in the eye. "Many of your comrades are under my spell, and have already told me that Daniel is on the planet you came from. But O'Neill must pay for hurting my mother."
Jack started to retort, and Sam poked him in the side. He glared over at her, and stared himself in the face. Sam gave a warning glance to Jack. "I'm here," she said to the Jaffa, who grabbed her.
"One of the people you warned us about?" Tom asked.
Jack winced. "Yeah. Not the kind of young lady you bring home to Mother."
Hathor slapped him across the face and knocked him down. "You've been around O'Neill too much. I should treat you with Nishta."
"Sorry, already immune to that. Your beloved brother Seth's compliments. The whole team is immune."
"A shame. We should love to see you grovel." She turned to the surrounding Jaffa. "Take them to the detention area."
They were rushed out of the gate room to a large storeroom and thrown into the medical center. Tom stumbled, and was held up by a startled General Hammond. Janet rushed up to Jack. "Sam! You're bleeding."
Jack put a hand up to his face, winced as he felt liquid. "I'm all right, Doc... Janet," he said. He looked up at the cameras. "I suppose those are on."
"Hathor said they were," Hammond said.
Jack pursed his lips.
"I would ask you how your mission went, but I think we have more important problems. Where's Jack?"
Jack winced. "Hathor's clone took... him, but she was waiting for Daniel. I told her that Daniel had died, but she already knew where Daniel was. She used that Nishta drug."
Hammond stared at Jack, then rubbed his face. "Damn. I thought Hathor was dead."
"She's not really Hathor, sir." At Hammond's look, he said "She claimed she was Hathor's daughter and had her memories." He rubbed his face and looked at his hand. Smooth skin. He had almost forgot. "I hope she has a limited amount. Which would explain why you and everybody else here aren't under her spell. How'd she get in?"
"She took over SG-10 first."
"Who were off-planet. Sweet. The proper access code, and the Gate was wide open."
He looked over at Tom, who was waiting patiently. "General Hammond, this is Major Tom Watson. He was reported missing over Germany. We found him and other... missing people... on our mission."
"I'm beginning to wish we had remained missing," Tom muttered.
General Hammond's eyebrows raised. "I'm looking forward to your briefing, Major Carter." He turned towards Tom. "Pleasure to meet you, Major. I just wish it were under friendlier circumstances." He turned towards Jack.
"Yes, sir," Tom said. "It's hard to believe I'm on Earth."
"We're usually not this besieged. But I presume you were told this is Top Secret?" Tom nodded. "Now you see why."
"He said he had security clearance. And we had no choice but to bring the others." He nodded at Pete and Jason.
Hammond shrugged. "They already knew about the Stargate, I presume?"
"Not exactly, sir. Loki took them there." He sighed. He pulled Teal'c, Hammond, and Janet to one side. "By the way, don't expect any - technological miracles out of me this time, sir. The mission is more interesting than you think. Do you remember a Janice Lester and a Jimmy Kirk? I know you saw them on Star Trek. You referred to them at one point when - Daniel - went missing and ran up that credit card bill."
Doctor Fraser's mouth dropped open. General Hammond looked at him, puzzled, then his eyes widened. "You have got to be kidding me."
"Not about this, George."
Teal'c, who had been casing the door, looked over at Jack. "Indeed... she is not."
"Damn." The whole world was packed in that world. "Jack?" he mouthed.
Jack nodded. "So you see I have more than a vested interest in this case." He looked around. "This isn't the entire base."
"No, just the ones they deemed important. Some she has under her control. I'm hoping they just kicked the rest out the door."
Janet looked him over appraisingly. "How are you feeling?"
Jack swallowed. "Well... quite frankly, I could use a good piss."
"I'll go with you," Janet nodded.
Jack raised his eyebrows. "Girl talk? I can go to the bathroom by myself."
"Don't argue with your Doctor."
Jack shrugged, and led the way to the bathroom. A Jaffa positioned himself outside the door. "Hope you have a clothespin," Jack said to him. The Jaffa looked away. "That's what I like about these guys. Their great sense of humor."
Janet yanked him in and closed the door.
Jack stared at her. "I can use the bathroom by myself."
"I'm sure you can," Janet said. "But I want to take your vitals. And," she grinned. "I want to make sure you remember to sit down to pee."
Jack blushed. He had forgotten, but he was sure he would have remembered when the time came. "Well, turn your back."
Janet grinned again. "I'm your doctor. I shouldn't have to." But she turned around.
Jack used the toilet, blushing, then quickly zipped his pants and rushed to the sink. "That was disgusting," he muttered.
"Whatever you say." Janet put her professional face on. "Ok, how are you feeling?"
Jack grimaced. "I wasn't lying before. I do feel fine, Doc. I wish I could tell you different."
"Did you try... it again?"
"It...? Oh, yeah. The damn thing ran out of power. Something happened, but then – nothing happened."
"Well, I wonder if you could still pull a Kirk. Just a thought." She pulled out a cuff. "Let me at least take your blood pressure and pulse."
"Whatever you say."
She took the readings. "Hmmm, a little high, but normal. No temp? Nothing else?"
"Just a headache. From this." He pointed at where Hathor slapped him. "I wish I knew what they're doing to – Jack."
She looked sympathetic. "Last time, Hathor thought he would make a good Jaffa."
Jack shuddered. "I'm afraid of that. Or worse."
"Are all the ladies in here? Well, not in here, but, um, in... " his voice trailed off.
"I think so," Janet answered. "With the exception of the General and a couple of others over 60. And you'll notice it's the Jaffa guarding us, rather than the base males. I think Hathor Junior learned Mama's lesson."
"Hathor told me that the little trick she tried last time wouldn't work again. She told us the second time we met her that we were immune, and I don't think she was lying."
"Well, this one boasted that she had a better... formula, so to speak. Maybe Nishta, maybe not. She also said that although her 'mother' goa'uld is dead, this is the same host." He shrugged. "They must have pulled the host out of the deep freeze I was in and thawed her in a sarcophagus."
"Which explains the resemblance." He winced. "So... think we can get out through the air vents?"
Janet looked up and grinned. "We may be skinny, but we're not that skinny."
"Better get out of the potty, then."
They exited the bathroom. "Girl talk," Jack said with a straight face.
General Hammond glanced sharply at him. "Uh huh. Well, did that talk include any plans?"
"Not really, sir."
A voice barked loudly over the loudspeaker. "Jaffa. Kree!"
"Oh, shit," Jack said. "They're leaving. Sir, if they get off planet, we may never find them again..."
The Jaffa started backing out of the room, staff weapons on the ready. The crowd in the room started advancing. The Jaffa took a warning shot, then all ran down the hall, towards the gate room. Teal'c sprinted after them, Jack right behind, running rather slowly, he thought, then realized his legs were shorter. But instead of following the Jaffa into the gate room, Teal'c sprinted up the stairs to the control room. "Where the hell are you going?" Jack shouted at Teal'c as he burst into the gate room. Hathor looked back at him, then pushed Sam, who was looking rather groggy, through the Stargate.
The Stargate field collapsed. "I was trying to observe where they were going," Teal'c said through the microphone. Beside him, the Sergeant was shaking his head, looking stunned.
"Oh. Right." Jack pointed his finger at Teal'c. "Good thinking. Did you see? And do not say no."
Teal'c raised an eyebrow. "I saw the last four symbols."
Jack chewed his lip. "Shit. How many combinations does that leave?"
The sergeant looked up at him. "Major Carter? What are you doing here? What's happened?"
Jack closed his eyes. "Hathor happened. And I am not Major Carter, even though I may look like her." He looked at General Hammond, who was coming up behind him. "Sir, may I have a headache now?"
"The last four symbols corresponded to Tom Watson's planet."
Jack opened his eyes. "She is going after Daniel, the lucky stiff. But how did they know the coordinates? Did they hit 'redial' accidentally?"
"I... um... I think I did that," the tech said. "At least I think I remember doing that. They gave me coordinates, but I..." He shook his head. "I don't know."
"General, can we give him a raise? Never mind, this is the Air Force we're talking about. General, permission to go to Bermuda Triangle?"
"The Bermuda Triangle?" General Hammond barked.
Tom Watson walked up the stairs. "My planet, sir. What's going on?"
"The nasties that were here?" Jack said. "They went to your place."
Teal'c looked doubtful. "They may capture Daniel and dial out by the time we organize."
"Not if my guard was already there," Tom said. His face set, and he glanced at Jack. "Colonel, I'm beginning to regret I listened to you."
Jack looked down. "I don't blame ya."
"Gentlemen, now is not the time for arguments or blame. Now, there weren't any more than six to eight Jaffa that I saw, " Hammond said.
"And if they got ambushed by the Major's people... Permission, General?"
"Go. Now. SG-8 will go with you."
"With due respect, General..." Dr. Fraser said.
The General closed his eyes. "Yes. SG-8 is made up of men, and we're talking about Hathor here, which makes it worse. Ok, Captains Woodbury, Spade, McLellan, and Burke will accompany you, along with Teal'c. And we hope she's ran out of nishta." He gestured to an aide.
"But, except for Teal'c, those are all... oh." Jack blushed and looked away.
"And need I remind you... so are you at the moment, and I have half a mind to keep you here."
"Would you keep Major Carter here?"
"No. But you are not Major Carter."
"I'd like to go back, too," Tom said, a touch of anger in his voice.
Jack started. He had forgotten that the Major was right behind him.
"I'm not sure..."
"Sir, it's my people you're talking about. I need to go back. I also know the area better than any of your team." Hammond still looked doubtful. "And I should remind you I'm not under your command or the Army's, either, since I'm officially dead."
"If you're not in the Army, you are a civilian on my base and still under my jurisdiction." Hammond pursed his lips. "All right, sir, but you go last. If there's a firefight, I'd just as soon my people be in front."
Tom looked obstinate, then acquiesced. "Fine."
A few minutes later, the team was gathered into the Gate room. Jack squirmed into his jacket... he hadn't realized before how heavy the armament was. Not uncomfortably heavy – Sam worked out every day – but the upper body strength was obviously different. "All right. Assume that the gate is being guarded by Hathor's goons. We go through low, but don't shoot until we see them." He nodded at Tom. "It's also very possible his people have driven Hathor away from the gate. Once through, I'll decide our course." He looked up at the control booth. "Ready when you are, General."
"You have a go as soon as the gate opens."
"Yes, sir." He looked at the troops again. "Ready yourself." The troops lowered their arms, Teal'c lowered his staff weapon, and Tom pulled out his gun. Jack looked at it closer than he had before. The zat resemblance faded, and it started to look more like a water pistol. Oh, well, the Asgard were a peaceful race, but hopefully not that peaceful...
The gate shooshed open. Jack gestured forward. They entered the gate in a crouch...
... and exited into a crowd of guns pointed at him. Jack looked around. It was the colony residents, and mostly female. Jack lifted his hand. "Hold your fire," he shouted, as much to the colonists as to the troops behind him. "I'm getting tired of this," he muttered to himself. He raised his hands. "Don't shoot, we're the good guys."
Tom pushed forward. "Lower your weapons."
A babel of noise greeted his request. Jack winced. "Quiet!" He winced again at the tenor - or, rather, the soprano - of his voice.
The crowd hushed.
"Sylvia?" Tom asked.
"We set a guard, as you said. The guard captured a woman and six of her bodyguards..."
"Jaffa," interjected Teal'c.
"... coming through the gate. Some of the guard brought them back to the village to detain them for your return. Daniel told us they were goo... go..."
"Goa'uld," Jack prompted.
"... then suddenly, he turned on us, as did all of the male guards. Before we knew it, most of the males in the village were surrounding her and her... Jaffa... and they left the village. Of course, we didn't dare shoot." She shook her head. "What the hell happened to our guys?"
"Hathor was a Goa'uld... queen bee, so to speak. A few years ago, she used chemicals to control any men foolish enough to come near her..." He sighed. "Including myself. We almost lost Earth. Major Carter, Teal'c, and the ladies on the base drove her out."
"Was?" Sylvia said."
"Hathor is dead. This is her offspring. She seems to have inherited most of Hathor's abilities," Teal'c said.
"She needs male genetic material to make more Goa'uld, and Jaffa to carry the larva." Jack said.
"Larva? I thought the Goa'ulds were people."
"Teal'c? Could you lift your shirt?"
Teal'c lifted up his shirt, showing the X carved into his stomach. "Goa'uld's are snake-like symbiotes that mature in there... " Jack pointed "... then enter a human to control the brains and bodies of anybody they care to... possess. And there are good Goa'ulds, who prefer to call themselves Tok'ra, and bad Goa'ulds. The majority of them are... bad." He looked around. "You know, I'm feeling a bit exposed here. Any chance we can disburse?"
"I do not believe Hathor will attempt the gate at present," Teal'c said. "She is not as powerful as her mother. Her control over the villagers will require most of her time."
"And you base this on..." Jack commented.
"With due respect to General Hammond and most of the older men of the base, she did not attempt to control everyone on the base. Hathor, when she came the first time, had no problem controlling General Hammond. This tells me that her formula is flawed, and works better on younger men, who are more easily led astray by their hormones."
"Mmm." Jack wasn't certain whether he had been insulted or not. "But Sam seemed to be led away fairly easily."
"I do not believe Hathor's control over Major Carter is complete. Hathor may have drugged her."
"She did look pretty hazy." And rather banged up. Jack shook himself. "Well, let's get back on topic, campers. I take it they haven't come back through the gate. Any idea where they went?"
Shrugs answered his question.
"We need a plan of action," Jack said. "A full out frontal assault won't work, and I'm still feeling a bit like a sitting duck."
"We'd be sitting ducks in the village, too," Sylvia said.
"Is there anybody left there?"
"No. The children are in a safe place in the forest."
"I'm going to get a court martial for this," Jack muttered to Teal'c. He turned to Sylvia. "Go get them. We're going back through the gate until we can get more military female reinforcements. I'll take the first crew through. Teal'c, you send the second crew. Ladies, you remain here and defend the gate. I don't want civilians in the line of fire."
A protest greeted his words. Tom pushed to the front. "Colonel, this is our planet. We'll send the elderly, the infirm, and the children through, but the majority want to remain and defend our homes."
Jack opened and closed his mouth. "O... kay. I guess I have no problem with that. I'm hoping the General won't either. But I would like everyone to come with us and at least make a plan in a safe place."
"We should do, Tom," Sylvia said. He nodded.
"Teal'c, dial home, then stay here to help people through. I should prepare the General. People, stand back."
Teal'c dialed Earth's address. The gate shooshed open. Some stood back, scanning the forest, others walked forward. "C'mon, everybody, just walk into the water." He walked in...
... and came out in the gate room. General Hammond looked down from the control room. "Jack? Is there a problem?"
Jack winced. "A little. Hope you don't mind extra house guests for dinner, sir."
"What?" He shook his head. He stared as a crowd started stepping onto the ramp from the Stargate. "There had better be a good explanation."
"There is, sir. Hathor has stolen almost all of the men of the... colony. We need a safe place to regroup and a place for their children" He looked around. "They don't plan to stay."
"That's right, General," Tom said, not smiling. "The Bermuda Triangle is our home now."
"Well." He looked around, then smiled. "You can be assured that I will do everything in my power to have you declared a colony of the United States –"
"But no income tax," somebody yelled, and the crowd laughed.
"- with special exceptions. The point is, we will not abandon you." He turned to face the crowd. "However, I must impress on you that this is a top secret facility. I will not tell you where. Until such time that the Stargate program becomes public knowledge, I am afraid you cannot contact any family or friends." He glanced at the gate. Children were coming through.
A few looked crestfallen, but most were nodding their heads. "Some of us have been gone a very long time," Sylvia said, "and the rest were born on there. We'll comply."
"We can palaver later," Jack said. "We need to find Hathor. I would suggest work parties of two – one... native, one Stargate personnel. Volunteers?"
Most of the crowd stuck up their hands. Jack's eyes widened. "Alrighty then. I'll leave Tom and Sylvia to sort you out. We need six ladies and... " He looked at Hammond, who nodded. "12 zat guns to counteract the Nishta." At Tom's look, he said, "The electrical charge counteracts the drug."
"Jack, you're beginning to sound like Sam," Hammond smiled.
Jack sighed. "Don't insult me."
As Tom and Sylvia were sorting the crowd, Dr. Fraser approached Jack with a plate of sandwiches and some trail mix. "Look – I know I can't convince you to sit down, but at least I can order you to eat."
"I'm not hungry."
"And when was the last time you ate?"
Jack thought back. "At breakfast, early this morning."
"It's late afternoon, and a lot has happened. Eat."
Jack frowned, grabbed a sandwich, and started eating. Teal'c, after a second, took one.
"And the trail mix. And some water."
"Oh, all right." He did feel better. He looked at the doctor, who was staring at him intently. "I'm not going to fall over."
"That's good." She turned to Teal'c. "Watch over him, if you can."
"Indeed," Teal'c smiled slightly and inclined his head.
After the guards had escorted the crowd out, twelve were left in the gate room. Jack was paired with Sylvia. Tom had left, over his strong objections.
"My husband will be cranky," Sylvia said, "but he'll get over you. By the way, I know a little bit of what you're going through," Sylvia said. "Loki did it on me once. But I'll have to admit, he paired me with another female."
Jack felt himself blush and couldn't help it. "It's not fun," he growled. "There was a guy named Ma'chello that invented something similar. I traded bodies with Teal'c, and while that wasn't so bad, he was going to cut my hair!"
Teal'c looked over and smiled.
Sylvia looked at Teal'c and grinned, then her grin faded. "We went through the process a second time. I don't believe anybody went through this over a week."
"And you're saying..."
"I don't know whether the process is reversible without the machine."
Jack felt a chill go down his back and he shivered. "Well, we have a couple options we can try. We still have Ma'chello's machine, or we can contact the Tok'ra or the Asgard or maybe the Nox."
"Tok'ra? Asgard? Nox?"
"Oh. You haven't met the Tok'ra. The Asgard are Loki's race and are much more conscientious then Loki. The Nox? Don't ask."
"It's time to go." He strode into the middle of the gate room. "Does everybody have their Zats? Good. Remember, one zat to stun - and to bring your guys out of their hypnosis - two to kill, and three to disintegrate. Don't approach their encampment unless absolutely necessary - we want to have as much firepower as possible to stun them. If you have any questions, contact me." He looked at General Hammond, who had moved to the control room.
"Whenever you're ready, Colonel."
"Dial the gate."
As the Stargate dialed, Jack found himself thinking about Sylvia's comments. Not that he believed it, but what if it wasn't reversible? He couldn't imagine himself as a perky blonde for the rest of his - or her - life. A brainy perky blonde, yet. Not that he seemed to have inherited any of Sam's intelligence.
Geez, what would Jacob think? Sam's dad would be appalled at what Jack was doing to his little girl. Selmac, Jacob's symbiote, would probably be laughing his snaky little head off. Well, maybe Jacob would, too.
He shivered again. The Stargate shooshed, and Jack was glad for the diversion. Thinking about this was going to make him insane.
"Good luck, people," Hammond said.
Jack looked up at him and saluted. Thank God for a flexible commander - wait a minute, that made Hammond sound like a Gumby. "Let's move out," Jack said, shaking his head at the image. They went through the gate...
Jack woke up with a start. The last thing he remembered was a zat gun. "Aw, shit," he said. "Some days it just doesn't pay to get up."
He looked around. He seemed to be in a jail... the same jail he was held in the last time he came over here. Daniel was looking at him, his eyes glazed.
Jack sat up and cocked his head. "Daniel?" The archeologist was slumped over. His face was dirty and bruised. The cell had a foul stench it hadn't had before. He looked around. Good. The stench came from a slop bucket and not from Daniel. But the cot was gone, and the wall looked stained.
The eyes unglazed a bit. "Sam?"
Jack held up a finger. "Let's try this again. I say Daniel, you say..."
"That's right. Daniel?"
"That's me. Are you all right?"
"What's going on?"
"Daniel? Stay with me."
"... Sorry. Hathor, Junior, found the Nishta didn't work on us, so we're pumped up rea–lly good with some sorta aphro... aphro... aphrodisiac."
Jack closed his eyes. "Oh, wonderful. Drunk."
"Not really drunk. Better'n drunk. Really high and horny as hell."
"Well, I am."
Jack clapped his hand over his eyes, then massaged his forehead. "Oh, for crying out loud. Did you? With Hathor?"
"No, she hasn't come for me yet. Think she's waiting until we're... off-planet." He grinned, then turned sober. "Jack, I don't think I can resist..."
Jack turned over to get up.
"Don' do that!" Daniel turned away.
"Oh, for..." Jack looked down. "What the..." He was wearing practically nothing. Well, it was more than he'd seen on some beaches, but his was in his - Sam's underwear. He had managed to ignore the bra all day, but - there it was. He blushed and tried not to look at himself.
"Throw me your shirt."
"I'm tied up. And..."
Jack moved toward him and bumped his nose on something invisible.
"... they set up a force field. I think they put us in the same room..." he giggled. "To prime me, so to speak."
"And it's working. Oh, yeah."
"I did not want to hear that. Stop that. It's me. Jack."
"Yeah, the thought nauseated me, too. But the body is all Sam... but I think any female could sit there and I'd react the same."
"But not if it were me sitting here."
"No." He was silent for a second. "I think."
"Thanks." Jack's voice dripped with sarcasm. "I think."
"This is really good stuff - did you know you've dropped Sam's voice half an octave?"
"How about giving me some useful info? Like - is Sam doped up?"
Daniel laughed. "Yeah." He giggled. "And Hathor is confused as hell. Sam's not reacting to her, but neither is she reacting to anybody else. Hathor is wondering if you're a eunuch."
Jack slapped his hand over his eyes again. "There goes my reputation," he moaned.
"Yeah, like you were Galactic Stud, anyway."
He looked at Daniel. "But hasn't anybody told Hathor what happened?"
"You know nishta. Prob'ly doesn't seem important to them. And Hathor doesn't know to ask."
"Ok, off the subject. Hathor's daughter?"
Daniel's voice steadied as he concentrated on academics. "Well, according to mythology, Hathor did have a daughter aspect. In fact, she was known as Mother and daughter to Ra, as well as his mate. I suspect what happens is that she is more like a queen bee, and at least one of her offspring is a duplicate of herself, only paired with a host when the original is gone. Which explains why she doesn't have Hathor's later memories."
"So even if we kill her, she could show up again."
"But why does she look like..."
"My theory is that they retrieved Hathor's host body, put her in a sarcophagus to bring her back to life, then introduced the daughter Goa'uld, since the original was dead beyond retrieval. By the way, Hathor's host is a volunteer."
"Hathor told me."
"An impeachable source. And you believed you?"
"Oh, yeah... Jack?"
"I need to stop talking a while." His eyes started to glaze over.
"Are you sure?"
"Oh, yeah." Daniel flopped down and curled up.
Jack, unable to sit still, paced the hut. He found a window and tried to poke his arm out through the bars. A force field, as he thought. And, yup, he was in the village. Looked a bit different with all the guards. A face appeared suddenly at the window, and Jack jumped back a step. "Oh. It's you. I thought it was someone important."
"Major now, actually. Been out of touch?"
"I plan for you to be out of touch forever." Hathor smiled. "You would also make a good Goa'uld host."
Jack cocked his head. "Really? And your point is?"
"We're moving out and I wanted to ensure you would not try anything stupid." She gestured, and Jack found himself looking into his own face. His eyebrows raised, and he stared at Sam. She looked like hell, and she did look drugged – her eyelids were drooping, her muscles slack – there were bruises on her face and the left arm looked a bit wrong, possibly broken. But as he watched, one eye twitched in a wink.
"He is going to make a grand host for the new Ra."
Jack's eyebrows rose. "Ra! In my..." he shut his mouth before he could say something really stupid.
Hathor smiled. "Oh, but you have feelings for O'Neill."
"You could say that." Daniel giggled, and Jack glared at him.
"Then – you shall watch when I introduce young Ra to his first host. And his mate shall go into you."
"Go to hell."
"Shall you have that spirit afer you are introduced to your new God? I think not."
"You know the worst thing about being a God? You talk like a bad comic book."
She gestured to a guard. "Drop the force field and bind her. The other two should be no trouble. Is the other unconscious?"
"He is, my Lady."
"We shall carry him along. He will make a fine bargaining tool." Jack guessed that she was going to trade Teal'c to the system lords for favors. As usual. The Goa'uld had no imagination.
The force field dropped and the guards raised their weapons. Jack stared at Hathor. He got the oddest feeling when he looked at Hathor. Was this what Carter felt when she sensed a Goa'uld? He'd have to ask. When they got out of this.
Hathor looked at him. "You've hosted a Goa'uld."
"Yeah, your Mom picked up on that, too." The guards grabbed him and pinned his arms back. "Hey, watch where you're touching a girl."
Daniel giggled. The guard prompted him up, and he rose, grinning, carefully not looking at Jack or Hathor.
"Let us go. We are anxious to reach our new home."
"Complete with Goa'uld breeding pool and all of the torture chambers one could ever use." Hathor slapped him. Damn, he really needed to learn how to keep his mouth shut. He was pushed out of the jail and onto the road out of the village. He noted the crew he brought through the Stargate were shackled. He nodded at Sylvia.
They started on a quick march to the Stargate.
Did he see a glint of metal in the woods?
"So," he said to Sylvia, "how've they been treating you?"
"Their manners leave something to be desired," Sylvia said.
"And their choice of clothing, ohmigod!"
"Quiet," the guard growled.
He did see metal in the woods. Jack raised his voice. "Can't we have a little girl talk here?" He noted the guards looking at him.
"Quiet, I said!" The guard slapped him and knocked him to the ground. Jack rubbed his jaw.
"Get your hands off me or I'll scream!" C'mon, C'mon, if that were the cavalry, they were taking their sweet time. "I mean it," he shouted at the guard.
The guard pulled him roughly up. He screamed as hard as he could —
He was impressed. He had never heard Carter scream – she was a soldier – but this sheer volume made even him wince. Everybody turned toward him.
Zat blasts erupted from the trees. The guard beside him was hit. "Everybody drop!" he yelled. Damn, his throat hurt.
Carter grabbed her escort's zat gun and started fired at the villagers – they were knocked down, but were up in a minute, looking confused. "Stay down," Jack yelled. Daniel, after a moment's hesitation, grabbed a gun and did the same thing, but his shots were more erratic, and he missed more than he hit.
"Daniel!" Jack shouted.
"It's done. Drop the zat." It was done. The guards were all down, the villagers were all sitting up, looking around them. After a moment, they were unlocking the prisoners.
"Damn. That was odd," Jack heard one mutter.
Daniel looked around, then dropped the zat. "That's good, Jack," he giggled.
Sam came over and grabbed Daniel's arm. She giggled back.
"You're high, too," Jack said.
"Oh, yeah, sir. Rea...lly bad. I just didn't have the other side effect. I guess what they say about the mind and sex is true." She giggled again.
Jack closed his eyes. "Carter, stop that. I'm getting the creeps watching you giggle."
Carter and Daniel laughed harder and fell into each other's arms.
Teal'c walked up. "Teal'c. I thought you were unconscious."
People started emerging from the trees. One woman came up to Teal'c and Jack. "Major Carter."
"Not exactly, but go ahead, Sergeant."
"General Hammond sent us through to find you, sir." Tom walked up beside her and nodded at Jack resolutely. "We were sent in from other units, and we arrived after you left."
"How did you get through the guard at the gate?"
"He ordered us to go through firing. And we were backed up by these civilians."
Jack glared at Tom. Tom lifted his chin. "If you think I was going to leave my planet for the U.S. Government to claim, well, I remember my history. I wasn't going to be pushed out of my land, either by Goa'uld or the Army."
"It wouldn't have happened..." Jack's voice trailed off.
"Uh-huh. Well, maybe not by your personnel. So I forced my way in, and I left a rear guard at the gate."
Jack rubbed his head. "Unofficially — I guess I don't blame you." The woman looked at the Colonel. "Never mind. How did Hammond know... the MALP. The sneaky SOB turned the MALP on. He saw us get gunned down. Dang, and we checked the MALP too, and didn't see anybody."
The soldier pointed at Daniel and Sam, who were still hugging and giggling. "Is that Colonel O'Neill, sir? What's with them?"
Jack looked and rolled his eyes. "Oh, they're just really, really happy right now." The woman shook her head. "Drugged, Sergeant. Don't read anything more into it."
"Whatever you say, sir."
Jack sighed. His reputation was trashed. He wondered if he'd ever get another date.
Jack ran his hand through Carter's short blond hair. "Who the hell thought that back-engineering the Ma'chello device was a good idea?"
General Hammond sighed. "Jack, we've been over this. They never expected the device to ever be needed again. They're putting it back together as fast as they can."
Jack looked around the briefing room table as if daring the other three team members to say something. "Jacob and Selmac came and laughed themselves silly, the Nox ignore us..."
"The Nox always ignore us," Daniel said.
"And all Thor can say is 'Wait' and he can't even come himself and he sends a message." He glared at Sam. "And it's been two weeks and not only that, I have to deal with your period."
Teal'c smiled. Daniel looked at the table. "Whoa. Way too much info."
"It hasn't been pleasant for me, either, sir." Carter said. "I was the one who got beat up because of you! At least monthlies are normal. Have you looked at my bruises? And have you looked at the ones on you?"
Jack swallowed. I've been trying not to, Carter."
"Well, your body leaks, too." She blushed, then went on. "And I can't get hold of my instruments right and I actually broke one because of your hand strength. I'm getting tired of this, too... sir. And you cut my hair!"
"Well, at least it wasn't a crew cut," Jack muttered.
The group fell silent. Teal'c leaned back, smiling. Jack glared at him.
General Hammond looked around the table. "Are you all quite finished?"
Jack bit his lip. He did feel better. He had been avoiding Carter for two weeks, and Carter had been avoiding him. Hammond was sometimes a fair-to-middling psychologist.
Teal'c inclined his head. Daniel nodded, and Jack and Sam said their "Yes, Sir"s to the table.
"It has been two weeks. You need a mission. Major Carter, what is your opinion on P4X250?"
Sam frowned. "Well, sir, the UAV showed what looked like a crashed Goa'uld mother ship. No signs of life, but also no way of knowing how long the ship has been crashed. It could be a mother lode of information, or it could already be stripped."
"Undoubtedly the latter," Teal'c said.
"Yes," Sam said. "But you're not sure."
"Indeed," Teal'c said.
"Colonel O'Neill," Hammond said, "do you feel your team is ready for another mission?"
"Please say yes," Daniel whispered. "You two are driving us nuts."
Jack looked at Daniel. "Yes, dammit..." he said.
"... we are," he continued, then realized he was looking at Daniel from the opposite side of the table. He jerked back and studied his hands. "Holy smoke," he said weakly.
Sam, her eyes wide, was shaking her head. "Sir," she started slowly. She smiled broadly. "Sir, when the Asgard said to wait, they must have meant it literally!" Jack stared at her. "It wasn't an instruction to wait for them, it was an instruction to wait for the process to reverse itself."
Jack grimaced. "And they couldn't have put some sort of modifier on that instruction?"
"I take it," Hammond said, "that everybody is back where they belong?"
"Yes, sir," Jack said. He stretched and lounged in the chair, then winced and looked at his left arm. "It still hurts."
"I got used to it," Carter said.
"I want the two of you to the infirmary – and then you can go on your mission."
Daniel raised his eyes to the ceiling. "Thank you," he said, reverently.
"C'mon, Daniel," Sam said. We haven't been that bad, have we?"
"Yes," Teal'c said. He prompted Jack out of his chair.
Jack sniffed his wrists. "Carter, have you been putting on perfume? And you didn't touch the fingernail polish, did you?"
"Only on your toes, sir." Sam grinned.
The door shut, but Jack's "Oh, man!" could be heard clearly.