Jmas Fan Fiction

TITLE: The Devil to Pay
AUTHOR: PHO and Jmas
EMAIL: phowmo@mindspring.com or jmasg1@bellsouth.net
CATEGORY: Tag with drama, angst, h/c, possible cliffs
SPOILERS: The Devil You Know, Jolinar's Memories
SEASON / SEQUEL:
RATING: Maybe R, in places. Mostly PG.
CONTENT WARNINGS:
SUMMARY: Apophis *really* wants to hurt SG-1
STATUS: Complete
ARCHIVE: Stargate Fan, Heliopolis, Belle, Place of Our Legacy
DISCLAIMER: Characters are property of MGM, etc.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: (Pho): Once again Jmas and I are collaborating on a missing scene/tag. She suggested this one, I jumped at the opportunity to work with her again. And again, we're doing it Round Robin style and each part will be marked with its author. I'd like to thank our beta readers who, bless them, suffer greatly - at least mine does <g> Thanks Mary, for being such a great beta and friend and putting up with me in multiple fandoms
AUTHOR's NOTES:<Jmas>: Echo PHO's thoughts here...(thanks, PHO). Thanks to Brenda....lovely lady, extraordinary beta and friend, I give her way too much work. We're at it again....



Part 1 - by PHO

Teal'c smiled at the rag tag group on the deck in front of him. Martouf knelt on the floor, already occupied with tending the wounds of his companions. The Jaffa locked eyes with Jack O'Neill, sprawled awkwardly on the floor. "We have escaped."

A slow smile embellished the Colonel's face. "Iced tea, air conditioning, ... water."

Teal'c moved gracefully to retrieve a canteen. Jack nodded his gratitude as he pulled it to his face, too bone weary to do more than just enjoy the cool comfort of the flask. Moving past his friends, Teal'c paused in front of the Tok'ra, Aldwin, holding out the device he had purloined earlier.

Guilt-ridden eyes looked back at him. "I'm sorry I doubted you."

Teal'c nodded in a gesture of understanding. "I am as surprised as you that we survived." Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Daniel Jackson, physically exhausted, but otherwise unharmed, except... Teal'c surreptitiously watched the young archaeologist as Martouf tended Jack O'Neill's wounds, and Samantha Carter lovingly cared for her father.

Daniel Jackson had set himself apart from the others, leaning against the outer hull of the Tok'ra ship. He sat directly above Jack O'Neill on a low cabinet that supported Jack's back. But Teal'c was not certain the young man was mentally with his friends. Even a mask of dirt could not hide the ghost-white pallor of his young friend. And the Jaffa did not like the way Daniel Jackson kept rubbing his head, as though he were in great pain.

Moving toward his friend, Teal'c ignored the Carters as they planned a father / daughter trip to Alaska. Inwardly, he laughed, make that a father / daughter / Tok'ra trip to Alaska, though he knew Sel'mac would respect their privacy as much as possible. O'Neill traded barbs with a somewhat outgunned Martouf as Teal'c slipped closer to Daniel.

"Daniel Jackson, are you in pain?" His question brought instant silence to the chamber. All eyes turned toward the young man, and Jack struggled to get to his feet.

"No, no. Jack, don't ... your leg. Stay there. I...I'm fine. Just tired."

"You are rubbing your head, Daniel Jackson. I have noticed in my time with humans, that this is usually indicative of a pain in the head."

"That's headache, Teal'c." O'Neill frowned as he finally, with the aid of Martouf, made it to his feet and turned to face the youngest member of his team. "Danny?"

"It's nothing, Jack." Daniel leaned his head against the inner hull and closed his eyes.

"Daniel." The faint hint of command had replaced the question in the Colonel's voice.

"Jack, it's ..." Daniel stopped, "I guess, I'm just trying to remove a memory."
---------------------------

A solitary eye stared out of a dreadfully scarred face, watching impassively as the night sky came alive with light. Somewhere out there was a Tok'ra ship, temporary home to the *Chu'va*. Even mentally he spat the word. All in all, his plan was on schedule. The fireball that had been his prison had succeeded in annihilating his enemy. Sokar was dead, and his minions now served him, Apophis. A tall, muscular Jaffa approached and bowed low in reverence. "My lord."

"Report, Lo'wn."

"My Lord, a transmission has been intercepted from the Tok'ra ship."

Apophis eyed his First Prime calmly. "Continue."

"My Lord, the Tau'ri successfully transported to the Tok'ra ship."

"You are certain?"

"Yes, my Lord. Teal'c..."

"Do *not* speak his name in my presence."

"Yes, my Lord."

"Continue."

The First Prime bowed low again. "*He* positioned the ship to intercept the transport beam. A risky but successful maneuver, as all of them arrived safely on board. O'Neill, Carter, the Tok'ra - Sel'mac and Martouf,... and Jackson."

Apophis turned to face the window again. "You are certain Daniel Jackson was on the Tok'ra vessel?"

"Yes, my Lord."

A wave of his hand and the newly appointed First Prime melted into the background. A slow smile edged its way across Apophis' face as he fingered an amulet around his neck. Amaunet's amulet. A gift to him before she went into the long sleep that would allow her child ... his future host, to be born alive. He'd worn it in her honor until it had been torn from his neck by Sokar. His smile increased as he recalled its presence when he'd been dying in the Tau'ri's Stargate base. Daniel Jackson had spoken to him of *his* wife, never knowing that the amulet had left her hand for Apophis' own. She'd been so beautiful, so loyal, but yet ... she had not been his alone. Jackson held the love, and loyalty, of Amaunet's host. A frown replaced the smile as the Goa'uld lord recalled the rare occasions when that love, that loyalty, had defeated *his* queen, allowing the host to emerge, if only for a brief moment. To be sure, Amaunet had made certain that the pathetic little creature known as Sha're had suffered greatly for these little lapses. Still, the Goa'uld Pharaoh recalled with displeasure the humiliation of *her* revulsion at his touch.

Now, both his queen, and her host, were dead; murdered by the traitor who'd abandoned his side three years before. And both Jackson and the traitor still lived. As did the obnoxious Jack O'Neill and the beautiful Samantha Carter. Oh, this would not do. Here he was, forced to rebuild his empire, bit by painful bit and SG-1 survived, unharmed as far as he was concerned.

Apophis absently rubbed the scar on his face. The scar that would never leave him. A sarcophagus could work miracles on a newly injured body, but past a certain point, the damage was set into the cellular structure, rendering the sarcophagus useless. He touched the metal plate that concealed the worst of the scarring. Sokar had taken much pleasure in ensuring his enemy's once handsome face was disfigured beyond repair. Apophis truly hoped that Sokar's ship had not disintegrated immediately. The idea of his rival's skin shriveling as the flames from the burning vessel fed upon his body, greatly appealed to the Goa'uld. He could almost hear Sokar's screams as he died.

His hand tapped the metal plate, then his undamaged eye lit up, and his smile returned. Perhaps it was time for a new host. One who knew the secrets of the SGC, and the Tau'ri homeworld. One whom he could torment for eternity with memories of Amaunet, and her pathetic little host. And perhaps, just perhaps, it was also time to claim a new queen.

 

Part 2 - by Jmas

Jack was worried.

Nothing new in that really, it was second nature for Jack to worry. His team was still less than 100% after the near disaster on Netu. Jack was still a little... okay, a lot... stiff from the staff wound he’d received there. Carter had the same dark circles under her eyes that spoke of too little sleep as they all had. They had all been suffering from some rather vivid nightmares in the two-week aftermath of that Sokar’s blood stuff. And just the previous morning, Jack had seen the yellow-green remnants of Daniel bruises from Apophis’ beating... before Daniel had gone off with SG3 to translate some wall scratches that only he could make sense of. Jack had argued the decision to send Daniel off without them so soon, but Daniel himself had explained that he was the only one who *could* go with SG3... a fact even Jack couldn’t successfully counter. Jack still wasn’t comfortable letting his team be separated this soon.

Jack still couldn’t get over how Daniel had come through for them. How he had set himself up for a beating to secure the communication device that saved their asses with less than a minute to spare. It had taken Jack a couple of days to get the story out of Daniel. A story his friend had told in his usual hesitant, self-deprecating tone...the same tone that told Jack there was a lot more to the story than the bare facts Daniel had so reluctantly chosen to reveal. But there had been an edge to Daniel’s eyes and voice that Jack wasn’t comfortable with. Seeing Apophis again, especially Sokar’s new, improved version ... had provided more than enough nightmare fodder on looks alone. Jack was just glad Apophis was dead…again. He had to be. That particular Goa’uld had taken more than enough from his team; at least he wouldn’t be taking anything more.

This gathering at his house had been intended as a release, a kind of reaffirmation that they were still alive and together. As Carter cued up her video pick, some old Bogart thing, Jack realized that it wasn’t the same without Daniel. They all had their particular roles to fill, even off-duty. Teal’c would ask his questions, Carter would try to explain things, Jack would complain and Daniel sort of bridged the gap for all of them. He explained things in a way Carter couldn’t, he gave Carter a chance to express that emotional side she couldn’t seem to manage with Jack and Teal’c. And Jack admitted, at least to himself, that Daniel could pull him out of his own bad moods and understood the feelings beneath the complaints. In any event, Daniel’s absence was definitely felt. Three years of pulling each other out of hell…of the literal, figurative and often highly personal varieties had brought them closer than most families could ever hope to be.

Jack knew Makepeace would do his best to look after Daniel. The only thing Jack ever really disliked about the guy was his capital-M Marine mentality; and Jack knew most of that was habit, Marines just sort of came out that way. Personally, Jack found a lot to like about Makepeace, he liked the man’s dry sense of humor and the expansive heart he knew resided somewhere underneath those olive fatigues. Makepeace would keep Daniel from working himself into a distracted exhaustion. After the little chat they’d had before embarking, Makepeace had better.

Jack knew that Daniel wasn’t back to a hundred percent yet either. The kid was doing a great job of hiding the stress he was under, but Jack knew it was there. He just wasn’t sure exactly what to do about it.

Yet.
………………………..

Daniel rubbed his eyes, trying to force his bleary vision to focus on the wall he’d been deciphering for the past six hours. This place was a treasure-trove. The three big pyramids they’d found here were a life’s work for a team of archaeologists. Daniel sighed as he realized that it wouldn’t be his. SG1 was a field team, as Jack so often reminded him, and most of the time Daniel was glad of it. But at times like this …

Daniel missed the days when all he had was time. Time to savor the mysteries; to touch them, to feel them, to let his imagination take him to long ago places and all the secrets they held.

Daniel sighed again, letting the frustration flow away from him. It wasn’t his nature to waste time on impossible wishes. He was a part of SG1 now, a role and position he’d finally come to accept as a place he wanted to be, even if his reason for being there had altered. Now more than ever it was a place he treasured and he had no desire to change.

The long process of grieving for Sha’re had barely begun. Some days, some hours, were easier than others, but always there was the empty ache. A hole in his life, his entire being, which Sha’re wasn’t there to fill anymore….Daniel wasn’t sure if he ever wanted it to be. Daniel’s thoughts were interrupted by a noise behind him.

‘Probably Makepeace,’ he thought with a slight smile. . He must be taking hovering lessons from Jack…

Daniel wasn’t entirely sure what Jack had threatened Makepeace with, but didn’t doubt that it probably involved body parts and critical damage. Daniel smiled at the vivid image of Jack and Makepeace arguing over the care and feeding of archaeologists, just before a flash of brilliant color plunged his world into darkness.
…………………………

Colonel Robert Makepeace swore, loudly and with an impressive vocabulary. His team had scoured the corridors of the pyramid where he’d left SG1’s Dr. Jackson. O’Neill had warned him about the scientist’s habit of wandering blindly where angels, and even Marines, would fear to tread …or at least think twice about. Makepeace had laughed it off with a promise to baby-sit the civilian with both eyes open. He’d only been gone for a few minutes. The kid wouldn’t quit for dinner, so Makepeace had gone out to bring something back for him.

Now he was gone.

This place was a maze of twisting corridors that burrowed through the pyramid like some sort of gigantic ant farm. But they had been thorough in their search and found nothing. Not so much as a footprint. Makepeace had no choice left but to go back and report, bring back a search party. He swore to himself that if Jackson turned up with his face glued to some wall, he would personally nail his hide to the Stargate.

Makepeace thought with a wedge of concern that if he had to go back and face the wrath of Colonel Jack O’Neill, the errant archaeologist had better be in big trouble.

Part 3 - by PHO

Humphrey Bogart was annoying the hell out of Jack O'Neill. 'African Queen' he could've handled, but 'Casablanca'? GAD! What kind of idiot would let a woman like Ingrid Bergman disappear into the night, probably forever? The thought 'you let Sara go' raced unbidden and unwelcome through his mind. 'Don't go there, O'Neill!' At least Carter was having a good time. And Teal'c, well, it was kinda hard to tell, but the Jaffa appeared to also be taking an interest in the movie. Although, Jack suspected, he'd probably enjoy it more if the Major would stop 'explaining' things. The ringing phone pulled him out of his thoughts and he grabbed at the opportunity to escape the movie by rushing to his kitchen to answer it.
-----------------

"I do not understand, Major Carter. Why must the woman leave? And the flying machine she leaves in, it does not appear to be safe."

Sam struggled to control her laughter. "Well, Teal'c that particular plane was state of the art back then, safe or not. As to her ... Colonel?"

Jack O'Neill clicked off the VCR and the television set with brutal force. "We're wanted back at the base. ... Now."

Sam and Teal'c rose quickly, concerned by the Colonel's mood. "Sir, what's happened?"

"*He* lost him. The son-of-a-bitch, God dammit, *lost* him."

Sam exchanged a confused look with Teal'c. "Sir, I, uh..."

"Daniel, Carter, Daniel. The ... the *Marines* couldn't keep up with one damn *civilian* archaeologist.

*Shit!*"
----------------------

'What the he... My head really *hurts*. What was that light?' The thoughts fell through Daniel's subconscious as he forced his eyes open. A pair of grayish-green eyes, too close together for the broad face they were in, stared down at him. "Hello, Dr. Daniel Jackson."

Long eyelashes blinked rapidly over blue eyes, as Daniel tried to think of something intelligent to say.

He settled for a confused, "Hello. What happened?"

Thick red lips parted in uproarious laughter, obviously finding the simple wording amusing.

"Wonderful. I admire your sense of humor, Dr. Jackson."

Not really seeing anything funny in his greeting, Daniel commented. "If you wouldn't mind sharing the joke?"

"Oh, it just strikes me as amusing that your first question is 'what happened' not 'where am I'."

"Would it make it less amusing if I said that was going to be my second question?"

The laughter only deepened. "Nope, actually, it was a bit of luck on my part that we're even meeting."

"Oh, good. Who *are* you?"

"Cantor Boch."

"Any relation to..."

"Aris Boch? Oh yeah, Dr. Jackson. Second cousin, once removed."

"Oh. Is he..."

"Alive? Yeah, I suppose so. Don't hear much about him since he screwed Sokar. Course with Sokar dead, he's pretty much in the clear."

"That's good. He's a good man at heart."

Cantor grinned broadly. "Yeah, generosity's always been one of his failings. You won't find it here." The grin turned from friendly to predatory in a matter of seconds.

Daniel gulped and for the first time noticed that he was on a bed, surrounded by metal walls. "Uh, where are we?"

"Well, I might as well answer your questions. *I* stunned you, and you're on *my* ship."

"Uh, Why? Where are we going?" Daniel's heart was doing somersaults in his chest as he spoke.

"Well, *my* destination is none of your business, and yours is out of your hands. As to why, well someone out there is willing to pay big bucks, I believe I have the idiom correct, for *you*."

Daniel gulped. "Special. Who?"

"Don't know, don't care. Now, relax, and enjoy the trip." Cantor patted Daniel's cheek roughly and left the room, locking it securely behind him.
-----------------------

Jack had fumed all the way back to the SGC. Sam and Teal'c had tightened their seat belts, and gripped the handholds in the jeep with renewed fervor as the irate Colonel *drove* up the mountain.

Upon their arrival at the SGC, O'Neill's orders had been succinct. "Carter, Teal'c, find out what the search parties know." He left them standing concerned, as he marched off towards, Carter feared, General Hammond's office.

The knock on the door had not quite been answered when Jack stormed into General Hammond's office. The irate Air Force Colonel failed to acknowledge the General's presence as he forced the unfortunate Marine Colonel backward into a wall. "You sorry son-of-a-bitch. You *lost* him? How can you *lose* a 160 lb, 6 foot tall geek?"

Hammond decided to ignore the breach of protocol and simply watch the situation. Aware of O'Neill's overprotective tendencies toward the young scientist, the General knew that O'Neill would need to blow off steam, and he'd rather that happen here, in an environment where he had, he hoped, some modicum of control.

Makepeace pushed a single finger into Jack's chest. "I know where I left him, and he wasn't there when I got back."

"You left him *alone*? After our little chat about wandering archaeologists, you left him *alone*, unsupervised, *unprotected*."

"We'd already determined the area was secure. No sign of habitation, per Dr. Jackson, for at least two thousand years."

"Don't you research *anything*? Pyramids have booby-traps, hidden doorways, thin..."

"That Dr. Jackson is well aware of. He *is* the one with the degrees."

Jack slammed the man back into the wall. "*You* were supposed to be taking care of him."

"We *were* taking care of him."

"Then what the *hell* were you doing leaving him, God dammit, alone?" Jack's voice revealed all the fury he felt.

"I WAS GETTING HIM HIS GOD DAMN DINNER!" Makepeace roared back.

The wind was suddenly sucked from Jack's sails. "D..Dinner?"

"YES! Your precious little geek wouldn't leave his rocks..."

"Artifacts." Jack replied, functioning now on auto-pilot.

"WHATEVER, long enough to come eat, so I went to get him food. When I got back, he was *gone*.

Missing, without a trace, not even a footprint in the sand. ... I'm really sorry, Jack."

Jack rubbed nervous hands through his short hair, then sighed heavily. "No, I'm sorry, Robert. I should have known you wouldn't be careless."

"If you gentlemen are quite finished?" Hammond was struggling to keep his own annoyance in check.

Two wide-eyed Colonels suddenly remembered the presence of the ranking officer, in his own office. Turning to face him, both men came to attention. Twin voices responded. "Yes, sir. Quite, sir. Sorry, sir."

Hammond glared at the two men. "Gentlemen, and I use that term loosely, do *not* ever, for *any* reason, repeat this performance. And be grateful that *I* was the only witness. Have I made myself clear?"

Two voices again spoke as one. "YES, SIR!"

"Fine. Then you will *forget* about this little episode, and continue with your search for Dr. Jackson. But bear this in mind, Colonels, I will *not* forget this scene. Do not give me a reason to take disciplinary action. Dismissed."

 

Part 4 - by Jmas

Sam Carter was almost as worried about the colonel as she was about Daniel. The colonel had been barking orders from the moment his mouth had cleared the event horizon and promptly got on everyone’s nerves. The situation was tense enough and under normal circumstances Colonel O’Neill knew that the kind of yelling he was doing was generally counter-productive. Everyone understood that it was a very vocal by-product of the colonel. s deep concern, but that understanding quickly began to wear thin as the colonel stormed from team to team demanding any and all information.
It had finally been Colonel Makepeace, surprisingly enough, who had taken Colonel O’Neill off for a little talk. Sam would have given anything to know what had been said between the two officers, but mostly she was just glad that it seemed to have worked…at least for now.

They had combed the winding corridors and maze-like tunnels of the central pyramid for hours. No stone, rock or artifact had escaped scrutiny. Ground teams had been covering the area in ever-widening circles and two UAVs had been launched to perform aerial reconnaissance. Over fifty people from support staff to medical staff to ranking officers had been turned out in response to General Hammond’s call for volunteers.

Sam thought to herself with a stinging smile that Daniel would be more than a little shocked to see how many of his *military* coworkers were concerned for his safety. Anthropology was more Daniel’s forte than hers, but Sam knew enough to understand that SGC was a classic closed-society; given its top-secret nature, it had to be. Nearly three years of service, facing everything they had as a command, had earned Daniel a valued place in that society. Sam knew that the SGC was responding just like SG1 to a certain degree…one of their own was threatened and nothing would stop them from getting him back.

But, so far, nothing had been found. Sam was growing more and more certain that this was *not* simply a case of missing archaeologist…. Daniel had been taken. The question was by whom?

A shout from the UAV techs brought them all running. They’d found something.

 

Jack couldn’t stop the feeling of cold dread that washed over him as he stared down at the imprints in the blowing sand. He knew, even before Teal’c confirmed it, exactly what they were imprints of. A Teltac. One of those Goa’uld cargo vessels. Just like the one that Aris Boch had used. Just like the one they’d flown to Netu and back. Someone, invariably connected to the Goa’uld, had taken Daniel.
Jack wandered around the circumference of the landing gear. s rapidly disappearing tracks, his thoughts in a jumble. He was starting to get a familiar feeling in his gut, a feeling that always made his insides twist when one of his kids was in trouble. The severity of the current feeling told him that Daniel wasn’t just in the usual variety of trouble ... he was in a shitload of trouble, up to his neck and sinking faster with every minute that passed.

Jack was just about to turn and rejoin Teal’c and Carter when he spotted something, nearly buried by the drifting sand.

It was Daniel’s hat. That well-worn, floppy-brimmed hat-on-a-string that Daniel refused to replace. Jack felt his heart tug at the memory of his always... well, nearly always... logical friend digging in his heels when Jack had outright demanded a few months ago that Daniel replace the ragged headwear with a new one. For whatever reason, something in Daniel’s voice had caused Jack to back down on that particular demand.

Jack held the hat tightly in his hand for a moment, trying to keep his imagination from running wild with theories of how the hat had become separated from its owner... finally realizing that Carter, Teal’c and Makepeace were treating him to some pretty worried looks. Jack clamped down on his raging emotions. Traipsing back to the Stargate with Teal’c, Carter and Makepeace in tow, Jack found himself focusing on one task and one task only ... if he had to call in every marker the SGC had accumulated across the galaxy ... they were going to find Daniel.

Whoever had done this had gone to a lot of trouble to track Daniel down, watch and wait to catch the kid alone, then grab him out from under Makepeace’s nose. For all his bluster in Hammond’s office, Jack knew that Makepeace had done all he could. Even if Jack had been there himself, it would have happened. Which didn’t go very far to making Jack feel any better. When had they become so vulnerable? And who in the hell wanted Daniel so badly that they’d go to this much trouble?

'Make a list, O'Neill...'

 

Apophis turned away from the communication console, allowing his anger free rein for one flashing moment before he reined it in tightly and regained control.

"Lo’wn!"

The Jaffa entered quickly, bowing before Apophis. "Yes, my Lord?"

"The bounty hunter has betrayed me. He seems to think he can name his own price for Daniel Jackson. "

"My Lord?"

Apophis tried to remain patient with his new First Prime, but it was difficult. A year on Netu had taught him much about patience, but to have Daniel Jackson so close to his grasp and be thwarted by this upstart slave of a bounty hunter...

"Boch intends to auction Daniel Jackson to the highest bidder. It is not my desire to let the System Lords learn of my new status just yet. You will have to go in my place." Apophis stepped closer to Lo’wn, speaking slowly as if to a child ... but with an edge of rage that was in no way fatherly. "Do whatever it requires, but bring me Daniel Jackson."
…………………………………….

Part 5 - by PHO

WHAM! The metal plate hit the door with what should have been a satisfying clang, but somehow all it was, was noisy. Not to mention messy.

Daniel stared dejectedly at what passed for food on Boch's ship as it rolled its way down the door.

Maybe, just maybe he should have eaten some of that. A high-pitched squeaking noise attracted his attention, and he watched, with something akin to awe, as a little mechanical creature appeared from a small, almost invisible, door in the wall. Less than twelve inches high, it reminded Daniel of a *very* large mouse. Small metal antennae wiggled and twirled on its 'head' as the device aimed for the mess he'd made. Amazed, he watched as it carefully cleaned up every last morsel of his dinner, used a little hook inside it's chest to lift the plate to balance on its *head*, then turned and whirred its way back into the wall. The only thing it hadn't done was belch. As the little door snapped shut, Daniel groaned and threw himself down onto the bed. "Damn it, Daniel. You've got to do *something*. If Sam were here, she'd probably catch the mouse, rearrange its circuits, overload the door, and steal the ship." However silly that thought, Daniel could think of nothing else to do but wait to be rescued. The thought of not being found, and soon, was too horrible to contemplate.
…………………………

Forty-eight hours. It had been forty-eight hours since Daniel's hat had turned up, battered and covered with sand. It was now cleaner than it had been since Daniel had acquired it. God. When *had* that been? Jack couldn't remember. He stared at the misshapen green rim sitting in the center of the briefing room table. Suddenly, all the rage he'd felt since they'd found the ship's imprints in the sand surfaced, and he slammed both fists hard onto the tabletop.

"Colonel?" Sam's voice trembled with emotion as she stopped in the doorway.

Jack just looked at her, dark shadows under his eyes telling of too little sleep of late. "Two thousand eight hundred eighty."

"Sir?"

He rose tiredly from his chair. "Number of minutes in forty-eight hours. God, Sam, he could be dead by now ... or a slave, or a Jaffa."

Sam noticed he avoided the thing he feared the most ... that Daniel's brilliant mind and gentle heart were now imprisoned by a Goa'uld ... that he was now a host. "The Tok'ra apparently have news. Representatives will...," the Klaxons went off, alerting the base to off-world travelers, "...are apparently here now."

"Sweet. After you, Major."
…………………………………………

Twenty minutes later, an unusual group of people found themselves gathered around the conference table. Robert Makepeace sat next to Jack, keeping a concerned eye on his Air Force counterpart. Teal'c was on Jack's left. Sam and Janet Fraiser sat across from the men. Jacob Carter AKA Selmac sat next to his daughter; Martouf had chosen the seat next to him. Hammond arrived moments later, apologizing for his delay. "The President wanted an update. Jacob, Martouf, I'm sorry we have to meet again like this. What have you got for us? Is Doctor Jackson alive?"

Jacob Carter smiled sadly. "Yes, but for how long, we cannot be certain."

Jack's eyes widened as he realized the implications of the Tok'ra's words. "You know where he is."

Martouf spoke up. "No, but we know where he is being taken."

"Why do we always have to pull the information out of you people?" Jack's frustrated cry brought a frown of disapproval from General Hammond.

"Colonel O'Neill..."

Jacob interrupted. "George, it's okay. Colonel O'Neill has reason to be concerned. Daniel Jackson is in a great deal of trouble."

"What have you learned, Jacob?"

The older man nodded for Martouf to take the lead. "Our sources say that he is being taken, by ship, to Torvahn. There is no gate there. The planet is in a sort of System Lords neutral zone. It's really more like a large moon, no atmosphere, totally uninhabitable except for the dome."

Sam frowned. "Jolinar's memories lead me to believe that this is *not* a good place."

Martouf sighed. "You are correct. I regret to inform you of this, but Daniel Jackson is to be auctioned off to the highest bidder."

"He's to be *sold*, like an animal?" Makepeace was horrified.

"Yes." Martouf looked grim. "And his ultimate fate will depend on which System Lord buys him. Our sources say there are three main players."

Jack stared blankly at the Tok'ra. "Well, Martouf, don't just sit there, tell us the really bad news."

The younger Tok'ra looked surprised. "I do not understand what you mean."

"Don't play games, Martouf. I'm guessing they all want him for different reasons. So what do they want?"

"I see. Seb, the son of Ra, wishes him to execute him, by slow torture. Ushas wishes him to serve her as her new First Prime, and Thanatos, wishes to keep him human, but as a, uh, ..." The Tok'ra's voice broke off.

"As a what?" The tightlipped fury in Jack's voice told the room that someone would pay dearly for Daniel Jackson's pain.

"Daniel Jackson is a handsome young man."

"*Go on.*"

Martouf grimaced. "Thanatos usually prefers his males to be very young, actually little more than children, so that he can train them properly."

"Train them?" Sam asked, slightly confused, before her tired mind kicked in and filled in the blanks. "Oh, God."

The young Tok'ra nodded sadly. "It is my understanding that he looks forward to 'training' Daniel Jackson."

The growl of "Over my dead body" from Makepeace took everyone, including Jack, by surprise. All eyes turned to the Marine. Glaring furiously at the rest of the table. "We've got to..."

Jacob Carter smiled grimly. "What, Colonel? What would you suggest we do? Send a team to Torvahn to kick ass and break him out?"

"SG-1 did that for *you*."

"Granted, but Netu was a prison planet. Torvahn is not. The public auctions held there attract multiple System Lords, and their entourages, for the regular auctions. *This* event promises to draw many more, even if they do not choose to bid on Dr. Jackson."

Hammond interrupted quickly before Makepeace could say anything more. "What do the Tok'ra suggest?"

Martouf looked uncomfortable. "We have nothing to offer you at this time. I *am* sorry. Our agents are still looking for answers."

Jack O'Neill looked intently at the Tok'ra across the table. "So, for now, we do nothing."

"I'm afraid so."

Only Jack heard the now subdued Marine mutter. "You don't understand. I've got to *do* something. They *took* him on *my* watch."

 

Part 6 - by Jmas

Makepeace was waiting for Jack at the door to his office. Jack was already fuming at Hammond’s refusal to do anything more until the Tok’ra could come up with more information for them... a decision that had not set well with Jack, his team or Makepeace. Jack felt a similar anger stewing in his Marine counterpart and waved his hand to invite the man inside. Once inside Makepeace took a seat at Jack’s desk, draping his weary frame across the back of the chair. Jack reached into his lower desk drawer and pulled out a bottle of very fine Kentucky whiskey and poured them both a healthy shot. Jack saluted the other colonel with his glass, offering in the gesture a mute apology and gratitude for the man’s steady support. Jack was well aware of how close he had come to losing it... on the planet *and* in the meeting they had both just stormed away from.

Makepeace accepted the gesture with a caustic comment on command decisions. "I guess the old man *thinks* he’s doing the right thing on this... "

Jack nodded, catching a note in Makepeace’s voice that he couldn’t *quite* identify.
Makepeace scrubbed his tired face with one hand and Jack realized the guy hadn’t had any more sleep than he had since Daniel had disappeared. "Robert, why don’t you go hit the sack. Maybe the Tok’ra can come up with something by morning.

Makepeace looked up with a scowl on his face. "You gonna sit around and wait for *them*, O’Neill? God knows what’s happening to the kid out there... "

Makepeace shot to his feet, upsetting the chair as he started pacing the small office. Jack knew it wasn’t just that Makepeace felt responsible for losing Daniel... Makepeace was genuinely worried about Daniel.

"Hey, Robert... take it easy. I want to go after him as much as you do... "

Makepeace turned quickly. "Then why don’t we? We know where he is now... or at least where he *will* be."

Jack shook his head in frustration. "Yeah... At a System Lord Convention on an airless planet."

Makepeace shook his head. "C’mon, Jack... you gonna let little details hold you back? The longer we sit here with our thumbs up our asses, the further away our chances of catching up to Daniel get. There’s got to be somebody out there that owes you a favor...Somebody with a ship that could get us to Torvahn... .?"

Jack felt a surge of wild hope, not missing Makepeace’s *us*, then shaking his head. "Robert... You know how much I want to go after Daniel, but this... Hammond’ll bust us both back down to privates."

Makepeace grinned, his eyes deadly serious. "It’ll be worth it if we can get him back."

Jack put his head in his hands, trying to think beyond the images that Jake and Martouf’s words had placed there. Jack knew how much he owed Daniel... more than Daniel would ever realize. There wasn’t much that Jack *wouldn’t* do for his best friend and teammate. He *owed* Daniel...

"Are you *sure*, Robert?"

Makepeace took a deep breath, his eyes turning inward for a long moment before looking up. "I’m sure, Jack. Are you?"

Jack didn’t want to think anymore. "Let’s go get Teal’c and Carter."
………………..

Daniel realized what the shuddering whine the Teltac was making had to mean... they were landing.

Daniel could hear Cantor Boch moving around outside the cell and braced himself for his captor. s return. Daniel had done a lot of thinking on the long flight. Whatever Boch had in mind, he was *not* going to get much cooperation from Daniel. Daniel had been fighting down a deep anger for the past few hours... he was really getting sick and tired of playing the universal victim in these little encounters. He didn’t know exactly what he was going to do, but he’d made up his mind that he *had* to take any opportunity that presented itself.

Jack didn’t have any way of knowing where he was... he couldn’t count on rescue from the SGC or the Tok’ra. He knew Jack would move heaven and Earth, and probably a few other planets, to find him, but Daniel realized that he couldn’t bet his life on the distant hope that Jack would find him. There was also the larger concern in his mind that somehow this mysterious someone with the big bucks might know that Daniel could lead them to the Harseisis child... not to mention that Daniel knew many of Earth’s weaknesses. There was just too much at stake for Daniel to risk himself falling into the wrong hands.

Boch opened the door at last, smiling coldly. "Well, Dr. Jackson, plot your escape yet?"

Daniel remained silent, trying to hold his anger in place as a shield against the fear that Boch’s blithe attitude instilled. The man seemed so heartless, could he really be so different from his cousin?

Boch smiled again. "You might as well know... I’ve decided to go freelance on this one. My sources tell me you’re worth a lot more than the original contract would have paid."

Daniel looked at Boch, wondering where this was leading.

"There’s a *lot* of demand for the famous Dr. Daniel Jackson of Earth. The System Lords are eager to get their hands on you... in more ways than one it seems." Daniel felt his blood chill at Boch’s leering grin... .he knew that Boch meant that last statement exactly the way it sounded. "You’re a popular guy, Doc. You making a career out of pissing off the Goa’uld?"

Daniel let his anger get the better of him for a moment. "Well, everybody needs an ambition... "

Boch laughed genuinely. "You’re all right, kid. Too bad I really have to score big... and soon... I’d be tempted to keep you around for awhile."

Daniel latched on to that small piece of information. "Score? Roshna?"

Boch seemed surprised that Daniel knew about the drug that Sokar had addicted his people to for centuries, ensuring their loyalty through genetic dependency on his drug. "Sounds like cuz has a big mouth, but yeah... Kinda like Aris, I’m an independent contractor... since Sokar. s dead we all are. Without a steady supply, we die. Simple math... I can keep my people going for a long time with what I get for you."

Daniel felt a small glimmer of hope at the bounty hunter. s words. If Boch cared about his people, perhaps... .

"Don’t go there, Doc, " Boch warned. "We’re what’s left of a *race* Sokar nearly destroyed. We help each other stay alive, simple fact. But There’s not a one of us who wouldn’t trade his mother for the next dose of Roshna... never forget that."

Daniel swore to himself that he *wouldn’t* forget that. The information might prove useful later on. "So where are we now?"

"Little Goa’uld hangout called Torvahn. You are the featured attraction at tomorrow night’s System Lord auction."

Daniel couldn’t believe his ears. "Auction? As in highest bidder... ?"

"Takes home the Tau’ri pain in the neck, " Boch nodded. "Yep, that’s how it goes."

"You can’t just... " Daniel started forward, outraged at what he was hearing. Boch swung a fist into his stomach, sending Daniel to his knees.

Boch’s cold voice penetrated the painful fog of Daniel’s brain. "I *can* and I will, Doc. You’re property now. Better start getting used to it."

Something soft landed on Daniel’s arm as he fought his way past the pain.

"Put that stuff on and get some sleep, Doc." Boch’s voice sounded a little less cold. "Tomorrow’s going to be a busy... and hopefully quite profitable... day."
……………………….

Sam wasn’t happy about pumping her father for information. She was pretty sure that Jake Carter had figured out a long time ago how to tell when his daughter was being less than truthful. Sam flashed on a long ago memory of being caught coming in late from a supposed study date; she’d been grounded for a month, not for being late, but for lying to her father. Even at her age, it was still a difficult thing not to be totally open with her father.

She finally realized that Jacob knew. He knew the purpose behind her seemingly unrelated... and not too subtle... questions. He seemed to make a decision, providing more information than what she’d asked... anticipating her needs. Within an hour, she knew where they needed to go for help to find Daniel.

Sam looked at her father for a long time before leaving him. Jacob looked deeply into her eyes before opening his arms, inviting her into his embrace. Sam leaned against him, trying to express so much without using words that might implicate him later in what they had planned.

She kissed his cheek, slowly detaching herself from the comforting presence. "Thanks, Dad," she whispered.

Jacob’s arms tightened briefly before finally letting her go and meeting her glance with tear-filled eyes. "Just be careful, Sam."

Sam felt the moisture in her own eyes as she nodded. "Hey, I learned from the best."

As Sam walked back to Colonel O’Neill’s office her heart lightened... She knew where they needed to go now. She knew where they could find Aris Boch.

 

Part 7 - by PHO

Daniel struggled to focus on the material draped over his arm. Ignoring Boch's presence, he gingerly rose to his feet, clutching the new clothing. It appeared to be some sort of silk, intricately woven, soft and sensual to the touch. Shirt, pants. Okay, he could go with that. But the sash? What the hell? Blood red and long ... very, very long. Confusion played over his features bringing a loud snort to Boch's lips.

"It goes around your waist, Doctor."

"I knew that." He tossed the clothing to the floor. "But if it's all the same to you, I'll just keep my uniform, thank you very much."

"Ah, but it isn't 'all the same to me'." Boch smiled as he pointed a zat gun at the young man. "I'm sure you know what this does."

Daniel nodded grimly. "You won't kill me."

"No, but I will give you enough of a charge to incapacitate you. Then of course I'll strip you and dress you." Boch ran his eyes up and down the young man, whose features reddened with embarrassment. "Don't normally go in for *that* sort of thing, but ..."

The young man stared unblinking at his feet. "I..I'll wear your clothing."

Cantor Boch smiled a predatory grin. "I thought you'd see it my way." Turning, he pressed the keypad fastened securely to his wrist, and stepped quickly through the opening door. A quick wave over his shoulder was all Daniel saw as the metal plates snapped shut once more.
………………..

"Any action out there?" The voice from the doorway startled the young Airman on duty in the control room.

Whirling, he smiled nervously and started to salute the pretty SG-1 Major.

Sam waved off his salute. "Any word?"

"No, Ma'am. We've been receiving reports, every hour on the hour, but so far they've been status quo."

"I see." Sam moved to stare at the gate. "Impressive, isn't it."

"Yes, Ma'am, it is."

"Johnson, isn't it?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Like pulling the third shift?"

"Ma'am!" He put all the indignation he dared into the almost protest, never noticing Sam entering commands into the Stargate computer.

She smiled and turned to face the young man. "I see. Coffee fresh?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

Nodding Sam walked to the coffeemaker and poured a cup, then started back to the controls. The young Airman was staring in confusion at his display. "Something wrong?"

"Ma'am, I'm really glad you came in. This display's gone all ... all loppy-jawed."

Sam moved quickly to his side. "Is that a technical term, Airman?"

"No, Ma'am, I just don't... It's stopped." He looked in disbelief at the monitor.

"Well, whatever was wrong is fine now. Leave a message for first shift to run a full sequence diagnostic." Turning to leave, Sam lost her balance and stumbled into the startled man, her cup of coffee pouring down his pants.

Yelping, he jumped backwards and began grabbing for napkins to mop up the mess.

"Holy Hannah! I am so sorry, Johnson."

"It's all right, Ma'am. Accidents happen."

"Johnson, I'll watch the control room. You go change your pants."

"Ma'am."

"It's okay, Airman, I *do* know what to look for." Sam smiled as she spoke.

"Yes, Ma'am." The young man took advantage of the Major's generosity and quickly left the room. Sam watched him leave, then sadly shook her head, doing mental somersaults as she tried to justify her duplicity. She moved her hand to start the dialing sequence, when the Klaxons began their warning sequence. "What the..."

"Carter?" Jack's voice came through her ear phone loud and clear. "You should already *be* down here."

"Sir, I didn't dial. We've got incoming."

Cursing under his breath, Jack motioned for his *team* to abort.
………………….

Jacob Carter breathed a sigh of relief as he entered the briefing room and spotted his only daughter already at the table. O'Neill sat across from her looking glum, Teal'c was next to him looking ... unreadable, as usual. The Tok'ra sitting next to Colonel Makepeace was well known to Jacob's symbiont, but was unknown as yet to the SG teams. General Hammond nodded a greeting as Jacob and Martouf took the remaining empty seats at the table. "Gentlemen. I apologize for the late hour, but fortunately," Hammond eyed the SG-1 team members suspiciously as he spoke, "SG-1 and Colonel Makepeace were already present. I believe you know Vardon?"

Selmac moved into control of Jacob. "Indeed. Old friend, it is good to see you alive."

Vardon nodded. "Likewise, Selmac, but I bring news of an adequate nature."

Jacob / Selmac's eyes widened. "Indeed. What?"

"Daniel Jackson has arrived on Torvahn. He is as yet unharmed."

"Then we're too late." Jack's voice was downcast as he spoke.

"No. Apparently there is a late entrant into the bidding who cannot arrive for a few days. The auction has been postponed. We have time to get there."

"And exactly how will we do that, Vardon? I don't think a Tok'ra ship will exactly be welcome on Torvahn."

A slight smile softened Vardon's harsh features. "No, but Aris Boch should have no problem getting a team in place."

Hammond templed his fingers. "Aris Boch? SG-1 has experience with the man, don't you?" His question was addressed to Jack.

Not daring to meet his teammates' eyes, Jack muttered softly. "Yes, sir, General. We've had an 'encounter' with Mr. Boch."
……………………………….

Aris Boch eyed the text before him with something akin to dismay mixed with exhilaration. He *loved* a challenge, but ... Torvahn? Ugh! But then again with Sok'ar dead, maybe it wouldn't be a problem, and the opportunity for profit was great. He closely studied the terms of the agreement proposed by the Tok'ra. Generous, very generous, but then they were seeking the return of Daniel Jackson. Aris shook his head at the thought, then grinned. There were other *good* things to be said of this new venture ... Samantha Carter being one of them. True, he'd have to deal with O'Neill and that Jaffa again, but the pretty blond might just be worth it. *Might.*

Checking the wording one last time, he fixed his seal on the document, then opened a channel and idly watched as the holographic image sped its way back to the Tok'ra.
…………………………..

The mood in the Gate room was subdued. The three remaining members of SG-1, plus one stubborn Marine, were watching as the Chevrons began to engage. George Hammond stared at the group, wondering once more just *how* he'd been talked into this. He should have sent SG-11. The diplomatic unit would have been more than capable of handling the negot... But it wasn't negotiations, was it? *His* people were going in, undercover, as buyers. The thought made him shudder. They were going to attempt to *buy* Dr. Jackson. No, they were going to succeed in buying Dr. Jackson.

The voice announcing that the third Chevron had engaged attracted his attention. It was now or never.

"Colonels, a word."

O'Neill and Makepeace moved hastily toward the General. "Sir?"

Hammond studied the gate for a moment, as the fourth Chevron began to glow. "Colonels, two things. First of all good luck with your assignment." He held up a hand to forestall their thanks. "Secondly, if you *ever* try a stunt like you did the night before last, I will personally see to it that you are reduced to cleaning latrines for the remainder of your military careers."

The stunned expressions on the two Colonels' faces confirmed for Hammond what he'd really only suspected, but years of command allowed him to conceal that reaction. The two men recovered, responding with a brisk, "Yes, sir! Thank you, sir!"

"Chevron seven engaged!" The loudspeaker pulled the two Colonels back to where Teal'c and Sam stood waiting, as the flux from the Star Gate energy field rushed down the ramp, then retreated.
Jack took one last look at the General, then motioned to his people. "Let's go, kids."

Makepeace favored him with a frown, then led the way up the ramp. A startled Carter gave a sideways glance at O'Neill before falling in step behind the Marine. Teal'c followed closely on their heels. O'Neill never looked back as he pushed his way into the energy flow. As the Star Gate shut down, Hammond said a silent prayer. "God speed, my friends."
…………………………

He'd never been so scared. Well, that wasn't quite true. But *this* rated right up there, along with his first night in the orphanage, and losing Sha're. Cantor Boch had delivered him to the *people*, he used that term loosely, who ran the auction. Daniel supposed he could count his blessings that he'd been considered *valuable* enough to be kept separate from the other slaves. And the once-overs. God! The only thing they hadn't done was count his teeth. Shit!

Oh God! Footsteps. Marching footsteps. It was time. Oh God! Daniel stood quickly, determined to maintain his dignity for as long as possible. A shaking hand straightened the sash that wrapped around his waist. He *really* didn't care for this outfit. As far as he was concerned, he looked like Zorro, sans sword and mask. The black pants were tight at the ankles and waist, but loose and flowing in between. The slit along the outer legs from ankle to waistband annoyed the heck out of him, but there wasn't anything he could do about it. And the shirt. Shit! The sleeves tightened almost uncomfortably around his wrists, then turned into something akin to sails as they approached his shoulders. And there were no buttons. The front of the shirt opened in a V-shape that only stayed together at the bottom because of the sash. And *that* had gone around his waist three times before it was short enough not to trip him as he walked. He just wished they'd let him keep his shoes. The floor was really cold on his bare feet.

He thought it odd that those in charge had chosen to keep Cantor Boch's choice of clothing for him. But he wasn't arguing. He'd expected some sort of short, revealing tunic. Shuddering at the thought, he turned to face the door. The metal plate slid smoothly open and four, count them, four very large guards entered the room. Guess they considered him dangerous. Ha! Jack would get a laugh out of that. Restraints were quickly placed on his wrists and ankles, and just as quickly he was urged from the room. Oh God! Jack, help?

 

Part 8 - by Jmas

Jack felt his skin crawl as he realized exactly how many System Lords surrounded him.

Aris Boch grinned at him from beneath his hooded robe, as if he were reading Jack’s revulsion. Jack tried to fight his natural instinct not to trust Boch. The guy had gotten a little to close to eliminating his team, it was hard for Jack to trust him. Aris grinned again.

"Relax, O’Neill... we. ll find your buddy."

Jack just gave the scarred bounty hunter a sour frown and checked on the rest of his team. Makepeace was looking around warily, his usually stolid expression more than a little uncomfortable in the Goa’uld finery he wore. Carter was nearly hidden in the veils that enveloped her frame. Teal’c also was hidden in the folds of the dark cloak and hood, a band of gold concealed his Jaffa tattoo from view. Jack knew his own mother wouldn’t recognize him beneath the dark brown wig and glittering jewels he wore. He felt like an idiot, but he knew this was the only way they were ever going to get close to Daniel.

Aris claimed to know that Daniel was safe, an act that alerted Jack’s inner radar. Aris had finally acted honorably when he’d blown up his own ship to cover the fact that he’d let them go, but a *lot* of other stuff had gone down before that moment of sacrifice. Jack knew he was probably being unfair to the bounty hunter, but Aris Boch was just a little too much like Jack himself for Jack’s own comfort. Jack laughed to himself briefly, wondering exactly what that said about his so-called inner man. Jack wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to know.

Aris led them to a small alcove, motioning for them to be seated on the low, velvet benches. Tables at each corner were laden with rich food and bottles of various colored drink. The great hall was lined with such alcoves, all dimly lit which made it impossible to see the occupants.

"This is how it goes," Aris explained quietly. "Your little pal will get paraded down the aisle then tied up on that big post. The seller gets to set the starting price and the buyers raise it from there. " Aris indicated a jewel-like switch at the central table. "You use *that* to raise. And like I told you before, you bid more than you’ve got with you, and you don’t get out of here alive. It. s a hard and fast rule among the System Lords... you just *don’t* do it."

"Really trust each other, do they?" Makepeace’s sour comment about summed up Jack’s own feelings on the matter.

"About as much as *we* trust *them,*" Jack confirmed.

"Makepeace grinned, "That much?"

Jack shook his head, grateful that his marine counterpart was making such an effort to keep him on an even keel. They hadn’t argued once since leaving SGC, only coming close when Makepeace saw the getup he was expected to wear.

A chime sounded dully causing Jack to start and turn his attention to the door. A tall, blond guy entered first... a guy who seemed to make Aris bristle. Jack opened his mouth to question the big man, but lost all coherency when he saw who was behind the newcomer.

It was Daniel, dressed like a refugee from a bad pirate movie, stumbling along behind the other man as he was led down the aisle by a leash attached to the shackles on his wrists. Jack noted with some measure of pride that Daniel was fighting every step, despite the short chains that held his ankles, and still held his head up defiantly. The big stranger looked back at Daniel like he was indulging a favored but recalcitrant pet and jerked on the chains, sending Daniel to his knees. Jack whistled softly, a signal they often used in the field, and sighed in relief as he saw Daniel’s head snap up in recognition. Daniel knew they were there.

Daniel got to his feet again and his captor led him up to the post, locking the chains on a ring embedded there. Jack traded a look with Makepeace, the marine was drinking in the sight of the disheveled archaeologist, clearly as relieved as Jack that Daniel was still alive. The situation wasn’t great, but at least they were all in one place again.

The blond guy was speaking now, in Goa’uld. Teal’c leaned forward, whispering a translation. "The man is introducing himself. His name is Cantor..Boch."

Jack looked at Aris, who was still staring angrily at Cantor. Aris nodded curtly. "He’s my cousin, okay. I should have known he was the one who got Daniel. He’s *almost* as good as me."

Jack took that remark with a liberal portion of the proverbial salt. Aris’ pride probably was deserved, up to a point, but Jack figured that the admission probably left a lot unsaid. Like maybe Aris’ cousin was just as ruthless as Aris had been.

Cantor was speaking again. Teal’c continue his quiet translation. "He is welcoming the bidders. Now he is *presenting* his prize." Jack could see Teal’c’s eyes glowering at the term, Teal’c had been in places like this before and his expression mad it obvious how much he detested this reminder of his former life. Watching Cantor lift Daniel’s head with a grip that was in no way gentle, Jack had to restrain himself from jumping out in front of everybody and shooting Aris. blood kin...System Lords or no System Lords. Makepeace must have recognized the signs because Jack felt a firm hand close over his shoulder, dragging him painfully back to reality.

Teal’c was still speaking. "Cantor Boch has started the bidding at five hundred sheshka."

Jack couldn’t resist the impulse, "Is that a lot?"

Aris nodded. "Twice what the bounty was."

"How many shesh-whatsis do we have?"

"Five thousand," Teal’c answered, quietly.

"Is it going to be enough?" Jack was worried; the little lights over the other alcoves were flashing on and off like traffic blinkers.

"The bidding is up to two thousand, O’Neill."

Jack hit the bidding light; thinking sadly that this was no way for Daniel to figure out what he was worth.
……………………..

Daniel tried to relax, knowing that his friends were here. He tried to keep himself from returning his gaze to the alcove where they were hidden. He had hoped but not really expected that his friends would find a way to help him. Just knowing they were this close helped so much. Whatever else might happen, at least now they were in the same galaxy.

Daniel had felt himself giving up as Boch took his chain from the four guards who had escorted him to the hall. He’d never felt so isolated, so far from any hope...

But Jack was here.

Daniel tried to focus on that, even as his mind translated Cantor. s spoken Goa’uld. The bidding was up to four thousand. Daniel had a fair idea of what a sheshka was worth and would have laughed if the situation weren. t so tragically dire. Four thousand sheshka would buy a fair-sized country. He smiled a little, he’d be working the rest of his life to pay back that kind of money. Daniel felt a tremor run through him, threatening to overwhelm the comfort zone his mind had managed to lock itself into.

What if Jack didn’t have enough?

He tried to quash that notion.

No, he wasn’t going to think like that. If Jack couldn’t buy him out of this, then his resourceful friend would think of something else. Jack *wouldn’t* abandon him; Daniel knew that with the certainty of several year’s worth of shared danger, experience and pain. Jack had traveled all this way to save Daniel; he wouldn’t give up.

The bidding had passed five thousand. Daniel waited, barely breathing, to see the light above his friends. alcove light again. After many long minutes, Daniel realized Jack had reached the limit. The other lights gradually ceased, leaving one light in the furthest alcove. Daniel felt his heart sink, but managed a brave look at his friends, knowing they could see him. He tried to convey his faith in them, tried not to let them see how afraid he was.

But Jack would know. Daniel knew that Jack would follow him. As Cantor Boch led him back down the aisle, Daniel heard Jack’s low whistle again. Daniel tried to smile, even as he kept his eyes forward, fearful of giving his friends away. The whistle was a promise. Jack’s promise. They would find him.

Feeling Boch’s sharp pull on the chain, Daniel held that promise close to his heart. It was all he had to hold on to.
……………………….

Teal’c could read the pain in O’Neill’s eyes as Daniel Jackson was led back down the aisle. Colonel Makepeace placed a comforting hand on . Neill. s shoulder, whispering in his ear that they would follow Daniel Jackson. O’Neill gathered himself, nodding absently and whistled softly as Daniel Jackson passed them. Teal’c could see the slight, albeit frightened, smile and knew that Daniel Jackson understood.

Teal’c glanced at Aris Boch. He knew the bounty hunter possessed a newly-formed sense of honor, and that Aris Boch was being well rewarded by the Tok’ra for his aid in getting them here. He wondered if they could expect any further help from the bounty hunter now. Boch was staring down the aisle as his relative led Daniel Jackson roughly through the door, his expression dark and unreadable.

As Teal’c watched, Aris Boch stood, nodding to himself as if he’d come to some sort of decision.

"Well?" He asked, his familiar sarcasm firmly back in place. "We going after him or not?"

O’Neill looked at their former enemy for a long moment. "Why?"

Aris Boch shrugged, his eyes glinting coldly. "Let’s just say this thing just got personal and leave it at that, okay?"

O’Neill stood, locking eyes with Aris Boch. "Let’s go then."

 

Part 9 - by PHO

The room was dark, very dark. Daniel stumbled and would have gone down had not Cantor Boch's tight grip on the chain prevented any motion. Daniel could feel the alien's tremors through his chains. What the heck did *he* have to be nervous about? Or maybe it was anticipation, nine thousand eight hundred and fifty-two sheshka was a king's ransom. Or maybe a Goa'uld's... 'Stop it, Daniel!' The frightened young man spoke harshly to himself. 'Jack will find me. He won't let it end like this. He promised.' Clinging tightly to the promise of the whistle, Daniel tried to relax. The room slowly began to be bathed in a low glow, rising to an almost blinding iridescence and Daniel blinked madly in an desperate attempt to see.
………………………

Cantor Boch was nervous, very nervous. And it wasn't just the large profit he'd turned. Both Bochs had been around for quite some time, drifting in and out of favor with various System Lords. Between the two of them, Cantor had believed he knew the names of all of the ones with money. Until today. The winning bidder was an unknown quantity, and while *not* getting his money had never occurred to him, getting out of Torvahn alive definitely *had*.

The room slowly began to be bathed in a low glow, rising to an almost blinding iridescence. Boch fought down an urge to run; his feet seemed almost part of the floor. A deep voice broke the unnerving silence. "Bring him forward, to the center of the room."

"Yes, yes, indeed." Cantor licked his lips and tugged on Daniel's chains. True to form Daniel resisted, but to no avail. Boch was much more muscular than the young scientist, and had at least a seventy-five pound advantage. Daniel soon found himself in the center of the room.

"Release him."

Cantor frowned, but quickly complied. Daniel rubbed his wrists gingerly as he glared at the man. A movement off to one side of the room attracted his attention and Daniel turned slightly toward it. Boch whirled to face the *receiver*. A robed, hooded figure approached, but neither seller nor goods could catch a glimpse of the face. A hand emerged from wide sleeves reaching out to touch Daniel's face, and the young man reflexively shied away from the touch. The hand moved quickly to capture his chin. Daniel's head was held fast in a brutal grip. He gasped in pain as the grip on his chin tightened. The menacing voice came from inside the hood. "Lesson one. *You* are now property. *My* property. You *will* service me to the best of your ability or suffer the consequences. Do you
understand?"

Daniel cleared his throat. "I understand." /you sorry, son of .../

"Excellent." With the ease born of years of domination, the buyer smoothly pulled something from within his robes and before either Cantor or Daniel could blink, fastened it securely around Daniel's neck. Involuntarily, Daniel reached up to touch a cold metal ring. Ignoring his purchase, the hooded figure pressed a button on his wristband, causing a transaction chit to appear holographically in front of Boch. Nervously Boch read the terms of the agreement, then affixed his own holographic seal. The seal's impression imbedded itself three dimensionally through the document. A mechanical sounding voice announced, in Goa'uld, the sealing of the transaction to the entire complex.
………………………….

"What do you mean we can't leave yet?" Jack's voice was low, but threatening as his hands pleaded to wrap themselves around Aris Boch's short, thick neck.

Boch leaned unconcerned against the wall of their buyer's chamber. The door wasn't exactly locked but a quick word from the guard had apprised him of his *mistake*. "Let's just say that things have changed a little since I last attended one of these things. Until the money changes hands and the transaction is registered, no one leaves. At least not alive."

"Oh, for crying out loud." O'Neill's voice was a little too loud.

Carter winced as she recognized the impatience in his tone. An impatient Jack O'Neill was a careless Jack O’Neill’…she hadn't seen that side of him often, but the few times she had ... "Aris, what happens if the deal falls through."

The man shrugged. "The 'buyer' is executed on the spot, and the merchandise is returned to the floor for rebid."

"Maybe we should hope for that." Carter asked hopefully.

Aris should his head. "It would not help us. The bidding starts where the 'buyer' left it."

"That doesn't make sense." Makepeace put in his two cents worth. "The dead buyer was the highest bidder."

"Communication with financial institutions is permitted, and even encouraged between 'rounds'." Aris replied. "By the time a transaction has failed, and retribution delivered, the bidders have more than accumulated enough to up the ante."

"Ya think?"

A heavy metallic 'voice' interrupted their discussion. They instinctively looked at center court, and the hated *pole* as the voice increased in volume. Teal'c frowned as he translated. "The bargain has been sealed. *Item* number 1032 has been purchased by..." Teal'c's head cocked in confusion.

"Lo'wn of Delmak."

Jack's eyes widened in horror. "Oh my God!"

Carter also gasped as she spoke. "Sir, he's got to be working for either Apophis or Sokar, whoever he is. Daniel's in deep this time."

"It's Apophis." Jack spoke quietly.

"It could be either..."

Jack just shook his head. "No, I don't know why, but I know its Apophis. Why can't that asshole just *stay* dead?"
…………………….

Cantor Boch tried to edge away from the hooded figure as the bargain was sealed, but suddenly felt as if he was frozen in place. The hooded figure laughed, an absurdly sad sound in Boch's mind, then spoke softly. "You are free to go."

The trader suddenly realized that it was not his imagination, his feet really *had* been 'glued' to the floor. Given his leave, the man wasted no time in vacating the premises.

Daniel also had found his feet mysteriously freed. And there was an open door to his left. And his 'owner', even mentally Daniel spat the word, was looking the other way. His feet edged their way toward the opening and freedom while his brain screamed an ignored warning. 'Too easy, too easy, too easy.'

His newly acquired neck ware forgotten, Daniel bolted for the door. He'd barely gotten five steps away when he collapsed to the floor, hands clutching convulsively at the ring encircling his throat. A pain-filled haze settled over his vision, and somewhere, his mind told him, someone was screaming.
…………………………

The mood of the Tau'ri was grim as they made their way through the crowds. At Aris Boch's instructions, Jack kept a tight grip on Sam's arm, and gave what he knew was a fearsome look to any that ventured too close to the woman. Boch led the way, the bidding 'couple' following closely behind, with Makepeace and Teal'c bringing up the rear. A low growl alerted Jack to a change in the mood of their escort, but even so, he was not prepared when Aris Boch lunged into a narrow passageway.

The four SGC teammates exchanged momentary glances before following the alien. Wheezing sounds attracted their attention, and they slipped unnoticed into a small room. The four stopped dead in their tracks, and Jack wasn't the only one grinning at the sight before them ... Aris Boch holding a struggling, and choking, Cantor Boch high in the air.
……………………………

Part 10 - by Jmas

Jack motioned for Teal’c to watch the door, tempted to indulge himself with the sight of their bounty hunter striving to make his however-many-times-removed cousin a permanent part of the architecture.

Cantor was flailing his arms wildly... the hold Aris had on him was inexorably driving him toward unconsciousness... .

"Aris! We don’t have time for this!" Jack whispered urgently. "Find out where he left Daniel and let’s go."

Aris relaxed his grip... slightly... allowing Cantor a breath as he looked at his relative expectantly.

Cantor shrugged off-handedly, "Too late, cuz. Doc’s already on his way.

"Delmak?" Aris barked the question.

Cantor tried to nod around the restraining hand at his throat. "Yeah, he’s been collared and taken to a transport... .."

Aris tightened his grip. "Collared? Nobody uses those anymore."

Cantor could only open and close his mouth, unable to draw breath to speak. Jack knew they were wasting precious time, time that took Daniel further away from them... further into danger. He motioned for Teal’c and Makepeace to intervene.

Cantor. s bravado reasserted itself as soon as the pressure on his throat was removed.

"Guys..guys... can’t we talk about this?"

Makepeace twisted Cantor. s arm back and around, exerting painful pressure. "Talk? You just sold our friend like a piece of meat and you want to *talk*?"

Jack had closed in on Cantor at Makepeace’s words. "I don’t have time to play games with you, Boch. I don’t understand what you are and Daniel hasn’t got time for me to stick around trying to figure it out." Jack leaned forward, his expression growing cold and hot at once. "Just know this... If something happens to Daniel before we get to him... I’ll kill you.."

Cantor swallowed hard, obviously taking the threat for what it was... a statement of unshakable fact.

"Listen, he’s a gutsy kid, he’ll do okay... "

Makepeace pushed Cantor away from him, wiping his hands together as if they were dirty. Teal’c guided Aris toward the door.

Aris took one last disgusted look at his cousin. " You just don’t get it Cantor." Jack was shocked to see a look of pity on the big bounty hunter. s scarred face. "Some things are worth more than money... "

Jack traded surprised glances with Carter as they slipped out the door.
…………………

Apophis was well-pleased.

Lo’wn had been successful. Within the day, Daniel Jackson would stand before him and beg for mercy.

. No. , Apophis thought grimly. . That stubborn Tau’ri will not bow his head willingly..
Apophis remembered well the sullen anger and defiance exhibited by the young human on Netu. The open hatred and lack of remorse had haunted him in his dreams. That this human should live, having been the cause of Amaunet. s death, sent waves of blood-tinged rage through Apophis.

O’Neill was a somewhat worthy adversary, a warrior at least... something Apophis could understand. But this Daniel Jackson was a *scholar*... a man of books and gentle ways according to Amaunet. s interpretation of her host. s memories. Apophis had accused Daniel Jackson of lacking will and strength to kill him. At the time, Apophis had believed that to be so..

But the Daniel Jackson who had kneeled before him on Netu... had openly defied him and taken pleasure in imparting the news of Amaunet. s death... .

*That* Daniel Jackson was harder, colder... .possessed of an edge that had taken root there since Apophis’ death. . From his own host’s memories Apophis recognized that the human scholar also possessed a great deal of compassion. Daniel had, after all, tried to comfort his dying host...
Apophis smiled coldly.

Such strange enigmas these Tau’ri. Stubborn, strong-minded, inventive... and yet *ruled* by their weaker emotions... .

Apophis vowed that he would take great pleasure in breaking Daniel Jackson’s will. He *would* see Sha’re’s husband beg for his life... just before he took the human as his new host... .
………………………………….

Teal’c checked the Teltac. s instrumentation one last time before leaving the controls to join his friends in the cargo bay. Aris Boch and Colonel Makepeace were narrowly avoiding collision as they paced the floor, Major Carter was re-checking their equipment for the third time that Teal’c was aware of, and Colonel O’Neill... was completely still.

Teal’c knew from long experience that the tense posture and staring eyes were dangerous signs in his chosen commander. The cold glint in O’Neill’s brown glare, the lack of distracting banter, the utter stillness of hands that would otherwise be assisting in the preparations told Teal’c that O’Neill was completely focused on the battle ahead. O’Neill was attempting to sublimate the fear and rage that might otherwise prevent him from acting effectively to rescue Daniel Jackson.

Teal’c found it more than a little difficult to control his own mounting concern. He had known... even before Aris Boch had explained to the others... exactly what it meant to hear that Daniel Jackson had been fitted with a restraining collar. Many times Teal’c had seen the devices used to inflict senseless pain on recalcitrant slaves. Their use had dwindled over time due to too many losses... if the devices were used to long or at too high a setting they would cause extreme heart and nervous system damage.

Teal’c knew that Daniel Jackson would not submit to Apophis... the one being in the universe that his young friend truly hated. Teal’c also knew that Apophis was not only capable of causing Daniel Jackson great harm, he would take leisurely pleasure in it. Teal’c knew Apophis well enough to realize that Daniel was more than just an enemy to Apophis, he represented everything Teal’c’s former master despised about the Tau’ri... determination, compassion, devotion, integrity... .

Apophis would systematically take everything that made Daniel Jackson who he was, draining the vital energy from the young scholar in slow degrees, before finally killing him... or... unthinkably... .take him as a host.

Teal’c had avoided mentioning this to the others, but he doubted the thought was far from their minds either. He knew it was all to clear in O’Neill’s eyes that one day... possibly soon... they might find their friend, only to discover that he had become their greatest enemy...
……………….

Daniel awoke to a feeling of tightness all over his body. Remembering the pain that had driven him to lose consciousness, Daniel considered sinking back into the blackness...

"You will awaken now," the cold voice... Lo’wn... commanded.

Daniel opened his eyes to the realization that several things had changed since he’d passed out: he was now on a ship, *someone* had changed his clothes again, some vest-like thing and sturdy pants... still no shoes, and there was something about his captor’s voice... .

Something was missing...

Lo’wn was not a Goa’uld.

Daniel took a long look at the figure standing before him. The robe and hood had been discarded; revealing a had-faced, tall and impressively muscular man... the man was almost as big as Teal’c. As Lo’wn turned to face him completely, Daniel felt his blood run cold. In the middle of his forehead,

Lo’wn bore a familiar gold tattoo... the tattoo of the First Prime of Apophis.

Lo’wn smiled, almost sympathetically. "I see I do not have to explain your destination. My master was correct concerning your intelligence. But know this... you will *not* attempt to escape. The pain you experienced earlier was but a foretaste of what the collar is capable of. My Lord prefers you undamaged, but will accept you in any condition I choose to present you."

Daniel swallowed hard, trying to process this new information. "And what does Apophis want with me?"

Lo’wn smiled, turning to leave the small cell. "Consider the possibilities, Daniel Jackson. Consider the possibilities...."

As the door slid closed Daniel found himself doing exactly that. Every frightening scenario that ran through his mind came down to the simple reality that Apophis hated him... and hadn’t gone to this much trouble and expense on a whim...

Daniel sank back on the hard bunk, rubbing at the persistent ache between his eyes. He knew that Jack and the others would undoubtedly be on his trail, they had heard the announcement and would understand the significance of the destination. Daniel prayed that his friends *were* following, even as he wished they wouldn’t. As much as he wanted to be rescued, he didn’t want his friends to fall into Apophis'... hands again.

Apophis had always been arrogant, power-hungry and vengeful. The fact that *they* had delivered him up to his fate with Sokar, the things they had said and done while he was dying, the knowledge that they had killed Amaunet had only seemed to fuel Apophis’ innate cruelty... .

Daniel tried to keep his mind on his friends; letting the strength of everything they had become together still his racing heart. But thoughts of SG1... and his … home with SGC... .only underscored the realization that he had never been so alone in his life... .

 

Part 11 - by PHO

"Are we there yet?" Even the seriousness of the situation could not stifle O'Neill's sarcastic wit.

Aris Boch gave him a sideways glance. "We are approaching the last jump before reaching Kilymar. Why do you ask?"

Jack shrugged. "Tradition." Leaving a confused Aris at the helm, Jack wandered listlessly into the next room. "Ah, Carter, you're looking much more, uhm, military."

Sam had wasted no time in shedding her Goa'uldish attire. She liked finery ... on the right occasions, and in the correct proportions. But dressing for the Goa'uld auction more closely resembled getting ready for a masquerade ball than anything else she could remember. The main difference being, of course, that masquerades were usually fun. Turning, she eyed the Colonel quizzically. "Yes, sir. ... Don't you think you should change?"

"All in good time, Major, all in good time. Anything?"

"Yes, sir. According to tradition, there are two gates on Delmak. One we know is in So..., uh, Apophis' palace. The location of the other is somewhat obscure."

"Sweet. What does *that* mean?"

"Well, it means that no one is really sure where the gate is hidden. For all we know, we could gate into a desert, a cave, or a frozen wasteland."

"For crying out loud, Major, we've got to *know* where it will take us. The gate in the palace is guarded. There is *no* way we can get through it, unless of course we want to go straight to jail without passing 'GO' or collecting two hundred dollars. Where's Teal'c?"

"Meditating."

"Excuse me?"

"He believes that he has identified a passage that may hold the key. Something Bra'tac said a long time ago. He's meditating in hopes that he'll be able to get a handle on it."

"Ya think?"

"Sir, Teal'c's doing his best; the straight translation is no problem, but historical interpretation is *not* his strong suit. Daniel ..." She froze as she realized what she'd been about to say.

"If Daniel were *here*, Major, we wouldn't be *here*, now would we?"

"No, sir."

"Then I *suggest*..."

"Jack? May I speak with you?" Makepeace spoke calmly from the doorway.

Jack glared at the other Colonel for a moment, before returning his attention to Carter. "*Find* me something, Major. Soon."

"Yes, sir." Her relieved eyes followed him as he left the room with Makepeace. She knew he was worried about Daniel. Hell, they all were, but this was a side of O'Neill that she'd never seen. Heard about, yes. Seen, no. All business, all military, and cold. As cold as the ice in Antarctica had been when they'd been stranded for several long, lonely days. Startled, she realized that she knew *why* the Colonel was behaving this way. He wasn't expecting to win this one. He fully expected the Daniel they knew, and loved, to be utterly, irrevocably gone.
…………………….

Daniel remained steadfastly on the hard bunk as the doors snapped open. Turning his head almost lazily, he glared at Lo'wn, hatred, disgust, and no small amount of fear evident on his handsome face. Still there was that unspoken refusal to surrender. Lo'wn, in turn, was all arrogance. Dark eyes laughed at Daniel's discomfiture, even as he admired the young man's open defiance. That was all right with him. The more the young prisoner struggled against his fate, the more painful it would be, and the more pleasure his master, Apophis, would have in dominating Daniel. "You will rise."

The young scientist turned away, silently ignoring the Jaffa's command. The corners of Lo'wn's lips turned upward, even as he gave a minute twist to a small control on his wrist. Daniel's hands flew upward to the collar that glowed dully on his neck. His breathing shortened as he clawed at the cold metal. Lo'wn held the control in place for a short moment, then released it, allowing it to return to its 'home' location on its own. "*You* will rise, or the punishment will be increased."

Daniel rose shakily to his feet, his breathing rapidly returning to normal as the memory of the pain faded. Lo'wn stepped quickly forward and snapped chains to his ankles and wrists. Confusion played on Daniel's features as the bracelets were snapped shut. "You don't need these, you have the co..."

His words were choked off by a reapplication of the control, less pain this time, but still... "Another lesson, slave, *you* have not been given permission to speak." Lo'wn tugged with satisfaction on Daniel's leash. "Come. Your master awaits."
………………………..

"What is it, Makepeace?" Jack snarled as the Marine walked away from him down the passageway of the ship. "I don't have time for games."

"Then stop playing them, O'Neill." Makepeace stopped by a view port and whirled to face his Air Force counterpart.

"*What?*"

"You've been in a foul humor since we left Torvahn."

"Excuse me?"

"I said..."

"I *heard* what you said. What I don't understand is why *you* think you have the right to comment on my moods, good or bad."

"I have the right, because right now, *Colonel*, you're a liability." Jack was momentarily robbed of speech so Makepeace continued. "You're jumping down everyone's throat, and I don't think I've ever seen you raise your voice at Carter as much as you have the past couple of days."

"I've got a team member down."

"Not *down*, O'Neill, missing. Down you could deal with. What you can't deal with is what you'll have to do if Dr. Jackson has been taken as a host."

Jack stared at the other man in amazement. "W..What?"

Makepeace softened his harsh tones. "Jack, I'm not fool. I saw you closeted with Hammond before we left the SGC. I saw *your* face. As the SG-1 team leader, he gave you first choice. I was probably the second choice."

"Choice for what?" Jack's voice was weak.

"Oh, puh..lease. Can the act, you're not that good. You know as well as I do that Daniel Jackson cannot be allowed to become a host. He simply knows too much about both the SGC and Earth's defenses, such as they are. The fact that Earth defeated Apophis would not have gone unnoticed by the System Lords. I'm quite sure that Apophis never let on that it was SG-1 that took him down. Earth becomes the proverbial sitting duck if Daniel Jackson's knowledge is compromised."

Jack nodded sadly. "When you're right, you're right. God, Robert, do you *know*?"

"That you're to terminate his life? Yes, it's the only humane thing to do, both for him, and Earth."

"*HUMANE?* Jesus, he's a man, not a dog."

"No, if you have to carry out *that* order, he's a Goa'uld."
………………………

Daniel barely suppressed a moan as he once again fell to his knees. Lo'wn seemed to be taking a perverse delight in gauging his speed so that Daniel would end up at the limits of his leash. Once there, the First Prime of Apophis would jerk the chains ever so slightly. Not enough to tear sensitive flesh, but enough to bruise his prisoner's wrists and ankles, and occasionally enough to bring him painfully to his knees. And true to form, the young man was allowed very little time to get to his feet again. The palace halls were opulently decorated, as Daniel would have suspected, but he had eyes only for any potential exits. Not that he thought he'd get a chance to escape, but Jack would expect him to know the lay of the land when help arrived.

An unusually strong tug on his leash, caused him to stumble once more, but he managed not to fall. An ornate pair of gold-leafed doors swung slowly open, and he held his breath as he caught sight of the throne room. He released his breath as he came to realize that the chamber was empty. Lo'wn urged him forward and shoved him to his knees, then fastened the chains to a small hook in the center of the floor. Daniel found to his disgust, that he was unable to rise. Lo'wn then backed slowly away from the throne, and disappeared from Daniel's line of sight.

The bruising on his knees caused him to shift his weight in an effort to relieve the pressure. A voice from behind him caused a cold chill to run up his spine. He stiffened involuntarily. "It *is* a pleasure to see you again, Daniel Jackson."

"Can't say I feel the same way, Apophis."

"That's Master, Daniel Jackson. *You* do not have the right to speak my name."

"Ah ha." Daniel twisted so that he could get a better view of the Goa'uld Lord. "You'll have to forgive me if I don't get up."

A strong hand twisted Daniel's head cruelly upwards. Apophis knelt to bring his own terribly scarred features in line with Daniel's face. "Amaunet spoke of your sense of humor. Her pathetic little host..."

"Sha're. Her *name* was Sha're." This open defiance earned the young man a taste of the collar. He was still gasping from the pain, as Apophis continued.

"Her pathetic little host 'told' my queen of your *better* qualities. We shall enjoy getting to know them, on a personal level."

 

Part 12 - by Jmas

Jack knew that Makepeace was right. They didn't have much time and his own attitude wasn't helping matters any. Daniel, if he was *still* Daniel, didn't have time for Jack to wallow in self-pity or nightmare images of what might come. He had to deal with *now* and let the rest of it come as it would.

Teal'c had roused from his meditation to announce that he had remembered Bra'tac's words. The second Stargate on Delmak was located just outside the city, underneath an old temple. Bra'tac had believed that there were tunnels leading from the temple into Sokar's….now Apophis'….throne room, a kind of escape route. Jack recalled something Daniel had once said about the ancient Egyptians having a thing for secret passages and tunnels….maybe they'd gotten it from the Goa'uld….or the Goa'uld had gotten it from them….or whatever.

At least now they had a way in.

Aris announced that they were coming into Kilymar's orbit, warning them to prepare for landing. Teal'c moved forward to assist Aris while the rest of them finished their packing and moved to their seats. Jack watched Aris and Teal'c working together smoothly as they guided the Teltac through the atmosphere into Kilymar's indigo skies.

Jack had been rather surprised by Aris' words to his cousin. Jack hadn't trusted Aris, working on the assumption that Aris was in this for the money…like always. Aris' statement that everything wasn't about money was...in Jack's estimation…totally out of character for the bounty hunter. Maybe Carter was right, maybe Aris *had* changed. Jack hoped so. He was more than a little surprised that Aris was still with them, he'd only agreed to get them in and out of the auction.

Aris seemed to realize that he was under Jack's scrutiny, looking back over his shoulder with his trademark grin.

"What's the matter, Jack? Waiting for me to up the ante?"

Jack was a little flustered that his thoughts were so obvious. "Well, sorta, yeah. Why are you still here, Boch?"

Aris turned back to the control panel, checking that Teal'c still had the landing well in hand.

"Some things *are* worth more than money," Aris stated softly. "Things have been bad for us since Sokar took his nose-dive.not that they were that great before, but hey." Aris smiled wryly. "When everything starts to fall apart you find out who your friends are…and aren't."

Carter smiled. "And Apophis?"

"Aren't." Aris grinned again, looking back at Carter. " The Tok'ra are. You were right about them. I've helped them out on a few things." Aris' eyes turned cold. "And they've helped me out when."

"The Roshna?" Carter asked gently.

Aris nodded. "Yeah. They really came through for me when it counted."

Jack tried to wrap his mind around this new, improved version of Aris Boch. "That still doesn't explain why you're helping us."

Aris shook his head, giving a half shrug. "What can I say, Jack? I hate the Goa'uld…that's no secret. Things were bad enough for my people under Sokar. It was hell. But it was a hell we understood. Apophis turned his back on them. Nothing. Zip. If it weren't for the few of us who get the Roshna to them, what's left of my *race* would be dead in a week." Aris turned to look at Jack levelly, his entire aspect growing serious. "Not too long ago that wouldn't have bothered me that much…those were the breaks. Now it *matters.*" Aris grinned again. "Maybe all that excess Earth-style nobility is rubbing off on me. I like your pal. He's got spunk. I don't know what all this stuff is with Apophis, but I *do* know he deserves better than what old snake eye will give him.."

Jack looked long and hard at Aris, reading the man's direct gaze and finally nodding. "You got that right. Daniel *does* deserve better."
………………………..

Apophis stretched lazily, watching Daniel Jackson strain against the chains to get away once again.

Apophis had indulged himself for hours, but had yet to complete the stubborn Tau'ri's humiliation. Apophis had applied the hand device repeatedly, taking the young human to the brink of unconsciousness as well as supplying a myriad of interesting images for him to dwell upon. Apophis was a master of the many techniques of human subjugation. Daniel huddled before him, shaking with pain and clearly unable to focus his vision, swaying even as he tried to retreat…and yet, that proud head would not bow to him.

By now Daniel should have been cowering before Apophis, pleading for his life and ready to perform any service to protect himself from more pain. But Daniel Jackson would not. The human had made it abundantly clear….before the pain had robbed him of the ability to speak quite so freely….that he would rather die than call Apophis 'master'.

Apophis reached out a hand to force Daniel to meet his gaze. The pain-hazed blue eyes still shone with hatred and bitter defiance.

Apophis smiled. "You will call me your master, Daniel. Now or…when you cease to amuse me…when I embed myself in your mind and rip from you everything you have ever known or treasured. Your memories, your friends, the child you hid from me, your *world* will all be mine."

Apophis was not entirely surprised when Daniel jerked his head away. He was not even particularly angry. Apophis had time. The vengeance he had longed for was within his grasp. He intended to savor it.
……………………..

Daniel wasn't sure how much longer he could hold on to his resolve. His head felt disjointed. Every inch of his body ached, the myriad pains and bruises fusing into one complete *hurt.* Daniel hurt and it wasn't solely a physical manifestation...his soul was hurting.

Apophis had used the hand device to implant visions of Sha're, screaming in terror as her body and mind were invaded…fighting Apophis as her own bright spirit emerged, only to flee willingly at the touch of the Goa'uld….sad, so sad, at the loss of her child.

Daniel could barely control the rage he felt for the sake of his dead wife. The suffering she had endured as a prisoner inside her own mind.

Despite Apophis' purpose in showing him those images, Daniel let them fuel the already strong rage he felt toward Apophis. Daniel fought for Sha're as well as himself, his friends….all the things that Apophis would destroy if he took Daniel as a host. Daniel resolved that he would die before allowing it to happen. If there were the slightest chance to kill himself…or push Apophis into going too far. Daniel would take it.
………………….

Makepeace was worried. The temple on Delmak was little more than a ruin; the tunnels that would take them to Apophis' palace were dangerously unstable.

Almost as unstable as Jack was becoming. After their little talk on the Teltak, Jack had rallied….forcing a measure of what passed for normalcy with him. But Makepeace could see that the facade was crumbling by slow degrees. The reality of what he might be called upon to do to Daniel was eroding Jack's fragile control.

Makepeace pushed his luck a little more with Jack, suggesting that the two of them should continue through the tunnels alone while Teal'c, Boch and Carter looked for a safer route above ground. Jack had looked at Makepeace for a long minute...clearly understanding what Makepeace was offering.
If they should find Daniel, Makepeace was certain O'Neill could not follow through with what had to be done…he wasn't sure that he could anyway. But at least they wouldn't have an audience for their sin.
Makepeace wasn't a very religious man, but he sent up a quick word to whoever might be listening that Daniel was still okay...and still Daniel.
……………

Part 13 - by PHO

Fool! Stubborn and foolish! The handsome Tau'ri was playing with *him*. Deliberately trying to achieve his own death. As if *that* would save him. Apophis smiled at the thought. Oh, yes, the young prisoner had forgotten the sarcophagus. Perhaps he believed that Apophis was without the device. True, *one* sarcophagus had been destroyed with Sokar, but *that* particular Goa'uld had been intelligent, cagey, evil, and ... paranoid. The second sarcophagus was older, less ornate that its destroyed counterpart, but it was functional. Perhaps he should *surprise* the young man by granting his wish, allowing him to die, then reviving him to do it all over again. Perhaps *that* would bring his prisoner to his knees.

"My Lord?" Lo'wn's quiet voice pulled him back from his thoughts.

"Report Lo'wn."

"Daniel Jackson has awakened."

Apophis turned. "Exce..." The Goa'uld's words hung in his throat as he saw the weapon hanging at his First Prime's side. The Zatnikatel gun. He'd forgotten the potential of the Zatnikatel. *This* would never do. A dead Daniel Jackson he could revive; a disintegrated one, he could not. His Jaffa were new to their roles. One of them might just... "Lo'wn. Have the guards rearmed. The Zatnikatel weapons are not to be allowed anywhere near the Tau'ri."
…………….

"Colonel, are you sure?" Sam's voice contained all the uncertainty she felt about the order to divide into teams.

"I'm certain, Major. You'll have to travel into the 'city', such as it is, and I'm afraid that a party of five will be *much* too noticeable."

"At least take Teal'c with you, sir."

Jack shook his head. "You'll need him."

"Sir, Aris can translate..."

The alien grinned. "Forget it Major, you're gonna lose this one. O'Neill doesn't completely trust me, so he's not about to leave his Major alone with me. Besides, it gives me the opportunity to have you take *my* arm, for a change."

The look Carter shot him could have boiled water, but merely added to Boch's amusement. Jack barely controlled his own annoyance at the ego of this alien. "Boch's right, Carter, I don't really trust him. So Teal'c goes with you. Check out the packs, take what gear you'll need, but make sure the energizer bunnies in our flashlights have been fed."

"Yes, sir." She shot Boch another significant *look*, then set about modifying the contents of their packs. To her utter disgust, Aris Boch supervised the operation, without any offer of aid.

Makepeace was studying the entrance to the caverns, seemingly uninterested in the goings on behind him. Jack approached him quietly. "Anything interesting, Robert?"

The Marine shrugged. "The passage to the left appears clear. There're a good many rocks on the right. I suspect a cave-in somewhere in there."

"My memories indicate that 'left' is correct." The Jaffa's voice caused both Colonels to jump. Neither had been aware of his approach.

"Jeez, Teal'c, how *do* you do that?" O'Neill grabbed his chest in pretended dismay.

An eyebrow raised slowly. "Do what?"

Jack sighed. "Never mind. Did Bra'tac teach you anything else about this place?"

"Only that left is the path of choice, and that it is very dangerous."

"I see. That's it?"

"That is all I remember. There is one other detail I wish to discuss with you."

Something in Teal'c's tone caused Jack to give him his undivided attention. "Yes?"

"There will be a sarcophagus. If Daniel Jackson has indeed become host to Apophis, killing him will not be enough. You must destroy his body as well." The Jaffa granted O'Neill and Makepeace one of his rare bows of tribute, before walking away.
……………..

The darkness was a living entity, encircling him, enfolding him, embracing him with its existence. His vision was gone, and Daniel was not entirely certain that it was due to the lack of illumination. There was, however, nothing wrong with his hearing. Every breath he took seemed overly loud, and to his astonishment, if he remained perfectly still, even his heartbeat seemed to echo throughout his prison. Frowning, he realized that he was no longer bound. Confused, unable to completely recall his last 'session' with Apophis, he reached out a tentative hand in the darkness, only to encounter... A wall? A second hand joined the first in the exploration of his current environment. It took less than a minute for him to realize the truth. The 'heartbeat' he heard *was* his own, enhanced by the mechanical miracle of a Goa'uld sarcophagus.

Oh God! Daniel swallowed convulsively as the reality of his situation settled on him like a shroud. Surely Sokar had had his sarcophagus with him when his ship had exploded. He'd never known a Goa'uld to have *two* such devices. Silently Daniel berated himself for his stupidity. *This* was obviously a sarcophagus, and *he* was obviously in it, healing ... but from what? Now that his thoughts were clearing, he strained to remember what had happened to gain him admittance to this life-restoring device. Life-restoring? No! Please, no! An image raced unbidden through his mind of a jagged blade, and sudden, severe pain followed almost instantly by a blessed darkness. He had *died* ... again. And once again, he'd been forced into this *thing* to heal.

Slowly he realized that the darkness was receding, being replaced by a muted, yellow glow. His time in the hated device was almost over. Soon, its heavy lid would slide open, and Apophis' *games* would begin again. And again. Death alone would no longer thwart the Goa'uld's plans. The creature could kill him over and over until his mind folded in upon itself and he retreated into madness. But Daniel knew that was not Apophis' design. No, once the Goa'uld had finished his play he would abandon his current body, and take up residence in Daniel's, imprisoning him forever in an existence without hope.
………………….

"How far do you think it is?" Makepeace already had his own suspicions, but felt compelled to draw a least a semblance of conversation out of O'Neill.

"I'd guess a mile, as the crow flies. Down here, your guess is as good as mine."

"Well, the first few tunnels have been pretty straight, no major zigzags. Maybe we'll get lucky."

Jack snorted a derisive laugh. "Lucky. Yeah, right. Lucky."

"Jack, don't write Jackson off just yet. He's a resourceful kid."

"Right. One who's been taken in chains to his worst enemy. I'm thinking resourceful is *not* gonna help him."

Makepeace could think of nothing to say. It was true. The young archaeologist was probably being brutally tortured even as they spoke. Either that, or the snake had already changed his place of residence. God. It was a cruel world, uh, universe indeed, where torture was the *better* option.

The two men traveled in troubled silence for an undefined distance; suddenly Jack gripped Makepeace's arm tightly and whispered urgently. "Do you hear something?"

The other man started to shake his head when he too caught the sound. "Footsteps? Coming *our* way?"

Jack nodded.

"Carter?" The Marine whispered hopefully.

Jack shook his head emphatically. "No way. No how. Hide?"

"Ya think?"

O'Neill found himself grinning at the other man's use of his favorite idiom as they scrambled to find concealment. A rock slide provided the necessary cover, and the two had barely ducked, when a small force of warriors rounded the corner. In their center was a heavy set, cloaked and hooded figure, but whether he was prisoner or not, neither man could tell.

 

Part 14 - by Jmas

Apophis was well pleased. He had given Daniel Jackson just enough time in the sarcophagus to assure his restoration to life, but not enough to fully heal him or to allow him the ease of rest. The sight of the young Tau'ri's panicked face as they had opened the device had been most gratifying. Apophis was well acquainted with the shock of returning to life. It was something he had come to expect and even enjoy in some ways.

Watching his rival's discomfort now as he shivered with pain and disorientation, Apophis smiled. A few more 'deaths' and Daniel Jackson *would* break...he had to.

"It is your own fault, Daniel," Apophis informed the shaking human kneeling before him. "All you need do is submit and your suffering will end."

"Go to hell," Daniel grated out, glaring up at Apophis. "Oh, sorry. You already did that."

Apophis let his hand fly in rage, striking Daniel to the ground then kneeling to pull his head up by the hair. The strength of spirit in the gaze was infuriating. "Laugh now, Daniel Jackson. In the end you *will* be mine."

Daniel looked up for a moment, seeming to consider something. "I...uh...really don't think so."

The insolent tone ran through Apophis' veins, fiery hot and encompassing.

Apophis drew his knife once again.

Daniel *would* submit, Apophis vowed, or experience pain such as he had never known..
……………..

Makepeace waited until the figures had moved further into the tunnels, disappearing from sight and sound.

"So what do you think that was?" he asked Jack.

Jack shook his head briefly. "I dunno. Those weren't Apophis' usual type of guards. Leftovers from Sokar maybe. I wish."

Jack bit off his comment, but Makepeace was certain of what it was. They all wished Daniel was here…with them and not imprisoned and going through God knew what at the hands of one of their greatest enemies. Makepeace could see the thoughts racing through Jack's eyes and figured it was time to get moving.

"Well, whoever they were they're gone. Just like we need to be."

Jack nodded, pulling himself back to the present with visible effort before moving out.
………………..

The hooded figure moved cautiously into the lower throne room. Apophis was nowhere in sight, but the human from the auction was bleeding freely on the floor at the center of the room. The stranger wondered what game Apophis was playing with the human, but realized the end purpose certainly would be to take him as a host.

The figure studied the strong, somewhat pleasant face lying there on the floor. Someday…if they failed….he might need to recognize this face in battle. It was a young human, lids half drawn over deep blue eyes. The face was somewhat concealed by bruises, but still obviously determined. Blood ran freely from numerous slashes and cuts and the human's breath came in short shuddering gasps around the cloth that kept him silent.

It was obvious that Apophis sought to punish the human…but the matter was not worthy of the stranger's continued attention. He had more pressing business…
……………

Sam was getting more than a little ticked off at Aris' arrogant and condescending tone. She was beginning to not care that they needed the tough bounty hunter. She tried to keep in mind that Daniel's life was at stake and that helped…but he had nearly gotten on her last nerve and she didn't know how much longer she could refrain from wiping that superior smile off Aris' face with her field kit.
A look at Teal'c helped to steady her nerves. The Jaffa had been more than usually quiet and contemplative as they'd traveled. As they drew closer to the palace walls, Sam was sure that something was weighing heavily on her friend's mind.

"Teal'c?" She made a question of the name, knowing Teal'c would understand.

Teal'c shook his head briefly. "It is nothing, Major Carter. I am concerned for Daniel Jackson."

Sam nodded, not really believing it but realizing that Teal'c wasn't prepared to talk about it. She was worried about Daniel, too.and the colonel. The look on her commanding officer's face as they'd parted in the tunnels had spoken of more than just concern for Daniel…something else was at stake here...something her mind refused to put into words and her heart dreaded to contemplate.

They had to find Daniel.

Soon.
………………….

Jack didn't know how much longer he could hold on to his rage…much less his sanity. He had

*agreed* to Hammond's directive. Fury burned in his heart as he heard his own voice confirm that if all options failed, he would take his friend's life.

Daniel.

This was Daniel for God's sake.

Jack didn't want to consider the scenario that would place his hand on the trigger of the weapon that would discharge….stilling the beat of his friend's passionate heart. But he couldn't escape the vision…it was there every time he closed his eyes. Daniel's eyes glowing with Apophis' malevolent spirit, the gentle voice cruelly altered for all time.

Assassination was not a foreign concept to Jack. Not too long ago Jack had performed such missions with a detachment that had seemed normal, expected even. But Jack knew he wasn't the same man who had risen through the ranks of Black Ops with such speed and success.

And Daniel was a large part of the reason why.

They'd been through so much...hurt together, laughed together, even died together..

Now the possibility existed that Jack would have to destroy his best friend, and Jack's very soul cried for them both.
……………….

Daniel knew he couldn't last much longer.

The pain, the effects of the sarcophagus, the images that wavered through his mind like fever dreams..

He was losing touch with the resolve that had brought him through so much in his life. *Nothing* he had been through….with the vivid exception of Sha're's death had ever hurt this much.

Daniel tried to pull the good memories close around his heart, to shore up his flagging spirit.

Jack laughing at one of Daniel's self-deprecating jokes..

Sam engrossed in his words as he finally hit the key to a day's long mystery..

Teal'c..holding him up with that solid support that had somehow become so natural, so expected.
Sha're dancing in the moonlight...eyes home to a million reflected stars...a mystery of the ages, just like Abydos..*

Daniel felt a sob try to escape around the gag Apophis had tied too tightly around his mouth. Jack had to be close…he'd promised..

A shiver that had nothing to do with coldness or pain rippled through Daniel's tired body. Jack would try...he knew that. But as time wore on Daniel knew that help might not reach him in time.
And his heart grieved that his friends…most likely Jack...might be forced to kill him. Daniel sent a small prayer skyward that Jack would accept the guilt...and the consequences...of that failure and not allow it to destroy him.

Daniel hoped that he would have the opportunity to absolve his friend of that guilt before he died.
And took Apophis with him.

 

Part 15 by PHO

"My Lord Apophis?" Lo'wn approached his master timorously, uncertain how the Goa'uld Lord would take his news.

"What?" Apophis' gaze never wavered from the window.

"My Lord, the caverns have been breached."

"Indeed. ... When?"

The reaction was *not* what the First Prime had anticipated. He caught himself frowning, albeit briefly, and quickly schooled his features into the emotionless display his master preferred. "Just now, my Lord. The second alarm just sounded."

*This* brought a reaction. The Goa'uld's eyes narrowed as he whirled to face his Jaffa. "*Second* alarm. The first has not yet been reported."

"It did not go off, my Lord." Lo'wn braced for the reaction he knew would come.

It was not long in coming. A heavy ornamental vase flew savagely across the room, shattering into a million shards of color. "Imbeciles! Is it the Tau'ri?"

"I..I do not know, my Lord."

"Then make the determination quickly. Do *not* fail me in this."

"I will return with the answer shortly, my Lord." Lo'wn bowed repeatedly as he backed away.
Apophis turned to stare out the window again. "And, Lo'wn. The guard that set the first alarm. Have him killed. ... Slowly."
……………….

"Dammit to hell! Shit!" Jack O'Neill hit the wall of the narrow corridor in frustration.

Makepeace moved quickly around the other man. "Well, isn't this special?"

The rock fall blocking what used to be the left hand passageway appeared to be recent. Oddly, the right hand passageway remained clear. Makepeace growled angrily. "Well, doesn't that beat all.

Right's clear, and it's the wrong damn way. ... What are you doing?"

Jack was kneeling, staring at the rocks. He reached forward, and pulled a small scrap of material from a jagged edge farthest to the left. "What does this look like?"

Makepeace took the scrap from him. "Like the robes from those dudes we saw earlier. And that means..." Running his fingers down the walls nearest the fallen rocks, he suddenly paused and smiled. "Breeze."

"Sweet." Jack rose swiftly. "Let's see if we can get this open."

"Switches?"

"Levers, buttons, could be anything. AH HA! What have we here?" Jack slipped a finger into a narrow opening. "I suppose I should say 'Open Sesame'?"

"Just push it or pull it or bite it, O'Neill!" Makepeace's hands were talking as rapidly as he was.

"Patience, Makepeace." Jack pulled the oddly shape rock toward him. The cavern wall slid silently into itself and the men found themselves staring at the smooth, textured walls of what could only be ... the palace. Or to be precise... the dungeon. Jack felt his spirits rise. They were close to Daniel. They just *had* to be.
……………………..

"I am *not* wearing that." Sam eyed the outfit Aris had produced with disgust. Actually, there was not enough material present, in Sam's opinion, to even qualify as an outfit. She wasn't even sure it would count as a bikini.

"Oh, really, Major, I'm told the Tau'ri women *enjoy* the attention such clothing inspi.." Aris's reply was choked off by Teal'c's large hands positioned strategically around his throat.

"Major Carter does not wish to wear what you have presented." The Jaffa tightened his hold, lifting the alien mere inches off of the floor and remaining expressionless as Aris attempted to nod his understanding, all the while pinned against the wall of the abandoned house in which they'd taken refuge.

"It's okay, Teal'c, put him down. We still *may* need him."

"As you wish, Major Carter."

Aris rubbed his sore throat, and eyed the Jaffa closely as he pulled yet another dress from his travel bag.

Sam positively growled. "BOCH!"

The alien raised his hands and backed away from the SG-1 pair. "Honest, Major, I'm not trying anything funny. *This* really is what the women in the city will be wearing. You'll draw too much attention dressed like you are."

She glared at the flimsy material for a moment, before snatching it from his hands and disappearing into another room of the small house. "Boch, if you're lying, you will *not* have to worry about Teal'c."
…………………….

They'd gone left, hoping that Teal'c's memories had applied to the palace as well as the caverns. The hall turned into more of a ramp as it circled upward, the angle of the slope growing more steep the farther they traveled. Makepeace kept a close eye on his counterpart. With every step, Jack was once again sinking into an unnatural despair. The Marine was certain it was due to the lack of guards, or anything else for that matter. A rhythmic thud attracted their attention, and they slid to a halt, senses on the alert for trouble. It was soon apparent that the thudding was actually the footsteps of at least two people. Moving as one, the two Colonels ran quietly back toward a narrow passageway further down the hall. Motioning Makepeace into the dead-end corridor, Jack pointed
quickly to himself, then the Marine's weapon. Makepeace returned the nod, smiling grimly, as he easily picked up on the other man's intention.
………………………..

He awakened with a start, wondering just how long he'd been unconscious *this* time. For a brief, glorious moment, he thought he'd smelled the Abydonian fragrance that Sha're had loved so much. A smile played across his torn lips as he recalled trading two useless credit cards for the formula. He'd later seen the old Abydonian woman with the Mastercard and Visa dangling from her ears.

His road to full awareness was paved with pain, both mental and physical. Tears filled Daniel's eyes as he recalled the hateful images of his beloved wife's actions as the Goa'uld, Amaunet. He grieved for the sorrow he knew she felt as she helplessly ordered the death of an entire town on another desert planet, and other, even more unspeakable acts.

Daniel sensed he didn't have long. That soon the Goa'uld games would begin anew, and he'd once more succumb to Apophis' sadistic attentions. Something in him knew the end was near; that the monster inside the poor old Egyptian host was growing weary of the cycle of pain he was inflicting.

God, he was so tired, so very tired. Tired of fighting, tired of living, and very, very tired of dying.
……………………………

"I feel ridiculous." Makepeace muttered as he clanked noisily up the hall. Both guards were now unconscious, bound and gagged in the dead end corridor. And Jack was pretending to be a prisoner. So far. So good. The Marine continued his diatribe. "This thing weighs a ton. And it's hot as hell." There was no reaction from his comrade. Makepeace placed a gloved hand on Jack's shoulder, pulling him to a stop. "O'Neill?"

"I'm fine."

"I don't think so. Should I go on alone?"

Jack shook his head. "No. I can do what's necessary."

"Are you certain?"

The pain in the Air Force Colonel's eyes caused the Marine to visibly wince as the other man replied quietly. "Yes. I owe it to Daniel. If ... if anyone's going to take his life, it'll be me."
……………………….

The heat in the chamber was almost unbearable. Sweat flowed freely from every pour, and the pain, he'd never felt such pain. For the first time in his memory, he wanted to die, to surrender forever the life that was so very precious to him. But he'd see *him* in hell first ... what a laugh, this had to *be* hell, or at least the closest thing he'd ever seen to it. An incredibly strong hand jerked his head backwards, and he watched with horror as the brand neared his face. No, please no! Wasn't it enough that he *died*? He could feel the heat from the brand as it grew ever closer...

"NOOOOOOOO!" His scream echoed through the chamber as the brand ... and full consciousness, hit home. Apophis sat bolt upright in his bed, his hand drawn unconsciously to the dreadfully misshapen and scarred portion of his face. Gasping, he waited a moment for his composure to return. "LO'WN!"

The First Prime was there instantly. Apophis wondered briefly if the Jaffa ever slept, then discounted the thought as unimportant. "Yes, my Lord?"

"I grow tired of the games. Have *him* brought to the holy place, and notify my priests that the ceremony of transfer is to begin... immediately.

 

Part 16 by Jmas

The hooded stranger watched from the shadows as two Jaffa unlocked the chains that bound the barely conscious human to the floor. The manacles at his feet were removed before he was roughly dragged toward the entrance of the chamber reserved for Goa'uld ceremonies. The stranger smiled with anticipation as he realized Apophis had reached the end of his game. Apophis intended to take this young human as a host this very day.

The stranger considered his next move. He knew there were hidden passages that would take him into the ceremonial chamber. Once the ritual began, Apophis would be vulnerable, attended only by his first prime. Yes, that would be the best opportunity to exact his revenge on Apophis.
The stranger signaled his attendants to follow him into the shadows. He wanted to reach the chamber before the transfer occurred. He preferred to have Apophis remain in his current host. It pleased him to see the once-haughty System Lord so horribly disfigured, to see the self-revulsion it caused.

The stranger smiled again.

If his plan worked, Apophis' discomfiture had only begun..
………………….

Aris smiled at the major's obvious and tantalizing attributes. The clothing he had provided was more than a little flattering.

*Who knew there was actually a figure under all that olive drab.. *

As Carter turned toward him, Aris tried to school his face into an expression less leering. He was more than convinced that the good major would follow through on her previous threat.

They had made their way into the palace with relative ease. Aris' cover story that he had pressing business with Apophis had gotten them through the inner and outer gates fairly quickly. To Aris that fact alone spoke of the tenuousness of Apophis' control. The palace troops were just a few steps short of incompetent...a fact he hoped would work to their advantage.

As they attempted to blend into the shadows of the empty corridor, Carter took possession of her weapon with a satisfied smile. Aris couldn't help musing that she looked like some sort of warrior princess from a bad holo-fic.

"So where do we go from here?" she asked.

Aris shrugged his shoulders. "My guess would be the throne room."

Carter nodded, motioning for him to lead the way. Aris wondered if it was because she knew he had been here before...or the fact that she knew following her was more than a little…distracting.

Suppressing *that* particular speculation, Aris nodded and moved out.
………………

Jack knew they were in trouble...or, more importantly, Daniel was.

They had found the throne room....and the chains...and the blood..

Jack knew right down to his bones that it was Daniel's blood.

So much.

Jack had known intellectually that Apophis hadn't brought Daniel here for tea and conversation, but this.

If Daniel were still alive, it would be a miracle. Or a sarcophagus….which in a lot of ways would be worse. The thought of Daniel locked into a cycle of life, death, and life was almost as painful to contemplate as the possibility that Daniel could even now * be * Apophis.

*This whole damn situation is too much to handle, * Jack despaired. *How am I gonna look into those eyes…those eyes that trusted me from the very first to make everything okay…and kill my friend. God, I can't do this anymore. *

"Jack!" Makepeace's voice was a little panicky and Jack realized the marine must have been calling to him for quite awhile.

"Yeah, I'm here. I'm okay."

Makepeace gave Jack a patented glare. "Like hell you are. Jack, there's a blood trail. We need to go now."

Jack's eyes followed Makepeace's gesture. There were drops and smears of blood leading out of the room into a dark corridor. He took a deep breath, trying to pull himself together, and nodded.

Makepeace led off but waited for Jack to come alongside him. Jack jumped a little as a hand touched his shoulder and squeezed it.

Jack looked into the big marine's eyes with a grateful nod. "Thanks, Robert."

Makepeace smiled grimly. "Let's not borrow trouble, Jack. We need to find the kid."

Jack sighed again. "Right. Let's go."
……………….

Daniel awoke to a red haze of pain.

He vaguely remembered the guards dragging….wherever he was now.and tying him down to the stone altar. The gag was still there and painfully tight, nearly choking him with its dryness. Peering through the haze, Daniel realized where he was, the symbols above him were frighteningly familiar.

This was a place of ritual, a place where the Goa'uld performed that most gruesome of ceremonies…the taking of a host.

God.

Daniel tried to fight the rush of revulsion and panic that swept over him, but realized that it really didn't matter anymore.

Jack wasn't going to make it.

Apophis was going to win.

Daniel was aware of someone…Lo'wn…cleaning his wounds. Daniel entertained the absurd thought that Apophis must want a clean body to take over. Some vague region of Daniel's brain wondered why Apophis hadn't put him back in the sarcophagus before going through the ritual.

*He wants me weak, * Daniel realized. *He thinks he's nearly broken my spirit and I won't put up much resistance when he tries to take over. God, don't let this happen.

Jack...please.

I don't want to live like that.

Like Sha're did..

Kill me if you need to, but don't let me live that way.

Daniel felt a protesting scream build at the back of his throat, but could not release it around the dry cloth in his mouth.

Lo'wn hesitated in his work, looking into Daniel's eyes. "You are afraid?"

Daniel nodded, beyond caring what this man thought of him.

Lo'wn smiled in unexpected sympathy. "I do not blame you for that. To be a Jaffa is a difficult life, but I would not wish to become a host. I will remember you, you fought well."

The statement was so surreal that all Daniel could do was blink at the big Jaffa.

A scraping noise accompanied the opening of the door.

Apophis had arrived.
……………………………………….

Part 17 by PHO

'So much blood. He's too weak. He won't be able to fight *it*.' Jack flashed back to the horrific moment when Hathor's little buddy had taken up residence in his head. The pain had been monstrous, and the thoughts ... The sheer venom that the little creature had for mankind in general, and him in particular, had been almost overwhelming in itself. It had only taken a few minutes for the Tok'ra agent to lower him into the cryogenic chamber, but it had seemed to be hours. The intensity of the pain as the Goa'uld fought for control of *his* mind and body, while the beast inside his head assailed his thoughts with promises of more pain to come, had ended with the freezing process. The creature's death scream had given him migraines for weeks, and memories for eternity. Now his young friend was faced with the same horror, and there would be no cryogenic chamber to offer him sweet release. 'I wouldn't want to live like that. I'd rather die. Daniel would rather die.' A nightmare vision of vivid blue eyes begging for release only to be submerged by the glowing orbs of the symbiont almost took him to his knees. A strong hand on his arm saved him from a fall.

"Jack?"

"Please let this be a dream. Just a very bad dream." Jack's voice was quiet ... too quiet.

Makepeace almost didn't hear the tormented whisper as the pair slipped quietly along the halls, following an increasingly large trail of blood. He knew instinctively that no reply was needed, or expected. Feeling quickly under his Jaffa attire for his hidden Zat gun, he only now wondered why the guards they'd taken out were not armed with the device. The thought breezed through almost unnoticed as he watched his Air Force counterpart. The other man wore an expression more closely aligned with the walking dead, than anything else Makepeace could think of. Daniel's death at Jack's hands would destroy two members of SG-1. Makepeace could not, would not allow that to happen.

The Marine tightened his grip on the Zat gun as he came to a decision. If Daniel was Goa'uld, Makepeace would strike the fatal blow.
………………………………………..

"Holy Hannah!" Sam stared in horror at the manacles on the floor of the throne room. The floor beneath them was slick with the red stuff, already turning brownish-red as it dried. "D..Daniel?"

The Jaffa was frowning. "I fear it is, Major Carter."

"But where is he now?"

Aris spoke up, his expression unreadable, as he knelt to probe the manacles and test the consistency of the reddish liquid. "With this much blood-loss, either the sarcophagus, or..."

"Or what, Boch?"

"Or the Hie'la Kai'." Teal'c added softly, more than a touch of anger in his voice.

"The what?" Sam waited on the answer, knowing instinctively that she was *not* going to like it.

Aris replied for the glowering Jaffa. "Hie'la Kai' ... the place of beginnings. The Goa'uld holy of holies, where ceremonies are performed."

"Transference?" Sam gulped as she spoke the word.

"Among others."

Sam thought for a brief moment. "Aris, do you know where this chamber is?"

"I do."

"Then we go there. If Daniel's in the sarcophagus, then he's safe, at least for the time being. The same can't be said of the other choice."

Teal'c nodded his agreement as Aris stood upright again. The alien sighed heavily. "There's something else. There are booted footprints in the blood, not just Jaffa tread. Either O'Neill or

Makepeace has been here ... recently, but I do not know which one."

"Not both?" Sam's horrified question echoed in the chamber.

Aris looked truly sad, all trace of his arrogance gone. "I'm sorry, Major, really I am, but only one of them made it this far. At least, that's the story that the footprints tell."

The young Major nodded her understanding. Losses could be dealt with later. "Okay. Take us to the chamber."
……………………………………………….

Apophis had arrived. The scraping of the door on the marble floor alone would have given it away. But the expression in the eyes of the First Prime only served to increase the panic in Daniel's.

'Please God. Please.'

Lo'wn stepped to one side and bowed low before *his* god. A dark hand, roughened with labor in the mines of Netu, none-too-gently took hold of Daniel's face. "I am pleased, Lo'wn. His appearance is no longer displeasing to me."

'Wish I could say the same thing, you sorry son-of-a-bitch.' Daniel's thoughts translated into a repulsed glare as he bit down hard on the gag in frustration.

Apophis smiled benignly and stroked the young prisoner's cheek, then brutally seized Daniel's chin and held it fast. "Look Lo'wn, weak, and frightened, he still resists. It will be a pleasure subjugating him. ... It is time."

Daniel shuddered involuntarily as the words struck home. 'Jack? Now would be a good time.'

"Oh, I do not think so... slave!"

Held fast by his bonds, Daniel could not see the latest arrival, but Apophis and Lo'wn certainly could. From the corner of his eye, Daniel saw the First Prime pale, and collapse, disappearing from his line of sight. And Apophis himself ... Daniel was surprised to note that Goa'ulds could turn that particular shade of green.

Apophis' mouth opened and closed, but for a moment, no words would come. Finally, a strangled,

"My Lord Sokar" squeaked past almost paralyzed vocal chords.

"*ON ...YOUR ... KNEES!*"

The malevolence in the voice chilled Daniel to the bone, and the name. Dear God. Not two of them.

Already weakened by blood loss, and fear, he was unable to contain the single tear that streaked down his cheek. Dark shadows played with his vision as angry words filled the air. Finally succumbing to his exhaustion, the young man welcomed the darkness.
…………………………………..

The blood trail led to a solitary door. O'Neill and Makepeace listened carefully, but no sound was forthcoming. Makepeace kicked the door in, and O'Neill burst through, followed by the Marine, both men with weapons at the ready.

The room was deserted, except for a solitary figure on an altar in the center of the room. Multi-colored lights from the ceiling cast an eerie glow on the motionless form of Daniel Jackson.

"*Daniel!*" Jack started toward his friend, only to be held back by Makepeace. "What the... That's Daniel, and he's hurt!"

Makepeace frowned, and carefully aimed his Zat gun at the prostrate form. "I can *see* that, Jack, but he's also ... unrestrained."

Part 18 by Jmas

Unrestrained.

Jack felt his heart sink at Makepeace's words. They wouldn't have left Daniel here alone and unbound…unless…

No! It couldn't be true. Jack wouldn't allow it.

Jack looked at Makepeace, unable to find the words but knowing that Makepeace understood what he was thinking.

Makepeace turned to Jack sadly, still keeping the Zat trained on Daniel's still form. "Jack."

Makepeace seemed to be struggling for the words. "I know how you feel, believe me. But you have to face facts...that's not Daniel anymore."

Jack could only shake his head mutely, every fiber of his being protesting the cold reality.

Makepeace put his free hand to Jack's shoulder, shaking gently. "Jack, please. We have to do it while he's vulnerable. You know it's the only way. We have to do it for Daniel."

For Daniel. The words sunk into Jack's stunned brain with numbing clarity. They had to help Daniel...even if it meant..

For a moment, Jack's world centered on the quiet face before him. The pain Daniel had suffered was etched clearly on his still features, all too evident even in sleep. Apophis had been merciless, that much was clear. Bruises and welts stood starkly against the pale skin, blood flowed sluggishly from numerous wounds over the arms and torso before pooling beneath the body and dripping to the floor in a deadly rhythm. It was a miracle Daniel had even survived...a miracle that Jack couldn't help but curse.

Daniel. His friend...the friend of his heart…the steady voice of reason and fairness…the conscience who had grown to become so much more. It couldn't be ending this way.

It wasn't fair, but no power that was supposedly in control of such things seemed very concerned with granting Daniel fairness. From the very beginning Daniel's life had been one blow after another, barely allowing the young man time to recover before stripping him of still another facet of his life that Daniel had allowed to become important. It was a constant source of amazement to Jack that Daniel had turned out as gentle and trusting as he still was....had been.

Jack swallowed hard against the burning lump in his throat, nodding to Makepeace as he said a quiet goodbye to his friend and turned away.

At the first blast of the Zat gun, Jack felt his knees give and he hit the ground, bracing himself for the sound of the second...killing…shot.
…………………………………………………………….

Makepeace felt his heart leap into his throat as he pulled the trigger the first time. Daniel barely reacted to the energy blast, but Makepeace could feel the expected pain echoing throughout his own body. He was committed to doing this, to sparing Jack this particular guilty memory, but he hadn't expected it to be so hard.

He kept flashing on the image of the kid as he limped down the Tok'ra tunnels underneath Hathor's stronghold. As hurt as he was Daniel had tried to help one of Makepeace's fallen men. He'd had to drag Daniel away, force him to leave the injured man behind. Daniel was one of the last of the good guys, and a source of constant amazement to Makepeace…though he would never have admitted it.

He liked the stubborn scientist more than he'd ever admit.

Makepeace felt his hand shake in a way it hadn't since boot camp. As many times as he'd had to pull the trigger in battle this…execution…was just plain not right.

But it had to be done.

Makepeace raised the weapon again, fighting the tremors to take careful aim.

"Stop!"
………………………………………………………………

Sam couldn't believe what she was seeing.

They had come through the heavy door in time to see Colonel O'Neill fall to his knees and Colonel Makepeace discharge the Zat gun. Shock had almost kept her from shouting in time to stop the second shot.

"It's Daniel."

Makepeace wheeled toward her in obvious anger. "We know that, Major Carter. But he's also been compromised."

Sam jumped to Daniel's side. "No, sir. I mean it *is* Daniel. There is no Goa'uld here."

Makepeace looked down at Daniel for a long moment, finally releasing a deep sigh. "You're sure?"

Sam touched Daniel's head a moment, reaching for that part of Jolinar that allowed her to sense the presence of Goa'ulds. "Only Daniel, sir. He hasn't been taken as a host."

Makepeace looked down at the weapon in his hand, his face noticeably growing paler. "Oh, God." Makepeace threw the gun against the wall, shattering it, before stalking away and turning his back on them.

Colonel O'Neill sank down further, sitting down on the ground and rubbing his head as if trying to push something away. Sam stooped to check on him while Teal'c and Aris moved to Daniel's side. Sam had finally put together all the small clues she'd noticed on the trip here...the colonel had been under orders to kill Daniel if he'd become a host.

"Sir, it's okay. Daniel wasn't taken over."

"He is gravely injured, but should recover with medical attention." Teal'c's quiet voice informed them.

The colonel nodded and slowly the color seemed to return to his face. He looked up finally, reaching out a hand for Sam to help him rise. Sam watched the colonel walk over to Daniel and place a hand on their friend's forehead. Many expressions flowed over the colonel's features, not the least of which was guilt.

"Too close, major.." The voice was barely a whisper.

Sam nodded. "Too damn close, sir."
……………………………………….

Daniel felt a light touch on his forehead as the darkness refused to let him hide any longer. He opened his eyes slowly, dreading what he would see. The last thing he remembered was Apophis standing over him and somebody entering the room.

As the mists cleared from his vision, Daniel thought he saw..

"Jack.?" The dry grating whisper sounded weak even to himself. Daniel blinked hard, trying to convince himself that what he was seeing was real.

Jack smiled, eyes misting over in something Daniel couldn't quite understand.

" 'S okay?"

Jack laughed softly, his hand stroking Daniel's forehead. Daniel wondered what was wrong with Jack, but couldn't muster the energy to ask. Jack would tell him….sooner or later.

"Jack?"

"Yeah, Danny?"

"Can we go now?"
………………………………………………………………
Conclusion by Pho

Daniel fought to suppress a groan as Teal'c gently lifted him into his arms. "O'Neill, we do not have much time. If the ceremony had gone as planned, the new 'Apophis' would even now be rising from the altar, with his First Prime in attendance. The remaining Jaffa will arrive shortly to escort their new god to the sanctuary of the sarcophagus."

"He's right." Aris interjected, "The uglies will probably be along soon. We gotta roll. I'll lead. Major Carter, if you'll follow me, then Teal'c with the good Doctor, and our two Colonels..."

"*Boch!* Who died and left you in charge?" Jack's face went from ghost pale to beet red in a matter of seconds. "*I'll* make the deci... oh, for crying out loud. What he said. Move it people! Teal'c?"

"Daniel Jackson will be safe with me, O'Neill."

Jack nodded, then pointed toward the door. Aris cautiously disappeared through the doorway followed closely by Sam. Daniel, held firmly in the big Jaffa's arms, was not far behind. Jack moved quickly to Makepeace, who hadn't moved from where he'd leaned his head against the wall. "Robert, we gotta move."

Makepeace whirled, and nodded his understanding, but failed to completely suppress the self-loathing in his eyes. The Marine Colonel slipped wordlessly from the room, Jack on his heals.

They almost made it to the underground caverns undetected, but timing is everything in *any* venture, particularly an escape, and theirs had just been blown. It was only a small group of Jaffa which rounded the bend, but... Fortunately the new Jaffa were rather undisciplined, and stared at the SG group for a moment in shock, allowing Carter and Aris to open covering fire for the remainder of the team. Makepeace slipped around Teal'c, made helpless by the injured team member held securely in his arms, and dove into the caverns. Teal'c counted silently to three, giving the Marine time to clear the front of the doorway, and followed him.

Jack added his own supportive fire to Carter and Aris' angry rounds. "Carter, Boch, into the cavern."

The Major needed no encouragement as she sprinted for the door, only to find she was *still* following the alien. Jack rolled across the hallway, diving through the door, just as a round of weapons fire from the angry Jaffa embedded itself in his former location. The SG-1 commander had barely cleared the doorway when a Zat blast closed it permanently. Covering his head to avoid the rocks, Jack heard Sam hurl language *most* unbecoming a lady at the alien, then felt her small hand on his arm, assisting him to his feet. "Language, Major." He chided softly, inwardly grinning at her blush of embarrassment. Addressing the rest of the team, he nodded at his Marine counterpart. "Makepeace, you're on point."

"But Colonel..."

"*We've* been through these tunnels, Makepeace knows the way out."

"Yes, sir." Sam moved quickly to Teal'c's side, and placed her hand on their now unconscious friend's forehead. "We need to get him back to the gate. He's far too warm. And, before you ask, I've got the remote."

"Good work, Major. Move out." O'Neill silently thanked, and not for the first time, whichever petty paper pusher at the Pentagon, had seen fit to assign Samantha Carter to his unit.

Makepeace wound his way through the tunnels, smiling inwardly as he moved into each new passageway undeterred. Sighing with relief, he realized that there should be only one tunnel left to go.

Turning, he started to announce that they were almost home free, when he saw what the others had missed ... a secret passageway, opening wide to reveal a small band of Jaffa guards. Boch had already slipped passed him and was headed for the planet's surface, while O'Neill, and Carter had their attention focused behind them. Teal'c, and Daniel, were sitting ducks. With a cry of alarm, the Marine hurled himself at the helpless pair, shoving Teal'c out of the line of fire, and barely avoiding being hit himself.

Teal'c stumbled backwards, struggling to retain both his footing and his hold on the injured man. Jack whirled and instantly opened fire on the newly arrived Jaffa. Carter used her incredible speed to lend Teal'c a supportive hand. Boch, meantime, had ducked back inside, and aimed his Zat gun at the top of the hidden door. The resulting cave-in trapped the attacking Jaffa behind a wall of stone. Jack's sigh of relief was short-lived as Makepeace groaned and clutched his arm, blood streaming from an open wound on his head. "Shit, damn, hell." Struggling to his feet, he managed a choked, "Let's get the hell out of here."

"Robert?"

"It's nothing. Broken arm, and there are at least two of you, Jack..."
……………………………………….

"Jack? Jack?"

The quiet, solemn voice broke through O'Neill's exhausted stare off into the distance. "What?" The SG-1 commander started violently and quickly lowered his voice for fear of waking the sleeping scientist. The past twenty-four hours had been a whirlwind of activity since they'd stumbled through the gate, emotionally drained, but with only two physical casualties... Makepeace, and ... Daniel. The emotional scars of Daniel's abduction would take much longer to come to terms with. "Robert?"

"How is he?" Makepeace also spoke in muted tones.

"Dr. Fraiser says he'll be fine. With time ... and rest." Jack's eyes never left the too-pale face on the pillow. "How's the arm?"

The Marine shrugged. "It's okay. Itches like crazy, though. I really *hate* plaster."

"I don't think I ever thanked you for shielding Daniel and Teal'c when those Jaffa showed up. You're lucky you only got a concussion and broken arm when that wall collapsed."

"Least I could do, after what happened."

Something in the other man's voice pulled Jack's attention away from Daniel. The Marine's face was pale and drawn. "Robert..."

"Don't say it, Jack. I know everything's my fault, and I am truly sorry."

"Excuse me? Sorry for *what*?"

"God, Jack. I *lost* him in the first place, for Christ's sake. And then, when you found him, *I* tried to kill him."

"Let's put blame where it belongs. Cantor Boch would have gotten his dirty paws on him no matter

who'd been with Daniel. ... And, and I was going to *let* you kill him."

"Only because I talked you into it."

"I should have..."

"I fired the GOD DAMN ZAT at him! If Carter hadn't gotten there, I would have *KILLED* him."

"And *I* would have let you. God, Robert, of all people, I should've known Daniel wasn't a Goa'uld."

"How the hell do you figure that? You don't have snake memories."

"And neither, my friend, do you."

Makepeace sheepishly met his counterpart's grin. "So... We both screwed up and Jackson's alive because he's incredibly lucky?"

Jack shrugged and placed a gentle hand on the too warm forehead. "Lucky? He's got an odd kind of luck. Gets him in trouble, then saves him at the last possible minute."

"Pauline."

"What?"

"Old silent flicks. 'Perils of Pauline.' The 'heroine' ended up tied to a railroad track or in the path of stampeding cattle or something just as stupid in every episode. Always got rescued in the nick of time."

"So you're saying that Daniel's the SGC's 'Pauline'."

Makepeace grinned. "Yep."

Jack just shook his head. "Unbelievable. But we better get moving. The Tok'ra have word on *them*."

"Apophis and Sokar?"

"Yeah, from the little I've gathered, they're both missing and presumed alive."

"Shit!"

The two men stared for a moment longer at Daniel before backing toward the door. "He's breathing easier."

"Ya think?"

"Yeah, and his color's coming back."

Jack sighed. "Bout damn time. Let's book it."

"Oh, Jack, about Pauline?"

"What about him, uh, her?"

"She was always rescued by a dude named 'John', Jonathon."

"Don't go there, Makepeace."
…………………………………………………………………………

Three months later:

"Jackson, it's *time* to eat." Makepeace snarled for the third time since the announcement had come through his ear phone.

The young archaeologist merely waved a hand absently in the Marine Colonel's direction. "Later... The mix of cuneiform and hiero..." His voice faded away as his brush uncovered yet another symbol.

"Problem?" O'Neill asked as he approached Makepeace.

"Cuneiform and hieroglyphics." Makepeace responded dryly. "Some sort of mix. Your pet archaeologist doesn't want dinner."

"I see. Let me try. Daniel?"

"Hmmm?"

"Dinner."

"Ah ha."

"Now, Daniel."

"Ah... Hmmm?"

Makepeace traded smiles with Jack. "Plan B?"

"Ya think?"

"I do."

"Ditto."

Twin shadows covered the wall, blocking the light from where Daniel was working. A strangled yelp followed closely behind iron grips on the archaeologist's arms. "*Colonel*, *JAAAACK* PUT ME DOWN!"

*fin*

 

 

 

 

 

 

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