>Letting Go
by Marzipan77
Chapter 1
Deception and Reality – Last Stand – Extended Scene
The grating sound of the large door rising spun Daniel on his heels. Dammit! Was Yu coming to finish what he’d started in the council chamber? No, of course not, he nodded to himself. He just wasn’t that lucky. It was her: Osiris—Sarah—he hid the communicator behind his back, but he’d never felt more completely exposed standing there dressed in the thin disguise of Yu’s slave. It was almost as if he stood naked before her, the feral smile of a predator turning Sarah’s face into something less than human.
“Daniel Jackson,” Osiris purred in that thick double rasp. “You’re a rather long way from home, aren’t you?”
The Tok’ra, the SGC, Hammond, Jack, they’d sent him here as the hunter, armed with only his hard-won understanding of the Goa’uld and a weapon that might be a preemptive strike in a centuries old conflict. But all the scheming of the Tok’ra or the political posturing of Earth’s government still left Daniel alone against the vicious Goa’uld who’d beaten Steven nearly to death and would have gladly murdered him with his ribbon device, and was now wearing the brilliant woman he once loved like a costume. And here, alone with her, Daniel was the prey.
“What are you doing here,” she growled, sliding a slim blade from its sheath beneath her robe. Light glinted from the needle-sharp tip and into the golden eyes of the Goa’uld, and Daniel took an unconscious step backwards.
“What, me?” He shrugged casually, trying to appear calm while gripping the Tok’ra communicator with hands slick with sweat. “Right now?” He backed until his shoulders were pressed against the wall, his gaze twitching between the Goa’uld’s eyes and the blade of the dagger that flicked closer and closer to his face. “Nothing.” Daniel shook his head. “Why? You have something in mind?” He tried to gather his scattered thoughts to form a coherent plan that came away with him alive and her—his thoughts cut off abruptly as he felt the tip of the knife touch the skin just beneath his chin.
“Hmm. Insolence.” She pressed closer, hissing. “Tell me what subversions you are a part of or I will bleed you dry.”
Her long fingers wrapped around his throat. A sense memory threw Daniel back to the pyramid in Egypt where the sounds of Steven’s labored breathing mixed with his own grunts of pain. His right hand slipped against the slick surface of the communicator and he nearly dropped it when he felt the thin needle of the Tok’ra ring catch against the switch. Could he… was there enough…
He slapped his hand against her wrist, holding on tightly when her muscles spasmed and her hand clenched bruisingly on his neck. A moment later she faltered, her fierce gaze cloudy, skittering away from his to look about her for something familiar. Her hands dropped and Daniel tried to cover his rush of satisfaction with the blank mask of a lo’taur.
Hands carefully hidden behind his back again, Daniel lowered his head submissively. “May I help you?”
Osiris stepped back. “Who are you?” the Goa’uld demanded, immediately on the offensive even though confusion flashed across the host’s face.
“I am Lord Yu’s servant. These are my Master’s quarters.” Daniel forced himself to stillness as his heart pounded and his mind screamed questions. What did that mean to Osiris? What did she see when she looked at him now? Just another faceless, nameless human—a slave—far beneath contempt? Did she—he—still see Daniel’s face but now without recognition? Even if the Reol chemical in the ring allowed the user to implant a false memory, the name ‘Jarren’ would mean nothing to Osiris. And what about Sarah? What was left of her—trapped, helpless—did she still know him? Was she screaming for help? He would have to overwrite Sarah’s memory of Daniel Jackson with something else, something just as powerful as the woman’s true memories, or give Osiris something to keep him busy, a more necessary, more immediate focus.
“You must have the wrong room, I’ve gotten lost a few times myself. These corridors all seem to look the same,” he babbled, desperate in the face of the Goa’uld’s anger, playing for time. Could he let her walk away with only blurred memories of stumbling into Yu’s chamber or would that lead to more questions and suspicions?
Osiris had turned away, sheathing the blade, when Daniel realized the Goa’uld had given him the perfect solution.
“If you don’t mind my asking, isn’t it forbidden to bring weapons to the summit?”
Sarah’s features were suddenly tainted with the superior posturing of the being within her. Osiris narrowed her eyes and raked Daniel with his cold stare. “If you speak of it again, I promise, they will be your last words.”
As the heavy door slipped down on the rigid back of the Goa’uld, Daniel couldn’t hide a momentary smile. It worked—now all that Osiris would see when he looked at Yu’s lo’taur was the cocky slave who dared to question him, not Sarah’s former lover. Okay, he’d made another enemy within the gathering of System Lords, but he’d gained some time—hopefully enough to let him find a solution that would save Sarah.
“Jacob—you still there?” he snapped into the Tok’ra communicator.
“Yeah, what happened?”
“Osiris and I kinda got into it,” Daniel glossed over an explanation. “The chemical worked.”
“Why didn’t you just release the poison?” Jacob’s words were clipped, impatient, and Daniel knew why. The mission. He’d stood between the Tok’ra and their goals again; stood squarely with his hand on the trigger and refused to pull it.
He closed his eyes. This was too much—too much to expect. The line between tactical gain and murder had always stood out so clearly to him, but seemed to blur into easy invisibility when the men and women he worked with were focused on a goal. Seeing beyond the individual, looking only at the strategic objective to the elimination of everything else had been held up to Daniel as something he should emulate: an attitude he should make it his ambition to embrace and perfect. Years ago it had been Sam he had confronted with the notion that becoming detached, purposefully disconnecting from the pain and emotion of the humanity around them, as the military philosophy insisted, might not be the only way to live. Daniel’s eyes could not look at an alien village, the remnants of a civilization, or a group of hosts and slaves without seeing individuals—could not help but focus on each single human life.
One human life—that’s what it had always been about. It had been the life of a self-loathing, nasty AF colonel that had Daniel aim a staff weapon at a Jaffa for the first time on Abydos, and the thought of his wife’s slavery that had tightened his finger on an MP5 and rid Chulak of a tank full of infant Goa’uld. No value could be balanced against the loss of one life no matter what supposedly more practical minds conceived. The loss of one was too much and the saving of one was worth any possible effort. Daniel had studied societies ancient and modern and knew that when a culture devalued life, that culture itself soon died. The Jewish Talmud stated it best: “Save one life; save the world.”
“Daniel!”
He clenched his teeth at Jacob’s sharp command. Why couldn’t he simply press the button? “Because that would have killed Sarah,” he answered firmly, needing the Tok’ra to hear him. “There’s got to be a way we can save her. Right?” he insisted when Jacob held his silence. “You’ve taken symbiotes out of hosts without killing them before.”
“We’d have to get her out of there first.”
“So?” Jacob wasn’t listening—the Tok’ra had a plan and there was no room for any latitude—no detours along the military marching line to destruction. Daniel thought Jacob might be different. He’d seemed reluctant, almost sorry, to send Daniel into the Goa’uld’s den. But apparently the combination of AF general and centuries old Tok’ra made Jacob/Selmac just as blind as others he could think of.
“Daniel—there’s a bigger picture here,” the Tok’ra’s voice was a study of reasonableness, but Daniel felt himself dig in his metaphorical heels. No. He wouldn’t listen—he couldn’t. Jacob tried again. “You have to release the poison—do it now.”
Orders. He’d never really been good with orders. He shook his head. No. He could not be the person that started the mass murder of host and Jaffa with Sarah’s death. Daniel might have volunteered for this insane mission but no one had asked Sarah how she felt about being a sacrifice.
“You know what’s at stake, Daniel. No single person’s life is more important.”
It was. It had to be. Maybe not his—he lowered his head, a wry smile hovering around his lips, he’d figured that out some time ago. But if one single innocent life was worthless and it came up short in the cosmic balance, then how could anything be measured? Was it right to throw Sarah’s life away in order to protect thousands? Jacob said yes, and, down deep, Daniel knew that Jack and Sam—even Teal’c would agree. One life versus many. Tears pricked against the back of his eyes. If they were right—if Jack and Jacob were right—then he’d been very, very wrong.
His silence gave him away and Jacob spoke again. “Complete your mission.” Daniel frowned as the pieces fell into place. Of course. If only the quantity of life mattered, if the scale only balanced for the multitude, then his mission finally made sense. Daniel knew he didn’t weigh his own life heavily, but, for some strange reason he’d always assumed his friends—his team—had his back, regarded him more highly than he did himself. Hadn’t Jack always given him grief about putting himself in danger, at risk, needlessly? Well, maybe not recently. Maybe recently Jack had been more angry than worried, more pissed about mission consequences than personal peril. The SGC had made it very clear that skills like cultural analysis and diplomacy were only useful as far as they acquired the technology, the ‘big honking space guns’, that were its real aims. Life’s worth wasn’t intrinsic to them, it was utilitarian.
So, if Daniel’s own life weighed no greater than Sarah’s, one they were willing to disregard in pursuit of the ever-important mission, then it was as easily thrown away. If he was lost, ‘compromised,’ scarred, then the cost was small, especially if he took the System Lords along with him. Seven for one—now that he finally understood the game, he had to admit those were pretty good odds.

A New Game – Last Stand
At least his mind was calm now. Resolved. He could look at Sarah across the council chamber and mourn for her, knowing his act would give the human woman the relief she deserved, just as Teal’c’s final act gave Sha’re some measure of peace. Of course, Daniel still had to remind himself of that every morning when his first thought upon waking was of his wife’s dead face. In his mind, Sha’re forgave him for failing her. Maybe, if he survived, he could convince himself that Sarah did as well.
He didn’t know what Ba’al and Yu had spoken of while he was hiding in his Master’s quarters, but Yu’s boiling rage was back on simmer, and his eyes when he’d glanced at Daniel as he re-entered the chamber were now the cold and calculating eyes of a being who had conquered and held his territories for centuries. Next to him, Osiris was a mere upstart, a weakling, but apparently Yu and Ba’al had decided to let the Goa’uld have his say among this meeting of his betters.
But Osiris’ words were raising the tension level among the System Lords—Daniel could see it in the stiff poses and shifting glances, and could feel it radiating from Yu—it pounded against Daniel’s numb awareness. Osiris talked about weakness, and failure, how the System Lords would most likely lose to their inferior opponents if they could not strengthen this fledgling alliance. Daniel didn’t miss the icy stare directed towards him from Sarah’s eyes when the symbiote within her shaped her lips into warnings about the Goa’uld’s supremacy over “those who threaten our domination”—the Goa’uld clearly reminding Daniel that his little question about weapons at the summit was not forgotten. Yu hadn’t missed it either. Who knew what punishment Daniel’s ‘Master’ would devise for his servant with even more evidence that his lo’taur had purposefully drawn the attention of this new rival. Well, Yu and his rivals would be dead in a few minutes, and the personal slaves thrown into chaos—hopefully—so he would never have to find out.
Daniel slowly drew out the vial of Tok’ra poison. If this worked, he’d take out all of the System Lords, plus a bonus—he fought down a laugh. Jacob and Jack would be so proud.
Ba’al was talking now, addressing Osiris’ request to take part in the Goa’uld summit, to sit among the System Lords and deliberate the fate of millions of Jaffa and human slaves across the galaxy. It was ironic that, with the success of the poison that he held in his hand, Daniel himself had taken those lives into his own hands. His hands—clean now, patterned with well-won calluses and honest working-man’s scrapes and scars—soon to be covered with blood. He fingered the switch, Jacob’s words ringing through his mind. “You know what’s at stake, Daniel. No single person’s life is more important.” The Tok’ra’s voice was so loud that he nearly missed Osiris’ response.
“I am here to represent the vote of another.”
Another? Another what? Daniel hesitated.
“Whom do you serve?” Yu finally asked.
Osiris’ eyes narrowed with scorn. “Anubis,” he spat.
The backlash was immediate and Daniel had to struggle to keep from tightening his fingers on the switch that would release the poison. Ba’al leaped to his feet while the other System Lords snarled and bit out their disbelief, their distrust of this stranger’s claim. Daniel frowned, trying to cut through the paralyzing cold that had settled inside him when he’d reached his decision to act. He didn’t want to think any more, didn’t want to wait, he didn’t want to have to come to grips with this decision again. This couldn’t matter, could it?
The rage and screeching bellows, the jockeying for dominance bounced around him as his mind reeled. Accusations of lying, assertions that the Goa’uld Anubis was dead, that Yu had murdered him, registered—barely—while Daniel grabbed at his fleeing resolve, but he couldn’t hide, couldn’t hold onto the blanket he’d thrown over his head to keep out any more words or demands or feelings when he was certain that he’d finally figured it out. He didn’t want to know, didn’t want to be sent back to teeter between saving one life and saving this mission. But he couldn’t stop the thoughts, the streaming information his mind dredged up—he never could.
Anubis—Anpu—protector of and guide for the soul, god of mummification, ‘Lord of the Hallowed Land’, guiding the dead through the Afterlife towards Osiris. Daniel’s eyes snapped to the woman who was approaching Yu’s throne, striding closer and closer, eyes fixed on the centuries old System Lord. Osiris and Anubis were linked together in Egyptian mythology, with Isis, with Seth. But he’d never heard the name in association with the Goa’uld.
“Was it not enough that he was banished from the System Lords?” she asked in a mockery of mild incredulity.
“Never to be allowed to return,” Yu ground out. Daniel felt all eyes in the room focusing on the confrontation between Yu, leaning forward in his chair, and the upstart Goa’uld before him.
“That was long ago,” Osiris retorted, “and only one System Lord remains from that time.”
There was no question about Osiris’s reference. Surprise, shock, denial—all these emotions flashed across Yu’s face before he pulled down his well-rehearsed mask. So Anubis was old, perhaps as old as Yu, maybe older. He might have access to vast armies, whole systems of planets beyond the reach of this group of System Lords, or of the Tok’ra. He’d been banished from the ranks of the System Lords since before even Ba’al sat among the group, assumed dead, while he hid and gradually rebuilt his power base in such perfect seclusion that the mighty Goa’uld, rulers of the galaxy, didn’t even have a clue that he was still alive.
Daniel felt his own anger rise. Arrogant. Goa’uld and Tok’ra alike, so very arrogant in their absolute conviction that they understood the lines of power that were drawn across the galaxy. He flashed a look of contempt towards the costumed characters gathered in the room and remembered the perfectly composed faces around the conference table on Revanna. Both groups had been utterly confident that their plans for portioning out life and death would prevail—the Goa’uld sure that this temporary alliance would ease all of their fears of any rival, and the Tok’ra just as convinced that the Goa’uld threat could be confined to this small space station to be wiped out at the touch of a button. He mentally added the uniformed figures seated in a very familiar briefing room between concrete walls. They had been just as sure, just as mistakenly certain of their comprehension of this clash of ancient powers.
“He has sent me to ask that you accept him back.” Daniel heard his own contempt echoing in Osiris’ ringing tone as the Goa’uld turned his back on Yu’s blind rage and strolled casually back across the chamber. “Or place yourselves at his mercy.”
Daniel placed the poison canister back into his pouch. Hot and cold raced through him, destroying the soul-numbing fog. Anubis was the threat here—he was the one casually conquering world after world, making the System Lords chase their tails and turn on each other. Destroying this desperate group of Goa’uld would leave him with a clear playing field, and even non-military-minded Daniel Jackson could figure out that was not a good idea. The mission was over. It was a whole new game now.

Chapter 2
An Unlikely Coincidence – Revanna – Extended Scene
Jack looked up as the last Jaffa fell under the loud bursts from staff weapon and P90, meeting Teal’c’s steady gaze. They’d retrieved a double-handful of the tunnel-excavating crystals from the science lab, but the echo of weapons fire was sure to bring any marauding Jaffa running to their location—they couldn’t risk the time to search for Carter’s communication device. He saw agreement in his teammate’s eyes and tilted his head towards the doorway that would lead them back to the small room where they’d stashed his 2IC and the newly ‘blended’—Jack cringed at the idea—Lt. Elliot. Teal’c moved quickly and nodded once to Jack over his shoulder before edging into the deserted—for now—corridor. Jack followed.
A few twists and turns later and Jack was once again grateful for Teal’c’s innate sense of direction. The Jaffa led them firmly and silently away from their last encounter with the enemy, leaving Jack to divide his attention between watching their six and seething inwardly. Keeping his mind focused on the immediate goal of getting his people out of this impossible situation was getting harder and harder, especially with that little voice inside his head that incessantly reminded him that one of ‘his people’ was far beyond his reach. And now Elliot, raw, green, so eager for action back in the ‘gate room, was living Jack’s worst nightmare. Hell in a handbasket was too polite a description for this trip down the yellow brick road.
“You recognize the tattoos?” he murmured at the Jaffa’s back as the two eased around another sharp corner. As if it would matter just which over-dressed egomaniac was after them this time.
The momentary flash of rage within Teal’c’s eyes lashed out at Jack in the darkened tunnel as the large figure faced him briefly. “I saw two markings—one was that of Zipacna.” The name splattered from his teammate’s mouth as if it were a curse.
Jack felt an echoing flame in his own chest. “What, the guy with the earring and the fruity hat at Skaara’s trial on Tollana?” He remembered the arrogant pissant’s words, comparing humans to cattle, describing the lifelong slavery of the human host as if it were merely the snake’s ‘due’ as ‘Master of the Universe.’ In a burst of memory he saw Daniel, brow ridged with focus and concentration, so desperate not to lose this opportunity to free his wife’s little brother from a captivity for which he’d blamed himself every minute of every day for three long years. Sha’re was dead, forever beyond Daniel’s help, but, suddenly, Skaara was standing there in front of them—whole, healthy, if scarred by his long slavery—and Jack had known that, even though Skaara was very special to Jack, the possible loss of all that was left of Daniel’s Abydonian family would have destroyed his friend.
In their downtimes during the trial, Jack had listened helplessly as his teammate had retched up what little food he’d been able to choke down—Daniel had been suffocating under the responsibility, terrified to think that Skaara might have been found just to be lost again, and that it would be his fault. Later, Jack had wondered if that was why Skaara had been so torn in choosing his ‘Archon’ from between his two friends. Daniel had been the obvious choice—no matter how close Jack had grown to the desert-boy, Daniel was family: he’d lived with Skaara for over a year, and they both knew that the linguist had a brilliant mind and the tongue of a true diplomat. Jack was all bluster and bluntness—it was Daniel who could find the loopholes and appeal to the compassion hidden away somewhere within the Tollan matriarch. And, besides, the Nox had always liked him best. But deep down Jack wondered if, knowing Daniel as Skaara did, the young Abydonian had also chosen Jack as a way to spread the weight of guilt and self-reproach if the trial was lost.
“Indeed, O’Neill,” Teal’c responded, jerking the colonel from his reverie. “Zipacna may lead the assault, but he could not coordinate such an attack.”
Jack’s eyebrows rose. “What makes you say that?”
Contempt radiated from the Jaffa’s large frame. “He is a minor Goa’uld—he has neither the resources nor the—”
“—balls?” Jack interrupted.
“—nerve,” Teal’c continued, pausing briefly in his advance, “to carry out an invasion of this magnitude.”
Before his teammate could move out again, Jack grabbed him by one sleeve and refused to budge until the larger man was forced to face him. “Wait a minute—you said you saw two markings. Who’s the other snakehead?”
Teal’c stiffened, his gaze sweeping the hallways on both sides, never resting on the human who stood before him.
“Hey—” Jack drew himself up to meet the Jaffa eye to eye and packed the word with command. “Straight answer, Teal’c.”
The warrior tilted his head, radiating disdain, and focused on his commander. “I have only seen the other mark in record files. The Goa’uld to whom it belongs had been silent for many centuries and only recently found his way back to power.”
“Yeah?” Impatience tightened Jack’s lips.
“It is the mark of the Goa’uld Osiris.” Teal’c turned from his teammate and moved away, silently.
After a moment, the stunned Air Force officer hurried to catch up with the stiff back of the Jaffa. “Osiris? The snake that grabbed Daniel’s old girlfriend in Chicago?”
Teal’c neither responded nor hesitated to move towards their planned rendezvous with Carter and Elliot and Jack ground his teeth at the Jaffa’s more-than-usually-irritating stoicism, having no problem interpreting the silence of the Jaffa’s growing anger. Hell, even after a year and a half the guy was probably still pissed that Jack had cut off all communication with the SGC by tossing Teal’c’s cell phone’s battery into the tall weeds surrounding his Minnesota retreat while Daniel, Carter, and Doc Frasier, of all people, bore the brunt of the newly resurrected Goa’uld’s fury under that pyramid in Egypt. Not one of Jack’s banner moments, he sneered at himself. He’d always poked fun at Daniel’s penchant for pouting when he didn’t get his way, but there really were no other word to describe his own attitude when he’d purposefully cut himself off from his friends’ calls for help during that little debacle. Daniel, still bearing the red imprint of the hand device on his forehead and that haunted look in his eyes had brushed off Jack’s flimsy apology, but Teal’c, Carter, and Hammond had been truly pissed.
“Teal’c.” He hated the unconscious regret that colored his voice and cleared his throat decisively. “Teal’c, hold it a minute,” he ordered. The Jaffa stopped abruptly and turned to glance over his shoulder, one eyebrow raised. “Osiris has been back for a little over a year—could he have become a major player again that soon?”
“It is unlikely. Perhaps he sought alliance with Zipacna in order to secure territory more easily. According to Daniel Jackson, the Goa’uld had been interred on Earth for many thousands of years. His knowledge of the Goa’uld power structure would have been extremely limited.”
Jack nodded. “Okay. So Zippy and his new best friend have joined up and just happen to find enough intel on the Tok’ra to launch a full scale attack on their ‘super secret base’,” the fingers of his left hand sketched quotation marks around the phrase, “oh-so-coincidentally while Daniel’s team is paying a visit to Tok’ra-land?”
Teal’c’s eyes lost some of their brooding menace and his head dropped into a hesitant nod. “I do not believe so, O’Neill.”
“Yeah, me either.” Jack jerked his head in the direction they’d been traveling and fell into step with his teammate. “What the hell is going on, Teal’c? The big guys—the System Lords—” Jack let his bitterness turn the title into something synonymous with white-haired senators, “are all supposed to be busy making nice at this summit that Jacob dragged Daniel to, aren’t they?”
“That was my understanding as well.” Teal’c’s gaze never rested, peering through the floating debris that muddied the air within the breached Tok’ra base, but Jack could see the tension that held his muscles rigid was not all about their present situation.
“So, how could these two bit players be attacking with this much organization and firepower?” Jack swept a hand down over his face. “You think this whole thing is a set-up?”
The raised fist of his teammate stopped Jack and he crouched, listening. A moment later Teal’c edged forward cautiously. “It would not be the first time that the Tok’ra’s belief in the infallibility of their intrigues endangered both themselves and those allied with them,” he growled.
“Good point,” Jack agreed through clenched teeth. He felt Teal’c’s criticism hit its mark and his conscience stabbed at him—the Jaffa’s words could as easily be aimed at the SGC, General Hammond, and Jack himself. They’d grabbed at this flimsy opportunity to wipe out the Goa’uld threat without a backwards glance, throwing Daniel to the wolves on what data, with what evidence? Hell, they’d been more hesitant about the damned Tok’ra armbands while he and his team were safely on planet Earth than they’d been with Ren’Al’s extremely brief little briefing. “What did we send Daniel into?” he muttered.
Teal’c stopped and aimed his level stare at his commanding officer. “I sent Daniel Jackson nowhere, O’Neill.”
Jack bit back a retort and tightened his lips. “Yeah, I got that.” Dammit. He hated it when Teal’c was right, but hated it even more that he had been wrong—profoundly and overwhelmingly wrong. “So,” he eased down the narrow tunnel at the Jaffa’s back, “the question is, what the hell can we do about it?”
“Nothing has changed regarding Daniel Jackson’s mission.” Teal’c’s low voice rumbled, anger hardening the smooth edges. “He is alone among the System Lords, a powerful group of beings who would torture and kill him with little provocation no matter their current strategy. Either he will be successful in this mission or he will die.” He turned back to make sure Jack was listening. “Or worse.” Teal’c paused as he saw his words sink in. “This has been true since this mission was first conceived. Our knowledge changes nothing.” He turned away.
The surge of anger and loss filled Jack’s vision with blood and darkness and he staggered past the bulk of the motionless Jaffa. Nothing he could do. Nothing. His hands ached where they choked the smooth planes of the weapon against his chest, hoping to find some reassurance in the familiar sensation of power resting at his fingertips. He was desperate for a target—any target—something he could empty clip after clip into as if that would purge his soul of the rotting stain of his guilt. He stumbled, stiff hands barely moving in time to brace himself against the sharp crystals of the tunnel wall, the resultant pricking spots of red on his palms completely fitting. More blood on his hands.
Insistent mutterings tried to pierce the deafening rush of sound that filled his mind and Jack blinked up, startled, at the broad, dark face of his teammate, staring as the lips formed his name. He shook his head. “Yeah, Teal’c.” This wasn’t the time. Not the place. His team was depending on him to get them out of this—he stifled a snort—more pity them. He smacked the Jaffa sharply on one shoulder and straightened, composing his face into its soldier’s mask. Guilt—regret—loss—consequences—these were Daniel’s territory, not his. He swallowed the bile and faced forward, as he had so many, many times before, the weight of responsibility crushing him. He was in charge, the commanding officer, the one it fell to to act, to save, to choose a course of action and run with it. Colonel Jack O’Neill would never have the luxury of doubt or the time for constant questioning that the civilian had. Yeah, Jack nodded, his gesture unseen in the gloom of the alien tunnel, and sometimes he hated Daniel for that.
He stepped out, weapon ready, muscles loose. “Let’s go.”

Chapter 3
New Players, New Rules – Last Stand – Missing Scene
Daniel winced at the metallic clang that seemed to reverberate inside his skull as his thick fingers released their hold on the pitcher to clutch desperately at the counter in front of him. A wave of nausea and exhaustion nearly folded him in half and he struggled to keep his feet, his mind reeling sluggishly through possible explanations for this sudden weakness. He fumbled for Yu’s cup, relieved that he’d made it to the space station’s galley area before his collapse, his luck holding enough to get him there before the other lo’taurs arrived. Shaking hands brought cool water to his lips and he swallowed quickly, gasping at the immediate cramping in his gut when the liquid met with his empty stomach. He turned, cup falling, pouring out its contents at his feet, while his eyes sought out the dark recess that he remembered was tucked between gold supports, hidden behind a subtle curtain. Humans were humans—his mind, unbidden, dredged up images and descriptions of ancient and modern waste facilities through the ages—and the servants and hosts of even the self-proclaimed superior race needed some kind of plumbing. Daniel forced his limp legs to move, to support his weight across the few yards of open floor between him and his goal, clenching his teeth against what his stomach was enthusiastically rejecting.
More luck. He choked out the last of the bile, coughing and spitting, into the metal receptacle, sweat burning eyes already tender from the unaccustomed lenses—he barely stopped himself from rubbing his fingers against his tightly closed lids just in time—he didn’t want to be discovered on his knees searching for a contact lens any more than he cared to spend the rest of his time among the Goa’uld trying to focus through one eye. He stumbled to the basin and cupped his hand under the water, making sure he didn’t swallow anything as he rinsed out his mouth and splashed the liquid against his face. Even the smooth surface of the cloth hanging nearby felt rough against his sensitive skin; patting himself dry Daniel raised his eyes to the large, polished surface above the sink and blinked at the strange figure he saw there—eyes dazed, furrows of pain dug deeply into his forehead and around his mouth, his thin clothes clinging uncomfortably tightly to the slick sweat covering his skin. He tried to straighten when another surge of dizziness threatened to send him back to the cold floor.
What was this? He was used to going for days with little rest or food when he was working on a particularly difficult translation or was forced to by an off-world situation; this kind of debilitation only set in when he was at the absolute end of his rope which should still be days away. He eased one finger beneath the leather collar and managed a few slow, shallow breaths. He hadn’t expected to be at the summit this long—a quick in, pull the trigger, and out had been what Jacob and Ren’Al had advised, what the Tok’ra had been counting on. “Barring unforeseen circumstances.” His lips tightened into a snarl. Yeah. Just a few of those. So far. Between late arriving System Lords, delays, the intrigues of the servants, an unexpected guest, and now the revelation of another more powerful, more dangerous Goa’uld out there where no poison would reach and the quick little mission had turned into a long, drawn-out nightmare.
He had to talk to Jack—no, to Jacob, he reminded himself firmly, shaking his head and nearly hurling himself against the wall in the process. Jack wasn’t here—none of his team was here. Just one former-Air-Force-general-now-blended-Tok’ra who was going to be just as pissed as Jack would be if he knew that Daniel had blown the mission. Damn, he rubbed stiff fingers against his temple, still holding tightly to the sink with one hand. Why couldn’t he think straight?
Jacob. Jacob would know what to do. He fumbled at the pouch on his waist for the communicator, but froze as murmuring voices floated through the thin curtain that separated him from the galley area. The other lo’taurs had arrived—he couldn’t chance being overheard speaking with Jacob. Slowly withdrawing his hand, Daniel’s fingers brushed against a flimsy strip of paper, trailing over a series of small raised bumps that decorated it. What? Steadying himself against the wall, he slid the item from where it nestled in the pouch and glanced down at it, sighing in grateful recognition. The stimulants—Jacob had given him a sheaf of the stimulants that Tok’ra operatives used to stay awake and alert during missions. And he’d warned Daniel about the need to take them on a regular basis and the consequences to his body if he waited too long.
Shaking hands tore off two of the small pills and shoved them under his tongue, waiting anxiously as the sharp tang filled his mouth. Hopefully the doubled dosage would be distributed that much more quickly throughout his blood stream—he couldn’t stay hidden away in here for long, he had to be able to act normally before the scrutiny of the scheming lo’taurs and especially among the gathered Goa’uld.
An almost painful electric tingle swept down his spine, radiating down his limbs to his fingertips and toes. The muddled fog was cleared from his brain as if by a strong gust of wind and everything was at once thrown into sharp relief. Osiris. Anubis. He had to tell Jacob about the new threat, explain why he hadn’t risked the poison, risked eliminating the System Lords, the only beings who stood between the powerful resurrected Goa’uld and complete domination of the galaxy. His stomach spasmed again, sharply, but now he was able to think past it, cope, ignore his physical symptoms and concentrate on what was important. He could do this—this is what he did. Daniel ran damp hands through his hair and carefully adjusted his clothing, stretching cramped muscles and straightening smartly to his full height. The mirror reflected his newfound energy—his eyes were bright, blazing, and the pain induced creases at their corners were receding. He nodded to himself. Better.
Daniel’s sudden appearance outside the privacy curtain stilled the casual voices of the lo’taurs gathered in the large room, and he felt every eye of the assembled servants as he crossed the distance to his station, crouching quickly to retrieve Yu’s cup from where it had fallen. With swift motions he cleaned out the simple metal goblet and began rummaging through the cabinets and crates within arms’ reach for suitable plates on which he would serve his master’s meal. Out of the corner of his eye Daniel observed the thin form of Ba’al’s slave make his way back and forth through the area, depositing an array of steaming dishes before each lo’taur, still acting as honorary host—Daniel’s sudden burst of energy had him chuckling quietly at the inadvertent pun. He watched as trusted slaves tasted each offered dish before plating selected items to present to his or her master. A matter of taste or a matter of safety, Daniel wondered, eyes narrowing in concentration. Were these humans merely choosing the savories according to the Goa’ulds’ preferences, or were they fulfilling the historic role of ‘food taster’ in its more sinister definition—cannon fodder, guinea pig, sacrificial lamb. Huh. He could relate.
He suppressed a shudder as the air moved across him—the fine hairs all over his body were standing at rigid attention, the uncomfortable undercurrent still singing along his nerves, surging through his senses, making all the garish colors that perpetually surrounded the Goa’uld even more blinding and intense. Daniel’s mind darted from image to image, thought to thought, and his breathing quickened, forcing oxygen into his body, priming it for movement, fight or flight. He jerked at a touch on his left shoulder, dropping to his right into a defensive posture, arms raised.
“Softly, beautiful,” the amused voice belonged to Morrigan’s persistent, leather-clad servant, who was standing much too close.
Daniel stood, lowering his arms, anger sparking from every pore. If he had a weapon, the man before him would be riddled with bullets; he imagined the sightless eyes, blood pooling under the dead man’s flaccid body. He struggled to control his panting breaths, narrowing his eyes at the figure leaning so casually against the counter before him.
“Forgive me, I am but seeking an eating implement for my Mistress, not a fight.” Dark eyes lingered on the places Daniel’s shirt strained across his chest before moving leisurely up the column of his throat to his face. “Although if you choose to pit your strength against mine,” he flexed his muscles, a hungry smile and half-lidded eyes communicating his obvious intent, “I would not be… adverse.”
Daniel sighed and crossed his arms over his chest. “I doubt if your Mistress,” he infused the word with contempt, “could manage Lord Yu’s k’uai-tzu,” he held up the polished ebony chopsticks the System Lord preferred. “Their use, after all, requires some level of intelligence and dexterity.” He made sure his grin showed all his teeth as he angled his upper body closer in mock confidence, “And perhaps, if you cannot remember to bring something as simple as utensils, your Mistress should choose a lo’taur with at least the mental capacity of a tel’yanta.”
Leaning back, Daniel was forced to wait a long moment before the insult registered in the lo’taur’s eyes. The expected snarl and lunge was met with a fierce blow from the heel of Daniel’s hand that connected to Morrigan’s slave’s chin, knocking his head backward and closing his mouth with a loud crack. The muscle-bound human staggered backward and Daniel turned quietly to his station, accepting the covered dishes from Ba’al’s waiting lo’taur with a simple bow. He quickly tasted each offering and then twitched a small serving of each item onto a square brown plate, realizing that, although he had been served last, Yu’s food would still be warm when Daniel delivered it to the council chamber. He nodded, filled Yu’s cup, and waited impatiently for Ba’al’s servant to join him before leaving the galley without a backwards glance.
Daniel found he had to force himself to a more sedate pace to match the other man’s deliberate stride—he was anxious to hurry ahead, to deliver the meal, and to somehow get away long enough to speak with Jacob before Yu found yet another task for his lo’taur. His heart was pounding in his chest and his mind flipped through a series of hypothetical situations, distracting him from the low, steady voice of the young man at his side.
“…and, while I would normally be forced to report any physical altercations between the servants of my Master’s guests,” Daniel finally tuned in to Ba’al’s lo’taur’s words, “All saw that you had been sorely provoked.”
Realizing that the statement required a response, Daniel inclined his head and searched for the right wording. “I appreciate your forbearance.” It was clear to the linguist that the slave would report the entire incident to Ba’al at his first opportunity, but maybe Daniel could reap some advantage out of this situation. From the Tok’ra intelligence that Ren’Al had provided him, he knew that the personal servants of the System Lords were just as cutthroat and dangerous as their masters; perhaps if he played the ‘confused innocent’ card Ba’al’s slave would assume him an easy mark and let something important slip. After all, Jarren, as the most recent addition to the status of trusted lo’taur, might be expected to be vulnerable, unwise to the machinations of the more veteran humans in service to the Goa’uld. It was worth a try.
“My Master would be… unhappy… that I was forced to resort to violence,” he admitted reluctantly. “And my Master’s hand is heavy when he is… unhappy.”
Ba’al’s slave’s face was intent, but a hint of satisfaction hovered behind his eyes. “Well, we do not wish Lord Yu’s unhappiness to impact the council. That would, in turn, anger my Lord Ba’al.”
The scent of the heavily spiced dishes on the servants’ trays coupled with the few morsels Daniel had been forced to swallow sent his already nauseated stomach into painful contractions and he felt sweat break out anew on his forehead. Stifling a groan Daniel moved into the circular chamber just behind Ba’al’s slave and moved to present his platter to the seated System Lord for his inspection. He struggled to keep his features carefully blank, eyes lowered to avoid seeing Sarah’s delicate features or the intense confrontation taking place at Morrigan’s position behind him. But the narrowed eyes of Lord Yu missed nothing as the cold gaze flicked over Daniel’s face and body, and then around the small circle of figures.
Daniel raised his eyebrows and made sure his eyes captured Yu’s attention. “Does my lord wish alternate choices?” He steadied his hands against the pain in his gut and the shivering that raced along his spine, stamping his features with a mask of calm servitude and forcing himself to wait—wait—when all he wanted to do was hurry away.
Yu sniffed once and then tugged the platter out of Daniel’s hands. Before he could turn away, one aged hand shot out and grasped Daniel’s wrist in a tight hold.
“I see that Morrigan’s pet has injured himself,” he murmured casually, his face set into immobility.
“Has he, my lord?” Daniel feigned indifference under Yu’s silent appraisal.
With a subtle nod Yu released his hold on Daniel’s wrist, but not on his eyes. “His death would not serve me at this time, but,” the System Lord drew one finger slowly down Daniel’s cheek and then in a soft caress across his lips, “see that you do not shame me by allowing yourself to incur damage that can be so readily seen by my enemies.”
Waiting until the Goa’uld retrieved his hand, Daniel tilted his head in acknowledgement. “I understand, my lord.”
Yu waved one hand in dismissal and Daniel stepped back and followed his fellow servants out of the council chamber, discharged until they were summoned to remove the empty plates and bowls. He hurried away, intent on reaching Yu’s personal quarters and avoiding any more drama among the human slaves. Steps quickening as he navigated the hallways, Daniel grabbed the communicator as the heavy door to Yu’s chambers began its slow ascent.
He ducked under the door and paced to the other end of the room. “Jacob!”
“Yeah, are you ready?” The response was quick, eager.
“Uh… not exactly.” He had to explain, to make Jacob understand.
“Dammit, Daniel.” Daniel expected anger, shouting, a demand for reasons for his actions—or inactions—but Jacob just sounded… disappointed. He let out a soft groan.
“Look, I was going to do it,” he stammered, “but then Osiris said she was here representing another Goa’uld named Anubis.” He couldn’t poison the System Lords now—surely Jacob could see that. One arm braced across his rebellious stomach, Daniel moved from one end of the room to the other, trying to dispel the jumpiness, the tension that clutched at him.
It was Selmac’s voice that answered. “He is dead.”
Was that fear coloring the Tok’ra’s words? “Apparently not, he wants to rejoin the System Lords.”
“Why now?” Still Selmac. Something had seriously alarmed the Tok’ra—these choked off answers and questions sounded nothing like the stolid, centuries-old being he’d come to know, and they certainly weren’t indicative of Jacob Carter’s take-charge personality. They did nothing to dispel Daniel’s own anxiety, either. “Where has he been for the last thousand years?”
Thousand years? That made Anubis a contemporary of Ra, the Supreme System Lord that he and Jack had nuked to oblivion on their first trip through the Stargate. Perhaps Anubis’ death—or banishment—had allowed Ra to come to power in the first place. The sheer scope of time involved—this was galactic history far past anything Daniel and the SGC were familiar with. How could Jacob and Selmac expect Daniel to have these answers? Wasn’t Selmac one of the oldest of the living Tok’ra—shouldn’t he know the story?
I don’t know,” Daniel retorted sharply. “We suspected that there was a new Goa’uld on the rise, we just didn’t know which one. I guess it turns out he’s not so new.” He shouldn’t have to explain all this—Daniel wanted the same answers, needed a way to get Sarah off this station, and an exit strategy for himself since it didn’t look like the sudden bloody deaths of the System Lords at his hand would be happening any time soon.
Selmac, still shocked, still struggling with this huge monkey-wrench that had been thrown into the Tok’ra’s plans couldn’t seem to grasp the situation. “If it really is Anubis…”
Daniel turned and paced the chamber’s circumference. “Then killing all the System Lords here would just open the door for him to take over completely,” his words tumbled over each other in his haste. Dammit, Jacob—Selmac—whoever, I don’t have time for this. “You always said yourself that a bunch of warring System Lords is better than one all powerful one, so…”
“You do not understand how bad Anubis is,” Selmac warned.
No, of course I don’t, Daniel rolled his eyes at the further delay, I only know what little bits of information the almighty Tok’ra are willing to part with, not nearly enough to successfully bring off a mission like this. Anger boiled through him along the same nerve-endings that carried the now familiar sting of energy, and Daniel bit his tongue to keep silent while Selmac continued.
“He was banished by the System Lords because his crimes were unspeakable, even to the Goa’uld.”
Yep, sounds bad. “Yeah, so, guess what? Mission’s off,” Daniel snapped. If what he’d seen here was typical, the constant infighting and jockeying for position would keep the System Lords and Anubis busy for a few years—busy enough to allow Earth and its allies to build up some resources of their own when the time came to make a frontal assault. And to come up with a plan that didn’t massacre host and Jaffa alike. The images fed his nausea and filled his mouth with saliva—he swallowed it down, desperate to end this conversation, grab Sarah, and get the hell out of there.
“Anubis has not waited this long just to return to the System Lords. There must be more going on.”
Choking back his impatience, Daniel closed his eyes at the Tok’ra’s doggedness. Couldn’t they discuss this later, back on Revanna? Every moment he stayed here he was risking his life, and for what? The mission was over. “So?” he prodded, eyes darting to the door, to the signal light that would demand Yu’s slave’s presence back in the council chamber.
“You must stay,” Selmac stated bluntly, “and find out what it is, if you can.”
What? Daniel staggered backwards, releasing the switch on the Tok’ra communicator. Selmac couldn’t be serious. He shook his head, looking around the ornate room as if searching for an explanation, a way out, but he was at the mercy of the Tok’ra, totally dependent on Jacob and Selmac for his escape. He’d stay there, on the space station, surrounded by Goa’uld and their servants until Selmac was good and ready to let him go. Or until it was too late.

Chapter 4
Between a Tok’ra and a Hard Place – Revanna – Extended Scene
Sam tightened the cap on her canteen without drinking. Half-full. And no access to water down here while they played hide and seek with the Jaffa roaming the collapsed Tok’ra tunnels. She glanced down at Elliot’s pale face, his eyes refusing to remain open for more than a few seconds, his neck still canted at an unnatural angle. She glanced back over her shoulder, straining to hear the scrape of a familiar boot or the low murmur of a friendly voice—she’d save as much water as she could for Elliot, for Lantash, but Teal’c and the colonel had to get back soon so they could escape this deathtrap and get to the surface.
“They should have been back by now.”
Elliot was reading her mind. She smiled to herself—it was a familiar feeling.
“I’m sure they’re okay—they’ll be back soon,” she assured him, even though far from convinced herself. She clutched her weapon to her chest, eyes steady on the only entrance to the dark alcove they’d pulled Elliot’s unresponsive body into. “How’re you doing?”
The young airman’s breathing came in uneven gasps—there was nothing autonomic about it. The symbiote seemed to be pulling in oxygen when it realized Elliot’s body’ needed it, distracted from this most basic of human functions by the injuries it sought to heal.
“It’s very strange.”
Sam glanced down for a second, wishing there was a way to take back her question. She didn’t really want to hear any more, didn’t want to have Elliot’s words trigger her own dark memories of Jolinar’s unwanted presence. “I know,” she muttered, lacing her voice with her reluctance, hoping he would stop. Funny how it was so much easier to care about Martouf’s last chance at life when she was looking at the symbiote lying unresponsive within a stasis chamber, not when she saw the flash of that life within Elliot’s pale eyes.
The colonel’s face had been grim, haunted, when she told him about Elliot and Lantash. He still bore the scar where Hathor’s pet Goa’uld had penetrated the back of his neck, and although the symbiote had died before it took control, that memory still peppered his nightmares. Nightmares each member of SG-1 had faced over and over again since they’d first stepped foot through the Stargate. Teal’c had lived beneath Goa’uld rule, had been expected to choose humans to be their lifelong hosts—the squirming immature symbiote in his gut a sure sign of his slavery. She had been seized by Jolinar during a rescue mission among a devastated people who were running for their lives. And Daniel—he’d seen his wife, his younger brother, and his lover taken over when Goa’uld had stabbed themselves through vulnerable necks and strangled his loved ones’ minds.
Elliot’s ‘blending’ brought the potential risks of their continued war with the Goa’uld very close to home—and made them realize, again, why exactly they were still fighting, still putting themselves at risk to maintain alliances with groups as unpredictable as the Tok’ra. But right now, glancing down at the much too young face, skin gray against the gray stone beneath him, Sam’s thoughts flew to another young face and its piercing blue eyes, more at risk than ever on the horribly ill-conceived Tok’ra undercover mission among the most dangerous examples of the Goa’uld race. She didn’t want to talk about alien symbiotes taking human hosts for any reason—didn’t want to think about it anymore. It was too real, too painful.
But Elliot didn’t know her, didn’t hear the subtle warning in her tone. She swallowed tightly. He hadn’t learned to read her moods as easily by what she didn’t say as by what she did. He was a friend, a colleague, but still far from a part of her team, her family. He wasn’t Teal’c, or the colonel, or Daniel—Daniel would know to leave it alone.
The lieutenant’s expression was pasty, unresponsive, slack muscles turning his usually animated face into a wax-like mask, all senses turned inward. “It’s like…I suddenly know everything about someone else’s life. Two other people, actually,” he persisted, murmuring, unknowingly dredging up more unwanted thoughts and feelings.
She stared, an awkward fluttering of fear in her chest. This is exactly what she’d been afraid of. Lantash—Martouf—Jolinar—the bindings that tied them all up were hopelessly tangled, intricately woven, until she’d lost sight of where Samantha Carter ended and all these other beings began. The symbiotes, the humans, the attempts to define life and love had been badly complicated every time Martouf had looked at her face and seen only the image of his dead mate. And now all of those thoughts, those feelings, were alive again within Elliot, including the sight of Sam pulling the trigger on the zat gun that ended his life.
“I hear his thoughts every now and then… but he’s using all his strength to try and save me.”
Good. Sam winced inwardly at the thought. How selfish was it to hope that the symbiote would be kept too busy healing to blend completely with the injured airman—to empty all of Martouf’s dreams and desires into Elliot’s mind so that, when he did open his eyes, all she’d be able to see was the Tok’ra host who’d once touched her so tenderly.
The sounds of the aerial barrage crept closer and the air seemed to vibrate with the weapons’ impact. Sam gazed at the roof above them, already compromised, crystals and columns fallen among piles of dirt and dust. “Sounds like they’re coming around for another run,” she warned, curling her body over the injured airman’s as the explosions sounded closer and closer. The dust settled and she leaned back.
Elliot’s bitter words took her by surprise. “What a joke,” he muttered.
“What?”
“I can’t believe I’m actually going to die on my first mission.”
“You’re not,” she snapped, biting back the nagging voice of the eternal realist inside her head that cautioned that he might, he just might. They could all die within these tunnels.
Eyelids fluttering, Elliot angled his head to face her, lips twisted in angry cynicism. “C’mon, Major, even if the symbiote could fix what’s wrong with me we’re never getting out of here.”
No. This wasn’t right. Sam was the one who pointed out the logical consequences to the team’s actions, not the one who offered encouragement, confidence in the face of certain death to her teammates. “Sure we are,” she tried, working to echo the colonel’s usual smirking comments, “you’ve read our mission files. We go through the ‘gate, get into trouble, get out of it and we go home.” It didn’t sound particularly convincing.
“Tell that to Major Mansfield.”
“Okay, forget the pep-talk.” She deliberately hardened her tone, forging it with steel. “You knew what you were signing up for.” Get with the mission, suck it up, walk it off—oh, God, it wasn’t the colonel inside her head, it was her father with all of the same macho bullshit she’d had to listen to for as long as she could remember. And now she was spouting it back in the vulnerable face of the man who lay so damaged beneath her.
“Yeah,” Elliot admitted reluctantly, eyes firmly closed in the face of her intensity.
She hated it—hated the look of humiliation she saw etched into his suddenly tense muscles, but knew that Elliot had to reach down for all of the inner strength that she’d seen him display during training when they’d thrown everything they could think of against his determination to belong to this program. “You got this assignment because you were strong, both physically and mentally. Give the symbiote inside you a chance—he needs you as much as you need him right now.” Sam had to reach him, make him hear her. “Do not-”
The rest of her speech was lost in the choking blast that took down the tunnel’s ceiling at her back. Sam threw herself atop Elliot and held her arms over her head. Rocks, dirt, dust, pelted her back for long agonizing minutes. When the shaking stopped she sat up and scanned the dusty chamber. The narrow opening that once led into the tunnel was filled with debris. They were trapped.

Between the Tok’ra and a Hard Place – Last Stand – Missing Scene
Jacob smacked both hands palm down on the control panel of the cargo ship. “What the hell are you doing?” His eyes automatically darted towards the space station hanging motionless against the glare of so many nearby stars, as if his enraged shout could somehow transfer through the vacuum of space to be heard by the System Lords plotting within it.
‘You do not need to address me outwardly, Jacob,’ Selmac’s thoughts were wary, guarded, as if the violence and verbal explosion of his host had taken him completely by surprise.
“I know that, Selmac,” Jacob shouted, reveling in the control that his symbiote had relinquished as soon as Daniel had shut down communications. “But after what you just said to Danny, you’ll have to forgive me if I feel like hearing the sound of my own voice!”
‘Of course.’ The symbiote was calm, conciliatory, but Jacob could feel the uncertainty beneath the Tok’ra’s reassurance.
“What could you possibly be thinking?” Jacob thrust to his feet and strode back to the cargo area of his ship, arms swinging his wide sleeves through the empty air. “This was not part of the plan and you know it—Daniel is not a Tok’ra operative on a mission, and you making him stay in there, among the damn System Lords,” he emphasized the two words with a finger jabbed in the direction of the station, “just to satisfy some Tok’ra curiosity does not even come close to being right.”
Images, memories from the oldest living Tok’ra, began unfolding before Jacob’s inner eye. The subjugation of countless worlds, inhuman torture inflicted on the inhabitants, suns suddenly extinguished. Hundreds of jackal-helmed Jaffa laid down their weapons before bitter enemies in the hope of finding a clean death. Minor Goa’uld petitioned the Supreme Lord Ra for mercy, for succor, against the horror that was Anubis. These were memories clouded by age, distant, remote, with color and life leached from them and still they turned Jacob’s stomach, shocked him to immediate silence. He stumbled to a halt, one hand braced against the bulkhead, head lowered to pull in great gasps of air past the bile that choked his throat.
Selmac stayed silent while Jacob gained back his breath and blinked the present into focus before his eyes, the screams of Anubis’ victims fading to blend into the hum of the ship’s engines. ‘I am sorry, my friend.’ The symbiote’s inner voice was deeply mournful. ‘I hope you know me well enough to believe that I wish you no hurt from these memories—as I wish Daniel Jackson none for his loyalty and courage in service to the Tok’ra.’
“Yeah, well, you have a funny way of showing it sometimes, Selmac,” Jacob muttered, one hand scraping across his bare scalp. He turned and rested his back against the ornate gold wall, twisting his neck to relieve a headache he hadn’t known he had. His eyes drifted closed.
‘These were images I had hoped never to again share with a host,’ Selmac whispered. ‘Anubis has been dead—gone—for hundreds of years. His assets scattered, his worlds claimed by others, his name a distant curse used to frighten children.’ The symbiote paused for so long that Jacob reached further within to find Selmac’s thoughts a morass of fleeting emotions and ideas.
‘Selmac.’
‘My friend—even the images that sicken you are not the extent of Anubis’ threat. He was—is—vile, inventive, depraved, loathsome, intelligent, ruthless. That the Tok’ra have this information almost before the Goa’uld—it may mean our very survival that Daniel Jackson is among them, listening, asking questions. Perhaps his former relationship with Osiris’ host may help us obtain further information.’
‘You cannot possibly…’ Jacob concentrated, trying to spice his inner words with all the frustration and rage that he still found it so much easier to infuse into his audible voice. ‘Listen to yourself! You’re suggesting that Danny continue this masquerade for, what, days? He’ll never survive—it was never meant to go on as long as it has already.’
‘Many things have changed since then, Jacob.’ Selmac’s words took on a sterner tone. ‘Would you have us blind and deaf to the greatest threat the galaxy has known?’
Jacob opened his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest. The strategies of the Tok’ra spanned human generations, and after three years, Jacob still had moments of shock at what he saw as the callousness of the alien race. He tilted his head, trying to put Selmac’s flood of intentions into perspective. ‘Just what are you suggesting here?’
‘Daniel has a deep connection with Osiris’ host. He wishes to save her, to bring her to us so that we may remove the implanted symbiote. He would even eagerly put himself in harm’s way to do this.’
‘So—what—you’re going to use that to get him to cooperate?’ Jacob felt his nostrils flare in outrage. ‘Dangle her rescue over him so that he agrees to throw himself away on some fishing expedition?’ He couldn’t help the mirthless laugh that escaped his lips. ‘You are a piece of work, Selmac.’
Selmac was quiet a moment. ‘It is what he wishes, Jacob, is it not?’
“You damn well know it is!” Jacob shouted. He panted, angrier than he’d ever been at his symbiote, at the Tok’ra, at the SGC for allowing them to put Daniel into this position in the first place. He’d been torn, uncertain, from the very beginning. Angry at the High Council, surprised at the willingness of Daniel’s teammates—of his own daughter—to shrug off the danger. Now he wished Daniel had taken him up on his not so subtle offer to back out before they’d even reached Yu’s home world. Jacob had been in the middle, hearing the urgings of the Tok’ra from within his own mind while the general—the human—in him struggled with the risks to the young scholar. And now Daniel had been thrust there—in the middle—standing squarely between the Tok’ra’s schemes and his own desire to save his friend from a lifetime of slavery.
‘No.’ There was a desperation in Selmac’s inner voice, but Jacob turned away, not sure if it was fueled by the Tok’ra’s limitless craving for answers or any true feeling for his human host. ‘Do not believe that I am a heartless monster, my friend,’ the symbiote pleaded. ‘Try to understand. Daniel Jackson’s heart demands a chance to rescue this human woman; the Tok’ra could learn much from Osiris. Why must there be a conflict?’
Jacob shook his head. Selmac was being completely honest. He’d heard Daniel’s pleas concerning Sarah Gardner, and understood the young man’s deep commitment to his friends. And he really believed that Daniel’s desires and the Tok’ra’s intentions lined up here just about perfectly. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes.
‘Selmac? I hear you. You’re shocked. Anubis is a dangerous Goa’uld. He’s a threat you never expected to have to face again. But in there, alone, far from any help, a young man I care about like a son is facing something damn dangerous, too. Do you get that?’
‘I do, however-’
‘However nothing!’ Jacob tried to clamp down on his frustration, deliberately quieting his inner voice. ‘His job was to get in, use the poison, and get out, not to turn into a Tok’ra James Bond. And I won’t let you use him like this.’
He felt Selmac rifle through his mind for the meaning behind the reference before he answered, the Tok’ra’s inner touch dragging other memories with him to the surface: Daniel taking point on their escape from Netu, the fire in his blue eyes when he volunteered to infiltrate Seth’s bunker. ‘Perhaps, Jacob, your fears for Daniel have less to do with me, with the Tok’ra and the threat of the Goa’uld, and more to do with you.’
The statement startled Jacob. ‘What?’
‘This ‘young man’ you describe so well. This loyal, intelligent young man—this young man who feels deeply and stubbornly attempts feats others would prefer to save him from. You do not believe that Daniel Jackson is capable of this—of not only surviving, but of removing Osiris from the summit and bringing him before us.’
‘Of course he’s…’ Jacob began, hesitantly, thoughts swirling.
‘Did we not both conclude that Daniel Jackson is a young man who is quite a bit stronger than he appears?’ Selmac gently reminded Jacob of their discussion about the archaeologist on the way to Yu’s home world.
His stomach clenched around the knot of fear that had been tightening since this mission was first conceived. Was it fear for this adopted son that colored his judgment of Selmac’s motives, or was that fear so much stronger, so much more intense because he saw Daniel as less worthy of trust, of confidence, than a soldier like Jack or even Sam? Was this familial bond he shared with the academic based on hard won respect for the younger man or a patronizing necessity to protect the weak civilian?
The answer came quickly—gut-level, instinctual. ‘Daniel is a fighter,’ he felt the beginnings of a smile on his face. ‘He’s a survivor. That man has been through things that seasoned soldiers would wet themselves trying to imagine.’ Jacob felt his symbiote’s approval. ‘And you know what? I’m gonna try like hell to get him out of there, but I’ll trust him to tell me when it’s time to go. That’s the best I can do for him.’ Can you do that, Selmac? Jacob left the question unvoiced, within or without.
‘Jacob, my friend. Do you doubt that I have come to care as much about Daniel as you—or perhaps you believe that this bond that we share flows only in one direction?’ The symbiote’s inner words were warm with emotion.
Jacob let the weight of his soul-deep connection with the being who shared his consciousness soothe the ache in his head and his heart. ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever understand our bond, Selmac, or how I can still be surprised by the stuff in your head—in my head—’ he sighed, ‘you know what I mean.’
A familiar dry chuckle echoed in Jacob’s skull. ‘Yes, because a thousand years of my memories would even fit within your frail human brain,’ Selmac sniped tenderly. ‘Perhaps some decade you would like to allow me full control of this body so that you can indulge in a short perusal of my misspent youth.’
‘That sounds like a story, and a memory that wouldn’t leave me feeling like a truck just ran through my cerebellum.’ Jacob shook himself from his communion with his symbiote and opened his eyes, his gaze immediately focusing out the front window of the ship on the deceptively quiet space station that held a double handful of Goa’uld, their trusted slaves, and one near-sighted Tau’ri archaeologist. One brave, tough, tenacious near-sighted Tau’ri archaeologist.
“Hang in there, Danny,” Jacob murmured. “Just a little while longer.”

Chapter 5
Trapped Beneath – Revanna
It didn’t make any sense. The weight of the short, cracked column tugged at Sam’s muscles, the irregular surface shredding her fingernails and cutting into her hands as she hauled it away from the pile of rubble that had filled the tunnel. Crystals, striated columns, sharp, jagged textures that convinced her that the Tok’ra abhorred all things smooth and cushioned—the secret base on Revanna was hopelessly flimsy, unbelievably vulnerable to random Goa’uld surface bombardment in a way that even the most haphazard Earth fortifications would never be. How could tunnels created through the expansion of artificially grown crystals be reduced to cement-like debris, dust, and dirt in so little time? Shouldn’t the expansion of the tunnels themselves have fused the rock above and below it into such a tightly packed mass that nothing short of a naquadah enhanced nuke could make a dent in it? She shook the sweat from her eyes as she grabbed at another hunk of rock.
“He loves you, Major.” Sam dropped the stone with a clattering crash, wishing she could drown out the words that kept following her into her forced analysis. Elliot. Lantash. He wouldn’t let up, persisted in hammering at her resolve. She tried not to listen, to ignore his wavering voice, but the defeat in his tone, the hopeless, moaning phrases caught at her and she stopped but wouldn’t turn to see her pain reflected in his eyes. “It was one of the reasons he was fighting to live,” he continued. “He just wanted you to know.”
I know, she thought to herself. I know. She forced herself to detached explanation as her hands found purchase on another piece of debris. “The symbiote I carried was Martouf’s mate. Martouf and I became close friends because of it.” Close friends. Please leave it, Lieutenant, she pleaded to herself, the same confusion of empathy and grief wrapping around her mind and heart. Lantash survived—Martouf was in there somewhere. But Jolinar was gone, and the little spurts of remembered passion only dug her guilt that much deeper.
The stumbling, aching pants behind her kept on. “I’m telling you he loves you… as much as he once loved Jolinar. He regrets what happened… how the host ultimately died.”
Motionless, she listened to the words of regret and loss and heard the truth there. Truth she didn’t want and couldn’t cope with as Elliot lay near death and her teammates were trapped—two rock-filled meters and one impossible light-years away.
“He doesn’t want you to feel responsible.”
“Okay,” she whispered. Martouf—Lantash—absolving her of blame, thinking that his words could in any way release her from the consequences of her actions, no matter how vital, how necessary those actions had been. She’d run from the colonel’s admission of—what—caring about her? wanting to protect her? out there in front of Janet and Anise—and slammed back into critical analysis of the situation in the ‘gate room through a soldier’s eyes, assessed the threats, stormed the room, cutting through the fleeting hesitation she’d seen in the others—Teal’c, Daniel—with professional, impersonal determination. The symbiote wanted to forgive her, she shook her head, and maybe that was all it had been.
All of her frantic attempts to get the Tok’ra to move away from their entrenched positions against healing Martouf’s broken body, choosing instead to save the symbiote at all costs, hadn’t been about him after all. Maybe she’d needed to hear those words from Martouf’s own lips, his warm, familiar, human lips. He’d seen her coming, all soldier-Sam and logical violence, nothing but hard lines and professionalism. She didn’t want his last memories of her to be filled with the sight of his murder in her eyes. Ren’Al’s words vibrated through her: “what is left of Martouf now lives on in Lantash.” She smiled tightly. It wasn’t the same. Elliot’s lips formed the words, and, even if she could intellectually believe that it was really Lantash who had spoken, her heart didn’t believe it.
Something changed in the resonance of Elliot’s voice. “It’s getting hard to breathe.”
She turned and, in the space of one blink, Sam saw only a very young, very human soldier lying broken against the shattered columns. “I know. Hang in there,” she offered, before returning to her work. She’d get him out; she had to. The thought of witnessing Martouf’s death—again—through a different set of human eyes made her more determined than ever.

Trapped Within – At The Summit – Extended Scene
Daniel hurried down the space station hallways, thoughts disjointed, the energy that tingled through his nerves dissipating slightly with every awkward footfall or arm flung out to catch his faltering balance. He grimaced and swiped the back of one hand against the beads of sweat tickling at his hairline. Selmac’s demands rang harshly in his memory: Find out what you can. Discover more. Anubis must be stopped. The Tok’ra had been so intense, so unwavering—transforming, in an instant, from the familiar humanity of Sam’s father into an alien being separated from anything human by vast centuries of experience. It was another reminder of the unbridgeable philosophical divide between Tok’ra and unblended host. To Selmac, the risk was small, just Daniel’s life and Sarah’s potential release from a lifetime of grotesquely intimate slavery, and any tiny possibility of gathering information to aid the Tok’ra cause outweighed them both. Daniel would risk more to save a friend, even an acquaintance—had risked more, many, many times to help others, to defend Earth. And would risk it all again, without hesitation. But this—this bare-faced, solo-mission, feigning allegiance to monsters while hoping to stumble upon enough information to earn his bus fare back home was beyond him. And, finally, without angst, without self-pity, anger at his own naivety filling his veins with heat, he didn’t mind admitting it.
Studying. Talking. Taking diverse images, patterns, and behavior and putting them together to help his team, the SGC, the innocent peoples of the galaxy survive an overwhelming threat was his job, his gift. It was what he’d offered, what they’d accepted from him all those years ago as they edged open the military door to find a place for a distractible, untrained geek at the SGC. A scholar’s work, work of the mind, the tongue, and the heart as they slowly hammered him into a shape they could, in good conscience, trust with the safety of his own and others’ lives. Daniel looked down at himself. What shape was this? A spy, a mole, a secret weapon honed to lethal sharpness? He shook his head as he lifted trembling hands, twisting them back and forth before his eyes as his mouth twisted up in answering scorn. That description fit as badly as the sleek slave costume Jacob had pressed upon him. Yes, the roles had been pressed upon him—both warrior and slave—but had Daniel refused? His smile widened. No. He’d been so desperate to hang onto his narrowing role within the search for weapons and power among distant friends and the only life that remained to him, that he’d accepted the changes with bowed neck and grasping fingers.
Daniel could do isolated—he’d learned the hard way that being alone helped him focus, helped him reach for successes that the other children, other students, around him were distracted from. And, lately, his solitary existence had become a necessary padding that shielded him from the pangs and pains that were all that was left of close-held friendships. But, for all of his anger, his woundedness at Jack’s words, the man’s rejection of Daniel’s capabilities before this so-called mission got off the ground, Daniel himself had come to recognize that Jack had been right. Yes, he could blend in, speak the language, immerse himself in the role of slave to Yu’s Master, and, when it came to looking harmless, inoffensive, just about as not-dangerous as one could get, Daniel Jackson was still a natural. But as an undercover operative, he was woefully unequipped. Jack—the man whose life’s work had prepared him to see consequences, to quickly assess the ways even a well-thought-out plan—which this definitely wasn’t—could go to hell, had seen it from the beginning.
He frowned, glancing around at the never changing gold corridors, the shadows falling around him in patterns he didn’t recognize. Great. He couldn’t even sneak around this space station without getting lost. Had he been here before? Wasn’t the galley down this hallway to the left? Daniel blinked at a sudden reflection from an oddly shaped basin that stood all alone within an alcove on the right. Dig for information. Find intelligence. He hurried toward it.
Tucked away in a dark niche, a gold-painted ring on the floor its only adornment, the waist-high, free-standing basin was made of some silvery metal that was embossed with a circular design, but it was the raised sculpture that decorated the top that drew a needle of ice down Daniel’s back. Caught in poses of writhing, twisting ecstasy or horror, mature Goa’uld symbiotes danced over the basin’s surface, guarding whatever lay beneath the rounded lid. He reached out and then drew his hand back as a sinuous shadow slithered within the cold metal. Steeling himself, Daniel shifted the clumsy metal lid so that he could look inside. His mouth fell open in shock. Symbiotes. Wriggling, naked symbiotes, mature neck crests unfurled, the sleek bodies twisting within a warm, clear fluid, brushing against one another, tangling and parting in a revolting dance. Daniel replaced the lid quickly, remembering the way the prehistoric Goa’uld had launched itself out of the lake on Chaka’s world straight at his unprotected neck.
Why would the Goa’uld… He stepped back. These mature symbiotes had been removed from their Jaffa incubators and placed here, on this space station. Ready. Waiting. Hidden away, close to the System Lords, but out of sight of their human slaves. He rubbed one hand against his neck, his heart beating hard in his chest. He had to get out of here.

Movement – Revanna – Extended Scene
Samantha Carter sat back on her heels, tired, hot, eyes narrowed at her own dizziness. The dust in the air was growing thicker, visible even in the near darkness as it settled across her face and neck. She heard Elliot’s strained gasps behind her and lowered her head, wondering what she could offer the young soldier and his unwelcome passenger in these last moments. What hidden, protected parts of herself she could allow him to see. The sound of her radio’s crackle, Jack O’Neill’s voice loud within the small room, set off a sigh of relief that left her shaking.
“Carter—Carter, if you hear me, respond.”
She grabbed at the radio, struggling to keep her voice even. “Sir, we’re here,” she panted, “the tunnel collapsed—we’re trapped.”
“Yeah, we noticed that.” She smiled to herself, the colonel’s quirky understatement diffusing her fears. “Listen—how do we use these crystals to move the walls?” Of course. If the Tok’ra crystals could make tunnels through the solid bedrock of the planet, a few meters of debris would be nothing. She raised her eyebrows at Elliot.
His throat worked noisily. “Each crystal is designed to create a different… section of tunnel…” Sam frowned at Elliot’s obvious distress. He was fighting for each breath, fighting through pain and exhaustion to help them find a way out. “Small square ones will… create short… straight openings.”
Sam repeated the directions, her own lungs burning. She strained to hear any movement, any whisper of sound from the other side of the rock fall. A moan from Elliot drew her across a floor littered with broken columns and sharp shards of rocks, back to his side to shelter him if the creation of the tunnel touched off any further crumbling in the weak roof of their cave.
Elliot’s eyes slid closed as she pressed herself close against him. “If they choose the wrong one… they could collapse the tunnel in on us,” he managed to whisper.
Clutching her radio, Sam echoed his warning. “Sir, make sure you use the right crystal—it’s perfectly square.” She couldn’t see, couldn’t help. All she could do was trust that, between Teal’c and the colonel, they’d figure it out. And if they didn’t…
The strange, squealing sound of tortured rock began to move towards them and Sam felt her lungs expand as a cool breeze of fresh air curled around her. Beneath her hand, Elliot’s chest began to move more deeply, smoothly, the rough, jarring gasps turning to strong inhalations. The tunnel opened up before her eyes and she felt the smile on her lips as Teal’c’s sturdy bulk and the lean, rangy form of the colonel moved closer. The feeling of her team around her—most of her team, she reminded herself sharply—filled her with renewed energy and she pulled Elliot’s arm across her shoulders, shifting her balance so that she could help him stand.
“Thank you,” she sighed, settling Elliot’s limp weight against her.
The colonel’s smile was swift and empty of humor. “You bet—anytime.”
She glanced at the jagged walls that surrounded them—they had to get out, there was no guarantee they’d survive another rock fall. “Did you find a Tok’ra communicator?”
O’Neill’s thin lips tightened. “No, no we didn’t.”
Teal’c stood beside him, concentrating on the empty tunnel behind them. “Many Jaffa troops search the tunnels,” he murmured, head turning towards her and hooded gaze clearly measuring her ability to drag Elliot through the collapsing Tok’ra base to safety. She straightened her shoulders. “They will be here soon,” he added, one raised eyebrow telling her he hadn’t missed her unspoken insistence that she could handle it.
“Use the long rectangle.” The soft voice originated from the head resting against her shoulder.
Teal’c fumbled in one of his vest pockets and pulled out a violet crystal. She watched, fascinated, as the long, straight tunnel instantly grew from the point where he jabbed the crystal into the rough wall.
“Nice!” The colonel’s muttered remark held a trace of his usual sarcastic wit, but the tension in his body and the fire within his dark eyes told Sam that her CO’s vision was focused down to a sharp point, and his only motivation was to get his team to safety. And God help any Jaffa who got in his way.
“You should collapse the tunnel behind us,” Elliot whimpered as Sam pulled him along, and the echo of Teal’c’s staff blast followed her, but the sound was soon overwhelmed by the crashing of rock and crystal that effectively cut off any pursuit. She glanced up sharply as some of Elliot’s weight lifted from her aching shoulders, quickly meeting the colonel’s sober look across the young airman’s bowed head.

Chapter Six
The Price of Admission – At The Summit – Missing Scene
Daniel stopped his unconscious rush down the space station corridor just before the door to Yu’s private quarters. He smoothed the thin fabric of the shirt against his chest, trying to slow his breathing. The distracting excess energy that had been with Daniel since he’d taken the Tok’ra stimulants was settling into a background hum along his nerves, but the instinctive desire to put as much distance as possible between himself and that vat of full grown Goa’uld symbiotes still urged him to keep moving, keep walking, hurry. He took one slow deep breath and forced his expression back into the subservient neutrality that befitted the lo’taur of a System Lord. He stepped forward, close enough for the sensors to register his presence and for the heavy door to begin its upward movement.
Yu did not look happy.
Standing in the center of the room, the Goa’uld had his small, dark eyes fixed on Daniel, anger and resentment radiating from the stiff posture and tense muscles of his face, his hands invisible within the wide sleeves of his robe. Daniel halted and lowered his head, hands clasped behind his back.
“My Lord, how may I serve you?”
The silence grew within the small chamber and Daniel felt the fine hairs on his neck and arms rise as he waited, hoping the wrath of the System Lord was not directed at him. If Yu suspected, if he had the least hint that Daniel was not who he claimed to be, then his mission was over, and the presence of the Goa’uld symbiotes ensured that soon the System Lords would know everything within Daniel’s mind. Hands tucked carefully behind him, too far from the pouch against his waist for quick action, he waited—and waited. Long, torturous moments later the slight scrape of Yu’s slipper against the floor seemed as loud as a gunshot and Daniel winced.
The Goa’uld was circling him, slowly. Again and again Daniel caught a glimpse of Yu’s robes as he passed before him or paused close beside him, one hand brushing against Daniel unexpectedly, drawing an involuntary shiver down his skin. Other times the silent stalking figure disappeared behind him, or stepped away, out of his narrow field of vision, but then an unexpected touch against Daniel’s side or back or the slide of fingers through his hair would reveal Yu’s position, and the archaeologist would grind his teeth to keep from jumping away in reaction.
This soundless scrutiny continued until Daniel’s nerves were so on edge that he thought with the next touch, the next fleeting brush of robes, he would be unable to stop himself from crying out.
“Kneel before your god.”
From behind Daniel’s left shoulder, the System Lord spoke quietly, evenly, but Daniel felt the restrained rage, the pure hatred that deepened Yu’s echoing voice. Slowly, deliberately moving as non-threateningly as possible, Daniel complied, bending one knee and then the other, his mind struggling to find any scenario where this would not end badly, fatally—or worse. If Yu suspected him, physical violence was guaranteed, but one symbiote burrowing beneath his skin and wrapping itself around his spine would end any resistance. After few moments of futile struggle the Goa’uld would have access to the SGC, the Tok’ra base on Revanna, the Alpha Site—everything. Daniel let out a slow breath and shifted backwards, wondering if he could knock the Goa’uld out and make a run for it. A hand against the back of his neck froze every muscle and he felt his eyes widen in panic.
“You shall make deep obeisance to your god, Jarren. Do not provoke me to punish you,” Yu’s hand tightened painfully, short nails digging into Daniel’s skin, “you would not survive.”
Daniel placed his hands together on the floor before him and lowered his forehead to rest against them, back bending beneath the combined intensity of Yu’s voice and his strong hand. Jarren. He’d called him Jarren. The masquerade was still in place. Daniel closed his eyes and tried to feel any sense of relief in the knowledge, but Yu’s hand was still clamped around his neck and he could feel the Goa’uld’s panting breaths against the side of his face.
Suddenly, the fierce grip gentled and fingers stroked against his hair, lingering possessively before Yu moved away and continued his slow pacing around the chamber.
“Very good, my lo’taur, my trusted servant.”
There was no sarcasm, no trace of accusation in the words directed towards Daniel, but the anger had not receded. Something else must have triggered the harsh loathing in Yu’s tone, or, perhaps someone else.
“I have no wish to kill you, to deprive myself of your service. The purity of your worship calms my spirit, relieves me of this desire to unleash the fury of my wrath upon this place, to rip out the hearts of my enemies with my own hands.”
Yu’s pace was faster now, his words louder, biting, but Daniel felt his own tension easing and listened, hoping for another clue. Information—this is what Jacob wanted, what Selmac demanded before he’d let Daniel escape.
“Anubis returns—bold, arrogant, as if his words could erase the past or his scattered victories could impress me with his strength.” Yu spat ancient Chinese curses from his mouth and Daniel heard the crisp sound of breaking porcelain as a vase shattered against the floor, the sharp shards peppering his side. “And Osiris, twice-cursed Kresh’taa that he is, thinks he can talk his way into my confidence. Fool!”
The System Lord turned abruptly—Daniel felt the chill air against his skin. “One death was not enough for Anubis—he reaches out to me from the grave, strangling my honor. This time—this time I will feel his blue blood drip through my fingers, I will tear his flesh with my teeth and swallow down his death as I do with all my enemies!” The pacing continued, the Goa’uld’s words tumbling from him in great torrents of darkness. “However he has escaped my vengeance, whatever tricks he has mastered in order to return from oblivion, he shall not cast as much as a shadow across my honor again.”
The Goa’uld panted harshly, his steps slowing, but Daniel remained still, trying to think beyond his vulnerable position kneeling, totally exposed, before the System Lord. In the meeting room, Yu had held on, had restrained his rage before the gathered System Lords, hiding the ages-deep wrath that the name of Anubis obviously spawned within him. He’d shuttered himself behind closed doors with only his most trusted slave before the sick vomit of emotions had erupted.
Now they were alone, and Yu could rage and rail and spread destruction without any witnesses to his emotional outburst. The carefully maintained calm was in tatters, and, if Daniel was lucky, the only things broken would be the priceless treasures spread around the room, not the fragile bones of Yu’s human servant. Before Yu faced the others, before he could mend his stoic mask, he had to lance the venom, and it would be his lo’taur, Jarren, who would pay the price. There was no sarcophagus secreted among Yu’s possessions, but the small, hand-held healing device could knit broken bones and close gaping wounds without leaving a scar. Quickly. Easily. And none of the System Lords would see one visible sign of Yu’s mad tantrum when his lo’taur stood beside him within the council chamber. Just another one of the percs of being a ‘trusted’ servant.
Yu’s coarse breathing gradually quieted in the still air, the silence dragging across Daniel’s taut nerves. A sigh, the drag of long robes against soft fabric, weight dropping into the cushions of a low bench—Daniel could see the host’s body against the darkness behind his eyelids, lowering himself to sit, still carefully watching his servant.
“Rise, Jarren.”
The voice was strained but lacked the blazing heat of a few moments ago. Daniel unbent his back, placing the palms of his hands flat against his thighs so that he could get to his feet with an attempt at gracefulness. Forcing himself to stand steady before the Goa’uld, Daniel knew the danger hadn’t passed. A cold, controlled Yu might cause more deliberate damage than one consumed by his own anger. He clasped sweaty hands behind his back and straightened his neck, trying to relax his shoulders when his muscles wanted to tighten, to ready himself for whatever was coming.
The System Lord sat stiffly on the red, plush covered bench, one hand resting fitfully on the rolled arm, the other clenched into a fist on his lap. His eyes were half-closed, their dark orbs still glittering, still fastened on Daniel’s face, clearly revealing that the Goa’uld’s pose of relaxation was a lie.
The bearded chin jerked. “Come.”
A few steps brought Daniel to Yu’s bended knees.
The fist unclenched enough to point to the floor at his side. “Kneel—here—beside me.”
Daniel stifled a sigh. More kneeling. No wonder the Jaffa always knocked SG-1 to their knees whenever they were captured—it seemed to be the universal symbol of abject humiliation and the only human posture that brought a smile to a Goa’uld host’s face. His knees were going to end up as bad as Jack’s if he managed to survive. Yu’s hand against his cheek dug Daniel’s mind from its fruitless wanderings.
“Humans are so young; your race so limited by its meager resource for memory.” A thumb traced Daniel’s cheekbone while the Goa’uld’s gaze stabbed into his. “Perhaps this is why your beauty is so… pure. It draws us, compels us to take you—as host or… plaything.”
Neither one, please, Daniel pleaded silently when Yu’s hand trailed down his neck and he couldn’t control the shivering that claimed him—inside and out. The stimulants, he insisted to himself, just the stimulants. This taste in the back of his throat—it wasn’t fear. The feral smile that touched Yu’s thin lips told Daniel that the hammering of his pulse was palpable beneath the System Lord’s searching fingers as they paused on his throat.
“All of my ancestors are alive within me, Jarren; each calls to me, bids me strike out, commands me to wreak the vengeance earned by Anubis and all who would call themselves his allies.” Yu tightened his hold until Daniel felt as if a stiff collar had been placed around his neck tethering him to the evil that sat just inches away. “Their voices are loud.” Yu’s own voice trembled beneath his control.
Daniel’s thoughts tumbled, reaching for a place of safety, words that might bring the System Lord back from the brink of his rage—that would keep him from using his lo’taur’s body to regain his own composure. The Goa’uld genetic memory—those polluted thoughts and emotions that had boiled up within Shifu’s dark dream, uncontainable, wild, untouched by Daniel’s deep moral code—Yu had lived lifetimes at those memories’ whims. A stab of empathy shot through him.
“My Lord,” the words whispered from his narrowed throat, “you are wise and unending. But your servant knows only the memories of this life.”
The grip around his neck eased and Yu’s eyebrows twitched upward. “Do you seek to understand the Great Lords of the Galaxy, my lo’taur?” The System Lord’s hand darted up to clench in Daniel’s short hair, tipping his head back. “You live one life—with no memory of the past, no knowledge of your own history that is not written down on fragile pages, painfully learned and studied.” Yu’s head shook back and forth, fingers now stroking where they had painfully clutched. “Shall I tell you of the past, my slave?”
Daniel swallowed roughly. “As my lord wishes.”
A lifetime seemed to pass before Daniel saw the acquiescence in the Goa’uld’s eyes. “Very well.” Yu straightened, one hand still resting lightly on Daniel’s shoulder, his gaze now focused somewhere beyond the gilded walls of the elegant chambers, beyond the metal confines of this space station. Daniel centered his weight on his hips and deliberately calmed his mind, hoping the current crisis was past. Whatever information Yu could give him would get him one step closer to home.
“In the days of the Supreme Lord Ra, when his Queen Hathor ruled by his side, and Osiris and Seth were brothers, the System Lords lived in an uneasy peace broken only by petty squabbles and insignificant conflicts. Ra ruled. Those with ambitions beyond their place were utterly destroyed. And The Lord Yu sat at Ra’s right hand.” The Goa’uld’s hand was heavy against Daniel’s shoulder. “And Anubis at his left.”
Six years ago, on Ra’s ship, Daniel had his first glimpse of the alien beneath the stiff Egyptian mask, the glowing eyes and echoing voice coming from the almost frail, childish figure—he remembered the mix of wonder and terror that had gripped him after he’d woken from his first death within the Goa’uld sarcophagus. Were the empty-eyed children arrayed around him the Supreme Lord’s lo’taurs? A deep sadness surged within his soul. Those lives had been lost in the fireball he and Jack had ignited above the Abydos sky.
“Inti, Ahura-Mazda, Cronos, Vishnu, Ceridwen—we ruled at his pleasure, each the overlord of his own territories, receiving tribute and holding those lesser Goa’uld,” he sniffed arrogantly, “to their places.”
Inti—sun god of the Ancient Inca. Ahura-Mazda—the high deity of Ancient Persia. Cronos—the cold eyed god who’d nearly died on Earth at Nirrti’s hand, and then fell to Jack, Sam, and Teal’c and their robot doubles on Juna. A victory for SG-1—at least for the three warriors who really counted, he reminded himself harshly. Vishnu, one of the three great gods of Hinduism, gaining power and esteem through his various incarnations—Daniel barely held back a snort of derision—the perfect explanation for the many hosts of a Goa’uld. Ceridwen, Welsh sorceress who transformed herself time and again to hunt an enemy who had stolen her power. Mother of the bard and historian Taliesin. Earth’s history corrupted at every turn by an alien species that took and took and gave back lies, slavery, and death.
Daniel remained quiet, motionless beneath the hard grip of the System Lord, Yu’s fingers unconsciously grinding deep into the muscle of his shoulder as the Goa’uld lost himself within the ancient memories. Yu was right: Daniel had spent his life buried in books with “fragile pages, painfully learned and studied.” He’d wasted himself focusing on a history that had been ghost-written by the Goa’uld, and was made up of fairy tales just as Jack had always insisted it was. He focused his gaze on Yu’s face, determined to hear the truth for the first time.
“Inti’s queen was the first to fall ill, to lose the ability to breed. At her death he removed himself from our midst and, in our arrogance, we pitied him.” Yu spit out the word in disgust. “Cronos’ brood queen fell next, rebelling against the god her mate, insane in her rage, and died from her own poison.” The System Lord’s eyes blazed gold. “And still we did not see.”
A fire raged in his shoulder now, as Yu’s fingers closed against his bones, and Daniel struggled to breathe through the pain.
“The bride of Vishnu died suddenly just as she entered the time of spawning. The god took a new host and lost himself amidst the empty reaches of space. And finally,” Yu shook Daniel as a dog would an injured rat caught in his teeth, “finally, I saw. I hid my queen away with my most trusted Jaffa and turned all my kingdom to find the traitor that would kill the most precious of all the Goa’uld.”
Daniel saw the grief war with the hot rage on Yu’s face. “My lord?” His voice wavered, the pain shaking through him, leaving him defenseless.
The Goa’uld only pressed harder, pulling Daniel’s unresisting body towards him, lowering his face until Daniel blinked as the hot spittle splashed against his skin. “But Anubis’ foul plan had come too far. He seduced my Lord Ra’s Queen from his side, setting her at the head of his armies. And, while my foolish eyes sought him among the battles, while my hands wielded sword and ship at Ra’s command, Anubis stole behind my back and destroyed the world where I’d hidden my mate!”
He heard it before the pain lanced through him—the crack of bone followed by the crushing agony as Yu shook him one last time and then threw him down to sprawl at the System Lord’s feet. Daniel didn’t try to suppress the howl of pain, eyes shut tightly, hand scrabbling against his useless left arm. Yu’s words washed over him, incoherent, unrecognizable, the truth of Anubis’ death—banishment—whatever—lost in the red veil of throbbing pain that lowered over his mind. He didn’t fight the darkness.
The stinging heat woke him. Something glowed on the other side of his closed eyes—a whine just at the edge of his hearing, a hand against the bare skin of his chest, mumbled words in a language he should know. Memories surged, threatening to choke him, and Daniel gasped, struggling to sit.
“Stop.”
One word commanded and he stilled, recognizing the hated voice of the System Lord. He let despair fill him up and slumped back into the cushions beneath him. Yu. The Goa’uld Summit. The fucked up mission to destroy the System Lords. Jack’s dismissal. Jacob’s irritation. The alien haughtiness behind Sarah’s eyes.
Yu had crushed his shoulder. And now, by the feel of it, he was using the healing device. Of course. Couldn’t have a crippled lo’taur attending him—it wouldn’t do to show weakness before his rival System Lords. Daniel choked out a dry laugh but kept his eyes firmly closed. He sure hoped Jacob appreciated all the new intel about Anubis he’d gathered before he passed out.
The sharp pain receded to a dull ache and then to a memory. The glow and the strange humming noise stopped, the hand holding him hard against the bed gentled, stroking circles on his chilled skin.
“You must rise and dress. The Kresh’taa will be here shortly and you will not show weakness before him.”
The hand grasped his chin and tilted Daniel’s head—his eyes flashed open to see the System Lord seated at his side, his dark eyes having reclaimed the cool control that he’d exhibited before Osiris’ proclamation. Yep. A little tantrum, a few broken bones, and the Great Lord Yu seemed to feel all better.
“Rise, Jarren, and attend me.”
The Goa’uld swept from the shadowed room, but Daniel laid there a moment, exhaustion weighing down his arms and legs, the frantic energy of the Tok’ra stimulant apparently dispelled by either the towering pain or the heat of the Goa’uld’s healing technology. His fingers fumbled at the pouch on his waist, identifying each familiar item with a wave of relief before he tore two more tablets from their paper sleeve and slipped them into his mouth. The tingling sensation told him the pills were working and he struggled to his feet and tugged the thin shirt and the leathery yoke over his skin before he strode out through the thick curtain that separated the sleeping chamber from his master’s sitting room.
Osiris was already there.

Osiris and Yu – At The Summit – Extended Scene
Lowering his head in a short bow, Daniel swallowed the bile, clenching his teeth against its resurgence, and shuffled towards the ancient tea set that Yu had glanced towards pointedly. His shaking hands measured out tea, laid the bronze kettle atop the heating element, and busied themselves shifting through the food secreted behind the inlaid panels while the Goa’uld settled into chairs and exchanged… pleasantries.
He heard Anubis’ name, recognized the loathing still coloring Yu’s tone and the arrogance of Sarah’s—Osiris’—smooth responses, but the memory of pain and the buzzing along his nerves made him indifferent. It was enough for him to concentrate on the simple tasks of the lo’taur, of serving food and drink to his master, of survival, at least for the moment.
“You take me for a fool.”
Yu’s disgust pulled Daniel from his thoughts. If Osiris angered Yu, if he drilled through the System Lord’s control—again—would Daniel endure another broken bone—or worse—from the Goa’uld’s hand? He turned, listening for a return of Yu’s uncontrolled rage.
“Please,” Osiris soothed, “the Goa’uld have warred with each other since the beginning of time. Anubis has been amassing power so that he might win back your respect.”
Daniel grasped the square bowls, steadying his hands carefully, and quickly placed them on the table between the two, bowing jerkily before he turned away.
“He is also no fool,” the echoing voice of Sarah Gardner followed him. “He knows that you would not accept him back without need.”
Yu’s eruption quickened Daniel’s steps. “We do not need Anubis!”
“Dissent and disbelief, previously unseen within the ranks of the Jaffa,” Osiris explained calmly, “infiltration and subversion by the Tok’ra.”
Daniel closed his eyes and willed his hands to stop their damned shaking. Osiris—Anubis—if they suspected the Tok’ra plot…
“And you cannot continue to ignore the threat of the humans on Earth.”
He fumbled with the dishes, pouring tiny cups of the bitter tea. What the hell was Osiris implying? The connection between the Tok’ra and Earth—it was too close, too real, that alliance stood beside these two plotting aliens in the body of Daniel Jackson, the pouch that felt so heavy against his waist a slim disguise for the Tok’ra poison.
“How many must die, how many dominions must fall, and how can we continue to claim to be gods if we cannot act like them?”
At his back, Yu remained silent, and Daniel wondered at his expression. Would he hear the subtle hint at conspiracy? Would his eyes be drawn to his loyal lo’taur?
Osiris continued. “The Tau’ri cannot be allowed to triumph again and again.”
“The treaty with the Asgard protect their planet.”
Daniel remembered Yu’s arrogant presence on Earth, the reluctant agreement that the Tau’ri be allowed to keep their Stargate, with the warning that wherever humans met the Goa’uld out in the galaxy, the System Lords would happily destroy them. The Asgard treaty may keep mother ships from Earth’s orbit, but it did little to guard the SG teams who stepped through the ‘gate, and absolutely nothing to protect one human posing as a servant within the ranks of the System Lords themselves.
From the System Lords,” Osiris drawled wryly.
“Who must impose the treaty on all Goa’uld,” Yu snapped back as if lecturing a wayward child.
Osiris laughed. “But not from one who’s been dead for a thousand years.”
So, that was the plan, Daniel sighed. No exposure of the Tok’ra/Earth alliance that threatened the very Summit where the Goa’uld sat so calmly, discussing the humans’ fate. No revelation of the presence of one Tau’ri, ally of the Tok’ra, carrying a Tok’ra communicator and a vial of symbiote poison around right under their noses. No, it was a pledge from the outcast Anubis, a promise to take care of the one enemy that continued to be a thorn in the side of the Goa’uld without any interference from those pesky Asgard who believed in only the letter of the law.
“What do you propose,” Yu asked, clearly interested in Osiris’ proposition.
The Goa’uld wearing Sarah’s skin waited, obviously relishing the question and the curiosity he’d provoked within the oldest System Lord. “Accept my vote on behalf of Anubis, and before he resumes his position amongst you he will destroy Earth.”
Destroying Earth—the price of admission back into the inner circle of the System Lords. If Yu agreed, if he balanced the weight of his cooling hatred of Anubis against the victory of the Goa’uld over Earth—Daniel laughed silently to himself as the stimulants surged through his body. Well, he couldn’t let that happen, could he? He couldn’t let Osiris convince Yu that Anubis could be trusted. After his outburst, Yu had settled back into his familiar logic and restraint, and Osiris’ well chosen words might be enough to sway him.
No, Daniel couldn’t allow it. Even if it cost a body full of broken bones, even if his blood decorated the walls of this space station… He’d heal. He glanced back towards the two Goa’uld, watching Yu’s silent deliberation. When Osiris left, it would be up to Daniel to remind Yu of his past, of the loss of his mate, his queen. To eliminate any chance for alliance between these two powerful enemies, and to ignite the rage within the ancient System Lord once again. He could do that; Daniel was good with words. And it wouldn’t even scar.

No Scars – At The Summit – Missing Scene
Daniel fell to his hands and knees, head hanging, and coughed blood out onto the once pristine floor of Yu’s quarters. Another blow fell against his side and he felt his ribs crack, the stab of pain in his chest partnering with the sudden pressure to steal his breath. A hand clutched in his hair pulled him upright and he opened the eye not flooded with blood to stare into Yu’s face, eyes flashing, lips white with rage.
“Do not dare to speak of her! Hassak!”
He was thrown to the floor, choking on blood, barely seeing Yu straddle his body, barely feeling hands closing around his throat.
“I will never forget her, never seek empty promises from her murderer!”
The words sounded tinny, floating away into the darkness. See, Jack—Jacob? Maybe Daniel Jackson was no good as a killer, as a hard-ass special ops type. Consciousness receded. But he could bleed, he could break, he thought, smiling to himself. He was good at that.

Chapter 7
Revanna’s Ruins – Revanna – Extended Scene
The immature symbiote within his belly pouch twisted and squirmed, echoing the unease of Teal’c’s own thoughts. From the ill-conception of this mission, from the insistence on Daniel Jackson’s departure with the Tok’ra blended human Jacob Carter, he had feared for his young friend. And now, after the brutal deaths of so many Tok’ra and the men of SG-17, and with the Jaffa of two Goa’uld stalking the collapsing tunnels, Teal’c believed that the hurried decisions that brought them to this place beneath the sands might well be the end of every member of SG-1.
He’d watched through narrowed eyes as O’Neill shared the last of his water with Lieutenant Elliot. He’d seen the pale concern on Major Carter’s bloodied face, and he’d heard the gasping breaths of the wounded human/Tok’ra at his side. As Daniel Jackson met his own fate among the false gods, so his teammates could not avoid theirs at the hand of the same enemy. This trap had been well sprung.
The last Jaffa patrol had been dealt with some time ago and the tunnels again collapsed behind the fleeing team. His own symbiote would sustain him long after the others had died of thirst, or lack of oxygen, or wounds not yet suffered. And by the weight that dragged against his left shoulder, Elliot and Lantash would be the first to succumb. Facing certain capture and torture by the evil that had enslaved his people for centuries or a quick death in battle among these, his adopted people, Teal’c knew what his choice would be.
But, what of Daniel Jackson? If he yet lived, if he still remained himself, not lost to the rape of a Goa’uld symbiote nor the rape of his spirit through his ordeal among them—if he, somehow, returned to the ruins of Revanna to search for his friends, Teal’c would not allow young brother to find only the dead. No matter the cost, no matter his own intentions to die free, he would not leave Daniel Jackson alone.
“How many more of those things do we have?”
It was O’Neill’s voice behind him, and Teal’c heard the exhaustion underlying the evenness of the human’s tone. The Tok’ra crystals that fueled this endless flight were dwindling, and the strategist within O’Neill sought an escape for his people. An escape that Teal’c could not supply.
“Six,” he replied simply.
“We can’t stay down here forever, we’re out of water.” Major Carter had also seen the last few drops of the precious liquid disappear between Lieutenant Elliot’s dry lips. But, while the surface might grant a temporary relief, it would not free them from the pursuit of the Jaffa.
Teal’c would not deceive his friends. “The Jaffa will not rest until they have found us.”
“Why do you say that?” Was it true disbelief that colored O’Neill’s tone or the unwillingness to admit defeat among those in his charge?
“If their intent was simply to kill the Tok’ra, then they have weapons that could have destroyed this facility from space.” He and O’Neill and the doomed Tok’ra Aldwin had seen the landed ships with their own eyes, as well as the squads of Jaffa sent out into the tunnels. “Their tactics of using ground troops suggest that they are looking for something.” There was no doubt that the Goa’uld knew of the Tok’ra poison and sought it with little regard for the number of soldiers who fell in its pursuit. Again his thoughts journeyed to his youngest friend. The Goa’uld knew of the poison, knew of the Tok’ra’s plans. It was unlikely that Daniel Jackson still survived.
“The poison.” Major Carter had come to the same conclusion, it seemed.
Teal’c heard the symbiote’s words stutter from Elliot’s mouth. “We can’t let them have it. If it comes down to it, we’ll have to destroy the crystal that contains the formula.”
The Jaffa frowned. If Daniel Jackson had fallen before his mission was completed, the Goa’uld would already have the poison. Calculating the distance to the Goa’uld summit with the difficulty of maintaining communications among outlying troops, he evaluated the likelihood of the recall of the ground assault. No. It did not matter. Even if the poison was now in the hands of the System Lords, they could not allow any surviving Tok’ra or Tau’ri access to the recipe for a poison that could, once again, be used against Goa’uld symbiotes. The continued attack was not proof of Daniel Jackson’s life.
O’Neill remained stalwart. “C’mon, they’ve got to stop looking for us eventually.”
Teal’c honored him for his fortitude, for his resilience before an always superior foe. But the truth must be said. “Even if they do stop searching, they will never leave the Stargate unguarded.”
“Well, Jacob and Daniel will be back sooner or later.”
Ah, O’Neill. Your guilt demands that Daniel Jackson survive no matter the evidence of your reason. Teal’c would not end his brother’s desperate hope.
Elliot’s body stirred again. “The Tok’ra will broadcast an alert telling them to stay away. They will assume that we died along with the other Tok’ra.”
Lantash’s blunt words did not dim the gleam of assurance within O’Neill’s dark eyes.
“Maybe,” the human insisted curtly.
Major Carter’s gaze returned only despair. “Well without any way of communicating with them, how will they find us?”
Teal’c saw the determined shake of O’Neill’s grey head and the deep lines of worry on his forehead. “Let’s keep moving,” he finally ordered, clearly unwilling to hear the voices of defeat that echoed from the tunnel walls. His brother—the man who had convinced the First Prime of Apophis to abandon his god with only his unyielding attitude and his few words—would not admit hope was lost, for them or for his missing friend, until the last breath left his body.
Teal’c tightened his grasp on Elliot’s weak body and followed him into the dark.

Daniel’s Risk – At The Summit – Extended Scene
It was amazing what the human mind could withstand. Daniel blinked wearily into the muted light of the shadowy bedchamber, carefully stretching each limb, searching for the pain that his mind insisted should greet his movements. He brought one hand up to his face to probe what he remembered was a broken cheekbone and felt the smooth, intact bone under his fingers, wiggled those fingers before what he knew had been a blinded eye and felt his lips twitch into a bleak smile. Whole again. Healed again.
He spied the healing device on the table near his head, gaze caught by the dried smear of blood that darkened the gold handle. The System Lord’s broad face showed no sign of regret when he’d ordered ‘Jarren’ to follow him to the council chamber. Yu had repaired his broken toy and now demanded that it dance for him. Again. But Daniel’s mind insisted that he was still far from well—reminded him with memories of pain and phantom aches that lingered in his nerves and muscles.
This time, waking from the restless darkness that swam with snake-like images and echoed with the snapping of his own bones, Daniel’s mind seemed to have abandoned fear and embraced anger. It sizzled along his nerves where the Tok’ra stimulant had once quickened him, it warmed the bare skin of his chest and arms, and it pushed him to his feet and steadied him when the remembered pain tried to seize him with a fit of trembling.
Osiris—Sarah—he’d let the two become muddled in his mind. It was time to fix that. She was right there, within his grasp, and Jacob had a handy cargo ship waiting nearby to get her back to Revanna where the Tok’ra could rip the symbiote from the woman’s body. Maybe Daniel couldn’t kill the System Lords, couldn’t fulfill the mission that had sent him out here. But, no matter what Jacob or Selmac or the SGC wanted, Daniel had another mission now.
Donning his slave attire—again—adjusting the tight cuffs that bore Yu’s mark, Daniel grabbed the Tok’ra communicator from its pouch and hurried out into the corridor. A plan had been born within his mind sometime during his last beating at Yu’s hands, and this time he’d make Jacob listen. He’d had enough of following orders as if were truly a meek, subservient minion—the clothes he’d been forced to wear, the poses of humility he’d assumed, they were simply a disguise. And it was time to remind Jacob and Selmac that Daniel Jackson had fully earned his designation as the most stubborn man on Earth.
After years of working with the SGC he’d learned enough from the military men and women who crowded Cheyenne Mountain to know that it was the operative in the field who must make the split-second decisions, in whose hands life and death and the failure or success of his mission was ultimately held. Plan B—or letters much farther down the alphabet—often came into play with SG-1. Daniel gritted his teeth against a deep yearning for his team, for the days when every voice was heard, every scenario considered, when Jack had actually sought out Daniel’s non-military, out-of-the-logic-box insights. A wave of dizziness made him stumble, but Daniel straightened his back and recovered just as another lo’taur passed, eying him with clear disdain. He shook off the weakness, the echo of pain in his chest, and brought the communicator to his mouth.
“Jacob.”
“Yeah, go ahead.”
Daniel winced at the volume of the Tok’ra’s voice and hurriedly checked the corridor ahead. “They’re going to vote on whether to accept Anubis back,” he muttered quietly. “Apparently he has a plan to attack Earth.”
“Did you get any details?”
Details? No, Jacob, Daniel thought to himself. A comprehensive battle plan was a little too much to expect. “Osiris didn’t say.” Osiris—Sarah—bringing her back with them made strategic sense. She—he—was within Anubis’ inner circle and might have the intel that the Tok’ra was looking for. Daniel didn’t have to stay on this space station to get Jacob’s answers. And getting away from here with Sarah, without being snaked or beaten again or exposed as a spy was very high on Daniel’s agenda right now.
“Hey, here’s a question for you,” Daniel began, “why do you think the Goa’uld are allowing their human slaves to hear everything that’s going on?”
“I’m not sure.”
Daniel narrowed his eyes, suspicious of the hesitation in Jacob’s voice.
“The truth is we suspected they were going to kill the slaves when the summit was done,” the Tok’ra admitted.
Well that made sense. Daniel pressed one hand to his side, wondering when the memory of pain there would disappear. If all the System Lords—self-styled gods—treated their ‘most trusted slaves’ as personal property, as toys and pets and punching bags—or worse—the way Yu did, then using them up and then disposing of them afterward was a simple yet elegant solution. Disposable humans. There were plenty more where they came from.
His anger spiked. “And you didn’t think that was important enough to tell me?” Dammit. More secrets. More questions that were never asked let alone answered.
“Not considering that you were going to kill all the Goa’ulds,” Jacob rejoined quickly.
“I’m not doing that anymore,” Daniel snarled. He needed time. Time to get Sarah alone. Time to maneuver her into a place where her superior strength wouldn’t kill him before he could get them both to Jacob.
“True. What’s your point?” the Tok’ra asked.
His point—his point? Daniel swallowed the knee-jerk reaction to curse Jacob Carter and Selmac and all Tok’ra in every language he knew. His point was that now Daniel had to find a way to delay the completion of the summit long enough to survive. Where was the almost parental concern that Jacob had shown during their journey in the cargo ship? Now it seemed that Jacob was bored with this discussion, with the thought that, if Daniel didn’t use the symbiote poison, he and all the other humans on the space station were going to be killed. If the vote was cast and the Goa’uld…
Daniel closed his eyes, the sudden memory of the sinuous slide of reptilian bodies within a silver tank gagging him, clenching his stomach into knots.
He forced slow, shallow breaths before he spoke. “There’s a big vat of live symbiotes here.”
The silence between them grew and, within his mind, Daniel dared the Tok’ra to ask again about his ‘point.’
“So they’re not planning on killing the slaves after all.”
“No, not by the looks of it,” Daniel agreed dryly. Those symbiotes needed hosts, and there was a captive audience right here of fit and able humans hand selected by the System Lords.
“Get to the shield generator and shut it down, I’ll get you out of there,” Jacob ordered.
Daniel found himself grinning at the irony. Pain, death, humiliation—yeah, these were acceptable risks. After all, if Daniel simply died the Goa’uld might never know about the Tok’ra plot. They wouldn’t have access to information about Earth or Revanna or symbiote poison. One life just didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that what he’d decided when Jacob refused to consider saving Sarah? Saving that one life? But Daniel Jackson taken as a host, well, that, apparently, changed everything. Jacob wouldn’t risk that.
Well, Daniel would. “Not yet.”
“Daniel if you’re caught and that poison falls into the wrong hands…”
Yep. Got it. The safety of the mission was the first priority, with human life falling far down on the scale. But if being taken as a host was worse than death, and Daniel admitted that he believed that, too, then leaving Sarah at the mercy of her Goa’uld was equally reprehensible. The risk was his to take, and so the decision his to make. End of argument.
He heard footsteps—someone was coming. “I won’t get caught,” Daniel whispered into the communicator. He twisted the switch to ‘off’ and quickly placed the device in his pouch, lowering his head as the female lo’taur paused to stare at him.
Yu was waiting for his slave. And, somewhere deep within the prison cell of her own body, Sarah was waiting for rescue. Daniel wiped the thin layer of sweat from his upper lip and focused on placing one foot in front of the other.

Chapter 8
Allies and Enemies – At The Summit – Extended Scene
Apparently, treaty negotiations were the same all over the galaxy. Daniel tried to keep his features set into a neutral mask, entirely uninterested in the discussion, arguments, obvious attempts at deceit and maneuverings for position, the slurs and snarls and thinly veiled threats that were shouted or drawled across the Goa’uld council chamber. He tried to blink some moisture into his eyes, but the awkward contact lenses seemed to have fused to his corneas, feeling as if they’d been stuck there by a layer of sand and glue. He carefully retrieved the empty cup from Yu’s casually extended hand and smothered a sigh. It was amazing how a person could waver between distress, abject terror, anger, hate, disgust, sorrow, resentment, and resignation within just a few sleepless days, even more surprising that now, hiding in plain sight within a roomful of evil aliens, that the emotion Daniel was experiencing most was boredom.
Daniel could credit most of that to exhaustion. The constant wearying tension of maintaining his false identity within this small space station crowded with enemies drained him dry, and he knew his mind was becoming just as fatigued as his body. Thoughts circled endlessly, possibilities and plans climbing over each other, leading him down dusty, dead end corridors and into unknowable futures with unguessable consequences. Sometime soon the sleepless nights before the mission, the days of on-edge, wired action—with more to come—plus the fall out of the dependence on the Tok’ra stimulants would drop him fast. But he couldn’t crash yet—he just hoped he’d be in a safe place when he could fall back into his own body, his own identity as Daniel Jackson, and leave Jarren behind.
His anger continued to guide him, festering in the background, silencing the familiar voices within his mind that still second guessed him, that urged him to abandon this hopeless, irrational mission that endangered the Tok’ra plan—the military plan—in favor of Sarah’s rescue from the torture of the Goa’uld. But, even resolving himself to a fierce rejection of any more interference from the former Air Force general who sat safely in a cloaked ship in distant space, the anger couldn’t rage hot enough to steady his feet. After stifling his third yawn, Daniel had been forced to swallow another of the few remaining stimulants. Gratitude towards Jacob Carter and Selmac didn’t come easily right now, but at least the Tok’ra had provided a way to stay awake.
He didn’t know how the other lo’taurs were managing—maybe they had access to the same kinds of resources—but the System Lords certainly weren’t making any allowances for the unblended humans who served them: no pauses for rest, no meal breaks, night, day, morning or evening were all the same within the space station. He sighed silently. The other lo’taurs were probably used to this kind of pace, or had been taught their roles in the same brutal manner that Yu had used with Daniel and so did everything they could to avoid repeated reminders. And, Daniel snorted softly to himself, as awful and degrading as their positions were, at least the other humans didn’t have the additional pressure of being an intergalactic superspy.
The Goa’uld sat placidly on their thrones, dissecting each others’ authority, mocking each others’ words, rehashing what must have been old arguments that had never been resolved. Osiris sat calmly across from Yu, watching the others posture and debate through slitted eyes, a contemptuous half-smirk plain on Sarah’s face. Yu also contributed little, hands hidden in the wide sleeves of his robe. When Daniel had entered the council chamber and taken his place at the System Lord’s side, the Goa’uld had paused a moment to scrutinize his lo’taur’s face, his hooded gaze lingering on Daniel’s now unmarked throat, his pale, unbroken skin, and the clear blue of eyes not filled with blood, turning his attention back to the on-going discussion without a word.
Pros and cons, demands and considerations—cycles of the same recriminations and blame echoed in the circular chamber for hours. In one unexpected moment of silence, Ba’al raised both hands, a question in his dark eyes, and met the stares of each member of the fragile alliance. Daniel watched as the Goa’uld’s slender lo’taur moved closer to his master, his face expectant, and found himself taking up a similar stance at Yu’s side. Something was about to happen.
“Who among us accepts the return of Anubis to the System Lords?” Ba’al thundered. He clasped his hands before his face and nodded.
Daniel watched as each System Lord voted—a simple nod, a tight bow, one hand fisted into another, or arms crossed over an armored chest acknowledging each one’s acceptance of Anubis, and of Osiris, his mouthpiece. Beside him, Yu was stone. Unyielding. Unmoving. Daniel felt the tension rise and sweat trickle down his back, his palms wet where his hands hung at his sides. He’d put himself in Yu’s path, he’d urged the grieving, enraged Goa’uld to remember his dead queen, pushed him to focus on the past sins of Anubis and his oath for vengeance. Daniel pressed one hand against his side, remembering the explosion of pain as his ribs had broken with one swing of the Goa’uld’s fist. If Yu voted yes—if everything Daniel did had been for nothing—if the vote was over and the attack on Earth begun…
Out of the corner of his eye he watched Yu’s flat, emotionless face, and the slightest movement of his head back and forth. No. He’d voted no. Daniel felt weak with relief.
Ba’al’s eyebrows twitched in faint surprise. “The vote need not be unanimous,” he observed dryly.
What? Daniel’s gaze flickered between Osiris’ complacent grin and Ba’al’s obvious indifference. He felt his eyes widen, his heart rate soar. If Yu’s vote wasn’t enough… but he was the oldest System Lord… Daniel had assumed … He tried to rein in his fear but the bright colors of the gaudy costumes and décor seemed to leach away into black and white and he felt his vision blurring, muscles loosening, breath clogging in his lungs.
“By a count of six to one Anubis is awarded the status System Lord and welcomed back among those that lead the Goa’uld. Osiris will be allowed to vote on his behalf.”
Ba’al’s words swept over Daniel in a rush of sound and he locked his knees, stiffening his spine and grittily blinking the council chamber back into focus. This wasn’t over—it couldn’t be over. Would Osiris initiate an attack on Earth now, and the System Lords each return to his territory secure in the knowledge that, with Anubis’ acceptance, he would cease attacking his fellow Goa’uld and would turn his ships and troops onto the Tau’ri? He steadied himself, grinding his teeth together and hoping to force some reason into his stampeding thoughts.
Daniel stared, and, directly across from him, Osiris smiled sweetly and met his gaze. “You shall not regret this,” the Goa’uld promised.
“May we rule forever,” Ba’al intoned, the words an obvious ritual.
Daniel breathed slowly and evenly, the rush of awareness returning, colors bright and glaring again against his tired eyes. He swallowed in a dry throat, expecting the gathered Goa’uld to sweep out through the doors, taking his only chance to save Sarah, to get to Jacob and back to Earth with the warning, with them.
Olokun’s reverberating voice nearly made him flinch. “There is much to discuss in that regard.”
Much to discuss? More to the summit? Daniel lifted his chin at the release of tension. Okay. Good. He flicked a glance at Osiris. This vote had been a warning—he had to hurry, had to finalize his hazy plans quickly. He had no idea what the time frame of this summit might be—and, very probably, Jacob didn’t either. Get in, use the poison, get out—that had been the original plan. And Daniel knew by now that the Tok’ra rarely considered a Plan B, so he doubted any further intelligence had been gathered.
“But first,” Kali’s unfinished exclamation interrupted his train of thought and Daniel noticed the unmistakable rush of exhilaration that flashed through the room. The Goa’uld all sat forward on their thrones; feral grins alight on their faces. Yu was pale, the only one not vibrating with anticipation.
Ba’al raised his hands again, the same arousal clear in his dark eyes. “Lo kor harek. Shal mel.”
That didn’t… Daniel ran the words through his mind. Harek? Enemy? Shal mel sounded like the idiomatic start to a toast of some kind. Some kind of slang concerning the overcoming of enemies, or saluting those who were former enemies? He stood carefully still as the room darkened and the telltale sound of ring transporters filled the air.
The grunt was pulled out of him unconsciously as the rings rose and the metal vat was revealed. The metal vat decorated with carvings of writhing symbiotes. The metal vat that contained mature Goa’uld just waiting for hosts. Looked like time was up.
Ba’al moved first, circling the basin silently. The others stood, one by one, to follow him, taking their places close against the metal vat’s sides. Their eyes glittered as they stood, their backs to the shadowed room filled with waiting human slaves, the Goa’uld’s faces turned hungrily towards the serpentine bodies that thrashed and struggled against each other. Osiris was the last to rise and stood at Ba’al’s left hand, her tall, thin figure rigid with impatience, with an air of absolute yearning that Daniel had never seen on Sarah’ face.
Slowly pulling up one of his full sleeves, Ba’al reached into the basin and snatched a symbiote from the writhing mass, holding it in both hands before him, watching its struggles, his face a victorious mask, his grin dark with triumph. Daniel grabbed at the pouch on his waist. He could kill them all—every last symbiote in this room and, with their deaths, their hosts. Sarah would die. The other hosts would die. These symbiotes would never take another human to use as a puppet, a slave. Maybe saving Sarah was a pipedream. Maybe, now, death was the only choice.
Osiris and the others reached in and took a symbiote and watched it squirm and squeal in their hands. To his right, Ba’al’s lo’taur turned his head and Daniel felt the lean man’s gaze rest on him. He frowned, trying to swallow an overwhelming surge of nausea at the scene before him as he kept his hand at his side, away from the lo’taur’s prying eyes. Ba’al’s slave—all the other slaves—none of them were reacting; there were no moans of dismay, no panic, no desperate flights to freedom.
It happened all at once. Daniel felt his mind blank out as Osiris, Yu, Bastet—all of them—bared their teeth and ripped into the flesh of the squirming symbiotes. They tore them in half, blue blood dripping down the carcasses, and threw the heads, still twisting, onto the council room floor. Teeth flashing, tongues lapping up the jutting fluids, the Goa’uld ate, cannibalized, the unblended symbiotes, savoring every taste of flesh, every swallow, their eyes glowing gold, heads thrust back and voices raised in proud, conquering cries and shouts. They licked their fingers, breathing hard and fast as if they were drugged.
Daniel blinked quickly, trying to understand. The System Lords weren’t turning their slaves into hosts, they were devouring symbiotes. Eating other Goa’uld. He slid the poison capsule back into his pouch. Yu had said something about Anubis, about wreaking final vengeance on his age-old enemy.
“… I will feel his blood drip through my fingers, I will tear his flesh with my teeth and swallow down his death as I do with all my enemies!”
What happened to a Goa’uld when he’d been conquered by another? Seth hid himself on Earth. Osiris and Isis had been placed in canopic jars and tossed away. Hathor was buried alive in a sarcophagus. And Sokar had tortured Apophis for months before banishing him to Netu. But these Goa’uld, the System Lords, they’d captured their enemies and literally fed on their corpses.
He stumbled backward a step as the Goa’uld, as one, turned to face their lo’taurs. Daniel was caught in Yu’s fierce, black stare, unable to move, unable to even glance away. Beside him, he knew the other slaves stood anxiously waiting, ready for this reaction. Daniel felt his heart hammering as Yu drew closer, moving silently, sinuously towards him, hands finally reaching out to grasp Daniel’s face, never pausing as he crowded against his body.
The same words reverberated throughout the council chamber; the Goa’uld’s doubled voices loud, insistent, irresistible:
“Chosen One, taste the death of those who would challenge your god!”
Yu’s mouth smashed into Daniel’s, tongue driving between his lips. The revolting parody of a kiss lasted a lifetime, Daniel wrestling with his reflex to gag and vomit all over his ‘god’, until, finally, Yu pulled back, swiped one thumb dispassionately over the moisture on Daniel’s chin and withdrew to his throne, coolly straightening his robes. The other Goa’uld mirrored his movements and Daniel held tightly to his vanishing dignity, watching the flushed, worshipping expressions on the lo’taur’s faces with a sick disgust.
‘Chosen One,’ he mentally snarled, ‘beloved one.’ This act wasn’t sexual in any sense of the word—what the Goa’uld had just done was brand another stamp of ownership onto their pet humans; it was a show of total control and domination over both their enemies and their slaves. And the lo’taurs—Daniel felt a deep cold within his belly as he watched their adoring faces, so very grateful for this ‘honor’ their masters had bestowed upon them—the lo’taurs were as thoroughly subjugated as any human host. The System Lords’ personal slaves were stuck deep in the throes of Stockholm syndrome, so desperate for their gods’ least attention that this… this constant demeaning abuse was taken as loving, tender affection. No. No one should have to live like this.
The servants were collecting dishes and cups and moving towards the door and Daniel hurried to imitate them. As he passed Osiris’ chair near the open hallway, a sudden thought struck him. He was tied to Sarah, to their past relationship and to her present horror in the Goa’uld’s grip. It was another personal loss, a personal failure that had reminded him of all those others he couldn’t save. He caught the gaze of Ba’al’s lo’taur as he turned and fell in at his side. Didn’t these human slaves deserve rescue as well?
Daniel’s grip on the bronze cup tightened. He couldn’t use the symbiote poison because that would leave Anubis with unchallenged reign in the galaxy—and because it would kill Sarah. But, if he didn’t destroy these Goa’uld, all these slaves—and millions more under the System Lords’ yoke within their sovereign territories, would have no hope. Slaves, Jaffa, hosts—they all lived out their lives under cruel oppression, their every breath dictated by fragile, snake-like beings that would be helpless without them.
The stoic face of his most unlikely friend came to mind—a Jaffa, a warrior, the one who had chosen his wife as Apophis and Amaunet’s plaything. With Teal’c’s rebellion and the whispered words of Jaffa on a hundred worlds, he and Bra’tac had begun to whittle away at the bone-deep loyalty of the Goa’uld’s armies. Daniel fastened his stare on the slim back of the lo’taur in front of him. Teal’c, Bra’tac and the others had destroyed their gods, had fought and won the respect of other Jaffa. Maybe Daniel Jackson couldn’t fire a staff weapon or explode a bomb or release a deadly toxin within this gathering, but he could use the weapons that came much more readily to his hand, weapons he was trained to wield from his youth. Words—he could use words.
Daniel reached deep within him for the strength he’d need to see this to the end, to endure whatever else he had to, whatever indignity or humiliation, pain or weariness. Saving Sarah and her knowledge of Anubis’ plans—yes, that was still his ultimate goal. But if, in the meantime, he could open the mind of just one of the System Lord’s personal slaves, if he could nurture the idea that, perhaps, these slavering, posturing, petty beings were not gods at all, then maybe another rebellion would someday sweep through the galaxy, and the humans oppressed by evil would rise up as the ancient Egyptians on Earth did so long ago. He swallowed a wave of sorrow. He couldn’t save Sha’re—he’d been too complacent, too weak for that. But, because of a tiny seed of doubt and the people’s courage, the Abydonians had won their freedom from the Supreme System Lord. Daniel paced wearily at Ba’al’s lo’taur’s side. If there was the least possibility, if what happened on Abydos could happen within another System Lord’s subjected masses… he shook his head. He had to try.

Plans and Consequences – Revanna – Extended Scene
The darkness of the collapsed Tok’ra tunnels seemed to be leaching into Jack’s soul. Another few hundred yards, another crystal used up and no daylight to be seen. Frustration, the urge to get somewhere, to find the enemy and engage, fight, go through or around or over them and get his men—what was left of them—to safety charged through him leaving him wired with neither the choice to fight or flee. The dregs of SG-1, towing Elliot behind them—were burrowing under the surface like a pack of prairie dogs too frightened to lift their heads. He glanced at Elliot’s slack face, the way he was draped over Teal’c’s shoulder like a limp fatigue-green cloak. Whatever favors the snake thought he was doing the kid when Lantash slithered into his body—if he wasn’t just looking for a warm body to curl up in and hide, Jack snorted—it hadn’t worked. Elliot was dying. Every slide of his feet through the dust coating the floor of the tunnels, every snatched breath told Jack that, without one major minor miracle, the last member of SG-17 wouldn’t make it.
At least it had been quiet for a while. No more great big rocks falling on their heads from Goa’uld strikes, no more staff weapon fire. But this stupid, heedless wandering in the dark had to stop—he needed to pull his head out of his ass, think his way out of this maze and get his team back through the Stargate. He didn’t let his mind dwell on the concept that there was one member of his team that no ‘thinking’ on his part could bring to safety. Daniel was okay. He was with Jacob and he was okay. He had to be.
He stepped towards his teammate and tugged on the sleeve of Teal’c’s jacket. “Hey, big guy, time for a rest.”
The large Jaffa’s gentleness always amazed him. Teal’c’s hands were the clichéd deadly weapons, big, ham sized mitts that could slap a man flat or pulverize a jaw with one punch. But, with the weak, or helpless, or injured, or especially with one particularly valuable archaeologist, Teal’c could out-soothe the best of Janet’s nurses. Valuable. Jack stifled the surge of self-loathing that tried to take over when he connected that word with Daniel’s current mission. No time for that.
Once Elliot had been lowered into Carter’s waiting hands, Jack beckoned Teal’c to his side. “He’s not doing too well,” he said, jerking his chin towards the young airman. The major was fussing, but there was nothing left to do.
“No.”
Short and not so sweet. Jack twitched an eyebrow towards the Jaffa’s stoic face before turning to meet Carter’s eyes. The bleak despair there told him everything he needed to know.
“Check our six, T, make sure we don’t have any uninvited company coming to the party.”
The big man moved away and Jack allowed himself a sigh, pressing the heels of his hands against his eyes. Ragged breaths dragged through the dank, stale air of the tunnels and he blinked his eyes open to peer through the gloom.
“We need to get to the surface, Carter. Any kind of escape plan, any kind of rescue is gonna come from there.”
“Yes, sir.”
Her tone made it clear that it was an acknowledgement of his comment, not an agreement.
“Look,” he started grimly, “it’s not an option, Carter. We’re getting off this rock.”
“Sir, without communicators, I don’t see how…”
“Hey!” Jack took a step towards her. “Now is not the time to point out all the obvious flaws in my brilliant plan,” he but some snarl into his voice. “Aim high, Major, isn’t that what the Air Force teaches us? So,” he made a plane out of his hand and flew it upwards. “Sunlight, cool breezes, and fresh, flowing water, so up we go.”
He watched a familiar tightening in the corners of her eyes, her gaze suddenly blanking out, probably seeing equations and… stuff … that Jack wouldn’t understand. Finally. Need some help from the brains of this outfit, Major, not more fatalistic crap.
“What?” he demanded.
She tilted her head to one side. “Communicators, sir. A little while ago Lantash mentioned that the Tok’ra would be broadcasting an alert—a message warning any approaching ships to stay away.”
“Yes,” Jack agreed. He could agree—he was agreeable. “And?” Come on, spill it, Carter.
“Well, they’d need some source for their broadcast on the surface so that it could carry into deep space.” Elliot coughed and she dropped her head, easing the limp figure back to lean against the sharp surface of the Tok’ra tunnel.
Some kind of broadcast device, sending a signal strong enough to reach out into space. Maybe Carter could rig it—jogging footsteps echoing from the tunnel walls jumped Jack’s hands automatically towards his weapon. Recognizing Teal’c through the gloom, he let out a breath.
“There does not appear to be any Jaffa currently pursuing us.”
Good news and more good news. “Good. And we haven’t heard bombers in a while,” Jack added, jabbing his thumb over his shoulder. “Let’s try the surface.”
Carter tried to get Elliot’s attention. “Elliot, do you hear me?”
Pale fingers against his pale cheek turned his face, but Jack frowned at the image. Two young, vigorous minds, heads bent together, too lifeless, too ashen for comfort. Even if one wasn’t the shaggy brown head from his memory, Jack’s gut twisted at the sight.
“How do we use the crystals to tunnel up to the surface?” she asked.
Jack waited, wondering if the kid was too far gone to answer. He was breathing in sharp pants through his mouth, a line of drool drying on his chin. His eyes—so electric, so full of piss and vinegar back in the ‘gate room—were barely open, dim, flat.
“… surface…” he muttered, his head lolling to one side.
“Yeah, we want to go up there and get some water,” the major explained gently, glancing up at Jack anxiously.
“Diamond,” Elliot finally gasped.
The kid was a fighter, Jack acknowledged ruefully as Teal’c searched his pockets for the last few Tok’ra crystals. Two blue-green crystals were tipped in what looked like diamond shapes. Jack shrugged at Teal’c’s unasked question and gestured towards the tunnel. Try one. If it didn’t work, try the other. What else could they do?
Carter leaned closer to the young airman. “You said the Tok’ra are probably transmitting an alert to warn others away.” She stared intently into Elliot’s eyes as if she could will him some of her own dwindling energy, some life.
His head bobbed in what could have been a nod. “Long range sensors… detect incoming ships… transmit signals to deep space…” The young man’s eyes were closed now and Jack let himself grieve a moment for the wasted potential, potential he’d been slow to acknowledge in the eager, feisty airman.
“Could we reprogram one to signal Jacob and Daniel?” Carter saw it, too. By this time, after nearly five years with the SGC, they could all recognize the signs of life trickling away. At least, Jack reminded himself sharply, they should.
The next pause was longer. “It’s possible,” Elliot finally admitted, eyelids fluttering.
“Where are they?” Teal’c’s voice sounded blunt and hard in the crystal tunnel. Doing his job. Getting the intel. Jack mentally shook himself.
“Four of them, twenty-five miles from the ‘gate.” He could see Elliot trying to pull himself together. “Each is north… south… east… and west.”
Jack pulled his sleeve back from his wrist chrono, checking the compass readings. “I figure we’re three miles from the gate.”
“Give or take.” Carter dragged Elliot’s arm back over her shoulders with just a glance of apology at the thin, forgiving smile on the airman’s face as she hauled him upright. “Either way, we’re going to have to get to one of those sensors.”
Got it, Major. Drag a dying man twenty plus miles to reach an alien communication device to broadcast a message for two friends who might never return. “Piece of cake,” he muttered to himself.

Chapter 9
Words and Revelation – At The Summit – Extended Scene
Daniel felt the scrutiny of the others like sand blowing across his skin. Morrigan’s pet, at least, limited himself to a slow, dark inspection from across the room, making sure he never moved within Daniel’s reach. No bruising showed along his nose or across his chin from Daniel’s earlier blow—looked like Yu wasn’t the only one to utilize the healing device. Cups and platters clanked and cloth rustled in the galley as the slaves worked, preparing food, cleaning up, stowing items away, but Daniel sensed time ticking away from him in their rigid backs, in the tension around their eyes, and in the buzzing along his own nerves.
His mind felt sloppy—ideas and images never fully forming before they were swept away in tides and torrents that left him confused and anxious. Save Sarah, save Earth from Anubis, save the Tok’ra poison, save the slaves—and, maybe, if there was time, save himself. He shook his head as if the motion could snap his thoughts into order. His role, Jarren, his submersion in this alien culture—it was slipping away. The clothes chafed, the neckpiece weighed down his shoulders, the calm, careful attitude of Yu’s lo’taur threatened to split and spill out the deep loathing of these creatures that filled Daniel’s veins.
“You knew they were going to eat them.” He dropped the remark abruptly and the room stilled in lapping ripples around him. Dark gazes flickered towards him and then away, frowns twitched to life on smooth foreheads, muttered curses barely reached his ears. But, behind him, he felt the tension, the expectation, in Ba’al’s lo’taur, as if he’d been waiting for Daniel to speak.
“Yes. They do that every night for as long as the summit continues.” Smooth. Unconcerned. The young man attempted indifference, but Daniel heard the underlying hint of… scorn? Superiority? He remembered his first moments on this space station, as he made the circle of the council chamber at Yu’s side—he felt a momentary shudder of exhaustion wash through him at how long ago it seemed. Yu had described Ba’al, warned Daniel of his cunning. The words from the Tok’ra report rang in his mind: manipulative, shrewd, vindictive. His lo’taur complemented him well.
The other slaves busied themselves with their errands, but they were listening. Yes, they were listening, Daniel admitted wryly to himself. Prettily dressed spies, sycophants aching for some tidbit to bring before their masters that would earn them the least crumb of praise or tenderness from those clutching, bruising hands. The rush of disgust startled him and he stood, confused, blinking down at the vessels near his shaking hands. He wasn’t here to judge these people, to set them up beside other enslaved humans he’d known, others who had fought and clawed for freedom with their blood and souls. No, this anger in his belly was not aimed at them—it couldn’t be. They were as surely trapped in these narrow little lives as any shackled prisoner in a narrow cell.
Drop a seed; shine a wavering light into the utter darkness of the System Lords’ cruel attentions. Teal’c—remember Teal’c. He’d expect no less. “What do you think will happen when this is over—to us, I mean?” His words came out in a rush, fumbling, clumsy. He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to find the linguist, the diplomat, beneath the trappings of slave and soldier.
“That is between you and your Master.”
Try again, he growled to himself. “Don’t you think it strange that the Goa’uld are letting us see their sacred rituals, hear their most secret conversations?” No. That wasn’t right. The personal lo’taurs were intimate with their masters, keepers of secrets who had been tested and tried before ever being allowed to serve. Daniel’s mind grasped for reason, for the right words to persuade, to inspire, but thoughts scattered, leaving him empty.
The voice was soft behind him. “I have been in the service of my Master for twenty-four years.”
My god. Twenty-four years. The slim young man might be twenty-eight, thirty at the most. A lifetime of service, of slavery. Perhaps marked, chosen, from birth, raised within Ba’al’s household, trained and taught and prepared for his obedience, his own will, individuality, uniqueness forced into a mold. Suppressed. Eliminated. Daniel hung onto the counter before him, afraid that he would fall. What could his few words do?
“In that time I have seen and heard many, many things. Have you not?”
The other lo’taurs were staring openly now, waiting. Daniel swallowed. He had to explain, had to find a way to make his stuttered questions sensible, logical, to find an answer that would pull him up out of this hole he had created for himself.
The Tok’ra intel rushed back—Jarren was new, undeveloped, had only held this ‘blessed’ position for months. Yu’s lo’taur had been killed in Morrigan’s attack.
“My Master’s regular lo’taur could not be present; I took his place on short notice,” he stammered. No. No. Slow down, Daniel. Get it right. Watching the knowing glances exchanged and the smirking grin from Morrigan’s slave, he felt a sliver of relief. His bumbling words had been mistaken for euphemisms, for clever turns of phrase and the conceit of false modesty. Dragging a breath through his aching throat he waited, back still turned, for the lo’taur’s response.
“I see.”
Slowly, the others finished their preparations and moved out into the hallway in ones and twos. Daniel kept his head down, concentrating on his hands as they worked, unconsciously picking up and putting down items, pouring, stirring, mixing, trying to time his movements with the slave at his back, watching out of the corner of his eye. It seemed the other man was waiting, too, his pace deliberately sluggish, dawdling.
Hints and awkward questions weren’t working. The thick shell of subservience that had been built around this young man required an assault—it wouldn’t fall to whispered doubts and suspicions. Time worked against him now, every moment, every one of his useless, inept words bringing him nearer to exposure, to capture. He had to risk it—risk direct, open speech. He snorted to himself—subtlety was apparently beyond his skill anymore, his mind a blank mass of roiling emotion. Daniel purposely squashed his self-loathing, his seething anger that he couldn’t even do this right, couldn’t even break through the barriers to reach this man. ‘Not fair, I’m not a soldier,’ he’d repeated to himself since this hapless mission began. Well, no, but then what exactly was he?
As the last lo’taur disappeared from view, Daniel turned. “May I speak honestly with you?”
Raised eyebrows greeted him. “Have you not been honest prior to now?”
Funny. He sounded like Teal’c trying to find his way through English idioms. Daniel blinked, forcing his thoughts back into the moment. Honesty—another mistake. Complete honesty between the personal slaves of the System Lords was neither expected nor appreciated. He felt his lips curl into a mocking smile. This man might not believe a word that came from Daniel’s mouth, but not because he doubted his identity as Yu’s lo’taur—no, precisely the opposite—because he believed it.
“Yes, of course,” Daniel insisted, all the false notes clear in his tone. No trust given, none received, no matter their words of agreement. Dammit. Useless. Futile. Pathetic. All those words others had used to describe him over the years came rushing back. ‘Not exactly incompetent.’ Maybe exactly that. But, he sighed wearily, he had to try.
All brakes off. No filter. Just the truth. “I believe the Goa’uld are powerful beings that use humans like us as hosts.” He let his tired gaze hold Ba’al’s slave, dropping all pretense. “I believe they use their power to portray gods, so that the masses will follow and serve them.”
With a slight frown, the slave turned away. “I agree.”
“You know this to be true?” Daniel snapped back, shocked.
“Yes.”
“And yet you still serve?”
“As do you,” the lo’taur replied smartly, throwing the accusation over his shoulder.
Daniel dropped his head, staring down at the metal pitcher clutched in his hands. They knew. The human slaves knew that these beings, these System Lords, were anything but gods. What had he seen out there in the council chamber that he’d mistaken for mindless devotion? How did these Goa’uld, the naked symbiotes in all their fragile ugliness, inspire worship in humans they deliberately abused, that they kept tied to their questionable mercy for all the necessities of life?
Fear? Self-preservation? That didn’t explain it, didn’t justify those expressions of burning piety, fawning dedication. Didn’t the lo’taur understand? “Yes, but my fear is when this is over my Master will not wish me to spread the secrets that I have learned and will kill me to prevent it.”
“You would not be here if your Master did not trust you.”
The human slave was actually trying, uncomfortably, to reassure him. Daniel’s grip tightened as all of the muscles in his body tensed.
“True,” he said quickly, between clenched teeth. “But what if they do not care what we have seen and heard because, when they are done eating the symbiotes, they plan to put the leftovers in us.”
Awe. Wonder. There on the pale, young face of a human slave who had been born to accept cruelty from Ba’al’s hand as a blessing. Daniel felt his eyes widen in horror.
“We should only be so fortunate,” the lo’taur breathed.
His gut heaved and pitched, nausea rising to flood his throat. “Excuse me?” he barely stammered.
“I have served my Master so well for so long in the hope that one day he would grant me the honor of implantation…”
“…the honor…” Daniel found himself repeating tonelessly.
“Yes,” the slave panted, his eyes filled with a crushing desire, an inhuman greed. “Endless pleasure and the power of the Goa’uld.” His stare bored into Daniel, hot, grasping, as if the archaeologist must share this lust, this hunger to trade his role of slave for that of slave-master. The lo’taur sneered. “A chance to one day ascend to the rank of System Lord.”
Daniel nodded, finding himself mirroring Ba’al’s servant’s knowing smile while his stomach turned and his sincere words tumbled to silence. This man may have born an innocent victim of the Goa’uld’s bitter subjugation, but now he was a complicit, scheming partner in crime. Save the slaves? Save them from rape and beatings and oppression? His chest tightened, breathing reduced to shallow gulps of air. How naive of him. Any rebellion within the humans of the Goa’uld kingdoms would not start with the trusted lo’taurs. No, these men and women would gladly rip the flesh from anyone that stood between them and the power they sought. Including Daniel.
The slight narrowing of the lo’taur’s eyes and the tilt to his head reminded Daniel of the necessity of a response.
“How foolish of me to try to test you with my words,” he finally managed to reply, bending his neck in a quick bow. “There is nothing quite like power, is there?” The words tasted bitter, poisonous.

The lo’taur agreed quickly, face shining with unholy glee. “Nothing."

part 2

 

 

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Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a parody for entertainment purposes only. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted anywhere without the consent of the author.