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#4 in the Life's Little Problems Series
Color Outside the Lines
A Little!Danny fic by: Maj. Cliffhanger

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Part 1

Both Cam and Danny glanced up at the sound of the doorbell and frowned. They'd only just gotten home and their friends were all tied up in a meeting back at the mountain. Glancing at the kid, Cam shrugged. Probably just a Jehovah Witness or something, but he didn't like the timing. "Stay put," he decided, setting aside the half-opened newly purchased electric can opener on the kitchen table. "I'll check it out. You hit the panic button if I yell." He pointed to the security system control pad beside the garage door.

Danny nodded off-hand and opened the appliance's instruction manual.

"Don't plug it in while I'm gone!" Cam admonished him even as he turned to head for the door. He paused in the entry hall to check the surveillance camera, then smiled in surprise as he recognized Col. Dave Dixon and a couple of his boys. He quickly disarmed the alarm system and swung the door open.

"Hey, neighbors!" he greeted the wheelchair bound man jovially.

"Hey, Mitchell," the other returned easily. "Busy?"

"Nope," he answered readily and stepped back to admit their guests. "I take it you talked to Landry?"

The oldest boy -- about twelve -- wheeled his father forward while the younger boy brought forward a large Tupperware container of some kind. "Welcome to the neighborhood," he recited dutifully.

"Yup," Dixon answered even as Cam took the pro-offered gift. "'Said you'd explain. 'Hope you like chocolate chip."

Cam popped the lid to take a peak inside and was immediately greeted by the unmistakable aroma of homemade cookies. "Oh, man," he sighed appreciatively. "I do believe someone's appetite is going to be ruined for dinner -- and I'm not talking about the kid."

"Dad said you had a little boy?" The youngest of the two boys immediately spoke up, craning his neck to look around Cam for the object of his curiosity.

Cam grinned at the kid's sense of priorities. "Danny!" he shouted over his shoulder even as he turned to lead their guests into the living room. "Cookies and company! Come say hi!" He stripped the Tupperware lid off and offered the container to the others.

The colonel declined but neither of his boys did. "One only!" their father admonished them sternly. "You got another three or four dozen back home."

Cam snagged one as well and offered a groan of ecstasy as he bit into the still warm gooey goodness. "Your wife got a sister, Dixon?" he asked around the sweet mouthful.

Daniel had popped out of the kitchen but hesitated uncertainly by the breakfast bar. Dixon's youngest wasn't shy. He grabbed another cookie and went right over to Danny, offering it up with a bright, "I'm Jason. Who are you?"

The men exchanged knowing glances as the kids quickly sized each other up. Danny was a little disconcerted by the candid approach, but recovered quicker than Cam expected and took the cookie. "Danny," he answered readily and bit into the treat. "Mmmm!" he exclaimed. "These are good!"

"Mom makes 'em all the time," Jason answered with a shrug. He popped the rest of his own in his mouth and thought nothing of trying to talk around it. He turned to point at Dixon. "Thath's mith dthath."

Ever the linguist, Danny had no trouble understanding him. He offered their adult guest a shy wave.

"Yoth goth anyg thoyths?" the other boy mumbled

"Sure," Danny shrugged and, with a wave of his hand, led Jason back to his room. A simple nod from their father had the older boy tagging along with a much-put-upon roll of the eyes.

"Andy will keep 'em busy while we talk," Dixon promised. "You wanna go outside or maybe an office or something?"

"How about the dining room table?" Cam suggested. It was far enough removed from the hall that little ears couldn't remain hidden and eavesdrop -- especially if he clicked on the TV. Putting thought to action, he chose a wonderfully boring infomercial and stole another chocolate chip cookie before setting the container on the coffee table.

The other man wheeled his chair around with way too much dexterity, bringing back memories Cam tended to try and forget.

"You joined the rehab basketball team yet?" he asked as he led the way to the dining room and slid the end chair out of the way.

"Won't be in the chair that long," Dixon replied. "They got me up on the parallel bars the other day when we talked."

"Cool," Cam nodded. "So, they're expecting a full recovery?"

Dixon grinned. "I'm too stubborn to give 'em what they're expecting!"

Cam understood far too well what the man meant and offered up a mischievous wink. "Give 'em hell, sir," he told him.

"Absolutely." The commander of SG-13 nodded decisively, then folded his arms and cocked his head to the side. "So...?"

"So..." Cam echoed. A glance toward the hall confirmed they were still alone. "What do you want to know?"

Dixon gave him a bit of a blank look for a second. "You tell me!" he chuckled in surprise. "You were the one who told me I needed to call Landry, then Landry tells me to talk to you. What's with the verbal run around, man?"

Cam's brows rose. "They didn't tell you anything?"

"'Phone's not secure and Landry said it wasn't worth the pain in the ass of driving in and dealing with all the security check points, what with the wheelchair and all. 'Said you were the best one to explain it anyway." He cocked his head to the side again. "Then he laughed."

"Oh, sure," Cam sighed, rolling his eyes. "He thinks it's funny! Well, okay, not funny ... but I suppose there is a bit of a 'cute' side to it all if you think about it the right way - just don't let Danny catch you saying that."

"Danny," Dixon repeated knowingly. "I thought that story about him being the son of a friend lost in Iraq sounded a bit too convenient, especially given the kind of job we do. Exactly who - or should I say 'what'? - am I letting my kids play with at the moment?"

"You remember that 'other Danny' you said the kid looked like the other day?"

"Jackson?" Dixon asked in surprise. Then he cast the hallway a glance of his own before leaning forward and lowering his voice conspiratorially. "Are you saying he knocked up some alien princess or something, and the kid is his? Why isn't he taking care of him, instead of you?"

The question took Cam by surprise and won a sharp bark of laughter - not that Jackson hadn't had ample opportunity to get into that kind trouble or anything, but.... Cam forced the laughter back to an amused grin. "Sorry," he apologized for his confusing reaction. No wonder Landry had laughed at the idea of having to fill Dixon in! "No. The kid's not Jackson's. Jackson is the kid."

Dixon stared at him for a long moment as he absorbed what Cam had just said, then sat abruptly back in his wheelchair. "You're kidding me, right?"

Cam offered an self-deprecating shrug of his shoulders. "SG-1 walked into an Ori trap 'bout three weeks ago and this was the result: one minified archaeologist."

"...Why?" the other man asked bluntly, still obviously wrestling with the whole idea.

"'Don't know." Cam shrugged yet again. "We think they were actually trying to kill him - you know, reverse age him so maybe he couldn't ascend or something? - but we're not sure. Carter figured out a way to stop it, but...."

"...But now you're stuck playing Mr. Mom," Dixon concluded. "Does he, you know ... remember anything, or--"

"--Oh, yeah." Cam nodded, tapping his own temple for emphasis. "It's all still up there, just a little scrambled around. His brain got rewired with the downsizing, so.... Doc says it's like he's remembering in reverse - what happened thirty-five years ago seems like yesterday; and what happened yesterday seems like thirty-five years ago. Not a perfect analogy, but - you get the idea."

"So he thinks he's five years old?"

Cam offered that a shrug and nod both. "He is five years old," he noted, "--kinda. He's still this galaxy's foremost expert on the Ancients and the Ori, but he needs to be held when he's scared and told to take a nap when he gets cranky."

"Can it be fixed?"

"Carter says it can," Cam answered, refusing to believe otherwise. "And we've got the Asgard and Tok'ra helping out too." He nodded. "'Just a matter of time."

"In other words, they don't know," Dixon surmised grimly.

Cam laughed lightly in answer. "I learned a long time ago not to bet against Carter. If she says she can do it; she can do it."
* * *

"I can't do it." She shook her head. "Sorry, sir."

"Why not?" Jack wanted to know, waving her to take a seat beside him at the conference room table.

The lieutenant colonel sighed in frustration before taking the indicated seat. "Unfortunately, the Asgard and Tok'ra haven't been very good at keeping us in the loop."

"Now, why am I not surprised by that?"

"I can't give you the gist of a report I myself haven't gotten."

As obviously true as that was, it didn't stop Jack from offering up his most pathetic look. "Not even a hint?"

The look won him a small smile at least, and then Sam glanced at her watch. "They'll be here in fifteen minutes, sir," she assured him.

Fifteen minutes he should be spending on paperwork and didn't want to.

"What's that?" he asked, nodding at the thick sheaf of papers she'd plopped down in front of her own place, half-suspecting she was going to add to his own small pile.

"Notes mainly," she answered, flipping the top folder open and frowning down at it. "A more detailed analysis of the original energy pattern we detected in Daniel's cells and some comparison analysis against various other energy forms we've encountered over the years, most significantly the residual energy patterns that were detected within both yourself and Daniel following your sarcophagus addictions--"

"--Ah!" Jack chose to stop her right there, offering the memory of his repeated exposure to Ba'al's sarcophagus a definite shudder and warning her off the topic with a single raised finger.

She offered the warning an apologetic nod and continued. "There does seem to be a correlation, sir."

"You knew that last week, Carter," he noted. "Did your team manage to learn anything new while you were busy being chased by man-eating bugs?"

She offered her own shudder for that memory. "No, sir, not really," she admitted.

"Good report, by the way," he offered quickly, hoping to lift her spirits. A frustrated and dejected Carter was not a pretty thing. "Clear, concise - 'make a great script for Martin Lloyd and his 'Wormhole Extreme' show, if it hadn't gotten canceled, of course."

The distraction didn't work.

With a little sigh, he glanced back down at the thick stack of papers before her. "'You even had a chance to go through all that yet?"

He knew she hadn't. She'd only been back at the SGC for a couple of days before she was tapped, along with Col. Reynolds and SG-3, to take the IOA delegates on their disastrous little tour of the Gamma Site. Landry had ordered her to take some down time upon getting back - the research into young Daniel's problem could wait a day or two - and then the boy had scared them all to death with that damn fever of his! Dr. Lam had insisted on keeping him for twenty-four hours before finally releasing him earlier this morning when it became obvious the kid had no lasting side effects from his 'traumatic memory flashback' which had resulted in 'flooding and brief reactive psychosis' - whatever the hell that all meant. He didn't care as long as it kept everyone from digging too deep into what had really happened.

Carter offered the stack a mild grimace. "Not as well as I need to," she admitted unhappily.

Jack nodded and forced himself to go back to scanning through his own morning brief. "You'll figure it out," he told her confidently as they waited for the others to arrive.

He frowned down at the daily summary reports he was required to read and sign off on. He'd let them stack up a bit over the last few days, but his secretary had called to bug him about it this morning. Apparently his aide-de-camp was incapable of sifting though the morass to decide what should and shouldn't be passed on to the President and Joint Chiefs, let alone the IOA.

A glance through the Plexiglas star map at the back of the room showed him Landry busy talking to Walter about something or other. What Jack should have done when he originally left was take the Chief with him! Too late now, he knew; Landry wasn't about to let the other man go.

He opened the file and skimmed the top page. The first item got X'ed out and a jotted, 'Get on their asses about this!' It had been nearly a year since the subspace communications repeater on M42-213 had gone on the fritz and the Combat Communications Unit had yet to fix it. True, it was in a scarcely populated area of space that both the Ancients and the Goa'uld seemed to have largely ignored, but it was a blind spot in their ships' communications network and it should have been fixed by now.

Next to hit the chopping block was a suggestion from the IOA that this might be a good time to re-open negotiations with the Aschen Confederation. That won a lifted eyebrow before getting several big X's through it and the note, 'Are they insane!?' - underlined, of course. Repeatedly. Bureaucratic idiots! The enemy of my enemy was most definitely NOT my friend in this instance. He seriously doubted the Aschen could do anything to stop the Ori anyway, completely lacking any real interstellar capability even if they were advanced in other areas. They might manage to distract the Priors for a few days - maybe weeks if Earth was lucky - but he fully expected the Ori would roll right over them.

Assuming the Replicators or Anubis hadn't taken care of the job already. It wasn't something they'd bothered to ask their allies about.

Frowning, he fought the urge to play with his pen. He puffed out his cheeks and blew out a sigh as he turned the page.

The Canadian Deputy Commander of NORAD had retired two months ago and his replacement, Lt. Gen. Bouchard, had yet to be fully brought into the SGC loop - meaning he'd been fed the standard line of crap about NORAD's day-to-day operations being moved to Peterson Air Force Base. After the Prior Plague scare a few months back, the Pentagon had finally decided to move NORAD for the sake of increased security at the SGC. As far as most people were concerned, the Cheyenne Mountain Complex was to be reduced to a backup facility for NORAD and kept on 'warm standby,' thus explaining the fact people were still obviously coming and going, albeit not quite as many as before. However, NORAD and USNORTHCOM were still supposed to provide the SGC with secondary security forces in the event of a 'Foothold' situation, so Bouchard needed to be read in. Maj. Davis had been scheduled to brief him twice so far and both times the meetings had been canceled at the last minute. Note: 'Beam his ass to the mountain and give him a tour if you have to!'

...A request from Atlantis for two dozen 'Odor Eaters', size 10DD? Dr. Rodney McKay. No wonder. Another big X and a suggestion he go see the doc.

Sheppard wanted jet skis - something about them being more cost effective than using puddle jumpers. That got a snort! 'Not when you figured in the cost of transporting and storing the fuel! Sam offered Jack a surprised glance and he shook his head, mumbling a quiet, "Sorry." Another X and a note: 'Nice try!'

Teal'c arrived about then. The two men exchanged greeting nods as the big guy sat down. Teal'c also got a quick smile from Carter. A glance at Jack's watch told him they had about three minutes - which meant the geeks were probably going to be late. Naturally.

With another sigh, he went back to the brief. Next - Alpha Site request: 1500 feet of 'flight line' and 100 gallons of 'jet wash' - industrial strength. Jack sighed and shook his head. Apparently, someone was having way too much fun messing with the off-world trainees!

The sound of voices in the hall drew his attention - thankfully! - and Jack glanced up to watch Dr. Lam, Dr. Lee and Nyan make their way into the room. A glance at his watch again said they had about one minute. And then he realized he wasn't sure if the Asgard and Tok'ra were going to beam down or come via the Stargate. He turned to Carter beside him and opened his mouth to ask just as the room filled with bright white light.

"Never mind," he told her and happily closed the folder with his daily briefs to be finished later.
* * *

Part 2

"Whoa...." The younger of the two Dixon boys was quite ebullient in his appreciation of the Egyptian mural and trappings in Danny's bedroom. The older boy appeared momentarily impressed as well, before he masked the look behind a more 'mature' facade, feigning indifference. He closed the door behind them, knowing his father and 'Mitchell' needed to talk about work.

"This is so cool!" Jason continued, glancing around in envy.

Andy's eyes were caught by the computer and his careful facade was immediately threatened. "You've got your own computer?"

Daniel nodded and easily moved forward to turn it on. He frowned and paused suddenly before inputting his password - not because he was afraid of letting them see it, 'though that was a concern as well; no, he paused because he suddenly realized some of the information he had on the system might be considered classified. The other kids probably wouldn't know what it was, let alone understand it, but he still didn't want them messing with it. The really critical stuff was encrypted behind a secondary password, but he didn't want to take any chances.

He bit his lip as he debated what to do.

"'Did your dad maybe write your password inside your owner's manual or something?" Andy suggested. "Mom always does that with her system. Or writes it on a piece of paper and tapes it to the bottom of the keyboard." The older boy lifted the keyboard to check.

Writing down an administrative password and putting it somewhere anyone could find was just stupid, Danny thought, but he didn't say it aloud.

"It was probably something easy to remember," Andy prompted him. "Like your birthday or maybe a pet's name?"

Daniel's password was a properly randomized mix of upper and lowercase letters and numbers, carefully memorized - or, more accurately, re-memorized after Sam hacked it for him. He frowned in thought, realizing that Sam had also set up his system in the first place, which meant she might have installed a secondary guest area with limited permissions already....

He deftly typed in the word 'guest', which was used at the SGC for non-critical computer access and ... voila! He needed to thank Sam again for being so smart. He grinned and quickly checked the menu to see what was accessible. It wasn't much, which was good. He pulled up one of the computer games Mitchell had insisted he get earlier in the week.

"Cool!" Andy declared. "'Can I?" he asked, practically drooling to get at the system.

It was safe enough as long as they were in the guest area, Danny decided. With a shrug, he slipped out of the chair and let the older boy take his place. Jason looked like he was more interested in one of the military action figures Jack had brought with him. Danny had four. They were all heavy sculpted plastic and not the typical GI-Joe thing - more collector type pieces - except for the Barbie done up in dress blues. Her hair had been carefully cut to resemble Sam's. The rest of them were done up in various combat uniforms. Mitchell had been upset that he wasn't represented and claimed he was going to go on-line to find a doll to 'complete' Daniel's collection. None of them actually looked very much like SG-1 -- the one that was supposed to be Jack looked more like Jonas, and Teal'c's figure was too skinny - but that didn't matter. Danny thought they were great anyway.

"This one looks like my dad," Jason said, running a gentle finger over the one that was supposed to be Daniel's adult-self. It did look more like Dixon then him - or at least the 'him' he seemed to remember. Action figures didn't come with long hair and glasses. "He's not paralyzed or anything, you know," the other boy continued. "He was for a little bit at first, but he's going to be fine now. He's a colonel in the Air Force and got hurt when some equipment he was working with exploded or something." He nodded firmly to himself as he continued to stare at the doll. "He's going to be fine," he insisted.

Danny didn't miss the silent fear that the stubborn words were meant to mask. "You can play with it, if you want," he offered kindly. It must be really scary not to be sure if your father would ever walk again.

The boy picked up the doll and held it tight. He swallowed after a long moment and suddenly turned to Daniel, banishing whatever dark thoughts were haunting him. "Want to play Alpha Force Recon?"

Danny had no idea what the kid was talking about, but it sounded military. It didn't sound as much fun as pretending he was on a dig with his parents, but he could pretend it was an undercover mission for SG-1 instead. It was nice to have someone his own age to play with for a change. He shrugged and nodded, picking up the 'Jack' doll. "Sure," he agreed.
* * *

Kvasir, of course, came straight to the point. "As expected, we have confirmed that the device discovered by doctors Jackson and Lee is indeed capable of performing various functions beyond the earlier observed ability to reanimate dead tissue and the apparent ability to heal; the latter function being fostered by the unsubstantiated belief that the Goa'uld sarcophagi are based on this technology - a function, which I must hasten to add, we have yet to duplicate."

"The connection between Tel'chak's device and the Goa'uld sarcophagi is well known and not in question," Delek insisted, sounding as if it were something that he'd been forced to repeat many times over the last several days.

"Perhaps it should be."

Delek rolled his eyes and threw up his hands.

"Although the energy traces taken from victims of Goa'uld sarcophagi are similar in certain respects to that produced by the device, there are significant differences as well. It is quite obvious the Ancients never intended for their creation to be used on a more primitive humanoid life form."

Jack rolled his eyes. 'Here we go with the 'primitive' again!

"No one is arguing the fact that the sarcophagus was specifically engineered to modify the energy output so it could be used on humans--"

"-Which presumes that the discovery of the Ancient device fueled the creation of the sarcophagus," Kvasir interrupted. "Historical evidence clearly indicates that the Unas--"

"-Had a device similar to a sarcophagus long before Tel'chak discovered his device. I know!" Delek sighed. "We've been over this."

"It is your continued refusal to acknowledge simple fact which forces me to repeat myself," Kvasir rejoined haughtily, making the Tok'ra grind his teeth.

"Gentlemen!" Landry quickly interrupted the argument before it could escalate to physical violence. Too bad, Jack thought; he'd have enjoyed seeing the irritating little schmuck of an Asgard taken down a notch or two. "I think we're getting off track here."

"Not really," Delek sighed again. "It is my belief that we should abandon further study of the device as being too dangerous and find a Goa'uld sarcophagus to study instead--"

"--Which would be a patent waste of time," Kvasir interrupted stridently - or as stridently as any Asgard was capable! "The Goa'uld sarcophagus is inherently flawed. One does not use a damaged tool to repair a broken human."

"At least it's a tool that was designed for use on humans!" Delek countered swiftly.

"It is not the tool used to transform Dr. Jackson," Kvasir rejoined patiently.

This was getting them nowhere fast. Jack lifted his hands for a moment. "Whoa!" he ordered sharply. "Enough!" A warning glare kept the Tok'ra from responding to Kvasir's latest barb. "Bottom line: what have you learned to help Daniel?"

"Nothing," Kvasir answered bluntly.

"We're still trying to figure out how the transformation was accomplished," Delek added a little more helpfully. "The argument now is how to continue doing that. Whether to keep experimenting with a dangerous technology we really don't understand, or to find a similar technology that we do, flawed or not." He offered the Asgard a dark frown.

Jack ignored the look. "The Tok'ra have been studying this device for months. Now, all of a sudden, you're saying it's too dangerous?"

"Our previous studies had been limited to translating the Ancient text upon the device and trying to understand its physical construction, without actually turning it on," Delek answered. "The dialect was quite old and obscure. Unfortunately, it didn't tell us much - leaving us little choice now but to experiment with different settings ... with disastrous results."

Landry frowned. "Disastrous?" he echoed.

Delek grimaced. "One of my assistants was in the room setting up an experiment with mice when the device was turned on by accident. The resultant energy burst caused his eyes to disappear."

"Disappear?" Jack's turn.

Lam sat forward in disbelief. "You're talking about more than blindness caused by the sudden emergence of cataracts or the severing of the optic nerve here, right?"

"It is as if he never possessed ocular organs," Kvasir specified with a nod and turned to Delek. "But, as I have already informed the Tok'ra, I have altered the remote control in such a way that it cannot be triggered by accident again."

"That doesn't help Lor'ak or Truren," Delek argued.

Carter interrupted in surprise. "The symbiote lost its eyes too?"

"As did the mice," Kvasir admitted.

Dr. Lee leaned forward in morbid curiosity. "Did the organs simply vanish from the eye sockets or did the eye sockets vanish as well?"

Jack again lifted his hands. "Uh, uh, uh, uh!" he exclaimed, waving everyone to silence. "This is a briefing, not a verbal debate of everything we do and do not know. Do we all understand what the word 'brief' means?" he asked clearly, being sure to make eye contact with each person at the table to emphasize his point. Teal'c, of course, hadn't said anything so far so merely returned his momentary glance with a nod as if to say 'thank you!'

"Back to why we're here." Jack chose to focus on the Tokra simply because Kvasir was so irritating. Of course, Delek wasn't far behind. "You want to play with a sarcophagus," he surmised. "I don't suppose the Tok'ra happen to know of where one is just laying around unused and unguarded that we can simply pick up for you, do they?" he asked sarcastically.

Delek frowned irritably again. "I might if the Jaffa who keep finding such would refrain from destroying them on sight!" He cast Teal'c a disgusted look as if personally blaming him for the Free Jaffa's rampage against the remnants of their old masters. Teal'c lifted his right brow but otherwise didn't deign to respond.

"The study of such flawed technology is pointless!" Kvasir repeated pedantically. "Such a course of action will only lead the research to equally flawed conclusions - ultimately endangering Dr. Jackson, not helping him."

"And what makes the sarcophagus so flawed?" Jack frowned, then amended the question with a wave of his hand. "Aside from the whole destroying your soul bit, of course." He winced as he heard himself; as if that wasn't enough?

"It does more than 'destroy the soul' or even simply heal the host and symbiote of injuries, O'Neill," Kvasir answered. "It is my belief that the sarcophagus is also responsible for rewriting basic Goa'uld genetics."

Delek rolled his eyes. "I wish!" he replied. "The Tok'ra and Goa'uld are descended from the same genetic tree, Kvasir. As much as it pains me to admit it, our DNA is the same. We choose not to use the sarcophagus because of its deleterious effects on the host - not because it does anything to our DNA."

"I suspect the changes are subtle," Kvasir argued. "When was the last time your scientists conducted a broad range DNA comparison between your two peoples?"

Jack again quickly intervened, all too easily seeing where this was heading. "Uh, uh, uh, uh!!!" he interjected again, lifting a hand to silence Delek before he could answer. He then turned back to Kvasir. "Briefly!" he repeated. "What's wrong with the sarcophagus?"

"I do not know--"

Jack grit his teeth and fought the urge to wring one little gray neck!

"--but the evidence that something is wrong is undeniable."

"What evidence?" Delek pounced, his patience stretched even farther than Jack's.

"Simply: Ra was over ten thousand years old when the Tauri killed him, correct?"

Delek shook his head and shrugged in exasperation. "Closer to twelve, we think; why?'

Kvasir noted the information with a nod. "And in all that time, he never took another host."

"Human host, you mean," the Tok'ra allowed. "He was the one who started the migration away from the Unas."

"Why?" Kvasir asked pointedly.

"Because, despite the Unas' great strength and own regenerative powers, the use of the sarcophagus meant that the human host was easier to repair."

"Goa'uld 101 here, Kvasir," Jack interjected again. "Your point?"

"Ra's sarcophagus was different than that of other Goa'uld."

"You're saying he had an Unas sarcophagus?"

"No," Kvasir denied. "I am saying that the technology he passed on to his children was purposely flawed. Lord Yu proves this."

Jack was getting a headache! "Come again?"

"Lord Yu may have been the oldest of the System Lords at the time he was killed by replicators, but he was considerably younger than Ra. If Lord Yu's sarcophagus were the same as Ra's, he should have been as healthy and vital - yet he suffered from senility and had reached the point where he could no longer take a new host."

"You're saying Ra purposely sabotaged the technology to keep the other Goa'uld from usurping his power?" Dr. Lee surmised in surprise.

"Goa'uld genetic memory is passed through the maternal line," Kvasir pointed out. "He had only to pass on the misinformation to his Queen at the time."

"Hathor." Jack grimaced as if simply saying the name left a bad taste in his mouth.

Kvasir offered him an understanding nod. "One cannot blame him for failing to trust her."

No one at the table could argue that.

"Okay..." Jack allowed after a long moment and reached up to rub at his left temple as he thought. "So ... the two of you can't agree on anything. That about it?"

"We agree that a device very similar to that which we are presently studying was used to transform Daniel Jackson into a child." Kvasir naturally had to correct this too generalized statement. "The idea of experimenting with something else does not make sense to me."

"You weren't the one who lost your eyes!" Delek answered.

"Fine!" Jack interrupted pointedly. "This is what we do: You--" he turned back to Delek, "--ask your Tok'ra buddies to find you a sarcophagus you can play with - maybe ask the Jaffa very nicely to help out as well, instead of berating them all the time! - and, in the meantime," he added firmly, "you keep working with what you've got!" He sat back in his chair and folded his arms. "See? That wasn't so hard, was it? Oh, yeah!" He sat forward again to slap his hands on the table in front of him, more than impatient with the childish squabbling that was apparently keeping everything stalled. "And since you two obviously need a babysitter in order to get anything done, Carter's in charge! Understood?"

Kvasir blinked overly large black eyes in surprise. "I do not see how that will improve the current situation."

"I don't care!"

Landry's hand came down on Jack's shoulder, keeping him from actually rising from his chair. The other general turned his eyes back to Kvasir and Delek. "I'm sure you don't want us having to tell the Tok'ra High Council or Asgard High Command how the two of you have completely failed to cooperate with each other and thus failed to make any headway whatsoever in this matter now, do you?"

His words were delivered in a calm but deadly cold voice that would brook no argument.

He continued after a long moment. "The treaties between our respective governments gives us clear ownership of the device in question; and, therefore, the right to oversee everything that is being done. Legally, we can take it back anytime we want - but something tells me you'd both be in a little bit of hot water if we did."

The Tok'ra sat back in his chair, glaring a hole through the tabletop. "Additional precautions must be put in place before the Tok'ra will continue to work with the device," he declared adamantly and then turned his glare on Kvasir. "And the Asgard must be more forthcoming with their own research and analysis. We cannot continue to operate in a knowledge vacuum wherein he thinks he knows better than everyone else!"

"I do," Kavsir insisted calmly.

Landry shook his head. "As a great man once said, 'Knowledge alone is not enough to get desired results. You must have the ability to teach and to motivate. This defines a great leader.'"

Jack frowned, suddenly becoming the picture of calm pensiveness. "Roosevelt?" he guessed.

"John Wooden, basketball Hall of Fame," Landry supplied with a slight smirk.

"Ah." Jack nodded, pretending a familiarity he didn't have. He was more a hockey man himself.

"Point is," Landry continued, "I don't care how many brains you think you've got, you're not getting the job done. Either one of you! Therefore, Lieutenant Colonel Carter will relocate to the Omega Site effective immediately. You have a problem with each other, take it up with her; but her decision is law. Keep fighting about everything and we'll ask that you be replaced. Any questions?"

He smiled pleasantly as the question was met with silence.
* * *

Part 3

"Hey, Dave!" Jack greeted Dixon as he, Sam and Teal'c all spilled back into Cam's living room and discovered Mitchell and Danny's guest. "How's the back? I heard about the 'accident.'"

"Healing," the other man answered, taking the proffered hand and giving it a genial shake before the general started shedding his coat. "Couple of my kids are in the bedroom with Danny," he quickly warned them. "As for the back, I should be back to harassing my team again before they can start to decently miss me."

Jack grinned - then his eye was caught by the container on the coffee table. "Are those Katie's homemade cookies?"

"Help yourself, sir," Cam offered even as the general rounded the couch to snag one.

Jack offered him an eyebrow, wondering if Cam had said that automatically or if he was being sarcastic. Ignoring the possible rebuke, he popped the treat in his mouth.

"'Brought 'em over as a housewarming gift from the misses," Dixon explained, ignoring the silent byplay and biting back his own mirth. "'Would've packed a lot more if I'd known you were coming, sir."

The eyebrow went up again at the subtle taunt. Jack had been known to have to put in extra time in the gym whenever the Dixons managed to come to the annual SGC potluck every summer - and he'd placed the blame squarely on Katie Dixon's chocolate chip cookies every time. "Bite me," he told them both flippantly and stole another cookie.

"Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy!" A small human-shaped missile suddenly shot out of the hallway and launched itself at the man in the wheelchair. How the kid kept from careening head first into the metal arm rest was a mystery but, somehow, he managed to defy the laws of physics and pull up just shy of disaster. "Candannyspendthenight? Please! Pleasepleasepleaseplease--"

"--Whoa!" Dixon's hand shot out and clamped itself firmly (but gently) over the kid's mouth. Jack decided he was about five or six; right around Danny's current age. "Slow down motor mouth. 'Can't understand a word you're saying when you're talking faster than the speed of light."

The kid heaved a massive sigh but waited patiently until his father dropped his hand. "Can Danny spend the night?" he quickly repeated at about half-speed. "He's never seen 'Shrek,' can you believe it? I gotta show it to him, Dad. I gotta! So com'on, please? Pleasepleasepleaseplease!"

Apparently the half-speed button didn't work with the word 'please.' The hand shot out again and his son fell silent. Rather than fidget or pull away, he merely stood perfectly still while giving his dad a long suffering expression. Dave offered him a pointed look before taking away his hand again. Apparently it contained some secret magic to keep the kid from resuming his pleas. Having been fully briefed on the situation, Dave didn't even have to ask what the other adults in the room would say. "Not tonight, kiddo," he answered simply.

"Ah, but Daa...aad!"

"One!" Dixon snapped and a single finger went up.

The boy instantly stopped his whining and frowned down at his tennis shoes. "Sorry," he mumbled contritely. Apparently Dave didn't tolerate whining. Given that he had four munchkins in the house, Jack could well understand why!

Dixon merely nodded and explained. "Danny's uncle is in town for a short visit, plus he just got over being sick. This is not a good time for a sleepover. Got it?"

"Yes, sir." The boy scuffed his toe dejectedly on the carpet and offered a dramatic sigh.

Jack noted that Sam had to bite her tongue to keep from giggling. Kids always made such a big deal out of little things like this. He glanced over his shoulder and was a bit surprised to see Danny standing at the corner of the hallway looking a little disappointed himself!

The look immediately vanished when he caught Jack's glance.

"Maybe he can come over later in the week and you can show it to him during the day?" Dave suggested instead. He glanced up at Cam, not sure how the suggestion would be received.

"Maybe," Cam allowed pensively, not sure Danny would go for it. He had no idea how the kids had actually gotten on yet. "We're a little busy this week, but we'll see."

A sudden thought apparently had the kid getting all excited again. "What about Halloween?" he asked urgently. "Can Danny come Trick or Treating with us? Pleasepleasepleaseplease!"

The hand shot out again even as Dave glanced up at Cam, not at all sure how one Dr. Daniel Jackson would take the idea of going Trick or Treating.

Cam shrugged and glanced at the hallway, belatedly spotting the blond tousled head peeking around the corner. "Danny already told me he didn't want to go," Cam offered, placing the blame firmly on the kid's little shoulders.

"He did?" Jack and the rest of SG-1 instantly turned to the hallway and frowned in surprise.

"'Absolutely refused to even look at costumes the other day when we were buying toys," Cam added with another helpless shrug. He couldn't exactly force the kid to have fun.

Danny returned their surprised looks with a stubborn frown and offered Cam a definite glare for putting him on the spot.

Jason ignored the look and ran over to confront him. "Why don't you want to go?" he asked, surprised as well. "It's a lot of fun. You just go door to door and the people give you candy and other stuff like movie tickets or coupons for goldfish or MacDonalds and stuff like that. And Dad always goes with us. He only lets us go to the houses he knows the people at so it's really, really safe! And the MacDermotts always have a haunted house and it's a lot of fun and they even scared Andy last year but I wasn't allowed to go in. This will be the first year Dad lets me and it would be so cool if you could go too!" The kid was practically hopping up and down as his talked a mile a minute trying to get Daniel to agree. Jack was only catching about one word in three. "I don't want to go alone cause Andy and Robert will tease me something awful if I get scared but I wouldn't get scared if you were with me, so you've gotta come. You gotta! Pleasepleasepleaseplease--"

"--Jason!" Dave snapped in his best command voice. The boy was too far away for the hand across the mouth number. The boy cringed and fell silent, glancing back over his shoulder at his father. "No begging," the man told him firmly. "If Daniel doesn't want to go, he doesn't have to go."

Cam leaned down and quickly corrected the other man. "Danny," he whispered firmly.

Dixon glanced at him in surprise but Cam merely nodded, serious about the name. Dave offered a nod of his own and turned back to the two boys.

Jason was looking embarrassed and frowned down at his shoes. "Please?" he said one final time, glancing up at Danny uncertainly.

Now Danny was really on the spot and looking absolutely miserable. Jack could not stand the kicked puppy-dog look! He hurried forward and scooped the boy up, rescuing him, then turned to the other kid. "I think we already have plans for that night, Jason," he lied flat out, not caring if it fit with Mitchell's claims that the decision had been entirely Danny's or not. "But we'll let you know if we change our minds, okay?"

Jason bit his lip, not about to argue with a strange adult. "Okay," he said shyly and hurried back to his father's side.

Dave gave him a light chuck under the chin. "Now go get your brother and coat," he instructed. "Time to head home before your mom decides I deserve to spend the night in the doghouse for making her hold dinner. That giant mongrel of ours isn't much good at sharing."

The boy offered the visual a surprised smirk and rolled his eyes - apparently a habit he'd picked up from his older siblings - but hurried off to get his brother and coat without argument.

"Thanks for the cookies," Cam offered with a grin as he stepped forward to shake the other man's hand. "'We'll let you know about Halloween, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Still, it's good to know there's someone else in the neighborhood Danny can run to in case of emergency."

Dave suddenly frowned and lowered his voice. "You mean like if the Trust makes a grab for him or something?"

"Maybe." Cam shrugged and then shook his head, lowering his voice as well. "'Don't think it's much of a danger really, but you can never be too careful."

"Don't worry, Dave," Jack quickly assured him, knowing the man had to be thinking about the danger to his own family as well. "We're not looking for any heroics. Something goes wrong, you hit the panic button. We're going to harden your phone line and give you a straight connect into SGC Security. You'll have SF's swarming the area before you can blink. Just tell the wife Danny has an older brother who's deranged or something."

The sound of Dixon's eldest telling the younger something about some video game or other brought the discussion to an abrupt halt.

"We'll talk later," Cam promised, leaning in to pat the other man's shoulder before straightening as Dixon's kids reappeared.

"Thank you for coming over, Col. Dixon," Danny offered politely from his perch on Jack's hip, holding onto the other man firmly. "And please thank your wife for the cookies too. They're very good."

Jack's eyes immediately drifted to the container of cookies setting on the coffee table.

"I'll see if we can't get you and Cam another batch after your uncle leaves," Dave answered Daniel with a knowing wink. "These won't last very long with him around."

Jack had been caught eying the container obviously and jerked his eyes away with an irritated grunt. Beside him, Carter turned away to cover up a rather suspicious cough.... And even Teal'c avoided his eye, looking far too amused for the normally inscrutably Jaffa. Jack turned to the kid in his arms and shook his head. "Is that anyway to talk about an Air Force General?" he asked.

Danny merely giggled and buried his face in Jack's shoulder.
* * *

Ba'al frowned out at the deepening night as he sipped his scotch and forced himself to continue listening. Their mole at the SGC had earned himself a bit of a bonus by obtaining an actual recording of the meeting between the Tauri, Asgard and Tokra. Ba'al didn't know how it had been done and didn't care. He merely appreciated the end result, even if the information wasn't what he wanted to hear.

Behind him, the ever vigilant Mar'tak stood guard at the door and kept his own council as he listened to the same recording. As silence finally descended once more, Ba'al remained where he was.

It seemed the Tauri were closer to a solution then he'd thought - albeit only very slightly.

He rested the snifter against his pursed lips as a single finger tapped a pensive beat upon the rim. He found it interesting that apparently Egeria hadn't passed the knowledge of how to construct a sarcophagus down through her genetic line. Oh, he was as aware as any other that the Tok'ra disdained their use, but he hadn't been aware their orak of a Queen had made the choice for them by withholding the information from her offspring. A benefit for him, yes; but sooner or later, they would find one and start down a path he didn't wish them to travel. Chances were better than good they still wouldn't discover what they needed, but it was a risk he didn't want to take.

He'd learned a long time ago not to underestimate his enemies.

"Make sure our people are in place and ready," Ba'al instructed Mar'tak without bothering to turn around. "We make our first move the next time Daniel Jackson leaves his house."
* * *

Part 4

"So!" Jack offered abruptly, bringing his hands together before him in a decisive manner - only to suddenly decide that he didn't know what he wanted to say next. He couldn't exactly come right out and ask Daniel why he didn't want to go Trick or Treating. Kid or adult, he could be more than stubborn. If challenged, he'd clam up tighter than a magpie eating peanut butter!

Frowning pensively, Jack took a second to glance around the room, giving himself a moment to think while looking for a seat. The room was messier than it had been - which was good, he thought. Kids should not have perfectly clean rooms. 'A clean room was the sign of a messy mind...' Or... 'cluttered', maybe? Something like that anyway! He winced at the thought and quickly dismissed it. He was no good at remembering old quotes.

The only chair in the room was the match for Daniel's 'student desk.' A bit too small maybe. There was this thing about men and hips and age.... Nope. The chair was out. That left the bed itself. He eyed the kid laying in the middle of it, all cleaned and brushed and ready for sleep. Shrugging, he stepped forward and waved the kid to move over. "Scoot!" he ordered simply.

Daniel readily shifted himself closer to the wall and watched curiously as Jack sat down beside him.

"So!" Jack offered again, realizing belatedly he was repeating himself and hurrying forward with the first thing that popped into his head. "You had fun with Dave's kids?" He paused to consider the question for a second. Not the best thing to start off with, but not the worst either. Condescending, maybe? Daniel wasn't really five after all.... No, there was a part of him that was definitely all kid. Jack offered the thought an unconscious nod as he decided the question wasn't too weird and then turned his attention to Daniel, waiting for the answer.

Danny shrugged, frowning down at the edge of his blanket and playing with it a little. "Yeah," he admitted and glanced back up uncertainly. "Is that okay?"

Jack offered the question a surprised double-take. "Of course, it's okay," he replied. "Why wouldn't it be?"

Danny shrugged again and played with the blanket edge a little more.

Jack frowned and placed his palm against Danny's forehead, checking for fever.

The boy immediately pulled away with a sharp frown. "I'm not sick anymore," he protested.

"Just making sure," Jack excused himself.

Danny gave him an easily read glare that said to keep his hands to himself.

Jack lifted them in a silent promise, then folded them across his chest as he considered the kid. "So ... if you had fun, why don't you want to go Trick or Treating?" So much for subtle, Jack!

Danny scowled again, then offered a sigh. "What kind of kid were you, Jack?" he asked abruptly.

"Me?" he asked in confusion.

"I can't see you as a bully," Danny answered. "Not a target either. You were probably one of the normal, easy-going, friendly kids that no one really paid a lot of attention to, weren't you? Or a jock - but that would be later when you were a teenager."

It was Jack's turn to frown as he listened to Danny's breakdown of childhood social groups. "Pretty much..." he agreed, knowing Danny hadn't been a bully or a jock, and he'd definitely not been normal, leaving only.... "'Target'?"

Danny nodded. "You know, the kids that stand out for whatever reason: too smart, too dumb, too clumsy, too different.... The ones who lack either the self-confidence or physical strength to stick up for themselves when the bullies target them."

Jack shook his head. "That was thirty years ago," he argued. "You'd probably lay flat any bully that tried to pick on you now!"

"I tried back then too, Jack," he answered. "I wasn't an easy target, but sometimes the bullies are just too big."

He was talking about something specific, Jack realized. "What happened?"

"Halloween, 1976," he answered. "I was eleven. Star Wars had just come out. I asked for an Obi-wan Kenobi outfit, and my foster brother and sister were Luke and Leia. They were five and six so it was my job to take them around the neighborhood and keep them safe. A couple of bullies jumped us and tried to steal our candy. Cindy dropped her bag as I was fighting them and ran into the middle of the street - where she was hit by a car."

Jack winced, knowing that Danny would have felt responsible. He shook his head. "It wasn't your fault."

Danny considered his words for a long moment but didn't comment on them when he spoke again. "Things got ugly when the driver claimed I shoved her in front of him. The bullies were long gone and Terrence had run home to get Mrs. Myers, who blamed me as well. I spent several hours at the police station until they got it all figured out and then my caseworker came. Mrs. Myers refused to take me back so they had to find me an emergency placement."

Damn.... What a terrible thing for an eleven year old to go through!

"Cindy survived," the five year old Jack faced added, "but I didn't learn about that until more than a year later."

Jack could only shake his head. "I'm sorry, Danny," he whispered.

Danny shrugged and tapped his head. "I just hope I don't have any nightmares about it now."

"You can barge into my room and climb into bed with me if you do," Jack offered.

"Mitchell will be in here before I can wake up enough to do that." Danny shrugged again, this time with a small smile. "I tend to have a lot of nightmares. He's good at distracting me when I do."

"Any ideas how to keep from having them in the first place?" Jack asked.

"It's usually just memories trying to sort themselves out." Danny shrugged for a third time. "It's not as bad as it was on base. I'll be fine."

Jack offered the comment an exaggerated roll of his eyes. "Oh, where have I heard that before!"

Danny's smile became an out and out grin. "I have no idea," he claimed. "Just don't ask me to go Trick or Treating again, okay?"

Jack nodded. "Got it." Couldn't blame the kid for hating the thought with that kind of memory floating around in his head. "And I'll make sure Mitchell doesn't mention it again, either."

"Thanks," Danny said and opened his arms wide for a hug. Jack found himself bending over and squeezing the boy tight before he even thought about it. The move was just so natural - although the adult in Daniel would have never asked for it.
* * *

Cam was feeling quite a bit happier this morning than he had in a while and he really couldn't decide why that was? Sure, Danny was fully recovered from that Ancient business which had worried them all there for a bit. And big Daniel - whether he was from Danny's subconscious or actually his ascended-self from the past - had promised them it wouldn't happen again, so that was another good thing. Gen. O'Neill seemed to have backed off a bit on the over-critical judgmental routine since then too - or since big Daniel had decided little Danny needed them both. And no nightmares last night despite what the general had warned him about. But Danny was still Danny: a five year old boy with some rather nasty memories of being a lot older - and Cam was still stuck playing surrogate father. Carter's report, when she finally got around to telling him about the meeting back at the mountain, hadn't been particularly encouraging. And the fact that she was transferring to the Omega Site as soon as she could get her stuff together should have put a damper on Cam's mood too - but it didn't.

Maybe it was as simple as the fact that he'd awoken to a bird singing in the tree outside his window this morning. God, the last time he could remember waking up to birdsong was ... back home on the farm! What was he? Maybe twelve or thirteen? And it wasn't the stupid rooster either. That stupid thing would crow at mid-night if a squirrel ran across the hen yard! No, he seemed to remember that he'd left his window open part way because it had been so muggy hot. He'd woken up the next morning to find a little warbler sitting on his window sill and just singing its heart out like it was the first day of spring or something!

Waking up to birdsong when you were on an mission didn't count.

Whatever the cause, he found himself whistling merrily as he moved about the kitchen now in blue jeans and T-shirt, juggling eggs and bacon and pancake mix with one hand. He'd heard the general stirring a few minutes ago - least he was pretty sure it was the general. Danny usually had to be pried out of bed. He opened the fridge to get out the milk just as someone came round the corner behind him.

"Mitchell...." Gen. O'Neill's greeting sounded almost irritated. Glancing back at him Cam noted he was dressed in dark blue sweat pants and a loose gray Air Force T-shirt. Scrubbing a hand through his hair as though to scrub the sleep away only succeeded it making it stick up in short little spikes everywhere.

"Good morning, General!" Cam sang back easily, trying not to laugh at the sight and ignoring the tone. He was determined to enjoy his good mood while it lasted. "Coffee's on." He indicated the pot with a jerk of his head.

"Jack," the man corrected him firmly, even as he moved to the pot and opened the cupboard above it to be confronted with cereal boxes - including his own much beloved Froot Loops. He frowned and glanced at Mitchell. "What you making?"

"Scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes," he answered brightly. "'Hope you're hungry, sir!"

Jack frowned and shrugged, closing the door on the Froot Loops. Cam went back to whistling and concentrating on breakfast. Measuring pancake mix was not the easiest thing with only one hand....

An exasperated sigh preceded an irritable demand for, "Coffee cups?"

"Below the coffee pot, sir," Cam called over his shoulder. "Danny likes to help out around the house so I let him set the table at night. We decided to put the dishes down low so he could reach 'em."

Jack answered with a grunt. Cam knew he probably thought it was weird. Everyone he knew always kept their dishes up high - but it only made sense given the circumstances. He shrugged and then winced at the mess he was making. Damn....

"Need a hand there?"

Cam almost jumped out of his skin, not having heard the general come up behind him. The other man immediately stepped back as Cam's involuntary jerk caused the milk he'd been pouring to slop out of the measuring cup. Cam quickly put the jug down and turned to grab a wet dishcloth. "No, sir," he answered, already starting to mop up the mess. "I got it, sir."

He froze in confusion when the other man abruptly slapped him upside the back of the head. Cam turned to regard him in surprise. It hadn't been hard or anything - just unexpected. "Sir?" he asked, wondering what the hell he'd done to deserve the smack.

And he got cuffed again.

Jack just lifted an eyebrow in answer and Cam finally got a clue. "Jack," he corrected himself.

Jack nodded, satisfied, and then snatched the dishtowel out of Cam's hand, elbowing him aside. "It'll be Monday before we eat at this rate," the older man decided. "Go find me the morning paper. When does Danny get up?"

"Usually 'bout the time I drag him kickin' and screamin' out of bed," Cam answered, heading for the front door. Hey, if the gener-- 'Jack!' he corrected the thought; if 'Jack' wanted to take over the cooking duties, Cam certainly wasn't going to argue. He wasn't going to let it ruin his mood either. He started whistling again as he rounded the breakfast bar and crossed the living room.

"And could you turn down the whistling while you're at it?" Jack called loudly after him. "It's Sunday. I am not a morning person on Sundays!"

Cam grinned and rolled his eyes, but curtailed the whistling.

"I like it," one rather sleepy tousle-headed munchkin announced as he appeared from the hallway. A small fist was working at rubbing the sleepies from his eyes while the other hand was busy hitching up his pajama bottoms. "You guys are noisy," he complained.

"Noisy, huh?" Cam grinned and easily moved forward to scoop the kid up in his good arm. "You don't know what noisy is, kid. Now if we had us a dog, a couple of cats, a contrary rooster, two sisters and a brother all caterwauling for attention and breakfast at once - then you'd know what noisy is!"

"Add a dog, substitute a parrot for the rooster and make one of the sisters a six month old suffering withdrawals because her mother was a crack addict."

"Ouch!" Cam winced in sympathy. "One of your foster homes?" he guessed.

Danny tried to nod at the same time he offered a big yawn in answer. He wound up looking like a bobble-head doll with its head bouncing around every which direction! Cam had to laugh even as he used his bad arm to steady the boy. "Whoa there, Danny. That head of yours is going to fall off!"

Danny answered with a giggle and laid his head on Cam's shoulder just as someone decided to knock on the front door. Cam turned back to the entryway and quickly let Danny slide back to the ground. He didn't want the kid to get a chill when he went to answer the door. Instead, he turned him to the kitchen and gave him a gentle swat to get him moving. "Go make sure Jack doesn't burn the pancakes," he told him.

"Oh! Jack makes great pancakes!" Danny exclaimed, hurrying off to try and steal the first batch. Cam watched him go with a grin. It was kind of funny sometimes what the kid did and did not remember.

With a shake of his head, he moved to the front door to check the monitor, wondering who in the heck would be stopping by at eight thirty on a Sunday morning? To his surprise, Dr. Lam was smiling up at the camera and gave it a little wave. Someone else was behind her with some sort of equipment, but his head was down and Cam couldn't see who.

Cam quickly deactivated the alarm system and swung the door open. "Hey, Doc," he greeted her brightly. Her companion glanced up and Cam identified Sgt. Siler. "Sly." He offered the off-duty man a friendly nod and stepped back to let them in. He'd been right about the chill. It was definitely nippy this morning! His bare feet were down right cold by the time he swung the door shut again.

The other two had moved easily into the living room. Danny had already moved to see who it was and was hanging back at the breakfast bar as Jack came around to greet them. "You're just in time for breakfast," the general offered easily.

Carolyn offered them all a little shake of her head. "Sorry to interrupt. I discovered a little problem this morning and Dad ordered me to grab Siler to check out your place too."

"Too?" Jack echoed, frowning as he watched Siler fold open a small antennae like instrument and start sweeping the room. "A sniffer?" he identified it in surprise. He'd seen way too many of the things over the years. "This place was swept only a week ago!"

"Yeah," the good doctor acknowledged unhappily. "And apparently about a week ago someone tried to hack into Daniel's medical files."

"Only Danny?" Cam asked, frowning as he watched Siler moving around the living room.

Lam nodded. "From inside the base," she added significantly.

"Inside?" Jack echoed, stepping forward to lay a protective hand on Danny's shoulder.

The boy grabbed a fist full of pant leg and looked over at Cam. All of them knew that a leak from within the complex was a lot more dangerous than one from without.

"We have a mole at the SGC?" Cam asked in surprise.

"It looks that way," Lam answered.
* * *

Part 5

While Siler wandered around the house and Jack was on the phone - apparently one of the first things Landry had ordered done was a sweep of their line - Cam sat at the dining room table with Dr. Lam and Danny eating breakfast. Well ... he and Danny were eating. Carolyn had declined, saying her day had started a lot earlier than theirs. Actually, Cam found himself pushing his food around his plate more than really eating it. What had seemed like the perfect breakfast earlier, now had little appeal. His appetite and good mood had both vanished.

"Why you?" Cam asked as he bit off a piece of bacon, hoping to tempt his taste buds.

Lam frowned in confusion as the question came out of left field at her. "I'm sorry?"

"Why'd they send you with Siler?" he clarified. Seemed to him, they could have just sent Siler.

"I was wanting the check on Danny anyway," Lam answered, offering the boy a friendly smile.

Danny tried to be polite and return it, but it was obviously forced. He glanced away and hid a grimace even as he slumped dejectedly in his chair. He'd spent way too much time in the Infirmary recently.

Lam merely grinned at his obvious discomfort. "Don't worry," she assured the boy. "No poking or prodding this time. I just want to make sure you're feeling okay. Any headaches or trouble sleeping?"

Danny slumped further into his chair. "No," he answered in a half-whine, concentrating on mashing his eggs into a yellow and white pulp.

Cam took pity on him. "He's fine, Doc," he assured their guest. "I'd be the first to let you know if anything was up."

She nodded but continued her questioning, looking to Cam for the answers now. "No return of the fever then? Even slight?"

Cam shook his head. "Cool as a cucumber, as my mom used to say."

"And what about the flashbacks?" she asked. "I'm hoping they'll settle down now that you're ... uh...."

"...Disconnected?" Cam supplied.

She shrugged at the thought and then smiled. "I guess that's a good way to put it."

He nodded and then looked to Danny. Although there hadn't been any violent episodes in the last couple of days, it really wasn't a question he could answer for the kid.

"I'm fine!" the boy insisted despondently, as though expecting no one to believe him.

"Good!" Lam responded brightly, refusing to meet those expectations - though the glance she tossed Cam said she questioned the boy's assertion and expected to be immediately informed of any problems. Cam returned the look with a slight shrug. There were no problems he knew of. She turned her attention back to Danny and rested her hand against his upper back as she leaned down to get a better look at his averted face. "You know I'm only asking because I care, right Danny?" she offered gently.

This was answered with a rather large and impatient sigh. "Yes," he admitted and repeated his earlier statement even more emphatically. "I'm fine!"

"Okay!" she repeated, backing off hastily. "And what about Col. Mitchell?" she asked instead, the change of subject getting both their attentions. "You promised to call me if he wasn't following my orders. Has he been taking care of himself lately?"

Cam was surprised to see the kid actually have to think about it. "Hey!" he protested. "I've been good!"

"He hasn't been icing it, like you said," Danny offered with a frown and Cam relaxed.

Lam smiled. "That was only necessary for the first seventy-two hours," she explained for the munchkin. "What about his meds? Has he been taking them like I said?"

"I'm doing just fine, Doc," Cam hurried to interrupt and change the subject. "Tell us more about what happened this morning at the mountain. How'd you figure out someone tried to get into Danny's files last week?"

Lam offered him a lifted brow, clearly stating that she'd caught the abrupt change of subject and suspected its cause - but she didn't pursue it. "We run an automated check on the weekly access logs every Saturday night. When I came in this morning, it had flagged a discrepancy. It's tied into the check-in logs up top. Apparently, someone tried to access the files after having left for the day."

"Someone used another person's log-in to access it?" Cam translated.

Lam nodded. "A definite no-no in my department but it happens sometimes if someone forgets their password. Usually, it's someone else on shift who let's them into the system. My first red flag. The second was that they used a system in the O.R. to do it. There's no reason for someone to use that system if they had legitimate authorization and need to see his files."

Cam frowned.

"When I saw what they'd accessed, I called security."

Which had set a rather large ball in motion. "So I assume the computer's getting the microscope treatment and all the security tapes for the O.R. and surrounding corridors are being reviewed to catch the guy?"

"It's possible it was just someone who was overly curious about what had happened, but they'll still get the boot - if they're lucky. Dad's not taking any chances." She was obviously trying to be reassuring but Cam wasn't sure how well it was working. "Col. Carter's departure for the Omega Site has been put on hold while she oversees a complete forensics search of the base's computer systems."

"Do we know what they got?" Cam asked quietly and frowned at his plate.

"Not as much as they wanted, fortunately," she answered. A glance at the boy beside her turned into a mild admonishment for him to eat - apparently his appetite was as lacking as Cam's. She glanced back up at the man opposite her. "It looks like they tried to access his complete medical record, but the archival stuff is kept in a separate system. Another discrepancy. Apparently, whoever it was, they aren't medical or they'd have known that."

"Couldn't they have just like ... borrowed his chart or something, and gotten everything that way?" Cam asked, frowning pensively as he again shoved the shredded bits of his syrup-soggy pancakes around his plate.

Lam shook her head as she sipped at a cup of coffee. "The charts are constantly being updated. A missing chart would have been noted immediately. Nor do we take kindly to just anyone glancing through them."

"What about the Records Room?" Danny asked, glancing up with eyes that understood more than Cam would have liked.

"Locked at all times," Lam assured them. "But the security tapes and computer logs on the locks are being checked anyway."

"So what'd they get?" Cam repeated. He forced himself to stop playing with his food and actually take another bite.

Lam winced unhappily. "Everything to do with his downsizing."

Cam swallowed and lifted his eyes to stare at her, knowing that's probably what they'd been after in the first place. "Everything?"

"Pretty much," she sighed and rested her elbows on the table, cupping the warm mug between her hands. "'Course, unless they have someone with some rather advanced medical training to review it, I doubt they'll be able to understand most of it."

That probably wasn't a problem, Cam knew, not given the caliber of enemies they had who might be interested in that kinda stuff in the first place.

"But it was a week ago, right?" he asked, wanting to make sure he understood everything clearly. "So, they wouldn't have gotten anything about Danny's fever and..." He waved his fork as words failed him. Not that anything that really happened should be in his files anyway, but--

"No," Lam assured them. "I checked all the more recent files personally and found no evidence that anyone had tried to access them who shouldn't have." She offered another little apologetic wince as she amended that. "Col. Carter's going to double-check of course. I'm not nearly as computer savvy as she is."

"Who is!" Jack suddenly interrupted, moving to rejoin them at the table. A chair was scraped out across the floor before he threw himself into it with a rather gusty sigh. "No word yet," he quickly brought them up to date without anyone having to ask. "The computer diagnostic and forensics search that Carter's doing is apparently going to take a while, and the security guys are still going over the tapes. They don't show anyone in the room with the computer in question at the time of the breach, so...."

"...So they probably used another computer to hack into it from somewhere else," Cam surmised.

Jack grimaced and asked, "Why can't the bad-guys be stupid once in a while and do something that would make it easy for us to catch 'em?"

"'Wouldn't be able to get past the front door of the SGC if they were stupid, sir," Cam answered - and then quickly leaned back to correct himself as the general lifted a hand. "Jack!"

Jack awarded him an amused quirk of the brow but dropped his hand, then sighed. "Landry will call when they know something. Where'd my coffee cup disappear to?"

Cam glanced around and pointed to where the other man had left it on the breakfast bar. "What do we do in the meantime?"

"Nothing," Jack answered, scrapping his chair back again to retrieve the cup. "You and Danny are still on downtime, and I'm still on vacation." He scowled at the tepid remains in his cup and quickly headed over to dump it down the sink. "Or as much of a vacation as I ever get now a days."

Lam leaned in over her own cup. "So, no additional security measures here or orders to stay inside until this mole can be found?" she asked, a little surprised that her father hadn't gone completely ballistic and ordered Danny into protective custody on base!

Jack shrugged as he returned to the table and she suddenly suspected he was the real reason none of those things were being done. "Nope," he answered. "Nothing major anyway. We've dealt with situations like this before. Going into lockdown mode is sometimes exactly what the bad guys want."

"It also makes them harder to flush out," Cam noted.

Jack nodded. "That too," he conceded. He reached out and ruffled Danny's hair - which earned him a frown and roll of the eyes. "Forewarned is forearmed. Don't worry. Nobody's getting their hands on our boy," he declared firmly. "Uh-uh, no-way, no-how!"
* * *

Danny sat on his bed and sighed. Mitchell had sent him to get dressed after Sgt. Siler finished sweeping his room and did a quick check of his computer. He'd said to leave it off. Apparently, Sam would be coming by later to check it out further, along with the one in the home office. So now Danny was dressed and bored and he didn't want to go back out and listen to everyone trying to make small talk. He remembered things like that from when he was older. Sorta. It was all a bit vague like most of his older memories. Little flitting glimpses - some bigger than others - which sometimes felt like they belonged to someone else entirely, even though he knew they didn't.

Why did his life always have to be so messed up?

He glanced around his room, frowning at the mess he and Jason had made. There were toys and books scattered on the floor, and for a second he smiled. Jason was cool. He didn't know much about how real military engagements tended to play out and Danny had purposely turned off that part of his brain while they were playing. They'd pretended to be on Col. Dixon's 'Special Forces Team' somewhere in Iraq because Jason didn't know anything about the Stargate and what his father really did. They were supposed to be hunting down a terrorist - which kinda reminded Danny of hunting a Goa'uld so that was cool. At one point Danny had taken on the role of the bad guy and nearly spoiled the fun when he pointed out the 'good guys' were making too much noise killing everyone and the terrorist would be long gone before they got to where he was hiding.

"The walls are really, really thick in his bunker and he's really hard of hearing because he's been making bombs and blowing stuff up forever!" Jason argued. "He can't hear anything!"

Danny didn't bother to point out that making bombs and being around when they blew up were two very different things, or that the guards the guy must have around him would run to tell him what was happening. Instead, he'd shrugged and proceeded to play the terrorist as really dumb and really, really deaf! It was funny! And in the end Jason had called in an air strike to obliterate the bad guy's fortress. They'd run around kicking boxes and boards from boardgames they'd been using as a model, making the sounds of explosions with their mouths as another 'building' was demolished even while Jason's older brother complained about the noise and the fact that they didn't know the first thing about how a 'real' battle should be fought.

Danny ignored him and just grabbed up the terrorist doll - it was supposed to be Jack but Danny decided it looked like Cronus with super short hair - and put him through an elaborate and pathetic death scene that had him coughing and gasping and begging for mercy.

And then Jack, Sam and Teal'c had arrived and Jason had wanted him to go Trick or Treating and....

He shoved the memory aside and frowned at the room. He'd done a quick pick up last night but got distracted, and then Mitchell had said it was time for his bath - so it was still a mess. He should get up and clean it, but he didn't want to. He'd do it later, after Siler and Lam left.

He glanced up as he heard voices in the hall. It sounded like they were getting ready to leave now he realized. He should probably get up and say bye - but he didn't want to do that either.

A knock sounded at his door, before it swung open and Mitchell stuck his head inside. "Lam and Siler are leaving, Squirt. House is clean. Come say good-bye."

So much for what he didn't want to do. With a sigh, he hopped off the bed and hurried to get the good-byes over with. At least Lam wasn't carting him off to the infirmary again. And Mitchell had said the house was clean so that meant the bad guys hadn't gotten in here the way they had at the SGC.

And that thought suddenly had him worried about going back to work.

Darn it! He shoved it aside and grabbed hold of Mitchell's pant leg even as he forced a polite smile for their visitors.

"...Not a problem, sir. " Siler was answering something Jack had said. "Glad to do it. Hey, Dr. Jackson." He noted Danny's arrival with Mitchell. "'You tested out that swing set me and the guys put together for you yet?"

He managed a little more genuine smile for this question and nodded. He'd spent a few minutes on it a couple of days ago, thinking how some of the other boys and girls he'd grown up with would have loved it.

Siler smiled and reached out to ruffle his hair before Danny knew what was happening. He scowled and pulled back, ducking behind Mitchell's leg. Why did adults always have to do that? Siler either didn't see the scowl - or he thought it was cute! - and merely laughed as he finished his good-byes and turned to leave.

"Now you remember to call me if Cam does anything to abuse that wrist," Lam instructed Danny, grinning right along with everyone else. He'd been right; Siler - and everyone else apparently - thought his scowl was cute! "He doesn't have to ice it anymore but I still don't want him using it. And if you see him wincing or rubbing at it that means he's not taking his meds. I want to know about that too, alright?"

Danny forced the scowl aside and nodded. It was cool to be the one who had to watch out for someone else for a change. She must have already given Mitchell the lecture about him because she didn't mention anything about fever or flashbacks before smiling happily and turning to follow Siler. The door was shut behind them and the three in the foyer exchanged relieved glances - even if it was for different reasons.

"Okay," Jack broke the momentary silence and rubbed his hands together in anticipation. "So, this is supposed to be my last full day of vacation, though in light of new developments - and this spiffy new conference system we're supposed to be using later today - I might just be able to extend it a little bit. 'Can't really even try until tomorrow." He shrugged unhappily, but dismissed the thought as unproductive. "Thanks to the IOA, I'm blocked out from twelve-thirty to 'if you don't shut the hell up I'm going to reach through the phone and strangle you!' 'Figure I should reach that point in a couple of hours. Things will start to get repetitive by then, and I don't do repetitive well. Anyway ... what are we going to do for the rest of the day?"

And both men looked at Danny.

Danny did not like being reminded that this was Jack's last day. What with everything that had happened with his fever and all, the last four days had sped by and felt wasted. It didn't seem fair.

"Oh, I know!" Mitchell suddenly exclaimed. "They recently opened one of those laser tag centers over on Academy boulevard. 'Laser Quest' I think it's called. The guys on SG-4 challenged us a while back but we've been too busy to even check it out. It's supposed to be cool."

"'Cool,' Mitchell?" Jack echoed. "You sound younger than Danny."

Mitchell ignored him, grinning. "It'll be great!" he claimed. "It's this massive indoor maze with fog and black lights and everything. Robinson said they have individual play or team play, so we can either go one on one or go up against some cocky team of kids who'll have no idea what hit 'em when we're done with 'em. Think how fun it would be to see our little Danny here school a bunch of know-it-all teenagers in tactics and strategy."

Jack glanced at Danny and lifted a pensive eyebrow. It was obvious the idea tempted, but.... "You're assuming he remembers tactics and strategy," he observed uncertainly, then killed the idea all together. "Besides, a dark maze filled with fog and noise probably isn't the safest place to take him at the moment."

Mitchell grimaced. "Yeah...."

Danny grimaced as well but for a different reason. "I'd rather go fishing," he muttered.

"What was that?" Jack immediately pounced on the statement. "Did you say ... 'fishing'?"

Of course he'd pounce on that. Danny rolled his eyes. "I think we'd need more than a couple of hours to get to Minnesota and back."

Jack offered that a truly evil chuckle as he pulled out his cell phone. "Not if you have the right connections." He flipped it open and hit the speed dial as Cam and Danny exchanged bewildered looks. "Hey, Walter!" he sang out a moment later. "Is the Odyssey still hanging around in orbit by chance? ...That's what I thought. I have a little favor to ask Col. Emerson...."
* * *

Ba'al fumed silently as he listened to Charlotte's report. "And here I'd been thinking of giving him a bonus. I take it they discovered whatever recording device he foolishly used to get that little meeting for us between the Tauri, Asgard and Tok'ra."

"No," the woman on the other end of the phone line surprised him. "Apparently they detected his attempt to hack into Dr. Jackson's medical files last week. He warned me at the time they might but that they shouldn't be able to trace him."

Ba'al frowned harder, not liking it when he was taken by surprise and those under him weren't. "So this was expected?"

"Yes and no," she allowed. "We expected the attempt might eventually be detected but apparently they are pursuing it much harder than our mole thought they would."

"The man has underestimated the importance those at the SGC place on the boy. They will not let this go until their traitor is found."

"Then we will give them someone else to find," Charlotte answered, supremely confident. "I have a list of everyone who works there. It's a simple matter to pick someone and set up a fake Swiss account. Then we hack into their regular bank, do a little creative financing for them, and it should point the finger quite nicely at anyone we want."

A slow smile pulled at Ba'al's lips as he considered the woman's proposal. The resources of the now defunct 'Trust' were vast and very useful - especially in situations like this. "I want him killed as well," he ordered. "Either an obvious execution or a suicide." He didn't care which. They didn't need any loose strings that could come back and haunt them. He'd had enough of Tauri incompetence of late.

"A triple blast with a zat and he'll never be found."

"No," Ba'al rejected the idea immediately. "I don't want them searching for the man indefinitely. They need to find a body - and evidence tying him to the Trust. Just make sure they can't trace it."

"Naturally," she answered, sounding just a bit irritated that Ba'al would think it necessary to tell her that. He would have told her more - regardless of how irritated she got - but his secretary interrupted. She offered only a quick sharp knock before daring to open his door and stick her head in the office.

There was only one reason she would dare to do that.

"Now," she told him simply.

Ba'al knew exactly what she meant and smiled broadly. "Sorry, love," he told the woman on the other end of the line. "I'm going to have to leave this little problem in your capable hands. Dr. Jackson has finally decided to come out and play."

She chuckled lightly and told him to 'have fun!' even as he quickly hung up and reached down to press a concealed jewel in his belt. His secretary had already withdrawn again and saw only a brief flash of light from under the door as an Asgard transport beam swept him away.
* * *

Part 6

"We had this lake back when I was growing up, 'bout a mile, mile and a half from the farm. 'Big old gnarly oak next to it with a rope swing out over the water.... And some of the sweetest fishing: Trout and bass and catfish. I swear some of them were--" Mitchell held his hands a good four feet apart for a long moment before drawing them sharply together to more like a foot. "Okay, so they were more like this, but I'm telling you, you get a fat old catfish on the end of a line and it feels like it's--" The hands moved back out to four feet.

Danny just rolled his eyes but Jack was grinning ear to ear. "You ever tangle with a Muskie?" And the two of them were off, sharing stories and tall-tales and out-right whoppers.

Shaking his head, Danny listened with half an ear as he moved to the window in the front den to watch for Osprey. It was strange. Part of him was really excited at the thought of going fishing; the younger part which couldn't really remember ever going fishing before. The strange part was, he knew he had. He wasn't sure he'd call it a memory. It was just something he knew, the same way he knew how to read Ancient though he couldn't remember learning it. People didn't tend to think of fishing when they thought of Egypt, but fish was a very important part of the diet there - both in the present and ancient times. He remembered seeing fishermen standing along the banks of the Nile with their rods and nets even as transport barges were poled along the watery highway. His mother always used to get dried fish when she went to one of the souks in Cairo and then used it to make a fish soup he loved.

Remembering the soup was a mistake. He could tell himself all he wanted to that his mother and father had died more than thirty years ago; his heart still insisted it was only a couple of weeks.

Frowning, he glared out at the street and decided he really didn't want to go fishing after all, but it was too late to change his mind now. Jack would be disappointed, and it was his last day after all.

Another thought Danny could have done without.

Where the heck was Osprey? Forcing the thoughts aside, he pressed closer to the glass and willed the dark blue sedan to appear. Instead, what he saw was Jason and his brother. They were on the other side of the street. Danny watched as Andy took Jason's hand, making him stop and look both ways before they crossed. The older boy was carrying a large brown grocery bag in his free hand. Danny waited until Jason looked up and waved as he caught Danny looking out the window. It was obvious where they were headed.

"Jason and Andy Dixon are coming to the door!" he yelled over his shoulder, heading to open it before they got there.

"Hey, hey, hey!" Jack protested, wagging a finger in the air even as Danny reached for the alarm pad. "I'll get it. You get your coat. We'll be leaving just as soon as Osprey gets here. You guys can play in the yard until then."

Danny again rolled his eyes. "They're bringing us something."

"Yeah?" Jack asked, but then pointed Danny to his room. "Coat," he repeated.

Suppressing a sigh, Danny dragged himself off to his room to retrieve the coat he'd left there last night. While he was at it, he grabbed a few books and tossed them into his backpack to take with him to the cabin.

He returned to the foyer to find Jack holding the brown paper bag Andy had been carrying, head tilted back and eyes closed. "They're still warm!" he sighed in near orgasmic ecstasy.

The smell of warm chocolate chip cookies wafted down the hall. Apparently Kate Dixon had decided one batch of cookies wasn't sufficient if Jack O'Neill was visiting the new neighbors!

Andy and Jason were grinning at Jack's antics even as Jason caught sight of Danny in the hall. The slightly bigger boy dashed across the short distance that separated them. "Hey!" he offered enthusiastically.

"Hey," Danny replied a bit more timidly.

"Your uncle says you're getting ready to go fishing!" Jason noted his backpack with a glance. "That's so cool. Dad took us all camping earlier this year and we got to fish too but I didn't catch anything. Andy did but then he turned green when dad made him clean it."

"Did not!" the older boy protested.

Jason just nodded his head. "It was so gross. Mom refuses to fish because she doesn't like cleaning 'em, but she cooks 'em up for us and it's weird because she doesn't take the heads off, so you have this fish eye staring up at you while you're eating it." He offered the visual an amused grimace of distaste. "Katie just screamed when she saw it. She's such a girl. "

For a second, Danny was tempted to ask if Jason could come with them -- before he remembered exactly where they were going and how they were going to get there. Then Mitchell caught his eye. "Osprey just pulled up. 'Got everything?"

Danny nodded, already starting to sweat in the heavy winter coat. "Do I have to wear the coat in the car?" he whined.

Cam grinned, knowing exactly what he was talking about. "Got a sweater on underneath?" A glance at the open coat confirmed it. He nodded as he took a firmer hold on the bags he carried in one hand, using the other to direct and usher everyone out the door. "Then no, the heater will be on; but keep it handy cause you'll want it as soon as we get stopped again."

"Did you remember the mosquito repellent?"

"Yep. 'Though I think it's a little cold to be worrying about mosquitoes."

Danny winced slightly as the bug spray had been his idea. He hadn't been thinking about how cold it was going to be. All he knew was that mosquitoes and fishing seemed to go together in his head.

"Can't ever be too careful with mosquitoes," Jason claimed sagaciously as he preceded Danny out the door and toward the waiting car. "There was a bunch of 'em at the lake we went to. I got bit like a gazzilion times in just one night! Mom made dad come back into town to get spray and some anti-itch--"

Danny jerked in surprise as someone grabbed him up from behind and he suddenly found himself being lifted into the air. The very distinct sound of a zat discharge had him twisting to see Jack's knees buckle as the all too familiar sight of blue energy tendrils danced over his friend's form.

To Jack's left, Andy looked like he had no idea whether to run or scream as the older man crumpled.

"What the--" Cam dropped his bags and rolled to the ground, coming up with the gun he'd strapped to his ankle. He was frantically searching for an enemy even as he eyed Danny dangling in mid-air when another zat discharge came out of nowhere to hit him square in the back.

Personal cloaks, Danny realized. Their attackers were all wearing--

A shot rang out and Danny turned to see Osprey aiming at the spot where the zat blast that had hit Cam had come from. He heard a grunt and the sound of a body fall, but then Osprey too was hit with a zat from somewhere in the middle of the street.

How could you defend against an enemy you couldn't see?

"Let him go!" Danny glanced down to see Jason pummeling the air beneath him, fading in and out as he attacked Danny's captor for all he was worth.

Then Danny felt the unmistakable tingle of an Asgard transport beam.
* * *

Part 7

Sunday, nine fifty-four AM: he frowned at his clock even as CMSgt. Walter Harriman knocked on his open door. "Chief!" Hank Landry exclaimed, shaking his head in disbelief before the man could voice whatever it was that had brought him to the office. 'Couldn't be too serious; Hank hadn't heard a base alert of any kind. "Don't you ever take a day off?"

"Yes, sir," the other man answered, looking slightly flustered by the unexpected question. "I have most Saturdays and Wednesdays off."

"Really?" Hank blinked in surprise and then frowned in confusion. "Didn't you bring me some files yesterday?"

"Yes, sir," he agreed. "Sgt. Miller called in sick, sir."

"Ah!" Landry nodded and joked, "For a second there, I thought I might be losing my mind."

"Sir," Walter quickly interjected before he could ask another question. "Col. Emerson of the Odyssey just contacted us. They've detected a cloaked vessel of some sort leaving orbit and entering hyperspace."

"From Earth?" Landry frowned in surprise, knowing this couldn't bode well. "Any idea what--" His phone suddenly rang, interrupting him. He rolled his eyes and lifted a finger to tell Walter to wait even as he quickly answered it. "Landry."

His face became serious as he listened and he quickly rose from behind his desk with the phone to his ear. "Let me know as soon as the team gets there," he ordered urgently. "I'll be in the control room." He hung up without saying more and turned a grim gaze on the chief master sergeant. "Someone just called in a code three at Mitchell's place. Possible code nine," he explained. Code three was an alien incursion; code nine meant compromised personnel and/or possible abduction. "Zat fire with men down and what sounds like an Asgard beam. Get Emerson on the horn. Tell him to lock onto Dr. Jackson's signal wherever he is and beam him aboard - I don't care what he's doing or who might see it. Now!"

"Sir!" Walter acknowledged the order with a sharp nod even as he spun on his heel to hurry back downstairs.

Landry paused for a second to make sure there wasn't anything else he might be missing -- no, the attack was almost certainly aimed at Dr. Jackson; either the Trust or some new rogue element that had learned about his transformation through the mole. Hank had been tempted for a second there to include the others in his beam out order as well, but having several people suddenly disappear in a flash of light from a possibly public venue would be more than difficult to explain.

One child would be hard enough.

Unfortunately, he doubted Daniel was in a public location anymore, but more likely aboard that ship Emerson had just detected leaving orbit.
* * *

Danny had tried to shout a warning for Jason to get away - but it was too late. The transport beam took full hold before he could get a sound out. The other boy was caught in the effect as well and blinked in surprise as their world dissolved in a curtain of bright light. Danny knew his friend had no idea what the strange flash and tingling sensation meant; he didn't understand the momentary paralysis that gripped him in the instant of disintegration followed by the disorientation of reintegration. He was merely confused and frightened as reality seemed to 'wink,' and he suddenly found himself somewhere else.

Danny recognized where at once. It wasn't the half-prayed for gray walls of the Odyssey come to the rescue, but the gold relief surface of a Tel'tak cargo hold that met his eyes. He glanced up and around even as the behemoth holding him dropped the invisibility cloak and lashed out with a foot to send Jason sprawling.

"Leave him alone!" Danny shouted, resuming his struggles in sheer frustration. The heavy winter coat and backpack he was wearing didn't make it easy for his captor to hold him - but Danny still couldn't manage to wriggle free.

Jason hadn't been hurt. He'd merely fallen to his butt and skidded backward across the smooth marble floor, stopping just short of a pair of glossy boots. Glancing up, he found a tall, dark-haired man with a neatly trimmed goatee wearing a tailored business suit standing over him.

From across the room, Danny froze. "Ba'al...."

There were still a lot of things about his adult life Danny didn't remember, but he did remember this guy. He knew the handsome and smiling facade hid a heart that had murdered millions. Killing two little boys would be the equivalent of swatting a couple of flies!

Ba'al awarded the blond-headed boy in his minion's arms an amused grin even as a wave of his hand ordered that he be put down. "Dr. Jackson," he greeted him politely - and then Ba'al's gaze swung to the other boy who was busy scooting away from his feet while glancing around in confused alarm at the strange men in their weird metallic armor and skirts. "And who do we have here?"

"Leave him alone!" Danny shouted defiantly, trying to sound braver than he felt. Ba'al's smile sent a chill down his spine. "He doesn't know anything. I'm the one you want!"

Ba'al's gaze flickered to Danny for only a moment. "Your friend appears to be a little frightened," he noted almost kindly. "Why don't you introduce us so I can reassure him."

"He doesn't know anything!" Danny repeated firmly. "Send him back!"

Ba'al offered that a slight wince and shook his head sadly. "Unfortunately, that's not possible," he answered with feigned regret. "I didn't think it wise to stick around until the ship you had in orbit decided to lock onto your tracking device and beam you away before I even had a chance to talk to you. We've already jumped to hyperspace."

Danny swallowed around a suddenly tight throat. Hyperspace. That meant no rescue. The SGC would have no idea where to look.

Ba'al turned his attention back to Jason and actually squatted down so as to appear less threatening. "What is your name?" he asked gently.

"I don't talk to strangers!" the boy shouted back abruptly, causing Ba'al to start slightly at the unnecessary volume. Jason would have scooted farther away from him but the weird looking guards were just as frightening as the guy in the business suit. The man who'd grabbed Danny was the only one who looked half-way normal in jeans and a light sweater and Jason didn't trust him not to kick him again! "You better let us go!" he added pugnaciously. It was obvious the boy was more than scared but, like Danny, he was hanging onto his anger to keep it at bay. "Both our dads are in the Air Force and Danny's uncle is a general! You're going to be in big trouble if you don't let us go. Right now!"

Ba'al's smile only grew. "Oh, but I and Danny's 'uncle' go way back," he assured the boy easily. "He was even a guest of mine for a time. Yes ... I remember it fondly."

Danny glared at him, remembering something about Ba'al torturing Jack to death over and over and over again.... He had to close his eyes and shake the sudden images away.

Ba'al noted the move and lifted an eyebrow. "Flashback?" he asked with mock concern. "I understand they can be quite irritating."

It wasn't a flashback. Thankfully. That's the last thing he needed to have to deal with right now. Danny quickly opened his eyes to glare harder at Ba'al. "Don't believe a word he says!" he warned Jason. "He's not a friend."

Ba'al offered that a hurt look. "You wound me! Have I or my ... associates--" He hesitated slightly on the designation, offering Jason a momentary glance. He apparently found the other child's innocence amusing. "--done anything to harm you or your friends? Did you see any staff weapon's fire? I apologize if their methods seemed a little aggressive and frightening, but I didn't think you'd accept a polite invitation."

"They shot Danny's uncle with lightening or something!" Jason argued angrily, taking his cue from Danny and refusing to be lulled by Ba'al's apparent charm. "And everyone else too!"

"Hardly," Ba'al corrected him patiently, and actually offered a wink as though inviting the boy to share a joke. "Lightening would have killed them. What you saw was called a zat'ni'katel - much safer and far less violent then your crude projectile weaponry. Your new friends were merely knocked unconscious."

Jason frowned suspiciously, secretly terrified the guy might be lying.

"You can ask 'Danny' if you don't believe me."

"They'll be fine," Danny agreed reluctantly, still glaring at Ba'al.

"See?" Ba'al rose to his feet again and offered his hand to help the boy up. Jason ignored it but he did get up. "I'm not the villain here," he assured the boy gently. "In fact...." He glanced back at Danny and his smile grew again. "I'm actually trying to help your friend, Danny, 'though he doesn't know it."
* * *

Part 8

There was always an instant as Cam first woke wherein nothing quite made sense; a fleeting moment in which the familiar feel of bed and pillow intruded on the surreal setting of wherever his mind had taken him in dream. Only this time, there was nothing familiar about the cold, dew damp grass beneath his cheek. Confusion was answered by an adrenaline spike as a sharp headache made itself known - starting at his neck and radiating up and around to behind his eyes, accompanied by a numb tingling in his fingers. It was a pain he instantly recognized.

He'd been zatted.

Opening his eyes, he discovered himself to be lying on a neatly cut lawn, his gun laying in the grass only a few inches from his hand where he'd obviously dropped it. There was a dark blue car pulled up to the curb with someone laying in the middle of the street beyond it. Movement to his left drew his attention and he turned his head to watch Gen. O'Neill also struggling with returning awareness. Between them, next to a trampled patch of grass, the bags of snacks and stuff Cam had packed for their trip had burst open where he'd tossed them aside at the first zat blast. Their contents - including Danny's requested mosquito repellent - lay scattered amidst the spilled bag of chocolate chip cookies the general had been carrying.

The repellent was the last piece of the shattered puzzle that suddenly had his memory falling back into place and his body jerking upward.

"Daniel!" he shouted, tasting panic even as he ignored the pounding in his head and glanced around. Sirens sounded in the distance and he knew SFs and local authorities would be swarming the area in less than a minute. "Daniel!"

Gen. O'Neill had managed to roll onto his back. Squinting up at the deceptively peaceful balls of puff floating by over head, he offered his opinion regarding his own pounding head in a single eloquent expletive.

Cam ignored him, frantically scanning the yard for any sign of his ward. Instead, the younger officer spotted the sprawled out form of Dave's eldest. Like Osprey, he had yet to move. Cam forced himself to crawl the short distance necessary to make sure the kid was still alive. If either he or Osprey had taken more than one shot....

"Danny!" Jack added his shout to Cam's earlier call as two and two came together and he realized what had happened. He too sat up with a jerk and scanned their immediate surroundings, ending with his gaze on Cam as he sought Andy Dixon's pulse point.

"He's alive," the lieutenant colonel confirmed as he felt the strong, steady heartbeat beneath his fingers. He sat back on his heels with a frustrated exclamation that had nothing to do with the unfortunate boy. "Damn it!"

"They got him," Jack surmised, none too happy with the revelation.

Cam glared at the yard in frustrated defeat. "They were wearing personal cloaks."

Jack had gone down before he'd been able to see even that much; but he did remember seeing Danny suddenly hanging in mid-air, only half-visible, so - that explained that. His backpack had apparently prevented the kidnapper from grabbing him close enough to simply make him disappear. With a growl, Jack scrubbed at his aching forehead. "Was there a car or...."

Cam shook his head, wishing he'd seen anything that might give them a clue as to where Danny had been taken. "Nothing," he sighed.

Though his head protested the move, Jack nodded. He wasn't surprised. This attack had been well thought out and perfectly executed. He could only hope that whichever neighbor had called in the emergency had managed to see something the two of them hadn't. "Call the SGC," he ordered as he dropped his hand and forced himself to think again. "Tell them to have the Odyssey lock onto Danny's tracking device and beam him up before his captors think to remove it - I don't care who sees what."

Of course! Why hadn't he thought of that? Cam quickly dug out his cell phone only to discover that the zat blast had apparently fried it. "Damn it!" he muttered again. Tossing it aside, he grabbed up his gun and forced himself to his feet. The effects of the zat were quickly dissipating as several government SUVs suddenly squealed around the corner at the end of the street. "The cavalry has arrived." A day late and a dollar short, he added silently. At his feet, twelve year old Andy Dixon offered a soft whimper.

It was then Cam realized someone else was missing here. He quickly glanced around to confirm it. "I think they took Dave's other boy too," he suddenly announced.

"Jason?" Jack scanned the area in surprise. It had to be an accident. There was no reason for them take the other boy - unless they thought he could be used to help control Danny. "Damn it!" That was not something he wanted to think about.

Cam automatically glanced toward Dixon's house and saw the leader of SG-13 making his way determinedly up the street in his wheelchair. Was it possible the boy had managed to run home and sound the alarm? Cam could only hope so even as three black SUVs skidded to a halt and several men in full tactical gear poured out of each to secure the area. Cam waved an arm to get their commander's attention.

"Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell, SG-1," he quickly identified himself, "Stand down," he ordered, moving forward. "They're long gone. I need to use your radio--"

Something in that patch of trampled grass he'd noted earlier caught his foot and he fell. Hard. He landed on something, but when he looked.... "Cancel that," he called out scrambling back while bringing his gun to bear. "'Think I found one of 'em!"

What he'd thought was merely an area of trampled grass was actually the indention of an invisible and unmoving body.
* * *

Part 9

Danny was scared. If he were being completely and totally honest with himself, he'd go so far as to say he was terrified. He couldn't help wishing Jack or Cam was here with him.

Jason, on the other hand, didn't know better. Oh, the six year old red head was mad, confused as hell and wanted to go home - but once it became apparent he and Danny were in no immediate danger, Jason became a regular chatter box! He was far more curious than frightened.

So much for not talking to strangers!

"Where are we? How'd we get here? Did you guys drug us or something? How'd he actually go invisible like that? I thought that only happened in the movies." Jason turned to point at the casually dressed man who'd grabbed Danny.

Of the group that surrounded them, Danny's kidnapper actually appeared to be the most normal, dressed as he was in blue jeans and a turtleneck sweater. Danny eyed the man unhappily, knowing he must be part of the Trust. Did he understand exactly who and what Ba'al was?

Did he even care?

Jason turned his attention to the three other guards before Ba'al could even think to answer his rapid-fire questions. "Why are they wearing those costumes?" the boy wanted to know with a frown. Unlike Danny's kidnapper - and Ba'al himself in his three piece business suit - they were dressed in typical Jaffa armor, the tattoos on their foreheads proclaiming their allegiance to Ba'al. "They're cool, but it's not Halloween yet. What are they supposed to be? Is this something to do with--"

"--Jason!" Danny snapped, very much afraid of what might happen if the other boy managed to irritate the Goa'uld. Unfortunately it's hard to 'snap' with any real authority when you're only five years old.

Jason blinked, surprised by Danny's urgent interruption. "What?" he asked, confused.

"Sshhhhhhhh!" Danny shook his head firmly, trying to convey the need for Jason to just shut up and do what he was told. As much as he hated to admit it, Danny knew the other boy was extraneous. Ba'al had no reason to keep him alive.

Ba'al glanced between the two boys and chuckled softly. "Oh, do relax Daniel," he admonished the 'younger' boy with a smile. "You're acting as if I were some sort of monster who wanted to kill him or something!"

Jason rolled his eyes, taking it as the joke it appeared to be at face value, but Danny knew better.

And Ba'al knew he knew.

"Come now," the Goa'uld coaxed with feigned geniality. "I rather think I like your little friend ... Jason, is it?" He turned back to the other boy with a questioning look.

Jason nodded.

Danny just kept his mouth shut, wishing Ba'al would get to the point and leave the other boy alone. Unfortunately, the Goa'uld seemed to have taken a shine to his friend.

The thought made Danny shudder!

"Yes.... It was never my intention that you should be caught up in all of this, Jason - I know it must be quite confusing - but I am beginning to think it might prove to be a most fortuitous turn of circumstance for me."

Jason frowned in confusion. "Four-to-what?"

Ba'al's smile became ever so slightly strained as he was forced to translate. "Lucky," he explained simply, actually reaching out to ruffle the boy's hair. Jason didn't like that sort of thing any more than Danny did and pulled away, only to suddenly find himself backed up against the cold armor of a silent and unmoving Jaffa. Ba'al ignored the boy's reaction and merely kept smiling. "You seem to be quite the bright and inquisitive lad, Jason. Unfortunately, I don't really have the time necessary to answer your questions properly. I'm afraid your father - and Danny's friends - are going to become quite concerned if I keep you away from them for too long."

"You're going to let us go?" Jason asked, a little surprised at the implication that they hadn't been kidnapped for money or something like that.

"Of course, I am," Ba'al answered, smiling broadly and surprising Danny as well - not that Danny believed him. "But first, I need to get young Daniel here to help me with a couple of things; then I can arrange for you both to go home."

Jason frowned sharply. "I thought you said before you were here to help him; not the other way 'round."

"Ah, you were paying attention. That's very good!" Ba'al replied easily. "But you see, I need to get his help before I can help him."

"I don't think so," Danny told their captor quietly.

Jason glanced at Danny, noting the younger boy's continued obstinate glare for the man. Ba'al's relaxed manner and Danny's obvious distrust of him were contradictory things that left the other boy feeling off-balance and confused. He turned back in time to see Ba'al answer Danny's defiant statement with an irritated flash of his eyes. The six year old stepped back in astonishment only to run into the Jaffa behind him again. This time, the guard reached down to rest a hand on his shoulder - but Jason was too fascinated by what he'd just seen to even notice it.

"Whoa!" the boy exclaimed in amazement. "How'd you do that?"

Ba'al's gaze never left Danny. "Your friend knows," he assured the other boy in the dual voice of a Goa'uld. "Perhaps you can get him to explain it to you later."

The strangely resonate voice caused Jason to give another gasp of surprise and try to step away, only to discover the guard's hand on his shoulder wasn't there for reassurance. He glanced up at the man behind him in surprise and was answered with a warning shake of the man's head.

Ba'al watched the momentary exchange in amusement before turning his gaze back to Danny. "I am capable of many things, Jason," he told the other boy almost gently, "but I really don't think your friend here wants me to demonstrate them. Do you, 'Danny'...."

It wasn't really a question - but it still demanded an answer. Danny felt like his heart was in his throat as he quickly shook his head. He hadn’t missed the underlying hint of menace in the Goa'uld’s tone. "I'll do whatever you want, just leave him alone."

Jason frowned in confusion, not sure why the younger boy seemed so afraid all of a sudden.

Ba'al answered Danny's easy capitulation with a triumphant grin. "I rather thought you might change your mind," he offered brightly.
* * *

Part 10

Jack hated waiting. Waiting meant someone else was off doing something else while you were left twiddling your proverbial thumbs. He stared down at the medical cart he was standing beside without really seeing it. Mitchell wasn't much better at waiting, he noted - not for the first time. The other man's incessant pacing wasn't helping Jack's own sense of frustration.

He frowned at the sheet draped body residing on the gurney between them. Osprey's lucky shot had been just a little too lucky.


One of the instruments on the cart actually managed to catch Jack's eye. It looked for all the world like one of those 'handy' tools you could buy for reaching stuff up high without having to get out a step stool - only a lot smaller. The main body of it consisted of a roughly two foot long narrow tube with a pistol grip handle attached at an angle to one end. It was obviously a surgical tool of some sort but it couldn't be sterile, not just lying out there exposed to the air and all - so he picked it up and experimented a bit. When he 'pulled the trigger,' the tip on the other end opened like a pair of tiny tweezers....

He knew Osprey and Dixon were around here somewhere too. Dixon was probably checking in with his team. They'd been scheduled to head off-world with SG-3 this afternoon, if Jack remembered right, but Landry had put a hold on all non-critical missions for the moment - with Jack's approval.

Dave's eldest, Andy, was going to be fine, but Mitchell's first question to the colonel had ended any hope they'd had that the younger boy hadn't been abducted with Danny. His father was definitely not a happy camper and Jack couldn't blame him. Dixon had put his life on the line many times for the sake the planet - he knew the risks; he knew the stakes - but he'd never expected his six year old son to wind up on the front lines!

Jack decided the device he was holding was actually kinda cool. It would be great for reaching into tight and tiny spaces like under the refrigerator or beside the dryer.... Yeah, he could just slip it under the dryer, open up the tweezers end, close it down again and yank out that sock he dropped back there two months ago which he hadn't bothered to drag the whole damn machine out to retrieve.

Frowning, he decided he really didn't want to know what the docs actually used something like this for....

Jack had no idea where Osprey was. Probably typing up his report while the event was still fresh in his mind. 'Seemed the sort. The young captain was certainly getting a crash course in trouble-magnet management 101. Was it really only four days ago they'd been just down the hall, watching Danny fight for his life? The fever that had been caused by some sort of temporal connection to his ascended-self had been truly terrifying and given Jack several more gray hairs....

Jack abruptly put the device back down, resisting the sudden urge to throw it. He should have sensed something! 'Should have known the minute he opened the door that something wasn't right. He'd been trained to recognize when things were off; things that other people took for granted - and it had saved his life, and others, more than once. Problem was, he was a freaking general now! He'd been out of the field for too damn long. Those instincts and feelings he'd once honed to a razor sharp awareness were dull and rusty from disuse.

He refused to think about what either boy might be going through right now. Ba'al wouldn't take it easy on them just because they were kids. Zats, Goa'uld cloaking devices and Asgard beaming technology? Yeah ... if there'd been any question before as to who was behind all of this, there was none now.

Jack glanced up expectantly as the door suddenly opened, then offered a silent sigh of mixed relief and frustration. They were waiting on Teal'c - but it was good to see Sam.

"Sir," she greeted him formally even as she moved forward to join him beside the body. She awarded Mitchell a simple nod as she reached out to offer Jack's arm a momentary squeeze. At least her arrival had managed to stop the younger man's constant pacing! "I heard what happened. Are you okay?" Her glance included Mitchell in the question.

"We're fine." Jack quickly dismissed her concern. "Did you manage to learn anything from your friend, Agent Barrett?" He'd asked Landry to have her query the NID for anything and everything they had on the Trust.

"Not really," she answered, obviously as frustrated with the fact as Jack was to hear it. "He said they pretty much disappeared following the Halcyon Tower incident in Seattle. We also managed to nab quite a few of them during the raid on Ba'al's compound outside of Bethesda. That and the files we recovered put a definite crimp in their operations. There were no addresses or mention of any off-world activity in the files they've managed to decrypt so far. I've asked him to send us a copy of all the stuff that hasn't been decrypted yet, but I'm not sure we'll have anymore luck than his experts."

Jack nodded pensively. Sam had a habit of disparaging some of her own skills when it came to such things, but he knew she was better than good. Plus she had the advantage of knowing a lot more about the Goa'uld than any of Barrett's so-called 'experts.' It was definitely worth a shot.

She decided to change the subject and nodded at the sheet draped body. "This the guy your driver shot?"

Mitchell answered before he could. "Straight through the heart," he confirmed. "Given the guy was cloaked at the time, it was a pretty lucky shot."

"Or not," Jack interjected firmly. It was a little hard to question someone who was dead!

Mitchell had the grace to wince.

"Any ID on him?" she asked, pulling the sheet back to reveal a far too typical clean shaven, thirty-something, more-than-pallid Caucasian face. There was nothing remarkable about it. He could have blended into any crowd and disappeared.

"Nope," Jack answered simply and pointed to the counter that ran along one of the walls; more specifically at the contents of a large fluid-filled jar that stood there. "But we did find that."

Sam blinked in surprise. "A larval Goa'uld?" she asked, frowning in confusion. It was quite young from the looks of it - and also quite dead.

"'Didn't survive long once it wriggled free of its nice warm pouch," Mitchell explained.

The co-leader of SG-1 did a double-take and quickly glanced to the deceased's forehead. It was smooth and unmarred. "You're saying he's Jaffa?"

Jack nodded and wagged his eyebrows at the obvious implications of untattooed Jaffa running around Earth. "We only got the one," he noted.

"How many more were there?" she asked.

"'Don't know," Mitchell answered. "Evidence suggests at least three others, but there could have been more."

Sam glanced between them in growing alarm, realizing they could be dealing with a much bigger problem here than a simple kidnapping - which was bad enough. Fortunately, the one person who might be able to shed some light on the situation arrived just then.

"T', my man!" Mitchell greeted his appearance with obvious relief. "Just the Jaffa we've been waiting to see!"

The lift of a single eyebrow was Teal'c's only comment on this overly enthusiastic greeting even as Jack and Sam moved apart from beside the gurney. "Do you know this guy?" Jack asked without preamble.

Teal'c quickly stepped forward to fill the obvious void they'd created and cocked his head to the side as he regarded the dead man for a long moment. "I do not," he answered solemnly and glanced up again. "Was he among those who attacked your residence, Col. Mitchell?"

Mitchell sighed. "Yeah...."

Jack nodded Teal'c's attention over to the counter top and its contents. "You know anything about untattooed Jaffa running around loose?"

Teal'c frowned sharply, glancing from the container across the way back to the body on the gurney. Without hesitation or apology, he grabbed the sheet and stripped it down to the man's waist, clearly revealing the X shaped opening of his symbiote pouch. Frowning harder, Teal'c leaned forward to peer closely at the man's forehead, using his thumb to gently rub the unmarred skin. After a long moment, he straightened again to face his friends. "This man's tattoo has been removed."

"I didn't think that was possible," Mitchell noted and then had to correct himself. "I mean, I know it's possible, just...." He waved a hand at the unblemished forehead. That had to be the best damn job of tattoo removal he'd ever seen!

"The Jaffa do not possess this technology," Teal'c agreed, slightly misunderstanding what the colonel was implying. "Only a Goa'uld with a sarcophagus is capable of such removal."

"Sarcophagus?" Sam echoed in surprise.

"The skin of the area must be completely excised," Teal'c explained. "Then the Jaffa is placed in a sarcophagus. Once healed, a new tattoo is bestowed to replace the old. It is usually only done when a Goa'uld is attempting to establish his brand for the first time."

"Like Anubis did three years ago," Sam noted. His symbol had appeared very quickly among the Jaffa, whereas they'd always seen previous Goa'uld simply absorb rival Jaffa into their men's ranks without changing their tattoos. Their enemy's mark emblazoned on their servants stood as a reminder of their superiority over defeated adversaries.

Teal'c nodded solemnly. "It is a painful and time consuming process."

"Not something that can be done on a wide-spread scale then," Jack decided.

"Only with great difficulty," Teal'c explained. "Such is normally done at a temple under the supervision of a Goa'uld's Most High Priests and trusted Under Lords. Even then, no more than a hundred converts can be processed per day - assuming the normal rituals and vows have been previously observed."

"Okay," Jack nodded, dismissing the possibility. With the fall of the System Lords, Ba'al was on the run. He no longer had the influence or infrastructure to do something like that. "So, how does any of this help us find Danny?"

The three others exchanged questioning looks. Obviously nothing came immediately to mind.

The base PA system chose that moment to interrupt them. "Gen. O'Neill report to Conference Room A. Repeat: Gen. O'Neill please report of Conference Room A."

He glanced at his watch and cursed. "It's the damn video conference they set up earlier," he decided and turned for the door. "Find something!" he ordered those he was forced to leave behind. "Analyze the damn dirt under his fingernails if you have to, just ... find something!"

With a frustrated sigh, he strode from the room and headed for the elevator. He might not have been able to get out of this damn thing with anything short of his own abduction or death, but he had every intention of keeping it as short as possible.

Preferably, under sixty seconds.
* * *

Part 11

Danny was shoved back into the 'holding cell slash cargo hold' and turned to glare at the guard. "I want my backpack and coat back!" he yelled even as the tri-piece door slid shut in his face. Behind him, he heard Jason scrambling to his feet. Sighing, Danny turned back around to find the older boy hurrying toward him.

"You okay?" Jason asked anxiously. It was obvious he'd been crying.

"I'm fine," Danny assured him, a little surprised. The other boy had been a ball of questions and angry bravado when Ba'al had taken Danny into the control compartment and locked him in here. Apparently half an hour alone was long enough to realize their captors probably weren't quite as nice and friendly as they seemed. "You?" Danny asked in concern.

Jason shrugged. "I was getting scared everyone had forgotten I was in here," he admitted with a sniff. That half an hour had probably felt a lot longer to him, Danny realized. Jason used his shirt sleeve to wipe his nose. "I wanna go home. Did you help Mr. Ball like he wanted?"

Danny sighed and nodded. It wasn't like he'd really had a choice.

"So he's going to let us go now, like he promised?" The question was half-hopeful, half-demanding. "Man! My dad is going to be so mad...."

"It's not your fault we were kidnapped," Danny pointed out.

"Yeah, but he'll still say I should'a run the other way or something, and he'll never believe me when I tell him the guy who grabbed you was invisible and everything!"

"Your dad knows all about these guys," Danny assured him, glancing around. He knew he'd been in rooms like this before, but he didn't remember them being quite so big and empty. He noted that Jason had taken off his own coat and apparently been using it to sit on over in the corner. "He'll believe you."

"How do you know?" Jason frowned but went on before Danny could answer. "Mr. Ball said he was a friend of your uncle."

Danny frowned sharply. "He's no friend," he declared firmly. "And his name isn't 'Mr. Ball', it's just Ba'al. Two a's and one ell. It's an ancient--" What was he doing trying to explain the guy's name? He shook his head and dismissed it. "Never mind. He's just a bad guy," Danny added in warning. A part of him said he should be making up some sort of a cover story to explain everything away - but the larger part of him said that was foolish and dangerous. There was no telling what else Ba'al might want or do. "He's a very bad guy, but we'll be fine as long as we do whatever he says."

He hoped.

If Danny had been in this alone, the Goa'uld would have had a major fight on his hands. As it was, Danny didn't even dare think about resisting him. Ba'al had made it perfectly clear Jason was nothing but a whipping-boy who would pay the ultimate price if Danny didn't behave. So far he hadn't asked anything Danny couldn't give.

Danny didn't know how long that was going to last....

"He said he was going to let us go if you helped him," Jason contended staunchly. "You said you helped him!"

"I did," Danny answered.


"So ... we have to wait." Danny sighed.

"I don't want to wait!" Jason exclaimed. "He said he was going to let us go and he isn't so that means he lied. He could be lying about everything! We gotta get out of here, Danny." He moved over to the back wall and pointed at the control panel there. "It's another door," he explained. "I think the buttons are a kind of combination lock. If we can figure out the right code, we can escape!"

"It only leads to the engine room," Danny told him dismissively.

"Engine room?" Jason echoed. "You mean like on a boat or something? How'd you know that? And how'd we wind up on a boat? All I remember is a flash of light. I mean, it was like ... 'bam!' and we were here, right? I don't even remember being knocked out ,but they musta. It was weird."

"They used an Asgard transportation beam. It's--" How to explain it.... "It's like they used to do on Star Trek?" He wasn't sure the other boy would have ever seen that show. He sighed and decided to just come out with everything. "We're not on Earth any more Jason; we're on a space ship. Even if we could get out of here, there's nowhere to go. We're in the middle of outer space!"

Jason blinked and then offered him a sudden frown. "Not funny, Danny!" he exclaimed angrily. "You might think this is all some kind of joke or something, but I don't! I wanna go home; and I wanna go home now!" He turned to start punching the key pad at random, trying to stumble on the necessary combination to open it. He had no idea how many to press, let alone what sequence to use.

If Ba'al was smart, the key pad had been locked out from the control console. Nevertheless, Danny thought it safer to stop Jason before he could do anything to get them in trouble. He hurried across the room to join the other boy.

Thank goodness the controls for the rings were by the other door.

Even as Danny thought that, the other door suddenly hissed open and the two boys turned in surprise to watch as the same man who'd grabbed Danny toss Danny's coat and backpack across the room - before noticing where they were and what they were apparently doing.

"Get away from that door!" the man shouted, striding forward in obvious anger. Jason jumped aside as if his fingers had been burnt but the man kept advancing.

Danny quickly stepped between him and the bigger boy. "Leave him alone!" he shouted.

"Kree, Jaffa!" Ba'al snapped from the doorway before the man could finish closing the distance. The dual quality of his voice caused the hairs to stand up on Danny's neck but also brought instant obedience. The guard immediately stopped and turned to come to attention. "What is happening in here?" the Goa'uld demanded with an angry flash of his eyes.

"I caught the Tauri children attempting to access the engine compartment, my lord," the man answered concisely.

My lord? Danny had thought the guy was human, but he didn't think even a member of the Trust would address Ba'al as 'lord.'

Ba'al lifted an eyebrow and frowned at Danny. "Sabotage?" he suggested softly. "Were you hoping that by stranding us in space we'd be forced to call for help and that your friends would suddenly appear to rescue you?"

"More like the Ori," Danny grumbled unhappily. "No thank you."

Ba'al's frown became a smirk. "Smart boy." The smirk quickly vanished. "Then what were you doing at the engine room door?"

Danny had to think fast. The Goa'uld wouldn't be happy with the truth and would punish Jason to make sure it didn't happen again. "I ... was looking for the bathroom!" he lied, carefully adding a plaintive whine and pressing his legs together to reinforce his words.

Ba'al blinked in surprise. "I would think you'd be well acquainted with where it is on a Tel'tak, given how often you've been aboard one." The smirk was suddenly back, but there was still a hint of suspicion in it.

"I don't remember," he answered petulantly. That much at least was the truth.

Ba'al studied him for a long moment before turning to signal one of his minions behind him. "Go stand guard in the engine room," he ordered simply and turned back to the boys as the Jaffa moved around his master to take up his newly assigned post. "Come here, Jason."

Danny quickly jumped in front of Jason, between the boy and Goa'uld, fearing what Ba'al might do. "No!" he shouted. "I'm telling the truth. We didn't do anything wrong!"

The man Danny now suspected was either Ba'al's Lo'tar or a Goa'uld Under Lord decided to take it on himself to enforce his master's order. Danny fell as he was suddenly shoved aside and the guard grabbed Jason by the arm.

"No!" Jason screamed, trying desperately to escape the iron grip as he was dragged forward. "Let me go!" He struggled and kicked to no avail.

"Ar'ee kree!" Ba'al bellowed - there was no other description for it. Everyone in the room, including Jason, froze. After a long moment, Ba'al sighed and offered the scene before him an exasperated shake of his head. He allowed a small smile to tug at his lips. When he spoke, his voice reverted to 'normal.' "It is truly amazing to me that Tauri children ever manage to survive to adulthood."

"Hurt Jason and you'll never get what you want." Daniel's words were loud in the silent room as he got back to his feet. He stood his ground firmly and crossed his arms, a determined look on his face. "I'll tell Jack to destroy it!"

Ba'al regarded him with a raised eyebrow. "You would condemn yourself to your present condition then, knowing I can reverse it?"

Danny's glare was unwavering. "Hurt him and you'll find out," he promised quietly.

Ba'al's gaze narrowed and the smile dropped away. He'd managed to study enough of Daniel Jackson's history to know he was more than capable of carrying out his promise - though Ba'al doubted the IOA, Tok'ra or Asgard would permit it....

He couldn't risk it.

"Let him go," he ordered quietly, never taking his eyes from his young adversary.

The guard released Jason, who immediately scrambled away to stand behind Danny. "You said you were going to let us go!" the older boy shouted over his shoulder, fighting to hang onto his anger and ignore the frightened tears the struggle with the guard had evoked. "You promised!"

Ba'al again lifted a brow in mild surprise. It was evident he was starting to get irritated. "And I will keep my promise," he answered the six year old haughtily. "When we are safe. Koh'vahk!"

The first guard and Jaffa who'd followed him in, spun on their heel to exit the room.

Ba'al abruptly walked over to one of the side walls and pressed a hidden recess. A gilded cross between an urn and a tall chamber pot shot out from beside him. He turned back to Danny and allowed his eyes to flash, his voice once again taking on the characteristic resonance of a Goa'uld when he spoke. "I understand you still speak Goa'uld...."

It wasn't really a question, but Danny nodded anyway.

Ba'al's eyes darted to Jason for only a moment. "Rin'nok tel'shak - lo'nok kree!" he warned Danny softly before turning and disappearing as well. Keep him still - or else! The door irised shut once more, locking them in.

"What did he say?" Jason asked, not really sure he wanted to know.

"We have to behave," Danny answered simply. With a shrug, he pointed at the device that had appeared out of the wall. "That's a toilet."
* * *

Part 12

"...It's little wonder they were having trouble with the decryption," Sam explained, glancing up from her notes concerning the files the NID had sent them. "Ancient is hard enough to read without tossing a cypher into the mix. Probably a little trick he picked up from Anubis. I've recruited two of Daniel's top translators in the linguistics department to help."

"Take whoever you need, Colonel." Landry nodded and glanced down at his own notes.

The sudden sound of the gate activating carried up to them from below. Across from Cam, Dixon offered a pensive frown and turned to the conference room window.

Landry glanced at his watch. "That'll be SG-3 heading out," he answered the unasked question. "The Tok'ra were able to give us a couple of old addresses for Ba'al to check out. 'Used to be secret bases; 'might still be useful to him." He offered a shrug by way of admitting it was a long shot without saying it aloud. Secret bases the Tok'ra were willing to admit knowing about usually weren't that secret.

Tap.... Tap. Tap .... .... tap.

Cam turned to see Gen. O'Neill frowning pensively as he concentrated on the rather erratic movement of a pen he was playing with. He held it at one end and let the other bounce on the hard wood surface as he apparently tried his best to ignore the others at the table.

Cam wasn't buying it. He suspected the general could repeat most everything that had been said so far verbatim. Not that a lot had been said - at least nothing of real substance. Cam had already given his own report and summarized the report from the Emergency Response Team - which wasn't much: four attackers, one beamed up with the kids. A possible unknown car had been spotted earlier in the neighborhood: late model, dark colored sedan - not exactly helpful. They were expanding their search and questions to include the park around the corner as the most likely staging area for the attack.

The autopsy and forensics report from Lam had been a bust as well. The only thing she could tell them was that the Jaffa they had in the morgue was unable to take tratonin. Apparently there was a small percentage of them with a certain enzyme or something in their blood that rejected it. 'Made it kinda rough for those few to break away from their Goa'uld masters.

She'd also said the baby Goa'uld wasn't a Ba'al clone - though it did share several alleles in common with the genetic material that had been recovered from the science lab they'd found at Ba'al's compound outside Bethesda a few months back. Apparently Ba'al had himself a queen out there somewhere - though Teal'c was pretty sure she wasn't on Earth or they would have found spawning and incubation tanks at the same compound.

The thought of even the one dead symbiote in the morgue on Earth was enough to make Cam's skin crawl - and from the sound of things they probably had at least two more, very much alive, if the escaped attackers turned out to be untattooed Jaffa as well.

Tap. Tap. Tap...

He glanced at the man beside him and bit his tongue. Biting the general's head off probably wouldn't be a good career move!

"Okay, then," Landry sighed. "To summarize: we've got squat. That about cover it?"

Apparently Cam and Jack weren't the only ones feeling a little frustrated!

Across the table beside Dixon, Sam winced. "Until we find something in those files or our off-world teams manage to stumble on something--"

"--Any luck on finding that mole, sir?" Cam interrupted the fruitless statement. He was a long way from being ready to give up yet.

"Not yet," the man at the head of the table answered unhappily. "We're still questioning people and running complete financial checks on everyone who could have possibly had access to the infirmary - including their immediate families. People don't tend to turn traitor for free."

If they were smart enough to get in here in the first place, Cam knew, chances were they were smart enough not to leave a money trail. He sighed as a headache began to pound behind his eyes.

Gen. O'Neill's pen slammed onto the table. "So what do we do now?" he demanded bluntly. "Keep sitting on our collective asses and wait for Ba'al to start returning them to us a piece at at a time?"

Oh, the man was definitely not in a good mood - and that little video conference call with the Pentagon and IOA earlier probably hadn't helped any. Across from them, Dixon paled and fought not to explode in turn. Gen. O'Neill immediately regretted the words and cast the other man an apologetic glance.

Teal'c, as always, remained unflappable. "With your permission," he addressed Gen. Landry, "I will go to Dakara to follow up on my request to the Interim Council regarding any and all knowledge concerning Ba'al and his clones locations and movements. I will also ask concerning any rumors of untattooed Jaffa elsewhere which might lead us to his current base of operations."

"Sounds like a plan." Landry nodded.

Sam spoke next, even as she gathered up her own notes once more. "And I'll get back to those encryptions," she volunteered. "I'll let you know as soon as we find anything."

This was answered by a simple nod as Landry pushed back from the table and stood. Lam gathered her stuff and stood as well. Apparently, the meeting was over.

"And the rest of us, sir?" Cam asked in a tightly controlled voice as he too rose in deference to the general.

Landry offered him a sympathetic shake of his head. "Go home, Colonel," he ordered bluntly and glanced beyond him to Jack and then over to Dixon. "All of you. There's nothing any of you can do here."

"I'd like to take over the hunt for that mole, if you don't mind, Hank," Gen. O'Neill suggested as he picked up his pen to play with again. There was a definite plea mixed with an iron fist in a velvet glove quality to the request. If he had to pull rank, he would.

"Fine," Hank agreed reluctantly. "As long as you keep from sending any of my people to the infirmary. Maj. Harper of SG-5 is the point man to see."

"Permission to join the effort, sir," Cam requested as well and gave the two men a frustrated look. "With all due respect, I'm going to go stir crazy if you all don't give me something to do here! My wrist won't keep me from asking people questions."

"What about me?" Dixon added his own request. "I'm perfectly capable of sitting in an interrogation room all day too."

Landry cast the wheelchair bound colonel a sympathetic look, but shook his head. "Your family needs you, Dave," he answered resolutely. "You need to be with them, not here questioning men who may or may not have had something to do with your son's abduction. One of them looks at you wrong and I suspect you'd come out of that chair and break their neck!"

Dave couldn't deny the very real possibility. "Right," he growled unhappily. "I can see myself explaining this to my wife now: 'Honey, the five year old neighbor kid who just moved in has a deranged older brother who's a mad scientist experimenting with highly classified energy weapons. He went bonkers, kidnapped his younger brother and decided to grab Jason too just to keep him company.'"

The others still at the table all exchanged surprised glances and then Cam shrugged. "Works for me!" he declared.

Dixon groaned and rolled his eyes.

"Your story sounds as good as anything else we're likely to come up with," Landry agreed. "Tell her whatever you need to and assure her that we are doing everything we can to find both boys."

"And what do I tell Andy about seeing Danny floating in mid-air?" he asked.

"Never happened," Cam suggested. "Electrical jolts like that can play havoc with your short term memory. He just thought he saw it."

Dave offered him a mild glare. "And if the neighbors saw it?"

"Mass hallucination!" Landry offered and shrugged. He shook his head and gave a weary sigh. "I might be convinced to let you read the wife in Dave, but I don't think the truth is going to help her - and I'm definitely not letting you read in a twelve year old!"

"And how are you going to explain everything away to Jason when we get him back?" Dave refused to say 'if.'

Landry offered that a tired groan of his own. "We'll deal with that when the time comes," he decided and pinned the man with a hard look. "Go home," he repeated firmly. "I'll call the minute we have anything new to tell you. I swear."

"Sir?" Cam asked, hoping and praying that the general would grant his own request.

"Yes, Colonel, you can join the interrogation team." Landry awarded the thought a slight chuckle. "If confronting you and Jack doesn't break our erstwhile mole, nothing will! Just remember--" He allowed his eyes to include Jack. "--neither of you can get information from a corpse!"
* * *

"What did he mean by 'when we're safe'?" Jason asked.

Having been left alone again and locked into the empty room with nothing else to do, Danny had retrieved his coat and backpack and moved it over by Jason's. They sat leaning back against the wall wondering what was going to happen next.

"He's probably waiting until the Odyssey leaves or something," Danny decided. "Either that, or he's taking us somewhere." He frowned as he tried to remember Ba'al's exact words about letting them go. The Goa'uld would probably get a kick out of implying that he intended to return them home safely only to 'let them go' by selling them into slavery on some back water world the SGC had never heard about before.

"What's the Odyssey?" Jason asked.

Danny sighed. Jason hadn't believed him before when he'd tried to explain they were in outer space and he probably wouldn't believe him now. "It's an Earth space ship," he answered simply.

"Danny!" the other boy protested sharply with an angry whine.

"I am not kidding!" Danny protested in turn. "Earth has been sending people to other planets for about ten years now. My uncle, my ... guardian," he stumbled slightly over the designation, refusing to name Cam his 'step-father,' "and even your dad are all a part of it!"

To his surprise the other boy didn't immediately scoff at him. Jason frowned. He chewed his lip. He glanced at the engine room door again. "...He said something about being stuck in space," he remembered quietly.

Ba'al had accused Danny of wanting to strand them in space until the SGC could ride to the rescue. Danny was surprised Jason had picked up on that!

"Not a good idea," he answered the other boy, explaining his answer to Ba'al as well. "There are a lot of bad guys out ... there." He waved a hand to indicate everything beyond their little room. "Some of them are even worse than Ba'al."

"And is that why his eyes flash like that?" Jason asked softly. "'And his voice goes all weird? Cause he's an alien?"

Danny nodded but didn't bother to try to explain about symbiotes. It wasn't necessary.

"He doesn't look like an alien." Jason frowned as his intellect warred with everything he'd been taught and believed to be true.

Okay, maybe it was necessary.... Keeping it simple then, Danny went into Goa'uld 101 and on to explain the basic history and operation of the Stargate Program, without revealing his part in it. He figured that would be a little too hard for Jason to believe on top of everything else.

"So what does he want with us?" Jason asked. "He said he was trying to help you."

Danny sighed and rested his head back against the bulkhead. "He's a Goa'uld," Danny explained simply. "You can't trust him."

"But why did he kidnap us?" Jason insisted. "Is he going to turn us into Goa'uld's too?"

Danny shook his head. "He's got all kinds of slaves," he answered and frowned at the thought. Something seemed wrong with it but he wasn't sure what. "He doesn't need to kidnap a couple of kids for that."

"Then why did he kidnap us?" Jason repeated again.

"He kidnapped me because I know stuff and he wants something from Earth and thinks I can get it for him," Danny explained. "You just got caught in the transport beam."

"Oh." Jason sat and chewed his lip again as he fought to digest everything that Danny had said. He frowned in confusion. "...This is real, isn't it," he said at last. "You're not just making it up."

It wasn't really a question, but Danny answered anyway. "I wish I were," he admitted. Life had been so much easier back with his mom and dad in Egypt....
* * *

Part 13

Jason looked up from the book Danny had given him to read. It was a grown up book with lots of big words he didn't know, but it also had a lot of cool pictures of Egypt and stuff. He'd just started the first grade this year and they were learning about all kinds of other countries right now. A lot of the kids in his class could barely read at all but his mom had been teaching him since he was little. He was in a special advanced reading group at school but they didn't read books like this. He'd sat and watched Danny out of the corner of his eye and knew the other boy was really reading, not just faking it. "Are you smart?" he asked abruptly.

Danny glanced up from his own book in surprise. He kinda frowned, like he was embarrassed or something, and shrugged. Jason didn't like it when the other kids in his class noticed he was smarter than they were either.

"Me too," Jason declared. "Mom says that's why I keep getting in trouble for talking in class and everything, 'cause I'm bored."

Danny looked up again. "Why don't they test you for a harder class?"

Jason shrugged. "Mom wants them to but some of the teachers don't think it's a good idea. They don't like testing kids too young or something." He shrugged again. "Are you in school yet?"

Danny went back to his book as he answered. "Mom was home-schooling me," he answered.


Jason's dad had explained that Danny's mother was killed in a car accident not too long ago. "Sorry," he said simply, apologizing for making him remember.

Danny shrugged. "I've been through the testing before," he admitted quietly, not looking up from his book. "It's not bad. It's actually kind of fun."

"Yeah?" Jason asked - and then frowned as his stomach offered a definite gurgle. "I'm getting hungry. Are they going to feed us?"

Both boys froze and looked up as the soft sounds from the engine room rose momentarily and then died.

"We've stopped," Danny decided.

Jason frowned. "How can you tell?" It hadn't even felt like they were moving.

Danny shrugged. "I've been on ships like this before."

"How's that possible?" he asked, frowning as he remembered Mr. - no, not 'Mr. Ball,' just 'Baal' he remembered; two a's and one ell - saying something about that earlier. "Are you an alien too?" he asked, suddenly wondering if maybe he shouldn't be afraid of Danny too!

"No," Danny sighed. "I'm definitely from Earth."

The door to the control area hissed open without warning, interrupting them, and 'Baal' and a couple of his weirdly dressed goons came in.

"It is time for me to keep my promise," the man announced with a bit of a smirk.

The guy was creepy, Jason decided. He'd seemed kinda nice at first - in a scary kinda way - but now, knowing what he was.... Yeah, he thought again: definitely creepy!

"You're going to return us safe and sound to my front yard?" Danny asked with a suspicious frown.

Baal offered that a pensive grin before shaking his head. "...Not exactly," he answered.

Danny sighed and folded his arms. "'Didn't think so."

Boy, Danny really didn't like this guy but he sure was brave. Jason would have never talked back to a grown up like that - let alone an alien!

"Not to fear, young Daniel," the guy assured him with that really-not-nice-smile of his. "You will get home again, safe and sound as you say - eventually. Unfortunately, I can't simply return you to Earth. I'm quite sure your radar and scanners, primitive as they are, are busy keeping a sharp eye on the space around your world. And while, yes, I have obviously eluded them before, I really don't want to test their capabilities when they are on such high alert following your abduction. No," he decided, "far safer to set you down on a planet with a Stargate and let you make your own way home. I assume you still remember how to operate a DHD? I know your little..." he glanced at Jason as though censoring himself, "...incident rather messed with your mind. If we had the time I'd love to explore exactly how further but, alas! Your uncle will never forgive me if I hold you much longer. Of course, if you'd like to give me the address for the Alpha Site, I'd be glad to dial it for you?" he offered.

Danny awarded him a definite glare for the suggestion. "I remember how to use it," he declared.

"I rather thought so," Baal answered with a disappointed shrug. "You also remember not to dial Earth, right? I don't have a GDO to give you and would truly hate to see you end up as a gelatinous smear on the back of your iris. It would be a little difficult for me to negotiate with your uncle for what I want if you were dead."

"I remember," Danny claimed unhappily.

"Good. Good..." Baal answered and waved the two of them to the center of the room. "Right then; off you go. I'll be in contact once I confirm my suspicions."

Danny was still not looking very happy as he told Jason to get his coat and then retrieved his own and his backpack, stuffing the two books they'd taken out earlier back inside. Then Danny lead him to the center of the room where there was a big circle painted on the floor. "This is kinda like what they did when they beamed us up," he explained. "Don't let it scare you."

"Are we really going down to another planet?" Jason asked, half-fearful and half-excited.

"Indeed you are, Jason," Baal answered for Danny who was busy putting on the backpack. "Just think of the wonderful adventure you'll be able to relate to all your friends when you get home!" he suggested brightly.

Danny tossed the man another angry glare and Jason just frowned. There was absolutely no way that anyone was going to believe any of this!

And then there was suddenly something coming up out of the circle on the floor, surrounding them as a bright light shone down from above and...

...and then it was like before. Like Danny said. There was a big flash of light and then the round cage-like things were disappearing again, back up into the weird space ship that was hovering right over them!

And it had to be a real space ship. Jason had never seen anything like that before at the air shows his father took them to occasionally.

And ... that wasn't the moon!

At least it wasn't a regular moon. It looked like Jupiter or something, only it was blue instead of orange and it was huge! "Whoa...."

And then the space ship was flying away!

"Hey, wait!" he yelled, suddenly scared to be left all alone except for Danny. It was one thing to be told you were on a space ship and being kidnapped by aliens from outer space; it was another thing all together to suddenly find yourself on another planet who knew how far away from home with no idea how to get back! He felt himself start to tremble as the ship sped quickly away.

"It's okay, Jason," Danny reassured him, hitching his backpack a little more securely onto his shoulders. He lifted an arm to point off to the side. "That's the Stargate."

Jason followed Danny's finger to find himself looking at a really old and big stone ring with carvings and things on it and stairs leading up to it. On the ground in front of it was a tilted mushroom like thingie that had more carvings on it and a big red ball thing in the middle. Danny headed straight for it and Jason had to follow.

Around them on all sides, Jason noted, was a very Earth-like forest. If it weren't for that moon or planet or whatever it was, he.... He stared at it again as he walked behind Danny. It couldn't be faked in someway could it, he wondered? How would you fake something like that? A hologram maybe? He didn't know how those worked but this thing was so huge!

He walked right into the back of Danny when the younger boy stopped and they both nearly fell. Danny caught himself against the tilted mushroom thingie and pressed one of the large carvings on it. Jason jumped back as it issued a weird musical-like noise and lit up. "Oh, crap!" he exclaimed, hoping they hadn't just done something wrong to make it blow up or sound some sort of alarm to make other aliens come see what was wrong.

"It's okay!" Danny quickly told him. "It'll turn off in a few seconds if I don't press any others. You have to press seven of them in a certain sequence before the gate will open."

Jason glanced between the squat device that was bigger than he was and over to the gate. Sure enough, the weird music started to fade and then the light went out.

And then his stomach growled again.

He grimaced and rubbed it. "Is this the DD thing the alien guy was talking about?"

"DHD." Danny nodded and frowned up at it.

"So we can go home now, right?" Jason asked hopefully. "You said you knew how to use it."

Danny nodded again but he was still frowning.

"What's wrong?" Jason asked.

"I can't reach the glyphs to dial it."
* * *

Part 14

The search for the mole was proving as frustrating and fruitless as the search for Ba'al himself. Cam sighed. Lt. Averham's alibi that he had been attending his nephew's bar mitzvah at the time Daniel's medical files were breached had been confirmed by multiple witnesses. Was it possible he'd arranged some sort of automatic download so he could give himself an alibi? Of course, but there was no evidence to suggest he had that kind of computer savvy; nor had Carter found any evidence of such a program on any of the base computers.

Of course, she had yet to find the computer that had been used to hack the O.R. system, so....


He set the file aside and opened the next, looking for discrepancies or questions that the original interrogators of - he flipped the face-sheet over again to double-check the name: Capt. Westerfield, Laura; RN - had missed.

It had been decided both he and Jack were a little too close to the problem and possibly a little too volatile to be involved in the direct interrogations at this point. When security had managed to find themselves a real suspect that might change, but for now....

Another large stack of folders suddenly appeared next to his dinner tray as Gen. O'Neill plopped himself down in the chair opposite with a gusty sigh. Cam eyed the other man as O'Neill scrubbed a hand through his short graying hair and decided the general looked as tired and frustrated as he himself felt.

"Any luck?" the other man asked.

Cam frowned at the two stacks of files he had: one double-checked, the other waiting to be. "Not yet," he sighed. "Our security guys are good. I'm not finding any holes or slip ups."

Jack nodded in shared discouragement. "They found some questionable financial deposits in this lot but they are all minor amounts. Could be early Christmas gifts from parents for all we know. I've ordered a full follow up on anything over a thousand dollars and am taking a look myself at files with smaller amounts. Coffee?"

Cam blinked at the non-sequitur and glanced at his watch: 9:30 pm. No wonder the Mess Hall was deserted. The kids had been gone for eleven hours now.... He winced at the thought and leaned back in his own chair to rub his hands across his weary face. The fine print was starting to make his eyes cross. "Coffee would be great," he decided as he dropped his hands once more. "Any word from SG-8 yet?" They were checking out an address Teal'c had provided.

The general answered with a negative grunt and shake of his head as he turned to the coffee machine. Ah, service coffee - made Mississippi bottom muck look thin and watery....

"Unscheduled off-world activation," the base PA system announced clearly. "Repeat: Unscheduled off-world activation."

Which, both Jack and Cam knew, could mean anything: could be SG-8, could be Teal'c checking in again or it could be some unknown baddie come a knocking.

It could also be Ba'al calling to negotiate the kids' return.

Flagging down an SF who was unlucky enough to be seeking his own cup of coffee at that particular moment, Jack pointed him to the table with the files. "Watch those!" he ordered as he and Cam both made their way to the exit. "Don't let anyone touch them!"
* * *

Landry frowned as he came up behind the gate technician; iris still closed and no announcement of an IDC.... "Report, Chief," he ordered as he eyed the closed barrier. In the back of his mind was the possibility that it could be Danny and Jason trying to get home and the very real danger that Danny's rewired brain might somehow forget about the iris - but Landry tried to dismiss the thought. The chances of the two kids managing to escape somehow, let alone reach a Stargate were....

"Unknown, sir," CMSgt. Harriman replied clearly, frowning at his instruments. "No signal. Wait... We have incoming!"

Damn. The fear of it being Daniel and Jason sky-rocketed up again.

"How many?" he forced himself to ask, knowing he couldn't order the gate opened - it was too late in any case.

Harriman and the technician beside him were both frowning at their screens. "It's not people, sir," the chief master sergeant decided. "I'm showing multiple hits on the iris.... They appear to be small objects, sir." He shook his head in confusion. "Maybe arrows? They're traveling too slow to be bullets."

Landry glanced down at the men's screens but he couldn't make heads or tails out of the readings.

"Radiation?" he asked curtly.

Harriman shook his head. "No, sir; none detected as yet."

The general looked up as he found himself suddenly joined by Jack and Col. Mitchell. "What've we got?" the other general asked as he eyed the closed iris and reflected light of an active wormhole dancing across the back wall of the gate room.

"'Bit of a mystery," Landry decided and turned back to Walter. "Let's get Col. Carter up here to take a look and I want a team in there to scan the back of the iris as soon as the wormhole disengages."

"Yes, sir," Walter answered smartly.

Landry faced Jack and the lieutenant colonel again. "Multiple small objects," he explained simply. "Someone's apparently knocking."
* * *

Danny threw the last of his rocks and stood frowning at the active wormhole until, with nothing more entering the event horizon, it finally shut down. Turning, he hurried back down the steps to where he'd made Jason wait.

"What happened?" the other boy asked.

"I ran out of rocks," he answered.

"Do we need to get more?"

"Maybe," Danny answered. "We just have to wait and see if they understood my message."

"What if they didn't?" Jason asked.

"Then we try again," he answered.

Jason glanced from the gate to the tree tops on their right. The gas giant they were apparently orbiting had set a little while ago and the sun wasn't far behind. It had taken them a while to figure out how to dial the gate. First Jason had gotten down on his hands and knees and Danny had stood on his back, but his arms were still too short to reach the far glyphs. Jumping back down, he'd told Jason to help him find a short but thick stick. It had to be kinda heavy to press the symbols, but not too heavy to lift or control.

And they'd tried again.

Jason had really gotten a scare when the gate suddenly opened. Danny should have warned him. He'd probably thought it was exploding or something! He'd jerked and Danny had tumbled off his perch. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt. He'd just run to the pile of rocks they'd stacked beside the gate and started lobbing them in.

Jason had stayed on the ground watching him, still a little afraid of the weird shimmering stuff that looked for all the world like a pool turned up on its side.

When it turned off, it became obvious the daylight was fading.

"I'm scared," Jason admitted quietly. "It'll be dark soon and we don't have any food, let a lone a tent. And we don't have any matches to make a fire either. We could starve to death or get eaten by some big alien monster or something! What do we do if it rains or snows or--"

"--I know how to make a fire," Danny interrupted him.

"Without any matches?" Jason asked.

Danny nodded. "Couple of ways actually."

"How?" Jason asked and quickly added, "Dad said the old story about rubbing two sticks together doesn't work."

"Not like they show it in cartoons," Danny agreed. "The easiest way is with a nine volt battery and some steel wool, or we could use a magnifying glass to concentrate the sun's light on some fine tinder."

"Do we have any of that?"

"Maybe." Danny was already marching over to his backpack to check it out. When he was throwing his books in there, he thought he remembered seeing the little gardening kit Mitchell had bought him last week. If he had, then his painter's brush and small magnifier might be in there too. Mitchell had tossed those into the mix trying to create a mini-archaeologist's tool set for him. He'd rolled his eyes at the time but he'd kiss Mitchell now if it was in there. How and when the make-do set had gotten in his backpack, he didn't know - he just hoped he was remembering right.

Fire, of course, wasn't their primary concern, but it was important. Some of the trees around them were starting to turn color so it could get cold at night. They were lucky to have their coats. He remembered how Jack had really drilled him on survival basics when he'd first joined the team, though Danny also seemed to remember picking a lot of stuff up over the years while living out of various primitive dig sites around the world. He specifically remembered Jack teaching him the trick with a battery though, even if he did already know how to make a bow and drill to start a fire - that would be a little hard without a knife right now.

Having no knife was not good. He was going to have to ask Mitchell to get him a little pocket knife when they got home. He should be able to handle one of the smaller Swiss Army numbers. Even a little two inch blade would come in very handy right about now.

With any luck, the SGC would send a MALP through any minute and they'd be rescued, but he knew they needed to start preparing for the coming night just in case. If the SGC hadn't responded by the time they got the camp set up and the fire started, they'd have to gather up some more rocks and try again. He'd decided against dialing the Alpha Site because he couldn't remember if it had an iris too or not. He wished he could remember more safe addresses, but Abydos didn't exist anymore and Cimmaria might have fallen to the Ori.

A lot of places he used to know might have fallen to the Ori....

He unzipped the backpack and simply dumped it out. He needed to see everything they had. 'What do we have, what do we need?' as Jack used to always say. "Got anything in your pockets?" he asked Jason.

The other boy dug into his coat pockets and managed to pull out some wadded paper. "Just some empty gum wrappers," he answered dejectedly.

"That's good for tinder," Danny told him with a nod. Yes! Trawl, spade, brush ... magnifying lens! He grabbed it up and held it to his chest as he glanced up at the position of the sun. They only had a couple of hours of daylight left.

"Okay, we're going to have to work fast. We'll set up camp at the edge of the trees and use some of the dead underbrush to make a wind break, but we need to get the fire going first, before the sun gets much lower."
* * *

Sam frowned at the readings as Walter quickly briefed her on what had happened prior to her arrival. Taking his place at the monitor, she quickly pulled up a diagnostic program. The problem was the gate's systems were designed to analyze incoming electronic and radio data, not physical objects. About all she could discern was that they were small, non-explosive and didn't appear to be radioactive. For all she could tell, it could simply be someone throwing rocks through the gate! Watching the screen as it indicated another strike, she tried to detect a pattern - but if there was one, it wasn't immediately obvious.

And then the strikes suddenly stopped and the gate shut down.

"Carter?" Jack asked simply.

"I don't know, sir," she answered, quickly typing in a series of commands to pull up a record of the entire event. "I'm not detecting any anomalies in the gate readings. Whatever the objects were, they don't appear to have been harmful at this point. An analysis of any residue on the back of the iris will tell us more."

The big worry of course was whether this was some new Ori attack or not - like they didn't already have enough to worry about! It hadn't been that long ago they'd had to deal with the near disastrous results of an Ori plague.

"I want the gate room to remain sealed until we can confirm no biological trace or contaminants left on the gate," Landry ordered even as Cam suddenly leaned forward to point at the screen in front of Carter which was presently showing each impact and it's intensity.

"What's that?" he asked, pointing to a series of impacts at the very beginning of the episode.

"Three groups of three impacts, each varying in intensity..." She wasn't sure what he was getting at but something about it caught her eye too.

"It repeats," he noted, pointing to another set a little further on.

"Three times," she agreed, "and once again at the end. But the pattern in the middle doesn't make any sense."

"You said three groups of three?" Jack frowned pensively.

Carter cast him a glance. He'd picked up on something too. "Yes, sir."

"Can we hear them?" he asked.

"The impacts were too light to really be audible in the gate room, but I should be able to amplify the sound enough to let us hear them..." She nodded, suiting action to words. A few moments later and the high tinny sound of something hard hitting the metal of the iris issued forth from the speakers as Sam set the event to playback in real time.

(((Bing! Bang! Ting!)))


(((Bang! ... Bang! ... Ting!)))


(((Bang! Bing! Bing!)))

They all almost immediately recognized the significance of the three groups of three. The pitch and volume of each strike was different but there was a definite pattern to the interval of impacts.

"It's an S.O.S!" Walter exclaimed.

They listened to it repeat three times and then the pattern changed. Cam frowned sharply. "That's not Morse code..." he decided.

"It's a code of some kind," Jack claimed, though actually that was nothing more than a guess.

"I agree it's probably a code of some kind, but at this point we can't be sure of anything," Sam decided. "We're assuming the beginning groupings are an S.O.S., but it may mean something else entirely. If the beginning was Morse code, then why suddenly change to something else?"

"They'd also have to be from Earth," Landry added, "and we don't have any teams unaccounted for at present."

Sam nodded pensively and turned back to the equipment. "I'll try breaking it down by groupings and see if I can figure anything out."

"Let someone else do it," Landry ordered, shaking his head. "You have more important things to be working on."

Reluctantly, Sam nodded. No matter what the answer to the mystery here was, she knew it probably wasn't related to Danny.
* * *

Part 15

"Danny?" Jason asked as the younger boy finally sat back from the fire he'd made and slowly started feeding the fledgling flames some bigger sticks. "What are we going to eat?" He was really getting hungry.

"If we have to, I can rig some snares tomorrow," he answered. "It looks like it's fall here, so we should be able to find some edible berries too, but we have to be careful because some of them might be poisonous."

"My dad said you should never ever eat anything wild unless you are absolutely positive what it is," Jason replied. "And even then, you can get sick."

Danny nodded. "You have to be really careful," he agreed and fed another stick to the fire. "As soon as this fire is strong enough to leave, we'll try dialing the SGC again. If they don't answer by morning, we'll try somewhere else."

"Like where?"

"The Alpha Site," he answered. "I don't think anyone there will recognize my code but we can try sending a note through. If they don't have an iris, they'll get it and come rescue us." He wished he remembered the address for the Omega Site. The Asgard might actually have a way to trace an incoming wormhole.

"And how will you write the note?" Jason wanted to know. "Do you have paper and a pencil?"

"There's blank pieces of paper in the flyleaf of my books and we can use charcoal from the fire," Danny pointed out. It would be messy, he knew, but they could do it.

"And if they do have an iris?"

"Then we'll try somewhere else. We'll get home sooner or later," Danny promised him again. "If worse comes to worst and Ba'al discovers we never made it back, he'll come check on us."

"You should have told him you didn't know if the Alpha Site had an iris or not," Jason accused, scowling at the fire. Fear and hunger were making him irritable but so far Danny had managed to avoid a fight - that really wouldn't help anything!

"Maybe, but I didn't think about it back then. All I wanted to do was get away from him," Danny admitted. As far as he was concerned, the less Ba'al knew about the Alpha Site - and the state of his own fractured memories - the better.

"And now we're stuck here," Jason grumbled and glanced away from the fire back to where the gate and DHD were supposed to be - but all he saw was.... "Danny!" he whispered harshly, lifting his hand to point.

Danny turned to see twin reflected points of light blinking at them from the darkness. A moment later and a squat little - something - inched its way further into the light, its whiskers and ears twitching like crazy.

"Don't move!" Danny whispered.

Jason didn't look like he was planning on it.

The creature - it looked something like a cross between a ferret and a rabbit - rose up on it's hind legs, sniffing the air curiously. Raised up like that, it was about two feet tall. It was actually kind of cute, Danny thought, but even cute could be dangerous. He quickly tossed a rock at it and it disappeared back into the forest.

"Whoa...." Jason breathed, still staring after where it had vanished. "What was that?"

Danny shrugged. "It was a good sign actually," he decided. "I'm pretty sure it was an herbivore. And if it was curious enough to check us out at this time of night that means there's probably not a lot of predators in the area."

"Predators are animals who hunt other animals, right?" Jason asked, just to be sure he remembered right.

Danny nodded. "And herbivores are plant eaters. You can tell by the teeth. Don't worry," he added reassuringly. "The fire will keep most of them away, but it also means I'll probably have pretty good luck catching something to eat in the morning if we have too."

"But we don't have a knife or anything," Jason argued. "Even if you catch something, how will we skin it or gut it? I'm not eating anything raw! Yuck!"

The boy was way too picky for a survival situation, Danny thought, not that eating alien-anything raw was smart - but Jason would really freak if Danny had to try to get him to eat bugs! "We can roast it whole if we have to," Danny answered. "Or we can find some sharp rocks or something." He shrugged again and glanced back out toward where the gate and DHD were. "But I don't plan on being here that long."

Jason followed his gaze into the darkness and edged a little closer to the fire. "It's too dark to dial the gate now."

Although Danny knew the light from the fire had momentarily destroyed his night vision, he still thought Jason might be right. It had gotten awfully dark here, awfully fast. He had to wonder if maybe they hadn't moved into the gas giant's shadow? He hoped not or they could be stuck without sunlight for a very long time. "Maybe the planet we're orbiting has another moon or something that will come up later," he suggested.

"Or we can try making a torch," Jason added, fighting to stay positive.

Danny didn't bother to correct him about the torch. He was just too tired to try and make one out of twisted grasses on a stick or something, and he wasn't going to burn any of their clothes to do it. He just sighed and fed another stick to the growing flames, praying Sam would figure out his message soon.
* * *


Landry glanced up as a certain blond astrophysicist careened around his door jam into his office. She'd obviously been running.

"Sir!" she repeated, excited. "I figured it out!"

Whatever it was, it was clearly big and Landry was already half out of his chair waiting to hear it. "The encryptions?" he guessed. Had she discovered a clue as to where Ba'al had taken the boys in the files the NID had sent them?

"No! The knocking at the gate!" she exclaimed. "It's Danny! It has to be! He's using the same code the aliens of P3R-233 did when they sent their warning to the alternate universe eight years ago!"

"Whoa! Slow down, Colonel." Landry quickly tried to rein her in. He rounded his desk and hurried to her side. As impossible as the idea of two little boys being able to escape from Ba'al was, he knew she wouldn't have made such a statement without being pretty sure about it. "Let's try this again, in terms my tired old brain can understand."

She made a visible effort to calm down and started again. "About eight years ago, Daniel discovered a quantum mirror on P3R-233 and accidentally stepped through to an alternate universe."

Landry was nodding, remembering the file. "The incident that lead to SG-1 going AWOL and then destroying two Goa'uld motherships before they could destroy Earth."

She nodded back, continuing quickly. "Daniel brought back a piece of paper from that alternate universe giving us the address from which the attack would originate. He told me the aliens of 233 had sent out a warning and assigned a series of numbers to their gate symbols. Sir, Danny's using the same code to give us the address to the world where he and Jason are being held! What good is an S.O.S. if we don't know where it's coming from?"

"I thought I told you to let someone else worry about that?" he protested, even as he tried to wrap his mind about what she was saying.

"I tried, sir," she apologized. "It wouldn't leave me alone. Sir--" she tried again, obviously believing what she was saying, "It has to be them!"

Landry still had a dozen questions and more than a few doubts - this seemed like an incredibly big logic jump to him - but time could be of the essence. Nor did they have a better theory to follow up on. SG-8 had just returned with bupkiss after checking out the address the Free Jaffa had provided. Ba'al, or more likely one of his clones, had left the planet weeks ago. "Get your team geared up and ready to go," he ordered quickly, putting his questions on hold. "We'll send a MALP through and, if it's clear, you can check it out."

"Yes, sir," she nodded smartly, calling the rest over her shoulder as she quickly headed back down the hall. "Thank you, sir!"
* * *

Jason had been too upset and scared to go to sleep, though he was doing his best to hide it. It was kind of embarrassing that a five year old was being braver than he was! Then again, that five year old sure seemed to know a lot more about what was going on then he did, so it wasn't like Jason didn't have a reason to be upset or anything!

Still, if Danny said they'd be okay, he was starting to think maybe they would. The younger boy had been able to answer every one of his what-if questions and he knew stuff about survival that Jason's father had tried to teach him when they went camping. Jason wasn't real good about remembering exactly what that stuff was, but he recognized it when Danny talked about it - how they needed to stay together and not go wondering off, and not to put green wood in the fire because it would make smoke; and about how they could use their shirts to collect dew for water in the morning and that he'd teach him how to blaze a trail if they had to go looking for a stream.

If they could rig up a pole and line with a hook of some kind, then Jason could fish and he wouldn't feel so stupid!

He was beginning to think again that Danny was an alien because none of the kids Jason had ever met before were nearly as smart as Danny was - but if he was an alien, he was a good one and Jason was glad they were friends.

A sudden grinding noise from off to his left had his heart racing and terrifying images of giant rock monsters coming out of the ground to eat them up dancing in his head. "Danny!" he shouted.

The other boy had curled up on the other side of the fire and gone to sleep a long time ago - hours and hours, Jason thought, though he wasn't sure. As it was, Jason didn't need to shout because the sound had woken Danny anyway.

"It's the Stargate!" he identified it right away and jumped to his feet. "Come on!"

And then he was off, racing into the night beyond the fire light toward the terrifying sounds. Jason didn't remember the Stargate sounding that loud when Danny had dialed it before and where was the big explosion of water he'd seen? Still, he was more afraid of being left behind alone than he was of whatever was making the sound so he quickly took off after Danny, hoping the other boy was right and they were about to be rescued.

They were about half way there when Danny suddenly stopped and Jason almost plowed into him again. The younger boy grabbed his coat sleeve and pulled him down into the tall grasses. "We gotta wait and make sure it isn't the Goa'uld or Ori first," he warned Jason quickly.

At this point, they were close enough for Jason to see that Danny had been right about it being the Stargate. The weird V things around the edge of it were lighting up the same way they had when Danny dialed it earlier. "What if it is?" he asked, remembering what Danny had said about there being 'bad guys' worse than Ba'al.

"We run and hide," Danny answered. "Shhhh!"

There wasn't time to ask any more questions. The gate suddenly sprang to life like before, with water exploding outward and then being sucked back into the gate. It was even more spectacular in the dark than it had been during the day! Danny reached down and grabbed his hand and Jason knew he wouldn't let go if he decided they needed to take off. Jason swallowed and squatted next to Danny, biting his lip as something started to appear.
* * *

Everyone in the control room stared intently up at the various monitors situated around them. The MALP had obviously exited the gate in the middle of planetary night, but there was something going on in the dark just beyond the reach of the light from the active wormhole. They could definitely see some kind of movement - and it looked like there was a small campfire burning in the distance about a hundred yards away, though it was hard to be sure.

"Zoom in and switch to night vision," Landry ordered as he considered the screens above the main control console. "And turn up the audio." He was sending no one through the gate if they were going to be greeted by a bunch of hostile natives.

The monitors suddenly lit up with the clear image of two little boys, one of them jumping up and down in obvious excitement while the other one looked a little confused. "--saved!" Danny's voice suddenly sounded through the speakers. "I knew Sam would figure it out! I knew it!"

The entire control room burst into a mixture of celebratory hoots and laughter. Even Teal'c, who'd managed to return from Dakara less than an hour ago, was smiling up at the figures on the screen above him. Landry grinned over at Lt. Col. Carter whom he was surprised to see actually blushing a little. And then both Jack and Lt. Col. Mitchell were pounding her on the back.

Landry clapped his hand down on Walter's shoulder in front of him. "Find a phone, Sergeant," he quickly ordered, "and get Col. Dixon back here pronto."

Jack nodded at Sam and Teal'c. "Let's go get our boy back," he told them. The three of them were already geared up and ready to go. Sam and Teal'c immediately turned to join the general as he headed for the stairs down to the gate room.

"Sir?" Mitchell turned to Landry with a touch of desperation as the other three disappeared.

"No," Landry answered before he could again voice his request. "We don't know how they wound up there or who else might be waiting."

Mitchell frowned up at the monitors. "But, sir--"

"--I am not allowing an injured man to go through the gate, Colonel, I don't care whether you think you're fit enough or not!" he answered firmly. Jeesh, the man was worse than a kid denied a favorite treat! "The decision's final!"

Mitchell sighed and visibly slumped. "Yes sir."

Landry shook his head and grinned up at the monitors where Danny was still busy putting on his celebratory dance for them. "Kill the afterburners, flyboy," he declared. "You're not the only one who has to wait to give him a welcome home hug."
* * *

Part 16

Pausing at the foot of the ramp, Jack glanced at the others. Beside him, Sam offered a jaunty smile - maybe thinking of old times or just simply happy they'd found the kids; hard to say. Maybe both. Teal'c was more focused. He may have actually been smiling a minute ago, but now he was all business. Finding the kids was only part of the battle. The Jaffa would not truly relax until this was over.

It had been too long since he did this, Jack thought, mentally tamping down the rush of adrenaline he was feeling. It was hell getting old. He knew his body wasn't up to the constant stresses and demands of a front line unit anymore - but he still missed it. Carter had invited him - bless her heart - but if he hadn't thought he was up to it, he would have refused. Hopefully, they could just pop in and out without anyone being the wiser - but at this point he had to think the whole thing stunk of an ambush. Danny might not be your average 5 year old, but even the adult version would have had difficulty escaping someone like Ba'al with a child in tow.

Pause over, all three of them brought their P-90s to the ready - it still felt weird to see Teal'c carrying one - and hurried up the ramp to bring the boys home.
* * *

Danny finally stopped dancing around and hurried over to where the MALP had made its slow and laborious way down the stone steps. He looked right into the camera and waved. "Hi!" he grinned broadly. "It's safe to come through. Jason and I are here alone."

There was a moment of silence before he was answered. "SG-1 is on it's way, son," Landry's voice assured him. "It's good to see you. Both of you. Are you alright?"

"Who's that?" Jason asked behind him.

"Gen. Landry," Danny answered quickly over his shoulder. "He's in charge of the SGC." He turned back to the camera. "We're fine, General. A little hungry, but Ba'al didn't hurt us."

"Hey, Squirt!" Mitchell's voice sounded through the MALP relay. "I missed ya!"

Danny grinned but before he could respond he was interrupted by the watery sound of SG-1 stepping through the event horizon. Both boys looked up. Jack was first, quickly followed by Sam and Teal'c. Danny wasn't surprised by their battle ready stance and gear - but Jason was.

"Jack!" Danny immediately greeted his old friend. "It's safe. We're here alone."

Jack and the others had already managed a quick visual assessment of the immediate area. The older man then hurried down the steps to where the boys were and squatted down protectively beside them, despite his bad knees. A quick sweep of them both, looking for injuries, and then his gaze swung back outward again, paying particular attention to that distant campfire - which was very unlike a Jaffa encampment....

"Where and how many?" he asked quietly, even as a sweep of his arm directed Sam to the DHD.

"We're alone, Jack," Danny repeated. "Ba'al dropped us off and left us here."

The older man blinked and frowned even as his eyes continued to sweep the area for possible hostiles. "He just left you?" he asked simply.

"I don't think he's had to deal with a lot of kids before." Danny shrugged. "He wants me to give you a message."

The frown became irritated as the older man turned to regard Danny again. He obviously wasn't a happy camper. "He couldn't just call?" he suggested, flippantly.

"Jack, we can ask questions later," Landry's voice interrupted via the MALP.

"Wait!" Danny protested even as Jack opened his mouth to agree. "We have to put out the campfire and get my backpack!" He turned to head that way only to be brought up short as Jack quickly snagged the back of his coat.


"--Jack, we're safe!" he insisted. "We can't risk starting a forest fire here!"

Jack grimaced but forced himself to glance at the distant campfire. He figured it was about a hundred yards from the gate ... and too close to the forest. Leaving it burning was a potential disaster. There could well be natives here Danny didn't know about. "You should have put it out the moment you heard the gate dialing in," he complained.

Danny grimaced. "I didn't have any way to start it again if it wasn't you," he answered.

"If it wasn't us, that would have been the least of your worries."

Danny offered that a sharp double-take. "Oh," he said simply.

"Yeah, 'Oh!'" Jack agreed. He glanced up to find Teal'c at his back.

"I will take care of it, O'Neill," the larger man declared simply.

Jack nodded and watched him turn to lope off into the darkness. He turned back to see Jason leaning close to Danny's ear and pointing at his forehead in apparent worry.

"Oh, no," Danny quickly assured him. "Teal'c's a good guy. He's not like the guards on Ba'al's ship."

Jack decided to interrupt before Danny said too much - 'though, given what had happened, he wasn't sure that was possible. "Jason." He caught the other boy's attention and rested a reassuring hand on his small shoulder. "You doing okay?"

The mop of dark red hair and overly large eyes bobbed up and down. "I wanna go home!" he whined slightly.

Jack offered him a slight smile and squeeze of the shoulder. "That's why we're here."

"Jack," Landry interrupted him via the MALP. "We're going to shut it down from this end. Hurry home. If you're not back in five, I'm sending the marines."

Jack glanced over his shoulder and saw that the campfire had already been extinguished. No yell from Teal'c so he assumed everything was fine. He turned back to the camera and nodded. "Have Lam and her people waiting."

"That goes without saying," Hank answered.

Danny offered a definite grimace and Jason frowned. "Who's 'Lam'?"

"She's the Chief Medical Officer of the SGC," Danny was answering Jason. "She's going to wanna run a bunch of tests on us when we get back. It's not a lot of fun but they've got to do it."

The gate behind them abruptly shut down and they were swallowed by the pitch black night. "Crap," Jack muttered and let the P-90 dangle from his lanyard so he could reach out his other hand to find Danny in the darkness. Jason had immediately tensed up under his left. "Just relax, kids," he told them calmly. "You're eyes will adjust in a minute."

Danny knew there was a light on his P-90 but Jack hated using it out in the open like this. 'Made too good of a target. Strange how he remembered little stuff like that, but still didn't remember the other man getting older. Over by the DHD, Sam had no choice but to switch her own light on so she could see to dial. The gate immediately started to turn in answer.

Jason was more concerned about something else. "I don't like doctors!" he protested plaintively.

"Lam's a special doctor," Jack quickly offered, trying to head-off a panic attack before it started. "She gives you pizza and ice cream after her tests."

Jason offered a disbelieving and mutinous grumble.

"Really!" Jack insisted.

"No she doesn't," Danny corrected him, refusing to lie to the other boy. "But I'll be there and so will your dad."

Mention of his dad was the perfect distraction. "My dad's there? Are you sure?" He turned to Jack, needing adult confirmation.

Jack nodded, though he wasn't sure the boy could see it yet. His own eyes were starting to adjust but it was still damn dark. "He will be. We sent someone to get him as soon as we knew we'd found you." Fortunately the gate sprang open just then and Jack turned to see Teal'c returning with Danny's backpack. "Finally!" he sighed and stood once again, ignoring the popping of his right knee, "time to head home, campers. Safety first. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Be sure to hold hands and look both ways before entering the gate. No drinks allowed. Mind your P's and Q's, dot those T's, and cross your eyes!"

As he spoke, both Sam and Teal'c moved to join them. Together they formed a line: Teal'c, Daniel, Jack, Jason, and Sam - all holding hands. And together they moved as one to ascend the steps to the gate.

"Children who do not cross their eyes will be subjected to Jaffa tickle torture."

Lifting the boys from their feet, the three teammates stepped into the event horizon.
* * *

Cam might have been denied the right to go through the gate to rescue his miniaturized team mate, but there was no reason why he couldn't be in the gate room to welcome him home. Was it really possible that Ba'al had just taken them for a little joy ride half-way across the galaxy and then dropped them off to find their own way home?

More like he'd dumped them intending to hold their location hostage for something he wanted. 'Probably didn't think Danny could figure a way home. Even that didn't make a lot of sense though unless he'd sent guards to care for them - in which case Danny and Jason definitely weren't alone....

Cam kept his fingers crossed as he gazed up at the gate and prayed there wasn't some nasty surprise just waiting to spring into action the moment SG-1 and Jack O'Neill dialed in.

And now the inner ring was starting to spin again. Of course with his luck, it was probably one of their allies or some other off-world team!

The blast doors to his right rumbled open as Lam and her med team quickly swept in.

And then he swung his gaze back to the gate as the initial vortex of energies exploded outward before settling back into the gently rippled surface of a stable wormhole. Come on, come on....

Yes! He finally let himself break into a broad grin as he watched the returning group emerge as one, swinging two little boys by the hands between them.

And then Jason screamed.

Everyone reacted at once. Weapons were automatically brought to bear as Jack and Sam dropped the boy's hands and knelt beside him in concern. Lam and her team rushed up the ramp even as the gate shut down and Landry ordered the gate room sealed. Cam's face went white as he wondered what horror Ba'al might have unleashed on them through the innocent little boy? They shoulda sent a med-team through to check them out first before bringing them home! He remembered reading the files of how both Nirti and Apophis had used children in an effort to destroy Earth. That Ba'al would do the same came as no surprise.

"It's okay, Jason!" Danny was calling, having been swept up in Teal'c's strong arms as the Jaffa hurried him down the ramp, away from his friend's side. "It's okay! We're home now!"

Cam quickly moved to intercept them.

"I want my dad!" he heard Jason start to yell. "Daddy? I want my dad!"

And then Danny was leaning toward Cam and Teal'c was handing him over.

"He's just scared and tired," Danny told him. "I forgot to tell him gate travel isn't the same as beaming." The boy twisted in Cam's arms to offer a worried frown for where Lam and Jack were both trying to calm the other boy down. "Jason!" he called out again. "It's okay! We're home!"

It didn't help.

"No shots!" Jason was suddenly in full panic mode as Jack fought to hold him still and Lam pulled out a syringe. "I don't want a shot! Daddy!!!"

Danny turned back to Cam, frightened for the other boy's sake. "He's just scared and tired!" he protested again.

"He'll be okay," Cam quickly assured him, holding him tight and praying he was right as they watched the general and med-team wrestle with the other boy. "Lam won't hurt him. You know that."

And then Jason was slumping in the other man's arms and a burly nurse was bending to help transfer him to the gurney that had appeared at the end of the ramp.

"You can back off with the gun action and unseal the gate room now," Lam quickly called out.

"Are you sure, doctor?" Landry's voice demanded from the control room where he'd watched the unfolding drama.

She frowned over her shoulder at her father. "I won't be sure of anything until I clear both of them," she answered, "but I'm pretty sure he was just scared. Seeing as he didn't appear to be in pain and nothing has exploded yet...."

Landry hesitated, the memory of the Ori plague they'd battled only a few months ago far too fresh in his mind.

"I can't very well check them out here!" Lam complained with a roll of her eyes.

Landry turned in the control room to issue a set of orders they couldn't hear before bending forward to activate the gate room speakers again. "We're clearing the halls to Iso. 3," he told her. "I want full decontamination procedures and a clean report before I let either of them go - and the decon goes for everyone in the gate room!" he added firmly. "I'm not taking any chances here doctor."

Lam just rolled her eyes. "Fine!" she agreed, deciding it wasn't worth an argument, and turned to hurry toward Cam and Danny.

Danny shrank back in Cam's arms.

"You don't need to sedate me!" he quickly promised her. "I'm behaving and feel fine!"

"Good," she agreed, quickly giving him a visual once over. "Let's keep it that way. You were kidnapped by Ba'al, right?"

"Yes...." Danny answered unhappily, all too aware of what that meant where she was concerned. He wrapped an arm around Cam and snuggled his head into the crook of his neck, not wanting to be transferred to a gurney even if he didn't see another one around just yet. Cam reached up with his bad arm and gave him a reassuring hug.
* * *

Part 17

His pillow felt weird and it 'crinkled' when he turned his head.

Jason did not want to wake up. It was too early because he was still too tired so it couldn't be time to get up yet. All he wanted to do was go back to his dream about starting a camp fire. Robert had said he was too little to play with matches and had laughed at him when he said he didn't need any, but he'd shown him! Even Andy was impressed...

...Danny took a piece of string from Jason's shirt and was tying it around a weird looking thorn to make a hook for a make-shift fishing rod, but Jason was frowning. "That string's not going to be strong enough..."


The forest morphed into his backyard and his dad was calling them in for dinner. His mom was fixing all the fish he and Danny had managed to catch. And they were weird looking fish! He just knew Katie was going to scream, and he and Danny would giggle about it and....


And he was lying down and that didn't make sense because hadn't he just been running around in the backyard? And the pillow crinkled again when he turned his head so it couldn't be his pillow. He must be back on the space ship with Danny, and Baal must've done something to him. He forced his eyes open to find out who was holding his hand, hoping it wasn't Baal, and was surprised to see his father. "Dad?"

It was the lines around his father's dark blue eyes that crinkled now as he smiled at his son. "Hey, monkey-butt."

Jason glanced around in confusion even as the missing pieces of his memory quickly fit themselves back into place. He was in a weird kind of hospital room with all kinds of medical equipment and gray cement walls and high ceilings and Danny was laying on another bed not far away with someone sitting beside him and a nurse was moving between the beds and there was a big window off to one side where a white-coated doctor was sitting and watching them.... "Dad?" He grabbed his father's hand tighter.

He'd walked into the wall of water with Danny and his friends and suddenly everything had felt so weird and was moving too fast and it wasn't like the flash of light that took them to and from Baal's ship. It had been scary and cold and then there'd been all those soldiers and they'd pointed their guns at him....

"Hey, hey - it's okay!" his father quickly reassured him, shifting in his wheelchair beside the bed so he could brush Jason's floppy red bangs back across his forehead. "Everything's okay. I'm here. You're going to be fine."

"The doctor woman gave me a needle and I didn't want it and everyone was pointing their guns at me and--"

"--Shhhhh!" A large callused hand smoothed over his forehead once more, soothing him. "It's okay. It's over. You're safe now."

"There was this guy called Baal - only that's with two a's and one ell and not one a and two ell's like 'ball,' even if it's pronounced that way - and he kidnapped me and Danny and I told Danny you wouldn't believe me if I told you we were on a space ship. I didn't believe it at first either but he said you knew the guy and you would and we were on another planet and there was this really big moon, only Danny said it wasn't a moon, it was a planet, and we were the ones on the moon and there might be others but we didn't see them, and--"

"--Shhhh...." Dave Dixon again tried to calm his son who was talking so fast it was nearly impossible to understand him.

"And you do believe me don't you, Dad? 'Cause those people came through the gate and got me and Danny from that other planet and it was scary when that Baal guy just flew off in his space ship like that and left us all alone--"

His dad was nodding but he didn't look happy and was frowning. "--Did he hurt you?" he interrupted his son.

Jason shook his head, afraid for a second his dad was mad at him. "They took Danny and locked the door and then Danny came back and told me we were on a space ship and I didn't believe him at first even though the bad guy's eyes glowed and his voice got all deep and weird-like. Do you really know him, Dad? Danny said he's an alien with a snake inside him that makes him do things he doesn't want to do."

Jason's father glanced over at the other bed where Danny was still sleeping and exchanged a look with Danny's da-- no. Foster-dad or something. Jason knew Danny's dad was missing in Iraq and the other guy was taking care of him and he called him his uncle but he really wasn't.

He tugged on his father's hand, afraid he was going to get in trouble for lying; only he wasn't lying! "You gotta believe me, Dad! It's true! I swear it!"

Dave quickly turned back to his son and his face immediately softened as he brushed a hand back over his head yet again. "I know," he assured him easily, though he still didn't look happy. "I know. I believe you."

"He was kinda scary, but not at first. At first, he seemed kinda nice except for the fact that he'd kidnapped us and everything, and he said he wanted to help Danny but I don't think he really did. Danny was really scared of him, but he was brave too. You should have seen him! Is Danny an alien, Daddy? Because he's really smart and he taught me how to make a fire without matches and a whole bunch of other stuff and I've never met anyone who's as smart as he is and even if he is an alien I like him and he seems okay. Is that okay, cause I really like him and want to be his friend?"

His father's frown was gone and now he was looking like he couldn't decide whether to be confused or laugh and Jason knew he was talking too fast again and that was probably why but his father didn't put his hand over his mouth to make him stop and that was probably because he was in the weird hospital or something.

"No, Danny is not an alien," Dave assured his son and shot that other guy by Danny's bed another look, "though sometimes I've wondered the same thing myself!"

The other guy offered that a soft chuckle -- and then they were interrupted by a woman's voice that sounded like it was coming from a speaker somewhere.


His dad leaned close and pointed his attention to where the doctor was standing behind the big window and now the general guy who'd rescued them was with her.

"You said they took Danny out of the room and then brought him back," she repeated what he'd already said earlier. "Do you know if they did anything to Danny? Did he tell you?"

Jason shrugged. "Baal said he wanted to help Danny but first he needed Danny's help with something and then he'd let us go."

Danny's uncle - or foster father or whatever he was - frowned sharply. "He wanted Danny to help him with something?"

Jason nodded. "Danny said he did but then we had to wait because Baal said he couldn't drop us off back at Earth or one of our space ships would find him." He suddenly turned back to his dad. "Did you know we have space ships, Dad? I don't think he just meant like the shuttle though 'cause I really don't think those would scare him; I think he meant something bigger like you see on TV or in the movies. I wonder if they've ever filmed a movie on a real space ship and just never told anyone it was real?"

The general leaned forward to talk into the mic that the doctor had been using. "Did this guy Baal have a gold metal ... thingamajig on one of his hands?"

Jason nodded. "Not at first," he explained. "But the last time he came in, before he beamed us down to the planet, he did."

The general winced and glanced away.

"You said Danny seemed scared and brave at the same time," Jason's father prompted him gently. "When they brought him back into the room, was he still scared and brave?"

"He was kinda mad," Jason answered. "They took his coat and backpack and he yelled at them to give it back."

The general leaned forward to interrupt them. "Mitchell," he said simply and nodded at the other bed. Together, they all turned to discover Danny slowly blinking his eyes open and glancing around.
* * *

"Hey, sunshine!" Daniel’s blurry field of vision was suddenly filled with the gently smiling face of Cam Mitchell who reached down and ruffled his hair. He recoiled from the embarrassing gesture but being stuck in the hospital bed meant that there was nowhere for him to retreat. "Glad you decided to join us again," his guardian offered brightly.

Danny blinked overly large and heavily lidded eyes. Damn. The significance of the hair ruffle suddenly hit home. "I'm still little," he stated the obvious.

"Uh, yeah...." Mitchell frowned in confusion.

"I dreamt I was big again and Ba'al was torturing Jack."

Mitchell wasn't the only one to wince at that.


Jason.... He glanced over at the other bed and discovered the boy lying there with his dad at his side. Danny smiled and lifted a weary hand, not surprised to feel the pull of an IV. "Hey," he answered lightly.

"Are you okay?" Jason asked bluntly with a worried frown.

Danny nodded and closed his eyes even as he offered a frown of his own. "I hate being sedated...."

"Yeah...." Mitchell offered sympathetically. "You sorta freaked out on us a bit last night...."

It took him a moment to remember it. Danny knew he'd been through decontamination and post-mission medical checks before. He knew they were required anytime anyone returned from off-world. He knew these things the same way he knew how to read Ancient or speak Goa'uld.

But he didn't remember them.

The decontamination procedures weren't so bad. He just had to take a shower with special soap and get new clothes. The warm water had relaxed him and made him really, really tired, but it was the MRI that threw him for a loop. He hadn't remembered it at all. It was big and noisy and like being put in a white coffin with a giant on the outside pounding on it to get in! He'd been through too much and was too stressed and too hungry ... and he'd lost it. It all just came piling in on him at once - and once he'd started crying, he couldn't stop.

"Sorry," he offered simply, glancing away in embarrassment.

"Feeling better?" Mitchell asked, ignoring the nurse who was busy noting various readings on the equipment around him.

Danny just nodded.

"Feel like answering some questions?" Mitchell added gently.

Questions? Oh, yeah.... There'd probably be a lot of those. Frowning because he still felt sleepy and knew it was just the meds being slow to wear off, he lifted a fist to rub at his left eye and forced himself to sit up. Again he nodded.
* * *

"He wants the zombiefication thingamajig," Jack answered with a sigh, leaning back in the chair opposite his old desk - now Hank Landry's desk - and raking both hands back through his thick gray hair. It was time for another cut, he noted with a frown. He'd have to get that done before heading back to the Pentagon - whenever he got around to heading back to the Pentagon. Daniel's kidnapping had delayed his expected departure and he was hoping to delay it quite a bit more if the damn IOA and Joint Chiefs of Staff would approve the use of the new video conferencing system. He'd much rather work out of the mountain, literally on top of everything, rather than act as a simple information interpreter. He could still sort through the stuff for them and help direct things when it all fell apart, but there was no reason someone like Maj. Davis couldn't be the one to give the mucky-mucks in Washington any actual physical briefing that was required - or, given the security of the new system, why he couldn't do it from here!

He really needed to put Paul Davis in for a promotion. The guy was overdue.

"Tel'chak's device?" Landry asked, a little surprised by this announcement.

Jack nodded, lacing his fingers together behind his head and trying to gently stretch tired sore muscles - though he thought the tired and sore part was more from the adrenaline let down after coming back from his first off-world mission in over a year. Or maybe the release of too many hours of stress while Danny and Jason Dixon had been missing....

He sighed again. "'Says he knows how to fix Danny but he needs the device to do it, and us giving him the device is his price."

"Right," Landry groused, less than impressed with the claim or demand. "Like he knows more about it than the Tok'ra or Asgard who have been studying it for a while now."

"Actually, he might," Jack corrected him unhappily and dropped his arms to fold across his chest. "Apparently ol' Anubis might not have gotten his hands on Telechak's little ancient box back a few thousand years ago when they were fighting over it, but he did manage to find all the guy's notes on it."

Landry frowned sharply. "And now Ba'al has them."

Jack nodded.

It was Hank's turn to sigh as he shook his head. "The IOA and Joint Chief's will never go for it," he declared, knowing that Jack had already come to the same conclusion. "We have nothing but his word that he'd even try to help Daniel after we handed it over, let alone that he actually could!"

"Apparently he took some of Danny's blood to 'prove' his theories. He said he'd be 'in touch again' after he did."

"Prove them?" Hank frowned in mixed trepidation and confusion. "How?"

Jack shrugged a shoulder, looking less than happy. "Carter's a bit worried he might try to clone Danny...."

Hank felt as if he'd just been sucker punched. "Oh my god!" he whispered. The blood. It made sense. They knew Ba'al possessed cloning technology - whether it was Earth based or Asgard they weren't sure; regardless, the implications were enormous! "He could make dozens of Daniels! And if he implants one of them with a symbiote--"

"--It would be an empty shell," Jack quickly interrupted the thought. "Carter doesn't think he had Danny long enough to replicate his mind. Ol' Bocce can clone the body, but in order to access Daniel's memories, he would have had to copy them the same way Anubis copied Jonas' mind a few years back. Based on what both Jason and Danny have told us, he wasn't with Ba'al long enough for him to do that - not and manage to wipe the memory of it from his head as well."

Hank frowned pensively. "Well, that's something at least," he allowed and then frowned sharply. "But still--"

"--Still!" Jack agreed simply, giving a grim nod.

"He's gotta know we'd suspect a clone if he showed up with an adult Dr. Jackson in tow," Hank decided. "Even if we did believe him for some ridiculous and unknown reason - all it would prove is that he could 'fix Danny' without using Tel'chak's device."

"...Yeah...." Jack frowned darkly as he considered that little twist for the first time. Ba'al was anything but stupid. Whether he was planning to trick them out of Tel'chak's device or actually thought he could help reverse what was done to Danny, his 'proof' wouldn't be anything they could so obviously question....

"Regardless of whatever his proof might be," Hank continued, interrupting Jack's pensive frown, "you realize what this means for Danny, don't you?"

Jack frowned harder, but this time in confusion.

"It means we're going to have to lock him up down here until either Ba'al shows up again and we can nab him, or Carter and our good alien friends manage to find a fix on their own!" Hank claimed.

Jack's frown became sharply worried.

"He managed to kidnap the kid right out from under your and Mitchell's noses and whisked him half-way across the galaxy. His locator chip didn't do us a single ounce of good."

"He can't stay locked up down here forever!" Jack protested, knowing that was the last thing he wanted to see happen to Danny! "There's no telling when Ba'al will decide to show up again!"

"Not forever," Hank agreed. "Ba'al isn't going to wait that long to show up again. If Tel'chak's device is the key to fixing this, he can't afford to. He's got to know the Asgard and Tok'ra are studying it. If they find the fix before he does - or even just get close! - he's got to know he'll never get his hands on the device. Did he say why he wanted it? We know it isn't just to help Danny."

Jack shook his head. "He didn't say but I'll bet the Tok'ra are right," he nodded, even as he awarded the thought a distasteful grimace. He really didn't think he'd ever be agreeing with the Tok'ra about anything! "He's not that much younger than Lord Yu. I'll bet he wants it to try and perfect the sarcophagus technology."

"You think he's going senile?" Hank questioned in surprise.

"Probably not for a couple thousand years yet," Jack answer, wishing he could say 'yes!' - 'course a senile Ba'al was a rather scary thought too.... "But he's got to be worried about it. Lord Yu made it quite clear that the Goa'uld are not as immortal as they like to pretend they are."

"They'd come damn close to it if Ba'al could perfect the sarcophagus." Hank nodded. "Or he would anyway, especially with all those damn clones of his running around."

"Still...." Jack sighed, leaning his head back as he became aware of a growing headache, "I'd be tempted to give him the stupid thing if I actually thought he could fix the kid."

Hank offered Jack O'Neill a sudden double-take. "You're joking...."

"Nope," he responded deadpan, completely serious. "Let the Tok'ra and Asgard hunt him down if they want it back. The Ori are a hell of a bigger threat than any two or three dozen Ba'al's running around loose, I don't care if he has a better sarcophagus or not! I'd be happy to gift wrap the damn thing if I actually thought for one moment it would get us Danny back to his old self again."

"Danny isn't the one and only key to defeating the Ori," Hank corrected him, "and you know it."

"Nope," Jack agreed, "but he is key. The Ori didn't do this just for the heck of it, Hank. They targeted Daniel for a reason. We need him. And I have a feeling, we may need him soon."
* * *

Part 18

Dave Dixon had been in many situations during his military career which could best be described as 'ass clinchers': having to eject when his plane flamed-out during take-off only to have the wind catch his chute and send him back toward the burning wreckage was one; only learning that his very inebriated date for an Officer's Ball several years ago was actually a general's daughter after he returned her (safe and untouched) to her home was another; and, of course, fighting to hold his position on P3X-666 while being strafed by gliders, bombed by Alkesh and fending off a battalion of Jaffa as they waited for reinforcements to help rescue Senior Airman Wells was another - but none of it compared to the pucker factor he was currently feeling at the thought of telling his wife just exactly what it was he actually did everyday when she thought he was stuck deep inside a mountain busy overseeing security for a bunch of eggheads working on 'deep space telemetry.'

Or, worse, just exactly what had happened to Jason.

Given the circumstances - and the fact that Dave couldn't be there as often as needed to help remind his six year old son to keep his mouth shut about everything - the-powers-that-be had decided to read her in. Not surprising really, but it had taken them an unfortunate length of time to reach that conclusion - and even longer to go back through her security vetting to make sure they wanted to do it.

That length of time had her spitting mad!

The kids had been kidnapped around 1030 hours Sunday and rescued oh-dark Monday morning. It was now Tuesday morning. It was one thing to be told that your six year old son had been kidnapped along with another little boy up the street by his madman brother - it was another entirely to be told he'd been found safe and sound but that you couldn't see him because said madman had been working with classified materials!

The elevator on level eleven arrived and Dave suddenly sat straighter in his wheelchair. Kate Dixon had a temper to match the fiery color of her hair and he really didn't want it directed his way! Unfortunately, he was on his own here. Jack and Cam were both tied up with Landry in a meeting with the IOA and were unavailable to offer him much needed back-up.

The doors swung open to reveal the petite red head and her security escort. "Where is he?" she demanded without preamble as she stepped out of the lift.

Oh, joy!

"Hi, honey," Dave offered lamely. "Good to see you too."
* * *

"I don't think any of you are grasping the full picture here, gentlemen," Richard Woolsey decided unhappily.

"Oh, we see the big picture, Woolsey," Jack answered with a transitory smile that never quite reached his eyes as he played with a pencil and apparently resisted the urge to snap it in two. His fidgeting was getting on Richard's nerves. "It's you who can't seem to see the trees for the forest." He leaned back and folded his arms quite pleased with his own analogy.

At least the damn pencil twirling had stopped!

Did he mean 'forest for the trees?" Unfortunately, it didn't really work in the reverse. Richard didn't get whatever it was he was trying to allude to in any case and, frankly, didn't want to. He simply ignored it - and everyone else at the conference room table - as he leaned forward to pin his full angry glare on one Jack O'Neill, refusing to let the two star general intimidate him.

Intimidation was his job!

"We are dealing with a six year old here, Gen. O'Neill," he stated clearly. "A six year old who now possesses a rather frightening amount of information regarding a highly classified government project. Unfortunately, it would be a little difficult at this point to ask him to sign a non-disclosure agreement, let alone expect the courts of the United States to uphold it! Dr. Jackson, however, is another story entirely! What was he thinking when he told the boy about the Goa'uld; when he decided to convince Jason Dixon he was on a space ship rather than trapped in a far more terrestrial setting as he obviously believed? Dr. Jackson went out of his way to break the non-disclosure agreement he signed as an adult! And, although we cannot take him before any normal court to hold him accountable for his actions, the terms of that agreement are still binding. He is guilty of treason and therefore subject--"

"--You've got to be kidding me?--"

"--Oh, for cryin' out loud!--"

"--Treason? Are you crazy!--"

Woolsey carefully focused his attention on each man at the large table in turn. "You were the ones who argued he should be allowed to stay on at Stargate Command!" he pointed out with a glacial glare. "And that he should retain his full powers and privileges as head of the Linguistics and Archaeological Research Departments. You wanted him treated as an adult less than two weeks ago, but don't want him treated as one now. You can't have it both ways, gentlemen."

"This is ridiculous!" Mitchell sighed in exasperation as he tossed his arms in the air and then sat back in his chair, shaking his head in disbelief.

"You expect us to lock a five year old up for treason and throw away the key?" Landry asked incredulously.

"No," Woolsey answered curtly, surprising them - but his glare did not thaw one degree. "I expect you to realize you have had a very serious security breech here. The IOA expects you to take tangible concrete steps to assure that the security of this base is properly safe guarded. A simple slap on the wrist or just telling the two little darlings they can't talk about it isn't going to be sufficient."

"Bullshit!" Jack slapped the table with both hands and leaned forward to offer the pencil pushing bureaucrat an arctic glare that made his own seem tropical by comparison. "You're trying to paint Daniel as an irresponsible child - but it won't work. He merely revealed what information he felt pertinent to safe-guard both his and Jason's lives. Lying to the boy about their situation - or allowing him to maintain a false impression of their situation - was potentially deadly."

"A charge of treason requires a willful and knowing endangerment of the security of the United States," Hank Landry interjected forcefully. "Dr. Jackson's primary concern was to protect both himself and Jason Dixon by informing him of the true nature of the danger they were in. To expect him to conceive and perpetrate a cover story under such conditions is absolutely ludicrous!"

"Jason's illusions would have been shattered in any case when they were beamed down and he realized they weren't on Earth," Jack added. "They were on a moon orbiting a planet the size of Jupiter - which was clearly visible when they arrived; how long do you think it would have taken him to figure it out?"

"You're missing my point gentlemen."

"No, Mr. Woolsey," Gen. Landry interrupted the man with an angry glare of his own. "I'm afraid, you're missing ours. What's done is done. Jason Dixon now knows about the Goa'uld and Stargate and that can't be undone. Dr. Jackson acted as he did in good faith and I will not have him punished for it. Neither of them is getting locked up for eternity just because a bunch of overly-paranoid bureaucrats say so! Even if they were to both leave here this instant and go straight to the nearest media outlet to shout their knowledge across the airwaves - do you honestly think anyone would believe them?" He leaned forward and asked quite seriously, "Are you really that much of an idiot?"

"The point, gentlemen, is not how old Dr. Jackson or Jason Dixon are, or who might or might not believe them if they were to talk - the point is the IOA is requiring a concrete plan of action to deal with the situation. Now, you can either send me back to them with absolutely nothing - in which case I assure you they are ready to play hardball, including yanking both children out of your control--"

"--Over my dead body!" Cam growled dangerously.

"--or you can give me something to mollify them and assure them you are taking this situation seriously."

"Of course we're taking it seriously, you paper-pushing twit!" Jack exclaimed, too fed up by the whole situation to care about the consequences of anything he might say. "They were kidnapped right out from under our noses! You really think we're going to shrug that off and just hope it never happens again?!"

"Prove it," Woolsey challenged him bluntly.
* * *

"We're supposed to be meeting your mom and dad for lunch as soon as she's finished filling out all the required forms and your father has a chance to fully brief her on the situation," Sam explained to the boy holding her left hand as they approached the elevator. Daniel was holding her right. She dropped it only long enough to signal the lift. It opened immediately and they stepped in. Turning, she pressed the floor she wanted as she finished answering Jason, "Then you get to go home."

"What about Danny?" Jason asked, frowning at his friend. He'd overheard some of the discussion between the other boy and his guardian about having to move back on base 'for a while.' Danny had not been happy. "When does he get to go home?"

"Not for a while, I'm afraid," she answered, not particularly happy about it either. "Not until we're sure Ba'al won't come back and try to steal him from us again."

"But tomorrow's Halloween!" Jason protested. "I know he doesn't want to go Trick or Treating, but Dad said we could invite him and Lt. Col. Mitchell over afterward for pizza and a movie. He still hasn't seen 'Shrek,' you know!"

Sam fought to keep her smile contained and not laugh out-right at the boy's clearly plaintive tone. "I know," she offered seriously, although in point of fact she hadn't, "but he can't right now. You know that Ba'al taking you was an accident, right?"

Jason nodded.

"So there's no reason for him to want to take you again. You don't know anything he might want. But he took Danny on purpose and we're afraid he might do it again. You don't want that to happen, do you?"

Jason frowned and shook his head.

"Of course not," Sam interpreted. She glanced up as the elevator stopped, knowing that at least Daniel would have noticed she'd pushed the button for level 19, and not 22 where the Mess Hall was. "I just need to stop by Dr. Lee's lab for a second and check on an experiment he's been running. We've been trying to interface our computers with a device we found under--" She decided to censor herself at the last moment. "--we found and he finally got a positive result on one of the verification scans, but he's not sure what it means." She seriously doubted Jason had understood even half of what she'd just said and glanced down at Danny. He would have, 'though he probably didn't know what device she was talking about. "There's even a chance it might help with your 'little' problem." She smiled and gave his hand a squeeze.

"What is Danny's problem?" Jason suddenly wanted to know. "That Ba'al guy said he wanted to help Danny with it, but he never said what it was. Are you okay, Danny? You're not dying of cancer or anything like that, are you?"

"No!" Danny and Sam both answered in unison.

Why was it little boys always came up with the worst and most gruesome scenarios in situations like this, Sam wondered? Her nephew, Alex, as exactly the same way! "Danny is not dying of cancer or anything else," she promised clearly. Danny's answer was simply a very expressive roll of his eyes even as both boys were forced to trot along beside her as they headed down the hall. She dropped both their hands as they came to a stop before Dr. Lee's door and she reached into her pocket to pull out her security card. "Now I want both of you to stay here and--"

Ah, crap.

She didn't have a lot of experience with kids - and Danny wasn't really a kid - but even she wasn't naive enough to expect a five and six year old boy to stay in one place for more than thirty seconds! Jason looked like he was already bored before she could even get the words out and Danny was obviously not going to want to play babysitter to the older boy. She really should have put off the stop until after Jason's mother had taken him home, but she was anxious to see if the device they'd discovered under Glastonbury, where they'd also discovered the Ancient communications device that had sent Daniel and Vala to the Ori galaxy six months ago, was actually a mini-Ancient database like she thought. If it was, then it was even possible it might hold the key to helping them figure out how to reverse Daniel's present condition.

The stop inside shouldn't take more than a minute. All she had to do was look at the latest test results, leave Bill a quick note telling him what she thought they might mean and what she thought he should do next. The kids could manage to stand still at least that long, couldn't they?

Not unless she kept her eye on them.

"Okay," she sighed reluctantly, knowing that leaving them unattended in the hall was out. Jack and Cam would have her head if the kids suddenly disappeared on her - and she didn't want to even think about what Kate Dixon's reaction would be! She offered the thought a small shudder. "But keep your hands in your pockets at all times and don't touch anything!" She frowned at them both until four little hands went into jean pockets and seated themselves there. "Now this should only take a minute, but I don't know what else Bill might be working on in here; some of it could be dangerous, so I really mean it: no touching! Understood?"

Damn, she thought, hesitating to swipe her card even as she received two earnest nods from the little boys. Did she really want to do this? Unfortunately, she didn't have a lot of choice. There was some serious scuttlebutt flying around about wanting to send the device off to Area 51 if they didn't find something out about it real fast....

One minute, she promised herself. What could go wrong in one minute? She swiped her card and the lab door slid open.
* * *

Part 19

Jason glanced around in curiosity as he followed Danny and Col. Carter into the secret lab. A secret lab in a secret base doing secret work on secret stuff.... It was cool to be in on it - even if only a little bit. It wasn't cool that he couldn't tell anyone about it; but then, he reasoned, it wouldn't be secret anymore if he told, so not telling anyone was ultra important - which was why his dad hadn't been able to tell them about it at all. Mom was going to be pissed when he told her the truth....

Jason knew he shouldn't say 'pissed.' 'Pissed' was a bad word. But he hadn't said it; he'd just thought it, so as long as he didn't say it no one would know. It was kind of a weird way to say someone was mad anyway. Pissed meant having gone pee, right? How could it mean being angry too?

The lab was boring. It looked like everywhere else he'd seen in this place - all gray walls and florescent lighting, walls of machines with blinky lights and big gray desks and computers ... not a whole lot else. He'd been hoping they'd see some alien machines or animals or something, but the room was pretty empty. There were a couple of laptops and some other stuff on the two tables, and one of the laptops was hooked up to a weird gray box thingie. That must be what Col. Carter said they were testing, but it wasn't very interesting. It looked kinda old but not very alien.

"Weird," he decided out loud. "We've been studying different kinds of cultures and stuff in school and that kinda reminds me of a picture of a Mayan pyramid." He turned to Danny. "Were they aliens too?"

"One of their gods was a Goa'uld," he answered simply.

"Danny!" Col. Carter protested.


She sighed and shook her head.

"I already told him all about the Goa'uld, Sam," Danny answered her look. "He knows they impersonated various gods and kidnapped humans from Earth to use as slaves throughout the galaxy. Why shouldn't I tell him Chak was one? Jason's not going to tell anyone and no one would care if he did." He turned back to the other boy. "That was very smart by the way. You're right, it does look Mayan; but it's a lot older than that. The symbols on it are in a language we call 'Ancient' - they're another alien race that died out a long time ago. Well, they didn't really die out, they--"

"--Danny!" Carter interrupted more firmly, turning from the laptop yet again.

"Right!" He slapped his forehead dramatically. "I haven't told him about the Ancients. He doesn't need to know that." He turned to Jason and shrugged. "Sorry."

"How come you get to know so much about all this stuff?" Jason asked, not angry or anything - though it didn't seem all that fair to him - but more confused than anything. He knew what top secret meant and he knew kids weren't supposed to know that sort of stuff, so why did Danny?

"Danny's dad used to work here," Col. Carter answered quickly, turning her attention back to the note she was trying to write for Dr. Lee.

"My dad works here too," Jason pointed out, "and he never told us anything." He turned back to Danny with a frown. "I thought your dad flew jets in Iraq? Do you mean he's not lost there but on another world instead or maybe captured by the Goa'uld or something and you just can't tell anyone?"

Col. Carter suddenly looked up from her note and glanced at Danny. Danny bit his lip. Obviously Jason had caught them in a lie - so he must be right. Poor Danny. Having your father be MIA in another country was scary enough; Jason couldn't imagine how scary it must be to not even know what planet he was on!

And then he realized that his own father went to other planets on a regular basis....

"Oh, look!" Col. Carter suddenly exclaimed, changing the subject and pointing at her computer screen. "This is interesting!"

Jason glanced at the screen and frowned in further confusion. There was a weird graph and stuff on the screen that was kinda moving around, but his video games had better graphics than that.

"I'm reading an EM output that keeps fluctuating between high and low frequencies...."

"Are you just trying to distract me so I stop asking questions?" he accused her.

"No!" she answered, then winced and glanced at him. "Okay, maybe," she admitted, turning back to the laptop and typing something in. "But this really is interesting. It means the device we've been studying is interactive."

"Sam...." Danny offered with a warning note of his own.

Jason grinned. Now she was doing it - telling him stuff she wasn't supposed to!

"Yeah?" she asked distractedly, completely missing Danny's message.

Danny sighed. "I think we need to go meet Jason's mom now," he reminded her.

She nodded, still concentrating on the laptop. "Just give me a second to try and stabilize this reading and we'll go...."

Danny rolled his eyes and turned to Jason. "She does this all the time," he claimed with a shake of his head.

Then all of a sudden, there was a blinding flash of light and Jason was grabbing for Danny's arm. They'd told him that Ba'al couldn't get him or Danny while they were on the base! They had some sort of jamming technology that was supposed to make it impossible - but apparently Ba'al had figured out a way around it, 'cause--

The light died as quickly as it rose and Jason blinked his eyes open, expecting to see the inside of Ba'al's space ship again - but instead all he saw was the lab. He and Danny looked at each other, then looked at Col. Carter who was busy blinking at them too and frowning.

"We didn't do it!" Jason claimed quickly, afraid he and Danny were about to get in trouble. He should have left his hands in his pockets rather than grab at Danny, but he'd been scared and-- "Neither of us touched anything. Honest!"
* * *

Sam fought to blink away the last of the bright afterimages that were dancing in her field of vision thanks to that flash and quickly reassured the frightened Jason. "It's okay," she told him - thankful that it was. Strange; stabilizing the output frequency shouldn't have produced any kind of effect like that! She turned back to the laptop and noticed that the device they'd been studying suddenly had an orange holographic screen projecting above it. Okay.... "I think I did that...." she allowed.

"Danny and I aren't in trouble?" the boy specified.

"No, you're not in trouble," she agreed and fought to swallow a smirk - then tossed them a concerned glance. "Are you okay?" She was going to be so dead if either he or Danny manifested any side effect to that strange flash of light.

Jason and Danny glanced at each other and then nodded in unison.

"What is it?" Jason asked, turning back to the device and suddenly finding something interesting in the lab.

The symbols were in Ancient. She glanced at Danny who was frowning up at it. "Can you read it?" she asked.

He offered an uncertain wince. "A little, but it's an older dialect," he decided. "I can probably figure it out, but I'm going to need some of the books in my office."

"'Your' office?" Jason repeated.

"His dad's office," Sam hastily corrected Danny. "He used to come here all the time with him, so it's like it's his office too, you know?" She pasted a smile in place and prayed the boy would accept that - only she knew he wouldn't. Jason frowned up at her in a mixture of confusion and disbelief. He was way too smart not to start to put two and two together here.

Definitely not good, she decided. She needed to get him over to the Mess Hall and his mother.

"Just let me finish this note for Bill--" She reached to pick up her pen again only to have her hand pass right through it - and the table beneath!

Oh, no....

"Bill!" Danny suddenly piped up behind her. Sam turned to see the scientist in question entering the lab, carrying a tray with two cups of coffee and a parfait dish of blue Jello. "Sam was just looking for you."

Bill did not look up as he quickly made his way to the nearest laptop and set the tray down. He removed the bowl of Jello and one of the coffee cups and turned to where Sam stood beside the other laptop - but gave no sign he saw her. With a frown, he noted the half-finished note and moved forward to set the coffee and Jello aside so he could pick it up at the same time Danny moved to intercept him. "Bill?"

Sam knew exactly what was going to happen. "Danny! Look--"

Bill walked right through him.

"--out...." She winced.

"Whoa!" Jason exclaimed in surprise even as Danny shuddered and spun around to face the man who was now behind him. Jason immediately reached out to tap Danny's shoulder, seeing if his hand would pass through him too - only to discover he was solid. Danny frowned and tapped him back. Jason grinned and tapped him again, a little harder - and suddenly the two boys were in a playful shoving match!

"Hey! Hey! Hey!" Sam quickly stepped forward to intervene, grabbing an arm of each and pulling them apart before one of them could manage to hurt the other. What was it with boys and wrestling? "Enough of that!"

They went limp in her grasp and rolled their eyes. Yeah, well, they might not have intended to hurt each other but that didn't keep accidents from happening. She gave them each a warning glare and then turned her attention back to the problem at hand.

Bill had picked up the note and was scratching his head. "'Variable EM output indicates interactivity. Recommend--'" He lowered the note and glanced around in confusion before frowning down at the laptop connected to the device. "What variable output?" he asked.

Sam followed his gaze to where the reading from the device now displayed a constant and steady energy reading.

"Hey! Dr. Lee?" Jason called and even tried jumping up and down. "Are you Dr. Lee? Woo-whoo! Hello?"

"Not again...." Danny sighed, closing his eyes and frowning up at heaven.

"He can't hear you, Jason," Sam stated the obvious for the other little boy. "And he can't see you either."

"Why not?" Jason asked even as he noted the other man about to leave and purposely moved to stand in his way.

"Jason! Don't--"

Too late. Bill walked right though him too.

"Oh, wow!" Jason exclaimed, offering the experience a weird little shimmy as he recovered. "Did you see that? That felt weird! What happened?"

"He walked through you," Danny answered simply.

"We're out of phase," Sam explained and sighed as she frowned at the device. "By initiating it, I must have triggered some sort of localized effect."

"Local meaning us," Danny translated.

Jason had marched over to one of the tables and now tried to slap it, only to have his hand pass right through. "Cool!"

"No," Danny corrected him. "Not cool. I've had this happen to me before and it's not cool at all."

"Why not?"

Sam ignored the question. "We need to find a way to reverse--" Her hands passed through the keyboard of her laptop without effect. She hadn't been thinking before attempting to reverse the algorithm that got them in this fix. She sighed, realizing she couldn't even hit the desk top beside it in frustration!

"We're stuck like this," Danny answered. "No one can see or hear us and we can't touch anything, so no drinking or eating - 'though we probably won't need to."

Sam blinked in surprise. "Why not?"

He shrugged. "I didn't need to last time."

"So how did you get unstuck last time?" Jason asked. "I still say this is kinda cool. It's almost like we're ghosts or something!"

Danny looked to Sam. "I don't remember."

"You got your grandfather Nick to-- That's it!" she exclaimed.

"What?" both boys asked in surprise.

"You're grandfather Nick was able to help you communicate with us because he'd been through a similar experience several years before."

"When he discovered the crystal skull in Belize!" Danny remembered.

"I thought you didn't have any other family?" Jason noted, confused.

"I don't," Danny answered. "Nick went to live with the aliens who helped me get unstuck."


"He didn't like being called 'grandpa.'"

"Oh." Jason blinked. "So he's not on Earth?"

"No," Sam answered for Danny, "but we have someone here who might be just as good for our needs."

"Who?" they asked in unison.

"Gen. O'Neill," Sam answered with a grin.

"Did he go 'out of phase' before too?" Jason asked even as Danny offered the idea a frown.

Sam nodded. "It was an accident very similar to this one," she claimed, excited by the realization. "We were trying to remove a cloaking generator from a Goa'uld--" She decided to censor herself at the last moment. "Never mind. Just ... something similar happened to him; and because Nick was able to see Daniel; well then, I'm thinking Jack will be able to see us!"

Danny was still frowning, clearly skeptical - but Sam refused to let him dissuade her. It wasn't like they had anything to lose! "Come on," she told the boys, taking them by the hands - it was a good thing they could at least touch each other, she thought. "Let's go find him!"

The three of them gave the closed lab door only a momentary hesitation, then - grinning - they walked right through it and went in search of the one person Sam hoped might be able to help them.
* * *

Part 20

Landry stuck his head in the Locker Room door before entering. "Mitchell!" he greeted the other man with his typical exuberance, spotting his target. "Just the man I was looking for."

Cam and Teal'c exchanged glances. The two of them had just finished a little mid-morning workout in the gym - a safe way to vent the pent up frustration of their earlier meeting with Woolsey. Cam quickly finished blousing his pants one-handed and turned to come to attention as the general approached.

Landry offered the move a grimace and quickly waved it aside. "At ease. Have either of you seen Col. Carter lately?"

"I ... think she was on babysitting-duty with Danny and Jason," Mitchell answered readily, assuming a relaxed parade rest. Landry could be a little mercurial and Cam never really felt completely comfortable relaxing around him. "'Though if you tell any of 'em I said that, I'll deny it," he added with a slight grin. "Sir."

Landry chose to return the grin and Cam allowed himself to relax just a little bit more.

"Find her," the general ordered with a nod and held up a file he was carrying. "I need to speak with all of SG-1 - and Gen. O'Neill - pronto. SG-12 just got back from P8T-474. It looks like we may have a time line for whatever it is the Ori are planning. According to the natives," he tapped the file and tucked it back under his arm, "this 'doomsday' the priors keep talking about may be only days away."

That was not the kind of news Cam wanted to hear. "We'll find her immediately and head to your office ASAP, sir."

Landry nodded. "I'll find Jack," he decided as he turned to leave. "He's probably off somewhere trying to hide from Woolsey. Oh!" He paused at the door and glanced back over his shoulder. "Bring Dr. Jackson with. We're going to need all the help we can get."

Cam nodded pensively as Landry turned away again. 'Definitely not the kind of news he wanted to hear....
* * *

Jason trotted along side Lt. Col. Carter as they hurried down the hall, thinking it a little funny how she tended to pull the two of them aside whenever someone else came along. Then again, it had felt more than weird when Dr. Lee walked through him. It hadn't hurt or anything, but it didn't really tickle either. It had simply felt ... wrong.

Really wrong.

Walking through walls and doors didn't seem to bother him - it kinda felt like walking through a gust of wind - but walking through people felt weird, so he didn't fight her anytime she went to pull him aside.

He glanced up at her now. "You said we were out of phase," he repeated what she'd said earlier - well, he was pretty sure that's what she'd said. "What does that mean?"

"It means we're in an alternate dimension," Danny answered from where he walked rapidly on her other side. "We can see and hear everything around us, but we're no longer a part of that reality."

"Um ... not exactly," Col. Carter corrected him. "We're still a part of this reality; we just can't interact with it the way we're use to. An alternate reality is one in which something is different from our own - for instance, if President Lincoln was never shot or Germany won WWII--"

"--Or the Stargate wasn't discovered," Danny added quickly.

The lieutenant colonel squeezed his hand and gave him a brief smile. "Or the Stargate wasn't discovered," she agreed, "reality would be very different from what we know. In an alternate dimension, however, reality stays the same - we're the ones who've changed."

"Weird," Jason decided. "And that device back in Dr. Lee's lab is what changed us? What happens if we can't get back?"

"We'll get back," Col. Carter insisted even as they hurried along. Then she glanced up and they came to a sudden halt. "General!" she offered, sounding relieved.

Jason glanced up as well to see the older guy who'd come to the planet with Col. Carter and the big black guy to rescue him and Danny rounding the corner ahead. He was in deep conversation with another shorter man with a little darker hair who had stars on his shoulders so Jason figured he must be a general too - though he was dressed nicer than the first who was just in a green uniform like Jason's dad sometimes wore.

"Are we glad to see you, sir," Col. Carter continued quickly.

But neither man looked up at her words. They just kept walking - right through them.

Jason shuddered and dropped Col. Carter's hand to turn around and watch the men retreating. "Hey!!!" he shouted after them - but got no response.

"It's no use, Jason," Carter sighed despondently. "They can't hear you."

"But I thought you said--"

"--We must be in a different dimension from the one Jack was in before," Danny decided, sighing as well.

"An alternate alternate dimension?" Jason asked, confused.

"Something like that," Col. Carter agreed.

"Oh," Jason offered simply as the man they'd been hoping could help them disappeared around another corner. He glanced up at the woman beside him. "What do we do now?"
* * *

Sam was saved from having to answer Jason by the sudden sound of a klaxon blaring forth its warning and the base-wide announcement of, "Unscheduled off-world activation!"

Hastily, she pulled the two boys aside again just as Jack and Gen. Landry reappeared and hurried back the way they'd come, sweeping right past the trio without seeing them. Hesitating for only a moment, she grasped two little hands firmly and quickly followed in the generals' wake. Neither man would likely approve of the action, she knew, but at the moment she didn't know what else to do! She couldn't just leave the two kids somewhere while she tried to figure this out.

Oh, she was going to be in so much trouble when everyone figured out they were missing....

The control room was a scene of calm anxiety - as usual whenever there was an unscheduled off-world activation. Whether it was an SG team returning early or an attempted alien attack, such activity almost never boded well. Sam and the kids followed close behind the two generals, trying to avoid the busy technicians who were quickly and efficiently concentrating on their duties.

"Chief," Landry addressed CMSgt Harriman at the gate controls, drawing to a halt directly behind the seated man. "What've we got?"

"No IDC, sir," the chief gate technician replied, working his controls, "but I am receiving a radio signal."

"Let's hear it," Jack ordered simply.

Everyone in the room frowned as whatever message was being relayed came out horribly garbled.

"What's wrong with it?" Landry wanted to know.

Sam answered automatically. "Sounds like harmonic distortion in the data stream, sir--"

"--Not sure, sir." Harriman shook his head, his words stepping on the end of hers as she grimaced in frustration. It was obvious no one had heard her.

"Can you clean it up?" Landry asked, even as the man worked at adjusting his equipment.

"I can try, sir," he replied.

Suddenly, a rather loud and distinctive 'bang' had everyone glancing through the glass into the gate room.

"What was that?" Jason asked, craning his neck to see past all the shoulders and butts in his way. He frowned in frustration of his own.

"Okay," Jack offered the obvious, "something just hit the iris...."

"Something bigger than a rock." Landry again glanced down at Harriman. "Get the analysis team back in here to run a sweep for any residue - and run whatever other tests you can to determine exactly what that was."

Harriman offered a preoccupied nod. "Sir."

Landry sighed, knowing there would be no immediate answers, then turned away, heading for his office.

"And get Carter down here to help clean up that message!" Jack added before turning to join him.

Sam threw her head back and grimaced, even as she quickly pulled the boys aside again. She was already here - they just didn't know it.
* * *

Part 21

Col. Dixon glanced up from where he was sitting with his wife in the Officer's Mess and frowned as he listened to the announcement over the base PA system. "Attention: Lt. Col. Carter, Dr. Jackson and Jason Dixon, please contact base security immediately," the voice ordered in calm and measured tones. "Repeat: Lt. Col Carter, Dr. Jackson and Jason Dixon, please contact base security immediately."

Kate Dixon frowned sharply as well, feeling her blood run cold. "Dave..?" she asked in sudden concern.

"I'm sure it's nothing," he assured her, reaching across the table to squeeze her hand while he used his other hand to turn the wheelchair aside. "I'll check it out," he promised even as he dropped her hand and hurried to wheel himself to the nearest wall-mounted phone. Not surprisingly, she followed and handed the receiver down to him before he could lever himself out of the chair to get it. "Press 3," he told her.

A few moments later, he was connected to base security. "This is Col. Dixon," he identified himself. "Why was the announcement concerning my son, Col. Carter and Dr. Jackson just placed?"

"Apparently, Col. Mitchell is having difficulty locating them, sir," the operator answered. "Have you seen any of them, sir?"

"No," he answered. "Col. Carter was supposed to escort my son to the Officer's Mess half an hour ago but hasn't shown yet."

"It's possible they were simply delayed somewhere, sir," the man replied reassuringly. "We're still awaiting their response. I'll have an SF contact you as soon as we know where they are."

Dixon nodded subconsciously. "Carry on," he ordered simply and hung up. There was nothing else he could do.

"Well?" his wife asked in obvious concern.

"Cam needs to talk to them about something," he answered obliquely. No reason to worry her just yet. She hadn't met Cam before but Dave had talked about him enough that she knew who he was, both as a fellow officer as well as their new neighbor and Danny's guardian.

"He needs to talk to Jason?" Kate asked in surprise.

"Jason was with Col. Carter." Dave shrugged and turned his chair back to the table they'd been sitting at before. "You remember, she was the one who said that rocket science was easier than learning how to bake at the pot luck last year."

Kate nodded pensively as she followed him. "I know who Sam is," she assured him easily, displaying a familiarity he wasn't aware of. "Are they missing?"

"No," Dave quickly assured her, glancing over his shoulder as he maneuvered his chair back into place. "No, just ... Cam didn't know where they were." True enough: he didn't know why he had this nagging feeling all of a sudden that something was wrong - but he did. And that feeling was rarely wrong.


That SF standing duty by the door had blasted-well better come over here and tell them everything was fine or there were going to be problems. He smiled at his wife and glanced at his watch. Ten minutes, he decided mentally. More than enough time for Sam and the kids to contact Security and Security to contact the nearest SF.
* * *

CMSgt Walter Harriman shook his head in confusion. "I can't make heads or tails of this," he complained, trying yet another algorithm to clean up the signal they'd gotten through the gate.

"That's because the filter coefficient has to be adaptive," Carter told him - or tried to. Neither of the men working on the problem could hear a word she said and she was forced to the simple expedient of trying to will them to understand it. Straightening when neither Walter nor the communication's specialist who was working with him could see the slight variance in the output that was so obvious to her, she threw her hands up in exasperation. "Why do I even try!" she sighed.

"She hates it when she can't fix something," Danny whispered to Jason. The two boys were sitting on the floor off to one side, just trying to avoid having people walk through them.

Danny, and everyone else around him, suddenly paused as an announcement asking him, Sam and Jason to all contact Security came over the base PA system. Sam turned to where they were sitting and winced, apparently realizing she'd pretty much ignored them for the last several minutes. Abandoning her futile attempts to communicate with the technicians, she quickly returned to the boys.

"They're beginning to realize we're missing," she told them as they scrambled to their feet again. Jason was frowning and so she offered him a reassuring smile, probably figuring he was more confused and worried than Danny. "It won't be long before they figure everything out."

But the six year old was more worried about something else. "Who's Dr. Jackson?"

"Uh...." Sam glanced down at Danny and the two of them exchanged startled looks. Neither of them had even noticed the obvious mistake Security - or more likely Mitchell - had made. Danny watched as Sam hastily plastered a smile in place and turned back to Jason. "He's ... a guy who works here," she offered quickly. "I was supposed to meet him after I dropped you off with your mother and father."

But Jason was still frowning, this time at Danny. "Why didn't they ask for Danny to call Security?" he asked suspiciously.

Apparently, Sam decided the best defense was to play stupid. "I don't know." She shrugged and quickly changed the subject. "Why don't we head up to General Landry's office. We'll be able to monitor anything and everything they're doing from up there."

Jason frowned at her again, but this time it was more in confusion. "How?"

"Everyone will have to report to Gen. Landry as to what's going on."

"Not that!" Jason scowled and waved it aside. "How do we get up there? Those two generals used an elevator last time and we just hitched a ride with them. What do we do this time?"

Danny suddenly frowned in thought as well. "Why aren't we falling through the floor?"

Sam blinked and glanced down. Obviously that wasn't something she'd thought of before. Frowning, she stamped her foot and they watched it sink into the cement. She quickly withdrew it and gingerly set it down again. Jason, who'd been watching her, decided to test it too. He suddenly jumped in place, with both feet. He too sank into the floor several inches before Sam and Danny grabbed him and pulled him free.

"Don't do that!" Sam quickly admonished him, obviously frightened by what could have happened - not that Danny thought she was sure what that was.

"Why not?" Jason asked.

"This is the bottom level," Daniel quickly told him. "There's nothing but rock below us."

"You might get stuck," Sam added.

Danny frowned down at the floor. "Why can we touch it and nothing else?" he wondered aloud, distinctly feeling a fairly solid surface beneath his feet.

"I think it has to do with mass," Sam answered.

He glanced up at her in curiosity.

"You know how it feels whenever we walk through something; like a door or wall...."

Both boys nodded.

"It doesn't always feel the same, does it."

Again they nodded. "The thicker and bigger something is, the harder it is to pass through!" Danny suddenly realized.

Sam nodded. "Exactly. I think that's why we can walk around without falling through the floor. There's obviously some sort of overlap between the two dimensions. If there wasn't, we wouldn't be able to see or hear anything either. We probably wouldn't even know we were out of phase because it would be like we were somewhere else entirely."

"What about the elevators?" Jason asked. "Their not big and thick. Why can we ride those?"

Danny blinked, impressed the other boy had noted that.

"Despite their relative size, they do have a lot of mass," Sam answered. "Metal is much denser than concrete. Whereas it might take a foot or more of concrete to support us, it might only take a few inches of steel."

"Then we probably can't take the stairs," Danny decided, gesturing back to where the staircase behind them wound up to the level above and Gen. Landry's office.

Sam shrugged. "Give it a try," she suggested.

Danny walked over to the stairs and tried to grab the railing first, only to have his hand pass right through. Then he tried to step on the metal grid-work of the first tread. Once again, his foot barely encountered any resistance and passed through back to the floor.

"Not enough mass to provide sufficient resistance." She nodded, satisfied with the apparent evidence supporting her hypothesis.

"So how do we get up stairs?" Jason asked again, pointing upward.

Sam smiled. "We hitch another ride."
* * *

"What do you mean they're 'missing!'" Jack was instantly on his feet.

Mitchell found himself taking a small step back and even Teal'c, beside him, straightened in concern. The lieutenant colonel swallowed around a tight throat and forced himself to glance down to where Landry had remained seated behind his desk. His expression was no more welcoming. "We've checked everywhere we can think of, sir," he assured them, "and they're not responding to any attempt to contact them."

"Did you call up top to make sure they hadn't signed out?" Jack frowned irritably. If Carter had taken the boys off-base without letting anyone know ... but there was no way she would do that without some sort of serious compulsion or duress.

"Yes, sir," Mitchell answered readily. "The guards haven't seen them, and I'm also told Carter's car is still here."

Which didn't mean a lot, Jack knew. If Sam needed to get the kids off-base without signing out - she could - but there had to be a reason. More likely, the three of them were stuck somewhere or, hopefully, tied up watching some 'fascinating' gizmo or thingamajig and hadn't heard the base-wide announcements asking them to contact Security.

That last was heavy wishful thinking, and he knew it. The mole they had on the loose could just as easily be behind this.

He sighed.

"What about Security footage?" Hank asked.

Mitchell nodded. "Already got our guys on it. They're starting with the kids' last known location and--"

"--Let me in there Sergeant, or I swear to God you'll be coughing up your balls tomorrow morning!" The sudden sound of a woman's raised voice in the hall outside Landry's office interrupted him. The soft but insistent murmur of a male voice answered her, followed by a rather distant but sharp, "Kate, don't!"

The four men exchanged surprised looks.

A muffled but clear request of, "Ma'am, please--" was answered by the sound of ensuing chaos.

Jack winced and hurried to the door. "For crying out loud...." He swung the door open in time to see the guard stationed outside Landry's office sail through the air to land flat on his back, the victim of a picture perfect Jujitsu Koshiguruma hip throw.

"Freeze!" he snapped sharply, the order more for the surprised sergeant than Kate Dixon who was straightening away from the dazed man. She'd taken him by surprise, but Jack knew he was a fully trained security specialist who was quite capable of taking her down - or at least giving her a run for her money. If he remembered right, she was supposed to be a third degree black belt, so the boy might just be in over his head.

"Hello, Kate," he greeted her cordially as both combatants froze and glanced at him. He smiled and gestured back at the office. "Would you like to join us?"

She paused to glance down at the prostrate sergeant, then up at her husband as he finally rolled to a stop beside the SF. "Sorry, sir!" Dave offered quickly, obviously winded from his attempt to keep up with his wife. "I tried to--"

"--Where's my son!" Kate demanded sharply, in absolutely no mood to discuss anything else.

Jack waved Dave's attempted explanation aside and gestured to the room behind him again. "That's what we're trying to find out, Kate. Come on in."

Awarding both the fallen SF and her husband an irritated glare for having tried to stop her - and Jack a gracious nod for having the sense not to - she daintily stepped over the prone sergeant and calmly entered Gen. Landry's office.

Dave was shaking his head in mixed chagrin and disbelief. Jack's shrug and amused smile assured him not to worry about it as he opened the door farther for the wheelchair bound man to join his wife. He glanced down at the SF who was beginning to lever himself upright again. "'You okay?" he asked simply.

The man offered an embarrassed blush. "She took me by surprise, sir. I--"

Jack again waved the explanation away. "--Are you okay?" he repeated more firmly.

The sergeant paused to offer his abused right arm where she'd grabbed and twisted it a little shake, but nodded. "I think so, sir," he decided.

"Good," Jack nodded. "If she'd meant to hurt you, she would have. Next time, remember that looks can be deceiving - especially around here."

With that parting piece of advice, he dismissed the SF from mind and turned to deal with the much more pressing and dangerous issue of one Mrs. Kate Dixon in full very pissed-off Mama Bear mode.
* * *

"Wow! Did you see that?" Jason exclaimed in delight as his father followed his mother into the room.

"Yeah...." Sam again pulled him aside and suddenly she found herself standing halfway in the wall. Cold chills ran up and down her spine, telling her to move. "I think it's getting a little too crowded in here," she decided.

"Wait!" Jason suddenly hollered as he felt himself being pulled through the wall. "No! I want my mom! Mama! We're here! We need help! Mama!!!"

Sam had to drop Daniel's hand to deal with the suddenly struggling boy. "Jason. Jason!" She grabbed him by both shoulders to keep him from running back through the wall and likely through several people in an attempt to touch his mother or otherwise get her attention. Sam didn't think such an action would actually hurt him, but she wasn't taking any chances.

She held tight. "Look at me, Jason," she ordered him firmly. "Look at me!"

He stopped and offered her a rebellious glare. She had one chance to make her case and only one. "I know you want your mom--"

The door to the office suddenly opened again to reveal a frowning Kate Dixon. "Jason?" she called, glancing up and down the hall.

"Mom!" he shouted, breaking free only to run through his mother when he attempted to hug her legs.

"Kate?" Jack O'Neill appeared beside her.

The SF who had regained his feet came to attention but eyed 'Kate' uncertainly as she gave the otherwise empty corridor another pensive glance. She offered it a small shake of her head. "Sorry." She turned back to the office. "I thought I.... Never mind."

"No!" Jason shouted again even as the two turned away and the door closed once more. "Mama!"

Sam once again had a firm hold on him and wasn't letting go. He struggled for a short moment but then suddenly seemed to wilt. Turning back to Sam, she saw he had tears in his eyes. "She knew we were here," he claimed. "She knew!"

Sam couldn't see how that was possible, and yet....

Danny was nodding. "I think something like that happened to me too when I went out of phase last time," he explained. "I remember Teal'c opening his door and looking around for a second, but he still couldn't hear or see me."

It was Sam's turn to nod. "We went over that during the debriefing after we got you back," she told him. "You were pretty sure it was triggered by strong emotions."

Jason's eyes suddenly lit with hope. "So we go in there and jump around and shout and get really upset and they'll know we're here!"

Sam was shaking her head. "They won't know anything, Jason," she corrected him gently. "The most we'd do is confuse them."

"She's right," Danny agreed with Sam. "They don't even know we're out of phase yet. Once they do, then they'll figure out a way to reverse it."

"How?" Jason demanded plaintively.

"I don't know," he answered his friend, "but they will."

"You don't know that!" the other boy argued, frowning fiercely.

Sam actually laughed at that. She couldn't help it! "Ah, Jason," she offered in amusement. "We've been in a lot worse situations than this before," she assured him. "Trust me: they'll figure it out."

"What if they don't?" he demanded.

"They will!" she promised firmly, refusing to let herself believe anything else. "If not ... then we'll just have to figure it out ourselves!"

"But we can't touch anything!" he protested.

Sam wagged her eyebrows in answer. "It wouldn't be any fun if it were easy!" She grinned unabashedly.
* * *

Part 22

Landry was a bit surprised to see Teal'c waiting for him beside CMSgt. Harriman's position at the gate controls. He offered the stoic Jaffa a nod even as he joined the men. "Walter," he said simply by way of announcing his presence to the gate technician.

The other man glanced back over his shoulder in answer and came right to the point of why the general had been summoned. "We managed to clean up the message, sir." He turned back to his equipment. "We noticed a slight variance in the outputs..."

Hank wasn't interested in the particulars but managed to bite his tongue, hoping the man would get to the point faster if he did.

"...so we ran it through a sequence of digital filters and we came up with this." He hit a button on his control panel.

The playback was still pretty distorted but at least it was intelligible. "Stargate Command," a male voice addressed them. "This is the Sodan. Please respond!"

Hank blinked in surprise and glanced at Teal'c, suddenly realizing what he was doing there. "Did he say 'Sodan'?"

The transmission continued. "We are under attack ... many have fallen ... we request immediate assistance!" The message was suddenly interrupted by the distinct sound of staff weapons' fire and cries of pain before it suddenly cut off.

Walter glanced up from his controls. "That's when we heard the impact against the iris, sir."

Landry winced, not wanting to ask but knowing he had to. "Analysis?"

"Biologic confirmed," the chief gate technician answered and frowned back down at his instruments.

Landry sighed and shook his head. The Sodan were well aware of their iris. Someone had been desperate.

"Sterilization procedures?" He didn't know why he asked that. His standing orders following the plague incident were pretty clear cut. If biological residue was detected, samples were to be taken and then the gate immediately dialed, with the iris shut. Nothing survived the formation of a wormhole.

"Already done, sir," Walter confirmed.

"General Landry," Teal'c inserted himself in the conversation. "We should investigate."

He'd just been about to get to that. "Agreed," he nodded decisively. "Find Col. Mitchell and assemble a team."

The Jaffa inclined his head in acknowledgment, but observed, "I fear he may not wish to accompany us given that the location of Lt. Col. Carter, young Daniel Jackson and Jason Dixon is still unknown."

Hank offered that a grunt. It was an unfortunate truth, but he had other priorities to consider. "Lt. Col. Mitchell is our resident expert on the Sodan," he stated bluntly. "His expertise could well be needed on this mission; whereas I can't foresee his presence - or lack thereof - having any kind of significant impact on the search for our missing trio. The order is not open for discussion." With a final decisive nod and sigh, he made his decision clear. "Tell him welcome to the joys of being a military 'father.'"

Teal'c, who knew well the sacrifice of self for the sake of duty, began to offer another sagacious nod of his head before suddenly awarding Hank a pensive frown instead. "And what of Col. Mitchell's injury?" he reminded the other man.

Hank frowned in sudden thought as well. How had he managed to forget about that? It had been less than twenty-four hours ago that he'd refused to let Mitchell go through the gate with SG-1 to rescue Danny and Jason.... "I've been watching him since the kids got back," he admitted, "and it doesn't seem to be bothering him very much."

"He felt sufficiently healed earlier this morning to engage in a moderately strenuous workout in the gym," Teal'c observed. "Although he is still favoring the appendage to some degree, it appears to have only a limited impact on his physical capabilities at this time."

Landry acknowledged that with a grunt and nod, still knowing that his daughter would kill him if he sent the other man through the gate before she'd cleared him for a return to full duty status. As Chief Medical Officer, she had the final say on who did and did not get to go off-world. "Can he handle a P-90?" he asked pointedly.

Again, the other man inclined his head. "The injury was not to his dominate side and should not impair his proficiency with said weapon."

In other words, he'd be fine as long as he didn't have to handle anything bigger or engage in hand-to-hand. Unfortunately, there was no way to know he wouldn't. Landry debated sending Jack instead, but immediately dismissed the thought; Jack might well enjoy it, but the entire point of even considering Mitchell was because of his past experience with the Sodan. The potential benefits of that experience had to be weighed against the risks to his health and the potential risk to the team his injury posed ... and was still coming up on the go side in Landry's mind.

"I'll clear it with Lam," he nodded decisively. He'd just have to make her see that Mitchell's inclusion could well decide how the Sodan received their people. Haikon might not understand why they hadn't answered his call sooner. "You plus a full SG team should be able to keep the boy safe - choose them carefully. And requisition yourself a SAW," he added as an after-thought, referring to the rather cumbersome M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. Given its weight and size, they tended to avoid using it off-world unless they were expecting trouble, but it had a faster cyclic rate, greater capacity, larger caliber and longer reach then the lighter more versatile P-90. Teal'c shouldn't have any problems with it. "We don't know what you'll be going up against; a little extra fire-power might come in handy."

Teal'c silently acknowledged the order with another nod of his head, then spun on his heel to find his teammate and leader.
* * *

Jack frowned pensively as he headed down the corridor, his less than welcoming countenance keeping the curious at bay. He'd just come from reaming out a security major who'd been under the mistaken impression that hunting down a missing Lt. Col. Carter and two children was a low priority. Instead of instigating a full search, the man had simply instructed all SF personnel to be on the look out for them and to call in if they were spotted. And the security tape search Mitchell had 'requested'? It was being handled by the tech in the monitoring room on 16 -- as he had time.

Not anymore.

Col. Spears, the head of base security, was going to get an earful too once he arrived after being called in on his day off. Obviously his second in command wasn't up to the job of prioritizing security situations if he thought the sudden disappearance of two children and a lieutenant colonel didn't warrant his full attention.

The elevator in front of Jack hissed open and he glanced up to see Dr. Lee.

"General!" The scientist smiled a warm greeting, totally missing the black cloud of anger and irritation that shrouded the other man. Jack nodded and waited for him to get off. They do-sa-doed around each other and then Lee turned to put his hand on the elevator's pressure sensor, preventing the doors from closing. "Oh!" he offered in obvious distracted thought, "have you seen Col. Carter by chance?"

Jack blinked in disbelief and donned his most innocent expression. "I was just coming to ask you the same thing," he claimed. Where was this man buried that he hadn't heard the base wide announcements looking for her and the kids?

"Really?" he asked, missing Jack's sarcasm entirely. "Because she left her laptop in my lab and--"

"-She did?" That wasn't like Carter....

"Yeah, it's hooked up to that device SG-1 picked up from Glastonbury."

"The communication thingamajig?" Jack frowned. Hadn't that thing been destroyed?

"No," Dr. Lee answered, stepping back onto the elevator with Jack and reaching down to hit a button. 19. Probably going to check her lab. Hadn't the man just gotten off the elevator? "Different thingamajig. I asked her to take a look at some readings this morning, but she apparently got interrupted."

It was Jack's turn to reach out and stop the elevator doors from closing. He had a feeling he was about to head back to talk to that security major here in a second.... "Interrupted?" he echoed.

"Yeah." Lee frowned as he reached into his lab coat pocket and withdrew a folded piece of paper. "She started to leave me a note and...."

Jack snatched it from his hand, flipping it open to reveal the half-finished missive.

"...Like I said," Lee shrugged, "interrupted."

Jack was no longer paying attention. He was already moving, heading back the way he'd just come, note in hand. This couldn't be good....

"Sir?" Behind him, a confused Dr. Lee debated his options for a long moment and then had to scramble to avoid the closing elevator doors as he decided to follow in the general's wake, finally picking up on the other man's concern for Sam.
* * *

Cam, as required by Landry and Teal'c both -- probably Lam too! - was last through the gate. Emerging from the event horizon, he stepped to his right and dropped to one knee, bringing his weapon to bear as he quickly scanned the immediate area for threats from his elevated advantage point atop the gate platform. SG-12 and Teal'c had already fanned out to form a defensive perimeter. Using the gate itself for cover as the wormhole collapsed, Cam turned to sweep the forest and barren, rocky field behind them as well.

No attack or even movement was forthcoming. The area around the gate was still and quiet except for the gentle whirring of the MALP to the left of the gate and the tentative song of an occasional bird. He carefully swung his aim left to right, noticing as he did that the brace on his left wrist actually made a pretty good pivot point for his weapon - which he should probably be gratefully they allowed him to carry at all.

Then again, it wasn't as if he really wanted to be here!

With a frown, he quickly shoved all question of where Danny, Jason and Sam had disappeared to out of his mind: this was no time to be distracted. He was still painfully torn over the idea of having to come here despite the fact that he understood and even agreed with Landry's decision; but he needed to concentrate on keeping himself as well as everyone else here alive.

They all held their breath for a count of ten before he finally called, "Clear!" and dared lower his weapon to a ready position. Standing, he surveyed the scene before him with a jaundiced eye. The fact that a battle had taken place here was more than evident. The losers still lay where they'd fallen. He turned to find Maj. Hadden and his men awaiting orders. "Check for survivors," he told them with a grim nod.

He already knew they wouldn't find any. That count of ten had been far too quiet. Still, they had to check. He jumped down from the back of the ring platform, ignoring the stairs in front along with the pain that shot up his arm from the sudden jarring, and moved to kneel beside the nearest body. A glance at the man's slack-jawed face, eyes staring sightlessly up at the passing clouds, was all the answer he needed there.

Cam quickly brought his gaze back up to the forest, scanning the perimeter again even as he quickly assessed the carnage around them.

He counted four bodies - plus the one that had hit the iris made five. There were scorch marks from staff blasts all over the area, including the steps and gate itself. He heard Maj. Hadden order one of his men to check the DHD.

Teal'c gently toed the blasted remains of the radio transceiver the SGC had left for the Sodan to use before he turned to meet Mitchell's eyes. Whoever had done this hadn't been fooling around.

"'Symbiote hunt gone wrong?" Hadden suggested as he too stood once more and tried to figure out what the scene was telling them.

Teal'c frowned in thought as he surveyed the killing field. "I do not believe so," he answered stoically. "If that were the case, their attackers would have pursued them back here through the gate. Evidence suggests these Sodan were fleeing from something in that direction." He pointed to the path Cam knew led to the Sodan transporter known as the 'Eye of the Gods.' It was a good three mile hike from here.

Thanks to their previous contacts with the Sodan, they now had the code needed to use it.

He turned to where Lt. Stevens stood over the DHD and nodded. Orders were to report their findings before moving on - not that there was much the MALP hadn't already discovered to report. Landry was being over-cautious.

Cam moved over to the mechanical probe and positioned himself in front of its camera as he waited for the wormhole to reopen. Once it did, he waited another long second for the radio signal to be re-established before keying his handset. "Sierra Golf One-niner to Sierra Golf Charlie, come in; over." He fought not to sigh.

"We're still here, Mitchell," Landry's voice answered over their ear pieces, dropping normal radio protocols in favor of the more relaxed mode the SGC had adopted long ago for casual radio chatter - or as casual as it ever got. "Go ahead," he ordered simply. "Over."

Cam offered the camera a one shoulder shrug and turned to scan the area around him again as he answered. "We've got ourselves a bit of a mystery here, General," he sighed. "Four dead Sodan, a whole heck of a lot of staff blast marks, and no sign of who or what caused it. 'Doesn't look Ori for what that's worth." He turned back to the camera. "Teal'c thinks the attack came from the direction of the village. Request permission to check it out. Over."

It was a long moment before Gen. Landry's voice answered. "Permission granted," he finally allowed. "Radio check every four hours. Acknowledge. Over."

"Four hours, acknowledged. SG 1-niner, out." He double-clicked his handset and turned to find SG-12 awaiting his orders. "Let's head 'em out, Major. We're not going to find any answers here."

With a nod, the major turned to take the lead, with Cam and Teal'c bringing up the rear.
* * *

Part 23

Jack drummed his fingers on the back of the technician's chair as the man called up the requisite security footage. They knew Dr. Lee had left his lab around 1100 and that the partial note had been written between then and 1200 when he returned. It was a heck of a lot better starting point for tracing their movements than starting at the infirmary at 0700 hours.

"There she is!" Dr. Lee was quick to point out the obvious. The technician stopped the footage and deftly rewound it to the point where Sam and the kids had entered the lab.

Jack had stopped drumming his fingers and instead gripped the back of the chair tightly. Of course Carter had taken the kids into a highly sensitive and potentially dangerous laboratory with her - what was she thinking!? He noted the kids both had their hands stuffed in their pockets but he doubted that had lasted long. Just the still image he was looking at brought up visions of potential disaster. "What else was in the room beside the ... not-communication thingamajig you mentioned before? Do we even know what it is?"

He could see the device Lee had been talking about and it didn't much look like anything. If Jack had to describe it, he would have said it looked like a big ol' clunky boomerang made out of rock.

"Yyyea ... no," Lee answered reluctantly. "We think it might be a data storage device of some sort, kinda like an Ancient laptop or PDA - but we're not sure."

"'Ancient laptop'?" Jack cocked his head to the side. The security file footage resolution wasn't good enough for him to make out if it had any kind of a keyboard but he certainly didn't see anything that resembled a monitor.

"It's ... one of several theories," Lee admitted unhappily and quickly changed the topic back to Jack's first question. "As for anything else in the room? Um, no; not really. I had been working on this really cool--"

Jack's look quelled the man's obvious enthusiasm before it could distract him entirely.

"-but I couldn't get it to work, so I sent it down to the linguistics lab for translation."

Jack bit his tongue to keep from asking what the hell the scientist thought he was doing playing with any bit of alien technology without having any writing on it translated first.

"So, uh--" Bill suddenly waggled his head back and forth at some sudden thought, "-well, you know, I was running a number of experiments on my own machines," he admitted, "but those were mostly theoretical in nature and there's no way--"

Jack shot him another sharp look. He had this little problem with other people using absolute statements.

"-uh, almost no way...." The scientist cringed and quickly folded his arms as he turned back to the waiting security technician with a nod. "Let's just see what happened," he decided defensively. "I mean, we don't know anything did!"

Carter and two kids in a laboratory - one of them Danny - and Lee thought nothing had happened? Jack offered the man a less-than-happy smile and turned back to the technician as well. "Fast forward," he ordered simply.

The video recording distorted slightly as it showed the motion of the three of them entering the lab and looking around. Sam went over to her laptop but Jack kept his eyes on the kids. They rapidly shifted their weight foot to foot and obviously offered comments to which Sam apparently responded, but to his surprise their hands stayed in their pockets.

And then suddenly the screen turned to static.

Jack blinked and frowned, straightening as the technician checked his equipment. "What just happened?"

"Looks like the camera went off line," Maj. Gaffeny noted from where he stood a few feet removed from them. "Probably a power surge."

"Aren't you supposed to be monitoring the other cameras while the sergeant works on this?" Jack reminded him.

The man, who'd already received a serious reprimand from Jack for his failure to properly respond to the disappearance in the first place, all but blushed and quickly jerked his eyes back to the various other monitors lining the security station on level 16. "Sir," he acknowledged the rebuke with obvious chagrin.

Jack offered him a scowl and slight shake of his head. How the hell had the guy managed to become second in command of SGC security? Jack made a mental note to review his personnel file and dismissed him from thought once again as he turned his attention back to the problem at hand.

The static on the screen had turned out to be short lived. As the scene came back up, he found himself viewing an empty room.

"They're gone!" Lee offered in apparent surprise.

Well, d'uh! Jack thought, but knew the footage didn't mean this was where they'd disappeared from. He'd been watching Danny closely and the kid hadn't touched a thing.

"Pull up the camera for the corridor outside the lab," he ordered. Just because they hadn't seen anyone enter the lab didn't mean someone hadn't used some sort of jamming device from the corridor before stepping in to spirit the three away in some impossible five second long-- 'Coulda had some sort of homing device and used an Asgard beam like Ba'al had the day before. 'Course the SGC had special dampeners on base that were supposed to prevent-- No one wanted a repeat of the incident in which the NID had stolen the gate right out of the gate room!

Jack's mind raced with possibilities as he watched a second monitor come to life with the requested footage. "Sync 'em up," he ordered unnecessarily as the technician quickly did exactly that, "...and play them simultaneously."

No one in the hall.... Jack had a sinking feeling he knew what he was going to see even as the technician hit play for both cameras at the same time.

Again they watched the trio enter the lab - this time at normal speed. Sam moved to the laptop; kids stopped in the middle of the lab, hands in pockets; obvious discussion taking place.... There was no sound recording in the labs - perhaps that policy was due for review too. Jack watched as Sam turned from starting to leave the note to say something to the kids, and then back to the laptop.

Hallway still empty.

She did something to her laptop and the screen suddenly filled with static. Jack winced and forced himself to watch the corridor footage. Hopefully ... hopefully.... The static-filled screen once more resolved itself back into the empty laboratory and Jack's hopes were dashed. He offered a mental sigh to go with the physical one he couldn't contain: Danny was supposed to be the trouble-magnet here, not Sam!

"Okay," he forced himself to address the frowning scientist beside him who was supposed to be able to answer questions like this. "Even I know there's only one door to that room. If they obviously didn't use it...." He left the question open-ended, but all Bill Lee could do was shake his head and stare at the two empty screens in confusion.
* * *

His world 'blinked' - at least that was the best description he could give it.

Cam had seen the Ancient obelisk that was the Sodan transporter device in operation before and he knew there was generally a bright flash of light that accompanied it's activation, but from his point of view that was the exact opposite of what happened. For him, his vision grayed out for a long instant before abruptly returning, leaving him to discover he was somewhere else. Sam would no doubt have some explanation about the physical deconstruction of his visual cortex versus the energy burst required to produce the effect, but she wasn't here ... and Cam needed to ignore that fact and concentrate on the job at hand!

Worrying over Sam and the kids when he should be looking around for bad guys was a damn good way to get himself killed. Not for the first time on this mission, he shoved the niggling thoughts of his missing friends to the back of his mind and swept the area with his P-90 as SG-12 spread out to help secure the immediate area.

Once again, they were met with nothing more than the normal, casual response of a deciduous forest that found their sudden appearance 'less than impressive, thank you!' He only waited for a five count this time before dropping his defensive stance and moving forward to examine a scorch mark on a nearby tree. Hadden and Teal'c both followed him as the rest of SG-12 maintained a more vigilant posture.

The major shook his head. "More staff blasts, just like back at the gate," he observed.

And no sign of any other kind of weapons' fire; that's what had Cam worried.... He had to wonder suddenly if they were walking into some sort of civil war? Had one segment of the ancient warrior clan decided to follow the Ori teachings and tried to destroy those who didn't? Haikon had seemingly decided against it when last they saw him, but that didn't mean all of his people had agreed.

"Stay sharp," Cam ordered quietly. A glance and nod at Teal'c saw the Jaffa with his highly honed senses taking the lead this time as they set out again for the village proper.

Cam judged it to be late summer, and fairly early in the morning here; the sun slanting through the trees as they made their way along a well defined path through the sparse undergrowth and scattered narrow trees. It would actually be hard to walk into an ambush here -- if it weren't for the invisibility cloaks the Sodan liked to use. The crunch of leaf litter underfoot was muffled and muted by a heavy morning dew as Cam kept a look out for any hint of movement that didn't quite belong.

Nothing caught his eye, but the acrid stench of smoke alerted them all something wasn't right long before they stepped beyond the final heavy screen of forest and caught sight of the smoldering ruins of the village ahead.

"My god..." Hadden exclaimed softly behind him. There were two bodies laying not far down the path and they could see more in the distance. Several of the larger buildings were clearly missing their roofs. The major quickly turned to issue orders to his men. "Conway. Stevens: get back to the Gate on the double." He turned back around to view the devastation before them. "Tell them we need med teams."

He hoped they needed med teams, Cam thought. He braced his P-90 with his bad hand and quickly knelt to check a pulse. Nothing and cold to the touch: he'd been dead a while.

Cam quickly straightened and moved to catch up with Teal'c. If there were any survivors, they'd likely be holed up somewhere in the village proper tending the wounded. The team moved quickly forward, checking bodies and scanning the area for friend or foe, but were met with only more death and more destruction. An unnatural stillness and silence seemed to entomb the once proud village, slowly eroding the hope of finding anyone still alive.

It was what he didn't see that disturbed him the most: this level of destruction should have been accompanied by evidence of a large number of ground troops or aerial bombardment -- but there was none. The ground was hard packed, but not that hard. No enemy bodies, no evidence of mass defense, no looting.... The watch fires from the night before were burned down to cold dead ashes beneath cauldrons of morning stew.

Teal'c had paused to kneel by a young warrior: Mazal, if Cam remembered right. He was one of three apprentices to the master blacksmith, Tor'oq. Cam winced as he glanced toward the older Jaffa's workshop and recognized the man's heavy soled boots sticking out the doorway. He might have been an older man but he would have gone down hard. All of them would have, Cam knew! They were fierce warriors whose fighting traditions went back more than five thousand years! The idea that someone had been able to wipe them out to a man....

He banished the thought as premature. This had been a village of over a thousand. They might have been forced to flee, but some of them had to have survived....

He turned his attention back to where Teal'c was holding his hand over Mazal's stomach and, for a second Cam thought they might have found a survivor, but realized his mistake as Teal'c dropped his hand and glanced up at him.

"Whomever did this knew well the most efficient way to kill a Jaffa," the one-time First Prime of Apophis stated, surveying the destruction around them with the look of a man who has seen too many similar scenes in the past. "Their symbiotes have been targeted. They were shown no mercy."

A soft groan suddenly pierced the silence, instantly drawing Cam and the rest of the team to the right where they saw a dark-skinned Jaffa laying half-collapsed against a charred wooden pillar about fifty feet away.

"Haikon!" Cam whispered, instantly recognizing the Sodan leader. The dark head shifted slightly before his chin collapsed back on his chest again.

Teal'c quickly knelt and held his hand over the man's symbiote pouch. Glancing up, he shook his head. "He will not survive long," he answered Cam's unasked question. "His symbiote is dead."

Cam had suspected as much but looked up to wave Hadden and McKenzie forward. "Get him into one of those huts over there." He indicated a low row of small homes that were still mostly standing. "We need to get some tretonin into him, STAT."

If given the choice, Cam suspected the once-proud Jaffa leader would refuse the treatment but Cam didn't plan to ask him. He and his people had not deserved to be slaughtered like this. Cam intended to find out who had done it and why. To do that, they needed answers and they needed them soon. Haikon was the only one who could supply them.
* * *

Daniel was a bit surprised when Sam by-passed Dr. Lee's lab and continued down the hall holding both of the boys by their hands. Jason frowned as well and pulled back slightly, thinking she'd made a mistake. "Isn't that where we're supposed to go?" He turned to point back at the door behind them.

She grinned. "Nope!" she told them easily and gave their hands a light tug to get them both moving again. "Come on. I've got an idea."

Danny glanced back up at her, realizing belatedly that they must be headed for her lab. "What kind of idea?" he asked. Sam and ideas went hand and hand, but he was starting to get bored and frustrated. He'd much rather go back to the device in Dr. Lee's lab and at least try to translate whatever was on the display screen. He'd been able to understand parts of it. Maybe if he tried again, really hard, more of his memories would return and he'd be able to read more of it.

Sam grinned down at him. "An idea to communicate," she answered with barely contained excitement.

Communicate? That would be good, but communication was supposed to be his specialty and he couldn't think of anything. You take away sight, sound and touch and all you had left was taste and smell. And although he knew there were several species of animals that used smell to communicate, he didn't think the three of them actually had any more chance to interact with their friends via those senses than with the others.

What did that leave?

"Here we go!" Sam interrupted his thoughts as she lead them through the door -- literally. He shuddered slightly as the feeling passed and then glanced around her lab, which was far more interesting than Dr. Lee's had been.

"Wow!" Jason exclaimed in surprise, seeing test tubes and beakers and microscopes. It looked like she had a number of ongoing experiments running. "Now *this* is a lab!"

"Whoa, there! Hold on!" Sam quickly reined him in before he could drop her hand and go take a closer look at everything. "We have to be careful in here," she warned them both very serious. "Some of this stuff is dangerous--"

"--We can't touch anything!" Danny reminded her, rolling his eyes.

"Ah, but we don't know that!" she suddenly corrected him. "That's why we're here. If I'm right and the reason we aren't falling through the floor is based on mass, then it's just possible there's something in here we can touch."

"Like what?"

"Like lead," Sam answered, glancing around.

Jason, whom she was still holding onto, made a little lunge to his right and swiped his hand through the table beside him. Sam and Danny looked at him in surprise.

"Nope," he told them simply -- and indicated the pencil he'd tried to grab.

Sam smiled. "Although it's called a 'lead pencil,' it isn't actually made with lead," she told him. "The core is made of something called graphite -- which looks like lead, but it's not."

"Oh." He blinked and then frowned up at her. "How do they get the ... whatever-it-is inside the pencil? I always wondered."

"I'll let Danny explain that one," Sam decided. "Sit down on the floor and don't touch ... don't *try* to touch anything."

The two boys rolled their eyes but chose to comply. "I'm bored," Jason told Danny as he plopped down on his butt. "Being a ghost isn't as much fun as I thought it would be."

"We're not ghosts," Danny corrected him, assuming his own cross-legged position beside him.

"We're almost like ghosts," Jason pouted, "except even ghosts can sometimes be seen by other people and we can't. It's boring!" he repeated with a whine.

"Yeah..." Danny sighed, before suddenly glancing up. "Sam?"

She was busy frowning as she moved around her lab. "No, you can't help me, Daniel," she told him as she searched her desk. Apparently she didn't know where she'd put the lead. "Lead has a relatively high atomic mass which is why I'm hoping we'll be able to touch it, but there are other things in here that have higher numbers. Unfortunately, most of them are quite dangerous. Not that lead is particularly safe, but--"

"--That's not what I was going to say!" he complained. Why did adults always think they knew what he was thinking? He shook his head at the thought.

"Okay..." she allowed with a pensive frown, but it was clear she was concentrating on something else. "What then?"

"Just that we should'a known Jack was in a different dimension than this one right off," he told her. "He could still talk to us and touch things when he went invisible, couldn't he?" The memory of it was a little vague....

"You're right," she agreed, frowning at a locked cabinet before turning to offer him an encouraging smile. "We still had to try."

She turned back to the cabinet before shaking her head and spinning on her heel to face them again. "I think I put the lead shielding away after I used it last." She shrugged. "Sometimes it doesn't pay to be a neat freak."

Danny lifted a brow and glanced around again at the apparent clutter that was her lab.

"Don't give me that look!" she declared. "It's better than your office."

Danny frowned, not really remembering exactly what his office was like -- but he didn't think it was that bad!

"...Your office?" Jason echoed, and glanced at Danny.

The two members of SG-1 froze as they realized what Sam had said.


"She meant my Dad's office," Danny offered hurriedly.

Jason was frowning and this time shook his head. "No, she didn't...."

Sam offered him a patently false smile as she hurried around the desk again. "Come on, Jason!" she laughed lightly. "You don't honestly think a five year old could have a real office in a place like this, do you?"

"He could if he wasn't really five years old. Or human," Jason argued, clearly regarding Daniel with renewed suspicion -- and a little sadness too, Danny thought. He didn't like the idea that Danny might have lied to him.

Danny didn't like it either.

Sam quickly knelt down next to both boys. "Jason--"

"-Sam," Danny interrupted her. She glanced at him and gave him a warning look. He sighed and kept his mouth shut.

Sam turned her attention back to the other boy. "Jason," she addressed him seriously. "We haven't lied to you. Danny is a five year old boy from Earth, the same as you."

"I'm six!" Jason automatically corrected her.

"Um ... yeah," she nodded, "but otherwise he's the same as you. I swear." She actually paused to cross her heart for him.

Jason frowned and locked his arms together across his chest, not believing a word of it.

With a sigh, Sam relented a little. "Something happened to him a few weeks ago," she admitted. "Something we can't tell you about."

"Something that made him really, really smart?" Jason asked, not sure if he should believe that or not.

"Uh..." Sam glanced at Danny and read his frown to mean that he wanted her to stay as close to the truth as possible. "No," she admitted. "He's pretty much always been that way." She suddenly grinned and held out her hands to both boys. "Come on. The infirmary has lead lined vests for taking X-rays. I'm sure we can find one of them laying around somewhere."

"What good will that do?" Jason asked, reluctantly taking her hand and letting her help him to his feet again.

"Well," she grinned, "can you imagine what kind of reaction we would get if someone saw a lead lined vest floating down the hallway?"

"The SFs would probably try to shoot us!" Danny protested.

"No they won't," Sam denied, then amended the thought, "as long as we don't give them reason to. They'll call someone to figure it out and then we'll be able to communicate with them."

"How?" Danny asked, still not seeing the solution here.

Sam held her hands up at chest level, like she was holding something in front of her, and lowered and lifted it. "Yes..." She then swung it side to side. "No." She grinned, then shrugged. "Admittedly, it'll be a bit limited, but it's a start - assuming we can actually find something other than the floor we can touch." She held out her hands again only to have Jason offer her a sudden frown and take a large step away.

"Wait." He ordered and turned to give Danny an accusing look as a completely unrelated thought occurred to him. "He wouldn't have an office here if something happened only a few weeks ago. You're still lying!"

The look hurt.

Danny turned to frown at Sam. "He needs to know," he declared firmly.

She frowned at him in turn.

"He's going to try and run away or something if we don't tell him the truth!"

Sam glanced at Jason again, but this time she saw what Danny had already seen: a little boy who was angry, hurting and frightened. And who didn't trust either of them.

It was a dangerous combination.

She sighed and closed her eyes.

"He needs to know," Danny repeated quietly.

She nodded and opened her eyes to regard the other boy soberly. "The IOA is going to love this one," she offered sarcastically.

"I think the IOA is going to be more upset that we've disappeared," Danny replied. "Again!"

Sam winced, not wanting to think about what the aftermath of this was going to look like. Jason was eying them both suspiciously. Danny turned back to him and bit his lip, just hoping the other boy would still want to be his friend after he knew the truth.
* * *

Part 24

Cam frowned at the sight of birds circling overhead; step two in nature's clean up crew. Flies and insects would have already started the process. Scavengers and carnivores wouldn't be far behind. The litter of bodies was a looming danger they'd have to deal with soon....

He glanced over at McKenzie as the SG-12 medic checked Haikon's vitals yet again. A shake of the younger man's head indicated no change. Under the circumstances, Cam didn't know if that was good or bad.

Twisting his wrist, he frowned down at his watch. Conway and Stevens should just about be reaching the obelisk again. Another fifteen minutes or so to the gate, fifteen to thirty minutes to get the med teams organized and through, twenty more to make it back here--

The sound of approaching steps had him jerking his weapon up, but it was just Teal'c and Hadden returning.

"We were unable to locate any other survivors," Teal'c informed them solemnly. His gaze dropped to Hiakon even as he squatted down beside Cam and lowered his voice. "What is his condition?"

"Same," Cam answered grimly. It was probably too soon to tell if the tretonin was going to take and, even if it did, his injuries were pretty bad. Without a symbiote....

It was Haikon who interrupted his musings. All four SGC men held their breath in surprise as the injured man offered a groan and tried to mumble something.

"Haikon?" Cam leaned close, hoping this was a good sign and that the man would be able to tell them what the hell had happened. "Haikon!" he called again.

Dark eyes clouded with pain and shock blinked up at them uncertainly. Teal'c reached out to grasp the Sodan's forearm. "Fear not, Brother," he quickly assured him. "You are among friends."

"Teal'c?" the injured man managed to gasp even as his gaze slipped over to Cam. "Mitchell...." Uncertainty was replaced with pain and fear. He forced himself to continue despite the obvious cost. "Save yourselves," he warned them. "You shouldn't be here!"

Cam ignored the warning. "What happened?" he demanded instead, squeezing the other man's shoulder and willing strength into him. "Tell us who did this?"

Haikon collapsed back onto his pallet with a grimace. "Volnek..." he sighed in obvious anguish.

Maj. Hadden frowned in shocked disbelief. "One man did this?"

Teal'c didn't question it. "Why would he turn on his people?" he asked urgently. Beneath his touch, Cam felt the Sodan leader suddenly relax again. "Tell me, Haikon.... Haikon!"

McKenzie's hand was at the Sodan's neck. He sat back after a long moment with a nod, letting them know Haikon was still alive, just unconscious.

Sudden static and a shout over their radios had everyone reaching for their handsets. "Alpha Baker to Sierra Golf One Two-niner, come in, over!"

Cam had heard the distinctive sound of staff weapon's fire intermingled with P-90 action over the dire tones before he keyed his mike. "Go ahead, over?" he ordered curtly even as the major turned to McKenzie and pointed at Haikon.

"Stay here!"

"-Under attack!" came the urgent response. "I say again; we are under attack! Requesting immediate backup, over!"

The three were already on their feet and moving. "State your position, over!"

"At the Eye of the--" The sound of a staff blast that was far too close interrupted him. There was a grunt, a bang ... and then static.

"Conway, report!" Hadden's order was sharp and demanding, but got no answer. "Stevens, come in, over?"

Still nothing.

With Teal'c leading the way, the three of them set off at a brisk pace, weapons ready and fingers itchy. Apparently the men had walked into an ambush. Cam had respected Volnek -- and dared to call his brother, Jolan, a friend; but if he were responsible for this....

All Cam could do was pray the men they'd sent for help would still be alive when they got there.
* * *

"...So now, he looks five, but his DNA is still--" Sam stopped and frowned pensively. It was obvious she'd lost the kid. She had to try again. "Okay. DNA, or Deoxyribonucleic Acid, is kind of like a set of blue prints. Do you know what that is?"

Daniel let out a frustrated sigh. "--Sam!" he interrupted her.

She winced. Unfortunately, what had happened to him was complicated -- and she didn't know an uncomplicated way to explain it!

Jason turned to Danny, still frowning. "You're ... old?" he asked, trying to summarize what little he'd been able to glean from Sam's rambling explanation. She blinked, frankly surprised he'd been able to understand that much!

"No," Danny corrected his friend and shot Sam a look to keep her from 'correcting' him. "I used to be," he continued, turning back to Jason. "I used to be as old as she is." He again glanced at Sam. "Older?" He frowned, uncertainly.

She nodded, not sure where he was going with this but deciding maybe he'd have more luck explaining it than she'd had. "A couple of years," she admitted.

"Wow," he offered, his eyes getting big. "I was ancient!"

What? "Hey!" Sam exclaimed in protest. Did he mean--? He couldn't mean--

Both Danny and Jason giggled, and Sam rolled her eyes.

The little imp!
* * *

Danny turned back to Jason. "I *used* to be," he repeated, returning to the problem at hand. "Part of me is still old, I guess, but most of me...." He sighed explosively. "It's like I went to sleep in Egypt in 1970 and only woke up a couple of weeks ago. I mean, I got all these other memories in my head of what it was like when my parents died and stuff that happened 'after'..." He offered the word in air quotes. "But some of it -- a lot of it -- is like it happened to someone else. Like it's something I read in a book or saw in a movie, and it's all jumbled up and confused. Especially the older stuff -- more recent stuff. The older I was when something happened, the harder it is for me to remember. I don't remember getting older, and I don't remember learning a lot of the stuff that I seem to know, like other languages and stuff. I know what I do remember is real and I know it's me, but...." He shrugged, not knowing how else to explain it.

"That's how you knew all about Ba'al and everything," Jason decided. "And how to light a fire without matches."

Danny cringed and glanced away, swallowing around a tight throat as he nodded. Jason must think he was some kind of freak -- and he was, he knew. All the kids at the schools he'd gone to here in the States had certainly thought so, and he hadn't even been shrunk then.

"You're Dr. Jackson!" Jason continued, pointing at Danny in sudden realization. "When they called our names out over the speakers here, they asked for us," he indicated himself and Sam, "and 'Dr. Jackson.' ...Oh! And then when we were first kidnapped by Ba'al, he called you Dr. Jackson too! I thought it was weird and almost forgot about it. He knows you've been shrunk and that's why he wanted to kidnap you, isn't it?"

Danny sighed, staring down at the floor. "Yeah..." Why couldn't he ever have any friends his own age, except when he was big? He glanced up at Sam sadly. He knew she was his friend and he really liked her -- but it wasn't the same.

"He wasn't really trying to help you, was he? He just wanted to know how it happened so he could do it too, to his enemies or something."

Danny frowned. That wasn't a possibility he'd thought of. "Maybe...."

Jason glanced up at Sam. "Can you fix it?" he asked.
* * *

Danny stared down at his feet again and Sam found herself squatting down beside him, reaching out to draw him close as she was unable to ignore his silent suffering. "We're trying to," she answered, offering Danny a comforting hug.

"So," Jason was still frowning, "you could be stuck like this? You'd stay five forever?"

Danny quickly shook his head but still didn't look up.

"No, Jason," Sam answered for him, smoothing a hand over the younger boy's down-turned head and wishing she could take all his fears and pain away. "If for some reason, we can't fix this -- and we're trying really, really hard to do just that! - but if we can't, Danny will grow up again just like you."

"Oh." Jason chewed his lip and studied Danny for a long moment as he tried to process everything. He glanced back at Sam. "What if he doesn't want to get old again?"

She blinked in surprise.

"I gotta get old again," Danny answered, looking up at last but not sounding nearly as happy about it as Sam would have liked. "I learned stuff when I was older that they need, stuff that I don't remember very well now. And if I don't remember, then the Ori could attack and we might not be ready."

Sam frowned as she clasped his small shoulder and turned him to face her. "Danny?" she asked, realizing this was a question they'd never thought to ask before. "Are you saying you don't want us to fix this? That if you had a choice, you'd rather stay five?"

He sighed and Sam saw far too much wisdom in that too young face. "I don't have a choice," he answered simply.

Not the answer she wanted. "What if we gave you one?" she insisted. Oh god, what was she saying? There were any number of people who'd probably argue he was too young and confused to know what he wanted!

Danny offered her a tired smile and laid a small hand on her shoulder. "It's okay, Sam," he told her. "I know I'm not the last hope for mankind or anything stupid like that, but I also know that what I used to know is important. I need to be old again so I can help."

Oh, no. Oh, no, no, no! She was not going to let him sacrifice his own happiness again for the sake of everyone else just because he thought that's what he had to do! "Danny--"

"-Sam." He saw the protest in her eyes before she even voiced it and interrupted. "It's okay," he insisted. He turned back to Jason with a little shrug. "Being old isn't all bad," he told the other kid. "In fact, a lot of it's kinda fun. You get to do a bunch of stuff your parents would never let you get away with when you're young."

"Like stay up past ten o'clock?" Jason asked, trying to think of things he'd like to do if he were 'old.'

Danny grinned. "And drive a car and drink beer and--"

"--Not at the same time!" Sam felt compelled to interjected.

The boys laughed. "Drinking and driving's stupid," Jason agreed but turned back to Danny with a sudden frown. "What happens when you get old again?" he asked. "Will you remember any of this?"

Danny shrugged. "Why not?" he asked.

Sam winced as he and Jason looked to her for a definitive answer. "I ... suppose you would," she finally decided. "The memory will have been stored in your frontal cortex, but the synapses will have been reconfigured into the adult patterns again."

They were both frowning. Okay, Danny might have understood that but Jason clearly hadn't.

"It would basically be the same sort of thing that's going on with his memory now," she explained. "The memories will be there, but they might be a little confused."

Jason suddenly looked worried. "He might not remember me at all then?" The thought obviously upset him.

"No!" Both Sam and Danny were quick to reassure him, if for two very different reasons.

"I could never forget you!" Danny claimed.

"The memories will definitely be there, Jason," Sam hurried to add, crossing her fingers behind her back at the half-lie. She was promising something no one could know for certain at this point. "They might be a little mixed up, especially at first; but he'll remember you. I'm sure of it."

The reassurance didn't last long as the boy offered Danny a sad look and glanced down. "But you won't want to be my friend any more when you're old," he decided.

"Why not?" Danny asked, obviously distressed at the idea himself. "I was friends with Cassie before. She's a girl we met on another planet who came to live here after the g'oold destroyed--"

"-Danny!" Sam sighed in exasperation as the boy stepped over the 'need to know' line yet again.

He shot her only a glance. "Sorry," and turned immediately back to Jason. "She was only twelve when we rescued her. And she was my friend when I was old."

"But I'm six," Jason argued.

"So?" Danny rejoined. "She's a girl!"

Sam laughed. She couldn't help it. Danny referred to Cassie being a girl the same way he might refer to cooties! "Hey, I'm a girl!" she teased him.

"You're different," he claimed.

Of course she was. She grinned.

"Did you ever kiss a girl when you were older?" Jason asked. His expression clearly reflected what he thought about that endeavor!

"I was married!" Danny revealed in overly-dramatic tones.


"Okay, that's enough, you two!" Sam decided, practically kicking herself to keep from doubling-over with laughter. She had no idea what Jason did or didn't know about being 'married' but, after that reaction, decided she didn't want to! She and Danny were going to have to have a long talk later when Jason wasn't around - about what Danny really wanted, as well as appropriate conversational topics for a six year old! "Why don't we concentrate on finding those lead-lined vests the infirmary has and freaking out some SFs?" she suggested with a grin.

As hoped, the previous line of discussion was immediately forgotten. "Yeah!" the boys shouted together in mischievous anticipation, then grabbed her hands and tugged her through the closed door of her lab.
* * *

Part 25

Katie Dixon was a wonderful woman; a really great gal. Jack had always said Dave was blessed to have found her. Given the jobs they did and the secrecy that was involved - well, not a whole lot of marriages survived that sort of thing. Kate didn't ask inappropriate questions whenever something went wrong, or question the sometimes questionable cover stories that came about. Nope, she just lifted an eyebrow to let you know she didn't buy a word of the BS you were spouting and then changed the subject. Dave said she did exactly the same thing with him.

Making the call to let her in on the project had actually been a no-brainer as far as Jack was concerned.

Yep, great gal - with a mouth like a sailor when she was mad!

Jack winced at the memory of some of her more colorful phrases when he'd told her that her son, along with Col. Carter and Danny, had literally vanished from one of Dr. Lee's labs. She knew Jack too well to let his rank stop her. Poor Dave had actually blushed a little!

Yeah, she'd taken it about like he'd expected.... Dave would probably remove him from his Christmas card list after Jack left him to deal with the aftermath.

He paused outside the lab door to make sure he had the right one before swiping his card through the security reader. The security lock opened readily and he entered the rather austere room with a determined stride to discover Dr. Lee bent over one of the lab tables. The white-coated scientist didn't even look up.

He was wearing headphones.

Frowning, Jack cleared his throat and closed the door behind him.


He tried clearing his throat again, a little louder. ...Okay, a lot louder then!

Nope. The man was oblivious.

With a frown, Jack stuck his hands in his pockets and sauntered forward to see what was so goldarned interesting. It wasn't until he all but elbowed the man aside that Ol' Doc Lee finally glanced up.

"General!" he offered, startled by Jack's 'sudden appearance.'

Jack flashed him a generic smile and waited for him to remove the headphones. Apparently they were hooked to some sort of Geiger counter he was using to sweep the device Carter's laptop was still hooked up to.

"What brings you-- Oh, the device!" the doctor answered his own question before he finished asking it and then, with a frown, turned back to what he'd been doing. "Yeah, it's ... um ... I've really only just gotten started here...."

He didn't remove the headphones. Fighting the urge to sigh, Jack reached out and tapped the left ear piece.

"What?" Bill glanced up again, as though surprised Jack was still there, and Jack gave him a little frown. Not a heavy one, or a dangerous one - not even a really mad one! - just an irritated one.

"Oh, right, um.... You want an update." He frowned back down at the Geiger counter. "Well, um, I'm afraid I don't-- That is, um--"

He still had those blasted headphones on!

"We have fairly constant power readings here but, um--"

Jack reached out and pulled one of the ear pieces away from his head. "It might be easier to hear what I want if you take these damn things off, don't ya think?" He released the spring loaded, heavily padded earphone to 'plunk' itself back into place. Lee winced, though Jack was pretty sure he hadn't actually hurt him.

But he did get the other man's attention.

"Oh, um, right. Sure." The good doctor finally reached up to remove the headphones, settling them to hang around his neck. He offered Jack a chagrined little grin. "What can I do for you, General?"


Jack offered him a rolling motion with one hand to get him going again. "Constant power readings and..."

"And-- Well, nothing significant, I'm afraid. Some trace amounts of lepton radiation. I'm not sure where it's coming from...." He shrugged and glanced back down at the Geiger counter.

Jack frowned sharply. "Did you say 'lepton' radiation?" Why did that sound familiar? Something.... "Aren't those the things that go through Nintendos?"

"Ninten-- Oh! You must mean neutrinos!" Dr. Lee corrected him, glancing up in surprise. "Uh, not exactly. Leptons and neutrinos are related. You see there are six kinds of leptons - or what we call 'flavors': electron, muon and tau, and then each of their related neutri--"

"--Muon?" Oh, this was important. Jack knew it was. If he could just....

"Ah, yeah," Lee continued. "It's an unstable second generation lepton. Neutrinos are - well, they're basically leptons without any charge; and pretty much no mass either because they travel at close to the speed of light which means they can pass through, you know, anything!"

"--No matter how dense," Jack finally had it. He snapped his fingers as the memory clicked into place. "Several years ago. Daniel found a crystal skull that turned him invisible. The muon radiation messed with the rest of us pretty bad. There was something about lepton radiation with it too?" He couldn't remember the details of Carter's technobabble.

"Oh, um...." Dr. Lee frowned in thought and glanced back down at the device pensively. "Yeah, I remember reading about that. He didn't just go invisible though, he actually.... He actually went out of phase!" He glanced up again in sudden excitement. "Of course! If this device is similar to-- which doesn't make any sense at all. I mean, the two technologies are obviously so different! Unless...!" he was obviously on a roll. "...unless the giant aliens developed their technology completely separate from that of the Ancients. Which would mean they were at least--"

"--Uh, uh, uh!" Jack quickly waved a hand to get him to stop. His head was spinning already! "Out of phase," Jack surmised when the other man stuttered to a halt. "They're still here, we just can't see them, right?"

The phone on the wall decided to interrupt them.

Lee moved to answer it even as he continued to talk to the general. "You know what this means?" he asked in obvious excitement, ignoring Jack's question. "It means they weren't vaporized like I was starting to think!" He shook his head and sighed in obvious relief even as he lifted the handset for the phone to his ear. "Lab four. Dr. Lee speaking."

The good doctor was lucky he hadn't voiced his working-theory to Jack before this!

"Uh, you-- what?" Dr. Lee frowned sharply in confusion and glanced back over at Jack. "...Three X-ray vests moving on their own in the infirmary?"

"It's them!" Jack suddenly exclaimed, making an intuitive leap that he was sure would leave Dr. Lee scratching his head - but Jack knew he was right. He was sprinting for the exit already. "Tell the guards not to shoot! I'm on my way!"

"Uh..." Lee frowned in surprise as the other man abruptly disappeared. The voice in his ear brought him back to the here and now. "You heard that? ...Yeah, don't shoot. I'll, ah, I'll get my stuff and be right down - but, um, General O'Neill will probably beat me."
* * *

The X-ray vests felt really, really weird. The heavily padded vinyl covering offered no resistance at all; but, because it was connected to the lead which did, it basically sank into Danny and stayed there. The longer it was there, the weirder it felt. And the lead itself, was weird too - almost spongy!

A nurse had sounded the alarm even before Danny shrugged the backwards facing vest over his shoulders.

The things were pretty much a one-size-fits-all type thing, which meant they were big and awkward for Danny and Jason. Danny shifted uncomfortably and fought back a shiver as he watched Jason struggling with his.

And they were heavy: definitely heavy.

"Sam!" Danny cried in alarm as he looked down.

"What?" She turned as she was in the process of putting on her own vest and immediately saw his predicament. He was sinking into the floor! "Get it off, quick!"


Danny wasn't the only one in trouble. Sam dropped her vest and grabbed at Jason as he suddenly found himself in quicksand-like cement.

Danny was half way-up to his knees as he struggled to shove the vest off his shoulders and chest again. Unfortunately, whatever property made the lead feel spongy, also made it sticky!

And that was when Security showed up.

Danny could only imagine what it must look like from the SFs' point of view: one vest on the floor, two others jerking around in mid-air a couple inches off the ground. Sam shifted her hold from Jason to his vest and helped him pull it off. It dropped to the ground with a loud thud even as the SFs drew their weapons and aimed at Danny. He was still struggling with his vest and was now up to his knees in floor. The deeper he got, the faster he sank as the mass of the floor offered less and less resistance.

"Danny!" Sam made a grab for him and missed even as the bottom edge of the vest hit the floor. It actually stopped his sinking - at least until he lost his balance and suddenly felt himself falling backwards.

Everything was so cold and weird. The weight of the vest was half-crushing his chest while forcing his torso through the floor! Sam let go of his arm even as she and Jason both grabbed the vest and pulled. It actually helped pull Danny up out of the ground. And then the vest was gone and Sam was tossing it aside and hugging him close as he shuddered violently.

"Don't shoot!" someone was shouting.

Sam suddenly grabbed Jason and pulled him close, shielding both boys with her own body.

"General O'Neill says not to shoot!" 'someone' repeated even as Danny remembered that bullets had lead in them. They wouldn't really shoot at the now still vests, would they? "He and Dr. Lee are on their way."

The SFs exchanged glances and backed up a step, but didn't lower their weapons.

Danny looked up at Sam. "Well, we got their attention," he smiled as he fought back another shudder.
* * *

The obelisk was only about fifty yards away when Cam shot a fist into the air, signaling a halt. A gentle little breeze was playing in the boughs overhead and stirring the top layer of leaf litter, making the detection of an unknown enemy that much harder. The sparse and slender trees didn't really provide any cover. Normally that would be both good and bad, but if they were facing Volnek - it was just bad. He didn't need to take cover to ambush them. He just had to use that handy-dandy cloaking device the Sodan liked so much. 'Probably how he'd taken out most of the village.

But then, Cam wasn't convinced yet as to whom they were facing. Something had to be more than messed up with the guy for him to mindlessly slaughter his own people like that!

Knowing chances were better than good that they too could be heading into an ambush, he issued a series of short, sharp hand signals asking Teal'c to fall back and cover their approach. Teal'c nodded his understanding. Then with a sweep of Cam's hand, he and Hadden set out again, separating to come at the objective from different angles.

No point in giving the enemy too tempting a target.

The unmoving and fallen forms of Stevens and Conway were now clearly visible. Hadden sprinted the short distance to the nearest man as Cam covered him. Stevens had taken a couple of hits from the looks of it before collapsing at the base of a tree. Cam quickly continued to where the second man had fallen not far from the obelisk itself. A low moan greeted him.

"Conway's alive," he called over to Hadden even as he quickly backed toward the obelisk. It was their only way out of here. If anyone was going to attack them, it'd be now....

No sounds. No movements. If Cam were lucky and Volnek close enough, he might get a one second warning when the other man primed his staff weapon before firing.

Hadden hurried over to check out Conway. Cam continued to scan the immediate area as the major verified the other man was still alive. The SG-12 commander trusted his back to Cam and quickly retrieved a morphine pen from his vest. A quick flip of his thumb removed the safety cap before he deftly jabbed it into the injured officer's thigh even as Conway struggled to speak.

"I never ... saw him," the younger man gasped, trying to warn them. "The shots ... came out of nowhere!"

Cam's gaze continued to scan the surrounding area. Still nothing....

He glanced toward Teal'c and lifted his hand to wave the Jaffa in. Either this had been a hit and run and Volnek was long gone, or he'd taken one look at the three of them in their highly defensive postures and decided the odds weren't good enough. Earth weapons had the advantage of being able to spray a large area with bullets and were much more effective in such a situation than a staff weapon. Invisible of not, a bullet could still kill him.

As Teal'c came up, Cam turned to the obelisk and quickly input the code to activate it. They needed to get help for Haikon and Conway both. He wasn't at all happy about having left the medic alone in the village when they didn't know for sure where the enemy was. They definitely needed some back up on this one.

Nothing happened.

Frowning, he tried the code again. He knew he'd got it right the first time, but-- Still nothing.

Damn it!

Hadden glanced up from where he was applying a pressure bandage to the injured officer's chest. "We've gotta get him back to the Gate, now."

Yeah. Cam had kinda figured that out already!

Teal'c stepped forward as Cam turned his attention back outward again. The Jaffa pried the heavy stone panel open to reveal the Ancient crystal technology that was the heart of the device. He scanned it quickly and slid it shut once more.

"Someone has removed one of the control crystals."

Of course they had. Perfect little trap. Let the enemy in, then pick them off one by one when they discovered they couldn't get out again.

Hadden was a little slow on the uptake. "Then how are we supposed to get out of here?"

Teal'c frowned and joined Cam in scanning the surrounding undergrowth. "We cannot," he answered simply.
* * *

Part 26

Jack entered the main ward of the Infirmary at a near run, catching hold of a door frame to draw himself up short. A quick glance around showed no sign of three dancing x-ray vests. "Where?" he demanded simply.

A nearby orderly, with Walter-like psychic abilities, pointed him back toward the CT Scanner room. Jack frowned as he noted the two uniformed backs blocking his way: SFs with their weapons drawn. "Tell me you didn't shoot!" he demanded as he quickly joined them and looked beyond. His heart skipped a beat as he saw three heavy vests laying motionless on the floor.

The senior security specialist awarded him only a glance. "No, sir," he replied without lowering his weapon. "The vests fell to the ground and stopped moving shortly after--"

A corner of one of the vests in question suddenly lifted part way and kind of wiggled around, much like a dog lifting it's head to sniff the air.

"That's the first movement any of them have made since dropping to the ground a few minutes ago, General," the SF declared. "We've been covering the door so that whatever's causing it can't escape."

"Yeah...." Jack sighed. "'Don't think that's what's stopping 'em."

If what had happened was what he thought had happened, Carter and the boys could probably walk right through the SFs -- though he admitted it was a little curious they seemed to be able to touch the vests whereas Danny hadn't been able to touch anything when-- Then again, maybe he hadn't tried to touch something made of lead before? They did have Carter with them this time around.

"Carter?" he suddenly called, shoving his way between the guards. "I'm assuming you and the boys are all in here. Pick that thing up and flap it around again if I'm right."

Jack sighed as the corner of the vest bobbed up and down in an apparent happy nod. If the thing had had a tail, he'd have expected it to be wagging!
* * *

Both Hiakon and Conway were still alive, but McKenzie wasn't sure how long he could keep them that way. Cam was pretty sure the tretonine was working or the Sodan leader would have been dead by now, but the drug was hardly as proactive as a living symbiote; and, according to McKenzie, Conway had a collapsed lung. The SG-12 medic had done a needle tap to try and get it to re-inflate and was debating trying to jury-rig a chest tube, but what Conway really needed was surgery.

McKenzie was good; but he wasn't that good.

Cam turned from the makeshift infirmary and went in search of Hadden and Teal'c. He didn't have to search far. He'd taken up guard duty because of his wrist while they concentrated on the necessity of shifting bodies from the pathways and houses to the caves at the base of the small rise which supported the Sodan's Council Chambers. The caves were sacred, having once served the Sodan as home when they first broke away from Iskur's control and discovered this place five thousand years before. Now, they would serve as the Sodans' final resting place.

Cam met the two exiting the caves and noted that Teal'c was holding one of the Sodan's cloaking devices.

"We could make our way back to the gate on foot," he heard Hadden suggesting, even as the major offered Cam an acknowledging nod. Obviously Cam was coming in on the middle of a conversation.

"I do not believe that would be wise," Teal'c answered stoically. "The journey would take months, and the terrain is most treacherous."

"According to the Sodan, no one who's ever attempted the journey has made it," Cam added. It was why he'd been given free run of the village when he'd been captured by them six months ago: the Eye of the Gods was the only way in or out -- and he hadn't known the code back then.

"There's not much for us here," Hadden rejoined, wiping sweat from his brow and glancing up at the hard blue sky. It was a little before 'noon' -- but the day here was longer than back on Earth. "We're going to run out of supplies before long."

Teal'c eyed the device in his hands, his thoughts elsewhere even as he replied. "Gen. Landry will send an extraction team when we fail to report."

"And they'll end up stranded here, just like us," Hadden argued.

The Jaffa finally glanced back up at the major. "We have food for the moment, and we can build shelter," he pointed out. "Perhaps when the extraction team arrives, we can repair the obelisk."

Repair Ancient technology with one of its key components missing? Maybe they could capture a whole bunch of butterflies and tie them together to make a flying carpet while they were at it! Cam bit the sarcastic words back, knowing they wouldn't help the situation any. "The SGC knows where we are," he offered instead. "Worse comes to worst, they'll send the Odyssey after us."


"I thought this place was cloaked from space?" Hadden frowned.

"And the cloak is probably tied into The Eye of the Gods," Cam decided. "If it's not working, neither's the cloak." He frowned as he watched Teal'c strap the Sodan cloaking device onto his arm. "...What ya thinking about doing there, buddy?"

"It is my understanding that those who use a Sodan cloaking device are invisible to everyone but each other." Teal'c settled the leather and metal studded brace with it's green activation gem firmly above his wrist.

"So if you use that thing, you'll be able to see him." Hadden nodded.

"Let me grab one and I'll come with you," Cam volunteered. He moved to enter the burial caves but Teal'c reached out to stop him.

"You cannot, Col. Mitchell," he declared firmly. "Testing has shown that the devices emit an unknown form of radiation to which Jaffa are immune, but humans are not. Area 51 is attempting to adapt it for human use even now but has yet to succeed."

"Immune nothing," Cam rejoined, having read the same reports Teal'c had. "The Sodan's symbiotes probably protect 'em. 'Hate to break it to you Big Guy, but you ain't got one no more."

"A fact I am very grateful for, Col. Mitchell," Teal'c replied. "Tretonine may not be as efficient as a symbiote, but it is more so than a normal human immune system. I will be fine."

"You hope," Cam countered.

Those carefully shuttered dark eyes rounded on him and, for the first time, Cam saw something close to hate in them. "Whomever attacked this village was without honor, Col. Mitchell," Teal'c declared coldly. "Women and children were shot in the back as they fled. I found an infant murdered in its cradle. I cannot and will not simply stand by while such evil ranges these forests. Do not attempt to stop me."

Cam was shocked by the picture Teal'c painted. He'd known the massacre was bad, but.... He swallowed around a tight throat and offered a curt nod. Getting between Teal'c and his target in such a situation just wasn't smart. He was even more tempted to strap on a cloaking device himself but, even if the radiation didn't get him, he knew he'd only slow the other man down. He offered his hand instead and the two men gripped each other's forearms. "Be careful," he offered simply.

Teal'c returned the nod, then turned and loped off toward the forest after his prey.
* * *

Danny frowned in concentration as he stared up at the glowing display. "Something about, um ... foundations? ...Foundational. 'Foundational disparities in' ... something, and 'accessing' ... something."

"Something?" Sam asked where she stood behind him.

"I think it's relating back to the disparities," Danny sighed with a shake of his head, "but I'm not sure...."

Sam offered his shoulders a reassuring squeeze. "Just keep trying," she told him. "We know the knowledge is there. The more you use it, the more will come back, right?"

Danny sighed and resisted the urge to tell her he doubted he'd be able to read it even if he was big again. What little he could make out was really technical and complex -- her kind of stuff, not his. He frowned up at it again.

"Hel-loooo!" Jack called from where he lay sprawled out on the floor playing with a pencil. A couple of Daniel's notebooks were open before him to pages Danny had requested, but the notes within were pure gibberish to the bored general. "Talk to me, Carter. Are we making any kind of progress here at all?"

Sam quickly tapped something out in Morse Code using the Ancient device they were trying to figure out. Danny wasn't sure what. He didn't remember much more than the S.O.S. he'd sent through the gate the other night using rocks. They'd moved back to Dr. Lee's lab when Sam belatedly remembered reading a material analysis of the device telling them it was made of naquadah, like the gate. Naquadah had a higher atomic mass than lead, so it stood to reason they could touch it -- which only made sense because how else had the Ancients been able to get back to the proper dimension after using the device if they couldn't touch it?

The question was, why did they need to go to another dimension to begin with? And why didn't the visual interface work in both? Obviously someone had been trying to hide something....

The symbols on the 'keyboard' weren't limited to the Ancient alphabet as he knew it, but had other symbols he wasn't sure about, so Sam had decided it was better to stick with using Morse Code and one key rather than risk possibly reprogramming the thing when they didn't know what they were doing.

The display he was looking at had some of those other symbols as well and he was beginning to think they were related to the base 8 math the Ancients had used.

Definitely more Sam's area than his.

"I think this is just the theory behind how the device works," he decided, knowing struggling with it wasn't doing him any good. He glanced up at Sam. "Turn the page."

She blinked in confusion and frowned down at the 'keyboard.' "Turn the page?"

"Just touch the number on the display," he explained, pointing upward.

She frowned at the display and swiped her hand through the holographic image with no result.

Danny sighed again. "Pick me up," he ordered.

Offering him a little shrug, she hefted him upward. He reached his hand out toward the display and she stepped forward so he could touch it himself, probably expecting his hand to pass right through it like hers had done. Instead, he tapped a particular set of symbols and the screen suddenly flickered, shifting to another 'page.'

"How'd you do that?" she asked in surprise.

"It's interactive," he answered simply and glanced down. "Um, Sam? You're sinking."

She quickly put him down again and managed to tug herself out of the floor. She hadn't sunk far. "We need to get one of those lead vests down here to stand on," she decided. The combined mass should be sufficient to support her if she needed to pick Danny up again.

"Why not just move the thingamajig to the floor?" Jason asked, swinging his arms in boredom and apparently unaware of the fact that his left hand was sweeping repeatedly through Dr. Lee's arm where the other scientist sat trying to solve the problem from 'his side.'


"Good idea, but I'll have to get Dr. Lee to disconnect it from the other equipment first," Sam decided and glanced up. "Stop swinging your arms. You're hitting him."

Jason glanced over at the white-coated man beside him and shrugged, not stopping. "So?" It was obvious Dr. Lee didn't feel anything, even if Danny knew Jason did. "I'm bored."

Sam nodded, commiserating, even as Jack picked up one of the books on the floor at random and started leafing through it. He grimaced when no protesting clicking responded. "Danny's not even reading these anymore, is he?" he decided and snapped it shut with a soft thud. "You do know patience isn't exactly my strong suit, don't you, Carter?"

Danny quickly frowned back up at the display as he fought not to smile. He couldn't help it! Jack and Jason sounded way too much alike at the moment.

Sam quickly tapped something else out.

Jack answered by softly banging his head against his arm on the floor. "Too fast, Carter!" he complained. "Morse code isn't exactly my first language, you know. I'm a bit rusty."

"Myrddin!” Danny suddenly exclaimed, recognizing the name on the new page. This one was a lot easier to read than the first one, not nearly as technical.

Sam glanced at him in surprise.

"Merlin!” he translated, using the more present-day vernacular and pointing at the display in excitement. "Merlin built this!”

"Merlin?” Jason frowned in confusion, his arm swinging suddenly forgotten. "You mean like King Arthur and 'The Sword in the Stone' Merlin?”

Danny nodded enthusiastically. "Only his name was actually Myrddin and he was an Ancient. Merlin is a bastardization caused by language shifts over time.”

"Merlin was real?” Jason asked in surprise, coming forward to stare up at the incomprehensible squiggles glowing in the air above the device.

Sam offered a frustrated and weary kind of groan. Oops, Danny realized, glancing back at Jason - he'd done it again!
* * *

Part 27

Tracking his prey was not going to be easy. The thousands of tracks in and around the village told hundreds of stories, muddled though they were with the prints of SG-12. Reading them now, he saw the truth of Haikon's words. One set of footprints stood out from the rest: a man of medium build with a slow and purposeful gait. He had carried only a staff weapon and was right-handed, stopping frequently to turn in place and fire at those who fought him.

Teal'c frowned as he followed the trail to the edge of the village, seeking the freshest trace. Others must have realized their enemy was using a cloaking device and used the same to fight him. Why then had the attacker never been forced to seek cover?

A personal shield perhaps? Had a Goa'uld captured Volnek while he was on a recent raid for symbiotes and turned him into a za'tark, programed to kill all his people?

The prints indicated he had broken into a ground eating lope as he entered the forest, following the trail of several women and children as they fled. One man had accompanied the group.

Za'tark programming seemed unlikely. The target of such was usually specific.

Teal'c knelt to check a track. It looked as though the women and children had managed a significant head-start; perhaps as much as two hours while Volnek concentrated on those in the village. Unfortunately, it had rained heavily not long before their flight and their trail was far too visible as a result. Had it rained after, it might have eradicated the trace and given them a chance to escape.

As it was, Teal'c had little doubt what he would find as he continued his hunt.
* * *

Hank frowned as he walked into the Control Room and glanced through the window to the quiet gateroom beyond. Too quiet. He knew the answer to his question before he asked it. "Status," he barked simply.

A secondary technician who'd been daydreaming about something or other gave a satisfying start, but Chief Master Sergeant Harriman merely glanced up from his position at the control board with a worried frown. "Still no word from Col. Mitchell, Teal'c or SG-12, sir."

As Hank had expected. Unfortunately. There were other teams off-world, of course, but he knew he could safely assume there were no apparent issues concerning them if Walter didn't mention any.

"How long are they overdue?" He remembered giving Lt. Col. Mitchell specific instructions to check in every four hours. It was a bit tight but the Sodan village wasn't that far from the gate - or, actually it was, but the Sodan 'Eye of the Gods' cut down on that quite a bit. Four hours should have been plenty of time for them to assess the situation and report back. The last thing he wanted to do was send a single team with an injured flyboy into some all out war between the Sodan and whomever had attacked them - especially when that someone was most likely lead by a damn Prior.

"Over an hour," Walter answered.

An hour. Not a particularly long time in most circumstances ... but Hank still didn't like it. Something was wrong. He felt it in his bones - and he'd learned a long time ago not to ignore that feeling. Mentally, he reviewed the teams both on and off-world at the moment. "Tell Col. Reynolds to prep an extraction team. Have them ready to move out ASAP."

"Yes, sir." Walter quickly turned to the phone.

Now to go find Jack and let him know what was going on. Hank hoped the other man was having a better day of it than he was.
* * *

The young warrior who'd accompanied the fleeing women and children had broken away from the group, perhaps seeking to set up an ambush for their pursuer. There had been an attempt to disguise his prints before he sought cover and waited for sometime. The forest here was denser than that at The Eye of the Gods; he'd chosen well. Unfortunately, the attempt had failed. He had been forced to flee - but had the foresight to choose a path other than that taken by the women and children.

Volnek had followed.

Teal'c scanned the well-used animal trail. The compacted dirt and leaf litter here made detecting his quarry more difficult, but it was clear the unknown warrior had broken into a run once he was certain Volnek pursued him and not the others.

Volnek's pace had not increased to match. Was he injured perhaps? Or merely tired....

A discoloration on the branches of a young sapling ahead drew Teal'c's attention. He shifted the SAW assault rifle to one hand as he approached and lifted the other hand to check his find. As he'd suspected: blood. The height of the trace told him it wasn't an animal.

And it was still wet.

He quickly reached over to activate the Sodan cloak. Because of the radiation and his reliance upon tritonine rather than a symbiote, he'd kept it off until now. He felt only a momentary tingle as the colors around him seemed to shift, becoming washed out and tending toward the blue end of the spectrum. Frowning, he quickly glanced around, seeking either of the men he'd been following. He feared the blood belonged to the unknown warrior, but could not rule out the possibility that it belonged to Volnek. He had not heard any staff weapon discharges, meaning the injury had most likely been sustained back in the village and been reopened during the chase.

Listening closely and scanning the area yet again, he set out to hunt the hunter once more.
* * *

"That's it!" Bill suddenly announced from where he sat at his lab table. "I've finally figured out what it was Col. Carter did to trigger the device!"

Jack's head jerked up at the unexpected exclamation from across the room - and his neck immediately let him know it wasn't a smart move! He winced sharply as pain shot from the back of his neck down into his left shoulder. Damn.... Was it just a twinge or had he actually managed to put his neck out? Still wincing, he sat up, dragging one of Danny's books with him.

As he reached up to massage the protesting muscles, he shot Dr. Lee an irritated glance. The man hadn't needed to shout like that! ...Though in all honesty, it hadn't been a shout and Jack shouldn't have been lying on the concrete floor debating the merits of taking a nap while he waited for Sam and the boys to make some sort of breakthrough.

The knotted muscle under his hand continued to complain but a gentle roll of his head produced no increased pain; so, not out.

"What?" he asked belatedly, having already forgotten whatever it was that Bill had said to cause his jerk to begin with.

The balding scientist glanced back at him with a gleam in his eye. "I had to run a reverse scan on all the energy fluctuations that we've been recording," he began quickly, his excitement obviously making him forget who he was talking to here! "...put them through a program designed to..." He finally remembered and turned away, facing his laptop again and waving how own explanation aside. "Anyway, I isolated the algorithm she used to synchronize the energy emissions coming from the device!"

Jack dropped his hand and rolled his head again experimentally, even as his frown went from irritation to total confusion. "What?" he asked again.

"Don't you see?" the scientist asked, as if he wasn't speaking a completely foreign language. "That means if I counteract Sam's algorithm from my computer, allow the emissions to return to their normal frequencies ... that could well reverse the process!"

He sounded like a kid in a candy store, but all Jack could see was broccoli.

"And that'll fix everything?" he asked. Could it really be that simple? At least the way Bill said it, it sounded simple somehow ... except for that algor-metric thing. Something to do with math, right? Why couldn't the man just say 'math'!

"It could." He tossed Jack another grin. "It should! Oh, just give me a second." He turned back to the laptop again and quickly started tapping away at it. "This is brilliant!"

Oh, where had he heard that before? Jack really hated it when people got that tone in their voice ... unless it was Carter. When Carter got that tone, you knew things were going to be okay. Usually. He frowned as he tried to remember if she'd ever gotten that tone and things went bad? Unfortunately, he'd definitely experienced less luck where that tone of voice and others were concerned....

"That should do it!" Lee sat back on his stool with a mad-scientist self-satisfied grin that made Jack want to wince again, just not in pain.

Still frowning, Jack shot the keyboard thingamajig now sitting on the floor only a few feet away from him a skeptical glance, but Carter wasn't busy tapping away in frantic Morse code to warn them off, so--

Evidently, Lee didn't think he needed to wait for any kind of go ahead before activating his program. Jack suddenly found himself being blinded by a brilliant flash of light. He automatically lifted a hand and used Danny's notebook to shield his eyes, but the effect was only momentary. As the light faded, he blinked his eyes open to see two little boys sitting cross-legged in front of the Ancient what-ever-it-was. Turning, he found Sam standing behind Dr. Lee.

She smiled and Jack broke out into a grin himself. Finally, something went right around here! "'Bout time you showed up!" he declared as he climbed to his feet. "Did you enjoy your little vacation?"


He found himself rocked back on his heels as a four foot munchkin plowed into him, hugging his knees. Grinning, he shifted the book he still held to his left hand and reached down to ruffle Danny's hair with his other. Then he turned to smile over at Jason who was looking a little left out. "I know someone who's--"

"--Oh, boy...."

Jack halted in mid-sentence - surprised not only at the interruption but the tone as well! The four of them turned to find Dr. Lee offering the room a dejected frown. "What?" Jack asked. Was the machine building up to overload or something because it didn't like being tampered with? Did they need to grab up the kids and make a run for--

No, there was nothing urgent about Bill's manner.

Jack glanced at Sam and watched as her smile faltered in confusion.

"Doctor!" Everyone glanced to the door where Gen. Landry suddenly stood. "Where's Gen. O'Neill? I was told he was in here with you."

Bill winced and glanced around, obviously not seeing anyone...

...And Jack finally got a clue. "Oh hell, no!" he exclaimed even as Carter confirmed the worst by swiping her hand through Dr. Lee's body. The man hadn't brought the others back into phase; he'd sent Jack out of phase with them!

"Um, well..." Bill sighed, turning back to Landry. "Technically? ...He still is."

"Technically?" Landry glanced around the 'empty' room.

Bill turned to wave at his laptop. "I-- I was attempting to reverse Col. Carter's algorithm, the one she used to trigger the device in the first place? And I thought-- That is, I was sure.... But something went wrong, and...."

Landry suddenly offered the balding scientist a mortified glare. "You didn't!"

Bill winced again. "I don't understand," he complained, offering his laptop an exasperated glance. "It should have worked!"

"'Should have....'" Landry was obviously less than impressed. "Am I to understand you correctly, Doctor?" he specified in a carefully controlled voice. "You're saying that instead of reversing the effect, you somehow managed to trigger it again; this time sending Gen. O'Neill out of phase too?!"

"I'm sure I can fix it, General," Bill hurried to reassure him. "The readings we just got, combined with the readings we originally--"

"--Save your excuses and explanations for someone who gives a rat's ass!" Landry interrupted him sharply.

Jack noted Sam's quick glance over to where Jason was sitting, obviously wishing she could slip her hands over his ears! Danny just gripped Jack's pant legs even tighter and buried his face in Jack's thigh, while Jason stared at Landry in wide-eyed awe and fascination!

"The only thing I want to know right now is how the hell I'm supposed to go up to my office and tell the President that the lead scientist on this project not only failed to fix the problem, but caused the General in charge of Home World Security to go 'poof!' as well!" Landry's voice reached a command roar - before suddenly dropping to a more pleasant and frightening level. "I don't think he's going to be very happy with you when I'm done. And neither is the IOA."

He offered Lee's suddenly pale face a small smile before abruptly turning to address the room at large. "Jack? I came to tell you we've got a little problem: Cam's team hasn't reported in yet, so I'm ordering an extraction team just to be on the safe side. 'Thought you might want to know."

Jack frowned and glanced at his watch, doing his own calculations about exactly how late the team was....

In his periphery, he watched Landry eye the silent room for a pensive moment before turning back to Dr. Lee. Giving the scientist a decidedly angry glare that Jack figured pretty much summed up his own feelings at the moment, Landry offered Lee only an irritated grunt before turning to stalk from the room without another word.
* * *

Part 28

Jack looked up even as Landry left, glancing from Danny to Sam. "Uh, Carter--"

"--You want to go help Mitchell and Teal'c, don't you?" Danny decided, hugging Jack's legs a little tighter.

He glanced back down into those crystal blue eyes that - as always - saw too much. They weren't the only ones.

"Uh, sir--"

"--It would only be for a few hours," he quickly defended the idea before she could shoot it down. "'Just tag along with the extraction team to see what's going on. I'll come back when they dial in to report back." He lifted his hand in a sloppy imitation of a boy scout pledge. Was it two fingers or three? Damn! He quickly dropped his hand as he suddenly realized he sounded like a school boy trying to wheedle the car keys out of his mother!

She frowned. Oh, but he hated it when she frowned!

"It's not like I need your permission, Carter," he decided - then gave the words a mental wince. There'd been no need to pull rank like that.

"No, sir..." she agreed, but she obviously wasn't happy.

"It's just like the last time I was invisible. 'Came in rather handy back then as I remember," he argued - wincing visibly this time as he glanced over to where Jason was sitting with those very big ears...

Ah heck, the kid was already in so deep they might as well issue him an SG-1 cadet badge!

Jack dismissed the thought to be dealt with later and hurried on. "In fact, it's better than last time! I'm out of phase, not just invisible, so I can't get hurt; and, if this is a Prior attack of some sort, I'll be able to sneak in and get intel no one else can."

It was Carter's turn to wince as she reluctantly acknowledged his words. "You won't be able to convey that intel, sir."

True enough, but he'd figure out something. "Carter, I hand picked Mitchell to lead SG-1 when I left here." Okay, so he was exaggerating that one a bit. It was more Mitchell's decision than his and SG-1 had pretty much disbanded at that point anyway, so ... but Sam would know the truth behind his words! "And Teal'c...." Yeah, he didn't need to explain that one. "I need to find out what's happening. Even if there's nothing I can do."

He was suddenly struck by how Daniel must have felt watching Ba'al torture and kill him over and over....

He quickly dismissed that thought too. Unlike Daniel, he wasn't hamstrung by the almighty Ascended-being rule book. He didn't need to sit back and watch his friends suffer if - and it was a BIG if! - they'd been captured or something. No, he'd do something. He wasn't sure what, but it would be something! He couldn't just sit here twiddling his thumbs while Danny tried to figure-- He glanced down at the journal he was still holding.

...Still holding!


He used it to gently knock the top of Danny's head. "Here," he offered it to the boy who blinked at him in surprise. "Maybe this will help you figure that out." He waved a hand at the inverted triangular glowy ... whatever the hell kind of display that was hanging over the Ancient whatchamacallit that had caused all this to begin with. "At least I don't have to turn pages for you anymore."

The kid automatically let go of his leg to take the book and Jack turned for the door.

"Sir!" Carter called out before he'd taken even one step.

He sighed and turned back to her. "I'll be back before you know it, Mom!" He couldn't resist the little dig - at himself as well as her.

Whatever protest she'd been about to offer, she apparently reconsidered. She closed her mouth and nodded. "Be careful, sir," she said simply.

With a nod of his own, he paused to ruffle Danny's hair. The irritated flinch was better than the worried look the boy was throwing him. "You two behave!" he warned, glancing up to include Jason in the admonition as well. "Carter's too young for you two to be giving her gray hair, got it?"

Winning a pair of impish grins and a roll of the eyes from Carter, he spun on his heel and made good his escape before the lovely Miss-Know-It-All thought of a good reason why he couldn't!
* * *

O-zone. At least that was what his friends among the Tauri would call the scent which had suddenly caused him to pause in mid-stride. There was no name for it among his people, though it was well known to all Jaffa. It was the smell caused by a staff weapon discharge.

He continued forward silently, all his senses on alert. No movement, no sound ... but now he detected a second odor. The stench of death and charred flesh.


The sole of a booted foot protruding from behind a tree. He hurried forward, knowing what he would find, yet hoping he was wrong.

The young Sodan warrior.

The boy was little more than chel'tee with the down of childhood still upon his cheeks. The leather armor he wore was clearly not his own, and yet he'd had the courage to offer himself as bait so those he sought to protect might escape. As was the case with many in the village, the youth had been shot in his symbiote pouch.

He'd fallen while facing his enemy, as a true warrior should.

Teal'c did not have to check to know the symbiote was dead. Instead, he held his hand over the young man's mouth and nose, hoping to detect the faintest trace of life yet within him....

There was nothing.

A faint sound instantly brought his head up; a scavenger perhaps, but he doubted it. His instincts told him it was Volnek.

Teal'c carefully scanned the area while bringing his weapon up, searching the surroundings with all of his senses. Was it possible that Volnek's Sodan cloak had been modified, masking him from even those who wore the same? Such would explain--

A shifting of leaf litter; the snap of a dry twig....

He was diving aside even as pain seared his left arm, rolling away to come up in a crouch with his weapon ready. The ha'sak had attacked him from behind! He did not hesitate to return fire, registering even as he did that something was very wrong with Volnek.

The SAW M249 was not normally considered a weapon of accuracy amongst the Tauri, but Teal'c had no difficulty controlling it. Bullets riddled the other man's leather armor, piercing flesh and bone and forcing him back even before he must eventually fall. He was dead before he hit the ground.

Ignoring his own pain, Teal'c rose to eye the body. He must search it he knew in hopes of discovering the missing crystal to The Eye of the Gods, and yet.... Something was not right.

That had been too easy.

He frowned as he approached the other, realizing that Volnek's face was more than pale. There was evidence of decay! It was the face of someone who had been dead for several days, not mere moments. His leather armor clearly evinced where the bullets has struck him - as well as an older staff blast which should have killed him.

Yet there was no blood.

Dead white eyes suddenly snapped open, parchment like lips drew back to reveal half-rotten teeth-- Teal'c was moving even before the horror that had once been a man lifted his weapon to fire. The undead orak offered an inhuman growl as Teal'c quickly ran for the trees, knowing he had no chance against such a monster on his own.

Energy blasts cut the air past shoulders and hips, missing him by mere inches - but miss him they did. He continued sprinting into the forest, choosing the path of least resistance. That which might pursue did not move quickly. He headed north, away from the village - and the last known direction of the fleeing women and children. His trail was clear but he did not attempt to disguise it. Not yet. He must outdistance the evil that hunted him, then obliterate his trail before heading back to the Sodan village and he must do it quickly.

He had to get back to warn the others of the exact nature of the threat they faced. Together, they would devise a way to defeat it before any more lost their lives.
* * *

Part 29

It wasn't fair, Jason decided. Danny and Col. Carter had stuff to do. Dr. Lee was doing something. Danny's general uncle, had gone off to help their friends on another planet... Only Jason didn't have anything to do!

He was bored.

He'd given up hitting Dr. Lee. It was no fun if the other guy didn't feel anything ... but Col. Carter didn't like it when he started wandering around trying to touch other things.

Like he could really hurt himself or something! Even the general guy who'd left knew better. He'd said that was one of the reasons he could go to that other planet in the first place; because no matter what happened, he couldn't get hurt!

But Col. Carter still didn't want him wandering around and told him to sit down and just be patient. She said she knew it was hard but that they'd get it figured out as soon as they could.

She didn't know anything!

This was stupid. He plucked at his shoelace, pushing the long end down into the floor and then using his foot to pull it back out. He wondered if it was gravity that caused the resistance he felt? He'd watched a Discovery Channel special a while ago that said everything had 'mass' and that gravity and mass were related somehow, so maybe it was gravity that was holding his shoe string in the floor and not just friction.

He knew all about friction. They were building mini-gravity racers in science and in order to make them fast they had to reduce friction with them.

"Okay, Merlin is talking about the Ancients here," Danny suddenly piped up. "Apparently they wanted to stop him. He was working on something they didn't like, but he refused to listen. He says 'they are blind to the danger.'"

"'They're blind'?" Carter repeated with a confused frown.

Jason found himself listening despite the fact that he really didn't want to. It wasn't like they were going to explain anything if he asked something. He kicked his heel into the cement floor and wiggled it around, ignoring the cold chills that passed up his leg. Neither Carter nor Danny were paying any attention to him anyway, and Dr. Lee couldn't see him.

"Are you sure it doesn't say they're the ones who thought he was blind?" Carter asked, "seeing as they're the ones who wanted to stop him?"

"No," Daniel decided firmly. "He's saying they're blind. That they are fools not to recognize the danger." He turned back to her. "I think he's talking about the Ori."

"The Ori are blind?" she asked, confused.

Jason rolled his eyes, already knowing that wasn't what Danny had meant. Why didn't adults ever listen?

"No," Danny answered with an exaggerated sigh. "The Ori are the danger the Ancients are blind to! I think he was working on something to defeat them."

"You mean like a weapon?"

He nodded and reached out to turn the page again. "...I think so."
* * *

"What!" Ba'al was less-than-pleased, but the beautiful and cunning woman on the long range viewer managed to offer only a mild wince in the face of his anger.

"According to our mole, they were found and rescued last night," she continued calmly. "The other boy did not handle gate travel well and was sedated. Both children were kept in the infirmary overnight for observation and were released this morning. However, sometime before noon local time, they disappeared. Security is sweeping the base for both, as well as Lt. Col. Samantha Carter. Apparently she was supposed to be watching them."

Ba'al offered the information an irritated scowl. Typical incompetence. He'd practically handed the children back to the Tauri gift wrapped and in less than twenty-four hours they'd managed to lose them again!

Charlotte raised a perfectly arched eyebrow. "I take it from your reaction, this wasn't another move on our part I was unaware of?"

He shifted his attention back to the lovely blond who was currently his second in command on Earth. Apparently she was in a bit of a snit because he hadn't told her his plans when he snatched young Daniel Jackson and his little friend. No matter. He wasn't in the habit of keeping his minions informed of all his doings - even one as highly placed as she.

'Trust' was an ironic name for the organization he'd subverted to his own designs.

Actually ... he rather enjoyed her unmistakable ire. It was an obvious weakness to be exploited. He tucked the information away and allowed a small unamused smile in answer. "No," he replied simply.

Her mouth narrowed slightly but she managed to mask her irritation otherwise.

He didn't care if she was irritated or not, as long as she did what she was told.

Her demeanor remained carefully correct as she continued, though he knew perfectly well her mind raced with a scathing comment or two. "Our man is attempting to gain further information, however I've warned him not to endanger his position again the way he did when acquiring Dr. Jackson's medical files."

Ba'al nodded sagely, having recovered from his initial shock and analyzed the situation. "Wise," he decided. "Especially given that the disappearance is an obvious ruse."

Charlotte's eyes snapped in surprise, causing him to smile even more. She, like so many others of her ilk, was hopelessly vain. Such beauty had its price. The smallest trace of emotion was clearly displayed in her clear blue eyes and the smooth porcelain planes of her lovely face for anyone who knew how to see it.

She was an open book to him.

He graced his beautiful, if somewhat slow, assistant with a knowing smile. "I managed to snatch both boys up in broad daylight right from under their noses," he reminded her. "Literally."

His grin grew, imagining O'Neill's shocked reaction as he realized what had happened and just how easily the mighty SGC defenses had been brushed aside. Too bad the situation had precluded his being able to witness it.

He turned his attention back to matters at hand. "I'm quite certain they have the Odyssey monitoring Daniel Jackson's location 24/7. If he's on Earth, they know perfectly well where he is. Or off-world for that matter." He shrugged. "At the moment, his location is ultimately unimportant. Whatever game the SGC seeks to play will cease to exist once I've proven my ability to reverse the Ori attack on him."

"And have you?" Charlotte asked bluntly. "Proven it, that is."

He chuckled, wondering if she knew how lucky she was to be on Earth and so far out of his reach? She would not have dared such a thinly veiled challenge were they in the same room together.

"Soon, my dear," he answered obliquely. He allowed his eyes to flash in irritation so she might know the line she walked despite his smile. "Soon...."
* * *

Damn his stupid wrist. Cam felt useless. He hated not having anything to do in situations like this, but he hated it even more when he had nothing to do because he'd been injured. Uninjured, he'd have been out there with Teal'c, hunting whomever or whatever had slaughtered these people. Or at least helping MacKenzie patch up Hiakon and Conway. Or been able to help Hadden move the last of the bodies to the caves. But no. He was injured and he couldn't do any of that. Instead, he had to sit here, out on the porch, on guard duty.

Okay, it was needful duty; he knew that. It had been his decision after all. They still didn't know exactly what had happened here. The bad guys could always come calling again.

None of that made sitting here any easier to accept.

He really hoped Haikon would come around soon. They needed some answers. The idea that one man had done all of this was just too far fetched for his brain to wrap around. Evidence might point to only one attacker, but he knew there had to be something else going on here. And Volnek... Well, he was a bit of a stubborn cuss and Cam would never go so far as to call him a friend, unlike his brother--

Damn. Had Volnek killed Jolan, his own brother? It had been Jolan who taught Cam to fight like the Sodan; who'd patched him up and prepared him for Kel'shakq'lo, the Sodan ritual fight to the death; and then who'd helped him fake his death and escape.... Jolan had loved his brother, and Cam was pretty sure Volnek felt the same way. For the two to turn on each other was just wrong. So wrong! But he knew Jolan would have defended his people, even from his brother.

And Jolan would have been amongst the first to fall if Volnek really was behind all of this.

"Col. Mitchell?" MacKenzie suddenly called him from inside.

Cam quickly climbed to his feet and, after giving the surrounding countryside and blasted village another scan, made his way back around the corner and into the impromptu infirmary they'd set up. Hadden had returned only a few minutes earlier and stood up as Cam entered. MacKenzie was kneeling beside Conway but nodded toward Haikon. "He's waking up."

Finally! Cam quickly moved to kneel beside the Sodan leader's pallet and rested his hand on the stirring man's shoulder. "Haikon?"

Dark eyes shadowed with pain blinked up at him once again and focused. "You're still here," he sighed, wincing as he tried to sit up.

"Easy!" Cam pushed him gently back down. "We're safe. At least for now. You think you can tell us something more of what happened here? You said something about Volnek before...."

Haikon settled back and shook his head in despair. The story came out in bits and pieces. Apparently the trouble had started over a week ago when Volnek went to a neighboring world to get supplies. On the way back to the Stargate, he'd been stopped by a Prior.

Damn. Cam had known they had to be involved someway.

The Prior had claimed the Sodan had committed 'unforgivable treason' against the Ori and had promised 'great ill' would befall them. Then planted his staff.

Yeah, Cam had a good idea what that 'great ill' was....

Haikon then talked about Volnek's return. They'd taken the threat seriously but weren't prepared for the attack when it came. As Haikon had already told them, it came from Volnek. That damn Prior had done something to him.

For a second, Cam's blood ran cold. Haikon was describing something that sounded too damn much like a new Prior plague of some kind: Volnek becoming irrational, incoherent and literally frothing at the mouth. He'd fought them to the point they'd had to restrain him. Then yesterday - though Cam wasn't entirely sure Haikon was fully aware of the true passage of time - he'd broken his bonds and gone crazy.

"Our finest warriors attempted to subdue him, but he killed them all with very little effort. He then turned on everyone in sight," Haikon explained, confirming Cam's worst fears. "His own brother, Jolan, was killed in the carnage that followed. Women and children fled to the woods. Volnek followed them and slaughtered them all, without mercy."

The sound of a heavy boot on the porch had Cam and Hadden both spinning in place and bringing their weapons up, and MacKenzie reaching for his.

Haikon was fading again and didn't even notice. "To the best of my knowledge ... I am the only one to have survived," he sighed sadly.

Teal'c suddenly appeared, and paused momentarily to allow those within to sigh in relief and lower their weapons. "Not true, Haikon," he claimed as he moved forward again, coming to kneel at the Sodan leader's side. "I found evidence of several women and children who fled south. One of the group, a young man, succeeded in getting Volnek to follow him away from the others. He attempted an ambush well away from them, but failed. I too engaged Volnek and failed, but have managed to draw him yet further from those who fled. At least for the moment, his attention is focused elsewhere."

Hadden frowned at Teal'c's shoulder. "You're injured."

"It is a light wound," he answered dismissively.

A desperate hand suddenly gripped Teal'c's forearm even as its owner struggled to stay conscious. "You must go!" the Sodan leader begged them. "Find those who fled and escape while you still can!"

"Escape is impossible," Teal'c advised him. "Volnek has removed one of the control crystals from the Eye of the Gods. We must instead destroy Volnek before he kills again."

Haikon was shaking his head in despair. "Nothing can stop..."

"We have seen this evil before, Haikon," Teal'c told him firmly. "It can be stopped."

"We have?" Cam asked, wracking his brain for a mission report that would fit.

"On Earth," Teal'c answered. "Two years ago. Col. O'Neill, Dr. Jackson and Dr. Lee all described something very similar to what I just saw."

"...The Honduras mission!" Cam exclaimed, realizing immediately what Teal'c was talking about. "When Tel'chak's device turned that one guy into a zombie!"

"Zombie?!" Hadden echoed in surprise. Apparently, he hadn't read that mission report.

"Freaky walking-undead guy?" Cam supplied. "Some CIA Agent Burke or something had to shoot him with a grenade round to stop him, but even zombies don't get back up and walk around again after being blown into thousands of tiny red meaty bits."

Hadden winced slightly at the less-than-politically-correct description - even if he knew it was accurate. "So, we got to blow him up?" he asked simply.

"Indeed," Teal'c answered.

"'Cept we don't have any grenade rounds with us," Cam noted.

"Claymores," Hadden replied in verbal short-hand. "Plant two of them facing each other and run a trip wire between."

Yeah.... A bit over-kill, maybe, but it would get the job done. Cam nodded. "All we got to do then is lure him through the trap."

Hadden chuckled and shook his head. "You make it sound easy!"

Cam answered his chuckle with a smile of his own. "If I'd wanted 'easy' Major, I'd have never joined Stargate Command."
* * *

Part 30

P9G-844. At first glance, a rather typical world: forest, grass, distant mountains.... Jack had learned to stop complaining about the trees years ago. Planets without trees tended to be volcanic or ice covered or blazing hot deserts - not exactly vacation resorts. 'Course, planets with nice green boring trees could have their own unwelcome surprises as well - but this was hardly their first time here. No surprises - except for the bodies. Scavengers had been at them. Jack wasn't the only one to wince. Neither the Sodan nor SG-12 had been back to see to them. 'Bad sign....

Damn but he felt naked without a weapon!

Reynolds' and Raimi's men knew their jobs and spread out with silent efficiency, scanning the area on full combat alert. The bodies were given no more than a cursory glance to confirm they were dead before Reynolds signaled Penhall to take point and the extraction team was moving out for SG-12's last known location, The Eye of the Gods. The pace was brisk and Jack was suddenly very grateful not to be carrying a backpack.

He took the opportunity to observe everyone. Reynolds was a good man; 2IC at the SGC. He'd inherited the spot when Jack was promoted to command of the SGC and continued to fill the role admirably according to Hank - 'though the colonel much preferred being in the field to having to juggle the daily logistics and paperwork that went with his responsibilities on base.

Jack could sympathize.

He didn't know much about Raimi. Unlike Reynolds, he was fairly new. Jack was sure he'd read the guy's jacket at sometime but couldn't remember any details off the top of his head. He looked damn young to be a full bird.

Jack didn't know most of the others, except Balinski. The red head reminded him too damn much of a younger Daniel - that is, when Daniel had first started with the program, not the five year old Daniel. Jack wasn't sure what the hell Balinski was doing on the extraction team - save one never knew when an egghead might come in handy! Jack had learned that lesson quite well.

Balinski had been with the program over three years now, having started out on SG-13 before transferring to SG-22. It was just a better fit. 13 was a exploratory and first contact team; 22 more a back up and geological survey team. Apparently, he was quite good at archeology but not so hot at linguists, and Dixon hadn't had a lot of patience with the boy's enthusiasm over mineral samples.

Jack just hoped Balinski could shoot straight.

They made it to The Eye of the Gods without incident or spotting any more bodies. Jack awarded the twenty foot tall obelisk only a glance before eying the deceptively peaceful forest around them.

"Check it out first," Reynolds ordered, nodding at Balinski.

Ah, so that was why he was here: to read the Ancient scribblings - not that reading it had helped Danny the first time they came across it. What had it said? Jack frowned up at the thing. Something about enlightenment, if he remembered right. "Why can't it say something useful like 'this way to the Sodan' or 'Danger! Ambush ahead!' he quipped to no one but himself.

Balinski managed to pry one of the side panels open to reveal rather typical looking Ancient crystal circuitry. Jack stepped forward for a closer look only to have the scientist step to the side and directly into him.

"Whoa!" he exclaimed, jumping back. "Watch it, will ya?" That had felt weird, more than weird actually.

Balinski shook his head after a short moment. "If these things came with a manual, I might actually be able to tell you something..." he muttered.

Reynolds heard him and lifted a brow. "Any burnt or missing crystals?" he asked curtly.

Balinski again shook his head. "I don't see anything, but then I'm not Col. Carter."

"Who is?" Jack asked facetiously - only to award his own question a rather dubious frown. It didn't even make sense to him. He shrugged it off and watched Balinski slide the panel closed as Reynolds keyed his handset.

"SG-3 to SG-12, come in, over." None of them expected an answer from this side of the obelisk, but he still had to try. "Sierra Golf one-niner, this is Sierra Golf three-niner, over."


Reynolds dropped his hand and offered the other members of the two teams a grim look. "Look sharp. We're going in hot." In other words, they could be walking into a trap. Jack knew they had no way of knowing what had happened to the others after they activated The Eye of the Gods.

Jack watched helplessly as the men dropped into a variation of the tight ring defense the SGC had developed for transporting aboard motherships. With eight people, it was two tiered; the inner ring standing back to back and the outer ring kneeling. Balinski was the odd man out, standing by the obelisk. He gripped his weapon nervously and waited for Reynolds' order.

With only a quick glance to make sure his men were ready, Reynolds gave a nod and the eight member extraction team - plus one - disappeared in a bright flash of light.

* * *

The text was starting to get all technical on him again. Danny scowled down at his notebook before glancing back up at the glowing display. He could spend days translating this stuff and it would still be meaningless as far as he was concerned. "I wish you understood Ancient," he muttered.

"Neither of us have had time for you to teach me," Sam answered, giving his shoulders a comforting squeeze from where she knelt behind him before reaching beyond him to point at part of the display. She might not understand Ancient, but she did speak 'math' and had managed to pick up the Ancient numbering system somewhere along the way. The symbols they used to indicate various mathematical functions were another story, but the numerical manipulations that resulted helped her - 'course, she had to translate it all into base eight math first, but... "This looks like it could be an algorithm for energy conversion."

Daniel glanced at the area and shrugged. He had no idea what the math meant but Sam's analysis seemed to match what he was reading elsewhere. "It was definitely a weapon," he decided, then had to correct himself. "Not this." He quickly indicated the device they were working on. "This is just a database of his research. Apparently he was working on a device capable of destroying Ascended beings. Merlin was afraid the Others would try to stop him and created this device so he could hide his research by shifting it to another dimension."

"Capable of destroying Ascended beings?" she echoed in surprise. "No wonder he thought they might want to stop him!"

Danny offered a one shoulder shrug and went back to translating. Sam was right: the more he did it, the easier it was becoming.

She offered the display a pensive frown. "He would have had to retake human form to shift dimensions, wouldn't he?"

"Probably." Again Danny shrugged. Most certainly, he knew, but he was reticent even with Sam to reveal just how much of his time as an Ascended he could now remember if he tried. There were still holes in his memory - huge holes! - but he instinctively knew that time was dangerous and didn't even like thinking about it.

Sam shook her head in both confusion and awe. "How do you fight an Ascended being, let alone a whole group of them? You're sure it wasn't a - I don't know ... a transdimensional shield or something?"

"No." He shook his own head grimly. "It was a weapon. And it looks like he finished it, right here on Earth ... but he then had to move it." Danny deftly reached up to tap part of the display and change the page. It flickered and shifted.

Sam decided to take that momentary pause to glance over and check on Jason. All she saw was Dr. Lee who was still busy frowning over his own laptop. "Jason?" she called, glancing around in mounting alarm as she realized she couldn't see him. He'd been sitting on the ground by Bill playing with his shoes and fighting not to ... fighting not to die of boredom!

Oh shit! A kid and boredom was a dangerous mix. Even she knew that!

"Jason!" She yelled, jumping to her feet. Why couldn't he have just curled up and taken a nap or something?

Danny was staring up at her from the ground as he too realized his friend had disappeared. "He probably went to find his mother," he suggested.

Sam agreed even as seven glowing symbols among the new page of Ancient text caught her eye. "I don't need to read Ancient to know what that is."

Danny glanced back at the display. "A gate address to where Merlin hid the weapon...."

As incredibly important as they both knew that was, finding Jason took priority. "Okay, memorize that," Sam ordered, pointing to the address, "then I want you to turn your attention to finding a way to get us back to our own dimension. We can always come back and study the information again later. I'm going to find Jason." And hope like crazy he hadn't managed to find a way to hurt himself despite being out of phase!

Danny bit his lip and watched her head for the door.

"Don't leave this room!" she called back even as she hurried away. "I don't want to have to go looking for you too."
* * *

Part 31

They were met with silence even as the Eye of the God's deposited them into the midst of a deciduous forest. The trees were narrow and young, and the underbrush sparse. SG-3 and 22 (plus one) scanned their surroundings carefully, but this was not a good spot for an ambush.

Unless you had a Sodan cloak of course, Jack corrected the thought!

They held their breaths and listened, but no attack was forthcoming. Instead, the birds slowly started up their routine songs again, announcing that all was back to normal after the strangers' arrival. As the others relaxed slightly and started to straighten, Jack scanned the ground. There were traces of boot prints - easily identified as US military - but someone had made a hasty attempt to brush some of them out. It didn't look like that someone wanted to prevent their presence from being known as much as....

Jack followed the poorly disguised trail to a small mound of dirt and leaves about twenty-five feet from the Eye of the Gods. He wasn't in Teal'c's league when it came to tracking - the Jaffa had more than a few years combat experience on him (more like lifetimes) but Jack hadn't completely forgotten his Black Ops training. He could recognize a hastily dug and disguised grave. A small red stick had been partially hidden at one end. The tiny marker was carefully nondescript to prevent easy identification unless you already knew what it meant.

"One of ours," he sighed and offered a silent curse as he glanced around again more carefully. There were no obvious signs of signs of battle ... which meant it had probably been a sniper shot.

And Jack had no way to warn the others.

Reynolds and his men were more concerned about defending against possible attack than noticing the sign that had caught Jack's attention. As the normal sounds of the forest continued uninterrupted, the commander of SG-3 reached up and keyed his radio.

"SG-3 to SG-12, come in; over." He kept it short and simple. The phrasing wasn't normal protocol for Earth, but they weren't on Earth. The SGC had developed their own procedures for off-world situations. The shorter the call, the less likely an enemy was to catch it.

Jack could only hope the sniper was long gone and not making his own quiet report of their arrival.

Reynolds waited to a count of ten before he tried again. "SG-3 to any member of SG-12, respond; over."

Nothing. Not even a double-click to acknowledge and request radio silence.

With a grim look, Reynolds dropped his hand then issued a series of swift silent orders by hand sign. Penhall took point and the others spread out as they turned to head for the Sodan village.

Jack had to jog to catch up, half-expecting a shot to come out of nowhere to take one of them out - but, if there was a sniper still around, he apparently didn't like the odds. One shot and his general vicinity would become a target zone. Smart.

An ambush would be more effective.

Jack continued to hope the attacker was gone and fell into step with Reynolds, wondering what the heck he was going to do if all hell broke loose!
* * *

Sam was definitely less-than-happy at the moment. What she wouldn't give to be able to start this day over again! Unfortunately the only way she knew to do that was the time loop machine Jack and Teal'c had gotten trapped in a few years back; it had been deemed too dangerous to play with and subsequently destroyed. She blew out a tired breath. She had absolutely no idea where Jason could have gotten too, save it was most likely he was looking for his mother. The last place they'd seen her was Gen. Landry's office. Sam was quite sure she wasn't there anymore, but Jason wouldn't be aware of that.

'Course Jason was as trapped as she was on this level unless he could catch a ride with someone on the elevator, so that was her first stop. There was at least a chance he'd still be--

"Jason!" she shouted as she rounded the corner heading for the main elevator. Sure enough, there he was impatiently waiting for someone to come by who needed to use the lift. He didn't know about the secondary shafts.

He turned, saw her and panicked. "No!" he shouted back. "I want my mom!" He turned away and started to force himself through the heavily armored and reinforced doors. It wasn't like moving through a regular door, Sam knew, but he could still manage it - the problem was, he didn't know what was on the other side.

Sam glanced at the display above the door and did.

The lift was up on 11 and heading down. If Jason forced himself through, he'd fall ten stories to the base of the shaft where either his kinetic energy would send him plunging into the rocky depths beneath the base - without air; or he'd be stopped by the combined mass of the reinforced steel and concrete on the bottom - in which case, he might as well not be out of phase!

And even if he didn't force himself all the way through the door and fall, he was in danger from the lift. If it didn't stop before 19, the hurtling mass would cut him in half!

Sam threw herself down the hall, knowing she had to pull him out of that door before it was too late!
* * *

The village had been razed - or pretty much so. SG-3 and 22 (plus one) paused as they rounded the path and saw the destruction in the distance. There were still a few tiny wisps of smoke raising here and there, but it was evident whatever had caused it had occurred some time ago. No sound of continued combat or cries for help were carried on the warm mid-afternoon breeze. Whatever had happened here had been swift and devastating....

"Smoldering..." Raimi noted as both he and Reynolds joined Penhall where the point man had signaled the halt to assess the situation before continuing. They didn't want to walk into whatever trap or situation the previous team had fallen victim to.

Jack had to step aside again when Reynolds stepped into him. Damn but that was disconcerting! As a two star general, he'd gotten used to everyone stepping out of his way, not the other way 'round. Being out of phase definitely had its drawbacks.

"'Probably happened last night," Penhall decided softly, scanning the area ahead for any sign of movement.

Reynolds shook his head. "This morning," he decided definitively. "Early. 'Day's longer here."

"How long?" one of the other team members Jack didn't know spoke up. The others had moved forward to join their team leaders.

"A little over thirty-five hours," Balinski answered quietly. Reynolds and Raimi ignored the exchange.

"Still had to be before SG-12, Teal'c and Mitchell got here," Raimi offered.

Or about the same time, Jack amended. They knew the Sodan had been under attack when they sent their call for help. It was just possible the team sent to assist them had gotten caught up in the tail end of whatever had happened - though Jack had to agree with Raimi that the majority of the attack must have happened a few hours before.

He noted there was no evidence of ground troops or aerial bombardment, at least from this approach.... He frowned; there were only a few carrion birds flying over head, but they weren't circling. They were performing more of a search pattern, meaning they smelled blood but couldn't find any dead. It was impossible to imagine there'd been no casualties here, so either the bodies had been destroyed or moved.

Indicating possible survivors.

Reynolds lifted his hand to point toward the base of a small rise which held the remains of a large wooden structure. Jack decided it was probably the Sodan version of a palace or something.

"'Should be some caves below the Council Chambers," Reynolds allowed. "They might be holed up there with any survivors."

"A sizable metal deposit within that hill would also explain why we haven't been able to raise them on the radios," Balinski added, reaching for his mike.

Reynolds intercepted the move and shook his head. "We maintain radio silence until after we check out the village."

It was the same call Jack would have made in his place. They'd already attempted radio contact this side of the Sodan transporter and failed. If the original rescue team were being held captive, attempting to contact them again now could well reveal the extraction team's position. No, they needed to determine exactly what had happened here before they made another radio attempt.

"Wanna split up and flank 'em from the sides?" Raimi suggested.

Reynolds eyed the birds over head, probably drawing the same conclusions Jack already had, and shook his head. "We stick to the path. Doesn't look like the attackers stuck around and I don't want to surprise any survivors by sneaking up on them. They'd just hide even more."

That was not the call Jack would have made! "Ever heard of an ambush!?" he asked the other man - unfortunately no one could hear him.

"But spread out," Reynolds amended. "We'll move forward in a staggered loose wedge. If there are any bad guys around, I don't want them to have a clean target."

That at least made sense, though Jack would have split the squad and advanced in a modified bounding formation. Apparently Reynolds thought such a tactic would appear too aggressive and scare any survivors.... It was Reynolds' command and Reynolds' call. Jack didn't have the right to second guess the man - unless everything went to hell in a hand basket, in which case it would be Jack's job to assess what went wrong where.

"Look smart people," Reynolds ordered and, with a few sharp gestures to deploy his men where he wanted, he took point to lead them into the village. Jack shook his head but fell into step beside him.
* * *

Part 32

Sam managed to skid to a halt before she hit the doors and lost herself in a situation where she would be as endangered as Jason. How she stopped, she couldn't say. The floor was as spongy as ever, and given her momentum and sudden shift of weight--

Stop thinking and get him out of there!

Jason was halfway through the reinforced, armored doors of the main elevator and starting to flounder as she latched onto his elbow and pulled. The hand she braced against the door beside him sank into the metal in almost equal measure as she struggled to pull the boy back. The point of resistance was too small. She felt her hand break through the other side even as she twisted her body and fought to place her back against the door, thus increasing the surface area and her leverage.

At least Jason wasn't fighting her anymore. If anything he was trying to help, fighting to back pedal. Sam could feel the rumble of the lift as it hurtled downward. Twisting harder, she put all of her strength and weight into pulling the struggling six year old from the grip of the quicksand-like metal. She felt herself start to sink into the doors but didn't stop, ignoring her own precarious situation as the boy finally started to slip back and free....
* * *

Bill Lee continued to mutter and mumble to himself behind Danny as Danny tried to work. He really wished he could tell Bill to stop it - not the work on his lap top, of course, but the muttering. It was quite distracting.

"Ah, ha!" the scientist exclaimed, drawing Danny's attention yet again. The white coated man then frowned at his screen and slumped. "No, that's not it."

Shaking his head, Danny turned back to the ancient device before him and fought to concentrate ... only to have an unknown sound from outside the lab derail his efforts. Landry hadn't closed the door fully when he left last time. Danny sighed even as it got louder, noting with a confused frown that Bill didn't seem to hear it - and then he suddenly recognized it: Jason was screaming. The older boy burst through the partly open door in an obvious panic.

"Danny!" he exclaimed. "She's hurt! She's hurt bad!"

"Sam?" Danny jumped to his feet, feeling fear touch his heart. But they couldn't be hurt while they were out of phase - could they?

"She-- I was-- At the elevator. I tried to go through but it wasn't there and then she grabbed me and--"

Danny grabbed him in passing even as he forced himself through the lab door and started to race toward the main elevator shaft. He didn't know what Jason was talking about except that Sam was hurt and it had happened at the elevators. He didn't waste time trying to figure it out.

"I didn't know what to do!" Jason exclaimed even as they ran. "You said you were a doctor, right? Doctor Jackson, right?"

"Not that kind of doctor," Danny answered as he continued to run. He knew too well it didn't matter. Being out of phase meant there was no one else to help them if something went wrong. How could Sam have gotten hurt? He hoped it wasn't as bad as Jason was making it out to be.

He skidded around the corner and saw her sitting against the wall, fumbling at her waist. "Sam!"

His heart missed a beat as she glanced up and he saw how pale she was. And then he saw the spreading pool of blood at her side and-- He stumbled to a halt beside her and dropped to his knees. "Oh god!"

Her left hand was gone.

"...Belt," Sam told him with a shudder. "...Tourniquet."

Right. That was what she'd been fumbling at her waist for, trying to remove her belt to make a tourniquet. She'd managed to pull it half-way free. He quickly caught up the loose end and pulled it the rest of the way out of the pant loops.

"Hey! Hey!!!" Jason was jumping up and down, trying to get a passing airman's attention. "We need help!"

But the airman couldn't see or hear them.

Danny knew what to do, but his hands were too small and shaking. He nearly dropped the belt before he could thread the end through the clasp again to make a loop!

"Danny...." Sam placed her good hand on his shoulder. He glanced up in surprise. "You can do this," she assured him softly.

Swallowing around a tight throat, he took a deep breath to calm his nerves and nodded. Panicking wasn't going to help her. He knew what to do. He'd learned it a long time ago.

Quickly, he glanced back down again and forced his hands to do what he wanted. Creating a loop with the belt, he slipped it over her forearm and adjusted it so he had about three inches of play. The military belt clasp wasn't going to be strong enough to just tighten down and hold everything in place. It was one of those ratchet things that had a habit of popping free if you put too much force on it.

"Somebody help us!" Jason was pleading to empty air now, glancing around and desperately trying to find anyone else who could help.

Danny ignored him. He needed something to act as a handle. He patted his pockets and came up with a pen.

Sam shook her head and fumbled in a pocket. "Not strong enough," she gasped even as he started to use it as a screw point. He knew she was on the verge of passing out. Shock was setting in. Despite that, she still managed to produce a pocket knife. It was one of those big Leatherman-type things that had a pair of pliers and screwdriver tips and was made of steel. He ignored the slippery feel of blood on his hands as he took it, quickly replaced the pen and started tightening the tourniquet down properly. It only took a few turns before the bleeding began to slow. Another half twist and the worst of it stopped. Now he had to secure the handle.

Sam's hand suddenly came to rest over his and he glanced up. "Thank you," she said simply.

He was frightened at how pale she was but didn't want to show it. Instead, he concentrated on what he had to do. "Not done yet," he answered simply, refusing to release the handle to her control and realizing he was going to need help to secure it.

"Oh god, oh god!!!"

Danny glanced up and finally caught Jason's panic-stricken eyes. The older boy had no idea what to do or how to help. "I need a shoe lace," Danny told him calmly.

The other boy blinked in obvious confusion as if certain Danny must be speaking another language.

"I need one of your shoe laces," he repeated. He wanted to yell at Jason to get it together but knew that would only make things worse.


"Your shoe lace." He nodded at the boy's feet. "We need to secure the tourniquet in place. Give me your shoe lace."

For a long moment, Jason looked like he still didn't understand ... and then he sat down and started to unlace his shoes.

"It's okay Jason," Sam sighed, adding her own quite whisper to help Danny calm the other boy down. "It's going to be fine. Do what Danny says."

"I thought you weren't that kind of doctor?" Jason managed to offer shakily as he tore at his laces and tried to work them free. At least he managed not to get them in a knot first.

"I'm not," Danny answered, "but I know how to make a tourniquet."

The older boy finally got the lace free and offered it up.

Danny looked at Sam but her eyes were closed. He wasn't sure if she was still conscious or not. He couldn't let go of the handle to take the shoe string. "I need your help," he said, turning back to Jason. "You need to tie it over the end of the handle just above my hands so it won't unwind when I let it go."

"Why didn't you just make a knot?" Jason asked, even as he hesitated.

Danny wasn't sure if the other boy was afraid of hurting Sam, or if the sight of all the blood and everything was still getting to him. Danny didn't even think Jason knew he was crying. "Twisting works better and creates more pressure to stop the bleeding," he explained, praying the boy would stay calm and not go tearing off to try and find non-existent help. "But if I let go, it'll unwind. That's why I need you to tie the shoe lace around her arm and the handle. So it won't come undone."

Jason swallowed but forced himself to nod. The panic was receding even if the upset wasn't. "She's still bleeding," he noted, making no move to tie the shoe lace in place.

"Just a little," Danny agreed. It was the bone marrow from the broken and mangled ends of her radius and ulna that was leaking. "We'll make a pressure bandage when we get the tourniquet secure. I need you to secure it."

Again, Jason swallowed and forced himself to nod, but this time he actually knelt down beside Danny. He still hesitated to touch Sam. "What do I do?" he asked.

Danny managed to talk him through the procedure without having him freak out; and when Danny finally let go of the tourniquet handle, it only turned a little bit out of position before stopping. Sam hadn't moved throughout it. Swallowing, he forced himself to reach up and place bloody fingers against her throat, checking her pulse.

"Is she...." Jason's voice edged slightly higher in fear again.

"She alive," Danny assured him. "But she's hurt bad. She needs a doctor."

"But...." Jason glanced around them hopelessly even as an airman suddenly stepped from the elevator beside them and walked right through Sam's legs. The fact that they were on their own was painfully evident.

"We need to get her in the rescue position, then do a pressure bandage and then I have to get back to the device," Danny decided. "I have to get us back to our own dimension so the doctors here can help her."

"And if you can't?"

Danny refused to think about watching Sam die from shock or infection. "I can," he stated emphatically. "And I will."

He just had to figure out how.
* * *

Part 33

"SG-22, establish defensive perimeter," Reynolds called out as they entered the village proper. "SG-3, stick close."

Bad choice of words there, Jack thought - it was a little hard to establish a full defensive perimeter around a small village with only four men - but three quarters of SG-22 seemed to understand anyway. They fell back and spread out into the surrounding cover to secure the road way and escape route if needed. Raimi continued forward with Reynolds.

Jack frowned down at the ground, easily making out the clear impression of US military boots leading into the village. SG-12, with Teal'c and Mitchell. They hadn't been running. He glanced up and around. Still no sign of ground troops or aerial bombardment. This was definitely starting to look like the work of a Prior. Maybe some kind of mass rabies-like disease or--

He wanted to hit Reynolds upside the head and tell them all to don MOPP gear but he couldn't. All he could do was hope that whatever the Prior had done wasn't persistent.

Jack had to wonder if being out of phase would keep him from getting infected?

As they continued forward, he could see where bodies had been, blood staining the ground that had been wet when they fell. It was still quite damp and held hundreds of prints going in every direction. There'd been panic here....

Sound and movement to their right had Reynolds and his men whipping their weapons up and around only to discover they were facing Mitchell, Teal'c and Maj. Hadden. The weapons were instantly lowered as each team recognized the other.

"Mitchell," Reynolds immediately challenged the ranking officer and presumptive head of the team they'd been sent to rescue. "What the hell happened? Why haven't you checked in?"

Mitchell grimaced unhappily.

"The Eye of the Gods has been damaged," Teal'c answered concisely in his stead. "We are trapped here."

"And now so are you," Hadden added with a weary sigh.

"Trapped?" Jack didn't like the sound of that....

Reynolds looked none too happy either. "It worked fine when we arrived."

"Oh, you you can get in," Mitchell explained helpfully. "You just can't get back out. Kinda reminds me of a fish trap my granddaddy used to.... Never mind," He quickly dismissed whatever analogy he'd been about to draw. "Volnek went and stole one of the control crystals on this side. Without it, the Eye of the Gods is a one way trip."

"Zombie Volnek," Hadden clarified.

"Zombie?" Balinski echoed in surprise.

Unfortunately Jack saw that none of the men were joking. "Please tell me it's just the one and we aren't dealing with a 'Dawn of the Dead' type thing here?" he demanded - not that anyone could hear him.

Mitchell just nodded. "Come on," he gestured Reynolds to join them in the half-fallen structure they were apparently using for shelter. "We've got a lot to discuss."

"Ya think?" Jack sighed as he waited for the last of the men to file through the door so he wouldn't get stepped 'in.'
* * *

Danny flung himself into the room and back in front of the device. Dr. Lee still sat muttering quietly in front of his laptop, completely unaware of the urgency their situation had suddenly developed. Jason was sitting with Sam back at the elevator. They'd managed to get her lying down and elevate her feet a few inches by propping them against the wall. Danny and Jason had both given up their light jackets. One was draped over her stomach and chest, and the other was tucked around her head. It wasn't much, but it was all they could do to try and keep her warm. And Jason was keeping her arm propped up on her chest, so it was elevated above her heart.

Danny had used his own bright blue t-shirt to try and fashion some semblance of a pressure bandage, but it wasn't much and he knew she was still bleeding even if it was much slower than before.

She needed a doctor!

Danny sniffed and forced the urge to cry away. There'd be time enough for letting go when he'd managed to get them back into the proper dimension. He turned his mind back to the puzzle of the Ancient script and forced himself to concentrate.

Large parts of it were nothing more than incomprehensible scribblings as far as he was concerned. He was having to waste time trying to randomly jump from one section to another. There was no simple index he could perform a search function on. Merlin hadn't been worried about organizing his research so someone else could read it.

The problem was, Danny needed to understand what he was reading; not just translate it.

He was pretty sure there was a part of his brain that knew exactly what Merlin's notes were talking about. It was like a niggling little itch at the back of his mind he couldn't scratch. He'd been ascended. He'd had all the knowledge of the Ancients within his grasp. Parts of that knowledge remained - and more. It wasn't so long ago those memories had nearly killed him and his ascended-self had been drawn to travel through time to help him. Now, all that vast knowledge was shut away and he didn't know how to access it. It was still there and occasionally he'd get glimpses of it, little insights and understandings that he shouldn't possess, but he couldn't control it. Sam couldn't wait for a flash of understanding that might or might not ever come!

He wished Jack were here. No, he couldn't have read the Ancient script, but Jack would have been better and faster at taking care of Sam. She wouldn't have lost so much blood--

Danny's hands suddenly froze before the holographic page. If he did manage to get them back to their right dimension, what would happen to Jack? Were they all linked to the device somehow so it wouldn't matter where Jack was when the process was reversed, or was it only a 'localized effect' like had originally brought them here to begin with?

He could be trapped.

Jack had promised to gate back when the extraction team checked in, but Danny couldn't wait; he had to solve this now. At least Jack would still be alive. They could always go back out of phase and get him if they needed to.

Worrying about it wasn't helping Sam. He had to concentrate and figure this out. He had to get them back to their right dimension!

Okay, he'd found what looked like a master page.

...And there was something on here about phase controls - or was it 'power regulation'? The two seemed to be tied together somehow. Which sort of made sense. Phasing had something to do with String Theory and the vibration frequency of an object's atoms ... or something. Danny had a vague memory of Sam trying to explain it to him once and trying to look like he was interested.

He wished now he'd actually paid attention.

There were definitely instructions here relating to the keyboard....
* * *

Part 34

"You know," Jack sighed as he walked beside his friend, "these Ori are really starting to tick me off."

Teal'c was completely oblivious to his presence, of course. Jack wasn't sure why he'd decided on hiking along with the Jaffa save that he couldn't let him go off on what sounded like a damn suicide mission without some kind of back up - even if that's what the guy wanted and that back up was completely incorporeal at the moment.

The claymores had been set and the SG teams assigned perimeter positions. It was Teal'c's job to hunt Volnek down again and lure him into the trap. The problem was that the blast radius of 2 claymores placed 15 feet apart and facing each other was huge! Each one had a kill radius of 50 meters in a 60 degree arc. Teal'c only needed to be about 5 feet ahead of Volnek to be outside the trajectory of most of the shrapnel when the trap was triggered, but the concussive force of the blast was another matter. The recommended safe range was over 100 meters.

Behind the claymore.

If the trap failed or Volnek actually made it out of the blast radius alive, the rest of the SG team members were ordered to open up with everything they had. Bullets alone wouldn't do it. They'd be lobbing grenades and to hell with wherever Teal'c happened to be at the time. The only way to stop Volnek was to destroy his body completely.

Beside him, Teal'c paused, eying a broken twig. Sap was still oozing out, so it was fresh. Jack watched as he reached up and tapped the Sodan cloaking device he'd strapped to his forearm. It apparently wasn't working. There was a weird shimmer for a moment, but he didn't disappear.

Great! Just what this mission needed: something else to go wrong. Jack shook his head in dismay. "I'm making grenade and/or incendiary rounds mandatory for all combat teams when this is done," he decided.

"A wise precaution," Teal'c replied quietly, "'though you should expect arguments from team commanders regarding the additional weight."

Jack did a sharp double-take. "Tee?" he exclaimed in surprise.

Teal'c's hand shot up in a fist, to signal a warning. "Our quarry is close," he offered quietly. In other words, keep your voice down and don't betray our position.

"You can see me?" Jack demanded in a hiss.

"See and hear." The Jaffa awarded his friend an a irritated frown before turning his attention back outward.

Jack got the message and took cover beside him - then reached out to swipe a hand through Teal'c's back. The other man never even noticed. Apparently the Sodan device had worked after all and in doing so brought Teal'c into a dimension that at least overlapped with Jack's. Teal'c would be able to touch things in the regular world, whereas Jack--

"I'm more out of phase than you are!" he suddenly realized, 'though he suspected Carter would offer some sort of complaint about what he'd just said. Still, he managed to win another momentary glance from Teal'c. "I can't touch anything," he explained quietly. "Which means nothing can touch me - including Volnek. If I draw him into the trap rather than you, I can stand on top of a claymore when the damn thing goes off and not get hurt!"

Teal'c offered him a concerned frown even as he quickly absorbed what his friend had said. "You are certain you cannot be injured, O'Neill?"

Jack shrugged. He was definitely more out of phase than Teal'c. "Take your best shot."

The Jaffa didn't even hesitate. He delivered a vicious backhand that would have sent Jack flying a good ten feet - had it connected.

Jack smiled and shrugged again. "That tickled."

"The fact you felt anything concerns me."

"I was joking!" Jack claimed. Okay, so he was lying. It had tickled; he was still a far safer choice for this mission than the Jaffa.

Teal'c was not one to debate what was basically common sense. He took Jack's assurance - and the evidence of his own attempted strike – at face value and bowed to the other man's superior plan. "I will rejoin the others and await your return with Volnek. He should be no more than a few hundred yards ahead, likely resting beside the stream I hear - else he would have heard our conversation and come to investigate."

"'Don't know about that," Jack answered with a scowl for the forest ahead. Concentrating, he could just make out the gentle gurgle of the stream Teal'c had already identified. "His body's dead, even if it's still walking around. The rot might have reached his eardrums by now."

As jokes went, it was a bit lame; but it did serve to underscore the idea that this guy wasn't invincible. Given long enough, he'd probably just fall apart - literally - Ori magic spell not-with-standing.

Unfortunately, they couldn't wait that long.

"Good luck, O'Neill." Teal'c rose without further comment and turned to head back the way they'd come.

Jack nodded and turned to where Volnek should be waiting for him. He needed to give Teal'c a minute to get away ... then it would be time to start playing cat and mouse, or mouse and cat as it were!

So much for Carter's prediction that he wouldn't be able to help. It was a good thing he hadn't listened to her.
* * *

Swallowing nervously and offering up a quick prayer, Danny started tapping the keys of the device in sequence. The soft clicking caught Bill Lee's attention and he turned to catch the keyboard's actions. "Sam?" he asked hesitantly, apparently surprised she hadn't made an effort to tell him whatever it was she was going to try.

Of course, it wasn't Sam doing it, but he didn't know that!

Danny pressed the last key and held his breath.

The display above the keyboard suddenly began to flicker and an alarm on Bill's laptop sounded. "Uh oh," Danny offered, knowing he must have done something wrong.

"Uh oh," Bill unknowingly echoed. He turned to his laptop even as Danny frantically scanned the flickering display. It was too messed up for him to be able to make out!

"Oh no, not good..." Bill definitely sounded concerned as he began to quickly type in some commands of his own. "...Definitely not good."

A moment later, the white coated scientist hit enter and the display stabilized again. The alarm on the laptop fell silent.

"Okay," Bill sighed, reading his own screen, "still not good. Sam, I don't know what you just did, but don't do it again. Okay?" And then he was reaching for his phone. "Um, hello. This is Doctor Lee. I, um, I'd like to speak with General Landry, please. Yeah, it's a bit of an emergency...."

Danny bit his lip and fought not to cry as he stared up at the display above the device where a red light had begun to flash, wondering if he'd just done something to get them all killed.
* * *

Part 35

Volnek was not resting beside the stream as Teal'c had surmised, instead he'd continued along upstream, apparently looking for a place to cross - though why crossing should be a problem, Jack couldn't guess. The tiny brook was no more than a few inches deep and maybe five feet across. It wasn't even flowing that fast!

But apparently, Volnek didn't like it.

Interesting.... Wasn't it vampires from Earth mythology who couldn't cross running water, not zombies? Oh, well. Jack shrugged, storing the tidbit away to discuss with Danny later, and made his way further upstream to get ahead of his prey - not too far....

He found a tree he liked beside the babbling brook and leaned back against it, crossing his arms as he waited for his enemy to appear. He didn't have to wait long. Volnek pushed his way through the underbrush beside the stream and offered the water an angry growl, far more interested in it than he was of anything in front of him.

Too bad Jack didn't have a way to set up a claymore charge right here!

"Hey there!" the imp in Jack called out, unable to resist the urge to bait the guy. It'd been too long since he'd had this kind of opportunity. Volnek finally glanced up and Jack got his first good look at him.

Ewee ! Talk about ugly!

He dismissed the thought and got on with what he was here to do. "'Know any good fishing spots around here?" he asked casually. "'Maybe some rainbow trout or cut throat bass, that sort of thing?"

The ... thing that had once been a Sodan warrior offered another of those quiet growls as he lifted his staff weapon and fired. Jack didn't even try to get out of the way. Not an easy thing to do. He knew he was out of phase and couldn't -- <i>probably</i> couldn't be hurt, but standing still while someone took a pot shot at him with a deadly weapon wasn't exactly the sort of thing he'd been trained to do! That 'probably' was a nagging unknown that he didn't like but had to ignore. The plasma blast past through his torso and blasted the tree behind him. He grabbed at his chest for dramatic effect - okay, that didn't exactly tickle! It didn't hurt either, but there was a definite tingle to it that was anything but pleasant. He dropped his hand and was secretly relieved to find no scorch mark or hole. Lifting his head, he offered the zombie a frown. "Have you changed the batteries in that thing lately?"

Volnek cocked his head to the side in obvious confusion and then gave Jack a smile that was right out of a dentist's worst nightmare! Apparently he'd been looking for a challenge and Jack had just handed it to him.

Phase 1 complete: offer the bait. Now for phase 2: getting him to take the bait.

This time when Volnek lifted his weapon, Jack moved - and moved quickly, avoiding the shot and those that followed as he plunged back into the forest. "You need some time on the practice range there, son!" he called back, pleased to hear an answering roar of anger and the sound of crashing footfalls as the monster at his back gave chase.
* * *

"What's going on?" Landry demanded, appearing in the small lab and looking less than pleased with Dr. Lee.

"Ah, apparently Col. Carter was attempting to make some sort of adjustment to the device from her side at the same time I was adjusting the algorithm she used to access it from this side and...." The scientist winced and looked at his laptop as if the answer was obvious.

It wasn't.

"And!" Landry demanded sharply. That something had gone wrong was clear.

"I think the device is bobby trapped," Lee concluded abruptly.

"Booby trapped?" Landry echoed.

Sitting with his arms wrapped tightly around himself afraid to touch anything for fear of making everything worse - while fighting with the fact that if he didn't do something soon Sam was going to die - Danny frowned sharply and glanced back over his shoulder in surprise.

"It makes sense," Bill continued, addressing the room at large as if expecting Sam to answer. "If like you said, Merlin was trying to hide his research, he wouldn't want just anyone messing around with the device, right? I think we were just lucky the first time that it worked like it was supposed to and took you out of phase - at least I assume that by stabilizing the energies you automatically triggered the proper sequence of events. But I'm thinking this time, when you tried to reverse it, it didn't like it - possibly because I was trying to do something at the same time, or maybe just because our equipment is hooked up to it. In any case, we seem to have triggered some sort of random security program."

"Security program," Landry repeated. "Is it going to explode?"

"No!" Bill quickly assured him. "No, it's ah, it's not going to explode."

Hank was quickly losing patience with the man. "Then what's the problem?"

"The battery, for lack of a better word, is ... discharging," Lee explained. "Quite rapidly."

"You mean it's dying?"

"Well, it's not alive so--" Lee winced at the glare this answer elicited. "Yes. And I can't stop it."

"Why not?" Hank asked cryptically.

Lee sighed and glanced at the device. "The battery is in the other dimension."
* * *

Part 36

Jack paused an instant to reorient himself. It wouldn't do to go and get lost after all. Or worse, lose the guy who was supposed to be chasing him.

He glanced back over his shoulder even as an energy blast hit the tree he was standing beside. Instinct had him leaping aside and taking off again, rather than taunting his pursuer. The rot had obviously started to work on Volnek's brain, or he'd have figured out long ago Jack was leading him into a trap.

'Definitely one fry short of a happy meal back there!

And there was the stump. A huge, ancient tree had once towered over the forest here, but something had brought it crashing down years before. The tree itself was gone, the wood likely harvested for use in the Sodan village, but the stump remained. Nice and distinctive. Like a red flag for Jack but completely inconspicuous to Volnek.

Time to slow this chase down a bit. He had to make sure Volnek took the right path.
* * *

Danny had absolutely no idea where the battery was or how he was supposed to stop it from discharging. Sam would have. She'd probably tap a couple of keys, pop open a hidden door and hook the battery up to a power outlet somehow ... though given the fact that they didn't have any cables or anything on this side of the phase--

He viciously dismissed the thought. It wasn't helping Sam! In fact, nothing he had done so far had helped Sam. He was wasting time worrying about what he'd done wrong and waiting for Bill Lee to fix it.

"...that reset the base parameters of the algorithm itself, basically locking me out. So now, I've got to find the algorithm for the algorithm.... Oh, this is not going to be easy."

Danny only understood about half of what Bill was talking about: booby-trap, only suppose to work from his side, and not easy to fix from Bill's side. It all added up to no help from his friend. The only one that was going to get them out of this situation was himself.

There was no one else to do it for him.

"How long?" Landry asked succinctly.

It wasn't a question Danny wanted to hear - but he couldn't ignore it either.

"According to these readings, it ... it could reach critical failure inside fifteen minutes!"

Fifteen minutes. That wasn't very long....

"And what happens to Gen O'Neill, Carter and the boys if it does?"

"They'd ... likely be trapped forever," Bill admitted with a wince.

The urge to cry was very strong. Danny sniffed and forced the urge away. Instead, he turned his mind back to the puzzle of the Ancient script and forced himself to concentrate.
* * *

Volnek stopped at the edge of the clearing, eying Jack with a mixture of fury and confusion. There was a spark of cunning back in those dead white orbs that gave lie to the mindless nature of the creature which had been chasing him up to this point. The thing glanced around the clearing suspiciously.

Great. The guy decided to get smart at the wrong moment. Just typical!

"What? You need a break?" Jack taunted. "Fine. You know I'm not as young as I used to be. This running through the trees thing isn't nearly as fun as it used to be..."

Volnek lifted his weapon and fired. Jack ignored it as it passed straight through his body and impacted the stump behind him.

"...Though I have to admit running 'through' them is a lot better than running into them," he allowed, then cocked his head to the side and offered a pensive frown. "Kinda tickles though, you know?"
* * *

He'd found his mistake. He'd tapped in a sequence of key stokes when what he'd needed to do was press them all at the same time - like rebooting a computer by pressing [Ctrl] [Alt] [Delete] at the same time.

At least, he thought that was what the instructions were saying....

"Doctor, we're running out of time!" Landry growled as he impatiently watched the balding man trying to figure out a way to fix the problem before it was too late.

Danny hesitated, torn with indecision. He was pretty sure he'd read everything right this time, the problem was he didn't know the scope of the effect. If it was a localized effect like that which had taken them out of phase, than it was possible that by triggering the device the only thing he'd succeed in doing was bringing himself back into phase - leaving Jason, Sam and Jack all trapped on the other side with no way to get back to help them when the battery went dead.

On the other hand, if he didn't do anything the battery would still die and they'd all be dead anyway. There wasn't time to try and drag Sam to the lab or wait for Jack to get back.

"Okay, I'm going to try to make an adjustment to the algorithm. It's a bit of a long shot...."

Danny ignored the two men in the room with him and, sending up a desperate prayer, pressed the four keys indicated by the Ancient script at the same time.
* * *

Confusion and anger were overcoming caution as the creature began to advance again, firing as it came. Jack failed to fall over and gave the thing an apologetic shrug. The trip wire was about twenty feet to his rear on the right. "You're going to have to do better than that."

And that's when Jack's world suddenly shifted.
* * *

Part 37

Gen. Landry blinked sharply to clear the afterimage caused by the sudden flash of light.

"Dr. Jacks--" Bill Lee's happy exclamation was cut short. "Oh, my god!"

Landry swept his gaze to the Ancient device that had caused all the trouble to begin with. As half-expected, young Daniel Jackson sat beside the device ... but his shirt was missing. Dark blotches on the knees and thighs of his blue jeans, combined with dark red smears across his young chest and left check had Hank gasping right along with the balding scientist.

"Medic!" A sudden shout from outside the lab and down the hall told him where the rest of his missing personnel most likely were.

"Sam?" Danny's eyes cut to the door for an instant in confusion before darting back to where he and Dr. Lee stood staring. The boy looked hopeful and desperate at the same time. "Please say you can see me?"

The question shook Hank out of his shock and had him moving forward to kneel in front of Danny, his eyes quickly raking the pale form looking for a source for all the blood even as his hands clasped the slender shoulders in a steadying grip. "We can see you," he answered, noting the small hands were also covered in blood. "Is any of that yours?"

"Medical emergency, main elevator, level 18," the PA suddenly interrupted them. "Repeat: Medical emergency, main elevator, level 18."

Danny blinked, fighting to process everything around him. "Sam's hurt," he managed to tell them. "She's hurt bad."

Hank nodded grimly. The blood was her's, not Danny's. It was far more than he liked. "Where's Jack and Jason?" He really hoped they only had the one serious injury to deal with and not multiple casualties. How any of them could have been hurt while out of phase was a question that would have to wait for later.

"Jack went off-world," the boy answered simply. A small blood-stained hand reached out to grip Hank's forearm as if afraid of losing the contact. He could see reaction starting to take hold. The boy had pushed himself to the brink and beyond even as he hurried to tell them, "Jason's with Sam at the elevator. She needs help."

Hank covered the small hand with one of his own. With any luck, Jack was faring better wherever he-- 'Probably joined Mitchell and the extraction team, curse the man. Hank just hoped that whatever power had brought Daniel and the others back, had worked for him as well.

"Help's on the way," he assured the pale child even as he heard Lee in the background, requesting a medical team to his lab in addition to the one already on the way to the elevator. "Help's on the way."
* * *

For a short second, Jack thought he was actually going to black out. He stumbled sharply but managed to catch himself on the stump before going down. A half-rotted piece of wood broke off in his hand. He stared at it dumbly. How the hell had he managed--


His head jerked up as he realized he'd changed dimensions and was all too solid in the right one again - only it definitely wasn't the right one at the moment! Volnek was nowhere in sight, meaning he was still cloaked and Jack had lost his advantage.

Time to end this. Now!

Spinning, he ran for the jaws of the trap, praying he wasn't about to feel a staff blast searing his spine. Of course, being clothes-lined by an invisible zombie wasn't any fun either! He fell and he fell hard, but he wasn't down for long. Something - he had a good idea what! - grabbed him by the throat and lifted him upward. Apparently Volnek had given up on his staff weapon and decided on a more direct approach. Jack's vision was already beginning to narrow as he struck out. Unfortunately, jogging a few circuits every other day on the exercise field wasn't the same as fighting running-gun battles every other week! He quickly gave up on trying to pry the cold dead fingers from his throat - no time to shudder at the feel of it - and went for a far more vulnerable target.

It didn't take muscle to gouge out someone's eyes.

Volnek roared and flung him aside before Jack could do more than find his face. Jack was tossed about ten feet, his head barely missing the trunk of a tree as he flew past. He landed hard again and lay gasping for much needed breath even as he glanced back to find his unseen adversary.

Only to see Mitchell jerking around in mid-air like some kid's toy on a string!

"Ride 'em cowboy!" the younger man cried as he continued to bounce around. Apparently, the lieutenant colonel had decided to tackle Volnek from behind while the thing was attacking Jack and was now attached to the creature's back like a leech!

Was he crazy?!

Jack didn't see what happened next, but he heard it. He'd forgotten about Teal'c - and the fact that he still had a Sodan cloaking device. There was the distinct sound of flesh being impacted by metal, a bit of a wrestling match.... Mitchell abruptly flew backward, though it looked more like he was throwing himself free, and then the flash and roar of a M249 SAW as Teal'c opened fire on his adversary. Jack knew it wouldn't be enough to stop Volnek, but it should at least slow him down.

And then both Teal'c and Mitchell were there, reaching down to grab a forearm. Jack rose quickly, praying his damn knee wouldn't give out now, and together the three men spun to race along their pre-chosen pathway, careful to avoid the trip wire and hoping to get beyond the worst of the blast radius before the thing behind them--
* * *

"--Medical emergency, main elevator, level 18. Repeat..."

That better not be about Jason....

She was sitting alone in a conference room of some sort on level 27 waiting for an escort to take her home. She offered the nearest wall-mounted speaker a dark frown as the alert was repeated.

Kate Dixon was at the end of her patience. First her son was kidnapped, then they found him and claimed he was fine, but before she could take him home they had to tell her a few things: things she still didn't want to believe.... I.e. her husband wasn't a security specialist watching over a bunch of geeky scientists working on tracking asteroids and comets throughout the solar system. No. He was the commander of an elite combat team that traveled to other worlds throughout the galaxy and fought aliens that wanted to destroy Earth and enslave all its people.

And the only reason they were telling her about it was because her son had been kidnapped by one of those aliens.

They'd insisted he was fine and hadn't been hurt. He'd just been taken for a little joy ride on a spaceship and wound up on another planet. Then, just as she was coming to terms with all of that, he disappeared again, the apparent victim of an alien device he should have been nowhere near. Dave--

She didn't know whether to be angry at him or awed by what she'd heard. She got the secrecy part - she always had. Secrecy and danger were a part of his job and she'd accepted that a long time ago.

Secrecy and danger where her six year old son was concerned was another story altogether!

For his part, Kate knew Dave was no happier with the situation than she was, but he was a good little soldier through and through; he couldn't rant and rave and demand answers of his superiors.

She could.

She was quite certain Gen. Landry probably thought she was his worst nightmare at the moment.

And Jack had conveniently disappeared.


"Mrs. Dixon?"

She turned in surprise, wondering what poor slob Gen. Landry had chosen to be her escort. Her glance quickly took in the dark suit and glasses, and she frowned. Clearly not military....

"Mrs. Dixon," he offered again as he joined her, offering a supercilious smile while holding out his hand in greeting. "Mr. Woolsey with the IOA. I was hoping to catch you before you left."

She had no idea who or what the IOA was, but his manner and baring told her he was a damn bureaucrat. 'Probably an ultra powerful lawyer sent to make sure she kept her mouth shut and followed whatever script they'd mandated for the disappearance of her son. She eyed his outstretched hand in distaste before glancing back up at him.

He got the message and dropped the hand awkwardly. "I realize you must be terribly upset, Mrs. Dixon, and I can't blame you. You're son should have never been caught up in this mess to begin with."

She narrowed her eyes. Was he saying the whole thing was preventable, or just the alien device mishap?

He decided to interpret her look as a question. "Had those in charge here followed the recommendations of the International Oversight Advisory board - as they are supposed to - your son would have never met Daniel Jackson in the first place. He, you and the majority of the rest of the world's population would have continued on with your lives in blissful ignorance of what really goes on here."

Definitely a finger-pointing lawyer sent to feel her out and make sure she kept her mouth shut. She wasn't interested in playing his games. "What do you want?" she asked bluntly.

He reacted in mild surprise. "Only to assure you that everything possible is being done to find and recover your son, Mrs. Dixon," he quickly answered. "And to promise you that those responsible--"

"--Colonel and Mrs. Dixon, report to the infirmary. Repeat: Colonel and Mrs. Dixon report to the infirmary."

Kate felt her face pale as she remembered the earlier announcement concerning a medical emergency. Apparently so did the pompous ass before her. "Don't panic, Mrs, Dixon," he dared advise her gently. "I seriously doubt--"

Mr. Woolsey suddenly found himself spinning in place, fighting to stay upright as the woman before him bolted past to race for the nearest elevator.
* * *

Part 38

A thunderous explosion threatened to send all three men flying even as they were diving for the ground. Jack fully expected to feel the burning pain of multiple shrapnel hits and was frankly amazed when he didn't. Shock? Delayed reaction? Frowning, he lifted his head as the last of the debris from the explosion finished raining down upon them. Everything seemed to be working fine....

'Cept his ears, which were ringing rather badly.

Teal'c lifted his head as well and looked behind them. Jack followed his gaze, seeing nothing but a rather sizable area of devastation and several large red smears on the ground.

"''Don't think we have to worry about him anymore," he decided - then frowned again as he failed to hear his own words over the ringing in his head. Great, he thought sarcastically as he slowly became aware of pain. He lifted a hand to his ear - no blood at least.

And then Reynolds was there, trying to help him stand ... and apparently asking something. Probably wanting to know if he was okay. Jack glanced down and offered himself a quick assessment. Everything appeared to still be attached.

"'Fine," he answered and wondered if maybe he was speaking too loudly. Probably. Felt like it. Oh, well. "Cept the ears. 'Ringing like a banshee."

Reynolds offered something else and Jack shook his head, wincing as his level of pain quickly began to ratchet upward. He knew it was delayed reaction due to adrenaline; at least nothing else was suddenly starting to hurt. "You're going to have to write it if it's important, Colonel," he told the other man, glancing again at Teal'c and Mitchell to make sure both were okay. Teal'c stood frowning with a hand to one of his ears as well. Mitchell had rolled to a sitting position and was grinning like a loon. He offered something as he caught Jack's look - 'Now that's how you kill a zombie!' or some such. Jack wasn't sure and dismissed it.

Damn, they'd been lucky.

He glanced back at Reynolds as the man tried to tell him something again. "'Can't hear a word," he stated bluntly, which wasn't exactly true. He didn't think the concussion had managed to blow his eardrums but the tinnitus he was suffering was definitely drowning out anything the other man wanted to say.

Reynolds winced - Jack wasn't sure if it was in sympathy or because he'd shouted the words - then the colonel nodded and turned to one of the other men just as Mitchell managed to pull something from his vest. Some sort of flat crystal that looked suspiciously Antient-y. Jack immediately realized what it must be.

""That the missing control crystal from The Eye of the Gods?"" he asked, interrupting something Reynolds was saying as the lieutenant colonel handed it to the other man with a cocky grin.

The nod and smile he got from Reynolds was answer enough and made up for the fact he still couldn't hear a word the man felt obligated to toss at him.

"Nice!" he offered in answer. Had that been Mitchell's plan all along when he jumped on Volnek's back? Might explain why he hadn't just tried to break the guy's neck. 'Sure beat the hell out of finding the thing shattered in a million pieces and having to wait for the Odyssey to come get them. "Very nice!"
* * *

It was his fault. No one was saying it, but he knew it was true.

He glanced at where Jason lay. Lam had decided to put him and Jason across from each other so Jason could see him, but not next to each other because she didn't want either of them getting out of bed without someone seeing. Not that it mattered. Jason was knocked out, and his mom and dad were with him. Col. Dixon looked tired and Mrs. Dixon looked ... lots of things. Relieved, scared, worried - but mostly angry. And that was his fault too.

They probably wouldn't let him ever play with Jason again.

Then again, he wasn't really a kid so he probably shouldn't want to play anyway. If he hadn't decided it was okay to be five once in a while, maybe he'd have been able to remember how to do the translation faster. If he'd concentrated on being 'Dr. Jackson' again instead of 'Danny,' maybe he could have kept it from happening to begin with!

Though he wasn't quite sure how....

He frowned down at the edge of the blanket he was distractedly running his fingers over. There were no stray threads for him to pick at. With a sigh, he turned his attention instead to the bottom of the scrub top he'd been given to wear. It was too big.

Like everything else.

He and Jason were all cleaned up now. No blood or smears remained. His nose itched and he rubbed it against his shoulder sleeve, ignoring the possibility that he might be crying.

Dr. Jackson wouldn't be crying. He'd be mad at himself.

He hoped Sam would be okay, but even if they fixed her back up he knew she wouldn't. Not really. Would the government even let her stay in the Air Force after she'd lost a hand? He didn't think so. He knew they wouldn't let her stay on SG-1. They'd probably make her retire.

He couldn't imagine Sam being retired....

And that would be his fault too.


Giving a start, he glanced up to see Mrs. Dixon standing by his bed. She probably wanted to yell at him, even though she didn't look angry; and then he realized that was probably because he was crying. He used the back of his hands to quickly brush away the tears. She should be able to yell at him if she wanted to.

"Hey...." Her tone was soft and her touch gentle as she took him by the chin and forced him to look at her. She looked like she was going to ask what was wrong but then changed her mind. "Do you remember me?" she asked instead.

He nodded, swallowing hard.

"Where did we meet?"

He frowned slightly, wondering how much they'd told her. Did she know he was Dr. Jackson, or did she just think he was 'Danny Young'?

Apparently she read the question in his eyes. "When you were big," she specified.

He went to rub his nose on his sleeve again but she stopped him and handed him some kleenex, taking a moment to glance back over to where her husband sat watching them from beside their sleeping son. Danny couldn't read Col. Dixon's expression and he felt his control crack.

The man probably hated him!

He gasped, fighting back the wave of pain and hurt the thought caused but he couldn't keep it in. It broke free and he suddenly found himself sobbing freely with Mrs. Dixon's arms wrapped firmly around him.

She should be yelling, not trying to comfort him!

"I'm sorry!" he cried. "I'm sorry! It's my fault. It's all my fault!"

"Ssshh..." she insisted softly, rocking him gently. "No, it isn't."

"Yes, it is!" he gasped. "I should have been faster! I should have known Jason was getting bored. I should have ... I should have ... Sam had to go after him because I wasn't fast enough. Because I was afraid of accessing the knowledge of the Ancients again and I didn't remember how! I should have remembered!"

"Ssshh..." she repeated, ignoring confession as she rocked him back and forth. "It's not your fault. Sam shouldn't have taken you kids into that lab to begin with."

Danny struggled to lift his head. He couldn't let Sam take the blame! "It's not her fault! She was stuck babysitting us because Jason and I were bored being stuck in the infirmary. If we'd just played quietly until they finished briefing you-- Jason wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for me! He'd have never been taken by Ba'al or been stranded on an alien world or gone out of phase or--"

A warm firm finger pressed to his lips and a frowning Mrs. Dixon gazing down at him. She didn't release him until he stopped trying to talk.

He was surprised when she asked him again, "Do you remember where we first met?"

He had to think about it. She'd said when he was big, so she obviously knew what had happened and who he was. "...A picnic?" he guessed. He remembered a big barbeque. Either it was at Jack's place or one of the annual SGC get-togethers ... but she was shaking her head.

"The Academy Hospital," she corrected him. "You came to visit Dave when that steam pipe--" She arched an eyebrow. "That was one of the better stories I heard. Do I want to know what really happened?"

Danny remembered and looked away. Why hadn't he remembered that before? SGs 1 and 13 had been captured by Bastet when they tried to retrieve a stone from one of her temples that her Jaffa had taken from an Ancient device regulating geothermal pressures on -014; a.k.a 'Waldoria.' Unfortunately, Bastet recognized Daniel, remembering him from the System Lord Summit when he impersonated Lord Yu's Lotar and-- "He saved my life," he answered quietly.

"From a steam pipe." Kate Dixon cocked her head to the side. It wasn't a question, but something about the way she said it made him glance up again. He was surprised to see a little smile tugging at her lips.

He glanced at Dave, wondering what he'd told her.

The man was hanging his head and shaking it. "She was definitely hot," he muttered, just loud enough for them both to hear. "Very, very ... hot."

Kate Dixon was not pleased to hear this....

Danny had to talk quickly lest she get the wrong idea! "She's a Goa'uld and she used a ribbon device on him when he got caught trying to rescue me."

"--Trying schmy-ing!" Dave declared, glancing up from across the infirmary. "We saved your ass that day!"

Danny returned his mock glare with a steady gaze. "Yes," he agreed simply. "You did."

Dave blinked and for a second Danny thought he was actually going to blush before he glanced away. "Yeah, well ... just returning the favor. Let's not go making a habit of it."

Kate shook her head. "I don't want to know," she decided. At least not at the moment. She turned her attention back to Danny. "Do you remember what you said that day?"

She meant when they met. "...That I'm a government interpreter who acts as a liaison between the Deep-Space Radar Telemetry scientists and other such groups around the world?" He seemed to remember saying that a lot back then.

The smile was back. "Besides that."

He shook his head, unable to recall anything specific about that first meeting.

"Super nubes, sol radiat," she answered.

It took him a moment to realize she was offering a Latin quote. "Above the clouds, the sun shines?" he translated literally. The non-literal translation generally referred to the idea to maintaining hope in the face of passing pain and/or difficulties.

She nodded. "We can't control the clouds in life or where the rain is going to fall. What happened wasn't your fault."

"Why would I quote Latin if I'd never met you before?" he wondered with a confused frown.

Katie Dixon offered that a laugh. "I have no idea," she admitted and gave him a little squeeze. And somehow, despite everything, Danny's heart got a little lighter.
* * *

Part 39

He was surprised by the momentary pang of jealousy that actually stabbed his heart when he saw Kate Dixon cuddling Danny close.

"Oh, no, no, no--" The boy glanced up in surprise at the sound of a familiar voice and saw Mitchell quickly approaching. "--You got four of your own already, Mama Dixon; you do *not* get to add Danny there to your collection!"

That pang of jealousy was immediately erased as the boy reached for him before the woman could begin to unwind her arms from around him. There was no question as to whom he'd rather have holding him.

Jeesh Mitchell, he told himself even as he grinned and lifted the boy quickly into his own arms. Don't get too attached. This little version of Jackson wasn't permanent. The silent lecture did nothing to calm the warm feeling bubbling away in his heart.


Twin high-beam blue lasers caught his gaze. "Jack's fine," he assured the boy quickly before the kid could ask. "So's everyone else." Little white-lie there.

Okay, 'big' white-lie, he admitted, remembering just how many Sodan had been killed and the fact that Daniel had worked with a few of them - not to mention Conway and Sam.... He quickly moved on, meeting those bright eyes again and answering the desperate questions before they could be voiced. "Sam's in recovery. Jack's checking on her now. He'll be up to see us later."

He offered the boy a slight frown of worry. "'You okay?"

He and Jack had been fully briefed on everything that had happened - at least everything the SGC had managed to piece together. Neither Danny nor Jason had been in any condition to give a proper report after-the-fact, and Sam had been in shock.

Danny nodded even as tears began to fill his eyes again. He quickly buried his face in Cam's shoulder and held on tight. Cam gave him a squeeze and began to rub his back; then glanced up into the watchful eyes of Kate Dixon. 'Thank you!' he mouthed silently.

She nodded and offered Danny's head a gentle caress before moving to resume her vigil beside her own son. Another slight frown of worry marred Cam's features as his gaze followed her. It was obvious the other boy had been sedated and was out like a light.

That was two times in less than twenty-four hours....

Danny lifted his head and Cam's attention was immediately back on the kid in his arms.

"Are they going to make Sam retire?" the boy asked from out of left field.

Cam had thought he'd been able to anticipate most of the kid's worries and questions but that one caught him by surprise. He blinked and shook his head, knowing better than to lie to this particular little munchkin. "I don't know," he answered honestly. Losing a hand was a big deal. He knew men who'd managed to remain in service after losing a leg, after a hell of a fight; but losing a hand.... He remembered how he'd had to fight to be allowed through the gate again with only a sprained wrist. "I don't think Jack will allow them to make Sam do anything," he decided. Being Head of Home World Security had its advantages. "Besides, we might be able to get her hand back."

The little boy in his arms blinked. "How?"

Cam offered that a rather big shrug. He had no idea. "...Maybe the Asgard can fix her up," he suggested suddenly. It wasn't like the little gray guys didn't owe her one.

Or a hundred.

The thought brought a spark back into two sets of bright blue eyes.
* * *

He studied the results of the latest tests and frowned. It was close, but not close enough.

Not yet.

Ba'al put the modified blood sample in the incinerator and destroyed it. This would all be so much easier if he could simply use his cloning and nanite technology to solve the problem. Recreating an adult Daniel Jackson from the blood he'd taken from Danny Jackson would be child's play. Admittedly, the body would be nothing more than an empty shell but, thanks to a few other toys Anubis had left behind, transferring the boy's consciousness would hardly be difficult.

A little painful perhaps but--

Of course, if it were that simple, the Asgard would have already suggested it. Not that he suspected the Tauri would agree, even if it were possible. The 'original' wouldn't survive; the idea that they would be left with the dead body of a child would only serve to make their repulsion that much greater.

The Tauri were foolishly sentimental where their children were concerned.

No, he would have to do this the hard way and actually reverse the effects of the Ori attack. He'd already discovered how to replicate it - in theory. The notes Anubis had left behind had been most helpful. Reversing it was even simpler. All he needed to do was modify a sarcophagus.

All he needed to do.... He rolled his eyes at his own thought.

It had to be a 'perfect' sarcophagus; not the less-than-perfect version that had been passed down to the Goa'uld through Hathor. To manage that, he needed Tel'chak's device. To get Tel'chak's device, he had to prove he could reverse the Ori attack.

Ah, a challenge. It had been a long time since he'd felt himself truly challenged by anything, and he found he was enjoying it. Not only would he perfect the sarcophagus at long last - for his use alone of course - but, if his plan worked, he would gain even more....

And Jack O'Neill would owe him.

He chuckled aloud at the irony of the thought; that alone would make all his efforts worth while.

The door chime interrupted his musings. There were guards posted without, so whoever or whatever it was about must have pasted their scrutiny first. "Come!" he called and turned to offer the unknown intruder a frown. It had best be important....

A slave hurried forward with a small long range communications device in hand. and offered it up with a deep head bow. Ba'al took it without comment and waved his ribbon device over it. The polished gray sphere swirled with indistinct colors for a short moment before resolving into the face of Athena. He hadn't been expecting a communication from her for another week.

"Report," he ordered curtly.

"The Tauri children and Major Carter have been returned to the SGC, 'though where they were taken is yet unclear. Our operative has heard rumors of an alternate dimension but cannot confirm this." She allowed herself to contemplate the possibilities for a second before shrugging it off. "Wherever it was, something went wrong. The two boys are in shock and Major Carter's left hand has been amputated."

Ba'al lifted an eyebrow but managed to mask his reaction otherwise. He offered the slave who had brought the long range device a mocking smile. "I return the boys to the Tauri for safe-keeping and see what happens!" He sighed dramatically and turned back to Athena. "Daniel Jackson's condition?" he specified. All his plans would come to naught if anything happened to the rather more-than-precocious human.

"Stable," she answered. "Although he was seen covered in blood, none of it appears to have been his own. Our operative reports no physical injury."

Ba'al nodded, satisfied that his plans would not be disrupted. "And Tel'chak's device?"

"Remains at the Omega Site with the Asgard and Tok'ra."

He frowned in irritation. He was going to have to do something to get them to stop playing with it.... "Have they had any luck locating and securing a sarcophagus?"

"No," she answered. "Not that we are aware of, anyway."

"Do whatever is necessary to see it stays that way," he commanded. He didn't need them stumbling upon the answer before he was ready to take advantage of the situation. Actually.... He glanced away for a second as an idea struck him. Yes. That might work.... "You said Major Carter's hand had been amputated?"

"Her left hand, yes."

"The Tauri don't possess the technology necessary to heal such an injury fully, do they...."

The question was rhetorical but Athena answered anyway. "Neither do we," she pointed out bluntly. A sarcophagus could heal many serious injuries, even bringing the dead back to life, but there were injuries it couldn't handle - amputations being one. It was not capable of creating matter from nothing.

Ba'al ignored her less than respectful tone. "And what of the Tok'ra or the Asgard?"

"The Tok'ra?" she scoffed at the mere suggestion. "The Asgard are unknown. They might offer to salvage the appendage from a clone of Major Carter, or simply transfer her consciousness into a clone body."

Ba'al was smiling even as he shook his head. He knew the humans would never agree to such, for the very same reasons they would never allow the Asgard to clone Daniel Jackson. This was a situation he could well take advantage of....

"Then it appears I and Major Carter are soon to become better acquainted." His eyes flashed in anticipation.
* * *


"Sir?" MSgt. Lindsey offered in question, even as she stuck her head in the open door.

Hank glanced up from the report he was reading and waved the gate technician in. At least that's where he knew her from best. If he remembered right, she was a computer specialist of some kind and had been with the program almost from the beginning. He saw she was holding a file and wearing a worried frown.

"'Problem Sergeant?" he asked simply.

She swallowed as she forced herself to step forward and hand over the file. "We ... may have found the mole, Sir."

He offered her reticence a confused frown even as he flipped the file open. Finding the mole would be a good thing. Wonderful even! So why was she acting like he was going to bite her head off? He scanned the pages before him, recognizing it as a detailed report - one that was apparently rather more obtuse and scientifically verbose than most he had to wade through! An across the network analysis ... unusual file deletions ... forensics able to recover data from a swap file residual ... electronic breadcrumbs ... a substation auxiliary access panel hiding a toolbox ... hidden compartment revealing modern surveillance equipment ... a partial finger print on a battery....

He was looking for a name but not finding it. Instead, the report seemed to be listing a computer as the culprit! He glanced up, even more confused than before. "Work station 34F8-51B_INFSUPPORT?" he asked.

"We didn't want to turn this in until we were sure, Sir," she answered grimly.

He was still lost and glanced back down. Despite the inclusion of fingerprint evidence, he still didn't see a name. "You're saying a computer is our mole?"

She shook her head and answered with grim certainty. "Master Sergeant Siler, Sir."

Hank felt his mouth drop open in shock.

* * *

To be continued in...

Life's Little Problems #5

Playthings of a God