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A Star to Steer By

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Jack wasn’t really sure what a kriffing hutt was, or why being its spawn with a diseased jawa would be an inherently bad thing, but he was impressed with Ringo’s invective. The clone was swearing a blue streak, recoiling from one of the wrist com things which had possibly been working before it exploded. Several of the men drafted to help with the little electronics project went to work extinguishing it and trying to air out the cave, with the one exception who put another hashmark on Ringo’s shoulder-armor that had been tossed aside early on.

In the chaos, Jack ducked out of the cave, breathing deep of soggy air before sauntering down towards what was now definitely a lake. The rain had let up a little, meaning most of the clones were foraging for sock flavored nuts and the few non-awful berries, with a hopeful side of notadeer.

Figured the “kree” weren’t really edible. He’d have to stop naming things as jokes; it really wasn’t funny with that much irony running around.

Spark and Longshot were on guard duty, talking quietly with each other from sniper spots looking over the lake. Rex was seated on the bank itself, expression vacillating between irked and worried as he stared at the water. He nodded in greeting as Jack sat down, and a kindafish came flying out of the water to land with a splat on the overshirt Jack had sacrificed to the cause. It smelled worse than the sock nuts tasted, by now.

“Ringo having any luck?”

“Depends entirely on your definition of luck.”

Rex finally looked over at him. “Much as I’d like contact with the fleet, I’ll settle for no missing limbs.”

“Another exploded unit and he’s gonna have to start all over on the eyebrows.”

Rex bobbled his head to the side in a resigned nod, then went back to his pensive snake watching. The drizzle kept up, and Jack kept a close eye on the bank of dark gray clouds muscling in from the horizon.  They probably didn’t have more than half an hour before the downpour picked up in earnest. Nowhere near enough time to try and find someplace better to hole up, not with there still being regular Jaffa patrols. It was at least enough time for Kenobi to get some fishing in.

When they’d all gotten back to the cave after that first fishing expedition, Jack’s shirt heavy with food, Kenobi had managed to convince Rex that keeping them all fed was worth the minimal risk of Kenobi being out and about.  There’d been a strange, furious argument about it – one man, sitting alone and scowling, eyes occasionally flitting between brown and blue. For all that, the strained silence had spread through all the men, lightening only when Rex had sighed and started assigning new duties, including snake sitting.

Rex was still visibly unhappy about it, and it remained the same kind of upset as when he’d come storming down the path the first time – anger, yes, but worry and fear as well.

“So.” Jack leaned over a little, trying to catch Rex’s attention. “Explain something to me.” It was as much to distract the man as to satisfy his own curiosity.

“Ask,” the clone said with an absent nod.

“You’re not in the same unit as Kenobi, right? You have the blue markings, and his people have the yellow.”

“Yeah. I’m – I was 501st, under General Skywalker. Kenobi’s got the 212th.”

Jack nodded. “So then why you? Why did you draw the short straw, instead of, say, Waxer, or Boil? Or Spark, for that matter.”

That finally caught the man’s attention. He looked at Jack, head tilting a little. “‘Short straw?’”

Even the Ancient language download didn’t translate all the idioms, especially if there wasn’t a ready counterpart. How Danny managed to accurately navigate between English, Goa’uld, Ancient Egyptian, and whatever other languages he was called on to translate, was a mystery and a miracle, and Jack was gaining an increasing appreciation for their quiet little archeologist. “Ehh, a way to pick a ‘volunteer’ – you have bits of straw or something, and everyone picks one at random. Guy with the shortest one ‘volunteers’ for whatever.”

“Ahh.” Rex quirked a grin. “Comes with the territory. I’m a commander, just below a General and their Second – their host – in the chain of command. When a clone makes commander, we get a week or two of training in case our General needs us and there’s not an ARC trooper around.”

He almost didn’t know what to ask about first, but he had to know. There was– as crazy as these folks were they wouldn’t– Would they? “Training? You mean, they, uh...”

From the sideways look he got, he was only being hugely obvious. “We spend a few days hosting a Jedi. We learn how to best hand off and pick up control, how to communicate comfortably with them, things like that.”

“...Ah.” Well. There was today’s creeped out as all fuck moment. Volunteering for brain-snake classes. Ugh.

“One of the regular troops would have worked in an emergency, but as a commander I was the best choice.”

Another fish came flying out of the lake, this time accompanied by a self-satisfied snake-squeal. It was a pretty big fish, Jack had to give Kenobi that.

“I’m confused. Thought you were a captain, not a commander.”

“By the time I got that promotion, I’d settled into being ‘Captain.’ Part of the name. Didn’t want to change it, and I prefer it by now.”

Jack tried to blink his way around that logic, then just gave up. “Ok.” He tried to rally, moving on to the next point. “ARC trooper?”

“Clones who go through extensive training to be better prepared as hosts.” Rex smirked and sat back. “‘Independent enough to take the reins if their Jedi becomes incapacitated for whatever reason, not so crazy as to run head-first into death without at least a rudimentary plan.’”

“...That’s a quote. You’re quoting someone.”

“Fives. Friend of mine who is an ARC.”

“Huh. Is he, ah, currently hosting, or just prepared to?”

Rex grinned, shaking his head a touch ruefully. “Currently hosting my commanding officer, General Skywalker. Nothing quite like finding out your friend recommended you as Commander because he knew the two of you and his Jedi would get along like a house on fire.”

Dammit, Jack was getting tired of continuing to get his mind blown by these people. The idiom didn’t help, and it wasn’t exactly ‘house on fire’, more like an oblique reference to ‘ground zero when a bomb hits,’ but it had the same meaning. Jack was seriously putting Danny up for a commendation for his translation work. “Screaming, running, lots of carnage and property damage?”

“Hah! Almost sounds like you’ve heard of him.” Rex’s grin melted with a sigh, and he shook his head, glaring back at the lake. “Compared to him, General Kenobi always seemed so rational. I wasn’t expecting him to worry me this much.”

“Oh that’s encouraging.”

“I’ll tell you about Geonosis later.” Rex grinned at him as another fish came flying to land with a splat next to the others.

“Everything went wrong and then there were explosions?”

Rex smirked, but didn’t confirm or deny.

“So. You’ve been prepared for, what, years to share headspace with a goa’uld?”

Rex leveled a cool look at him.  “You don’t want to share your brain and experiences with another being, fine. Don’t tell me I can’t choose to do that.”

Rex’s serious expression turned into a small grin as Jack tried and failed to come up with something to say. So Jack shut his gob and thought about it. He supposed that it wasn’t completely impossible – the tok’ra weren’t exactly fluff and cuddles, but they were a step up from the regular goa’uld nasties. The possibility that somewhere there existed a type of brain-snakes a step up from that was admittedly a little mind-boggling, but he’d seen some really damn weird shit over the last few years.

The problem was that it seemed too good to be true. In Jack’s experience, that meant there was something nasty waiting to sit up and bite SG-1 and Earth in the ass, and the better the situation seemed at first, the worse it would be.

“Okay, but if the choice is cake or death, you’re not going to pick death, are you?”

Rex looked baffled. “What?”

“You guys are all clones, right?”

“Yes, we are. That doesn’t mean we can’t choose,” Rex nodded, not taking offense.

“Yeah but, clones don’t just happen. I mean, someone made you to order.”


“So, what happens if you don’t want to be a soldier? Look, I’ve seen a lot of Jaffa, and some of them are sadists who like their jobs, but a lot of them are scared, or just don’t see a way out. That’s not a real ‘choice.’”

“The Grand Army isn’t like that,” Rex said firmly.

“Yeah? Why is your regime of brain-snakes any better than the goa’uld?”

Rex’s frown darkened into a scowl. “Clones are given as much freedom as natural-born younglings in many systems. We’re given training, as well as basic education. Yes, it’s to fight. We’re good at that. We come from Mandalorian stock. Our progenitor was considered the best bounty hunter in the known galaxy, and that was centuries ago, when things were a lot more lawless and wild. Most of us like to fight. But you’re right, some don’t. Our options are explained to us at an early age, and those options are open all the way until we enter service or cryo. If you want to walk away from the Army, you’re given alternatives and civvie training. Even a stipend for five years, while you’re figuring things out. We don’t suffer under a regime of ‘brain snakes;’ they take care of us.”

“You’re telling me they put all that time and money into creating a perfect soldier, and then just, what, let you wander off?”

“Yes. We’re created for the Army and the Jedi, but we’re not mindless drones, and we’re not prisoners. An unwilling soldier will be the first to crack in the field. We don’t need that.”

“And that’s it? Training’s the only reason you guys are so loyal?”

Rex side-eyed him. “Are your soldiers not trained to follow orders?” Then he seemed to mull it over, glancing back out at the lake as another fish came flying their way. “It does have something to do with Skywalker and Kenobi. Most Jedi are okay. There are a couple of assholes, but the Jedi Council deals with those when they find them. Kenobi and Skywalker though…they’ve got a reputation.  They get the impossible missions, because if anyone can do it, it’s Kenobi and Skywalker.

“You saw him with 17. If there’d been a hope in hell of saving that man’s life, or even keeping him alive long enough for medical attention to possibly help, Kenobi would have done it.” He sighed and rolled his shoulders a little, adjusting the placement of his armor. “The mission comes first, and we all know that, but they’ll bring as many of us through alive as they can.  Not just that.  Kenobi and Skywalker are right there with us, risking their own necks – they lead from the front. Always. And Tano looks set to follow in their footsteps.”

Jack nodded slowly, taking the splash of another tossed fish as an excuse to look away. They sat on watch until the heavy clouds rolled in, leaving Rex to gather up his General and Jack to grab dinner.

The only thing that surprised Jack was that it took Kenobi two days to ask for a private talk. Jack was giving Ion some one-on-one poker lessons – and sleight of hand practice – when Barrel lightly tapped him on the shoulder.

“Hey.” Barrel motioned him, not towards the alcove, which was empty, but the mouth of the cave.

“Kenny wants to see me, huh?”

Barrel stopped so fast Jack almost walked right over the guy. “What? You–”  Barrel glared back at him, and Jack winced. Crap, he’d found a line. It was at least a few feet behind him, probably more.

“Do not do that,” Barrel scowled.

“Do what?” Jack asked with wide-eyed innocence.

The clone snorted. “Mess with someone’s name.”

“I’ll have you know I’ve got nicknames for all my friends.”

“Yes, but they invite that, don’t they. Or accept it, whichever.”

“Yeah, and?”

He expected Barrel to roll his eyes, express sarcasm or something. Instead, he got a narrow-eyed look, then a bit of a sigh. “Ion told you about faces. What makes you think names aren’t part of that?”

Well that made zero sense. “Run that by me again?”

“Jedi aren’t allowed possessions. It goes against what they are. Like us clones, all a Jedi has is their face – their name and appearance, and the host has as much input on appearance as the Jedi. Even a clone has more than a Jedi does.

“Do not disrespect a Jedi’s name. Kenobi might put up with it for the sake of the mission, but it won’t gain you any friends. I understand you have a bad history with the Sith. Stop thinking General Kenobi is one of them.”

Point apparently made, Barrel spun around and kept walking to the cave entrance. Kenobi was the only one there on guard duty, and while he shot Barrel a funny look, he kept quiet. It was a bit of a relief that the clone gave Jack what seemed to be a genuine nod, like he was irked but not so pissed as to make a feud of it or something.

Then, of course, he walked off and left Jack alone with the goa’uld.


Crap. That lecture had hit home pretty hard.

“Soo. General. Fancy meeting you here.”

“He’s not too angry with you. Mostly just frustrated.”


Kenobi glanced over with a sympathetic grin. “Have the men been kind enough to talk to you about anything we Jedi do? Or has it really been just cultural exchange with moments of mad frustration and mass confusion?”

Jack slowly sat down, going for an almost casual shrug. “Door number two.”

The…Jedi made a face. “I’m sorry. We really haven’t been out beyond Mid-Rim much lately, and – damn. That probably means nothing to you.” He grinned ruefully. “I suppose I can understand the frustration. So. How about we try having a reasonable conversation, as three somewhat responsible sentients trying to work together to get out of a bad situation?”

Of all the things, it was the number that threw him, but he rallied. “Sure, we can give that a shot. Have a nice tea party, invite all the cool kids.”

“Perhaps it would be better to start with the very basics.” Kenobi turned to face Jack head on, then sat up a little straighter. He dipped down into a strangely solemn little bow, head canted to a weird, almost regal angle. “I am Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. I am part of an Order, called the Jedi.  ‘Jedi’ is both our species, and our Order. We identify as both of these things.  And ‘Master’ does not mean something nefarious, I assure you. It is one of the three ranks within our Order, indicating that a Jedi has mastered themselves and their skills, to the point where they have passed their knowledge on to a student, who has in turn qualified to be more than just a simple student.”

“You figured I’d think the worst there, huh?”

“On the contrary, I could sense that you were.”

“Sense?” Jack suddenly had a bad feeling.

Kenobi sighed, then ran a hand over his head. “Jedi are inherently strong in the Force. Even when I’m minding my own business, I still pick up on strong emotions, if not thoughts.”

Shiiit. “You’re psychic.” Oh, this was so very bad.

Kenobi shrugged. “Jedi are Force sensitive, if that’s what you mean.”

Jack crossed his arms and gave Kenobi a narrow look. “Less pretty words, more content. I’m just a grunt who wants to go home.”

“Indeed.” Kenobi said in an amused tone, clearly not believing Jack’s description of himself for an instant.  The goa’uld shifted a little, looking thoughtful. “All Jedi have an innate ability to use the Force. That’s the energy that makes up the universe, the connections between all things and all beings.”

Oh for – this shit again? You couldn’t have said this before? Instead you had me thinking you have a 1-800 number and some tarot cards. He probably had that look again, the one Danny complained was the ‘I think your beliefs are dumb and you are dumb and you should stop treating me like I’m dumb’ look. “Atoms. Electrical fields and things, weak force strong force gravitational whatsis. Yeah, I heard about that once.”

Weirdly, Kenobi stared at him blankly for a moment, then shook his head. “No, this is – I mean yes, that’s a part of it, but it’s more than that.”

“Uh huh. Let me guess, you just need to be, what, spiritually and scientifically advanced enough to grasp the intricacies, unlike us lowly mud-grubbing humans?”

He almost jumped out of his skin as Kenobi’s eyes flashed to brown and his body language shifted. It was Rex’s voice and accent demanding, “Who the hell kicked you in the balls?  Someone decided they were more Kaminoan than you, or what?”

The silence stretched, and Jack realized it was apparently a serious question. He held up a hand.

They waited, all polite, and that was almost weirder than the conversation as a whole. When was the last time SG1 had run into a technologically advanced civilization that treated them like equals? Jack cleared his throat. “’Cause everyone else does?  We’re the new kids on the block, and we ought to get off everyone’s damn lawn and let them keep screwing shit up?”

Rex rolled his eyes in what looked like sympathy, then Kenobi gave Jack a commiserating look. “You’ve only run into idiots? That sounds…frustrating.”

That sounded like honest sympathy. Like Kenobi had seen his own share of bullshit. Crap, I don’t want to like a brain snake, even if he does seem like a decent bastard. “Oh, just a little.  So if this Force isn’t some handwavy term for dressed up physics, what is it?”

Kenobi leaned back, cupping an elbow as his other hand came up to settle on his jaw. “As far as metaphors go? It’s water, everywhere. Depending on one’s proficiency with it, how well you can access it, you can feel the currents as it flows from one place to another. You can feel the ripples as other things pass through it, and if you are powerful or skilled enough, you can make out the shape and size and all sorts of details about whatever it is that moved, up to the point where it can be very far away. With time and practice, you can manipulate it, move the water to do as you wish it to.” He paused for a tiny moment, a flicker of emotion crossing his face. “Lifting and moving objects. Healing. Communication on a different level, that of emotion or thought. Knowing where and when and how to best move at any time, in relation to one’s goals and the beings around one.”

Jack fought down a chill. “Your Spidey-sense on the ha’taq. The telekinetic show with the rock. Telepathy and whatever.”

“Just so.” The goa’uld dipped his head in a nod like a bow again. “A Jedi’s connection to the Force is naturally strong, but to best use it, we need a host to channel it through. The connection with another sentient amplifies our abilities, allows the more showy examples.”

Jack swallowed. Psychic goa’uld. That sucked.

Then he realized he wasn’t thinking in terms of Kenobi, or any of his theoretical buddies. He bit back a curse.  He’d done it; he’d finally gone fully round the bend and accepted there were goa’uld who not only weren’t evil, but weren’t Tok’ra shitheads, either. “I really wish there was a decent bar on this planet.”

The Jedi snickered. “I think we all would appreciate that. I take it you don’t have many Force practitioners at home?”

“Oh, sure, so long as you fork over a lot of cash and don’t need them to, you know, prove anything.”

It was interesting to watch the man’s eyes narrow, calculation of some sort passing over his expression before he nodded. “We have been quite the perpetual surprise for you, haven’t we?”

Jack forced an overly casual shrug. “Just a little bit. I’ll admit, it’s at least a nice change from people shooting at us or screwing us over.”

 “This kind of thing happens to you often, does it?”

Jack returned the slow, evaluating look, then shrugged. “I’d say about as often as it happens to you, give or take.”

He got a grin and a wry head tilt of acknowledgement for that.  Kenobi paused, then gave Jack a shrewd look.  “You know, I can’t help but wonder. Hypothetically, if you weren’t a lowly grunt, would you be in a position to negotiate for your world?”

Here we go. “Hypothetically? That depends on what you’re trying to negotiate.”

“Minor terms, nothing outrageous. If your people help us get home, and you want our help fighting these goa’uld, then the Jedi can provide assistance.”  Kenobi grimaced. “We do have our war settled, but we’re still cleaning up some messes, so unfortunately we can’t bring the whole of the army to bear.  But if, say, a hundred thousand troops and a dozen Jedi would help...” He shrugged and glanced back at the rain. “I suspect we’d only be able to spare enough cruisers to carry everyone, so likely only about three. Five, on the outside. They’d all come with fighter squadrons though, and we could supply the pilots.”

Jack leaned back, trying to get his head around the offer.  Kenobi looked out into the dripping trees, giving Jack space to mull over the conversation. A hundred thousand troops wasn’t exactly big news next to the US’s standing army, but every single one of those experienced veterans would be cleared for the top secret crap. SGC wouldn’t have to jump them through bureaucratic hoops, ease them into the whole ‘the truth is out there’ thing, or train them with new weapons. SGC wouldn’t even have to provide basic gear. Sure, they’d come with a handful of brain-snakes, but those would presumably be competent friendlies who really wanted to see the goa’uld dead, if Kenobi was any kind of yardstick for their attitudes.

They’d even come with spaceships.

Fuck, this was way too good to be real. “What’s the catch?”

“We’re allies, not subordinates. You’d be expected to field troops along with us, probably provide intelligence regarding our enemies and their tactics. We’ve never seen ships like that before, and while the weapons are intriguing, they’re also unfamiliar. Training for at least some instructors regarding mutual weaponry and tactics. I'm not sending troops in just to find they and you are bumbling around getting in each other's way. We may need a staging area – in-system, if not on-planet.” Kenobi frowned. “Or at the very least, at a planet with one of those gates. Sending messages is all fine and well, but those can be intercepted, and joint forces will require co-ordination.”

Then, god help him, Kenobi shut up. Like that was it. Like there really weren’t strings or hidden plans for world domination. Sure, the ‘staging area’ could turn around to bite them, but Kenobi had even opened the possibility of doing it via gate, and it was an entirely reasonable thing to ask of an ally.  It all came down to trust.  Jack finally cleared his throat. “What about your Republic? Fancy sounding name for a big organization. What piece of the pie are they gonna want?”

Kenobi rolled his eyes. “I’m sure there will be a few opportunistic Senators who will want to open their own negotiations about whatever this week’s interest is, but we are wrapping up a war. They’ve plenty on their plates as it is. I suppose if you wish to open diplomatic channels, I can assist with that, but it’s certainly no requirement. Our interest is as Jedi, dealing with these goa’uld.”

A very large part of Jack O’Neill wanted to break out into a whooping, giddy dance. No crazy strings attached, no nose in the air attitude problems, no shuffling around grumbling about Earth’s level of sophistication or civilized behavior. Just getting a job done with allies who had a damned sense of humor sometimes.  Fear of brain-snakes aside, his gut was telling him that this was a solid bet.

The cynical part of him was struggling to figure out how the hell he could possibly sell this to Hammond and –

Oh fuck. The NID was going to have a damn field day blowing holes in this.  It was depressing how very little time he spent wrestling with how open to be. He was loyal to the SGC, to his country and his planet.  But keeping secrets could do more harm than good, and sometimes you just had to put your cards on the table.  Jack took a deep breath and looked Kenobi in the eyes. “I have to say I like the sound of that.”

“But?” Damn if the Jedi didn’t have a Spock-ian precise eyebrow lifted.

“We...might have a few factions back home that would love to throw roadblocks in the way. My direct superior’s a decent fella, but some of the idiots over his head wouldn’t know a good idea if it walked up to them on the street and offered to buy them a drink. One of the members of my team almost didn’t get to join up just because he’s an ‘alien defector.’ He only risked his life, his family’s life, and pretty much everything he knew to keep us alive, and you know how that doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.”

It was even more depressing that from the disgusted but sympathetic expression, Kenobi knew exactly what sort of stupidity he was talking about. “Bureaucracy,” the Jedi muttered, “a universal plague.”

Jack shook his head. It burned more than a little, but he’d committed to this insanity. Might as well follow through, even if it wasn’t in Earth’s favor. “Look, we know a few folks that think we – Earth, the Tau’ri – are semi-useful allies, but since they have all the shiny toys they don’t need our help much. They probably wouldn’t object to you guys as much.”

Interesting, how Kenobi just looked at him, chewing over what Jack had said without asking for details. “Have these allies of yours ever mentioned the Republic?”


The Jedi nodded once. “Then if you think they can render assistance to us, it’s something to keep in mind. However, either they don’t know about the Republic – which opens up several distressing possibilities – or they have kept this knowledge from you. In either case, I’d much rather risk our lives with you and your people.”

Jack replayed the sentence to make sure he’d heard correctly. “...Why?” he finally managed.

Kenobi leveled a dry look at him, then shrugged. “You’ve had more than one solid opportunity to kill me, yet here I am. You could’ve left us all on that ship, but instead you've worked from the moment you came to in that cell with Rex to make allies and save as many lives as possible. You just warned me of potential pitfalls to working with you, and then offered me alternatives. I've worked to make alliances with far less cooperative assholes, on missions with just as much personal danger. Why should I not trust you?”

“...Oh. …And the good Captain?”

His eyes flickered back to brown, and Rex shrugged.  “You’re weird, but once I got used to that, you’re a decent soldier. You pull your weight and you don’t complain.”

Kenobi quirked a small grin under eyes gone blue again. “Unless you’ve more questions, I think we all have a lot to work through.”

“I will give you that one.” Jack shook his head and stood, still feeling as if the new information was more than his brain might be able to hold.  A goa'uld trusted him. Said brain-snake's host trusted him, and these things didn’t contradict.

Every time he thought he'd reached the bottom of the rabbit hole, another whole level of weird opened up.

 The General called an all hands meeting a few hours later, as the light was fading. He was standing by the small fire, arms crossed and a determined expression on his face. After checking the men over, he shrugged a little. “We can’t stay here. Our foes are determined, if sloppy.  This rain doesn’t look like it’s going to stop, and I think it’s either entering a rainy season, or if the temperature keeps dropping, we’re entering the local winter.”

There was a disturbed grumble from the clones, which Jack heartily agreed with. Neither option was good.

“So we need to either find some other way off planet, or contact the fleet. Ringo? How is that progressing?”

The clone made a face, the expression even odder with the carbon streaks across his face and fire damage to his facial hair. “Basic coms don’t manage squat. Done everything I can find to amplify the signal, and even adding in the powercell from your lightsaber to the mix just made things explode before we could make any useful progress.”

“Thank you, by the way, for making sure the powercell didn’t explode.”

Ringo shrugged with mock casualness, trying to hide a grin. “We thought you might like to keep your toys.”

Kenobi tilted his head into the almost bow, smirking a little. “Once again the generosity of the 501st shines forth. I haven’t been able to make more than fleeting contact with Anakin, so he knows I’m alive, but nothing else. Which leaves us the gate.”

There was another set of grumbles, a mix of acceptance, even eagerness for a fight, and disgruntlement, mainly regarding Kenobi.

The General sighed. “Jack, I suspect the best outcome lies with you. Given your people’s experience with the…goa’uld, would they be willing to give us the benefit of the doubt?”

It was...weird, to trust non-SGC people this much, but he didn’t hesitate. “Yeah. We’d need to make a pitstop on the way there, though. Any unexpected guests kinda get splatted.  After that...they’re not gonna be happy about you at first, but hell, we work with the tok’ra, so it should be possible for me to convince them you’re okay.

Someone behind him let out a soft little “Ooo, that’s gonna be good.”

“General,” Kix started, ignoring the horseplay.

Kenobi held up a hand. “I know, I know. I’m not thrilled with it either. While it was a shock to the system, I think so long as I’m not going through one gate right after another I should be all right.”

The medic crossed his arms and glared. “Sir, we still don’t know all the side effects. We don’t need you breaking things with those spasms, and I have no idea what kind of effect it’ll have on your nervous system, your brain. You’re possibly one big aneurysm waiting to happen, and I’d strongly recommend no more than once every twenty hours or so, until we know what the cumulative damage or lasting problems are.”

“Noted, but we might have to move fast. Jack, please have several potential locations if possible. In the meantime, Kix, if it helps, I will not be hosted when we cro–”

His eyes flickered to brown, and Rex’s expression was steel and restrained ire. “Sir, excuse me, but like fuck you’re not.”

Rex’s eyes slipped back to blue, and the expression went vaguely cross. The clones started shifting about some, and Jack was willing to bet that public arguments were even rarer than usual when your direct superiors shared the one body.

“Rex, this is neither the time nor –”

The switch between voices and posture was disconcerting as hell. “We’re having this conversation now, right here, or I am not crossing that gate.” Rex’s eyes shimmered a little, amused in spite of his ire. “I think I know just how much General Skywalker picked up from you, and I know it’s never a good time. So we’re going to take the least worst opportunity, right now.”

Jack tried to sit quietly and not boggle too much. There was weird, there was Teal’c’s notion of haute cuisine, and then there was this. What. The hell.

Kenobi sighed and shook his head. “All right,” he almost snapped, dry and sharp as he crossed his arms. “Then I shall be very clear. We’re all damn lucky the shock to my system wasn’t worse.  The only reason I stayed as still as I did was that I knew I could kill you if I started thrashing around.  Even now, I’m not sure how I managed that, but it was more than half use of what little of the Force I could reach. For all intents and purposes, I had a seizure. Right now, I’m wrapped around your spinal column, and please, Kix, correct me if I’m wrong, but if I curl the wrong way I can snap that in three different places. That doesn’t even begin to cover the damage I could do if full body spasms on my part put my fangs closer to your brain. So, no, Rex, there’s no way in any hell in any religion from any planet that I am crossing that damned threshold in a host.”

Rex’s expression soured from the snide look Kenobi had worn. He glared over at the medic, who just shook his head and pointed at the host.

“For a mature Jedi? It’s actually four places. He’s got a damn good point, and while no one here is a reservist, there’s absolutely no reason to risk our chain of command. Also, General, you’re coming out early so I can run some scans.” Kix’s expression darkened, and Jack was finally sure the man was Medical. “You said you were fine.”

“Jedi,” someone muttered from behind and to the right of Jack, who, in proper terror of a medic or no, was really grossed out and ready to climb out of his skin. “They always do.”

“Host gets a serious paper cut, it’s off to the healers, now, don’t argue with me soldier, but the Jedi?” someone else snorted. “You ever see Koon and his squad after unarmed practice?”

“He’s used to Kel Dor, cut him some slack.”

Barrel nudged Jack. “You okay?”

“Noooot really,” Jack managed evenly. Then he had to wave away Barrel’s concerned look. “S’nothing.”

“If nobody has any other concerns?” Kenobi brought the conversation back on track.  Nobody spoke up, so he continued. “Take the rest of today to prepare, and get a good night’s rest. Tomorrow, weather and medics permitting, we march for the stargate.”