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A Star to Steer By

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Jack didn't fight the MPs as they cuffed him and escorted him towards the brig. He was a little busy trying not to panic and grope the back of his neck, because god damn it had been creepy frenching a damn snake, and as an extra-special bonus, it made the scar near his shoulder itch.

Also, please, please, please let Kenobi be doing the logical thing and setting up house, because as much as Jack appreciated it, he hadn't felt a thing since Kenobi had slithered into his mouth. True, it had taken a while for Hathor's little spawny friend to take residence, but it’d been that one’s first rodeo, and goa’uld that knew what they were doing could move scarily fast. Kenobi struck him as pretty damn experienced, so if the bastard was still taking his sweet time — Ok, no, stopping that train of thought before it reaches the Station of Crazy Ideas That Keep You Up At Night.


Jack didn’t freak out, and there wasn’t any screaming. As far as the MPs were concerned, it probably just looked like he'd gotten twitchy around the eyes.

There was a voice. In his head. Craaaaaap. The weirdest part was that it did sound like Kenobi, even from that one little verbal shoulder-tap; mincing little not-quite-British accent and all.

Somehow, he'd expected something more…villainous when it was in his head. So to speak.

Instead, the polite throat clearing noise sounded a little strained, as did the follow-up.  #If it's not too much trouble, since we seem to be going nowhere fast, perhaps you could explain what the hells is going on?#

#Yeah, now is not the time for sarcasm,# Jack snapped back, not sure he was doing it right. Should he be thinking loudly? Mentally yelling it? It was — the whole damn thing was so strange, and in the meantime it really really felt like he was hearing things, but between his ears.

#I would think you would always believe it's time for sarcasm. What happened to my men?#

#Yeah, they're ok, but if you want to see them aga — NO NO WAIT, I didn't mean it that —#

#Yes, I get it, no need to yell!#

There was a really, really weird moment of nursing a mutual headache.

#Okay,# Jack tried again. #They're fine. You're in hot water.#

#I gathered as much. How bad is it?#

#…You were probably a few hours from getting disappeared. Maybe less.#

The MP was nice enough to not even give the regulation shove down into an uncomfortable chair in a small room. Nice, he hadn't realized they had an interrogation room down this corridor. The airmen took up positions inside the door, glaring at him while a lot of activity went on outside.

#Well that's…evocative,# Kenobi finally said. #What would have happened to my troops if I had cooperated instead?#

#…You're joking, right?#

#There is literally nothing here to joke about.#

#You were a lot more fun with Rex.# Jack tried not to sigh as he squirmed around in the chair, trying to find a comfortable position he was pretty sure didn't actually exist. #I'd say two, three days tops, and then they'd go and join you, and in a few weeks we'd get some interesting new places to go. Just a guess, though.#

The silence in his head got to be almost as bad as the silence in the room. Then there was a sigh. #Not…given the limitations of this gate system, and all the places it’s not located. Though from the sound of it, your "friends" wouldn't believe anything about our ignorance.#

#Probably not. Hey, what do you mean, "from the sound of it?" Don’t you get to dig through all my mental dirty laundry?#

It gave him seriously bad goosebumps to feel a controlled anger that definitely wasn't his thrumming through his body. He'd never felt someone else's anger before, and that was…messed up. #Oh, yes,# Kenobi drawled in a biting tone, #let's just have a free for all mental safari in a host that is this side of unwilling, and Force knows that feels like it could tip over the line at any point, and then wave about any and all knowledge I might pick up because of an inferiority complex I obviously have as a lifeform a fraction of your size. What kind of a monster do you thin — HURK!#

The impressive flow of sarcasm slammed to a halt, though Jack was somewhat distracted trying to stuff the vivid images of Hathor’s first incursion back into their box. He could sorta hear something, like Kenobi was whispering curses he didn't quite understand in a variety of languages, but it was faint and distant.

After a moment, Kenobi cleared his throat again. #Oh. GODS. Thank you for stopping that.#

#…stopping what?#

#Do you always have strong flashbacks and mental impressions when someone starts complaining about the “goa'uld,” or was this a special occasion?#

#Well, you ASKED, and it's kinda my head, so you can deal. Also, it's not every day I have an extra passenger up there!# This was a lot messier than Jack had expected, not that he’d thought about it much. Somehow, he'd figured it would maybe turn out to be something Tok'ra-y, with the whole "willing to pass things back sometimes" game plan. Having free reign to do whatever, but with someone else’s emotions and mental commentary pressed against his mind was…strange.

This took ‘back seat driver’ to a whole new level of weird. Even better, he didn't dare take either alternative option: telling Kenobi to drive, or get the hell out.

This was such a fun day.

Kenobi let out a little sigh. Jack seriously hoped it was just mental, because if the damn thing had just expelled a fangy little breath right near his brain he was absolutely-

#No, Jack, I didn't.#

#…so if you're not digging for things, how did you just know about…that?#

#You're thinking it very loudly. Panic can amplify this.#

#I'm not panicking!#

Kenobi didn’t say anything to that – a polite silence, accepting a polite fiction.

Jack sighed, out loud, which made him twitch, which meant the MPs were looking at him oddly. He tried to ignore them, because one strange conversation was two too many. #So how does this work, then? Saying "no unwilling host" is all nice and stuff, but it's not very descriptive.#

There was a quiet little silence. #Your mind, your memories, are as much yours as possible. If you're thinking loudly, I can't help but hear it. So any "oh no I hope he doesn't find this thing!" moments are very counterproductive. I'm told that if there's no training, song lyrics or repetitive verse help distract from that.#

#…are you SERIOUS?#

#You think we're all stodgy 'brain snakes' with no idea how to make this easier?# There was a pause, then another sigh. #…Ah. Right. Well, guess again.#

#…Okay,# Jack grudgingly allowed. #Singing obnoxious songs. What else?#

#Normally, we'd already have worked out who's in charge of what when it comes to combat situations. That's all on you, unless you want assistance.# There was a funny little hesitation, then somehow Jack got an impression of a shrug. #That includes life threatening circumstances.#

#Oh, sure, put it all on me. No pressure.#

#I sincerely hope it won't come up. Are you often at risk in your own home ba — Oh. Oh dear.#

#Yeaaaah, you wanted a quiet lifestyle, you kinda came to the wrong planet.#

#Now you tell me,# Kenobi said, but there was amusement under the exasperation.

The opening door made him sit up straighter, though the look General Hammond was sending his way was not reassuring.

“Sir.” Jack nodded and tried on a grin. “I guess this means I don’t get the comfiest cell on base anymore?”

George sat down across from him, dismissing the guards from the room. Only when they were as alone as they could get in a room with a two-way mirror did the General lose it. “God damn it, O’Neill, I can’t even be sure you’re you! Don’t crack wise with me right now!”

That was a seriously cranky General. Not good. Jack came more to attention, never mind how the chair dug into his spine. Oh fuck please let that not be digging into the friendly neighborhood goa’uld.

He wasn’t sure what he thought of the silence in his head. What the hell did that mean?

Jack shook that off. “Sir, if you can guarantee me that Kenobi gets to come back–”

“We are not even starting to have that kind of discussion!” General Hammond took a moment to try to calm down, but gave up on it as useless fast enough. “And you know better, Jack.” He leaned in closer, staring Jack in the eyes as if hoping to get through to him, past–

Past the goa’uld possessing him.

Oh man, this was doing one hell of a number on his own damn brain. A part of Jack still wanted to jump up screaming because goa’uld, hugging his spine, playing kissy-fangs with his brain.

On the other, dead allies were not usually good allies.

George sat back with a sigh. “There’s absolutely no way – Do you have any idea what kind of a mess this has made?”

“Not nearly as bad a mess as Maybourne would make dissecting General Kenobi.”

George had to clench his hands into fists to keep from throttling the damn fool across the table from him. If Jack hadn't shown more respect towards this ‘Kenobi’ than he's shown towards any other snake, and quite a few superior officers, Hammond would be sure it wasn't Jack talking right there. Yet even before he’d been the biggest idiot on base today, Jack had seemed convinced that an alliance was possible, and that Kenobi was good people.

Which was not helping the local theory of brain washing. Too many people were certain that Colonel O’Neill never did respect of any sort. George knew better, but it was still an easy fallacy to fall into.

A strange, very uncomfortable look crossed Jack’s face, which was oddly the most heartening thing he’d seen in awhile. After all, a goa’uld wouldn’t lose their vaunted superiority so easily, right?

Of course, then Jack had to open his damn mouth. “General Kenobi would like it if I passed along that he’d appreciate not being dissected, thanks.”

Hammond didn’t restrain a glare. “Now is not the time for levity, Colonel.”

“Hey, don’t blame me! I’m not...putting words in his mouth. So. To speak.”

It took rather more effort than normal to not just rest his face in his hands, even with the almost sheepish, far too sly look that was all Jack. Might-be-Jack shrugged. “Okay, so that one was all me, Sir. But he really does have a sense of humor.” Before Hammond could start the sarcastic lecture on how yes, of course, that of all things would be sufficient to convince Maybourne, why hadn’t Jack said something earlier, the Colonel was already leaning forward. “Look, General, we need this alliance way more than Kenobi’s people do. They’d love the intel we have on the snakes, sure, but Apophis and his buddies can’t just roll over these guys.”

“Do I need to remind you that Earth is part of the Protected Planets Trea–”

“Yeah, and that’ll be great right up to the point where the goa’uld figure out a way around that.” The eye-roll, the disdain – it was all Jack, up to and including the scathing look sent George’s way. “You know they will.”

He had to remind himself that the snakes could read any last little detail they wanted out of the host’s mind. “That all sounds very nice. I’d be even happier if I knew it was really Colonel O’Neill speaking.”

“Oh, for crying out – Look. Find a way to get primary custody of Kenobi and his people, and we’d both be more than happy to have him jump ship!”

“What do you think I’ve been trying to do?” He knew he was snappish, but it was better than yelling. George shook his head, glaring at the man behind the goa’uld. “Having you create a damn foothold situation hasn’t helped. Since you were obviously compromised –”

Something so like genuine, O’Neill levels of anger flashed across his friend’s face, Hammond wanted to hit something. “I am not damn well compromised!”

“–even before you invited a snake into residence, you’re going to have lots of time to think this through. Need I remind you that the last time this happened, the only way this stalemate broke involved the death of one of the participants?”

Jack glared away, instead of the snake getting all haughty and huffy. “Maybourne was winning.”

He hated having his hands tied like this. So help him god he wanted to reach in and throttle the damn snake. “So to win this battle, you’d risk costing us the war. Don’t try to tell me you haven’t been compromised.”

Kenobi was nice and quiet during their jaunt to a cell – not at all one of the nice ones. Jack couldn't decide if the whole ventilated plastic theme between the bars was classy, or just dumb. He flopped down on his cot – nice, he hadn’t been certain he’d get one – and he just put his head in his hands. This plan was going so well.

I really, really hope this is the right thing. He hesitated a moment, then shrugged. #You weren’t listening in on that, were you?#

#No, unless you mean the guards talking. You’re getting better about partitioning your thoughts.#

Great. Life skills he always wanted.

#That one, I heard.#

“Still way more fun when you come as a package deal with Rex.” The emotion of amused grief was confusing as hell. Jack lay down, folding his hands behind his head with more care than usual, even if it wasn’t necessary. “The hell was that?”

#I...have to agree with you. However, having Rex as my Second is still rather a new situation for me.#

Jack let out a huff of air, trying not to feel gut punched. #I really shouldn’t like you,# he mentally grumbled, then he froze. Damn. Had he thought that out loud?

For a moment, the voice in his head was quiet, and Jack was trying to come up with some song, any song, but the only lyrics that he could seem to grasp were for the Song That Doesn’t End, and he’d gotten really, really good at ignoring that.

Then there was a sigh. #I’m getting a...“Greatest Hits” list of all the reasons for that, but I am not one of your goa’uld. Also, your language is strange.#

#So are we, thanks.# Jack blinked a few times as he tried to figure out the precise color of the wall, and what kind of paint sample sheet it would come from. To hell with song lyrics. He could do boring. That was a lot better. When he was pretty sure he was seriously considering the difference between eggshell and beige, Jack shrugged. #So. 17, huh?#

#...Thank you for the privacy, that night. I appreciate it.#

#Yeah, well, was the right thing to do.# He shrugged again, wishing he could get that across without actually doing it, the way Kenobi could. That was a neat trick.

After another uncomfortable silence, there was a sigh. #Do you really find it that hard to accept that I’m a reasonable sentient being? Or have these goa’uld poisoned your opinions that thoroughly?#

Oh boy. This was going to be awkward. #Look at it from where we stand. Premier archaeologist helps us open up a door to other worlds. Hello, snaky overlords who want to follow us back and enslave and or destroy everything. Then people we know and care about aren’t just enslaved, but taken over in every possible way, or killed, and we’re fighting for absolutely everything. Not gonna lie; that’s not a good impression.#

There was somehow a peculiar tone to the silence that followed. Then Kenobi spoke in a quiet, incredulous voice. #You can use these stargates, and you still only have humans on this planet?#

#We’ve made some interesting friends. And enemies.# Jack winced a little at how defensive he sounded. #You make it sound like that’s not normal.#

#Not for any planet that’s got any kind of spaceport, or hope of leaving atmosphere.# For a moment, a foreign memory flickered through Jack’s mind, of rows and rows of go-carts in the world’s weirdest stadium, filled with all sorts of things, like some sci-fi convention where crazy costumes were mandatory. Only bigger. Huge.

“The hell was that?” he sputtered, bolting upright and feeling weird and a little overwhelmed.

#Oh, hells.# Kenobi sighed. #I need to work on my partitioning. My apologies.#

“Great, fine, whatever, what was it?”

#That would be the Senate.# really, if you’re evil, I’m going to be so pissed.#

The sound of someone huffing a laugh inside his head was really, really weird. #I shall do my best to avoid that, then. In the meantime, while I’m here, would you object to me...earning my keep, so to speak?#

#Earning your keep, how?# Jack asked, a little bit wary, but mostly curious.

#You have a raging headache that’s plaguing us both. Would you allow me to clear that up? I could also perform what would be considered basic healing and maintenance – healing some cellular fatigue, clearing out toxins that have built up over the years, things of that nature.#

Jack hesitated, because this was a new one.

#Any Jedi offers their host the same, so I've some practice with it. I swear I will only do what you have given me permission to. I understand completely if you do not wish me to.#

It was true Jack had had an on-again-off-again headache since he’d gotten knocked out and kidnapped. Since no one was likely to get him any painkillers any time soon, and it wasn’t like they were going anywhere....

#Basically you want to tidy up. Anyone ever tell you you're a neatnick?#

#I have been accused of that before yes,# Kenobi said, dry amusement clear in his mental voice. #Mostly by my student when I tripped over yet another droid part he'd left lying around.#

Jack grinned a bit. #So, only fixing the headache and a basic tune-up?#


It took Jack a few seconds to weigh his general distrust of goa'uld against Kenobi. #Yeah, okay. Knock yourself out.# He hesitated, then grinned. It was only a little bit forced. #And hey. Thanks.#

Daniel sighed and clutched his coffee mug tighter. He’d had maybe an hour of something approaching sleep before someone thought to tell him that Jack had been incredibly stupid –

Coerced. Not stupid. He took a deep breath and resettled himself as Colonel Maybourne entered the room and sat down next to him. There was no way in any hell Jack would volunteer to –

Daniel was incredibly grateful that the leader of the Jaffa was escorted in. The blond man sat down without prompting, taking a moment to scan the room before glaring off with the thousand yard stare that was becoming disturbingly familiar.

Maybourne either ignored that, or didn’t notice, and Daniel wasn’t in the mood to try and figure out which. The Colonel leaned forward. “Who are you?”

Daniel cleared his throat, wondering why the Jaffa flicked a glance over at him. Power play? Acknowledging the translator but not the speaker was quite an insult. =What are you called?=

=Commander Rex, Cresh-Trill 7567.=

He blinked. That...was unexpected. “He, uh, just confirmed that he’s Commander Rex. And I think, uh, I have his serial number.”

Daniel could see the gears turning, and Maybourne didn’t ask him the expected followup. “Who do you serve?”

It was possibly his imagination, but Daniel thought he could see a flicker of amusement – and possibly disdain – in the Jaffa’s eyes as he translated the question. =The Grand Army of the Republic.=

Mayborne twitched at that, then went predator-still. “What republic?” he demanded, voice harsh.

No, it wasn’t his imagination. There was the slightest flicker around the man’s eyes, like the Jaffa wanted to roll them. =The Galactic Republic, under Supreme Chancellor Satine Kryze.=

“And the goa’uld?”

Commander Rex’s eyes narrowed a little at the word. Apparently Jack had done some language sharing. =My commanding officer is General Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. I am his Second. I demand to see him.=

“You don’t get to make any demands!” Maybourne smacked a fist against the table, making Daniel’s coffee cup rattle. When he related that, the Jaffa snorted.

=And who are you?= the man asked Daniel, unprompted. =Who do you serve?= His eyes flicked to Maybourne before returning to the far wall. =This one? He doesn't seem too competent.=

Daniel froze, not sure what to say. Maybe if he’d had more rest, been able to sleep more lately. Maybe if he knew who the hell he could trust. Maybe then he wouldn’t be obvious about his confusion.

“Jackson, what did he just say? That was too much a mouthful for acknowledgement!”

Daniel held up a finger, not looking away from the Jaffa. =I am called Daniel Jackson.= He hesitated, turning the Ancient over in his head, making sure he knew what he wanted to say. Blustering demands were easy enough; the imperative usually was. Actual conversation was more nuanced. Given the militaristic tone, he might as well claim some status. It wasn’t like SG-1 was a cakewalk for some college freshman. =I serve General George Hammond. This one is...= He hesitated, trying to find the right rank. Dammit. He’d never liked all the military crap. He was lucky he remembered “Commander,” and that was at least half a guess based on Jack’s testimony.=Maybourne, of several titles lower.= Well, at least butchering the language – and insulting Maybourne – got a tiny lip twitch of a smile.

Then the Jaffa surprised him, turning to meet his eyes. =Does he also serve General Hammond?=

“Jackson! What is he saying?

He gestured with the outstretched hand, demanding more time, because this – this was important. =Yes,= he finally decided, slow and uncertain enough that it would be a clear message if the Jaffa really was friendly, if Jack’s enthusiasm for them was based on something real and not absolutely insane.

Compromised. That was the word they liked to keep using.

He didn’t know what he hoped for.


“He’s being very emphatic about seeing his commander.”

Maybourne glared at him, but Danny had perfected the vaguely distant, idiot savant stare way too many lifetimes ago. Like many pompous idiots, Maybourne responded to the song of his people. He bought it. The Colonel snorted and glared back at Commander Rex. “Nnnnno,” the man enunciated, as if the Jaffa were an incredibly stupid three year old. Then he shook his head. “Why are you here?” Disdain dripped off of every syllable. It left Daniel with slimy feeling in his mouth, even if he did convey it as neutrally as possible.

The Commander’s eyes narrowed for a moment, his gaze sliding from the wall, to Danny, then to Maybourne. He held that noteworthy’s disdainful look with a small, feral smile. =We were told this would be a safe place, where we could rest from battle with our mutual enemy.=

Oh boy. Daniel cleared his throat again. “They were, ah, promised safe haven.”

“By who?”

=Who told you this?= Daniel asked, feeling like an idiot.

The Jaffa didn’t look away from Maybourne once. Very calmly, he declared, “Jack.”

Daniel didn't like the answer any more than Maybourne did.

#Sooo. How’s the tidying going?#

#I have absolutely no desire to know what your diet is. I do not believe half of what I’m finding.#

Jack snickered in spite of himself. #Lately? It’s just been sock nuts and fish.# Then he laughed, because somehow Kenobi was conveying the impression of a side-eyed glare, and Jack was exhausted enough that his body was just not up to maintaining a panic of any kind.

#I suppose I did ask for that.#

#A little bit, yeah. So. Uh. How’s it looking, Doc?#

#Like you regularly eat plas and duracrete.#

#I’ll have you know I’ve been cutting back on Twinkies.#

There was an offended silence. #I thought I said I did not want to know about your diet. How do you have this much heavy metals in you? Lead, mercury, something I don't even recognize...#

#Skill,# Jack snickered. #Ask Janet later. She’ll give you a full lecture. Probably preach against coffee again, while chugging down a mug or three.#

#Aahh. Medics. She sounds terrifying.#

#She is.# Jack moved into a slightly more comfortable position, then sighed. #Why the housecleaning mania?#

#...I prefer having a goal. “Waiting” is not a very useful goal, and meditating within a host, without the host, is a challenge I’m afraid I don’t have the patience for right now.#

“Huuh.” Jack stretched a little. “Always did hear idle fins were the devil’s playground.”

It was worth the mental glare.

Maybourne had ordered Commander Rex hauled out pretty quickly after that, and had switched to “the troublemaker” instead.

Daniel wasn’t surprised to find that was the guy who’d almost gotten pistol-whipped trying to follow the goa’uld. The man sat down, every line of him stiff with anger. He had a mutinous glare for both of them, and he spoke before Maybourne could even open his mouth.

=I need to see to General Kenobi.=

Maybourne’s eyes narrowed. “That was the goa’uld’s name, wasn’t –”

=Jedi,= the man snapped, still glaring. =Not goa’uld.=

Daniel held up his hands between the two glaring men. =Who are you?=

=Medic Kix. Cresh-Mern 8397. My commanding officer – =

Daniel blinked at the rapid torrent of words, coming too sharp and staccato to follow as more than demanding syllables. =Wait wait wait,= he demanded right back, shaking his head. =Slower. I cannot understand. Slower!=

The man stopped, taking a single slow, deep breath. Then he glared at Danny. =General Kenobi was injured. We surrendered. We have been peaceful. We have caused no trouble, even when attacked.= His voice snapped a little on the last sentence, and the arrogant tilt to the head showed off the bruise around script tattooed on the side of his head.

A dead?” Between the bruising and the way the Jaffa moved, Daniel couldn’t make out the tattoo very well. He didn’t like what he did see.

=I need a healer’s report on the General, or a chance to check his health myself. We have cooperated with you!=

“What does this one want?”

Daniel blinked and stared at Maybourne. “What?”

The Colonel jerked his chin towards the irate Jaffa. “I sincerely doubt he’s being that wordy to complain about the accommodations. What does he want?”

“He...says he’s a medic. He wants to know the status of his General.”

Maybourne sneered and shook his head. “Entitled bastards, aren’t they. All right, Jackson. I want this conveyed, and I want you to be precise.” The NID representative leaned forward, locking eyes with the Jaffa. “Your ‘General’ is in our custody. It will be dealt with as we see fit, and given that it took over one of our people, you might wish to consider the value of working with us, rather than it.”

Daniel wasn’t even halfway through when the man jerked like someone had taken a cattle-prod to him. He was absolutely pale by the end, and he leaned forward, cuffed hands coming up to grip the table.

=Who?= he demanded. =Did they offer, or– = The Jaffa shook his head, eyes wide. =I have to check him, this is– =

=Why?= Daniel snapped back, lack of sleep mixing with too much caffeine and far too much stress. =Why is this such surprise to you?=

=Jedi are not the goa’uld you have fought. They do not take unwilling hosts!=

=You just admit you are concerned it did!= Daniel knew he was mangling the Ancient a bit, and did not care.

=I have no idea what that cursed circle of yours has done to him! If he has taken someone without permission, he could be delirious, or dying, or something!=

Daniel pulled back, a cold lump in the pit of his stomach. He knew that tone of voice. He’d heard it, over and over and over again, so many times on so many planets and even from his own throat.

This was what the goa’uld wrought. They inflicted that despair on everything they touched, but not even First Primes despaired for their gods.


Daniel jumped a little, head whipping around towards Maybourne. The man was glaring at him, though the exasperated sneer was a little much. “Any day now, Jackson!”

“He...It’s – ” Complicated? Of course it was complicated. How the hell did he distill this down to the relevant bits? This was wrong, this was off, and the horrified way the medic – “healer” if the words translated accurately – stared at him ate into Danny.

“Is he going to cooperate or not?”

He and the healer stared at each other. Cooperate. Work together towards the same ends.

“...No.” The word almost stuck in his throat. He looked over at the thunderously furious man he was supposed to be helping. Cooperating with. Maybourne turned away from him, angry sneer still in place as he gestured for the guards to remove the Jaffa.


Daniel flinched. He refused to look at the Jaffa, but found himself still talking. =I think he is well.= Why were these words easier? This was wrong. =With Jack.=

The man slumped a little, a touch of color coming back to his face as the soldiers hauled him away. Danny couldn’t tell if it really was a traditional benediction he heard, and he had no idea if it was for him, or just in relief.

Sam stepped through the gate, her father and Selmak a reassuring presence at her back. She didn’t like the situation, at all. The message from SGC had been a genuine relief – Jack had returned. It figured he’d find a way back on his own. The news that he’d brought “friends” back was kind of typical icing on the cake.

The news that he had a previously unknown goa’uld with him was...concerning. It was even more concerning for the Tok’ra, who had insisted on having an immediate emergency meeting of every relevant personage they could think of.

Politics. Sam sighed, taking in the airmen on guard – every last one of them on edge. There were no signs of battle in the gateroom, which probably meant something had hit the fan, but not horribly so.

“Something’s wrong,” Jacob grumbled, and Sam nodded in response.

“We must’ve left before another message could make it through. Let’s go find out what followed Jack home this time.”

=So just what does a man have to do to get some bacta around here?=

Daniel sighed. At least this one – Zeffir – seemed willing to speak. The last five had just glared into the distance, reciting name, rank, and serial number. =What is ‘bacta?’=

=Medicine.= The man gestured to his bandaged arm and side. =I appreciate the wrappings, but I would like to be functional sometime this rotation.=

Ah. Janet had mentioned something... =Red? A...= Dammit. Gel. Jelly? Thick substance? Mud? Would that work?

Thankfully, the Jaffa nodded. =Yes, that. Stinks to the lowest layer and back, but heals good.= He made a face. =You would think after a freeze or two they would have managed to improve the smell, but nooo. They swear oaths that it is required. Medics.=

Daniel was almost certain the man knew he was being obscure, and making matters difficult. =Is this medicine required for you?=

The Jaffa looked at him, then down at his wounded side, then back at Daniel. =Nooo, I love being walking wounded.=

=This is...basic medicine?=

=Force bless, you take the time to check and wrap my wounds, you check my abdomen, I thought you were even going to check my shebs, but no bacta? What kind of a facility is this?=

Sam was impressed. General Hammond wasn’t often this bitingly scathing, but it sounded like it was founded in some impressive shit hitting the fan.

She was less impressed with her father. General Carter plus a cranky Selmak meant they were spending a ludicrous amount of time just talking about the matter. Selmak wanted to know anything and everything about the new goa’uld – A General? And what mythology was “Kenobi” from? She desperately wanted back up. Teal’c might well know something, but word hadn’t gotten back from him yet. Danny had been conscripted for Maybourne’s interrogations. Jack –

Yeah. No.

She sighed and placed herself more at attention. If she was lucky, that might clue someone in that maybe action might be better than yapping.

“The hell with this!” Daniel watched Maybourne shove his chair away from the table, letting it slam against the wall. “I’m taking a break. Let him stew awhile, Jackson!” He stomped out of the room, the silence echoing after the litany of ever louder and angrier questions.

Danny just sat for a moment, hands limp on the table. This was exhausting, and that was even with the last three Jaffa simply glaring. This one, who hadn’t even bothered to give his name, had simply been scanning the room, his eyes always returning to an almost frothing Maybourne.

Let him stew? What did that mean, functionally? Was he supposed to declare this, just walk out as well –?

=Sixteen ways.= He whipped around to stare blankly at the Jaffa. The man glanced at him, then back at the closed door. =Eighteen, if you were not here. Perhaps a few more, if there were no call for a line between incapacitated or dead.=


The Jaffa looked at him, then tilted his head to the side a little until the short pony-tail stuck out to the side behind him. He rolled his shoulders, moving his arms, and Danny froze. The range of motion was too wide.

There was the faint rattle-snap of handcuffs closing, and the Jaffa politely brought his re-bound hands up onto the table.=Not here to fight,= the man declared. =Also, your accent is horrible, but your overall comprehension is decent. Did Jack train you?=

Daniel took a moment to sift through the information. He was pleased to realize the Jaffa counted him as a threat, if a fight were to break out. Still, that did nothing for the headache of having his Ancient criticized by one of the Jaffa that had followed Jack home.

He was absolutely furious with Jack, and he desperately wanted to his friend there, able to snark back and explain what the hell was going on with these crazy Jaffa.

Back, and not a puppet.

Jack rolled off his cot, adrenaline spiking though his light nap at the sudden rush of anger/concern/righteous fury/alarm.

“What? What’d I miss?”

#I thought you opposed the goa’uld!#

“Yeah, and?”

The sensation of something almost slimy; grasping and controlling and proud crept into his mind, foreign as the emotions still clanging around.

Weirdly, it was almost familiar.

Jack straightened out of his crouch so fast he heard something pop. “Damn! The Tok’ra! Sam was visiting –” He shook his head and shut his gob. #Look, they’re assholes, but they’re our assholes, ok? The Tok'ra aren't exactly comfortable allies but they are against the goa'uld. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, that whole deal?#

#You do realize that never lasts, and never ends well? You trust this?#

He bobbled his head a little, waving a hand back and forth. #Sorta. Selmak’s not too bad. Look, outside some Jaffa, they’re the only other people we’ve found that –#

A guard opened the door to the main holding area, and Jack slumped in a bit of relief as Sam and Jacob/Selmak walked in. Okay, now they’d get somewhere. Sam –

Shit. Sam came to a sharp halt and gave him a look. Jack was already holding up his hands. “Hey, I know this looks bad, but I swear I’ve got an explanation for this.”

She did the jaw clench that made her look like she could set something on fire with her eyes, then she glanced over at Jacob. General Carter was already shaking his head, and Sam kept turning to face the guard. She pointed over at Jack. “Who the hell is this?”