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Becoming the Fifth Race
by dinkydow


Fifth Race screencap by JoleneB


Part One: Downloaded Jack

After stepping through the rippling blue surface of the Stargate event horizon, I looked around me in amazement. The Asgard had kept their promise to me and disabled the protective iris so I could return home safely. I ignored the sound of the Gate disengaging behind me as I walked slowly down the ramp. Once again, I found myself deep within the bowels of Cheyenne Mountain at Stargate Command. The familiar military-gray walls of the Gate room and the expectant faces of two members of my team were waiting for me. I couldn't see Captain Samantha Carter, my 2IC, yet, but figured she must be in the control room doing her thing with the computers. Dr. Daniel Jackson, my team archeologist, had a look of wonderment on his face and moved to greet me. Teal'c, my Jaffa friend from Chulak, had one eyebrow raised which meant he was turning cartwheels, at least on the inside. They both looked relieved to see me. To tell you the truth, I felt the same way. The last time I had seen this place, I had thought it would be my last glimpse of a Base that had become my home.

"I'm back," I quipped.

"What happened?" asked Daniel. Of course, he would be the one to ask. After all, he had been my lifeline and my only means of communicating with my own world. More importantly, he had understood some of the agony and terror I was experiencing as the knowledge of the Ancients had slowly taken over the brain of yours truly, Colonel Jack O'Neill, USAF, Commander of SG-1.

"Do you still possess the knowledge of the Ancients?" That question came from Teal'c. Trust my Jaffa friend to get straight to the point. He's like that.

"Nope, don't remember a thing. But you know that meaning of life stuff?" Daniel nodded to show his comprehension of my question.

"I think we're going to be alright." I couldn't tell any of them just how I knew this, of course. The reason being that I hadn't quite been telling them the whole truth when I said I didn't remember a thing. In all honesty I remembered a whole lot more than I really wanted to. Foremost in my memory was the pain and frustration I had felt as the very essence of my being was slowly devoured and taken over by the data from the Ancients. My head had hurt so much that it felt like it was going to explode. As for the knowledge that had been downloaded into me, that was gone, at least for now.

My introspection was interrupted by the familiar voice of the Commanding officer of Stargate Command, Major General George Hammond. I noted that Carter had joined Teal'c and Daniel in the Gate room. She gave me one of her incandescent smiles, the kind that makes my day. I smiled back.

"It's good to have you back, Colonel O'Neill. Get checked out at the Infirmary and then report for your debriefing. I have a feeling you have a lot to tell us," commented the General.

"Yes Sir. Oh by the way, Thor's buddies send their regards," I answered and snapped off a salute to him as he gazed down from the Control Room. I turned and started towards the Infirmary. I noted that my team, SG-1, were surrounding me. They had closed ranks around me, as if afraid I would vanish if they weren't there. That really wasn't surprising, considering everything that had transpired since my fateful encounter with the Ancients' headgear on planet P3R-272. They had been forced to watch as the co-worker they knew was slowly taken from them, leaving behind a pseudo-Jack that spouted incomprehensible gibberish and made weird doohickeys. Daniel had been the only one of my team who could even begin to understand what I was saying or what had been happening to me.

The next thing I knew, I was staring straight into a bright light. For a moment, I panicked, 'Crap, not that head-grabbing Ancient thingy again!' I squinted my eyes to lessen the glare and covered my eyes with my arm. I could hear the voice of Dr. Janet Fraiser, Chief Medical Officer of the SGC. Well, that explained the bright light,' I thought. 'Just Doc armed with her pen-light from hell.' When I could see clearly again, I realized I was staring at the familiar ceiling tiles of the Infirmary.

"Crap! What happened?" I muttered blearily. The ceiling was replaced by Dr. Fraiser's concerned face.

"You passed out, Sir. In fact, if it weren't for Teal'c catching you, your head would have bounced off the cement floor of the Gate room." Crap. I couldn't remember that happening. I guess my little adventure must have taken more out of me than I had thought. Come to think of it, I couldn't remember the last time I'd slept. Right now the idea of sleep seemed pretty attractive to me, but I knew I couldn't keep the General waiting. I struggled to sit up in the bed.

"Colonel O'Neill. You need to stay still. I haven't finished my exam yet," announced the Doctor sternly. To add further emphasis to her suggestion, she placed her hand firmly on my chest and pushed me back down. I squirmed under the pressure.

"Aw, for crying out loud. I feel fine. The General is waiting for me to report to him and we don't want to keep him waiting. Do we, Major?" trying for a bit of intimidation in order to escape her domain.

"Colonel O'Neill, the only reporting you will be doing for the time being will take place right here. The General ordered me to check you out, and by God, I intend to do just that. After all, you've just returned from an unknown destination and it is my job to give you a thorough examination. The General knows this will take some time and is already aware of the situation. In fact, he was there when you hit the floor, so lie still while my nurse gets some blood samples."

"But Doc.."

"Sir, if you don't cooperate, I will get the samples and my needles are much bigger than the ones my nurses use." I settled back on the bed. I knew when she had me beat. Dr. Fraiser wasn't a big person, but she ruled her corner of SGC like a tyrant and struck fear in the hearts of everyone, especially me. I nodded wearily and stuck out my arm for the waiting nurse, using my free arm to cover my eyes once more.

"Oww!" I yelped as the needle struck home. The nurse just smiled and continued filling the vials. I spared a sideways glance, and noticed that she had already filled two tubes and had attached a third. By now I had noticed that my uniform had been replaced by hospital scrubs at some point. 'Hmm, the Doc must have ordered the switch while I was out for the count,' I thought. I realized I must have really been out for the count if being stripped out of my uniform by a bunch of female nurses hadn't woke me up.

"What're you trying to do, drain me dry? At the rate you bloodsuckers are going, I won't have any left. And where did you put my clothes? I hope you didn't cut my boots off again because I so don't want to break in another pair. I hate blisters, you know," I grumbled. I grimaced as the Doctor turned her eagle eye towards me.

"Are you going to cooperate, or do I need to take over?" Jerking my eyes away from her steely gaze, I winced. I so did not want to get the Doc pissed off at me. The size of her needles were legendary and my butt did not make the ideal pin cushion.

"Sorry, Doc, I guess I'm just tired. It's been a busy couple of days for me, you know."

"All the more reason for me to check you out thoroughly, Colonel. I'm just looking out for you. By the way, Sir, when was the last time you ate anything?"

"Umm, I don't remember Doc. The Asgard offered to throw me a party, but I turned them down. And as for sleep..."

"I thought so, Sir. After the tests are over, I am prescribing a stay in my Infirmary for overnight observation. By then your test results should be in and I'll know if you're OK. So you might as well relax and get some rest while you can. I'll send someone down to the Commissary to get you something to eat. Your blood sugar level is probably pretty low at this point." I shrugged my shoulders to indicate that I would go along with her orders, for now.

I must have drifted off to sleep again, because the next thing I was aware of was distant voices talking softly. It seemed like too much effort to open my eyes, so I just laid there, listening. By concentrating, I found I recognized the voices, and they seemed to be getting easier to understand. The General's gruff voice was interspersed with comments from Janet. I decided to open my eyes, figuring my boss was there to hear my report. Dim lighting greeted me and I realized some time must have passed. I had been a resident of the Infirmary often enough to know that the lights were dimmed during the night shift.

"How can a guy get any sleep around here with all this racket, Sir?" I groused good naturedly.

"I'm glad to see you're finally awake, Colonel." General Hammond smiled at me as he watched Dr. Fraiser aim her penlight towards my eyes. I winced and slammed my eyes shut to avoid the sudden pain that lanced through my brain.

"I see your eyes are still very photosensitive," murmured the Dr. as she put the light back in her pocket and began taking my vitals. "Pulse is strong, and no sign of any fever. How bad is the headache, Colonel?"

"Not bad," I muttered.

"How bad is it, Sir, on a scale from one to ten?" she asked.

"Umm, a five?" Squinting my eyes seemed to help the pain a little, but I could see she didn't like my answer. She looked worried.

"Sir, I can give you something for the pain." With I grimace, I slowly nodded. The Doctor seemed relieved at my agreement and quickly administered a shot into the IV that was sticking out of my arm. Immediately, I felt the warmth of the drug spread though my body, leaving relaxed muscles in it's wake. The pounding in my head gradually lessened, and I expelled sigh of relief.

"While you were napping, I started an IV as you were severely dehydrated as well as suffering from low blood sugar," continued Dr. Fraiser. "You'll be glad to know that you are definitely you, and your MRI showed no abnormalities. I must have looked puzzled, so she clarified her statement.

"The DNA sample showed a perfect match, Sir. We had to make sure they returned you in good condition, Colonel. And according to the MRI, your brain functions are back to normal."

"Do you feel up to answering some questions for me, Colonel?" asked the General. I looked at him, surprised to hear to hear the anxiety evident in his voice. I didn't look that bad off, did I?

"Yes Sir, where do you want me to start?" The General walked to the side of my bed and sat down before replying.

"How about telling me what was on the other side of that wormhole you went through. You know, we weren't sure if we would be able to get you back, Jack."

"I wasn't sure that I would get back either, Sir. The man that left here through that Stargate wasn't really me anymore. It was like I had someone else sharing my head with me. Hell, I couldn't control any part of my body and couldn't communicate with any of you, except for Daniel. You know, he was right when he told you I was already gone. Thanks, by the way, for letting me go, Sir. I really don't think I would still be alive if you hadn't."

"Why else do you think I let you go, Colonel? That was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I honestly didn't know if I would ever see you again." I gave him a grateful look before continuing.

"But, the good news, Sir, is that I got to visit Thor's home planet. After one hell of a ride on the Stargate Express, I ended up on the Asgard home planet of Othala. Evidently, it's not every day that someone rolls down the steps from their Stargate so I got the attention of several of Thor's Asgard pals right away. One of them had this cool thingy on his palm that he used to help me out. They got a little condescending after that, telling me our brains couldn't handle all that stuff." I took a deep breath as I remembered tumbling down the steps from the Stargate and coming face to face with those skinny gray guys. The General nodded to indicate he understood.

Both Janet and Hammond seemed pretty engrossed in my story. I'll have to admit, it was a doozy. It wasn't every day that a human being was able to visit a planet in another galaxy. However, I also knew that there were some things that I couldn't tell anyone, not if I valued my freedom. In fact, I was surprised that the NID hadn't sent Colonel Maybourne over to pick me up by now. I decided to take the bull by the horns and ask about those slime balls.

"By the way General, have those NID goons been nosing around yet? I would so not like to spend the rest of my Air Force career as a lab rat at Area 51."

"That depends on what I tell them, Jack."

"Ahh."

"I've been able to stall them for now, but you know as well as I do that they are notoriously persistent when they get wind of something that could be used as a weapon. And Colonel, when they heard about all that stuff you were doing, they got VERY interested in you. Is that info from the Ancients gone now, like you said in the Gate room?" Now I was glad that I had asked. At least now I knew what I was up against.

"General, all that Ancients crap is gone now. It's zip, no more, nada, taken a hike, and shuffled off to Buffalo. All you got now is just one very tired and worn out bird Colonel who would love to do nothing more complicated than sit down in front of the TV with a beer and watch a hockey game." Hammond let out a relieved sigh and Dr. Fraiser actually smiled as she turned to the General.

"General, the Colonel really needs to get some rest now. He's been through quite an ordeal and his body needs sleep to help him heal. I already sent his team to bed because they were practically walking in their sleep. I realize you need this information, but can't he finish with the debriefing tomorrow?" I could feel my eyelids getting heavier and knew I wouldn't be able to keep them open for much longer. Crap, the Doc could read me like a book. My CO must have noticed too, because he agreed.

"Very well, we'll finish the debriefing later, Colonel. In the meantime, you get some rest. Keep me informed on his condition, Doctor." With that, he walked out of the Infirmary.

I must have fallen asleep again, because suddenly I was back on Othala listening to the Asgard guys talk to me. One of them raised his hand and I could see that his palm was all glowy. I watched as a shimmering light formed in front of my eyes and traveled quickly to end at the glowing thing in his raised palm.

It was then that I realized what had really happened back there. Thor's buddy hadn't used that palm thingy to suck that stuff from my head. Thanks to the enhancements gained from that download, my brain had reached out to him and manipulated his palm device to help me to adapt to all that information. My brain had used that palm thingy to transform all that knowledge into something that wouldn't end up killing me. The knowledge of the Ancients was all still there locked away in a corner of my mind, just waiting for the right time to come out. Somehow, I also knew that this information would be made available to me on a "need to know" basis.

Now their cryptic statement of "You have already taken the first steps towards becoming the fifth race," made sense. The Asgard hadn't been talking about the human race as a whole. They had been talking about me. No wonder they had seemed surprised. Hell, I was surprised too! After all, that Alliance IS a pretty heady group.

Armed with this insight, I opened my eyes. I realized I needed to do some thinking about this new and improved version of the one and only Jack O'Neill, especially where the NID and the snakeheads were concerned. After all, Momma O'Neill didn't raise no fool.

Continuing to play the dumb soldier would be harder now, but I felt like I already had the act down pretty good. After all, not even Daniel and Carter knew about my college degrees or the fact that I was fluent in five languages. No, make that six now. And if I had anything to say about it, they certainly weren't going to find out about it any time soon.

I resolved right then and there that I wouldn't tell anyone just how much I still remembered from my encounter with that crazy headgear. Not the General, not my team, not anyone. A part of me felt badly about withholding this from the General, but if I told him about what was still tucked away in a little corner of my brain, he would be put in the position of having to report it to his superiors. From there, it was just a short step to a one way ticket to the NID labs in Area 51 for yours truly. Not to mention what the snake heads would do to get their slimy hands on all that intel. Becoming one of their "guests" was so not on my list of fun things to do. Their brand of hospitality definitely left a lot to be desired and their over-the top d├ęcor really sucked. No, this definitely was a secret that I would have to keep to myself. I sighed as I as I drifted off into sleep again. It was going to be alright, I just knew it.

Next

Original Header/Footer Information:

Title: "Downloaded Jack" Part 1 of the "Becoming The Fifth Race Series"
Author: dinkydow
Email: jd3031@socket.net
Category: Missing scene, Angst, Drama
Rating: PG
Spoilers: "The Fifth Race"
Summary: Jack's POV after returning from the Asgard home planet.
Disclaimer: Nope, don't own any of them. Couldn't afford to if I did and don't have a mountain to hide them in. Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Productions do. I wrote this for entertainment and won't be making any money for it. (heavy sigh).
Author's Notes: So, whatcha think? A big thank you to Alice and my husband Jerry for betaing this for me. Yes, send feedback!
To be continued? So tell me what you think. Don't quit your day-job or what? Do you want me to write Part 2? Give me feedback, please! dinkydow dinkylay@gmail.com