"The truth is that you are a prisoner of Apophis. When the
symbiote that I carry matures, you will become its host"
"All right, that's sounding a little brainwashey."
Jack O'Neill, Enemies
Colonel Jack O'Neill stared at the blinking cursor on
the monitor in front of him and scowled. He had a mission report to finish... no,
make that a mission report to start. But try as he might, the words just
refused to come.
If he were honest with himself, though, he'd have to admit that he
had danged good reasons for not writing the report. The primary one was
that it was bound to be cram-packed full of emotional minefields.
The whole sequence of events had started out so innocuously, use
their recently acquired Mothership to help the Tok'ra move from Vorash
to another planet. No big deal, right?
He rubbed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, hoping that
this would relieve the burning eyes and pounding headache, all symptoms
of too little sleep and way too much stress. It didn't help. No surprise
But until they knew for sure that Teal'c had come to his senses and
would survive the rite of M'al Sharran, sleep had been a low priority
for the members of SG-1. Once Doc Fraiser had ordered that Junior be
reinstalled in Teal'c's pouch immediately, everyone, Bra'tac included,
had heaved a collective sigh of relief.
However, during the long hours when no one had known for sure if
Teal'c would survive the battle for his mind and soul, the thought of
rest or any hint of normalcy had seemed like an act of betrayal. That
normalcy had included getting any sleep and food and he was paying for
that loyalty now.
While he stood watch over his comrade in the
Infirmary, with little to occupy himself except worry, Jack found himself taking
a trip down memory lane and recalled the long hours when he'd been
pinned to the wall by the orb's spikes so many years ago. Dangling
there like an oversized bug pinned to the wall, legs
flailing ineffectively against the cement walls, Teal'c had refused to leave his side. He'd
even made a joke about it... undomesticated equines. Yep, Teal'c hadn't deserted
him then, there was no way Jack could have done less.
Resolutely, he kept his mind on the rite that had restored Teal'c to
them, to think of anything else was too dangerous, and led to that
emotional minefield that he was so determined to avoid. The relief he'd
felt when Teal'c had pulled through was monumental, yet, it opened those
avenues of thought he'd sooner not travel.
Last time he'd checked, Teal'c had been deep in kel-no-reem and Dr.
Frasier predicted he would be up and around in a couple of hours. It was
enough to make him think fondly of Junior - for all of a nano-second.
Then he remembered just who and what Junior was - mostly what. Can you
And now that the crisis was over General Hammond lowered the boom and
had informed Jack that his reports were past-due. He'd gone so far as to
give him the ultimatum that Jack wouldn't be allowed off-base until said
reports were completed and on his desk. Dang, there was always a flip
So now, here he was, stuck underground, staring at a computer monitor
that remained obstinately blank, except for that danged blinking cursor
that taunted him from the safety of the ether. Meanwhile, the fish in
his pond were probably wondering if he'd abandoned them for good.
'Jeez, Jack, at the rate you're going, it'll be...' he
glanced at his watch and groaned. 'It'll be a long, long time before
you get the chance to feed them worms off your fish hook.'
Jack sighed heavily and glared at the still-empty screen. It had been
a bad idea - the whole helping the Tok'ra move thing. He'd told Hammond
that. Loudly and often - in person on one of his short trips back and
forth from the SGC to Juna - as well as by radio contact.
He'd said it repeatedly to Teal'c.
"Let the Tok'ra get their own Mothership," he'd said.
"There was no share and share alike going on, so why 'lend'
them 'his' Mothership?" He'd asked... and been ignored.
They'd just gotten their mitts on it, and
Harlan's robot duplicates had paid for it with their... life fluid, or whatever that silvery
gunk was. But would the powers that be listen to him? Nooo. Sure, the
shrubs who made those decisions were always harping on the lack of
anything useful to show for all the millions spent to keep the Stargate
operational. Yes, they did that, in spades. Heck, they'd even go so far
as to shut them down and turn off the lights.
So, when they'd finally got their hands on a Mothership, with all the
parts mostly intact and in working order, the Top Brass said to make
nice with the friendly snakeheads and play moving day at the Tok'ra
And now where was that same Mothership with its ultra-cool space
guns? Gone, eaten up by the techno-bugs from hell and then crashed into
a jillion pieces on some planet - pieces so small, Carter would have to
haul in an electron microscope to find one.
The only good thing to come of it was that in crashing, it had
hopefully wiped out all the Replicators onboard and finally killed off
that scum-sucking snakehead Apophis. May he rest in pieces - lots of
them. Chances were pretty good that he was nothing more than a wet spot
on the planet's surface, squished into so many pieces that not even a
sarcophagus could put him back together again. And wasn't that a shame?
In the meantime, he still hadn't made any progress on his report - or
should he say reports? The Mothership had been sadly lacking in the PC
department, so he just hadn't had the time or the equipment to write
them. They had huge honkin' space guns and death gliders out the wahzoo,
but apparently the snakeheads didn't put a premium on fonts and bullet
point summaries. And don't get him started on the Tok'ra's idea of
record-keeping. Last time he'd checked their crystals weren't compatible
with Microsoft. Not that he'd had the spare time to write those danged
'Enough wool-gathering, Jack. Your trip down memory lane is not
getting this sucker typed.'
Back to the mission and how it'd all started - with the directive
that they help the Tok'ra move. Times like these it sucked to be a
colonel to one's general. Though he did have to admit that Hammond - or
the brass over him who gave the order - had no clue what was gonna
happen - hell, 'he' hadn't a clue that what happened would have
happened. And he was there watching it happen when it happened.
He frowned as his mind tried to follow the logic of his last thought
and failed so he sighed in frustration.
Jack buried his head into his hands and remembered the shock as
Teal'c's heavy and frighteningly limp body catapulted into his arms and
smoke and seared flesh burned his nostrils. His training had kicked in
even as his mind was consumed with white static that blared the news
that his friend had gone down for the count - and wasn't getting up this
Treacherous legs propelled him into cover as well-trained arms had
given answering fire to the Jaffa that drew a bead on him. And through
the blue haze of the zat hiss the object of Teal'c's obsession loomed -
Tanith. A very much alive Snakehead complete with overbearing smirk that
Jack so wanted to wipe off his face.
At that moment the whole Jaffa Revenge Thing was all that kept Jack
O'Neill from succumbing to his body's need to shut down. Frozen muscles
released a hail of bullets to wipe out the snake. But it wasn't enough.
Though he thought some of his rounds might have found their mark, it was
too late. Tanith was gone, along with Teal'c.
Jack wailed inside as he finally lost consciousness. Teal'c was dead
and Tanith lived. He so wished the reverse was true, but it was not. Far
from it. Even with Junior's help to heal him from the worst of injuries,
this wound had to have been fatal.
Caught up in his thoughts - in real time - his own fingers dug into
the back of his neck, as if he could rip his head off and rid himself of
the memories that lay there. This most recent one was just a diversion
from the main event, the dirty hidden one that he refused to face.
Eyes reflected back to him from the computer monitor, hollow with
loss, and dark with guilt - covering the pain he refused to - could not
Years of practice got the words and actions down in dry impersonal
mission reports; the emotions would take a brick of C-4 to dislodge from
his subconscious. Somewhere, down deep, that box was having additions
added. Jack just wished it would assimilate them at a faster rate.
Suddenly he was back in the Mothership with his team. They had just
brought Teal'c and his Jaffa friends onboard. Along with someone else
too, only they hadn't known that at the time. He stiffened as the
previous events unfolded inside his mind, with Jack an unwilling
As the cargo bay doors swished open, Jack saw a man who he'd given up
for dead - Teal'c! Unaccustomed emotions washed over him at the sight,
and his friend had never looked so good as now. With an honest, wide and
teeth-baring smile, he walked toward him with open arms, eager to touch
and hold one of his greatest treasures. "Hey!" Jack wrapped his arms
around him as they embraced. "Buddy!"
Abruptly, Teal'c disengaged and stepped away, Jack's side arm now in
his hand and pointed directly at him.
'For crying out loud,' he thought as his exuberant emotions
crashed around him. 'If I didn't know better, I'd think Teal'c was
one of the bad guys.'
Jack rolled his shoulders to get rid of the itch that had developed
there, the same one that erupted whenever things were about to go south
in a very bad way. That itch had never proven him wrong before, and at
that moment, it was going into overdrive.
"What cha got going here, Teal'c?" Jack's smile faded, along with his
last hope of this all being a joke when he saw Apophis and the smirk of
satisfaction the snakehead was wearing. Why did that itch have to be
right so many times? Jack thought with disbelief.
"Well done, Teal'c! Finally you may resume your rightful position as
my First Prime."
Held at gunpoint by Teal'c, the Jaffa squad divested them of their
vests, radios, remaining weapons, and their utility belt - and anything
that was attached to said utility belt. With their canteens gone, they
were about to get very thirsty.
When an overzealous Jaffa tried to take the belt that held up his
pants, Jack protested. "For crying out loud, it's holding up my
"Leave it," Teal'c nodded and motioned them forward with Jack's
sidearm. Jack's. His. Crap.
And through the whole messed up scene, Apophis strutted around like
he owned the place and Teal'c backed him up. It was enough to make him
wonder if Teal'c really knew what he was doing.
As his mind struggled to come to grips with the new events, Jack
noticed the smallest, most inconsequential things. Carter looked like
she'd been slapped, and Daniel's face was all wrinkled as his brain
tried to work out the new facts that had presented themselves.
Jack's fingers itched to push Daniel's glasses back up his nose and
he quashed it with an effort. After all, he'd already allowed himself a
spontaneous moment and look where they all were because of it!
Jack O'Neill grimaced as they were escorted to a compartment; led
there on the orders of their teammate, Teal'c. Something smelled, and it
wasn't because they hadn't had a shower in quite awhile.
'But Teal'c hates Apophis, he must have a plan...
and all I have to do is play along until he lets me in on the
secret. Yeah, that must be it. Teal'c would never... would he?'
As they were herded into an empty compartment, Jack took his time
so that Teal'c ended up at his side. Then he stopped and spoke in a whisper.
"All right, this is... feeling like, ah, a strange plan... just... let me know what to do... and when..."
His words stopped only when Teal'c backhanded Jack with his own
handgun, a move which knocked O'Neill backwards where he landed on his
back with a thud.
"Ah!" Automatically Jack curled into a ball and rolled with the
punch. "Whoa!" he yelled and cupped his nose with his palm. "Ow!" his
voice had a nasal twang heard through the cover of his hand.
Daniel advanced toward the nearest Jaffa and then
stopped short when Teal'c brandished Jack's gun threateningly at him. "Come
on, Teal'c. You don't really think you're... still First Prime of Apophis?"
Teal'c scowled. "I have never ceased to be in the service of my
"All right, that's sounding a little brainwashey." Jack staggered to
his feet, still fingering his sore nose. "You don't believe that guy's a
god any more than I do."
His words seemed to have an effect as Teal'c lowered the gun, squared
his shoulders and lifted his head. An arrogant expression painted his
features, an arrogance other 'bad' Jaffa affected. Jack never imagined
that ugly expression on his friend's face, let alone directed at
"What the hell's that supposed to mean?" Jack asked angrily in a
too-even voice. Teal'c's expression didn't change from the cruel scowl
of disdain so Jack continued in an astonished tone. "Come on! We're
friends. You're trying to tell me you don't remember what's happened
these past four years?"
"I remember everything. It makes me 'ill' to think I was forced to
pretend to be your friend."
Daniel raised his eyebrows in seeming disbelief at the contempt
contained within those words and exchanged a worried glance with
Ignoring their expressions of disbelief, Teal'c continued. "So many
times, I've saved your life when I've wished I could watch you DIE!"
Jack affected an injured but
understanding yet mocking tone, similar to one he'd heard Dr. McKenzie use. "It hurts me
that you would say that... but, that's okay... cause I know it's not true."
Teal'c's haughty scowl never faltered as his words continued to
hammer at Jack's belief in his friend. "Your 'belief' is not
'Okay, so that tactic didn't work, no surprise there, considering
who I stole it from,' thought Jack. 'Next step, try reasoning
with him.' "It doesn't make any sense." He paused, waiting for a
response from Teal'c - one that never came. "Come on! You and I together
have taken down half a dozen Goa'ulds."
"Enemies of Apophis." Teal'c's arrogant expression never faltered;
that mouth that - in other times had curved upward in a smile only
turned downward in a cruel sneer.
"And we kicked his ass - twice. Hell, you sat around and watched him
Teal'c straightened with pride, his eyes blazed with the fire of
fanatic adoration. "I knew he would be reborn more powerful than
Jack shook his head; his hands both signaling his disbelief and his
need to escape the futile argument, nothing was working. "I'm talking to
a wall here." He almost shouted and stepped back, pinning Daniel and
Carter with his gaze, hoping they could help. "Anybody?"
Daniel took up his challenge. "Teal'c, remember when Apophis
brainwashed your son, Rya'c?" Teal'c ignored him and turned to leave.
"Consider the possibility. Daniel's last words were small and spoken to
a closed door. "Or don't."
Consumed by the memories, Jack shook his head in disbelief. Who would
have believed that seeing Teal'c alive and apparently well would have
not only made him feel giddy, but guilty? He was supposed to be better
than good at his job, but he'd even lost his friend's dead body.
Talk about poor judgment; his sucked as badly as one of Carter's
black holes. He'd walked up and hugged the Jaffa knowing full well that
he'd been in the hands of Apophis. The shocked look on his face - the
one he knew had to be there - wasn't at seeing Teal'c alive, nor at
seeing that snake strut in like he owned the place, but at his own
stupidity. He'd failed Teal'c again. He should have seen it coming, and
taken steps to minimize the damage.
If he'd had his ducks in a row, he'd have captured Teal'c and
Apophis. But, no, that was just too easy for Jack O'Neill. Throughout
this entire mission, and the couple that came before it, he'd merely
been along for the ride, clueless and helpless to effect any change in
the events while those around him paid the price for his ineptitude.
A case in point: look at what had happened to
Harlan's robots. Much as he wanted to wring Harlan's beefy neck, and whip
his double's ass, they didn't deserve what they'd gotten. What had happened
to Jack he deserved, but for it to touch Teal'c the way it had...
'Well, Jack, maybe it's time to retire before you really screw
things up and they throw you out?'
Yanked back to the present Jack jerked and his wheeled chair skidded
out from under him, landing him on his butt on the floor.
"T?" Jack smiled up at his friend who stood at his door, the corners
of his mouth turned upward in a half-smile, so totally opposite to that
previous scowl. "What cha doing?"
Then he shuddered as his words seemed to echo eerily inside his head
and brought back memories - ones that he'd done his best to stuff into
that locked box. The same box that now had new additions along with
other things that were best not dwelled upon and he fervently hoped
would be forgotten. Not that they had been - forgotten that is. But one
could always hope.
Caught inside the memory, he was no longer in his office. Instead, he
stared into the business end of a zat. His last thought was he'd never
noticed how beautiful the color of the energy discharge was. Then it
enveloped him and he became one with it.