Keep Your Eye on the Baal
by dinkydow

Ex Deus Machina screencap by JoleneB

"Think I'll turn in." Baal started out of the room. "We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow."

Baal in "Ex Deus Machina"

Chapter One

President Henry Hayes straightened his tie and swallowed hard, but the lump of apprehension was still lodged in his throat. He leaned forward in his seat, palms flat on his thighs - anything to keep his fingers away from the tie that felt more like a noose than a fundamental part of a well-dressed man's wardrobe.

General George Hammond, retired, smiled, "Nervous, Mister President?"

"Does it show?" Hayes shrugged and then tugged at his tie. "You know, I meet with world leaders all the time in this office. Hell, I've even faced down some aliens in my time - but this meeting . . ." his words trailed off and he got up to pace, then as a thought occurred to him, he stopped and faced his companion. "He is human . . . isn't he?"

Hammond chuckled. "Yes, he's human - his blood is just as red as yours or mine. I should know, I've seen it often enough - why do you ask?"

Hayes gave him a lop-sided grin. "Just a thought, what with his Ancient powers and all. According to what I've seen from the SGC mission reports, it wouldn't be the strangest thing to happen by any stretch of the imagination."

"He's no alien - just a very unusual man who happens to be your head of Home World Security."

Henry felt George's eyes while his eyes follow him as he continued to wear a path in the Presidential Seal carpet underneath his feet. "Heck, you even out-rank him."

Hayes gave him a baleful look and stopped in front of him. "That I do - which brings us to the topic of why the chief of Home World Security - and his secretary - are being escorted here by the secret service in my armored limo." He paused. "And don't tell me I told you so, George."

"I wouldn't think of it, Mister President," but George's eyes had a suspicious twinkle in their depths.

"Even though you were against the whole thing from the start and knew how Jack O'Neill would react to being placed in protective custody?"

Hammond shrugged and said nothing. Come to think of it, the man showed some sense there Henry thought.

Hayes resumed his pacing. "So, just how pissed off is he?"

"Oh, I don't know . . . I haven't seen him since we were all medically cleared at the SGC." The balding Texan took his time. "And it's been how long since this whole thing started?"

Hayes paused in mid-stride and cocked his head, brow furrowed, as he counted out the days on his fingers, "Five . . . six . . . seven days?" He nodded, "Oh . . . about a week."

"And Jack was finally allowed to go home . . . when?"

"Today?" Hayes' face fell. "Oh, I see what you mean." He slumped into his chair, "Very pissed then."

"Very," Hammond agreed.

"You sure you don't want to do this?" Hayes gave him a lop-sided grin, the one that had worked so well in situations like this.

Hammond's eyes narrowed. "Are you ordering me to, Mister President?"

"No, I can't do that," Hayes sighed heavily. "This is something I have to do, much as I don't want to."

"I'm glad to hear you say that, Mister President. I was beginning to wonder if working in The Oval Office had," he paused as if searching for the right words, "affected your notion of right and wrong. I'm glad to see that I was barking up the wrong tree."

The fact that his old friend felt he couldn't risk offending him touched a nerve, they'd trusted each other back when they'd served together, but now that he was in the White House, things were different. He wished it weren't so - unfortunately it came along with the territory.

Deflated, President Hayes settled back into his chair and pondered how far they'd both come since they'd been co-workers in the Air Force. The memories of that time helped ease some of the tension he felt.

Henry attempted to lighten the mood; God knew it would be tense enough in the near future. "So, on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the highest . . ."

His reference had the desired effect on the man sitting with him when George chuckled. "You still use our infamous 'Pee-ohed scale'?"

"Officially? No." Hayes shook his head and then grinned. "Unofficially? Every chance I get - and why not? It works."

"And if it works, don't fix it," they chorused together.

"Oh, I'd say it would be around a ten or eleven."

"That high? Let's see . . . on our scale that would mean eyes bulged out, cursing a blue-streak and throwing crockery at the person in question." Hayes nodded, "Can't say as I blame him. We were pretty high-handed with him, weren't we?"

Hammond grinned. "To borrow a phrase - ya think?"

Henry held up a hand. "But not without cause," he amended.

"Mister President, with all due respect, cut the malarkey. I don't deserve it, and neither does Jack. You and I both owe him an apology and you know it."

Hayes opened his mouth to interrupt and George held up a hand. "Wait, let me finish. Even though we had a damn good reason for what we did, we still owe him that much. And a whole lot more if you ask me."

The President grinned and leaned forward, his fingers interlaced in front of him. "Okay, since you brought it up, I am asking; what else do we owe him?"

"Why don't you ask him, Mister President? Though I have an idea what he'll say . . . and it won't be a medal, I can tell you that much. He's already got a chest-full of 'em."

"What will it be then?" Hayes was serious now. "Come on, tell me."

Hammond looked away and his voice grew soft. "I don't know if we can give it to him."

"Why not?"

"Because, he'll say he wants his life back - to be left alone - or retire to his cabin in Minnesota. Unfortunately, I don't think we can afford to let him do that."

George paused and looked at his hands and then back up at his companion. He appeared troubled, as if he was about to betray the trust Jack had in him. Hayes' already high opinion of his Chief of Home World Security went up a notch. If O'Neill inspired that kind of loyalty in an honorable man like George Hammond then he must be something else.

His gaze was riveted on Hammond's face as he continued to speak softly. "You don't know him like I do, Mister President. You see, he didn't ask for all this attention. And if you ask him why he's so danged important, he'll look at you like you've lost your cotton-picking mind. To his way of thinking, being saddled with the Ancient gene is a huge honkin' liability," George paused to smile, "and if he had his say, he'd be rid of it in a heartbeat. As for his success in fighting the Goa'uld and gaining off-world allies like the Asgard, he puts it down to luck - or his team."

Completely serious now, Hammond leveled his gaze at the powerful man sat next to him. "But the fact is that Baal and a whole mess of his clones are still here on our planet, holed up somewhere - planning heaven knows what kind of mischief. The only thing I can guarantee about this particular Goa'uld is that whatever it is that he's up to, it won't be anything good. And chances are pretty high that it will involve Jack O'Neill."

Hayes was silent, with only the sound of a ticking clock in the background. "So . . . what can I offer a man like Jack, besides the sight of a groveling President?"

Hammond shrugged. "The gratitude of a man who's had to make some damned distasteful decisions. Mister President, be honest with him, and help him make some kind of life for himself within the constraints of who he is and his importance to our world."

Hayes nodded. Once again, his friend from Texas had given him the answers he needed.


Ida Grayson, U.S. Army First Sergeant, retired, awkwardly patted her hair into place with her free hand as she settled back into the stretch limo. Having her arm in a cast had played havoc with her personal hygiene and she'd learned the hard way she could knock herself out if she forgot it was there. As if the ache wouldn't remind her.

Seated next to her was her boss, General Jack O'Neill. Both of them had been summoned to the White House by the President himself and were being taken there in his limo. To top it all off, they had a motorcade that usually accompanied top-ranking officials and dignitaries.

She took a deep breath to steady her nerves and then winced when the waistband of her pants dug into her stomach. She'd put on a few pounds recently and her best slacks didn't fit as well as they used to. Plus the awkward cast on her left arm itched and the sling around her neck chaffed.

The pounds she blamed on her cramped quarters and working space in the underground bunker where she'd lived for the past week. The cast was a result of some rough handling by Baal's goons. As for the anxiety - that could be laid at the feet of President Henry Hayes.

She'd never been summoned to the White House before, and as a good NCO, she'd lived by the credo that you never volunteered for anything and avoided being noticed by high-ranking officers. That is, unless you liked having your ass chewed on a regular basis. After twenty-five years in the military, she had enough scar tissue on her backside to last her a lifetime.

She'd only been allowed a short stop at her home - just long enough to change clothes - with a secret service agent guarding her door like she was somebody important. Her choice of clothing had been limited by her broken arm and she'd finally opted for a simple short-sleeved blouse and dress slacks.

Fortunately, her son hadn't left for his college class yet, so she was able to check on him. He said he'd missed her, but seemed to be behaving himself. At least she'd been able to see him though.

When he'd spied the cast, he'd had a fit, which wasn't surprising. After his initial outburst, he'd helped her change, buttons being a bit much for her to handle one-handed. He was a good boy despite his lack of a stay-at-home Mom.

Her job in the Army had kept her from being there as much as she'd liked while her kids were young, and she'd vowed that she'd spend more time with them now that she was a civilian. Looked like that was another promise she might not be able to keep.

According to what her boss had told her, he'd received the same treatment and from the scowl on his face, he hadn't liked it one bit. It made her wonder if she - no they - would ever live a normal life again.

She glanced sideways when she heard a familiar curse.

"Crap," Jack muttered as he tugged at his tie.

"Quit squirming, sir. I'm not gonna fix that for you again if you mess it up," she warned. "And don't make me slap you up-side your head with this cast," she moved the arm in question slightly and then added as an afterthought, "sir."

"'Danged tie feels like a hangman's noose," he said as he hooked a finger under his collar and pulled at the fabric.

"Just be thankful you don't have to wear high-heels, sir," Ida admonished. "I swear whoever invented them must've hated women."

"Why do we have to get all dressed up, anyway? It's only the President," he grumbled.

"Oh, listen to you - 'only the President'," she mocked in a whining tone. "And you know darned well why we're all dressed up."

Jack scowled and continued to worry at his neckpiece.

"Put your hands down and let me look at you," she ordered in her best Drill Sergeant bark. "See? You clean up pretty good, if I say so myself."

The tone worked and he settled down, but not without shooting her a baleful glare; which she let bounce off. It was just another of his cranky moods.

Ida had to admit he cut a striking figure - his lean frame filled out his Class A uniform in all the right places - and his chest was literally dripping with medals. She recognized most of them and had to admit he must've been through the mill - you didn't find those in the bottom of a Cracker Jack box. Before she'd retired, she'd collected her own fruit salad, and while impressive, it couldn't compete with his.

From his chest-full of medals, her eyes traveled upward. The general's tanned neck made a striking contrast to his light-colored shirt and his mouth quirked into a half-smile that showed off his dimples. The dent between his eyes that deepened when he was stressed looked like a canyon, and his expressive brown eyes were obsidian hard.

As for his silver hair, it stuck up in the back despite her best efforts to smooth it down. She'd tried - really she had - until he'd swatted her hand away.

Ida had made a point of walking behind him on her way to the limo - not an easy task because O'Neill was a gentleman and had tried to walk along-side her. The few moments when she'd accomplished her mission had been worth it though. She'd watch his six anytime - literally and figuratively.

Oh, my, yes - her boss made that uniform look mighty fine. If she didn't know he was already spoken for . . . Ida squashed that thought. Time to get your mind out of the gutter girl, he's not only your boss, he's got a woman who thinks the world of him.

Still . . . She puffed out a breath and fanned herself with one hand. Lordy, at the rate she was going, she'd need a cold shower. Somehow the BDU's just didn't do him justice.

"Ida? Are you okay?"

"What?" she sputtered. "Oh, um . . . yes. I got a little warm, that's all."

Ida bit her lip and concentrated on the mantra she'd used as a Drill Sergeant at West Point. 'He's just another wet-behind-the-ears flyboy officer. It's your job to teach him how to behave and hopefully, he won't embarrass you - much - in front of the commander.'

Yep, she told herself. That's all he is, just another officer you have to whip into shape. She groaned and pictured herself doing push-ups . . . a lot of them - followed by a fifteen-mile road march - with a full pack - at Fort Dix in the dead of winter.

"Crap," she muttered and then grimaced. Now he's got me saying it, she thought with chagrin.

The limo slowed and she watched as the gates of the White House loomed into view. She sucked in a breath as they opened and their motorcade crept up the drive to stop in front of a place she'd only seen through the wrought-iron fence till now. They'd arrived - in more ways than one.

From the scowl on O'Neill's face she figured he wasn't looking forward to the coming visit. But then, come to think of it, considering that it was on the President's orders that her boss - and ultimately her too - had been placed in protective custody, he might have a bone to pick with his Commander In Chief.

At least she'd had some inkling as to what was happening when her life was turned upside down; he'd been told nothing. Instead, he'd had been hauled off without knowing who, what, where, or why he was going. She mentally smacked her forehead. Of course he was upset.

"We're here, sir."

Jack raised an eyebrow and growled, "Ya think?"


The writhing symbiote screeched its outrage as Baal held it in both fists. Bringing it to his lips, his perfectly white teeth flashed as he buried them in the neck, and severed the head from the body where it dropped to the floor. Dark ichor dribbled down his chin as he held the now limp body in one hand and swallowed; its blood oozed down his throat. His tongue flashed out as he licked the dead symbiote's life fluid from his lips.

Baal raised the hapless symbiote on high for the assembled clones. "This one dared to defy my commands."

He threw the remains onto the floor where he ground them into the tiles with his heel. The sound of bones crunching underfoot was over-loud in the crowded room.

"Know you this - no one defies me and lives. To attempt it will ensure that you end as this one - offal for my feasting." His eyes flashed as he surveyed his clones. They looked uneasy. Good, that was what he wanted - and expected - from them.

Anat, his blond-haired queen stood at his side, a not-so-subtle reminder that she supported his words and was the power behind his throne. Her slender hand reached out to caress Baal's face and wiped away some of the dark blood from his chin. She delicately licked the blood off her fingers and smiled radiantly at her mate.

He returned her smile and reveled in the offerings her gaze promised; his blood throbbed in his veins as he envisioned their future mating.

Baal's eyes flashed with exultation tempered with the knowledge that he could not afford one moment of carelessness in his dealings with the clones. One moment of distraction would be all it took for one of his rivals to seize power from him. No, his queen would have to wait until he had secured the obedience of his clones.

He wrenched his attention back to the present and his audience. "You exist only to serve me. Nonetheless I know that there are those of you who continue to entertain thoughts of my downfall."

Silence greeted this announcement. They knew better to deny the obvious - he knew them inside and out and their denial would mean nothing. Were he in their place, he would do the same - it was in their nature. And who would know better than he? After all, they were duplicates of the original - Baal.

"You will all receive an implant that will allow you to fulfill the duties I assign you. However, should you fail to comply with my directions, you will die."

Baal chuckled, but the sound held no joy. "This device will be implanted in your brains, at the base of your skull. Not the skull of your host, but your own. Should you disobey my wishes after it has been implanted I will do . . . nothing."

Some of the clones murmured in surprise, the smarter ones were silent and Baal watched them with approval. They had learned that he was a force to be reckoned with. He shared a smile with his queen and she nodded her approval. He knew she had cataloged those who had remained silent.

"The implant will execute my will. If not recharged on a regular basis, it will release a poison into your bloodstream that will dissolve first your body - then that of your host."

"For those who believe - as did this one," he gestured to the slimy remains ground into the floor, "that taking another host will absolve you of your allegiance to me . . ."

He paused and surveyed his audience. They in turn studied him for any sign of weakness.

"To take another host will not enable you to escape my dominion, for you will carry the seeds of your destruction within your own bodies."

He took the hand of his queen, Anat. Together they stood on the dais and surveyed their court of Baal look-alikes. "No one will leave this room until the device has been implanted."

He smiled as he watched the reaction of the clones. It ranged from anger to resignation. All of their responses, though, held the seed of calculated consideration. Even now, he knew, each of them was bent on escaping his domination.

"Jaffa, kree! Bring him."

He watched as his Jaffa presented one of his clones that struggled between them. "This one has been less than successful in his assigned endeavor and received the implant this morning. It was left uncharged to provide a demonstration of my dominion over you." He snapped his fingers. "Observe and learn."

For a moment there was only silence and the sound of the clone struggling against the grip the Jaffa had on his arms. Then the clone's eyes grew wide and he screamed. The bubbling sound rent the air in the chamber and spoke of some nameless terror. The duplicates exchanged troubled glances and then riveted their eyes upon the dais and their unfortunate companion.

The captive's eyes flashed and then dimmed. Spittle dribbled out of his now slack lips as he hung limp between the Jaffa who held him upright. They released their hold on him and he collapsed unmoving on the floor.

An odor of decay - and something else - drifted from the body. Seconds later a tendril of smoke drifted upwards as the body shriveled and then burst into flame. Its bluish fire flared and then died away, leaving behind a pile of ashes where the body of the clone had been.

Baal watched the tableau with satisfaction, his clones seemed to be impressed - or at the very least - aware of the danger he posed. "Remember this; you were created in my own image at my direction. As such I can destroy my creation when it suits me."

His Jaffa were loyal and would obey him - and only him - without question. They'd already been deployed so that all exits were blocked. The clones were completely encircled - and had no place else to go.

"Prepare them. Let none leave until it is finished."

The doctors in their lab-coats waited at the other end of the room as the Jaffa shepherded the clones toward them.

Baal smiled and waved one hand toward his Jaffa. "If any resist - destroy them."

Then he left the room hand in hand with his queen. Reigning over his clones was tiresome and he was in need of a diversion - one she would provide. The next phase of his plan to dominate this world would be set into motion once his clones had been brought to heel. The power of the Ancients would yet be his.


Original Header Information:

Title: "Keep Your Eye On The Baal"
Author: Dinkydow
Sequel to "Baal On The Rebound", action/adventure, hurt/comfort, drama, buckets of angst, and some ship thrown in for good measure too.
Pairings: Jack/Sam
Content Level: 18+
Season: Season 9
Spoilers: "Zero Hour", "Ex Deus Machina"
Warnings: Gratuitous mention of medals, some language, violence, torture, and mention of body parts.
Summary: Baal isn't through with Jack.
Disclaimer: Nope, still 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, so please don't sue. But, if you guys want any help with scripts, or Jack, just give me a holler.
Dedication: To our fighting men and women and the loved ones who watch them march in harms way.
Author's Notes: Here's another Dinkyfic. Thank you to Jolene for serving as a sounding board for this fic. She truly has an evil mind when it comes to whumping Jack. Be very afraid. Thanks also to Linda for the beta.