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Baal on the Rebound
by dinkydow

"You dare mock me?"

"Baal, c'mon, you should know . . . Of course I dare mock you."

Baal and General Jack O'Neill in "Zero Hour"

Zero Hour screencap by JoleneB

Chapter One

President Henry Hayes settled back in his easy chair and adjusted his reading glasses on his face. He'd been looking forward to this all week, a chance to sit back and do nothing but read a good book. He reached for the glass of chocolate milk sitting on the end table, took a sip and sighed with pleasure. It was chilled, just as he'd ordered.

Now to get down to business, he picked up the book, the latest from Tom Clancy, propped his slippered feet up on the ottoman, and nestled into the chair. Just as he opened the book, he heard a strange humming.

He sat up in his chair - no need to get excited, yet. After all, he was fully protected by the Secret Service. Heck, he'd even had to order them outside the room so he could have a bit of privacy while he read his book.

The humming got louder and the door to his private sitting room predictably burst open. Three black suits with fingers pressed to their earphones rushed into the room.

One gestured to his charge, "Please come with us, sir."

"Dammit, what the hell's going on now?" Henry huffed. "So help me, if this is the Air Force dinking around with some new gadget of theirs . . ."

Reluctantly he allowed them to surround him as he stepped away from his chair, and his book. With a stiff grin, he grabbed his glass of chocolate milk and cradled it in his hands. When the black suit gave him a look of disapproval, he didn't lower his gaze.

"Don't want it to go bad," he replied with a charming smile, the same one that had helped win him this last election and had little old ladies simpering into their hankies in all fifty states.

"We're just concerned for your safety, sir," the suit replied.

However, before he could be hustled to the open door, a bright flash of light temporarily blinded him. He stopped, rubbed his eyes with one free hand and wiped the tears from them. A thud by his feet and the sudden feeling of something wet told him he'd lost his prize.

Distracted, he watched the brown liquid spread over a priceless rug, a gift from the Iranians. There would be hell to pay with the housekeepers tomorrow, not to mention what the Iranian Ambassador would make of it if he found out.

The brief diversion won him the time to clear his eyesight, and judging from the sparkles glistening off the overturned glass on the floor, the light was fading.

His mouth hung open when he looked up, for in front of him sat an alien type throne or chair, complete with a naked gray alien. Well, of course, what else would be sitting there?

Three guns immediately appeared and pointed in the alien's direction.

Henry stepped forward. "Wait." Something about his appearance rang a few bells for him. Was it? Maybe? "Do I know you?"

The alien's black eyes opened wide in seeming consternation. He, no - It, blinked and then opened his small mouth. "No, you know of me. I am Thor."

Henry smiled and offered his hand. "Of the Asgard?" Thor nodded and hopped off his chair to take the President's hand. Funny, the little alien didn't feel slimy, more soft and powdery.

"Yes, I presume O'Neill has told you of me and our relationship with the people of your planet."

Henry turned to the Secret Service men standing, guns at the ready and waved them off. "It's okay, men. He's a friend of ours, one of the good guys."

Two of the suits looked doubtful, but the presumed leader nodded, his hand on his earphone. "Identity of intruder confirmed. He's a friendly." Then he turned to Henry. "We'll be right outside if you need us, sir."

Henry nodded and sat in his chair while Thor settled into his. "As happy as I am to finally meet you, I'm sure you didn't come all this way just to say hi."

"You are correct. I have come to warn you of a danger as yet undetected by your planetary surveillance system."

"What do you mean?"

"We have several sensors placed throughout your solar system to monitor all unusual space traffic. In the past months, we have detected several ships of Goa'uld design orbiting your planet."

Henry leaned forward, his eyes wide. "You spy on us?"

Thor blinked. "We have monitored the growth of your species for hundreds of years."

Henry gulped and stuttered awkwardly. "Oh, so the stories about the Roswell aliens . . .?"

"Have some truth to them - yes." Thor admitted.

Henry took a moment to get his bearings and digest the information. "You mentioned danger and Goa'uld ships?"

"Yes, as you are aware, the power of the System Lords was broken at the battle of Dakara. However, some of their leaders survived and have withdrawn to other less-populated worlds to rebuild what was lost. It is our belief that one former System Lord in particular has chosen your planet as his latest refuge."

Henry's mind raced. "And this would be . . .?


"I was afraid you'd say that."

Thor nodded. "I see that you are aware of the particular enmity this Goa'uld holds for the people of your planet - And one person in particular."

"Jack O'Neill."

"Yes. Our race would be greatly saddened," Thor raised a single stubby, admonitory finger, "and disturbed if any harm were to come to a man to whom my race owes a great debt. It is because of this debt that I am here tonight."

"I understand. As a matter of fact, we also value Jack O'Neill and his abilities - and have a plan in place to ensure his safety. Mind if I make a phone call?"

"I do not."

Meanwhile, Henry had punched in a few buttons and was speaking into the phone. "Jumper? I just got a visit from a little friend of ours. Yes, you might say he traveled a very long way. I want you to initiate 'Operation Magic Touch' effective immediately, seems we've got some unwelcome visitors hanging around our neighborhood." He paused. "Good, let me know when it's finished."

The little alien shifted in his chair and the movement grabbed the President's attention, "You will provide for his safety on your world?"

"For the time being, unless we find that doesn't work." Henry looked up, surprised to see Thor standing beside him. "Why?"

"The Daniel Jackson has been placed at your disposal if a safe place is needed." The alien sighed and shook his head. "It is doubtful that O'Neill will be pleased with any arrangements we might make for his well-being."

Thor handed him a shell. "Should you require assistance in providing for the safety needs of O'Neill, I will be aboard the Daniel Jackson and can be contacted with this communication device."

Hayes took the shell in his hand and hefted it. "Sure. I'll keep in touch."

Thor glided back to his chair and sat down. "Make no mistake, we value the safety of Jack O'Neill greatly and wish only the best for him." Then he pushed a button and vanished in a glare of bright light.

Belatedly, Henry waved to the spot where Thor's chair had been. "Thanks for stopping by. I'll be in touch."

Henry shook his head and stuck the shell in his jacket pocket as he padded to the door. "All clear here, guys. But you might want to put on a pot of coffee, it's gonna be a long night."


Thirty minutes later in the office of General Jack O'Neill at the Pentagon, Chief of Home World Security.

Jack O'Neill scribbled his initials at the top of the page to indicate he'd read the report. According to SOP, and his combination minder and secretary, Ida Grayson, he was supposed to initial his stamped name to indicate he'd used the stamp. Military red tape, you had to love it!

He closed the folder and placed it in the outbox, ready for Grayson to take it to wherever read and reviewed reports went, and reflected on its contents - The report informed him that Teal'c was having a rough time dealing with the factions that made up the new Free Jaffa. But, reading the report couldn't take the place of hearing it first hand, spoken in the gruff voice and elegant words of Teal'c himself.

God, he missed being at Stargate Command, where the action was, where he was part of a team, instead of hunkered down in a windowless office, deep within the bowels of the Pentagon. A place where general's were a dime a dozen and intrigue was served up on a daily basis right along with the coffee.

The stray thought made him naturally reach for his cup of stale coffee. Taking a sip, he winced and made a face as the tepid and acidic liquid passed his lips.

What time was it, anyway?

When he glanced at his watch, he realized it was later than he'd thought, past midnight in fact. My, how time flies when you're having fun. . . NOT! Still, Grayson would be pleased that he'd made such headway in his daily battle of him against the growing pile of files, all which had to be read five minutes ago.

Then he stilled and smacked his forehead with his palm. "For crying out loud," he muttered as he realized he'd forgotten to call Sam.

He sure hoped she wasn't too pissed, but he'd been trying so hard to clear up his backlog of reports so they could spend some time together. Now he'd have to call and explain as soon as he got home. With luck, she'd answer and they could have an intimate conversation, not quite the same as being there, but better than nothing.

Sam had her hands full right now, dealing with the new general at the SGC and playing surrogate parent to Cassie. Poor kid, she'd been through hell in her short life, losing her first family and her people courtesy of Nirrti's genetic games, and as if that weren't enough, her adoptive Mom, Janet, had been killed off planet, doing her job saving lives. Come to think of it, it was no wonder that she needed someone to be there for her right now. At least this weekend he could spend some time with her - and Sam - especially Sam.

One of the main reasons he'd taken the boot upstairs as gracefully as he had was it gave them the opportunity to finally take their relationship out of the room they'd hidden it in for all those years. Now that he was Chief and Grand Pooh-Bah of Home World Security, she was no longer in his direct chain of command - something that Hammond had pointed out to him with a knowing grin when he'd first offered him the job. Since he'd moved from Colorado Springs, they made a point of calling each other every night, no matter what and saw each other on weekends whenever their schedules permitted. Their growing love made flying a desk almost worthwhile - most of the time.

He'd had Grayson clear his schedule to make this weekend's rendezvous happen. She'd about blown a gasket, but had done it, all while she muttered something about 'flyboy generals who think they can do whatever they want'.

He raised his arms to stretch and then massaged the back of his neck. Ida Grayson, yep, if he didn't know better, he'd think Hammond had sicced her on him to keep him in line. When he'd read her file, he'd noticed that she was a Department of Defense civilian nearing retirement who'd been an Army drill sergeant, among other things. Yeah, she was a smart cookie, used to the ins and outs of life at the Pentagon.

The first time she'd ordered him - yes, ordered an Air Force General - to fix his tie, his face had burned red. For just an instant, he'd been transformed into a raw recruit in his first week of boot camp. What was worse, from the gleam in her bullet-gray eyes, she'd known it. Crap, that was all he needed, a secretary who was the combo of a mother hen and a pit bull.

Funny, the back of his neck still felt itchy and tight, like things were about to go south in a hurry, leaving him stuck with the 'Oh Shit Fairy'. That same feeling that had saved his life far too many times in the past. But this was the Pentagon, wasn't it? It was safe and familiar territory, where the killing shots came in the form of words, not bullets and staff blasts. Right?

No matter how hard he tried to convince himself that he was just imagining things, that spooky feeling wouldn't go away, which was why he'd been coming to work a little more heavily armed than usual. It had been a bitch sneaking the 9 mil past the guards at the entrance, but he could still be charming - when it suited his purpose.

Grayson knew about it though, and from her frown, didn't like it, just like she didn't like it when he wore his olive green BDU uniform to work. He didn't like wearing the Class A or B uniform, although it had been pointed out to him by many that it was more appropriate for his present rank and station; it felt too restrictive and reminded him that he was flying a desk. As if he needed a reminder of that. Oh well, he'd found a way to deal with it, so would Grayson.

A whisper of sound from the hallway drew his attention like the smell of blood draws a shark. He pushed away from his desk, careful to avoid the lumpy electrical wires under his carpet that made his chair wheels squeak.

He slowed his breaths, the better to hear as the surge of adrenalin had his blood singing in his ears. Yep, there it was again, the sound of footsteps in the hallway. Someone was trying to advance quietly, but wasn't doing a good job of it. If it was another anti-terrorist drill, he'd have the clumsy soldier doing extra training on how to sneak up on a target. Clumsiness like that could get people killed.

Free of the chair, he crouched as he crept toward the door that separated him from Grayson's outer office. His 9 mil in his hand, he slipped toward the outer door. It wasn't fully closed; open just a couple inches. Peering through the crack, he saw nothing, just a dimly lit hallway. That in itself was unusual because the Department of Defense, especially the Pentagon, never closed and the lights were always on. No sirree, this was one place that was open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Another surge of adrenaline made his breath hitch in his throat and the hairs rise on the back of his neck. Something was wrong; he knew it. He disengaged the safety on his 9 mil and eased through the door into the hallway.

And was instantly surrounded by several figures dressed in commando black and flack vests, their weapons pointed at him. It was a Mexican standoff, a little one-sided, but one nonetheless.

He opted for the unexpected. "Hi guys. Whacha' doin'?"

He waved his weapon harmlessly in the air and straightened with a smile that dripped innocence, dimples and all. He took a quick glance around, funny, but there were two circles of men, the inner one facing him, but the second was guarding the entrances to the hall - facing away from him. What the . . .?

The leader shifted his eyes and then spoke. "General Jack O'Neill?"

Jack shrugged nonchalantly. "Who wants to know?"

"We have orders to take you into custody."


"Yes, sir."

"From whom?"

"I'm not at liberty to say."

The leader's eyes shifted as a call came in over his radio. "Area secured and hostiles neutralized."

"Roger that." He gestured to Jack. "Come with us, sir."

"And if I don't wanna play?"

"You will be dealt with, sir," he answered quietly, no bark but the promise of a bite nonetheless.

Jack smiled and showed his teeth, all friendliness gone. "Oh - really?"

As they talked, he'd managed to get within striking distance and used it to his advantage as his feet and arms became guided missiles, locking onto their targets. He refrained from firing his weapon, and but used it as a blunt instrument against the head of a soldier in range.

Almost immediately, he felt a stinging in his shoulder and used his free hand to check it out. His questing fingers found the culprit immediately and it didn't bode well for his rep as a 'lean-mean-fighting machine'. A second later, his eyes confirmed it. A feathered barb was sticking out of his muscle. Already, he felt uncoordinated, and missed the next feint, the momentum carrying him to the floor where he stared up at the half-covered faces surrounding him.

"Target has been located and immobilized. Ready for transport, over."

Just before everything faded to black, he was surrounded by a familiar dazzling white light.