Baal on the Rebound by dinkydow

Chapter Two

Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter maneuvered her red Mustang into her parking space in the lot reserved for the personnel of Stargate Command and marveled how she'd missed this place. She'd spent so much time and energy at this base the past nine years; it seemed more like home than her house in Colorado Springs.

According to those who knew her best, that was because she spent an inordinate amount of time at work in her lab. People like Cassie - and Jack. Yes, she could finally call him by his first name, and it gave her a thrill every time she did.

Jack - the name had a certain ring to it, and was one of the better choices she'd made recently, it just felt right. Her mind that analyzed everything now shied away from dissecting and examining her emotions from every angle.

Jack had grinned when she'd admitted that to him and had made a comment that this marked a milestone in her life - and that he'd make a domestic diva out of her yet. That comment had earned him a punch on the arm.

The incident hadn't turned out bad. The punch got followed by a tickling match - they'd both ended up on the floor in each other's arms, laughing and happy - happier than she'd been in far too long.

Her hand automatically locked her car door and she turned to make her way through security at the entrance of Cheyenne Mountain Complex. She'd done this so many times that her body performed the actions mechanically, which left her mind to mull over the latest puzzle.

Jack hadn't called her last night, and hadn't answered his phone at work or at home. It didn't make sense. Had she missed something? Had he changed his mind about her - about them?

He seemed happy with their relationship; at least that's what he told her through his actions and words. True, she didn't exactly have a stellar track record when it came to choosing men to have a relationship with, they either died or turned into monsters bent on controlling her every move and thought. Nevertheless, he seemed sincere in his love for her - didn't he?

So where was he? Something was wrong and not knowing drove her crazy. With her body on autopilot, she performed the familiar duties involved with getting to her lab. Her fingers clutched her key card and swiped it through the slot, then stepped into the elevator after a perfunctory nod of greeting to the guard.

Every problem had a solution, her mind argued; one just needed all the pieces of the puzzle. Sam sighed with sudden weariness and chewed her lower lip.

Cassie had known something was up last night and had badgered her until she'd given in and confessed her worries about Jack's whereabouts. The sharing should have helped, but it didn't - it left behind a guilt that she'd added to the burden the younger and more vulnerable Cassie already bore. After all, the young woman knew the dangers of their jobs - intimately.

She glanced at her watch and did some rapid calculations in her head. Although there had been no answer at Jack's Pentagon office earlier, she would try again. With luck he would be there, or at the very least she could worm some intel out of his secretary.

That decided she relaxed and reviewed her work schedule for the day; the morning briefing with General Landry would keep her mind occupied. Yes, that was what she needed - to keep busy if and until she heard from Jack. No, not if—when.

By the time Sam reached her lab, she was smiling again. A short chat with Daniel later, she had learned that a dead Jaffa had been found in Maryland. Another piece was added to the puzzle. Did it involve Jack?

She reached for her phone, dialed his office number from memory and listened anxiously to the rings and nibbled on her lip.

"Good morning, General O'Neill's Office, this line is not secured. May I help you sir or ma'am?"

Sam felt for her chair and sat down. "Mrs. Grayson? This is Colonel Carter. May I speak to the General?"

There was a pause, Sam's heart pounded in her ears. "I'm sorry, but the General is unavailable right now. Can I take a message?"

Sam slumped in her chair. "Can you tell me when he'll be back?"

"I can pass along a message when I see him, ma'am."

Damn, the secretary was proving more of an obstacle than she'd thought. "I - I tried to call him last night after he didn't call me." Her voice broke. "I was worried . . ."

Grayson's voice softened. "I'll let him know that, ma'am. I will be seeing him later; I just don't know how long this meeting will last."

Sam took a deep breath, had to maintain control of her emotions. After all, he was safe - he just had to be.

"Ma'am? Are you still there?"

Sam nodded. "Um . . . yeah, but I'm gonna have to go. Just make sure he gets my message, okay?" She blew out a breath. "And tell him Cassie sends her love."

"I'll do that, ma'am."

Carter set down the phone with a click. Why was she not reassured?

Now she was forced to face the fact that she'd done everything she could, short of going AWOL and driving cross-country to find him herself. Sam admitted the idea had occurred to her, but she hadn't gotten to that point - yet.

In the meantime, she had a meeting to attend.

To borrow a phrase . . . crap.


General George Hammond, retired, was escorted into the Oval Office by a staffer and stifled an inner groan when he saw who else was present. All the Joint Chiefs were there, seated in a circle that faced their Commander-in-Chief.

President Hayes smiled and stood, his hand reached out to shake George's. "I'm glad you came, George."

As if I had a choice, he thought. "Of course, Mr. President."

He'd always been a master of sizing up the personnel around him; the room reeked of anxiety and fear, which was in itself unusual. What was up now?

George donned his best smile and sat next to his former boss, General Jumper. "Aren't you ever gonna let me retire, Mr. President?"

Hayes had the good grace to look uncomfortable and the others present found something else to occupy their attention.

Hayes was the first to recover. "I've got another job for you, George."

Hammond narrowed his eyes. Why didn't he like the sound of this?

"It's one that, quite frankly, leaves a bad taste in my mouth." He paused, and then pushed on. "But one that you are uniquely qualified for."

George pursed his lips, but kept silent.

"We received information from an unimpeachable source that Baal has taken refuge on Earth," General Jumper continued.

"You're certain of this?" Hammond's eyes widened.

Hayes interrupted. "Thor himself dropped by to tell me, so yes, we're sure. He was worried about a mutual friend - Jack O'Neill."

"Does Jack know this?" George blew out a breath.

"No, but he was placed in Protective Custody last night on my order."

Eyebrows climbed to meet a hairline that had vanished many years ago. "That's a bronco that won't be rode."

Hayes leaned forward, his hands clasped in front of him. "You think we don't know that, George? But let's face it; his brainpower coupled with his Ancient DNA makes him a resource that we can't afford to lose." He gestured with one hand to make his point. "You of all people should know that."

George's shoulders slumped and he sat silent, with the sudden knowledge he would be the Judas designated to betray his friend.

"We need you to explain our position to him, make him realize that this is for his own good, George," Jumper continued. "Not just his own, but for the good of our world." He paused, and then jutted his chin for emphasis. "You should know that we detained several men near his office last night. We believe they were sent to bring in O'Neill."

Hammond shifted his eyes on Jumper's face. "Have they told you anything?"

"Not yet, but we believe they are a remnant of The Trust and work for Baal now. I doubt we'll get anything useful out of them. This just proves that the threat is very real and needs to be dealt with - as quickly and expeditiously as possible"

George's turned away a look of sadness and resignation on his face. "I agree with you on one thing, Mr. President. This leaves a bad taste in my mouth." He licked his lips. "Are you ordering me to do this?"

Hayes kept his eyes riveted to George's. "I could." He paused and saw his friend stiffen. "But I won't. Jack is your friend - I understand that. If you don't, I won't hold it against you. But someone has to."

"I'll think it over."

"You have an hour. Someone needs to tell Jack something - it wouldn't be right to just leave him hanging in the wind. We owe him that much."

"You're damned right - when can I see him?"


He ran, pursued by a monster that would engulf him if he were caught. A quick glance over his shoulder told him it was gaining on him, so he called on hidden reserves and sprinted around a corner.

The maze of hallways stretched out in two directions as he scouted his immediate area. The walls of the maze were painted military grays and tans, which should have reassured him, but all sense of safety had disappeared during the hunt - the hunt in which he had become the prey.

A whisper of sound whipped his head around - they'd flanked him somehow. His brief respite had been his undoing, had given the enemy time to surround him and he was left with nowhere to run.

His breath rasped in his ears as he pivoted, desperate to find a weak spot in the ranks of the enemy. There were none. Sweat popped out on his forehead and stung his eyes. He blinked to clear his vision as the image of the enemy wavered in front of him. Who?

Dressed in black, they had the look of special ops. But that couldn't be right - could it? They couldn't be the enemy; they would know one of their own. So why was he pursued as a cat would hunt a mouse to its den before it was dispatched?

He shook his head to clear it - so dizzy. One of the men stepped forward, the movement familiar. Against his will, he took a step to meet him. A trick of the light revealed the face of the enemy - General George Hammond.

A training exercise? That would explain it. Yeah, that had to be it - no problem there.

Without warning, the eyes flashed white as the enemy spoke. "Bow before your god."

Jack screamed and sat bolt upright on his bed, then quieted as he took in his surroundings. The cement block walls meant he was not in his bedroom. He knuckled the fuzziness from his eyes and winced when his shoulder twinged in pain. An ordinary looking Band-Aid concealed the cause.

That in itself was reassuring though because the last time he'd checked, neither the System Lords nor the Asgard shopped for medical supplies at a local supermarket.

Plus, no self-centered, fashion-crazed, egomaniacal snakehead would be caught dead with such plain furnishings, not even in their prison cells. Since there wasn't a bit of gold in sight, he could rule them out.

So - where was he? That was the sixty million dollar question, he decided. He'd already been able to rule out his home and a Goa'uld prison cell along with as Asgard vessel. What did that leave? Who else would want him badly enough to shanghai his sorry ass right out of the Pentagon? For that, he has no answers so resolved he might as well take stock of what he had right now.

He was lying on a standard issue military bunk clad in his boxers and a t-shirt. Across a nearby chair hung the rest of his uniform and his boots and socks were on the floor beside them. Gingerly, he put his feet on the cold cement floor and stood, then almost fell back onto the bed as another wave of vertigo hit him.

He eased himself back to the side of the bunk and cradled his head in both hands as he searched his most recent memories for clues as to his whereabouts. Gradually, he teased loose the vision of leaving his office, then being surrounded by unknown men wearing the black of special ops.

He rubbed the Band-Aid as he remembered the dart that had knocked him out. His suspicions and anger increased as he surveyed the walls and ceiling of his room. There was only one exit - a closed steel door with a small window. Through it he could see the back of a uniformed guard. In an upper corner was a camera and he scowled to let the watchers know he knew they were there.

Whatever drug they'd administered had worn off, and with it the fuzziness departed that allowed him to think clearly. He needed more intel - with that he could formulate a plan to escape his prison. Until then he would bide his time. Based on his extensive experience with prison cells, his captors would reveal themselves. Then he could use their arrogance against them; needle and disarm them with his smart-ass remarks until they told him what he needed.

In the meantime, there was no harm getting dressed. His uniform and the stars on the collar would give him the illusion of authority and control over his life. An added plus was that when he kept himself busy, time passed faster. Iraq had taught him that, and it was a lesson he'd never forgotten.

Once clothed, he walked up to peer into the camera. "I have just one thing to say to you, whoever the hell you are." He pointed a finger at the camera; never mind which one. "Get me the hell outta here!"

His opinion expressed, he turned and settled back onto the bunk to conserve this strength and energy for the coming confrontation with his captors.

His momentary thoughts of Sam and how worried she must be were quashed with ruthless efficiency. Until he found a way out of here, it was a moot point - besides, he had to stay focused if he were to survive. He'd explain it all to her when he escaped.


Baal stroked his goatee and narrowed his eyes as he watched his subordinate squirm. It stank of fear. "Where is the Tau'ri O'Neill?"

The man before him knelt in respect before his god and master and had his eyes on the floor as was proper, but his voice quavered. "O'Neill did not leave the Pentagon last night, my Lord. Those I dispatched to bring him to you have not returned."

Baal's eyes flashed in anger. He hated to be disappointed especially when the Tau'ri who had been like a thorn in his side had been all but his.

"Fool! You let him escape?"

His minion was a leftover from The Trust, but like all those of his race, was weak-minded - and expendable. The former System Lord's hand device rose, commanding the attention of all in the room; including the man on his knees before him.

For a moment, their eyes met. As a gold shaft of energy shot from his palm to the forehead of his victim, Baal smiled.

"Observe what comes of failing your god."

The hum from the hand device increased until the victim screamed, as crimson blood streamed from his nose and ears. When the beam stopped, the lifeless body slumped to the floor.

Baal flicked his hand negligently. "Dispose of this offal at once."