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What Fools These Mortals Be Sequence
by dinkydow

graphic by JoleneB

Part One: What?

The unusual-looking space ship came out of hyperdrive in the target star system and immediately went into stealth mode. Thus, preventing any unwanted interference from the inhabitants living there. Within moments, it had achieved orbit around the only planet that supported life.

The vessel's commander communicated his commands to his crew with an economy of movement. With a mere nod of his head and a shifting of his cold dark eyes, the ship adjusted its orbit and positioned itself over the northern continent. All was in readiness, and his brothers moved like a well-oiled machine, anticipating his commands almost before he needed to give them. The commander smiled, but it was humorless, a mere stretching of lips that bared too-perfect teeth in a jarringly boyish face.

The quarry had been located. It was time to proceed with the beam-up sequence.


General Jack O'Neill felt like he was in heaven as he stared up at the stars. No work to do, or at least none that couldn't safely be put off until tomorrow, a two-day weekend ahead of him, and a cloudless sky. He sighed in contentment as he scooted his stool up closer to the telescope standing on its tripod in front of him.

He'd been looking forward to this all day, hell. . . all damned week, for crying out loud!'

As soon as he'd been able to sneak away from the efficient, but oh so annoying Walter, he'd made his escape from the clutches of Cheyenne Mountain. Straight up to his rooftop observatory so he could put in some quality stargazing time. Too many times lately, he'd had to forgo this particular pleasure. Now, there was nothing standing in his way.

Once he'd gotten home, he'd shucked off his work clothes and gotten into some comfortable leisure ones. Long-sleeved flannel shirt, a light jacket, baggy jeans and boots made up his ensemble. Rubbing his hands together to warm them, he sighed in pleasure. The crisp autumn air of Colorado was just cool enough to get his blood pumping without the danger of frostbite while he studied the stars all night. Though he would need to put his gloves on soon. First, he had some adjustments to make, and they would be easier to accomplish without the encumbering gloves.

He leaned forward, squinting as he adjusted the lens of the telescope. A sudden noise, a crackling sound, made him jerk back in surprise. "What the...?"

He got no further, as a bright light surrounded his body, bathing it in surreal brilliance. When it blinked out, only the telescope was left, staring blindly out at the black night.


Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter was enjoying her hot shower. It had been a particularly grueling week, what with all the new experiments she'd been running in the hopes of improving the efficiency of the Stargate dial-up system at Stargate Command. She knew General O'Neill had already made his escape, as she'd seen him sneaking onto the elevator over an hour ago, and she was planning to do the same, just as soon as she finished her shower. Sure, she could've waited until she went home to do it, but the base showers never ran short of hot water. Unlike the one she had back at home.

'Just a final rinse-off and then you're home free, Samantha,' thought to herself as she ducked her head under the water for one last time. Then, she reached out to shut it off, shaking her hands and watching as the droplets went flying, spattering against the tile. Her bare skin glistened as minute streams of water ran down her back, merged at her buttocks, and then dripped onto the shower floor.

She snagged her towel and proceeded to dry off, wrapping another one around her wet hair, turban-style. She wouldn't bother with the hair dryer this time, knowing from experience that her short blonde hair would be dry by the time she reached the cool air on the surface. 'Yet another reason for keeping your hair short,' she mused.

Humming, she padded on bare feet out of the shower room and headed toward her locker. Dropping the wet towels in the dirty clothes hamper, she reached into her open locker and grabbed her civvies. Tonight it would be a blue knit top, blue jeans, and slip on shoes. Although like any female she loved to play dress-up, she would choose comfortable clothes any day of the week. Hands down.

A sudden crackling nose made her look around in confusion, clutching her clothing to her bare breasts. The bright shaft of light caught her unaware. When the light disappeared, Carter was gone.


Far above the planet Earth, the spacecraft left orbit. Its mission accomplished, there was no need to remain near this technologically inferior planet. Although its position had been betrayed with the beam-up of the two targets, it was impervious to further detection while in stealth mode. The vessel cruised past the outer planets until it made the jump to hyperdrive.


When Jack regained consciousness, he couldn't figure out what had happened. In the darkness, he could make out . . . nothing. Zip, nada. Rolling onto his back, he carefully felt along his body to check for any damage that might have occurred while he'd been out. Just because he didn't hurt didn't necessarily mean that he hadn't been. All too often, a heavy dose of adrenaline could hide a host of ills. He'd learned that one the hard way. Never mind how.

An initial check revealed no gaping wounds or missing limbs, which had to be a plus, he supposed. The next step would be the kicker. He placed his arm under his body in preparation for sitting up. 'So far, so good.' He grunted as he pushed out with his arm, which left him seated with his legs spread out before him.

Other than the fact that he felt like his head was host to a rendition of the 1812 Overture, he felt fine. Of course, his stomach wanting to crawl out of his mouth wasn't good, but, hey, he'd felt that way so many times before that it'd begun to feel normal. In a sick sort of way.

He rummaged through his most recent memories in an attempt to figure out what had happened. The last thing he could remember was sitting in front of his telescope. . .and he'd heard a weird noise. Then, nothing. Zip.

Based on all the evidence, and granted it wasn't a whole hell of a lot, he could come to only one conclusion. 'Someone must've kidnapped your ass...again, Jack. Crap. This kind of snatch-and-grab shit was so not on your schedule. Good ole Radar O'Walter will have a fit!'

He slowed his breathing, evening it out as he opened his mouth to keep the sandwich he'd had for dinner from making a reappearance. A groan from the other side of wherever the hell he was caught his attention and he turned his head toward the sound.

He thought that groan sounded familiar. 'Nah, it couldn't be. Could it?' He sniffed the air, experimentally. 'Just a hint of vanilla mixed with that special something that couldn't be duplicated. Yep, that's my Sam, all right.'

The sound repeated, only louder this time. "Carter!"

Another groan. He scooted slowly over the floor on his butt, sliding his hands carefully over the rough tiles on the floor, feeling his way through the darkness as he went. "Talk to me, Carter!" No answer.

He rolled onto his hands and knees and crawled the rest of the way until his hand encountered skin. Soft warm skin. He moved his hand in exploration. Lots of soft warm skin. 'Sam's soft warm skin.'

He rocked backward onto his butt in shock. "Crap!"



He crawled back to her side, very careful about where he put his hands. Didn't want her to bite him, after all. Then again, all that nice, soft skin. . . 'Keep your mind and your hands to yourself, Jack. You just might live longer that way,' he chastised himself. 'She's spoken for, Jack. Remember?'

"What?" her voice sounded groggy.

He leaned toward her. "Careful how you move, Carter. Whatever they used on us must've been pretty strong. It gave me one hell of a headache."

"You can say that again, Sir." The sound of smacking lips and movement made him grin.

"You okay?" He listened for her response.

"I think so, Sir. You're right about the headache, though."

He heard a startled gasp out of the darkness and then a very puzzled feminine voice. "Sir? Where are my clothes?"

"You mean you're. . .?" 'Oh my!' "Don't look at me, Carter. I didn't take 'em." 'Not that I haven't thought about it,' he thought with dark humor.

"Listen, can I help you find your stuff?" Then, realizing how that had sounded, he tried again. "Your clothes, Carter. I meant your clothes." He could feel his cheeks turning fire-engine red.

He wanted to help out. Really he did, but there was the matter of not being able to see, and her being naked. And his oh so vivid imagination. The possible scenarios whipped through his brain, causing his blood pressure to skyrocket. Among other things. Gulp. Talk about a pickle in his pocket!

Being in complete darkness might not be such a bad thing after all. He might live longer that way.

"No! Stay where you are, Sir. Wait, I think I found something." Hands, not his, felt along his leg and thigh.

"What you found was me, Carter. And, if you don't move your hand, my side arm will most definitely go off." He removed the hand and set it firmly back on the floor. Albeit, with a whole honkin' shitload of regret. 'About a lot of things. Don't go there, Jack. She's made her choice, and it wasn't you. Now is so not the time to get all teary about what might have been.'

The lights chose that moment to come on, shining a harsh glare over them. Jack winced, and rubbed his eyes as they adjusted to the sudden brightness.

When he opened them, he saw Carter. All of her. She was sitting not a foot from where he was, looking back at him. 'So that's where that mole is.'

Only one word came to his mind. . .and out past his lips. "Wow!"

Blue eyes widened as they locked with his. Then her delicate hands moved to cover strategic areas. "Sir? You can close your mouth now."

Jack averted his gaze in haste, peeled off his jacket and hoisted it blindly toward his embarrassed friend. "Here, Carter. Put this on for now. At least until we can find something more for you to wear."

He kept his head turned, mentally whistling inside his head in a vain attempt to distract him from the very tempting spectacle sitting not a foot away from him. 'So near, yet so far away. Crap.'

He stood, and looked around, hoping to find some clues as to their captors or at the very least some clothes for Carter. Plus, it just might distract him and prevent a very painful demise at the hands of a certain outraged and embarrassed female.

The sounds of rustling fabric and a sliding zipper caught his attention. He began his turn, and then stopped, uncertain. "Ya decent, Carter?"

"I think so, Sir." A sudden gasp of surprise came from behind him. "I think I've found something."

With great fortitude of spirit, he refused to allow himself to speculate on just what it was that she'd found. "And?"

"My clothes, Sir. I found the rest of my clothes." He could hear her shuffling her feet, as if she were nervous.

"Great, that's just great, Carter." No response came from the female behind him. 'That couldn't be good. Could it?'

"No, it isn't, Sir. I mean. . .I'm glad I found my clothes, but that's not all I discovered. Take a look around you and I think you'll understand what I mean."

For the first time since he'd awakened, Jack took the time to take a good look at his surroundings. At first glance, the walls and floor appeared to be made of some kind of metallic blocks. An ugly suspicion wormed itself into his brain, and banished all previous thoughts of a naked Carter.

He knelt on the floor and ran his hand along the rough blocks. "Well, ain't this just peachy!" His hand jerked away from the blocks as if contaminated.

"The entire cell is made of Replicator blocks, Sir. Just like when Fifth had us before. And Thor used your weapon from the Ancients to destroy them. Remember?" Hearing her move toward him, he automatically turned to face her.

"How could I forget, Carter? Being captured by bug people isn't exactly something that you can forget. At least I can't. So, I guess we can rule out Thor and Ernie as being the ones responsible for our enforced holiday." He smiled.

She'd changed into some blue jeans and a knit top that matched the color of her eyes. He always did like blue, he decided. He couldn't help but wonder if she had on any underwear. Judging from the way her top looked, she didn't have a bra on. A part of his brain, the logical part, knew this line of speculation was kind of ludicrous considering that they'd been kidnapped by bug people and didn't know where the hell they were. It was a certainty his hormones were going to get him killed some day, distracting him like this.

Sam chuckled. "I think that would be a safe bet." She cocked her head to one side in question. "What do you remember about all this? The last thing I remember is that I'd finished up my shower on base and had grabbed my clothes out of my locker. Then. . .nothing. What about you, Sir?"

"Me? Oh, I was up on my roof looking through my telescope at the most awesome sky. I remember hearing a weird crackling noise, then bam. I woke up here, in the dark." He shrugged.

"You can have your jacket back, Sir," she added almost as an afterthought.

"Huh? Oh, yeah. Sure, thanks. Although, I have the feeling I won't be needing it real soon, looks like the weather doesn't change much in here." He accepted his jacket from Sam's hands and jumped when an electric tingle signaled that their hands had brushed against one another. Her blue eyes widened as they met his, then looked away.

All further thought was postponed by an all-too-familiar rustling, chirping noise from the wall behind Carter. "Shh," he cautioned, one finger to his lips. Then without thought, he stepped in front of her.

For several heartbeats, nothing happened. Then the wall seemed to melt, and a humanoid figure stepped through the wall. The blocks reconnected behind him as he walked up to his two prisoners, a smile stretching his lips.

Fifth didn't offer to shake their hands. Not that Jack would've taken him up on it. Jack and Sam backed away from the menace warily. He stopped when he heard Sam's gasp. He spun around, and then stopped in amazement. He blinked, not believing what his eyes told him, for he was face to face with. . .himself. Another Jack O'Neill.

"For crying out loud!"

Samantha Carter looked at her Commander, Jack O'Neill, and then back at his duplicate. Her Jack's mouth hung open in amazement, and she marveled that it would take something like this to render him speechless. Which was kind of scary, when she thought about it.

After all, her Jack, that's how she had come to think of him, wasn't afraid of anything, being the very definition of the man with no fear. He'd literally laughed at death when he'd mocked Ba'al; the Goa'uld who'd tortured him to death and back again.

Standing up to him, he'd thrown his disdain back in the System Lord's face. She'd heard about it and wished that she'd been there to witness it. But she hadn't been there, and he'd thought Ba'al had her, Daniel, and Teal'c. He'd done it for them, and she knew it.

Did that make her a helpless simpering female, clinging onto her manly hero? She didn't think so. What it did make her was smart. Smart enough to recognize and appreciate her commanding officer's strong points. In the time that it took her to figure out that the situation was going to Netu in a hand basket, her Jack had already figured out a solution to the whole mess. She'd seen it happen time and time again.

And as for those who made the mistake of thinking that she was nothing more than a helpless female. . . The last Marine who'd made that mistake was still undergoing reconstructive dental surgery, the last she heard. It wasn't her fault that the moron had a glass jaw.

Now, Sam feared her Jack had met his match. Vague thoughts of what this could mean to her, to him, flitted through her mind, like sparks of energy in a reactor, endlessly separating and then combining in infinite combinations and permutations. After sifting through all the evidence, she could only come to one conclusion. They were in deep trouble.

Her eyes widened as the wall in front of her shifted, then melted as individual Replicator blocks formed into chirping metallic insects. Through the opening stepped an additional surprise. Once the figure had stepped through, the wall reformed, leaving it flat and impenetrable.

It was Sam's turn to gape as her twin walked toward her, and then stood stock-still. Sam couldn't believe what she was seeing. The ramifications of what Fifth had done was mind-boggling, and for a moment she studied her double in awe.

Both were dressed like Fifth, in steel-gray tops and pants, black domino-like blocks scattered haphazardly over them. She couldn't help but wonder if their clothes were made of miniature Replicators. Through narrowed eyes, she scrutinized them, looking for flaws in their construction. She found none. They were perfect copies, right down to the scar on Jack's eyebrow.

"Jack O'Neill, meet Jay," Fifth smiled as Jack turned his head to look at him dubiously.

"Yeah, well, I'll pass on shaking hands, if you don't mind." O'Neill locked eyes with his double as Jay smirked.

"Ah, where are my manners? Samantha Carter, may I introduce Ess," Fifth continued, acting the solicitous host.

"Holy, Hannah!" she blurted. Her double blinked back at her and smiled with the same face she saw every time she looked in a mirror. This was just too weird.

"Well, if it isn't Bug Boy and his evil techno-twins." Jack crossed his arms, standing shoulder to shoulder with Sam. "Looks like you've been tinkering around with your toys again. But, hey, I gotta tell ya. The evil twin gig is one of the oldest clichés in the book, and you know how I hate clichés. So if you don't mind, I'll just call you Thing One, and Thing Two." He gestured first to Jay, then to Ess.

He directed his next words to Fifth. "By the way, I so hope that these two copies are part of a limited edition boxed set, because I so prefer the originals."

Sam smiled. Her Jack was back, in spades, doing his best to distract the danger from her. Just like he always did. At that moment, she knew that they'd get out of this, somehow. She didn't know how yet, but they would. As her Jack would say, those bugs were toast.

The smile vanished from Fifth's boyish face, to be replaced by a thin-lipped frown. He didn't look happy. Oh, well. Into everybody's life a little rain must fall. And if her suspicions were correct, Jack was about to dump a monsoon all over his parade.

And she would be there right beside him, backing him up. Watching his delectable six. As his teammate and trusted friend. Nothing more. If only. . . She'd moved on though, gotten a life, just like he'd suggested. A life with someone else. . .Pete. Not Jack. She ruthlessly throttled the little voice that kept asking her why she was so glad that her Jack was here with her right now instead of Pete, the man she was going to marry.

Wrenching her mind out of the morass of distracting what-ifs and might-have-beens, she tuned back to the battle of wits going on around her. A rustling whirring sound alerted her to the fact that they had company. She watched in horror as the blocks in the ceiling of their cell combined their separate parts until they clicked their way down the walls, surrounding the standing figures in the cell; evidently Fifth had communicated his displeasure to his fellow Replicators.

Instinctively, she edged closer to Jack until their shoulders touched. She exchanged a quick glance with him and noted his barely perceptible nod. Then she stared back at their common foe. They would fight and win this one. Together.

"He's attempting to distract and confuse us, it's what he does whenever he's in a tight spot. It's been a very effective tactic for him in the past. Gets his enemies so worked up that they tell him too much, giving him the tactical advantage. It won't work with us, though." Jay smiled coldly at his human counterpart. "We know you too well, we're you. Both of you." Jay smirked at Jack and Sam, never taking his cold dirt-brown eyes off them.

Jack's response wasn't long in coming. "Well, I hate to disappoint you, Thing One, but you and I both know that you don't know as much about me as you think you know. Ya know what I mean?"

Ess laughed, and its sound bounced eerily and grotesquely around the walls of the cell. Sam couldn't help but flinch. The laugh was hers, yet, it wasn't. Technically and mechanically perfect, but lacking in the life that made it genuine. Just like their eyes, they were dead things, without luster and shine. Truly windows to their dead souls, if they even had any.

Fifth smiled again and beckoned to his protégés, Jay and Ess. They both stepped forward until they were facing their human counterparts. Jay facing Sam, Ess facing Jack.

"My brethren, it is time for another learning experience." Fifth motioned with his hand, indicating the two Replicator people standing in front of him. He smiled as they stepped toward their quarry, hands reaching out to make contact with human foreheads. The smaller brothers scattered before them, climbing back up the walls to perch, like spectators at the Roman Coliseum on 'Christians versus the Lions' Day.

Jack and Sam screamed as they sank to their knees. Jay and Ess followed the human's bodies as they collapsed to the cell floor, their faces contorted in agony. Fifth made note that Jack and Sam's hands were joined, their knuckles white with the strength of their grip. 'Another weakness to exploit, perhaps.'

Fifth stepped forward and placed his hand on each of his student's shoulders. The boundaries of his hands disappeared as they merged with that of his protégés. They were doing well. The brethren would learn much.


Eir, or Ernie as he preferred to be called, was the foremost expert on human physiology, customs, and communications for the Asgard, and he was worried. Thor had just contacted him, requesting an urgent meeting. The fact that Thor, Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet had done this was highly unusual. It had disrupted his intriguing study of human metaphors. Their use of contractions was fascinating, he decided.

Ernie sighed dramatically and activated the transporter at his console. Instantly, he was beamed to the bridge of Thor's ship, The O'Neill II. Thor was standing in front of him, impatience radiating from him in waves.

"You rang, Thor?" Ernie wisely kept his bounces to a minimum as he met Thor's black-eyed glare of disapproval.

"I fear there may be a problem, Eir. You are aware that the Asgard Fleet has been monitoring all subspace radio transmissions in an attempt to locate the remaining Replicators that escaped destruction."

"Yep, I know all that. So, what's new?" Ernie decided that contractions were cool.

Thor sighed and turned to the console on his chair. After manipulating several stones, a graphic representation of their galaxy appeared on the view screen. Ernie studied it for clues to whatever was concerning his Asgard friend. He turned his head to look at Thor.

"The areas that have already been searched and pronounced free of any Replicator infestation are marked in blue. Those that have yet to be investigated and cleared are shown in green. As you can see, the Fleet has been making remarkable progress toward narrowing the possible hiding places of the Replicators."

"And?" Ernie was almost beside himself with frustration. He hated it when his fellows beat around the bush like this.

Thor shot him a reproving glare. "An hour ago unusual subspace communication was detected in this area."

Thor moved another stone and one small section of green changed to red. "The frequency used is one that has been associated with the Replicators in the past. An Asgard vessel has been dispatched to this area to investigate."

Ernie couldn't stand the suspense. "So, what does this have to do with me?"

Thor blinked solemnly. "Irregularities have also been detected with Jack O'Neill. A short time ago, our monitors indicated that he left his home world and entered hyperspace. According to our tracking device, the current location of his life signs matches the area in question."

"You mean the bugs have Jack O'Neill?" Ernie was bouncing; oblivious to the remonstrating looks Thor directed his way.

"I believe you are correct. However, I have set course for their home planet and contacted the SGC in order to learn more about the whereabouts of Jack O'Neill. We should be arriving there momentarily. I expect an answer at any moment and knew you would wish to be in attendance due to your friendship with him. Perhaps we will learn that our data is in error."

'Yeah, and pigs will fly,' thought Ernie. He had a bad feeling about this, but decided to keep it to himself. His human friend had spoken to him of a thing called 'a gut feeling' and urged him to trust it. He had that gut feeling now, and wanted it to be wrong. Though deep down, he knew it was not.

Thor moved another stone and the holographic image of General Hammond, Head of Home World Security on the planet Earth, appeared in front of them. From his association with this human, Ernie could tell he was worried. The awful gut feeling increased exponentially.

"Greetings, General Hammond of Earth." Thor nodded his head and blinked slowly.

"Hello, Thor. I'm glad you called. We have a bit of a mystery here and were hoping you might have some answers."

"Perhaps. Tell me of your mystery."

"About two hours ago, two of our personnel, Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter and General Jack O'Neill were transported off our planet. At approximately the same time, the Prometheus detected a spaceship in orbit around our planet that appeared to be the source of the transporter device. However, shortly afterwards we lost track of the vessel. Was it one of yours, Thor?"

Ernie's eyes widened in surprise and he noted that Thor's did too. Hammond had some of the same qualities as his friend, Jack O'Neill, in that he did not beat around the bush. Ernie decided then that he liked this human.

"It was not, General Hammond. In fact, I contacted you due to certain anomalies we have detected. I was concerned when our tracking devices showed that Jack O'Neill was no longer on his home planet as I was aware that he had been forbidden to leave due to security concerns."

"If you didn't take our people, then who did? I wasn't aware that anyone else possessed your transporter technology." Hammond rubbed the back of his neck.

From his study of humans, Ernie knew this was a sign of stress. He didn't blame the general, he felt stressed too.

"The Replicators also possess this technology, General Hammond."

"The bugs again? I'd hoped we'd seen the last of those things!" The human's holographic image shimmered, as he appeared to shuffle his feet. Another sign of stress and worry, Ernie knew.

"The Asgard Fleet has detected unusual subspace communication emanating from an area not yet investigated for Replicator occupation and a ship has been dispatched to investigate. When I noted that the location Jack O'Neill's life signs matched the anomaly, I became suspicious and contacted you."

Hammond's lips thin-lined, then puffed out a sigh. "So you think the Replicators have our people?"

"I do." Thor blinked again.

Hammond shook his head and grimaced. "We can't send the Prometheus. It's needed here for defense."

"I intend to investigate the matter myself, General Hammond. The Replicators cannot be allowed to gain access to the knowledge of the Ancients that Jack O'Neill possesses. The destruction of the Replicators and the rescue of Jack O'Neill and Samantha Carter have become priorities for the Asgard Fleet." Thor paused.

Ernie had the feeling that he wasn't going to like what was coming next.

Thor continued after a long breath. "However, you must understand that the destruction of the Replicators must take priority over the rescue of the humans."

Ernie's heart sank at that pronouncement. His heritage and training of what it meant to be an Asgard recognized the truth of Thor's statement. However, the love he had for his human friend shouted that this could not be so. He watched Thor's face. Someone not familiar with his race would not have caught the look of sorrow that flitted across the Supreme Commander's face.

Hammond nodded and gave his answer. "I understand, Thor. Is there anything we can do to help? We're willing to send a SG team and weapons. As I recall, our projectile weapons have been effective against those bugs in the past."

"We would welcome any assistance that you might give us, General Hammond. I also intend to utilize the special weapon that Jack O'Neill crafted and integrated into my vessel's weapons systems. I am hopeful that this, combined with your SG team, will be enough to eradicate this threat and rescue our friends. Understand this, I have grown to respect both Samantha Carter and Jack O'Neill. If their rescue is possible, I will attempt it."

"I know you'll do your best, Thor. I'll have the team ready to board your vessel within the hour. As may be expected, Teal'c and Daniel Jackson have been chomping at the bit to launch a rescue as soon as we realized our people were missing."

Ernie felt a surge of hope when he heard that Teal'c and Daniel Jackson would be accompanying them. Their loyalty to their friends was legendary. The combined knowledge of the archeologist and the cunning of the Jaffa warrior might be enough to make the difference for his friends.

"I shall remain in orbit around your planet until your team is aboard, General Hammond. I will contact you for further information in thirty of your minutes."

"I can't thank you enough for helping us out, Thor," Hammond looked grim. "I'll await your contact. Hammond out." The human general's holographic image faded.

Ernie was bursting with his words to the point that he thought that he would explode. But Thor waved him to silence before he could speak. "You object to the necessity of making the destruction of the Replicators the number one priority?"

"Ya think?" Ernie couldn't stay in one place, his energy causing him to bounce about the room, not unlike a child on a pogo stick. "How can you say such a thing, Thor? You're friends with both Jack O'Neill and Samantha Carter. We owe them. . .big time."

"You believe I do not realize this? That I do not remember the sacrifices these two humans have made for us? That the Asgard race still exists only because of them?" Thor shook his head.

Ernie quieted, looking at the sorrow on Thor's face. His feet remained still as the indignant anger drained away, leaving him feeling small and remorseful for making the erroneous assumption that Thor did not care for their friends. His tirade had laid more guilt upon thin shoulders that already bore so much.

"I was wrong to question you, Thor. You of all people know the value of our human friends. I ask your forgiveness for my error in judgment." Ernie looked into Thor's eyes, almost afraid of what he would see. The wrath of the Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet was well known, and he had no wish to experience it.

Thor blinked and then reached out a hand to place it on Ernie's shoulder. "You are forgiven, Eir. Your devotion to our human friends is understandable. It is a feeling that we share."

Ernie felt a wave of relief move through his small frame. Thor wasn't going to ream his sorry ass out after all. "So, Thor. What's the plan? How are we going to catch these bugs and kick their asses?"

Thor was all business, revealing why he had been appointed as Supreme Commander and kept the position over the years. "First, I will contact the vessel that is presently investigating the anomaly. Then, I will transport the SG team on board our vessel, in preparation for departure. I will meet with them in our Conference Room and would like your presence there. Through my experience with them, I have learned that much can be learned about these humans by observing their behavior. Your knowledge of human communication will be most advantageous for us."

"Yeah sure yabetcha, I'll be there with bells on." Ernie was bouncing again in excitement. He truly enjoyed being in the presence of these humans. Plus, studying them would distract him from worrying about his friend, Jack O'Neill.

While it was true that the Asgard race was technologically superior to them, sometimes he felt that he was the inferior race when viewing their tenacity and accomplishments. Perhaps, by combining the best of both races, they could prevail against their common enemy.


Samantha Carter awoke in her lab at the SGC. She felt groggy and confused. Was she supposed to be here? From appearances, she'd fallen asleep at her computer, a common enough occurrence for her. She shook her head slowly in an attempt to clear it. Something was wrong about this place, but she couldn't put her finger on it. Yet.

The sound of someone at the door caught her attention. "Who's there?"

She suddenly wished she'd kept a weapon hidden away, like Jack had suggested. But she'd refused, saying she felt safer in her lab than anywhere else. Was she about to learn that she'd been wrong?

"Whatcha doin', Carter?" The long lean frame was a nothing but a shadow in the doorway, but the voice was well remembered.


He stepped farther into the room, and Sam gasped. It wasn't her Jack. It was Thing One. Jack's name for them had been very appropriate. As usual.

"Don't call me that," she instructed, her voice harsh with strain and. . .fear?

"What?" His, no, 'Its' eyebrow quirked upward, so familiar, and yet so bizarre.

"You aren't him, so don't call me Carter," that said, she stood, facing it, eyes boring into it. Whether this act of defiance was meant to convince herself or that THING that she was strong enough to resist whatever they had planned, she had no idea. Maybe it was best not to think about right now. 'Yeah, follow Jack's advice, Samantha. Don't think so much.'

It chuckled, a hollow sound that had no warmth or humor in it. "Ya think? By the way, welcome to your brain. You like?"

"You mean. . . ?" She looked around wildly.

"Yeah, sure, yabetcha. All this is taking place inside that cute little blonde head of yours." It tapped the side of its head and smirked mockingly. "All brought to you courtesy of your not-so-friendly neighborhood techno-bug-man. So, are you a happy camper?"

She flinched. This was too surreal for words. This MACHINE was making a mockery of the man he bore the likeness of. Not to mention the fact that the thought of IT messing around inside her head was seriously creeping her out.

"No! Of course I'm not, so just cut the crap, Thing One. I'm not in the mood for it, and you know it. Why are we here?"

Thing One sauntered over to the counter, picked up a gadget, and began fiddling with it. Sam resisted the urge to grab it out of its hand. Her rage was giving her the energy to fight, and with it came hope.

It looked at her coldly, all pretense of friendliness gone. "Do you mean you and me? Or you and him?"

"Jack and I," she responded.

The hands belonging to Jack's double stilled and the gadget rested in one palm. The long elegant fingers curled around it, until she heard the sounds of distressed metal. She watched as the fingers released its crushing grasp, allowing the broken pieces to fall to the floor. Mesmerized, she followed their decent until they lay scattered on the floor of the lab. Then, the individual pieces morphed into blocks that joined together, and chittered and clicked away from her.

"Revenge." The words took her by surprise and jerked her eyes back to the speaker.


"The reason you're here is revenge. Even though this is one of the oldest cliches in the book, it's right on the money this time. We want revenge from you and Jack. You both hurt us and now you're going to pay for it." The words coming from its mouth were spoken so reasonably, like a lecture given to a cadet who'd just screwed up.

"Oh." She didn't know what else to say. 'I mean, what do you say to a machine that's just told you that you've seriously pissed it off?'

"You're speechless, Carter?"

"I told you not to call me that," she snapped. "Besides, I thought your first imperative was to replicate, to increase your numbers."

"That has not changed. However, revenge has been added where it was absent before. The actions of Jack and yourself were the reason for that."

Sam shrugged. "So, you've got us. Now what?"

"We get what we came for." The words were simple, filled with menace. It stepped toward her, and she automatically shrank backward. The wall that sprang into being against her back stopped her.

"He blames you for it, you know." It stood within inches of her face, all pretense of humor and humanity gone.

"For what?"

"For this," he answered. One long, elegant finger touched the center of her forehead.

Images flickered through her mind, lightning fast. Like a spectator at a movie, she watched as she urged Jack to accept the Tok'ra symbiote. To live, for her. The scene segued into Jack lying on a metallic spider web; tendrils of smoke wafting upward from holes in his shirt, as drops of death sped toward him. She heard him plead with Ba'al to end it.

"Don't," Jack begged. She saw the pain and felt it as if she were him.

"Don't," she echoed, eyes wide, unseeing, as she sank to the floor.

The Replicator version of Jack O'Neill smiled. Their plan was working. The cliches were true after all. Revenge was sweet, and a dish best served cold. It left her lying there alone, curled into the fetal position; eyes squeezed shut and tears steaming down her face. Fifth should be informed.


Original Header Information:

Title: "What?" Part I of the "What Fools These Mortals Be Sequence"
Author: dinkydow
Category: Sequel to "What Fools These Mortals Be", Romance, AU, Action/Adventure, angst, hurt/comfort
Pairings: Jack/Sam
Rating: R
Season: Season 8
Spoilers: Small ones for"Abyss", "New Order", and "Zero Hour"
Warnings: Violence and suggestive language.
Summary: Fifth still wants revenge.
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.
Author's Notes: It would also help if you read my previous "Ricochet" Series. Words in italics are the person's thoughts. Many thanks to Jolene, Linda, and Alice for keeping me focused and being my betas for this one. You may have noticed that I went so far as to label this as a "romance". Please, don't tell my Mom, as she would probably die laughing.