Have you ever met someone you just hated on sight? I know that sounds ...ugly doesn't it? Hate is such a strong word. Maybe, envied is better. Someone that managed to do what you couldn't, who accomplished things in spite of himself. I have. I know him. I know him because of who he was, what he was, and what he did. I know him because he was just like me.
Let me start at the beginning. I became an Air Force Officer in the seventies. I graduated from college and went on to Officer's Training School. There I succeeded in accomplishing my commission. Then I started filling all the squares for advancement, getting my ducks in a row; I was good, very good, and I attracted some attention from the right sorts. You know the kind, the men in power.
So I was contacted through the proper channels and I entered the next phase of my training...Special Operations. Now, Special Operations has the advertised mission of Search and Rescue, evacuation of non- combatants, destruction of enemy infrastructures, disruption of communications, etc. You get the picture. The commands you've heard of are famous now, Green Berets, Delta Force, Airborne Rangers and so on. Of course these are the big guys, the heroes.
There are others too, others with less than sterling reputations, the Black Operations... the bad boys of the story. They're the ones responsible for the military coups, the overthrown governments, the assassination plots. When it's done right, no one knows you've been there. When it goes wrong, well then, you don't exist anyway. What does it take to belong here? Let's just say you need skill, cunning and the ability to leave your conscience at the door.
Sure, I've done things I'm not proud of. But the results of my actions seemed to have been worth it in the long run. Sometimes it involves getting your hands dirty. My country needed oil? Topple the right dictator and the fields are yours. American interests need protecting? Well, the big money companies are our bread and butter taxpayers. You know the drill. Do what needs doing; don't worry about right and wrong.
That's where I first heard of Jack O'Neill. Good at his job, if a little squeamish. He was the Special Ops poster boy. Got a hard job? Call O'Neill. Need something impossible done, Jack's the man. But, if you had a black job, a dirty mission, he didn't want them. Get hold of Maybourne, he's the man with the plan, the man with no conscience.
Then, a new guy, some one from another organization approached me. I hadn't heard of this one...Top Top Secret...called the NID. Seems they needed some senior officers to head their little club. People who could handle themselves in tight situations. Five names came up; mine was in the top two. The other guy, O'Neill, well, he'd retired. Didn't want anything else to do with this type of thing. He'd had a family tragedy, his son died somehow back a few years. O'Neill had lost his nerve, retired and crawled into a bottle.
Then, several years later, out of the blue his name comes up again. Something big was happening in Cheyenne Mountain, and I don't mean Deep Space Telemetry. It seems he'd been recalled for a project by General West and had gotten a man killed...a civilian consultant named Jackson. He was a has-been, yesterday's news, and he retired again. West was long gone by now; some 2 star on the ROAD program (retired on active duty) was in charge. The big super secret program was being dismantled and the whole thing was being mothballed again.
Suddenly, a year later, all hell broke loose. People were MIA and KIA. Heads were gonna roll and Hammond was in the middle of a firefight. Well, he had a few strings left so he started recalling personnel left and right. First up were the original team members Kowalski and Ferretti, then big bad Jack O'Neill. Out of left field he pulls in his ace in the hole, some hot shot Captain. HER name was Samantha Carter; General Carter's little genius daughter. This was Hammond's last chance to make things good and I wanted no part of this fiasco.
The NID was watching the fireworks very carefully. By now, I was in, briefed and was beginning to get my feet wet when all this hell broke loose. So that put me in the driver's seat; I was their number one go- to-boy. I was told to sit still and keep my eyes and ears open. And boy, oh boy, did I get an earful.
Well, let's not beat a dead horse here. I was turned loose on the revitalized program and told to see what I could see, hear what I could hear and come up with a plan. I had one too, a good one. Oh, O'Neill's team: Carter, the alien Teal'c, and the resurrected civilian Jackson, and the rest of the SGC bunch would get all the glory, but me, well; I would get the merchandise. Where they went in for the first contact scenarios, I went in for the goods.
The name of the game was alien technology. See it, want it, take it. And we did. Damn, we were good. When we got the second Stargate working, it made our job as easy as taking candy from a baby. Lots of candy. Real sweet candy.
The gig lasted for a few years before the E.T.s got wise. Then they went complaining to Hammond and the SGC. They'd cut off relations with Earth. Wouldn't play games with us any more. Well, they hadn't been playing too many real games with us anyway. We were too primitive. Hah! Too dangerous was more like it.
Well, this scared the powers that be and they sicced O'Neill on to us. And yeah, we fell for it. I just wanted some real first-class help and he would have been it. But when O'Neill caught that stupid Jarhead Colonel and his team, well, that was the end of the line for me too. Makepeace rolled over fast, spouting all kinds of crap about the big boys and the higher ups coming to our rescue. Semper Fi my ass!
Remember the old TV show, the one that said if any of your team is caught etc. Well, there it was. No one remembered anything, hadn't seen it, and hadn't heard it. It was all old Harry's fault. Yeah...right! So we went down fast and hard. The only thing I had going for me was a few names, a few computer links and O'Neill's good memory.
Jack and I, well, lets say we have a grudging admiration for each other. He'd scratch my back and I could scratch his. We both benefited from the relationship. A little blackmail here, a little info there and hey presto, I'm sitting pretty in Acapulco complete with Cabana girls. Then things got even better after Jack and I got stuck on a bust of a planet together. He owed me, and he knew it. So, he pulled a few strings and got me the hell out of Dodge. The friendly Tok'ra aliens who had rescued us knew of a good neighborhood on a quiet, remote planet. So I found myself here on a pleasant little world occupied by human types and I was living the good life again. Sure, it didn't have cable TV or microwave ovens but it beat the hell out of Ft Leavenworth Kansas and it did have a nice casual atmosphere.
But every Garden of Eden has its snakes; and mine had a Goa'uld. But this one particular snake seemed too preoccupied to do more than show up occasionally and intimidate the natives. Every once in a while he'd determine that it was time for a restock on likely hosts for his kids but that didn't happen very often. Now, me being old and past my prime, I was clearly out of the running so I had nothing to worry about. They always took the pretty young ones, not old decrepit Air Force Colonels. Hell, he was less dangerous than half a dozen petty Earth Dictators that I could name.
So there I was, sitting in the sun at a little cafe with a few of my new friends when, lo and behold, whom should I see but Jack O'Neill? Now, he wasn't in the best of shape. In fact, he wasn't doing too well at all. He was being dragged unceremoniously down the dirt road by several really big ugly Jaffa towards the local holy temple cum fortress. It seemed that Jack had made himself a royal pain in the ass once too often.
Now, I gotta tell you in all honesty, if it had been anyone else I wouldn't have bothered with him. But, I have a kind of soft spot in my heart for O'Neill. He'd come through for me a few times when he didn't have to. I knew I owed him.
Ah, but the trick was going to be doing something that would actually help, and me not getting caught. I'm no hero, by a long shot. I like my life here and I don't want to do anything that would cause me to lose it. Hey, I have a house, a business, and a nice servant woman who takes care of my every wish. I had no intention of screwing it up now. But I was ex-Black Ops; I could do this.
I followed my instincts and then I followed my nose. After the bullyboys dragged Jack past me, I got to wondering where they'd come from. Had Jack been here when he was caught? Or had he been captured first then brought here to this little planet? So, I had started backtracking.
The trail led me back to the Stargate all right. I guessed O'Neill had been captured somewhere else and brought here to our local Goa'uld outpost. What had happened to his team? Were they all dead on some other planet or had Jack managed to draw the bad guys away from his people? He'd do that if he could. I know that.
Then as I was walking back down the path to my little hovel away from home, I see something lying in the road, something that doesn't belong here. It's plastic and shiny with silver buttons, like a TV control. I pick it up and then I recognize it. It's an SGC GDO device; the kind they use to let the SGC know who they are so they'll open the iris for them to return. It must be Jack's and it either fell off or was ripped off while they dragged him down the road. Hummm, this might lead to a possibility. I owe him one, that's for sure. Wonder what his code is anyway. I wonder....hum. I think I'll go and think about it for a while.
Let's see, first of all, Jack was here alone. Maybe, just maybe, his team had managed to get away. If they did I knew that they'd be hunting for him. That Jaffa was no man's fool, and Sam Carter was smarter than the average Major was. Now, that new guy, Jonas...I didn't know him, but he couldn't be too dumb or Jack wouldn't have had him on his team to begin with. So, the first order of business was to get word to SG-1. To do that I had to get to the Stargate. Ah well, a late night trip with a little caution, a word to the proper address and well, there you are.
"What do you mean 'he's missing'?" Daniel Jackson demanded of Major General Hammond. "How can he be missing? Where was he?" He was at his normal position, ninety degrees off from the General and next to Jack's painfully empty chair; but he was now standing, leaning over the shiny top of the table, his hands leaving fingerprints on the polished wood surface.
"Doctor Jackson, please, sit down. I'm as concerned about this as you are." The older man shook his baldhead in annoyance. It had been a long night. SG-21, the new team, had been long overdue and now while they had located the lost team, his Second in Command was still missing. Jack O'Neill had been its temporary leader while waiting for Lieutenant Colonel Andrews to arrive from his previous assignment.
The rest of SG-1 had been unavailable for off world missions. Both the younger members were recovering from injuries sustained off world and had not been cleared for gate travel, so they had been engaged in their individual research. Major Sam Carter had been doing some work on her newest experiment with the ever-stubborn Naquadah generator and Daniel had been playing catch up with his heavy workload in his Archaeology/Anthropology/Linguistics Department. With the other members on light duty, Teal'c had opted to visit with his son and mentor, Master Bra'tac.
Jack had been going stir crazy on base and Hammond had allowed him to take this milk run to help season a green team with some off world experience. The team had been overdue by twenty-four hours when SG-2 was sent to check on them. They had found the three members of the team unconscious and trussed up like Christmas turkeys. O'Neill was gone, reportedly removed by hostiles.
"He was on a training mission with the new team." Hammond explained to SG-1. "It was supposed to be a safe world and a forty-eight hour mission." He turned to look down table to where Captain Gomez and his two team mates were now seated, "Perhaps you can tell us what occurred, Captain?"
The small swarthy man looked abashedly around the table at the others seated there. "We'd set up camp next to the lake the second night. Cheryl, er, Captain Brannan had the watch. I woke up tied to a tree."
All eyes in the room centered upon the young brown haired woman who immediately flushed pink. "Yes, Sir. I had just done the perimeter walk when I was hit by some sort of electrical charge." She looked down at the shiny surface of the table and began to pick the nail bed of her right forefinger with her left one.
"You didn't see anything?" Carter was still seated, but her voice belied her concern.
"No," the younger woman answered. "No, ma'am, I didn't."
"Look, you can't blame Cheryl." Oscar Fredricks spoke up in her defense. He was a tall, slender blonde civilian, older than both of his military teammates were. "She didn't do anything wrong. We were all...."
"No one is blaming her. But," Teal'c intoned. "her lack of experience and inattention to her surroundings allowed your enemies to approach close enough to your camp for them to have access to your persons."
"If you been more alert, Captain, you wouldn't have lost Jack!" Jackson commented, sitting down angrily in his chair.
"Now wait just a minute." Gomez interjected. "We were on a safe planet!"
"I hate to tell you this, Captain...but there is no such thing... planets are only relatively safe." Carter kept her voice at a normal tone. "That's why you were standing sentry duty. It's like saying a dog doesn't bite. It just means that it's safe so far, nothing has happened yet."
There was a knock on the briefing room door. Master Sergeant Davis opened it at the General's word.
"Sir, we have an unscheduled incoming wormhole; we've closed the iris."
"Good, any code, Sergeant?" Hammond asked.
"Yes, Sir. But it's a four-digit sequence."
Daniel looked at Sam who glanced at Teal'c. "We don't use 4 digit codes." The younger man commented.
"Are you sure it's from a GDO?" Carter got up and went to where Davis was talking to Hammond.
"Yes, Ma'am." The NCO answered her.
Daniel joined them, followed by Teal'c. "What are they sending?"
Davis looked at him. "They're sending 5-2-2-5. They sent it three times."
Carter frowned at him, then looked to her younger teammate. "Does that mean anything to you, Daniel?"
Daniel had a concentrated look on his face. "No, yes, wait! Wait!" He turned and ran to the table, grabbing a pencil and paper. He then wrote the four numbers down and stared at the pad. "It's Jack's phone number! The last four digits of this cell phone number."
Sam suddenly smiled. "It is. I remember because...."
"That's how he remembers it. These are the numbers that correspond with his name...Jack. See, it's 5 for J, 2 for A and C, and 5 again for K. It's Jack!"
Hammond dismissed SG-21 to medical, and SG-1 and General Hammond went out into the Control Room, they heard the unmistakable sound of something hitting the iris with a disconcerting thud. Then the wormhole closed.
Well, I sent the message the only way that I could figure out how. I put a code in with the GDO three times then I threw a rock and closed the gate. I'll wait fifteen minutes more and do it again. Then I'll wait for the third time to send my message. It's a thick parchment scroll written in American English rolled and put into a clay jar. I figured that when it reintegrates through the wormhole and bashes itself onto their metal ramp on the other side, the jar might help the cold sheepskin survive the initial contact. We don't have real paper here yet and I think the papyrus would just crumble when it got there. If not, I just don't know. It's a shame Jackson is dead, he would have enjoyed that. Oh well, c'est la vie.
At least I'll know I tried. I'll just hang around the area on the other side of the trees here for a while and see if they get it. If any of the bad guys show up while I'm here, hey, I'm having a picnic and enjoying a beautiful day. I mean they're not even guarding the Stargate, for Pete's sake. Of course it's not used much, not many natives even know what it's for. It's generally regarded as 'where the gods come from' but that just means nobody wants to mess with it. That's a good thing for both me and Jack this fine spring day.
Wonder how they got their hands on him anyway. He's usually a wily old wolf not to mention SG-1 is pretty good at what they do. That's why he caught my people out. Like I said earlier, Jack is as good as I am, he just normally has better backup with his team than I ever did. This time he looked pretty rough. I'd say whichever Gould had him had something personal to settle.
I had been thrown unceremoniously into a dark cell; bruised, battered and broken... again. Couldn't I ever catch a break? Apparently not.
When the Jaffa had hit the camp, the youngsters showed their courage but when I'd tried to rally them their inexperience had caused them to scatter. Hell, Gomez hadn't even really woken up. They couldn't regroup and back each other up...and they'd all fallen one at a time. I tried to draw the attacking force off of them, but got hit by a zat. I knew then that they were down and I was out...by a mile.
The good thing is I haven't seen any of them here, the bad thing is I am here. Which means one thing. Somebody knows who I am, someone who wanted Jack O'Neill for something, and it was probably personal. I so hate it when that happens.
Daniel looked at Hammond, "Jack would know not to try and come through without his proper code."
Sam nodded. "If he had any choice in the matter."
Hammond reached for the microphone and tilted it towards himself away from Davis. He looked down at the SFs in the gateroom. "Sergeant Moore, see what that was."
The senior ranking NCO on the floor went around the back of the Stargate, peeked behind it then disappeared from view. When he returned his hands were cupped and in them was a handful of dust and debris. Hammond motioned him to come up and Jackson met him at the top of the metal stairwell.
"Sir, it was an inanimate object." He held up his hands and small particles drifted down. "Looks like a rock or some dirt of some sort." Daniel carefully took the particles from the SF and carried them back into the briefing room table. SG-21 had stood up and gathered together watching the proceedings.
"What is it, Doctor Jackson?" the General asked him as the archaeologist allowed the dust to sift down to the tabletop.
"Looks like an exploded rock all right." He examined the particles through his fingers. "I'm not sure I understand...."
The Stargate began to open again behind the still closed iris Davis looked up from his computer monitor and called back to the group. "Sir?"
"Leave it closed, Sergeant." Hammond called out to him.
Daniel left the table and came back out into the control room.
Davis looked at where the General was standing. "We're getting the same code, General!"
Hammond frowned, "Leave it shut."
"General, it could be Jack!" Daniel commented with concern written on his voice.
"Then why isn't he sending his real code, Doctor Jackson? Why send...?"
"But, Sir, who else could it be?"
"I know Major, who indeed." Hammond said softly. As they all looked down onto the floor of the Gateroom, Teal'c entered bearing his staff weapon. "Teal'c?"
"General Hammond. I request that you open the iris on the next code."
Hammond looked thoughtfully from him to Carter to Jackson. Two pair of blue eyes met his with silent pleas.
"We'll never know, Sir, if we don't open the iris..." Carter started.
Then another loud thud was heard against the trinium shield, then the wormhole snapped shut again, breaking contact with them. At Hammond's nod, Sergeant Moore went back behind the Stargate again. He returned holding out his hands. "More powder, Sir." he called up to the command room. Just like before. It wasn't...."
The General nodded, trying to keep his face from reflecting his own fears. "I understand, it was another rock."
Carter and Jackson looked from him to each other. "Sir," She began.
"I know, Major, someone is being careful." Hammond replied. "Twice with three codes."
"And if it comes again, it's the third time." Daniel put in. "They're using the human fascination with the number 3." The young man sighed. "Logically speaking, when the send the code for the third time on the third try, they may try and send something else besides a rock."
"It does seem rather patient for a Goa'uld, Sir." Carter commented with a thoughtful expression. Sir, if it happens again...."
"You want me to open the iris." The General commented.
"Sir, the only way we'll know for sure is if you let whoever is trying to contact us do so." Daniel said intensely.
"And if it's an attack, Doctor Jackson," Hammond looked at him thoughtfully.
"It is a risk, Sir." Carter put in, supporting her teammate. "But, at this rate we'll never know who it is or what the matter is."
The General nodded, "Very well. I'll allow it. Let's see who is knocking on our door."
Within fifteen minutes, the Stargate started to activate again behind the still closed iris. They could see and hear the chevrons sounding. Hammond looked down at the Security Forces and Teal'c on the floor of the gateroom.
Carter slid into a chair next to the technician. She watched the monitors. "Sir, it's the same code again.
"If it's the Colonel, why isn't he using his own code?" Hammond mused thoughtfully
"Maybe it's not Jack." Daniel said out loud to himself. "Maybe it's someone for Jack."
Hammond looked back and forth between the two scientists. Then he nodded his head and looked at Sergeant Davis. "Open the iris." He turned the microphone towards himself. "Security! To your stations and heads up! Be prepared for anything!"
The iris rotated open with a metallic sound. After a few minutes, the code was sent again. Then after another indeterminable wait of a few minutes, the code again was transmitted. Finally, on the third transmission, a small object came flying through the wormhole, cleared the ramp and shattered on impact with the concrete floor of the gateroom. Then the wormhole snapped closed with finality.
Sergeant Moore and Teal'c went to the object on the floor and looked up at the General. "It's...it was a jar of some kind, and there's something in it, Sir!"
Hammond motioned for them to bring it up. Moore and Teal'c picked up the pieces and carried the object and its contents up to the Command Center
The Sergeant brought in a handful of what appeared to be broken potshards and put them down on the table. Teal'c carried the relatively intact object. It was a rolled up piece of parchment. Daniel eagerly took the scroll and headed for the table again. Moore followed with the pieces of the jar. The other team followed behind.
Hammond looked at Davis. "Close the iris, Sergeant." As he did so the wormhole shut. Moore carefully put the shattered fragments on the surface of the table next to the remains of the rock. Meanwhile, Daniel carefully unrolled the crushed sheet and laid it on the tabletop. It was in several fragments, but he was able to arrange them into a square shape on the flat surface.
"Can you translate it Doctor Jackson?" Hammond asked anxiously.
"Well, actually, it's in English, Modern English." The linguist said wonderingly. Sam tried to peer over his shoulder at the pieces of paper-like material. "Well, what does it say?"
"Oh, sorry." He gave them a quick glance up. "It's a piece of parchment apparently. The ceramic container exploded on contact with the floor but this remained relatively intact."
"How could it?" Carter asked curiously. "After all of that pounding.
"Well, parchment is made of animal skin; it's a sort of very fine leather and tougher than paper which is made of plant pulp." Daniel answered absently as he studied the message.
"But, what does it say?" Hammond pressed him anxiously.
"Oh, yes, uh, sorry. It says, 'O'Neill here, captured by Gould, send help." Daniel looked up in amazement. "Its signed H. M."
Hammond looked at him in confusion. "H. M.?"
Carter allowed herself a small grin. "Harry Maybourne. But where's here?"
"There's a gate address, but not one I'm familiar with." Daniel chewed on his lip in confusion. "Harry Maybourne? Isn't he in prison?" Then he hesitated trying to remember, "or somewhere?"
"Or somewhere is right, Doctor Jackson." Hammond nodded. "The last time we saw Maybourne he and Colonel O'Neill were trying to find a secret weapons cache on a planet that only he had the key to."
Sam picked up the tale, "It turned out that it was only a ruse to get us to help him go to a utopian colony on another planet."
Daniel stared at them with upraised eyebrows, "And you went along with him?" he said disbelievingly.
"We were after the weapons; Maybourne didn't bother to let us in on the other part of the plan." the General said with a grimace. "We nearly lost Colonel O'Neill on that one, again."
"Again?" Daniel asked.
"Yes, when they got there the planet was a tomb of all of the previous inhabitants and they were unable to return to Earth."
"O'Neill was having a bad year." Teal'c commented unexpectedly.
"Apparently so." Daniel's eyebrows climbed up a notch. "How did you get him back?"
"The Tok'ra found them with a ship. O'Neill returned to us and the Tok'ra agreed to find Colonelmaybourne a new home on a quiet uneventful planet." the Jaffa continued.
"Colonel O'Neill evidently thought we owed him a debt from some previous experiences, including Major Carter's kidnapping and my run in with the NID." Hammond nodded.
"It would also seem that we will again be in his debt, if O'Neill is there." Teal'c said gravely. "He does not specify which Goa'uld has captured O'Neill?"
"No, only the message and the gate address." He glanced at Hammond, "When can we leave?"
"How soon can you be ready?"
I was sitting there under the tree eating some roast bird of some sort or other. It was actually quite good. Maya was an excellent cook along with her many other talents. She had been my third acquisition on this nice planet. First the position of security man for the local town's boss, then my cozy little bungalow, then my servant woman. Not so young or pretty, but neither am I, and she is nice and warm just the same.
As I was saying, I was sitting there, enjoying the sun and my lunch when the Stargate began to turn. Seven chevrons later a small mechanical device trundled out to pan around the clearing. Good old George Hammond, so predictable. I sighed and got to my feet. As I approached the machine the camera lens zeroed in on me and I waved at the eye. "Morning."
A tinny sounding voice greeted me. "Maybourne."
"Hi there, George. How's things at the SGC?"
"Maybourne, where's Colonel O'Neill?" A female voice greeted me.
"And Major Carter, so nice to hear your voice." I had to smile. I hadn't enjoyed myself quite so much in a long time. "Well, he's probably in a rather dark, cold, dank cell right about now. He's the guest of our local false god."
"And what are you doing about it?" she demanded.
"Who me?" I decided on the innocent tact. "Why, Major, I saw my old friend Jack, and I said to myself... 'who shall I call?' and I knew right away. So, I called you...the Goa'uld busters."
"Maybourne, do you know where Colonel O'Neill is or not?" It was Hammond again.
"Yeah, General, I do," I replied, putting a tired spin on my inflection. "But, you can't rescue him from over there...and I can't do it alone. If you want him, you'll have to come and get him yourselves."
I could just imagine the consternation running rampant through the gateroom. I had to smile, just a little. Then, sure as I'm standing here, I see the disturbance forming on the surface of the event horizon and moments later three figures step through, being led by Doctor Jackson, with Major Carter and Teal'c bringing up the rear. Okay, I admit it. I'm surprised. I looked at the bespectacled academic in amazement. "Where the hell did you come from?"
He looks me straight in the eye and says "Actually, it was Viz Uban. We've been to Netu, and we blew it up."
"Well, isn't this just great? Old times and all that crap." I look up and see a very familiar Goa'uld. "Bocce Baal."
He grins at me in that very special, Gould way. "Kanan, we meet again."
I shake my head. It, by the way, is the only thing I can shake. I'm back on one of those gravity well thingies he had on his planet when I was his guest. "Sorry, I'm not him. Kanan, I mean." I try to look sincere. "He's gone, the little snake bastard. Cut and run on me when you had me last time."
"So, you admit that it was you who destroyed my previous stronghold?"
"Well, more like cause of me." I'm trying here; I'm just not sure it's working.
"But you were the one who stole my Lotar?" He looks at me funny.
"No, now that was Kanan. He really liked her... a lot....and she liked him."
"That is not possible!"
Oh, that touched a nerve.
"What can I say; who can figure a snake. I couldn't and it was my head he was in." Oops, I could see he didn't like that comment. "Look, I'm just saying, you had me, I had a chance to run for it and I got away. I don't know what happened to your Luther and I don't care. I don't know what happened to Kanan and I don't care. All I wanted to do was get away. Ya can't blame a guy for trying can you?"
Baal looked at me like I was some kinda interesting bug stuck in his magnetic web, and then he turned and walked away. That did not go well at all.
We're all walking up the path that leads towards the little town. The Jaffa's on point, Jackson and I are walking together and Carter has our six.
"So," I say to Jackson. "I was sitting at a local outdoor cafe and I see a bunch of Jaffa dragging Jack along with them."
"Was he unconscious?" he asks me.
"I couldn't tell," I admit. "His training would have made him act that way even if he wasn't." I look at him. He's bigger than I remember. "Aren't you supposed to be dead?"
"It didn't take," he replies looking at me over his glasses. "Where did they go with him?"
"Oh, probably took him over to the fortress," I reply checking out their response to that bit of news. "That's where they usually go. It's this way, past the village."
Jackson glances at the SGC's pet Jaffa who moves up on my other side. He's way bigger than me and knows how to glower like no one else I know.
"Do you know which Goa'uld has O'Neill?"
"Yeah, the locals call him Baal or Baalin. I think he's a Middle Eastern type."
The big guy nods. "We have had dealings with him." Then he glances at Jackson. "Is this not the same false god who was holding O'Neill prisoner after he was implanted with the Tok'ra symbiote?"
Jackson shakes his head as if he doesn't know. Carter puts her two cents in. "Yes, Teal'c, he was. But you were able to convince him to attack Anubis. Surely that...."
"The battle did not go well, Majorcarter. Baal will not remember me fondly."
Well, now this was all news to me. Jack had been snaked? Poor bastard! "Is that why Baal wants Jack now? Because he's a Tok'ra?"
"He's not a Tok'ra anymore," Carter puts in hurriedly.
"But does Baal know that?" Jackson asks her. "Does he realize that Jack is himself again?"
"I am certain that he has discovered that by now, Danieljackson." Teal'c replies.
"Which means exactly what?" I ask. Hey, if I'm gonna put myself at risk here I gotta know the score.
"It means, Maybourne, that once you point us in the right direction you might want to...disappear." Jackson looked at me with those blue eyes of his. "We aren't his favorite people."
He's back. He's standing there looking at me as if I had done something personal to him. I hadn't, really. Well, I had helped the girl escape, but she wanted to come with. I mean wouldn't you? Leave the life of a slave behind, maybe escape being made a host. Who wouldn't want to for crying out loud? Had he loved her? I don't think so. I think he possessed her, didn't want to lose her, but if he loved her, she didn't know it.
And he had fought against Anubis. At the same time we did. He and the other system lords had lost...a lot. Then we did too...for a little while. But then Daniel had come back to us. Baal's losses of ships and Jaffa hadn't. Anubis was off somewhere licking his wounds and regaining his strength. All Baal had was me back up against the wall again...literally. And no one knew where I was. There was no helpful guardian angel to lead them to me this time, just me in the Lion's Den with no Daniel in sight. Oh, he'd be hunting, along with Carter, Teal'c and George. But it didn't look good for the home team...and we were fast playing through the seventh inning stretch. But I digress.
Baal is standing there, holding a knife, looking at me like Daniel looks at one of his rocks. No, not quite, Danny likes the rocks. He cleans them and pats them and strokes them with his fingertips. This is more like Carter; she takes her stuff apart into little tiny pieces to see what makes them work. Then she puts them all back together again and...well, there the analogy ends. I don't think Baal wants me back together after he takes me apart. Oh God, I'm so screwed here. He's picking up a knife.
"Well, O'Neill, if you are not Kanan...then I will have other things to discuss with you."
He's looking at me holding the knife. I remember that knife. He's playing with it now.
"What are the numbers to unlock your protective shield at your base?"
Oh God, the knife....!
The team had arrived at the huge fortress and was hiding in the surrounding woods, looking at its forbidding walls. The three SGC people passed a look back and forth between themselves.
Carter asked the question. "What do you think?"
"We have to go in and get him out." Jackson replied firmly.
"Indeed. It will prove difficult but I do not believe impossible." Teal'c was visually examining the building.
Harry looked at them in amazement. "You're kidding, right?"
Teal'c looked down at the smaller man. "I do not joke over such things."
Daniel was chewing on his lower lip. "We'll need a diversion." He looked to Sam. "Teal'c and I can go in and get Jack. Can you handle it?"
She looked at Maybourne. "I think we can."
The man looked at her blankly. "We?"
"Well," she replied shrugging out of her backpack. "Daniel and Teal'c are better suited to read Goa'uld and to carry the Colonel out of the building. So that leaves us to create the diversion."
"It is Majorcarter's specialty." Teal'c nodded looking almost proudly at the woman.
Daniel looked at her. "Do you have it?"
"Never leave home without it. It's a girl's best friend." She smiled at Daniel.
Maybourne looked at her curiously. "Diamonds?"
She grinned at him. "C-4." Sam then nodded at Daniel and Teal'c. "Don't worry, I've got your back."
"Diamonds?" I ask her in confusion.
"C-4." She nodded at her two teammates. "Don't worry I've got your back."
Jackson and Teal'c look at each other. Then, the big man speaks. "Give us thirty minutes."
Jackson nods in agreement. "That should be plenty of time."
"For what?" I demand trying to sound like I think they know what they're doing.
"To get to Jack." The younger man looks at me as if I should already know the answer.
"Then we get him out."
"You sound pretty confident." I can not believe that they are going into this fortress after one man...even if he is Jack O'Neill. "What if you can't find him?"
"We will find him." Teal'c looks at me as if I had two heads.
Jackson nods as he lays his pack down. "No one gets left behind."
"What if he's dead?" Well, somebody has to say it.
"Then, we bring his body out;" Jackson doesn't even glance my way. "but he's not."
"But how do you know that?"
"Baal possesses a sarcophagus." The Jaffa laid his pack down next to Jackson's. They nod at each other and melt into the wooded landscape with the Jaffa in the lead.
I look at Carter, "C-4?" I ask.
"Come on, Maybourne. Don't you trust me?"
I look at her suspiciously. "No."
But she ignores me completely. She digs into her supplies and pulls out a small brick of plastic explosives and starts to divide it into smaller pieces. She looks around at the immediate area and then starts pulling the detonators out of her kit. Then she looks up at me. "What do you think, Maybourne?"
"I think you're all certifiable!" She just smiles.
Daniel and Teal'c entered the fortress cautiously through a large ground floor window and stayed in the shadows of the corridors. The interior walls were made of a coarse granite-like stone with shallow niches every so often in between the sunken door wells, making their progress much easier than it could have been.
Using hand signals to communicate, the two men advanced through the corridors pausing only at intersections. Teal'c was leading, Daniel right behind him. A few Jaffa passed them unseeing. The big warrior watched them carefully. It was obvious that they were not expecting any visitors here on their god's world. It was a mistake that would cost them.
When they reached the lower levels they could hear the sound of voices echoing in the corridor outside of several large doorways. The on coming tramp of boots drove them to seek shelter in a darkened doorway. After the squad had passed them by, Teal'c tilted his head for a moment then motioned to the next door over. At Daniel's puzzled look, he pointed to the door then held up two fingers. Then he indicated his own abdomen with its healing pouch. There were two people in there, and one was a Goa'uld.
Daniel nodded eagerly. At this level, it could only be Baal and his prisoner. They settled in to wait. Finally after what seemed forever, they heard and felt the force of the first explosions. Sam had started their diversion. It was time.
The door opened and the bearded figure of Baal came striding hurriedly out of the room leaving the door slightly ajar. He passed them unknowingly and went to the intersection. There he called for his guards, the squad of Jaffa arrived, and the group headed down the corridor at a quick pace.
As soon as he was gone, Daniel and Teal'c hurriedly entered the room. As expected, O'Neill was there. He was held pinned upright on a metal web but he was in sore shape. He was bleeding from a gash across his forehead, and his eyes were closed in exhaustion or unconsciousness. His uniform shirt was gone, and from the black tee shirt one knife's handle protruded from his left shoulder, while another was stuck in his right thigh. Congealed blood ran was stiffening his sodden clothing and dripped scarlet onto the floor at his feet.
Daniel immediately ran to his friend's side and gently cupped the pale cheek. It was warm; he was still alive. Teal'c went to the control console looking to the younger man for a sign. At his teammate's quick nod, he activated the controls and released the magnetic field. Daniel supported O'Neill, catching him in his arms and guiding him gently to the floor.
"Jack," Daniel spoke to him softly as he checked for a carotid pulse. It was weak, but still there. He was breathing shallowly and slowly. "Jack, can you hear me?"
At first there was no response to the stimulation of voice and hands that caressed his face and chafed his hands. But finally the brown eyes opened slightly and in a weak voice he said. "Daniel?"
"Yes, Jack, it's me and Teal'c. We're here to take you home. Okay? Just hold on for us."
Teal'c had joined his friends and was assessing O'Neill's condition. He knew it was very bad from the amount of blood on his clothing and the floor where he had been standing.
Daniel looked at the Jaffa. "Should we pull the knives out now or leave them? He'll start to bleed worse."
Teal'c nodded. "Yes, we must or I could injure him worse as I carry him. Do you have your first aid kit?" At the younger man's nod he continued. "We must immediately bandage him tightly then move quickly. It will cause him pain but there is no other recourse."
Daniel nodded and bent over O'Neill again. "Jack, the knives...."
Jack moved his head slightly. "Pull 'em...get 'em out...." he gasped.
Daniel reached into his vest pocket and removed his small personal first aid kit. Teal'c did the same and they popped the two kits open, retrieving the necessary items. "Okay, here we go." He held Jack's look with his and laid his left hand firmly across his friend's mouth. At Teal'c's signal, he pressed down to muffle Jack's cry of pain with the one hand as they both quickly pulled the embedded blades from their friend's injured body. Jack arched up in a rictus of agony. Blood began welling from the two wounds.
After his agonized sound, Jack slumped bonelessly to the floor, giving in to blessed unconsciousness. The two men quickly applied gauze pads and wrapped them tightly with cotton bandages to stem the flow of lifeblood. The leg wound was relatively easy to control but the chest injury continued to bleed for far too long. Daniel finally pulled off his fatigue jacket and taking his combat knife stripped the long sleeves from it to make another binding. As soon as they got the wounded man ready, Teal'c gently picked up his team chief and cradled him in his arms like a child. Daniel re-holstered his automatic piston from where he'd laid it down and picked up Teal'c's P-90. He then took point, the Jaffa carrying his burden and following closely behind. Going through the corridors they met with only minor resistance, most of which faded when faced with the determined, well-armed Daniel.
They had to move quickly, Sam's diversion had only been of a limited duration. Soon, they were out of the fortress and trotting across the small clearing before the wooded area where their compatriots waited for them.
They were greeted by an animated Samantha Carter and a harried looking Maybourne. "You got him!" she crowed. As they grew near, her excited expression turned worried. "How badly is he hurt?"
Daniel glanced over his shoulder at Teal'c and his burden. "Bad enough, he was only conscious a few minutes before he passed out again."
Maybourne looked at them unhappily. "He looks dead...."
"He is not." Teal'c glared at the smaller man. "He only sleeps now. We must return to the SGC quickly for his survival."
"Well, come on then." Carter agreed as she swung her P-90 to the ready position. "Let's go."
Daniel looked at Maybourne. "Can you carry Teal'c's pack?"
"Can you give me a weapon, at least?" Harry returned sourly.
Daniel nodded and handed him his pistol. Maybourne looked at it in disdain then before finally accepting the smaller weapon. Daniel reached for and re-donned his backpack then helped the other man put Teal'c's pack on.
Carter nodded at them then took point. They started the quick march towards the Stargate.
I don't believe it! How does this happen? I send back one message and these three come running like the U. S. Calvary. They not only show up, they storm the fort, rescue O'Neill, and are now headed back to their home base like they do it every day. The damned thing is, they would have done this for any one of themselves. This isn't a military operation...its a damn family affair.
If it had been me, nobody would have even cared.
Major Carter is in the lead, and looking scary as hell, Teal'c is carrying Jack like he's made of gold and Jackson...well, determined doesn't quite cover his expression. If I were Baal, I'd stay as far away from this bunch as I could get. Jaffa army or not.
Jack looks bad. He's unconscious, white as a ghost and there's blood everywhere. I see two soaked bandages and blood on his face. Teal'c has Jack's blood on his uniform from carrying him and Jackson's got it all over his hands probably from treating his wounds. I just hope he lives long enough to get back home. We've been on the hump now for twenty minutes so we're almost to the Stargate.
Then I see it just past those trees. There seems to be some company up ahead at the Stargate though. I think it's time for me to say my goodbyes. As we slip in behind the cover of a small grove of trees, I pull off the pack to hand it back to Jackson. He takes it from me but refuses the pistol. Then he hands me some more clips.
"You keep it, Maybourne, and here are some extra bullets for it. I seem to have lost it while rescuing Jack." He looks at me and nods. "Thanks for your help."
"You people are something else, you know that?" I comment as I pocket the ammo and push the automatic under my belt.
Carter glances back and frowns when she sees that Jackson was giving me the gun and ammo. Then she nods her approval. "We couldn't have done it without you, Maybourne. We owe you."
"I'll keep this tab, Major. You never know when I might need it." I'm serious too; this team delivers the goods.
"Well, we hope you never do, but we're good for it." Jackson nods as he readies the P-90 for the work up ahead.
"Well, you'll excuse me if I fade away now." I look over my shoulder. "I don't want to be ID'd by any of these guys."
Jackson extends his hand to me. "Thanks again, Maybourne."
I look at it, surprised at the gesture, then I shake it. "Just be sure you take care of Jack."
"We shall." Teal'c says to me. Jack is lying in his arms, looking small and fragile.
Carter nods then says. "Come on. Let's do this." They take their places automatically. I slide back, farther away from the action that I know is about to take place.
There are three Jaffa guards at the Stargate, the first I've ever seen there. The excitement at the fortress must be the reason. I watch as SG-1 gets set for their escape. Jackson picks the second pack up and slings it around his back with his own, then gets in a runner's position. Carter hefts her weapon to get ready. Teal'c adjusts his grip on his unconscious team leader.
Suddenly, the Major starts the action by opening fire on the sentries. One goes down immediately, the other two duck behind the gate itself. Jackson's off like a rabbit, firing his P-90, headed for the DHD.
Under a hail of returning zat fire, the man runs to the pedestal and starts punching in the seven coordinates and hitting the crystal. He ducks and weaves, avoiding the blasts like they're only fireflies. As the event horizon forms, I can see him pushing up his sleeve to send the iris code through with his GDO. The second Jaffa drops and the third one is now completely pinned down by the Major's cover fire.
Jackson turns and waves the others on. Teal'c is charging the gate like a football player headed for a touchdown, O'Neill gripped securely in his arms. Jackson is now crouching behind the DHD laying down the cover fire allowing Carter to make her own sprint to the gate. Finally, the last Jaffa hits the ground and the firefight is over. Teal'c goes through the gate first still at a dead run, Carter stops to guard Jackson's trip and then as he disappears through the wormhole she glances back at my covering grove of trees. She waves once more in my general direction, then steps through the event horizon. In a few seconds the Stargate closes with an audible snap.
I stay in my hiding place a few more minutes, and then once I'm sure the coast is clear I head back to my little house on the outskirts of town. Jack is now safely back at the SGC and I've done my good deed for the month. And I've figured something else out too.
SG-1 arrived back in the gateroom. Teal'c had been the first one back carrying his injured leader. The medical team was already in place and he gently deposited O'Neill on the waiting gurney. Daniel came back at a run and he stopped next to his friend as the medical personnel were starting their initial triage on O'Neill. Carter came last and at a walking pace. She arrived just in time to see the gurney start its headlong flight to the clinic, leaving her other two teammates behind in its wake.
General Hammond had come down the metal staircase to greet them and to make sure his second-in-command was still alive. He could tell that he was and the seriousness of his condition by the way the team had whisked him away to medical. He joined the rest of the team on the gateroom floor.
"I see you found the Colonel. How did it go?"
Carter spoke for them all. "Maybourne met us at the gate and escorted us to the fortress that Baal had the Colonel in. Daniel and Teal'c went in for him while we created a diversion using C-5. They were able to locate and extract him quickly and then we went immediately back to the gate." she finished succinctly.
Hammond nodded knowing that a whole lot more had actually happened, but this would satisfy him for now. "How is the Colonel?"
"O'Neill bears several grave injuries to his body." Teal'c replied gravely. "He has lost much blood."
"He did regain consciousness for a few minutes when we found him." Daniel put in, looking down the hallway after this friend. "But when we had to pull the knives out to move him...."
"Knives?" Hammond looked at him in surprise.
Daniel nodded. "Baal had been using him for knife throwing practice." He looked down at the floor so the General wouldn't see his distress. "There were...two..."
"We knew that to move him, they had to be removed to prevent more serious damage." Teal'c supplied softly, "O'Neill bore it well, but he lost consciousness immediately afterwards. I carried him to the gate, while our companions guarded us."
"And Maybourne?" the General asked. "What was he doing?"
"Well, Sir, he helped me set the C-4 then he escorted us back." Carter looked thoughtful. "He carried Teal'c's pack and helped to guard the Colonel. He did a lot more than I expected him to, Sir."
"So it would seem. Well, I look forward to a more complete debriefing later at 1500 this afternoon. Meanwhile, go get cleaned up and cleared through medical." He nodded. "Well done, SG-1."
Thank you, Sir." Carter nodded and the three of them headed for the showers."
I slowly come to realize that I hurt like hell. As I regained my awareness, I can hear beeping, whooshing, squeaking and ... snoring? Then I go back to sleep for a while.
As I surfaced again the sounds come back to me...except the snoring is gone. I still feel like crap, and my feet are freezing, but while one hand is cold the other is warm. I can now smell the chemical odors I had always connected with the clinic. Oh, okay, that explains a lot. I opened one eye successfully; the other seems unwilling to participate in the activity. The ceiling immediately identifies my location as the SGC clinic. That would explain everything else. The machinery is the source of the primary noise. And my warm hand is easily explained by the fact that someone is holding it.
That person is, of course, Danny. But he's asleep now, leaning forward. His face is buried in the blanket that covers me, his ass is in a chair next to the bed, and his hand is wrapped tightly around mine. He's gonna be really stiff when he wakes up.
Doctor Fraiser notices that I'm awake. It's that sixth sense of hers, identifying patients who have changed position or condition. She'll catch you every time. The Doc comes around to my clear side and picks up my arm to take a pulse, and then she shines that damned light of hers in my only functioning eye. I groan in complaint.
"Good to see you coming around, Colonel. You had us worried for a while."
I try to nod, then manage to croak. "W'a hp'nd?" I do this while I watch the purple spot she just put there swim around the ceiling.
"You were captured by Baal, but your team got you out." She smiles down at me, then says unnecessarily. "You're safe now; you'll be okay in a while."
"Eye?" I mumble.
"Just bruised, a beautiful shiner, don't worry about it."
I wasn't really, just curious. I manage to roll my good eye with the purple spots over at sleeping Danny. " 'kay?"
"Yes, everyone else is fine." I can hear the satisfaction in her voice. "He's just taking a nap."
"Hmpf." I reply. Sounds, and feels, like he's got a good idea. I close my one peeper and join him in a snooze.
I can still hear the Doc's voice. "That's good, Sir, you just sleep some more." I feel her hand stroking my forehead. I think I will.
I have a lot to think about. SG-1 has proven something to me today...again.
Their commander, no, their friend was in trouble. They didn't know what kind of trouble or how bad, but they came for him.
Three years ago their boss was in trouble, Jack went out on a very big limb for him.
Two years ago, Carter was in trouble and the whole team risked their lives for her.
I walk back to my little house on the outskirts of town. Nothing looks amiss, and I'm sure no one saw me or knows of my involvement with the excitement at the fortress. I'll just pretend like I didn't hear about anything unusual, that I was... .uh, fishing.
But as I open the door, Maya comes hurrying out of the kitchen. She's looking worried, and like she might have been crying. "Are you all right?" she asks me as she stops a few feet away from me. She looks different to me somehow.
"Sure, I'm fine." I reply. "Why, what's wrong?"
"Well, nothing I suppose." She appears relieved and tries to hide her tears from me. "There was a big fight at Lord Baal's palace this afternoon and I didn't know where you had gone. I was afraid..."
I open my arms, she comes to me shyly and we embrace. "And why would I have anything to do with that?" I'm moved to kiss her on the forehead. She looks up at me in surprise. "Baal has nothing that I want."
"Nothing." I suddenly see this woman in a new light.
"I don't understand," she says honestly.
"Let's just say I've learned a lesson today and leave it at that."
"What kind of lesson?"
I gaze down at her fondly. She's small, a little plump, but pretty in a soft gentle way. I like it. I see someone who cares enough about me to be worried. I can't remember the last time anyone looked at me like this. She honestly cared about me, if I was all right. Maybe, just maybe...I do have a chance for something better. I smile at her. "Now if he wanted you...then we'd have a problem." I chide her gently. I can tell that she doesn't get it. I've never spoken to her like this before.
I have learned one thing today. I've seen what Jack's been fighting for, something of great value. I don't know why I didn't see it before. He hasn't been fighting for pride or honor or even money. It was for something much simpler and much more complex.
It occurs to me, I have a chance for a clean start here on this boring little backwater planet. I haven't screwed up with sweet Maya yet, or with the other people I've met here. I'm still just Harry. Not Colonel Maybourne, not sneaky treacherous NID Harry.
I'm just Harry who can start over and maybe be something better. Something finer than I was before. Maybe I can be worth something to someone after all. Maybe you were right Jack, and there is something left in me worth saving. I hope so. Maya evidently thinks so, and I'd like to prove her right...because I don't want to be alone anymore.
I realized this afternoon, watching his team, that I'm missing something in my life, a connection. I want people to care for and to care about me...like Jack's team cares about him. It's been a long time since I've considered anyone else but myself. Maybe it's time. Time to settle down and practice what I've learned from my lesson with SG-1.
|Genres:||Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Hurt/Comfort, Vignette|
|Summary:||Whatever happened to Harry Maybourne after Paradise Lost, and what would he do to help a friend.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Teamwork! Some Language, some blood, some torture though not REAL graphic. Some mention of Ascension.