Trilogy 3: Blooded
Summary: Now rescued, things should get better, but they don’t.
“…just like a dream, you are not what you seem,
just like a prayer, no choice, your voice can take me there.”
“We were… in the neighborhood.”
Daniel didn’t even register the colloquialism. “What do you mean, ‘we’?” he asked.
“We,” Adriann drawled. “A few of my kin are with me.”
Daniel remembered the intercom warning and his eyes grew wide. “Was that you earlier, coming through the gate unseen?”
“That was us,” Adriann answered, tightening his arms around Daniel. “I didn’t know you were here until I heard and briefly felt your fear.” He studied Daniel’s face, especially his eyes.
“Are you okay?”
“I am now,” Daniel said with tremendous relief, but another worry intruded and he grabbed Adriann’s hand. “I’ll ask why you’re here later. Right now, we’ve got to get out of sight. I don’t know how many will be… what are you smiling at?”
“The situation is contained, Daniel. Stop worrying.”
Daniel blinked at the engaging grin and wished he didn’t feel that sexual pull and potent connection between them. “Wait, all the Jaffa, slaves, other Goa’uld?”
“There aren’t any other Goa’uld, and yes, everyone and everything is contained.”
“But there are probably hundreds of Jaffa and slaves–“
“Excuse me?” Daniel said, certain he’d misheard. “Thirty-eight? That’s impossible for a place of this size.”
Adriann couldn’t help but grin at him. “This place is not known to their enemies. Minimal staff was needed. We found only thirty-eight Jaffa and twenty or so slaves, though I did not count them. This may look like a fortress, Daniel, but their slaves were left to run it while they are gone. It is what you would call a private retreat.”
Daniel shook his head, confused. “That makes no sense. He was doing something here besides acting out his fantasies. We were brought here for…” He trailed off when Adriann suddenly stared at Daniel’s hands and scowled. “What? What’s wrong?”
Adriann wrapped his fingers around Daniel’s forearms and held them up to examine the metal wristbands. Touching the metal tightly he closed his eyes. His scowl deepened.
“They won’t come off without the control device.” Adriann didn’t answer and Daniel watched, confused and worried as the man did nothing but hold his wrists. “Adriann?”
Adriann shook his head in the briefest of movements, as if shaking off being interrupted.
“Adriann!” Daniel said more forcefully. Adriann opened his eyes, staring hard at the metal. “Are you listening to me? They won’t…” Suddenly the metal heated up painfully and Daniel hissed. Then the bands abruptly cracked and Adriann quickly pried them off.
“Your abilities have improved,” Daniel said, impressed as well as surprised, and yet instead of awe that someone else might feel, Daniel felt the pull of attraction return. Sighing, he irritably shoved it away. “You never mentioned telekinesis as part of your gifts.”
Adriann looked up and brushed Daniel’s cheek with the back of his hand. “All of our abilities have returned to full strength since we were cured.” Rubbing Daniel’s wrists, eyes going unfocused again, he suddenly scowled once more and looked down at Daniel’s feet. With a growl, he dropped to his knees. “Talen says the others were bound like this, too.” His brow furrowed as he stared at the cuffs and soon, the metal heated and cracked. Daniel held on to Adriann’s shoulders as the man lifted his feet one by one and quickly rubbed his ankles. “Once you have been settled, I shall exact revenge on those who would do this against your will.”
Daniel cringed. “Not all of it was against–” Adriann stood up and placed fingers over Daniel’s lips, silencing him.
“I do not need to read your minds to know that you did not ask for this.”
Daniel didn’t answer since it wasn’t necessary. He gave Adriann a powerless look, however, and Adriann growled again. “They will suffer and nothing you say–“
“Adriann, their suffering won’t change anything. Don’t be the bad guy–“
“Do not assume, Daniel, that I am not capable of being the so-called bad guy. You know quite well that can be.”
Memories of their first meeting flooded Daniel’s mind and he stared back into Adriann’s pale eyes. After a few long seconds of silence, he pressed Adriann’s right palm against his chest. “I know,” he said carefully, “that you are dangerous, and even more so than the first time I met you.”
“I know who you are, what you are capable of, but it is sometimes hard to remember that, given everything that’s happened between us.” Adriann gently smiled at him and Daniel felt his body respond under the scrutiny. “Let’s talk about this later. I need to see Jack, Jason, and Alex–“
“Ophius and Talen are with them now. They are fine, as I said.”
“You certainly work fast.” Daniel felt giddy with relief and laughed at the sound of the double entendre.
Adriann grinned a bit, then assumed a more sober expression. “When I said things were secure, I meant just that. We’ve taken over this complex, Daniel. Our minds against theirs was not a contest they could win.”
Daniel blinked at him, then shook his head. “Okay, let’s talk about that later, too.” He spread his arms out. “Lead the way.”
Adriann took his hand instead of simply letting Daniel follow and for a moment, Daniel thought to resist, but decided against it. He’d missed Adriann and liked the strong hand in his. As they walked through what felt like a maze of short corridors, he asked, “You said some of your kin are with you. Who, aside from Talen?”
“Ophius, Calane, Kashan, and Techan. Emeni wanted to come but she is ecstatically with child so she has decided to pamper herself and stay home, letting us bring her whatever she needs.” He gave Daniel a wink. “And I do mean whatever she needs. Ghanen is here in her place, so in all, there are seven of us here.”
Daniel gaped at him, steps slowing. “Emeni’s pregnant? But I thought you were sterilized by the disease?”
Adriann cracked a wide smile. “It appears that we have gained a miracle during our healing. We have apparently regenerated more than just our cells.”
“Apparently.” He wanted to ask who the father was, but decided that if it was Adriann, he didn’t want to know. A surge of jealousy hit him that he didn’t like in the least. Then Adriann was pulling his hand to his chest, making it difficult to walk and Daniel frowned. “What?”
Adriann’s smile was gentle, loving. “You honor me.”
“With your jealous possessiveness.”
“I’m not…” Daniel started, then looked away knowing damn well that Adriann would sense the lie. Changing tactics, he said, “Jealousy is not an honorable trait, Adriann.”
“That’s where we tend to be different, Daniel, because with me, it is honorable in the right circumstances.” He chuckled suddenly, making Daniel scowl, and stopped in the middle of the corridor, pulling Daniel against him. “It pleases me.”
“It shouldn’t,” Daniel countered, meeting his gaze.
“Perhaps,” Adriann answered, looking mischievous and naughty, “but it does even so. And to answer your unasked question, no, I am not the father.”
“I did not–“
With a chuckle, Adriann cut him off. “No, you did not, but I am telling you so you can feel at ease and not…” He chuckled again, in a teasing manner that made Daniel shove at him and step away. “And not feel guilty for your possessiveness.”
Daniel cleared his throat and started walking. “Right, well, let’s save that for later, too. Adriann, where’re we going?”
Adriann reached out and took his hand again, shaking his head at Daniel’s evasiveness. “Yes, we will talk later, but I suspect there won’t be much discussion involved.” He was rewarded with a dropped mouth and a blush that made him laugh delightedly. “We are going to Baal’s suite, where everyone has agreed to gather.”
“Yes. It is filled with a few more luxuries and is large enough to gather everyone in comfort. The main hall is too cold and too formal, meant more for intimidating guests and prisoners than for comfortable lounging.”
“What about Baal and Camulus?”
“They are with them, but unconscious.”
“Unconscious? Are they hurt?”
Adriann grinned. “No, Daniel. I’ll save that for everyone later.”
“I did not mean it that way.”
“Yes, you did, but it is okay. I won’t make you admit it.”
“God, you’re so exasperating.”
“Yes,” Adriann answered cheekily. “But that is why you love me, yes?”
“No.” At Adriann’s continued stare, expecting the affirmative answer, he made a growling sound. “Fine, yes, but only some of the time.
Looking satisfied, Adriann led the way to the suite. As they walked, Daniel kept eyeing the altered appearance of his friend. Adriann’s dark honey blond hair had grown considerably. It was no longer just past his shoulders but waist-length and gathered behind in a single, tight braid, with the top of his head covered in a black bandana. He wore a black, hooded cloak that partially covered more black clothes. Daniel caught sight of a silk shirt, maybe a vest, dull black leather trousers, and knee-length black boots. Daniel guessed that the color was probably for stealth, though Adriann did prefer the darker colors.
“You are staring,” Adriann said, amused.
“You look like a pirate,” Daniel said with a grin. “Where in the world did you get the idea for those clothes?”
Adriann grinned back cheekily. “From your mind. ‘Drink up me hearties, yo ho’.“
Daniel stopped, tightening his handclasp, astonished. “You can’t be serious! You copied your style of dress from a film you saw in my mind?”
“Why not,” Adriann answered without embarrassment and pulled Daniel forward. He winked and broke into a British accent. “I think I look better without all that additional rubbish he was wearing.”
Daniel started laughing. “Accent on the wrong character but that’s damn good.”
Adriann shrugged. “I like the accent better. Called British, yes?”
“Yes,” Daniel grinned.
“You like?” Adriann asked, opening his arms wide as they walked, bringing Daniel’s arm up with him because he’d refused to relinquish his hold.
Daniel, again, didn’t mind. “I do, but you’re missing something.”
“What?” Adriann asked, looking down at himself.
Daniel reached up with their clasped hands touched Adriann’s ear. “Earrings. Usually small gold loops.”
Adriann narrowed his eyes a little, getting the image from Daniel’s mind. “Are you sure? I didn’t see any in the film.”
Daniel snorted, shaking his head. “You weren’t paying attention then. Some of the uglier, bad pirates were wearing them.”
“Hmmm, that explains it,” he said, winking. “A long time ago, when my culture was still alive and thriving, we used to wear what you call earrings, but rarely as simple loops through the earlobe.”
Daniel lifted his brows. “Really? How did you wear them?”
“Finely crafted platinum-like chains, connected ear to ear and draped under the chin, with the chain made in such a way that it shone, like facets on jewels.”
“I’d love to see one some time. Do you still have them?”
“I have saved everything from my culture that I could, as have the others. Perhaps on your next visit, I shall wear them for you.”
“I’ll have to show you my own sometime.”
“Your own?” Adriann asked and turned Daniel round, gently cupping an earlobe. He saw the tiny slits and his eyes widened. “I know that have seen these before but… I never gave them attention.”
“Maybe because they’re common place?”
“Perhaps, but it is more likely that I was preoccupied with the rest of you.”
Daniel grinned and started walking again, pulling Adriann with him. “C’mon.”
“One more subject for later,” Adriann murmured. A few minutes passed and he said, “It is around the next corridor,” and as they turned a corner, Daniel slowed, frowning. “What is it?”
“Adriann, how’d you come down from the ceiling?”
With a mischievous wink, Adriann slid an arm around his waist and said, “Like this,” and suddenly they were floating upward, with his cape billowing about them like wings.
Daniel immediately wrapped his arms around his neck and clung to him as he tried to look around. “You’re not using tech are you?”
Daniel found Adriann grinning smugly at him and he started to scold till he felt a caressing hand between his shoulder blades.
“How is your tattoo?” Adriann asked, his smile turning seductive.
“Fine,” Daniel answered, surprised at the sudden flood of lust from Adriann’s simple touch. “Yours?”
“Just fine,” Adriann answered, eyes on Daniel’s lips as a hand moved up to cup Daniel’s head. He lowered them to the floor slowly and the moment their feet touched ground, he whispered fervently, “I cannot wait any longer,” and his mouth was on Daniel’s, tongue probing inside, kissing him passionately as he crushed his body to him. Daniel couldn’t deny himself, allowing the desire he’d bottled to spread through him as he gave Adriann his hungry response.
He matched the deep moan coming from him and slid his arms up his back to grab his shoulders. There was a wish for a bed or something soft underneath their feet, lust making his legs weak, but just as that thought came to him, so did his annoying responsible side. Daniel groaned with regret and disappointment but Adriann only kissed him harder, pushing him back against the wall. Daniel was certain that if he let this go on much longer, they wouldn’t stop at simple kissing and groping.
Pulling from the kiss, panting softly, Daniel took Adriann’s face in his hands and touched their foreheads together. “Damn it.”
Adriann sighed deeply and brushed Daniel’s cheek with his fingers. “Yet one more thing for later, yes?”
“Yes,” Daniel answered, swallowing. “Again, how’d you do that? Lifting us off the floor.”
“How do you breathe, Daniel?”
“It’s as natural to us as our mental abilities and strength.” He grinned sheepishly then. “Unfortunately, I never paid attention to the workings of our biological sciences. The simple answer is ‘I don’t know’.”
Daniel slowly smiled. “Is this yet another ability come back from the cure?”
“It is.” Taking his hand again, Adriann led him down the corridor only a few yards, stopped in front of the door and opened it. Daniel briefly noticed the other Residents but his gaze was on Jack, Jason and Alex, alive and healthy. They looked back, surprised, and without embarrassment on either side, they met halfway, reuniting with tight hugs. “We’re so fucking lucky,” Daniel said, unable to keep his hands from them, touching arm or shoulder as if making sure they were real.
“I’m with you on that one,” Jack told him, and with the same lack of embarrassment Daniel had shown, gave him a quick kiss before he turned to Adriann. “Well… look what the cat dragged in.”
Adriann smirked at him. “You can allow sentiment at this moment, Jack. It is warranted.”
Jack only grinned back like a kid who’d gotten away with something and hugged Adriann gratefully. “As I told Talen, thank you, my friend. You saved our asses. Literally.”
Adriann gave him a gentle smile. “How could I not.” He turned, finding Jason standing next to Alex and he immediately caught tension and stress from them both, but with Jason, there was barely contained anger. “Jason, are you okay?”
Jason answered with a silent nod. He’d been glad to see Calane and the others as they’d each been rescued and reunited, but seeing the body of Jalen, alive, made him want to kill him. “I’ll be fine,” he finally answered, “so long as I kill that thing on the floor.”
Adriann moved to him and tried to pull Jason into his arms but Jason stepped back, shaking his head.
“I don’t need sympathy, Adriann.”
Adriann lifted a brow. “Well, to use your words, Jason, tough shit.”
Jason sighed and started to turn away but Daniel was right there, taking his arm gently. “Jason, we’re fine now, what’s wrong?”
Jason glanced, barely, at the figures on the floor, then turned his eyes on Daniel and slowly forced himself to relax but it was difficult. He shook his head, unable to give Daniel an answer that didn’t sound… like something that would come from Jalen.
Adriann touched his arm and mentally said, I understand your feelings, then aloud said, “I am sorry for the pain this causes you. I know you want him dead but I can’t allow that. Not yet.”
“I know,” Jason sighed and rubbed his eyes. “I guess we have to take them back.”
“No, you misunderstand. I cannot allow that. They are mine,” Adriann stated flatly.
“Excuse me?” Jack asked, confused that Adriann would make such a claim. “Why? What possible use is he to you?”
“Do you think you are the only ones who have use for captured Goa’uld?”
“Do you think you’ll be able to gain any information from them without the crude means of torture?”
Jack made a face, twisting his lips to the side as he realized what Adriann was aiming at. “No.”
“I can save you the tedious torture methods and get what you need without it, and without handing them over to you.”
Jack suddenly knew this was going to be a problem. “Look, how about you come back with us and–“
“No, Jack. Baal and Camulus are not going anywhere. I have as much right and reason to claim them as you do, and since they are currently in my custody, that is where they will remain. I mean no disrespect to you, Jack, but your superiors need to be made aware that they don’t have free run of the galaxy.”
“Or our own planet,” Daniel put in.
“Okay, Daniel,” Jack said quickly to cut him off, even if he agreed with him. He took a deep breath, knowing the Pentagon and NID would slobber over themselves for access to Baal and Camulus. Adriann was right. They expected them to be turned over and used the excuse that they didn’t have the advanced weaponry and wanted that information. Jack suddenly grinned, catching puzzled looks from Daniel, Jason, and Alex, as he thought of telling the Pentagon no; they’d react like spoiled children. “This’ll be fun,” he said sarcastically. “They weren’t that thrilled with you in the first place, you know, since you didn’t have any weapons to offer.”
Daniel rolled his eyes. “That’s putting it mildly.”
“I am aware,” Adriann replied. “When I was there at your SGC, I felt that resentment in some of the people there. For that reason, I will share whatever information I learn from them and anything useful that we may find in searching this fortress. But know this, too. This will not become another outpost for the SGC. I am claiming this fortress as ours.”
“They’ll ask, Can’t you go elsewhere?” Daniel told him.
“And my answer will be, Can’t you? You have an Alpha Site, a Beta Site, a few research posts. We have our planet and have been looking for another away from the beasts that inhabit our world. We can destroy them, of course, but the Brethren refuse to let us. So, we have decided to branch out and find another place to live. I believe this will serve. There are oceans, lakes, mountains, indigenous animal life.”
“How do you know that?” Daniel asked.
“We have been scanning the minds of the slaves here.”
“We will take over this planet with no problems,” Talen told them.
“The other Goa’uld might take issue with that,” Jack warned.
“They don’t know about this place, Jack,” Daniel told him.
“How do you know that?”
“Adriann told me.”
“So… they don’t know?” Jack asked.
“Nope,” Daniel answered.
“How do you folks know that?” Jack asked. “Did you read their minds already?”
Talen snorted. “It does not take long, Jack. We knew from their surprised and worried minds after coming through the gate.” She sat down on one of the couches and propped her foot on Jalen’s body. “This one was especially easy, though I have a feeling he’ll be more guarded.”
“How’d you take them down, anyway?” Jack asked.
“I told them to go to sleep,” Adriann answered.
“What?” Jack and Daniel asked at the same time.
“You remember how easy it was for me to get all of you to do what I wished?”
Daniel frowned, hating that he’d actually forgotten. “Right. Never mind.”
“Although,” Adriann added, “Sometimes it’s more fun to toss them a great distance and make them knock themselves unconscious.”
Daniel winced, remembering. “I remember. Isn’t that a little harsh? Couldn’t you have just put them to sleep, too?”
“No,” Adriann said sharply. “Daniel, you have no idea what the Jaffa guarding just you were planning to do with you once they were given permission by their masters.” He shook his head slowly, indicating what he had heard wasn’t good. He then thumbed at Baal and Camulus lying unconscious on the floor, and turned to them, looking them over like the owner of property.
It unnerved Daniel somewhat and he cleared his throat. “So they don’t know who came through the gate?”
Adriann shook his head, a wicked smile growing. “No. It shall be fun telling them as well as the Jaffa. Don’t tell them, since I plan to reveal it myself to these two in particular.” He startled Daniel when he suddenly turned toward him, frowning.
“What?” Daniel asked, looking at the others for clarity but got none.
Adriann swiftly walked over and touched Daniel’s temple. “Stop blocking, Daniel, please? It will give you a headache if you keep–” He wasn’t able to finish the sentence when Daniel did exactly what he said he would do when he ran into Adriann again. The force of the punch sent Adriann to the floor.
“Are you insane?” Talen yelled, though she didn’t bother to rush to her brother and see if he was okay–there was no need. She knew he was. Daniel couldn’t possibly hurt him with a punch, but she didn’t take kindly to anyone hitting her brother, even if they had cause.
“Don’t be mad,” Adriann told her.
“Why did you do that?” Kashan demanded as he spun on Daniel.
“Kashan, do nothing,” Adriann warned.
“Why did he do that?” Kashan demanded.
“What, you can’t read me?” Daniel snapped back.
“Adriann asked us not to,” Kashan answered angrily.
Daniel’s anger, however, was gone–but he wasn’t sorry. “I’m sorry, but he did have it coming.” Daniel reached down and offered his hand and Adriann grabbed it and got back on his feet. “You did deserve it, you know.”
“I know,” Adriann answered, showing no anger whatsoever, and Daniel reached out and cupped his jaw apologetically.
“Still, that little display was uncalled for,” Talen said.
“Maybe,” Daniel said, starting to feel guilty.
“Don’t, Talen,” Adriann told him. “I deserved it.”
“Well, someone explain that punch to me because I’m clueless here. Why’d you hit him?” Alex asked, confused, then blushed slightly when Ophius stepped up behind him and gave him a gentle smile. “Ophius, would you stop doing that?”
“I’m only smiling at you. Can’t I smile? It has been awhile, Alex.”
“I know but still…” Alex whispered, then stopped when it was useless thing to do. The truth was, seeing Ophius had him pretty much flustered. Not even Jason could do that, and he was in love with him.
Jason smirked at Daniel, thumbing at Alex. “He’s embarrassed because Ophius gave him a great big kiss in front of me.”
“I am not,” Alex defended. “He just… oh never mind. Daniel, the punch?”
Daniel tapped his head. “My empathic ability. Adriann gave it to me after the tat ceremony only I didn’t know it till later, after we got home.” He turned his gaze on Adriann and hardened it just a bit. “A nice gift, too, Adriann, but you should have asked, or at least warned me and then taught me how to use it. Damn thing acts in bizarre ways.”
Adriann winced. “You’re right, I’m sorry. I got a little carried away.”
“A little?” Daniel asked, trying to sound angry but the feeling just wasn’t there anymore. He couldn’t stay mad. Smoothing down his robe, he looked around, wishing he had something else to wear. “Okay, Jack. We need to get home, so we need our gear and–“
“Hang on,” Jack told him and gestured at a table where all of their belongings lay. “Talen and the others found our stuff but there’s a little problem.”
Daniel went over and next to their vests and weapons, he found a burnt and melted piece of metal and plastic. The GDO.
“How do we get home then?” Daniel asked. “The Alpha site has an iris now.”
“Through the GDO you left us?” Adriann suggested. “It is at home, safe.”
“No, that’d take too long,” Jack said, picking up one of their radios and wagging it. “I’ve been thinking. These guys have the range so we can use one through the wormhole like we’ve done before. We can send the coordinates and they’ll send a MALP through to verify it’s really us. As for our clothes…” he went on, wincing a bit. “I am so not looking forward to announcing to the entire Control Room that we need clothes, but it’s gotta be done because there’s no way in hell I step foot through that gate wearing anything other than, well, not this. Sam and Teal’c know our codes to our lockers so they’ll grab us new uniforms and boots. Jason, do Kane and Anna know the codes to yours and Alex’s lockers?”
“Yeah, they know.”
“Cool.” Jack turned to say something to Daniel but he was still at the table where their gear was left, holding the burnt remains of their GDO and staring at it with wide eyes. “Daniel, what’s wrong?”
Daniel turned toward him as Jack, Jason, and Alex gathered together and took a few steps toward him. They stopped as Daniel’s expression became one of sudden, dreadful comprehension. Jack gave a slight nod, and the looks on Jason and Alex’s faces said they too already knew what Daniel had just realized.
“They weren’t going to let us go.”
“Yeah, looks that way,” Jack said gravely.
Jason’s anger, Daniel realized, wasn’t just from his burning hatred of Jalen. “The shit they said…” and Daniel’s mouth dropped open as his eyes closed. “I…” He leaned against the desk, wanting to sit down but didn’t dare. His stomach was about to turn and sitting down would only make it worse. “I feel so fucking stupid. I can’t believe I…”
Jack and Jason walked over to him but Alex stayed where he was and wrapped his arms about himself. Ophius didn’t like it and wrapped his arms around him from behind, whispering that they were okay now.
Daniel shook his head. “I know they lie at every given opportunity but… Jesus, how could I have fallen for that?”
Jason placed a hand around the back of Daniel’s neck and brought their foreheads together. “We all fell for it, and did it because we wanted to believe.”
“We knew his rep, Daniel,” Jack said, trying to console, “So he fed us what we wanted to hear.”
“No,” Daniel said, shaking his head in alarm, then stared at Adriann almost accusingly, but immediately backed off and turned back to Jack. “You don’t understand. I should have known. I hadn’t cut myself off from them at the beginning. I did not sense deception from him. I sensed the truth.” He paused, remembering when they’d met Jalen, and the deceit he’d felt. “I got one of those warning words about Jalen though.”
“What warning word?” Adriann asked.
“Beware. Just that one word. I’d had it before with someone else, when I was warned that we were in danger.” Adriann gave him a quizzical look and Daniel waved it off. “I’ll tell you later, Adriann. Point is, I thought the warning was because Jalen was more dangerous than Baal. That he planned to do that ‘when the cat’s away’ thing. I didn’t get anything from Baal. Nothing. Which means that maybe he did plan to let us go at the beginning but…”
“But they were having so much fun that he decided to keep us,” Alex said with disgust. “I think Jalen convinced him to.”
Daniel shielded his eyes, blew out a breath, then bent over, hands on knees, and took several deep breaths. “If you hadn’t shown up here, Adriann,” he began but didn’t finish.
“We did and it is what you would call fate, Daniel,” Adriann told him as he came over and pulled Daniel up to look into his intense grey eyes. “We were meant to be here. If you overthink this, it will drive you mad. Please cease.”
Daniel knew he was right so he nodded and took a long breath, then blew it out.
“Daniel, I think they also probably had another reason for bringing us here,” Jason said, “and we’ll find out what once they wake the fuck up.”
“Yeah, well, I’d rather give ’em a swift kick,” Daniel mumbled, more to himself, staring at the bodies on the floor. He turned away and went back to the table, his concentration on his vest as he went through it. He found his glasses in a pocket and breathed a sigh of relief. He didn’t put them on, choosing to keep them safely where they were, but he was glad to know they hadn’t gone the way of the GDO.
Suddenly Adriann was standing next to him. “If you’d only let me heal your eyes, you wouldn’t ever need these again.”
Daniel snorted, then made a fist when he realized his hand was shaking. He looked at Adriann, then turned to him. “How about the next time I’m on your planet, I’ll let you give it a try. I know those herbs of yours do wonders but I’m a little skeptical.”
“That shall be one other time I prove you wrong,” Adriann grinned.
Daniel smiled with remembrance and stared at him, finding that it still astonished him that Adriann was near his own height–he was so much larger than life that it felt somewhat unfair that he wasn’t unusually tall. “We’ll see,” he said lightly, then looked around the room at the other Residents. “Talen, Kashan, Ophius… if it wasn’t for you guys, we’d be in such deep shit. So thank you.”
“There is no need, but you are welcome,” Talen said before Adriann could. “We’re friends. Allies, if you will. You saved our lives. Seems only fitting we help save yours.”
“Amen,” Jack answered.
“Fate,” Adriann added, “as I mentioned, had a purpose. It works, as you might say, in mysterious ways.”
Daniel grinned. “Yes, it does.”
Talen shoved her foot into Jalen’s side, rocking his body. “You may not have known what your fate would have been, but I got a pretty good idea when I read this one’s surface thoughts before I put him to sleep. He has very warped ideas about sexual intimacy.”
“Tell me about it,” Alex replied.
She turned to him, eyes widening slightly, then got up and approached him. She reached out and brushed her fingers through his hair and Alex was painfully reminded of something his older sister used to do a long time ago. “I do not mean to violate your thoughts,” and she looked around at the other, “nor yours. Our abilities are very strong now and we can’t completely block you even if we can ‘turn down’ the noise.” She turned back to Alex. “The pictures you broadcasted about this Jalen were, and are, quite clear. What you are remembering, what he did to you, was… only the beginning of his plan. I am very glad we happened upon you when we did.”
Alex felt a bit of dread and didn’t dare put his imagination to work. He had a feeling he’d be nauseated. “How bad?” he asked, and asked because he had to know.
“You sure you want to know?” Jack asked. “I’m not so sure I would.”
“I don’t want to know the details. I just want to be sure I understand just how badly we were fucked, pardon the expression.”
“To what end?” Jason asked, but he agreed with Alex. He wanted to know.
“I need to know. Don’t ask me why because I can’t explain,” Alex answered.
Jack winced, yet like Jason, he was beginning to agree. “Daniel, what about you?”
“I don’t care one way or the other,” he answered and it was the truth. What he really wanted to do and didn’t dare say out loud was that he simply wanted to put a gun to Baal’s head and pull the trigger. The thought sickened him but he didn’t want Baal to injure anyone else. The longer he was alive, the more chance there would be.
“It would have been painful,” Adriann answered… very slowly. They saw that he was staring at Baal’s unconscious form. “They had no intention of leaving anyone but Daniel alive. I cannot see why but I’ll know after he wakes.”
Daniel’s eyes went wide again, then he threw his hands up in exasperation. “Great. The ‘go to’ guy once again. Do I have a bullseye on my back I’m not aware of?”
Jack put an arm around his shoulders and kissed Daniel on the side of the head. “It only seems that way because we’re always out here putting ourselves on the line. Since you would never take a desk job…”
“We live with it,” Daniel sighed. “I know. Still sucks.”
“I know. So…” Jack began, ready to change the subject as well as his clothes. “Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?” He walked to a chiffonier just as Calane, Techan and Ghanen walked in.
Adriann turned to them. “How are things progressing?”
They nodded. “They are not going anywhere.”
“Neatly confined, too,” Kashan added.
“Including those two guards in the hall,” Ghanen said. “We put them with the others.”
Adriann grinned at them, pleased. “Well done.”
“Great,” Jack said, looking in the chiffonier. “Snake clothes.”
“What’d you expect?” Daniel smirked.
“Jeans and tie-dyed t-shirts would’ve been fun,” Jack shot over his shoulder, lightening the mood a little. “Ah well. We’ll suffer. We have to call home, get this started.” He began to hand out frock coats from both sides of the tall dresser, and tossed Jason one that looked like Jalen’s size. Jason started to refuse and Jack asked, “If you want to parade around in that robe till we get new uniforms, then by all means.” Grumbling, Jason put on the clothes.
Once clothed, though they were barefoot, the men started to feel a bit better. “There,” Jack said, smoothing down the brocade over the buttoned front. “At least my ass isn’t hanging out.”
“I would have noticed if it had been,” Adriann told him.
Daniel half-hid a smile at Jack’s brief embarrassment and turned to grab his sidearm and radio. “Let’s go. They’re probably worried sick.”
“Oh yeah, that’s a given,” Jack replied, grabbing his P90 and leaving the room.
The others followed, but Adriann had to take the lead in order to lead them out of the fortress. As they walked, they encountered no one, and the guys found it a bit spooky to be walking calmly out of a Goa’uld fortress. They were so used to running like hell.
They crossed a short field to the left of the fortress where the stargate was stationed and reaching the DHD first, Daniel punched the glyphs to dial home.
“We will find out what this Baal has been up to,” Adriann said to Jack as they stopped behind Daniel. “Jason is right. They brought you here for something other than a few sexual games.”
The wormhole engaged and Jack pressed down the call button and sent, “SGC, this is SG-1, come in, over.” Static came back and he repeated his call. This time, there was an answer. It sounded like Sergeant Davis.
“SG-1, this is the SGC. We read you. Can you authenticate? Over.”
“Negative, our GDO has been destroyed,” Jack answered. “But from the computer diagnostics that Carter installed, you should be able to read the coordinates from the incoming wormhole. Is this the case? Over.”
“Affirmative, Colonel,” came Sam’s voice, then Hammond asked, “What’s happened, Colonel? Are you okay? Over.”
“We were kidnapped by Baal, sir, and we were in some trouble for a while, but we’ve gotten out of it with a lot of help from our old friend, Adriann. Over.”
“Adriann? queried Hammond’s voice, but as usual, the General dismissed it soon after to get to the point.
“Yes, sir. Over.”
“And you’re sure you’re alright? Over.”
Jack glanced at Adriann and rolled his eyes. Even Hammond was skeptical of the Residents. “Yes, sir, we’re fine. As I stated, we lost our GDO, but we have weapons and field vests. When you send the MALP through, however… you’ll find we’re not in uniform. Baal and his cronies had us stripped during our interrogation, over.”
As Jack expected, there was a little bit of a time lag before the question came. “Were you able to secure any clothes, over?”
“Yes, sir. We’ve borrowed some of theirs. Over.”
“Copy that, SG-1. To authenticate further, a MALP will be on its way shortly after we disengage. Hammond out.”
A few seconds passed and the gate shut down.
“Well, now we wait,” Jack said, then looked at Adriann. “Do you need to go home and bring back more folks?”
“Is there time?” Adriann asked.
Jack nodded. “It’ll be half an hour before the MALP is brought down and our clothes are fetched, so yeah, you’ve got time to call home, but I can’t guarantee you’ll get a lock coming back, going at cross purposes here. But try again. I imagine the gate’ll be busy on and off for a while.”
Adriann nodded, then tilted his head and made it obvious that he was talking to one of the others.
Jack frowned at him when Adriann gave him attention once more. “What?”
Adriann knew this might become difficult but he didn’t care. He folded his arms and lifted his chin regally, giving Jack a possessive look. “I asked one of the others to go. I’m not leaving this world while those Goa’uld are still on it.”
“That for us or is there some other interest you have?” Jack asked, only slightly on guard.
Adriann smiled and Jack felt the alarms disappear as the vampire’s body language became more comforting. “I don’t mean to be mysterious, Jack. Or make you suspicious of me. It’s personal, my staying. I haven’t been shielding myself from any of you so I know what he and the other one did.”
Jack cleared his throat uncomfortably. “Oh.”
“Trust me, please. I am not a threat to you.”
“I know that!” Jack said with annoyance.
“What I am is protective of what I consider mine.” Jack bristled a little bit and Adriann touched his arm. “Yes, of you, but I was referring to the Goa’uld. I plan to make him answer for what he’s done and you know I’m the only one who can.”
Jack sent Daniel, Jason, and Alex an understanding smile. “A man after my own heart.”
A few minutes later, Techan appeared from the structure and headed toward them. Adriann began dialing before he got there, but instead of using telepathy, he spoke aloud in front of their human friends. “Bring whoever wishes to come, but remember, no loss of life. We’re here to stake claim, not kill the Jaffa. We can leave them to Teal’c.”
After Techan went through and the wormhole disengaged, Daniel touched Adriann’s arm. “You really want this place?”
Adriann nodded. “We have been making temporary homes during some of our travels but none have suited as this place does. We do not need all of the space so if your people would not mind sharing with us, we would be willing. It is large, well-insulated, and off the known coordinates of the more powerful Goa’uld.”
“Hey, speaking of that,” Jack said. “If it’s off the map, how’d you find this planet in the first place?”
“From the mind of one of Baal’s lesser lords, of course,” Adriann replied cheekily.
Jason snorted and the others shook their heads. “Can you teach us that trick?” Jack asked sarcastically and when Adriann opened his mouth to answer, Jack raised a hand to forestall him. “Just kidding. Daniel’s had a hell of a time with the empathy thing. I don’t really need to accidentally find out who’s schtooping whom.”
Daniel barked out a noise of surprise while Jason and Alex sniggered. Adriann knotted his brow however, not familiar with the term and he wasn’t about to read Jack’s mind to find out what it meant.
“He means fucking, Adriann,” Daniel told him and backhanded Jack in the arm. “Nice, Jack,” he said, meaning the opposite.
“Sorry, but going by the problems you’ve had, you know damn well that’d be one of the drawbacks.”
Daniel cringed. “Yeah, you’re right about that.”
The gate began to dial in at that moment but it didn’t keep Adriann from answering the initial comment. “I could not give you the power, Jack, even if I wanted to. Empathy and two-way telepathy is the biggest gift we’re able to give, nothing more.”
Jack shrugged, not sure if he should be disappointed or not, but a second later, decided he wasn’t. He didn’t want the headaches that came with the job. He had enough, thank you very much. Watching the wormhole engage, the MALP came through and once its camera was activated, stopped dead on Jack, just as he expected.
“SG-1, this is Hammond. Do you read us?”
“Loud and clear, General?” Jack answered, feeling a little awkward now that he was seen in the black frock coat. He could just imagine the smirk on Hammond’s face. He expected questions but didn’t expect what Hammond asked first.
“Colonel, what’re you wearing?”
Jack sighed and looked down at himself, arms out for presentation. “Just one of Baal’s hand-me-downs.” Then changing the subject quickly, he raised his arms higher and waved in either direction. The camera panned around as he spoke. “As you can see, sir. We’re not in any danger, except for being fashion victims.”
“I don’t know,” Daniel murmured to Jason. “I kinda like this thing.”
“You can’t be serious,” Alex whispered in reply.
Jack shot them a warning, then gestured for Adriann to stand next to him as the camera faced him again. “Here he is, sir. The guy we owe big. Him and his family.”
Adriann smiled into the camera. “Greetings, General Hammond, it has been a while.”
“Indeed it has, sir. Indeed it has. I’d love to have the report from my people but for right now, I extend my heartfelt thanks.”
“You are welcome, General, but it is the least I could do. We were lucky to have crossed paths. We had no idea they were here when we arrived.”
“And your arrival could not have been more fortuitous. Colonel, I’m sending Major Carter and Teal’c through…” and a second later, they appeared. “I’d like you, Doctor Jackson, Colonel Coburn, and Major Wagner back here for a debriefing. Then you may return to the planet to secure it.”
“Yes, sir,” Jack replied as he greeted a very happy Sam and Teal’c with handshakes and hugs, then took the clothing they’d procured.
“Where’s Kane and Anna?” Jason asked.
“General Hammond thought it wiser to send only two of us at first,” Sam answered.
Jason understood the reasoning. “Right, well, hope they’re not going stir crazy.”
“Do you have the Goa’uld with you?” Hammond asked, interrupting.
“In the building, sir,” Jack answered.
“Then we’ll bring them back under guard.”
Adriann interrupted quickly. “No, that won’t be possible. I am sorry if this will cause you trouble, General, but I cannot allow that.”
“Why is that, sir?”
“Because I am claiming them.”
“Please explain, Adriann?” Hammond asked and Jack could sense the tension.
Adriann glanced at Jack and sighed at having to explain this again. “My apologies, General, but in your words, the ‘short version’ is that the Goa’uld you capture are yours by that simple fact, nothing more. We captured Baal and Camulus and do not plan to let them go.”
“Yes, and I understand that,” Hammond allowed. “I realize that we tend to be proprietary where the Goa’uld are concerned, but we are at war.”
“No offense, General, but everyone is at war with the Goa’uld because they wish it so. They are not a peaceful race.”
Hammond paused, then said, “Agreed. Perhaps we could discuss a mutually beneficial arrangement. Sharing this opportunity.”
“Agreed, sir. I would appreciate having people I know and trust with me during interrogation. Jack and Daniel, for example. Because your people know the Goa’uld far better than I and know what to expect, they could help me gain access to their minds and know what to look for. While it is a simple thing to access surface thoughts, it does take time to explore the deeper recesses of the mind.”
There was a pause and Adriann asked, “General?”
“Forgive the delay, Adriann. I momentarily forgot that your race is telepathic.”
Adriann smirked at the camera. “Our vampire nature, yes?”
“In a manner of speaking,” Hammond replied. “I would be honored if you would accompany our folks back to the SGC so we may discuss the nature of the information we’d like to gain as well as figure out how you can transmit it back to us.”
Adriann considered it, then sent a message to Talen. He grinned at her unheard sarcastic reply, then nodded at the camera. “I would also be honored.”
“Great,” Jack interjected. “That settled, sir, we’ll be back home shortly.”
“Very good. SGC out.”
The wormhole disengaged and Adriann took that moment to greet Sam and Teal’c formally, bowing. “It’s a pleasure to see you once again.”
“Always,” Sam said, coming forward to give him a hug. “How are you?”
“I am well, thanks to you.”
“Thanks to Janet and her team,” Sam corrected.
“Agreed. Do you think she might visit us here? I know that Kashan would be pleased to see her again.”
“I’ll ask,” Sam said, grinning. “I think she’d like to see him, too. How is he, and the others?”
“They are very well,” Adriann answered, then turned to Teal’c. “You are well? We know of a place to acquire symbiotes if you need another.”
“I am well, thank you, Adriann,” Teal’c answered. “The SGC acquired a nest of infant Goa’uld a few years ago, but a source for larva would be welcome to all Free Jaffa, not just for myself.”
“I’ll give you the coordinates or we can acquire them for you, if you prefer.”
“Rebel Jaffa would enjoy the opportunity to acquire the symbiotes themselves. We can discuss this with the others later on after the interrogations and explorations are concluded.”
“Anytime, but it won’t be necessary,” Adriann answered, then suddenly touched Teal’c’s forehead with two fingers and pulled back two seconds later. “Do you have the information?” he asked.
Teal’c’s brow line shot up and his eyes widened. “I do indeed.” He bowed. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Adriann beamed, feeling enormously pleased that he could be of assistance.
“Well, now that that’s out of the way,” Jack said, grinning at Sam as he held up his uniform. “Carter, I’m stripping where I am. I know you’ve seen it before but if you don’t mind, these came without underwear.”
She smirked. “We were in a hurry, sir, so my apologies. Plus, your laundry duffel was full so I didn’t have much to choose from.”
“Well, Kane seemed to be on the same wavelength as you, Sam,” Jason said, having found no underwear either. “But, I’m glad for the clothes. We’ll get the shorts when we get home. So, thanks.”
“You’re welcome, sir,” she answered, then hesitated. “It wasn’t Kane who grabbed your clothes. I haven’t seen him or Anna since you were taken.”
“Great,” Jason frowned with worry as he set down his clothes and started to unbutton his frock coat. “I hope he hasn’t relapsed. One more problem to handle.”
Sam turned respectfully away to study the side panel of the MALP. “I’m glad you’re all okay,” she went on. “You all had us worried, getting snatched like that.”
“Agreed,” Teal’c said as he moved over next to Sam, but faced the men. “If I may ask. The four of you appear to be in relatively healthy states. May I assume that Baal did not avail himself of the usual means of torture to acquire his information?”
His question and comments were met with silence.
“Did I say something wrong?” Teal’c asked, becoming worried that had. He and Sam exchanged glances just as Jack answered him.
“Hit the nail on the head there, Teal’c,” Jack answered as he buckled his belt. Seeing that the others had their pants on, he quickly added, “We’re decent, Carter. You can turn around now.”
“Well, decent enough, anyway,” Daniel quipped, giving her a smile as she turned and both she and Teal’c stepped around the MALP.
“Would you care to explain?” Teal’c asked.
Jack sighed. “Not really, but I will say this,” and he looked at Daniel, Jason, and Alex. “I think we need to get some things ironed out as to what goes into our reports and what doesn’t. We can’t report the whole truth and we all know why.”
Sam and Teal’c’s eyes widened. “What do you mean?” she started to ask, her voice trailing off. Then boldly asked, “Do you mean that he…”
Jack sighed heavily, then recited as if reading from a sheet of paper. “We were tortured by mind-probing machines and electrical current. We didn’t break, we didn’t talk. They kept getting called away on other business so we were lucky that we were left alone as long as we were until Adriann showed up.”
“What really happened, sir?” she asked carefully. “Or do I need to keep ignorant, because if that’s the case, I’m not comfortable with that. I back my leader one-hundred percent.”
Jack and Daniel exchanged looks, then with Jason and Alex. Daniel got a final nod from Jack, meaning he was the one to say it, not Jack. “Sam, Baal and Camulus fed us sex drugs. When we weren’t fucking each other, he was fucking us.”
“Camulus, or rather his host, Jalen,” Alex inserted, “almost… got to me… but Adriann and his clan arrived like the proverbial cavalry and interrupted him.”
Sam’s cheeks grew red with both horror and embarrassment. “You mean you… and with each other and… Oh my god.”
Daniel grabbed her shoulder. “Not exactly of our own free will, Sam. We were under the influence of some damn drug they kept injecting us with. We couldn’t stop it. I’m grateful you weren’t here. Trust me, it would have been horribly embarrassing to look at us later. We’re… different. But with you?”
Sam stared at him in alarm. “Shit.”
“Teal’c, if you had been here,” Daniel went on, “I don’t think your symbiote would have protected you. I think you would have been abused like the rest of us.” He didn’t bother to add that, at the time, it didn’t seem like abuse. Not till that last bit.
Jack placed a hand on Sam’s other shoulder, squeezing slightly before letting go. “The only reason I mentioned it at all, Carter, is because Baal and Camulus might decide to get… creative… in their version of events. Considering they like to brag or set people off-balance, it’s a fair assumption they’ll say something in front of you.”
“Then perhaps I’ll just avoid them. I can only imagine what they would say to make you look bad.”
“That’s not the half of it, Carter. You should see who we’ve got bound up next to Baal.”
“Adriann mentioned Camulus.”
Jack paused, getting both hers and Teal’c’s close attention for the zinger. “He’s Baal’s Loh’tar, Carter. And, it seems, he’s also a Tok’ra.”
“What?” she yelled.
“Well, a Tok’ra from another reality,” Daniel said.
“From…” Sam began, then narrowed her eyes, staring at Jack, then Daniel, Jason, and Alex. “You’re pulling my leg.”
“No one could make this shit up, Carter.”
She frowned deeply. “This makes no sense. Camulus was a Goa’uld.”
“Was being the operative word, Carter,” Jack told her, “but who knows if he was really a Tok’ra spy. Hell, I don’t even know if they were telling the truth about the Tok’ra bit but they didn’t seem inclined to lie about that part, as if it made us uneasy to see a Tok’ra cohabiting with a Goa’uld.”
“Enslaved, you mean,” she said.
“No, he means cohabiting, Sam,” Daniel told her. “Jalen, and Camulus, are here of their own free will, though we don’t know how but we can pretty much determine the time frame whenever our Camulus died. There’s one more thing.”
“One more thing?” she asked, she and Teal’c quickly exchanging looks.
“We said he’s from an alternate reality, but the thing is, Camulus’ host, Jalen, is related to Jason.”
“What?” she asked, looking at Jason who refused to answer. She frowned. “How?”
Her eyes widened. “Holy… oh my god.” She closed her eyes, instantly putting herself in Jason’s shoes and didn’t like the fit one damn bit.
“I know you don’t have all of Jolinar’s memories,” Jack went on, “so you probably don’t know, but Jacob would. I think he might wanna be here to talk to Camulus, if for no other reason than to actually see the guy.”
“Agreed, sir,” she answered, eyes round and on Jason. “How’re you handling this?”
Jason grimaced, curling his lips in a sneer of disgust. “I’m having trouble not slitting his throat, Sam. He’s bad news.”
“He can’t be Tok’ra, if he’s like Baal. He must be lying.”
“He’s not,” Jason answered. “He likes that he was Tok’ra. I don’t know why he turned. It sickens me to think what’s happened in that world to make him like that, but from what I can tell, there’s no redeeming him.”
“That we can see, Jason,” Daniel added, gently, as he looked up from lacing up his boots. “If Jacob can find a way to heal his mind, maybe they can bring him back.”
Adriann suddenly shook his head. “I’m afraid I have to go with Talen’s thoughts on this one. What she saw, and shared with me, in Jalen’s mind, was of someone who isn’t tormented. At least, not anymore. If he was anything else, he’s suppressed it or killed it.” He took the few steps to Jason and touched his shoulder. “I know this troubles you and I understand why. We don’t like to see family destroyed by their own hand.”
Memories of the first time they’d met the Residents resurfaced and Jason touched Adriann’s hand on his shoulder in a thank you. He looked at Sam and shook his head with regret. “Jacob can interrogate him, but Tok’ra though he claims to be, he’s every bit as twisted as a Goa’uld.”
She shook her head, unable to conceive of an “evil twin” scenario involving anyone she knew. Teal’c, in other universes, was understandable, but the others? It was hard to imagine and she wasn’t so sure she wanted to meet this Jalen.
“Okay, putting all that aside, do you guys agree with my assessment of our situation here?” Jack asked and received three nods. “Okay, so, adding to that. They gave us drugs and played with our minds because it’s not a lie. We could say that the electrical torture was like ECT so it left no outward sign. They also showed us holographic projections, but we could add that they were images created of our friends being tortured so that we’d give up the information.”
That sounded reasonable to the others so they ironed out the details, with a few suggestions from Sam and Teal’c on any loopholes they found. Ready, Jack redialed Earth and as soon as the signal was sent, the four men plus Adriann stepped through the gate, leaving Teal’c and Sam behind as SGC representatives. After the wormhole disengaged, Sam and Teal’c left for the fortress.
“I think I’ll have a look around, Teal’c. I’m not up to meeting our captors-turned-captives.”
“Very well, but one of the Residents should accompany you.”
“That would be me,” Talen called, greeting them as she stood in the massive doorway of the entrance. Sam exchanged hugs but Teal’c gave her his customary bow, then clasped her arm in greeting.
“Thanks, Talen, I could use a tour,” Sam said as she looked up and around the exterior, having a closer look at the architecture. “Daniel probably didn’t have time to notice but this design is kinda Hindu in design. Reminds me of Buddhist temples the way the top of the entrance here is arched with a pointed apex.”
Teal’c agreed. “Though the rest of the fortress seems ordinary to me, it has an older feel about it. Much older than that of the Goa’uld residing here.”
Sam stepped back and looked again, realizing that fortress was a sort of reddish brown color… then it hit her. It reminded her of Kheb, though the fortress was hardly a temple design. It had three levels above ground and all were squared, but with windows shaped like the door. “It has the feel of Kheb without the Asian design, doesn’t it, Teal’c?”
“It does. And referring to Kheb, would that not make this place part of the Ancients’ domain?”
“Maybe,” she nodded. “The Goa’uld sometimes occupy old cities they didn’t have built under slave labor and Baal is known to have hoarded Ancient technology before.”
“Perhaps that is how he has acquired some of his technology not previously known by the Goa’uld.”
Sam snapped her fingers at him. “Yes, that’s right, and I’ll just bet that’s why Daniel was brought here. If this place used to belong to the Ancients, then maybe Baal needed a translation. Daniel’s the only one who’s figured out most of the Ancients’ language.”
Teal’c nodded in agreement, then gestured inside. “I will see to the Jaffa and have a look at the prisoners while you explore what the Residents have found.”
“Deal, ’cause I’m really not up to meeting them.”
Upon coming home, Hammond granted his men forty-five minutes to clean up and change properly. During that time, he sat down with Adriann to discuss pleasantries and other trivial matters until Jack and the others returned, but he did have one issue to iron out and he couldn’t wait for his 2IC. The matter of the Goa’uld and Baal’s fortress.
It wasn’t an issue of trust but Adriann’s sudden statement of possession had Hammond worried. He trusted Adriann as much as he could but the nature of the man unnerved him. He kept reminding himself that Jack trusted Adriann, and his 2IC’s opinion was important. Since Hammond trusted Jack implicitly, he had to keep an open mind.
Hammond checked his watch as he sat at his customary place at the briefing table and Adriann sat to his left. “Colonel O’Neill and the others should be here before too long, but I wish to discuss one other matter.”
Adriann took a deep breath and nodded. “You want to know why I have claimed ownership of the prisoners and the fortress.”
Hammond took a deep breath as well. “It would be nice if you didn’t read my thoughts, Adriann.”
“I was not,” Adriann answered. “It is being broadcast by your mind. You must understand that it is difficult to ignore now that my abilities are at full strength. I heard your concerns without any effort.”
“Understood,” Hammond nodded, then asked, “So, would you like to explain to me the reason for your ownership?”
Adriann folded his hands on the table, coincidentally copying Hammond, and took a readying breath. “Despite your saving our lives, I do not believe in placing ourselves in a position of subservience.”
Surprised, Hammond said, “I hadn’t intended that to be the case.”
“Nevertheless, it is not our way to humble ourselves out of gratitude. There is a saying from Earth I’ve learned from Daniel.”
“What is that?”
“That gratitude is a tunic that will chafe and itch when worn too long.” Hammond grinned knowingly. “We look forward to doing something in return for saving our lives, but not to the extent that we live our lives according to your rule.”
“I’ve never suggested that you do,” Hammond said, confused.
“Yet,” Adriann went on, “your SGC, your superiors, seem to believe that because you are under threat from the Goa’uld, everything Goa’uld that you come across during your travels therefore belongs you.”
Hammond looked a bit embarrassed. “Yes, we’re forced to take measures to protect ourselves.”
“I understand that, but your superiors need to understand that not everything resulting from the spoils of war rightfully belongs to you simply because your people were there. We went to that world to explore, and what we found was trouble. We promptly rescued your people and took the others hostage. They are under our authority now, not yours.”
“Mind if I ask what your purpose on Baal’s planet is?”
“No offense, General, but how would you feel if I asked you what your purpose was on the planet where Jack and the others were kidnapped?”
Hammond sighed. “I’d be defensive.”
“Then we understand each other. However, I will answer because I am not hiding anything nor feel the need. We have three needs that force us on our travels. One, blood. Two, an alternate place to live. Three, to help eliminate the threat of the Goa’uld. I believe we have found all three things on Baal’s planet. I intend to share what we find with you since we are not interested in much of the technology we find.”
“I see,” Hammond replied slowly, thinking over Adriann’s statement.
“I already know your superiors will have a problem with this, General. If we are no longer considered allies because of this, then I must apologize, but–“
“Let’s not rush to conclusions that are not yet fact, Adriann,” Hammond said quickly.
“Their foremost reason for wanting the Goa’uld is to extract information from them, yes?”
“That is the only reason, Adriann.”
“We do not need to resort to torture, sir.”
Hammond was again reminded of their telepathy and he smiled. “I see.” Then more hopefully, he asked, “Then would you be willing to share the information?”
Adriann returned the smile. “The information we would get from them would be of more value to you than us. We can gain information on the System Lords, tactical and strategic information, technical information. Be advised that not all Goa’uld have knowledge of the gate system or advanced weaponry.”
“Baal is, however, known to have interests in gate technology.”
“Jack, Daniel, Jason, and Alex are aware of this?” Adriann asked, hoping for confirmation.
“That is the sort of information we would need, General. As I said, the mind is very complex. As for the planet, whatever we find there, if it is of no use to us, I would be willing to hand over. We are not interested in most technology, General, especially weapons, so that would be yours.”
“While you were rescuing my people, did your people uncover anything?”
“We have made what you would call a preliminary sweep, General, both of mind and of physical location. There is something there that Baal is protecting. Something from a race known as the Ancients. We will, with your people assisting, find out what that is. It could be nothing, but I do feel it was why your people were taken. Daniel reads the Ancients’ language, yes?”
“Yes,” Hammond replied. “But others are learning. We met an Ancient, in the flesh, several months ago. That person could be of help here.”
Adriann’s eyes widened. “Then yes, we could use his or her help very much after I get the information from Baal.”
At that moment, Jack, Daniel, Jason and Alex stepped through the doors and sat down. As usual, Jack and Daniel sat to Hammond’s right and Jason and Alex sat next to Adriann.
“Adriann has briefed me on his intentions and how they can be of assistance with the Goa’uld.”
“Okay,” Jack replied, looking between Hammond and Adriann. “And?”
“And he’s stated that there might be devices on the planet belonging to the Ancients.”
“What?” Daniel asked, looking at Adriann. “You never said before.”
“Sorry, Daniel, but it wasn’t important before. The General believes it is and while he didn’t say so, I had a feeling it was, so I offered the information.”
Hammond grew annoyed at the statement and sighed. “I wish you wouldn’t read my thoughts.”
Adriann sighed with exasperation. “General, I can no more help being what and who I am than you can. If you would rather keep future communication between stargates, then by all means, let us do so.” He got up and went to the window overlooking the gateroom.
Hammond looked at Jack and sighed. Approaching Adriann, he used his best conciliatory tone. “I did not mean to offend. Your abilities are, quite honestly, impossible to believe and that’s due to a lack of understanding. Please, accept my apology and let’s move on.”
Adriann turned to him and nodded, feeling the sincerity but wishing it hadn’t been necessary. He felt the same general feeling from the SFs at the door and down the hall and distant minds who knew he was visiting. The thoughts he touched weren’t good and it saddened him. He thought he’d made some progress. He hadn’t. Despite what else went on during the meeting, Adriann made a promise to himself: He had no intention of ever returning to the SGC.
Hammond gestured to their seats and they sat back down. “SG-1, SG-2, I want you back on that planet, discovering what’s there and what could be of use. Doctor Jackson, if you need help in reading any Ancient or in determining the use of anything having belonged to them, you know who to contact.”
Daniel nodded. “Yes, sir, providing he’ll want to travel offworld and help us.”
“Who?” Adriann asked.
“Tell you later,” Daniel interjected quickly.
“Yet one more thing for later,” Adriann murmured quickly, and was glad to note Daniel’s slight discomfort. That’ll teach him, he thought. Adriann knew he could get the information easily but he’d made a promise a long time ago not to directly tap into their minds… well, unless he had to. This really didn’t call for that. Still, it was also fun to see Daniel squirm.
“There’s one more piece of business we need to get out of the way before the debrief. Colonel Coburn, I’m sorry to inform you but you’ll be short two team members during the mission.”
“What?… sir?” Jason asked, alarmed, and immediately wondered if this were why he hadn’t seen Kane or Anna during their brief return. “But… I’ve only been gone one day!”
“I know, Colonel, but you know the cliché. Sometimes things happen when you least expect them.”
“God, I guess,” Jason replied, wiping his hand over his face. “So where’re they going?”
“Lieutenant Tolenev’s research assignment has finally opened up.”
Jason sighed, grateful that she’d be given the chance but a little sad that she’d be leaving. She hadn’t been with the team that long and he hoped she’d be around longer. Kane, on the other hand, wasn’t working out as well as Jason had hoped. In fact, Jason had seriously overestimated the man’s ability to heal from his Post-Traumatic Stress. He had a feeling what had happened with Riley.
“Anna will be thrilled. Does she know?”
“Yes, she does. I’ve informed her. You may have the chance to say goodbye at a later time because I’ve already sent her off-world with SG-18.”
“Yes, sir,” Jason’s nodded, jaw tightening as he felt as if an end run had just been made around him, taking his teammates and assigning new ones. Considering his new rank, it was highly out of order. Still, Hammond had his reasons, Jason knew, and he tried to use that as an excuse not to get pissed. In front of the man, anyway. “Riley resign, sir?”
Hammond sighed. “Yes. I know you haven’t had a chance to get to your office. There’ll be a copy of his letter of resignation on your desk.”
“He’s discussed his options with the base psychologist and feels he can best serve the military in some other capacity, but I’m afraid that his assignment as a member of a team was a bit premature.”
Jason cringed. “I was hoping not, sir.” He couldn’t help but feel horrible that he’d fucked up, or that this little decision would go on his record.
“I know you want those under your command to be healthy, mentally and physically, but sometimes war takes its toll. I’ve had my share, Colonel.”
“Me, too,” Jack added.
“I know that, sirs.”
Hammond let the matter drop and skipped to the better part of the news. “Your replacements will be joining you after you’ve finished the mission on Baal’s planet. I would be assigning them to you now but they need time to settle in first so you’ll have them next week. I think six days is enough time before jumping back into it.”
“Back, sir?” Jason asked, wondering if he’d get some boring guys. He hated breaking in new men.
“Yes. I believe you know them as well. But let’s save that for when you return.”
Jason frowned at his boss. “Yes, sir.”
Hammond grinned. “You won’t regret it, I assure you. Now… let’s get down to business, shall we? I want the short versions of what happened on that planet, then the full versions in a written report to be on my desk as soon as possible after the mission. If you feel there is more pertinent information that I need to know now, then let’s have it with the summary version.”
“There’s nothing pertinent yet, sir,” Jack answered, considering that there really wasn’t anything they could or would tell and the interrogations hadn’t started yet.
“Very well. Then let’s hear about what’s happened…”
. . .
At the end of the meeting, Adriann was more certain of his decision, but the bright spot walked in the door the moment Hammond stood up and dismissed the meeting. Janet. Adriann smiled. “Janet, it’s nice to see you,” and he moved over swiftly and picked her up, kissing her soundly on the mouth. She blushed with embarrassment due to where she was and he grinned even more widely as he set her down, then bent over and whispered in her ear, “That’s from Kashan.”
She cleared her throat. “It’s good to see you, too. We haven’t heard from you in months and I was wondering how all of you were doing?”
“We are back to our normal selves, Janet. If you get a chance, come visit us. We would be happy to have you… visit, that is.”
She smiled graciously then looked a little hopeful as she asked, “Is there any chance I could convince you to come up to the infirmary so I could take some samples?”
He sighed, hating to disappoint her, and glanced at the guys, then Hammond, then very specifically at the SF by the door–the SF who was facing the room, back to the door. Not standard operating procedure. Adriann stared at the SF until the man caught his eye and stared back, eyes widening in alarm at the scrutiny. Then Adriann purposely said, to Janet but looking at the guard, “No, regretfully, Janet, you will have to take your samples offworld. I believe I have stayed too long.”
“Is there a problem?” Hammond asked, frowning as he walked over, eyes darting to the SF.
Purposely, Adriann curled his lips, showing his normal teeth, making the SF flinch only enough for Adriann to detect. He turned to Hammond, eyes sliding off the SF as if he were shit on his shoe and allowed that disgust to be shown to everyone looking at him.
Jack stared at the SF and snapped his fingers. “Dismissed Wilson. Switch with Ramsey in the tunnel.”
“Dismissed, Airman,” Hammond said, still not getting it but knowing Jack wouldn’t make an abrupt assignment change without good reason.
The SF exited and Jack turned to Adriann. “What happened?”
“You can’t replace everyone on the base, Jack.”
“What happened?” Jack repeated.
Adriann took a deep breath, controlling the anger that had been close to rising. He gave Janet an apologetic smile, then Hammond. When he looked at Jack, however, he allowed the anger to show in his eyes; not directed at Jack, but so that Jack could see it and understand. Adriann knew Jack well enough to know that he would.
“I have told the General that I can no more control who and what I am than he can. I read his surface thoughts as easily as you speak and I have trained myself to ignore most of it unless it pertains to me. I sense and hear fear and animosity throughout the entire base. It is not my place to judge, not knowing any of these people, but they are afraid of me and do not trust me.”
“I apologize for their behavior, Adriann, but I cannot control–” Hammond started.
“No,” Adriann said, cutting him off. “You need not apologize.”
“General, please. Bigotry is common among your people and many others. While the teams have learned to put it aside because they deal with aliens on a constant basis, most of the SGC personnel have not. They are not trained to have an open, generous mind. There have been infiltrations into this base before, yes?”
Hammond pressed his lips together. “Did you sense that from one of them?”
“No, it is a logical conclusion to an outside threat. While I have never threatened anyone here, I thought perhaps that my being alien was the problem. I was allowed to come through the gate, unshackled, undrugged, that they feared me because I am a threat to their secrecy, their privacy, through my telepathy. And some of that is true, but it’s baseless. I would not purposely scan anyone here or reveal what I learn to those in charge such as yourself. Fear is an irrational emotion. It lives without common sense.”
“Be that as it may,” Hammond told him, “I’m disturbed that you are at the receiving end of this sort of hatred. I held my people higher than that.”
“Do not be harsh with them,” Adriann said gently, lowering his tone. “Are not your people, whether stationed in this facility or within the teams who belong to the military service, taught to hate that which is different until informed otherwise?”
Hammond frowned. “No, sir, they are screened very carefully–“
Adriann held up a finger and smiled–Daniel’s eyes widened because he recognized that smile and Hammond did not. It wasn’t a nice smile. “I believe you misunderstand and that is my fault. The bigotry I speak of is sexual, General.” He turned and purposely looked at the guard just outside the door in the hallway and saw the corner of his eye twitch as the meaning of the words met his ears. He suddenly gestured with his hand, inviting the SF inside the room. The SF didn’t move until Hammond waved him in.
“Sir,” the SF said.
“Sergeant McCollum, at ease. Adriann and I have a question.”
Adriann nodded, relieved that Hammond was a quick thinker. But then, he’d have to be as leader of the facility.
McCollum dropped from attention and folded his hands behind his back, looking first at Adriann and giving away nothing in his facial expression, then at Hammond. “Sir?”
“Adriann?” Hammond asked.
“Sergeant,” Adriann started, then looked around, spying the cameras. He sighed. No truth would be told as long as those cameras were on. “Never mind, Sergeant. I apologize for wasting your time.”
Hammond frowned, and surprisingly, so did the Sergeant. “Excuse me, sir,” McCollum said, “but go ahead and ask your question.”
Adriann made a sweeping gesture at the cameras. “I cannot. We… more specifically, you are being watched and recorded.” He paused and looked at Jack for confirmation. Jack nodded. “I therefore cannot get the truth from you.”
“Sir, excuse me, but if you are a telepath as I understand the term, you can simply ask me and I will answer.”
To everyone’s surprise, Adriann smiled widely. “Well said, Sergeant. But my point is in having everyone else hear your answer.”
“Any answer I give you will be the truth, sir. My honor on it. Ask your question.”
Hammond grinned proudly and gave Adriann an expectant look. “Well?”
With another deep breath, Adriann asked, “First, I will do my best to ignore any surface thoughts and I will not read your mind at any time.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“I have a series of questions on one theme. Is that acceptable?”
“It is, sir.”
“I shall assume, reminding you that I am not reading your thoughts, that you have read the mission reports regarding myself and my family.”
Reluctantly, and with a little confusion, McCollum said, “Yes, sir.”
“Then you are aware that we take blood.”
“And obviously, that I read minds.”
“And that I prefer my mates to be male.”
McCollum hesitated longer, taken aback, then said, “Yes, sir.”
Hammond lifted his chin, suddenly getting it–where some of the hatred was coming from. Regret and embarrassment filled him. He didn’t interrupt, wanting to hear the rest, but he was dreading it. Taking a glance at the other men in the room, and knowing them like he thought he did, he wasn’t surprised by their nervous expressions.
“Are you aware of the… what you call ‘rumor’… that was spread after SG-1 and SG-2 first visited my planet?”
Jack’s attention was suddenly hyper-alert. “Rumor?”
Suddenly McCollum shifted and his eyes went pleadingly to Hammond, but Hammond nodded at him to continue.
“I am aware, yes.”
“Are you in the habit of spreading or believing rumor?”
Hesitating again, he said, “Sometimes they’re true, sir.”
“Sometimes,” Adriann said, resisting the urge to step directly in front of the man. He knew to do so would only scare him and the conversation would end. “Most of the time, they are not. They are lies made up by people who wish to damage the credibility of the subject, yes?”
Reluctantly answering, McCollum said, “Yes, sir, it is that, too.”
“They were just that, Sergeant.”
“But they were not rumors where I am concerned. I do prefer males. Your world condemns what you call homosexuality, does it not?”
“A lot of it does, yes, sir.”
“And if I am not mistaken, the military is very much afraid of homosexuals. Because of what you call homophobia, violations against your own civilian code were overlooked as laws were created for the military?”
McCollum kept a sober expression as he nodded. “I guess so, sir.”
“So what this information about me succeeded in doing was to frighten all the little boys on this base, is that correct?”
Daniel immediately covered his mouth, trying not to laugh, but inside, the tension he’d been feeling suddenly evaporated. While relieved that Adriann hadn’t dropped a dime on them, and there really wasn’t a chance of that anyway, this was too good to be true. Daniel also had a feeling Adriann was doing it for him as well as for himself. That Adriann wouldn’t be distrusted for his being an alien or a vampire but because he was homosexual was something that, sadly, Daniel had never considered. And judging by the looks on everyone else’s faces, neither had they.
McCollum stared at Adriann, then twisted the corner of his mouth. “I suppose it has, sir.”
“Why is that, Sergeant? Why fear and despise me for loving men, yet have relatively no fear of me as a vampire or telepath?”
Jack grinned as he too recognized the dangerous smile and the fact that Adriann had just nailed it right there. It wasn’t fear of who he was or what he was but who he preferred.
“I have no problem with you, sir.”
“You looked at me strangely when I mentioned sexual behavior, yet you barely blinked at my mention of telepathy but gave me an automated response. Don’t read my mind. I do not need telepathy to tell me how to interpret what that means.”
McCollum finally showed a hint of emotion and personality when he sighed, bowed his head to think, then raised it again. “I have heard people talk, sir. They are afraid of you for all of the reasons you just mentioned, not just because you’re gay.”
Adriann lost his smile. “I will tell you one thing, Sergeant, and then I will leave and never return to your SGC. I choose to love based only on love, not bodily equipment. It is very sad that a lot of your people are not mature enough or wise enough to do the same.”
With that, he bowed, stared McCollum hard in the eye, then bowed at Hammond and went down the back stairs to the Control Room. There were people huddled at the bottom of the stairs and they scattered like roaches when he came down. One of them was Walter and he sat down at the console and waited for Hammond’s command. As he waited, he whispered to Adriann, now standing next to him, “I’d just like to say, sir, that I thought what you said was brilliant.”
Adriann looked down and smiled. “Thank you, Sergeant.” He paused, sensing a friend in the Sergeant but looked around the room at the other technicians. He added confidingly, “Was it over the top?”
Walter was going to say no, but winced a little and said, “Well, yeah, maybe, but I think it needs to be. No one will listen if you don’t say anything worth remembering.”
Adriann grinned, nodding, as he looked out at the gate. “Well said. But I was wasting my time. The only ones who will listen are those with nothing to lose. This is a military establishment and you do get punished for even talking about being homosexual, yes?”
Walter shrugged. “Sometimes, depending on the command. General Hammond is very lax where personal codes are concerned but very strict where professional ability applies. We train a lot, so we can be ready for what comes. Well, ready as we can be, given that who is usually attacking us is more technologically advanced.”
“Hmm. Perhaps I can find something on the planet to change that.”
“Let’s hope so, sir. And sir?”
“It makes no difference if no changes happen today. What you said matters and will sink in.”
Adriann looked around the room. “One can only hope for children to mature.”
In the briefing room, the guys stood stunned and McCollum returned to his post in the hall. Jack stared at Hammond and shrugged. “Keeps us on our toes, General. Even off-world.”
Hammond shook his head and said, “He’s a good man, even if being a vampire and telepath is a little scary.”
“If you say so, sir. I kinda find having him around a comfort.”
Hammond gave him a very serious look. “I can understand why, Jack. Get prepped. You leave in fifteen.”
When they got to the other side of the wormhole, Adriann tugged on Jason’s pack and pulled him to a stop.
“What?” Jason snapped, then gave him an apologetic look. He glanced at Alex, who was thinking about the same thing he was: the sudden departure of their teammates. They hadn’t been anywhere near the same as Al and Connor, but still.
Daniel and Jack traded glances before Jack gestured at the fortress, silently suggesting that they keep walking. He was feeling a little antsy, wanting to start in on Baal and that creepy companion of his.
“First, let me say that not having Al and Connor with you feels wrong,” Adriann said, his tone making it clear how concerned he was.
Walking again, Jason said, “Tell me about it.”
“Why did they leave?”
“Al’s wife was worrying herself to death and her pregnancy was adding to that,” Alex answered.
“And Connor wanted to go back to school, learn linguistics,” Jason said.
“Have you heard from them recently?” Adriann asked.
Jason shook his head. “Last I heard from Al was nearly four months ago, right before Christmas. Connor sent me a message about two months ago telling me how his schooling was going. Alex?”
“About the same.”
Adriann grinned hugely and Jason scowled at him with exasperation. “What?”
“I know who your new teammates are.”
“Who?” Jason asked, dreading the answer.
“Al and Connor.”
Jason and Alex stopped dead, eyes wide. “What?” they both shouted.
Jack and Daniel were just as shocked but smiles came to their faces first. “You just couldn’t keep him hanging, could you?” Jack said to Adriann, grinning his head off. He clapped Jason on the shoulder, then Alex. “C’mon, let’s get inside and see what’s what.”
On the way, Alex and Jason kept trading looks, pleased as hell but they had thousands of questions to ask when they got home. And maybe a few thumps upside the head on two old teammates who’d been keeping secrets.
Inside the doors was a corridor which opened into the great hall that the men had been taken to the day before when they’d met Baal. Jack decided to make it their temporary ‘command post’ and ordered everyone to dump their gear. “Okay, this’ll do,” he said, and turning to Adriann. “How’re the snakes?”
Adriann paused, listening. Then rolled his eyes. “Awake and demanding to be freed.”
Daniel jogged his brows as he took off his gear and jacket but kept his sidearm strapped to his leg. “Predictable bastards.”
“Indeed,” Teal’c said, appearing in one of four doorways that emptied into corridors leading all over the fortress. He approached Adriann, a smirk on his face. “As requested, your identity has not been revealed. They were very confused by your clothing and demanded to know who you were. Talen has them in a confinement zone with the forcefield activated so that she and others can leave them unattended. She is also had to leave the room a few times to keep from revealing what she is.” Teal’c grinned at that last part.
“Eager to scare the crap out of them, eh?” Jack asked.
Adriann grinned, shaking his head as he spoke mutely with Talen.
“The others?” Jack asked Teal’c.
“A few more Residents have arrived. They have helped me separate those who would join the Free Jaffa and those who would not.” Teal’c gave them a grim smile. “I have let them do what they wish with the remaining Jaffa, including the First Prime, Kassan, and his second, Marius. They would not turn and are loyal to both Baal and Camulus.”
“Great,” Jack answered unsurprised. “And the other Jaffa?”
“I have sent most to the Alpha site. I am delighted to say that Master Bra’tac has now joined the resistance there.”
“That’s great,” Daniel said, grinning. “You’ll need his help.”
“Indeed. There are still old rivalries to dismantle and it will not be easy.”
“Yeah, there’s always the chest-thumping,” Jack quipped. “Where’s Carter? Busy with all sorts of fascinating tech stuff?”
“She is with the ships,” Teal’c deadpanned, waiting for Jack’s brain to wrap around the last word.
Jack’s eyes went wider than a kid’s at Christmas. “Ships? They have ships?”
Teal’c smiled. “They do indeed. In a complex behind the fortress, Baal has an underground hangar. There are two Hatak vessels, seven Teltacs, and three Alkesh. Major Carter is currently making a sweep of the ships before beginning a more detailed analysis.”
“That many? For a ‘private retreat’?” Jack asked, not believing for an instant Baal would have them there for only that reason.
“I have not discerned a reason why there are that many. Yet.”
Jack grinned at him. “Yet.” He felt his adrenaline spike and swiftly looked at Adriann. “We gotta have those ships, Adriann.”
Adriann gave him a sharp nod. “They are of no use to us except as trading value. Unless they have stealth technology.”
“They do,” Teal’c answered.
“Then I’ll give you all but one cargo ship,” Adriann amended.
“Deal,” Jack answered, then gave Teal’c a sneaky look. “Been to have a look already?”
“I have,” Teal’c answered smugly.
“Cool, then you and Carter may as well take charge of them. I’ll join you when I can. But first, I have to check out the snakes in captivity.”
Teal’c agreed, adding, “Major Carter will be happy to hear that, O’Neill, since she plans on staying away from the Goa’uld prisoners.”
“Fine. She’s better suited to helping you scope out the status of those ships anyway. Do you know if they had time to mess with any of them?”
“They did not sabotage the ships,” Adriann answered. “If they had, we would have known.”
“Carter’s not by herself, is she?” Jack asked.
“Negative. She is with Ghanen and both are anxious to study the other technologies Baal has managed to procure.”
“I don’t blame them,” Daniel remarked, looking around the immense room. “We could definitely use those gravity generators.”
“You wanna go exploring?” Jack grinned.
“No, not yet,” Daniel answered. “First, I’d like to find out why we were really taken.” He gestured at Adriann, then at a doorway. “I forget which door.”
“That one behind you will do,” Adriann told him.
As they went for the door, Jack clicked the mic on his radio. “Carter, come in.”
“How’s things? Teal’c said you were checking out the ships?”
“I was, sir, and I’d like to take a detailed examination of them later. Right now, Ghanen and I decided it would be best to take an inventory of everything else we could find.”
“Good idea, so where are you now?”
“We’re in the southeast part of the complex. Sir, we’ve found the R & D section that creates the gravity generators.”
“Excellent. Stay on it. I want Teal’c with you as soon as he’s finished here and I want hourly reports until further notice.”
“Yes, sir. Where will you be?”
“Snake-baiting and frying, Carter.”
“Have fun, sir.”
“We’ll see, Carter. O’Neill out.” He turned to Teal’c. “You sure want in on this? You could go join Carter right now if you want.” When Teal’c appeared to think it over, Jack added, “How about this. Hang around long enough for the fang flashing, then go join Carter.”
Teal’c thought it over for a few seconds. “That will be sufficient,” he said with a grin and followed them to Baal’s suite.
The double-wide door to the suite had been left open and they entered the immense room, looking around. Daniel hadn’t taken the time to really see it before but this time, he did. It was not hexagonal, as all the other rooms were but rectangular.
Daniel thought it somewhat comforting, and yet amusing, that the bed wasn’t the centerpiece. Instead, it sat in the far right corner, but it wasn’t a forgotten or useless piece of furniture. It was an elaborately carved four poster, standing on a raised platform–like an altar, Daniel thought–and was accented by red drapes that hid the bed itself from view. Yep, Daniel thought again. An altar. A private altar, not for audiences but for Baal’s private pleasures and amusements.
The rest of the room was furnished with chairs and sofas, with two sets of couches and tables at equal distance in the center of the room. Beyond them and against the walls were dressers and bureau-like pieces of furniture. At their left, sitting on the left set of armless sofas were Baal and Camulus, the shimmer of a containment field fluctuating down from the ceiling and reestablishing its connection to the floor in pulses.
Daniel looked down at the dark blue ring in the floor itself and knew that, just as he’d seen before when they’d been trapped, the ring would disappear once the field was shut off. One advantage in having a hidden containment system was to at least hide the tell-tale markings in the floor.
He looked at their expressions and they were trying to look bored. Daniel knew otherwise and he couldn’t help but grin.
“Well, don’t you two look comfy,” Jack said, making Daniel suppress a snort. “That necessary?” he asked Talen, who currently lounged on the right set of couches twenty feet away. “They can’t really escape, can they?”
“No,” she drawled, then wrinkled her nose and sat up, glancing from Camulus-Jalen to Jason as the Tok’ra fixed his glare on him. She stood briskly and snapped her fingers. The doors closed, then the forcefield came down. Talen traded greeting nods with Adriann as they walked toward their prisoners. Ophius and Kashan got up from the chairs they’d been sitting in and moved along the perimeter.
“How’d you do that without the remote?” Jack asked under his breath as he walked over to Talen.
“It’s in my pocket,” she said. “I don’t need to touch it to make it work.”
“Right. Can I have that ability?” he asked, not serious.
“I shall consider it,” she said, winking at him, and then abruptly, she and Adriann both whipped their attention on Jalen, whose scowl seemed to be deepening as he stared at Jason.
Jason stared back, stepping slowly toward the prisoners until Adriann placed a hand on his arm. “Let us, Jason. For now.”
Jason sighed and remained where he was while Adriann and Talen advanced.
She suddenly paused, cringing. “Ooh, such a nasty, vile mind,” she said, frowning with alarm and anger. She reached the couch and Camulus realized she wasn’t going to stop there. He stood up quickly, bracing himself for a fight but she didn’t give him one. To Jason’s vengeful delight, Talen grabbed him by the throat and lifted him up, forcing Camulus to stand on tip-toe. He made everyone flinch when he tried to defend himself, punching Talen in the face. Her head didn’t even rock back and there was no blood. Camulus, however, was shaking his hand.
“That’s a pretty good trick,” he hissed.
“Except you know it isn’t one,” Adriann said as he approached Baal the same way Talen had approached Camulus and when the Goa’uld sneered at him, trying to ready himself for attack, Adriann struck out and grabbed him by the neck as well, fingers along the jawline instead of wrapped around his throat as Talen’s were on Camulus.
Talen tilted her head, examining Camulus’ eyes as he struggled. “I believe you like to choke people.” She squeezed for a few seconds, amused when he tried and failed to kick her. “I also hear you like pain with your sex.” She arched a brow dangerously, threateningly. “How much?”
“Who are you?” Camulus asked. She didn’t answer, deciding to leave it to Adriann.
“A lot,” he gasped, trying to speak. “And I would love to show you.”
“I must decline,” she said slowly. “It is not, as the humans say, my thing, but I am willing to inflict yours. So, tell me, Camulus. Where would you like to start?”
He grit his teeth and tried to look dismissive. “You are the wrong sex.”
“I believe that you shall find that in the infliction of pain, it really does not matter.” She raised him higher, his feet leaving the floor. “Tell me, Camulus. How many times do you need to be raped before you get off?” His eyes began to roll back into his head as he started to lose consciousness so she lowered his feet to the floor and allowed him to breath. Camulus grabbed her wrist as he sucked in breath in a panic.
“You like pain, too, don’t you?” Adriann said, bringing Baal to his tip-toes as well.
Jack crossed his arms with deep satisfaction. “They should be naked, you know. Only fair.”
“Too distracting,” Talen answered. “Handsome toys that they are, they are bound to react favorably to the things we do to them. I will not tolerate any pleasurable action unless I tell them they can feel that way.”
“You cannot allow this, Jack,” Baal said, voice straining.
“Why not? They’re playing your game better than you.”
“Who are you?” Baal asked angrily, hands around Adriann’s, trying to pry him off.
Adriann smiled, focusing his grey eyes into an icy stare. “Var’chol’si,” he said slowly, enunciating each syllable.
Baal’s eyes narrowed. “No, the Var’chol’si are a myth.”
“That’s what I said about vampires,” Jalen said, appearing now.
Baal rolled his eyes as he struggled against Adriann’s hand. “Var’chol’si are vampires, you idiot, but yes, both are stories to frighten children and weak minds.”
“Ah, but is it not the slow, fractured mind that refuses to face a truth laid before them?” Adriann said, lowering the tone of his voice. He sounded dangerous and Daniel felt the goosebumps rise on his skin. He shouldn’t have liked it, but it was part of what attracted him to Adriann in the first place and he knew that. “And you have a very fractured mind, do you not?” He didn’t wait for Baal to respond. “It is fortunate for you that I have decided to enlighten you.”
Then he smiled.
His white teeth shone starkly as the room’s golden light bounced off them. Daniel saw with smug pleasure as Baal’s eyes widened, watching as Adriann’s canines lengthened to inch-long, needle sharp fangs. And Baal paled. In that moment, Daniel had never seen anything so… satisfying… when it came to revenge against the Goa’uld.
Camulus growled, eyes round as saucers as Talen smiled at him, her teeth growing, becoming fangs. “No,” he rasped, trying to shake his head. “A trick.”
“What’s with you guys?” Jack asked with exasperation. “You can’t believe something you yourselves don’t make?”
“Sounds disgustingly familiar,” Jason mumbled.
Jack turned to him and realized Jason had meant Earth humans. He grimaced a bit, acknowledging, then said, “They’re worse at it, I think.”
“Lame attempts at trickery will not save you from the other System Lords,” Baal said and suddenly, viciously, Adriann threw him across the couch, knocking it over from the force of Baal’s weight. The Goa’uld stood quickly, rebounding, his eyes on Adriann as if he’d hallucinated. “You are not supposed to be real,” he said, pointing.
Adriann snorted and retracted his fangs. “I am and those who have told you otherwise were quite obviously in error.”
Talen wrinkled her nose again and like Adriann, threw Camulus from her grip. He landed hard, rolling to a stop next to Baal, and quickly got to his feet. Baal sneered at him and Camulus returned the favor. It was as if each blamed the other for their predicament and Adriann snorted again. He turned and sat down in a chair close by, crossing an ankle over a knee.
Glancing at Jack, he rolled his eyes. “They are such a tiresome race.”
Jack grinned and dragged another chair over and sat down next to him. “They are at that.”
Baal stared at them, then around him, finding Ophius and Kashan. Shaking his head, he righted the couch and sat down, gesturing for Camulus to do the same.
“I’d rather stand,” Camulus answered, glaring at Talen, then shifted his gaze back to Jason. “You know these creatures?”
“Intimately,” Jason answered quietly, feeling a surge of satisfaction as the implication set in.
“You cannot be serious,” Camulus seethed. “These creatures aren’t who you think they are.”
“How would you know?” Jason asked. “A minute ago, you thought they were a myth.”
“Myth or not, the creatures are dangerous,” Baal said, trying to be smug. “You will see.”
Daniel couldn’t keep the smirk off his face as he sat on the edge of a small table stationed next to Adriann. “Coming from a snake, that’s actually funny.”
“They’re just jealous, that’s all,” Jason added.
“It is typical of the Goa’uld,” Teal’c said, then shook his head in disgust.
“Be silent, Shol’va,” Baal snapped.
“You are in no position to give me orders,” Teal’c told him. Now that the initial fun was over, he found the situation boring. “I believe I will join Major Carter in the distribution of your small fleet of ships.” With a smug grin at the shocked look on Baal’s face, he turned on his heel and left.
“Those are my ships!” Baal said, standing again and taking a step away from the couch and toward the men. Adriann didn’t move but Jack instinctively raised his P90.
Adriann reached out and lowered his weapon. “He cannot do anything to you.”
“You are so sure?” Jalen asked, then turned his eyes on Alex, who stood with feet spread, arms crossed, and a purposely bored expression on his face. “What are you staring at? Not what you expected? Am I supposed to be cowering in fear from the sight of a vampire?”
“No, just waiting for you to start up your threats of rape again.”
Jalen turned and sat down, knees wide and stretching his arms across the back of the sofa. “Suck my dick.”
“You first,” Alex rebutted. “Oh wait, you can only do that with someone who’s drugged.” He felt the urge to go over, straddle the bastard, and force his cock down his throat, but the subsequent images disgusted him and the urge subsided.
“What’s the matter, Alex?” Jalen taunted. “Afraid of a little force?”
Angered, Alex started to answer, but Ophius was suddenly behind him. Alex felt a strength pour through him, buoyed by his presence. Then Ophius reached up and caressed the side of Alex’s neck with his fingers. Alex shivered and closed his eyes briefly, and when he opened them, he found Jalen staring at him in shock, mouth open, expression one of actual outrage.
“You did not… let yourselves…” he sputtered.
“What about the word intimate do you not understand?” Jason asked and everyone exchanged glances of smug satisfaction.
“Yes, they let themselves, needing no drug,” Adriann answered, reaching over to take Daniel’s hand. “In fact, we are bonded, are we not?”
Daniel resisted the urge to bend over and kiss him. “We are.”
Copying Alex, Jason expelled a breath of boredom and grabbed a chair, placing it next it on the other side of the table next to where Daniel sat. “This is tedious. Since we’re supposed to report our progress in a twenty-four hours–“
“Eighteen,” Jack corrected. “Earth time.”
“Let’s just get this shit started,” Jason finished.
Jalen didn’t take his eyes off Alex and it started to unnerve him. Suddenly, Ophius slipped his hand in Alex’s and leaned forward, nuzzling his neck. It took all of Alex’s willpower not to blush. “How about we go take a walk?” Ophius asked.
Alex looked automatically over at Jason and Jason nodded, a tiny smile curving his lips. “Don’t get lost.”
They left the room, sealing the door behind them, and Jason turned his gaze on his twin. “You see, Jalen? It is the tender approach he loves,” he started sarcastically. “And since he didn’t need to be here, he may as well go indulge himself. I guarantee that he’ll be having a lot more fun than you.”
“If you call being fed on, fun,” Jalen snapped back.
Jason got up and walked over next to Talen, who remained closest to their prisoners. “That’s later,” he said simply, not bothering to clarify.
Talen smiled as she turned her gaze on Jason, then reached up and threaded her fingers gently through his hair. “Calane’s on his way. You don’t need to be here, either.”
It was so damned tempting, Jason thought as he momentarily closed his eyes. He heard the door open and opened his eyes to find Calane walking over.
“Have I missed anything?” Calane asked, but his eyes weren’t on the prisoners, or Jack or Daniel or Adriann. Only on Jason. Like Ophius had done with Alex, he took Jason’s hand, sending a sudden frisson of heat through him. His grey eyes met Jason’s and Jason felt his resolve weakening. The pull of the vampire was seductive.
“Just starting the questioning,” he answered, feeling smug at the way Jalen looked at him in disgust.
“We don’t need to interrogate them, Jason,” Calane answered and looked sharply at Talen, then Adriann. “You do not need to be playing games with such as these when there are more pleasant things we could be doing.”
Adriann grinned and shrugged in resignation. “He’s right, you know. We don’t need to talk to them at all.”
“Then let us go or kill us,” Baal said. “This has surpassed tiresome.”
“Yes, it has,” Adriann said, suddenly leaning forward, eyes boring into Baal’s. “For instance, the reason why you really brought them here. Or more specifically, Daniel.”
“I do not know what you are referring to,” Baal evaded.
“Adriann?” Daniel asked, standing. “What’s the reason?”
“Why are you asking him?” Baal demanded angrily. “I have not revealed anything to him.”
Adriann lost his grin and focused his icy stare at Baal, making him shift uneasily as he stood up. “What’re you doing?” Baal asked.
“Ancients translation. Below ground, underneath us,” Adriann said, and without looking away from Baal, pointed to a large ornamental rug in the center of the suite. “Pull that aside and under it you will find a hidden door.”
Baal’s eyes widened in surprise and shock. “How do you know this?” Accusingly, his eyes went to Jalen. “You have betrayed me.”
“We haven’t said a fucking word,” Jalen told him. “That bastard is reading our minds.”
Adriann showed them his teeth but he wasn’t smiling. “There is a large chamber beneath us,” he went on. “It contains technology he believes is from the Ancients and wanted you to translate it for him. He seems to think it’s some sort of weapon.”
Horror suddenly passed over Baal’s face, then just as quickly, it turned to cold rage as he smiled dangerously. “You are no different than I, taking what you want without asking.”
“If I asked, I would not be told the truth,” Adriann told him dismissively as he got up and walked toward him, stopping a foot away. Adriann stood a few inches taller and met Baal’s challenging gaze. “You made a grave error, taking them.”
“I took what I wanted,” Baal answered, grinning nastily. “It is now your turn.”
Adriann suddenly hissed, his canines lengthening as his eyes narrowed. He didn’t touch him but Baal grimaced and yelled out in pain, dropping to his knees, holding his groin. Jack, Daniel, and Jason froze, startled. “Do nothing,” Adriann warned.
“I wasn’t about to,” Jack replied. “Just surprised me.”
To Baal, Adriann said viciously, “I do not need to touch you to cause you pain. If you wish to die, then keep provoking me with the images I saw in your mind.” Turning to Jalen, his face an expression of impending violence, Adriann opened his mind and felt for Ophius and Alex. They were in another room, heavily into each other, and abruptly, Adriann pushed the feelings and images into Jalen’s mind.
The sudden lust and desire made Jalen fall to his hands and knees, breathing hard. “What…” he began.
“That,” Adriann spat, “is what you should have been doing with him, not what you sadly believe is pleasure. You disgust me.” Just as abruptly, he pulled back the feelings and images and Jalen slumped to the floor, coughing.
Jack, Daniel, and Jason stared in shock, amazed. Talen, Kashan–who preferred to keep silent and watchful–and Calane merely looked justifiably superior.
“I have many ways of making your lives miserable,” Adriann continued. “Like you, I can use pleasure and pain, but unlike you, I take no pleasure in either.”
Eyes glowing to show his appearance, Camulus snorted in disbelief. “You are a poor liar.”
Adriann walked over and grabbed Camulus by his hair, yanking him to his feet. “What I feel is satisfaction,” he said, a dangerous glint in his eyes. “And it is something you know nothing about. You are a weak, pathetic being, confusing pleasure with other emotions like fear and pain, even satisfaction.”
Camulus grimaced, hatred looming in his eyes as he tried to pry Adriann’s hand from him. “You are a hypocrite,” he seethed. “You cannot convince me that you find no pleasure in what you are doing right now.”
Baal started toward Adriann at that moment and everyone watching went to stop him but Adriann’s voice suddenly boomed, “Do nothing!” He glared at the man in his grip. “You are partly correct, Camulus. I do find pleasure in this, but it is not out of domination or sexual excitement, something you have perverted.” Turning his gaze to Baal, who stood frozen a yard away, he smiled threateningly. “Attack me, if you will. You will find that you do not have the advantage.”
“Two on one? Even for one as strong as you?” Baal taunted, then lightning fast, grabbed Adriann around the throat. He squeezed, feeling the throat tense and fight as the muscles rebelled. What was different was Adriann’s face didn’t change and Baal’s mask of twisted pleasure dissipated when he realized that he didn’t have the vampire at a disadvantage.
That thought was confirmed when Adriann’s hands went to their throats and lifted them off the floor. Baal and Camulus panicked, both from the lack of air and the strength of the being that held them. They twisted, feet kicking, hands scrabbling at the one on their throats.
Adriann didn’t squeeze. He merely held them immobilized, and making his point, slowly lowered them till their feet touched the floor. He stared at them both and slowly released his grip. As he did, he lowered his voice to the seductive, hypnotic tone. “You are mine now. Kneel before me.”
Jack’s jaw dropped, as did Daniel’s and Jason’s. They recognized that sound, experienced the day they’d met Adriann and the others. They looked at Talen, Kashan, and Calane and found smug agreement, not alarm. Jack opened his mouth to interrupt but Talen placed her finger over her mouth and shook her head. Angry at the rebuff, Jack took another step but Talen moved quickly and laid a staying hand on his arm. “No, leave him. He knows what he’s doing.”
On their knees, glaring, Baal spoke before Camulus could. “You see, no different.”
Surprising them, Adriann released his control and stepped back, chuckling. There was, however, no mirth behind it. “Stand up, sit down, roll over and die. It makes no difference to me. Having you at my feet was not a pleasure. It was a display of power and the only thing you people understand. I showed you that I could control you. It was nothing more than that.”
“Yet you did it because you crave power and control,” Camulus spat. “Just like a Goa’uld.”
“You sound as if that disturbs you,” Daniel said, interrupting. “As if you, a supposed Tok’ra, were different. Except you showed us just how little difference there is between you and the Goa’uld.”
Camulus stood up and moved to the couch, sitting down and rubbing his throat. “Makes you think twice about your Tok’ra, doesn’t it?”
“Have you ever met the Tok’ra of this world?” Daniel asked. “If you had–“
“He has,” Adriann said with a sneer of disgust as he turned and went to a table that held a pitcher of water and filled a glass.
“What?” Daniel asked, going to him.
“What do you mean?” Jack asked.
“They have met a Tok’ra of this world. Together,” Adriann said, turning and sitting on the edge of the table, drinking the water. He pointed at the prisoners with the glass before he filled it again. “They sexually abused and tortured him before they killed him.”
“What?” Jack yelled in horror as he, Jason, and Daniel rounded on Baal and Camulus.
“How can you know that?” Baal asked between his teeth. “I was not thinking of any traitorous Tok’ra!”
“I wasn’t either,” Camulus said slowly, then touched Baal’s arm and pulled him down to sit next to him. “He’s reading more than surface thought.”
Adriann set down the half-empty glass and gripped the edge of the table, taking a deep breath.
“When was this?” Jack asked.
“Over a year ago, I believe.”
“Who?” Daniel said, suddenly very glad Sam wasn’t there.
“A Tok’ra named Kanan, don’t know the host’s name,” Talen answered, eyes fixed on Baal but unfocused. “He was a spy, one of Baal’s aides. It means that the Tok’ra here probably know about the second Camulus, and sent Kanan in to spy on Baal and Camulus.”
“Get out of my head,” Baal growled.
“To use a human phrase, ‘make me’,” she challenged.
Baal fell for the bait despite himself and pushed off the couch but it was Camulus who stopped him, not any of the others. “Don’t. You’re playing into their hands.”
Baal shook him off but didn’t advance. He returned to his seat and folded his arms, knowing he’d have to bide his time before he found a way to escape. When he met them again, there’d be no playing, no mercy. Torture, rape, especially for Daniel, should he get his hands on him again.
Adriann clenched his teeth and glanced at Daniel. “I shall need a Tok’ra memory recall device so that you may acquire the visual part of the information he has. The rest I can dictate. Did you bring your recording devices with you?”
Daniel nodded. “Digital recorder, both vocal and visual.”
“Good.” He glanced at his kin as he stood up, then surprising everyone, began to hum a tune. As if it were a signal, Calane and Kashan circled behind the sofa while Talen remained in front.
Daniel frowned deeply as he recognized the tune. It was from Earth, and seemed so incongruous that it sent a chill down his spine. He went to Adriann and laid a hand on his arm. “Adriann, what’re you doing?”
Adriann stopped humming for a moment and looked at Daniel with an intense, cold stare only slightly warmed by Daniel’s return gaze. “You may want to leave now, Daniel. Jack, Jason?”
“No, we’re staying,” Jack said, getting a nod from Jason at the same time. “Not that I wanted to speak for you,” he began but Jason waved a hand dismissively, telling Jack to forget it.
“Adriann…” Daniel started again but this time, Adriann answered him inside his mind.
Daniel, their symbiotes are interfering with what I need to see. I don’t know if it is some private fear, a secret weapon or simply some method of escape they have devised in case of capture, but I have to know and I have to do this my way.
And your way is? Daniel asked, his careful tone matching the look on his face.
They are afraid of what I am. I will use that. You remember, yes? How deeply I felt your mind when I drank from you?
Daniel’s eyes reflected the panic he now felt. You can’t! You can’t bond with them!
I do not plan to bond. I am not going to go that far. Now please, Daniel. Don’t interfere. This needs to be done.
There was something else and Daniel hadn’t noticed it before, what with the situation itself distracting him, but he realized he could read Adriann. Not as well as Adriann because he wasn’t a Var’chol’si, but he could read him. Perhaps it was his empathic ability that allowed it, he didn’t know, but he felt the other reason: Adriann also wanted to scare the hell out of them. Just for the sheer pleasure of getting back at them.
Daniel hated to admit it, but he liked the idea. He cleared his throat and gave Adriann a tiny smile. You’re a bad boy, Adriann.
Your point being? Adriann asked, concealing his smile.
Daniel sighed and withdrew his hand, then stepped back next to Jack and Jason.
“What’s he up to?” Jack whispered.
“Payback,” Daniel answered, not bothering to shield his mouth from Baal and Camulus, letting them read his lips if they were able.
Adriann returned his attention to Baal and began to hum the tune again as if he were doing it distractedly. He took a few steps toward him, then softly sang a few words of the song, knowing the Goa’uld wouldn’t have a clue what he was singing–and would also think him mad. “Just like a dream, you are not what you seem…”
Jason blinked with surprise, remembering that it was the very song he’d been subconsciously repeating through his mind the day before. For the first time since being on the planet, Jason felt a genuine urge to laugh instead of pretending to.
Adriann hummed a little more of the tune and as he reached the couch, Kashan appeared behind Baal and Calane behind Camulus. He grabbed him by the shoulders and pinned him in place, preventing Camulus from interfering. Baal started to turn and found Kashan in his way, then Adriann’s voice reached inside his head. Look at me.
Baal shook his head against the strange hypnotic tone, but was unable to resist turning round and looking up into the handsome face with the eerily beautiful grey eyes. Baal felt his body give in, as if the energy were taken straight out of him. His head fell back as Adriann knelt on the couch and straddled his legs.
Baal inhaled sharply when Adriann gripped him by the back of the neck, holding him like… prey. Baal couldn’t look away, fascinated and repulsed by the teeth that grew into fangs. He sucked in a breath as Adriann lowered his mouth to his neck, then lost all sense of decorum as teeth sliced into his flesh. He screamed in terror.
With mixed feelings, Daniel watched, not realizing his hands had curled to fists, the fingernails making crescents into the palms. Part of him wanted to stop Adriann, convince him he was wasting his time, but he wouldn’t. A bigger part wanted to see Baal cower and he felt a sick satisfaction when Baal screamed. The shoe was now on the other foot. Now it was Baal who couldn’t escape.
Daniel glanced at Jack and Jason and saw their expressions, felt their emotions, and knew they matched his own. He wanted to indulge in it somehow, but the moment he started to think of how, Adriann broke the spell of his actions and pulled back, grimacing in disgust. He let go with a shove and moved off the couch, wiping the back of his mouth, and shocking everyone, spat a small mouthful of blood at him. It make a splattering sound as it hit Baal’s frock coat. The Goa’uld did nothing, which seemed even more bizarre. He sat there, dazed, eyes staring at the ceiling before finally closing.
Adriann turned and went back to the water pitcher, pouring another glass and downing it. Turning back, he sneered at the Goa’uld. “I don’t know how you live with such putrid blood in your veins.” He glanced at Daniel, Jack, and Jason who stood staring at him, puzzled. “The sarcophagus has made his blood rotten. To drink it would be like drinking sour wine. It wouldn’t harm me any but…” He made a face, then looked over at Kashan. “So much for finding out anything that way. Shall we place him into the same cell he locked away that genuine Tok’ra?”
Kashan grinned wickedly and grabbed Baal by the arm and yanked him off the couch. Baal stumbled and Kashan held on tighter so he wouldn’t fall and escorted him out of the room. After the door closed, Adriann wiped his mouth again and slowly walked toward Camulus, who hadn’t uttered a single sound during the entire scene. He did, instead, have a smug grin on his face, as if he’d enjoyed what had happened. But the grin abruptly disappeared when he realized that he was next. He tried to get up but Calane’s hold was preventing him from moving.
“What you are doing is wrong.”
Adriann would have laughed, but instead, it was Daniel, Jack, and Jason who did it for him, snickering incredulously.
“Is it?” Adriann mocked. “You would know, yes?”
Camulus only glowered at him, not responding to the goad. Adriann took a step toward him, then stopped and shook his head, and looked across at Calane. His kinsman suddenly released Camulus’ shoulders but didn’t let go, either. In much the same way Kashan had grabbed Baal, Calane took Camulus by the arm and effortlessly, and unceremoniously, hauled him off the couch, leading him toward the door.
Stunned, Daniel looked at Adriann. “What’s going on?” He couldn’t help sounding disappointed.
Jack pressed his lips together thoughtfully. “Change your mind?”
“Something like that,” Adriann answered as Calane opened the door.
With a look over his shoulder, he said to Adriann, “Let this one think about his future… before we all take turns.”
“No, you can’t!” Camulus objected, voice echoing as he was led out of sight and down the corridor.
“I thought you needed to get something from him?” Jason asked.
With a sigh, Adriann rubbed his forehead and turned away, heading straight for the bed in the corner. “I got what he was hiding, and that was more the immediate concern. Right now, I need a break. In the meantime, a little of what you would call scare tactics wouldn’t hurt.”
Daniel instantly knew that was only part of the truth and quickly followed Adriann across the room, Jack and Jason with him. “What’s wrong?”
Without answering, Adriann sat on the bed, pulled off his boots, then pushed back until he was in the center and lay gingerly onto his back. Only then, did he answer, but with closed eyes. “I’m tired.”
“No, it’s more than that,” Daniel said worriedly, then looked over his shoulder at Jack and Jason. “I think it was his blood. I don’t think it’s life-threatening but I can feel the migraine. It’s like the ones I periodically get.”
“I could see that from his face,” Jason nodded, tapping between his brows. He looked at Jack and gestured at the door. “How about we go for a walk?”
Jack inhaled slowly, feeling a little twinge of jealousy which was immediately negated by Jason slipping his hand in his.
“Jack, let’s let Daniel take care of him while we go snoop around.”
Jack sighed heavily. “Right.”
Daniel turned to them, confused, then realized what they were giving them. “I don’t need–“
“Daniel, take your time,” Jason interrupted with a grin.
“Within reason,” Jack teased as he gently grabbed Daniel by the neck and brought their lips together in a deep, fervent kiss.
“Wait,” Daniel started to say when Jack pulled back but Jason gave him a kiss too before he and Jack were leaving the room with understanding smiles on their faces. Daniel stood staring at the door, wondering why they didn’t just stay in the room. There wasn’t any need to leave. Then… the light dawned and Daniel finally got why they left. Irritated at having his thoughts read by his lovers before he actually had them, he made a growling sound and sat down.
“They love you very much,” Adriann said, rubbing his temples.
“I really hate it when they do that.”
Adriann snorted. “No you don’t.”
“Okay, I mostly hate it when they do that.”
“They know you.”
“Well…” Daniel sputtered, trying to convince himself. “I should at least be able to ask before they say yes and leave.”
“And how often do they have to do that?”
“Actually,” Daniel admitted, “it only ever involves you.”
Adriann grinned more broadly but covered it by shielding his face with his hands. “Do me a favor and dim the lights. Control device is probably on that dresser,” and he pointed to the left of the bed. Daniel moved over, found a black remote and pressed an amber button once. The wall sconce lights dimmed a little. He pressed it again and they dimmed further until they were more like candle glow.
“You okay?” Daniel asked as he grabbed the pitcher of water and searched through the dresser. Finding a small silk scarf, he drenched it then squeezed the excess out.
“Just didn’t want the light.”
“Ah, well, I can relate.” Daniel started to climb on the bed but decided to take his cumbersome boots off first. It only took seconds after years of practice and soon he was on the bed, sitting next to Adriann who still lay crosswise. Pressing the cool cloth to his head, Daniel grinned when Adriann made a soft moan.
“Better?” he asked, sensing something wasn’t right. In fact, it was downright… deceptive?
“Much better,” Adriann answered, then suddenly took the cloth, pulled Daniel into his arms and rolled them over so he was lying partly on top of him.
Daniel stared up at him, amazed. “You liar! And I couldn’t even tell you were faking till just now!”
“Didn’t fake all of it, Daniel,” Adriann said cheekily. “I do have the headache and I am motivated to get rid of it but getting you in bed with me is what I wanted and maybe what you would call icing, yes?”
Daniel quickly rolled them over, grinning smugly at the surprised look on Adriann’s face. “And this icing would involve what exactly?” he asked as he unbuttoned his trousers and pulled his t-shirt free.
“Blood first,” Adriann answered, sliding his hands under the t-shirt and up Daniel’s back. It revealed his chest, too, so he completed the caress in a circle, ending up with his palms flat against Daniel’s pecs. “Hot, sticky sex second.”
“Isn’t that usually the other way around?” Daniel asked as he pulled his t-shirt off.
“Need headache fixed so I can show you how much I have missed you.”
Daniel stared down at his half-lidded eyes, and even partly closed, the grey color peaked through seductively. Daniel had always found Adriann’s eyes fascinating to stare into, never mind his desire to do so during sex. He unfastened the curiously fastened shirt, a Velcro-like sticky fiber, and pulled it up over his head then off his arms. He tossed it on the foot of the bed, then moved to Adriann’s trousers.
Strong hands stopped him, grabbing hold his head, and Adriann whispered, “I missed you,” as he pulled him down into a long kiss. Daniel moaned as that familiar hunger rose within him and undeterred by the kiss, brought his hands back to Adriann’s trousers. Getting them open, he frantically pushed them down over Adriann’s hips and down past his ass. Touching skin, he slid his hands everywhere, caressing, reacquainting, making Adriann shudder.
“No time,” Adriann said, grazing his teeth over chin and jaw, making his way toward Daniel’s throat. Though he said the words, his hands still went to Daniel’s fatigue trousers, pulling them open and shoving them roughly down.
Daniel rolled away and kicked them loose, then took a moment to pause as he knelt, naked, watching Adriann remove his own. His heart beat with excitement and desperation, need filling his veins as Adriann, now naked, reached for him, pulling him down. Daniel attacked his mouth, kissing him hard, rubbing against him, shuddering at the feel of all that warm skin.
They rolled over, and over, and finally on his back, Daniel wrapped his legs around Adriann and thrust repeatedly for more friction. It felt so good he hadn’t realized that Adriann’s mouth was now on his throat until teeth scratched his skin. Inhaling with pleasure, he slid his fingers through thick, blond hair, loosened from the braid, and tossed his head back. Needle sharp points pressed against his throat and he gasped, “Yes,” as he closed his eyes.
Adriann bit down and Daniel gasped, “Oh god.” As before, the pain barely registered as pleasure swarmed through him. “How can this hurt?” he whispered, pulling Adriann’s head against his throat, inciting him to bite harder, to take what he wanted. Adriann growled and sucked harder, pressing more firmly against his neck, sending shudders of pleasure through Daniel as he writhed under his hold, his weight. His mouth. Daniel was so hard, just from his bite, and it reminded him how sensitive his throat and chest were to being bitten. He’d been teasingly calling it his vampire fetish. If the fetishists only knew.
Adriann pulled back slowly, licking the wound closed, and looked up when Daniel groaned with disappointment. “Can’t stay there the whole time,” he teased.
Daniel yanked him back down, reaching between them to take Adriann’s long, slender cock in hand and making him hiss with pleasure at the abrupt contact. “I’m thinking that it’s time the tables were turned.”
Adriann’s eyes darkened; his smile faded in favor of an aroused one as he whispered, “Yes.” He promptly rolled them over and Daniel moved his knees between Adriann’s, slowly spreading them wide as his hand stayed wrapped around his cock.
“We don’t.” At Daniel’s perplexed look, he grinned. “You seem to have forgotten how different we are,” and grabbing hold of Daniel’s cock, he positioned him, rubbing the head against his ass.
Daniel inhaled gustily with surprise as he slid into Adriann’s already slick body. Jack had never mentioned this; or if he had, Daniel had forgotten. Both were likely. “Talk about convenient,” he hissed, then choked back a sound when Adriann raised his knees and bucked, forcing Daniel’s cock to enter in hard.
“Yes,” Adriann growled, pulling Daniel on top of him as he wrapped his legs around his waist. He grabbed Daniel’s head, fingers tightly threading through his hair as he kissed and bit his chin and neck. “More,” he urged and thrust upward, bringing in the familiar rhythmic rocking Daniel had experienced with him before. He knew Adriann couldn’t help taking charge and didn’t much care but he had to give him more than what Adriann wanted.
Daniel circled his hips with each hard thrust and soon, Adriann was following, not leading, surrendering under him as he pulled Daniel into a fierce kiss. He was hot and tight and Daniel moaned loudly into his mouth as Adriann contracted his muscles around him, laughing through the kiss, through each stroke and turn of Daniel’s hips.
Daniel wanted this to last forever. He needed him, needed to make Adriann come, watch him come. “Yes,” he gasped, and thrust faster. Adriann’s handsome face shone with sweat and Daniel stared down at him, watching his face flush, his head tip back, mouth open. “Yes,” Daniel repeated, “Come for me, come…”
Adriann arched further and let out a yell which sounded to Daniel like victory. He couldn’t help but agree as he slammed into him, watching his lover’s face contort in a rictus of pleasure. The next moment had him doing the same when he froze in surprise as muscles gripped his cock like many hands and pulled the orgasm from him. His body shook as the pleasure flooded his veins.
As if on cue, Adriann pulled his throat to his mouth and sank his teeth into him. Daniel frantically grabbed hold of the bed beside Adriann’s head, squeezing his eyes shut, shuddering against the keen pleasure, whispering, “Oh my god, yes…”
A loud growl reverberated through his throat, his blood, spreading over his skin to make Daniel release the bed and clutch at Adriann’s shoulders. No longer held motionless by his initial release, Daniel moaned into Adriann’s hair and pumped his hips, unable to help seeking pleasure in a rhythmic match to the sucking at his neck.
A hand slid down his sweat-soaked back and Daniel moaned again, a high, shrill sound of need, as a finger slid into his ass, pleasing him, toying with him. A sudden wave of pleasure swarmed through him like a second orgasm and Daniel hugged Adriann to him, hips thrusting uncontrollably, head arched back.
The pleasure seemed to go on and on, but at last, Adriann retracted his teeth, panting now against Daniel’s neck as he lapped at the second set of wounds. The broken skin formed a membrane, sealing itself from his spit, and Adriann kissed the spot. “Wonderful,” he whispered.
“Too quick,” Daniel whispered back, taking a bite of his own and making Adriann laugh in such a way it was almost a giggle.
“Promise me we’ll have more time later,” Adriann said as he tightened his grip and rolled them over, pulling Daniel’s cock out of him as they went. They both groaned but Adriann covered it up with a kiss. “Well?” he asked, pulling back enough to speak.
“Promise,” Daniel told him, “but I can’t promise when or even if it’ll be when we’re done with this place, this impromptu mission.” Daniel sighed and gave him a loving if regretful look. “Always depends on my job and Hammond’s mission list.”
With a sigh, Adriann nodded and hugged Daniel to him as he lay on his side. “So,” he began, caressing Daniel’s face with a finger, “before you get back to business–“
“We get back to business…”
Daniel felt a bit of deception but it was playful, not guilty. He pushed at Adriann’s chest and was momentarily distracted by the smooth white skin and dark nipples. Outside of Jack, Daniel preferred men without hair on their chests, but Adriann wasn’t just bare-chested. He was completely hairless, apart from the hair on his head, and he sometimes found that provocative enough to distract him. As he traced circles around Adriann’s nipples and lines between his pecs, he looked up to find Adriann smirking with amusement. “What were you going to say?”
Adriann leaned forward and nuzzled him. “Can we just stay here for a little while longer?”
Daniel looked up, then around the room from where he lay. “I wouldn’t mind but…” He suddenly sat up and looked around for his clothes as he started to do a casual clean-up with the sheet underneath him. “This is Baal’s bedroom. I think, given the memories of the past few days, that your very well-intentioned distraction and much-needed… headache cure, is all I’m able to manage.”
Adriann groaned and sat up next to him, then he too looked around the room. As Daniel eased off the bed and picked up his trousers, he finally said, “I do believe it is big enough.”
Daniel glanced at him as he started to button. “For?”
Adriann lounged back and stretched like a cat, and Daniel was unable to keep from watching in admiration.
“Well? Big enough for what?” Daniel reminded.
“My new bedroom.”
Daniel snorted, rolled his eyes, and tossed Adriann his clothes. “Get dressed, mister. We’ve got work to do.”
“That we do. Do you have any idea how long it’ll take me to transfer some of my stuff here?”
“I meant about whatever is hidden beneath this room,” Daniel reminded as he caught Adriann on the ass with the back of his hand.
Adriann turned swiftly, mischievous grin on his face. “What is that phrase? All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?”
Daniel couldn’t help it and started laughing. Adriann tried to look innocent but knew it wasn’t possible so he gave up and copied Daniel in getting dressed. Fully dressed now, Daniel walked a few feet from the bed and picked up the edge of the large, circular ornamental carpet. “Is anyone with Jack besides Jason?” he asked as he stepped backward on the carpet, pulling it across as he moved.
Adriann sent out a general question and received one back. “Calane’s with them,” he said as walked to the edge of a six-foot long line revealed in the stone floor.
As Daniel moved rug all the way back, he asked, “Could you tell him to bring Jack and Jason over?” Daniel paused, a small grin on his face. “And Ophius and Alex?”
Adriann reached out for Ophius’ mind and got a clear, immediate response. “They’ve been talking for a while,” he said. “They’re on their way.”
“Talking? All that time?” Daniel asked, looking up with a smirk after kicking aside a flap of the rug.
Adriann’s grin had a seductive twist to it. “No, I am very sure that they were not talking the whole time.”
Daniel gestured between them, his smirk getting worse. “Kinda like us?”
“Care to refresh my memory?”
Daniel grinned boldly. “Maybe later.” He looked away from the dangerous look Adriann gave him and scanned the floor. There was a large rectangular cutout in the floor, perhaps four foot wide and eight feet long. It didn’t have any handles or set of controls. Pursing his lips, he retrieved the remote from a table and looked at the confusing mess of lighted panel buttons. Without labels.
“Let me,” Adriann said, holding his hand out.
With a curious frown, Daniel handed it over and Adriann pressed an amber button, then a maroon one. The entire cutout began to lower and a few inches down, slid toward Daniel, under the floor. It revealed a staircase descending into darkness.
“Efficient,” Adriann remarked.
“Quite. And considering the source, I don’t think it was built by the Goa’uld–“
“But by the Ancients. Yes, I know.”
“How did you…” Daniel asked, then nodded quickly. “Right, never mind. You saw it in his mind?”
Adriann gave him a cheeky grin. “When I saw this secret entrance in his mind, I knew what he thought it was and also what controls to push to gain entrance.”
Daniel sighed as he crossed his arms. “Right.” When Adriann started toward the top steps, Daniel reached out and took his arm. “Wait. Let’s wait for Jack or he’ll have my head.”
Adriann rolled his eyes with annoyance and gently removed Daniel’s hand from his arm. “I’m not part of your team. I don’t have to do what Jack tells me or clear everything I do through him.”
The words bothered Daniel and he put on a stubborn expression. “It’s not like that. It’s respecting my team leader and following his orders.”
“I don’t recall him leaving any,” Adriann argued.
Daniel stared back, exasperation growing. “Adriann, he doesn’t need to repeat himself.”
“He has you well trained,” Adriann taunted as he took a step down and paused. He turned slightly and held out his hand. “I’m being bad, Daniel. Come be bad with me.”
It was Daniel’s turn to roll his eyes. “Adriann, goddamn it–“
“You like me this way,” Adriann said mischievously. “And I am glad… since I will not change.” He stretched out his hand further as he took another step down. “Come with me. I’ll tell Jack there was no danger.”
“He might just buy that but–“
“I’ll tell him I corrupted you.”
“He already knows that.”
“Then what is there to lose?”
With a grumble, Daniel gave in and took Adriann’s hand… but with his other, he radioed Jack. Adriann shook his head and pulled him down the steps.
After leaving Adriann and Daniel, Jack and Jason decided to take advantage and have a look around. While Sam and Teal’c continued to examine the small fleet of ships, and Alex was busy with Ophius, they decided to go through the level one room after another, corridor by corridor. Some held rooms that had been converted to Baal’s specific sexual tastes, though Jason was pretty certain that Camulus or Jalen might have had a hand in some.
Making it to the southeast part of the complex, they turned down another corner that dead-ended into a large room. Inside were three consoles arranged in a ‘U’ and above them were eight holoscreens divided into two rows of four. Five were blank but four were showing the bedrooms they had all been in.
Grinning smugly, Jack slapped Jason on the shoulder. “Tell me this is the security room.”
“Let’s find out,” Jason said, gesturing at the consoles.
“Looks like one to me,” Jack said as he went to the left console to take a look at the controls. With a disgusted look, he turned to Jason who stood next to him at the center. “Figures. It’s in Goa’uld.”
Jason grinned. “It’s what you get for not learning the language.”
“Yeah, yeah, but with all the brain power around me, I don’t need to.”
Jason rolled his eyes. “Bad, bad, bad.”
“Okay, fine, I know I should learn in case of emergency but…” He made a disgusted and dismissive wave at the language imprinted above each flat button, flush with the surface of the console. “What’re the odds?”
“In our job?” Jason asked with surprise. “This is coming from you? Jack, where the fuck are we?”
Jack realized he’d just argued himself into a corner and growled. “Okay, fine. At least I know a few words. On, off, warning, and activate.”
“Activate?” Jason asked, grinning. “As in rings, right?”
“Exactly,” Jack replied with a small measure of satisfaction.
Pressing a few buttons, and with Jason’s help here and there, they called up images on the holoscreens. They found that every single room and cell in the fortress was monitored except Baal’s suite. Calling up the commands, Jason brought up the gravity cells, and on two screens were Baal and Camulus. With the cells’ gravity feature turned on, the view was aerial instead of level.
“Ya gotta admire the ingenuity,” Jason said.
“Do I?” Jack asked sarcastically.
“Well, I do. When it’s on, there’s no need for bars or a forcefield. The prisoner is disoriented when the gravity field is turned off and on and allows the guards to retrieve that person. And if you tried to climb out of the cell, the gravity shift would probably make it impossible.”
“I have no idea, but I could ask Sam after she’s had a chance to check out the technology. Earth could use these devices. Better than cells. No slipping in contraband through the bars or doors. No hanging around to catcall the fresh meat coming in.”
Both of them shuddered at Jason’s words and Jack grimaced. “You gotta way with words, Jace.”
Jason gave him an apologetic look as he shrugged. “Sorry.”
“No, don’t be,” Jack answered, hitting the buttons to look through the other cells. “Most of the time it’s a good thing.”
Jason grinned as he looked down at the buttons and looked up to find Jack purposely not looking at him. Reaching out, he took one of Jack’s hands and pulled.
Jack looked up then, trying not to grin back, and pulled his hand back in resistance. “We’re working, Jace.”
“Others aren’t. You can spare me a few minutes’ worth. No one’s here to catch us being bad.”
Jack tried for a mock-scolding look but it failed when Jason stepped into his personal space and eliminated it by putting his arms around his neck. “Jason…”
“Haven’t kissed you lately,” Jason told him, looking at his mouth, and before Jack could give a false protest, he parted his lips and kissed him, tongue teasing Jack’s lips open. When they did, he met Jack’s tongue with a breathy moan. Desire swept through him and when Jack wrapped his arms around him and clamped one hand on his ass, Jason moaned approval.
Jack was just about to start a grind, when his radio crackled, making them both jump.
“Jack, come in.”
Jason growled and hit his call button. “Daniel, you’ve got rotten timing.”
“Want me to call back in an hour?” Daniel asked.
Jack and Jason exchanged glances; they could imagine the smirk on Daniel’s face.
“No, long as you’re there,” Jack drawled, though he wasn’t separating or letting go of Jason’s ass. “What’s up?”
Daniel sniggered as he talked and Jason couldn’t stop himself from grinning his head off. “Adriann and I are exploring the underground floor beneath Baal’s room.”
Jack paused. “You there now?”
“Under that rug in his suite was a panel that revealed a set of stairs. We’re on our way down.”
Jack nodded to himself. “And?” he asked, expecting more.
“And… what?” Daniel asked, and in the background, Adriann’s “Told you,” came in loud and clear.
Jack and Jason were the ones to snigger that time.
“I’ll just bet that Daniel figured he’d better tell you what he was up to and Adriann told him he didn’t need to.”
“Probably right about that,” Jack agreed. To Daniel, he asked, “And that was my question to you. And… is there anything else?”
“Um, no. Just thought I should tell you what I was doing so you don’t end up yelling at me later.”
Jack frowned, and this one had no humor in it at all. “Have you had a memory lapse or something, Daniel?”
“What? No, I just…”
“Daniel, I haven’t yelled at you in a long time. I thought we were past this. Do I still have to prove that I trust you know what you’re doing?”
“It’s not that. Considering where we are and… well, what we’ve been doing… I figured you might want stricter guidelines in letting each other know where we were at all times. Since I’m technically no longer in the room, I thought I’d tell you what I was doing in case…”
“Something bad happened,” Jason finished, but only to Jack. He gave Jack a sympathetic look then keyed his mic. “What’s Adriann feel about the place down there?”
“I do not sense any danger,” Adriann answered. “I would not have come down here if it had been otherwise.”
“That’s a given, I think,” Jack replied. “We’re on our way.”
“Roger that, Daniel out.”
Jason stared at him and Jack sighed. “We’ve gotta go, Jace. We can get back to this later.”
“They’re not in danger, don’t need us right away. It was a courtesy call, Jack,” Jason replied, leaning in to brush his lips against Jack’s. His groin against Jack’s.
“Jason,” Jack objected, but he didn’t stop him, either.
“A quick one,” Jason suggested as he opened his trousers.
“Quick what exactly?” Jack asked as he slid his hand inside and wrapped his fingers around Jason’s half-hard cock. “Hand jobs are messy,” he teased, though he kept stroking, loving how Jason’s hips automatically matched the rhythm of his hand.
Jason threaded his fingers through Jack’s hair and breathed against his cheek, “Suck me.”
Jack was suddenly very thankful they’d shut the door. He dropped to his knees and pulled Jason’s trousers down as he went. Stroking him a few times in a wonderful tease, Jack wasted no more time and took Jason’s stiff cock into his mouth.
“Yes,” Jason gasped, whispering more words of encouragement until all he could do was pant and thrust. Then his fingers tightened and a high-pitched moan escaped him as he came. He didn’t want the follow-through of clean-up; he wanted to use his afterglow on Jack. He dropped to his knees and kissed him hard while his hands busied themselves with Jack’s trousers.
Cock now in hand, he stroked fervently, quickly, and pushed Jack backward until he was on the floor and resting on his forearms. Jason bent over him and took his cock into his mouth, sucking, licking, bobbing up and down until he opened his throat and pulled at Jack’s hips, giving him the go-ahead.
Jack gently grabbed his hair and thrust, gasping barely-heard words as he watched his cock slide between those gorgeous lips. Lasting only a minute or so, he returned control to Jason and his lover sucked harder, faster, and it wasn’t long till Jack’s muscles locked and he was pouring down his lover’s throat.
Pulling back to his knees, it was Jack’s turn to kiss Jason hard, lasting awhile as they shared each other’s come. Buttoning up their trousers and standing up, Jason pulled Jack into his arms once more, kissing him slowly. “Thanks,” he said with a sated smile.
“Ditto,” Jack answered. “Now we go see what they’re up to?”
Jason sniggered at the unintentional pun and let go of Jack’s hand as they left the security office. He keyed his mic to call Alex. “Alex, wanna meet us in Baal’s suite?”
“We’re already on our way.”
“Good man,” Jason replied.
A few seconds passed, then Jack said, “It’ll be hard for him to find someone else, you know. Now that he’s getting used to this thing we have.”
“Polyamorous relationship,” Jason teased.
“Thing is shorter,” Jack grinned.
“I know. And I agree, it’ll be hard, but somehow, I don’t think it’ll be too hard when he finds the right person.”
“Ever consider he might not let himself?”
“Yeah, and we talked about it.”
“And he knows that it’s in his best emotional interest to distance himself.” He paused, then carefully said, “Eventually.”
Jack slowed his steps to give him a long look, seeing something he understood. Attachment. “Eventually,” he replied. Neither said it but they weren’t ready for Alex to leave. As long as Daniel didn’t mind. While Daniel didn’t object, they both knew that when the time came, that would be that. It was a simple fact, nothing more. They loved Daniel more.
“He’s gonna take it hard,” Jason suddenly said as they walked into the long corridor that would take them to part of the fortress where Baal’s suite was housed.
“I don’t think so,” Jack replied after thinking it over. “I think that he’ll find someone else before Daniel’s had enough with sharing you.”
“And you,” Jason said with slight annoyance.
“You know what I mean, Jace. I enjoy Alex but I’m not with him as often as you are. Let’s face it. When I was with him here, it was the first time since Hawaii.” He suddenly yawned then shook his head to clear it. “Shit.”
Jason nodded and tried not to yawn as well. He failed. “We haven’t gotten any sleep. How long now till we check in?”
Jack checked his watch and set an alarm. “Fifteen hours. We need to check out what Daniel’s found, and then everyone drops what they’re doing, picks a room, and gets some damn shut-eye. I think Adriann and his folks will help us set up watches. I know Teal’c will want to take a shift but he needs his kel-no-reem so I think we’ll–“
“We can take care of that,” Ophius said as he and Alex appeared from a connecting corridor.
Jack’s brows went up. “Heard all that, did you?”
“Here and here,” Ophius said, tapping his temple and then his ear. “We have already decided to stand guard since this is to be our second home. We are invested in keeping an eye on it.”
“I think you need to add us to that list,” Jack told him, trying to sound pleasant but there was a proprietary edge to his voice. Ophius, however, put him at ease when he nodded agreement, then Jack found himself surprised when the man clapped him on the shoulder. “There is no problem, Jack. We all know what it is you’re after here and have no problems with it.”
“Did you know you’re using contractions like Adriann does?”
“It took a while but your language seems to be dependent on them.”
“Not really. ‘It’s’ is shorter to say than ‘it is,'” Jack grinned. “It’s just laziness.” He leaned a little to his right to catch Alex’s eye but Alex wasn’t looking at him. In fact, he was looking everywhere but at Jack and Jason. Jack exchanged a look with Jason and Jason took a step backward and around so that he was walking next to his 2IC.
Slipping an arm over Alex’s shoulders, it was his friend’s turn to be surprised. “You’re quiet,” he said. “Something wrong?”
“No,” Alex answered and stuffed his hands in his pockets to resist the urge to put his arm around Jason’s waist as if they were strolling through the park. “Just feeling a little… embarrassed.”
“What went on between you and Ophius, you mean?” Jack asked.
When Alex didn’t answer and, in fact, blushed a bit, Jason abruptly stopped and took Alex’s face in his hands. In front of Jack and Ophius, he purposely kissed him. Close-mouthed but lovingly, then contradicted it with a gentle cuff upside the head, making Alex’s eyes widen.
“We know, accept and understand your being with Ophius. It’s not a secret and it’s not that private. Why does our knowing bother you?”
Alex blushed more hotly on his cheeks and took a few steps away, forcing the others to step along with him if they wanted to. But they didn’t move. He sighed and gestured down the hall. “Can we keep walking, please? I’ll answer you, Jason. Let’s just keep going while I figure out how to say it.”
Jason cringed, silently berating himself. He didn’t have a problem sharing his feelings but tended to forget that Alex did. In fact, there were a lot of things the man wasn’t used to doing. Being with Ophius, and having it accepted by his lovers, was one of them.
“Sorry, Alex,” he said, sighing as they began walking again. “You don’t have to talk. I sometimes forget that it’s hard for you.”
“If I can learn to be open, Alex,” Jack told him seriously, “so can you. My ex-wife left me because I didn’t know how.”
“Thanks for saying,” Alex quickly said, and earnestly. “Really, thanks.” He gave Ophius an apologetic look and felt another blush–of a different kind this time–when Ophius gave him a smile that was meant only for him. A secretive, seductive smile. The same sort of smile that he’d received earlier just before Ophius had pinned him to a wall and fucked him stupid.
He cleared his throat at the rest of that memory as they entered Baal’s suite and all four of them stared at the wide staircase that disappeared into the floor.
Jason turned on his flashlight and touched his radio. “Daniel, report.”
Daniel snorted into his radio. “Cute, Jace. Come down here. It’s pretty incredible stuff.”
“Uh oh,” Jack quipped as he went first. “Means he found some cool-assed writing and we’ll have to strap him to a bed to get some sleep.”
“So, standard operating procedure then,” Jason quipped as he descended the steps first and received a gentle cuff in the back of the head as Jack’s response. Reaching the bottom, they found the massive underground room lit. Jason pursed his lips at the large structure to their right, finding Daniel was already going over its reddish stone walls. They’d seen a device like it before when they’d encountered the faulty time device.
Approaching, Jack suddenly looked around, double-checking for conical structures with needle-eye holes. Finding none, he breathed a sigh of relief. In their place were tables, benches, and couches strewn in several groups. The walls, from what he could see, were imprinted with rounded rectangular designs, similar to the holoscreen design only these looked more like empty picture frames since all of them were blank. They lined the walls from ceiling to floor in two rows and were broken only by recessed ‘alcoves’ containing benches and pots next to them.
Jason veered toward one of them, wondering if the pots had contained plants. When he reached one, he found it clean and empty. Not even a trace of dust. Looking up at the two rounded rectangles in front of him, he saw smaller panels, like miniature keyboards, underneath them. He cued his radio. “Sam, come in.”
“What is it, Jason?”
Exchanging looks with Jack, he asked, “What’re you doing right now?”
“Checking over the engine room of the second Hatak, why?”
“We’re in an underground chamber below Baal’s quarters. Damn thing is huge. There’re some fancy panels on the walls that sort of looked like etched holoscreens. Thought you might wanna take a look at them when you’re done there.”
“Goa’uld?” she asked.
“On my way,” she said quickly and Jason grinned at the others. They could all imagine the unheard, “Ooh,” prefacing her words.
“Teal’c will probably come with her,” Jack said absently as he walked across the huge room toward the other Ancients’ device, and Daniel. “Daniel, don’t you dare turn on anything.”
“Funny,” Daniel answered, then made a sweeping gesture. “I couldn’t figure it out if I tried. I can barely read what’s here.” While Adriann studied the device, Daniel’s brow knotted and he went back to reading the etched lettering covering the separate three-sided wall that surrounded the stone ‘console’.
Jack and the others were soon with Adriann, looking over the device. Like the other Ancients’ technology they’d encountered, this one had a raised stone arm on one end with a round control gemstone in the middle. On the flat surface, the square blocks of stone were in three rows of eight but unlike the other device, this one’s blocks were flush with the surface edge of the entire console; none of them were raised or recessed.
“This was a time device?” Adriann asked Jack who got only to within a foot of the console and no more.
“The other one was. Don’t have a clue what this one does but it looks just like it. The only things that are missing are the columns and conical structures that surrounded the stargate.”
“Then this can’t be a time device,” Ophius said simply. Footfalls echoed the stone floor and they looked across the room to find Talen, Ghanen, Sam and Teal’c heading toward them.
Jason caught Sam’s attention and pointed to the walls of the chamber. “That’s what I was talking about.” He turned to Jack. “You know, this console might control whatever those panels are supposed to display.”
Daniel suddenly turned from his wall, went to the next one, then stepped away from the console and looked about the room. “It’s a communications center.”
Jack made a face. “How do you figure?”
“Okay, I’m just guessing, but a few words that I can read keep repeating themselves. There’s mitteres, or mittere, which is transmit. There’s scribesten, which I’m assuming is close to scribere, or write. There’s spectarum, or spectare, to view, abitinus is another word for abitus or way out. Linguar, which I’m assuming is lingua or tongue, probably meaning speak or speech. It’s some sort of communication center. Maybe a way to speak to their colonies or to Earth, I don’t know.”
Jack nodded and grinned when he found Sam nodding in agreement as she looked at the ‘viewers’ on the wall nearest the console platform. “Okay. So…” He looked around him and sighed. “Probably take a while, eh?”
Daniel grinned. “For me, yes, a really long while. But we mentioned bringing Eros here so…”
“Only one problem,” and Jack gestured a finger at Adriann. “Eros gets a look at this place, he’ll see it as belonging to his race, ergo his family, and suddenly you’ll have the two of them fighting over who gets to keep the pink slip.”
Daniel made a face that matched Jack’s, lip curling in distaste. “Yeah, hadn’t thought of that.” He sighed and looked around him, oblivious to the looks Adriann, Ophius, Talen and Ghanen were giving him and Jack. Then Adriann walked over to him, peering intently, though he was trying very hard not to read Daniel’s mind.
“Eros is the name of the Ancient Hammond told me about?”
Daniel nodded. “The only living one as far as we know. We met him on another planet inhabited by the Ancients. Jason and Alex activated his sleep capsule and awakened him.” He went on to tell Adriann what Hammond had left out, about their mission in meeting him, discovering his powers, and the enemy alien that had been hiding in the Tok’ra, Delek. “If anyone can decipher the writings here, it’s Eros. But the thing is, because this entire complex, fortress, whatever, was originally a home to the Ancients, he might just try to claim it out from under you.”
Adriann’s eyes half-lidded and he groaned. “Ancestral rights.”
Adriann thought it over, then shook his head. “He can’t possibly oversee everything that’s been left by his family. If he wants to visit and help manage it, fine, but I am claiming it as a second home for the Var’chol’si. If we fight over it, we fight over it.”
“I don’t think he’ll fight over it, but he is an Ancient,” Jack warned.
“Meaning what?” Adriann asked, surprised and a little amused.
“He… has family,” Daniel told him. “If you two are at odds, some of them might take to being a little overprotective and they can be nasty when they want to be.”
Adriann caught the image of lightning in Daniel’s mind. “You’re serious? Over an enemy of the Goa’uld?”
“Actually, most of them don’t give a shit,” Jack informed him, “but they do care about leaving around ‘working’ technology.”
“Yeah, I found that out,” Sam told him, and explained quickly about Orlin and the weapon she’d figured out how to operate.
“This does not appear to be working,” Talen said with a wave of her hand. “Perhaps it is no longer able to.”
“True,” Daniel agreed. “They could have sabotaged it before they left. But we should bring Eros here anyway, to check it over.”
Adriann sighed, then finally nodded. “It is only fair.” He turned, done scanning the room, and headed for the stairs. “While you are doing that, I believe I’ll attempt more interrogations. Daniel, where are your recording devices?”
“In my pack in the main hall.”
“Hold on,” Jack said, snapping his fingers, the signal for attention. “Before we contact Eros, I’d like us to get some rest. We need it and we can’t run on fumes anymore, which is what I’m on right now. Take whatever bedrooms you find and bed down there.”
“I shall require only kel-no-reem before I take–“
“No offense, Teal’c,” Adriann said, cutting him off, “but it’s not necessary. Do so if you wish, but we will be taking up the guard duty responsibility. This is our place now, and therefore, that particular duty now falls on us. Some of the Brethren will be arriving soon and will be managing the kitchens and housekeeping that the slaves once managed.”
“Those slaves were sent home, weren’t they?” Jack asked.
Teal’c bowed his head once. “Some of them stated their wish to remain here since they have nowhere to go. Once they realized the Goa’uld were no longer in charge, they felt no need to join others on yet another strange world.” Teal’c tilted his head in his version of a shrug. “I saw no reason to convince them to leave, but I did inform them that an agreement of services rendered for trade would have to be handled between themselves and the Residents.”
“Good idea,” Jack answered shortly and when Teal’c gave him a raised eyebrow at his two-word response, he shrugged. “It’s been a long, scary day.” He looked around, then hooked Daniel’s left arm through his right and Jason’s right through his left, and gestured a nod of his head at Alex. “Shall we go?”
“Jack, we can’t share a bed,” Jason teased.
“Why not? Baal’s is big enough,” Jack teased back.
Daniel snorted and gave in to a few chuckles while Sam bit her lips together.
“What?” Jack asked, pretending he had no idea why they were laughing.
By the time they’d reached the corridor with the rooms, Jason’s words had sunk in. There was no way four of them were sleeping in one room no matter how big the beds were. They’d split up, with Jason and Alex taking one room, Jack and Daniel another. And within a few minutes of hitting the mattress to actually sleep, all four men’s fatigue had hit them.
While they were sleeping, Sam left the interrogations to Adriann and his kin while she and Teal’c took the opportunity to get back to the ships’ hangar.
“Are you alright, Major Carter?” he asked as they entered the second Hatak vessel and headed for the engine room.
“Yeah, why?” she asked, purposely making herself busy with the computer’s engine control system.
“Does the presence of the Goa’uld bother you that much?” he asked.
“Yeah, it does,” she admitted and glanced at Teal’c before looking back at the console.
“Could you explain?” he pressed, placing a hand on her back. Sam paused, trying to focus those bits of memory she’d gotten better at accessing. This time, however, it was harder to do. “It’s Jolinar. I get creeped out looking at Baal and it’s not just because he’s a Goa’uld with a nasty reputation.”
“Creeped out?” he asked, though he wasn’t asking for a definition. He knew what it meant.
She turned to him, shaking her head as she sat on the edge of the computer console. “It’s feelings only, Teal’c,” she said with exasperation. “Sometimes I’m really glad she didn’t blend completely with me and other times it’s aggravating. There are things in her past, ten years ago and more, where all I get are feelings but no memory. In Baal’s case, I get really creeped out and I don’t want to know why. If I confront him, I have a feeling he’ll taunt me or even worse, tell me what happened before, and I don’t want anyone else to know, never mind me.”
Teal’c thought back to his own past, all the things he’d done while First Prime, and nodded as he rubbed her back. “I understand.”
She looked up and smiled at him. “Thanks for not pushing.”
“You are welcome. I would not do so because it would be hypocritical of me to expect you to do something I myself am unwilling to do.”
She gave him a long look before turning and giving him a hug. He placed his arms around her, felt her body warm against his, and recognized the way she relaxed into him. Bending his head, he kissed her as she lifted her face and it was only seconds before she had them both on the floor.
Ten hours later. It was ten hours later. Jack narrowed his eyes and stared at his watch. With a sigh of disbelief, he groaned and set his watch back on the bedside table. He looked to his left and found Daniel without cover, sprawled on his back, arms overhead and legs spread, one knee bent. It was a tempting sight. So very tempting. They’d gone to bed in their t-shirts and shorts, so Jack couldn’t see everything, but Daniel still looked sexy as shit with his shirt rucked up and those shorts just begging to be explored.
Still, it was nice to be able to lie there and stare. He knew the moment he turned on his side, he’d do more and what he should do is get cleaned up and get something to eat. Then contact Eros. And Jack knew he couldn’t send anyone else to do it. He’d have to go himself and take advantage of Eros’ feelings for him. For reasons beyond Jack, Eros hadn’t been fascinated with Sam or Jason’s teammate, Anna. Instead, he’d been interested in men, and in Jack in particular.
Jack started to wonder when they’d come across a super being who had a hard-on for Sam. It was her turn, after all.
Daniel opened his eyes, and looking to his right, caught Jack staring off into space, thinking. “Hey,” he said sleepily.
Jack looked up, then grinned and sat up. “Hey. I think we got some sleep.”
“Yeah?” Daniel asked, and looked at the watch he’d left on his wrist. His eyes widened. “Holy shit. I guess.” He sat up and scrubbed at his hair.
Jack glanced at him but the glance turned into a look as he stared. Daniel’s face was a little puffy, blue eyes half-hidden by drooping eyelids, and he probably needed to brush his teeth. Jack didn’t care. He gave in to impulse since it was safe to do so and lunged, knocking Daniel onto his back even as his mouth latched onto his target.
Daniel made a noise of surprise, then kissed him back. He kept his hands to Jack’s shoulders, however, because if he felt anything else–other than the part of Jack’s body pressed against his own–they wouldn’t be getting out of bed for another half hour. Breaking off slowly, Daniel grinned up at the handsome face looming over his.
“Let me guess. You couldn’t resist?”
“You guessed right,” Jack answered and sighed as he looked Daniel over. His job and duty had him sitting up and rolling out of bed, groaning all the way. They dressed silently, occasionally glancing at each other, wishing they could just go back to bed. But… in their own bed at home. As they laced their boots, the door ‘dissolved’ open and Jason and Alex walked in, looking as sleepy as Jack and Daniel.
“You guys just wake up?” Daniel asked.
Jason grinned. “Like you?”
“Oh yeah,” Jack answered. “Get some rest?”
Jason looked sharply at Alex, worry on his face, and Alex grimaced. “Fortunately Jason slept like a dead man. I kept waking up.”
Daniel went to him, touching his shoulder. “Nightmares?”
Alex shook his head. “I don’t know. They weren’t nightmares. I would just wake up out of breath.” Alex was not about to explain why. His dreams were something he had to work out for himself.
Jason shook his head at Daniel and Jack, silently telling them to drop it, which meant Alex hadn’t confided in him, either. All three of them figured it had to do with Jalen and each man knew that sometimes dreams or nightmares couldn’t be talked through.
“Well, let’s go see what the bad guys are doing,” Jack said, touching Alex’s arm as he walked past and out the door. They left the room as Jack added, “Just a quick stop, let them know what the plan is, though they probably already know.” He looked over his shoulder at Daniel. “I’ll make a quick trip home, let Hammond know that we’re gonna need Eros’ help.”
Daniel nodded silently, but as they moved down the corridor, he thought about the last time he’d had a real nightmare. Three years almost, and coincidentally, it had been about Baal. Or rather, his human Loh’tar. Daniel still didn’t know that man’s name. It suddenly came to him and he wondered where that creep was.
“The last nightmare I had was about Baal’s Lohtar,” he said, glancing at Alex to intimate a sharing attitude. “It may not sound like it, Alex, but he was worse than Jalen.”
Alex blinked at him. “Worse?”
Daniel quickly glanced at Jack and Jason. “Is he here? Baal said he wasn’t, but maybe he meant he wasn’t involved in his little activities.”
“I have no idea,” Jack said, frowning. “Teal’c didn’t mention him when he gave us the update on the slaves.”
Daniel shook his head. “I should’ve asked. He’s one to watch.”
As they turned down another corridor, heading for the cells, Daniel suddenly shivered. He slowed his walk as they came to an intersecting short corridor on their left, one that dead-ended. It held three cells. Beyond it were four other dead-end corridors, two on each side of the main corridor. Beyond that, on the right, was another short corridor that dead-ended but instead of a wall, it led to a large room meant for interrogation.
Without realizing why, Daniel ignored his teammates as they went for the interrogation room. He turned down the first cell corridor on the left, his attention on the only lit cell. The center. He didn’t realize he’d been holding his breath till he stopped before approaching the cell. He could barely see the occupant inside, but noticed they were sitting on the floor–normally. The cell didn’t have the gravity generator turned on and only a red light on the control panel let Daniel know a forcefield was in place.
He hadn’t known that the cells had normal forcefields so he was taken aback for a moment. Teal’c hadn’t mentioned it and neither had Adriann. Of course, Daniel hadn’t asked, either. He hadn’t exactly been thinking about who else might be occupying the cells. He was only concerned for everyone’s safety and whether or not there was anything interesting to see.
Daniel was preparing to step forward and show himself when a hand rested on his shoulder, making him jump back and into Jack.
“What’s goin’ on?” Jack asked, and Daniel saw Jason and Alex behind him, looking at him with curious concern.
Daniel shook his head quickly, dismissively. “Spooking myself, I think.” His attention was then on the cell when a voice bitterly asked, “Come for me, at last?” Daniel shivered again, then forced himself to step before the cell. The face registered surprise when he saw Daniel, clearly expecting someone else. The man inside the cell was the last person Daniel wanted to see. At least he was behind a shield, Daniel thought. He didn’t like the strange, uncomfortable feeling the man evoked in him. It wasn’t fear. It was horror. Daniel had never been able to figure out why, either, and somehow, that made it worse.
“That the one?” Jason asked, coming to stand just behind Daniel’s left shoulder. Daniel nodded and felt some measure of satisfaction when the slave’s eyes widened with shock as he took in Jason’s appearance. It didn’t take him long to figure out who Jason was–the uniform helped–and his attention went back to Daniel.
“I was not expecting you,” he said.
Daniel nodded. “One of my friends, I think.”
“Friends?” the slave asked. “Those beings are your friends?”
“Daniel, we’ll be in with Adriann,” Jack said, interrupting, thumbing in the direction of the large room. “You gonna stay here?”
“Okay.” Jack wasn’t clueless to Daniel’s feelings. He knew that Daniel needed to face this slave for whatever demons he still needed to vanquish. Jack understood that very well, though he doubted he’d ever be as outwardly calm as Daniel in facing old enemies.
Daniel nodded once and looked meaningfully at Jason. “Go. I’ll be fine.” Jack and Alex left the short corridor but Jason remained. Out of sight of the slave, he leaned against the wall next to the first cell and crossed his arms and ankles. He was staying put, and Daniel could sense his protectiveness. Another time, it would have annoyed him. It didn’t this time. Jason had been around during the nightmares so he had a pretty good idea how Daniel was feeling right now.
Daniel crossed his arms and stared at the slave as the man got to his feet. “Yeah, they’re my friends.” The slave smirked and Daniel purposely clarified, “Close friends.”
The slave lost his sarcastic smile for a split second before it twisted into a leer. “I see you are not the only one to enjoy the attention of someone powerful.”
“Big difference, I think,” Daniel told him. Before the slave could reply, Daniel asked, “What’s your name?”
“Because I don’t know it,” Daniel said as if it were obvious. “I could just call you Loh’tar, but since Camulus has taken that position from you–“
“He took nothing from me,” the slave spat.
Daniel crowed inside, knowing he’d hit a nerve. Camulus had taken the coveted position from the slave, regardless of what Baal had said about Camulus position. “Your name?”
“Leal,” the slave answered in a drawl, his expression blank.
“Leal,” Daniel copied, stifling the urge to shiver again as he remembered his time aboard the space station. It hadn’t been that hard an experience, but the stress level had been unbelievably high, made even more so after learning the truth about this Loh’tar. Staring at him, Daniel remembered the flirty behavior, the seductive manner which Leal had thought would gain him sexual favors. Daniel couldn’t get rid of the mixed revulsion and fascination he felt for this slave.
Leal stepped forward, looking curiously to his left but saw nothing. “Who is with you?” he asked.
“No one,” Daniel lied.
“Someone is,” Leal said with suspicion, staring at Daniel’s face… then his body. “It does not matter,” he said, letting his eyes roam. “Why are you here?”
“Specify,” Daniel asked.
“You are visiting me. Why? I am sure you have better things to be doing. Or better people.”
Daniel couldn’t miss the tone. Leal was taunting him, as Daniel had been afraid he would. And one reason he wished Jason would leave.
“I remember how you looked at me.”
“What’re you talking about?”
“When I saw the fear in your eyes. I thought you were simply a novice, and I think that maybe in some ways, you still are.” Wearing the same black garb that Daniel had seen him in before, Leal suddenly opened the jerkin and unlaced his trousers. “Let me go and I promise I will please you.” He licked his lips, then turned around and dropped slowly to his knees. “I could please you in many wonderful ways,” he said, caressing his ass with both hands.
Daniel fought off the urge to turn and walk away. “I’m afraid I’ll have to decline your generous offer.”
“You remember my invitation?” Leal asked, looking over his shoulder, then turning slowly on a knee as his eyes fixed on Daniel’s groin before moving up his body to settle on his face.
“I remember,” Daniel answered and tried to shift the bizarre conversation. “Why did Baal place you second?”
Leal scowled as he abruptly got to his feet and made for the back of the cell. “You will not get me to betray my master.”
“Pfft!” Daniel mocked. “That’s a load of crap. You don’t think he’s any more your master than a toadstool. You want his power, you said it yourself. And I’ll just bet you went too far and let him see it. Baal doesn’t like competition from his slaves. Now that he has Camulus, you’ve been forced to pay for your insolence and bide your time.”
“Had to service Camulus, too, haven’t you?”
“So have you,” Leal hissed.
“No, I was thankfully rescued from that bastard. But I don’t need Camulus, or Baal, to get my rocks off. I have the real thing.”
Leal suddenly roared in rage and lunged at Daniel, making Daniel flinch in alarm. Leal hit the forcefield and was thrown back, the fall knocking him unconscious.
Jason was at Daniel’s side in seconds, there to see Leal hit the ground. The slave was probably knocked out cold but just in case, Jason turned off the forcefield and went forward to check.
“Be careful,” Daniel warned, pointing his sidearm, but he didn’t feel any threat or danger as Jason bent to feel for a pulse.
“Alive, probably unharmed but they’ll check in a while.”
“Why is he still here?” Daniel wondered aloud as the forcefield went back up and he and Jason went for the interrogation room.
“Teal’c probably figured he was as guilty as the First Prime,” Jason replied just as Jack was coming back out.
“Get what you wanted?” Jack asked.
“Not really,” Daniel answered, “but I didn’t expect to so nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
“Right. Well, I’m off. Did you want to hang around here or…?”
“Actually,” Daniel said as he and Jason followed Jack down the corridor toward the main hall and exit. “I could probably use another camera as well as a memory chip for the camera Adriann’s using. Maybe grab some of my other notebooks. Sam probably needs something.”
“She’s meeting us at the gate. Needs her reading equipment, or whatever she calls it. Has to do with energy output and input so she can make sure the ships don’t have some failsafe tampering device.”
“That’s all we’d need,” Jason replied.
Jack gave Daniel a long look as they entered the hall and made for the door. “You okay?”
Daniel nodded. “Why?”
“You seem distracted.”
Exiting the building, Jason said, “You would too if that Loh’tar of Baal’s offered up his ass to you for his freedom.”
Jack’s brow went up. “Did he really?”
Daniel sighed. “He’s even worse than when I last saw him, except this time, he’s no longer top slave and he’s pretty pissed.”
“Except he’s also an idiot,” Jason added, smirking. “Daniel baited him and that damn fool fell for it and bolted at him.” Jack brow went up again and Jason nodded. “Right into the forcefield. Fucking moron.”
Daniel was about to say something when they saw Sam wave to them and Jack waved with two fingers, circling once. Sam turned to the DHD and began dialing.
“And his condition after?” Jack asked Daniel.
“He’s alive,” he answered, and remembering Leal’s greeting to him when he thought he was someone else, added, “Though he might wish otherwise once the Brethren show up and scare the hell out of him.”
“What, the vampires aren’t enough?” Jack asked.
“The Brethren have gold eyes, remember?” Daniel said, allowing himself a bit of a nasty grin. “They look like animals and they eat meat almost exclusively. I can only imagine what Adriann’s going to tell Rone.”
After Jack and Daniel returned to Baal’s planet, Jack turned around and began dialing Eros’ coordinates. “I’ll be back soon.”
Daniel unclipped his pack as he gave Jack a look. “Well, soonish.”
Jack sighed. “I’m not doing anything. I’ll ask him to come back with me. Either he comes back with me, or he doesn’t. Either way, I’ll be returning in half an hour.”
“Or so,” Daniel said, grinning. “How long has it been since Eros has seen you? Remember, he’s got this thing. And another thing to help out that thing.”
“Don’t be an ass,” Jack snapped as the wormhole engaged, then walked smartly through the event horizon before Daniel could answer. Daniel sniggered to himself and set off for the fortress.
Jack exited the wormhole and into a rain shower. The weather was spring-like so at least they weren’t cold, but the drops spattered against Jack’s sunshades and he pulled his cap down. “Swell,” he muttered and jogged around the temple and toward the home Eros had made for himself.
The single-surviving Ancient was alone most of the time, even though the SGC frequently sent researchers and students eager to exchange knowledge and experience. He had gladly become the teacher of his culture, but steadfastly refused to share his technology or visit the SGC, preferring that people come to him. He didn’t want to risk leaving it in case something happened while he was gone.
For that reason, Jack was almost sure Eros would say no to his invitation. Ancients planet or not, Eros might decide that leaving wasn’t in his best interests, considering that his people, though ascended, were very likely still guarding the planet. They had a funny attitude about involving themselves with human affairs. Their flesh-and-blood family member was the only exception, it seemed.
Jack raised his hand to knock but the door suddenly flew open and Eros appeared, wet, and obviously surprised and delighted. “Jack!” he said, mysteriously out of breath. “It is good to see you.”
“Good to see you, too,” Jack said as he stared at the young Ancient, having forgotten how exceptionally handsome he was. Pretty or beautiful weren’t terms Jack would apply to most men, though some definitely deserved it. Eros was one. His green eyes glittered brightly, set off by his shoulder-length wavy, brown hair. Tall, he had the advantage over Jack by a few inches, something else Jack had forgotten. Eros was young, and sometimes, Jack tended to think of young and ‘small’ in the same vein.
He looked over Eros’ wet hair and face and told himself not to look elsewhere. “Were you in the shower?”
“Shower?” he asked, puzzled.
“A place to get clean, like a bath.”
Eros still didn’t get it, then it dawned on him. “Clean? Oh, no, I have been in the rain,” and he thumbed behind him. Jack could only suppose he meant behind the house.
“Come in, come in,” Eros said, suddenly stepping out of the way and pulling Jack inside by his hand. Jack felt that tingling sensation and pulled his hand back, doing it without trying to offend. Eros didn’t seem to notice. He kept smiling at him, his face filled with such happiness that Jack choked back a groan. He did not come here to get laid.
“What brings you here?” Eros asked, not moving away or offering Jack anything to drink or eat.
That told Jack that Eros fully expected Jack to deliver a message and leave. For a moment, he felt sorry for the young man. Jack cleared his throat and said, “We found an Ancients’ planet being used by the Goa’uld. We’ve since liberated it with help from another race, who’re now occupying the planet and intend to remain there.”
Eros lost some of his smile. “Go on.”
“We’ve also found some technology, not working, and Daniel can’t translate it. I’m here to both ask you to come translate it or tell us what it is, and if it’s a weapon… well, either take possession or maybe… let us have it.” Most of Eros’ smile was gone, but he wasn’t frowning, either, so Jack figured that was a good thing.
Eros studied Jack’s eyes and deciding there was no deception there, nodded once. “Very well. But I will be gone long enough to investigate and secure, if necessary, and no more.”
Jack returned the nod, feeling uncomfortable. “Sorry.”
“For?” Eros asked.
“Coming to see you only for that. I… I’m just sorry that it’s the reason.”
Eros shrugged and turned, passing his hands down his damp loose-fitting shirt. “I will get into dry clothes.”
Jack reached out to take his arm, feeling guilty, then pulled back, watching Eros walk away. He paused a moment, then followed, but hovered outside of the bedroom, not risking his actions being misconstrued, either by Eros or himself. Jack felt a strong pull toward him but it was something he told himself he could resist. If he wanted to.
It was damned hard to do when Eros reappeared in dark brown leather trousers, thigh-length blue linen shirt and short calf-high boots. The shirt had pockets and he fit a few small items into them from one of the drawers in the living room, drawing a curious eye from Jack.
“They are not weapons,” he said, faintly amused.
“I didn’t think they were,” Jack replied.
Eros went to the door and held it open. “Shall we go?” he asked simply, trying to appear friendly and unconcerned, but Jack saw that he wasn’t. The man was flatly disappointed. Jack cleared his throat and walked past him, out of the house. Eros was quickly in step with him as they made their way to the stargate and Jack wished he’d stop feeling guilty. He also felt something that contradicted the guilt.
Eros wasn’t flirting with him. At all. Nothing. Jack told himself he was being foolish for actually missing the attention. He couldn’t have it both ways, despite how he constantly kidded Daniel otherwise.
Approaching the DHD, he paused, thinking, reversing the coordinates in his mind with the new point-of-origin glyph, then began to dial. He looked up as he hit the second glyph and caught Eros watching him.
Eros quickly looked away, murmuring, “The rain has stopped.”
Jack pressed the third glyph, answering, “I guess so,” and feeling stupid.
“It has rained off and on for the last two days,” Eros went on, scanning the sky.
Jack sighed. “I’m sorry, Eros. Maybe I should have sent Daniel to ask you.” He punched the remaining glyphs quickly and pressed the center dome. The wormhole activated and he started around Eros then stopped when Eros didn’t follow. Eros was looking at the ground, then gradually, he looked up into Jack’s face.
“It is not you, Jack,” he said, then reached for his hand and Jack let him take it. They stepped through the event horizon.
Coming out the other side, Jack let go of his hand and waited while Eros got his breath back. The man, despite being an Ancient, hadn’t traveled through the gate since his awakening. It tended to disorient when you weren’t used to the cold.
Eros bent over, breathing deeply, and feeling right again, straightened and nodded at Jack. “It has been a long time,” he said, laughing a little in embarrassment.
“I just realized that,” Jack answered, and waited till Eros was ready. When the young man looked to his left and caught sight of the building, he stared, almost transfixed. “Something wrong?”
“No,” Eros answered, shaking his head and started for the building.
Jack wondered at what Eros had said before they’d entered the gate and part of him told him to leave it alone. A few years ago, Jack would have let the subject die. “If it isn’t me that’s the problem, what is it?”
Eros looked at him in surprise. “It is me,” he answered, his steps slowing as he approached the structure, eyes fixed on it in remembrance. A few yards from the entrance, he stopped. “Seeing you… made me feel… longing again. I,” and he paused a bit longer, struggling with the words.
Jack frowned and threw caution to the wind by touching Eros shoulder. “You don’t need to explain anything to me, but I am here if you want someone to listen.”
Eros smiled wanly. “I am alone.”
Jack started to tell him he wasn’t, till he realized Eros meant lonely. He took a deep breath and pointed inside. “It won’t help, me saying this, but inside, you won’t be.”
“That is not what I was meaning,” Eros told him quietly.
“I know,” Jack answered. He started to say something else but caught the furrow between Eros’ brows as he stared at the structure. Then Eros suddenly grimaced and bent over, palms on both temples. “What’s wrong?” Jack asked with alarm, taking Eros by the shoulders and steering him away from the structure.
Eros reached out and grabbed Jack’s arm, halting them both. “No, I will be well,” but he grimaced again and fell to his knees, making Jack doubt him.
Jack went to his knees in front of him, not knowing what to do other than rub the man’s back or hold him in some way. “You aren’t well. What’s wrong? What’s attacking you?”
“Not an attack,” Eros gasped through gritted teeth. “Just too many minds seeking mine!” He then yelled in pain and slumped down in Jack’s lap, arms around him, hands clutching his back.
Jack suddenly knew what must be wrong and roared, “Stop scanning him!”
Two seconds later, Eros’ tense body abruptly collapsed, his face nuzzled against Jack’s belly. He breathed in gulps of air and tried to calm himself, whispering, “Better.” All Jack could think to do was rub his back and pet his hair, pushing the sweat-damp bangs out of his face from his wet brow.
Out of the front door ran Daniel, Jason, Adriann and Talen. They came to a stop a few yards away and approached slowly, then suddenly Talen backhanded Adriann in the chest.
“I told you to back off,” she accused softly before bending next to them and touching Eros’ forehead. “Forgive us,” she told him. “We meant no harm.”
“Why’d he react like that?” Jack asked her.
“He’s empathic and can sense telepathic contact. Our way hurt him. We’re so used to direct contact and he cannot take that. At least, not until he has become used to us.”
Daniel squatted down next to Jack, rubbing his back absent-mindedly. “You okay?” he asked.
Jack gave him a puzzled frown. “I’m not the one who had a mind attack,” he said, then softened the words with, “Yes, Daniel, I’m fine, stop your worrying.”
“Can’t help it. I sense worry and guilt in both of you.”
“Guilt?” Adriann asked and Jack instantly held up a finger.
“Don’t even think about it.”
Jason couldn’t help grinning at the inadvertent pun, then touched Daniel’s arm. “Come on, let’s give them recuperation time.”
“No need,” Eros said, voice muffled by Jack’s trousers and Jack felt the warmth of his breath. Fortunately, he was dressed to the left or it would have been awkward to say the least. Eros slowly sat up, eyes still closed, groaning as Talen massaged the back of his neck. “You have a skilled touch,” he said as he took her hand, kissed it, then let it go.
She sat back, taking a better look at him now that she wasn’t ministering to him. “My, are you not a beautiful creature.” She reached up and tweaked a few of his hairs back into place.
He grinned a little at her compliment. “You are generous,” he answered and opened his eyes. He blinked, then smiled a bit more warmly. “And beautiful,” he added. She got to her feet as did Jack and they both helped him to his. Then Eros turned and looked in Adriann’s direction. And froze. He felt an unbelievable urge to grab and kiss and illogically, it annoyed him.
“Hello,” he said.
Daniel cleared his throat. “Sorry. Eros, this is Adriann. Adriann, Eros.”
Adriann nodded once, and Eros did the same. They seemed to stare unblinking at each other till Jack and Daniel both cleared their throats.
“Shall we go?” Jack asked.
“Yes, yes,” Adriann said and smiled apologetically. “Please forgive me. I did not mean to hurt you.”
“We,” Talen corrected.
“I didn’t think our contact would hurt an empath,” Adriann explained further.
Eros rubbed at his temple, saying nothing as he tried a smile that only made him look like he was nauseous. “I understand,” he said. “Daniel, Jack, what is it you wish me to look at for you?”
“Are you up to it?” Daniel asked. “Why don’t you come inside and lay down.”
“No, no, I am well,” Eros told them and waved off their concern as he gestured at the building. Without waiting, he started for the doors.
Adriann watched him, but didn’t move, waiting instead for Daniel and the others to go first. Stepping behind Talen, he looked up as he heard a rumble behind him and stopped in the doorway. “Talen,” he called out in worry. She stopped and went to the door, looking outside.
“What is that?” she asked just before a lightning bolt hit the ground in front of her, trailing electrical current in spidery fingers.
Eros spun around and yelled to the door and ceiling. “No! It was an accident!” To everyone else, he said frantically, “Get underground, run!”
“What the hell’s going on?” Daniel asked as Adriann hurried past, grabbing his hand.
“My people!” Eros called after him.
“Ascended?” Daniel asked, trying to halt but Adriann wouldn’t let him.
Jack and Jason ran to the door and looked out just as two bolts came down. “Oh fuck,” Jason yelled and they both ran, Talen darting after.
Eros trailed behind, yelling repeatedly at the ceiling, “No! It was an accident!”
“It’s the same shit that happened on Kheb!” Jack yelled to Daniel, who kept trying to stop, but at hearing those words, ceased trying to stop and ran hard down the corridor with Adriann still holding his hand. “Why are they attacking us?” Jack called to Eros behind them.
“For being their allies!”
“We did not mean to hurt you!” Adriann shouted.
“They are not listening to me!” Eros screamed back. “Where are you going? Go underground!”
They turned down one corridor after another, and kept running because soon, three glowy shapes appeared through the walls. Eros tried to keep his body between the ascended and his friends as they ran but he knew that eventually, his so-called family would have enough of the chase and strike.
Daniel was starting to feel winded and realized too late that they’d missed the turn-off. Adriann was cursing because he too realized it. They ran on, toward the east end of the structure and down a long corridor with little lighting and no rooms to either side. Daniel started to get a bad feeling and suddenly skidded to a halt, dragging Adriann back with him.
No one was immediately behind them, though Daniel could hear footsteps in the distance. “We have to turn around Adriann. I have a bad feeling.”
“You should, considering what’s after us!” Adriann exclaimed.
“No, I mean ahead of us. We haven’t been here before. Do you know what’s ahead.”
“No, but…” Adriann began, then a glowy light appeared through the ceiling behind them and he grabbed Daniel’s hand again and began to back away. Daniel tried to resist, yelling at the incorporeal form. “It was a mistake, they meant no harm!”
A ghostly sound emanated from the form, then electrical current ran through the air, sizzling. No time to waste, Daniel and Adriann ran on and came to a T-section. “Split up!” Adriann yelled, but Daniel yelled back, “No!” and dragged him off to the right. Running hard, the electrical frisson began to explode the lights along the corridor, then a bolt snapped out like a whip and Daniel screamed in pain as his right leg was hit, sending him flying. He hit the ground hard and lost consciousness.
Adriann cried out and grabbed him about the waist just as another bolt hit the ground at his feet, barely missing them.
“No!” Eros yelled, finally close, but the few ascended did not listen. “No!” he repeated, “Adriann!” he yelled as a lightning bolt flashed the ground ahead, filling the air with acrid burning just as he caught the bodies of Adriann and Daniel flying through the air.
“No!” Eros screamed and threw his arm up in fury, fingers extended. He focused on the surrounding electricity, forcing it to coalesce within his hand and seconds later, streaks of lightning arced through the air toward the ceiling, hitting the glowing forms and throwing Eros back against the wall. Something inhuman screeched and exploded overhead just as Jack, Jason and Talen reached an unconscious Eros. Before them was one more glowing form and it hovered, refusing to let them pass.
Adriann’s heart beat wildly as he hung over the edge of some sort of drop-off. He used all his strength to dig holes into the edge of the granite, hoping it was enough to hold them. If he could only pull himself up, throw Daniel up on the ledge, but he didn’t dare risk Daniel’s life, not knowing what those creatures were doing. His friend’s body hung limply in his left arm and Adriann called out for help.
“Adriann!” came Talen’s cry, but to his ears she sounded farther away than she did in his mind. We’re being blocked! she told him.
“Shit,” Adriann whispered, scared. “Daniel, wake up.” He knew Daniel was still alive but he had been knocked to the ground hard just as the lightning had hit his leg and now hung in his arm, unconscious. Risking a glance, Adriann groaned at the blood slowly oozing from the burnt wound in Daniel’s calf, and groaned further at the blood that seeped down the side of Daniel’s face from the deep cut in his scalp. Adriann tightened his grip around Daniel’s waist and waited, knowing there was nothing he could do so long as Daniel remained unconscious.
He started to open his mind and try to contact the beings attacking him, hoping that he’d be able to reach them somehow, but a hissing, screeching sound shocked him silent. Hairs stood up on the back of his neck and instinct kicked in as he bared his fangs through a deep, menacing growl.
There was something in the blackness below, something Adriann didn’t like the sound of, and he realized that this was one of the things Baal had been hiding from him, giving up other secrets in order to camouflage this. The place where Baal disposed of the bodies of the men he’d grown tired of. “Disintegrating them by zat was too easy for you, wasn’t it?” Adriann growled, speaking out loud to cover the sounds from below. “You brought them here,” he went on, and tried to search out what lay in the dark below them. “To hear them shriek and scream. But for what?”
Then came the image in his mind as he caught hold of an alien presence, an animal’s instincts. Something large and silver, with several razor-sharp teeth…
Cont. in Trilogy 4