manips by Eilidh17

Hands of the Enemy
Part 2

With a sharply drawn breath, Cameron Mitchell surged upward. Dangerously listing to the right, he instinctively moved to stop himself from toppling over. His arm failed to respond as expected, and Cam instead collapsed onto his elbow. Tension in his shoulder and the chafing burn on his wrists confirmed his hands were tied behind him. He tugged experimentally against his bindings – thin leather by the feel of them. Puffing out a bothered breath when they refused to budge, he hung his head for a moment to get his bearings.

In addition to being bound, he’d been stripped of everything except his tee shirt, pants and boots. Gone was the familiar weight of his P-90, tactical vest and weapons belt, as well as the comforting bulk of his survival pack.

The floor he rested on was hard, but comfortably warm. Oddly, he recalled quite clearly that the surface he’d fallen on was burning hot; he’d felt it scorch his palm in the microsecond before he’d completely lost consciousness. He’d been zatted; of that he had no doubt. He’d experienced that ‘finger in a light socket’ punch to the gut before. He tensed his muscles against the lingering prickle of the discharge, relaxed, and lifted his gaze to survey his surroundings.

Spying a dark shape from the corner of his eye, his craned his neck, sighing in relief to find it was Daniel. He was unconscious, on his stomach, his cheek pressed against the floor. There wasn’t any visible injury on the half of Daniel’s face he could see and Cam hoped that, like himself, his friend had only been zatted. Not that being knocked unconscious by the equivalent of an electrical jolt, bound, and moved to a place where the other SG teams might not think to look for them wasn’t bad enough. At least their captors hadn’t separated them.

“Yeah, at least there’s that.” Cam frowned, the barely audible echo of the sentiment markedly more dubious than his original thought.

Figuring Daniel would be coming around any moment, Cam continued his sit rep. He rolled onto his back and sat up effortlessly, dropping his head briefly to ride out the bit of vertigo the change in position caused.

They were in a warehouse of some sort. The place was huge: the walls high and discouragingly solid, except near the roofline, where daylight streamed through a series of broken windows. A pool of light surrounded them, and Cam noted absently that they were positioned in the one spot where the sun’s beam reached the floor.

On his right, a large retractable double door broke into the monotony of the wall. It appeared just as impassable, dented though it was. There was a smaller door on the opposite side of the building, but they would have to cross a lot of ground to get to it.

Glancing up, Cam discovered several catwalks in the rafters and what looked like a crane tucked against one wall. A steeply angled staircase near the double doors gave access overhead. In the far left corner was a smaller version of the vehicle which had shuttled them to Nala’s place. The building was surprisingly void of boxes or crates, or anything else one might typically store in a warehouse. That, together with the generally dilapidated condition of the place told him this particular warehouse hadn’t seen use in quite some time.

A faint moan drew his attention back to his companion. “Jackson!” he hissed quietly. “Jackson, you awake?”

Daniel’s forehead seized in a painful-looking knot, his eyes squeezing tightly shut. “Ah!” he cried. Turning slightly, he drew his knees to his chest.

Cam guessed that his friend was likewise experiencing the uncomfortable aftermath of the zat blast, but knew commiserating wouldn’t help. “Come on, Jackson, shake it off,” he ordered. “You’re an old pro at this. How many times have you been zatted anyway?”

Opening his eyes, Daniel immediately narrowed them into an annoyed glare. “More times than I care to remember, thank you,” he groused. “What is it with you and milestones? If you’re thinking of making this a contest, don’t.”

“Wouldn’t be any point,” Cam shrugged awkwardly. “There’s no way I’d beat your record. The Jaffa are friendly towards us… mostly. I’m much less likely to be zatted now.” He paused, the irony of the statement clear in the present circumstance. “Obviously, though, the Jaffa aren’t the only ones out there with zats.”

Flopping onto his back, Daniel pushed his elbows into the floor and struggled to a seated position facing Cam. His eyes rolled back and he groaned, and Cam feared he might pass out again, but somehow Daniel managed to maintain his upright position.

“Were you carrying a zat on this trip?” he queried a bit breathlessly.

“No,” Cam replied, “the armory sent down a nine mil.”

“Good. Then we’ve probably only got that one to worry about.”

“Uh huh,” Cam grunted dubiously. “Not that I’m arguing, but why would you think that?”

“Because I’m pretty sure that’s the zat they took from us the last time we were here,” Daniel sighed. “We didn’t exactly have time to gather up all our stuff when we made our escape.”

“Right. Your report said they confiscated all your firearms.”

Daniel nodded. “Jack and Sam both had MP-5s, and Jack and I had Berettas. Rigar used the zat during our captivity, so he either knew how it worked already or he figured it out as he went along. Assuming they still have the other weapons, though, they’ve had plenty of time to learn how to use those, too.”

“They who, though?” Mitchell questioned.

“Did you get a good look at the guys who ambushed us?”

“No. Just the hand holding the zat. I heard something behind me, but by the time I’d turned around, he’d already fired.”

“They were wearing the same uniform as Parey’s men,” Daniel informed him. “But, I think we both know they were Bedrosian rebels.”

“Yeah, that was my first guess,” Cam concurred. “Very clever tactic fabricating the military uniforms. No wonder they got so close before anyone sounded the alarm. Any clue how they got the zat? Marshal Parey said all the rebels took out of storage was some obsolete Bedrosian weapons. She seems very thorough to me. I doubt she’d overlook something like missing captured alien weapons.”

“Unless Rigar never actually surrendered the zat,” Daniel ventured, his face suddenly dark with enmity. “He took an inordinate amount of pleasure using it on Sam and Jack. Maybe he just couldn’t give it up.”

Cam favored him with a sympathetic smile. Daniel’s mission report had also said that he’d had to sit by helplessly while Rigar zatted his teammates. O’Neill had fallen against the side of the electrified cage and, Daniel believed, it was only the fortuitously timed opening of the Stargate that had kept O’Neill from being electrocuted to death. Cam recalled that, though the report was clinical in its detail, Daniel’s anguish at the torture of his friends bled all across the black and white page.

“But Rigar was exiled,” Cam said after a moment. “According to Parey, it would be impossible for him to escape that island.”

“Yeah,” Daniel conceded with a doubtful grimace. “How long were we out?”

“No idea. I’m hoping it’s been a while, though. Vala checked in just before we were attacked.”

“So.” Daniel picked up on the train of thought, twisting it to suit his more negative mood, “Assuming we didn’t spend all our time in blissful oblivion, she won’t miss us for about two hours.”

Refusing to be brought down, Mitchell boldly asked, “How much damage can they do in two hours?” His bravado dimmed slightly, Daniel’s responsive frown telling him he probably didn’t want to know.

Daniel cast his gaze around the large space. “At least there aren’t any electrified cages,” he allowed.

“That’s got to be a hopeful sign.”

Daniel tendered a guarded smile, but held back any verbal response.

Cam went back to work on his bindings. A dribble of sweat rolled down the center of his back, and he shuddered. Turning, he squinted into the sunlight bathing him with warmth. “What is it with these people and the sun?” he grumbled irritably.

Daniel perked up. “Didn’t I say earlier? Nefertum was a sun god, most associated with sunrise. Remember when we came through the gate –”

“You’ve never met a rhetorical question, have you?”  

A loud, grating rattle echoed through the empty space and, reminded of the reverberating din sent up by the sticky door of a friend’s corrugated tin hangar, Cam surmised that someone had yanked open the door on the opposite side of the building. He watched Daniel’s eyes narrow to a hard squint as he tried to compensate for the loss of his glasses. Heavy, even footsteps sounded in the distance, and Mitchell twisted, canting his head to catch a glimpse of their visitor as he made his way across the length of the warehouse.

He was a young man, somewhere around twenty, Cam estimated, though his bearing indicated extensive military training. He marched as though in formation, shoulders squared, head up, his gait strong and sure. Beneath a face far too young-looking for the disapproving expression it bore, was a body built for fighting: tall and lean, but with well-defined muscles clearly visible beneath his close-fitting tunic.

Held vertically before him, the man’s weapon bore a triangular head which gleamed menacingly in the brilliant light streaming through the high windows.

Daniel stifled a gasp. “Don’t say anything to piss this guy off,” he advised. “That weapon he’s carrying has a cattle prod-like feature. You don’t want to give him a reason to zap you with it.”

“Smarts, does it?”

“They don’t pack the punch of a Goa’uld torture stick, but that tingle in your extremities will last a while.”

“I’ve used a Goa’uld torture stick,” Cam said, “but I’ve never actually experienced one.”

“You’ve never been hit with a torture stick?” Daniel asked, his tone turned slightly mocking. “And you call yourself an SG team leader.”

“Well, in my defense, you guys had pretty much defeated the Goa’uld before I got here.”

Daniel pulled a grin that jeered, ‘convenient excuse,’ before turning his attention back to the armed man who smoothly halted beside them. “Hello, again,” he said amiably.

“Friend of yours?”

“We met in the park earlier,” Daniel replied, “but he was dressed differently then. We didn’t have a lot of time to get acquainted, though, since his buddy shot me shortly thereafter.”

“Quiet,” the kid ordered. “On your knees, both of you.” Taking a step back as they complied, he aimed the business end of his weapon at Daniel. “Get over there, next to your partner,” he said, motioning to Cam’s side. “Slowly. Try anything and I’ll be happy to reacquaint you with the shock feature of my hunta.”

Shuffling awkwardly on his knees, Daniel cast a covert glance at Mitchell as he finally settled on his haunches next to him.

Mitchell surmised from the look that Daniel was wondering the same thing he was – how did this kid know Daniel had been shocked before. He was far too young to have been part of the team that had taken SG-1 hostage, and Cam was pretty sure the volume of their recent discussion was too low for him to have overheard anything.

Daniel put on a friendly smile, batting his eyelashes reflexively. “Okay, so, obviously you know who I am.”

The kid slid the weapon under Daniel’s chin and lifted, tilting his head back. “You’re the one who destroyed everything,” he snarled in Daniel’s face.

“Whoa, hold on there,” Mitchell urged, careful to keep alarm out of his voice. “We’re here to help.”

“Help?” the guy with the gun bellowed. He moved the weapon down and poked Daniel in the chest with it, apparently finding that menace enough without the electric charge. “You’re giving aid to the Optricans.”

“Yeah. They’re the ones who asked for help,” Cam replied reasonably. In less time than it took to realize what had happened, the kid swung the weapon at him, discharging a jolt against his collarbone.

Cam grimaced, a pained yelp escaping through his clenched teeth. “Shit, that hurts.”

“I warned you,” Daniel muttered in a low sing-song.

Shooting a squint in Daniel’s direction, Cam briefly compressed his lips in annoyance before turning to their captor. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to be a smart ass, at least not intentionally. See, I’m new here and no one’s given me a scorecard yet, so I’m not really clear on who all the players are.”

“You need only know that by allying yourself with the Optricans, you have made yourselves an enemy of ours.”

“Ours?” Daniel ventured, flinching involuntarily when the weapon swung back his way. “Look,” he went on quickly, “like he said, we’re just trying to figure out why you brought us here and, you know, maybe get some idea of what we can do to convince you to let us go.”

“I wouldn’t waste my breath on that,” the youngster scoffed. “We’ve been eagerly anticipating your capture since we learned you were coming back.”

“You knew we were coming?”

“Enough talk,” the boy growled.

The door behind them creaked open again. Coming immediately to attention, their young guard sidled around his prisoners, halting a few steps behind and to the left of Cam.

Chancing a glance over his shoulder, Cam counted four more men marching smartly in formation. One man was plainly out of step, his shuffling gait echoing in distinctive counterpoint.

Cam cut his gaze to Daniel, surprised to find his friend’s ample eyebrows drawn in what, from his vantage point, looked like a worried frown. As the men approached, he glanced up. Their guard backed into his peripheral line of sight, making room for the others. The procession wound around before them, the men slowing to a halt a few feet away. Cam smiled blandly. Based on their well-worn features, all but one was at least twenty years older than the guy they’d been dealing with.

Though none of them dressed alike, they were obviously a unit. Three of the newcomers carried the long, dual action rifles their guard wielded. A thin strap swung from one of the weapons, and Cam noted with professional interest that the sling was a makeshift addition.

He turned his attention to the weapons themselves. Daniel’s mission report had detailed their function. In addition to the shock feature, the weapon also shot pulse beams which, depending on their setting, stunned or killed. Knowing firsthand where the shock came from, Cam surmised the smaller, vaguely snaked-headed protuberance on the top of the staff delivered the beam.

One of the men separated himself from the group. Though unarmed, his self-assured manner identified him as more dangerous than any of those holding the big guns. His face was long and thin, distinctly shovel shaped, topped by a dark brown mop of hair shot through with grey. Grey-flecked eyebrows crept down the forehead, hanging low over small, black, rodent-like eyes.

Instinctively, Cam knew he was their leader. In a move that would have done a silver screen gunslinger proud, he swept the tail of his short jacket to the side, revealing one of their Berettas tucked into his belt. Cam considered warning him to make sure the safety was on – the caveat ‘It looks very macho and all, but one wrong move and your days as a ladies’ man are over’ absurdly running through his head. He suspected, based on the man’s demeanor, that his advice would not be appreciated.

He moved before Daniel, pinning him with a hostile glare. “Daniel Jackson.” he said, contempt dripping from the taut lips. He extended a hand to the man on his left, wrapping it around the zat his follower held out to him, and hobbled forward.

“It’s interesting that you’re so fond of that thing,” Daniel remarked sarcastically. “I mean, it incapacitates quickly so there’s really no opportunity for torture.”

“I have other means for torture,” the guy replied casually.

Cam glanced at Daniel. Surprised to see a contemptuous expression taking over the amiable man’s features, he carefully masked his reaction. “Let me guess,” he said with undue levity, “this must be…”

“Rigar,” Daniel confirmed.

“Right,” Cam drawled. Attempting to offset his disadvantageous position, he elongated his body and turned a pleasant smile on the man. “I’ve heard a lot about you. Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell, United States Air Force, Earth. Ordinarily, I’d shake hands but –”

“I don’t care who you are,” Rigar spat.

Cam pursed his lips, affecting a wounded expression. “Really? I don’t mind telling you, that kinda hurts my feel –”

The quip was cut off by a fist to his temple. Cam reeled but managed to stay upright.

“Quiet, you!” Rigar sputtered, shaking the hand that had delivered the blow. “Unless I address you directly, you will not speak.”

“Gotcha,” Cam bit out. “All you had to do was explain the rules.” He nodded assurance to Daniel, who watched him closely, forehead knotted in anger.

The archaeologist’s expression evened out just before he turned suddenly to Rigar. “I have to admit I’m surprised to see you,” he said. “We were told you were sent into exile.”

Rigar puffed up with the news. “The Optricans feared me and rightly so. They knew that no amount of persuasion would sway me from my devotion to my god, the creator, Nefertum. They took me, and all those who refused to renounce our belief, and stranded us on that island with no means of escape, no way to return home. Or so they thought.”

Daniel offered a smile of admiration. “You outsmarted them,” he praised cagily. “One of Nefertum’s devotees escaped their notice.”

“I’m surprised the Optricans thought him no threat,” Rigar replied scornfully. “Clearly they have vivid imaginations, believing that fallacious story of the Gateway. Yet it never occurred to them that someone so close to me would hold tightly to his beliefs. He never gave any outward sign, of course; even his mother was fooled. And, when he came of age he joined the military, as every good citizen should.”

“But, your son would never truly accept the lies the Optricans taught him,” Daniel concluded, his gaze sliding to the young man on Rigar’s far right.

Feeling a bit like he’d walked into the middle of a calculus lesson and was expected to catch on without the benefit of attending the lecture, Cam followed Daniel’s gaze to the kid who’d first greeted them. “His son?”

“Rigel,” Rigar supplied.

“That’s how he knew who I was,” Daniel said.

Rigar nodded. “Rigel knows well the tale of that day when four Optrican spies attempted to destroy our faith by claiming to be visitors come to Bedrosia through the mythical Gateway.” He took a step closer to Daniel, face pinched with renewed anger. “You failed that day, though your tricks allowed the Optricans an advantage that led ultimately to the mass delusion under which our people now suffer. Rigel found the situation as unbearable as I would, had I known what was happening. The Optricans refused even to allow us a means to contact our families.”

“Maybe that was a blessing,” Daniel suggested. “Even had you known what was going on, there was nothing you could have done about it.”

“Perhaps,” Rigar allowed. “But I assure you the Optricans did not plan it that way. Their aim was to make us as miserable as possible… until we died. When sentence was passed we were told that we could expect no assistance from anyone, that once we were deposited on that island we would be forgotten utterly.  But we were not forgotten. Under their noses, Rigel feigned the actions of a good Optrican, all the while plotting how he would rescue the true believers from the blasphemer’s evil machinations.”

“My only regret is it took so long to carry out the plan,” Rigel lamented.

“You were a child when Optrica invaded and took me away from you,” Rigar reminded him. “I commend you for the way you used their expectations against them, letting them teach you how to fight and think like a soldier, only to turn those skills to our advantage.”

“I believe my superiors are still unaware that I took a military shuttlecraft to the island to retrieve you,” Rigel declared with a smug grin. “Though, I suppose they will suspect now that I have abandoned my duties.”

“They will know all soon enough,” Rigar asserted. “Your duty is to me now, and to Nefertum.”

Daniel coughed lightly. “Um, excuse me. Mind if I ask? You said they’ll know all.”

“I was referring to the details of our plan. I had not counted on your participation, though I am gratified you are here because I believe you can greatly assist us.”

“I’ll have to hear your plan first,” Daniel replied. “Otherwise, how will I know what to do?”

Rigar chuckled, a decidedly frightening sound. “You don’t have to do anything. Your presence is enough. I do find it intriguing though,” he added, eyeing them with overt suspicion, “that you have rematerialized now that we are on the brink of reclaiming our land. Where have you been hiding all this time?”

Daniel shared a quick glance with Cam. “Hiding?” he echoed.

“I’ve had no word of you since that first appearance. Your retreat through the Gateway –”

“Wait a minute,” Cam interjected. “I thought you didn’t believe in the Gateway.”

Rigar struck out, the cuff solid enough to spark stars behind his eyes. Cam squeezed them tight against the pain throbbing over his right ear, prying them open a few seconds later to find himself the focus of unsettled blue eyes.

I’ve seen that look before, he reflected ruefully. Maybe I should just shut the hell up and let Jackson take the lead on this one.

“Sorry,” Cam muttered. “That one just sort of slipped out.”

Rigar’s scowl deepened. On a silent signal, two of his men moved behind the prisoners.

Stealing a glance over his shoulder, Daniel quickly prompted. “Anyway, you were saying?”

“I was saying,” Rigar growled, “your disappearance by way of the Gateway illusion was quite impressive. But, we both know you didn’t really disappear. So, I’ll ask again. Where have you been?”

Daniel considered his response, his gaze irresistibly diverted to the men behind him. “I went back to Earth,” he said finally. “You do know that your people have accepted that the Gateway is real?”

A low buzz-snap, reminiscent of a mosquito frying in a bug zapper, reverberated in Cam’s right ear. Instinctively, he turned away from the tiny flare of light that accompanied the noise.

Daniel let out a grunt of pain, and when Cam turned back, his friend was doubled over.


Daniel sat up slowly, aiming a glare at Rigar. “I know you’ve been… away for a while,” he puffed, “but, surely someone has told you the Bedrosians have altered the way they worship Nefertum. They chose to merge their doctrine with that of the Optricans.”

Rigar sneered. “Their faith is weak, or the Optricans could not have so easily convinced them to abandon their god.”

“They haven’t abandoned Nefertum; he is still revered. All that has changed is the concept of who he is and how he placed your ancestors here.”

“Heresy!” Rigar took one large step towards Daniel, fist raised menacingly. “That they should accept any part of the Optricans’ lie is offensive and an affront to our god.”

“Would you have preferred the Optricans destroy them all? Left no worshippers for Nefertum? They found a compromise that allowed both sides to find some sort of victory from that decades-long conflict. Yes, there was a trade-off; the Bedrosians acknowledged the Optrican Gateway myth as truth. And in exchange, the Optricans accepted Nefertum as their creator. He has gained many new followers as a result.”

“Optrican followers,” Rigar spat. “Their faith is suspect by the very nature of its impure origins.”

Cam twisted, shoving his right shoulder into the air, a poor substitute for his bound hand. “Can I jump in here a second?”

Daniel’s look of alarm screamed ‘What are you doing?’

Grinning confidently, Cam muttered, “I got this,” and turned to Rigar. “Who are you to go weeding out followers for your god?” he challenged. “Aren’t you just as weak-willed, just as fallible? The Optricans may not be perfect in your sight, but maybe Nefertum’s not so particular. Maybe he prefers those ‘impure’ souls so that he can mold them into saints worthy of hi –” 

Rigar’s fist sent him sprawling.

“You dare presume to know what Nefertum wants in his worshippers!” Staggering after him, Rigar planted his sound leg and pulled back his foot.

“No!” Daniel cried, surging to his knees.

Incredibly, Rigar aborted the kick, shuffling forward instead to loom over Cam. “The Book of Nefertum is clear in its doctrine. He demands our complete loyalty. We are to make ourselves perfect through his word.” Eying Daniel scornfully, he concluded, “There is no room for compromise.”

He straightened and turned to his men. “You know what is required.”

As one, the guards pivoted and marched away. Gesturing to his son to follow, Rigar hobbled in the opposite direction.

Cam listened to the guards’ retreat, the telltale creak of the far door announcing their exit from the building. Rigar and Rigel stood a few yards away, deep in conversation. Shoulder angled into his father’s chest, Rigel held his hunta rifle before him like he was bearing a standard.

Groaning, Cam struggled to his knees. He shook his head to clear it and turned to thank Daniel for the save.

Daniel returned his regard with a level stare, the narrowed blue eyes making Cam wonder if he wouldn’t have been better off letting Rigar have at him.

“What the hell was that?” Daniel asked in a low growl.

The query rebounded from his abused head, and Cam winced against the discomfort. “Something my grandma was fond of saying. She used to tell us kids this story about how, in the 1950s, my dad’s Uncle Frank railed against divorcees in the church. Said they were sinners and not worthy to sit in the pews with decent folk. Grandma let him have it right between the eyes – reminded him he had his own problems and wasn’t qualified to judge others.” Grinning sheepishly, he shrugged. “Didn’t think it could hurt to show Rigar that he’s as human as the next guy.”

Daniel’s anger melted to grudging understanding. “That might have worked if we were dealing with anyone but Rigar. You read the file. This guy’s beliefs are unshakable. He flat out refused to believe the Stargate was real, even after the wormhole opened and nearly fried him on the spot. Nothing you say is gonna change his mind.”

“We’ve dealt with religious fanatics before,” Cam argued. “The priors were every bit as intransigent and we never gave up trying to convince them they were wrong.”

“No,” Daniel conceded on a sigh. “No, we never did. Still, you need to pick your battles. Challenging Rigar’s point of view while you’re kneeling in front of him, hands bound behind you, wasn’t one of your brighter moves.” He grimaced faintly, after a beat appending, “Could have been worse, I suppose.”

“I know I’m gonna regret asking this, but, remind me again. How much worse?”

“The last time I was on my knees before this guy, someone stuck a huge needle in the side of my neck,” Daniel replied matter-of-factly.

Cam’s face screwed up in horror. “Right. Can’t say I’m sorry I missed that.” Shifting to a more comfortable position, he glanced over his shoulder, confirming no one was within earshot. “Any clue what’s next?”

“Last time they separated us for interrogation.”

“He seems to be pretty well connected; he did know you were back. What more could he hope to learn from us?”

Daniel failed to answer, seemingly captivated by the sight of the two men huddled together nearby. Head angled towards his son’s ear, Rigar talked hurriedly. Rigel hung on his father’s every word.

“That question was not rhetorical,” Cam grumbled. “It would be helpful to know what kind of information he might want from us.”

“I think that would depend on what he’s planning.”

Rigar grinned broadly and his son returned the gesture, head bobbing with understanding.

“That’s just… odd,” Daniel remarked.

Cam regarded the father/son tableau with a critical eye. “Which part?”

“The Rigar I met nine years ago never smiled,” Daniel replied. It’s kinda creepy, actually. Also, he’s been awfully forthcoming –”

“I wondered about that. Your mission report described him as taciturn, I think it was.”

“Yeah, he made Siler seem downright chatty by comparison. So, why’s he willingly sharing so much information with us now?”

“You’re a pretty deft interviewer,” Cam opined sincerely. “You’ve done an exceptional job of leading him.”

Daniel’s responsive grin held a hint of doubt. “That didn’t work so well the last time I talked to him.”

“He’s just pulled off a major coup. He can’t gloat if he doesn’t talk to us.”

Considering the comment a moment, Daniel conceded. “That’s a valid point. He took obvious delight in sharing the fact that his son has been plotting his escape right under the Optricans noses for years.”

“But he clammed up right away when you asked for details of his current plan.”

“Yes, he did.”

“As for the smile…” Cam pulled a face, in total agreement with Daniel’s estimation of the disturbing nature of that expression. “That is his son and it’s been a while since they’ve seen each other. Plus… he does sort of have the upper hand at the moment.”

Daniel acknowledged the statement with a soft snort.

“There’s also the possibility that spending the last nine years dwelling on his defeat and having to just sit and wait for his chance at revenge has sent him right over that edge of reality he was teetering so close to.”

“Thank you so much for reminding me,” Daniel griped. “I was trying to suppress the worry that Rigar might be even more dangerous than the last time I encountered him.”

Cam tendered a contrite frown. “Forget I said anything.” Noting that the father/son confab appeared to be breaking up, he stiffened, calling Daniel’s attention to the pair with a stab of his eyes.

With a quick clutch of hands, the men parted. Exchanging his Bedrosian firearm for the zat Rigar held out to him, Rigel marched towards the exit, raking the prisoners with a disdainful eye as he passed. Much more slowly, Rigar followed his son’s path, his haughty swagger only slightly marred by his limp. He pulled to a smooth halt before them and turned a hard glare on Daniel.

“It’s been a few years, but I do remember how to use this,” he warned, lowering the triangular point of the hunta to Daniel’s chest. “You would be well advised to forgo acting upon any idea you might have had that the odds are now in your favor.”

“Okay, you’ve got us,” Daniel sniped impatiently. “Now what?”

“Now, you help me persuade your Colonel O’Neill, to come out of hiding. We have much to discuss.”

Chuffing a small laugh, Daniel shook his head. “Jack’s a general now. He’s a very busy guy. He’s not going to drop whatever he’s doing because you want to chat.”

Moving forward a step, Rigar planted his weapon in the space beneath Daniel’s armpit. Daniel’s surprised cry sounded just over the crack of the discharge.

“I’m guessing that was the wrong thing to say,” Cam groaned under his breath.

The measured beat of footsteps echoed oddly in the mostly hollow room and Rigar looked up. Twisting, Cam followed his gaze.

Two of Rigar’s men clambered across the nearest catwalk, each of the men sporting a coil of rope over his shoulder. Stopping midway across the metal structure, they unwound the ropes and, passing the ends around two of the slats on the catwalk’s railing, tossed them over the side. The heavy cords unraveled as they fell, and Cam flinched involuntarily as the ropes slapped the concrete floor. Duty apparently carried out, the men headed back towards the stairs.

Turning to check on Daniel, Cam found him also watching the action, his speculative pout tinged with concern.

Cam glimpsed the heaps of rope from the corner of his eye, just suppressing a shudder of alarm. A peculiar loop had appeared as they’d fallen, and he had hoped it was just a product of the way the ropes had uncoiled. But, now that the cords were motionless on the floor, Cam could no longer deny that each ended in a noose.

The now familiar creaking of the door diverted his attention, and Cam turned to see Rigel holding it open for the fourth man in Rigar’s patrol. His weapon slug across his back, the man threaded his way through the opening, a chair tucked under each arm. Closing the door behind him, Rigel quickly made his way to his father’s side.

He passed the prisoners nearly unnoticed as Daniel and Cam were more interested in the journey of the chair-bearing man. Encumbered as he was, still he marched smartly across the intervening space. Stopping just below the catwalk, he placed a chair beside each rope, approximately ten feet apart.

Cam gulped responsively, quickly turning a glower on Rigar to disguise the fact. The effort was wasted as the other man was again deep in conversation with his son. Casting a glance of solidarity at Daniel, he smiled grimly.

Staring with fascinated horror at the makeshift gallows, Daniel inched his gaze up to Cam’s. The blue eyes were dark with apprehension, but Daniel reassured his friend with an infinitesimal nod.

The chair guy took up his armed position behind them. Rigar broke away from his son, who remained at attention. Cam flattened his lips in disgust, noting - now that he looked at Rigel - the young rebel was wearing one of their tac vests. He cradled a P-90 against his chest, muzzle aimed beyond his left shoulder.

Taking the few steps in a deliberate strut, Rigar shoved a fist towards them, an SGC issue radio clenched in his hammy fingers.

Only his extensive training kept Cam from reacting when the man snarled evilly, “Let us hope, for your sake, O’Neill will make time to meet with me.”


Part 2


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