Daniel stopped in his tracks and forced out a small smile as Sam stepped from the elevator at the far end of the corridor.

“Hey, Sam,” he offered, taking in her slightly disheveled appearance.  “Just arrived?”

“The flight from Nevada was a nightmare.”

“Flight?  They couldn’t beam you here?”

“No.” She reached out to squeeze his arm fondly.  “The Hammond is still on exercise and the Odyssey is out of range.  How are you doing?” 

“Okay, I guess.  A fifth of my staff is dead, the rest are having trouble dealing with the whole situation, and I’ve been sitting in my office trying to figure out how to write letters of condolences.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Me too.”

“I saw the general on my way here.”

“Did he say much?”

“Not to me.  He was in the middle of a rather heated phone conference with the IOA though.  They don’t believe the attack on your team justified recalling the rest of the survey teams for what they quote was ‘possibly an isolated event’.”

“You’re kidding?  Fourteen dead, three teams attacked and it’s still not enough for them?”

“Three teams?”

“You didn’t hear about SG-3?”

“Nothing.  I assumed the last four teams were all recalled and made it back safely.”

“They did.”  At the approach of several marines, Daniel and Sam split to let them pass, both acknowledging a nod of thanks.  “Where was I?  Oh, yes.  All four of the remaining survey teams made it back but Reynolds had to quick-foot it to the gate with his team.  They were five minutes out when the ship appeared in the sky and started broadcasting.”

“So much for the IOA calling it an isolated event then.”

“I’d like to know when we got so cynical that we started weighing up the cost of a human life against financial gain.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised though.”

“Why is that?”

“I pushed for the Furling survey project.  The Stargate Program has been active for over a decade and we’ve spent most of it battling one foe or another, and it was past time to utilize the wealth of information we’ve collected.”

Sam sighed through a sympathetic smile.  “This wasn’t you’re fault, you know.  Not everything that happens to us can be attributed to you, despite what you may believe.”

“Not this time, no.”

“So, how are you really?”

“I’m fine.  Your department has cleared up the audio and visual transmission from the ship that attacked us.” Daniel tipped his head towards the junction they were approaching.  “I was just heading down there to help with the translation.”

“That’s not what I mean,” Sam said “How are you?  I heard about your little dash for the gate.  You had Cameron worried.”

Daniel shrugged but kept walking.  “I don’t know what happened there.  One minute I was fine, doing that whole ‘insane run for my life’ thing we seem to do so well, and the next… I don’t know really.  It was like getting hit with a really bad headache all of a sudden.”

“Like a migraine?”

“I guess so.  It stopped as soon as we got back through the gate.”

“Did Carolyn find anything?”

“I wouldn’t be standing here if she did.”


“Our access to samples of the Furling language has been limited to what we’ve been able to gather on our offworld missions, the most informative of which was the wall from the meeting place at Heliopolis.  Access to both the Asgard and Ancient scripts over the years led us to the conclusion that the walls at Heliopolis could be treated in the same way we regard the Rosetta Stone from our own history.  The content of the Ancient and Asgard walls was identical and gave us a starting point to decipher the Nox and Furling walls.  The Nox wall proved somewhat easier because we’ve maintained a distant but cordial relationship with them and have been afforded some insight into their culture, including their written language. 

Using the Rosetta Stone as an example, we were able to ascertain that the Nox wall was identical in content to the Ancient and Asgard walls.”

“Wouldn’t it have been easier to simply ask the Nox what was written on their wall?” General Landry asked. 

Daniel smiled warmly.  “The very young do not always do what they are told.”

Landry’s brow knotted in confusion.  “I’m sorry?”

“It’s something Anteaus told us when we met the Nox,” Jack provided.  “His way of telling us we weren’t old enough to be playing in the galactic sandbox.”

Daniel continued on, “Much like the Tollan when we first met them, the Nox have never been willing to sharing anything of any significance with Earth, preferring us to find our own way.”

“Even when their knowledge could have been beneficial on a galactic scale?”

“Let’s just say they don’t quite think like us, which probably explains why they’ve been around for so long.”  Jack squinted at the wall monitor displaying the familiar image of the four walls from Heliopolis.  “So, what about the Furling wall?”

Daniel toggled the display remote and zoomed in on one wall.  “There is very little doubt the Furling wall says the same as the other three, and applying the same translation techniques we have been able to determine certain words, within a high degree of probability, but not all.”

“Why is that?” asked Sam.

“Because the other three languages all appear to be direct word swaps with simple alphabets, and while we can assume Furling to be the same, without someone who actually knows the language to guide us, we can’t be sure.  This is the reason many of the dead languages of Earth can’t be translated to any degree of accuracy.”

“Like a cipher that requires a key?” asked Sam.

“Exactly.  It’s infinitely easier to learn a language from hearing it than it is to try and decipher its written equivalent without any known point to start with.”

Landry slowly strummed his fingers on the table top, a sign of growing impatience.  “So you’ve confirmed the language being broadcasted was definitely Furling?”

“There are variations in the written sample but the basic structure is the same.  Like a dialect, or the difference between how we in the U.S. spell ‘color’ without the ‘u’ the way the English do—”

“Meaning?”  Jack hurried him up with a roll of his wrist.

“Meaning, these ‘people’ either knew the Furlings or…”

“Or they are Furling,” Landry finished for him.

“That would be my guess, sir.”

“What are our chances of being able to communicate with them, Doctor?  If I understand what you’ve said so far, having a sample of the spoken language should be able to help you translate the written communiqué we received.”

“Absolutely.  My department has been working with the written and audio transmissions and we’ve managed to put together a simple greeting.  With time and resources, I’m confident we can break through more of their language, but for the time being, it’s the best I can offer.”

“No, that’s okay, Doctor Jackson,” said Landry, shifting his gaze to Jack.  “I think we all understand the issues you’re facing.”

“If you want to communicate with them, sir, I would strongly recommend broadcasting a written message over a verbal one.  And I’d also suggest we send a sample of the other languages of the four races—specifically the inscriptions from Heliopolis.  If this is the Furlings or a race that is familiar with them, they should recognize the other races represented.”

Jack shifted in his seat and stared hard at the sample of writing still displayed on the large wall screen.  “Did anyone consider that we might be condemning ourselves here?”


“You said you haven’t managed to translate all of what they broadcasted.”

“Not exactly, no.  We’ve made a decent amount of headway considering how long we’ve had the transmission.  We’re close.”

“Close enough to tell us whether the broadcast was a warning sent by the Furlings to those on the planet or close enough that whoever sent the broadcast assumed that the planets still belonged to the Furlings?  For all we know, this could be some very ancient enemy coming to exact retribution on them for past transgressions.”

Sam let out a long breath and looked across at Daniel with a pained expression.  “I hate to say it, Daniel, but the General’s right.  The survey teams could simply have been caught in the middle of some age-old feud.”

“Casualties of war?  Doesn’t make a lot of sense there, Sam.  If whoever this is was looking for retribution against the Furlings, would they really send out a message advertising their presence? Why not use the element of surprise and bombard them from space?”

Jack straightened in his chair and coughed lightly before throwing his pen down on the top of his briefing folder.  “Doesn’t matter,” he said.  “Seems the death of fourteen people hit a nerve with the Joint Chiefs; they overruled the IOA and want a direct threat assessment made.”

“I’m sorry.  Direct as in?”

“Go out there and take a look, Doctor Jackson.”  Landry’s formerly inquisitive bearing seemed to drain away as he straightened in his chair at the head of the table.  “The Hammond is the only ship in the field at the moment, and she’s on a training mission at the new Zeta Site on P4J-793.”

“Less than two hours at hyperspeed from SG-19’s survey site.”  Sam rifled through her briefing folder, scattering papers across the table.  “Part of the reason that world was chosen for the new site was its proximity to the majority of worlds we’d previously found Furling artifacts on.  When the survey project was in the planning stage, the expectation was that it would take at least two years to complete, so the placement of the new command would provide long-term logistical support to the science teams.  Six sites were chosen from a possible eleven, based on their distance, level of civilization, and the quantity of artifacts located by the initial scouting teams.”

Daniel slid into his chair beside Sam and nodded his thanks for the chart she slid across to him.  Pushing back his glasses a fraction, he read over the notes and continued, “Budgetary constraints were another reason for limiting the number of long-term investigations.  In the end, most of the remaining five planets housed civilizations that resided over or in the vicinity of the target areas, essentially contaminating the sites.”

“So.” Jack leaned forward in his chair and took in each person at the table in turn.  “How do we find them?”

“I’ve been giving that some thought, sir,” Sam said.  “Based on the theory that there is only one ship, and looking at the approximate timing of each attack and the distance between the planets, we can gauge the direction they’re headed as well as how long it’s taking them to get from one planet to another.”

“You’re assuming they’re following some sort of logic, Carter.”

“With the level of technology we’ve seen, sir, I’d say that would be a fairly good assumption.”

“Besides which,” Daniel interjected, “it’s all we’ve got to go on.  The question is which planet is next? Even if Sam’s theory proves correct, there are several planets equidistant from the next one on the list.”

“Simple really,” answered Jack.  “We head to the populated ones.”



Daniel stepped into the wormhole, leaving the gray walls of the SGC behind, and out into the bright sunshine of P4J-793.  It lightened his mood somewhat, temporarily banishing the trepidation he was feeling over their upcoming attempt at first contact.  He’d lost track of how many first contacts they’d made.  He really shouldn’t be nervous, but for some reason, he was.  Maybe it was because they were fresh off their dealings with the Ori—and hadn’t that first contact gone well?  They’d been waiting a long time to meet the Furlings; he should be excited.  But the images of those people—his colleagues—being blown to dust left him unsettled. 

Waiting at the base of the gate platform was Teal’c, and Daniel found his spirits lifted even more.  It felt good to be surrounded by all of his teammates.

Daniel smiled as he walked up to his friend.  “Hey, Teal’c. It’s good to see you.”

“And you, Daniel Jackson.”  A small smile also graced his lips as he returned the greeting. 

“How’re things in the Jaffa world, T?”

“Quite well, O’Neill.  These supplies will go a long way towards helping the Jaffa establish new colonies.”

“Good to hear it.”

“I’m glad you’re here, Teal’c,” Sam said, pulling him into a hug. 

“I am pleased to see you as well, Colonel Carter.”

Behind them, the wormhole continued to ripple as more SGC personnel arrived.

“Oh, there you are, Muscles! I’ve missed you.”  Vala bounced down the steps and joined SG-1. 

“And I, you.”

“All right, now that we’re done exchanging pleasantries, let’s get down to business.”  Motioning Cam and the rest of his team over, Jack clicked his radio.  “SG-1 and SG-13 ready to beam up.”

“Acknowledged,” came the reply from the Hammond.

“Please tell me about your encounter with the ship on P9S-351,” Teal’c asked Daniel, who launched into a discourse of recent events, and was still talking when the Asgard beam whisked them away.


Leaving Teal’c to get settled, or at least attempt to with Vala helping, Daniel and Sam headed for their own quarters, each lost in their own thoughts. 

Sam slowed, then stopped, and Daniel turned to see her staring out a window that looked over part of the ship.  Joining her, he gazed at the view.  After several seconds of silence, he turned back to her. 

“You miss him.”

Sam looked at him, surprised.  “How did you—”

“I miss him, too.”  He draped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer. 

“I wonder what he’d think of this ship?”

“He’d probably say it was an honor, but that the people of the SGC were the ones who deserved to be recognized.”

“I can hear him saying that,” Sam agreed.  “And I’m sure he’d have some words of wisdom for us, too.”

“I’m sure he’d wish us ‘Godspeed’.”





Daniel looked up as the door to his quarters opened and Jack stepped into the room.



Jack sauntered over to the desk that was strewn with papers.  Picking one up, he examined it, turned it upside down, and suddenly had it snatched from his hands.

“What’s up?” Daniel asked, placing the paper back on the desk.

“Just wondered how it was going.”

“It would go much faster if I wasn’t interrupted.”

“That bad, huh?”

Daniel sighed, laying his pen down on top of the papers.  Rubbing his eyes with his fingers, he looked up at his friend.  “Sorry.  I’m just...”




“Whether they’ll listen to us.”

“You think your translation is off?”

“No, it’s not that.  Sam’s going to send the message written on the walls at Heliopolis in all four of the languages, and then in English.  After that, we’re going to repeat the opening salutation several times.  It’s just that… I don’t know, maybe it’s having just dealt with the Ori that’s making me nervous.  It seems like each new race we encounter is more challenging than the last.”

“Need I remind you that we managed to defeat both the Goa’uld and the Ori?”

“I know.”

“Then quit worrying.”  Jack picked up another piece of paper, ignoring the perturbed look Daniel was giving him.  “So, if the message is ready to go, what are you working on?”

“Well, in the event we do get a response, I’d like to be able to communicate more than, ‘Hi, we’re from Earth.  We come in peace’.”

“What more needs to be said?”  Jack laid the paper back on the desk before Daniel could snatch it away, too. 

“Not helping.” 

“Relax, Daniel.  I have confidence in your ability to communicate with these furballs.  Anyone who can make friends with an Unas who’s planning to have him for dinner can surely talk some sense into a race as advanced as these guys.”

Daniel tried to hold back a smile at Jack’s idea of a pep talk.  “Thanks, Jack.”

“Anytime, Daniel, anytime.”


Daniel ran down the corridor, dodging crew members along the way, and arrived at the bridge.  Jack was already there, as was Sam who was seated at the communications console.  Behind him, he heard Cam, Teal’c, and Vala enter. 

He could see the planet up ahead displayed on the massive viewscreen, but not the ship that had been detected in orbit: the one that had been the reason for the alert he’d received in his quarters.  They’d been lucky—or unlucky—enough to pick the next planet on the invaders’ list. 

He moved next to Sam, looking over her shoulder at the console.  “Everything ready?” he asked.

“I think so.”  She looked across at Jack.  “Sir, we’re ready to transmit the message.”

“Have we received any communication from them?”

“No, sir.”

“Go ahead and send it.  Repeat it if we don’t receive an acknowledgement.”

The bridge was silent except for the sound of Sam’s keyboard.  Everyone’s eyes were on the viewscreen; Daniel knew, like him, they were straining to get a glimpse of the ship that had murdered so many of their friends and colleagues. 


“Done.”  Sam exchanged a look with Daniel before turning her attention to the window. 

As the dusty orange planet drew closer, filling more and more of their window, a grey shape appeared in orbit around it.  Daniel was finally able to distinguish its features:  smooth grey, elliptical hull, small half-dome on top—possibly the bridge?—with no other markings visible.  And it was huge; just like the one that had attacked them on P9S-351.  He was sure a dozen Hammonds would fit inside it. 

“Holy Hannah.”  Sam’s eyes were wide as she got her first up close and personal look at the ship. 

Daniel found Vala had moved up beside him, brushing shoulders.  He could see the fear in her eyes—something he’d rarely seen in her.  He wasn’t the only one who was worried about what kind of reception they’d receive from this race. 

Everyone stood still, as though holding their breath, looking out at the giant ship hovering over the planet. 

“I’m detecting an energy build up,” Kaplan, the operations officer, warned. “I think they’re powering their weapons.”

Colonel Womack turned to Jack.  “Your call, General.”

Daniel saw Jack’s jaw clench and relax.  “Put us between the ship and that planet.”

Without hesitation, Womack gave the order.

“Carter, as soon as we’re in place, send that message again.”

“Yes, sir.”

The Hammond slid into position, directly between the invading ship and the planet.  Sam sent the message again, and once again everyone waited.  A few seconds ticked by, then the giant ship began moving towards them. 

“Shields up,” Womack ordered. “Standby weapons.”

“Wait,” Daniel interrupted, leaning over Sam’s shoulder.  “Sam, let me send them a message.”

Sam opened up a communications channel and indicated for him to go ahead.  Taking a deep breath, Daniel rattled off a string of words in Ancient.  When he finished, he stood up and gazed at the ship looming in front of them. 

“What did you just say?” Jack asked.

“I hope I said, ‘Don’t shoot, we come in peace’.”

“You hope?”

“No, I’m sure.  Well, pretty sure.”

“Pretty sure?  Daniel!”

“I know what I said, Jack, I’m just not sure if they understand Ancient.  For all we know they could have been at war with the Ancients and we’ve just condemned ourselves.  There just wasn’t enough of the Furling language to be able to piece together a more meaningful message.  This was the best I could come up with.” 

“Perhaps you should have gone for Asgard and Nox while you were at it.  Hedge your bets a bit maybe?”

Seconds ticked by with no response. 

“Doesn’t look like ‘We come in peace’ worked.”

“We’re being hailed, sir,” Carter reported. 

“Really?” Daniel exclaimed. 

“See,” Jack said, leaning on the back of Carter’s chair and glaring at Daniel. “Seems it’s not your day to be blown to smithereens after all.”

“Or they’re being polite and warning us of our imminent death.”

“It’s all doom and gloom with you.  Carter, don’t leave them waiting.”

“Yes, sir.” 

The bridge fell into silence as the viewscreen flickered once but no image appeared.

“Something wrong with the transmission?”

“No, sir.  We’re receiving the signal, but either they’re in a very dark room or they’re blocking us somehow.”

“Speak!” The solitary word was barked like an order and reverberated around the bridge.

Jack gripped the back of the chair tightly and cocked his head at Daniel.  “You’re up.”

“Right.  Ah, my name is Daniel Jackson from the—”

“Who you are is of no consequence.  Where you are from is irrelevant.  Speak!”

Daniel pinched the bridge of his nose and drew in a short, sharp breath as the voice cut into his mind. “Your English is almost perfect,” he forced out between clenched teeth.

“The knowledge your vessel contains is now within us.  Communication is now possible. Speak!”

“Son of a bitch,” Jack whispered.  “Carter, run a scan of our database and see what files they accessed.”

“Working on it, sir.” Carter’s fingers danced across the keyboard. “I don’t know how they could have accessed the central core without setting off the failsafe alarms.  We have multiple redundant systems set up for such an eventuality.”

Daniel tried to tune out the happenings behind him and focused on the main viewer.  “Ah, there are people on the world below that are incapable of understanding the language you are broadcasting. You need to allow them time to leave.”

There was a beat of silence.

“Twenty of your minor cycles are permitted as adequate warning.”

“Warning for what?  We’ve seen what happens when you open fire on the surface of a planet, but annihilating innocent people who have no hope of understanding your intention and effecting their own escape is murder.”

“Warning was given.” 

Pinpoints of pain blossomed behind Daniel’s eyes as the alien’s almost gravelly tone wrapped itself around his mind, squeezing it tight. 

“Daniel?”  Jack’s hand was suddenly on his shoulder.  “You okay?”

“Yeah, fine,” he lied.  “Ah.” He turned his attention back to the screen.  “Your warning was given in words unfamiliar to those on the surface, making your intent unclear.”

“You are concerned for their fate.”  It was a statement only.

“They are my comrades, my friends.  Their deaths would be taken as a transgression against our world.” 

“Their lives hold no value.”

“No value?”  Jack hissed at the screen.  “What kind of a people are you—”


“Daniel, so help me, there’s no way these people are going to listen to you.”

“No, probably not, but if we don’t try then what happens to the several thousand people on the planet below?  Correct me if I’m wrong here, but what are the chances of them all getting through the gate or being beamed up here in the next twenty minutes.  Never mind the fact that the Hammond doesn’t have the capacity or life support systems to cater to that many people.”

Jack opened his mouth to say something, but quickly snapped it shut and gestured towards the viewscreen, a silent approval for ‘point made, please continue’.

Head pounding in time with his heart, Daniel turned back to their unseen adversaries.  “Their lives are valuable to us.  Let us meet with you and discuss allowing us to move them off the planet.”

Several more seconds ticked by, everyone on the bridge waiting silently for a response, even Vala, for which Daniel was eternally grateful. 

“We agree.  Choose your emissaries.”

Daniel put out a hand and leaned against the console, closing his eyes with relief. 

“Daniel.”  Not a question, but a warning.  He knew Jack was close to telling him to sit this one out, but he also knew that wasn’t going to happen—no one else on board had a chance of communicating with them if they chose not to continue speaking English.

He opened his eyes and looked at Jack, taking in the mouth drawn into a thin line and forehead wrinkled in frustration, waiting for him to answer. 

“Right.  Thank you.  Our diplomatic team will meet with you.”  He gestured to each of his team as he spoke, the three of them moving to stand next to him.  “That would be General O’Neill, Colonel Carter, Teal’c, and myself.  We—”

A flash of light engulfed the bridge and when it died away, SG-1 was gone.


One second, Jack was on standing on the bridge, and the next he was . . . someplace else.  The good news was that he was alive; the bad news was that he couldn’t move.  Except his eyes—he was able to blink—and he was breathing.  Always a good sign. 

He was held immobile in some kind of translucent containment field.  Searching the area around him, he could see the rest of his team, each being held in the same manner and each dealing with it in their own way.  He could see Teal’c’s muscles straining as he tried to move his body.  Carter’s eyes were traveling up and down the length of the field, obviously searching for a way out.  That left Daniel, whom he would expect to be scanning their surroundings for clues about their captors.  Only problem was, Daniel had his eyes tightly shut and his face was ashen.  Something was definitely wrong—besides the fact they were prisoners. 

“Daniel!” He tried to shout, but found the sound muffled. 

Carter’s eyes turned towards his; she’d apparently heard him.  “Carter, what is this—”

Before he could finish, she was beamed away.  Teal’c exchanged a concerned look with him, but Daniel still had his eyes closed, and acted as though he was unaware of what had happened. 

Jack wanted to kick something, and focused all his strength on moving his leg. 

“I do not believe that will be effective, O’Neill.” 

Jack could barely hear his words but he got the message: save his strength.  He turned his attention back to Daniel and found nothing had changed. 

“I, too, am concerned for Daniel Jackson.”

“What the hell’s wrong with him?”

“I am unsure, but I believe it began while he was still on the Hammond.” 

So, Jack hadn’t been the only one to notice Daniel’s unusual behavior.  “Daniel!  You all right?”

Once again he received no response, sending his anxiety level up another notch.  Deciding there was nothing he could do for his friend at the moment, Jack began scanning their surroundings. 

As the minutes passed, his tension increased, worry over what was happening to Carter inching ahead of his concern for Daniel, who was at least still in the same room with him.

Another flash of light, and Carter was back with them.  Sort of.  Physically, she was back in the containment field, but she appeared to be unconscious. 

“Carter!  Carter!”  Great, another unresponsive teammate. 

Less than a minute after she reappeared, Teal’c was taken.  Jack’s anger verged on the boiling point.  “Dammit, tell us what you want!”  His rant sounded like nothing more than a loud whisper and went unacknowledged. 

Again he waited, and again Teal’c was eventually returned, also unconscious.  His unspoken question of who would be taken next was answered as he found himself transported away. 


Voices flooded his mind, rising and falling, swirling around him, the words vague but forceful—and painful.  Daniel was sure his head would burst.  He didn’t know where he was, only that he couldn’t move and he didn’t have the strength to even open his eyes.  Light flashed several times nearby, barely registering in his consciousness. For a while he though he heard Jack’s voice calling to him, but there were so many voices that it became lost in the cacophony of sounds. 

Another flash of light surrounded him and this time he was sure he was being transported again.  Upon arrival, whatever had been holding him immobile was suddenly released and he slumped forward, only to be caught by the arms and held upright.  His legs were grabbed, too, and he was lifted, moved, and laid down on a hard surface. 

He needed to know where he was—where his teammates were—and what was happening.  The voices were even stronger now, making it harder to drag his eyelids open, but he managed it.  Squinting against the bright light in the room, he tried to lift his hand to wipe his eyes, but found he couldn’t move them.  He couldn’t lift his head or move his legs, either.  Fighting a rising panic, he scanned his surroundings.  At the edge of his vision he could see a figure, its back turned and face hidden.  Were these the Furlings?  That elusive race they had wondered about for the past ten years?  Of all the possible ways he’d imagined them, it was never as cold, hostile, murderers. Why were they being treated this way?  Why didn’t he just do his job and ask them? 

“Hello?”  His own voice echoed in his head ratcheting up the pain the other voices continued to inflict. 

There was no response, no acknowledgement that he’d spoken.  He tried again.  “I’m Daniel Jackson.  We’re no threat to you; we only want to talk.”  Impossibly, the piercing pain in his head intensified until it felt like it was being squeezed between two boulders.  He gasped and squeezed his eyes shut again.  “Make it stop!” he hissed. 

Again he received no reply and he lashed out in anger.  “Why are you doing this?  We came in good faith; we only want to talk!” 

A cold, rough hand took hold of his chin, startling him.  His eyes flew open in time to see a small, metal device being lowered towards his face.  The hand on his chin squeezed, forcing his mouth open and he fought to keep it closed.  The hand tightened but he was no match for its strength.  The device was pushed into his mouth and he felt one end wrap around his tongue and the other anchor itself to his chin.  His voice was silenced. 

His eyes lifted higher until he was gazing into the luminescent blue eyes of his captor.  The being turned away before Daniel could get a good look at its other features, the eyes having captured his full attention.  He felt completely helpless; unable to move and no voice to try and reason with.  And no sign of Jack, Sam, or Teal’c. 

He tried to relax, hoping it would lessen the pain in his head, but the voices were still there, jumbled together so he couldn’t pick out just one to try and understand.  Movement caught his eye and he shifted his head what little he could, following the being as it approached him again. 

He wasn’t normally afraid of needles.  He’d been poked enough during his time at the SGC for it to become normal, even routine.  But now he found himself shaking, his heart racing at an ever increasing speed.  He blinked, hoping the fuzzy image would disappear.  No such luck.  Even without his glasses (and where had those gone?) he could see the syringe grasped in the hand moving towards him.  It might look different from its Earth counterpart, but there was no doubt in his mind as to what it was. 

If only he could tell them to stop, to listen to him.  If only...

Now the hand holding the syringe moved towards his arm, the yellow liquid inside swirling ominously.  Stop!  Wait!  Please! 

He looked up, straight into the face of the one holding the syringe.  How many times had he seen Janet’s, and more recently, Carolyn’s, comforting smile looking back at him?  Not this time.  Only vivid blue eyes set on either side of a bony nasal ridge looked back at him.  There was no comfort there. 

The syringe touched his skin and he flinched, as much as was possible with his arms tied down.  Coldness spread through him as the liquid entered his body.  He tried to yell around the bulky device in his mouth, knowing it was useless.

Limbs tingling now, he closed his eyes, drifting. The voices in his head slowly diminished until they were just background noise.  Whatever they’d done to him, he was at least thankful for this one small grace.  From the dying cacophony of voices, one carried to him, clear and comforting: Rest. As he slipped into unconsciousness, his last thought was almost a prayer:  Please let the others be safe. 

They will be.


Cameron Mitchell was a mixture of anger and nervousness all balled into one pissed-off USAF Colonel.  The glare from the alien transporter was still playing havoc with his vision but not enough that he couldn’t make out the chaos on the bridge of the Hammond. Womack’s voice carried clear across the small space as she barked out orders to her scuttling crew, demanding a reinforcement of the ship’s already maxed-out shields and a scan of the alien vessel still looming large on the viewscreen.

“Passive scanners are offline—”

“Lieutenant, kidnapping SG-1 from the bridge of my vessel hardly counts as a passive act.  Hit them with everything we’ve got.  What about the transponder signals from their subcutaneous transmitters?”

The young lieutenant at the communications station wore a mask of forced control as she fed orders into the Hammond’s computer network, sighing audibly as it returned a negative hit.  “Nothing, ma’am.  IT reports a server overload in the mainframe.  I can’t even access the gravity plating subroutine to restore environmental controls in the fighter bays.”

Cameron rubbed his left eye and squinted at her through the right one. “What happened in the fighter bay?”

Womack swiveled in her chair to face him.  “Whatever technology they used to beam SG-1 straight through our shields, disrupted several of our key systems including the artificial gravity controls.”

“But only in the fighter bay?”

The colonel flicked her gaze towards the beleaguered operations officer, who offered her a wan smile and a small nod.  “Apparently so,” she replied sourly.

“Oddly selective, don’t you think?”

Womack shrugged.  “Personally, considering their level of technology, I’m surprised they didn’t blow us out of the sky the moment we arrived, or at least disable our defense capabilities.”

“Too small,” he muttered, and then catching Womack’s confused look, added, “Perhaps they didn’t consider us enough of a threat.”

“Maybe,” she conceded. “Or the disabling of gravity control was a by-product of their beaming technology.  Too hard to tell, and right now we’ve got bigger issues to deal with.”

One look at the harried state of the bridge crew told Cameron that gravity and shields were sitting atop what was quite likely a long repair list.  Whatever the alien vessel had done, it had left the Hammond and her crew stranded.  “What about sublight engines?”

“Sorry.” Womack shook her head.  “Maneuvering thrusters, and only on the starboard side.”

“Great! So we can turn in a tight circuit but that’s it?”

In a moment of great timing, the comms officer announced, “Ship wide communications have been restored, Colonel.”

“Hallelujah!” The praise wasn’t meant to sound sarcastic but a quick glance at Womack, her stare pinned fast on him, told him it had been taken that way.  “Well,” he said, looking back at the viewscreen, “we’ve got bigger fish to fry at this barbeque.”

“You’ve got to be joking!  What can you possibly hope to achieve going up against them with the ship in this condition?”

Cameron turned away from the viewscreen to seek out the rest of his team.  Finding Vala with her head inside an open crystal housing, he called her over.  “Find Kal’tok and Grogan and get yourselves kitted up. We’re leaving.”

“We are?”  She looked hesitantly around the bridge, before leaning in close and whispering, “I’m not terribly fond of those space suit things you had me wear that one time.  They do nothing for my claustrophobia.”

“Since when have you been claustrophobic?”

“Well,” she chewed on her bottom lip and drew her brow tight. “I’m not, well, not really, but if it gets me out of wearing one I could be.”

“Now, Vala!” Cameron said, nodding towards the open door.  Letting out a long sigh when she left without further comment, he turned back to Womack. “Tell me we still have beaming capability?”

“Mitchell, if you’re planning on going over there—”

Cameron forestalled her with a raised hand.  “Look, these people,” he nodded towards the viewscreen, “asked Jackson to choose emissaries, so I’m going to assume SG-1 is over there doing what they do best.  That said we can’t take their success as being guaranteed. I’m taking my team down to the surface to see if we can convince the local population to leave.  Do we or do we not have beams?”

Womack turned to her ops officer. “Kaplan?” 

“As far as I can tell the beaming equipment wasn’t affected.”

“As far as you can tell?”  Cam asked.  “You don’t know?”

“I’m sorry, sir,” Kaplan replied.  “We’ve been looking at critical systems first: Propulsion, shields, gravity control, that type of thing.  With the ship’s internal communications down, there was no need to check on the beaming equipment until—”

“Until we could talk to each other.  I get it, Captain.  But the equipment looks like its functioning?”

“Reports in the green, sir.”

“Good enough for me.”


Jack O’Neill had never been good at waiting.  His usual method of dealing with the frustration was to pace, but, in his current situation, that wasn’t possible.  He’d been returned to his own personal holding cell, awakening to find Carter and Teal’c watching him from their containment fields and Daniel nowhere to be seen.  They’d exchanged information, which turned out to be minimal as none of them had seen anyone while they were gone.  Conversing was difficult through the containment fields, though, and eventually they’d all fallen silent. 

Time had continued to tick by and still Daniel didn’t return.  Jack didn’t need to look at his watch to know Daniel’s absence was stretching longer than any of theirs had been.  Dismissing all of the possible bad things that could indicate, he chose to focus on more positive possibilities: Daniel was probably negotiating with them right now, securing their release and deterring the Furlings—or whoever these aliens were—from leaving a path of dead planets in their wake as they traveled across the galaxy.  That, or Daniel had talked them into a catatonic stupor.

With the option of pacing taken away from him, Jack decided shouting would be the next best way to release his frustration.  “Hey!  We came here to talk—why won’t you show yourselves?  And where’s our teammate?”

The empty, quiet room remained just that—empty and quiet.  Seconds stretched into minutes and, just as Jack was about to sound off again, light flashed around him.


part 3




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