Chains of Freedom

                                                                                                                                           By:  hariboo_smirks   



CATEGORY:  Alternate Universe, Romance






Installment 1:  Parts 1-16





It was dark and Daniel’s eyes burned from the smoke, fire and ash. He felt Jack urging him forward while Cameron carries an unconscious Skaara back towards the ship. Abydos was burning and they were running.


A peaceful and uncomplicated planet, nobody had been prepared for the Goa’uld air strike, for the thousand of Jaffa soldiers that had descended and had begun the Purging. It had taken everybody by surprise; the Goa’uld had not stepped foot on Abydos or any other planet in this system for centuries. A forgotten planet, except now Ra’s forces burned through it like a plague. The Abydonian armies had tired to fight them off only to get crushed- ants under an elephant.


Daniel and Jack had fought as well, had tried to help, to protect their beloved home. But they had been captured along with their families and many others. They had been forced to watch as their wives and children were killed in front of them because Ra had no need for pregnant women, and children. He had not come looking for hosts but for strong workers and slaves; women and children were expendable.


And now he, Jack, Cam, and Skarra were free, unfortunately their escape came to late. Sha’re, his beautiful Sha’re, was dead as was the child she had been carrying. It would have been their first, a tiny soul that would never be born. Right now Daniel didn’t know if his eyes burned because of the fire or his tears.


Feeling some pull on his arm he looked over at Jack- he hadn’t even notice he had fallen behind.


“Daniel! Move it, we need to get out of here!” Jack urged him forward but Daniel’s brain could only focus on one thing: Sha’re, he was leaving her.


“Jack, I can’t.” I can’t leave her. They killed her. I can’t leave her.


“Daniel.” I know. They killed them too.


“We need to move, Daniel.” The staff blasts were getting closer and Jack pulled him towards Cam and Skaara. Survival overtakes grief and Daniel follows Jack. Jack was focused, he only had one goal right now- get them out; he would mourn and grieve after, when he was still alive to able to so. Jack was a soldier- sometimes Daniel forgot that.


Getting to Cam’s ship they stare at each other. It was too small, a small fighter, not meant to carry three grown men and a teenage boy.


“Jack, we’re not going to fit.” It was left to Daniel to point out the obvious, as he took Skaara from Cam.


“We’ll make ourselves fit. We just need to improvise… Cam? You got a tool box in there?”


“Yeah. What do you need?” Cam became a soldier ready to take any order from his commanding officer.


“I need you to take that back seat apart, right now. I’ll cover us in case any of those snake boys get too close.”


Cam went pathetically pale; the mere idea to hurting his baby is breaking his heart…. Take Areyn apart? He was about to argue when he looked at his brother in law’s face. Determination. Anger. Rage. Survival. His argument evaporated.


“Give me a minute.” Cam had never worked so fast in his life.


Five minutes later the four of them were crammed in to the small fighter getting ready to leave the inferno that had been their home. In the distance the fires and weapons blast were fading, leaving scorched earth and death in their wake.


Daniel looked over at what had been his home for the last ten years.


“Jack.” It’s gone.


“I know.”


Cam fired the engines. “Okay, here goes, hang on.” The ship takes off and Abydos becomes smaller. Daniel felt his heart shrink accordingly.


They had barely made it out of the atmosphere when they feel weapons blast. “Shit! Gilders. Hang on back there, I’m gonna try to get rid of them.” Cam pushed forward, twisting the fighter into an impossible arch to avoid the Death Gilder that was coming toward them. Returning fire Cam suddenly got a flash of Sara and Charlie’s faces, his sister and nephew. Dead because of Goa’uld. Pushing Areyn harder Cam flew at the Glider. This was for them.


Circling around he fired again. The Glider exploded; orange fire blossoms burned with the stars. Locking on the other one Cam throttled forward and fired again; dodging the returning fire he felt Daniel and Jack slam against his seat. The Gilder is still on his tail, pulling up he felt his ship shake as his right wing was hit.


And the world turned white.


                                                       * * * *

Jacob Carter, Lantean Ambassador to the Tok’ra, could not believe what he saw. Abydos was dead. There was no other word for it. The once beautiful planet was now a ball of death, a graveyard for millions. The System Lords were getting desperate in light of Anubis’s new found concentration of taking over the galaxy, killing System Lords if he had to.


“We have them, sir, and the tractor beam is pulling in the ship.” Turning to Captain Pendergrast Jacob nods.


“As soon as that ship is on board I want us out of here, Captain.”


“Yes, sir.”


Taking one last look at Abydos, Jacob sighs and begins heading down towards the infirmary. Damn the Goa’uld.


When he reached the infirmary he looked over their refugees, heading over to one. He looked at the young man. Daniel Jackson. Almost as if he sensed a presence next to him the kid opened his eyes.


“J-Jacob?” Confusion and relief darted across his face, his voice dry.


“Yeah kiddo, it’s me.” Covering the boy’s hand Jacob offered his silent support; this must be a nightmare for him.


“What- How?”


Elizabeth.” Jacob sighed, “She found out about the Purging and managed to get word to Sam, who thankfully was able to get in touch with me. We—I’m sorry we couldn’t get here sooner.” The poor kid, losing his family- again. A family he had just begun to build.


“What about…” Too exhausted to look around Daniel still tried to find his friends with his eyes.


“Don’t worry, they’re okay. We had to put Cam in the regeneration tank, the others are still resting.”


“Goo-“ And with that Daniel drifted off.


Seven Years Later


In a dark, small room where the air was sick with the imprints of the many that had died here Oma Desala sat quietly. A stone letting the river rage around her. In the distance footsteps approached- her death advanced, at least that’s what Anubis believed.


When he had found her, he had done everything short of killing her to get her to reveal the location of The First and the weapon. But Oma had remained silent. Physical pain was nothing but the wax that dripped from the candle- the flame still burned bright.


Apparently he had finally grown tired of her and the footsteps, now closer, signaled her death and rebirth. Oma smiled. The board was set and the pieces moved closer together, even now she could feel it all happening.


The universe was vast and it surrounded her, every cell, every molecule, it was part of her now and she part of it.


As the footsteps reached the door, the bright light that engulfed the room blinded the guards.


In the distance Anubis raged.


Oma smiled wider.


                                                       * * * *

Somewhere a pair of silver eyes opened.


                                                     * * * * * *

CHAPTER 1:  Initium


Jack O’Neill stared out of the bridge room of The Prometheus, his ship, well really more like his, Daniel and Cameron’s ship, but whatever. For almost seven years this had been his home, after Abydos and their return to Lantea, where the three had finished healing. But they just couldn’t stay there, everything that they had love had been destroyed, leaving them broken and Lantea had not been able to fix them. So with the help of Elizabeth, Daniel’s cousin and VIP of the diplomatic community, they had managed to procure a ship, The Prometheus, an older model of the Lantean’s X-302s; a strong and resilient ship. A new beginning for all of them. Well, for almost all of them- Skarra had not joined them, the boy was still young and could regain some of what he had lost. He had not been happy at first, especially having to move in with Daniel’s grandfather, but now he was doing well. In fact he was going to be joining Elizabeth’s team as soon as he finished his schooling.


Jack would be the first to admit that running a recovery and salvage operation was not what he thought he would be doing at this time of his life, but it wasn’t all that bad. Elizabeth had managed to get them a pretty sweet deal. And with their habit of interfering with Goa’uld plans they had built up a pretty solid reputation in some circles: the Lantean humans that openly opposed and defied the Goa’uld. The Lanteans that had defeated Ra.


Even now that name made Jack entire being fill with rage. And even though the Goa’uld that had killed his family was now dead there were many others that were destroying other families and Jack had long ago vowed to stop them all.


And that was what they tried to do in between taking jobs and drifting through space; Jack and his crew were basically know for being pains in the Goa’uld’s mikita. That made him smile. Who would have thought that he, Jack O’Neill, would have found his purpose on a space ship. And that was exactly what the Prometheus gave him –purpose.


“Captain, we’re receiving a wave,” Walter, the bridge’s main controller announced breaking Jack out of his musings.


“Who is it?”


“Uh.. It’s nobody, sir.” Confusion filled the man’s voice.


“What do you mean, it’s nobody? It can’t be nobody, somebody must have sent it.”


“It’s not video, sir, but a data burst. I can’t make heads or tails of it, it doesn’t seem to be written in any of the known languages.”


“What? Are you sure?” Jack didn’t like this. Messages written in languages that weren’t in the database of known languages, of which there were more than…uh…well…a lot was never a good sign.


“Wait, sir, there’s something else. A name…” Walter went strangely silent then.


“Well? What name?”


“Daniel Jackson.”


Yep, Jack didn’t like this one bit.


                                                       * * * *

Daniel Jackson was, as usual, holed up in his office on the Prometheus. Currently, he was pouring over an old text form, Langara. It spoke about an ancient city that rose above the clouds, a floating city of the Old Ones, the First Ones. It would be the discovery of the millennia and proof that the Goa’uld where not the supreme power of the galaxy that they claimed to be. There was just something about the text that struck Daniel. It was important, he could feel it in his bones, but whatever it was kept on eluding him.


Reaching for his coffee…


“Daniel! Get your ass up here!” Damn it! He had almost spilled his coffee. Cursing Jack in several languages he pressed on the com.


“What is it, Jack? I’m kinda busy here.”


“Got a wave that might interest you.” Jack sounded odd, not amused but definitely something.


“Any particular reason why?”


“Well it’s addressed to you. Just get up here.” Grumbling Daniel put his mug down and headed up to the bridge. Why didn’t Jack just save the wave and give to him later, didn’t he understand that he had work to do? Sighing, he entered the bridge.


“Fine I’m here, what is it?”


“Take a look, Danny boy.”


Moving past Jack he looked over the wave and felt his mouth fall open. This was impossible. Amazing, this couldn’t be…but it was.


The message was written completely in Tau’rian. A language that had long been wiped from the known records of the galactic knowledge storage base. A language no one had spoken in more than a decade. Very few people knew it and even fewer admitted to knowing it.


The message read: “Daniel Jackson, Το φως καίει φωτεινό και το τσάι είναι αναμένει τώρα. Ο κόμβος έχει διευκρινιστεί και το νήμα είναι ομαλό και ισχυρό. Η σκιά Anubis αποδυναμώνει στα αστέρια. Το ΑΠΟΡΡΙΜΜΑ κρατά το πλήκτρο Σε μια αρχαία πέτρα. Βρείτε τη γνώση Excalibur. Θα παρουσιάσει το μονοπάτι στον πρώτο. Oma Dessala.”


“Walter I’m gonna need a copy of this.”


                                                       * * * *

It was moments like the one he currently found himself in that Teal’c wondered how he had come to this life.


Currently hiding in the back of an extremely dodgy bar, his hood masking his mark of the Jaffa, watching (and waiting for the inevitable trouble that would come) as his partner entranced a room full of assassins and mercenaries all the while trying to steal Argo Talian’s data disc from under the man’s nose. Normally this wouldn’t be any more than a quick in and out, but apparently whatever was on this data disc was very valuable because Talian did not part with it; this meant that his partner would have to get very close to the man- dangerously close.


Yes, indeed it was in moments like this that the course that his life had taken surprised the former First Prime of Apophis. He used to be Teal’c of Chulak, First Prime of Apophis; a feared and deadly warrior. Now he was, for the lack of a better word, a smuggler, a thief, and a pirate, pick what you will. He now lived on the fringe; being Shol’va had required this, yet oddly enough he was content in this new life, as unorthodox as it was. Being First Prime had taken everything from him- his family, his freedom, his hope, but now he was free. Free of the Goa’uld, as much as a Jaffa could be.


To many it wouldn’t be much of a life: A smuggler’s ships, two small (yet powerful) fighters, a rather eccentric partner and the jobs that they garnered. But it was a life, a free life, which was much more than many of his brothers could ask for.


Movement at the other end of the bar caught his attention. Vala was moving. It appeared that she had gotten the data disc. Sending a small nod his way, she headed towards the door. Halfway there a shot rang out and the slug struck the wall scant inches from Vala’s head.


It appeared that Talian had noticed his missing disc. Shit.


“Stop right there!” Argo’s voice cut through the bar as a dozen men went to reach for their own weapons. Assassins and mercs- always ready for a fight. Teal’c inwardly sighed, things never seemed to go simply when dealing with Vala— a hazard of the job and their friendship. He readied himself.


“Oh.. I’m sorry do you mean me, darling?” Vala played her part perfectly, her voice became the perfect mix of confusion and innocence, her eyes turned wide and bright, her posture became similar to one of a child just scolded. Teal’c smirked.


“Damn right I mean you! You think you can con me. I have a sensor that tells me when my property is more than three feet from me.” Argo Talian did not look happy or willing to fall for Vala’s act.


“Really? You do? They forgot to mention that… Oh well.” Sighing, Vala pulled her gun on him, “you’d do to stay there Argo, I’d really rather not shoot up this fine establishment.” All around them the other patrons were getting restless, wanting to see what would happen, but nobody moved seeing as it didn’t affect any of them personally- they just liked the show.


Argo Talian didn’t. Pointing his gun at Vala’s head, he yelled, “ Give me my disc back!” The man was not happy; Vala for her part didn’t even blink, smiling wide.


“Now, now, Argo I don’t think you’ll be wanting to do that, because darling I fear that you might get shot, you know, considering your arsenal is useless.”


“What? Useless? We’ll see…” Teal’c moved forward as Argo shot at Vala, but surprisingly, Vala didn’t even try to move.


“Wha…” When nothing came out of the gun, Teal’c held back. Shaking the mag cartridge at Argo Vala smiled wider. “Missing something? It appears that you had one bullet in the barrel when I took this from you. Ooops!” Signaling Teal’c to the door, Vala began to head out keeping her gun pointed at Argo as she did.


For all that could be said about the smuggler you couldn’t say that she wasn’t good. Perhaps this will go well after all, Teal’c thought.


At least until another shot rang out. Vala managed to dodge it for the most part, but the bullet grazed her upper arm. Turning her gun on the new players, Vala rolled her eyes. Three men, all the size of a small house, stood behind Argo and all pointing their guns at her. Well, fuck.


“I’m not stupid, wench. I never travel alone, not when I know greedy little putana’s like you are out there.”


Standing, Vala didn’t back down, she just held her head higher. “Well Argo I’m well aware that you’re not as stupid as you insist upon looking, but what I find amusing is that you seem to think I am…” And with that Vala and Teal’c both shot at the group of men. Two down. As all hell broke out, Argo’s men shot at them but were not prepared for Teal’c coming out of the shadows. It helped that the rest of the bar joined the fight.


Vaulting over a table, Vala joined Teal’c by a fallen table that he was using for cover.




“Indeed.” Finding their way to the door, covering each other, Teal’c and Vala made their way out.




Back on the ship Vala sat in the co-pilot’s chair and played catch with the disc as Teal’c got them ready to leave.


“Is that wise, Vala Mal Doran?”


Vala just waved him off. “I’m being perfectly careful.” Ironically just as she said that the disc almost slipped from her hands. Teal’c just raised an eyebrow. Vala reddened slightly.


“Fine, I’ll go put it in the safe. You know, Muscles, this little thing better be worth what Li Chen is asking for, because I need recompression from the damage I suffered today.”


“Did you not just receive a small graze?”


“Oh, that’s just physical, I meant mental and emotional. I had to sit with that man for far too long… So, do you think we can squeeze more out of Chen?” Vala’s silvery eyes sparkled at the idea.


Teal’c just gave his friend a look. A look Vala knew well, it was the one that said ‘I don’t want to raise my eyebrow at you again, but I will if you make me’.


“I do not believe that would be in our best interests. Plus I believe that if I counted correctly, which I believe I did, you were only near ArgoTalian for less than 15 minutes.”


Vala pouted. “15 minutes too long, darling. Way too long.”


As they broke atmo Vala contacted Li Chen, setting up the meet in Katana, a trading planet only a few hours away. Ending the wave, Vala gave Teal’c the information about the meet point as they entered hyperspace.


They were barely out of hyperspace over Katana when they received a wave that woke Vala from her impromptu nap.


“Teal’c?” Voice still groggy from sleep Vala pushed herself up on the seat.


“It seems that we have received a data burst, for you.”


“For me? What does it say it’s from?”


“That is odd, it appears to have no origin. But this not a language I am familiar with” Vala didn’t like the sound of that. Neither Teal’c nor she were linguists but they both had a fair knowledge of the various languages spoken through out the galaxy.


Curiosity and apprehension washed over her before she decided to look at the message. Immediately Vala felt as if someone had gripped her heart. This was written in her native tongue- Tau’rian. The language of her now dead world.


Vala Mal Doran, Ο δρόμος είναι στρωμένος και ο πρώτος αρχίζει να ξυπνά. Η γνώση του Excalibur αναμένει την κόρη του παλαιού. Kheb


The message was short but Vala understood it immediately. It was time.


“Teal’c, wave Li Chen, tell him that we need to move up the drop point. I’m going to go get ready.” Her voice had gone soft and was wavering; trying to break down and let out the emotion the message had conjured in her.


“Is something wrong, my friend?” Teal’c deep voice, usually soothing to Vala made her want to cry. Steeling herself she just nodded.


“The time has come.” With that Vala left the cockpit and headed to the back of the ship leaving Teal’c to feel very unsettled at his friend’s sudden change in attitude. And to Teal’c feeling unsettled was not something he enjoyed.


In her room Vala lay face down on her bed. She knew she should go back out there and talk to Teal’c, her friend didn’t like to be left in the dark and to be honest he deserved to know the truth, she owed him that much after five years of friendship and sticking his neck out for her. But what could she say…the truth? That a prophecy was made thousands of years ago in her world by a group of people that had supposedly hidden an ancient and powerful weapon along with the First? A weapon that could kill the Ascended Ones. That the weapon could only be found and wielded by the last child of the First World, that the same child would wake The First- an awesome power that would strike down the enemies of the galaxy in one fell swoop? And that as the last member of the Tau’ri it was all up to her?

Ha! Yeah right! Teal’c would think she was crazy, well crazier than he already believed her to be; or worse, he’d want to help her, join her in the search that could very well lead to their deaths. Because Vala understood this was a one-way trip; for the Priestess to send this message something must have happened, something bad.


Sitting up she wiped away the tears that had fallen and reached under her bed. There was an old wooden box, inside it held all that was left of her world, of her family, and fingering it she straightened her back and made a choice. Death would be nothing because she’d finally be able to fulfill the oath she had made the day she felt her planet die—she was going to stop Anubis and the Goa’uld.


A/N: Forgot to mention this in the first chapter but many many thanks to my fabulous beta sorrelrowan. She deserves many cookies and hugs!



CHAPTER II:  Latvian Gambit


For Daniel translating the message had been the somewhat easy part. Tau’rian had never been one his major languages, but he had managed pretty well. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to have translated the message because he now needed to find the code hidden in it.


It was there. He knew it like he knew that if they let Cam run the engine room by himself again, they’d all probably be floating in zero-G-- and once had been more than enough for everybody. He knew this, because during his brief time studying with Oma she always told him to look beyond. Well, he was looking beyond; he was looking so beyond that he could practically see Lantea on the other side of the galaxy.


This was frustrating. Infuriatingly so.


Not that he was really all that surprised. Oma herself had always like to see him sweat- enlightened my ass, he thought. Always talking in puzzles and codes when he knew she didn’t have to. She just liked messing with him.


We look beyond to find the answers that lie at our feet. Oma’s voice suddenly rang through his head. Look beyond to see what’s right in front of you, he repeated it over in his head like a mantra. Looking at the message he shook his head in disbelief. It was right there! He had been so busy trying to decipher the message, looking for hidden clues that he didn’t realize the clues weren’t hidden at all. It was right there- ‘Cast in an ancient stone’.


The words were normal, simple really; as a linguist he was used to translating language and adjusting for the little things that were lost in the translation. So the capitalizations of certain words and letters, he had just thought was one of those things, but no it was anything but. It was the answer.


‘CAST IN AN Ancient stone.’


CASTIANA. Castiana.


It was right there, spelled out for him. Shaking his head again he acknowledged Oma’s simple brilliance- okay, maybe enlightened did apply.


Going over to the com, he called the bridge. “Jack, I know where we have to go.”


                                                       * * * *

Sam Carter looked over at her best friend as he described his breakthrough in deciphering the rather cryptic message they had received a couple of days ago.

“Well, after I translated the message, which was actually the easy part, I had to understand what it was trying to tell me. A lot gets lost in the translation, especially if you don’t have a sophisticated understanding of the said language. The phonetic rhythm can get lost for one thing and that could lead to mixing up key elements of the flow in the terminology. Dialect is also important- words can mean different things in certain places, and certain words also have unique etymologies, different roots, which can lead to completely different connotation if you use the wrong root. “


“Daniel! That’s great, really. But what’s the point?”


Sam had to suppress a laugh at that; Jack was never one for Daniel’s sometimes, okay usually, longwinded explanations. And Daniel never seemed to get the hint, or chose to ignore the fact that in his torture of Jack.


“Wha..” At Jack’s look, Daniel just rolled his eyes. “Fine, well the point is…”


“Finally”, muttered Cam, only to receive a glare from Daniel and a couple snickers for the other occupants of the room.


“The point is that we need to go to Castiana.”


“Castiana?” Sam knew of the planet, it was one of the many held buy the Protected Planets Accord, but it was also a dead world. Nobody had lived there for centuries. It also wasn’t that close. “That’s in the Cerise quadrant, it would take us a week to get there.”


“I know I already checked it out. Look, I know it’s pretty far, but if you see here there’s seem to be a temple right here on the north side of this continent.” Pulling up a table map Daniel pointed to what was a prominent structure on the northern most continent of Castiana.


Sam leaned over to get a better look at the topography of the planet. There was definitely a structure there and a pretty big one, but if Sam was reading it right it looked like it was on a jetty and half sunken into the surrounding ocean. Glancing over at the date when the satellite picture was taken she saw that it had been several years ago.


“I dunno, Daniel. If I’m reading this right, and I’d like to think that I am, the structure is probably half in the ocean by now, if not more. Are you sure? Castiana hasn’t even had any human inhabitants in years.” Sam could see the excitement in her friend’s eyes, but she also needed him to know the odds of the situation.


“Look, I know how it sounds- a fool’s errand, but Sam… I…there’s clearly something there and it wouldn’t hurt to check it out. And if I’m right and we do find the knowledge of Excalibur, we could be well on our way to stopping Anubis and the Goa’uld. Tell me that isn’t a chance you would take?”


“I’m not disagreeing, I’m just letting you know the probability of success. I mean we got this message under pretty strange circumstances.”


“Thank you! That’s exactly what I’ve been saying.” Jack exclaimed, and Sam knew he didn’t like the idea of going on a wild goose chase because of a rather obscure message. While Sam agreed on several levels—what if Daniel was right? This could be a major impediment of the Goa’uld power over the galaxy.


“Sir, while I agree it’s risky, I think it’s also a significant opportunity. If Daniel is right,” Sam sent a quick grin to her friend, “and he usually is about this sort of stuff; this could mean stopping Anubis and I think that’s a risk to take.”


“Hey it’s not like I’m not saying this is a great, grand, fantastic…whatever opportunity, I’m just asking if you all are willing to go. This is big and I will not commit to it if anybody objects to it. I may be the captain of this boat, but we all live on it.” Jack looked over at all the crew that had gathered for this rather epic meeting as the conference room was very rarely used (at least for meetings- there were bi-monthly poker nights held in it).


At that Daniel let out a sigh. “Jack’s right. I’m sorry all of you, I shouldn’t commit you to this if any of you feel uncomfortable.” He looked remiss and, worst of all, pouty. Sam sighed, and knew it was over- the ‘puppy dog Daniel eyes’ were coming out full force. If Daniel ever understood the power they held nobody in the universe would be safe.


Rolling his eyes Jack echoed Sam and Daniel’s sighs. “Oh, for god’s sakes Daniel- you don’t need to apologize… Now look here everybody, now you know what’s going on, so just be honest. I know it’s asking a lot.”


Cam looked over the room. “Let me get this straight, if this works we stop Anubis and Goa’uld from doing whatever the hell they feel like with the galaxy?”

“Well.. Yes, but…” Daniel started before Cam cut him off.


“Okay then, when do we leave?” Ever since his sister’s death, stopping the Goa’uld had been Cam’s major driving force. Something he sometimes followed too enthusiastically.




“We’re with you, aren’t we?” After a resounding chorus of affirmatives Jack nodded.


“All right then, Danie,l give the coordinates to Walter. We’re going to Cantina.”




                                                       * * * *

Katana was a planet of traders. Every city, every town was over run with trading post and open market; all of them full of jewels, furs, weapons, and naquahdah in every form. Everything you could think of was traded, naquahdah and weapons being the most lucrative of the bunch. Vala had always loved it. The smell of cooking spices at the food stands, the colors of the tarps that merchants put up to attract customers, the people and their noises; the planet was so full of life, albeit sometimes crooked life, but Vala loved it all the same. Unfortunately today it felt as if a cloud hung over her, it made everything seem greyer and lifeless.


She looked over at Teal’c and let out a small, practically imperceptible sigh. Her friend was not happy with her, not that she really blamed him. Before, on the ship he had asked if she was okay after her return from her room- she had lied and said she was. And he knew, and she had known he would, which had them leaving the ship with this new tension between them. Vala was not used to this. In all the years since she and Teal’c had met back on Selenis they had always gotten along well. Sure she probably annoyed him a bit, but she had never really lied to him before- not like this. Vala knew she could deal with a lot of the shit that people threw at her, but having her best friend disappointed (and probably a bit angry) in her was not something she liked. Sighing, she stopped and touched his arm.


“Teal’c?” He turned towards her raising his eyebrow in movement #41: I’m listening. “Can we have a talk when we get back to the ship?” Vala hoped he understood. He just looked at her and Vala felt her anxiousness increase ten-fold.


“Very well, my friend.” Vala let out the breath she had been unconsciously holding. With a wide smile she looped her arm around his as they headed over to the meet. All better, for now at least.


As per usual the meeting spot was an old building of Li Chen’s choosing. Today it seemed to be an old storehouse of paper goods. With a quick assessment of the building and the surrounding area Vala dropped Teal’c’s arm and stood straighter; alert, and ready. Li Chen might be a good employer but that didn’t mean he was to be trusted.


Teal’c and Vala shared a quick look before they entered.


Inside the storehouse was empty save for Li Chen, two of his men, plus the three other ones that were hiding in the rafters and the back. Teal’c gave her a nod signaling that he acknowledged their extra company as well. Showtime.


“Li, darling. How are we?” Vala was bright and bubbly; not letting Li know that she knew he was nervous- extra muscle was never a good sign.


“Do you have it?” Yep, definitely nervous, normally the old man would quip and joke with her, but today he kept looking around as if there was something in the shadows waiting to jump out at him. Well if all he wanted was business today, he was going to get it. Straightening herself Vala gave a quick nod.


“Of course.”


Li’s beady eyes sparkled with palpable greed that had Vala wondering what had gotten the usually composed man so unbalanced. “Good, good. Give it here.”


“Well now darling, I’d love to give this to you,” Vala waved the disc at him, “but I think that we need to see our compensation for the trouble we went to get this. Then you can have it.”


“Yes. Of course, here you are.” The summon minion placed a medium sized case on the table in front of them, then opened it to give Vala a good look at the very agreeable amount of naquahdah that lay inside. Lovely. Just as she moved to grab it, two things happened: staff blast cut through the building and Vala felt herself being tackled to the floor. When she stopped rolling she looked to her attacker.


“Muscles?” Confusion and pain flitted across her face; it had not been a soft tackle at all.


His answer was quick and hushed. “Jaffa. Baal’s forces it appears.” And that was Vala all needed to hear. Cursing, she scrambled up to get some cover. All around her staff fire and gunshots were being exchanged. Quickly pulling off her scarf she tossed it over to Teal’c, who promptly tied it over his tattoo. The last thing either of them needed was for Baal’s troops to recognize him. Firing over at the Jaffa, Vala eyes found Li Chen and the naquahdah case; he looked to be holding his own…Bang! Never mind. She zeroed in on the naquahdah.


“We need to get that naquahdah.” Teal’c gave her eyebrow #36- ‘You’re kidding me, right?’


“We need it for the ship and if we do decide to take the message seriously…” Vala trailed off and hoped he would take the bait.


“You will need to cover me.” He gave her a look that clearly said ‘I know what you just tried to do, but I will do as you ask’, and like hell she wasn’t going to take it.


“I gotcha.”


As Teal’c ran forward to get the naquahdah Vala tried her best to make sure that none of the Jaffa or Chen’s men got close to her partner while simultaneously trying not get herself killed. And she had to admit this was getting rather annoying; with their armor, the Jaffa were very well protected against her bullets so it meant her shots took longer as she tried to zero in on their weak spot. Dodging what would have been a nasty staff blast, Vala hid behind a post.


“Next time we’re bringing zats! I don’t care what planet we’re on!” Getting no answer form her friend Vala felt her worry increase. “Te--Muscles!?” She only remembered at the last second not to call Teal’c by his given name, in case of the Jaffa got curious. Thankfully, this time he did answer.


“I have acquired the case.” Vala let out a sigh, looking over she saw that while it was true that he did indeed have the case, but grabbing it had left him in a vulnerable position- he was pinned down and Vala had to helplessly watch as he was struck down.




Rushing over to her friend Vala cursed herself, if he died…no! She couldn’t think that way. How she got to him without getting shot herself she would never know, but there he was and Vala could see the blood seeping out of his shoulder.


“Teal’c?” she whispered. “Muscles?”


“I am well Vala Mal Duran. It appears to be only a flesh wound, but I would suggest that we leave the premises.” His voice was strained and Vala knew he was mostly appeasing her; Teal’c could have ten arrows sticking out his body and would call them all ‘flesh wounds’ as well. Helping him, Vala moved them behind a large crate for protection form the chaos around them.


“Yea.. Let’s go. There’s the back way, do you think you can make it?”


“I believe so. Let us go.” At that Vala moved to grab the case only to have Teal’c fight her for it.


“You’re hurt, let me take it.”


“I am capable of handling this, and you will need to make sure no more bullets reach me.” He was joking with her, but Vala was still upset, she had almost gotten him killed.


Vala frowned. “It’s not funny.”


“Our work has always been dangerous, Vala Mal Duran.” And almost as if fate wanted to remind them of that fact, the man Li Chen had on the rafters fell next to them shot dead. “I believe now would be a suitable time to make out escape.”


“Read my mind.” With that they headed towards the back, keeping low to the ground avoiding as best they could the Jaffa that seemed hell bent on taking out Li Chen and his men. Apparently they weren’t that interested in Vala and Teal’c, something they were grateful for at that moment. When they got outside they could still hear the staff blast and gunshots, but they didn’t dwell on them as they rushed back to the ship. If the Jaffa won this, which it was looking like they would, and one of Chen’s men talked, it was very possible that Vala and Teal’c could be looking at some trouble they desperately did not want.


When they got back to the ship Vala headed straight for the cockpit. They needed to get out off Katana fast; she wasn’t going to take any chances. As soon as she got them into the air Vala made a decision and put in the coordinates for Dakara. Teal’c was her friend but she was not going to commit him to something that could very well get him killed; she would not have his death be because of her. She grabbed their med kit and headed back to the cargo bay.


Teal’c was sitting on crate, applying pressure to his wound, the naquahdah case at his feet. Vala went over and sat next to him.


“Now let us have a look see.” The bullet was still in his shoulder, which meant Vala had to get it out. This was not going to be fun, but at least afterwards Teal’c would be fine- his symbiote would help heal him several times faster than most humans. It was only in moments like this that Vala was grateful for snake in her friend.


“Okay big guy, I’m going to have to get the bullet out, so just try and sit still—this is going to sting a bit. Ready?”


“Yes.” To his merit Teal’c barely even flinched as Vala tended to the wound. After it was cleaned and dressed they sat in silence until Vala abruptly broke it.


“I’ve set the coordinates for Dakara.” At Teal’c’s look Vala continued, rushing the next part out. “I’m dropping you off.” She hated the look of confusion and hurt that crossed his face.


“Am I correct to assume this is because of the message we received, which that you shortly after lied about.” Okay, ouch. Well Teal’c had always been blunt and she did deserve it, hell she was currently practically kicking him off their ship.


“No…” Vala sighed; she didn’t want to lie to her friend. “Yes…the message…that message was form somebody from my planet.” Teal’c just gave her a look of confusion but did not speak, “not from the actual planet—that’s long gone as you know. This came from Kheb, more specifically the priestess of Kheb. Kheb is a planet that certain members of my homeworld would go to study the ways of the First Ones, the path to Ascension. The Priestess that sent the message was originally from my homeworld, Tau’ri.”


Teal’c did not miss that Vala spoke of this woman in the past tense. “Was?”


“Caught that, did you?.. Yep, was, because if I’m right, the fact that she sent the message means that something must have happened, something bad. The Priestess of Kheb is trained to be a solitary person; no attachments-- ‘to know the universe you must separate your self from the world that binds you, for only then you can become one with it’ crazy things like that.”


“You seem knowledgeable in this matter.”


Vala shrugged, “Yeah well, I always was a good student.”


“What do you believe occurred for this message to be sent?”


“I honestly have no idea, but the message basically said that it was time for me to buck up and go find an ancient power that has the ability to stop Anubis and the Goa’uld.”


“I see. But how does this require my leaving? I would believe that my assistance would be useful in this search.”


“Look, Muscles…” Vala had known this wasn’t going to be easy, she had known that would offer his help and stick by her; she had gotten lucky in finding a partner as loyal as Teal’s, but this was too dangerous- even for the Jaffa warrior. Running a hand through her hair she let out a sigh. “It doesn’t require you to do anything. This isn’t because of some rules that say I have to this alone. I’m dropping you off on Dakara because it’s the right thing for you; this is not your fight and you weren’t charged with this ridiculous mission-- I was. I’m now the last person in the galaxy that can do what this will require and I’m not about to drag you into what will no doubt end up being a colossal mess.”


Teal’c gave her eyebrow # 141- ‘listen to me and don’t argue’. “You are wrong. The ending of the Goa’uld is every free Jaffa’s fight. Further more, Vala Mal Duran, am I not an equal member of this partnership?”


“Huh… of course you are.” What did that have to do with anything?


“Then I believe as an equal partner I could not allow you to take a ship that is half mine. I also believe you will need my help and if it is true what you have shared with me, then I would be honored to take part in your quest, my friend.”


“Teal’c…” Vala could feel the moisture build up in her eyes, “you’re are one stubborn son of a bitch.”




Standing and heading to the cockpit Teal’c paused at the door. “What planet do we head to?”


“Castiana. It’s only a day or so out.”


“Very well.”


As he left Vala let a soft smile cross her face, eyes still bright, and contemplated just what she had gotten them into.


                                                       * * * *

Castiana was a cold planet; well at least where the temple was situated was cold. The wind pushed the ocean roughly against the jetty where the temple stood. A large structure with tall spiraling towers and marble steps, the water splashed against its smooth walls that shone in the sun. The day was bright and cold and Teal’c wondered what they would find. His normally vivacious partner seemed equally introspective, she was outwardly worried and that made Teal’c worry more.


They had landed the ship several miles away and were only just reaching their destination. Teal’c looked over at Vala, in her heavy overcoat she seemed smaller, more child-like, ironic considering she usually tended to act child-likein life.


“Are we ready, Vala Mal Duran?”


Snapping out of her musings, Vala looked at Teal’c. “Yea… ready. Let us see what Castiana has in store for us.”


Inside the temple it was cold, and not just because of the weather; the marble looked like ice and the whole place felt as if it would give you frost bite if you touched the walls. Teal’c immediately dislikesd it. It was lifeless and severe; Teal’c had always preferred warmer climates anyway. Vala seemed to look at temple with both distaste and respect, she did not want to be here but she was willing do her task.


“Come on Muscles, we have to head to the lower chambers, that’s probably where we’ll find the room.”


“How do you know this?” Teal’c had always been curious of the knowledge his partner held from her home world, the First World, but he was also aware that she did not enjoy talking about it. This mission, however, has given him the opportunity to learn of things she would not speak to before.


Vala looked over her shoulder with a smile, “The message, beside telling me what I needed to do also held a clue as to where to go. In the message the Priestess called me ‘daughter of the old’, which is easily taken as a reference to Tau’ri as I am the last daughter of the First World, making it the oldest world, well human world, in the galaxy. But it was also a clue of where to go. Back on Tau’ri there was an old legend about a girl called Castiana, she was the one and only daughter of an elderly couple in a village, she had been born very late in her parent’s lives. Before her they hadn’t been able to have children and when she came along they loved her so much that they didn’t want to lose her to the world; she was very beautiful, like all girls in legends are. Which really, I find rather annoying, I mean are we all supposed to be helpless maidens?” Vala turned to Teal’c and rolled eyes, waving her hands over the ornate carving on the temple’s walls.


“Anyways, the parents. They were afraid that because she was so beautiful she would get married and leave them, and they would be childless again; so they hid her in an underground chamber in their house. When they died nobody knew she was in there until the day a thief went in to steal what the couple had left behind.

Of course the thief found her and fell in love her beauty, so he stole her away too. It was a story told to teach about greed and stealing, all very maudlin. Personally I always thought it was stupid, the daughter was a fool for letting her parents to imprison her like that. She should have told them to bugger off and married some rich lord or something.” Heading further into the temple Vala continued, “And, that’s how I know we need to head towards the lower rooms.”


“Because the daughter was kept hidden there?”




“Very well.” After a paused Teal’c added, “I also agree with your assessment of the story.”




“I too, would have encouraged the daughter to tell the parents to ‘bugger off’.” Giving Teal’c a big toothy grin Vala continued forward.


They walked for several minutes until they reached a set of stairs that appeared to lead to the lower chambers; they unfortunately, also appeared to be flooded. In fact it looked like the entire lower levels of the temple were underwater. Cold water.


“Well that’s just great!” Vala did not sound happy, in fact she sounded annoyed and Teal’c could not blame her because he too did not like what this implied. One of them would have to swim. Teal’c did not like what this implied at all.


“So Muscles feel like join me for a swim?” Dropping her bag Vala begun to search though it, “did you bring the thermal suit? I can believe we have to swim that…”


“Indeed I did. I believed we would require it when it was obvious this temple was in such close proximity to the ocean.” He watched as she pulled out a flashlight, gun and a knife, just because she was going underwater did not mean it was safe.


“Well so did, I but I had rather hoped we wouldn’t need it.”


“As did I.” Stripping of her clothes Vala held out her hand for Teal’c to give the suit. The thermal suit was an incredibly annoying thing they had gotten of a trader in Katana, black and bulky, both Teal’c and Vala hated to wear it, unfortunately it came in handy in situations such as this. When Vala finished putting the suit on she looked over at Teal’c.


“You sure you don’t want to go?” She looked hopeful and teasing all at once. Teal’c merely raise an eyebrow (#24- you are not amusing), “Right, I forgot about your aversion to water. Sometimes I still can believe you can’t swim, or is it you’re scared of water?” Her voice was all innocence except for the undercurrent of teasing sarcasm that Teal’c fought to raise both eyebrows at.


“It is not that I am fearful of water or that I am not able to swim Vala Mal Duran, it is that I choose not too. Your helmet.” Teal’c handed over the black head covering at Vala.


“Right, of course.” Her voice still held that teasing tone that disappeared as soon as the helmet went over her head, becoming deeper and disoriented.


“Gods, I hate this thing. I’ll be back in a bit.” And with that Vala dived into the icy water.


                                                       * * * *

Being as he was second in command Cam Mitchell was the one to take Daniel, Sam and a few other members of the crew down to the planet. The cold, windy, harsh planet. It was moments like this that he really envied his brother in law. As captain, Jack got to stay in the relatively warm ship and didn’t have to listen to Sam and Daniel geek out.


He usually didn’t mind being the first one on the ground, but he usually had something to look forward to. A scuffle, a deal gone wrong, women after a space pilot, but today all he was doing was babysitting Daniel and Sam while they ooohed and ahhed over whatever it was they were planning to find in that temple. Personally he was hoping that finding this weapon would be more exciting, because so far walking from the shuttle to the temple in the strong wind was anything but exciting.

Annoying and boring, definitely. They were almost there when Sam spoke up.


“Guys, hold on a second.” Sam paused and began to turn in circles reading something from one of her little doohickeys.


“What’s up?”


“This is odd, but I’m getting some naquahdah reading.”


Daniel gave Sam a confused look. “Naquahdah? Are you sure, because from everything I know learn about this planet I never came across anything stating that it could be a source for naquahdah.”


“I’m sure. I modified this device to locate even the smallest source of naquahdah over a 10-mile radius. And it’s definitely sensing something about 5 miles that way.” Turning left Sam pointed towards where the device was signaling her to go.


“Well that just great, but we’re not here for naquahdah, we here to look at Jackson’s temple. Let’s get that done and when we’re finished with this little adventure we can go check for your naquahdah. Good plan? Thought so. Let’s go.” Cam just wanted to get going, the wind was picking up and he wanted this to be over and done with.


“I know, but wouldn’t it be great if we found a source of naquahdah that the Goa’uld or anyone else knows about; this could be big Cam. I think we should check it out.”


“Yes, it would be great, but what about the temple, Sam? That’s the reason we came here. What we could find there might be even more important than naquahdah.” Cam didn’t even have to argue as Jackson did it for him. Thank god too, because Sam was less likely to argue with Daniel than she was with Cam. Unfortunately he was wrong.


“It doesn’t look to be too far. I’m not saying not go to the temple, I’m saying that I’ll go check the naquahdah reading out and you guys go on.”


“Oh no. Uh! I don’t think so Sam; we stick together. I am not about to let you go off and wander by yourself on a planet we don’t know. Nope, not happening.”


“Did I say alone? Look, I’ll take Ferretti and Michaels, the rest of you can go to the temple. We’ll be in radio contact Cam, don’t worry so much.”


“Don’t worry she says.” Looking over at the group Cam can see that Daniel was practically bouncing in his rush to get to the temple, while Sam’s eyes were doing that glinty thing they did when she possibly found something new to play with. The rest of the men were just waiting for him to appease the Geek Twins, as they were called. With a sigh Cam ran a hand through his hair. “Fine. But we’re in constant radio contact and we meet in 3 hours, I don’t care if we haven’t found anything.” He gave a final look at Sam and Jackson.


“Deal. See you.” And like that Sam headed towards small forest that lay behind them, Ferretti and Michaels trailing her.


“Well now that we settled that, can we head to the temple?” Cam had a feeling that if they waited any longer Daniel might spontaneously combust.


“Yeah. Yeah, lead the way.”


When they reached the temple Cam had to admit it was on hell of a thing, the marble as old as it was shone in the grey sky almost like it was made of ice. As they headed inside he could see the excitement and curiosity on Jackson’s face. He knew that if it was up to his friend they’d be there for days and that was not something he looking forward to. Daniel was currently busy looking at the carved pictography on the temple walls.


“Hey, Sunshine, I know that you would love to stay here and discover every little secret this place has, but we came here for a reason, and according to you a pretty important one at that.”


“I know that Mitchell, if you’d let me finish reading this I could figure out where in the temple we have to look.” Daniel kept looking at walls of the temple like they were talking to him, telling him a story that nobody else could hear. “Okay, if I’m reading this right it says that the planet and the temple were named after a woman who was hidden for many years by her parents, and then rescued by a thief who then took her away from her imprisonment. It looks like they feel in love and they began stealing from people like her parents, greedy people who stashed their treasure away, they’d take this wealth and hid it underground like her parents did her, only to be uncovered by those who looked past dirt and grime.”


“Okaay, that’s great. And what does that tell us?”


Daniel just rolled his eyes. “ It tells us that it’s in an underground chamber, we have to head down.”


“Well why didn’t you just say that part first. Which why do we go?”


“That way.” Daniel pointed toward the back right part of the temple.


“Right, let’s go.”


Daniel took another look at the pictures and the writings that covered the wall, Castiana and her thief, and felt something in him stir. He suddenly had the feeling that whatever he was going to find here was going to change his life.


“Jackson!” Cam called and Daniel snapped out of his thoughts.


As they headed towards the back of the temple they all slowed as they heard something from the next corner. Cam signaled Rylan to take a look. As Rylan stepped forward to look at what lay ahead, Cam and Daniel gave each other a glance. Nobody else was supposed to be here, for all intents and purposes this planet was dead; this was not good. As Rylan headed back he only said one word, “Jaffa.”


Oh, yeah. This wasn’t good at all.


                                                       * * * *

The forest wasn’t all that dense and Sam felt her excitement increase at the prospect of finding a naquahdah source. All in all it was looking like a good day.


“Sam, is that what I think it is?” Lou Ferretti was one of the best members of the crew, practically fearless, he didn’t get nervous at much, so the fact that his tone took a distinct edge did not make Sam feel better. Looking over at what Lou was talking about she felt her good mood drop.


A cargo ship stood in the middle of a clearing.


They were not alone on the planet.




                                                       * * * *

Daniel was not a born fighter like Jack or Cam but over the years he had picked up a few things. He could now shoot, fight, and in a pinch fly a ship almost as well as some of the best Lantean soldiers. In the beginning, in this line of work he had tried not use any weapon, only words; he had learned quickly that words did not always work. Still, he did not like violence, he usually preferred to carry a zat to the numerous guns that they had in the armory. He was not naïve and knew that a Jaffa here of all places was not a good thing. Looking over at Mitchell he waited for his friend’s lead.


Cam signaled to Rylan and Evans to flank them so they completely surround the Jaffa that looks to be waiting by what appears to be a large set of U-shaped stairs that lead to the lower levels of the temple. Daniel did not like the thought of that, which means that some else knows about Excalibur’s knowledge and quite possible the ancient weapon.


He felt somebody tap his should and turns to looked at Cam. They’re getting ready to move.


“Now!” They moved forward while Rylan took the right flank and Evans the left.


Daniel watched as the Jaffa turned to point his weapon directly at him and Cam, he suddenly had the feeling that the warrior had known they were there along, but didn’t do anything. Strange.


“Hold it right there, big guy. Rylan, Evans.” He watched as the Jaffa warrior assessed the situation to see that he was out numbered. He didn’t even look surprised at that, but he didn’t lower his weapon either. Daniel looked around and noticed that the entire lower levels were flooded. That might be a problem later. He focused on the situation at hand.


“Who are you?!” Cam ordered. The Jaffa said nothing. His gun still pointed at them.


“Put the weapon down! We don’t want to hurt you, but we will defend ourselves. And it’s not going to be pretty.” Cam frowned; this was supposed to be an easy in-and-out. “Look, just tell us who you are and what you’re doing here and we’ll let you go.” Cam felt no love for the Jaffa race, but he still preferred not to shoot anyone.


All they got was silence. Except for the slight raising of an eyebrow.


Deciding that they were going get nowhere like this Daniel stepped forward. He lowered his gun and spoke to the Jaffa.


“Hello, hi.” The Jaffa spared him a glance. “I can tell you’re not working for the Goa’uld, you don’t have the right outfit. We are not getting anywhere like this, we’re not here to fight, we’re here to.. Uh…study. My name is Daniel Jackson and we’re…” Daniel got cut of by the sound of something emerging from the water near one the submerged stairways. A figure was rising out of the water, black and armored. It looked like a monster from a child’s dream. It didn’t appear to notice them right away.


“Oi! Muscles!” The voice was mechanic and distorted, “you won’t believe…” and then it noticed the new comers, all pointing guns at the Jaffa. Immediately it springs to action, so fast that Daniel almost missed when it throws a knife at Rylan, imbedding it in his thigh. It was the opening the Jaffa needed and he moved out Mitchell’s gun’s way and grabbed it pitching Cam forward, while at the same time took a shot at Evans that the man barely dodged. Simultaneously the armored figure lifted its self up. Daniel tried to shoot it, but apparently it didn’t work. Shit.


The figure cocked its head at him.


“Oh! Crap,” he managed out before he felt the punch and kick that connected with his face and stomach respectively. On the ground he was vaguely aware of Mitchell and Evans fighting the Jaffa when the black armored warrior filled his view. Taking the opening and moving his legs, he swept the fighter of its feet.

Unfortunately it caused it to fall on him. Ouch. They scrambled to separate and grab for their fallen weapons. They pointed to the others head at the same time.

Something told Daniel that the helmet probably wouldn’t be as tough to pierce as the body armor, especially from this distance. Stalemate. Mitchell was still fighting the Jaffa, and Evans was knocked out.


“HOLD IT!” Daniel had never been so happy to hear Sam’s voice.


Sam was moving towards them with Ferretti and Michaels, all of them pointing their weapons at the two assailants that had the rest of them powerless in one way or another.


“Stop right there, buddy.” Sam pointed her gun at Daniel’s attacker, “Now, drop the gun and move away. You,” Sam motioned to the Jaffa holding Mitchell in a chokehold, “let him go and join your friend.”


The two individuals turn to each other before they do as she says. Daniel scrambled and moved towards Sam while Mitchell does the same rubbing his neck and helping Rylan. Evans was left unconscious, and Ferretti moved towards his friend. When they grouped together Sam motioned to the armored figure.


“Now you, in the mystery mask, take it off.”


Daniel watches as the figure sighed, it sounded like dying animal, and deflated a bit, defeated, before it moved to take off the helmet. Daniel was curious to know who just kicked his ass and tried to kill him. As the helmet comes off with a hiss he is faced with an image of long dark tresses, high porcelain cheeks, full pink lips and sliver eyes.


“Well, this just got more complicated.” The voice was husky and accented, rich with sultry tones.


And it is only now that the Jaffa spoke, his own voice deep and sonorous. “Indeed.”


It was only then that Daniel managed to divert his gaze from the face that had just been revealed to him. And his brain sped back up to the moment, several things pass through his head: she was tough, she knew something, her and Jaffa are working together, she’s not Jaffa, how come they’re here, she’s beautiful, she kicked me, she tried to kill me, nice eyes, what is a Jaffa doing with a human, what are they doing here, along with a million more thoughts. He asked the most relevant.


“Who are you and what are you doing here?”


The woman looked over at the Jaffa and leaned against the banister behind her. For having about four guns pointed at her, she was surprisingly calm, like the Jaffa.

“Well, darling, now those are great questions, and relatively easy to answer, at least the first one is. I am, for anybody hasn’t heard of me, Vala Mal Duran, intergalactic pirate extraordinaire and this lovely Jaffa warrior next to me is my dear partner and friend,” she talked fast patting the Jaffa’s muscular arm and signaling him to fill in the rest of the sentence for her, “Teal’c.” He spoke his name as if it held no argument, this was his name and if you got it wrong you might miss your head.


“And what are you doing here?”


“Ah! Well, darling that question is a mite difficult to answer seeing as we can’t tell you.” She looked cool and collected, like Daniel and his friends were mere annoyances that would leave soon. It was getting on his nerves. He pinched the space between his brows.


“And why can’t you tell us?” Sam asked.




“That’s not an answer.” Cam sounded frustrated, and Daniel couldn’t blame him. “Sam, check out their supplies, maybe we’ll get an answer then.”


“You won’t.”


“We’ll see, princess.”


“Look, there’s nothing in there that you’d be interested.”


Daniel gave her a look. “Oh, I don’t know, we find a lot of things interesting.” She huffed and he felt a peculiar surge of pride.


“Whoa, what’s this...” Looking over at Sam, Daniel saw poking around with what looked to be small hand-held computer.




“It looks to be reading our life signs. I’ve never seen anything like it. I…”


She was cut of by the deep voice of the Jaffa, Teal’c. “ What are you?” He stepped forward and looked at Sam like she was a fiend, resulting in everybody pointing their weapons at him. Vala looked between the blonde and the Jaffa with question in her eyes. “Teal’c?” She put a delicate hand on one her partner’s arm and Daniel had the vague suspicion that it was the only reason the Jaffa man didn’t advance further. These two were clearly close friends. Even though a part of him told him they could be more- he pushed that voice away. He didn’t know why but that idea bothered him, so it was best not to think about it--ever again.

“She is Goa’uld. I can sense the presence of naquahdah in her.”


“Whoa! Wait a minute! Sam’s no Goa’uld.” Cam sounded scandalized.




“Are you sure?” The woman, Vala, ignored them.


“Yes. I did not sense it before, for she was to far away. The device also turned on for her.” Daniel looked between the two friends.


“What are you talking about? What do you mean the device turned on for her? What does it do?”


It was Vala that answered, but that did not surprise him. It was apparent that the Jaffa, Teal’c, would only speak to her if he could help it.


“It’s not anything bad.” Looking at Sam she gave the woman an inquisitive look and smile, “It’s just a life signs detector, I modified so it only responds to me and Teal’c, but it looks like your friend has naquahdah in her, so it probably thought it was Teal’c because of his symbiote. Now the question here is why your friend has naquahdah in her system if she’s not a Goa’uld, unless…” Vala trailed of and gave Sam a sympathetic look, “Were you a host?”


Sam shook her head and gave a smile to the other woman. “No, I wasn’t. Have you heard of the Tok’ra?”


“Yes. You are Tok’ra?” Teal’c questioned with an eyebrow raise. Sam looked shocked that Teal’c had addressed her.


“Uh… no. But my mother was.” Daniel looked at his best friend and gave her a smile; he knew how much grief her parentage had given her in the past.


“Ah! Well that explains it.” Vala just seem glad to have solved the mystery, “For a second there I thought it was malfunctioning, it appears as though I still have my touch.”


“Yes, you mentioned you modified this, but I’ve never seen anything like it, it’s very impressive and to have it react only to certain people is very remarkable.” Sam’s eyes were glowing with the joy of finding a new toy to figure out.


“Oh, why thank you Samantha?...” Sam nodded. “May I call you Samantha?” Sam nodded again. “And I’m not surprised you’ve never seen anything like it, it’s more or less one of a kind. Only one in existence, to be perfectly honest.”


“Really?” Sam eyes glinted over dangerously and Daniel knew they had to get back on track before Sam and, apparently her new friend Vala started the inevitable techno-babble. Cam noticed it too.


“Sam! Can we get back to the point of the matter here? What are you two doing here?”


“What are you?” She shot back.


“None of your business.”


“Well, same here.”


“That’s not an answer.”


“Well that’s the answer you’re getting. Now I have a question.”


“What!?” Cam was clearly getting frustrated with the woman.


Vala gave what Daniel thought was a dangerous smirk. “What are you doing here?”


“Jackson!” Cam looked ready to explode. Daniel really didn’t blame him. There was something about this woman; she said so much and so little at the same time, while ironically enough, when she said very little it was too much at the same time.


“Look, just tell us what you’re up to and we can just moved past this. We have things to do.”


“And what exactly are those things, darling, because it’s only fair to share.”


“Share…? Share? You… You fruitcake!.. You just expect us to tell you everything, it doesn’t work that way.”


“Now, now there’s no need for name calling. And I’m sorry but why should I have to tell you anything? Me and Teal’c got here first, we have dibs.”


“Dibs…seriously dibs?” Daniel could not believe this woman, he had only known her for all of five minutes and she was already the most infuriating person he had ever met (Jack was going to be disappointed someone took his place). Still, he wasn’t about to let her win, “Well finders keepers!”


“Exactly and we found it first!” Daniel sighed, he hated to admit it but she did have a point, but damn it, she probably didn’t even understand how important this was.


“Well we were hired!” Okay that technically was a lie, but she didn’t need to know.




“So! So we have more priority, you’re just here looting!”


“Well, really! I take offense to that, we do not loot, do we Teal’c? We plunder.” The Jaffa gave what could be considered an amused nod.


“Semantics. We still have priority.”


“Do not.” She huffed.


“Do too.” Daniel shot back.


“Do not!”


“Do-- ”


“Hey! You two, stop it!” Sam interrupted the argument, not that it wasn’t amusing but they were wasting time. “It’s obvious that this is not the most ideal situation but it would be easier to work together. Who knows? Maybe we’re looking for the same thing.”


Cam snorted. “God I hope not! I don’t think I could take more of this little Daniel/Vala Show.”




“You’re name is Daniel?.. I like it, darling.”


Again Sam chose this time to bring everything back on track. “Now, Vala, if you tell us what you and Teal’c are looking for maybe we can help you, and then you can help us. And this whole thing can have a happy ending.”


“How can I know we can trust you?”


“Well, we haven’t shot you and…we’ll tell you what we’re looking for.”


Vala raised an eyebrow. “Really?”




“Daniel. One of us has to extend the olive branch.” Turning to Vala, “We’re here to find the knowledge of Excalibur.”


Out of everything that could have happened next, Daniel didn’t for one second consider that Vala doubling over laughing would be one of them.


“What’s so funny?”


Vala ignored him and looked at Teal’c who also seemed amused, not that Daniel could really tell, and then looked at Sam. “Well Sam it looks like you were right after all, because we’re looking for the same thing.”


Sam let a smile out. “I had a feeling, so will you help us?”




“What? Why not?”


“Because Sam, love, the fact that you are looking for the same thing we are make us trust you less. Very few people know about this and I don’t know if I can trust you or your employer. Now if you told us who you were working for, then maybe we could talk about working together.” Vala was all business now, her whole stance changed.


“Well, we’re not telling you that.” Cam fumed. He did not like this turn of events; the new comers now had very important information. They knew too much and they were expecting more. Sam on the other hand looked disappointed and apprehensive; she just might have made a big mistake.


“I thought not.”


And finally Cam had enough of this, pointing his gun straight at the duo, his voice turned cold, “Look, Princess we just told you want you wanted to know, now it’s you’re turn, tell us or Big Guy here gets a nice bullet in his head. Now, I ask again why are you here?”


Vala just looked at Cam, gauging him. He was telling the truth Daniel knew, plus Cam really had no love for the Jaffa anyway.


The two strangers shared a look and kept silent. Cam took the shot.


“NO!” Vala screamed and launched herself at her friend. The movement caused them to topple over, the bullet missing Teal’c but catching Vala in the arm.


“Cam!” Daniel and Sam shouted as Vala clutched her arm in pain on the floor muttering what seemed to be “Not again...” Even after their years on the Prometheus neither of them were the soldiers that most of the crew were and even after all those years, sometimes their actions still surprised them.


Cam ignored them. “Now, I think you wanted to tell us something.” Vala held up her arm as Teal’c helped her up, his eyes burning at Mitchell.


Cursing in several languages as Daniel mentally winced, Vala answered Mitchell’s question her own eyes looking at him with ire, “Kheb… The Priestess of Kheb sent me.”


And out all the things Vala could have said this was the last one anybody had expected to hear.


A/N: Major thanks to my betas Stef and Kath, and to Kales who eased my worries about this chapter. This wouldn't be out without them. huggles them



CHAPTER III:  Meeting the Tides


All they could do was stare.


“Kheb?” Daniel managed out, this couldn’t be…


“Yes, Kheb. It’s a planet,” Vala’s voice was full of condescension and anger.


Daniel huffed. “I know what Kheb is.”


“Oh! Well that just fabulous, and now that you and your merry band of shooters have you’re answer, you may go.” She shooed them away, not even trying to hide the sarcasm and disdain towards them, which to her was rightly deserved- they had just shot her!


“Well, I’m not sorry to tell you- we can’t.”


“Oh, and why not?”


Daniel looked smug. “Because we were sent by the same person.”




Daniel stepped closer to her. “Yep. Oma Dessala, Priestess of Kheb, sent me a message that said to come here and find the knowledge of Excalibur.”


“Oma Dessala…” Vala whispered the name as if a question has just been answered, “I never knew her name.” Then she looked back at Daniel, confusion clear in her silver eyes. “But why? Why would she send you if she had made contact with me…there’s no point...she knew that I…”, she went on muttering to herself.


“Maybe she meant to. Maybe she wanted you two to work together; for all of us to work together.” Ever the voice of reason, Sam spoke up, making Daniel and Vala look at each other. One thought went through both of their minds: That was absurd.


“Maybe she thought one of us wouldn’t accept,” Vala looked over at Daniel.


“Or maybe Sam’s right, and we should work together.”


“What?!” Cam barked. Everybody ignored him.


“What? Are you serious? I don’t know if you noticed, darling, but you’re friend over there just protested, and not mention tried to kill us. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t exactly invoke trust in me.” Vala stood defensively and Daniel knew the only reason she was probably still here was the fact that she meant to get Excalibur’s knowledge.


He had to convince her to help him out. “I’m sorry about Mitchell, but you’re just being difficult.” Stepping closer to Vala, he added, “Plus, he’s sorry.”

“No, I’m not.” Mitchell commented.


Daniel sent him a glare.


“What? I’m not.”


“Well, at least he’s honest.”


Looking over at Vala, Daniel stepped closer. Every reasonable cell in his body was telling him to step away, but he couldn’t, and he couldn’t explain it. There was something about her, from the moment she had taken the helmet off and looked at him, something had happened. He had to convince her to stay, and help him, came as an afterthought. He looked straight into her silver eyes. He took another step closer to her.


“Can’t you just believe that I’m telling you the truth? If Oma sent you even half of the information that she sent me, you know what’s at stake. I’m willing to believe that she wanted us together; even if you don’t trust my crew, or me can’t you just at least trust her? Please, she must have thought we’d need each other’s help.”


Vala looked at Daniel, his blue eyes locked on her own. He was sure something. She couldn’t place it much less understand it, but this man whom she had just met had her completely captivated. And if the Priestess had trusted him, then maybe she could too. She just hoped she was doing the right thing.


“Okay…I guess I can go on a little faith. But the minute I feel even the teeniest bit uncomfortable with this agreement, I’m having Teal’c rip all your heads off, while I watch.” She didn’t want to trust them, but she couldn’t help herself. Something inside her was pulling her towards this man. She would have to be careful.


Her voice had gone from gentle and trusting to threatening in less than a minute and Daniel couldn’t help but smile.


“But he has to apologize first.” Vala pointed at Cam.




“What?” Cam sounded incredulous.


“If he doesn’t, no deal,” Vala crossed he arms and leaned next to Teal’c.




“No wa--”


“Cam.” Sam sounded like a mom scolding a kid.


Cam pouted. “Fine… I’m sorry. There I said it.”


“Teal’c too!”


“Wha-“ He began to protest when he caught Daniel’s and Sam’s glares.


“Sheesh..,” Turning to Teal’c, Cam apologized, “Sorry.”


Teal’c didn’t even acknowledge Cam’s halfhearted apology, he just turned towards Vala, “Are you certain that this is the best course of action, Vala Mal Duran?”

Lowering her voice so that only Teal’c could hear, Vala answered, “For now Muscles, for now.” She looked over at Sam and Daniel, and in a louder voice, with a big smile said, “Let’s play nice.” Teal’c bowed his head in acknowledgment.


They all stood warily watching the other group for several seconds when Daniel finally decided to break the increasingly uncomfortable silence.


“So what do you know?” Smooth, Daniel, he berated himself for his delivery.




Clearing his throat, Daniel answered, “Well, when we got here you had already been down there, you must have found something?” Good, get straight to business, Daniel nodded to himself as Sam began heading toward Vala. When the other woman looked suspiciously at her, Sam voiced her intentions.


“Your arm, it needs to be cleaned and bandaged. I have some medical training, so can I?” Sam sounded concerned and Daniel was grateful that his friend was as considerate as she was; nobody got an infection with Sam around.


“Uh, sure… Teal’c can help you; he’s used to fixing me up.” Vala gave a wink to both Sam and Teal’c before she turned back towards Daniel, “You were saying, darling?”


“What’d you find?”


“Oh that!” Moving to sit as Sam began tending her wound, Vala winced at the antiseptic, “Well, the room is definitely down there. It’s at the end of the hall and the sword is there too.”




Vala looked at Daniel, confusion marring her face, or it could have been that Sam was cleaning the wound a little too well. “Yes darling, a sword. Excalibur is a sword in old Tau’rian legends.”


“Wha…How do you know that?”


Vala just gave him an enigmatic smile. “We all have our gifts.”


“Okay… So what does the sword say?’


“That’s just it, it doesn’t say anything. No etchings, symbols, zilch.”


That, Daniel hadn’t been expecting. “What?”


“I know. It’s just there sitting in the middle of the room in a giant hunk of stone. I looked and looked and except for some pictograms and this odd little groove, which looks like an odd little keyhole, but there were no keys to be found, and even with some of my more creative tactics nothing worked. That’s when I came back, to get some explosives.” Vala hissed the last part out, giving Sam and Teal’c a look. Both ignored her.


“You were going to blow it up!!?” Daniel felt his eyes bug out. She had been going to blow up an ancient temple; he shook his head in disbelief.


“I needed to get through!”


“All of sudden I’m glad that we got here when we did.”


Vala rolled her eyes.


Daniel kept muttering and thinking over what she had just said. Sam finished with her arm when he spoke again. “So, wait, you said that there was a groove?”


“Yes darling, I just told you,” Daniel rolled his eyes at the tone, “Like a key hole only no key. Plus, it was odd, keys are normally jagged and so their respective keyholes would have matching ridges, but this was smooth, flat.”


“Smooth, flat, like a sword?” Daniel questioned, his eyes dancing on the verge of something.


“Yes darling…” At that moment Daniel and Vala’s eyes met and everything began to clear in their heads, “Wait you don’t think…?”


Everybody looked at them like they were missing something, but Daniel and Vala didn’t seem to notice.


“Makes sense. The message said that Castiana would hold the key forged in ancient stone to find The Knowledge of Excalibur. Maybe the sword is the key that opens the way to The Knowledge.” Daniel smiled at the discovery.


“Of course darling! You are a genius!” Excited, Vala reached up and planted a sound kiss on his lips before she sprinted past him and dove into the water. Daniel stood stupefied for about two seconds before he cursed and dove in after her.


Both ignored their names being called out as the rest of the group reached the spot they dove from.


Cam looked at the now still water. “Well…that can’t be good.”




                                                       * * * *

The water was cold.


Part of Vala cursed herself for her reckless action, but she hadn’t been able to help herself. Daniel had figured out how to get The Knowledge of the sword and she had just reacted. Her father had always told her that she was too impulsive for her own good. Thankfully she still had on the thermal suit, even if without the helmet it could not protect her and allow her to breathe like before. Slicing through the water, she hoped this would be quick; she wouldn’t be able to hold her breath for more than a few minutes.


She swam faster.


The water and marble blended together, it looked like ice, making her feel the cold more. All of sudden, as she made her way through the underwater corridors, she felt something grab hold of her leg. What... Startled, she struggled before she saw who it was. Daniel. Damn it! She had practically had a heart attack! She was about to roll her eyes at him when her brain caught up with the situation. Daniel! What the hell was he doing here, in the freezing water, with no protection of any sort? Fuck! She looked at the man swimming next to her. Frantically reaching out to grab his arm, she pulled him to her. He was already cold to the touch. Looking into his eyes, she saw that he understood her unasked question, What the hell do you think you’re doing?


His eyes just stared stubbornly back at her, Helping, let’s go. If they’d had more minutes, as well as air, to waste she would have argued with him, but unfortunately they didn’t. She fixed him a look before she pulled him forward and guided him to the room. Stupid man. They swam quickly but both felt the cold water seeping into them, neither was really protected. They both missed the shadow that moved behind them.


They got to the room.


Swimming over to the sword, Vala grabbed the hilt and pulled. Nothing happen. She then felt hands close over hers, looking at Daniel she nodded. Together. He gestured with his hands a three-count. They pulled. This time it came out, but the task took a lot out of her- her fingers felt frozen. She didn’t even want to think how Daniel felt.


Placing the sword in the slot, she let out an inward sigh; it fit. Together they turned it.


Again, nothing happened.


Frantically, Vala looked over at Daniel. They did not have the time for this! Her lungs were beginning to burn from holding her breath this long, and she could practically feel her blood slowing; thankfully he seemed to understand (he probably felt the same). He looked around, taking in his surroundings before he placed a cold hand on her colder cheek, turning her face towards him. He pointed to an inscription on the wall next to them.


όταν διευκρινίζεται παρουσιάζει τη δύναμη


Vala looked at him in confusion. He pointed to the symbols that decorated the keyhole, I and V, and then pointed at the inscription- it had similar symbols. Okay, she got it. It was a puzzle. Fabulous. What the hell was the answer! The whole situation was getting to her and she was feeling it. Her head was starting to hurt and her legs were getting tired; one could only kick for so long. Thankfully, Daniel was faring better than her, grabbing his pocketknife he scratched on the inscription separating the letters. He looked at her. Sequence. There was a sequence, starting with the V’s. He then made a circular motion with his finger and pointed to the swords. Okay. She nodded. It worked like a lock. Perfect, she was an excellent lock pick.


Again they grabbed the sword and moved it to match the sequence on the symbols. Right. Left. Right. There. For a second when nothing happened Vala looked over at Daniel, worry etched across her face.


Then the wall moved.


It opened, revealing a secret doorway. The rush of water meeting empty space propelled them forward until they washed up on steps. Dry steps. Apparently the water didn’t reach the top of these stairs. They had air. Vala sent a small prayer of thanks to whoever had built this stairway. Her body heat was also rising, slowly but good enough. Inhaling air, beautiful air, she looked over at Daniel. He too seemed to be grateful for their small gift.


Then Vala frowned. “What the hell did you think you were doing!?”


Daniel looked confused. “Excuse me?”


“You heard me. What the hell was this, diving after me? You don’t even have a suit on. Gods, how thick-headed are you?”


Daniel looked incredulously at her. Who was she to talk?


“Me? Me? What about you! I wasn’t the one who dived back underwater without her helmet, that helps lock the air in! And if I hadn’t come in after you, you’d still be stuck in the room trying to figure out how the lock worked!”


“Not the point darling.” She waved him off. “And I would have gotten it eventually.”


“Yeah, right.” He huffed.


Vala had to smile, despite the fact that the first thing they had done was argue, she was glad. If they had the energy to fight with each other, they weren’t as bad off as she had thought they were, and she wouldn’t have to worry about hi- What? She was worried about him? Since when? This could not be good.


Looking over at him she watched as he moved to get up and had to struggle not to look at how his now very wet clothes that clung to him. Nice. He turned his back on her. Very nice.


“You okay?” Daniel asked.


“Huh? Oh yes, darling I’m fine, just catching my breath.” Oops! Almost got caught there. Vala let out a small smirk.


He offered her a hand. His hands were still cold, but she could feel something way too close to tingles rushing up her arm.


Turning towards the stairs and then back at the slowly rising water, Vala quipped.




“I would guess.”


They headed up.


The area at the top of the stairs opened to a circular room, which Daniel and Vala could only look at in awe. It was like a small library, the walls full of texts and papers, and in the middle of it stood a table with what looked to be a strange looking base, it stood out because of its dark slate color and it’s odd broken ‘C’ shape. Vala immediately headed for the odd looking centerpiece while Daniel became engrossed in the texts that covered the walls.


Reaching for the clasp, Vala started to take off the armor that covered her suit. It was getting way too heavy. She felt as if she was about to collapse, thankfully removing the extra weight was giving her back some vigor. Of course, this was when Daniel chose to turn back to her.


“What are you doing?” He asked, his eyes staying firmly above her neck.


Vala rolled her eyes. “Taking my armor off, darling, what does it look like I’m doing?”


He ignored her question. “Why?”


“Because it’s heavy. Relax, Daniel the armor is just an extra covering. I’m not stripping for you, unless you’re asking of course?” She sent him a wink and grin that had him rolling his eyes.


“Trust me, I’m not.”




Daniel snorted and gestured around the room. “Can you believe this? This is amazing. I’ve never seen so many Tau’rian texts in one room; this is incredible. I can’t even begin to…” Daniel trailed off, looking over the texts. Vala let herself glance over them, these were things from a dead world that she didn’t wish to remember, but couldn’t forget.


“Darling, I know it looks oh so very interesting but let us focus. Something tells me that we need to be looking at this.” Vala pointed to the odd machine on the table.


Daniel let his eyes roam over it in wonder. “What do you think it is?”


Looking over it, Vala pressed one of the button-looking pads.




“What? Relax. It looks to be some sort of workstation, you can tell because all the buttons make up an alphabet. Granted, I’ve never seen something like this before, and that, darling, is saying a lot. It doesn’t seem to have any sort of screen to look at what you input.” Vala picked the base up and turned it over, tinkering with some of the back panels, “Any way, it also looks like the power source is out.”


“How do you know that?” Daniel started at her in a mix of awe and curiosity, and then he looked back at the machine and the alphabet on it. It was Tau’rian. “You can read that?”


At that Vala looked up nervous and slightly startled, she had given away too much. Swallowing the lump in her throat she decided not to lie, though she couldn’t figure out why.


She gave him a wide and cheeky grin. “Of course I can, darling, one of my many skills.”


Daniel rolled his eyes. “Right… Right. So wait, you could read the inscription back in the room! Why didn’t you say anything?!”


Vala gave him a look.


“Right, underwater…”


“Look darling, let’s just get this thing back and leave. I’m not quite in the mood to drag this little adventure on any longer.” Vala moved to grab the pack on the back of the suit when she winced.


Daniel looked over her as let she out a hiss and cursed—in Tau’rian.


Well, this was interesting, but he chose to focus on the fact that she was in pain, for now. His questions could be answered later.


“What’s wrong?” He watched as she clutched her arm and stared at him. “Come on, let me look.” Daniel felt like he was coaxing a pouting toddler.


“It’s nothing.”


“Considering that’s the arm you got shot in, I doubt it. Let me look.”


Reluctantly, Vala presented him her arm. Brushing his hand over the gauze Sam had wrapped around the arm, he tried to notice how her skin felt, though he noticed it was still cold, too cold, whispered a part of his mind. He lifted the binding and focused on the wound. The suture bond that had been holding her wound closed had opened; probably back in the room when they had pulled the sword out.


“It’s just the suture, it came undone. When we get back up we’ll have Sam fix it.” Daniel spoke gently, almost whispered. He turned to face her. It was then they noticed how close they stood together, and their eyes met for the briefest second before they looked away.


“Thanks.” Vala’s voice came out too soft for her liking. She cleared her throat, “Well then, now that we know I’m fine, let’s get this thing and go, I think our time is running out.”


She motioned to the doorway where water seemed to be seeping in, and moved to grab the machine and place it in her pack.


Well, damn. Daniel then noticed that she only grabbed the machine. Looking around the room he felt his stomach clench. So many texts.


“Vala, we can’t just leave these. This could be one of the most important historical and literary finds of the past century.”


“And that’s all well and good Daniel, but we can’t take it all. I can barely fit the bloody machine.”




“Daniel, darling, you know what this machine could mean; we need to get it out of here.” She looked over at the man staring at the texts that covered the walls with a sad reverence, she sighed, “Fine…grab as many of those bloody manuscripts as you can and we’ll stuff them in here too.” The look of utter joy that graced Daniel’s face made Vala let out a soft, little smile that she promptly wiped off. This man was going to be trouble for her sanity.


Stuffing the pack until it looked like it was going to explode, Vala hefted it on her back, but was unable to hide the wince that the movement caused. Daniel moved to take the pack from her.


“Give it here.”


“I’m perfectly fine to carry this.”


“Tell that to your wound, it’s bleeding again.” Vala turned to look at the injury and saw that he was right; you could now see blood through the gauze. Damn. Facing Daniel, she gave him a defiant look.


He sighed. “Just give it to me, it doesn’t mean you’re not a big bad space looter.”


“Plunderer. Fine, it’s rather heavy.” She pouted, but was inwardly relieved that she didn’t have to carry it, her body was still too weak and getting weaker, she was still too cold.


“I think I can handle it.” Vala looked at his arms and gave a sinful grin.


“Oh, I have no doubt.”


Daniel rolled his eyes. “Come on, let’s move, before this room gets flooded too.”


They headed back to the stairway where the water was steadily rising. When they reached the point where they had to dive back, in they turned to look at each other. Vala remembered something she heard once about people bonding due to extreme situations. Maybe that’s what is it was, this feeling deep in her being, a result of the circumstances, then again maybe it wasn’t. Either way, she felt something towards this man. Smiling one of her trademark smiles she said, “See you on the other side.”


The water was still cold and would probably make her weaker, but she had no choice, with a wink she dove in.


Daniel looked at where the woman had been and let out a smile. Again he dove in after her.


Together they began to make their way out of the underwater corridors and back to their friends. Neither noticed the shadow creeping up on them.


Vala sensed it first. Movement in the water. She shook her head, it was just Daniel. He was right next to her, but something still felt off. She was probably getting too cold.


Pushing away her paranoia, she was only able to see it for a split second, a dark shape coming towards them, before she managed to pull herself and Daniel out of the way. Panicked, they looked at each other as the shark turned and headed back towards them. Vala went for her weapon when she realized she had left it back topside. All they had was Daniel’s pocketknife. Fuck! Swimming faster they both headed to the submerged antechamber.


They were swimming too slowly. The water was also feeling colder and her arm was throbbing in pain. Her arm! The blood. That was what was attracting the shark. Damn it! Damn it! And she suddenly felt herself being pulled behind one of the large partitions in the corridor. Meeting Daniels eyes in confusion she felt more than saw the dark shadow move past them. Cover, he had found them some cover. She just didn’t know how long it would last. Vala pointed to her arm and Daniel’s eyes narrowed in understanding. Her blood would attract it again


Vala saw resolution set in his eyes. He took his knife and moved to cut his hand. She snatched the knife faster then he could even blink. Like hell! This was not ‘sacrifice ourselves day’, at least not for him. Quickly, she struggled to think of a plan before the idiot man decided to do something stupid and idealistic. There was still about a hundred plus feet between them, air and safety. They could do this. They just needed to figure out how.


She turned to Daniel and motioned with the knife that they needed to start swimming again.


Her look was dangerous. He looked at her with wariness and disbelief. What was she planning? He had a feeling he wasn’t going to like it.


Vala just looked at him and gave him a bright grin, whose effect was diminished by how pale she looked and how nervous he suddenly felt. He definitely wasn’t going to like whatever she was planning, but right now he was too tired and cold to really argue, not that he effectively could. That still didn’t stop him worrying.

As she moved to leave their cover, he dragged her back to him. She was going to do something stupid, he knew it, but Vala just smiled again before cupping his face and placing her lips on his, breathing air into him. Her hair floated around them like a mermaid’s. After that, she tapped his nose and moved.


Fuck! This was not good, Daniel followed her.


Once more they swam towards the surface when they saw the shark head towards them. Daniel moved faster until he realized he was moving alone. He looked back to see Vala suspended in the water waiting for their deadly friend.


The shark moved closer to her and Daniel rushed back to her.


He reached her just as she moved to strike the animal on the nose. He pulled her out of the way, but she still managed to clip the beast. Stunned, though only for a second, it began to move towards them, they were now too close to make a clean getaway. They had to fight. Reaching over to Vala, Daniel grabbed the knife and pushed her from him as he the shark sliced between them. Daniel struck. He missed the eyes but his knife was now embedded in the animal’s gills. It was momentarily disabled, but recovering.


Daniel and Vala didn’t even need to look at each other as they frantically made their way to the surface. Hurt, the shark still moved after them, but now much slower.


The second they felt air they both yelled, swimming to where the steps were.








The two men looked at each other in confusion until they saw the animal coming up behind their friends.


They shot.


As the bullets hit the water behind them, Daniel and Vala did not stop swimming. The adrenaline in their bodies was leaving them and they were exhausted. As they reached the steps that would take them to safety, the water around them turned red. They kept moving.


When they finally reached the area where their friends were, they collapsed; bodies still half in the water. Sprawled face down, Vala hugged the cold marble to her colder body, while Daniel moved to rest on his back. Turning to look at each other, they began to laugh. Vala reached out, her arm felt dead, and touched his cheek. His lips were turning blue and she knew that hers were worse.


The last thing that either saw was the other’s eyes.


The last thing they heard was their names being called out.


Darkness came.


                                                       * * * *

Sam immediately headed to her friend, who had just emerged and was now lying on the cold marble, unconscious and wet. Checking his vitals, she was not happy to find that his pulse was slowing and his skin was getting colder. Quickly, she turned to check on Vala, only to find the woman in worse shape, her entire body felt practically frozen. Neither seemed to be waking up.


“Cam! They’re freezing and unconscious, we need to get them warm or they could get hypothermia.” Going into her med kit she went to get her epinephrine shots, if they could get them conscious again they would have a better chance for survival. She tossed one to Cam while she moved to inject Vala, whose condition was worrying her more. She shouldn’t be this cold, Sam thought, when Teal’c stopped her placing a large hand on her arm.


“What are you doing? I need to give her this.” Confused, Sam looked at the tall Jaffa, Wasn’t this his friend?


Instead, he ignored her, pulled off his coat, wrapped it around the slight woman, and picked her up.


“We must get Vala Mal Duran medical assistance, or she will die.”


Standing, Sam faced off with the Jaffa.


“That’s what I’m trying to do! You just stopped me!”


“You can not help her.”


Cam interrupted. “Well of course we can’t help her, you’re not letting us!”


Again Teal’c ignored the outburst. “You can not help because Vala Mal Duran is poikilothermic, your shot will do nothing more than speed up her heart and wake her.”






“Hey, hey, what does in the hell does that mean?” Cam looked on, confused at the sudden change in attitude.


Keeping her eyes on the unconscious woman, Sam whispered, “She’s cold-blooded.”




“She can’t regulate her body temperature.”


“I know what cold-blooded means! I…mean…how is she cold-blooded? Can’t we help?”


Sam looked at Vala and then back at Daniel who was still unconscious on the floor. Her friend was already looking better. The adrenaline had not woken him up but was now increasing his heart rate, giving him back some color. The effect would not be the same on the woman in front of her. They both needed more than she could give them.


“We need to get them to the ship, now!”


Cam nodded before he looked at Teal’c. Sam knew what he was thinking. “What about him?” he pointed to the Jaffa.


“I will not leave her.” Sam had thought not. She glanced over to Cam and shrugged, they really didn’t have time to argue about this.


Sighing Cam just said, “Jack’s not going to like this.”


“I know. We’ll deal with him when we get there.” At that they all began to move back towards their shuttle. Vala still half frozen in Teal’c’s arms, and Daniel being carried in between Evans and Michaels.


By the time they got to the shuttle Daniel was looking better, but even wrapped in Teal’c’s coat and several blankets, Vala did not. Sam remembered the heat packs that they kept in the shuttle but they would only be good for a couple extra degrees. They needed to get Vala to Caro, and fast.


Cam did not look happy with the entire situation but that was mostly because of Teal’c. Sam mentally sighed at what would be Jack’s reaction. Nobody on the Prometheus was ignorant enough to think that all Jaffa were evil because of who they served, they even knew some Jaffa rebels. Still, there was too much stigma connected to the Jaffa name, especially considering it was the Jaffa who killed most of the humans on Goa’uld ruled worlds.


Sam understood it, accepted and hated it. Being the child of a Tok’ra woman had been hard enough without adding the fact that many saw the Tok’ra being as bad as the Goa’uld. Snakeheads.


She looked over at where Daniel was strapped in with Vala next to him. Across from the woman sat Teal’c, whose eyes did not drift from his friend. Sam understood how he felt, worried for a friend. They weren’t that different. She just hoped Jack would listen when they got to the ship. Standing, she made her way over to the two unconscious people. Checking their vitals, she bit her lip. Daniel’s pulse was still a little too slow for her and his respiratory rate was too shallow. Vala was worse and looked it, too. Sam never thought a person could look so blue. She wrapped the blanket more securely around the woman.


She then moved to sit next to Teal’c. “She’s going to be fine. Our doctor is one of the best in the galaxy.” She wished she could say more. Teal’c met her gaze and nodded. Together they sat in an uncomfortable silence until Sam began fidgeting, fiddling with her lucky socket wrench and going over the laws of thermodynamics in her head. Not that they would help in this situation.


She felt as if she needed to say something.


“I’m sorry about Mitchell and the others, they just…it’s nothing against you personally, it’s just that they don’t feel too strongly about the Jaffa, or actually maybe they feel a little too strongly about them.” The minute the words left her, she felt like an idiot, she should have just stated the first law of thermodynamics, that would made more sense and been more relevant to the situation (energy/heat conservation and all), not to mention would have insulted him less.


“I understand. For a long time my brothers have been the ones responsible for taking many human lives in the name of false gods. They are right to mistrust me.”


Sam looked at Teal’c with more than a little surprise; she had not expected a response.


“Um, yeah. But you must know that not every human feels that way, Vala sure doesn’t.”


“Vala Mal Duran has been a friend for many years. There are not many like her.” It was obvious that the man cared deeply about his friend.


Sam looked at the cold-blood woman and nodded. Wasn’t that the truth? Looking over at Daniel, she could relate. Summoning her courage she patted the Jaffa’s shoulder.


“They’re gonna be fine.”


Teal’c merely nodded.


                                                       * * * *

As they got closer to the ship, Cam radioed in.


“Prometheus. This is the Atlas, requesting clearance to dock.”


Walter’s voice came clear through the radio. “Clearance granted.”


“Thanks, Walt. Um… Walt, buddy, Jack isn’t there on there bridge is he?”


“Uh, no the Captain isn’t here. Do you need me to call him?”


“No, no… Just make sure Caro has a medical team in the docking bay when we get there. And tell Jack that we have some company.”


Even with the radio, Cam could tell that the man was not looking forward to giving Jack the news. “Are you sure you don’t want me to call him, Commander?”


At that Cam winced. He hated having his rank on the ship stated to him, plus it was making him feel guilty as hell. “Uh, no, that’s fine. Just have him meet us in the docking bay as well.” Glancing at Sam and Ferretti he could see the ‘you coward’ look on their faces. He shrugged.


“Over and out.”


“That was low.”


“Hey, I’m just trying to make sure we all get there happy.”


As they docked Cam could already see Caro’s med team waiting for them. The minute they touched down and the bulkhead doors closed he could see them moving towards the shuttle. He heard Sam opening the shuttle doors to let them in.


“What happened? Who’s injured?”


“It’s Daniel and a woman we met, she was-” Sam started to explain, only to be cut off by Caro. “What happened to them?” In full doctor mode, she didn’t care about the story behind her new charge. Cam always thought she was at her scariest like that.


“They both had prolonged exposure to cold water without protective gear or sufficient air. When they came out they fell unconscious almost right away. We gave Daniel an adrenaline shot, but not to Vala…” Sam explained as Caro had her med team loaded the two bodies on to stretchers.


“What?! Why the didn’t you give her one too?” Caro snapped at the blonde and Cam winced. Nope he was wrong, it was now that the normally classy and put together doctor is at her scariest- when you hadn’t taken proper care of a patient. Immediately, she went to check on Vala.


“Caro, there’s a reason why we didn’t and why you can’t.”


Muttering over the unconscious woman, Caro asked, “And what might that reason be?”


“Poikilothermy. She’s poikilothermic.”


Caro’s head snapped to Sam so fast that Cam thought she had broken it. “Are you serious?”


“As a heart attack.” Caro fixed him with a look, promptly shutting him up, and focused back on her patient.


“And what about this,” Caro looked down at Vala, “she also has a gunshot wound. That doesn’t happen from poikilothermia. What happened to her?’


Cam cringed; this was not going to be pretty, “Well, I kinda shot her…”


“WHAT?!” Yep, he was in trouble. Crap.


“It wasn’t on purpose and she got in my way…” Cam trailed off at Caro’s look.


“Cameron Mitchell, I swear, sometimes--” But a very unhappy voice coming from the other side of the bay interrupted whatever Caro had wanted to say.


“What the hell happened here?” Jack’s voice rang through the bay. Cam looked over at Sam to see her cringe as well. This was really was not going to be pretty.

Cam turned towards his brother in law. “Well, we ran into some…um…complications.” Yea, complications- that sounded better than trouble. He watched as Jack stalked towards them, giving an unconscious Daniel a good look, before running his eyes over Vala and Teal’c, eyes hardening.


“Complications, I can see that. Mind explaining them to me? Starting with what he is doing here?” Pointing to Teal’c, Cam was surprised that Jack hadn’t pulled a gun. But then looking over his brother in law, he saw that he didn’t have one on him. Small favors. Cam started to answer when Caro interrupted.


“Captain. Captain! Jack!” Finally Jack turned his eyes from the Jaffa to the doctor. “I have to move them to the infirmary right now, before hypothermia sets in. Am I going to have trouble?” Jack looked from the doctor to Daniel to Vala and back to Daniel.


He shook his head. “No, move them.” Caro began to move her patients and Cam heard her call the med bay. “Rygel, I need you to get me two of the heating beds ready, we have two possible hypothermia cases, one is a poikilothermic individual, and I need them ready now.” He could hear the disbelief in Caro’s second medical examiner.




“Of course, human. Just get them ready.” As Caro and her team began to move out, Teal’c headed after them only to be stopped by Jack standing in his way, his brown eyes smoldering.


“Where do you think you’re going?”


Cam had known this was coming. Like him, Jack had no love for the Jaffa and to have one on the ship was almost a corruption to him and the sanctuary he had built.


“I am accompanying Vala Mal Duran.” Teal’c stood tall and looked ready to fight if it came to it.


Thankfully, Sam stepped in, “Sir, he’s okay. He’s her friend. I told him that we would help take care of her.” The minute she let the words out of her mouth, Sam looked like she knew it had been the wrong thing to say at the moment.


Jack turned to her. “Oh, you did, did you? Well tell me Carter, when did this become your ship?”


This was bad, because whenever Jack he started calling Sam by her last name, it meant trouble. And while Sam did have the grace to look chagrined at her actions, Cam knew it wasn’t her fault; they really had no choice in bringing Teal’c along, since it was obvious that where Vala went, so did he.


“Jack, it’s not her fault. I agreed to it, and he did help us in bringing Daniel back.” Okay, so that bit wasn’t exactly the god’s honest truth, but what his brother in law didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.


“He did?”


“Yes, and we gave our word that we would help. He’s behaved so far, I think we can trust that he won’t do anything to hurt his friend.” With that said, Cam and Jack stared at each other, Commander to Captain, brother to brother. Jack nodded.


He turned to Teal’c. “You may go with your friend, but if you try anything, any member of my crew has the permission to shoot you.”


Teal’c rose and eyebrow and nodded before he left the bay, following Caro and the med team.


The minute the group had left, Jack turned to Cam and Sam.


“I think you two have some explaining to do.”


A/N: Thanks to my beta Kath, who just rocks. This chapter ended up being mostly filler, hopefully will be picking up again soon. Enjoy!

Oh, and this is dedicated to Stef, who is so this fic's cheerleader and because her comp is being mean to her hugs



CHAPTER IV:  Notes of Harmony


Jack did not like to get angry, especially with his crew, but right now he really didn’t know what else to feel. Daniel was in the med bay unconscious, and hopefully not getting hypothermia, they had a practically frozen woman that Cam had apparently shot, and a fucking Jaffa on the ship.


Yep, this was anger. He really did not like it.


Turning to Cam and Sam, he saw that both of them stood by the door ready to bolt away from the office he barely used- something else to be mad about, he hated to use the office. He leveled a glare at them.


“Mind explaining to me just what the hell happened down there?” Inwardly he sighed; his words had come out just right, not yelling but loud enough for them to know he was not happy. Vaguely he wondered why he put up with this shit.




“Jack…sir, honestly everything happened pretty fast, but it looks like Vala and Teal’c were also contacted by Oma Dessala to look for the weapon she sent Daniel to find.” Sam spoke calmly, her tone soft; she was trying to placate him, he knew.


It wasn’t working.


“Okay, great for Oma. How does that tell me how Daniel ended up practically frozen, and why I have a Jaffa on my ship?”


Sam and Cameron shared a look before Cam spoke up, “Well, we got to the planet and headed straight to the temple when Sam started to get some naquahdah readings, so we split up. Sam went to check for the naquahdah, and I took Evans and Rylan with Daniel to the temple. When we got to it those two were already there, and we kinda got into a minor scuffle, then Sam got …”


“Uh huh. That’s great, still doesn’t tell me anything, except the fact Sam had to save your hides…”


Cam blushed, but continued without comment. “Right. Long story short, Daniel and Vala dived in the water to get whatever it was they got wound up over. We waited for them to get back and when they did they were being chased by a shark.”




At that Jack couldn’t help the incredulous look that crossed his face. “A shark? How the hell does a shark get into a temple, better yet, why the hell did they have to dive anywhere?”


“Um, well, sir, the temple was flooded. All the lower levels were under water. I think the shark must have broken through a weak wall and was probably attracted to the blood from Vala’s bullet wound.” Sam took over the explanation, giving Cam a small glance.


“Oh, like it was my fault! The crazy woman was asking for it, and how was I supposed to know there was a fucking shark in the water?” Cam retorted crossing his arms like a child, and Jack felt most of his anger slip away and fought not to grin.


This was his family, uncontrollable as they were, that’s why he put up with all the crap and grey hairs they caused.


Still, one of them was in a bad way, and that did not make him happy.


“Sorry, Sam.” Cam immediately apologized at Sam for the expletive. Jack fought back another smile. Like Sara, Cam’s mother had taught her boy to be a gentleman. Giving Sam a look they both smiled at Cam’s ways.


“It’s okay Cam, you’ve said worse.”




And the tension had left the room.


Jack sighed. “Okay, so you’re telling me, you got to the planet, spilt up because Sam found some naquahdah,” Sam nodded, “got to the temple, found that this woman and the Jaffa were already there, fought with them, made friends,” Cam snorted, “found out that Oma had sent them too, and then Daniel and the woman,”


“Vala.” Sam interjected.


“Right, Vala. So those two then dove to into the water to find this thing,” he waved his hand over the odd stand they had found in the pack Daniel had been holding, “and came back with a shark after them.”


“Well it sounds ridiculous when you say it like that.” Cam yielded.


“Really, ridiculous, I would have never thought…”


“Jack, we know what it sounds like, but it happened and they helped us. One of them even got fatally harmed; I don’t mean the gunshot wound, Cam.” Sam said giving Cam a reassuring look when he started to protest. “Vala knew what going back in that water without her thermal suit properly whole and attached would do to her, and she still went in. This is as important to her as it is to Daniel, maybe more. And you should have seen them; it was….”


“The Daniel and Vala Show.” Cam added his two cents and Sam continued. “Neither was going to back down. Working together was the only solution and that meant Teal’c too. He’s Vala’s partner and friend and it was obvious he wasn’t going to leave her side after she and Daniel came out of the water. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but it was the right thing to do.”


“I believe you.”


“You do?”


“Shouldn’t I?”


Sam stammered. “No, I mean, yes. It’s just… never mind. What do you think we should do now?”


“I really think we should leave this quadrant.”


“Um, Jack, we can’t really do that. At least not now.”


“Oh. And why not?”


Cam sighed. “We sorta told the Big Guy that we wouldn’t. Their ship is still on the planet and he kinda made it known that if we left without their ship we’d miss some of our limbs.”


“Really?” Jack’s eyes narrowed.


“In his defense Jack, I saw the ship when I went to find the naquahdah, it’s not a Tel’tak, and some of the readings I got from it, besides the naquahdah, deserve a closer look.” Jack saw the look in Sam’s eyes and knew that she wasn’t going to let them leave that ship without tinkering with it first.


“Fine, we’ll wait. But as soon as our patients are up and that ship is docked, we leave. I’m not liking this planet.”


“Yes, sir.”


“I’m going to go check on Daniel. Cam, send a small ground crew to guard our new guest’s ship, but no messing around, just guard it.”


“Will do.”


“Thanks, Jack.”


As Jack left the room he could hear Sam and Cam matching sighs of relief. Shaking his head he went to the med bay.


Despite the fact Daniel was a frequent visitor to the med bay Jack never liked it when his friend had to stay there for more than ten minutes. That usually meant Daniel was really hurt, and Jack wasn’t a fan of a hurt Daniel. The whining alone was enough for Jack to have Caro release him and let him heal in his room. But right now Daniel wasn’t even awake to whine. Jack sighed. He really didn’t like this.


Reaching the med bay he saw Caro leaning over the woman they had brought up, Vala. He had to admit she still looked pretty weak, she had some more color, but she was still too pale. His eyes drifted to her companion and he felt himself stiffen. Jaffa. He wasn’t an idiot and knew about many Jaffa that opposed the Goa’uld, but still he would never inherently trust one. Not after what they had done to his family. Cam was the same way, so for his brother in law to let a Jaffa on the ship meant that the man had proven himself, or he was bullied into it. Something told Jack it was probably a mixture of both, with emphasis on the latter.




The young doctor turned to her captain. “Jack.”


“What’s the status on our patients?” He moved towards were Daniel was sleeping on hospital bed.


Following him, Caro checked over Daniel, “He’s doing fine. He was stirring a couple of minutes ago, so it probably won’t be long until he wakes up. I’m still not sure that I should be surprised he jumped into almost freezing water, but I am. He’ll be fine.” Caro reassured.


Jack nodded. As much as they hated to admit it they were all pretty used to Daniel impulsively risking his health for his beliefs and sense of duty; still didn’t make it easier.


“And her?” he motioned to Vala.


“Her, I’m more concerned about. I’ve never encountered a cold-blooded human before, so I’m pretty much flying blind. The minute I put her on the heating bed I senses her body functions improving, currently I’m gradually raising the temperature on the bed. Too much heat too fast could be a fatal as her getting too cold.

Hopefully, she’ll regain consciousness in a couple of hours.” Her eyes drifted to Vala and Jack could tell that she was worried.


“And him?”


Caro turned slowly to him, she had a slow smile on her face; she had known he was going to ask. Served him right for having an empath as a doctor. She probably felt the simmering anger that he was trying to hide.


“He hasn’t done anything except sit next to her and watch me work. He’s fine, Jack. He’s worried about his friend and more than aware of yours and Cam’s dislike for him, there’s no danger from him. Are you going to sit with Daniel?”


“Yeah, nothing better to do… Anyway it looks like we’re going to be here awhile.” He moved to sit next to Daniel’s bed, noticing for the first time that it was completely across the room from Vala’s. Damn. Caro had known he was coming; he bit back a smile.


“You don’t have to justify wanting to spend to be here. I’ll just be across the room. ” Caro gave him a soft smirk.


Yep, served him right for having an empath for a doctor.


Watching over Daniel never got old, you would think that after all the times the kid spent in the med bay he’d get tired of it, but he never did. It was ingrained in him, the same way it had been with Charlie. So he watched over the kid. It was funny, he never felt this way about Cam, but then again he had always known Cam as solider. When he had first met Daniel he had been an apprentice archeologist to Sara, and all he had know about war was what he had learned from relics and books. And like Sara, he had grown fond of the kid, pain in the ass that he was. Those first five years on Abydos where he had been a second brother and uncle to Sara and Charlie and then these last seven years of traveling in space, Daniel Jackson had become his partner, confidant, best friend, brother- his family.




The sound Jack broke out of his thoughts and he turned to a waking Daniel.


“Hey there, sleepy-head.” Reaching over he ruffled Daniel’s hair which had Daniel batting his hand away.


“Jack?” Daniel mumbled groggily.


“Yep it’s me.” Jack watched as understanding entered Daniel’s face- he was on the ship. And then suddenly he jerked forward, fully awake.


“Vala!? Were… She was… We… ” Daniel moved to sit up, eyes searching the room. Huh.


Jack was surprised at Daniel’s reaction, especially when he saw how his friend’s body relaxed as his eyes landed on the bed across the room. Interesting.


“I… Is she..” Daniel cleared his throat. “How is she?” And Jack saw the walls go back up.


Calling Caro over he let the doctor answer his friend’s question, “Honestly, she could be better.”


“What do you mean?” Daniel squirmed under Caro’s ministrations, as she checked him over.


Jack smirked. “Well it seems your new girl here,” He ignored Daniel’s glare. Very interesting. “It seems that she’s a special one.”


“What is that supposed to mean?”


Again, Caro answered the younger man’s question. “It appears that she’s cold-blooded. Since she isn’t able to regulate her body temperature, it’s taking longer to get her to the core body temperature. And like I told the captain, raising it too fast would probably as bad. So all we can really do is just wait for her body to recover.”


From Daniel’s shocked look, it was apparent that he hadn’t know this little fact, and then just as quickly Jack saw the wheel’s turning in the young man’s head. Daniel moved to get a better look at the woman across the way and Jack saw understanding and anger in blue eyes, but what struck him the most was that it was the kind of anger Jack himself had been feeling earlier. Daniel was mad at the woman, but he was worried about her even more.


This was definitely going to get interesting.


                                                       * * * *

Daniel sighed at his current situation. According to Caro he had to stay in the med bay for a few more hours until the doctor herself was happy with his energy levels and vitals to let him go. Normally he would argue the decision until Caro finally relented and let him go with several warnings, but he today didn’t. Vala was still recovering, slowly, and he didn’t know why but he wanted to be in the room when she woke up. At least he’d have some company during his wait, because it didn’t look like Jack was going anywhere.


“So a shark?”


Turning to Jack, Daniel shrugged. “Well, we were underwater.”


Jack rolled his eyes. “And did you find whatever it was you were looking for?”


“We did. You know we did.”


“And? What is it?”


“Don’t know. It’s some sort of machine that I’ve never seen before.”


“Oh, well, that’s just great… You go and almost get eaten for something you don’t even know how to work.”


“She does.” Daniel’s eyes fell to Vala across the way. She was looking better; her lips didn't look as pale as they had under the water. He shook his head; he should have noticed something was wrong before. She had been too pale the entire time they had been under, but he had dismissed it as an effect the coldness of the water was having on him.


“She does?”


“Well, she definitely understands it better than I do.”






“So we’re waiting for her to wake up, so she can enlighten us?”


“Something like that. I could go and see if any of the manuscripts I brought up could help, but since I’m not allowed to leave...” Daniel trailed off and gave Jack a pouty look, which Jack promptly ignored. The last thing either needed right now was Caro on the warpath for a missing patient.


“Forget it. Just sit tight and let wait for your girlfriend to wake up.”


Daniel huffed. “She’s not my girlfriend.”




“She’s not.”


“You guys seemed cozy when you got up here.”


“We were unconscious!”


Jack smirked. “Maybe so, but Sam and Cam hinted there might have been something...”


Daniel’s eyes bug slightly, making Jack chuckle, to which he then gave the older man a squinty glare. “We just met, and she’s crazy. Ask Cam if you don't believe me.”


“Oh, I believe you. She has to be crazy to jump into freezing cold water knowing what it will do to her and fight a shark with no real weapon, but then again you were right there with her. Who would have thought, Daniel Jackson, Shark Fighter.”


Daniel groaned and rolled his eyes; Jack was getting too amused about the situation, not that it really surprised him.


“Jack.” It's not funny.


“Daniel.” Oh, but it is.


Deciding that they needed a change of subject, Daniel looked over at where Vala was again, more specifically at the person next to Vala. Teal’c. He knew that Jack had to be a lot more annoyed at having the Jaffa on the ship than he was showing. He made a mental note to thank Sam and Cam for whatever they had said to convince Jack to not shoot Teal’c on sight. Unlike many on the Prometheus, he did not share the same odium against the Jaffa, but he understood where Jack was coming from.


Sitting up he looked over at his friend. “About Teal’c,”


“Don’t, Daniel. Mitchell and Sam already gave me low down on your friend’s buddy. Caro said he’s done nothing by sit next to her, so we don't have to the same conversation too. Okay?”


He met Jack’s eyes and nodded. “Okay.” After a pause he added, “Thanks anyway.”


“Don’t mention it. Just as long as he behaves and gives me no reason to shoot him, he’s okay.”


“Big of you.”


“Well, you know me. Wait, did you just call me fat?”


Daniel rolled his eyes but didn't answer.


They sat for a while in silence, with the occasional quip from Jack about the shark and getting his ass kicked by a girl. When they heard Teal’c’s’ voice, its deep tone cut through the room like a knife.


“Dr. Lam, Vala Mal Duran seems to be waking.” The large man was now standing by his friend’s bed, looking down at the slight woman with great concern.

As Caro rushed over to her patient, Daniel felt Jack pushing his shoulder down, he hadn't even realized he had moved to get up. He settled back on the bed as he watched Caro examine Vala.


“Muscles?” Her voice came out small and weak, but Daniel felt something suspiciously close to relief when he heard it. She was okay. She looked confused though, Daniel couldn’t really blame her. She probably didn’t know where she was.


“It is I, my friend.” Teal’c’s’ voice softened as he looked to the waking woman.


“What happened? Where are-?” her voice, rough, she suddenly shot up in her bed clutching a hand to her chest. “Daniel! He was right…” And like Jack did to him, Daniel watched as Teal’c put his arm on her shoulder to stop her from getting up.


“Daniel Jackson is also well. We are currently on their ship; you were in great need of medical attention after your most imprudent actions.” Raising an eyebrow, that had Vala cringing slightly, Teal’c sounded like a big brother scolding a bratty sister and oddly enough, Daniel was once again reminded of Jack.


At her friend’s reassurance that Daniel was fine, Vala fell back to the bed. “Good, and don't give me that eyebrow, you know I had to do it.”


“I know no such thing.”


Before Vala could retort, Caro interrupted. “Ms. Mal Duran,”


“Who are you?” Finally noticing the other woman, Vala eyed Caro and shifted closer to Teal’c.


Sighing, Caro looked at the woman, “I am Caro Lam, the ship’s doctor and if you could sit still for a minute and let me check you, I’ll be able to see how you’re body temperature is progressing.”


Unfortunately at those words, Vala moved even farther from the doctor, well, as far as the small bed would allow. “I’m perfectly fine. There’s no need to check me.”


“I beg to differ, Ms. Mal Duran, you came to be practically frozen and with your unique physiology I rather give you a thorough check.”


“Unique phys--” Vala started to protest, before Teal’c broke in.


“They know, my friend. For them to properly treat you, I had to relinquish that information.”


Vala looked shock. “Teal’c!”


“It was necessary.”


“See, it’s fine, and honestly very good that you’re friend told us, you could have suffered even more damage to your internal systems if I had not known. So, may I now check you over?”


With one last look at Teal’c, Vala nodded and Caro looked over her patient. After Caro was done she nodded.


“The heating bed is really helping in recovering your blood temperature, but it is still a little to low for my liking, I’m gonna recommend that you stay in here for a couple more hours.”




“She will.” Teal’c intoned.


“Traitor.” Vala pouted at her friend. Teal’c just gave what looked to be a mischievous smile. Vala rolled her eyes before they narrowed and she asked, “Where’s Daniel? If I was unconscious, he must have been too. He was in the water as long as I was.” Her voice held a distinct tone of worry that she tried to pass off as casual.


“He’s fine too. In fact, he’s right over there.” Caro pointed to him and Daniel fought the urge to smile at the woman on the bed.


Vala apparently fought no such urge, perking up the second her eyes fell on him. Again, Daniel fought the urge to smile at Vala, as well as the feeling he suddenly got in his stomach.


“Darling! What are you doing all the way over there?” She smiled big, happy to see him well. “Body heat is really the best way to cure our situation, you know?”


Well, she seemed to be recovering fine.


At Vala’s words Daniel saw as Caro fought back a laugh, Teal’c rose his eyebrow again in what could only be construed as amusement and Jack snorted.


Daniel glared.




“What?” she winked saucily at him.


“Stop it.”


“But darling, I was worried.” She pouted and this time Daniel did smile, if only a little.


“As you can see I’m fine. I don’t have to worry about my body temperature dropping and not being able to raise it back up.” He really hadn’t meant to let that out, but he couldn’t help himself. What had she been trying to prove?


Vala scoffed. “Well, it looks like I’m going to be fine, so it really doesn't matter.”


“Because you got lucky. It was a stupid move.” He shot back.


“This coming from the man who jumped in the water after me.”


“We already went over that, you needed me…”


“Please, neither of us knew it at the time, you’re being just as reckless.”


“At least I knew I wouldn’t die from exposure.”


“Oh, really?”




“Liar. And anyway I had my suit on! You had no protection whatsoever.”


“And you know without the helmet the suit was useless. Plus I had my knife, I’d call that protection.”


“Against what?”


“Well, it seemed to work against the shark!”


“Only after I took it! You hadn’t even thought about using it.”


“I did too, you snatched it away.”


“You were going to do something stupidly noble.”


“Like you’re plan wasn’t stupid!”


“It would have wor--”


“Okay! Stop!” Jack said, breaking up the verbal sparing match between the two bedridden figures, whom were both sitting up on their respective beds leaning towards the other, eyes locked. With a small smile he muttered, “I see what Sam meant…”


At that Daniel turned to Jack. “What’s that supposed to mean?”


Clearing his throat, Jack waved the question off. “Nothing Danny boy, now aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?”


“Yes, Daniel, I quite agree. It’s very rude not to introduce us.” Vala said giving Jack a once over that had Daniel wanting to throw a pillow at her. But there was something else in her eyes that Daniel couldn’t quite place; it did not sit well with him.


“Very. But I think we’ll forgive because you’re clearly still recovering.”


Snapping his head back between Jack and Vala, Daniel could begin to see the nightmare these two could be. Just great.


“He doesn’t need an introduction, he already knows who you are.” Daniel met Vala’s eyes across the room in defiance.


“You’ve been talking about me?” Vala tilted her head with a smile, “Daniel, I’m flattered.”


“Wha-“ Daniel stammered and Jack bit back a laugh (he was really liking this woman), “I haven’t. Sam and Mitchell did.”


Vala only looked slightly disappointed before brightening up. “Oh, well, I see. And since you’re not going to be doing the introductions, I guess I’ll do them myself.” She straighten herself, patted her hair and faced Jack and with a playful, seductive smile, “Vala Mal Duran, pleasure to meet you.”


Jack smirked at the woman. “Captain Jack O’Neill. I want to say it’s a pleasure but you and your friend managed to beat up some of my best guys and get Daniel here laid up in the med bay, a place we try to keep him out off. Hell of a first impression I have to say.” His tone was harsh and sarcastic.


Daniel looked at Jack slightly worried. He had thought Jack would have taken to Vala right away, but his friend didn't seem to be giving the woman any leeway.


Vala didn’t seem to take any hostility to Jack’s words, just smiled wider. “Oh, I like you Captain Jack. But honestly, you should know that at least half of that was through no fault of my own. Your crew seems to have penchant for trouble, if I do say so myself.” Her eyes were curious and sparkling as she addressed Jack.

Again, Jack smirked. “I know.”


“If I may have a question, Captain Jack?” Vala smiled, wrapping as much teasing sarcasm around the last two words as she could.


“You may.”


“We’re on your ship, right?” Jack nodded. “Lovely, where’s ours?” Vala asked turning to look at Teal’c.


“Our ship, Vala Mal Duran is still on the planet.”


“You left it?” Vala’s voice suddenly got low and looked at her friend in disbelief and hurt. It was obvious that her ship meant a lot to her.


Teal’c shook his head and placed a large hand on a small shoulder, his voice was soft and reassuring. “We did not. We are still in orbit above the planet. I chose to wait for you to wake instead of returning for the ship. Captain O’Neill and his crew have been courteous enough to wait.”


Vala visibly relaxed and turned to Jack. “Thank you.” This time her voice held no teasing and Daniel saw his friend nod in the same serious manner; Jack understood what it was to call a ship “home”.


Turning to Teal’c, Vala asked perplexed, “Teal’c, why didn't you go get it? I must have been out for a while, you had the time.”


“I did not want to leave you by yourself, Vala Mal Duran. I wanted to make sure of your health. Now that you are recovering, I will head down to the planet and retrieve the Seraphim, if it is alright with Captain O’Neill.”


“Yea, no problem. According to Sam and Mitchell it’s not a Tel’tak and small enough to fit in the gilder bay, so whenever you wanna go get it, you’re welcome too. Preferably, sooner than later.”


Vala nodded. “Thank you. Teal’c can go pick it up, but you might want to send Samantha as well.”


“Why?” Daniel asked. He could see the glint in Vala’s eyes and it reminded him of the looks Sam would get with new toys.


Vala just gave them a secretive look. “Just a hunch, but I think she might just fall in love with it.” Then like quicksilver she turned serious, “The machine, I take it Sam also has it?” Daniel wondered how she knew that.


Jack nodded. “Yea, she said she was going to start some test on it. It’s safe, right?”


“Oh, perfectly.” Vala eased Jack’s worries. “The power source seems to be depleted; I was just wondering because after the Seraphim is docked, we have to start figuring our new toy.” She said the last part looking straight at Daniel and he found himself nodding.


                                                       * * * *

Now that Vala was recovering, Teal’c let himself relax, if only slightly. He was still too aware of the mistrust the captain and commander held towards him, but it was a prejudice he had dealt with ever since leaving Apophis ranks. Very few humans forgave the Jaffa and their roles as Goa’uld warriors. Teal’c normally did not mind it so much, but it could prove to a hindrance in this new “partnership” that Vala had struck if their new “friends” kept wanting to shoot him.


Looking at his partner he watched as she bantered and snipped with the human Daniel Jackson. His friends had always been a lively one, but in the past few hours with this human he had seen a spark in Vala Mal Duran that he had never seen before. It was most amusing. Especially considering that his friend had failed in noticing the difference in her manner.


And now that Vala was up and obviously regaining her spark, Teal’c decided that he could now leave her in the hands of these new people to get the ship. She was well enough not to need his protection for the moment and he felt confidant that this Daniel Jackson would not let any further harm come to her.


As Vala spoke to Daniel and the captain, O’Neill, about the machine and what it could possibly be, Teal’c interrupted, “Vala Mal Duran, now that you are awake I am ready to return to the planet and the ship so that we may leave this place.”


All three of the other occupants in the room turned to Teal’c. He stood waiting for their answer. Vala spoke first.


“Good idea, Muscles. No offense to this lovely rock but I don’t think I want to spend any more time on it. Now help me up.” Vala extended her hand, which Teal’c just looked at.


When Teal’c didn’t take her hand, Vala looked confused. “What?”


“You are staying on the ship.”


“What? Why?” Vala pouted, Teal’c knew his friend was not a fan of medical facilities but this time he would not indulge her whims of escape.


“You are still recovering and Dr. Lam mentioned you needed several more hours of rest.”


“I’m perfectly fine.”


“You are not.”


Vala huffed and increased her pout. “Come on, Muscles. This place is boring. And I’ll be moving so I’ll be warming up.” Teal’c raised an eyebrow (one which Vala had come to name #33: you will do as I say).


“I do not think so, Vala Mal Duran.” Teal’c said gently pushing her down on the bed when she moved to get up. Vala tried to get up again, only to be pushed back down.


“Wow, you’re as bad as Daniel, here.” Jack looked between the woman and Teal’c with a look of understanding crossing his face.




Jack rolled his eyes. “What? She is.” He turned towards Vala and Teal’c. “Vala?”


Vala stopped her antics to get out of the bed and turned towards Jack. “Yes?”


“According to what Daniel told me, we’re going to be working together, right?” Vala nodded, confused. “Which means you and you friend are going to be pretty much joining my crew, right?” Again, Vala nodded. “Well that means you gotta do as I say and I say you follow the Doc’s orders and stay put. I’m sure your buddy here can handle getting your ship back? And didn’t you say it would be fine for him to go get it and take Sam?” Jack spared a glance at Teal’c, who just nodded.




“Well, then it’s settled. You,” Jack pointed at Vala, who slumped back on her bed, “stay put, and you have permission to go down a retrieve your ship.” With that Jack patted Daniel on the back and started towards the door. At the door he turned back, “Don’t worry so much Vala, Daniel will keep you company.” And then Jack left the room to Daniel yelling his name.


Teal’c gave his friend a small smile and moved to follow the captain to the docking bay. As he left the room he heard, “Well, darling are you sure you don’t want to come over here? Like I said body heat really is the best medicine for our situation…”, followed by a male groan.



CHAPTER V:  New Days Dawning


Sam followed Teal’c as he led them towards his and Vala’s cargo ship. Sam had to admit that she was excited to see more about this ship. It was unlike anything she had come across before. Not a Tel’tak, but about the size of one which meant it would fit nicely in the 302 bay, it also seemed to have some similarities with Asgard technology, but not quite. It was odd and new, and Sam couldn’t wait to understand it better.


As they got closer, Sam reached for her data pad, looking at the readings that the ship gave off. The naquahdah readings were peculiar. Looking the cargo ship, she could tell that the levels of radiation it was giving out were too small for the power requirements for what she believed a ship this advanced would need. But it wasn’t only that; the power signature that the naquahdah gave off almost read like naquadria- just a small discrepancy, nothing most people would notice. But Samantha Carter was not most people. It was quite smart actually. If anyone scanned the ship they would just assume that it was a randomly put together Asgard looking carrier with an unstable generator, nothing to fear or even consider stealing, unless they looked close enough.


It would only be then that they would see what an odd, but amazing ship it was. Sam tipped an invisible hat to Vala.


And it was. An amazing ship. Sam who had spent the majority of her adult life working on, studying, and living on the various ships the galaxy had to offer, she could clearly see the potential this ship had just by looking at it. That, and the feeling she got in her gut. The one her dad had always called it her ‘whiz kid gene’.


“Are you going to accompany me in, Samantha Carter?”


Snapped out of her thoughts, Sam turned to Teal’c. He was holding a side door open for her, his head inclined in a gesture of waiting.


“Um, yeah.” Sam moved towards Teal’c, following him in.


Inside the ship, Sam felt a sense of excitement take over her that she hadn’t felt since she had started her work with interstellar drives and naquahdah power sources. Looking at her data pad, she began clicking through the various readings that the ship was emanating. From inside she was able to get a clearer reading on the naquahdah output, as well as the one for the other fainter power source that was grabbing her attention. Going through a few calculations, she grinned.

“This ship doesn't really run on a naquahdah generator, does it?”


Teal’c turned to the blonde and raised his eyebrow, encouraging Sam to continue.


“I mean, the power readings that I’m getting are too inconsistent for a ship running just on naquahdah.”


Giving a small smile, Teal’c inclined his head in what could be construed as respect or admiration. Samantha Carter was a very perceptive woman.


“Very astute, Samantha Carter. You are correct. This ship has another power source in conjunction with the naquahdah generator. It is a device that it’s inherent to the ship.”


Sam smiled, excited at the new prospect of this secondary power source. “I thought so. May I ask what it is?”


“It is called a ZPM.”




“Yes. A zero point module. The device is actually the ship’s primary power source. The naquahdah generator is an add-on that Vala Mal Duran attached many years ago.”


“Yeah, that makes sense... I have to admit, Vala did a good job in covering the primary power source readings, I wouldn’t have even noticed the differential readings if wasn’t for the fact that I looked for them.” Looking excitedly at Teal’c she added, “Can I see it?”


Teal’c smiled. “Perhaps another time. I believe it would be wise to return to the ship as soon as possible, your captain did not seem keen on staying near this planet for much longer.”


“I guess.” Sam was disappointed, but nodded. He did have a point.


“Very well, the cockpit is this way.”


Following Teal’c, Sam couldn’t keep her eyes of the ship. The design, the energy readings she kept getting, the way it responded to Teal’c. Even to her. Everything. It was remarkable. She couldn't wait to understand it better.


The cockpit was another thing to marvel at. Two seats sat separate from each other and there was a huge space near the nose with floor to ceiling windows. She could only imagine what it looked like in space. She watched as Teal’c settled on the pilot’s seat, and how the lights immediately turned on and a screen came up in front of him. Wow. She really couldn’t wait.


“Samantha Carter.”




“Would you like to sit down?” Glancing at Teal’c she then looked at the co-pilot’s chair to the side.


“Oh, yeah. Thanks.” As she sat the console lights came on, moving her hands away she looked at Teal’c.


“Do not worry, it is only reacting to the naquahdah in your system. The ship is programmed to pick up on your life sign readings.”


Sam nodded. “Wait, does this mean that only you and Vala can fly this ship?”


“It does.”






Sam watched as Teal’c got the ship ready for take off. Except for a few things, it seemed that everything was done mentally. Amazing, a ship with a mental interface that only reacted to certain people and had a completely new power source. Inwardly, Sam giggled and bounced.


“We are ready for take off. You can radio Commander Mitchell, if you wish.”


Nodding, Sam radioed the Atlas. “Cam, we taking off. You guys ready?”


“Yep. See back home.”


“See ya.”


As Teal’c took of Sam felt the engines vibrate and then they sped off into the atmosphere faster than she had expected. Over the radio she heard, “Cool.”


Sam grinned. You have no idea.


                                                       * * * *

As the medical examiner of the Prometheus, Caro was privy to much of the crew’s private information. From space herpes, allergies and pregnancy scares to who had a healthy fear of needles and couldn’t stand the sight of blood. It was common knowledge on the ship that you did not want to mess with Dr. Caro Lam unless you wanted the ship to know in which planet you got that “flu” that had you in bed for a week. It was kinda nice. Not that Caro enjoyed having that power…

But that was nothing compared to what her empathic abilities gleaned of the many residents of the ship. It was there that she really held her power, if she chose to take it. Caro didn’t. In fact, it was due to the very same empathic nature she had gotten from her mother that made sure she would never take advantage of knowing her friends deepest, most hidden feelings. Because she felt these emotions as her own, she knew how much it would hurt to have these feelings betrayed. In that regards, Caro was probably the most trustworthy person on the ship. And as a doctor it was Caro’s duty to keep certain things confidential. Everybody was entitled to their privacy and secrets.


She still remembered how it had been when she first arrived on the ship. How she had been barely able to stand next to the captain, Daniel or Cam without feeling their hurt, their grief, their anger, guilt, and heartache. She had tried to do her best and reached out to all three of them. It was an empath’s nature to try and help those in suffering, but soon she learned that these were men that wanted to carry their burden, not forget them. It defined them, made them into the men that they were today; they held it close to their hearts and souls. She doubted they ever really talked about those days on Abydos much, they just seemed to understand one another, no words necessary.


Then, slowly, they had begun healing. Caro knew a lot of it was attributed to the ship and the home they had rebuilt.


And she had learned to understand them. Now she could easily say that she understood what her captain was feeling better than he did most of the time. It had been nerve-wracking at first, especially since most people tended to close themselves off at her, but now most even forgot she could glean their feelings unless she reminded them. The funny thing was that not only did she understand them, but they understood her too. It was nice to feel normal for once in her life.


Looking over at her current patients she thought back to when they had each woken up. The feeling that they had both experienced when they had remembered each other and the conditions that they had last seen the other in, the intensity she had felt in their worry. She had had to steel herself at strength of those emotions. For being perfect strangers something had bonded these two together in a way she didn’t think even they understood.


She watched as they alternately tried to ignore and banter with each other. If Vala, who was still recovering, was silent for too long Daniel would ask about the machine they brought up, and that would lead to a session of them arguing about how they got said machine. If Daniel, who was reading over some manuscripts that Jack had snuck in (as if she wouldn’t notice) got too immersed in the papers in front of him, Vala would ask him about sharing her bed or coming to sit closer to her. Those quips lead to more amusing sessions about buddy breathing and stripping armor. Caro, for the most part, just let them be. Their emotions were some of the strongest she had felt in a long time. These two were clearly two very passionate individuals and they seemed to feed of the other. It was quite the show.


She wondered if she should tell Daniel he had been free to go about an hour ago.


“Darling, I don’t know why you’re so against it, we have already kissed. Kinda.”


“First off, shut up! Secondly, you kissed me, and then almost got us killed, so it cancels out the kiss!” Daniel fell back on the bad and draped an arm over his face. Caro felt the mix of frustration, amusement, worry and…huh…affection; affection that had less to do with lust than she would have thought.


Nah. He could do with a couple more hours, or at least until Vala was cleared. Caro turned back to her work. Vala’s blood work was interesting. She would have to run her the sample through the DNA sequencer later.


Hearing the med bay door open she watched as the captain walked in the room and headed for Daniel. Sensing a spike of curiosity from Vala she looked over at the woman. She was looking at Jack like Caro was looking at her blood, a puzzle to be figured out. Well, she wouldn't be the first. Caro went back to work. She was confident the captain could handle those two.


Jack to Daniel’s bedside, sitting on the chair he had abandoned before.


“Well, I just got word from the planet. They got to the ship and are on their way back.” Turning to Vala he continued, “It looks like Cam’s already is half in love with it, and Sam might not leave it at all. They should be here soon.”


Vala just smiled, looking at Jack as if she was seeing him for the first time. Her head titled slightly, her eyes silver eyes were focused and sharp. Daniel’s own eyes narrowed.


“Lovely. I gather we’ll be having a nice chat we they get back.”


“Oh, you can count on it. In fact, that’s why I’m here, to see if the good doctor lets you two go. Hey, doc!”


Caro looked up from her lab work to the captain. “Yes?”


“How long until these two are free to go?”


Caro smiled. “Well, Daniel’s been free to go for the last hour,”


“What! Why didn’t you say so?” Caro ignored Daniel.


“And Vala, let me just do one quick check over, but you’re free to go too.”


“Great.” Jack clapped his hands together, and turned to the patients. “Daniel, Vala as much as I’ve loved having you two here, if you can head to the conference room after the doc releases you, that would be great. See ya.”


Clapping Daniel on the shoulder, Jack turned to leave, only to be stopped by Vala whose eyes had never left the man.


“Oh, captain? One last question.”


“Okay.” Jack gave Daniel a look, while the younger man just shrugged.


“Where are you from?”


“That your question?” Vala nodded. “Okay… Abydos.”


“Were you born there?”




“That’s nice.” Vala smiled, tilting her head.


“That it is. Now, I have to make sure nobody dinged my docking bay. I’ll see you two the conference room. I swear, that room never gotten as much action as it has lately.” Jack waved, heading out the door.


After Jack left the room, Daniel couldn’t help but blurt out, “What was that about?”


Vala looked at him in almost genuine confusion. “What, darling?”


“Jack… What was that about?”


“Oh, nothing, darling. I just thought he reminded me of someone I knew…” she seemed to be sincere enough, but Daniel had a feeling that it wasn’t the whole story. And Vala knew he really didn’t believe her.


Shaking her head Caro, walked over to finish her check up on her patients.


                                                       * * * *

The conference room was a large room with floor to ceiling windows on its left side. Outside those windows laid space, infinite and wondrous. Outside the windows, stars sparkled light-years away, offsetting the darkness of the black. Outside, laid a galaxy full of infinite worlds, some happy, some under the atrocious rule of monsters pretending to be gods. Outside, laid a galaxy that Anubis was trying to take from them all.


Inside there were six people. Six people who were strangers, family and friends. Six people who would fight to save the galaxy they all loved. Six warriors who did not understand the path that lay before them, but would walk it without fear.


                                                       * * * *

In the conference room, Vala sat next to Teal’c as their new “friends” stood off to the side, obviously discussing what to do in regards to them, and this newfound yet slightly awkward partnership. She had already seen how they reacted to her friend, her own “special” situation, and from what Teal’c had quickly mentioned on their walk from the infirmary, the ship also seemed to be raising curiosity levels. But she had known that it would.


So far they had done nothing, but save her life and take care of her ship. Unfortunately, they had also shot her, made so not veiled threats and given looks of distrust to her friend, and while she could appreciate the interest her ship could bring, she also knew the lengths some people could go to for any kind of advantages over their adversaries.


She wanted to trust to them, and, honestly, a big part of her already did, as irrational as it was, but she hadn’t survived this long without always begin appropriately wary.


She thought about Oma Dessala. If the priestess had chosen to trust these people, she must have seen something in them. And Vala could see it too. There was something about their spirit. But it was something else too. Actually, it was everything else. Their ship, and its definite Asgard upgrades. Their doctor, an empath, though they probably thought she hadn’t noticed. Mitchell, obviously a solider and a well trained one at that. Samantha Carter, a half Tok’ra child. Their captain, and the impossibility of his situation. And Daniel. Especially Daniel. Everything. They made an odd group, but looking at them, she saw a familiarity in them that just worked.


Looking over at Teal’c she could relate. She also wanted to get on with it.


“You know, as relaxing as it is just sitting here, we need to get on with this. We already decided that we’re working together, so I think that we need to actually start working together. I’m going to need a place to work with the machine, and obviously Teal’c and me are going to need quarters. I mean, unless you want us to keep living on our ship, but that can’t be too safe. ”


They rest the room just turned to her, all with various looks of shock and exasperation crossing their faces. Teal’c merely nodded.




“First off,” Jack started as he and the rest of the room sat down, “are you sure you can get this thing to work.” Jack gestured to the machine in the middle of the table.


“I hope so.”


“You hope?”


She looked over at the machine that sat in the middle of the table. It was computer she was almost sure of it, but she had never seen one like it before and further more she had no clue how to fuel its power source. It was ancient, but incredibly sophisticated.


“Well, captain, this technology is as new to me as it is to you. From the very little time I had with the machine I am pretty confident in saying that it’s definitely some sort of workstation, a computer of sorts, but the power source is depleted, so we can’t confirm that. And even if it wasn’t, I have no clue in how to make it work. There’s also no screen, so unless it needs to be attached to something I have no clue on how to see the data.”


“So you’re saying, you don’t know how to work it?”


“Well, not exactly Jack,” Sam interrupted. “I agree with Vala in that it’s some sort of ancient work space, and its power source is depleted, but I think we can rig a new power supply. From what I saw on their ship, and how some of the systems were set up, I think Vala can definitely help me out in working out a new way to give this device the power for it to work.”


“Thank you, Samantha. And from what I can tell the power source this machine used was extremely advance and powerful, we’ll need to reconfigure some of its basic system to adapt for one of our power sources.”


Sam continued. “Also from the readings that I got on the Seraphim, the ship seems to have an even more powerful power source than a naquahdah generator.

“Caught that, didn't you?” Vala leaned forward towards Sam.


“Yeah, Teal’c said it was ZPM. What is that? Because if my calculations are right, you can pretty much power that ship indefinitely with it, right? So why would you use a naquahdah generator at all?”


“You are right, Sam. I can run the ship on just the ZPM, but that would get me a lot of unwanted attention. Also with the mish-mash of parts I have added to the Seraphim it was just easier attaching a naquahdah generator for some of them, they wouldn’t be able to handle the power the ZPM gives out without having a…filter, is I think the best way to describe it. As for what the ZPM is, well, it’s a Zero Point Module, it well, as best as I can describe it, it uses zero point energy to power the ship.”


“Zero point energy? That’s… amazing.” Sam exclaimed. “Wow, if we could rig that up to the machine, or even to the ship, the amount of energy… of course, it would need to be buffered, or it could over load the systems.” Sam muttered to herself, before she turned to Vala. “You said that you attached it to a naquahdah generator?”




“Perfect, if we…”


“Sam!” Jack called out, brining back the two women to attention.


“Oh, sorry, sir. It’s just their power source would really help us out.”


“Yeah, I got that. Mind explaining why to the rest of us.”


Sam turned to Vala, who just waved for her to continue, trusting her to explain.


“Simply put, the zero point energy their ZPM uses is basically limitless energy. It could run the Prometheus for, well, forever, if we wanted it too. If we could make it so it powers the machine, we’d have our information.” Sam clarified, but Jack only caught onto one thing.


“We can run the ship forever on this thing?” The room could see Jack eyes brighten at that information.


“I don’t think that’s was the point, Jack.” Daniel said.


“Who asked you?”


“Well, it seemed like you just did.”


“Rhetorical, Daniel, the question was rhetorical.”


“Didn’t seem like it.”


“Well, it was.”


“I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but even it was capable of running your ship forever, as Samantha put it, you wouldn't be able too.”


Again the room just looked at Vala. This time all the looks were questioning, and Jack’s even held a little betrayal.


“Why the hell not?” Cam asked the question the rest of his friends were thinking.




“Oh, not this again. That’s not an answer, you know?’


Vala scoffed and rolled her eyes at the man. “Because, if you had let me finished, my ship needs it. The naquahdah generator we have on the ship is a secondary power source that I attached so some the galaxies less advanced systems, which I had to install over the years, wouldn’t blow the ship up. The ZPM is the Seraphim’s power source and it can’t fly without it. I can detach it and lend it to you, but it’s not for keeps.”


Jack eyes narrowed and met Vala’s. “And how do we know that that as soon as you have what you need, you won't leave us high and dry, while you take your ship and go look for this weapon, leaving us in the dust?”




Cam groaned, he was really hating when that word came out of this woman’s mouth. Teal’c on the other hand, was finding his friend’s interaction with these humans more and more amusing.


Vala just smiled, tilting her head to give share a pleased smile with Teal’c. Perfect opening.


“Because, like Daniel said on the planet, we’ll need to trust each other. This won’t work with us keeping things from one another. Now, I’m not saying we have to share life stories, but we need to know that we won't be needing to point guns at each other all the time.”


Jack nodded his head at this truce. “Agreed. What do you want to know?”


“You’re Lantean, right? At least the ship is.”


“Yes. Most of the crew is. Why?”


“Just curious. I like to know who I am in bed with.” She sent a wink Daniel’s way. He just rolled his eyes.


“And what is it exactly that you do? I’m sure its not following questionable quest from temple priestesses.”


“We run a recovery and salvage operation, mostly looking for naquahdah. Is that all?”


“For now, Captain Jack, for now…” Lantean, Vala thought. It made sense. The Lanteans had always been known for their open opposition against the Goa’uld and Anubis. They were also close allies with the Asgard, and over the last few years had begun developing a reputation in being pains in the Goa’uld’s mikita. She had even heard through several of her more reliable channels that a group of Lanteans had even defeated Ra. She wondered…


They were also one the more advanced civilizations in the galaxy, she even remembered sayings from her own home world about the Lanteans asserting themselves as quite the political influence in the galaxy. So much so that there had been whispers that the Tau’ri might have ended their isolation from the galaxy that had disappointed them, and strike a new allegiance with the Lanteans against the Goa’uld. Of course, that had never come to pass. Her world was dead, but the Lanteans fought on. The priestess could have picked worse allies for her in this quest.


“What about you, captain? Any questions?”


"How is it that you know and speak Tau'rian so well?" Daniel asked his eyes focusing on Vala in such a way that Vala suspected he already knew the answer and was just waiting for her to confirm it. She just stared back. She could lie to him, she knew she could, just because they were all now aware of her unique anatomy didn't mean squat to her. She had lied to many before about far less important things, but looking at Daniel, their eyes matched in the curiosity they held towards each other, she knew that she didn't want to. And that scare her more than she was willing to admit to herself.


Vala answered, "You already know, darling."


Daniel looked at her and nodded, he did, or at least he had a pretty good idea. But he wanted her to tell him.


"Then there's no harm in telling me."


For Vala it was a stalemate, to willingly tell him and his crew what, who, she really was, was sharing a part of her that nobody knew except Teal'c. But she wanted too, and more importantly, she didn't want to lie to him. That might be a problem later.


She looked at Daniel straight in the eyes. Even though Jack, Sam, and Cam were in the room, this was for him (and she didn't even understand why). "I'm Tau'rian. I am the last Tau'rian left in the galaxy." The room went still. There were no gasps of surprise, just shocked silence, and Vala and Daniel were only focused on each other.


Daniel's voice went soft when he asked his next question. "How are you alive? Everybody heard of how Anubis destroyed the planet; nobody could believe it. The Tau'ri were always one of the most advance civilizations in the galaxy, for them to be taken out so quickly had the galaxy in shock."


"I know. And the answer is quite simple actually, I ran away."




"I had run away from my planet a few years before Anubis destroyed it. Just because the planet as a whole stopped normal space travel, didn't mean that we were stuck on it. It was just a choice that people made long ago, but things happen and I just couldn't stay there anymore, so I ran. My father built ships and so I stole the Seraphim and left. Two years later I felt the entire planet die." Her voice was getting too hoarse, she cleared her throat.


Vala could feel all the eyes in the room on her. Not even Teal'c had known that little factoid, and she could feel the pity and sympathy that this reveal gave. She didn't want it. She had been a coward and ran away. She didn't deserve to be looked as a survivor, if anything, she was a deserter.


"What do you mean 'you felt them die'?"


Vala focused back on Daniel. He was just looking at her, his eyes full of curiosity and understanding. There was no pity in his gaze; she gave him a small smile.

"Tau'rian's were able to sense each other. There is a gene that we all share that allows us to recognize one another. It also allows us to work certain pieces of our technology that you wouldn't be able to work without the gene. There’s a mental component to it, but that’s just way over my head. The Seraphim for example, I had to modify so it would allow Teal'c to pilot it."


Sam spoke up. "Really? That's amazing. So you can fly the ship with just your mind?"


"More or less. I can tell the ship what I want it to do, but you still need to be at the controls to fly it. I can't fly it from my quarters, but I can have the engine shut down if I feel like it, or have the lights flicker on and off."




"Yes, and it is not amusing."


Jack and Teal' c said at the same time, the latter with a look that said he had obviously been victim to Vala's antics.


"You only say that because I do it when you are flying."


"My point, Vala Mal Duran."


"Anyways, like I said there is an entire mental component that I hate to say I don't completely understand."


"So only you and Teal'c can fly this ship?" Cam asked, the disappointment evident in his voice. He had seen how cool it had look on take off back on the planet.

"Well I wouldn't say that. Because of the naquahdah in her blood, Sam could fly it and, I think, our lovely captain here might be able to fly it too."


At that all eyes went to Jack, except for Daniel's whose eyes stayed on Vala. They had never strayed from her. They were probing her, studying her and she hated how much she liked how it felt.


“Aw, that’s just not fair.” Cam exclaimed.


But again, it was Daniel that asked the tough question. "Why Jack?"


"Because, and I can't be 100 positive, but I think that you, Jack, darling have the gene."




Vala smirked; it was kinda fun upsetting the dear captain. "It's not as strong as I'm normally used to feeling, but darling, there is definitely something about you. And it's not just your good looks, silver fox that you are. I first felt it back in the infirmary but had just thought it was side affects of regaining my functions, but now, here, I can feel it. You have the gene. Trust me, it was quite the shock to me too, since I've never met someone that wasn't Tau'ri that has it.




“Very, actually. It’s quite interesting that you have the gene. Not even my people acquired it naturally, well not all of them, and not at first. There were many years of gene therapy that they did to reach the DNA sequence that later became natural in our people. In fact, that is why we are cold blooded, a side effect of sorts.”

“Wait, you mean to tell I’m gonna become cold-blooded.” Jack did not like the sound of that.


“No, I don’t think. That’s also rather interesting. It’s been centuries since a warm-blooded human has acquired the gene. I fear you, my dear Captain Jack, are one of a kind.”




Vala smiled at Jack. He really was one of a kind; she doubted that anybody else would have acted as nonchalant as he did to the news. Though, she had a feeling they might be having a longer talk later, maybe after she was able to sneak the good doctor’s files on him. “Oh, no need to worry, Captain Jack, just as long as you don't advertise this fact to Anubis I’m sure you’ll be fine. Now, back to business?”


Giving Vala a skeptical look, Jack nodded. “All right then, back to business. What do now?”


“Well, my dear Captain Jack, while me and Samantha try to figure out how to power this thing and Daniel gets lost in the manuscripts we saved, you and your crew can go about your business.” Vala stated, leaning back in her chair with a pleased look.


“First off, don’t call me Captain Jack, it make me sound like a floozy.”


“Aye, aye.”


Jack rolled his eyes, “Secondly, not that I want to be a party pooper or anything, but we don’t exactly run this ship on sunshine and smiles. And seeing how this is looking more and more to be a freelance kinda thing, operative word there being free, we need to work to keep us floating. Anybody got any ideas on how to do that?” Jack addressed mostly his crew, who had obviously not thought of this. The joys of being the captain.




Ironically, it was Vala that came with an answer, “My dear captain,” she winked. “I believe I have your solution.”




Looking over at Teal’c she saw the questioning look her friend gave he along with eyebrow # 21 - Are you sure? She nodded. Teal’c bowed his head in support to her idea. They had discussed it before, just in case they would have need leverage in this meeting. “Recently, Teal’c and I acquired a data disc. This disc was supposed to go to a…shall we say, client, but sadly that transaction could not be completed. Fortunately for you we are still in possession of the disc, and the information it has.”


“And what pray tell is this information?”


“The locations to several of Camulus’s naquadah mines.”


Again the table went quite at Vala’s words, and if she didn’t find it so amusing, she’d find it disconcerting.


Sam was the first one to regain the power of speech, “But I thought Ba’al had taken over all of Camulus’s territory?”


“Ah, yes. Ba’al. He did, but like all Goa’uld, Camulus was greedy little snake and keep several of his minds “off the record”. These are those mines, and let me tell you getting this information was not fun at all, so they better be worth it.”


“And how many mines are we talking about here?” Cam asked, leaning forward on the table, his eyes questioning, still not completely believing her and Teal’c.


She leaned forward in return, he was going to have to deal with it, with them. “Over 20, all hopefully, unknown to Ba’al and the remaining System Lords. Granted, I warn you, some have probably been found or taken over by the former human slaves and/or Camulus’s ex-Jaffa. But if they haven’t, you could keep this ship flying for years with what you could find here.” Smiling smugly, Vala leaned back in her chair. Gotcha.


Almost. Apparently, Jack liked to have the last word. “Years? This little mission better not take years.”


“Jack.” Daniel intoned. Stop it.


“What? You never said anything about years.”


Daniel sighed. “It won’t take years. But it’s not a bad idea. We can’t exactly take our regular jobs, because they tend to put us in Goa’uld heavy territories at times, and we don't need that right now. Anubis can’t get hold of what we are doing.”


Time to sweeten the deal, Vala thought. “If you want, I can help Sam replicate the cloaking technology of the Seraphim for your ship. Extra protection.”


“You have cloaking capabilities?” Sam exclaimed, her eyes shining in excitement. Sharing a look with Teal’c, Vala answered the blonde, “Of course.”


“Vala, I’m liking you more and more.” Jack grinned. Sweet.


“So do we have a deal?’


“We have a deal.”


Standing, Vala and Jack shook hands. Partners.



CHAPTER VI:  The Door and Barricades That We Use


Two weeks after Vala had given them the data disc, they were en route to the next planet. So far they had gotten lucky, out of the five planets visited, they had found two completely abandoned, two taken over the ex-human slaves – who had be been pretty receptive to the business the crew would provide for them, and one that had been completely dried out.

They had already contacted Lantea with the good news that they had four new planets to get naquahdah from. Things were good, except for the fact that they were still nowhere with the machine.

Sam and Vala had basically locked themselves in the Sam’s lab, both women working from the minute they woke up til they either fell asleep in the lab, or until Teal’c would usher them to their quarters. The large man, used to taking care of Vala, knew how the woman got when faced with a problem and was more than capable of “convincing” both women to get some sleep with just one eyebrow. Vala had a tendency of when sinking her teeth into something, she would not let go until she saw fit. Usually, she was able to figure most things out fairly quickly, but this particular problem was fighting her, so she fought back even harder. Unfortunately, Sam was the same way. Plus both women tended to egg each other on, resulting in many late nights of theories, plans, and simulations. The lab was a war zone; data pads, wires, one naquahdah generator, stacks of papers, and even the Seraphim’s ZPM covered the majority of it, while the machine lay smugly on the table.

Most of the crew had learned to avoid the lab in these last two weeks.

Daniel wasn’t one of those people. In fact, he went to the lab almost every day. He would spend his morning working on the manuscripts they had managed to save from Castiana. Stories full of man named Mirdin, the knights he guided, the city and the power they protected. Daniel was sure the power was the weapon, but there was still much to decipher, and that’s why he went to the lab every day.

Vala was the only other person on the ship that could even understand what was written on these papers. He would sit and watch as she spilt her time between working with Sam and schooling him the finer points of the Tau’ri language. Thankfully, the machine had the alphabet written on it, so it didn’t spilt her time too much, and on the plus side Sam was learning some of it the language too. At least that’s how Daniel justified his incursions to Sam’s lab, especially when he and Vala would get at it. They just couldn’t seem to not snip, quip and snark with each other, even when working on the same thing, especially when working on the same thing.

Sam said they focused too much on each other and not enough on what they were working on, then she’d be on the receiving end of two separate glares.

It was just Vala was always saying something, and Daniel couldn’t help but respond. She was just so there; completely filling the room and he couldn't focus on what he was supposed to. Still, he went practically every day, because she was the only one who could help him translate. And when the voice in his head told him that he could already translate and understand most of it he would push it back and retort that most was not all. So far it seemed to be working.

But he wasn’t the only one. She would seek him out too. Usually during dinnertime when she would bounce into his lab, perch herself on his desk, and ask him to join her. He would then decline, stating he wasn’t hungry, but would later join Sam who would sit next to her and discuss the device.

As he walked to Sam’s lab he looked down at the papers in his hands. He wished he could find something in them to help the two women out. Something, anything that would lead to a breakthrough. His thoughts filled briefly with Vala, in the last couple of days the area around her eyes had been getting darker each day and while he told himself that it wasn’t the reason he was hoping to find an answer quickly, he wasn’t sure if he believed himself. But he had no real reason to worry about her. She was fine. Working hard like Sam. So why wasn’t he thinking about Sam when reading the papers every day?

He entered the room and saw her hunched over the machine. On the other side Sam was looking at some data readings.

“Hey, how are the power readings looking?”

Sam exhaled. “Still too low.”

“You know, I’m really starting to hate this thing.”

“I hear you. It’s like it doesn’t even want to work. Every time we plug it into the naquahdah generator we barely get any reading,”

“And using the ZPM overloads the circuits and then we have to unplug it before the power source overloads or we burn it out. Even when we filter the ZPM’s power we risk blowing the stupid thing up.”

“I know. If only we knew what powered it in the first place.”

Vala laid her head down on the desk with a thump. “I hate this thing.”

Chuckling, Sam grabbed a bite of her blue dessert. Daniel could already see several empty containers, meaning they had been at it for a while.

From under her muffled arms, Vala muttered, “Gods, why can’t we just filter the filter?” As soon as she the words her head shot up and both women shared a look.


“You think?”

Sam took another bite of her dessert and turned back to her computer clicking away. “We’d need to build it from scratch, possibly using the system you have on the Seraphim for filtering the ZPM’s power to the naquahdah generator to the rest of the ship systems.”

Vala sighed. “Lovely, I hated building that thing, just so you know. We’re gonna have to reroute and buffer a shit load of systems and energy outputs.”

“How long do you think that’s will take?”

“Well, on the Sera it took about a month, so I’d say a week tops.”

Sam looked incredulously at the woman. A week? That was less than a quarter of the time she had estimated.


“You say this now, my dear Samantha. Just you wait.”

“So progress, I take it?” Daniel asked from the door. At his voice, Sam and Vala turned to face him. Both women looked tired, but Sam seemed looked to be brighter, the more alert of the two. Vala’s eyes looked a hazy grey, and her cheeks looked too pale in comparison to the bruised looking skin under her eyes. He wanted to ask if he was okay, but didn’t.

“Some,” Sam answered. “Hopefully, if this works we can have this thing working in less than a week.”


“Well, it would normally be longer, but Vala here knows her stuff.” Sam said, winking at the other female.

Vala just waved her off. “Oh, Sam, how you flatter me. Honestly, I don’t think I would have gotten this far, this fast, without your help. You, my dear, have true, genius level skills.”

The two women continued to tease each other and Daniel smiled. “Looks like you make a good team.”

Vala turned a wide smile his way. “Did you ever have a doubt?”

Daniel met her stare. “Do you really want me to answer that?”

“Do you really want me to make you answer that?”

Daniel rolled his eyes and leaned against the table across from her. “I don’t know, you might not like me answer.”

“And why wouldn’t I? I can’t believe you would doubt Sam’s skills in such a way!”

“What makes you think I was doubting Sam’s skills?”

“Daniel! You wound me.” She said with an exaggerated hand gesture to her chest and a smirk.

Daniel gave her his own smirk. “If only I could.”

Now she pouted, “Now Daniel, that really hurt.”


“You know what, darling,” Vala leaned forward on her perch, her face tilting closer to him, eyes twinkling a little, “I don’t think you are.”

Biting back a smile, which he luckily turned into another smirk, he answered, “Well, I guess you’ll just have to be left in suspense. We need to work on these papers.”

“Ah. You’re no fun, can’t you see I’ve been working hard all day.”

He pushed back guilt and a tickle of concern; it was barely ten am space-time, and she shouldn’t look this tired. Instead he continued, “It’s barely ten, you’ve only been at it for a couple of hours.”

“And how do you know I haven’t been up all night, hard at work?”

“Because I saw Teal’c drag you out at 2300.”

“Oh… Well, me and Sam came to the lab straight this morning, so we haven’t even had breakfast. Wanna join us?”

He looked at Sam, who had been finishing her food and watching the show, then back at Vala. She looked colorless. Maybe some food wouldn’t be so bad.

“Fine, but after,”

“After, I’m all yours.” She jumped of the table and winked at him.


                                                       * * * *
Cam and Teal’c were already sitting in the mess hall when Daniel, Vala, and Sam walked in. After they all grabbed their food, Vala gave them a quick smile before she headed and sat over with Teal’c, were the Jaffa was sitting in a separate corner. Most of the eyes in the mess hall followed her, all for different reasons.

Teal’c nodded to his friend in greeting, “Good morning, Vala Mal Duran. I trust you slept well?”

Vala just shrugged. “More or less, I miss my bed.” Downing her coffee, she gave a sigh of relief as the scalding liquid burned its way down her throat. Damn, did that feel good.

“I too miss the Seraphim. It was…cozier. And our meals were better.”

Vala laughed brightly at her friend’s words. “Yes, and I wasn’t always itching to shoot you, now was I?”

“You were not. Something I am most grateful for. I never truly appreciated your mercy, my friend.” Teal’c said dryly, taking a bite out if his eggs.

“Well, you know that’s what I’m known for, mercy and great benevolence. A true enlightened being.” Vala downed another coffee.

“Indeed.” Teal’c watched as Vala began on her third coffee. “Vala Mal Duran, are you sure you’re sleeping well?”

“Muscles, how you worry! I’m fine, it’s just a matter of getting used to this rather new environment. This is the first ship I’ve ever lived in beside the Sera, it’s… different.”

Teal’c raised eyebrow #21- Are you sure?

“So are you heading down to the planet today?” Vala ignored the eyebrow and changed the subject. Teal’c allowed it, he knew Vala had been working hard these past few weeks, not sleeping full nights, and he hoped that was the only reason his friend looked more ashen than usual.

“I am, though I do not believe the commander is pleased about it.” Both Vala and Teal’c looked over to where Cam sat with Daniel and Sam. The three friends were talking amongst themselves, but every once in a while one of the members of the table would look over to Vala and Teal’c. Cam’s eyes being the most critical.

“Oh, don't worry about him, he just needs to warm up to you and all your lovely qualities. I did.” She smiled and gave Cam her own critical look, “Plus, I don't think he’s as grumpy as he’s acting, he’s just being a protective puppy. It’s kinda cute.”

Teal’c raised his eyebrow again. “I do not think he sees it that way. Are you planning to join us on the planet today? I believe it would be good for you, you have been too long on the ship - it cannot be good for you. I have not seen you to stay this stationary for as long as I’ve known you.” And while Teal’c understood how important her current work was, her health was more important, and was not going to let her jeopardize it.

Vala thought about her friend’s suggestion. She had been too long on the ship, working too hard, and the planet was sure to be nice. A lovely new naquahdah mine on a nice warm desert planet, and hopefully with an oasis.

“Hey Sam!” Vala called out to her blonde friend across the way, “Wanna join the boys on the planet today? I think we deserve some fresh air.”

Half the room turned at the woman’s words, the other half just looked up. Sam looked at Vala and thought about declining the suggestion, but even she needed a break at times. And she had missed out on five other mines.

“Okay. I’ve been wanting to do some readings on the naquahdah found on theses planets anyway.”

“Hey, wait, you said you were going to help with the texts.” Daniel leaned over the table pouting.

“Daniel, it will be just a quick run through the mine. We’ll be back in a few hours with plenty of time to go over the texts letter by letter. Come on, let’s have an adventure.”

“I thought we were having one already.”

Vala smiled at Daniel. “And so far it’s a boring one, with a mean machine that doesn’t like us.”

“You thought the shark and almost death was boring?” Cam interrupted.

Vala titled her head playfully at the commander. “Well compared to some my other adventures it was pretty tame. Not an article of clothing was lost, though Daniel did look rather scrumptious in those wet pants…”

“And all sudden I don’t even wanna know.”

“Then you shouldn’t have asked.”

Cam glared. Vala grinned.

“So Daniel, will you join us or stay here and be boring?”

“Why do I feel like I’m gonna regret this.”


                                                       * * * *
A couple hours later, Cam stood in the docking bay watching as Vala and Teal’c got ready next to the rest of the group that was heading to the planet. With their leather and various weaponry, they looked more proficient and apt than half of the crew, most that were army trained. Next to Vala, Sam was getting ready as well, and even in her own leather ensemble, she looked more like a scientist playing dress up than an able member of their notorious crew. It was obvious that Vala and Teal’c were not amateurs in the ways of combat or anything else.

Cam didn't know if he thought that was a good thing or not.

They were good fighters and smart, he had been witness to that first hand. And that’s exactly why he still wasn’t sure if they should be trusting them - they were good, maybe too good.

But Daniel, Sam and even Jack seemed to like them (the former two seemed to even trust them), and well, majority ruled, but Cam still chose to be wary of their new partners.

“Everybody ready?” He asked the room.

“Ready, sir.” Evans announced.

Ferretti came up to him and in a low voice asked, “You sure about those two joining us?”

Cam once again looked at Vala and the Ja— Teal’c. “Nope, but Jack cleared them to go down with us and Sam and Daniel are tagging along with them too.”

“Yea, but Sam and Daniel actually come in handy sometimes, what are those two gonna help out with. Fear and mistrust?”

Cam sighed. “Look, I feel you man. But hey, captain’s orders, and if Vala hadn’t convinced Sam to go down today, we’d have to bring down Bill again.”

“So this is the lesser of two evils?” Ferretti gave a look.

Cam laughed. “More or less.”

“Hell of a choice.”

“Tell me about it. Just make sure they don’t cause too much trouble for us.”

“Yes, sir.” Ferretti saluted.

Cam rolled his eyes, “Just make sure all the equipment on the Atlas is ready.” As Lou walked away Cam went over to Daniel. He had just slipped his back holster on, and was slipping the guns into their places.

“Ready?” Cam handed Daniel his jacket.

“Yeah, thanks.”

“So the princess and the tank?”

Daniel chuckled. “Their fine, Cam. Don't worry so much. And remember we have these planet locations because of them.”

“Oh, I know. But are you sure them coming down to the planet is a good idea?”

“About as good an idea as when you wanted to run the engine room when Sam was sick…” Daniel smirked at Cam.

“Oh, come on! When are you going to let that go? And if you remember, that ended up being a bad idea.”

“Yeah, but we didn’t know it at the time.” Daniel then looked at Cam and clasped his friend’s shoulder. “They’re smart and know their way around naquahdah. They might come in handy.”

“Yeah, I guess, but isn't that why we have Sam?”

Daniel laughed. “Even SuperSam needs a break. Relax, Cam. It’s gonna be fine.”

Cam just gave Daniel a look. “You know you just jinxed us, right?”

“I’ll take full responsibility if anything goes wrong.”

“Even if your girlfriend causes it…” Cam smirked, he might not trust the woman, but that didn't mean he was blind.

Groaning, Daniel rolled his eyes. “What is it with you and Jack… she’s not my girlfriend. She’s more like the pain in my ass. We’re not even working on the texts like we should because she wanted a “break”. How irresponsible is that? It’s like she doesn't even care. Like this doesn’t mean anything to her…” Daniel turned his stare to the woman in question across the room. She was talking to Sam and Teal'c, she still looked pale but excited, it bugged him as much as it appeased him. He hoped she was feeling better that she looked.

Cam chuckled both inwardly and outwardly, he looked from his friend to Vala. Daniel looked half worried, half annoyed, and Vala looked exhausted. Damn, even after seven years of traveling the galaxy and the various women that threw themselves at him, Daniel was still clueless when it came to his feelings and the ladies.

“Relax there, Sunshine. No need to get your panties in a twist. If you’re so anxious to get on these texts, I’m sure you can convince her to stay on board.” And her friend, but Cam didn’t say that last part out loud.

Daniel looked back at Vala. She looked tired, and going down to the planet might not be the best thing if she felt bad, but… He watched as she checked her gun, her eyes excited about getting of the ship.

“Don’t call me Sunshine. And I don’t think so; she and Sam have been wanting to check the naquahdah mines anyway. They’ve been working on the device non-stop, they need a break.”

Double damn, Cam guessed he wasn’t getting out of having their new partners from joining them today.

“Hey, everybody ready to go?” They all heard from the door where Jack stood, arms crossed, giving them all a look. It was a look that Cam knew, as captain of the ship his duty was here, but sometimes he missed being in the fray.

“Looks like. You sure you don't wanna suit up and join us? I might need a hand handling the litter.” Cam said, waving a hand over group.

“Did he just call us troublemakers?” Vala asked Sam, looking scandalized.

“I think he did, of course, he’s conveniently forgetting who had the entire ship floating in Zero-G for almost five hours.”

“Hey, come on! We decided that we would only reference that slip-up once a month and Daniel already used it!”

Sam looked at Daniel. “Really?”

“Yep, just now actually.” Daniel nodded.

“Damn,” Put out, Sam frowned, then brightened. “Well how about the time when you got handcuffed to Aryen, in your shorts.”

“Ooh, do tell!” Both women shared a look that said they’d be talking later.

“Nope, no telling!” Cam exclaimed, this whole Sam and Vala friendship thing was getting dangerous. He turned to his brother in law, “You sure you don’t want to join us?”

“Oh no, I wouldn’t want to intrude on this merry outing.” Smirking, Jack came over and patted Cam on the shoulder. “You okay?”


“Don’t worry about those two so much. So far they need us, so I don’t think they’ll be causing too much trouble.”

“Right. Need us, why doesn’t that that make me feel better.”

“Because you’re worrying. That’s my job. Like you always tell me, ‘Chill out’.”

“Chill out, right.” Cam looked over to the group. Vala was smiling at Daniel, Sam was talking with Lou, and Teal’c was standing stoically waiting for the mission to start. He had to admit in the last two weeks they hadn't done anything, but be helpful. Some of the crew had even mention that Teal’c had some good moves from what they had seen in the gym. Chill. He could do that. He was all about the chill.

“Good, now look over the kids and radio me when everything is checked out.”

“Will do.”

                                                                                                              * * * *
On the ground heavy breezes drifted through the arid air, and the sun hung pregnant in the sky. The planet was hot, but that came as no surprise. The Goa’uld always seemed to prefer the warmer desert planets. Scientist had proven something about how the warmer weather affected the naquahdah in a specific way, making samples of better quality. There were also theories of the Goa’uld’s hatred of water, seeing as they made many of their homes on planet with as little of it as possible.

The Atlas landed a couple miles away from where the mine was said to be. There had been life signs on the planet, but nobody knew what to expect. They would scout and then return with the equipment if the locals proved to be friendly, or if they were really lucky, if the locals didn’t care about the mine at all. Walking out of the Atlas, Vala sighed as the desert air hit her body. Looking over to Cam and the rest of the crew that had joined them she rolled her eyes. They were cute, all protective and mistrusting. She felt like pulling her gun on them, just to see how they reacted, but she had a feeling that Daniel and Sam wouldn’t find it as funny as Teal’c would. On second thought, she doubted Teal’c would find it funny as well.

Stretching, she turned towards the group, “Well, shall we?”

“Not so fast, princess. We need to get our plan together.”

“Plan, what plan? We go, we see, we test, we wave your lovely planet, and we’re off.”

“Actually, it’s a bit more complicated than that.” Sam stated. “Considering we detected life signs we need to make contact with them, and see if they’re using the mine. If they are, we need to strike a deal. So for now all the equipment stays here on the Atlas.”

“Well, that’s just boring. Plus, politics aren’t my thing.”

Daniel snorted. “I’m not surprised.”

“Hey, what’s that supposed to mean?” Vala huffed.

“That I doubt you do much asking when you pirate things.”

Putting her hands on hips, Vala grinned at Daniel. “Only when people give me an answer that I don’t like.”

“Like, ‘no’ or ‘you can’t have it’?”

Vala nodded. “Exactly. Such a nasty words. So negative.”

“I bet.”

“Well, I wouldn’t worry too much about the politics. Since you’re not an actual member of the crew, you won’t be part of the deal-making process. Now if we’re all ready, let head out. According to the data we gathered, this planet is going to get hotter, so I wanna get this over with before we all melt.” Cam shed his jacket, and began to head out. They had about a two-mile walk to the mine.

As they walked Cam and Teal’c were out front, with Ferretti and Evans covering their six. Sam was already typing away in her data and Vala kept her attention divided between the blonde, and the group. Evans was still young, and responded well to some of her more salacious comments. Ferretti was harder, but not so bad. He just rolled his eyes and did his job. No fun. Daniel was currently being a spoilsport about the texts so he was no fun either. That left Cam and Teal’c. Smiling she walked straight up between the two men, and looped an arm around each other theirs.

“Hello, boys.”

Cam tried to shake her off, but she just gripped tighter. “What do you want?”

Vala grinned wide. “Want? I want for nothing, just a chat.”

“Why don't I believe you?” Cam asked, tilting his head towards her, but he also stopped trying to shake her off.

Vala titled her head back, “I don’t know, why don’t you? It’s not like I’m being not dishonest with you, honestly.”

“Wha… Oh, clever.”

Vala was all smiles. “So Commander Cam, how’s your staff fighting?”

“Staff fighting?”

Vala ignored the look Teal’c gave to her. “Yes, staff fighting, it’s what all your crew have been losing their money in the last few weeks. Teal’c great, he’s been teaching me for years, he a horrible teacher, but a great fighter. Your crew keeps on thinking they’ll beat him. I’ve been getting richer every day. So I ask again, how’s you’re staff fighting?”

Cam gave the woman next to him a look. Crazy chick, but he decided to answer anyway, “I’ve never really tried it. I prefer a hand to hand.”

“Admirable, Commander Mitchell. But having knowledge of all weaponry is valuable to have, for one never knows what will come up in combat.”

Cam gave Teal’s a look before he nodded, “I guess you have a point there, big fella.”

“Well, maybe when we get back on the ship Teal’c here can teach you, I’m sure the crew will love it.”

Squinting at the woman, Cam smirked. “Why do I get the feeling you’re just suggesting that because of how big the betting pool with get?”

“I’m shocked you would imply such a thing, but since you’re asking, the crew has been asking about what a face-off will between the two of you would be like.”

“Vala Mal Duran, it is wrong to try and take advantage of the Prometheus’s crew in such a way. And as Commander Mitchell has said, he is not experienced in the ways of staff fighting; I would have an unfair advantage if I were to engage in combat with him now.”

“Yeah, what he said.”

Vala sighed, “Oh, you two, why did you think I mentioned lessons? Muscles, you teach him and when you think he’s good enough not to face plant, you fight. Anticipation is key.”

“I see.” Teal’c gave her a long sideways look.

“You’re sneaky.”

“I try, so Cameron, what’s you’re favorite color?”

Cam looked at Vala. His favorite color? Was she seriously asking that? “Are you serious?”

Okay… He looked at Vala then at Teal’c, on the other side of her. He seemed to be waiting for the answer too.

“Oh, I don’t know, green I guess.”

Vala looked at Teal’c and they both nodded. But said nothing.


“So, what?”

“What does it mean that my favorite color is green?”

Vala looked at Cam and smiled. “Nothing, Cameron, we just know you a little better than we did before. And I suddenly understand this hat you insisted upon wearing.”

“You two are very weird.” Cam commented. “So Vala, what’s your favorite color?”

“Why, Cameron, such a personal question. I don't think I know you well enough to answer it.” Vala giggled, letting go of their arms and walked back to Sam.

“Okay, she’s very weird.”

Teal’c nodded, but his eyes followed Vala. She was giddy, maybe too giddy considering her earlier behavior. He tried not to worry about her. “Vala Mal Duran is rather unique. The mine, Commander Mitchell.”

Cam looked up ahead and saw that yes, there was the mine. He couldn't tell that well from here, but it didn’t look occupied. Maybe this would be lucky number 6 too.

“Nice, that’s what I like to see. Everybody,” Cam started, turning back to the group. “The mine’s up ahead. Now I want every body to be on guard. Ferretti, see anything?”

Ferretti looked through his binoculars and shook his head. “Looks clear, but it looks like somebody has been using it, there are some crates by the entrance.”



“Okay, then. Like I said, everybody be on guard, just because we can’t see anybody, doesn't mean they can’t see us.”

Everybody nodded. Teal’c straightened, there wasn’t anybody near by at the moment, but that didn't mean they wouldn’t come soon. The group began to move forward. When they reached the mine they all fanned out. Teal’c took position near the entrance, while Sam entered with Evans and Vala, and the three started take readings. Cam, Daniel and Ferretti looked around, seeing if they could find any hint on the people that were using the mine.

“So Sam? What’s the verdict?”

Sam smiled. “Looks good, I’m getting some great readings. Camulus was a clever one; the readings I’m getting tell me that if processed properly this could give some good quality weapons grade naquahdah.”

“Awesome. Now let’s see if we can find the locals and see how they feel about setting up trade.”

As the group talked and planned what was going to be said, they looked deeper into the entrance of the mine. There were definitely mining supplies, and even a few crates. Nobody noticed the approaching figures

Except Teal’c. “We seem to be receiving company.” Daniel and Cam began stepping forward to greet to the locals.

“Jaffa! Kree!”

They heard one second before the jaffa fired. Evans pushed Vala and Sam out of the blasts way and the group had no other choice but to grab some cover near the entrance of the mine. Staff blast struck a wall near where Cam and Teal’c were standing. They dropped to the ground. Daniel and Ferretti moved to flank their friends.

“Damn it! Jackson, I told you, you jinxed us!” Cam moved to find cover, firing his gun all the while.

“Like this is my fault!” Running to find cover of his own, Daniel twisted his body and pointed his gun behind him, he began shooting towards where the staff blast originated form. The Jaffa took cover quickly by one of the partitions near the entrance.

“That doesn’t sound like taking full responsibility!” Cam shot behind Teal’c, catching a Jaffa in the leg.

“Cam!” Sam yelled, as she and Evans moved behind a couple pillars, the rest managing to use some of the crates, and ramparts in the mine. Daniel, Vala and Ferretti began shooting to provide cover to Cam as he moved into position behind a crate. A staff blast barely missed him as Teal’c pushed him out of the way, then took his own position behind a pillar. Shooting at their attackers the group tried to gain some advantage, but the entrance of the mine was not the ideal fighting ground, and they were all too aware of the naquahdah crates that surrounded them. Some empty, some not. But they knew that taking the fight further into the mine was not an option here either, they needed to head back out, unfortunately that would put them at a disadvantage as well, as they had no clue how many more Jaffa waited for them.

Struck with an idea, Cam signaled to Sam and Evans, who nodded, and moved into position to cover him. Cam would try to gain some ground. Behind them Ferretti, Daniel and Vala were trying to target as many of the Jaffa blocking the entrance. So far it looked to be a group of no more than ten. And it was obvious that the Jaffa firing knew exactly which crates were empty or not, because right then the crate next to Vala exploded, forcing her away from her position. Landing roughly face down on the ground, she watched as Cam moved. He managed to shoot one Jaffa, while Teal’c, used the same opportunity that Cam had taken, and shot the one behind his fallen partner. As the Jaffa fell Vala noticed their tattoos. Their different tattoos.

Fuck. Cursing in several languages she scrambled to get up. Fucking hell. These were Jaffa rebels. This was not good.

“Duck!” Vala dropped to the ground as a staff blast hit right where her head would have been. Making her way to some cover she yelled out to Teal’c, “Muscles! They’re rebels! You gotta stop shooting!”

“What? Are you kidding! They stared this shit!” Cam yelled back at her, shooting he managed in to hit an oncoming Jaffa in the leg.

“Are you sure?” Daniel shouted over the gunfire and staff blast.

Vala rolled her eyes. Of course they’d doubt her… “Of course I’m sure! Muscles! Announce yourself!”

“And what good is that gonna do princess?”

“Oh! Shut it, Cameron! Trust me, just let me and Muscles do our thing!”

Managing to get close enough to Teal’c, Vala gave her friend an encouraging look. He nodded, and she hoped they could pull this off.

“Commander Mitchell, stop shooting.”

Cam gave them both a considering look and sighed – they better be right, “Ferretti, Evans you heard the man.” Both crewmembers looked at their commanding officer and the gunfire stopped, but the staff blast didn’t.

Teal’c’s booming voice broke through the air.

“Jaffa! Halt!”

Vala peeked around the corner and saw as the Jaffa by the entrance gave each other questioning looks, they were clearly confused.

“Who are you?”

Vala heard Cam mutter, “Oh, now they ask…”

“I am Teal’c of Chulak. Former first prime of Apophis, first Shol’va to false gods.”

At Teal’c’s words the Jaffa seemed to freeze. And they weren’t the only ones. The rest of the group seemed to stop and just looked at Teal’c. They all knew what being Shol’va meant, and they had all heard that seven years ago the Jaffa rebellion started because of one Jaffa who openly defied his “god”. But Teal’c?

“Show yourself! If you are truly are who you say you are.” It was obvious that these Jaffa were not the most trusting of people. Teal’c shared a look with and both nodded before they moved into the open, arms up and weapons down.

As soon as the two friends moved into the light the Jaffa lowered their weapons in awe. This was Teal’c of Chulak.

“Master Teal’c, we did not know.” They bowed their heads, “We saw these human intruders enter the mine and we are under strict orders to not allow anyone but Jaffa access.”

“I am sure who ever gave your order did not mean for you to kill, without fair incentive. These could have been lost travelers seeking refugee. Attacking in such a way has no honor.” Teal’c words cut the air and the Jaffa all hung their head in shame.

“We apologize. This planet is understood to be secret, we have had reason to suspect that whoever came here would be up to malicious actions.”

“I see. And what is your reason for such thoughts?” Behind Teal’c, Vala signaled for the rest to start coming out of their concealed locations. They did, but still held their weapons ready; Cam wasn’t going to take any chances.

“This used to one of the false god Camulus’s secret mines. After his death the Jaffa stationed here came to the rebellion with the planet’s location.”

Teal’c nodded. “I see, my brothers. My companions and I had also heard of Camulus’s mine and thought it to be abandoned. We, like you, came here to see if we could utilize the naquahdah he left behind. My partners have a lucrative business in naquahdah trading. If we may speak to who is in charge of this mine, I believe we might come up with a fruitful partnership.”

“You would need to speak to Tahmoh and then to Master Bra’tac on Dakarra. He has been put in charge of all trade agreements with non-Jaffa. “

Teal’c glanced at Vala, who shared his smile, then at the rest of the humans, who looked something between astounded and confused. “Commander Mitchell, we are among friends, but we will need to speak to the leader of Jaffa rebellion if we wish to use this naquahdah mine.”

“Why?” Trading with the Jaffa wasn’t on his list of things to do.

Vala sighed. “Because, Cam, this is their mine, just like the former slaves took over the other mines, they have possession of this one. You struck deals with the humans on the other planets, why not here too?” She raised an eyebrow, daring him to argue.

“Fine, but this time you’re telling Jack. Jackson, get to work.” Cam waved Daniel forward.

“Huh… What?”

“Well, aren’t you the diplomat here?”

Daniel just stared at Cam, but was saved from answering by Teal’c.

“Do not worry, Commander Mitchell, Daniel Jackson will not have to delegate. Myself and Vala Mal Duran happen to know the leader of rebellion very well, it is better that we handle this.”

“You do?”




CHAPTER VII:  Fences Made of Stone


The walk to the gate to contact Jack was short but tense.


After contacting and explaining the situation on the planet, their captain hadn’t wanted them to strike a deal with the Jaffa without being present, so he had ringed down near the camp the Jaffa had on the planet and ordered Ferretti and Evan to stay with the Atlas. The camp was a short ways from the mine’s entrance, where their little skirmish had occurred, and was run by a Jaffa named Tahmoh. Teal’c knew him, and apparently did not seem to like him much – something that did not make anyone else feel at ease.


Right now, Teal’c was standing still near the main tent of the camp, Vala next to him; she had stopped smiling, standing straight with her arms crossed. They reminded the rest of the group of how they had been when they had first met them. Calm. Cool. Collected. Shrewd. And ready for anything. Which meant they needed to be ready for anything.


Currently, they were sitting and waiting, impatiently at that, by the Gate for word from Dakarra. Due to the Jaffa way and the secrecy the rebellion had to keep, they had to be announced and granted consent from the planet before they could go through the gate. Teal’c and Vala were used to it. The others, not so much.


Vala sighed heavily, leaned by a post near Teal’c. “What do think is taking so long? Bra’tac would have let us through the minute he heard it was us.”


“Yes, he would have, Tahmoh must have mentioned our companions.”


“He still would have let us through.”


“Unless, one of the other high members of the council has objected to them.”


“Great,” Vala sighed and leaned against the tent’s post, “you know I think this is why the Jaffa have such a bad reputation, you lot are just not willing to make new friends.”


Teal’c raised an eyebrow at Vala. “Samantha Carter’s unique situation might have worked against us as well.”


“I don’t know why, we explained it to them…”


“Vala Mal Duran, you know well, how strained Jaffa and Tok’ra relations have been for many centuries.”


“Yes, but Sam’s not even Tok’ra, she just inherited the naquahdah from her mother. She’s half Tok’ra; she doesn’t even have a snake in her head or stomach, unlike some people. No offence.” Vala exhale noisily. She was not known for her patience, and this was just getting ridiculous. Looking over to the rest of their group, she noticed they were as unhappy as she was. Apparently patience was not one of Jack’s virtue either, nor Cam’s for that matter. She wondered how many more times he could check his clip before turning his gun on all of them. Hiding a smile she couldn’t help think, poor Sam and Daniel.


“None taken my friend.”


Suddenly a thought popped into her head. “So… do you think Ishta, will be on Dakarra today?” Vala grinned, leaning against her friend’s arm. She might as well get in some good gossip…


Teal’c gave her the ‘I don’t want to raise my eyebrow at you’ look.


“Oh come on, don’t you find it a little odd, that when ever we go to visit, she’s always there?”


“We both have high ranking positions in the rebellion. As leaders, we go when we are called to discuss new developments.”


Vala smiled softly. “Still, whenever she’s there, I’m always left to find my own means of entertainment seeing how you are always ‘called’ as you say. I’m beginning to think you like her better than me.” Mock pouting, Vala tapped her chin playfully.


The Jaffa around them kept staring at her and Teal’c, she knew they were slightly famous in some circles, but it always made her edgy being around people who thought of her as a hero or whatnot. It called for unwanted attention. Men that wanted her for body and various talents she could handle. Men who wanted miracles out of her made her nervous. Miracle workers had no privacy, and her survival depended on people not knowing who she was.


“I would not say I like her better, but Ishta is quieter company. That, indeed is…refreshing.” Teal’c smirked, and Vala smacked his arm, before gripping it. Taking a breath she blinked and put a hand to her head. She was still too tired and the growing warmth of the planet was making her sluggish. Normally it would be the opposite, but she had been functioning on too little sleep these last few weeks. She needed to sit.

“Vala Mal Duran, are you okay?” Teal’c put a hand on his slight friend’s shoulder.


“Yeah, fine, just wishing they would get a move on. I’m gonna go sit with the pouty ones.”


“Very well.” Teal’c looked over his young friend. His suspicions about her health increasing.


Walking over to where the Lantean group had situated themselves, a good ten feet from the nearest Jaffa, which oddly enough was Teal’c, Vala plopped herself on Daniel’s lap, where he sat on a boulder.


“Hullo, darling.”


“Vala,” Daniel just gripped her waist and lifted her off him, right onto the boulder next to him.


“So what’s the deal? I thought you said you knew this guy.” Jack asked.


Leaning against Daniel, who didn’t even try to shrug her off, Vala answered, “We do, and he would let us through in a minute, but since we’re bringing you lot, things get a bit more complicated. I’m sure there are about two to three other rebellion leaders trying to convince him to send us packing, or at least to refuse you all.”


“Leaders? I thought you said you knew the leader, as in one?”


“Well, he is the leader, but like most large groups, they have their own factions dealing with certain areas that then report to the main person. He’ll let us through; he just has to convince the others not to shoot you. The Jaffa rebellion is built on the sole fact that they have kept secret that Dakarra is its headquarters from the Goa’uld. The fact that it is me and Teal’c vouching for you says a lot, but still…”


“Yea, about that, what’s with you and Teal’c? Because when our buddies back at the mine heard his name it was is they had been told a real life god had just graced them with his presence.”


Vala looked at Cam and then at her friend, who stood unmoving waiting for news from Dakarra. The group all noticed how her eyes went soft and a sad, before she turned towards them, her smile equally soft and sad. “He’s kind of a big deal among the Jaffa, I’m only known among them because I, well, I tag along with him, or him with me, we’ve never really cleared that up.” Shifting against Daniel and leaning her arms back on the boulder, she stare up at the sky, “It not exactly true that he started the rebellion, but it’s not not true either. It’s complicated, and not my story to tell. Just know the Jaffa owe a lot to him.” She turned her gaze back on them and shrugged.


The group nodded. Cam looked between Vala and Teal’c again, “So how much is a lot? A lot or a lot a lot?”


“A lot a lot.” Vala smiled at the young commander, she had been right, overprotective puppy that had just found an interesting and equally overprotective friend.


Just as Cam was about to quip back, the gate dialed in. Tahmoh walked through and looked at Teal’c, it was obvious that he had lost his argument. “Teal’c, you and your partners can now head to Dakarra. You have been cleared.” He said the last words with particular malice and all of it pointed towards Sam. Sam for her part just stood straighter and let nothing show. Jack placed his hand on her shoulder, while Cam stared daggers at Tahmoh.


“Very well, we will leave now.” Teal’c said, he voice calm, but full of warning.


The group of six stepped through the engaged wormhole. The shimmering blue circle of the vertical event horizon took in their figures and together they were transferred across the stars.


                                                       * * * *

About two hundred feet from where the wormhole disengaged stood the temple of Dakarra. Large and looming, it was a grand structure that was constructed in connection to its surrounding mountain, overtaking the scenery around it. It was said to be the birthplace of Anubis; birthplace to the Goa’uld. Vala never looked to correct the misconception, because as long as the Jaffa held Dakarra, then it was safe. To let out of the secret of the temple was dangerous and not for anyone to corrupt. By the steps of the Gate stood their Jaffa greeting party.


“Greetings, Master Teal’c. Vala Mal Duran.”


“Greetings, Rak’nor.”


“Hello there.”


“Master Bra’tac has sent me to take you and your guests to the temple, where your proposition will be discussed.” Rak’nor stated as he began leading the group to the temple. Teal’c walked next to the younger Jaffa male.


“Guests?” Cam scoffed, crossing his arms. “We’re the deal brokers here.” The only responses he got were several looks and raised eyebrows. Rac’nok looked at Teal’c and received a heavy nod indicating that they were ready to move.


Rak’nor was one of Teal’c’s most trusted Jaffa brethren. He had joined the rebellion after Chronos had killed his father for openly defiling his name. Teal’c and Bra’tac had brought him into the fold and he was now a respected member of the rebellion. As they walked, he and Teal’c discussed the new reports that they had been receiving throughout the galaxy. News about the System Lords, or at least the ones that still remained after almost ten years of being at war with Anubis. Ba’al was moving his fleet and Yu was looking to engage Anubis in retaliation for taking his territory. There was talk about Yu conspiring with Osiris, but most found that unbelievable since Osiris was known for being Anubis’s right hand. There was also news that Anubis was in a rage over an escaped prisoner, but no one knew who the prisoner was. Though the biggest news was that Kheb finally fell.


Anubis had taken Kheb.


No one had thought Anubis would have the gall to seize the planet, which was said to be protected by the First Ones. For the Jaffa and many others in the galaxy, Kheb had been considered a holy place, and so for the news that Anubis had finally taken it over, broke many spirits.


As the group heard this, they couldn’t help but not be surprised. Vala and Daniel had already suspected that something terrible had occurred on the planet, now they just knew what it was.


Vala let the words wash over her. Kheb. The last true remnant of her people’s legacy in the galaxy was now gone, taken by a monster, an abomination in the rules of the planes of existence. He shouldn’t be, but he was. She suddenly wanted to rush back to the ship and finish the machine. Anubis. His time was ending – she promised herself.


Daniel noticed the change in Vala’s demeanour as soon as the words about Kheb and Anubis were said. She had stiffened for a second before she had continued her walk. Her silver eyes had gone steely, and he fought not to reach out to her. He remembered Kheb, a planet blanketed by stars. He remembered Oma, Oma who had taught him so much and so little. He had promised he’d go back, but never had. Now the planet was under Anubis’ twisted hand, and he mourned it.

A smooth and aged voice broke through their thoughts. “Teal’c, Vala Mal Duran. It is good to see you. I trust this time you bring good tidings.”


Bra’tac of Chulak stood at the entrance of the temple. A shorter man than Teal’c, but equally as strong and respected among his people. His brown eyes held the knowledge and wisdom of many years of battle and life. His robes hid the aged body of a warrior, and despite that everybody could tell this was a man that could handle himself. He eyed Jack, Cam, Daniel and Sam; his eyes lingering on the last.


“We do, old friend.” Teal’c said, bowing his head in respect.


“Good, then lets us speak in a more private arena.” Bra’tac’s eyes scanned the surrounding area, and Jack could clearly see the warrior, the soldier, in the man.

“Good idea.” Vala agreed and the group followed Bra’tac and Rak’nor into the temple.


The temple was large and dusty. Corridors extended underground in twisting mazes, the group made its way towards one of the private chambers near the back. Inside, Bra’tac instructed Rak’nor to go and see if the other rebel leaders were ready for them. After Rak’nor left, Bra’tac turned to his company and spoke, “Teal’c, Vala Mal Duran, I am truly glad to see you both well, but why have I not heard of this new company you have joined? It would have been better for this situation for me to be informed of this new development beforehand.”


Teal’c and Vala looked at each other and then at the Prometheus crew. “Old friend, we are sorry, but this partnership has been a new development for us as well. We had not thought that we would have encountered Jaffa so soon, and that is why we have not informed you.”


“It is alright, I had not thought you had kept this from in mal intent. But the council is nervous about these newcomers,” Bra’tac paused and turned to look at Sam, “especially the Tok’ra child.”


Sam didn't shrink back under the older man’s gaze but stood silent. This wasn’t anything new to her. Jaffas, humans, even Tok’ras all had poor reactions to her and her parentage. She hated it, but had had lifetime to deal with it.


“Hey, you know, if I wanted want to build a good trade agreement, I’d stop belittling one of the main members of the opposing side.” Jack exclaimed, Sam was tough and had dealt with this prejudice for her whole life, but that didn't mean he had to stand and watch people demean her in front of him.


But Bra’tac didn’t even look remiss he just nodded and continued. “I agree, but unlike myself, the other members of the council will not see the situation as I do. They will use that fact as an arguing point to not allow for trade. You must be ready for it.”


Vala nodded. “Anything else we need to know?”


“They will ask as to how you knew the planet’s location, and just who your new allies represent. As would I.” Bra’tac eyed the new humans his pupil and partner had brought, curiously amused. The one with the grey hair seemed to hold an air of both leadership and nonchalance at the same time. It reminded him of Vala when he had first met her, which told him the man was sharper than he let on.


Vala smirked. “Oh, right sorry.” She turned and with a flourish began introductions, “Master Bra’tac of Chulak, let me introduce you to the captain, commander, head engineer and… uh… the historian, double doctorate, multi-lingual co-owner of the Lantean ship the Prometheus. Captain Jack O’Neill, Commander Cameron Mitchell, Dr. Samantha Carter, and Dr. Daniel Jackson.” Bra’tac nodded and smiled. “Guys, this is Master Bra’tac of Chulak, also a former First Prime of Apophis and leader of the Jaffa rebellion.”


The group nodded as well.


“Nice to meet you.” Daniel extended.


“Likewise, Dr. Daniel Jackson.” Bra’tac responded.


“Oh, there’s no need for the Doctor, it’s just a title, you don't have to call me by it.”


Bra’tac just gave Daniel a look, and the group suddenly knew where Teal’c got that look from. Daniel smiled awkwardly, “Unless, you know, you want too.”


Smiling, Bra’tac bowed his head, “It is alright, Daniel Jackson. Though I must say that hearing you are from Lantea has assuaged some of my worry. We Jaffa already have good relations with your planet.”


Now it was Vala turn to be surprised. “You do?!” The Prometheus crew just glanced at each other. Lantea did have a treaty with the Jaffa, but that wasn’t their area. In fact the crew tired not to enter that area at all.


“Indeed, my young friend. Lantea has been an ally of the Jaffa for several years, in fact it was only a few months ago that the Lantean representative for the Jaffa, George Hammond of Texra, came to us with an alternative to our reliance on symbiotes.”


At Bra’tac words, Vala and Teal’c eyebrows rose in surprise, while the rest of the room’s occupants shared furtive looks. When they had presented Hammond with the Tertonin alternative to symbiotes months ago they knew it would eventually reach the Jaffa rebellion, they just never thought they would be meeting with its leader.


Bringing the conversation back to the topic at hand, Jack asked, “So now that you know who we are, does that mean everything is copasetic?”


“Not quite, Captain O’Neill, the fact that you are from Lantea does mean that the council will be willing to trade, but they will still be curious as to how you knew where the planet was. The Jaffa that came to us with the planet’s information was one of Camulus’ highest ranking Jaffa, and he assured us that this planet location was secret.”


Vala decided to take the lead here. “Jack, if I may?” Waving her to continue, Jack stepped to the side. Vala and Teal’c had standing here and he didn’t mind them helping the situation along.


“Well, it was Teal’c and I that got the information. It was a job we were hired to do, but due to unforeseen circumstances, our benefactor was not able to procure his item.”


“I see.” Bra’tac said, letting the words hang in the air. Teal’c knew that his old teacher did not fully approve of his lifestyle, but Teal’c was not ready to join the rebellion in the capacity that Bra’tac wanted him too. He and Vala had their reasons for living the way they did.


“Um, yes,” Vala glanced between Teal’c and Bra’tac, “well the item ended up being a data disc with the locations to all the secret naquahdah that Camulus had all over the galaxy, and when we joined with the this team, we, well, traded the naquahdah locations for, I guess you can say, room and broad on their ship.”


“I see. Well that is explainable, but-”


But, Bra’tac was interrupted by Cam, “But, what? We got the information legitimately.”


“Commander Mitchell, that is indeed true, but what I believe Bra’tac was about to say, is that the council will be interested in the other locations that we acquired from the disc. Am I right?”


“You are indeed. The Jaffa was only able to give us two the locations of Camulus’ hidden mines, but we suspected there too be more.”

“And now they’ll want to know the others.” Sam added.


“Precisely, Dr. Samantha Carter.”


“Samantha, please.”


Bra’tac nodded.


“But what if we just don’t tell them about the other mines.” Cam suggested.


“You know, I kinda like that idea.” Jack agreed.


“I am sorry, Captain O’Neill, but I will not keep this from my brothers. We too, are in great need of naquahdah. We must reach an agreement on how to divide the planets before we meet with the council, or they will try to usurp us. There are members of the council that, while they are willing to trade, they would prefer to do certain things in regards to their own agenda.”


“Well, no offence, Master, but it doesn’t seem like you have a tight grip on your rebellion here.”


“Jack!” Daniel exclaimed.


“What, I’m not going to apologize. If his buddies here are going to try and screw us then I’d rather not trade at all.”


Daniel rolled his eyes at Jack and turned to Bra’tac. “I’m sorry, Master Bra’tac, but my friend here is just being cautious over this deal, we’ve never dealt directly with the Jaffa before.”


“I am not offended, Daniel Jackson, I am quite aware of the situation among my brothers. For many centuries the Jaffa have been at war with each other due to the acts of the false gods that enslaved us. Many are still trying to find common ground between ourselves, but your captain is right.”


“He is?”


“I am?”


“Yes, because of the fragile alliances in the rebellion itself, it is imperative that we reach a decision before we meet with the council. As a united front we will have a better chance of getting what we want out of this trade agreement.”


“Okay,” Jack stated, “what are you thinking?”


“If we agree to allow trade on this planet, they will ask for at least half the planets on the list.”


“What? No way!”


Bra’tac raised an amused eyebrow at the young commander, “Way, indeed. They will also ask to speak to a Lantean dignitary in charge of trade, and will ask of weaponry and technological support from your planet.”


“But according to the Jaffa/Lantean Treaty, you already receive support from us.” Daniel pointed out.


“And you also receive hyperdrive technology from us. I, personally, have configured our interstellar drives to operate with Mother ships, and Ha’taks.” Sam added.

“That is true, but now that you seem to have a greater need for us, the council will try to increase the support we receive. Honestly, I cannot say I fully disagree with it. In the past months things have grown dire in many parts of the galaxy.”


“You know, this is precisely why I detest politics, too much wielding and double-dealing.” Vala said, walking over to one of the chairs, grabbing an apple of the desk along the way. Sitting on the chair then resting her feet on the chair across, she begun to munch on her apple.


“Really? I would have thought you’d love that aspect, it seems right up your ally.” Daniel smiled sarcastically towards Vala. She just stared back, and stuck out her tongue.


“You would think that, but the truth is, Daniel, I am much to honest for your world of political hoo-hah.” She stated, and Daniel hated to admit she was probably right. Sure, Vala knew how con and get her way, but she had her own moral compass, as skewed as he might think it was, and from what he had seen it was not one that would lead her to compromising herself, her beliefs and most importantly the people she cared for. He had a feeling that had she not become a pirate, she would have been a decent diplomat. She had a knack for seeing past what people put out and get to their core.


“So what are we going to do? Are we going to give up half the list or what?”


“I dunno yet.”


“Not quite.”


Jack and Vala said at the same time and then stared at each other.




“Yes, Jack?” Vala smiled at the captain.


“Mind explaining?”


“Like I said, me and Teal’c acquired the list. So technically the list is ours. And what we’re going to do is divide the list in thirds. A third for you, a third for the Jaffa, and a third for us, is that satisfactory to all?” Vala looked at her partner and at his nod, she grinned brightly. “Lovely.”


“Wait, we didn’t agree.” Jack crossed his arms, eyeing the woman.


“But you were about too.” She lifted her left eyebrow in defiance.




“Bra’tac, is that alright with you?”


Smiling at the young woman, he nodded. “Quite alright.”


“Good, so my part is done. The rest is up to you lot, your dignitary, and your negotiating skills.”


At that, they all heard a knock at the door. It was Rak’nor. The council was ready to meet them.


Bra’tac addressed the room, “It would be wise that only a few of us went right now. Samantha Carter, I do not wish to be discourteous, but I believe it would be best for you to remain here.” Sam nodded, understanding. “Vala Mal Doran, am I right to believe you will remain as well?”


“Oh, yeah, nobody listen to me when I go there anyway. You can handle our side, can’t you, Muscles?”


Teal’c smiled, “I will do my best.”


“Very well, then captain, if you would join us?”


“I would, but Daniel’s tagging along too, he’s better at the whole speaking and not insulting everybody in the room thing.”


“He is?” Cam quipped, taking a seat by the window. Nice, he got a break from the Jaffaness of the day.


“Well, he’s better at it than me. My insults tend to get us thrown in jail, Daniel’s are so sophisticated that they tend to go over most people’s heads, that they don't even notice they were just called idiots or jerks.”


“I don't call people idiots or jerks, I call them obtuse or uncouth, depending who they are.”


“See that! If I didn’t know any better I would think he’s calling me a triangle without any teeth, which I guess would be insulting if I was a triangle. Might wanna work on that.”


“Jack,” Stop it.


Bra’tac and Teal’c shared amused looks, while Cam, Sam, and Vala tried to stifle their chuckles.


“I see. Well then, Daniel Jackson, I take it you will be joining us?”


“It doesn’t seem like I have much of a choice.” Daniel moved from where he stood next to Vala’s chair and followed the three other men out of the room.

As soon as the door shut, Cam, Vala and Sam all looked and smiled at each other.


It would be one hell of a meeting.


                                                       * * * *

“I do not believe that this list should be divided into thirds.” A council member stated.


“I second that.” Came from another.


“And why not?!” Jack exclaimed.


Daniel rolled his eyes at his friend. “Excuse my partner, but what are your basis for this argument?”


The council member stared at Daniel with distaste. “It has come to our attention that Teal’c and his partner, are now residing in your ship with you and your crew. This would allow you and your people with an extra third of the planets – we believe that to me most unfair.”


Teal’c stood. “Yes, that is indeed true, but our residence and current partnership with the Prometheus and its crew is momentary. We have business with them, however when our business is done, if we were to do as you proposed, myself and Vala Mal Duran would be left with no part a list that is rightfully ours.” Teal’c paused, looking from Daniel and Jack to Bra’tac and the council. “However, were that to happen, we would still have rights to half of the list given to the council as per my status as councilmember.”


At that Jack and Bra’tac tried to hid their smirks and Daniel, who was still half processing his thoughts and feelings that rushed through him when Teal’c had mentioned his and Vala’s transitory time with them, had to admit it was a good move in Teal’c’s part.


“Then I motion for your partner to be given a third of the humans half, to do with as she will,” The council member stared coldly at Teal’c, “as she is also human and has no direct affiliations with the rebellion itself. You will be given access to our half, but not for you and your partner’s joint ventures.”


“I second that.”


Jack groaned.


                                                       * * * *

Hours later when Jack, Daniel and Teal’c walked back into the room, they all looked exhausted and more than a little pissed. At least Jack did. Daniel, still going over some notes that he had gathered in the meeting, just simply walked in and made his way to the thin couch on the other side of the room, where Vala had fallen asleep. Sitting, he gently moved her legs to rest on his lap, causing her to wake.


“Hmm, so how’d it go?” Vala asked sleepily, as she stretched and shifted into a sitting position, looking at the three men. “Where’s Bra’tac?”


“He is still conferring with the council, they needed to speak privately about our offer, but they felt that they should wait for an official representative of the planet.”


“We are official representatives of the planet.” Jack interrupted, leaning against the wall.


“Technically, sir, for us to reach a formal agreement both sides would need to present a written contract that would need to be signed, by both sides, especially since we are dealing with an organized faction like the Jaffa. And the amount of naquahdah we will be trading.”


Jack sighed and gave Sam a look, “Well, yeah, if want to be rational about it.”


“So, what do we do now?” Cam asked.


“We wait.” Came for Bra’tac, who stood in the doorway, stepping in he shut the door behind him and crossed the room to his desk. “The council has agreed to the deal you proposed, but they will wait for your Lantean representative to arrive before they continue negotiations.”


“We imagined as much,” Daniel said. “Have you contacted Lantea already?”


“We have and we have sent the wave you gave us as well.”


“Wait, who’d you send a massage to?” Cam looked over at Daniel.


Daniel gave what could be considered a mischievous smirk, “Well, since all trade agreements go through Elizabeth’s office, I thought it would be nice to send our hellos.”


“Nice.” Cam commented, “Who do think Lizzy will send?”


“If we’re lucky she’ll send either Bartlett or Davis, they’re the ones that know how we work the best.” All the members of the Prometheus exchanged knowing smiles. If Bartlett or Davis came it would mean less hassle and time for them on the planet.


Next to Daniel, Vala smiled and looped her arm around his waist, resting her chin on his shoulder, “Why, darling, I think I might have underestimated your talents in how do you say…creative negotiations.” Daniel turned his head and gave an amused smile.


“Well now you know better.”


“So we wait?”


“We wait.”


“Hopefully, we will receive an answer soon, but until then, you are all welcome to stay with us. Teal’c, I know of several of our Jaffa brothers that have been awaiting your return. The training grounds have not been the same without you.”


“I will see what I can do to rectify that.” Teal’c said. The rest of the group looked at each other, not all of them wanted or needed to stay. Sam and Vala were anxious to get back to work; they had had a long afternoon of brainstorming and thought they had come up a faster solution to powering the machine. Plus, this little adventure off-world had already extended longer than either of them had planned and Cam and Jack just wanted to get back to their ship.


Sam spoke up first, “Thank you, Master Bra’tac, but I have some work waiting for me back on our ship and I don’t think my presence here is much help either.”


“I understand, Samantha Carter, I am sorry if any of my brethren have made you feel unwelcome.” Bra’tac stated sincerely and apologetically to Sam, who just nodded in acceptance.


“Yes, Bra’tac, I love the offer and I would love to see Muscles here beat all the young ones to a pulp, but I too have some annoyingly time consuming work waiting back on the ship for me. Next time?” Vala added with a grin. Bra’tac nodded at the young woman with a smile.


“Yeah, I’d love to stay too, but I think I’ve away from the ship too long as it is, Walter is probably already redecorating my office, so I should go back as well. Daniel, Cam, you two can stay with Teal’c here, and wait for Davis. Make sure everything goes smoothly.”


Daniel nodded, but Cam pouted, the one time he’d rather go back to the ship than stay off world and Jack decided to be captainy. Looking at his brother-in-law, he gave a pleading look, which Jack ignored.


“Very well then, we will escort you back to the gate.” Brac’tac nodded to the group.


As Sam, Jack and Vala headed out, Jack went over to Cam, “Hey, I know you rather not stay, but I need someone here to make sure everything goes okay. You know how Daniel gets around old, dusty things - the kid in him comes out. I don’t think they’ll try to screw us, but still, just make sure everything is…”






“No problem, but you owe me.”


“Consider it done. Just no engine room.”


Groaning, Cam rolled his eyes and followed them to the Stargate. This was going to be fun.


                                                       * * * *

When Jack, Sam and Vala got back to the mining planet, they made their way to the Atlas along with Ferretti and Evans they took a small sample of naquahdah that the Jaffa allowed them and made their way back to the ship.


In the Atlas, Jack radioed Walter to let the man know they were on their way back.


“The bay is clear for you, sir, and we have also received a wave from Lantea in response to a message that Dr. Weir received. She would like to speak to you.”


“Alright, I saw that coming. And Walter?”


“Yes, sir?”


“You didn’t redecorate my office again, did you?”


“No, sir.”




Right after the Atlas shut off the transmission, Walter Harriman sighed, he was going to have to move everything back in the captain’s office to how it had been before. He shuddered when he thought about the captain’s filing system. Looking at the monitor he saw he only had about five minutes too – he rushed out of the control room. Maybe Sam would like the plant?



CHAPTER VIII:  Dusty Steps We Sit and Chat On


When Paul Davis arrived the next day, Cam and Teal’c found themselves superfluous.


The Jaffa had, after quite a bit of discussion, agreed to allow Teal’c and Vala to deal with the planets on their third of the list in whichever way they wanted. And considering Cam wasn’t needed in the negotiations, and from what he had heard he didn’t even want to be in the negotiations, he didn’t have much to do. After all, he preferred to leave the boring stuff to Daniel.


And personally, Cam had never been one for the desert planets. Too cold at night, too windy and the sand got in everywhere, even in places where you would never think sand could get into.


Teal’c apparently had some business on the training grounds, so Cam was left alone and bored. He really wanted to smack his brother-in-law one… maybe he would add broccoli to the next sauce he made, Jack hated broccoli.


Cam smiled at the thought, and then slumped on the bed in the quarters the Jaffa had given him and Daniel for the night. Planning the mental demise of his brother-in-law meant he was getting too bored for it to be healthy.


Sighing, he stood and made his way out of the room to where Daniel was. The council had decided to take a recess for a few hours – again, and Davis took the time to wave Lantea with their progress. If all went well they’d be done by tonight, Cam sure as hell hoped all went well. He followed the path that he had seen Daniel take earlier. It led to a secluded part near the back of the temple. There he found Daniel standing by a wall full of writing. Crazy, complicated writing that Cam had never seen before – he was sure Daniel was loving it.


“Hey there, Sunshine.”


Daniel lifted his head from his notes to look at Cam, “Hey, what’s up?”


“Aren't you supposed to be poring over some treaty or something?”


“Paul has it covered. Both sides are just trying to one-up the other, they’ve both basically agreed to it, they just need to say they have.”


“So we’re going home soon?” Cam asked hopefully.


“Tomorrow, the latest.”


“Sweet.” Cam rocked on his heels in glee.


“You sound like Jack.”


“He is a horrible influence, Sara used to say it all the time.” Cam smiled at the memory of his older sister.


“That he is.” Chuckling, Daniel shook his head. It wasn’t like he could argue the fact. He’d known Jack for twelve years, and in those years, all the more illicit things he had ever done were in direct result of his old mentor/partner’s husband. Sara had always joked that everything Daniel had been too sweet and innocent to do in university, Jack and Cam had taught him in those early years on Abydos. Daniel could only wonder what his dear friend would say about the things her husband and brother had taught him to do now.


“So just what are you doing?” Cam broke Daniel out his thoughts.


“This wall,” Daniel gestured, “it’s written in an ancient form of Tau’rian similar to the one on the machine. But… it’s all, well, for a lack of a better word, gibberish. Complete and utter nonsense. Words are mixed and don’t flow, it makes me almost wish Vala had stayed.”


“I bet, at least she would have been more fun here.” Cam murmured.




“What tipped you off?” The sarcasm in Cam’s voice painfully obvious.


“You’re asking about my work, and you just mentioned you’d rather have Vala here.”


“You can’t deny the woman is entertaining, and you never know, I could be interested.”


Daniel lifted his eyes from his notes and looked at Cam.


“Yeah, it sounded wrong as I said it.” Cam leaned against one of the stone pillars and watched the red clouds drift in Dakarra’s pale orange sky. Daniel looked at his friend and had to feel a little bad, Cam was a man of action, and waiting around for a treaty that was just being prolonged because of ego and pride would not be the young commander’s ideal way to spend time.


“Cam, why don’t you just go to the training grounds and see what Teal’c’s up to? You’re bound to enjoy it more than this.” Daniel suggested.


Cam just shrugged, and Daniel sighed, “Just go, Cam, go see if can you beat someone up, before you start asking me to teach you something…” Smirking at the bored man, Daniel knew he had convinced him as soon as the smile began to grow on his face.


“Now we can’t have that, can we?” Cam pushed off the wall and started to head back to where Teal’c and Bra’tac had mentioned the training ground was. “Do you really think I’ll be able to beat someone up?”


“No.” Daniel deadpanned, focused on his work, missing the finger Cam sent his way.


                                                       * * * *

Teal’c watched the young Jaffa warriors that trained on the grounds. They were young, some even too young and many did not seem to have the discipline that was needed to fight – not yet. Many were still divided, even here, a place for all free Jaffa, many still held to their old factions. But they had spirit and at least that was something.


Rac’nok was currently teaching one of the younger groups. Teal’c watched his former student proudly; he could not say the same for the others in the group. They were too impetuous, and did not appreciate the art of staff fighting, something Rac’nok would soon rectify. Even Jaffa adolescents did not differ all that much from the ones in the rest of the galaxy. His own son would have been in this age group had he still lived.


He was snapped out of his thoughts by the young commander’s voice, “Teal’c.”


Turning to Cam, he nodded. “Commander Mitchell, how may I help you?”


Cam stood by him and watched as a young student fell to the ground, Rac’nok spoke to his class both helping him up and once again overtaking the young Jaffa male.


“Ouch. So is this the staff fighting that Vala was talking about earlier?” He tilted his head as Rac’nok demonstrated a behind the back spin movement, while bending forwards bringing the staff around to strike his opponent, “Doesn’t look too hard.”


“Indeed, Commander Mitchell. Though this is a beginner’s class, the moves Rac’nok is teaching these Jaffa are the basic movements of staff fighting. But what he is really teaching them, is that the staff is only a tool, an extension of their body - their true weapon.”


“Deep stuff.”


They watched for a few more minutes as the young Jaffa trained. Looking at them, Cam hated to admit that it might not have been as easy as he thought it was. Some of the moves that these kids where using, were moves that he didn’t even know. He watched as two of the older students faced off, one swiped their staff at the other one, who ducked and moved his staff forward in a stabbing motion, the first student turned out of the way and threw a punch which was blocked. The spar went on for a few more minutes until the first student lay on the ground, staff at his stomach.


“Not bad.”


Teal’c turned to Cam, “Very true, but they are still too inexperienced. They have the skill, but none of the control. They act too much with their bodies and not enough with their heads. Te’nak could have beaten Ma’lec much earlier in the fight, but chose to execute a move that was more complicated than efficient. They will soon be trained out of that.”


“But sometimes improvisation is what makes the difference in a fight.”


“You are right, but I doubt when you improvise, Commander Mitchell, you do it too show off, or do you?” Teal’c raised an eyebrow.


Cam smirked, “Depends who I’m fighting.”


“I see.”


Glancing back at a leaving group, Cam turned back at Teal’c, “So… do you think you could teach me how to do that?”


Teal’c looked at Cam, and smirked – something Cam found slightly ominous. “I would be honored to. Follow me.” Heading down to one of the smaller training areas, Cam suddenly felt like he might have just gotten in over his head.


                                                       * * * *

Yawning, Sam stretched her sore back muscles while overlooking the energy outputs from the ZPM mechanism to the naquahdah generator.


After they had come back to the ship both women had gone straight to the lab. In their time on Darkarra they had realized they might not have to build the filtering system from scratch after all. They had already been trying to filter power from the ZPM and generator to the machine separately, all they would need is to reroute a couple of circuits to transfer precise amounts of energy from the ZPM device to the generator, effectively letting the ZPM power the generator and then hopefully letting enough filtered energy enter the machine. Because the naquahdah generator would not be using its own energy it would have a lesser chance of overloading the machine’s systems.


Both Sam and Vala had spent most of the night reconfiguring the systems for the energy transfer in the devices so that they, well, wouldn’t blow up on them. If this worked they would have to be very careful when trying to power the machine. Its power source, as they had already learned, was extremely sensitive.

“Here, Sam.” Sam turned to see Vala holding out a cup of coffee. Taking a sip, she smiled as the warm liquid smoothed down her throat.


“You know, Daniel’s gonna be ticked off when he noticed you took from his stash.” Vala just shrugged and sat, skimming over the new readings – they were still a little too high for what either woman was comfortable with. Sam figured that they’d have to close off some more circuits to narrow the energy transfer. She also had to hand it to Vala, this coffee was really hitting the spot, and even though she had lived on the same ship with Daniel for almost six years, his hiding place for the “special” coffee his grandfather sent him, was still a mystery to her.


“We’re gonna have to close off some more circuits.”


Sam nodded. “Yeah, I noticed that too, but after that it should work.”


“Will work.” Vala extended her coffee mug, also Daniel’s, Sam noticed absentmindedly, and they clinked their mugs together.


“So what are we celebrating?” Jack asked from the door. Both women turned towards the man, smiling tiredly but pleased.


“This devil machine has just met its match.”


“Ah! I never had a doubt. Well kudos to you both.” Jack looked around the room, noticing the many cups of coffee and sandwiches that were scattered over Sam’s desk and shelves. These two had been at it all night again. They both still had that slightly crazed and hazy look of accomplishment and determination. They needed sleep. Jack sighed, where was a menacing Jaffa when you needed him?


“Have you two slept?”


Again both women stared at him, but didn’t look as pleased as before.


“We took naps, we just thought it was better to work and finish this as fast as possible.” Vala defending knowing what Jack was going to bring up before he spoke another word.


“And is it finished?”


“Almost. But we’re so close…” Sam trailed off knowing what was coming out of Jack’s mouth next.


“You need to rest.”


“Jack, love, we’re fine, in fact we’re raring to go. We really are so close.” Vala pleaded their case.


“But you need rest,” Jack repeated, “Walter told me that you two have been pretty much running on coffee and sugar these last few days, even before Dakarra. And while I’m no Teal’c, and I can’t forcibly drag either of you off to bed, I’m still your captain, and I order you to rest.” Jack met Sam’s eyes, “I really don't want to start calling you Carter… but I will if you make me.” Sam sighed, she really didn’t want to argue with Jack, and she was the tiniest bit tired, maybe after a few hours of sleep wouldn’t be so bad. Vala on the other hand was poised to argue, until she met Jack’s eyes too. She looked from Sam to Jack and back again, then sighed.


“Fine, a nap does sound rather appealing.”


“Good girls.” Jack smiled. Good, at least when Cam and Daniel came back he could attest that he could handle the women by himself; he didn’t need them to delegate for him, nope. “And I want you both to head straight for bed, no pussyfooting.”


Nodding, Sam and Vala followed Jack out of the room. The three headed down the same hallways for a few minutes then Vala broke off heading to her quarters. She then stopped, waited for a couple seconds and doubled back, making sure not to run into Sam and Jack again. She made her way to the med bay.

Inside the med bay, Vala saw the young doctor speaking to her assistant, Rygel.


“Dr. Lam?”


Caro turned from the bearded man to Vala. “Vala, do you need something?” The pale-eyed woman just signaled the doctor closer. Caro excused herself from her assistant, telling him to get her the information back as soon as possible, and headed towards her patient.


“Is something wrong?”


Vala bit her lip and avoided Caro’s gaze. “No, not really, I… um… I need some sleeping pills.”


“Sleeping pills? Are you sure you’re okay? Have you been having trouble sleeping?” Going into full doctor mode, Caro went over all the reasons Vala might not have been sleeping well, when it hit her.


“Has it been getting too cold at night?”


Caro knew she had guessed correctly when Vala completely avoided her gaze, and her emotions became ashamed and despondent.


“Why haven’t you said anything?”


Vala turned to Caro, “Because it’s not that big of a deal, okay. I’ve been sleeping fine. It’s just been these last few days, Sam and I have been working all-nighters, and with all the coffee I drink, it’s difficult to get to sleep sometimes.”


Caro just looked at Vala, letting her know she wasn’t buying it.


“Look, can’t you just give me the sleeping pills?” Vala hated this fact about her, she hated being dependent, but she would never get any sleep otherwise. And she needed sleep; coffee, hot showers and short naps could only get her so far.


Caro shook her head and sighed, she wasn’t about to give Vala sleeping pills. The woman’s anatomy was already a mystery, and giving her sleeping pills that would knock her out when her body couldn't regulate her internal temperature in was not something Caro felt like doing. But Vala was a stubborn one – and Caro didn’t even have to be an empath to see that.


“How ‘bout you sleep in one of the heating beds right now? I don't want to give you sleeping pills, when you’re already over stressed and clearly just using them to knock yourself out.”


Vala looked at the shorter woman, whose brown eyes were warm but firm. She sighed; Caro just had to be a good doctor, even if she was a pushy one. “Fine, but just for today. This is not going to be an ongoing thing.”


Caro nodded and led Vala to the heating bed, programming it. As soon as Vala hit the bed, her entire body sighed and she slept.


                                                       * * * *

Daniel walked out of the meeting along with Paul; it had gone just like he had told Cam earlier. The Jaffa and Lanteans both knew how important the trade of naquahdah was for both parties. And now they had several mines to work with, and the crew would be getting a nice percentage of the cut, which would make Jack happy. Nodding to the rest of the council as they dispersed, he turned to Paul.


“Thanks for the help here, Paul.”


Paul Davis sighed and looked at his boss’s cousin. It was a shame that Daniel never chose to follow Elizabeth into politics, he had barely been needed in there. “You’re welcome, but it was thanks to the ground work you set up that we got them to agree to the terms as fast as they did.”


“I had some help. Teal’c…”


“The Jaffa you’re working with?”


“Yeah. He and Bra’tac are close and they sorta let me cheat. They let me know what the council wanted ahead of time.”


Paul chuckled, “I see.”


“How long is Lantea making you stay?”


“Only a couple more days, to make sure everything goes smoothly. You guys leaving?”


“Yeah, I think Cam’s about to go crazy.”


“I can imagine.” Paul knew about the Prometheus crew and their history with the Jaffa and Goa’uld. “How are you guys handling that anyway?”




“Jack and Cam can't have been too happy, and Sam’s more understanding but it can't be easy for her either.”


Daniel looked at Paul and knew that half the reason for the question besides curiosity was the fact he had been told to ask about them. Suddenly, he was thankful that Vala had gone back to the ship, explaining Teal’c was one thing; Vala would have been more complicated.


“It hasn’t been as bad as you may think, Teal’c has been a great help these last couple of weeks and Jack and Cam are learning to live with him.”


“And his partner?”


Daniel stared at Paul.


“Come on, Daniel, even the council spoke about her: Teal’c and his human partner, who have the remaining third of the list. I found it interesting that you didn't mention that at all – a Jaffa and a human working together, and on your ship.”


“She’s just someone who works with Teal’c. She didn’t really have much to do here at the negotiations, since Teal’c is someone of standing, so she headed back to the ship with Jack and Sam.”


“I would have liked to have met her.” Daniel didn’t like where this was going. Paul wasn’t the type to ask this many questions even if Elizabeth had asked.




“Why? Because, Daniel, a human woman who knowingly works with a Jaffa, and a Jaffa as notorious as Teal’c seems to be, must be an interesting person.

Daniel rolled his eyes, “Trust me, you wouldn’t think that if you met her, but maybe next time.” It wouldn’t be a good thing if too many people got curious about Vala.


“Yeah, maybe next time. Now I can go back and tell certain higher ups that everything on the Prometheus is normal, except for a Jaffa and an annoying human female.” Paul nodded, and Daniel understood why Paul asked the questions he did. Somebody was asking questions back on Lantea.


“Thanks again, Paul. And say hi to Janet for us.”


“No problem, Daniel.” Both men turned to head in opposite directions, when Paul called back to Daniel. “Daniel, I don't know why you’ve taken these new partners, but I know you well enough to know you have a good reason. Just be careful. Elizabeth would be pissed to hear you got yourself killed. Again.”

“That last time was a miscommunication.”


“Whatever, just don’t die. We’ve been hearing things. Anubis is on a rampage and even Osiris seems to be nervous.”


At that Daniel said nothing, but nodded. He continued on his way to the training grounds where he last heard Cam and Teal’c were. He was sure they’d be wanting to head back to the ship as much as he did. They needed to get on with their mission.


                                                       * * * *

Cam landed roughly on his back. Maybe asking Teal’c to teach him the Jaffa way of staff fighting had not been the greatest idea. Looking at the offered hand, he took and pulled himself up.


“Are you all right, Commander Mitchell?”


Brushing some dust off, Cam shook his shoulder, “Yeah, fine. Let’s try that again.”


Teal’c looked at the young man and nodded. He may be just a beginner, but the young commander was showing great potential skill. He did not let himself feel beaten when he was struck down, he just got back up and fought again.


Standing in front of Teal’c, Cam moved into the stance that Teal’c had showed him earlier. His legs shoulder width apart, staff held pointing down with his right hand. He stared at Teal’c, waiting for the moment for the move.


Teal’c moved forward, moving the staff in a high sweeping motion that Cam barely ducked out of the way of. Unfortunately he didn’t dodge when the staff was twirled down and swept under his legs. Falling backwards he leaped back up, using the staff to strike, which Teal’c blocked with his arms. Then Teal’c’s staff struck forward, pushing Cam back, as he tried to throw another punch but it was stopped and then Teal’c’s staff spun and Cam couldn't stop the kick that landed on his midsection. Once again, Cam landed roughly on his back.


“Better, Commander Mitchell.”


Cam grunted. “Ugh, thanks, I think.” Getting back up, he noticed Daniel making his way to them.


“Hey there. Come to see me get my ass kicked?”


Chuckling, Daniel came up to them and smiled. “Not exactly. The meeting’s done. Paul is staying a couple more days to fine tune everything, but we’re free to leave.”

“See that’s what I’m talking about. In and out.” Cam rubbed his shoulder, that was going to sting tomorrow. Hell, he was going to hurt tomorrow. “I’m going to go wave Jack and tell him we’re heading back. Thanks for the lesson, big guy. Maybe we’ll continue them on the ship.”


Teal’c nodded. “I would be most pleased, Commander Mitchell.”


“I’m sure.” Cam winced as he made his way out of the arena.


As Cam left, Daniel couldn’t help but call out, “You know, I’ve never seen you run away from a sparring match so fast!”


All Daniel got was a single finger, again, and he didn’t miss it this time, and laughed.


Teal’c smiled, amused at the men’s antics. “He is truly a skilled warrior. Not even some Jaffa have as much natural talent as Commander Mitchell has demonstrated today. He has clearly been subjected to much combat.”


Daniel looked at Teal’c and nodded. “Yeah, he was stationed and trained on Sateda for a while. He’s always more or less been like that.” Daniel looked towards where Cam had gone; in all his time knowing the man he was aware that Cam was a fighter. Born to defend.


“I see. A protector.”




“Like your captain.” Teal’c’s voice held an insight that surprised Daniel. It wasn’t that he wasn’t aware of Cam and Jack’s more obvious warrior/solider like attributes, but it was the first time he heard such respect for those attributes. But it was clear to Daniel that Teal’c saw his partners as formidable and more importantly equal warriors – protectors.


Daniel glanced at Teal’c before he nodded in agreement. “Yeah…”


About an hour later, all three men stood near the Gate, Bra’tac in front of them. As Rak’nor dialed to the mining planet they all extended their farewells. Stepping through the gate Cam and Daniel gave one last nod to Bra’tac and Rak’nor and stepped through.


Teal’c remained for a second. He turned to Bra’tac waiting for his old master to speak.


Bra’tac placed his hand on his former pupil’s shoulder, “I know you have not told me everything, and I will not ask. But know, that should you ever need help, we will, I will, be here to aid you.”


Teal’c bowed his head. “Thank you, old friend.” Bra’tac bowed his head and watched as the event horizon took in Teal’c’s figure.


“Be safe, my son.” Bra’tac whispered as the wormhole disengaged.


                                                       * * * *

Light years away as Daniel, Cameron and Teal’c were stepping through the Stargate, Vala woke to the sounds of voices.


“Caro, you know we just can’t let her sleep here every time she’s tired, these heating beds already use a significant amount of power of the med bay systems. We got them for emergencies. Naps, I don’t think qualify.”


“Rygel,” Caro sounded exasperated, “as head medical examiner on this ship, I’m the one that qualifies as to what constitutes an emergency, and the fact that she can’t regulate her body temperature like everybody else on the ship when she sleeps, means that she could become severely sick when exposed to the cold for too long. So for Vala this was an emergency. And I know how much power these beds use; I’m the one that got the captain to get them.” Vala heard as Caro took in a breath. “This won’t be a permanent thing, I’ll figure something out.”


“Like what?” Rygel’s sharp voice filtered to Vala’s ears.


“I’ll tell you when I figure it out.” There was no room for argument in Caro’s voice and Vala then heard footsteps start towards her. “And Rygel?” The footsteps paused.


“Yes?” Vala could hear the annoyance in his voice.


“Don’t snip at me. I can still feel your crabbiness from the other room.”


Vala watched through silted eyelids as Rygel walked from the room with a huff.


“He’s just being…” Caro sighed, sentence unfinished.


“Anal?” Vala volunteered, considering there was no reason to keep up the pretense of sleep. Obviously Caro knew she was awake.


“I was going to say uptight, but yeah, anal works too.” Caro turned to her patient. “Feeling better?”


“Yes, thank you. I’m sorry about the bed, I didn’t know it used up so much power.”


“It’s fine, you needed to rest, but as much as I detest saying this, Rygel’s right. This can’t be an ongoing thing.”


Getting out of said bed, Vala adjusted her top and fixed her hair, “I wasn’t planning on it being an ongoing thing. If you remember, you insisted.”


“I did. And I would again. Look, as your doctor there is a certain doctor-patient confidentiality I have to abide by, but if you don’t tell someone about this, or give me a way to really help you, I’ll go to the captain, and he tends to get irritable when someone one the ship gets reckless about their health. Just ask Daniel.”


At the door to the med bay Vala looked at the doctor. “Don’t worry, doc, I’ll figure something out. I always do.” But she was right, as much as Vala hated to admit that, she knew Caro was right. Leaving, she headed to her quarters for a hot shower before she went to find Sam.


Sam, unsurprisingly, was in the lab. After her own hot shower, she had headed back to finish working on the energy transfer between the ZPM and the naquahdah generator. The readings were finally at a place that she felt comfortable with.


She was about to attach the machine when Vala walked into the room, her hair still wet and wearing a heavy looking sweater.


“Hey, Sam.”


“Hey. Good news.”


Vala perked up. “Yes finally! What?”


“After my nap, well, shower,” Sam winked at Vala, making the other woman laugh, “I came back and finished with the circuits. We now should have the right amount of energy being transferred to power the devil machine.”


Again, Vala laughed. “Sam, I’m beginning to think I’m a horrible influence on you.”


“That may be, but now are you ready to see if this worked?”


Nodding, Vala moved to where Sam was and both women looked at each other before attaching the machine to the energy-filtering device and turned it on. They both watched the energy transfers with a careful eye as the machine’s power source began to receive the energy. So far so good. Neither the machine nor the naquahdah generator seemed to be overloading. They shifted their eyes to the power readings for the machine.


It was powered.


Sam and Vala looked at each other and grinned. Vala bumped her hip against Sam’s as the blonde went to detach the machine from the device.

As both women looked at her power readings, they were relieved to see that the power source was still good.


Sam turned to Vala. “Now what?”


They looked at the machine and Vala sighed; “Now we figure out how it works.” She went over and pushed down on one of the pads. Nothing happened. Vala tried another button. Again nothing happened.


“Obviously that’s not it.”


“I hate this thing.”


Sam and Vala let out matching sighs and went back to work. Sam detached her data pad from the ZPM and started to reattach it to the machine. They had another long night ahead of them.


                                                       * * * *

It was near 0300, and Jack was taking his usual walks, checking the ship, checking his crew, checking the mess hall – that sort of thing. It was a ritual he had begun long ago, when instead of checking a ship, he would check a house, and instead of checking on his crew he would check on his son and wife. Checking the mess hall/kitchen was the only part of the ritual that hadn’t changed and sometimes Jack wished it was the only part would have.


Cam, Daniel and Teal’c had gotten back safely to the ship several hours ago, and hopefully they, like the rest of the not-on-call personnel, were sleeping. Not enough people slept full nights on this ship. Not that he should be talking. Walking into what had been deemed the “observatory” by the crew, Jack saw a female figure standing by the window looking out into space, pensively.


“Hey there.”


Vala turned in surprise. “Oh, hey Jack.” She smiled brightly at him, and except for few others (himself included), he had never seen someone shift in personality so quickly. Still, he could see that the wheels were turning in her head. He doubted they ever stopped. She looked sad, he observed, though she was trying not to. He ventured further into the room.


“Like the room?”


Vala just nodded. “It might be my favorite on the ship.”


“It is nice.”


Jack looked at the room. It was a room on one of the top most levels on the ship; three-fourths of it was pure windows along with half the ceiling. It gave a sense of practically being in space. Sam had redesigned it a few years ago, with help from McKay and Thor after their battle with Ra, when the original had been mostly destroyed. It was Jack’s favorite room too.


“So, what brings you here this late? Can’t sleep?”


“Just needed a break.”


“The machine?”


“Yeah, we got the power source to work but now we have to figure out how to actually work it.” As she sighed, Jack could clearly see the exhaustion in her face, in her body. “Sam already headed off to bed, but I wanted to spend some more time with it. It’s giving off these readings that keep grabbing my attention. I don’t know…”


“I see.” Jack turned his head to face Vala, full on. “And here I thought Sam was a workaholic. You should sleep.”


“I know.” Vala smiled and laid her hand on the glass that was separating her from space. “You know in a different life I would have I might have stolen this ship purely for this room.”


“Yeah, well yours isn't too bad either.” Chuckling, Jack remembered what she had said about her ship. That he could fly it too. He had been wanting to ask, but it never felt like the right time. And it wasn’t the right time now.


With a fondness that reminded him of how he spoke about his family and the Prometheus, Vala leaned against the glass. “Yeah… Maybe I’ll show you how to work it one day. Still, I love this room. Sometimes I can’t believe my people chose to leave this behind.” Gesturing out towards space she frowned, “And just because they got disappointed that things weren’t going their way in the galaxy.”


“Maybe their disappointments lead them to stop loving space like they once did. They couldn’t stand to see it corrupted; some people never get over some things.” Jack’s voice took a quiet tone at his last few words and Vala turned to really look at the man who by an oddity of nature reminded her of her home more than anything had done in years.


“Maybe.” She bowed her, leaning it against the window, and wondered if she should ask if he sensed her. These last few week she had been so caught up in the machine, she had completely forgotten about the surprising bond she and Jack shared. Moving to ask him a question she was cut off before she even spoke out loud.


“But obviously not all your people stopped loving space. You’re clearly a fan.” Winking at her, Jack gave her a smile. To which he was rewarded with an almost childish one in return.


“Only a little.” Vala bit her lip and decided it wasn’t the time, “You know, even my mom used to say I was made for space. That I had a special connection with the universe.”


“Really? Why?”


Vala sighed, remembering something gone. “My eyes. Most babies are born with blue eyes, but my mom used to say that from the moment I was born mine were so pale they looked silver. Like starlight. She used to say I was made by the stars.”


“Schmaltzy.” Jack glanced at the slim woman, remembering similar stories from another woman about another baby.


Vala met his glance and smiled. “Yeah, my mum was like that.”


“Mothers…” Laughing quietly, Jack shook his head. Apparently it was like a universal rule that mothers had to have a great deal of ridiculous cutesy things to say about their kids. Sara sure had with Charlie. Then again so had he.


“Yeah, mothers.” Vala sensed something new in Jack’s tone and knew it was time for her to relinquish the room. “Well, I’ll leave you to your space, prostatis. There’s a problem I must go solve.”


Jack raised an eyebrow at what she called him, and Vala understood he had understood her, but all he said was, “Get some sleep too.” And Vala couldn’t help but think he sounded like a dad.




Jack watched as Vala left the room and he smiled. She sure was something… Danny boy better watch out.


                                                       * * * *

After Vala left the room she started to head back to Sam’s lab. Halfway there she paused. She really didn’t want to spend the rest of the night working on the machine, she was too tired to properly focus, but she couldn’t go to her room either. She wouldn’t be able to sleep for more than a of couple hours and she’d rather save them for later in the night. She thought about the gym, but Teal’c was surely resting and she didn’t want to disturb him. She thought about getting some coffee in the mess hall. She thought about going back and talking a bit more with Jack, but she had a feeling that he needed to be alone right now. She thought about the heating beds, but Caro was probably asleep too and she didn't really want to deal with Rygel. She thought back to going back to the lab, and working on the cloaking technology instead. But what she really wanted to do was go to Daniel’s office, where she knew he was, and sit with him. Resting against the wall for second, she realized she was only a few hallways from him. Apparently her feet had taken her where the rest of her body wanted to go.


Taking a breath she made it the rest of the way consciously. At his door she paused before walking in.


“Still up, darling?”


“What are you doing here?”


“I just felt like taking a walk. How was Dakara? Are those the texts?”


Daniel looked at her, she still was pale, the bruises under her eyes standing out, and her cheeks were looking almost skeletal. He pushed his worry back as she leaned on her forearms against his desk and he knew he wouldn’t have turned her away even he had wanted too.


“Dakarra was fine. And surprisingly, no, these aren’t the texts. I was reading over some manuscripts from Langara that I had been working on before all this started. I guess I needed a break too.” He smiled, leaning back in his chair.


“Ah, interesting, darling. Can I help?”


“I don’t know, can you? Do you read Langarian?”


“Well, not perfectly, but I can manage.” She sat on the corner of his desk and peeked at the papers. They certainly looked interesting.Floating cities, lost in time, she skimmed. It’d at least keep her up for a while, because knowing Daniel, he was the type to make lots of notes.


They looked at each other for a second before Daniel stood up. He grabbed some papers and moved them to the small couch in the corner of his office. “Come on, you’re definitely not going to be working perched on the desk like that.” He smiled back at her.


Vala grinned and made her way to the couch, crossing her legs Indian style when she sat. “You’ll see. I’ll be the best assistant ever, and the prettiest too.” She winked.


“I’m sure. Just ask if you need something, or have a question.”


“Aye, aye.” She saluted and began to work.


Daniel rolled his eyes and sat back at his desk.


They worked silently for a while, both too tired and/or focused to keep up with their usual banter and quips. The minutes passed, until Daniel heard something fall to the floor. Looking over he saw as the book Vala had been writing in was now on the floor, papers strewn around it. He was about to reprimand her when he noticed she was asleep. He smiled. For a second, because then he noticed her shivering. He watched as she curled into a ball and kept shivering. It reminded him of Castiana. He pushed back his worry, as he went over to her. Bending over her, he touched her forehead, and cursed. She was freezing. She curled tighter into herself, shivering more intensely.


She was too cold. And everything clicked. She was too cold because her body wasn’t regulating internal heat at night. Again, he cursed and gently shook her awake.




She groaned. Blinking, she uncurled, “Daniel?” She blinked again. “Oh, Daniel. I fell asleep, didn’t I?” She moved to sit up, bringing her knees up and wrapping her arms around them.


“Yeah, you did… why didn’t you say anything?” Daniel crouched down in front of her.


She glanced away, “What are you taking about?”


Sighing, he turned her face to his. “Vala.”


“It was nothing, it is nothing. I’m handling it.”


“Well, considering you’re looking like a ghost, I beg to differ.” He then had a thought. “Has it always been this way?”


Vala was confused, and then understood. Shaking her head she answered, “No, no. The Seraphim was built with my people’s body chemistry in mind – it automatically compensates for the heat we can’t produce ourselves. Unfortunately, your lovely ship doesn’t. It is usually fine during the day, because I’m active, but at night…”


Daniel sighed, only slightly relieved, at least she hadn’t been suffering for years. Just for as long as she stayed with them, the voice in his head added.


“Why didn’t you mention anything?”


“It’s not that big of a deal, when I get too cold, I go take a nap in one of the med bay’s heating beds.” Though granted, she had only done that once and only because Caro picked up on her situation.


Daniel nodded. He was going to have to speak to Caro about that. Looking back at Vala, he was struck by how tired she looked and how she was still shivering. He brushed some hair out of her face, and watched as he leaned into the warmth of his hand.


“Body heat really is the best thing in our situation.”


Her words flashed through his mind. When she had said them, it had been to prod him, but now…




She didn't even try to lie or play, just nodded, showing him just how exhausted she was. He moved to stand and grab the fallen papers, placing them back on his desk he grabbed another book, and turned back towards her.


“Scoot over.”


Confused, Vala looked at him. He rolled his eyes and stepped towards her. As he moved to sit on the end of the couch, her eyes widened, and she let out a soft smile. She could not believe he was doing this for her. She moved to open her mouth in response, but then shut it, overwhelmed. Moving over, she made room for him as he sat. When he situated himself, she kissed his cheek.


“Thank you, darling.” Her voice was soft, and because she was so pale he couldn’t really tell if she was even blushing. He nodded. He removed his shoes, and she removed hers. Grabbing the blanket he kept on the couch for long nights he covered them both with it. As she curled up against him, he tried not to comment or flinch when her hand tucked itself under the hem of his shirt and rested on his side.


“Better?” He shifted against her, but not uncomfortably so. Maybe a little too comfortably said the voice he pushed to the back of his mind.


“Mmhhmm…” She nestled her head into his shoulder.


“Good.” He shifted his free arm and opened his book. She was fast asleep, curled against him in matter of minutes. He read his book, one arm holding her tightly against him.


An hour later when Jack came to check on him, he found them both asleep. Daniel’s book lay abandoned on the floor and they had shifted on the couch. Vala was now half on of Daniel, her head tucked into his neck. Daniel had his arms wrapped around her, and kept her snug between him and the couch. The blanket covered them, but their feet poked out— tangled together.


Jack shook his head and smiled. Turning the light out, he left the room. At least she took his advice about getting some sleep.



CHAPTER IX:  It Never Rains Here But It Pours


It had been a long time since Daniel had slept, really slept, with someone. A long time since he had to deal with two bodies squished in a small space. He was beginning to realize it wasn’t as ideal as he had once thought it was, then again, the couch in his office wasn’t exactly made for two or even one.


Feeling his couch partner shift, he groaned as he felt an elbow meet his ribs, and in trying to move into a more comfortable position, he fell off the couch. It was the grunt he made when his body met the floor that woke his partner up.


Vala moaned at the sudden loss of warmth and the body pillow she had been using. She blinked and stretched and then her brain caught up. Immediately, she leaned over the edge of the couch.


“Daniel? Darling?”


“Ugh… Morning.” Daniel managed to look up at Vala and smile.


“Hi.” Vala smiled back, then scrunched up her nose, making her look ridiculously cute in Daniel’s opinion. “I didn’t kick you off, did I?”


“No, not exactly. I forgot about the limited amount of space we had.”




Still smiling, they took in each other first thing in the morning. It felt nice, normal and familiar, then just as quickly both looked away, as if they had suddenly realized what had transpired. Hastily, Daniel moved to get up, and Vala started to grab her sweater and shoes. Their eyes avoided each other the entire time. Vala waved a small goodbye and headed to the door when Daniel called out. She seemed better, but he wasn’t sure how much of that was wishful thinking.


“Did you sleep okay?” His voice carried a tone of affection and worry.


Vala turned back to him and smiled softly. “I did.”


They stared at each other for another beat, but Daniel couldn't help but worry – if only a little. “We need to talk to Jack about this, and maybe Caro too. They’ll want to help.”




“Vala, no. This isn’t something we’re gonna hide. You haven't been sleeping because the ship can't compensate for the loss of your body heat during the night. It isn't good for you and if we can help, we will.”


Looking at Daniel, she knew he meant what he had said, that they would try to help her, but she also knew it wouldn't be as easy a fix as he thought it would be. Still, he looked so earnest, his eyes so intense and she felt herself giving into him. “Fine, we’ll talk to them later.”


“Thank you.”


With that Vala left the room and Daniel let himself fall back on his couch. Just when he thought he had begun to understand Vala, she would surprise him with something new. She was cold-blooded but warm, sharp witted but soft, she looked left but went right, she smiled but her eyes frowned. She was a force of nature and slowly taking him with her. And the worst part was that he liked it.


Standing, he went to find Caro and Jack.


                                                       * * * *

The seven of them stood in Jack’s office.


It was only supposed to be four, but when Daniel had gone to Caro he had found Cam trying to needle the empathic doctor to join him for breakfast while she looked over his bruises. So Cam, clearly curious, joined the meeting, after all he was second-in-command – as he had reminded Daniel. Then Sam had joined too, she had already been having breakfast with Jack and Teal’c, and when she heard about the situation, became worried about Vala. And Teal’c. As soon as he understood this was about Vala, he would not be found anywhere else.


The seven of them stood in Jack’s office, six pairs of eyes focused on one.


Vala usually didn’t mind being the center of attention. Sometimes it was easier to fit into certain places and procure certain things when people were too focused on you to focus on everything else. But now everybody in the room was looking at her as they would look at a child. This wasn’t her ideal situation. She felt like punching Daniel again.


“I cannot believe you would be so irresponsible about your health.”


Vala looked at Teal’c as he used eyebrow movement # 6 – I am disappointed. She really hated that eyebrow.


“It’s nothing. I’m fine. This has been completely blown out of proportion. It’s not like I’m dying.”


“The point is that if you keep this up, you could be.” Caro stated. All eyes turned from Vala to her in shock. They hadn’t been expecting that.


Caro sighed. She could practically feel the oncoming headache. “The longer you go without properly regulated sleep, the longer you go without a stable core body temperature, the slower your body functions will get, because they’ll be too exhausted to keep up with you, and the harder it will be for you to function. You could get hypothermia again, you could lose consciousness, and your organs could start shutting down.” She looked straight at Vala, “Look, I’m no expert in your physiology, this is all new to me, but that’s exactly why we need to be extra careful. Why you need to be extra careful.”


“So what am I supposed to do?”


“I’m working on something, it occurred to me when you came to the med bay yesterday, but it’s still all theoretical. And until I can be sure this might work, we need to find another way for you to be able too sleep normally.”


“When were you in the med bay?” Sam asked, clearly worried about Vala’s situation. She had grown fond of the woman these last few weeks, and did not want to see her in harm’s way again.


Vala had the grace to blush. “Yesterday, after Jack bullied us into taking a break. I went looking for sleeping pills, to help conk me out, but the good doctor here didn't want to take any chances. So instead, she ordered me to one of the heating beds.”


Sam nodded, but still looked worried.


“And the heating beds? Can’t you just sleep in those?” Cam came forth with what would have been the ideal solution, if not for the energy problem.


Sam shook her head. “No she can’t.” At the looks she received from the males in the room, she clarified. “The heating beds eat up power like crazy. In fact when they are turned on they use up almost a fourth of the med bay’s systems, which, for that reason as well as many others, is why those are on an independent system than all the other levels, the least of which so it can function even when the rest of the ship can’t. I could maybe try to reconfigure one of them for Vala’s quarters, but that would eat up a good portion of that’s level’s power. It’s…”


“It’s a bad idea,” Jack finished for Sam. Sam nodded, and looked at Vala apologetically. Vala just smiled at her friend. It was the thought that counted.


“Okay, so that’s out. What next?” Cam asked. “What was your idea, Caro?”


Licking her lips, Caro tucked her hair behind her ear. “Like I said, it’s all theoretical now, but I after I ran Vala’s DNA through the sequencer, I noticed she carries a protein marker and an extra set of chromosomes, different than every other human in the galaxy.”


“Yes, those are the results of the gene therapy that my people underwent when trying to safeguard our more advanced technologies, and trying to ‘improve’ ourselves.”


“Right, and they are also the reason you’re cold-blooded?”


“Well, yes.” Vala looked curiously at Caro, she wondered if the doctor was going where she thought she was.


“Exactly. So if I could cook up a genetic cocktail using and isolating those individual aspects, maybe I could come up with something that you could take to help you compensate for your heat loss when you sleep.”


“But that would require deliberately altering DNA. Even now, that’s not an easy feat to undertake.” Sam pointed out, “You would need to consult with a genetics specialist – one we could trust.”


“I know. I know. That's why I said this was all theoretical at the moment. This is not the most time efficient solution. And as for the genetics specialist, I was thinking Beckett. He’s the best, and wouldn’t be easily swayed by outside influences. ” Caro then turned to Jack, “I would also need some more blood from you, captain.”


“Me? Why?”


“Vala can sense you, right?” Jack nodded. “After you mentioned that, I double checked your DNA. You have the protein marker, but lack the chromosomes. Which probably explains why you're not cold-blooded. I’d need some more of your blood to study it and compare.”


“Great.” Jack huffed, but then as his eyes fell to Vala. None of this was helping her, and seeing how he was getting fond of the scrappy space pirate, he didn't want to see her suffer more. Sitting next to Daniel where she was half leaning on his arm, Jack could see how tired she was – and he knew she had gotten some sleep last night. She looked better than she had in these last few days, but still too gaunt – too washed out. He wasn’t the only one that noticed.


“As grateful as I am sure Vala Mal Duran is about your fervor to help her situation, none of these ideas have given us a solution to put into effect. As you mentioned, Dr. Lam, if we cannot rectify this, Vala Mal Duran’s health could be in serious jeopardy.” The protectiveness in Teal’c’s voice was obvious. So was the anger and disappointment.


“Teal’c, it’s okay. I’m feeling fine. If it was anything really serious I would have told you.” Vala sat up and faced her friend, hoping to appease him.


“The fact that Daniel Jackson had to call us to discuss the matter shows that clearly you were not.”


“It shows he’s a worrywart,” Vala shot back.


“It shows,” Teal’c intoned, “that I must be thankful that someone was willing to confront you about this. I had my suspicions about your health, but felt that if they were truly valid, you would have come to me.”


“And I would have, if I felt I couldn't handle it. But I can. I have been.”


“You have not. You have been hiding it. There is a difference between handling a situation and blinding yourself to it.” Teal’c’s deep voice reverberated through the room and all the occupants winced. It was clear that this low quiet tone the dark man was using was several times worse than if he had been yelling at his slim silver-eyed partner and friend. “Ever since you received that message you have been taking unnecessary risks with your health.”


“I have not.” It was a retort made in a child’s voice.


“You have, and it must stop.” Teal’c’s tone left no room for argument, and Vala shrunk back a little, properly chagrined.


The rest of the room watched the two partners in silence. Ever since they had arrived on the Prometheus, Vala and Teal’c had been like two peas in a pod. Standing by each other, protecting each other. They were best friends, each other’s rocks, so seeing them at odds like this had them all in shock.


Sam looked between the two friends. She had an idea, but didn’t know if it was the right time to speak up. Caro, who had been getting a headache as a result of all the emotions clashing around the room, picked up on Sam’s apprehension. Unfortunately she was also picking up on Daniel’s and Teal’c’s worry – the heaviest in the room, and Vala’s stubborn shame – the woman knew Teal’c was right, she just wasn’t ready to admit it. Yet.


Taking a breath, she waved Sam forward. Those two were done for now.


“I think I might have an idea.” Sam’s voice cut through the tension in the room.


“Yeah?” Daniel ventured cautiously.


Sam turned to Vala. “You mentioned that this didn't happen on the Seraphim because the ship has a system that compensates for the loss of body heat when your body is at rest, the hours that are regulated for night.”


Looking away from Teal’c, Vala barely nodded. “Yes… it’s similar to the life signs detector. It reads life signs, as well as the type of life signs.”


“It distinguishes between cold-blooded and warm-blooded.”


“Yes, that’s how it only increases the heat in my room, instead of all the rooms.”


“Okay.” Sam nodded to herself, thinking over the ship’s systems. “I think I can work with that.”


“What are you thinking, Sam?” Cam could see Sam’s thoughts going a mile a minute.


“Well, if I can copy the program that the Seraphim uses to compensate for Vala’s heat loss, and reconfigure it to work on the Prometheus, specifically for Vala’s quarters, hopefully you’ll be able to sleep full nights.”


“Samantha, love, you’re a genius.” Grinning madly, Vala felt like hugging the blonde woman. She vaguely wondered if it could really be done, the Seraphim’s systems were pretty advanced and very different from those on the Prometheus. But then again, she had never met anyone with a more natural aptitude for ships than Sam. “Do you really think it will work?’


Beaming at her friend, Sam laid down the facts. “Yes, but I first need to see the system your ship uses and see how I can incorporate it with the Prometheus. It will probably take a couple of days. I’m sorry I can’t do any better.”


“It’s okay, Sam. It’s better than okay.”


“And until then, what?” Cam asked.


Still sensing the many tensions in the room, Caro also sensed that much of it was thinning out. She smiled; Sam, always collected, tended to give out that effect. Caro came forward with the answer. “The heating beds. Until then you can use the heating beds if you want. I also have some thermal blankets that might help.”


“Now for some good news.” Vala perked up and moved to sit on Jack’s desk, ignoring his look.


“There’s good news?”


“Ha-ha, Captain J- I mean Jack love. Of course there’s good news. Silver linings are found in every cloud if you look hard and long enough.”


Daniel looked at Vala questioningly, but she just winked at him. “Sam and I have finally managed to power the machine.”


This time Daniel’s eyes lit up with the curiosity of finding out what secrets the machine held. “Really?”


“Yes, last night actually.”


“Wait, but when I went in to check you were both still working with it.”


“Ah! That’s because while we have powered it, we still don't know how to work it.”


“Okay, that I don't get.” Cam’s brow furrowed.


Sam took over for Vala. “It is powered, which technically means that it’s on or that we can now turn it on, but we haven't figured out how it works. How to know if it’s even on, or how to use it. We’re sure the device is interactive, we just don't know how to get its information.”


“There are some readings that keep catching my attention – I left you some notes on it last night, Sam. But until we come up with a way to get the information that it’s storing, we’re pretty much where we were before. Except that it’s powered.”


“So one step forward, two steps back, huh?” Cam went and poured himself some more coffee from the pot on Jack’s counter.


“Something like that.” Sam granted.


Everybody in the room looked at one another and sensing that this meeting was over began filtering out. Vala’s eyes trailed Teal’c, and began moving to talk to her friend when Caro called out to her.


“Vala, I’m gonna need you and the captain to come with me to the med bay for a few minutes.”


Taking her eyes from Teal’c, Vala nodded. As she followed Jack and Caro, she felt somebody lay a hand on her shoulder. Turning, she met Daniel’s eyes.


“I’m sorry if I…”


“It's not your fault. If it's anyone’s fault it's mine. He’s right.” Vala responded, subdued.


“It’ll be okay.” Daniel’s hand stayed on her shoulder, his heat, support, and care seeping from it and covering her like the blankets children use long after they leave the crib.


Both knew they didn’t only mean Teal’c. With every passing day they were becoming more and more aware of the pressures of this quest they had been set one.

Vala sighed deeply, tilting her head towards him. “You know, darling, when you say it, I almost believe you.” With a soft kiss to his cheek, Vala headed to the med bay.


                                                       * * * *

“It sucks, doesn’t it?”


Teal’c raised an eyebrow at Cam as the young man sat across from him in the mess hall.


Cam, still not as knowledgeable as Vala in the language of Teal’c’s eyebrows, figured the eyebrow wasn’t a menacing one, and continued. “To not be able to help.” At Teal’c look, Cam cleared his throat and clarified, “Not that you don't help, what I meant was, help with all the, I guess we can call it the ‘technical stuff’. You and me, we’re good when the bad guys need a good ass kicking, and we’re good at that, but when it’s running the engine room, brokering treaties, finding a way to power a crazy machine, or coming up with a solution to cold-bloodedness at night, we’re…” Cam broke off and took a bite of his breakfast, waving his fork.


“We are of little use.”


Cam glanced up at Teal’c, a curious look on his face, and ducked his head. He then stared at his plate for a few seconds, his fork making random motions in his food. The man was right, if not a little blunt, but Cam could appreciate the frankness. He had long ago understood that he might not have Daniel’s or Sam’s brains, or have the commanding presence of his brother-in-law, but he knew where his strengths lay, even if they were the more physical strengths.


“I was going to go with superfluous, but that works too.” Cam quirked his lips.


Teal’c half smiled and bowed his head, beginning on his own breakfast. “We might not be the ones that lead the path, Commander Mitchell, but we make sure our friends get there safely.”


Cam stared at Teal’c, “You know, I like the sound of that.”


                                                       * * * *

Instead of going straight to her lab, like she had been doing lately, Sam headed down to where the Seraphim was docked.


To Sam, Vala’s ship was a true masterpiece. From the moment she had seen it, it was love at first sight. She had wanted to spend days upon days figuring out its secrets, now she just wanted it to give her a way to help her friend. She hadn’t shown it in the meeting but she too, was disappointed and angered that Vala had kept this very important piece of information from them.


It wasn’t that Sam didn’t understand keeping something secret so people wouldn’t worry or treat you differently, but keeping something secret that was vital to your health she just couldn't fathom.


But the situation had revealed something to her. To them all.


Vala was willing to risk it all for what the destination of this journey held.


Sam sighed. Hopefully, that wouldn’t be the case. For Vala’s sake, and for the rest of them, especially Daniel.


Inside the Seraphim, Sam made her way to the cockpit. When they had first begun working on the machine, Vala had to come in and detached the ZPM from the ship; she had then also given Sam a quick tour. Reaching her target area, Sam sat down at the pilot’s chair, started up the secondary systems that would allow her access to the ship’s database, and focused.


Just like that, the console in front of her lit up and the translucent screen came up. Grabbing her data pad, she plugged it in and began working.


Finding the life signs detector was easy enough, after that she began searching for the life support systems, and then the finally the systems that regulated the room temperatures. Looking over the systems, she sighed. She could eventually rig a similar system on the Prometheus, but it would take some time. Maybe too much time. Hopefully Vala could help her out with this; after all, she knew her ship’s systems the best. As she did one more systems check, she remembered the cloaking capabilities. She and Vala had started on them before the machine had taken over their lives, but they still had needed some more data. Sam downloaded the data she needed, made some quick notes and headed back out.


Running a hand through her almost shoulder length hair – maybe it was time to cut it again, Sam walked back to her lab. With everything they were doing, and as important as it was, she couldn’t blame Vala for her actions. They had both been pushing each other these last couple of weeks, both forgetting they were not machines themselves, but no more.


Entering her lab she saw the note Vala had mentioned. Sam had to smile; the woman did not do anything small. The note was a giant piece of paper pasted on the machine.


Sam: Electromagnetic waves? Output?


She put down her data pad and grabbed the note. Electromagnetic output? She looked down at the machine and then at the readings it was giving out. Going over to it she began looking over said EM outputs. Clicking away, she found what Vala had meant. The electromagnetic outputs of the machine were fluctuating between high and low frequencies.


Sam scratched her chin and looked between the machine and these new readings. It couldn't be? Could it? That simple?


Shrugging, she leaned over and clicked on the data pad attached to the machine to start a program to stabilize the fluctuating frequencies. But before she finished, she went over and called Daniel through the intercom, as Vala was still with Caro.






“Come to my lab, I think I figured how to get the machine to show us it's information.”


She could practically hear Daniel sputter out his coffee. “I’ll be right there.”


“I’ll be here.”


Turning back to the machine she initialized the stabilizing code.


Suddenly a bright light engulfed Sam. She blinked at the brightness and then noticed the machine, where there had been nothing before there now was a translucent screen, similar to the ones on the Seraphim, full of orange writing coming out from it. Tau’ri. She was glad that she called Daniel down.


Smiling, she went over to the door of her lab to wait for Daniel. Finally, they had gotten a break. Seeing Daniel walk towards her, she called out.


“Daniel! It worked. We can now read the information on the machine.”


Daniel looked giddy. Sam was about to reach out to her best friend and show him, when he passed right through her.


Sam could not describe the shock and fear her entire being experienced at that moment. And if anyone had been able to see her, they would have been astounded how fast she had paled.


She turned almost mechanically towards Daniel, who now stood inside her lab.


“Sam? Sam? Where are you?”


“Daniel! Daniel! I’m here.” Sam yelled out, but he didn’t seem to her hear her. She tried to grab a cup, but her hand passed straight through it. Her brain went into overdrive, landing on the only conclusion she could. “Holy Hannah! I’m out of phase.” Sam stared at the machine. It had taken her out of phase – how in the hell had it done that?


“Sam?” This time Daniel sounded slightly worried.


Daniel!” Sam tried again, but nothing. She was getting worried too.


She watched as Daniel walked around her lab, his worry increasing, for a few seconds before he pressed the intercom.




“Yes, Dr. Jackson.”


“Can you check if Sam just left her lab?”


“Sure thing.” There was a pause as Walter checked the footage from the hallway, “Um, no Dr. Jackson. Dr. Carter just entered her lab fifteen minutes ago and hasn't left.”


“Uh, thanks, Walter.” Daniel paled, and Sam rolled her eyes. Of course she hadn’t left, she had told him she’d be waiting for him.


Again Sam watched as Daniel pressed the com.


“Jack? Vala? I think you guys need to come to Sam’s lab, like now.”


“Why?” Sam could hear Jack’s voice coming in clear from the med bay.


“I think something happened.”


“No shit.” Sam exclaimed, not that anybody could hear her.


A/N:  This and the next chapter have a lot of references and some pilfered dialogue from “Arthur’s Mantle” – the explanations are just so much smarter than anything I would have ever come up with. And there’s also a stolen line from another sci-fi show… :D put in purely for my amusement and yours.



CHAPTER X:  Out of Tune


Daniel, Jack and Vala stood in Sam’s lab. Sam stood looking at them. They were alternating between looking at the machine and one another. Sam rolled her eyes at them.


Finally Vala spoke. “It must have been the machine.”


Jack turned his head towards her and Sam winced at the look in his eyes.


“Well, no shit it was the machine! I thought you said that it was a computer, a keyboard thing, harmless. This is not harmless! Where the hell is Sam?!” Jack’s voice let everyone know just how unhappy he was at the current situation.


Vala recoiled at Jack’s tone but answered back. “I said I thought it was a computer-like device, I never said I was positive. And as for Sam, she has to be around somewhere. We saw the footage from the hallway and the lab. She didn’t leave. There was weird interference with the lab footage and that’s all. So that must mean she has to be here, we just can't see or hear her.”


“Thank you, Vala!” Sam grinned at the woman.


“So what? She shrunk? She’s invisible?” Jack asked incredulously. Daniel suddenly got a pensive look.


Out of phase, Sam shrugged, “Well, not exactly invisible, just out of phase.”


“We just heard, what happened?” Cam rushed in the room, Teal’c trailing him.


“Apparently, Vala’s machine shrunk Sam.”


“What?!” Cam jumped back, staring at Vala. Teal’c’s eyebrow rose in move #38 – Are you serious?


“I did not shrink Samantha! And it's not my machine!” Vala shot back at Jack, fuming and defending herself. So much for the bonding session last night. She felt a hand grip her shoulder and looked at Daniel. His was asking her to relax – Jack was just worried and lashing out. She shook him off, took a breath, and faced Jack again, “Look, I know you’re worried, so am I, but I honestly think Sam’s fine. I think she figured out how to work the machine, and in doing so some weird thing happened. We can see that there wasn’t an explosion, the machine certainly looks to be fine, so it had to be something else. I’m sure of it.” Vala sounded certain, and Jack had to acquiesce that Vala had a point, and then meeting Daniel’s gaze, he also silently acquiesced that it really wasn’t her fault.


“So what do we do?” He asked, his tone softening but still worried and commanding.


Vala sighed. “We try to figure out what happened and how to reverse it.”


“How can we be of assistance?” Teal’c asked. He could see the worry that swirled in his friend’s silver eyes.


“Right now, you can’t. I have to look over these notes and see what Sam might have done.”


“The electromagnetic outputs, Vala. Check the electromagnetic waves that the machine was giving out,” Sam said as Vala moved towards her.


Vala bypassed her own note and began looking over Sam notes from the night before. Sam sighed. This out of phase thing was already losing its appeal.


Daniel on the other hand, had another idea brewing in his brain. He turned to Jack, “While she works on that, I think I might have a theory on what happened to Sam.”


Jack turned to Daniel. “Well? I’m all ears.”


“I have to check the manuscripts, but I think you weren’t far off with the invisible thing.”


Sam turned to Daniel in curiosity, just what did these manuscripts say.


“Sam’s invisible?” Cam exclaimed.


“Out of phase.” Sam corrected. “Alternate dimension to be more specific.”


“I don’t think so, not exactly, I have to go check the texts.” Daniel turned to Vala, “You going to be okay?”


Already submerged in Sam’s notes, Vala waved Daniel off. “Fine, darling. Tell me if you find something.”


Ushering Jack, Cam and Teal’c out the room, Daniel’s eyes lingered on Vala. Now worried about two women, he sighed and headed to his office.


“And I’ll just be here, looking at glowy orange writing.” Sam pursed her lips and looked around the room. She knew she should have paid more attention when Vala was teaching Daniel the Tau’rian language.


                                                       * * * *

Jack paced in Daniel office. He was really starting to hate this little quest. First Daniel was attacked by a shark and almost got hypothermia, Vala had almost died, and now Sam was… Sam was… Gods, he didn't even know what or where Sam was. He just knew she wasn’t here. He really hated this little quest. Oma better have known what she was doing.


“Do you have to do that?”


Jack paused. “Have you found an answer?”




“Then yes, I have to do this.” Jack resumed his pacing.


Daniel rolled his eyes. “Fine, but can’t you do it somewhere else?”






“Because Vala might punch me if I go back to Sam’s lab.”


“You were kinda snippy.”


“I was worried, there’s a difference.”


“You should still apologize.”


“I will.” At Daniel’s look, Jack huffed. “I will, when Sam’s back.” Turning in mid pace, Jack’s eyes fell towards the couch, and he remembered last night. Some could have called his subsequent grin evil.


“So how are you and Vala getting along now?”


Daniel looked up from the manuscripts and stared at Jack. “Fine, why do you ask?”


Still grinning, Jack picked up last night’s forgotten blanket and placed it on the back of the couch. “You two just seem cozier lately.”


Daniel’s eyes followed the blanket’s path back to its usual resting place and then turned his gaze back on Jack. His best friend held an air of smugness that he didn’t like. Sighing, he placed his pen down and pressed on the bridge of his nose. “What did you see?”


“Not even denying it, wow. I thought we were going to have to dance around this for at least a week.”


“Jack.” Don’t. Not now.


Jack turned and met his younger friend’s eyes. “It’s a good thing, Daniel.”


“Jack.” Please, not now.


“So have you found an answer?” Okay, but later.


Thankful for Jack’s small reprieve, Daniel picked up his pen. “No, and it’s harder to concentrate with you distracting me. Don’t you have ‘captainy’ things to do?”

“Too many, actually.” Jack ran a hand through his graying hair.


“Then go do them, before I feel like punching you too.” Daniel smiled, trying to reassure his friend and captain.


Nodding, Jack walked out of the room. Daniel was right, he needed to focus on something else, anything else, and let Daniel and Vala work their magic. Gods, he hoped these two could fix this – they needed Sam back.


“It’s gonna be fine.” Daniel stated to his friend’s retreating back, and watched as his friend seemed to deflate.


Jack turned to Daniel and nodded. “I know… And Daniel?”




“About that other thing, I meant it. It really is a good thing.”


Daniel didn’t answer, but both knew they heard what the other hadn’t said. Walking towards the bridge, Jack let out a heavy sigh. “Come on, Danny boy. Work your geeky magic.”


Sam, who had been quietly listening in – not that it mattered, smiled softly and reached out towards Jack. Her hand passed through him like a ghost. She let out a deep breath.


“He will Jack.” Her mind turned towards the woman she had left in her lab. “They both will.”


                                                       * * * *

Back in the lab Vala was ready to throw something at the machine.


She knew the machine hadn't done anything to hurt Sam; she had been serious when she had said she thought that the machine was some sort of computer, but proving that was another matter. Sam had figured it out. But how? Vala hated the how. Dropping her head onto the table she let out a frustrated groan.


“You must relax.”


Vala lifted her head at the soothing voice of Teal’c. “Sorry?”


“You are forcing yourself. In my time with you, I’ve noticed all your best ideas come when you are not stressing yourself and let them flow through you.”


“I have good ideas?”


Teal’c smirked at her. “It has been known to happen. On occasion.” Vala smiled at her friend’s words.


“Yes, listen to Teal’c. Remember your note.” Sam encouraged. She knew Vala could do it; her friend was just too worried to think clearly. Vala had lost part of her confidence at Jack’s words and was trying to think like Sam instead of herself. Ironic, since she had inspired Sam with the answer in the first place. Plus, Sam was ready to get back to her dimension, they were having roast beef today and no way was she letting Cam get it all.


“Thank you, but I think I’m out of good ideas…”


“I do not believe that, Vala Mal Duran.”


“Of course you’re not.”


Sam and Teal’c reassured her.


Vala picked up Sam’s notes, eyes downcast. “This isn’t my area of expertise, Muscles. I can fix things, when I know what to expect. I mean… I know how to fix the Seraphim because my dad built it. I’ve had years to get to know it. It all looks amazing and clever because the ship’s technology is so different than anything out there, but I know it. This I don’t know. This is completely different. I just don't know if I can do it.”


“You can, my friend. You just have to believe you can.” Teal’c walked over and placed his hand on Vala’s shoulder. “I believe you can, as does Daniel Jackson.”


Vala smiled softly. “Well, don't you think Daniel’s a bit naïve?” Suppressing the urge to hug Vala, Sam chuckled – if only Vala had known Daniel before.


“I do not.”


“Yeah, me neither. Too trusting maybe.” Vala paused and bit her lip, then looked up and met her friend’s deep brown eyes. “Sorry.”


Sam was confused, not knowing why Vala was suddenly apologizing, but Teal’c obviously knew, as he just smiled and bowed his head.


“Just do not put yourself in that position again.”


“I’ll try not to. You’re scary when you’re mad and disappointed in me – makes me feel out of sorts.” Vala hugged her friend’s arm and closed her eyes, letting herself rest for a second, her mind letting itself be open to all thoughts. Then her eyes snapped open.


“Where’s Daniel?” Sam felt a sense of anxiousness at Vala’s words.


“I believe he is in his office. What is wrong?”


Vala jumped up and rushed out of the lab. “I think I know what happened to Samantha.”


Perking up, Sam followed Vala out of the room.


                                                       * * * *

“The mantle!”


Daniel’s head snapped up, as Vala ran into his office. “What?”


Breathless, Vala sought to explain. “The texts… They mentioned the mage, the chosen, the quest, and the power, but do you remember if they mention a mantle? A cloak?”


Daniel stared at Vala, but he was really reviewing the manuscripts mentally. He fought to remember everything he had studied in these last few weeks. And there it was.


Artorius ventured to the underworld to find the ten sacred objects… Artorius’s mantle, one of the ten items he retrieved from Annwfn, was thought to be one of his most coveted objects, said to have the power to render its wearer invisible.


“You think?” Daniel questioned at Vala, whose eyes were sparkling with anticipation. He then began flipping through his notes looking for the reference.


“Yes. Don’t you see, darling? In all the time we’ve been studying these manuscripts, there have been no mention of the machine at all. Or at least that’s what we thought because we were working under the assumption that it would outright say something about the machine. Quite stupid of us, I must say.”


Daniel paused and thought over the new information. “Actually, that makes sense, especially if the person writing this didn’t understand what the machine did. They would have bequeathed this power of invisibility to a cloak or mantle, a simpler object to make it easier for them to identify with.”


“Exactly! And after all isn’t that the best and easiest way to hid something in plain sight? Call it something else? Change its appearance? Let people believe it’s something it’s not? I’ve done it for years, most everyone that I’ve ever come across think the Seraphim is a hunk of junk.”


“Okay, that’s smart.” Daniel nodded.


“So Jack was right. Sam is invisible, in a way…” Vala perched herself on Daniel’s desk.


“In a way… what do you mean?”


“Well, if she was simply invisible, we could hear her, but since we can’t she must be…” Vala bit her thumbnail in thought, “Out of phase?”

“Out of phase?” Daniel’s skepticism was obvious.


She shrugged, “Not in line with our space time. The power source, before we powered it, we noticed it emitted a faint sort of radiation. Lepton radiation. Sam thought could possibly have something to do with how the machine worked, but we were too focused on how to power it to look further into it. But maybe it does, what if this radiation affects you by transferring your body to another place – if I remember Sam’s explanation correctly,” Vala paused, trying to remember what Sam had said, “certain forms of radiation have been known to change the frequencies of atoms, causing them to go out of phase. Shifts them or something… What if Sam found a way to trigger a reaction from the machine connected to the radiation. It could have very well affected Sam and caused her to go out of phase, since we are made of atoms, after all. It would mean we can’t see or hear her… but she’s still here…” At Daniel’s look Vala shrugged again, “It’s the only explanation I can come up with, I’m not a bloody scientist you know…”


Sam, who had followed Vala to Daniel’s office, felt like jumping up and down. “Yes, exactly. I’m out of phase, now just go back and get me in phase.”


“Okay… I’m willing to buy that… mostly because it the closest thing to an explanation we have.” Daniel and Vala smiled at each other and then Daniel frowned. “Okay, now we know where Sam is. How do we get her back?”


“Shit.” Vala’s face fell and Sam frowned – so close.


“Wait, if we’re right and Sam is just out of phase, that means we can’t see her but she can see us?” Sam saw a familiar clarity grow in Daniel’s eyes.


“I hope so.”


“It does.” Sam nodded.


“But maybe there’s something that can help us with that.” As Daniel smiled, Sam smiled too – they didn't call them the Geek Twins for nothing. “Come with me.” He grabbed Vala’s hand and led her out of the room.


“Daniel?” Vala questioned as he lead her down the corridors.


                                                       * * * *

Sam stood impatiently in her lab as Daniel explained his theory to Vala and Teal’c, who had remained in the lab waiting for his friend’s return.


“You and Sam both believe that the device is interactive. That it’s a workstation or computer of some sort.”


“Yes, except it has no visual interface. We thought we might have to attach it to a secondary display to see the information.” Vala fingered the machine, wishing it would just give her all its secrets.


“Maybe you don’t.” Daniel stared at the machine and hoped he was right about this.




“Maybe there is a display, we just can’t see it.”


“Like Sam…” Her eyes brightened as she met Daniel’s, his own clear and sharp.


He nodded. “Like Sam. It stands to reason that if someone wanted to keep the information a secret they would have wanted it in a place no one could see it but them, and the only thing that would be the same on both sides would be –’’


“The machine!” Vala exclaimed. “You would need the machine to be interactive on both sides, because here is the access point, but all the information would be stored there!”


“And if the machine is interactive on both sides…”


At Daniel and Vala’s words, Sam understood where Daniel was going with this and began clicking the keys on the machine. Vala pushed herself back from where she sat near the machine in full on astonishment.


The three other occupants of the room stared at the phantom clicking. Vala was the first to regain the power of speech, “You all saw that too, right?!”






“Samantha, love! Are you okay? Press this button if you’re okay.” Vala pointed at a button and less than second later the button was pressed. “Oh thank the gods! Jack won't kill me now.”


Sam laughed at her friend. Daniel and Teal’c just gave Vala amused looks.


“Okay, Sam, besides the interactivity is there anything else on your side? Um, lets call this button ‘yes’ and this one ‘no’.” Daniel pointed to the buttons and again a phantom click pressed down the ‘yes’ button.


“Is it attached to the machine?”




“Is it a display?”




Daniel shared a look with Vala, and despite the odds they both hope the next answer would be yes too. “Can you read it?”




Vala sighed. “It’s in Tau’rian, isn't it?”




Daniel dropped his head, of course it was… “Okay, Sam this is what we’re going to do… We’re still figuring out how to get you out of this, but for now lets see if we can't work on translating this information in the mean time. I’m going to point at one letter at time, and you’re going to have to tell me yes or no, since we don’t know what pressing random button will do.”


Sam sighed. This was going to take a while.


“Darling? Shouldn't we tell Jack and Cam that Sam is okay?” Vala leaned over Daniel’s shoulder and pressed the ‘yes’ button with a smile.


Daniel turned to her and smirked, “You just wanna back on Jack’s good side.”


“Well, duh, darling. Plus I sorta feel sorry for everyone on the bridge right now.”


“Go call, but then see if you can work out how to get this reversed.”


“Will do. Wait, where would Cam be?”


“Do not worry, my friend, I will find Commander Mitchell and give him the good news.”


“Thanks, Muscles.”


Sam smiled. “Now we’re getting somewhere…” Looking at what Daniel was pointing at, she tilted her head towards the screen.




                                                       * * * *

“Calling Captain Jack,” Vala’s voice came through the intercom on the bridge where the entire crew winced at the words. The captain hated being called that.

“Walter?” Jack closed his eyes, remembering to breathe and that Daniel and most of the ship liked the woman.


“Yes, sir.”


“Was that Vala calling me that stupid name again?”


Walter Harriman just took a breath before he answered his captain. “Yes, sir.”


Jack sighed, he really wasn’t angry with Vala anymore, but did she still have to call him that name out loud. “Patch her through.”


“Yes, sir.”




“Captain, I have some good news.”


Jack sat straighter in his chair. “Lay it on me.”


“Dirty, captain.”


“Vala.” Jack ignored all the snickers from his crew.


“Sorry, but I really have good news. We found Sam.”


“That’s great!” Jack stood up and walked to the com system, “Let me talk to her.”


“Oh, um, you can’t.”


“Can’t? What do you mean I can’t?”


Vala cleared her throat. “Well, we found Sam, we just haven’t gotten her back.”


Jack shared a look with his head controller, “Did you understand that?”


“Not at all, sir.”


“Yeah, me neither.” He addressed Vala again, “What do you mean by that?”


“Sam’s out of phase, Jack. We can only communicate with her via the machine right now, but I’m still working on getting her back. She’s okay though, she’s helping Daniel translate the information on the other side, where she is.” Vala sounded completely certain, but all Jack could muster was a look of disbelief.


“Out of phase?”


“It’s like being in an alternate dimension.”


Jack’s confusion still held residence. “Alternate dimensions? What are we, a sci-fi show?”


“Jack love, you live on a space ship.”


“So?” Jack gave Walter a look and the man had to fight to keep a straight face. “I’ll be right down.”


“Aye, aye.”


“Walter, I should be right back. Call me if anything comes up.”


“Yes, sir.”


                                                       * * * *

Teal’c found Cam in the med bay like Daniel had earlier. The young commander was getting some ointment applied on the bruise on his rib, and he could hear the young doctor scolding him.


“Maybe you should stop picking fights with Teal’c, Cam. After all, the last couple times you’ve needed me to patch you up have been because of him.”


Teal’c raised an eyebrow, but just watched the exchange.


Cam rolled his eyes. “Castiana was a misunderstanding, and yesterday was because he was teaching me to staff fight.”


“Ah, well, as long as you have good reason for getting beat up.” Caro smiled soothingly at Cam as she finished and motioned him to put his shirt back on.


“It’s not getting beat up if it's learning.” Cam winked.


“Ah,” Caro rolled her eyes, “like I said, if you have a good reason.”


“You know, I know what you’re doing.” Standing, Cam followed Caro around the room.


“And what am I doing?”


“You’re trying to distract me from worrying.”


“And what makes you say that?” Caro typed some information on her data pad, avoiding Cam’s eyes.


“You’re not usually this nice to me when I come in with… what do you call them ‘irresponsible injuries caused by my flyboy cockiness’.” Leaning down, he smirked at the empathic doctor.


Caro bit her lip. “I don’t call them that all the time. And how do you know I’m not just trying to distract you from your worry, but because it actually distracts me…”


It was then that Cam really seemed to look at Caro, now worried for a different reason. They all knew that even though Caro was trained for many things, she also had some trouble with her empathic abilities, especially controlling them before she joined the crew. Even now if things got too hot sometimes, Caro was prone to horrible migraines. “Is it? You can tell me if it is.”


And now Caro both felt Cam’s increased worry and new guilt, on top of her own – she hadn't meant to worry him more. “No, you’re not. You were right I was just trying to distract you.” She smiled, and then picked up on the calm relief from across the room. She turned to see Teal’c by the doors. “I think somebody’s got some good news.” Cam looked questioningly at her and she motioned to Teal’c.


“Teal’c, what’s up?” Cam asked, aware of the abrupt subject change and letting it pass.


“I have good news, Commander Mitchell, Dr. Lam. Vala Mal Duran and Daniel Jackson have managed contact with Samantha Carter.”


Cam grinned wide. “That’s great, Sam’s okay?”


Teal’c nodded. “She appears to be. She is apparently out of phase with this space time but is able to communicate through the machine.”


Cam and Caro looked at each other in mild confusion. “But she’s okay?” Cam asked again. His voice held both relief and worry.


“It appears so. Vala Mal Duran is still trying to return her.”


“Okay, I think I gotta check this out.” Cam headed out but turned back to Caro before he left. “You wanna come?”


Caro smiled. He was still worried about her. “No I’m fine, and with Daniel, Vala and probably Jack in the room, I think I’m better off here.”


“You may have a point. I’ll see you later.” Following Teal’c, Cam gave one last look to Caro and left the room.


                                                       * * * *

As Daniel and Sam worked on the translations, Vala kept working on how to get Sam back. As she looked through the readings that the machine she was giving out, she tilted her head at the electromagnetic outputs the machine had given out before. They were different. Checking them, she noticed they had stabilized. She stared at where Daniel was and then she noticed the note she had left Sam. If Sam had seen her note and checked the EM outputs, that might explain this new difference in them.


Vala grinned and began running the last program that they had set up. There it was. Sam had written an algorithm to stabilize the electromagnetic outputs, which meant that if Vala could correctly reverse them; they would be able to get Sam back.


“Daniel!” Both Daniel and Sam looked from their work towards Vala.




“I think I figured out what Sam did to trigger the machine.” Vala sounded excited and Sam felt like jumping up and down. Finally!


Daniel on the other hand just looked mildly apprehensive, but also curiously hopeful.


Vala ignored the skepticism on her Daniel’s face and explained. “I had to run a reverse scan on all the energy fluctuations that we’ve been recording, put them through a program that Sam designed to read and decipher them, I think… I don’t really know, I wasn’t really paying attention when she explained it to me, “ Vala waved her hand and then bit her lip, “Umm, sorry Sam.” Vala apologized to her out of phase friend and Sam just shook her head. She had known that Vala hadn't really been paying attention that day; Daniel had joined them for lunch. “Well, anyways,” Vala continued, “I managed to isolate the algorithms that she used to synchronize the energy emissions that were coming form the machine.”


Sam smiled.


Daniel looked confused at Vala. “What!?”


Both Vala and Sam sighed. “Don’t you see, darling! That means if I can counteract Sam’s algorithm from my data pad, get the emission to return to their normal frequencies… that could very well reverse the process.” Vala was practically bouncing in her seat, but Daniel sighed. It wasn’t that he didn't trust Vala; he did, a little more than he was comfortable with, but he had also learned that an excited Vala was normally followed by well, some sort of calamity. And the last thing they needed was another trip to the med bay. Vala, unfortunately, could read his face too well. “Oh, just give me a second… You’ll see, this is brilliant. And when Jack gets here you’re gonna have to tell him how brilliant I am.” Vala turned to her data pad and began working on reversing algorithm.


Daniel took a deep breath and focused on the raven haired woman sitting behind him.


Sam looked on and bit her lip, because like Daniel, she doubted this could work. It was a good plan, but this machine’s systems were so intricate that she wasn’t sure that just reversing the algorithm would fix everything.


Vala on the other hand, finished her work and smiled. “That should do it.” She clicked the button.


Too focused on the data pad in front of her, Vala didn’t notice the bright light that engulfed Daniel and the area around the machine. Daniel did. He blinked and opened his eyes to see Vala still focused on the data pad, sighing he turned and his eyes widened.




Sam smiled brightly at her friend. “Daniel!”


Turning, Daniel grinned at Vala. He was this close to hugging her. “Vala! I will never doubt you again!”


Vala turned, ready to greet her friend, but then frowned and closed her eyes dejected before she opened them again. Daniel could see the uneasiness in her gaze and felt a stone drop in his stomach.


“Daniel… Darling?”


Daniel turned to Sam, “You’re kidding me…” Sam shrugged awkwardly.


“Darling? Can you hear me?” Vala walked towards the machine and straight through Daniel. For a millisecond their bodies were one, invariably interconnected, and though neither felt it and only one was aware of it, the moment embodied what their lives had come to be. A single moment that had intertwined their lives, like a drop of water in a lake and the ripples would extend farther than both could comprehend.


But neither knew that, and so after Vala stepped through him, Daniel dropped his head and sighed. Sam matched it.


Vala puffed out her cheeks and exhaled. “If you can hear me, press the button?”


Sam, who was closer, pressed the button for her best friend.


“Oops… Sorry, darling. I promise I’ll get it right this time.” Vala tilted her head to where she hoped Sam and Daniel were and gave a big smile.

Daniel who was right next to her, smiled at Sam, and then looked at the brunette. “I’m gonna kill her.”


Just as Daniel said that, Jack walked into the room followed by Cam and Teal’c.


“Hey, where’s Daniel?”


Vala smiled toothily and awkwardly at the arriving men.


“Where’s Daniel, Vala?” Jack just looked at woman.


“Funny you should ask that.” Vala avoided looking Jack straight in the eyes.


Teal’c raised an eyebrow.


“Please don’t tell me you shrunk Daniel too…”


“First off, I never shrunk Sam, and secondly I haven’t shrunk Daniel.”


Cam’s eyes widened. “You’re kidding right?”


Vala stood and wiped her hands on her pants. “I’ll get them back.” She smiled. “Promise, but I think this would go better if I was left to my thoughts.”


“Why do those words scare me?” Jack rubbed his chin.


Vala glared at him, and began shooing them out. “Oh, just trust me.”


Jack and Daniel scoffed at the same time, “Sure...”


As Cam, Jack and Teal’c once again left the room, Vala turned to the seemingly empty room and rested her weight against the wall. So much for getting back on Jack’s good side.


Sam watched the scene and shrugged, turning to Daniel she quirked her lips. “On the bright side, now you can translate this much faster.”


Daniel half glared, half rolled his eyes at his oldest friend. “Joy.”



CHAPTER XI:  Concrete Sounds


“Well, I’ve thought about it, and it might be just a simple matter of reversing the process. I’m on it, darling.” Vala gave Sam and Daniel a quick, somewhat mad smile before heading back to her data pad.


Daniel couldn't help but furrow his brow at her. “Is that supposed to be reassuring?” He turned to Sam.


Sam shrugged. “I think so.”




As Vala kept working on their problem, Daniel now focused all his attention on the writing on the translucent screen in front of him. Next to him Sam stood and listened as he explained what the glowing orange writing was telling him.


“Okay, this is interesting. It seems to be a log of some kind… Whoever built this was conducting research on some kind of new invention.” Daniel stared at the screen, and began clicking on it to read, “It looks like it was something big… they went to great lengths to try and hide it, and the machine was built for the sole purpose of keeping the research a secret. They needed a way to conceal it from…” Daniel trailed of again; part of him couldn’t believe what he was reading and was suddenly wishing that Vala was here to see this.


Sam noticed the confused astonishment on Daniel’s face. “Daniel, they need a way to conceal it from…”


“Their fellow Ascended beings.” At Daniel’s words, both he and Sam looked at each other in shock.


“Wait, you mean to say that whoever built this thing was Ascended?”


“Looks like… They must have regained human form to perform this research.” Daniel frowned in deep thought, “I remember Oma once telling me that it is possible to come back from Ascension, but it’s a risky process, not many choose to do it.”


“Then whoever built this must have really believed that what they were doing was worth the risk.”


Daniel nodded as he read through more of the log. Sam was right, whatever this person had been building must have been important if they had taken the trouble to build a machine for the sole purpose of keeping it a secret.


“What do you suppose was so important that it would have led someone to give up their Ascension?” Sam asked.


Daniel’s eyes read swiftly through the data and just there towards the bottom of the screen was Sam’s answer. “A weapon.”


“A weapon?”


“A weapon capable of destroying an Ascended being.” And even as the words left Daniel’s mouth, neither he nor Sam could believe it.


A moment later Sam’s brain picked up on the one important subtlety in everything Daniel was saying. “But according to everything we know, Anubis is only half-Ascended.”


Daniel turned towards Sam, meeting his friend’s blue eyes with the same questioning fear. “I know.”


“Then this weapon wasn’t built to stop him.” Sam spoke and the gravity of her answer covered her and Daniel. Because if it wasn’t meant for Anubis then who was it meant for?


“No, I don’t think it was.” Daniel agreed.


“Then who was it built for?”


Daniel clicked on the screen. “I don’t… Wait. Here’s something about an enemy, someone that they believed represented a significant threat to the galaxy, including the First Ones – the Ancients – who refused to take any real action to protect the galaxy against them and the weapon was means of doing what they were not willing to do.”


“So they Descended to build the weapon?”


“More or less. They Descended and then found a way to hide it from the others, by shifting this research to another dimension.”


“So did they ever complete the weapon? Did they beat this enemy?” Sam asked.


Daniel sighed as he read. “See right now this is all technical and way over my head. I wish you understood Tau’rian or that Vala was here, instead of there.” Daniel looked over his shoulder to where Vala was blowing her bangs out of her face and looking over some readings. His eyes smiled. “And I don’t know…”


“Don’t know?” Sam smiled at both her friends, her head turning back to Daniel. “Don’t know what?”


“Oh, it doesn’t say if they defeated this enemy, but if it took all this to build to the weapon, I’m hoping they did.”


“Me too.” Both stood silently as Daniel kept reading.


“These notes seem to indicate that he hid the weapon on Tau’ri, but then had to relocate it to…” Daniel clicked the screen to shift to the next page where he and Sam saw seven glyphs that the entire galaxy would have understood. A gate address.


“A gate address to where they hid the weapon.”


Sam smiled at the glowing yellow gate address on the screen, particularly at the symbol of origin. “Um, Daniel the gate address originates from Tau’ri.”


“Yeah, I noticed, but I’m sure you can figure out how to pinpoint its location in space.” Daniel grinned at Sam, to which she rolled her eyes. “And Vala told me that there’s a correlation between gate addresses and her language. She can help translate if need be.”


“Well that’s nice.”


                                                       * * * *

Cam stood in front of Teal’c in the gym.


“So do you think Vala will get them back?”


Teal’c struck his staff forward for Cam to block. “I have much trust in Vala Mal Duran’s abilities.”


Cam swiped his staff forward, Teal’c neatly sidestepping the blow. “Do you think that she’ll get them back before Jack’s neck vein pops?”


Busy ducking the left hook Teal’c swung, Cam fell victim to the low right blow of the staff. On the floor he looked at the larger man.


Teal’c’s brow rose. “I would hope so for Captain O’Neill’s sake.”


“Did you just make a joke?” Cam pushed himself back up, spinning the staff, with a smile.


Teal’c just looked at the man, striking again. “According to Vala Mal Duran, I am very humorous.”


Cam blocked it, still smiling. “You did.”


                                                       * * * *

Sam and Daniel were still reading the information on the display when they both heard a thump and turned back to were Vala had dropped her head on the desk. “Sam! Why did you have to get stuck out of phase?! You’re so much better at this.”


Looking over to Vala, Daniel’s eyes softened with a fondness that Sam hadn't seen in ages and smiled. She was working so hard trying to make everything better. “You think she’ll figure it out?” He asked Sam.


Sam’s eyes followed Daniel’s to Vala and then moved to rest on Daniel himself. Sometimes she wondered how Daniel could be so oblivious to certain things. “I think so. She’s better than she gives herself credit for; she’s the one that got me thinking about the EM outputs in the first place. So anything else?”


Daniel turned back to the machine and the display. “Mostly it’s all technical stuff that Vala should be able to understand.”


“Nothing on Anubis?” Sam stared pensively at the display.


“No. Why?”


“Well, Oma sent us on this mission to stop Anubis, and he’s only half Ascended. But this weapon we’ve been talking about was made to destroy an Ascended being. That would mean that when we finally find the weapon we’d have to reconfigure it for a half-Ascended being like Anubis. I was just wondering if it said anything about that.”


“You know, I hate it when you make a point.” Daniel looked at the screen and continued reading. “So far nothing, but it could also be that whatever we need to make the weapon work for Anubis, we’ll find when we find the weapon.”


“I hope so.”


On the other side of the room Vala kept working with the algorithms. She had already run a couple tests runs, but all they tests showed was that if she implemented them on the machine they would lose most of the power supply would be lost again, and that was the last thing anybody needed. She sighed. She hated this machine. Why was it so easy for them to cross over from this dimension to the other, but so hard for her to bring them back? Whoever built this thing must have been able to cross back from the other side.


From the other side.


The words slammed into Vala’s head and she felt like laughing and crying all at once.


From the other side. You got there from this side, and got back from the other side. So simple. Standing, she made her way over to the machine.


“Sam? Daniel? Can you hear me?”


Sam and Daniel pressed the ‘yes’ button.


“I think I know how to get you two back. Unfortunately, I can’t actually get you two back.”


Confused, both friends stared at Vala. “What?” Then realized she couldn’t hear them and waited for the solution.


Vala smiled enigmatically, curling her lips to the side at a seemingly empty room. “How do you think the person that built this got back from where you two are without any help?”


Sam laughed and faced Daniel. “You’re kidding?”


Daniel still stared at Vala, and felt like smacking himself on the head or hugging her. He went back to the machine and began shifting through the data. And there it was: their way back. He read it and turned to Vala, repeating his earlier words, “Vala, I’ll never doubt you again.”


“I take it she’s right.” Sam looked at the screen Daniel was reading in a vain attempt to understand if he had found their way out of out-of-phase-hell, as she was sure Cam would have put it.


“She’s right. There’s a sequence that deactivates the machine.” Meeting Sam’s eyes, he began entering the sequence. “Here goes nothing.”


Daniel entered the sequence and as he pressed the last button a bright light once again enveloped him and Sam. Vala blinked at the light and then when she focused her sight again, she saw that where there had been nothing before, now stood Sam and Daniel. With a small but excited yelp she leap up from her seat and wrapped her arms around Daniel.


“You’re back!” She exclaimed, clinging to Daniel like a child clings to their favorite stuffed toy. Daniel just let himself hold and be held by the excited woman, because he was glad to be back too. He was glad that his hands and his body didn’t go through everything and everyone, like a ghost’s did. He was glad that he could touch, and holding Vala right now was anything but bad. Behind him, Sam stood with a soft smile, and when Vala opened her eyes, eyes that relished having Daniel back, she met her friend’s blue and amused gaze with a smile. She detached from Daniel and hugged Sam with an equal strength.


“I’m so glad that you’re both okay. You are okay, right?”


Sam smiled and leaned over to push down on the ‘yes’ button. Vala laughed and turned to Daniel.


“We need to call Jack.” Her voice was steady and decisive; she wanted to get off Jack’s black list.


“We are,” Daniel agreed moving towards the com, “but then we need to talk about what I read on the machine. There are some things you need to see.”


Vala nodded. “Don’t forget to tell him how brilliant I am.”


                                                       * * * *

If Jack was a hugger, he’d be hugging every person in the room. Vala stood next to Sam and Daniel, an in phase Sam and Daniel. Yep, if Jack was a hugger he’s be hugging every person in the room. But Jack wasn’t a hugger; he was a sarcastic banterer and sometimes an awkward back-patter. So at the threshold of Sam’s lab he did what he did best.


“So you’re back?” Jack leaned casually staring at his returned Geek Twins.


Daniel smirked. “We’re back.”


“Good.” Jack’s brown eyes took in Sam and Daniel. “Don’t do that again.”


“Ah, sorry, but we can’t promise that.” Daniel answered back.


“And why not?”


“Well, Vala and I have to go back and finish reading and translating the information on the other side.”


“But now we know how to get back and forth, so it will be okay.” Sam assuaged the worry she saw in Jack’s face.


“You sure?”


“We’re sure, Jack.” Sam reassured. She stepped closer, and gently patted Jack’s arm as she headed over to the workbench. Looking down to where Sam’s hand had just been Jack fought the relief that rushed through him. They were okay. Sam and Daniel were okay and now he didn’t have to kill Vala. All in all a good day.

“Well, as long as we’re sure.”


“We are, love.” Vala smiled, relief was still obvious on her face, and Jack smiled. He knew he hadn’t been the only one worrying.


“Hey you’re back!” They heard from the door and turned to see Cam rush into the room and wrap Sam in a bear hug. Sam laughed as Cam lifted her of the ground.


“Yeah…. We’re back. Mind putting me down?” She patted Cam’s shoulder with a bright smile and laughed.


Dropping Sam back on the floor, Cam blushed. “Sorry, got a little over-excited there.”


“It’s okay, Cam.”


“So what’s the plan now?”




“Yeah, what do we do now with that?” Cam motioned towards the machine, which still lay smugly on Sam’s work table– it still held secrets but now they were one step closer to uncovering them.


“Well, I now have to see what has Daniel’s panties in a twist, so back out of phase we go.” Vala jumped up to sit on the workbench, swinging her legs like a kid.


It took Jack less than a second to shoot down that idea. “I don’t think so.”


“Jack!” Daniel and Vala exclaimed at the same time and then turned to each other.


“No, no more out of phaseness for today. All day the three of you have been either working with this machine, stuck out of phase because of this machine, or trying to figure how the damn thing actually works. You two,” Jack pointed to Sam and Vala, “have been running yourselves ragged because of this thing for weeks. And then today, two of you get stuck out of phase. Uh uh, no more.” Daniel, Sam and Vala all made looks of oncoming protest, so Jack clarified things, “No more machine today. For the rest of the day all you three can do is sit, eat and sleep. That’s it. Tomorrow you can all go back to this craziness, but not today. Not today.” Jack ran his hand through his hair, and wondered how much grayer it got today. He knew they probably didn’t think it was fair, but right now he didn’t really give a rat’s ass. It was selfish, but he just wanted one night of not worrying about his crew, his family, and if that meant locking Sam’s lab and Daniel’s office, then so be it.


Sam and Daniel shared and look and nodded to each other. They both knew that Jack worried more than he let on, so for him to say this they knew it was time to take a break, at least for the night.


Vala was poised to argue, but then Daniel gripped her shoulder and she met his eyes and looked back at Jack. Nodding, she backed down too. “Okay, but only for tonight.”


“That’s what I said. Cam, make sure they all leave the lab.” Heading back to the bridge, Jack let out a sigh. At least for tonight they’d all be okay.


                                                       * * * *

Sam informed everybody she’d be soaking for the next hour in her quarters after she grabbed some roast beef from the mess hall. Daniel shared a look with Vala before he headed to his own quarters, leaving Vala with Cam.


“So what d’you wanna do on your ‘night off’?”


Vala quirked her lips. “Do you know where Teal’c is?”


“Last I saw, he was giving a lesson to Rylan and Evans. Why…” Cam did not like the look in her silver eyes.


“I have some energy that I feel the need to burn off.” Grabbing Cam’s arm, she led them down to the gym level.


“You know, you scare me when you look like that.”




“It’s frighteningly reminiscent of Teal’c.”


“You know he has been teaching me for the past five years.” At Vala’s words Cam paled, but they continued on their way.


When they reached the gym they watched as Teal’c just finished beating Evans, who now lay on the mat panting. They watched as the larger man extended his hand and helped up the exhausted younger man.


“Hey, Muscles!”


Teal’c turned and nodded to his friend. “I gather that Daniel Jackson and Samantha Carter have rejoined us.”


“They have, safe and sound too, and since our dear captain has enforced upon us a night off, I thought I’d see how lessons with Cameron have been going.” Vala’s tone only increased Cam’s apprehension, which sky-rocketed at Teal’c’s raised eyebrow and smirk.


“I see. Commander Mitchell, if you will join us again, Vala Mal Duran will be your opponent this time so I can assess your progress thus far.” Next to Teal’c, Vala stood leaning on a staff with a smirk and Cam knew that he’d be visiting the med bay again tomorrow.


                                                       * * * *

Hours later as Vala headed to her room feeling the satisfying soreness of hours of sparring, she felt the day catching up with her. Stepping into her quarters she looked around at the still strange room. It was nothing like her room on her ship. It still felt cold and impersonal. She was used to the warmth that the ship gave her, and not just the physical warmth – the Seraphim was her home, it was all that was left of her home and family.


Heading to the shower, she turned it on as high as it could go and stepped in. She didn’t know how long she stood under the hot water, but she couldn't bring herself to care. Ever since she had moved onto this ship her showers had grown increasingly longer. Finally she closed the water flow, dried herself off, and headed back to the room. Dressing in the many layers that she had grown to need during the night, she also picked up the thermal blankets that Caro had given her.

On her bed she wrapped herself in the blankets and looked out at space. She had loved the stars as a child and had grown to love them even more in her travels. She used to stay up late and stare at them for no reason save for the fact that she loved them. Now she stayed up and stared at them because sleep now hurt her more than it helped.


Vala stayed awake and stared at the stars outside her quarter’s window until her body finally succumbed to the rest it craved.


She’s only been asleep for twenty minutes before she was shivering, tossing and turning in her bed. She wrapped the blankets tighter around her until she looked like a caterpillar wrapped in a cocoon, a frozen caterpillar. She tossed and turned for about two hours getting winks of sleep at times, then finally she lifted her body up into a sitting position and dropped her head into the cradle of her arms. If she went back in the morning looking skeletal again, Teal’c would not hesitate in locking her in the med bay every night until Sam’s fixed her room. But she couldn’t make herself get up and go to the med bay; Caro was probably asleep and she didn’t exactly get on well with Rygel.


Dropping back to her bed, she curled to her side and clutched at her pillow. There was only one thought that kept flashing in her mind, but it was a treacherous thought. A thought that burned through her and she was fighting to push it back. A thought that she wanted to embrace but it held too many variables – variables dangerous to her and this whole situation.


Still, it was the best nights sleep I’ve had since I’ve gotten here…


Biting her lip, she closed her eyes. She stood up slowly then looked to her door as if it held the answer she needed before stepping towards it.


Vala padded quietly through the ship, like an apparition that one finds in the middle of a forest gliding over a lake. As she reached her destination she knocked on the door and waited.


                                                       * * * *

Daniel opened the door, shrugging his shirt back on, to see Vala. She was in thick looking sweatpants, a black sweater, and a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. With a smirk she raised an eyebrow.


“You're kidding me, right?”


"Oh come on, darling. Please."


"No way."


"Why not? It's not like we haven't done it before."


"There were extenuating circumstances before."


“And they still apply.” She sighed and leaned against the door, pleading. "Please Daniel. Last night was the first time since I've been on this ship that I slept for the full night.” She rested her head against his door and he could see how tired she was.


Daniel really hated to admit that she had a point but, Vala, in his room... In no way could that be a good idea.


“I thought Sam was going to help you fix your room, what happened to that?”


“Daniel,” Vala sighed, she should have known he would be difficult about this. Didn't he know there was a ship full of men that would definitely not kick her out? “Between the machine, getting you and Sam out of phase today, and Jack banning us from doing any work tonight, we didn’t exactly get to it today. She is going to help me, but there are other things, more important things, that need our attention.”


“More important than your health?” The words spilled out of him, and he smacked himself inwardly. Damn.


Vala smiled. “See, you do care...” She leaned closer to him, “I promise to be good. Just sleep.”


Their eyes met in challenge and, “Just sleep.” Daniel acquiesced as he brushed the bangs that had fallen into her eyes and Vala grinned wide, skipping into the room.


"Just sleep." He reminded her.


Inside they walked to the bed. It was wider than the couch in the office, two people could fit fine on it, but Daniel was all too aware that for Vala to maintain an apt body temperature throughout the night meant close proximity. Standing on opposite sides of the bed they looked at each other. Vala raised an eyebrow; Daniel sighed, shrugged off his shirt, pulling the covers back all the while ignoring Vala’s teasing “rowr”.


Smiling, Vala shed her own top leaving her in a tight black t-shirt that already had Daniel trying to be a gentleman and look away, but then she pulled her sweats off. She only had on a pair of very short and very tight black shorts underneath.


"Hey there! What do you think you’re doing?"


Flinging her sweats to the chair, she turned to back to him, "Getting ready to sleep."


"In that?"


“Of course in this. Body heat, Daniel. And I have to admit, ever since I’ve been on this ship I’ve hated to sleep in all these layers, they’re quite the bothersome I’ll have you know. Make me feel all confined.”


Trying not to focus on the expanse of leg, pale and smooth, that was now available for his eyes to feast on, Daniel focused on her face. This idea was getting worse by the second.


"Fine, but no funny stuff." He gave her a pointed look.


Vala bounced onto the bed. "None whatsoever. I don't even think ‘funny stuff’ would be appreciated here."


Rolling his eyes, he settled onto the bed, "Vala…"


She made a motion like she was zipping her lips and winked at him. He smiled. Minx. Lying down on the bed he extended his right arm and turned to look at her. Legs bent, hair falling into her face, arms propping her up and biting her lip she looked surprisingly shy and young. Not for the first time Daniel saw there was more to the vixen space pirate she played. He smiled softly.


"Don't tell me you're getting cold feet now – no pun intended.” He teased, knowing she wouldn't back down from the challenge. She didn't disappoint. Moving closer to him much like she had done the other night she settled on his shoulder, and an arm was flung around his waist. He pulled the covers over them, and again she surprised him by reaching up to brush her lips near his mouth. There was shyness in her actions that had him tightening the arm he held her with, and she tucked herself into him closing her eyes.


“How come you don’t want to use the heating beds?” Daniel asked quietly.


“I like you better.” Vala mumbled into his skin.


Less than five minutes later she was asleep. As he moved his left arm to rest under his head he felt her shift closer into him, a leg getting thrown over his thighs. Daniel looked down at her, shook his head and smiled. Vala.


                                                       * * * *

Jack ran into Caro by the guest quarters. “Hey doc, what’s up?”


Caro looked at Jack and turned back to the door. “Vala didn't show up in the med bay tonight. I know she’s too stubborn to admit she needs help, so I thought I’d come,”


“And bully her…” Jack finished for the young woman, smirking.


“Convince her,” Caro corrected with a small smile, “to come in.”


“Right… You were taught well by your predecessor.”


“Top marks.” Caro said dryly, still staring at the door.


“So unless you suddenly can see through walls, why are you just standing there?”


Caro tilted her head. “I can’t feel her.”


Jack’s worry spiked, and he tensed. “What?! Is she…”


Reading Jack, Caro was quick to correct. “No, no. She’s not… I just can’t sense her; I don’t think she’s in there, or she knows how to completely block me out – which is pretty much impossible.”


The second Caro had said that she didn’t think Vala was in her room Jack relaxed; he was pretty sure he knew where she was.


Sensing the amusement from Jack, Caro turned to him. “Captain? Jack? Do you know where she is?”


“I have a sneaking suspicion.” Jack just smiled, and slowly, at the smug amusement and awareness she was sensing, Caro understood.


“Oh…” Caro’s smile grew to match Jack’s. “Sooner than I anticipated, but I’m not entirely surprised.”


“Come on, I’ll walk you to your quarters.” Jack offered his arm. “And maybe we’ll pass by the main quarters and you can check on your patient.”


Giggling, Caro shook her head following. “You’re a bad influence, captain.”


“I know.”


                                                       * * * *

The next morning Vala woke up feeling the most rested she had in days. Snuggling closer into the warmth, she asked the Seraphim to turn on its low lights. When it didn't, she lay confused for a second before she remembered. She wasn't on her ship. Then she remembered the events of the night before, and smiled. Opening her eyes she noticed that she and Daniel must have shifted in their sleep, because she was now resting on her side and he was wrapped around her.


Vala smiled. Daniel Jackson, her own personal blanket. She liked the sound of that.


Shifting her body, she became conscious of just how closely Daniel was wrapped around her. His naked chest was to her back, her legs were held tightly between his, and his left arm was slung around her waist keeping her secure against him, while the hand attached to said arm had snuck under her top. It laid flat against her stomach and ribs, its thumb resting sinfully close to her breast. Vala took a deep breath and tried to get out from the tight grip that held her. Unfortunately, her plan backfired and only served in having Daniel groan sleepily and tighten his grip, his thumb moving closer to her breast. Vala shivered and could practically feel her body temperature rising. If she could bottle this, she'd never be cold again. She let out an involuntary sigh and tried to move again. Nothing. Biting her lip, she turned her face towards Daniel, "Daniel… Daniel, I need to get up."


He groaned again and buried his head in her neck. Laughing softly, Vala managed to twist and fully face him. He was so cute.


"Daniel, really, time to get up." She wiggled to gain some more breathing space and tapped his nose. Slowly, his eyes blinked open a couple of times before he focused on her. Moaning, he turned onto his back, taking her with him. Sprawled over his chest, Vala laughed again, "Wow, I would have thought you to be a morning person."


"Surprise," he mumbled and covered his eyes with the arm that had been securing her to him.


Finally freed, Vala put her hand on either side of Daniel’s torso, leaning up and straddling his hips she patted his chest. “Well, I'll let you sleep in, but after breakfast we need to work on what you read.”


Sleepily nodding, he half patted, half rubbed her leg. "M'kay, see you later."


Gods, he was adorable. On impulse, Vala bent down and pressed her lips quietly against his. The kiss, impulsive as it was, ended up being surprisingly chaste mostly a soft sliding of lips that shocked the woman who had herself initiated it. Gently pulling back she looked into his sleepy blue eyes, before her silver ones widened and she bolted off the bed.


As she was about to leave the room, he seemed to have realized what had just happened.


"Did you just kiss me?" His voice was soft and shocked.


Vala turned her neck back and grinned, rushing out. "It was only fair, darling. You managed to cop a feel."


"Huh... What? What’d I feel?"


Vala left the room cursing her stupidity.


                                                       * * * *

At breakfast Sam curiously watched Vala. Her new raven-haired friend was thoughtfully munching on her food with an odd and, in Sam’s opinion, rather suspect smile that would then quickly transform into a pensive frown. Sam wanted to ask, but they were sitting with Cam, who could barely keep a secret on a good day, and Siler, who was quite possibly the biggest gossip on the ship next to Bill and Rygel, was just behind them.


Taking a sip from her juice, Sam leaned towards Vala, “Later you’re going to have to tell me what that’s all about.” Vala just looked back in confusion, but Sam could clearly see that the woman knew exactly what she was talking about.


“What what’s is about?” Cam asked. Sam had that look in her eye and he knew she knew something.


Vala answered for the blonde. “Nothing. Nothing at all.” She gave Sam a look.


Sam grinned. “Yeah, nothing.”


“Good morning all.” The group heard from above their heads as Teal’c sat down.


Vala just reached over and stole some of his eggs along before greeting him properly. “Morning!”


“Morning, Teal’c.”


“Morning, big guy.”


“What are your plans today, Samantha Carter, Vala Mal Duran? Have you finished with the machine?”


Sam nodded. “Yep, at least I am. Vala and Daniel are probably going to be spending a couple hours translating and trying to understand what the notes said, but I am finite.”


“Thanks for reminding me, I had almost forgotten how much Daniel loves notes.”


“No problem,” Sam gave a cheeky grin, “because now I can focus on the fun stuff and start seeing how we can replicate the cloaking capabilities, and adjusting your room so you can sleep better.” At Sam’s last words, Vala almost blushed, but instead pressed her lips together and avoided eye contact. Sam caught on and struggled not to grin like a mad woman. They were so talking later.


“I can’t believe you call that fun stuff. So you’re still holed up in your lab?” Cam frowned at the news.


“Sorry,” Sam smiled sweetly.


“No, you’re not.” He waved his fork at her in mock annoyance.


“Yep, I’m not.”


After breakfast Sam and Vala headed back to the lab. They were only half way there when Sam asked. “Okay, what happened?”


“Whatever do you mean?” Vala once again avoided Sam’s eyes.






“That look. You’re all smiley and glowy… Holy Hannah… Did you and Da-?” But Sam never finished her question due to the hand that now covered her mouth.

“No!” Vala shouted. Reddened and anxiously looking around, she lowered her voice. “No. We didn’t. Not the way you’re thinking. We just slept. We didn’t get to work on my room yesterday,” at Sam’s dimming eyes, Vala reassured her friend, “and it’s okay – we were busy with more important things, and I’m sure now you’ll spend ridiculous amounts of time on it, but I… I didn’t want to go to the med bay and the thermal blankets weren’t helping so I went to Daniel.”


Vala blabbed on, “I just… I mean its just Daniel, he’s well, he’s Daniel, isn’t he? And he didn’t kick me out – though I’m sure he thought about it – but that’s not the point. The point is we just slept and it’s only been the nights I’ve spent with Daniel that I’ve been able to get a full night’s sleep. The fact that I kinda sorta kissed him this morning is just a non-issue.”


Sam mumbled something behind Vala’s hand, which the brunette hadn't removed during her monologue. Wide-eyed, Vala released Sam with an apology. “Oh, sorry.”


“Nights?!” Sam exclaimed, eyes glinting.




“Sorry. Nights? Kiss?” Sam questioned in a whisper.


“Last night and the one before. And like I said the kiss was nothing. Spur of the moment, impulse thing. Now let’s go, I have to see what the machine said.”


“If you say so,” Sam nodded, unconvinced, and followed Vala the rest of the way to the lab.


Walking into the lab, both women stopped in a halting move. Daniel stood by the machine ready to take notes. Sam and Vala shared a look and cleared their throats.


“Morning, darling.” Vala pressed her lips together in a shy smile.


“Morning…” Daniel half mumbled around his coffee cup, which helped in hiding his blush.


“Morning, Daniel.” Grinning at her friends, Sam merrily made her way to her workbench.


“Morning, Sam. You ready?” He asked Vala who made her way over to him.


“Ready. See you in a bit, Sam.” Standing next to Vala, Daniel pressed in a sequence and the white light covered them both.


Sam shook her head and smile, turning to bring up the files that would hopefully help her fix Vala’s situation, though in her opinion the brunette already had it under control. Her eyes fell on the files on the cloaking capabilities and as if a light bulb flashed in her brain she knew what she had to do to make this work. Sam began to work on what she called the fun stuff.


                                                       * * * *

Daniel watched and took notes as Vala read over what the machine had to say. He watched as she pushed her bangs back, as she sometimes bite on her thumbnail, as she sighed, and as her eyes widened in awe and question at times. He watched her, and liked the fact that he didn't have to worry about anyone making their comments – it was just them and as much as he loved his friends, he liked this. He watched as her as her eyes widened in shock and confusion and knew to which part she had just gotten to.


“This wasn’t built because of Anubis.”


“I know.”


“That is… extremely unsettling.”


“Why?” Daniel did not like the look that crossed her face, and knew that he would be getting answers to at least some of the questions he’d had yesterday.


“Anubis is only half-Ascended, right?” Daniel nodded. “Well that means he doesn’t have the full breadth or influence that a regular Ascended being has. He still has to follow certain rules to keep his status. Now I’m sure there are many loopholes to these rules, and I’m sure he has found them all, but they’re still there. He has to tread carefully.” Vala sighed, as if the next part was hard to even speak, “But a fully Ascended enemy – they would have practically no margin for their actions. Capable of almost anything and that’s very dangerous. Ascended beings, at least as far as I know, are all about free will, of watching over but no interfering. Take that away and give them full power to do as they wish with us – I, personally, wouldn’t want to live in that galaxy.”


Daniel absorbed Vala’s words, their meaning resonating in him and leaving a bad taste in his mouth. “So we’re hoping this enemy was defeated.”


“Oh yeah,” Vala answered and continued reading. “Oh, this is interesting and not as ominous.” Daniel chuckled as Vala clicked for the next section.


“What?” He skimmed over what was on the screen and saw it was all the technical jargon he had skipped over before.


Vala began to lean forward to rest on the table and would have fallen through it if Daniel hadn't grabbed her by the waist. “Oooh, thanks darling. Well, it talks about how the weapon was built. Whoever built this thing, they built it from a molecular level.”


“Is that even possible?”


“Apparently. It’s a shame Sam doesn't read Tau’rian, she would love this.”


“I said the same thing.”


Meeting each other’s eyes, they both smiled, and Vala continued. “They built it in phases, with two fundamental parts: the base and the power source.” Vala clicked on a couple buttons, her eyes shifting through the data. “The whole thing works like a tuning fork. The base essentially harnesses the energy of the power source and disperses it across a predetermined plane of existence, creating a sort of barrier that prevents the desired individual or individuals from ever being able to cross into other planes or impart their will on any other level. It’s like a glass house with no access to the outside. Gods, Daniel, whoever built this was a genius.”


“Lucky for us they were on our side.”


Vala nodded and continued to read, then she got to the gate address. “Whoa. This address originates from Tau’ri.”


“I noticed. Can you tell which planet this is?”


“Actually the machine can tell us. Here.” Vala typed in a combination of keys and the page changed to show not only the gate address, but also the name of the planet and its location in space. Daniel’s eyes widened.


“Vala, tell me I’m translating this right.”


“You are, darling.” Again their eyes met, this time in considerable less amusement.


“Jack isn’t going to like this.”



Chapter XII: Answers lead to Questions


As they looked at the information on the screen Daniel, again, questioned Vala about the name he was seeing on the screen; the name of the place they would need to go next.


“So Sahal?” Daniel sighed. This was not good. In no way was this in the realm of good.


“Sahal,” Vala confirmed, with her own apprehension.


“Jack really isn’t going to like this.”


“You said that already.”


“Because that’s how much he’s not going to like this.” Daniel stared at the words on the screen in the vain hope that they would change.


“They’re not going to change, Daniel,” Vala said, reading his mind. She turned and brought her hand to his cheek, meeting his gaze. “We have to go.”


Daniel sighed. “I know.” Then he smiled softly, “Jack really isn’t going to like this.”


Vala smirked. “Let’s go tell him.”


“Troublemaker,” he murmured softly.


She leaned against him. “It’s what I’m best at.”


At that Daniel stared at her. She was so close to him, her body the only thing corporeal, warm, and touchable in this dimension. This dimension where it was just them, nobody else to tease or to allude to what their opinions about them. He was overcome with an inclination that felt too natural so he leaned in and kissed her. Reminiscent of her earlier kiss, except this time, he was all too aware that it was his lips that sought hers.


It was soft and quick and almost innocent, if it wasn’t for the quick spark of something that shot down their spines, making Vala blink when the moment was over. “Why’d you do that?” Her voice was heavy with a sweet, shocked surprise that warmed his heart.


“I don’t know.” Daniel smiled and quickly pressed the sequenced to put them back in phase, Vala still staring at him.


“Got anything?” Sam smiled at the returning duo, the blond vaguely wondering if they knew they had stopped observing the boundaries of personal space.


“Yep, the planet’s name, and now we just have to tell it to Jack.” Daniel answered his friend with a frown.


“Then why so glum, isn't that a good thing?”


Vala looked away from Daniel as she answered. “We have to go to Sahal.” Her voice held a similarly dire tone as Daniel’s.


“Oh.” Sam processed the new information and frowned. “Jack isn't going to like that.”




“Good luck. I’ll just be here working on the cloaking technology.” She focused on her work with an amused expression on her face.


Daniel’s smile was sardonic. “Gee, thanks Sam.”


“I do what I can. Call me when the fireworks are over.”


“Oh come on, it won’t be that bad.” Vala tried to be optimistic, giving a half smile at the looks she received from Sam and Daniel. But then she hoped Teal’c wasn’t with Jack too. Then they would really have fireworks.


                                                       * * * *

The bridge was as usual full of people. Controllers, crewmembers, scientists, engineers and mechanics – all working or trying to get the captain to approve their requests for the many things that they or the ship required. Today it was Bill and Novak asking him for something or other for the engine room. He had half a mind to send them to Sam, who would actually be interested in what they were saying, unfortunately she had informed him that she was not to be bothered until she either fixed Vala’s problem or got cloaking capabilities for the ship. Jack sighed and looked over to his head controller, at least Harriman seemed to be picking up on most of what these two were saying.


“Okay, okay. Wanna give me all that in one sentence or less?”


“We want to hook up the device that Sam has in her lab in the engine room and run some tests on the ship’s systems,” Bill explained excitedly. Next to him Novak was trying to hide her increasing hiccups – it was obvious she was excited about this too.


“Ask Sam.” Jack sighed, he knew he probably shouldn’t send these two to Sam right now but the engine room was her domain, and she would hate him if he made any significant decisions about it without consulting her.


“But she –”


“Ask Sam. Or Vala. And if they say yes, you’re free to run as many tests as you want just as long as you don’t mess with my schedule. We reaching the next planet on our list in… How long, Walter?”


“Two days.” Came from the man to Jack’s right.


“Two days. Thanks, Walt. Now if those two agree and your tests don’t mess with that time – run all the tests you want.”


The second and third engineers for the ship under Sam grinned like they had just received a new chemistry set for their birthdays and thanked their captain.

As they left Jack turned to Harriman, “That was a good thing, right?”


“I think so, sir.”


“Good. Anything else?”


“No, sir. All systems look to be fine, our course is set, and everything is on schedule.”


“Sweet.” Jack leaned back on his chair and looked out the room’s window at subspace.


“Jack.” Daniel sounded happy, too happy. Jack’s felt his good mood was soon to be in severe jeopardy.


“Hey there, Jack love.” Vala’s tone was sweet and mild.


Jack felt chills run up his spine. “Daniel. Vala.” He turned to them. “What brings you two to the bridge?”


“We translated the information on the machine and it gave us a gate address along with a planet.”


“I take it that’s where we’re heading to next.” Jack sighed, so much for the next planet.


“Yep.” Vala grinned and plopped herself on the arm of his chair. Jack didn't know whether to pull on the pigtails she had taken to wearing when on the ship or roll his eyes. He did both.


“And do I even want to know where we’re going next?’


Daniel and Vala shared equally happy looks. “Sure.”


Jack wasn’t fooled for a second. “Okay, I’ll bite. Where to?”


“Sahal...” Daniel answered, avoiding eye contact.


“No, no, and no.” Standing as if lightning had struck him where he sat, Jack almost tipped Vala over and stood in front of the duo.




“No! And don't do that ganging up thing. It’s creepy.” Daniel and Vala just looked at each other, shrugged and turned back to Jack.


“Jack….” Daniel began.


“It will be perfectly fine. Sam’s working on the cloaking technology as we speak, and I’m going back to help as soon as we’re done here.”




“No, what? Sam mentioned we should be up here.” Cam walked up to them, Teal’c next to him. Now it was Vala’s turn to feel chills, because Teal’c wasn’t going to like this at all. Why, oh why, did Sam have to call Teal’c?


“They want to go to Sahal,” Jack practically spat out.


“What!” Cam exclaimed in surprised shock, but no protest.


“No.” He didn’t yell or raise his voice, but Teal’c’s voice grew deeper, an angry baritone that none on the ship, save one, had ever heard before. It held a tone of no argument that Jack envied. Daniel, Cam and Jack stared at the man, while Vala tilted her head and tried for a hopefully placating smile.


“Muscles -”




“See, even Teal’c here agrees. I like this.” Jack moved to stand next to Teal’c, both men tense like two soldiers standing guard.






“It’s important.”


“Is that supposed to make me care?”




“Not working.” Jack crossed his arms.


“It will be fine. The odds are in our favour.” Vala stood and faced her friend.


“That is not reassuring, Vala Mal Duran.” Jack had a notion that Teal’c was disliking this little quest as much as he was.




“Because the odds never stay in our favour.”


“See, Daniel, listen to the man.” Patting Teal’c on the shoulder, Jack nodded.


“Why do you even wanna go to Sahal?” Cam looked between Jack and Daniel, and Vala and Teal’c. The four seemed to be having a volley of words going between them, and as amusing as Cam found it, it could probably go on for hours. If there was one thing that Jack, Daniel, and Vala could do, it was talk and argue. And Teal’c, well, Teal’c just wouldn’t break.


Vala sighed. “We don’t want to go to Sahal. We have to. It’s the planet where the notes on the machine tell us they hid the weapon.”


“Ah, well if it’s where the machine told us to go…”


“Jack,” Daniel exhaled.


“No, ever since we got the machine it’s been one thing after another, and now you want to go to a planet that is not only one of the more dangerous systems of the galaxy, but ruled by one of the worst bastards in the galaxy.”


Silence blanketed the room, until a soft accent broke it. “We know, Jack,” Vala paused, and then continued, subdued. “We know… But what we could find there could help us rid the galaxy of him and a much worse bastard. We have to try.”


“Do you even know where to look?” Jack hated when dangerous plans stared to make sense, but he knew Vala was right. And it wasn’t like they weren’t known for dangerous plans.


“The temple in Melina. It’s the oldest temple on the planet, predates the Goa’uld and everything else on the planet.” Vala put in helpfully.


“Great, I hate that city…” Jack stood and walked over to the window, hands in pockets. “I don’t like this but fine.” He turned back to the group, pointedly looking at Vala. “I want those cloaking capabilities first.”


“Deal. I’ll go help Sam, and when we get to Sahal, me and Daniel will go down with Cam – the less people the better.”


“Fine.” Jack sighed.


“No.” At Teal’c’s third no, Daniel started to wonder as to why the man was objecting. So far he had seemed supportive of Vala’s decisions, at least the ones that didn’t jeopardize her health and suddenly Daniel got nervous.


“Teal’c.” Vala once again turned to her friend.


“No. You will not go down. It is not safe. I will go down in your stead.”


“I’ll be fine. And lest you forget it’s not exactly safe for you either,” Vala argued back.


“I will be fine.”


“And I won’t? That’s a double standard.”


“I do not care. You will not go down.” Teal’c’s eyes bore into Vala’s and they held no leeway.


Still she tried. “How ‘bout you come down with me? It's not the smartest thing, but I need to go down and I think this is the only way you’ll let me.”


A heavy pause filled the room. “We will discuss this later. I have a sparring session with Sgt. Siler.” Teal’c bowed his head, thoughtfully, and walked off the bridge, leaving Vala to slump heavily in Jack’s chair.


After the doors closed behind him, Daniel, Cam and Jack turned to Vala, but it was Daniel that asked – quietly as if he knew the weight of the question beforehand. “Why doesn’t he want you to go down?”


Vala sighed and met his eyes. “Ba’al. Ba’al has a bounty on both of us. A big one.”


                                                       * * * *

Vala walked with heavy footsteps into Sam’s lab to see her talking to Bill and Lindsey. She had met the second and third tier engineers of the Prometheus when she had first boarded the ship, but hadn't had much time to get to know them.


“Hey there, Bill, Lindsey.”


“Hey Vala,” Bill greeted warmly. Vala had liked the short, bearded man immediately. He had been very sweet and open to her from the moment they met. He had even given her a plant for her room along with his old data pad and workstation for her work with Sam.


“Hello, Ms. Mal Duran.” Lindsey on the other hand was quite the bundles of nerves, and her hiccups didn’t help a bit, but she seemed perfectly pleasant as well. According to what Sam had told her, she was also one of the newest crewmembers and was still getting used to living on a ship.


“Lindsey, call me Vala.” She smiled at the shorter woman.


“Okay, Ms. Mal Duran.” Hiccupping between words, Vala smiled warmly at the woman, ironically increasing the hiccups.


Vala just shared an amused look with Sam and shrugged. “So what’s up?”


“Oh, we were wondering if we could borrow the ZPM and attach it to the ship’s hyperdrive to run some tests.” Bill paused for a second, “Can we?”


“I told them to wait for you to get back, considering it’s your ZPM,” Sam said.


Vala looked at the two other scientists and leaned forward, as if she was measuring their worth. Lindsey’s hiccups increased slightly and Vala grinned. “Of course you can.”


“T-Thank y-you,” Lindsey said, smiling widely in between her hiccups.


“Thanks.” Bill was practically bouncing as he headed over to the ZPM and the buffering device Vala and Sam had made for it. “Can I?”


“Sure. And Lindsey?”


“Yes, Ms. Mal Duran?”


“Try peanut butter.” Vala gave a parting wink.


As they left the room, Sam asked. “Are you sure you don’t want to go with them?”


Vala looked back to where the door was. “I trust that you trust them.”


“I do.”


“Then everything’s fine.” But Vala couldn't hide how not fine everything was.


“What’s wrong, Vala?”


“We told Jack about Sahal.”




“Yep, but it wasn’t just Jack. I knew Teal’c would have a problem with it too.”


“Why?” Sam asked, curious as to why Vala and Teal’c would have problems in going to Sahal, beside the obvious fact that Ba’al was a sadistic bastard.


“Long story.” At Sam’s look, Vala sighed, “I’ll tell you later, but do you think you can handle working on the cloaking technology by yourself for a tad bit longer?”


Sam nodded. “Sure, why?”


Vala let out a long and deep breath. “Damage control and best friend preservation.”


Living on a ship with three very stubborn and different men, Sam knew all too well what Vala was talking about. “Good luck.”


“Thanks, I’m gonna need it.” Vala headed out to find her best friend.


                                                       * * * *

Ever since he and Vala had fallen into this partnership Teal’c had been spending the majority of his time in the gym as many of the Prometheus’ crew were interested in staff fighting. But today, after his short session with Sgt. Siler, he had left the gym and made his way to the docking bay where Vala’s and his ship dwelt – for now at least.


He looked over the beautifully streamlined ship and sighed.


When he had agreed to help his dear friend in her quest he had known they would be coming across many obstacles, but he could not lie and say he did not wish that this journey could be easier for his friend. Vala was strong, he knew. He had seen her strength from the first moment he saw her, it was her strength that had propelled him to her in the first place, but she was also extremely fragile. It had been that fragility that propelled him to stay with her. She reminded him of the ceramic bowls his grandmother used to make – able to hold great amounts of grain, flower, water, dirt, anything; but if dropped or struck in a precise spot they would break and shatter into innumerable pieces that would be almost impossible to put back together again. Teal’c was not willing to let his friend shatter; the fractures she held still ran too deep.


“I’m not doing this because I want to.”


“Are you certain of that?” Teal’c turned to face the raven-haired woman who stood still next to him.


“Yes… At least I think I am.” Vala walked up and stroked her ship with a reverence most have for religious icons.


“I have known you many years, and while I have always known that you would do your best to stop Anubis and the Goa’uld if the opportunity ever arose, I have never known you to take such risks with yourself. In the entirety of our partnership, you have been most mindful to keep yourself from these types of situations, for several reasons.”




“Are revenge and vengeance so blinding?”


“This isn't just revenge. Anubis is destroying a galaxy,” Vala defended. “And I don’t think that you can say on much this topic – have you forgotten Apophis?” She shot back and then instantly regretted her words.


“Well said, my friend.” Teal’c met Vala’s silver eyes with heaviness, but said nothing else. Vala sighed at what was not said.


“I’m sorry, I shouldn't have said that. But this, going to Sahal, is not something I want to do, it’s something I have to do. This is my duty. It was entrusted to me by someone with a much great understanding of this crazy universe than I ever looked to have. I… The moment the message ran through our screen it was like something finally fell into place, I can’t explain it but this thing is my responsibility.” Vala paused, and stood right in front of Teal’c, and looked him straight into his brown eyes.


“I vowed to stop Anubis the minute I felt Tau’ri die, but for years it felt like it was this huge impossibility – this great goal I tried to reach but had not real way of achieving. But now I can. I can stop the thing that killed my world and has caused the death of so many others. I can stop this.” She paused and fervently continued, never looking away from her friend’s gaze. “We can stop this. And if it means sneaking down to Ba’al’s planet and getting whatever the temple at Melina has in store for me – for us – then I’ll do it. I’ll do it because I have to. I have to. Not want, Teal’c. I have to do this. I have to stop him.”


Teal’c took in his friend, who stood in front of him, shaking in determination, strength and fear. She was scared; he could now see that as clearly as he saw her strength. Without a word he took her slight frame in his large arms and held her. Vala wrapped her arms fiercely around her best friend and held on. Sometimes she didn’t know how she had ever survived without Teal’c.


Letting go, both friends stood back and Vala quickly wiped the moisture that had gathered under her eyes. “Nobody saw that, right?”


“I do not believe so.” Teal’c smiled softly at his friend, and then stood up straight and met her eyes again. “I will go down with you. Ba’al might not be on the planet, but I will not take that chance with your life. He will still be angered about our last encounter.”


Vala nodded stiffly. “Well wouldn’t you be, after somebody killed your queen?”


                                                       * * * *

“Why’d we drop out of hyperspace?” Cam questioned as he walked back into the bridge, two coffees in his hand. He went over and handed one to Jack.

“Do you want the answer I like or the answer I don’t like?” Jack leaned back against his chair and took a drink form his coffee.




“Vala’s ZPM. Bill and Novak wanted to attached it to the hyperdrive engine to run some tests with it, and so far they tell me that it’ll make the ship run twice as fast.”


“Good stuff.” Cam momentarily took Marks’ seat and looked over the information streaming through the screen, wondering if Vala had a spare ZPM in that ship of hers. He then looked back at his brother-in-law. “And the not like?”


Turning to Cam, Jack gave a half smile. “Sahal.”


“I thought so.”


“Apparently with the power from the ZPM we can get there in less than a week.”


“Wow, and Sahal’s practically on the other side of the galaxy, isn’t it?” Cam was awed at the news.


“Yep, but that depends on how long it takes them to fully configure it with the ship’s systems and how long it takes Sam and Vala to get us those cloaking capabilities.”


“That might be quicker than you think…”


“Oh…” Jack looked curiously over at his second in command, “You know something I don’t?”


“Maybe,” Cam smirked, “I just came from Sam’s. Believe it or not, begin stuck out of phase yesterday gave Sam’s some ideas on how to speed up work with the cloaking stuff. Something about correlating the cloaking programs from the Seraphim to the Prometheus. I don't really know, I kinda stopped paying attention after she said ‘correlating’.”


“I don’t blame you.” Chuckling, both men shared a look. “And Daniel? What is he up to?”


“He holed himself up in his office again. He’s trying to read everything he has on the temple in Melina, and between that, the manuscripts and worrying about Vala, I think he might burn himself out.” Cam leaned against one of the consoles on the bridge and brought up what he had been worrying about, “What do you think about the situation with Teal’c and Vala?”


Jack met Cam’s eyes. “You mean the bounty?”


“Yeah.” Cam drank from his cup, keeping his eyes on Jack and Jack could clearly see the solider peeking through. They both knew what it was to evade capture in several situations.


“They’re able.” Jack leaned back in his chair and stared out the windows of the bridge.


“They are.” Hearing the tone in Cam’s voice, Jack turned to face Cam for a second and saw the small smile he had on his face. Admiration.


“They’ve evaded capture this long.” Jack smirked.


“They have.”


“I don't know whether to like them more for that fact or worry that they might get us in hot water with Ba’al when the time comes.” He paused and glance over at Cam, “Not that we’re not always in hot water with all Goa’uld, but…” Jack looked out his windows, “Until the situation becomes a problem, let it rest.”


Cam nodded. “Will do.”


“Plus they’re giving us cloaking capabilities.”


“That they are.” Cam quirked a smile.


                                                       * * * *

Sam was on a roll, her ‘whiz kid’ gene going at full force. She was in the zone. If she was right and this worked…


“How’s it going?” A voice from the doorway cut Sam’s train of thought. Glancing up she saw as Vala walked into the room. She looked better than when she had left and Sam hoped that all had gone well with Teal’c. It certainly appeared like it had.


“After this you might call me a genius.” Grinning widely, Sam turned her data pad towards her friend.


Vala chuckled, “Sam love, I already call you a genius.” Walking over, Vala looked at what Sam had to show her. She grinned and looked up her friend. “Youare a genius. Bloody genius.”


“Told ya.” Sam took back the pad and handed Vala some notes that the woman took to help her friend with the brilliant idea she had just come up with.


“We’re going to have to test run the program to see how well it functions with the ship, check compatibility, but I think it should work and with the ZPM attached it should integrate with the ship’s systems easier than expected.”


“Oh, I’m sure it will.” Then a wicked grinned crossed Vala’s face, “So who is going to tell Jack that we can start heading to Sahal in just a few short hours?”


“I was thinking Cam,” Sam said with a glint in her eyes and turned back to finish her work. Vala sat next to her, ready to help.


                                                       * * * *

Dinnertime found both women in the main engine room ready to implement the cloaking capabilities of the Seraphim to the Prometheus. They stood by where the ZPM was giving an extra boost to the ship’s hyperdrive and which would hopefully help them get the cloak to engage.


Sam was fiddling with her socket wrench, trying not to be too nervous – it wasn’t working. She had never before worked with a ship as advanced and complicated as Vala’s, save for a few Asgard motherships, and she hoped she just hadn't messed up big time with trying to give thePrometheus the very appealing cloaking capabilities of the other ship.


“This will work, right?” Vala questioned from next to her.


“I think so.” Sam wished she felt as sure as she sounded.


“Good enough for me. Call Cameron.”


“Sure.” Sam pressed down the com and called Cam, who was currently out in space waiting to confirm or deny the success or failure of this endeavor. “Cam, you read?”


“Loud and clear, Sammy.” Sam rolled her eyes at the nickname.


“Okay, here goes.” She called the bridge, “Jack, we’re ready.”


“Okay, Sam, you have a green light.”


“Thanks, Jack.” She looked at Vala and then at the rest of the engine room crew, with a nod she pressed down the key that would begin the assimilation of the cloaking program. They all watched as the program was written into the ship’s system and then immediately activated.


Nothing happened. At least not in the engine room or anywhere else in the ship.


                                                       * * * *

Outside the ship was another matter.


Cam saw his, well, one-third of his ship flicker in space for a second and then disappear completely from sight. “That’s what I’m talking about.” He whispered in awe at the empty space where the ship had been.


“Cam? Cam? What’s the status?”


“Yeah, sorry.” Cam blinked and focused, “Well, Sam, I gotta say, I think you missed your calling, cuz you’d make one damn fine magician…”


Over the radio Cam heard a laugh. “Is that your way of saying that the ship is cloaked?”


“Damn right.”


“Sweet.” Jack’s voice came through.


“It did kinda flicker though, right at the start,” Cam added.


“Flicker?” Vala questioned.


“At the beginning, it flickered, like a light bulb dying.”


There was a pause. “No problem, it probably was the stabilizers.” Sam voiced came through again, “I just have to do a minor alteration and we’ll try it again.”

“Okay.” Cam watched as the ship came back into sight and waited until they were ready again.


“Cam, we’re going again.”


“Gotcha.” This time there was no flicker, just the smooth transition of the ship disappearing into space. He smiled and shook his head, his life never ceased to amaze him. “I’m telling you Sammy – magician.” He heard another round of laughter.


“Thank you, and don’t call me Sammy.”


“Okay, then, bring it in Cam.” Jack gave him the go ahead and Cam began engaging his fighter’s thrusters, when he paused and radioed the ship.


“Uh, Jack, Sam?”




“Mind actually showing me a ship to get back too?”


This time the laughter clearly came from more than one person and he glared at his radio just as the ship came back into view.


                                                       * * * *

It was near 0100 that Vala walked into Daniel’s office. “Hullo, darling.”


Daniel looked up, his eyes glazed from all the reading he had been doing all day. “Hey, I hear congratulations are in order.”


“Nah, it was mostly Sam this time.” Vala waved off the compliment. She sat down on the opposite side of his desk and began reading some of the texts he had in front of him. Most were about Melina and Sahal – before the Goa’uld occupation. Rare. Looking up she thought how best to approach the subject, thinking it over for several minutes before she decided to do what she did best and just say it.


“When are you going to sleep?” Okay, that could have gone better, she thought, but at least it had the required effect and she now held Daniel’s attention.




“Do you really need me to repeat myself?” Vala raised a perfect eyebrow at the man, to which he just smiled slowly.


“No. I was wondering when you were going to bring it up,” he teased, and Vala threw a stylus at him.




“Well?” He began to organize some notes.


Vala knew this time it was her turn; he had let her in last night. “I know we didn’t make any formal arrangements, but I was hoping – thinking – that until Sam and I fix up my room, I could maybe, you know…” Vala trailed off, biting her thumbnail. “Sleep with – stay in your room.” She half mumbled the last bit around said thumbnail.


“You tired now?” Daniel asked, trying to keep his smile from emerging.


“No, darling, I just want to clear the air before…”


“How ‘bout you help me here and then we’ll go to bed. We have a big day tomorrow.”


Vala grinned, wide and bright, making Daniel ignored the pleasant feeling he suddenly got in his stomach and both nodded. Vala grabbed some of the texts and both got back to work. Daniel looked at her as she immersed herself in the texts and let his smile out.


                                                       * * * *

Hours later as they lay silently and a little uncomfortably on Daniel’s bed, both remained unmoving in their positions of prepared sleep, both remembering the last time they had been in this bed together and what had happened.


Vala took a breath and decided their behavior was ridiculous. They were acting like scared teenagers. She moved closer like she had done the night before.

Resting her head on the warm skin between his shoulder and neck, Vala sighed and watched as the goosebumps appeared on Daniel’s skin and she shifted, feeling her stomach twist. “I didn’t mean to kiss you this morning,” she whispered in what she hoped was a convincing manner.


“I didn’t mean to kiss you in Sam’s lab,” Daniel whispered back.


Even though she knew that the kiss in Sam’s lab had been an impulsive gesture, she thoroughly disliked the feeling it gave her inside. It felt as if her ribs were being crushed and the guts clenching in objection. Still she felt like she needed to get the next words out. They had been on the cusp of escaping her lips all day and here, so near him, surrounded by everything that was Daniel, she couldn’t hold them in longer. Besides, she really didn’t want to anyway, if she was honest. She wanted him to know, that despite the insanity of that kiss which should have never happened, she did not regret it. In fact, she wanted it to happen again, very badly.


“I want to kiss you now.” Vala felt Daniel’s arm tighten around her waist at her words and heard his strangled sigh.


“Vala.” Daniel’s voice held distinct want and reprimand and Vala wondered how a man could do both things at once.


“You want to kiss me too.” She turned to face him fully and felt a deep relief at the yearning in his eyes.


“I never said I didn’t.” Daniel bowed his head to hers and met her forehead in soft gesture that had Vala wanting to curl her hands around the sheets and pressed her body against him fully.


“So? The problem?” She shifted closer to him and gently rested on of her hands on his chest. Not daring to smile, she only looked into Daniel’s eyes and searched for his answer.


Daniel took in her stare and, after a moment when Vala could tell he was looking for every single objection and argument to her suggestion, she felt him cup the back of her neck, bringing her lips to his. The kiss did not start chastely like their previous ones, as their mouths open to let the other in and their tongues began sliding against each other, wet and warm and wanting. The arm that lay under her neck moved, and then Vala felt the hand smooth down her back, resting on them hem of her top, pulling her closer to him. Vala sighed into the kiss and threw a leg over Daniel’s thighs wanting to feel as close to the man as she could. She felt his hands grip her hips and haul her closer making her adjust her weight and straddle Daniel’s thighs. Leaning her forearms on the sides of his face, they never broke their kiss.


Daniel’s hands massaged up her back and Vala let her body fall fully onto his. She could feel the bare skin of her belly, where her top had ridden up, brush against his and Vala pressed closer to him. When Daniel’s fingers brushed against the side of her breast, Vala moaned into the kiss and rolled her hips at the small thrust of Daniel’s hips.


Somehow it was this movement that brought Daniel from wherever he had lost himself because Vala felt his hand drift from her breast, but not before she felt his thumb graze her nipple and the kiss grow softer. The clash of their lips loosing some of the cloudy lust and the strokes of Daniel’s tongue against her became languid and his lips less demanding. Vala felt as if she was being coaxed into sleep by Daniel’s slow actions and she let herself drift to her side as Daniel rolled them onto their sides.


Then, just as naturally, they relaxed into each other, the pull between them growing gentler but no less powerful. Daniel’s lips moved from her mouth to her jaw and necked as he kissed his way down. “We’re not going to rush this.” He kissed the words against her ear and Vala smiled, if only a bit put off.


Resting her lips against Daniel’s pulse, he rubbed circles on the small of her back, and Vala snuggled against him. “I wasn’t trying to shag you by the way, at least not right now.”


Daniel smirked and kissed her forehead as he fell asleep. “I know.”



CHAPTER XIII:  Everything Catalyzes and Burns


As the ship was reaching Sahal, Daniel and Vala were, in their opinion, rudely woken up by the sound of Jack’s voice coming in from the com system. Vala groaned as she buried her head under a pillow, while Daniel leaned and reached over the sleeping woman to press the com button.


“Yeah, Jack?” His voice was still thick with sleep and unconsciously gave Vala goosebumps.


“We just left hyperspace and are coming up on Sahal. Get ready to ring down in 30.”


“Okay, see you then,” Daniel answered back and let himself fall back the bed. “Did you hear that?”


“I think it was impossible not to, darling,” Vala mumbled from under the pillow, making him chuckle. She removed the pillow from her face and smiled brightly at him – but he could see something else hiding in her gaze, fear. A fear that had been slowly building in these last few days and which he had refrained from asking about. But before he could finally ask, she sat up and practically jumped from the bed.


“Can I use your shower?” she asked and Daniel had to do a double take before answering.


“Sure, go ahead,” he replied slowly. Vala just gave a quick grin and headed to the shower. She seemed to be fine, but Daniel had seen the fear in her eyes and had to wonder what it was about. He then remembered Teal’c’s words. You will not go down. It is not safe. Daniel didn’t like where his thoughts were taking him.


Vala took a surprisingly quick shower and by the time Daniel had come out of his own she was slipping into her leather pants. He began getting ready, as the questions that had been rushing through his mind threatened to come out. He had avoided asking questions for days, but today he couldn't seem to push them back like he had been doing. It was when Vala sat on the edge of his bed pulling her boots on that the words left him.


“Why didn’t Teal’c want you to go down to the planet?” The words came out more rushed than he planned, but at least he had Vala’s attention.


Vala looked up at him startled and Daniel knew without a doubt that she was keeping something from him.


“What was that really about the other day?” Daniel asked the question that had been growing in his mind ever since they had been on the bridge that morning and she had mentioned the bounty. It wasn’t just the bounty, it was something more, Daniel was sure if it.


“I already told you, darling.” Vala shrugged off the question as she slipped her jacket on.


“Vala.” Daniel wasn’t for a minute convinced that what she’dsaid before was everything. He again asked, “Vala, why doesn’t Teal’c want you to go down to the planet – it’s not just the bounty? What aren't you telling me?”


“Nothing… he’s just being overprotective…” She moved further into the room, farther from him.


“Don’t lie. He’s worried about you. More than I’ve seen him be since you’ve been with us.” He walked over to her and, cupping her chin, turned her face towards his.


Vala sighed but still avoided looking him full in the eyes. “Look, it’s really not that big of a deal. He’s just twitchy about the Ba’al situation.” She tried to look away but he stepped closer to her, letting her know he wasn’t going anywhere.


“Why?” Vala tried to avoid his eyes for a moment, then sighed and looked up and met them. He could see the fear and shame they held and even as he became fearful of her answer, he stood ready to hear her.


Vala spoke, “Because… I…” She paused and then in a stronger voice than he expected she started, “It was years ago. I had a job on Selenis. Teal’c was there undercover – he used to go to planets that were said to be Purged and tried to save as many as he could. It just ended up that on this trip he had to save me too.” At her words she saw the shock that entered Daniel.


“He… I was reckless, brought myself too much attention when the Jaffa tried to grab me. It got Ba’al attention, his queen too. Apparently they thought I would be perfect the host for her – Katesh. As you can imagine I wasn’t exactly keen on that prospect, and I might have spit in his face. Ba’al’s, not Teal’c’s.” Vala tried to joke, but it was empty like the look in her eyes.


Daniel tried to smile for her sake, but couldn’t quiet make it.


“He didn’t like that. Ba’al.” Vala broke off for a second, going to the window in his lab and leaning against it. “Anyways, Teal’c was watching in the temple and saw it all. He saved me. He didn’t know me at all and he saved me – Katesh died and we ran. Not long after that the bounty came out and that’s why we try to stay off anybody’s radar.”


Hearing the small and almost hidden break in her voice, Daniel went over and rested his hand by her neck and shoulder. She met his eyes and then closed hers as if the memories were too much to even process. They probably were, he thought.


“Ba’al… he’s a monster and hates to lose. After Selenis he took out the biggest bounty he could on Teal’c and me. He knew who Teal’c was, lots of the Goa’uld do, but he didn't know who I was. He was able to put a good likeness together, regardless. I am quite unforgettable, I’ll have you know.” She gave him the fakest grin he had ever seen grace her face, and he hated it.


No, Daniel hated Ba’al. Right now his normally peaceable nature was overrun with fury. He felt like killing Ba’al, and had a feeling that Teal’c would be more than happy to help. He wanted to keep her safe and as far from that monster as possible.


“Stay on the ship.” The words left his mouth unbidden, but Daniel could not deny he felt them completely. Suddenly the mere idea of losing Vala to the Goa’uld Lord steeled his stomach in the worst way, and his protective instincts bubbled to the surface.


“What?” Vala snapped incredulously at him, her demeanor shifting entirely.


“Stay on the ship,” Daniel repeated, his voice tight.


There was beat of silence as they both just looked at each other. “No,” Vala spoke the word, her tone unwavering, and for a beat Daniel hated how single-minded the woman was.


“Vala.” Stepping closer he ducked his head hoping to convince her even as the desire to call Teal’c over and have him help keep her in the room was fighting to take over. He knew, partly, that he appeared overprotective and unreasonable, but losing someone cared about to another Goa’uld was not an option for Daniel. Not again.


“I’m going down, Daniel,” Vala stated, her voice holding no further argument.


But if there was one thing Vala should have learned by now, it was that Daniel always argued back when he could, and sometimes when he shouldn’t. Daniel furrowed his brow and couldn’t help himself, frustration rising. “How can you willingly want to go down to a planet where the ruling Goa’uld tried to take you as host! Where he has a warrant out on you and Teal’c?! Are you suicidal? You have to be to even think about doing this.”


“I’m not. You know I’m not, but there’s no other way. I have to go down, just like you have to go down. The fact that I pissed off Ba’al once can’t stop me, and it shouldn’t stop you from letting me go,” Vala argued back, just as Daniel had known she would.


“What’s that supposed to mean?” He shot back.


“It means, Daniel, that I’m a big girl and can handle myself. It means that this is as important to me as it is to you, and you know that. You just can't stop me because you’re scared that something will happen. Something always happens. And you know that if the situation were reversed I wouldn’t stop you. I’d let you go, because I know how important this is.” Her voice was resolute and unwavering.


She stood in front of him incensed, brave, steadfast, and so beautiful that it almost made him physically ache. It also stunned the hell out of him, especially considering that not even five minutes ago he had been witness to the very hidden vulnerability she held. Ever since they had first met she had completely taken over his world, shook it and reshaped it, and kept on doing so. Daniel could only stare at her, feeling the tense energy leave for the moment.


“How do you do that?” he questioned, his entire body taut as if it knew something he didn’t.


Vala could only look at him in genuine confusion, which Daniel could internally mirror – weren’t we just arguing? “Do what? What do I do?”


He just looked softly at her making her fidget at his gaze. “I don’t actually know. I…just… After my wife…after Abydos…”


“You were on Abydos?” Vala’s voice broke through softly. She knew the history of the planet; it was almost impossible not too. One of the first planets the System Lords had Purged seven years ago, trying to gather power against Anubis. But she never would have thought Daniel had… But Abydos…


Daniel met her eyes and nodded, “It’s was a long time ago. Too long in some ways…” He paused, heavily. “And since then all I’ve been doing is surviving, not ever really focusing on anything except what the crew do and I, and even then I’m not as involved as Jack or Cam are.”


He stepped closer and Vala shifted uncomfortably. Daniel took notice but chose to press on. He had the sudden need to tell her this before they ringed down to the planet. Ever since Castiana, she had brought something back to life in him that he didn’t even know he lost. “But then you come in…”


“And annoy—“


Vala’s self-deprecating comment was cut off as Daniel continued, pulling her chin back to look into her eyes. “But then you come in, and you’re in focus. Everything seems to blur but you.” Daniel didn’t let her interrupt again, knowing she would have tried to make a joke or something similar to diffuse the moment.


Vala would never know how she had managed to speak in that moment “Daniel…” But she would be aware of how nervous and nearly sad quality her voice would have, “ ‘M sorry…”


Daniel moved, rested his forehead near hers by the window, and stroked her cheek. Then with a tenderness she had never felt before in her in life, he pressed his lips to hers. It was not the first time their lips had touched, but it was the first time they were both aware that this kiss was more somehow. More that just an outlet for their attraction. More than lust. This was more and for the first time they were both fully open to each other.


Kissing her lips fully, Daniel gently massaged hers with his. He suckled her full top lip, pulling Vala closer to him. He could feel Vala’s hands cup his neck as she fell into the kiss and pressed her teeth gently on his bottom lip. Deep in their bodies, hearts and minds, they were both aware that this was the instant that they became more. And they embraced it. They continued tasting each other, slow and easy until Daniel gently withdrew from her mouth.


“Don’t. Don’t ever apologize for that. Ever.” Daniel spoke softly against her lips and had they been just a few more centimeters apart she would have never heard him.


Vala only managed to nod, eyes still bright, too overwhelmed for words, and kissed him back. This time the kiss was deep and fierce. Her hands held his face, pulling him closer to her, deepening the kiss. His hand slid down her spine, finding a home for its weight there and pulled her closer to him. It was as if they were magnets, and their fields sought and called out to each other, joining with a force that was inherent to nature, and inherent to them.


They kissed leisurely, lips parting, and they then felt as if there was too much space between them. Their bodies pushed into one another, trying to eraser all space between them. A valley in an inch. Daniel gripped the back of Vala’s head as he turned them into the window, leaning their bodies against it. Vala secured her arms around his neck and sought his tongue with hers as she pushed one long leg between his. It was not enough and too much at the same time and Daniel shifted his body so his thigh pressed just right on Vala and she on him. Losing themselves in the kiss they weren’t willing to break away just yet. And neither knew what would have happened next if life hadn't interrupted.


But it did, because as usual it had other plans for them.


“Daniel! We’re over Sahal. Get ready to ring down.” Jack’s voice came through the intercom and they separated, springing apart like teenagers whose parents had just caught them. They shared soft smiles and Daniel stroked her jawline before he moved in to kiss her again.


“Daniel!” The com buzzed with Jack’s voice again.


Vala giggled and Daniel sighed, sometimes he really hated Jack. Without letting go of Vala, he moved to press the com. “We heard you. We’ll be right there.”


“We? OH, we…” came from Jack and turning back to Vala, Daniel rolled his eyes and gently laid a kiss on her smiling swollen lips.


“Jack seems to have a perfect sense of timing, doesn’t he?” Vala smirked.


“Yeah, perfect.” Daniel rolled his eyes. Both knew they should head down, but they couldn’t seem to move. Vala kept her arms around his neck, and Daniel’s arms held her close to him.


Once again they rested their foreheads together and let out small chuckles.


“After this we need to talk.” Daniel ran his thumb across her collarbone and smiled as she leaned into the touch.


Vala nodded and softly pressed her lips to his. “A nice long talk.” Daniel didn’t miss the double entrée, but really, he couldn’t find anything wrong with it.


Really long talk.” He gave her a quick kiss, and holding hands, they left Daniel’s room and headed to the ring room, Vala beaming.


                                                       * * * *

Ringing down to Sahal was the easy thing. Melina was a capital city and there were always Jaffa and less than savory characters ringing down on to the planet all the time. The fact that they ringed down from a cloaked ship had also made things easier.


Cam stood in the middle of Melina’s bazaar next to Daniel, Vala and Teal’c, who had covered his tattoo with a leather band. The temple stood at the other end of the city, and they needed to get there fast but without bringing attention to their plan to steal from it.


“Okay, where to now?”


Vala adjusted the lapels of her jacket and looked around. “Find our way into the temple and hope the answer is right there.” Pensively she added, “We should stop in at the Mermide first.”


“The what?”


“The Mermide Beni Salama, it’s a bar near by. We know someone there.”


“Someone we can trust?” Cam was skeptical to this new information.


“Someone who doesn’t want the Goa’uld or Jaffa knowing how much he has been skimming from them,” Vala clarified, looking at the men next to her. Teal’c stood stoically, but she wasn’t worried about him. Cam and Daniel on the other hand, she worried about. Cam was in soldier mode, but didn’t feel comfortable working with a new element. Daniel, well, Daniel worried her because she knew that from now on she would be dealing with a new side to the man – a side she didn’t fully comprehend. And whether it was that or because of the fact that he looked ridiculously sexy in those pants she wasn’t sure, but she really wanted to kiss him.


Thankfully, Cam’s thought hadn't trailed off like hers had, and he nodded. “Alright, how do we get there?”


“Follow me.” Teal’c began walking, leading them through the crowded streets of the bazaar.


                                                       * * * *

The Mermide Beni Salama was the dirtiest, dodgiest, dingiest, most corrupt bar in the city of Melina. It was named after the owner’s most loved things, his ship, his dog and his mother – in that order, which not ironically was the order he loved them.


He was a severe man, with cold brown eyes and a twisted smile. He had long ago lost most of the hair on his head, but kept what was left of it and his beard neatly and sharply trimmed, adding the more to his cold and stern demeanor. Like others on the planet he knew very well that they were not ruled by a god as Ba’al claimed to be, but neither was he a stupid man. He knew very well how to keep his business afloat and head attached.


When Vala and company entered the bar nobody really noticed. Most everybody in this place staked their lives on not noticing certain things that happened in the bar. As Vala walked up to the counter she felt eyes following her, but it was a usual occurrence in places like this. Leaning on the counter she knocked twice to get the barkeep’s attention. When the barkeep turned towards her, a wide smile grew on their face.


“V-Vala!” came a choked whisper.


“Hullo, Denya,” Vala greeted the young woman who was known for keeping the place running as well as for some of her more than ample attributes.


“I never thought I’d see you around here again.” Denya poured four shots for the group, lowering her lilt voice to whisper.


Vala took her shot; behind her the boys did the same, except for Teal’c. “I’d never thought I’d come here again. Is he here?” she whispered.


Denya lowered her eyes, taking in the room and silently nodded. Pouring four more shots, she, without another word, headed to the back.


“So what was that about?” Daniel asked, taking his own shot leaning against the bar by Vala.


“Yeah, you two seemed very buddy-buddy,” Cam put in, his eyes having followed Denya as she left the room.


“Before my, uh, unfortunate encounter with Ba’al,” Vala lowered her voice, eyes meeting Daniel, “I used to come here a lot. Best empanadas in the galaxy and they always had something to keep me busy… They’re a lovely bunch, once you get past the less than reputable background.”


“And they’ll help us?”


“I’m sure…”


“Great!” Cam exclaimed, taking Teal’c’s left over shot.


“For a small fee.”


Before Cam could argue, they heard a hearty laugh coming from behind them. “By the stars and gods, I never thought I’d see the day.”


Vala turned with a big smile to greet the crooked bar owner. “Seevis.”


“My girl.” The man came around the bar and gave Vala a kiss on each cheek. Daniel and Cam looked at each other, not knowing whether this was a good or bad thing, they just took comfort that Teal’c wasn’t reaching for his weapon. After the kisses Seevis stepped away and glanced at the accompanying men, his smiled edged. “Come with me.”


As Seevis walked towards the back, the foursome looked at each other for a beat before they followed the man.


In the back room, Seevis turned sharply to Vala the second the door closed behind the group.


“Are you stupid, girl? What the hell are you doing back here?”


Vala ignored the man and simply stated, “We may need your assistance.”


Seevis sighed and turned to Teal’c. “And you! How in the hell did you let her talk to you into coming!”


Teal’c raised an eyebrow. “We have our reasons, Seevis Amada. Like Vala Mal Duran said we need assistance in procuring an item – it would be best to do this quickly. As you mentioned, it is not safe for us here.”


Seevis rolled his eyes, and stared at Cam and Daniel. “And these two? Can I trust them?”


“As much as you trust me.” Vala stated.


“I see.” Seevis turned a critical eye on the group. Vala, who always stood with her unique mix of off-hand pluckiness, barely constrained sexuality, and hidden cleverness. Teal’c, who was always a rock, steadfast and strong, and protective like a mama lion. Then he assessed the two new ones – neither looked soft. The one on the left defiantly had military training; he could see it as clearly as he could shoot. But it was the man on the right who held his attention; he had a quieter strength than the other one, but Seevis had no doubt that the man could fight, and fight ruthlessly, if the situation ever called for it. Yet it wasn’t that which held Seevis’ attention, it was how he stood next to Vala, and the way Vala stood next to him, no physical contact but they hardly needed it. They were close – very close. Seevis bit back a smile. They looked able, smart and tough. He sighed.


“What do you need?”


Daniel answered. “A way into the temple, preferably into the records rooms or any of the secret rooms.


“Secret rooms?” Seevis asked with a smirk – smart boy.


“Yes, they would normally be found behind a treasury, cloisters or even the record rooms. And the Goa’uld probably don’t know about them.”


“Really?” His curiosity spiked. “Why wouldn’t they?”


Vala stepped up and sat on his desk, fiddling with a pen. “Because my friend, what we’re looking for predates them.” She gave a shrewd grin. “Because what we’re looking for comes from the First Ones.”


Seevis tried his very hardest not to pale at her words and rubbed his face. “By the gods, what have you gotten into, girl?”


“The less you know the better,” Daniel volunteered.


“I’ll be the judge of that.” He looked sharply at the Daniel.


“So can you help us?” Vala ignored the exchange.


“I except to be compensated for my part in this.”


“You will be,” Cam stated.


Seevis sighed and took a seat at his desk, opening a drawer. “Okay then,” he looked pointedly at Vala, “you’re lucky I like you. Here, Pilar left this for you last time she was by. How that woman knows the things she does, never ceases to scare the crap out of me.” Seevis handed her a package at which Vala smiled – Pilar, always handy to have her in a pinch.


Opening the package she saw that her friend had left her everything she would need for a spectacular temple looting, including some lovely weapons and just the holo-disc with the floor plans she would need. How she loved that woman…


“So look,” Seevis brought Vala’s attention back to him, “I think I can get you in.” He laid out his own floor plans to the temple and the five occupants of the room gathered around them. “Every month our ‘Storm King’ himself comes to the planet to grace us with his presence and receive his ‘offerings’. Me and the boys just happen to have made ourselves a little way into one of the back rooms. We relieve our great god of some of his smaller burdens.”


Vala grinned. “If I wasn’t ruled by a strict moral code, I would kiss you right now, love.” Seevis chuckled at her antics; Daniel rolled his eyes and tugged on her belt loops, making her smile.


                                                       * * * *

Not long later they had the plan set and began to head to the temple. Vala had handed the extra weapons to her boys and Seevis, but only showed the extra floor plans to the boys when Seevis had briefly left the room. When Daniel had asked how this woman, Pilar, had know about this she had just smiled and told him it was a story for another time. He accepted her answer, but made a mental note to ask her about that later.


With Seevis’ help they headed to the temple. He led them to the back area of the temple by the gardens where the treasury was. Cam made sure nobody followed them and Teal’c made sure that Seevis wasn’t lying to them or getting ready to betray them. Unlike Vala and Daniel, they weren’t worried with what they would find in the temple, instead they were focused on making sure they left he planet just as they had come in – alive.


Seevis led them to a small area where it looked like the vines had escaped from the confines of the garden and began to scale the walls of the temple. It was at one of these walls that Seevis stopped at and motioned for Daniel to help him. Together, they moved one of the larger stones by the bottom to reveal a hidden entrance.


“Couple of years ago there was an air fight between Ba’al and Bastet. After he had us restore the temple, me and the boys just added a couple new things that we never mentioned. It will take you straight into the treasury.”


“Thank you.” Vala turned to Seevis.


“I’ll stand guard for you. You’ll have a few hours – that’s when the next Jaffa patrol is scheduled to come through. About five meters in you’ll find torches.”


Vala nodded and ducked into the entranced followed by Daniel and Cam. Teal’c opted to stand guard with Seevis.


As they made their way into the temple all three cursed and grumbled, as they moved through the enclosed space. Finally they reached a dead end, where they had to lean and pushed the wall that separated them from the treasury. They practically had to squeeze through the sliver of space that the wall gave them.


Inside the treasury they all took deep breaths and basked in the awe of the opulence that laid inside. The Goa’uld, the one thing you could say about them in almost praise was that they were greedy asses. The room held chests and stacks of gold, jewels, silks and furs. For a moment all three just stood and stared at the room, then Vala took out the holo-disc Pilar had left her, laid it down over one of the silk laden tables, and turned it on.


Cam bent over the plans. “What are we looking for?”


“According to these plans there should be a panel that opens here and leads to an underground room.” Daniel pointed to the opposite wall, by on of the marble statues.


“What is it with people and secret underground rooms?” Cam rolled his eyes looking at the floor plans, which also showed a tunnel connected to the room.


Vala chuckled with a smirk, “The room in Castiana was actually up some stairs.”


“Tomatoe, tomato.”


“Actually there’s quiet a difference between up and down.”


“They were both stillsecret rooms…”


Daniel sighed and, ignoring the bantering duo, he walked over to the far wall. “Can we focus?”


Cam and Vala glanced at each other then headed over to where Daniel was. All three gazed at the wall where the hidden panel was said to be. The wall, Vala could tell, definitely had Tau’rian characteristics, early Tau’rian – very early Tau’rian. She could see it had references to the Stargates and the Keeper of Gates.


Cam cleared his throat, and stepped back, waving them forward. “Well guys, do your thing.”


Daniel rolled his eyes and studied the wall. Stepping closer, he pointed to a portion of the wall. “Here it talks about the porta to the heavens, obviously a reference to the Gates. And the same goes here. But look here,” he directed Vala to a different section. “Here when it mentions the Gate it uses the word thura, which if I’m not mistaken is the direct translation of…”


“Door,” Vala finished for him and leaned in to take a better look. “Your lessons paid off,” she winked at him and he smiled. “And here it talks about the Keeper of Gates, Janus.”


“Yeah, but it mentions him here too.”


“But there it doesn’t call him the Protector of Doors.”


“What?” Daniel looked at the words. It was the slightest variation but it made all the difference.


“You see,” Vala took a few steps back and took in the glyphs and pictures that covered the area. “Janus was the keeper and protector of gates and doors. He was also known as the Protector of the State, in old mythology. It makes sense that they would have used him to guard this. We should look for something else that mentions him or shows his image.” She let her eyes roam over the tiles, glyphs, and pictograms, and right next to her Daniel did the same.


“You know I really like how you know all the mythologies, makes this go much faster…” Daniel stated, eyes still searching for any clue.


“I told you I’d be the best assistant you’d ever had.” Vala gave him a quick glance before resuming her study of the wall. Daniel rolled his eyes, a small smile on his face.


Their eyes fell on the same image at the same time, “There!”, but on opposite sides of the wall.


They turned to look at each, a little challenge in both pairs of eyes. “What?”


Daniel pointed to the tile his eyes had fallen on. It was a large tile with the chiseled profile of man with sharp eyes and full curls. Vala’s eyes grew confused and looked at her own tile piece.




“They’re the same.” Daniel sighed disappointed.


Vala bit her lips. The tiles were the same. Exactly the same. Then she smiled and turned to Daniel. He looked at her in similar confusion and then in complete confusion as she pressed a quick kiss to his lips. “You’re genius, darling. Help me out you two.”


“With what?” Cam asked, making a mental note to ask Daniel about that kiss. His friend hadn't looked to shocked when it had been over.


“The tiles, we have to move them.” She stepped over to where one tile was.


Cam shared a look with Daniel, who seemed to be playing catch up, and shrugged. “Okay, I’m game. But why?” He went to the opposite tile, taking a stool and using his pocketknife to lift it off the wall.


“She wants to switch them.” Daniel replied, giving Vala a hand, obviously having caught up.


“Correct, dar-ling.” She grunted the last word as she jimmied the tile off the wall. Hopping down, she went over to Cam’s side of the wall.


He was still looking at them with confusion. “Why?” Cam walked over to where Vala had been after she waved him over.


Vala took Daniel’s hand as he helped her get up. He answered for her. “Janus.”


“Still lost.”


Vala smiled as she moved to put in the new tile, “Janus was part of Tau’rian mythology – the Keeper…”


“Yeah, I got that,” Cam called from the other side.


“He was also usually depicted having two faces. Two faces looking in opposite directions from each other. Forwards and backwards. Most people think it was to show two-facedness, but it was so he could see what was coming and going from the doorways. Some thought it was because he could he see backwards and forwards in time. Either way, when we came, in the tiles, the faces, where facing each other.”


Cam smiled with awareness. “And now they’ll be facing opposite each other. Gotcha.”


“Okay, you ready?”


“Say when.”


Vala met Daniel’s eyes and shared a nod. “On the count of three, push the tile.”


Daniel counted. “One. Two. Three.”


Cam and Vala pushed their tiles into the wall as far as they could go, and then the wall seemed to vibrate and the tiles moved in further by themselves. All three heard the creak of a panel in the wall opening up for them.


Daniel, Vala and Cam looked at the opening with triumph.


At once the threesome headed into it and Vala stuck her head in. “Looks like a stairway.” She turned to Cam and Daniel. “You coming?”


Daniel started forward, but Cam hung back. “You two go, I’ll stay here and stand guard. If anything happens you’ll hear this wall close very loudly behind you.” Then thinking it over he added, “And me running to catch up.”


Grabbing her flashlight, Vala turned it on and stepped into the stairway, Daniel right next to her. They followed the stairway down to a dark room. The second they were fully inside the room lit up. Fire sprung from a long sconce that surroundwed the upper half of the room and then continued down a seemingly endless corridor.


“If you immediately know the candlelight is fire…” Vala and Daniel muttered at the same time and then stared at each other.


“How do you know that?” Daniel asked in shock.


“Oh, um… it’s an old saying from my planet. You?” Vala stared at the room in front of her.


“I studied with Oma for about six months not long after…” Daniel trailed off, but Vala understood. They stood in silence for a couple minutes.


“So,” Vala perked up, “I think we head down the corridor.”


“What makes you think that?”


“Well, this room doesn’t seem to have much else but wall hangings, pieces of art and crates, I don’t think that we’ll find what we’re looking for here.” And it was true the room was covered with tapestries, canvases and ornate wooden crates, which only seemed to hold cushions.


“Plus Pilar, marked the room at the end of the tunnel for us,” Vala added, staring forward.


Ah, you’re going to have to tell me about this Pliar of yours.” Daniel fell into step with her.


“Jealous, darling?” Vala leaned into him, a playful smirk on her face.


“Not even a little.” Daniel gave her a quick kiss, “Curious though.”


They began walking down the corridor. “Old friend, very old friend. She sorta took me under her wing after I left Tau’ri. She knew about leaving her home too…”


Daniel said nothing, walking silently with her.


At the other end of the corridor they found a door. It was old and the handle was rusted and locked, Vala just smiled and took out the oddest set of lock picks that Daniel had ever seen from her jacket pocket. A few seconds and a kick to the door later, it opened graciously for them. With a smile, Vala tucked the lock picks back into her jacket.


“Those old friends too?” Daniel pushed the door open and held it open for her.


“The oldest.” She placed a kiss on his cheek and then stared at the room in awe. It was full of texts. Three-fourth of the walls were brimming with texts. Daniel and Vala looked at each other.


“Something tells me the weapon isn't here…” Vala sighed.


Daniel nodded, “But maybe we can find a reference to where it was really hidden.”


They both looked at the number of texts that littered the walls then looked back at each other. “This is going to take longer than planned.” Vala dropped her sack.


Daniel headed to the first shelf and began looking through the first text he grabbed. Vala did the same for the opposite wall. And there they worked going through each text systematically both marveling at what was written in some and wishing they could do this faster.


After the first hour, Vala slammed down her current manuscript. “Gods, there must be a faster way. Have we checked W for weapon?”


Daniel chuckled, “It was the first thing you did. At least everything here is organized alphabetically. You have no idea how many temples and digs I’ve gone to where everything is just a big mess.”


“Well lovely for whoever organized this – still doesn’t help us get through it any faster.”


“Vala…” Daniel stared at her over his text.


“No, we’re on a tight schedule on a planet I’d rather not be on, we need to speed this up a bit.”


Daniel sighed, he knew she was right. He stood. “Okay, what do we know so far?”


Vala looked up at Daniel. “We know that we’re looking for a weapon, that whoever built it used to be Ascended, that it’s connected to my now eviscerated planet, that we found the device on Castiana…maybe look under that…that the device mentions the Artorian legends which was kind of a shock… Maybe we should look for references to the legends…that the answer should be here…”


“And that the weapon is connected to the First,” spoke a soft voice behind them.


They both turned in shock for that did not sound like Cam.


                                                       * * * *

The minute she saw her chance she took it. She knew that they did not have the time they required to find the answers they sought. They would require assistance. So the minute she saw her chance, she took it. She knew the others would not argue her decision, but she knew her collaborators would warn her if anything should happen.


She closed her eyes and opened them again finding herself back on the plane she had left not too long ago.


                                                       * * * *

Oma Dessala looked at her two warriors. Both stood with dumbfounded expression on their faces, looking like they had just seen a ghost, which she had to admit they almost were.


“Hello Daniel, Vala.” She smiled at the two.


“Oma…” Daniel breathed. Vala just stood in shock.


“You two might want to stop staring at me and start focusing on what’s around you.” Her voice was amused but her eyes shrewd.


“What are you doing here?” Daniel asked. “Did you Descend?”


“No, Daniel. I am merely presenting myself on your plane, I am still very much Ascended, but I think it would be best to save the small talk for later.”


“Oh, right, sorry.” Daniel blinked and focused on his technically dead friend, “Are you here to help us? Because we would appreciate it.”


“It’s all right, and yes, I am.” Pausing, she looked over the room, “You should look in that section.” Oma pointed to one of the higher shelves by where Vala stood still as tomb.


“Excuse me?” Daniel stared.


“Over by where Vala is, Daniel. The shelf near the top.”


“Are you sure?”


Oma just gave a look.


“Oh, right… Thank you.” Daniel headed over to Vala, who barely moved to get out of his way. Looking at the silver-eyed woman, Oma could sense how her heart rate had picked up and walked over to ease the other woman’s worry. She smiled and whispered to the woman, “Do not feel shame or worry, Vala. Your choices were not ill-conceived, you had – have – your own path to follow. In life, in anything, all we can do is follow our hearts.” Oma glanced at Daniel who was looking through the text she had pointed out. “You are doing well.”


Vala was choking on her words; she had never expected to ever come face to face with the Priestess of Kheb, even when she had…


“I’m sorry,” Vala whispered, eyes clouding with tears, “I shouldn’t have…”


Oma interrupted her apology. “You need not apologize, Vala. All you must do is help Daniel find the answers you seek. You need to look for The First.” Oma closed her eyes. “You should look there.” She pointed to another shelf; Vala nodded and followed Oma’s hand.


Daniel, who had missed most of the exchange between the women, questioned. “The First?”


Oma nodded, offhandedly straightening her white robe, “The First and The Weapon come hand in hand. Many believe they are one and the same, and in many ways they are. To find The Weapon, you must find The First. To find The First, you must find The Weapon. The First leads to The Weapon, The Weapon leads to The First. Together they lead to a great Power. The Power leads to The Command. Then circle is complete – all sides brought together.”


“Circles don’t have sides,” Vala pointed out.


“Then you are just looking at the shape and not the circle itself.”


Daniel and Vala shared uneasy looks. “And what does that mean? Why can't you tell us where this weapon is?”


“You will know when you need too.” Oma looked at them, “This isn’t just about where the weapon is held, but why it is held there, and that is a journey I cannot help you with.”


“Of course, it’s always riddles with you lot, isn’t it?” Vala scoffed.


Oma smirked. “Riddles are only riddles if you look at them that way. A riddle can be an answer if what you see is an answer.”


“Like I said.”


Just then Oma felt a pull from far away, she had less time than she had hoped for, at least she could point them in the right direction. Quickly turning to Daniel, Oma stated. “Look for all texts written by Moros, Melia and Janus.” She paused, “Vala, look for references to Ghannis La’al. Now, I am sorry, but I must leave.”

“Wait, we need your help!” Daniel exclaimed.


“Just give us the answer before you go.” Vala added.


Oma bowed her head. “You have what you need for what you must do.” She gave both Daniela and Vala one last look, her eyes taking a distinct forlorn look – they had much to bear.


With those words Oma closed her eyes and left. They had what they need to find their answer, the answer to this galaxy’s salvation, and they had each other. She just hoped that it would all be enough.


After Oma had left Daniel and Vala stood once again in shocked silence.


“Well, that was cryptic,” Vala stated going back to the texts.


Daniel stared at the shelves. “That was Oma. So…”


“Moros, Melia, Janus – ironically enough – and Ghannis La’al.” Vala ticked them off, counting them out with her fingers.


“Let’s find them.”


It took them another couple of hours, and several dust induced sneezes later, to find as many of the texts that Oma had led them too as possible. They were packing up all the texts they could when Cam had radioed them telling them that their time was running out. As Vala and Daniel rushed out of the room and down the corridor, Vala looked back to where Oma had stood. The woman had told her not to feel sorry, but Vala didn’t think she could ever feel anything but sorry. She had abandoned everything because she had been scared, and now even if she managed to succeed in this she would still know that the reason she was alive was because she had been scared, and nothing would be able to change that.


Getting back to the secret room Vala’s eyes fell on a small wall hanging, she didn’t know why but it called out to her with its vivid colours and rich textures. Quickly grabbing it, she stuffed it in her sack and followed Daniel up to the treasury. There they met with Cam, who closed the panel behind them.


“We have to hurry, according to Seevis and Teal’c the next Jaffa patrol should be coming by in about ten minutes, and I dunno know about you, but I’d rather be back on the ship when that happens.” He grabbed Vala’s sack.


“You’re not the only one.”


Daniel nodded. “Lets go.”


Together the three of them headed back out they way they had come to where Seevis and Teal’c were waiting for them. Outside Vala took Teal’c’s hand as he helped her up and smiled at her friend.


“We got them.”


“Then let us leave.” Covering up the hidden entrance, the group of temple looters head back to the relative safety of the bar.


                                                       * * * *

It was dark when they got back to the Mermide, after avoiding Jaffa patrols and using almost every back alley Seevis and Vala knew. It had taken them longer than planned, but at least they were safe. Coming in through the back, they now stood in Seevis’ back room, happy with their success. Daniel had an arm wrapped around Vala’s waist and she leaned happily on him. Cam radioed Jack informing the captain of their shortly occurring return – they all wanted to get back to the ship, as fast as possible.


“Well, we got them.” Vala smiled.


“Yeah, we got them.” Daniel met and held Vala’s gaze, glad that they were heading back to the ship. He still had a tight knot in his stomach, which he knew would not dissipate until they were far from Sahal. Vala felt the same way.


“Then today was indeed a success.” Teal’c stated, carefully handling the manuscripts they had gathered.


“Okay, gang,” Cam broke in, “time to go.” With three separate nods, they all looked to Seevis who nodded back.


“Well, it was good to see you, girl.” He walked over and gave Vala a quick hug and two more kisses on her cheeks. “Now, I don’t want you ever coming back here until that bounty is gone or that bastard is dead.”


“Not a problem.” Vala nodded, hugging her crooked friend back.


Seevis turned to the men with a stiff nod. “It was good working with you, always an exciting activity. Now get out of here.”


“Like the princess said, no problem.”


Again the foursome headed out of the back room of the bar to leave through the front.


Just as they passed the counter they heard, “Jaffa! Kree!” In shock everyone turned to the door of the bar as Jaffa invaded the room. They didn’t even have time to react as the Jaffa parted and a smooth, serpentine voice sliced through the air.


Teal’c and his lovely partner, Vala, finally a name to such a fine-looking face. It’s so good to see you two again.”



CHAPTER XIV:  A Devil’s Waltz


It really was only by a slip of the tongue that the information that the Shol’va, Teal’c, and his human partner, Vala, were in Melina got to Ba’al’s Jaffa. And it was a stroke of bad luck that the information got to jaffas loyal to their god.


It had been one of Seevis’ boys that had overheard Denya and Vala in the bar, and when he went to tell his friend that the almost infamous Vala Mal Duran and Teal’c were in the Mermide, he had not watched himself and spilled the beans to a passing Jaffa patrol.


After that everything else that happened was like a dominos motion – one small oblong piece, causing the next one to fall and so on and so on until the last piece fell and they all laid on the floor waiting to be pick up again.


                                                       * * * *

Ba’al walked into the room, and everybody, everything froze – all seemed to slow as if time was passing through tree sap; and then just as quickly time sped back up, shattering the amber-encased moment and everything, everyone, moved.


The Jaffa shot their staffs and zats.


The patrons of the bar tried to dodge and take cover.


Seevis tried to make it to the safety of his backroom.


Teal’c shoved Vala out of the way and shot at Ba’al and his Jaffa, as did Cam and Daniel.


Vala, who had taken that extra second Teal’c had given her to gather herself, moved from behind her friend and joined in. Like hell he was going to coddle her…

A few of the mercs and assassins in the bar began fighting as well, but most were shot down almost instantly.


Cam kicked down a couple tables, using them as a makeshift cover while he tried to think of a way out of this mess. Teal’c was trying to get to Ba’al, but too many Jaffa came between him and the man. Nothing seemed to help them, and with only the upward motion of Ba’al’s hand the foursome were all pushed back by the pulse wave of the hand device, roughly slamming into the wall and counter behind them.


As they lay groaning on the floor struggling to get back up, Ba’al had his Jaffa bring forward the unwilling betrayer. The Jaffa held Denya, her forehead carrying the burn of the mind probe, tears falling from her jade eyes.


“I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” she sobbed repeatedly. “They came… I… I tried telling them they were wrong… I’m sorry… I’m sorry…”


Vala and Seevis looked at the young woman in pain and sorrow, struggling to get back up to help her.


“Let…her go…” Vala groaned.


Ba’al smirked and motioned his Jaffa closer to grab the fallen figures. He planned to have some fun with all of them, especially the woman and the Shol’va.


As the Jaffa got closer, they forgot that the Shol’va they were dealing with was Teal’c of Chulak, and the one thing Teal’c knew was how to fight, and how to gain the advantage in a fight. As soon as the closest Jaffa got to him, Teal’c lifted his powerful legs and pushed the Jaffa forcibly, sending him flying back several feet. He then lifted himself up and grabbing the fallen staff weapon, he spun it and aimed it at another Jaffa.


Cam took the chance that Teal’c had offered them and pushed himself up. Groaning, he punched the closest Jaffa, blocking a sweep of the staff like he had been taught. Ducking the oncoming punch, he turned and pointed his gun straight at the Jaffa’s head. Cam didn’t blink as he pulled the trigger and moved to the next Jaffa.


While Cam was dealing with his Jaffa, Daniel was busy with his own. He had gotten up when Cam had, and briefly helping Vala up, he had almost gotten shot in the back, had Vala not taken her gun and shot at the Jaffa behind him. Now he was ducking a punch from a Jaffa as he lifted his arm to elbow him in the face. As that Jaffa was momentarily disabled, he took the opportunity to shoot at the oncoming one, before shooting at the one he had elbowed.


Not far from Daniel, Vala picked up a discarded staff weapon and began firing on the Jaffa. Striking one in the stomach she twirled the stick to hit him in the face as he fell to the floor. She then pulled her gun and fired at a Jaffa that had been getting too close to Cam.


Seevis grabbed his hidden gun from under the counter and joined the fight. He was trying to get to Denya who was crawling to a fallen table, tears still falling freely – the Jaffa had discarded her when the fight broke out.


Seevis fought back and watched as Vala and her friends fought, and fought hard. His eyes then fell back towards Denya, who was now crouching on the floor, but it wasn’t the girl that held his attention. It was Ba’al.


Ba’al, who was just standing there with a sly smirk on his face. The Goa’uld did nothing but smirk, and Seevis knew things were about to get worse.


Ba’al lifted his hand and Seevis called out, moving in front of the Goa’uld. “Watch out!” The warning cost him his life, as this time Ba’al’s pulse wave was strong enough to crush his bones and his organs. But in an odd twist of luck, his death had bought them time. Ba’al now had to wait for this new hand device to gather enough energy for the next his shot.


“No!” Vala heard Denya call out as Seevis fell, blood coming out of his nose and mouth. She turned to Teal’c. “We need to get out here! Five minutes ago!” She shot and blasted her way towards Daniel, who had just shot down another Jaffa.


“I’m on it!” Cam called out as he dodged a staff blast by jumping over the counter. Behind the counter, Cam called the ship. “Prometheus, come in! Prometheus!”


The static seemed endless, and then, “Cam? What’s going on? Is everything okay?” Above Cam glass bottles shattered and he had to cover his face at the falling shards.


“No, I wouldn’t say that! We’re under fire. Ba’al’s Jaffa. We need you to beam us out, like yesterday.”


Again there was static, before Jack came back – his voice fierce. “Get ready down there, you’re coming home.” Cam had never heard such beautiful words. Standing, he called out.


“Get ready, guys! We’re getting zapped!” Cam jumped back over the counter, firing, and made his way to Teal’c, Daniel and Vala.


Daniel sighed gratefully, beginning to feel the odd and familiar sensation of the beam. It was only as the white light flashed, that Cam and Daniel noticed that Teal’c and Vala weren’t glowing white like they were. So did Vala and Teal’c, both getting increasingly worried. In a split second Cam quickly reached out and wrapped his strong arms around Teal’c who was the closest to him. Daniel did the same for Vala.


White flashed.


                                                       * * * *

Jack watched in apprehension as the group appeared stumbling to the floor on the bridge of the Prometheus in left over momentum. He sighed in relief for a second, when he noticed three pairs of limbs instead of four and paled.


As the three detangled from each other, Jack watched as they all paled as he had.


It was Cam that broke the uneasy silence. “Where’s Vala?”


                                                       * * * *

On Sahal, in the now ruined Mermide, Vala fell to the floor, which had almost been Daniel’s arms. As a tear escaped her eyes, she closed them and turned them into grey steel as she faced the monster at her back.


Struggling with fear and more than a few bruises, she managed to get up. “Ba’al.”


Vala Mal Duran. It is a lovely name, I have to admit.” He said her name as if he was savouring it and strode over to her, eyes flashing gold. “So what, pray tell, did you want in my temple, my dear?” Ba’al asked as his hand grabbed Vala by the neck, his fingers crushing it slightly.


Vala spat in his face.


“Ah, I see you haven’t changed.” Ba’al grinned evilly, his grip growing tighter. “This will be entertaining.”


                                                       * * * *

The bridge of the Prometheus was filled with an edged silence that seemed to halt the air itself. Sam was pale, Cam stood frozen, but Jack kept his eyes on Teal’c and Daniel. Both stood stiffly, taught wires that when snapped would sting and scar everything they touched. Jack could see the tension Daniel’s body held and began preparing for what he knew would come next.




“Why weren’t they beaming out with us?” Daniel asked, his voice low.


Sam stepped forward, knowing her answer wouldn’t appease her friend – knowing nothing could appease her friend, “The transmitting devices we have in our arms we… I never gave them to Caro to implant in Teal’c and Vala.”


“So I grabbed for her too late.”


“Daniel,” Sam sighed.


Daniel ignored Sam and turned to Jack, “We need to get her back.” It was not a statement, but a demand.


“Daniel,” Jack started to speak only to be cut off.


“No. No, Jack.” Daniel’s eyes flashed in rare anger that would not be easily remedied, “I left a planet once before with no argument because they were dead. I knew there wasn’t anything more I could do. It’s different this time – she’s alive. I know she’s alive and we need to get her back. And if you don’t want t— ”


“Daniel!” Jack interrupted. “Whoever said we weren’t going to help her.”


Daniel met Jack’s brown eyes and saw something he hadn’t seen in a long time. Fury. Determination. He felt unconsciously better – they were going to get her back.


Jack turned to his crew, shifting into the commanding officer that he seldom unleashed. “Walter, I want you to get Ferretti, Evans and Markowitz and have them ring down to the planet, go to this bar and see if they can get any information about what happened there tonight and where Ba’al might have taken Vala. And I want a report in an hour.”


“Yes, sir.”


“Cam, I want you to brief those three and get me all the intel we have about Ba’al and this planet.”


“Already done.”


Cam and Walter rushed out of the room.






“I want you to go with Teal’c and get him that damn transmitter, get one ready for Vala too.” Teal’c was already moving to the door as he heard the words.


“Yes, sir.” Sam followed Teal’c out of the room – the man a silent warrior preparing for a fight.


Jack then turned to Daniel. His friend tense and still, the air around him vibrating with an aura of worry and anger. “Can you handle this?” Jack asked, placing a hand on the younger man’s shoulder.


Daniel just raised his eyes and looked at him. Jack sighed, “Okay then, get cleaned up. I want you all in the office in an hour.” Daniel left the bridge taking his silence with him.


Jack turned to the remaining crew, all jump-started under their captain’s hard gaze. “There is no disengaging that cloak.”


                                                       * * * *

Vala’s mother had been raised with impeccable manners, and she had tried to impart them upon her children. She had taught them which utensils to use and when to use them, she had taught them not to raise their voice, not to curse, not to fight without reason, not to spit in public, to always be courteous and polite. She had been a woman of impeccable manners and a striking smile.


Vala had chosen to keep only one of the two qualities.


In the Jaffa’s arms she had kicked, cursed, screamed and spat. She had fought her way free for a second, but then was grabbed just as quickly.


After her almost escape she had been rendered unconscious. Now she woke with a splitting headache and the knowledge that things were going to get worse. Getting up she saw that she was in a small, pit-like room with no visible escape hatches or way to climb up, and looking up she saw that it would be quiet a ways up too. Sighing she let her head fall backwards to the wall, cursing herself for the move, as she slid down dejected. She had to find a way out this mess.


She heard a noise from above. Looking up, she saw a Jaffa looking down at her.


“You are awake. Lord Ba’al will be pleased to hear this.”


Vala scoffed, “I’m sure. Be sure to tell him I liked the palace in Selenis better.”


The Jaffa just glared at her and walked away. Vala again let her head drop.


She had to find a way out this. Quickly.


                                                       * * * *

All five stood in Jack’s office. Cam was the first to speak up, “How are we going to do this?”


Teal’c stepped forward. “I have informed Bra’tac of the situation. He is sending all the information he has on Ba’al and his fortress on the planet, as well as the names of certain undercover Jaffa in Ba’al’s operation.”


“Caro already gave Teal’c the transmitter and I’m taking this,” Sam showed them a small black med kit that held the pistol injector, “to be ready to give one to Vala as soon as we find her.”


“Get me an extra one.” Jack stated. Sam looked at him questioning, but nodded.


“We’ve also taken all the information we have on Ba’al and the rough layout of the fortress, but he might have made a few changes since last time. After we compare it with what we’re getting from Bra’tac we should be able to get a better idea of what to expect.” Cam added.


Jack nodded. “Okay, good. Now I don’t want to be the bad guy here but how do we know that Ba’al hasn't just killed her?” Looking at everybody in the room, he avoided looking at Daniel.


Daniel stared at Jack. He hated Jack’s question but knew it was a question that had to be asked.


“Because,” Teal’c answered, eyes glancing to Daniel before facing Jack, “five years ago on the planet Selenis, Vala Mal Duran and I killed the goa’uld Katesh, his queen. He will want to… take his time.” Teal’c finished the sentence with cold hatred burning in his eyes.


Jack straightened; more determined than before, because he knew just how Ba’al would like to use that time. “We’ll get her back. But even with all this, I hope you all know that it’s going to be a bitch getting in and out of that fortress – again. You remember what it was like to get me out.”


Daniel spoke for the first time since he entered the room, voice tight. “So we’ll do it again.”


Jack smiled; it was the edged and sharp not-smile that had gotten him several nicknames back in the Abydonian army. “Damn right we will.”


“Sir?” They heard from the com.


Jack pressed the com. “Yes, Walter?”


“We just got the wave from the Jaffa.”


“Send it down.” A few seconds later, Jack’s rarely used table screen lit with the information from the wave. Sam leaned over and brought up all the files they already had on the fortress and the five of them leaned over it. There could be nothing left to chance.


                                                       * * * *

Vala fought every inch of the way as the Jaffa dragged her to where Ba’al was waiting. Part of her knew it was in vain, but another part wasn’t willing to give up so easily. When they finally to got the room, she vaguely noticed the doorways and window, but kept their positions in her memory. She was dragged and thrown against a wall that seemed to grip at her skin and clothes. It didn’t take her long to understand she couldn’t move.


This was not good.


Then the opposite doorway opened and she felt part of her freeze as Ba’al walked in, his lo’tar following him like a sick puppy. The lo’tar stood and waited as his ‘god’ extended his arms, then he obediently took Ba’al’s outer robes. It made Vala sick, and now Ba’al stood in front of her, his cruel smirk chilling her to her bones.


“Now, my dear, I should be probing you about what you wanted with my temple first,” he raised his hand and Vala tensed with fear, “but lucky for you that can wait – I have an awfully handy sarcophagus, and we have a previously pending situation, don’t we?”


“Now, Ba’al, you can't still be upset about that, can you? I mean, Katesh? I always heard she was a bit of whore anyway. I honestly think I did you a favour for taking care of her,” she smirked.


Ba’al slapped her and Vala winced at the sting of it. She spat out the blood that gathered in her mouth back at him. Okay, obviously that was still a sore spot. She watched as Ba’al walked across the room and opened a case his lo’tar had place on the table. Vala felt her blood freeze. She watched as Ba’al slowly laid out the ten short daggers on the velvet cloth as if they were precious jewels and then watched as he opened a small case, long, thin and black. From this case he took out a syringe filled with a pale yellow liquid.


Turning to her, Ba’al held the syringe up and presented it to Vala. “This little cocktail is what you would call a neural enhancer, it will intensify anything you feel, any sensation.” He walked up to her and gently dragged the point of the syringe across her skin, she tried to move her head away but couldn’t, she only felt a drop of the liquid trail down her cheek like a yellow tear. Ba’al stood right in front of her and whispered quietly, as his eyes flashed gold, “Especially pain.” He smiled and roughly injected the liquid into her neck.


Vala groaned, but didn’t cry out. After the liquid was fully in, he removed the syringed, and Vala ground out through clenched teeth. “I’m going to kill you.”


Ba’al laughed as he walked away towards the table with the daggers. “I have no doubt that you believe that, but one thing is for sure, my dear Vala – I’m going to kill you first.” Turning he picked up one of the daggers, aimed it and launched it at her. Almost as if she was outside her body, Vala watched as the dagger cut through the air like it was on a mission and its mission was to embed itself in her chest.


Vala wished she could later say she didn’t scream, that she was strong and didn’t give Ba’al the satisfaction. She would be half right – she hadn’t screamed but the sound that had left her lips had been an unnatural one, one reminiscent of a dying beast looking for mercy. Ba’al didn’t wait for her to stop before he launched the next dagger and the next.


Then Vala did scream. Loudly, and for a long time.


Vala screamed until sound could no longer escape her bloodied lips.


                                                       * * * *

A couple hours later, Jack looked over at each person in the room. “Let’s get this done.” Together the five looked at each other and left the room in grim determination.


When the group beamed down to the planet they beamed into the Mermide, where Ferretti, Evans, and Markowitz had arrived earlier. It had been the dirtiest, dodgiest, dingiest, most corrupt bar in all of Melina, and now it was little more than a war zone. Denya, who had somehow managed to survive along with a few other patrons who had long ago left, sat by the counter as Evans tended to her wound. When the white lights flashed again, she turned her head in awe as the arriving group now stood where her friend had been taken, and the man that had practically raised her had been killed.


“What are you doing back?” she spat at them.


Cam stepped forward. “We’re here to get Vala back.”


Denya looked at them for a beat, poised to argue and then nodded. “Get her back safe.”


“Are you sure you should stay here? It can’t be safe…” Sam asked, looking around at the mess around her.


Denya followed Sam’s eyes and smiled sadly. “It’s my home. I’ll hide out with friends for a while, and then I’ll fix it up.” She looked at the bar. “If there’s one thing that ex-cons and crooks like, it’s a place with a sordid history.” She smiled ironically, her jade eyes falling to where Seevis still laid covered in a tablecloth. “I should call Gran, she’ll want to know.”


Jack and company stared at the young woman in silence for a few seconds, then Jack turned to Ferretti.




“Yes, sir?”


“I’m going to need you three to join us as we take the fortress. You’ll be going with Sam and Daniel. Evans, you’ll be with Teal’c and myself. Cam, you and Markowitz will be the last team.” Jack headed towards one of the tables, placing his holo-disc down and turning it on to show the layout of the fortress.


“Okay, here is how it’s going to go. We’re going to make our way in here through this weak tower base that the rebellion has provided for us. Then we’re going to make our way to this building by the inner wall and there should be a passage way that will lead us inside this room that, according to the plans, is…”


“The armoury,” Sam filled in and clicked on the hologram, zooming in on the inside of the fortress.


Jack continued. “Cam and Markowitz, here is where you two are going to hold our position. Ferretti, you, Sam and Daniel are going to head to Ba’al’s little holding pits where hopefully Vala will be. Me, Evans and T, here, we’ll be going to his fun room, where we hope Vala isn't. The minute we have her we rendezvous, get her a transmitter, and radio the Prometheus. Then it’s bye-bye, Sahal. Everybody got that?” Jack looked up at his team.


They all nodded.


“Okay, then we head out.” As the group left the bar, Cam turned back to Denya.


“You better get out of this place soon.” He met her sad eyes in sympathy.


Denya nodded, and motioned to one of Seevis’ boys who stood by the man’s body. “We’re just going to get him out of here first. Good luck.”


Cam nodded and left the Mermide Beni Salama. A few minutes later Denya and the man left also, hefting between them the body of Seevis, the former owner of the dirtiest, dodgiest, dingiest, most corrupt bar in the city of Melina.


                                                       * * * *

Ba’al grinned maniacally as he held the hand device to Vala’s head. He had to admit the woman was strong, both mentally and physically. Already back from her second trip to the sarcophagus, she still resisted the probe and still fought against him and his Jaffa. If he had known she would have been this fun, he would have played with her more when he had her back on Selenis. She had been stubborn then too, but then his queen had wanted her. Katesh would have loved to inhabit this body, and break it from the inside out.


Katesh. His queen. His Katesh. Whom this one had killed. Fury burned through him like a virus and he exerted more pressure on the hand device.


“Tell me what you were doing in the temple!”


Vala had to bite her tongue to keep from crying out. “Taking in the sites, it’s been a while since I’ve been here and I heard the new decor was really good.”


Eyes flashing, Ba’al pushed harder.


Vala struggled, feeling the burning pressure on her forehead, inside her head. Everything felt like it was being pounded down with a sledgehammer. Vaguely she wondered how long it would be before she died again.


                                                       * * * *

It took them about two hours to get to the fortress. A large, long structure near the outskirts of the city, built hundred of years ago, its composition barely needed to change, telling everyone just how fortified it was. Over the course of those years, very few people had managed to break into it, and even fewer had managed to break out. To many it would be a daunting task, but the crew of the Prometheus had already managed to do it once before.


It was just a matter of doing it again.


They were up for the challenge.


Getting through the outer wall was the easy part, especially considering the weak tower base that allowed them their in. Under the cover of night, they had managed to avoid the outside patrols and disabled the one they had encountered. Inside the fortress, reaching the inner wall was a great deal more complicated. They had less cover, about a hundred feet, and more Jaffa guards.


Cam took point as they started to head through the hundred feet that would take them to the building with their way in. Thankful for the cover of night they made the first fifty feet with relative easiness. Fifty-five feet in, Cam heard the two words he hated the most.


“Halt!” They all moved back deeper into the shadows of the wall.


Turning, the group saw a small Jaffa patrol heading their way. Teal’c turned to Jack and the others. “Continue, I will handle them.”


For a second it looked like Jack was going to argue with the man, but then nodded. “We’ll meet at the building. Cam, Markowitz, stay with Teal’c.” Cam nodded, moving towards the Jaffa guard, and watched as Jack and the others continued.


Teal’c and Markowitz stealthily moved forward, and as the Jaffa reached them, Cam dodged a staff blast and punched. The Jaffa guard staggered, and Cam took the opportunity to shoot, hitting the Jaffa square in the chest. The Jaffa fell. Turning, he watched as Teal’c snapped the neck of another one and Markowitz blasted another with his own staff weapon.


“Let’s go.” Nodding, the two other men followed the young commander as they headed towards the building.


Getting there, they were met by Evans who stood guard by the door, waiting to cover them if need be. Rushing inside, Cam immediately held his gun back up, pointing at the Jaffa that stood in the room.


“Don’t shoot!” exclaimed Daniel, standing in front of the Jaffa. “He’s with the rebellion.”


Getting a nod from Jack, Cam lowered his gun and shrugged. “Never hurts to be cautious.”


“Indeed.” Teal’c stepped up and nodded to the younger Jaffa warrior. “Your status?”


“Master Teal’c, I am Hapi.” The Jaffa bowed low. “I received word from the rebellion that you would require assistance in infiltrating the fortress. I will do what you ask.”


“Very well. What do you know of the prisoner Ba’al has acquired?” Teal’c’s voice took a deeper tone, one that would scare anyone into telling the truth. It wasn’t any different for the young Jaffa in front of him.


Hapi looked nervously between the grouped warriors. “I do not know much. I heard that the prisoner, a young human female, had been brought in because she had defied Lord Ba’al. She was taken to the holding pits, but I do not know much else.”


Teal’c nodded, seemingly appeased that Hapi was telling the truth, and placed his large hand on the young man’s shoulder. “That is much help. Thank you, Hapi.”


Cam was about to snort, when he met Sam’s look and then did nothing.


“Okay, then,” Jack said, “the plan doesn’t change. Hapi?”


“Yes, sir!” Hapi stood solider straight.


Jack raised his eyebrow. “We’re going to need to you show us how we’re getting into the fortress from this building, and we’re going to need someone to keep the other Jaffa off our backs as long as possible when we get inside. Can you do that?”


“Yes, sir!”


“Nice.” Jack waved Hapi forward, “Lead the way.”


They all watched as Hapi stepped up to a wall and pushed down on a lever. Slowly but surely a section in the wall opened.


“This way.”


Sam stepped forward. “Jack, here.” She handed him an extra kit with a transmitter. “Just in case you find her first.”


Before they entered Jack said one last thing. “We know what we have to do, so let’s do it.”


They all headed in through the tunnel that went from the outside building to the inner fortress to the armoury. When they reached the armoury, they didn’t need any words as they all split into their groups. Cam watched as Hapi left the room first, signaling that it was safe to follow. Then Jack, Evans and Teal’c left, heading to Ba’al’s torture room. Sam, Daniel, and Ferretti headed towards the holding pits. Popping his head out the door he watched as a Jaffa patrol moved past where they had just missed Sam’s blond head. He turned to Markowitz. “Let’s hope they find Vala fast.”


                                                       * * * *

Ever since they beamed Cam, Daniel and Teal’c on board, Sam had felt enormously guilty. She hadn’t even thought to give to Vala and Teal’c the subspace transmitters. And now they were back in this horrible place because she had been too focused on everything else to do something as easy and simple as giving her friend something that could have saved her life. Double-checking she had the kit, she focused on the route she was on.


Walking carefully through the fortress, she followed the path she had memorized from the layout. She knew this path well – they had followed it for Jack three years ago. She’d never forget it.


Too focused on getting herself, Lou and Daniel to the pits as fast as possible she would have lost her head if Lou had not tackled her and gotten her out of the shot’s range. Moving to the closest cover, she turned her body and began shooting.


“I think they know we’re here,” Daniel called out, quickly moving from his own cover to shoot at the blasting Jaffa.


“Sam, Daniel, when I say move – move! Sam, you lead the way!” Lou yelled as he ducked from a staff blast and tried to make it further down the hallway.


Sam nodded, turning to find Daniel to see if he was ready. Daniel nodded.




As one Sam, Daniel and Lou ran almost backwards down the hall, shooting as the Jaffa advanced on them. Turning a corner, Sam led them down corridors and hallways, when she practically skidded to a halt. “Twelve o’clock!” Shooting at the approaching Jaffa, she just managed to duck out of the way of a zat blast.


Lou didn’t get so lucky as the staff blast hit him straight in the shoulder. Gripping his shoulder the man moved forward and shot the Jaffa dead, before he continued.

Reaching Sam, Daniel joined her in shooting the Jaffa that had gotten in his way. Sam could see the determination in his blue eyes and knew that nothing would stop him from getting to Vala. He pulled her forward and they continued fighting their way to the pit. Sam watched in awe as Daniel shot, punched, and blasted, when they picked up an errant staff, in awe. She knew Daniel was not a solider, but sometimes she forgot that he had been trained by some of the very best ones. Reloading her gun and throwing cartridges to Lou and Daniel, she wondered when he had become a warrior, when they had all become warriors.


“Move!” she called out. Now leading the group, as Lou now moved between her and Daniel, she calculated it would be only a couple more hundred feet to where Vala was, hopefully.


                                                       * * * *

When Ba’al heard of the intrusion of his fortress, he had been in the process of starting his bath. Torture was an exhausting business after all and he had needed to relax, Vala being one of the more frustrating captives he had ever had. She kept on fighting against him, and while amusing, he just really wanted to shut her up. Maybe he would start the next session by ripping out her tongue or slicing her throat. The former would be more fun, but the latter held a certain delicatesse that had him itching for his daggers. His Katesh had always liked knives.


He had wondered if he should have given her this break. She had needed to be revived, but maybe this reprieve would raise her spirits again, compel her to try to escape again. She was on her fourth try. But he didn’t worry too much, she’d be foolish to try a fifth, plus his Jaffa and lo’tar were making sure the woman stayed in her place. A place where she would be for a while – he still needed to figure out why she had snuck into his temple.


But then his bath was interrupted with the news that his fortress was once again being infiltrated, he stood in a rage and killed the Jaffa that had informed him.


Teal’c. The Shol’va. He had come to free his friend. And he had help.


Throwing clothes on, Ba’al’s eyes glowed a fiery gold.


                                                       * * * *

Leading his group, Jack stared at the walls of the fortress around him. Gods be damned, how he hated this place. Suddenly he was wishing he had killed Ba’al when he had had the chance. And if he had the chance today he would. Or he’d give his chance to Vala, who he was sure wouldn’t disagree to killing the creep.


Turning a corner, he motioned Teal’c and Evans to halt as a patrol passed by. They waited for a beat, and then Jack motioned them forward. There were too many patrols for his liking but it didn’t stop him as they continued forwards.


As they turned to the next hallway, Jack jumped back as a staff blast hit the wall. Turning back to Evans and Teal’c, he smirked, “So much for the element of surprise.”


“Indeed,” was all that Teal’c said as he left their cover and began to fight. Jack and Evans just shrugged at each other before they followed the man.


Aiming at the closest Jaffa, Jack fired his gun, Evans right behind him.


Teal’c was busy engaging in hand to hand with two others, and Jack fired again. The Jaffa turned on him and Jack barely missed the punch that came his way, it clipping him in his chin. Staggering, he lowered his body to regain his balanced and saw Evans land the butt of his gun in the Jaffa’s face. Turning, this time he landed his own punch that quickly followed a shot to the leg.


Three hallways and one more patrol later, which Teal’c took care off impressively swiftly, they continued forward until they heard a doorway opening and a sleek voice call out to them.


Teal’c, I expected it was you, but you, O’Neill. I have to say this is an interesting turn of events.” Ba’al stepped forward with an arrogance that Teal’c and Jack wanted to shoot off his face. Surround by his Jaffa, he acted as if he was untouchable.


It was too bad that Teal’c wouldn’t have cared even if he was, as the very livid Jaffa shot at Ba’al. Only one struck, right in Ba’al’s chest and the Jaffa began to fire. Jack managed to get few before taking cover. He saw Teal’c and Evans do the same with the nearby stone columns.


Stumbling and eyes glowing in hate, Ba’al lifted his hand and sent out another pulse wave. Jack, Teal’c and Evans jumped out of the way as the pulse wave hit the wall behind them, crushing it under its pressure.


Ba’al only gave a nasty sideways smile, wiping blood from his lips. “Be sure to tell Vala, it was much more fun this time. And you, O’Neill, it was nice seeing you again. I don’t doubt that we’ll meet again before long.” Teal’c growled as he rushed the Goa’uld, but he would never have reached his goal, as Ba’al ringed out.


“Fuck…” Jack got up and reached Teal’c, grabbing his arm he turned the furious man towards him, “Teal’c! Teal’c!” Teal’c’s eyes met his and Jack knew that sooner or later Ba’al would be a dead man. “Listen to me, at least now we know she’s still alive.” Teal’c just shook Jack off and continued down the corridor.


Jack glanced to where Ba’al had ringed out – he really wanted to shoot that bastard. Following Teal’c and Evans to where he was now sure Vala was being held, he was suddenly he was glad he had sent Daniel with Sam, because if Ba’al’s smirk was anything to go by Vala wouldn’t be in the best shape.


                                                       * * * *

Playing possum was one of the best tricks Vala’s various teachers had taught her. It came in handy in more situations than you could imagine, and in Vala’s opinion it was only second best to playing a sometimes wonko sex kitten. After her second trip from the sarcophagus, she already had it down.


And now back from her fourth trip it was time, the room was now blissfully empty.


It was twelve jaffa steps from this doorway to where they were strapping her down. Then it was ten steps from there to the other door and outside that it was about thirty steps to the first hallway that would hopefully lead her out of here and opposite to the pits they had kept her before. But that didn’t matter right now. Now all that mattered was that it was five steps to the table.


Three. Four. Five.


As the Jaffa passed by the table where the now clean daggers laid, Vala took a mental breath and acted. Extending her arms and swiping a dagger from the table, she bent her leg at the knee and with the heel of her foot she slammed it right into the Jaffa’s nose. She could feel his blood against her skin, as she dug the dagger into his side. Falling with the Jaffa, she scrambled to get up and immediately seeing Ba’al’s lo’tar entering the room she threw the dagger at him. Knife throwing was definitely the third best lesson she had ever been given.


She didn't wait to look as the young man fell to the floor, shock on his face, because she was too busy grabbing two more daggers from the table and rushing out the door. She didn’t register the not so far away sounds of gunshots and staff blast.


Running, the world was a dizzy, hazy cloud. Running, everything was sense, she was all instinct, dodging passing jaffa, ducking behind pillars, striking fast when someone got in her way. Slashes to the neck and arms. Grabs at staff weapons. Blasts at breastplates. Punches where she could land them. She was instinct, not bothering to care about the felled Jaffa because there was only one thought that ran through her head:




Running, she headed to the first exit she could find. Running, she didn’t notice that the gunshots and footsteps where getting closer. All she knew was that she needed to get away, she needed to get to the gate – rings were too risky, she needed to get to Dakarra or Ivalice, because she had no way to make contact with the ship. Turning a corner she paused, someone was coming. She breathed.


Vala counted the approaching steps and right when the oncoming figures would have reached her, she struck. But her dagger would not get to the desired clavicle of her opponent as Teal’c held her arm.


She met her dear friend’s brown eyes and felt relief as he lowered her still dagger-clutching arm. She wouldn't be able to describe the absolute relief she felt in seeing her friend, his strong hand gripping her, Jack behind him holding a gun at her, and Evans covering their backs.


Exhausted, she let herself fall into Teal’c’s arms.


                                                       * * * *

“Vala Mal Duran, can you hear me?”


But Vala said nothing as she held onto her friend as Jack shrugged out of his thick leather jacket and wrapped it around her.


“Vala Mal Duran!” Teal’c repeated, holding her shoulders tightly and getting no response.


“She appears to be in shock, captain,” Evans stated, still covering the group.


Teal’c held her as Jack grabbed her face. “Vala! Look at me, kiddo.” He was in shock over her state. She was pale, so fucking pale, and had silent tears filling her eyes. Her clothes were in tatters, her leather vest barely held together, her pants full of rips, feet bare, one which looked to be bleeding, and dark, almost black, dried blood everywhere. Jack knew all to well what had caused those cuts and rips, just as he knew why there was dried blood all over her, but no apparent open wounds. She had been put in the sarcophagus, which meant she had been brought back to life. Which meant…


“Vala!” Jack gripped her face between his hands, forcing her to look at him, to see him. Hear him.


Sluggishly, Vala met his eyes, blinking. “Captain Jack…” Her eyes were hazy and unfocused, but as Jack still held her face, their eyes connected. Pulling her back to them, they began clearing from the cloudy grey to flashing silver.


Jack never thought he’d like hearing that horrid name again and smiled. “You just couldn’t wait for the rescue, could you?”


In Teal’c’s arms, she coughed – dry and laboriously, but coming back to herself. “I was never the type.”


“Here you go.” Evans gave Vala a water bottle that she took gratefully with a small thank you.


Jack smirked. “Good for you. Give me your arm?” He took out the pistol injector Sam had given him.


Vala looked at him in question, handing the water bottle back to Evans.


“It’s an injector for the subspace transmitter so you can get beamed out.”


“Okay. Go for it.” Vala extended her arm, hiding her face in Teal’c chest as the needle punctured her skin, similar to how the syringe had done before, to how the daggers had.


Jack watched Vala’s face closely. “Teal’c’s gonna help you move, okay?”


Vala blinked as Teal’c helped her lean on him. Opening her eyes, she shifted against him and grabbed his extra gun. “I don’t need it. I’m ready.” Her voice was strong, she stood straight, eyes hard and Jack couldn't help but think that Daniel had picked a good one.


It still didn’t mean he bought her act. “The hell you are… Teal’c, keep her with you. Evans, keep our six,” he ordered.


“Yes, sir.”


The larger man nodded as well. “You should radio Samantha Carter.”


With a nod, Jack did just that. “Sam? Ferretti? Come in.”


“Jack,” Daniel’s voice came through the radio and Jack watched as Vala’s eyes focused on the radio. “We haven’t found Vala! She’s not here.”


“I know, I have her.”


“Is she okay? Let me talk to her,” Daniel exclaimed, and even as Vala reached for his radio, Jack pulled back.


“She’s fine, she wasn’t even waiting for a rescue.”


“She’s fine?” Jack could hear the relief in Daniel’s voice.


“Fine. You’ll talk to her when we get back.”


“Oh thank the gods,” Jack heard Sam exclaim, and chuckled.


“Yeah, something like that.” Sobering, he commanded his teams. “Make your way to Cam and Markowitz. Cam, you got that?”


“Yeah, I got it. We’ll be waiting.” Jack heard some staff fire in the background.


“Okay, everybody, let’s move,” Jack ordered, and with Vala, Teal’c and Evans, they made their way to the armoury. They just had a fortress full of Jaffa between them and the room.


Heading back to where they had left Cam, Vala asked Jack a question he really wished she wouldn’t have. He had forgotten the girl was a clever one too.


“Why isn’t Daniel with you?”


“I sent him with Sam to the holding pits, just in case you were there.” Jack focused straight ahead.


“But you knew I wouldn't be there.” Vala grabbed Jack’s shoulder to turn him towards her. It wasn’t a question.


“I did.”


“Then why…”


“I didn't know how we would have found you, Daniel…” Jack’s deep brown eyes held hers, “He’s already seen someone he cares about die. I wasn’t about to let him…”


“Okay,” Vala nodded and Jack knew she understood.


Jack nodded back. “Let’s move.” As stealthily as possible, they made their way through the fortress.


There were only about thirty feet away from the armoury when Teal’c pushed them out of the way of several blasts.


Turning, they saw that they were getting some company. As they readied to shoot they watched as the Jaffa staggered forward, then fall to the floor revealing Hapi, Sam and the others behind them.


As his team moved forward, Daniel rushed towards Vala. The second they were near each other he took Vala’s shaking figure into a tight embrace. His hand threaded through her hair and rested on her neck, pulling her close, brushing their noses and foreheads together.


“You okay?” Daniel’s voice was a whisper breaking up the air.


Vala shook her head, eyes watery. “No… I don’t think I am.” Daniel nodded and held her tighter, the arm around her waist bringing her flush against him. Vala acquiesced to Daniel’s grip, holding on fiercely as if the universe itself was held in that moment between them. Her hand gripped on his shoulders and the bridge of her nose laid in the curve of his jawline.


“We're getting out of here,” Daniel promised into her hair.


Hapi’s young voice broke the moment for everyone but the two embracing figures. “You must hurry. More Jaffa are headed his way.”


Jack nodded. “Okay, thanks Hapi, now get out of here.” The young man nodded and headed back they way he came. Closing the last thirty feet, they entered the armoury where they were met by Cam’s gun.


Cam dropped the gun the second he saw who it was, and Jack noticed the two unconscious Jaffa in the corner. Obviously they hadn’t been the only ones to get some action. Cam shrugged at his brother-in-law’s look, and radioed the Prometheus.


A second later Jack watched the world flash white, Vala still in Daniel’s arms.



CHAPTER XV:  Trembling Firmament


The minute they got to the ship, Jack ordered them to the med bay then into hyperspace to get far, far from the planet.


Sam and Cam gave Vala the quick hugs they hadn’t had the time for on the planet, but still even now, on the relative safety of the ship, surrounded by the people they called friends, Daniel did not let go of Vala. She stood, resting pretty much all her weight on Daniel, his arm wrapped securely around her waist. With a small nod to Jack, who nodded back, Daniel led Vala out of the bridge and to the med bay. But even as she argued with him about going to see Caro, repeating she was fine so many times he would have been able to sense the emptiness of the words had he been deaf, he didn’t let her go as he walked to the med bay. Deep inside, at the root of his base code, he had the feeling he would never let her go again, not for too long at least.


“Please, Daniel, I just want to go to bed.” Vala rested her head on his shoulder, one heavy arm around his waist, the other resting on the arm he had around her own waist. At some point their fingers had intertwined and neither had noticed.


“We have to get you checked over.”


“But I’m all right, the sarcophagus healed all the wounds I had. I just want to go to bed and pack this shit day away.”


Daniel turned cupped her chin to have her face him. “I promise that I’ll take you to bed after Caro checks you over, but please let her, if only to stop her from coming to look for you.”


Vala sighed, burying her head into his shoulder. “Fine, but only because I want to spare you the embarrassment of having to explain our sleeping situation.”


“Thank you.” He pressed a kiss to her head.


Slowly they made their way to the med bay, when Vala tilted her head to him, having caught up with what he had just said. “Take me to bed, darling? I didn’t know you had it in you…”


“I know, I was hoping you’d let it go.” Daniel didn’t have to look at her to know she was smiling softly.


                                                       * * * *

The second Vala had entered the room Caro froze. She immediately stopped suturing Evans, turned towards Vala, and gasped. The fact that Vala was in a tattered top and ripped pants was nothing to her, but what she was feeling from the woman was…excruciating. Caro had to choke back a pained moan.


She was curious as to why Vala felt so weak, to the incredible amount of dried blood that she saw matted on the woman’s skin, but felt no physical pain coming from her what so ever. Emotional was another story. It then clicked in Caro’s mind.


“Were you put into a sarcophagus?” she asked, rushing over to the woman and began checking her over.


Vala nodded, “Four times.”


Caro now understood why Vala felt so weak. Leading Vala to a bed, Caro called one of her nurses over. “You lost a lot of blood. The sarcophagus doesn’t replenish blood loss, so we’re going to have to do a transfusion, okay?” Caro was now glad that she had thought to collect blood from Vala before, and was even gladder that she had long ago convinced Jack to get the blood-cloning machine because, if she was right, Vala would need a significant amount.


Vala nodded slowly. “Okay.”


“Lie down.” As Caro moved to get Vala’s stored blood and the kit for the transfusion, she felt Vala’s nervousness spike.


“Can’t I just sit?” Vala’s voice came out steady, but she held onto Daniel like her life depended on it.


“Sure,” Caro assured her, not wanting Vala to get even more nervous than she already was. The empathic doctor brought over her needles and felt Vala tense once more with anxiety.


“What’s wrong?” Caro did not like all the muddled and spiking emotions coming from Vala, especially considering the two most prominent ones were fear and shame. Caro glanced over at Daniel, who was also looking at Vala in worry, then back at her patient. “Daniel? Could you excuse us for a second?”


Daniel looked unsure but nodded and began to move away, only to be stopped by Vala who gripped his hand.


“No.” Vala looked at Caro and over to Daniel. “He can stay.”


Noticing how Vala seemed to feel steadier closer to Daniel, Caro nodded. “Are you sure?”




Keeping her eyes on Vala, Caro asked the one question she hated asking during in her medical career. “Did Ba’al rape you?” Ignoring Daniel tensing in anger and concern, she focused on Vala.


“No,” Vala answered, her voice steady.


Caro could sense the truth in the statement and she sighed – thank the gods.


“But he…there was this serum, a nerve enhancer, I stopped feeling its effects a while back, but…” Hearing this, Caro now understood Vala’s tension when she saw the needles.


Vala just nodded. “I was never a fan of needles in the first place.”


Caro had to marvel at the strength she was getting from Vala. It felt fractured, and she had a feeling most was an act that would end later. She glanced at Daniel and hoped he would be there to help Vala through everything when she finally decided to let her feelings out. It seemed he was the only one she’d let in right now. Him or Teal’c.


“It’s okay. Cam hates them too. Just look at Daniel as I put the IV in, okay?” Caro gently grabbed at Vala’s arms, smiling gently at the woman.


“Okay.” Vala turned to Daniel, and he brushed her bangs away.


Caro wished she could smile at the affection of the gesture, but there was so much pain overshadowing it. She focused on her task and compartmentalized all the emotions she was getting from the room. “There, done. Now, just stay here and I’ll come back to check on you in a bit. You sure everything thing is okay?”


“Yeah, I’m just tired.” Vala rested her head on Daniel’s shoulder as he sat next to her.


As Caro walked away, Daniel called out. “How’s Lou?”


Facing the couple, she ran a hand through her hair. “He was lucky. We stopped the bleeding, but he lost a lot of muscle tissue so we had to put him in the regeneration tank. He should be out in a couple hours good as new. Everybody else just got flesh wounds.” Caro met blue and silver eyes. “You all were lucky.”


On the med bay bed, Daniel and Vala both knew they couldn’t argue the fact.


                                                       * * * *

It was two hours and a protective Teal’c, worried Sam, concerned Cam, and parental Jack later that Daniel and Vala would manage to make it back to Daniel’s quarters. Vala could feel Daniel’s eyes on her and knew he was just waiting to ask. Ask what, she didn’t quite know, she didn’t even know if he knew, but had a feeling he wanted to ask everything, anything.


They stood silently in his room, neither knowing really what to do now. In the med bay it had been person after person. Everybody had been either getting patched up or worrying about her, sometimes both. Suddenly yesterday’s morning and the kisses they shared felt like a lifetime away. Time had stretched out from then, elongating itself and making it feel as if days had past from when they had both stood in this very room sharing shy, lusty smiles and accepting that they were more than mere collaborators on this quest.


Daniel wanted to ask if she was okay, if she felt better, but he knew those were stupid questions. He didn't know what to say, and that petrified him. Words were his forte, how to wield them, twist them, work them. He always had them at his disposal and always knew how to brandish them. Except for right now. Looking at Vala he didn’t know how to use them to help her. Finally his mouth opened, asking the one question that didn’t feel stupid.


“Do you want a shower?” His was voice quiet.


Vala just stared at him; to her, at the moment, that was the perfect question, to which she had the perfect answer. “Yes,” she whispered, her voice small.


Daniel nodded and watched her head to the bathroom and let the door close behind her.


As soon as she stepped inside, she began stripping her clothes like they were eating at her skin. Throwing them to the farthest corner she released a dry pitchy sob, and covered her mouth with suddenly shaking hands. She stepped into the shower and turned the water as high as it could go. Pressing her shaking hands flat against the shower wall to steady them, she dropped her forehead to the wall in front of her and let the water tumble over her, her deep broken breaths the only sound beside the water and the hum of the ship.


The hot water began burning her skin but she relished it and just stood under the plummeting water. It then came, bubbling up from her gut, and failing to bite back the heavy sob, she dropped to the floor and let herself cry, wanting to let the water running over her body wash everything away. Her thoughts filled with the what ifs of the day. All of them darker and darker, but also all too real for her mind for she had lived through them before.


She didn’t know how long she sat there, drenched and distraught, until she opened her eyes and they fell on the soap Daniel had in the corner. Grabbing it without another thought, she off-handedly recognized it as Daniel’s crisp smell before she began rubbing at her skin.


Already red from the water, she rubbed her skin raw.


                                                       * * * *

Sam sat on a med bay bed watching as Caro finished stitching up the cut on her arm. Both women sat in silence as Lou was still held in the regen tank, and Rygel finished with Evans and Markowtiz.


“She’s not okay,” Sam broke the silence as Caro finished and applied the anti-scarring gel. Caro’s deep mocha eyes met Sam’s and she sighed.


“No, she’s not. I think she’s still partly in shock.”


“Wouldn’t you be?” Sam stood, wrapping her jacket over her arms, hugging it like a safety blanket.


Caro played with the ends of her stethoscope, “I think I kinda am… It’s been a while since I felt something so piercing – it was like a thousand needles all over. I almost passed out, I don’t know how she didn’t.”


“She’s tough,” Sam whispered.


“Yeah…maybe too tough.” Caro ran a hand through her hair. Vala’s control over her emotion was like nothing she had ever seen in her life.


“You okay?” Sam placed her hand on the younger woman’s shoulder.


Caro faced her with a smile. “Yeah, I am. Just processing. Thankfully, you’re always a soothing presence Sam.”




“Yeah.” Caro turned a playful eye on her friend, “I mean you have your moments, we all do, but usually you’re so steady. Balanced.”


“I never would have guessed.” Sam internally blushed; she certainly never felt that way.


Caro nodded. “It’s true. It’s important.” A quiet stillness filled the room.


“Do you think she’ll – they’ll – be okay?” Sam asked, her thoughts going back to Daniel and Vala.


Caro reflected back to the couple. It had been a small thing, she had barely noticed it, too focused on helping her patients, but it was almost as if they fed off each other. Strength flowed back and forth between them both, and not only strength. “I hope so.”


                                                       * * * *

Daniel stood unmoving in his room after Vala had stepped into the bathroom. He looked out the window and stared out into subspace for several minutes before activating the sliding panel – Vala didn’t like subspace – and realized he didn't even know where Jack had ordered them to go. He just knew it would be far from Sahal.


Sahal. Melina. Ba’al. Daniel had no idea he could hate a name so much anymore. Ba’al.


He looked back to his bathroom door. Vala, even her name sounds as strong as it sounds fragile, he thought, like glass, solid but easily melted or cracked. It all depended on how it was handled. And Ba’al had wanted to shatter her. He closed his eyes and punched the wall. Fuck. Resting his forehead against the wall, he sighed and looked back towards the bathroom.


Realizing she had already been in there for the better part of an hour, his worry began increasing. Making a decision that really wasn’t a choice, he walked over to the door and knocked. “Vala?”


She didn’t answer. He knocked again. “Vala?!” Still getting no response, he moved to open the door.


Inside the bathroom, steam covered the entire area like a thick fog. Daniel carefully stepped closer to the shower and called out. “Vala? Vala? Va…” Reaching the shower, he saw as she sat in the corner of the stall, her skin red, and getting redder at her vicious rubbing, her sobs deafening.


He didn’t even think as he stepped inside, and knelt down in front of her. “Vala.” Gently taking the soap, he tilted her face towards him. “Hey, look at me.” She did, eyes red, her sobbing lessening as she looked at him, but still heavy in the thick air. He kissed her forehead then rested his against hers, pulling her to him, watching as her sobs quieted down, “Come on, let’s get you dry.”


He turned off the water and moved to lift her up. She didn’t say anything as she clung to him, wrapping her arms around his neck for support. Taking a towel he wrapped it around her, drying her, and led them back to the room. He laid her in bed and moved to get out of his own wet clothes.


“Daniel?” Vala’s voice came out so quiet, he barely heard it.


“Yeah?” He turned back to her, pulling out some dry sweats.


“Are you leaving?” She lifted herself and turned to face him, and Daniel couldn’t help notice how small she looked naked, only wrapped in a towel, on his bed. He ignored the urge to lean down and press his lips to every inch of skin in order to kiss the day away.


Daniel shook his head, clearing his thoughts. “No, I just need to get to get dry.”


Vala blinked and nodded. “Can I have a shirt? The towel’s all wet.”


He could see her pulling herself back together; putting back the pieces of armour that had been dropped in the shower stall. He wanted to tell her she didn’t have to, but he knew she felt she needed to, so he kept quiet.


“Sure,” he nodded, grabbed one of his old black shirts and handed it to her. Using his need to change as an excuse, he turned from her letting her slip the shirt privately. His lips quirked of their own accord when the towel was tossed into his line of sight, signaling she was set. He then turned to her. “I wouldn’t have left.”


Vala smiled softly and laid back down but said nothing. Daniel moved in next to her and waited, letting her make the decision of how they would sleep tonight. She seemed hesitant for a second before she curled up beside him, head on the crook of his neck, right arm curled, her soft palm resting on his left shoulder, and almost her entire body covering on his. Daniel brushed his nose in her hair, wrapping his arms around her. She sighed and he could feel her shaking again, but tonight he knew it wasn’t about the cold. He wrapped his arms tighter around her.


                                                       * * * *

Teal’c stared out of the observatory’s windows and watched subspace go by. After he had made sure Vala was okay and not soon to be leaving Daniel’s side, he began walking throughout the ship in a quiet rage, finally coming upon the observatory. He wished he had been able to kill Ba’al at several points this past day. First when the man had walked into theMermide, then when he had realized they had left his friend with the monster, then in the fortress, but none more than when they had come upon Vala in that hallway. She had looked like a ghost –haunted and haunting. It was then that Teal’c had wished that Ba’al hadn’t beamed out, because he had wanted to tear the bastard apart.


Hearing the door open, he stood motionless until his companions walked right up to him.


“You still wanna kill him, don’t you?” Cam asked.


“Is it that obvious, Commander Mitchell?” Teal’c glanced at the man.


“Only a little.” Cam extended lightly, but anyone could see that in his cool blue eyes, he would have no objection to the Jaffa’s course of action.


Next to the young commander stood the weathered captain, who released a weighty breath. “He had tortured her before, hadn't he?”


Teal’c lifted his head to the captain and nodded. “Perceptive, Captain O’Neill. On Selenis, before I prevented Katesh from Blending with Vala Mal Duran. I had not been able to prevent Ba’al from torturing her before he had her laid upon the altar, newly revived and weak. Following that, after I took residence with Vala Mal Duran, I vowed that I would never allow her to fall into a similar situation again. I have failed in that.”


Cam shared a look with Jack, and then patted the larger man’s shoulder. “Hey, you couldn’t have done any more than you did. You still saved her again, she’s still here. And next time we’ll take care of that bastard before he even gets a chance to blink.”


Taking the younger man’s words to heart, Teal’c nodded and looked at Cam. “Actually, I believe Vala Mal Duran was in the process of saving herself when we arrived, is that not right, O’Neill?”


Jack twisted his mouth into the closest thing to a smile that his split lip would allow. “Yeah. The girl is a regular badass. Was already halfway to the armoury when we ran into her.”


“Looks like Jackson’s gonna have his hands full.” Cam smiled, and then turned quiet. “They’re going to make it through this, aren’t they – this crazy crusade they’ve devoted themselves to – they’ll make it?”


At Cam words the three men went silent until Teal’c’s resonant voice broke it. “If we have anything to do with it, Commander Mitchell…”


“They will,” Jack finished Teal’c’s thought, and the three of them stood silent, staring as the sea of subspace passed them by.


                                                       * * * *

Vala gripped the arms Daniel held around her, taking one of his hands and clasping it in hers, she brought it to her chest. She closed her eyes and whispered. “I didn't tell you everything before.”


She felt Daniel tense behind her. “About what?”


“Ba’al, Katesh and Selenis.”


Daniel shifted them slightly and stroked the hair by her temple. “Tell me now.” It wasn’t a question or a statement, but a request. Vala knew that nobody besides Teal’c knew this, and she had liked it that way, but with Daniel everything was different. He wouldn’t press, and he’d even understand if she didn't tell him. The problem was she wanted to tell him. She wanted to tell him everything about herself, but that was so much more complicated than it sounded. And she knew he would understand that too, but tonight she gave in a little, because… She didn’t really know, because it was just the way she had come to realize they worked. They didn't have to use words, but sometimes they wanted, needed, to say certain things out loud. She hadn’t meant for this to happen. For Daniel to happen.


Gripping his hand tighter and curling into herself she spoke softly. “On Selenis I… I was tortured before the implanting – the Blending – then after, when I was strapped down. I don’t know why, except that Ba’al likes it. Katesh did too… They liked breaking the host before they would Blend with them. I don’t really remember much. Most of that is all a giant blur. I just remember that I kept on struggling, and then I heard someone walk into the room.” She paused and for a second Daniel didn’t think she would continue – he couldn't blame her if she didn’t, but she did.


“I remember hearing a struggle, something crashing and water splashing, and then I was untied. It was Teal’c. He gave me his robe since I was…well, I remember taking his zat and firing at Katesh who had fallen unconscious on the floor – twice. I fired twice. Then turned the zat on the remaining Jaffa in the room, before Teal’c stopped me and showed he was trying to help me. Then we ran. We ran and ran and somehow got to my ship. Teal’c helped me get to Dakara.” Taking a breath, she paused clearing her dry throat. “After, he just stayed with me and I stayed with him.” Vala opened her eyes and turned to face him. “That’s the real reason he didn’t want me to go down to the planet. He was afraid it would happen again.”


Daniel didn't think he had ever seen her eyes look so silver, bright with the influx of memories and pain. He tightened his grip on her shaking body and dropped a kiss on her temple, brushing his nose against the spot. “I wouldn’t have let you go down if you had told me that before.”


“I know.” She inhaled, and smelling Daniel, and she felt herself calm.


He shifted them and ran his hand down her back, sighing. “Just rest.”


“No sleep?”


“Only if you want to.”


Vala gazed at him and nodded, understanding. It would be hours until either feel asleep, both finally succumbing to the exhaustion they felt.


Daniel also knew how little one wanted to sleep after a being put in sarcophagus.


                                                       * * * *

The next morning on the ship was a quiet one. It wasn’t a rule or anything, but whenever one of the four, now six, main members of the ship was hurt or depressed it seemed to affect the ship in an exponential way. Everybody worked quieter, faster and with less complaints.


Nobody would want to argue with the captain who was prone to a shorter temper than usual. Nobody would want to complain or spar with the commander who would only show them just why he had been one of the best soldiers in the Lantean army. Nobody would want to point out a mistake to the head engineer because they would then be subjected to hours of reworking everything. Nobody would want to bother with their third owner and ex-archeologist because he would just look at them and make them feel guilty.


And now nobody would even think to bother their Jaffa friend, because most knew just how hard his staff hit and others were scared of a simple raised eyebrow. Now nobody would want to bother their spunky space pirate because if they thought that one look at their ex-archeologist could make them feel guilty, they had never been privy to stare at the sad piercing silver eyes of the woman.


It was a quiet morning on the ship and honestly Jack was thankful. He did a quick run through the ship, checked on Lou, reassured Caro’s worry, which most probably was his own, and had breakfast with Sam, Cam and Teal’c. It was the first morning since their arrival that Vala hadn't been sitting with the Jaffa, and without Daniel nearby, pretending he wasn’t entranced by her. It was a quiet breakfast.


Then he went to the bridge to do his captainy duties. He told Harriman that he was going to spend some time in his office, like he always did on days like this, and left.


In his office he did some work, and when he noticed it was 1230 he sighed and pressed down on the com. They should be up by now, if they had even gone to sleep.


                                                       * * * *

Daniel woke up to the buzzing of the ship’s intercom system. Rubbing the exhaustion out of his face, he sat up and slid his arm from under Vala’s neck, who still slept curled up and looking small.


“Jack,” Daniel sighed, leaning over the sleeping woman.


“How did you know it was me?”


“Who else?”


“Good point.” Jack paused, then he spoke quieter as if he knew she was still slept. “How is she?”


Daniel looked down at Vala, not even questioning how Jack knew she was with him. “She’s still sleeping, she couldn’t get to sleep for a while.”


“I can imagine. Look, do you want me to bring you two some food or call Caro?”


Daniel shook his head, forgetting that Jack couldn’t see him. “No, we’re okay. I’ll grab her something to eat later. I think for now she should just rest.”


“Okay, then…and Daniel?”


“Yes, Jack?”


“Take it easy today and you know you can-” Jack broke off, not finishing the sentence, but not needing to.


“I know.” Daniel nodded and turned the com off. Laying back on his side, he watched as Vala rolled over then blinked and focused on him.


“I take it you’re going to enforce a day off.” Her voice matched the day, quiet and measured.


“You need to rest.” Daniel sat up, leaning against the wall.


Vala curled towards him and hugged her pillow. “I thought that’s what sleep was for.”


Daniel smiled and brushed a hand through her hair before he stood. “It is and you need more.”


“Daniel…” He had known she would argue. He knew she wouldn’t be able to stay put for long. She needed to move. Sometimes it was as if she was made of pure kinetic energy – always needing to move. But he knew she needed a break, to rest, even if she didn't think she did.


“Just hang out here for a bit.” Sighing he went over to his bathroom, when he stepped out he held a bundle in his arms, her clothes. “I’m going to get rid of these…” He watched her tense and nod, “Then I’ll go get some of your clothes and bring back something for you to eat, after I’m going to start to work on the manuscripts and texts– ”


“They’re fine?” Vala questioned, sitting straight, remembering the reasons they had even gone to the planet.


“They’re fine. Teal’c had them and put them in my office.”


“I want to work on them too.”


“You need a break.”


“Daniel. I really don't want to argue about this – you know I’ll win.”


“Fine,” he agreed, because he really didn’t want to argue either, not today. “I’ll bring them by, but only if you rest. You can work here today.”


Vala nodded. “Deal, darling.” She bit her lip and leaned up, reaching out to grab him by the waist.




She wrapped her arms around him, hugging him tightly her head tucked under his chin.


Pressing a kiss to her forehead and lips, he then opened the door to leave his quarters. “I’ll be back soon.”


Outside he stopped at the first disposal chute and dropped her clothes down it with an angry shove.


                                                       * * * *

Sam was grabbing a midday snack, before heading back down to the engine room, when she noticed Daniel standing in the mess hall, staring at the food like he hoped it would answer whatever question he had. Walking up to him, she smiled. “She likes Mac and Cheese and the apple pie made with the Athosian apples.”


Daniel turned to her and smiled back. “I know.”


“How is she?” Sam grabbed her signature blue dessert and a sandwich. She had worried about Vala all night and so far all day. They all had.


Daniel just swallowed and took some items from the counter. “She’s… better, I guess. I told her I’d bring her lunch and a change of clothes, since the one’s she was wearing got ruined, and I doubt that she even wanted to wear them anymore after….” He clenched his fist and Sam nodded. “Then I was going to start working on the manuscripts. Now that we got Ba’al interested in the temple, it will only be matter of time before he turns that temple upside-down and come after us. And I have to start cross-referencing these manuscripts with the ones from Castiana – there has to be some comparable facts to help us hurry this along. And I know I’ll have to find a way to convince her to keep still for today, at least.”


Sam could see Daniel trying to pigeonhole everything and grabbed his hand, leading him to a table. “Sam, I gotta…” he tried to argue.


“You have to sit for a second.” Sam sat down in front of him. “Vala’s okay. We got her back; she’s not going anywhere, and you need to stop this. Take a breath.” Daniel rolled his eyes but did as Sam asked closed his eyes and breathed in and out slowly. “Good. Now where’s Vala? Your quarters?”


Daniel sighed, not really surprised. “How’d you know?”


“I’m a genius.” Smirking, Sam asked her real question. “Now what’s she doing there?”


“Hopefully resting, but probably looking through my notebooks.”




Rolling his eyes, Daniel frowned. “Because I stupidly leave some of my notebooks in my quarters to work on them because she’s nosy and wants to do everything herself even though she needs to rest. You know, I already had to bribe her to stay in the room or else she’d be running around, holing herself up in my office, pretending she’s fine and trying to find the answers in the texts all by herself. I mean, I can do that. That’s why she helped me with Tau’rian in the first place, so I could help… She doesn't need to be pushing herself so hard.”


Sam let Daniel say his piece and then said, “Sound like anyone you know?”


“Sam.” Daniel met the blonde’s blue eyes.


“How long have I known you?” Sam leaned towards him.


Daniel smirked, “University – you were dating a professor if I remember correctly.”


“We don't talk about that.” Sam fought not to blush. “But that’s not the point. The point is you do the same thing. You look to mend everything, except yourself. You bury yourself in work, trying to figure it all out without slowing down, especially when you need to slow down. And you’re about to do it now, but I’m not going to let you. I love you, and have gotten rather fond of Vala too. You two just need to rest today, eat and take a break.”


“You sound like Jack did the other day.”


“And maybe he had a point. We’ve all been pushing ourselves, and yesterday we saw just how hard we had pushed. We would have never risked going down to Sahal so recklessly before, especially without being sure whether Ba’al was on the planet or not. We didn’t even check and it came back and bit us back in the ass.”


“I hate it when you make sense.” Daniel breathed, dropping his head.


“I know.” Sam covered her friend’s hand and held his gaze.


“I told her I’d bring the manuscripts to the room and let her work on them after I brought her some food and clothes.” Daniel looked up at Sam’s eyes.


Sam smiled. “Well get her those first and then deal with the rest.”


                                                       * * * *

It only took Vala ten minutes to get antsy from just sitting on the bed. It was five minutes more than she had given herself. She just needed to do something, anything.


She stood and paced the room, made the bed, went to the bathroom, grateful that her clothes were gone from where she had discarded them, she then stared at her face for a minute that felt too long before she shook head, and used Daniel’s toothbrush. As she rinsed she made a mental note to bring her own stuff in, and in that same instance she realized she was still only wearing Daniel’s shirt. Heading back to the room, she went straight to the dresser, picked out a pair of boxers, and slipped them on.


She stared at the room, liking how much warmer it felt compared to her own, and then her eyes fell on the far shelf full of books and papers. Looking at the door, as if it was about to open, she headed to the shelf and grabbed a book – so far she had been pretty good about not fiddling too much with Daniel’s things. Turning it over she smiled; well at least Daniel had something interesting to keep her occupied. Walking over to the bed, she laid on her stomach and began reading, losing herself in the words.


When Daniel came in, she turned her head to him. “See, I didn’t even slip out.”


“Considering you had no clothes, I wasn’t worried.”


“Trust me, it wouldn't have stopped me if I really had felt like leaving.”


He moved over to his desk and set down the tray of food and clothes he had grabbed for her. Looking over at him she saw that he had brought enough food for the entire day and her favorite leather pants.


“All for me?” She reached over and grabbed a sandwich, just now realizing how hungry she was, stuffing it in her mouth in a rather unladylike fashion.


“For us. I’m taking a break too. Liking the book?” He noticed the book at her side, seeing it was one of his better ones.


“It’s interesting. I didn’t know Egeria was the Tok’ra Queen that began the rebellion, all I knew was that one a Goa’uld came to one of my people and asked for help.” Around her sandwich bite, Vala asked. “The manuscripts?”


“I changed my mind,” Daniel stated, sitting down on the bed.


“Sorry?” Vala’s eyes narrowed, and she looked ready to hop off the bed and go find them.


“No manuscripts today,” Daniel sighed, pulling her back down when she moved to get up.


“Daniel,” She droned, trying to get up again.


“No, we both need to take a break.” He pulled her back down and secured his arm around her waist. “Tomorrow…tomorrow, we’ll work so hard you’ll start calling me boring again,” Daniel teased, and Vala hated that he looked adorable and pouty, but more so she hated that she knew the reason behind the whole thing. She could feel the pull of his quest tugging at her soul harder each day and knew he was beginning to feel it too.


“So what shall we do?” Vala pursed her lips, which he softly kissed.


“You can finish that,” Daniel nodded to the book and lifted her off his lap, “I’m going to take a shower, I don’t think last night really counted as one.”


Vala nodded remembering the circumstances of Daniel’s impromptu shower last night. She leaned back on the bed and, wrapping her arms around her legs, she willed Daniel to finish his shower quickly. Alone with her thoughts wasn’t her preferred method of relaxation right now. Daniel either understood or normally took quick showers because he was out in a few minutes. As soon as he stepped out and sat on the bed Vala climbed in his lap wrapped her arms around him.


“Read to me,” she whispered. Stay with me.


Daniel nodded. “Where did you leave off?” Vala grabbed the book and showed him.


                                                       * * * *

It was late and Jack once again found himself pacing the ship. Cameron was sparring with Teal’c and Sam was working with Bill and Lindsay before she headed to bed. He was glad that they were keeping busy and letting Vala rest. Earlier, when they had all shown up at Daniel’s for an impromptu meeting, he could still sense the awkwardness that Vala had about what had happen and Daniel’s terseness. Something no one had really noticed last night in the hubbub of everything, but earlier, Vala had almost blushed bright red with shame almost twice and Daniel had all but kicked them out of the room. Jack understood, all too well actually, but still this was his ship and they were his family, and he needed to make sure they were okay.


So Jack paced. He was now on his eighth trip across the observatory when he heard the door slide open. Turning, he watched as Caro entered the room. The young woman stayed near the door for a second before she crossed the room and rested her hand on his arm.


“How far?” Jack sighed and rested his weight against one of the windows.


Caro only smiled, “One level, you project quite loudly, captain.”


“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to.” Jack gave a small, embarrassed smile.


“It’s fine,” but Caro just seemed to shake it off. As always Jack found it amazing how she just seemed to play off all the feelings she must get on a daily basis and make it look fine. Of course, like many other things on his ship, he knew that wasn’t the case. He knew that unlike other empaths, compartmentalizing her and everybody else’s feelings was a challenge for Caro, because unlike other empaths, the young woman next to him had been born with only one heart. The hardship of having an empath for a mother and a Lantean for a father, Jack supposed. He still didn’t understand why she chose to be a doctor with all its pressures, but when she had wormed her way onto the ship with recommendations from Janet, a glowing review from Cam, and determination in steady brown eyes, he hadn’t been able to turn her away. Since then, Jack had been blessed with one of the best doctor’s, if not annoyingly attentive, doctors in the galaxy.


“What are you thinking, captain?” Caro turned to Jack, a pensive look on her face, making Jack smile. Annoying attentive, all right.


“Your first days on the ship actually. You shanghaied your way in.” Jack turned a teasing eye on Caro.


Smiling back, Caro leaned next to him, eyes on the door of the room, “You mean when you would avoid me?”


“Yes,” Jack nodded. “It wasn’t about you though.”


“I know, captain,”




Caro tilted her face up at him, grinning, “I know, Jack, back then I wasn’t as able to handle everything like I am now, so in a way it was a good thing. It let me ease into everything.”


Jack nodded again and this time they stood silently as he though about the past few days, as the question began forming on his lips he felt a warm hand on his shoulder, “They’re okay. Vala’s still a bit shaken up, but she hides it well and being with Daniel helps.” Turning to Caro he watched her furrowed brow. “Daniel is fine too, his alpha male tendencies are just bubbling close to the surface and he wants to keep her safe. He reminds me of you when he gets like this.” Caro finished her last remark as the door to the observatory opened and Cam stood on the threshold, feet hovering between entering and leaving.


“Oh, hey. I was just coming to check up on you.”


Jack grinned at Cam, winking at Caro. “Really? I’m touched.”


Cam just rolled his eyes. “I meant her.” Pointing at Caro, Cam scoffed at Jack. “She said she’d be up here.” At that Jack turned Caro, the young woman grinning up at him like a child had who just got caught and had no shame. “Really? Did she?”


“Oh yeah,” Caro rose on her feet and presented Jack with a small kiss on the cheek. “I told you that you were projecting loudly.” She then made her way across the room to Cam, but not before turning back to him and Jack grinned at her shift into what he and the rest of the crew called “Doctor Mode.” “And get some sleep captain, you need it.”


Jack waved them both out the room, “That’s my line!”


“Night, Jack.”


“Night, captain.”


Jack got and he let himself rest again against the large windows behind him, a small smile falling on his face.


                                                       * * * *

Hours later, after a day of reading, eating, and talking, intersected with soft kisses and the frustrating but sweet visit from Jack and the others, Vala rolled over to rest her head on Daniel’s stomach. “Daniel?”


“Yeah?” He lifted his head from his book, stroking her hair.


Vala leaned up and gave him a deep kiss, grinning into it when he pulled her closer and deepening it further. “Maybe this day off thing wasn’t such a bad idea.”


Daniel smiled, cupping her cheek. “I try.” He watched her eyes and was glad that the haze that had been covering them had dissipated.


“I just remembered, do we still need to talk about yesterday morning?” Vala leaned against his side, looking at him.


“No…” He moved his hand to the back of her neck, “I think we already didn’t say everything we needed to say.” He turned to her, and their heads tilted towards each other’s in another kiss, this time softer and lazier. Separating, Vala rested her forehead against his chin for a beat, nodding.


“Mhmm,” Vala kissed him again and settled half on him, “I’m tired.”


“Sleep.” Daniel traced her lips with his fingers and covered her with the sheet.


“Sleep.” Vala mumbled and drifted off. Again, Daniel watched over her as she slept, thankful that this night was unperturbed unlike the one before.



CHAPTER XV1:  Falling on Solid Ground


Cam entered the engine room to see Sam hunched over the crystal console. “Ya know, I never thought I’d be glad to see you back in here again, running the gamut. Seeing you in your lab every day was beginning to freak me out.”


Sam turned to Cam, eyes narrowed. “Ha-ha.” She rolled her eyes as he stepped forward looking over the system programmes, a pensive and bewildered look on his face.


“You think I’m joking.” Cam leaned against the main console of the engine room, “Without you here everybody just lounges around, letting the ship do its thing. Now,” he pointed to the array of wires connecting to Sam’s data pad to the ship, “the engine room is getting action again. I even think it even missed being with its momma.”


Sam laughed at Cam’s description of her relationship with her domain on the ship.. “Yeah, well, I was missing it, too.”


“So what are you up to? You know we have to head down as soon as we get out of hyperspace.” Sitting in her chair, he put his feet up on the chair next to it in an obvious move that stated he would be waiting with her until she was done.


“I know.” Retying her ponytail, Sam sighed, “It's the cloaking capabilities.” Taking out a crystal, she attached a wire connecting the data pad to where the crystal had been.


“Why?” Cam leaned forward, “I thought everything was fine with that.”


“Because sometimes I hate being right…” Sam trailed off, typing something before looking up at Cam, “I wanted to the test how the ship systems handled them without the ZPM attached, and I was right. It can’t handle them. They don’t even engage, so...”


“You’re trying to fix it.”




“How’s that going?” Cam knew that the cloaking capabilities were very important for them to have now. Every day they got more and more warnings about things happening in the galaxy, and even though Cam could hardly be called a coward he understood the importance of stealth – especially in war.


“Not that bad,” Sam smiled. “It can be done, I just need to alter a few of the ship’s systems and adjust some of the shielding program.”


“That doesn’t sound good.” Cam rolled on the chair closer to her and leaned over her shoulder, looking at what she was doing and understanding about one-fourth of it.


Sam turned her head towards him. “Actually it is.” Sam’s eyes began glinting and Cam was suddenly nervous that he had brought the subject up. “See, because I had to go back and attach the ZPM to the Seraphim and test how the ship handles both the shielding and cloaking technologies, which then I learned that its programs network with each other making them much more condensed and intricate, but more potent as well. So, with Teal’c’s help, I ran a few tests on the ship yesterday…”


“Yeah, you cut into our staff lesson…” Cam pouted.


Ignoring him, Sam continued, “So, I could properly draw a parallel between both set of systems, in the end giving us a boost in shielding and letting us use the cloaking capabilities without having to be plugged into the ZPM.”


“Cool. Jack must be loving that,” Cam noted.


“Yep, he’s even letting us run the engines a little slower to make work easier,” Sam grinned.


“You're so spoiled.” Teasing, Cam looked over Sam’s work, an idea sparking in his head, “Does this mean you could give Aeryn shielding and cloaking? She deserves to be spoiled too…”


Sam turned to him and he could see the excitement of the idea burning in her blue eyes. “Well, fighters normally aren’t capable of such things, but the Seraphim’s systems and programs are very advance and surprisingly adaptable…” Sam let the idea hang in the air as she turned back to the console, ideas for both ships running through her head.


Thinking about his beloved fighter, Cam’s eyes glazed over in anticipation at the idea of giving it the abilities to shield and cloak. “Yeah, baby, that’s what I’m talking about.”


                                                       * * * *

Vala lay on her stomach on Daniel’s extra desk as she read, translated, compared, and tried to understand what the manuscripts were trying to tell her. Like the ones from Castiana, they were quite annoying in that they just didn't have a helpful subheading that said: Location of weapon HERE! Personally, she felt that would have been rather nice of whoever had written them.


Daniel had been right when he had said that day in his room that as soon they began working again on the manuscripts that it wouldn’t take long for Vala to start calling him boring again. After the first twenty-four hours and he had wanted to cross-reference all the texts all over again she mumbled ‘boring’ as he handed her the papers.


They worked on the manuscripts around the clock, literally. There had been more than one occasion when Daniel and Vala woke on his bed to find it still full of notes and texts that they had dozed off working on the night before.


Vala sighed, it had been over a week and a half since Sahal and even though she spent most of her time now working with Daniel, several hours in the gym, and a few hours with Sam here and there, she still hated whenever somebody would give her that look. That sympathetic look that half the time she wanted to punch off their faces. The only people that didn’t give her that look were Daniel, Jack and Teal’c. Cam tried not too, but sometimes it peeked through. Same with Sam, and after her check-up the day after the rescue, she had basically started to avoid Caro.


Mentally sighing, she resolved to at least have lunch with the empathic woman this week. It wasn’t her fault that she was more in tune with Vala’s emotion than the silver-eyed woman was comfortable with.


Looking over one of the manuscripts, she read over the passages about the voyage the defenders took. She heard the door open and turned to see Daniel stepping in with two coffee cups.


“Hey, darling.” She reached out and grabbed the offered drink.


“You know, that’s not what the extra desk is for.” Daniel commented as he entered the room, tugging on Vala’s swinging leg with one hand.


Vala rolled her eyes and pulled him closer for a quick kiss. “I work better this way.”


“Sure you do.” Daniel rolled his eyes and sat down, pulling his notes closer to him. Vala followed his movement and felt the same frustration and determination in him that she held - there had to be something in the texts Oma had pointed out to them, something that would lead them to where the weapon really was and whatever The First was too.


As Vala sat up and sipped her coffee she noticed they were no longer surrounded the blue of subspace. “Why’d we come out of hyperspace?”


“We just got to the next planet on the list. Cam, Sam, and Teal’c are heading down.”


“Oh…” Vala shrugged, turning back to her notes. It was the third planet since Sahal and thankfully so far all of them had been relatively friendly, easy planets, not that she had gone down to any one of them.


“Do you want to go?” Daniel stared at her over his text.


Vala just picked up the text she had been studying and balanced it on her lap. “Not really. The only reason I’d go down is to help Sam, and she doesn’t actually need me. You on the other hand…” she smirked, giving him a saucy wink.


Smiling, Daniel watched as she sat quietly and worked. He hadn’t been surprised when she had buckled down to work with him on the manuscripts, but she barely took any breaks and now it was usually him dragging her to dinner. “I can handle this for a while if you want to go.”


“It’s fine, I actually like this.” She smiled at him and he believed her, because he liked it too – this unexpectedly familiar dynamic they had where they could just spend hours in the same room working and sometimes bickering, though now they’re bickering had become more playful and less biting. They had quietly learned to smooth the jagged edges that they had held. But Daniel still worried; he couldn’t not, not after… he sighed. “Vala, we’ve been to a couple planets already and you haven’t even made one comment about going off ship.”


Vala met his eyes with her own sigh, “Daniel… I was locked in Sam’s lab for five planets and you didn’t worry this much.” She gave him a soft smile. She knew he worried, he was pretty good at hiding it, but she knew.


“How do you know I didn’t?” Sharing a look, Daniel then leaned on his desk, “I’m just – ”


“I know, and I know you still worry, it rather adorable to tell you the truth, but I’m not going off ship because I’m scared. I’m staying and working on these,” she motioned to the array of manuscripts that littered the desks, “because they’re more important than naquahdah mines. Darling I’m f—” Daniel gave her a look and Vala broke off, rolling her eyes at him. “Okay, I’m not perfectly fine, but I’m getting there.” She blew him a kiss, “Promise.”


Daniel nodded, seeing the truth in her eyes. “Okay. So anything new?” he asked momentarily relived.


“Another mention of a voyage. So far it seems to be a common element in all the stuff we’ve read. Everybody appears to go on journey to find some precious object. This time it was some kind of ark.” Vala flipped through the manuscript, “Apparently arks, grails, gems, amulets and talismans were very popular items to hunt for back then.”


Daniel chuckled at the assessment of what they had read over so far. “Yeah, same here. They all mention a quest or journey to find some object of power.”


“How many of these power objects can there be? We’re only looking for one weapon. I’m not exactly caring about its friends.”


Not speaking for a couple minutes, Daniel thought over all that had just been said, “What if it’s the same journey?”


“Come again?” Vala asked, curiosity piqued.


“What if all these quests, voyages, journeys, aren’t separate, but one in the same? Different stories speaking of the same quest. It’s been done before…in many cultures.”


“Enlighten me, I’m not quite up on my galactic folklore.” Vala leaned forward, continuously fascinated by Daniel’s narratives. His knowledge of the galaxy and its planets, its cultures, societies, and philosophies astounded her and she could listen to him prattle on for hours, of course with rightly timed breaks in between. Her knowledge of the galaxy was slightly more superficial and practical in comparison, focused more on which planets were the best to live on, where to find the best work, food and technology. She had fair knowledge about the Old Lore’s and the First Ones, but she had been a resident of the galaxy’s founding planet until roughly fifteen years ago, it was only natural.


“Yeah, many planets have their own tales of how things came to be and when you look deep enough you can uncover that they all have their own versions of a single event, allowing it to be more relevant to their ethos. There’s actually several versions of how your people came to the galaxy and began dispersing among the indigenous life they found here. And there are even a few planets that completely disregard the influence the Tau’ri had in birthing the development of the galaxy.”


Vala grinned at that. “Really?”


Daniel shrugged, “Your people came here a long time ago and, to many, they have become a kind of myth themselves, since they basically stopped communicating with the outside races, what…a thousand years ago?”


Vala sighed, doing some mental calculations, “More or less, it was seven hundred years ago that they stopped completely.”


“Exactly, and some of the less advanced civilizations weren’t around for the height of their period of influence.”


“You do have point, darling. So your theory on these manuscripts is that they’re different accounts of the same thing? Well, that’s maddeningly unhelpful.” Vala hopped of the desk and rounded it.


“But smart. We’re going to have to compare each quest we’ve read about and hope to find our answer in what we discover. It could in the similarities or the differences.” Watching as Vala groaned at his last words, he had to ask the question most in the galaxy would love to know. “Vala?”




“How did your people come to the galaxy anyway?”


Vala turned and made her way over to him. Sitting by his desk, Vala spoke softly. “Would you believe I don’t know?”


“Is that the truth…” Daniel turn to face her, taking her hand.


“Well, I can never call you stupid, now can I?” Vala winked, remembering the world she left long ago. “But it’s not a complete lie. I don’t know the real story. Like you said, many worlds have their own tales and just like those worlds, Tau’ri had its own legends. Answers to questions like that always are more speculative than concrete. It was said that life began on Tau’ri approximately seven thousand years ago.”


“Long time.”


“Yep, and a long time for many people to change the truth, if people even knew it.” Daniel nodded, acknowledging her point and letting her continue. “Some said it started like magic, a great wave expanded through the universe and life just sprung up on my planet, eventually getting the technological capabilities for space travel and immersing themselves in the rest of the galaxy. Others say that it was explorers who got lost in space after their old world died from an epidemic. And even others say that human life didn’t even originate in this galaxy, but from somewhere else and my people were survivors that chose to settle here. My mother liked the magic explanation; my dad liked the one with the survivors. The First was one of those things too. A legend, though now evidently a true legend.”


“You knew about The First?”


“Yes, but I knew it as this story my dad used to tell us kids before bed.” Vala leaned back lost in her memory. “My brother loved it, loads of battles. A place that held great power. Now we know it’s the place that holds The Weapon, what are the odds?”


“Apparently pretty good.” Daniel leaned forward to brush her hair out of her face and Vala smiled. “Were you close to your dad?” he asked, bringing Vala’s attention back to him.


So far they really hadn’t talked too much about their pasts. He knew she had lost her family and whole world, then spent years travelling through the galaxy, and she knew that he had once had a wife and they had lived on Abydos. The basics. Both knew there was still a lot more that neither had explored, though not for lack of curiosity. Both were curious individuals, but they didn’t look for the empty words to explain their pasts. Things had happened to both of them, and neither felt a rush to find the answers to all their curiosities.


Vala tilted her face and kissed Daniel’s wrist. “Believe or not, I was. He was an eccentric one. Engineer, charmer and shipbuilder, he was bringing me to work as soon as I could walk and showing me the systems – the Seraphim was the last ship I ever saw him build. He loved stories and was decidedly the most un-proper man you could ever come across. I still don’t know how or why my mom married the man, but he had a great sense of humour and taught me to fly and to punch.”


“Ah, well that explains where you learned the left hook you gave me when we first met. It wasn’t very becoming of a lady.” Daniel smiled, relived that her eyes were glittering in delight at the memories of her dad.


Vala matched his smile, “Be grateful I didn't sucker punch you after that left hook. And you didn’t even know I was a girl at that point, so I don’t how you’re even trying to justify the fact that I was kicking your very nice ass.”


Daniel rolled his eyes and brought her chin down, their noses brushing lightly, “Fruitcake.” He kissed her softly, but Vala grabbed his shirt and brought him closer to her. She curled her hands in his shirt and licked at his lips, inviting herself in. Daniel readily accepted the invitation, opening his lips and letting her work her way inside him. He dropped one hand to the desk behind her and wrapped the other around her waist, bringing her against him and moving in between her thighs. He let her take control of the kiss; letting her move her hands to cup his face and suck his tongue into her mouth. Gripping her hip, he then changed the angle of the kiss, tangling their tongues together and soon the kiss, like all their kisses in the last couple of weeks, became deep and intense, hands bunching in fabrics and tangling in hair, until Daniel pulled away with great difficulty.


“Vala,” he breathed heavily. “We need to…” He nodded to the manuscripts, eyes dark and still on hers.


Vala licked her lips, still swollen and tasting of him, and nodded back. She slowly pushed away from the desk they had been leaning against and moved over to her desk, suddenly remembering why the desks were a few feet apart. “Right, no rest for the wicked after all… So catalogue each quest mentioned and list the similarities and differences?” As she moved backwards to her desk, her eyes now glittered for a different reason. Why did he have to wear the sleeveless one under his jacket today?


“Yeah…” Daniel mumbled roughly, focusing back on the texts in front of him and not on the fact that less than five feet away from him Vala had a good three centimetres of skin between the bottom of her top and her leather pants.


                                                       * * * *

“Just make sure everything goes smoothly and nobody gets a black eye.” Jack advised to Cam over the radio as he and the team checked in confirming the trade negotiations on the red planet below them.


“Can’t make that promise. Call you back.” Cam voiced filtered in amused and Jack bit back a smile.


“Be sure to.” Jack ended communications with Cam and Sam down on the planet. Apparently, they had come across his favourite kind of planet, the kind where the locals were happy to help and trade naquahdah. But according to Cam, it was Sam’s least favourite kind of planet, the kind where the men tended to follow her around for the simple fact that she was a woman doing ‘male’ labour, or because of her hair. Jack wasn’t sure which bothered her more, and Jack wasn’t stupid enough to ask.


He was about to get up and grab some pie when Harriman called out. “Captain, we have a wave coming in.”


Jack turned. “Where from?”


“Lantea, sir. Dr. Weir’s IDC.” Walter turned to him, confirming Jack’s suspicion that this wasn’t their monthly call from Elizabeth.


“Patch her through.” Jack moved to face the vid screen to his left and watched as it flickered to life and the image of Elizabeth Weir appeared. As per usual, Liz was immaculately put together, auburn hair styled, charcoal suit and pale turquoise silk blouse making her soft, bottle green eyes stand out.


“Hey, Elizabeth, how are you?” Jack presented Elizabeth with a charming smile.


On screen, Elizabeth gave a small smile. “I’ve been better to tell you the truth.” Elizabeth sighed, “Could we speak privately, Jack?”


Glancing quickly around the bridge, Jack nodded. “No problem, can you hold on a minute?”


Elizabeth nodded. “Of course.”


“Walter, bounce this to my office.” Standing, he made his way to his office. When he got there, he locked the door behind him and activated his vid screen, just as he turned it on, Elizabeth’s image popped up. “Something tells me this isn't one of our normal social call, Liz.”


“You were always quicker than most gave you credit for, but you’re right.” Elizabeth leaned forward looking straight in Jack’s eyes. “What happened with Ba’al?”


Jack sighed, “I don’t know why I’m surprised you heard about that.”


“Jack.” Elizabeth intoned, pressing her lips together.


“We had a run in, nothing big. Just normal Goa’uld verses the good guys action.” He waved off the underlying command and exasperation in Elizabeth’s voice.


This time Elizabeth didn’t bother rolling her eyes in obvious annoyance, “Jack, between you guys and the Goa’uld, it’s never nothing. What happened?”


“Just a temple looting and a rescue.” Jack tried to pass it off, but forgot that this was Elizabeth he was talking to and that she could smell bullshit a galaxy away.


“Don’t bullshit me, who was the rescue for?” She raised her eyebrow.


Jack said nothing. He knew that beside the crew nobody from Lantea knew about Vala. Paul only had a reference, but nothing concrete. “Don’t worry, everyone is fine.”


“Was it one of your new partners? The Jaffa?” Questioning, Elizabeth leaned forward in curiosity.


“It wasn’t Teal’c.” Jack answered.


“Then it was the woman that you’re all bent on not talking about. I have to tell you, Jack, that makes everyone even more curious. And not in the good way.” Elizabeth leaned on her desk. “Talk to me, Jack, you know this line is secure.”


“This stays between you and me, Liz.” On screen, Elizabeth nodded, “Her name is Vala, and she, well, she and Daniel were contacted by the Priestess of Kheb.” At Elizabeth’s look of shock, Jack nodded, “Oh yeah, that one. And now they’re on the search for something, something important, it took us to Sahal where, as usual, when we’re around a Goa’uld, we got into a bit of a jam.”


“What are they looking for?” Jack watched as Elizabeth leaned forward, her eyes focused on whatever he would say next.


“Something big,” Jack leaned back in his office chair, wondering how to tell Elizabeth he wasn’t even sure, “I don’t want to tell you, yet but trust me, if this ends up being a solid thing you’ll be very happy.”


Elizabeth stared at Jack through the vid screen and Jack saw the moment she let her questions pass. “But everyone’s fine?”


Nodding, Jack reassured Elizabeth’s worries over them. “Yeah, but I gotta tell you I think we’re going to be getting into deeper waters before this is all over.”


Elizabeth processed the words and let out a heavy sigh. “I don’t doubt it. Things are already looking to implode.”


Jack looked at Elizabeth and for the first time noticed the worry behind her eyes. “What aren’t you telling me, Elizabeth?”


“You’re not supposed to read me that easily, my face is meant to be a schooled mask of ultimate passivity.” Elizabeth quirked her lips into a small smile.


“Trust me after a week with Teal’c, you’re like a open book.” Jack smirked, resting his chin on his hand.


Elizabeth chuckled, “Ah, I see.” Pausing, Elizabeth sobered. “We’ve been hearing that all the still active System Lords are mobilizing their fleets. Ba’al. Yu. Osiris. Anubis. We don’t know where they’re heading, but I’m afraid the Asgard Accord in is in danger of being completely shattered. And if that happens, I don't think it will matter that we have one of the best space armadas in the galaxy. The Goa’uld are just still so superior to us, especially Anubis. They’ll decimate us eventually.”

“I know.” Jack rubbed his chin. “But we always manage to kick ass. It will be okay, Liz, you know you can call us whenever.”


Elizabeth nodded. “I hope I won’t have to. Tell Daniel I said hi and to call every once in a while.”


“I will. Bye, Liz.” Jack nodded goodbye to Elizabeth, as she did the same.


“Bye, Jack.” Watching as Elizabeth signed off, Jack dropped back on his chair. Fucking Goa’uld.


                                                       * * * *

In the tavern back on the planet, Cam was feeling increasingly happy, and not because he was on his third drink (he wasn’t that much of a lightweight), but after all the drama of the last few weeks he was glad that things seemed to be calm. The locals were friendly (too friendly in Sam’s opinion), Sam was running some test in the mines with Rylan, and even Teal’c seemed to be enjoying the mellow planet as he was currently winning his third match of arm wrestling.


Walking over to where Teal’c had just won, Cam set down a drink for himself and his friend. His spiked, Teal’c’s, not so spiked.


“Nice planet,” Cam commented.


“Indeed it is, Commander Mitchell.” Teal’c looked over the occupants of the tavern, most had left them alone minding their own business and all were happy about the new business they were bringing. It was pleasant being on a welcoming planet, not that it didn’t mean Teal’c wasn’t alert. Teal’c was always alert.


Just as they were taking swigs from their drinks, they heard more than saw the tavern door swing open and they heard more than saw Sam’s irritation. Sharing covert glances, they watched as Sam stalked through the tavern, Rylan following her and many eyes trailing her, most in rapt attention and wonder, others in disgust. As Sam sat down with a huff she grabbed for Cam’s drink and took a large swig.


“I hate this planet.” She noticed all the eyes on her and took another.


Cam chuckled, “Oh, come on, Sam, it’s not their fault you're a babe. OW!” He rubbed at the spot where Sam had just punched him.


“Don’t call me babe. And come on, it’s not like they’ve never seen a woman before. The town square was full of them.”


“Yes, and they were all in long skirts, long-sleeved shirts, or dresses. All long, long, long with their hair all tied up. I don’t think they’ve ever seen a woman in pants, leather ones at that and loose hair. At least not in public. You’re bound to call attention.” Cam gave her a quick grin and took back his drink.


Sam sighed, “I know, and that doesn’t bug me as much, but when I start to work and they all look at me like, like…” Sam trailed off, and took a drink from the cup that Rylan had just brought over.


“You are of inferior birth.” Teal’c finished for Sam, taking a drink of his own.


“Yes!” Sam exclaimed. “I have three physic degrees I’ll have you know and I’ve been working on interstellar drives since I was nineteen.” Pouting and annoyed, Sam gave a hard look at the other patrons of the tavern, several which blushed under her azure gaze.


“Men suck,” Rylan added, getting odd looks from Cam and Teal’c and a happy one from Sam. “Well, we do.”


Smiling Sam patted his arm, “You and Dell have a fight again?”


Rylan didn’t answer, but just took a deep drink. Teal’c raised an eyebrow and Cam fought not to laugh; it was always one fight after another with those two. He turned to Sam, “And the naquahdah?”


“It’s good – decent for engines and weapons grade if properly processed. I already radioed Walter to send word to Lantea to start up a proper trade agreement, and they should be here tomorrow at the latest.” Sam looked around, eyes falling to the counter. “Food here any good?”


“No, but the meat pie is recommended.” Teal’c shared.


“Nice.” She finished Cam’s drink, ignoring his glare.


                                                       * * * *

Daniel sat down in the mess hall, ready to start in with his lunch when he saw Caro was grabbing her own food.


“Hey, Caro, care to join me?” He waved towards the empty table he occupied. “I feel very unpopular today.”


Smiling, Caro nodded and sat down. “Sure, thanks, Daniel. Did Vala go down to the planet also?”


“No, she just stopped off to check the engine room for Sam while she’s down on the planet. They’re trying to get the cloaking to work without the ZPM.” Daniel’s thoughts drifted at the mention of Vala, and ducked his head, shaking his head at them.


“Yeah, I heard about that. And how are the manuscripts going?” Caro nodded and started to organise the food on her tray.


“More involved than either of us anticipated, but we’ll figure it out.” Daniel smiled and Caro had to match it. It was good to see Daniel in high spirits. For a couple of days there had been a cloud of anxiety hanging over him, but now, if she didn’t know any better, she’d say he was glowing.


Caro smiled at the reason. “I’m sure you will. How are you and Vala?”


“Fine.” Daniel’s answer was short and Caro picked up on a distinct wave of passion, but let it pass.


“She sleeping full nights again?” Caro asked. Vala had been avoiding her the last couple of days, but Caro understood. Vala was always aware that Caro could glean her feelings, and lately, they had been very turbulent, increasing in awkwardness when around Caro. She was confident that soon Vala would be fine around her again, so she didn’t press the matter.


Daniel nodded gently. “Yeah, finally.”


“Good, I’m glad she has you around.” And Caro meant it, she was sure Daniel was one of the reasons Vala hadn’t completely closed off.


“Oh, um thanks,” Daniel blushed. By now it wasn’t a secret that he and Vala were whatever they were, but sometimes it was still odd to hear it so openly from others.


“You’re welcome.” Caro took a bite out of her lunch and tilted her head.


“What?” Daniel asked, knowing what that head tilt meant.


“Vala just walked in.” Caro motioned to the doors behind him.


“How do you know?” Daniel twisted to look at the doors to see Vala walking in and heading for the counters for some food, grinning as Dell piled it on her plates.

“She must have seen you sitting, because certain feelings spiked,” Caro smirked as she watched and felt the emotions that flitted through Daniel’s eyes, “then she must have seen me because she got nervous.”


Again Daniel blushed and then turned to look at Caro. “Why nervous?”


Caro’s eyes followed Vala, smiling at the feelings she was getting from the approaching woman. “She’s been kinda avoiding me, gets uneasy.”


“I’m sorry.” Daniel’s eyes followed Vala.


“Don’t worry. Shockingly enough I understand,” Caro smiled.


Daniel smiled, and giving one quick fleeting look at the approaching woman. “So, spiked?”


Pressing her lips together, Caro tried not to burst out laughing. “Spiked.”


“Good to know.” Daniel tried to not allow his satisfaction of that spill over on his face where his lips were threatening to break out into a smile, but then thought it was probably pointless since Caro already knew.


“Hey, you two,” Vala chirped, taking a seat next to Daniel. “What am I missing?”


Caro and Daniel shared a look and both took a bite out of their meals in unison. Vala pouted, “Hey now, no secrets.”


“Trust me, it’s nothing you don’t already know.” Caro met Vala’s eyes and glanced at Daniel.


Vala beamed and kissed Daniel cheek. “He likes me?”


“He likes you.” Caro nodded in agreement.


Daniel groaned, looking between the two women, he was happy to see that today Vala wasn’t putting on an act.


Vala took a bite out her sandwich and leaned forward, smirking. “So, how come he didn’t want to shag me in the office earlier?”


Again in unison, Daniel and Caro choked on their lunches.


                                                       * * * *

Cam stepped into Jack’s office where Jack had stayed for the rest of the afternoon. “I heard Lizzy waved.”


Jack set his papers down and looked up to Cam. “She did.”


“Bad news?” Cam took a seat in front of Jack’s desk.


“Not yet, but probably soon.” Jack sighed and ran a hand through his hair.


“Be ready?” Cam questioned.


“Be ready.” Jack nodded and leaned back, “So how’d things go on the planet?”


“We managed to leave without Sam punching anyone but me, and a few crushed younger males in the town.” Cam gave an amused smile.


“Good…” Jack chuckled. “Why’d Sam punch you?” he raised an eyebrow.


Cam shrugged. “I called her a babe.”


“So in other words, you deserved it…” Jack grinned.


                                                       * * * *

After dinner with Sam and Teal’c in the engine room, Vala made her way to Daniel’s and, she guessed, her quarters. She still wondered about that considering that while she now had the majority of her things in the room, she still had a room by the guest quarters and she and Sam were still technically working on how to fix up her room. Opening the door, she did have to admit it was getting kinda ridiculous, they hardly ever worked on that particular problem anymore, only focusing on it for a couple hours a week.


Vala thought back to what she had asked her friends in the engine room. She doubted that either had wanted to know about the actuality of her and Daniel’s sex life especially if the look Teal’c had given her was anything to go by (eyebrow #9 – This I did not wish to know). It was Daniel’s fault anyway, the man was still tiptoeing around that aspect of their relationship and she had been trying to get him to shag her for days. She knew he wanted to, and badly, if yesterday morning was any indication; he was just being too bloody decent. She was a space pirate for gods sake, decent wasn’t exactly a normal part of her vocabulary.


Inside the room she made her way to the bathroom, where she heard water running. There Daniel stood shrugging his shirt off. Na parei o diabolos, he had obviously been at the gym. “Hey, darling,” She bit out, watching the sharp planes of Daniel’s chest as he moved around the small room.


Daniel turned. “Hey. You wanna shower first?” he asked, knowing she had just spent the last couple hours helping Sam in the engine room.


Vala trailed Daniel’s chest and absentmindedly shook her head. “No, it’s fine.” Licking her lips, she gave him a look that had the bathroom mirror heating up. “Want company?”


Daniel chuckled, tugging at his pants under the heat of her gaze, and fought not to drag her in with him. “It’s okay. I think I can handle it.”


Vala scrunched her nose in disappointment, but chose not to push the subject. She did choose to smack his bottom on her way out of the bathroom.


Outside the bathroom Vala sat on the bed, pouting over Daniel’s dismissal. She knew why he kept rebuffing her advances, but it was getting to be just this side of ludicrous. Vala thought over ever reason why she shouldn’t interrupt Daniel in the bathroom and in the end threw them all out and made her way to the door. Kolasi, I’m a pirate. As the door slid open, she watched as Daniel turned to face her in shock from inside the shower.


“Vala?” His blue eyes blinked adorably at her.


Smiling, she just pulled her shirt off, “Scoot over.”


“I thought you were showering after,” Daniel blurted out quite possibly the stupidest words a man had ever said when faced with a half-naked woman in a bathroom asking to share the shower.


“I’m not a prude and neither are you.” Vala rolled her eyes, pulling her pants off.


“I know,” Daniel mumbled, eyes trailing over all the exposed skin.


Vala continued, removing her underwear. “We’ve already seen each other naked; I’ve changed in front of you and you’ve in front of me. There have even been a few nights when I wonder why I even wear something…your hands sneak everywhere. Lips too.” Her eyes glinted at the memory of several of their more recent morning activities.


“I know. So do yours.” Now Daniel had to smirk, as he too remembered. The other day, waking up in the midst of several texts, they had ended up being more involved with each other than with the texts and for while if he remembered correctly.


“So why can't we shower together? After all, we’d be conserving water…” Vala grinned mischievously at Daniel’s smirk.


Snapped out if his thoughts, Daniel leaned on the shower door. “That’s your argument?”


“Yes. Do you have problem with it?” Vala smiled, one perfect eyebrow raised.


“No, I just expected better.” Daniel extended his hand, which Vala took with a wide grin and stepped under the stream of water.


“Who’s washing who first?” Vala inquired as she wrapped her arms around his neck. Daniel rolled his eyes, but grabbed the soap and began gently rubbing a rich lather on Vala’s body as his lips became busy with hers.


Vala moaned gently at Daniel’s wonderful and wandering hands as they massaged and caressed every inch of her body. She leaned her head back against the shower wall, at the feeling the water trail down her breasts, Daniel’s lips following it. When he reached the gentle curve of her breast, Vala was scared he’d stop, but as usual her Daniel surprised her as he sucked her nipple into his mouth and worried the skin he found with teeth and tongue. As he lavished her breast with the attention of his wonderful mouth, Vala shifted her hips so her legs now straddled one strong thigh and lowered her hands from his shoulder.


Daniel released the now hardened bud from the confinement of his mouth with a groan, eyes snapping to Vala’s as her hand moved to grip him. Ungainly, he bucked into her hand, feeling himself slide against her thigh and Vala’s smile was short-lived as he lowered his lips to hers in a heady open mouth kiss. His arm was holding her steady by the waist and his other hand cupped one breast, his thumb teasing her areola making her moan into his mouth. Vala gripped the back of his neck with one hand, tilting their faces together, trying to pull him even closer to her. Gasping at her playful and quick hand, Daniel pushed against her, and lowered the hand cupping her breast to join with hers, he snuck his fingers past her stroking hand and made his way to the flesh between her thighs.


It was a passionate duel and Vala grabbed at Daniel’s face with her free hand, trying to keep their lips together. This time they released matching groans at the need to feel each other and the need for more friction. So much more friction, Vala thought absently as she tightened her grip on him.


“Daniel…” Vala breathed against his lips, needing more, because as wonderful as this shower was, the water was making their bodies much too slippery and easily detached from each other.


Groaning and with great effort, Daniel moved to turn the water off and separated from her lips, trying to create more space between them. They were both out of breath, flushed and wanton. They leaned against each other, regaining breath and clarity, and kissed any patch of skin they could find for a while longer.


Finally, Daniel’s voice broke through the steamed air as he separated them and tugged her hand, “Come on, we should get dry.” Daniel’s voice was rough and Vala had to press her thighs together at the feeling it gave her. She wanted to argue, and say she wanted to be wet, hell, she already was, in every way that she cared about, but licking her lips and looking at the beautiful, naked man in front of her, she just nodded. She knew that he still didn’t feel like they were ready for everything she wanted to do to him.


Stepping out, they went to wrap themselves in towels when Vala grabbed both, one around her hair, the other around her body. Daniel only stared in shock before he stalked toward her and Vala slid over to the other side of the bathroom.


“Vala!” Even as rough as it was, his voice held a small tone of amusement that made Vala proud.


“I need two towels. You can air dry,” she grinned madly, eyeing his body up and down. Daniel’s eyes narrowed and he moved forward. He managed to grab her just as she tried to slink past him, bringing her body to his. They play fought for a bit, mostly tickling and sliding around the bathroom, when Daniel grabbed her wrists and locked them behind her back with one hand. Vala squirmed and then they were both all too aware that they now stood naked and pressed against each other again.


Vala nipped at his lips as he teasingly pulled away. The teasing didn’t last long as with each tease and nip they pushed closer to the other. On the next nip Daniel took her lips and Vala arched her back trying to touch as much of him as possible.


He kissed her deeply and his hands then dug into the swell of her hip and Vala, suddenly finding her hands free, clutched at his head and neck.


They were kissing madly and Vala giggled as he pushed her against the shower stall with renewed passion until they slipped a little. Daniel then pulled back and tried to catch his breath. They separated for a moment, foreheads and noses bumping as they breathed heavily. Her hands began running through his hair; his hands caressed the skin he found at the small of her back.


“Vala…” He sounded serious and Vala shook her head pressing their lips together.


“No, you don’t. I know you didn’t want to have sex before because you’ve been thinking I was in some emotional distress, that I was too vulnerable or something and that you’d be taking advantage of me, but you wouldn't have.” She kissed him deeply before pulling back to look into his eyes. “I’ve wanted to. I want to.”


Daniel smiled, “Actually, I was just going to suggest the bed, considering we might die in here. It’s slippery.” He pressed his lips to her neck, smiling against the warmed, wet skin there.


Vala laughed huskily and grinned as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “Well then, lead on, my Daniel.”


They smiled and their lips smashed back together as they made their way out of the bathroom and half stumbled into the bedroom. Outside the bathroom, they collided with Daniel’s dresser and shared a laugh that for Vala quickly turned into a moan as Daniel lifted her to settle her on top of it, her legs automatically going around his waist. When they realized it was just a bit too high for what they were trying to do, he pushed them against the corner of the wall next to it. In between furious kisses, Vala grabbed on to his shoulder and lifted herself trying to increase the friction between their bodies. Finally finding footing on the dresser, now just behind Daniel, she found it the perfect height to give her just the right leverage. And giving him just the right angle.


Daniel gripped her right leg tightly and wrapped it around his waist. Trailing his lips down her neck, he nipped playfully at her pulse point as his hand traced electricity all over her body. His long fingers stroking the curve of her breast where his thumb circled her areola again. He bent his neck low to follow his thumb’s path with his tongue as far as he could and then the hand moved father south softly caressing her flat belly. When he reached the apex where her thighs met everything felt warm, he then gently mirrored the action his thumb had done before on her nipple on the flesh he found there, a counter-clockwise motion that had Vala gasping for breath.


Vala squirmed and arched against him, her toes curling into the edge of the dresser. “Fos mou,” she whispered unconsciously in Tau’ri and the words rushed through Daniel like fire, his dick twitching at the deepening of her accent. Bracing himself against the wall with his other hand, he brushed the wet hair out of Vala’s flushed face and kissed her full on the lips as she moved her hands down his body and, stroking him, guided him into her.


They sank into each other with heavy sighs of satisfaction and pleasure. Daniel hissed against her lips, “Just don't move for one second.”


“Daniel…” Vala wiggled her hips a little.


Daniel gripped her hips, forcing them still. “Vala, I’ve been struggling not to do this for the better part of a week, so for gods sake keep still.”


Vala’s eyes fluttered, sparking silver, and with a wicked smile she ran her nails down his chest making him moan. “If you even think this will be a quickie…”


Daniel said nothing, rolling his hips slowly, making her head fall back against the wall with a deep groan. Doing it again, he watched as she panted softly. “You were saying, cara,” he smirked, sucking on her neck, rolling his hips again as the Lantean endearment slipped off his tongue as it swirled around her pulse point.


“Gods, darling, if you ever stop, I think I might just kill you,” Vala panted, anchoring her left foot against the dresser and rolling her own hips to meet his.


Daniel chuckled, roughly sucking on her swollen bottom lip, he kissed her as if it was the only sane action in the world. Stilling her hip and keeping up the slow torture up for a few more minutes, he rolled his hips then began pulling out, slowly.


Vala made a sound of protest in the back of her throat that was soon turned into a broken cry as Daniel sank back into her. Fast and deep.


The meeting of flesh against flesh, the soft thumping of skin hitting the wall, and their heavy pants and gasps soon became the only sounds filtering through the room.

Both were lost in what they felt, in each other, then Vala felt as if the universe was beginning to expand within her, but she was missing something. Something she was sure only Daniel knew how to find.


“I… ” Her voice a mere breath that burned his entire being. He nodded knowingly, his breath rough, and pushing her harder against the wall, he dropped one hand and made his way to where their bodies joined. Vala rolled her hips and squeezed her thighs, and both almost fell short of the breath at the new angle. As he began caressing her, she cried out and clenched around him.


“Vala…” he gasped, thrusting as his thumb stroked her. And then with those two separate and equal movements, their eyes snapped opened. Blue and silver irises sparking, and everything stilled as if the moment was encased in glass, forever frozen, and then shattered, releasing the lightning it held inside. A storm in their bodies.


Fos tis psihis mou, Daniel… Fos mou” Vala came softly, stressing each syllable of his name, as it escaped her lips and reverberating a low rumbling thunder in the room. The feeling of her words, of her body tightening and releasing, much like a bow around him, drove Daniel to the edge as he kept thrusting into her. He was close, too close, but he… His thoughts were erased as Vala arched her hips one last time and bit down on his nipple, hard, pressing her hot tongue on the flat nub. Thought became white as he clumsily pushed into her, his body emptying into hers. Falling heavily against her body, he kept his right hand cradling her head as his left forearm rested against the wall, propping their spent bodies up. As they lay against the wall, their lips blindly looked for each other and Vala dropped her leg from the dresser, letting it hang loosely on his hip.


Gently, Daniel shifted their weight and slumped down to the floor. He leaned back dropping his head to the wall, Vala on top of him, her hands resting together on his chest. They lay there kissing and touching for a spell when Vala tucked her head under his chin, her lips lightly brushing against his chest. “We never made it to the bed,” she mumbled, looking at the aforementioned object.


Daniel’s eyes followed hers and ran a hand down her back. “Yet.” He pressed a kiss to her lips. Vala smiled and then sat up, her face suddenly growing serious.

“I… This… Does this mean I can now sleep here, with you, every night and have Sam forgo fixing my room, because really…” she fumbled over the words that she wanted to say with the words she could say and bit her lip.


Daniel smiled wickedly at her question, “Oh yeah… I didn’t even know you two were still on that.”


“Hmmm… we’re not really, but appearances…” Vala rolled her eyes, happy with his answer, and leaned down, her lips a hair’s breadth from his, giving him a wicked smile of her own. “I like the sound of that by the way.”


“The sound of what?” Daniel leaned up as he began to rub wide encompassing circles on her hips, one hand drifting up her back to the back of her neck and kissed her deeply. He tilted her back until her back hit the floor and she hissed against his lips at its coolness. Daniel smirked and rolled them so she was on top, it was only fair after all, and her resulting grin let him know it would be well worth it.


“We still need to make it to the bed at some point.” Vala then leaned down taking Daniel’s lips in a bruising kiss.


It would be the floor, Daniel’s desk and a couple hours later until they finally made their way over to the bed.


                                                       * * * *

Far away, eyes flashed gold in manic glee as Revanna fell. And in a very nice and classically decorated office on the 21st floor of the Lantean Unified Nations, Elizabeth Weir would not be getting any sleep.





  INSTALLMENT 2: Parts 17-?   



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