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"...It's been a long night
Trying to find my way
Been through the darkness
Now I've finally had my day...
...I know that we're so cold
We've seen the darkest days
But now the winds I feel
Are only winds of change
I've been through the fire
I've been through the rain
But I'll be flying, oh yeah..."
"Faith of the Heart"
Written by Diane Warren
Performed by Russell Watson
They had been separated as soon as they were taken into custody. Handcuffs secured their hands behind their backs. Manacles with chains that barely allowed them to take steps had been clamped around their ankles. Any attempts to speak to one another had resulted in being hit...the butts of the rifles the guards carried used as clubs. Nor were the guards particular about where those blows landed.
It was clear that their presence was a total shock to the people around them. Tied to chairs in laboratories and offices, it was just as obvious that those holding them knew of their reputation for escape. By keeping them apart, their captors erroneously believed it reduced the chances of any of the team trying to make a break for freedom. It didn't prevent the attempts. Nor did it keep those five individuals from being as annoying as possible.
When they had finally been taken, one by one, to be interrogated, the five teammates tried desperately to make sense of what was happening to them, telling their captors again and again that they were not from the reality in which they stood. Each of them asking...begging...demanding...to see or speak with General George Hammond; though their requests resulted in silence from their captors. Not understanding the reason that not one of the military personnel would look at them when the General's name was mentioned, they continued to make their appeals, until physical responses silenced them.
Teal'c had no chance to tell his teammates that one of his interrogators had made him undress, exposing the fact that he no longer had a symbiote pouch. An occurrence that the Jaffa feared had only heightened the amount of danger the team was in. They were taken to yet another area of the Groom Lake facility. The day just continued to get worse...
The main research facility in Area 51 had a plethora of small rooms used for individual research projects. Five had been emptied...desks, chairs, computers, shelves...anything and everything that had furnished the 'mini-labs', as they were referred to by those who worked in this particular section of the secret facility, was dragged into the hallways. One by one the prisoners were put into the small, bare, windowless rooms, the doors locked behind them.
They did not remain alone however. A fact that only confused the team further. Jack looked up when four beefy marines walked into the room. "Hello, fellas," he said cheerfully. "I was just about to order room service."
The first blow was unexpected. The second one he managed to avoid. The third, however, administered by a young man who had muscles on his muscles, threw Jack into the wall. Okay, he'd bet the farm that this wasn't a 'sanctioned' event. This was a blanket party. Sans the blanket. What the hell had his counterpart done to warrant this type of treatment?
Daniel was attempting to rise to his feet when the boot of the first man through the door caught him in the ribs. With a surprised cry of pain, he fell backwards. Managed to catch the second man off guard when he grabbed the boot aimed for his stomach, twisted as hard as he could. It was the only defensive move he was able to make. The beating didn't last long, just a few minutes. Long enough to leave him with dark bruises. But not long enough to be considered torture. When the door slammed closed, he leaned back against the wall, cradling a wrist he feared was broken. The fury in the eyes of those marines had been unmistakable. What the hell was going on?
Teal'c made no sound as the seven men swung their fists at him. The men were angry, and striking out not at him, but at what...or who...they thought he represented. He wondered just what had gone wrong in this reality, that the members of SG-1 were treated in such a manner...for he had heard Daniel Jackson's cry of pain as the door to his 'cell' opened, confirming that he was not the only member of the team being beaten.
Sam knew what was about to happen the minute that the door opened and five marines, all women, entered the room. It wasn't a hazing, like had occurred in the academy to several not so lucky cadets. She'd kept her head down, her mouth shut, and studied hard...and had thankfully been left alone. No, this was tantamount to a blanket party. Just like the beatings Daniel had endured. She winced when the first fist impacted on her jaw. And she fought back, until she was overwhelmed.
"That's enough!" a voice barked from the door. Casey struggled to her feet, her eyes blazing with fury, her hands curled into fists. She'd landed a few blows on her attackers, as the swelling eyes and bruised jaws attested. First that group of marines had come into the room...and...thank heavens that officer had heard her screaming...at least, she assumed that was what had happened. He'd stepped in, taken one look at the ripped BDU shirt on the floor, and ordered the men out. Then Curly, Moe, and Dipshit had shown up with two women she had tagged Thelma and Louise in her mind. No clue as to why everyone was so damned aggressive here.
"Get her ready to go," the man snapped.
"Just want you to know, I got dibs on this," 'Louise' sneered, grabbing Casey's left hand, thrusting it toward the captain.
The man looked at the wedding band and engagement ring. "You have no say in how or where her personal effects will be dispersed."
Casey jerked her hand back. She and Daniel had been running late...her fault for waking him up - her desire, her need for him pushing all thought from her mind other than satisfying that need. Not that he'd been complaining. He'd been quite cooperative, as a matter of fact, and had actually joined in with as much enthusiasm as he always had when he made love to her. They hadn't had time to stop by his office to lock the rings safely away. For the first time she realized that the rule regarding personal jewelry had less to do with 'recognition' by the Goa'uld, or any other enemy, and more about protecting those precious items from possible theft. "My rings stay with me, thank you very much!"
'Louise' backhanded her, sent her into the wall.
"I said that's enough. Get out of here!" the captain ordered.
The look he gave her let Casey know it wasn't out of concern for her that he'd given the order, or even stopped the beating she'd been enduring. He was following orders. It was as simple as that. She sighed. Well, it could have been worse, she supposed. She tried to move her jaw...found that the pain was damned near unbearable.
After another hour of questions, the team was bound, gagged and blindfolded. The beatings they had endured made being trussed up as they were more uncomfortable than normal. SG-1 was taken outside, a fact they were able to determine because of the heat, and led to a tarmac and a waiting Pave Hawk. It didn't take them long to realize they'd entered Area 51 when they'd been arrested. Now, it seemed, they were being moved. Leaving the mirror behind was not a good thing. The prayer in five minds was that they were on their way to Cheyenne Mountain. Hopefully they'd be able to speak to the General Hammond of this reality, and get the entire mess straightened out.
A A A A A A
As soon as the helicopter had touched down, the team was again separated, and taken into rooms that were obviously offices. Jack studied the marine who stood at attention near the door. The young man had glanced at him several times, a sneer on his handsome face. Not normally the reaction that he received. Although it seemed to be par for the course here. Did he really want to know what had happened here to make SG-1 public enemy number one?
"Name?" The man asking the questions was a bureaucrat if there'd ever been one. His tie had been tugged loose. His sleeves rolled partway up. He looked like every low-budget television detective portrayed. The only thing missing was the cigarette smoke circling their heads.
When he and Sam and Daniel and Teal'c had taken that unexpected turn into the Twilight Zone, and landed in 1969, he'd been James T. Kirk. Which had been funny for a few minutes. Then he'd told the man the 'truth', and had become Luke Skywalker. He almost grinned. "Han Solo."
The interrogator frowned, but said nothing. "Name."
"John Crighton. I'm a test pilot."
Again a frown. "Name."
Okay, so the guy had watched Star Wars and Farscape. Should have figured that out...they hadn't gone back in time, just to another freaking reality. And Mr. Chuckles there was writing down every response. Jack studied the man for a moment. Wondered if he'd be locked away for schizophrenia or some such thing. That would not be a good thing. It would be difficult enough to get back to the mirror; having to break out of a mental hospital to do so would make that proposition all the more difficult. "General Mayhem." Okay, so he couldn't resist trying just once more to get the guy to crack a smile.
Absolutely no sense of humor. Was that a requirement for being the ass who asked the questions during an interrogation? Personally, he'd always found that a sharp wit and a quick comeback netted far better results. And this game was getting old very quickly. Maybe if he played along, the questions would change this time. He could always hope. "Colonel Jonathan O'Neill. Two L's. Same as before."
"How did you manage to get into the secure storage room at Groom Lake?"
"We were standing beside the Quantum Mirror, Skippy. Buy a clue," Jack said, heaving a sigh. He'd been answering the same damned questions for at least an hour. The idiot in across the table from him would write down his answers. Get to the end of the list and start the whole thing again. What was with this guy, anyway? Was he a total moron?
"What plans did you and your cohorts have for causing damage to the Groom Lake facility?"
Another heaved sigh. "We were going to tear out all the walls and put in a nice golf course. Lots of artificial turf."
The man glanced up at Jack, but said nothing.
"What happened to you during the mission of September nineteenth. To the planet designated as PR7 291?"
"Never heard of it. Never went on it. Mostly because I'm not from this reality, Skippy. You have the wrong Jack O'Neill. Check your notes, I'm sure I've said that before."
"Major Samantha Carter."
"How did you manage to get into the secure storage room at Groom Lake?"
"The Quantum Mirror. We...that is, my teammates and I, aren't from this reality. If you just run a spectrum DNA analysis-"
"What plans did you and your cohorts have for causing damage to the Groom Lake facility?"
"We didn't have any plans to cause damage," Sam sighed. She was doing her best to remain civil. But answering the same questions again and again, her responses written down word for word each time, was starting to irritate the hell out of her. What was going on? "Let one of us speak to General Hammond, I'm certain he can-"
"What happened to you during the mission of September nineteenth. Planet designation PR7 291."
She closed her eyes. "We never went on a mission like that! We haven't been to PR7 291."
The Jaffa remained silent. Stared stonily at his interrogator.
"Where are my teammates?"
Teal'c clamped his mouth shut. He would not respond to questions he had already answered.
"Hmm...this time around, I think I'll go with Lucille Ball. She was a really great actress, you know. Great comedic timing. I really think that she and Desi Arnez truly loved one another, but his upbringing...that whole 'Latin men cheat and that's just the way it is' thing pulled them apart." Green eyes flashed with amusement as the man continued to write down everything she said. What an interesting report hers would be!
"How did you manage to get into the secure storage room at Groom Lake?"
"Fairy dust. Sprinkled it on ourselves, wished to find the most screwed up reality we could, and poof!...here we are."
The man looked up from the paper he was writing on.
"Look, we both know that you know exactly what's going on. So why don't you just call General Hammond and we'll get this little misunderstanding cleared up, okay?"
"What plans did you and your cohorts have for causing damage to the Groom Lake facility?"
"Who wrote these questions? Kinsey? Because I know that slimebag is alive in this reality. I can sense him all over this mess. He's such a pain in the ass."
In spite of himself, the man's eyes jerked back to the seer's face.
"That's right. He's dead in a couple of realities. In our reality, a Goa'uld named Mehen took him as host. Rotten deal all the way around. I mean, I hate Kinsey, but I don't wish that on him. Of course, Mehen sure didn't get much in the bargain either, I mean, Kinsey is just an asshole, not much to look at really. Not in the best shape. Usually the Goa'uld prefer pretty hosts. Or handsome, if you'd rather, for the guys." Casey smiled smugly. "Of course, if you're not cleared for all of this intel, I'll have to kill you. But I promise, I can make it painless. Well, mostly. I'm still having trouble with a couple of mastaba moves."
"What happened on September nineteenth-"
"You know, no matter how many times you ask me that, the fact that we never went on that mission isn't going to change. That was around the time when we found that weird pyramid thingy. Turned out to be some sort of Ancient time device. Right after that we went on a mission to scout out Ares...twisted bastard. I shot him in the 'nads. Meant to castrate the bastard, but I'm not good with small, moving targets. I think it was around the first of October when we found out that Daniel was a father, except he really wasn't, because he was sterile when he was with the little girl's mother, who was a total bitch, by the way, but now he's not sterile thanks to a little 'gift' from the Beings on...hmm...I'm guessing the sixth or seventh level of existence. Which means I don't dare miss a Depo shot now-"
"Okay, how about...let's see...um...Princess Buttercup. Have you ever seen the movie 'Princess Bride'?"
"Doctor Daniel Jackson. Archaeologist, anthropologist, Philologist."
"How did you manage to get into the secure storage room at Groom Lake?"
"Look, we've covered this...again and again and again. We stepped through what we thought was a simple doorway, only to realize, too late it seems, that we'd stepped through a Quantum Mirror. Which had to be malfunctioning in some way."
"What plans did you and your cohorts have for causing damage to the Groom Lake facility?"
"Why in God's name would we want to do that? As I've asked several times now!"
"What happened on September nineteenth, during a mission to planet PR7 291."
Daniel sighed heavily. "We never went on a mission to that planet. If I remember correctly, about that time we found an Ancient device that we presume was used as teaching or learning aid...to monitor what the various deviations in the time line can cause. It was fascinating, but dangerous. Jack blew it up. Well, technically Teal'c did the actual blowing up. Under Jack's orders. To be honest, I really wish we still had it. Then if we'd seen this reality, we could have learned how not to screw up our own timeline."
He rolled his eyes. Tugged slightly on the cuffs that kept him confined to the metal folding chair. If he could break free, he'd knock the jerk across from him unconscious, just to get a break from the mind-numbingly repetitive questions. Just what in the hell did his interrogator want from him?
The interrogation lasted for a couple of hours. Actually, Daniel thought, the men who questioned him didn't seem to care one way or another about his answers. They had already determined he, and apparently his teammates, were guilty. Of what, he had no clue, and no one around him seemed interested in letting him in on what was going on...
Just before he went stark raving mad, another marine entered the room. He was jerked to his feet, and a blindfold placed over his eyes. Fifty-two steps and three turns later, he was shoved into a small cell. Well, he assumed it was a small cell. There was nothing for him to trip over. He'd paced the perimeter twice, shoulder to the wall.
A A A A A A
Harry Maybourne was a man who had become an expert in protecting himself. He'd escaped from Federal prison, with a bit of help from one Colonel Jack O'Neill. He'd stayed free by protecting himself and his interests zealously. Even when he'd helped O'Neill and SG-1 again, he had still...and always...put his own safety first.
He'd managed to return to the country without anyone knowing, when it seemed that all hell had broken loose. Had then found himself stuck in the new 'North American States of Democracy'. Same political bullshit. But withthe aftermath of the wars, caused by the revelations concerning the existence of the Stargate, and aliens, all twisted to fit the ambitions of one man, namely that bastard Robert Kinsey; no one gave a damn about a former NID agent who had become a convicted traitor. Especially since the country in which he had been convicted no longer existed.
His time at 'home' hadn't been a pleasant walk in the park. He'd been just as terrified as the rest of the citizens of the country when a Goa'uld ship had been located by the Hubble telescope. Heading directly for Earth. When it had 'disappeared', reports filled the news that those who had examined the photos of the craft were certain that it had crashed somewhere. Two weeks had passed before that assumption had been proven wrong. At least for those 'in the know'.
He shook his head, downed the remainder of his drink. He'd damned near passed out when three people believed to be dead showed up at his apartment. Mostly because he still had no clue how the three had located him. He'd always been so careful...had always protected himself, hiding his identity in a web of deceit and assumed names.
He'd known Colonel Jack O'Neill, Major Samantha Carter, and Dr. Daniel Jackson from the moment they had become involved with the Stargate Program. He hadn't actually met them face-to-face until the program had been operational for almost a year. But he'd known who they were. Had watched them. Been on the opposite side when they took on the NID, their stance from the very beginning. In spite of that fact, he'd found himself called on by O'Neill, his expertise needed. At first, his only interest had been his escape from Federal prison. But that had changed as Jack had put his trust in a man he considered an enemy, in order to help General Hammond. In all honesty, Harry had been honored that the team, who so obviously disliked him, and distrusted him, would allow him to help them fight the bad guys. He'd proven himself to them. Even if they didn't like him, they had learned they could trust him. To have them ask for his help again hadn't been a surprise. The fact that they were alive to ask for it yet again...that was the surprise.
Being associated with the three survivors of SG-1 now, however, was an offense punishable by life imprisonment...or worse, death. The premier team of the SGC were now nothing more than wanted criminals. Harry trusted them a hell of a lot more than he would ever trust those who were in charge of the newly formed North American country. He understood why they'd reacted as they had. He had the 'inside' information that had been denied to everyone but those who had been there, inside the SGC when it had been shut down. Of those two hundred people, a mere handful were still 'free'. The others had been charged with various 'crimes against the peoples of the world'. General Hammond had been one of the first executed. For the first time since he could remember, his own personal safety had taken a backseat to what should be done...what needed to be done. Harry had quietly gathered information, including security taped footage that would prove just who was the true criminal. It was safely hidden away. When the time was right...
There were underground movements, all aimed at overthrowing the military government that had taken control; which was squeezing the very life out of the citizens it claimed to protect. Fifteen groups at last count, spread from the northernmost parts of Canada to the southernmost areas in Mexico. Harry worked for half a dozen of the groups, purely in a mercenary fashion, of course...or so he continued to tell himself, and those few individuals he associated with. But he'd been instrumental in encouraging cooperation between the various factions. Something of which he was privately very proud. He might have done the wrong things, taken the wrong path with the NID...he supposed the temptations had been too much...coupled with the idea that he'd been doing what was best for the country; now he was on the right side of the line.
The members of the revolutionaries were as varied as any other such groups in history. And used every means necessary to pass information from one small cell to another. The most favored method were the nightly news casts. What seemed to be minor traffic reports held a wealth of information for those who moved both figuratively and literally in the underground. It was a minor victory, and one savored by all of the freedom fighters...to use the very propaganda agencies that had once been free media...to spread their own messages. Messages that carried instructions. Encouragement. Hope.
Those facts made it necessary for him to watch the news every evening, as his contacts used locally produced commercials to request his presence. He glanced at the screen of the television above the bar. Nearly spit his drink across the table in front of him. Three very familiar photos were being shown.
"...arrested today inside the facility of the now mothballed Stargate Command. No details have been reported on how the criminals were able to access the compound, or what they had been attempting to do..." Commander General William O. West, in a taped interview, announced that the Tribunal of the People, which had already convicted the team in absentia, would hand down the punishment as soon as the criminals were taken before them. Probably happen within the next few hours, Harry thought, his assumptions validated by the continuing report. Execution would follow immediately, or so the news anchor gleefully reported.
Son of a bitch! If they'd been caught... Harry glanced around. Decided that he needed to get that group as far away from Colorado as possible. Because what wasn't reported was that the reason it would be a few hours before the team was taken before the Tribunal, was because they would be tortured for any and all information pertaining to their activities since their return, and the names of those who had helped them. He had no intention of being executed beside the fallen heroes!
Another thought pushed forward...there was no way that the three could have been apprehended inside the former SGC. There were guards who patrolled the perimeter of the Cheyenne Mountain compound. There were guards posted just outside of the massive door that closed the cavern rooms and the former missile silo away from the rest of the world. They had been captured elsewhere. Why the need to report that they had been inside the SGC? Would the populace be told the three had been trying to escape? Something was up. They had been arrested somewhere else...somewhere that the people in control didn't want the citizens at large to know about. Yes, indeed. Something was up. And he was going to find out exactly what that something was.
A A A A A A
The door to the cell swung open. Two armed guards stood near the opening, P90's aimed at him. A third marine jerked him to his feet. The blindfold had been removed and his hands freed when he had been fed...he wasn't certain how long ago that had been. If one could consider a bologna sandwich being fed. His arms were yanked behind his back. The handcuffs were replaced none too gently. He was shoved forward, nearly tripped on the rough floor of the tiny room that had been his prison once his interrogation had ended. Daniel tried to look around as much as possible. Hoping to get a glimpse of his Wife. Or hear her voice. Or that of any of his teammates for that matter.
The hallway was narrow. His guards were taking no chances that he might try to take advantage of the situation. The one behind him had the muzzle of the P90 in his back. Daniel had no doubt that if he sneezed right now, he'd be shot. Another door opened, and he was led down a wider corridor. The setting was slightly familiar, but he couldn't place the building right away. Through a set of double doors, into a room that left no doubt as to where he was. The only question was...why?
The room was filled, not a vacant seat remained in the large courtroom. The wood paneled walls muted any sounds that might be made, and managed to make the large room appear smaller, more...intimate. The dark wood was also as oppressive as hell.
He offered a smile when Jack and Sam were brought in as well, the three of them led toward the front of the room together. Which, he thought absently, was really taking a risk on the part of the guards who escorted them. Apparently those in charge assumed that he and his teammates would try to avoid being shot, or placing one another in danger of being shot. Jack had managed to convey a simple message with his glance. Find out what's going on. He would signal when it was 'time to go'. If the Goa'uld couldn't hold SG-1, there wasn't a chance in hell that this group could do so!
Behind a long table at the front of the room, placed in the center of a raised platform, sat a general familiar to the three prisoners who were led in. Two others were well known to Jack. How they'd managed to acquire those seats was something he could only guess at. Shoved into waiting chairs, the manacles around their ankles chained to metal loops in the floor, their only hope of returning to their own reality was that this time they would be more successful in convincing those around them of the truth.
Murmurs broke out among the gathered observers when the tall black man and the slender blonde were brought in...wide-eyed stares greeted them as they followed the same path their teammates had just walked. Word had already spread about the fact that the black man had no symbiote, nor symbiote pouch. About the blonde, however, speculation ran high. There had already been whispers concerning what her interrogators had reported...that whoever she was, she too was a seer.
His heart lurched in his chest when he turned around. She had a black eye, and there was a bruise on her jaw that was suspiciously hand-shaped and so purple it was nearly black. But she was alive. He watched her as she stumbled into the room, shoved roughly by the guard behind her.
It was all she could do to keep from crying with relief when she saw him. His face was bruised, his eyes revealed the stress and worry they were all feeling. But his shy smile let her know that he was all right. His beautiful blue eyes lit up when she smiled in return.
As soon as the two newcomers were seated beside their teammates, the man in the center pounded a gavel on the wooden sound block, bringing the proceedings to order. He glared at the five people seated at the narrow table across the floor from him. "Master Sergeant, read the charges."
A man unfamiliar to the defendants stood to his feet. "In the matter of the North American States of Democracy against the individuals formerly known as SG-1, the following charges have been levied: Five counts of desertion. Five counts of dereliction of duty. One count of aggravated kidnapping in the first degree. One count of aggravated murder in the first degree. Seven counts of aggravated assault. Two counts of assault. Fifteen counts of brandishing a weapon. Fifteen counts of possession of illegal firearms. Ten counts of aggravated robbery. Three counts of breaking and entering..."
Five pairs of eyes went wide, glances of total disbelief were exchanged, mouths dropped open in utter shock. What in the hell was going on? What the hell was the 'North American States of Democracy'? Every marine they had seen was still wearing the same uniform...although there hadn't actually been time to examine squadron patches very closely. Nor had they actually seen any other branch of the military represented...only the marines. An oddity that suddenly occurred to all of them, their exchanged glances confirming their paralleling thoughts. This was so not a place where they should be! "Excuse me," Jack said, attempting to rise to his feet.
"The prisoner will remain silent!" the general in charge roared.
Jack shook his head. "I've had enough of this crap. I don't know what's going on here, but you have the wrong people! Which we've been trying to tell you for hours now! The fact that we were grabbed by the Quantum Mirror should be a freaking clue!"
The marine guard standing beside Jack slammed the butt of his rifle into the colonel's stomach. Jack gave a grunt, air whooshed from his lungs, and his face went pale just before he dropped back into his chair. Okay, apparently this particular 'democracy' didn't worry about anything like the Geneva Convention; brutality seemed to be the accepted mode of operation. As he gasped for breath, four bodies rocketed from their seats in protest.
"You know we're not the ones you want," Casey said accusingly.
The general stared coldly at her. "I don't think there's a doubt in any mind in this room that you are exactly who we think you are."
"It's convenient to believe that, yes," she replied. "But you know it's not true." She cocked her head sideways. Nodded slowly. "Oh...Oh! I see. Yes, we are exactly who you think we are. We're an SG-1 team from-"
The general nodded, and one of the guards moved to stand in front of the slender seer. He pulled a device from his pocket...a red ball that had leather straps attached to it. The ball was forced into her mouth, so roughly that she cried out from the pain of having the rubber sphere jammed between her teeth, the rough treatment making her already aching jaw hurt all the more. The straps were buckled tightly behind her head, effectively shutting off any other protests she might make.
"You son-of-a-bitch!" Daniel snarled. "You're scared to death to let anyone know you've screwed up! Do you really think that the people you're after would allow themselves to be caught so easily?" He grunted with pain when he was the recipient of the same treatment as Jack had received. Casey's green eyes blazed with fury.
Sam shook her head. "I don't know what's going on here. But I do know you're making a big mistake. If you're after SG-1, you have the wrong group. And the team in this reality won't be any more amused by this than we are. I think you've screwed up big time, and now you're trying to get rid of us to cover your own incompetence!"
Teal'c stepped in front of her, as much as possible, when the marine raised his weapon, intent on delivering a blow that would have no doubt rendered Sam unconscious. "I do not believe it would be in your best interest to proceed," he said, his voice low and full of anger.
"It doesn't matter what you think," the general spat. "The three of you have been convicted, in absentia, of these crimes. This Tribunal is simply a formality. We will hand down your punishment. I have no idea where you found these...look-alikes...but they will spend the rest of their lives in prison for aiding the most wanted criminals in the country."
"West, you were always an ass," Jack wheezed, still reeling with pain. His ribs had been broken during the blanket-less blanket party he had endured, and hadn't completely healed yet.
"Colonel, you are out of order!" General West exploded. "Cuff them into the chairs, gag them all if any of them utter another word!"
"You really don't want to do that," Daniel said menacingly. "If the SG-1 of this reality is out there, they'll just add this to the list of what's gone wrong. And they'll be sure to collect payment for it. After all, anything you do to us is exactly what you want to do to them. And since they're our counterparts, you know they'll be pissed off about what's happened." The buzz of whispered conversations filled the room.
The general glared, began to pound his gavel again, calling for order. "The visitors in this court will disregard the lies being told by these criminals," he shouted, determined to stop any speculation that the five people at the defendant's table were telling the truth. Too arrogant in his position of authority to realize that the damage had already been done, that there were already those outside of the courtroom, and the bases where the team had been held, who were whispering about the news of the Quantum Mirror and an SG-1 team from a different reality.
At least, Daniel thought wearily, he now knew what Casey's dream had been about. The night she'd had it filled his memory...
Her soft cry had awakened him. Her sudden movement as she sat up brought him to full consciousness. He rolled toward her. "Casey?" His voice was rough, his eyes mere slits as he reached back and turned on the lamp. He sat up beside her. Wide green eyes focused on him. Trembling fingers moved over his face, traced a line from his left eyebrow down his cheek to his jaw. He caught her hand, felt the tremors that he could see moving her slender frame. "Angel, what's wrong?"
"Everything," she whispered.
He frowned. "Tell me what you saw," he said softly.
She took a deep, ragged breath. Shook her head slightly. "I saw us...so angry, so bitter. So...cruel."
"Us? You and me?"
She shook her head. "SG-1. I don't know how, or why. It was...awful! You and Sam and Jack...murderers! You were murderers!"
"What about you and Teal'c?"
"Dead," she whispered hoarsely.
Blue eyes widened with shock. "We killed you?"
"I don't think so...no...no, you didn't kill us," she said.
She was obviously still sorting through the horrible images that had filled what had to have been a nightmare, he recognized the look in her eyes. He pushed the pillows against the spindles of the headboard. Settled himself against them. "C'mere," he said, holding his arms open. Waited until she was sitting between his legs; her slender legs over his right thigh, one arm around his neck, the other hand moving up and down his chest. He pulled her close, held her tightly. "Now, does this dream have a beginning?"
She shook her head again. "Not really. I'm not sure when it started. I just know I kept seeing the same things, over and over-"
When she stopped speaking, he looked down at her face. She was frowning, tugging her full lower lip between her teeth. "It can't be a premonition," she said softly. "Because you and Jack and Sam killed Kinsey. No, that's not exactly true. The three of you tortured him to death. It took days for him to die."
"Kinsey?" His frown deepened. The last anyone had heard of former Senator Robert Kinsey, he'd been taken as host to the Goa'uld, Mehen, on a planet controlled at the time by Ares, in a ceremony known as 'The Taking'. Teal'c had explained the...process...when the Jaffa had explained what had happened to Sha're. That slaves and servants were brought in, sometimes entire villages of people forced to observe a Goa'uld burrowing into the neck of its hapless victim. To listen to the screams of pain. To watch as the eyes of a friend, a loved one, glowed from within, and the voice of the false god came from their mouth. The ceremony was used to terrify, to control. To crush any hope of ever escaping from the Goa'uld. No, Kinsey probably wished he was dead, but he was still very much alive.
"You were all so angry at him...enraged. He was the reason for...for something awful. I'm not sure what. That rage had filled you, all three of you. You were...it consumed you."
"Kinsey is a Goa'uld host now."
She shook her head again. "No. He was Vice President of...of I think it was the United States. He was...he was so surprised to see you...he thought...he thought you were dead." Her blonde head tilted sideways. "He wanted you...us...to be dead."
Daniel's frown matched that of his Wife's. "Honey, it was just a nightmare. There is no way in hell Kinsey could even come back to Earth without being arrested. Not now. He was tried in absentia for treason. Even less of a chance of him becoming vice president."
"I know." She took a shuddering breath. "It was too real. It was too real to have been just a nightmare." Once again her finger traced a line on his face. "Scarred. The three of you were scarred. Body and soul."
She was still trembling. Shivering. Her eyes haunted. Whatever she had seen had terrified her...upset her in a way he hadn't seen since they had dealt with Tem...who had been the most deranged Goa'uld they had run into so far. "If Kinsey was there, Angel, it couldn't have been a premonition."
Casey closed her eyes, re-opened them immediately. "Talk to me," she whispered, shifting slightly, twisting her torso so she could wrap both arms around his neck.
She was holding so tightly he could barely breathe, as if terrified he was going to slip away from her. It was a familiar plea, one made each time she suffered a nightmare and couldn't put the pieces into any semblance of order. Or was a replay of something the team had survived. It was a request to help her focus on something...anything...other than the images that filled her mind. One hand moved over her arm, up to her wrist. Tugged just enough to loosen the death grip she had around his neck, so that he could speak without choking. He continued to caress her, his hand moving up and down her back in slow, rhythmic circles. "I've almost finished translating the text on those pillars. A couple of the pictures were a bit out of focus, so I'm not certain about a few of the glyphs. If I'm lucky, General Hammond will let SG-1 go and take a look at them. I'd like to have a few more pictures, from different angles. Of course, if we get to go, then I can translate from the pillars themselves."
"Anything important in them?"
"There was a section that spoke about a weapon of great destructive power, one so dangerous that the creators took it apart, and flung the pieces to the ends of the universe."
"The creators of the weapon, or the Creators of mankind?"
Daniel smiled. The question was typical Casey. "I have no clue...yet."
"Well, don't let Jack know. If he thinks there are pieces of a big honkin' space gun out there, he won't rest until he finds it. We'll see the true bloodhound in him."
He smiled and pressed a kiss to her forehead. "Okay. No telling Jack about it."
She shivered again, then snuggled closer.
Whatever she had seen, it was still haunting her, Daniel thought. The tremors that moved through her slender frame hadn't lessened one whit. What she'd told him, little as it was, had been disturbing. His mind pushed forward the knowledge that what she'd witnessed couldn't be a premonition. Kinsey was a Goa'uld now. To his knowledge, the Tok'ra hadn't been able to locate Mehen since his defeat as he'd approached Earth several months earlier...when the Prometheus had been on its shakedown cruise. They suspected that the Goa'uld was in hiding...from Ares, they assumed. Of course, with Ares dead, it was possible that he'd make a reappearance. The fact remained, Kinsey had been taken as a Goa'uld host. Ergo, what she had witnessed could not possibly be a warning of future events.
He pressed his lips to the side of her head. It was probably a nightmare brought on by their late dinner of Indian food at Little Nepal. The spicy curry had given her nightmares before, although those had been more of the 'something-is-trying-to-catch-me' variety. Nor had she been as terrified. Details of that particular dream had been sketchy at best, and a few minutes of holding her had been all she had required before falling back asleep...
Daniel sighed. Now was a hell of a time to figure it out. His eyes moved toward his Wife. Why hadn't she seen what was about to happen? The only time she didn't get a 'heads up', or a clear idea of coming events was when it involved direct danger to herself, or when...Well, shit. What is it that the team has to do now? Because as sure as he was sitting there, a reason for their situation had already been determined. Now the only question was whether or not Casey could discern exactly what it was that was supposed to occur, and what role SG-1 played in the whole thing.
A A A A A A
He contemplated for a moment, then decided that he had to find out for certain. It had been a few months since he'd last been sneaking around, trying to find the information he needed. That time he'd been on Kinsey's property, locating the Senator-cum-Vice President for the one group of people who had suffered the most because of him. Harry'd had every intention of exacting revenge on the bastard himself. He and SG-1 hadn't always been on the same side. But those four people...well, five, counting Jackson's wife, had trusted him in the past. He owed Jack, for 'allowing' him to escape, to have his life in the Islands. He owed Jack for allowing him to prove himself to the only people he'd ever truly admired. For a man who had no friends, SG-1 were the closest thing he'd had.
Harry always had a briefcase full of usable, disposable...and stolen...cell phones. He grabbed one. Dialed a number that he alone knew about. Waited impatiently for an answer. Damn it to hell!
When SG-1 had contacted him, at first Harry hadn't known whether to be surprised or thrilled. The scars on Jack's face had made him flinch the first time they'd met after the team's mysterious return. Jackson's face was scarred as well. And the major...even now he shivered. Those sapphire blue eyes had looked at him...through him. As if he didn't even exist. And there had been pain so deep in those blue depths that it had made him physically step back. He had no idea what they had gone through. He did know that it had been bad...unspeakable. And that Kinsey had been responsible.
He'd been eating dinner. Well, a TV dinner that was. The pounding on the door had him on his feet, his hand reaching for the Glock 9 millimeter that he carried at all times, in spite of the new laws making it a federal offense for a civilian to be 'armed'. Weapons of any type, but most certainly semi-automatic weapons, were forbidden. Not that he'd ever paid a lot of attention to laws.
"Open up, damn it! I know you're in there!"
It had been almost impossible to keep from dropping to his knees at the sound of the voice. "Jack?"
"Open the goddamned door, Harry!"
He darted across the room, turned the volume higher on the television. Then cautiously opened the door. The chain guard was ripped from the wall when Jack O'Neill had shoved against the door. Daniel Jackson and Sam Carter were right behind him. "How...when-"
"Long story," Jack sighed, closing the door gently.
He'd studied the three. They looked...tired. Absolutely exhausted. Jack had three scars on his face, one on each cheek, and one beneath his right eye. Not more than an inch in length, the angry red marks were the obvious result of being cut. Of being tortured.
Jackson had a scar on his face, that ran from his left eyebrow, down his left cheek to his jaw. The scar was thick and red...whatever the good doctor had been cut with hadn't been sharp. Had it been torture as well, or a result of the supposed crash of that Goa'uld ship?
It was Carter who surprised him the most. Her beautiful blue eyes blinked at him, as if she'd never seen him before. And where there had always been a glint of her amazing intelligence, and the temper that she was known for, was nothing but emptiness.
"Because that bastard sealed the SGC while we were still out there," Jack growled. "We were on our way home, cutting the mission short since there wasn't anything to stick around for. Got tangled up with some of Ba'al's Jaffa. By the time we got to the 'gate-"
"We couldn't get the IDC code to verify," Daniel interjected. "We knew they'd close the iris."
"What happened?" Harry asked. Shuddered when they stared at him through the eyes of men who had suffered far too much.
"We were captured," Jack spat. "That damned snake killed Teal'c...executed him in front of us and most of his Jaffa."
"Your wife?" he asked Daniel pointedly.
Daniel's eyes had filled with unmistakable pain; which was quickly replaced by cold fury. "Bitch killed herself."
Harry hadn't missed the look of raw pain on Jack's face at the anger...the ice cold rage...that filled the young man's voice. "I'm sorry."
"Yeah. So am I. If she'd just waited a couple more days-" Daniel broke off. Whirled around and walked toward the window. Pressed himself against the wall, used the barrel of a nine-millimeter Beretta to move the blind just enough to see past it.
"So where the fuck is Kinsey?" Jack asked.
He'd never known either O'Neill or Jackson to swear in such a manner. Not even when things had gone to hell on them when Carter had been kidnapped, and they almost didn't get to her in time. "In DC. Vice President's residence."
"We need the keys."
"I don't know if I can-"
Jack pressed the tip of a very long, very sharp knife against his throat. "You have twelve hours to get us what we need to get inside."
"And then what?"
"Nothing you need to know about."
Harry shivered. He'd always been the one to threaten. To cause those around him to shudder with fear...and with loathing. It just wasn't right to see these three...these two, he amended, noting that so far Carter hadn't said a word, hadn't even reacted as if she understood what was being said...it wasn't right for two of the best men he'd ever met to be so...so damned cold. So cruel. More proof, it seemed, that the whole damned world had gone to hell.
Dialing a different number, he was already driving toward one of his many hideouts. A series of old bunkers where WW II munitions had been stored after that war had ended. And had been added to again after a little conflict in Vietnam. Harry knew about the bunkers, a part of a base mothballed during the downsizing of the military by a former president, knew what they contained. Using skills he had honed over years, he had set up a trail of paperwork that declared the bunkers had been emptied. Even managed to 'lose' the location of the bunkers. There were munitions too old to risk using. But there were plenty of others that were very usable.
"What?" a voice asked.
"Trouble. Meet me at Uncle Sam's."
"Locate our friends in the desert. I want the details. Anything that might be of use. Take it home."
Harry crawled into his van. Waited until he was on the freeway to toss the phone out of the window. After carefully wiping it off, of course. He'd do a bit of recon. And then take any action that might be...necessary.
A A A A A A
"The prisoners will rise," General West intoned. "Colonel Jonathon 'Jack' O'Neill, Major Samantha Carter, Doctor Daniel Jackson, you have been found guilty of all charges, and are hereby sentenced to death by lethal injection."
Casey's muffled cry filled the air, she tried in vain to move closer to her husband.
The general barely glanced at the obviously distraught woman. He did notice, however, that there were those who were watching her, and were beginning to murmur again. He could almost hear the speculation. What if the rumors were true? What if this group really had been captured at Area 51, near an object known as the Quantum Mirror? While news reports continued to give the location of their arrest as the former SGC, someone, somewhere, had let it leak that the team had been capturedinside the still mysterious Area 51 at Groom Lake. And that they had been apprehended on arrival, not as they tried to make their escape. When the source of the leak was found, it would be plugged. Permanently. As soon as this group was taken care of, things would finally calm down. The 'real' SG-1 had been keeping out of sight for months now, thus the reason the military police had so far been unable to locate them. When the real SG-1 was finally located, they'd be shot on sight, there would be no need for even a sham trial for them. With the group gone, and enough time to allow the citizens to forget all about the formerly secret project, Kinsey's...associates...would be able to open it again. And when the Stargate Program was restarted, West would be in full control, and would remain the general in control...that was the promise Kinsey had given him. He would be the hero of the people, more popular with the men and women assigned to the new SGC than that damned Texan general had ever been. He almost smiled as the thoughts whirled through his mind. Just before the entire building shook, and the repercussions from at least three separate explosions tossed the occupants of the courtroom to the floor.
Screams of fright filled the air when bits of plaster fell from the ceiling, dust swirling around the heads of the observers. The guards in the room were looking at one another in stunned surprise.
"Get them out of here!" West shouted. "Put them in the secure holding tank for now!"
Marines seemed to materialize from thin air, surrounding the team, one man working furiously to unlock the manacles that held the five in place. By the time he'd finished, the sound of gunfire was echoing in the hall just beyond the closed doors.
Pulled and shoved, the team was taken through the side door, into a narrow hallway. When two armed gunmen appeared, it was natural reaction for the team to knock the marines out of the line of fire, hurling their bodies in front of the men who were in charge of moving them.
A familiar face appeared in the fray as the team did their best not to be hit by the bullets that were flying between two obvious groups. When Daniel hurled himself against one of his guards, effectively preventing the young man from being hit and killed, the voice that went with the face growled at them.
"Have you lost your minds? Taken a damned morality pill or something?" Harry hissed toward Jack.
"Harry, what the hell are you doing here?" Jack asked wearily. He just did not have time to deal with a renegade NID agent. Who was supposed to be on some tropical island at the moment. He had to get his kids out of this mess so they could figure out a way to get home. Time was ticking for them, and they certainly didn't have enough to spare for this!
Harry's eyes narrowed. "What are you talking about? I've kept your asses out of the slammer and alive for six months now!"
Sam looked over her shoulder, focusing on the man who was both nemesis and ally. "You've what?"
Any answer Harry might have offered was cut off when another group of marines arrived. He and his men faded into the shadows, and seemed to disappear, making use of the backrooms that were, for the moment, deserted.
A pair of brown eyes widened as she watched from the relative safety of the judge's chambers, where she'd hidden when the first explosion had occurred. Whoever they were, those five people weren't the vicious killers she had been led to believe they had become. In fact, she began to wonder if what she'd heard about their 'fantastic claims', and the fact that they had been arrested near the Quantum mirror, mightbe true...
A A A A A A
Shoved into a small, windowless room, the door slammed shut and locked from the outside behind them, the team stood and stared at one another. Whatever was going on, it wasn't funny...
The day had started out well enough. Routine mission, to examine what appeared to be an outpost of some sort. Photographs taken by the recon team had shown what at first appeared to be a mixture of Asgard and Furling cuneiform. Closer examination, however, proved that the writing had been a warning in both languages. Whoever had controlled the outpost was unknown.
"Doctor Jackson, do you have any idea what the presence of both Asgard and Furling cuneiform could mean?" General Hammond asked, examining a photo. He couldn't tell the difference in the marks, although there were two red marker notations that indicated which one was which.
"No, sir. It's a warning, but the photos don't show the text around these two key phrases. That's why I'd like to have a chance to take a look at the stele, to see just what else might be there."
"Do you think this warning might be important?"
"I don't know, sir. But given that there are substantial power readings in the same vicinity, it's safe to say that there's something that's still operational nearby."
"Could it be another Ancient device?" the general inquired.
"It's possible. If that's the case, the warning is to leave it well enough alone. But anyone who doesn't read Furling or Asgard won't understand, and chances are they'll either knowingly activate it, thinking they can control it, or unknowingly activate whatever is there, by the simple fact of not knowing that something dangerous is nearby," Daniel replied. "Either way, it could be disastrous."
"Sir, given the nature of the devices we've stumbled upon in the past...the Quantum Mirror, the time device...making certain that whatever this is can't be used is in our own best interest," Sam offered.
The general digested the information he'd been given. It was true, both of those devices had caused a few problems for the SGC. "Very well. SG-1, you have a go."
Thirty minutes later, the team was stepping through the 'gate to a deserted planet covered with a sub-tropical forest. Which had Jack complaining about all of the trees as soon as his feet had landed.
MALP images and the modified Geiger counter that Sam carried gave the team a basic idea of which way to go. Daniel examined the tall pillar that stood beside the DHD. The cuneiform covered all four sides, but seemed to do nothing more than repeat the warning. One of great danger, and that all should avoid the 'place of the evil lurkers'. Whatever that meant. Why the Furlings or the Asgard hadn't destroyed the mysterious device was another mystery. If the danger was great enough to warrant a warning, why leave the place intact?
The remains of walls were quickly discovered. The outpost had been small. Nothing within the fallen rocks and debris were the source of the energy spikes that Sam was recording.
They walked for three hours, finding themselves in the foothills of the mountains that had been visible from the Stargate. Again they found ruins. The walls extended for a hundred feet from what seemed to be the opening. And led directly into the side of one of the largest hills.
What had been the biggest surprise was the laboratory that had been hidden in a deep cave. Daniel's first thought was that it belonged to Nirrti. Which would warrant warnings such as were left by two of the First Four civilizations. That particular Goa'uld had a reputation for hiding her labs, where the macabre experiments she performed, in her on-going search for the 'perfect' host, were hidden from any and all prying eyes.
A large console was centered in the open area. Towers of what turned out to be power crystals lined one wall. Apparently the source of power for the laboratory, although it seemed a bit excessive. Sam speculated that a large square of black glass might have been a view screen of some type.
"Big screen TV?" Jack asked, walking around the six foot wide object.
"Something like that," Sam smiled.
"It's possible that whoever was here was watching indigenous tribes," Daniel suggested.
"Wouldn't the buildings have been a bit of a give away?" Casey asked. She shivered as she looked around. This wasnot a good place to be!
"Possible. Unless the buildings were already in ruins," Daniel theorized. "If that's the case, whoever decided to watch took advantage of the fact that whoever had been here before had used this cave. There might have been myths or warnings about the ruins that prevented any possible primitive tribes from getting too close."
"O'Neill. Daniel Jackson," Teal'c's voice had been calm. But his teammates knew in an instant he had found something. He pointed to markings beside an oddly shaped gemstone.
Daniel read the inscription, and before Jack could protest, touched one of the glyphs, then twisted the red gem. The sound of stone grinding against stone filled the air. Jack tossed a look of annoyance at the archaeologist, who ignored him. A very large boulder had slid to the side, exposing a dark tunnel.
Carefully, wary of setting off any traps that the Goa'uld might have left behind, the team flipped on the scope lights of their P90s, and moved through the narrow, dark passageway. It opened into another large cavern.
Lights had flickered for a moment, and then the rock-walled room had been flooded with fluorescent light. "Daniel, tell me we didn't just trip alarms somewhere," Jack intoned, glancing around nervously.
"We didn't just trip alarms somewhere," Daniel repeated dutifully, his attention already focused on the items scattered on a work table that occupied the center of the area. There was a familiarity to the room, although he was hard pressed to recall just where he had seen such a laboratory before. There were nearly a dozen statuettes, and at least as many tablets. Two seemed to be similar to the handheld computer that Sam carried. He caught her eye, picked one of the objects up to examine it. She took the other, they began to compare the devices.
"You're sure?" Jack asked.
The silver-haired man rolled his eyes. "So chances are, there could be bad guys on their way here right now."
"I doubt it," Daniel replied. "This place hasn't been used in millennia."
"Not very dusty," Jack countered.
"This room has been sealed. We're probably the first ones who have opened that outer door in a very long time."
"What makes you think that?"
"The Furling warning. The Furlings have been gone for several hundred thousand years."
"Gone as in dead, or gone as in somewhere else?"
Daniel shrugged. "I have no idea."
"O'Neill." Teal'c's quiet voice had everyone turning to look at him. He was standing beside what appeared to be a doorway in the solid rock. The room on the other side, however, was completely finished...drywall, paint, concrete floor...
Jack walked over, peeked into the room without getting too close to the door. "Sort of like the SGC. They left the entrances rough, like we did, just finished off the rooms that were built inside."
"It might not have been necessary to finish this room," Sam said. "It's even possible that the rock walls were easier to keep clean, that this lab could be used for delicate experiments that needed a 'clean room'," she speculated.
He nodded. "I don't see anything, do you?"
Teal'c shook his head. "It appears the facility is as deserted as what we have already encountered.
"Look at this," Daniel said, pulling attention back to the center of the room. He was holding up what looked like a Goa'uld tablet. He used the small 'turning device' needed to move from page to page. "It's a list...looks almost like 'gate addresses."
No one in the room noticed when the doorway seemed to fluctuate, as if a power source had been activated...
"Can you read it?" Jack asked.
"Take it home," the CO ordered.
With a nod, Daniel carefully put the objects in his backpack.
"Let's see where this leads," Jack said, pointing toward the doorway with the barrel of his P90. "Eyes open. Stay alert."
Just before the team moved through the doorway, Casey stopped, frowned. She took off the ball cap she was wearing, tossed it toward the center of the lab.
"Casey?" Daniel asked softly.
"Bread crumbs," she murmured.
She shook her blonde head. "I'm not sure. I just think it's important that we know we get back to the right room."
Jack had paused when he realized the seer had stopped. "Anything to tell me, Radar?"
With a nod, Jack went through first, Teal'c directly behind him. Sam and Casey followed closely, with Daniel on their heels in the six position.
Casey cocked her head sideways. The ever present 'hum' that she heard had just changed. Not much, but enough for her to notice. "Different," she whispered.
The sound of alarms pierced the air. Within seconds the team was surrounded. By armed Marines.
"Oh, this is not good," Daniel muttered as his pack and P90 were roughly taken from him.
"Different reality," Casey said softly.
Five heads swung to look back at the 'doorway' they had just passed through. Jack groaned out loud at the sight of the Quantum Mirror that stood silently.
"Why didn't it flash when we came through?" Sam asked hoarsely.
"We all moved through it at pretty much the same time," Daniel replied. "There weren't any 'breaks' between us. So we wouldn't have noticed any flashes."
"That can't be good," Casey gasped. Five pairs of eyes watched as the mirror seemed to flicker on and off, and then went to black.
"Who's in charge here?" Jack asked the Marine who seemed to be the commander of the group now holding his team prisoner.
"Like you don't know," the Marine growled. "Shut your damned mouths. You're going to get exactly what you deserve!"
Exchanging worried glances, the teammates were handcuffed, and blindfolded, which was never a good thing; shoved roughly when they hesitated to move. Within seconds they realized they were being separated. Jack called out orders, making certain that each of his 'kids' had replied, grimaced at each grunt or cry that let him know that their responses had been met with the same type of reaction his comments had been...the butt of a rifle into his solar plexus.
Yep, it had started out to be such a good day...
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