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++ This is the latest in my ongoing Pretender crossover series. If your curious as to how the characters arrived where they are, you can read the others but I don't believe that it's necessary to enjoy this one. I'd like to thank Shad, Leanne, Heidi, and Laura for helping flesh out the story and answering plot questions. It's been sometime in the making (almost a year) but it's been sitting waiting for a few points to be cleared before posting. Please enjoy and don't forget to tell me what you think! ++

KEYS TO THE GATE by DTS
(A Pretender/7 Days/Stargate SG-1 crossover)



Jarod steered his ship through the reefs towards the dive site he had found for himself. He was glad he had chosen the pretend that brought him to this southern paradise. Everything and everyone was so laid back it was easy to forget the dog-eat-dog world past the city borders. The only appointment a person made a point of keeping was with the sunset. He had never felt this relaxed since, well, ever. Diving and snorkeling opened a completely new vista to him and he wondered why he had never tried to experience it earlier.

The maps and sonar told him he was where he wanted to be. He shut off the engine and lowered the anchor. He then went to the stern and put on his wetsuit before checking the scuba gear to be sure it was functioning properly. Once assured everything was all right, he put out his "diver down" buoy before entering the water.

He had been diving a few weeks now and the variety of underwater life never failed to amaze him. Swimming through schools of brightly colored fish, he soon came upon the object of his search. It spread across the seabed, an underwater Stonehenge. With his digital camcorder effectively waterproofed, he documented his approach. He circled around to get the full expanse of the structure before focusing in on areas that piqued his curiosity. One such area was what he deemed the main approach and entrance. Two large standing stones on either side bore carved inscriptions in unfamiliar glyphs partially covered in barnacles.

As both his oxygen and the camera battery were running low, he scanned as much of both stones as he could before surfacing. Thoughts darted through his mind over his discovery. Could this be Atlantis? There didn't seem to be any other structures nearby, so why would there be something like this in the middle of nowhere? He couldn't wait to upload the video into his computer and begin to decipher the writing.

************************************************************

Dr. Daniel Jackson knocked politely on the open door. "Come in," said the voice of the occupant a tad too late as Daniel was already sitting down.

"Hey, Jack, I'm gonna need some time off the base."

"Why did you even bother knocking?" Gen. Jack O'Neill asked exasperated.

"Just out of courtesy. Anyway, an online connection sent me some photos he took of an underwater site he found off Florida."

"And you want to go off and play archeologist in the sun and surf?"

"Well, not *play*. I *am* an archeologist. Jack, the pictures are of an Ancient structure. There's no mistaking the writing."

"And what does it say?"

"I haven't had a chance to fully examine it yet. He only sent me the clearest shots. I think it's worth taking a look myself."

"Can you trust this guy?"

"Jarod? Yeah. We hooked up when he was researching a particular symbol he had found a couple of years ago before I ascended. I contacted him again when I got back. His perspective on this is so fresh. It sparks great discussions." Daniel looked at his best friend with pleading eyes. He knew that since the promotion, the administrative duties of being base commander seemed to elude Jack. Barking orders came naturally.

"Daniel," Jack hesitated.

"C'mon, Jack. Things are slow right now and you have a number of teams between missions."

Jack looked down at the papers on his desk as if the decision required thought. Daniel knew better than to push the advantage. "I guess we could always contact you should we need you."

"Thanks, Jack." Daniel stood and headed for the door. He paused and turned to face Jack, his mouth open and ready to speak.

"You want me to arrange a flight for you?"

"Yeah, that would be great." He left the office.

"Daniel!" He popped his head back in the door. "Where am I arranging a flight to?"

**********************************************************************

It was close; she could sense it. The next time it sent out a pulse, she would have its location. Her mission complete, she would be able to leave this planet and return to her own kind away from the Tau'ri. These humans left to their own devices had multiplied at a ridiculous rate and warred amongst themselves. They were also a plague on the senses. The stench of them assailed her nostrils and their loud, shrill voices grated on her ears. However, once she brought Ba'al the weapon of the Ancients, Earth would fall and the first victims would be SG-1.

********************************************************************************

Jarod stood on the tarmac and watched the Cessna taxi up to the gate. Once the engines shut off, the door opened and the steps were lowered. A man in his mid-thirties stood at the opening and spoke with the pilot before stepping down. He wore a pair of light khakis and a loose short sleeve button-down shirt. He had a duffle bag slung over his shoulder and sported a baseball cap with some sort of emblem on it that he couldn't decipher at this distance.

"Daniel?"

The man in question looked up, smiled, and changed direction. "Jarod, it's good to finally meet you," he said as he reached out his hand.

"Same with you." Jarod shook the proffered hand. "You travel light."

"I've learned from digs to only take necessities."

Now that Daniel was closer, Jarod could see that the insignia on the cap was that of the Air Force. From all the chats and emails, Daniel didn't seem like one to sport military accessories. "Nice hat," he said in the hopes of an explanation.

"Yeah, a friend of mine's in the Force. Just got promoted recently, too."

"I guess that explains the lift." They reached the parking lot and Jarod stopped in front of his Indian motorcycle. "Here, you had better put this on." He tossed the archeologist a helmet. "Safety first."

***************************************************************************

Jarod was not at all what Daniel expected. He thought the man would be a bit more academic looking and more...subdued. Kinda what he had been like before meeting Jack. The man who met him looked to be in top physical condition and tanned from outdoor living. His dark brown hair was longer than Daniel's own, but not as long as it was when he first became involved with the Stargate. His curiosity and observation skills were definitely those of a scholar. He knew he shouldn't have worn that cap but one of his old floppy brimmed ones instead. At least he didn't lie about it.

Now, to add to the dichotomy that was Jarod, he stopped in front of an Indian motorcycle and tossed him a helmet. "This is yours?" he asked in disbelief.

"Parking is at a premium here. A motorcycle makes much more sense."

Daniel shrugged, put on the helmet and climbed on the back of the motorcycle behind Jarod. **Thank God Jack can't see this!**

*****************************************************************************

Col. Samantha Carter watched the monitor as the computer ran a number of simulations regarding a new power source to run the Ancients outpost in Antarctica since the ZPM the general found on Proklarush Taonas. That was now dead since all its remaining energy had been used to send a group of military personnel and scientists through the Gate to an address Daniel had deciphered and believed to be the location of the Lost City of the Ancients.

She had missed witnessing their departure as she had taken some well-deserved leave with her father offworld. She needed the time to think over what she had experienced at the hands of the evolved Replicator, Fifth. Even now, she could understand Fifth's motivation. He had felt used and betrayed by SG-1-her in particular. He had lashed out the only way he knew how, acting more human than he knew.

She shook her head to clear her thoughts. The prompt on the computer was blinking and she keyed in the next set of instructions. General O'Neill couldn't understand that this was her way to relax. For him it was fishing in the wilds of nowhere with the least amount of communication with the outside world. No, working on puzzles of any sort or tinkering with her bike helped her relax and forget the rest of the world.

She sighed and leaned back in her chair. Nothing was working. She couldn't find a way to maintain power and stay within the safety parameters. She wouldn't mind a little deus ex machina right now to give her a nudge in the right direction. She closed her eyes and tilted her head back. When she opened them, she spotted a mark on the wall. **No, it couldn't be. That was just too much of a coincidence.** She got out of her chair, crossed the room, and reached out for the spot. The glyph was transferred to the back of her hand. There was only one thing it could be projected from. She reached across the desk to where the ZPM was sitting, the lamp shining through. Sam ran her fingers along the side until she felt a slight etching. **This has to mean something, or why put it there?** Thankfully, the SGC employed someone who could tell her what it meant.

She made her way to the general's office. She knocked and waited for him to look up. "Sir?"

"C'mon in, Carter. Any excuse to avoid paperwork. How's it goin'?"

"Not well. Every simulation I've run to get the proper amount of power needed has either resulted in a release of lethal radiation or an explosion that would take Colorado and seven surrounding states."

"Ah."

"However, I did discover something on the ZPM itself that might give us a clue of sorts."

"And what might that be?"

"An Ancient symbol etched onto the casing. You don't remember anything, do you?"

"No, Carter, it's all gone. Thor wiped it clean."

"Then I need to show Daniel."

***************************************************************************

Recently promoted Brigadier General Jack O'Neill had to play this one a little carefully. It wouldn't do to have his best team halfway across the country should a mission pop up. Maybe if he didn't tell her *where* Daniel was. "That might be a little tough. He's off the base tracking down a possible lead to more Ancient technology."

"What kind of lead, sir?"

"Some guy Daniel's been corresponding with online sent him photos of Ancient writing he took at some site." **C'mon, Carter, let it die.**

"Wow, I'm surprised Daniel didn't say anything. Do you know where he is?"

**I should have known better. She's like a dog with a bone.** "At this moment, no, I don't."

"He must have told you where he was going, left you a way to contact him. It's SOP when off the base."

"I'm aware of procedure, Colonel. Daniel said he would call when he meets up with this friend."

"There is a way I could contact him first."

Jack could practically see the gears turning in her mind. He had an idea of what she was planning but played dumb. "I only know the guy's first name. Kinda makes it hard to let your fingers do the walking."

Carter gave him one of her trademark looks of weariness, having to explain her thought processes again. "Knowing Daniel, he wouldn't have deleted such an important email. I just have to find which one it is and send a copy of this symbol."

"After hacking into Daniel's email." Jack sat there a moment considering his options. If she did get a hold of Jarod's address, it wouldn't reveal where he was. The only problem would be if she read anything in the mail itself. Of course, as her commanding officer, he could prevent her from going. "There is one possible way around it, if you can't wait for Daniel to call."

"The quicker we can get the translation, the better, sir."

"Daniel may have printed a hard copy and left it on his desk." He smiled. "Though with Daniel in mid-project, who knows exactly where it might be."

"It's a start, sir. Thank you."

After Carter had gone, Jack began to mentally prepare his defense for when she learned that Daniel had gone to Key West. **Thank you, Danny boy.**

*******************************************************************************

Jarod pulled the motorcycle into the space designated for his berth. He shut off the engine and let Daniel get off first. The breeze blowing in off the Gulf made things a little less muggy, but only slightly. "C'mon, I think we could both use something a little cold."

"Sounds great." Daniel pulled at his shirt where it clung to his body from the heat. "One thing about Colorado; there's not this much humidity."

"When we get out on the water, it won't be this bad." Jarod led the way down the dock to where his boat was tied up. It was a 45-foot cabin cruiser with both a for- and aft-cabin. She was named ~Centre of Attention~, which Jarod felt appropriate considering the Centre had their attention on him. He climbed on first then held out his hand for Daniel's pack so he wouldn't be off balance.

Ignoring the hand, Daniel jumped nimbly aboard. "Now this is what I call a mobile home."

"You can store your gear in the forward cabin." Jarod unlocked the main cabin door and stepped into the living/dining area. As the passageway through the galley to the forward cabin was narrow, he motioned Daniel to go first. As Daniel set down his duffle on the bunk, Jarod stepped down into the galley and pulled two sodas from the fridge. "I hope this is ok."

"Yeah, that'll be fine." He paused in the passageway. "Um, I just need to use the, um..."

"Head? I'll wait up on deck."

Jarod took the two bottles of soda, went up on deck, and sat in one of the folding canvas chairs that faced the dock. He thought it best that he and Daniel get to know each other a bit better before they discussed the ruins and the symbols. He took advantage of Daniel's absence to review what he knew of the other man's life.

He had been born July 8, 1965 to two archeologists. Unfortunately, his parents were crushed to death when a stone slab fell on them. Daniel was only eight years old. He was then raised in a number of foster homes as his only living relative, grandfather Nick Ballard, was off on a number of his own digs. In the course of his education, Daniel mastered 24 languages and earned doctorates in archeology, anthropology, and linguistics. It was while working with Dr. Jordan in Chicago that Daniel first voiced his theories that the pyramids, even Egyptian culture itself, were older than previously believed. He was publicly ridiculed at a lecture in 1995 after which he virtually fell off the face of the earth.

When Jarod asked him Daniel what he had been doing in the intervening nine years, Daniel merely said that he was doing research and consulting work for a large private organization. His first thought was that Daniel had been "absorbed" by the Centre but then realized that the government or the military was more likely, though why they would need an archeologist of Daniel's caliber puzzled him.

Then there were those strange sightings in the sky a few months back. Mulder believed there were alien ships attacking Earth because how else could a number of navy vessels explode with no enemy ships nearby. Add to that the weird readings over Antarctica and another explosion out in space. Jarod had heard of them as well but didn't give them any credence. Now, however, it could be a distinct possibility.

Daniel stepped out onto the deck looking much refreshed. Jarod handed him the other soda and he sat. "Thanks."

They sat in companionable silence for a few moments, neither really knowing what to say. Daniel spoke first. "I never got the chance to ask you if you ever found the origin of that symbol you asked me about."

"The skulls? Yeah, I did. It had to do with some knights from the Crusade who guarded supposedly mystic scrolls. At least that's the story I got in Scotland."

"Did you find any proof that the scrolls existed?"

"Nothing concrete, no." It wouldn't do to let Daniel know of the scrolls. It would lead back to the Centre and he didn't want to involve anyone else with his past.

"Where did you go for a year or so? No one on the boards seemed to know where you went."

"I was on sabbatical for a very remote dig. Very little communication available."

"Did you find anything on the dig?"

"Some interesting artifacts, but nothing I can talk about just yet. We have to wait for the tests to come back."

Jarod interpreted that to mean Top Secret. "Can't have anyone stealing your thunder, eh?" Daniel gave him a nervous smile. "Don't worry, I won't ask any more." Jarod finished the last of his soda. "If you're up to it, we need to get a few provisions for tomorrow, plus you can't come all the way to Key West and not see the sunset. No need to protest, we can walk it."

*****************************************************************************

She made her way through the Tau'ri as they thronged the waterfront square as they did every night at the same time. She could not understand what drove them to do such a thing. There was no great proclamation by an overlord or god and no great enemy to confront. The food was not given away, in fact, it seemed more expensive here than elsewhere. The entertainment was common: jesters and gypsies. Yet, when the sun set in the west, a loud cheer went up from all who watched. To treat such an everyday occurrence as a festival befit these humans. It was a wonder they had come as far as they had.

She made her way to the edge of the water practically unnoticed by the crowd. To them, she was merely another observer in this nightly ritual. She had no fear of her small detector attracting attention as the majority of the humans carried personal communication devices and other small electronics. She was getting no readings at all. Every day she walked the perimeter of the island, waiting for the reading that would give her the direction of the Ancients' device. It had to give off another pulse soon. It had not set a pattern, but it had been too long since the last one.

She put the device away and prepared to meld into the crowd when she saw a face near one of the many vendors of what passed for food to these humans. It was a face she had never thought to see though it was one she knew by heart; a face that all major Goa'ulds had been trained to spot. If Daniel Jackson were here, the Tau'ri must know of the Ancients' device as well.

A young boy-child looked up at her in awe. She glared at him before the mother pulled him away. "Mommy, did you see? That lady's eyes glowed!"

****************************************************************************

Daniel was enjoying the celebration with all the hawkers selling their wares as well as all the street performers competing for attention. Jarod had transformed into an excited child as if he were absorbing the atmosphere directly through his skin. **Now wouldn't that be something.** He took a bite of his hot dog and a swig of beer and observed everything. Jarod, munching on a piece of frozen key lime pie, found a spot on the water's edge near a tight-tope walker.

It was amazing, this daily celebration of life. It harkened back to all the pagan celebrations of the sun-though a bit more commercial. **That would be an interesting thesis. Why in this technological age that man still feels the need to come together and celebrate nature.**

Jarod was watching the performer intently. To Daniel it looked as if he were making mental notes. "You planning on trying that yourself sometime?"

"Oh, I did a stint with Cole Brothers. It's just basic physics with a little showmanship thrown in. He's pretty good."

**An archeo-symbolgist who performed with a circus? You don't see that every day.** "You're a man of many talents, Jarod."

The man only grinned as if it was not the first time he had heard that.

"Mommy, did you see? That lady's eyes glowed!"

At the sound of the boy's voice, Daniel whipped about, trying to locate the direction of the child. There was a Goa'uld on this island and Daniel didn't need three guesses as to why. Thing was, did it recognize him? He'd have to call Jack as soon as he could manage a bit of privacy. He turned his attention back to Jarod and the sunset. It wouldn't do for him to get suspicious at this early stage.

********************************************************************************

Lyle sat in his office, a newly issued memo sitting on his desk. The higher-ups were not pleased regarding the pursuit of Jarod. With his sister's departure, that duty had fallen to him. There hadn't been any packages sent to taunt them and there had been no communications with Sydney. The man would probably lie anyway, which was why all his phone calls and e-mails were monitored.

He knew that Jarod had a soft spot when it came to Miss Parker, trying to point out what he called the truth, to chip away at her and make her as weak as their mother had been. Now she was gone, having run off with that irritating son of a bitch that was his younger half-brother. Through his government contacts, he probably provided her with a new identity making it easier for her to slip away undetected.

There was a soft knock on his office door. "Enter." Broots, the computer geek who used to work with his sister, entered timidly. "Well, what is it?"

"We have a possible lead on Jarod." He handed Lyle a printout of a newspaper article from the Key West ----. A dive instructor was arrested for negligence after two divers nearly died of "the bends". He was only brought to justice after a newly-hired boat captain checked the equipment and saw the gauges were giving false readings. "That sounds like something Jarod would do." Lyle looked at the date. "This is from three weeks ago! What makes you think he's still there?"

Broots gulped. "Um, since you, ah, took over, it seems that he's, um, staying longer after each pretend."

"You think he's not worried about me catching him? Just because I don't go haring off at each little sighting does not mean the chase is off. Contact this dive school and see what you can learn about the captain. We'll see if he's still there before we leave."

"Yes, Mr. Lyle." Broots retreated out of the office.

The news that Jarod didn't seem the least concerned about him irked Lyle. He had cultivated his menacing persona to an art. Intimidating Broots cheered him somewhat and hopefully they would receive the news that Jarod was still in the Keys. He picked up the phone to call the hangar. "Have the jet ready to leave for Key West as soon as you hear from me."

********************************************************************************

Mira Parker answered the phone on the second ring. "Parker."

"How are things in Nevada, Miss Parker?"

"Jarod. Why are you calling? Is something wrong?" She didn't bother trying to hide the worry in her voice.

"No, everything's fine. Your brother doesn't seem to be as gung-ho as you in his pursuit."

"Don't let that fool you. He's just biding his time until your capture will most benefit him." She sat back in her office chair. "What is it you need?"

"A little information. I didn't want to risk calling Sydney or Broots."

"And you think I can get it for you."

She heard him chuckle on the other end. "You're with the NSA. You're supposed to have the lowdown on everyone. Besides, I know you have a top-notch hacker there."

"Can't you look it up yourself? I thought there was nothing beyond your skills," she teased.

"Kinda hard to do when I have company. And not much time," he added.

"OK, tell me what you need."

"USAF officer, recently promoted either to colonel or general, stationed somewhere in Colorado named Jack."

"You know his name but no other details?"

"He's a friend of Daniel's. I caught the name as Daniel made a phone call. He's out there now talking to him."

"Who's Daniel?"

"An archeologist, Parker. An academic. Not your type at all."

"Who knows? Maybe an academic is just what I need." Her computer beeped. "Search is done. Looks like there are a few that meet your criteria. Your best bet, though, is General Jack O'Neill stationed at Cheyenne Mountain." That clicked in her head for some reason. She knew she had heard someone mention it casually in conversation. She let her mind drift in order for her inner sense to work. "Jarod, Mulder mentioned a top secret project going on there. Do you think..?"

"From what I've heard, it's a strong possibility. Thanks, Miss Parker. Say hi to Frank and the others for me."

Miss Parker couldn't help but smile at the change of circumstances involving Jarod and herself. Formerly his nemesis, he now called her for information and she gladly gave it. Jarod had saved her life-and her soul-by forcing her to choose between her newfound family and the family she thought she had known all her life. With her schedule free at the moment, she decided to do some further digging into this Col, Jack O'Neill and whatever he was doing at Cheyenne Mountain. If Jarod needed more information, he'd have it.

*****************************************************************************

Jack pushed his chair away from the desk. Paperwork was caught up and all teams had reported in on time and no emergencies. He checked his watch: 6:00. "Not bad, Jack. Getting better." He walked toward the door and was reaching for the light switch when the phone rang. **Almost made it.** He picked up the receiver. "O'Neill."

"Jack."

"Daniel. Having a grand time in 'de islands'? You must be because it's taken, what, four hours to call."

"It's the first opportunity I've had. We had to get a few last-minute provisions then we went to the Mel Fisher Museum. You know, they have a gold bar there you can-"

"Daniel, have you looked at the photos?"

"No, not yet. I think we'll look at them now. Jack, there's something else. I believe there's a Goa'uld here. I didn't see for myself, but I heard someone point out a woman's glowing eyes. They must be on to this-whatever it is too."

"How do they know about it?"

"I don't know. Maybe it gives off some sort of energy and they've homed in on it."

"You watch your ass, Daniel. Nothing good ever happens with those snake heads around."

"Is that Daniel, sir?"

Jack looked at the door to see Carter. "Yeah. Hold on, Daniel, Carter wants to talk to you." He handed Carter the phone and stepped aside. With one ear, he listened as Carter recounted her problem while he thought on what Daniel had told him. He knew Daniel could defend himself against a Goa'uld when on solid ground, but on open water with a civilian-well, more of a civilian than Daniel himself-he wasn't so sure. Maybe he could arrange some inter-branch backup.

"Sir, do you want to speak with Daniel some more?"

"Hunh? Oh, yeah." Jack took the phone. "Daniel, I'm gonna contact the Naval Air Station there and inform them of what you're doing. If I need to, I'll go through Hammond."

"Thanks, jack. I'm sure Jarod knows what channel to use if we need to contact them."

"Watch your back." Jack replaced the receiver. Carter was still there, watching him. "What?"

"Nothing, sir. Do you think you'll be able to get the Navy to cooperate?"

"I'll do what I have to, Carter. I don't want Daniel to die-again."

*******************************************************************************

Jarod stood at the sliding door that opened onto the deck. He watched through the glass as Daniel paced back and forth, gesturing with his left hand while he held the phone in his right. It was a habit he had seen other academics display. He had even adopted it himself a few times. He knew the call was related to the site and Daniel's reason for being here. What was it about those strange glyphs that made Daniel fly out here at the first available moment?

Daniel finished his call and put the phone back in his pocket. Jarod slid the door open. "Everything okay?"

"Hm? Oh, yeah. Jack was just a little peeved I didn't call when I first got here."

"Your Air Force buddy?"

"He thinks he's my big brother and is slightly over-protective. Who can blame him?"

"Are you going to elaborate on that?"

Daniel gave a crooked grin. "I have a tendency to attract...trouble."

**That's an interesting bit of information to add to the Not A Normal Archeologist column.** "C'mon in and I'll show you the footage I shot. Maybe you can make something of it and plan how you want to go about exploring."

They sat on the sofa as Jarod pulled up the video on his laptop. The eagerness in Daniel's eyes and the incoherent speech made him realize that there was more to this than first believed. When he thought on Daniel's theories paired with this reaction, maybe Mulder's views about aliens weren't so far off. "So, what's it mean? It's all alien gibberish to me."

For a split second, he saw that he had hit a nerve. Daniel quickly recovered. "I'm not exactly sure, but I think it could be a precursor to Phoenician, Cuneiform, and Linear B. There are similarities, anyway." He leaned forward and peered intently at the screen.

The computer beeped and informed Jarod he had mail. Hoping it wasn't something he needed to hide from his guest, he went to his mailbox. The sender's address was unfamiliar but the provider was the same as Daniel's.

"I hope you don't mind. A colleague found something she wanted me to look at."

"Sure." Jarod opened the email and was surprised to see a photo of a glyph from the same mysterious source as those from the site. "That's odd. I've never seen them before and now twice in three days."

"I didn't know what to make of it when I first saw it either."

"You know this symbol?"

"I think it represents 'power' or 'energy' depending on the context," he said as he typed and sent his reply."

Jarod looked at the new photo. "This is on one of the pillars!" he declared after a moment. "I know I've seen it." He played the video through again and slowed it down. "There," he said, stopping it.

He could sense Daniel was torn between sharing his knowledge and keeping a secret he had been sworn to. "Yes, that does look like the same symbol. I think I'll have to study it further." He removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes.

Jarod took the hint. "Why don't we call it a night? You've had a pretty long day. You can look at it some more tomorrow on the way there. You don't get seasick, do you?"

"It's a little late to be asking that, but no, I don't." He stood and headed towards the forward cabin. "Thanks again, Jarod. You don't know what this means to me."

**I'm sure I do.** "Good night, Daniel."

********************************************************************************

She followed Jackson and the other man to one boat among many and watched Jackson as he used a small communication device. She could not hear his voice but his gestures denoted a sense of urgency. That could only mean he was in contact with the one known as O'Neill. Had her presence been revealed due to a child?

It was late and she knew these Tau'ri did not like traveling in the dark; some remnant of their primitive past. She would have some time to find a means of transport to follow. She would let them do the work of retrieval then take it from them when they were vulnerable.

*****************************************************************************

Daniel awoke slowly to the aroma of 100% Columbian nectar. He hadn't slept so soundly in ages. The sea air and the rocking motion must have worked their magic on him. He pushed himself to the edge of the bunk and stood slowly, waiting until he got his sea legs. He opened the cabin door and made a beeline for the coffeemaker. It wasn't until he was pouring the coffee that he noticed they were moving. Jarod must have gotten up and underway early.

He made a visit to the head then back to his cabin to change into shorts and a tank top. With his sunglasses and coffee in hand, he went outside. A quick glance around told him they were out of sight of land. **How early did he get up?**

"I was wondering when you'd show up," he heard Jarod call down. "You must have slept well."

Daniel climbed the ladder up to the steering console. "Better than I have in a long time. What about you? What time did you get up?"

Jarod spared his watch a quick glance. "Oh, about 5:30, I think. There are some storms supposedly heading our way and I figured we'd get a good head start before they arrived."

"How far away are we from the site?"

"Jarod pointed at the nautical map folded beside him. "We're about here and this," he said indicating a red circle "is the site. I'd say close to two hours."

Daniel sipped his coffee savoring its flavor as he thought on his next question. All he had heard of Dr. Jarod Dodson led him to believe that the man was dedicated to his profession. What would make him leave that behind? Daniel had been left with no choice. "I can see why you came down here. Certainly has better weather than Boston."

"If you don't count the hurricanes."

"Have you been through one of those?"

"A few years back. I was on Bahia Grande during Cassandra."

"Were you there for research?"

"No, a different job altogether."

Daniel knew he was getting edited answers. "What made you decide to leave the museum?"

"I was beginning to feel hemmed in by the walls. I needed open spaces and the ability to make my own hours. I might go back to that life later, it all depends."

Daniel swallowed the remains of his coffee and was ready for more. He saw Jarod had a cup. "Need a refill?"

"Thanks. Oh, and there's sunscreen in the cabinet by the couch."

"Great, I don't want to look like a lobster at the end of this," Daniel smiled crookedly. "I'll be right back."

Inside, Daniel saw the laptop set up, the video waiting to be played. His hand hesitated over the keyboard. Should he take advantage to search the computer for whatever Jarod was hiding? **But I'm hiding something too. I'm not a snoop or a spy. If he wants to tell me, he'll tell me. He'd probably know anyway.**

Daniel refilled Jarod's coffee and took it back to him. "I'll look over that video and try to translate it. If you want me, call. I'll leave the door open."

"Great. I don't think I'll need you for anything though."

Daniel went back to his cabin, removed the file on Ancient script from his pack, and returned to the living room where he spread the contents on the couch for easy reference. If he could translate it before they arrived at the site, he'd know what they were heading into.

*******************************************************************************

Lyle stepped off the Centre jet into the mugginess that was Key West. Aware of what he would be walking into, he wore a lightweight white linen suit so the heat wasn't as oppressive as it could have been. He looked at the two Sweepers beside him and winced inwardly. They both wore the traditional dark suits and therefore stood out like sore thumbs.

They strode across the tarmac to the waiting car. Sam opened the back door for him while Willie walked around to the driver's seat. Lyle got comfortable. "You have the address?"

Sam patted his jacket pocket. "Got it right here."

"Good. This is the best lead we've had on Jarod in months. Mr. Raines will not be pleased if we come back empty handed."

"Yes, sir." Sam shut the door and took his place in the front passenger seat.

Willie drove across the island to the dive charter where Jarod had worked. The man inside the kiosk was lanky, longhaired, unshaven, tanned, and everything Lyle expected of a laid-back hippie with little or no ambition. His "big city" charm should work a treat. He pulled out the most current photo they had of Jarod. "I was told this man worked for you."

The man looked at the picture. "Jarod? Yeah, he does. He went out this morning on a private charter."

"When do you expect him back?"

"Don't rightly know. They could be out there for days."

**Damn! Just missed him. We could use the jet to locate him.** He looked at the man like a benevolent dictator. "Where was he headed?"

"I'm not positive. He didn't tell us much about this charter." Sam and Willie each took a menacing step forward. "Look, I don't know why you want him, but Jarod is one of our best captains. Both novice and experienced divers liked him."

"He has that effect on people." An idea came to him. "Every ship has to log their destination with the harbormaster, correct? We will simply take that bearing and find him."

Lyle turned on his heel and walked back to the car. Even if the guy did get a hold of Jarod, what would he be able to do in the middle of the ocean? **He is not going to humiliate me again!**

********************************************************************************

Mira was reading the newest information she had discovered on Brig. Gen. Jack O'Neill when there was a knock on the door. "Hey, you wanna go into town for a few drinks?" asked her brother Frank. Drinking seemed to be one of his favorite pastimes. That, and gambling.

"Sorry, I'm in the middle of something." She wheeled her chair back to block his view.

"What is it? Maybe I can help you."

"Frank, there's no need--"

He had already seen the screen. "Whaddya know, Jack made general."

"You know this guy?"

"He was in special ops and our paths crossed a few times." He peered at the monitor. "He's still at Cheyenne Mountain too. Kinda tame for him."

"What if there's something going on there? Something that would keep him there."

"Something more suited to his qualifications? It'd have to be big. How did you hear about him anyway? You heard from Jarod, didn't you?"

"He wanted me to look some things up."

Frank grinned. "Maybe we can go see him in person."

"How to you propose we get Talmadge to let us go there? Declare a field trip?"

"We did it once before. We just need to persuade Olga or Hooter to come up with some need to go to NORAD. Once there, we track down Jack on our own."

"OK, let's say we get there, what's to say your friend the general will even remember you or want to see you?"

"You forget my winning personality!"

****************************************************************************

Jarod stopped the engines and set anchor. He then stood and stretched before heading down to Daniel. As he thought, the man was deep into his research, not even realizing they had stopped. "Daniel, we're here."

"Hm?" He looked up. "This is fascinating. Some of these I've encountered before, but in context, they're different."

"OK, then let's suit up." He made an effort to help Daniel with his papers.

"That's OK, Jarod. I've got them in a certain order."

"I'll be outside when you're ready." Jarod went on deck and set up the equipment. There was something else about those symbols on the papers that Daniel didn't want him to see. If it were only the fact that they were alien in origin, it wouldn't be much of a shock since he knew Daniel's earlier theories. He said he had come across them before so that would mean there are other similar sites. But why keep those secret since he found this one? Unless it's where they're located that's the secret! When they were done exploring for the day, he'd broach the subject.

Daniel came out and blinked a few times in the sun. "It's bright."

"It happens with the sun." He stood. "Come on, I thought I'd have to hold you back at this point, not prod you."

"Sorry." He walked over to where the suits were.
Jarod was already pulling his on over his shorts. "So, have you decided on the approach?"

"Yeah." Daniel sat on one of the deck chairs and fought the suit as he pulled it on. "I was thinking we'd go up what could have been the main avenue to those two pillars with all the glyphs. From there we can examine the inner workings."

The two men finished preparing for the dive, assisting each other with the tanks. Jarod tossed the buoy over the side so anyone who came near would know they were underwater. Armed with waterproof cameras, the two divers jumped into the water.

Jarod led Daniel to the site and was sorry he couldn't see the archeologist's face. Granted, he didn't know the size of the places where Daniel had already seen these glyphs, but even so, this was quite impressive. They each took a pillar, both documenting with cameras. Daniel ran his fingertips lightly over the writings almost like a caress before they moved into the center. As they neared the raised stone platform that mimicked a triangle, Jarod felt a humming begin in his head as if he were sitting near a fluorescent bulb, soft but insistent and annoying. Jarod saw a strange glow coming from a spot near the base of the pedestal. It couldn't be light reflecting as they were too deep. It must be phosphorous of some sort. His curiosity aroused, Jarod swam closer.
The light seemed to be coming from beneath the dais; a delicate metal tracing like leaded stained glass covering it. As if under some outside compulsion, Jarod reached out his right hand regardless of any possible hazards. He pressed the area about the glow and the whole area within the pillars began to glow, coming back to life. Stunned, Jarod could only stare as he tread water.

Daniel came over quickly and gestured from Jarod to the pedestal. Jarod interpreted "What did you do?" He repeated the gesture for Daniel and everything shut down. Excited, Daniel had him do it again, catching it on camera this time.

Jarod couldn't help but grin at his enthusiasm. **Now if we could only discover what this was all for.** As if in answer to his thoughts, a panel at the base of the pedestal opened. Jarod peered in and saw a large pulsating cylinder. He reached in slowly and the cylinder slid outward and into his reach. Not questioning why or how, Jarod removed it and placed it in his zippered pouch. With its removal, everything shut down.

Daniel pointed up and they slowly rose, breaking the surface, port and aft of the boat. Jarod swam to the ship and pulled himself onto the aft platform then helped Daniel. Removing his mouthpiece and mask, he asked Daniel, "What the hell happened?"

Before the archeologist could answer, a deep reverberating voice spoke. "You have awakened the power of the Ancients for which I thank you."

********************************************************************************

She looked down at the two Tau'ri sitting on the small platform, clad in suits for underwater exploration. She was pleased to find the ship unguarded when she pulled alongside in her "borrowed" boat. Not long after her arrival, she felt the increase of power. They had found the key to the Ancients' site! She would take the apparatus from them and learn its secret before she killed them.

She raised her right hand, her ribbon device glowing with power. "Dr. Jackson, climb the ladder and join me on the deck." She aimed the device at the second man. "Do not disobey or I shall use this on your comrade." Jackson stood, tossed his fins onto the deck, and then climbed the ladder. Once he was on the deck, she motioned him to stand in the corner. She then trained the device on Jackson, using the same threat on the other man. After a slight hesitation, he joined Jackson.

"I want you to give me the device you removed from the Ancients' site," she demanded.

The other man looked at Jackson. "Daniel, what is going on?"

Could it be this human knew nothing of the Goa'uld and Ancients? Surely, they did not keep the existence of other worlds secret? She allowed Jackson to answer, amused at his situation.

"She is a Goa'uld, an alien parasite inhabiting a human body. They visited Earth before, masquerading as gods from different cultures, enslaving humanity."

"Supporting your theories but you can't tell anyone."

His easy acceptance surprised her based on what she had learned during her time here. Most Tau'ri scoffed at the idea of alien life, intelligent or otherwise. Yet, they had mastered the Stargate and killed many major System Lords. To halt their advance, she needed the device. She aimed her ribbon device at the second man. "Dr. Jackson, I know you have faced this many times before, but your friend has not. Give me the device or I shall use this on him!"

"You know me, but I don't know you. You might just use it on him anyway."

"I am Agrona." She waited for recognition.

"Nope, doesn't ring a bell. Must be a minor deity."

She held her temper, not wanting to destroy either of them before retrieving the Ancients' mechanism. "Now where is the device?" She could feel the tendrils reaching out from her hand towards the man's head. "Tell me now!"

She could tell that Jackson was ready to break and tell her. He would never allow a friend to be harmed. A slow satisfied smile spread across her face. She would be able to return successful to Ba'al.

At that moment, both men disappeared in a beam of light. The Asgard had once again stepped in to save Earth! She let out a growl of frustration. She had one more thing to do before heading back to her ship. She would not return to Ba'al without something to show for all this time on Earth.

*******************************************************************************

On the Centre jet, Lyle used binoculars to try to spot Jarod's boat. He was in contact with Willie and Sam who had taken a speedboat in order to take Jarod the moment he was spotted. Lyle had a description from the harbormaster and the name. The man had nerve, that was for sure. No luck so far. They were in the right direction, just not out far enough.

"Not much longer before we have to head back, Mr. Lyle," said the pilot. "I didn't have time to finish refueling."

Lyle ignored the not so subtle placement of blame. "How much longer?"

"About fifteen minutes."

"I think we'll need every one." He scanned to the right. **Hold on a second.** He ran the description through his head. The ship was definitely Jarod's. "Willie, Sam, I've spotted him." He relayed the coordinates. "Approach with care. We don't want him seeing you too soon."

"Yes, Mr. Lyle," came Willie's voice. "We have a visual--"

The explosion buffeted the jet and the pilot swerved to avoid the cloud of flame that expanded into the air. Stunned, Lyle lowered the binoculars. There was no way anyone could have survived the blast, even Jarod. There wasn't another ship or land for miles. "Search for any sign of Jarod! We need to know one way or the other!" **I will not accept a maybe!**

*******************************************************************************

After facing down Agrona, Daniel then found himself in Jack's office. Jarod was there too. **Thank you, Thor!** "Jarod, you okay?"

"A little disoriented, but physically fine. You've been holding back."

"Usually, I can't get him to shut up."

Daniel turned to the door to see Jack entering his office. "Hey, Jack."

Jack stopped and faced Jarod. "Bet you're regretting contacting him."

"Actually, no. It's been most...enlightening. I met my first alien today."

"Daniel?"

"She was waiting for us when we returned to the ship. She called herself Agrona."

"And who's she when she's home?"

"The British goddess of slaughter," Jarod supplied.

Daniel looked at him. The man was full of surprises. Not many people would know an obscure British deity without looking it up. "She knew me, Jack. It was very disconcerting."

"We are rather infamous in some circles, Daniel. My question is, how did she get here? We know it can't have been through the Gate and no ships have been reported."

"Excuse me, but could she have arrived during the fight over Antarctica?"

Daniel almost choked. **How could he know about that?**

Jack tried denial. "'Fight over Antarctica?' What are you talking about?"

Jarod relayed what had happened months ago, not the story given to the public, but the real story. Finished, he looked at Jack, waiting for a reply.

"Daniel, help Jarod find a change of clothes and then you can both tell me what happened."

Daniel smiled. "Thanks, Jack."

"Yes, thank you, general." Jarod reached out his hand.

Jack shook it. "You know too much already to make up some story."

Daniel ushered Jarod out into the hall. Two men dressed in scuba gear underneath a mountain drew some curious stares, but Daniel merely smiled and it was accepted as one of the many strange things that occurred at the SGC.

"Daniel, where are we? I don't even remember how we got here."

"Um, let's just say you had another close encounter. The Asgard are a benevolent race sworn to protecting other races against the Goa'uld. We help them out too."

"And they transported us from the Caribbean to Colorado?"

"You've been doing research. Yes, we're in Colorado." He stopped outside the guest quarters. "It's not much, I know, but there should be some fatigues or a flight suit in the closet. I'll come back and get you once I've changed out of this."

Jarod nodded as he walked slowly into the room, looking around. "Thanks, Daniel, for trusting me."

"No problem, Jarod. As Jack said, you've already seen more than most. If you're done before I get back, you might just want to sit and gather your thoughts. The briefing just might be a little overwhelming."

Daniel left Jarod and headed to the locker room where he quickly changed out of the wet suit and into his base fatigues. On the way back to get Jarod, he made a quick stop at his office and was happy to see his duffle and Jarod's things from the boat. He pulled out the file on the Ancients' script and put it next to his camera. He also picked up Jarod's laptop. On the way, he worked over in his head how he would explain to Jarod exactly what he had walked into.

He knocked on the door to Jarod's temporary room. "Jarod, you ready?" The door opened and Jarod stepped out wearing a flight suit. Somehow, it seemed to fit him as if he had worn one before.

"I think so."

Right." They walked through the halls on the way to the briefing room. "I guess I should fill you in on what's been going on. It started in Giza in the 1920s..."

*****************************************************************************

Teal'c climbed the stairs to the briefing room. O'Neill had called the meeting due to the surprise return of Daniel Jackson with a civilian, a man who knew more than he should. He was taken aback that O'Neill was allowing this man to see within the SGC without escort. He must believe him to be a potential ally.

Col. Carter was already there, the exhausted ZPM resting on the table in front of her. Was there a connection between what she had been working on and Daniel Jackson's trip?

O'Neill walked out from his office. "The boys not here yet? Leave it to two academics to be late."

"So now they're off in Atlantis without an immediate way home," Daniel Jackson was saying as they two men entered the briefing room.

Teal'c took time to observe the man while he was still at ease. He was tall, near six-foot with dark hair and brown eyes, a small mole under his right eye. Being faced by two officers, he immediately straightened, coming to attention as if he had served in the military before. He was not all he appeared to be even though he was not Goa'uld.

"Daniel, make the introductions and then we can get started."

"You've already met Jack. This is Col. Samantha Carter, a Theoretical Astrophysicist and a top-notch soldier. This fellow over here is Teal'c, a Jaffa, one-time First Prime of the false god Apophis, and great friend."

"Thank you, Daniel Jackson."

"Guys, this is Dr. Jarod Dodson, a friend from online. He found an underwater site off Florida that had Ancient script all over it." He sat and the visitor followed suit.

"Did you get a chance to translate any of it?" questioned Col. Carter.

"Only some of the pictures that Jarod had recorded earlier. It's only partial, of course. I won't be able to get the full meaning until I complete the translation."

"I will gladly go with you to this place to guard against intruders," Teal'c volunteered.

"I don't think that will be necessary, at least not yet." He handed Jarod Dodson the camera and laptop. The man hooked them up and nodded that all was ready. "You see, we found something at the site."

On the screen, Teal'c watched as one of the men in underwater suits reached out his hand over a glowing surface, causing other machinery to come to life. "Jarod Dodson carries the Ancient gene."

********************************************************************************

**Whoa! Wait just a second here! On top of having the Pretender gene, he now had this Ancient gene?** Daniel had told him of the Ancients, the race that built the Stargate, and how they had all this advanced technology that no one knew how to use. It could only be activated by those who had this gene. And apparently, he was one of those.

O'Neill pulled the laptop closer to him and played it again. "Looks like the real deal to me. Carter?"

The colonel looked at the playback once more. "He activated it just like you did on Proklarush Taonas."

"I thought you said you brought something back from the site, Daniel."

"Oh, right. Jarod, you want to take that out?"

Jarod put the zippered pouch on the table and opened it, revealing the Ancient gadget. The moment he touched it to lift it from the bag, it began to glow once more. It felt strange and somewhat familiar at the same time. But why? Maybe this gene provided some sort of link to their technology, limiting those who could use it.

"Oh, my God," exclaimed Col. Carter. "A working ZPM! We'll need to run tests on it." She reached out her hand and Jarod pushed it in her direction. She lifted it gingerly and gazed at it in wonder.

"Do we have anyone on had to run the tests now that Beckett's gone?" O'Neill asked.

"There should be," said Daniel. "Jarod seems to be like that pilot--"

"Sheppard," supplied O'Neill.

"A natural. He does it without even trying."

Jarod sat there taking it all in. Could his Pretender gene and this Ancient gene be one and the same? Maybe the presence of one increases the potential of the other. He would have to tell them. They'd find out doing the test anyway.

"There is something I have to tell you," he said to no one in particular.

The others seemed to remember he was there. "Sorry, Jarod," Daniel apologized. "We were talking about you like you weren't there. What is it?"

He took a deep breath. "I already have a genetic anomaly. It gives whoever possesses it the ability to become whatever they want to be."

"What?" O'Neill scoffed.

"I read a few books on a subject and then I can do it. I've been a cardiologist, an FBI agent, a US Marshall, psychologist, dentist--"

"We get the idea," O'Neill stopped him.

"That's why you were in Key West," put in Daniel. "You weren't on sabbatical at all."

"No, I wasn't."

"But how did you learn of this? Why do you do it?" Carter asked.

"I was taken from my family as a boy and taken to an organization known as the Centre. They told me my parents died in a plane crash and that I would live there. They honed my talent and used it for what I thought to be beneficial purposes. It wasn't until years later that I learned they had twisted my simulations to their own purposes, killing God only knows how many innocents.

"I escaped and began to use my gift for more positive purposes in order to make up for the past. I'm also trying to reunite with my family while staying ahead of the Centre who want to take me back." Finished with his narration, Jarod poured himself a cup of water from the carafe on the table and drank deep.

"Wow," commented Daniel. "That's some story. No wonder you started up interesting discussions."

"When you're doing these..."

"Pretends."

"Pretends, didn't anyone catch on?" questioned Carter.

Jarod thought back. "Not that I can recall."

"Let's get that test done anyway." O'Neill brought things back on track. "Daniel, you want to take him to the infirmary?"

"Sure thing, Jack. C'mon, Jarod."

Jarod stood and followed his new friend out of the briefing room. **What have I gotten into?**

****************************************************************************

I guess that's it for now, people, until we get Jarod's test results."

"You're going to let him stay, sir?" asked Carter.

"With what he knows and what he can do, it's the best thing."

"If he does possess the Ancient gene in addition to his other abilities, he would be a great asset for the Goa'uld. We cannot let him leave."

"If that's the case, we'd be no better than those people who took him as a child," Carter argued.

"It wouldn't be forever, Carter. We just have to keep him confined to base until we learn a few more things."

"Yes, sir."

The phone rang and Jack picked up the receiver. "O'Neill."

"Sir, there are two people here who wish to see you."

Jack groaned. **Just what I need.** "You can't pawn them off on someone else?"

"No, sir, they asked for you by name. They are with the NSA."

**NSA? What the hell do they want?** "Did they tell you what they want with me?"

"No, sir. Only that they needed to speak with you."

Jack sighed. "Very well. I'll meet them on level 19."

"Very good, sir. I'll have them escorted down."

Jack replaced the receiver and stood. "I have to go meet some visitors from the NSA," he told Carter and Teal'c. "I have to find our what it was that brought them here."

"Would you like me to accompany you, sir?"

"I don't think that's necessary, Carter. I think I'll be able to handle two agents. Carry on, you two."

Jack headed for the elevator and was surprised when the doors slid open to reveal Daniel and Jarod. "That was quick. Doc get everything she needed?"

"A blood sample and a swab from the inside of my cheek," Jarod answered. "She was very efficient."

"She has to be considering what we deal with." He stepped into the elevator and pressed the button for level 19.

"What's goin' on, Jack? You don't go up to that level unless you're on the way out."

The doors slid closed and the two stayed. Jack knew it was a waste to argue with Daniel so let them come along. It might benefit his story if he had two scientists with him instead of airmen or officers. "There are two NSA agents who specifically asked for me so I thought I'd meet them up on level 19. It would be hard for them to try anything."

Jarod seemed a little stunned by the news. "NSA?"

"They're not after you, are they?" questioned Daniel.

"Oh, no. If they're who I think they are, quite the opposite."

"If you do know them, remember, not a word about what you've seen today," Jack warned. The man saluted smartly and properly, supporting his story.

The doors slid open and the three men strode through the halls until they came to a room set aside for visitors. The airmen standing guard saluted before moving aside. Jack opened the door expecting to see two men in cheap suits but instead saw a stunning brunette dressed in casual pants and top along with a scruffy man in jeans and a leather jacket. There was something about the man that nagged at his brain. **Why does he seem familiar?** He entered the room. "I'm Gen. O'Neill. I believe you were looking for me."

The man stood and walked over. "When I heard the infamous Jack O'Neill got promoted to general, I had to come see for myself."

Daniel and Jarod entered the room behind Jack. "Frank! Miss Parker! What are you doing here?" Jarod came forward and shook them both by the hand.

"I'm just following my line of research," the woman, Miss Parker, answered. "Frank then stuck his nose in and got us here." She stood and walked gracefully to Jack. "As they have been sadly neglected, allow me to make introductions. I'm Mira Parker and this is my brother Frank."

"I was told you were with the NSA." Jack was not going to let the fact that they were friends of Jarod change his approach to their presence on the base.

"We are, but we're not here on NSA business," said Frank.

"I believe that's my fault," put in Jarod. "I was a little curious and asked Miss Parker to check up on you."

"I never said Jack's name," said Daniel.

"You did, on the phone. I pieced that together with the recent promotion, location, and Air Force then asked Miss Parker to look you up on her computer. I didn't think you'd come here."

"I wasn't planning to, but Frank said he knew the general."

"And I do. I just don't know why Jack doesn't remember me. I'm told I make a strong first impression."

He stared at Jack, making him uncomfortable. **He says he knows me, but do I know him?**

"Probably not a good one," his sister commented. She looked at Daniel with great interest. "I made introductions, Jarod. I think it's time you return the favor."

Jack could have laughed at the face Jarod made. "As you may have guessed, Miss Parker, this is Dr. Daniel Jackson, the friend I told you about."

**Frank Parker. Frank Parker. Damn! I know that name.** Jack watched the man in question as he drummed his fingers on the table. **Annoying habit. I was ready to kill a guy doing that in--** "Bosnia."

Frank grinned. "I knew you'd remember, Jack."

"Last I heard, you were in the loony bin."

"Always one for tact weren't you? The NSA sprung me. The needed a man of my talents."

"That desperate, were they?" Jack sat at the head of the table and everyone else joined him. "So, why are you here?"

"It's as Mira said. Jarod called asking for help. Mira had your info and I said I knew you and here we are."

"And how did you get here?"

"We had a friend at...our base say they needed to come to NORAD and we hitched a ride."

"So no one knows you're down here."

Mira smiled coldly. "They don't know we're here on this level, but we will be missed if we don't show up later."

"Miss Parker, I don't think that's the reason Gen. O'Neill asked the question." Jarod looked at him. "Right?"

"'Course not. With all that goes on here, we have to be careful."

"Understood," remarked Frank and Jack felt that the man could relate.

Daniel coughed discreetly. "So, uh, Jarod is the only reason you're here, nothing else?"

"I've known him practically all my life," Mira Parker replied. "We've been through a lot together and I felt I could help him."

A loud alarm began blaring throughout the complex. "Oh, for cryin' out loud! Now what?"

*****************************************************************************

Upon returning to the shore, Agrona headed for her temporary base of operations: the third floor of a dining establishment. Despite all the protestations of advancement, humans were still superstitious, believing the spirits of the dead still walk among the living. She took advantage of one such legend, keeping people away from the rooms she had taken over.

She had to make contact with Ba'al and give a status report regarding her mission. She had failed. SG-1 had the device and the Asgard were in the area. She activated the visual long-range communication device and the stern visage of her lord appeared. She bowed her head in proper obeisance.

"Agrona. What have you to report?"

"I located the site of the Ancients, my lord. Unfortunately, SG-1 had already learned of it, removing the power source. I confronted them and was about to take it when the Asgard interfered, transporting them away to safety."

Ba'al growled in anger and frustration. "I dare not approach further due to the presence of Thor's ship above Earth. Most likely he returned them to the SGC. They may have the device but do not know its use."

"My lord, there was an increase in power before Jackson and another man surfaced. I believe this other man may have an affinity for Ancient technology."

Ba'al thought on her words. "I cannot let what befell Anubis at the hands of SG-1 happen to me. You must retrieve the device and the man. I shall send you the coordinates of SG-1's base. You will need to find your own way as I cannot risk discovery by helping you any further."

"Yes, my lord." Agrona memorized the coordinates that scrolled across the sphere before communication was shut down. She was expecting more of a tirade but his acceptance of what had happened and ordering her to continue made her realize how important this mission was. She had to find a way to get to this base. Judging by the coordinates, it was some distance. She would need one of their primitive flying machines-an airplane-to make the trip in a short time. Her next step decided, she gathered all she brought with her and headed down the steps. Once outside she blended with gawking tourists and walked towards the east.

At the airport, she watched the arrivals and departures from the edge of the tarmac deciding on which style of conveyance would best suit her purpose. Not too long after her arrival, a sleek jet landed, and, because only one uniformed man disembarked-most likely part of the crew--she knew it was privately owned and easier to commandeer. She strode to the jet, ignoring the calls and yells of the workers about her. She climbed the steps and confronted the sole occupant, her hand device glowing. "You will take me to my destination and maybe I shall spare your worthless life!"

The man in the cushioned seat was dressed far better than those she had seen on the island. She saw a moment of fear in his eyes that soon disappeared. She could sense he was acting differently than other humans she had used; they quaked, cowered, pleaded, or defied. No, this one schemed, trying to find out to use this to *his* advantage. **This one will bear watching.**

"We do need to refuel, but I'm sure we can make some sort of arrangement. Please, sit down. Would you like some refreshment?"

**Even though this one does not treat me as a god, he treats me at least as one to be honored.** She lowered her hand. "Refreshment would be most welcome."

He gave her a crooked smile before standing and walking to a cabinet where a varied collection of drinks was lined. He poured her a glass of some amber liquid and she could smell the alcohol so loved by these humans. "Here you are..."

"I am Agrona, that is all you need know." She accepted the proffered glass.

He resumed his seat across from her. "I am Mr. Lyle."

****************************************************************************

At the sound of the alarm, Frank was on alert, waiting to see what the others would do as this wasn't his neighborhood. It had to be something major because nothing else would keep the Jack O'Neill he knew playing nursemaid to a bunch of scientists. Speaking of which, why was a doctor wearing fatigues? Jack and the doctor rushed out the door, and, after a slight hesitation, Jarod followed.

Frank jumped up and nudged his sister. "C'mon, let's go!"

With a groan of impatience, she joined him. "What are we doing?" she hissed as they raced down the corridor.

"Trying to catch up with them so we're not left out of the action."

"Frank, this is a high-security installment. There's no way we'll be able to sneak in."

"We won't be sneaking. We'll be riding down the elevator with the commanding officer."

"Great, so we'll be worming our way in," he heard her grumble.

Frank spotted the three men waiting at the elevator. **If they're taking the time to wait for an elevator, stairs must not go where they need to.** "Third floor, ladies' lingerie."

"What the hell are you doing here, Parker?" Jack demanded.

"When alarms go off in a high security facility, I worry. You know me, Jack. I can help you here and so can Mira."

The elevator arrived and the doors slid open. Jack went inside and Frank stuck to him like a barnacle. The others had no choice but to slip inside. "Parker, this is a top secret facility with highly limited knowledge of its existence outside these walls. I'd have to go through channels and--"

"Um, Jack, that argument won't work," put in the doctor, Jackson. "You've let Jarod walk about freely."

"Yeah, well, that's because he can--"

Jarod interrupted. "Jack, Frank and Miss Parker work for another top secret government facility that I think is even more secret than yours. I would say their clearance should be high enough to be granted access."

"Jarod, what are you doing?" Frank knew the pretender was up to something, he wish he just knew what.

"And you're supposed to be a genius. Christ, Jarod, you could be shot for this."

"Miss Parker, if you know each others' secrets that adds a matter of trust. You've all saved the world numbers of times but can't share with anyone out there. You can't tell on them without the fear of them retaliating by telling on you."

Frank caught on to what Jarod was doing. It was the same premise that had so far prevented nuclear strikes. "We use technology retrieved from the Roswell to travel back in time seven days to avert major disasters." Frank stared at Jack, waiting for reciprocation.

"Fine," Jack growled. "We have an ancient alien device that allows us to travel through wormholes to different planets."

**Whoa, no wonder they kept that secret.**

The doors slid open. "Jarod, take them up to the briefing room. You'll get a view from up there." Jack and Daniel left.

"I'm impressed," said Mira as they walked the corridors. "The base commander knows what you are and still lets you walk around unescorted."

"I think it's because of getting caught up in something they can't explain away. I also had Daniel to vouch for me."

"So, what is the deal here?" Frank asked him. "There's got to be more to this than just traveling to other planets."

"Daniel gave me the basics," Jarod started as they arrived in the briefing room. "There was a race that was here eons ago that they refer to as the Ancients. Now, the Ancients built that." Jarod motioned out the large window that filled almost all the opposite wall.

Frank walked up to the window and looked out at a huge ring about nine or ten feet high with what he guessed to be alien writing around the outside. The middle was covered with a giant shutter that probably opened and closed for them to travel. There was a strange glow coming from behind it. "What is that?"

"It's called a Stargate and the Ancients had a network of these all over the galaxy. After the Ancients disappeared, another race discovered the Stargates and used them to their own purposes. They came to Earth periodically and used human beings as slaves, transporting them to other worlds."

"How did they get the people to leave?" questioned Mira.

"They would also masquerade and the culture's main gods and force them."

"These aliens look like us?"

"No. The aliens themselves are snake-like parasites that inhabit human bodies. There are basically two ways to be sure someone is 'possessed': the eyes glow and their voice takes on a deeper timbre."

Still looking out the window, the visitors noticed a strange shimmering just in front of the ring-Stargate. It formed into a body, through transparent. It had to be a hologram. "Son of a *bitch!*" brother and sister exclaimed.

********************************************************************************

Sam looked up as Jack and Daniel strode into the room. "We have an unscheduled wormhole, sir. There's been no communication, no attempt at contact, nothing. They must be keeping it open for a purpose. We just haven't figured it out yet." She looked past them. "Where's Jarod?"

"Upstairs with the NSA agents," Jack answered, distracted.

"What? You let them see the Gate?"

"Is there anyway to trace where this is coming from?"

Sam accepted the fact that he ignored her question. "We can't seem to get a lock on it. We just--"

At that moment, a hologram formed on the ramp in front of the gate. "I have been waiting for your arrival, O'Neill. Now we may start negotiations."

"Negotiations? Ba'al, what have we to negotiate?"

"You have something I want, O'Neill. As for what you get in return, that we can discuss."

*******************************************************************************

Lyle watched Agrona upon landing in Colorado Springs. All she had told him was that two men had stolen something from her and this is where they would find it. He had always considered himself a practical man not given to fantasy, but from what he had witnessed there was no denying that she was an alien. Her speech and haughty demeanor suggested that she was used to the best; a princess, perhaps. He also knew that she was just using him to cross the country, but there had to be some way he could benefit from this as well.

Willie and Sam hadn't known what to make of her when they boarded. They each pulled out their guns and aimed at her, causing her eyes to glow brightly. "Lower your weapons, boys," he told them. "She could kill you both in the blink of an eye." The Sweepers did so and warily took seats at the back of the jet.

"Your slaves do you justice," she said. "Willing to risk their lives for you and obeying your commands without hesitation. You may serve some further purpose."

"Thank you, I think."

She said nothing further during the trip, not even moving from her seat. The moment the jet came to a halt, she rose majestically. "Come now. We must now enter the secret base."

**Secret base? What secret base?** "How will the four of us get into this secret base unseen?"

"We will be seen, but by then it will be too late for them to do anything."

**She's mad!** "How do you know so much about this base?" Lyle asked as they walked to the waiting car. "How many ways in are there? How well is it guarded?"

She turned to glare at him. "This group has been a plague against the Goa'uld for many of your years. We have had many infiltrate the base and have thus learned where to go. Also, my lord Ba'al has created a distraction."

"Oh, great." Lyle and Agrona climbed into the back of the car as Willie and Sam took their seats in the front.

Agrona directed them into the mountains to where a fire road joined with the main route. "We will walk from here."

Lyle looked down at his $100 loafers. **I wonder if I can get another pair as part of the deal.**

Willie led the way following Agrona's instructions while Sam took up the rear. After ten minutes of hiking, Willie stopped, pointing out a cement block topped with a metal lid hidden behind some bushes. The two Sweepers made to open it but Agrona held them back. She then aimed that weird hand device at it and a bolt of energy shot from it. The lid was untouched.

"That didn't work. It's still closed."

"Such was not my intent. It is now safe to open. Their primitive sensors can no longer track our approach." She motioned with her hand and Willie and Sam scrambled to remove the lid quickly before she angered and used that device on them.

"So, where do we go once inside?" Lyle asked in an attempt at politeness.

"I will direct you once we reach Level 27. Once there we will need stealth. After we have recovered the items, you will need to be in close proximity to me or you will be left behind."

"Willie, Sam, go first." Lyle stood and watched as the two climbed down the ladder covered by the block. Being unarmed, Lyle wanted to go last so that the others could take care of all the fighting. He waited for Agrona to follow the others but she waited imperiously for him. **She definitely acts like royalty. I'd love to see her and Parker go at it.** Resigned to his fate, Lyle began the long climb down.

*****************************************************************************

Once Ba'al's image faded and the wormhole closed, Jack turned and looked at them. "OK, what does that snakehead have that we want? He knows I won't fall for that same trick again."

"As Ba'al initiated this, I'm more curious as to what we have," said Sam.

"The ZPM," Daniel declared. "Agrona must have contacted him about it."

"Who's Agrona?" Sam questioned.

"A Goa'uld Jarod and I met in Key West."

"Still, what could Ba'al have that we need? All teams have reported in."

"Unless it is something he does not yet have," Teal'c intoned.

"His appearance could be a ploy, a distraction. While we're concentrating on him, someone sneaks in and takes it." Daniel ran out of the Gateroom and headed up to the briefing room.

"What the hell was that all about?" the agent Parker demanded.

"A hologram of a very nasty alien," he answered, taking the ZPM from the table.

"If he's only a hologram, why are you so worried? Nothing can come through that thing unless you open that...other thing."

"Because we believe it's only a distraction. Someone is on the way here to steal this." He held up the device. "Unless they're already here." He slipped it into the satchel resting next to it and slung it over his back.

"You can't think one of us is one of those aliens!" the sister stated.

"No, I know you're not. It's someone else."

"Agrona," said Jarod.

Daniel nodded. "Yeah. I need to get this thing locked away." He headed for the door.

"Hold on a second," said Parker. "With all the security you've got in this place, how can anyone get it?"

Daniel sighed in exasperation. "She's an alien. I know of one Goa'uld who used technology to beam herself down to Earth from a ship in orbit. She could appear anywhere in this facility."

"Kinda like Star Trek?"

"Similar idea, yes."

"You said she had to beam down from a ship, right?" Jarod asked. "How close does this ship have to be? Would it be picked up by satellite or radar?"

"I'm not sure how close, but Thor would be able to pick it up if it were, and he hasn't said anything."

"So how would she get here from Florida?"

A series of gunshots sounded from the hallway. "It doesn't matter how. What matters is she's here," commented Mira Parker.

"We have to get you guys out of here." Daniel pushed them towards the stairs that led to the control room. "Maybe we can get you to the Alpha site."

"Give us weapons," argued Jarod. "We're all perfectly capable of helping you defend this place."

Daniel knew this to be true. "Right. We'll get you some weapons." He led them to the armory where they found some P90s. The three newcomers handled the guns like pros. "C'mon, this way."

They rushed down the hall to assist in the defense of the base. Daniel spotted Teal'c and some airmen near one of the closed bulkhead doors. "What's the situation?"

"We believe there to be one Goa'uld in a female host along with three human males. They came in through an air shaft."

"That answers the question as to how," commented Jarod.

"But who would help an alien break into a high security base?" asked Frank. "He'd certainly have to be a twisted son of a bitch."

A blast was heard from the other side of the door followed by a crackling sound. "They've blown out the security lock," said Mira.

To prove her right, the metal door slid open. The gunmen aimed their weapons at the widening gap. Agrona fired her ribbon device sending airmen across the hall. She spotted Daniel. "A pleasure to see you again, Dr. Jackson."

"Sorry, I can't say the same." Over her shoulder, Daniel saw three men in suits. It was the one in the white that drew his attention. There was something about him that just screamed opportunistic toady. He had to be the one who brought her here.

Agrona motioned the two other men forward. "Take him." She pointed at Jarod.

The men moved forward, smiling. "It's good to see you again, Jarod," said the bulkier of the two in a gruff voice.

**God, these have to be the people chasing him! But why does Agrona want him? Does she know he can operate Ancient technology?**

"Surrender yourself, human. I won't hesitate to use this on your friends." Daniel once more found a ribbon device aimed at his face. "And you, Shol'va, drop your staff weapon."

The Parkers chose this moment to make themselves known. "Let him go." Her voice was filled with venom.

"Miss Parker?" The gruff voice was stunned.

The third man walked up to them. "Why am I not surprised? Wherever Jarod is, you're not far behind. Oh, and little brother Frankie."

"Take him!" Agrona demanded a second time.

"You aren't taking anyone, lady," came a familiar voice from down the hall.

Daniel was whirled around as Agrona pulled him in front of her as a shield, her ribbon device still at his head. "Jack."

"Daniel, nice to see you have new friends. Think you should stick with the old ones."

"Me too."

"So, you are O'Neill." Daniel could tell by her voice she was not the least bit impressed. "You will be hearing from my lord Ba'al."

With her free hand, she activated a second device and a fraction of a second later, Daniel found himself standing at the business end of several Jaffa staff weapons.

********************************************************************************

After the glittering light cleared, only one man stood there. Mira glared at him. "Sam, what's going on?"

He slowly walked over to her, ignoring the weapons aimed at him. "You're all right. After you left, no one was allowed to even breathe your name."

"You know this guy?" O'Neill asked.

"He used to work with me. Now he obviously works for Lyle."

"Only because of my time with you chasing after Jarod."

"And who is Lyle?"

"I would determine that he was the man in the light suit," put in Teal'c. "The one who knew Miss Parker."

"And also my twin."

"Your what?" O'Neill was incredulous.

"Believe me, it's a claim I don't make often."

"How did Lyle hook up with her?" asked Frank as they started to move down the hall back to the briefing room.

"She forced her way onto the jet while we were in Key West and demanded to be brought here. Lyle agreed. I think he wants to use his association with this woman to overthrow Raines."

"Agrona will be the one to use him. When he is no longer useful, she will destroy him."

Mira knew that he was speaking from first-hand knowledge. Even though she despised the Nine-Fingered Cannibal, that was not how she wanted him to go. She wanted something long and drawn out where he would suffer-hopefully something involving poetic justice. "We have to find a way to get them both back," she declared.

"Since we don't know where they are, we have to wait until Ba'al contacts us to make the trade." O'Neill sounded so sure of himself.

"I wouldn't hold my breath," she said, breaking his bubble. "That device they were here to take? Daniel had it."

********************************************************************************

Sam parted from the general and headed to the security office to view footage of the infiltrators to see what she could learn about them. The woman was definitely the Goa'uld Daniel had mentioned. The men weren't under her thrall; one seemed to be in charge of the other two and was probably following her based on false promises.

She switched cameras to see the confrontation in the corridor. It appeared that the newcomers knew Jarod and the others. This was too much coincidence.

The Goa'uld, Agrona, then keyed a sequence on a wrist device and four of them disappeared, most likely to a ship Ba'al had been keeping just out of radar range. Even if they could get the coordinates, the ship would no longer be there. She thanked the tech before heading down to the briefing room.

The others were just taking their seats. "Carter, did you come up with anything?"

"Nothing concrete, sir. It was obviously Asgard technology she used. Ba'al must have acquired it when he took over from Anubis."

"That's all we need; another alien race popping in and out of here," O'Neill complained.

As if summoned, Thor appeared at the foot of the table. "Greetings."
The male NSA agent jumped in his seat. At first, Sam thought it was just due to the suddenness of the arrival, but the look on his face made her realize there was more to it. "It's all right," she explained. "Thor is one of the Asgard, our allies."

"Thor, ol' buddy, let me introduce our new friends. Mira Parker, her brother Frank, and Sam."

Thor nodded in their direction before continuing. "Ba'al's ship left too fast for us to determine the reason for his presence."

"We know why he was here," the general stated. "Kidnapping."

"I don't think that was part of the original plan, sir. I think Agrona was here mainly for the ZPM and just took advantage of the situation." She turned to Thor to clarify. "She took the ZPM, Daniel, and Jarod so now they know how to use the device along with someone with the capabilities to activate it."

"That is most distressing. With such an item in his possession, Ba'al could wreak untold havoc."

"Gee, ya think?"

"We need to formulate a rescue, not only to get the ZPM away from Ba'al, but to also rescue our friends." She realized she had named Jarod as a friend. Perhaps it was because of his easy acceptance of all that had happened to him, she wasn't sure.

"How are we going to do that when we don't know where they are?" asked Frank Parker.

******************************************************************************

Jarod tried to keep track of the turnings as he and Daniel were led through identical corridors. **My God, this is an alien spaceship!** He itched to get a chance to study it further. The guards-Jaffa, Daniel called them-shoved them into a bare room with no windows. The Jaffa locked the door behind them. Not a word was said, but Jarod knew they weren't necessary.

Daniel sat cross-legged on the floor, accepting their plight. "Nothing's going to happen for awhile. Ba'al will want us to sit and stew, wondering when the interrogations will begin. Besides, he has a new toy to play with."

"You had no idea the way was blocked. You were trying to get it to safety."

"I walked right into them. I might as well have gift-wrapped it."

"It was because of me. She knew we're friends and used it against us like she tried to in Florida." He joined him on the floor. "So you can read this language?"

Jarod could tell Daniel was working on an answer. **Why hide anything else from me after seeing all this?** "I guess I'm the only one around with some sort of working knowledge of it. I've been piecing it together for a few years now. It bears a resemblance to Latin, actually."

"You'll just have to delay," he told Daniel. "Academics are good at that"

"If I were a Goa'uld tech, he just might believe me. Being human, he won't trust me at all."

"Say that if handled wrong, it could destroy the ship. Or maybe tell him it's part of a set. I don't know. We just need to buy time for the others."

Jarod knew that most squads were tightly bonded and would do anything for a member, especially a captured one. He also felt that he had somehow been accepted; originally, because of his friendship with Daniel but now it was because of what he had witnessed and his strange capability. They couldn't give in. If worse came to worse, they would have to do something drastic.

********************************************************************************

Frank couldn't help but cast sideway glances at Thor. He was so similar to Adam, it was eerie. His head was longer and leaner compared to Adam's rounder, squatter head. Maybe they were related in some way.

He looked out the large window at the retreating Earth. It was strange standing here on an alien ship going off to fight other aliens, yet it felt normal. Maybe it was because of SG1 and how they treated it. Frank couldn't hold back the smile of seeing his sister in fatigues. The guns, however, he was used to.

"Frank, what is it?" asked Carter. "Something wrong?"

"No. It's just that back at NNL are the bodies of the Roswell Greys. A while back, one of them revived and nearly killed me."

"The Asgard *aren't* the Roswell aliens?" Frank shook his head. "We always assumed they were."

"I don't want to fuss, but how are the five of us going to rescue them? This Ba'al, being great and powerful, must have an army surrounding him."

"The System Lords guard themselves against large scale invasions or insurgence," Teal'c answered. "It makes it much easier for a small party to infiltrate."

"The same can be said for many tyrants and dictators," put in Mira. "They worry so much about the big invasions, they forget the smaller parties."

"No set plan, then?"

"No, not really." Sam smiled. "We need to see the lay of the land first."

"Why can't Thor just beam them up or whatever?"

"Because they might not have the ZPM on them. We need to recover that as well."

"What is this ZPM thing?" asked Mira. "Why is it so special?"

"It's a power source created by the Ancients. From what I've learned, it gets its power from vacuum energy derived from a self-contained region of subspace time. It has the potential to last millions of years."

"I'm sorry I asked."

"OK," said Frank. "That's what it *is*, but what can it *do*?"

"We know for a fact that using it as a power source, we can gate to another galaxy. The Ancients used it to help defend their outpost in Antarctica. With knowledge of how it functions combined with other Ancient technologies, who knows what else it could do?"

"So, we make sure it comes back with us or somehow keep Ball from using it."

"He will have it well-guarded," commented Teal'c. "Any action will need to be swift and immediate."

"I think that goes without saying." Mira looked at Frank. "You still glad about that field trip?"

"As long as Jack gets a hold of Bradley. I don't need to be welcomed back into a nice comfy cell."

********************************************************************************

Jack sat behind his desk and dialed the number Parker had given him. The switchboard connected him and an older man's voice spoke on the other side. "Dr. Talmadge."

"Dr Talmadge, this is Gen. Jack O'Neill. I'm calling from Cheyenne Mountain--"

"This is about Frank Parker, isn't it?"

"Yes it is." Jack smiled. **Parker must still give the suits hell.**

"What's he done this time?"

"We have asked Mr. Parker and his sister to assist us on a current...project. Their expertise is greatly appreciated. When it's over, we will arrange transportation."

"A word of advice, general? Frank usually works on his own and has a tendency to play it close to the vest in group situations."

"Doesn't play well with others?"

Jack heard Talmadge chuckle. "That's a good way to put it. Sounds like you've dealt with someone like Frank before."

"You could say that. I've dealt with Frank before." He could just picture the wheels turning in the man's mind. **When would an Air Force general and Frank have worked together?** He'd probably come up with Special Ops when given enough time. "I don't think he'll try any of his tricks where they're going. Besides, his sister's gone along too and, from what I've seen, I think she can control him."

"Thank you, General, for notifying me. If he hadn't returned with the others, I'd have to write him up again."

"I'm sure that's a thick file."

"You've no idea."

**I'm sure I do.** "Good bye, Dr. Talmadge." Jack replaced the receiver and wondered what was going on out there.

******************************************************************************

Daniel knew that Jarod was right. They would have to try to delay as long as possible in order to give the others a chance to put together a rescue. They might also learn some vital information that could lead to their own escape. He had never faced Ba'al himself but knew from the time he visited Jack while he was in Ba'al's clutches how much the system lord enjoyed torture.

"Daniel what do you know about Ba'al that might help us out?"

"He recently made a power play, taking over all the territories that had belonged to Anubis, making him the most powerful system lord. A few months ago, a small group of system lords approached us to negotiate a truce in the hopes that we would help them overthrow Ba'al."

"That obviously didn't work out."

"Not after they tried to send a bomb through the Gate."

"So even though they tried to negotiate against Ba'al, the other system lords went no further?"

"Not that we've been made aware of. I think they've either given up any hope of defeating him, or they're biding their time waiting for the right moment." **Moreover, with their long lives, that moment could be centuries away.**

"Is there anyway for us to leave this ship while it's in flight? We'd have to know in order to plan out escape."

Daniel thought on the possibilities. There were the gliders, but he couldn't fly it and he didn't know if Jarod could without studying it first. They wouldn't be able to access the beam technology, as Ba'al was the only one to use it. "A Gate! There must be a Gate on this ship. That's the only way he could have sent the hologram. If we can get to it, we can make it home."

"How good are the odds on that?"

"As it stands now, not so good. We're locked up. We have no idea where it is. Even if we do find it, it will be under guard."

"I get the picture. We need to get more information before making any plans."

At that moment the door slid open and the two men stood. Ba'al's First Prime entered, flanked by two others. "You," he pointed.

********************************************************************************

Ba'al sat on his throne contemplating what Agrona had brought him. The technology of the Ancients was the one item he sought. As a bonus, she had brought Jackson of SG-1, one of the few Tau'ri who could read and speak Goa'uld and the only one who could translate Ancient.

Agrona claimed that the man she had taken along with Jackson could utilize the technology. He would need to bear watching as an unknown entity. He knew from experience that these particular humans were quite resilient-and resistant.

As for those two men that "assisted" Agrona, they might provide more information voluntarily. The one man seemed to harbor a thirst for power that would be dangerous were he a Goa'uld. As he was only human, Ba'al knew he could use that thirst to his own advantage. Torture and coercion were not the only path to information.

The door from the hall opened and his First Prime entered. "My lord, the prisoner is outside."

"Very good. Bring him in."

********************************************************************************

Jarod was surprised when he was the one taken first, not Daniel. As he walked the corridors, occasionally prodded by the guards, he realized that Ba'al probably knew all that Daniel had to offer. For him, Jarod represented a new source to drill for information. He would only go so far as to appear accommodating, but he would not betray the new trust given to him.

They stopped outside a door more ornate than the others and Jarod knew they had arrived. The leader-the one with the embossed symbol on his forehead-entered the room while they waited outside. Not too long after, he returned, waved his hand, and the other guards responded by pushing Jarod inside.

A tall, swarthy man confronted Jarod with a short beard dressed in finery befitting a Mesopotamian "god". He beckoned with his hand and Jarod was pushed forward until he stood at the base of the dais.

"Kneel before your god!" the Jaffa demanded as he used his staff on the back of Jarod's legs.

Jarod fell to his knees then stared up at Ba'al defiantly. He would do all he could to keep from telling what he knew-the little that was.

"You are with SG-1?" he asked in a deep reverberating voice.

**A trick question.** "I'm with SG-1 in the respect that I was taken along with Daniel. I'm not a member as I only learned of its existence today."

"I believe that to be an honest answer," Ba'al stated. "A very inspiring start. If you continue in this vein, there will be no need for me to resort to other methods."

It might have been his imagination, but Jarod thought he caught a note of disappointment.

"How did you find the device of the Ancients? Did the SGC recruit you?"

"I was diving and just happened upon the site. I had been corresponding with Daniel and knew the symbols would intrigue him so I contacted him. As I said before, I only just learned of the SGC."

"Does Earth possess any technology to defend itself against a Goa'uld attack?"

**This guy doesn't believe that I don't know anything about classified stuff like this.** "It might. I can't give you a definitive answer as I'm not privy to such information."

With a snarl, Ba'al backhanded Jarod across the face, the force of the blow sending him sliding across the floor. Blood trickled from the corner of his lips.

"Next time I question you, have the proper answers or things will be far less pleasant." He then looked at the Jaffa and spoke in what must have been its native tongue.

Daniel probably could have translated it. Unfortunately, he could not and therefore was not prepared when he was yanked roughly to his feet by his right arm and marched back to his cell.

Once the door slid shut behind the soldiers, Daniel was there asking questions. Jarod relayed all he could. They had to get out of here soon. He didn't want to think about what a second interrogation might hold.

********************************************************************************

Mira gazed out into space and still had a hard time believing she was actually doing it not just dreaming. Again, Jarod had a hand in changing her perspectives drastically. First, he got her to leave the Centre, and now she had actually left the planet. She looked over at Frank who was trying to engage Teal'c in conversation-that would be interesting to listen in on.

She then looked at Major Carter and Thor. Seeing them discussing options on equal footing made her hopeful for the future of the human race despite its inclusion of specimens like Lyle and Raines. She smiled knowing at this point Jarod would say something about everyone on the planet being able to make a difference in the world by little gestures or grand ones. She then sobered, wondering why the Goa'uld wanted Jarod. She didn't think it could be for information he held, for before his phone call to her, she doubted he even had any inkling of their existence.

As for his friend Daniel, he knew how to read this Ancient language that eluded the Goa'uld so it was obvious he was wanted for translation. The concern the SGC and Thor were showing regarding Ba'al and his possession of the device made her more frightened than she cared to admit. This certainly would be End of the World stuff if he couldn't be stopped. This put Raines and Lyle's petty scheming into perspective.

Col. Carter saw her lost in thought and came over. "Are you all right? You don't have to go through with this if you don't want to."

"No, it's about time I saved Jarod." She then asked the one question that was bugging her. "What I don't understand is why this alien wants Jarod. She singled him out as the one to take." She noticed some hesitation. "Whatever it is, it can't be more secret than this."

"True." The colonel went on to explain that the Ancients-the ones that built the Stargates-built a number of devices that could only be activated by those possessing a certain gene. "Jarod is one of those people."

"Do you think it could be tied in with his Pretender gene?"

"He did mention it as a possibility. The lab was just starting tests before you arrived."

Mira wondered if she should tell them that she possessed it herself. If it would help against the Goa'uld, she couldn't keep it to herself. "Colonel, I also carry the Pretender gene. I think because of my father, I never underwent any simulations like Jarod. When we return to Earth, I am willing to have tests run to see if I possess this gene as well."

She could see that Carter was amazed at the prospect. "Wow, two of you in one day! Is there any chance your brother as it as well?"

"Frank? Maybe. We had different fathers. However, I know my twin brother does."

"Do you know where he is?"

"He was with Agrona when they took Jarod."

********************************************************************************

After Jarod and the other man were taken away by the soldiers, Agrona took Lyle and Willie to what he guessed were guest quarters. "Rest here until my lord Ba'al wishes to speak with you."

"Thank you for your hospitality," he replied in what he hoped was the proper fawning tone.

With a slight nod of her head, she left the room.

Lyle found a chaise and stretched out, legs crossed at the ankles. "This is the life, eh, Willie?"

The Sweeper paused in his search of the room. "If you say so, Mr. Lyle," he replied diplomatically.

"You have to look at the big picture, Willie. Diplomatic ties with these...beings will make the Centre more of a world player than it already is and we can operate in the open." **The fact that I am the one to make initial contact will put me on a higher standing within the Centre itself.**

Willie, ever the Yes Man, agreed.

Lyle began to plan all he would do to help these Goa'uld. He still wasn't sure why they wanted Jarod, but if it were because he was a Pretender, the Centre would be able to help them locate more. Of course, there were the contacts the Centre had worldwide including a number of politicians and generals that owed favors.

Dreaming of future power, Lyle settled back for a nap, a self-satisfied smirk spread on his face.

*******************************************************************************

On the third try, Jack finally got through to Hammond. "Jack. How are things going?"

"We have a little bit of an incident, sir." He went on to explain how Daniel had been contacted regarding an Ancient site and how Ba'al had become involved. "Thor saved Daniel and Jarod, beaming them here. However, Agrona infiltrated the base, taking Daniel, Jarod, and the device. Carter and Teal'c are on Thor's ship along with Frank and Mira Parker."

"Jack, who are these people and just how much do they know?"

"They've been on the base, sir. They've seen the Goa'uld and Thor. However, I don't think they're going to talk. The Parkers are with another classified project which they have told us about so we're all on equal footing."

"Just what do you know about them?"

"I know Frank Parker from my Special Ops days. He was with the SEALs, the CIA, and now the NSA. He's never been one for authority but when the chips are down, he comes through."

"What about his sister? Does she seem trustworthy?"

"That's the tricky part. When I knew Frank, he had no family. It seems they only found each other recently. She was really pissed when Daniel and Jarod were taken and demanded to be part of the rescue party."

"Why is that? Was it to learn more of what we do?"

"I don't believe so, sir. She's known Jarod most of her life and felt a need to rescue him. The fact that she used to work with the men who helped Agrona might have also played a part."

"This Jarod seems to be the link. He knows both Parkers and was in contact with Daniel. Now you say he has the Ancient gene."

"The lab test just confirmed it."

"Does he have any affiliations that we should be aware of?"

Jack smiled at the thought of Jarod having the affiliations Hammond meant. "He's only loyal to family and friends, sir. Family he barely knows. The man's a genius, sir, and you know that's not a word I use lightly."

"If at all," he heard Hammond chuckle. "Will he break?"

"After how he's handled what he's already seen today, I don't think so. Besides, if they're aware of what he can do-and I think they are-they won't want to incapacitate him to the point where he can't help them."

"And Dr. Jackson?"

"He might be able to talk his way out of it, or at least delay."

"Keep me posted, Jack. I need to know what to prepare for should things go wrong."

"Of course, sir. You'll be the first call." Jack replaced the receiver and hoped his faith wasn't misplaced.

***************************************************************************

Daniel sat across from Jarod. "Are you okay?"

"A little bruised is all. I didn't tell him anything apart from how we found the device. What could I? He thought I was part of the SGC. Why does he have it in for you?"

"Aside from the fact that we've killed a number of System Lords and he's afraid he's next?"

"Yeah, aside from that." Jarod cracked a smile.

"He's trying to consolidate his position as Supreme System Lord and we keep getting in the way. He really has a thing against Jack since he escaped a couple of years ago. Ba'al kept torturing him over and over and Jack was near the point of giving up." That was something he never wanted to see again: Jack resigned to death. That was one of the moments during his ascended state when Daniel wished he had had a physical presence.

"He won't do that to you, however. He won't risk hurting you since you are the only one who can operate Ancient technology."

"I'm just surprised he hasn't done anything about that yet."

"I think he's trying to put together a plan of how to handle the device so we can't do anything he doesn't want."

"We're on *his* ship surrounded by *his* guards. What does he think we can do?"

"I don't know what we can do. He probably just doesn't want to take any chances." Daniel knew they needed to get their minds off their predicament for a bit so he brought the anthropologist in him to the fore. "Jarod, just what do you know about the Pretender gene? I mean, is there a history of Pretenders, or are you the first?"

Jarod looked at him. "I never thought of that. I was so concerned about why they wanted me as well as keeping them from doing it again."

"You said you weren't the only Pretender, so why would they make such a big fuss about you?"

"I think it's because it comes naturally to me. Now I think it might have something to do with those scrolls."

"I'd love to get my hands on those to see if there's any mention of Pretenders existing at the time it was written."

"They're lost somewhere in the North Atlantic."

"Pity. They would have made an interesting read."

"I still can't help but wonder 'Why me?' I know it sounds selfish considering all that's going on, but I have the need to know."

A sudden idea struck Daniel. Before his time with the SGC, it would have struck even him as ridiculous. He only wondered how Jarod would take it. "What if the unearthing of the Stargate in 1928 triggered those carriers of the Ancient gene to pass the then active gene to their children?"

"Culminating in me and the others the Centre took?"

"I know. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?"

"A little. Then again, I thought the same of alien invasions the other day."

"There is still so much we don't know about the Ancients. This could have been something programmed into the Stargate itself. They must have known that its discovery would lead to others and the need for protection against the Goa'uld."

"So you're saying my gift is due to alien gene manipulation."

Daniel could hear the incredulity in Jarod's voice. "The Ancients knew they were leaving Earth and wanted to make sure we would be protected." Daniel warmed to his theory. It made a strange kind of sense. Once again, Jarod proved to be the catalyst.

The door slid open and the Jaffa motioned Daniel to stand and follow. It was now time for him to defy yet another System Lord.

******************************************************************************

Agrona turned away from the monitor. Could it be there were more on Earth who could operate the devices of the Ancients? If they could be located, they could be used to advance the Goa'uld. No one would be able to withstand them; not the Nox, the Asgard, and especially not the Tau'ri.

The man who had assisted her and those he worked with seemed to be able to locate and isolate those with the gene. She would have to persuade him to tell her of the method they employed so it could be implemented on a larger scale. She would need to inform Ba'al of this development.

She glided into the next room and watched impassively as Ba'al questioned Dr. Jackson.

She took the time to study him. He did not have the build of a warrior and was known to be a scholar yet he had figured highly in many of the Goa'uld defeats at the hands of the Tau'ri. He was known to have withstood the hand device of Ra, Apophis, Sokar, and Osiris. She knew that he had been very lucky for she knew of no one who had been able to endure the ribbon device completely. It all depended on the strength of the power put forth by the Goa'uld and the length of time one was exposed to it. Dr. Jackson had merely built up a resistance and resistance was usually broken.

Ba'al lowered his hand and Jackson gasped for breath. His eyes were still defiant. What was it about the Tau'ri that made them think they could always win?

"You will decipher the writings for me, Dr. Jackson. And there will be no delays for I will periodically visit and *persuade* you to continue your work."

"You can't do it too often; you need my brains."

"You are lucky in that regard. Do not try my patience."

He motioned for the Jaffa to take the human away. He then turned and resumed his seat. "Agrona, have you anything to tell me?"

*******************************************************************************

This standing around was getting to Frank. They needed to have some form of attack plan. There were five of them, six counting Thor. If Daniel and Jarod were in separate areas, they would need to split up and then arrange a rendezvous. He said as much to Carter.

"We have been thinking on a few things, Mr. Parker."

"Frank."

"Thor has schematics of Ba'al's ship which we can use to formulate a plan."

At that moment a hologramatic projection appeared before them. Frank couldn't understand what most of the notations meant, but he could see it was massive. "What are those moving dots?"

"Those are Jaffa," Thor answered calmly.

"This isn't a simple schematic," declared Carter, "but an actual scan."

"We are close enough to scan without the Goa'uld realizing. I do not know how long that will last."

"What are these dots?" Sam pointed to some others different from those that Frank questioned. "They seem brighter."

"They would be Ba'al and Agrona."

"That's a good thing to know," commented Frank.

"By process of elimination, these two must be Daniel and Jarod." Carter indicated two less-defined spots isolated from the others.

"We'd better get a move on with this plan," said Frank. "If Ba'al has this many Jaffa on his ship, I'm afraid to think of how many he'd have at his base."

"Frank Parker is correct," Teal'c said. "We must strike quickly while we have the advantage of surprise."

Carter studied the projection. "Thor, is there anyway to detect where the ZPM is? We can then split up and complete the rescue in half the time."

Thor made a slight adjustment to the controls and small blue dot began blinking by the two prisoners.

"That's convenient," muttered Frank. "One-stop shopping."

"We need not transfer to the ship now as their close proximity to each other should make it easier to beam them here," volunteered Teal'c.

"That can be easily done, however, there is a second pair of humans located a level above the first."

"Mr. Lyle and Willie," put in Frank.

"We have to get them," Mira stated. "Once Ba'al realizes Jarod and Daniel are gone, he'll take it out on them."

"Serve 'im right," Frank declared. "He's tried to kill us both so why should we save him now?"

"Because when he does, if it's not by my hands, I at least want to see it."

Frank shivered at the coldness he saw in her eyes.

********************************************************************************

Jarod woke from his doze the moment the cell door slid open and Daniel was pushed inside. He was weak and his eyes a bit unfocused, but at least he wasn't bleeding. "Are you okay?"

"I've been better. Right now he can't kill us as we're too valuable."

At that moment the door opened again and one of the Jaffa brought in Daniel's pack and set it none too gently on the floor. He said something in a tongue Jarod didn't recognize but the meaning was clear: get to work.

Once he left, Daniel picked up his pack and went through it. "All my notes are here. Even the laptop. It must appear like a child's toy compared to their technology. No weapons though."

"And you're surprised by that?"

"No, I expected it. What I didn't expect was this." He lifted the ZPM out of the bag and set it gently on the floor. "Ba'al wasn't kidding when he wanted us to get to work. But why is he letting us work with this?"

"Maybe since you don't know how it works, he feels secure."

"Because I don't know how it works is precisely the reason this has me worried. Any wrong move..." Daniel left the outcome unsaid. He rummaged through his pack and pulled out a pair of black leather gloves. "Put these on."

Jarod took the gloves and slipped them onto his hands. "It needs direct contact to interact with me," he stated.

"In every instance I've witnessed, yes. This way you can help me examine it without the risk of setting it off."

Jarod picked up the device and looked at it closely, something he didn't have a chance to earlier. It was cool to the touch, as if it had switched itself off, conserving power. It was composed of a number of long crystals somehow fused together in a loosely cylindrical shape. As he looked at it, an idea came to him. "Daniel, I believe we are being monitored somehow. Ba'al must realize we will talk more freely if we believe we are alone," Jarod said in Russian. "That's why he didn't leave any Jaffa inside with us and let us use the ZPM."

Daniel looked up from his notes that he had spread on the floor. "That sounds about right," he replied. "We'll just have to spout some jargon that will satisfy whoever is listening."

The two men pored over Daniel's notes briefly forgetting where they were as they worked on translating the text. As Daniel had mentioned while they were in Florida the meaning of certain words changed depending on the context. "You know the ZPM is a major energy source, but what if it has other uses, uses long forgotten without the Ancients to pass along the knowledge?"

"Good point. We could just be scratching the surface. Do you think we should put on a performance for our audience?"

"Excitement or frustration?"

"Frustration. They'll leave us alone a bit longer. If we're doing well, Baal will want details. I'm not good at lying about details, especially under the ribbon device."

"What is that thing?"

"It concentrates a beam of energy directed by the mind of the Goa'uld. It has many levels of intensity. Nasty."

Jarod pushed the notes away and put his hands up in disgust. "We aren't getting anywhere, Daniel. We're just going in circles."

"Something'll break soon," Daniel replied also in English. "Just when I was on the edge of giving up deciphering the Gate, I saw something that made it all fall in place. We need to keep going."

"Maybe if I had some food, my brain wouldn't shut off," Jarod said pointedly.

Daniel smiled at the acting and the two continued on knowing they would need to have something to show Baal when he appeared.

******************************************************************************

From his control room, Baal listened to his prisoners' conversation. "What is this other language they speak?"

"There are many areas of the planet that have their own language," Agrona informed him. "It could be a tongue of scholars so they find it more easy to converse in such a tongue."

"Or they could be up to something."

"My lord, there is one on the ship who may be able to translate for us. The human known as Lyle."

"Yes, the one who assisted you in recovering the device and getting us Dr Jackson and the other man. Bring him to me."

Minutes later Baal got his first look at the human Lyle. He was less prepossessing than he expected yet there was something about him that made Baal wary. He showed no fear but entered the room as if it were something expected and awaited.

He bowed. "Lord Baal, thank you for deigning to see me. I believe we can assist each other in this endeavor."

"We can discuss more later. Right now, I would like you to listen to a conversation and translate for me."

The man gave a crooked smile. "What do you need me for? You guys don't know every language under the sun?"

Gone was the subservient obsequious toady. Now he was being insolent. If he were a Goa'uld, he would be dangerous. "Many new languages have evolved since any Goa'uld last visited this planet for any period of time. It would be hard for us to say we know them all." He motioned Agrona to turn up the sound from the prisoners' cell.

Lyle tilted his head, listening intently. "Sounds like Russian. I'm not fluent, but it seems like they're saying something about energy output."

"It is not plans of escape nor ways to sabotage my ship."

"Believe me, I'd tell you if it were. The end result would not be too pleasant for me either way."

Baal knew Lyle was being truthful as a man like that priced his life far above anything else. "It still does not explain why they would speak in another tongue."

"Maybe they just want to irritate you in the only way they can at the moment."
"Very well. Return to your quarters and we will talk more later."

He watched the man be taken away and prepare himself to visit his prisoners and find out just what it was they were discussing.

*******************************************************************************

It was decided that they would break into two teams. Col. Carter and Frank Parker would go after Daniel Jackson and Jarod and Teal'c found himself paired with Mira Parker. The other man, Sam, would remain onboard with Thor, assisting in directing them via hologram if necessary. He would then be locked up so the one know as Lyle would not know the part he played.

Col. Carter divided the C4 between them. "Place it where you think it can do the most damage. We should be able to trigger them once the ship reaches Baal's base, destroying both at once."

"And when will we know when that happens?" Frank Parker questioned.

"The ship's sensors will know," Thor replied. "There will be enough time for the rescue before that happens."

Teal'c fingered the zat'ni'katel at his side knowing it would be necessary to subdue Mira Parker's brother. Thor would have to beam them directly to the brig so both men could be locked up while still incapacitated.

He walked to the designated area and nodded to Thor to signal his readiness. "Mira Parker, if you will come stand beside me, we can begin our part of the mission."

The woman strode over, attempting to hide her nervousness by checking the readiness of her weapon. "OK, let's go."

The last thing Teal'c saw was Frank Parker smiling and giving them one of the many human signals for good luck; his thumb rising from a clenched fist.

They were beamed down to an empty utility room on the same level as Baal's guests. His partner blinked a number of times, adjusting quickly after her new experience. "Travel like that often?"

"I have done so a few times," he replied. "It can be disconcerting at first."

"A little. Which way next?"

"From the readings on Thor's ship, your brother and his associate are in a room down the hall to the left." He approached the door, his zat'ni'katel at the ready as it slid open. Once he was sure the corridor was clear, he motioned Mira forward.

They proceeded down the hall, rotating who took lead. Teal'c was impressed with her professionalism and remembered that she had been placed in charge of the retrieval team sent after Jarod. He heard a small patrol of Jaffa approaching and pulled Mira back into a doorway. Once the patrol marched by, they continued down the corridor. Spotting two Jaffa guards, Teal'c knew they had reached the right room. He used his zat'ni'katel quickly, and the guards fell to the floor.

The door opened and Mira was the first through.

"Why, Miss Parker, I'm surprised you went through all this trouble to get me."

"It was no trouble, but my duty," she replied.

"Duty to family?"

She scoffed. "I never considered you family. I shot you once and I'm not afraid to do it again."

"Then why did you bring a friend? In case you can't go through with it?"

"No, to keep me from doing it. For some reason, they think it best to keep you alive."

This familial bickering was getting them nowhere; Teal'c used his zat'ni'katel on both men. "We have no time to spare," he informed Mira.

"He is in pain, though?"

"Yes."

"Good."

Teal'c signaled Thor and they were beamed directly to the cells. He noticed she took great pleasure in her brother's discomfort. There had to be some underlying story to turn family against each other. Perhaps on the return journey, he could learn more of Mira Parker. "Let us return to the bridge to await the return of the others."

*******************************************************************************

After Teal'c and Mira disappeared, Sam and Frank took up position. She noticed his ready stance, automatic in hand. She knew he could fend for himself, having been in covert ops. Even though he hadn't come up against the Goa'uld before, his very existence proved he could make things up as he went along, always an added benefit. "Ready, Frank?"

"As I'll ever be."

After a brief moment of disorientation, she saw they were in an empty room. "I'll take point. I'm sure they'll be heavily guarded so we have to make it quick."

"Get rid of the guards, get to Jarod, Daniel, and the ZPM thing, and then signal Thor all before either Goa'uld realizes we're here." Frank grinned. "No problem."

Sam couldn't help but smile at his attitude. It did remind her of the general in that respect. Was it a requirement for special ops? "OK then. Let's go."

They crept along the hall without encountering any Jaffa, which made her a little nervous. Where were they all hiding? Somehow, she didn't think Baal would have them all guarding over Jarod and Daniel.

Hearing the low drone of machinery, Sam paused in front of a door. As it slid open, she motioned Frank to stand guard as she stepped inside. The room appeared to house an auxiliary power source, which would greatly add to the original explosion. While it might not actually destroy the ship, it would certainly cripple it, delaying any pursuit.

That task completed, she rejoined Frank and they continued down the hall in silence. She appreciated that he was holding back all his questions and comments knowing full well he must be ready to burst. She remembered Daniel's babbling that first time.

Frank stopped at a bend in the corridor and peered around. "Two," he whispered. "I'd say it's time to use that doohickey if you want to keep things quiet."

Sam used her zat and both Jaffa fell to the floor. "Be quick. It's likely they're being monitored somehow."

The door slid open to reveal Daniel and Jarod going over Daniel's notes on the Ancient language. On the floor between them was the ZPM! Jarod and Daniel began to pick up the papers as Daniel continued to express some thought regarding the translation. Jarod motioned for she and Frank to remain quiet.

In order to help, Frank picked up the ZPM, nearly dropping it as it glowed brightly. Daniel held out the bag and Frank gladly placed it carefully inside. Sam sent the signal to Thor as her mind dwelt on the irony of three possessors of the Ancient gene found them.

Thor, Teal'c and Mira were waiting for them on the bridge. "It is good to see you all again," stated Teal'c.

"It's good to be seen," Daniel replied.

"Are you guys okay?" Sam asked. "You don't look too bad considering."

"He knew we could be useful so he didn't dare damage us," Jarod answered.

"But you guys were working on the translations and you had the ZPM with you," said Frank. "He can't have trusted you with that."

"Oh, he was listening in," said Daniel. "We said what we wanted him to hear but any possible theories or breakthroughs were discussed in Russian."

Sam looked at her watch. The C4 was due to go off any minute. "Thor, you might want to get us out of here before the explosion."

"We are already on our way, Col. Carter."

*****************************************************************************

Sam sat on the edge of the bunk in his cell and thought on all he had seen. Aliens were real! And Mr. Lyle was with them. Maybe he wouldn't make it back. However, if he returned to the Centre, how would he explain what happened and not come off as if he had shirked his duty? Maybe he could join up with Miss Parker again. That was another surprise. Miss Parker looked...human. He certainly hadn't expected to see her on a military base, secret or otherwise.

She had to be there because of Jarod. That was obvious. It also meant that they kept in touch. If it had been anyone other than Jarod, he would have thought it strange, be he had learned pretty early on that they both shared some sort of weird connection. Sam had noticed a softening of her fašade over those last couple of years and he knew it was due to communication with Jarod.

He stood and began pacing the floor. But what of the other man, the one Mr. Lyle had called "little brother"? He hadn't been there the day Miss Parker had left the Centre, but he had heard the stories. Could this man be the one rumored to be Mr. Parker's *real* son? If this were true, he would be the "heir" to the Centre, something Mr. Lyle and Mr. Raines would want to prevent. Wherever Miss Parker and her brother were hiding, they had to have major protection.

He stopped pacing when he heard the lock to his door open. Sam recognized the base commander when he walked in and stood a little straighter. The man didn't display the fierceness that he associated with leaders. Instead, the officer seemed to treat things as a lark or a game, baiting and goading the enemy. Maybe he was an adrenaline junkie and in it for the rush. Whatever it was, the general was probably as loyal to his men as they were to him.

"Sam is it?"

He nodded.

"I know why you were after Jarod. He told us what the Centre did to him. Mira and Frank Parker filled us in on their experiences with the place, too."

**Her name is Mira?**

"But that's not what I want to talk about now. I want to know why Agrona was with you. What kind of hold does she have over your boss?"

"Over Mr. Lyle? Nothing. He volunteered the use of the jet."

"Volunteered?"

"Maybe that's not the right word. She boarded the jet demanding we take her to some secret base. Mr. Lyle..." Sam paused. Part of him wished to tell all about Mr. Lyle and his cruelties while another part wanted to keep mum knowing he would still have to work with him. "Mr. Lyle took advantage of the situation, treating her as a welcome guest, like royalty, really. We had no idea what she was after but I believe she made promises to Mr. Lyle that he would be rewarded for his cooperation."

"Same old trick," the general commented. "When the jet landed, how did you get here?"

"I drove according to her directions. We pulled over onto some dirt road and then walked through woods to a large cement block with a hatch. She shot it with some weapon, disabling the alarms. I hate to say it, sir, but she knew the layout of the base. I think she said something about infiltrators."

"Yeah, well, a few of her type have been here before. Thanks for that. We can make some changes." He turned to knock on the door to be let out.

"Sir?"

The officer turned to face him. "Yes?"

"I was just wondering, is Miss Parker okay?"

"Last time I heard from them, yes, she was fine. I'll let you know the next time I get a communication."

"Thank you, sir. I'd appreciate that."

His fears somewhat at rest, Sam settled back on the bunk for a quick catnap.

******************************************************************************

Baal strode through the corridors determined to show Jackson the punishment for plotting against him. Yes, the SGC had brought about the downfall of many other Goa'uld System Lords thus paving the way for his rise but he was not going to allow himself to be goaded into acting rashly. He would sit back an attempt to riddle out their plan, which was sometimes difficult as the Tau'ri were so unpredictable.

He turned the corner and saw the two Jaffa guards dead on the floor. Jackson and the other man had been rescued! It had to be SG-1 with the assistance of the Asgard-most probably Thor. He entered the room and saw that nothing remained; all evidence of the Ancient and the research Jackson had done were gone. Instinctively he knew that the Tau'ri would have left something damaging behind, usually it was a crude but effective explosive.

He left the room and headed for the ring room. It would be time to change the location of his base now that it had been revealed. He had to start a new search for another Ancient power source. Perhaps by then, he would know how to use it-and the SGC would not.

******************************************************************************

Daniel took the ZPM from Frank. "What were you thinking?"

"That's a fine thank you to someone who just rescued you."

"No, that's not what I meant. What were you thinking when you held the ZPM?"

"Oh, I was just wondering how it worked."

"This is amazing! Finding the three of you in one day! I guess the reasons are obvious why we couldn't find you during our search for personnel for the Atlantis expedition. Of course you couldn't have gone even if we had found you, having other major issues to deal with." Daniel realized he was babbling and stopped.

"Did you and Jarod come up with anything new?" asked Sam.

"We thought that it might have another purpose than just a power source," Daniel replied.

"Some type of hidden purpose?" questioned Frank.

"I don't know if I'd say 'hidden'. Probably just not obvious to non-Ancients," Jarod answered.

"What kind of purpose do you think?" Mira asked.

"Most obvious would be a weapon of some kind," Daniel answered. "Practically any major power source can be. Another thing we were wondering was if it could be used as a long distance communication device. It's never been tested, but I was curious if it gave off some sort of radio wave that could be directed at a receiver."

"It could be possible," Sam put in. "As you said, we've never been able to test it. I never noticed if any of the others had similar markings."

"I don't remember seeing any." Daniel tried to stifle a yawn. **God, was it really only this morning I woke up on Jarod's boat in the Keys? No wonder this day is catching up with me.**

"Daniel, why don't you and Jarod try to get some sleep? You both look dead on your feet. I don't think Baal will be mounting a pursuit any time soon."

"You are correct, Col. Carter," put in Thor. "The ship's sensors just registered a large explosion in the vicinity of Baal's ship."

"I guess it's too much to ask if he was on it at the time?" inquired Jarod.

"I have learned never to trust word of a Goa'uld's death unless I have witnessed it myself," Teal'c told him.

Daniel thought of Apophis and Anubis. They had "died" almost as many times as he had. He yawned again. "C'mon, Jarod. I know I could use that nap."

"I don't think I could sleep. My mind is racing with all that's happened."

"I'm sure once you put your head down, you'll be out," Frank joked.

"Sleep well," Teal'c told them.

"We'll tell you if anything happens," Sam added.

********************************************************************************

Mira watched as Jarod and Daniel left. The moment she had seen them materialize on the bridge, relief flooded through her on a level she had never experienced before. This new concern for Jarod's well being she found rather frightening. Yes, she had come all this way to save him, but how much of that was the desire to get back at Lyle?

"Col. Carter, the others have awakened," Thor announced as he watched them stir. "You may wish to question them before we reach Earth."

"Teal'c, let's go and find out just how much they know," Carter said, heading for the door.

"Let Frank and I go." She could sense their hesitation. "Lyle hates us. Somewhere between his bragging and taunting, he might let something slip. Besides, we're family."

"She does have a point, Col. Carter," commented Teal'c. "I strongly doubt he will speak in our presence."

"You can listen in anyway," Mira argued. "If you think we're getting nowhere, you can always come in and give him a scare."

"Oh, and if we get insulting, please don't take it personally," Frank put in. "If we can't convince him of the Goa'ulds' true purpose, things may turn a bit ugly."

"Appealing to Lyle's better nature has never worked because he doesn't have one."

"OK," agreed Carter. "If you can't get anything out of him, we'll send in Teal'c. He can be seen as rather intimidating." She looked over at the man in question. "You didn't bring your Jaffa armor, did you?"

"No. I did not foresee the need for it."

Mira strode through the corridors. Lyle had always been a self-serving bastard but she couldn't believe he would willingly sell out the planet for his own petty desires.

"Since he likes inflicting pain so much, I wonder if he likes being on the receiving end," Frank commented.

"Like most bullies, he caves." She stopped. "You've given me an idea." She turned to look at her brother. "What if we just hint at the torture and pain waiting for him if he doesn't help?"

"He'll know we're bluffing. There's nothing like that here."

"You said yourself that Thor looks like the aliens in the basement at the base, the Roswell Greys. With all the stories of abduction and experimentation, we just need to make him believe we're all that's keeping him from a date with a scalpel."

*****************************************************************************

The door to the cell slid open and Frank could see Lyle staring defiantly at them from the opposite wall. "I was wondering when someone was going to show up. I was actually expecting the black guy."

"They were going to," Mira stated. "We felt you deserved a chance to convince you of what's really going on."

"Gee, you really have my best interests at heart." He leaned against the wall with his arms crossed and asked as if he were back at the Centre and not locked up on an alien ship. "Jarod not with you? I would have thought he'd be taking advantage of this role reversal."

"He's had a bit of a strenuous day," Frank commented. "What with being kidnapped and threatened by aliens bent on enslaving the human race."

"Oh, they didn't want to kill him, Frankie. Far from it. They thought he would be able to operate technology left behind by some other aliens."

Frank bristled at the nickname. "Why couldn't they do it themselves?"

"Something about a gene. I figured it had to do with Jarod being a pretender so I offered to help them locate others who possessed it. We have the methods in place already so what harm could it cause?"

Frank resisted the urge to land a punch on that GQ face. "You really are a self-centered bastard, aren't you?"

"At least I wasn't locked up in an institution."

**Yeah, they got the wrong one there.** "At least I have morals and some sense of right and wrong."

"Morals are overrated."

"We tried, Frank," said Mira. "We can tell ourselves we did our best when they come for him."

Frank noticed the nervous look that the other man, Willie, gave Lyle. At least they had him worried. "I sure wouldn't want to be in your shoes."

"There is no court that would be able to prosecute this case without exposing just what it is that goes on inside that mountain."

"Oh, we're not talking trial," Frank told him, barely containing how much he was enjoying this.

"The race that owns this ship has been visiting Earth on and off for years," Mira put in. "They've made humans their main point of 'study'."

Lyle scoffed. "You're trying to tell me that these guys are the infamous Roswell Grays, the ones who abduct rednecks from their pickups out on some county road and experiment on them? C'mon, give me some credit."

"They'll get that info out of you one way or the other." Frank turned for the door. As he did so, he saw the look on Mira's face which was a cross somewhere between pity and outright amusement.

"Wait! I'll tell you what I know."

Frank grinned before he did an about-face. **That was easier than I thought.**

********************************************************************************

Jack was in his office when a hologram of Carter appeared. "Everything go according to plan?"

"Yes, sir. We retrieved Daniel, Jarod, and the ZPM. We blew up Baal's ship with C4 but that doesn't necessarily mean he was on it."

"Of course not."

"We should be there in about five hours and I'll be able to give you a full briefing."

"Hey, Carter, before you go, see if Thor has any ideas for what we can do about the guys who were with Agrona."

"Yes, sir." The hologram shimmered and was gone.

Jack left his office and made his way to the holding cell where the man Sam was waiting. He had promised to notify him when he heard from Carter. He entered the room and Sam stood at attention. **Must've had some military training.** "I just had word from Col. Carter that everyone is fine and that they would be here in about five hours."

"Thank you, General."

"You seem overly concerned for people your boss wants dead."

"I worked with Miss Parker for years. I saw how she changed when she began to go after Jarod. She began to question what the Centre was doing. If it had been anyone else, they would have been killed for it." He sat back on the cot.

**This is becoming interesting.** "Why do you say that?" Jack questioned.

"It's her family that founded the Centre. And that's one strange family."

"I've seen bits of it."

"Sir, what will happen to us? I will keep this secret. I won't gain a thing from telling anyone, and who would believe me if I did?"

Jack believed him.

"If I go back without Mr. Lyle, I'll be held responsible so I might as well not go back."

"So why go back?"

He took a deep breath. "If none of us make it back, Jarod will get the blame, since, as far as they know, that was who we were after. There are a couple of people there, other friends of Miss Parker's and Jarod's who will feel the brunt of that anger. I can't let that happen."

"I'll see what I can do. We're looking into some possibilities." Jack left the cell with a few more things to think on.

********************************************************************************

Jarod woke up fully rested after the best sleep he had had in years. After a moment of disorientation he remembered where he was and what had happened. He stood and ran a hand through his hair before rejoining the others on the bridge.

"Here's Sleeping Beauty," declared Miss Parker alerting the others to his arrival.

"We were wondering if we would have to wake you up," said Frank. "According to Thor, we're within range to be beamed down to the SGC."

"Did I miss anything?"

"Mira and Frank found out what Lyle learned from Baal," Carter answered. "It was amazing to watch."

Jarod looked at the two of them grinning. "I would have loved to have seen that myself."

"We made him think that Thor was one of the Roswell Grays and would experiment on him if he didn't tell us," Frank admitted.

"A sadist like him would no doubt cave under the idea of being on the receiving end."

"Unfortunately, he told us nothing we did not already know," Teal'c said.

"So what are we going to do with Lyle and Willie?" Jarod asked. "We can't just let them go back to the Centre."

"Thor can alter their memories, create new ones, and we can send them back to Key West," suggested Daniel.

"That won't work," said Miss Parker. "The Centre pilot will have already reported them missing. I doubt that even Thor would be able to a memory wipe on everyone."

"That is correct," Thor agreed. "I would not be able to do a sufficient memory enhancement on all those involved in the short time allotted."

"Then we'll just have to think of a new reason for their disappearance." Jarod thought quickly, mentally crossing off unlikely possibilities. "I think I have something that will work. Lyle, Willie, and Sam were arrested for trespassing on restricted military property. They were arrested but Lyle refused to give his name or give a number."

Sam smiled at the idea. "Perfect."

******************************************************************************

Lyle woke up in his cell and groaned. How long had he been here? He had lost all track of time. Locked up for trespassing on restricted military property. What a joke! What really irked him was that every minute he sat here, Jarod was getting further away.

Jarod. It all came down to the lab rat. Lyle began to wonder if Jarod had even been here. The exploding boat off Key West had obviously been a ploy, else why would he be here in...wherever he was? By now the pilot had notified the Centre that he was in need of an extraction. He knew there were enough connections in the military so with the proper application of pressure, there was no need for the Centre's involvement to become known. He was just not looking forward to facing Raines once he did get back.

He heard keys jangling and then the door opened and a blonde walked in wearing blue fatigues. "We've received a call and you and your 'friends' are being released."

"It's about time."

"Considering you didn't give us a name or a phone number, I just wonder how they located you."

Lyle stood and brushed his suit. "It's all in who you know."

"It must be."

Lyle strode past her into the hallway where Willie and Sam were flanked by armed guards. The two who had stood outside his cell door moved to either side of him. He saw a flicker of movement in his peripheral vision but before he could comment, a black cloth was fastened over his eyes. "What's going on here?" he demanded.

"Merely a precaution, sir," came the voice of the woman officer. Did he detect a hint of amusement in her tone?

"Isn't this a little too late? I found my way here."

"We just don't want you to find your way back." A new voice, caustic and sardonic. The commanding officer. "Your friends know the right strings to pull and the right palms to grease, but I don't have to like it. If I see you again, well, let's just say it'll be interesting."

Lyle allowed himself to be led away. When he returned to the Centre he would pore over military records to learn the identities of these people. He'd make sure Broots didn't sleep a wink until he got them all reassigned. They paused and he heard the whirring of machinery. An elevator. They were probably below ground as he hadn't noticed any windows.

The elevator doors opened and before he stepped inside, Lyle heard a taunting familiar voice whisper in his ear. " 'All warfare is based on deception. There is no place where espionage is not used. Offer the enemy bait to lure him'."

**Dammit! He was here after all and quoting Sun-Tzu!** "Jarod! So help me!" He knew the elevator doors had closed due to the echo. The lab rat had made *him* run the maze and look a fool. At least he would have some time to create his own spin on this story. He was not going to be the scapegoat for this fiasco.

*****************************************************************************

Carter watched as the three men were led away. She heard the general humming at her side. "Three Blind Mice, sir?"

"I couldn't help it, Carter. It just seemed appropriate."

"Are his connections really that powerful?"

"Not as powerful as ours but they seem to have a few multi-starred generals in their collective pocket. From what Jarod's said, the Centre has been advising on many military operations as well as selling a certain number of weapons and other such devices. I'd say that was worth a few favors."

"I'd say so." She stopped in the corridor near the elevator and saw Jarod approach the blindfolded men. "What is he up to?" Jarod then whispered something in Lyle's ear before falling back out of reach as the other man shouted the Pretender's name as he was dragged into the elevator. She had to smile as Jarod waved to the closing elevator doors.

"Now that is class," announced her fellow officer.

"What was it for?"

"Showing that he had the upper hand and that he is still out there. Takes guts. I wouldn't mind having him here."

"Do you think he'd take it?" Carter had come to like the man, and, if could do half the amazing stuff he said he could, he would be a marvelous asset to the SGC.

"I doubt he'd take a regular posting since he's so driven to right wrongs and all that. I could offer a freelance job, call him as needed."

"That he might go for. Let him know that we'll be here for him and that the exchange will be an even one." Jarod had disappeared somewhere in the hallways, probably heading to the room they had set aside for him. "What about the ZPM?"

"Hm? Oh, the geeks upstairs said something about it being a little different from the others and that it might not be compatible. That make any sense to you?"

"If you thin of the ZPM like a battery-which, in a sense, it is-they come in different sizes for different purposes."

"Now that makes sense." He started to walk away, then paused and turned. "Oh, Carter, celebratory cookout at my place. Festivities start at 6:00."

Carter smiled. This whole episode had turned out better than seemed possible.

********************************************************************************

Mira viewed the monitor in the Security room as Lyle, Willie, and Sam were led away blindfolded. It was decided that she, Frank, and Jarod would wait here so they wouldn't be seen or heard and ruin the setup. It was too bad that they couldn't send them all back to Key West and let them think Jarod was dead. If she had had any say in the matter, she would have wished for something more stringent-like mutilation.

"That was pretty classy of Sam to go back to the Centre because of Sydney and Broots. We could have easily set something up for him at NNL. Jack even said he would have found something here for him, probably in security." Frank didn't take his eyes off the monitor.

Mira was quite pleased at that revelation. She knew Sam would have taken a bullet for her during her time at the Centre, but she had attributed that to fear. The fact that an Air Force general was willing to award that loyalty nearly had her bursting with pride. "He knows that they would be vulnerable because of their connection to me and Jarod." She looked around the room. "Where is he anyway?"

"There." Frank pointed at the screen.

She saw Jarod lean forward and whisper in Lyle's ear. "He's always had a flair for the dramatic." She smiled. "It makes quite a change, seeing him do that to someone else."

"I'd love to be a fly on the wall when he has to explain this," Frank joked.

"You just want to see someone else in hot water."

"Oh, like you haven't made a few infractions," he retorted. "How about when you--"

"OK, there's no need to go into that." She didn't think it necessary to let their new friends learn about the Parkers' shared problem with authority. "C'mon, I think it's time we made arrangements to head back."

They left the security room and strode through the corridors towards O'Neill's office. Walking through windowless halls made Mira feel that she was back at the Centre-almost. Aside from the fact that all the personnel was in uniform, there was a lightheartedness here. Everyone smiled. They were probably just as close-knit as those at NNL if not closer. A few nodded at her and Frank as they passed. They must have been filled in on the reason for their presence.

They reached O'Neill's office and were lucky to find him behind his desk. He waved them in and set aside some papers.

"General," she began. "I'd like to thank you for helping us with Lyle."

"It was the least I could do in return for your assistance. Not many people would have jumped head-first into such a strange situation."

"True," Mira agreed. "Anyway, I think it's time we head back to Nevada."

"I've already arranged for a flight in the morning."

"Morning? I was expecting tonight."

"You're in that much of a hurry to leave?"

At his hurt look, Mira attempted to smooth things over. "I didn't mean..."

"Oh, I know," he grinned. "I'm just having the team over for a little cookout tonight to celebrate and let off a little steam and I thought you'd want to join us."

"Beer and burgers?" asked Frank.

"You betcha."

"We're there!"

Mira made a mental note to stop for a bottle of red.

*******************************************************************************

Daniel entered his lab and emptied his pack onto his desk. With the papers he and Jarod had worked on spread out, he reached for his journals of translations. He was so wired from all that had happened and needed to use all that energy productively. As he flipped through the pages he wondered if he would be able to get Jack to allow Jarod special clearance so they could work this out together. Or maybe somehow arrange a dig of the Ancients' site. There definitely had to be more there. The inscriptions alone would make it worthwhile.

There was a knock on the door and he looked up to see Jarod wearing a uniform. "Hey, why are you wearing... You saw Lyle, didn't you?"

"I couldn't help myself." He sat on one of the stools. "I had to let him know he screwed up. I just wonder what will happen to him back at the Centre. It should buy me enough time anyway."

"I was wondering if you might want to hang around a bit and work on these translations."

"Daniel, I don't know..."

"I was also going to ask Jack about excavating that site off Key West. Since you were the one who found it..."

"I'll have to think on that."

Daniel nodded in understanding. Jarod had so much going on, he had to keep his priorities straight.

"Hey, Daniel." Jack entered without knocking. "Oh, Jarod, classy move earlier. Anyway, cookout at my place tonight. Come by around 6-ish." He was gone.

"Is he always like that?"

"When he's relaxed. If you hang around long enough, he'll ask you to go fishing."

"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

"Depends if you like fishing."

"I've never been."

Daniel couldn't hold back the laugh.

********************************************************************************

Jack put the beer in the cooler, doctored the burgers with a little Worcestershire, and then sliced onions and tomatoes. He had just lit the charcoal when the bell rang. He looked at his watch: 6:45. "Probably Carter." When he opened the door, it was Daniel and Jarod who stood there. "Hi, guys. C'mon in. Didn't expect you to be first."

"Well, we wanted to talk to you first," said Daniel.

"OK." He led them to the living room. "Beer?"

"Not yet, thanks." Jarod took a seat on the couch.

"Let me take a guess. You want Jarod to hang around and help with translations."

"Well, yeah." Daniel looked stunned.

"It was kinda obvious, Daniel." Jack looked at Jarod. "I was going to ask if you wanted to help out on a freelance basis. You know, we'd call if we needed your help. We could also provide a bolt hole if the Centre tracks you down again." He watched Jarod's face. "I know it's a lot to take in, but think on it, OK? You can always email Daniel and leave a number once you've decided."

"Thanks, Jack. I appreciate that." His eyes wandered over to a framed photo on the mantelpiece. "May I?"

"Sure." To Jack, he seemed entranced. It was only an old picture from his dad's time in the Air Force. "That's my father's squadron when he was stationed in--"

"Clearview."

"Yeah." Jack wondered how he knew that from just a picture.

Daniel came up to look at the photo. "What's that symbol on the tail?" he asked, pointing to the plane in the background.

"Ring of fire," Jarod murmured.

**OK, this is getting too damn freaky. He can't have guessed that.** "How the hell could you know that?"

Jarod pointed to two men in the back row, arms slung over the other's shoulder in camaraderie. "That's my dad."

"Wow," said Daniel. "That's pretty amazing. What're the odds?"

Jack peered at the pair. "I remember him. He was my dad's best friend."

"Is there anything you can tell me about him? I don't even know my last name."

The pleading and need in Jarod's eyes cut right through Jack. Just the idea of going through life without knowing who you were made him really want to help. "Growing up I only knew him as Major Charles. I may have known his last name once, but I can't be sure."

"Oh." Jarod tried to hide his dejection. "That's all right. It was a bit of a long shot."

"Jack, don't you have any of your dad's stuff packed away somewhere?" questioned Daniel. "I don't know, papers, letters, pictures?"

"Maybe in the attic somewhere. Depending on how things go, I'll start looking tomorrow."

"Guess that gives me a reason to stay awhile."

The front doorbell rang again. "OK, we'll keep this quiet until we find something concrete," Jack told them. "Go get some beer and look like you're enjoying yourselves." He watched them go into the backyard before going to open the door. "Let the games begin."

********************************************************************************

Teal'c met Colonel Carter at her lab door. "Col. Carter, if we leave now we will arrive at O'Neill's at the designated time."

She looked at her watch. "I didn't realize how late it was. I wanted to type up my report while it was still fresh."

"As did I." He watched as she saved her report. "Mira Parker has informed me that she and her brother have been invited by O'Neill as well."

"OK, let's go pick them up." She picked up her jacket. "I can't wait to hear what stories Frank has to tell about the general."

"I am more intrigued regarding what Mira Parker can tell us of Jarod's life within the Centre."

"Let's just not handle it like an interrogation."

"But do we not wish to acquire information?"

"Through conversation, Teal'c. They're allies, friends, not enemy Jaffa."

Sometimes the approach the Tau'ri took confused him. Why would they not go directly to the problem?

Both Parkers were in a community lounge and Frank appeared to be hurling insults at the program on the television. He had seen O'Neill do the same thing and was told it was part of the experience.

Mira looked away from her brother and saw them in civilian dress. "Time for the party?"

"Yeah. Sorry we're a little late."

"C'mon, Frank."

"Wait, they're just about to--"

"Now, Frank." She grabbed the remote and switched off the television.

Teal'c caught the glare Frank directed at his sister's back but detected no menace. Was this banter typical among siblings of the Tau'ri? He had never had a chance to observe such behavior. It added a new dimension to them.

Once in the elevator, Col. Carter started conversing with the Parkers. "I take it you only became aware of your relationship recently."

"Yeah, it's been almost three years," Frank replied. "I think it was after our second meeting in '02 that Jarod suspected and ran tests."

"He ran his own tests?"

"Yeah, put him in a lab and he's a happy camper," Mira inserted.

Teal'c thought that sounded like the colonel herself but refrained from saying so.

"Jarod called Mira first and then they called and met me in Vegas. Jarod had narrowed it down but the only definitive proof of my parents was at the Centre. Not wanting to be confined in the hotel I went out and Lyle spotted me in town and nabbed me. Set me up in some torture chamber to find out what I knew about Jarod."

"I called Jarod and together we got Frank out. Unfortunately the wrong people had learned of his existence," Mira continued. "As I had openly defied them by siding with Jarod, I had to leave. Between them, Frank and Jarod set me up with a new job."

The ride to O'Neill's was filled with idle chatter as the three humans told tales of amusing and annoying co-workers. Teal'c was anxious to hear tales of the inner workings of the Centre. From the looks he was getting from Colonel Carter, she knew what he wanted as well.

They pulled up in front of O'Neill's house and saw Daniel Jackson's car already in the driveway. "It appears we are the last to arrive."

"So we know nothing's happened yet," Frank Parker grinned. "Cos the fun starts with us!"

Teal'c raised his eyebrow at this comment. It would be most interesting to see this man interact with O'Neill. Somehow he knew if they paired up against any enemy, they would emerge victorious.

Col. Carter rang the front doorbell and, as O'Neill opened the door, Teal'c heard him say, "Let the games begin." Were sporting contests planned?

****************************************************************************

Frank looked about the spacious house and whistled. "Nice place, Jack. I've been living in cramped quarters for so long, I've almost forgotten what a real house is like."

"C'mon in, guys. Daniel and Jarod are out back. Beers are in the cooler and the charcoal is lit. Once everyone settles in, I'll put the burgers on."

Frank followed the others through the house. From what he could see, it was clean, nothing out of place. Whether it was because of his military need to keep things that way or the fact that he was hardly ever here to mess it up, he couldn't tell.

Daniel and Jarod were deep in conversation, beers in hand. What they were talking about, he could only guess.

"How many times do I have to tell you boys to mingle?" Jack questioned.

"As there were no other guests, you could say we were mingling."

"Don't go into details with me, Daniel. You'd probably bore everyone else anyway, going on about your rocks."

Frank reached into the cooler for a beer. "Moved up to the imported stuff now, hunh? I'm impressed. You used to be content with a Bud."

"Doing my best for international relations. What about that Philly beer you used to go on about?"

"They used to make beer in Philadelphia?" asked Daniel.

Frank looked at Daniel in shock. "I'll forgive you as you probably spent most of your childhood overseas, but Schlitz was great stuff. Mike Schmidt was a spokesman."

"I guess your taste has improved then," commented Sam.

"Not really," Mira smirked. "He'll still drink just about anything with alcohol in it."

"That is so not true. You've been hanging with Ramsey too long." He took a defiant swig of beer.

"O'Neill, is this not a good time to begin cooking?" Teal'c inserted into the lull.

"Good idea." Jack made his escape into the house.

Conversation stopped, which was strange considering what they had just been through. They couldn't really talk about anything else since what they all did was classified. Except for Jarod but he couldn't be expected to bear the burden alone. Then a little devil visited Frank. It was time to tell stories of Jack while he was inside.

******************************************************************************

Jarod listened with one ear as Frank regaled everyone with the story of an early meeting with Jack. It was interesting that three people could hear the same story and come away with three very different meanings. Sam listened attentively as if the story would reveal some inner workings of her commanding officer's psyche. Daniel heard it as a missing piece of Jack's background that went a long way to explaining the way his best friend was. Miss Parker (he still had a hard time calling her Mira) listened to it from a tactical standpoint. It would be hard to hear it for what it was. She would probably grill Jack upon his return.

"Thanks, Parker, for dredging up that old chestnut," the man in question said once the laughter had died down. "I have a hard enough time getting them to take me seriously as it is."

"I take you most seriously, O'Neill," declared Teal'c. Your tactical instincts are unique."

Jarod couldn't help but agree. All he had seen and heard said that Jack O'Neill was an unorthodox officer which was something the SGC needed as it was anything but a By-The-Book command.

He stood and walked over to the grill. "Let me help. I was a short-order cook once."

"Of course you were." Jack handed over the utensils.

"You'd be amazed at some of the stuff he's done," Miss Parker said. **Was that admiration in her voice?**

"Really?" asked Sam. "Like what?"

"Fireman, policeman, FBI agent, plastic surgeon, bounty hunter, lawyer, stunt man, Coast Guard, test pilot--"

"What did you fly?" Jack asked.

"I flew at Skytronics Proving Grounds testing the Scimitar chip."

"I remember hearing about that," Sam commented. "The Scimitar chip was proven to have a 3.1% failure rate. A pilot was killed and they tried to cover it up." She looked at Jarod. "You were responsible for exposing it." He nodded. "You saved hundreds, maybe thousands or lives."

"But I haven't saved the planet like you do, or prevent world wars like Frank." He flipped the burgers.

"But that's our job. And it's not an everyday occurrence," put in Daniel. "You go out of your way to help people all the time."

"You may not always see the end result of your work," added Miss Parker, "but if you added them up, I'm sure the total would rival anyone's."

That made him feel a little better. She was right. If he looked at it like the Ripple Effect, he probably had changed the world almost as much as the others. "Thank you."

"Preventing world wars?" Jack asked Frank.

"A few times. My first assignment was preventing President Maxwell's assassination by Chechnyan terrorists. As a matter of fact, I helped save Maxwell's butt a number of times."

"Funny, he never mentioned you."

Jarod had to smile at the exchange. "Burgers are done!" he announced.

"Yeah, like you've talked to him. Frank wasn't going to let go despite being pulled away by Miss Parker.

"Hello! Hotline to the Oval Office on my desk!"

Daniel took a plate and shoved it into Jack's hands. "You've both saved the world a number of times over. I think we can leave it at that."

"Daniel's right," said Sam. There's no need to compare notes."

"I can't believe that-sometimes-the fate of the world rests in his hands," muttered Jack.

"Then why are you going to make him an offer?"

"What?" Jack looked at Jarod as if he had grown another head.

"It's obvious that's what you want to do." Jarod took a bite of his burger. "You asked me."

"What offer?" Frank questioned.

"I, too, would like to know."

Five pairs of eyes looked at Jack, who in turn, faced Jarod who feigned innocence at what he had started. "All right," he broke down. "I thought of forming an SG team made up of people with the Ancient gene."

"And if the team gets captured..." Sam let it go unfinished.

"I didn't say it was a good idea."

"Jack has offered me a place to hide should I need it, a sanctuary, if you will. In exchange, I assist when they need someone else with the Ancient gene." He purposely left out the fact that Jack had known his father.

"So, you're looking for allies," said Miss Parker.

"You could say that," Daniel replied.

"I believe she just has."

"Teal'c, always so literal. I thought you would've caught on by now." Jack looked over his plate at Frank. "So, whaddya say?"

"Say to what? You haven't offered anything yet." Frank was seeming to enjoy Jack's discomfort.

"Gen. O'Neill, I know it's a bit much to comprehend, but Frank is central to every mission." Miss Parker was fond of backhanded compliments. It retained her need for insults. "He can't be gone for any prolonged period of time. Even this is pushing it."

"OK, let's say I can arrange things with...Talmadge?" Frank nodded. "Would you be willing to give us a hand?"

"And I could call on you if *I* need help?"

"Sure. If I can do it, I will help."

"If you can get Talmadge and the Board to agree, you've got yourself a deal." He raised his beer bottle.

Jack did the same.

"I'd like to make a toast," Jarod said, standing.

The others stood as well.

"To friends, new and old. May this extended family expand even further."

"Hear, hear," said Daniel.

The bottles clinked as they met and everyone took a deep drink of beer. Jarod meant his toast. As long as the network of connections extended, they would soon have every region of the country covered. As long as he had friends, he would never be alone. And neither would they. That was the key to everything.









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