Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
"Carter!" Jack's voice was soft, but desperate.
Carter turned from where she had been scrounging through Daniel's pack for any other medical supplies. They were going to need everything they had if they were going to get the Colonel home. She thought she had the bleeding stopped, at least for the time being, but he had lost a lot on their retreat. They had been attacked as soon as they left the `gate by energy weapons and something like MP-5s. Obviously this planet was on a level with their own. But she'd think about that later. Now, the Colonel needed her attention.
She scrambled over to where he was lying on his side and bent low to hear him. "Sir?"
"Tie my hands."
Jack struggled to speak, "Tie my hands and my feet, Carter. Now." How could he make her understand? He couldn't get enough words out to explain. But Carter would follow his orders.
"Tie `em! Tight! I can't..." The pain was overwhelming. The injury to his back was nothing compared with the pain of fighting to speak.
Mind control. He'd had more than his share, on Earth and out here. They say they can train you to fight it, but they can't, not really, because you never know what form it's going to take. This one was new to him. And it hurt like crazy to resist. All he wanted to do was hurt Carter. He felt a desperate need to kill his team. He'd start with Carter, she was closest, and military, most likely to resist. Then Daniel, and then he'd take Teal'c by surprise when he returned. Images flooded his mind of them suffering and dying in several different ways at his hands.
He welcomed the images only because he could recognize how awful they were, how painful to his heart and soul, and they helped him fight the growing urges that were threatening to overpower him.
He opened his eyes to see Carter studying him, weighing her options, measuring his words.
Just then Sam was distracted by Teal'c's return to the small shelter where they had taken refuge from their pursuers. He had someone with him, but that thought had barely registered when something large and hard slammed into her forcing her back against the wall, pinning her there with his hands around her throat. It was Jack.
She couldn't breathe. She hated to fight him, knowing how gravely injured he was, but she was beginning to see spots. Vaguely she could hear Daniel shouting at Jack, trying to pry his arms away. Then her eyes locked with Jack's and she saw the desperation there, the fear, horror even. "Stop me. Please." He whispered, begging her to hurt him, to fight him off.
Teal'c had no reservations, but came up behind Jack and punched him directly in the wound in his back. Jack collapsed to the floor, gasping for breath. Daniel grabbed Sam and helped her sit on a low bench that was against the wall. Teal'c took Jack's shoulders and dragged him across the room where he methodically began to tie his hands and feet.
"Thanks," was all Jack managed to whisper before he passed out.
"Ohhh-kay, can someone explain to me what just happened? Did Jack just go crazy and try to kill Sam?" Daniel was offering her some water from his canteen.
"You are not far wrong, DanielJackson." Teal'c spoke from where he was finishing the knots on Jack's feet. He gestured at the young man who cringed next to the door, "This is Kell. He wishes to assist us."
"I am sorry," Kell stuttered, as he slowly crossed the room towards them, "It is not his fault. The technology inside him is very powerful. I have seen families turn on their children. It is truly a terrible thing. It is amazing he resisted as well as he did, from what Teal'c shared with me about your friend..."
"Resisted?" Daniel was incredulous, "That didn't look like resisting to me!"
"From what I was told on the way here, I expected to find you both dead, if not dismembered. This technology was specifically designed to bring out the absolute worst in a highly trained soldier. I understand O'Neill is such a man?"
"Yeah," Sam managed to croak as she moved over to check the Colonel's bandages, "Tell me more about this technology. How do we stop it?" She rubbed her throat; where the bruises were beginning to darken.
"I tried..." Kell said, "When he was hit, I shot him with my energy weapon. If the projectile is not too deep, the energy from the weapon is enough to disrupt the `controllers.' Unfortunately, the projectile was fired from quite close range, and I only succeeded in injuring him further." Kell's discomfort was evident.
Sam was only interested in how to stop it. "So let me see if I understand this: A `projectile' is fired into the body, where it releases these `controllers' into the bloodstream?"
Kell nodded, "Once released, they travel to the spinal column and the brain where they access specific centers: memory first, to determine the targets. The controllers are programmed to find those in the victim's memory who would be a threat, or lacking that, whoever is closest to the victim."
Daniel whistled, "All of a sudden, I'm glad Jack doesn't see me as much of a threat."
Kell continued, "Secondly they search for any knowledge of violent behavior, and activate that knowledge. I am told they cause an overwhelming desire to act out the worst possible violence against the chosen target or targets. And they give greater strength and agility to carry out that violence. Finally, they are able to cause great pain if the victim tries to resist."
"But an electric charge will disrupt them?" Sam asked, gesturing towards her zat.
"An electric charge can deactivate them but only before they reach the nervous system. I am afraid it is too late for your friend."
Sam stared hard at Kell. "That's unacceptable."
"We cannot stay here much longer," said Teal'c, "Our recent activity will have alerted the soldiers to our position"
"I still think we should try to talk to them. We never had a chance to explain who we were. If they understand that we're peaceful travelers..."
"I don't know, Daniel, they didn't seem too interested in talking." Sam looked at him doubtfully.
"It would be the quickest way to get Jack back through the stargate."
"No! I cannot believe you are even considering this. My people are at war. They no longer believe there is anyone neutral. If you approach them they will kill you. Or worse, they'll fire the projectiles into you and you will die killing each other. Come, we must go." Kell heads to the door, but pauses as Daniel and Teal'c go to carry Jack. "You should leave him. Understand that he is no longer your friend, but an enemy who will do everything in his power to kill you."
"We will not leave him." Teal'c answers for them all.
Consciousness returned to Jack suddenly. He had the immediate sense that he was surrounded by enemies and tried to come up fighting, only to find his hands and feet bound. He struggled against the ropes.
He felt pain in his back, but it was dull. Mostly he felt anger, these `enemies' had to be destroyed.
"O'Neill! Major Carter has only just finished rebandaging your injury. You must be still."
He couldn't get out of the ropes. They had been expertly tied. Instead he lay on his side and took stock of his surroundings. They were sheltered against some fallen trees. Four people sat nearby, alert, hands on weapons; enemies. Enemies he must kill.
One of them, the woman, knelt in front of him. "Colonel? Can you hear me?"
He looked at her, knew her. "Carter?" But instantly his head filled with pain so intense he tried to squirm away from it, to bury his head in the cool dirt.
Kell shook his head sadly. "It pains him to recognize you as anything other than an enemy."
Sam winced and moved away.
"Here's a question - why are you helping us? Does anybody else wonder why he's helping us?" Daniel asked.
"Because I believe you are truly neutral and because I am ashamed. I was the lead scientist who developed this technology." Kell paused. "Please understand it was intended for peaceful purposes! Imagine the poor and homeless being given knowledge and abilities that would allow them to contribute meaningfully to society. The sick being given something that can search out their illness and cure it?! It was a wonderful breakthrough!"
"I was working with government funding. That gave them control and they took my invention and twisted it. They claimed it was saving lives because they only had to shoot a few of these into the enemy and they would turn on each other. Battles are over very quickly... But war wages on."
"Mmm we've had similar experiences on our world." Sam turned to Kell, "You must find a way to neutralize this weapon. Tell me everything you can about your invention."
As Kell and Sam moved off together discussing technologies, Daniel moved over to where Teal'c was guarding Jack. "Is there anything we can do to stop this?"
"I believe the best thing we can do is keep O'Neill from hurting anyone. We must also cease attempts to have him recognise us as it causes him great pain."
The need to escape from his bonds consumed him. Jack twisted his wrists continually. He had escaped from expert knots before, and soon he felt a slight loosening. As soon as he was free he would escape. He couldn't fight the Jaffa wounded, coming up from the ground. But he was stronger than they thought. He would get into the forest and use all he knew to hunt them. There! His hands were free. He moaned and curled into a ball pretending to be in worse pain than he was. As Daniel moved over to him he quickly slipped the ropes off his feet, shoved Daniel into Teal'c and ran into the forest.
Sam returned at the sound to find Teal'c helping up a very bewildered Daniel. "Where's the Colonel?"
"Oh, he decided he had some errands to run - headed to the corner store." Daniel gestured in the direction Jack had taken.
Kell crouched down, afraid, "What warrior skill does he possess? He will hunt us. He cannot help it."
Teal'c raised an eyebrow, "Kell, where are your nearest forces located?"
"They are at the stargate and I am sure a smaller group tracks us now."
"There is a time honored ritual on Chulak, one of the final steps in a young Jaffa's training. Two Jaffa are sent out into the woods to hunt each other. I will pursue O'Neill. You will remain here, to deal with the smaller force, as I lead him away."
"Aaaand what if he finds you?" Daniel wanted to know.
"I am confident that Major Carter and Kell will come up with a solution before any violent action occurs. I will attempt to maintain a game of dog and rabbit until they are successful."
"Cat and mouse, Teal'c, Cat and mouse." But Teal'c had already disappeared into the forest.
Teal'c was coming. He knew the name. Now that he was hunting it no longer hurt him to remember the names. Except the woman, it hurt to think about her, so he pushed the thought away, and concentrated on the sounds. The Jaffa moved almost silently, but Jack knew where he was. He would break Teal'c's neck with his bare hands. He knew just where to hold, where to apply pressure, and he was well trained in defeating someone larger and stronger than himself. But the sounds stopped. He no longer knew where Teal'c was. He began to move stealthily. The hunt was on.
"...But will a zat still incapacitate him?" Sam was asking Kell.
"Let me see your `zat'" Kell dismantles and examines it. "One for stun, two for kill?"
"Yes, but with the controllers in his system you will need more power. Two for stun, three for kill."
"Are you sure? He's weak from loss of blood..."
Daniel was intently watching the forest, "It's been hours, where do you suppose they are?"
Sam looked up from the weapon, "I'd guess Teal'c's keeping him busy. I'm just glad we were able to evade the soldiers. That gives us a little leeway." She puts her zat back together. "I guess we better signal Teal'c to lead him back, now that we have a plan."
Daniel pulls a face, "a plan... yeah, we have a `plan'!"
Sam activates her com, the soft click signaling Teal'c they were ready.
Jack had become easy to track as his wound opened and he bled. Teal'c began leaving marks himself, slowly and carefully leading Jack back to the rest of the team. It had been a difficult two hours. He had worked hard at keeping Jack on his trail and not on the others'. He had to let Jack get close enough to keep him interested, but not close enough to engage. He did not want to fight with his friend as deadly enemies. He knew Jack was in full warrior mode, every sense alert. He hoped DanielJackson and MajorCarter knew what was coming towards them. Carter had some idea of who Jack really was, but Daniel would be unprepared. It would be a fine balance to maintain.
Just before they came into view, Teal'c made a `mistake' and put himself directly in Jack's line of sight. Jack almost walked right into their ambush. He sensed it just before he was in Sam's line of fire, pivoted around quickly and grabbed Daniel, ready to snap his neck. Sam zatted them just in time, which only served to make Daniel limp, dead weight in Jack's arms. Jack dropped Daniel and reached for his knife. He had his arm drawn back to throw before Sam managed to zat him the second time.
Sam let out the breath she had been holding as Jack slumped on top of Daniel's twitching form. "Whew! That was close!"
"Indeed" Teal'c was more relieved than he let on as he went to carry Jack. "We must move. The small force Kell spoke of is only a short distance away."
Kell and Sam each threw one of Daniel's arms over a shoulder and they silently retreated into the forest.
Teal'c stopped some time later behind an outcropping of rocks. They were surrounded on three sides by rock. Teal'c set Jack against the rocks and set himself on watch. The trail they had left would be easy to follow, even though Daniel was now moving mostly under his own power. They had to rest for a moment, and he suspected O'Neill's wound needed attention.
Daniel was moaning and holding his head as Sam and Kell helped him sit beside Jack, but he instinctively slid sideways away from Jack. "I'd not care to have Jack's hands on my head ever again! That was...disconcerting... Thanks, Sam."
Sam nodded at Daniel as Teal'c spoke from his lookout. "You must tend to Colonel O'Neill's wound. It was bleeding quite freely in the forest."
Sam cringed as she removed the blood soaked bandage from Jack's back. "How is he still able to move?" She asked Kell.
Kell shrugged, "He doesn't feel it. The controllers are doing exactly that. They will `control' him to death."
"We've got to get him to your lab, Kell, soon."
"What are your intentions, MajorCarter?" Teal'c's eyes never left the surrounding forest.
"Kell tells me the original projectile remains as a power source for the controllers. They have their own power, but it's minimal. If I can remove the projectile, we may be able to deactivate the controllers completely. At the very least, they will have much less power."
"Without the projectile as a power source, they will turn to the electrical impulses produced by the victim's nervous system." Kell added.
"And those only stop when Jack's dead..."
"It's not going to come to that, Daniel."
Sam had just finished applying a new bandage, when Teal'c stood and began firing into the forest. Projectiles and energy weapons flew around them as Sam threw herself against a rock next to Teal'c and returned fire. They were outnumbered.
"Kell! We've got to get to your lab! Now!"
This time it was Daniel who threw Jack over his shoulder and followed Kell into the woods as Teal'c and Sam laid down cover fire.
"It is not far now. My lab is right on the edge of the forest."
There was a wide empty field between the last of the trees and the door to Kell's lab. Sam covered Daniel as they crossed the space, followed by Teal'c and Kell who was now also firing his weapon.
"They will know where we are. This door will not hold them for long." Kell shouted as he entered the combination to open the door.
"We'll see about that! Teal'c! Secure this entry!" commanded Sam as she followed Daniel and Kell into the darkness of the lab.
As soon as they were in the lab the lights came on automatically as Kell swept several smaller machines and papers onto the floor to clear a table for Jack. Daniel laid him down on his stomach, as Sam immediately began removing the dressing. Kell quickly sterilized a long handled tongs and handed them to Sam. "This is what I use to grasp the projectiles when I run tests. It is the perfect size. I just hope it is long enough."
He handed her a bottle of alcohol which she poured liberally into the wound. Jack twitched, but did not wake up. Teal'c entered the room to report, "I have secured every entry point as well as possible, but we will not have much time."
Sam paused, holding the tongs over Jack. She looked across his still form at Teal'c. He nodded at her with his eternally calm face, and she bent to insert the tongs into Jack's wound.
Daniel had found a clean cloth which he was using to wipe Sam's forehead. "They sure didn't teach us this in flight school! Janet's gotta give me a little more involved training next time. I have no idea what I'm doing. Can't see a thing... wait! I can feel it! Now if I can just..." She slowly removed the tongs from Jacks wound. "There it is!" she cried triumphantly.
Kell held out a small tray into which Sam dropped the bloody projectile. He ran it over to a machine, dropped it into a small compartment and pushed a button. "It is destroyed. Now you must zat him before the controllers lock onto their new power source."
Daniel protested; "That'll kill him!!"
Kell looked at Sam, who drew her zat and pointed it at Jack.
"You already shot him twice, Sam, are you sure?"
Sam's voice sounded hopeless, "No." And she fired.
An hour later, Sam, Daniel, and Kell are in the lab. Sam is checking Jack's pulse for the hundredth time. "When will we know if it worked?"
Before Kell can answer, Teal'c returns from his rounds. "We are surrounded. They are preparing a full attack on the main entrance. We have thirty minutes, at most. What is O'Neill's condition?"
It was Kell who answered, "He lives. We will not know if we were successful until he wakes and either tries to kill us or not. I cannot convince Major Carter to restrain him."
What they didn't know, was that Jack had been awake for awhile. He was biding his time until he could attack, using the element of surprise to his greatest advantage. Once their attention was focused on the Jaffa he moved.
Thankfully, Sam had taken the precaution of putting all their weapons just out of reach, so Jack had nothing but his bare hands. He threw a punch at Daniel's jaw, knocking the archaeologist to the floor, and reached for Carter. He didn't realize it yet, but he was not nearly as strong as he had been, and Sam was able to restrain him before he did any further damage. Teal'c helped her push him into a sitting position while Kell found some electrical cord with which to bind his hands and feet. Jack struggled furiously against them.
"Colonel! Stand down!" shouted Sam. "Colonel!"
That voice. He knew that voice. He had to fight the pain. "Carter!"
She knelt before him, took his face in her hands as Teal'c's powerful hands kept his butt on the floor. "Colonel. Jack! It's me, Carter!"
Jack moaned and tried to turn his head away.
"Sam, don't, it's hurting him."
"No." A weak voice comes from Jack, "the pain helps... gotta fight it. I mean, you guys get annoying sometimes, but this is ridiculous. Can't I... "He pauses for breath, "change enemies?"
Teal'c raised an eyebrow. Sam cracked a small smile at Jack and shook her head. How does he do that? He relies on me for all this technical knowledge, but when we're out of options he always manages to come up with something.
"Reprogram them?" Kell looked doubtful, "I never thought... Maybe if I... hmm."
Kell and Sam move to a computer and Sam bends over his shoulder as he begins to type quickly.
"Daniel, talk to me. If I know you I won't hurt you."
"Well, thanks for that, Jack." Daniel rubs his jaw, "I'd prefer that to be honest. Not hurting is good. I like you not hurting me. You had us worried there for awhile. How's your back?"
Jack doesn't answer, just focuses on Daniel's face.
"It's a pretty nasty wound, y'know. I mean, actually you probably don't know since those... `Controllers' are working you pretty hard. But you should really quit playing soldier and relax. You can be a real pain you know. You've been causing us nothing but trouble since we got here! Even Teal'c is losing patience with you. And you know how hard it is to crack that faade! Remember when we..." Daniel rattles on, telling Jack stories, trying to keep him connected.
"...But how do we access them remotely?" Kell asks Sam.
"Surely you have some means of projecting information electronically" Kell nods at Sam, "Then we just need to reconfigure it to send the information you're downloading..."
Jack's eyes are sliding closed, as the pain and weakness overcome him.
"We've got it!" Sam cries triumphantly.
"I am initiating the beam now." Kell flips a switch.
Jack leans back against the wall and stares at nothing, his head nodding slowly.
An electronic whine fades as Jack's eyes slowly close. At the same moment an explosion rocks the building. The soldiers have begun their assault on the entrance.
"Carter!" Jack's voice is strong now as he climbs to his feet, "I need the power source!"
"We destroyed it. Kell?"
"Major Carter, are you sure this is not a trick?" Kell asks as he moves toward a cabinet.
Sam locks eyes with Jack for only a moment. Jack makes an impatient gesture, `whatcha waitin'for?' Sam turns to Kell. "Bring a replacement power source."
Kell hands another projectile tentatively to Jack and backs away.
Jack slips the power source into his breast pocket and takes a deep breath as he feels strength flow back into his limbs. "Oooh yeah, that's nice. I need one of these next time I pull an all nighter. Better than coffee!" He begins choosing weapons from the pile on the table, "I'm sending Teal'c back to you. Once the entrance is clear, cover my six at 50 yards. I'll head to the stargate." He looks at Kell, "You comin' with us?"
"I have no choice. I am a traitor to my people."
"We'll be glad to have you. The more the merrier!" Jack finishes arming himself and moves out of the room.
"Are we really going to let him do that?" Daniel is looking at Sam like she's crazier than Jack. When she throws him a look he asks, "Why?"
"One," Sam is gathering up the rest of their weapons tossing some to Daniel and some to Kell, "One of our main goals is to develop relations with planets just like this one. If Jack does what he's about to do as a direct result of their own weapons, we can come back someday and have a negotiating leg to stand on."
"Pretty weak. Two?"
"I don't think we can stop him."
Daniel rolls his eyes, "And three?"
Sam cocks a gun, "Because he can."
Sam and Teal'c leave the building, firing at the soldiers who are coming from around the building. No one is left in front of them. Daniel and Kell bring up the rear, watching for any pursuit.
A hundred yards from the building Sam and Teal'c glance at each other when they hear the noise of a fire fight from the direction of the stargate. Sam nods at him and he puts on a burst of speed, while Sam pauses for Daniel and Kell to catch up.
Sam and Daniel approach the Stargate assisting Kell who has taken an energy blast to his leg. They pause as the gate comes into view. Jack is sitting calmly on the bottom step, although bleeding from a couple new wounds. There are several bodies littering the area. Daniel tries not to look at them. The rest of the force has retreated. Sam leaves Kell to Daniel and runs forward. She checks his wounds, mostly to ensure he has not been hit by another projectile.
Jack makes a face, "Don't worry Carter, I'm as sane as usual. Which, granted, isn't saying much. Teal'c's over there clicking his heels together." He gestured vaguely at Teal'c who was at the DHD entering the address for earth.
Sam looks around, "What did you do?!"
Instead of answering, Jack reaches into his pocket, "Here, I don't need this anymore." He hands her the projectile, and then produces some rope. "You better make sure, just in case."
"Yes sir," Sam tosses the projectile away, takes the rope and binds his raw wrists again,
"OW! Carter!!" He lies back onto the ground as he feels the weakness return.
Jack looks pointedly at the bruises on her throat, and into her eyes. She looks at him and rests her hand on his shoulder. With a small smile she gives the rope one more yank, causing Jack to make a face at her, "So... we're even."
Sam smiles as she helps him to his feet.
"You're gonna find a way to shut these `conundrums' down all the way, right, Major? Because they're annoying as all getout!" The `gate kawooshes open.
Sam cocks her head, "Already got a couple ideas, sir."
"Wanna hear about `em?"
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