o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Three months after seeing Daniel for the first time telling her
how to use Goa'uld tech and reapply conventional Earth physics laws to adapt and make it all work, Major Samantha Carter realised
that she was only just beginning to realise that things were beginning to fall apart at the seams.
The SGC was operating in nothing but name any more, at least
not in the way it had before SG-1's first encounter with Shifu in the Abydonian desert. The SG teams' sole focus now was the
retrieval of raw naquada. Daniel had even been "kind" enough to supply Colonel O'Neill and General Hammond with the co-ordinates
of at least three dozen Stargate planets, the majority of them in turn were highly guarded Goa'uld bases. Teal'c and SG-13
had been the first casualties, although Captain Maxwell and Lieutenant Harvey had survived long enough to make it to the SGC's
After that, the deaths and near-death injuries had been coming
pretty thick and fast - but instead of bemoaning the injuries and sympathising with the deceased’s families as they
had done in the past, the SGC and Pentagon had used the kind of language politicians used, describing the fallen as just that.
Fallen in the line of duty, serving some greater good.
Sam had actually believed that in the beginning. Then again,
in the beginning, when Shifu had done the inexplicable and passed on his "birthright" of the Goa'uld knowledge to Daniel without
regaining the repressed memories himself, Sam had believed that going along with Daniel's plans was the right thing to do.
How could it not be that?
Okay, so she still missed Teal'c like hell - O'Neill hadn't been
the same since, and Sam was fairly certain that even Daniel regretted making the decision to send his team mate to P9X-931
to retrieve the naquada. But still...
Maybe she was just being shrewish, but sometimes she wasn't so
certain any more.
Sam hated having to think about that kind of thing - because
hello, this was Daniel she was talking about here, and there was no way Daniel would do anything like this at all. He'd have
been the first person protesting to all and sundry that something very, very wrong was going on, and why wasn't anybody doing
anything about it?
But he had changed. There was no denying that, no denying that
at all, and it was the change itself - or maybe the process of it - that had Sam the most worried, perhaps more than anything
else. Daniel had shown barely any more concern for Teal'c's demise than the pen-pushers from Washington had. But then again
Sam, like everyone else, had been burying any of even the smallest doubts by burying herself in her work.
It was by unspoken consensus that SG-1 had ceased to operate
following Teal'c's death. Daniel's role was, of course, obvious. He was the one snatching the ancestral knowledge of the Goa'uld
in order to create this orbital defence system, and Sam knew she would be lying if she claimed to even understand half the
equations going into the system's planning and construction. In the eyes of the Pentagon - at long last, almost - Doctor Daniel
Jackson could do no wrong. He had at least two or three personal assistants the last time Sam had checked, the flunky type
bred within the Pentagon's walls following him around with sheaves of paperwork and scribbled English approximations of the
Goa'uld specs in his head.
O'Neill had reluctantly taken up the job of overseeing naquada
retrieval after Teal'c's death. He'd carried out his - Daniel's - orders with the barest minimum of grace, just enough to
keep straddling the thin line between his usual self and outright insubordination. Because, after all, Daniel was the new
favourite of the Joint Chiefs and every other high ranking official now involved with the Stargate Program... and O'Neill
had given up teasing his friend a long time before.
And Sam herself was currently head of the small subdivision of
physicists whose primary task was translating Daniel's specs into workable equations and formulae before the so-called "private
sector" started actual construction - to which there was of course a very tight deadline. Again, she'd be kidding herself
is she thought the job was easy - it felt more like the bomb she'd been forced to design for General Bauer was constantly
having to be constructed and reconstructed every waking hour of her day, and she and her small team still weren't getting
very far. At least, not very far in the way that Daniel was expecting them to get.
She missed it, though. Missed the way O'Neill used to be around
Daniel, more like an older brother than a CO most of the time. Missed the inexplicable feeling of calm and comfort that settled
around her stomach whenever Teal'c was in the same room, knowing there was nothing he wouldn't do to protect and aid his fellow
SG-1 team members.
Dammit, Sam missed SG-1. And the more often she spared herself
some precious time to think about it, the more Sam suspected that the person now inhabiting Daniel's mind and body was intentionally
destroying the SG-1 team from within lest they work together and figure out...
Startled, Sam looked up from the sheets of numbers and symbols
laid out on the table in front of her. There was a split second of perfect self-doubt before she spotted Daniel, oh-so-casually
leaning against the doorframe of the small laboratory. He was wearing a grey suit and white shirt, holding the jacket in his
"Daniel!" Sam blurted before composing herself. "Uh... what are
you doing here?"
Daniel shrugged. He stepped right into the lab, letting the door
slam shut behind him. "General Vidrine's hosting a soiree at the country club his wife belongs to," he explained bluntly,
his pronunciation of the French word slightly off - as if that was the thing Sam was concerned most about at the moment. "I
thought you might like to come."
"Uh..." Sam stared at Daniel for a moment, then back down to
the mess of papers on the table. "I don't think that's such a good idea," she said slowly. Although she didn't look back up,
she somehow knew that the archaeologist was staring intently at her.
"Well... why not?" Daniel asked, and all of a sudden he sounded
like an insolent teenager rather than the grown academic he actually was - or was supposed to be, Sam mentally amended.
"Why not?" Sam found herself repeating, almost incredulously.
She finally looked up, and met Daniel's stare head on. "You're the one who practically demanded my team have these formulae
worked out before the end of the week. You're the one who -"
Daniel took a step closer to her. "Sam," he began soothingly,
tossing his jacket carelessly on top of the papers and placing his hands on her arms, holding her still, "I'm sorry about
that, I really am. I've had you working too hard these last few weeks, and I know this hasn't been easy for any of us; you,
myself and Jack included."
Um... Sam couldn't say anything - couldn't make herself say anything
to that. Instead she settled for staying silent and staring back up at Daniel.
He obviously took her silence as some kind of affirmation to
his words; the next out of his mouth were: "It'll do you good, Sam. Get you out of this laboratory for a few hours; meet some
of the private investors for the Anti-Goa'uld systems you're helping to build."
Well, when he put it that way... "Sure I'll come," Sam replied,
wondering if there was someone else left in the mountain she could bribe to page her at the earliest and least suspicious
point to get her out of this.
"And don't forget to leave your cell and pager behind," Daniel
gently chided her, though his tone was faintly mocking - inwardly Sam reeled. Since when had Daniel become a mind-reader?
"I want you out of the mountain for at least three or four hours tonight!"
Sighing, Sam nodded, already accepting the inevitable. Still
not freed yet from Daniel's surprisingly tight grasp, she used her eyes to look around the lab for the car keys.
"Come on," Daniel continued, finally releasing Sam's shoulders
and taking a step backward at the same time. He scooped his jacket up from the table, and didn't even react when the movement
pulled all the loose sheets of equations onto the floor. "You don't even have to drive. I'll have someone drop you to your
house to change out of those things, then bring you to the country club."
Sam had to forcibly clamp down on her reaction to that, instead
resigning herself to looking around the lab again - properly, this time - making sure that everything was in order. It was,
of course, aside from the sheets on the floor, of course, but what she couldn't figure out was why she hesitated in kneeling
down to pick them back up again. Probably because reorganising them into some kind of working order would take time, and Daniel
was apparently running on his own schedule at the moment; it was one he clearly hadn't "deigned" to share with those lesser
mortals lucky enough not to have the genetic memory of the Goa'uld in their brain. Well, lucky in Sam's opinion.
Either way - luck or no luck - ninety-three and a half minutes
later Sam found herself standing beside the plain dark grey car with the black tinted windows outside a building the signposts
had called "Wintermere's Golf and Country Club". The civilian who had driven her there barely spared Sam or the club second
glances before getting back into the car and vanishing out of the car park, essentially leaving her stranded. Up through the
covered windows, Daniel's soiree seemed to be in full swing.
And speak of the devil... And there was Daniel, standing by the main doors into the club, wearing what Sam thought was a different suit to the
one he'd had on in her lab, although from this distance she couldn't tell. It was only then that Sam realised she was still
standing in the middle of the car park - and it was beginning to get cold. More out of necessity than desire, she went over
to join Daniel.
"You, Major Carter, look lovely," Daniel said slyly, tossing
her a sidelong look even as he opened the door to let Sam walk in first. She did so, without looking back at him. It had taken
her all of two minutes to decide on what she would be wearing tonight; a knee-length dark blue dress with three quarter-length
sleeves. Simple, effective and largely unobtrusive.
Once inside, Daniel took Sam by the arm - taking her by surprise
as well - and steered her through the first few reception rooms of the club. Occasionally Sam caught him glancing briefly
at her, but Daniel didn't say anything, and - feeling more and more awkward about the situation and increasingly wishing she'd
turned the invitation down - Sam stayed silent as well.
The club's function room was a desperate swirl of bustle and
activity, with people everywhere talking amongst themselves, in pairs and small groups. Before Sam could take too much of
it again, Daniel had yet another iron-tight grasp on her right arm and was pulling her into the thick of the crowd. Here and
there Sam caught flashes of people she recognised, mostly senior Air Force officers and politicians her dad had had to associate
with before he'd become a Tok'ra.
Eventually Daniel stopped at a group of four people, bringing
Sam in line to stand directly next to him. She instantly recognised General Vidrine, along with a woman who could only have
been his wife. The other two men she didn't know, though - and Daniel was quick to pick up on this hesitation.
That - or something else.
"Right - General Vidrine and Mrs Vidrine you obviously know already,"
Daniel began, motioning to the general and his wife. He then turned to the two others in the group. "And this is Doctor Christoph
Dieckmann and Mister Alan Tompkin, they're two of the private contractors who'll be overseeing the actual construction of
the AG systems."
"Doctor Carter," Dieckmann said in a thick German accent, holding
his hand out to Sam, "it is so good to finally meet this naquada genius!"
"Uh..." Sam slowly shook the proffered hand. "It's Major Carter,
"Really?" Dieckmann asked. "It was never mentioned you were military
Really? Except that this time, Sam kept her reaction completely
to herself, instead going for the simple combination of smile and slight head duck. "It probably wasn't absolutely necessary
to mention," she replied modestly, her smile growing when Dieckmann's widened also. No matter what the ongoing reports regarding
the contraction to the private sector for the AG system's construction said, Sam still felt more than just slightly hesitant
discussing elements of the Stargate Program with outsiders. Daniel, on the other hand, appeared to have no such qualms, and
on Sam's other side had already engaged Tompkin in some kind of conversation - the volume of general noise in the function
room was loud enough that Sam could barely make out what the two men were discussing, even from the distance of just a few
Dieckmann obviously sensed this as well; the next thing Sam registered
was his hand on her arm as well as the fact that he had stepped in closer to her. "Perhaps is we want to talk, somewhere else
would be better?"
"Sure," Sam found herself agreeing. Following him to a free patch
of wall closer to the main entrance, she still couldn't shake the feeling Daniel was watching her again. When Dieckmann stopped
and turned back to face her, Sam paused for a moment. "So... how are you finding it, working with the refined naquada?" she
His face lit up, and for the next five, maybe ten minutes Sam
let herself be absorbed into some intelligent conversation with someone who was obviously right up at the very top of his
game - and if she was being honest with herself, Sam also found it refreshing to be able to talk to somebody new about the
intricacies of refining raw naquada. Colonel O'Neill was fun enough in playing along for the first few minutes, but his eyes
still tended to glaze over eventually.
And as Sam started to gently press for more details about Dieckmann's
connections to the extended version of the Stargate Program, a few more pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place. It
was actually pretty obvious. The way Dieckmann had been describing it, the company he was associated with had only been contracted
to do one part of the actual en masse refining of the raw naquada - this Sam knew because she also knew the exact amount of
raw material Earth currently had stockpiled. Doctor Dieckmann, on the other hand, was apparently under the impression that
his company would be handling the full amount of raw naquada.
Heck, he wouldn't even be seeing a quarter of it.
Which meant that he'd been misled about the amounts of naquada
required to power this kind of anti Goa'uld orbital system. Which in turn meant that someone, somewhere, was doing their damned
best to keep people from knowing exactly what was going on with the construction of the Anti-Goa'uld systems... and although
she hated to admit it, Sam had a fairly good idea of who that someone was.
She hated to admit it because admitting it meant that she was
actually acknowledging that the changes in Daniel over the last few months were absolutely anything other than beneficial
to Earth's future. It meant acknowledging that he was deliberately misleading the very people he'd originally set out to try
and protect - pretty much the whole of humanity, but the people now involved with the wider scope of the SGC was a much better,
more localised example... the people in this room.
The people in this function room of some delightfully obscure
yet exclusive country club, the vast majority of whom were supposed to be equal to the original SGC staff, for the
"Is there problem, Major Carter?" Dieckmann asked, breaking Sam's
train of thought. He placed a hand on her arm and peered at her from behind his glasses. "You seem distracted with something."
Sam blinked up at him, and wondered how much time had gone by
without her realising before nodding at Dieckmann, and smiling with what she hoped was an apologetic look. She started to
say something else, but was interrupted by the sound of static and coughing at the other end of the function room.
It was Daniel. Daniel, tapping almost impatiently on a stand-based
microphone in front of him and trying to get it working. After a couple of seconds the feedback loop stopped; Daniel tapped
the head of the microphone once, and then spoke into it. "Hello? Hello, can everyone hear me?"
Almost immediately everybody in the function room fell silent,
and all attention in the room was focused on Daniel; he seemed wholly unfazed by this, audibly clearing his throat as he waited
for the last of the chattering to die down completely. "First of all, I'd like to thank you all for coming tonight," he announced
straight off the bat, looking around the room as he spoke. "It's good to see so many people with the same aims for humanity
in the same room without wanting to kill each other." He smiled slightly, and a ripple of polite laughter went through the
Sam didn't find herself smiling, though, and at a glance beside
her, neither was Dieckmann. Both of them kept watching Daniel regardless, though perhaps with slightly different motivations.
Sam was still more interested in finding out just what this whole evening was about - somehow, the idea of champagne and 'nibbles'
didn't quite cut the mustard as far as she was concerned.
Because Daniel wasn't the kind of person who'd do something like
this, even for his peers back in the academic world he'd left behind four years ago.
But then again, Sam thought, Daniel wasn't the kind of person
who'd do a lot of the things she'd been seeing and hearing about over the last three months or so. And it all came back to
the Harcesis child. Everything came back to Shifu and what he'd done to Daniel in the VIP room of the SGC.
And all of a sudden, Sam thought she knew what was going on with
Daniel, what had happened to him, what had *been* happening to him in the last three months. Everything came back to Shifu,
which meant that everything came back to the genetic memory of the Goa'ulds that the boy had transmitted to Daniel's mind.
And hadn't it been Daniel in the beginning who had told General Hammond and the others that allowing the Tok'ra to unlock
Shifu's repressed memories would be like unleashing a thousand Hitlers onto the boy's mind?
Something like that didn't change just because it was Daniel's
mind the memories now inhabited. Evil was still evil, no matter where and how it was manifested.
The thought was chilling, and Sam couldn't help but shiver. The
motion was noticed by Dieckmann, who promptly took off his jacket and wrapped it around Sam's shoulders; she didn't protest
to the treatment, couldn't even work up enough effort to speak to him; just nodded her thanks to him instead. At the other
end of the function room, Sam dimly registered Daniel still addressing the crowd through the microphone, though occasionally
glancing her way - and Sam thought his face darkened ever so slightly when Dieckmann placed his jacket around her shoulders
to keep her warm.
Sam just stood there. Dieckmann's gesture - however thoughtful
- hadn't worked, she was still cold. But she was cold on the inside, and the longer she looked at Daniel the colder the feeling
in the pit of her stomach got.
Abruptly she turned and walked to the main doors of the function
room, trying not to push past too many people on the way. She knew without looking back that Daniel was staring at her, and
that Dieckmann was following her as fast as he could.
Finally Sam made it out to the fresh air of the car park and
let out a deep breath, leaning back against one of the faux-Greek pillars either side of the doors. It wasn't until a few
long, quiet seconds had gone by that she realised that Dieckmann hadn't followed her after all.
It was Daniel.
He was standing there, opposite her, and although it was getting
dark out here, there was a look on his face that Sam had never seen there before. "What are you doing, Sam?" he asked, taking
a step in closer to her.
"I..." Sam stared at him for a moment. "I just came out for some
fresh air, that's all," she replied, mentally kicking herself for the apologetic tone in her voice. "Getting a little claustrophobic
"Are you sure that's all it is?" Daniel asked.
Sam nodded slowly. "Yes, I'm sure," she replied, not taking her
eyes off him.
Daniel nodded as well. "I saw you and Doctor Dieckmann were getting
along well," he said neutrally.
Pausing for a moment before replying, Sam peered at Daniel through
the failing light. "Yeah... we were discussing the amount of naquada his company's going to be refining for us," she told
him, searching his face for any hint of a reaction, any clue as to what was really going on here. Because although she had
her suspicions, there was at least ninety-eight percent of Major Samantha Carter still hoping she'd screwed up, and had got
it all wrong.
"That's good," Daniel replied - a little too easily. "Communication
like that's good, it'll make it all easier the closer we get to launch day. Come back inside when you're feeling a bit better,"
he added, looking directly at Sam this time. "There are still some people I'd like you to meet."
With that he vanished back inside the clubhouse, leaving Sam
to stare at his retreating form. The large percentage of her still rooting for Daniel was ready by now to go back in after
him and keep going with the evening.
The other two percent, on the other hand, made sure Sam's legs
stayed rooted to the spot, where she could only stare at the front of the country club building. Sure, there was nothing wrong
with Daniel, nothing wrong at all - the Goa'uld memories hadn't changed him one bit.
So why now was Sam feeling as though she'd just walked into a