Title: Archaeology (Table of Contents)
Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize is mine. I gain nothing of material value from this.
Chapter 5: SG-14
30 September 2000; Vorash; 1100 hrs
When the day came, Daniel found himself waiting in a side chamber with Lieutenant Astor and Sergeant Lewis while the rest of SG-1 and -14 joined Martouf and Anise in the main meeting chamber. Lewis was drumming his fingers against the table. Astor looked like she was barely stopping herself from joining him.
"Bet you wish you were in there," she said to Daniel, tilting her head to the corridor.
"I should have brought a book to read," he sighed, looking at his watch yet again.
"Probably for the best," Lewis said. "If Mr. Hardass Jackson went in, who knows if anyone'd come out in one piece?"
Astor grinned, and Daniel realized they'd been teasing him. It did no good to explain that he'd been less in control of his temper than he would have liked the last time they'd been to Vorash together. "I don't usually yell at Tok'ra Councilors when I come here," he muttered.
Lewis shrugged. "Got us a foothold in some stiff backs."
"It's not the way diplomacy should be handled," he insisted.
"Hey, when life gives you lemons," Astor said, and then didn't finish the sentence.
"What?" Daniel said.
"Lemonade," Lewis said unhelpfully.
Daniel sighed and wished for a book to read.
To pass the time, he bent down to see the underside of the table, examining the rough surface. "Do you think this is crystal?" he asked, wondering at the contrast between the smooth upper surface and the rocky underside, where there seemed to be crystals growing out of it. "Did they cut it out of the walls or grow it? It's not like it would fit through the rings."
Astor snorted from somewhere above him and to his left.
"I mean," he clarified, slipping out of his chair to see more clearly, "they have those...those small crystals that they use to grow the tunnels, but they can't make new material where there was none before, right? So does it...restructure the rock, or does it somehow seed...hm." He frowned, tapping a fingernail against the bottom of the table as he craned his head upward to look.
"I don't think we're the right people to ask, Daniel," Lewis said, his voice coming from somewhat farther away from Astor's.
"I guess I should ask Sam, huh," Daniel acknowledged, still looking at the crystals. They were quite interesting, actually--he wondered what they were made of.
A patter of soft footsteps caught his attention. "Whoa-ho, hey, there," Astor's voice said, and then someone very small bent down to look at Daniel.
"Uh," Daniel said, looking in confusion at the little boy now sharing the space under the table with him. "Hi," he said. "Who are you?"
"I'm Charlie," the boy said, then looked upward. "Kar'tak says not to play under here."
"Kar'tak?" Daniel said as he realized this was the boy who had warned them about the Reetou and whom Jack had sent here last year. After being told the boy was dying, it was rather amazing, actually, to see him looking so healthy. Some hosts, it seemed, fared very well with the Tok'ra.
It was still a bit of a shock, though, when Charlie dipped his head, then raised it again with glowing eyes. "I am Kar'tak," the Tok'ra said in a distorted child's voice.
"Oh. Um. Nice to...meet you," Daniel said. "It's, uh...so why haven't we met before?"
"Much more time than usual was necessary to acclimate to me, because of Charlie's youth, and even his growth has been slowed by the blending," Kar'tak said. "We are both learning one another now. It would help us," he added, "if Charlie were not allowed to see members of the SGC crawling on the floor."
"Here," Astor said, bending and sticking her head under the table, too and holding out a hand, another ready to stop the boy from hitting his head. "Charlie, let's get out from under there, okay? Why don't you show me where you're supposed to be right now."
Kar'tak blinked. Charlie smiled at Astor and took her hand, ducking back out. "Do you want to see my room?" he asked her.
"Oh, well, I'm not really supposed to go too far...but I guess I can walk you back there," her voice said, fading into the distance as they walked away.
Still sitting under the table, Daniel watched the two of them leave from the side door. "I wasn't crawling on the floor," he said when he heard Lewis snicker. "I was just wondering if Tok'ra crystals are related to Goa'uld control crystals. Sam says those work by structural breakdown to release energy--but if Tok'ra crystals build structured material, where do they get the energy?"
Then a new, unfamiliar, blended voice said, "From the stations into which the Tok'ra crystals are inserted for activation. Those stations are indeed powered by the conventional control crystals used by the Goa'uld."
Daniel heard a chair scrape against the stone floor. He scrambled to come to his feet and turn around and hit his head instead on the bottom of the table. "Ow," he said, squeezing his eyes shut and rubbing his head.
"Sir," Lewis's voice said.
Stepping out more carefully, Daniel flushed in mortification when he saw an unfamiliar man flanked by two bodyguards, the only Tok'ra he'd seen down here to be guarded personally. "I'm--I apologize," he said, dusting off his hands. "Y-you must be Supreme High Councilor Per'sus. It's, uh...an honor to meet you." He smoothed his jacket nervously.
"And you must be Daniel Jackson," Per'sus said, making Daniel wonder what it was, exactly, that Per'sus had heard of him. "And...Sergeant Lewis. I am late to the meeting with the rest of your delegation, but you are of course welcome to ask our scientists should you be curious about the technical aspects of our technologies, Mr. Jackson."
"Yes, sir," Daniel said, bowing and deciding not to mention that he wasn't all that interested in the technical aspects of anything except how much longer the meeting was going to take.
Per'sus nodded to them and left in the direction of the main meeting room. Daniel felt it best to keep his head down as the High Councilor passed.
When the sound of footsteps faded, Daniel straightened again and met Lewis's eyes, which were wider than usual. "Oops," he said.
Astor reappeared in the doorway, then stopped when she saw the two of them standing at attention. "What happened?" she said.
"Just a little more diplomacy the Daniel Jackson way, ma'am," Lewis said. "The High Councilor showed up while he was under the table."
She raised her eyebrows, then said, "Can't take you anywhere. Sit down--in a chair--and stay seated until someone gives you permission to move, huh?"
"Yes, ma'am," Daniel agreed, sliding back into his chair.
It was shortly after that, however, that a shout came from the main room beyond.
Daniel rose without permission, but the other two were on their feet, too. "That was Jack's voice," he said.
Astor led the way toward the tunnel leading out, only for two Tok'ra to block their path. "What's going on?" she demanded.
"You must remain here until the situation has been resolved," one of the Tok'ra guards said.
In the distance, Jack yelled, "Graham!"
"Oh, god," Astor said, and then, "Just tell us what the hell's going on!"
"An assassination attempt was made on the High Councilor Per'sus," one man said. "The circumstances remain unclear. Please remain calm."
"What?" Daniel blurted. "Remain calm?"
And then a loud explosion sounded. Daniel flinched reflexively, even from this distance. "Holy..." Lewis breathed as Daniel stared, frozen, in the direction of the meeting chamber. "What's happening in there?"
Beyond the two guards, several Tok'ra were running by, and it looked like they were carrying--
"Is that the High Councilor?" Lewis said. "Jesus--whatever it is, at least let us help!"
"Re nok," one of the men carrying Per'sus was calling. "Kree! Nok ne'naé kek!"
"He must be hurt," Daniel said, hearing the conversation.
"I am uncertain of the circumstances," the Tok'ra said again.
Daniel bit his tongue before he asked whether anyone else was hurt, because these guards had been there with them from the first alarm, and there was no way they would know. He stood on his toes and tried to see past them into the tunnels.
Finally, Martouf stepped into sight. "Tok'ra, kal shak. Ar'ee," he ordered, and the guards stepped aside. "SG-14," he went on, "you may come with me."
"W-what about me?" Daniel said as Astor and Lewis stepped out anxiously. "Is anyone hurt?"
Martouf hesitated, then said, "Your team is unharmed, Daniel. Colonel O'Neill wishes you to remain here until we have been able to attend to the victims of this attack."
And then Astor said sharply, "Victims? Attack? His team is unharmed?"
Daniel dropped numbly back into a seat as Martouf said softly, "I am sorry, Lieutenant, Sergeant. Please come with me."
30 September 2000; Vorash; 1200 hrs
When SG-14 returned, Astor and Lewis were carrying a stretcher between them. Daniel stood again and recognized Captain Blasdale lying on top. Lewis's jacket was draped across the captain's chest; Daniel wasn't sure he wanted to know what it looked like under there.
For a moment, Daniel thought Blasdale might just be wounded--unconscious, maybe, and resting. Then he noted how slowly and carefully Astor and Lewis were carrying him, and that they were heading toward the ring platform instead of the Tok'ra medical facility. "Gods," Daniel said as the two neared. "I'm sorry. Is Major Graham...?"
Astor made a sound that was something between a gasp and a sob. "They're cleaning... There was a lot of...damage..." She stopped. Two Tok'ra appeared in the tunnel behind them, carrying another stretcher between them. This time, the body was completely covered in a sheet, but spots of blood were starting to stain the material, and the bottom of one boot was visible. There was no doubt about who this was.
"Kristen--come on," Lewis said.
"I'm so sorry," Daniel said again, bowing his head as they passed. "Can I do anything?"
"We got 'em," Astor said more steadily. "You can, uh...go ahead in."
Daniel had always been wary about keeping a sarcophagus on base--it seemed too much of a temptation. It wasn't until they'd lost it that he had started to miss it.
A procession of four Tok'ra passed them as he made his way toward the chamber, bearing another two stretchers between them--the bodies were Tok'ra, this time, and not covered. Daniel found himself staring at the holes in their chests. The wounds were too well cauterized for a Tau'ri gun to have caused them, but they were also too focused and penetrated too far through the bodies to have been caused by a staff weapon. One of the Tok'ra looked at him, and he tore his gaze away to continue toward the meeting chamber.
A look around the room showed Jack and Sam--both unhurt, as Martouf had promised--standing near Anise. As Daniel approached, Martouf was saying, "Fortunately, High Councilor Per'sus is going to recover."
"What happened?" Daniel asked.
"I'd like to know that," Jack said, sharp and angry in that way that meant he was shaken.
Sam shook her head, looking stunned. "As soon as the High Councilor came in and Martouf introduced us...Major Graham attacked him and tried to shoot up the room."
Daniel's eyebrows shot up. "No way," he denied. "Graham would never...and I thought none of us even brought weapons."
Jack looked like he was very much regretting the decision not to bring a weapon. "Well, Graham had one. It was like a...a little ring."
"It seemed to be of Goa'uld origin," Martouf added.
There was no way Major Graham would have gotten one without anyone's knowing, and if he had, he was--had been--a good man who'd worked hard in support of Tok'ra relations. Graham wouldn't have done this, and he certainly wouldn't have killed his own teammate. "A hara'kesh?" Daniel said, because that was the only ring-like weapon of Goa'uld origin he'd heard of, though he'd never seen one himself.
It was Sam, surprisingly, who answered by shaking her head. "No. A hara'kesh is like a hand device but smaller--it's what the ashrak used on Jolinar--and it requires naquadah in the blood. This thing was almost like a concentrated staff weapon in a ring."
"Look, Martouf..." Jack started.
"Obviously," Martouf said, "I do not believe you were complicit with Major Graham's actions."
A little suspicious--because if this had happened at the SGC, security would be swarming, and the Tok'ra put Tau'ri paranoia to shame--Daniel said, "Well, we weren't, but how can you be sure?"
Martouf tilted his head. "I cannot," he said, but he was looking at Sam, so Daniel supposed they should be glad to have someone among the Tok'ra who trusted them personally rather than only trusting the cause and their part in it.
But Freya finally spoke up. "I can. Major Graham was a zatarc."
"A what?" Jack said.
30 September 2000; General Hammond's Office, SGC; 1330 hrs
"A zatarc?" the general repeated when Daniel was sent back to brief him and Teal'c on the situation.
"I have never heard such a term," Teal'c said.
"He was a victim of Goa'uld mind-control technology," Daniel explained. "Anise and Freya think a mission can be programmed into the subconscious and covered with a false memory so the victim doesn't even know he or she is a victim. But when the zatarc sees the right person or hears... Basically, there's a trigger, and then he's forced to carry out his mission or...or, uh..."
"Self-destruct," the general said grimly, rubbing his chin. "Then in this case, we think the Tok'ra Supreme High Councilor was the target."
"It would seem that the Goa'uld are aware of our alliance," Teal'c said, "and are attempting to prevent it."
"Yeah," Daniel said. "The Tok'ra still want to hold the summit next week, but--"
"If the Goa'uld knew of the alliance, then they could know about the summit, too," the general said. "The President--and any number of other key personnel on this base--could be as much of a target as the High Councilor. I can't allow our nation's leader to be put in that situation."
Daniel nodded. "Yes, sir, that's what Jack said...more or less. Freya believes it only takes a few moments of access to program someone like this. In fact, later they said the weapon Major Graham was using is similar to a type of...well, it's like a hara'kesh," he said to Teal'c.
"A weapon worn as a ring," Teal'c said, "able to induce memory loss and suggestibility as well as causing much pain and destruction."
"Right. These have been modified to allow human use without the naquadah requirement, and there are other differences, but it could be how the programming happens and is later carried out. Any of us--or them--could be a zatarc without knowing it ourselves."
"Then we can just search all personnel for this device Major Graham used," the general said.
"Well, Freya says one of the Tok'ra zatarcs didn't have one and just went berserk anyway--he opened fire with a zat'nik'tel," Daniel said. "Anyone who has one of those weapons is certain to be a zatarc, but we can't assume someone's safe just because he or she doesn't have one."
"Why have we ever seen such a tactic before?" Teal'c asked.
"Freya's first documented case among the Tok'ra operatives was from about two months ago. In fact, the Tok'ra have never seen something like this before, either, which was why the High Council was reluctant to believe her theory."
"Then it is, in fact, only a theory."
"Yes," Daniel said, "and from what they've explained so far, it's mostly speculation--it's hard to gather tangible evidence because they...commit suicide afterward. And Anise is unsure, but she agrees with Freya that it should be investigated."
"I'm not sure I want to jump through more hoops for something that one half of a Tok'ra is theorizing," the general said, frowning.
Daniel grimaced. "Well, yes, sir. But...I don't understand the technology, but, Major Graham would not have tried to assassinate High Councilor Per'sus--I would stake a lot on that. And Jack said that just before he...killed himself, he was begging for them to stop him."
General Hammond sighed. "That sounds like mind-control to me."
"We can be sure something is going on. Whether Freya is right...we don't know, but she really believes it. I don't think it would hurt to test people over the next couple of days--like SG-14," he added reluctantly. "If she's right, then we know their team was in a position to be programmed."
"And if she's wrong," the general said, "then we're forcing two people in mourning to relieve their last traumatic mission for nothing." Daniel shifted uncomfortably, but the general shook his head. "Of course, base security must come first. I'm sure Lieutenant Astor and Sergeant Lewis would both agree. This testing or...detection device--it doesn't physically hurt a person?"
"Um...I don't think so. They're explaining it to Sam right now before bringing it here. Apparently, it's like a lie detector--to detect the false memory that hides the programming--but it shouldn't hurt at all. Beyond that, I couldn't tell you, sir."
"We'd have to test everyone," the general said.
"Everyone who's come into contact with the Goa'uld or a Goa'uld planet over the last two months," Daniel said. He paused, thinking, then amended, "Well, I suppose it should really be anyone who's gone off-world at all, since the false memory could have disguised contact with Goa'uld forces."
"Everyone who's gone into the field during that time, then, both SG officers and temporary attachés--and we need to ask about every aspect of every mission that someone could have been compromised on," the general said, and even he looked daunted at that idea. "I'll recall all off-world teams. Once Anise and Martouf arrive, we'll start with SG-14."
30 September 2000; SGC; 1800 hrs
The last time SG-14 had encountered Goa'uld off-world was on P6Y-325, the mission over a month ago when the original SG-15 had been killed, and when SG-14 itself had only barely survived the attack.
Lieutenant Astor was the first to be tested with the zatarc detector.
She was also first to fail.
Sergeant Lewis, very pale by then and very subdued, went next and was declared not a zatarc. It had been a close thing--he'd hesitated quite a while before admitting that he and Captain Blasdale had been separated from both Graham and Astor for quite a while, apparently reluctant to contribute evidence that might condemn his last remaining teammate.
As they watched from the observation deck, General Hammond said quietly, "I remember that."
Daniel hadn't been there for that, so Sam explained to him quietly, "They thought Major Graham and Lieutenant Astor were right behind them, but it was over a minute before they actually came through."
"Sergeant Lewis is not a zatarc," Freya's voice called to them from the lab.
"Oh, god," Lewis said, even as the SFs began to undo the straps holding him in place. "But what about Lieutenant Astor? She can't... General Hammond? Sir?"
"Stay calm, son," the general said into the microphone. "We'll figure this out."
Lewis was escorted out of the lab. As soon as he was gone, Freya called, "General, the detector was very clear about Lieutenant Astor."
"Come up to my office," the general ordered, then stepped out of the observation deck, the rest of them trailing after him. "Colonel O'Neill, Martouf, you too. Teal'c, make sure all the recalled teams are getting back and are ready for testing. Major Carter, Mr. Jackson, I need someone to go to Lieutenant Astor."
Astor was in a low-security holding cell. When the guards opened the door, they found her sitting on her bed, her legs pulled up to her chest, and Sergeant Lewis already in a chair next to her in the room.
"He told me already," she said dully as Daniel and Sam walked in. "So I'm one of these...what-do-you-call-'ems."
"According to that device...yes, you could be a zatarc," Sam said.
"All due respect, ma'am, this is a load of crap," Lewis said angrily. "You almost died the last time we trusted this Tok'ra and her technology."
"Wouldn't I know?" Astor said. "How could I not know? My memory of that night...god, I can still see it like it was yesterday."
"We understand, Lieutenant," Sam said. "And it's true we don't have hard evidence, but...well, you saw Major Graham. This thing that's happening is very real." Both of them stiffened at the reminder. "We just want to prevent it from happening again. As far as we know, the programming is triggered by a signal, so you should be safe in here until we know more."
"For how long?" Lewis said.
"They're reviewing notes and discussing options now," Daniel said. "We know Anise can be rash with experiments, but she really is very good with technology, even among the Tok'ra." She was one of their best scientists, he'd been told, in technology and culture; he suspected it was mostly her reckless tendencies that kept her from being one of the Tok'ra's operatives.
"And Martouf and Lantash are no slouches, either," Sam added, "and they're much more careful. With everyone working together, we have a good chance of figuring this out."
"Major Graham killed himself," Astor said, hugging her knees. "That's what you said. What if I just..." She held her fingers in the shape of a gun and pointed at her head.
Lewis pulled her hand away from her temple. "That's not gonna happen. Right, ma'am?" he added to Sam, looking less angry now and more desperate. Their commanding officer and another teammate had died only hours ago, after all, and now this...
"We don't want you hurt, Lieutenant, and we're going to do everything we can to learn more about this," Sam said. "There are SFs just outside--they're for your own protection as much as anyone else's. But like I said, without a trigger, you should be safe."
"Yes, ma'am," Astor said quietly.
"Is there anything we can bring you while you're waiting?" Daniel said. "Do you want someone to stay with you, or...?"
She sighed. "I want this day to be over," she said miserably.
"May I stay here, Major?" Lewis asked.
Astor shook her head, unfolding her legs. "No, Matt, you don't have to--"
"It's all right," Sam said, nodding in understanding, though Daniel could tell from the way she was standing that she was uncomfortable in the face of their collective grief, the way Sam always was. "It's up to you. Just let someone know if you need anything."
In the end, though, Daniel couldn't help thinking they'd broken a promise to Astor, and to Lewis by extension. They'd told her they would keep her safe and then given her a choice between possible brain damage and life imprisonment. Daniel didn't think he'd ever have been able to choose the former, even if the latter was his only alternative. He wondered if she would have chosen it at all if she hadn't seen Captain Blasdale dead after being killed by Major Graham.
Lewis was with them, this time, as they watched from the observation deck.
"So this thing's gonna...destroy the part of my brain with the programming in it?" Astor said, looking nearly petrified as she eyed the straps on the chair.
"That is correct," Freya said.
"God help me," she said, and then sat down tensely, looking toward them at the window. "I have to admit--I'm a little scared. Actually, that's not true; I'm terrified." Lewis shifted uncomfortably, then stilled and stood at parade rest, watching Astor get strapped in.
"I understand," Freya told her gently. "Please try to stay calm. I am going to begin."
Beside Daniel's seat, Jack stood tensely, exchanging a glance with Teal'c, who seemed just as untrusting of Tok'ra technology as Jack was. As a beam shot forth from the machine, Daniel felt himself lean forward in fascination, despite everything.
And then, because they'd said they didn't want her to be hurt, Martouf ordered Anise to stop the procedure when Astor started screaming, and--
Astor ripped the bonds from around her arms and launched herself out of her chair, propelling two SFs into a wall, where one slumped to the ground. Even as the other pulled his weapon, she whirled and threw him into the wall, too, reaching for his gun. Footsteps made Daniel turn to see Jack run out of the observation deck, and then--
"Yahs!" Teal'c ordered, and Daniel dropped to the floor as Sam called, "Get down!"
A bullet struck the window in front of where Daniel's face had been a moment ago. Cracks spread until Daniel couldn't see anymore, but he heard it when another bullet struck. A few shards of glass sprinkled around them, and Daniel brought his arm up to protect his face, pressing himself against a side wall.
"General!" Lewis's voice said.
"No, stay down," Martouf was telling someone.
Then the sound of bullets on glass stopped. Daniel raised his head and looked for a spot in the window where cracks hadn't completely obscured his sight. From the lab, Jack's voice yelled, "Astor!"
Then Freya's, "No!"
And then there was another gunshot, and it was over.
"I know it probably doesn't help," Daniel said, meeting Sergeant Lewis's eyes because anything else would be dishonoring the man and those he'd lost, "but we're all...very sorry for your..." His own throat was trying to tighten. He cleared his throat. "I'm so sorry, Sergeant."
Lewis nodded once.
Daniel opened his mouth to say something else but closed it when there was nothing else to say. Losing any man or woman in the line of duty was bad enough; when it was a teammate...teams were more than just groups of good friends and strong comrades. Daniel could imagine little worse than being the last one standing, watching the rest of the team fall one by one.
"Any word on the SFs who were injured?" Lewis asked hoarsely.
"Dr. Fraiser and the medical personnel are working on them," Daniel said. "They're optimistic, but the general's staying with them now until we're sure." They were working on Astor's autopsy in there, too. He decided he didn't need to mention that. "And the rest of SG-1 is...tidying up in the lab, but they asked me to tell you..."
"Condolences?" Lewis guessed. "I know. I'm--I was the most junior member on my team, too. I've run errands like this." He gestured vaguely toward Daniel.
"It's...not like that," Daniel said. "It's just that they need to take precautions and...and try to ensure that this doesn't happen again. And truly, anything we can do for you, anyone on our team would..." He bit his lip. "The four of us personally admitted Lieutenant Astor into the program last year--we have nothing but the highest respect for your whole team, and for all you've done."
"What a way to go," Lewis said, his voice tight. "Your last act is shooting your own friends, injuring coworkers, k-killing yourse--" He pinched the bridge of his nose.
"I'm probably not the one you want to see now," Daniel said after a moment. "Should I go?"
"What about the treaty?" Lewis said abruptly, raising his gaze again. "That was our team's project--what's the general say about that? There are still a few parts we were going to work on."
Daniel took a breath. "He says the rest of the SG teams will be tested with the zatarc detector," he said. "If no other zatarc is found, then the summit will take place as planned. If you'd like to participate in finalizing the treaty, you can, and Martouf will be staying on Earth for that. Otherwise, SG-1 can take over--between us, we're familiar enough with the document, this nation, and the political situation at hand."
For a moment, it looked like Lewis was going to say he'd continue and do it--after all, SG-14 had rallied well enough after that disastrous mission to the Lasarians that had killed six of their comrades. Then again, that time, there had been an SG-14 around which to rally. Lewis seemed to deflate in his seat. "That'd be good," he said. "I don't know if I'd be any use..." He trailed off.
"We'll take care of it, Sergeant," Daniel promised.
"What if there are more zatarcs?"
"Um...I don't know," Daniel said honestly. "Freya went to review her notes and see if there's anything else to find. Sam and Martouf are examining the mechanism of that device...but I don't think we know yet what'll happen if it comes to that."
"Jesus," Lewis breathed, and then stood.
"You're, uh...well, since you've done the...the testing, you're free to go home or to stay in the guest quarters if you'd like," Daniel said, trying awkwardly to skirt around the part where Lewis's friend had just been killed by her own hand. "If you need someone to drive you, I can go to the duty office and ask someone--"
"No, I...I'll do it."
Daniel watched Sergeant Lewis walk out in a daze. When the man was out of sight, he took off his glasses and scrubbed a hand down his face to try to bring himself back to better focus. Finally, he took a deep breath and went to the infirmary.
The general was on his way out when he arrived, Jack behind him. "I need to inform the President," the general said. "How was Sergeant Lewis?"
"He..." Daniel searched for a way to describe the sergeant's mental state, then gave up and said, "He's gone home. SG-1 is going to need to pick up final treaty revisions."
With a nod, the general said, "We have four days before the President is scheduled to arrive. In that time, we need to finish the zatarc testing and anything that still needs to be changed in the treaty. SG-1 will be tested first, and after that, I'd like Major Carter and Teal'c to continue assisting Anise and Dr. Fraiser with coordinating the teams' testing while you two"--the general pointed to Jack and Daniel--"work with Martouf."
Jack grimaced in distaste, so Daniel kept a straight face as he said, "I'll need to review SG-14's notes from their last meeting with the President, sir."
"You do that," the general said. "In the meantime, we'll start testing SG-1. Teal'c's reviewing your last several mission reports right now for potentially relevant missions."
An airman let Daniel into Major Graham's office, where, feeling like some sort of grave robber, Daniel found the section of the man's desk where he'd kept all records related to the Tok'ra treaty. He flipped quickly through them and pulled the ones he needed, then joined the general, Janet, Martouf, and the rest of his team in the observation deck above the lab.
The most prominent recent mission in which SG-1 had had contact with Goa'uld forces was the mission to PX9-757, where Jack and Sam, wearing the Atanik armbands, had destroyed Apophis's mothership.
As Daniel skimmed Major Graham's reports and jotted a few notes of his own, he heard Teal'c saying below, "General Hammond ordered me to follow. I went through the 'gate and proceeded to the facility."
Jack winced almost imperceptibly. Sam shrank a little in her seat.
Freya glanced up from her notes and said, "So you were alone for some time before meeting with the rest of SG-1?"
"Yes," Teal'c said.
Graham had noted that the President was uncomfortable with the wording in certain parts--'for the common interests of the Tok'ra and the humans of Earth,' for one--so Daniel leaned back to listen to Teal'c's testimony with one ear while he thought about what to do with the treaty. Remembering something Major Davis had mentioned last year about the SGC's acting on behalf of the entire world when only a very few people knew about the SGC, and noting that the President was apparently wary about the confines of what fell into the category of 'common interests' between the two peoples, and what it was committing them to...
"For the..." he said aloud quietly, sounding out other possibilities as he scribbled. "For... In pursuit of...of freedom for...all individuals."
Which was very broad, granted, but it gave them more leeway in their actions, as well as avoiding the appearance that the President was the leader of the entire planet. He'd ask Jack or someone else later for another opinion.
"Please repeat that sequence," Freya was saying below.
Daniel looked up briefly at the monitor, only to stop what he was doing when he saw the bright, circular pattern that had marked Astor as a zatarc. Beside him, Jack sat up straighter, too, and Sam's eyes were wide and fixed on the screen.
"An alarm had been sounded," Teal'c said. "Energy force shields were raised shortly after Major Carter and I escaped the mothership into the tunnel in the mountain. Colonel O'Neill's armband ceased to function at that point, and he was unable to escape."
The detector's reading returned to normal. "But you could have escaped with Major Carter," Freya clarified.
"Why did you stay?"
"I countermanded Colonel O'Neill's order to leave," Teal'c said unhesitatingly. "The mission had been completed--Major Carter and I did not wish to leave without O'Neill."
Daniel shivered, fully appreciating for the first time how dire the situation had been. But it was just then that the circular pattern on the monitor began to swirl again. Freya turned around toward the observation window. "No," Daniel said. "No, that's not--"
Sam stood and reached determinedly for the microphone. "Teal'c," she said, "the detector gauges your description of your emotional state, too. Anything that could be counted as holding back can be judged as a lie. Remember how it felt to stand there on the other side of the force shield?"
Teal'c's eyes flicked up toward her, landed on Jack, and then turned back to Freya. "I was extremely angry with Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter for putting themselves in that position," he said. "I believed we were likely about to die."
"Teal'c," Sam said when the pattern didn't change.
"I was...afraid that O'Neill would not free himself in time to escape the explosion and that Major Carter would die along with him," Teal'c said, glowering. Daniel didn't think he'd ever heard the Jaffa say that he was afraid before. When the pattern didn't change, Freya didn't move, and Teal'c finally said in a low voice, "I was also extremely angry with Anise."
"Ah!" Jack said, pointing triumphantly at the monitor as the detector's reading cleared and returned to the baseline. "There we go."
General Hammond sighed in relief, but then said, "I'm getting the feeling that this testing is going to take a while."
"Okay," Jack said irritably, "is no one else concerned about the fact that we're deciding this thing based on how good we are at describing our feelings?"
"At least we will not miss the zatarc," Martouf said. "The device is clearly flawed in a way that will predict more zatarcs than actually exist, but we can continue testing those who fail in order to be certain that the results are correct."
"And we're not trying that procedure again," Janet added, "at least not without being absolutely sure."
"Uh," Daniel said, holding up a finger, "just as a suggestion...it might be easier to get full disclosure of...emotions and all of that if the person's team isn't standing around and watching." He didn't think he had much to say of his own experiences, but he did not want to be staring up at his team if he had to admit to some cowardice.
So when it was Daniel's turn, he was alone in the lab with Anise and Freya, with only Janet watching from above as the rest of SG-1 spoke with Martouf and the general with the President.
"I wasn't on the PX9-757 mission," he said, trying not to pull against the straps holding him to the chair. He really hated being restrained--he'd joined the SGC as a victim and had played that role too many times afterward. "My only trips off-world in the last couple of months have been to Vorash, a research trip with SG-7, and the SGC Alpha Site for training."
"How long were you on the Alpha Site?" Freya asked.
"Uh...two weeks. Well, a week and about six days, I think," he added, just in case that made a difference. "And it was with SG-3 and SG-13."
"And you did not leave the planet during those weeks."
"No. We went directly from the SGC to the Alpha Site, and directly back at the end of the training session. And there were no Goa'uld forces there," he added. "The Alpha Site is pretty secure--in fact, there are probably security records from our time there."
Freya watched the monitor, then nodded. "Your trip with SG-7 before that was to Abydos?"
"Yes," Daniel said, glancing at Janet behind the window.
"Focus your attention here," Freya said again just as Janet gave him a reassuring smile, and Daniel snapped his eyes back to the device.
"Yes," he repeated. "We went to Abydos--a tunnel in one of the naquadah mines had collapsed. SG-7 and I helped to dig it free and reinforce the tunnels, and we eventually discovered a series of caves beyond it."
"What did you find in those caves?"
"Recorded histories, mostly, as well as the Stargate address for Tau'ri," Daniel said. "It seems to be the same as another set of caves where people learned to read in secret just before the fall of Ra; we believe it may have served a similar purpose and been abandoned, perhaps because it was discovered by Ra or his Jaffa centuries ago."
"Did you encounter any Goa'uld of Jaffa forces during the nine days you were on Abydos?"
"No," Daniel said honestly. "We found a few ancient Goa'uld devices, but nothing with any power left in them."
She still hadn't looked up from her data pad. Just as he was beginning to fidget, she said, "You are not a zatarc."
Daniel wasn't there when Sam was tested, but it took a long time for her to finish, and she came back to join them in the briefing room looking rather shaken. "I passed," she said when they turned to her, then said, "Colonel, can I talk to you before you go in?"
"Sure," Jack said easily. When Sam glanced to the side, he said, "Oh! Right," and stood to follow her just out of earshot and into the hall.
Deciding she was probably coaching him on how not to be called a zatarc, Daniel turned back to Martouf. "So," he said, feeling considerably more awkward without Jack or Sam, since Teal'c had taken over coordinating the other teams' testing. "Are the Tok'ra being tested on Vorash?"
"Yes," Martouf said politely.
And then it was awkward and silent again, so Daniel went back to reading his notes to wait for Sam to come back.
When she did, he asked, "Anything wrong?"
"No, no," she said, though she wasn't meeting his eyes. "Just, uh...wanted to make sure he didn't get tripped up. Like Teal'c did--I almost failed at that same spot, and if it hadn't been for his test, I probably wouldn't have realized what my mistake was."
"Oh," Daniel said, "but then, either way, as long as your stories match Teal'c's, and we know Teal'c's not a zatarc, then you're both fine, right?"
"The colonel was actually alone for a while, distracting the Jaffa for us to escape--probably only thirty seconds or so," she said. "I don't think he could have...anyway, that's not the part I think he'd have trouble with, but I'm sure it'll be fine. So, where are we here?"
"We were discussing the meaning of 'full disclosure of information,'" Martouf told her.
"Oh," Sam said. "I'll bet Colonel O'Neill had quite a bit to say about that."
"First of all, we want to revise it to 'information pertaining to the Goa'uld,'" Daniel said, "since that's what our alliance is really about. I think...no offense, but Jack's concerned that the Tok'ra won't hold up their end of the deal even if we do. And considering the way we were dismissed after the incident with Tanith and Shan'auc, I don't think those concerns are unreasonable."
"Some of the difficulty in that situation stems from our need to ensure that Tanith himself is not alerted and that we do not give you false intelligence," Martouf explained, "but the Tok'ra keep their word--if we sign this treaty, we will obey the terms within. And I am certain the Tau'ri have formulated theories or conducted experiments of which the Tok'ra do not know."
"If that's true," Sam said, "it's mostly that those topics don't really come up in conversation, and until we've actually developed something fully, it didn't seem worth telling you."
"Maybe we do need to refine the clause, though," Daniel said, tapping the back of his pen against the paper. "We should define exactly what types of information have to be shared. Not ongoing experiments or unsupported theories, for example--"
"Or the day-to-day workings of our operatives," Martouf added.
"Unless our operations are directly affected," Sam countered.
"That...can be interpreted very broadly," Daniel said. "Uh...how about..."
Jack took even longer to finish than Sam. From the redness of his face, Daniel suspected he'd had to say very explicitly exactly how furiously terrified he must have been, watching Teal'c and Sam refuse to leave him when the mountain on PX9-757 had been minutes from exploding.
"All right, let's pack it in," Jack ordered. "Everyone get some sleep, and we'll pick up in the morning. Daniel, is Rothman going to be in tomorrow?"
"He's already on base, on watch with the rest of SG-11," Daniel reminded Jack. "He'll be here at least until they're tested tomorrow."
"Well, we're gonna need the names of any translators or anthropologists who've gone off-world with a team lately. You get that list together first thing while SG-2's being tested...and then it's just this thing," Jack finished, waving a hand at the papers spread over the table. "How bad could it be?"
"Ugh," Daniel said, rubbing his eyes. "You had to say it."
From the next chapter ("The Zatarc"):
"So, Marty," Jack said, "you've been tested on that...zarc...machine, right?"
Martouf's eyes widened. "No," he said, sounding surprised. "I have not."