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The Road Refuses Strangers

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“There are a lot of people who had a hard time leaving Earth, but not me. I mean, yeah, there were things I missed about Earth, but Atlantis is awesome, and my family was here. I was a little lost after Mom died, and I felt like I was lacking a purpose. When Teal’c showed up and told me I was needed, it felt like a gift. Being with my family, being on Atlantis—for me, it was a gift. I’ve never looked back.” ~Interview with Cassandra Fraiser


Cam felt the shudder of the tel’tak as Jon landed on a nondescript planet inside the Milky Way Galaxy. There wasn’t much there, but it had a gate, and that was the important thing. They had decided to use the gate to get to Dakara, since they couldn’t guarantee they wouldn’t be shot down. At least if they went through the gate, they might be able to talk the guards into not shooting them.


They had stopped at another planet on the way to find suitable clothing for a variety of situations. Jon had Earth-appropriate clothing, and Cam had managed to scrounge what he needed from various people on Atlantis, so they could have headed straight for Earth, but Cam wanted to check in with Teal’c.


But they still hadn’t decided who was going to Dakara, since Jon seemed to think that there was a chance they’d capture Cam and turn him in to whoever issued the warrant for his arrest, and that Jon should be the one to make contact.


“Look, they know you, but they don’t know me,” Jon said, following Cam to the storage area.


Cam pulled on the robe they’d purchased on their last stop. “Which is exactly why I should go with you. If things have gotten worse, they might shoot first and ask questions later, and seeing a familiar face could prevent that.”


“And if they turn you in?” Jon countered. “You know Sam’s never going to forgive me if you get killed.”


“In that case, tell her I’m sorry,” Cam replied implacably, leading the way off the tel’tak and towards the gate. “Look, call it superstition, but I say we don’t split up unless it’s absolutely necessary. If something happens to one of us, we’ve got no way to let the other know.”


Jon nodded. “All right. We stay together until we can’t. At least let me go through the gate first.”


“I’m the familiar face,” Cam replied. “I go first.” He grinned. “Also, I’m the senior officer.”


Jon grimaced. “Only by a technicality.”


“Still holds true,” Cam replied, pulled the hood up around his head, tugging it down to hide his face. “Dial it up, Jon.”


Jon gave him a sour look and tugged his own hood up, and then punched in the address for Dakara. The gate came to life, and Cam stepped through after only a second’s hesitation.


It turned out that Cam had been right about going through the gate first, because he was met with staff weapons pointed at him and orders to stop where he was. He raised his hands and said, “I’m Cameron Mitchell. I’m a friend of Teal’c and Bra’tac. My friend Jon is coming behind me. Teal’c and Bra’tac will vouch for both of us.”


The Jaffa didn’t move, and Cam took note of the insignia on their foreheads. There were three who had broken free from Apophis, one from Yu, and one from Nirrti.


Cam risked a look over his shoulder when he heard footsteps behind him, and saw Jon raising his hands. “We’re just looking for information. We don’t mean any harm.”


One of the Jaffa with the symbol for Apophis marked on his forehead barked an order to find Teal’c or Bra’tac immediately.


Cam remained where he was, even as he heard the gate whoosh shut behind him, feeling Jon’s presence just behind his left shoulder.


“Some welcoming party,” Jon muttered in an undertone.


“Can’t blame ‘em for being cautious,” Cam whispered.


There was a buzz of interest, and then Cam caught sight of Teal’c striding towards them, Bra’tac on his heels. “Colonel Mitchell,” Teal’c said, real warmth in his voice. “Tek ma’te.”


Tek ma’tek, Teal’c,” Cam replied. “It’s good to see you again.” They embraced in the Jaffa way, as warriors, and then Teal’c repeated the gesture with Jon as Cam said, “Master Bra’tac, it’s a pleasure as always.”


“Come,” Bra’tac replied. “You must be hungry after your journey.”


Cam figured that was Bra’tac’s way of telling them not to speak in front of the others, and he and Jon followed them to a small, comfortable house. They sat on low cushions and Bra’tac provided them with tankards of cool, clear water.


“I hope it’s okay that we came here,” Cam began, sensing some tension.


Bra’tac grunted. “Your presence is not ideal, but I do not believe anyone will move against you.”


“What’s going on?” Jon asked bluntly.


“The Ori have silver tongues,” Bra’tac said. “And there are those who would exchange freedom for slavery. We fight each other for control, and a smile may hide a dagger. There is also much resentment against the Tau’ri for abandoning their friends.”


Cam bit back the heated retort that sprang to his lips, knowing that even if the SGC hadn’t intended to abandon the Free Jaffa Nation, that was probably what it looked like from the outside. He took a deep breath, and told himself that he ought to be grateful for Bra’tac’s concise summation of the situation.


“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Cam said diplomatically.


Bra’tac waved off his apology. “I know the Tau’ri have their own troubles now. We must stand or fall on our own.”


“Have you had any word from Earth?” Jon asked.


Teal’c shook his head. “Did any other teams from the SGC make it to Atlantis?”


“One, Dr. Lam and her team,” Cam replied. “Other than the team you guys found dead from the Ori plague, there’s been no sign of any others.”


Teal’c looked very grave. “A few of our settlements have come under attack by the Ori as well. And there are some Goa’uld that have begun to rebuild their forces. Some Jaffa have chosen to serve their old masters for the security they think it will provide them against the Ori.”


“Have many Jaffa have joined the Ori?” Jon asked.


Bra’tac shook his head. “Too many. They seek to replace one god with another,” he added, sounding disgusted.


“You can stay here tonight,” Teal’c said. “I assume you have a ship.”


“We parked it somewhere safe,” Jon replied. “We don’t want to put you out.”


“It would be good to share a meal,” Teal’c replied. “And we can arrange to meet at Bra’tac’s sanctuary at some future date. If you are not there, I will know to come and find you.”


Cam shook his head emphatically. “No. If something happens, you’re not going to do anybody any good getting caught. We know the risks.”


Teal’c seemed to search Cam’s face, and seeing that he was serious, inclined his head. “Then it would be best if you did not get caught.”


“You said it.” Jon agreed. “We’ll do our best.”