Daniel Jackson stretched his back as he stood up from his desk. He'd been examining several artifacts that Lou Feretti's team had brought back last week. They were some interesting bone necklaces that curled up from the throat to under the jaw line. From the size of the pieces, the aborigines that wore them were large and powerful beings. Also found with them was a huge outsized wooden yoke and some of the chain mail type armor worn by Jaffa.
These were a puzzling find at best. He had a fleeting wish that he could contact the other Daniel Jackson. He had a hunch that his alternate self would have immediately known what they were and who their owners had been.
He turned and went over to the table that sat against the wall in his large office cum library. As Daniel poured himself a cup of coffee, he heard a commotion in the hallway. Nick Ballard pushed the door open then entered excitedly. He was holding some eight by ten photos in his hand.
"Daniel...look! Look what I have here. The...the...small plane that they sent to the new planet took these pictures." The elderly man waved the photos around in his enthusiasm.
"What do you have, Nick?" Daniel set the cup down and took the few steps to his Grandfather. "Calm down and show me."
"Daniel, it is a giant pyramid...a huge pyramid, very much like the one I went to with the crystal skull that had the giant aliens!" He was smiling broadly. "Do you think we could go there?"
Daniel fell into his Grandfather's excitement eagerly. "We can ask Jack...do you think that they're still there?"
"I don't know, but...where would they go?" The old man laughed. "There cannot be that many places that big."
"Where do you want to go?" An amused voice spoke from the doorway. Brigadier General Jack O'Neill, wearing the casual uniform of the light blue, short sleeved shirt and dark blue pants entered the room and smiled at the two excited archaeologists. "Is there any coffee?"
Daniel nodded towards the worktable. "Right where it's always at, Jack. Help yourself." The coffee experience was only one of the many aspects that were bonding their unlikely friendship. The older man nodded and helped himself to the fragrant brew.
Nick followed him over to the counter. "General, these pictures from your little aero plane..."
"Jah, the U-A-V has revealed some fascinating information... this place looks exactly like one where I found my crystal skull."
Jack looked at him curiously. "A crystal skull? What's that?"
Daniel smiled at his confusion. "Years ago on a dig in Belize, Nick discovered a perfect replica of a human skull made of crystal."
The elderly man nodded. "Jah, and when I looked into its eyes, it transported me to another temple, where I saw the giant aliens." Nick finished firmly as if expecting to be challenged for his statement.
Jack, however, only looked at him and nodded. "Did you talk to them?"
"No, I didn't understand their language." He frowned at the memory. "I've never had Daniel's skill with foreign tongues." He looked at his grandson fondly. "I would like to go back and take Daniel with me so that we could communicate." He then shook his head. "They could tell us so much."
"Yes, there's certainly a lot out there we know nothing about." Daniel sighed, "What do you think, Jack? Can we go?"
The General nodded. "We can put it down for a future trip. But I've got something better in mind at the moment."
"Oh? What's that?"
The General pulled out a chair and sat down motioning the two scientists to do the same. "We've located an interesting symbol, but I need you two to identify it." He pulled a piece of paper out of his shirt's front pocket. It appeared to be a stylized drawing of a snake. Daniel took it and studied it for a moment. "Well," he frowned. "It's a serpent, not a dragon or lizard but a true snake. It could represent a Goa'uld."
"Ah, no doubt of that. But which Gould?"
"There were several snake gods prominent in different cultures. There was Quetzalcoatl from South America, there were the twin snakes related to the Greek God Asclepius on the caduceus or the Aesculapian staff. There's also Set, the serpent god of the Stygians, the Gorgons who had snakes for hair...."
Jack shook his head. "Yada, how about one related to that Ra guy?"
"Oh, well, in the Egyptian pantheon, Ra's brother, the Snake god Apophis was the antithesis of Ra. Apophis is also known as Apepi or Apep. According to Makara, he was the Egyptian snake god and personified darkness, evil and the forces of chaos. He was the eternal enemy of Ra and the cosmic order. Each night he did battle with Ra on his journey through the underworld on the barque of the sun, and each night Ra triumphed to be reborn at dawn in the east. Often the god Set or the serpent Mehen was the one who defended both Ra and his solar barque from Apophis. During an eclipse it was said that Apophis had gained a temporary victory. However, Ra always triumphed in the end. In one account, it was said that Ra gained a permanent victory over Apophis when he cut up and burned Apophis' body."
Jack blinked, shook his head and nodded. "That sounds about right, Professor, if a bit TMI for me. What we do have is a Jaffa who was imprisoned in the security area of Ra's mother ship. This symbol was...is branded into his forehead. This guy says he was the First Prime for Apophis before he was captured by Ra's Jaffa."
The General looked at his friend. "He speaks English but it's just packed full of terms that don't mean squat to me. I'd like you to talk to him, feel him out and see if he'd be of any value to us. I think he might be, but I'm not sure how far we can trust him."
"Of course, I'll come right now. These phrases, are they in Egyptian?"
"Maybe, it could be, but it's not any Egyptian that I've heard. It could be the old stuff, like that Jackson was talking about."
"Hummm, okay Jack, just a minute." Daniel dug around in a pile of old books muttering to himself.
"What was that, Doctor?"
The younger man surfaced with a very old very delicate looking volume in his hand. He shook his head. "I've got to get more proficient in ancient Egyptian if I'm going to be doing this."
"Oh, and before I forget, we checked on your recommendations for other anthro/archie geeks...Rothman said yes...Raynor said no...and was rather rude about the whole thing."
Daniel nodded, "I'm not surprised. He wanted to own a sports car before he was forty."
Nick muttered something that sounded like 'Raynor is a philistine' and walked away shaking his head.
Daniel smiled fondly after him, then glanced at Jack. "He's a purist."
"So I see." Jack nodded at the archaeologist. "Are you ready?"
"Sure...let's go meet this Jaffa."
The two men walked down the corridors and took the elevator down to the security level. They traveled in comfortable silence, both thinking their own thoughts. It had surprised both of them how easily their working relationship had fallen into place, as if they had known each other for years. And their wives, Sam and Janet were thick as thieves. The physician and the astrophysicist seemed as different as their husbands to someone who didn't know them but their dedication to the fight against the goa'uld and their husbands' friendship had given them a lot in common. And Janet's Air Force Reserve experience had eased her civilian husband's transition in working with the military.
They met Major Janet Jackson and Lieutenant Colonel Samantha O'Neill on their way out from examining the prisoner.
As the two men greeted their wives, O'Neill asked the diminutive physician about their prisoner. "How is he physically, Doc?"
"Well, he's got a very unusual physiology going there, General," she replied thoughtfully, "Physically he's healthy. The injuries that he sustained during torture are healing at an amazing rate of speed. But," she paused thoughtfully, "his own immune system is completely compromised. Remove the Goa'uld and he'll die. He depends entirely on the Goa'uld larva he's carrying in his abdominal pouch."
Daniel looked at his wife. "You think this is normal for his kind?"
She nodded. "I think so, the larva in his pouch is apparently very young. The one I saw up close and personal on Ra's ship was much larger and obviously older.
"The other Jack said that they serve as a sort of incubator for the little snakes until they're they are old enough to possess some poor son of a bitch." O'Neill commented with a grimace.
Janet nodded. "Sam said the same thing...that's the one that possessed your other CMO?"
"Yep, the one that Jack took out of the dead Jaffa was obviously old enough to grab Warner as a host and make good its escape." O'Neill shook his head. "Bill didn't deserve that."
Samantha looked up at her husband, nodding in agreement with the General. "I guess Bill didn't take that other O'Neill's warning as seriously as he should have."
Janet shivered. "I don't think anyone deserves that." She looked over at the Security Guard and smiled at him. The man looked straight ahead and Janet went up on her tiptoes and kissed her husband on the cheek. "You be careful, sweetie. He's a big guy."
Daniel smiled at her, "Don't worry, klina frau, I will."
Jack smiled at her. "I'll take good care of him, don't worry."
"You better," she warned. "I've got you scheduled for your physical next week."
Samantha smiled. "You too flyboy. I don't want you in any danger from either Janet or the Jaffa."
Jack smiled mischievously at his wife and winked. He nodded to the Airman who unlocked the door for the two men. "Meet you at the commissary for lunch later?
"You've got a date, Jack O'Neill." Sam waived at them as she and Doctor Jackson left.
Daniel entered the holding room with the General and met the largest man he had ever seen. The Archaeologist was six-foot and well built from his active outdoor lifestyle. Jack was two inches taller though more slender in form. But this...person...had to be at least two to three inches taller than O'Neill and outweighed both of them by at least fifty pounds. The man was an attractive dark sable brown with a golden burnish to his skin. He had a shaven head and his face was that of a proud inscrutable warrior. He was a handsome individual over all, even wearing the nondescript green coveralls that had been issued to him.
He was sitting at a small table that was dwarfed by his massive bulk. Daniel smiled disarmingly and pulled out the chair on the other side of the table. The Security Policeman on duty brought another chair in for General O'Neill.
When they were both seated, Daniel started speaking in the Egyptian dialect of the Middle Kingdom. //"Hello, my name is Daniel Jackson. This is General O'Neill. What's your name?"//
In a fittingly deep bass tone, the man answered him in the same language. //"I am Teal'c."//
//"You are a Jaffa?" //
//"I am. I was the First Prime to the System Lord Apophis. I bear the mark of his service upon my forehead."//
Daniel touched his own forehead with his index finger indicating the area of the golden brand. //"Is this the mark of Apophis?"//
//"Yes, he is the snake god...a false god."//
The phrase caught Daniel's attention. //""You know he's not a god?"//
//"He is a false god, not a real one. He is only a creature, though one of great power."//
Jack cut in. "Daniel, he was speaking English earlier...can you, uh...?"
"Oh, sorry." He turned to the giant. "Teal'c, do you understand our language enough to feel comfortable to speak to us in it?"
"I do Danieljackson. It is not a problem for common conversation." The man looked for a moment as if he smiled, but Daniel couldn't be sure.
"So, you are the First Prime of this guy, Apopfish...what is that exactly? The commander?"
"Yes, Generaloneill. I held authority over the servants of Apophis." Teal'c shook his head. "But I have been a prisoner for several months, I am certain someone else has been appointed to my place by now."
The General nodded. "You were the prisoner of an enemy of your er, leader?"
"Apophis is a system lord in the ranks of the Goa'uld false gods. He has much power. He is the brother of Ra whose ship you now hold."
Daniel looked at Jack for permission, when he nodded the archaeologist said. "Ra is dead. We killed him when we took over the mother ship."
Teal'c immediately looked interested. "You killed Ra? And what of his daughters?"
Jackson continued. "We killed Goa'uld in a woman host and one as a...uh, snake before it could possess anyone."
Teal'c leaned forward. "You have seen the Goa'uld in its true form?"
O'Neill spoke up. "Yeah, ugly suckers." He looked curiously at the Jaffa. "You got one in your belly?"
The Jaffa nodded. "I do. I carry a Goa'uld in its larval form until it grows mature enough for implantation."
"Then what happens to you?" Daniel asked curiously.
"Normally, I would receive a new infant...if not, then I would die shortly thereafter."
He nodded. "That's what Janet said. It replaces your immune system."
Jack looked at him curiously. "You were a prisoner in Ra's ship. How were you captured?"
"I was on a mission for Apophis. My Teltac, my ship, was damaged and I was injured. When I awoke, I was a prisoner of Ra's Jaffa. They brought me to him as a prize of battle." He looked at O'Neill as if shaping a decision. "I determined that I would rather live as a prisoner than die in the service of a false god."
"Then you know they're not gods." Daniel pressed.
"As First Prime, I have learned that they are not infallible. They are often cruel, they can die and they use their Jaffa and other servants as animals and beasts of burden. That is not a god to me."
O'Neill nodded grimly. "We agree on that one, Teal'c."
The big Jaffa leaned across the table and put his hands flat on the surface. "O'Neill, what are you going to do with me? You have not offered me harm, yet you ask me many questions."
"Honestly, Teal'c, I'm not sure yet." the General responded truthfully. "Our goal is to use the Stargate for exploration, but we need to know what's out there so that we don't get into anything that we can't handle. We were hoping that you could give information about the Gould and the danger that they pose to us."
Teal'c looked at him thoughtfully. "I have no place now, Apophis surely believes that I am dead or has betrayed him to Ra. My position is gone, my family thinks me dead. I am free to choose my own place for the first time in many decades." He looked searchingly from O'Neill to Jackson. "I would like to offer my services to you. I, and some others of a like mind, believe that the Goa'uld are only creatures, not gods. Perhaps we may both learn from each other. I can teach you many things about the false gods, and you may teach me how to be free...and perhaps I may learn how to free my people."
Daniel looked at him in surprise. "You would betray your own people?"
Teal'c shook his head. "NO! Not my people, only the parasites that use my kind as slaves and animals. I would fight for other Jaffa and their freedom from the Goa'uld, though some will call me sholva...traitor."
The younger man looked at him in comprehension. "That is a noble ideal, Teal'c." He looked at Jack who nodded.
"Its been the way of our kind to always fight for their freedom. We'd be proud to help show you the way. I think you've already got the right idea going there." Jack looked at Daniel. "I think we need to run this by General Hammond, but I don't think it will be a problem to exchange information."
Later that evening, in the commissary, under the watchful eyes of two security guards, General Hammond, General O'Neill, Doctor Jackson, Doctor Ballard, Lieutenant Colonel O'Neill, Major Jackson, and Teal'c were eating their first meal together. They were already deep in discussion about life on the other side of the Stargate.
Nick was regaling General Hammond, Samantha O'Neill and Teal'c with his story about giant aliens and crystal skulls. Even Teal'c was listening to him with interest, after admitting that he had never seen such things. The old man was describing his experience in the giant pyramid to a fascinated audience, waving his hands in the air animatedly..
Jack spoke to Daniel softly. "Does he get this excited about everything?"
"No, not everything, this is his particular obsession. But, now that he thinks he's found the planet where the structure and the giants are...well, there's no holding him back."
Janet leaned over to Jack and said sotto voce. "I warn you, it's a family trait."
O'Neill nodded. "I think I can tell that already." He smiled at her. "How do you put up with it, Doc?"
"Put up with it, General? Heck, I just enjoy it." She smiled at her husband who was looking rather indignant. "It just makes life more interesting."
Jack laughed softly and looked across the table to catch his wife's eye and winked. She smiled back then returned her attention to the storyteller. "Isn't that the truth."