Actions

Work Header

Vash'nel Lazla

Work Text:

Dr. Daniel Jackson sat in front of a disassembled collection of chains and coils. It was once a bracelet, or maybe a bracer, of a fat gold serpent coiled up the left arm past the elbow. The serpent's head rested on the upper arm in the cleft between bicep and tricep. The serpent's tail extended down into the palm of the hand, curled around a circular void where the palm should be. Tiny chains linked to this void, the curled tail. Nearby sat the five finger caps, all of them gold, that should have attached to those chains.

He wasn't alone. Colonel Sam Carter sat across from him, Teal'c stood nearby, and Colonel Cameron Mitchell stood near the door. All of SG-1 hid here, all contemplating this delicately constructed and systematically deconstructed jewelry.

“It's similar in design to a kara kesh.” Carter held one of the coils in her hands. The naquadah lacing in the circuitry pulled at her skin, made the inner edge of the coil feel almost sticky.

“Caldwell was building himself a kara kesh?” Mitchell asked. “That sounds bad.”

“Most System Lords do not have the technical knowledge to build a kara kesh,” Teal'c mused.

“I doubt Iaso was a System Lord,” Carter mused. It took her a moment before she realized the others were all looking at her. “What?”

“You did not inform us you knew the Goa'uld's name,” Teal'c said.

“I didn't?”

“Who or what was 'Iaso'?” Mitchell asked.

“One of the Greek gods of medicine,” Daniel said with a sigh of acceptance. “The goddess of recuperation and recovery. I owe Dr. Lam a drink.”

“She called it, didn't she?” Carter asked.

Daniel nodded. “Colonel Dixon. From the way Carolyn tells it, she assisted Caldwell in the surgery.”

Carter put down the coil in shock. “That's bad,” she said.

“How's that bad?” Mitchell asked. “From what I hear Dixon's gonna be fine.”

“Caldwell doesn't have medical training,” Carter said. “Anything he did was directly due to Iaso's influence. We need to know exactly how much of her remains.”

“The Daedalus is due back this week,” Daniel said. “Sam, Cameron, I'll need the both of you for this test.”

“We're not using the memory device again, are we?” Carter asked.

“We're going low tech with this one,” Daniel promised. “You'll enjoy it.”

Carter wasn't so sure about that. Daniel had that look in his eyes. He was planning something.

*****

General O'Neill took a deep breath of relief at the crisp blank scent of recycled mountain air. The SGC would always be familiar to him no matter how long he was away. Still, he relished every opportunity to return. Even opportunities like this.

Colonel Caldwell walked half a step behind him in a way that rubbed O'Neill in some oddly wrong way. It must be the whole 'General' thing. After all, he'd tapped Caldwell personally, bringing the colonel from outside the SGC to command the Daedalus. The Daedalus needed an outside perspective, someone who would appreciate the power and potential of the ship he was given but also had spent his career studying the tactics between ships instead of between gates.

It wasn't Caldwell's fault he'd been snaked before he even saw the ship. O'Neill had to hold onto that thought.

“So how's the Daedalus now that you're...” O'Neill gestured, not wanting to say it aloud.

“Now that I'm alone with myself?” Caldwell supplied wryly.

“Yeah, that works,” O'Neill said.

“It was mostly a milk run, sir,” Caldwell said. “There was the incident on Atlantis and if I may say so, Dr. Weir can be impossible.”

O'Neill smirked. “That's Liz for you. When she decides she's right you have a choice: try to point her in the right direction or get out of the way.”

Caldwell sighed. “I'd hoped she'd be less impossible when she's not possessed by an alien consciousness.”

The smirk fell off of O'Neill's face to something more contemplative. “At least she had good timing,” he admitted. “It all get cleared up?”

“I believe so. At least, I expect Colonel Sheppard to be less willing to go along with any of Weir's future plans involving alien possession. Once they were done trying to kill each other it got easier.”

“I'll have to have Daniel read me the report,” O'Neill said. “It sounds like it'll be fun.”

“That's one word for it,” Caldwell muttered.

O'Neill stopped in the corridor and turned to face Caldwell. He deeply disliked the way the man stood at attention. None of his men ever stood at attention like that. It must be an outside military thing. “Tell me honestly, Steven. How much of it should I throw away?”

“Sir?”

“Reports, thoughts, conversations, everything you've said and written between taking command and the extraction. How much of it was you and how much goes out the window right now?”

Caldwell wasn't sure any of it should be thrown away. Iaso may have been a Goa'uld but her tactics were sound. Under her command the Daedalus did things Caldwell never would have thought possible before. “I can safely say the Goa'uld was not overly fond of paperwork,” he allowed. “You'd be surprised how much of that was me.”

“Fair enough,” O'Neill said.

“At least let me get a look at it before throwing it all away.”

O'Neill nodded and started back down the corridor. Caldwell kept pace right behind him in that unnerving subservient way. “I think Danny took the whole pile of it,” he admitted. “Everything he could get his hands on. Including all the stuff from the Goa'uld's lair. You're welcome, by the way.”

“Sir?”

“For getting rid of it all.”

Caldwell's silence spoke volumes that O'Neill didn't want to read. He changed the subject. “How's Colonel Bishop working out for you?” O'Neill asked. And that provoked a whole new silence O'Neill did not want to parse one bit. “Okay...”

“Colonel Bishop is an invaluable member of my command team,” Caldwell said. He sounded sincere but there was something in his tone that told O'Neill he was lying.

“Steven, you were snaked for the better part of a year,” O'Neill said. “I want someone on the bridge who can take over if you need it. Only if you need it, understood?”

“Yes sir,” Caldwell said. The sulk wasn't entirely hidden.

“Good,” O'Neill said. “Dismissed. Go get some sleep, you look like you need it.”

Caldwell saluted and turned down the corridor, headed for the elevator.

O'Neill watched him leave.

There was something off about that man. Something that reminded him of Sam on her bad days.

*****

The elevator doors closed, leaving Caldwell alone. He leaned against the wall and sighed, long and loud and exhausted.

He hadn't slept well in weeks, not since the extraction. The dreams would have been enough to keep any man awake at night without the rest of it.

He pushed a button, level 21, and the elevator began to move. Maybe some time in the gym would exhaust him enough so he could sleep.

The elevator opened at level 18 and people piled in. The sensation of pins prickling his skin drew his attention to Colonel Carter. Caldwell nodded.

Carter smiled. She wasn't alone.

It should have occurred to Caldwell that he was now stuck in an elevator with the entire compliment of SG-1. Dr. Jackson stood at the elevator controls, Teal'c leaned against the doors, and Mitchell carried a large box that clinked like glass. “Steven, we've been looking all over for you,” Carter said.

The prickly feeling increased as Caldwell realized something had gone very wrong.

The elevator opened on level 21 but Teal'c stood in the way. Caldwell contemplated trying to barrel his way out but he had neither leverage nor a running start. Nor even surprise. “What's this about?” he asked.

The elevator doors closed. Daniel pushed a button. “The infirmary's cleared you for duty,” he said. “Landry thinks you're safe enough. Jack will come around, he always does in these cases.”

“But we have further questions,” Carter said. “As you might expect, I have a little more experience with your predicament than the others.”

“It is nothing more than a precaution,” Teal'c said. “And I have been assured you are likely to enjoy the test.”

“That part was supposed to be a surprise,” Mitchell said.

“I have not told him what is involved,” Teal'c said.

Daniel and Carter gave little more than a token attempt to hide their smirks. Carter leaned close to Caldwell even as the proximity made her shiver. The sensation passed quickly enough. “You, me, and Cameron,” she said. “We're all going to get thoroughly drunk. Then Daniel's going to ask us all questions, one at a time. He'll keep track of our answers.”

“Why?” Caldwell asked.

“The more drunk you are, the less you can think,” Cameron said. “It's something about memories.”

“There's a chance Iaso may have left you with some of her memories,” Daniel said. “That has the potential to fundamentally change a person. We'll all feel a lot safer if we can determine who's memories are dominant.”

“The four of us will, at least,” Cameron said.

“General O'Neill prefers not to think about the implications,” Teal'c said. “He would not approve of this test.”

“Let me get this straight,” Caldwell said. “You want to get me blended to see how badly Iaso and I... blended?”

Carter grinned while Daniel groaned and Cameron glared.

“I have not known bad jokes to be a quality of former hosts,” Teal'c said.

“They're not,” Daniel insisted.

“And this is entirely off the record?” Caldwell asked.

“Hey now, let's not agree to that yet,” Cameron said. “It depends on who you really are. If you're still a Trust agent planning on blowing up Atlantis then no, this'll go on-record real quick.”

The elevator doors opened on level 25. Daniel led them all down the corridor to a set of rooms, unused VIP quarters with several rooms and a bed, couches, bathroom, everything they'd need. He waved at the camera in the corner and took a handkerchief from his pocket.

While Daniel climbed the bookcase to tie a blind over the surveillance camera Mitchell unpacked the box. He pulled out one large bottle of rum which Carter stole and held close. Whiskey came next then vodka then a bottle of something vividly blue then another bright green...

Caldwell sighed. “I guess I'm in,” he allowed. “But I want to know the parameters first.”

The parameters, as Carter and Daniel described them, were simple enough. She, Caldwell, and Mitchell would get drunk to the point where the room spun then the three of them would answer a series of questions. Daniel, who elected to remain sober, would do the asking. There was no guarantee he'd ask each person the same set of questions. Then the three of them would drink more and the questioning would begin again. This was expected to continue until someone passed out. Black-out drinking was encouraged both as Teal'c would remain sober and could sit on anyone who tried to fight and as when blacked-out the human brain lost all filters and could be expected to produce some lovely answers.

Mitchell, as someone who'd never hosted, was their negative control. Carter, as someone who had hosted and upon whom Jolinar purposefully implanted her memories, was their positive control. Once the experiment was over, SG-1 would hopefully have enough data to put Caldwell somewhere on a spectrum between 'never hosted' and 'remembers being a god'.

The experiment began.

*****

Caldwell stared at the blue liquid in his glass. The bottle had some picture of something that might have been orange peel but the picture was a bold-faced lie. Whatever this stuff was it tasted blue. It was the bluest thing he'd ever tasted. Even watering it down with rum did nothing for the blue taste. If anything, the rum made it taste bluer.

Carter lay on the bed her eyes closed as she dangled her own arms over her despite gravity. It made Caldwell wonder if the SGC had the gravity turned off but that didn't make sense.

The door to the private room opened and Mitchell came out, weaving visibly before dropping into a chair. Daniel stood behind him, a pad of paper in hand and a pen tucked behind one ear.

“Tha' you?” Carter asked. She opened her eyes and peeled herself off the bed into a sitting position. “Tell me about the rabbits again.”

“No' the rabbits,” Caldwell groaned.

“Ah just told Danny-boy about the rabbits,” Mitchell said. “I ain't tellin' it agin.”

“I like the rabbits,” Carter whined.

“Steven, you're up,” Daniel said.

“Thank you,” Caldwell said, enunciating carefully. “I've enough rabbits for tonight.”

“I like the rabbits,” Carter growled.

Caldwell stood on unsteady feet and with a grand gesture he grabbed the neck of the bottle of impossibly blue-tasting liquid and with deliberate steps he fled into the private room with Daniel Jackson.

“She's frightening,” Caldwell said. “I shouldn' be surprised, all the Erinyes are frightening. But she more th'n the others.”

Teal'c stood quiet in the corner. Only a cock of his head betrayed the oddness of that statement. Daniel, on the other hand, pulled the pen from behind his ear and began scribbling wildly. “An Erinyes,” Daniel said. “What makes you say that?”

Caldwell snorted. “You can't possibly na' know,” he said before taking a pull directly from the blue bottle. “Jolinar was one of Cronus's Erinyes before she betrayed 'im. Something about a broken oath. I don't know the particulars, I wasn' there.”

“Where were you?” Daniel asked. “If I might ask.”

“Hidin' out, mostly,” Caldwell admitted. “We all got tired of Father taking credit for our work and overthrew him. He didn' take it too well, started picking us off one by one. Meditrina was first, then Aglaea, then Aceso. Panacea tried ta join 'im, the bitch, but tha' didn't work out. Hygieia and I were the last then he found her. And then Teal'c found 'im.” Caldwell raised his bottle of blue to Teal'c. “I never got the chance to thank you for tha'.”

Teal'c looked uncomfortable as Daniel took copious notes. “Well you have to understand, it's not common for a human to thank someone for killing their father,” Daniel said as though this wasn't thoroughly abnormal.

“Humans are either lucky or unimaginative,” Caldwell said. “I used to think it was the second one. Then I spent time among them. They are incredibly lucky.”

Daniel nodded as he turned to a blank page. He put the pad of paper down and placed the pen on top of it. He folded his hands before him. “Iaso,” Daniel greeted. “How did you survive?”

Caldwell smiled, a low chuckle falling from his lips. It set Daniel's hair standing on end. “The same way Jolinar survived, of course,” he purred. “We both know tha's not Sam Carter out there asking about rabbits. It hasn' been her since Jolinar took her for the tel mo'kalach.”

Teal'c moved imperceptibly in the corner. Daniel kept him still with a raised hand. “What is the 'tel mo'kalach'?” he asked. “I haven't heard of it.”

“Of course not,” Caldwell said. “The Tok'ra don't want you to know about it. If the host isn't tortured horribly during extraction the Goa'uld might decide to stay. Leave its memories behind. A human's mind is really nothing more than applied memories. I'm sure Jolinar thought she was doing your friend a favor when she made Sam remember everything, it had nothing to do with wanting to avenge her own death like a proper Erinyes.”

“And you?”

“This was vengeance, my dear,” Caldwell purred. He took another pull from the bottle. “Against those who would use me to destroy such a pretty thing as Atlantis. Against the small minds trying to run that city.”

“I'm sure Colonel Caldwell had some opinion about this vengeance,” Daniel said.

“I'm sure he did,” Caldwell agreed. “But I'm not sure what he wanted matters anymore. We remember things differently now.” He raised the bottle. “Shal met, ho'mok.” He drank as Daniel sat pack and pondered this new unfortunately reality.

Steven Caldwell was gone, leaving this dual being in front of him. He'd suffered the same fate as Sam Carter.

*****

Daniel Jackson poked at his laptop, paging through the incriminating pictures. There were so many of them he didn't want to contemplate what it meant. It was too much to hope this might all be coincidence, not considering what he'd found.

His office door opened. Daniel paid it no mind, not until the hand closed his laptop, barely missing his fingers. Daniel looked up to find Jack O'Neill. He pushed O'Neill's hand off of his laptop and opened it again.

"Security informed me," O'Neill said. “I know what you've been doing. I suppose it's too much to ask you didn't find anything."

“You know better than I, Jack,” Daniel said. “If you don't want the answer, don't ask the question.”

O'Neill sighed and pulled up a chair, sinking down into it heavily. “Every time I forget it happened, something like this comes up,” he lamented. “Snakes. It's always snakes.”

Daniel hummed. He stopped in mid-sound as he found something particularly intriguing. From there he clicked through a few pages to find paydirt. “At least we can use this,” he said. “We know there are Goa'uld hiding on Earth. We know the identity of one formerly of their number. We know what Goa'uld are like.”

“Egotistical megalomaniacs,” O'Neill said.

“With no concept of money and a strong sense of narcissism,” Daniel agreed. He clicked on a picture to bring up its details. It was an art site, originally meant to be a place for small artists to gain exposure. Over a short time fanart popped in and then the commissions. This commission was a full body portrait of a beautiful scantily clad woman with a serpent wrapped around her left arm. Her white dress clung to her form leaving nothing to imagination. Blood dripped from the fingertips of her left hand, staining the white linen a sticky red. But what unnerved were her eyes. Daniel felt like he'd seen those soft brown eyes before. He turned the picture to O'Neill.

“Nice,” O'Neill said. “Anyone we know?”

“Unfortunately, yes,” Daniel said. “This is Iaso. The Goa'uld extracted out of Caldwell.”

O'Neill cleared his throat and shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

“Given the elements that don't match Earth's mythology I have to assume Iaso commissioned this herself,” Daniel continued. “The artist lists the person who paid them as 'WingsofDaedalus'.”

O'Neill pinched the bridge of his nose. “Great.”

Daniel turned the laptop screen back to himself and clicked back to the artist's profile page. There were other commissions like this one, each of them a different patron, all of them paid up front. All of them gods of some type or another. “Erzulie Freda,” Daniel said, reading their names. “Sun Wukong. Thalassa. Pazuzu. Anansi. There are more.”

“Is it at all possible these are the Goa'uld we already found?”

“I don't think so,” Daniel said. “The timing's wrong. These commissions were placed after we extracted the last group. The last group hasn't shown any of the signs that...” He trailed off as he looked at O'Neill. “Jack...”

“Caldwell was part of a new group then,” O'Neill said, ignoring Daniel's meaning. “We haven't found them all. I'll let the President know.”

“Jack,” Daniel said, not backing down. “Caldwell's like Sam.”

O'Neill went silent, the icy glare boring into Daniel's soul. Or it would have if Daniel wasn't... himself. The man merely raised an eyebrow as though waiting for O'Neill to quit this foolishness.

“Caldwell's a dual being, much like Sam is,” Daniel said quietly. “They show the same loss of the human self when compromised, they have the same hedonistic preferences. They're showing the same reaction to symbiote poison.”

“Then it's safer to keep Caldwell on the Daedalus,” O'Neill said. “I don't want him running around Earth unsupervised. Not until we know where his loyalties lie.”

Daniel nodded. That was the best he was going to get out of General O'Neill, then. The man despised the idea that Sam might still be compromised by Jolinar, everyone knew it. Pretending it wasn't an issue wasn't the healthiest way of dealing with it but it was easier on everyone involved.

O'Neill left, quiet anger leaving a trail behind him. Daniel sat back before coming to a decision. Stage one of the experiment was a stunning disturbance. Stage two was about to begin.

*****

The back of his throat tasted like death, his every exhale stank of spiced acid, his head throbbed with the sensation of a thousand needles poking from within, his skin twitched with a line of itchiness that felt ominous, and the sheets were a luxurious softness Caldwell hadn't felt since before the extraction. At least one thing had gone right.

He stretched, feeling skin slide across glorious soft that caressed him all over in all the right ways and smelled even better, like a woman's embrace.

And then that part made sense as he felt the bed next to him move and an arm draped over his bare skin and bare breasts pressed against his back. Caldwell opened his eyes, squinting against the piercing bright of the SGC's artificial lighting. These were not his quarters. This was not his VIP cell. This was not his bed.

A feminine voice groaned next to him as someone curled against him, her face trying to burrow underneath him. “Turn off the light,” Carter grumbled.

Caldwell sat up and blinked through bleary eyes at the figure standing in the doorway. Daniel Jackson had full control over the lights as evidenced by the hand on the switch and the ominous grin on his face. “Rise and shine,” he taunted.

Carter threw herself into a sitting position, vitriol in her voice and posture as she snarled and spat. “You did this to us!” she crowed. “This is all your--” She scrambled out of bed and into the bathroom just in time for the retching to begin.

Caldwell pulled these delightfully soft sheets over himself and curled back up in the bed. “Urrrrg...” He didn't feel much better than Carter must have, though he was able to quell the roiling in his stomach through force of will.

“I see you're still alive,” Daniel said. “That's good. I expected you would be but Teal'c had hope. You might want to avoid him and Jack for the next few days. I'm sure you understand.” He left, leaving the lights on.

Caldwell hid under the pillow. He was almost able to quell the stabbing in his head before the itching crawled up his spine and the pillow disappeared. He looked up to see Carter holding it like a weapon.

“Daniel dosed both of us,” she grumbled, glaring at the door. “I knew he'd dose you but me? Again?”

“Dosed?” Caldwell sat up and scrubbed his face with one hand. At least there was less naked now, Carter wore a t-shirt and panties. “You knew about this. What did you do to me?”

“It had to be in the rum,” Carter said. “I knew it was wrong that we only had one bottle of rum. And Cameron had his bottle of whiskey. Couldn't have been the blue stuff, I know better than to touch the blue stuff. Symbiote poison's blue, it's too easy to hide it in there. But it turns clear in alcohol...”

“Wait, you dosed us with symbiote poison?” Caldwell asked. “Why?”

“Because you're you!” Carter insisted. “You hosted but you're not the same. Nor am I. Nobody's ever the same after. It changed us, Steven. We're different now.”

“Symbiote poison.”

“It's harmless to humans,” Carter said, dropping onto the bed. “It's deadly to Goa'uld. We still have naquadah in our systems so it's not harmless. But it's not deadly. It just causes a hell of a hangover the next day.”

“You dosed me with a poison... without my permission?”

“Welcome to the Stargate program,” Carter said dryly. She stood up and trudged into the bathroom. “I'm taking a shower. Don't be here when I get out.”

He didn't plan on it.

He didn't plan on it but the next thing he knew he was awoken by the sound of water stopping. He shook his head, still fuzzy from the night before, and dragged himself out of bed. He found some semblance of clothes, yesterday's pants, and pulled them on.

The bathroom door opened. Carter stood there wearing a towel, a second towel in her hands as she dried her hair. “At least you got that far,” she sighed.

“We didn't do anything last night, did we?” Caldwell asked.

Carter tossed the towel in her hands onto the bed and pulled open the top drawer of her dresser. Among the intimate clothing there were a few baubles that shouldn't have been there. “Doubt it,” Carter said. “We were both too drunk.”

“Then why am I here?”

Carter pulled a few choice pieces from the drawer. The gold armband fit snugly over her bicep underneath any clothing, the mismatched glass bottles held scented oils, the underwear was much softer than anything regulation. “You wouldn't stop complaining about the hard bed and the scratchy sheets. I took pity on you.”

Caldwell noticed one of the glass bottles was quite familiar. It was one of Iaso's, commissioned a few scant months before to hold something precious. He reached into the drawer and pulled out the bottle.

“One of yours,” Carter agreed. “I believe Daniel has the rest.”

Caldwell pulled the garnet stopper. The scents of cinnamon and myrrh drifted from within. He closed his eyes and inhaled, feeling the lingering headache fade as the smell reminded him. He dipped the stopper's glass shank into the oil and withdrew it, a fat gleaming drop of oil clinging to the glass. He ran his finger along the shank, the oil collecting on his skin. He drew the oil along his neck under both sides of his jaw, sighing as he did so.

“You should be careful with that,” Carter said. “You don't want the others finding out.”

“What will they do, poison me?” Caldwell asked. “Give me to the Tok'ra? There's nothing left to extract. Their discomfort does not concern me.”

“It should,” Carter said. “Jack's hated the Goa'uld ever since they killed his friend. My experience with Jolinar did not help. He turns a blind eye where I'm concerned but I guarantee you will not have the same luxury.”

“No, I have the Daedalus. I'm here on Earth, under his scrutiny, one week out of eight. It's quite unfortunate, Earth has some amazing delights for someone like you.”

Carter scoffed. “I don't partake.”

“Really?” Caldwell gestured to the bed and its sinfully soft sheets, thousand thread-count cotton worn down into a softness that couldn't not be enjoyed. The dresser drawer barely hid its collection of jewelry, of gaudy lab-grown gems fat and pure and shining beneath the silk and cotton of non-regulation underwear. The bottle of Iaso's own oils sat on Carter's dresser, contraband looted from another Goa'uld's collection. He guessed if he looked around the room he'd find more, little touches all tucked away where no one would see without an invitation. Like Iaso's sanctum aboard the Daedalus, kept secret until its violation upon her discovery.

“I don't partake where others can see me,” Carter amended. She growled the words like they hurt to say, looking away at a blank spot on the floor.

Caldwell slid oiled fingers under her jaw, enveloping her in the scent of holy anointing oil. He drew her to look at him then raised his hand to her forehead. His finger traced a single simple curve in the center of her forehead as her eyes fell closed and she sighed.

Then it all went wrong. Her eyes shot open and she slapped him, eyes flashing with fury. “How dare you deify me!”

Caldwell stepped back, refusing to bring a hand to his cheek. “Why shouldn't I?” he asked. “You don't deserve to be trapped here, hiding like a Tok'ra among the faithful, a spy without a master. You are a goddess, you always have been.”

He did not expect the strength of her attack. Before he knew it Caldwell found himself pinned to the wall, Carter's arm at his throat. His air wasn't cut, merely restricted. “Take it back,” she snarled.

“Cronus used you,” Caldwell purred, almost as though he didn't care that she could kill him like this. “He ruled his Systems through fear. Fear of the lash, fear of his power. Fear of his Erinyes. Fear of you. Fear is just hatred postponed and he forced you to accept that hatred in his stead. No wonder you defected.”

“You sound like Ba'al,” Carter spat.

“I'm not surprised. He's successful. He knows better than to rule through fear.”

“There is no rule without fear.”

“You're wrong.” Caldwell smiled, gently pushing away the arm that would have strangled him. “True power is the look in your slaves' eyes as you give a command and watch as they fight themselves over who gets to obey first. Loyalty is the truest form of adoration a Jaffa can show his goddess. I had that loyalty on the Daedalus. I intend to get it back.”

Carter pulled away. She didn't seem to care that her towel was lost on the floor. She stood naked and glorious, looking for all the world like the goddess Caldwell insisted she was. “Surely you don't expect me to help.”

“Of course not. I earned it on my own then and I will again. No, I offer. One week out of eight I'm set free on Earth. There are wonders here that will have you believing in adoration. I will see you a goddess again, Jolinar. You won't have to hide anymore. Not with me.”

Carter pointed at the door, disdain written all over her face. “Get out,” she ordered.

Caldwell bowed once and smiled. “Let yourself remember,” he said. “Before Cronus twisted your fury.” He left.

*****

The Daedalus left orbit. Caldwell examined his nails, freshly manicured in a suitably masculine manner. His quarters contained a few choice pieces, replacements for what the SGC stole from him when they declared him 'compromised'.

Colonel Bishop watched him from his post at the navigator's station. Caldwell had grown to expect it, though this time he had no intention of willingly accepting Andromeda's chains around his wrists. This ship was his once, loyal servants of the goddess Iaso even if they didn't realize it.

They would be his again. But this time they would know. They would choose their service. And they would adore him for it.

“SWIFT window in ten seconds,” Captain Meyers said from her station in the back.

“Take it,” Caldwell commanded. “Take us into hyperspace.”

The universe faded into blue.