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Ripples in the Deep

Chapter Text

August 4, 1998 (Earth reckoning)
P3X-774 – Nox Homeworld
Milky-Way Galaxy

1 week; 7 days; 168 hours – that much time did not seem to be much in the scheme of things, but to Dr. Daniel Jackson, formerly of earth, that length of time marked a monumental change in his life. One week earlier he had had a job working for Stargate Command, friends – his teammates on SG1 and others in the SGC, and a home – either his apartment or his office in Cheyenne Mountain. Granted his job going through the Stargate was dangerous, but still his life was relatively stable. And he had been happy. The only things that were missing in his life were his wife, Sha’re, who was a prisoner of the Goa’uld, and the others of his adopted family from Abydos.

But now . . . but now everything had changed. He was dependent on his hosts, the Nox, for everything. He had tried to do the right thing by helping the Tollan escape from earth to keep them from being virtual prisoners of the NID. In return he had been accused of trumped up charges of treason and had been himself forced to flee. He had tried to do the right thing, and in return it seemed that his life had just gone down the drain.

Daniel wasn’t sure what he was going to do next. Lya, Anteaus, and Ohper had made it clear to him that he was welcome with them on the Nox homeworld, but there was only so long he would be willing to impose on their kind hospitality. And after over a year of fighting the Goa’uld and searching for his missing wife, there was only so long that he could stand sitting idly by doing nothing.

He was shaken from his thoughts as a crunch of leaves nearby heralded the approach of Ohper, one of the oldest of the Nox and one of the friendliest toward the Tau’ri. Daniel scooted over so Ohper would have room to sit down on the log beside him.

The old Nox passed Daniel a wooden bowl full of hot-spiced tea before also taking a seat.

“Have you thought more about your plans for the future?” Ohper asked. “You will be welcome among us for as long as you wish to stay.”

“I know, Ohper, and I thank you. Your hospitality and generosity has been much appreciated.” Daniel replied. “I have really enjoyed my time here, but I want to move on soon. I need to keep on looking for my wife.”

“An admirable goal. But where will you go? You told me that you were reluctant to go to any of the worlds that your people are now allied with for fear of being captured or putting your allies in a difficult position?”

“I really don’t know, Ohper.” Daniel said with a sigh. “In time the Stargate on Abydos, the planet where my wife is from, will be unburied. Hopefully I will be able to return there. In the meantime I might try some of the other planets in our database that are far down the list for the SG teams to visit. Besides this, I really don’t know.”

The old Nox was quiet for a minute before he spoke again. “I spoke with Anteaus last night about you, about any ways within our beliefs that we could seek to help you if you choose to leave us.” He paused for a moment to sip from his own bowl of tea before continuing. “There is one place we know of where you will be safe, where in time you would likely be able to seek help for your wife.”

Daniel looked up in surprise from where he had been staring at the ground. A light of hope flickered in his eyes. “Tell me, please!”

“Long ago the Nox were once part of the Alliance of Four Great Races. You would have seen some evidence of this while you were on Heliopolis, as you mentioned that you were last year.”

“Yes, we learned a little bit about them. Through our recent interactions with Thor and the Asgard and our earlier interactions with your people, we had managed to identify two of the four but still didn’t know anything about the other two.”

“The Nox and the Asgard were two of the races in this Alliance. The other two were the Ancients, the builders of the Stargate, and the Furlings.”

Daniel’s eyes widened at this statement.

Ohper continued, “The Ancients no longer dwell here or concern themselves with the affairs of this galaxy. The Furlings left this galaxy long, long ago after to escape a deadly plague. After wandering for many, many years they eventually settled in a neighboring galaxy near to that which the Asgard inhabit. They are interested in the affairs of this galaxy and would likely be willing to offer you asylum. . . I believe that is your term for it.”

“Yes, that’s right,” said Daniel, “But why would they be willing to help me? And how would they help me rescue Sha’re?”

“They would help you,” Ohper replied, “because they value justice and honor. Your government had no right to attempt to detain the Tollan, and they would say that you did the right thing by helping them even though it cost you greatly. As to your wife, the Furlings are enemies of the Goa’uld and are currently planning their downfall. They might in time be able to free her from captivity.”

A powerful race that was an enemy of the Goa’uld – this was the SGC had been searching for but had never been able to find. But there was something that bothered Daniel. “If they are enemies of the Goa’uld, why haven’t the Furlings down something already? The Goa’uld have controlled the galaxy for thousands of year. Also, why haven’t we heard about the Furlings before?”

A small frown flitted across Ohper’s face for a split second and then was gone. “The Furlings have, until recently, had their own problems to deal with that kept them from attending to matters pertaining to the Goa’uld. As to your second question, you have not heard of them before because they have not dwelt in this galaxy for a long time.”

Now it was Daniel’s turn to frown. “If they haven’t dwelt here in a long time, how did they become enemies of the Goa’uld?”

“That is their story to tell, not mine.” Ohper replied. “We could send a message to them this very day if you wish. I would encourage you to go to them. I think you would be happy there. The Furlings are a good and wise race, and they have a massive library on their homeworld that I believe you would greatly enjoy.”

“Well,” said Daniel with a smile at Ohper’s final sentence, “that sounds like a good a plan as any for the present.”

Ohper rose from his seat on the log and beckoned for Daniel to follow. Even with the plan decided, they still walked at a comfortable pace down a short hill back to the small village with the Nox that SG1 had met on their first visit to Gaia lived. Ducking into one of the huts, Ohper returned a minute later with two small stones. One was carved in a script that resembled a mishmash of Tolkien’s Elvish and Urdu, the current language of Pakistan. The other was of similar size but of a lighter color with no markings what so ever.

“Come,” Ohper said and beckoned for Daniel to follow.

“If the Furlings live in another galaxy, how will you contact them?”

“Through the Stargate,” Ohper replied.

“How?” Daniel asked. As far as the SGC knew, the Stargate only dialed gates within their galaxy.

“You will see.”

Daniel and Ohper continued the rest of the way to the Stargate in companionable silence. Nafrayu, the young and curious child that he was, met them part of the way there, sometimes walking with the two adults, other times trotting along in the woods on a parallel path.

When they reached the Stargate which had been temporarily unsealed, Ohper held the light colored stone in one hand. As he did so, it began to glow with a yellowish light. The event horizon on the Stargate instantly formed without the usual kawoosh. Ohper handed the other carved stone to Nafrayu who, approaching the Stargate, tossed it gently into the event horizon. After a moment, the Stargate shut off.

“Now what?” Daniel asked.

“Now we wait.” Ohper replied. “It will not be long.”

A half-an-hour passed quietly by Daniel’s watch without any sign of life from the gate. The forest, too, was quiet. Only the occasional birdsong could be heard and the rustle of the wind in the leaves and grass. But finally the silence was broken as the gate began to dial. Nafrayu with a look of great excitement on his young face ran forward to join Ohper and Daniel by the DHD.

“They’re here!” The boy cried in delight.

Daniel took a deep breath as he watched the wormhole form. It was time to face the future whatever it might hold. He hoped that he was making the right decision.

Chapter Text

August 4, 1998 (Earth reckoning)
P3X-774 – Nox Homeworld
Milky-Way Galaxy

For a long moment nothing happened. The wormhole was open, but no one came through. Then the event horizon rippled, and three figures stepped out, two a half-step in front of the third.

It was all Daniel could do to keep his mouth from dropping open in shock. These people were the Furlings, and they were nothing like he could have ever imagined, even after traveling the galaxy for over a year and watching sci-fi movies with his former teammates. Almost all of the races that the SGC had run across so far were human, not counting the Goa’uld. The Nox were not exactly human, but they certainly looked human. The Asgard were surprising in appearance, to say the least, but considering the stories on earth about the Roswell Greys, he had gotten used to them rather quickly.

The Furlings, on the other hand, if these three were good examples of how their whole race looked, were another matter altogether. To Daniel they looked like beings more appropriate coming out of the X-Men or perhaps Norse or Egyptian mythology.

All three figures were humanoid with two arms, two legs, two ears, two eyes, and a nose, but that was about as far as the resemblance to humans went. The two Furlings in front looked extremely similar to wolves, if one could compare aliens to animals from earth. They walked on two feet and had paws instead of hands. Their faces looked like someone had placed a wolf’s head on a human body, and they were covered in thick fur from the tops of their ears down to their feet. The one on the left had grayish fur that grew darker around his forehead and ears. The one on the right had black fur except for a handful of lighter hairs scattered across his face and down his neck.

“At least they’re wearing clothes,” was one of Daniel’s first thoughts. He still had trouble getting used to the Asgard’s lack of clothes, no matter how many civilizations he had been in during his time as an archaeologist and then with the Stargate Program. All three of the Furlings were clothed in what appeared to be, from a short distance away, tunics and trousers of the same material in a uniform, dark color. There was no adornment on any of their clothes except for silver colored arm-guards that each of the three wore.

The two wolves, for lack of a better term as he did not know their names, advanced several steps forward as they scanned the area, ostensibly for threats. Daniel believed they were acting as bodyguards for the third person who had stopped in the grass just one pace out from the Stargate.

This person, the one in the back, was the most striking of them all, bearing a similar appearance, in Daniel’s mind, to some representations of Bastet, the ancient Egyptian cat goddess. This person was similar in the most basic ways to the other figures; the only point of real difference was that they resembled wolves while this one resembled best of all a black panther with coal black fur and golden eyes.

When the two wolves had finished scanning the area, they stepped two paces to either side, allowing the panther to step forward. The panther approached Ohper who had also stepped forward. The two spoke to each other for a few moments in a language, harsh and rough, which Daniel guessed was Furling, as it did not sound like the language the Nox spoke. Ohper gestured to Daniel as he spoke, and Daniel almost shivered as the panther turned calculating, farseeing golden eyes upon him. It felt like those eyes could see right through him.

After finishing speaking with Ohper, the panther turned to the wolf with black fur and spoke in the same tongue for a moment. The wolf nodded and gave a half-bow with one fisted paw across his chest.

As the panther turned his or her attention back to Ohper, Daniel, and Nafrayu, Ohper began to speak, “Daniel, this is Lady Sujanha of the Furlings,” gesturing to the panther, “and her bodyguards, Ragnar,” gesturing to the wolf with grey fur, “and Ruarc,” motioning to the wolf with black fur.

Ohper then turned to Sujanha and spoke in her tongue, obviously introducing Daniel to her. She inclined her head gracefully in greeting and spoke a string of rough and harsh sounding words to Ohper who translated her words for Daniel’s benefit, “She says that she is pleased to meet you, though she wishes that it were under better circumstances.”

“Thank her for me, please,” Daniel replied with a nod of greeting of his own to the lady.

Ohper did so, and now that introductions between the grownups were complete, the source of Nafrayu’s earlier excitement became clear. He had waited patiently through the long introductions and polite greetings but now dashed forward to throw his arms around Sujanha’s waist, whilst chattering quickly to her in Nox.

The part in Daniel that had been somewhat intimidated by the fearsome appearances of the three Furlings thawed at Nafrayu’s obvious delight at seeing them and the lady’s kind response. She smoothed one hand (paw?) through his grassy hair and replied to him in the same language with as close to a kindly smile as she could possibly get when said smile exposed teeth that could tear through flesh like a knife through butter. When she had finished speaking, Sujanha lifted the boy with a barely a hint of effort so that he could scramble onto a perch on her back.

Ohper then motioned for them all to follow, and they started to make their way back toward the village. Only Ruarc remained behind. When Daniel looked back, Ruarc was about to step back through the Stargate, likely to his homeworld, and was holding in one paw one of the same strangely glowing stones like that which Ohper had used to activate the Stargate to send their original message to the Furlings.

Ohper and Sujanha walked at the head of the party as they made their way through the woods. They spoke between themselves in Furling. Daniel could only guess at what they were speaking about as he walked a few paces behind them, keeping a wary eye on Ragnar, Sujanha’s sole remaining, hulking bodyguard who paced at the rear of the group.

In another fifteen minutes or so, the group reached the Nox camp. Lya and Anteaus came out to greet them as they returned. From their greetings, it was fast becoming obvious to Daniel that Lady Sujanha, at least, was well-known among the Nox. Lya showed the group to the seats where SG1 had first spoken to the Nox on their first trip to Gaia some time previously. When they had all taken their seats and had been served bowls of hot, fragrant, spiced tea, Sujanha with Nafrayu curled up beside her began to speak. When she had finished speaking, Ohper began to translate her words into English.

“Before you tell her your story, Lady Sujanha would like to know some of the background of your planet’s use of the Stargate.”

Daniel was thrown off by this for a moment, but it made sense after he thought about it, so he just shrugged his surprise off and replied, “Of course.”

Sujanha must have guessed at what he had said, for she immediately spoke another sentence in Furling which Ohper translated, “How long has your planet been using the Stargate?”

This question threw him off too. Did she want to know how long they had been using the Stargate on a regular basis, or how long since they had used the Stargate after it was first rediscovered? “We rediscovered the Stargate about 70 years ago. It was used once 53 years ago, but we have only used the Stargate on a regular basis for a little over a year.”

The lady’s face seemed to grow puzzled at this. She spoke back and forth with Ohper for a minute, before Ohper turned to Daniel, “The gate was lost?”

“Yes,” Daniel replied, “The Stargate on earth was buried for a long time after an uprising against the Goa’uld.”

“How long is a year? Sujanha knows time is measured differently among different peoples, and she would find it helpful to understand how your people measure time.”

Explaining time estimates on one planet to an alien from another world when they were not even on the first planet, this sounded difficult to do on the surface, but thankfully in this case, it was rather simple to explain. “On earth we measure time by how long it takes for our planet to rotate on its axis, one day, and around the sun, one year.” Daniel stopped here to let Ohper translate.

Sujanha immediately nodded in recognition. “The Furlings do the same,” she said through Ohper.

Daniel continued, “A year is made up of 365 or 366 days. A day is made up of 24 hours. Half-an-hour is about the time from when Ohper sent the message stone through the Stargate to when you and your guards arrived.”

As Ohper translated this slowly into Furling, Sujanha’s face showed little change in expression, but Daniel was usually good at reading people and thought she understood.

“Thank you. How did you become acquainted with the Stargate?”

“I had lost my previous job, and the Air Force brought me in to translate the hieroglyphs on the coverstone which lead to us being able to reopen the Stargate.” He almost stopped here but realized that he needed to clarify a few things. “Hieroglyphs are an ancient form of writing that most people don’t know how to read. The coverstone was a huge circular block of stone used to block up the gate and keep it from activating.”

Sujanha pondered this for a minute before she gave her reply to Ohper. “By Air Force, do you mean part of your world’s military?”

“Part of my country’s military?” Daniel clarified.

Sujanha definitely looked confused as this statement was translated for her. “Countries? You have multiple on your world?”

“There are about 200 different countries on earth right now.”

In a very human gesture of exasperation or disbelief, Sujanha passed a paw across her eyes. Her lips moved in soundless speech, but Ohper translated nothing of what she was saying. After a moment, she waved the same paw that was not curled around Nafrayu’s small shoulders in an obvious gesture of dismissal.

“So you said you helped your people reopen the Stargate?”

Daniel nodded.

“Have you been involved since then?”

Daniel nodded again.

“Did you stay on your own world, or did you travel off-world?”

“Both,” Daniel replied, “we, my team and I, traveled off-world to specific world for specific missions, but we continued to live on Earth.”

“And who was involved in the running of the Stargate?”

“Most were, uh are, military personal.”

“And what was the purpose of your exploration?”

“To procure knowledge and advanced technologies that could benefit the protection of Earth and its inhabitants.”[1]

“And it was during your explorations that you ran into the trouble that led to your exile?”

“Yes,” Daniel replied.

“Then tell me about it in as much details as you can.” Ohper said for the lady.

“My team and I had traveled to a planet called P3X-7763 by us and Tollan by its people. When we stepped through the gate, we found the planet on the brink of total destruction because of volcanic activity. The planet’s temperature was heating up. The atmosphere was full of ash and thick smoke. There were lava runs opening up on the surface. It was clear that the planet was soon going to be totally uninhabitable. As we were about to dial home, we found a number of survivors from the local population almost suffocated by exposure and the volcanic ash in the air. We called in reinforcements from Earth and evacuated the survivors back to our world. We treated them at our base the best we could but quickly found out that they were from a much more advanced culture. The Tollan, that was also the name of these people, were mostly a very arrogant people as a result of their advanced culture and technology. This made it difficult for us when we tried to find them a new home until they could travel to their new home – these survivors we rescued had stayed behind to close the gate.” Daniel paused here to get a drink of tea and let Ohper translate.

As Ohper did this, Daniel’s eye caught upon Ragnar, the hulking wolf-like bodyguard of the Furling lady. Daniel had noticed that he had not sat down with the rest but, after getting caught up in the discussion which had been going on for a while now, had lost track of what the other Furling was doing. Ragnar was pacing around the Nox encampment in a rather meandering route, sometimes straying farther out to go around their wooden homes, other times pacing close to the group. This simple action told Daniel a lot about the kind of world the Furlings came from and the problems that they had had up until recently. Daniel had seen Jack and Teal’c doing much the same thing on previous missions, scouting the area and watching for danger while the others examined ruins, talked with the locals, or did other things. Ragnar seemed uneasy, almost tense even on Gaia, a friendly planet. His eyes moved from point to point in the woods scouting them for any sign of dangers, and then just as quickly his eyes returned to Sujanha, keeping a careful eye on what she was doing and what those around her were doing.

Daniel was torn from these musings as Ohper finished translating the first part of his story and Sujanha motioned for Daniel to continue. “We settled the Tollan as best we could in our base while we tried to find a world among our allies where they could settle temporarily. Unfortunately, the Tollan were displeased with our allies because they were deemed to be too primitive. In the meantime, word about the Tollan’s advanced technology spread outside the SGC, our base. The President of the United States, the country in which the Stargate is located, sent Colonel Maybourne from the National Intelligence Department, also known as the NID, to get information from the Tollan about their technology. Colonel Maybourne also brought orders from the President that released the Tollan to the custody of his Department which would make them prisoners of our government in all but name.  The NID was willing to hold the Tollan by force and make them cooperate by force if necessary, even though the Tollan had clearly stated repeatedly that they did not want to stay and were not willing to share their technology.”

Daniel paused here again to let Ohper translate which also gave him time to ponder his next words. In a few minutes he was able to continue. “General Hammond, the commander of the SGC, tried to stop Colonel Maybourne from relocating the Tollan but failed. In the meantime, my teammates and I came up with a plan to help the Tollan escape. The hands of the military personnel on base were tied for fear of court-martial if they disobeyed the orders of the President, but I was not in the military so I thought I was safe. I told the Tollan leader Omoc about the Nox and their world, and with their technology the Tollan were able to get a message to the Nox who were willing to receive them. I led the Tollan back to the gateroom to see them off. Maybourne tried to stop the Tollan from leaving; he even authorized the guards to shoot the Tollan if need be to stop them from leaving. He threatened me first with a court-martial, but, when he had learned that I was not in the military, he promised to have me charged with treason for disobeying a presidential order. With the influence Maybourne and the NID had over the president, I knew I was in trouble. When Lya motioned me to come with her, I took a chance, and here I am.”

Daniel finished his story quickly in a rush of words. The anger and bitterness but more the sadness welled up as he picked at the scab as he retold the story of his exile. He missed his friends; he missed his books; he missed his home. But he knew if he had stayed, he would have likely been imprisoned, at worst, or at least thrown out of the Stargate program, and he needed to find his wife. This was the only good choice he had had that would let him continue his search.

The glade was quiet for nearly ten minutes after Daniel finished his narrative while Sujanha appeared to mull over his story. Finally, she spoke.

“Why did you seek us out? Surely, there must be other worlds you could go to?” Ohper said for her.

“Ohper suggested that I seek you out, since I don’t have any good options of other places to go. Earth has several allies on other worlds, but I don’t really want to go to them for fear of being captured or putting them in a difficult position. Also …” Daniel paused for a moment and then continued, “my wife is a host to a Goa’uld, her brother too. I am hoping that you might be able to help them someday: I was told that you are planning the downfall of the Goa’uld.”

This time Daniel could see anger flit across Sujanha’s usually expressionless face for a moment. “You have my deepest sympathies for your loss. Please know that the Furlings are planning to do all that we can to save the tormented hosts of the Goa’uld. Our healers will do what they can for your wife and her brother when they are found.”

Daniel was only able to incline his head in wordless thanks. The new sense of hope that Sujanha’s words had given him filled his eyes with tear and choked him up so that he did not think he would able to get the words out for a few moments.

Sujanha’s words, when she next spoke, were almost slightly hesitant, though this tone made sense when Ohper translated her words. “I am sorry to have to ask this, but is there anyone who can confirm your story? I do not call your honor or the truthfulness of your narrative into question, but it is customary except in very extreme circumstances that one who seeks asylum have witnesses that can confirm his story.”

“Omoc of the Tollan could tell what happened with the NID before our escape, and Lya could tell you what happened after she came through the gate.” Daniel replied.

Sujanha processed this and then spoke again. Daniel guessed that she was asking where Omoc was, since Ohper did not translate her words. Anteaus rose after a moment and walked into the woods in the direction of the nearby Tollan encampment.

At a word from Sujanha, Nafrayu leapt up from her side and, coming over to Daniel, grabbed his hand and pulled him gently away from the group. “They want to speak alone,” the boy said, “it is the custom.”

Daniel and Nafrayu wandered together through the woods while Sujanha spoke with Lya and Omoc. Daniel had to restrain himself from turning around to look at the clearing. His future was being discussed, and he felt just a little nervous. It was nearly half-an-hour by his watch before Nafrayu turned back toward the clearing. Daniel and Nafrayu returned to their seats, and Omoc greeted Daniel politely—Omoc appreciated the sacrifice Daniel had made for the Tollan even if he still was not fond of less advanced cultures.

Once everyone was settled, Sujanha began to speak. Daniel was surprised when she spoke, not through Ohper and not in Furling, but in English. But then Daniel remembered how quickly the Nox had learned English and decided he really should not have been surprised that this Furling lady could learn English quickly also.

She learned forward as she spoke, resting her forearms on her knees. “I have heard all parts of your story that are able to be given, and you have my deepest sympathies, Daniel Jackson, for all you have gone though and all you have lost.” She spoke slowly and in a slighted stilted manner. Her intonation and pronunciation was slightly off, also, but what she was saying was still understandable. “Any government that imprisons beings unjustly and without cause should be cleansed. The orders that your president gave simply could not be obeyed. My words might mean nothing to you, but I say you did the right thing, even though your actions came at a great cost to you.”

“Thank you,” Daniel replied, even as the linguist side of him started to analyze her speech, the words she choose, and the formality of her speaking style.

“Unless you wish to change your request for asylum,” she paused here, and Daniel shook his head, “then you must come to Furliona on the next day. When I return there, I will submit your case to the High Council for review, and tomorrow we will examine your case in detail and will either grant or deny your request for asylum. Lya and Omoc must accompany you to witness on your behalf, and, if possible, Ohper should also accompany you as translator.”

Daniel mentally noted the we when Sujanha spoke of the Furling High Council and decided to ask Ohper privately about it later. Outloud, he spoke, “I don’t know how to thank you enough.”

“Your thanks is appreciated but unneeded. I would do no less for others with a story such as yours.” Sujanha replied. Her tone was solemn, and her golden eyes seemed to hold a depth of understanding that Daniel could not yet comprehend.

At a break in the conversation and after Omoc had left to return to his own people, Lya spoke, in English for Daniel’s benefit, “Would you stay and eat with us, Lady, before you return to Furliona? The hour grows late.”

Only now did Daniel notice how the light was starting to fade and the shadows in the forest were starting to lengthen.

“I thank you, Lya, for your kind offer, but I have business to attend to at home before the day ends, so I fear I must refuse.”

Lya accepted the refusal with kind grace and a kind smile, “Of course, I understand.”

Sujanha here turned her attention to her bodyguard who was still continuing his meandering walk around the edge of the clearing as tense and watchful as he had been hours earlier. She spoke a couple quick sentences in Furling to her bodyguard and then gave Nafrayu, again curled up at her side, a little nudge.

The boy popped up like a jack-in-the-box and trotted over to Ragnar who had stopped his pacing when his lady had spoken. The other Furling stuck one massive paw into a pocket in what was actually a jacket, not just a shirt as Daniel had previously thought. Pulling out the carved stone Nafrayu had tossed through the gate to summon the Furlings that morning, Ragnar handed the stone to the boy after patting him gently on the head, an action which looked to Daniel almost comical given how imposing and scary Ragnar looked. Nafrayu took the stone carefully and, trotting back across the clearing, carefully handed it over to Ohper.

As the meeting was now clearly over, the participants started to disperse. Anteaus and Lya spoke quietly to Sujanha for a moment and then to their son and then left. Sujanha remained sitting on the ground where she had been sitting for hours nearly unmoving; Nafrayu was chattering quietly to her, and she had not stopped him yet. Daniel and Ohper both rose and walked to the edge of the clearing.

“You do not need to remain, Daniel,” Ohper said, “I will accompany the lady back to the Stargate.”

Daniel nodded but remained, thinking that he should at least say goodbye or thanks again or something to Sujanha considering all she was doing to help him. So Daniel waited, unsure quite what to say but not wanting to leave without saying something. He glanced back to see if Sujanha and Nafrayu had finished speaking yet. They apparently just had, for Nafrayu had popped up again and was trotting off into the woods. When the boy had left, Ragnar left his wanderings and made his way into the clearing. Daniel could hear his rumbling speech but could not make out specific words. Stopping by Sujanha, he reached out a large arm and just as large paw. When Sujanha had reached up and wrapped her own paw around his forearm, he pulled her easily to her feet. She stood silently for a few seconds still holding onto Ragnar’s steadying arm before releasing him and started to make her way toward Daniel and Ohper. Daniel, who felt that he had just observed something he should not have seen, looked away just in time. Neither Furling noticed he had been watching.

Stopping by Ohper, Sujanha patted him on the shoulder and said something in the Nox tongue that made Ohper smile.

Then looking over at Daniel she said, “I will see you tomorrow, Daniel Jackson.”

“Thank you again, lady, for all your help,” Daniel replied.

Sujanha gave a small nod in acknowledgment. Then, with Ohper leading the way, she disappeared into the woods with Ragnar, the ever watchful bodyguard, pacing close by.

Chapter Text

August 5, 1998 (Earth Reckoning)
Gaia
Milky-Way Galaxy

Morning came much too soon in Daniel’s opinion. Once Ohper had returned the previous evening from escorting Lady Sujanha and her bodyguard to the Stargate, Daniel and his Nox hosts had eaten a quick supper. (Daniel was very hopeful that the Furlings were not vegetarians like the Nox: he was getting rather tired of only eating fruits and nuts and vegetables and the like. He missed the steaks that his teammates and he would get at O’Malley’s sometimes.) Then Daniel and Ohper had talked for many hours about the questions that the long conversation with Sujanha had raised, most importantly the answer to the we she had spoken of in reference to the Furling High Council. Daniel was quite surprised when Ohper had revealed that Lady Sujanha sat on the High Council herself. That helped explained a little, Daniel thought, why she had brought bodyguards with her onto a friendly world. With these and other matters to discuss, it was well into the night before Daniel and Ohper retired to rest.

It seemed to Daniel as he awoke to a bright, new day that he had just laid down to rest. The birds were singing outside, and bright sunlight shone through the entrance to his hut. He could hear Lya humming a low tune as she made breakfast. In the background came the sound of Nafrayu bounding around the small village: the boy seemed to brim with energy no matter the hour. With a sigh Daniel dragged himself out of his bed and changed from the spare clothes the Nox had given him into his BDUs.

Lya greeted Daniel with a friendly smile and a kind greeting as he exited his hut, “Good morning, Daniel.”

“Good morning, Lya,” Daniel replied in kind.

“Come and sit,” she said, motioning to a large log beside the cooking fire, “breakfast will be ready in just a few minutes.”

Daniel took a seat. He was not sure if he actually wanted any food. The meeting of the Furling High Council taking place later that day would determine his future: where he could go, what he could do, what steps he could take to find and free Sha’re and Skaara. As a result his stomach was filled with a bundle of nerves. He did, however, gratefully accept the cup of tea that Lya passed him.

Within a few minutes Anteaus, Nafrayu, and Ohper joined them, and Lya passed around wooden bowls full of porridge sweetened with crushed berries and a thick sweet substance comparable to honey on earth. Daniel picked slowly at his food and managed to eat about half of it by the time the others had eaten their fill.

“We should leave for the Stargate as soon as we are all ready,” Ohper said, “to make sure we reach the homeworld of the Furlings in plenty of time for whenever we are called to speak at the Council Meeting.”

Daniel looked up from his contemplation of his porridge and nodded his assent.

“We will very likely have time to walk around, but it is better to be early than late,” said Ohper.

Daniel nodded again. He did not like to be late either, though he had a bad habit of getting lost in examining a new artifact or working on a new translation and then being almost late or actually late to a briefing with General Hammond and the rest of SG1.

After saying goodbye to Anteaus and Nafrayu, Daniel together with Ohper and Lya left the small village of the Nox and headed through the hill country toward the Stargate. The walk took about an hour. Omoc, who had come from the Tollan settlement, met them at the Gate. Ohper pulled the light-colored stone that served as an auto-dialer from a pocket of his clothes. Just as on the previous day, the stone began to glow with a yellowish light. Then the event horizon on the Stargate instantly formed without the usual kawoosh.

“Are you ready?” Ohper asked Daniel kindly.

Daniel took a deep fortifying breath. “I hope so,” he replied, looking towards where Omoc and Lya stood waiting in front of the Stargate.

“Then come. Let us go.” Ohper said, putting a fatherly hand on Daniel’s shoulder.

Seeing Daniel and Ohper start to approach, Omoc and Lya with a ripple in the blue event horizon stepped into the wormhole. With Ohper’s steadying presence beside him, Daniel too stepped into the Stargate, continuing on the path started the previous day that would change his life forever.


The 11th of Ihom, 6545 A.S. (August 5, 1998)
Furling Homeworld
Asteria Galaxy

The four travelers emerged from the Stargate onto a circular stone platform about ten feet in diameter and about four feet off the ground. Steps running around the edge of the circle led down to the floor. The hall in which the Stargate was house was simply massive. Daniel, glancing around and back in shock as his feet mechanically followed Ohper and the others down the steps, estimated that the room was at least one-hundred yards long and perhaps twenty yards across. The towering walls were made of finely cut and polished blocks of stone. Far above the heads of any passing through the room, the stone walls curved gently inwards, supported by thick beams of metal colored to match the stone, which Daniel could only see when a beam of light bounced off them.

Lining the edges of the building, at ground level, were large alcoves. Some were empty, but many were filled with beautifully carved, life-like statues from what Daniel could see in the closest alcoves. These statues depicted massive figures of various races. None that Daniel could see appeared to be human, though many were humanoid. Several had the animalistic appearance that might be typical of the Furlings. One statue almost directly across from the Stargate depicted a figure that had scales, deeply sunken eyes, a flat nose, and no ears. Another nearby statue depicted what appeared to be a human-sized version of an Asgard. Several other statues seemed to be of the Asgard themselves.

A voice broke through Daniel’s contemplation. One of Lady Sujanha’s bodyguards from the previous day was coming forward. It was the smaller of the two wolves, the one with black fur. Daniel thought his name was Ruarc.

“My lady Sujanha sent me here to greet you and act as your escort. Uslisgas is large, and my lady did not want you to lose you way during your time here.” Ruarc spoke, ostensibly to the group, but met Daniel’s eye as he spoke. Surprisingly, Ruarc spoke in English, since he had not been there for the conversation the previous day in which Sujanha and likely Ragnar had learned it. More surprisingly, his English, while not fluent, was more much advanced than Lady Sujanha had been. Daniel wondered at that change and also wondered while Uslisgas meant, perhaps it was the name of the city.

Ohper stepped forward and replied in kind, “Lady Sujanha is generous. Thank her for us.”

“Of course,” Ruarc said, inclining his head in acknowledgement.

“Ruarc,” Ohper said, beginning introductions as there had only been the barest introductions the previous day and then Ruarc had left quickly to return to the Furling homeworld, “this is Doctor Daniel Jackson, who has requested asylum among the Furlings, and this is Omoc of the Tollan, who will speak as witness to the Council on Doctor Jackson’s behalf.”

The wolf inclined his head in greeting to each of the newcomers in turn. He appeared to already know both of the Nox. “I am pleased to meet you, though I wish it was under better circumstances. My lady told me of your circumstances yestereve, Doctor Jackson, and you have my sympathy.” Turning to Omoc, he continued, “It is good of you to speak on his behalf, Omoc of the Tollan. My lady Sujanha wished me to say that she wished to speak to you at a later date. She thinks that there is profitable business that the Furlings might do with the Tollan.”

“I will speak with her, but any agreements will have to wait until I can speak with my government.”

“Of course,” Ruarc agreed. After a moment he continued this time speaking to the group, “The High Council had many things to discuss in today’s meeting, so it will be at least two hours before they are ready to hear your request. I can escort you to Sujanha’s Headquarters where you can pass the time comfortably, or, if you prefer, I can give you a tour of Uslisgas.”

Daniel knew which choice he would most definitely prefer. A chance to tour a city built and controlled by the Furlings, to talk with and ask questions of a real, live Furling, a race the SGC had only ever heard the barest mention of, was like a dream come true. He could get more information walking around for a couple of hours here about the Four Great Races than he could pouring over tablets and ancient records for days on end. Yet, he hesitated momentarily to make his wishes known, waiting to see what the others preferred.

Omoc and Ohper both stated that they preferred to wait at Sujanha’s Headquarters. Then Lya said in her quiet voice that she would like to see the city, as she had not been to the Furling homeworld before. Finally, then Daniel spoke up and added that he, too, would like to see the city.

With the wishes of the party split evenly, Ruarc said, “The guards for the Stargate will be changing shift any moment. I will get one of them to escort you,” motioning to Omoc and Ohper, “to Headquarters, and I will escort the lady and Dr. Jackson around the city.”

Then, motioning for the party to follow him, the wolf started striding toward one end of the great stone hall. After a few moments, he drastically slowed his pace so that the others could keep up with his pace. As they got closer to the walls, Daniel was interested to note the excellent construction of the stones. He could barely make out where one block ended and the next began. Ruarc stopped two paces short of running face first into the stone wall. He waved one great paw through a small patch of air right next to him. As he did so, a small holographic keypad, for lack of a better word, appeared in mid-air. Ruarc tapped in a long code. When he had finished, there was a humming noise that filled the air. Then there was a flash of bright white light that obscured everything. The next thing that Daniel knew was that he was standing in a totally different room. Corridor actually.

Ohper seemed unbothered. Daniel and Lya both looked and felt surprised, through it showed less through Lya’s almost-calm facade. Omoc, on the other hand, only looked extremely intrigued by the show of power.

“Forgive me, if I startled you,” Ruarc said, his brown eyes darting from one person to the next, “we have found it necessary over the years to keep a careful guard on our Stargate.”

They were saved from having to reply, when voices, speaking the rough tongue of the Furlings, were heard coming their direction. A few moments later, two Furlings appeared around a sharp curve in the corridor. One looked like some sort of undomesticated feline, perhaps a bobcat. Daniel was not an expert in zoology, especially if the animal was not from the Near East. The other looked like … Actually, Daniel was not sure what he or she looked like. Some sort of reptile maybe?

Ruarc seemed to know them both. He called out something in Furling. Daniel was only able to understand the first word: “Katar.” A name perhaps, a guess that seemed likely when the feline broke off from his companion and approached Ruarc, greeting him with a shallow bow and a fisted paw over his chest. The two spoke in Furling for a few moments, before Ruarc turned back to his waiting guests.

“Ohper, Omoc, this is Katar. He is heading towards my lady’s Headquarters. He will take you there and give you over to the care of Asik, the lady’s chief aid, who will see to your care.”

Katar bowed again in greeting to Ohper and Omoc and then motioned for them to follow him. Ohper spoke a quiet word in Nox to Lya, and then the elder Nox and the Tollan followed Katar back in the direction from which he had come.

Ruarc started walking again but in the opposite direction from Katar. “There are many exits to the Hall of the Stargate. Katar will lead Ohper and Omoc to the one facing Sujanha’s Headquarters. The exit I am leading you towards faces the Great Square and the main sections of Uslisgas.”

The wolf led Lya and Daniel through several corridors that all looked exactly the same. Finally, they came to a large alcove type room, on the side of the corridor made of metal, that seemed especially bright. Ruarc made the same motion as he had in the hall that housed the Stargate. Another holographic keypad appeared, and he typed in another long code. With a whoosh of air, the alcove was revealed to be an entrance or exit and the wall of metal itself a door. A large curved section of metal slid smoothly into the wall on one side, leaving behind a large arched doorway about eight feet high and wide enough for three people to walk abreast.

It took all Daniel’s control not to gasp, gape, or stare wide-eyed as he and Lya stepped outside with Ruarc. They were standing at the top of a long staircase that stretched all around the outside of the curved Hall of the Stargate as far as one could see. The steps were steep and were, Daniel estimated, at least fifty feet long. Below them for miles a neatly ordered city spread across the colorful landscape. A yellow sun flanked by two small moons, another reminder that he was on earth no long, illumined the whole city. Far beyond the city limits, rolling fields and massive forests could be glimpsed. Even further out mountain peaks shot up into the blue sky.

Almost directly in front of the long Hall of the Stargate and located a couple hundred yards away was a large great open square, which was surrounded by buildings of various sizes. There seemed to be a number of people in and around the square.

Noticing Daniel’s gaze, Ruarc said, “That is the Great Square of Uslisgas or the market place depending upon whom you ask. Many people pass through it every day. It is used as a gathering place to sit and eat or talk. All the shops, I believe that is the correct word you would use, are located in and around the Square.”

Motioning for them to follow, Ruarc started down the stone stairs but kept talking as he walked. “The large square building just to the north of the Square is the Halls of Healing for the lower city. All in need of healing are admitted, even prisoners of the military. There is a second Halls of Healing on the Acropolis.”

“Acropolis?” Daniel asked, pushing his glasses back higher on his nose. His mind jumped to the Acropolis in Athens and how visible it was. Where was this Acropolis?

Ruarc stopped suddenly and turned back. “Just turn around, and you will see.”

Lya and Daniel both stopped also and turned around, careful not to slip on the steep stone steps.

“Wow!” Was all Daniel could say as he made a full turn.

The Acropolis of Uslisgas towered above the surrounding landscape. The cliff face was almost vertical and soured to a height of several hundred feet. Daniel, afraid of heights, almost felt dizzy just looking at the cliffs. He was reminded of the White Cliffs of Dover on the coast of England, although these cliffs were made of much darker stone. Parts of several buildings were visible, set somewhat back from the tops of the cliff face, though without a better pair of glasses, Daniel could not see how the Acropolis was accessible.

“How tall is it?” Lya asked curiously.

Ruarc rattled off a sentence in Furling which seemed to answer her question. He then said to Daniel, somewhat apologetically it seemed, “I don’t know how to give you the figures in English.”

“That’s okay,” Daniel replied, his attention still half on the Acropolis.

“Let us keep moving,” said Ruarc after a moment, “you can see more of the Acropolis later: the High Council Building stands there.”

As the three started to move down the steps towards the Great Square, Daniel finally asked a question that he had been wondering since exiting the Stargate, “Ruarc.”

The Furling’s head twitched in Daniel’s direction, indicating he was listening, even as Ruarc kept most of his attention on descending the steep staircase safely.

“The statues in the Hall where the Stargate is, who are they of?”

“The heroes of many races who have aided the Furlings in past ages and past wars. Without many of them, as a race we would not exist as we do today, but that is a long story and better saved for another time.” As he finished speaking, they reached the bottom of the long stairs. Ruarc picked a path that led directly toward the Great Square.

The hum of voices from the Square that had been barely audible on the stairs grew steadily louder as the three traversed the long path that led from the Hall of the Stargate to the Great Square. Now that they were on the same level, Daniel could see that most of the surrounding buildings around the Square were only one to three stories high.

“Who all owns shops here?” Daniel asked.

“Anyone is allowed to,” Ruarc replied, “as long as they have the money and gain permission from the Governor’s Office, which is not hard at all.”

“What all do the shops sell?” Daniel asked, glancing around from side to side as they passed through the first row of shops. He caught a glimpse of a fountain in the center of the Great Square shooting water high into the air.

“Most anything made or grown on planet or brought in by traders from off-world. Food, clothes, trinkets, weapons, household supplies, musical instruments, among many other things.” Ruarc replied.

The noise level, though never extremely loud, continued to increase as they passed through the two rings of shops into the Great Square itself. Creatures from many races, big and small, familiar and not, moved about the Square. The new arrivals garnered no attention: there were more things to draw attention than a Nox or another human. Ruarc led them on a path that cut across one corner of the Square.

“Stay close!” He told them, “the crowd is smaller than usual today, but I do not want you to get separate from each other or from me.”

Scattered throughout the Square were a number of carts of varying size, displaying wares of various types. “Those who do not have the money to buy or rent a shop can gain permits to sell their wares in other manners. You can often get very interesting stories out of these traders if you ask nicely.”

After another few minutes walking, they left the Great Square through an exit diagonally opposite to the exit through which they had entered. This exit seemed to be a more popular one, as there were many more people, going both ways, that passed them. “One of the main roads into and out of the city is located in front of us,” Ruarc explained.

After passing through two more rows of shops, Lya, Daniel, and Ruarc stopped at the edge of this main road. Only foot traffic was visible as far as the eye could see. Daniel was surprised, considering the advanced technology that the Furlings should have had as a member of the Alliance but which was not very visible of yet, considering the beaming technology seemed very similar to that which Thor had used when freeing the Cimmerians from Heru’ur and his Jaffa.

“Ahead of us,” Ruarc began, “is the residential part of the Uslisgas. Most permanent inhabitants of the city live here, though some, like Lady Sujanha, live outside the city.” The residential buildings were made of a dark stone, and none appeared to be over six stories tall. Ruarc stopped talking long enough to start walking back towards the Acropolis and then began again, “Ahead of us is the first of the Halls of Healing in the City. Farther ahead and to the left are the city gardens and a small lake. It has plants from all across the galaxy and from Ida.”

“Ida?” Daniel asked. He did not think he had heard that name before.

“The galaxy in which the Asgard live,” Ruarc replied.

Lya asked Ruarc a question in Furling, and the two went into a long discussion in Furling for several minutes, after which Ruarc apologetically explained that her question had been too complicated for his limited English, though in Daniel’s mind he spoke better English than many people in the United States who spoke English as a native language.

After walking for a couple more minutes in silence, Ruarc turned slightly to Daniel, who had been looking back and forth and all around, and asked, “Something puzzles you.” It was a statement, not a question.

Daniel hesitated a moment before replying, not wanting to offend his hosts, “After seeing the Nox’s floating city and Supreme Commander Thor’s way of dealing with the Goa’uld on one of his safe worlds, I guess I was just expecting a city that was just a little more …” He trailed off. He knew in his mind what he wanted to say but was not sure of how to put it in words.

“Obviously advanced?” Ruarc offered.

“Something like that,” said Daniel hesitantly.

Seeing Daniel’s hesitation, Ruarc replied, “I take no offense, Doctor Jackson: your question is a very understandable one.”

“Daniel is fine.”

The Furling nodded his assent and continued on, “The Furlings are an old race. We number our history in many tens of thousands of years. Yet, compared to the Asgard and especially the Ancients we are very young. It was over 45,000 years ago, as we measure time, that we first met the Asgard and then some years later the Ancients and the Nox. But by that time the Asgard were already allied with the Ancients and the Nox and had been exploring outside Ida for tens of thousands of year.”

Ruarc paused long enough to guide Daniel and Lya across the road and onto a path that would take them around the far side of the Halls of Healing and then began to speak again, “We are old now, but we remember when we were young and the thousands upon thousands of years it took to advance to a level even near the Asgard. We, as a race, prefer to do what we can with our own hands and under our own power rather than rely over much on technology to do our work. When we encounter things that we cannot do ourselves, we will create or sometimes borrow technology to help us.”

“Thank you for such a detailed answer,” Daniel said, his mind already going over carefully what Ruarc had said and correlating with what little he knew of the history of the Alliance and of the Asgard.

“You are welcome,” Ruarc replied.

Coming around the corner of the Halls of Healing, a large building made of stone, a beautiful site was revealed as Daniel and Lya caught site of the city gardens about one hundred yards in front of them. Stone pathways meandered through brightly colored shrubs. Benches, available for people to sit down on and rest or admire the view, were shaded by trellises covered by vines or flowers. Massive trees with long, thick branches over shadowed all, and through a gap in the trees, Daniel could even see the lake that Ruarc had mentioned earlier. Even from where they were standing, a short distance off, Daniel could smell the sweet scent of the flowers.

“It is beautiful,” Lya said.

The three wandered throughout the garden for some time, enjoying the quiet and the peace. Daniel could feel the stress he had earlier felt start to melt away.

Suddenly, the stillness of the garden was broken by a quiet chirp. Daniel and Lya stopped walking and turned back to where Ruarc was trailing at a slower pace. He had stopped and was holding his arm out in front of him and was speaking to a small holographic figure seemingly projected from the thick, silver-colored arm-guard on his right forearm. Ruarc spoke in Furling, so Daniel could not understand what he was saying.

When the hologram disappeared, Ruarc said, “We need to start making our way toward the Acropolis. The High Council will soon be ready to hear your case, Daniel.”

“What about Ohper and Omoc?” Daniel asked, as the three started to walk out of the gardens.

“A message has been sent to Asik, Lady Sujanha’s aid. He will make sure that Ohper and Omoc make it to the High Council Building.” Ruarc replied.

When the group had exited the confines of the garden, Daniel was surprised when they did not turn towards the Acropolis but continued straight on towards a small building. The interior of the building, Daniel saw as they entered it a few minutes later, was smaller than its exterior made it seem. There was only one room, its walls made of stone.

“It is possible to walk up to the Acropolis, but the path is long and tiring,” Ruarc said as he opened another holographic keypad and began typing in yet another code, “it is easier and much quicker for us to beam directly to the High Council Building.”

He typed in the final part of his code and then took two giant steps backward so he was next to where Lya and Daniel were standing waiting. The same hum as earlier sounded, and then all three figures were engulfed in a bright, white light.

Chapter Text

When the bright light faded, Daniel, Lya, and Ruarc were in an entirely new place. The room in which they had been deposited was small, possibly an alcove of sorts, as Daniel could see a much larger room through an archway and hear the murmur of nearby voices. The architecture in the High Council Building, from what Daniel could see, was somewhat different than the other buildings he had seen. Polished, carefully-cut blocks of stone, bearing a vague resemblance to sandstone, made up the lower part of the wall up to a few feet above his head. The soaring ceiling above the stone and the partition between the alcove and the next room were both made of a dark colored wood.

“Come,” said Ruarc, motioning them to follow.

Outside the alcove was a much larger room which seemed to serve as the entrance hall of the building. On the far side of the room was another alcove. To their right were doors that led outside, just swinging shut. To their left were two hallways that led further into the High Council Building and two massive wooden doors, beautifully carved and set into a stone archway, that Ruarc murmured softly led to the Great Hall where the High Council met.

Waiting in the entrance hall were Ohper and Omoc and another person, who appeared human. Daniel wondered if this person was Asik, Lady Sujanha’s aid, who Ruarc had said would make sure Ohper and Omoc reached the High Council Building in time for Daniel’s hearing.

As Lya walked across the room to join Ohper, Ruarc turned to Daniel and asked, “What do you know of the High Council?”

Daniel blinked, surprised at the question. He readjusted his glasses on his nose to give himself a moment to think and then replied, “Very little. I know that Lady Sujanha sits on the High Council and that the High Council determines matters of asylum. Ohper made a few inconsequential references to it last night when we were talking after Lady Sujanha departed, but that’s about all I know.”

Ruarc nodded, “Come then. Let’s go up the hall. We still have little time left, and events will make more sense if I explain a few things.”

Ruarc led Daniel out of the hall and up the left passageway a short distance to a small room, except for a round, wooden table and half-a-dozen chairs. Ruarc motioned for Daniel to sit but stayed standing himself. As Daniel took a seat, Ruarc waved his arm through the air above the table. Another holographic screen appeared in the air: not a keypad like the ones he had already seen, but a screen with vague similarities to a computer interface. Ruarc started speaking as he quickly made his way through various screens.

“The High Council of the Furlings is the main governing body of our realm. Its power in most cases is below that of our King but above that of the courts. There are eight High Councilors and one High Chancellor who governs the High Council and serves as tiebreaker when there is no clear majority.”

Ruarc paused long enough to tap another spot on the screen and bring up a new screen with nine small pictures on it. Then he continued, “Each High Councilor plays a specific role in the government or in the military.”

Tapping one of the pictures made it enlarge to fill most of the medium-sized holographic screen. “This is Kadar, the High Chancellor. He is one of the elders of our race and greatly revered for his wisdom and experience.” Kadar appeared to have the form of a lion but with fur that was more bronze than gold.

Tapping the screen twice brought up two pictures. Daniel instantly recognized one as Sujanha. The other one looked exactly like a ram except that its fur was black and it had barely visible ears. “You know Lady Sujanha of course. She is the Supreme Commander of the Furling Fleet.” Gesturing to the ram, Ruarc said, “That is Anarr, the Supreme Commander of the Furling Army and the lady’s brother.”

Daniel was not sure whether he was surprised or not that Lady Sujanha was a military commander or not. Some of her behavior made her seem like the type; some not so much. “Their titles sound like Thor’s,” he noted.

“Correct,” replied Ruarc, “we borrowed the title from the Asgard long ago.”

Ruarc tapped the screen twice again and brought up two new pictures. The figure on the left looked like an eagle with grey feathers, but the one on the right looked entirely human. “This is Ari,” said Ruarc, motioning to the eagle, “the Chief Judge of our judicial system. He is one of the oldest of our race,” motioning to the other figure, “that is Kari, our Chief Ambassador. She manages relations between the many different races that inhabit this galaxy.”

“Are they related?” Daniel asked. “Their names are extremely similar.”

“I don’t believe so, although if you go back far enough we are all related,” Ruarc replied.

Two more pictures appeared on screen: one an owl, the other a canine of some sort. “The one on the left is Inga, the Chief Scholar. The other is Ilaris, the Chief Healer.” Ruarc was obviously speeding up and shortening his commentary. Time was growing short before the meeting.

The last set of pictures came up: one a polar bear, the other some variety of monkey, possibly a chimpanzee or an orangutan. “The one on the left is Ibûn, our Chief Engineer, and the other is his sister, Almiel, our Chief Armorer.”

Ruarc swiped his hand through the screen, instead of tapping on it, and the screen disappeared. He motioned for Daniel to follow as he led him back to the entrance hall but kept talking as he walked. “You will likely be asked similar question what the lady would have asked you yesterday. Lya and Omoc will also be questioned. All in all it will be very similar to your meeting with the lady yesterday.”

As Ruarc and Daniel joined Omoc, Ohper, and Lya, the massive carved doors, leading into the Great Hall, which were wide enough for four men to walk abreast, began to swing open. What moved the doors was unclear. Perhaps internal mechanisms hidden to the eye.

Ruarc patted Daniel gently on the shoulder, “Farewell until we meet again.”

The room into which the four visitors entered was large. Quite large. Daniel, eyeballing the distance, guessed it was about 30 feet square. Stone walls soared up into a stone roof, made similarly to cathedrals on Earth. Lamps glowing with a bluish flame and held up by intricate metal holders were set into the walls all around the Hall at an even distance. In the shadows not illuminated by the lamps, Daniel could just make out at least a dozen guards in armor more like Marvel’s Iron Man than medieval knights. In the center of the Great Hall stood a large platform in the shape of an upside-down U on which the members of the High Council sat behind a dark table.

The low murmur of their voices continued unabated, and they, as a body, did not yet acknowledge the entrance of the newcomers. Sujanha, however, looked up, her golden eyes scanning the chamber until they landed on Daniel and the others. Daniel met her eyes and was given a slight nod of greeting in return before she returned her attention to the ongoing discussion.

A few more minute’s passed, and the matter, preceding Daniel’s application for asylum, wound to an end. When there was a pause altogether in speech, Sujanha rose slowly and began to speak.

Ohper began to translate her words, careful to keep his voice low, “Before this meeting of the High Council ends, I have another matter which I wish to bring to the body’s attention.”

Kadar, the High Chancellor, spoke when she had finished, “Speak, and we will listen.” His bronze fur was thrown into strange relief by the blue flames that illuminated the room.

“Yesterday, I was summoned without warning by the Nox to Gaia. Ohper, one of the eldest of their race who is known both to me and this body, met me at the Stargate. With him was a young human from Midgard who was recently forced into exile by his people. At Ohper’s recommendation, he wishes to request asylum among us. I have heard his testimony and the testimony of two witnesses and count his request worthy of merit. I now recommend his case to the High Council so that it might make its own decision and then that we might vote on whether he might take shelter among us. With him our two witnesses—Omoc of the Tollan and Lya of the Nox—who can speak to the truth of his account.”

Kadar’s eyes swept across the Great Hall until they rested upon the small group standing by the doors. “Are these they of whom you speak, Commander?”

“They are,” she replied, “Ohper came, also, as translator.”

“Approach,” the High Chancellor commanded.

When Daniel and his companions were standing by the bottom of the U-shaped platform, Kadar spoke again, “Tell us your name and any titles for the record.”

“I’m Doctor Daniel Jackson of Earth, uh, Midgard. Doctor means I’m a scholar.” As soon as Daniel stopped speaking, Ohper translated his words carefully into the tongue of the Furlings. Kadar’s reply was then translated from Furling back into English. The slow but necessary process had to be repeated every time someone spoke.

“Why do you seek asylum among us?”

“Because I was forced into exile by the actions of my government.”

“Tell us with as many details as possible how this came to be.”

Daniel took a deep, fortifying breath and then, with an encouraging nod from Ohper, began to tell his story for the second time in as many days. “I come from Midgard. Once our world was controlled by the Goa’uld. Eventually they were driven from our planet during a rebellion, and the Stargate was buried for thousands of years. Then eighty of our years ago, the Stargate was rediscovered. Mostly by chance, we managed to open the gate once 53 years ago, but we only truly discovered how to use the gate two years ago. After learning of the Goa’uld and the great dangers they posed, we began using the gate regularly last year. We began sending small teams—3 to 5 men each—out into the galaxy to make allies and hopefully find technology which we could defend ourselves with.” At a signal from Ohper, Daniel paused there to let Ohper translate.

Within a couple minutes Daniel was able to continue. “About ten days ago, my team and I traveled to the planet we called P3X-7763. We had sent a probe through the gate earlier and found it habitable, but when we actually went through the gate, we found the planet on the brink of total destruction because of volcanic activity. Temperatures were rising. The air was choked with ash and thick smoke. Lava runs were opening up nearby. It was clear that the planet was soon going to be totally uninhabitable. As we were about to dial home, we found a number of survivors from the local population dying near the gate. We dialed Earth for extra manpower and evacuated the survivors back to our world.”

Daniel paused again to catch his breath and let Ohper translate and then continued. “We treated the survivors at our base the best we could but quickly found out that they were from a civilization much more advanced than ours. The Tollan, as they were called, were mostly a very arrogant people as a result of their advanced culture and technology. Finding that their new homeworld to which the rest of their people had already been evacuated was not in the gate network, we tried to find them a temporary home for them among our allies until they could somehow travel to their new homeworld. Unfortunately, the Tollan were displeased with our allies because they were deemed to be too primitive, so we were unable to find a place for them.”

“In the meantime, word about the Tollan’s advanced technology spread outside the SGC, our base. Colonel Maybourne was sent from the National Intelligence Department, known as the NID, to get information from the Tollan about their technology. Colonel Maybourne also brought orders from the President of the United States, the country in which the SGC is located, that released the Tollan to the custody of his Department, an act that would make them prisoners of our government in all but name. The NID was willing to hold the Tollan by force and make them cooperate by force if necessary, even though the Tollan had clearly stated, repeatedly, that they did not want to stay on our world and were not willing for any reason to share their technology.”

“General Hammond, the commander of the SGC, tried to stop Colonel Maybourne from relocating the Tollan but failed. The best he could do was stall for time. In the meantime, my teammates and I came up with a plan to help the Tollan escape. None of the military personal could help for fear of court-martial—military discipline for disobeying orders. I wasn’t in the military so we thought I would be safe. I told the Tollan leader Omoc about the Nox and their world. With their technology the Tollan were able to get a message to the Nox who were willing to reopen their Stargate and receive them.

“I led the Tollan back to the gateroom to see them off. When Lya came through the gate to get the Tollan, Maybourne did all he could to stop them, even authorizing the guards to open fire on the Tollan. He threatened me first with a court-martial for helping them, but, when he had learned that I was not in the military, he promised to have me charged with treason for disobeying a presidential order. With the influence Maybourne had over the president, I knew I was in trouble. Lya motioned for me to come with her, and I took a chance. Yesterday, Ohper told me of your people and advised me to seek asylum among you. And here I am”

Struggling to keep his voice level, Daniel finished his story. Retelling it again made him miss his home more. He missed earth, the SGC, and his teammates greatly, but at the same time he was thrilled at the possibilities for a new life and for a chance to rescue Sha’re that were starting to unfold before him.

After Ohper finished translating the rest of Daniel’s story, the High Council spoke quietly among itself for several minutes. Then Kadar turned towards Omoc. Ohper, paraphrasing, not translating, related what the High Chancellor had said. “The High Chancellor wishes you tell your experiences during these events, starting as far back as you feel necessary to give context to your story.”

“I am Omoc. Our world was called Tollan. Not long ago my people made contact with a world called Sarita, which was in the same solar system as ours. Our peoples became allies, and in time we gave them technology to produce unlimited energy. The Saritans used the device to make war. Within a year, they had destroyed their planet. The shockwave from its destruction shifted the orbital alignment of Tollan and set off a chain of seismic disturbances as well. Our planet quickly became uninhabitable. We evacuated our people by ship. My team and I remained behind to close the gate so that no one could stumble upon our world and be harmed.

“While waiting for our rescue transport to arrive, Dr. Jackson and his companions came through the gate. Thinking they were helping us, they evacuated us back through the gate to their world. Because our new homeworld is not in the network of Stargate at this time and also due the fact the SGC could find no suitable planet for my people and I to go to in the meantime, we had no choice but to remain at the SGC for a time. One night shortly after we had arrived on earth, we left the base to examine the stars so that we could judge the distance to our new homeworld.”

“The means we used to leave the base … which harmed none … attracted the attention of a Colonel Maybourne.” The half-sneer on Omoc’s face as he said Maybourne’s name made clear what he truly thought of that man. “His goal was to acquire our advanced technology for Earth’s use by whatever means necessary. We were to be released to his custody where we would have lived as prisoners. But with the secret support of General Hammond, the commander of the SGC and the support of Dr. Jackson and his teammates we were put in contact of the Nox who were willing to receive us. When we escaped from our holding rooms where we were under guard and made our way to the Stargate, Maybourne threatened to harm us if we attempted to escape and threatened Dr. Jackson with treason for disobeying the orders of the leader of his government. Lya led us through the Stargate to her world and offered him the chance to come with us.”

The High Council spoke quietly among themselves for nearly ten minutes before asking Lya to give her side of the story. Speaking in Furling without the aid of Ohper as translator, she told her tale at length. Daniel, not knowing Furling, could not understand what she was saying but still thought she might have started all the way back at SG1’s first meeting with the Nox, given the length of her story. Yet, finally, she finished. The High Council spoke among themselves for many minutes, before Kadar spoke again directly to Doctor Jackson.

Translating the High Chancellor’s words, Ohper said, “The High Council has two questions for you, and then they will make their decisions.”

“Of course,” Daniel replied. He would have been surprised if they had had no questions at all.

“Can you elaborate on what the fate of the Tollan on earth would have likely been if they had been forced to go with Colonel Maybourne?”

“Life imprisonment in, as one of my teammates put it, a ‘nice little community with high walls, guards, maybe a little barbed wire.’ They would have been treated well, but they would not have been allowed to leave their compound and would have been forced to share their knowledge of Tollan’s technology which could aid us in our fight against the Goa’uld.”[1]

“What is treason, and what is the common punishment for committing treason?”

“As defined by the laws of my country, in which the Stargate is currently housed, treason ‘against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.’ The common punishments for treason are either life in prison or death … Even if I had not been able to be charged with treason, I almost certainly would have been banned from the Stargate Program which would have prevented me from searching for my wife who is host to a Goa’uld.”[2]

Kadar thanked Daniel for his answers, and then the High Council began to deliberate on their decision. They spoke together, one last time, for many minutes. Then one by one they were called on by Kadar, and each spoke one word in answer. Daniel did not know what they said but could tell that they seemed to all have given the same answer.

Finally, the waiting was over. Kadar rose. “Daniel Jackson, the High Council of the Furlings has spoken. You are granted asylum among our people for as long as you live with all the rights and privileges of one of our own people. We welcome you to Uslisgas.”


[1] Quote and references from transcript of “Engima”: http://www.stargate-sg1-solutions.com/wiki/1.17_%22Enigma%22_Transcript.

[2] Quoted from United States Constitution, Article III, Section 3.

Chapter Text

After the High Council meeting adjourned, Ohper and Lya along with Daniel and Omoc soon returned to Gaia. Daniel needed to collect what few belongings he had before making permanent return to Uslisgas. He was sad to leave Gaia, since he had become quite close to Ohper, Anteaus, and Lya during the past week and was going to miss Nafrayu as well. At the same time, he was excited about the opportunities that lay ahead.

By the time Daniel and the Nox had returned to their dwellings on Gaia, it was late afternoon or early evening. It only took a couple of minutes for him to gather his belongings. He only had what he had been wearing and had in his pockets when he fled earth, along with what the Nox had generously given him: one set of BDUs, one set of clothing from the Nox, a beautifully woven blanket, a woven bag, and a spare picture of Sha’re that he kept in a small pocket over his heart.

Ohper, Anteaus, Lya, and Nafrayu were all waiting for him by the fire pit as Daniel emerged from his hut. Daniel started to make his way toward them but was met in the middle by Nafrayu who bounded forward to hug him.

“I’ll miss you,” the boy said, his eyes wet, “You’ll come back and visit, won’t you?”

“I’ll try,” Daniel said, wrapping one arm around the boy’s shoulders.

After a minute Nafrayu pulled back, and the two walked the rest of the way to the fire pit. Lya gave Daniel a short hug and said, “Farewell, friend.”

“Thank you for everything, Lya,” Daniel replied.

Anteaus said, “You will always be welcome here, Dr. Jackson.”

“Thank you for your hospitality. Your people’s kindness has been appreciated more than you can ever know.”

To Ohper, Daniel said, “Thank you for all your help and advice these last two days.”

Ohper replied with a slight incline of his head, “I am pleased to have been able to help. The Furlings have been our allies for countless years. You will be happy there.”

With goodbyes complete, Daniel left the encampment and made his way back along the now quite familiar path to the Stargate. Ohper accompanied Daniel, as he had the dialing stone that would open the wormhole to Uslisgas. By the time they made it to the open field where the Stargate stood, the sun was starting to set. After a final round of goodbyes, thanks, and well-wishes, Ohper opened the Stargate, and Daniel, after taking a deep breath, stepped through. One chapter of his life had closed, perhaps for a short time, perhaps for forever. Yet, a new chapter had opened, one that was opening boundless opportunities for studying among and learning from an ancient, advanced culture. The archaeologist side of him was almost jumping with glee. He was ready to embrace this opportunity with both hands.


 

As Daniel emerged into the massive hall on Uslisgas that housed the Stargate and made his way down the steps, he automatically looked around for anyone who might be waiting for him. He knew he was to return to Uslisgas but did not who was going to be waiting for him or where he was to go next. For a moment, he saw no one. Than out of the corner of one eye, he saw a flicker of movement. Commander Sujanha was waiting next to the one of the alcoves, one with a statue of an Asgard, about ten yards away. With her black fur, she had gone overlooked, half-hidden by the long shadows thrown by the great statues of the dead. Daniel had only caught sight of her when she started to move. She was alone now: both of her bodyguards absent.

Unsure of how best to address her, considering his status now as an asylee, he settled for a simple nod of his head in greeting.

“Dr. Jackson, I trust you had a safe journey,” she said.

“I did. Thank you.”

“Is that all you have?” She asked, gesturing at the bag slung over his shoulder.

“Yes, I only escaped earth with the clothes on my back. The Nox have been generous and supplied me with some extra things.”

For a moment, anger seemed to flash across Sujanha’s eyes, before becoming expressionless just as quickly. “Money will be supplied to you soon, and you will have the opportunity to buy what supplies you need and desire.”

“That’s very generous. Thank you.”

Sujanha motioned him to follow her, before starting her reply. Daniel noticed thankfully that she was moving more slowly than she had the previous day on Uslisgas. He had struggled to keep up with her, but now she seemed to be deliberately slowing her pace.

“The High Council does the same for all those who seek sanctuary among us. It takes time to start over among a new race whose culture and language is unknown. Money is supplied to help ease that transition.”

The two passed through the various checkpoints more quickly than earlier that morning with Ruarc. Soon they were making their way carefully down the steep steps that led from the Stargate building in the city proper. The sun was starting to set. A third larger moon had risen to join the two small moons that had been in the sky that afternoon. The three moons reminded him of Abydos, which also had three moons: one large and two small. Sujanha let the silence linger, giving Daniel another chance to study the sights, until they had reached level ground. She started them on the road toward the Great Square, before breaking the silence.

“Have you broken your fast this evening?”

Daniel blinked, surprised at the unexpected question, “No, not yet.” He was already surprised that Sujanha was playing tour guide slash hostess. Thinking that Sujanha, as Supreme Commander of the Furling Fleet, would have had more pressing duties to attend to, Daniel had expected, before coming through the gate, that Ruarc might have been waiting for him. Yet, at the same time, Daniel had to remind himself that he was trying to judge the Furlings by human standards. Among the Furlings, perhaps, it was common for someone of higher rank to welcome guests. He did not have enough knowledge of their culture and ways to judge either way yet.

She changed her course slightly, hearing this answer, and said, “We will break our fast, and then I will show you to where you will be staying for a time.”

Daniel almost told her that she did not need to go to so much trouble but cut himself off before he could speak, not wanting to accidentally offend through a misunderstanding of the local culture. After a few moments’ contemplation, he replied carefully, “I hope I’m not keeping you from your duties.”

“No, there are no matters that must be completed today, and my aids and my officers will contact me if any matter that requires my attention suddenly arises.”

The Great Square, with evening having fallen, was less crowded than it had been that morning when Ruarc had given Daniel and Lya a tour of the city. Some shops were closed for the day, but many shops were still open. People of all shapes, sizes, and appearances were buying and selling goods. Sujanha expertly threaded her way through the small crowds but kept her pace slow enough that Daniel, tired after a long day, had no trouble keeping up with her. Eventually, she stopped at a large cart, selling food. The owner—tall, dark hair, wiry—at first looked completely human but, when he noticed their approach and turned, Daniel saw that his eyes were an inhuman shade of gold, similar to Sujanha’s. Catching sight of the commander, he smiled widely and burst out with a flood of words, speaking almost incomprehensibly quickly (to Daniel who was trying to pick out the separate words) in Furling. The two spoke for several minutes, before Sujanha moved to introduce him.

“Dr. Jackson, this is Alaric, a merchant and teller of tales from many worlds.”

Sujanha turned to Alaric and, gesturing toward Daniel, spoke several words in Furling, before (Daniel thought) repeating herself in English, “This is Daniel Jackson, a scholar from Midgard.”

Alaric said something to Sujanha, which she translated, “He says that it gives him great pleasure to meet you and that you must return sometime to tell him of your world. He was once a wandering merchant, and it brings him pleasure to learn of different worlds and their tales.”

“I would like that very much,” Daniel replied. Sujanha translated his words back into Furling, a tedious but necessary job. Alaric grinned as she finished speaking and then spoke again. Sujanha replied before translating for Daniel’s benefit.

“Alaric says he will give us our evening meal for free as a welcome to our new guest.”

Daniel met the other man’s eyes and said, “Thank you.” Alaric did not know the English but recognized the tone of voice and body language and nodded in understanding.

“Choose what you wish,” Sujanha added.

Daniel took a step closer to the stand to see what Alaric was offering. After a moment, Daniel realized that looking was not going to do him much good because he did not know what he was looking at.

“What is he offering?”

Sujanha replied, “Bread, meats, and …” She stopped for a moment, seemingly at a loss for words. After a few moments she continued, “And plants. If there is a more precise word in English, I know it not.” As she gestured to each group of food on the stand in turn, a blue light flared across the food as her paw got close. The food that Daniel had originally thought was in the open air was protected by some kind of force shield, it seemed.

“Something simple, please.”

“Do you prefer you food cold or hot?

“Cold is fine.”

Sujanha relayed Daniel’s request to Alaric, and within a couple of minutes, Alaric handed Daniel a thick sandwich wrapped carefully in paper. At the same time, he handed Sujanha a round blue…plant…of some variety. It was about the size of large apple but had skin more like a nectarine. After thanking Alaric, Sujanha led Daniel away towards the center of the Great Square where a small reflecting pool, which Daniel had missed during his earlier visit, was. Along the edge of the pool was a thick raised stone wall, used as seats.

As Daniel took a seat and began to unwrap his sandwich, he realized that he was actually quite hungry. It was evening now, and he had not eaten since that morning and had eaten little then. His sandwich was quite good. Alaric or his suppliers were excellent cooks. The bread tasted homemade, and the meat reminded him of chicken. He looked around as he ate. As the evening slowly darkened, the crowd in the marketplace slowly grew smaller. After a few minutes, he returned his attention to Sujanha who was studiously gnawing on her own dinner.

“Where will I be staying?”

Sujanha was silent for a moment. She had looked up immediately when Daniel had spoken, but it seemed to take her a moment to mentally translate what he had said back into Furling.

“With me,” she replied, “I have a large house outside the city.”

Her answer was shocking. It was true that Daniel had stayed with Jack for a time after he had returned from Abydos after Sha’re … after Sha’re had been taken by Apophis. But Jack and Daniel had already known each other from the first mission to Abydos and were friends. Sujanha had known him for less than two days and still was opening her home to him.

The lady seemed to read the utter surprise on his face for she continued after a moment, “At the present time, Doctor Jackson, there are only three people on Uslisgas who speak your tongue: myself and my two bodyguards. Because our ways and our technology are much different from Midgard, it would violate the rules for the proper treatment of guests, strangers, and newcomers to place you where there was no one who spoke your tongue. Yet, it would also violate those rules just as much to give you a bed in the soldiers’ housing on the Acropolis where my bodyguards stay at night. Thus, you will stay with me.”

“I don’t want to intrude.”

Sujanha seemed puzzled at first by Daniel’s choice of words and responded slowly, “You will not be, if I understand what you mean correctly. My house is large, and I am its only inhabitant.” She paused before adding, “I will be glad for the company.”

Daniel was not going to object. From what he knew of her, Sujanha seemed nice. He nodded and thanked her before returning his attention to finishing his food.

Once he had eaten, Sujanha asked, “Are you ready to depart?”

Daniel nodded and rose. Sujanha rose more slowly. Instead of starting walking, she made several small tapping motions on thick, silver-colored arm-guard on her left arm. A small holographic figure appeared hovering over the gauntlet, and the two spoke quickly.

“The walk to my home is not overly long, but we are both weary, so we will be beamed to my home outside the city,” Sujanha said to Daniel.

Daniel was becoming rather accustomed to the beaming technology of the Furlings by now. Their technology was seemed similar,  considering what little he knew, to the Asgard beaming technology which he had also seen and experienced the previous month during SG1’s mission to Cimmeria. A hum sounded, and there was a blinding flash of light.


 

When Daniel could see again, the landscape around him was completely different. He was standing along a walking path, wide enough for two to comfortably walk abrest, that was paved with stones and overshadowed by tall tree-like plants. Sujanha led him a short distance down the path until a lane broke off to one side. About ten meters up this lane the trees grew sparser and sparser until Daniel caught of a large stone house built in a clearing. A small garden with trailing vines, a few small shrubs, and some brightly colored flowers grew around the house.

The front door of the house slid open as Daniel and Sujanha climbed the steps to it. Inside, lights began to come on. The door automatically slid shut as soon as the two were clear. An automated voice greeted Sujanha in Furling. She replied in brief, seeming to give it, whatever it was, a few instructions.

“That,” Sujanha said, motioning in the vague direction of the voice’s speakers, "is a modified and simplified version of what I believe your people would call an 'auto pilot,' sometimes used on our ships. This version runs the interior and exterior lights, the heating and cooling, and several other more minor things. It also can send messages. I will try to update its language files so it can speak in English. Once I do, I’ll teach you the commands.”

Sujanha motioned for Daniel to follow and led the way up a hallway. “I do not know the terms you would use for such terms, but that is the sitting room,” she said, motioning to a room on the left with a number of comfortable-looking and dark colored seats and a pleasant view of the garden, “and this is the eating area,” motioning to a room with more austere seating and a number of cabinets and something that might (emphasis on ‘might’) be the Furling version of a refrigerator.

She continued her way up the hall to its end and stopped by a steep, spiral staircase. “Straight ahead is my library. You are allowed to examine my collection at your leisure, but for now you will only be able to understand the maps, star charts, and arts. On your right is the wash room.”

They climbed the steep staircase slowly. Coming off the stairs, there was a closed door to the left and a hallway to the right. “On the left are my quarters. Down this hall, there is a storage room on the left, and what will be your room on the right.”

The bedroom door, to Daniel’s surprise, did not automatically open at their approach. Sujanha waved a hand across a small stone to the right of the door frame, and then the door opened. She stepped back to let him enter first, saying “Wave your hand across this stone to open the door from the outside. Wave your hand across the stone on the inside of the door to open it from the inside. If you are inside, someone from the outside will not be able to open the door unless you say ‘enter.’”

“In English?” Daniel asked.

“Yes,” Sujanha replied, “I will make the update to the program before I retire for the evening.”

The room Daniel entered was about as large as his quarters in the SGC. The room had a good size bed with two large pillows and a dark colored spread, a small chest of drawers, and a medium sized desk. Two small doors led out from the bedroom to other rooms.

Sujanha, who had stopped just inside the door, said, “That door,” motioning to the one by the chest of drawers, “has room for your clothes; the other door is a private wash room. Most things should be…” she hesitated again, seeming to search for the right word in English, “easily and quickly able to be understood as to how they function.”

“Intuitive. The word you want is intuitive.”

“Ah, thank you, Doctor Jackson.” Preparing to leave, she waved her hand across the door-opening stone, “To turn the lights off and on tap the blue stone on the bed frame once or tap and hold to dim the lights. If you have need of me, I will be in the library. If not, I wish you a pleasant rest of the evening and a good night’s rest.”

“Thanks. Same to you.”

Sujanha departed, and Daniel was left alone. He placed his bag on the desk and sat down with a tired sigh on the bed. He had a new home now and welcoming hosts. What lay ahead promised to be the time of his life. All he had to do first was adjust to a new planet, a new culture, and a new language.

Chapter Text

The 12th of Ihom – Day 1

Exhausted after a long day, Daniel had fallen asleep almost as soon as he had climbed into bed the previous night. He did not wake up, so his watch told him, until almost 10am earth time the next morning. What that corresponded to on Uslisgas, Daniel did not know. He climbed from his very comfortable new bed with a yawn, scrubbing a hand across the growing whiskers on his chin as he did so. The Tollan had some device, the real purpose of which they had failed to explain, that subbed for a razor in a pinch. He hoped the Furlings would have a similar device also: he was not overly fond of himself with a beard.

After changing quickly from the clothes the Nox had given him, which he was using as night clothes, into his BDUs, Daniel made his way back downstairs, looking around for Sujanha as he did so. There was no sign of the Supreme Commander, but as Daniel rounded the corner into the ‘kitchen,’ he was surprised to find Ruarc sitting at the table, drinking a mug of some drink that smelled vaguely like spiced tea.

“Good morning, Doctor Jackson.”

“Good morning, Ruarc. I wasn’t expecting to find you here.”

“My lady was called away several hours ago to deal with fleet business. She told me, however, that you were very short on personal supplies. If you are not too weary after yesterday, I am supposed to escort you to the city and make sure you find what you require.”

“Lady Sujanha said yesterday that I was going to be supplied money, but the money cannot have come through all ready, can it?” Used to bureaucracies and chains of command on earth, Daniel could not believe that the High Council or whichever body supplied the money could move that quickly.

“The process is not at all complicated and was completed earlier this morning. The money will be available as credit when you wish to buy things at any of the shops.”

“Wow,” Daniel replied, quite surprised, “bureaucracies on earth never move that fast. Let me get some food first, and then I can go.”

“Sujanha said that there is food in the cold box,” Ruarc said, pointing with one giant paw to a large ‘refrigerator’ to the left of the cabinets, “and there is more spiced tea if you would like some,” gesturing toward what was in his own mug.

Daniel moved toward the refrigerator, the door of which slid open at his approach. He saw a loaf of sliced bread and a plate of covered sliced meat of a dark color. There were other covered containers, too, but he was not feeling adventurous. Grabbing a plate off the stack on the counter, he retrieved enough food to make a breakfast sandwich and then sat down across from Ruarc.

“Won’t I be keeping you away from your duties?”

Ruarc shook his head, “No. My brother and I actually have little to do when Lady Sujanha stays on Uslisgas, besides pass messages, run errands, or help around Headquarters.”

“Is Uslisgas the name of this city or the planet?” Daniel asked curiously, as an aside. He had been wondering about that question since the previous day.

“Actually both,” Ruarc replied, “Uslisgas is the name of this planet, our homeworld, and of the capital city.”

It doesn’t take long for to finish his breakfast and gulp down half a mug of spiced tea. He was used to eating breakfast on the run. The tea wasn’t coffee (oh, how, he missed coffee), but it was still good. Soon enough they were leaving the house and making their way back down the lane to the walking path. The stones, he could now see in the better light, were expertly and precisely carved: Daniel, eyeballing the stones, doubted that he could slip a sheet of paper between any two, an interesting connection between this foreign world and his Egyptological roots. After about ten minutes of walking, this walking path widened out to become a much larger street that Ruarc said led straight to the capital city.

A comfortable silence fell across the pair for a short time. But after a time Daniel decided to take advantage of the walk back to the city to ask Ruarc several questions that he was either unsure how to ask Lady Sujanha properly or seemed too trivial to bother her with.

“Ruarc, what is the proper way to address the lady?”

“In private, ‘Lady Sujanha’ or ‘Commander Sujanha’ will do. ‘Lady’ would be the less formal address of the two and the one she usually prefers. ‘Supreme Commander’ is reserved for the most formal situations and times she is trying to make a point.”

“Is ‘Lady’ a courtesy title or a sign of rank?”

“It can be both. Most often it is a title given out of respect to all women of our realm, though less often it is a sign of rank, as well. You will begin to recognize the difference soon, but it is never improper to address a woman as ‘lady.’”

“Thanks. Do you mind answering another question?”

“I am at your service, Doctor Jackson. I will answer as many questions as you have that I know the answers to.”

“Daniel.”

“Pardon?”

“You don’t need to keep calling me ‘Doctor Jackson.’ ‘Daniel’ is fine.”

“As you wish, Daniel,” said Ruarc, “What is your second question?”

“Yesterday, the High Chancellor said that I was granted ‘all the rights and privileges of one of our own people,’ of one of the Furlings. What exactly does that mean?”

“I suspect that it means much of what citizenship should mean on Midgard: protections by the laws, obedience to the laws, right to work in the government, free passage among our territories, and so on.”

“Since I am a citizen but not a Furling, what kind of jobs can I get?”

“Kind?”

“Type. Category.”

“By law, you are allowed to hold any job that you are qualified for. Once you learn our language, if you want to hold a job in the library, you can. If you want to work under High Councilor Kari, the Chief Ambassador, and meet other races and make treaties, you can. If you want to go work under Sujanha to help bring about the downfall of the Goa’uld, you can. You are allowed to hold any job for which you are qualified.”

“You really mean any?” Daniel was slightly skeptical, thinking of how some government jobs in the United States were forbidden to naturalized citizens.

“In theory,” Ruarc replied, unbothered by Daniel’s skepticism, “you could rise through the ranks to sit on the High Council.”

“In theory, but not in practice?” Daniel asked, feeling slightly confused.

“No, not exactly,” Ruarc said slowly, “It is less common that non-Furlings sit on the High Council, but it has happened before and still does happen periodically. It is much more common to have non-Furlings one to two ranks lower in the military, for example.”

“Why?”

“Except in very rare circumstances, all High Councilors and High Chancellors hold their positions for life, unless they choose voluntarily to step down. Because most races live for far, far less time than we Furlings do, it is less common that non-Furlings live long enough to rise to sit on the High Council.”

Ruarc paused for a moment but continued when Daniel still looked puzzled, “How long do the people of Midgard live?”

“On average, 70 to 80 years by our measurements.”

Ruarc was silent for several minutes, “My brother is better at figures than I am, but I believe I have done these calculations correctly. The shortest lived race in our galaxy lives for about 171 of your years, on average. Many more races live for between three to five times as long as you do. The Lapiths live for around 900 years, the Etrairs for at least 1500, the Iprysh for around 2300.”

Daniel was flabbergasted. It was difficult for him to even comprehend living that long. Many of these peoples Ruarc was mentioning lived much longer even than the Nox. He could not imagine what it would be like to live that long, to be able to witness that much of human history on earth. “And the Furlings?” He asked. If the longest of these races lived for much less time than the Furlings, how long lived could the Furlings be?

“On average, my people live for about 5700 of your years. The longest lived of our race is said to have lived for nearly 9000 years.”

For several minutes, Daniel was speechless. 5700 years was roughly as long as recorded history. 5700 years ago on earth, Narmer had not even united Egypt. In Sumer, there was not even proto-writings yet, although Sumer, the civilization, had been around for at least several hundred years. 9000 years was before ever recorded history, before Sumer. “How old is the lady? How old are you?”

“What is the current year on Midgard?” Ruarc asked.

“AD 1998,” Daniel replied.

“Then Lady Sujanha was born around AD 487. My brother and I were born around AD 556.”

AD 487, that meant Sujanha had been born about 11 years after the Roman Empire fell. Daniel could not imagine living that long: how much you could see, how much you could do, how many peoples you could meet, how many cultures you could experience. The possibilities were endless and staggering.

The silence lingered for a time as Daniel and Ruarc continued their walk toward Uslisgas. When they came to the crest of a small hill, they saw the city spread out before them. It was beautiful.

Finally, Daniel, thinking through all of what Ruarc had said, realized that he had spoken like they were not in the Milky-Way any longer. “A little big ago, you made a reference to the ‘shortest lived race in our galaxy.’ We aren’t in the Milky-Way, then?” Daniel, in the huge influx of new information to remember and process, had forgotten that Ohper had already told him that the Furlings lived in a separate galaxy.

“If that is what you call the galaxy in which Midgard is located, than no we are not. This galaxy is called Asteria in our tongue. It is very far from your galaxy. That is why Ohper had to open the Stargate with a stone, not in the usual manner.”

“How far is ‘very far’?” Daniel asked, filing away the mention of the dialing ‘stone’ to ask about in future.

“It would take a Goa’uld mothership traveling at top speed without stops of any kind approximately 111 of your years to reach the borders of this galaxy.”

“Yikes,” Daniel muttered.

The two walked the rest of the way to Uslisgas in silence. All the while Daniel was pondering what he had learned so far about the Furlings. 111 years was a long time even for the Goa’uld and even longer for the Jaffa. It would be almost impossible for the Goa’uld, if they even knew about the Furlings, to mount an invasion against them, like the Goa’uld had tried to do on earth about five months before. Daniel wondered why then did the Furlings hate the Goa’uld so much. It could not be because they were in danger. Was it just because the Furlings hated what the Goa’uld stood for and what they did to the people of the Milky-Way? Or was there something more?

Ruarc broke the silence once they reached the outskirts of Uslisgas, “Which stores do you wish to visit first? What personal supplies do you wish to acquire first?”

“Some new clothes would be nice. I only have two pair. A razor would be nice, also.”

Ruarc switched direction when Daniel mentioned clothes, turning on to a road that led off to one side, instead of continuing straight. “The shops for the clothes makers and sellers are at the south end of the Great Market. What is a ‘razor’?”

“A razor is a sharp blade used to trim these,” Daniel said, rubbing a hand across the whiskers on his chin.

“Ah, now I know to what you refer. We will acquire one for you before we leave.”

Once they reached the Great Market, Ruarc led them into a two story, stone building. The inside was pleasantly warm. What of the walls he could see were decorated in neutral colors. There were shelves upon shelves of cloth of all types and of all colors. Through one aisle, Daniel could see racks of pre-made clothing towards the back of the store. The store seemed empty as they first entered.

“Rho,” called Ruarc.

‘Rho,’ is that a name? Daniel wondered.

A voice, pitched just high enough to suggest it might be a woman speaking, answered from the back of the store. Within a minute, the tap-tap-tap of footsteps was heard coming closer and closer toward where Daniel and Ruarc were waiting just inside the door.

The storekeeper who appeared around a corner was like nothing Daniel had ever seen, and (her?) appearance was so shocking and almost frightening that Daniel had to keep himself from taking a few steps back out of instinct. (She?) was humanoid and about the same height as Ruarc. Instead of skin or fur, she was covered in dark grey, overlapping scales. What nose she had was flattened into her skull with only large openings where her nostrils were. Similarly, her ears were barely prominent. Her large, dark eyes were deeply recessed into her skull and did not seem to have pupils.

Only once his heart slowed back down did Daniel realize that he thought he had seen someone like her before. The first time he had come through the Stargate, Daniel recalled that Katar’s companion, whom he had only seen briefly and from a distance, had looked like her.

Seeming to notice his surprise and alarm, the woman had stopped slightly more than a polite distance away, careful to give Daniel space. Her dark eyes flickered back and forth between Ruarc and Daniel.

“Daniel, this is Rho Trunec, the owner of this store.”

Ruarc then turned and spoke to Rho at length. Daniel was able to catch up some of the repeated words he had heard before during introductions, but Ruarc seemed to quickly finish the introductions and was on to something else. After he had finished, she gave a quick reply, and then Ruarc turned to Daniel.

“I have told Rho that you have recently come to Uslisgas and require a complete wardrobe. She wishes to know if you have any preference as to what style of clothes you wear?”

“Something similar to these would be nice but is not necessary,” Daniel replied, gesturing toward his BDUs.

Rho led Daniel toward the back of the store where the racks of pre-made clothes were, and they set to work finding him a new wardrobe.

By the time three hours had passed, Daniel had a complete new wardrobe of three sets of BDU-like clothes in dark colors and two pairs of nightclothes along with under clothes, a light jacket, a heavy jacket for cold weather, and a good pair of gloves.

Ruarc settled the accounts with Rho and then led the way outside, “Are you hungry?”

“Yes,” Daniel said, “but don’t we need to get my clothes?” He was confused why Ruarc had led the way out without stopping to pick up the box of clothes that Rho had packaged up.

“We still have stops left to complete.” Ruarc replied, glancing across at Daniel, “That box will be heavy enough that you would not want to carry it for several more hours. Rho will have it sent to the lady’s house. It will be waiting for you there when you return.”

“Oh, okay.”

Ruarc and Daniel ate lunch at a different shop than Sujanha and Daniel had eaten at the previous evening. This new outdoor shop sold piping hot bowls of fragrant, spicy soup and mugs of tea that smelled a little like chai. The seller was a frail looking woman named Deayi from a race Ruarc called the Cesneors.

After lunch, the two wandered around the Great Square for several more hours, picking up the odds and ends that Daniel still needed: a razor-like contraption, a stack of books with blank paper (for Daniel to keep his journals in), a clock that Ruarc promised to modify so it would tell time in Arabic numerals, a small contraption (the function of which was unclear, but the use of which Ruarc said he would explain later), and a few other things. After finishing with the shopping, they just people-watched for a little while, giving Daniel a chance to observe what seemed to be a normal day at the market, letting him get more of an idea of how Uslisgas functioned.

The sun was just starting to set when Daniel and Ruarc left the city to return to Sujanha’s home in the country. The walk back from the city was quieter than the walk to the city had been. Daniel was lost in thought, and Ruarc was content to let the comfortable silence linger.

The lights in Sujanha’s house were on as they two reached the lane that led up to the house.

“Your boxes will be in the house. The money for those things will be deducted from your account at the end of the week,” said Ruarc.

“Automatically?” Daniel asked, thinking of how he paid bills on earth, “Or is there anything I need to do?”

“The deduction is automatic,” Ruarc answered, slowing his pace as they got close to the front door, “I will return tomorrow after the mid-day meal to help set up your clock for your way of writing and make some adjustments to the program that helps run the house.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow then, and thanks for the help today.”

“It was my pleasure.”

Ruarc left the way he had come, and Daniel entered the house. Two boxes, one large and one small, were sitting inside just out of the way of the walking path. Both wear labeled neatly with what he guessed with his name written in the Furling alphabet.

Proceeding further into the house, Daniel found Sujanha sitting at the table in the kitchen. A mug of spiced tea sat by her left paw. She was engaged in typing something slowly on a tablet but looked up immediately as he came around the corner.

“Doctor Jackson, I hope you had a pleasant day.”

“Quite. Ruarc was kind enough to show me around the city. Thank you for sparing him.”

“I had no need of his services today, and aiding you provided him with a task to complete. He was glad to be of service.” She paused long enough to tap the tablet twice more but then continued, “There is food if you are hungry,” motioning towards a large bowl on one of the counters, its lid fogged with condensation.

“Thanks,” Daniel replied. Now that he actually stopped to think a moment he was hungry after the long walk back to Sujanha’s home.

Once Daniel was sitting at the table eating his way through a bowl of good, though somewhat bland, stew, and had a few minutes to eat, he asked, “How was your day, lady?”

“Quite busy,” she replied, “planning the fall of the Goa’uld is a complicated and time-consuming task, especially when they are in a different galaxy.” Her voice sounded very tired.

“I can’t even imagine,” Daniel answered honestly. Nothing of what he had done at the SGC the past year plus could even compare to what the commander was planning.

Silence fell. Several minutes later, Sujanha gave a sigh and shut off her tablet. After taking a final swallow from her mug of tea, she rose slowly and almost stiffly from the tablet and took her mug back over to the counter. Daniel wondered briefly if she was ill, as her movements were so unlike what they had been the last two days when she had moved with all the grace and speed of a jungle cat on the prowl.

“Is there anything I could do to help you?” Daniel asked, thinking of what Ruarc had said earlier and of the knowledge he had gained about the Goa’uld during his time on SG1.

“Yes, in time there will be,” Sujanha replied, turning and leaning back against the counter. “I have need of detailed information about the organization of the Goa’uld, about their numbers, about their home worlds, and about what worlds or peoples could be possible allies or must be protected from the Goa’uld. Thor has been able to provide me with some information, via his contact with the Goa’uld over the Protected Planets Treaty, but his information is less in depth over some of those issues than I suspect yours will be, considering your exploration of the galaxy and the fact that you had a Jaffa as a teammate.”

“Any information I can give is yours, gladly, at any time,” Daniel said, his mind returning to thoughts of Sha’re and Skaara, “Anything to see the downfall of the Goa’uld.”

“I will be glad for your aid, but it need not be for a few days. There will be time enough after you have some time to adjust more to our ways.”

Chapter Text

The 13th of Ihom -- Day 2

Daniel woke early the next morning, but he found that Sujanha had already departed when he went downstairs for food. He was glad that Ruarc was going to fix the clock that afternoon so that he could finally have an idea of the time on Uslisgas and on what schedule the Furlings functioned. He ate the same thing for breakfast that he had the previous morning. From the contents of the fridge, Sujanha did not seem to be one for variety.

Returning to his room, Daniel spent most of the morning catching up, in great detail, on his journals that he had been neglecting since, until yesterday, he had no good writing materials. Once he was about half-way caught up and his hand was starting to cramp from writing so much, he abandoned his journals for a time and wandered back downstairs, deciding to take Sujanha up on her offer to examine her library at his leisure.

Sujanha's library was a medium sized room that took up the whole back section of the house on the lower floor. There were no windows, and the walls were covered with tall bookshelves that Daniel would need a step-ladder to reach the top shelves of. On top of the bookshelves were set different collectables: large and colorful shells, carvings of various animals made from wood, a few small stone statues, and various other knick-knacks. There was a desk near the far end of the room on which what appeared to be a lamp along with several large tomes were sitting. Three large, stuffed chairs were also present.

Not knowing the languages in which the books were written or the manner in which the library was organized, Daniel settled for pulling a book off one of the shelves at random. The book he picked was a large book, several hundred pages long at least, that was finely bound. Taking a seat in one of the comfy chairs, he carefully started to flip through it. The label on the front cover (a title, perhaps) was written in Asgardian runes, and the rest of the book except for select spots (perhaps quotations from other sources) seemed to be written in the same script. From the copious number of diagrams of what looked like battle plans from the layout and a handful of pictures of spaceships (some similar to the Biliskner, others of a different design), Daniel guessed that it might be a book of military tactics or perhaps a book of military history.

Returning that book to its shelf, Daniel picked up another book at random from a separate shelf. This book was also carefully bound and had what appeared to be gilt edges. It was written in the spiky, curved script—a combination of Tolkien's Elvish and Urdu—that the Furlings used. There were no pictures or diagrams to give him a clue as to the book's contents, so he used the chance to study the orthography instead. After slowly studying this book and another book also in Furling that he grabbed off the shelf, Daniel was able to conclude that Furling had no obvious punctuation marks, might be an inflected language, and might be made up of bound groups similar to Coptic.

Hunger eventually drove him from his study and contemplation. After putting the books away, Daniel ambled out to the kitchen and fixed himself a plate of food. He ate quickly but absentmindedly, his mind still on Sujanha's books and the different languages the texts were written in. After cleaning his dishes and putting them away, he returned to the library and to the hundreds of books to be explored! He lost himself in them until the 'auto pilot' that ran the house suddenly spoke.

"Doctor Jackson, Ruarc arrives," the voice surprisingly spoke in English (Sujanha had not mentioned making the adjustments to the program yet) that was slightly stilted and not quite right, but still close.

"Thank you," Daniel replied automatically, putting the book he had been examining away and then making his way out into the hallway.

Ruarc, with a large box tucked under one arm, had just entered.

"Good afternoon, Ruarc," Daniel said in greeting.

"Greetings, Daniel! I have brought extra food. My lady is not known for her varied taste."

"I already ate, but thank you."

"The food will keep. Just let me put it away, and then we can get to work."

"What do I need to bring down?"

"The clock and the other small stone."

By the time Daniel had returned from his room with the two stones that Ruarc wanted, Ruarc was already in the living room. A hologram that looked somewhat like a giant spreadsheet was open in front of him. As soon as Daniel entered, Ruarc swiped a hand across the hologram, shrinking it to a much smaller size, and pushed it out of his way.

"Which do you want first?" Daniel asked.

"The other small stone," Ruarc replied. This stone, the function of which Daniel did not know but which Ruarc had promised to explain, just fit inside Daniel's open hand. It was the color of black onyx and was finely polished till it was almost reflective. Straight down the center of the stone was a long notch less than an eighth of an inch thick and less than half-an-inch deep.

Motioning for Daniel to place the small stone on the table between their chairs, Ruarc said, "I had you get this stone because I noticed you touching a spot over your heart from time to time."

"I keep a photo of my wife in my pocket. It's the only one I have left of her that is with me."

"May I have it for a moment?"

Daniel pulled the photo carefully from his pocket and handed it to Ruarc, who took it with exquisite care. The wolf rested the photo inside the notch in the stone and then tapped twice on the part of the stone in front of the notch. A blue line sprang up suddenly and scanned across the photo. When it was finished, Ruarc carefully returned the picture to Daniel and then double-tapped the stone again. From it, a hologram—a perfect duplicate of Daniel's picture—sprang up.

"We commonly use these stones in our holograms, because they are quite common and very hard to destroy, much harder than a fragile picture."

Daniel had a lump in his throat as he gazed at the projected picture. "Thank you. You don't know how much this means to me."

"You can add more pictures to the projector in the same manner and then sweep through them."

"Swipe through them, not sweep."

"Thank you."

With the high-tech photo album complete for the moment, the two set to work on the clock next. Ruarc took the clock-stone over to a desk on the other side of the room (which Daniel had not noticed before) and set it on top of some sort of panel. A holographic screen immediately appeared in front of where Ruarc had been sitting.

"Many of our stones, whatever their use, are based upon the control stones that the Asgard use in much of their technology. Simpler ones like the photo screen have very simple controls. More complicated ones like the clocks require a more complex control set, because of the variation between written scripts between races and between day lengths between planets."

"How many hours are in a day here?"

"There are approximately 25 of your hours in a day, and there are 400 days in a year."

Ruarc begin to work through a maze of screens, and Daniel asked, "What schedule do you run on?"

"The day begins at the 1st hour and ends on the 25th hour. Right now the sun rises about the 6th hour and sets about the 18th hour. Most Furlings retire to rest about the 24th hour and get up about the 5th or 6th hour. In the military, works begins exactly at the 8th hour and ends at the 20th hour, with time for meals of course. Furlings, as a rule, require much less sleep than most other races, so we do not expect others to conform exactly to our schedules."

Ruarc paused and spun a holographic screen, looking again somewhat like a spreadsheet, so it was facing Daniel, and then zoomed it in so that there only two columns of text visible. The column on the left had a row of Furling characters, probably numerals, since they were dealing with a clock. The right-hand column was blank.

"In the blank column, I need you to enter your numerical symbols from smallest to largest for the full 25 hour period."

"With what?" Daniel asked, unsure of how to work with these holographic screens.

Ruarc picked up what seemed to be a stylus off the small table and handed it to Daniel. The stylus looked much different than the styli Daniel was used to working with in the context of ancient Mesopotamian cuneiform texts. This stylus bore more of a resemblance to an extra thick pencil, though it felt like it was made of metal. It was perfectly cylindrical and was flat on one end and rounded on the other. After a few moments of fumbling, Daniel realized if he held it like a piece of chalk, then he could 'write' or 'draw' on the holograms like on a chalkboard. His handwriting was a little shaky, but the computer running the house or something else seemed to be standardizing his numbers. His straight lines became straighter, and his curves more curvy.

Even after Daniel had entered the numbers in the spreadsheet and turned the screen back to Ruarc, it was about half-an-hour before Ruarc finished his work updating his clock. Ruarc explained, as he worked, "It always takes much more time the first time updating a clock or the language matrix in the auto-pilots for a new language. The lands of our people span almost the entirety of this galaxy. Within our lands are many cultures with their own systems of writings, some of which are extremely different from our own. It is a time-consuming, though not extremely complicated, task to enter their writing systems into the matrices and update the equivalences."

Daniel nodded. He understood the gist of what Ruarc was saying, though some of the more technical elements went over his head. Daniel was more interested in the snippets Ruarc mentioned about the Furling system of government. "So does the king rule all these lands then?"

"Yes and no," Ruarc said. He was either good at multi-tasking or had done this work before, as he seemed to have no trouble talking and paging through screens at a quick pace while he talked. "Our king's exact title does not translate well into English but is close to 'High King' or 'Great King.' Under him are other kings or councils who rule the territories themselves. Furling control over these other territories varies by place from what you would call an 'empire' to a 'confederation.' For the sake of ease, the whole territory under Furling control would be called, in English, an 'empire,' though that is not a perfectly accurate translation. No territory is forced to come under our rule, and no territory is coerced into staying by violence or threat of violence if they wish to leave, although all the territories under our rule have certain obligations towards the High King."

"Like?"

"Military support, trading rights, forwarding of some criminal cases to our law courts, use of a standardized system of coins, and the like. And in return, we have certain important obligations toward our client kingdoms: military support, supplies and aids after disasters or famines, fair treatment at all times, and the like."

"So is the king the law then? Why do you have a High Council?" Daniel was in his element now, parsing through all he was learning about the culture and government of the Furlings. It was nice to be able to sit and learn and ask questions without fear of being prodded into hurrying up.

"To your first question, the answer is both yes and no. The High King's word is law and cannot be overruled, except in extreme circumstances. However, he must act and is bound to act within the confines of the already established laws, both religious and political. It has never been necessary in our history, but the King can be overruled by a united vote of the High Council."

"As to the High Council," Ruarc continued, "it is the main governing body for the empire, as I said before. Its power is greater than the courts', usually, and less than the king's, usually. It exists because the matters of state are too great for one man to handle. Our empire spans almost the entire galaxy and in years past spanned almost two galaxies. There are now ten other major races in Asteria, and numerous other less advanced peoples. The King is only one man. He must have aid to do justice to his people."

"Makes sense," replied Daniel, making some mental comparisons between the Furling system of government and monarchies on earth.

After a few more minutes, Ruarc paged out of the complicated screens and retrieved the clock stone from where it was sitting on the desk. He brought it back to where they were sitting and placed it on the table. He tapped it twice with one claw, and immediately a holographic projection appeared. Their labors had been successful, for in front of them appeared in Arabic numerals the current time: 16:37. It was later than Daniel had realized, glancing down at his watch and seeing how far off it actually was.

"Thank you," said Daniel, "It has been difficult without a working clock. This will be very helpful."

"I'm very glad to be of assistance," Ruarc replied with a nod of his great head. "My lady said that the language matrix for the house needed some more upgrades since its updates are rather wooden right now. Are you weary of this type of work, or do you feel like helping me a while longer?"

"I'd be glad to help, if you'll try to explain what these language matrices are and what you are doing."

"With pleasure, though you will need to explain aspects of your language for me to make the adjustments.

Thus the two started back to work, English lessons and all, and the remaining hours of the afternoon slipped away.

Chapter Text

With Sujanha's generosity, Ruarc was able to spend the next two days accompanying Daniel also. On the third day, Ruarc took Daniel back into the city to the Great Library of Uslisgas. After a comparison of measuring systems with his companion, Daniel estimated that the Furling Library—containing eight floors of stacks in two separate wings—was several times larger than the British Library. In the massive complex, which also contained four large reading rooms and office space, were gathered a continuously expanding collection of the written records of the Furlings and all their allies, a multi-cultural collection of texts of all kinds. Daniel was, not surprisingly, extremely reluctant to leave the well-stocked library. He could not wait until he had acquired a grasp of the local languages so that he could begin examining the sources.

On the fourth day, Ruarc began teaching Daniel the language of Furlings in return for the rudimentary English lessons Daniel had given him a couple days earlier. As Daniel came to learn quickly, Furling was an enormously complex but extremely precise language. Furling had 58 characters in its alphabet, making it much lengthier than most scripts on earth, though not as long as the Khmer alphabet of Cambodia. With nouns, pronouns, and adjectives, gender and number were indicated by articles, while case was shown through inflections. With verbs, number and gender were shown through prefixes, unlike the inflections in Latin, and tense, mood, and voice were indicated through separate conjugations of the verbs. The vocabulary was also complex with multiple different words for the same thing or the same concept so that slight variations in meaning could be expressed, similar to how some Eskimo tribes in the far north on the earth had many words for snow.

On the fifth day, Daniel spent a quiet day at home, absorbing all he had learned and writing much in his notebooks.

By the time the sixth day came around, the 17th of Ihom, Daniel was ready to get to work. He loved learning about and experiencing new cultures, and there was no shortage of new things to do and experience on Uslisgas. Yet, at the same time, he was conscious of why he took refuge with the Furlings. He had needed shelter, yes, but he also wanted to help bring about the fall of the Goa'uld who had stolen his wife from him, and that could not be done while he sat idly by far away from the fighting.

He said as much to Sujanha when he came down for breakfast on the morning of the sixth day. With the aid of his new clock and a learned knowledge of Sujanha's schedule, he was now commonly rising before she left for the city and had the chance to speak with her at breakfast.

If the Commander was surprised by his declaration, she did not show it but simply looked up from her food and nodded her acknowledgement wordlessly. She did not seem to be in a great hurry, sitting at the table drinking her tea and tapping away with one claw at her tablet, but Daniel ate a hurried breakfast anyway, not wanting to slow her down.

When they were both ready to go, Sujanha touched her silver gauntlet, and the two were beamed away. When Daniel could see, the two were standing in a large stone-cobbled plaza in front of a massive four story stone-building. Spinning on one heel to get a wider view, Daniel realized quickly that the two were on the Acropolis which he had only seen from a distance before. Ruarc had told him that the Great Library of Uslisgas had once stood on the Acropolis but had been moved many years before when it grown large enough to require a new and lager building in the Lower City.

Sujanha gave Daniel a moment to look around but then touched his arm to regain his attention. "This building is our headquarters, both for me and Anarr. The top two floors belong to my brother, the bottom to me," she said, guiding him up the steps toward the main door.

The Furling Headquarters were quite busy as they made their way inside. It was just before the 8th hour, and hundreds of soldiers and aids, who served in both the fleet and the army, were arriving for work. All made way immediately for Sujanha when her arrival was noticed, and she was slowed down by the number of salutes and by several soldiers who stopped to speak with her. Many different races were represented within the Furling military. There were a number of races that Daniel had seen during the past week, and several more he had not. No one seemed to be wearing uniforms or BDUs like the United States military did, but all seemed to be wearing dark, unobtrusive colors. The soldiers seemed to be distinguished by the presence of a silver insignia shaped like a five-pointed star or by a gold insignia in the shape of something Daniel could not make out.

As soon as they made their way through the lobby, a lift took them up to the second floor. The lift opened at one end of a long hallway. Ruarc and Ragnar were standing about half-way down the hall, guarding the door to Sujanha's office. Her bodyguards greeted her in Furling, before switching to English to greet Daniel.

The door in the hallway opened into a large outer office. Ragnar followed the Commander and Daniel inside, while Ruarc remained at his post in the hall. In the outer office, there were several chairs along the walls and two large occupied desks by an opaque door that led into what Daniel guessed was Sujanha's personal office. A human, whom Daniel believed was Asik, sat at one desk. A very strange figure sat at the other desk. It (He? She?) bore a striking resemblance to a Wookie from the Star Wars movies that Teal'c liked so much, if a Wookie was of a more regular human height and wore what appeared to be a breathing mask of some sort.

"Dr. Jackson, may I introduce to you my two aids: Asik Geatam and Jaax Nenth," she said, gesturing first to the 'human' and then to the 'Wookie,' "They both understand some English but cannot speak it yet."

"Can you tell them, 'I am pleased to meet them'?" He asked Sujanha.

She nodded and said a quick sentence in Furling to which both aids gave a shallow bow of greeting in acknowledgement. With introductions apparently then complete, Asik rose from his desk and followed Sujanha and Daniel into her inner office, all the while speaking quite rapidly in Furling. From his tone, nothing seemed to be amiss. Asik just seemed to be one of those people who talked like a machine gun. After sinking into her chair with a noise that was half-sigh and half-groan, Sujanha replied in the same tongue in brief. Whatever she said seemed to satisfy Asik who then departed, leaving the door between the outer and inner offices open.

"Asik will bring us both something to drink," Sujanha said, bringing up several holographic screens and paging through them quickly, "Then we may begin. Take a seat wherever you like."

Daniel took a quick look around her office as she spoke. Besides the Commander's desk and chair straight in front of the door, there was a large table with several chairs on the left side of the room and a medium-size pedestal with a decorated control stone sitting on top of it on the right side of the room. In front of Sujanha's desk was also another chair. Behind her desk was a large mostly-opaque window that let in some light but did not allow one to see out. A lamp stood on Sujanha's desk along with a tablet, a sheaf of papers, and a handful of control stones.

Daniel took the seat across from Sujanha, who worked in silence until Asik returned with two mugs of spiced tea several minutes later.

"Thank you," said Daniel. Asik smiled in acknowledgement, recognizing the tone and the intent behind the words, though he did not understand the words themselves.

Asik then turned to Sujanha and seemed to ask her a question from the way he spoke. Sujanha shook her great head and replied in brief. Asik then departed.

"Let us begin then," said the Commander.

"I'm at your disposal," said Daniel automatically, only realizing a moment after he spoke that Sujanha might be puzzled by such a Tauri turn-of-phrase.

If she was confused, Sujanha did not show it outwardly. "As I said to you some days ago, what I most have need of to continue planning our war against the Goa'uld is information, intelligence about their numbers, about their home worlds, about their organization. Supreme Commander Thor, whom I believe you have met, is providing me all the information he can through his contact with some of the Goa'uld during negotiations over the Protected Planets Treaty. However, that information is limited. Anarr and I need more information to launch an all-out assault against the System Lords and limit the deaths among the non-fighters at the same time."

"What is the Protected Planets Treaty? You mentioned it before, but I've never heard of it." Daniel asked puzzled.

"The Protected Planets Treaty is an ongoing armistice between the Goa'uld System Lords and the Asgard High Council. Under the treaty, twenty-six planets are kept free from Goa'uld control, habitation, and enslavement. Any violation of the treaty where the offending Goa'uld does not retreat will be met with force by the Asgard. All the Treaty planets are guarded by Asgard technology."

"That's explains Thor's actions on Cimmeria with Heru'ur," said Daniel quietly to himself.

"Cimmeria?" replied Sujanha, "Oh, yes, Thor spoke to me of that encounter."

The reminder of how Thor's timely arrival had saved all of SG1 from a stent as Goa'uld prisoners made him think of all the Jaffa who had disappeared, taken away by Thor's beaming technology. Thinking about the hated of the Free Jaffa for the Goa'uld and how Teal'c had switched sides, Daniel asked, "What happened to the Jaffa of Heru'ur who Thor removed from Cimmeria?"

"Thor brought them to us, since he was unwilling to just let them go. Those Jaffa are our prisoners and are currently confined on a world in our galaxy that has no Stargate. We have several safe worlds where prisoners taken during our war with Goa'uld may be safely confined without being a danger to us or an opposing group of Jaffa. Hopefully, one day we will be able to show them the error of their ways, and then they will be freed," Sujanha replied, adjusting a holographic screen to where she could more easily write on it. "Back on the matter of hand, there are broad areas I need intelligence the most on. First, are there any peoples you know of that would make possible allies? Second, are there worlds not currently under Goa'uld control that must be carefully avoided or protected so as not to be caught in a cross fire? Third, I need to know the addresses for major Goa'uld worlds that must be approached with caution. Any other information you have would be useful as well."

"As to possible allies, there are two groups you should make contact with: the Jaffa Rebellion and the Tok'ra."

That certainly got Sujanha's attention if the sudden gleam of interest in her golden eyes was anything to go by. She looked across to Ragnar who was leaning against the wall just inside the doorway and asked him something. The only word Daniel could catch was Tok'ra. Once he had answered, Sujanha turned back to Daniel and said, "I have heard nothing of either group before. Tell me of them in as much detail as you can, please."

"I'll cover the Tok'ra first as I know less about them, and most of what I know is second or third hand. About a month ago, my team and I were on a mission to a planet called Nasya by its people and P3X-382 by us. The planet was under attack by the Goa'uld, and we were trying to evacuate the people to safety. During the evacuation, Samantha Carter, one of my teammates, was taken as a host against her will by what we first thought was a Goa'uld. After we discovered what had happened, Sam was imprisoned on our base for her safety and ours. In discussions with the symbiote, it revealed itself to be Jolinar of Malkshur, a member of a legendary group of Goa'uld who actually were enemies of the System Lords. Jolinar was infamous among the Goa'uld for mounting a rebellion against her overlord. She was successful until Apophis, one of the current main Systems Lords, interfered, and Jolinar was forced to flee. Ever since, Jolinar was wanted by the System Lords. Teal'c had heard the legends of Jolinar and the Tok'ra from his master Bra'tac, the former first prime of Apophis and a leader among the Jaffa Rebellion … Maybe I should have just started with Bra'tac."

"Keep going," said Sujanha, making notes on her screen, "You can clarify any unclear points later."

"The Tok'ra had previously been deemed just a legend by Teal'c and some other Jaffa. Not surprising, since widespread knowledge among the Jaffa of an internal fifth-column would be a great threat to the power of the Goa'uld."

"What happened to your friend?" Asked Sujanha.

"Jolinar was killed by an Ashrak…uh, a Goa'uld assassin…not long afterwards. Jolinar spent her last bit of strength making sure Sam would live."

"Showing that she was different, despite her mistakes. Very interesting. Do you know a gate address associated with the Tok'ra?"

"No, I'm sorry," replied Daniel with a shake of his head, "That was the only interaction I've had with any member of the Tok'ra, and Teal'c wasn't able to tell us much else."

"That is not a problem. The information you have will be of great use to me. Tell me of Bra'tac and this Jaffa Rebellion."

"Bra'tac is a Jaffa and the former first prime of Apophis. For years he has been working in secret to spread rebellion among the Jaffa and teach them that the Goa'uld are false gods. Even though Teal'c had joined us, Bra'tac was rather suspicious of us at first but has provided us with invaluable help multiple times and has come to be a valued ally. With his help, earth managed to repulse an attack by Apophis and Klorel several months ago. Last time I knew, Bra'tac was still on Chulak, one of Apophis' main worlds. I can give you the address."

"Yes, I will need the address eventually but not this moment," said Sujanha, "Do you think Bra'tac and the Rebel Jaffa would be willing to work with us?"

"Yes," replied Daniel slowly, "Bra'tac is an old and skilled commander. It would take a little while before he would trust you, but he had aided earth multiple times, and I think he would be willing to aid the Furlings once he came to trust you. He has enough insider knowledge of the Goa'uld to make a very valuable ally."

"It is as you say."

The two were silent for several minutes as Sujanha finished making notes on the Tok'ra and the Jaffa Rebellion. While she wrote, Daniel went over carefully the interactions of SG1 and the SGC with Bra'tac and Jolinar to make sure he had not failed to mention anything important. Suddenly, his meeting with Nem, which had occurred shortly after SG1's first meeting with Bra'tac, came quickly to his mind. Nem's race seemed fairly advanced. The Commander would probably want to know about him.

"I almost forgot one group," Daniel began in a rush of breath, his words about tumbling over each other in his haste to speak.

Sujanha looked up and motioned for him to continue.

"I think there might be one other group you'll want to look up."

"Go on," prompted Sujanha.

"Not long after we first met Bra'tac, SG1 and I had a rather interesting encounter with a creature called Nem, a member of a race called the Oannes."

Sujanha had just taken a drink from her mug of spiced tea as Daniel spoke. She was so surprised by what Daniel said that she swallowed wrong and began to cough harshly, and her paws shook as she tried to put her mug down without sloshing the contents. Concerned, Ragnar started forward to assist her, and Asik reappeared in the doorway, but Sujanha waved them both away. Once she could breathe easily again, she asked in a rough voice, "You have had contact with the Oannes recently?" Surprised oozed from every pore of her body.

"Yes," replied Daniel, "You know them?"

"The Oannes were close allies of ours in a past age. They are a very advanced race and are one of the few races to have a lifespan that could match our own. We lost contact with them for an age and thought them lost to time when we could not find traces of them afterwards. Their passing was greatly mourned by us. We valued their friendship and their knowledge highly."

"If you have something I can write with," said Daniel, "I can give you their gate address."

Sujanha rummaged through a desk drawer and finally found a stylus which she handed to Daniel. She then pushed a holographic screen across to him. Daniel quickly drew the gate address for the Oannes' world and labeled it. When he had finished, Sujanha turned the screen so she did not have to read the address backwards.

"I do not recognize this address from the archives. This planet was not known to us as one the Oannes dwelt on."

"That's odd," replied Daniel, "from what contact we had with Nem, it seemed to be their homeworld."

"Homeworlds can change for many reasons," Sujanha noted, "outside attacks, natural calamities, famine, loss of water supplies. Many advanced races have multiple homeworlds throughout their history. My people have. The Asgard have."

"Interesting….Should I go on to your second question?"

"Please do."

On this subject, Daniel had the most to say. With requisite bathroom breaks and a pause for lunch—some sort of flat bread with meat and a spread that tasted similar to hummus—Daniel talked for several hours about many of the worlds that he had traveled to during his time with SG1. If not for the supply of tea that Asik fed him, Daniel probably would have gone hoarse as he told Sujanha of Abydos, his home with Sha're for over a year; of Simarka, the Mongolian-like world where Sam had been kidnapped as barter; of the land of the Touched; of Argos, a former world belonging to Pelops where Jack had been infected by nanites; of Hanka, the world infected by Nirrti's virus, which needed to be avoided for safety's sake; of Cartago; of Altair; and of the many others worlds visited by the SGC that would stand no chance if caught in the crossfire between the Furlings and the Goa'uld. When Sujanha gave him another holographic screen to write on, Daniel wrote down and labeled all the Stargate addresses that he could remember, making a mental note at the same time to tell the Commander about the Abydos Cartouche.

In time, Daniel came to a discussion of the Goa'uld themselves and their home worlds. On this subject he mostly spoke of Apophis and Chulak, using as sources his own observations from his couple of visits there and the information he had learned from Teal'c. Of Nirrti and Hathor, Daniel spoke briefly, not wanting to dwell on what memories he had of the latter. Of the other System Lords, Daniel knew very little at present, apart from tidbits gained from surviving mythology on earth.

By the time Daniel had told he could, answered any of Sujanha's questions, written down a few more gate addresses, and told her in brief about the Abydos Cartouche, it was early evening.

While Sujanha took a break to speak with Ragnar for a few moments, Daniel got up to stretch his legs and walk around. As he did so, a question that he had been wondering about for a while came back to his mind. The Furlings clearly hated the Goa'uld. That much was clear from the periodic flashes of anger in the Commander's golden eyes and the disgust with which she spoke of them. Yet from what Ohper had said when he had first told Daniel of the Furlings, there seemed to be a special reason why the Furlings hated the Goa'uld and wanted to bring about the fall of their empire, beyond a general abhorrence for their behavior and actions.

After Ragnar left (he had been in and out all day), Daniel retook his seat and after a long pause asked, "Commander, why do your people want to bring down the Goa'uld so much?"

Sujanha noticeably tensed, seemingly ill at ease with his question. Finally, she replied, "Because it is long since time that we resolve an ancient wrong. The Furlings are the cause of the rise of the Goa'uld to power. It is our duty to bring about their fall."

Chapter Text

After Ragnar left (he had been in and out all day), Daniel retook his seat and after a long pause asked, "Commander, why do your people want to bring down the Goa'uld so much?"

Sujanha noticeably tensed, seemingly ill at ease with his question. Finally, she replied, "Because it is long since time that we resolve an ancient wrong. The Furlings are the cause of the rise of the Goa'uld to power. It is our duty to bring about their fall."


Of all the reasons Daniel had expected Sujanha perhaps to give, the one she had just given would never have crossed his mind. Daniel had grown to trust Sujanha even during his short time on Uslisgas, but despite that and the Nox's regard for Sujanha, he still felt slightly apprehensive as he stuttered out a flabbergasted, "What?"

"The Goa'uld are thieves and scavengers. Did you really expect, Doctor Jackson, that all the technology that you see them use was made by their own hands?"

Daniel had no reply, and Sujanha continued in a tone that suddenly seemed so very weary, "Very little of the technology that the Goa'uld now possess was actually designed by them. Most of their technology is ours. A slight part belongs to a few other races, and the rest is their own creation."

"Staff weapon?" Daniel asked, naming one of the first pieces of Goa'uld technology that came to mind.

"Ours."

"Zat'nik'tel?"

"Ours."

"Sarcophagus?"

"Ancient technology mostly, though it is slightly influenced by our healing pods."

"Kara Kesh?" This Daniel choked out. He could feel for a moment the phantom pain of the ribbon device burrowing into his mind.

"Ours: an ancient and outdated version of our gauntlets that has been so corrupted as to be almost unrecognizable as formerly our own design," Sujanha replied solemnly, lifting one arm up slightly and tapping her gauntlet with one sharp claw.

"How? Why?" Daniel finally choked out after a long and tense silence. He wanted to understand, but he could not make sense of it all.

With a long sigh, Sujanha leaned her head against the back of her chair and closed her eyes for a long moment. Her lips moved with silent words. What she was saying, Daniel did not know. When she had reopened her eyes, she asked, "What have the Nox told you about us?"

"Ohper said that you were a powerful race who was an enemy of the Goa'uld. He said that you had dwelt in our galaxy long ago but had been caught up with other problems that had kept you from dealing with the Goa'uld long ago."

"What Ohper said was correct but is too brief and vague to be of much use. The hour grows late. Let me dismiss my staff for the day, and then we will return home, and after the evening meal, I will endeavor to explain in as much detail as possible how our technology came to fall into the hands of the Goa'uld and why we have not put an end to them before now."


An hour-and-a-half or so later, the two had returned home and had eaten a quick meal, the remains of what Ruarc had brought over several days earlier. When they had eaten and had mugs of a different kind of tea, Sujanha led Daniel to the living room and motioned him to a seat. She took her own seat with a half-stifled hiss of pain and then began, "I will tell you all that I know. Most of what I know comes from our histories, for I have lived long enough to see only a small fraction of what has transpired. I hope you are comfortable: my story will take some time."

"I don't mind," Daniel wanted to hear the whole story, hear some explanation for how the Furlings, who were supposed to be some of the good guys, could be the cause of the rise of the Goa'uld to power.

"My story then begins long, long in the past when my people lived in your galaxy. It was not our original home galaxy which we dwelt in when we first met the Asgard long before, but where our original home was neither we nor the Asgard remember. Around twenty-two thousand years ago, a plague swept across the Milky-Way. On the worlds populated by humans, it killed some, but it was especially deadly to those who were not human. Countless Furlings died, and the rest were forced to flee by ship, leaving behind carefully hidden stashes of supplies and weapons, as we hoped to return within at most a generation once the plague died out.

"For an age, they wandered the galaxies, nomads without homes, for so long that those who remembered our second home returned to the Creator. Eventually my people grew tired of such a way of life and began to search for a new place to call home. Six-thousand five-hundred-and-forty-five years ago we settled in this galaxy and named it, in our own tongue, Asteria. For many years, we were too caught up with renewing old alliances and building a new realm for our people to take the time to return to your galaxy to retrieve our supplies. Our technology had advanced greatly in the age that had passed, and the technology we had left behind was by then extremely outdated.

"A generation passed. There was much to do in Asteria: buildings to raise up, alliances to make, trading networks to set up, defenses to build. When one lives as long as we do, moreover, time and haste have different meanings, and in many actions then we moved slower than we should have. About three thousand years ago, we finally sent ships back to the Milky Way to rebuild our alliances with several ancient allies and to empty our storehouses. It was with great surprise and dismay that we found our hidden storehouses broken open and long since emptied. When we began to explore the galaxy more widely in a search for any clues as to our missing technology, we found a new race calling themselves 'gods' and using our mostly unchanged technology."

Daniel could feel himself calming as Sujanha's story continued. There was a good explanation for why the Goa'uld had Furling technology. It seemed so fitting and almost laughable that the Goa'uld were using tech that was twenty-thousand plus years out-of-date.

Sujanha continued her tale, "Around the same time in Asteria, we had first contact with a race called the Sicarii who at first seemed to be human. They were one of the main powers in this galaxy and were greatly respected for their skill with plants and their skill at arms. We first thought them to be new allies but soon came to realize that they resented and feared us for our growing power. Seventy-six years later war broke out between our races. The Asgard watched from the sidelines to see if we would need their aid. Through our treaties, we consider an attack against one of us an attack against both, but the Asgard had and still have their own battles to fight, thus limiting what aid they could give us.

"For one thousand six hundred years or so, we fought in a war that stretched across the Stargate network in Asteria. Both sides were relatively evenly matched. Our technology was more advanced and our numbers greater, but the Sicarii had a greater knowledge of the territory and were willing to go to greater lengths to win and to employ dishonorable tactics to gain the upper hand.

"Around 5300 A.S., one thousand two hundred years ago or so, many units of our troops and even some non-combatants at known settlements began to fall ill with a mostly deadly poison. Our healers at first thought that the Sicarii had turned their skill with herbs against us. It was not until much later that we learned how they really made their poison." Sujanha's voice was dropping the longer she spoke, the horror of evil memories clear in her tone. Daniel suddenly realized, remembering the facts Ruarc had told him, that she probably would have been a child at this point.

Sujanha rose and moved across to look out the window. In the low light, Daniel could see that her paws and her forearms were both trembling. After a long pause, she continued, "The poison was a terrible one. Most of those who became ill, more than nine out of ten, died a painful and lingering death, feeling like they were being burned alive from the inside out. Death was a relief. No cure was ever found. Water, food, touch, even ship-to-ship weaponry, it all seemed to spread the poison, and it was hard to guard against." From the way she spoke, Daniel had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that the Commander spoke from personal experience as to the effects of the poison.

"Over the next seven hundred years of war, we began to lose ground more and more quickly, despite the help of our allies, as more and more were killed, both soldier and non-combatant alike. We were struggling to keep our very civilization alive. We had no time or resources to turn to dealing with the Goa'uld, even though we did not forget them.

"In 5967 A.S., I became Supreme Commander of the Furling Fleet. Turnover in the upper ranks in both the army and the fleet were high, and at age 800, I was the youngest ever Supreme Commander in our history. With great difficulty, I managed to slow our retreat by a small margin, but we were still losing ground. Some began to think that the time of our people was fast coming to its end, that this war would be the end of our people.

"Eight-one years later, I fell prey to the Sicarii poison. Somehow I survived. My brother says I was too hard-headed, too stubborn, I think that is the English word, to die. Our other allies had paid a heavy price for supporting us and had no more aid to give us. It was just the Asgard who stood with us then, bringing as much aid as they could. Even with that and with Thor taking my place as Supreme Commander for a short time, we began to lose ground rapidly, even after my return to duty." Her having been poisoned explained some of Daniel's observations of her: her periodic limp, her difficulty rising sometimes from a chair, the pained noises. A poison with a greater than 90% mortality rate and no known cure would have lasting consequences for those few who survived.

"The situation grew even worse the following year when Thor was forced to withdraw all his forces back to Ida, as their battle with their own enemy, the Replicating Ones, was going badly. Over the next fifty years, the situation with the Sicarii continued to deteriorate."

Some look in Daniel's face made her pause and add as a side note, "I tell you nothing more than can be find in our histories, Doctor Jackson."

She continued her tale, "In 6100 A.S., I was forced to withdraw all my forces back to this solar system and bury the Stargates to slow the advance of the Sicarii who had lost many ships. With a much smaller area to defend, I led all the ships I could spare to Ida in a last ditch plan that would hopefully win me the war. Alone, the Asgard and my people were both being pushed back, but combined I hoped and prayed that we might conquer.

"After four years of fighting, we dealt the Replicating Ones a decisive blow and drove them back for a time. Thor then led most of his fleet to Asteria to help us in our own war. After six more years of war, my last-ditch gamble proved successful, as we began to drive the Sicarii back and regain our old lands. In 6468 A.S., our war came to an end after two-thousand-eight-hundred-and-eighteen years of fighting. Several races had perished during the course of this galaxy-wide war, and many more lands were devastated. It has taken us a long time to rebuild. Only now do we have the time and the resources to devote to another war."

There was a long silence as Daniel, stunned into silence by the enormity of Sujanha's tale, struggled to comprehend the consequences of and the loss of life from a galaxy-wide war that lasted for nearly three thousand years. Previously he had thought earth's two World Wars were bad. This, this was on an entirely new level, perhaps even beyond the wars of the Goa'uld. He felt sick. How many people had died? Whole races, she said, had died out, become extinct because of this war.

"After such a war, after so much death, your people are still willing to become involved in another war?" Daniel asked, his voice choked.

Turning finally from the window, Sujanha glanced across at him. Her eyes seemed so old, so weary. "It was not by our choice that our technology fell into the hands of the Goa'uld, but the consequences are the same. Our technology was a necessary part of their rise to power and enslavement of so many worlds. It is our duty to right this ancient wrong. We will do our duty in this whether or not we like what must be done to see it through. That is our way."

Chapter Text

Harry Maybourne would never ever have won popularity awards at the SGC, not before the incident with the Tollan and especially not afterwards. It was the general opinion of most everyone that Maybourne was a slimy, good for nothing, sorry excuse for an Air Force Officer and a disgrace to the entire United States Military. True, most of the Tollan had acted like stuck-up jerks, but no one, not even the Tollan deserved to become lab rats for the rest of their lives.

SG1, on the other hand, was extremely well-liked and greatly respected by the men and women of SGC across the ranks. Though a geek, Dr. Jackson had deciphered the mysteries of the Stargate, helping to make the program an actual reality, and had acquitted himself on many missions. Captain Carter had played a critical role in developing the dialing computer, was the expert on the Stargate, and was one of the members of the second team sent through the Stargate to Abydos. Colonel O'Neill had been the leader of the first team sent through the Stargate, had helped bring down Ra, among a multitude of other awesome and death-defying deeds. Teal'c, the former first prime of Apophis, had betrayed his master and left the only life he had ever down to join the Tau'ri to bring down the System Lords. Altogether, SG1 had saved the whole earth from the Goa'uld. Their work could not be rivaled, and none of them could be replaced.

Considering these views, it was unsurprising that the events surrounding the arrival of the Tollen, their rescue by the Nox, and Daniel's flight from earth caused great controversy on base and nearly caused at least one riot in support of Doctor Jackson. The sympathies of the entire base were with General Hammond and SG1, but with Hammond unable to help Doctor Jackson because of the current political climate, tempers had nearly reached boiling points on multiple occasions. Multiple Marines had also made it clear, in quiet talks in the locker rooms and in the mess, what exactly they would like to do to Maybourne for all the chaos he caused. Several SG team leaders had also expressed a desire to boot Maybourne through the gate onto a hostile world and make the lousy git someone else's problem.


By the time a week-and-a-half had passed since Daniel's flight into exile, tensions, ebbing and flowing, were again near a boiling point. SG1 was on stand down until a temporary replacement for Daniel could be found, a search that was not going well. Sam had buried herself in her lab with her various and sundry projects. Teal'c was spending a lot of his time in the sparring rink or in kelno'reem, and Jack was rampaging around base with all the grace and subtly of a bull in a china shop.

Early on the afternoon of the tenth day, the alarm tones went off, warning of an unscheduled off-world activation. The remaining members of SG1 dropped what they were doing and ran for the gateroom. By the time Sam reached the gateroom, the Colonel and Teal'c were already there with General Hammond, and the wormhole had already disengaged.

"Good of you to join us, captain," Jack said, his words slightly more curt than he meant them. Everyone was on edge those days.

"Sorry, sir," she replied, "Who dialed in?"

"The Land of Light," it was General Hammond who now replied, "Colonel O'Neill, I want your team to be ready to leave within the hour. It's unusual for Tuplo to just dial in without warning. Make sure there is nothing amiss."

"Yes, sir," O'Neill said, before turning to his team with forced cheer, "Let's move it, campers. Places to be."


Forty-six minutes later, SG1 stepped through the gate onto P3X-797, better known as the Land of Light. Traveling there was always somewhat strange. Due to the planet's synchronous rotation around its sun, one side of the planet was always covered in sunlight, and the other half of the world was covered in eternal darkness, and the Stargate was located in the darkened forest where the Touched had once roamed.

Without the presence of the Touched, who were now cured, it was a quiet and short walk to the edge of the tree line that marked the boundary between the two lands. To their surprise, Tuplo was not there waiting for them, but Lya was, standing serenely with her hands folded across her stomach and a small smile on her face.

"Greetings, friends," she said.

"Lya!" said Sam in surprise.

"How fares Daniel Jackson?" It was Teal'c, always blunt and to the point, who first spoke the question that was on all their minds.

"He is well, though he misses you greatly," replied Lya kindly.

"Tell Daniel to avoid earth and the SG teams for now. We have orders to take him into custody," said O'Neill, his scathing words clearly showing what he really thought of those 'orders' and the ones who had given them.

"Do not worry for him. He is safe and among friends, far from the reach of those who would seek to do him harm."

"He isn't with you then?" asked Sam.

Lya shook her head, a motion that sent her hair gently swaying like leaves in a morning breeze, "Daniel did not wish to sit idly by while his wife was still in danger. We sent him far away to friends of our people, long absent and long forgotten in these lands."

"Anybody we know?" Asked O'Neill, a spark of interest in his eyes at the mention of these nameless allies.

"Once they were mighty in these lands, but they have long been absent, and their name has been forgotten by the mighty," said Lya, in a grave tone, "The Forgotten will soon return, and they have declared that there will be a reckoning with the Goa'uld. When they return, then you will see your friend again."

Chapter Text

Nothing much changed after the resolution of Sujanha's bombshell explanation for the Furlings' hatred of the Goa'uld. Sujanha kept at her work, relentlessly planning another galaxy-wide war. Either Daniel was noticing more, or she was making less of an attempt to hide it, but Daniel became more and more aware of every sigh, every mug of medicine that he had previously thought was tea, every tremor that hindered her writing. The Sicarii poison had clearly taken its toll on her, one of its few survivors, and was still taking its toll hundreds of years later, but still she persevered in her work. Duty drove her. Their first meeting on Gaia and his first day on Uslisgas must have been a rare good day, for this pain seemed to be the norm.

Anarr, the Supreme Commander of the Furling Army, passed through his sister's office periodically over the next week to ten days. He looked nothing like his sister, and Daniel again wondered how the Furlings, one race, could vary so widely in appearance. Anarr spoke some English and always made sure to greet Daniel politely, yet his conversation was mainly reserved for his sister, and he seemed much grimmer in mien. After hearing of the Sicarii-Furling War and of the devastation of the Sicarii poison, Daniel could not even begin to imagine what horrors the Commander would have seen on the front lines, for it seemed clear that neither Sujanha nor Anarr was the type of commander to lead from the rear.

Understanding more now of what drove the Furlings, Daniel redoubled his efforts to be of use to Sujanha. Sometimes that entailed answering more questions about the Goa'uld Empire and the Systems Lords, but something that just entailed getting her a new mug of tea or telling her about his friends on SG1 or his time on Abydos with Sha're, when she needed a break from battle plans.

Daniel's work kept Sha're and Skaara both close to his thoughts, and he was ever mindful of his promise to Kasuf when he had left Abydos almost one year before.


On the one year anniversary of his departure from Abydos after the disastrous events in which Sha're had been stolen away, Daniel approached Sujanha at breakfast. He had kept careful track of the days even after he had left earth. He had made a promise to Kasuf to try to bring back Sha're. Even though he could not bring her back—and how his heart ached that he could not bring her back—and had no leads as of yet as to her location, Daniel had more hope now with the Furlings on his side. Once he found her, they could keep her safe until the Goa'uld could be removed. There would be no threat of the NID or disappearances. Daniel had hope, and he could try to give Kasuf hope. He could tell Kasuf that he had not given up.

"I can go off world, right?" He asked Sujanha as he padded into the kitchen.

Sujanha looked up from her tablet—she was working over breakfast yet again—and glanced at him with stark confusion. "You went off world two days ago, Doctor Jackson."

Why, yes he had, and yet again an instance of his brain running in front of his tongue. "Sorry, sorry," said Daniel, slapping a hand across his eyes in annoyance, "That wasn't what I meant. Can I go back to the Milky Way for the day?"

"Not to Midgard, I hope, for your own safety?"

"No, to Abydos," Daniel replied, taking a seat at the other end of the kitchen table, "I promised the father of my wife that I would try to return with Sha're a year after I left. Today is the day that they will unbury the gate. If I don't go back today, I might not get another chance."

"Travel off of Furling-controlled worlds in your galaxy is generally restricted for the sake of safety. Until we knew more about how widely spread the Goa'uld were, it was deemed unwise for any, especially non-fighters, to go…wandering." Sujanha replied, fumbling slightly at the end for the appropriate English word, "but if you think Abydos is a safe world, I have no concern in your returning there, though I would prefer to send a guard or two with you for safety and to look at what you called the Abydos Cartouche."

"As long as your guards at least look human. Guards that looked like you, no offense, would provoke some reactions you do not want."

"Of course. Do you expect to stay on Abydos longer than a day?"

"No, probably not."

"Go prepare to leave then, once you have eaten. I will have guards to accompany you in an hour."


Fifty-three minutes later, Daniel was beamed into the large hall containing the Stargate. He found to his surprise that his two 'guards' were already waiting for him. Score one for Furling efficiency. Both looked human, and one had a small box tucked under one arm.

The one without the box first saluted him and then stepped forward to greet him, as behind them the gate began to dial Abydos. "I am Ovitix. This is Rasik," He said slowly in heavily accented English, motioning first to himself and then to his companion. "We are assigned to you as guards today."

"And to look at the Cartouche?"

"Yes, I will guard. Rasik will look." Ovitix answered in awkward but still understandable English.

The Stargate opened with a woosh, and the three made their way through the gate, Ovitix first, Daniel in the middle, and Rasik at the back. The chamber was empty when they arrive. Daniel looked around, drinking in the familiar sights of his old home. It almost seemed for a moment like he had never left. Then he remembered how he had left: Sha're and Skaara missing, Ferretti badly injured, the cries of the wounded Abydonians, the mourning for those who had died in Apophis' attack.

Suddenly from the edge of a room, there was a noise. Rasik and Ovitix came to alert, though no hidden weapons appeared. Kasuf appeared a moment later from behind a pillar. Without a MALP to give him a clue, he would have had no certain idea who was coming through the gate, though the date would have made it likely in his mind that it was Daniel.

Kasuf seemed startled to see Daniel in company not of the Tau'ri, so Daniel hastened to say, "Don't be afraid, good father. These are Rasik and Ovitix, new companions of mine."[1]

Both bowed in the typical Furling fashion, but neither spoke. Ovitix spoke only limited English and knew no Abydonian. From his utter silence even during introductions, Daniel guessed that Rasik spoke no English. Kasuf returned their greeting and spoke the traditional words.

Now came the hardest part for Daniel. He finished descending the steps, leaving Ovitix and Rasik at the top of the steps but out of the way of the kawoosh. Daniel knelt before his father-in-law and, looking him in the eye, pushed aside his mingled feelings of guilt and hope and said, "Good father, I ask your forgiveness, I have returned without your daughter."

"So it is." Confusion replaced Daniel's other feelings as Kasuf spoke. Of all the things, Daniel had accepted Kasuf to say, that had never entered his mind.

Confused but still resolute, Daniel pushed on, "I fear that my search will continue for many seasons."

Kasuf nodded brusquely and began to turn to leave, "Come!"

Even more confused, Daniel rose, "My companions wish to see the Cartouche Room. May they have your leave?"

Kasuf paused and turned back, "I will send a boy to guide them. Now come!"

Daniel turned quickly to Ovitix, "Kasuf will let you see the Cartouche. He will send someone to lead Rasik there."

Ovitix nodded and spoke quickly to Rasik in Furling, as Daniel hastened to catch up with Kasuf. The Furling caught up with Daniel and Kasuf before they exited the Pyramid. Kasuf was leading them at a hurried pace that was quickly making Daniel concerned. Kasuf was acting very oddly. What was going on? Even Ovitix seemed to notice something weird was going on, if the confusion and slight wariness in his face were anything to go by.

The sights and smells of the village were very familiar as Kasuf led the way, threading his way through a medley of animals, shops, and groups of people. Finally, they reached a large tent, draped in cloths that were dyed red and tan, and Kasuf ducked in first, past the door-hangings that were tied open to let in the light while it lasted.

The inside of the tent was dark and shadowy, even with the light coming from the fire pit and the sunlight streaming through the 'door.' A woman with dark hair, dressed in traditional Abydonian garb, sat on the far side of the tent, half-turned away from the door. Hearing the group's arrival, the woman turned, revealing her face to a flabbergasted Daniel. It was Sha're, his beloved wife. He had been seeking her for a year, and now he found her here of all places. What was going on?

"Sha're!?" said Daniel, stunned beyond belief. He almost couldn't believe his own eyes.

Sha're rose to her feet, revealing her abdomen rounded with child. Ovitix, not understanding the whole scenario but realizing the gravity of the situation, took a half-step forward and to his right, extending one arm in front of Daniel. Half-shielded behind his guard, Daniel finally noticed that Ovitix was wearing the same gauntlets that Commander Sujanha and Ruarc wore, which probably held a personal shield, considering that the gauntlets were the modern version of the Goa'uld kara kesh.

There was a long pause before Daniel could bring himself to speak again. Grief, relief, and anger wared within him: relief to finally find his wife again and to know she was safe, at least temporarily; grief at what she was going through at the hands of the Goa'uld; and anger to know that it was not his beloved wife looking at him through her eyes but a snake.

"Kasuf, we're in danger," said Daniel finally, fighting to keep his voice level and relatively calm, "How long has she been here?"

"More than a season," his father-in-law responded immediately, confusion clear in his voice and face.

"What?!" replied Daniel. This is not good, so not good.

"Why are we in danger?" Kasuf asked, his puzzlement evidently becoming stronger the longer this unexpected conversation went on.

Even as Kasuf was speaking, Sha're moved from her place, half-concealed behind him, around his other side, until she was standing only a few feet away from Daniel himself. "Husband!"

Ovitix shifted uneasily at Daniel's side. He had slowly lowered his arm back to his side after a minute when there seemed to be no immediate danger but still stood so that Daniel was partially shielded behind him.

"I am Sha're's husband. Who are you?" Daniel replied, his voice, somehow level, not displaying the turmoil within him.

"My Daniel, please!" Said Sha're in a pleading tone, full of confusion at her husband's actions. She moved forward one small step, than two, as she spoke.

In response, Ovitix raised his arm again in front of Daniel and took one step back, forcing Daniel to do the same, but drew no weapon, his actions purely defensive.

Sha're recognized the guard's actions for what they were and retreated back to her father's side. Kasuf put a comforting arm around his daughter's shoulder, saying to Daniel, "Good son, do your eyes not see?"

"Sha're has been taken by a Goa'uld. A demon now lives within her. One of great power and evil," Daniel replied, his words sharp and curt. This whole situation was disquieting and confusing. Sha're seemed like herself, the pain and grief in her eyes at his treatment of her all too sincere. The Goa'uld would not have released her host, would she? This is just a cruel trick, isn't it?

Kasuf turned to his daughter, who bowed her head, unable to meet his eyes for shame. "He speaks the truth, Father," Sha're said in a shaky voice.

"But you said you returned to me." Questioned Kasuf, stark confusion plain in the old leader's voice.

"And I have," replied Sha're pleadingly.

"Stop it!" Daniel cried in a harsher tone, his emotions finally brimming over beyond his control, his temper on the verge of breaking. With his focus on his wife, he had almost forgotten his guard's presence beside him, an uneasy presence in this uncomfortable family drama. "Okay, just stop it. You can't fool me. I know what you are. I've seen what you are."

"Please, believe me!" Sha're begged.

"No."

"The demon sleeps because I am with child," Sha're said, her eyes shiny with unshed tears. When Daniel did not reply, she continued, her voice starting to break, "Hear me, husband. The Goa'uld that has stolen my soul is called Amaunet. She sleeps for the sake of the child."

"Why?"

"If she awakens, the child will come forth, stillborn."

Finally, Ovitix spoke in a low tone to Daniel, the first words he had spoken since leaving Rasik at the gate. "No news from scouts has ever told of human children among the Goa'uld."

In a split second, Daniel made the horrifying connection, "Apophis is the father?" He asked, his voice full of horror and disbelief.

Sha're finally broke down into tears, which begin to trickle down her cheeks, "Yes. He has hidden me away. He does not want to reveal the true purpose of this child to his enemies." She buried her face in her father's shoulder as soon as she was able to force out the words.

"What true purpose?" asked Daniel. "Sha're! What does Apophis want with a human child?"

Finally, Sha're raised her head and in a voice that shook with tears replied, "He wishes the child to one day become his new host."

Daniel stunned beyond belief struggled to comprehend this new bombshell. I wish Teal'c were here, he thought to himself, he could help explain … all this. "Is that true?" He asked, wanting Sha're to confirm the words. When she didn't reply, he prompted her, more sternly than he really meant to speak, however upset he was, "Sha're, is that true?"

Sha're nodded her head, unable to bring herself to speak.

Outraged but unwilling to vent his feelings, all Daniel could do was retreat from the tent and take a seat in the sand, not far from his family's tent. Some minutes later, Ovitix took a seat beside him silently.

"I'm sorry," Daniel said, after a long silence, "that you had to hear all that."

Ovitix was quiet for a long moment but finally responded slowly, as if he were carefully cherry-picking each word or struggling to find the correct words, "Much that was said I did not understand. What I did understand, I will speak of to no one without your permission."

"Thank you," replied Daniel, scooping up a handful of fine sand and letting it slowly trickle back out through his open fingers onto the ground.

"In a few moments, I will send word to Rasik with this news. He will take word back to the Commander. She must know of this."

"Can she help?" Asked Daniel hopefully. The Furling's technology was so advanced. Could they free Sha're from the snake controlling her?

"In one way or another, yes," replied Ovitix. After he had spoken, he rose and began to turn away but then paused, "Be with her while you can. I will return soon."


After staying outside a little while longer to make sure his temper and volatile emotions were under as much control as possible, Daniel reentered the tent. Kasuf was sitting by the fire, and Sha're was on the far side of the tent. Kasuf rose, patted his son-in-law kindly on the shoulder, and then departed, leaving the long-parted husband and wife alone. Sha're herself then rose, turning away from Daniel, her body language defensive.

"You hate me," she said softly.

"No, no, I love you," replied Daniel, his heart breaking seeing the changes in a wife after a year as a prisoner among the cruelest enemy earth had ever faced.

"Will you forgive me?"

A few quick steps brought Daniel to his wife's side, and he pulled her into his arms and said in a voice choked with emotion, "There's nothing to forgive."


A long, quiet hour passed before there was any sign of Ovitix's return. Daniel and Sha're talked quietly alone in the big tent, reconnecting and talking of what had occurred since they had last been together. Daniel told her in broad strokes (without the gory details) of the recent events in his life, leaving Earth and finding a new home with the Furlings.

Finally, there was noise outside, and Kasuf pushed away the door hangings. Beyond him, Daniel saw Ovitix and another man, whose face he did not recognize. When Ovitix made a come-hither gesture, Daniel rose, saying quietly to his wife, "I'll be back in a minute," and then stepped outside. Kasuf entered the tent, leaving Daniel and the two other men alone outside.

"Daniel," the other man greeting him with a smile and a flash of extremely non-human teeth.

"Ruarc!" replied Daniel in surprise, immediately recognizing his new friend's voice but wondering at his new disguise.

"I bring news from my lady," said Ruarc, keeping his voice low so not to carry, "Ovitix sent word of all that has occurred this day, and the Commander dispatched me with her instructions. Considering it likely that either Apophis will soon return for his queen or a rival System Lord might seek to abduct her while she is vulnerable and unguarded, Sujanha has sent a fast ship to guard Abydos. If your wife is willing to leave, Sujanha wants her to come to one of the worlds we control in this galaxy."

"And after the child is born and Amaunet reemerges?" Daniel asked cautiously in the same low tone. If this were earth, Maybourne—that slimy, good-for-nothing, sorry excuse for an officer—would want a crack at her.

"Sha're will have to be imprisoned for her own safety and ours until our healers know how to safely remove the symbiote. Our first priority, Sujanha emphasized, is the safety of the innocent host. If the symbiote in its arrogance speaks more than it should, our commanders will welcome any news that it gives, but Sha're will not be interrogated in any fashion. She will be kept in a comfortable cell with female guards and access to good healers, and you will be able to see her as often as you wish. She will be safe until we can free her, and the symbiote will do harm to no one else."

To Daniel, it sounded like a good plan and was probably better than could be hoped for on earth. No interrogations, no slimy officers, and with the Furlings, she would probably be freed sooner.

"Let's give her the news. I won't force her. It will be her choice to stay or go."

"Of course, we would have nothing else," replied Ruarc, "do you wish me to accompany you?"

"Yes, please."

Ruarc turned to Ovitix and spoke quickly to him in Furling. Daniel was starting to be able to pick out a few words here and there but not enough to truly understand what he was saying. When Ruarc had finished speaking, he turned to Daniel and motioned for him to enter the tent first.

Kasuf and Sha're were both sitting by the fire, and they looked up as Daniel entered with the stranger. Daniel sat down beside his wife, and Ruarc bowed politely to Kasuf before sitting down on the opposite of the fire.

"Sha're," Daniel said, taking her hand, "This is Ruarc, one of the Furlings I was telling you about and a good friend. He has a proposition for you."

Sha're looked across at the newcomer shyly but did not speak.

"Lady Sha're," Ruarc began, "As you have been told, my people are called the Furlings. We are a powerful race and live in far-distant lands beyond the reach of the System Lords. We have heard much of their wickedness and cruelty and would see them fall if it is within our power to bring about their destruction. Daniel has told us of you and your imprisonment, and we have grieved with him and have raised prayers to our Creator for your swift deliverance.

"I am a simple soldier, but hearing of your condition and your temporary freedom, my Commander has suggested that you leave Abydos with Daniel and come to our lands. You will be safe until the child is born, and our healers will work to free you from the control of the demon."

"Can I stay with my Daniel?" Asked Sha're, looking back and forth between Ruarc and her husband.

"Until the child is born, yes. Once the demon reasserts control, you will have to stay in one place under guard for your own safety and ours, but you will be well treated and well cared for, and Daniel will be able to visit you often."

"Apophis will return," cautioned Kasuf, "If she is gone, he will destroy the whole village."

Ruarc shook his head, "Rebury the gate as soon as we depart. My Commander has dispatched a ship to guard your world from the air. If in the extremely unlikely occurrence that the Goa'uld managed to slip past our guard, just tell them that an enemy of Apophis came and stole Sha're and the child away."

"I will come with you," said Sha're after a moment's thought. Daniel smiled in relief.

"Pack anything you wish to bring with you. We will depart for the gate as soon as you are ready."


The journey back to the gate took longer than Ruarc seemed comfortable with, but the journey across the hot sand was slow and tiring, especially for Sha're who was leaning heavily on Daniel's arm by the time the group reached the gateroom. The men whom Kasuf had sent to rebury the Stargate were only minutes behind them. Rasik was waiting for them as they arrived and immediately began dialing the gate.

As Rasik dialed, Sha're suddenly pulled away from Daniel's side and took several large steps backwards.

Surprised, Daniel turned to face her, his face full of concern, "Sha're, what's wrong?"

Suddenly Sha're's eyes glowed, and Amaunet spoke, "You dare lay hands on me to take me from this place."

"It is the naquadah in the gate. Amaunet roused, sensing it," said Ruarc.

Daniel approached her cautiously, taking her face in his hands, "Sha're, fight this thing. You have to hold on, a little longer, please!" He begged her.

After a moment it was Sha're who again looked back at him. She clutched at his arms, "Daniel?"

"It's okay. It's gone now," Daniel replied, trying to comfort her.

"We must go," Ruarc prompted. "The longer we are here, the sooner Amaunet will return again."

With Daniel supporting her on one side and Ovitix on the other, Sha're managed to make it up the steps to the open Stargate. Then they stepped through with Ruarc and Rasik acting as rear guard. When they all emerged from the wormhole, they were on a very different world. The Stargate stood in the middle of a grassy plain surrounded by high trees at a distance of 100ish yards. The vegetation was only ankle high, providing clear lines of sights for the gate guards. A large group of people, most evidently guards and others probably healers, were waiting for the new arrival. Seeing the strange faces of the Furling and Lapith guards, Sha're shrunk into Daniel's side in fear.

"It's alright. You're safe."

A moment later Sha're's eyes flashed as Amaunet roused again, but then Sha're was back, clutching her belly and crying out in pain. At her cry, a woman—human with salt and pepper hair—pushed her way through to Sha're's side, who had sunk to the ground.

"It's alright, my child," the woman said in English, kneeling next to Sha're who was supported in Daniel's arm. She pressed a hand to Sha're's forehead. When she pulled her hand back, Daniel caught side of a colored stone on her palm. "Your baby comes. All will be well."

To Daniel she said, "I'm Kaja, Sujanha's personal healer. Our lady sent me." Then she turned back, calling something urgently in Furling to someone among the guards or the other healers. In moments, Kaja, Sha're, Daniel, and Ruarc were all beamed away to the infirmary.

The next hour was a blur. As soon as they reached the infirmary, Sha're was surrounded by even more healers and helped to a bed. The pain of labor combined with the fear of Amaunet's return and all the strange, new faces were frightening, and it was all Daniel could do to keep Sha're calm. He had hoped there would have been more time to get acclimated before the baby came.

Soon, Kaja was laying a baby in his arms, "You have a son."

Seconds later, Sha're's eyes flashed. "Give me the child." She said angrily. When the healers moved to restrain her, Amaunet's temper exploded, "You dare touch…" Her words trailed off as a healer injected her with a sedative, and she collapsed.

Daniel, still cradling the boy, backed up out of the way of the healers. "What will happen to Sha're now?" He asked Ruarc, who had been in the hallway outside but had come to the doorway at the sound of the commotion.

"Once the healers deem her strong enough for travel, Sha're will be taken back to our galaxy. A stronghold has been prepared to contain the Goa'uld we capture until their hosts can be freed."


Two days later, Daniel stood in front of a large cell on a Furling-controlled world in Asteria as a temporally sedated Sha're was laid on the bed. The cell's accoutrements had been fashioned in the likeness of Abydonian work, and holograms covering the three walls and Sha're's clothing completed the illusion that Sha're was in Kasuf's tent on Abydos. Only when she looked out through the force shield covering the doorway would the illusion be broken.

Here Sha’re would stay for the foreseeable future, safe from harm except that which her symbiote would inflict. Her son would be safe on Abydos with Kasuf, protected from the reach of Apophis and the other System Lords but where Daniel could also check on him from time to time. It was not that Daniel did not care for the boy because of his parentage or did not want him to stay on Uslisgas, but Daniel felt unprepared to be a father, having had less than day’s warning before his wife gave birth and lacking any knowledge of how to deal with babies. Moreover, with all the work he was doing with the Commander, Daniel did not always have that much time to spare, and he had heard that babies were a fully-time job. The boy deserved time and love and attention, and Daniel did not feel that he could care for him as he truly deserved. Kasuf could, and thus Daniel was forced to conclude that the boy was better off on Abydos. Hopefully, one day, all three of them—Daniel, Sha’re, and her baby—would be reunited and could be a family together.


[1] From here on out, this chapter contains direct quotes from the episode transcript of "Secrets." These dialogue lines were created by the writers and producers of Stargate, not by me. This site was used to compile the dialogue: /wiki/2.09_%22Secrets%22_Transcript.

Chapter Text

After the excitement and surprise of finding Sha’re on Abydos, life for Daniel went back to normal for a while. Not long after Sha’re was transferred to the Furling prison world, Daniel was appointed as Sujanha’s third aid. When she had told him the news, the Commander had stated wryly that Daniel had been doing the work of an aid almost since his arrival and now he could receive a generous salary in return for his work. Ruarc, who had become one of Daniel’s closest friends on Uslisgas and his go-to person for questions about Furling, uh, anything, had revealed that his salary, 300 pieces of Aslat (a Furling metal), would allow him to live quite comfortably even if he were paying for his own housing. Since Daniel had chosen to remain with Sujanha, he would have a lot of money left over every year. Thankfully, with the Furling’s ‘banking’ system, Daniel was not reduced to hiding his money under his mattress.

As the months passed, Sha’re remained confined. As advanced as the Furling healers were, they were unsure how to safely extract her symbiote without risking permanent damage or death. They were unfamiliar with parasitic lifeforms such as the Goa’uld, and the healers among their allies, even the Asgard, had been able to offer little assistance. The healers were hopeful that progress would be made when (or if) the Furlings made contact with the Tok’ra.

On a less dismal note, Daniel had devoted a considerable amount of his time, when he was not helping Sujanha or checking on his wife, to the study of the Furling language, an extremely complicated tongue. Ruarc and some of his other friends who spoke English had kindly give of their time to help him with his studies. By the time three or so Furlings months had passed, Daniel had become reasonably fluent in written Furling. He could also understand spoken Furling quite well, though he struggled to speak it himself due to its harsher sounds. Immersion was a very good way of learning a new language, even if not always the most pleasant.

The preparations for war, in general, were going well, but the search for the rebel Jaffa was going very slowly. After the original discussion between Daniel and the Commander in which he had revealed the existence of the Free Jaffa, Supreme Commander Anarr had sent a sizable number of scouts to the Milky-Way to sow seeds of rebellion where possible and to search out the Free Jaffa safely without exposing them. Both Supreme Commanders along with their principle lieutenants had all agreed that it was too risky to attempt to infiltrate Chu’lak in their search. While the scouts had learned much valuable intelligence for the war effort during their long three month search, they had discovered few leads as to the Free Jaffa.


 

The 1st of Ea, 6545 A.S. (December 1998)
Four Earth Months after Secrets

Today was Daniel’s day off. He had spent the morning with Sha’re, sitting outside her cell, talking to her in the hope that even with Amaunet in control, Sha’re could still hear his voice. After returning to Uslisgas, Daniel had eaten a quick lunch in the Great Square and then had returned to the Citadel to bury himself inside the Great Library of the Furling and put his newfound knowledge of their language to good use. The library was a massive building with eight-floors of stacks and more square footage than the British Library in London. There were books written not only by the Furlings but also by countless other races that were currently their allies or had been in ages past.

These books covered almost every topic imaginable: history, biography, theology, philosophy, literature, epics, poetry, sciences. Furling writings—so a librarian had explained to him at length and so he was discovering from his own perusing—were mainly of the historical variety (including biographical) or the philosophical or the scientific. Of fiction and most poetry, Furlings read little and wrote even less, though Daniel did learn that a couple of long lays/epics had been written concerning the Great War with the Sicarii and the countless soldiers and civilians who had fallen during the millennia-long war. On theology, the Furlings also wrote little. Daniel had known that they were a religious people, remembering the reference Ruarc had made to their ‘Creator’ when he had come to Abydos. He had learned from some exploring in a number of encyclopedia-like books that their religion was not an organized religion and had no religious institutions like with Christianity, Judaism, or Islam on earth. The Furlings, however, had a common faith in one God and one God only, whom they called the ‘Creator.” There were some similarities with the three major religions on earth: the belief in prayer, the belief in a life after death and a final reckoning, and the belief that the good and the evil have different resting places for eternity.

Daniel had been in the stacks, happily pursuing his way through a number of books, when he heard hurried footsteps. He looked up and around with some surprise, double-checking what was going on around him. A young man (human) in a military uniform was coming down the main hallway that bisected that wing of the library into two long rows and was quickly scanning people’s faces looking for someone in particular it seemed. As soon as he caught sight of Daniel, he made a bee line towards him.

“__ Jackson,” he said in very quick Furling, which Daniel could catch almost every word of, “You are ___ summoned to Headquarters. The Lady has need of you.”


 

One of the things convenient about Furling (and Asgard) beaming technology was that it made getting to Headquarters from the Library quick and easy. As soon as Daniel reached the steps that lead down from the Library’s main entrance, he was beamed away to the entrance hall of Headquarters. In moments, he was on one of the lifts upstairs, and moments later was entering Sujanha’s suite of offices.

The door between the outer offices and Sujanha’s inner office was fully open, even an extension that Daniel hadn’t known existed. Asik and Jaax were both there along with Ragnar and Ruarc. Even Commander Anarr was there, pacing in front of Sujanha’s desk, gesturing and speaking to her at a very fast clip, too fast for Daniel to have a hope of understanding.

“What’s going on?” Daniel asked in Furling, joining Ruarc, who was leaning against the doorframe watching the discussion between the two Supreme Commanders. “Problem?”

“Maybe,” Ruarc replied in a low whisper, “That’s the issue: we don’t know yet.”

For both Supreme Commanders to be present—they were more involved in day-to-day operations than most very high generals or admirals on earth seemed to be, but Anarr rarely came down to his sister’s offices when problems arose—whatever had happened … something must have had gone majorly wrong. “What happened?” Daniel hissed back, concerned.

Ruarc opened his mouth to answer, but before he could speak, Sujanha looked up from where she was sitting at her desk, past her brother and, seeing Daniel, said to him in Furling, “Good, you’re here. I am sorry to have to summon you on your day of rest.”

“That’s alright, my lady,” he said, speaking slightly more formally as Anarr was there, “I’m glad to help. What happened?” Daniel and Sujanha were quite comfortable around each other, after months of living in the same house, and she seemed to be becoming rather fond of him, but her brother—a much sterner man and more curt in speech—made him slightly uneasy.

“Yesterday,” Anarr said gruffly, his eyes flashing with anger, “I lost contact with two of my scouts in the Milky-Way without any warning. An hour ago, one of them returned alone and with disquieting news...”

“After four months of searching,” said Sujanha, taking up the tale, easily as if the two siblings often finished each other sentences, “we have finally found Bra’tac and the Rebel Jaffa, or rather, I should say, they found us.”

Daniel frowned, puzzled, struggling to follow what the two Commanders were saying or implying. “I don’t follow,” he said, sidestepping Anarr to take his usual seat by Sujanha’s desk.

“My. Scout. Is. A. Hostage,” growled Anarr in a manner more appropriate to a big cat than a ram with a massive set of horns. He was, obviously, furious. Sujanha’s anger seemed more to run cold, while her brother ran hot.

Sujanha continued, “From what Jeluk—the scout who returned—has told us, he and his brother Navok had been leaving the world they had been investigating but were waylaid by Bra’tac and his Jaffa on the way to the gate. Jeluk was reluctant to fight his way out, since the Jaffa leader matched your description of Bra’tac exactly. Bra’tac took Jeluk and Navok to another planet, the address which we now have, and then sent Jeluk back to us with a message: he is willing to meet with us but wants you, Daniel, along with a Furling commander to come alone. He promises Navok’s safe return.”

Daniel remembered how suspicious Bra’tac had been of SG1 during their mission to rescue Rya’c, a few months after SG1 had been just formed. “Are you asking for a threat assessment?” On one hand, Daniel was an archaeologist, not a soldier, but on the other hand, he was the only one in the room to have had any encounters with Bra’tac, not counting the encounter with the scouts.

“Yes,” said Anarr, his voice more restrained now, “An alliance with the Rebel Jaffa would be beneficial to us, but we had not expected our first encounter with them to occur in this manner. We wish to consider all sides of this issue, before sending more of our men possibly into harm’s way.”

“Understandable,” said Daniel. The Furlings were not going to leave a man behind, that was very clear, but nor were they willing to rush headlong into a trap.

Daniel was quiet for a long minute, thinking through his answer carefully and weighing each word before he said it. “When SG1 and I first met Bra’tac, he was very suspicious of us. Bra’tac is an old, cunning warrior and an honorable one, but the rebel movement among the Jaffa is a small one right now, and Bra’tac is one of the main leaders, if not the main one. If something happened to Bra’tac, it could spell disaster for them. Bra’tac wants to meet, he told you that already. An alliance could greatly strengthen his cause, but he is going to be a wary of a double-cross or a trap, just as you are.”

“Not unreasonable. Caution is a good thing, as long as you are not overly so,” added Ruarc from the doorway, “As dishonorable as the Goa’uld are, he is wise to be wary.”

Sujanha nodded, acknowledging her guard’s statement, before glancing over at her brother. A silent conversation passed between the two with looks and small gestures. Finally, Anarr nodded, and Sujanha looked back at Daniel. “Are you willing to go?” She asked.

“Yes,” Daniel replied without hesitation. He trusted Bra’tac and hoped that he might be able to get some news of his friends during a meeting.

“Then the only matter left to discuss,” said Anarr, “is to decide which commander to send.”

“All Bra’tac said to Jeluk regarding this matter,” rumbled Ragnar, “was that he wanted to meet Jeluk’s commander. Considering our hierarchy and the fact that Commander Anarr is Jeluk’s superior but the scouts are going out under your auspices, lady, it seems to me that you have a large amount of freedom of which commander to pick and from which branch, expect for either of you, with all due respect.” Never let it be said that the larger of Sujanha’s bodyguards was all brawn and no brain.

Daniel was able to follow what Ragnar was saying, right up until the last statement, which confused him. Sujanha waved a paw in a gesture that was either an acknowledgement or a dismissal, Daniel wasn’t sure which.

“What rank then?” said Sujanha.

“Fleet Commander or General?” Suggested Anarr.

“Too low,” Sujanha said, shaking her head, “I’m not even sure all of my Fleet Commanders speak English. Bra’tac speaks English, correct?” She asked Daniel. When she saw him nod, she continued. “And if all mine do not, your Generals are even less likely to.”

“High Commander or High General?”

“Considering Bra’tac’s rank and status within the Rebel Jaffa movement, I think that would be appropriate.”

“Mine or yours, then.”

“Mine,” replied Sujanha definitively, “The scouts are your soldiers but are going out under my command, which makes this situation my problem. Moreover, if we succeed in building this alliance, Bra’tac and the Jaffa are more likely to interact with my lieutenants than yours.”

Anarr shrugged and agreed. Daniel had a feeling he might have argued more if he weren’t in such a hurry to get this situation resolved ASAP. “Algar or Bjorn then.”

“Bjorn is in Ida right now helping Thor and the Crown Prince with a situation with the Vocontii that needed extra hands, and his English is poor anyway. Algar will succeed me in time anyway, and his fleets will form the strike force against the Goa’uld. It makes sense for him to be chosen.” Daniel, from idle chatter and discussions with Ruarc and Jaax, knew that the High Commanders were one step below Sujanha in rank but had never met either one before.

“Shall I send for him then?” Asked Jaax himself, appearing in the doorway beside Ruarc.

“Please,” replied Sujanha, “and send a message to Njall in the Milky-Way, I need to speak to him, as well.” Who Njall was, Daniel did not know, probably one of Sujanha’s ship-commanders. The Furling Fleet was quite large from all he had heard, though he had never seen exact figures.

“Of course,” Jaax said. He saluted in the Furling fashion and then withdrew.

Sujanha turned then to Ruarc. “Please take Daniel to supplies, and see that he has what he needs.”

“Yes, lady,” said Ruarc and motioned for Daniel to follow him.


 

Ruarc led Daniel silently from Headquarters and a little ways south along the Citadel into a heavily fortified building that looked like it had been built to withstand a siege. Well, considering the war against the Sicarii, it might have been built to do just that. The building, which Ruarc revealed was used as both a temporary barracks and as storage for supplies, was much busier than even Headquarters seemed to be, with lots and lots of creatures from many different races moving about.

Ruarc led Daniel up and down several hallways until they reached a small staircase that led down two levels into a large chamber. The room had several staircases leading up above or even farther down. It was further subdivided into several smaller sub-sections by see-through partitions and was evidently an armory, as Daniel caught sight of a row of staff-weapons along the far wall.

“Over here, Daniel,” called Ruarc. Daniel had stopped unconsciously while looking around, but Ruarc had gone on ahead and was standing by a storage rack full of gauntlets like Sujanha wore. The gauntlets, when not on a person, were formed of what appeared to be two pieces of metal the width of his forearm that hinged on one side and fastened on one side. There were no visible buttons or moving parts or control mechanisms.

“Pull up one sleeve.”

Daniel walked over, tugging up one sleeve as requested.

“You’ll feel a slight prick,” warned Ruarc, pressing one open gauntlet to Daniel’s left forearm.

The prick when it came was so slight that Daniel almost didn’t feel it, but he rubbed away the slight sting automatically. “What was that for?” He asked curiously.

“These gauntlets are now coded to your signature. You are the only one who can use them now,” Ruarc replied, “You can pull your sleeve back down now.”

Ruarc handed the gauntlets to Daniel one at a time. All the gauntlets seemed to be of one size, as far as his eyes could tell. Yet, as he put each of them on, they seemed to fit to his arm exactly and then, the seams and hinges disappeared, making the gauntlets appear to be made entirely out of one piece of metal.

“Whoa! How do I take them back off?” Sam would have kittens if she could see this, Daniel thought, somewhat sadly.

“Put one finger at the top of where the seam was, press in slightly, and then drag your finger down. That will make the seam reappear, but if you don’t take the gauntlet off, the seam will disappear again in a few seconds.”

Daniel followed the instructions and watched with wonderment as the metal seam flowed in and out of sight. “How does it do that?”

“Nanotechnology,” replied Ruarc, “though I don’t really understand the exact principles of how it works.”

“Amazing.”

“Focus,” chided Ruarc gently, “Your gauntlets serve most importantly, for this mission, as a personal shield and an emergency beacon, though they have other functions as well. These functions can be accessed either through touch—which is slower—or through the neural interface. Never set off the beacon unless the situation you are in is a dire emergency and you have no other choice. When the beacon is activated, it sets off a warning in the control room at Headquarters and on the bridge of all nearby ships. The personal shield, however, can be activated any time even during non-emergencies. It works just as well to keep off snow or rain as it does to keep out a staff blast.”

“How do I activate the shield mentally?”

“Close your eyes, and imagine yourself surrounded by a blue bubble shield. Focus on that.”

Daniel closed his eyes and focused. After a few moments, he felt a slight shiver, and then Ruarc exclaimed, “It’s up.”

Daniel reopened his eyes. “Nothing looks any different.”

“The shield is invisible unless it’s under pressure,” said Ruarc. To illustrate his point, he reached out one paw toward Daniel. His reach was unobstructed until his paw was a few inches away from Daniel’s shoulder. Suddenly, his paw stopped moving, and a blue energy field appeared surrounding Daniel’s body.

“The shield within the gauntlets is not as strong as a dedicated personal shield, as the power source in the gauntlets is split between multiple functions, but your shield can stop anything from a bladed weapon to a staff blast, though I wouldn’t risk getting hit by anything as powerful as a death glider’s weaponry. Reverse the process to turn the shield off.”

Distracted by imagining how much Sam would like to get a look at the Furling shields, since the Goa’uld version could not stop things with low kinetic energy, it took Daniel two tries to turn off the shield. As soon as he deactivated it and Ruarc made a call, the two were beamed away to the Hall of the Stargate.


High Commander Algar was waiting for them when they arrived. He was even more intimidating, in Daniel’s view, than either Sujanha or her brother. Probably about 7 feet tall, Algar looked like an eagle with coal black feathers. He had dark, glittering eyes and a long beak. His large wings—actual wings!!!—were held tightly against his back but fluttered slightly periodically. Algar had arms, as well as wings, and Daniel saw when he moved that his fingers were tipped with long talons. His manner was grim. Yikes, Bra’tac going to be in for a surprise.

As soon as Algar saw the two beam in, he made a signal, and the Stargate began to dial. “Are you going with us, Ruarc?” Asked Daniel.

“No,” the bodyguard replied, giving the High Commander a quick salute, “I’ve just come to see you off.” He lowered his voice and then continued, “Trust your friend, but be careful. If you feel there’s imminent danger, activate your shield. Obey the High Commander’s instruction. If this mission goes wrong, there’s a mothership in orbit around the planet.”

The Stargate finished dialing and opened with a kawoosh that made Daniel flinch slightly, as talking with Ruarc, he hadn’t been expecting it.

“We must go,” said Algar curtly.

Ruarc squeezed Daniel’s shoulder. “Good fortune to you, and bring yourself back unharmed! Don’t keep the Commander waiting.”

Algar stepped through the gate, and Daniel followed a couple paces behind, and they emerged onto a new world.


The world the two men emerged onto was a forested one. The Stargate stood in a large clearing surrounded by a forest at a distant of about 10-15 yards. Several paths could be seen through the trees: some barely more than footpaths, and others widely cleared trails. There were no Jaffa in sight.

“Where’s Bra’tac?” Daniel wondered aloud in a low voice. He felt slightly uneasy about being back in the Milky-Way without backup with the threat of the Goa’uld an always present reality, but then he remained himself sternly that with a Furling mothership in orbit around the planet and with a personal shield, he was probably safer at the moment than he had been on all his excursions with Jack, Sam, and Teal’c.

Algar had his head cocked to one side, before swiveling his head to look around in a nauseating display of near owl-like flexibility that made Daniel’s stomach do a flip just watching him. “We are being watched,” he stated bluntly, “There is a Jaffa just within the tree line. He has concealed himself quite poorly.”

Right after he spoke, a Jaffa, young by the looks of him, emerged from the tree line. He approached them warily, his face full of a combination of suspicion, fear, and awe. When he got close, Daniel saw that he bore the mark of Apophis. With his long sharp beak and avian features, Algar naturally bore a striking resemblance to the bird-like helmets of the Horus Guards of Heru’ur, the great enemy of Apophis.

The Jaffa stopped short a safe distance away from Daniel and Algar. He looked between them, before focusing on Daniel. “Daniel Jackson?” He asked.

“I am,” Daniel replied, “Bra’tac sent for us.”

“Follow me,” the Jaffa replied, casting one last wary glance at Algar before turning and leading them into the woods.

Bra’tac and two Jaffa were waiting in a clearing a couple hundred yards into the woods along one of the smaller, less-travelled paths. They had built a fire that had now burned low, and several old logs had been dragged around to use as seats. A young man, human, almost certainly the missing Navok, was sitting by the fire, talking quietly to Bra’tac, and looked up as Daniel and Algar approached. He rose, and Bra’tac also rose.

Algar glanced quickly around the clearing, taking it all in, before focusing on the missing scout. “You are unharmed?” He asked in English.

“Yes, commander,” Navok replied.

“Is he free to leave?” Algar asked, picking Bra’tac out of the crowd easily without an introduction, just on the basis of Daniel’s description alone.

“He is,” Bra’tac replied.

“Return to Uslisgas immediately,” Algar commanded Navok, “Anarr will wish to speak with you.”

“Yes, commander.” Navok bowed to Algar and saluted him and then turned to Bra’tac and did the same.

As soon as Navok had departed, Bra’tac came around the fire. It had been some time since Daniel had seen him last, but the old Jaffa warrior looked exactly the same, the same easy movements, the same wisdom and cunning in his eyes.

“It’s good to see you, Master Bra’tac,” said Daniel, extending his hand to the old Jaffa.

“And you as well, Doctor Jackson,” replied the old master, grasping Daniel’s arm in the traditional warrior’s greeting, “Teal’c told me of your exile at the hands of that hasshak.” From the scorn with which he spoke and the insult rendered to Maybourne, it was quite clear what Bra’tac’s opinion was about Daniel’s involuntary exile.

Bra’tac then turned to Algar, “Come. Let us sit, and you may tell me why your people have sought us out.”

The other two Jaffa rose from the fire, bowed to Bra’tac and Algar, and then joined their comrade to begin pacing the perimeter of the small clearing to give the two leaders a semblance of privacy to talk. Algar and Daniel sat down on the opposite side of the fire from Bra’tac, who, if he was surprised by Algar’s apperance, did not show it.

“A short time after he first came to us,” Algar said after being introduced, his intonation sharp and pointed and his every word precise and to the point, “Doctor Jackson told us of the Rebel Jaffa and of your brave work to bring down the empire of the accursed ones from the inside. We commanders were surprised to hear of this but also encouraged, thinking that the work would fall on our shoulders alone to bring an end to the Goa’uld.” Considering the Protected Planets Treaty and the Replicating Ones, the Asgard were not in a good position to make outright attacks against the Goa’uld.

“You plan to make war upon the Goa’uld?”

“We do.”

“And your people believe that they have the power to do this?” Bra’tac was understandably skeptical.

“You know of Asgard and the worlds banned by the Goa’uld?” Algar asked to confirm.

“I do,” Bra’tac replied, “I warned Teal’c myself of the forbidden worlds, and the Tau’ri have told us of the Asgard.”

“The Asgard hold the Goa’uld in check from those forbidden worlds by the threat of their power and the occasional show of force,” Algar continued in quick, sharp tones, “The Furlings are as mighty as the Asgard, and we have no treaties to hold our power in check. The reign of the Goa’uld will soon end.”

“And what do you seek from the Jaffa?”

“Intelligence,” Algar replied immediately, without hesitation, “Considering our appearances and our lesser knowledge of your tongue, it is more difficult and more dangerous for us to send out scouts. What information Doctor Jackson was able to give about the Goa’uld, their worlds, their numbers, the main leaders, their alliances and rivalries, was undeniably valuable but limited, considering his recent exile. The coming war will sweep across the galaxy, and it is a war we are ready and willing to fight, but we have no wish to go in with little idea of the ground that lies ahead.”

“What of the Jaffa who have not yet learned the truth about the false gods?”

“This is a war, but we will spare all we can.”

“And in return?” Bra’tac asked. What would the Jaffa get in return for their help was the question at hand.

Algar relaxed somewhat and leaned back, stretching his wings out and then curling them back tight to his shoulders, “What do you want? Food? Healing supplies? Other supplies? Better weaponry? A safe world? Transportation?”

“I will consider what is most needed,” replied Bra’tac. He paused and seemed to think a moment, before continuing. To Daniel, it seemed like the talk would soon be over. Algar and Bra’tac were alike in many ways, and Bra’tac was wary but not stupid, he would know that an alliance would be beneficial for the fragile Rebel Jaffa movement. “What is your conflict with the Goa’uld?”

“They are a blight and a stain upon this galaxy, a race of monsters, thieves, betrayers, and killers, who have no honor,” said Algar, disgust dripping from his words, “They stole from us in ages past, from our hidden strongholds. Most of their technology today are ancient copies, with some distortions, of our own technology. They used our technology to fuel their rise to power, and we would see them fall as restitution.”

“I see,” said Bra’tac. Finally, he rose and extended his hand to Algar, “You have my support. All that I know of the Goa’uld I will freely share.”

Chapter Text

One of the planets that the Furlings had claimed as a supply world and staging ground for their coming campaign was named Ushuotis in their own tongue. It was a singularly unimportant world in Lord Yu’s rather vast territory that was only known for its unforgiving climate. A desert world, Ushuotis had little water and, as a result, almost no vegetation, except for small scrub plants that had adapted overtime to the climate. The weather was extremely unpleasant: scorching in summer and frigid in winter with large temperature differentials between night and day. To top that, the planet was prone to severe sand storms in summer. All in all, the planet was deemed good-for-nothing and, consequently, had never been occupied. Few people ever visited it either, making it an excellent stop-over for those trying to keep the Stargate address of their homeworld concealed.

Late one night, sometime after the Furlings had made first contact with the Free Jaffa, the Stargate opened, and a man stumbled through. He was young with pale skin and short-cropped brown hair. His clothes had once been fine but now were torn and stained with blood.

He seemed first surprised when he saw the surroundings and then dismayed when there was no DHD in sight. Slowly and with many stumbles, he began to make his way from the area around the gate towards the surrounding dunes. He was hampered by a head injury, his hair being matted with blood right at the base of his skull, and by a staff-weapon blast on his upper right leg, and there were large blood stains on the cloth covering his ribs on the right side. Several times he fell but managed to drag himself to his feet again with dogged determination. After the fifth fall, he stayed down much longer before finally managing to rise, only after his eyes had flashed gold.

His gaze firmly set on the hills, he resolutely made his way toward them. Yet, finally, after one last fall, his strength gave out, and he was not able to rise or drag himself across the sand any farther. He rolled onto his back and gazed up at the stars, which were shining brilliantly in the near-cloudless sky above. His eyes slipped close, and consciousness fled.

Chapter Text

Compared to the time and trouble it took to make first contact with Bra’tac and the Rebel Jaffa, it was almost laughably easy to make first contact with the Tok’ra, rather surprising considering their reputation. Late one morning, a month-and-a-half (as the Furlings measured time) or so after Daniel and Algar had first met with Bra’tac, Daniel was sitting in Sujanha’s office, slowly reading his way through a history of the Furling Empire, a sizable book with small print that could double as a door stop in a pinch, when a knock came at the door.

Sujanha swiped a hand through the holographic screens that were projected over her desk: a mix of battle plans, galactic maps with detailed infographics about a long list of planets, intelligence reports from her scouts and the Rebel Jaffa, and budget sheets (the bane of any commander’s existence). Once they were closed, she called loudly, “Come!”

Her office door slid open, and Asik appeared. “Forgive the interruption, Commander,” he said, “a soldier from our base on Ushuotis is requesting an audience with you.”

The Commander’s dark brow furrowed in confusion, “Ushuotis?” She didn’t seem to recognize the name.

Ragnar rose and stepped forward from where he had been sprawled in a chair in a shadowed corner of the room—the lights in the office were somewhat dimmer than usual—dozing or cogitating. “One of your brother’s new bases,” he rumbled, “It isn’t even fully set up yet.”

“Where?”

“Lord Yu’s territory.”

“Considering where his other bases are, why does my brother want a base inside Lord Yu’s territory?” Now Sujanha seemed even more puzzled. She reached up one shaking paw to rub across her eyes. Daniel could see the greater than usual muscle tremors coursing down her arm.

“The weather is extremely unpleasant, especially for humans,” Ragnar rumbled in reply, “the planet has a Stargate but, due to a lack of water and severe temperatures, seems to never have been inhabited and is rarely, if ever, visited.”

“Hiding in the middle of the monster’s nest. Risky but effective,” said Sujanha, half to herself, before she turned back to Asik, who had remained in the doorway. “Why is the messenger here? The bases are my brother’s problem, not mine.”

“He did not say,” Asik replied, “He simply said that his commander had sent him with a message.”

“Very well,” Sujanha replied with a sigh, making a come-hither motion with one paw, “Let him in.”

Asik withdrew, and a few seconds a young human dressed in the uniform of the Furling Army entered. He stopped exactly half-way between Sujanha’s desk and the door, came to attention, and gave a text-book salute.

“Your name, soldier, and your commander’s?” Sujanha asked.

“Nakix, Supreme Commander,” the soldier—Nakix—replied, “I serve under Usprar Trujit.”

“Why have you come? Our supply bases in the Milky Way are under my brother’s supervision, not mine.”

“The morning patrol found an intruder, half dead from the cold and his wounds, near the dunes. We took him back to base and healed him. In doing so, we found that he had a symbiote.”

“This concerns me how?” Sujanha asked. To Daniel, she seemed a touched exasperated, which combined with the dimmed lights and headache, probably mean that she was not feeling well. Her patience and temper were always shorter when the lasting effects of the Sicarii poison troubled her more than usual. Almost 500 years of living with the same symptoms gave new meaning to the term chronic illness. “There are protocols in place for such an occurrence. Heal the host, and then transfer the Goa’uld to our prison.”

“That’s the problem, Commander,” Nakix replied, “Commander Trujit and the healers do not believe that he is a Goa’uld.”

Sujanha straightened with a start of surprise, her laser-like gaze suddenly focusing intently on the soldier. “Explain!”

“The intruder had a number of injuries, including a bloody wound on the back of his head right at the base of his skull, which—our healer said—injured the symbiote. Since our technology is not made to heal non-humans or humanoids and we know the Goa’uld have a healing factor, we healed the host and decided to let the symbiote heal on its own. As of when I left our base, the host was in control and had been ever since he first awoke. He has not acted like the Lady Sha’re did or how we would except a Goa’uld host to act after a long confinement trapped within his own body and his own mind. The host is wary of us but has been polite and seems quite worried about his symbiote, though he has tried to conceal his concern.”

“How interesting!” said Sujanha, her golden-eyes distant as she mulled over the situation, “Thank you, soldier. You are dismissed and may return to base. I will come soon to speak with the intruder personally.”

As soon as the soldier had retired, Sujanha called for her aids, “Asik, please go upstairs and update my brother on the situation. If he is absent, give the message to one of his aids. Jaax, please contact Knight Commander Shandel. I need two of his men for the rest of the day. … And Ragnar, please send for your brother. I’ll need him as well.”

After being appointed as one of Sujanha’s aids, Daniel had spent the majority of his time at Headquarters when he was not in the Library or checking on Sha’re. He had heard enough talk to known that Knight Commander Shandel was the current commander of the Imperial Guard, which numbered about 5000 men. The Imperial Guard, Daniel also knew from his reading, was one of a handful of elite shock-troop units within the Furling Army. Ragnar and Ruarc had both actually served in the Imperial Guard before being assigned by Anarr to guard Sujanha in 6298 AS (about 250 years previously) after they had recovered from injuries gained at the Battle of Three Peaks the previous year, an important battle near the end of the Furling-Sicarii War.


Despite its great size, Furling Headquarters was extremely efficient, and within an hour Sujanha, Daniel, her two regular bodyguards, along with the two extra guards were standing by the Stargate as it began to dial. The two guards had introduced themselves as Kex Keshork, a tall Etrair with chocolate brown fur, and Cosnann Vraigdirru, a hulking figure inside a suit of armor that made Iron Man’s armor from the old comic books look like a tin can.

The moment the group stepped through the Stargate onto Ushuotis, the new guards in front of Daniel and Sujanha and the two brothers guarding the rear, the heat was so stifling that it almost smacked him in the face. From the look of the sun, it might not even be the heat of the day yet.

Once the group made it a few steps away from the gate, they were beamed away. They emerged in an underground passageway carved from stone. Only three people were there to meet them: a Lapith, the base commander maybe, and two Furling guards.

“Your messenger tells me that you have had an unusual visitor, Commander Trujit,” Sujanha began in lieu of a greeting. Daniel stood on her right with the four guards in a semi-circle behind them.

“We have, Ssupreme Commander,” the Lapith replied, a hissing like tone to his words. Daniel had met quite a number of new and unfamiliar races during his time with the Furlings, but in his mind, the Lapiths were the freakiest of all with their reptilian features and weird eyes. “The hosst hass remained in control and sstill doess not act like a Goa’uld or Goa’uld hosst. However, I am keeping him confined until proof of his identity and race is known or until you or your brother order me differently. I left two of my human ssoldiers to guard him and converse with him. Perhapss we will learn ssomething that way.”

Sujanha nodded her head in wordless assent, “I concur with your actions. If you would show us to his cell…”

“Of coursse, Commander,” the Lapith replied and turned, motioning for the others to follow. Then he continued, “He is being kept in an isolation room in the healing halls for now. Whether hiss ssymbiote is Goa’uld or Tok’ra, the healers wanted him kept in the halls until hiss ssymbiote iss healed.” The Furling Empire had standards as to how all its prisoners, even their worst enemies, were to be treated.

The subterranean compound on Ushuotis was simply massive, as the group threaded their way through long tunnel after long tunnel, all part of one large complex. The tunnels appeared to be made of stone or possibly some kind of metal, it was hard to tell. The tunnel walls went straight up from the ground for about seven or eight feet before the two sides met in a curve about ten to twelve feet up at the apex. Boxes and crates were stacked neatly along one wall or the other, where they would impede the flow of traffic less. Only a few soldiers or other personal passed them as they headed to the infirmary, several of whom Sujanha greeted by name. She had a fantastic memory, Daniel had noticed many times previously, for names and faces, often greeting low ranking aids (other than her own) or even janitors and cooks by name when she passed them.

The healing halls were laid out like the Halls of Healing on Uslisgas. The main infirmary was a large, rectangular shaped room with a row of beds along either wall. High-tech holographic screens were projected on the wall above the heads of any occupied beds, displaying the vital signs and other pertinent information about the injured occupant. Several doorways at the far end of the hallway led off to other rooms. Today only two of the beds in the main hall were occupied: one by a human, who appeared to be asleep and had no immediately obvious injuries, and the other by a half-blood Furling with very raspy breathing.

Of the three doors, one led into a storage room (Daniel could see a glimpse of several shelves stocked with equipment), and the other two led to the isolation wards so the warning signs indicated.

“He’ss in that room,” the Lapith Commander said, motioning to the door on the farthest right, “The two guardss are just insside the door, and a portable sshield hass been sset up a pace from the door to guarantee hiss confinement.”

Sujanha turned to her guards, “Keshork and Vraigdirru, you will remain outside and only enter on my command. Once I call the guards out, Ruarc, you will enter with me, and you as well, Daniel; Ragnar, please take up a position in the doorway. Daniel, you have had more interactions with the Goa’uld, and I wish your opinion on this visitor of ours.”

“Commander,” Trujit added, “The healerss who tended him were also human. He has sseen no otherss of uss. Be prepared.”

“Of course. Your assistance is appreciated. Please, do not let us keep you from our other duties,” Sujanha said.

Sujanha swiped open the door, giving Daniel his first look at the room within. It was small with only a bed for furniture. A man set cross-legged upon the bed. His skin was pale, and his short-cropped hair was brown. He was dressed in the typical tunic and trousers of a Furling soldier, probably taken from the wardrobe of one of the base members who was of similar size and build.  His face was young, but with a host, the appearance of age meant little. A small box, likely the portable shield generator, sat on the floor in the middle of the room several feet away from the door. The two guards stood leaning against the wall on either side of the door.

“Come!” Sujanha commanded in Furling to the two guards who had instantly straightened to attention when the door opened. The visitor, seeing her strange form silhouetted in the doorway, had also straightened, a look of mingled astonishment, confusion, and wariness in his open face.

The two guards exited the isolation ward. Sujanha caught the arm of the one last out and spoke to him quickly in an undertone for a moment, before dismissing both guards back to their regular posts. Then Sujanha entered with Daniel and Ruarc, Ragnar taking up his position in the doorway.

“How fare you?” Sujanha asked bluntly, leaning back against the wall on the left side of the door and crossing her arms across her chest. Daniel noticed, with a little concern, that she was leaning her weight heavily on her left leg, another indication that she was not feeling well. The main left-over symptoms of the Sicarii poison were muscle tremors and muscle weakness, especially on her right side, that varied somewhat from day to day. Hence the attempt to unobtrusively keep her weight off her bad leg and support the weaker arm.

“Better,” the man replied, seemingly surprised to be addressed in English, making Daniel wonder in what language he had been talking with the guards, although his surprise could have been as much because of the rather unusual appearances of the three Furlings, “and for that I thank you. I feared when I came through the chappa’ai that I was dying. Are you the commander of this place?”

“No,” Sujanha replied honestly, “but close enough for the purposes of this conversation.” The man’s eyes narrowed slightly at her words.

“Why am I being kept here?” He asked after a long pause.

“On account of the same creature inside you that has been causing you concern ever since you awoke here,” Sujanha was never one to beat around the bush.

There was no point in directly asking the host if he were Tok’ra. If he were actually a Goa’uld and had a modicum of brains, he might lie in an attempt to trick them. If he were a Tok’ra and had a modicum of brains, he would be insane to admit he was a Tok’ra before knowing more about whom he was making the admission in front of and whether he was going to be promptly executed or, worse, handed over to a System Lord.

Daniel did not think that his eyes were deceiving him, seeing the man’s face pale just slightly at Sujanha’s rather blunt statement.

“Tell me,” Sujanha continued, “and speak truthfully, why did you come to this place?” Daniel wondered if he heard an unspoken or else in her voice.

The man was quiet for several long moments, perhaps thinking, perhaps planning his answer. Sujanha’s assessing gaze never wavered from his face.

“We had no intention of coming to this world, wherever it is,” he said. Daniel noticed the deliberate switch from singular to plural: no reason to continue the former with his secret revealed, “We were attacked and tried to make our escape through the chappa’ai, but I misdialed. I do not where we are or who you and your people are, nor do I believe that L… my symbiote would know either.”

If Sujanha noticed his slip of the tongue regarding his symbiote’s name, she didn’t show it. The young man seemed to be getting slowly uneasier by the minute. Daniel wondered slightly at Sujanha’s rather forceful (for her) line of questioning. “Attacked by whom?” She pressed.

For several long minutes, he just starred at her. “By whom?” Sujanha asked again, this time a bit more forcefully.

“Jaffa belonging to Heru’ur,” he finally answered reluctantly, seeming to realize that he might be better off answering than trying to keep silent.

Daniel saw Sujanha, who had lowered her arms to her sides a few minutes before, make a quick hand signal behind her back. A moment later, Ragnar spoke, “Always infighting the Goa’uld are. Killing their own people, their own kin, they have no honor.”

Suddenly Daniel realized what the Commander was doing. Ragnar’s words were true enough no matter who he was addressing, but considering what the young man—whatever his name was—had just said, he would probably deem the comment to be referring to him, and if he were a Tok’ra, would probably take great insult at being compared to or thought to be a Goa’uld.

The instinctive flinch and flash of anger from the already rattled young man, following Ragnar’s comment, seemed to confirm Sujanha’s line of reasoning in her questions, for she immediately relaxed and a cat-like grin spread across her face. “So … it is as we thought, you are Tok’ra …Your face betrays you, young one…”

The young man’s face went deathly pale as she spoke before becoming confused and surprised as Sujanha continued, saluting him in the Furling fashion, “You are welcome among us.”

Suddenly his posture and body language changed completely from the wary confusion of the host to tense hostility that tried to hide his fear and defensiveness. When he spoke again, it was with the dual-flanged voice of the symbiote, “What do you want with us?” His voice was a low growl.

“My greetings,” Sujanha replied, unruffled by the angry emergence of the symbiote, “I am glad to see you awake. You were injured when we found you, but our healing technology does not work on non-humanoids.”

“Why would you care?” Now the symbiote seemed confused, too, after his first flare of anger had quieted.

“Because we have a common foe, and I have heard of the bravery and courage of the Tok’ra as they resist the long defeat,” Sujanha replied, “All will be explained in time.”

She turned to Ragnar, still in the doorway. “Find the healer,” she said, “Tell him our guest’s symbiote has awoken.”

Ragnar departed swiftly without a word, and one of the two guards outside took his place in the doorway. Sujanha turned back to the watching symbiote and spoke again, “Do you have a name?”

There was a long silence. From the absent look in the visitor’s eyes and remembering the interactions of Sam with Jolinar, Daniel wondered if the host and symbiote were talking.

Finally, the symbiote replied, “I am called Lantash.”

“And your host? I would know his name as well.”

“Martouf. Who are you?”

“I am Sujanha,” the Commander replied, “My bodyguard, Ruarc; and my aid, Daniel Jackson.”

“From earth??” Martouf was back in control and spoke with great surprise.

Daniel glanced at Sujanha, wordlessly asking if he could answer. She nodded assent. “I was born there, yes,” he replied, “I was exiled over a year ago.”

Martouf relaxed, “We met your friends some months ago, the other members of SG1. They came to our world, seeking the Tok’ra, and proved … a help to us.”

“They were well then?” Daniel asked. He knew that now was probably not the best time to ask such a question, but Bra’tac hadn’t had any recent news of his friends, and he just couldn’t help from asking. As he spoke, Sujanha gave him a look that he couldn’t decipher but didn’t chide him.

“They were,” Martouf confirmed. A moment later, he bowed his head. His eyes flashed, and then Lantash was back in control.

“Who are you?” The symbiote asked again, this time seeking more than a name, “Your kind are strange to me.”

Sujanha flashed a sign, and Ruarc stepped forward and, crouching by the shield generator and making several quick motions, dropped the shield. “My people are called the Furlings, and long have we been absent from this galaxy, only returning after many trials and many wanderings.”

“Why did you return?”

“To see the Goa’uld fall, the same reason the Tok’ra fight. The Goa’uld are a plague and a stain upon this galaxy. It is time their reign ends,” Sujanha replied, “Rebel factions within the ranks of the Jaffa have always pledged their aid to our strength.”

“What do you want from us?” Martouf was back in control.

“Intelligence. Strength of arms loses much of its value without knowledge of where to strike.” The Furlings had learned much from Bra’tac and the Rebel Jaffa, but Sujanha was nothing if not thorough.

There was another long silence, as Martouf and Lantash seemed to speak to each other silently again. “We cannot tell you what you wish to know without permission, but we will bear your message to our leaders. It will be their decision.”

“I understand,” Sujanha replied, straightening up from her slouch against the wall.

“Are we free to depart?”

“You are, though I would prefer that you allow a healer to look at you first. Once you are ready to depart, one of my guards will escort you to the gate and teach you the symbols of this world. You or any of your people are free to return, whether or not you agree to aid us.”


Four days later news came to Uslisgas that a Tok’ra elder, named Selmak, had arrived on Ushuotis. After several days of discussion and negotiations between the Tok’ra High Council and the Furling High Command, an alliance was formed. 

The days of the Goa’uld were numbered. Their doom was near at hand. The Milky-Way would have to face a galaxy-wide war, but it would be a war of deliverance.

Chapter Text

The 8th of Vlopa, 6545 A.S. (April 1999)
Military Headquarters, Uslisgas

"Where's the Commander?" Daniel asked to no one in particular and everyone in general. It was just past the 10th hour of the morning, and he had just returned to Uslisgas from visiting Sha're in the prison where she was still confined until she could be freed from Amaunet's control. He had expected to find Sujanha in her office, but she was strangely absent.

"She had to go up to the shipyards on Ocelum," Asik replied, appearing from the hallway with one long-fingered, pale hand wrapped around a steaming mug of tea, "The Dovahkiin contingent just arrived and has updates for the Valhalla."

After a long moment's thought—he had stayed up much too late the previous night reading—Daniel finally managed to drudge up the memory that the Valhalla was Sujanha's flagship; Ocelum was a planet, not a city; and the Dovahkiin, a much-talked about race of craftsmen and engineers, whom he had never met, were supposed to have arrived days ago.

"I thought the Dovahkiin were supposed to arrive days ago," Daniel asked quizzically, speaking his thoughts aloud.

Asik, who had just taken a drink of tea, nearly choked, "You've never met them, have you?" He asked, a smile lighting up his pale face.

"No…" Daniel replied. He had heard a lot of talk about the Dovahkiin at headquarters, including from Sujanha, who had a close friend at the Dovahkiin Royal Court.

"Unless the world will end if they don't show up, a Dovahkiin almost never arrives on time for anything. It's a quirk of their nature that you have to become accustomed to if you are going to work with them for any length of time," Asik explained, taking a seat at his desk and beginning to shuffle through a stack of reports, "They are a race of engineers and craftsmen. They can get so absorbed in a project so as to go for days without sustenance or sleep and completely lose track of the days. The Lady and Commander Anarr know this and simply make adjustments for it. The Dovahkiin work extremely quickly anyway, and having the Dovahkiin with us is worth the trouble: they can fix almost anything."

"Oh," Daniel said, flopping down into a seat by Asik's desk, "interesting." Daniel was silent for several minutes. He actually wasn't sure what to do for the moment. Sujanha hadn't given him any tasks to complete before he had left that morning. He could go read a book—there were always more books to read considering the size of the Library—but felt like he should be doing something, since the fleet and the army were going to set out for Milky-Way in less than a day.

Daniel started drumming his fingers on his right leg, trying to decide what to go do next.

"Just go up to Ocelum," Asik said, a touch of exasperation leaking into his voice, after only a few moments of the drumming, "Jaax had to go to Procater for the day, and Sujanha should have one of her aids with her." Procater, a planet prone to large, violent storms that popped up with little warning, was the homeworld of the Etrairs.

"Okay," Daniel bounced up and headed for the door. He had never been up to Ocelum before and never actually seen any of the Furling ships. This would be an interesting trip.


Ocelum was a large planet in an adjacent solar system to Uslisgas that functioned as a shipyard for the Furling Fleet, possibly the only shipyard (Daniel couldn't remember). It still amazed him, as he stepped through the Stargate, how it was becoming so commonplace just to step through a wormhole from one planet to another to catch up with his boss. Daniel was quite sure he was one of the luckiest men ever with one of the coolest jobs ever.

Daniel stepped out of the Stargate onto a massive stone dais in the middle of an even bigger courtyard. Rising up around him were large, in both height and width, buildings that were a far cry from the Furling style in Uslisgas, stone structures that were built to last but also had an old-world design. These buildings had the same clean lines but were very utilitarian in design.

After a moment, Daniel realized that the whole courtyard was bathed in shade even though there were no trees or buildings close enough to shade the whole courtyard, especially considering the position of the sun. Then he looked straight up to see a massive warship floating in the sky right above the courtyard. When he started to look around more, he began to spot more warships of multiple different classes in the sky or docked at bays on the ground. From the one glimpse he had seen of Supreme Commander Thor's flagship, the Beliskner, Daniel was able to pick out some similarities between the Furling ships and the Asgard mothership. The Furling ships seemed, he guessed, to have been based off a similar, if not the same, design, though they were less blocky in shape with cleaner lines. Some of the ships were obviously much larger than the Asgard's ships, though some were maybe half the size.

Not seeing anyone in the vicinity, Daniel picked a path at random and started walking, assuming that with all the hustle and bustle going on with the rapidly approaching departure of the fleet that he would soon run into someone who could point him in Sujanha's direction. As he walked, he had to continually keep tearing his gaze away from the spaceships to keep from risking tripping over his own feet or the steps or simply wandering off the path while he was distracted. Daniel had known that the Furlings were powerful—they were one of the Four Great Races, for crying out loud, and were continually sharing technological advancements with the Asgard, their close allies, and receiving others back in turn—but seeing the Furling ships was something else. The size of the ships alone made even the Goa'uld Ha'Taks look like small potatoes.

Not long after he left the courtyard, Daniel was hailed by a passing guard, one of the Iprysh. If the Lapiths were one of the freakiest races in Asteria, the Iprysh were certainly one of the strangest and most mysterious. The true appearance of the Iprysh, who were never seen without their suits of high-tech, mechanical armor, was unknown, Sujanha had explained once. Their homeworld, Skeshan, was an ice world with temperatures that commonly made Antarctica look warm. As a result, few outsiders went to Skeshan on any type of business, the Iprysh usually traveling off world to meet with their allies. The few members of any other race who had been to the homeworld of the Iprysh had either never seen or never revealed the true appearance of the Iprysh. Because of the lack of knowledge about this race, truly ridiculous rumors have developed over the years, which Ruarc had once regaled Daniel with great amusement. Some said, Ruarc had revealed, that the Iprysh had no bone structure and needed their armor to protect their bodies and to give them a non-horrifying, globular shape. Others said instead that the Iprysh were some sort of bodiless consciousness who required a physical form (via the armor) to interact with their allies. Others, more sensibly, believed that the Iprysh who probably had forms adapted for the extremely cold and harsh conditions of their homeworld required the armor to protect their bodies from milder conditions on other planets.

Daniel tore his wandering mind from his ethnographic considerations of the Iprysh when the passing guard was forced to hail him for at least the second time.

"I'm Daniel Jackson, aid to Supreme Commander Sujanha," he replied in near-perfect Furling.

"The Supreme Commander is currently on board the Valhalla," the mechanized voice of the guard replied, assuming that Daniel had come to join his boss. He then activated his com, spoke a few quick words, and Daniel was then beamed away in a flash of light.

When Daniel could see again, he found himself at the end of a featureless grey corridor right beside a crossroads from which three other corridors led off in various other direction and a spiraling staircase led up or down to other levels of the ship. Daniel had utterly no clue where he was in the ship or where Sujanha was, either, though he figured that he probably had been beamed to a place near her. After a moment of just standing listening, he had almost decided to pick a corridor at random and start walking when he heard Sujanha's voice coming up the hallway from behind him.

Daniel turned, waiting for her to appear from around a bend in the corridor. He could hear her speaking in Furling and another voice responding, strangely enough, in what sounded like another language all-together, though it was hard to tell. The other voice spoke a language even harsher and rougher than Furling with tones that sounded like falling boulders. Daniel was reminded suddenly of a comment that Sujanha had made once, some months before, when she had gone to Othala, the Asgard homeworld, to speak with Thor, namely that, because of the shape of their throats and vocal cords, the Asgard could not speak the Furling tongue, and the Furlings could not speak the tongue of the Asgard, either.

Sujanha appeared first around the bend. She was moving slowly, as she had been for days: the weight of the war planning and the preparations for the upcoming departure of the fleet was sitting heavily on her shoulders. What was even more striking was that she wasn't even attempting to conceal her severe limp.

Neither Ragnar nor Ruarc were with her then, but the unknown figure just a half-step back from Sujanha's shoulder instantly made Daniel gulp for the figure instantly beat out the Lapiths for the scariest and strangest creature in the entire Asteria Galaxy.

Like Sujanha, he was humanoid but looked like—the closest Daniel could even compare—was a dragon incarnate with a slight resemblance to the gargoyles on the old cathedrals on earth. He was tall, maybe half-a-head taller than Sujanha. He had green hide covered in a close network of scales. His hands were tipped with long claws, and his feet were clawed as well, making a tap-scratch sound on the floor as he walked. Thick leathery wings sprang out from his shoulders and swept down to brush the floor behind him. His face was monstrous with dark eyes, no obvious nose or ears, the same scaly hide, and several large horns that swept back from his forehead. A circlet of gold encircled the largest of his horns. His clothes appeared to be of leather and thick cloth, and a belt of twisted leather, from which a variety of tools hung, was bound around his waist.

If Daniel had just came to Asteria, he felt as he looked at this newcomer—whom he guessed was almost certainly one of the Dovahkiin—that he might have lost his nerve to go forward. Yet, now he had had 9 months or so to get used to a new galaxy and a whole host of new peoples. Daniel stepped forward to meet them.

Sujanha broke off her conversation as soon as she caught sight of Daniel and smiled at him in greeting, a smile with her eyes, not her mouth. She rarely smiled as humans did, except when she was intentionally trying to imitate human mannerisms. A human smile seemed a little less friendly with her when it could reveal teeth that could tear through flesh like a knife through butter. Her golden eyes were very expressive, though, showing a range of expressions from warm fondness (a look Daniel had seen directed more and more towards him in recent months) to glacial fury (usually reserved for when she had heard news of new Goa'uld atrocities).

Sujanha beckoned him forward. "Zinjotnax," she said, turning back to her companion, "this is Daniel Jackson, formerly of Midgard and now one of our people. He serves as my third aid."

Turning to Daniel, she said, "Daniel, this is Crown Prince Zinjotnax, son of Sariiz, the Great Queen of the Dovahkiin."

When the introductions and polite platitudes were finished, Sujanha commanded, "Please go up to the bridge. I need to know several things. First, have the troop carriers arrived back from Ida yet? If so, the information needs to be transmitted to my brother. Second, how many—if any—of our warships have yet to arrive? Enough ships are setting out tomorrow that we need to start loading supplies soon. Third, have any messages arrived for me from Knight Commander Shandel? Also, I need to you to pass two messages to the bridge crew. First, I need to speak with Sat'a Chakrechi, the weapon's officer, after the afternoon meal. Second, as soon as possible after she arrives, Rusa Bonroas, the navigator, needs to speak with Nizul, the engineer, to be updated on the updates the Dovahkiin brought for the ship. She had not yet boarded when I arrived several hours ago, and I have not had a moment to check since then."

Daniel repeated back her questions and messages back to her to make sure he had them correctly and then asked, "How do I find the bridge?"

"Go up one level. Take the passage that goes straight forward off the stairs, and then take the first right."


Daniel found his way through the long corridors of the massive warship up to the bridge with little problem. The bridge was a massive rectangular room that was semi-circular at one end. In the very front of the room—the semi-circular part—was projected on a continuous row of holograms that displayed a stunning view of space above the planet and a staggering number of ships. Back a little ways was a row of consoles and three chairs, probably for Sujanha, the navigator, and the weapon's officer. The rest of the room was taken up by 4 long consoles/display boards (in the middle of the room) and two large tables at the back.

Only two others were on the bridge currently as Daniel entered: one of the Iprysh sitting in the left seat at the front of the room and a man working on one of the displays which was covered by a massive map (of what Daniel wasn't sure).

The man looked up as Daniel entered. "Are you in need of assistance," he asked, not seeming to recognize Daniel as one of Sujanha's aid.

"I am Daniel Jackson, Supreme Commander Sujanha's aid, and have two messages for the bridge crew from her," he replied, "and there are several things she needs to know, as well."

The Iprysh rose from his—with the armor, Daniel could only guess at his gender—and approached. "Speak then." He said.

"Messages first then, the Commander had a message for the weapons officer."

"I am he," the Iprysh replied.

"The Commander would like to meet with you after the afternoon meal."

"I hear and will obey," the Iprysh—Sat'a Chakrech—replied with a nod. "Next?"

"I have a message for the navigator." The name Sujanha had given for the navigator was, he thought, a Lapith one. Since there was no Lapith on the bridge, he wondered if she had still not arrived yet.

"Rusa has not arrived yet," the man replied, "Give me the message, I will pass it to her."

"As soon as possible, she is to speak with Nizul as to the updates the Dovahkiin brought for the ship."

"I hear."

"What else?" The weapons officer asked, his mechanized voice strangely echoy inside the bridge. The Iprysh, as a race, seemed to be always blunt and to the point.

"The Commander requested information on these issues. First, have the troop carrier arrived back from Ida yet? If so, the information needs to be transmitted to Supreme Commander Anarr."

The man tapped several time on the screen he had been working on and brought up a different map, displaying a galaxy with a multitude of blinking dots. He zoomed in on one area where there was a large collection of dots and tapped on one of the icons, which brought up a separate small screen. "I am Mekoxe, the communications officer," he said, as he worked, "and no, the transports have not arrived yet but are due in an hour. I'll make sure the news of their arrival is transmitted to Commander Anarr."

Daniel nodded, "Have any Furling warships yet to arrive? The Commander was concerned that, with the number of ships setting out, that the supplies be able to be loaded soon."

"The warships from Ida have also yet to return but are only an hour behind the transports. The last two relief ships, departing with the fleet, will arrive shortly. One mothership and two cruisers coming in from the outskirts will also arrive within the hour."

Daniel repeated back the numbers to make sure he had it correctly (it was a lot to remember at once) and then asked his final question, "Last, the Commander needed to know if any messages had arrive for her from Knight Commander Shandel?"

Mekoxe checked another screen and then shook his head, "No, not as yet."


Daniel had rather more trouble finding Sujanha than he had had finding the bridge. Not thinking to ask where she was before he had left the bridge, Daniel was forced to wonder two separate levels for almost twenty minutes before he found her, this time alone except for Ragnar. He gave her the news she had asked for as they walked up to her office on the level above the bridge.

Sujanha spent most of the rest of the day in her office, her strength waning for a time after a very long couple of days. Jaax, who arrived right after the afternoon meal, along with Daniel were her legs, running errands as needed, passing messages, and checking on the arrival of the rest of the fleet and the loading of supplies.

Like most everyone else in the military that day, the three of them worked long into the night. With over 150 warships, several dozen transports, and multiple relief ships (from the name, probably similar to US hospital ships), setting out, there was a simply staggering amount of work to do, supplies to be loaded, and things to oversee. Added to that was the 300,000 or so troops from the Furling Army plus large contingents from the other races within the empire that had to be loaded on to the transports along with the supplies.

The morning of departure began at dawn. Daniel knew Sujanha must have been exhausted and in pain when she emerged from her quarters after only three hours of sleep. He certainly was tired and was wishing fervently for multiple large mugs of coffee, though he would have to content himself with Furling spiced tea.

They ate a quick breakfast with Jaax, Ragnar, and Ruarc. Asik, at his own wish, had been chosen from the three aids to remain in Asteria for the time and keep fleet business functioning there and to make sure necessary information about what was going on in Asteria and Ida was passed on to Sujanha or others.

Daniel trailed behind Sujanha and her guards, lost in thought about his friends on earth, as they went up the bridge where the Commander was due to address the fleet before they departed. The bridge was much busier than it had been the previous day. The navigator and weapons officer were both in their chairs. Daniel saw the communications officer at his console towards the back of the room, and there were another 5 people from several races, whom he didn't know.

Sujanha took her seat, and silence fell across the bridge as her hologram was transmitted across the fleet. The tiredness that had shown in the commander's bearing, posture, and voice even since she had risen had all disappeared as she began to speak.

"Seventy-eight years ago, I stood before you to announce the end of the war against the Sicarii. After over 2800 years of war in which countless lives were lost and our people were brought to its knees, we finally, for a brief period, had peace. Now, we are ready to begin another war that is not in our galaxy, not in our empire, and against a race that does not directly threaten our people, our existence, or our livelihood."

"I ask much of you again. I have asked much of you before, and you, my loyal and brave men, have never failed me. The Goa'uld are a scourge upon the universe. They have stolen our technology, corrupting it into weapons of terror and destruction. They have enslaved countless planets and ruthlessly kill all those who oppose them. We are the unintended cause of their rise to power. It is our duty to ensure their fall."

Sujanha ceased speaking, her short address complete. She turned to the navigator at her side, "Let us depart." One by one the ships jumped into hyperspace.

Months of preparation and planning had all led to this moment. Within ten hours, the Furling fleet along with the countless troops would reach the Milky-Way and begin deploying for their first attacks, a process that could take a couple of days. The war had begun. The reign of the System Lords, though they did not know it yet, was fast coming to its end.

Chapter Text

The 10th of Vlopa, 6545 A.S. (April 1999)
Chulak, Milky-Way Galaxy

On the bridge of the Valhalla, Daniel stood with Master Bra'tac, who was leaning on his staff and watching all the goings-on with great interest. The Valhalla joined by 4 other motherships, 5 cruisers, and 7 transports sailed unseen towards Chulak. In the time that Daniel had been absent from the Milky-Way, Apophis had lost power, having been captured by Sokar several months earlier and thereafter having disappeared. His once-great empire was fracturing as his underlings fought amongst themselves for power and the biggest chunk of territory. Some of his Jaffa, remaining loyal to their absent 'god' and master, still controlled a number of his Hat'taks and, for the moment, several of his important worlds. Sujanha had jumped on the opportunity to strike a blow while their enemy was divided. In consultation with both Anarr and Bra'tac, she had thus chosen to attack Apophis' domain first, especially to prevent other System Lords from claiming the varied resources that control of his planets would provide.

Thus, two days after the Fleet had arrived in the Milky-Way, Furling ships were approaching Chulak, Saqqara, Kawawn, and two of Apophis' other major worlds to begin a coordinated strike that would cripple Apophis' remaining loyalists and keep these worlds from changing hands. Capturing Kawawn would remove a major source of naqauada from Goa'uld hands. Saqqara contained ancient Goa'uld libraries, and there were vague and unsubstantiated rumors, Bra'tac had told Sujanha, of hidden secrets on that world, as well. Chulak, as was well-known, had been one of Apophis' main home-worlds.

From the reports coming in from the other strike-fleets, opposition both in the air and on the ground looked to be relatively small, a fact that pleased Sujanha greatly. She wished for victories that would claim the fewest lives as possible.

Daniel and Bra'tac had taken their stand near the middle of the bridge along one wall where Daniel was near at hand if Sujanha needed him and Bra'tac had a good view of all that was happening on the bridge. The holographic displays at the front of the bridge displayed the position of the other Furling ships even though they were cloaked.

Sujanha was sitting quietly in her chair, seemingly lost in thought, glancing up now and again to check the positions of the five Goa'uld motherships that still guarded Chulak or to answer a question from one of the bridge crew, who were hustling about as final preparations were completed for the attack to begin. Suddenly, Mekoxe, the human communication's officer, approached her from his console toward the back of the bridge.

All the bridge crew was speaking in Furling, and Bra'tac, noticing Mekoxe's sudden movement, looked across at Daniel for a translation. Sujanha, before the Valhalla had picked up Bra'tac on a deserted world, had informed Daniel that he was free to translate anything (within reason) spoken on the bridge and only to use common sense in discerning what not to translate.

"That's Mekoxe," Daniel said quietly, translating slowly as the report was spoken, "he has messages for the Commander from the other strike fleets. Two are in position. The other two will be ready within minutes. She's waiting for confirmation from them all to start the attack."

Mekoxe went back to his station but returned to Sujanha's side within moments after another message appeared up on his console. "Sigurd, the Wing Commander leading the attack on Saqqara, is asking for confirmation of the rules of engagement."

"What are these rules of engagement?" The old Jaffa master asked.

Having gotten a crash course on that and other topics during the trip from Asteria, Daniel, keeping an eye on Sujanha who seemed to be considering the question, replied promptly, "The rules that the Furling Army and Fleet have to follow before engaging in battle and while engaged in battle. They can shift depending on circumstances but are reasonably consistent."

Sujanha began to reply, and Daniel started translating, "First, no ships are allowed to open fire until the lead ships has broadcasted a call to surrender. Second, once battle has been joined, fire to disable, not destroy. Third, any ships with disabled shields or engines cannot be fired upon even if they are still firing. Board them instead, and capture the ships with as little blood shed as possible."

Bra'tac seemed pleased by this. He probably had students or fellow members of the Rebel Jaffa on some of those ships and on Chulak, as well.

Several minutes passed, before the news that Sujanha had been waiting for arrived: all the strike forces were in place. It was time to begin.

"Let us begin," said Sujanha, still in Furling, dispensing orders to the bridge crew, "Uncloak and raise secondary shields. Tell the transports to start deploying their troops. And make sure Nang knows to let several Jaffa through the Stargate before we capture it."

Immediately, the 17 Furling ships decloaked at the same time. As the troops began to beam down to already specified high-priority targets on Chulak, the blind-sided Goa'uld vessels suddenly realized that their world was about to be invaded.

"The Goa'uld vessels are raising shields and arming weapons," Chakrechi, the armored Weapons Officer, stated.

"Broadcast the call to surrender, but do not fire until I give the order," replied Sujanha briskly, "Tell the cruisers to enter the atmosphere in support of the troops on the ground. Watch out for the Death Gliders and the Alkesh." The personal shields that all troops in the Furling Army wore rendered them immune to staff-weapons and zats and even limited fire from staff cannons, the shields in the dedicated personal shields being more powerful than the shields in the gauntlets that Daniel and Sujanha wore. However, heavy fire from an Alkesh or from an array of Death Gliders (or even worse, the impact of a crashing vessel) would wreak havoc in the Furling lines.

Seen in the holographic screens that displayed a nearly 180 degree view of space in front of Sujanha's flagship, all 5 of the Ha'taks were advancing, refusing the call to surrender. (Considering most Jaffa's almost unthinking loyalty to their 'gods,' Daniel and Sujanha both would have been surprised, perhaps even flabbergasted, if they had surrendered.) The lead ship opened fire with its staff-cannons, and its golden fire streaked toward the Valhalla. The ship's shield flared green as the weapons fire impacted it, but the ship did not even shudder. Daniel still remembered how Klorel's ship had shuddered, during the failed attack on earth the previous year, when the naquadah-enhanced missile had impacted the shield.

"Negligible effect on the shield. The ship could hold out all day under this fire."

"That's the point," Sujanha replied dryly, "tell the motherships to focus on one ship and one ship only. Reduce our guns to one-quarter power and fire. Disable the ships. Please do not destroy it." The flagships were protected by three separate layers of shields as well as a heavily armored hull that was supposed to be able to withstand moderate weapon's fire for a short time. Furling motherships were only protected by two layers of shields as well as the armored hull. Even though their hyperdrives were only about half as fast as the Asgard, Furling motherships, from what Daniel had heard, were as powerful as the Asgard Beliskner class, and the Furling flagships might even be more powerful.

Within minutes one of the Ha'taks had unfortunately been destroyed, and the other four were dead in the water. Troops from the remaining two Furling transports still in orbit began to board the ships, an open channel on the Valhalla's bridge broadcasting their radio chatter. As that began, Bra'tac approached Sujanha, moving for the first time since the Furling strike fleet had approached Chulak. Sujanha glanced up immediately as he came to stand by her chair.

"Master Bra'tac?" She asked in a questioning tone, switching flawlessly from the Furling she had been speaking to the navigator into English.

"Until your men have control of each peltak—the bridge—any Jaffa will have an opportunity to set the self-destruct."

That got Sujanha's attention. "Only from the bridge?"

"Yes."

"Do you know how to disable the self-destructs?"

"I do," the old warrior replied with a nod.

Sujanha rose from her chair and half-turned until she could lock eyes with Mekoxe at the back of the room, "Make sure that the men are aware that there are self-destructs and that they are only controlled from the bridge."

"I hear and obey," Mekoxe called back.

Sujanha returned to her seat. "I thank you," she said to Bra'tac, "for the warning. If you wish to observe the course of the battles on the ground, there are maps and view-screens at the rear of the bridge. If you have concerns or warnings, please them raise them at once."

With a subtle of inclination of his head, Bra'tac acknowledged her statements and then withdrew to take up the Commander's offer. Daniel, who had heard about the technology that the Fleet used to oversee ground battles but had not seen it in action, joined him.

Over the two large tables at the rear of the bridge, two large holographic maps with two separate sections of Chulak highlighted were projected with friendly and enemy ships in the air also noted. On the tables themselves, there were 3D maps of the sections of Chulak displayed on the maps. The maps, which displayed the terrain as well as the opposing forces, rough details of encampments, and gun emplacements, were possible because of the powerful sensors onboard the warships that were continuously transmitting data in real-time as to the course of the battle. By changing the highlighted map section on the holograph, the 3D maps would show different sections of the battlefield. A commander in the air could then see approaching ambushes before they happened and see potential obstacles before the troops met them.

The map to which Bra'tac first went showed the plane around the Stargate and the edges of the hills beyond. Two dozen Furling warriors highlighted in silver were moments from seizing control of the Stargate from a handful of remaining Jaffa, highlighted in gold. Sujanha wanted a few Jaffa to be able to 'escape' to spread the word of the defeat of Apophis' forces but swiftly wanted control of the Stargate so that no additional reinforcements could arrive to support Apophis' beleaguered Jaffa.

The second map showed Chulak, the capital city several miles from the Stargate that Daniel had come to with Jack and Sam while searching for the Abydonians captured by Apophis and his guard. This was where he lost Sha're and Skaara. Though he had no fond memories of the city, Daniel was glad that, if he had to return, it was in the first battle of a war that would rid the Milky-Way of the Goa'uld. Less than 40 minutes had passed since the battle had begun, but the Furlings had already breached the wall surrounding Chulak in several spots, and the maps showed silver warriors pouring in the gaps, opposed by far too few golden Jaffa to stem the advance for long.

Minutes passed, and the Furling advance continued. The Furling troops were sticking to main roads for now as they moved through the city, a tactic that seemed to please Bra'tac. The previous night, Ragnar had been opining on Goa'uld army tactics or rather, in his view, the lack thereof. Discussing Chulak in particular, he had mentioned a number of ways that the Jaffa could slow the Furling advance in the city if only the Jaffa broke from the age-old tactics that served better for intimidation, rather than actual combat: lure the Furlings into smaller, side streets where the Jaffa could concentrate their fire more; bring down buildings with explosives to block main streets and force the Furlings to find alternate routes or even to trap troops in the rubble. Ragnar's discussion had been long and in depth, but it helped Daniel make a little more sense of what he was seeing.

As one group of Furling troops won their way up to Apophis' palace, Bra'tac, who had been watching the maps with a critical but approving eye, walked back across the bridge, to where Sujanha was sitting. All Daniel could catch of their conservation was one reference to "hidden passageways," probably a warning as to what the Furlings might face within the palace.


Within ten hours, all of Chulak had fallen except for a few small outlying regions that were soon captured, and within two more hours after that, news came from the other fleets that all resistance had ceased. Within a day, the Furlings had captured five entire planets. Sujanha was pleased by the relative ease with which the day's battles had been completed, though she was quick to acknowledge that all of the planets had been relatively undefended and that the Furlings would face much stiffer opposition in the future.

Following those reports, Sujanha departed the bridge, leaving the Weapons Officer in charge, and retired to her private quarters for a brief conference with Bra'tac as to the events of the days and plans for upcoming attacks.

The meeting was starting to come to a close when the door chime in Sujanha's office alerted the occupants to a visitor at the door. Sujanha made a small motion, and the door slid open. A young man, a human of perhaps 14 years of age, entered, carrying a tablet in one hand. He was nervous and seemed awed by being in Sujanha's presence.

"You have a message for me?" She asked kindly.

"Yes, commander," the boy replied, coming forward to hand her the tablets, "Casualty reports from all the strike-fleets and preliminary information about the ships and Jaffa captured."

"Thank you," Sujanha replied, "You may go."

Sujanha glanced quickly at the tablet, noting all the information it contained with a glance, and then handed it to Daniel.

Bra'tac, who had watched the messenger depart, suddenly asked, "You have children in your military?" He seemed disapproving.

"Hardly!" replied Sujanha, not offended by his question. She liked the old Jaffa's blunt manner of speech. "I would as soon have Asi near a battle as I would my own brother-son. His parents serve on board my ship. Asi is full of the energy of youth and serves as an errand boy, conveying messages and doing other small tasks. Onboard my ship, the boy is perfectly safe, and this way he can stay with his parents."

Bra'tac nodded his head in acceptance of her words and then asked, "What news from your ships?"

"Of our own men, 7 have perished, and 31 were injured. We have captured 10 Ha'tak, 4 Al'kesh, and 3 Tel'tak. The number of Jaffa captured is in the tens of thousands. We will not know the final number for some time."

"What will become of them?" Bra'tac asked.

"The ships, or the men?"

"Both."

"We will tow all of the ships back to our bases in this galaxy. Our engineers and armorers will repair them, and once we have learned all we can from them, the ships will be loaned to our allies at need. As to the men, any of the Jaffa who are injured will be tended to by our healers, and then all the Jaffa will be taken back to our prison worlds in our own galaxy. They will be well-treated, but they will be confined there until this war ends or they learn the error of their ways."

"And what of Chulak?" Bra'tac asked, "Will you leave the women and children and the aged to fend for themselves? The planting season approaches, and they must eat."

"I will speak with my brother about this issue," Sujanha replied, "We have no wish to leave such to fend for themselves. We do not make war upon them, and we do not stand for collateral damage. We never have, and we never will."

Bra'tac nodded his head in assent and then rose, "I must depart. One battle has been won, but there is much more work left to do."

Sujanha rose, as well, surreptitiously leaning part of her body weight on the table. "I thank you for your assistance today. My brother and I value the support of the Rebel Jaffa highly. If you return to the bridge, one of my crew will beam you down to the Stargate. The troops guarding the gate will let you depart to wherever you wish."

Bra'tac bowed and then departed. A minute passed, and then another. Daniel opened his mouth to speak just as another knock sounded at the door. Sujanha made the same motion as before, and the door reopened, framing Ruarc in the doorway.

"It's late," Sujanha said, as Ruarc entered, "I thought I sent you and your brother off to get some food."

"I was about to," Ruarc replied, coming forward, "but a report came in from Sigurd, and I thought you would want to see it immediately."

Daniel felt an inkling of concern, which vanished as soon as he took a longer look at Ruarc's face. The guard wasn't concerned. More surprised.

"Problem?"

Ruarc shook his head, "Due to the rumors that Bra'tac mentioned about Saqqara, Sigurd had his mothership do an in-depth scan of the entire planet after the battle was completed. And he found this…" Bringing forward a tablet that he had been carrying, Ruarc flicked open a large hologram. The hologram showed the Serekh, a large pyramid built by the Goa'uld who had ruled Saqqara before Apophis, and the ground deep below the structure. A long, slender mass that was very large and very thick was highlighted.

"What is that?" Daniel asked curiously.

"Zoom in on that mass, and then rotate."

Ruarc did, and Daniel was able to make out a few more details. This thing, whatever it was, was several time as long as it was wide or tall. It was vaguely cylindrical shaped, though wider in the middle, and vaguely T-shaped at one end. When Ruarc tapped on the area, a mass of data appeared as a separate hologram off to the side, but Daniel wasn't at a good enough angle to read any of it.

Sujanha seemed to recognize it, if the totally flabbergasted look in her eyes was anything to go by. "It can't be. Did Sigurd double-check the scans?"

"He had the scans run four times on his own vessel," Ruarc replied, "and also had had one of his other ships scan the area. All the data is consistent."

"What is it?" Daniel asked again, his curiosity growing by the second.

"It's by the grace of the Creator that we do not face an enemy more powerful than ourselves," Ruarc continued.

"Tell Sigurd to double the ships guarding Saqqara, and have a message sent to Thor. He will want to know of this discovery.

Sujanha rubbed her paw across her eyes, before motioning Ruarc to close the hologram and waving him to a seat. She was quiet for a long minute. "To answer your question, Daniel, that is an Ancient's battleship, one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, warships created in all the known galaxies."

Daniel did not know a lot about the Ancients besides that they had been part of the Alliance and had built the Stargate network. It was hard for him to imagine a race more powerful than the Asgard or the Furlings.

"Didn't the Ancients leave this galaxy a long time ago? That ship must be very old," Daniel asked.

"That is correct," Sujanha replied, "The Ancients departed from this galaxy many ages past when a plague swept their lands, not the plague that forced our people away, but a different one. The Ancients left for a nearby galaxy but still had dealings in these lands for ages until they departed for good within the last 9000 of our years or so. Bra'tac said that Saqqara had been a Goa'uld world nearly since the beginning of their reign, which probably means that this ship crashed there sometime prior, though probably not long before, since I expect that the location of that pyramid is not built above the ship by chance."

Sujanha rose. Looking to Ruarc, she said, "Have my message sent to Sigurd and then go eat."

Ruarc nodded and hurried off. Then Sujanha looked at Daniel. "Are you hungry?" She asked.

"Quite." It has been a long day, and it was getting rather late for dinner, even to Daniel's at-times odd meal schedule.

"Let's go down to the food hall unless you would prefer someplace quieter to eat."

Daniel was somewhat surprised that Sujanha actually wanted to eat in the mess hall, thinking that after a long day and considering that she seemed to be in some pain, she would prefer quiet herself, but he shrugged and said, "I don't care."

Out in the hall on the way to dinner, Sujanha continued her explanation about the Ancient's battleships, "I noticed your surprise at my statement as to the power of the Ancient's battleships. In terms of hyperdrives and, by now, likely shields, the ships of the Furlings and of the Asgard are superior, but their weaponry as a whole has always been far superior to our own. The ion guns of the Asgard are a match for those of the Ancients, so the Asgard tell us, and we borrowed that technology from the Asgard."

"You have never met the Ancients, have you?"

"No," Sujanha replied, "not even the oldest among us remember them. By the time we settled in Asteria, they had already departed. All we know of them comes from our Archives, the Asgard, and an Ancient Database currently in the hands of the Asgard. What made the Ancient ships far superior to our own were their … drones." She had been speaking in English but switched into Furling when she couldn't find the right word in English to describe that type of weaponry.

"Drones?" Daniel asked, himself switching into Furling.

"Yes. Projectile weapons and energy weapons both. They could pierce almost any shields, burrow into a ship's armor, and then explode. Just a few drones could destroy most any ship."

"And you would like to get your hands on them?"

"Our engineers have long theorized that they would be of great value in our conflicts with the Replicating Ones, giving us a long sought for edge that would bring the Asgard some relief in their war. All our previous attempts to replicate the drones have been unsuccessful."

"It's by the grace of the Creator that we do not face an enemy more powerful than ourselves," Ruarc had said minutes before. His statement posed an interesting question in Daniel's mind. If this Ancient battleship was so powerful, why had the Goa'uld never used it or copied its technology, like they had with the Furling technology found in the hidden caches. He posed the question to the Commander.

"Because without a specific gene in the fabric of life of the host, the Goa'uld would not be able to even power up any of the Ancients' technology, much less comprehend how to use it. As you know, the Asgard control their ships via control stones. We use primarily use control stones but also use mental controls in some sections of our ships, as well as some of our own technology in some sections of the ships. With control stones and mental commands, anyone is capable of using the controls. The Ancients, however, limited the use of their technology only to those with this specific gene."

"Wouldn't that keep you—the Furlings, generally—from using this ship?" Daniel asked, "Unless you have an Ancient lying around somewhere."

Sujanha laughed slightly at his joke but shook her head at his question, "You have met half-bloods before. We have married into other races before. There are Furlings, descended from these unions, who still hold the gene. If the ship is reparable, we can use it."

The conversation then switched to pleasanter topics. Daniel, fishing for a good topic of conversation, asked Sujanha about her nephew. He couldn't even remember if he had known that Anarr was married. Daniel knew that Sujanha had few living relatives, though she had a handful of distant relatives, as well, but she rarely talked about them. Sujanha was happy to talk about her nephew Ansurr, a boy of 35 (12 in human terms), who bore a striking resemblance to his aunt and was a kind and good-natured, though sometimes impulsive, kid. By the time Daniel had then told Sujanha about his last visit to Abydos to see Shifu, Sha're 8-month old son, they reached the Mess Hall, a large room filled to the brim with people from all of the major races common to the Asteria Galaxy. And so the evening passed. The first battle of the war had been won. There was more to do, but for now they could rest and then prepare for the next step.

Chapter Text

April 1999
SGC, Earth

The first clue that something was amiss was when the Stargate began to dial in on an afternoon on which no SG teams or team members were due back and no visits from any of earth’s allies were expected. Within moments, however, the concerning situation was resolved when Sergeant Harriman received an IDC.

“It’s Teal’c, sir,” he said to General Hammond, who had quickly come down from his office when the alarms went off.

“He’s early. He’s not supposed to be back until tomorrow,” replied the General, a look of concern mingled with surprise crossing his face. SG1 was on stand-down that weekend, and Teal’c had taken the chance to return to the Land of Light to visit his wife and son, whom he rarely had chances to visit due to his work with SG1 and the SGC’s fight against the Goa’uld. For him to return early, something must have happened, but what?

General Hammond hurried down to the gateroom, as the Sergeant opened the Iris. Teal’c came striding through the wormhole a moment later and made straight for the General.

“General Hammond, I must speak with you at once,” said Teal’c in his usual straight-forward and too-the-point manner.

“Very well. Let me call for Colonel O’Neill and Captain Carter, and then we can debrief,” General Hammond replied, guessing that the Jaffa’s news should be heard by the other permanent members of SG1, as well.

Though roughly eight months had passed since Dr. Jackson had been forced to flee earth to escape from the NID, finding a replacement for him was still a work in progress. The SGC’s archaeologists and linguists had been rotating through the team for months, but O’Neill, Carter, and Teal’c had never been satisfied with the possible replacements for their missing friend. The longest candidate had lasted for seven weeks, and the General was still trying to find a good solution for this personnel problem. Everyone kept hoping that Daniel would be able to return soon, thereby avoiding the problem altogether, but the political climate had not changed enough to make such a return a possibility.


Off-duty through they were, neither O’Neill or Carter had returned home for the weekend, too caught up with tasks at the SGC, and both reached the conference room within about 6-7 minutes of the summons over the PA system.

“What’s up, T?” O’Neill asked, strolling into the conference room with his hands pushed deep into his BDU pockets, “How was the visit?” Carter was a few steps behind him.

“My visit was pleasant, O’Neill,” the Jaffa replied from his seat at the conference table, “but that is not why I have returned early. During the midday meal today, Drey’auc told me of news sent to her by a messenger, one of Master Bra’tac’s students.”

Teal’c paused long enough for O’Neill to prompt him, “What’s the news? Apophis still enjoying Sokar’s company?”

“Of Apophis himself, there was no news,” said Teal’c, “but several of his most important words, including Chulak, Saqqara, and Kawawn have all fallen.”

“We know from the Tok’ra that, with Apophis gone, there’s been a power vacuum,” Captain Carter added, “Apophis still has loyal Jaffa but not enough to keep control of all of his worlds in his absence.”

“More Goa’uld infighting,” said O’Neill, rubbing his hands together with a gleeful grin, “Let them kill each other off. Less work for us to do.”

Hammond brought the discussion back on track, “Did Bra’tac say which Goa’uld it was who conquered Chulak and Apophis’ other worlds?”

“It was not a Goa’uld who did this,” Teal’c said, finally coming to the reason for his unexpected return, “That was the news, and this is why I have returned.”

“Did anyone escape with news?” Carter asked, her mind running on overdrive.

“Four Jaffa made it through the Stargate on Chulak before it was overrun by the invaders. No Jaffa escaped from the other worlds. One of those who escaped was one of Master Bra’tac’s Jaffa. He came to the Land of Light, hoping that Drey’auc would pass the news on to me. The news he brings is convoluted and … confusing. He spoke of stranger monsters appearing from thin air, who were untouched by staff blasts; of other Jaffa disappearing; of ships falling from the sky.”

“Appearing and disappearing out of thin air,” Captain Carter said slowly, remembering when Thor’s ship had arrived at Cimmeria to save the inhabitants from the Jaffa of Heru’ur, “that sounds like beaming technology.”

“And warriors untouched by weapons’ fire, personal shields such as in a kara kesh,” Teal’c added.

“It couldn’t be the Asgard, could it? Roswell Greys are strange but not exactly monster-worthy to the Jaffa,” questioned Carter.

“It was not the Asgard,” replied Teal’c, “from what the messenger was able to see before he was forced to flee when the gate was overrun, neither the warriors nor the ships that appeared above Chulak matched any descriptions of the Asgard whether of legend or what we ourselves have seen.”

“How old is this news? Has there been any word from Bra’tac or the Tok’ra?” Asked General Hammond.

“A few days old, at most,” said Teal’c, “I have not seen Bra’tac since the incident with Hathor on P4Z-326, and he spoke nothing in this vein then.”

“Our meetings with the Tok’ra are still largely of the ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ variety,” Carter added, “Dad hasn’t been by since the incident with the Reetou in January.”

Through all this O’Neill had sat quietly without commenting. He had propped his chin up on one hand and was starring off into the distance, listening but thinking.

“Thoughts, Colonel? You’re being unusually quiet today,” prompted the General.

“It’s the ‘Forgotten,” said O’Neill quietly, still starring off into the distance.

“Pardon?”

O’Neill suddenly straightened back up, his gaze snapping to the General out of a thousand-yard stare. “Lya mentioned a new mysterious race called the ‘Forgotten,’ when we found her not long after Maybourne drove Daniel away. She gave us some cryptic message about the ‘Forgotten’ and a ‘reckoning with the Goa’uld,’ and now eight months later, Apophis got his behind kicked in absentio out of the blue by a race no one has ever heard of or seen before. Does no one besides me make the connection? It must be them.”

Chapter Text

Vlopa, 6545 A.S. (Late April 1999)
Milky-Way Galaxy

The Furlings were nothing if not efficient. After capturing five of Apophis' most important worlds in less than a day, Sujanha and Anarr spent the next fortnight leading their forces through the rest of Apophis' domain, cutting a swath through the territories of his squabbling underlings and cleaning house. On every world they captured, they let a handful of Jaffa escape, spreading rumors about the nameless dread that was relentlessly bringing down the Goa'uld one by one. So many more ships were captured that Sujanha was forced to rescind her previous order about saving captured vessels because the engineers had as many ships as they could handle and repair for the moment. Thousands more Jaffa were captured as world after world fell to the relentless wave that was the Furling advance. Any Rebel Jaffa that Bra'tac identified among the ranks of the prisoners were immediately released, while the remaining Jaffa and any captured Goa'uld were returned to Asteria to be imprisoned. Assisted by Tok'ra information, the Furlings healers were still researching the best way to free hosts with the least chance of death and failure. Daniel was troubled by the delay, though he knew it was unavoidable, and just wanted to the chance to hold his wife again after so long and have her free of her demon.

Concurrent with the Furling advance, Sujanha's ships kept a close watch upon Saqqara and their new-found prize. Within two days of its discovery, Furling engineers had determined that it was safe to beam personnel onto the buried ship. The ship's power supply had long been depleted, but that was a problem the Furlings easily dealt with. Once the power was restored and the engineers and their guards could move about without difficulty, a detailed examination of the ship revealed that it was relatively undamaged even after crashing into the planet's surface and remaining unrepaired for ages. Even though a number of control crystals were missing, hindering examinations of the ship's logs and repairs of critical systems, the engineers joined by several of the most skilled of the Dovahkiin and by several Asgard engineers, were hopeful to have the ship, whose hull was still sound, totally repaired and ready for flight within six months. The problem then would be extracting the Ancient battleship, named Azrea (a Furling word or name which referenced Daniel knew not what), from the ground without destroying the Goa'uld pyramid built on top of it.

In the temporary lull after the sweep through Apophis' territory, Sujanha with Daniel accompanying her visited the ship. The Ancient warship was more alien in a way than Furling ships with its strange control panels, strange layout, strange walls, and…well…strange everything. Sujanha, Daniel was interested to find out, had the specific gene in her DNA necessary for operating Ancient technology. She had noted in passing that her family was one of the very oldest among the Furlings and could trace its lineage back before the Furlings ever met the Asgard or the Ancients. Sujanha was quite sure, she had continued, that she was probably a very small part Asgard and Nox, as well, since her family had intermarried, at one time or another, with all of the other members of the Alliance.

Daniel learned a lot more about the Ancients on that trip. The Ancients had originally left the Milky-Way millions of years before after a plague (a different plague than the one that had forced the Furlings to flee the Milky-Way). With the aid of a Furling holographic star-map (the inter-galactic version of planetarium + phonebook + MapQuest), Daniel also learned that the Ancients had then gone to the Pegasus Galaxy. After being defeated some 8,800 Furlings year ago by an enemy of theirs that dwelt there, the Ancients fled Pegasus back to the Milky-Way before eventually ascending to a higher plane of existence. For a number of reasons, Sujanha had little positive to say about the Ancient's choice to ascend. With the withdrawal of the Nox, the ascension of the Ancients had dumped all the responsibilities of the entire Alliance first just on the shoulders of the Asgard and then, with the return of the Furlings, on the shoulders of the Furlings and Asgard alone, who were still fighting galactic-wide wars at the same time. Even taciturn Ragnar had inserted his two cents, caustically comparing ascension to a living death and describing ascension as a violation of the natural order. Despite this, Daniel was very intrigued by ascension and decided to look it up in the Library the next time he returned to Uslisgas and had some spare time.


On the afternoon of the 19th day after the capture of Chulak, Sujanha's flagship, the Valhalla, was in orbit around Ushuotis, the Furling's base inside Lord Yu's territory. The ship was taking the chance to restock on supplies, and Sujanha was taking the opportunity to receive briefs from their off-world allies and send reports back to Asteria to the High King and the High Council.

Sujanha and Daniel were in her private office. The Commander was reading through several new reports from Bra'tac and the Rebel Jaffa on the impact of their attack on Apophis' domains and on the responses of the other System Lords. Daniel had just returned from eating a late midday meal after picking up the reports from the Rebel Jaffa. He often volunteered to go with the guard to pick up the reports, since if Bra'tac was there, Daniel could sometimes get news about all of his friends back at the SGC.

A chime sounded, signaling that a messenger was requesting entrance. The chimes sounded different depending on who was requesting entrance: one of her staff, one of the bridge crew, a messenger, etc. When the door opened, it was Asi, the young errand boy, who was standing in the hallway. Sujanha motioned him in.

"You have a message for me?" She asked.

"Yes, commander," Asi said, with a little bob that was a half a bow, half Daniel knew not what, "A message from the base. One of the Tok'ra just arrived through the Stargate and is requesting to see you."

"Have him sent up at once." Sujanha replied, and Asi ran out, moving quickly with all the energy of youth.

"I wonder who it will be," Daniel mused when Asi had left and the door had slid shut behind him. Ever since the Furlings had allied themselves with the Tok'ra, the Tok'ra had periodically sent an operative with the latest intelligence and news about the Goa'uld. Sujanha always made sure any operative had a real bed for the night (if necessary) and a decent meal (the food at the Tok'ra base was apparently not very good from what one operative had said). However, there had been a revolving door on which operative was sent. Daniel didn't think that even one had come twice. Initially, meeting with the Tok'ra had been rather uncomfortable, after his previous interactions with the Goa'uld, but he had gotten much more used to them as the months passed, and Daniel had had pleasant conversations with several over meals and liked most, though not all, of the operatives that he had met. Sujanha herself had similar thoughts about the operatives themselves but disliked the revolving door.

Within a few minutes, the chime sounded, this time a different chime that signaled one of Sujanha's aids was requesting entrance. When the door opened, Jaax appeared, his raspy breathing loud in the quiet room, leading a Tok'ra dressed in the usual tan uniform. He was an older man, tall, with short cropped grey hair, dark eyes, and a commanding presence.

"Commander," Jaax said, "May I present to you Selmak of the Tok'ra, and his host Jacob Carter." Jacob Carter, Daniel thought, that's an American name. If the Furlings had been a betting people, Daniel would have bet his next pay check that Jacob Carter was from earth, though Daniel never remembered seeing him around the SGC.

"Thank you, Jaax," Sujanha replied, with a nod of thanks to her aid, "If you would bring us some refreshments, then you may return to your duties."

"Of course," Jaax bowed and withdrew.

"Please sit," Sujanha said to Jacob-Selmak, gesturing to the other seat in front of her desk. Since the man hadn't spoken, it wasn't clear who was in control: the host or the symbiote.

"Thank you, Commander," the Tok'ra spoke with the dual-flanged voice common to the Goa'uld and the Tok'ra, as he took his seat, "I bring greetings to you from the Tok'ra High Council. They send congratulations on your recent successes."

"By the grace of the Creator, our first strikes have gone well, and few have been lost, but Apophis has fallen, and few strong ones remained to oppose us. Future battles might not be so easy," replied Sujanha modestly and cautiously, "Were any of your operatives lost?"

"No," Selmak replied, "And for that we thank you, we had only a few operatives embedded in what remained of Apophis' ranks, and your warning gave us time to pull them out."

At that moment, Jaax returned with a tray of drinks: three mugs of the spiced tea that Daniel and Sujanha drank religiously and a tall mug of cool water. When the drinks had been passed around and Jaax had retired, Sujanha asked, "Tell me: why have you come this day? What news do you bring?"

"Rumors of your attacks have spread throughout the galaxy," said Selmak, "and the System Lords are greatly troubled. Some have even made accusations against each other, but so far the flames of accusation have not progressed to open war."

Sujanha gave a laugh that was almost a scoff, "My people look nothing like any of the races in this galaxy that have survived to this day. To accuse each other of this attack is nonsensical and folly."

"They're Goa'uld: it doesn't have to make sense," was the dry retort of the host.

"Very true," replied the Commander with a smirk that was all teeth, "Please continue."

"Some of our operatives have also heard whispers that, if these attacks continue, some of the System Lords might consider a temporary truce to form an alliance against you," Selmak was back in control. He pulled a data crystal from a hidden pouch and handing it to Sujanha, "This is the latest data that we have from our operatives."

Sujanha took the crystal and then handed it to Daniel who took it over to a crystal reader that sat on a table on the other side of the room. As soon as the reader engaged, holograms depicting the info appeared over her desk. She swiped through the screens quickly.

"This will be of great use, I thank you," Sujanha always spoke more formally around the Tok'ra, then she did around Bra'tac or the other Rebel Jaffa. Daniel had always wondered why; maybe it had to do with the revolving door of messengers, since he knew she liked the Tok'ra.

Sujanha then pulled out a differently colored and shaped crystal from a desk drawer and passed it to Selmak. "With our ongoing attacks against the System Lords, your operatives might come under greater risk of exposure. Thus, this crystal holds the addresses to twelve worlds not within the Goa'uld Stargate network. They have all been confirmed to be uninhabited within the last week. As I made clear to the operative who came last, any Tok'ra are welcome to flee to one of our bases if they are exposed and cannot escape to your homeworld. Our bases are heavily guarded, and they would be assured of aid and medical care there without the risk of capture."

"We thank you," replied Selmak formally, taking the crystal and returning it to a hidden pouch within his uniform. He bowed his head, and then his host spoke, "The High Council is also interested in knowing which System Lord is your next target. We need time to warn our operatives."

Sujanha leaned back, shifting in her chair, "My brother and I along with our lieutenants have been in conference in recent days, discussing that very issue. We have not yet come to a final decision, though multiple possibilities have been raised."

"Who, if I might ask?" Jacob asked.

"Heru'ur, the Rebel Jaffa tell me that he has been growing in power since Apophis' disappearance. Cronus, perhaps. Nirrti is also a possibility, or perhaps Yu."

Jacob was quiet for a long moment, long enough that Sujanha spoke again, "As the Tau'ri say, we are willing to entertain suggestions if there is one System Lord that you feel is more of a threat."

"Sokar."

Sujanha looked over to Daniel, inviting his usual mythological explanations for each of the Goa'uld.

"We never encountered Sokar while I was SG1, but in Egyptian mythology, Sokar, also known as Seker, Sokare, Seger, Socharis, etc., was a god of death who presided over a necropolis, a city of the dead, near Memphis in lower Egypt. He was one of the most feared gods in the Egyptian pantheon and represented the eternal death of the soul: no afterlife, just oblivion," Daniel replied, pulling a notebook and pen out of a pocket in his pants so that he could make some notes.

Jacob continued, "Sokar is a nasty piece of work, one of the most feared and one of the most evil among all the Goa'uld since the First Goa'uld Dynasty. He took on the persona of the Devil from earth. He's one of the oldest of the Goa'uld and once ruled the System Lords before being defeated by Apophis and Ra and believed destroyed, but the rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated. Lately, he's been at war with Heru'ur, but our intelligence indicates that he has been building his forces up, probably for an attack against the System Lords. Unfortunately, the last two operatives the Tok'ra sent in disappeared before they could send back intel to confirm."

"Before we continue," Sujanha asked, "please explain what this 'devil' is, since you thought it a significant enough detail to mention?"

"Uh," Daniel gulped. He was usually it to explain strange English terms and references to the Furling commander, but how to explain Satan to an alien, "The devil, also known as Satan, is believed in certain religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God, the equivalent to the figure you call the 'Creator,' and humankind."[1]

"Thank you," Sujanha replied, before turning her attention back to Jacob, "You said your operatives disappeared. You believe they were captured by Sokar?"

"We do. They would have been brutally tortured for information," Jacob's face twisted with horror as he spoke, "Sokar is known for being one of the most cruel and sadistic of the System Lords, and our operatives would have been sent to Netu, to Hell, after he was finished with them. Sokar prefers to torture his prisoners for as long as possible rather than just kill them."

Sujanha glanced back at Daniel, who explained, "Hell is a place of suffering and eternal damnation, the opposite in your belief's to the Creator's Halls."

"Sokar uses Netu, which he terraformed until it barely can support life, as a penal colony for his prisoners. We believe that the prisoners live in a network of tunnels or caves beneath the surface since the surface is uninhabitable. Our hope is that our two missing operatives might be on Netu."

"One major goal of a campaign against Sok'ar, then, would be to free those prisoners. What is Sokar's homeworld?" Sujanha asked.

"Delmak. Netu is one of its moons," Jacob replied.

"Can you give me the Stargate address for Delmak and any other of Sokar's important worlds?"

Jacob nodded. Sujanha opened a hologram that Daniel recognized as one of the entry pages into the 2D version of the Furling star map. She pushed the hologram across to Jacob, who started entering a long list of addresses into blank boxes. When he had finished, that holographic window vanished, and a star map appeared over Sujanha's desk. The worlds newly identified as belonging to Sokar were highlighted in red, and a rough approximation of his domain was transparently shaded in orange.

"Sokar's gaining power. He might not be the most powerful System Lord, but he is definitely one of the most dangerous. If he is expanding his fleet as we suspect, he will prove a major threat, and the continuing atrocities that he commits must be stopped," said Jacob.

Sujanha was quite for several minutes, starring at the map. Finally, she spoke again, "You said before that Netu's atmosphere can barely support life, can you explain further?" To Daniel, she seemed fairly convinced to make Sokar's domain the Furling's next target. If she was convinced, it was unlikely that Anarr would disagree.

Jacob bowed his head, and Selmak retook control to explain, "Netu was once an industrialized world, but when Delmak was captured by Sokar, it was bombarded from orbit by his ships, allowing molten lava and toxic fumes to pervade the surface. The prisoners condemned to Netu are believed to live in tunnels below the surface."

"Such an atmosphere will not hinder us; we have men who can survive in such atmospheres or worse with no difficulty," Sujanha replied. Daniel wondered to what race Sujanha was referring. He was quite sure it wasn't the Furlings themselves since he had seen them struggle in bad air, though not to the same degree as humans.

Signaling that the interview was at an end, Sujanha rose to her feet, a motion that was almost smooth, except for a small catch when she put too much weight on her right leg too suddenly. It was her right side, Daniel had noticed over time, that gave her the most trouble: tremors in her arm and a leg that gave out on her sometimes when she was getting up or sitting down. Except for her limp, walking she was fine with, though not for extremely long distances.

Selmak rose, "Thank you for your time, Commander. I will pass your news to the High Council. Please keep us informed as to your decision of your next offensive."

"Of course," Sujanha replied with a regal nod, "I will speak with my brother soon. Jaax will show you out."

Selmak departed, and Sujanha's office door closed with a low woosh. Daniel decided that he liked Jacob-Selmak, perhaps the most of all the Tok'ra operatives that he had met, and hoped to have a chance to chat with him soon. Sujanha sat down with a sigh.

"If you would take notes, Daniel," she said. Sujanha usually called him 'Dr. Jackson' in public as a form of respect but had begun to address him more informally as time progressed, "I have several messages I need to send."

"Sure," replied Daniel, pulling his pencil from behind his ear where he had stuck it a few minutes before.

"I need to speak with my brother at his earliest convenience, but I have no idea where he is at the moment, save that he has not returned to Asteria. I also need a message sent to the Iprysh, Mekoxe knows whom I want the message sent to, and to Zinjotnax. We will presently need a company from each for the assault on Netu."

"Do you want to wait until you have spoken with Commander Anarr?" Daniel asked cautiously. Granted he was quite sure of what Anarr's answer would be, but … better to be safe than sorry.

Sujanha glanced up from her perusal of the data Selmak had brought—she was quite good at multitasking, "No, it's fine. I know what my brother will say. Sokar is a much better candidate for our next offensive than all the other System Lords we had discussed. If he is truly as evil as the Tok'ra say, and I have no reason to doubt Selmak's words, and is gaining power, he needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. If I or one of the other commanders were to commit half the atrocities Selmak mentioned," she broke off with a grimace and a shake of her head, "we would be executed for high crimes in peacetime or war crimes in war." Daniel filed the reference to 'war crimes' away for future thought.

He rose, "I'll take these messages up to Mekoxe. Do you want me to wait for responses?"

"No," Sujanha replied with a shake of her head, "He'll send the replies down when they come. Go eat—it's time for the midday meal anyway—and then come back."

"I ate after returning from meeting Bra'tac," Daniel replied, "but I can bring you some food."

"I'm not hungry. Take the messages and then just come back."

Daniel nodded and turned for the door. "Why the Iprysh and the Dovahkiin?" He asked.

"I'll explain when you get back."

Jaax has not returned by the time Daniel gets back from the bridge fifteen minutes later, which probably meant Selmak had taken him up on the offer of lunch or he had gotten sidetracked.

"I gave Mexoke the messages," Daniel said, retaking his seat, "He'll send down the replies as soon as they come."

"I thank you," replied Sujanha, "And as to your earlier question, Anarr will want soldiers from the Iprysh and the Dovahkiin for the attack on Netu because of the atmosphere and the terrain. We—the Furlings as a race—are not primarily close-quarters fighters. We can fight hand-to-hand, but our staff weapons make us best suited for long-range combat, and our staffs are too long to be properly utilized in tunnels. We are also susceptible to toxic atmospheres, though not too the same degree as humans. Due to the extremely inhospitable conditions of their homeworlds, both the Iprysh and the Dovahkiin live underground and are especially skilled at close quarter combats. The armor of the Iprysh is able to filter out toxic atmospheres, and the Dovahkiin lungs naturally filter out the toxic gasses and harmful particles found on fire worlds."


[1] https://stargate.fandom.com/wiki/Devil

Chapter Text

Sujanha was right as she usually was. Anarr's aids had hunted him down quickly, and he had appeared onboard the Valhalla around dinner time of the same day that Jacob-Selmak had visited. Hearing the explanation about Sokar, his growing power, and the countless atrocities he was committing, Anarr had been incensed and had immediately agreed with his sister to make Sokar the next target of the Furling advance.

It took about two weeks to do reconnaissance; construct battle plans; collect the troops; and transmit the news to the Tok'ra and the Rebel Jaffa to give them time to get their people clear. On the morning of the fifteenth day, a couple hours before the fleets were to set sail for their respective targets, Daniel, down in the commissary eating breakfast, found himself with an unexpected summons back to Sujanha's office where he had been less than half-an-hour before.

Daniel hurriedly finished his breakfast—the messenger hadn't said to come right that moment—and trotted back upstairs. Jaax had stepped out, but Sujanha was still in her office with Ragnar, and one of the Dovahkiin had joined her. He wore hardy garments of leather and thick cloth with a leather belt around his waist. A large hammer and another tool that Daniel didn't recognize hung from his belt.

From the stiffness of her posture and the look in her eyes, Sujanha did not seem to be pleased with whatever the Dovahkiin had said to her, but she greeted Daniel calmly as he entered without any heat in her voice.

"You called for me?" Daniel asked, hovering just insider the doorway.

"Knight Commander Qethkroruth," she said, "has raised the issue of how we are to communicate with both the guards and the prisoners on Netu during our assault. The Dovahkiin are only able to speak their own language, and few of the Iprysh can speak English or Goa'uld. And it is not as if we can hope that those on Netu will all speak English."

"It would be convenient," Daniel added wryly.

"Since you speak some Goa'uld and are quite skilled at communicating with new races—we will be too frightening, I expect—Qethkroruth has suggested that you accompany the soldiers as a translator." Sujanha finished.

Daniel thought for a moment. What Qethkroruth said—or rather what Sujanha had said he had said—seemed reasonable, and Daniel wondered what about his suggestion had troubled the Supreme Commander. "I've been in skirmishes with SG1 before, but never outright battle," he cautioned, "I would probably be a liability." Going to Netu would be different even than the 'battle' in Apophis' mothership over earth.

"No one expects you to be on the front lines," Sujanha said, shooting a glance across at Qethkroruth, "You would stay with the healers and be called forward at need."

Daniel hesitated. He was an archaeologist and a linguist by training, but his skillset had been expanding in the months he had spent with the Furlings. Since Sujanha was willing to even suggest the idea, she thought he could do it. "I'm willing," he replied after a moment, "if you can spare me."

The first strike against Sokar was a three-pronged attack. Supreme Commander Anarr with his soldiers and one fleet of ships was going to capture Delmak and Netu. Sujanha with her ships and another army was going to attack Memphis, one of Sokar's strongholds, known for being the home of terrifying monsters and a place of terrible experiments. Algar with the third fleet and army was going to capture a world known only as Necropolis, a fearful world that served as a graveyard for dead Goa'uld and for those facing eternal imprisonment. Under a law left over from the Furling-Sicarii War, Supreme Commanders and High Commanders (or Generals) could not be part of the same attack, except under certain extreme (and rare) circumstances, lest risking a battle that could cripple the entire Furling Military by the death of much (if not all) of the command structure. By joining the group capturing Netu, Daniel would be absent from the Valhalla for as long as the battle took, which could be days.

"I can," said Sujanha, before turning to Ruarc, "You'll go with Daniel. Make sure you both come back in one piece."

"Of course," Ruarc said with a bow, "Good hunting, Commander, until we meet again." He moved towards the door, motioning Daniel to follow. Qethkroruth remained. Daniel bowed and repeated the same words.

"Be careful," replied Sujanha with a nod, concern clear in her eyes.

Ruarc led Daniel out from Sujanha's office on a path Daniel did not recognize.

"The lady's isn't very happy with Qethkroruth's suggestion, is she?" Daniel asked Ruarc quietly.

"On a personal level, not in the slightest, though she cannot deny that what he says is sensible," Ruarc replied, "We all lost much during the Great War. At least five of her aids died, and about half-of her family. She has a tendency to be somewhat overprotective at times ever since."


Ruarc led Daniel to the Valhalla's armory where he took several weapons for himself—only one of which Daniel recognized because it bore a slight resemblance to a Zat—as well as personal shields and breathing masks, much like Jaax's, for them both. They had both barely finished gathering their equipment when they were beamed across to one of the transport ships heading for Netu.

Furling Transport Ships, unlike the motherships and their larger or smaller variants, were made primarily for transport of people or supplies and for transport only. They were not made for convenience and had few of the amenities of the larger ships, except for the permanent crew. Most of a transport ship was taken up by a large, heavily shield cargo hold that could not be opened to the atmosphere.

Moments after Daniel and Ruarc beamed in there was a slight jerk as the ship entered hyperspace. The soldiers and healers were already gathered and were starting to form up into battle formations. Daniel and Ruarc with the healers and a few soldiers were in the center of the formation with concentric rings of Dovahkiin and Iprysh soldiers around them.

"The journey to Netu will be short," said Ruarc, helping Daniel to put the breathing mask on, "We will need to be prepared to beam down as soon as we arrive."

The breathing mask was comfortable but odd, making every breath hissy and echoy.

"Isn't the atmosphere of Netu too thick for ships to get through? How are the sensors going to work?"

Ruarc gave Daniel a dry look as he put his own breathing mask on, "The atmosphere is too thick for Goa'uld ships, but our ships shouldn't have a problem. There are no ground defenses on Netu because of the conditions so the transport ships will just be sent down. They have heavy shields and weapons."

"Shouldn't be a problem?" Daniel asked with a slight gulp. This day was just getting better and better. Despite Sujanha's faith in him, he was starting to fear like he might be in over his head, "Is one ship going to be a Guinea pig, or all the ships going to go for it while we cross our fingers?"

Ruarc cocked his head, "What is a Guinea pig?" He asked, "and how does it have anything to with our ships?"

Having to explain the concept of a Guinea pig to Ruarc was a sufficient distraction from his nerves that the trip to Netu passed quickly. Another slight shudder heralded the ship jumping out of hyperspace. Around them, the soldiers and healers started activating personal shields and taking final positions.

"In the event the attack goes bad," Ruarc said, "there are only two rules you need to remember. First, don't panic. It's the worst thing you can do. Your personal shield can hold out for quite some time under heavy staff-weapon fire or under a rock fall. You will have time to figure out a plan. Second, don't get separated from the group. Whatever happens you have to keep up. We are safest together."

Daniel nodded, a kernel of nervousness curdling in his belly. Here he was, an archaeologist and a linguist by training, about to be in a battle. Even the battle on Apophis' battleship above earth where he had nearly died was different than this attack was going to be. He could put his skills to good use, but Daniel still felt out of place.

The entrance into the atmosphere of Netu was bumpier and jerkier than Daniel had ever felt on a Furling warship but not so bad that he struggled to keep on his feet. Ruarc explained that the navigator would have had to dial back the inertial dampeners to make it through the nearly impenetrable atmosphere; why exactly that was necessary, he didn't say. Sam would know, Daniel thought.

Not long after an announcement came over the Furling version of an intercom/loud-speaker, "Prepare for beam out."

"Cloaks do not have a hope of hiding a ship punching a hole through this type of atmosphere. In the slight chance that there are lookouts on Netu, we have to move quickly or risk losing the element of surprise.


Daniel immediately recognized why Netu was compared to Hell as soon as his group beamed down to the surface. The air was choked with haze and fumes, and Daniel knew he would be struggling for breath without his mask. The landscape was dark and foreboding with towering crags and jagged cracks in the surface of the rock. Here and there fiery lava runs crept across the planet's surface. Hell, indeed.

The Dovahkiin soldiers on the outer ring quickly spread out, securing the immediate area and looking for nearby entrance ways into the caverns below. They found three passageways within minutes, and the group split evenly into three groups, one taking each passageway.

The tunnels were roughly hewn and dimly lit with a reddish glow. The Dovahkiin, seemingly used to such conditions, moved easily in the lead, walking without hesitation, checking every side-passage that they went past. Daniel struggled to see with the disadvantage of his glasses and stumbled several times, Ruarc steadying him each time and giving him an encouraging look. Daniel could feel his heart pounding with every step. The tortured moans and screams of the prisoners echoing in the tunnels did nothing to help him stay calm. Trial by fire, literally, Daniel thought ironically. He forced himself to take a deep breath, Stay calm, you idiot. You're not under fire. Don't panic. He had been in pickles before with SG1 and in his time in the Middle East as an archaeologist; looters, rebels, and troublemakers were often problems at ancient ruins.

The quiet and easy passage lasted only minutes. Two burly men, not apparently Jaffa, but probably guards nonetheless, appeared out of a side tunnel right ahead of the advancing troops. One let out a shout of surprise and turned to make down the main tunnel, while the other advanced toward the Iprysh and Dovahkiin in the front line. Some distance back, Daniel only got a few quick glimpses as the tunnel descended into chaos. One Iprysh strode forward, lifting one arm and shot at the fleeing man with an arm-mounted energy weapon. His first and second shots, fired in very quick succession, missed, hitting the tunnel wall, but his third shot clipped the man's leg, and he fell with a cry. At the same time, the other guard, who bore a wooden staff, advanced against the front line, his staff a blur of movement. One blow at least must have connected since Daniel heard one of the Dovahkiin cry out, but seconds later, the guard himself went down with a howl of agony that made Daniel's blood curdle.

Rekdurlaan, the Dovahkiin leader of the combined Dovahkiin and Iprysh strike-force, began to bark out orders. Ruarc, who had immediately stepped forward to physically shield Daniel and the other healers, relaxed for the moment. "Most anywhere else, cries like those would instantly reveal our presence, but due to the … surroundings ... Rekdurlaan hopes that our cover … has not been blown," Ruarc added in a low voice.

The two enemy soldiers were moved into a dead-end passage and restrained. A healer quickly examined them to make sure that their injuries were not life-threatening, and then leaving two guards with the prisoners, the strike-force moved on.

The cries of the prisoners as well as the heat grew greater as they descended deeper through the tunnels; Daniel, who was sure that the stench of filth, suffering, and death would be overpowering if not for his breathing mask, was suddenly reminded of reading Dante's Inferno in high school. More guards were encountered the farther they went. The strike-force's luck held until the fourth encounter where one guard managed to escape. Rekdurlaan immediately increased their pace. They had no way to know if the other strike-forces had been discovered, but they needed to hurry to cover as much grown before resistance increased.

Not long after, another figure came barreling up a side tunnel that led straight into the midst of the advancing strike-force. Chaos momentarily ensued until they realized who the newcomer was. His tattered garments, thin and sickly face, and open wounds instantly identified him as a prisoner of Netu; fear can lend wings to even the weak and injured. The prisoner instantly halted, seeing the frightening visages of the Dovahkiin and the unworldly armor of the Iprysh, and froze like a statue, immobilized by fear if the petrified look on his face was anything to go by.

He began to babble at a quick pace, and Daniel, far back that he only managed to catch one word in three, still recognized the language as similar to Egyptian and Abydonian. "I need to get up there," he said to Ruarc urgently, "I can understand him."

Ruarc pushed his way up through the lines, Daniel moving in his wake. Rekdurlaan moved to join them. "Can you understand him?" The Commander asked through Ruarc.

"Enough," replied Daniel. Up close, the prisoner's babbling emerged as the galactic version of "Please don't kill me."

Using a butchered mix of Abydonian and Goa'uld, Daniel was able to calm the prisoner down, reassuring that him that he was safe, was not going to be killed, and was soon to be freed from his imprisonment. The prisoner, wary but after a few moments willing to be helpful, revealed the reason for the increasing shouting come from a little ways in front of the strike-force. One of the other strike-forces had reached one of the main caves—living/gathering areas, for lack of a better word—and had engaged with Na'onak, the Lord of Netu's First Prime, and a number of the other guards. Only the First Prime had a staff weapon, his guards armed only with wooden staves, but he had the advantage of a good, sheltered position and shown a willingness to shoot anyone—even the prisoners and his own guards—to keep the Furling troops, who wanted to minimize collateral damage at all costs, at bay.

Rekdurlaan sent the prisoner up the tunnel to where he had left the last pair of guards with the captured guards, and Daniel and the others continued down the tunnel. The main cave not far away was full of chaos as the troops reached one of its entrances. Weapons blasts filled the air, creating a haze where they had struck the walls, people, and other objects. Daniel could hear shouting in several languages, including Goa'uld, and the screams and moans of injured men. The strike-force Daniel was with immediately split up, some entering into the battle and others going off side-tunnels to secure the area to keep the Furling troops from being outflanked or attacked from the rear. The healers, fearless in their duty even when weapons blasts struck their personal shields, entered into the battleground, bending low to drag the injured out of the battle. Daniel, in what he considered to be one of the bravest or dumbest actions of his life, helped, spending some of the most terrifying moments of his life, assisting the healers in their duties. Some of those they rescued were Sokar's guards, while others were Dovahkiin soldiers stuck down by weapons fire or injured by blunt force trauma—for some reason, they did not use personal shields—and even one of the Iprysh, whose shield had for some reason failed and who appeared to have been stunned by a fall.

Towards the end of that battle—one of probably many going on in the tunnels beneath Netu's jagged surface— Aaraav, one of two female Dovahkiin healers in Daniel's group, appeared out of nowhere out of a side tunnel, running towards them without calling out a warning. Only the quick reflexes of Reythvudu'ul, one of the brawniest of the Dovahkiin soldiers, kept from her receiving a crippling hammer blow to the legs.

Aaraav made straight for Ruarc, rattling off a string of words in her own language. Ruarc, who obviously understood at least some of what she was saying blanched, his eyes growing horrified before going carefully blank. "The two missing Tok'ra operatives have both been found in a side chamber along with a number of other prisoners, the suffering left to die before they are raised again."

Daniel himself blanched but followed Ruarc and Aaraav back up the tunnel, leaving the noise of battle to fade behind them. He just knew what he was about to see was not going to be pretty, and the nerves that had been twisting his gut all day started a tap-dancing routine. After Sujanha and Anarr had settled on Sokar as the Furlings' next target, Jacob and Selmak had brought them a crystal containing images of the two missing Tok'ra operatives in case they were still alive on Netu. Daniel had stared at their photos until he knew them almost by heart: Ar'sif and his host Arvuk and Jarruc and her host Teti, a young woman who looked so much like an Abydonian that she could have been one of the women lost to Apophis' raid.

The healers had finished checking over most of the occupants by the time Daniel, Ruarc, and Aaraav returned. Most of the sixteen occupants whom Daniel could see were dead, some probably for some time from the looks. He could feel his stomach do a flip. Three were still alive. Arvuk, lying by Teti, was dead, but Teti was hanging on for the moment, though from the shake of the healer's head, she had little time left.

Teti was half-conscious when Daniel knelt by her side but not totally lucid. Her hand, which Daniel took, was blazing hot, and mumbled words in her own tongue spilled half-formed from her lips. Daniel was thankful that so many worlds conquered by the Goa'uld spoke some form of ancient Egyptian or a derivative.

"Am I dreaming? Are you really there?" Teti asked finally, dragging her eyes open when she felt the touch of a friendly hand. Who knew what phantoms formed by the fever had come to her when her symbiote was too weak to heal her any longer.

"This is real," Daniel replied, struggling to keep his voice level. He had never been at a death bed before.

"I'm alone," Teti whispered, forcing words across her cracked lips.

Considering that Teti had not been blinded and there was enough light in the dim room for her to see him, Daniel guessed that she meant her symbiote was dead. "Just for a little while," he replied, glancing across at Ruarc had knelt on Teti's other side, "Then you'll be with her again."

Teti's eyes fluttered shut for a moment before she could summon the strength to open them again, "Who are you? How?"

"Selmak sent us. We are the Furlings," said Ruarc through Daniel, "The reign of the System Lords is fast ending, and you will be avenged. Rest now."

Teti gave a half-smile, saying, her words growing fainter by the moment, "I would … have … liked to see … the sun one…" Her eyes fell shut, and her chest stilled.

Ruarc touched her head gently in a final benediction, "Find peace, brave one. May the winds of night carry you safely home, and may the Creator have mercy on you at the judgment seat."

Chapter Text

The rest of Daniel’s time on Netu—the rest of that day and most of the next—passed like a blur. The literal maze of tunnels beneath Netu’s surface took much longer to secure than regular cities of the same size. Na’onak, the mysterious masked First Prime of Bynarr, was killed in the shoot-out in the cave and was later revealed to be Apophis, the late, great System Lord. Shocked to hear of the First Prime’s real identity, Daniel was pleased both to hear of Apophis’ death and to know that his host’s suffering was finally at an end. Bynarr, the ‘Lord’ of Netu who served only at Sokar’s pleasure, was captured trying to escape to Delmak via a hidden set of rings in his quarters. Bynarr was a disgusting man whose presence made Daniel’s skin crawl even after only a few moments in his general vicinity.

On the evening of the third day, Daniel returned to the Valhalla. The attacks on Necropolis and Memphis had been successful if somewhat lengthy. After eating a few bites of supper, an exhausted Daniel, subdued by his experiences on Netu, joined Sujanha in her office.

“I am glad to see you return,” said Sujanha in greeting as he entered, sweeping golden eyes across him, checking for any injuries.

“It’s good to be back,” Daniel replied, sinking into his usual chair with a tired groan.

“Ruarc tells me you performed well under fire and were of great service as a translator.”

“I only wish I could have done more,” said Daniel softly, thinking of Teti.

“You did all that was in your power to do. The dead are in the Creator’s care now. We will see that all are accorded the honor of a proper burial.”

There was silence for several minutes, and then Daniel asked, “Does it get any easier?”

Sujanha cocked her head, a bird-like gesture that seemed more appropriate on Algar than her, “Does what get any easier? Being in battle? Being at a death-bed? Or some other matter?”

“The first two.”

“In some ways, yes, and in others, no,” Sujanha replied slowly and thoughtfully, carefully considering her words, “Over time, a solider become more accustomed to battle. He learns through painful experience how not to panic under fire; how not to let his feelings control him when a comrade falls; how to keep fighting when he is cold and tired and hungry. Yet, he still should not be unaffected by either battle or death. If he feels nothing when his enemy falls or his comrade dies, he has been in battle too long and must find a new occupation immediately. The Jaffa of Sokar who just perished, they were our enemy, yes, but they are also the misguided servants of a corrupt master, many of whom know no other path besides service and slavery save, perhaps, for death. They are not animals that we should rejoice at their deaths. They are living beings as we are with spirits like ours. The Jaffa have families and ambitions and hopes just as we do. Many among them will die as the Goa’uld fall and this galaxy is freed, but we should pity them, not rejoice at their demise.”

“How do you all do it?” Daniel asked, “Keep fighting after thousands of years of war, after so many of your own people have already died. How do you do it? Why do you keep fighting?”

“How do we do it?” Replied Sujanha, with a sad and weary shake of her head, “With difficulty, many days, but we go on because we must. What else could we do? Throw up our hands, as you say, and feel sorry for ourselves? To give into despair, to hopelessness, or even apathy, and stop fighting would render as naught the sacrifices of all who came before us, would dishonor the memories of the countless soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We fight because it is our duty, because our work in this world is not yet done.”

Sujanha paused and took a drink of tea and then slowly continued, “One of our wise men once said, ‘It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succor of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.’[1] By our carelessness in setting up our stashes in the Milky-Way or our negligence in failing to return for our technology or some other factor, the Goa’uld rose to power primarily on the basis of our technology. They have enslaved millions, killed more, and committed atrocities that cry out to the heavens for vengeance. It is our duty to ‘uproot’ their evil and make right an ancient wrong. Then we may enjoy the peace we have won for ourselves at a great cost, and those in your galaxy may determine their own fates.”


The conquest of Sokar’s territory was much more complicated and time-consuming than the quick sweep through Apophis’ territory. From the first attacks on Delmak, Netu, Memphis, and the Necropolis in late April, it took until early June for the Furlings to be fully satisfied that they had captured all Goa’uld controlled worlds and hunted down and captured any and all of Sokar’s underlings. Though Sokar’s ‘empire’ was not massive by Goa’uld standards, many of his strongholds on his worlds were well-hidden with many twists, turns, and secret chambers that all had to be cleared, lengthening the time it took to capture most worlds. Considering the large fleet that Anarr had found on Delmak being prepared for all-out war with the other System Lords, it was fortuitous that the Furlings had attacked when they had.

Finally, this step of their work was done, and the Furlings found themselves in control of Sokar’s wide domain and what remained of Apophis’ holdings. Heru’ur, the son of Ra and Hathor, was picked as the next target since he was seeking to take advantage of the chaos caused by the attacks of the Furlings and expand his territory. The conquest of Heru’ur’s territory began in late June and stretched until late-August, but Daniel was not present for most of it. He fell ill with what began as the local version of a cold a fortnight after the end of the campaign against Sokar. After struggling through that for a week, he fell ill with a new illness just as he was getting over his cold. Called ‘Fever’s Touch’ by the Furlings, it was one of only a handful of illnesses that the Furlings were susceptible to (in most cases). ‘Fever’s Touch’ was a miserable combination of pneumonia and a bad case of the flu with the addition of a dangerously high fever, from which the disease got its name.

After being sidelined in the ‘hospital’ on Uslisgas for well over a month, Daniel returned to the Valhalla at the tail end of the campaign against Heru’ur. The major battles had already been waged and won, though not without losses, and only clean-up and consolidation was left to do. Two days after his return, one of the oddest incidents of Daniel’s time with the Furlings occurred.

It was early afternoon. Daniel was sitting reading in Sujanha’s office, keeping her company while she plowed through the day’s paperwork. He was much recovered after being sick, but his strength had not fully returned, and Sujanha was purposefully giving him as little to do each day as possible.

Suddenly, a chime sounded, and Mekoxe, the ship communication’s office, appeared in the doorway. Sujanha looked up, seemingly happy to have an excuse for a break. As dedicated to efficiency as the Furlings were, a dislike of paperwork still seemed to be a universal constant among generals.

“The Glaðsheimr just dropped out of hyperspace,” Mekoxe said, an indecipherable look on his face, “Commander Adair is asking for permission to beam over.”

Adair, that’s a Furling name, Daniel thought, though he could be an Asgard. There are Furlings with Asgardian names, so why not vice versa?

From the look in her eyes, Daniel was quite sure Sujanha would have blanched sickly white if she had been human. He had gotten reasonably good at reading the looks in her eyes during his almost year with the Furlings. Her golden eyes went wide in utter shock tinged with fear, before anger replaced shock.

“What is that fool boy doing here?” She growled, a rumbling, angry sound that made the hairs on the back of Daniel’s neck stand on end, “He knows the orders.”

Mekoxe did not respond, his face now a calm mask, but just waited to let Sujanha rein her temper back in. Sujanha had a fierce temper that usually ran cold, not hot. She rarely lost her temper, but when she did, she always got a grip within moments. Sujanha closed her eyes and pressed her paws together, forcing herself back under control.

After a few moments, she spoke again. Her voice was calm, and her eyes had cleared. “Send him down, please.”

“Of course, commander,” Mekoxe bowed and withdrew. A second later, Daniel heard the tell-tale sounds of a beam out.

Sujanha rose and turned to Daniel, “Why don’t you take your book and find someplace else to sit for a time?” Her statement was phrased as a request but was clearly an order. “It is still close enough to the midday-meal hour that you might find Ragnar and Ruarc in the food hall.” Daniel was certainly going to go look for them and ask them about this mystery with the Asgard commander. Ruarc was always happen to explain things if they weren’t private or secret and not reticent, when necessary, to politely tell him to mind his own business.

Daniel closed his book, got up, and stretched. “Sure,” he said carefully, “do you want me to come back after a certain time, or wait until you call?”

“I’ll call for you when I need you. Until then your time is your own.”

Daniel departed, passing a Furling who bore a striking resemblance to a golden eagle and must have been the hapless Commander Adair. He wondered as he walked towards the mess hall: why was a Furling serving in the Asgardian military?

Sujanha had guessed correctly: Ragnar and Ruarc were still in the mess hall. Ruarc had finished eating and was sipping on a mug of tea. Ragnar, who must have arrived not long before, was alternating plowing his way through a plate of meat and Furling potatoes and telling some story to his brother, complete with wild paw gestures. They both paused and greeted Daniel cheerfully as he slid into a seat across from them.

“Is there any reason why an Asgard commander named Adair is in big trouble with the Commander just for showing up?” Daniel asked when Ragnar had finished his story.

Ruarc, who had just taken a big gulp of tea, went bug-eyed and choked on his tea. “The Prince is here?” He spluttered, coughing.

“This will be interesting,” said Ragnar with greatly exaggerated mock-cheerfulness as he pounded his brother on the back, “Cover your ears.”

Daniel looked back and forth between the two brothers, more and more confused. The fact that a Furling prince was an Asgard commander was unusual, but what about his presence here was so surprising?

Ruarc coughed again and then explained in a hoarse voice, “Adair is the Crown Prince of the Furlings. Commanders Anarr and Sujanha are his cousins. Commander Thor has standing orders not to send Adair to the same region where the Supreme Commanders are for the same reason that Sujanha and Anarr are not allowed to be part of the same attack. It would be a disaster if all three of them were injured or killed at the same time.”

“Commander Sujanha?” Said Daniel in astonishment, “She’s part of the Royal Family?” He wondered how he had never realized before, though Sujanha rarely talked about her family. Besides her brother, Daniel knew that she had a nephew, Ansurr, but she had never talked about her brother’s wife (mate?) or any other family. From a comment that Ruarc had made before the attack on Netu months earlier, it was clear that much of her family had passed during the Furling-Sicarii War.

Ragnar nodded, “She and her brother, both. Their father Atar was the much younger brother of the late king, Andórr, which makes the Commanders the cousins of the current king, Ívarr, and cousins of his son Adair.”

“If they all died,” Ruarc continued, “the line of succession would fall to Anarr’s son, Ansurr.”

And Ansurr was only a boy, so-far under age, so far from being ready to assume the throne, that it wasn’t even funny. “Yikes! So the Commander is in front of Commander Anarr’s son?”

Ruarc nodded. “The King’s children are always first in order of succession in order of their birth. After them, the line of succession falls by age irrespective of whose children they are. Thus, the Crown Prince’s children, if he were to have any in the coming years, would fall behind the Commanders and Ansurr. Midgard is different?”

The Furling method was odd, compared to what Daniel was used to from earth, but he supposed their way made sense. It did not make much logical sense to have an underage kid like Ansurr ruling, who would need a regent, when an adult like Sujanha was available to take the throne. “Quite, though there are a number of different kinds of succession. Is the Prince going to be in very big trouble? What’s her proper title, then?”

Ruarc had to think a minute before he answered, “Her title does not translate perfectly well into English, but the closest would be Her Imperial Highness, Supreme Commander Sujanha Staðfastur. As to the prince, it depends on why he violated standing orders. She’ll be as worried about his safety as she is angry about the orders.”

Daniel absorbed this and then asked, “What does Staðfastur mean?” The word sounded Scandinavian, which meant it might be Asgard. Daniel knew a number of languages from Earth and was learning several galactic ones, but he had never been that good at the Scandinavian languages. He had also never heard either Supreme Commander addressed with a family name or a house name (like Windsor), so Staðfastur was more likely an epithet.

“The Steadfast,” Ragnar answered before his brother could, “Sujanha the Steadfast. It is the title that the Asgard gave her towards the end of the Furling-Sicarii War.”


 

[1] Tolkien.

Chapter Text

Xeux, 6545 A.S. (Mid-June, 1999)
Ardea, Asteria Galaxy

Sha're awoke from a deep sleep, the last wisps of a pleasant dream of home fading from her mind. Without opening her eyes more than a crack, she rolled over, pulling the bed coverings up to her chin to keep off the chill in the air. A long, long moment passed before the enormity of her actions sunk in, and when it did, Sha're came to her senses with a start and sat up. She had awoken. She had fussed with the bed coverings. She had sat up. Not the demon.

With her heart in her throat, Sha're looked around her prison chamber as she struggled to stay calm. Her cell was the same it had been when the demon had took them to bed hours before: the same illusions that made her chamber look like her father's tent on Abydos, illusions, that soothed and increased her homesickness at the same time. Sha're rubbed her fingertips across her night-dress, feeling and reveling in the roughness of home-spun fabric on her fingertips, a simple action and simple sensations that she had never valued so highly until she had lost control of her own body. Sha're could feel the demon's horrible presence at the back of her mind, a slimy sensation like fruit gone bad that made her skin crawl. The demon slept … but just for now. Sha're had no idea how long her reprieve would last.

Sha're pushed back the covers on her bed and rose to her feet. Goose bumps sprang up on her arms within moments. The room was unusually chilly, but for the moment, Sha're didn't care. She could feel. After appropriating one of the smaller coverlets as a shawl, she padded across the room to her cell's doorway. Her captors had given her a small clock and taught her how to tell time, and she knew one of her guards would be coming by her cells on her rounds very soon.

Sha're had four female guards who took turns guarding her cell. Each guard was present two days out of every week. They made their rounds every half-hour during the day and every two hours at night, though one was always nearby and always came if Amaunet shouted and raged. The Furlings had treated her well for all the months she had been confined in their keeping after her Dan'yel had taken her from Abydos to keep her safe and she had given birth to Shifu. They ignored Amaunet's raging and fits of temper, never treated her harshly even when Amaunet lashed out, spoke to Sha're with kindness and brought her favorite foods. They even gave her simple things to read that Amaunet occasionally even read when the boredom became too strong. They kept her separate from the Jaffa and Goa'uld prisoners—for her safety, they emphasized—but Sha're did not lack for human contact. Dan'yel came. Her guards would speak to her, and there were others who came, figures with strange faces like great creatures who spoke to her and looked on her with pity.

Sha're wondered how her son was faring, where he was now, how big he was. Dan'yel came by often to see her, but in her cruelty and pettiness now that her power had been taken away, the demon let her have a glimpse of her husband and then locked her away in their mind until Dan'yel had departed. Sha're longed for news of her family and wondered of Skaara's fate.

Clutching her make-shift shawl tightly to her shoulders, Sha're waited at her cell door just inside the energy barrier, like on the demon's kara kesh, that blocked her from exiting her cell unless the barrier was lowered. Not long after she heard footsteps, and her guard, S'Manatek, appeared around the corner. A tall, thin human, with dark grey hair and eyes, she was one of the Boii.

S'Manatek stopped dead as she came around the corner, surprised to see Sha're by her cell's entrance. "Are you in need of anything, Amaunet?" The guard asked, assuming that it was the demon in control.

"May I have some water, please?" Sha're asked quietly. The demon had been in a dark mood that evening and had eaten and drunk little at the evening meal. Sha're felt quite thirsty as a result.

S'Manatek's surprise only increased, if the look on her face was anything to go by, when Sha're, not Amaunet, answered. The demon, unlike some among the System Lords, never used the host's voice. "Sha're?" The guard asked cautiously in English, approaching a few steps on silent feet. Most of the guards spoke to Sha're in English, though a few of the non-regulars could only address her in Goa'uld.

"Yes," Sha're replied with a hesitant smile at the kind guard, "I awoke, but the demon sleeps … for a time."

S'Manatek just looked at her for another long moment, her face cycling through a range of emotions, "There are small mercies in the darkest of times. I will return in a moment."

The guard went back the way she had came but returned shortly carrying a new pitcher of water in one hand and a blanket draped across the other arm. She put both items on a small platform just outside the cell-door, and then in a flash of light, they appeared inside Sha're's cell.

"I am sorry for the chill in the air," S'Manatek said, as Sha're wrapped the blanket, warm as if it had been lying in the sun, around her shoulders and then poured herself a cup of water, "There have been problems with the ventilation because of recent weather. It should be fixed soon."

Sha're nodded, her attention focused on the cup of cool water. Water had always been precious on Abydos, a desert world, but she had never appreciated such simple pleasures so much before.

"Do you know of my Dan'yel?" She asked, after a few minutes had passed. "Of my son?"

S'Manatek starred at Sha're for a long moment, her face puzzled and uncomprehending. "I do not understand," she said, "Daniel Jackson comes often to see you. I thought … hosts knew what occurs even when not in control."

Sha're eased herself down to the floor and tucked her feet underneath herself. "I usually do," she replied softly, "but my demon is cruel. She hurts me, but still I fight, so when my Dan'yel comes and tells me about my child, she locks me away so I cannot see or hear."

S'Manatek's expressive face twisted with horror. "I do not know much," she replied, "but I will tell what I know."

After making a few strange motions with her hands, she moved back to lean against the wall across from Sha're cell and began to speak. S'Manatek did not have a gift for storytelling but had a clear voice and a direct and simple manner of speech. She spoke of Daniel and the boy from what she had overheard in Daniel's conversations with Sha're, of the great commander and hunter who helped lead the fight against the demons in a far distant land, of the progress of the war and the demons who had fallen (Sha're was sure that her demon would be pleased to hear of the enemies of her pharaoh who had perished), and of many other things as well.

As S'Manatek came towards the end of her tale, Sha're felt the demon begin to stir in the back of their mind. Something must have showed in her face for S'Manatek abruptly fell silent, before speaking a few final words, "One day you will be free. We swear to it on our honor."

Sha're was calm. When she had awoken, the thought of the demon taking back control had frightened her, but now she had hope, more than she had had before, after hearing of the downfall of the demons. Her family and her people would be safe. Her demon could not hurt anyone else any longer. One day she did believe that she would be free again, and until that day came, she could wait with hope and peace in her heart.

Chapter Text

Domust, 6546 A.S. (Late August 1999)
Sujanha's flagship, Valhalla
Milky-Way Galaxy

The message from S'Manatek about Sha're reached Daniel at the end of the campaign against Sok'ar, a couple weeks after he had returned from medical leave. His strength had returned slowly, and Sujanha had stopped looking at him with concern every time he coughed or moved more slowly than was his custom. He was puzzled by the date-stamp on the message from Mekoxe that suddenly appeared on his tablet one quiet afternoon: about two months old.

"That's odd," Daniel said aloud, seeing the time-stamp.

"What is?" Sujanha replied, looking up from reports of the previous day's battle and taking a new mug of tea from Jaax, who always seemed to know when she needed a refill.

"Mekoxe just sent a message to me, and the time-stamp is two months ago," Daniel replied, puzzlement clear in his tone. The Furlings were almost efficiency incarnated. It was almost unheard for a message to get delayed this badly.

"It's rare to have messages that delayed," Sujanha said, echoing his thoughts, "but it does happen. You've been in more places than usual recently with your illness. Perhaps that delayed the message from reaching you."

"I suppose," Daniel replied with a shrug, tapping on the message to open it.

The header of the message identified the sender as S'Manatek, a Boii guard at Ardea, the main Furling prison world in Asteria where the captured System Lords and other Goa'uld were being held until the Furlings could conclude on a safe method of extracting the symbiotes with the highest chance of success and the least risk to the hosts.

The message was short, but its contents were earth-shattering and heart-breaking. Daniel read it once and then again and then a third time, hardly believing his eyes. Sujanha, who had heard the quiet gasp that the news had torn from him, had fixed her golden eyes upon him with unwavering intensity, but Daniel did not even notice. He reread the message again. And then for one of the first time since he had come to Asteria, Daniel lost his temper in an explosive burst, slamming his tablet down onto the table and throwing his own mug of tea without care to what direction it went. Then he burst into tears and buried his face in his hands.

Sujanha, who had risen seeing some clue in his face and started to come around her desk, easily dodged the thrown mug with only a little effort, a remnant of reflexes and agility dulled by years of suffering and pain. At the crash of a shattering mug, Jaax appeared in the doorway, weapon in hand, his free hand hovering over his gauntlet, ready to activate the comm.

"Commander! Are you injured? I heard a crash."

"No harm, Jaax," Sujanha said, easing herself awkwardly and somewhat painfully down to kneel by Daniel's chair, "Daniel received some bad news and reacted accordingly. Leave for us now. One of us can clean the mess up later."

"It will be as you say," Jaax replied and retreated, the door closing behind him.

Sujanha put a paw on Daniel's shaking shoulder and squeezed gently. Her strength was faded compared to most of her kind because of the Sicarii poison, but her strength was still greater than a human, and she could easily hurt Daniel, especially with her claws, if she was not careful. With the other paw, she plucked Daniel's tablet from the table and glanced at the message from a guard on Ardea. The message was long, but only the third sentence caught her eye: The "demon" has imprisoned the lady within her own mind at all your visits. Now Sujanha understood Daniel's rage and grief.

Sujanha let him weep for another couple minutes but then squeezed his shoulder and spoke in a tone that was half that of a commander and half that of a mother, "No more weeping, ta-serok-nin. It will do neither of you good and will bring no solution to your problems. Be strong. All will be made right in the end."

Her words took on a religious tone at the end, but it was the tone more than the words that calmed Daniel. He straightened and dried his eyes on his sleeve. "I'm sorry," he said, glancing at the shattered remains of his mug on the floor and the pool of spilled tea.

"All is forgiven. In circumstances such as these, you can be forgiven a display of temper, which is mild compared to some I have seen in all my years," Sujanha replied, levering herself to her feet with a groan and a paw on her desk. She pushed aside a stack and perched on the edge of the desk, instead of returning to her chair. "I glanced at the message for any clue as to what ill had befallen you, though I read only the first three sentences. You have my sympathy and my prayers. The wickedness of the Goa'uld will be their ruin at the end. Sha're will be free one day."

"Not soon enough. Their work is taking forever," Daniel replied hastily, his troubles loosening his tongue.

If Sujanha was bothered by his impertinence, she did not show it. "Some matters cannot be rushed if one wishes for the highest chance of a favorable outcome. Our scholars and our healers are working as fast as possible with the information that they have. They have no wish to repeat the mistakes of other methods of extracting symbiotes."

Daniel did not reply for several minutes until the sound of beaming technology in the outer office drew his attention and raised a question in his mind. "Why can't you use the Asgard's beaming technology to just beam a symbiote out of the host?"

Sujanha flinched and grimaced, a human gesture she mimicked sometimes when she tried to spare a human the necessity of reading Furling body language. "That method is possible but extremely risky. The calculations necessary for ensuring that only the symbiote is removed and not the vital tissues and bones of the host are so vast and so complicated that even the Asgard deem them daunting."

"But they have tried it before?" Daniel prompted.

"Yes, on four occasions." For once, Sujanha seemed hesitant to answer.

"And?" Daniel prompted again, feeling a touch of exasperation.

"On two occasions that method was successful, and the hosts were freed, though one died soon afterward from complications. On the other two occasions, the method failed with disastrous consequences. In one case, only part of the symbiote was removed, and it was able to release its poison and kill its host before the process could be completed. In the other case, all of the symbiote was removed along with parts of the host's spine and brain matter, killing the host. Thereafter, the Asgard concluded that using beaming technology to remove symbiotes would be kept for only the most extreme circumstances where no other viable option was available."

Daniel gulped and swallowed hard, feeling a little sick. As powerful and advanced as the Asgard and the Furlings were, Sujanha's words were a sobering reminder that even the members of the Four Great Races were not infallible, still made disastrous mistakes.

"So much for that idea," he muttered, rubbing his sleeve roughly across his eyes again.

Sujanha touched his shoulder again, sympathy in her eyes, "Your wife will be free one day and soon. Then with help and time, she will heal. You must be strong."

Daniel nodded.

"You are excused from your duties for the rest of the day, unless you would prefer to stay on duty."

Daniel shook his head. He didn't think he had the concentration or the focus to do much of any work for her. "I'll go write or read a book or something."


It took days for the shock of the message about Sha're to wear off and the horror to stop plaguing his every thought, but slowly life on the Valhalla returned to normal, or what could be called normal for the middle of a war. The next month was comparatively quiet with the lull in fighting between campaigns.

Zinjotnax, the Crown Prince of the Dovahkiin, was still, as usual, a frequent visitor to Sujanha's flagship. His visits seemed to coincide with his periodic rounds to check on his troops and engineers in the Milky-Way, though according to Ruarc, the prince was actually staying in galaxy, not in Asteria. Daniel found him somewhat intimidating but liked him well-enough. He was affable and good-natured, fond of telling riddles and stories from his people and prone to both periods of extreme concentration (or fixation) and of extreme boredom and scattermindedness, where he couldn't focus on a project he was trying to tell Sujanha about.

Zinjotnax appeared once or twice a week at fairly random intervals, one time arriving two days in a row, while other time not showing up for five days. His appearance never failed to put Sujanha in a good move, even on days she was in greater pain and her temper was suffering. The prince seemed to have a propensity for showing up on her bad days and a talent for managing her tempers. This propensity made Daniel wonder whether Zinjotnax just had really good timing or someone was actually calling him specifically. From something he had overheard, Daniel knew that the prince and Sujanha had been close friend since before the end of the Furling Sicarii War.

Most of Zinjotnax's visits were spent playing the Furling version of chess with Sujanha in her office. Furling chess, to Daniel, seemed like a horribly complicated amalgamation of earth Chess and Stratego (with bits from a few other games) that was played on 2, 4, or 6 boards. Each board stood in for certain terrain with pieces suited for either ground or fleet campaigns. There were pieces of different ranks, and a list of rules a mile long. Sujanha and Zinjotnax were both extremely skilled and could play for hours late into the night and only end up in a draw. They had kindly attempted to teach Daniel, but he was nearly hopeless even on 2 boards with simplified rules.

Throughout this period, the work on the Azrea, the Ancient warship, discovered at Saqqara continued. By late-September (Daniel still kept idle track of what the month would be on earth), the ship had been fully repaired, and a new crew was being trained. The Azrea was much larger even the Furling's flagships were and required a crew that was about half again as large. Scientists from across the Furling Empire and from the Asgard were also making slow but steady progress on replicating the Ancient's drones from information from the ship's computers and from two lone drones in the weapon's bay that had somehow been undiscovered when the Goa'uld had searched the ship long before.

Daniel, out of curiosity one evening, made the mistake of asking Nizul, the Dovahkiin engineer, fixer-up, and jack-of-all-trades aboard the Valhalla, through Ruarc what kind of power source the Ancients had used to power their warships. The Goa'uld, he knew, used naquadah. The Asgard and the Furlings used neutrino-ion generators, but Daniel did not remembering hearing what the Ancients used. The resulting conversation lasted for well over an hour, and by the end Daniel was totally lost, the conversation having quickly spiraled into concepts and terminology that he had no clue about and that he thought would have stumped even Sam. About all that Daniel understood of Nizul's long-winded and overly complex explanation was that the Ancients used some sort of power source called a potentia which was a 1-2 foot tall cylindrical orange crystal that had something to do with sub-space and could supply power for millennia under some conditions. When Daniel inquired how the Furlings were going to find one of these crystals, which Nizul indicated were rare and hard to make, Ruarc added that the Furlings had a small stash of them which were used to power the primary shields on the flagships.

The main problem that the Furlings were facing was extracting the ship from the sands of Saqqara. With the ship buried in the ground beneath the Goa'uld pyramid, there was no good apparent way to remove the ship without risking damage to or destruction of the pyramid and all knowledge it contained. When Daniel asked why the Furlings did not just beam the Azrea out from the ground, Ruarc replied that the ship was not buried that deeply in the earth and neither the geologists nor the engineers were sure that the remaining ground between the ship and the pyramid could support the weight of the pyramid if a cavern opened beneath it. The current plan, if no other sensible one could be conceived, was to empty the pyramid and its subterranean caverns of its storehouse of knowledge, beam the pyramid away to a safe distance (where its tablets would then be restored), and let the Azrea punch its way out of its cavernous prison.


Ihom, 6546 A.S. (October 1999)
Sujanha's flagship, Valhalla
Milky-Way Galaxy

Daniel's comm activated moments after he stepped out of his quarters onboard the Valhalla. For the moment, he was off-duty. The previous day had been extremely busy, more so than usual, and Jaax was filling in for him that morning. It was just past the 12th hour, as the Furlings measured time, and high-time for lunch. Hearing the chirp of his comm, Daniel waved his hand across his gauntlet to accept the call, and a heartbeat later, a small hologram of Jaax appeared, hovering above his arm.

"What's the matter?" Daniel asked, surprised to be called while he was off duty.

"All is well," Jaax replied, his echoing, rasping breathing still apparent over the comm, "The Commander is currently in a meeting with High Commander Algar, but a Tok'ra operative has just requested to be beamed aboard. The Commander wishes for you to meet him. If his news is urgent, bring him to her. If not, she can see him in at most an hour. Please see that the operative's needs are met during the waiting period, if necessary."

"I hear and will obey," said Daniel, repeating the typical Furling acknowledgment of orders.

Jaax nodded, and his hologram flickered out.

A Tok'ra operative. I hope it's Jacob-Selmak, Daniel thought, as he started making his way toward the bridge, I never got a chance to talk to him after the Sokar campaign. The Valhalla had been in orbit around one of the Furling supply worlds for several days. When the Tok'ra needed to get in touch with the High Command, they usually sent word to Ushuotis, and the troops there would then send them to the nearest world to where Algar or Sujanha (or occasionally Anarr's) ships were docked.

The bridge was quiet with only a low hum of activity as Daniel stepped inside. Mekoxe, one of the Getae, one of the few human race in Asteria, was at his usual station towards the back of the room. He glanced up as Daniel entered and gave a nod of greeting. Rusa Bonroas, the Lapith navigator, was at her station by Sujanha's command chair, but Sat'a Chakrechi, the weapon's officer, was absent, his skills unneeded while the ship was in orbit around a friendly world. An older gentlemen, dressed in the tan uniform of the Tok'ra, stood, looking out the view screen at the planet below, his back to the rest of the room. Daniel thought that he recognized Jacob-Selmak but was not sure.

"Sir?" Daniel said, approaching the operative and stopping a few feet away.

The Tok'ra turned. It was Jacob-Selmak, as Daniel had thought. The older man gave a nod of greeting. "Dr. Jackson," it was the host who spoke.

"So you do recognize me then?" Daniel said with a half-grin. He had suspected that Jacob Carter was from earth back at their first meeting before the campaign against Sokar but had never had a chance to speak to him. If he were from earth and from the SGC, there was a decent chance that Jacob Carter had heard of him.

"Mekoxe spoke your name a few minutes ago, but I had suspected before that," the host replied, "You match the description my daughter gave of you reasonably well, and few if any others would have been able to give those explanations about Sokar and Hell, besides you"

Daniel chuckled. He had changed somewhat since he had left earth. His hair was cropped much shorter than it had once been. Longer hair was a pain when he was in a hurry, and few of the human men around Asteria wore their hair long, either. He had transitioned from wearing his BDU-style garments that he had gotten at Rho's shop after he first came to Uslisgas to wearing the typical Furling tunic, trousers, and heavy jacket (which was full of pockets of a variety of sizes). It always amazed Daniel to see how much stuff both Ragnar and Ruarc could fit in the pockets without visible signs. The Furling healing technology had also been able to help his eyes so that he did not have to wear his glasses half-as-much. "I had wondered if my monologues would clue you in. I wanted to talk with you then, but there was never a chance."

"Perhaps after I speak with the Commander, if she can see me…" said Jacob.

"The Supreme Commander is in a meeting at the moment with High Commander Algar," Daniel replied, "If your news can wait an hour, she can meet with you then. If your news is extremely urgent, I can bring you to her office right now."

Jacob paused for a moment, thinking, and then said, "My news can wait an hour, but not much longer."

Daniel relaxed. The Tok'ra rarely, if ever, brought good news, but at least today there were no drop-dead emergencies. "May I offer you some refreshments while you wait?"

Jacob gratefully accepted, and the two made their way down to the mess hall. They could have beamed down, but the walking gave the Tok'ra host a chance to see more of the ship, and the walk was comparatively short. The mess hall was crowded but orderly. The room was quite large with a serving counter built into one wall. There were several lines with platters of food customized for several distinct races. Seeing a server he recognized at the counter, who spoke some English, Daniel directed Jacob into the human line, before himself getting into the Furling line. After over a year among the Furlings, he had gotten a taste for their cooking. Daniel emerged from the line last a few minutes later and found that Jacob had already found a table in one far corner of the room.

A sandwich on a plate in front of him, Jacob was seated with his back to the wall—old habits died hard in an operative, Daniel supposed—and looked with wary askance at Daniel's choice of food. The plate of stew Daniel had picked tasted much like curry, just without the great heat, but whose rice, meat, veggies, and sauce were brightly and oddly colored.

"It tastes like curry," Daniel said dryly, as he took a seat, "despite the colors."

Jacob still looked skeptical. "Good to know."

"You said your daughter worked at the SGC?" Daniel asked, once the two men had had a chance to eat a few bites.

"Yes," Jacob replied, setting down his sandwich, "Sam Carter. I believe you know her." There was mischievous twinkle in his eyes as he spoke.

Daniel choked on a mouthful of curry. He couldn't ever remember Sam talking about her parents, and as far as he knew, her father had never been affiliated with the Stargate Program. Although my information on most things is a year out of date. There's only so much news I can get from Bra'tac. "Well, I have missed a lot. How did you get involved with the SGC?"

"Short version: I was dying of cancer, and Selmak gave me a second chance at life."

"Wow!" was Daniel's only reply. After numerous interactions with the Tok'ra operatives and discussions about the Tok'ra with Sujanha and the other Furlings, he had slowly progressed beyond his near-pathological hatred for any and all Goa'uld, stemming from Sha're and Skaara's treatment at their hands. He was slowly growing more comfortable around both the hosts and the symbiotes and even genuinely liked some of the operatives who had rotated through the Valhalla bringing intelligence to Sujanha, but Daniel still wasn't sure that, if he had to make a choice like Jacob had, whether he would have picked becoming a host. "How are they doing?" There was only one they Daniel would be asking about: SG1. "I get some news from Bra'tac on occasion, but never enough."

Jacob's information and number of stories was somewhat limited since his contact with earth had been limited since he had been Tokra-fied—oh, stars above, I'm turning into Jack—but all the news he had, Jacob gladly told with the occasional input of Selmak. Some of his news was first-hand, but other bits, Sam had told him on his occasional visits to the SGC. Jacob proved himself a decent story teller, and several times Daniel found himself laughing hysterically at the crazy antics the SGC had gotten itself into during his absence. Jacob told of the SGC's nearly disastrous encounter with a black-hole and the death of SG-10; of Jack's meeting with an Ancient database and his meeting with the Asgard, a story Daniel had actually already heard on one of his visit to Othala with Sujanha; of the battle against the Reetou and Jack's fondness for the second Charlie (remembering what Jack had been like on the first mission, which had come so soon after the real Charlie's death, Daniel's heart broke for his friend).

Daniel's stomach gave a lurch when Jacob recounted the cliff-notes' version of SG1's disappearance and capture by Hathor and of Hathor's final demise. Good riddance. He still remembered in vague, shadowy images her take-over of the SGC; how she had used him; and how she had escaped. His stomach gave another lurch, and he put down his spoon and took a drink of tea, thankful for its stomach-soothing properties. There were some horrors, some nightmare-inducing events too awful to contemplate he preferred to never see the light of day again, to stay buried for all eternity.

"Good riddance!" Daniel said, as Jacob finished the Hathor-saga.

Jacob agreed, "Hathor's a nasty piece of work. We lost a good operative during Hathor's demise, but it was a small price to pay to get rid of her."

The Tok'ra host continued, telling of earth's new involvement with the Protected Planet's Treaty—a fact Daniel had already heard of during one of Thor's last visits—but then wound his stories to a close. Jacob and Selmak had been assignments until recently, and he had not been at the SGC or seen SG1 for several months.

"Sam told me about your wife," Jacob continued a few minutes later, when the two men had had time to finish eating, "What happened to her, it's …" Jacob broke off, with a shake of his head, anger clear on his face, "Have you made any progress in finding her? Sam said that was one of your main reasons for rejoining the SGC."

Daniel hesitated for a moment, thinking about what was safe to tell Jacob. He had a feeling there were some details—Shifu, mainly, and his status as harcesis, a status that trustworthy and tight-lipped Bra'tac had explained to him—that the Tok'ra should not know about until he had a chance to ask Sujanha about it. The boy, 14 months now, was the most adorable baby ever, in Daniel's view, and took after Sha're greatly. He was still safe on Abydos with Kasuf. Daniel went to Abydos as often as possible to check on the boy and spend time with him. "She's safe. The Furlings have her imprisoned back in Asteria until they can determine a safe way to extract the symbiote."

Jacob opened his mouth to reply but was interrupted by Daniel's comm chiming. Jaax's hologram appeared over his left arm.

"The Lady can see you now," said the Etrair in Furling. His hologram disappeared.

Jacob raised an eyebrow, a question in his eyes.

"The Commander's ready for us."

The two men turned into their food dishes and then made their way to Sujanha's office. Jaax was sitting in the outer-office and waved them on through. Sujanha was not alone in her office as the two men entered. Algar, his meeting concluded, still remained, sitting in the chair closest to her desk. His great wings were draped over the back of the chair and swept the floor behind him.

Both Commanders looked up as Daniel knocked perfunctorily on the door frame and then entered, Jacob a step behind him. Neither rose. Sujanha met Daniel's eye and smiled, before turning her attention to the Tok'ra.

"Jacob-Selmak, I am pleased by your return, though as usual, I am sure we both would prefer the circumstances to be different. Please sit," Sujanha spoke, waving them to a seat, as Daniel moved around to lean against the wall and open his tablet to his note-taking screen, "This is Algar, one of my High Commanders."

Jacob took a seat and then bowed his head, letting Selmak come forward. "I am pleased to see that you are well, Commander. I bring greetings from the Tok'ra High Council and thanks for the latest intelligence briefs and supplies that you sent us."

"We were pleased to be of assistance. We greatly value our alliance with the Tok'ra," replied Sujanha politely, "but tell me: why have you come? What news do you bring?"

"I am afraid the news that I bring is of grave concern. Your recent successes against Sokar and Heru'ur have caused great consternation among the remaining System Lords. Even the great fleets and armies of Sokar and Heru'ur have not slowed your advance, and they are concerned for their own survival and that of their power."

"Such news is unsurprising," Sujanha said slowly, seemingly puzzled, "Tyrants are always concerned for their preservation of their own power and dominion against threats."

"As you say," Selmak continued, unperturbed, "but to that end, recent intelligence from one of our operatives planted deep within Cronus' court has indicated that Nirrti, Cronus, and Selket have just brokered a truce between themselves and formed an alliance to oppose you." Daniel winced internally at Nirrti's name. He would never forget what she had done to Hanka and Cassandra.

Selmak bowed his head, and Jacob came forward, "Two or three months ago, Nirrti had a major fall from grace and disappeared from the galactic scene, but now she's reappeared at Cronus' court. Cronus is a heavy hitter, one of the most powerful and influential of the remaining System Lords. He has a large fleet of ships and a massive army of Jaffa. He's cruel but calculating. He's willing to go to any lengths to win and harshly punishes his troops when they fail." He paused for a moment, apparently speaking with his symbiote from the faraway look in his eyes, "Nirrti and Selket are the wildcards, very dangerous wildcards."

Sujanha glanced across at Daniel, who had been diligently making notes, "Have you encountered these Goa'uld before?" She asked.

"Not personally," he replied, "I've heard of Cronus, but not Selket. We've seen the aftereffects of one of Nirrti's rampages. She has a penchant for biological weaponry. She wiped out one of her planets with a sickness."

"And human experimentation," Selmak added, returning for a moment, "For millennia, she has sought to create better hosts."

Sujanha flinched slightly, though Daniel did not think anyone besides him and Algar noticed. The Furlings had spent over two millennia fighting an enemy whose talent was biological weaponry. Sujanha had nearly died, and the memories of the Sicarii had left widespread scars.

"Another enemy with a talent for diseases and poisons," Algar said slowly, gravely in English, "that will pose a great danger to moral among the troops."

Sujanha nodded, seemed slightly shaken, but her voice was level when she spoke again, "Personal shields are useless against contaminants in air or water," she paused and then added as an aside for Jacob-Selmak's benefit, "Our last great enemy in our home galaxy also had a fondness for biological weapons. Their best was a poison that killed 90% of all it infected. Those who were infected, their deaths were lingering and horrifically painful."

"Nirrti's arrogant and too smart for her own good. There always a chance she'll become too big of a thorn in Cronus' side, and he'll get rid of her anyway," continued Jacob.

"How old is this news?" Sujanha asked. Daniel could see the wheels turning in her eyes.

"A few days only."

Sujanha nodded. "Continue. We can consider what must be done in a few minutes, but first tell me of Selket."

Selmak retook control, "In terms of domain and overall power, Selket is a minor Goa'uld compared to Cronus or to Apophis in previous years. Her power comes from her fearsome reputation as Lord of the Ashrak. The Ashrak are her private army of trained hunters and assassins who are sometimes contracted out to the System Lords. They are highly skilled and capable of surviving in enemy territory for long periods without detection. They can easily switch hosts repeatedly to avoid detection, and some carry cloaks."

Daniel paled slightly, remembering the Ashrak that had killed Jolinar, nearly killed Sam, and tried to kill him, "One managed to infiltrate the SGC by impersonating one of our soldiers. He killed several before Teal'c managed to stop him."

"The problem of their cloaking devices is comparatively easily to handle. We have technology that can disable cloaks," said Algar, speaking for the first time in minutes, "but the switching hosts will be a greater problem. We have human contingents within the army. If an Ashrak hidden among the population of a planet we captured took one of our troops as a host, the intelligence he could gather could be devastating, notwithstanding the lives lost."

"Or on scouting missions," Sujanha added, "which could already be an issue."

Humans were a minority in Asteria. Most of the species who regularly served with the army and the fleet could be hosts to Goa'uld symbiotes, or so the healers said. Only Furlings and a handful of half-bloods had yet joined the ranks of the Tok'ra. Asterian humans were subject to the same dangers from the symbiotes as Jack, Daniel, Sam or any other humans from the SGC or the Milky-Way in general: they could be taken as hosts and repressed, while the symbiote mimicked them in public. Unlike the Asgard, however, whose physiology rejected the presence of symbiotes, the Furlings could become hosts but were mentally and physically advanced enough to, in the case of an unwilling possession, fight for control of the body.

"…Their presence could cause us great difficulties," Algar was saying, Daniel suddenly realized.

"But not insurmountable ones with this warning," Sujanha finished. It was simultaneously amusing and weird how the two could finish each other's sentences sometimes. Well, they have been working together for several hundred years at least. "And for that warning, we owe you great thanks."

Selmak nodded, "We are pleased to be of assistance."

Sujanha turned to Daniel, "Dr. Jackson, please tell Jaax to summon Oskar and Nizul and Mus to me as soon as they can find replacements to cover their stations, and then go to the bridge. Tell Mekoxe to send word to my brother. I need to see him as soon as he can get here. Also have word sent to Saqqara: I need Avar, the head of the Azrea project, here as soon as possible, as well."

Daniel straightened, "Of course, Commander."

Daniel stepped out into the outer office. Jaax was sitting at his desk, flipping through several holographic screens of reports, but looked up immediately at the sound of the door.

"The Commander needs to speak with Oskar, Nizul, and Mus as soon as they can get up here," said Daniel, inserting a note of hesitation on Mus' name, whom he didn't recognize or at least didn't remember.

"Of course, I will comm them immediately," Jaax replied, "Mus Voreck is the Chief Healer onboard the vessel."

The bridge was comparatively quiet as the door slid open and Daniel stepped inside. He saw Rusa, the navigator, and Sat'a, the weapon's officer at their stations, but Mekoxe was absent. Out the front view screen was a stunning view of hyperspace, which surprised Daniel. He hadn't even realized that they had jumped into hyperspace.

"Where's Mekoxe?"

"Here," the looked-for man replied, appearing out of a side room that Daniel hadn't even realized existed, "What do you need?"

"The Commander needs you to send word to Commander Anarr. She needs to speak with him, and the faster he gets here the better."

Mekoxe blinked and then grimaced, "I hear and obey." He moved across to his station and started doing … something … at a very quick pace.

"The Commander also needs to speak with Avar, the head of the Azrea project, as soon as possible."

Mekoxe acknowledged the order, and Daniel left him to his work.

The meeting with Selmak stretched long into the night. In response to his sister's urgent summons, Anarr had appeared within the hour, and Alvar soon after that. An impromptu council of war congregated in a conference room near Sujanha's office, as the commanders, engineers, healers, along with several others began to plan how to deal with the threat from the Ashrak and Nirrti's experiments. More people joined the meeting as the hours dragged on, faces and names Daniel didn't know. By the time Sujanha sent Daniel and several of the other humans to rest at 3am in the morning, Daniel had learned more about the biology of the Furlings and several other species from Asteria as well as about various types of sensor technology than he had learned in all his time with Sujanha up until then.

Daniel collapsed into bed just past 3am in the morning and didn't crawl out of bed for 9 hours. The meeting was still going on when he rose, but he and Jaax traded places so Daniel got to spend the day in the office, keeping an eye on the reports coming in for Sujanha to look at and dozing or reading when there were no reports to check on.

The warning from the Tok'ra came in the nick of time. The Furlings had a few days to brainstorm and adapt their technology to the new threat before the first attacks began. Daniel was amazed by how quickly the usually slow-moving Furlings could act when needs must.

Four days after Jacob-Selmak brought a warning of the Goa'uld alliance against the Furling Empire, an Ashrak with a cloaking device slipped through the Stargate onto Delmak, Sokar's former homework, during a changing of the guard. He escaped detection for several hours, long enough to plant several explosive devices before the keener senses of the Furling guards detected him. He went down fighting but managed to activate only one of his bombs. The damage he did was minimal, and none of the defenders were injured, but Anarr was furious that the Ashrak had managed to slip through the Stargate at all, that the guards had not detected the Stargate activating or even seen the ripple of the event horizon as the cloaked assassin slipped through.

The same day another Ashrak attempted to infiltrate Soma-Kesh, a former shipyard belonging to Heru'ur. He was noticed as soon as he came through the Stargate by the Iprysh guards. This Ashrak too went down fighting and showed much more tactical skill than the brute force tactics of most Goa'uld and Jaffa, earning the grudging respect of several Furling commanders.

Over the next two weeks, the Furlings faced a series of successive attacks on a number of major and minor worlds once belonging to Apophis, Sokar, and Heru'ur as Cronus and his allies began to test the Furlings' defenses. However, due to their advanced warning and technological superiority, most of the Ashrak were caught almost as soon as they stepped through the Stargates, betrayed by the anti-cloaking devices of the Furlings or their opponents' superior senses. On a handful of smaller, less-heavily guarded worlds, the Ashrak made it further, planting explosives, fouling the water supplies, setting traps, or the like. The biological weapons usually had lesser effects on the non-human soldiers, but the combined effects sowed some amount of confusion, and nearly two dozen soldiers were killed in the combined holdings of the Furlings across the Milky-Way. One poor Getae soldier, separated from his patrol, was taken as a host, and the Ashrak, using his knowledge, was able to get close enough to a Knight Commander, a commander of 5000 soldiers, to attempt an assassination, which failed but only just.

The Furlings had not been quiet in those weeks. As the Goa'uld were testing their defenses, searching for cracks and weaknesses, the Furlings had been gathering intelligence from the Tok'ra and Bra'tac's free Jaffa to plan a crippling strike against the combined alliance of Selket, Nirrti, and Cronus.

Only one world of Nirtti was going to be involved in the first strike. Sujanha on seeing the address had thought it familiar and sent it to the Asgard to run it against their Ancient database. This world, they discovered, had once belonged to the Ancients and was believed to hold an Ancient laboratory, which made it imperative that it not remain in Goa'uld hands any longer.

Selket herself had few worlds, so the intelligence from the Tok'ra and Free Jaffa indicated, besides her heavily guarded homeworld of Lira-ke. This planet had escaped attack by rival Goa'uld simply because of Selket's reputation as well as the Ashrak and hidden dangers that safeguarded it. Both Sujanha and Anarr had reservations about attacking a planet guarded by "treacherous traps and cloaked hunters, who would have the advantage of fighting on familiar ground," as Anarr put it, but Sujanha felt that making Lira-ke one of the planets in their first strike against the coalition would send a strong message to Selket that she could not hide behind her reputation and her Ashrak any longer. The planned attack on Lira-ke was going to necessitate the calling up of the Shadow Legion, a large elite strike-force in the Furling Army.

Cronus' territory was going to face the hardest attack. Four of his main worlds were on the attack list: Lekanos, a desolate but still important world that supplied food to Cronus' Jaffa; Kalydon, a vital training ground; Delos, one of his homeworlds; and Tartarus, a barren, hellish planet full of labyrinths and sprawling tunnel complex in which Cronus held his most dangerous prisoners, including (legends said) his son Zeus, a former System Lord. The Imperial Guard had been called up, as well, to undertake the dangerous mission of capturing Tartarus.

Daniel, who through all of this had remained onboard the Valhalla, only heard of these goings-on as they filtered back to Sujanha, were repeated at war councils, or were brought to her knowledge by their native allies.

On the 17th day after Selmak's warning, the combined might of the Furling fleet and army moved against the Goa'uld coalition of Cronus, Nirrti, and Selket. Sujanha, who had always led a different attack than her brother, led the ships in the attack on Tartarus.

Daniel was stationed on the bridge with Mekoxe as the Valhalla dropped out of hyperspace. The look of Tartarus from space did not match its fearsome reputation, though the number of Goa'uld ships in orbit about it testified to its importance in Cronus' mind. Out of the front view screen, Daniel could see the other Furling warships fanning out on either side of the Valhalla. The transport ships carrying the troops stayed behind the battleships until it was time to deploy.

Sujanha, sitting at her station between Sat'a and Rusa, just stared out at the planet for a long moment. What exactly she was staring at, Daniel didn't know. "Be ready to deploy on my command. Locate the Stargate and beam it into our hold, and then lock down the hold."

The Goa'uld warships had remained stationary even after the Furling ships had dropped out of hyperspace. Daniel wondered if this was supposed to be a game of chicken to see who would blink and make the first move. In most of the battles against Heru'ur and Sokar, the Goa'uld had not waited to attack, trying to not let the Furlings get the upper hand first, though to little effect due to Furlings' superior technology.

One of Mekoxe's screens made a strange noise, and a symbol Daniel had never seen before appeared. Mekoxe seemed startled, "We are being hailed, Commander."

"How interesting," Sujanha said aloud, though Daniel thought she seemed to be speaking more to herself, "On screen."

One section of the holographic view screen (in clear view of Daniel's station) displaying the planet and Goa'uld ships was replaced by a view of the inside of a Goa'uld Ha'tak. In the center, upon a splendid throne sat a huge man, bear-like in his size, with greying hair that cascaded down his shoulders, pale skin, and hard blue eyes. He was dressed in ceremonial armor, and the expression on his face, almost a sneer, was full of arrogance and contempt. And that must be Cronus.

For a moment, neither Sujanha nor Cronus spoke, the two studying each other like predators.

"Can he see the rest of us?" Daniel whispered to Mekoxe. The Getae shook his head.

"So you are those who have been such a thorn in the sides of the System Lords these past months?" Cronus began, his voice contemptuous, his face set in a sneer, "You dare challenge your god?"

Sujanha gave a harsh laugh that was almost a growl, "A god? You are a snake, a demon who has made a prisoner of your host. Your kind are not gods. If you were truly greater, how could we stand against you? And yet you fall before us, not we before you. There is one God, and you are not He."

"The other System Lords have grown weak, bloated on their power and wealth. I am Cronus, Lord of Fate and Time."

Daniel snorted internally at Take #1051 of the typical Goa'uld bombastic "I am a god; bow before me" speech. Sujanha did not seem to be any more impressed than he was, "You say you are more powerful than your brothers who have fallen before us. They met us in battle alone, save for their underlings. You stood aside, watching them fall, capitalizing on their demise. And yet now, when you deign to face us, you require the assistance of Selket and Nirrti? What power is that? Are you too weak to meet us without their aid?"

Cronus visibly bristled, and Daniel could almost imagine cartoon-like puffs of steam shooting from his ears. Apart from a few groups, there aren't many who have the guts and the gumption to talk back to a System Lord. "You dare to defy me," he roared, "I am your god."

Sujanha, undeterred by his tirade, replied, "You are no more god than I. You have one chance: surrender. You will not win today."

With a growl, Cronus cut off the communication. A moment later, Sat'a Chakrechi rumbled, "The Goa'uld are arming weapons."

"Deploy the troops, and make sure to cover their advance," Sujanha nodded and began to issue instructions, "Target the lead vessel from where the hail came. I want Cronus captured."

The Valhalla's shields flared green as the Ha'taks began to fire. Capturing the ships was always a complicated endeavor for the Furlings. While the Goa'uld motherships could fire on Furling ships for a day and not make a dent in the shields (you're probably exaggerating, Danielslightly), the Furlings, if they fired their weapons at full pour, could blow a Ha'tak to smithereens with one series of shots. Capturing, not destroying a ship, involved a complicated dance of how low can we power our weapons and cripple the ship without either destroying it or allowing it to flee.

With Tartarus, the battles in space and the battles on the ground were almost completely separate, unlike almost all the other previous battles. With the Furling army fighting in the tunnels beneath Tartarus' surface, there were few possibilities for direct intervention that the ships could take on their behalf. Updates from the troops on the ground were constantly being broadcast from Mekoxe's station, updates in a multitude of languages and codes which Daniel could understand only small parts of. Sujanha's main attention remained on the air battle, though she stayed apprised of major developments on the ground. Daniel had few duties to attend to and remained on the bridge at Mekoxe's station, watching and listening and hoping that what bits of news from the ground were not as dire as they sounded.

The battle for Tartarus began around lunch-time and lasted well into the night of the third day. The air battle, which lasted only for a portion of the first day, proved entirely successful. The Goa'uld warships were no match for the might of the Furling fleet. A number of ships and Jaffa were captured, and Cronus was captured, as well, his boastings of divinity failing before reality.

The battle for Tartarus itself was also successful, though not as overwhelmingly so. Cronus' guards and prisoners within the tunnel system had the advantage over the invaders, knowing the lay of the land, choke points, and prime ambush spots. The Furling advance went by in fits and starts—so Daniel heard after the battle's end—and, though the advance continued, a number of soldiers were lost in ambushes, tunnel collapses, and explosions. Personal shields did not make the Furlings invincible by any means, and even a personal shield would eventually collapse under a heavy barrage of enemy fire or under tons of rock, and not all soldiers carried personal shields. Heavy losses came especially when securing the gateroom which was guarded by the remotely activated Tacluchnatagamuntorons and in one of the farther tunnels when a damaged Al'kesh crashed into the planet.

Daniel did not know the death toll from the battle for Tartarus, or the other battles from the first strike, and he did not think that he wanted to know. He was, however, with Sujanha in her office on the fifth day when a grave looking Ruarc entered and handed her a tablet.

Daniel saw her almost visibly deflate, shoulders slumping and ears flattening, as she took the tablet from his hand. "Leave me," she said softly.

The two men, bodyguard and aid, stepped out into the outer office. Jaax was absent.

"The lists of the dead," Ruarc said quietly, "for both the army and the fleet. She always wants to see them both."

Daniel nodded but couldn't bring himself to speak, the image of Sujanha's golden eyes filled with heartbreaking sadness stuck in his mind. He wondered how many people, how many friends she had seen die in wars that had lasted almost her entire lifetime. "Never forget," he murmured, as they stepped out into the hall.

"No victory comes without sacrifice," Ruarc replied, "The fallen died well, and they will always be remembered for their sacrifices for the freedom of this galaxy from the Goa'uld. Their names will be inscribed on monuments at the Houses of the Dead, and we will remember."


Cronus' lieutenants proved themselves reasonably competent and more cunning than most, and with the assistance of Nirrti and Selket's Ashrak, the Furling campaign against the alliance dragged on for two months. Some battles were sieges of planets and straight-forward attacks on fleets, while others were feints, as Ashrak were sent singly or in small groups to attack Furling controlled worlds.

By late December, less than a week before Christmas, Cronus' domain was declared officially defunct. Some mopping up remained to be done, but most, if not all, of his lieutenants had been captured or killed; his home worlds and planets that served as ship yards, training grounds, or supply grounds had all been captured; and his fleet had been almost entirely captured or obliterated. Selket had been killed, and her remaining Ashrak had died with her. Nirrti had been captured and imprisoned, and the worlds that she controlled were in the process of being thoroughly checked for and cleansed of any biological traps.

A tense sort of temporary peace settled over the Furlings and their captured territory. The remaining System Lords were not cowed by the demise of the alliance of Nirrti, Cronus, and Selket. Despite their losses, the Goa'uld were still convinced of their own greatness and power and unwilling to back down before the Furlings. Yet, the quick demise of those three had made them more cautious, and there was temporary peace as they reconsidered their future plans.

The Furlings, and Daniel also, were glad for the chance for a short peace, a chance to regroup, to plan, and to bury their dead. Sujanha began to plan a short return to Uslisgas to check on the situation in Asteria and in Ida and to deal with some upcoming High Council meetings. Unlike Daniel who had returned to Asteria a handful of times since the war against the Goa'uld had begun in April, Sujanha had remained in the Milky-Way the entire time, leaving Bjorn, her other High Commander, to manage things in her absence.

Daniel was glad of the prospect of going back to Uslisgas for a bit. It would be nice to go home, visit Sha're, and sleep in his own bed. Scholarly interests also drew him back to his new home. After the discussions about ascension in relation to the Azrea, he wanted to do research in the Great Library to assuage his curiosity about this mysterious process, which the Furling called "the living death."

Chapter Text

Vekix, 6546 A.S. (January 2000)
Uslisgas, Asteria Galaxy

Sujanha's life, ever since the end of the Furling-Sicarii War and before the beginning of the Furling-Goa'uld War, had followed a set pattern. Except on the rare days she was too ill to work, she rose early, ate quickly, stayed at work until late, went home for a few hours' sleep, and then started the cycle again the next day. Her life was regular and dominated by routine, the order and set pattern important as it gave her some control over a life dominated by the unpredictability of centuries of war and illness.

Ever since Daniel Jackson, the exiled Tauri from Midgard, had entered her life about a year-and-a-half earlier, her life had changed for the better. She had grown rather fond of the boy. He was grown by the standards of his own people, but he always seemed so young to her in his outlook on life and enthusiasm for learning. It was difficult having the weight of so much responsibility and so many duties resting on her aching shoulders, and his presence in her life made a welcome respite at times. His endless questions and curiosity about his new home were always cheering to her and a welcome distraction at times. She enjoyed hearing his stories of Abydos and Midgard and liked even his quiet, stalwart presence. She had grown so used to him that, today, on the third day since her return, it seemed too quiet as she rode the lift up to her office.

After the end of the campaign against Cronus, Nirrti, and Selket, Sujanha had returned to Asteria for a short time to check on the situation in Asteria and in Ida and to deal with some upcoming High Council meetings. Bjorn was an extremely capable High Commander, but she preferred to keep an eye on how some important matters were functioning. This was the first time she had returned to Asteria since the war of deliverance against the Goa'uld had begun, remaining for months on board her flagship, her moving headquarters, in the Milky-Way, but some matters, like High Council Meetings, could not easily be dealt with at a distance.

Asik greeted her as soon as she walked into her office that looked unchanged in her months-long absence, "I was beginning to grow concerned, my lady. The hour is much later than your usual arrival time."

Sujanha, golden-eyes sharp, flicked her glance up to the chrono on the wall behind Asik's desk. Jaax's desk was empty at the moment; like Daniel he was taking a chance to check on his family. The chrono said that it was half-past the 9th hour. She usually rose at the 7th hour and was at work within half-an-hour unless she was waiting for Daniel. "I was waylaid several times on my journey here, or I would have arrived as normal."

"No problems, I hope?" replied Asik, following her into her inner office, his steps light and almost noiseless in his soft shoes.

"No, the High King had need of me first. I received his summons as soon as I arose. He had questions regarding the campaign against Cronus' alliance. On my return from the palace, I met my brother, who has also returned for tomorrow's High Council Meeting and was even later this morning than I was, and he had a question for me, as well. Thus, I am late." Sujanha said, taking her seat at her desk with a tired sigh and a pained groan and flicking open several holographic screens.

"Will Dr. Jackson be joining us today?" Asked Asik, moving to pour a cup of spiced tea from a full pot already brought upstairs and sitting on a side table, awaiting Sujanha's arrival, which was usually like clockwork.

"After the midday meal," Sujanha replied, "he is visiting his wife today." She paused, swiped through a few more screens, "Have there been messages for me in my absence?"

"Yes, several, since the messages forwarded to you immediately upon your return," Asik replied, stepping into the outer office and retrieving a tablet from his desk, "Do you wish to hear them in any order?"

"Are any of them critical?" She hoped not. Sujanha had slept for several hours longer than she commonly did and still felt exhausted, the strain of months of campaigning weighing upon her. Duty before self, she reminded herself mentally, despite a nagging voice in her head that sounded too much like her brother, saying that she would be no help to the fleet if she collapsed … again, which to be fair had not happened since the end of the Furling-Sicarii War.

"No," Asik replied with a shake of his head.

"Then chronologically will do…," Sujanha replied, leaning her head against the back of her chair.

"Yesterday evening, an intelligence report arrived from Othala from Thor. It was not marked critical so I deemed it could wait until this morning."

"I see it," Sujanha said, flicking open the report and expanding it, "You acted correctly."

"A personal message from Thor arrived in the same package, as well as a message from the Crown Prince, stating that he would be on Uslisgas on 5th day, four days from the time the message was sent, to meet with his father and hoped to speak with you on the same trip."

Adair, the Crown Prince of the Furlings, was the same age as Sujanha and Anarr. He had been sent to serve in the Asgard Fleet, instead of the Furling Fleet, to lessen the chances that all of the heirs to the throne could perish during the war with the Sicarii. Sujanha was quite fond of Adair, her only cousin, the grandson of her own father's much elder brother. Their interactions were sometimes awkward as she outranked him in military matters but he her in all other matters. Their last encounter in the Milky-Way, caused by faulty intelligence, had been especially awkward. She loved him—she had so few family members left that she could not afford to dislike any of them—but interacting with him was often difficult.

"Send an acknowledgement to Thor that I have received the new intelligence, and tell the Crown Prince that, if I am still here, I would be glad to speak with him," replied Sujanha, "Next."

"A message from Ansurr arrived late yesterday afternoon."

Sujanha opened her eyes with a start and looked at her aid. His face was straight; he was not—oh, what is that strange saying Daniel says—pulling her leg. She gave a rumbling laugh and brushed a paw across an itch on her muzzle, before asking, "What does my brother-son want?" It was so like her little brother-son to send a message to Headquarters himself, instead of through his father. Ansurr, a young boy of about the size and maturity of a 12 year old human, was good-natured but sometimes overly-enthusiastic and slightly rash.

"He says he misses you, and Tevra also, and hopes you'll come and visit again soon."

Sujanha gave a sigh, her amusement at her brother-son's actions evaporating. She was so tired, not just physically, but also mentally. War was terrible and hard on those who fought and those who remained behind. It was hard to remember a time when war was not a daily part of her life. For almost 1379 years, she had walked among the stars, and for all but three-quarters of a century, her people had been locked in a war, a life-and-death struggle not just for victory, but for bare survival. Only seventy-seven years of peace had come between the wars, and for nearly half of that time, she has not even been on Uslisgas, away on an allied world that the war with the Sicarii had not touch, trying to recover the remnants of her shattered health. Sujanha had not even been on Uslisgas when her brother-son was born. She was so busy, so frequently absent, the weight of multiple galaxies resting on her shoulders, working for the good of her people and their allies. There was always so much to do, and she rarely had chances to go to her brother's house to see Asta, his wife, and their two children Ansurr and Tevra Abroicox, a Cesenor adopted by Anarr. She was so tired.

"Next." No hint of her weariness showed in her voice.

Asik took the hint not to ask if she had a reply and carried on. "The other message came this morning and is from the Tok'ra. They request your presence on Vorash. They say it is important but not critical and did not elaborate."

"An unusual request," mused Sujanha. A cramp wound its way up her right arm, and she reached up her other paw to try to massage it away, "Selmak and Jacob usually bring me word when there is need. How strange…"

"Do you wish to go or delegate?" Asik asked. Delegating, one of the most valuable skills a commander can learn.

Sujanha paused for a long moment, considering the matter. Finally she said, "I will go. My tasks can be postponed for a few hours without consequences." Sujanha rose carefully, learning her weight heavily on the arms of her chair, sturdily built for just such purposes. Her illness left her with side-effects, at times severe, and her right left especially was prone to unexpected cramps or spasms. Today was an unusually good day so far, except for her general tiredness, but Sujanha did not wish to be careless and end up on the floor if her leg gave out.

Asik bowed deeply and began to withdraw. "Of course. I will send for your guards and then send the necessary replies."

"No need," a deeper voice broke in as Ruarc appeared in the doorway like a silent shadow, his brother at his shoulder, "We're here. What do you need, Commander?"

Asik withdrew, and Sujanha's golden gaze focused on her two bodyguards. They had been by her side for years, since before the end of the Great War. Their loyalty was eternal and unquestionable, but they were not just silent sentinels. They were both experienced soldiers and were as ready with advice or wisdom or critiques as they were with defensive force. "A message from the Tok'ra came this morning," she said, "They wish for me to come to Vorash."

Ruarc's ears flattened against his skull, a sign of his unease. "Unusual. You're going?" In private, the two guards were free, at Sujanha's insistence, to speak less formally.

Ragnar growled, a low rumble in his chest. Among the Furlings, the Tok'ra's request for Sujanha to come to them, instead of them coming to her, was considered an insult. In matters of business or military matters, those of lesser rank went to those of higher rank, not vice versa.

"Yes," Sujanha was not one to mince words.


Sujanha was not one to waste time either, not when there was work to be done. She left a message for Daniel and Jaax with Asik and had word of her departure sent to Anarr. Then, within minutes of leaving Headquarters, the Supreme Commander of the Furling Fleet along with her two bodyguards stepped through the Stargate and out on to the sands of Vorash. For a moment, they were alone, and then several Tok'ra guards, watching over the Stargate, emerged from the sands out of nowhere. Sujanha was pleased: she almost had not seen them before they moved, though she had been able to both hear and smell them.

One of the guards approached her. The host seemed young to her, but then most humans did seem young to her. To a Furling, almost all other races seemed young. He was tall with short brown hair, dark hair, and bushy eyebrows. The expression on his face was friendly and open. He bowed to her and saluted in an imitation of the Furling fashion, an attempt that pleased her. When he spoke, it was the host's voice. "Thank you for coming, Commander. If you would follow me, please."

Sujanha acknowledged his words with a nod and followed him across the sands. Walking over sand was more difficult than walking over level ground, but her cat-like paws made it somewhat easier. Even so, she was just a touch breathless by the time the group reached the rings. Ruarc touched her elbow in a silent gesture of concern. She shook her head, and he dropped back two paces to his original post. Knowledge of her 'illness' was mainly considered an open secret within the confines of Asteria and extremely limited outside its bounds. She had no wish for the knowledge to spread more than absolutely necessary.

Another Tok'ra, another man, was waiting just at the edge of the ring room. He wore brown robes, instead of tan. His hair was dark and straight, spilling just slightly over the top of his broad forehead. His face was square, and he wore an expression that was somewhere between severe and haughty. He did not even make a slight bow to Sujanha, as many other Tok'ra did out of respect for a valued ally, "I am High Councilor Delek. We appreciate your coming."

Sujanha nodded, returning the greeting, though curt, "The alliance between the Tok'ra and the Furlings is highly valued. I was surprised, however, that Jacob-Selmak did not bring me the news." Her reply was a subtle prompt for an explanation and a slight warning not to waste her time, all in one.

"Selmak is off-world at the moment on a mission," replied Delek. He looked to the guard and said somewhat brusquely, "You are dismissed, Aldwin."

Aldwin nodded and begin to retreat, but Sujanha reached out and brushed a paw across his sleeve, murmuring a quiet word of thanks.

"If you would come with me, Commander," Delek prompted. Sujanha fought back the urge to correct him. Supreme Commander, she wanted to say but kept quiet. There was something about the Tok'ra High Councilor that Sujanha did not like. Perhaps it was just his too brusque dismissal of Aldwin. Sujanha made a point of always trying to be kind and polite to her subordinates. They were loyal, willing to follow her into yet another war, and she always tried to repay that loyalty and always be worthy of it.

After a few minutes of walking, winding through long, twisting tunnels and going gradually further underground, Sujanha began to grow increasingly exasperated. The long walk was starting to make her right leg, her bad leg, ache, and she still had not been told why the Tok'ra had asked for her to come. The Commander valued the alliance of the Furlings with the Tok'ra greatly: the intelligence they had provided had been invaluable. However, Sujanha did not appreciate being dragged around like she was an underling or a simple messenger.

"Enough," Sujanha finally growled when they had come some distance further and came to an empty tunnel, "I tire of this. Why have you brought me here?"

Delek immediately paused and turned back. "Through our subspace network, we have recently received new information from our operatives regarding the positions and distribution of a number of Goa'uld motherships and troop transports. Our analysts deemed it vital for you to see the information quickly. With Selmak absent, we thought it best for you to come, instead of sending a less-experienced messenger with whom you are less familiar."

"Very well," said Sujanha, after a long pause, "Let us continue." Their decision was reasonable and logical, but she wished that they had given her that information sooner.

By the time the three Furlings and Delek reached their destination, Sujanha judged that they were at least three levels below the Stargate, and their route had been so twisty that even Sujanha was struggling to keep the entire path with all its turns fixed in her mind.

As the group slowed, finally approaching their destination, Sujanha glanced back over her shoulder at Ruarc, who was a couple paces behind her and to her right. Seeing her look, he moved up and leaned in so that their heads were close together.

"Do you remember the route?" She asked, switching from English back to Furling. It was not that the Commander did not trust the Tok'ra, but rather that she had learned through painful experience of betrayals by those she thought allies to always have backup plans and escape routes.

"We both do," Ruarc replied in the same tongue. Ragnar nodded his assent.

"Good," said Sujanha. Ruarc dropped back.

After making one final turn, Delek led Sujanha into a large and deep chamber. In the middle of the room, several display screens were laid out along with a piece of Goa'uld technology, a large red and silver stone set upon a very impractical and fragile, thin gold stand. Two other tables stood at the back. Two other Tok'ra, one man and one woman, were present, one at each table. They appeared to be scientists, if a quick glance at their equipment was any indication. The man was tall with curly, brown hair; a long, sharp nose; and a severe expression on his face that made him look like not the most genial of men. The woman was slightly shorter with curly, golden hair that hung to her shoulders, grey eyes, and a friendly through somewhat guarded look on her face.

Delek spoke to them both briskly, only in Goa'uld, a language which the three Furlings knew only snippets of. The man—it was the symbiote speaking—snapped back a reply.

"The data is set up, awaiting your appraisal," said Delek without further reply to the other Tok'ra, as he turning to Sujanha, who had paused in the doorway, surveying the room and its occupants, "Two of our agents who were instrumental in discovering the data are on world at the moment if you have questions."

With that, Delek departed. Sujanha decided that, if she were human, she might want to bang her head against a wall, as she had seen Daniel mime doing in moments of extreme exasperation or annoyance.

Clamping down on her annoyance and her temper, Sujanha turned to her bodyguards, "Ruarc, please see if any of our people are here at present, and check on them if possible. Ragnar, take up a position somewhere in the hall. Wander if you choose but not too far." After the beginning of the Tok'ra-Furling Alliance, multiple Furlings along with a handful of people from several other worlds within the Empire had chosen to become Tok'ra hosts.

"Of course, Commander," they both said and, after saluting, departed.

When Sujanha was alone in the room with just the two Tok'ra, she surveyed the room once again before moving towards the center table. The male Tok'ra had returned to his work, but his back was tense, and he seemed either annoyed, ill-at-ease, or both. The female Tok'ra had returned to her seat but was watching Sujanha with her head slightly cocked to one side, curiosity in her gaze.

"I surmise," Sujanha asked the other woman in English, gesturing to the subspace receiver and the multiple viewing screens, "that this room is not the usual place for this equipment."

"No, it is not," the other woman, the symbiote speaking, replied in the same language, "This is one of the science labs. That receiver is the spare. The main one stays several levels above us in a room that was probably judged to be too crowded and noisy for your use. This lab is one of the few to have a table large enough for the equipment."

"I apologize then for interrupting your work and will endeavor to be as quiet as possible so as not to disturb you both further."

"This was not your decision," the male Tok'ra finally turned, the symbiote still in control, "We do not hold you at fault even if we do not like the consequences."

"Nonetheless, it is because of me that your work has been disturbed, and for that I am sorry, …" Sujanha's voice trailed off in a tone that prompted him for a name.

"Malek," the symbiote replied, "My host is named Loknu, and he greets you."

Sujanha glanced across at the other woman. "I am Kelmaa," the symbiote said, "My host is Gwynyth, and she also greets you."

"I am Sujanha," the Commander replied, "but I assume I am already known to you."


With introductions and apologies out of the way, Sujanha set to work, and her two companions returned to their tasks, whatever those were. The data from the Tok'ra subspace receiver was as the message had said important but not critical, and Sujanha deemed that it likely could have waited until Jacob-Selmak returned. The distribution and grouping of the motherships indicated a marshalling of the Goa'uld forces. Whether that was for an attack against each other or against the Furlings was not clear.

Hours passed as Sujanha studied the information and planned. Ragnar appeared in the doorway a handful times just long enough to see that she was well before disappearing again. Kelmaa left once to retrieve some supplies before returning to her desk. Malek never moved from his chair.

The first tremor passed by without Sujanha noticing it, too minor to do anything except make the smallest of rattles, not enough to pierce her concentration. The second tremor shook the room more severely. These tremors were not caused by the impact of weapon's fire but by the moving of the earth itself. Earth shakes were uncommon on Uslisgas but not unheard of, and she had been in battle often enough to know the difference between tremors from earth shakes and weapons' fire.

Sujanha rose carefully from her table and moved around it to the other side, keeping one paw on the table for balance, so she could hear better what was going on outside. "Is this planet prone to earth shakes?" She asked.

"No, not so as we had thought," Malek replied, seemingly puzzled. He had risen but had stayed by his worktable. Kelmaa, on the other hand, had moved to stand by Sujanha's side.

The shaking was getting worse. Dust began to fall from the crystal ceiling, and equipment began to rattle strongly, ominously. Sujanha was struggling to keep her balance, her bad leg not aiding matters. She wondered where Ragnar and Ruarc were, praying to the Creator that they were safe.

"We must go. We are not safe here." It was Kelmaa who spoke.

Kelmaa and Sujanha moved towards the door, and Malek moved to follow. Just as they did so, the shaking increased many-fold. Stones began to fall from the crystal ceiling. With a roar, the room began to collapse around them. Sujanha dived for Kelmaa, covering the more fragile human with her own body. A stone struck her hard in the back, before she could bring up her personal shield to cover them both. Malek, too far out of reach, was on his own.

It seemed like forever before the room stopped shaking and all was quiet again. Wary of aftershocks quickly following, Sujanha counted off several more long minutes in her head before cautiously moving off from over Kelmaa. The room was pitch black, even the glow of the crystals dimmed, and Sujanha struggled to make out anything in the darkness. Her back throbbed with pain, and each breath shot agony through her chest, but she resolutely pushed aside the pain. Nothing could be done at present, and she had faced worse in the past. There was no time to be weak.

"Are you injured?" Sujanha asked Kelmaa, slowly reaching out one paw to touch her arm.

The answer was a long time coming. "No," Kelmaa finally said, "We are shaken but unhurt."

"Good," Sujanha replied. Her back was throbbing, and she could feel the warm, stickiness of blood on her fur, making her tunic pull on her fur as she moved, but she could move her limbs, which meant she could function for now, since others needed her help. She could worry about her own injuries later. The worst part was that her right arm and leg were already aching, twinges running up and down which heralded the pain or shakes or cramps to come. Tomorrow was not going to be a pleasant day, but for now she could function. She had to function.

"Where's Malek?" Kelmaa asked, trying to see through the inky darkness for her companion. "Malek! MALEK!"

There was no reply. Sujanha and Kelmaa both carefully rose to their feet, wary of any fallen debris that might be close. Now that her eyes had adjusted more to the dark, Sujanha could see the vague outline of the table that she had been sitting at. The faintest light shone from some of the tunnel crystals, allowing just enough light for her superior eyesight to be able to make out something however poor.

"Stay behind me," said Sujanha. When Kelmaa protested that she could not see enough to have a hope of doing so, Sujanha gently grabbed one of her arms and put it on her shoulder, "Hook your fingers into my tunic."

The walk just across the room was painfully slow. Sujanha could not see well enough normally and was forced to sweep one foot back and forth in front of her until she could find a safe spot to set her foot. By the time the two reached the place where Malek had last been, they both felt exhausted from the strain, and Sujanha was sure from the pain in her feet that multiple crystals pieces had penetrated the pads of her feet, one disadvantage to being a race that did not wear shoes.

On her last foot sweep before she knelt, Sujanha's foot met flesh. Malek!

"He is right in front of me," she said, "Move around me slowly and carefully. I do not know what debris is on his other side."

Sujanha knelt, while Kelmaa moved. She reached out a paw to where her foot had found flesh and touched Malek's leg. Kelmaa knelt by his shoulder. If he was trapped by fallen debris, neither could see well enough to tell.

When Kelmaa called his name, Malek finally began to stir. "Are you injured?" She asked.

When a reply came, it was not Malek who spoke but Loknu his host. "We are dying," the host said, his voice soft and very weak, "We are pinned across our abdomen and chest. There is major internal damage. Malek is fighting to heal me, but it will not be enough."


Sujanha moved back a little ways to give Kelmaa and Loknu a semblance of privacy to talk. She eased herself carefully down to the ground and scooted back until she could carefully lean her back against the table she had been sitting at earlier. The pressure hurt, made the throbbing flare, but would hopefully stop the slow bleeding. The pain for her was a minor annoyance for the moment, but she had dealt with worse pain most every day for centuries, and she simply chose to ignore it. There was no time to be weak. There was nothing she could do for her injury at the moment. She had no medical supplies or healing device. To the best of her knowledge, she had a cracked rib or two, but as long as she was careful, no internal injuries. For now, it was best to rest and push away the pain. Help would come eventually.

Using her left paw to rub at the cramps crawling up and down her bad leg, she leaned her head back against the stone and tried to think. Enough time had passed since the earth shake that, assuming that either Ragnar or Ruarc were alive and mobile—Please, Creator, let them both be alive—they would have sent or be sending news back through the Stargate to Uslisgas and summoning help. Her ships could arrive quickly with extra hands and medical supplies, but it would take longer to get the engineers and equipment from the army bases to start extracting the Tok'ra from the collapsed tunnels. One danger of living entirely underground.

Feeling in the dark, she tried to activate the communication function on her gauntlets. The early screens did not give out enough light to see what she was doing, so she abandoned that idea and pressed down three fingers on three specific places on her gauntlet, activating the emergency comm function. In this mode, the comm would automatically try to connect with the closest comm. If that failed, it would attempt to connect with the next closest and then the next closest after that until a connection was made or all connections failed.

After a long heart-stopping moment where nothing happened—Creator, please, no—the comm made its connection with a small chime, and Ragnar's small blue outline appeared over the gauntlet on her left arm.

"Commander, thank the Creator, you're alive," Ragnar's voice was filled with relief.

"It is good to see you, as well. Does your brother live?" Sujanha asked, replying in Furling.

"He does. He has returned to Uslisgas to summon aid. We are unhurt, but there are major collapses across all levels throughout the tunnel system. There are trapped and injured all over. Are you where we left you?"

"We are. Kelmaa is uninjured, but Malek's host is dying. The entrance to this chamber has collapsed, and we are trapped, but the room is large enough that the air will last for some time. It is too dark to work, even with my eyes."

"We will move as quickly as we can. Do you have instructions?" If Ragnar noticed that she had not reported on her own condition, he chose not to comment.

"Continue what you are doing, but have word sent to Algar. The fleet is his to command until I am freed."

"Of course, Commander. It will be done. May the Creator preserve you!"

"And you!"

With that farewell, the blue hologram disappeared, and the room again was bathed in darkness. Sujanha recapped the news for her two companions.

"Your ships, when they arrive," Kelmaa asked after Sujanha had finished, "can beam us out?" Her voice was hopeful. A beam out would get Malek medical attention much sooner, perhaps even quickly enough to preserve his life.

"No, at least not for now," said Sujanha regretfully, "It is too dangerous with the tunnels in these conditions to attempt to beam anyone out of the collapsed sections."

"How is beaming them out any more dangerous than leaving them trapped when the shakes might return?"

"It is a calculated risk," Sujanha admitted, "If all the trapped were in one or even a handful of locations, the situation would be much different. However, from what Ragnar has said, there are Tok'ra trapped across the tunnel system in many scattered locations. Our beaming technology cannot beam everyone out at the same exact instance, and it is incredibly difficult and time-consuming to coordinate beamings between ships. Beamings happen sequentially and take time. Without a better knowledge of the debris field and where a person is, beaming a person out from the wrong place can destabilize debris, causing further collapses in the same location or in nearby locations and cause even more catastrophic damage and the loss of more lives."


With the hope of a speedy rescue gone, silence fell over the crystal chamber. The hours passed slowly. Ragnar commed Sujanha a handful of times to update her on the rescue. The supplies and engineers had arrived from Uslisgas and several bases within the Milky-Way, and they had set to work with a passion. The work was going well but slowly. One of the fleet's hospital ships had also entered orbit above Vorash and was receiving all the wounded as they were extracted.

Loknu continued to fade as time passed. Malek was spending all his strength in a futile attempt to keep his host alive, but the internal injuries and bleeding were too severe. All Malek could do was keep his host from feeling any pain and postpone the end. Without a host, a stasis container, or a quick rescue, Malek would die with his host.

With the sound of Loknu's ragged, labored breaths ringing in her ears, Sujanha closed her eyes, tipped her head back to rest against the stones, and tried to think. From the sound of Loknu's breathing, Sujanha knew that not even a quick rescue would keep Loknu from the grave. She had sat by too many death beds during the Great War, she knew the sounds when death approached. Loknu was already half-floating in the Winds of Night that would carry his spirit away. Death was coming for him and soon, very soon.

Malek faced a choice then: die with his host if he was unwilling or too injured (or exhausted) to leave or take a different host. Only one host was available in that dark chamber: Sujanha herself, a fact that left Sujanha in a terrible dilemma. She was not unwilling to be a host by any means. The idea of a constant companion, friend, advisor, always with one sounded … nice. She had talked with Jacob Carter at times, curious about his experiences, as well as with those of her people who had become hosts, but she knew nothing about Malek behind the few brief times they had spoken within the last few hours. Sujanha felt that it would be dishonorable to not make the offer and give Malek the choice and a chance at life. Yet, at the same time, Sujanha feared that her becoming a host would call her status in the fleet into question. Her loyalty was supposed to be to the Empire alone, to her king, to her people. Being a host could lead some to question the impartiality of her decisions in the War especially where the Goa'uld or the Tok'ra were concerned or even her loyalty to the Empire.

Algar is prepared, she finally decided, to replace me if that course of action would be determine to be best by King and Council. I must do my duty to the Empire, to Ivar, to my people. The king knows my loyalty; I have devoted my life's work to the Empire, but I must not sacrifice my honor to do my duty. If my duty requires my health, my life, I am willing to sacrifice it, but never my honor.

"Loknu," Sujanha finally spoke, her voice steady despite a sudden flare of pain in her back and leg.

In the darkness, Sujanha could hear him stir at the sound of her voice, though she could just barely see the outline of his form, but it was a minute before he could summon the strength to respond.

"Yes?" His voice was a mere whisper.

"If a host were to be found, would Malek be willing to switch hosts?"

"Not until … all hope … is … lost … He is … determined to … save me," Loknu replied, each word a struggle to force out, "But what host … could … be found … here?"

"I offer myself," said Sujanha, "if Malek is willing."

Kelmaa's gasp was quite audible, echoing in the quiet room.

It was a long moment before Loknu replied, but when he spoke, it was actually the duel-toned voice of the symbiote who forced out a single word. "Why?"

'Why' was a vague question that could have many possible answers. Sujanha deliberated for a moment before starting with the most obvious answer, "Because, Malek, you will die without a new host, and I am the only potential host in this room, unless help comes soon, and if I am not mistaken, you will not last much longer."

"Why now?" Loknu was struggling even to speak, "Never … offered … before."

"There was never a need such as this."

Loknu tried to speak again but couldn't get his voice loud enough to project so Sujanha could hear him. Kelmaa moved slowly over beside him and began to speak for him.

"Are you truly willing? Or do you feel forced by circumstances?"

"In a way, the answer to both your questions is yes," Sujanha answered slowly. Sitting in the dark for hours, the pain sapping her strength, she was beginning to feel quite tired. "I have no great desire to become a host, but nor am I unwilling to become one by any means, and I feel it would be a blight upon my honor to not at least offer."

"We know nothing of each other. I am weak. I would not be able to leave you for some time if even another host could be found."

"My offer is not a temporary one. Once we would become acquainted, I am sure we are old enough to, at least, as the Mid … the Tauri say, 'get along.'"

"Some say I am hard to 'get along' with."

"And I command thousands upon thousands of men. I am quite skilled at bridging divides and dealing with difficult personalities."

Loknu gave a quiet laugh that turned into a cry of pain as his injuries were jarred.

"Before you make your decision, Malek, there is one thing you should know," Sujanha said, "and please, Kelmaa, do not repeat this."

"Of course," Kelmaa assured.

"I am dying. I was poisoned centuries ago during our Great War with a poison that should have killed me. My health is fragile, and though I do not expect to die soon, I will not live to the lengths of others of my brethren. You would likely outlive me, and not I you."

"It matters not to me," Kelmaa spoke for Malek, "If the need comes, I accept your offer." She fell silent and then added another phrase that must have been from Loknu, not Malek, "Thank you."

"Of course."

Silence fell across the crystal chamber again. Sujanha felt relieved to have the decision made, whatever the resulting outcome. Loknu's every breath, raspy and weakening, seemed ever louder to her as the day dragged on. She was relieved for his sake that Malek could ease his passing and that the Loknu would not die alone. When Loknu's breaths became so weak that even Sujanha could barely hear them, Sujanha slowly and painfully climbed to her feet. The movements sent a bolt of pain running through her chest and down her right side. Without the aid of the table for the first few moments, she was not even sure if her leg would have supported her weight. She locked her bad knee and slowly shuffled over to sit next to Loknu's prone body. She could not see him in the darkness besides the vague outline of his form but could feel his presence. Sujanha found his arm, slid her paw down until she could rest it on his hand. She felt as the human twisted his arm to slip his hand into her paw and squeeze weakly.

"Are you sure of your choice?" Kelmaa asked.

"I am," Sujanha replied without hesitation.

A few more minutes passed and Loknu's breaths finally stuttered to a stop. Sujanha could hear Kelmaa moving on his other side, as she offered up a prayer. Creator, grant him swift passage across the Winds of Night and receive him into your halls if it be your will. Grant him the peace that the Tok'ra have not known in life.

"You need to lie down, Commander," said Kelmaa.

Sujanha did so. Slight fear curled in her belly, not of Malek, but of the unknown. She knew her life was about to change permanently, but her conviction she was doing the right thing steadied her. She heard a few words in Goa'uld from Kelmaa, a rather unpleasant noise she could not identify, and then a squeaking noise that must have been from Malek as he emerged from his fallen host. I hope he can see better in this darkness than I can.

Kelmaa moved as swiftly to Sujanha's side as she could in the darkness and knelt beside her. Their arms met, and Sujanha felt a cool, almost slimy touch curling around her arm as Malek was transferred across.

"Open your jaw."

Sujanha would never be able to put her thoughts on the blending into coherent words. For her, it was a mixture of a sense of terrible pain and strangeness, though even that did not adequately express her thoughts. She could feel the symbiote's touch upon her face, and she opened her jaw to its widest extent so that he did not cut his fragile body upon her razor sharp fangs. His passage across her tongue made her want to gag, but that feeling was quickly surpassed by the pain in her throat. It felt like Zinjotnax stabbing her in the throat with one of his favorite knives. The movement in the back of her throat and around her spine as Malek adjusted himself made Sujanha's skin crawl and her stomach roll, a feeling which the blood in her mouth and throat did not help. Only her formidable self-control kept back the illogical urge to panic.

After a few more moments, Sujanha felt a mental touch at the back of her mind—their mind, she corrected herself—and then a few soft words. The voice was firm, that of one used to command and being obeyed, but was tinged with overwhelming sadness and utter exhaustion.

*I am sorry for hurting you. Thank you for your sacrifice. I must rest a moment, and then I will heal your throat.*

It took a moment before Sujanha could determine how to reply. *The pain is a small thing.* She whispered back. *I have borne much worse.* Which was the truth. The taste of blood was worse than the pain. *I grieve with thee at Loknu's death.*

Malek did not reply verbally, mentally verbally, but Sujanha could feel his gratefulness, an odd feeling for one used to being alone in her own mind. A few minutes passed, and then she felt a tingling begin in her throat, and soon the taste of blood faded.

*I fear you are injured.* Malek finally spoke again after a long silence. *And I am very weary.*

Sujanha began to wonder if her injury when the rock struck her back had been more severe than she had first thought. As her bodyguards often reminded her, she was not the best judge by any means of her own health or injuries, because of her extremely high pain tolerance, necessary for her to function semi-normally on a day-to-day basis. *I was struck by a falling rock, which broke or cracked at least one or two of my ribs. I have suffered worse. Rest.*

*It is more severe than only a broken rib.* Malek replied. Sujanha felt a sudden surge of protectiveness from him. *When we have blended, I will do what my strength allows.*

Blending was a strange thing, a sort of drifting for Sujanha. She saw flashes of Malek's life, and he of hers. When it was finished, they were one, and yet separate. They knew the memories of the other, but Sujanha was still Sujanha, and Malek Malek.

Sujanha felt very tired. The air in the cavern seemed to be getting thin. *Sleep!* Her symbiote told her. She could feel his concern for her. *If I take control, your pain will be dulled.*

*Not yet.* Sujanha replied. She forced her eyes open, though she could still see almost nothing in the heavy darkness. She reached out a paw and touched Kelmaa, who sat beside them.

"You are awake," Kelmaa said in surprise.

"How long?" Sujanha asked.

"The blending always takes time," she replied, "perhaps an hour has past. In this darkness, it is hard to judge."

"I am weary," said the Commander, "I wish to rest. Malek will take control. Will you pass a message for me to my people when they arrive? One of my bodyguards would be best, or someone from my flagship."

"Of course," Kelmaa, "Anything for you."

Sujanha gave her a message in Furling, "Algar rules the fleet until the High King and the High Council approve my return," and made Kelmaa repeat it three times until she had the pronunciation close enough. Then Sujanha let her eyes drift shut. She was so tired.

*What must I do to give you control?* This is all so new.

*Nothing.* Malek replied. *Just do not fight me.* Sujanha felt his presence move forward from the back of their mind, encircle her. Then her limbs were out of her control. Earlier, she might have been frightened, but now she knew him, trusted him. *Sleep.*

Sujanha did.

Chapter Text

Vekix, 6546 A.S. (January 2000)
Uslisgas, Asteria Galaxy

Not long after Ruarc returned to Uslisgas from Vorash, bringing word of the earth-shakes that had occurred and calling for aid, Daniel stepped through the Stargate on Ardea and emerged on the citadel of Uslisgas. For a few moments, his mind caught up with Sha're and their child, Daniel did not realize what he had just stepped into.

A few paces out from the Stargate, Daniel finally looked up and around and realized something was wrong—very, very wrong. It was early to mid-afternoon, and at that time of day, the large room in which the Stargate was held was usually rather quiet, occasionally even deserted, save for the occasional guard or maintenance worker. Today, the opposite was true. The hall was bustling. Organized chaos were the words that came to Daniel's mind, as he looked out upon row upon row of soldiers and engineers and anti-grav pallets loaded with supplies. Something somewhere had gone very wrong.

A harried looking engineer waved Daniel out of the way, and the Stargate quickly started to dial out again. Daniel threaded his way through the crowd of people and piles of supplies until he reached the wall along which he could slip towards the exit. His goal: return to Headquarters and find Sujanha. There were enough soldiers present that there must have been some attack somewhere, perhaps at one of the bases in the Milky-Way.

It took Daniel nearly twice the usual amount of time to reach Headquarters from the Stargate. The citadel was itself unusually full, and the transporters were at full capacity with the emergency, so Daniel had to walk and jog across to the other building. Inside, Headquarters was strangely, unnervingly quiet. How busy the building was usually was determined by how many of the high ranking generals and commanders were present at any particular time.

Finally, as Daniel stepped off the lift on Sujanha's floor, he finally saw signs of life. Asik, Jaax, and Ruarc were standing in the doorway to the Commander's outer office. They were talking so quickly that for a few moments Daniel had trouble understanding what they were saying, coming in as he was in the middle of a conversation. Hearing the lift, Ruarc broke off from what he is saying and spun towards Daniel.

"Good, you're here," the bodyguard said, his ears pinned back to his head in agitation.

"What on earth is going on?" Daniel replied, Ruarc's agitation heightening his own unease, "The whole citadel's on edge, and I've never seen it so crowded. Are we under attack?"

"No. The Commander was asked to come to Vorash this morning, and now there have been severe earth-shakes on a planet not believed to be prone to such tremors. The Tok'ra tunnel system is in disarray. There are trapped and injured everywhere."

Daniel gulped. Though he was not prone to claustrophobia, having been in many tight spaces during his former digs in Egypt, the thought of being trapped in those tunnels was … ugh. "Talk about suspicious coincidence," he muttered, "Your brother and the Lady, are they alright?"

"Ragnar is uninjured though trapped. The Commander is trapped in one of the lower levels in a small room. She has not said so specifically, but I fear she is injured. Potentially how severely, I do not know. She is not a good judge."

Daniel nodded, filing away Ruarc's last comment for future thought, and then asked, "So all the people, we're sending aid?"

"As quickly as possible," Ruarc replied. He paused and turned back to the two other aids, "I'll keep you updated. You have your orders for now."

Asik and Jaax made dual tones of assent, and then Ruarc made for the lift, motioning for Daniel to follow. "We are sending troops and engineers to Vorash in all haste," he said, as they rode down to the main floor, "in case those tremors were not caused by natural means, which could preclude an attack. Ships are already on their way."

"That's a thing, causing tremors artificially?"

"Yes," Ruarc replied, as they stepped outside back onto the floor of the citadel, "We have such technology, though it was created to counter tremors not to create them. Tremors can also be induced with sufficient explosive force in the right locations."

Daniel shuddered at the thought. "Why can't our ships just beam the injured and trapped out?" He asked, puffing slightly as he hurried to keep up with Ruarc who was making tracks back to the Stargate, though not flat out running.

"The short, simple answer: beamings happen sequentially overtime and cannot be coordinated between ships. Without studying the tunnels and the collapses first for weak points, beaming out people could shift weights enough to cause further collapses and just compound a disaster."

"Uh, bad idea then," said Daniel, "What am I supposed to be doing exactly?"

"For the moment, nothing," Ruarc replied, "Algar is in command until Sujanha is freed, and he has his own aids. As soon as she's freed, she'll need you by her side again."

The crowd in the Stargate facility had greatly lessened but was still larger than usual. Ruarc and Daniel went through the Stargate with the next group. The whole landscape of Vorash had shifted, not just because of the influx of men, machines, and supplies. The dunes had changed shape. Gaping holes had appeared where tunnels near the surface had collapsed or broken open, exposing them to the sky above.

"Creator have mercy!" Daniel exclaimed. He was not a religious man by nature. He had seen too much, too many horrors to really believe there could be a god ruling over all, but the Furling beliefs were starting to rub off on him, even though he still wondered how their faith was so staunch despite thousands of years of war.

Daniel spent several hours on the surface of Vorash, helping where he could. Sometimes that was helping move debris or being an extra pair of hands for the healers. Other times that involved translating between the Furlings and the Tok'ra who did not speak English. By mid-evening, Daniel was exhausted, and Ruarc sent him up to the Oshrocco to get some food and rest for a few hours.

The Oshrocco was one of the Furling fleet's 10 'hospital' ships. As the name implied, those ships were massive, floating hospitals, nearly two miles in length. With a massive complement of healers from all the races of Asteria, the ships could hold about 2000 patients at a time, even containing statis pods for transporting severely-wounded people back to Asteria for more advanced treatment. The Oshrocco was flanked by five warships of multiple classes, including Sujanha's flagship, guarding the planet in case of attack.

Daniel ate a quick sandwich and then found a free bed in a room set aside for resting workers. Sometime later, a hand shaking his shoulder jolted him from sleep. He opened his eyes to see Ruarc standing beside the bed.

"The cavern where the Commander is trapped has almost been reached."

Suddenly wide-awake, Daniel bolted upright and swung his feet over the side of the bed, "Thanks for waking me. Howe long was I asleep?"

"Several hours," Ruarc replied, "You were exhausted."

Unwilling to wait any longer for news on their missing commander or to remain on the Oshrocco until she was freed and beamed up, Daniel and Ruarc beamed down to the surface of Vorash. Much had changed since Daniel had arrived that morning. Some parts of the planet's surface now bore a striking resemblance to the archaeological sites Daniel had been at once upon a time. In some instances, the Furling engineers had simply dug straight down to reach trapped survivors, instead of taking the time to clear out and shore up the damaged tunnels.

Jacob-Selmak had also appeared since Daniel had gone to the Oshrocco to eat and rest. He stated that he had been recalled early because of the emergency and the suspicious circumstances of the event. The three men stood together near the hole which led down to the region where Sujanha, Ragnar, and several Tok'ra were still trapped.

The corridor outside the main chamber was breached first, and two Tok'ra with minor injuries were pulled out, as well as a snarling and impatient, though thankfully unhurt, Ragnar. The two brothers embraced heartily with more than one murmured prayer of thanksgiving. Soon their delight at being reunited soured, as Ragnar began to speak to his brother in a hushed voice, his eyes filled with unease and concern.

Jacob-Selmak was the first to pick up on the change in mood between the two brothers. "What's wrong?" Jacob asked.

Daniel had turned away back toward the hole, allowing the two, usually restrained brothers a little privacy. At Jacob's concerned question, he turned back quickly, his face filled with puzzlement, having missed the hushed conversation.

"Su … the Commander hasn't answered her comm for several hours," Ragnar said, turning from his brother towards the others, "even though I spoke to her multiple times earlier in the day."

"How was she?" Daniel asked.

"She was all business, as you say. She asked after us, was concerned for her companions. She spoke of no injuries."

"Not that that means much…" Ruarc muttered under his breath.

Daniel and Jacob exchanged puzzled glances at the black wolf's last comment but let it slide for the moment. The brothers went back to their hushed discussion, as they all continued to wait. A short time passed, and then a shout went up from the work zone, echoing off the crystal walls. The four approached closer to the hole, careful to still stay out of the way. Within a few minutes, three floating pallets were carefully pulled from the ground, one covered respectfully in a worker's cloak. On the other two were Sujanha and a blond haired woman in the brown uniform of the Tok'ra.

The three pallets along with the two brothers, Jacob-Selmak, and Daniel were immediately beamed up to one of the med bays aboard Oshrocco. The nameless Tok'ra woman and Sujanha were immediately transferred to two high-tech beds holographic screens projected on the wall behind, displaying the vital signs of the injured occupants. A Lapith healer immediately began to treat the Tok'ra, while Kaja, Sujanha's personal healer, an older human woman, whom Daniel had not seen since his wife had been rescued from Abydos, appeared from the hallway.

"The air was growing thin in the tunnels," Ragnar rumbled to the Lapith healer, "even for me."

As Kaja began to run a Furling healing device over Sujanha's body, the Tok'ra seemed to begin to stir slightly, and Jacob, in control for now, stepped towards her. When he was within a pace of her bed, which was just a few feet from Sujanha's bed, Jacob suddenly jerked backwards, a look of consternation and surprise filling his face.

Half a second, Kaja herself cried out in surprise, letting loose a torrent of words, half in Furling and half in her own language.

Ragnar and Ruarc exchanged uneasy glances and both tensed. "What's wrong?" Ruarc growled.

Jacob seemed too shocked for words, but Kaja replied wordlessly, bringing up a 3D holographic screen above Sujanha's prone form. Her injuries and other abnormal readings were highlighted in red, which stood out harshly against the green of the hologram. Daniel's gaze first was drawn by the torrent of red on her back and within the right side of her chest, barely even noticing the red coating her feet and already starting to trace up her legs. A split-second later, he caught sight of a red form, unmistakably that of a Goa'uld symbiote, curled around her spinal cord.

Ragnar stood motionless, his eyes full of bewildered surprise, but Ruarc let out a low growl.

Daniel was flabbergasted. His brain seemed to hit the pause button. What on earth?

"Would someone like to explain this to me?" The old healer asked, her tone turned biting with shock, stress, and surprise, stabbing one finger toward the holographic screen.

"Kelmaa is uninjured, but Malek's host is dying," Ragnar muttered.

Ruarc turned to his brother, "What?"

"Kelmaa is uninjured, but Malek's host is dying," Ragnar repeated, rubbing his chin with one paw, "That was one of the first things the Commander told me when I raised her on comms the first time."

"Which would make that Kelmaa," continued Ruarc, gesturing toward the woman, who had settled down without regaining consciousness, "and the fallen one …"

"Loknu," Jacob filled in, recovering from his surprise, "Loknu was the body we recovered. He and Kelmaa frequently worked together." He seemed tense to Daniel, who was still trying to wrap his mind around the fact that Sujanha suddenly had a symbiote. What on earth happened down there?

"Are we sure this was a consensual blending?" Kaja asked, "The Commander never spoke of even considering becoming a host."

"The Tok'ra do not take unwilling hosts," Selmak snapped, taking over control from his host.

Except when they do, Daniel thought silently, remembering what Sam had gone through with Jolinar. He was reassured to remember that the Furlings could become hosts but were mentally and physically advanced enough to fight for control of the body.

"There is no reason to jump to hasty conclusions without more evidence of what went on in that room," Ruarc said, stepping forward to calm everyone, "Kaja, care for the Commander's injuries as best you can, factoring in the symbiote's presence. As soon as either of them awaken, have us sent for."

Both healers nodded, and Jacob-Selmak, Daniel, and Ragnar all stepped out or rather were shoed out by Ruarc, who followed them into the hallway.

"Brother, please show the others up to the Commander's study. I will join you in a few minutes. Until I return, Jacob-Selmak, please do not speak of this development to anyone."

Sujanha's private study was a small room, austere in its simplicity. The only furniture was a table with four chairs in the center of the room and a small bookcase by the door that led to her office, containing a few books, scrolls, and tablets.

Ragnar began to pace with agitation, as soon as the door closed behind Daniel, the last to enter the study. "I never should have left her side," he raged in English in a temper born of grief and guilt.

"There was no sign before this that Vorash was prone to earthquake," Jacob began, taking a seat at the table, "and our base was not built near any fault lines. You could not have known."

Which is itself suspicious. Daniel thought, before the image of that hologram with its red coating came again to his mind. "How badly is she hurt?" He asked.

Ragnar continued his restless pacing for another minute, before he slowed and looked across at Daniel. "Badly, especially for her." Daniel understood what Ragnar was not saying, what he would not say in front of the Tok'ra, even Jacob-Selmak. Because of the lingering aftereffects of the Sicarii poison, Sujanha's health was more fragile than the usual stalwart Furling constitution. Those aftereffects were going to be a problem here.

"Even with your technology?" Jacob questioned, "And Malek?"

Ragnar nodded.

Jacob hesitated, before asking cautiously, "Are her injuries fatal?"

Ragnar shook his head in vehement denial, "No, but I will not be surprised if she is down for at least a week. The red along her back and chest, she has multiple broken or cracked ribs and internal damage, how severe I do not know. The red along her feet and legs, she almost certainly has crystal debris lodged in her feet, and an infection has entered her blood."

Jacob bowed his head, and Selmak came forward, "Algar will rule in her absence?"

"Unless a situation arises that makes the High Command deem it wise to request that Thor rule until her return," Ragnar confirmed, a comment which greatly puzzled Daniel. How could the Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet also rule as the Supreme Commander of the Furling Fleet. Politics, he concluded after a few moments' thought, that I don't know about.

A noise came from the door, and Ruarc entered. "I have sent messages to Anarr and Algar to come with all possible speed," he spoke as greeting, waving all those standing to seats at the table, "This situation is going to be a political nightmare, when word gets out." He sank into a chair and then looked across at Jacob-Selmak, "Tell me about Malek."

"In what respect?" Jacob asked. "His personality? His position among the Tok'ra? What he is like as a partner?"

"All the basics," Ruarc replied, "Whatever prompted the lady to make this choice, the repercussions are potentially immense, and the politics more complicated than you can imagine. I need to be able to give my Commander a report when he arrives." His words did nothing to alleviate Daniel's growing unease. Imagine if one of the Joint Chiefs took a Tok'ra symbiote… It would be a disaster.

"As to their blending and Malek's personality," Jacob began, "I think this will either be a match made in heaven, or they'll want to kill each other within a weak. Malek's a good kid, but he's young. He's smart, cunning, dedicated, loyal, detailed oriented, and extremely protective of his hosts, but he is also at times stubborn as a mule, blunt to the point of rudeness, and arrogant with the manner of the proverbial bull in a china shop." He paused, thinking for a moment. None of the others spoke. "Malek is a high-ranking member among the Tok'ra. Occasionally, he works as an operative, but his main positions are as a biochemist and data analyst."

"For the good of our alliance, would your High Council be willing to let him go?" Ruarc asked. He seemed to have the basic idea of what Jacob was saying, even though Daniel knew that the English idioms would have gone straight over his head.

"It depends upon what you mean," Jacob replied, "We could do without him on a daily basis, as long as we still had access to him on occasion."

"There would be no thought of restricting your access to one of your own people," Ragnar added, "but our king will not allow her to join your people, as others of us have done."

Daniel understood what Jacob-Selmak would not, what neither bodyguard would verbalize. Sujanha was not just the Supreme Commander of the Furling Fleet but also third in line to the throne of the one of the most powerful empires in the known universe. With only Anarr's son behind her in the line of succession, there was no way that the Furlings would allow Sujanha to stay on Vorash where the threat level was so high.

"When you speak of political ramifications, to what do you refer?" Selmak asked, taking back control smoothly.

"Nothing that will impact the alliance," Ruarc replied, scrubbing his paws across his muzzle, "but it is almost certain that the Commander will be asked to step down."

"Or be forced to step down…" Ragnar muttered under his breath in Furling, words so low that only Daniel sitting next to him seemed to here.

A noise prevented from Selmak asking any questions that Ruarc's statement had prompted. The door opened, and Kaja appeared. "Kelmaa is awake and asking for you or Ragnar," she spoke, looking across at Ruarc, "The Commander has not yet awakened."

Ruarc rose with a nod of acknowledgment and motioned for Selmak to follow but made a gesture, indication for Ragnar and Daniel to remain. As soon as the door closed behind them, Daniel turned to Ragnar. "Could the Commander truly be forced to step down?" he said in a rush of breath, "I thought High Councilors held their positions for life."

"In most cases, they do," Ragnar replied, rising from his seat and beginning to prowl around the room again with restless energy, "but in rare cases, it is possible to unseat a serving High Councilor with a united vote of the remainder of the High Council and the approval of the monarch."

"Has that ever happened before?" Daniel asked cautiously, realizing that he was wading into a very complex issue.

"Twice in recorded history," Ragnar replied immediately, seeming to know the numbers off the top of his head, "Although on eight occasions it has been put to a vote of the Council. It is a rare measure to put into effect and only in severe circumstances. Such a measure is generally viewed as a disgrace to the one forced out."

"Could they get enough votes to force her out? Would Commander Anarr vote against his own sister? Or High Commander Algar?"

"I think it would rain water on Drehond before the Council actually received a unanimous vote, but if the vote were close or the King requested she step down, the Commander might step down without forcing the issue," Ragnar replied. Considering Drehond, the homeworld of the Dovahkiin, was a volcanic, fire-world, it was not going to be raining there ever.

"When was the last time a vote was called?" Is this an antiquated custom? Or has it been used recently.

"In 6483 A.S., fifteen years after the end of the Furling-Sicarii War," Ragnar replied, his voice trailing off into a growl at the end, "when the Commander was still on medical leave and some on the High Council wished to unseat her."

Daniel's brain ground to a screeching halt, hearing Ragnar's words. Medical leave? Why would the Council want to unseat her? From the talk I've heard, she's one of the best Supreme Commanders they've ever had.

"Hold up! Hold up!" Daniel said, "I think I missed that history lesson when I arrived. And why would they want to unseat her anyway?"

"Politics, Daniel, politics," Ragnar replied with a weary sigh, "Politics are always complicated and messy no matter the race, no matter the system of government. As you know, Sujanha was poisoned during the war and barely survived. She dragged herself back to the front too soon when she should have remained in the healers' halls, and her health has never been the same. By the end of the war, her health was shattered, and she collapsed. Algar was made Acting Supreme Commander. The healers gave her a year to live. My brother and I, we had watched her health steadily decline for decades. By the end of the war, she already could hear the Winds of Night singing in her ears. We gave her two months. Unexpectedly, she proved herself too stubborn to die and lived for two months, six months, and then a year. A year stretched into several, which stretched into a decade."

"I guess a decade of medical leave is not as surprising when you live for as long as you do," Daniel noted, "That would be unheard of on earth."

"Extensive medical leave for years or decades is still somewhat unusual among us, though not unheard of," Ragnar replied, "After she had spent fifteen years among the Dovahkiin with limited contact with Uslisgas, one of the High Councilors put forward a motion during the summer of that year to have Sujanha retired from her duties as Supreme Commander, citing her long absence, extremely poor health—which had no guarantee of ever being healed if she ever survived—and the ongoing disruption of the chain of command."

That would explain Sujanha's friendship with Zinjotnax, Daniel thought as he said at the same time, "Those points sound … reasonable." He still had a sense that there were some details that Ragnar was leaving out,

"For one who knew less than he thought he did about the operations of the fleet, perhaps that would be true," replied Ragnar, finally retaking his seat after pacing several more laps of the room, "Supreme Commanders and High Commanders have taken long absences from the fleet before when necessary, and no war was ongoing at that time, and when there is no war, there is, in theory, less for a Supreme Commander to do on a day-to-day basis, unless you are Sujanha with an eye for fine details and a tendency to look over matters with, what was that strange saying of yours, a fine tooth comb. As to the second point, the Commander's health was a concern, but the fact that she had even survived for fifteen years was a miracle and a good sign in her favor. And anyone who knew her well should have known that if her health remained that fragile and broken, she would not have remained as leader. She cares about her men too much to risk them because of her ill health. As to the last point, the chain of command was no more disrupted by her absence than it was by the numerous other absent slots further down the chain. The turnover rate of commanders of all ranks was extremely high during much of the war. By the time Sujanha took command, becoming Supreme Commander or High Commander was essentially a death sentence."

Daniel was quiet for several long minutes after Ragnar finished, trying to digest it all, "So why," he finally asked, "do they still want to unseat the Commander?"

"Several reasons that largely tie back to politics," Ragnar replied with a half-sneer and flash of teeth. He was always the most expressively protective of Sujanha and the least fond of politics. "Her health is still a major issue to some. Transferring power from a retiring commander to his chosen successor is less complicated than when a commander unexpectedly dies. With Malek's presence, some will likely now deem her judgment and loyalty to the Empire compromised, and her choice will only confirm her in the minds of some as a maverick and a risk-taker."

"Sujanha?" Daniel cried out in surprise, forgetting to even call her by her title. "She goes over every plan with a fine tooth comb. She can take days to approve simple plans. She is about as far from a maverick and a risk-taker as one can get."

"Compared to many on the High Council, Sujanha is comparatively young, so is Anarr for that matter, and she was the youngest Supreme Commander in history when she rose to power. It took many risks and much … creativity … to win the war against the Sicarii, risks that would have meant certain destruction if they failed but were our salvation against the long defeat. Her methods are effective but not always popular, though she has had no need of them against the Goa'uld."

"Necessity is the mother of invention," Daniel muttered.

"That is often true," Ragnar replied, "Some on the High Council also feel that the presence of her and her brother give the king too much influence over the council."

Daniel looked at Ragnar askance, "Isn't the whole point of the High Council to assist the king after the empire grew too large for one man to rule alone?"

"Yes, but the High Council is supposed to be able to stand against the king and overrule him if the worst happens, Creator forbid, but it requires a unanimous vote of the council."

"Which, at the moment, would require both the second and third in line to vote against the king…" Daniel noted.

"Yes, and thus you see why I say that Furling politics are extremely complicated."

Within twenty minutes, Ruarc and Selmak returned alone. Daniel and Ragnar broke off their conversation, leaving the young man with much to contemplate. Life is never going to be the same again.

"The good news is the blending was consensual, Kelmaa says. Malek's host was dying, and the lady thought it would be dishonorable not to offer him a chance to live. Kelmaa was quite concerned for the Commander and had not realized she had been hurt. She also had a message from the lady for me to give to the High Command," said Ruarc, "The bad news is a rumor about the lady is already starting to spread."

Selmak started to speak, but Daniel leaned over toward Ragnar and quietly asked in Furling. "How could the lady not have known she was injured that badly?"

"Easily," Ragnar replied in the same tongue, "The Commander is a lady of single-minded focus in the field. She is prepared to ignore her own needs to achieve the necessary end goal. She has an extremely high pain tolerance, necessary for surviving the past centuries since our medicines cannot do much for her pain, and a talent for compartmentalizing. Unfortunately, both those things can make her, unwittingly, a danger to herself. She is rarely good at judging her own injuries, and more than once I've seen her push aside the pain and keep working, even when she should be in the Healers' Halls. There is a reason Commander Anarr assigned us to her, and it is not just because of danger from outsiders."

Chapter Text

Unaware of the events going on around her, Sujanha lay asleep in a private room off a secured hallway. Kaja had done much to aid Malek in healing her many injuries, and unconsciousness had progressed to sleep, full of dreams. The Furlings did not dream as humans did but rather had some conscious control over their dreams, which usually involved memories of the past as they had happened.[1]

In Sujanha's dream, she rested within a stone chamber. The room was round with many sealed windows and a single door that led down a steep staircase lit by the eerie light of a flickering lamp. Around the edges of the room were several stone couches. Upon one of these couches, all piled high with blankets and coverlets, Sujanha lay, covered with warm cloths, pillows propping her up so she could look out. The visage beyond was frightful. The world was mountainous with tall peaks that disappeared into noxious, poisonous clouds and valleys through which ran rivers of fiery lava. Down some valley walls spilled lava-falls. Far in the distance, a volcano had recently exploded, and plumes of smoke, dust, and ash were spilling into the atmosphere.

"Where is this? And where are we?" Malek's voice suddenly broke into her thoughts, startling her. Sujanha had been alone in the room for some time, starring out at the visage beyond, and the quiet and peace of the room and the familiarity of the sights had lulled her a doze, a state in which she had spent many hours in this very room decades before.

Sujanha turned her head. Her symbiote was standing a few feet away in the likeness of his host who had so recently perished on Vorash. "You are in my dream, Malek," she said, "This is Drehond, the homeworld of the Dovahkiin, one of the races in my galaxy."

Malek paced the room quickly, his face puzzled. He stopped and touched one wall and then the blankets on another bench. "This is a dream? It feels real."

"Furling dreams bear more resemblance to the relieving of memories than the dreams you would be used to with a human host. My people have very precise memories, and I spent enough days in this room in years past to remember it in great detail."

Malek finished his pacing and returned to his host's side. Sujanha pulled her legs up far enough to give him room to sit down on the same bench. In this dream-world, her physical injuries felt muted to non-existent, though she knew that, after her injuries and the shock her body had been put through, waking would be less than pleasant.

"Interesting," he mused, leaning back against the wall and looking around again, "The pain is gone."

"It will return when we awaken," Sujanha warned, "Dream walking is only a temporary respite. Are our injuries healed?"

"The serious ones that posed the greatest risk to health and life are with your healer's help," Malek replied. Sujanha finally noticed how tired he looked. His hair was mussed, and there were heavy dark circles under his eyes. His shoulders were slumped, and he looked young and exhausted as he spoke. "I have some fine work left to do, mostly from the crystals shards that tore up your … our feet, but I needed to rest first."

"I can change the memory if you would prefer," said Sujanha. Deciding how best to talk to and interact with her new symbiote was still a work in progress. They were blended, but they were separate and still learning about each other. They did not automatically know everything the other knew, though they could access each other's knowledge, but Sujanha thought learning about each other the old fashioned way—what Daniel would call 'not a brain dump'—might be better.

"No," he replied, "This is nice. It is … quiet, and the warmth is soothing." He said nothing for several minutes and then asked quietly, "How do you live like this?"

Sujanha knew what he was asking, knew the symptoms that would have already started as he worked to heal their damaged body, symptoms that had been her companion for nearly 500 years. "What choice do I have? If I do not live, I only linger in darkness and despair until finally my soul is released to set sail home. If I surrender to despair and self-pity, I let the enemy win. The Creator gave me this fate. I fight to live the best life that I can. The rest is in His hands. One day I will return to His Halls, and when I have made account for my life, I will find peace and healing." Her words were tinged with heartfelt conviction but had a rehearsed quality that indicated Sujanha had been forced to repeat that message over and over again in the past.

"My people will wish to speak to me as soon as possible," Malek said after another long silence. "My work is valuable, and they will not wish to lose me."

"Even if I were not Supreme Commander, I would not be allowed to stay on your homeworld as others of my people have done," Sujanha warned.

"I understand. Your parentage makes that impossible. Am I allowed to use that as an explanation for the High Council?"

Sujanha thought for a brief moment and then shook her head, "My parentage is not known outside our Empire or our close allies like the Nox and the Asgard, and I would not wish it otherwise. I am third in line to the throne of arguably the most powerful empire in the known universe. Behind me is only my brother-son who is too young to rule. My status could make me a target. The Tok'ra have had spies in their ranks before and might have one again. I do not wish my parentage to become common knowledge, not even to Jacob-Selmak."

"The earthquake," Malek scowled, "I think we would all like an explanation for that."

"There could be a natural explanation, but the timing is suspicious."

Malek agreed, and then the conversation shifted to Furling politics and the concern that Malek sensed radiating from his host. Soon after, with her permission, Malek began to study her memories on those issues. The advantage of being Furling: the body slept and healed but Sujanha, and thus Malek, still had conscious access to memories. Sometime after—time had much less meaning in the dream-world—Sujanha was roused from sleep and found herself in a private room onboard one of the Furling relief ships. Anarr was sitting by her side.

"It is good to see you awake, sister," Anarr said.

Sujanha starred back at him from dulled, half-lidded golden eyes. The pain that was already reappearing and the lingering shock of her injuries made her feel foggy, dull, and slow. "Brother." She blinked several times, trying to rouse herself from her stupor. "How long have I slept?"

"Over a day. It is currently late in the evening of the next day after the incident, about the 23rd hour on Uslisgas. You were severely injured."

"I was starting to come to that conclusion by the end." Sujanha replied after a minute, gritting her teeth to ride out a painful tremor that coursed through her body. In front of only her brother, she made no attempt to ride out the pain. Malek's presence in the back of their shared mind was dim, like he was still searching through her memories.

"I'm sorry to have to wake you, but we needed to speak." Anarr was tapping blunt fingers against one of his horns, a sign of his unease.

"The High Council?" Sujanha blinked again. She was with it just enough to feel annoyed at how dull and weary she felt. She was a hunter. She hated being confined to a bed.

Anarr nodded. "An emergency meeting has been called for tomorrow. I do not know by whom and will not speculate."

"And the king, has he spoken?"

"Beyond prayers for your quick recovery, no. Our king has his concerns, yes, though I cannot say that I do not either, but he knows your mind well and will reserve judgment until he has time to speak to you at length."

"Good," Sujanha shifted again, trying to find a comfortable position, and looked her brother in the eye. Dull though she felt, she had thought enough about her situation while she dreamed to speak competently, after dredging up the right words, "I knew the likely consequences of my actions full well when I made my choice. I have devoted my life to the Empire, but I refuse to sacrifice my honor, and I am not so conceited as to think that the Fleet cannot survive without me at its head. Algar is my greatest lieutenant. He is ready to lead if that is deemed best."

"Do you intend to step down?" Anarr asked bluntly.

Sujanha was silent for a long minute, considering her brother's question. "I do not know yet," she replied slowly, "I know the likely reasons why the Council will ask me to step down, and I think I have reasonable explanations to counter each of them. However, I have not yet decided whether I am only trying to justify myself in my own mind because I do not wish to step down." She paused again, and her voice softened. "I'm not sure what I will be outside the Fleet. It is growing hard to remember life without war."

"Plenty," Anarr replied sternly, his eyes flashing, "but we can discuss that more at a later time. For the moment, we both have politics to deal with, as unpleasant as that is. You say you have rebuttals against the Council's likely arguments. Explain them to me. I regret, sister, having to do this now, but the meeting is tomorrow, and I need to know more for guidance before I return to Uslisgas in a few hours."

"The main points I expect them to raise are the risks of having a High Councilor whose impartial judgment was threatened and whose loyalty to the Empire could be impaired by the presence of a symbiote. I expect the issue of my health will also be raised, but that would be an old argument."

"Such concerns are legitimate," Anarr cautioned.

"And I have never argued that they were not," Sujanha replied without heat, "just questioned … how they raised such concerns: when I am not present to speak for myself."

Anarr gave a snort of agreement.

"My health has largely been stable for some years now with the periodic problem not included, and events such as this would be difficult for anyone."

"Agreed, sister."

"Daniel's presence and aid have been … very helpful to my health. I have become quite fond of him." Sujanha felt a rush of fondness as she thought of Daniel. He was a good boy, and she had come to find his presence and assistance almost indispensable. He had a different viewpoint on some issues, a different way of approaching matters that she found helpful.

Anarr gently nudged his sister back on topic. "What about the other issues?"

"Further time to reflect might make me change my opinion, but for the moment I do not deem that Malek's presence threatens my loyalty to the Empire or my impartial judgment as Supreme Commander and High Councilor."

"Because…" Anarr prompted again gently.

"The way the blending is, Malek and I can speak together; we can know what the other knows; but I cannot make him think in a certain way, or he me. Granted he has better access to me to speak and persuade than even you do, brother, but his role is one of possible indirect influence like that of you, Thor, or even Zinjotnax, not direct change."

Sujanha had felt Malek stir in the back of their shared mind—it was still an odd prospect to consider—and now he spoke to her silently, asking for control. Consciously switching control was a very strange feeling, similar to taking a large step back and to one side and allowing Malek forward. Feeling her head move and her voice sound independent of her control was even stranger, even though she trusted Malek.

Anarr instantly realized when his sister's symbiote took control, and Sujanha believed he would have realized even without the grandiose and flashy voice and eye-flash. He straightened and pulled back his hand that had been clasped around his sister's paw.

"I am grateful to your sister, Commander Anarr, for this chance to live," Malek began. Exhaustion was weighing upon both host and symbiote. They had little energy and had expended much just in the conversation with Anarr. "I thought I would die with Loknu in those tunnels. I have no wish to influence your sister towards position that she has no wish to hold. Any knowledge that I possess that can be used to speed the downfall of the Goa'uld is hers gladly. Any advice, any council that I can give her, I will gladly do so. What she does with that knowledge and council is her own decision, not mine."

As soon as he had spoken, Malek pulled back, and Sujanha retook control. She instantly felt a wave of exhaustion. "Does that give you enough information for now, brother?"

"It does."

"Then we must rest. We are very weak."

Anarr rose, gently touching her arm in farewell. "Then rest, sister. I will return with news tomorrow or the day after."

Sujanha's eyes slipped shut as soon as the door slid shut behind Anarr. Within moments, she was asleep.


[1] Much inspiration is taken here from the dreams of the elves in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

Chapter Text

Ragnar's original judgment proved correct, and Sujanha was confined to bed for nearly a week. Daniel found that week to be one of the longest and most complicated of his recent life. On the second day after the rescue on Vorash, a High Council Meeting occurred. The attempt to force Sujanha to step down failed 6 votes against to 3 in favor. Even so, the political controversy still raged. Algar, for the time being, remained as Acting Supreme Commander, while Sujanha waited for Ivar, High King of the Furlings, to pass judgment on his own.

Other events took place on the Oshrocco during that period. Sujanha and Malek met with several members of the Tok'ra High Council, regarding Malek's new position and Sujanha's status as host. Whatever went on left both Sujanha and Malek extremely frustrated. The end result was that the Tok'ra would have free access to their agent whenever possible, but Malek would be available for no missions, and most, if not all, work that he did would be done in Furling or Furling-controlled territory.

Around the same time, Daniel had his first meeting with Malek. Sujanha seemed the same as ever, if perhaps somewhat more quiet and introspective after her near brush with death and her blending, and Malek seemed to be fitting in well with her considering the abrupt transition. The exact cause of the earthquake on Vorash was still undetermined, though after much work and many interviews, most were inclined to believe that its suspicious timing was coincidental and not intentional sabotage. Still, the Furlings and the Tok'ra were on high alert for the time being.

On the eighth day after the quake, Sujanha with Daniel, Ragnar, and Ruarc returned to Uslisgas, leaving Algar and Anarr in charge of the war against the Goa'uld. Daniel watched Sujanha closely as the four of them walked to the Stargate on Ushuotis. The lady was moving easily, though she still seemed to feel a twinge from time to time. She seemed quieter and more introspective in some ways, and her last lingering look at Ushuotis before they stepped through the Stargate was almost wistful. This very well might be the end of an era for her, Daniel realized.

The Stargate Building was nearly deserted when they all stepped through the Stargate on Uslisgas. The main hall was quiet. It was late in the evening, and the lights were low. The great statues of heroes past cast long shadows across the floor. Sujanha was looking around more than she had ever had before coming through the main hall, and Daniel suddenly noticed. She's looking at this room like she's never seen it before. Wait … he studied her closely again and noticed that she was carrying herself differently than she usually did. Malek must be in control.

Daniel stepped up beside Sujanha-Malek as they exited the Stargate Building and looked out over the sprawling city. Malek glanced at him and bowed his head, and then it was Sujanha looking at him.

"I am not sure," Daniel began, looking from the city up to the stars twinkling above, "that we ever fully value all that we have until we either lose it or see it through someone else's eyes."

"I think you are right," Sujanha replied softly. Usually standing for extended periods was hard on her, but she seemed content to just stand there for the moment looking out over the city. "Malek is amazed. Uslisgas, it is so large, so many people, and it is all above ground, no more hiding. Even during the Great War, we never had to hide like the Tok'ra do."

"Count your many blessings…" Daniel murmured, the first line of an old song he had not thought about in years coming to his mind as she spoke.

"Hmm?" Sujanha glanced at him, a puzzled look in her eyes.

"'Count your many blessings,' it's the first line to a religious song that got sung a lot at one of the churches I went to while I was in foster care after my parents died."

The puzzled look in Sujanha's eyes increased. Distracted, Daniel had spoken in English, not Furling, and Sujanha had automatically replied in the same tongue. Her English was excellent but limited in some degrees. She lacked the knowledge of specialized vocabulary, idioms, and simply vocabulary Daniel never used. All that meant, Daniel suddenly realized, that she would have understood very little of what he had just said.

Daniel gave a sheepish smile, "It's not important. Just a line of an old song I hadn't thought about in a long time."

Sujanha nodded and turned to Ragnar and Ruarc, "Let us all return home," she said, switching to Furling, "Daniel and I will beam home. You are free to do as you choose. I will determine tomorrow's activities tomorrow."

"Of course, commander," Ruarc replied.

The two brothers escorted Daniel and Sujanha to the beaming facility but then parted ways from them to go to their own quarters on the citadel. Daniel and Sujanha beamed out into the countryside to Sujanha's house. Though it was winter on earth, summer was in full swing on Uslisgas, and the flowers in Sujanha's small garden were in full bloom, scenting the air with their fragrance. The house 'auto pilot' greeted them as they stepped inside.

After Sujanha replied, asking for any messages that had come for her since last she was there, Daniel asked, "Do you need anything from me tonight, Commander?"

"Sujanha," she murmured. She seemed somewhat distracted. Daniel wondered if she was talking to Malek.

"Pardon?"

"You may call me by name in private, if you wish, Daniel," Sujanha said, giving him a small smile. She was mimicking human body language again. It didn't totally work on her: too many teeth. "You have lived me with for nearly one-and-a-half of your years and proven yourself quite invaluable to me. You need not call me by any title in private unless you are more comfortable doing so."

"Sujanha, then," Daniel replied. The arrangement would be similar to hers for him. Sujanha had started calling him Daniel in private but usually still referred to him as Doctor Jackson in public. "Do you need anything from me tonight?" He asked again.

Sujanha shook her head, "I will show Malek where everything is and then retire to rest. Rest well. I will see you tomorrow."

"Sleep well."

Daniel expected Sujanha to quickly become stir-crazy being on medical leave until the complicated political situation was resolved. To his great surprise, she did not. For the next four days, she happily spent almost the entire time in her library, reading through a large portion of her books. She was a quick reader. Except for going out to walk in the garden once or twice a day, she barely stirred from the library except to eat. Ragnar and Ruarc were frequent visitors. Their orders, Ragnar told Daniel once with a toothy grin, were to guard Sujanha, not the Supreme Commander, so her current leave did not change their assignment.

Daniel used the downtime to catch up on some research at the Great Library, mainly on ascension, which the Furlings called the 'living death.' Though much ink had been spilled by the Furlings on the issue, Daniel also found Ancient writings on the subject among the massive collection of documents in the library. He found himself fascinated and intrigued but also somewhat confused. He decided that more reading would be necessary to come to a better understanding of the subject. He also used the downtime to visit Sha're twice and spend almost half-a-day on Abydos, visiting Kasuf and playing with Shifu, who was growing quickly.

By the morning of the fifth day, Sujanha was finally starting to become stir-crazy. After centuries of war, Daniel doubted that she was used to sitting still and doing nothing for days on end. Even between the wars, she had been quite busy. The potential problem was solved when, after breakfast, the door chime sounded as Sujanha and Daniel were finishing their tea.

Malek, who had been the one in control, bowed his head, and Sujanha retook control, "Who is it?" She posed the question to the 'auto pilot.'

"Ruarc," the voice replied.

"Let him in," Sujanha replied. "I need to change the settings," she added, half to herself, "to let them in automatically."

"I bring messages," said Ruarc, as he entered the kitchen, "or rather summonses."

Sujanha did the Furling equivalent of raising an eyebrow. "Speak," she said, waving her bodyguard to a seat at the table.

"The High King wishes to speak with you after Judgment today, now that you have had time to recover and regain your strength. It is time, he says, to put this political controversy to rest." Judgment, another lesson I missed…

"One way or the other, it is time it ends," Sujanha said in agreement, "And…"

"Your brother will return this evening to Uslisgas for a short time. Unless you do not feel strong enough to attend, you and Daniel are invited—summoned—to dinner at his house. He feels you have spent long enough inside."

Sujanha gave a rumbling laugh. Her eyes were amused. "We shall attend, if that is agreeable to you Daniel?"

"I would be glad to meet them," Daniel replied.

Sujanha glanced across at the chrono hanging on the wall. Both of them were on a somewhat different schedule, since Sujanha was on medical leave, and it was currently about half past the 8th hour. From the way she was tapping her claws on the table, she seemed to be deliberating something.

"Do you want to attend Judgment?" Ruarc asked.

"My seat is Algar's at the moment."

"True," replied Ruarc, "but with the Crown Prince absent …"

Daniel was glancing back and forth between his two friends, struggling to keep up with the conversation. They were speaking too cryptically for him to follow with his non-existent knowledge of what 'Judgment' was in the Furling context.

"Yes," Sujanha acknowledged almost hesitantly, "but the High Council has been in enough turmoil over me these past weeks. The High King, I am sure, would prefer if I did not make it worse."

"It is your choice. With the Prince absent, you have a right by birth to that seat, not by appointment as do the High Councilors and the High Chancellor."

"True…" Sujanha was silent for several minutes, "Very well. I have not been in quite some time. I should again. Do you wish to come with me, Daniel, or join us later? Depending upon how long the High King and I speak, I might go straight from the palace out to my brother's home?"

"Uh, explain to me what I'd be going too, and then I'll decide."

"Your pardon, Daniel. My duties have prevented me from attending Judgment since soon after you arrived, and the issue never came up otherwise," Sujanha paused again, apparently deliberating how to explain, "Once some time ago, you were telling me about earth and its different empires of ages past, and you spoke of the Romans and of Caesar." Her pronunciation was lacking, but Daniel understood what she meant. "Judgment is like 'Appeal to Caesar.' Any of our people from across the empire, they can bring any matter before the King for judgment, not just court cases. Usually some members of the High Council are available to give advice to the king if warranted, and there are also seats for the monarch's spouse and for the highest ranked member of the royal family present."

"Sure, I'll come," Daniel would happily jump at the chance to learn more about the Furlings. Despite living with them for 18 of their months, there was always more to learn about the ancient race. "When does it start, and how long does it last?"

"Judgment happens on the third and seventh of every week. It starts at the 10th hour and lasts until the 14th hour. Visitors are not required to stay the whole time. Portions of the palace are open to the public, and Ruarc could show you around."

The Royal Palace was located on the Acropolis, some distance from military headquarters and the other buildings that Daniel usually frequented. Daniel and Sujanha beamed to the Acropolis at half-past the 9th hour and were met by Ruarc, who had gone ahead to find his brother, and Ragnar, and the four walked together to the palace. Daniel had noticed that Sujanha seemed more willing to walk slightly longer distances now that she was a host. Whether Malek was masking any pain, she was feeling better after a long period of rest, or Malek had been able to heal her partially, Daniel did not know.

The Royal Palace immediately caught Daniel's attention as soon as the intervening buildings blocking his vision were gone. It was a massive, multi-level complex surrounding by a high, steep defensive wall. The whole complex made him think both of several European palaces of which he had seen pictures and of ancient Troy. The walls were built of shining white stone that reflected the bright sunlight to an almost blinding extent when the angle was right. The style of architecture was simple, an almost old-world style that reminded Daniel of some sections of Cairo and several old cities in Europe.

"It's huge."

Daniel had not even realized he had spoken in his surprise until Sujanha replied, a rare catch in her voice, "Our family was larger once, much larger, before the Great War. Counting my brother's wife and ward, there are seven of us left."

"No Queen?" Daniel asked, doing the math quickly in his head.

"No," Ruarc replied. Daniel's comment had inadvertently hit a button, and the young man saw a look of grief pass across Sujanha's eyes, before Sujanha bled into Malek. Ruarc caught his arm and slowed their pace, allowing Ragnar and Sujanha to walk on ahead.

"I didn't know…" said Daniel, who felt a rush of guilt at the grief his words had caused.

"You couldn't have known," replied Ruarc, "Do not let it trouble you. The lady will be fine in a few minutes. To answer your question, there is no High Queen. Ivar's wife Sunniva died over 1200 years ago during the Great War before Andorr, the previous High King and the brother of Sujanha's father, died."

Ruarc would speak no more on the subject, and the two picked up their pace to catch back up with the others.

The inside of the Royal Palace was as interesting as the outside. They entered the palace complex through a tall, richly decorated gate, carven with motifs Daniel did not recognize. They walked across a grassy courtyard and up an impressive flight of steps, entering the palace itself. The architecture inside was somehow straightforward and elaborate at the same time. Somewhat Gothic in style, the ceilings of the floor they were on were towering, supported by massive rib vaults. Archways could be seen down several hallways, leading off into other chambers. Some sunlight filtered in from the outside through small, colored windows high on the walls, but most of the lighting came from the simple blue-flame lamps that lit the High Council Chamber.

While the architecture was very Furling, adapted to the function and importance of the building but still similar in many respects to the other buildings on the acropolis, the artwork and decoration that Daniel could see was more eclectic but not gaudy. "Gifts from other races," Ruarc whispered to him.

Sujanha split off from them, hulking Ragnar at her heels. Ruarc led Daniel in the opposite direction. "We need to go find a place to stand," he warned, "There are no seats, but no one is expected to stay the entire four hours."

Ruarc led Daniel to one of two large balconies that ran the length of the throne room. Ruarc was quickly recognized, and the crowd already there made way, giving the two a place at the rail. The throne room was massive, at least 30 feet across and 90 feet long. Narrowed vaulted colonnades, above which were the balconies, stood on either side of the main hall. The pillars of the colonnade ran up the walls until they merged into the rib-vaults that supported the high ceiling. A tall dais ran the width of the far end of the throne room. On it sat nine chairs, five on one side and four on the other side of another smaller dais that held three chairs: the monarch's throne and the chairs for his consort and another member of the royal family. The whole room was lit by larger versions of the blue lamps.

A crowd was already assembling in the hall, and there was a soft but controlled drone of voices. Sujanha had already taken her seat on the upper dais. Several of the High Councilors were also present. Kari, the Chief Ambassador of the Furlings and the only one who looked human, sat on the far left. The ursine figure of the Chief Engineer, whose name Daniel could not remember, was crouched beside Sujanha. Inga, the Chief Scholar, whom Daniel had often seen around the Great Library, was just arriving.

Ivar, the leonine High King of the Furling Empire, arrived in the throne room precisely at the 10th hour. Daniel thought Sujanha, who stood well over 6 feet, was tall, but Ivar was probably at least 7 feet tall, though it was hard to judge precisely from the balcony. He brought the meeting to order and began to judge cases one by one. Daniel and Ruarc stayed for about two hours and heard a number of cases, ranging from theft to property rights to inheritance struggles.

After two hours, the two slipped out, and Ruarc gave Daniel a quick tour of the sections of the palace open to the public, including a great mirrored hall, full of elaborate paintings of historical scenes, used to host large events as well as a smaller hall used for private audiences that contained paintings of late members of the royal family. Ruarc pointed out the figures of Sunniva, the king's late wife, as well as Atar and Ioldis, the parents of Sujanha who, the bodyguard revealed, had died within a year of each other during the Great War.

After their perusal of the palace, Ruarc and Daniel left the Citadel and went down to the Great Square to buy lunch and pass the time looking at the shops. Just before the 18th hour, they were recalled by Ragnar and returned to find Ragnar and Sujanha waiting for them in the shadow of the great gate. Leaning against the wall, Sujanha looked exhausted but reasonably pleased.

"How did your meeting go?" Daniel asked.

"Well enough," she replied, "The High King and I spoke for some time. He asked many questions and was pleased with my answers, I think. He has not yet made his decisions, but I deem he will rule in my favor."

"When will you hear?" Ruarc asked.

"Within three days. He is going off world tomorrow, or he would rule sooner. What time is it?"

"The 18th hour, almost exactly," Ragnar rumbled, double-checking the time on a chrono he pulled from a pocket.

"We should head to my brother's home soon then, but I want to stop at Headquarters first. I am missing my pocket chrono and a book. I think I must have had them with me in my office before I left for Vorash."

The side-trip to Headquarters that was supposed to be quick turned into a long affair. Sujanha was quite popular with both the Fleet and Army, and as soon as news spread that she was in the building, half the building congregated to greet her, ask after her health, and inquire as to when she was going to return. Algar was not unpopular with the fleet and was an extremely competent and reliable lieutenant, but Sujanha was widely loved.

By the time the four left Headquarters and stepped out onto the broad, flat plane of the Citadel, it was just past the 19th hour.

"I am going to my brother's house for the evening and then home," Sujanha spoke, turning to Ragnar and Ruarc.

"Will you have need of us tomorrow, do you expect?" Ruarc asked.

"Likely not," Sujanha replied, "I might go to Drehond tomorrow and put this leave to good use. If so, I will not need an escort."

"Then we will bid you good evening, Commander, Daniel. We will return to our quarters. If you have need of us tomorrow, contact us."

Sujanha and Daniel beamed out into the countryside and appeared on a broad paved street, its stones so finely carved that a sheet of paper would not have fit between them. Sujanha led them up the road about a hundred yards and then turned off onto a side road.

"The walk is pleasant and not that long," Sujanha said to him, "and it will ensure that we do not arrive too early."

"What time is dinner?"

"About the 20th hour, assuming my brother is not delayed."

The road was lined with tall trees, whose branches spread a canopy of leaves across the path. With the sun starting to dip toward the horizon, the trees cast long shadows across the road. No buildings were visible as far as Daniel could see, only trees and rolling hills and, perhaps, far away the shadow of a distant mountain range.

"It's nice out here," he commented, "A lot of places on earth are becoming very urbanized—very built up—jungles of buildings, some call them. It's nice to see green."

Sujanha gave a rumble of agreement, "Malek says he has not seen so many growing things, other than desert fare, since he was a … youngling. I am not sure of the right word."

A little further on, Sujanha and Daniel crossed a stone bridge over a swiftly moving stream. They went left at the fork and quickly caught sight of a small hamlet some distance down the road. All of the five houses, Daniel saw as they got closer, faced the same plaza but were separated and were each surrounded by a high, gated wall.

"Neither of my brother's children speak English," Sujanha spoke, "Ansurr is a very energetic boy and spends as much as time outside as Asta, my brother's wife, will allow. He is a good tracker and hunter for his age and might have a career in the military in the future … if my brother allows it. Tevra, my brother's ward, is the younger. She is Cesneor like Asik. Anarr was friends with her parents and became her guardian upon their death. She is a bright child and fond of books and poetry. If you tell her stories of your travels and the sites you have seen, those stories fit for young ears, she will become quite fond of you."

Sujanha stopped at the second house on the right as they entered the central plaza. The gate immediately opened when she touched the lock, swinging open to give them passage. Within was a medium-sized garden with flower bed and lush grass. Trailing vines crawled up one wall of a three-story stone house. Two children sat in the shade of a nearby tree. One was a Furling with dark fur. Ansurr. The other was a human girl, somewhat smaller than her companion. Tevra. The noise of the gate alerted them that company had arrived, and Ansurr looked up suddenly and then sprang to his feet with a cry of delight.

"Eadigu Sujanha," the boy shouted, bounding towards her. Daniel wasn't sure of the exact translation of the Furling term, but in context, it must have been equivalent to 'aunt.'

Sujanha seemed delighted to see them both and opened her arms, twisting her body so that her right side, recently injured, would not be impacted by the thud embrace. Ansurr seemed to remember that his aunt was still on medical leave at the last moment and slowed at the last second, impacting his aunt at a slower speed. A quick look of pain flashed across her face but quickly vanished.

"Father said you had been injured. Are you better now? He said he was going to make you come see us again. Lehris Brets took me hunting yesterday. We think we saw a vadron," the boy spoke in a rush of breath. A vadron, Daniel wondered. He was not up on Furling fauna.

"A vadron?" Sujanha replied, "You are improving. Your father will be proud. I am much recovered."

Ansurr seemed to beam under his aunt's praise. "I haven't told him yet. Father was gone yesterday, and he isn't back yet." He paused and turned toward Daniel, asking Sujanha, "Is this Ingevt Daniel?"

Daniel was not sure what Ingevt meant but put it aside for the moment. He crouched, putting himself more on the boy's level. "Yes, I am Daniel," he replied, "Lady Sujanha has spoken of you several times with great fondness. I am happy to finally meet you."

Ansurr bowed in the Furling fashion as a greeting but did not say anything more. By this time, Tevra had risen from beneath the tree and approached quietly. She was a small child, even for a human, with large brown eyes and a long braid of brown hair that fell across one shoulder. She was dressed in trousers and a loose tunic that fell nearly to her knees. Under one arm was tucked a thick book. Sujanha turned to greet her, and further introductions were made.

"Come see, Mother!" Ansurr finally said and, gently grabbing the sleeve of her jacket, began 'pulling' his aunt toward the house. It was clear that Sujanha was allowing herself to be pulled.

The inside of the house would have been called somewhat rustic by earth terminology, Daniel judged, but seemed quite homey and practical and fitting with the architecture and setting outside. They entered into a large living room with a high ceiling. At one end was a large spiral staircase that led to the upper floor. At the other there were two large doors, leading into the dining room and kitchen. Shelves filled with books, scrolls, and odds-and-ends, probably collected by the children, lined the walls. There were several comfortable chairs and 'couches' in the center of the room, covered in hand-made cushions and throws.

"Mother, mother," Ansurr shouted, as soon as the door had shut behind them, "Eadigu Sujanha is here." From his tone, he had been impatiently waiting for them for some time.

"Do not shout, my son," a calm, quiet voice responded. Anarr's wife Asta appeared in the doorway from the kitchen. She was feline in form and tall, willowy in build. Her fur was short and a light golden brown. Her face was darker and striped, and her eyes were dark and keen. "Go put your things away, children. Your father will be home soon."

Ansurr disengaged from his aunt, grabbed his sister's hand, and the two trotted off upstairs. Once the noise of their footsteps had faded, Asta shook her head fondly and approached to greet them.

"It is good to see you, Sujanha," Asta said, clasping paws with her sister-in-law, "We were all concerned when Anarr told us you had been injured."

"It was an unexpected event," Sujanha replied, "but one the Creator willed. I am only glad that more were not lost."

Asta agreed and then added, "And my greetings to your symbiote, also. He is welcome here."

Sujanha paused, her gaze going distant, "He greets you as well. He will not emerge while we are here, unless you ask to speak with him directly. Even without the tells of a symbiote, he does not act like me and does not want to frighten the children."

"I thank him for his consideration," Asta said with a nod of thanks. She turned to Daniel, still speaking half to Sujanha, "And this must be Daniel. I am pleased to meet you. I have heard much of you from my husband."

"Thank you for having me," Daniel replied.

The interesting evening passed quickly. Anarr soon returned home from wherever he had been. It was strange but touching seeing the usually gruffer and grimmer of the two siblings enthusiastically greeting his wife and children. Sujanha, also, seemed to be having a good time, free for a time from the pressures and stresses of command. The evening was pleasant; the food was simple Furling-fare but quite tasty; and the conversation was wide-ranging and interesting.

Daniel spent a considerable amount of time sitting with Tevra, telling her stories of his adventures and interesting tales from earth (sanitized where necessary) and listening, in return, to the stories of her people passed down from generation to generation. The Cesneors, he learned, were a dying race, nearly wiped out by the Sicarii during the Great War. Those who survived were too few (to repopulate their race, Daniel's mind filled in), and the Cesneors were slowly becoming extinct. Scholars on both sides were working frantically to preserve the stories, legends, and history of the Cesneors before the end came.

It was quite late when he and Sujanha reached home. The sun had long since set, and the stars were shining brightly, very brightly in the sky above. Daniel wished her good night and headed upstairs to head to bed, while Sujanha settled down in her library to do … something for a little while before herself retiring to rest. Daniel had barely had time to sit down in his room and unpack and pull off his boots, when a shout came from the staircase.

"Daniel, come down please!" It was Sujanha's voice calling him. Why she had not used the 'auto pilot' to give him the message, he did not know, but there was strange tone to her voice that concerned him. It was strange enough that she was shouting. Sujanha never shouted.

Daniel quickly stuffed his feet back into his boots and hurried downstairs. Sujanha was standing in the entrance hall next to a fully-dressed Ruarc.

"What's wrong?" Daniel asked.

"Nothing is wrong," Sujanha replied. He almost thought he saw a sheen of tears in her eyes.

Ruarc then spoke, "I have news for you, Daniel, very good news. First, our procedure to free Goa'uld hosts has been completed. As soon as the High King passes judgment upon the Goa'uld for their crimes, their hosts, including your wife, can be freed."

Daniel physically staggered, as at last he finally saw his dream of being reunited with Sha're about to become reality. He put a hand out to steady himself against the wall, and Sujanha stepped towards him, concern in her eyes. He waved her off.

"What else?" Daniel asked, his voice choked with emotion.

"Five hours ago, several Goa'uld warships, belonging to two separate factions, appeared in the skies above Ausonia, one of our held-planets in the Milky-Way. Though the Goa'uld did not seem to realize that we had a base on the planet, our ships immediately moved to intervene and end the battle. During the battle, a death glider crashed on the surface. When our guards went to capture the pilot, we found that it was not a Jaffa pilot, but a Goa'uld. The host had been injured and was temporarily in control. He called himself Skaara of Abydos and begged for our help."

"Skaara!" Daniel murmured, leaning heavily on the wall. Both Ruarc and Sujanha knew the relationship between Skaara and Sha're from Daniel having talked about him before.

"He has been tended to by healers and transported to Asteria. He will be freed with the others."

"The darkness is almost over for them both," Sujanha spoke, slipping one paw under his elbow, since he was looking rather shaky, "Healing can soon begin."

Chapter Text

Vekix, 6546 A.S. (January 2000)
Uslisgas, Asteria Galaxy

Events moved quickly after Ruarc brought news to Daniel of the completion of the medical procedure to free the hosts of captured Goa'uld. Three days later, Sujanha was reinstated as Supreme Commander of the Furling Fleet, and Algar returned to his former position as High Commander. The High King had felt, after considering the issue in great depth, that, while the High Council's stated concerns were not without merit, Sujanha was still fit to command and that her new ties to the Tok'ra would not be an undue influence on her.

On the morning of the fourth day, Daniel went with Sujanha to Idroth, one of the prison worlds used by the Furlings for holding captured Goa'uld and Jaffa. The Goa'uld who were first to be judged and had been held on Ardea had been moved to Idroth in the intervening days. Sujanha, for some reason, was personally overseeing the transfer of all the prisoners to Uslisgas to face the king's judgment.

Idroth was a snow-covered world that looked to Daniel like the forests of Siberia in the midst of a harsh winter. The Stargate was located in the midst of a large clearing surrounded by barren trees as far as the eye could see and no discernible paths.

Dusk had already fallen when Sujanha, Daniel, Ragnar, Ruarc, and four extra Iprysh bodyguards stepped through the Stargate onto Idroth. The sky was overcast, and a light snow was falling. Daniel was bundled up warmly, but the cold nipped at his nose and stung his fingers, which he hastily shoved into the pockets of his jacket.

How are we going to find our way through this? He wondered. Bad light. Cold. No path.

"Just wait," Sujanha said softly from her position just off of his right shoulder, seeming to read his mind. Boy she knows me well by now.

Daniel waited. The others seemed to be expecting the wait, not that with thick fur coats and armor the Furlings or Iprysh would have felt the cold. Ragnar and Ruarc fell into their usual formation just behind Daniel and Sujanha, and the Iprysh guards settled into a square-shaped formation around them.

The noise was the first clue of their arrival, the slightest crunch of freshly fallen snow or the snap of a branch carried on the still night air. Then Daniel felt the hairs on the back of his neck go up, as a sense of an incoming weighty presence fell upon them.

Then they arrived.

Four great beasts, not much shorter than Daniel himself, emerged from the long shadows of the forests. Like white sentinels, they paced toward the travelers, moving in perfect unison. The dinner-plate sized paws carried them easily over the deep snow, and if not for their movement, their pure-white coats would have allowed them to easily blend into the environment. Their eyes … their eyes, a bright vivid blue, were piercing, full of sharp intelligence, but with a promise of danger if crossed that could freeze a man's blood cold.

Daniel gulped and restrained himself from taking a step backwards. Oversized polar-bear sized tigers. This is new, even for Asteria. What next? Dinosaurs?

The beasts stopped less than 10 feet away. Sujanha stepped forward and was met in the middle by the largest of the four. She bowed her head in greeting and touched his massive head with one paw.

"Sharp-Claw and Long-Fang, but where's their father?" Ragnar whispered to his brother.

Ruarc made an indeterminate sound that could have meant anything from an acknowledgment of his brother's statement to a verbal shrug.

After a few moments, Sujanha stepped back and motioned for the others to follow single file. Two of the tigers, for lack of a better name, led them deep into the forest along a twisting route. The other two came behind, obscuring their tracks. The group probably only walked for about ten minutes, but by the end Daniel was completely lost. All the trees look like all the other trees.

The group stopped before a stone pillar that bore a great resemblance to the Asgard transporter on Cimmeria. Sujanha reached forward to touch it, and immediately all twelve of them were scanned. A white light engulfed them, and the humanoids were beamed away.

Like on Ardea, Furling prisoners were confined within a massive, elaborate, sprawling tunnel system deep below the surface of Idroth. The tunnels were broad, made of large, finely cut stones with construction that put even the sprawling complexes of the Serapeum at Saqqara or the Roman catacombs to shame. Periodically, the tunnels narrowed to choke points useful for defense in case of a breach.

Another Ipyrsh soldier met them (a commander, perhaps), and he and Sujanha began to speak at length there in the tunnel, but not in Furling. Sujanha seemed to know a considerable number of languages. Besides Furling, she knew English, Goa'uld, Ancient, the languages of the Asgard and the Dovahkiin, and apparently the language of the Iprysh, as well. Most Furlings did not seem to know that many languages. Perhaps, because she is a member of the royal house.

Daniel took a step backwards and asked Ruarc quietly, "Who were they? Those tiger-like creatures."

"The guardians?" Confirmed Ruarc. Daniel nodded. "The Azhuth. They are native to Idroth but have become more wide-spread. They serve as guards for us and, in return, we provide them with meat when the winters here are especially harsh."

After a few minutes, the conversation finished. Sujanha gave a curt nod and pivoted back toward her men, while the Iprysh (commander?) departed. "There will be a short delay. One of the prisoners, not Amaunet, is being uncooperative and is resisting preparation for transport."

The Furlings especially, but their allies as well, had no fond feelings for the Goa'uld, but would not stand for the mistreatment of prisoners either. There were no beat downs or drugs to subdue uncooperative prisoners. As long as the prisoner was confined and not a danger to himself or others, all the guards were allowed to do, for at least a short time, was wait the prisoner out, and most prisoners would eventually cooperate. In some cases, a prisoner could forcibly be transported (e.g., marched or beamed) as long as it would cause him (or her) no harm.

They were escorted to a quite large waiting room or conference room, which, seemed to be part of the 'officers' quarters. The Ipyrsh guards took up positions in the hallway outside, leaving Ragnar, Ruarc, Sujanha, and Daniel to wait inside.

Sujanha took one of the seats farthest from the door, and quickly her face went blank, as if all her attention was turned inward, a clear sign that she was speaking mentally with Malek. The two seemed to be getting along quite well and had ironed out how they switched control. Unlike the rest of the Tok'ra, Malek had stopped using the dual-flanged voice or bowing his head when switching control while among the Furlings, their allied races within Asteria, or the Asgard. (Considering Sujanha's golden eyes, the eye flash was barely even visible). Among the Furlings and their allies, where Sujanha was well-known, body language, speech patterns, pitch of the voice, and vocabulary all made clear who was in control. When members of the Tok'ra or Jaffa were present, Malek often fell back on the older method.

About fifteen minutes later, Sujanha's comm chirped. She straightened, her eyes coming back into focus. On the other side of the room, Daniel could not hear what was said in the quick conversation, but considering the resulting scowl that appeared and settled on Sujanha's face, she was not pleased.

"Commander?" Ragnar rumbled cautiously, when the hologram had disappeared from her gauntlet after a lengthy conversation.

"I fear we shall have a further delay," Sujanha began, "One of the Diagoth's generators failed while the ship was attempting to jump to hyperspace to come to Idroth."

From what Daniel had overheard at Headquarters the previous day, the Valhalla was still in the Milky-Way under the temporary commander of an old, experienced Furling named Ulfar. The Furlings were currently contending with the combined forces of Bastet and Kali, two crafty System Lords who had gained power in recent months capitalizing on the recent power vacuum among the Goa'uld. Sujanha had chosen to leave her flagship, one of the three most powerful ships in the whole fleet, in the Milky-Way where its power would be of more use, rather than have it return to Asteria to ferry her around on what would have been termed "house-keeping" missions or "milk-runs" on earth. The Diaogth must have then been the ship coming to transfer the Goa'uld prisoners to Uslisgas.

"When you say failed…" Ruarc asked when Sujanha paused.

"A critical overload." Which means, I'm guessing, the generator failed in a spectacular—explosive—fashion.

"The crew?" Ruarc's voice had gone suddenly strangled. Daniel wondered if he had friends onboard the ship.

"The explosion-suppression system did its job and kept the ship from being blown apart, but twenty are dead, many more wounded. The ship has major damage, including to its hull."

Ruarc sunk heavily into a chair, his expression stunned. His ears drooped, and Daniel thought he heard a low whine. Ragnar squeezed his brother's shoulder and asked, "Is it known what caused the overload?"

Sujanha shook her head, "This only happened an hour ago. Asik just received the report and immediately sent me the news. The Diagoth and nearby ships were too busy doing damage control in the meantime. What concerns me is whether this is an isolated problem on one ship or not."

All Furling ships were powered by neutrino-ion generators, a technology borrowed from the Asgard, except for the Flagships which also used some Ancient power source to power their primary shields.

A flat mechanized voice suddenly spoke from the doorway, where one of the Iprysh guards had appeared. "The Diagoth is one of the oldest ships in the fleet. Age or over-use could have contributed to the overload."

"It could have," Sujanha acknowledged, "or mishandling or maintenance failures or any other of a host of causes. Aegir was at Uslisgas on business for Thor, and he is going to tow the ship to Ocelum. Perhaps the engineers there can shed some light on this terrible accident."

"What are you going to do in the meantime? What about the other ships?" Daniel ventured to ask, his mind torn between his concern for the injured and his desire for the judgment of the Goa'uld not to be delayed.

"I … am unsure," Sujanha said slowly, "As far as I know, such a problem has never occurred, except perhaps on battle damaged ships, as long as we have used Asgard generators, and I do not know of any such occurrences among the Asgard either. The Diagoth is old, and I hope that a fault just with that ship is to blame, but am I willing to risk the lives of my soldiers across three galaxies on such a hope?"

"There could be construction differences between the Furlings and the Asgard even using the same plans," the Iprysh guard spoke again. While Daniel had nothing against any of the Iprysh personally, their mechanized voices set his teeth on edge.

"Again, it could have. There are too many possibilities and not enough facts. Most of the dead are among the engine crew, which will not aid answers."

"What are you going to do?" Ruarc asked, speaking again for the first time in several minutes.

Sujanha gave the Furling equivalent of a shrug, "I told Asik to have a fleet-wide warning sent out to all our ships in Ida, Asteria, and the Milky-Way, instructing the ships to conduct immediate checks of their generators and to exercise extreme caution when jumping to hyperspace. For the moment, until I know more, that is all I can do. … I could ground the fleet, but that would be potentially disastrous on multiple levels. The Asgard are depending upon our support in Ida, and if I ground my ships in the Milky-Way, they will be stranded far from our shipyards and my brother will have to pull back his troops, since I will not leave them unsupported, and the Goa'uld could regain back lost ground."

"Is Judgment going to be postponed?" Daniel asked the question most-of-all on his mind.

"NO!" Sujanha replied vehemently, "The Sul, an Iprysh warship, has been reassigned to transport us and the prisoners to Uslisgas."

Although several other races in Asteria had intra-galactic hyperdrives, the Iprysh were the only other race, besides the Furlings, to have inter-galactic hyperdrives. They possessed a large fleet of ships of various classes. Some were used for scientific purposes or for large-scale transport, while others were used for war. Daniel did not think he had ever seen an Iprysh ship or, if he had, had not recognized it as such.

"When will it arrive?"

"At least an hour. It's coming from Skeshan. The Ipyrsh have science vessels and transports closer, but they are reluctant for using those as prisoner transports."

"Agreed," spoke Ragnar, shooting his brother a concerned glance.

After an update was sent to the base commander concerning the unexpected situation, Daniel and the others settled in to wait. Sujanha spent the next hour almost entirely in conference with the holograms of six of her top commanders as well as Algar, Bjorn, Anarr, Thor, as well as an Asgard, an Etrair, a Lapith, and two Ipyrsh, all of whom Daniel did not recognize. They spoke in a mix of languages that they seemed to all understand but that made it impossible for Daniel to follow, though he made a few notes about the languages in a notebook that he always carried with him.

Sujanha lapsed into silence when the last of the holograms finally disappeared and remained silent for several more minutes, her gaze turned inward. Finally, she roused and looked around. The Ipyrsh commander, not one of the guards, had appeared in the doorway.

"The Sul has arrived," he spoke in a mechanical voice almost identical to the guard, "and the prisoners are ready for transport. The transport shuttle will arrive in a few minutes."

"Very good, Commander. I thank you," Sujanha said, rising (somewhat stiffly) from her seat.

The group was led out of the waiting/conference room down a series of tunnels. As they walked, Sujanha gave an update. "If there is no information on the cause of the Diagoth's overload by the time night falls on Uslisgas and there are no clues from the scans on our other ships, I am going to ground all ships of similar age with identical generator models as the Diagoth."

"How many ships will we lose for a time?" Ragnar asked.

"Too many," Sujanha replied, concern clear in her eyes, "I do not know the exact figures yet. If the worst happens and I am forced to ground those ships, the Etrairs, Lapith, and Ipyrsh have already pledged their full support. I will divide my remaining ships in Asteria between Ida and the Milky-Way. The Iprysh will send what ships they can to fill any holes in the Milky-Way, and the Lapith and Etrairs will temporarily become responsible for galactic security with oversight from Uslisgas."

"What can I do?" Asked Daniel.

Sujanha gave him a grateful look, "Remind me once we return to Uslisgas to have warnings sent to the Tok'ra and the Free Jaffa and to ensure word has reached the Dovahkiin of this situation. Their crafters and engineers would be of great use," her voice dropped in pitch to give a semblance of privacy, "Once that is done, you are released from all duties until Sha're is free and settled."

"Commander…"

"I managed without you for quite some time before your arrival, and as appreciative as I am of your presence, I can manage without you while you care for your wife."

The shuttle bay was a massive underground chamber filled with small flying crafts as well as boxes and pallets of supplies. The Iprysh craft that they were led to bore a striking resemblance to an oversized brick. Why do the Iprysh even need shuttles? Don't they have beaming technology like the Furlings and Asgard? The Furling seem quite willing to share their technology within the empire.

The prisoners were already inside, seated on benches along either side of the craft. The six Goa'uld—Cronus, Sokar, Nirrti, Heru'ur, Klorel, and Amaunet—reacted strongly to the arrival of Daniel and Sujanha, and several expressed themselves rather violently in their own tongue. Sujanha ignored them and went to the cockpit with Ragnar and a still unusually silent Ruarc. Daniel, after pausing in the doorway and looking back at his wife (oh, how he missed her), joined them.

After growing used to Furling technology and Furling ships, the Iprysh shuttle (and its crew, for that matter) was a distinct change of pace for Daniel. The inside of the shuttle was much darker than Furling crafts and had a distinctly sterile appearance that was even more futuristic and sci-fi-like than the Furling ships. Except when they had to check on the prisoners or speak to Sujanha, its crew was utterly silent and unnervingly still. Not even the hands of the pilots moved!

Now this is freaky!

The doors of the shuttle bay opened smoothly, and the ship lifted off, accelerating quickly into the atmosphere. The artificial gravity and inertial dampeners did their work, making the journey no bumpier than a car ride down a straight highway. In great contrast to the personal armor of its people, the Ipyrsh ship in orbit looked surprisingly frail. It was long and sleek with a smooth, gleaming hull. Unlike the vague hammer shape of Furling and Asgardian warships, the Ipyrsh ship was wedge-shaped with protruding engine bays at the rear.

Passing through an energy shield, the shuttle landed in a large bay area filled with supplies and other shuttles. The Goa'uld prisoners were escorted from the bay, presumably to temporary holding cells—the Iprysh guards went with them—and Sujanha with Daniel and her bodyguards were led up to the bridge to pass the journey.


It was around mid-day (Uslisgas time) when the Ipyrsh warship dropped out of hyperspace at the edge of the solar system in which Uslisgas was located. (The Iprysh hyperdrive seemed to be somewhat slower than its Furling counterpart.) Because of the high volume of space traffic that passed through that solar system on a daily basis, ships were not allowed to jump to hyperspace within the system's confines to prevent accidents. Traveling from Uslisgas to the system's edge via subspace engines was only a minor delay and inconvenience.

A shuttle transported Sujanha, Daniel, Ragnar, and Ruarc down to the citadel, while a separate shuttle transported Sha're and the other Goa'uld prisoners to a separate location to await the High King's judgment at sundown. (Daniel wondered again if the time had been symbolically chosen.) The whole citadel, and Headquarters especially, was in a state of organized chaos. The impact of the explosion on the Diagoth was clear in the worried glances, concerned frowns, hustle and bustle, and subdued voices of all. One ship; twenty or more dead; and a potential fleet-wide impact that could cause havoc in two wars in two galaxies at the same time.

"Remind me…" Sujanha said suddenly as soon as they reached her office, waving Asik and Jaax to join them inside.

Daniel took a seat even as he replied, "Make sure warnings are sent to the Free Jaffa and Tok'ra, and ensure a call has gone out to the Dovakhiin for assistance."

"Of course. Thank you. You are free then," Sujanha replied.

"I'll sit here for a while, if you don't mind," Daniel replied. He wasn't sure what to do with himself for the hours until sunset. He didn't really want to go home and wile away the hours alone. At least at Headquarters, he could sit and listen and scrawl notes and ideas in his notebook when he wanted.

Sujanha shrugged, "As you desire." She turned her gaze to her other aids, scrubbing one paw across her muzzle. The morning's disaster seemed to have temporarily aged her. "Any word from Ocelum or our other ships?"

"Yes, and no," Asik replied with grimace and a regretful look, "There have been no overloads or warning signs on any of other ships, so far. Thank the Creator! However, the engineers and workers at Ocelum have to wade through much debris to find and examine the ruins of the generator. They have already said that if both generators had been in the same compartment, there would have been a chain reaction, and the ship would have been lost."

Jaax picked up the narrative when Asik paused. Daniel always was amused watching them work in concert. They had a stereotypical-twin-like ability to finish each other's sentences and pick up the thread of the conversation where one had left off. "The wounded were transported to the Eir, which was closer than Uslisgas." He paused and then continued. "Five more have died of their injuries, but the healers expect the rest to survive."

The look on Sujanha's face was horrifying. She looked like she had been hit by a truck, and it was several moments before she could bring herself to reply. "Five more?! 25 dead from one ship. A tenth of the crew. There has not been a disaster ship-board this catastrophic since the Great War. What else?"

Asik continued, "The Ipyrsh will have their ships mobilized within a day. The Etrairs and the Lapiths will need at least another three days to get their full fleets ready to travel, but they say they can shorten that time if we can help them with food supplies in the short term."

"We can do that," Sujanha replied but then made a face, "Can I authorize that?"

Asik had to look up the answer, "You can, if it is from the fleet's stores of provisions. You need … the king's approval if it is from elsewhere."

"Check with the Lapiths and Etrairs, and see how many ships and how much food. If possible, take it from our stores, but if you do, make sure not to go below the buffer zone. If necessary, get the king's permission and take the necessary amount from the national storehouses."

"I hear and obey," Asik replied, "They did say that they would, of course, repay that debt at the earliest possible time."

Sujanha nodded, and then Jaax broke in, "Also, we received a message—addressed to you, your brother, and the High King—from Drehond from Great Queen Sariiz. She has heard of the disaster with the Diagoth, how we are not sure, and offers any assistance that the Dovahkiin can provide."

"Any details that we know of what happened, send them to Drehond and request that any engineers and metal-workers experienced with ships go to Ocelum to assist."

"Of course, Commander."

"As soon as that is done, send word to the Tok'ra and Free Jaffa … Actually, no. We cannot risk this information being overheard. Send a messenger to the Free Jaffa and another to the Tok'ra. Tell Master Bra'tac that I need to speak with him urgently. A planet of his choosing will work. Here would work better. Ask to speak with Selmak on Vorash, if possible. Martouf or one of the other Tok'ra with whom we have had personal dealings will work also."

"Of course, Commander."

Asik departed to have the messages sent, but Jaax remained, lingering by the doorway. "Do you have need of anything else for the moment?"

Sujanha thought for a moment and then asked, "Where is Bjorn? I need to speak with him about the current situation of the war with the Replicating Ones in Ida. There was no time to speak with him about that subject after the meeting, and I have not received a report from the Asgard recently."

"Bjorn and the Taygeta are currently returning from Ida, leaving Fleet Commander Narr in charge of current operations against the Replicating Ones."

"A risky choice," Sujanha noted, "I hoped he completed the checks of his generators first. The last thing I need is to lose one of my High Commanders."

"Our long-range sensors are currently tracking him. Considering his speed, he is almost certainly using the potentia to power the engines, not the generators."

"A reasonable temporary solution, though a poor long term one," Sujanha conceded, "Our cache of potentia is finite without another find, and we need them, first of all, for the shields."

Jaax nodded and departed with a promise to tell the High Commander as soon as he returned that Sujanha needed to speak with him. As soon as Sujanha and Daniel were alone, the commander gave a deep sigh and leaned her head against the back of her chair. She seemed very tired.

"On earth," said Daniel, "this would be one of those days where you wish you never got out of bed in the morning."

Sujanha gave a throaty chuckle that was more of a rumble, "We have had worse days, but it has been some years, thank the Creator."

"I know you said I'm off duty now, but is there anything I can do to help?"

Sujanha shook her head, "Messages have been sent out, and for now I think I must wait. Your presence here is enough."


The afternoon passed slowly for all parties involved. Sujanha was in meetings almost constantly, first with Bjorn, then with Jacob-Selmak, and finally with Master Bra'tac. The Supreme Commander had been out of commission long enough after the Vorash earthquake that both men, especially the old Jaffa master, were glad to see her recovered.

Daniel's nervousness increased as the afternoon went on. After two-and-a-half tortuously long years, his wait was at an end. Sha're would soon be free, and they would be able to be together again. Yet, he was uneasy that something would still go wrong when his dream was so near that he could almost touch it. Sujanha seemed to pick up on his discomfort, not that his tapping fingers, restless movements, and occasional sighs did much to conceal his uneasy thoughts. Though she had earlier declared he was free until Sha're was free and settled, Sujanha took pity on him and gave him periodic small errands to run just to give him a distraction.

Finally, the shadows lengthened, and the sun began to fall, painting the sky with rich hues. Sujanha closed off her screens and rose.

"It is time," she said, "Let us depart."

The king's judgment upon the Goa'uld would take place in the Palace where Daniel had been for Judgment Day not many days before. The crowds would be less, though. The Furlings allowed only select individuals to be present for court cases, besides those relevant to the matter of hand, and they did not have press, either. As someone had once remarked and Sujanha had quoted, "We are here so that justice might be carried out, not to create a public spectacle." Who would be present beside the High Council, the High King, and System Lords, Daniel did not know. He was, of course, allowed to be present since he was family of two of the hosts.

Sujanha spoke briefly with her other two aids, as they exited her office, telling them to send for her immediately if any news came from Ocelum or any of her other ships. She seemed to be taking this accident and the loss of her men as a personal afront.

The Throne Room (Hall) was about one-third full when Daniel and Sujanha arrived with Ragnar and Ruarc, a small crowd already having gathered around the periphery of the room. The entire High Council was present, now that Sujanha had arrived, and the High King was just entering. The number of the guards had also increased at least two-to-three-fold. Daniel took his place with the crowd near to the dais. Ragnar joined the other guards, while Ruarc stood beside Daniel.

Now they waited.

The waiting was short. Only a few minutes passed, and then as the sun touched the horizon outside, the six Goa'uld were beamed in.

Judgment was finally at hand.

The six Goa'uld were beamed into a circle in the middle of the great hall, and instantly a shield snapped up around them, hemming them in.

Daniel felt a lump in his throat, seeing Sha're so close. Hold on, my love. Just a little while longer now. Ruarc placed a paw on his shoulder in a gesture of encouragement.

High King Ivar rose from his throne and stepped down to the level of the main dais. He spoke first in Furling and then repeated his words in Goa'uld. His voice was not loud but carried well and was solemn, filled with gravitas, as befitted the occasion.

"Cronus, Nirrti, Heru'ur, Amaunet, Klorel, Sokar. For thousands of years, you and your fellow Goa'uld and System Lord have reigned over and terrorized the galaxy as false gods. As your recent defeats have indicated, your reigns are over. The Goa'uld empire has ended."

"You have been brought here to this court today to be judged," the king continued, "Backed by the testimonies of many witnesses who have told of crimes that cry out for justice, you are charged with the false imprisonment and suppression of your own hosts, with murder and torture of your subjects and your prisoners and even your own kind, and with human experimentation. Do you have any word to say in your own defense?"

The six Goa'uld all tried to reply at the same time. Some of the replies were unrepeatable in any sort of polite company, while most of the rest were of the "I am your god: who are you to judge me?" variety.

Ivar waited until the Goa'uld had shouted themselves out before calmly continuing, "For crimes innumerable and unutterable, I sentence you. Blood you have shed, and thus your blood shall be shed. This is my decree under heaven on the 29th of Vekix. Thus, shall it be."

Daniel blinked back tears. It's over, finally over. For Sha're and Skaara. He thought of Kasuf on Abydos with Shifu, a father bereft of his children. Soon. Soon.

The Asgard beams activated, and the six Goa'uld disappeared.

Slowly, the crowd dispersed, but for several minutes Daniel stood frozen, mind trying to comprehend that his dream had finally come true and sending up thanks for the situation that had led him to the Furlings in the first place. Finally, Ruarc roused him with a gentle nudge when Sujanha approached from the direction of the dais. Anarr was waiting a polite distance away.

"My heart is glad for you," she said, "to see that your wife will soon be no longer plagued by the demon's presence."

"Where are they taking her?" Daniel asked, his voice rough.

"The Halls of Healing. Our healers are ready to immediately extract the symbiotes, which then will be handed over to the army for the king's sentence to be carried out."

"Can I go there?" Daniel asked.

"Of course," Sujanha replied, "The Halls are open to all who have need of healing of any kind and to the family of those in the healers' care. I do have need of Ruarc, though."

"I know the way," said Daniel. At least, I think I do.

"Then go," said Sujanha kindly, "One of us will check on you later, but for now there is fleet business to deal with."

Daniel was too tired and too distracted to ask here if there was any news but figured someone would update him later.


A watched pot never boils.

A watched pot never boils.

A watched pot never boils

A watched pot never boils

Daniel reminded himself frequently, as he paced the clinically sterile, cookie-cutter halls of the Halls of Healing. After years of waiting, he was done waiting any more, and years seemed to pass for every hour that he had spent at the Halls since the High King had declared judgment.

One pass of the hall.

Two passes.

Three passes.

Four.

Five.

Six.

Eventually, Daniel lost count. He was a relatively patient man by nature. Archaeological discoveries and complex translations did not come at the snap of one's fingers. They took time and patience. Took over twenty years for hieroglyphs to be deciphered after Napoleon's campaign. But Daniel was out of patience.

Daniel paused on his umpteenth circuit of this particular hallway/seating area where he had been told to wait. He checked the chrono in his pocket. Only two hours! It can't be.

The Halls were quiet, since there only a few hours left in the day. Daniel wished fervently for company. There was nothing worse than waiting alone for news at a hospital/doctor's office (or the inter-galactic version thereof). He wondered what Sujanha and the others at Headquarters were doing, if any news had come or whether she would be forced to ground most/all of the Fleet. He could not comprehend the amount of weight resting on her shoulder's right now as she tried to balance her concern for the lives of her men and the two ongoing wars that her ships were waging. Talk about the Sword of Damocles. He wondered also how Ruarc was. He hadn't been the same all day since the news of the Diagoth had arrived.

Daniel paced. And paced some more, leaving the hall only once for a short time just long enough to get some food and a mug of spiced tea. He knew that he would be fussed at vigorously as only a Furling could if he didn't take care of himself. Getting scowled at by a Furling was quite an experience!

Finally, his waiting was over. One of the chief healers working on the project to free Goa'uld host emerged out of a side corridor and approached Daniel. There was a stain of blue blood on her apron, but her expression was pleased, or as pleased as Risa could manage to look. Risa was, as best Daniel could tell, a half-breed in the most literal and least derogatory sense of the word. Her appearance indicated that she was half-Furling and half-Lapith, which made her look more intimidating than she actually was. Her bedside manner would beat many physicians Daniel had been forced to deal with on earth, but she often talked almost as technically as Sam did on a role.

"The procedure appears to have been successful on both your wife and her brother, Doctor Jackson," Risa began. Daniel sank to a seat with a sigh of utter relief. He would never forget how disastrously the attempt to free Charlie Kawalsky had turned out.

Risa continued, "Work continues on the others so I can only stay a few moments. Your kin are being tended to and will be moved to isolation chambers until they wake from their drugged sleeps on the morrow. You will be allowed to sit with them both, if you wish, but you must stay outside the shields."

Daniel could understand their caution. Extractions could seem successful at first but fail in the end. The last thing the Furlings needed were Goa'uld lose on their homeworld. "Of course," he replied, "Can I stay until morning?"

"Yes, though there are only chairs and no beds." The Furlings apparently had no concept of visiting hours.

"That won't bother me." I've had worse between digs and bedside watches at the SGC.

Daniel visited Skaara briefly—he looked peacefully asleep, a far cry from the last time Daniel had seen him during Apophis' attempted invasion of earth—and then settled in for a long night by Sha're's bed. The healers had gone great length to care for her and make her comfortable. She was dressed in Abydonian clothing, probably brought from her cell, and covered in Abydonian blankets. Her long, dark hair had been washed and carefully brushed and plaited to keep it out of her face until she had time to care for it herself. Her face was peaceful and serene, the slightest hint of a smile at the corners of her mouth. The trials of the past years had melted away, and Daniel could almost imagine, if the room were different, that they were still on Abydos.

Daniel touched her cheek gently, murmuring a greeting in Abydonian, and then settled down in one of the two chairs. A healer appeared from time to time to check on Sha're, but largely he was left alone with his thoughts.

A few hours, the door opened again. The lights were low, except for the glow of a lamp next to the bed, and it took Daniel a long moment to realize that it was Sujanha and not another healer.

Sujanha gave Sha're a wary glance before moving the second chair quietly and taking a seat next to Daniel. "Malek says I must not be here when she wakes," the commander spoke in an undertone, "lest she sense him and the naquadah in our bloodstream and become frightened, but I can stay for a time if you do not mind my presence."

"Of course not," Daniel replied, feeling a hint of concern as he looked at her. She seemed even more exhausted than earlier, "It's too quiet here, too much time to think." He was used to the beeping of machines in hospital rooms.

"I have been in your place before," Sujanha said without explanation, "And I cannot say that I do not feel the same."

"How are things at Headquarters?" Daniel asked, wishing both for a distraction and an update.

Sujanha gave a rumble-groan, "Not well. Bjorn has returned from Ida, and he and Frár are overseeing matters until morning. Anarr and I are supposed to be going home to rest."

"I won't tell."

"As you say, there is good news and bad news as to the situation with the Diagoth. The fault with its generator has been discovered after an inch-by-inch search of the wreckage and a disassemblage of the remaining generator. Apparently, due to the heavy wear on the generators over the last several thousand years" (the timeframes on which the Furlings dealt still took a bit of getting used to) "several small components deep in the mainframe wore down, damaging the failsafe mechanisms, thereby allowing the overload to occur."

"That's a relief. That you found the problem, that is. So, what's the bad news?"

"Now that our engineers know what problems to look for, the High Command was able to assemble a list of the ships that must be grounded while their generators are replaced or repaired. So far, however, this problem is appearing on almost all of our ships, not built within the last four centuries or retrofitted with updated generators at the end of the Great War."

"When you say 'almost all,' how many is that?" Daniel asked. He was getting a VERY bad feeling of where this was going.

"All three of our flagships are in good condition. Even if they were not, we could still power the hyperdrive with the potentia for a short time. Our relief ships" (what the Furlings called the 'hospital ships') "were all built within the last century during the preparation period for this war, and the same applies to most of our troop carriers."

Those three classes of ships accounted for only about 1/11 of the entire Furling Fleet, not counting the contingents from other races that were only rarely called up for service.

"The same is not true for the other warships, I'm guessing?"

Sujanha shook her head with a curl of her lip and a dark growl. "Of 200 motherships and 100 cruisers, spread between Algar and Bjorn's fleets, I just had to ground about three-quarters of each. I have less than 100 of my own warships with which to wage two wars in two widely-separated galaxies and protect my own galaxy."

"What about the ships from the Ipyrsh and the others?"

"The Ipyrsh have a very limited number of warships to deploy, since they only have to protect their homeworld and a handful of nearby outposts. The Lapith and Etrair ships can manage galactic security as long as their supplies last but are not equipped to face powerful enemies."

"We'll survive. You survived the Sicarii. This is only a temporary setback."

"Survival was never in doubt," Sujanha acknowledged, "What concerns me is how much territory we will lose before my ships are fixed. I cannot leave my brother's garrisons unsupported. We'll have to pull back from Bastet's territory for now. We have to focus on protecting our major strongholds, allied worlds, and important captured planets."

"Makes sense."

Silence fell for a short time. Sujanha seemed to be temporarily lost in thought or simply introspective.

Finally, she asked quietly, almost sadly, "What do you plan to do now, Daniel? Your wife is free. Will you return to Abydos and your son?"

"I don't know yet. It will depend on what Sha're wants. I want to be a family again, but I also would like to stay if possible. I've become quite attached to this place."

Sujanha's eyes smiled, "And I have grown quite used to your presence. I want what is best for you both, but I would be loath to see you leave."

"Thank you. The main consideration with staying is space. I need a place with enough space for all three of us."

Sujanha tilted her head, her brow furrowing, "Your room, at least by our standards, is large enough for two adults to sleep, and the room across the halls if yours if you wish it."

"But you're using it?"

"Only for storage," Sujanha countered in a soft voice, making a dismissive gesture with one paw, "Some of those things have been there for centuries. I need to clean it out eventually, but I can easily move it for the moment. You could use that room for your boy."

Daniel was floored by her generosity. "That's very … very generous of you. But are you sure you would want all three of us in the house? Shifu's not even a year-and-a-half yet."

Sujanha shrugged, "I like children. I have none of my own and never will. His presence will not trouble me, and I am often away. Your wife and son could have the run of the house except for my library and bedroom." She paused and then clarified her last statement, "Your wife would be welcome to my books but not …"

"No babies, please, among your collection, I understand," Daniel smiled and thought of the havoc a child could wreck in his office at the SGC full of artifacts, books, texts, and the like. He wondered what had happened to all his stuff there and at his apartment. "I'll think about your offer and talk with Sha're later."

"Of course. I should go sleep," Sujanha said, starting to rise, "Morning is going to come too early. Do you need anything first?"

Daniel shook his head, and Sujanha slipped out as quietly as she had come.


For Daniel, unlike Sujanha, morning seemed to come much too slowly. The chair was not the most comfortable, and he only dozed, waking at slight noises. As the night passed, Sha're began to rouse slowly, making small movements or low noises in her sleep.

Murphy's law, Sha're finally awoke when Daniel had stepped out for a few minutes to use the bathroom and buy a mug of tea in the 'cafeteria.' He heard raised voices as he neared her room and hurried forward. Risa was inside the room but outside the shield that surrounded Sha're's bed and was trying to talk with her. Risa's strange appearance seemed to have frightened his wife—all of her guards on Ardea had been human—and Sha're had retreated to the far end of the bed and was only answering in Abydonian.

Does Risa even know English? Daniel wondered. A growing number of Furlings knew English because of the military's dealings with the Tok'ra and Free Jaffa, since English was preferable to Goa'uld. Outside the military, however, there were fewer who knew the language.

Daniel hurried inside, setting his mug down with a little too much force on a nearby table, sloshing the contents. With a little mental effort, he switched his brain out of Furling back into Abydonian.

"Sha're, my love, it's alright. Risa is a friend, a healer. She wants to help you."

Sha're's gaze immediately snapped from the strange-looking alien over to Daniel at the sound of his voice. She tried to rise and move toward him but was blocked after only a few steps by the flare of a blue shield.

"Dan'yel?" Sha're asked, her gaze on a continual moving loop around the room, "Where am I? What is happening?"

"Everything is alright. You're in the healer's … tent on my world among the Furlings. They took the demon from you." Sha're nodded her understanding. "They wanted to make sure that the procedure had worked, that it was you, who woke up, my love, not the demon in hiding."

"The demon is gone?" Sha're asked. She seemed to want confirmation. "The nightmare …"

"It's over," Daniel confirmed, stepping forward until he was just on the other side of the shield from her. He longed to hold her in his arms again but knew he had to be patient just a little while longer. "Skaara is free, too. He's still asleep, just down the hall."

"I thought," Sha're murmured, her brow furrowing, "I heard his voice—Klorel's voice," she spat, "The demon took my sight, but I felt her fear, and sometimes her strength wavered."

"Doctor Jackson?" Risa prompted in Furling, breaking into their discussion, "Can you confirm independently that the person speaking is your wife, not the Goa'uld?"

"Yes," Daniel nodded, "That's Sha're speaking. I know her mannerisms, her way of speaking." Even Malek would not have been able to mimic Sujanha that well, and he had tried once, at the Commander's request, as an experiment not long after the two were hosted.

Risa nodded, made a few more notes on the tablet cradled in her left arm, and then swiped a hand through the air to bring up a holographic screen. Sha're flinched backward in surprise—floating holographic screens, except on a peltak, were not a thing among the Goa'uld—and Daniel murmured something soothing in Abydonian.

In moments, the shield around Sha're's bed fell. "She is free to move around this facility with an escort—since she does not speak our tongue—but is not yet free to leave. Speak to one of the healers if she is in need. Someone will check on her in a few hours," spoke Risa.

"Thank you!" Daniel replied with heartfelt sincerity, "Can you make sure the Supreme Commander is informed?"

"Of course," Risa replied. She bowed once to Daniel in the military fashion and again to Sha're and then departed.

Daniel took a slow step forward after the door had slid shut behind Risa and opened his arms. He could not imagine how Sha're had suffered at the hands of the Goa'uld (and of Apophis). He wanted to leave her room to make the choices now. Sha're, though, had no hesitation and immediately threw herself into her husband's arms and began to weep.

After much weeping, apologizing, and explaining (on both sides), Sha're and Daniel sat down on her bed and began to talk. Her first question was for their son.

"What about the boy? Where is he? Is he safe?" Sha're asked, showing clearly the result of her knowledge gaps because of Amauent's attempts to blind/deaf/silence her host while Daniel was present, and what news she had gotten from her guard that one time was grievously out of date.

"Shifu's safe. He's on Abydos with your father," Daniel replied, rubbing his hands up and down her arms in a soothing gesture, "He's 14 months old by Earth's measurements and is growing quickly. He's a very sweet natured boy. I have pictures." He started patting down his pockets, looking for the picture stone that he had gotten soon after he arrived on Uslisgas. "Actually, I don't have it with me right now, but I'll bring them soon."

"But he is harcesis," Sha're protested, her brow furrowing, "the demons, they will hunt him."

"The System Lords are falling one by one," Daniel explained, "The Furlings have been waging war on them for the past nine months … moons, and many have fallen. Abydos is carefully guarded."

"It is forbidden because of his knowledge. It will harm him."

Daniel shook his head, "The Furling healers have technology. They blocked Shifu's access to his memories. He is safe." How exactly they had accomplished that miracle, Daniel did not know.

Sha're sagged with relief. "Can I see him?"

"Soon. Once you're strong enough and the healers release you, we can go to Abydos—I know my good-father will want to see you and your brother—or I can bring Shifu here. It's your choice."


Sha're and Skaarra stayed in the Halls of Healing for four days before the healers allowed them to leave. They then spent another three days on Uslisgas in quarters allotted by the Furlings before they were allowed to return to Abydos, the intervening time being another check that no unexpected problems arose. Of the other hosts, Cronus and Sokar's hosts had died at peace, their bodies overtaken by rapid aging without the presence of their symbiotes. Since knowledge of their original homeworlds had been lost in the intervening years, the Furlings had buried them in their own fashion among their own dead on Numantia. Nirrti's host as well as Heru'ur's had fortunately survived, those both were traumatized in the extreme.

Sha're, Skaara, and Daniel returned to Abydos, as soon as the two former hosts's travel restriction were lifted. It was good to spend time as a family at peace, far from wars and travails. Only the shadows in the minds of Sha're and Skaara darkened the trip, and those scars would take many years to heal.

Eventually, after several weeks, it was time to return to Uslisgas. Skaara had elected to remain on Abydos with his father and his people, though the Furlings would have allowed him to remain in Asteria if he had so wished. Sha're, on the other hand, after thoroughly considering Sujanha's offer, had agreed to move into the Supreme Commander's house. Thus, Daniel was going to get the best of both worlds: his family with him and Uslisgas.

Daniel knew that there would be setbacks in the future, but for now life was good. He has his wife and his son, and they were all together, safe, in the same place for the first time in several years. Life was good.