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Keys to the Gate (2/3)

Title: Keys to the Gate
Fandom: The Pretender/7 Days/Stargate SG-1
Genre Crossover
Word Count 9713
Summary Jarod is diving off the Florida Keys and discovers a site that bears an unfamiliar alphabet. There's only one man he knows he can call to interpret them: Dr. Daniel Jackson.
Follows Trust Someone, 7 Days to Pretend, Building a Better Mousetrap, Thicker Than Water and Brave New World
Author's Note This is the latest in my ongoing Pretender crossover series. If your curious as to how the characters arrived where they are, you can read the others but I don't believe that it's necessary to enjoy this one. I'd like to thank Shad, Leanne, Heidi, and Laura for helping flesh out the story and answering plot questions. It's been sometime in the making (almost a year) but it's been sitting waiting for a few points to be cleared before posting. Please enjoy and don't forget to tell me what you think!



KEYS TO THE GATE by DTS
(A Pretender/7 Days/Stargate SG-1 crossover)


"I guess that's it for now, people, until we get Jarod's test results."

"You're going to let him stay, sir?" asked Carter.

"With what he knows and what he can do, it's the best thing."

"If he does possess the Ancient gene in addition to his other abilities, he would be a great asset for the Goa'uld. We cannot let him leave."

"If that's the case, we'd be no better than those people who took him as a child," Carter argued.

"It wouldn't be forever, Carter. We just have to keep him confined to base until we learn a few more things."

"Yes, sir."

The phone rang and Jack picked up the receiver. "O'Neill."

"Sir, there are two people here who wish to see you."

Jack groaned. Just what I need. "You can't pawn them off on someone else?"

"No, sir, they asked for you by name. They are with the NSA."

NSA? What the hell do they want? "Did they tell you what they want with me?"

"No, sir. Only that they needed to speak with you."

Jack sighed. "Very well. I'll meet them on level 19."

"Very good, sir. I'll have them escorted down."

Jack replaced the receiver and stood. "I have to go meet some visitors from the NSA," he told Carter and Teal'c. "I have to find our what it was that brought them here."

"Would you like me to accompany you, sir?"

"I don't think that's necessary, Carter. I think I'll be able to handle two agents. Carry on, you two."

Jack headed for the elevator and was surprised when the doors slid open to reveal Daniel and Jarod. "That was quick. Doc get everything she needed?"

"A blood sample and a swab from the inside of my cheek," Jarod answered. "She was very efficient."

"She has to be considering what we deal with." He stepped into the elevator and pressed the button for level 19.

"What's goin' on, Jack? You don't go up to that level unless you're on the way out."

The doors slid closed and the two stayed. Jack knew it was a waste to argue with Daniel so let them come along. It might benefit his story if he had two scientists with him instead of airmen or officers. "There are two NSA agents who specifically asked for me so I thought I'd meet them up on level 19. It would be hard for them to try anything."

Jarod seemed a little stunned by the news. "NSA?"

"They're not after you, are they?" questioned Daniel.

"Oh, no. If they're who I think they are, quite the opposite."

"If you do know them, remember, not a word about what you've seen today," Jack warned. The man saluted smartly and properly, supporting his story.

The doors slid open and the three men strode through the halls until they came to a room set aside for visitors. The airmen standing guard saluted before moving aside. Jack opened the door expecting to see two men in cheap suits but instead saw a stunning brunette dressed in casual pants and top along with a scruffy man in jeans and a leather jacket. There was something about the man that nagged at his brain. Why does he seem familiar? He entered the room. "I'm Gen. O'Neill. I believe you were looking for me."

The man stood and walked over. "When I heard the infamous Jack O'Neill got promoted to general, I had to come see for myself."

Daniel and Jarod entered the room behind Jack. "Frank! Miss Parker! What are you doing here?" Jarod came forward and shook them both by the hand.

"I'm just following my line of research," the woman, Miss Parker, answered. "Frank then stuck his nose in and got us here." She stood and walked gracefully to Jack. "As they have been sadly neglected, allow me to make introductions. I'm Mira Parker and this is my brother Frank."

"I was told you were with the NSA." Jack was not going to let the fact that they were friends of Jarod change his approach to their presence on the base.

"We are, but we're not here on NSA business," said Frank.

"I believe that's my fault," put in Jarod. "I was a little curious and asked Miss Parker to check up on you."

"I never said Jack's name," said Daniel.

"You did, on the phone. I pieced that together with the recent promotion, location, and Air Force then asked Miss Parker to look you up on her computer. I didn't think you'd come here."

"I wasn't planning to, but Frank said he knew the general."

"And I do. I just don't know why Jack doesn't remember me. I'm told I make a strong first impression."

He stared at Jack, making him uncomfortable. He says he knows me, but do I know him?

"Probably not a good one," his sister commented. She looked at Daniel with great interest. "I made introductions, Jarod. I think it's time you return the favor."

Jack could have laughed at the face Jarod made. "As you may have guessed, Miss Parker, this is Dr. Daniel Jackson, the friend I told you about."

Frank Parker. Frank Parker. Damn! I know that name. Jack watched the man in question as he drummed his fingers on the table. Annoying habit. I was ready to kill a guy doing that in-- "Bosnia."

Frank grinned. "I knew you'd remember, Jack."

"Last I heard, you were in the loony bin."

"Always one for tact weren't you? The NSA sprung me. The needed a man of my talents."

"That desperate, were they?" Jack sat at the head of the table and everyone else joined him. "So, why are you here?"

"It's as Mira said. Jarod called asking for help. Mira had your info and I said I knew you and here we are."

"And how did you get here?"

"We had a friend at...our base say they needed to come to NORAD and we hitched a ride."

"So no one knows you're down here."

Mira smiled coldly. "They don't know we're here on this level, but we will be missed if we don't show up later."

"Miss Parker, I don't think that's the reason Gen. O'Neill asked the question." Jarod looked at him. "Right?"

"'Course not. With all that goes on here, we have to be careful."

"Understood," remarked Frank and Jack felt that the man could relate.

Daniel coughed discreetly. "So, uh, Jarod is the only reason you're here, nothing else?"

"I've known him practically all my life," Mira Parker replied. "We've been through a lot together and I felt I could help him."

A loud alarm began blaring throughout the complex. "Oh, for cryin' out loud! Now what?"

*******************************************************

Upon returning to the shore, Agrona headed for her temporary base of operations: the third floor of a dining establishment. Despite all the protestations of advancement, humans were still superstitious, believing the spirits of the dead still walk among the living. She took advantage of one such legend, keeping people away from the rooms she had taken over.

She had to make contact with Ba'al and give a status report regarding her mission. She had failed. SG-1 had the device and the Asgard were in the area. She activated the visual long-range communication device and the stern visage of her lord appeared. She bowed her head in proper obeisance.

"Agrona. What have you to report?"

"I located the site of the Ancients, my lord. Unfortunately, SG-1 had already learned of it, removing the power source. I confronted them and was about to take it when the Asgard interfered, transporting them away to safety."

Ba'al growled in anger and frustration. "I dare not approach further due to the presence of Thor's ship above Earth. Most likely he returned them to the SGC. They may have the device but do not know its use."

"My lord, there was an increase in power before Jackson and another man surfaced. I believe this other man may have an affinity for Ancient technology."

Ba'al thought on her words. "I cannot let what befell Anubis at the hands of SG-1 happen to me. You must retrieve the device and the man. I shall send you the coordinates of SG-1's base. You will need to find your own way as I cannot risk discovery by helping you any further."

"Yes, my lord." Agrona memorized the coordinates that scrolled across the sphere before communication was shut down. She was expecting more of a tirade but his acceptance of what had happened and ordering her to continue made her realize how important this mission was. She had to find a way to get to this base. Judging by the coordinates, it was some distance. She would need one of their primitive flying machines-an airplane-to make the trip in a short time. Her next step decided, she gathered all she brought with her and headed down the steps. Once outside she blended with gawking tourists and walked towards the east.

At the airport, she watched the arrivals and departures from the edge of the tarmac deciding on which style of conveyance would best suit her purpose. Not too long after her arrival, a sleek jet landed, and, because only one uniformed man disembarked-most likely part of the crew--she knew it was privately owned and easier to commandeer. She strode to the jet, ignoring the calls and yells of the workers about her. She climbed the steps and confronted the sole occupant, her hand device glowing. "You will take me to my destination and maybe I shall spare your worthless life!"

The man in the cushioned seat was dressed far better than those she had seen on the island. She saw a moment of fear in his eyes that soon disappeared. She could sense he was acting differently than other humans she had used; they quaked, cowered, pleaded, or defied. No, this one schemed, trying to find out to use this to his advantage. This one will bear watching.

"We do need to refuel, but I'm sure we can make some sort of arrangement. Please, sit down. Would you like some refreshment?"

Even though this one does not treat me as a god, he treats me at least as one to be honored. She lowered her hand. "Refreshment would be most welcome."

He gave her a crooked smile before standing and walking to a cabinet where a varied collection of drinks was lined. He poured her a glass of some amber liquid and she could smell the alcohol so loved by these humans. "Here you are..."

"I am Agrona, that is all you need know." She accepted the proffered glass.

He resumed his seat across from her. "I am Mr. Lyle."

**********************************************************

At the sound of the alarm, Frank was on alert, waiting to see what the others would do as this wasn't his neighborhood. It had to be something major because nothing else would keep the Jack O'Neill he knew playing nursemaid to a bunch of scientists. Speaking of which, why was a doctor wearing fatigues? Jack and the doctor rushed out the door, and, after a slight hesitation, Jarod followed.

Frank jumped up and nudged his sister. "C'mon, let's go!"

With a groan of impatience, she joined him. "What are we doing?" she hissed as they raced down the corridor.

"Trying to catch up with them so we're not left out of the action."

"Frank, this is a high-security installment. There's no way we'll be able to sneak in."

"We won't be sneaking. We'll be riding down the elevator with the commanding officer."

"Great, so we'll be worming our way in," he heard her grumble.

Frank spotted the three men waiting at the elevator. If they're taking the time to wait for an elevator, stairs must not go where they need to. "Third floor, ladies' lingerie."

"What the hell are you doing here, Parker?" Jack demanded.

"When alarms go off in a high security facility, I worry. You know me, Jack. I can help you here and so can Mira."

The elevator arrived and the doors slid open. Jack went inside and Frank stuck to him like a barnacle. The others had no choice but to slip inside. "Parker, this is a top secret facility with highly limited knowledge of its existence outside these walls. I'd have to go through channels and--"

"Um, Jack, that argument won't work," put in the doctor, Jackson. "You've let Jarod walk about freely."

"Yeah, well, that's because he can--"

Jarod interrupted. "Jack, Frank and Miss Parker work for another top secret government facility that I think is even more secret than yours. I would say their clearance should be high enough to be granted access."

"Jarod, what are you doing?" Frank knew the pretender was up to something, he wish he just knew what.

"And you're supposed to be a genius. Christ, Jarod, you could be shot for this."

"Miss Parker, if you know each others' secrets that adds a matter of trust. You've all saved the world numbers of times but can't share with anyone out there. You can't tell on them without the fear of them retaliating by telling on you."

Frank caught on to what Jarod was doing. It was the same premise that had so far prevented nuclear strikes. "We use technology retrieved from the Roswell to travel back in time seven days to avert major disasters." Frank stared at Jack, waiting for reciprocation.

"Fine," Jack growled. "We have an ancient alien device that allows us to travel through wormholes to different planets."

Whoa, no wonder they kept that secret.

The doors slid open. "Jarod, take them up to the briefing room. You'll get a view from up there." Jack and Daniel left.

"I'm impressed," said Mira as they walked the corridors. "The base commander knows what you are and still lets you walk around unescorted."

"I think it's because of getting caught up in something they can't explain away. I also had Daniel to vouch for me."

"So, what is the deal here?" Frank asked him. "There's got to be more to this than just traveling to other planets."

"Daniel gave me the basics," Jarod started as they arrived in the briefing room. "There was a race that was here eons ago that they refer to as the Ancients. Now, the Ancients built that." Jarod motioned out the large window that filled almost all the opposite wall.

Frank walked up to the window and looked out at a huge ring about nine to ten feet high with what he guessed to be alien writing around the outside. The middle was covered with a giant shutter that probably opened and closed for them to travel. There was a strange glow coming from behind it. "What is that?"

"It's called a Stargate and the Ancients had a network of these all over the galaxy. After the Ancients disappeared, another race discovered the Stargates and used them to their own purposes. They came to Earth periodically and used human beings as slaves, transporting them to other worlds."

"How did they get the people to leave?" questioned Mira.

"They would also masquerade and the culture's main gods and force them."

"These aliens look like us?"

"No. The aliens themselves are snake-like parasites that inhabit human bodies. There are basically two ways to be sure someone is 'possessed': the eyes glow and their voice takes on a deeper timbre."

Still looking out the window, the visitors noticed a strange shimmering just in front of the ring-Stargate. It formed into a body, through transparent. It had to be a hologram. "Son of a bitch!" brother and sister exclaimed.

******************************************************

Sam looked up as Jack and Daniel strode into the room. "We have an unscheduled wormhole, sir. There's been no communication, no attempt at contact, nothing. They must be keeping it open for a purpose. We just haven't figured it out yet." She looked past them. "Where's Jarod?"

"Upstairs with the NSA agents," Jack answered, distracted.

"What? You let them see the Gate?"

"Is there anyway to trace where this is coming from?"

Sam accepted the fact that he ignored her question. "We can't seem to get a lock on it. We just--"

At that moment, a hologram formed on the ramp in front of the gate. "I have been waiting for your arrival, O'Neill. Now we may start negotiations."

"Negotiations? Ba'al, what have we to negotiate?"

"You have something I want, O'Neill. As for what you get in return, that we can discuss."

******************************************************

Lyle watched Agrona upon landing in Colorado Springs. All she had told him was that two men had stolen something from her and this is where they would find it. He had always considered himself a practical man not given to fantasy, but from what he had witnessed there was no denying that she was an alien. Her speech and haughty demeanor suggested that she was used to the best; a princess, perhaps. He also knew that she was just using him to cross the country, but there had to be some way he could benefit from this as well.

Willie and Sam hadn't known what to make of her when they boarded. They each pulled out their guns and aimed at her, causing her eyes to glow brightly. "Lower your weapons, boys," he told them. "She could kill you both in the blink of an eye." The Sweepers did so and warily took seats at the back of the jet.

"Your slaves do you justice," she said. "Willing to risk their lives for you and obeying your commands without hesitation. You may serve some further purpose."

"Thank you, I think."

She said nothing further during the trip, not even moving from her seat. The moment the jet came to a halt, she rose majestically. "Come now. We must now enter the secret base."

Secret base? What secret base? "How will the four of us get into this secret base unseen?"

"We will be seen, but by then it will be too late for them to do anything."

She's mad! "How do you know so much about this base?" Lyle asked as they walked to the waiting car. "How many ways in are there? How well is it guarded?"
She turned to glare at him. "This group has been a plague against the Goa'uld for many of your years. We have had many infiltrate the base and have thus learned where to go. Also, my lord Ba'al has created a distraction."

"Oh, great." Lyle and Agrona climbed into the back of the car as Willie and Sam took their seats in the front.

Agrona directed them into the mountains to where a fire road joined with the main route. "We will walk from here."

Lyle looked down at his $100 loafers. I wonder if I can get another pair as part of the deal.

Willie led the way following Agrona's instructions while Sam took up the rear. After ten minutes of hiking, Willie stopped, pointing out a cement block topped with a metal lid hidden behind some bushes. The two Sweepers made to open it but Agrona held them back. She then aimed that weird hand device at it and a bolt of energy shot from it. The lid was untouched.

"That didn't work. It's still closed."

"Such was not my intent. It is now safe to open. Their primitive sensors can no longer track our approach." She motioned with her hand and Willie and Sam scrambled to remove the lid quickly before she angered and used that device on them.

"So, where do we go once inside?" Lyle asked in an attempt at politeness.

"I will direct you once we reach Level 27. Once there we will need stealth. After we have recovered the items, you will need to be in close proximity to me or you will be left behind."

"Willie, Sam, go first." Lyle stood and watched as the two climbed down the ladder covered by the block. Being unarmed, Lyle wanted to go last so that the others could take care of all the fighting. He waited for Agrona to follow the others but she waited imperiously for him. She definitely acts like royalty. I'd love to see her and Parker go at it. Resigned to his fate, Lyle began the long climb down.

********************************************************

Once Ba'al's image faded and the wormhole closed, Jack turned and looked at them. "OK, what does that snakehead have that we want? He knows I won't fall for that same trick again."

"As Ba'al initiated this, I'm more curious as to what we have," said Sam.

"The ZPM," Daniel declared. "Agrona must have contacted him about it."

"Who's Agrona?" Sam questioned.

"A Goa'uld Jarod and I met in Key West."

"Still, what could Ba'al have that we need? All teams have reported in."

"Unless it is something he does not yet have," Teal'c intoned.

"His appearance could be a ploy, a distraction. While we're concentrating on him, someone sneaks in and takes it." Daniel ran out of the Gateroom and headed up to the briefing room.

"What the hell was that all about?" the agent Parker demanded.

"A hologram of a very nasty alien," he answered, taking the ZPM from the table.

"If he's only a hologram, why are you so worried? Nothing can come through that thing unless you open that...other thing."

"Because we believe it's only a distraction. Someone is on the way here to steal this." He held up the device. "Unless they're already here." He slipped it into the satchel resting next to it and slung it over his back.

"You can't think one of us is one of those aliens!" the sister stated.

"No, I know you're not. It's someone else."

"Agrona," said Jarod.

Daniel nodded. "Yeah. I need to get this thing locked away." He headed for the door.

"Hold on a second," said Parker. "With all the security you've got in this place, how can anyone get it?"

Daniel sighed in exasperation. "She's an alien. I know of one Goa'uld who used technology to beam herself down to Earth from a ship in orbit. She could appear anywhere in this facility."

"Kinda like Star Trek?"

"Similar idea, yes."

"You said she had to beam down from a ship, right?" Jarod asked. "How close does this ship have to be? Would it be picked up by satellite or radar?"

"I'm not sure how close, but Thor would be able to pick it up if it were, and he hasn't said anything."

"So how would she get here from Florida?"

A series of gunshots sounded from the hallway. "It doesn't matter how. What matters is she's here," commented Mira Parker.

"We have to get you guys out of here." Daniel pushed them towards the stairs that led to the control room. "Maybe we can get you to the Alpha site."

"Give us weapons," argued Jarod. "We're all perfectly capable of helping you defend this place."

Daniel knew this to be true. "Right. We'll get you some weapons." He led them to the armory where they found some P90s. The three newcomers handled the guns like pros. "C'mon, this way."

They rushed down the hall to assist in the defense of the base. Daniel spotted Teal'c and some airmen near one of the closed bulkhead doors. "What's the situation?"

"We believe there to be one Goa'uld in a female host along with three human males. They came in through an air shaft."

"That answers the question as to how," commented Jarod.

"But who would help an alien break into a high security base?" asked Frank. "He'd certainly have to be a twisted son of a bitch."

A blast was heard from the other side of the door followed by a crackling sound. "They've blown out the security lock," said Mira.

To prove her right, the metal door slid open. The gunmen aimed their weapons at the widening gap. Agrona fired her ribbon device sending airmen across the hall. She spotted Daniel. "A pleasure to see you again, Dr. Jackson."

"Sorry, I can't say the same." Over her shoulder, Daniel saw three men in suits. It was the one in the white that drew his attention. There was something about him that just screamed opportunistic toady. He had to be the one who brought her here.

Agrona motioned the two other men forward. "Take him." She pointed at Jarod.

The men moved forward, smiling. "It's good to see you again, Jarod," said the bulkier of the two in a gruff voice.

God, these have to be the people chasing him! But why does Agrona want him? Does she know he can operate Ancient technology?

"Surrender yourself, human. I won't hesitate to use this on your friends." Daniel once more found a ribbon device aimed at his face. "And you, Shol'va, drop your staff weapon."

The Parkers chose this moment to make themselves known. "Let him go." Her voice was filled with venom.

"Miss Parker?" The gruff voice was stunned.

The third man walked up to them. "Why am I not surprised? Wherever Jarod is, you're not far behind. Oh, and little brother Frankie."

"Take him!" Agrona demanded a second time.

"You aren't taking anyone, lady," came a familiar voice from down the hall.

Daniel was whirled around as Agrona pulled him in front of her as a shield, her ribbon device still at his head. "Jack."

"Daniel, nice to see you have new friends. Think you should stick with the old ones."

"Me too."

"So, you are O'Neill." Daniel could tell by her voice she was not the least bit impressed. "You will be hearing from my lord Ba'al."

With her free hand, she activated a second device and a fraction of a second later, Daniel found himself standing at the business end of several Jaffa staff weapons.

********************************************************

After the glittering light cleared, only one man stood there. Mira glared at him. "Sam, what's going on?"

He slowly walked over to her, ignoring the weapons aimed at him. "You're all right. After you left, no one was allowed to even breathe your name."

"You know this guy?" O'Neill asked.

"He used to work with me. Now he obviously works for Lyle."

"Only because of my time with you chasing after Jarod."

"And who is Lyle?"

"I would determine that he was the man in the light suit," put in Teal'c. "The one who knew Miss Parker."

"And also my twin."

"Your what?" O'Neill was incredulous.

"Believe me, it's a claim I don't make often."

"How did Lyle hook up with her?" asked Frank as they started to move down the hall back to the briefing room.

"She forced her way onto the jet while we were in Key West and demanded to be brought here. Lyle agreed. I think he wants to use his association with this woman to overthrow Raines."

"Agrona will be the one to use him. When he is no longer useful, she will destroy him."

Mira knew that he was speaking from first-hand knowledge. Even though she despised the Nine-Fingered Cannibal, that was not how she wanted him to go. She wanted something long and drawn out where he would suffer-hopefully something involving poetic justice. "We have to find a way to get them both back," she declared.

"Since we don't know where they are, we have to wait until Ba'al contacts us to make the trade." O'Neill sounded so sure of himself.

"I wouldn't hold my breath," she said, breaking his bubble. "That device they were here to take? Daniel had it."

***********************************************************

Sam parted from the general and headed to the security office to view footage of the infiltrators to see what she could learn about them. The woman was definitely the Goa'uld Daniel had mentioned. The men weren't under her thrall; one seemed to be in charge of the other two and was probably following her based on false promises.

She switched cameras to see the confrontation in the corridor. It appeared that the newcomers knew Jarod and the others. This was too much coincidence.
The Goa'uld, Agrona, then keyed a sequence on a wrist device and four of them disappeared, most likely to a ship Ba'al had been keeping just out of radar range. Even if they could get the coordinates, the ship would no longer be there. She thanked the tech before heading down to the briefing room.

The others were just taking their seats. "Carter, did you come up with anything?"

"Nothing concrete, sir. It was obviously Asgard technology she used. Ba'al must have acquired it when he took over from Anubis."

"That's all we need; another alien race popping in and out of here," O'Neill complained.

As if summoned, Thor appeared at the foot of the table. "Greetings."

The male NSA agent jumped in his seat. At first, Sam thought it was just due to the suddenness of the arrival, but the look on his face made her realize there was more to it. "It's all right," she explained. "Thor is one of the Asgard, our allies."

"Thor, ol' buddy, let me introduce our new friends. Mira Parker, her brother Frank, and Sam."

Thor nodded in their direction before continuing. "Ba'al's ship left too fast for us to determine the reason for his presence."

"We know why he was here," the general stated. "Kidnapping."

"I don't think that was part of the original plan, sir. I think Agrona was here mainly for the ZPM and just took advantage of the situation." She turned to Thor to clarify. "She took the ZPM, Daniel, and Jarod so now they know how to use the device along with someone with the capabilities to activate it."

"That is most distressing. With such an item in his possession, Ba'al could wreak untold havoc."

"Gee, ya think?"

"We need to formulate a rescue, not only to get the ZPM away from Ba'al, but to also rescue our friends." She realized she had named Jarod as a friend. Perhaps it was because of his easy acceptance of all that had happened to him, she wasn't sure.

"How are we going to do that when we don't know where they are?" asked Frank Parker.

*************************************************************

Jarod tried to keep track of the turnings as he and Daniel were led through identical corridors. My God, this is an alien spaceship! He itched to get a chance to study it further. The guards-Jaffa, Daniel called them-shoved them into a bare room with no windows. The Jaffa locked the door behind them. Not a word was said, but Jarod knew they weren't necessary.

Daniel sat cross-legged on the floor, accepting their plight. "Nothing's going to happen for awhile. Ba'al will want us to sit and stew, wondering when the interrogations will begin. Besides, he has a new toy to play with."

"You had no idea the way was blocked. You were trying to get it to safety."

"I walked right into them. I might as well have gift-wrapped it."

"It was because of me. She knew we're friends and used it against us like she tried to in Florida." He joined him on the floor. "So you can read this language?"

Jarod could tell Daniel was working on an answer. Why hide anything else from me after seeing all this? "I guess I'm the only one around with some sort of working knowledge of it. I've been piecing it together for a few years now. It bears a resemblance to Latin, actually."

"You'll just have to delay," he told Daniel. "Academics are good at that"

"If I were a Goa'uld tech, he just might believe me. Being human, he won't trust me at all."

"Say that if handled wrong, it could destroy the ship. Or maybe tell him it's part of a set. I don't know. We just need to buy time for the others."

Jarod knew that most squads were tightly bonded and would do anything for a member, especially a captured one. He also felt that he had somehow been accepted; originally, because of his friendship with Daniel but now it was because of what he had witnessed and his strange capability. They couldn't give in. If worse came to worse, they would have to do something drastic.

***************************************************

Frank couldn't help but cast sideway glances at Thor. He was so similar to Adam, it was eerie. His head was longer and leaner compared to Adam's rounder, squatter head. Maybe they were related in some way.

He looked out the large window at the retreating Earth. It was strange standing here on an alien ship going off to fight other aliens, yet it felt normal. Maybe it was because of SG1 and how they treated it. Frank couldn't hold back the smile of seeing his sister in fatigues. The guns, however, he was used to.

"Frank, what is it?" asked Carter. "Something wrong?"

"No. It's just that back at NNL are the bodies of the Roswell Greys. A while back, one of them revived and nearly killed me."

"The Asgard aren't the Roswell aliens?" Frank shook his head. "We always assumed they were."

"I don't want to fuss, but how are the five of us going to rescue them? This Ba'al, being great and powerful, must have an army surrounding him."

"The System Lords guard themselves against large scale invasions or insurgence," Teal'c answered. "It makes it much easier for a small party to infiltrate."

"The same can be said for many tyrants and dictators," put in Mira. "They worry so much about the big invasions, they forget the smaller parties."

"No set plan, then?"

"No, not really." Sam smiled. "We need to see the lay of the land first."

"Why can't Thor just beam them up or whatever?"

"Because they might not have the ZPM on them. We need to recover that as well."

"What is this ZPM thing?" asked Mira. "Why is it so special?"

"It's a power source created by the Ancients. From what I've learned, it gets its power from vacuum energy derived from a self-contained region of subspace time. It has the potential to last millions of years."

"I'm sorry I asked."

"OK," said Frank. "That's what it is, but what can it do?"

"We know for a fact that using it as a power source, we can gate to another galaxy. The Ancients used it to help defend their outpost in Antarctica. With knowledge of how it functions combined with other Ancient technologies, who knows what else it could do?"

"So, we make sure it comes back with us or somehow keep Ball from using it."

"He will have it well-guarded," commented Teal'c. "Any action will need to be swift and immediate."

"I think that goes without saying." Mira looked at Frank. "You still glad about that field trip?"

"As long as Jack gets a hold of Bradley. I don't need to be welcomed back into a nice comfy cell."

******************************************************

Jack sat behind his desk and dialed the number Parker had given him. The switchboard connected him and an older man's voice spoke on the other side. "Dr. Talmadge."

"Dr Talmadge, this is Gen. Jack O'Neill. I'm calling from Cheyenne Mountain--"

"This is about Frank Parker, isn't it?"

"Yes it is." Jack smiled. Parker must still give the suits hell.

"What's he done this time?"

"We have asked Mr. Parker and his sister to assist us on a current...project. Their expertise is greatly appreciated. When it's over, we will arrange transportation."

"A word of advice, general? Frank usually works on his own and has a tendency to play it close to the vest in group situations."

"Doesn't play well with others?"

Jack heard Talmadge chuckle. "That's a good way to put it. Sounds like you've dealt with someone like Frank before."

"You could say that. I've dealt with Frank before." He could just picture the wheels turning in the man's mind. When would an Air Force general and Frank have worked together? He'd probably come up with Special Ops when given enough time. "I don't think he'll try any of his tricks where they're going. Besides, his sister's gone along too and, from what I've seen, I think she can control him."

"Thank you, General, for notifying me. If he hadn't returned with the others, I'd have to write him up again."

"I'm sure that's a thick file."

"You've no idea."

I'm sure I do. "Good bye, Dr. Talmadge." Jack replaced the receiver and wondered what was going on out there.

**************************************************

Daniel knew that Jarod was right. They would have to try to delay as long as possible in order to give the others a chance to put together a rescue. They might also learn some vital information that could lead to their own escape. He had never faced Ba'al himself but knew from the time he visited Jack while he was in Ba'al's clutches how much the system lord enjoyed torture.

"Daniel what do you know about Ba'al that might help us out?"

"He recently made a power play, taking over all the territories that had belonged to Anubis, making him the most powerful system lord. A few months ago, a small group of system lords approached us to negotiate a truce in the hopes that we would help them overthrow Ba'al."

"That obviously didn't work out."

"Not after they tried to send a bomb through the Gate."

"So even though they tried to negotiate against Ba'al, the other system lords went no further?"

"Not that we've been made aware of. I think they've either given up any hope of defeating him, or they're biding their time waiting for the right moment." Moreover, with their long lives, that moment could be centuries away.

"Is there anyway for us to leave this ship while it's in flight? We'd have to know in order to plan out escape."

Daniel thought on the possibilities. There were the gliders, but he couldn't fly it and he didn't know if Jarod could without studying it first. They wouldn't be able to access the beam technology, as Ba'al was the only one to use it. "A Gate! There must be a Gate on this ship. That's the only way he could have sent the hologram. If we can get to it, we can make it home."

"How good are the odds on that?"

"As it stands now, not so good. We're locked up. We have no idea where it is. Even if we do find it, it will be under guard."

"I get the picture. We need to get more information before making any plans."

At that moment the door slid open and the two men stood. Ba'al's First Prime entered, flanked by two others. "You," he pointed.

*************************************************************

Ba'al sat on his throne contemplating what Agrona had brought him. The technology of the Ancients was the one item he sought. As a bonus, she had brought Jackson of SG-1, one of the few Tau'ri who could read and speak Goa'uld and the only one who could translate Ancient.

Agrona claimed that the man she had taken along with Jackson could utilize the technology. He would need to bear watching as an unknown entity. He knew from experience that these particular humans were quite resilient-and resistant.

As for those two men that "assisted" Agrona, they might provide more information voluntarily. The one man seemed to harbor a thirst for power that would be dangerous were he a Goa'uld. As he was only human, Ba'al knew he could use that thirst to his own advantage. Torture and coercion were not the only path to information.

The door from the hall opened and his First Prime entered. "My lord, the prisoner is outside."

"Very good. Bring him in."

*************************************************************

Jarod was surprised when he was the one taken first, not Daniel. As he walked the corridors, occasionally prodded by the guards, he realized that Ba'al probably knew all that Daniel had to offer. For him, Jarod represented a new source to drill for information. He would only go so far as to appear accommodating, but he would not betray the new trust given to him.

They stopped outside a door more ornate than the others and Jarod knew they had arrived. The leader-the one with the embossed symbol on his forehead-entered the room while they waited outside. Not too long after, he returned, waved his hand, and the other guards responded by pushing Jarod inside.

A tall, swarthy man confronted Jarod with a short beard dressed in finery befitting a Mesopotamian "god". He beckoned with his hand and Jarod was pushed forward until he stood at the base of the dais.

"Kneel before your god!" the Jaffa demanded as he used his staff on the back of Jarod's legs.

Jarod fell to his knees then stared up at Ba'al defiantly. He would do all he could to keep from telling what he knew-the little that was.

"You are with SG-1?" he asked in a deep reverberating voice.

A trick question. "I'm with SG-1 in the respect that I was taken along with Daniel. I'm not a member as I only learned of its existence today."

"I believe that to be an honest answer," Ba'al stated. "A very inspiring start. If you continue in this vein, there will be no need for me to resort to other methods."

It might have been his imagination, but Jarod thought he caught a note of disappointment.

"How did you find the device of the Ancients? Did the SGC recruit you?"

"I was diving and just happened upon the site. I had been corresponding with Daniel and knew the symbols would intrigue him so I contacted him. As I said before, I only just learned of the SGC."

"Does Earth possess any technology to defend itself against a Goa'uld attack?"

This guy doesn't believe that I don't know anything about classified stuff like this. "It might. I can't give you a definitive answer as I'm not privy to such information."

With a snarl, Ba'al backhanded Jarod across the face, the force of the blow sending him sliding across the floor. Blood trickled from the corner of his lips.
"Next time I question you, have the proper answers or things will be far less pleasant." He then looked at the Jaffa and spoke in what must have been its native tongue.

Daniel probably could have translated it. Unfortunately, he could not and therefore was not prepared when he was yanked roughly to his feet by his right arm and marched back to his cell.

Once the door slid shut behind the soldiers, Daniel was there asking questions. Jarod relayed all he could. They had to get out of here soon. He didn't want to think about what a second interrogation might hold.

**************************************************************

Mira gazed out into space and still had a hard time believing she was actually doing it not just dreaming. Again, Jarod had a hand in changing her perspectives drastically. First, he got her to leave the Centre, and now she had actually left the planet. She looked over at Frank who was trying to engage Teal'c in conversation-that would be interesting to listen in on.

She then looked at Major Carter and Thor. Seeing them discussing options on equal footing made her hopeful for the future of the human race despite its inclusion of specimens like Lyle and Raines. She smiled knowing at this point Jarod would say something about everyone on the planet being able to make a difference in the world by little gestures or grand ones. She then sobered, wondering why the Goa'uld wanted Jarod. She didn't think it could be for information he held, for before his phone call to her, she doubted he even had any inkling of their existence.

As for his friend Daniel, he knew how to read this Ancient language that eluded the Goa'uld so it was obvious he was wanted for translation. The concern the SGC and Thor were showing regarding Ba'al and his possession of the device made her more frightened than she cared to admit. This certainly would be End of the World stuff if he couldn't be stopped. This put Raines and Lyle's petty scheming into perspective.

Col. Carter saw her lost in thought and came over. "Are you all right? You don't have to go through with this if you don't want to."

"No, it's about time I saved Jarod." She then asked the one question that was bugging her. "What I don't understand is why this alien wants Jarod. She singled him out as the one to take." She noticed some hesitation. "Whatever it is, it can't be more secret than this."

"True." The colonel went on to explain that the Ancients-the ones that built the Stargates-built a number of devices that could only be activated by those possessing a certain gene. "Jarod is one of those people."

"Do you think it could be tied in with his Pretender gene?"

"He did mention it as a possibility. The lab was just starting tests before you arrived."

Mira wondered if she should tell them that she possessed it herself. If it would help against the Goa'uld, she couldn't keep it to herself. "Colonel, I also carry the Pretender gene. I think because of my father, I never underwent any simulations like Jarod. When we return to Earth, I am willing to have tests run to see if I possess this gene as well."

She could see that Carter was amazed at the prospect. "Wow, two of you in one day! Is there any chance your brother as it as well?"

"Frank? Maybe. We had different fathers. However, I know my twin brother does."

"Do you know where he is?"

"He was with Agrona when they took Jarod."

**************************************************************

After Jarod and the other man were taken away by the soldiers, Agrona took Lyle and Willie to what he guessed were guest quarters. "Rest here until my lord Ba'al wishes to speak with you."

"Thank you for your hospitality," he replied in what he hoped was the proper fawning tone.

With a slight nod of her head, she left the room.

Lyle found a chaise and stretched out, legs crossed at the ankles. "This is the life, eh, Willie?"

The Sweeper paused in his search of the room. "If you say so, Mr. Lyle," he replied diplomatically.

"You have to look at the big picture, Willie. Diplomatic ties with these...beings will make the Centre more of a world player than it already is and we can operate in the open." The fact that I am the one to make initial contact will put me on a higher standing within the Centre itself.

Willie, ever the Yes Man, agreed.

Lyle began to plan all he would do to help these Goa'uld. He still wasn't sure why they wanted Jarod, but if it were because he was a Pretender, the Centre would be able to help them locate more. Of course, there were the contacts the Centre had worldwide including a number of politicians and generals that owed favors.

Dreaming of future power, Lyle settled back for a nap, a self-satisfied smirk spread on his face.

**********************************************************

On the third try, Jack finally got through to Hammond. "Jack. How are things going?"

"We have a little bit of an incident, sir." He went on to explain how Daniel had been contacted regarding an Ancient site and how Ba'al had become involved. "Thor saved Daniel and Jarod, beaming them here. However, Agrona infiltrated the base, taking Daniel, Jarod, and the device. Carter and Teal'c are on Thor's ship along with Frank and Mira Parker."

"Jack, who are these people and just how much do they know?"

"They've been on the base, sir. They've seen the Goa'uld and Thor. However, I don't think they're going to talk. The Parkers are with another classified project which they have told us about so we're all on equal footing."

"Just what do you know about them?"

"I know Frank Parker from my Special Ops days. He was with the SEALs, the CIA, and now the NSA. He's never been one for authority but when the chips are down, he comes through."

"What about his sister? Does she seem trustworthy?"

"That's the tricky part. When I knew Frank, he had no family. It seems they only found each other recently. She was really pissed when Daniel and Jarod were taken and demanded to be part of the rescue party."

"Why is that? Was it to learn more of what we do?"

"I don't believe so, sir. She's known Jarod most of her life and felt a need to rescue him. The fact that she used to work with the men who helped Agrona might have also played a part."

"This Jarod seems to be the link. He knows both Parkers and was in contact with Daniel. Now you say he has the Ancient gene."

"The lab test just confirmed it."

"Does he have any affiliations that we should be aware of?"

Jack smiled at the thought of Jarod having the affiliations Hammond meant. "He's only loyal to family and friends, sir. Family he barely knows. The man's a genius, sir, and you know that's not a word I use lightly."

"If at all," he heard Hammond chuckle. "Will he break?"

"After how he's handled what he's already seen today, I don't think so. Besides, if they're aware of what he can do-and I think they are-they won't want to incapacitate him to the point where he can't help them."

"And Dr. Jackson?"

"He might be able to talk his way out of it, or at least delay."

"Keep me posted, Jack. I need to know what to prepare for should things go wrong."

"Of course, sir. You'll be the first call." Jack replaced the receiver and hoped his faith wasn't misplaced.

**********************************************************

Daniel sat across from Jarod. "Are you okay?"

"A little bruised is all. I didn't tell him anything apart from how we found the device. What could I? He thought I was part of the SGC. Why does he have it in for you?"

"Aside from the fact that we've killed a number of System Lords and he's afraid he's next?"

"Yeah, aside from that." Jarod cracked a smile.

"He's trying to consolidate his position as Supreme System Lord and we keep getting in the way. He really has a thing against Jack since he escaped a couple of years ago. Ba'al kept torturing him over and over and Jack was near the point of giving up." That was something he never wanted to see again: Jack resigned to death. That was one of the moments during his ascended state when Daniel wished he had had a physical presence.

"He won't do that to you, however. He won't risk hurting you since you are the only one who can operate Ancient technology."

"I'm just surprised he hasn't done anything about that yet."

"I think he's trying to put together a plan of how to handle the device so we can't do anything he doesn't want."

"We're on his ship surrounded by his guards. What does he think we can do?"

"I don't know what we can do. He probably just doesn't want to take any chances." Daniel knew they needed to get their minds off their predicament for a bit so he brought the anthropologist in him to the fore. "Jarod, just what do you know about the Pretender gene? I mean, is there a history of Pretenders, or are you the first?"

Jarod looked at him. "I never thought of that. I was so concerned about why they wanted me as well as keeping them from doing it again."

"You said you weren't the only Pretender, so why would they make such a big fuss about you?"

"I think it's because it comes naturally to me. Now I think it might have something to do with those scrolls."

"I'd love to get my hands on those to see if there's any mention of Pretenders existing at the time it was written."

"They're lost somewhere in the North Atlantic."

"Pity. They would have made an interesting read."

"I still can't help but wonder 'Why me?' I know it sounds selfish considering all that's going on, but I have the need to know."

A sudden idea struck Daniel. Before his time with the SGC, it would have struck even him as ridiculous. He only wondered how Jarod would take it. "What if the unearthing of the Stargate in 1928 triggered those carriers of the Ancient gene to pass the then active gene to their children?"

"Culminating in me and the others the Centre took?"

"I know. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?"

"A little. Then again, I thought the same of alien invasions the other day."

"There is still so much we don't know about the Ancients. This could have been something programmed into the Stargate itself. They must have known that its discovery would lead to others and the need for protection against the Goa'uld."

"So you're saying my gift is due to alien gene manipulation."

Daniel could hear the incredulity in Jarod's voice. "The Ancients knew they were leaving Earth and wanted to make sure we would be protected." Daniel warmed to his theory. It made a strange kind of sense. Once again, Jarod proved to be the catalyst.

The door slid open and the Jaffa motioned Daniel to stand and follow. It was now time for him to defy yet another System Lord.

***********************************************************

Agrona turned away from the monitor. Could it be there were more on Earth who could operate the devices of the Ancients? If they could be located, they could be used to advance the Goa'uld. No one would be able to withstand them; not the Nox, the Asgard, and especially not the Tau'ri.

The man who had assisted her and those he worked with seemed to be able to locate and isolate those with the gene. She would have to persuade him to tell her of the method they employed so it could be implemented on a larger scale. She would need to inform Ba'al of this development.

She glided into the next room and watched impassively as Ba'al questioned Dr. Jackson.

She took the time to study him. He did not have the build of a warrior and was known to be a scholar yet he had figured highly in many of the Goa'uld defeats at the hands of the Tau'ri. He was known to have withstood the hand device of Ra, Apophis, Sokar, and Osiris. She knew that he had been very lucky for she knew of no one who had been able to endure the ribbon device completely. It all depended on the strength of the power put forth by the Goa'uld and the length of time one was exposed to it. Dr. Jackson had merely built up a resistance and resistance was usually broken.

Ba'al lowered his hand and Jackson gasped for breath. His eyes were still defiant. What was it about the Tau'ri that made them think they could always win?

"You will decipher the writings for me, Dr. Jackson. And there will be no delays for I will periodically visit and persuade you to continue your work."

"You can't do it too often; you need my brains."

"You are lucky in that regard. Do not try my patience."

He motioned for the Jaffa to take the human away. He then turned and resumed his seat. "Agrona, have you anything to tell me?"

************************************************

This standing around was getting to Frank. They needed to have some form of attack plan. There were five of them, six counting Thor. If Daniel and Jarod were in separate areas, they would need to split up and then arrange a rendezvous. He said as much to Carter.

"We have been thinking on a few things, Mr. Parker."

"Frank."

"Thor has schematics of Ba'al's ship which we can use to formulate a plan."

At that moment a hologramatic projection appeared before them. Frank couldn't understand what most of the notations meant, but he could see it was massive. "What are those moving dots?"

"Those are Jaffa," Thor answered calmly.

"This isn't a simple schematic," declared Carter, "but an actual scan."

"We are close enough to scan without the Goa'uld realizing. I do not know how long that will last."

"What are these dots?" Sam pointed to some others different from those that Frank questioned. "They seem brighter."

"They would be Ba'al and Agrona."

"That's a good thing to know," commented Frank.

"By process of elimination, these two must be Daniel and Jarod." Carter indicated two less-defined spots isolated from the others.

"We'd better get a move on with this plan," said Frank. "If Ba'al has this many Jaffa on his ship, I'm afraid to think of how many he'd have at his base."

"Frank Parker is correct," Teal'c said. "We must strike quickly while we have the advantage of surprise."

Carter studied the projection. "Thor, is there anyway to detect where the ZPM is? We can then split up and complete the rescue in half the time."

Thor made a slight adjustment to the controls and small blue dot began blinking by the two prisoners.

"That's convenient," muttered Frank. "One-stop shopping."

"We need not transfer to the ship now as their close proximity to each other should make it easier to beam them here," volunteered Teal'c.

"That can be easily done, however, there is a second pair of humans located a level above the first."

"Mr. Lyle and Willie," put in Frank.

"We have to get them," Mira stated. "Once Ba'al realizes Jarod and Daniel are gone, he'll take it out on them."

"Serve 'im right," Frank declared. "He's tried to kill us both so why should we save him now?"

"Because when he does, if it's not by my hands, I at least want to see it."

Frank shivered at the coldness he saw in her eyes.

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