icon by samantilles
My thanks to the 25 authors who contributed to our anthology to create some 38,000 words of Jonas Quinn Alphabet Soup: q_d_o_g, rachel500, shinealightonme, resurgamlaura, thothmes, gategremlyn, eilidh7, sg_wonderland, ziparumpazoo, chocolatekettle, colej55, grav_ity, theeverdream, redbyrd, samantilles, pepper, traycer, rigel7, fluffy_twk, lokei, ansostuff, acarlgeek, cleothemuse, fignewton, and nightspear. Special thanks to our back-up writers and multiple contributors, who did extra duty after the last minute! And a warm welcome to our "probie" soup contributors: Theeverdream, Resurgamlaura, Ansostuff, Shinealightonme, Rachel500, Thothmes, Mquir, and Fluffy-twk. We have now had 87 different authors contributing to these series. SG-1 fandom, you are nothing less than awesome. :)
Story lengths range from 100 words to about 7,500 words. Eras range from pre-series to post-series; expect spoilers for the entire series through Ark of Truth. Ratings range from G to a strong PG-13.
Story text is as written by the authors, but minor HTML coding has been changed (removal of smart quotes, for example) to allow for more uniformity in page style.
Readers are strongly encouraged to visit the author's individual journals and leave feedback.
A is for Assurance
Jonas never wanted to be a soldier, not really. Even when he was arguing his way onto an SG team, he didn't picture himself waging a physical war on the Go'auld. He knew where his strengths lay, knew they weren't on the side of military tactics. He was more than physically able enough, but his mind held his most valuable skill set.
Yet here he was, standing in a line of soldiers with a smoking gun in his hand, firing round after round into an imaginary enemy. A war-hardened Colonel stood at his back, coaching him in the most effective way to incapacitate someone from fifty feet, the surest ways to secure a kill. From his own mind he heard the more basic lessons repeating themselves: Legs hip-width apart. Finger off the trigger. Hold firm. Somehow, between being horrified at the prospect of firing at anything and the comfortable grip he now held on his assigned weapon, it had become ingrained.
What shocked him most, what really surprised him - as a scholar and a scientist, a man of peace, a diplomat - is how much of a thrill he got from it. The sharp pulse of the weapon kicking back into his shoulder sent a rush of adrenaline through his veins, coursing through his body with a rare fervour. It satisfied him to have his shots land true, the round rips in his targets each a tiny piece of assurance that he was doing good here. Eyes open. Don't hold your breath. So Jonas continued to fire, each metal projectile meeting its mark in an easy and precise manner; when he stopped to reload, he registered the hand on his shoulder as the Colonel's rough voice cut into his thoughts, offering small praise for his work.
Maybe, Jonas mused, it wasn't just the well-placed holes in the crumpled paper in his hand that offered the assurance he craved. He smiled to himself, and corrected his stance. Don't smile like that when you shoot, it's creepy. He hastily applied a scowl to his face and fired.
B is for Betrayal
He had never wanted to be a leader.
But somehow Jonas Quinn had ended up as the leader of the Langaran Resistance so quickly after the Ori had invaded and become an occupational force that he still wasn't sure quite how it had happened. He still questioned the wisdom of it especially during missions like the one he was undertaking right that moment.
Jonas flattened himself against the wall of the old Kelownan building and peeked out, squinting in the twilight at the Langaran government facility across the square. The guards were minimal; the front door guarded by two Ori soldiers in full uniform with the strange staff weapons that they used. Just like their intelligence had confirmed. He checked his watch.
He was early. There was time before the plan went into motion; his insane plan to take back a piece of Langara. He raised his eyes to the grey sky, his fingers tightening around the gun he held. Sweat beaded under the wool of his black knit-hat and slid down his face. He ignored it, and the way his heart raced, the way worms wriggled in his gut making him nauseous. He moistened his mouth and kept his breathing shallow.
Jack O'Neill wouldn't be nervous, Jonas told himself briskly. Or Teal'c. Or Samantha Carter. He suspected even Daniel Jackson wouldn't feel as nervous as he felt right that minute. The civilian member of SG1 might have had more in common with Jonas than the others but Daniel was a seasoned soldier. They all faced battle with confidence; assurance. He would bet that they had never stood behind a wall questioning their strategy in the final moments before they executed it.
Or maybe they had. Jonas had served with SG1 for a whole year and he knew they weren't quite the fearless legends others would believe them to be. He'd seen them doubt themselves; question their actions and their results. He'd seen them strong and he'd seen them weak. But he just couldn't imagine the Colonel -- and he tried to remember again that Jack was a General -- sweating copiously about whether he had made the right decision, whether everything was going to come together and the things that had already been put in motion would bear fruit.
He couldn't picture it.
It was just that so much was riding on the outcome of the plan, so many lives, not to mention the future of Langara.
'No pressure then.' Jonas mumbled to himself. He closed his eyes briefly annoyed with his thoughts. He took a steadying breath.
He really wished SG1 was beside him. Or somewhere out there waiting to execute his plan with him or even better their plan because the best plans were always the ones that SG1 put together as a team. Sometimes he saw them like ghosts standing in the room with him or he would catch fleeting glances of them from the corner of his eye. He knew it was wishful thinking. Either that or he was going crazy.
Sometimes he had conversations with them in his head. He wasn't sure that was any saner than seeing them but it made him feel better. Mostly he talked with an imaginary Sam over some aspect of science that he was trying to figure out. Occasionally he'd have Daniel in his head when he was musing over some variant of language or philosophy. Teal'c usually showed up when he needed a pep talk; when he needed a soft 'indeed' to take away the worry. He mostly discussed strategy and leadership with the Jack in his head: he did that a lot lately.
He checked his watch again; checked the guards again. He leaned back against the wall, the brick rough even through the heavy black canvas of his clothes. The sky was darkening into purple; the air chilling. It cooled his heated skin; sharpened each intake of breath until his lungs ached. His feet encased in the heavy combat boots went numb with cold.
Jonas sighed. Jack had made leading look so effortless, like he breathed it, like it was something he was born to do. The gray-haired Colonel -- General -- would listen to them and to his own instincts, weigh up the risks and make the call. In the year he had spent on SG1, Jonas had learned a lot about leading from watching Jack; how Jack's outwardly tough exterior and his wisecracks hid a freakishly sharp mind that could build a strategy from nothing. How everything Jack did was underscored by the core of loyalty, duty and honour that drove him. He protected his team; would go to hell and back for them, and they would do the same for him. Jonas had nothing but respect for his former leader. There had been so many moments in the time since Langara had fallen to the Ori when Jonas had found himself simply wondering what Jack O'Neill would have done.
He knew one thing for certain: Jack would have fought for his planet against the Ori. All of SG1 had never bowed down to a False God.
'We have no choice, Jonas.' First Minister Dreylock said firmly. Her eyes gave away her fear. They'd been fighting for only a day and the reports of the losses were staggering. They were holding the Langaran Congress with difficulty. If it fell, they'd lose the Stargate and their control centre.
'There's always a choice,' Jonas replied passionately, 'if we give into the Ori, we're...'
'Protecting our people.' Dreylock interrupted.
'We're betraying them.' Jonas argued. He placed his hands flat on the polished table of the conference room and leaned forward. 'We're exchanging their freedom for a life of servitude; of obedience to False Gods. How is that protecting them?'
Dreylock flinched, paling under her carefully applied make-up that hid the shadows under her eyes and the white lines that criss-crossed at the corners of her mouth. 'They'll be alive.'
'Only if they submit to the will of the Ori.' Jonas shook his head fiercely in denial. He stabbed the table. 'This is wrong. I won't be a party to this.'
Her mouth hardened. 'Then leave.'
Stealing away through the hidden passages under the Congress building; he had already been underground when the formal announcement had been made to the public.
Jonas checked the time.
Errold would have reached the secondary location, Jonas mused. His research assistant was a lingual and diplomatic genius. He reminded Jonas of himself when he had been young and filled with hopeful optimism. Errold had walked out on their government with Jonas; had been beside him ever since. Jonas sometimes worried that he'd filled the young man's head with too many stories of SG1 and saving the world but Errold had proven that he was more than capable and they definitely needed someone with his skills. Errold knew how to get their message to their people; how to make contacts; how to get what they needed, when they needed it.
It was Errold who sifted through the intelligence the Resistance cells gathered and who made the connections. It was Errold who had pieced together the information on the capture of the Orici by Earth; her disappearance since despite the Prior's reassurances that she was alive, and the growing discontent in the Ori soldiers. It was Errold who had declared that the time was ripe for making a statement.
Jonas had agreed, which was why he stood waiting in the cold and the dark with time on his hands and thinking too much about his days on SG1, about the plan, and about all those crazy enough to follow him.
His former research assistant had found him in his hiding place in the naquadria mines on the third day after the public capitulation to the Ori along with others who had heard of his nascent rebellion. He'd been shocked, Jonas recalled wryly. They had parted ways after everything that had happened with Anat, the Goa'uld that had possessed Kianna. The painful truth was that he had fallen in love with Anat not with Kianna; that it had been Anat who had fallen in love with him. His one and only conversation about it with Kianna before separating had been awkward, not least because Jonas felt some lingering guilt over his physical relationship with her. Kianna had told him there was nothing to forgive; that she knew he had believed her willing and consensual. But she hadn't met his eyes and she had requested reassignment.
It had been a surprise to see her and yet not. Anat had held Kianna's body and soul in servitude to her for over a year; Kianna had learned everything she had needed to know about being a slave; she had been unwilling to bow down before another False God.
It stunned Jonas how quickly they had moved past their history to work together against the Ori. As impossible as it had seemed they had become friends. Kianna was a good scientist and she had the benefit of the Goa'uld knowledge and abilities that her experience with Anat had left her with. She was brilliant. She had been responsible for putting together the technical solution that would make his plan work.
It would work, Jonas reassured himself.
He blew out a breath and watched the thin stream of white drift away into the night. He moved to loosen his stiff, cold muscles; to prepare. There wasn't much time left.
Commander Terra had set the explosives to detonate in synch with the assault on the Congress building and she had warned him that there could be no change to the timer once set. Jonas had to be ready. He sometimes wondered why Terra, the most senior officer of the Langaran forces left alive, hadn't pressed the issue of leadership. She was a pocket-sized powerhouse with dark auburn hair and flashing hazel eyes, and she knew how to fight and fight well. He'd seen her command her troops and they all followed her willingly. They would have followed her again in the wake of the execution of the senior officers and all other soldiers unprepared to fight for the Ori. Many had melted away into the shadows and joined the Resistance that day.
Terra's style was closer to Sam's than Jack's. If Kianna sometimes reminded him of Sam, his fellow scientist, Terra reminded him of Sam, the military leader who had taken him under her wing. Other times though, Terra reminded him of Teal'c; an accomplished warrior who had followed Jack because he believed he would gain freedom by doing so. It scared Jonas that Terra might see him the same way.
Errold; Kianna; Terra: his team.
They wouldn't let him down and Jonas wouldn't let them down regardless of whether he wanted to be a leader or not.
His watch hummed against his skin; a silent alarm for him to begin his approach. He slipped back into the shadows.
Jonas recognised the corridor he was being marched down. It led to the former office of the First Minister of Langara. He knew from their intelligence that it had been appropriated by Jereb Kal, the Ori overseer stationed on Langara. Three of the soldiers surrounded him. They had captured him within moments of his assault; the explosions they had planted for a distraction apparently not enough to mask his entry. Either that or they had been warned. He rather thought the latter given the way it had seemed that they had been waiting for him. Someone had betrayed them.
He glanced towards the Ori soldier on his left and the one on his right; another kept pace behind him. They were all masked by the helmets; all held their weapons securely. His own hands were restrained behind his back. His left cheek stung where he had been hit; his lip was bleeding. He figured there would be bruises on his arms and legs from where he had been tackled. He was quite proud of the fact that he hadn't made it easy for them. Terra had taught him a few new tricks to add to those he had learned from SG1.
They stopped by the large ornate door and the guard to his left rapped sharply on the gleaming polished wood. A call to enter came briskly from the other side.
Jonas held his breath as he entered. The room had changed. The portraits of the former dignitaries of Langaran history had been removed; the walls had been redecorated with gold wallpaper that brought back memories of Nirrti's boudoir. The carpet under his feet was plush red and his boots sank into it leaving an imprint behind.
The decor distracted him momentarily from the occupants but the Ori soldier behind him pushed him forward and Jonas forced himself to focus.
The Prior stood by the tall rectangular windows looking out into the night sky. His back was to Jonas but he wore brown monkish robes and carried the ubiquitous staff. He could see the hair was grey and he caught a distorted reflection in the glass of the mottled face. A shiver ran down Jonas's spine and his eyes moved hurriedly to the second occupant: former First Minister Dreylock sat on the uncomfortable looking gold sofa in the far corner.
She still held the title but she was little more than an administrative puppet for the Ori. Their eyes met and Dreylock jerked her gaze away quickly, her hands smoothing over the green skirt of her suit. He could see her fingers twisting nervously across the material.
There were two soldiers by the desk. One kept his attention on the plans they were reviewing but the other looked up, a tall man with blond hair and a sneering expression that reminded him a little of the ill-fated Herak, Anubis's First Prime. Jonas recognised him as Jereb; the Resistance had pretty much made it their mission to make his life hell. The other soldier he was unfamiliar with; a dark-haired bearded man with a serious face who seemed completely disinterested in Jonas.
Jonas halted in front of the desk and gave a small wave with his bound hands.
Jereb stalked around the desk and slapped him hard across the face.
Jonas rocked back. The violence wasn't unexpected but it hurt all the same. He saw Jereb raise his fist again and tensed waiting for the blow.
'Jereb.' The other soldier behind the desk declared quietly without looking up. His words had the ring of authority.
Jereb dropped his hand reluctantly. 'But, Commander Tomin...'
Jonas huffed out a breath. So the Commander of the Ori army was on Langara. He schooled his face to show none of his satisfaction.
Tomin finally raised his head to look at Jereb firmly and Jonas caught a glimpse of dark sombre eyes before they fell back to the plans. 'I thought you requested our presence to show us that you could contain the situation here not merely to beat up some Resistance fighter.'
Jereb nodded sharply. He glared at Jonas with outright hatred. 'You are Quinn.' His expression gave away that he couldn't believe that Jonas was the head of the Resistance movement.
Jonas smiled, ignoring the twinge when his lip protected. He didn't speak, preferring to neither confirm nor deny who he was.
'Not talking?' Jereb turned briskly to Dreylock. 'Is this him?'
Dreylock looked almost panicked. Her eyes flew to Jonas's apologetically before they dropped away again. Her voice was little more than a whisper when she spoke. 'I'm not sure.'
He had changed so it wasn't unreasonable that Dreylock didn't recognise him, Jonas considered sadly. He'd lost weight; food was scarce. He was whipcord lean; bone covered by mostly muscle as he trained every day with Terra. He'd cut his hair; shaved it close to the skull. It was easier to maintain.
'You're not sure.' Jereb said mockingly. His lips curved upward in a cruel smile as he stepped up to Jonas. 'Did you really think you could take this building? That we wouldn't know of your plan to acquire the Stargate?' He stepped closer to Jonas. 'You're a fool.'
Jonas held his tongue. Antagonising captors had been Jack's schtick not his.
'We know all about it.' Jereb continued, seemingly happy to gloat without input from Jonas. His pale eyes glittered. 'We know every detail of your attack and we have sent the Stargate away to safety.'
Jonas averted his eyes; stared at the floor. Terra had been right; they had moved the Stargate.
'Your people aren't as loyal as you think.' Jereb circled Jonas slowly. 'Which do you think betrayed you? Your loyal assistant? The woman who was once a Goa'uld? Or the soldier?'
Jonas refused to rise to the bait. He couldn't let Jereb's accusations of betrayal burrow under his skin and poison him. He knew his team. None of them would betray him. They were all committed to their cause. He looked over at Tomin who watched him carefully with serious dark eyes.
Jereb smirked. 'Or was it someone else? Maybe you'll never know who it was that gave you away.'
The door burst open behind them and a running Ori soldier stormed in, stumbling into a salute as he came to a stop.
'What is the meaning of this?' Jereb shouted. 'I'm in the middle of interrogating the prisoner.'
Jonas raised his bound hands and raised his eyebrows. 'Don't mind me.'
'Sir, this report came in from the transport unit; it was marked urgent.' The soldier cast a look in Jonas's direction before showing Jereb a slim column of paper.
Tomin stretched out his hand before Jereb could react and Jereb nodded at the soldier to hand it over. The soldier bowed.
'Dismissed.' Tomin said softly.
Jonas watched as the soldier bowed sharply and left immediately. The large doors closed with a dull ominous thud.
Jereb watched impatiently as his superior read the report. 'Sir?'
Tomin folded the paper and placed it on the desk. He looked from Jonas to Jereb and back.
'The Resistance has taken the Stargate.' Tomin reported.
Jereb's face went red. Then white. And back to red. 'Impossible!' He snatched up the report and read it for himself. His jaw dropped open and he snapped it shut again. 'Commander, we took every precaution, every...'
'You were betrayed.' It was the Prior who spoke.
Jereb rounded on Jonas. 'Where's my Stargate?'
Jonas lifted his lips in a facsimile of a smile. 'It's not your Stargate.' The taunt had Jereb taking a step toward him.
'The Stargate is of no matter.' The Prior turned away from the window and faced them. 'It has been rendered inert by the will of the Ori.'
'Then my plan has still succeeded.' Jereb claimed pompously. 'We have the Resistance leader and once we execute him the Resistance itself will die.'
'Leave us.' The Prior said.
'Prior...' Jereb began to protest even as the three guards who had escorted Jonas filed out and Dreylock stood.
'Do not make me repeat myself.' The Prior stated coldly.
Jereb paled and bowed. He shot Jonas another dirty look before he left.
Dreylock cast another worried look towards Jonas before she too scurried from the room.
Jonas was alone in the room with the Prior and Tomin, who evidently believed the instruction didn't apply to him.
The Prior gestured out to the view beyond the window. 'This planet has potential.'
'You mean you find our naquadria interesting.' Jonas countered. He was mildly surprised when no-one protested at him speaking.
'It is unusual.' The Prior conceded. He stared at Jonas emotionlessly and Jonas felt his skin crawl under the inhuman gaze. 'You are the expert on the naquadria.'
Jonas pursued his lips and didn't respond.
The Prior walked away from the window towards him. 'I know all about you, Jonas Quinn.' He began to circle him slowly. 'I know all about how you betrayed your planet and ran to Earth. How you have betrayed them again by turning away from the Ori and encouraging others on this path of non-belief.'
'I haven't betrayed my people.' Jonas stated firmly. He looked at Tomin instead of the Prior. 'I've protected them from accepting False Gods who would promise them nothing but lies.'
'Foolhardy are those who do not follow the path.' The Prior intoned soullessly.
Jonas raised an eyebrow in a fair imitation of his Jaffa friend. 'Truth is the beginning of the path.'
The Prior stopped and glared at him furiously. 'You dare quote the Book of Origin?' He stamped his staff down on the carpet. 'To me?' he pointed his staff at Jonas. 'I could erase this entire planet with but one word.'
'But you won't.' Jonas said confidently. 'The naquadria explosion that would result might tear this planet apart but it would take out the whole solar system with it including any Ori ships.' He grinned. 'By the way, how's the Orici these days?' Maybe Jack had a point about antagonising his captors; it was fun. Kind of.
The Prior's hand tightened on his staff and Jonas held his breath but the blue crystal didn't glow. The anti-Prior device that Sam had given them and which Kianna had added an amplifier to before hiding it in the ventilation system of the building must be working, Jonas thought with relief.
Evidently, the Prior was beginning to realise his powers were defunct. He lowered his staff back to its vertical position and his eyes briefly flickered towards Tomin as though to assess whether the soldier had realised the Prior's sudden impotence. 'I am done here.'
'Yes, you are.' Jonas agreed cheerfully.
The Prior scowled at him before turning to Tomin. 'I will return to the ship. Kill him.'
Tomin frowned. 'Prior, there is still intelligence that we can obtain from him and to kill him will simply make him a martyr.'
'Tomin!' The Prior growled. 'I grow weary of your questioning my orders! Question him and tell his people he was nothing more than a simple Resistance fighter of no import! His death is the will of the Ori!'
Tomin waited a beat before he lowered his gaze. 'Hallowed are the Ori.'
The Prior swept out. The doors banged shut behind him.
'Alone at last.' Jonas said quietly into the tense silence.
Tomin walked around the desk and stood in front of him. His gaze narrowed in on Jonas. 'You planned this.'
'Yes.' Jonas agreed, unsurprised the other man had worked out his plan.
'You knew Jereb's arrogance would cause him to be overconfident that he knew everything, that he would send the Stargate away.' There was a hint of admiration. 'And you knew he would not be able to resist capturing you.'
'I have a friend who loves fishing.' Jonas explained lightly. 'He always says you just have to use the right bait.'
Tomin gave a sad smile. 'Was gaining the Stargate worth your life?'
Jonas lifted a shoulder. 'It's not just the Stargate that we wanted.' His eyes met Tomin's. 'I wanted to talk with you.'
Surprise flared in the dark depths. Tomin's nostrils flared. 'Talk?'
'Just talk.' Jonas agreed. 'I knew Jereb would invite you to the party. He would never miss the opportunity to show off.'
'You've wasted your time.' Tomin said stiffly.
'Have I?' Jonas wondered. 'My sources say that you're questioning the Prior.' He waved with his tied hands towards the door. 'I've seen it myself.' He paused. 'There are rumours of disagreement over scripture especially since the disappearance of the Orici.'
'I am faithful to the Book of Origin.' Tomin's lips set in a stubborn line.
'I can see why.' Jonas said.
'You've read the Book.' Tomin said with surprise.
Jonas nodded. 'It's a good book. Very similar to other religious texts I've read.' He wet his lips. 'I know it doesn't say anything about massacring those who do not believe.'
Tomin's eyes fell to the floor and he sat on the edge of his desk, folding his arms over the top of his armour. 'You sound like my wife.'
'You mean Vala?' Jonas questioned.
Tomin's head snapped around sharply. 'You know her?'
Jonas gestured with his head at his top pocket.
Tomin slowly reached forward and extracted the contents: a single photo with the current formation of SG1, Jack and Jonas. It had been taken on Jonas's last visit to Earth just before Langara had fallen. Tomin's fingers gently traced over Vala's features.
'I have no picture of her.' Tomin said.
'I only met her once.' Jonas admitted. 'But I think she had a point; what true God requires worship through force? Through death and destruction?'
Tomin gestured at him with the photo. 'You're asking me to betray my Gods!'
'You're not betraying them!' Jonas argued back defiantly. 'They're not Gods. You would be betraying nobody.'
Tomin looked back down at the photo; his face white with tension.
'Aren't you betraying yourself in continuing the lie?' Jonas continued softly. 'I know something about that. I once believed in my government; I once believed in my work so much so that I was willing to lie and let a good man who had saved my life and many others die with his name and reputation ruined so that the work could continue because it was important to the government's safety.'
He could tell that he had Tomin's attention and ploughed on. 'But then someone talked to me and made me realise that I had to tell the truth, and when I did I saw the truth that my government was more interested in killing than defending itself; that they didn't care about the good man who would die even though he had saved us all. I did the right thing and told the truth and isn't that the point?' Jonas took another breath. 'The Book isn't wrong: truth is the beginning of the path.'
There was a long silence and Jonas held his tongue.
'Even if you...you are right, the Prior would know.' Tomin shook his head. 'There is nothing I can do.'
Jonas made a face but nodded understandingly.
Tomin moved off the desk and he made to give Jonas the photo back.
'Keep it.' Jonas offered. He had others that he had rescued from his office before he had left.
Tomin held it to his chest and gestured at him. 'I can't help you escape from here but I won't kill you.'
Jonas smiled a wry acknowledgement.
'Guards.' Tomin called out as he slipped the photo into his armour.
The doors opened and Jereb walked in with two other soldiers wearing full armour including their helmets.
'Transport him to the prison.' Tomin ordered. 'The Prior says he's not Quinn.'
Jonas almost laughed at Jereb's outrage.
'But, sir!' Jereb protested.
'We don't need a martyr.' Tomin said firmly. 'We can execute him in good time but as far as everyone is concerned this is not the leader of the Resistance.' He stepped up to Jereb. 'Do I make myself clear?'
'Yes, sir.' Jereb straightened.
Tomin held his gaze; his eyes hard and his face stern. 'Good because if I hear that this prisoner has been executed before I personally give the order, you will be summarily executed.'
Jereb swallowed hard and Jonas saw the edge of ruthlessness in Tomin that had made him the leader of the Ori army.
'Hallowed are the Ori.' Tomin said politely stepping back from Jereb.
'Hallowed are the Ori.' Jereb intoned faithfully. Jereb nodded briskly at the two soldiers and they stepped either side of Jonas. One of them touched his elbow and he allowed himself to be pulled away. His last view of Tomin was the Ori commander bent over the plans as he had been when Jonas had originally entered.
The guards followed Jereb through the corridors towards the back staircase. At the top, Jereb paused, holding his hand up so the guards came to a halt. He looked at Jonas and down the concrete steps. He smiled suddenly.
Jonas felt his heart begin to pound with concern, reading the other man's intention to throw him down the stairs. 'You're really going to risk it?'
Jereb's smile widened. 'Accidents happen.'
'Sir.' The young guard piped up nervously on the left of Jonas, drawing both of their attention. 'Our orders were to transport the prisoner.'
Jonas held back a breath as he recognised the voice as Errold.
Jereb glared at the soldier. 'You are my soldiers. Loyal to me.'
'Actually, no,' said the soldier on the right, revealing herself to be a woman. 'We're loyal to Jonas.'
Jereb spun around, his hand reaching for his weapon but it was too late. Terra shot him point blank with an Ori staff weapon. Jereb's chest armour took most of the blow but it sent him reeling backwards, teetering on the edge of the staircase before he fell down it, bouncing from one step to another until his head slammed into the far wall of the landing with a loud crack.
Jonas didn't wait. He skipped down the steps and crouched over Jereb. The Ori soldier's eyes were wide open and sightless; dead. He sighed.
'We can't afford to leave him here.' Terra said quietly as the others arrived by his side.
Jonas stood up. 'You have Kianna's zat?' It was one of the few Anat had left behind.
Errold handed it over. Jonas took it and opened it. His jaw set as he fired into Jereb three times. The body disintegrated. He had berated Tomin for massacring innocents but he had killed many Ori soldiers in the skirmishes between the Resistance and the Ori soldiers. It left him as it always did with a hollow feeling in his gut. He turned angrily to glare at his team-mates.
'What are you doing here?' he demanded. 'You're supposed to be with the Stargate.'
'Beta team is with the Stargate.' Terra replied defiantly. 'You didn't think we'd leave you behind, did you?'
Jonas had no reply; the urge to yell competed with the more pressing urge to get them all to safety. He pulled a face. 'We should move.'
Terra nodded. 'Ring rooms; Kianna is waiting for us.'
They walked through the building swiftly, keeping the pretence of Jonas being their prisoner, until they came to the ring room. Terra stunned the guards there with the zat before they could even question their presence.
Terra raised the communicators Kianna had devised. 'Kianna, we're in position.'
'So am I.' Kianna responded. 'Activating rings now.'
The rings dropped down and a white light filled Jonas's vision. When it cleared, they no longer stood in the ring room but rather the hold of a Goa'uld cargo ship. It had been Anat's; Kianna had remembered its existence three months before and they had discovered it cloaked in a field on the outskirts of the city.
'We're cloaked,' Kianna called over her shoulder, 'but we should leave.'
'Go!' Jonas ordered.
Errold reached for his hands to untie him and Jonas stood patiently while his bonds were cut. He massaged his sore wrists.
'They did quite a number on you.' Terra noted. She had taken off the helmet to reveal her heart-shaped freckled face. She tsked briskly as she examined his wounds. 'You should never have gone in alone.'
Jonas sighed; it was an old argument. 'Casualties?'
'Maisie and Todd.' Errold informed him. 'They were both shot in the ambush for the Stargate convoy.'
The loss of their friends had them all take a moment of remembrance; of grief. Jonas closed his eyes. Had it been worth it? Had his plan been worth the loss of life? He opened his eyes again. 'And the Stargate?'
Errold ran a hand through the shock of blond curly hair that he had released from the Ori helmet. 'In transit to the new base, Jonas.' He clapped Jonas hard on the shoulder and Jonas winced. 'We did it!'
'Let's not get too excited.' Jonas cautioned, even as a glow of satisfaction loosened the knot in his stomach. 'We still have to get it to work.'
'We'll get the Stargate to work.' Errold said optimistically. He grinned. 'We can do anything.'
Kianna shot an amused look over her shoulder at their youngest member. Terra rolled her eyes. Jonas finally let out a quiet breath; tiredness swamping him in the wake of their escape and the end of the mission. He couldn't wait to climb into a bed and sleep.
They had achieved their goals: they had taken back the Stargate and they had talked with Tomin. And, even if it hadn't been in his plan, his team had saved him.
It had taken them five days and Kianna working almost non-stop before the liberated Stargate and the DHD would work. It was another time her Goa'uld knowledge had come in useful and he could see the stress of remembering in her eyes as she nodded at him. He wondered how many more times they would need her knowledge and she would give it before she broke.
He stared up at the silver Stargate with its etched symbols and amber chevrons. It was a symbol for them; a hope that they would make it through the occupation of the Ori forces. He glanced around. The military missile base was on the outskirts of the city and long abandoned. Terra had known of its existence. They were deep underground; the upper levels had been left in disarray to continue the deception that it was disused, but the Resistance had made the lower levels their new home. The Stargate resided on the lowest level, lowered through a missile silo funnel by a winch attached to the cargo ship. Their surroundings were austere; grey and concrete but it felt like home to Jonas.
Jonas was just pleased that their activity in getting the Stargate into place had gone unnoticed with the furore that had happened in the city following his seeming disappearance from the Congress building along with Jereb. There were rumours of miracles and magic in the general populace, and Errold was keeping it going. The tide was turning against the Ori.
'When you're ready, Jonas.' Kianna prompted as she took her place beside him.
The rest of the gate room -- the few guards they had posted including Terra, a couple of other scientists and engineers Kianna had working with her, and Errold looked at him expectantly.
For a second, he froze. What if it didn't work? What if they could never make it work? He glanced at Kianna who looked back at him encouragingly. She'd keep working until it worked; just like Sam.
He took a deep breath and pressed down on the first symbol. He watched the Stargate light up in response. He held his breath through the rest of the Earth address that was so familiar to him. The wormhole erupted violently before it settled into a rippling blue puddle. A cheer went up from the assembled group and Jonas placed a hand on Kianna's shoulder.
'Good job.' He said sincerely.
She flushed with pleasure and handed him a communicator. From the corner of his eye, he saw Errold hug her and Terra sling an arm around her.
Jonas pressed down on the send. 'Stargate Command, this is Langara. Security code Alpha-Omega-Tango-Four.'
There was a long pause and Jonas could feel everyone holding their breath as they waited.
The speaker crackled. 'This is Stargate Command, Langara.' A woman's voice flowed out and the room broke out into a babble of noise again. 'We're happy to hear from you.'
'Sam, is that you?' Jonas radioed as Terra whistled to regain silence.
'It's me, Jonas.' Sam sounded choked up. 'We thought...it's just good to hear your voice.'
'I know the feeling.' Jonas said with a huff of laughter.
'Do you have the safety word?' Sam asked.
Jonas raised his eyebrows, his lips twitching. 'Cake.'
'Mister Quinn, this is General Landry.' The gruff overtone of the SGC commander sounded out into the room.
'General, sir.' Jonas said politely, conjuring up the picture of the portly man with his brush of brown spiky hair and piercing eyes that went with the voice. 'On behalf of the Langaran Resistance and as a former ally, I'd like to formally request your help.'
'What do you need, son?' Landry asked.
'Supplies. Food, medicine, weapons.' Jonas said. 'As much as you can spare.'
'We'll send a MALP and a team through shortly.' Landry said.
'Understood.' Jonas said.
'SGC, out.' Landry replied quickly.
The wormhole winked out.
'MALP?' Errold frowned, only understanding the term from Jonas's many tales of his year with SG1. 'Why would they send a MALP?'
'Because they want to make sure Jonas is not under duress before they send a team through.' Terra explained.
'It's standard procedure.' Jonas added.
Terra nodded approvingly. She looked over at him. 'You'll use your office to debrief and discuss further requirements?'
Jonas grimaced but nodded. The room was cramped and uncomfortable but it was practically the only private place in the base.
The wait was excruciating. Mixed emotions skittered through him. So much hope; so much anticipation filled him. He hoped SG1 would make the trip but he couldn't let himself believe it. He'd missed them all so much. He paced restlessly despite the look Terra shot him which clearly told him to stop.
Finally, the Stargate lit up again.
Kianna stirred from her position by the DHD. 'Incoming wormhole.'
Everyone watched as the MALP made its way through and the camera swept the room. Jonas waved and attempted a smile but his emotions were too close to the surface.
A few moments later the blue puddle shifted and two men stepped out. Jonas recognised one as Colonel Cameron Mitchell, the SG1 leader but it was the Jaffa who had Jonas moving forward without conscious thought.
He warmly clasped Teal'c's forearm and Teal'c's other hand landed on his shoulder, his dark eyes drinking in the sight of Jonas with unhidden happiness. Jonas's looked over his old friend and noted the new lines that were carved into Teal'c's heavy features and the streak of grey through his hair. He couldn't speak to greet the Jaffa; his throat had closed up as relief and joy rocked him.
'Jonas Quinn.' Teal'c said softly.
'Jonas.' Sam's quiet prompt had Jonas finally tearing his eyes away from Teal'c and belatedly realising the rest of the team had stepped through.
The Jaffa released him and Jonas stepped forward into Sam's embrace; his arms locked tightly around her.
'Sam.' Jonas managed to say her name all too aware of how he shook in her hold.
'I know.' Sam whispered in his ear. Her voice was thick with tears. His own tears threatened at the hint of hers. She gave a smile and released him and he let go of her reluctantly, absently aware of the wormhole winking out.
Daniel stepped forward next and Jonas accepted the handshake and manly hug; using the moment to wrangle his swirling emotions back into place.
'Hey.' Jack grinned and before Jonas could react he pulled him into another brief hug. Jack let him go just as quickly, patting him on the shoulder. 'Jonas.' He gestured with his cap. 'I like what you've done with the place.'
The familiar irreverence had Jonas smiling. 'I didn't expect to see you, General.'
Jack shrugged but his eyes gave away his pleasure at being there. 'I was in the neighbourhood.'
Jonas looked at each of them again and nodded an acknowledgement at Vala Mal Doran and Mitchell who were both smiling, evidently happy for their team-mates at the reunion. 'It's so good to see you all again.'
'Likewise.' Mitchell drawled. He gestured at the two FREDs that had apparently travelled through while Jonas had been greeting the others. 'Supplies.'
'Including,' Jack reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a banana. He handed it to Jonas with a smirk.
Jonas took it and smiled, waving it as his former team leader. 'You have no idea how much I've missed these.' His eyes were on his old team-mates and not the fruit though.
Jack's smiled faded, a serious look entering his brown eyes. 'So, we should talk.'
Jonas nodded. 'This way.' He exchanged a quick look with Terra and she signalled she would see to the supplies.
They squashed into the office as best they could. Jack had taken one visitor chair, Sam the other. Mitchell stayed by the door; his hand on his weapon. Teal'c remained beside Mitchell. Daniel and Vala stood at the back of the room.
Jonas elected to sit on the front of his desk as he filled them in on the Resistance; on the mission to liberate the Stargate.
'How was Tomin?' Vala was the first to speak when Jonas fell silent. Genuine concern seeped through her attempt to keep her comment flippant.
'He's OK.' Jonas said. 'I think he could be ready to come over.'
'Really?' Jack questioned with his usual cynicism.
Teal'c raised his eyebrow. 'It is not easy for a man to betray those he believes are Gods.'
'Maybe not,' Jonas conceded, 'but Tomin's not happy with the Prior and the Prior's not happy with him. I saw that with my own eyes.' He gestured toward Vala. 'I also think whatever you said to him the last time you saw him got to him.'
Vala ducked her head.
'Honestly?' Jonas continued. 'I think the guy just needs a way out.'
'It's useful to know.' Daniel commented. 'Tomin could be a very powerful ally.'
Jack looked around SG1 and Jonas hid a smile as Mitchell immediately straightened at the silent signal.
'We should probably head out and help your folks with the supplies.' Mitchell said.
The others smiled at Jonas, Teal'c inclining his head as they filed out after Mitchell, and Sam briefly stopping to squeeze his arm.
Jonas shook his head as the door shut behind them, leaving him and Jack alone. 'You have to teach me how you do that.' He commented as he folded his arms across his chest.
'Seems to me you're doing OK.' Jack said mildly. 'Getting the Stargate back and your little jaunt to talk to Tomin took some doing.'
Jonas basked in Jack's praise; he knew the other man didn't give it unless he meant it.
'You really think talking with Tomin will make a difference?' Jack asked sceptically.
Jonas made a face. 'You talking to me made a difference.'
Jack held his gaze for a heartbeat before the older man pushed out of his chair and wandered over to look at the city map that covered one wall. 'You've got a lot of cells.'
'We have more people coming forward every day.' Jonas said.
'You need to be careful.' Jack warned, pushing his hands into his pants' pockets. 'You'll get infiltrators in among the genuine article.'
Jonas nodded. 'We know.' He got up and walked over to the map. 'We've isolated all the cells from each other to minimise the risk of identification and impact if one of them is discovered.' He sighed. 'We're doing the best we can.'
'We can help you with strategy.' Jack offered. 'We have experts in guerrilla type warfare.'
'That would be great.' Jonas said.
Jack looked at him and Jonas resisted the urge to shuffle under his careful regard.
'What about you?' Jack asked eventually. 'How are you holding up?'
'I'm fine.' Jonas said quickly.
Jack just stared him down.
Jonas felt the flush travel across his cheeks and neck. He suddenly felt like it was his first day under Jack's command again. He spun away and paced back to the desk. 'I never wanted to be the leader.'
'And yet here you are.' Jack said lightly.
'Here I am.' Jonas looked up to the cracked ceiling; his eyes followed the line of damp from one side to another. 'I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know if I'm making the right decisions. I've...' his voice cracked, 'I've lost people.'
'It happens.' Jack said softly.
'How do you do it?' Jonas asked, turning around and looking at Jack. 'How do you handle it?'
Jack didn't flinch at the question. 'You do the best you can; that's all you can do.'
Jonas rubbed the back of his neck. 'I'm not sure I can do this.'
'Jonas.' Jack said with some exasperation. He rocked back on his heels and held Jonas's gaze fiercely. 'You already are.'
The words meant more to Jonas than he could have imagined. They warmed him; comforted him. He nodded jerkily. He looked at Jack desperately. 'This is real, isn't it? You're really here?'
Jack took hold of his shoulder, grounding him in reality. 'Really here.' He let go. 'And you're really a leader.'
Jonas took a deep breath. He had never wanted to be a leader but he was one. And his team might not be SG1 but they were good and they were his. Suddenly, he couldn't wait to show them off; to tell Jack about their accomplishments. He straightened. 'Come on.'
Jack motioned at him questioningly with his cap.
'I want to introduce you to my team.' And for the first time in a long while, Jonas grinned happily.
C is for Crafts
"Are you sure about this?" Sam asked, amusement and apprehension equally apparent in her voice. "You could get some plants, you know. Or an aquarium; fish are supposed to be nice."
"I'm not sure that would be a very good idea," Jonas said. "How am I supposed to take care of them if I go off-world?"
"Maybe a cactus?" Sam suggested.
"No, thanks." Jonas made a face. "The nice thing about being on base is that I'm much less likely to get stabbed."
"Except when you steal the last Jello."
"Oh, Colonel O'Neill wasn't really trying to kill me. I pretty sure of it."
"Maybe he wasn't going to kill you, but this might." Sam looked dubiously at the table.
"It'll be fine," Jonas said confidently. "I used to do this all the time."
Teal'c entered the room at that moment, saving Jonas from having to answer. "Am I interrupting an experiment?" he asked, raising an eyebrow at the equipment that in the middle of Sam's lab.
"Yes and no," Sam answered. "Jonas was just about to demonstrate some traditional Kelownan metalworking, complete with the grand Kelownan tradition of losing a finger."
"It's not that bad," Jonas protested, but despite this he found that he was starting to become nervous. "I'm going to make some pieces to put in my room. To make it more personal."
"This sounds like a profitable endeavor."
"See?" Jonas grinned. "Teal'c has faith in me!"
"Not precisely, Jonas Quinn. I meant profitable for your audience."
"Thank you, Teal'c, that means a lot to me."
Teal'c just nodded, but Jonas was getting better at spotting the subtleties of his expressions.
"If something goes wrong, I'm blaming you two for distracting me," Jonas told them. Sam elaborately mimed zipping her mouth shut, as he had first seen her do on his first recon mission. At the time, he'd had been confused by the gesture, and by the Colonel's exasperated whisper of "what are we, twelve?" The memory made him smile as he turned back to the space Sam had set up for him.
These weren't familiar tools, by and large, but they were probably close enough to get the job done. It would help if Jonas knew what, exactly, he wanted done. He didn't have a clear idea; he only knew that, for all that he got to explore amazing parts of the galaxy alongside incredible people, there was still something drab in his daily life.
Sam broke her promise of silence, but Jonas hardly minded. His hesitation must have been pretty noticeable at that point. "Where did you even learn this stuff, anyway?"
"School," he shrugged.
"So, shop class is a universal constant," Sam joked. "Though we'd need more than two points of data to extrapolate a pattern. Teal'c?"
"Jaffa warrior are trained in the mending of their armor and weapons."
"Makes sense," Jonas comments. "Though that's really more practical than the sort of thing they taught us."
"Did you have to make cast-iron bird cages?" Sam asked. Her tone was teasing, though Jonas didn't understand what joke she was making. He made a note to ask about it later.
"No, just sculptures and jewelry and things like that. We take our arts very seriously."
Sam smiled. "That's nice." It would have been, too, if it hadn't been used as another point of pride in a nation that desperately needed some humility.
"Yeah, we learned all kinds of arts. Metalwork, cartography, music, embroidery..."
Sam tried to hide a grin. "A bit of advice? Don't tell the Colonel about the embroidery."
Jonas had figured that one out for himself, though it might already have been too late; Teal'c looked like he was plotting something.
"I was never much good at it, anyway." Jonas said. He hadn't been much good at metalwork, either, and hadn't pursued it much outside of his studies.
"What about something more two-dimensional?" Sam asked. "Like painting?"
"No," Jonas laughed. "I mean, sure, you give paints to a little kid, but no one would teach it seriously."
Sam looked from Teal'c to Jonas and back again. "There has to be paint somewhere on base, right?"
"There are many strange things to be found here," Teal'c answered. "This would not be the most unusual."
There were, as it turned out, vast supplies of paint on base, though no one was entirely sure why. Whatever their intended purpose, they were quite good at making a mess in the science labs. By the time Colonel O'Neill found them, there were green and blue fingerprints on the table, Teal'c was sporting an outrageous red goatee, Jonas was trying to scrub the paint out of his hair, and Sam was putting the finishing touches on a stick-figure portrait of SG-1.
Jack peered over Sam's shoulder at her painting. "Is that one supposed to be me?" he pointed.
"Did the fishing rod give it away, sir?" she asked.
"Possibly. But you've got it all wrong. I'm taller than that. And more handsome."
Jonas tilted his head. "How can you even tell if a stick figure is handsome?"
"All the stick figure women check him out," Jack answered.
Sam rolled her eyes. "And gossip about how full of himself he is."
Jack ignored that one, and just griped, "You guys could have waited for me before starting this little party."
"You're right, it's not fair that we left you out," Jonas grinned at Teal'c brightly. "What do you think?"
"I think we must help him to catch up on all that he has missed," Teal'c answered solemnly, and the two of them raised their paintbrushes menacingly.
"Ah-ah-ah, no." Jack dove behind a table and grasped a nearby tube of paint. "Stay back! I fight dirty."
"Indeed," Teal'c nodded. "It will be a glorious battle.
"Indeed," Jonas echoed. He was having a hard time remembering how anything around this place could seem drab.
D is for Diner
Jonas lightly tapped a finger on the table, as if testing it. The beige-flecked formica table top was cluttered with an accoutrement of plates, tall glasses, cutlery and condiments. An assortment of menus-breakfast and lunch specials, drinks--was stuffed into a holder. No tablecloth. Outside of their window booth, a bustling stream of people weaved their way past. He peered at the slightly dog-eared desserts list and thought more intently about apple pie and the existence of their so-called doggy bags than perhaps he was meant to.
Sam had called it a cultural education exercise during downtime. The unspoken reality was that it was in fact a Saturday afternoon treat designed with the sole purpose of distracting them both, and he knew this. But he also knew that she had picked a place where women in yellow dresses and strange little hats served enormous burgers, milkshakes flavours he had not tried yet, and an interesting dessert menu. The Colonel had been muttering indecipherable things about meringue, apple and cherry for some time after having been told of the plan. Failing to be charmed wasn't really an option.
Their server strolled over. Swiftly removing some of the debris left over from their lunch, she poured a coffee for Sam and deposited a chocolate milkshake in front of him, replacing the vanilla one that he had tried when they had first ordered. Sam had recommended the vanilla especially. He politely smiled and shook his head when she motioned as if to take his plate.
There had been little left on there and he could have let the lady have it, especially now that Sam had finished and was attending to her coffee. Not for the first time, he'd been briefly torn between Kelownan cultural etiquette (to finish your meals at roughly the same time) and cultural necessity (that, regardless of your parent's social standing, food was not a disposable commodity to be wasted, especially in colder weather). This time, necessity - or guilt, depending on how you saw it - won, as it had done many times before. He was unsure what that said about him. Maybe it was the more casual nature of his dining experiences here, or perhaps certain things just did not matter as much as they used to anymore. Perhaps he just liked cheeseburgers too much. He reached for a couple of leftover fries and contemplated his options. Ketchup was good, but too reminiscent of something else. He'd done mayonnaise (it had been part of the great hundred--and--one--ways--with--mayo trial). Fried potato, salt...think opposites.
Sam's attention slid from the creamer she had been busily stirring into the hot coffee, focusing on him instead. She raised her eyebrows.
"I know by now that I probably shouldn't ask this, but what exactly are you doing?"
Jonas smiled--well, as best as he could through a mouthful of French fry--and casually swallowed. He reached for another. He turned guileless eyes towards her.
Sam gave him a familiar look. It could signify that she did not know whether he was being serious (although, if he was honest, ‘odd' was the more frequently used adjective) or playing with her. It could be that she wasn't especially amused; that she was indeed amused but did not want to offend him; or that she was preparing herself for a comment which could be serious but might, possibly, be a playful joke at his expense masked as seriousness. It was occasionally confusing, but made a pleasant change from the office politics he was used to, in which some colleagues would also behave in ways which could have multiple interpretations, playing a game, only their version had none of the respect or mutuality-and certainly none of the fun.
"I've seen enough of your metabolism in action to never be surprised at that again." A quick quirk of her lips, continuous eye contact-a good sign. "No," Sam continued, eyeing his hand as he automatically moved it downwards in a dunking motion. "I was referring to..." She nodded towards the incriminating object, half of it still bobbing in his chocolate milkshake.
"Oh that." He quickly finished dipping and quickly popped it in his mouth. "I sort of tried it when we were in Steveston, and it was pretty good. I like the sweet and salty thing and the different textures, I guess." He paused to pick up his neglected burger, taking in Sam's expression and the way her brows were still wrinkled in what could qualify as disgust. Amused disgust, but nevertheless, it was not exactly cultural approval. He studiously ignored the pile of fried potato on the side of the plate.
"Honestly, I was hoping that the onion rings incident was going to be a one-time only occurrence. I should have known better."
"Not usually done on Earth, I take it?"
Sam shook her head. "Ketchup is the most common, as you know. I thought I'd seen everything, but of course I could rely on you to change that."
She was quiet for a moment, hands clasped around the enamel cup, before she began again.
"Is the sweet-salty ‘thing' something that you're used to in food, then? I guessed that maybe you didn't have as much sweet food or fresh fruit, because you're never without it, but..." she broke off and looked at him expectantly.
"Kelowna is still at the stage where we have to store much of the harvest. We cure and smoke meat for the winter still, although we do have tins and cans-its tradition, I guess. You can end up with some odd combinations, though, when you're a hungry student freezing in an old library, or just working long hours." Memories rose unbidden in his mind -- sweet sliced menay on bread, of all things; wrinkled little apples, sharp on the tongue, shared between colleagues; handing an older man a cup of hot panase, made absurdly strong. He pushed them aside; and continued, "I'm ashamed to say that smoked fish and honeyed fruit may have happened."
Sam chuckled softly. "Oh, I've done worse, believe it or not. Although that's still...special."
"Seems that no matter where you go in the universe, some things are still the same." Jonas replied, attempting a smile.
"One of the many lessons I've learned over the last few years." Sam paused again.
Jonas felt the urge to tug her sleeve, look her in the eye and tell her that he already knew: that he understood that she wanted to say that eventually he'd get better, but couldn't, and that it was all right. Instead, he picked up his fork and held it indecisively above his plate, sitting silently.
Sam took a breath and asked, "Did Janet tell you that we're found somewhere for Dr Kieran to stay, here on Earth?"
"Yeah, Dr Frasier told me." Jonas answered. He put down his cutlery, carefully resting it on the side. "It's for the best. He'd get better treatment here and I really don't think that the situation there at the moment...it's not good."
"It's a very secure place and the staff are second to none. You'll be able to visit regularly." Sam said, her tone gentle. Jonas lowered his gaze. The perversity of it all hit him once again. A home that was not his country; a homeland thousands of light years away, which he'd betrayed A traitor handing over a box crammed with potential power; an old man crippled by an unstable element: two exiles in a medical facility on Earth.
But there were colleagues --friends --who brought him to traditional diners, knowing--even hoping--that he would wonder why there was no tablecloth when he'd seen one at Steveston, that he would order a giant burger, eat everything that they recommended, and that yes, despite her protests, that he would test fries with milkshakes next. She was trying with him, had always tried, even when she didn't much want to. He put the straw of his shake in his mouth and drank slowly. Not for the first time, he told himself that it was working.
"Thanks for bringing me here. I know that I'm not the easiest person to arrange to have taken off-base, even if it is for a few hours, but...thank you. Especially after the onion rings incident."
A smile broke out across Sam's features--as if she was relieved.
"You have no idea how it haunts me," she replied, her face now schooled in pretend seriousness. "Nearly as much as the thought of where all that fat is going." She reached out her hand and lightly poked his wrist. He made a sound of mock-protest and slid his hand away.
Returning his attention to the plate in front of him, he deliberated before finally choosing fries over onion rings. His hand hovered over the frothy chocolate concoction in its tall glass.
"Care to try?" He grinned at her.
"Oh, I'm good. Full. Really full. By the way, if you keep doing that in public, I'm making you pay."
"I don't have a card. Or a bank account." He chewed thoughtfully. "Well, I don't think that I have one. Do I?"
"When we can all remember what happened with Teal'c a couple of years ago? That's a no." Sam put down her coffee and purposefully tilted her head at his plate--before quickly leaning over and stealing one of the very last fries remaining. She popped it into her mouth whole.
"Hmm, maybe not that full."
E is for Extrovert
One week after his return, when Daniel had finally stopped calling him Jim, Jack took him home to stay in his guest room, until the paperwork, filed and re-filed in triplicate (what was it about un-dead, but no-not-a-zombie that those idiots who read these forms at the Pentagon just didn't get?) would clear the way to get him his salary, his back pay, and his driver's license returned to him. His stuff wasn't a problem, having been divided between Carter's garage and his own. Well, except the piano. Turns out you could get specialized humidity and temperature controlled storage for them. Who knew?
Now both men were lounging on Jack's deck, on a Sunday morning, each with a coffee cup in his hand. Daniel's was, to Jack's eye, unappetizingly white with milk, and probably almost as sweet as his own. Daniel had made great inroads in his, being accustomed to swilling the stuff still hot on a regular basis, whether he remembered this or not. Jack was in no hurry, and was paying more attention to the Sports Section than to his steaming mug.
Jack looked over sharply. Daniel's eyes were twinkling, just a little. So. Just yanking his chain, then.
Daniel apparently decided that the chain was yanked enough.
"Jonas Quinn. I got to work with him for a bit, but at the time I was a little busy trying to figure out who the hell I was, and what it was I needed to remember to get us all through it safely and back home. I didn't really get a sense of what he was like. Tell me something about him!"
This was a familiar feeling for Jack. It felt exactly the same way when his tenth grade English teacher had handed out sheets of paper one day and told them to write a poem about something significant in their daily lives. The vast whiteness of the paper had been more intimidating than Nelson High's bruiser of an enforcer. He had no idea where to begin.
"Anything?" prompted Daniel.
"He liked bananas. A lot," said Jack.
"Well actually he was pretty enthusiastic about all our food. Carter says when she took him to Steveston -- "
"Steveston? Where is that?"
"Washington State somewhere, I think."
"You weren't there?"
No way in hell was he going to explain where he had been. Those memories were in the forbidden zone of Jack's mental attic, surrounded by yellow warning tape and barbed wire. Silence grew, deepened, and spread over the landscape like the chemical fog over Bhopal, sucking the life out of everything. Jack could swear it even got darker out, until he realized that a cloud had scudded across the sun. Still, he held his tongue.
"But what was he like? What did you feel about him when he first came? What made you choose him for SG-1? What did he add to the team? What were his talents? I know you liked him, or you wouldn't have told him he earned his spot on SG-1 when he left."
Jack saw again the grin, alloyed of pride and relief that Jonas had given him after Jack had told him that, and felt again the twinge of guilt that came with it. He was so bad at that sort of thing. Jonas had needed the words, and time after time Jack had failed to find them, until, at the last possible moment, as Jonas stood there looking so earnest and young, and tongue-tied himself, as if he really was one of Jack's kids, he finally found a way. Lame, oblique, but apparently enough. He should have managed it sooner.
And now Daniel needed an answer. Jack searched for one.
"Hammond wanted me to take a Russian on the team," he said.
But that was not the reason why Jack had picked Jonas. It had been a factor, sure, but not the main reason.
Jack looked up from the stack of files, each containing the dried and sanitized career of a Russian soldier, along with an identifying photograph, all in Russian, with a sheet inserted by some poor bilingual wage slave in the Pentagon, who had provided a translation. Jack could read most of the information in the original (although he saw no reason why anyone should know this but himself) but he found it very helpful, in that the translation spelled out all of the abbreviations used in the original. Bureaucracy was apparently the same the world over, and the Soviet military was just as acronym-happy as the USAF. He closed the last of the files, and with a feeling of having earned his reward, began to address himself to the piece of carrot cake that had been patiently awaiting his attention just a little to the right of his elbow. A tray containing a full plate of the day's cooked entrée, some vegetables and Tater Tots, two smaller plates, each with a different cake, in this case one serving of carrot cake and one of the chocolate cake, a banana, a full glass of milk, and all the requisite cutlery and paper goods suddenly appeared before him. Glancing up he looked straight into the grinning, eager face of Jonas Quinn.
"Do you mind if I keep you company, Colonel?" he asked politely.
In deference to Carter's plea that he consider Jonas' role in saving the Earth, Jack quashed the knee-jerk reaction to say "Yes!" loudly, and with emphasis. Jack could hold a grudge with the best of them, as Frank Cromwell could have attested, and as far as he was concerned, what had happened to Daniel was way worse than his own little sojourn in Iraq. Carter had said he should give him a chance, and Carter was smart and a better person than he was, so he was trying to fight his natural inclination to turn this into his own Tau'ri wrinkle on the Jaffa revenge thing.
"You're going to get fat," Jack offered instead.
Jonas glanced at his flat and toned abdomen with a momentary expression of concern, but in short order his grin was back.
"I'll keep that in mind," he said. "I just have such trouble deciding. It's all so new and delicious! Did you know that this cake," he waved his fork in the direction of the carrot cake, "actually has vegetables in it? Airman Sibley explained that carrots are generally naturally quite sweet, which makes them suitable for use in a dessert. He says that on Thursday there will be a sweet sort of bread, zucchini bread, which contains a less sweet vegetable. He says I'll probably be surprised by how much I enjoy that too."
The information came out in an eager and enthusiastic rush, accompanied by a joyous grin and expansive waving of his fork. There was something heart-stoppingly familiar about all this, but Jack could not quite figure out what it was.
"Airman Morton told me that the meat course contains six different herbs and spices. The parsley is grown right here in your United States, but each of the others comes from a separate country. He directed me to a book in your base library which is all about the various spices available, their botanical classifications, their habits of growth, where they are grown, and their uses in various regional cuisines. A whole book! I'm looking forward to reading it. He tells me that Kentucky Fried Chicken has eleven herbs and spices in it."
Jack's heart clenched painfully as he suddenly knew what this reminded him of -- Charlie at the dinner table, seated before a plate of Sara's spaghetti and to-die-for meatballs, hardly able to get a bite in edgewise as he explained eagerly all the latest information about dinosaurs that he'd learned since Jack had last been home. Maybe if Carter was there she would add to the illusion by reminding him to put his napkin in his lap and be careful with his hands if he didn't want to end up spilling that milk. So eager, so full of the joy of discovery, so passionate about sharing it all, but Charlie was gone while Jonas was here. Jack felt a flicker of anger that this was so, but it was dwarfed by the wave of protectiveness that swelled to drown it out.
"So that's why you took him onto the team? He wasn't a Russian?" Daniel asked.
"Well, that and coming up with an idea to save the world. And he was a quick learner."
Daniel looked sharply at Jack at this. Like many very bright minds, Daniel was intellectually competitive. If he and Sam had not had such different areas of interest and such contrasting methods of solving problems, it could have been a disaster. As it was, they fed off of each other, and everyone benefitted. Still, there was not a chance in Hell that Jack was about to let him know how many games of chess he'd deliberately thrown in the course of their friendship.
"He handled the language and cultures piece for us, but he couldn't have done it without your journals. The way he translated stuff was...different."
Jack took a moment to ponder this.
"You learn a language, and well...it's a part of you. When you translate it's like you're using an arm or a leg. It just comes naturally. For Jonas it was like a puzzle, or an equation to solve. He had to reason it out."
Jack was not about to say how quickly Jonas could do that. No sense in stirring things up.
"Did you like him?"
"He was a good kid. A little enthusiastic..." Jack had a vision of Jonas in the briefing room, waiting for Hammond to come in, bouncing on his heels and grinning in anticipation of discussing the mission to come. It tended to remind Jack of how it felt on New Year's Day when Charlie would come bounding in and climb on the bed with no respect for his elders' late night or burgeoning hangovers. "He was like a Golden Retriever pup."
Daniel didn't get the point. Clearly to him, a dog was a dog, and breeds were immaterial.
"Eager to please," Jack explained.
"You must have hated that," said Daniel.
"No. Yes. Well, a little."
"So you did your Colonel Curmudgeon act."
"Did he fit in well with the rest of the team?"
"Oh yeah! He and Teal'c had their own little aliens only club. I tried to learn the secret handshake, but there was this secret hidden part they wouldn't share. And you had to present an offworld birth certificate to get the decoder ring. Of course he and Carter were both fluent in geek-speak. I don't know what they were always muttering about, but they seemed to get very excited by it."
Daniel was silent for a moment, staring down into the bottom of his mug. Jack couldn't decide whether he was looking for runes or waiting for more coffee to magically appear. When he looked up the china-blue eyes were uncertain and a little troubled.
"I've been trying to remember what it was like when I was..." Here he broke off and waved wordlessly skyward with the hand that wasn't holding the mug.
"Ascended. I keep having this feeling that there's a reason why I was sent back, that I'm here for something important. But it sounds like you were all doing just fine without me."
Well this was fine and unmanly territory! Jack shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
"Carter really missed you," he offered. "And Teal'c had no one to hit the museum trail with."
"You're a better fit for the team, Daniel. Jonas was brave, thrifty, trustworthy, loyal, and he handled the responsibilities of the job well, but he was...different from the rest of us."
Jack had a kaleidoscope of images of Jonas. Jonas plunging eagerly into a crowd of interested villagers, in a pelter to begin exchanging information. A vision of him sitting on the edge of an exam bed in the infirmary getting a minor graze from a knife tended to, flirting shamelessly with the nurses. Jonas enthusing at a mile a minute about the Christmas customs that Sgt. Hanrahan had been explaining to him. Leaning eagerly over the briefing table to ask Jack to tell him all about the Easter bunny. Was it true that it was a pagan symbol of fertility transmuted for use in a Christian festival? Jonas spilling forth an encyclopedic compendium of facts about motorcycles at Carter when she'd explained why she was wearing her leathers, facts apparently gathered from talking to Siler and Airman Martin. A picture of him, tired and debilitated from the emergency surgery to remove the brain tumor that almost killed him, concerned that maybe he had not held out quite long enough to really make a difference.
There was a quality to Jonas that none of the rest of SG-1 had. It made him stick out like a shiny new bumper on an old banger of a truck.
"He's an extrovert," said Jack. "You're much more...restful."
"Ah," said Daniel. He gave one more swift glance into the bottom of his mug, as if to make sure that no more coffee had appeared, and then set it down on the deck beside him.
Silence fell, a comfortable silence, each man lost in his own thoughts.
F is for Fish
Fish don't sleep. Well, no, that's not entirely true. We sleep. We just don't sleep the way you lumbering, bipedal creatures do. How you live with all those appendages flailing about is beyond me. You all look like distorted starfish. And how come you never move up or down but only side to side? But that's for another time. Fish don't sleep. We hover. We move our fins. We become one with the air. But we don't really sleep. It's great--if you're a fish.
Jonas doesn't sleep either. He's not a fish; he's just a poor bipedal who moves only sideways but never up and down. Actually, that's not true. He moves up and down using his... legs I think they're called... to crawl on rocks and retrieve big square things (books?) to put in front of him. But he doesn't sleep. He puts his head down on another square rock called desk, and he does the most bizarre thing: he loses his eyes. I'm not sure how he does it, but pieces of skin cover up his eyeballs. Yech! Then, minutes later, he's up and moving again. His fins--arms, they're called arms--move constantly. He'd make a good fish.
Sometimes his movement brings him here to our world, and when he comes we fly up to meet him. He feeds us; sometimes he talks to us. Sometimes he watches us dance for him. But he never comes to join us, although he sticks his digits in our air and makes it move. Mostly though, our protective shield keeps him separate from us. Just as well, the size he is. It's nice to have him visit but I wouldn't want him to live here.
Sometimes he disappears and the space beyond our barrier is empty of bipedals. Then I can see only weird rocks all made of eerie straight lines--which is not natural, I tell you. But Jonas... when he flies away, he's gone for a long time--a long time. The place through which he disappears is called door, and he must vanish into another universe because I can't see him. When door opens again, we usually get fed. I hate it when door opens and we don't get fed.
I've heard of a place beyond door that's called ocean, but I've never seen it. One of the big fish Jonas brought to join us told us--he was a bold colorful creature with glowing fins and a big appetite--he told us of Ocean and a world outside Door. I'm sure he was delirious because he didn't last long, poor fella. He was hovering on the edge of the barrier by the next morning. But it does give me something to think about. I'd like to travel outside of our air and into the mysterious vacuum world beyond, but not yet. Exploration is dangerous, you know, and I'm too young to die--even in a search for Ocean.
Anyway, Jonas often disappears and then comes back. He always feeds us before he does anything else. Often when he's back, he moves to another container that has fish in it. I think he calls it computer. The other fish swim past him in computer until he shoos them away. I've tried to call to them but they don't hear me. They're pretty stupid, too, those fish, because they swim the same way all the time. It's no wonder Jonas shoos them away. I'm not sure what it is he's staring at after they're gone, but it's better than deaf, moronic fish. Of course, he always comes back to us.
Sometimes other bipedals come to join him. Sam, Teal'c, and Colonel: that's what Jonas calls them. They seem nice even though they often drag Jonas through Door and make him vanish. Sometimes they even feed us.
Jonas has been gone for a long time now, and the room is filled with another bipedal who never sleeps. I don't know his name yet, but Colonel, Teal'c, and Sam come in to see him all the time. The new bipedal feeds us and talks to us, but he's not Jonas. Sometimes he goes through Door and disappears, but so far, he always comes back.
I wonder if Jonas went exploring through Door and found Ocean in another universe? If so, I hope he's happy out there.
F is for Finally
It's been a tough mission for all of us, but for the other members of SG-1, it's been surreal. It started when we found Doctor Jackson, found him on a planet I chose because I thought it contained information about the Lost City of the Ancients. Instead, it was the City of the Lost, and we discoved nothing I expected. I still don't know how we'll find the lost city, but I do know we found a treasure even more worthwhile: we found a living, breathing legend--and for the colonel, Sam, and Teal'c, a friend.
I've always been in awe of Doctor Jackson; I think most people at the SGC were... are. But having the opportunity to work with him was a real eye-opener. He's sharp and funny, and he's got the same tenacity and courage I remember from his first visit to Kelowna. I've never forgotten what he did for my people--and what I didn't do. I know I've spent months at the SGC trying to make amends for that. The powers that be on my world treated him like an criminal. I know better. He saved them, and I stood by and did nothing.
Teal'c called me a "probie" once, in the infirmary--just before Doctor Fraiser place him on tretonin. I had to go look it up. It means someone who is on probation or on trial. It means that the probie is still learning, but that his or her position isn't guaranteed. Boy, is that the truth. Teal'c always made me feel like a member of the team. I think as an "alien" he understood something of what I was going through. Sam, too, made me welcome. She dragged me out of the office to eat, and helped me find my way around this new world. I think she even smoothed the way for me to be on SG-1.
Colonel O'Neill, though, he's a different story. I've always been on trial with him. He's never really taken to me, never really warmed to me because I'm not Daniel. It's not surprising, given the circumstances, but I had hoped, with time, he'd come around. I wanted him to do more than let me be on the team; I wanted do more than fill a missing spot. I wanted to fit in.
When we were hiding in the armory of Aphothis' ship, Daniel told me that the colonel said I was a a good man. Could of fooled me. Daniel also told me I could keep the office. We got off the ship; we saved Kelowna (whether it deserved it or not); we made it back to Earth. And then I had time to think. As much as I love the job, I'm not sure I love it enough to stay--even for the office. Like I said, tough mission.
I left Daniel's tools on his desk. And I left all my notes. He did the same for me a year ago, unknowingly, of course. I read all of Daniel's mission journals to get information about the SGC; I read a lot of his reference books too. So I'll return the favor and leave all my research for him to go through. He'll settle in after I've gone, and knowing Daniel, he'll figure out where the real Lost City is. I hope he lets me know because I'm curious.
I'm packed and ready. My people need me--or they say they do, and Daniel's people need him. If I've learned anything from my time on Earth, I've learned that good people have to work together to solve their problems. To do that, I have to go home.
General Hammond has been more than a leader to me; he's been a friend, almost a father. When he calls me son, I know he means it. I'm going to miss him. Teal'c is my teacher and friend, and my role model. I've never met anyone with more honor than Teal'c. He told me I have a warrior spirit. I hope he's right because I think I'll see more battles at home than I did on all my missions with SG-1. Sam is a amazing. She's smart and kind and warm. How did I manage to get through each day without Sam in it? She understands me, I think. Maybe it's because we're both scientists. Daniel said I was very "up." I have Sam to thank for that. I'll keep in touch with Teal'c and Sam because they're family. You can't go through what we've gone through together and not become close.
I didn't expect the goodbye I got from Colonel O'Neill. After giving me a hard time about my hair, he smiled at me and said, "You've earned it." It took me a minute to figure out what he meant. At first I thought he meant my new position on the on the joint ruling council, but I don't think so. I think he meant the handshake. He shook my hand to say goodbye, a gesture of friends and equals--a gesture of respect. It surprised me, but he's right, I earned it.
I hope I told Daniel to feed my fish.
G is for Good Pie
"You're kidding me, right? There must have been someone."
"What about while you were at school? I take it you did go."
Jonas raised his eyebrows at her, questioningly. "To school?"
"What? Yes, of course to school." Sam had been tracing lazy circles around the rim of her coffee cup for almost an hour now and the strong brew had gone cold. "What else would I mean?"
"I just wanted to be sure. And no, there was no one at school either. Not at school and not later at college. I never seemed to find the time."
"All study and no play?"
Jonas enjoyed the commissary at this time of the night. Though not by design, he and Sam had set a routine of meeting here on the nights she didn't go home. Pie and coffee were the norm and the conversation was easy. There was only ever the two of them though. Teal'c always said his quiet goodbyes and retired to his room, never taking up their offer of company, and Colonel O'Neill, well... Jonas still wasn't able to read the man's moods, so he gave up asking.
"More like, all study or no future," he said at last.
"What do you mean?"
The pie's crust was cold, and the cream had warmed to a sloppy mess on the plate. Jonas pushed it around with a piece of apple, but had lost interest in it. "Kelownans are wealthy people," he said, staring off into the distance. "The upper echelon jobs are filled by those whose families have enough money to buy them positions. Those that don't, well, they have to be the best in their field or be left behind. It's really as simple as that. My father was an exobiologist working on a dig site just outside the capital, and my mother was an architect."
"Pretty impressive credentials there."
"Uh-huh, and yet not enough. By Earth standards they'd be regarded as blue collar workers and nothing more. That's the reason they only had one child: between the two of them, they earned enough of an income to live comfortably and put me through college, but not enough to guarantee me a lucrative position."
"Wow," Sam remarked, reaching for the coffee pot to pour herself a fresh cup. "Sounds like a dog eat dog society."
"Dog eat dog?"
"Oh," she winced, "it's a cultural reference, meaning ‘ruthless occupation or industry'. Something along those lines."
"The Tau'ri have some very unusual sayings."
"Well, we're an unusual people. So, you were saying? All work and no play?"
"Basically, I couldn't afford the time to socialize. My degrees in ancient Kelownan history, social studies, and finally ethical sciences, were enough to get a place on Dr. Kieran's team, but it was hard fought. The project was top secret and presided over by a military oversight committee. If it hadn't been for the ethical considerations brought up by factions within the Kelownan government, I doubt there would have been a place there for me at all. Sometimes, I think..."
He pushed his plate away. "It's nothing."
"Come on." Sam reached out and rested her hand over his. "You can't start something and just leave it like that."
Jonas pulled his hand away, and leaning back in his chair, he regarded her closely. Their fledgling friendship was one of a very few he'd established since defecting to Earth. He didn't mind the lack of solid company, as he was used to living a solitary life divided between home and work, but on Kelowna, he knew his place. Here, he was still trying to feel his way through a society he was unfamiliar with, in an establishment in which he wasn't quite sure he belonged.
The patch he wore on his shoulder didn't quite fit comfortably yet, and served two purposes, neither of which he was happy about, but neither of which he could avoid the reality of.
It marked him. It gave him a place within the structure of the SGC that he could be proud of, but it also served as a reminder to others of what they'd lost. He could see it in the faces of the people he worked with, their eyes drawn to the familiar patch, smiles dying for a moment, to be replaced with a falseness they couldn't quite disguise.
He'd seen it with Sam. While he accepted her assessment of his new station, he could still hear the sadness in her voice.
He took a deep breath, held it for a moment. "Sometimes," he began, "... sometimes I wonder if we were too naive. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. It seemed as if we never took the time to stand back and look at our accomplishments, risk assess... I don't know. I feel as though my people stumbled blindly around in the dark with the naquadria project, and look where we ended up."
"Don't do this to yourself." Sam leaned in closer, pushing her coffee cup to one side. "This is how we learn, Jonas, your world, mine, and probably thousands of others. Our mistakes are our lessons, but it's what we do with those lessons that dictates how our future history unfolds. No one here is blaming you for what happened to Daniel. He knew what he was doing."
"But still, my people accused him of sabotage." He tipped his head questioningly. "How can you not blame us?"
"The accident and the accusations are two different things. Sure, okay, they're intertwined in the grand scheme of events, but desperation does this to people. It was far easier for them to blame an outsider than it was to examine their own actions. We've been through this already. I thought it was settled."
"You miss him."
"Yeah, I do miss him. I miss him a lot. But you know, even though not a day goes by when I don't see something that reminds me of him, I still would never hold you responsible." A sad smile tugged at her lips. "Neither does anyone else, okay?" Sam let the rest of the sentence hang. She'd made her point.
"You sure? I mean, I have to tell you I think Colonel O'Neill will always see me and think of what might have been." Lowering his eyes, Jonas sighed. "I don't know how to make him see me, Jonas, and not the man responsible for Dr. Jackson's death!" A flash of fire flickered in his eyes before it disappeared. "Guess I won't bother holding my breath."
A moment passed. Sam snorted softly, smiled. "Jonas, you have to take my word on this. I've known the colonel for six years and I've learned a few things about him. For all his kidding around, he's a complicated man, and he'll only allow you to see what he wants. Take each moment as it comes, don't sweat the small stuff, and he'll warm to you. Like me, he'll see the good in you."
"Ha," he laughed. "I'll be old and gray by the time that happens."
"Oh, don't be so sure."
"Right." Sam smiled slyly. "This is far too deep for coffee and pie. Let's talk Lieutenant Redman!"
"You know who I'm talking about. Don't get all innocent with me, Jonas Quinn."
"Lieutenant Redman," he rolled the name around in his mouth, brow knotting in thought. "I... I don't think I recall her."
"Sure you do! Blond, slender, blue eyes that seem to follow you around the room."
He stared open mouthed at her. "You've been watching her?"
"No." She leaned over and punched him playfully on the arm. "She's been watching you. How can you not know this? Every time we're down in supplies, she follows your every move like a hawk. You'd have to have be blind not to see it!"
"No. No. Can't say I've noticed."
"Right. I know you! You just don't want to ask her out."
"That's not it at all."
"You're chicken shit, you know that, right?" she teased.
Grinning broadly, Jonas grabbed his fork and tapped his abandoned plate. "This is good pie. You think there's more?"
H is for Home
Jonas Quinn looked with little real interest around the rooms to which he'd been assigned. In one of those nice, ironic twists of fate, it was very similar to the one where he'd spent nearly every night of his year on Earth. Stark, colorless, unornamented.
It took him awhile to unpack, since he was doing so with only one working arm. As he placed his meager personal belongings around, he wondered what had happened to his apartment. Most of his possessions he hadn't really cared about losing. But the still images, he yearned for those with an almost tangible ache. He expected those had been burned -- probably publicly -- and the ashes scattered to the winds of fortune.
The image of his parents on the day they took their vows, so solemn, yet with a suppressed glow of happiness. The sister whose brutally short life he could barely remember. The first girl he had ever kissed, ever loved.
The Tau'ri called them photographs and Jonas liked that word. Because weren't those images dots on a plane that could be connected to map out the story of your life?
They'd told him the room had been scrubbed clean, that it held no residue of radiation but Jonas still hesitated. He knew how lucky he'd been that day. What he didn't know was why. Why his life had been spared, what force kept him from being irradiated when Dr. Jackson dove unflinchingly through the protective glass.
He'd thought watching the Kelownian scientists die had been the worst thing he'd ever witnessed. But that was before he'd watched Dr. Jackson die through the flat, emotionless eyes of Colonel O'Neill and the rest of Dr. Jackson's beloved and bewildered family.
He stopped at the door and read the plaque that had been mounted there.
With eternal gratitude.
Dr. Elias Keeler
Dr. Marre Fann
As she did every morning Ambassador Krinn Dreylock paused at the same door. Someone had adhered a small piece of paper to the plaque. She read the name that had been added, recognized the precise handwriting, smiled a bit and walked away.
I is for Intuition
It wasn't actually the kiss that tipped him off. Tau'ri morals might be more relaxed than those on Kelowna, but Jonas wasn't so naïve to think that they were the gold standard across the galaxy.
Besides, acting a little blasé about the whole thing didn't seem to hurt his standing with the colonel either. Jonas had picked up that particular trick up from watching Major Carter preface her answers with an 'I don't know, sir', right before launching into a lengthy and complicated explanation that was usually interrupted by the colonel telling her to 'just make it work Carter'.
Jonas was pretty sure that Sam usually did know, and knew very well. He'd caught her wide-eyed 'oh' of sudden comprehension on more than one occasion. He'd watched her flip through notes and call up schematics at a pace best described as manic, while her mind jumped from thought to theory to solution in less time than it took most people to realize there even was a problem.
Jonas knew that itch. That feeling of absolute certainty that there was something more, something just beyond the tangible; if he could just turn over just one more piece of the puzzle, all the clues would slide neatly into place. The lights would come on, the fog would lift, and there would be the answer, illuminated from above like the ship in that Rembrandt painting of the storm.
Well, maybe not quite that dramatic, but being blindsided by clarity was never gentle, in his experience.
Intuition, he'd said when Reynard had asked, and that was probably closest to the truth. As close as he'd admit to in front of a gateroom full of the people whose trust he'd been trying his darnedest to earn. People who probably weren't interested in the hops and leaps his mind took; the bounce from Seberus-the-ship to Cerberus-the-three-headed dog of the underworld to Ceberus-the-prison-transport, with side trips to scenic lookouts along the way.
People who put their faith in their own intuition and trusted it to bring them home at the end of the day.
Colonel O'Neill didn't need to know how he knew that he could trust Warrick. Just that he could.
The colonel had his own way of gathering facts and filing them away for later reference. Jonas wondered what it would take before O'Neill had collected enough to trust him.
He'd posed that very question to Teal'c because at one time, the Jaffa had worn those same shoes. Teal'c, being his usual insightful self, had cryptically suggested that perhaps O'Neill was just waiting for Jonas to trust himself.
It wasn't until much later that it hit Jonas. Not in a flash, but a slow-dawning realization that snuck up when he wasn't looking. These people weren't the premiere team at the SGC because their names had been randomly selected from a hat. They were SG-1 because equal parts luck, skill, and individual talent had allowed them to achieve the impossible. The colonel didn't need to know a whit about the decay rate of naquadria, and Sam could depend on Teal'c to notice the tiny details and ask questions free of cultural blinders. Teal'c, for his part, knew without a doubt that he could put his faith in O'Neill because Jack understood that honor wasn't just a five-letter word.
And round and round it went, each stepping in to fill a role when needed.
The thing was, Jonas realized, not a single one of them had ever commented on his brains or his enthusiastic curiosity. They didn't treat him as an oddity, but rather, saw his potential to be complimentary.
There were roles he could fill. Places he could fit. The spaces were there.
He just needed to trust his intuition.
J is for Jonas (and Jack and Jaffa)
"What are you looking so smug about?" O'Neill pulled out a chair and sat down opposite Teal'c.
"I was not aware that I appeared to be smug."
"Well, you are. What's up?"
"I have been sparring with Jonas Quinn. I won."
O'Neill snorted. "How long did he last? Thirty seconds?"
"On the contrary, O'Neill, we sparred for more than half an hour. He was most -" Teal'c paused and considered his phrasing, " - resilient."
"Oh, I see where this is going." O'Neill brandished his fork like a weapon. "You're going to tell me that I'm being too hard on him; that I would like him if I got to know him; hell, you're probably going to tell me that he should be on SG-1."
Teal'c inclined his head in acknowledgement.
"Why are you so eager to have him on the team anyway, Teal'c?"
Because he sees the wonder in what we do, which we have forgotten. Because I see in him what Daniel Jackson might have been, had not his life shaped him differently. Because Daniel Jackson would have liked him and helped him, and Daniel Jackson is not here.
Because I know what it is to be an exile and a stranger here. Because you fought so that I would be given a chance to prove myself and I believe that Jonas Quinn deserves the same.
They were all good reasons and all true, but O'Neill was not yet ready to hear them. Teal'c said instead, "Because he has asked for my help and I have no reason to refuse. Why are you so strongly set against him, O'Neill?"
"He's an alien."
Teal'c raised a meaningful eyebrow.
"Yeah, I know, but I like you. Fine, you know what? He smiles too much. Seriously, grinning all the time, every time I see him. Never trust a man who smiles that much, T."
"You have mentioned on several occasions a desire that I should smile more."
"Yes, well, all things in moderation."
Watching as his friend stabbed the last bite of cake with unnecessary force, Teal'c decided it would be prudent to delay further attempts at persuasion to another day. "O'Neill - " he began, and was cut off by a clatter of cutlery.
"I'll tell you what the difference is, Teal'c. You saved my life and helped me break out of prison; he got one of my best friends killed. I'm frankly a little peeved about that whole situation. So I don't care if you think he's as bouncy and enthusiastic as a puppy made of rubber, I don't like him. And I don't want him on my team!"
O'Neill shoved his chair back, stood up and stalked out of the commissary, narrowly avoiding a collision with Jonas Quinn in the doorway and ignoring his cheerful greeting. The Kelownan came to join Teal'c, occupying O'Neill's abandoned chair.
"I suppose that means he still won't talk to me." Eyes caught by the mountain of food in front of the Jaffa, Jonas looked a little stunned.
"I have spoken to O'Neill on your behalf."
Jonas nodded absently. Then, when the words sank in, he wrenched his gaze away from Teal'c's plate and up to his face. "Wait, you did? But I didn't knock you down."
Teal'c looked at him, mildly amused. "No. It is unlikely that you will ever do so."
"Right." Jonas shifted a little to ease the weight off a bruise. "Well? What did the colonel say?"
"He said no. O'Neill is uncomfortable with the thought of having an alien on SG-1."
Jonas' jaw dropped, and his eyes flicked up to the golden snake tatto, down to the heaped plate, down further to where the symbiote pouch was hidden under SGC green, down at his own entirely human body. "That doesn't...But you're...I'm not..."
Teal'c continued eating, placidly, while Jonas spluttered. When his companion seemed to have run out of words, he asked, equally placidly, "Is there something you wished to say, Jonas Quinn?"
"No. No, it's just that I really hate being stuck down here. I've been watching the weather forecast for weeks and I haven't actually been out in the weather once. If the colonel has his way I probably never will be."
"Jonas Quinn. When I first met O'Neill, I had caused the deaths of four officers of this installation. Two others, whom he held dear, had been taken as hosts by the Goa'uld who were my masters. I held O'Neill himself prisoner. When I won his trust, these crimes were forgiven."
Jonas shook his head. "Winning his trust might be hard when he won't even stay in the same room."
"He is angry," Teal'c said calmly. "Soon he will realise that his anger is misplaced."
"Maybe. I hope so." Jonas smiled and got up. "I guess I'll just be watching the weather from down here for a little while longer then. Thanks anyway, Teal'c."
Teal'c watched him go, and hoped that his optimism was not misplaced.
K is for Keenness
At first, Col. Jack O'Neill would rather have killed Jonas Quinn - and tried to convince God that he had died from natural causes - than accept him as a member of SG-1. What he did to Daniel was unforgivable and the colonel didn't trust him as far as he could throw him. In fact, were it not for General Hammond, Jack would have already shown the little, dimpled, whiz kid a little mano y mano action. Besides, Daniel was irreplaceable and Jack wasn't ready to fill that void in his life or on his team -- especially with another vulnerable, fresh-faced kid he'd have to worry about.
"You know, sir, Jonas thinks that you don't like him."
"And your point is, Carter?"
Jack well remembered those early conversations with the major about why she thought he should give his team's newest member a bona fide chance to prove himself. And now with Daniel back and Jonas going home to Kelowna, he found himself reflecting on the past year and what he would say to him in parting.
Initially, the colonel wanted to kick Jonas' butt all over the galaxy. Even Carter, who isn't prone to unwarranted violence, once took pleasure in slapping him -- hard -- although it was in the line of duty.
For one thing, Jack found the kid's intelligence irritating. It wasn't that Jonas was smug about it, because he had tried to hide from him the fact that he had memorized all of Daniel's work and SG-1's mission reports. He didn't want to be thought of as strange, but still.... Who does those kinds of things? He even knew that the X-302 mission to Abydos would fail because of the instability of the naquadria driving the ship's hyperspace engines. And then, during Anubis' attack, Jonas helped create the plan to move the stargate into outer space where it could safely explode without harming Earth. He even suggested using a short burst into hyperspace to dump the gate. Furthermore, he was always reading some obscure scientific journal and had admitted to Teal'c that he had read every book in the library -- twice. Not only was Jonas able to master many ancient languages with astounding speed, but he had turned into a freakish walking encyclopedia. And what was up with his fascination with the weather? The kid was a worse geek than Daniel and Jack found him more creepy than intellectual.
Then there was his penchant for trying to be the hero, like when he swam down through the flooded Goa'uld ship to put the hangar bay's force field back on-line. Or when he was willing to die from a brain tumor -- another little gift from Nirrti -- in order to help the SGC by predicting the future. He was always trying too hard. It's not that Jack didn't appreciate Jonas' strong desire to contribute; it was just that he was way too eager and his naivety sometimes got in the way.
Another thing that truly annoyed Jack was that Jonas was always eating or drinking something. Sure, Daniel liked his coffee, but Jonas was constantly stuffing his face. He was worse than a goat, eating everything in sight. And what about his weird taste in foods? Teal'c had once told the colonel that he had witnessed Jonas dipping a French fry into his chocolate milkshake before eating it. Just remembering that conversation made Jack's stomach do a flip. The kid's culinary preferences were absolutely disgusting!
If there was anything endearing about Jonas, it was his kindness. Even Jack was impressed with the way he interacted with Ayiana -- with patience and gentleness. He treated Dr. Kieran, his friend and mentor from Kelowna, with similar warmth and sympathy when he lost his mind and was dying from prolonged exposure to naquadria. Plus, Jonas possessed a quirky way of rationalizing situations so that he saw the good in even the worst circumstances. Jack specifically remembered their first encounter with the human replicators and how Jonas not only found them fascinating, but he tried to establish a relationship with Fifth because he recognized that he was different from the others, being more human and capable of feeling emotions. In that regard, Jonas reminded the colonel of Daniel. However, unlike his predecessor, the kid seemed to lack a temper, which made him easier to work with in some ways.
Additionally, he was loyal and always saw the best in his teammates, defending them when others wouldn't. The colonel was the recipient of Jonas' commitment when he was accused of shooting Senator Kinsey. When Davis and even General Hammond conceded that it looked like Jack could have been the shooter, Jonas refused to see the evidence against him as absolute proof and was instrumental in clearing the colonel of wrongdoing. Also, when Jonas was captured by Anubis, he did his best to stand up to him to protect Daniel, SG-1, and Earth. Okay, so he had a few redeeming qualities -- even if it took Carter to point them out to Jack because he really didn't want to like his newest team member.
Jack's period of reflection resulted in his having a very different impression of the young man and warrior than he initially thought he would. After participating in many battles as a part of SG-1, it was time for Jonas to return to Kelowna to continue the fight against the Goa'uld on his home planet. In the end, it was Jonas' keenness -- his intelligence, eagerness, enthusiasm, ability to observe and assess, insight, kindness, loyalty, and more -- that led Jack to put Jonas' mind at ease in parting and to express his gratitude for his service to Earth and the SGC in typical, succinct O'Neill fashion by simply saying, "You earned it," -- very high praise considering the colonel's strict criteria for membership on SG-1, the SGC's elite, frontline team.
L is for Langara...
L is for Langara
He misses home. He misses going outside whenever he wants and walking down the streets. He misses his colleagues and the projects with which he was familiar. At the SGC, everything is new and adventurous, but that wears thin after a while, and all he wants is to sit with old friends in his own house and be still for a moment. So he becomes the explorer, and takes on the universe everyday. He learns all languages and reads all the books. One day, he wakes up and doesn't wonder where he is. That makes him miss Langara even more.
L is for Learning
On Langara, it's not uncommon for a person to remember everything they read. On Earth, it's an infrequent gift that makes it harder for him to fit in. His first week in Daniel's laboratory is spent devouring every book in sight. He assumes he's picking up common knowledge. The first time he offers a suggestion they look at him like he's a cheap replacement for the man whose library he has inadvertently memorized. It's the first mistake he makes on Earth. It won't be his last, but he has an easier time of it after Teal'c introduces him to TV.
L is for Lung Capacity
After the incident on board the Mother Ship, Dr. Fraiser subjects him to a day of physical tests. He's already gone through the usual battery of tests that human aliens undergo when they reach the SGC, and come up "mostly" human in his results, but apparently what he did on board the ship was unusual enough to warrant closer examination. He's not too keen on things that set him apart. He's still new here, and feels his alien nature every day. Still, it's not like he can change it, so he waits for his cue and takes a deep breath.
L is for Lunch
Lunch isn't an alien convention. Jonas has eaten lunch every day of his life, excluding a brief period in university when he was too busy to stop. On Earth, lunch is a break, a time to stop working and sit with friends to eat. Before he joins SG-1, Jonas eats lunch alone or with Sam or Teal'c. After he joins SG-1, he never lacks for table-mates. If he begins a meal alone at a table for four, three others will join him. Before he knows it, he is a lunchtime fixture, and has all the friends to go with it.
L is for Lost
"I swear it's left, Carter."
"I do not believe we came from that direction, O'Neill."
"No, we passed the little bent tree and then crossed the river."
"Sir, every tree on this planet is bent."
"This one was bent like football uprights."
"This tree bears no resemblance to any equipment used in football."
"Take him to a few games and he's an expert. Carter, why are we lost?"
"There's too much magnetic interference on this planet for our compasses to -- ."
"Why's it always magnets? Jonas, what do you think?"
This is when Jonas knows he's part of the team.
L is for Locks
The SGC is a world made up of locks. Most of the doors are locked, requiring passkeys or codes to get through them, and the elevators are similarly controlled. Jonas doesn't find out about keys until weeks after he gets to Earth, and he is fascinated by their intricacies. They have similar devices on Langara, of course, but nothing so delicate and well constructed. When Sam catches him obsessing over an episode of "Antiques Roadshow", she introduces him to another way of opening locks, albeit it one that is slightly less than legal. Suddenly, the world seems full of opportunity.
L is for Loss
He misses home. He misses days spent free of political machinations and strategic chicanery. He misses being ignored and shut away and struggling to fit in. Back on Langara, he is the only trusted person in a web of newly forged alliances and desperate moves. So he becomes the bridge, and takes on the politicians and the military everyday. He learns new aspects of what language can do, and discovers that reading books no longer provides him with the answers he needs. One day, he wakes up and doesn't wonder where he is. That makes him miss Earth even more.
M is for Mountain
When Jonas was seven years old, he asked his mother to take him to the mountains. They looked so wonderful in pictures, majestic and powerful, and he had never seen anything quite like that up close.
She said no.
His family was in the habit of providing him with plenty of opportunities for expanding his horizons, and any interest in the mountains was soon subsumed in a flurry of other activity.
So he didn't think about it again for years.
Until he grew up, and he realized that the only reason that his mother would not have taken him to see the mountains was that the mountains were on the wrong side of a border between nations at war.
Jonas was accustomed to daily activity outside, to cloud-watching and letting the sun shine on his face. At Stargate Command he became overwhelmed with having to stay indoors, and he thought he would literally go mad.
Until he found the Weather Channel. And that helped, a bit.
A month after his treason, and Jonas was still waking up with huge gasps of air every morning as if he were drowning. He would go to the bathroom and shave, and try to avoid looking too deeply into his own eyes.
His nightmares faded, diluted with the shower water, and after that it was easier to put the smile on his face -- and he was even mostly good at convincing himself that he was, in fact, cheerful and optimistic.
He could mostly pretend that the stares didn't faze him, that the sheer unbelongedness he felt wasn't the most miserable thing, that everything in this entire mountain didn't remind him of Doctor Jackson and that the whispers on the very edge of his awareness spoke volumes about how he would never, ever measure up.
Until it came time to fall asleep. When the nightmares (waiting until everyone around him died before he fell into an open grave and the dirt started falling over him) would start again.
But there were days when Jonas did look too deeply at himself. And he could see in his eyes that he was grateful for things he should not appreciate. He felt like the weight of the mountain was the weight of his sins placed upon his head, and he would gladly suffer this penance -- for without one, he could no longer trust himself.
On those days he knew he would not be able to greet people with a smile non-fake enough to fool, to speak with words enrobed in optimism and cheer.
He would stay in his room, those days (and know that no one would miss him) and those would be the times he would read, not about Stargates and ancient Egypt and the Goa'uld, but about Doctor Jackson. Those would be the days he would read from Daniel's personal journals and try to know the man who'd tried to save his people.
Until the tears started to fall; and he could no longer read, so he would stare at moving pictures of the sky.
Until later, when he became a better option than a man from a wrong side of a border, and it was better than nothing.
And slowly, things got better.
N is for New
For an instant on waking, he thought he was in the temporary quarters at the ministry, where he sometimes slept after a late night at work. But the hum of the equipment that pushed air through the grate into the room, the feel of the bed underneath him, the texture of the fabric against his cheek brought it all back in a rush. The accident, the talk with Colonel O'Neill, taking the naquadria. The ecstasy-terror-excitement of stepping into the wormhole. The hollow fear when he found out they'd discovered his absence.
The gate kawhooshed, and as Jonas turned toward the general, the control room technician said. "Receiving a transmission from Kelowna, sir."
"Put it on speakers," Hammond ordered.
"This is High Councilor Wills," came the voice.
"This is General George Hammond of Stargate Command," the older man replied.
"Is Jonas Quinn there?" she asked.
Hammond surprisingly looked to Jonas for permission before saying, "Yes, he is."
"We demand that you return him and the stolen naquadria to us immediately," she replied angrily.
Jonas slumped. "I was afraid of this."
"What will happen to you if you go back?" Hammond asked.
"I'll be charged with treason," Jonas said. "Life imprisonment, probably." He straightened his spine and tried not to look as dispirited as he felt. "I knew it was a risk when I came here, General."
"You don't have to go back," Hammond said.
Jonas blinked. "You'd let me stay here?"
"Here, or we could find another world where you could live," Hammond said.
That wasn't a choice that required a lot of thought. Life imprisonment versus. the chance to learn more about this fascinating place? "I'd like to stay, general."
"Councilor Wills. Jonas Quinn has chosen to stay here." He turned back to the control room. "Disconnect the wormhole, sergeant."
The event horizon collapsed and Jonas said, "Thank you."
Hammond nodded shortly. "Since it's the actions you've taken to clear Dr. Jackson's name that brought you here, it seems the least we could do."
Jonas nodded. Hammond wanted him to know the naquadria wasn't a factor in the decision. Which was probably a good thing, since returning him to face the authorities on Kelowna probably would have been a better way to get more of it than letting him stay.
Hammond turned back to Harrison, his earlier shadow. "Please assign an escort to take Mr. Quinn to the infirmary for a standard physical, then install him in one of the quarters on Level 16. "
Looking at his chronometer, Jonas found he'd slept three-quarters of a Kelownan day. Not that it would mean anything here. There was a Earth wall chronometer in the room, marked in 12 units. Jonas could calculate the conversion from Kelownan units, but he had no idea whether 12 timeparts was early or late, or when the day started.
He managed to figure out the controls in the bathing chamber by trial and error, and a certain amount of reading directions on the boxes of tooth-paste and accompanying brush. He was grateful that Dr. Jackson had introduced him to Earth writing, as nothing here seemed to be written in the script they used at home.
There were dull green one-piece suits of different sizes and other articles of clothing in the drawers. The functions were relatively easy to deduce, though he was quite enthralled with the closure on the suit, and slid it up and down several times observing the way the simple mechanism interlocked. "Elegant," he decided. He wondered if he was supposed to wait until summoned, or if it would be acceptable to venture out on his own, but a grumble in his midsection decided him on going out. Where to go was easily solved, as he found a guard posted beside his door. "Could I get something to eat?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," the young man responded. "Would you like it brought here, or would you like to eat in the commissary?"
"That's a dining hall?" Jonas asked.
"That sounds fine," Jonas told him.
The guard escorted him with professional courtesy but was disinclined to talk. He led Jonas silently to the food hall, and told him he could get in line and ask for what he wanted. Some food was being served, other dishes you could take a serving for yourself. Jonas watched the man ahead of him, and got a slice of a grayish stuff that smelled like meat, with a mound of a white beside it and brown sauce. He added a dish of clear green colored cubes that jiggled, and a long bright yellow fruit. There was water, and again mimicking the man ahead of him in line, he also took a cup of steaming black liquid. It smelled enticing, and looked a bit like the fragrant tea he enjoyed at home. At the end of the line he stopped and looked around.
People seemed to be sitting in random groups and talking. Jonas turned to look at his escort, who had abandoned him to wait by the door. As he stood, a few people glanced in his direction, then turned away. The unfriendly looks he'd noticed the day before were still in evidence. "Jonas Quinn." Jonas turned in some relief to see Teal'c sitting with a large tray of food behind him.
"Teal'c," he said, hoping he was managing the inflection right.
"Will you join me for a meal?" the large man invited.
"Thank you," Jonas set his tray down opposite Teal'c with some relief and sat. "I was trying to figure out whether there was some etiquette that governs where people sit."
"Not officially," Teal'c said. "It is customary to sit either with people you know, or to take an empty table if one is available. If not, any empty seat is acceptable, though it is polite to enquire if the seat is 'taken', that is, if the people at the table are waiting for someone else to join them."
Jonas nodded appreciatively, while cutting off a bite sized piece of the gray slab and eating it. He blinked in sudden surprise and stared at it. "This is delicious! What is it?"
"Meatloaf," Teal'c said. "Ground meat and seasoning. The sauce is called gravy." He raised an eyebrow at Jonas' sudden enthusiasm.
Jonas dug in with a will. He was starving. "I love this. He tasted the white stuff, which was blander, but good with gravy. "And this?"
"Mashed potatoes. A starchy root." Teal'c explained. He looked at the dish of green stuff, which Jonas found was sweet with a tangy flavor. "That is jello. Of what it is composed, I do not know."
Jonas was already looking forward to his next experience with Earth food, and he hadn't even finished this meal yet. "We don't have anything like this at home," he said. "Boiled meat. Bread. Some vegetables and mild-tasting fruits. A lot of things are soaked in saltwater to preserve them."
"Pickled, humans would say," Teal'c supplied. "There are such cuisines here. Earth is home to many cultures, and each has its own customs concerning food."
Jonas picked up the yellow fruit, examining it carefully. It had a rubbery exterior that didn't look very appetizing. "And this is?"
"A banana," Teal'c said. He reached across the table to take it from Jonas' hands and peel back the outer covering to expose a pale inner flesh. He handed it back. "One does not eat the skin, but the unpeeled section makes a convenient handle to hold it."
"Right," Jonas took a large bite, finding it soft and sweet. "Amazing. They just grow like this?"
"Bananas are a tropical fruit," Teal'c said. "They are grown in wet climates near to the equator."
"Is that a long way from here?" Jonas asked, suddenly wondering if this was some kind of rare delicacy that he should eat sparingly.
"Some hundreds of miles," Teal'c said. "Tau'ri agriculture is very efficient, and it is common for foods to be shipped thousands of miles to where they will be consumed." Teal'c plucked a green globe off a cluster of berries on his tray. "These are grapes, and though they can be grown in the United States, these were probably imported from Chile, a country in the southern hemisphere. Many other vegetables are grown in California, on the western coast of this continent. In the central part of North America, adjacent to where we are now, there are immense grasslands. Corn and wheat, both grains, are grown there and soybeans. Also vast herds of cattle are raised for meat. This country, the United States, is a net exporter of food, as well as being among the most technologically advanced on the planet."
Jonas absorbed the information readily. "Okay, United States, Chile. How many more countries are there?" Among the most advanced suggested there were several. Perhaps as many as a dozen? No, that seemed to be too much for a world as advanced as this.
"Several hundred," Teal'c said, and the bite of banana Jonas had swallowed went down the wrong way. He choked for a moment, coughing, and had to swallow most of his glass of water before he could speak again.
"Hundred?" he asked, sure he had misunderstood. "Countries? On one planet?"
"Indeed," Teal'c said. "You must remember, Jonas Quinn, that this is the First World. It has been continuously inhabited for many tens of thousands of years. The population here is over six billion people and growing. It is also extremely diverse."
"That's amazing," Jonas said, shaking his head. In some ways he was even more impressed than he had been before. These people had hundreds of countries, hundreds of cultures, and yet they still managed to work together. It made him even more ashamed of his homeworld.
"Teal'c," a light voice sounded behind him. "Jonas," the tone flattened as Major Carter recognized him.
"MajorCarter," Teal'c said, inclining his head gravely. "Please join us."
Jonas thought she looked like she'd rather be shot, but she set down her tray beside him and pulled out a chair. He was encouraged by that until it occurred to him in that position she faced Teal'c and didn't have to look at him. His heart sank and he reached for the steaming mug he hadn't tried yet. It didn't seem too hot, and he took a large swallow, only to have his mouth flooded with a harsh bitter taste. He only just barely managed to swallow instead of spitting it out onto his tray. "Euwghh!" he gurgled. "Blech! What is that?"
"Coffee," Teal'c answered calmly, though Jonas thought he saw a flicker of amusement in the man's eyes. "It is an extremely popular beverage among the Tau'ri, though I find it too bitter."
Major Carter was spreading something on a roll, but said, "You can add milk and sugar to moderate the flavor."
"Or you can simply avoid it," Teal'c said pointedly. "If you like hot beverages, you may find that tea or hot chocolate are more to your taste."
"It's supposed to taste like that?" Jonas stared at the cup like it might leap up and bite him.
Major Carter shrugged. "Yes. I suppose it's an acquired taste."
Jonas couldn't imagine how you'd acquire it, unless you found it a nice change from liquid petroleum products. The dreadful 'coffee' had temporarily dampened his enthusiasm for trying Earth foods. "I think maybe I'll just get more water for the moment."
He picked up the glass and slid into the line to quickly refill it. As he returned to the table, he heard Carter saying, "-when did you become such a fan?"
"DanielJackson's injuries were not his fault-" the Jaffa said, and Jonas realized with a jolt they were talking about him. His steps slowed involuntarily as the alien finished. "I seek only to treat him as our friend would do if he were here." He looked up as Jonas came back to the table.
Jonas resumed his seat and applied himself to his food, sobered by the realization that the man who had saved his life was still helping him, even after he was dead. His thoughts turned back to what Teal'c had told him. Hundreds of countries, just on this one planet? And what about all the other planets? He glanced sideways at Major Carter, who was eating something that looked like the green 'jello' Teal'c had identified for him, only hers was red. He wondered what the color signified. Everything here was new. Even the dining room of the SGC held so much for him to learn. He pushed away a twinge of homesickness. Even without the knowledge that he would be arrested and imprisoned at home, he would have had to take this opportunity had it been offered. A million things to know, and he was going to have a chance to learn them. He couldn't wait to begin.
O is for the Ori
Warnings: Character Death, Massacre. Internal and Religious conflict imagery.
The day the Prior came through the gate, Jonas started carrying the Langaran diplomatic GDO with him at all times in his briefcase. As a chief advisor to the Joint Ruling Council, he listened as the Prior in front of him preached the inspirational word of the Book of Origin. He read the book that night, thinking often of the myriad of religious texts he'd read both on Earth and on worlds he visited through the gate. But he was no longer the eager, naive scholar who first left Kelowna for Earth almost five years ago.
The Joint Ruling Council soaked up the word of the Prior readily. They publicly announced to their peoples the changes in there hearts as they willingly accepted the Ori. The simple fact that all three First Ministers agreed without debate, shouting, arguing or even hesitation put Jonas on edge; he'd spent the past three years cajoling and gently pushing the Council towards consensus about every little issue. They never readily agreed about anything. Then the Prior came.
Jonas was present the first time someone was condemned to burn in the altar he was directed to create by the Prior. His stomach tied itself in knots as he recorded the sentence handed down by the First Ministers. The condemned man spoke out against the Ori; he said that Langara was a world free of the imposition of the will of false gods. False gods; Jonas had met many a false god in his travels with the Tau'ri. Any god who forced public executions was false in Jonas's book. He forced himself to watch, to honor the man and his sacrifice when every ounce of his being wanted to turn away from the giant flame and the billowing smoke. That night, Kianna held him close as the phrase "Hallowed are the Ori" taunted him in his dreams.
Months passed; all outspoken resistance efforts to the Ori were handled with extreme prejudice. He couldn't escape seeing the smoke from his office, hearing the sounds of the crowd cheering the latest sentence through the windows of his home in the city. He heard whispers of the resistance moving underground, but he would never be able to align himself with them. He was watched. The Ministers sang praises of him from on high to the Prior. He was the one who saved the planet, the one who traveled the stars. Jonas was a global treasure. He transcended national limitations.
In the nearly five months the Prior had been visiting Langara, the Joint Ruling Council had long since become a figurehead organization, all real power from it drained by the Prior and the devoted. Langara had truly become united. So Jonas busied himself in his lab, content in his long-neglected projects he never had time for until now.
"Advisor Quinn!" A young Kelownan soldier came running into his office. "Advisor Quinn! You must come!"
Jonas whipped his head up and around to face the soldier calling him. "What's happened?"
"Advisor! Fourteen people have been arrested for plotting against the Ori! The Prior convened the Council for an immediate trial!"
Jonas stood up, his chair flying back against a table. "What?" Any resistance efforts died out almost a month and a half earlier.
"You must come! The traitors are on trial as we speak! The Council has requested your presence directly!"
Jonas stood still, his heart beating a hundred times a minute. "Who? Who's been accused of treason?" For the Council to waive due process and abandon their justice system meant that the crimes of the accused must be most haneous indeed.
The soldier shrugged in response then boldly pulled at Jonas's arm, pulling him out the door and towards the Council Chamber.
His heart dropped to the pit of his stomach when he saw the accused lined up, Kianna standing in the middle, chains and shackles tethering her to the other accused. He heard the swift pounding of a gavel and a deep voice. "The sentence shall be carried out immediately."
"Hallowed are the Ori!" the crowd resounded cheerfully. Jonas ran to his wife, stopping the chain of people being pulled out into the city center.
"Stop it! She's not guilty of this! Stop!" He forcefully pulled her back into his arms and whispered in her ear. "I'll get you out of this, I promise!"
She pulled her arms up around his backside, rubbing him gently. "No. Don't."
Jonas pulled back, incredulous. "What do you mean, no? They're going to burn you alive!"
A tear fell from Kianna's eye. "Their accusations are true, Jonas." She raised her voice. "I lived through a false god living in my head. I refuse to let more false gods take over my life. I will never submit!" She pulled him close. "I can't live like this anymore. I will never submit, Jonas."
He couldn't bring himself to ask why, why she didn't confide in him about what she was doing while he was working. He just stared at her questioningly. She pulled him close once more. "Why?" he croaked out as he cried openly into her shoulder. She shushed and consoled him.
Kianna was pulled from Jonas forcefully by two Ori soldiers, who then dragged the condemned traitors from the chamber and outside to the altar. Two more soldiers restrained Jonas as he bucked and fought to go to his wife. First Minister Dreylock took hold of his hand and caressed his arm. "Jonas, this is the will of the Ori. She was tainted. You've been distant, flagging in your fervor for a united Langara. This is a good thing."
Jonas stared back at her, his rage boiling. "She's my wife! I can't believe you'll let her die like this! She saved this world!"
Dreylock gave him a sympathetic, solemn smile. "All non-believers must be destroyed, Jonas. She and her resistance movement worked to destroy all that we accomplished for these past several years. Hallowed are the Ori." She nodded to the soldiers to release him.
Jonas drew in a deep breath and turned away from Minister Dreylock. He fought his way through the crowd to the altar. All fourteen condemned men and women were chained together in the center. Jonas saw Kianna facing towards the front of the altar, her stature noble and strong, and ran to her, fighting through the arms of the soldiers standing guard.
"I love you so much!" Jonas held her tight, whispering into her ear. "Why didn't you tell me? I would have helped you!"
"Langara needs you now more than ever, darling. I was protecting you and the cause in case I was found out. Keep the fight alive, keep safe, and when Langara is free of the Ori, destroy this altar and put in its place a memorial to all that have perished under their rule." Her voice was soft, confident. She broke away from him and smiled. She saw the Ori soldiers come up behind Jonas. She stiffened up. "Forgive me."
Jonas was pulled from the altar shouting and bucking against the soldier, but when he saw the fire wind its way around his wife, he collapsed to the ground, openly weeping. He covered his ears in desolation as he heard the screams of those burning in front of him. He sat there for hours after the embers went dark, the cold of night washing over him. A colleague of his helped him up and walked him home. Jonas followed pliantly, his whole self numb.
"Come on, you have to get over this." Jonas's former classmate, Tomas, ripped the blanket from overtop a semiconscious Jonas. "You're far too valuable to languish here. As it is, I can't keep making excuses for you. You haven't left this bed in many days."
Jonas curled up against the brisk wind that chilled his body as the blanket was torn away. He covered his head with a pillow. "Go away."
"I can't do that. I'm under orders from the Ruling Council. You're expected to meet the new Prior who arrives today." He pulled Jonas into a sitting position. "You have to seriously begin to consider how your behavior impacts others' opinions about you--" Tomas dropped down on his haunches to directly look at Jonas. "--and about your loyalty."
Jonas glared back at him. "My loyalty?" he shouted angrily. "My loyalty?! How dare you even suggest that I am not loyal to Langara! I've been accused of that before, Tomas. I've proven myself time and again."
Tomas stepped back. "Of course you're loyal. You just need to make sure people don't question it. Get back into the swing of things. Go back to work, make sure you're seen at Prostration. The Ori will know your heart is pure and your faith true, and all will be well."
Jonas scrubbed his face with his hands, hiding as he rolled his eyes about the comment on his faith. He realized then that he was on very thin ice. People no longer differentiated Langara from the Ori. Everyone credited the Ori with creating the peace on Langara. In essence, they created Langara as everyone knew it now, in only a matter of months. "You're right, Tomas," he replied sullenly. "There's a new Prior coming?"
Tomas smiled broadly. "An Ori ship arrives this afternoon. Our Prior says today is a glorious day for Origin and Langara. The Council wants you present in four hours; you are after all a national hero." Tomas patted Jonas on the back and quickly left to give Jonas time to prepare.
She will be the beacon of light in the darkness, to the warriors of the Ori, and to all who follow the true Path to salvation.
He was dumbstruck by her beauty and her innate power. The guest of honor wasn't a Prior as Tomas had believed, but the Orici herself. The giant Ori ship landed just outside of Kelowna city. The welcoming committee crouched in fear as the ship approached and bowed in reverence as the Orici disembarked. Many fell to their knees and kissed the hand of the Orici as she blessed them. The Council announced a dinner in her honor, which Adria accepted. She insisted on leading Prostration first, sharing the word of Origin to all faithful followers so that they might be satisfied.
First Minister Dreylock presented the Council and their support staff at the evening meal to the Orici and the priors in her attendance. Dreylock presented Jonas last. "He's my highest-ranking advisor and the man responsible for any outside communications with allies and other worlds, Orici. Jonas is a true treasure. I fully expect him to become First Minister one day. I'm sure he will be of great assistance to you, should you ever need anything."
Adria looked him over curiously. "Indeed, thank you, Minister. Advisor Quinn, do you communicate with a great many worlds? As you know, it is the goal of every follower of Origin to spread the word of truth and light to those who have yet to understand and believe."
Jonas had prepared himself already, so his answer sounded honest. "Orici, we have not yet embarked upon travelling frequently to other worlds for trade, but the few worlds we do trade with have already been blessed by Origin. Your Priors have been very valuable in helping us achieve new allies and trading partners. We can't thank you enough for all Origin has done for us." Worlds may choose for themselves whether to follow Origin, but he refused to help the Ori along in their conquest.
Adria smiled and caressed Jonas's cheek. "You are a faithful servant, Jonas Quinn. I sense great knowledge and promise in you. I greatly look forward to more conversation with you."
Jonas bowed reverently, closing his eyes in an effort to resolve his nerves and keep up the charade.
Jonas was called occasionally to the Ori ship to report on worlds with which Langara traded. Jonas always presented worlds that he knew the Ori had conquered. But as time passed, he worried about the Tau'ri. If the First Ministers hadn't already talked about their alliance with the Tau'ri, they would soon mention it. He hadn't dared contact Earth directly in fear that the Ori would find them. He also feared that when he did contact them, they too would be controlled by the Ori.
The remainder of his time he spent in his lab. Jonas was lucky to have acquired a copy of Anubis's work on the superweapon and Naquadria in Ancient, and he frequently toyed with the translation here and there when stumped on a project or between assignments. Daniel's custom primer on Ancient was one of his most well-worn manuscripts and always held a place of honor on his work table. An SGC radio also sat on the table, inconspicuous amongst tidbits of technology until one day it crackled. The radio chirped for several seconds until he realized it was Morse Code. Fumbling in his surprise, he quickly shoved aside everything in the way of the radio and its charging base. He listened closely as he groped for a pencil and paper, and jotted down the message now repeating.
"JONAS QUINN, THIS IS THE SGC. PLEASE RESPOND. JONAS QUINN, THIS IS SGC. PLEASE RESPOND."
He hesitated for a moment, trying to figure out where the radio signal was coming from. He realized the gate had been dialed. His face was pensive as he translated his response.
"SGC, THIS IS JONAS QUINN. OVER."
"ARE YOU ORI?" Jonas's heart leapt into his throat. He had long thought that Earth would never follow the word of Origin, but at the moment he was in doubt. He closed his eyes, breathed deeply and responded.
"NO." He hoped that he hadn't just signed his own death warrant, that this was wasn't some test by the Ori to test his faith.
"IS LANGARA ORI?"
"WE CAN HELP." Jonas teared up in joy. He felt stupid for doubting Earth, even if just for a moment. "WE ARE SENDING A PACKAGE THROUGH THE GATE IN 30 MINUTES. RETRIEVE ASAP. INSTRUCTIONS ARE INSIDE. SGC OUT."
Jonas sat there, trying to comprehend everything that just occurred. He impatiently waited twenty-five minutes in his office, checking his watch repeatedly and pacing around the room. With five minutes until the drop, he quickly shoved the radio into his satchel and walked out the door. He walked cautiously down the hallways to a back staircase, avoiding the roaming security teams. He quickly descended to the gate chamber and found a small black suitcase at the bottom of the dais. He checked his watch; he was two minutes early. That was when he saw the two guards unconscious on the ground, a Goa'uld shock grenade sitting between them. He allowed himself the smallest of smiles. The SGC planned the drop so he wouldn't arrive until after the shock grenade went off. He glanced from side to side to see if anyone was around, checked the guards' pulses and sat them up against the wall as if they were sleeping on the job. He then picked up the grenade and case and returned to his lab as inconspicuously as possible.
After locking his lab door, he opened the case to find six syringes and a note in Goa'uld.
We send this package in the understanding that Langara has decided to follow Origin, but you have not accepted Origin yourself. Earth has been fighting the Ori since they entered the galaxy, but for every planet we save, five more fall. We can protect you and your immediate family. Included are six subcutaneous transmitters and syringes with which to inject them into your upper arm. Do so immediately. We have a ship on its way to rescue you.
Good luck and be safe, my friend,
Jonas stared at the six syringes. He had no family left. He could think of no one who was resisting the Ori anymore. He was truly alone. He turned one of the pre-loaded syringes in his hand for several minutes before pulling up his sleeve and injecting himself with the transmitter. He winced as the large-gauge needle forged inward; then he sank the plunger. He breathed in deeply, removed the needle and returned it to the case. He hid the case deep in a cabinet and read through the letter several times more. He couldn't help but wish this package, this chance, had arrived two months ago, before Kianna was executed.
Adria invited him to sit beside her on the pillow-laden floor. He graciously dropped to the floor after offering a hand to the Orici to help her down. "Advisor Quinn, thank you so much for visiting me. I do so greatly enjoy our chats."
Jonas blushed on cue. "Thank you, Orici. I am truly blessed to be honored by your presence. Hallowed are the Ori." He forced himself to smile brightly and bowed his head in reverence.
"I wish to ask you about a specific planet today. What do you know of the Tau'ri?" Adria gazed at him. He knew she was reading his reaction, and for a moment he feared she could read his mind. He banished the thought; he surely would have been executed a long time ago.
"Quite a bit, Orici. I spent a year with them about three years back. They were very helpful to Langara once. I'm afraid they have no interest in us anymore. I have not heard from them in over a year." Jonas remained as calm as possible, attempting to exude honesty in his facial expressions and posture.
"You spent time with them?" Adria seemed truly shocked.
"Did the Ministers never mention our relationship with them? The Tau'ri were instrumental in the continued existence of Langara several times. But now we have Origin to save us." He held up the precious book everyone was required to carry with them.
Adria pondered him for several minutes. "The Ministers indeed shared your history with the Tau'ri, but I needed to hear it from you. I received word that you might be loyal to them still. You see, the Tau'ri have tried to undermine us every chance they can. They are singlehandedly responsible for all the deaths of the unfaithful they lead astray. I am glad to see your loyalty is no longer in question." She smiled to him and put her hand on his. "So you say you are no longer in contact with them?"
Jonas shook his head, lying blatantly to the Orici. "We have very little to offer them anymore. They've moved away from Naquadria technology when they couldn't harness its power."
"Ah, I have heard of Naquadria. Your Ministers have been very generous with us; we have several scientists aboard this vessel studying the mineral. We are committed to helping you develop the technology to use it safely and efficiently. You are certain Earth does not want Naquadria anymore?" Adria stared at Jonas intently as he shook his head in response. "Very well, then. Thank you, Advisor Quinn."
Jonas stood and bowed in reverence. "Would the Orici like to see the work I've completed thus far on Naquadria? I've spent the past several years dedicating free time to that research." A dark thought filled his mind. Perhaps if he tampered with the formulas, another accident might occur, one that would take out the Ori leadership on the planet. He gave up the idea when he remembered any Naquadria explosion would destroy Langara entirely. He lost control of his emotions for that moment, however.
He knew Adria picked up on a change in his facial expression. "Is there something wrong? Should I fetch a physician?"
Jonas waved off the assistance. "I'm fine, just got a bit dizzy standing up that quickly." Even he wouldn't believe that lie. He looked back at her and gave a large smile. "I can have copies of my research sent over immediately."
"My scientists will appreciate that greatly." Adria bade farewell, as did Jonas. He was escorted off the ship by a captain in full combat gear, a kind-looking man with sandy blond hair.
The captain stopped Jonas just as they exited the ship. "The Tau'ri will attempt to make contact, Advisor Quinn. It is imperative you inform us at once when they do."
Jonas stood back in aghast. "I don't think they'll ever come back here, Captain."
The captain stood firm. "They are always hunting the Orici. Word will eventually reach them we are or were here, especially if Langara proves to be a useful safe harbor. Even after we leave, they will come. I am certain of this." Jonas looked at the anguished face of the captain. "But more than that, they have my wife and the mother of the Orici. Trust me when I say they will come. You will tell us when they make contact, Advisor Quinn?"
Jonas stood there in shock. The thought that Earth took hostages or prisoners did not coincide with the memories he had of how the SGC worked. The NID, maybe, but not the SGC. He nodded his head. "Of course. Hallowed are the Ori." The captain gratefully returned the salutation.
Jonas walked through the city slowly, going back over the conversations he had with both the Orici and the captain. Then he thought about Kianna. She'd never forgive him if he began to believe in the Ori. But he knew his strength was diminishing fast. He suddenly was aware he was being followed by a man in a cape, his large hood covering his face. As he turned back around to contemplate a way to get rid of his tail, another man walked up to his side.
Dropping his hood, Colonel Reynolds put a gentle hand on Jonas's back. "General O'Neill sends his greetings." He pressed a slip of paper into Jonas's hand." Meet me here after Prostration tonight. We are sure glad to see you." He bade Jonas farewell, with a muttered, "Hallowed are the Ori." Jonas smiled at the colonel's clearly sarcastic tone.
Reynolds was walking away when Jonas remembered to give his farewell. "Good day, brother! Hallowed are the Ori!" With a diminishing smile, he set off back for his home as quickly as possible. The slip of paper listed a small, out of the way hut on the outskirts of town. With only an hour before Prostration, Jonas quickly grabbed his already-packed bag with his most treasured belongings, including several items left by his wife, including her wedding ring which he salvaged from the growing pile of embers on the altar, as well as a few days' worth of clothes. He had hoped that he would be rescued soon, and he wanted to be prepared. He made his way to his office with only twenty minutes to spare and immediately threw in his journals, a few key books, and the SGC radio. The last item to go into the bag was the transmitter case. He wasn't sure what exactly they were used for, but he figured the SGC would want them back. He strapped the GDO he carried with him in his briefcase onto his ankle, as the season was warm in Kelowna this time of year and with SG-3 on the planet, he couldn't risk being anywhere without it. Carrying a briefcase to Prostration would have looked odd and suspicious. He stowed the bag in a corner of the office as he left for the religious service.
The Orici announced during Prostration that she was leaving the following day to continue spreading the word of Origin to the peoples of this galaxy. Jonas wasn't sure what to make of the information. Hopefully the situation on Langara would ease up a bit once the Orici was gone, but on the other hand another world was about to be subjected to the hell he'd lived in the past seven months. Hell? It was only then that he realized he had come to a decision about the Ori. For all the human losses Langara had endured in their struggle for peace the last several decades, as many had died at the hands of the Ori and their devout followers in only seven months.
Jonas found Reynolds and the rest of SG-3 huddled in the corner of a small house on the far edge of town, as far away from the Ori ship as possible. He recognized the owner of the place, a low-level scientist who worked in his building. The scientist glared at Jonas, seemingly unsure whether to trust him.
"It's okay, Marcus. I'll vouch for him." Reynolds stood and greeted Jonas with a strong pat on the arm and a firm handshake. "Am I glad to see you! We've lost too many allies in this fight, Jonas. Good to see us win some once in a while. Come, sit. We've got a lot to discuss." Jonas nodded enthusiastically and he broke out a broad smile. This felt right.
One question had dominated Jonas's mind since he saw Reynolds this afternoon. "How did you get on the planet? The security has doubled since the guards were caught sleeping on the job."
Reynolds moved closer and dropped his chin down, whispering into Jonas's ear. "The new F-304, the Odyssey is in orbit, cloaked. The asgard gave us beaming technology. That is what those transmitters were for." Jonas steeled his face so not to give away anything to Marcus, who seemed to be straining to hear the privy conversation.
They questioned Jonas about the status of Langara and the Ori. Reynolds was surprised how quickly and easily Langara bought into Origin. "I always thought the Kelownans would fight anyone who stepped on their turf. We counted on you guys to be there to fight if necessary. Such a shame."
"We were hopeless to resist; we were a militarized, faithless society, and Origin was that right combination of factors that we so desperately craved. It was the perfect fit in the gap of people's lives, apparently. I'll be the first to admit, the word of Origin is alluring, even to me. I know that if I hadn't left Kelowna for the SGC all those years ago, I'd be a devout follower. My time at the SGC definitely changed my opinions on global and galactic politics."
"Jackson said the same thing about Origin. And General O'Neill put money down that you'd be opposed to the Ori. He said something along the lines of ‘even Jonas can't be that dumb.' You know him well enough to know those are high praises from him!" Everyone laughed except Marcus. He kept looking suspiciously out the window. Reynolds was the first to notice.
Moments later the door to the house burst open and Ori soldiers crowded in, their staffs pointed at the five sitting at the table. SG-3 was quick to raise their guns back, but Jonas was unarmed. The sandy-haired captain who had warned Jonas about the Tau'ri took center point and gave Jonas a decidedly disappointed glare. The crowd of soldiers parted as Adria walked in to the humble house.
"Jonas Quinn. I had such high hopes for you despite your little attempts to hide information from me. I knew every time you falsely praised the Ori, every lie you told me about worlds you visited and your contact with the Tau'ri. I know about the gate activations last week and the guards found unconscious." She stared at SG-3 before looking back at Jonas, her face and voice filled with disappointment. "If only I could have converted you, you would have been such a great addition to our cause. Nevertheless, all non-believers must be destroyed. I will greatly enjoy watching these faithless Tau'ri warriors perish. " She stood there regally as she motioned to the captain to take the traitors prisoner.
The five men sat in the cold empty prison cell in the city police department. Two Kelownan soldiers watched over them, from which Jonas deduced that the Ori soldiers must have been out hunting down anyone who might have helped SG-3 remain undercover while they were on the planet.
Lieutenant Mooney was the first to break the silence. "As far as jail cells go, this isn't the worst by far." The rest of SG-3 laughed, and Jonas felt the tension release.
"Definitely. Even only being on SG-1 for a short while, I definitely got more than my fair share of jail time. Nirrti's lab on '367 was the worst, especially with the Goa'uld messing with our DNA. The best was from that one time when we were intentionally captured by an undercover Tok'ra. Felger and Coombs actually ran off and tried to rescue us from our prison onboard. Had a nice open circular sitting area with only a force field. No ugly bars and rotting walls."
Reynolds spoke up. "We get imprisoned every couple of weeks, whenever we get found out eventually by the Ori. Anyone remember the decks of cards this time?"
The team shuffled around, checking pockets before one spoke up. "They must have been in my gear." Simultaneously, all five of them looked longingly at the large SGC backpacks sitting next to the desk on the far side of the jail and groaned.
"There's no way we can--" The young lieutenant looked hopeful.
"Nah, they never allow us a final request." The team chuckled again.
Jonas observed the team camaraderie with fascination. "So, this happens a lot?"
"More than you'd care to know, Quinn," Reynolds replied before moving next to Jonas. "We've got the Odyssey up there cloaked in orbit, ready to beam us out when we don't check in. All we've got to do is make it till noon tomorrow morning and we're set. You did inject yourself with a subcutaneous transmitter, right?"
Jonas nodded. "I'm not so sure we'll make it to morning. Sentences of death are usually carried out pretty quickly these days. And with the Orici set to leave, we might be due early in the morning."
"A month or two. Langara's been restocking the ship with everything from produce to wives for the soldiers. I think they plan to use Langara as a safe harbor, at least that's what one of her soldiers stated. That would explain why any resistance has been dealt with swiftly and without mercy. What I'd like to know is how she knew I was lying to her."
Reynolds looked at him incredulously. "Seriously, Quinn? Did you not know she reads minds? She's been playing you all along, no doubt." The rest of SG-3 chuckled. "Don't worry about it. It happens to everyone."
Jonas thought about Reynolds's words for a moment. "So, it was my fault we were caught."
Reynolds put a supporting arm on Jonas's shoulder. "No. Marcus sold us to the Ori. He's not here, is he?" He swept his other arm around the barren jail cell. Jonas nodded in acknowledgement. "We'll get out of this."
Jonas patted Reynolds's arm. "Okay."
Reynolds ordered everyone to rest, assigning Mooney to first watch. Jonas shifted constantly on the jail floor, unable to find a comfortable spot, but eventually exhaustion wore him out.
They were dragged out of their cell shortly before high noon and taken directly to the town center. The three First Ministers of the Joint Ruling Council stood in attendance next to the Orici and her Priors. The Council didn't even attempt to hold a trial for the accused. They were immediately chained to the center of the altar. The Prior to Adria's right began to preach. "Glorious are the Ori, who lead us to salvation, who didst fight the evil that would doom us to mortal sin. Did they defeat the old spirits and cast them out. And now, with the strength of our will, they do call upon us to prevail against the corruption of all unbelievers. Hallowed are the Ori!"
As the crowd replied loudly, Adria raised her hand and the top of the altar alit in fire. Jonas watched it smoothly move closer to him, winding its way around the altar. Suddenly Reynolds's watched beeped. "Saved by the bell!" All five men were beamed away.
onas looked around at the bridge of the ship before fixing his gaze one one man seated at its center. "Welcome board, Mr. Quinn, I'm Colonel Emerson, captain of the U.S.S. Odyssey," the man said. "Colonel Reynolds, are we ready to depart?"
Jonas teared with joy when he saw his bag on the floor of the bridge. What little he had from his wife was not going to be left behind. "The transmitters! Oh thank you!" He knelt down to the ground, removed the transmitter case and handed it to Reynolds.
Reynolds smiled at a satisfied outcome. While the transmitters were of no consequence, the tagalong they brought with them back to the Odyssey was.
Emerson took his seat in the captain's chair. "Marks, plot a course for P3X-797."
Jonas swerved his head around. "Land of Light?"
Emerson nodded. "We separate the allies we rescue among a few different planets for your protection. We need to be prepared for the very real possibility the Ori might find out where our Alpha Site is. The Land of Light is fortified with a large contingent of rebel Jaffa. I believe Master Bra'tac uses the planet as a safe haven between campaigns."
Jonas smiled at the thought of seeing Master Bra'tac again, and his heart yearned to see the rest of SG-1 soon.
"Mr. Quinn, Colonel Reynolds will show you to some temporary quarters. We will arrive at P3X-797 in about 20 hours." Jonas gratefully allowed Reynolds to guide him to the guest quarters.
Jonas was greeted by Samantha Carter as he beamed down from the Odyssey. "Sam!" He hugged her tightly for several minutes. "I'm so glad to see you!"
"Same here, Jonas. When we first received word that Langara fell to the Ori, we feared the worst, especially as no new information came afterwards."
They broke the embrace but remained close. "When did you find out Langara fell to the Ori? How?"
"Your wife smuggled two people through your Stargate to the Alpha Site. We figured she got the gate address from you, but neither man indicated that you had any involvement with the plot against the Ori. This was two, two and a half months ago, maybe?"
"My wife? Kianna sent those men?" Jonas sighed in shock, looking up to the sky to prevent tears from falling. "She didn't tell me anything about the resistance she was coordinating. Not a peep from her. She told me right before they killed her that she did everything to protect me and the cause." Samantha held him close as he wept for his wife for several moments.
When he finally broke contact, she led him to the house of Tuplo, his bag in hand, and helped him settle in. They talked for hours about the current situation of the war against the Ori, the status of allied planets, and what was going on at the SGC. They talked about their hesitation to contact Langara given the reports of the two men who were smuggled out before they developed the plan they did involving Morse Code and Goa'uld. "Only you would have been able to decipher both."
He found out the truth about the Ori captain's wife, Vala, much to his relief. He asked a hundred silly questions about Jack becoming the all-important general, and learned about the two new members of SG-1 through Samantha. He begged her to tell detailed stories about how the replicators were defeated and nearly didn't believe that Daniel ascended again. He found out about Pete and Jacob, and offered what consolation she could to her. He shared with her the few treasures he was able to rescue from Langara.
Samantha gave him a fierce goodbye hug. She was here to meet up with the Odyssey on a mission to follow up on a few leads about potential supergates in the galaxy. While it might have been a coincidence that she was here as he arrived, he thanked his lucky stars to have seen her. The Land of Light might not be Earth, but it certainly felt more like home than Langara had these past seven months.
He received word from the SGC shortly after all the Priors had been "decommissioned" by the Ark of Truth that the Joint Ruling Council decided to keep practicing Origin, according to SG-3, who reconnoitered the planet. Jonas had looked forward to returning home after the battle against the Ori was won, but reports of continuing deterioration of the condition of Langara ruined any hope. Within months, the Joint Ruling Council had condemned nearly two thousand to a fiery death for being unfaithful to Origin. The undercover SG team assigned to Langara was recalled thankfully before the final report came from Langara. A suicide bomber set off a crude but large Naquadria bomb on the altar in the center of Kelowna City. Jonas eventually settled with a number of rescued allies and resistance fighters from across several worlds, and became their first governor.
The Odyssey made one last pass over the planet about a year later, with Jonas aboard, and he saw firsthand the destruction Origin had caused. The atmosphere from above was a murky brown over half the planet, two of the three continents no longer visible from orbit. SG-1 stood around him, and he drew strength from his former teammates.
1. Kianna smuggled the two men from Langara approximately a week before episode 10x07, Counterstrike. As she purposefully did not include her husband in her actions, the men would have no real information to give on Jonas.
2. Episode 10x08 Memento Mori takes place on scene over the course of almost four weeks. Given that by episode 10x09, Cam is out of a sling entirely and back on active duty, I can easily assume a minimum of six weeks takes place between the events of Memento Mori and Company of Thieves, and I can reasonably take two weeks between Counterstrike and Memento Mori. This gives me eight weeks, nearly two months between the time the men are smuggled out and the SGC comes up with a plan to find out if Jonas is alive and how to rescue him.
3. Jonas's arrival at the Land of Light and Samantha's departure onto the Odyssey immediately preceeds Company of Thieves.
P is for Precocious
"...Dad was kind of lost for words by that point, you know, so he threw up his hands and stalked -- well, limped -- away. Mark had come out to see what all the noise was about, and he just looked at me, and shrugged, and said, 'Well, he wanted to teach you to drive'."
The others chuckled, and Sam poked at the fire with the stick in her hand, grinning.
"So you were a speed demon from an early age," said Jonas. It wasn't often that his team -- and he was only just beginning to think of them as 'his' -- talked about personal history. But tonight they were relaxed, lubricated on alien booze and recent success, and talk around the campfire had gradually drifted to adventures in their younger years.
"Oh, yeah," said Sam. "Always." She glanced sideways at him. "What about you, Jonas? We've heard about Teal'c and his little crush--"
"It was not--"
"And the Colonel's experiments in the judicious application of high explosives," she carried on, ignoring Teal'c's protest. "What did you get up to when you were a kid? What were you like?"
Jonas stared into the fire, a million memories running through his mind. "Precocious," he said, eventually. The Colonel huffed a laugh, and when Jonas gave him an enquiring look, he shrugged.
"Not really a surprise," he said.
"Yes, well. Um, I suppose I was considered geeky -- although that doesn't have quite the same connotations on Kelowna. I liked to read, and my family always believed that books were the best gifts. A friend and I used to have reading competitions. When I was fifteen, my parents petitioned for me to have access to the university's library. I'd, um... kind of read everything in the school library by then." He smiled, remembering. "That was a great day. I remember walking in, and seeing all these books -- wall to wall, floor to ceiling. They seemed to stretch on forever, more books than I could ever read..."
When he surfaced from the memory, the other three were looking at him with varying degrees of amusement.
"You're weird," said the Colonel, but the words were without malice. Teal'c nodded.
Sam reached up and ruffled Jonas's hair. "Welcome to the club," she said, smiling.
Q is for Quest
He was on a mission. A quest to find that fine line between trust and loyalty, and perhaps even the acceptance he craved so much. The members of SG-1 did not trust him, nor, it seemed, did anyone else on Earth. Jonas hated feeling like an outsider, but becoming one of them seemed like a distant mirage - a near impossible feat.
He knew why they were reluctant to trust him, yet it still bothered him that they wouldn't even give him a chance to prove himself. Colonel O'Neill making him stay behind instead of accompanying him and Major Carter to the mother ship only proved to Jonas that he didn't have a chance.
"There are still many battles left to be fought, Jonas Quinn." Jonas reflected on these words, knowing that Teal'c was right, yet still worrying that he may never get the opportunity to be in one of those battles. It was important to him now.
All he needed was a chance.
The tension in the room was thick, and Jonas made a huge effort to chase away the fear that was clawing at him. The members of SG-1, his team, were in danger of dying, a fact that scared him far more than anything he had ever encountered. He had come to like them, despite their reluctance to accept him as a team member, and now he was left to stand idly by, in fact ordered to leave them there - an order he had no intention of obeying. He had the knowledge and the ability to help them, and he had to at least try even if it meant he would die trying.
"Don't wait for me," he told Jacob Carter as he raced out the door. Images of the schematics of mother ship auxiliary control panels flashed through his mind as he ran down the corridor to fulfill yet another quest. He formulated plans to reroute the power as he stood at the doorway of the room that housed the control panel. He took a deep breath, pushed the button that would open the door and pushed off.
He swam toward the auxiliary control panel, adrenalin propelling him forward. He knew this system. He had studied the mechanics of Goa'uld mother ships, committing to memory every detail to prepare himself for missions he would embark on. Now he had the opportunity to prove his worth to Colonel O'Neill, and to himself. Despite the doubts that he expressed to Teal'c, Jonas knew that he could be an asset to SG-1.
He switched the crystals, stopping once to make sure he was making the correct adjustments, then pushed the buttons to finalize the procedure. It worked, he knew it did. But he was running out of air. Floating upward toward the ceiling, he was unprepared for the rings that surrounded him, yet grateful for the chance to survive.
Denying mortality never felt so good.
"So. What were you thinking back there on that mother ship?"
Jonas stared at Colonel O'Neill, wondering if the man was genuinely interested or if this was a reprimand. He couldn't be sure, but since he had finally earned his place on SG-1, he didn't want to remind the man of those doubts he used to have.
"I told you to leave with the submarine," O'Neill said just before taking a bite out of his sandwich. "But you didn't," he continued, his mouth full of food. "You went the other way. I'm grateful you did, mind you, just wondering what caused you to do something that could have gotten you killed."
"You weren't there to tell me not to," Jonas said. He took a bite out of his own sandwich, savoring the flavors. "This chicken really is great."
"Yeah," the Colonel said with a shrug. He looked at his own sandwich for a moment, then back at Jonas. "You almost died."
"Yes," Jonas had to admit. "But someone had to do it and I had the knowledge." He stopped, then grinned at the Colonel. "I'm really glad we all got out of there alive."
"So am I," O'Neill said with an emphatic smirk. The grin disappeared and Jonas waited with a wariness that came from experience. He had seen that look more often than he liked to remember. "You disobeyed orders, Jonas."
Jonas nodded, but refused to back down. He had done the right thing. "I did what was necessary."
O'Neill nodded at that. Apparently he agreed. Jonas took another bite out of his sandwich, savoring the taste of the tomato, another food he had learned to like. He was definitely going to try everything on the menu before the month was over.
"Would you have gone on even if I had been there to tell you not to?"
O'Neill's question startled Jonas out of his thoughts of which dessert to go back through the line for. He stared at the Colonel, wondering if the truth would get him kicked off the team. He smiled at the man, then said, "Yes. Yes, I would have done the same thing. No doubt about it."
O'Neill stared at him for a moment, his expression bland, but then graced Jonas with a huge smile. "You are too much like Daniel," he said as he picked up his cup. "It's a good thing you're on my team." He took a drink of coffee, while Jonas basked in the glory he still felt every time he was reminded of what he had earned. Acceptance. A feeling that dissipated with O'Neill's next words. "Much better than a Russian."
"A Russian?" Jonas said while O'Neill took another bite of his sandwich. "It's true then?"
"You only let me on the team so that you wouldn't have to take on a Russian." Anger grew within Jonas as he thought about it, but then he saw the grin O'Neill was trying to hide as he dug something out of his coffee.
"Oh. I see," he said, "A joke." O'Neill lost his battle and smiled anyway, while Jonas only felt relief. Colonel O'Neill had him worried there for a minute.
"We're leaving in the morning," O'Neill said, as he finished off his sandwich. "Be ready."
"I'll be there," Jonas said, happy once again. It had taken him awhile, but he had accomplished his quest to be one of them. He had worked hard to find that acceptance, and all it took was nearly killing himself. And yes, this is one quest that had been worth it.
R is for Retrograde
Life must be understood backwards; but... it must be lived forward.
When he held himself perfectly still, he could feel the pent-up warmth from the day slowly leeching back towards the sky. The full dark of night was still to come; the ridges of the mountains were shadows looming into view, but the first stars could be seen; seemingly blinking into existence as the light continued to fade.
It was hard to keep himself from fidgeting, he was aware of a thrum of excitement that made his whole body feel tense. Mostly, it was due to being on the surface; away from the labyrinthine sprawl of the SGC and its sterile, claustrophobic rooms without windows. It was his home now, buried half a mile underground and hidden from the rest of the world.
It was a place filled with technological marvels that he had never seen, let alone imagined, but there were times when he missed his old laboratory on Kelowna. There weren't walls of plate glass to let in the streaming afternoon sun; instead they were painted a regulation white that the overhead fluorescents dulled to a cold grey.
Dr Jackson's office was more appealing; every spare space was crammed with artefacts and books, and there were enough unfinished translations to keep a person occupied until the end of time. But he still felt like an interloper, treading in dead man's shoes that pinched.
For one afternoon, he had carefully examined the last notebook that Daniel had left behind, hoping to glean some sense of the man that he had so briefly known. The scrawled writing was cryptic though, mostly dry descriptions that were quickly jotted down and to the point. He had bit back his disappointment and felt even guiltier when he finished, as though he had failed once again to see what was right in front of him.
It wasn't quite morbid curiosity that drove him to seek out the remnants of Daniel Jackson. He couldn't help obsessing over whether there was some hidden meaning in the way that a grouping of figurines had been arranged next to a shallow bowl carved from a fine-grained wood. Or if the circled date on the calendar still two months away was a significant one.
It was impossible to let go sometimes.
He had found that the best distraction was also the most rewarding. The accumulation of knowledge was his lifelong passion. It was all at his fingertips, through the power of what Major Carter termed a Boolean search. The computer showed him anything that he could think of; he'd lost days amid the turbulent histories of long-forgotten empires and even more probing the scientific data stored on the SGC mainframe.
But eventually he had hungered for more. He was more than a theoretical scientist; it wasn't enough to simply observe -- he had to participate, actively pursue the answers.
SG-1 would be his gateway.
It was going to be an uphill battle to even be considered for a place on the team, but he was prepared to fight for it. He just had to find a way to make it happen.
"Jonas! Come on or you're going to miss it."
Carter motioned him over to where she and Teal'c had positioned their lawn chairs.
"It's about to start and you haven't even set yours up yet."
A streak of light traversed the sky overhead. He tilted his head up, watching as it died away.
He turned to Carter and grinned.
"First falling star," he said, and made a wish.
S is for Stay
"Someone remind me what the Kelownan for 'stay' is, because the word I'm using sure isn't working."
Jonas could imagine this was being said with fingers drumming against the side of the rifle, as if Colonel O'Neill was two subconscious steps from fixing the situation by shooting something. Presumably not him, considering the angle.
Sam's face peered over the edge above him.
"Don't move," she said. Rather unhelpfully he thought. He could see, behind the concern, Sam automatically working through the equation of weight, distance and planet's gravitational pull, and subtracting it from a century old tree root. "Jonas, don't move we'll get you up."
"I wasn't planning to," muttered Jonas.
"Oh, does 'don't move' work? Because I was thinking that means the same damn thing."
Jonas looked down, and immediately regretted it. It was a funny thing that he could happily sit in a spaceship miles above the nearest piece of land without any problem, but put him a hundred feet up, dangling from on the side of a mountain? Actually, it wasn't very funny at all. And the tree root didn't look as sturdy as he first thought. Still, from the snatched observation of his position the drop probably wouldn't kill him. Permanent disability wouldn't too amusing though. He wondered how much it would hurt.
Okay. He really needed to take his mind off his situation.
"There isn't a direct translation for the word 'stay'," he replied, "and I did stay in the area. The area just kinda moved."
Colonel O'Neill replaced Sam over the edge of the mountain. He was lightly holding on to his P90. Ready for action. "Whad'ya mean there isn't a word for 'stay'?"
"Not a single word which means exactly the same thing." There was a solid looking piece of rock sticking out of the mountain. If Jonas stretched he could probably use it to reach that ledge on his far right. "You know, English is quite complicated."
"There isn't a word for.... Are you telling me that you never stay in one place on your planet?"
"No." Jonas eased himself along the root. "It's just there isn't a word we use in the same way you do."
"So, when I tell you to stay you have no idea what I'm saying?"
"I can grasp it from the context." And your facial expressions, Jonas added to himself.
"Unbelievable." Colonel O'Neill turned away to speak to his team-mates, momentarily forgetting Jonas' life or death situation "Did you hear that? They don't have the word 'stay.'"
"Don't they, sir?" Jonas stretched toward the rock. "That's quite surprising." He could hear Sam's slightly incredulous tone overriding the worry about the serious state he was in. She was going to ask if he was being somewhat untruthful later.
"I know! Stay is not a word."
Jonas put a foot on the ledge. "Not every word exists in every language," he called up.
"Every useful word should exist in every language. T, you guys have a word for 'stay.'"
A large vine looped its way down to Jonas' position.
"I believe 'kree' to be most sufficient."
T is for Temptation
Jonas doesn't think of himself as terribly clever. Intelligent, sure, and possessed of a good memory which helps him to facts on fast-recall. But that doesn't make him a quick thinker. A quick thinker wouldn't have stood there gawking and let an alien crash through a glass wall to save a planet that wasn't his own. In Jonas's defense, he's gotten better, working with Colonel O'Neill and the rest of SG-1. Their reflexes are incredible, and he feels like he's made some real contributions to the team. Of course, then there are days like this one, where he finds a crashed ship on a supposedly empty planet and then forgets to tell O'Neill where he is so that the Colonel can check it out for himself.
So when Hammond comes to the lab to tell him that Reynard appears to have tried to hack into the base's computers, Jonas is giddy with relief--not because O'Neill's distrust in the shipwrecked crew has been well placed, but because he has an idea. Those folks have been stuck on that planet for a long time, so clearly any option for escape would be welcome, but there's real hunger in Reynard's gaze when Jonas talks about traveling through the Stargate. Jonas understands that--the Gate is like the ultimate siren to any curious nature. Whether Reynard's hunger is anything more than greed is yet to be determined, but Jonas suddenly feels like laying out a little trap. Reynard can sweet-talk all she likes, but as Jonas gathers his motley assortment of treasures, he grins. Compared to being part of this team, she's little temptation.
U is for Up
Daniel walked slowly up to the entrance of the infirmary. In the doorway he hesitated, not wanting to disturb any of the patients in the beds lined up along the walls. Was he allowed to just enter the infirmary and seek out the person he wanted to see? Could he come and go as he pleased? Daniel remembered the infirmary from before he ascended, but the memory was hazy at best, confusing him more than it helped him figure out how to act. His first days back were clearer to him, but so much had happened during a short time that he still was working on making sense of all that as well. Despite the haziness of his memories related to this place, Daniel clearly remembered that he had rarely been alone when waking up here. It should be safe for him to enter.
Spotting the close-cut blond head of the man he was seeking out, Daniel slowly walked up to the bed. The patient lying there was awake, watching Daniel's approach with a small smile on his face, eyes clear and focused on Daniel as he came closer.
"Daniel," Jonas said, indicating for Daniel to sit down. Daniel spotted a stool and rolled it over before seating himself beside the bed.
"Hi," Daniel answered, giving a little smile of his own. Jonas smiled a lot, Daniel had noticed while on Anubis' ship. He relaxed at the fact that Jonas was awake and let his smile turn into a warm greeting. "How are you?" Daniel asked, gesturing to Jonas' injured side.
"I'm fine. They say I'll be ready to get out of here in a day or two."
"That's good," Daniel nodded and felt his smile stretched wider. "That's great." He suddenly felt a pang of uncertainty. What would Jonas do? Jonas was on SG-1, occupying the place Daniel had learned he'd had. He couldn't remember much of his life as a member of SG-1 yet, but he'd been told he'd been on the team for several years. Would Jonas continue his work here? Or go home? Would he even be allowed back at Kelowna? What would Daniel himself do? A frown replaced Daniel's smile as the questions popped into his head.
"Hey," Jonas said, "I mean what I said earlier. You can have your office back. I really don't mind."
"I remember." Daniel said. "What about your place on SG-1?"
Daniel wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer. He'd had fun on that ship. Somehow he sensed he'd not always thought it fun to crawl around narrow spaces or hide around corners wearing military gear and a big machine gun. Jack had showed him that his life had been one of books and languages and ancient cultures. Although he'd explained that Daniel had been on SG-1 he hadn't talked about what that entailed in specifics, wanting Daniel to remember on his own. During their recent mission Daniel, somewhat to his surprise, found that handling the machine gun and the military equipment came just as easy to him as holding a pen. He'd done a lot of both, then. Onboard the ship he'd been assaulted with little blink-of-an-eye glimpses of his life at the SGC. He hadn't had time to think much of them there, but now he had time. Daniel decided he had liked the work he apparently had done here. He must have since he'd been at it for five years or so before his actions on Kelowna earned him a place among the Ascended and Jonas a place on SG-1. What little he'd seen had scared him and woken his curiosity. The reports he'd read had helped explain some of it, but Daniel sensed his curiosity waken and his thirst for knowledge and understanding waken with it. Daniel decided he'd like to do this seemingly dual job. There was yet much to learn, much to figure out but if the team wanted him back, he was here and willing to relearn and remember.
Jonas shrugged in the bed, wincing as he jarred his injured side. "Yeah, I guess we should talk about that. I...I like the job. It's fun. There's so much to see, so man people to meet, so much to learn..." His words echoing Daniel's thoughts, faded and Jonas became distant for a little while. Daniel wondered what he'd already seen and done that he couldn't remember.
Jonas looked at Daniel. "Then there is the situation on Kelowna that needs to be resolved, and I did have a fairly interesting job there before all of this happened. I think they need me, Daniel. I think I have to go back. I have to help them. I just hope they'll allow me."
"Yes, there is that. From what I've heard they think you've betrayed them, but what you've really done is open up the world to them. They should be thankful for that. I don't see why they wouldn't," Daniel said. "Talk to them. I'm sure they'll understand."
"I will," Jonas nodded. "I'll miss this though," he said after a little while.
"Yeah," Daniel thought about that. What had he missed? What had happened while he'd been away?
They sat in silence for a little while before Daniel added, almost inaudible. "I just had to ask."
Jonas smiled. "Hey, it's okay. I know. It's hard for you. You don't remember everything yet, right?"
"I don't." Daniel shook his head.
"It's incredible, Daniel. Just wait and see." Jonas beamed at him. "I'll try to put all your stuff back the way it was before I arrived," he added with a wink.
"Don't bother," Daniel said, feeling the smile returning. "I don't remember much from before yet, remember?"
Jonas laughed. "Yeah, I remember." Sobering he said "I do hope you remember all of it though."
"Me too," Daniel said. "Just not all at once, I've got enough with the memories I do have as it is. It's not like they come in chronological order." He gave a wry smile.
"I'm sure you do, just ask if there's anything I can help you with."
"I will. Thank you." They had talked about what had happened on Kelowna earlier, and Daniel held no grudge towards Jonas for what he did. He was only sorry that some of his fellow Kelownans had died the same horrible death he had.
Silence stretched out between them, but it was a comfortable silence, Daniel thought. Now that they'd sorted out the most pressing question on his mind he could relax a little. He belonged here, had friends here. Jonas had a home to go to as well, and a purpose. In time he'd remember it all and hopefully Jonas would help solve the problems the Kelownans now were facing. Only time would tell.
"I will never forget. The things you've done for us..." Daniel said.
"Nor will I. I still feel like I owe you a lot."
"No, you don't!" Realising where he was Daniel lowered his voice again. "You don't. You have done so much for us, for Earth, for me. Helping your people is the best thing you can do now."
"I guess you're right. It just feels like it never will be enough. You died, Daniel. Nothing can match up to that."
"I... I don't know what to say to that," Daniel answered. He had died. That memory had hit him while asleep and returned to him several times in form of a nightmare.
"On the brighter side you're here now, so let's just focus on that, shall we?" Jonas said, suddenly all smiles again.
"I remember having asked you this before, back on the ship, but are you always this up, this cheerful?" Daniel asked.
"Yeah," Jonas shrugged. "I guess I am."
"I guess that must have annoyed Jack a little?"
"Oh yes! I think he was pretty frustrated with my cheerfulness at times, but it was a good thing too. Kept our hopes up when things went rough."
"I've read the reports," Daniel said. "You've been through some tough times."
"Well, so have you."
"True," Daniel admitted. "I've read about that as well."
"You'll visit?" Daniel asked.
"Of course, and you'll come too?"
Daniel stood. "You're going to be okay?"
"I'll be fine," Jonas said.
"Good. Get some rest, I'll be back later. Anything you need before I go?"
"No, I'm good, thanks."
Daniel nodded and turned to leave.
"Hey," Jonas said to Daniel's retreating back. "O'Neill says you're a great cook. How about you make some of your famous dishes before I go home? Perhaps you could even give me a recipe or two?"
Daniel turned and went back to Jonas' bed. "He has? Really? Um..."
"Yeah, he's been wanting your," Jonas scrunched up his face to remember, "Hummus for months now. He's been talking about it for as long as I've been here."
"Really? He missed that?"
"What?" Jonas sat up a little, looking intently at Daniel, watching him intently trying to remember, his face a deep frown.
"I don't think I remember how to make that. Hummus, you said? Hm..."
"Yeah. And Sam's been talking about some fish casserole you make too. Is there anything you don't cook?"
"I don't remember.... I don't think I'm any good at baking," Daniel said with certainty in his voice. "Teal'c makes a mean chocolate sheet cake though. That I do remember."
"Oh, yes! I have tasted that. It is the most delicious thing I've ever had." Jonas laughed again.
"It is. I'll ask if he can make one you can take with you."
"Yeah, that'd be great."
"It must have been hard for you, having them talk about their memories of me when you were around?" Daniel suddenly asked.
"It was, at times. But it also helped me focus and reminded me of why I was here."
"For what?" Jonas asked sincerely.
"For... I don't know. I can't remember." Daniel smiled sheepishly and Jonas laughed heartily. Jack had told him about his tendency for feeling guilty about everything he was involved with so Daniel decided not to feel guilty for having died and for Jonas having come to Earth. It'd been his choice. They'd both chosen the actions that led to where they now where.
"So, how about that hummus," Jonas asked when he had finally stopped laughing.
"Sure. I'll look up the ingredients and see if I can remember how to make it."
"Did I hear someone say hummus?" a voice said. Jack was suddenly standing behind Daniel, placing his hands on Daniel's shoulders as if to anchor him in place.
"Yes, we were talking about it," Daniel said, turning his head to look at Jack.
"Excellent. Let's go then. I'm sure there's a kitchen somewhere where we can find the things we need. "
"I'll just wait here, then," Jonas said from the bed, smiling.
"You do that," came the chorus from the retreating forms of both Jack and Daniel. Jonas watched them leave, Jack with his arm around Daniel's shoulder, keeping him close and ruffling his hair as they left the infirmary. Jonas had been told Jack and Daniel had been close friends, but it was nice to see it with his own eyes. Daniel laughed and stepped away, swatting Jack's back playfully as they left Jonas' sight.
He'd had a blast. He'd left as a traitor but hoped he would be able to return as something else, as someone who could help his people and as someone who could come back to Earth for a visit once things calmed down at Kelowna. Yes, Jonas thought, there were definitely enough reasons to be up. Hoping he'd never run out of reasons to smile, he laid back and anticipated the coming meal.
V is for Voracious
The feeling of reverent anticipation that Jonas always experienced when entering Dr. Jackson's former office filled him with its usual spark of excited yearning as he arrived for another evening of reading. Jonas had been living at the SGC for nearly a month now, but the treasure-trove of knowledge contained in this office still tended to overwhelm him, like a banquet set before a starving man. So much information, most of it complete with a proper context, right there at his fingertips, and all of it available any time he wanted or needed it! Like that wondrous channel devoted solely to environmental conditions on this planet, this office not only provided detailed information for specific locations, but gave the overall pattern of which the local details were a part.
Jonas hungrily surveyed the shelves filled with books and artifacts, the new television, and the computer that was the link to even more answers about the peoples of not only this planet Earth, but scores of additional cultures on planets scattered throughout the galaxy. What should he explore next? Even with all this information to be digested, Jonas suspected he'd never sate his appetite for learning about new places and the peoples that lived in them. With a smile, he selected a book and began the next course of his knowledge banquet.
W is for Worlds
Lower lip sucked in and being gently worried by his upper teeth, Jonas Quinn carefully applied a dab of green paint to the blue sphere, then sat back to admire his work.
"You made Andari too big," Revis Sorrel complained.
"No, I didn't," he replied immediately, opening an atlas and showing his classmate the picture he used as a mental reference.
Revis craned his head to look. "That's wrong! Where'd you get that?"
"It's not wrong," Jonas defended. Forgetting the bit of paint still clinging to his right hand, he accidentally smeared it across his nose, sighed, and wiped his hand off on his dad's old shirt. "It's my mom's book."
"Yeah? Isn't your mom Andari?"
"So obviously an Andari book is going to show Andari bigger than Kelowna," the other boy groaned, rolling his eyes.
Jonas stared at him in confusion. "Why?"
"Why would an Andari book show it bigger? Cartographers use the same measurement systems around the world, so the measurements are the same no matter who makes the map."
"'Cause they pretend they're better than everyone else, that's why," Revis replied with a disdainful sniff. "Just like the Teranians always claim to have a bigger population than Kelowna."
"They do have a bigger population." Recalling a book from his parents' library, he recited, "'Terania experienced a baby boom following the Fortrican Valley Massacre, when the government issued financial incentives to couples. In just two short years, the population of Terania had exceeded the levels prior to the attack.'"
"Geez, did you get that from a Teranian book?" Revis sneered, drawing a humiliated flush to the younger boy's cheeks. "Everyone knows the Fortrican Valley Massacre was a sham set up by the Teranian government to allow them to break the Accords. They bombed Etara City only days later, remember? We covered that in history class weeks ago."
Jonas sighed. He was never as good at remembering what he heard as he was at remembering what he had read. Having an assortment of Teranian and Andari historical accounts at home and reading Kelownan texts at school meant he wound up with a jumble of conflicting stories. It was partly why he found himself drawn to ancient history and mythology: fewer conflicts among the scholars, regardless of cultural background.
"Look, just add a little more paint to make Kelowna bigger, and we'll add it to the model. It's not like we have time to paint a whole new one anyway." Turning away, Revis returned to painting Atropo, the moon. Jonas was pretty certain the placement and sizing of the craters was all wrong, but he wasn't about to put himself forward for ridicule again.
Setting the model of Thano aside to dry--without modifying the size of the Kelownan continent--Jonas picked up the brown ball which was to become Hypno, Thano's "twin" planet in the solar system. Of course, scientists were certain Hypno had a toxic atmosphere and was otherwise inhospitable, but the two worlds had similar mass and size, and it was only reluctantly that the scientific community even agreed to call the planets after the old gods in mythology. Not, of course, that they agreed on which linguistic variant to use, and still others argued the historical name for their planet was actually "Langara"...
"You started on Hinnos yet?" Revis asked. "I'm almost done with Thenos, and then we can put the whole solar system together."
"It won't take long," Jonas answered, loading his brush with yellow paint and streaking the surface of the foam ball. As he worked, he imagined what it be like if people did live below Hypno's dense atmosphere. Would they look like the people of Thano? If there really were Hypnoans, would they try to conquer the Thanoans? Ally with one government against the other two? What if they wanted to make friends with all three continents? Surely Kelowna, Terania, and Andari could set aside their differences for such an opportunity... right?
Glancing at his classmate, Jonas was pretty sure he knew how that suggestion would be taken by Revis and anyone else from their class. They may have been born on the same continent, but there were times when Jonas felt as though he and his fellow Kelownans were from completely different worlds.
X is for X-Files
During those first three months when Jonas was confined to the mountain, he spent most of his time voraciously absorbing history and culture. For the most part, his preferred tools were journals and textbooks. But Sam suspected that Teal'c was directing his television viewing when Jonas asked her why the government allowed Wormhole X-treme! to reveal so many secrets of the Stargate program, and why most of the details were wrong.
"It's just a TV show, Jonas," she explained, stifling her amusement at the innocent question.
He blinked at her. "I don't understand."
"It's fiction," she clarified. "Based on the SGC, yes, and that's a long story in itself, but it's true only in the vaguest..." She stopped and studied his puzzled expression. "Fiction. Made-up stories? Didn't you have those on Kelowna?"
"Well, yes," Jonas said slowly. "Morality tales told to children. Values taught through parables." He hesitated for a moment, then shook his head. "I'm sorry, Major Carter. I guess I'm missing a cultural perception here, but I don't see what lesson children are supposed to learn from --"
"No, it's not like that at all. It's not supposed to teach a lesson. It's just supposed to entertain."
"But it's shown as real!" Now Jonas seemed genuinely shocked. "Surely the government doesn't allow the presentation of lies here on Earth?"
Now it was Sam's turn to blink. "Most governments do lie, Jonas. And anyway, it's not something that's 'allowed' -- it's not government programming, you know. It's just for fun."
"So all the programs I've been watching are untrue?"
"Not all of them." Sam gave an inward sigh as she wished, not for the first time, that there was someone else to explain Earth culture and norms to Jonas. She also tried not to think about who she wanted that someone to be.
"So how can I know...?"
"The news reports are true -- more or less, anyway. There's always some bias involved in reporting. CNN is mostly okay. ESPN and C-SPAN air the real thing, even if you wouldn't necessarily agree with the commentary. Documentaries include real footage, although again, there's always the question of interpretation." Jonas was nodding eagerly as she spoke, mentally cataloging her list. "And the Weather Channel is definitely true," she added with a smile, "even if the weather doesn't always cooperate."
"But most dramatic or comedic presentations are only stories?"
"That's right." Sam eyed him, wondering what the Kelownan would identify as drama or comedy. There was no guarantee his definitions would fit her own.
"That's good. That's really good." He scrubbed at his hair, looking unaccountably relieved.
"Was there something you saw that concerned you when you thought it was real?" she asked gently.
Jonas shuffled his feet a little, then confessed in a small voice, "I was greatly disturbed to see what I thought was proof that the Tau'ri government was as corrupt as Kelowna's. I trusted you -- you, and Colonel O'Neill, and Teal'c, and... and Doctor Jackson. And when I met General Hammond, I felt that trust had been justified. I believed that the Tau'ri could be trusted with the naquadriah when my own people could not. And then I watched a program that said that the government here couldn't be trusted not to abuse its own people, much less act honorably towards other nations and planets." He offered a smile. "I'm really glad it's all untrue, Major Carter."
Understanding dawned. "You were watching The X-Files, weren't you?" Sam couldn't keep the incredulous grin off her face.
Jonas nodded. "I was also disturbed by the Asgard abuse of your people, but if it's all a lie, as you say..."
Sam laughed. "I'm not going to deny that there are people who believe in huge government conspiracies, Jonas. The show wouldn't be so popular if the concept didn't resonate. But believe me when I say that if 'the truth is out there,' it's definitely not on The X-Files."
Jonas smiled, and the subject changed to Star Trek and the realities of space exploration on Earth.
Months later, after the harrowing events in Oregon, Sam caught Jonas looking at her with a speculative expression. Even she had to admit that the NID's behavior, the callous disregard for the safety of the people of Steveston, could have featured on a typical X-Files episode. But Jonas never brought up the subject, and Sam decided to leave it at that.
Still, when she woke up from the first nightmare of being invaded by a Goa'uld again, she took her X-Files DVDs and stuffed them in the bottom of a box at the back of her closet.
Y is Yesterday
Yesterday, I had a home, a job, and a purpose among people I believed in. Yesterday, I also believed my world to be alone in the universe. When the visitors from Earth came to us, I learned how small and sheltered my world is, and how petty. We thought to go to war with a weapon that would kill us all with its power.
Then Doctor Jackson, a scholar like me, went through a window to his death. Yesterday, I learned how hard telling the truth is--because no one would hear it.
Yesterday, I loved my world, and left it.
Y is for Yes Man
Jonas had been surprised when Colonel O'Neill had come into Dr. Jackson's office to seek him out. Since leaving Kelowna, it had seemed that the Colonel had been strenuously attempting to avoid him. It was easy to see that he associated Jonas with the loss of his friend, and while that loss was still fresh, Jonas had no trouble understanding that just the sight of him would be painful. The Colonel did not discuss such things, but both his anger and his pain had shone through during that last discussion he'd had with O'Neill on Kelowna, when O'Neill had tried to warn of the dangers of proceeding with the construction of the bomb. But here he was, in Dr. Jackson's office, asking if Jonas had a moment to speak with him.
Jonas smiled, invitingly of course, and offered the Colonel a seat. The Colonel declined, and when his gaze fell upon the nearby desk, he had moved swiftly to gather up a pottery bowl, a coffee mug, and a pair of glasses that were there, placing them carefully on one of the higher shelves nearby.
"Some of these things need to be packed up for storage," he said somewhat stiffly. "Let's go to my office for this."
So Jonas trailed him down to his office, where O'Neill had told him that both Teal'c and Major Carter had put in a good word for him, and suggested him for the open position on SG-1. Carter had said he was a genius with an unparalleled ability to digest and retain new material, and that he was already familiar with most of the contents of Daniel's journals. He was offering him the spot on the team. That is, if he wanted it?
Jonas had assured him immediately that yes, yes he would be honored, and that he still regretted his actions on Kelowna in not standing up for Dr. Jackson's reputation, and that he would be delighted to be in a position to make a difference.
"Okay, then," Jack said, and that was all the dismissal Jonas got. After a rather protracted and pointed silence, Jonas had gotten the hint and left, returning to Dr. Jackson's office with only two wrong turns on the way.
He had hoped that the invitation to join the team would be a turning point in his relationship with Colonel O'Neill, or at least somewhat of a fresh start. But while the Colonel had been polite, and surprisingly patient with most of Jonas' questions, and careful to give thanks for Jonas' help, he still seemed to be avoiding him when he could. During briefings it even seemed that the more positive and helpful Jonas was, the heavier the Colonel's displeasure. Why should agreeing with the Colonel's point of view and offering data to back it up disturb the man? Jonas pondered this for a while, but having seen no clear answer, he decided it was time for some outside input, and Major Carter seemed to be the best choice for a source. She was, after all, a native of the planet, and seemed to navigate the Colonel's moods where Teal'c rose above them or let them crash around him, depending on how one looked at it.
When he found her in the commissary, she was addressing herself to an orange, some toast, and a mug of coffee. It was late for breakfast, but Jonas understood that eating together was as sociable here as it was back home, so he got himself a serving of fruit salad, a banana, and a coffee as a mid-afternoon snack. The Major was very excited about an unusual discovery that she had learned of just that morning from a researcher down in Antarctica which she would be proposing that SG-1 fly down and take a look at when they met with General Hammond that afternoon. After they had gone over the salient facts about the find, so that Jonas could bone up on what he might need to know, he was finally able to bring up his quandary.
"Major Carter?" he began.
"Sam," she reminded him.
He grinned. It was nice to be treated as a friend, and fortunately Teal'c had explained to him that unlike on Kelowna, a woman offering to be on a first name basis was not an invitation to more than simple friendship. Otherwise it might have led to awkward misunderstandings. Jonas paused for a moment to make sure what he had to say would be clear and not phrased in a way that might lead Major Carter -- Sam -- to think he was complaining, and asked her for her advice.
"The more I try to please the man, the unhappier it seems to make him," he finished, forcing a smile to mask his unhappiness with the state of affairs.
Sam listened attentively, and then looked down at the table for a moment with the slight frown that usually indicated that she was solving a puzzle. When she looked up again, her eyes and her voice were gentle.
"The Colonel hates a yes man, Jonas," she said. "I think it's important with him to tell him what you really think. Sometimes he's not going to like that, but it's what he needs to make the right decisions in the field."
Jonas looked up. Colonel O'Neill was standing in the doorway. He had been focused on Sam's reaction and advice, and he had no idea how long he had been there or how much he had heard. He was coming towards them. This was awkward. Jonas placed his empty mug on the plate with the fruit rind, and gathering up the plate and the as yet untouched banana, he hastily excused himself, and returned to Dr. Jackson's -- no, his! -- office to think over what Sam had said.
Really, there was some justice to the suggestion that he was a yes man. Initially he'd been stung by the term. He tried to be pleasant, and he liked to please, but he had argued hard after the tragic explosion of the prototype for the end of the bomb building project, and when that had failed, he had tried to impress upon the government the utmost importance that the bomb remain just a deterrent, never to be actually used. Colonel O'Neill had not been there to see that, though, and if he were honest with himself, his efforts came too late for Dr. Jackson and his fellow Kelownan scientists, and long after he himself had begun to have misgivings about the whole project. And there had been a few times when he'd soft pedaled something or failed to speak up for fear of the Colonel's displeasure. Little things, to be sure, nothing that really mattered, but still... Jonas tried on the label, and found it fit, and found that he didn't like it. Well, there was nothing he could do about the past, but he resolved to learn from this, and make changes for the future, and with that, realizing that it was time for the briefing, he gathered the relevant reports and headed for the briefing room.
At the briefing, after General Hammond had opened the floor, Sam was the first to speak, detailing her communications with Dr. Michaels, and urging that SG-1 be allowed to go down to follow up on the find and determine whether the base would likely be a continued source of fruitful discoveries, thus warranting continued funding beyond this season. She made what seemed to Jonas to be a pretty good case for the mission, and he was expecting Colonel O'Neill to agree with her analysis, as he usually did so when she seemed as enthusiastic about something as this.
"Oh, please, General!" he said. "Antarctica. I can't say I care for the place!"
Did he actually shiver?
"And it takes like a zillion hours to fly down there. Couldn't we just wait for them to upload the information to us here, and Carter can look it over in her nice warm office. If she really feels she needs some ice to get the full experience, I'd be glad to fetch some from the commissary!"
Jonas couldn't believe his ears. This find was interesting. This find was important. It might have implications for their entire understanding of the history of Earth, the Goa'uld, and the stargates on this planet. This went to the core of the scientific portion of the SGC's mission. Couldn't he see that? Science was not just facts and theories and dry data. Science was a hands-on practical thing too, and one without the other was not whole! Jonas just could not stand by and watch this happen!"
"No, Colonel! You're wrong! We need to go down there! We need to see this! Major Carter needs to look this over in person!"
Jonas was just about to open his mouth again to continue, when Colonel O'Neill interrupted him by making a strange, fisted pumping motion with both his arms.
"Yessssss!" he said. Then looking at Jonas, who was staring with some confusion, he cocked his head slightly to one side, and somewhat ruefully explained, "It's different!"
"O'Neill was expressing approbation of your action, not agreeing to the sentiment," Teal'c elucidated.
Oh!, thought Jonas. So he did hear.
Still, it was the first time he'd seen such whole-hearted approval for anything he'd said in a briefing from Colonel O'Neill. Jonas smiled.
Z is for Zat
His life at the SGC started with a hesitation. That was the one he would never forget--even when it got fixed later, there was that moment when he'd frozen and...
And. And then, that.
Colonel O'Neill had taken him to the shooting range when he'd first gotten the assignment to SG-1. Major Carter had spoken up for him, and so had Teal'c, but he knew that wasn't why he was there. Jonas spent some time wondering if his place on SG-1 meant that Jack hated Russians more than he hated Kelowna--unlikely, considering what had brought Jonas here--or just preferred the devil he picked over the devil he was assigned. It wasn't a lack of trust in Jonas's abilities, he thought; the colonel just put more stock in trusting people than he did in trusting their abilities.
"Nope," O'Neill said when they'd arrived at the armory and Jonas reached for a weapon--pistol--that he saw most of the personnel carry.
Jonas hesitated again, and then reached for the other one most of the personnel carried--the bigger one--only to be stopped before his hand could reach it as a Goa'uld weapon was pressed into his hand.
"This is a zat," O'Neill said shortly. "It has a longer name that I don't care about. First shot stuns; second kills. You carry this off-world. Don't screw up."
"Yes, sir," Jonas said, and immediately screwed up by priming it while it was pointing at himself and then nearly dropping it in surprise.
It didn't take long to learn how to use it the right way. There weren't many weapons simpler, he supposed, at least from the operator's standpoint. And the first shot didn't kill--Jonas rather liked that part. He wasn't a warrior, and while he was willing to be in order to make up for what he hadn't done, it was heartening to know that there was something he could use as an effective weapon that wouldn't kill someone. He'd hesitate if he thought he had to kill someone.
As it turned out, he hesitated anyway, and on his very first mission.
There were Jaffa bodies lying on the floor of the teltak by the time Jonas managed to get his zat primed and ready to shoot. Teal'c raised an eyebrow at him and put his own weapon away.
Should have been there, Jonas thought as they flew back to Earth's surface, both of them imagining the rest of SG-1 stuck in a mothership. Shouldn't have just stood there. He was always just standing there. He glared at his zat, as if it were to blame for his own errors.
It wasn't cowardice, he found, or at least, not of the sort that feared giving his own life for the team. He could hold his breath until he thought his lungs would burst, knowing there was no way out if he failed...but even as O'Neill gave him a sideways, half-approving smile from under freezing and dripping-wet hair, he knew that one day, it would come to bullets and energy blasts, and on that day, if he hesitated, there would be more lost than himself. Holding one's breath only did any good when one was under water. Holding one's breath was one-way, and exchanging fire with an enemy wasn't.
O'Neill knew that, too. He took Jonas to the range again and taught him to load, hold, shoot, and clean a pistol, and then a P90, but when they went off-world, it was still 'zat only.' Jonas tried not to show how relieved he was.
The next time a threat popped up off-world, he squeezed the trigger without pausing and downed the hostile Jaffa, just as he had been taught. Teal'c gave him a nod that first time. Jonas still twitched a little when Teal'c shot the Jaffa again and killed him.
"He was a sentry--he would have recovered quickly and then alerted others," Teal'c said, though it wasn't quite rebuke--it was more like teaching.
"Oh," Jonas said. "Sorry."
The next time, he was quicker with the first shot and only had to swallow hard once before taking the second shot.
Sam was the one who suggested, one day, that he take an intar instead.
"It feels more like a pistol," she explained. "Most people get a lot more training than you did before they start going off-world. I froze the first time I shot someone in the field."
Jonas glanced at her, wondering if she was thinking about a specific time he'd frozen, but she didn't seem to be referring to anything other than exactly what she had said. "But you shot the person," he pointed out. "Not that I couldn't. I just...haven't. So far."
"Yeah, but for me, it was after four years of training at a military academy and lots more training in practical situations. You'd be surprised at how many trained infantrymen throw their shots in the field--subconsciously, for some, but still. It's natural."
"I wouldn't do that," he said seriously. "I know better than that." Because he knew that, if he did throw his shots, one of his teammates would likely pay the price. Not wanting to kill anyone, enemy or not, was different from being unwilling to if the time came.
"I know," she said. "The thing is, you're holding a weapon. Your natural instinct--the one you're born with--should be to hesitate, and that's an instinct that gets conditioned out of you with training and improving judgment. Intars can be a good aid for that. They train your muscles to act before you can over-think everything." She offered a small smile. "It's the ones who don't hesitate at the beginning, even a little, that we worry about."
The time Jonas brought an intar off-world, the mission turned out to be as peaceful as missions got--he touched his holster once but never needed to draw the weapon. He remembered what Teal'c had told him once, about the sentry he should have killed, and returned to the zat for the next trip. An intar never killed; a P90 often did. The zat gave him a choice, and while he tried not to choose the second shot if he didn't have to, he could when he did have to.
The first time Colonel O'Neill gave him a live firearm to use--not at the range, but in the field--it was because zats didn't work against Replicators.
He didn't hesitate.
As it turned out, it didn't matter, because projectile weapons didn't work on these Replicators, either. Still. He hadn't hesitated. He thought that should be a sort of victory but couldn't be sure whether or not it really was.
"Here," the colonel said, handing him a loaded Tau'ri handgun before their next mission. "More effective than a zat. Don't forget to count your bullets and reload when you run out."
"Right," Jonas agreed, accepting the Beretta and slipping it into his holster. "I won't forget, Colonel."
Despite the ruckus and confusion it caused afterward, both in and out of the Mountain, part of Jonas was relieved that the first thing he'd pointed his pistol at was a translucent bug that resided on another plane. He loved his job, and there were some parts he really loved, but exchanging weapons fire would never be one of those parts.
"This is just standard recon, right?" Jonas asked before their next mission. "No particular threats we're expecting?"
Sam quirked an eyebrow at him while reaching for her tactical vest but said, "Yeah. Just a regular stroll through the 'gate."
Jonas returned a smile at her teasing tone. He checked his vest and his pack to make sure he had everything he'd need for an initial survey if they found anything interesting, then grabbed a zat and strapped it around his thigh.
"You're checked out all standard firearms now, right?" Sam said, watching him. She was clipping a P90 to the harness under her vest. "You can take an M9 if you want."
"Yup," he said. "I like the zat better."
To his surprise, she didn't give him funny looks or seem to doubt his abilities, but rather turned sideways so he could see that she'd chosen a zat as her own sidearm, too. She carried a zat as often as not, he realized in retrospect. "Yeah," she agreed. "It's nice to have the choice."
"Exactly," he said, relieved that she understood, and threw an arm around her shoulders as they made their way out to join the colonel and Teal'c in the 'gate room.