"We have arrived."

Thor's voice never betrayed much, so Jack took a second longer than he should have to process Thor's little announcement.

"There appears to be an attack underway against a shielded installation on the planet, as well as a ship and a satellite located farther out in the system."

"Any idea who's who?" Mitchell asked. He peered at the sensor readouts at Thor's fingertips, even though Jack would have bet he had no more idea what they meant than Jack did.

"The attackers appear to be non-human according to my readings," Thor reported. "Their ships are organic and acting as carriers for smaller, single lifeform attack craft in addition to possessing heavy energy weaponry themselves."

"It appears that we have arrived at a propituous moment, O'Neill," Teal'c said.

"Could be, if we knew which side to shoot at," Jack grumbled under his breath. He raised his voice and asked, "You got anything more, Thor, buddy?"

"Yes, O'Neill," Thor replied. "I am adding data as we approach and running analyses. It appears that the planetary installation and the satellite are both Ancient, as you called them, technology, while the ship appears to have much modified Asgard drives and shielding."

"Asgard?" Hailey piped up. She leaned over the diminutive Asgard and obviously did make sense of the readings. "Wow. Sir, this, I think the ship must be the Prometheus!"

"Hailey, if you're shitting us, I'm going tan your ass," Mitchell said.

"I studied the design specs on that ship for a year," Hailey snapped back at him. "Someone's really messed with just about everything, but the hull's the same and the drives... "

"Lt. Hailey is correct," Thor said.

"Sonovabitch," Mitchell exclaimed.

"How do you suppose it got out here?" Quinn asked.

That was certainly the question. If that was the Prometheus, then who was on it? Which side of this fight should they weigh in on? Would the people flying it have any answers about the three missing personnel that had been pirated with the ship?

"Should we interfere?" Thor asked.

"Let's just see how things shake out," Jack said.

Jack couldn't make heads or tails of the holographic displays up in front of Thor and Hailey, but even he could see a big honking spike flare up.

"What was that?"

"The satellite fired a beam weapon at one of the attacking ships," Thor answered.


"Destroyed it."

"Boy, I wouldn't mind us having one of those for Earth," Mitchell said.

"The Prometheus is engaging the second attacking ship," Thor reported. "It is taking fire. It's shields appear to have been improved beyond the original design; they are maintaining."

"Good for them," Mitchell said.

"We are close enough to intercept their communications," Thor said. "They do not appear to be encrypted."

"Well?" Jack said. "You want to let the rest of us hear it?"

" – alvo One, away."

"Their shields are holding."

"Salvo Two, away."

"On target."

They were getting background chatter and several radio channels layered over each other. Jack was a master of picking out the threads and making sense of them.

"Vala, how long can you keep your hive occupied?"

Jack frowned and shook his head. That sounded like Sam Carter. It was too much to hope it was, though. Jack told himself it was wishful thinking.

Another woman replied. "Until we kill it."

"Your shields are degrading."

"Worry about your own shields, Carter. You've got two of my people there."

"Salvo Three, away."

" – useless. Z, I'm putting the primaries back on line – "

"Got through that time!"

Thor's hands passed over his controls and he commented, "They are firing drone weapons identical to those stocked within the Ancient base at the South Pole of Earth. The alien ship appears to have shielding against them, though it is weakening and one has penetrated. However, the damage appears to be superficial."

"Vala, try drawing your target back into our range."

"I am, darling. It isn't like they don't know what you can do to them."

That had to be from the satellite and the ship, Jack figured.

"Hive One just mass launched their darts."

"What the hell? What are they – "

"Sam, check the shield modulators."
This transmission had the heaviest static interference. It had to be coming from the satellite far out toward the edge of the system.

"Holy Hannah – You can't believe what it looks like from in here, Mer."

"Sergeant! Wraith are beaming into the city! How the hell did they get through the shield?"

"Salvo Four, away. God damn it, they figured out a way through. Bates, squads to the chair room, the ZPM chamber and the shield generator."

That didn't sound too good. Jack checked on the rest of SG-1. Hailey was still next to Thor. Teal'c and Quinn were standing in front of the bridge view screen, though they were still too far out for the battle for it to show up as more than pin pricks flashes of light against the darkness. The planet was a brighter spot, but looked no larger. Jack thought of the rule he'd learned as a boy: stars twinkle, planets are a steady reflection. It was kind of bullshit, down in an atmosphere, where a dozen different kinds of interference made everything unsteady, but he'd never forgotten it.

A weak transmission, probably from off a radio headset somewhere in Atlantis, made Jack twitch: "Gamma's gone. The fuckers fed on them."

"Fed?" Mitchell echoed.

" – atch that conduit, it's damaged -- "

"We lost the shield!"

"Vala, do something, get back there."

"Busy here, I can't yet. We only have one chance to set this up."
The woman's voice, cool and unconcerned under pressure and not about to deviate from her plan, must belong to this Vala.

"They're in the ZPM chamber – "

"Salvo Five – "

"Stay on target, damn it! Something's wrong."

" – ose in the Chair? That's not – "

"Vala, what are you doing?!"

Thor blinked his huge eyes and announced, "The Prometheus has crossed just above the ship attacking Atlantis and drawn fire away from the city. In addition, fire from the ship pursuing it has impacted with the first ship. However, the Prometheus' shields are no longer operating. It is retreating to the defense satellite's perimeter."

"That's some crazy ass flying," Mitchell commented in approval.

"Jehan, you can't."

Good God, that had to be Carter. Jack leaned forward as if he could hear better by doing so.

"I have to."

The voice Jack identified as the guy on the satellite began shouting. "What's he doing? You crazy sonovabitch, don't you dare! No, you don't. We're moving the satellite closer. Just hold on – "

"So long, Mer."

"Damn it, damn it. Someone get him out of there."

"Sensors are tracking a gateship on course for the enemy ship," Thor said. "It has one human lifesign aboard and a primitive but no doubt functional nuclear weapon. I surmise that it is invisible to the enemy's sensors due to an engaged cloaking mechanism."

"I've seen the gateship back at Area 51," Mitchell said. "They're personnel carriers. They aren't made for delivering a payload."

"The pilot no doubt intends to detonate the weapon within the gateship once he enters the enemy vessel," Teal'c stated.

"But how's he going to get out – " Quinn started, then froze and shut up.

"Indeed," Teal'c said.

Yeah, shut up, Jonas. Daniel hadn't had any plans for getting out when he saved everyone on Kelowna from a runaway naquadria explosion. Sometimes you did what had to be done and damn the consequences. Whoever that pilot was, he knew what he was doing, and that he wasn't coming back. Jack didn't see why they couldn't do something about that.

"Thor, old buddy," Jack said. "Can you get us close enough to grab that pilot?"

"The Prometheus is attempting a second return maneuver," Thor answered. "I surmise that they intend to retrieve the gateship's pilot."

"But are they going to get there in time?" Mitchell asked.

"No," Hailey reported. "They're still engaged with the second enemy ship. They have their shields up again, but are maintaining a distance that suggests they'll lose them to another close hit." She sucked in a breath. "They just took it. I can't tell how much damage they've taken, but the enemy ship is closing on them. I think they're – "

The bridge flared white as a stab of energy that bloomed across the darkness of space.

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph," Mitchell breathed.

"That was the defense satellite," Hailey blurted. "It moved into firing range and just took out the ship engaged with the Prometheus."

Jack was still blinking afterimages out of his vision.

Static from overwhelmed communications channels kept them from hearing anything more between the satellite, the ship, and Atlantis.

"The Prometheus is accelerating back in-system toward the last enemy ship," Hailey said. "I don't understand. It doesn't appear to be nearly as damaged as a moment ago."

"Mama Bird faked a broken wing and lured the big bad away from her babies and into an ambush," Jack explained. God damn. That woman, whoever she was, had set the enemy up with a gamble Jack had to respect at the same time he decided he did not want to face off against her without a damn good reason.

"I believe you are correct, O'Neill," Teal'c said.

"The gateship has reached the enemy vessel," Thor said. "Do you still wish me to beam out the pilot?"

"Is the Prometheus in range?" Jack asked. "Can we hear what they're saying?"

Hailey took over another part of the console and began sliding the little things that looked like round stones around. Static hissed through the bridge before resolving into scratchy voices again.

" – anyone can hear this. Entering the docking bay now. Detonating in five, – " That had to be pilot. He sounded like a professional. Not letting himself worry about anything but getting the job done. The transmission was for the listeners, not him. He didn't need a count down.


Satellite guy was still yelling at anyone that could hear him. "Get him out of there! Jehan! Five minutes, they can hold out for five – "

"Atlantis' shield is still down." Carter, sounding choked up, wasn't arguing for the pilot to turn back. "Safe journey."


" – no lock, no lock – "
The woman on the Prometheus didn't sound amused any longer. Desperation bled through those two words.


"They are attempting a beam out," Thor replied. "They have not been successful."

"Get him out of there," Jack ordered.

"Jehan!" satellite guy screamed.


"Thor – "

"I am attempting to compensate for distance and interference, O'Neill," Thor replied placidly.

The comm channel filled with white noise. They were close enough to see fire silently rip apart the vast ship hanging above the blue curve of the planet. Thor's liquid black eyes reflected the flames, then he blinked and the pilot from the gateship materialized in front of the view screen.

"Nice job," Jack observed, meaning the destruction of the ship and Thor's snatch job on the man staring at them in shock.

"Who the – " The pilot spotted Teal'c and his expression went from shock to hate too fast for Jack to react. His drew the weapon holstered at his thigh and fired while Jack was still opening his mouth to introduce himself. The shot went wide as as Mitchell and Quinn tackled the pilot, but Teal'c went down. The pilot fought like a wild animal in a trap and Quinn went flying, while Mitchell cursed and started pulling out his Sodan tricks.

Jack took the zat he carried at the small of his back out and used it as soon as the two men parted enough he wouldn't knock out Mitchell too.

"Teal'c, you okay?" he called and glanced over.

Teal'c lifted a bloody hand from his shoulder. "I am not substantially harmed," he answered.

"Not exactly the thanks I was expecting," Jack said and he walked over and stared down at the unconscious pilot. Messy dark hair, needed a shave, lean, maybe in his thirties, though it was hard to tell in the dim blue light the Asgard favored on their ships. Jack shook himself. The guy looked almost familiar, but he couldn't pin it down. He knew he'd never met him.

Jack pursed his lips.

"Thor, can you lock him up for us until we get a better idea of why he wants to kill us?"

"If you will step back, O'Neill, I will erect a force field around the prisoner that will allow you to speak to him and hear his answers," Thor said.

Jack stepped back.

"I believe his intention was to kill me," Teal'c said. He was on his feet and ignoring the burn across his shoulder. Junior had to be working over time to earn his spot in Teal'c's pouch. "If he had hostile intentions toward all of us, he would have shot Jonas Quinn and Colonel Mitchell before they disarmed him."

"Do you know him?" Jack asked Teal'c.

Teal'c gave him a look that said he would have mentioned it if he did. Jack shrugged.

"Thor," he said, "I think it's time we gave Atlantis a hello and let 'em know we're here." He paused. "Maybe we'll just keep quiet about having our friend here on board for now. Just until we get the lay of the land."

"I can do that," Hailey said. She holstered the sidearm she'd drawn during the fight. "It might take a second. The EMP from the explosion is still dissipating; there's a lot of interference."

"I believe it is germane to mention that the Ancient defense satellite is continuing to maneuver," Thor said, "and will be within firing range of the planet and the Jacob Carter in two minutes forty-three seconds. The Prometheus is on course to assume orbit in fourteen minutes fifty-three seconds at its current speed."

"Okay," Jack said.

"Ready, sir," Hailey told him.

"While the Jacob Carter is not in substantial danger from the Prometheus or the drone weapons fired from Atlantis," Thor went on, "our shields cannot withstand the satellite's weaponry if it is turned on us."

"Well," Jack said. "I don't think Sam's going to have them shoot the ship named after her dad. Lieutenant, transmit this." He waited until she nodded and began, "Atlantis, this is General Jack O'Neill aboard the Asgard ship Jacob Carter... "


Thor beamed Jack and SG-1 down right in front of the city's stargate.

Jack looked around surreptitiously. He had to admit the place was impressive and even sort of pretty with the light coming through those stained glass windows, fancy stairway, and the high ceilings. The guns aimed at him and the alien heads still bleeding at the necks hung up by their hair... not so much. SG-1 ostentatiously kept their hands away from their own weapons and waited for someone in charge to notice them.

The bright blond of Carter's head caught Jack's eye a second later and he relaxed minutely.

She came down the stairs at a fast clip, tablet computer in one hand, flanked by a marine sergeant Jack recognized from the files and a tower-tall guy with long gray hair who had to be a local. The local was armed with an expedition P90 and sidearm.

"General," Carter greeted him.

Jack held open his arms for a hug. Carter ignored him in favor of the tablet, wrote something onto it and handed it to the gray-haired man. "Get that to Eldon and Nancy." Still ignoring Jack, she switched her attention to the marine. "Sergeant, I want a security sweep of the city." Her gaze flickered to Jack and SG-1. "Make sure there are no more Wraith hiding anywhere. They shouldn't have had time to go into hibernation, so take Gorshenko with you to pick out any lifesigns."

"Yes, ma'am." The marine didn't salute, but he braced to attention for a second, then gestured two of the armed guards at the doorways leading from the gate room to take his place at Carter's back.

Carter held up her hand to Jack when he opened his mouth. She tapped the radio headset she wore and spoke into the mike. "Mike, put me on city wide, then open a comm to McKay." She straightened her shoulders.

Jack frowned and tried to remember anyone on the expedition roster named McKay. Maybe he'd misheard and that was some local Pegasus name. A quick glance toward SG-1 told him none of them except Teal'c had marked it. Of course, none of them had been on the team with the cranky Canadian.

"Citizens of Atlantis, we have successfully repulsed the Wraith attack with the loss of one jumper and moderate damage to Revenge. All three hive ships have been destroyed. Patrols will be checking the city for intruders. Casualties... " Carter stopped and took a deep breath. "Their names will be posted to the server.

"As those of you with access to the sensor stream are already be aware, we also have an Asgard ship in orbit presently and representatives of the SGC have beamed down. Please continue with your assigned duties and remain within secured areas until such time as we know more. Thank you all. Carter out."

"Revenge?" Jack asked. "I'm going to assume that's Prometheus under another name. I could really use an explanation of what's going on here."

"Later," Carter said.

"Comm from the satellite," someone above called. "Dr. McKay."

Carter raised her voice and said, "Put him on speaker."

The speakers crackled with static for an instant before a familiar and impossible voice sounded through the gate room.

"Sam, tell me Jehan got out."

Jack felt his mouth drop open. That was McKay. How the hell...? Had he just tumbled down the rabbit hole or what? First the Prometheus and now McKay? His guts clenched. Daniel? Could Daniel and Frasier be out here too? And the engineer, what's her name, Nova? Novak.

The white flash of an Asgard transport made him blink. A dark-haired woman resolved out of the glare. She took one look at SG-1 and pulled a zat that she immediately aimed at Teal'c. Second time in a row. At least she didn't fire. He was getting the feeling Teal'c was right; these people didn't like Jaffa.

"Sam! Answer me! Tell me someone got him out of there!"

Carter looked at the newcomer. "Vala, put the zat away. They're... friends."

Vala gave all five of them a jaundiced look, but didn't argue. A bruise was rising on her jaw and blood had scabbed over a cut on her brow. A whiff of burnt plastic and sweat came off her as she moved.

"Vala!" McKay's voice had dropped.

Vala met Carter's gaze and grimly shook her head.

"Mer," Carter said.

"No! No!" McKay screamed into the radio. Something crashed wherever he was.

Another voice, British accent soft, took over.

"This is Grodin. Dr. McKay... Shit. Dr. McKay is targeting the Asgard ship – "

"Stop him," Carter ordered.

"For now," Vala added, glaring at Jack and the others.

Jack decided he didn't like her.

Also, he hoped this Grodin guy really did keep McKay from blowing up Thor's ship.

"They hung around and watched!"
McKay shouted. "They could have helped, they could have made the difference. Jehan didn't have to blow himself up."

Vala's eyes narrowed as she turned to Carter and asked, "Is that true?"

Carter gave Jack a measuring look. "I don't know." Which wasn't exactly the ringing endorsement Jack might have hoped for, even if the fact was they could have stepped in sooner.

"Didn't know which side was wearing the white hats," Jack said.

Vala didn't appear appeased. Maybe it was time to mention they'd – okay, Thor, but he only did it because Jack asked so nicely – rescued the trigger-happy kamikaze everyone seemed so broken up over.

Jack opened his mouth but forgot what he'd been about to say as Daniel barreled into him. It was either the most enthusiastic hug Jack had ever experienced or an attempt to squeeze all the oxygen out of his lungs. He staggered and then hugged Daniel back, squeaking a little as he laughed softly, "Danny, Jesus, Daniel, damn it, let go, I gotta breathe."

"Jack!" Daniel exclaimed. "How did you get here?"

"Thor, of course."

"Janet's treating some of the wounded," Daniel blurted. "A conduit from the ZPM room blew up."

"So, you and Janet," Jack said. "What about – "

"Lindsay's on the Revenge." Daniel paused and looked around, frowning. "Hey, where'd Vala go?"

Sam set her hand on Daniel's shoulder.

"Back to the ship to get Mer," she said. "Jehan... " Sam swallowed. "They couldn't pull Jehan out of the jumper before the nuke went off."

Jack watched Daniel's shoulders slump in reaction.

"About that," he said.


Lindsay was on the bridge when Vala materialized. Vala headed straight for the helm, but asked, "Sublights?"

"Hot," Lindsay replied without looking up from her work. Sweat-soaked hair clung to her skull and she still wore the grease and smoke stained coverall she'd been in at the beginning of the engagement with the Wraith. "Z's making sure the repairs are good."

Vala paused.

"And you?"

"Recalibrating the shields to make sure we don't take on any unexpected passengers," Lindsay said. She nodded toward the view screen that showed a barbell-shaped ship. "That's an Asgard ship."

Vala suppressed a snarl at the reminder. Asgard weapons would punch right through Goa'uld shields. That's why the snakes treaded carefully when it came to crossing the Gray Ones. Revenge had Asgard shields, though. They'd tuned them to keep the Wraith off, however.

"Good thinking," Vala said. She let her hand rest on the back of Lindsay's neck for a moment, savoring the contact and hoping it would be enough to help Lindsay keep it together. They were spread so damn thin; Janet and Daniel had already officially left the crew for Atlantis, while Jehan and Miko had stayed in the city for the battle because they both had the ATA gene and Mer had gone to the satellite since he understood it best. Everyone still aboard Revenge was busy with their own duties; no one would have had any time to offer anyone else any comfort yet.

Lindsay's skin was moist and hot; the muscles beneath were taut. She paused a breath and relaxed slightly under Vala's touch, before bending closer to her work and continuing.

Vala let go and finished the walk to the helm. She used a quick and dirty plot to take them out and poured on the speed to get them to the satellite. Once Revenge was moving, she cut the comm feed. She didn't want to talk or listen to anyone or think about the crawling sensation under her skin that came from the prim'ta in the Jaffa's gut. She'd wanted to cut it out of him and kill it right there in front of the chappa'ai. The only thing that had stopped her had been the gold tattoo on the Jaffa's forehead; Mer had told her about the shol'va who defected from Apophis to fight beside the Tau'ri.

Jehan had told her about the First Prime who chose him before Apophis gave him to Ba'al.

She would leave it to Mer to decide what Teal'c of Chulak would pay for that.


Zelenka agreed to take over aboard the satellite and keep it at ready. Lindsay transported Mer and Grodin off after beaming him over.

Grodin looked shell-shocked, but it was Mer Vala watched. He looked gutted as he walked past her.

Vala followed him out, calling back quietly, "Sig, take us back to Atlantis."

Mer made his way to the cabin he shared with Jehan without speaking or objecting when Vala came inside with him. He hunched over when she wrapped her arms around him, slow shudders wracking his broad body, still soundless. Vala rested her cheek against Mer's shoulder and squeezed her eyes shut. Someone better at being human would have had words, but she was as wordless as Mer. Holding on was all she knew how to offer.

She let go when Mer stiffened and shrugged.

"Asgard ship," he said roughly.


"Who was on it?"

"I didn't see any Gray Ones," Vala answered. "Four humans. One Jaffa."

"What mark?" Mer demanded softly.

"A First Prime with the mark of Apophis."

"SG-1," Mer stated. He turned and his face was terrible, set with fury. "If Teal'c was there, then O'Neill's there too."

She didn't know or care, but Mer did.

"Take us back," Mer demanded.

"We're already on course."

He looked around the cabin, flinched, and bolted for the door. Too many reminders of who they'd lost. Vala cursed herself. She should have dragged Mer back to her cabin instead.

He was waiting out in the corridor. "I'm going to check the drives," he said. "Tell me when we get there," he added in low voice. "I have something to settle with the other half of SG-1."

Vala leaned against the wall after he walked away. She blinked until her eyes stopped burning, then shoved herself away and headed for the infirmary. They'd faked most of the damage that lured the hive into chasing them into the satellite ambush, but the ship wasn't unscathed, and the Tau'ri volunteers augmenting the crew had taken casualties. She figured the wounded deserved an update and Carter would want a list of who they'd lost.

She'd have it and shove it in that gray-haired bastard's face when they reached Atlantis. Jehan wouldn't want to be on the list, but Vala meant this O'Neill to know his cowardice had cost Tau'ri lives besides letting Jehan kill himself. She knew what that Asgard ship could have done. Atlantis had won without them, but the difference they could have made...


"So," Jack said, "you don't think we've got any chance of getting the Prometheus back?"

He really hadn't expected a yes, but he hadn't expected Sam – Daniel, maybe, because he was a soft touch – to look like he was shit under their shoe either. As far as he understood, this guy was a pirate who had kidnapped Daniel, Janet, and Novak. He was still getting the details straight in his head and had a good idea there was a whole lot no one was telling him, but it didn't look like many people in Atlantis wanted to go back to Earth. They did want to keep a ship around that could get them there or somewhere if things went to shit and they had to bug out again and that translated to the Revenge sticking around. No one thought the three ships they'd taken out were all that the Wraith were going to throw at them.

Space vampires that sucked the life out of people were the pits as far as Jack was concerned.

Sam had hustled SG-1 and several of her people into a conference room and sat them down at a funky open table. A big window onto a balcony showcased a gorgeous sunset over the ocean horizon. Jack didn't miss how security set up at the doors to watch his people. It looked like a forty-sixty mix of marines and locals; all of them worn down to a knife sharp edge.

So far the locals – Halling was the tall guy and Kanaan was the younger one, both of them were Athosians – Jack wasn't sure he'd got that story straight, something about abandoning Atlantis and the Athosians taking them in, then all of them getting chased off that planet – weren't saying much, but they didn't seem exactly overwhelmed by SG-1. Jack was used to making more of an impression.

"Not even in exchange for this guy Jehan, uh – "

"Jehan abd-Ba'al," Daniel said. He flicked a look Teal'c's way but didn't offer an explanation for the way the guy had tried to kill Teal'c. His eyes came back to Jack and he leaned forward. "Vala and Mer will come after you if you don't hand him over. Jack – Jehan and Vala took the Prometheus by themselves to rescue Mer – "

"Yeah, I'm having a hard time with this Mer thing," Jack interrupted. "It's McKay, right? Why's he calling himself Meredith?" He gave the name a mocking lilt.

"Because it's my name," came avoice from the door.

Jack twisted around and stared. It was McKay, with the Mal Doran woman and three heavily armed pirates behind her. The guy with the dreadlocks was taller than Teal'c. The guy with the facial scars and the staff weapon was broader. The little bitty woman looked like she could and would break both of them in two with the same cool expression on her face. Mal Doran had a gun out.

Jack got up slowly and tried a smile. "McKay, it's good – "

McKay strode in, cocked his fist, and slugged Jack hard enough he'd have hit the deck with his ass if Mitchell hadn't caught him.

"Ow," Jack mumbled and rubbed at his jaw. He supposed he deserved that, at least in McKay's eyes.

"You sonovabitch," McKay told him.

"Nice to see you too."

All his best smart ass remarks were falling flat, so Jack shouldn't have been surprised that McKay didn't respond with more than a dead-eyed look in his direction. He directed his attention to Sam instead and said, "I'll check over the repairs on the main conduit that blew."

The Mal Doran woman hadn't put away her gun, Jack noticed when she spoke up. "We'll leave afterward."

Daniel kept opening and closing his mouth and darting looks at Jack, obviously wanting him to speak up, but Jack was more interested in getting a better idea of the relationship between the pirates and Atlantis. He figured his news could keep a little longer. Jehan wasn't going anywhere while Thor had him behind that force field.

"We still need someone with the ATA," Sam said.

McKay gestured contemptuously at Jack. "You've got him and the Asgard."

"What about taking people back to Earth?"

"Like Meredith said, let the Gray Ones do it," Mal Doran said.

"Damn it, Jack," Daniel snapped. He got to his feet and headed for McKay. "Tell them."

"Tell them what?" McKay asked. He was ignoring Jack and the others now; it looked like exhaustion had trumped rage for the moment.

"Jehan – "

"We snagged your guy before the nuke went off," Jack said before Daniel could spill the news.

McKay stared at him.

"Then where is he?" Mal Doran demanded, hard and angry.

"Jehan abd-Ba'al is aboard the Jacob Carter," Teal'c said.

"Yeah," Jack added. "We had to lock him up after he tried to kill Teal'c."

"Of course he tried to kill Teal'c," McKay snapped. "The only surprising thing is he missed – "

"Not quite," Mitchell piped up.

McKay glared at him and said, "I don't know who you are."

"Colonel Cameron Mitchell – "

"Or care," McKay added.

"Til," Mal Doran said.

Jack had never liked having a staff weapon pointed at him. He disliked it more when the guy holding it armed it and the head split into four as it readied to fire. Having it aimed at his people was worse.

"Look, 'Captain' Mal Doran," Jack snapped, "I don't think you get it. You aren't giving the orders here and if you think you can threaten – "

"General O'Neill," Sam interrupted.

"What?" he snapped.

"You're not giving the orders here, either," Sam told him.

"Carter – "

"O'Neill," Teal interrupted him. Teal'c didn't interrupt someone often. Jack shut up. "Do not reduce this to a hostage situation. We will not win."

Jack thought about the big ass defense satellite with its killer weapon sitting out there. Thor thought it could take out his ship. Maybe these people thought he was keeping their man on the ship to keep them from using it. He got the idea they would anyway. Not like the guy hadn't been willing to suicide for his mission after all. Damn it, it pissed him off royally that a rescue mission was turning into a hostile confrontation faster than he could say 'turning to shit' because he'd saved someone. He wasn't the god damned bad guy here; they were the pirates.

Mal Doran eyed Teal'c and said, "Listen to the Jaffa."

Reluctantly, Jack activated the funny communicator stone Thor had given him before they beamed down. "Thor, d'you hear me up there?"

"I am receiving your communication, O'Neill," Thor replied so that everyone in the conference room heard. Jack didn't have a clue how the Asgard made that work.

"How's our guest?"

"Conscious and in good health, though perturbed by his continued imprisonment. I have informed him of the circumstances leading to our removing him from the gateship and the Wraith hive and that the Prometheus, the satellite, and Atlantis have all survived intact. In return he has agreed to refrain from violent actions for the moment."


"Jack," Daniel said, in that long-suffering way Jack had forgotten that he really hated.

"Oh, fine," he said. "Thor, you want to send him back down here?"


The Asgard didn't give him any warning. Jehan staggered as the transport beam released him in the middle of the Atlantis control tower conference room. He sucked in a deep breath of air that smelled like the sea and ozone and relaxed as he saw Mer and Vala, along with Ronon, Til and Teyla. He was even happy to see Carter, Daniel, and the Athosians.

Mer shouldered past the guy with the general's stars.

Jehan folded his arms, because he didn't want anyone to see how his hands wanted to tremble. All he could see was Mer's face, that looked like someone had knifed him, and his eyes that were zeroed in on Jehan like a targeting laser, and all he could think was that he hadn't thought he'd see Mer again.

Or Vala.

He must have lost a second just staring and thinking, because Mer was right there, grabbing Jehan's shoulders and shaking him.

"Bastard," Mer muttered and folded Jehan into a hug.

Slowly, feeling uncertain because he didn't do displays in public, Jehan squirmed his folded arms free and brought them around Mer's back. Mer had his face buried against Jehan's neck, but Jehan could see over his shoulder.

Vala was laughing at him.

He relaxed against Mer until Mer pulled away just enough to growl at him, "Don't you ever do that again."

Jehan tipped his head down and Mer rested his forehead against his.



  • Summary: Jack O'Neill doesn't know what to make of the pirates allied with Atlantis. Shouldn't everyone be happier to see him?
  • Fandom: Stargate Atlantis/SG-1
  • Rating: Mature
  • Warnings: none
  • Author Notes: for dragos, a coda fic for gypsies, tramps, and thieves
  • Date: 3.28.10
  • Length: 5813 words
  • Genre: m/m, m/f, f/f
  • Category: Action/Adventure, Drama, Space Opera, Crossover, AU
  • Cast: Jack O'Neill, Jehan abd-Ba'al, Sam Carter, Thor, Vala Mal Doran, Meredith McKay, Cameron Mitchell, Teal'c
  • Betas: dossier, probably, if I remembered to send it to her.
  • Disclaimer: Not for profit. Transformative work written for private entertainment.

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