The Illusion of Justice
Jack still wasn't quite sure how he'd managed to get himself into this situation.
Usually he could smell a trap from miles away, but this time, it had clamped
on his foot before he even knew it was there. Did President Hayes and Hammond
hate him that much? Didn't they realize how completely unsuited he was to
the back-slapping and ass-kissing of Pentagon Politics? Apparently not,
since Hayes had said that Jack was perfect for it. Clearly his only options
had been accepting the promotion or retirement, and given the president's
enthusiasm, Jack hadn't been certain that even retirement would have worked.
Hayes could be charming and friendly, but he was also a pit bull when he
wanted something. And he wanted Jack in Washington.
So now Jack was packing his office for the dreaded transfer to the Pentagon.
Not that there was much to pack. Unlike Hammond, his butt had warmed this
chair for barely a year. But the changeover wasn't due for another week,
so he was still The Man.
Preoccupied with his thoughts, Jack was not really paying attention to what
he was doing. Half of his brain was focused on the absurdity of him trying
to make politicians understand the dangers of space, while the other half
was trying to squish his old, exciting life into a square box. The rest
of him was gathering the file folders for his upcoming briefing. Unfortunately
the handle of his nine-iron had other ideas.
Out in the briefing room, where SG-13 was waiting for him, they heard a
"General?" Dixon shouted in concern, and ran to the door. His eyes widened,
he said a word he'd never say in front of his kids, and he shouted for a
O'Neill was lying in a heap next to his desk, his silvering hair showing
the red starkly.
* ~ * ~ *
"Wake up, Jack."
The voice sounded familiar, so Jack decided he ought to open his eyes. But
when he did, his surroundings made him sit up immediately, alert and tense.
Because he was not where he should be.
Instead he was sitting in a restaurant booth, upholstered in a truly despicable
shade of olive, and the table in front of him was the sort of faux-wood
plastic popular in the 70's. He looked up to see a familiar face sitting
across from him.
"Jake?" he asked in disbelief. The man certainly looked like Jacob Carter,
right down to the brown Tok'ra uniform he was wearing. But the former general
couldn't be here because -- well, because there was no here for one
thing, and Jacob was dead, for another. "Aren't you dead?" he asked, feeling
Carter just smiled a little. "Some might think so. But we're not here because
Jack got that funny, bad feeling in his stomach, and he knew what Jacob
was saying. "I'm dead, aren't I?"
"Well, no," Carter corrected him. "But your body is currently comatose in
the infirmary from a concussion and the question is whether you will wake
So, not dead. But since this was the late Jacob Carter speaking to him,
he was likely dreaming or hallucinating. Or, given his track record, it
was even more likely that some advanced race was playing with his mind again.
Maybe there was something to be said for going to the Pentagon, after all.
He was getting too old for this crap.
Jack bent his head and scrubbed his hands through his hair. It didn't feel
different from any other time, which only said that the simulation was pretty
good. He looked up at Jacob and asked, "What happened? Last thing I remember,
I was in my office getting ready for a briefing with Dixon..."
Carter chuckled slightly. "Now you know the reason I don't play golf. Those
clubs are hazardous to your health."
Jack stared at him. He'd gotten beaned in the head by his own club? "You're
"Nope. And it gets better," Jacob warned.
Rolling his eyes, Jack let out an aggrieved sigh and folded his arms. "All
right. Give me the rest. You are of the glowing jellyfish people now, I
Jacob snorted with a laugh. "Only you, Jack, would sit in a place full of
Ascendants and call them that." He took a sip from the coffee cup in front
of him and his face grew more serious as he leaned forward. "I'm afraid
the rest isn't funny. There's been, shall we say, a challenge. A certain
very powerful member of the Others has demanded that you stand iudaca,
a form of trial, in order to win the choice of your destiny."
At this point in his Stargate career, Jack couldn't even be bothered to
get mad. For a people who claimed not to interfere, the ascended really
did poke around in mortal affairs a lot. He settled for rolling his eyes
again. "Trial for what?" he asked.
Carter's mouth was tight as though he could scarcely get out the words.
"Genocide of the Goa'uld."
Jack couldn't have heard him correctly. He blinked and stared at Jacob,
and finally spoke very slowly, with no more sarcasm than necessary, "I'm
sorry -- I thought I heard you say the word 'genocide' and the Goa'uld in
the same sentence. I must have missed something, like how killing the Goa'uld
was a bad thing."
Despite his intention, his voice rose on the last few words. Jacob rose
partly out of his chair, leaning over the table with his hand outstretched.
"Jack!" he exclaimed loudly and then abruptly lowered his voice to a hiss.
"Hush. This is serious."
"I am serious," Jack protested, nevertheless quieting. He felt rather
ridiculous actually, since as far as he could tell, no one had even looked
up from their newspapers at his outburst.
Jacob sat back down, but was still leaning forward, intensely meeting his
eyes. "No, you're not," he corrected. "Jack, you live or die by this trial,
you have to understand that. This is not for show, and it's most definitely
not a game."
"I'm certainly not having any fun," Jack muttered. He rubbed at his forehead,
wondering if he was feeling a phantom pain from getting whacked on the head
or this situation was just that absurd.
But when Jacob didn't say anything for a long moment, Jack finally heaved
a sigh. "Okay, fine. I'll play." He looked up and fixed Jacob with a glare.
"Since it seems like I don't have any choice."
Jacob just returned it, level and unintimidated. "Hey, don't shoot the messenger.
You almost didn't get one at all."
Waving one hand in a sort of apology, Jack said, "Okay. So what the hell
is this trial? Is it like the Tollan triad thing?"
Jacob gave a little sympathetic smile and folded his hands back around his
cup. "Sort of. But more like one of our regular trials. Each side has representation.
There's a jury, and also a judge."
"A glowing jellyfish judge?" Jack asked, imagining all the ways this could
go horribly wrong. Annoying, stupid, arrogant, pretentious, interfering
"No. But they will be watching," Jacob interrupted his inner rant, catching
Jack by surprise.
Jack raised his eyebrows. "Then who? Lya? Thor? All right, c'mon, tell me
it's Thor -- " he prompted eagerly.
Carter laughed. "No. The judge isn't Thor. The Asgard and Nox aren't involved
Jacob smiled. "It's a surprise."
"I hate surprises. Told you that, time and time again, you know."
"You'll like this one," Jacob promised, and his smile shifted to something
darker and more ominous. "It'll be the last good one we get for awhile."
"Damn Tok'ra," Jack muttered, and with that, realized something and looked
up sharply, "Haven't heard from Selmak yet."
"No. And you won't." Jacob drained his coffee cup and set it down with a
thump, to end to the discussion. "Come on. Let's get this show on the road,
Jack. Your brain's not going to heal up on its own."
Jack grimaced at the pointed reminder. But he made a mental note to ask
Jacob about Selmak at some point. Something was wrong there and he intended
to find out what. He reluctantly followed Jacob toward the diner's door.
When the Tok'ra pushed the swinging doors open, a blinding flash of white
light washed over his eyes.
When he could see again, they were somewhere else. Jack was tempted to laugh.
It really was a courtroom. It looked almost exactly like the room in Colorado
Springs where he had spent four excruciating hours of sheer boredom being
not selected for jury duty two years ago. Same wooden panels, same limp
flags, same audience seating area separated from the court itself by a short
wooden railing. The judge's box was straight ahead, raised up a few steps,
but the chair was empty. In fact, all the chairs were vacant. There was
no one in the whole room.
To the left side was the witness stand, and the chairs for the jury were
along the wall. Directly in front of the judge were two rectangular tables,
one for the prosecution and one for the defense.
Jacob held open the flimsy wooden gate -- the actual attorney's bar in a
real courtroom -- and allowed Jack to pass inside.
"So, Jake, what's your position in all this?" Jack wandered idly up to the
defense table, but didn't sit down. "You're my defense lawyer?"
"No," Carter shook his head once. "I'm the bailiff."
"What?" Jack asked, confused. The bailiff? The bailiff was usually the guy
who brought in the prisoner, all right, but he wasn't usually the prisoner's
Jacob explained, "This was the only way I could come get you beforehand
and try to explain at least a little what this is about. So try to behave
yourself, Jack. If you get in trouble, I get in trouble, and I've got enough."
Before Jack could ask him to elaborate, Jacob looked around as if he heard
something, then said, "They're coming."
Jack turned around as the door opened. He didn't quite gape like a fish,
but he realized he was staring, as Janet Frasier smiled at him, and Charlie
Kawalsky shook his head with a grin. "Hey, Jack. Long time no see."
"Janet? Charlie? Is it really you?" he asked, confused and wary. Because
while it was good to see them, he'd been pretty sure that neither had Ascended.
Hell, Charlie had died before they'd even known there was such a thing as
Glowy People, and he doubted that Oma'd been taking vacations from Kheb
to visit Earth back in the day.
Janet came close and put her hand on his arm. Her touch felt real. Her smile
looked just a touch mischievous and she tilted her head back to meet his
eyes. "We are the Janet and Charlie you knew. Whether we're real or only
in your mind, I can't tell you."
"Can't or won't?" he challenged.
"Can't," she answered. "Because I don't know."
"I feel like me," Charlie declared with a shrug. The familiar casual attitude
gave Jack a pang and he thought that whether it was "really" Charlie or
not, wasn't important. Charlie and Janet were here, somehow, and that was
the important part.
"So you're my crack defense team?" Jack asked.
"Who else?" Janet replied. "We both know the evil of the Goa'uld and we
"And we weren't gonna let you do it alone," Charlie added. He pulled out
a chair for Janet and when Jack stood back to give Charlie room to pull
out the next chair for Jack, Charlie just snorted and moved to the third
chair to claim for himself.
Jack sat down between his two friends. He was about to ask how long they'd
have to wait for something to happen, when there was a flash of light to
his left. He turned quickly, to find a man he didn't know standing behind
the prosecutor's sole chair. He was wearing a suit over his bulky frame
and waist gone to fat that made him look even bigger than he was. Between
his thinning grey hair and round, cheerful face, he looked like a public
servant who spent a lot of time behind a desk.
Jack leaned closer to Janet and asked in a murmur, "Who's that?"
She tensed and didn't take her eyes from the other. "He's called Jim."
"Jim ..." Jack gestured for her to keep going and finish the name, but she
said nothing more, only watched Jim.
Jim turned with a smile toward the defense table, and Jack immediately felt
a cold prickle against the back of his neck. The smile was bright, almost
sunny, but... something ... wasn't quite right.
"Jack O'Neill," he greeted jovially, "good to meet you at last. I've heard
so much about you. Pity about your head and all."
Jack eyed him, made wary by the friendliness. "Right. Thanks. Aren't you,
y'know, on the other side?" he asked, waving toward the other table.
"It's just my job," Jim said with an expansive shrug. "No hard feelings,
Behind Jack, Charlie muttered in as hostile a tone Jack had ever heard from
his friend, "Sure. 'Jim.'"
Looking into Jim's eyes, Jack felt that prickle turn into a full blown case
of the creeps. The eyes were black as empty space, and as cold. Evil. And
suddenly he knew who "Jim" had to be and who had wanted this stupid trial
in the first place.
Jack sat back abruptly in his chair, eyes widening as his heart leaped for
the ceiling. "Anubis!"
Jim's smile changed to something more feral and gloating. It was chilling
to see the affable mask of "Jim" fall away and reveal the malice beneath.
"Very good, Jack."
"But you're supposed to be fighting Oma," Jack protested. "That's what Daniel
Anubis laughed. "Ah, dear little Oma... How much power do you really think
I need to spare for this little farce, O'Neill? By the rules the Others
themselves set up, you can't win. So enjoy yourself, I certainly will."
He chuckled again and addressed the empty courtroom, raising his left hand
high. "I call the jury to attend."
He snapped his fingers. More lights flashed, as the jury arrived and took
up their seats.
Jack watched them arrive, and felt his heart sink down somewhere past his
feet. This certainly wasn't a pleasant surprise.
His jury was largely made up of people who had no reason to feel
even slightly positive toward him. There was Alar from Euronda, Reese the
Replicator girl, Fifth, two Unas, the really condescending guy from Tollana,
and the creepy guy from the Aschen world. There was also one of the bug-like
Reetou, which was so freaky to look at Jack wished it would've stayed invisible.
The last one in the far chair was one of the weird aliens who had nearly
taken over the SGC.
"How can they do this?" Jack pulled the near shoulders of his supposed defense
team together into a huddle, and spoke in a loud whisper, "I mean, all of
them hate me, and hell, I killed most of them. The Tollan is the
only one who might even side with me. How fair is that?"
"Fair? Who said this was supposed to be fair?" Charlie retorted with a snort,
and then, after Janet glared at him, he got serious and apologetic, "Sorry.
There was only so much we could do under the rules."
Janet added in a whisper. "You're right; they don't like you very much.
But that doesn't matter."
"Doesn't matter --?" he burst out incredulously, and she hushed him.
"No, it doesn't," she insisted. "Listen. We only need to sway a majority.
The issue is whether you must answer for the deaths of ... " she made a
face and imitated Teal'c, "'the false gods." Take another look at the jury,
Jack. How many of them are friends with the Goa'uld either?"
He looked again and thought about it. The Tollan wasn't going to be sympathetic
to the Goa'uld, was he, not after Tollana was destroyed by Tanith. The Reetou
were the Goa'uld's enemy even more than humans'. The Unas had been hosts
to the Goa'uld, long before humans came on the scene. And the replicators
had been, in the end, destroyed by Anubis, not by humans.
The alien mimic invaders had been defeated, but the SGC had never discovered
where they came from and nor had the aliens tried again. Besides, they were
alien aliens -- could never know what they thought anyway. That one was
definitely a wildcard.
That left the Eurondan and the Aschen, who were both so convinced of their
own superiority they'd accept genocide without blinking. They shouldn't
have a problem with his actions against the Goa'uld, at least not from a
moral standpoint. But his actions against them meant he probably couldn't
expect a lot of love from them, no matter what he said here. But if he only
needed a majority, they didn't matter.
Jacob took steps forward and stiffened, nearly to attention, "Rise. The
Beside him Charlie and Janet immediately stood up, and Jack followed their
lead, watching the large chair for the judge curiously. He wondered who
it was going to be. Someone dead or Ascended, it seemed. Maybe Shifu? Or
Skaara. Skaara would be cool. Or Skaara's dad.
Even with his eyes on the chair, he didn't see the change. There was a flash
and when it was gone, someone was sitting there.
Jack took a step backward in pure shock. The judge was himself. Jack O'Neill.
The same guy who looked at him in the mirror every morning. Except that
Jack had never worn black judge's robes.
Judge Jack glanced at him and his smile was really a smirk, enjoying Jack's
confusion. "This iudiaca. iudicaca," he corrected himself,
wrongly, and smirked again at Anubis' irritation, "will start now. You can
all sit down." He waved a hand vaguely toward the tables, and the three
defense team members took their seats again. Anubis didn't.
Jack leaned into Janet's shoulder again and whispered, "Me? Can't be. What's
"It's not you," she answered, then frowned, "Well, I guess it is. Mostly.
He's the Harlan clone."
"Oh," Jack leaned back, now getting it. He'd been there when his robot double
had died in that mess with the robot team and Cronus. It had been extremely
unsettling to watch the life drain out of his own eyes.
The robot Jack had all of Jack's knowledge up until the point of his creation,
so in that sense he was Jack. Of course if this whole thing was in his head,
then they were all Jack, but this one would be the real, inside Jack.
And that was probably not a good thing, since innermost Jack was neither
forgiving nor innocent.
There was silence in the courtroom and the judge glanced at Anubis, and
raised his eyebrows. "Well? This is your show, Anubis, you wanna get going?"
Anubis' lip curled and he glared hatefully at Judge Jack, before getting
back to his feet. He said, with enviable smoothness, "As you wish, iuda.
The prosecution calls the System Lord Ra."
Jack leaned forward at that, curious in spite of himself. Ra had, after
all, started this whole adventure. He'd always felt just a teeny bit sorry
for some of the kids on the later teams, who'd only gotten to see losers
like Moloc and Mot, not the more impressive and actually frightening snakeheads.
The usual flash of light and Ra arrived, sitting grandly in the small wooden
chair of the witness box. He was in the same host, the pretty young man
with the long, black hair and black-lined eyes. His formal looking outfit,
complete with a golden cloak or robe across his shoulders, had a wide gold
and red pectoral in the shape of a flying bird across his bare chest.
"I am Amun-Ra," he stated in that deceptively soft but still Goa'uldish
voice of his. "Lord of the sun and the waters, the wind and the sand, father
of the gods, and --"
"Yes, we know who you are," Anubis interrupted. "A Goa'uld system lord."
But Ra didn't seem to take offense. He just stopped and gave a very small
smile, as if pleased that he'd irritated Anubis. Jack remembered that Ra
had been one of those who'd forced Anubis into exile long ago.
Jack was amused. Not even in the afterlife did the old Goa'uld rivalries
"Are you acquainted with the accused, Jack O'Neill of the Tau'ri?" Anubis
Ra's gaze seemed to slide over to him languidly, and when he was looking
at Jack, it was with the mildly annoyed expression of seeing gum on the
bottom of his shoe. "Of course. He came to Abydos, one of my worlds, several
years ago. He raised a rebellion against me, inspired my workers to give
their lives in a futile bid for independence, and destroyed my ha'tak with
a nuclear weapon. It was only by my own foresight that the people of Abydos
were not instantly killed by the explosion."
"You were fleeing, you mean," Charlie interrupted scornfully.
"Kawalsky," Judge Jack warned, "You'll get your chance. Quiet."
Anubis ignored the exchange. "And you?"
Ra lifted his chin and now his gaze wasn't mild at all, as he nailed Jack
with it. Oh yes, Ra was not happy with him. "He killed me."
"Were you the only Goa'uld killed by O'Neill or those under his command?"
"No, I was not."
"Objection!" Janet stood, and slapped her hand on the table. "Ra was already
dead before any of these ... incidents took place. How is he supposed to
speak about incidents he took no part in?"
Anubis turned to face the judge. "In the same way that Doctor Frasier and
anyone else on this plane of existence can know of events that occur in
the mortal plane: by observation. Ra is prepared to speak of the murders
of his children and other Goa'uld as a witness to those events. This will
save the court time and effort in procuring each individual Goa'uld victim."
Janet opened her mouth to protest the characterization of the Goa'uld as
victims, but shut it again when Judge O'Neill lifted his hand to stop her.
"Well, I'm all about saving time and effort," he said, but looked toward
the jury, "So I will allow it. But you must all keep in mind that Ra knows
no more about these events than anyone else who watched it. His perceptions
may not be accurate. But then, I'm sure the good guys -- " he bit his lip
as if he'd let it slip accidentally, and corrected himself, "I mean, the
defense will correct any... mis-statements that Ra might make. He can't
lie -- the Others won't let him -- but he doesn't have to tell the truth
either. If you get the difference," that was said looking straight at Jack,
who took it as the warning he meant it to be.
Jack leaned back, folding his arms, and prepared to listen to Ra and Anubis
twist the truth beyond recognition. He wasn't disappointed either.
"I was only the first of many of my brothers and children to fall to O'Neill
and his Tau'ri," Ra said. "My mate and queen Hathor died when O'Neill forced
her into a vat of liquid nitrogen. The Tau'ri at O'Neill's command exploded
two entire planets, which killed both Sokar and Apophis as well as their
Goa'uld attendants and hundreds of Jaffa. O'Neill also killed Ares with
the weapons of the Ancients. And there was my son Heru'ur --"
Kawalsky stood up. "Now that is a lie!" he pointed at Ra. "Heru'ur was killed
by Apophis. Jack had nothing to do with it."
"Heru'ur would never have been seeking a treaty with Apophis at all, if
not for the actions of the Tau'ri in destabilizing the entire Goa'uld alliance,"
Ra answered, with an expression on his youthful face as if butter wouldn't
melt in his mouth.
"That's irrelevant," Kawalsky shot back. "Goa'uld betray and stab each other
in the back all the time, system lords die and others rise, that's just
the way it was." He looked at Robot Jack. "We request the witness confine
himself for Goa'uld deaths that Jack could at least theoretically be responsible
for, not every one that happened to die in the last eight years."
"But it is not merely O'Neill's responsibility at issue, is it?" Anubis
asked smoothly. "It is his culpability. As we all know, O'Neill was nearby
at Heru'ur's death. Had Apophis not moved so quickly, O'Neill's plan was
in fact to kill both Apophis and Heru'ur."
"Tok'ra plan," Jack muttered and turned to look at Jacob, who was
doing a pretty good imitation of a statue. Jacob shrugged a little.
Jack, feeling rather disgruntled, turned his head back to his robot double,
who was looking none too happy himself. "All right," he said after a moment.
"Anubis is correct, this isn't just about direct kills, but about intentions,
whether they were carried out or not. But," he pointed at Anubis,
"that doesn't mean you get to drag in Goa'uld like Bastet. She died because
she crossed Baal, no other reason. So keep the questions and your witness'
answers on the topic at hand."
Anubis nodded once shortly, but didn't bother to hide his triumphant expression.
"Of course. Please, lord Ra, continue. So far, we have you, Hathor, Sokar,
Apophis, Ares, and Heru'ur added to the list of O'Neill's crimes. Are there
"O'Neill is responsible for the actions of the shol'va Teal'c as
Teal'c's master," Ra said, with a disgusted twist to his lips as he pronounced
the Goa'uld word for traitor. "And Teal'c caused many Goa'uld deaths as
well, including Apophis' queen Amaunet, their children Klorel and Tanith,
and the system lord Cronus, whom Teal'c shot in the back. Tau'ri under O'Neill's
command also murdered the Goa'uld lords Moloc, Mot, and the system lord
Nurrti. O'Neill's subordinate, Samantha Carter, killed my brother Seth by
her own hand."
Both Janet and Kawalsky squirmed with eagerness to challenge the list, but
held their silence. Jack nearly had to bite his tongue to keep from saying
something inappropriately gleeful. It was a pretty impressive list when
put like that.
"I see," Anubis said slowly and very thoughtfully. Jack snorted. Once a
drama queen, always a drama queen.
"But then," Anubis turned his bulky frame back to Ra, "these are all individuals.
Individuals may be enemies. But as the other side is sure to point out,
killing individual enemies is not the same as desiring the death of an entire
race. How can you or any of us know that Jack O'Neill wished the entire
Goa'uld race dead?"
"Because," Ra glanced at Jack, slyly, "he made alliances with the Tok'ra
and the Rebel Jaffa, who wished nothing more than the death of all Goa'uld.
Because the Tau'ri manufactured a poison invented by the vermin Tok'ra in
sufficient quantities to kill all the Goa'uld, even larva in their Jaffa
pouches, through the entire galaxy."
He paused, to allow that one time to sink in and then added, "But more importantly
I know this, because O'Neill himself has said so."
Jack fell back in his chair, realizing he was in trouble. Because Ra was
absolutely correct. He was sure he'd spouted off "the only good snakehead
is a dead snakehead" at least once, and he'd certainly thought it more than
a few times. He had also put his approving signature on the request to develop
and manufacture large quantities of the Goa'uld poison.
He'd do it all again, of course, because the Goa'uld were evil and deserved
to die. But for the first time in a very long while, his conscience piped
up from the back of his mind and asked very quietly whether that wasn't
exactly what people who committed genocide thought about their victims?
"Don't listen to him," Janet whispered fiercely, her hand grabbing his sleeve.
"You were defending us. You are not the bad guy here -- Anubis and Ra are."
Kawalsky leaned in on the other side. "Yeah. What she said."
The pep talk made Jack feel better, at least until he looked over at the
jury box. Most were looking inscrutable or just downright alien, but Alar
and Fifth looked disgusted, Reese looked horrified, and the Aschen -- well,
he just looked smug. Omoc the Tollan seemed bored, and yet maybe also sad
when his droopy-eyed gaze crossed Jack's briefly.
"Nothing further," Anubis said and sat down.
Charlie stood up and moved around to the front of the table to go near Ra.
"First question, who activated the nuclear device on Abydos that ended up
Ra hesitated and wrinkled his nose a little as if smelling something bad,
before reluctantly deigning to speak to the human, "O'Neill did. In order
to destroy me."
"But you modified the device, didn't you?" Charlie asked. "You added naquadah
to it, to enhance the yield, knowing that it would either completely destroy
the people of Abydos or fifty square miles around the Stargate on Earth
-- over one million people -- if your plan of sending it through the Stargate
had worked. Isn't that true?"
Ra fixed him with a proud stare. "You Tau'ri attacked me first. I could
have done much worse in retaliation."
Charlie affected surprise. "Really? Worse than a naquadah-enhanced fission
"Of course." He sneered, the calm and elegant faade cracking. "I allowed
your primitive race to survive after the first rebellion, did I not? And
we all see how my mercy has been repaid. I should have destroyed your entire
Charlie let that sit in the silence for a moment, before glancing up at
Judge Jack with a barely hidden smile. "No further questions."
Ra disappeared. Charlie returned to the table and sat down. "That got him,"
he muttered to Jack.
Jack wasn't so sure. He knew that Kawalsky was making the point that the
Goa'uld were dangerous and that Jack had merely been defending himself and
his planet, which was important. But Jack wasn't sure that it went entirely
to the point. Couldn't Anubis just argue that Jack's actions had gone beyond
the need of self-defense into revenge-motivated genocide? There were certainly
plenty of real-world examples of that sort of thing.
"What now?" he whispered to Janet.
The Judge version of him seemed to be wondering the same thing. He looked
to Anubis. "So? What now?"
Anubis looked at the jury, seemed pleased, and stood up behind his table.
His voice dripped arrogant sarcasm. "O'Neill's defenders are doing my work
so splendidly, I think they should continue. Let them call their witnesses."
Judge Jack frowned at him a little before giving a shrug. "Okay, if that's
what you want. Janet and Charlie, apparently Anubis is done airing the dirty
laundry. Your turn."
Janet stood up. "Yes, of course. Our first witness is Martouf."
Light flash. Jack leaned forward, finding himself unexpectedly eager to
see Martouf. Ever since Martouf had died, the Tok'ra who had come after
him had been ever increasingly formal and stiff and humorless, and never
let their hosts talk. Plus there was Kanan --
He dropped the thought as Martouf gave him a friendly smile and nod, and
then his smile widened at Janet. "Doctor Frasier. It's good to see you again."
Janet smiled back. "You too, Martouf. Thank you for coming. Could you explain
what the Tok'ra are, please?"
"Certainly," he answered, with a challenging look at Anubis, who merely
looked disgusted. Martouf said, "The Tok'ra are those who rebelled against
the Goa'uld System Lords, seeking an end to their enslavement of the galaxy.
The Tok'ra followed the beliefs of their queen, including that host and
symbiote should live in harmony, and as equals."
Jack couldn't help a snort. Kanan sure hadn't believed in the equality bit.
Martouf added, with an expressive glance at Jack and apologetic face, "Sometimes
that intent was not followed, either through desperation or madness, but
it was in the main what separated the Tok'ra from the Goa'uld. The Goa'uld
sought domination and power; the Tok'ra did not."
Janet asked, "So just to confirm, the Tok'ra are Goa'uld?"
Martouf shifted uncomfortably, but admitted, "Biologically, yes, the Tok'ra
and the Goa'uld are identical. Except for a bare handful of converts, the
Tok'ra are descended from Egeria, who was herself a system lord before her
beliefs changed, some two thousand years ago."
"And during your time as host to the Tok'ra Lantash, you knew General O'Neill?"
That made Jack frown a little, since her question meant that Lantash wasn't
with Martouf anymore. Just like Selmak wasn't with Jacob anymore, apparently.
Was that by choice or not?
Martouf's blue eyes clouded with some dark emotion, before he pushed it
aside, straightening to answer. "We worked together on several occasions,"
Martouf answered. "He was always friendly to us."
"To you in particular, or the Tok'ra in general?" Janet asked.
"In general," Martouf answered, with a bit of a wry lift of his lips at
Jack. "He was often impatient with our ways, I have to admit, but that never
prevented him from working with us or assisting us when we needed it."
Jack smiled back at him, in thanks. He had a warm feeling inside from what
Martouf had said. It really had been friendly, hadn't it? Man, he missed
Janet kept going. "He worked with other Tok'ra?"
"Yes, many of us. Jacob Carter, host to Selmak, most of all." The two Tok'ra
finally looked at each other, in complete shared understanding of something
and looked away.
"And I know it's ridiculous, but then this whole thing is ridiculous," Janet
added as an irritated aside. "So I have to ask, even though the Tok'ra are
Goa'uld, General O'Neill never tried to kill one, is that correct?"
Martouf inclined his head once. "It is."
"Thank you, Martouf. Your witness," Janet told Anubis and returned to her
chair. Charlie leaned across and very quietly, high-fived her.
Anubis stood. Despite his bulk, he moved gracefully, though that was probably
thanks to incorporeality. Jack sneered inwardly -- the big, nasty snake
apparently thought of himself as a human. Though why he picked that
particular human form was beyond Jack's understanding. Maybe the Others
chose it for him?
But all thoughts of Anubis' unimposing human form flew right out of his
head when Anubis approached Martouf and asked bluntly, "How did you die?"
Martouf's eyes flared wide and he pushed back in his seat. He took a moment
to compose himself before answering in a voice that was not quite as level
as he wanted it to be, "Lantash and I had been captured by Apophis. We were
made za'tarcs, with a hidden programmed mission to assassinate the Tau'ri
president. We did not know of this program. Technology you created
I believe," Martouf snapped at Anubis. "Apophis merely discovered and usurped
it. The Tok'ra located and destroyed the machine not long after my death."
Anubis ignored the comments and just repeated the question, "How did you
Martouf's gaze dropped to his hands. "Samantha had to shoot us."
Anubis couldn't keep the gleam of triumph from his eyes. "So, in other words,
O'Neill's subordinate killed you?"
"She had no choice!" Martouf protested angrily.
"Didn't she?" Anubis purred and Martouf said nothing. Anubis paced away,
directing his comment more at the jury, "You had been shot and surrounded
by security personnel. Teal'c had already fired the zat'nik'tel once. She
saw that. So why did she use the zat'nik'tel again, knowing a second shot
Martouf's hands were clenched white on the top of the wooden wall in front
of him. "Because I was still armed and I couldn't control myself," Martouf
answered, a thread of anguish in his voice. "She did what she had to do
to protect the others. I don't blame her. I've never blamed her for what
Anubis seemed to be waiting for something for a drawn-out moment and then
raised his brows, "Hm, I suppose you must believe that. I expected the Others
to intervene as I sense a definite lie. But whether you blame her
is irrelevant -- the point is that, despite the alliance between you, a
subordinate of O'Neill's once again killed a Goa'uld. Tell me, Martouf,
how many Tok'ra died in the years between Egeria's loss and your meeting
with the Tau'ri?"
Martouf bit his lip and looked mulish. "Some," he answered reluctantly,
as though the words were pulled from him with pliers.
Anubis asked, "And how many after you met the Tau'ri?"
"More," he answered.
"Many more?" Anubis smiled just a little, his cold eyes glittering. "In
fact, so many that several of the Tok'ra declared that being allies with
the Tau'ri was turning out to be more dangerous than their insignificant
rebellion against the Goa'uld?"
Martouf glared hatefully at him and said nothing, but Anubis didn't press
him, knowing when he had won. The Goa'uld looked to Judge Jack, "Nothing
Janet stood up, without moving away from the table. "Just one question,
Martouf. Did Lantash die when Sam shot you?"
He lifted his chin. "He did not. He survived for some time and took a new
host. Samantha didn't kill Lantash."
"Thank you." Janet sat back down, confident that she had turned Anubis'
questions against him.
But Anubis wasn't finished yet. "So how did Lantash die, Martouf?"
"In the attack by Zipacna," Martouf answered shortly.
Anubis was like a shark sensing blood in the water. "I think you know more
than that. Please, do elaborate."
Martouf clenched his jaw and looked resistant. But he knew, as well as Jack
did, where this road was going. "He was dying anyway. So he activated the
poison that killed symbiotes, and he died. He sacrificed himself so that
Samantha, O'Neill, Selmak and Daniel could escape from the Goa'uld who'd
"Very noble, I'm sure," Anubis scoffed. "Yet Zipacna also died. Three of
his Goa'uld underlings, died. And over two thousand larval Goa'uld and their
Jaffa died on Revanna as well from the poison -- isn't that true?" He didn't
wait for Martouf to answer. "One more question, do you know a Tok'ra named
Martouf pressed his lips together and practically spat the words. "Yes.
"How did she die?"
"From the Goa'uld poison," Martouf answered.
"From poison-tipped missiles sent by the Tau'ri to twelve different Goa'uld
worlds, in fact, right? So then it isn't true that O'Neill has never killed
Tok'ra, is it?"
"O'Neill didn't kill Zarin! He had nothing to do with it!" Martouf protested.
"He let the perpetrators escape, didn't he? If he was so angry at what they'd
done, surely he would have attempted to stop them?" Anubis challenged with
poisoned sweetness. Martouf was too furious to speak for a moment, and Anubis
looked up at the other Jack. "We're finished here."
Janet stiffened, as though she wanted to say something, but in the end she
just shook her head at the judge's inquiring look.
The Robot Jack frowned at Anubis and then at the defense table. Jack was
willing to bet his thoughts mirrored his own. Things weren't going so well
for him. All of the humanoid faces in the jury, except Omoc, weren't looking
at him any more. "Your next witness?"
"Do we get recess?" Jack whispered urgently. "We gotta talk. Now."
Charlie nodded and stood up, "The defense requests a short recess, iuda."
"Granted," Judge Jack said quickly and vanished in a burst of light, everyone
else followed him out, leaving the three alone.
Or as alone as they were gonna get, since Jack was sure there was no shortage
of Ascended people listening in. But there was nothing he could do about
that, so he got to his feet and moved to the other side of the desk. He
tapped his hands on the top of the table and regarded Janet and Charlie.
"We're not doing so hot."
Janet grimaced. "I know. I'm sorry. I should've realized he was going to
turn Martouf's death against us. I should've brought it out earlier."
He freed a hand to gesture it away. "No, I'm not blaming you, Janet. You
guys are doing your best, but the fact is, it's not like I went out of my
way not to kill Goa'uld. I just quibble with calling it wrong. So
what we need to do is get out the point that everything I was doing and
that Teal'c, and Carter, and Daniel did too, was in defense of Earth. Or
heck, in defense of all humans through the galaxy. We were justified."
"We were planning to put you on next," Charlie said. "You're the only one
who can explain why you did things."
Janet frowned and shook her head once. "I just don't know that it's enough
right now. What we really need is a Goa'uld witness, who can testify to
an act of compassion."
Charlie snorted skeptically. "Yeah, like who?"
"I don't know," she snapped back defensively. "What about Apophis?" she
suggested after a moment. "We did give him sanctuary that one time."
"He died, Janet," Charlie reminded her. "And then Hammond shipped him back
to Sokar to get revived and tortured some more. Apophis isn't going to say
anything nice about Jack."
"Nope," Jack agreed, but paying only half his attention. Because there had
been one occasion... He put his hands down flat on the table, leaning forward.
"Cronus. He's our witness."
Janet and Charlie both stared at him. Jack had to chuckle at the fish-eyed
looks. He started to tick off the good points with his fingers. "We saved
him from Nurrti. And since I still think she was working for Heru'ur at
the time, we probably also saved his territory for him. He was also one
of the lords who kicked Anubis' ass originally, so there's no love lost
"Teal'c killed him," Charlie said, still obviously flummoxed by this whole
idea. "You don't think that might make him a bit pissed at you?"
Jack shrugged. "He was torturing Teal'c at the time. Besides, it was a Jaffa
revenge thing. Cronus knew it might happen from when Teal'c got in his face
during the treaty negotiations." His look was wry as he asked, "C'mon, Charlie.
At this point, we need all the help we can get. Even from a Goa'uld."
"Are you sure?" Janet asked doubtfully. He nodded, pretending he was really
more sure about this than he was. She went over to where Jacob had been
standing and she disappeared as well.
Wasn't this the sort of thing he would mock in someone else? Getting help
from a Goa'uld -- like that was ever a good idea.
"It'll be okay, Jack," Charlie murmured and put a hand on his shoulder,
giving it a squeeze.
"You know that now that you've gone glowy, or are you just guessing, Kawalsky?"
he asked, amused and comforted in spite of himself.
"Guessing," Charlie answered promptly, and Jack had to chuckle.
"Thanks for nothing then, old buddy."
Janet returned then, with Jacob. The older general came over to the table,
shaking his head at Jack. "You do like to play with fire, don't you, Jack?"
"Well, if the candle goes out, then there's not going to be supper is there?"
he retorted, and when the three of them first looked at each other and then
to him with identical 'huh?' faces, he shrugged, "What? I'm sure Daniel
said Oma said something like that."
"Whatever you say, Jack," Jacob said, rolling his eyes and stepping back
to his place by the wall.
The jury and Anubis returned, followed closely by the Other Jack, who asked.
"Is the defense ready to proceed?"
Charlie remained standing. "We are. The defense calls the Goa'uld System
Several members of the jury murmured at that, which pleased Jack to no end.
Just the mere chutzpah of calling a Goa'uld as a witness had already won
him some points.
Cronus appeared in the witness box. He looked the same as the last time
Jack had seen him, more or less, the quasi-Greek clothes in white and silver
-- they were rather tasteful as Goa'uld clothes went -- and the shoulder-length
hair framing a broad, but angular face that looked arrogant without trying.
His presence filled the witness box, in a way that neither Ra nor Martouf
He narrowed his eyes and sneered when he saw Anubis, and his expression
actually became less scornful when he saw the Tau'ri. He leaned back a bit
in his chair, very much a lord, and folded his hands together.
Charlie bowed his head very politely. "Thank you for attending, Lord Cronus.
We have only a few questions for you."
"As many as you wish, Tau'ri."
"Yes, well," Charlie cleared his throat. "Would you please describe what
happened from your perspective when you joined Nurrti and Lord Yu on Earth
to negotiate Earth's joining the Asgard Protected Planets Treaty?"
"The humans, including O'Neill, were rude and ignorant," Cronus answered.
Jack inwardly winced. This wasn't a good start. "I was not impressed with
either their manners or their technology, but it was not surprising after
millennia of abandonment by the Goa'uld. I believed the Tau'ri should remain
on their planet and not trouble the rest of the galaxy. When I was attacked
and nearly killed, I believed they were at fault."
"And were they?" Charlie asked.
Jack tensed, wondering how Cronus would answer. But he was honest and straight-forward,
answering, "No, they were not. Nurrti had attempted my death. When the Tau'ri
then asked her to use the healing device, she pretended to do so and was
prepared to let me die."
"Is that how you died?" Charlie asked.
"No. Samantha Carter used the healing device adequately to save my life."
Jack leaned back and silently let out the breath he'd been holding. That
was the important part, and Cronus had just said it plainly, without trying
to twist it against Jack or the SGC as Jack had feared.
Charlie went on, clearly learning from Janet's earlier mistake with Martouf,
"So after Sam Carter saved your life at the SGC -- with Jack O'Neill's authorization
I should add -- how did you die?"
Cronus turned his head to narrow his eyes at Judge Jack, who just smiled.
"The iuda's own companion, the android version of the shol'va
Teal'c, killed me with his staff weapon. I mistakenly had believed him to
be already dead and turned my back to him."
Robot Judge muttered under his breath, but loud enough for everyone to hear,
"Do you know why the other Teal'c killed you?" Charlie asked.
Cronus faced him again, a cold smile on his face. "Because I had executed
the real Teal'c's father for failing me, many years before and he wanted
revenge. And because Teal'c was dying at my hands at the time," he added
as an afterthought, and a look of vicious pleasure crossed his face at the
memory. "It was the same way I had killed his father. Teal'c was surprised
that I remembered."
Charlie took a step backward, as if the tame kitty had just become a lion,
and Jack snorted to himself. There were no tame Goa'uld.
"Yes, well, thank you. Nothing further," Charlie came back to his chair
next to Jack.
The two Goa'uld stared at each other, hostile gazes practically striking
sparks. Their mutual hatred was much stronger than it'd been between Anubis
and Ra. Cronus was clearly spitefully glad that he had screwed up Anubis'
little project. "No questions," Anubis said, with a snarl.
Cronus' gloating face was there just a moment, and then he was gone.
Judge Jack rolled his eyes. "Okay, Kawalsky, Doc, what else you got?"
Jack felt his stomach knot. He knew what was going to happen next. He stood
up, just as Charlie announced, "We call Jack O'Neill in his own defense."
Jack stood up, inhaling a deep breath to try to settle his insides. He walked
across the front, opened the small wooden gate, and sat down in the chair
inside the small box. The chair seemed very small and very hard. It was
a chair to inspire brevity.
Frasier lowered her eyes for a moment, to gather her thoughts. She tapped
her fingers against her skirt and lifted her head, with a gentle smile.
But Jack wasn't fooled -- he saw the set look of her jaw and the fierce
gleam in her eyes, and he knew that Fightin' Frasier was in the house. Nobody
who'd seen her pull a gun on Nurrti would be surprised.
"I suppose we should start at the beginning," she said. "When you and Daniel
Jackson went through the Stargate for the first time and ended up on Abydos,
were you planning to kill Ra or any other Goa'uld?"
"Of course not," Jack answered. "We didn't even know there was such a thing.
They'd all been gone from Earth so long they were just characters in stories
to us. Nobody thought it was real. Hell, we didn't even know what the gate
did or what we would find or where we were going."
"So why did you go through the gate?" Janet asked, looking genuinely curious.
"To evaluate if there was a threat. And to explore, though that was really
more Daniel's department than mine."
"Did you report to your superiors that there was a threat?"
"I did," he nodded. "But I also reported that the threat was gone. When
Ra's ship blew up, that seemed like the end of it. Or so I thought. Even
then, we had no idea that there were more Goa'uld out there. We didn't
learn that for almost another year, when Apophis himself came waltzing through
our Stargate and kidnapped one of my sergeants. Apophis killed her," he
added before Janet could ask anything more, since he really wanted to get
that part in.
He frowned thoughtfully. "Actually, if Apophis hadn't come then, we very
well might have not gone through the gate again. It hadn't been used since
our first trip to Abydos and it was due to be put into secure storage. But
Apophis showed up and we suddenly realized there was a whole lot more danger
in the big 'ol galaxy than we thought."
"When did you learn of the other Goa'uld, besides Apophis?"
"We first heard about them from Teal'c, after he joined us. But the first
one we encountered besides Apophis was ... " he ran through the early missions
in his mind, hardly able to believe now that they'd been so lucky as not
trip over some other active Goa'uld's territory in those fragile early years,
"um, Hathor, actually. Some idiot archaeologist had released her from her
sarcophagus prison on Earth and she came looking for the gate. She got away,
that time. The next one was Heru'ur when he went and attacked some friends
of ours and we went to help."
"But mostly you and General Hammond thought the main threat was Apophis?"
"Right. He was the one who attacked us with a fleet of motherships. We kicked
his ass though," he added with a smirk. Yes, good times.
"Did you personally believe that all Goa'uld were Earth's enemy?" Janet
"Well..." he paused, trying to frame the right words. "I suppose intellectually,
yes. Teal'c had told us about all the various evils these Goa'uld had done,
and we'd seen the aftermath ourselves -- the slavery, the poverty, that
the Goa'uld force their slaves to live in. I mean, here's a fantastically
advanced race, able to fly in spaceships across the galaxy, and they force
their slaves to mine naquadah with hammer and chisel," he gestured emphatically,
miming the slaves chipping ore loose from rocks. "That's oppression. It
would've been a good thing to free everyone from their tyranny, from a moral
standpoint. But neither me nor General Hammond when he was in charge at
the SGC, thought it was our mission to go after all the Goa'uld. We just
wanted to keep our world safe."
Janet had been about to speak, but checked her words, thinking. "What about
other authorities on Earth? Were they in agreement with you and General
At first he frowned, wondering what she was getting at, because of course
the president had been in agreement or they wouldn't have done it. But then,
to his left, the other Jack pretended to sneeze, muttering, "Kinsey."
"Not all of them," Jack answered. "There were always elements within our
upper leadership who wanted stronger defenses and a more aggressive policy
against the Goa'uld. These were the people who sent secret teams out to
steal technology from more advanced races like the Asgard. Remnants of that
group were the ones who stole the stockpiled poison gas and began targeting
all the Goa'uld, regardless of whether there were Jaffa there or not. Or
even whether they were targeting Goa'uld at all. They were the ones who
killed the Tok'ra Zarin."
"Did you condone their actions?" Janet asked.
"No. I was sorry I couldn't go after them, but I had people in trouble and
I had to get them home first. I wasn't all broken up about the Goa'uld who
got killed," he admitted with a shrug. "But the Trust's complete disregard
for whether they were hitting friends or enemies -- not to mention operating
completely outside any authority or oversight, and kidnapping my people
-- made me stop them. And we did stop them eventually."
He faced the jury and pointed to Anubis, "Whatever that guy's trying to
make you think, wholesale slaughter isn't what I'm about. That's his thing
-- he's the one who tried to get the Ancients device on Dakara to wipe out
all life in the galaxy. All life in the galaxy," he repeated, trying
to make sure they got it, paying special attention to the aliens. "Humans,
Goa'uld, Jaffa, Reetou, other races, animals, birds... everything."
Then just because it had pissed him off for a long time, and it seemed like
it was his chance, he cast his eyes up to the ceiling, "I'd just like to
add that if you people were gonna Ascend and all that, fine, but you should've
cleaned up all the crap you left behind first! I've had my brain
sucked twice, gotten stuck in a damn time loop for three months, and nearly
had the entire galaxy scoured clean because of you didn't pick up your toys."
When he looked back down, Janet was grinning and shaking her head at him.
It took her a moment to focus again and grow serious. "Tell me, General,
what is your opinion of the Goa'uld today?"
"Today? Hmm..." Though tempted to give a flippant answer, he suppressed
his first response to think about it. What did he think of the Goa'uld right
"Defeated," he said finally with relish. "They're not all gone, but they're
no threat to us anymore. Their power's broken, and their Jaffa are now free
to screw up their lives all on their own. The Goa'uld did it to themselves,
through their arrogance, and cruelty and stupidity."
He straightened in his chair, letting the simmering annoyance bubble over.
He'd played along for long enough. "Let's get to the real point here. You,"
he pointed at Anubis, "and your lackey Baal killed more Goa'uld in your
rise to power than me and mine did. So where's your trial thing? Where do
I sign up to give you one?"
"Jack --" the other Jack remonstrated, but not as if he meant it, so Jack
ignored him, folding his arms and wishing there were some Others visible
so he could glare at them, settling for Anubis himself.
"I'm serious. This is stupid. We were just defending ourselves; you were
wiping out the competition. Why are you over there and I'm here? Why do
you get to keep playing games with mortals, even when you're supposed to
be Ascended and beyond all this pettiness?"
This time it was Jacob who spoke his name, "Jack --" The warning tone got
to him, and he glanced at the former Tok'ra and saw him looking worried.
Jacob shook his head emphatically in the "don't go there" gesture.
Reminded that Jacob had said that Jack's trouble was Jacob's trouble, Jack
bit his lip on the rest of what he wanted to say, and finished grumpily.
"Well, it's the truth."
Janet nodded and reached forward to touch the front of the witness box once
before returning to her chair. "Your witness, Anubis."
Anubis stood up. "You have hostile feelings for the Others?"
"Only for their hypocrisy for not taking care of you," he retorted. "Letting
you run amuck. Whatever happened to non-interference?"
Anubis smiled and walked closer to Jack, who wanted to lean away from him,
but stubbornly refused. "I happen to agree with you, does that surprise
you? They are hypocrites, all of them. I've always used that to my
advantage. But I am not the issue here, O'Neill, you are. And you do not
lack for hypocrisy yourself."
Jack waited and then said, brows up in mock puzzlement, "Was there a question
in there? Sorry, I missed it."
Anubis narrowed his eyes at the insolence and Jack looked back full of innocent
helpfulness. "You claim that you attacked the Goa'uld out of self-defense,
and yet how many times did you lead or send others out through the Stargate,
after you had been warned by our friend Cronus that entering Goa'uld space
would be provocative and make the Goa'uld view you as an enemy? Did you
in fact not bring the enmity of the Goa'uld upon yourselves?"
Jack wasn't buying into that crap, not for a second. "Apophis started it,"
Jack snapped. "He invaded us first. He kidnapped and murdered one of my
people, and barely six months later attacked us from space. If anyone was
being "provocative", he was. We went through the gate after that to look
for allies and technology to defend ourselves. When we found some -- as
you might remember -- " he smirked at Anubis, even though his own memories
of the battle over Antarctica were rather hazy, "we did protect the planet
from your fleet, when you attacked us last year."
Anubis' eyes darkened ominously. "Yes, more technology that you primitive
Tau'ri use without understanding. Truly, O'Neill, how has your race survived
in this galaxy being so reckless and foolish?"
Jack leaned back and folded his arms. "Reckless, maybe. We went through
the Stargate without much clue of what we were getting ourselves into, that's
true. But not foolish. It's not foolish to watch out for your friends, or
want the rest of humanity freed from evil overlords. And so maybe we went
out there without much more than a moral high horse and guts, but you know
what? We did it. The galaxy is a far safer and freer place now."
"So you're not sorry about killing so many of the Goa'uld?" Anubis asked,
leaning close eagerly like a vulture spying a dying buffalo.
Jack was sorry for a lot of things he'd done in his career. In his life.
But that wasn't one of them. There was no point in pretending otherwise.
"No. I'm sorry the Goa'uld were arrogant, power-hungry weasels out to conquer
the galaxy. But I'm not sorry they lost. I did what I had to do, and I'd
do it again."
Anubis smiled one last time, the affable mask on his face again. "Thank
you, O'Neill. Nothing further," he addressed Robot Jack.
"Redirect, Doctor?" Judge Jack asked and she shook her head. "Back to your
chair, then," Judge Jack motioned Jack to get up and go back to the defense
table. When Jack was snug between Janet and Charlie, his robot double lifted
his eyebrows in inquiry at Janet, who said they had no more witnesses.
Robot Jack then addressed the jury. "You've heard the questions and the
answers. I'm sure you've got some opinions. But remember, the only thing
you have to decide is whether Jack O'Neill of the Tau'ri is guilty or whether
he is worthy enough to be allowed to choose his fate." He added with a half-
crooked, wry smile, "in other words, is his hatred for the Goa'uld stronger
than his good qualities? You decide. Choose wisely, choose well."
He snapped his fingers and the jury disappeared. The robot clone followed
in a flash of bright light, and then Anubis.
Jacob wandered back over to their table. "Well, that was ... interesting.
Don't hold back or anything, Jack."
"What was I gonna do?" Jack demanded, letting out just a bit of frustration
with a whack of the table. "I couldn't lie, could I? And there was no point
dancing around it, when Anubis knew damn well what he was going for the
whole time. I though I'd just save everyone some time by saying it straight
"You certainly did," Charlie agreed. "But you were honest and that should
count for something."
"Yeah, so you'd think, but I don't know. With those people?" Jack waved
a hand in the general direction of the jury seats. "I'm not holding my breath."
"You're not actually breathing at all," Janet offered cheerfully, trying
to lighten things up. "Since you're on another plane of existence."
He winced. "Save all that for Carter, will you? It makes my head hurt."
She just gave him a 'not buying it' look, but she let it slide, for which
he was grateful. He stood up and stretched out his back and cracked his
neck. All that defiantly refusing to back off from Anubis had tightened
him up something fierce. "Okay. Let's say for a second that there's a miracle
and the verdict's in my favor. Then what?"
Jacob rolled his eyes. "Weren't you listening? You get to choose what happens
next. You can go back to your body and let the docs take care of you, wake
up, and go off to Washington."
Jack grimaced in distaste. Oh yes, the promotion, the desk, the Pentagon...
Wasn't that going to be fun with a capital "F"? "And behind door number
Janet and Charlie exchanged a look, and Charlie said, turning very serious
eyes on Jack, "You die, Jack."
He'd thought as much but it was still unbelievable. "That's it? That's my
"And you get to Ascend," Jacob put in, with a frustrated look at Charlie.
"Ooh, really, I get to be glowy too?" Jack asked, barely able to muster
fake enthusiasm for the prospect. Yeah, sitting around on his ass and watching
the galaxy like it was just one big television show for the rest of eternity
sounded fun. Not.
"It's not so bad," Jacob said, but not with heaps of enthusiasm either.
He must have realized his selling technique needed work, because he added,
"Look, Jack, most people don't get offered the opportunity at all."
That still wasn't all that impressive from where Jack was sitting. "Yeah,
well, most people don't get pain-in-the-mik'ta Goa'uld Glowing Jellyfish
Wannabe's screwing around in their life, either."
"Point," Jacob agreed, with a glum nod and gave up on the joys of Ascendedness.
So Jack decided to find out what was really going on with him. "So, Jake,
what's up with Selmak? And Lantash too, I gather."
Janet reached across the table and patted Jacob's arm.
Jacob answered after a moment, "We all ascended separately and we're not
allowed to find each other, at least not yet. Some bull about having to
grow as individuals first."
"Sounds like the busybody Ascended we all know," Jack agreed. He was going
to ask more, but Jacob stiffened up in that odd way that seemed to mean
he was communicating with the Others somehow.
"They're done," he said.
"That was fast," Jack tried for nonchalance and knew he'd failed when Janet
took his hand and squeezed.
"There is no time here," she reminded him gently. "No fast or slow. Only
as much as they needed."
Which still sounded to him like the jury hadn't been gone very long, but
this was some other dimension so what the hell did he know?
Anubis appeared, then the jury, and lastly Judge Jack. Jack's clone had
a decided poker face as he looked at the jury, and Jack couldn't tell if
he knew the verdict already or was preparing himself to hear it. He said,
"The members of the jury are decided. One by one, you must stand and give
your decision. First, Omoc of Tollana."
The Tollan who'd gotten killed by his own people for questioning some shady
dealings with Tanith stood up. "Not guilty. Though my people abhor violence,
we do not question the need for defense against a stronger enemy. Would
that my people had defenders of O'Neill's caliber -- Tollana might still
He gave a very polite nod of his head to Jack, who returned it, and he disappeared.
The next to stand was Alar of Euronda. He refused to look at Jack, fixing
his eyes on Anubis. His elegantly spare form and voice were just as Jack
remembered, as was the hypocrisy. "Guilty. I heard no remorse, only the
arrogant assurance that his way was the only true and right way. Those deaths,
and many more, lie on his head and should be punished."
He disappeared and Reese stood up. In contrast to Alar, she looked fixedly
at Jack, "You killed my toys," she said with a petulant child's voice. "They're
all dead, because of you. You and the Goa'uld deserve each other -- you
should have all died! Guilty!"
The two Unas stood up in turn, and each grunted only one word in their language
and vanished. When there was no translation forthcoming from anyone, Jack
leaned into Charlie and whispered, "What?"
"Innocent," Charlie whispered back.
That made it 3-2 in his favor. Jack was on the edge of his seat as Morem
the Aschen stood up. He looked down his nose at Jack, who felt another niggling
of conscience. Yes, the Aschen had conquered their neighbors no less ruthlessly
than the Goa'uld and planned to do the same to Earth, but still, had they
deserved getting their homeworld sucked into a black hole?
"Guilty," he said, not surprising Jack at all. He didn't explain why, but
no doubt everyone there knew anyway.
That left the Reetou, the weird alien, and Fifth.
The Reetou didn't have to stand up since it wasn't actually sitting in a
chair at all. It warbled something in its language and instead of flashing
out of the room, sort of shimmered out of sight and was gone.
Charlie translated again, "'Not guilty. The Goa'uld once hunted us; it is
proper that they in turn be hunted.'"
Jack wasn't sure that was a ringing endorsement, since it sounded more like
the Reetou thought he'd done it, but didn't feel it was a crime.
The other alien unfolded itself from the chair and a very disconcerting
pair of eyes landed on Jack. It was like looking into a chasm with no bottom.
The alien clicked and hissed for what seemed like forever, and Jack had
no idea what it was saying.
Except that in his head he "heard" the translation -- "Of these things we
know: Jack O'Neill meant well. He believed in necessity. He believed in
defense. He believed truly. Belief is not truth. Truth is not correct. Correct-action
is no action." And it disappeared.
Jack frowned, trying to figure it out. But he was feeling very 'huh?' at
the moment. What did the alien mean? He hadn't said guilty or not guilty.
So what was his vote?
Janet glanced at him and took pity on his obvious confusion. She shook her
head in rueful negative.
Jack felt it like a blow. The alien had voted against him? But why?
His eyes settled on Fifth - he of the curly hair and the once-open and eager
face on a young man's body, even if that body was made up of gazillion tiny
Replicators . Jack's entire insides froze up. The votes were now tied, four
to four, and that gave Fifth the deciding vote.
And Fifth hated him.
Fifth slowly got to his feet. He hesitated, head hanging and gaze directed
at Anubis' table. He spoke quietly, but with the intensity that Jack remembered
from when they'd met.
"Once I was innocent. I was a child. And I trusted in Jack O'Neill and Samantha.
They betrayed me." With that he lifted his head and fixed Jack with a cold,
but also very hurt glare. Ouch.
"From that I learned hatred and vengeance," Fifth continued. "I created
a child of my own, who was tainted with what I had learned. She betrayed
me too, and killed me. I thought I could hate nothing more than I hated
the Tau'ri in that moment."
Jack swallowed hard. This was sounding worse and worse.
Fifth's gaze now moved to Anubis. "But then I watched the Goa'uld. I watched
you. I watched your lieutenant betray you. He allied with his enemy O'Neill
to stop your plan of conquest and destruction of all life in this galaxy.
From that action I learned that doing the right and necessary thing may
sometimes be a betrayal of someone else. I realized that O'Neill and Samantha's
betrayal of me was because they needed to protect their people from mine."
He looked at Jack again and there was something like a smile in his eyes,
or at least forgiveness. "After some thought, I have decided that O'Neill
is guilty of many things, but he deserves the chance to continue to protect
his people. That's what he does best." He nodded once to Jack and disappeared.
"All right!" Judge Jack shouted, pumping a fist in triumph and apparently
released from any obligation to pretend neutrality. "You win, Jack. Now
click your heels three times and say there's no place like home, and it's
all over. Congratulations." And he was gone too.
Anubis said nothing, just glared at him, and winked out of the room.
For a moment, Jack just sat there, trying to absorb it all. Then he let
out a long breath and collapsed back into his chair. "Well... thank God.
I was a little worried there for a second."
"We told you it would work out," Janet said, folding her arms in a huff,
but Jack caught the smile she couldn't quite suppress.
Charlie shook his head and chuckled ruefully. "You do realize that he changed
his mind because Baal turned on Anubis to work with you?"
"Yeah, I'll be sure to send the snakehead a thank you card when I get back,"
Jack grumped at him, but his heart wasn't in it. He was still trying to
process that Fifth had actually voted for him. Maybe the kid wasn't such
a bad guy after all.
But it wasn't really Fifth he had to thank for this, he knew. He stood and
reached out to put a hand on Charlie and Janet's shoulders. "Thank you both.
All of you," he added quickly with a glance at Jacob, "You were amazing."
"No problem," Charlie answered flippantly, but he reached across and grasped
Jack's shoulder and squeezed, saying with the gesture all that he wasn't
going to say out loud.
Jacob joined them at the table, shaking his head at Jack again in amazement.
"You have more luck than any three people deserve, Jack. I thought for sure
the Replicator was going against you."
Jack put a hand over his heart, "You mean ascension doesn't mean knowing
everything? Well, damn, now I'm all shocked."
Charlie snickered, and Janet bit her lip, so she wouldn't grin.
Jacob just sighed. "Very funny. But you still have to make the choice, Jack.
Do you want to go back or stay here?"
Jack let the levity dwindle away, since he wanted Jacob to understand that
he was serious. "I told Daniel no when he offered to help. I meant it then,
Jacob, and I mean it now. I don't want this." He looked around the fake
courtroom and shook his head. "I couldn't stand around and just watch.
It didn't work for Daniel, and it sure as hell wouldn't work for me."
Charlie and Janet shared a rueful and disappointed look. "We thought as
much," she said to Jack. "But we were hoping anyway."
"We should get going," Jacob said, apologetically. "We're not supposed to
linger after you decide to go."
Jack awkwardly faced Janet, not knowing what else to say. But she knew what
to do, giving him a fierce hug. "Remember, we're not gone," she reminded
him. "As long as you remember us, we're still watching over you. We'll help
as much as we can, even if you won't know it, I promise."
"Janet?" he pulled back to try to look in her face, worried by what she
was not saying.
Jacob stepped closer and lowered his voice. "Trouble's coming, Jack. And
all of us up here, who still care about down there, will be doing what we
can. It isn't much, you're right about that, but you're not alone. Okay?
Try to remember."
"You'll be needed, Jack," Janet added. For just a moment, she wasn't the
Janet Frasier he had known, but someone beyond her, with knowledge in her
brown eyes that shouldn't be there. "The Goa'uld are not the only evil in
Jack looked from Janet to Jacob, who nodded once, to Charlie, who held up
a hand to stop any questions. "No, don't ask. If we leave it at that, the
Others might let you remember it. Just... remember, Jack. You're needed."
"And when the time comes," Janet smiled at him, warm and human once again
as she let go of his hand with one last squeeze, "we'll be waiting for you.
Give Cassandra my love, and tell Sam she better take good care of my daughter."
"I will," he promised.
"Take care of yourself, old buddy," Charlie said, clapping him on the shoulder
and then standing away. He and Janet both disappeared in flares of light.
Jack looked into the former General Carter's face, trying to read it. He
wanted to ask about the cryptic warnings, but it was pretty obvious that
was all he was going to get. "So. Back to the Waffle House of Glowing Jellyfish?"
Jacob shook his head once, half-smiling. "No, straight home for you this
"Oh, then, this is it then?" Jack asked, suddenly feeling awkward. There
were so many things he wanted to say and questions he wanted to ask, but
the words wouldn't come. He settled on a weak effort, "I hope you find Selmak,
"Me, too. Thanks." Jacob cast an appraising eye over him, making Jack feel
very much like a lieutenant again. "You're a good man, Jack. I don't think
being at the Pentagon will change that."
"You're not sure? You've gone glowy and you're still such a pessimist?"
Jacob cast his eyes up to the non-existent ceiling to beg the Others for
more patience. "Shut up, Jack. Let's get you home before Fifth remembers
how aggravating you are and changes his vote"
As the bright light seemed to fold itself around him, Jack heard Jacob laugh,
"Oh, before I forget, the answer to your question is no."
But then there was nothing but light, and as it faded to darkness, Jack's
mind went with it, following it into the silent stillness of his body.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Annoying beeping. Check.
Chemical smell of antiseptic. Check.
Tug of an i.v. in his arm. Check.
Jack heaved an inward sigh and opened his eyes. Yep, infirmary.
He moved his head, which objected to the motion by pounding at least two
nails in his brain. There was Daniel, reading something which he laid aside
the instant he realized Jack was awake.
Daniel leaned close and asked in a considerate murmur, "Hey, there. How
are you feeling?"
"I didn't authorize construction on this floor, so the pounding must be
in my head," Jack said by way of an answer and groaned. "What the hell happened?"
"Concussion," Daniel explained. "Your packing box fell on your head. You've
been unconscious for almost two days."
"Oh, that explains it. For a moment I felt I'd been on a trip or something.
Weird. I think I was dreaming," Jack said, frowning. He had strange wisps
of memory drifting in his mind. But they were slipping away from him, dissolving
like snowflakes in the sun. "Something about Jacob, I think. And Anubis.
Cronus was there, too, of all people." Looking up at the infirmary ceiling
reminded him, and he added softly, "And the doc, too. They were all trying
to tell me something. Something important."
"Tell you what?" Daniel asked, as if he was genuinely curious, not just
humoring Jack's strange, incoherent dream.
"I don't know." Jack shook his head a little, but whatever it was, was gone.
But it left him with a very unsettled feeling that he hoped was the product
of his concussion, but which he feared was not.
Yet there was another feeling in there as well, a new sense of anticipation
for his promotion that hadn't been there before. Like he'd let go of some
things, and he was ready to move on.
He smiled up at his friend. "But I think they were telling me that life
is for the living, Daniel. And it's still a pretty good life to have."
My bunny assignment:
* * * * * * * * * * Time frame: S8 after "Threads" Pairings: No overt ship,
no slash. Plot: While hovering on the verge of death, a comatose Jack is
visited by a glowy Jacob/Selmak and informed he is to be put on trial to
answer for all the dead false gods he & his team have sent to the Great
Beyond. His defense team: Charlie Kowalsky and Janet Fraiser. The judge:
Jack's duplicate from 'Tin Man'. The jury: Any deceased being from the series
who wasn't from the SGC or a Goa'uld (i.e. any of the Tollan, anyone from
Abydos, Alar or any of his people (The Other Side), Reece (Menace), any
of the replicators (First, Fifth, etc.), an Unas (Thor's Hammer or Demons),
etc.). * * * * * * * * * * * *
To the bunny author, whoever you are: I hope I got close, even though I
suspect I didn't do what you had in mind.