Summary: Kanan is not the best houseguest Jack’s ever had. At least there’s no torture…or not the same sort.
Author’s note: At first, the challenge was difficult. And then I asked myself, “What is the easiest way for a spy to enter a secure compound?” and formed the answer, “To have an open invitation.”
Author’s note: I did not start this fic with the intention of making it a crossover…but my Jack muse insisted on having Dr Who references…and from there, the Torchwood showed up in passing.
Challenge description at story bottom, as is traditional with Jackficathon entries.
History split when Enochal drew his zat rather than his staff weapon and fired it at the escaping malak.
Jack O’Neill collapsed and Kanan, paralyzed, could not take the opportunity to escape.
Enochal dragged the both of him back into the bunker – and the entryway did indeed look more like a concrete berm than any palace or temple. Still together, Jack and Kanan were dragged deep into the complex, where doors formed in the middle of walls, and Jack felt no angle to the floor, not even when – on being brought before a slender man clad in a fabric somewhere between leather and velvet – Kanan’s thoughts insisted they were deep underground. Enochal plopped him down belly-first on an armless and backless couch; Jack let his head loll a bit. No need to tip our hand.
Silence in the room for several minutes after that; Kanan reached out with one of his senses, and found no trace of naqahdah behind him: the Jaffa were gone. The smell of toasted cinnamon lay heavy in the air with nothing but his own breathing to fill Jack’s ears. C’mon already, say something. When another minute ticked by, measured by counting heartbeats, What, not even a ‘I am your god’? I’m oddly disappointed.
At last, “You attempted to escape,” the black-clad man said.
“It was a necessity,” Kanan said, raising Jack’s head in prelude to sitting. “Had I not, my usefulness would have evaporated. Tok’ra are easy to make suspicious, and equally easy to fool.”
“Very well. Does your host know who you are?”
Jack could taste the disgust and pity in his own throat at how this mighty Goa’uld bothered himself about what hosts knew. Tools. “He knows what is needed, that I am part of the Tok’ra.”
“He knows nothing more than that deception?”
“Not even your own name,” Kanan said, sounding proud of that.
The guy didn’t look pleased to hear that. Didn’t look angry either. Seemed more irritated than anything else.
That shall change, he thought to himself. “I am Ba’al,” he said.
Speak, Kanan prodded Jack, firing nerves in the skin of his legs. Answer him that he knows you remain intact – and I shall stop itching.
“Ba’al?” Jack asked. “Just Ba’al? Noth- ?” and remembered having heard the name long ago. “Oh, you’re that Ba’al! So, how’s the calf doing?”
“’Calf’?” Ba’al asked.
“The one made for you, while Moses was up on the mountain. C’mon, its just you and me here -- plus ol’ Vidkun in my head.”
Ba’al looked thoughtful, considering. “Most likely I had already departed your world by that time, Colonel.”
“You know me?” Keep’im talking.
Of course he does, Kanan replied.
“Colonel Jack O’Neill, defeater of Ra, Hathor, Sokar, Heru’ur, and Imhotep.” Enemies, all of them, of both myself and of my ancestry. With your first two kills, I sent forth my malaks to search for you.
“No. You succeeded. Many times.”
“Yeah, and you’re next.” He’d intended that only as a thought, but Kanan had converted it to speech.
Jack watched Ba’al’s reaction… And saw only a nod. What, is that like a ‘good, now we know where we stand’?
“Inform him of the offer,” Ba’al instructed as he strode past, to the door. “We leave shortly,” and the doors sealed.
Great, just –
“Is it you?” a woman asked Jack, who spun around to face her, and saw –
.- only black motes of dust drifting on a nonexistent breeze.
She is still here, Kanan thought, relieved.
Who’s she? Jack wondered.
None of your concern, was Kanan’s response.
Not that there was anything to see anyway -- assuming the voice hadn’t been piped in, she was gone.
And everything faded away.
Jack woke up in a different room, lying face-up on a luxuriantly-plush bed. Anise, not cinnamon, was the aroma of this room.
And Daniel was standing next to the bed, looking down at Jack with a bored expression. “Oh good, you’re awake,” with a smile.
“Yyeah,” Jack said. “You know what’s going on?”
That’s probably part and parcel of being ascended. “Care to let me in on it?”
“Kanan’s working for Ba’al and the Tok’ra.”
A hallucination coulda told me that. “Ya’know, that much I’d already figured out. Anything else – like, oh, I don’t know, which side he’s really on?” Daniel just looked at him. “Well?”
“Jack, Kanan’s still in you.”
Not the best-kept secret. “Yeah, and?”
As if spelling out the blindingly obvious, “Anything I tell you, he’ll know as soon as he wakes up.”
“Ah, I see; I’m still surprised snakes need to sleep.”
“Um, yeah, I kinda had a hand in that,” his eyes darting back and forth, wary.
“Daniel, isn’t that interfering?”
“And isn’t interfering against the rules?” Deep within him, Jack could feel Kanan starting to wake up.
“Most forms are, yeah.”
Daniel said nothing.
“So… nice to see you. Been a while.”
“Sorry. I’ve been…busy.”
Busy? “Don’t you know everything?”
“So what’s left?”
“I have to go.”
“Later, Jack,” and vanished just as Kanan regained motor and vocal control.
And as Kanan moved Jack’s body off the bed and perused the bookshelf that filled an entire wall, they were being observed.
In his throne room, Ba’al watched it all with Shallan at his side. “Thoughts, my lord?” she asked.
“Kanan’s return, though pleasing, has come at an inopportune moment,” Ba’al said. “I cannot ignore the possibility that it is no coincidence.”
“As well you should not, my lord,” Shallan advised. “As he drew me towards the stargate during his escape attempt earlier, I could ascertain the mood of his thoughts –he planned to abandon that host and make way to where you rescued me.” Anything he would have tried there, would assuredly have destroyed the Structure, even if he did not wish to do so.
“Leaving his host to be questioned by me.” He well knows my predilection for obtaining answers firsthand – hence such a strategy as he nearly employed. “You did well, lowering his defenses.”
“You are most kind, my lord, and overly generous to Kanan. He regards me no more highly than the host he occupies: a tool at best, readily discardable.”
Ba’al’s eyes flared. Once, there had been rules and codicils regarding the care and feeding of hosts. The civility outlasted the Peace who had taught so much to the Goa’uld… And then had come Lords like Asi, whose reign gave way to Ra who flaunted and abused those governing codes. Clearly, despite lineage-kinship with Ba’al, Kanan took after the likeness of Ra.
“Do you trust him?”
Shallan needed no time to think it over. “No. Though I will tolerate him if that is your will.”
“For now,” Ba’al said with a nod. For a Goa’uld, there was only one tried-and-true method of determining loyalty: place them into a situation where the outcome is continent upon the presence or absence of loyalty. “I suspect the host will be of more use.”
“I agree,” Shallan said. A millennia ago, Ba’al had unearthed her, rescuing her from her prison. Imprisoned for losing the First Time War; the Second Time War, which had so decimated both the Daleks and the victors of the First Time War, had left her kind alone in a universe of lesser creatures…such as the ascendeds, Goa’ulds, Humans, and various sorts of ascendeds.. “That host has the greater value.
And once that was spoken, they moved to leave…leaving the planet unoccupied when Yu came to rain destruction upon this planet.
Standing beside the DHD, the play of color from the wormhole dancing on his face, Jack thought over what Ba’al had just offered him. Assist in a project which could topple the growing strength of resurgent Anubis and ensure stability in the galaxy. Damn tempting, Jack thought to himself; get rid of Anubis, then strike at the rest of the snakes. Hit’em from the inside.
On the other hand, Jack figured, how long’d I have to have this one in my head? That was definitely a good counterargument.
You are concerned about the wrong things, Kanan said.
Yes. We will assist Ba’al in this work, and use it to further the glory of the Tok’ra and the SGC. When Jack didn’t reply, Does this not provide sufficient motivation?
Taking that as refusal, We are going with Ba’al.
With typical Jack attitude, I thought you Tok’ra respected the wishes of the host.
We do. And I have considered your feelings -- we are going with Ba’al.
You hate the Goa’uld, and already have spent years of your life laboring against them. What Ba’al has on that planet is the very object we have both been searching for. Soon enough, the Goa’uld will be nothing more than an unpleasant memory… and to sweeten the pot, Only then will I leave your body.
Jack’s mind was still opposed – on principle or for some reason, Kanan didn’t care. Should you refuse, know this: you are powerless. Do not think of disobedience, Kanan instructed Jack, do not even contemplate it. I know all that you do, and I will utilize it. You value loyalty and comradery know that I can draw out your baser instincts – and generated an image in Jack’s mind, one which left no doubt as to its meaning. I care nothing for if it is or is not consensual – as you say, Jolinar is dead, so I have no reason to value that husk.
“Carter’s my friend!” Jack spat out, on the verge of growling at the damn snake.
Jack’s lips smiled for Kanan. Then we are understood: you will do well obeying.
Sensing Jack’s silence was not borne of acceptance or agreement, Kanan told him, Clearly I have not been clear to a sufficient degree. I know you. I have your mind at my literal disposal. I can speak with your voice, act with your movements and gestures entirely your own. I can alienate you, give your friends cause to hunt you. I can end your life a hundred times, and bring you back from each one.
Jack sighed. “You win,” at least for now.
Humans dig holes in the earth and haul their tools in. Goa’uld seized crevices and had their tools assemble themselves in that space. Ancients took a savanna and installed a mountain atop it. Gallifreyans made a tool, then wrapped it in a planet.
That is exactly what this was -- an artifact of when Gallifreyans had had their way with the universe, a tool pre-dating their winnowings. Archways and catwalks abounded within, none or few aiding by the Laws of Gravity. Walls provided their own illumination, no corner of this construct cast in shadow or darkness. Call this place the Structure.
“My lord,” Suzie said, lowering her eyes for a fraction of a second.
“Suzie,” Ba’al said, giving a nod of recognition. “What progress?”
“I have obtained the trust of Brigadier Ll,” now retired, but very influential in the circles I have need of, “and he has placed me within the organization formed to handle the Rift and alien technologies.”
“If the Rift has already opened on Earth,” Shallan said, “then our endeavors here have proven successful.”
Ba’al nodded. To Suzie, “By what name does this society answer to?”
“Torchwood,” Suzie said.
Shallen grinned, that wild smile endemic to the Gallifreyans, able to terrify lesser species. “Appropriate.”
To Ba’al, “Your advice?”
“I grant you to use your own discretion. Wield what you must. Rejoin us when you can.”
Dismissed, Suzie turned to look out at the Structure. It’s pillars strongly resembled the analogous items in TARDIS wreckage. Understandable, that.
“Contemplation?” Shallan asked her when Ba’al’s attention was diverted by a Jaffa delivering a report.
Suzie nodded. “Your people built amazing things.”
“To you,” Shallan said, “this is amazing; to me, this is what is left over.” Soon enough, this will be ready to be reactivated. “Find if your Brigadier knows the whereabouts of one ‘Sarah Jane Smith’”, that being one of the individuals her calculations informed her were required for the completion of the master plan. She would speak to her agents about the other one required – the Black Dalek. When Suzie nodded but made no move to leave, “Rest assured I will make sure you are present at the activation of this,” one hand gesturing at the Structure.
“Much appreciated,” Suzie said, looking down to the depths of the Structure, spying pinpricks of Rift flickering in and out of existence in the yawning cavernous spaces in it. “Soon enough,” she said, heard by none.
Having heard from the Jaffa what had occurred on this research-fortress planet, the image of it forming clearly in his minds’ eyes, Ba’al muttered to himself, “And the mountains melt away.” Clearly his actions were right – for had he not left gravity technologies behind him, and were those technologies not now destroyed?
AT THE SGC:
“It’s been a day since I gave the order to involve Yu in this,” General Hammond said as he sat at the debriefing table. If this situation doesn’t improve, there’s going to be a committee wanting answers -- and mine’s going to be the only head they take. “What do we have?”
Sam spoke first. “We just checked the fortress planet Kanan took Colonel O’Neill to. We’ve still got hurricane-force winds there.” What sort of a weapon generates super-hurricanes, and how common a weapon is it?
“The Tok’ra still haven’t transmitted any replies to our hails,” Jonas said.
“Even though we’re still holding Thoran?”
Jonas nodded. “They don’t seem to draw the line between ‘casualty’ and ‘lost’ where you do.”
“Thoughts, Major?” Hammond asked.
“Well, sir, we could try looking in all the known Tok’ra bases,” but that’d take too long. Jack’s counting on us. There has to be something else we can do.
“Yu’s attack succeeded,” Teal’c said, “in destroying Ba’al’s fortress.”
“So now what?” Jonas asked. “Based on past mission reports, I’m going to guess we wait for Colonel O’Neill to send us a signal of some sort.”
Hammond nodded. “As things stand, that’s all we can do.” He’s down, but we’re not about to count him as out.
The nearby hot springs afforded a breeze that took the bite off the predominant midwinter chill of this midsummer noonday beneath the Titan’s head of a brown dwarf. This moon had no official name, as it was not habitable all year long. And that was fine by Ba’al -- population transfers and wars of possession tended to be noticed by enemies. And whilst Shallan was unaffected by such things, he himself was not so fortunate.
As unfortunate as Kanan occupying one to whom Ba’al felt some obligation towards. The destruction of enemies was of good-sized value.
Kanan would slip up, he knew it. And when Kanan faltered, everything would be stripped from him.
And O’Neill would be free in the service of Ba’al.
All would be content as the fires of time burned away the dross of history past and future. Soon enough there would be a superior reality, one which would owe its existence to Ba’al, the Supreme System Lord who had never debased himself with thoughts of ascension.
Complexity can arise from simpler systems on its own, and from infusions by external systems. Unpleasing as the recollections were at times, the Peace were an unavoidable element of Goa’uld history; remove the Peace, and all of the heights attained by the use of genetic memory is unmade. And that was a better-case than some contemplated outcomes. Without the Goa’uld, so much of human diversity would vanish -- and if the Kek were unopposed, humans would become extinct. If the hydiru incursion had succeeded, all mammals would perish. Had the Ox!ox not been rendered incapable of delivering offense, there would not be yellow stars left in this galaxy.
For those reasons, Ba’al knew that caution and care was required of any who handled the Structure. Failure to do so . . . was best avoided.
Running one hand along the trailing edge of a coralline railing, Ba’al gazed into the heart of the Structure. I confess I do not fully understand it, his host said. So very much of this planet is machine, yet even without a core it has pockets of lava heating pools of water… which kept steaming as hot springs.
It is magic until it is understood, Ba’al said, believing the proverb from olden times. One day, we shall understand. Through understanding comes success. Success leads to prosperity, and that enjoins brilliance. The resulting boon makes so much more possible. Victories become assured and protectorates are assured of their security. Power multiplies and alliances grant greater tolerance.
And any systemic collapse is that much worse, increasing the odds of being unable to recover from death.
Yes, that is true, Ba’al granted. All the more reason to prevent failure from arising.
We have one major weak point thus far.
Shallan has exposed that, yes, and now she will rid us of the triple agent.
What do we do come the day when we can no longer trust Shallan?
Pray to the Rivening One that such a day never comes. The Rivening One, the ancestor who led the defeating of the Peace. That was the commonality behind every System Lord, the name by which their civilization swore their unbreakable oaths.
So I shall, and was silent for a time. One question remains: what fate will Kiannacyr and Malek possess in the realm we are enabling Shallan to make?
Malek. Unapologetically a Tok’ra, true, but one who had no dispute with Ba’al. One of the more tolerable of the terrorist ilk.
Kiannacyr, the daughter of Ba’al’s host. Kiannacyr, whose mind had been copied onto a blank-minded symbiote as a reward for a lifetime of meritorious service.
There shall be a place for them both, do not fear. At least for her.
Perhaps she will take a fancy to O’Neill.
There are so many things to remember, so very many things experienced already. Unas rebellions, Dalek ruins, Ori and Ancients struggling to crack the Skasis Code, suns swallowing planets, life under pulsar skies, Lotteries and births. A hundred faces, all hers.
And nothing but static appearing on the holographic screen. Shallan sighed as she continued to tweak the circulatory circuits of the Structure. I could have anticipated this, she thought to herself; the neural wiring which allow for resurrection would intervene in these recall devices.
“Llluucy,” called Jack O’Neill’s voice as Kanan strode into this chamber, his every move reflecting his supreme confidence in a very Jack stride. “How fares it?” he asked Shallan.
“Well enough,” she answered. As Kanan came closer, “Did you come here for a reason, or simply to harass me?”
He grinned. “I don’t harass.” Harry folks, sure. “Remind me, did I ever tell you how cute you are?”
“Once. You were a Tok’ra at the time.”
“And I meant it.”
“You do not simply lie: you tell untruths.”
“My loyalty’s a flexible thing, not arguing that. Join me. Be my queen.”
Silent and unable to stop Kanan, Jack felt nowt but disgust at the snake. Increased disgust than the level he’d reached earlier.
Shallan said, “Queenship’s not a thing for you to offer.”
“Really?” Kanan asked. “Whose is it to dispense, if not the one who’ll soon enough rule the universe?”
You understand nothing of what this is intended to do -- no surprise. “For those who grasp concepts - i.e. continuity and allegiance.”
“Then swear loyalty to me,” two body-lengths away now.
Shallan stood. “Swear fealty to me, and I may be humoured to let you yet live,” knowing his reaction would be ‘no.’
Utilizing Jack’s pith and mockery, “Why would I do that? You are not Goa’uld.”
“’Goa’uld’ simply means ‘those who rule.’ I am Gallifreyan, the race who ruled this universe for far longer than any other save one,” for the Skasis never became extinct. “Submit, Kanan progeny of Ba’al, or be gone.”
True to her mental calculations, Kanan took another step closer. “As my queen or as my slave, you will step aside. The Structure is mine.”
“I will not step aside,” Shallan said. “But I will turn it on.”
A prideful smirk. “Good.” Eyes glowing, “You learn quickly.” Certainly faster than this host.
Pressing the lobe responsible for this portion of the structure -- isolated from the rest of it -- she activated the chamber-filling beam of rarified energy.
Kanan froze, paralyzed, as his biology betrayed him. Even Tok’ra required a modicum of control over a host -- to feed, breathe, basics such as those, under the radar of conscious minds. The Structure had been built with systems designed to destroy the motor-controlling sections of brains.
Shallan collapsed atop Jack. As she breathed, spare energies - produced as her body attempted a token repair of her - soaked into Jack, deleting the remaining consciousness of that symbiote utterly.
“Ow,” Jack said when it was all over.
Shallan looked him right in the eyes. “What will you do now, Jack O’Neill?”
“All hail King Bocce. Can I go now?”
“Yes,” she said, considering him. “Not by the stargate, as that has been disassembled. Use the Rift,” now that I have opened it.
“You mean…that thing?” pointing over the side of the sidewalk. She nodded. “Let me guess, its like falling asleep?”
“No. It is like,” and fell silent, rolling them. Now Jack was on top. “Relativistic movement,” nodding, pleased at the comparison.
“Get off of me.”
Nodding, Jack got up and offered her a hand. She just curled into a sitting posture, watching him. Jack looked to one side, peering down at the rippling motions that the air was making beneath the sidewalk-bridge that he stood on. “It’s not just heat waves?” It moved like sunlight on the water, like desert air above the flat ground.
“It is assuredly not. And, with equal assurance, be certain that we will meet again.”
“Looking forwards to it,” and he took a deep breath and – Going to get home – and stepped off the bridge. He hit the ripples before he thought he would, and his lungs filled with country air at that same moment, followed a moment later by his chest striking soft grassy ground.
When he regained his breath, Jack pushed himself to
his feet, and saw the sign. “Well, not Kansas.” Written in
two languages, one line read Welcome to Cardiff.
Challenge: In Abyss - what about Kanan? What if, instead of just taking off with O'Neill's body, he asked him nicely if they could go rescue his girlfriend? O'Neill says yes--you know how he is about leaving people behind, and when you add Kanan's emotional attachment to her (which O'Neill would feel as his own) I can't see him refusing. Is O'Neill's military experience enough to get them in and out safely when added to Kanan's familiarity with the complex? If so, does the whole experience make him change his mind about the Tok'ra, maybe even consenting to be Kanan's host permanently? If so, how does this affect his relationship with Carter, keeping in mind that the Lo'taur looks an awful lot like her and Kanan loves her to some degree (which Jack feels as much as Kanan does, the two of them having a true blending)? How do Tok'ra love matches work out if both host and symbiote have prior attachments? If Jack and Kanan do end up getting captured by Ba'al, how does that change things? How does Ba'al react? How do Daniel and Kanan relate? What do Jack and Kanan talk about (or avoid talking about) in between bouts of torture?