TITLE: Clones Reviews
DISCLAIMER: All publicly recognisable characters and places are the
property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret Productions. This piece
of fan fiction was created for entertainment only and not monetary purposes
and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Any similarity
to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
SUMMARY: SG-1 has been cloned and their bodies are unstable. They need to find
out what has happened and undo it before it is too late.
CHARACTERS: SG-1, others
WARNINGS: Character deaths, but not permanent
SPOILERS: SG-1 season 10, SGA season 4
AUTHORS NOTES: * denotes thoughts or symbiote/host communication.
"Do you have any idea what it does?" Sheppard asked Zelenka. They, together with McKay, looked at a large, rather strange-looking device which they had recently found during their routine explorations of the many unknown parts of the Ancient city, Atlantis.
"Well, we have not yet ascertained...," Zelenka started to say, but McKay quickly interrupted.
"What he is trying to say is that he doesn't have any idea what it is or does. However, I've been studying it long enough to be fairly certain that it was used in the Ancients quest for ascension, more specifically, I believe it is a device used to determine how close to ascending an individual is."
Zelenka glared at him and looked as if he was about to say something, when Lt. Col. Samantha Carter entered the room. She had been assigned to Atlantis in place of Dr. Weir who had recently been injured. She walked closer and had just started to greet them, when the strange device immediately sprang to life and began making beeping noises.
"Weird," McKay mumbled and went to look at the device's control panel. "It never did that before."
Sam and Zelenka both tried to get a look at the panel, but McKay did not move to allow them the space. He felt vaguely insulted that the Ancient device had behaved in a way he had not anticipated and wanted to be the one to explain it. Since no revolutionary ideas was immediately forthcoming, he soon moved a little to the side and allowed the others to look also.
15-20 minutes of discussion and prodding the machine, did not bring either of them any enlightenment.
"Colonel Carter," Sheppard finally said, after having watched the 3 people struggle in vain to understand the workings of the apparatus. "If you don't mind, I'd like to drag you away from that contraption for a short while - you have a briefing in...well, now!" He smiled at her.
"Sorry...of course." Sam said sheepishly, embarrassed that the Ancient device had made her forget normal etiquette. She looked longingly at the beckoning machine for a short moment, and then followed Sheppard out of the room.
Sam was kept very busy in the following days. There was much on Atlantis she needed to familiarize herself with and there was always something that she needed to do. Thus, she did not have nearly as much time to look at the newly found machine as she would have liked - or to work on any other scientific gadget for that matter. Sometimes she regretted accepting the posting here at Atlantis, missing her old team and the missions with them, but mostly she found the Ancient outpost fascinating.
Zelenka and McKay were working on the device, but not full time. They did, however, determine that it did not react to anyone else in the way it had to Sam. Several weeks of work went by without much success, until one evening when McKay came storming into a lab where Sam was currently talking to Zelenka.
"I know how it works," McKay flustered. "I was right, at least partly. It's a sort of...'DNA-ascendometer'. Where the ascendometer we already know is a device used to analyze neural activity in the brain and determine if the synaptic activity is at a level required for ascension, this machine is used to measure how far along the evolution an individuals DNA is. It appears to also measure if there's any damage to the DNA which could hinder ascension."
Sam looked slightly confused. "Does that mean I'm closer to ascending than the rest of you? I don't even have the Ancient gene."
McKay's expression changed. He now looked a bit worried. "No, I think it means the machine has detected some sort of damage to your DNA, but I am not sure what precisely. If you will follow me, I believe I can make a scan of you and then record it. I have asked Doctor Keller to take a look at the readings and see if she can make any sense of them. "
Sheppard, Sam, McKay, Zelenka and Dr. Keller were in the infirmary.
"What!", Sam exclaimed. "Are you saying I'm a clone?"
"Yes," Dr. Keller said. "And that is, unfortunately, not all. I'm sorry, but not only are you a clone, but it would appear the cloning process was defective, whether intentionally or not. The clone will not continue to be viable."
Sam now looked worried. "You mean I'm not gonna live! That's just my rotten luck. An unviable clone! Isn't there anything you can do?"
"No," Dr. Keller said, looking apologetic. "This is far above our technological level..."
"How long until it - I, becomes...too unstable?"
"I can't be sure, but less than a year...there also seems to be some deliberate tampering to your brain, which the Ancient device was able to detect."
"How could all of this have escaped detection? When was it done? By whom?" Sam demanded.
"The evidence would not be detected by coincidence, at least not until the degradation process had run a bit further. I only found the errors because I knew some of what to look for. As for the tampering of the brain...can you see this area?" Dr. Keller turned a computer monitor to show them all a scan of Sam's brain. "When I zoom in on it, everything looks normal on the surface, but the 'DNA-ascendometer' indicated that something was not as it should be, and upon further study I found this." She clicked a few times and the computer now showed what looked like a small, organic device in the brain. "I don't believe this will ever do anything until a signal somehow activates it from the outside. I have no idea how long it has been there - it could be days, months, or even years - or who has put it there, but I'm fairly certain it must have happened at the same time the clone was created."
"So nothing in my brain - or in my memory was actually changed?" Sam asked.
"No," Dr. Keller said. "As I said, nothing is changed until an outside signal is received. This also means there's no false memories to find for a..." She searched for the word, "...a zatarc detection test - that would not work until after the signal had already been sent and the activation and re-programming of the brain had happened. Any memories the "original" might have had of being captured and cloned, would just be memories the clone-creators could avoid transferring. I don't know what would have happened if you had received the signal."
"You'd perhaps have attempted to assassinate someone? Sabotage some vital installation, function as a spy, unknowingly sending information to whomever did this?" McKay suggested.
Dr. Keller nodded. "Yes, if what I've read about the zatarcs is true, then that could certainly be the case." She turned to Sam. "And as you know, you wouldn't know anything before it happened."
*Damn,* Sam thought. *Not only am I a clone - a clone that is slowly disintegrating, but I'm also a zatarc just waiting to be triggered. This is just not my day.* She suddenly imagined she could feel something in her brain at the point Dr. Keller had shown her. Knowing it was most likely her imagination she ignored it and focused on what the others were saying.
Sheppard looked thoughtful. "The most likely suspects would be the Trust. They've been trying to sabotage Atlantis for quite a while and may have known Colonel Carter was coming here...Carter, have anything happened to you recently? Like being captured long enough to have you cloned and your memory copied?"
Sam sighed. "Well, not that I remember, but after what Dr. Keller has said, I realise that doesn't mean much. How long would they need to complete the process?"
"It's difficult to say, but if they somehow had access to something like the Asgard technology or maybe Ancient technology, then perhaps as little as an hour. The rapid growth that would have been needed for the clones would also explain some of the instabilities in you now."
"I'm sorry, Colonel Carter, but I'll have to keep a guard on you until we hopefully find a way to reverse this," Sheppard said. "Try to make a list of all the times you remember having been captured long enough for this to happen, even years ago."
"Yes, of course." Sam thought about it for a moment. "In fact, it might be better if I return to Earth and work from there. I agree it's most likely Atlantis that's the target. I'll contact Stargate Command and ask them to have copies of the relevant reports ready for me when I return...for comparison with what I remember. Perhaps I can determine when this happened."
"Colonel, it might be a good idea to scan the rest of SG-1 also and maybe all the SG teams, to see if they're affected. Since we don't know who did this or when, there could very well be others." Dr. Keller said.
"Yes, of course. I'd like to bring the 'DNA-ascendometer' with me. It should make the testing process much easier."
The Ancient device were loaded unto a puddle jumper, which were to be piloted by Sheppard.
While it was unlikely Sam had received the activation signal since her examination - or would receive it beofre she could arrive safely at the SGC - it is always better to be safe than sorry. Thus, she was hand-cuffed and a security guard kept an eye on her for the whole trip, despite Sam's complaints.
Dr. McKay followed them to Earth to instruct Dr. Lam in the use of the DNA-ascendometer.
The trip was fortunately uneventful, and upon arrival Sam was escorted to her quarters where a guard was posted outside. She sighed deeply and sat down at a table, upon which the last many years of mission reports were waiting for her.
As Sam slowly worked her way through the reports, testing of the SG teams commenced. Several days later only two additional clones/zatarcs were found; Daniel Jackson and Teal'c. Lt. Col. Mitchell was clean.
This narrowed Sam's search to only the missions where she, Daniel, or Teal'c had been captured. Of course, it might not have happened at the same time, but it was at least reasonable to assume the same person or persons were responsible.
There were many possibilities and no way had yet been found to disable Sam, Teal'c, and Daniel's potential to turn into zatarcs. Therefore they were not allowed to go on missions, and SG-1 was broken up, much to their dismay.
Mitchell was assigned other, temporary members to his team, while Teal'c, Daniel, and Sam all were tasked with looking through old mission reports and working on coming up with a way to fix the defects in their cloned bodies.
The Tok'ra had been contacted and they assigned a couple of scientists to work toward a solution, since their zatarc research was further along than that of the Tau'ri.
A couple of weeks later the Tok'ra contacted SGC with a temporary solution. They had found a drug which hindered the organic devices in the brains of Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c from reacting to an outside signal for as long as they took a weekly injection.
They could now safely go off world again, and search for answers to the problem on other planets. Since neither of them had any symptoms of the degeneration as of yet, they were allowed back on active duty for the time being.
Dr. Lam was not happy with this, but agreed grudgingly. Her only unalterable demand was that they check in with her regularly. Accepting this, they were given permission to go through the Stargate again, much to their relief.
Even though the Orici Adria had ascended and the Ori themselves presumably were all killed, there was still the matter of their followers,who had not given up and who still had sizable forces. Since there were also various other minor players - like the Lucien Alliance - in the galaxy now when most of the major Goa'ulds were gone, this meant that no other SG teams could be spared to help Daniel, Teal'c, and Sam.
Unfortunately, after they had spent a few weeks searching unsuccessfully for a cure, Teal'c started showing symptoms of his body degenerating. Much to his dismay, he began getting weak and tired. Knowing it would only be a matter of time before the same happened to the others, Landry decided they would spend their time better trying to find a solution while on base and they returned to SGC.
Sam was now home in her laboratory, and back at trying to solve a problem that had suddenly become significantly more pressing. She had started thinking about when they were stranded on the Odyssey, living a large part of a lifetime in the Asgard temporal distortion field. Since none of them had suffered any ill effects during that period - something which Teal'c had reluctantly informed them - the field must obviously have had an affect on them.
Sam hoped it was possible to find out precisely what part of the field protected them from breaking down and hopefully isolate it. Keeping them forever in a temporal distortion field was of course not an option, since they would not be able to interact with their surroundings. It really was extremely unfortunate that the Asgard had committed mass suicide when they had realised there were no longer any hope for their race's survival. They would most likely have been able to help Sam and the others.
2 weeks later.
"Lieutenant Colonel Carter, Doctor Jackson, and Teal'c, please report to the briefing room," the speaker system boomed.
When they entered the room, Dr. Lam and General Landry were already there. Wondering why Mitchell and Vala were not there, Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c sat themselves around the table and looked expectantly at Landry.
"We are still waiting for one participant to arrive before this meeting can begin". As soon as Landry had said that, the door opened and General Jack O'Neill entered the room, looking very tired and pale.
"General," Sam looked a bit confused, "we are surprised...but happy of course...to see you."
"Please have a seat, Jack", General Landry said, "as you know, we have much to discuss."
O'Neill sat down between Sam and Dr. Jackson.
"Are you all right, Jack?" Daniel looked worriedly at the General.
"No," O'Neill merely replied, very tiredly.
Landry started the meeting. "As we have known for some time, Lieutenant Colonel Carter, Doctor Jackson, and Teal'c are clones, but what's news to us is that so is General Jack O'Neill."
At this, several surprised sounds could be heard around the table.
"Yes," O'Neill said, "I'm also a damn clone. I started feeling sick some weeks ago, and the doctor's couldn't tell me anything, except that my body was falling apart. A few days ago I ran into General Landry, and when he heard about my problems he told me about you guys."
Landry looked at O'Neill, "Yes, it sounded like too much of a coincidence, so I had Doctor Lam take a look at him. She can confirm that General O'Neill is indeed a clone, just like the rest of you. He's also had the same tampering done to his brain. We've started him on the same treatment as you're on."
"Carter, I was told you've been trying to figure out when all this happened, and which scumbag did it," O'Neill said. "Any success? Because otherwise it seems we're all gonna be out of time, soon."
"Sorry, sir," Sam looked down at her papers, "I still have a handful of possibilities, but none that would explain both you and Teal'c - nor have we been able to come up with a way of repairing the errors from the cloning process. If the Asgard were still alive, they might've been able to help us..."
"Yes...didn't my old buddy, Thor give you all this neat stuff...all their knowledge?"
"Well, they installed some of their technology on the Odyssey, but most of their knowledge is hidden in the enormous amounts of data we got from them. There's no way we could translate and go through all that in less than a century! The only thing we've found that appears to be useful is the Asgard time distortion field. None of us deteriorated further while inside it, so it must somehow have protected us, but since we can't stay inside one of those forever - not being able to interact with the outside being a real downside to it - there's little help in that..."
"So we're basically screwed?" O'Neill said, "Carter? Hey!"
Sam looked up, seemingly from far away. "Sorry, sir. I was just thinking...maybe there is a way to find out when we were cloned. I can't believe I didn't think of that before!"
"What?" O'Neill demanded, "...don't keep us waiting, what's your brilliant plan?"
"Blood and tissue samples! I know the labs have been keeping them for years, maybe even since the very first missions we were on. With what we now know, we should be able to detect exactly when we were cloned!"
After much work, they were able to pinpoint exactly when Teal'c had been cloned.
"It happened almost 6 years ago, when Teal'c was captured by Apophis and made to believe he was again the trusted First Prime." Sam said. "Apparently that's not all that happened...the Teal'c that returned to us was actually a clone."
"So the real one could still be out there?" Daniel asked.
"Not likely," Teal'c stated stoically. "If the real me was indeed aboard Apophis's mothership, then I...he, was likely killed when the ship, Apophis, and the replicators all crashed into the planet."
"No other possibilities?" O'Neill looked at Sam.
"Well, I suppose it's possible that he was put in an escape pod and got away in the same way as Tanith did - who could then later have retrieved Teal'c in the hopes of gaining some favour with a new master. I does, however, sound as a bit of a long shot. It also means we've got no idea were to look for him, even assuming he's still alive."
"As for the rest of us," Sam continued, "we were all already clones before this incident. I would, however, assume that it's most likely also Apophis who cloned the rest of us. He mustn't have had the opportunity to clone Teal'c, when he did the rest of us."
"Does this mean you know when we were cloned," O'Neill sounded hopeful.
"Yes, I'm almost certain it must have happened when we were on Netu."
"Aah, Hell!" O'Neill grumbled.
The blood samples had been examined, and the theory of Netu had been confirmed. They were again all assembled in the briefing room.
"So," Landry said, "I understand that you at last have some success in solving this clone-problem?"
"Yes," O'Neill acknowledged, "we're the clones from Hell."
"What Jack actually means," Daniel added, "is that he, Sam, and I were likely cloned while being prisoners on Netu - a moon which the Goa'uld Sokar had transformed into resembling Hell. We were each separated from the others for a period of time, while Apophis interrogated us. He certainly had the opportunity to do this."
"Yes," Sam agreed, "we were given the 'Blood of Sokar' - a drug which made us hallucinate to a degree that neither of us was totally sure of what had actually happened. He might very well have cloned us, altered our brains, and prepared us for becoming zatarcs without anyone being able to tell...our memories were simply too messed up."
"What about you then, Teal'c?" Landry wondered, "didn't Apophis clone you too?"
"Indeed. He most likely did, but not at that time as I was never on Netu. I - he, was cloned almost 1 1/2 years later, when he was a captive on Apophis's mothership and I was then led to believe I was still Apophis's loyal First Prime."
"I see. Do you have any idea if the 'real' yous are still out there somewhere? - and, if so, where?" Landry asked.
"No, sir," Sam thought for a while, "...but it may well be worth it to take a look around Sokar's old palace on Delmak."
"Why Delmak?" Landry looked confused, "I thought you said you were prisoners on Netu?"
"Yes," Sam explained, "we were. However, Netu were blown up by the Tok'ra moments after we escaped. Apophis survived by transporting to the nearby planet, Delmak, where Sokar had his palace. We have to hope that he somehow managed to have the 'real us' transported there with him...if not - well, then I guess...this time we really ARE out of luck."
"He would have attempted to do just that," Teal'c said "if he believed he could gain some advantage by doing so...or perhaps just for the pleasure of torturing us to death - repeatedly."
"Sweet," O'Neill grumbled, "so the 'real us' were either blown up by the snakeheads...eh, Tok'ra or tortured to death by Apophis...so what, we just give up and die?"
"No," Sam said, "we should at the very least go to Delmak and take a look, he may not have killed them...us...whatever...or perhaps we'll find a way to stabilize our bodies. To us, personally, that would absolutely be preferable."
"At least we know there's no risk of any of us turning into a zatarc now, since Apophis is long dead." Daniel looked hopeful.
"Well, yes, that is probably true," Sam said, "given that the activation hadn't happened to any of us in the many years since Apophis captured us, and the fact that Apophis is dead...I think it's unlikely we're in any danger from that. Of course, someone could know about it and still be waiting around to activate us, but I think it's highly unlikely."
Teal'c looked at Sam, "I find it strange that Apophis did not try to activate any of us while he was alive."
A somewhat pained expression showed on Sam's face.
"I believe he may have done just that. I don't know if you remember, but Martouf was with us on the mission to Netu and he too was alone with Apophis for a while. The Martouf that returned with us might very well have been a clone too, and as you know, he was a zatarc."
"How could Apophis have known about the alliance between Earth and the Tok'ra that long in advance? Didn't more than a year go by between us going to Hell and the zatarc-incident?" O'Neill wondered.
"Yes," Sam said, "but as we just talked about, we believe that all the clones were 'pre-programmed' to become zatarcs and just needed a signal containing the target, to activate them...they didn't need to know the target at the time of the programming..."
"Yes, of course," O'Neill shook his head, "I feel like my head has been hit by a Goa'uld mothership. I really hope we find a solution to this very soon."
"Something else just hit me," Sam said, "Dad and Selmak were most likely also clones. That explains why Selmak died, apparently of old age, when she was only a couple of thousand years old. That is still very young for a symbiote and I know for sure that she had expected to live for many more years. I clearly remember, when she talked to Dad before they blended...she said something about needing to know if she liked him, since she would be spending a hundred or more years with him...in the months after they died, I often felt that something did not make sense."
"I think we still have some blood samples from Jacob Carter, but I don't know if we have any from his symbiote. I will go check immediately." Dr. Lam looked over at Landry.
"Yes, that's a good idea. Dismissed." Dr. Lam got up and left the room. "The rest of you should take a break and get something to eat, then we'll reconvene when we have more information."
Later, when Dr. Lam had her results, they were all called back to the briefing room. She looked at her papers and started.
"Colonel Carter, I can confirm your suspicions. Jacob Carter was indeed a clone. I also managed to find a sample from Selmak, and she too was cloned."
"With that confirmed I think we can say that Apophis is the one responsible, and I think we should go to Delmak immediately to see if there is anything we can learn."
"And hopefully, we can either find the 'real us' or fix these 'copies', right Carter?" O'Neill asked, hopeful.
Before Sam had a chance to reply, Daniel asked, "By the way, let's say we do find the 'original us', what then? Do we just let them go back and continue our lives for us or what?"
"Well," Sam said, "obviously I can't really answer that. I guess, if we...they, are still alive then maybe we can find a way to transfer our memories to them...sort of 'updating' them."
"Do we even have the right to do that?" Daniel asked. "Shouldn't they be allowed to choose what they want? We can't just treat them like...like machines in need of a software-update!"
"They're us, we're them, what's the problem?" O'Neill said. "When do we leave?"
"I don't think you should be going anywhere, General. You are sicker than the others and I would prefer that you stayed here where I can keep an eye on you." Dr. Lam pointed out.
"I will not accept that," O'Neill said angrily. "My life is on the line here, so I'll make that decision."
"I agree," Sam looked at Landry. "We should all go. If we do manage to find the 'original' us, and if we decide it's possible to transfer our current memories to them, then we'll need all four of us."
"I'll need to speak with my superiors about this," said Landry. "I'll let you know as soon as I get an answer. Dismissed."
The next day, O'Neill, Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c were given permission to go ahead with the mission, and soon left for Delmak, after Dr. Lam had given them a last check-up. Unfortunately, this confirmed their bodies were degenerating at an increasing speed, making the mission even more urgent.
After sending a MALP through the Stargate to Delmak, they could confirm no resent activity in the vicinity of the gate, and headed out.
The planet was a mess. It was clear a battle must have taken place there, but that it was several years ago. As they walked through the ruined buildings and general devastation towards Sokar's old palace, they realised the place was totally deserted, except for the wild animals.
"I don't know if this is a good or a bad sign," Daniel sighed. "I mean, I'm glad there's no one here to attack us, but it doesn't seem very likely anyone would still be alive if they were left in a prison cell...so, it's not to be negative or anything, but..."
"No," O'Neill agreed, "and that would just be my type of luck, but maybe they were held somewhere else? I guess we could at least get some information."
"We should prepare for the most likely case that they are long since dead - having been tortured to death and revived a thousand times by Apophis or his minions. If that is indeed what has happened, then it is better they are no longer alive, for they would surely long since have turned as evil as the Goa'uld themselves from the repeated exposure to the sarcophagus." Teal'c noted gloomily.
"Hey, thanks for the encouragement," O'Neill said. "but I'm not ready to accept that yet, if ever."
"Everything could have looked much worse," Sam observed.
"How," Daniel wondered, "could it be worse?"
"Well," Sam said, "don't you remember? Apophis and a ship full of replicators crashed on this planet. We're very lucky that it was on the other side of the planet and not on top of Sokar's palace...and that none of the replicators survived."
O'Neill grumbled something about not tempting fate by talking about such things and thereafter they continued walking in silence for a while.
Suddenly Sam stopped and listened.
"What was that?"
"I didn't hear anything." O'Neill was not feeling well and just wanted to continue on to the palace.
"I hear something from in there," she pointed at a larger building which still seemed to have some structural integrity.
"I hear it too," Teal'c said, "a scratching sound...perhaps an animal."
They carefully moved closer, trying to be as quiet as possible. The scratching noise grew louder. Having now reached the doorway, Teal'c snuck inside with his weapon at the ready in front of him. A shadow moved in the back of the room and disappeared behind some rubble.
"There is something in here," Teal'c informed them. "It is hiding in that corner." He pointed towards the fallen stones.
O'Neill signaled to Teal'c they should walk around the rubble and attack it from both sides, before he started sneaking towards the hidden creature. Suddenly, there was a fierce growl and a huge, miserably looking dog jumped O'Neill and started ripping his pockets to shreds.
"Help!" he yelled, "it's eating me - why don't you shoot it?"
"It would appear to be harmless, O'Neill," Teal'c said. "It is merely hungry and is trying to get to the energy bars you carry in your pockets."
Realising this was correct, Daniel and Sam started laughing.
"Are no one going to help me?" O'Neill said with indignation in his voice. "Are you just gonna leave me at the mercy of this voracious beast?"
Still laughing, the others started to drag the dog away. Since it had by now eaten all of the energy bars it did not seem to be interested in O'Neill anymore and quickly ran off on its own.
"Sorry, sir." Sam went over to O'Neill and helped him to slowly get up on his feet again. "Are you OK?"
"Yeah, I think so. Let's go on and get this over with."
They continued along the road for about an hour before they finally reached the palace. From time to time they spotted the dog as it skulked around among the ruins and the vegetation. It was clearly following them, but always kept a distance.
Having arrived at the palace, they opened the large doors and entered the courtyard. Crossing it, they went into the building itself and started looking around. This place was just as deserted as the rest of the planet they had seen - and it was huge! It was going to take a long time for them to go through the place looking for something, anything that might help them. Unfortunately, O'Neill looked much worse now, as did Teal'c - and the rest of them might start feeling the effect of their degrading bodies any time.
Many hours later.
It was now dark outside and they still had not found anything remotely useful. Even Teal'c looked tired.
"OK," O'Neill said. "There's nothing here. Do anyone have any other bright ideas - or are we just going home to die now?"
Sam looked defeated. "I don't have any other ideas, this..."
"Wait," she was interrupted by Daniel, who had been looking at a tapestry. Suddenly he had noticed something just beside it. "I think there is something here..."
Teal'c walked over to him.
"You may be right, Daniel Jackson. Perhaps a hidden door to a secret area?"
Again hopeful, they continued touching and searching along the edges of the tapestry for a while. Suddenly, there was a grinding sound as part of the wall slid aside and opened up to reveal another room.
"Nice." O'Neill walked first into the room and looked around. "Figures. Just our luck. It's empty."
"Except for these." Daniel pointed to the rings set into the floor.
"Yes, except for those." O'Neill grinned a little. "Carter, activate them, will you?"
She walked over to the control panels as the others positioned themselves inside of the rings. Sam quickly joined them and they were transported down into another chamber.
Looking around, O'Neill spotted a door and started towards it. Opening it, he saw a long corridor.
"Come on guys, we have a Goa'uld dungeon to explore!"
"Colonel Carter," Teal'c called, "you may wish to see this. I believe it may be of some importance."
"Yeah, no kidding!" She looked inside the room.
"What is it, Carter?" O'Neill asked from a few meters behind them.
"A lab - and a very large and sophisticated one at that. I think we may have found what we were looking for."
The laboratory was huge, with various strange-looking apparatuses, which they very carefully began to examine.
"Eh, Sam, I think I touched something I shouldn't have..." Daniel looked worriedly at a large machine as it started humming and panels started lighting up. He quickly hit a couple of other buttons to shut it off, but this just made a strange, purplish smoke or steam begin to emit from a chamber in the back.
Sam and the two others quickly ran over to where Daniel was standing, reaching him just as he made a choking noise and fainted.
"The gas seems to be poisonous," Teal'c remarked , as he and O'Neill bent down, grabbed Daniel and started to pull him out of the room.
Meanwhile, Sam desperately tried to find out how to turn off the stream of noxious smoke, while trying not to breathe too much of it in. When she finally succeeded, she was close to collapsing. Slowly, she half-crawled, half-staggered out of the room. Just before she became unconscious, she saw O'Neill, Teal'c, and Daniel lying on the floor in the corridor, unconscious or worse.
Several hours later.
Daniel slowly woke up. Just opening his eyes was an almost insurmountable task and when he finally succeeded he immediately regretted it and closed them again. Even the relatively faint light of the corridor was hurting.
Slowly, very slowly he got up on his knees and weakly called out for someone, anyone who might still be alive.
"Jack? Teal'c? Sam?"
He heard a faint groan from some distance away and then...
"Daniel?" It was Sam's voice! At least he was not the only one still among the living. "Are you all right, Daniel?" She sounded very worried.
"No...I'm not all right, but I'm alive. Not sure about Teal'c and Jack, though. What about you?"
Sam managed to stand on wobbly legs, supporting herself against a nearby wall. "My eyes hurts like hell and my legs can barely carry me...oh, and my head hurts worse than any hangover I've ever had. Apart from that, I'm just fine." The fog in her head slowly lifted and she stumbled over to where O'Neill and Teal'c were still lying. "They are alive, but unconscious," she said, the relief obvious in her voice. "There isn't anything I can do to help them right now...I think maybe I should try and look around the lab some more - hopefully I can find some way to help them or, at the very least determine what was in the gas." She looked at her watch, "we're several hours overdue. When General Landry didn't hear anything from us, he probably sent reinforcements...Daniel, could you try and make contact on the radio...ask for medical assistance, if possible. In any case, they should be trying to reach us again in just under 10 minutes."
"OK, Sam." Daniel had now also managed to stand, and his eyes were open - at least a bit.
He had dropped his radio when he fainted in the laboratory, so instead of going to find that, he took the radio from O'Neill and started to try and contact any team that might have been sent to rescue them.
Meanwhile, Sam went back in to the laboratory. The smoke had now been cleaned out, probably by some sort of automatic air filtration system. Soon she had managed to get one of the computers in the lab up and running and she was looking through a file when Daniel returned.
"I talked to Landry. When they didn't hear from us, they tried to send a MALP through. It was destroyed seconds after emerging from the wormhole by some sort of automated defense system...probably tacluchnatagamuntorons...unless we can shut it down from here, they can't send help and we can't leave through the Stargate."
Sam looked at him, suddenly feeling even more tired. "We probably activated it by...something we did in here. Oh, well. Time to worry about that later...if there is a later."
Daniel just nodded and let himself slide down to the floor, resting against the wall. He felt more tired than he could ever remember feeling before...and his head was hurting so bad it felt like it might explode. Sam went back to looking at the computer screen and Daniel fell into a dreamless sleep.
Daniel had no idea how long he had been out, but he was awakened by Sam, shaking him gently.
"OK, OK. I'm awake - unfortunately. Why don't you just let me sleep in peace?" He looked a Sam. She appeared worse than he felt, which would be some accomplishment.
"I have tried - unsuccessfully - to wake up the others. They're still alive, but unconscious," she said. "The good news is that I now know what the gas was and why it affected us as it did. The bad news is that it has caused our condition to deteriorate significantly and the worsening is accelerating. We probably have a couple of hours...at most...O'Neill and Teal'c most likely have significantly less."
"Yeah, I kind of figured," Daniel grimaced. "So, what is the gas, what did it do...or don't I want to know?"
"Well," Sam said, looking unhappily at the machine which had unleashed the smoke. "From what I've found on the computer, it appears to have been designed to exploit the errors created by the accelerated growth of the cloned bodies. They might have used it both to give their clones a limited lifespan and to kill someone outright if they woke up too early and realised what happened. Their creators didn't want them to have any memory of being in here - they wanted the clones to believe they were the 'real thing', and without having to suppress any part of their memories, since that might be discovered. Oh, by the way. I found out who did this to us. The lab originally belonged to Sokar, but Apophis was the one who got us cloned, just as we surmised. Tanith seems to later have continued using the place."
"Wonderful," Daniel groaned. "Even after he is dead, Apophis continues to haunt us. By the way, why did he want the clones to have a short lifespan?"
Sam thought about this for a while. "I don't know for sure, but I guess he most likely just didn't want any part of his enemies to survive...sort of his way of 'cleaning up'. Besides, he had probably expected to send us the activation signal and turn us into zatarcs long before the clones died. I suppose we should consider ourselves 'lucky' Apophis was killed before he did that to all of us. I don't even want to think about what could have happened."
Daniel nodded tiredly and leaned back against the wall, again feeling himself slip into unconsciousness. Faintly, as from very far away, he heard Sam say something, but he could not manage to wake up enough to understand what it was. Sam sighed and gave up on trying to wake Daniel. Having made sure he was alive and stable, she returned to the computer console.
She had not found a way to reverse the damage to them, if there even was one, but she had found something else which might turn out to be just as good. According to the computer, some of the people that had been cloned were still alive, being kept in stasis! Presumably, either Apophis or Tanith would have had something nefarious in mind for them, but had not had the time to put their plan to work.
There were 22 entries in the database file - the number of individuals cloned by either Apophis or Tanith. Aside from various other information, each entry was also marked as either 'original is dead' or 'original is in stasis'.
She quickly scrolled through the first 7 entries who were all labeled 'dead'. Thankfully, she did not know any of them...then her gaze fell on the name 'Jack O'Neill'...she almost did not dare check...but finally had to...he was marked as 'in stasis'! She sent a silent 'thank you' to whatever deities might be watching over them and then fearfully continued the task of going through the list.
If there was a system to it, she had yet to find it - the entries did not appear to be ordered by date or anything. Some minutes later she had reached number 15 and had found all of SG-1...and all were labeled as 'in stasis'...great! Finally some good luck!
She considered going through the rest of the database when she felt a wave of dizziness wash over her and was reminded of how little time they had left. Anything else would have to wait. She still needed to find out where the stasis chambers were and if it was possible to transfer their memories to their 'original' bodies.
Not quite an hour later.
After much searching, and going through many files on the computers, Sam finally found what she was looking for...how to access the stasis chambers. They were located further underground in a number of small rooms, but could be accessed through one of the computer terminals.
There also was a system meant to transfer the memories from original to clone...as far as she could tell there was nothing to stop it from working in reverse. All she had to do now was getting everyone in here, connect them to the memory-transfer-device and program the system to awaken the originals after the transfer.
Well, 'all she had to do' was a relative term. She was quickly getting weaker, and so she immediately got started while she still had the strength.
Slowly, she dragged O'Neill and Teal'c into the room and over to the memory-transfer-device, almost fainting from the exhaustion.
She checked their vital signs. *Damn,* she thought, *they are almost dead.*
Quickly, she connected them to the device and started the memory transfer process. Having done this, she then walked over to where Daniel was sleeping and again started trying to wake him up.
"Daniel...DANIEL," she shook him hard.
"What's happening?" he finally muttered, sitting up slowly.
"Thank God you're awake," Sam said. "I don't think I could have dragged you too over to the device. I am so very tired..."
She stumbled and almost fell, leaning heavily on a table.
"Sam..." Daniel managed to get up and tried to support her, ending up falling towards the table himself. "Sorry, I'm not much help. I'm weak as a kitten."
Resting against the table, Sam quickly summarised what she had found out. Together, they managed to stagger over to the memory-transfer-device and Sam hooked up Daniel to it.
"What now?" Daniel asked.
"Now I connect myself to the device and program the system to awaken the 'real' us as soon as the transfer is complete for all of us."
She checked on O'Neill and Teal'c and paled. "Noo...they're dead!" She quickly looked over the read-outs for the memory-transfer-device. "Phew...it looks as if it just finished transferring everything to their 'real' selves, so they should wake up remembering everything." She suddenly looked very sad. "Still...it feels as if they're really gone, even though I know intellectually we'll - hopefully - have them back shortly..."
Suddenly, a scanning beam played over the still bodies of O'Neill and Teal'c followed by another beam, which disintegrated them. Both Sam and Daniel jumped in fear.
"That's a bit too effective, don't you think, Sam?"
"Yeah...well, I suppose it makes cleaning up a lot easier. Not very respectful, though...not that I'm surprised...if it really is Apophis or Tanith who are responsible for this, then..."
Daniel interrupted her, "Sam...I just thought of something. Will the zatarc programming not be transferred as well?" The extremely tired expression on Daniel's face was now rivalled by worry.
"No," Sam said. "It's not activated yet...right now we only have a quite small, organic device in our heads - there's been no changes to our memories. O'Neill and Teal'c will be fine, as will we, so there is nothing to worry about there...Daniel, you should put your radio on the table. I'll do the same. Most likely, the disruptor beam will remove both us and all our gear when we die, and we'll need radios, GDO, and such when we awake in our real bodies." She put her GDO and radio on the table and shook her head, "...what I said...it just sounded wrong in so many ways..."
She continued fiddling with the computer for a bit longer, but everything around her were quickly starting to fade and she had to use all her strength just to stay conscious.
"Damn. I can't concentrate enough to figure out how to tell this computer it should awaken the four of us and only us. I'm going to give it a general wake-up order for all the occupied stasis chambers...there are 7...when the memory transfer is complete...how bad can it be? I mean, at most we will wake up with 3 Goa'ulds! Daniel...are you there?"
She looked over at him, realising he had yet again become unconscious. She sighed, connected herself to the device and started the program that would awaken the occupants in the chambers when the transfer had completed. Finally she allowed herself to rest - her last conscious thought was a desperate hope that the three other occupied chambers did not contain anyone really hostile to them.
Sam awoke to the faint sounds of shuffling and angry voices. Feeling slightly disoriented, she stepped out of the chamber, trying to remember where she was. Daniel was standing just outside his chamber, looking nearly as confused as she felt.
"Sam...my memories are a bit...diffuse...I seem to remember us all being sick...dying?...but I feel fine now?"
"So do I...and why are we both wearing these ugly jumpsuits...by the way, where are Teal'c and O'Neill...and what's all the commotion about?"
She quickly looked around the small room. No one else was present, so she relaxed and started to slowly creep towards the doorway and the sounds beyond it. Having barely reached halfway to the door, she gasped and fell to the floor, grasping her head.
"I'm remembering...it's all coming back again..." Sam mumbled through the pain. Daniel did not hear her, since he was having the same experience.
Sam finally looked up at the person speaking. She gasped. This could not be true!
"Dad?" she asked, wanting to believe what her eyes told her, but not really daring to. She got up on her feet and ran to him, hugging him tightly. "Dad! I've missed you so much...I was certain I would never see you again..."
"Yeah...I too was a little worried that we might be finished when Sokar caught us...imagine my surprise when I wake up in a stasis chamber...by the way, what are you all doing here?...Sam, what's wrong?"
He looked at his daughter, who still would not let go of him and who was now crying softly. Her father was alive! She had not dared hope it, even after they had confirmed that the Selmak and Jacob who died were clones.
"Dad...it's a very long story..." she began.
Suddenly, Jacobs eyes glowed and Selmak came fore. "We look forward to hearing it, but right now we should go see if everyone is alright and then help Teal'c...when we came to he was fighting with a Goa'uld...I believe he called him Tanith...unfortunately we were still somewhat...groggy?...I believe Jacob calls it...and could not help him. Tanith escaped."
"What about Teal'c?" Daniel asked, now worried.
"...and O'Neill", Sam added.
"They are both unharmed, but they insisted on going after Tanith. O'Neill said you were here too, so we went to look for you. We should all join the search for the Goa'uld." Selmak gave control back to Jacob.
"Selmak's right, let's go help. We can talk later." He looked at Sam. "Will you be all right?"
She nodded. "Yes, dad." They all turned back towards the door.
*Selmak, I wonder what's happened? It's not like Sammie to react like that.*
*Perhaps they really thought we had died - we were captured, you know.*
*But surely not long enough ago that the Tok'ra or SGC would have had time to mount a rescue - certainly not long enough for them to have assumed us to be dead...*
*Are you sure? We were in stasis, remember? Theoretically, many years could have passed.*
*I don't think so! They certainly don't look any older than they did when we last saw them.*
*True. Never mind. There will be time to think about it later, Jacob. We should focus on catching the Goa'uld.*
While Jacob and Selmak had been talking, they, together with Sam and Daniel had left the room and walked down the corridor outside to a stairway, leading to the laboratory. It was a fairly long corridor, with openings into many other small rooms, all containing 2 stasis chambers. After climbing the stairs and entering the laboratory, Sam went directly to the nearest computer console, intent on trying to find out what had happened.
"Tanith appears to have had the system programmed to revive him first, should any of the stasis chambers be given a wake up order. Makes sense, I guess, he wouldn't want to be caught still in stasis by his enemies."
"Hello, Samantha...Daniel, Jacob."
They all turned towards the door.
"Martouf" Sam said, not believing her own eyes. "You're alive!" She took a few steps toward him, a few tears starting to run down her cheek. "I've...I've missed you so much..."
Daniel had been standing with his mouth slightly agape, but now seemed to find his voice again.
"Yes, we're very happy to see you alive...just a bit surprised, though...I suppose, we shouldn't be, all things considered."
*Lantash, what is going on here? Why are they so surprised at seeing us alive? And why is Samantha crying?*
*I have no idea, but we should go to her and comfort her.*
"We are both alive and well, and quite happy to see you."
They went over to her and gently held her close. She hugged him and cried softly, mumbling something about having killed him and never forgiving herself for it. Confused by this, Martouf was just starting to ask her about it, when O'Neill suddenly called them on the radio, asking what was keeping them. Daniel picked up a radio from the floor, where it had been dropped earlier.
"Hiya Jack, this is Daniel. Some things came up, but we'll be with you shortly...by the way - where are you?"
"On the top level. We haven't found Tanith yet, but Teal'c believes he heard a sound which may have been him. We're moving in to investigate."
"OK, see you." Daniel turned off the radio and looked at the others. "Let's go help them - they're on the top level of this building."
Having just ringed up to the top level, Sam and the others quickly looked around, listening carefully for any sounds. Everything seemed peaceful enough and they stepped out of the ring room and into the corridor.
"There doesn't seem to be anyone around, I suggest we split up and search for them." Sam whispered. "Dad, Martouf...you check the rooms in the corridor to the right. Daniel, you're with me."
Sam and Daniel started to the left, carefully checking each room as they passed. The first four were all empty of anything living, and seemed to have been ransacked some years back. They were about to go on, when Sam noticed something among the rubble on the floor of the room.
"A radio...and it's broken. It looks as if there's been a fight in here," she looked around her, "but no traces of blood. I guess that's a good sign."
"Didn't they both have a radio? Maybe we should try calling them." Daniel said, handing her the radio.
"It's worth a try."
After a few minutes of trying, they had to admit the attempt had proven to be in vain. They very quickly examined the rest of the rooms and returned to the area just outside the ring room, meeting Jacob and Martouf.
"We did not find any indication anyone had been to any of those rooms for several years..." Selmak said. "...there were no signs of either O'Neill, Teal'c, or Tanith."
"There weren't anyone in our parts of the corridor either, but we found some new signs of battle and a broken radio...one of ours, so I'm pretty sure either O'Neill or Teal'c was there..." Sam said, "...and we tried contacting them on our radio, since they may have one each. We didn't make contact."
"Then we should perhaps continue our search on the lower floor," Lantash suggested. "They may have been captured or wounded by the Goa'uld."
They went down to the floor below and did a quick sweep of the area, but there were no signs of life anywhere.
Daniel sighed. "Sam, we should contact Landry and have them send reinforcements...when is the next check-in?"
"I have no idea...my watch and everything else is gone, remember?"
"Yeah, of course, I forgot...the disintegration beam took care of it together with our cloned bodies...I suppose we should be grateful we were actually wearing something when we woke up in the stasis chambers," he looked at the grey jumpsuit he and everyone else were wearing. "Do you suppose the tacluchnatagamuntorons...tacs are still on?"
"Probably, unless Tanith turned them off...I'll go back to the laboratory and try to find out. Meanwhile, the rest of you should continue searching for O'Neill and Teal'c...don't leave the compound, though, there could very well be other defense systems than just the tacs at the 'gate."
"OK, but watch out for Tanith." He turned to where Selmak and Lantash were standing.
"We will accompany you." Lantash said, and went to follow Sam down to the laboratory. She nodded and they walked to the rings, transporting down to the lowest level.
In the laboratory, Sam started going through the computers looking for any information about the tacs and any other traps or defenses which might have been activated by Tanith.
*We should try to find out what has happened...clearly Samantha thought we were dead...and why did we wake up in a stasis chamber?*
*I agree, Lantash. I will ask her.*
"Samantha...earlier, when we met you, Daniel, and Selmak in the laboratory, you reacted as if you thought us dead...Lantash and I have no memory of anything after we were given the 'blood of Sokar'...do you know anything further of what has happened?"
Sam thought about how to explain everything that had transpired in the almost 8 years that had passed since they were on Netu together.
"It's a very long story, and I don't quite know all of it yet. Most of it actually happened to my clone, but since I got her memories transferred to me...well, never mind...I should start from the beginning, with our escape from Netu..."
She continued telling him what had happened while he (and the rest of them) had been in stasis. At the same time, she examined the computers for any useful information.
"...and that is the short version of what has happened," she concluded, still looking a bit sad.
*8 years have passed, Lantash...we have been in stasis for that long!*
*Yes, and the Goa'uld have almost been conquered. That is good news...even though far too many Tok'ra have died...including many of our friends.* Lantash sounded sad.
*I know...we have become very few...* he mentally hugged Lantash. *There is also new enemies...the Ori, the replicators...and...and the Wraith?...in the Pegasus galaxy?...and they found the Ancient city of Atlantis...so much has happened, so much is changed.*
*Indeed, the galaxy is a very different place...but at least Samantha seems to be the same...*
*Yes...Lantash! She had to shoot us...we...we died!*
*It is a disturbing thought, but it was our clones who died, WE are very much alive...and, technically, it was Samantha's clone that killed us...It must have been a terrible experience for her, though...and now the 'real' Samantha has her memories...*
*It's not surprising, then, that she reacted as she did when she saw us...she has thought us dead for many years...it must have been a shock...*
Their discussion was interrupted by Sam. "I've finally found out how to access the controls for the defense systems..." she typed something, "...the tacs have now been turned off - there were no other defenses activated... All right, we should be able to safely approach the Stargate now."
"Sam...come in, Sam." Jacob's voice could be heard from the radio.
"We've finished searching the rest of the palace - there were no further signs of anyone. We've just started looking over the courtyard and there are traces of blood..."
"We'll join you immediately. I've just turned off the tacs near the Stargate and determined that there's no further defense mechanisms activated. It should be safe to leave the compound and search the surroundings."
"OK, we'll wait for you...Jacob out."
Nervous about what might have happened to O'Neill and Teal'c, Sam and Martouf quickly ran to where the others were waiting.
"Hey, Sam," Daniel said, "...glad you got the tacs turned off."
"Yeah...and I also wouldn't have liked walking outside knowing Tanith might have turned God only knows what kind of defenses on," Jacob added, "...by the way, you didn't happen to find any weapons, did you?...I don't really like the idea of us taking on Tanith unarmed..."
"No, unfortunately not...all weapons seem to have been removed from the palace." Martouf said.
Sam nodded. "Yes, the place appears to have been raided of everything of value some time ago...probably after the Goa'uld in this part of the galaxy lost most of their power...much chaos has resulted from that and many new, small gangs of criminals have turned up to take advantage of the power vacuum..." she looked at her father, "it's a long story, but much has happened while you were in stasis...I'll explain later."
"Daniel told me some of it while we were searching through the palace...I hear you all came to rescue me from Netu. I don't have any memory of it, but thanks anyway..." His head dipped and Selmak took control.
"Teal'c and O'Neill may be in danger, and Tanith must not be allowed to escape...we should continue our search outside the compound now."
They carefully opened the large doors and left the palace courtyard. Outside there were several footprints and again some blood. Fortunately, it had rained since they arrived the day before, so it would be relatively easy to follow the footsteps. Walking in the direction were the footprints were leading, they soon heard the sounds of someone moaning...and of a low growling. A moment later a large, miserable looking creature were standing in front of them, blocking the way. It was the dog that had stolen food from O'Neill yesterday.
Sam thought she saw something move behind the bushes. "Hello...is someone there?"
"General?...are you all right?" she took a few steps in his direction and was immediately stopped by a low snarl from the creature, "...the dog from yesterday won't let us near you..."
O'Neill started to crawl out from behind the shrubbery. "He protects me...hey!...good dog...come here, let them pass." The dog took one wary look at Sam and the others and then slowly walked over to O'Neill. "He saved me from Tanith...bit the damn snake until he let me go...served him right."
They could now approach O'Neill without danger and Sam helped him stand. "It probably remember the food it got from you yesterday, sir." Sam suggested.
"And here I thought it was my charming personality..."
"You're bleeding...how badly hurt are you?"
"I have a cut on my left leg which is unpleasant, but otherwise it's mostly scratches from the bushes. Tanith gave up and fled pretty quickly when my friend here attacked him."
Martouf had been examining some tracks on the ground behind Jacob and Sam, but he now stepped forward.
"It was fortunate this creature has taken a liking to you, Colonel O'Neill."
O'Neill looked at him in surprise, "Marty...now that's someone I never expected to see again...oh, and it's General, by the way."
*I'm sure he meant he never hoped to see again...and I do not appreciate the name he always uses for you...let me talk to him...*
*Lantash!...I think you should let me handle this...he seems to dislike you even more than me...*
"I apologize, General O'Neill...I only meant..."
He was interrupted by Teal'c who came running towards them, not looking very pleased.
"Tanith had a teltac hidden...he has escaped, yet again...we must pursue him immediately..."
"Teal'c...I think he'll find the Galaxy has changed, and not to his advantage. We'll get him...however, right now we should contact Stargate Command and go home." O'Neill said.
Teal'c had now had time to look at him. "You are wounded, O'Neill. Do you require assistance in walking to the Stargate?"
O'Neill started to say no, but the pain in his leg made him think twice and he accepted to let Teal'c support him as they all walked towards the Stargate. When they were almost there, they heard the 'kawoosh' from the gate opening and then their radios came to life.
"SG1, this is General Landry...come in, SG1."
"This is General O'Neill...we're on our way home, sir."
"That's good news, we're looking forward to seeing you, Landry out."
The wormhole closed and Daniel went to input the glyphs to bring them home. After sending the signal to confirm who they were so the iris would be open, the 4 Tau'ri and 2 Tok'ra went into the event horizon, followed by the dog which insisted on going with O'Neill. They were finally going home.