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Title: Friends and Allies
Category: Adventure, Drama
Rating: PG-13
Characters: Daniel, Teal'c, O'Neill, Sam, Martouf/Lantash
Pairing: None
Fandom: Stargate SG-1
Summary: When Daniel enters a temple and thereby breaking a local taboo, he and Teal'c ends up captives and condemned to death. Sam and O'Neill have to work with one of their allies in order to rescue their friends - but will they succeed?
Notes: Written for Space-swap III, 2016 on Dreamwidth, for Alobear


 

"Daniel! Wait - I don't think it's a good idea to just walk in there. This place looks like it's still in use," Sam warned, looking at the pond with clear, fresh water, and the podium some distance away, with a table which looked as if it carried offerings of some sort.

"Don't worry, I'm just going to take a quick look. This place is a fantastic example of early Sumerian culture! It's somewhere between the early structures, and the later ziggurats. Oh, and just look at those geometrical mosaics!" Daniel walked up the stairs, and through the entrance. His gaze was caught by a fresco showing a scene of people worshipping a man standing on a platform. "Wow!"

"Okay, but be quick, Daniel. Carter is right, it looks like it's still in use." O'Neill said, throwing a worried glance around the square forecourt of the temple. Then he looked at the doorways of several buildings around the edge of the court. Empty, by the looks of it. "We're not far from the village, and besides, this place creeps me out"

"I think the temple is dedicated to the god Shamash. See? That symbol there..." Daniel said, excitedly, pointing at the wall beside him. "He was a Sun god, as well as a god of justice. Hammurabi attributed his inspiration to gather the existing laws and legal procedures into code to Shamash. He's also the one who released the sufferer from the grasp of the demons, thus..."

"Whoa! That's nice, Daniel, but we don't need a lecture. Check out the place, and then let's get the Hell out of here," O'Neill said. "We don't know when people usually come here."

"The priests often lived in dwellings around the temple, but it doesn't look like that's the case here. An interesting deviation." Daniel was silent for a moment, clearly thinking it over. "Well, if they're not living here, I'm fairly sure the priests wouldn't come here after dark, and the sun is almost down," he insisted, "Shamash would have been worshipped at dawn."

He continued deeper into the temple, shining his flashlight at the walls. The others remained standing at the entrance.

"Well, the people on this world seems peaceful enough, and we haven't seen any recent signs of Goa'uld activity," Sam offered. "No one had come through the Stargate recently. The path from there was overgrown."

"What do you think, Teal'c?" O'Neill asked.

"I agree. This is most likely a world that has been abandoned by the Goa'uld, and the people are probably just continuing some of the traditions."

"Right," O'Neill said. He sighed. "Which most likely means they'll be touchy about strangers walking around in their temples. Daniel!" he called out.

"Someone is approaching," Teal'c warned. "Listen."

A low chanting could be heard, and moments later a procession entered the temple court. It looked to be a number of priests and priestesses, some carrying torches while others carried musical instruments they were playing. Together with them walked others, possibly acolytes, and forming the rear came several armed guards.

"Crap!" O'Neill exclaimed. "Daniel! We're leaving!" he shouted.

"What?" Daniel called from inside the temple. He came rushing out just as the procession stopped before the entrance.

"Capture the defiler!" one of the priests roared.

Two of the armed men immediately grabbed Daniel, and started pulling him towards the man who had spoken a moment ago.

"What?" Daniel repeated.

"Hey! You can't just take him like that!" O'Neill insisted.

"He has entered the temple at a time where only priests may enter. His sin is great," the priest said, motioning at the two men who had taken Daniel. "Bring him."

Teal'c grabbed hold of one of the guards who was holding Daniel, and wrestled him to the ground.

"Blasphemy! Take that one as well!" the priest ordered.

A group of guards fell on Teal'c, restraining him.

"Wait! I am responsible. I'm the leader!" O'Neill exclaimed. "If you have to take anyone, take me!"

"Did you order him to enter the temple? Order this one to harm an initiated temple guard?" the priest asked.

"Well, no, but..."

"Then the choice was their own. I am the High Priest, and I speak for our Lord Shamash. I say that they shall die!"

"Die? Are you crazy? You can't just go around killing people like that!" O'Neill exclaimed.

"We didn't know it was illegal to enter the temple," Sam said.

"Ignorance is no excuse," the High Priest insisted.

"Isn't, isn't there something I can do to redeem myself?" Daniel asked. He looked at Teal'c. "That we can do?"

The High Priest was silent for some time. "At sunrise you may prostrate yourself before the altar and appeal to Shamash. If he is merciful, and accepts your appeal and your tribue, he may forgive your people."


"How can they call that shameless guy 'the god of justice'?" O'Neill exclaimed. "There's no justice in what they're doing on that planet!"

"Shamash," Sam corrected. "And when we talked to some of the locals, they told us their world was called Nimrud."

"General! You've got to let us bring in superior forces and free Daniel and Teal'c!" O'Neill insisted.

"From what you've told me those guards were heavily armed, and it would probably become quite bloody if you attempted to free them. In addition, the people of that world showed you no hostility until Doctor Jackson entered the temple, and by doing so broke their law," Hammond said.

"Yes, but... I'd say it was pretty hostile to grab Daniel and condemn him to death, just for walking into the temple! I mean, he didn't know it was forbidden!" O'Neill argued.

"I'm sorry, but I can't authorize an assault on these people. Not when might be another way."

"Another way? You mean 'appealing to Shamash'?" Sam asked.

"That's a load of crap! If there ever was such a person, he was probably a Goa'uld, and we know how much they care!" O'Neill said.

Hammond nodded. "True, but if that Goa'uld is gone, then there's no harm in completing their religious ritual. It may be all they want you to, in order to let Doctor Jackson and Teal'c go."


A few hours later an unhappy looking O'Neill waited in the gateroom. He looked up as Sam entered, carrying a basket.

"Is that the 'tribute'?" he made air quotes with his fingers.

"Yes, sir. Various fruit from the mess hall." She held it out to him, showing him the contents.

"Hm. Looks a bit boring, but okay, I guess."

"Sorry, sir. That was all they had - it's evening, after all."

"I know." He sighed. "It's not your fault, Carter, I'm just worried about Daniel and Teal'c."

"You're not the only one." Sam checked her watch. "We should get going. It's summer and fairly far to the north where the Stargate is located on Nimrud. Sunrise will be early - in less than an hour, actually."

"Okay, then let's get going." O'Neill turned to the open wormhole, adding in a low voice, "And hope this Seamus fellow is listening."


"They didn't let Doctor Jackson and Teal'c go?" Hammond asked, concerned, when Sam and O'Neill walked through the Stargate alone.

"No, sir, they didn't!" O'Neill exclaimed. "Now can I take a few teams and free them?"

"Not yet, Colonel." Hammond turned to Sam, realizing O'Neill was too angry to report everything right now. "What happened, Major?"

Sam threw a brief glance at O'Neill, then took a deep breath. "Colonel O'Neill offered the tribute we brought and then made a, ah, traditional - mostly - appeal to Shamash, asking him to, to show himself, and tell the priests to let Daniel and Teal'c go."

"I did like the priests told me to!" O'Neill said angrily. "Well, mostly, anyway, but where they happy? No! And their 'god' didn't show himself either."

"Which the priests said meant Shamash didn't accept the plea," Sam explained.

"Colonel?" Hammond looked at O'Neill.

He sighed. "Apparently we're allowed to try again tomorrow. At least it means they won't kill Daniel and Teal'c before that."

"The priests, ah, questioned our dedication to our friends, since we brought so small a tribute," Sam said. "But I doubt trying again will make a difference. Most likely Shamash left that planet many years ago."

Hammond nodded. "Take the time to find out as much as possible about this Shamash. If there is any other way to free Doctor Jackson and Teal'c, I want to know it. A direct assault will be the last resort."

"Yes, sir," O'Neill said, looking unhappy. "It's just too bad Daniel is the one who knows about all this mythology and stuff."

"There may be another way," Sam said, slowly.

"What?" O'Neill wondered.

"The Tok'ra. They may know something."


"Then Daniel Jackson and Teal'c are still prisoners of the priests on Nimrud?" Martouf asked.

"Yes, that's what we said, wasn't it?" O'Neill said, irritation in his voice.

"They told us they would only let them go if their god Shamash appeared and told them the prisoners were to be shown mercy," Sam explained.

Martouf nodded. "That will not happen. Previously, Shamash was a very minor System Lord, allied with Ra. While we believe Shamash is still alive, and working for Bastet, he no longer owns any planets. Even when he did, he had long since abandoned Nimrud. The naquadah mines there will now only yield ore from vastly more advanced types of mining than what the Goa'uld prefer to emply."

"That's what we thought too," Sam said.

"Then Shamash is a Goa'uld?" Hammond asked.

"He is," Martouf confirmed.

"Please, as if there was ever any doubt!" O'Neill grumbled.

"We were hoping you knew something about Shamash that we could use to free Daniel and Teal'c," Sam said. "For instance, we're apparently supposed to bring a 'tribute' when we appeal for mercy. I was thinking we might convince the priests to let them go even if Shamash doesn't show - if they are, ah, suitably impressed by our sincerity. Do you know what kind of tribute would work?"

"Generally, a Goa'uld would want gold, jewelry, silk, statues and figurines - other kinds of valuables. The more expensive the better. Slaves of, ah, various kinds are appreciated too," Martouf told them.

"Um, even assuming we could get that, do you think it would work?" Sam asked.

Martouf shook his head. "No, the priests may take your tribute, but I feel certain they would accept nothing except the arrival of their 'god' before they would release Daniel Jackson and Teal'c."

"Great. That's it then!" O'Neill said. "Superior forces it is!"

"Not so fast, Colonel!" Hammond turned to Martouf. "Are you saying there is no way to free them except by an assault?"

"No..." Martouf hesitated. "I could conceivably pretend to be Shamash."

"Would they fall for that? I mean, I realize they probably don't know how he looks, but do you know enough about him to fool them?" Sam wondered.

"I will readily admit that I do not know as much as I would like to, but I believe I know sufficiently to convince them - if we can determine how he made his entrance in the temple."

"Okay... well, I guess we could go there as soon as the place has been deserted for the night," Sam said, uncertainly.

O'Neill nodded slowly. "We could sneak in, take a look, and see if there's anything we can use - what do you expect to find?"

"A ring transporter. That would be the simplest way for him to 'appear' in response to prayer, as he seems to have done," Martouf said.

"Okay, I guess that sounds reasonable. What about the tribute?" O'Neill looked to Hammond. "Can you give us something better than the fruitbasket?"

"I believe I can take care of that," Martouf told them. "The Tok'ra have a fair amount of gold, jewelry, and other valuables."

"I thought that was 'too Goa'uld'," O'Neill commented, sarcastically.

Martouf sighed. "I do understand why you say so. However, we use it both to pay for food and other necessities we cannot grow or manufacture secretly, as well as to pay for establishing undercover agents as minor Goa'uld."

"All right, sure." O'Neill shrugged.

"That makes sense," Sam said.

"So, you get the... tribute, and whatever clothing the local snakehead liked, and then we meet here in..." O'Neill checked his clock. "Five hours. That should be around the time it gets dark on, uh, Nimrud, right?" He looked at Sam.

She nodded. "Yes, that is correct."

"In that case you have a go," Hammond said. "Dismissed."


"Aren't you supposed to dress up like that, uh, Shameless guy?" O'Neill asked, looking at Martouf and the borrowed BDUs he was wearing.

"Yes, but not yet. These clothes will make it easier for me to move fast, hide, and do whatever we need to do in order to learn as much as we can at Shamash's temple tonight." Martouf gave him a wry grin. "Goa'uld clothing is not generally suitable for much of anything, except walking or sitting and looking imposing."

"Noted." O'Neill grinned. "Okay. Let's grab all the stuff and get going." He looked at the small chest standing beside Martouf. "Is that the tribute?"

"Yes." Martouf opened it. "Various jewelry, and a few small figurines carved from semi-precious stones. I believe it should be sufficient."

"Yeah, I'd say so!" O'Neill exclaimed, staring at the valuables.

"Wow!" Sam said, picking up a gold necklace with a sapphire pendant. "This is beautiful! Is that a real sapphire?"

"Of course." Martouf frowned. "Why would it not be?"

"It's... well, it would be pretty expensive here on Earth."

Martouf nodded. "Do you like it?"

"Yes, of course! It's really beautiful." She looked at the necklace, and the pendant which was placed in a kind of cage made of entwined delicate strands of gold.

"Then please keep it, it is yours," Martouf told her, smiling.

"I... I can't keep something like this! It's much too expensive," Sam exclaimed.

"Samantha, the Tok'ra can find all the gold and gemstones we want with our tunnel crystals, and then have them fashioned into jewelry as needed. Please take that necklace as a gift. It would make us happy."

"Well, in that case... thank you very much." She smiled warmly at him.

"You are very welcome. I believe it will look lovely on you - the colour of the sapphire matches your eyes."

O'Neill rolled his eyes. "Okay, that's about as much of that as I can take! Find somewhere safe to put that necklace, Carter, and let's get out of here before this turns into a date!"

"Sir!" Sam's cheeks flushed.

"Date?" Martouf wondered. "Every day has a date, does it not?"

O'Neill grinned and threw Sam an amused look. "Come on, Marty - I'll explain it on the way."


They hurried through the darkness towards Shamash's temple. It was early summer, and the night would be neither long, nor deep.

They hid the things they had brought behind a fallen tree, a short distance from the town.

No one seemed to be up yet, and they quickly covered the last distance to the temple.

"All right, it looks like all is clear. No priests nearby," O'Neill whispered.

Martouf looked out over the place. "I agree. All is quiet."

They snuck past the silent forecourt and into the temple.

"Okay, we're looking for rings. Let's spread out and search the place," O'Neill ordered.

They had only been there for a few moments when Martouf called to them in a low voice, "The ring transporter is here."

"That was quick!" Sam said, joining him together with O'Neill.

"Where? I don't see any rings!" O'Neill exclaimed.

"No, neither do I..." Sam said, frowning as she looked at the floor. "Wait... I think maybe I do." She kneeled down.

"They're almost completely hidden! How did you even notice them?" O'Neill exclaimed. "And in this darkness?"

"You sensed them," Sam realized.

"I did," Martouf said, matter of factly.

"I do too," Sam said slowly. Then she gave them a loopy grin. "Well, I only realize that now... when I know they're there."

O'Neill rolled his eyes. "Not useful, Carter. So - we have what we need now?"

"Not quite. We need to find out where the ring transporter leads - and we also need some sort of, decoration of this place. Something to ah, fill the priests with awe, so they will believe I am their god. Even without any servants arriving with me, which I am fairly sure would be customary in such instances," Martouf said.

"Ah. Well, a few flowers here, some ribbons there..." O'Neill grinned.

Martouf raised an eyebrow, but did not comment. Instead he began searching the area around the rings for the control panel.

"Maybe there isn't one - couldn't he just have carried one? Like the Tok'ra sometimes do?" Sam suggested.

"He could, and most likely did, but I am hoping there is also a control panel, or at least an activation button," Martouf said, running his fingers along the base of one of two statues standing behind the ring transporter. "Here! Stand inside the rings!"

He pressed an invisible button, and joined the others. Moments later rings came up around them.

They were deposited in a dimply lit room with golden walls. The light almost immediately increased to normal strength.

"We're onboard a ship!" Sam exclaimed.

"Correct, Samantha. An Alkesh," Martouf said, looking around. "This is most fortunate."

"In what way?" O'Neill asked.

"Shamash must have left it behind," Sam said.

Martouf nodded. "Yes. He probably used it when he allowed himself to be seen in the temple. It is a much better option than an underground chamber, for instance, since he could easily arrive and leave the area unseen, when he had used the ring transporter."

"Why would he leave it here?" O'Neill asked, looking around. "Isn't it a bit weird?"

"Most likely he had intended to return, but he no longer owns this world. That does not mean he will not attempt to retake it - or at least the ship - in the future."

"Well, that's not our problem right now. Check out that there's no nasty surprises, and then let's continue with the plan," O'Neill said.

"We will." Martouf smiled as he looked around. "The Tok'ra will be pleased with this ship."

"The Tok'ra? Why do you guys get to keep it?" O'Neill grumbled. "You wouldn't even be here if it wasn't because of us!"

Martouf raised an eyebrow. "If it wasn't because you had needed my help. Besides, I did find the ring transporter, as well as the control panel to activate it, taking us here. Can you truly say with certainty you would have done so on your own?"

"Hm. Okay, yeah..." O'Neill sighed, then shrugged. "I guess that's true." He turned to his team mate. "Carter - how long until sunrise?"

"About two hours."

"All right - hurry up and search the place, then!" O'Neill ordered.


"Find anything usefull left behind by ol' Seamus?" O'Neill asked.

"Shamash, and we did," Martouf confirmed. "He kept the controls for some of the equipment here that he used to create a spectacle for the priests. Someone would have to control it from up here, though." He looked at Sam.

She nodded. "I believe I can do that, from what you showed me." She looked to O'Neill. "There's apparently holo-emitters and even sound systems installed in the temple. It's all controlled from a panel up here on the ship."

"Okay! Sounds like this show is on the road, then!" O'Neill said, pleased.

Martouf frowned, but then nodded. "We should be able to create a satisfactory imitation of Shamash appearing before the priests, yes."

"The sun will rise in less than an hour. It's already twilight down there, so we had better hurry," Sam warned them.

"Okay, let's ring down and go fetch the tribute and other stuff, then," O'Neill said. "Hopefully no one is around the temple yet."

"We do not have to go there first. We can use the rings to transport down directly beside the place where we hid the costume and the tribute," Martouf said.

"Great." O'Neill stepped inside the rings. "Beam me down, Scotty!"

Martouf looked questioningly at him and then Sam, who just rolled her eyes and silently mouthed "I'll explain later."


"I believe the music should begin at a low level just before I transport down. The coloured lights should be activated as well, followed by the holographic display just as I arrive," Lantash said, looking at himself in the mirror. He sighed, clearly unhappy with the costume.

"Don't worry, I'll take care of it," Sam promised. She smiled as she looked at Lantash. "I'm sure they'll be convinced - you look... exactly the way you should, I am sure."

He was wearing a blue loincloth, which actually looked more like a wraparound skirt, hanging to about his knees in one side and slanted down on the other. It was decorated by golden fabric cut in a petal shape. He also wore a long belted white tunic, and above that a cloak in about the same blue colour as the loincloth, but decorated with fringes in red, purple, gold, and white. On his feet he wore sandals.

Looking in the mirror he put on a tall hat, made of alternating rows of patterned and plain bands topped with a pointed cone, which looked like it was made of gold. He then started putting on jewelry - a necklace and armband on his right hand, then finally the hand device on his left hand.

Turning to Sam, Lantash raised an eyebrow. "Yes, I am aware I look ridiculous. I am just happy I don't have to wear makeup too." He looked in the mirror and touched his smooth chin. "I believe Shamash had a large, wavy beard. It is unfortunate, but I would need quite some time to grow such a beard, and I did not think to bring a false one."

"Never mind, Lantash - I'm sure the rest will be enough to convince them. Goa'uld probably changed their style sometimes too," Sam said. "Besides, the locals doesn't seem to follow the style anyway - at least not anymore."

Lantash nodded. "In that case we are in luck."

Sam smiled again. "Oh, and yes, your clothes certainly are... unusual." Her smile widened. "I'm suddenly remembering the outfit you wore when we... I mean, Jolinar and you, went on a brief undercover mission to Tefnut's court. And the makeup."

Lantash gave her a wry smile. "Yes. Egyptian makeup is... very much not my style."

"See? This isn't so bad compared to that." She grinned. "But I warn you - the Colonel is bound to make some comment at that, ah, loincloth at some time."

Lantash sighed. "I am aware." He checked the time on the control panel. "I believe it is almost time." He pushed a button, activating a small camera Shamash had hidden in the temple. This would enable them to keep an eye on what was going on down there, and when it was the right time for him to transport down.

"Right." Sam went to sit down by the controls for the music and holo-emitters that were installed in the temple. "I'm ready."


Meanwhile, O'Neill had taken the tribute Martouf/Lantash had brought, and hurried to the temple. He walked through the entrance to the forecourt just as the priests rang a gong to mark the approaching sunrise.

He looked around at the assembled acolytes, priests, and guards. At the very back of the group stood Daniel and Teal'c, both in chains and well guarded. He nodded at them and sighed.

"So you came. We did not think you would make another, obviously futile attempt at appeasing our Lord," the head priest said, approaching O'Neill.

"Yeah, well you should have known better. I don't just give up on my friends," O'Neill grumbled.

"Your loyalty is commendable, if misplaced. What makes you think you will have greater success this time?"

"I have a feeling your god won't turn me down again. Besides, there's this tribute too. I mean, who would turn down all these goodies?" O'Neill opened the small chest he was carrying.

The priest raised an eyebrow. "I must admit that is impressive. Perhaps our god Shamash will listen to you this time, since you are shown such sincerity. Still, tribute is not the only requirement, and mere mortals cannot know the mind of a god."

"Yeah, yeah. Let's get this over with." O'Neill ascended the steps to the entrance to the temple itself, with the priests following. A low chant arose from their ranks, accompanied by music from clappers, drums, and lyres at a low volume.

"Go no further!" the head priest warned. "The sun's fingers have not yet risen above the horizon."

O'Neill threw him a dirty look, but stopped at the top of the stairs. After a few minutes, the first rays of the sun appeared over the horizon. "Now can I continue?"

"Yes, but only as far as the place of prayer and mercy, where you appealed to our Lord yesterday. There you must wait for the light to pierce the darkness of the temple."

O'Neill snorted but did not say anything. With the exception of the guards - and Daniel and Teal'c - they all entered the temple. Inside it was still fairly dark, like the priest had said. O'Neill stopped when he was on top of a large red slab of stone that was set into the floor, some 30 feet from the altar itself. This was where they had told him to wait the day before.

The priests and acolytes lined the sides of the temple, and ceased their music and chanting. Moments later, a beam of sunlight hit the altar, directed there by mirrors from the outside.

Taking the cue, O'Neill kneeled down, groaning softly over both his knees and the hard floor. He opened the chest and pushed it forward. "Ah, first, here's some offerings for you, Shamash. Hope you'll like them. Now, could you please tell the priests to spare the lives of Daniel and Teal'c? They haven't done anything wrong, well, not really. Besides, they're good people, and they're my friends!"

"That is not the correct form of address to the..." the high priest began.

He was interrupted when music began to play, and muted light began to glow along the walls. Moments later, the sound of a ring transporter activating could be heard. Of course, the priests did not know that was what it was.

O'Neill grinned. "Seems Shamash is listening!"

Just as the rings deposited Martouf/Lantash before them, the holo-emitters sprang to life, creating an otherworldly show of light and colours. The music increased in volume, rose to a crescendo, and then died down to a low level, remaining there.

O'Neill grinned to himself at what Lantash was wearing, but kept his head down, only stealing quick glances.

Lantash looked around at them, an arrogant expression on his face. "I am your Lord Shamash."

"Our Lord!" the priests and acolytes exclaimed, and all fell to their knees, bowing their heads.

The High Priest looked up, but only for a moment, otherwise keeping his head down in respect. "Lord Shamash. Thank you for honouring us with your presence. It had been so long, we feared you had abandoned us. That we had failed you."

"I have had more important matters to attend to," Lantash said. He looked to O'Neill. "Your tribute is... acceptable, human."

"Thanks. Shamash." O'Neill gave him a loopy grin, but again stopped himself from saying anything about Lantash's outfit. "Would you, ah, consider freeing my friends, Daniel and Teal'c?"

Lantash seemed to consider it for a moment, and while he did so, the High Priest spoke.

"They are blasphemers, my Lord. They trespassed on your temple, and one of them dared lay hands on an initiated! They should be executed!"

"Silence!" Lantash roared. "That is for me to decide, not you!" His voice turned silken, dangerous, "Or do you perhaps feel you are the one in charge of this planet? Have you used my absence to take power for yourself, instead of merely served your people and carried out my law?" He let his eyes flash, and raised his hand with the hand device, letting the crystal grow softly.

"No, my Lord. I apologize!" The high priest bowed even deeper, his voice shaking with fear. "I would never dare to commit such sacrilege."

"Good, because from now on I shall supervise you, from a, ah hidden position. Whenever I see you - or anyone else - take advantage of the positions I have graciously allowed you to hold, you shall be punished!" Lantash exclaimed. He calmed himself. "As for your friends, human..." he grinned at O'Neill. "I grant them mercy. Their lives shall be spared, and they - and you - shall receive a great honour. You will come with me, to become my servants." He turned to the High Priest. "Have them brought here immediately!"

"Yes, my Lord!" The priest turned to some of his underlings. "Bring the foreigners here, at once!"

Two of the acolytes hurried off, and shortly after returned, bringing the guards as well as Daniel and Teal'c.

"Hi, guys!" O'Neill waved at them.

"These are the blasphemers," the High Priest said, ignoring O'Neill's comment.

"Free them," Lantash ordered.

The guards had been gaping at Lantash, and the light show in awe, but now pulled themselves together, and quickly freed Daniel and Teal'c from their chains.

"They are freed, my Lord," the High Priest said.

Daniel and Teal'c were both looking at the show, though Teal'c looked a good deal less impressed than Daniel.

"My servants, join me," Lantash told Daniel and Teal'c. He turned to O'Neill. "You as well." He beckoned them closer.

They all hurried to comply, and walked up to where Lantash was standing.

"Rings. In the floor," O'Neill whispered at Daniel and Teal'c.

"I shall now take my leave of you, my people. The tribute I will graciously leave here with you - to use for the good of the people. See that it is used for their prosperity, and not to line your own pockets. Behave - and remember, I am always vigilant!" Lantash warned. He surreptitiously pushed the button on the control panel just beside him.

Daniel, Teal'c, and O'Neill quickly took a few steps closer, and the rings came up around them all, transporting them to the alkesh above.


"Servants?" O'Neill asked, raising an eyebrow.

"I had to say something... suitable, did I not?" Lantash said, amused.

"Welcome back, guys!" Sam smiled at them. "Good to see it worked - and that you got away safely!"

"Oh, yeah!" Daniel took a deep breath and leaned back against the wall of the alkesh. "I must admit I didn't think we'd get away this time."

"Why, you know we'd never leave you behind," O'Neill said, mock-offended. "And please Daniel, no more strolling into alien temples when you don't know how the locals will react! Okay?"

"Yes, Jack." Daniel rolled his eyes.

O'Neill patted Daniel warmly on the back. "Good, I'll keep you to that promise."

"It is good to see you back safe, Doctor Jackson, Teal'c," Lantash said.

"Yes." O'Neill nodded, smiling at Lantash. "Thanks for the help."

"Indeed. We are most grateful for your assistance," Teal'c said.

Lantash dipped his head, giving Martouf control.

"I will fly you to the chaapa'ai and ring you down, before returning to the Tok'ra in the alkesh."

"Sure we can't convince you to let us take that alkesh off your hands?" O'Neill asked. "I'm certain we can come up with something nice to swap for it - a nice beach front property, perhaps?"

Martouf raised an eyebrow at him. "I believe we shall have to turn down that offer."

"Ah, well. Call us if you change your mind." O'Neill sat down in the throne that had originally been reserved for the Goa'uld. "So, Marty - what's up with the skirt?"

Martouf just sighed and walked over to the ship's controls, and activated the engines, taking them to the Stargate.

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