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3. Learning More About the Denebians

"So, what do you think?" O'Neill asked when they had left the council's building.

"It seems as if the Goa'uld of this world is very unusual," Teal'c said.

"Yeah, apparently he doesn't enslave the population, or otherwise do the normal, ah, Goa'uld-ish things," Daniel agreed.

"True, however, Rokhan kept repeating that her people was suffering. There may be something more we do not know," Martouf said.

"Well, for now I guess we take a walk around the place and keep an eye out for guards. See if we can learn anything," O'Neill decided. "Check out the palace."

"What do you think about them?" Daniel nodded in the direction of a group of Denebians that had neither blue nor turquoise fur, but grey, like the one they had seen when they just entered the town.

"Youths, maybe?" Sam suggested.

"They look to be of variable sizes and ages, so that is probably not the explanation," Martouf said.

"They're talking together. Sort of. That's different," O'Neill said.

"Right. None of the others talk. Out loud, that is," Daniel said.

Martouf froze. "Jaffa!"

They all looked around for a place to hide, and dove behind some bushes that ringed a building.

The grey aliens chattered loudly and pointed, and the Jaffa walked directly to where SG-1 and Martouf|Lantash were hiding.

"Hey! Why did you do that for?" O'Neill exclaimed, angrily, as one of the Jaffa grabbed him.

"Move, human!" The Jaffa gave him a push forward.

The other Jaffa had encircled the rest of their group, and all of them were captured in short time.

"Kneel before your god, human!" The Jaffa hit O'Neill in the back, making him fall to the ground.

Beside him, his friends and teammates were being forced to kneel as well.

"I see I have guests!" The Goa'uld grinned. "I am Lord Zorn, master of this world."

Martouf snorted. "Plunderer and suppressor would be a more fitting title."

"Ah, I sense you are Tok'ra. Hiding behind your host, as you cowardly creatures so often do." Zorn shrugged. "You may think what you wish. I have neither enslaved this people, nor taken any minerals or other valuable resources from this world."

"What are you doing here, then? If you're so kind and friendly," O'Neill asked, sarcastically.

"You do not believe me." The Goa'uld shrugged and took a drink from a glass containing a pale green liquid. "What do I care! These beings here are not even humans, as low-life as those are. These are even lower than human slaves. I could do with them what I wanted - which I always could, to anyone of course, since I am a god." He grinned.

O'Neill rolled his eyes. "Whatever. We're leaving."

"Not so fast, human!" the Goa'uld ordered. "Guards!"

The Jaffa immediately stepped in front of SG-1 and Martouf|Lantash, blocking their way and activating their staff weapons at the same time.

"Okay, okay! Relax!" O'Neill said. "We can stay for a little longer if that's what you want."

"Good. Colonel O'Neill of the Tau'ri." Zorn grinned. "Major Carter, Doctor Daniel Jackson, Teal'c... and Lantash of the Tok'ra." He shrugged. "With host Martouf. I know your kind likes to acknowledge your 'clothes' - weird custom, but that is your own business."

"So you know us. Fine. What is it you want?" O'Neill asked, irritated.

The Goa'uld got a very pleased and mysterious look. "What do I want? Let me ask you; would you not like to be able to read someone's mind?"

"Read someone's mind?" O'Neill raised an eyebrow. "Sure - then maybe I could tell what the hell you're up to!"

"Here I offer you a great opportunity, and that is your response? You should be grateful!" Zorn exclaimed, angrily. "I have made a potion which enables you to see into the thoughts of your enemy! Or anyone, for that matter!"

"A great opportunity? What's the catch? I mean, there must be something in it for you, or you'd never offer it to us," O'Neill said.

"I agree," Martouf said. "It is not to your advantage to give us this ability."

"Is that why you're here? To study the telepathic ability of the locals?" Sam asked.

"Of course that is why I am here!" Zorn flashed his eyes in anger and annoyance. He visible pulled himself together. "How can you not understand? If I let you leave, you will inform your people and soon my secret is out! I am not yet in a position to take on my rivals, so I cannot let you leave as my enemies!"

"Then the logical solution would be to kill us, would it not?" Teal'c asked.

"Which we wouldn't want!" O'Neill sent Teal'c a warning look.

"If I thought that was a solution I would do so immediately. However, I see from your minds that others would follow, and soon my secret lair would be exposed. No, that is not a solution." Zorn looked unhappy. He poured more of the pale green liquid in his glass and drank from it. "However, I also see in your minds that your leaders will be willing to keep my secret in return for telepathy."

"Possibly," O'Neill admitted slowly. "But they'd need proof."

"I am willing to let you - and the Tok'ra - test a sample of the drug," Zorn said.

"How do we know you won't just poison us?" O'Neill asked.

"Please, O'Neill, that would make no sense. Did I not just explain why I needed you alive, and cooperating?" Zorn said in a patronizing voice.

"It does seem likely that your government would be interested in this technology, O'Neill," Teal'c pointed out.

"Yeah, think about the opportunities for interrogating enemies without them being able to hold anything back," Sam said.

"Or the ability to listen in on random people - you would lose any semblance of privacy," Daniel warned.

"That would hardly be a problem, Doctor Jackson. The drug is expensive to make and works for a limited time," the Goa'uld said. "I am working on solving this problem, of course. I am a scientist, and thought my previous work has mostly been in mathematics, I find the opportunity to apply my skills to Chemistry exhilarating as well."

O'Neill mentally rolled his eyes and shrugged. "All right, whatever. So you're an egghead Goa'uld. Let me try the drug. If it's worth anything I'll take it back to my government and let them decide."

Martouf dipped his head, giving Lantash control.

Lantash spoke up, "I will do the same. After all, it is an excellent opportunity for our agents to learn about Goa'uld plans."

"See? We can help each other. You can spy on your enemies and I keep my secret base. I certainly do not mind if your actions mean fewer rivals that may come and try to take over my planet." Zorn turned to his first Prime who was standing beside him. "Bring more of the potion and two glasses."

"Well, does it work?" Daniel asked, curiously.

"Nope, don't think so," O'Neill said.

"It needs a short time to become effective. Give it some time," Zorn said. "Humans are always so impatient."

"What about you, Marty? Anything?" O'Neill asked.

"I am not Martouf," Lantash said. "But no, I do not believe there is any effect." He frowned. "Other than perhaps a slight sensation of distance from myself. As if my mind is floating."

O'Neill closed his eyes and nodded. "Yeah, I feel it too!"

"I assure you, Samantha, it is not dangerous," Lantash suddenly said.

"And I'm not hallucinating!" O'Neill added.

"Um, I didn't say anything..." Sam said, confused.

"Of course you did!" O'Neill insisted.

"I assure you, she did not," Teal'c said.

"But that was what I was thinking," Sam admitted.

"It is working!" O'Neill exclaimed, grinning.

"It would seem to be, yes," Lantash agreed.

"What am I thinking?" Daniel asked.

"Whether or not this is a bad idea," O'Neill said.

"That would be an easy guess!" Sam exclaimed.

"All right, now then?" Daniel asked, grinning.

"I did not steal one of your pens! I may accidentally have borrowed it, but that's something else entirely!" O'Neill said, miffed.

Daniel grinned. "See? I knew you'd react that way."

"But now we also know it works," Sam said.

"Satisfied?" Zorn asked.

"How long does it work?" Daniel asked.

"It will wear off in a few minutes at most, regrettably. You need a larger dose for it to work longer - and be able to read minds further away."

"Interesting," Teal'c said.

"I have a question," Sam said. "How do you make the drug?"

"That is one of my secrets."

"How can we be sure you're not killing the locals that you're experimenting on?" Daniel asked.

Zorn rolled his eyes. "Why do you care so much about those creatures?" He shrugged. "No matter. I assure you, I am not killing anyone in order to produce the drug. Or during my tests. The former test subjects are alive, whole, and healthy - and many of them are in fact working for me."

"It is very useful," O'Neill said. "And if no one is harmed, then I don't see... too much of a problem."

"Sir, maybe we should..." Sam began.

"Then, do we have an agreement? You keep my secret and I give you... a quantity of the drug," Zorn said, quickly.

O'Neill nodded slowly. "We will take your offer back with us and hear what our superiors say."

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