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4. Orders

"The decision has been made to accept the offer from this Goa'uld, Zorn," Hammond said.

O'Neill nodded. "Understood, sir."

"Are we certain it's a good idea?" Daniel asked.

"You're the ones who brought the offer!" Hammond reminded him. "Regardless, the President and the joint chiefs all feel it is too good an opportunity to turn down."

"Way too good! This unholy project is finally bringing a small return on the enormous amount of money posted into it and you're not even going to grab the opportunity?" Kinsey exclaimed. "What's wrong with you?"

"The leader of the Denebians - Rokhan - did agree that the Goa'uld did not force them to work, nor beat them," Teal'c reminded them.

"Sure, but she also said the Goa'uld 'took their joy and harmony'. Whatever that meant," Sam said.

"Exactly. Whatever that meant. It could just mean they weren't happy it wasn't their planet anymore. Which I totally get, and I'm not saying I wouldn't wish this Goa'uld was gone, but..." O'Neill shrugged. "Unless our orders are to take him out and grab the drug?"

"It is not. We don't know how he makes it and until we do, we play along," Kinsey ordered. "We need this drug to combat our enemies - and find traitors."

"Even if Zorn has conquered their world and is possibly harming them in some way?" Daniel asked.

"You don't have any proof of that! Besides, these people aren't even human! You said they resembled hyenas, wasn't that true?" Kinsey said.

"Yes, but..." Daniel began.

"This drug could turn the tide against the Goa'uld! Haven't you said - repeatedly - that they are the worst enemy in the Galaxy?" Kinsey asked.

"They are," Teal'c confirmed.

"So what's our orders?" O'Neill asked, tiredly, looking to Hammond.

"Go to Zorn and tell him we accept his offer. Try to get as much of the drug as possible. See if he will share something about how it's produced."

"Understood, sir."

"Your orders are to not accept less than 50 doses per month!" Kinsey added.

"Just get as much as you can. You have a go, folks," Hammond ordered.

"The Tok'ra Council went for the deal too?" Sam asked, when they met an uncomfortably looking Martouf|Lantash just outside Zorn's palace.

Martouf nodded. "They did - many of them with great enthusiasm." He frowned. "It is... disturbing. This cooperation with a Goa'uld."

"Same with our leaders. Kinsey was almost salivating at the thought of getting a mind-reading drug," O'Neill grumbled.

"There are more of the grey-furred Denebians over there," Daniel said, indicating a group by the nearby wall.

"I saw several in the town as well," Sam said. "I wonder if it's a disease spreading in the population or if we just didn't see them then? Maybe they weren't outside before?"

Just then, a bell rang and the grey furred aliens all stopped whatever they were doing and immediately left.

"Weird," Daniel said. "Both their fur colour and the way they just left when the bell rang. None of the others did."

"It's probably just natural variation, and maybe the bell signals lunch or something." O'Neill shrugged. "Come on - let's go tell the scorn-guy we're buying."

"His name is Zorn, not Scorn," Martouf corrected.

"Whatever." O'Neill walked ahead up to the guards. "Take us to your leader!"

"I cannot say I enjoy the prospect of working with Zorn," Martouf said.

"I agree with you - dealings with a Goa'uld is quite disturbing," Teal'c said, as they sat down around a table at one of the best local inns, after having talked to Zorn.

"Well, we only have to wait until he finishes producing the first batch of the drug. It shouldn't be more than a day according to what he said," Sam reminded them. "I still wish he'd let us know some more about how he produces the drug."

"He probably doesn't want to risk us just making it ourselves," Daniel said.

"I guess that's understandable," O'Neill said.

Daniel nodded slowly, then frowned. "I've been thinking. Zorn doesn't seem as bad as the other Goa'uld. Could he be different from them? I mean, I realize he's not like the Tok'ra, but if he really doesn't enslave or harm the population, then maybe he's, uh, something in between?"

"He is far from being a Tok'ra!" Martouf said, more than a little miffed.

"Have you considered something else?" Sam said. "What if he's somehow working with that guy with met when we first arrived. Q."

"You called?" Q suddenly appeared in a flash, sitting on a huge throne chair beside their table. Weirdly, no one else in the room reacted.

"Not for you!" O'Neill said sourly.

"Having now observed how you handled this situation, I notice there are no signs of advancement for your kind. Sad but expected." Q shook his head. "My first impression stand. I expect I shall recommend a merciful end. Perhaps a new species will evolve and do better."

"What!" O'Neill exclaimed.

Lantash flashed his eyes as he took control from Martouf. "How dare you pass judgement on us!"

"Please. Such needlessly dramatic!" Q rolled his eyes. "Remember you are the ones on trial, here!"

He disappeared with a puff before they could react further to his words.

"That guy is starting to annoy me!" O'Neill said.

"But it's worrying, isn't it? What he's saying, about putting us all on a trial," Daniel said.

"What would even give him the right to do that? Not that we have done anything wrong. At least we're always trying our best," O'Neill said. "That doesn't mean I think he's got anything to back up his threats with."

"So you think he's just tricking us?" Daniel asked.

"Yeah, I believe that's what I was saying."

"I, I don't think that's likely. I mean, why would he?" Daniel said.

"He's probably in cahoots with the Goa'uld in some way. Let's not worry about him for now." O'Neill yawned. "Let's get something to eat and then go to sleep, the silence in here is creeping me out."

"It does feel a little strange being the only ones in a room full of people that talks, but the others probably communicate telepathically," Sam said.

"Yeah - saying who knows what about us," O'Neill grumbled.

A scream suddenly rang through the air and one of the grey furred Denebians stumbled over a few chairs, staring at SG-1 with terror in its eyes. "Weeeeeeeeeeeee aya aya aya aya nonononononono!" It fell backwards over a bench trying to get away from them fast.

"Hey! Relax, we're harmless!" O'Neill said, getting up.

Several of the locals, both turquoise and darker blue quickly circled the grey Denebian and put their hands on it, but did not speak. Slowly it relaxed, and ended up sitting on the ground, making low sobbing sounds.

A turquoise-furred server came up to the table SG-1 and Martouf|Lantash were sitting at and quickly dipped his head three times before speaking haltingly, "Greetings. I... am to take your orders. Please."

"Do you have a menu?" O'Neill asked.

"Menu?" the server looked confused.

"A list of the food you serve," Daniel explained.

"Yes, my mind... contains that."

"What's today's special?" Daniel quickly asked.

"Nothing is special... for just today."

"What would you recommend for us?" Martouf asked. "Perhaps something that visitors to this world usually considers good?"

"Srewlan stew. With nutty-bread," the server said after thinking for a little while.

"Okay, let's have that, then. And something to drink. Do you have beer?" O'Neill wondered.

The server slowly rocked from side to side. "Not think so."

"It is an alcoholic beverage made from grain," Daniel offered.

"No. No alcohol. Not safe. For our kind. Affects mental talk. Maybe you want... Frushy. Sparkly drink. Fresh. Little sweet."

"Sure, let's have that," O'Neill said. "Can I ask a question?"

"Question? Of course. Ask, honoured guest."

"What's up with the grey ones?"

The server looked sadly towards where the grey-furred Denebian was still sitting, looking miserable. "Unfortunate one. No mental speak."

"Ah, so that's why he was talking out loud? Because he isn't telepathic?" Daniel asked.

"Not he. Is she. Yes, think that. Your word." He rocked back and forth for a little while. "Go get food for you. Please." He turned and left.

"So it is a kind of disease, probably. Or rather a birth defect maybe. It explains why the grey ones we've seen before is talking out loud," Sam said.

"Yeah, but they weren't panicking like this. They kept to themselves, though," Daniel pointed out.

"And ratted on us to the Goa'uld," O'Neill reminded him.

"If they're considered, well, outcasts in some way - which is not unusual in such a culture as this - then it makes sense they try to gain influence by working with the newcomer. The new man in power," Daniel said.

"It may make sense, but it also means we should be careful around them," O'Neill whispered, looking towards the grey alien. He looked up and suddenly smiled as he spotted the server coming their way with a cart with food on. "Time to eat. Let's worry about the rest later."

Next morning, they went to Zorn's palace to pick up the first batch of the drug. On the way there they passed several groups of the grey furred aliens. Some of them looked panicky, while others seemed strangely calm. They kept to themselves instead of mixing with the turquoise and blue aliens.

"There's definitely more of them today!" Daniel observed.

"Perhaps they are mostly out in the mornings," Teal'c suggested.

"I guess that's possible," Daniel admitted.

"Maybe." O'Neill looked uncomfortably at the group of aliens. He shook his head. "Something is going on here, and I suspect I won't like it, but I guess it's none of our business. We have our orders. Let's go pick up the goods and then get out of here."

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