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5. Surprising and Unpleasant News

Okay, so when are we picking up the next quantity of this stuff?" O'Neill asked.

"Humans - always in such a hurry!" Zorn complained. "You should be happy you are getting this much. It takes time and resources to produce."

"Hey, you were the one that came up with this scheme!" O'Neill reminded him.

"This reminds me... perhaps now you can give us a bit more information about the drug. We're going to analyze it anyway," Sam said.

Zorn scoffed. "You will never be able to replicate it! You are not nearly clever enough! Even I have to rely on the Denebians for the main ingredient."

"Something that grows here?" Daniel wondered.

Zorn shrugged, then laughed. "Who cares if you know! I get it from the bodies of the creatures of this world. They have a gland that allows them to read minds."

"So, you, uh, milk them, or what?" Daniel asked, confused.

"No. It does not work. You need the whole gland."

"You remove part of the body of the Denebians to create the drug?" Martouf asked, horrified.

"Of course." Zorn shrugged. "What does it matter? They are animals. Lower even than humans. Besides, it does not harm them. The gland is not necessary."

"They need it to communicate telepathically - without it they can't, isn't that right?" Sam asked.

"It is, but they can communicate verbally just as well. Why should that not be good enough for them? Even I, their god, talk this way."

"Is that also why their fur turns grey?" Sam asked.

"Yes. Some sort of side effect." Zorn waved indecisively with his hand.

"You are harming them! They're going crazy out there!" O'Neill exclaimed.

"Those newly operated on take some time to adjust. That is all. I am actually giving them something far more valuable. They become my loyal servants, and thus they have a high position compared to anyone else. Most of them were scum and various lowlife before."

O'Neill shook his head. "This is crazy! I can't believe we agreed to this! Come on, guys, we're out of here!"

Zorn snorted. "I doubt your leaders will agree. You will return." He leaned back in his throne chair with a confident expression.


"You still want us to continue the deal? Even after we've told you what that Goa'uld does to the locals?" O'Neill asked, incredulous.

Kinsey shrugged. "As I said before, they're not humans. Besides, they aren't really harmed. They can speak just like we do."

"No, well, yes, they can, but it's not how they usually communicate," Daniel said.

"Well then they're just going to have to learn it, because we need this drug!" Kinsey exclaimed angrily.

"I agree. It is important in our fight against our enemies," Samuels insisted. "More important than a few... hyenas. Who will be able to adjust and live their lives anyway."

"It's affecting their entire social structure. They, they go mad! At least to begin with!" Daniel said.

"I agree with Doctor Jackson. This is wrong," Teal'c said.

"I don't care what you think. It is not your decision. Go back there. Apologize to Zorn, and get the drug. It's as simple as that!" Kinsey said.

"I absolutely refuse to do that!" O'Neill exclaimed.

"Then we will find someone else to do so. Perhaps it is time for you to stand back," Kinsey said.

O'Neill rose angrily, but Hammond held up a hand.

"I'm sorry, Colonel, but you are going. I see your point, but we are at war."

O'Neill just stared at Hammond, then sat down heavily, shaking his head in disbelief.


"Ah, Marty. I see you're here too," O'Neill said, noticing the Tok'ra as soon as they entered the waiting room at Zorn's palace.

"I am. As are you," Martouf observed somberly. He slowly shook his head. "I had not thought I would see it happen, but the Council decided the drug is more important than the people of this world. Not all of them, that is true, but a majority voted to continue the agreement - despite what we learned about the origin of the drug."

"You're not alone. Our leaders made the same decision," O'Neill grumbled. "Scumbags, all of them."

"Such an eminently expected decision! And so typical of pathetic mortals like you!" Q said, appearing in a flash before their eyes.

"Go away! I'm not in any mood for your games!" O'Neill told him.

"You are disturbing us," Teal'c said.

"Oh? Moi?" Q laughed. "How unfortunate for you! I am here to pass judgement. You have been tested, and you failed! Such a disappointment, but I had expected it."

"Failed? You haven't even told us what you are testing us on?" Daniel said.

"Screw that! Who gives you the right to pass judgement?" O'Neill exclaimed angrily.

"I am a Q! I am omnipotent! Of course, I have that right! Now, kindly prepare to receive punishment! Maybe the next... quasi sentient species in the Galaxy will evolve better. And faster." He raised his hand and was about to snap his fingers when Sam called out.

"You said you were judging us for this mission. It's not over yet," she said.

"What is there left to do? Be delivery boys for your leaders!" Q scoffed.

"Samantha is correct. Please leave us," Martouf said.

Q shrugged. "As you wish. See you soon!" He was gone in a flash.

A servant entered the room, bowing lightly to them. "Zorn is expecting you. Please follow me."

"No. We are leaving," Martouf said.

"What?" Daniel frowned.

O'Neill nodded. "He's right. Come on." He grabbed Daniel and gave him a light push in the direction of the door, and they all left.


"So, what's the plan?" O'Neill asked.

"We cannot let the people of this world suffer, just so we can get the telepathy drug," Martouf said.

"We have our orders, don't we?" Daniel asked. "Didn't you say we had to follow them, Jack?"

"I was wrong. We're not following them. It feels wrong. It's felt wrong for a long time. Let's do something about it."

Daniel nodded. "Okay. What?"

"Zorn does not have many guards. Maybe we can kill him," Teal'c suggested.

"I like the idea, but we should be careful. He's telepathic, after all," O'Neill said.

"Only when we're close. At least I think so. I don't think he's a very strong telepath," Sam said.

"And he needs to take the drug."

"What if we can stop him from making more?" Daniel suggested.

"Not a bad idea, but he probably has quite a lot of it since we didn't pick up the batch that was made for us," O'Neill said. "But I agree that he probably doesn't have any long-range capabilities."

"How do we kill him if we can't get close?" Daniel asked.

"Maybe the locals can help us? They may be able to, well, scramble his telepathy or know some way of counteracting it," Sam suggested.

"All right. If no one has a better idea, then let's go talk to that lady Roman or whatever her name was."

"Rokhan," Martouf corrected.

"Whatever."


"But don't you want to save your people?" O'Neill exclaimed.

"Yes. Apologies, but not like this. No violence. Never violence. It is not our way."

"You're not doing anything harmful to him. You're just scrambling his mind reading capability," Daniel said.

"That is very harmful. Unacceptable. Block another's mind touch. No, no. The feel for others. Thoughts. Talk. Feeling." She shook her head. "No one will do so."

"Zorn does."

"He is a stranger. Different rules. He can. We cannot."

"Wait, it's not just thoughts that you can read. You sense their feelings too?"

"Of course. Community. Togetherness. Talk. Feelings. All in the mind read."

"That's horrible! No wonder the grey furred ones went crazy! They couldn't sense the others any more!" Sam exclaimed.

"Can't we make a drug to counteract the telepathy?"

"We know no way. No one would do such science. Horrible!"

"Come on - we're not getting anything here," O'Neill decided and went for the door with the others following.


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