The following afternoon, Daniel, Jack, and SG-3, 5 and 20 were all armed for battle and waiting in the gate room as the Stargate dialed up. Daniel looked slightly out of place with the others, being clothed once again in a black muscle shirt and jeans, just like he'd worn the first time he went to Albaren. As with that trip, it had been decided that not having Daniel identifiably dressed in his military clothing would be a smart idea, both on Albaren and on the mission itself. It would not be a good thing if any of Baal's Jaffa escaped and identified Dan'yar as a member of the SGC. The archeologist was also not wearing his glasses since it would lessen the chance that someone would recognize him as Daniel Jackson. He was, however, wearing a protective vest underneath his shirt.
"Okay, listen up, everyone," Jack called out. "In case you haven't already heard this, Doctor Jackson is in command of this mission. Now, when I say in command, I mean in command. You take your orders from him. If he tells you to do something, you do it, just like you would if it was me giving the order. And that means all of you." He looked pointedly at Colonel Bray. "Got it?"
"We understand, Colonel," Bray replied, nodding.
"Good." Jack turned back to the gate.
"Was that really necessary, Jack?" Daniel asked under his breath, feeling very self-conscious.
"I just wanted to make it clear who was in command of this mission, Daniel, in case some of them were having an issue with taking orders from a civilian."
The connection to Albaren was established, and everyone went through. They were greeted on the other side by a small group of Jaffa, who led them to the amphitheater.
The moment the SG teams entered the structure, they froze in their tracks.
"Holy. . . ." Jack's voice faded off, his jaw dropping a little, for there in the amphitheater was at least a thousand Jaffa, five times the number they had been anticipating.
Ka'ter came up to them. "I apologize that there are not more, Dan'yar. If there had been more time, others would have been able to come."
"Uhhhh, no, this is . . . this is plenty, Ka'ter," Daniel told the man. His fear, which he had pretty much gotten under control, had returned with a vengeance. How was he going to command an army this size?
"They are waiting for you to address them."
"Um . . . okay. I'll be there in just a minute."
Ka'ter nodded and walked away.
"Jack?" Daniel said, his rising panic in the tone of his voice. He felt the colonel's hand rest upon his shoulder.
"Breathe, Daniel. It wouldn't be good for your image to faint in front of your troops."
"Look at them all."
"Yeah. Cool, huh? We're definitely going to kick Baal's snakey ass."
"Have you ever commanded a force this big?"
"Nope, can't say that I have."
"Then I suppose that you don't have any advice for me?"
"Sure I do, Daniel. Don't let them see you sweat."
Daniel turned a glare upon the colonel. "Oh, thank you so much for that sage advice, Jack."
"My pleasure." Seeing the look of fear in the archeologist's eyes, Jack grew serious. "Just do your best, Daniel, and remember that they're all here because they want to be."
Daniel looked at the assembled Jaffa. He knew that the plan he had devised would have to be changed somewhat because of the large number he would be commanding. He was originally intending to rely heavily on his abilities, but, with an army this size, he might not need to use them as much, which would be a good thing.
Daniel called the SG teams together and discussed the changes in the plan of attack. Once everyone knew what they were going to do, the archeologist took a couple of deep breaths and walked to the center of the arena.
"Today we are going to attack the stronghold of Baal. We are going there to rescue two people who have been captured by him, but, with this mighty army I see before me, it is my hope that we will also be able to capture or kill Baal, which would be a great victory for all Jaffa wishing to be free. I know that each and every one of you would willingly give your life to defeat him, but I want you to know that all of your lives are important, not just to the Jaffa rebellion, but also to me. Fight and live, Jaffa, for your continued survival will mean that you can fight again another day."
Being used to their masters commanding them to give their lives in the service of their god, many of the Jaffa were surprised by Daniel's words, not knowing how to react to someone who actually valued their lives.
Several seconds of silence passed before a single voice arose and shouted, "Dan'yar!" Within moments, every Jaffa there had picked up the cry, which resounded throughout the amphitheater. Daniel held up his hands, and everyone grew quiet. The archeologist then filled the Jaffa in on the battle plans, answering questions here and there. Once finished, he told the Jaffa to head to the gate, which they did, filing out of the amphitheater quickly.
Jack came up to his friend. "You did good, Daniel."
"I just hope they listen to me about not rushing in and throwing their lives away. You know how the Jaffa are in battle."
"Yes, I do. I've killed enough to know that. You did what you could. Now, come on. We've got two people to rescue and a snake to catch."
The army marched to the Stargate. Once they reached it, the men from Earth gave radios to as many Jaffa as they could, quickly teaching them how to use them. Daniel had wanted to make sure that the Jaffa would have a way to keep in touch with him if one of the SG team members weren't around. Because of the unexpected numbers, only about one in thirty got a radio, but it would be better than none.
Daniel dialed the address for their destination. Once the wormhole had established, Jack activated the shock grenade that they'd brought and tossed it through. They waited a few seconds, then followed it through the wormhole. On the other side, they found twenty stunned Jaffa.
With a force that big, it took a while for everyone to make it through the Stargate. Once they were all there and the gate had shut down, Daniel began giving orders. Now that the time had finally come, his fear had been supplanted by determination. Sam and Teal'c were on this planet, and they were going to rescue them.
The first thing that was done was that the unconscious bodies of the Jaffa who had been guarding the gate were tied and gagged, then hidden out of sight. Daniel then assigned twenty of the rebel Jaffa to take their place. In that way, any approaching enemy Jaffa wouldn't realize the switch until they were pretty close, close enough that the rebel Jaffa could take them out. He also had an additional twenty Jaffa go hide in the nearby woods as backup for the ones who would be at the gate.
There was only one entrance to the stronghold, a huge, heavily guarded door on the north wall that would close the second an attack on the fortress began. Daniel ordered three hundred Jaffa to encircle the structure and distract the forces inside from the main attack on the entrance. SG-20 was assigned to oversee those Jaffa and give commands in his name. As for the main attacking force, they would be relying upon Daniel to take out the big guns protecting the entrance and get them through the door.
Daniel had made it clear to the Jaffa that a surprise attack would increase the chance of victory and decrease the death toll, which resulted in the quietest Jaffa army that the teams from Earth had ever encountered. However, though the Jaffa moved as quietly as they were able, it was impossible for an army of that size to move with complete stealth, especially when most of those within it were outfitted in heavy armor. Even so, both units managed to get pretty close to the stronghold before the alarm was raised.
From the shelter of the trees and rocks, the three hundred Jaffa who had positioned themselves at the south, east and west walls began firing upon the fortress continually, keeping the enemy Jaffa on those sides busy. While this was going on, Daniel, Jack, SG teams 3 and 5, and the rest of the Jaffa attacked the entrance.
Zeroing in on the four huge blast cannons that protected the door, Daniel knocked them out of commission with his power. Without that firepower, there were only the individual Jaffa to protect the entrance now. In a full frontal assault, Daniel and his men moved in.
Unlike the usual method of attack that Jaffa used, the rebel Jaffa, obeying Daniel's commands, used what cover they could to shelter behind as they advanced on the stronghold. Because of this and because of their superior numbers, only a few of them fell in comparison to the huge number of defenders that did.
As many of the rebel Jaffa fought, they cried the name Dan'yar. Hearing those cries, most of Baal's forces realized who was attacking them, and quite a few decided that they didn't want to go up against this enemy of the Goa'uld who had become legendary. Some fled, while others, those who had secretly longed for freedom, threw down their weapons and surrendered themselves, vowing their allegiance to Dan'yar and the rebel Jaffa.
In the midst of it all, Daniel drove forward, using both his abilities and his P-90 to clear the way. Jack stayed at his side, his own weapon firing with deadly accuracy.
In a surprisingly short time, the attackers made it to the entrance to the stronghold, overwhelming the forces protecting it by their sheer numbers and determination.
"Colonel Bray, we're at the entrance," Daniel announced over the radio.
"Copy, Doc . . . uh, Dan'yar," the colonel radioed back. Because of the radios that the rebel Jaffa had, it was necessary for no one to use Daniel's real name when talking through them since they were still trying to keep the number of Jaffa who knew Dan'yar's true identity down to a minimum.
"We're taking heavy fire here," Bray told him.
"Withdraw further back into the trees, if you have to, but keep up a steady barrage. We're at the door, and I'm about to open it. As we discussed before, some of those men shooting at you are going to come running this way shortly after we penetrate this door. You know what to do after that. Bring half the Jaffa back here to back us up, and leave the rest in position."
"Yes, sir," Bray responded crisply, not the tiniest hint of sarcasm in his voice.
Daniel turned to Jack to see an expression of approval and pride on the man's face.
"So, shall we invite ourselves in?" the linguist asked.
Ordering everyone else to stand clear of the door, Daniel turned to it and closed his eyes. With his mind, he sought out the controls. The instant he found them, he struck, destroying the locking mechanism. Once that was done, he moved away from the entrance and proceeded to open the door. The huge barricade slowly began to lift. The moment it had risen a couple of feet, over a dozen rebel Jaffa, who were all lined up on the ground before the door, began firing inside, hitting the enemy Jaffa that had been on the other side. The barrage of staff weapon fire was so intense that none of Baal's men could cross the opening without being hit. Added to this were the zat guns being used by SG-5 and 3 from their positions on either side of the entrance.
As the door rose still higher, more enemy Jaffa arrived to take the place of those who had fallen. And that's when Daniel stepped into action. Fire flared up and drove the Jaffa back. They were then taken out by the SG teams and rebel Jaffa.
At last, the door was all the way open and the way clear.
Daniel keyed his radio. "Colonel Bray, we're in. Everyone, you know what to do." He turned to Jack "Let's go."
"Yes, sir," Jack replied with a nod and a little smile.
Following Daniel's plan to the letter, the majority of rebel Jaffa in his unit flooded into the fortress and set about the task of sweeping it free of resistance. Several dozen remained outside to guard the entrance, while a few dozen more accompanied Daniel and Jack as they headed toward the cells. The archeologist stationed groups of those Jaffa at every intersection along the route to make sure that Baal's forces didn't close in and cut off the avenue of escape. Each of the groups had a radio, as did the Jaffa guarding the entrance.
As for SG-3 and 5, they and a large group of Jaffa had been sent on a special mission: to take out the stronghold's primary power generator, which would cripple Baal's defenses even more.
Just as Daniel had guessed, when the stronghold's defenders heard that the entrance had been breeched, most of them left their posts at the other walls and rushed to join the forces battling the attackers who were now inside. As he'd been ordered, the moment Colonel Bray noticed a reduction in the amount of fire he and his unit were under, he took half of his forces to the entrance and joined the battle inside, leaving the remaining Jaffa under the command of his 2IC and another member of his team.
Throughout the incursion, Jack had been watching Daniel, marveling at how well the archeologist was doing. Looking at him, you would never know this was his first command, and you certainly would never guess that, the previous day, he had been terrified of the thought of command. The younger man was cool and professional, his orders given firmly and decisively. And everything was working perfectly. They had overrun Baal's forces with ease and with very few casualties among the rebel Jaffa and none among the teams from Earth so far. Jack knew with certainty that he could not have done any better himself.
Of course, Daniel's paranormal abilities were another reason why things were going so well. Without them, they'd never have been able to get inside. The archeologist had been using his power sparingly, but with great effectiveness, like a skilled brain surgeon making just the right cuts to remove a tumor.
Speaking of the brain. . . . "How's the head?" Jack asked as they continued down the corridor.
"Okay," Daniel replied. "Hurts a little bit, but I'm fine. I've been taking it as easy as I can. There's no telling what we might run into when we break Sam and Teal'c out."
Jack smiled a little. "I can't wait to see the looks on their faces when they realize who all is coming to get them."
Sam and Teal'c listened to the sounds of battle. Most of what they heard were the blasts from staff weapons, which worried both of them. Were the forces of an enemy Goa'uld attacking the stronghold? If so, their situation might be going from bad to worse, especially if that Goa'uld was Anubis.
Sam cradled her broken arm against her body, eyes fixed upon the opening above their heads, as were Teal'c's. Since being captured yesterday, they had been brought before Baal twice, the first time for him to gloat over their capture, the second time for him to demand that they give him information on Earth's defenses and how to get through its Stargate. Of course, Sam and Teal'c didn't tell him anything, which resulted in Teal'c being severely beaten by two of Baal's Jaffa. The Goa'uld had then taunted them by recounting in detail how he had tortured Jack, saying that would be their fate if they did not cooperate with him.
So far, Sam had not been harmed by Baal or his Jaffa. In fact, the Goa'uld had even offered to heal Sam's arm, which had been broken during the fight with the villagers. The major had told him that she'd rather suffer. Now, she was wishing that she'd taken him up on his offer since two working arms might be needed for whatever was coming.
"I believe that the battle is drawing nearer, Major Carter," Teal'c said.
"Yeah. Who do you think it is?"
"I do not—"
The Jaffa's reply abruptly cut off at the sound of another kind of weapon, one that was intimately familiar to both of them.
"That's a P-90!" Sam shouted. "Which means that some of our people are up there."
"Indeed it does," Teal'c agreed.
"I can't believe they're actually attacking this place to get us out. I'd never have thought that the general would agree to a rescue mission."
The hopes of the teammates rising, they continued to watch anxiously as the sounds of fighting grew progressively closer. Then, all at once, a dearly loved face peered down at them.
"Sam! Teal'c!" Daniel called.
"Daniel!" Sam cried back.
"Sam, are you hurt?"
"Major Carter's arm had been fractured," Teal'c replied.
"It's okay, Daniel," Sam quickly told the archeologist. "It's not that bad. We're just so glad to see you. I can't believe you got a green light for this."
"Yeah, well, it's kind of a long story."
Just then, three Jaffa came up behind Daniel.
"Daniel, look out!" Sam shouted.
"No, it's okay, Sam. They're on our side."
The archeologist turned and talked to the Jaffa in a low voice. The men bowed their heads and disappeared from view. At that moment, Jack became visible.
"Crap," they heard him mutter. "This looks way too familiar to me." He started looking around. "There should be a control here somewhere for changing the gravity in there, or whatever it does. Ah! There it is. Brace yourselves, guys."
Knowing what was coming, Sam and Teal'c went to the wall that would soon be a floor and leaned back against it. Within seconds, they found themselves in a reclining position. A moment after that, Daniel and Jack were at their side, helping them to stand.
"Did Baal do that?" Daniel asked, looking at Sam's arm. The tone of his voice told her that, if she said yes, the Goa'uld would be in very deep trouble.
"No, it happened in the fight with the villagers. It really is okay, Daniel. It's not an open fracture."
"Well, you'll soon be home and under the tender care of Fraiser," Jack said. "You guys ready to get out of here?"
A Jaffa came up to Daniel. "Dan'yar, Baal has been sighted. He and a large group of his Jaffa are at the center of the stronghold. It appears that he is attempting to flee through the rings. What are your wishes?"
The question caused both Sam's and Teal'c's eyebrows to rise, as did the conversation that followed.
"How large is the force protecting him?" Daniel asked.
"Around a hundred strong. I believe that many of the remainder of his army have gathered to protect him."
"He probably realized that they were losing and needed the backup to help him get out."
Daniel hated the thought of the Goa'uld getting away, especially since he knew that a lot of rebel Jaffa had probably died in this assault believing that they were helping to destroy Baal. Yet the fact remained that an attack on a force that large in such tight quarters would result in a lot of casualties. "That's too many to take out without a lot of casualties," he said. "We. . . ."
Daniel's voice drifted off as he stared at one of the benches carved out of the walls of the cell. All at once, images had begun filling his mind. As they kept coming, something inside him hardened like stone. Everyone there saw the transformation in his face, not knowing what had caused it.
Daniel turned to the Jaffa. "Tell your brothers to keep Baal from escaping if they can but not to try bringing him down themselves. I'll be there as quickly as I can."
"Yes, Dan'yar." The Jaffa rushed off.
"Whoa. Wait a second, Daniel," Jack said. "You're going after Baal?"
"Yes," Daniel replied shortly, his voice as cold and hard as his expression.
"Look, I know that it would be great to get him, but it's like you said. There could be a lot of casualties attacking that big a force in such tight quarters."
"Don't worry, Jack. Remember that I said I've been taking it easy? Well, I've got plenty of juice left. I doubt those Jaffa will stick around long once I get there."
Jack studied his friend's determined face. "Did you see something?"
"Yes. Yes, I did."
"I'll tell you later."
Jack shook his head. "It's too risky."
"Jack, I am in command of this mission, and I've made a command decision," the archeologist said firmly.
Sam blinked in surprise. "Daniel's in command?"
"Yeah, and I'm beginning to wish that I hadn't made the suggestion to Hammond," Jack replied, not at all happy.
"Get Sam and Teal'c out of here and back to the gate," Daniel told him. "They both need medical attention. Tell everyone to withdraw from the complex except those who are keeping the way out clear."
"Oh, now wait just one minute, Daniel. If you're going after Baal, I'm going with you," Jack declared.
Daniel's head shook. "No. What I'm going to do, I have to do alone."
"Dammit, Daniel. What the hell did you see? What's Baal going to do?"
"It isn't something he's going to do, Jack, it's something he already did!" Daniel yelled angrily.
"What are you talk—"
"I remember, Jack! I remember what that bastard did to you. God, I remember it all."
Jack's eyes closed. "Shit," he whispered.
"And there is no way that he's going to get away with it," Daniel stated with determination. "I couldn't do anything before, but I sure as hell can now. So, just go, Jack. Get Sam and Teal'c to safety."
At that moment, there was the sound of a distance explosion, and the lights went out. What must have been the equivalent of emergency lights began flickering on and off weakly.
"SG-3 and 5 have taken out the primary power generator," Daniel said. "Baal's going to be getting desperate. I have to go." He started to leave but was stopped by Jack's voice.
"Daniel, don't do this for me. It's over, dead, in the past."
Daniel's eyes met his, eyes full of both anger and guilt. "Not for me it isn't, Jack. For me, it's like it happened yesterday."
"Be careful, Daniel," Sam said as the archeologist once again turned away.
"I will, Sam," he said, then hurried away.
"Dammit!" Jack cursed furiously. Why did Daniel have to remember what happened, and now, of all times? The colonel wanted to go after him but knew that the archeologist would sense his presence in an instant. There was nothing he could do except what Daniel had told him to – and pray that his friend would be all right.
Jack keyed his mic. "This is O'Neill. We've got Carter and Teal'c. Everyone withdraw to the main entrance except those who are keeping our escape route clear."
"What about Dan'yar?" Colonel Reynolds asked.
Jack paused. "He's going after Baal."
Daniel hurried down the corridor, his senses seeking ahead of him, searching for enemy Jaffa. But he encountered no resistance, all of Baal's forces either having been dealt with or now gathered around their master, protecting him.
A part of Daniel knew that what he was doing wasn't the wisest of decisions, but the other, bigger part could only think about the memories of seeing one of his best friends brutally tortured over and over again – and the memories of standing by and watching helplessly as it happened. The guilt of his inaction was equally as strong as the rage over what Baal had done. Yes, it had been he who secretly placed the thought of Yu in Teal'c mind, which, ultimately, enabled Jack to escape, but that did not change the fact that he'd allowed his friend to go through that kind of suffering, offering only the option of ascension. Logic told Daniel that, if he had stepped in and done something more, Oma would have stopped him, but logic was not what was driving him right now.
The sound of staff weapon fire made Daniel increase his pace. He soon reached the place where rebel Jaffa had a large force of Baal's men trapped in a corridor. Daniel's senses told him that they were guarding a single room and that Baal was within it.
"Dan'yar!" called one of the rebel Jaffa. Daniel saw that it was Ka'ter.
"Ka'ter, pull the others back. I'll deal with this."
The Jaffa nodded and called to his brethren, who immediately obeyed the command to pull back.
As the staff weapon fire from the attackers ceased, Baal's Jaffa also stopped firing, wondering what was happening. Then, a single individual all in black stepped into view.
Before a single Jaffa could get off a shot, the dim, flickering light within the corridor was suddenly brightened like the sun as a mammoth ball of flame, filling the corridor from wall to wall, blazed into existence. It launched itself straight at them, barreling down the corridor like the fires of hell. Crying out in terror, most of the Jaffa fled, those that remained covering their heads and waiting for destruction. But the fire did not touch them. It sheeted past, blistering them with its heat, then dispersed into fiery tendrils that faded into nothingness.
As the remaining Jaffa looked up, they saw the lone man walking purposefully toward them.
"I am Dan'yar," he said. "Leave and you will be spared."
Hearing the feared name, most of those who had stayed hurried away, but a foolish few chose to fight. One got off a shot with his staff weapon and watched, stunned, as the energy blast was deflected with a wave of Dan'yar's hand. An instant later, the Jaffa was thrown through the air to strike violently against a wall. Several more Jaffa leapt up to fight but were also thrown back, landing in a heap thirty feet away. A few others cried out in pain as fire licked at their feet.
Realizing that they had no chance against this man with the power of a god, all of the Jaffa in the corridor fled.
Daniel's eyes turned to the doorway behind which Baal hid. His will hardening, he stepped forward, determined to bring the Goa'uld down.