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Shortly after arriving back at the SGC, Daniel and Sam were given the whole story.  After testing the original virtual reality scenario that had been created, Teal'c claimed that it was not accurate, that Anubis' drone had been too easy to beat.  Because of that, Doctor Lee made some modifications.  Now, it appeared that, no matter what Teal'c did to gain victory in the simulation, the computer kept changing things to make the "game" even harder.  It even made the supersoldiers impervious to the weapons developed from the Telchak device.  Fortunately, it also gave Teal'c a way to counteract that in the form of a prototype for a frequency modulator chip created for the weapons.

Teal'c had already died in the game several times.  Each time that happened, the game reset, and everything started all over again.  What made the situation even worse was that, every time Teal'c died in the game, he received a jolt from the chair.  It was causing spikes in his adrenaline production, which, in turn, was causing his blood pressure and heart rate to rise dangerously.  If things kept going like this, Teal'c would  either suffer a heart attack or eventually run out of adrenaline.  His heart would then slow, his blood pressure would drop, and his entire organ system would fail.  When he heard that, Daniel couldn't help but think of língchí, the ancient Chinese method of torture and execution often called "death by a thousand cuts".

Daniel and Sam watched a monitor that showed the simulation Teal'c was trapped within.  It looked very much like a video game.  Also in the lab were Bill Lee and Janet.  The doctor was closely monitoring Teal'c's physical condition.

"You said there's a failsafe?" Daniel asked Bill.

The scientist nodded.  "All he has to do is take the elevator up to the surface."

"But to do that, he'd have to be willing to quit, and we all know that Teal'c doesn't quit."

"Teal'c knows that this isn't real," Sam said.  "I have to think that, sooner or later, he'll realize that he has no other choice."

Bill turned back to the bank of monitors displaying the information about the simulation, the chair, and Teal'c.  "He's at level 28.  He's already got the modulator chip, and he's used it to kill the first two supersoldiers.  He's hunting for the third."  The scientist looked at the bio readings.  "Man, he's not in good shape."

Sam and Daniel watched on the monitor as Teal'c was attacked by a drone, the supersoldier brutally beating him.  The Jaffa's physical body reacted to each blow with a jerk.

The sight of Teal'c being brutalized angered and upset Daniel.  "This is ridiculous.  It's torturing him."

"Why won't he quit?" Bill asked in frustration.

"Wait a minute.  He's headed for the elevator."

"He's going to use the failsafe," Sam said in relief.

They watched the virtual representation of Teal'c flee from the supersoldier and make it to the elevator just in time.  It took him up to Level 1.  But when Teal'c stepped out of the elevator, he was not on the surface.  He was still in the bowels of the mountain, and the game had restarted.

"It didn't work," Sam said.  "He's back in the game."  She and Daniel looked over at Bill and Janet.

"Why didn't it work?" the doctor asked.

Daniel thought about it.  "Teal'c wanted this simulation to be as real as possible, right?"

"Yes," Bill answered.

"Well, in a real situation, Teal'c would never give up, no matter what.  Could that affect the game somehow?"

"Yes, it probably would," Sam replied.  "If the game evaluated his character and came to that conclusion, in order for it to maintain the level of realism it's been programmed to, it would reject any attempt Teal'c made to quit, no matter how much Teal'c may really want to."

"Then that means it won't let him quit," Bill said.

Jack was not happy when they told him about the latest problem.

"You know, I always thought a failsafe system was supposed to be somewhat safe . . . from failure!" he said angrily.

Bill lifted his hands and shrugged helplessly.

Sam told Jack what their theory was.  He agreed that Teal'c wouldn't give up.

"It's also just a game," he then said.

"The game doesn't know that," Sam explained.

"So, how do we get him out?"

"Removing the connections while the system is operating could be fatal," Janet said.  "At the very least, it could cause significant brain damage.  But then, the physical stress that the chair is putting him under is going to eventually kill him anyway.  We may have no choice but to take the chance."

Jack turned to Daniel.  "Couldn't you do something?  I mean, you brought Carter back to life.  Couldn't you fix any damage that would be done to Teal'c if we removed him from the chair?"

"I don't know, Jack.  I'd hate to gamble with Teal'c's life like that."

"The truth is that we don't know what disconnecting him from that chair during a simulation would do to Teal'c's mind," Bill said.  "It's possible that his consciousness would stay within the chair's matrix."

"You mean like when that alien entity transferred Sam's consciousness into the base's computer system?" Daniel asked.

"Not exactly, but, yeah, sort of like that."

"So, right now, the only way out is for Teal'c to win the game," Sam said with a note of resignation.

"Can he?" Jack asked.

"It seems to be getting harder and harder.  Every time it appears he's won, the game adds a new twist."

"So it's not going to let him win."

"No, the chair doesn't have an ego.  It's not trying to beat Teal'c, just provide a challenge that's worthy of his abilities."

"Ironically, it's Teal'c's ego that created this problem in the first place," Daniel remarked.  "Not that his self image isn't entirely accurate."

"If this keeps up, I will to have to begin giving him adrenalin to sustain his heart rate," Janet said.  "The problem is that I can't keep him going like that for long."

"There has to be a way for him to win," Sam said.

As the game continued, Janet made a call to the infirmary.  A short while later, she was hooking Teal'c up to an IV.  They soon saw an improvement in the Jaffa's vital signs.  Unfortunately, not long after that, Teal'c again lost in the game and received another shock as his virtual self died.  Daniel grimaced at the sight of Teal'c being shot by a drone that had been cloaked and suddenly appeared before him.

The game restarted yet again.  Everyone watched as Teal'c successfully overcame one challenge after another.  This time, instead of someone setting the base's autodestruct, as had happened before, a Naquadah generator was rigged on a feedback loop, and there wasn't enough time to stop it.  Sam and Teal'c decided to get rid of the generator through the gate before it exploded.

In the gate room, Sam ordered Sergeant Harriman to dial the address of a lifeless planet.  The gate began to spin.  But, as Chevron Four was encoded, the sergeant was zatted from behind.  Jack came into view, holding a zat gun.

"Sir, what are you doing?!" the virtual Sam asked.

She and the people watching the game got the answer when Jack's eyes glowed.  An instant later, the Naquadah generator exploded.

"Oh, now that is just plain wrong!" Jack complained.  "It made me a Goa'uld!"

"That's never happened before," Sam said.

"Obviously, the game decided it needed to add yet another twist," Daniel surmised.

"Well, let me state for the record that I really don't like what it came up with," Jack groused.

Daniel frowned.  "Hey, I've got a question.  Where am I?  I haven't been in any of the simulations I've watched."

"Um . . . yeah.  You wouldn't be," Bill responded.


"Because Teal'c said it would make winning too easy."

Sam nodded.  "He was right about that.  If this scenario was real, and Daniel was there, what would happen?"

"He'd kick some supersoldier ass," Jack answered.

Sam nodded.  "Exactly.  With Daniel there, they'd be able to deal with the drones a lot more quickly and would probably manage to take care of the other problems as well.  In order for this to be a real challenge, Daniel had to be out of the picture."

"Teal'c had me include in the programming that Daniel was out of the country on leave," Bill told them.

"Can you change that?  Put Daniel back in?" Jack asked.  "Then he can give Teal'c a hand, and this whole thing will end."

Lee shook his head.  "Not while a simulation is running."

Sam got to her feet.  "I can't just sit here.  I have to figure out a way to help Teal'c."

The others watched her leave, hoping that she would think of something.

Daniel entered the lab Sam had gone to.  She was sitting before a computer, staring at something on the screen.  Nearby was another virtual reality chair, this one unoccupied.

The archeologist walked up to her.

"How's he doing?" she asked.

"Not well.  His physical exhaustion is translating into the game.  It's like he's having trouble even playing anymore.  It still won't let him go."  It had been really hard watching the representation of Teal'c sitting on the floor in utter exhaustion as game after game played around him, each one ending with the base being blown up.

"I spoke to one of the scientists on P7J-989.  He says there's nothing they can do under the circumstances."

Daniel nodded slightly.  "What are you doing?"

"They had a neural imprint of Teal'c's mind on file from when we were trapped in the chairs six years ago."


"Yeah, I try not to think about it.  Anyway, I'm running a simulation on this chair using the same parameters that Teal'c's dealing with now."


"Well, the imprint is nowhere near the same as a live, active mind.  Plus, a lot has changed in the last six years."

"Yeah, but not the essence of Teal'c's character."

"See, that's what worries me.  I hope it has.  Now, I have run hundreds of simulations.  No matter what Teal'c does, the programming adapts.  Every time it looks like he's won, the chair makes it harder.  It's almost like the game is reading Teal'c's mind and somehow seeing this one game as a microcosm for our war against the Goa'uld."

"Well, that's how Teal'c probably treats every battle we fight with them," Daniel said.

"Well, according to these results, six years ago, despite what Teal'c led us to believe, deep down, he didn't really think the Goa'uld could ever be defeated."

"Well, he doesn't think that now.  He can't, not after everything we've accomplished."

"You're right.  He doesn't."  Sam looked up at Daniel.  "When you were missing on Tegalus, Teal'c told me that he believed you were alive.  He said he thought that you were destined to strike the final blow against the Goa'uld.  If he didn't believe that they could be defeated, he wouldn't have said that.  I don't know how he felt before you gained your abilities, but I'm pretty certain that Teal'c now thinks we can beat the Goa'uld.  If that wasn't the case, no matter how long or how hard Teal'c played the game, he wouldn't win."  She shook her head.  "Ultimately, it may not matter either way.  Teal'c isn't going to be able to play much longer before it kills him.  He may not have the time it will take to find a way to beat the game."

Daniel sat down.  "To be honest, my abilities aren't being all that useful now.  I could probably fry the circuits of that chair, but I don't want to think about what that would do to Teal'c."

"Daniel, is there some way that you could contact Teal'c the way that you got through to me when Anubis was possessing me?"

"Maybe, but what good would it do?  Teal'c needs more than a pep talk."

Sam sighed.  "Yes, you're right."  She looked at the screen.  "This isn't helping.  Come on.  Let's get back to Teal'c."

They returned to the lab where Teal'c was.

"Anything?" Jack asked.

"No, sir.  I'm afraid not," Sam replied.  She walked over to one of the computer stations as Daniel went to the game monitor.

Janet checked Teal'c's pupils, a worried frown on her face.  She went over to the bank of monitors, studying the data on Teal'c's physical condition.

"We're running out of time," she said.  "A decision is going to have to be made pretty soon about forcibly removing him from that chair."

"You know, it's too bad we can't hook up a joystick to this thing," Jack remarked, "give him a little help, a little backup maybe."

Bill Lee's expression turned thoughtful.  "Actually . . . we could link up another chair and send someone else into the same simulation."  He shook his head, making a sound of rejection.  "That wouldn't make any difference.  The . . . the processors would network, and the second person would just fall victim to the same altered elements in the simulation that have already trapped Teal'c."

Sam thought of something.  "Unless the new player had an advantage."  She turned to Jack.  "Sir, you may have done it again."

"Yes."  Jack paused.  "How did I do it this time?"

"These graphics are being generated by a data recorder that's tracking the game.  It's actually interfaced into the system between the chair's processor and Teal'c.  The chair decides what's going to happen, Teal'c responds.  Those responses are then incorporated, processed, and we see the results.  It's a continuous loop of ever-changing data."

 "Oh."  There was another pause from Jack.  "Still waiting on my good idea."

"The recorder causes a two-second delay between the programming in the chair and the experience in Teal'c's mind.  He won't know the difference, but we could use it to our advantage."

Bill understood what she was getting at.  "If . . . if we hook up the second chair to the first, without using the recorder in the loop. . . ."

"The new player would know what was about to happen in the game two seconds before it occurred," Sam finished.

"Like precognition," Daniel said, knowing that experience very well.

"Exactly.  It's not much, but it might give us enough of an edge to help both players win."

"That's assuming the chair's programming won't become aware of it and adapt," Bill said.

Janet frowned.  "Which would mean that the second player might be trapped along with Teal'c."

"I'll do it," Daniel, Sam and Jack all said at the same time.  They looked at each other.

"Okay, before we get into an argument here, I'm going to say that I am the most logical choice," Daniel stated.

"You're probably right," Sam admitted.  "You have experience in dealing with precognition, so it wouldn't take you as long to get used to it."

"What about the fact that Daniel was written out of the game?" Jack asked.

"The game would probably adapt to his presence, create a scenario that explains why he's there," Bill replied.  "But there could be a problem.  The game may know about Daniel's paranormal abilities.  If it does, once he enters the simulation, it may alter the scenario to, um . . . neutralize the advantage he'd give Teal'c."

"Whoa.  What do you mean by neutralize?"

"The most logical response would be to target him and try to kill him off as soon as possible."

Jack didn't like what he was hearing.  "So, you're saying that he'd have a big red bull's eye painted on him."


"And if he gets killed too many times, he'd be in the same situation as Teal'c," Janet said.

"But we don't know for sure if the game knows about my abilities," Daniel pointed out.

"Even if it doesn't now, the second you use them in the game, it will find out about them," Jack responded.

"Then I won't use them."  Everyone stared at him.  "What?  You know, I didn't always have these abilities.  It might be hard not to use them instinctively if there's a threat, but I think I can do it."

"Actually, if the game doesn't know about your abilities, you wouldn't be able to use them anyway," Bill stated.

"He's right," Sam said.  "None of what goes on in the game is in the real, physical world.  Daniel's telekinetic and pyrokinetic abilities affect physical matter.  He couldn't use them on objects and people that exist in a virtual world.  The only way that Daniel could use his abilities would be if the game wrote them into the scenario."

"So, what you're saying is that, if I can't use my abilities once I get in the game, it means that the game doesn't know I have them," Daniel said.


"Then I guess that will be a good way to find out where we stand."

"I'm not so sure about this," Jack said.  "I think, to be on the safe side, I should go in."

"Sir, I don't think that would be a good idea," Sam responded.  "The game is intuitive.  It learns from the players.  Bringing you into the game would mean that it would start learning from you as well, specifically, your knowledge of tactics, and it's already too hard for Teal'c to beat.  On the other hand, Daniel's greatest knowledge – his skills with languages, archeology and anthropology – would be of no use to the game.  It couldn't benefit from them."

"So, as far as that goes, I'm harmless," Daniel said.

Jack almost snorted.  "Daniel, anyone who thinks you're harmless is an idiot, and that was true even before you got your super powers."

"There is another reason why Daniel would be the best choice to go," Sam said.  "Though his abilities like telekinesis may not work, his ability to sense danger and see the future probably will."

"How come they'd still work but not the other things?" Jack asked.

"Because they have nothing to do with influencing physical matter."

"Regardless of whether the drone is flesh and blood or a virtual creation, it's still a danger to me," Daniel explained, "and my sixth sense would pick up on it."

Sam nodded.  "Right, and it's possible that you may also be able to speak telepathically to Teal'c. All of those things could be a huge advantage in the game."

Daniel gave a short nod.  "All right, let's do it."

"I can't say that I like this idea," Janet said, "but I guess we have no other choice."

The other chair was brought into the lab.

"Okay, there's something you need to understand," Bill said to Daniel as he was hooked up.  "Because you and Teal'c will be playing together, if either one of you dies, the simulation will consider the game lost and will reset, even if the other person is still alive."

"I'll remember that."

Bill went over to the computer and entered in some data.  "Okay, the second chair is hooked up the way we want it to be.  We're all set."

Sam stepped up to Daniel and gave him a long kiss.  "Be careful, okay?"

He gave her a smile.  "I will."  He looked over at Bill.  "I'm ready."

"Good luck," Jack said.

An instant later, Daniel found himself standing in an SGC corridor.  He touched his own hand, feeling the solidness of flesh and bone.

"Wow, this is interesting.  It's hard to believe it isn't real."

"Threat level: Foxtrot Alpha Six," called Harriman's voice over the PA system.  "All security teams to the gate room."

Several security men ran past Daniel.  He looked up and down the corridor and spotted Teal'c coming around a corner, looking tired.

"Teal'c!" he called.

The Jaffa stopped, staring at him.  "You should not be here, Daniel Jackson."  He raised his weapon and aimed it at the archeologist.

"Teal'c, what are you doing?"

"You are another ploy of the game.  You are most likely a Goa'uld.  If I do not kill you, you will use your abilities to defeat me."

"Teal'c, I'm not a Goa'uld.  I'm—"

Before Daniel could answer, Teal'c pulled the trigger.  Instinct took over, and Daniel's mind attempted to stop the bullet.  It didn't work, and Daniel felt the searing pain of the slug slamming into his chest.  He fell against the wall, slowly sliding down as blackness covered his vision.

"He shot him!" Jack exclaimed in shock.

"Yeah," Sam said.  "I'm afraid that, at this point, Teal'c isn't going to trust anyone.  At least now we know that the game doesn't know about Daniel's abilities.  I'd think that Daniel would have stopped the bullet, if he was able to.  That's a good thing."

"Yeah, if he can manage not to keep getting killed by Teal'c."

Again, Daniel found himself standing in the same place as before.

"Okay, that wasn't quite the way I thought things would go."

The same announcement came over the PA, and, like before, security personnel went running by.  On cue, Teal'c came around the corner.

"Teal'c!  Now, before you start wondering why I'm here, let me explain that. . . ."  Teal'c lifted his side arm, yet again pointing it at Daniel.  "No, no, no!  Wait!  Don't—"

This time, the pain of the bullet lasted only a second before Daniel's consciousness fled.  No sooner was he 'dead' then he was alive again and standing in the same place as the first two times.

"I got to get used to this," he muttered.  He watched the men running by, noticing something weird for the first time.  Ghostly images of each man ran ahead of them.  Daniel realized that it was the two-second delay causing this.  He was simultaneously seeing where the men were now and where they'd be in two seconds.  Okay, that was more than a little strange.  If it wasn't for his experience with precognition and his sixth sense, he'd be kind of freaked out.

Really not wanting to get shot again, Daniel hurried through a doorway across the corridor and hid behind the wall until Teal'c was past.  That's when he realized something.  He could not sense Teal'c's presence, nor that of anyone else.  It did make sense.  None of these people were physically there.

Though Daniel knew that it could cause problems, he was almost wishing that he could use his abilities.  He'd gotten used to the security of having them, the knowledge that that power was at his command.  Now that he didn't have it, he felt somewhat crippled.  He'd have to adapt to doing things the 'old-fashioned' way again.

Daniel got himself a sidearm and went in search of Teal'c.  He knew that the Jaffa would have to go to Sam's lab to get the modulator chip, so that would be the best place to look.

Teal'c was where Daniel thought he'd be, apparently searching for the chip.  The archeologist entered, his weapon aimed at his friend.  The Jaffa raised his own gun.

"Easy," Daniel said.  "Don't shoot.  Just hear me out.  Okay, it's me.  I'm real.  I'm not a Goa'uld, and I'm going to prove that to you, okay?"

Teal'c pulled the trigger.  Daniel's reacted instinctively again and tried to stop the bullet.  He was shocked when, this time, it worked.

"Uh oh," he said.  Before he could say anything else, Teal'c shot again.  Daniel stopped that bullet, too, then jerked the weapon out of Teal'c's hand.

In the 'real' world, Sam said, "Uh oh," echoing Daniel.

"What just happened?" Jack asked.  "How come he can do that now?"

"Hold on, sir."  Sam kept watching the screen.  Daniel was talking to Teal'c.

"Teal'c, listen to me," he was saying.  "I'm not what you think I am.  I'm playing, too.  I'm in a chair just like—"

Daniel's voice broke off, his sixth sense warning him of danger at the same time as the two-second precognition showed him the threat.  He spun around just in time to see two drones step into the doorway.  They fired upon him and Teal'c.  Daniel managed to stop the energy bolts, then flung the drones back against the opposite wall.  Before he could do anything else, his senses screamed another warning at him.  Then a fiery bolt of agony speared through his chest from a weapon he could not see, held by a cloaked drone.

"Oh, this isn't good," Sam said as the game reset yet again.

"Okay, could someone explain this to me?" Jack asked.  "I still don't understand how come Daniel's abilities didn't work before, but they do now."

"We screwed up, sir.  We forgot one important thing."

Bill slapped his forehead.  "Right!  Why didn't I think of that?"

Jack waved his hand.  "Hello.  Explanation please."

"Do you recall what I said about how the simulations work, General?" Bill asked.

"You mean that stuff about a matrix?"

The scientist nodded.  "Part of the programming for the simulations come from the memories of the user."

"Neither one of us thought about the fact that, once Daniel became a player in the game, the chair would read his memories, those that it considered relevant," Sam said, "and some of those memories. . . ."

"Would be of Daniel using his abilities to fight Goa'uld," Jack finished.  "Crap."

"What just happened, all three of the drones converging on the lab, is the game's response to the threat Daniel poses."

"Big red bull's eye," Jack muttered.

"I'm afraid so, sir.  You see, in this simulation, Anubis is in control of the drones, and, as Daniel is aware, Anubis knows about his abilities.  In a real situation, Anubis would have commanded the drones to seek Daniel out and do all they could to kill him.  The game is using that fact to create a new problem to overcome."

"So, we made things even worse by sending Daniel in."

"Maybe, maybe not.  Daniel will be aware of the danger now and be more careful."

Sam and the others turned back to the screen.  Daniel was running down a corridor, frequently looking over his shoulder.  Not slowing, he entered Sam's lab.  Before Teal'c could lift his weapon, Daniel psychically snatched the gun out of his hand and tossed it across the room.

"Okay, Teal'c.  I've got some things to explain to you, but that will have to wait for a second," the archeologist said.

He turned to the door, closing it.  He then locked it, fried the controls, and wedged the door shut by warping the edges.  He did the same with the door on the other side of the room.

"Okay, that should hold them off for a little while," he said.  He turned back to Teal'c.  His voice and manner softened upon seeing the slightly glazed look in Teal'c's eyes.  The man looked like he was on the verge of collapse.  "Teal'c, you need to hear me out.  Do you remember what happened the last time around?  I came in here and tried to talk to you, but you tried to shoot me.  Then all three drones attacked us.  I was killed.  Maybe you were, too."  He saw confusion and uncertainty on Teal'c's face.  "I know.  You've been through this so many times it's probably just one big blur, but you have to concentrate.  I know all this because I'm real.  I'm in another Gamekeeper chair.  I entered the game to help you."  He stepped forward and grasped his friend's arm.  "I know how tired you are, buddy, but I'm going to help you beat this thing."

Teal'c's eyes cleared, gazing at him intently.  Then he reached out and put his hand on Daniel's shoulder.

"Daniel Jackson."

Daniel smiled gently.  "Yeah.  It's really me, Teal'c."

The Jaffa sagged a little, bracing himself against the worktable, his head bowed.  "It will not let me out."

"I know.  The game thinks that, in a real situation, you'd never quit."

"No matter what I do, it is not possible, Daniel Jackson.  It is not possible!"

"Yes, it is.  That's why I'm here."

Teal'c lifted his head and looked at Daniel.

"We can do this, Teal'c.  There may be just one little problem."

As if in response to Daniel's statement, they both heard loud banging on the door Daniel had come through, then the sound of several drone weapons firing at it.

"The door will eventually fail," Teal'c stated.

"Yeah, I know, and I'm betting that those drones are really bent on getting in here.  That's the problem I was talking about.  When I first entered the game, my abilities didn't work, which is why you were able to shoot me that first time . . . and the second time.  By the way, if either of us dies, we both lose.  The game resets.  Anyway, all of a sudden, my abilities have started working in here, and that could be a big problem."

"The drones will see you as a great threat and seek to destroy you."

"Yeah.  I'm going to be their number one target.  But, if we can get past that, we've got a good chance of winning this game."

"I am glad you are here, Daniel Jackson."

The linguist nodded once.  "Come on.  Let's find that chip and win this game."

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