Part 11: Building Trust
Now that Kuk was out of the way, they didn’t have to worry as much about stealth. Jack called for General Hammond to send a few teams to take out the rest of the criminals and rescue the people. SG1 had finished its primary mission—capture or incapacitate the God of Darkness. Now they needed to find the mirror gate while they waited for reinforcements from SGC.
After a few minutes, Jim started to regain his equilibrium. He glanced over at Sandburg. There was a hint of dark humor in his voice. “I see you’ve been hanging out in the toy department at the store again. Nice idea, Chief, but remind me to run you over with the truck when we get home.”
Blair managed a half smile. “I’ll put it on my calendar.” He turned to Jack. “Are you sure about this? He sounds like Jim. Maybe it’s really him.”
“It sounded like Kowalski, too. Right up until the moment he tried to kill me.”
Blair slumped visibly. He watched as Teal’c led Jim over to sit by the throne. The rest of SG1 was busy tying up the cult members and dragging them into the adjacent room.
Blair sat down not too far from Jim, but noticeably out of reach. He addressed Jack, never taking his eyes off his partner. “What happens to Jim next?”
“We take him to the Tollen and see if they’ll separate Kuk from his body.”
“And then what?”
“That’ll be up to him.”
Jim shook his head in disgust. “Either you’re good with the B.S., or you’re incredibly naïve You obviously know about me and my abilities. You don’t think the Air Force is going to let me go free and clear, do you?”
“They will if they don’t know about your little talents. Only SG1 and General Hammond know. And none of us would give that information up.”
“So the Air Force is full of Boy Scouts these days?”
“Here and there. But some of the officers earn their merit badges by stabbing others in the back. That’s why SG1 won’t say anything. Not with people like Colonel Maybourne running around. He gives idiots a bad name.”
Jim seemed to relax a little. In fact, it looked like he was about to go to sleep. Blair watched as his exhausted friend slumped towards the floor little by little until he was lying on his side. Blair moved over next to him to keep an eye on him.
Jim was dreaming. He lay on a cold table, strapped down on his stomach. They were a few men in the room, but he couldn’t see them. And then he heard it, hissing and writhing, coming towards him. The smell made him nauseous, but he could seem to dial it down. A sharp pain seized him—as if someone jammed a knife into the back of his neck. It was that worm! That thing! It was crawling into him! He could feel it in his soul, in his thoughts. Pain! Pain! Every nerve ending was on fire. It felt like his mind was being ripped to shreds! Chief, this isn’t real! Tell me this isn’t real! “CHIEF! Get it out! GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD!”
Without a moment’s hesitation, Blair grabbed hold of his friend. “Jim! It’s just a dream. Come on! Everything’s going to be ok. We’ll find a way to fix this. Wake up, man! Jim!”
Jim’s eyes shot open. At first he didn’t know where he was and tried to move away from the person next to him. Then he heard that voice—the one that always brought him back from the edge. The tension in his muscles eased. His Guide was there. Everything would be ok. His voice was barely a whisper. “Chief. Please don’t leave. I don’t know if I can handle this just yet. I can still feel him in my mind, struggling to get control. But when you’re here, he can’t take over.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know if it’s our bond or something else about you, but you weaken him somehow. I knew the minute you stepped through the Gate because Kuk started losing control. The closer you got, the stronger I became. He let me take over to fight those guys, but then he couldn’t take my body back again. It’s because you’re here.”
Jack and Daniel were hearing this conversation from different areas of the room. Jack didn’t want the kid to get hurt, but his friend couldn’t be trusted. He started towards them to separate the two when Daniel stepped in his way.
“Jack. I think we may have been wrong about Jim.”
“You’re buying this, too? He’s got Sandburg snowed. I didn’t think you were that gullible.”
“Jack, you and I’ve both watched the Goa’uld hurt people we cared about. If there’s even a small chance… We’ve seen a lot of things in our travels we couldn’t understand, but we accepted them. I think this is one of those things. Let him sit with his friend.”
“And watch as his ‘friend’ manipulates him into helping him escape, then tries to kill him?” Jack started towards them again. A wolf appeared and blocked his way. Every time he tried to pass, it snarled and moved in front of him. Jack liked dogs, but this particular relative of the family pet was starting to get on his nerves. “Ok, ok. I get the idea. Sandburg and Ellison stay together. But he stays under restraints, flea-bitten wolf or no.”
The wolf bared its teeth then disappeared.
Jim looked Blair in the eye. “You do believe it’s me, don’t you?”
Blair stared at his partner expectantly, not knowing what to say. He seemed like Jim, but what if Jack were right? What if this were all a cruel trick?
Jim closed his eyes in exasperation. “I don’t know of any way to convince you that it’s me. If I tell you something, a secret, they’ll say it’s because the Goa’uld has my memories. What can I do or say to prove who I am?”
Just then the jaguar appeared and walked over to Jim. It sat at his feet and purred contentedly. Blair looked at Jim and smiled, pointing at the big cat. “That’ll do.”
Just then, fighting erupted in the hallway. Everyone tensed and took cover. Blair and Jim moved behind the large throne. It sounded like the reinforcements had arrived and were cleaning out the palace. The door burst open. Several of Kuk’s loyal followers flooded in, retreating from the SG teams outside. They were probably hoping their leader would open the mirror gate and they could flee to earth. They hadn’t counted on SG1 being there. They started shooting at the Stargate team. SG1 returned fire.
Jim thought O’Neill and his people were putting up a good fight, but they were outnumbered. “Blair. Get me out of these things.”
Blair carefully shot of the restraints on his hands with his energy weapon.
Jim reached up and pressed a decorative knob on the back of the throne. He then turned it to the left. A panel opened on the wall behind. “Colonel! Get your people over here, now!”
Jack still didn’t trust Ellison, but he didn’t see any other options. He and Teal’c covered Daniel and Carter as they took off for the hidden door. Teal’c and Jack headed for the exit, firing like crazy, without turning their backs on Kuk’s men. Carter and Daniel crouched down by the opening, shooting at the cultists to help their friends make it to safety.
Jim took Blair’s weapon—a zatnicatel. He took precise aim and began picking off the bad guys one at a time. As the colonel passed him, Jim gave him one of his patented “maybe-next-time-you’ll-listen-to-me” looks. Once everyone was through the opening, he followed, twisting another knob on the inside to shut the door. He turned to see Daniel and Carter staring at the mirror gate that stood near the wall.
“It’s amazing! It almost looks like it was made from the same material as the quantum mirror that took me to that alternate universe.”
“Could it have been made by the same race?”
Now Blair was practically bouncing on his feet. “Alternate universe? They really exist? I’d always believed they did, but it’s hard to get proof for something like that. But you actually went to one? Oh, man. Daniel, we have got to talk. This could be…”
“Chief? Could you interrogate him later? Those guys out there are probably looking for the secret switch as we speak. We have to activate the mirror gate.”
“How? It doesn’t look like it came with instructions.”
“That’s not a problem. Kuk just might come in handy for once.” He touched the sides of the mirror in a special order, concentrating on a place to teleport to.
“Make jokes while you can, young fool. You will let down your barriers sooner or later. Then I will take over.”
“I bet none of your followers worshipped you for your personality.”
Blair was confused. “Jim? Whom are you talking to?”
“Hmm? Oh, just Kuk. He thinks he always has to be the center of attention.”
Now Blair was worried. “You mean you can hear him?”
“Just like he could hear me when he was in control. I think he’s trying to use the same trick I used to wear him down—talk to me continuously until I go crazy. He doesn’t know it won’t work on me.”
Daniel looked at him curiously. “And why is that?”
“I’ve been living with Sandburg here for years. If his constant chatter hasn’t sent me to the asylum, Kuk doesn’t stand a chance.”
“Gee thanks, Jim. Love you too, man.”
“It was a compliment, you know. You’re stories at least have some cohesion and interest value. Kuk just wants to rave about himself.”
“So my stories are better than a madman’s rantings? Keep it up, Jim. I think I’m getting a swelled head from all this flattery.” He smiled sourly at Jim.
Jim returned the smile broadly and kept watch on the mirror. “Ok. I think this baby is warmed up and ready to go.” He put his hand on the edge of the mirror and closed his eyes. “Everybody in.”
Blair looked at the shimmering gate with trepidation. Without opening his eyes, Jim nodded for Sandburg to go on. “Hurry up, Chief. We don’t want to miss any more days of work. Simon’s probably had at least one stroke already. I’ll be right behind you.”
There was no way Jack was going to let his people go before Ellison. “We all go through the gate together.”
Blair agreed, but for different reasons. He wasn’t going to let Jim out of his sight now that he’d found him. “He’s right. We should go together. Make sure you dial down all your senses. This could really hurt.”
“You’re telling me. The first trip through was a nightmare.” He pictured the dials in his mind and proceeded to turn them all down extremely low.
Sandburg grabbed Jim’s hand and placed it on his shoulder, never letting go of the hand. He wasn’t sure Jim could still hear him. “Don’t worry. I’ll guide you.”
“I know. You always do.”
They stepped through the gate together.