Daniel sat down on the floor beside Blair, a faraway look in his eyes. “I understand how you feel, Blair. A few years ago, after we got rid of what we thought was the only Goa’uld in existence, I went to live on a planet called Abydos. I got married and made a home for myself there. But another Goa’uld came. He killed some of the people and took others. My friend, Skaara, was taken as a host. So was Shau’re, my wife. We got Skaara back, but Shau’re…” He forced his thoughts back to the present.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize.” After several minutes of silence, it dawned on Blair just what Daniel had said. “You got Skaara back? Then there’s a way to save Jim?”
“There’s a race called the Tollen. They have the technology to separate Goa’uld from their hosts so that both live. We had to go through this trial called a Triad, but yes, it’s possible.”
Blair hopped to his feet. “Then I’ve got to go to this planet and get Jim!”
Jack stepped forward. “Now wait a minute! You come in here and take the general hostage and now you want us to just let you waltz out of here and through the Stargate?”
Blair turned to the general and gave him most pathetic, innocent face. “Sir. I wouldn’t really have shot you. Daniel’s right. I haven’t changed that much that I could kill someone in cold blood. I was desperate to find my friend. You’ve got to believe me!”
The general didn’t look convinced.
Jack proceeded to empty Blair’s gun, but found there were no bullets in it. “You infiltrated a high-security base with an empty gun?”
“I figured if a confrontation occurred, I didn’t want to be in a position where I would even be tempted to shoot somebody. I only carry a loaded gun on the job because it’s standard, required equipment. But when you shoot at other people, they tend to shoot back—and on a military base, everybody’s got a gun. I didn’t want to end up dead before I even had a chance to find Jim. Hey, I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid.”
The general looked relieved—somewhat. “Look, son. We have every intention of stopping Kuk and rescuing his captives. But I’m afraid you’re not going to Esmus. We need to find out how you breached our security. Until we do, you’ll be confined to the base.”
There was only one way they’d even consider letting him go. He’d have to tell them about Jim. Daniel seemed to know already, but Blair hadn’t confirmed his observations. “Daniel? Do you trust the general and the colonel here?”
“Of course. We don’t just work together. We look out for each other.”
Blair looked into Daniel’s eyes. Many cultures believed that the eyes were the windows to the soul. All he saw there was the Daniel he’d met years ago—the dreamer, the thinker, but most of all, the honest man. He made his decision. “Sir. If you don’t take me with you, you’ll never stop Kuk. He’ll always be able to hear you, see you, even smell you before you get near him.” He noticed the look that passed between Daniel and the colonel. “You’ve already found that out, haven’t you?”
General Hammond looked confused. “I think we need to have a meeting.”
In twenty minutes, they were all in the conference room—including Teal’c and Samantha. Introductions were made and everyone settled in. SG1 related what happened to them on Esmus. Blair managed to restrain himself to only a few eager, interrupting questions.
“Well, Detective Sandburg?”
He couldn’t believe he was about to blab Jim’s secret to a room full of people who worked for the military. Daniel had convinced him that Samantha Carter and Teal’c were also good friends who could be trusted and that what he said would stay in that room. He took a deep breath and plunged in. When he finished, he could see the looks of incredulity on some of their faces.
Samantha was skeptical, but intrigued. “So you don’t think this is a fluke? It’s a genetic advantage? There might be more of these Sentinels out there?”
“Oh, there are. Believe me. They’re not all upstanding citizens, either.”
“How could these people keep themselves secret? Surely others would notice.”
Blair nodded. “They aren’t as plentiful nowadays because of the way societies have changed—I’m sure there were more of them long ago. Their stories eventually became myths in many cultures. I’ve found the richest mythology on them among native South American peoples.”
Daniel thought about that. “There were probably Sentinels all throughout history, all over the world. Most likely they were considered crazy and locked away—perhaps even labeled witches or demons and put to death.”
Blair shook his head sadly. “I think a lot of them might even have killed themselves before realizing their full potential. Jim told me that before I started helping him, he thought he was going crazy. He didn’t want to be a danger to himself or others and had actually contemplated…” He didn’t want to think about that. “You know, it’s no less dangerous for Sentinels today. One of our worries has been that the government would find out and try to turn Jim into an assassin or something. Or that he’d end up in a secret lab so the government could experiment on him or try to duplicate his abilities. That’s why I was so on edge in your office, General. I thought maybe he was here. That you’d found out about him and…”
“We don’t do that sort of thing here, Detective. Not under my command.”
Teal’c spoke up. “That is true, Blair Sandburg. I am proof of that.”
Blair didn’t understand at first. Why would Teal’c have to worry about being experimented on? He looked at him, really looked at the other man. Then it hit him. Teal’c nodded in affirmation. “You’re an alien? Oh, that is so cool! Do your people...”
“…have a similar…”
Blair blushed slightly. “Sorry. I get carried away sometimes.”
Daniel smiled at that. This was the Blair he remembered.
Jack looked perturbed. “Assuming that what you’ve said is true, then how are we going to sneak up on Kuk?”
“White noise generators. They’re real good at distracting Jim. You shouldn’t do any talking because he might be able to pick that up despite the generators. I have a few more tricks, but I want in on this mission before I go any further.”
Daniel looked at him. “I’m a civilian, Jack.”
“You’re different. You I trust. What if we have to hurt Ellison to subdue him? That wouldn’t be a problem for you?”
“Not as long as you don’t kill him or use excessive force. If our positions were reversed, I would expect Jim to do whatever he could to stop me from hurting someone else without killing me.” Blair was practically pleading now. “You have to take me with you! I’m his Guide. The two of us have a unique bond that even death couldn’t break. I may be able to reach him somehow.”
“I forgot the spiritual bond.” A note of disbelief was evident in Jack’s voice.
“You’ve met aliens and been to other planets and you’re going to laugh at the idea of a spirit world?” Just then a lean and angry wolf appeared beside Blair. Everyone could see it as it walked around the table to stop by Jack’s feet. It glared at him, baring its teeth.
“What the..?” Jack jumped up out of his chair. The animal went back over beside Blair.
“You’re here to help Jim, aren’t you?” The wolf bowed its head and promptly disappeared.
Jack winced in displeasure. “Let me guess, visitor from the spirit world?”
Blair nodded smugly.
Jack turned to the others. “I don’t need a house to fall on me. Sandburg’s in. Any objections? Sir?”
General Hammond shook his head no.
“Ok, Sandburg. What do we do to keep this guy from detecting us?”
Blair proceeded to question them about everything—what they wore for missions, what hygiene products they used, what kind of plant and animal life they’d seen on Esmus. He took a lot of notes. When they finished, Blair took charge with a vengeance. He had them all wash in a very mild soap that smelled like desert spices so they would blend in. No shampoo, no lotion, no cologne—not even toothpaste, mouthwash, or breath mints. They would also all be wearing desert camo clothes instead of SGC uniforms. He then had them pour bottled fox urine over what they would be wearing. Since some types of foxes hung out in desert-like areas on earth, Blair figured there might be similar animals on the arid Esmus. Colonel O’Neill was not fond of the idea, but Blair finally managed to convince him. He assured Jack that bottled fox urine was used by hunters to attract game all the time and was odorless to regular humans. The colonel did it, but he still didn’t like it.
“And if at any time, you think he’s spotted you and hasn’t summoned his men yet, light a flare or shine something bright in his eyes. He’ll be blinded and maybe even go into a zone-out. If you get near him and have a chance to catch him, blow one of these.” He gave Samantha and Daniel bobby whistles. He gave Jack and Teal’c mini horns like those people blew at sporting events.
Jack looked at Blair like he was crazy. “Party favors?”
“Hey, those things are loud! Most regular people don’t like the sound of them. Jim has gotten pretty good about filtering out sounds, but he still has trouble with sudden loud noises. You should have seen him at the last Jags game we went to. Some guy blew one of these things right behind us. After Jim snapped out of it, I thought he was going to shove it up the guy’s... Anyway, you could incapacitate him for a few minutes with one of these.”
Samantha could see the strategy in that. “A sensory overload. Having heightened senses sounds incredible at first, but it seems to have its share of disadvantages.”
“We had a lot of work to do, that’s for sure. Jim had to learn how to filter out extraneous input and be able to concentrate on certain things without zoning out. Then we had to find a way to distinguish and catalog different stimuli. ”
Teal’c turned the noisemaker over in his hand quizzically before putting it in his pack.
Jack handed Blair a weapon. “This one is loaded, Sandburg. Make sure you use it on the bad guys.”
Suited up and ready to go, SG1 plus one headed for the Stargate. Blair stared at the rippling energy of the gate, speechless.
Jack looked at Daniel. “I think that’s the first time he’s shut up since we met him.”
Daniel walked up next to Blair. “Just step through it and you’ll come out on Esmus. Jim’s on the other side somewhere.”
Jack raised an eyebrow at Daniel. “Doesn’t he remind you of someone?”
“What are you talking about, Jack?”
“The first time we went through the gate, you lagged behind, too. They told me you walked around it, touched it, practically smelled it before you slowly stepped through—like a kid who’s not sure if he should jump into a pool because it might be too cold.”
“I’m a scientist! I was studying it.”
“If you say so.” Jack walked up behind Blair. “Time’s a wastin’. In you go, kids.” He gave Blair a slight push into the gate.
When they came out on the other side, none of them said a word. Their white noise generators had already been turned on before they stepped through. They didn’t want anything to give them away. Blair wished he could shout, laugh, something! That was the most incredible experience of his life—except for meeting Jim, of course. He was chilled and in the desert. The desert of an alien planet! He’d felt bad earlier about Daniel being ridiculed by his fellow Egyptologists. He didn’t so much now. If Daniel got to do stuff like this all the time, it was worth the scorn. Blair knew that as long as he and Jim were together, what people said about him didn’t matter anymore. He hoped Daniel felt the same way about the Stargate.
Jim was startled by the sound of a howling wolf. Kuk was restlessly pacing his chambers. For some reason, the God of Darkness hadn’t heard it. Jim looked around his jungle retreat. In the distance he saw the silhouette of a wolf. It raised its head and howled again before it trotted off. Sandburg was here! He shouldn’t be surprised. Somehow, some way, his Guide could do anything he set his mind to. For a second, Jim felt a wave of dizziness. He was looking down at his hand—his real hand. He flexed it. Then just as suddenly, he was back in the jungle part of his mind. Jim smiled to see how terrified Kuk was. For a moment, Jim had been in control of his own body. Things were looking up.