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22 June 2009 @ 05:55 pm
SG-1 Fic: A Loose Bolt in a Complete Machine (PG-13) (5/5)  
Fandom: Stargate: SG-1
Title: A Loose Bolt in a Complete Machine (5/5)
Author: Em
Rating: PG-13 for language and violence
Word Count: ~50,000 (in 5 parts)
Pairing: Jack/Daniel
Summary: SG-1 returns to Tekhne to extract Gerard, the inventor of the Vinculum (in Jack-speak, "internet in the brain"). But the mission goes south when Daniel is captured. Unable to remember where he is or what mission he was on, Daniel faces mental and physical abuse that threatens to break him. Can SG-1 rescue him before his mind completely cracks? Why is it Daniel they're after? And won't anyone believe that Jack's receiving messages from him?

Continued from Part 4.

* * *

Jack retreated to the bathroom after Daniel filled them in on everything Jacob had said. Daniel actually waited fifteen minutes before lightly knocking on the door and then squeezing in with Jack. The Tekhnens might be advanced, but their bathrooms kind of sucked.

"What are you doing in here?" Daniel pulled himself up so he was practically sitting in the tiny sink. At least that gave Jack room to kick out his legs.

"It's a bathroom, what do you think?"

"That you should have your colon checked."

Jack snorted, looking down at his boots. "It stinks, all right?"

"It's a bathroom."

Jack nudged Daniel's dangling foot, letting the joke dissipate before continuing. "He doesn't want to be saved."

Daniel shook his head. "I think he was just saying that. He wants to protect Gerard."

Jack sighed, it was the same kind of stupid thing he'd say in Jacob's position. "Daniel, this isn't going to be easy."

"When is it ever?"

Yeah, sure, he had a point.

"Jack, Gerard isn't just going to 'gate back to Earth without another attempt." Daniel rubbed his chin. "I'm not sure he'll come without his brother at all."

"He probably won't." Jack wasn't entirely sure he would come either way. Jack rubbed his eye and leaned his head back.

"So. . . ."

"So?" Jack blinked, getting his vision straight again. "Daniel, this isn't simple."

"No, it's not. But the mission objective is to bring back Gerard and his brother." Daniel had that superior look on his face he usually had when he was making an excellent point. It was obnoxious and not something Jack had missed. "Sam's on board."

Jack rolled his eyes. "Oh, well if Sam's on board."

"Teal'c, too. While you've been hiding, we've been talking."

"I haven't been hiding," Jack snapped. "I just wanted to think without having to look at your puppy dog eyes."

Daniel's brow furrowed. "I have puppy dog eyes?"

Jack waved it off, quiet for a moment. "Teal'c's on board?"

Daniel nodded. "Amelia made a convincing argument, appealed to his sense of slavery."

"Ah. The Jaffa thing."

"One of many." Daniel hopped down off the counter. "Listen, the way Amelia explained it—if Henley has Jacob, he still has one up on Dawes. Dawes's forces are dwindling, if you didn't notice when you busted me out. Things are swinging in favor of Henley and you know that's bad."

Jack leaned forward slightly, shaking his head. "It's not our problem, though. And I know that sounds cold, but Daniel . . . come on."

"How is this world different from any other world where we interfere? Why do you want to walk away from this?"

"Dawes captured and tortured you. And now you want to help him?" Jack's hands were balled into fists. He'd been not saying that, not thinking it, and he hadn't wanted Daniel to hear it. Damn it, Daniel always pulled this shit from him.

"I don't want to help him, but, you know—" Daniel patted his torso. "I'm okay. And there are more people that benefit from this balance of power than just Gerard. There are people here. And we can't fight their war, but if we complete our objective, it will help them."

Jack narrowed his eyes. "Why are you always such a goddamn hero?"

Daniel smiled a bit sadly. "I learned it from you."

Jack rolled his eyes again and reached out his hand for Daniel to help him up. "You were already like this."

Daniel chuckled and gripped Jack's hand, pulling him up. "Yeah, but you showed me that I liked it." They were standing face to face in the small bathroom, only a few inches between them. Jack hated when this happened on missions. For some reason the fact that they had a rule against doing anything physical on missions made the burn worse.

"Jack," Daniel said softly. "I'm all right." He touched Jack's cheek, then cupped it in his hand. "Really."

"Yeah, I know." Jack's voice was hoarse, so he cleared it. Now wasn't the time for this, for feeling like he and Daniel were thinking the same thing, on the same level, feeling the same feelings with no regard for the year when Daniel had been gone or the memories he had lost.

Jack took a deep breath, re-centering his thoughts. "So, everyone else is on board?" Daniel nodded, taking away his hand, an unreadable look in his eye (though Jack hoped it was disappointment). "We're all fucking nuts."

"Yeah, we are. Want to come discuss this?"

Jack smiled a tight smile. "I suppose I should."

* * *

Jack still wasn't happy with the plan, but Daniel knew how to push his buttons and with Teal'c and Carter on board, it was more difficult for Jack to give a flat no. Besides, Gerard wouldn't go to Earth without Jacob and given that Daniel had undergone capture and torture (no matter how Daniel sugar coated it, Jack could see it in his eyes and knew through their connection in the Vinculum that's what it was—torture) Jack really didn't want to go home empty handed. This mission should be worth something for Daniel to have gone through that.

Teal'c led the way, bringing them up to the same access point they'd infiltrated before. Gerard and Daniel were watching the satellites and, just like last time, everything seemed to be going fine.

"This feels familiar," Jack joked.

Carter glanced at her laptop, trying to use a remote access to unlock the doors. "I don't think it's working, sir. Even with the alterations Gerard and I made, I just can't access their wireless network."

"That's because Henley's a paranoid son of a bitch." Even though he knew they were coming, Dawes's voice still sent chills down Jack's spine. While Henley kind of bugged him, he really hated Dawes. Dawes was the entire reason he had to suffer this whole internet-in-the-brain thing, and the reason Daniel had been captured and tortured.

"Dawes," Jack nearly growled. His finger itched to pull the trigger of his P-90.

"Colonel." Dawes bowed his head slightly, raising one long-fingered hand in a casual salute. "I see you've been keeping the satellites away." He nodded to Gerard.

Gerard kind of snorted—he hated this plan more than Jack did, but was willing to set aside his apprehension in exchange for his brother. Jack was actually shocked that Gerard agreed to the plan at all. When he heard that Amelia suggested that they join forces with Dawes, Jack expected everyone else to think it was preposterous. But apparently everyone had eaten crazy flakes that morning, or maybe they were just that desperate for this to work.

"They're keeping their part of the bargain, Derek." Amelia stepped forward, holding out her hands. Jack rolled his eyes and then pulled a knife and cut her loose. "We'll keep our part," she said.

Dawes passed Amelia a handgun and presented Daniel with his confiscated weapons. Jack checked over Daniel's P-90, leaving Daniel to check out the zat.

Dawes gestured to Carter. "Let me see your computer. Gerard's good with the mechanics, but I know Henley and his encryption."

Carter shared a glance with Jack, getting his approval, before she passed over the laptop. She moved around to watch, Jack keeping an eye on Dawes, knowing that Teal'c was watching the rest of his squad.

"Do you have any other troops around?" Jack rocked on his heels, his eyes darting over to Amelia who was checking her weapon, toggling the safety catch.

"A few," Dawes said. "But I'm not looking to double-cross you . . . not like you did to me." Dawes looked up from the computer, smirking. There was something to the smirk that made Jack think he didn't hold any grudges, just a long memory.

"They'll hold back until we're inside," Amelia said. "It'll be easier to get a smaller group of people in."

"Easier to get in," Jack said, "not necessarily easier to pull it off."

"Eh, you came close last time. Might have actually pulled it off without the outside influence." Dawes looked up from the computer, his eyes flicking briefly to Daniel.

Oh, Jack thought, that's why I hate the arrogant prick. He reminded himself that they needed the backup to break in and out of the capitol building.

Dawes struck one final key on the laptop. "You're in." He passed the computer back to Carter. "Interesting unit you have there. Makes me nostalgic."

Carter hit some buttons (a little harder than necessary) once she had control of her laptop again. "The locks should be disabled. Whenever we're ready." Carter stowed her laptop, drawing her weapon.

Jack made a sweeping gesture. "After you."

Dawes smirked again and then tapped a small box attached to his lapel. "Hold positions until you hear from me."

Carter tilted her head. "That's your radio?"

"Hmm? Oh yes. Colonel O'Neill was kind enough to leave one of your radios with us last time. It's amazing how technologies that have been lost for decades can be reclaimed so easily."

"Sometimes the simplest machines are the best." Daniel, of course, had to weigh in on the topic of antique technologies in advanced societies.

Dawes looked Daniel over—the eye contact made Jack's skin crawl, but he managed not to step in front of Daniel to protect him from . . . leering, or whatever. "You seem to have recovered well. I was afraid Amelia would break you." He stepped past Daniel, flicking his hand to his troops. "She's very good at manipulating people, but you were quite the challenge."

Amelia drew herself straighter and followed Dawes, at the head of the rest of his troops. Jack and Gerard shared a look of utter annoyance. They may not agree on their chances of rescuing Jacob, but they did agree on including Dawes in the plan—it sucked.

Dawes led the way into the base, SG-1 bringing up the rear. Jack was careful to keep Daniel away from Dawes as much as possible. He was probably being paranoid, but Dawes's interest in Daniel and Ascension was enough to put Jack on edge and keep him there.

Dawes halted their movement just before the Open Network. "Does everyone have enough control over the Vinculum to handle passing this point?" He looked directly at Jack, giving him that feeling that Dawes thought he was an idiot.

"I think we can handle it," Jack replied. "How about your troops? Do they still know how to think for themselves?"

Dawes turned away, a bored look on his face. "They're following me, aren't they?"

Daniel put his hand on Jack's arm and shook his head. "He's on our side."

"For now," Jack whispered back. He didn't trust Dawes. There were too many things at stake. Sure, he'd help them get Jacob away from Henley, but what after? Dawes had an endgame and Jack wasn't sure if it involved Jacob, Gerard, Daniel, or all three.

A few halls later, Dawes stopped them again. "My squad will break off here. They'll open the way for reinforcements and rendezvous with us at the Hardline."

Amelia sniffed, her chin rising slightly as she gave Dawes a long look.

"We'll do what we must," he said quietly. The moment between them was short but pregnant, reminding Jack of other close-combat relationships that had grown more intense than recommended by regulations.

Dawes gave a sharp nod and the four men, led by Amelia, took off down the opposite hall. "Jacob will be this way. He'll be hooked directly into the Hardline."

"Are you sure he's there?" Jack was still skeptical about this.

"Based on the images Dr. Jackson saw: yes." Dawes put his finger to his lips and flattened himself against the wall. SG-1 followed suit.

A two-man security patrol passed ahead, entering a room off the main hall.

"We're close, right?" Gerard's famous nerves were in fair form and he wiped his hands on his legs, passing his pistol between them.

"Don't remember? And think of all the time you used to spend with the Hardline." Dawes's voice was cold and cruel. "I'm sure it misses you, Gerard."

Carter glanced between the two of them and then looked at her portable reader. She leaned closer to Jack and quietly reported, "I'm detecting an energy spike."

"Hardline?" Jack asked. He kept his eyes on Dawes, who was a few steps ahead.

"Probably. Whatever it is, it's drawing a lot of power."

Jack nodded and then stepped away from her, glancing over his shoulder to make sure that Daniel and Teal'c were still keeping up. Daniel offered a tight smile, and Jack turned away. Better not to keep looking at Daniel so he didn't accidentally start thinking to him through the Vinculum.

Dawes stopped and then jerked his head forward, calling Jack to the front. "The double doors." There were two guards by the doors but not much else signaling that this was the control unit for the Vinculum, the thing that kept their entire society in check.

"That's it?" Jack suddenly felt like maybe this was going to be easier than he thought.

"They still require imprint recognition?" Gerard nodded towards the doors.

"Yeah," Dawes said. "Thought you might have a way around it, though."

"Wait. Imprint what?" This was what Jack hated most about strategizing with aliens; they always, always left something out.

"Imprint recognition," Gerard said. "Basically you use the Vinculum to identify yourself and gain access."

"We're in the Open Network, right?" Jack hadn't seen any signs alerting that it was safe to resume chatting with Daniel's brain.

Gerard smiled tightly. "Nice security, huh?"

Jack rolled his eyes, knowing the answer to his question. "Your design?"

"Thoughts?" Dawes scratched his cheek. "I figure you and I are flagged, unless you have some way to change your imprint."

"We should have Daniel do it," Gerard said, looking back towards Daniel.

"Excuse me, what?"

"You just have to present yourself," Gerard said, grabbing Daniel's wrist. "Then say your name. As long as your name matches your imprint, you'll be fine."

"My imprint? Gerard, I have no idea what you're talking about. And why don't you think I'll be flagged. I'm an off-worlder and it's not like Representative Henley didn't know my name."

"Yeah, but your flagged imprint was easier to erase from the system." Gerard waved his hand, peering around the corner.

Jack rubbed his brow. "Is there anything you don't hack?"

Gerard narrowed his eyes. "Other people's thoughts."

Jack stepped back, appropriately cowed. "Daniel."

Daniel rolled his eyes, but it was obvious he was going to do it. "What about the guards?"

"They're holograms," Dawes said. "They only engage if you give a false identity."

"You'll still need to stay pretty focused," Gerard coached. "So don't like, think."

Daniel blinked. "You want me to not think."

"Not when you open up the link to the Vinculum. Do you want to give away our position?" Gerard took a deep breath, and Jack almost expected him to say that Daniel was their only hope.

Daniel gave one last look back to Jack and stepped forward. "All right. Open up the link, say my name, and that's it, right?"

Gerard nodded.

Dawes turned to Jack. "You should make sure your link is clamped down hard. You'll hear Daniel for a moment and it won't be pleasant. If you respond even in the slightest, it will blow the mission."

"Worry about yourself." Jack rolled his eyes, but focused on the Vinculum a little harder, envisioning an iris on his brain.

Daniel stepped forward a little uncertainly, holding up his hands. The guards didn't react at all, giving credence to Dawes's assertion that the guards would only attack if the identification check didn't pan out.

"Um, hi," Daniel said. He looked between the guards, and then looked up at the door, squaring his shoulders. "Daniel Jackson."

The moment he said his name, Jack felt Daniel flood his mind. There was an outpouring of just Daniel. It wasn't anything specific, no thoughts or memories or snippets of words the way it had been every other time Jack and Daniel had touched minds unbidden. It was just Daniel's essence, his personality, his compassion, all those intangible things that made Jack know Daniel.

It passed after a few moments, but a residual remained, this little presence of Daniel stuck in Jack's head. When Jack looked up again (when had he closed his eyes?) the doors were open and Daniel was turned towards SG-1, a surprised look on his face.

"We should go," Dawes said, motioning them forward.

"Yeah." Gerard looked over his shoulder. "That was, uh. . . ."

"It worked, right?" Daniel took a step towards them, but Gerard held up a hand and gestured for Daniel to head into the room.

Dawes and Gerard shared a look. "You're noticeable," Dawes finally said. "We should have Daniel do it," Dawes muttered. "What a brilliant idea."

They all entered the room, a room that reminded Jack of something that must be out of Carter's dreams. Heavy cables draped the room like vines, connecting one set of blinking machines to another set of blinking machines. Several cable columns hung from the ceilings, some cables solid black and others made from something like fiber optics. The doors opened on to a platform that encircled a lower portion of the room where banks of computers sat with open chairs.

Gerard looked around the room, seeming to take it in slowly, like someone returning to their childhood home and noticing that the walls were painted the wrong colors.

The heavy doors shut behind them with an echoing noise. Teal'c moved into the room, checking the perimeter on one side while Jack moved around the opposite side. Dawes moved to a console and input a command.

"The doors are locked down. It'll take Henley's techs some time to break through." Dawes adjusted the rifle strap over his shoulder.

"Where's Jacob?" Daniel followed behind Jack, stopping at the stairs that led to the lower level.

Gerard shook his head. "I'm not sure. I didn't have . . . some of this wasn't here before. They've made . . . improvements." Gerard ran his hand over one of the columns of cables, looking up it. Jack couldn't help but think of the time Siler rewired part of the 'gate system while Carter was off-world, and how she'd stared at what he'd done when they were back on-world and had resumed their normal duties.

"Back here," Dawes said. "There's a smaller room in the back where Gerard used to sleep."

"You slept here?" Carter asked.

"Don't get any ideas." Just what the General needed, for Carter to camp out in the control room any more than she already did.

They continued around to the opposite side from the door and then descended a set of stairs. An archway opened into a smaller room that had something like a plastic recliner chair and Jacob. Gerard ran over to him, his hand immediately going for Jacob's face.

"Jacob? Jacob!"

Jack looked away. He knew how Gerard felt, the hope he'd held on to without knowing. Maybe this was the real reason Jack hadn't wanted to come; it was sometimes easier to pretend, to hope.

"Sir. I think the computers in here are self-contained." Carter was at a terminal, hooking her laptop to the controls. "They seem to be separate from the Hardline—if that's what that is in there."

"It is." Dawes looked over her shoulder and pointed to the screen. "That's Jacob." A green line on the screen wavered and spiked in a regular pattern. It jumped when Gerard called Jacob's name again, splintering into several lines that wavered and bounced all around.

"What's that mean?" Jack pointed at the screen, trying to watch both the screen and what Gerard was doing.

Dawes moved a bit more in front of the screen, hitting a few buttons. "I think he's accessing the Vinculum. Or. . . ." He moved over to another set of computers. "He's accessing the computers here."

Gerard's head snapped up. "Does that mean we'll be able to talk to him?"

It was hard to detach himself from his sympathy, but Jack tried. Losing people—losing family—was never easy. Losing them a second time was always worse.

"No. . . ." Dawes narrowed his eyes at the screen. "I think he's trying to hide. His readings are going erratic. You've spoken to him most recently, could you shed some light on this, Daniel?"

Jack felt Daniel bristle from across the room. "Dr. Jackson," Daniel corrected smoothly, brushing past Dawes as he stepped up to the interface (Jack gave a silent cheer that Daniel was finally sticking it to "the Commander"). "How can I use this to speak to him?" Before Dawes could answer, Daniel's body went rigid and then he slumped forward, Dawes grabbing him and trying to support him.

Jack leveled his weapon at Dawes. "What did you do?"

* * *

He was in the hallway with the wrecked glider, the ring room just behind him. He could hear Jack shout, could feel a phantom grip on his arm—it was like he was in both places at once, or like this place was starting to disintegrate, the real world bleeding through the cracks.

"You're a stubborn son of a bitch."

"Likewise," Daniel greeted Jacob. "What's happened to this place?"

Jacob looked around. "Amelia isn't controlling it any more. I've always been a little unstable with the Vinculum." Jacob touched one of the walls, tracing a crack. "I think this little virtual world is losing integrity. Maybe it's because you know it's not real. That's the kind of thing I used to study. . . ." He turned back to Daniel, a sad smile on his face. "Gerard worked the hardware, I handled the people-ware."

"Jacob . . . we're here to save you."

"You can't, Daniel. Do you see that now? My body's just . . . plugged in. I can't even get back to it any more. I used to, sometimes, but I was trapped there, in pain." Jacob held up his hand, looking at it—he was starting to crack, too.

"I only exist in the Vinculum now." Jacob shook his head. "I've forgotten how to be human."

"You don't have to. We know a lot of advanced societies. I'm sure we could—"

Jacob shook his head.

"If he doesn't wake up. . . ." Jack's voice bled through the walls, loud and fierce. In the back of Daniel's mind he saw Jack gripping his P-90, pointing it at Dawes.

"Tell Gerard I'm sorry I couldn't talk to him again." Jacob looked behind Daniel to the ring room. When Daniel turned, the archway was looking not into the ring room, but into the room where Jacob was being held. He could see Gerard and Sam at the consoles, Jack leaning down with one hand on Daniel's neck and the other on his P-90, Teal'c running through the archway and up the stairs, back into the main room with the Hardline. Maybe Amelia's squad had come around and Teal'c was going to let them in. "Disconnect my body. It'll be better if I just. . . ."

"Better than what?" Daniel couldn't just let Jacob die. Death didn't solve any problems.

"There aren't other options, Daniel. I know you want to help me—I've been inside your head long enough to see—but some people can't be saved. I don't fit inside my body any more, it's like. . . ." Jacob closed his eyes for a moment and Daniel could feel him inside Daniel's head, like he reached his hand blindly into a bag to search for some unknown object. "I'm a canopic jar?"

Daniel blinked, surprised by the image, but he got it: a broken seal can destroy the contents. What was inside the jar wasn't meant to be removed.

"Help Gerard understand."

When Daniel looked back to Jacob, he saw the man had a hollow look, the way he'd looked when Daniel first noticed him at the dig site. Like a vessel waiting to be filled—that was the way he and Gerard had both looked.

"How did you pull me back into here?" When Daniel looked past Jacob he saw that they were back in the dig room, the guards were there, Amelia, and Gerard, all paused like they had been the last time Daniel had visited this world.

"Proximity. I can't move beyond this room except for into a subconscious. Dreams." Jacob shrugged one shoulder.

"Pull in Gerard."

Jacob shook his head. "I can't hold this world together. The only reason I could contact you is because this place already existed; you were already a construct here."

"So is he." Daniel pointed at the empty, paused Gerard. "Pull him in, Jacob. I'll hold the world together. This isn't my subconscious now, right?" Jacob nodded. "I can do this; you can make him understand." Daniel grinned. "I'm good with people-ware, too."


"Do it."

* * *

There was a sensation like falling and then there wasn't. When his vision cleared, Gerard was looking at his brother.

"Hi, Gerard."

He hugged Jacob tightly, his eyes squeezing shut as he felt the cracks in Jacob's skin. His skin, too, was cracking open, like his body couldn't contain him any more and he was seeping out the edges.

He pulled back and opened his mouth to speak, but he had no idea what to say. He thought the last thing he'd ever say to his brother was "mind the charges," which wasn't a really fitting farewell. It wasn't something he ever imagined saying to his brother, even. They invented something meant to change people's lives but they'd never expected such drastic changes to their own.

"There's nothing left to say, is there?" Jacob smiled that half-smile that made him look like he knew exactly what he was doing. Gerard never knew what he was doing, where he was going. He just had to act and keep acting and eventually—hopefully eventually—he'd wind up somewhere decent. He'd always needed Jacob to keep himself grounded, to stay on path.

"There's too much left to say," he whispered.

Jacob sighed. "No. Gerard just . . . say goodbye."

Gerard felt his face crumple—maybe something else cracked, another part of him leeching out.

"I've been too long like this. I don't . . . I don't ¬fit any more." Jacob pointed and over his shoulder Gerard could see the secondary chamber—the place where they injected the Vinculum into the first few tests subjects. Some people had fallen apart then—the information coming at them too fast and too much for them to handle all at once. When their brains shut down, they were left as shells, hollow vessels that nothing could fill.

"I'm like that," Jacob said, clearly following Gerard's memories. "Only I'm here, too. But I just can't ever be . . . there. Again." His touch on Gerard's shoulder was like a whisper.

"Can you let me go?"

"No." Gerard shook his head, his lips setting in a firm line. "But if I have to—if I have to—if there's no other choice—I'll . . . I'll leave you behind again."

"Wait." Daniel was still there, standing back from them. "I'm sorry, I just was picking up things off the surface—" He turned to Jacob. "This has happened before?"

"Sort of," Jacob answered. "The first time we tested the Vinculum on live subjects, it didn't go well. There were a lot of adjustments to be made."

"But what do you think happened to them?"

"Overloads mostly," Gerard said, trying to focus on the conversation and push down the emotions that were threatening to split him apart. "Though there were always other theories."

"Uploads," Daniel answered, catching on fast. "That's how Henley got the idea for this. That's why—"

"Teal'c! How long?" That was Jack's voice bleeding in from the real world. Jack's voice and no other, Gerard noted. The link between Jack and Daniel through the Vinculum was stronger than Gerard could have imagined—he would have almost doubted such a strong link could exist between two individuals.

"Something's wrong," Daniel said. "I'm sorry, I wish I could give you more time."

Gerard took one last look at his brother. "Any time was enough." The world cracked apart and Gerard had one final image of Jacob raising his hand, that aggravating half-smile curling the right side of his mouth.

* * *

A ball of light engulfed Jacob, and Daniel gasped awake, his hand flailing out and touching Jack's leg.

"That's why you wanted to research Ascension."

"Daniel!" Jack did a double take between Dawes and Daniel, and Daniel felt his uncertainty, the torn decision between keeping Dawes secure and checking on Daniel.

"Gerard!" Sam was on the other side of the room, kneeling down to touch Gerard's neck.

"We're all right," Daniel coughed.


"Shit." Jack glanced over his shoulder. "Do we have a minute?"

"They are fast approaching."

"Who?" Daniel rolled forward, getting to his feet with Jack's help.

"Henley," Dawes said calmly. "We'll need to move quickly. Gerard, can you isolate your brother? Take him with us?"

"Like on a portable hard drive?" Sam fished into her bag. "How much memory does a human brain take up?" She set a portable hard drive on the console; it was no larger than a paperback book.

"What?" Gerard wrapped his hand around Sam's wrist. "He's not a, a program. He's my brother."

"I have faith in your skill," Dawes smoothly replied.

Daniel's vision and stomach were still rolling—the transition between the virtual world and reality wasn't getting any easier. "This is why you were researching Ascension," he repeated. "You wanted to recreate . . . this." Daniel gestured around. "But you don't have access to the Hardline.

"What you did to me—that virtual world, the network, the chair, the wires . . . it was this."

Jack scanned the room quickly and Daniel could see him making the connections, overlaying the visuals, the chairs, the body strapped into a chair with wires. Jack leveled his weapon at Dawes anew. "What's your endgame?"

"He's trying to upload someone into the Vinculum." Gerard pulled himself to his feet, taking an unsteady step away from the console.

"They can do that?"

Daniel shook his head. "Not in a way that's usable. It's a one-way ticket. And it's limited."

"It's the next logical evolution." Dawes straightened his collar, his fingers lightly flicking over his radio. "Think of what could be done if you could completely be part of the Vinculum at will."

"At will? Have you seen what it's done to Jacob?" Daniel gestured at the vacant body strapped to the chair. Being uploaded wasn't like being Ascended. Jacob had been away from his body for too long; there wasn't any going back. Not having a physical body wasn't better. Daniel met Jack's eyes for a moment. In so many ways it was worse.
"That's what you're working towards. It's not. . . ." Daniel swallowed hard, the words thick in his mouth. "It's not human."

"Not yet. I thought Ascension could help bridge the gap."

"They're different, too different." Daniel couldn't remember what he'd done while he was Ascended, but he knew how it felt, what it meant. It was nothing like using the Vinculum, it was nothing like the way Jacob described himself—cut off and ill-fitting. Even though Daniel had been energy, he fit back in his body now. He still knew who he was, that he was human.

"So you say." Dawes turned his head towards the monitor, Jacob's line a steady rhythm again. "Either way, Jacob is a stepping stone—one Henley must not be allowed to keep." He flicked his hand out to the controls.

Gerard crossed the room, grabbed Dawes by the shirt and punched him.

"Stop," Jack snapped.

"What just happened?" Across from them Sam raised her hands from the controls, the monitor in front of her flashing red. Flashing red was never good in any culture.

Dawes raised his hands, looking like he was ready to subdue Gerard. "I'd rather destroy the Hardline than let Henley continue this research. Gerard, you can agree to that, right?"

Gerard's back was rigid, his hand pulled back to punch Dawes again. Daniel could just feel him through the Vinculum, a cold wall against the edge of Daniel's mind. If Daniel pressed his hand against it, he expected it to burn with the cold.

"If you destroy the Hardline, you destroy everything," Gerard bit. He pushed Dawes away from him, taking a step back before he turned. His eyes were as cold as what Daniel felt on the edge of his mind. "It's not just us, Derek; it's the whole city. If you cut everyone off—do you even know what that could do?"

"You're the scientist."

The sound of weapons fire drew their attention to the main chamber. Daniel could just see the Hardline spanning down from the upper floor. Teal'c wasn't returning fire, so the door must have been holding for the time being.

"O'Neill! I will require assistance!"

"That's it." Jack stepped forward, pushing Gerard out of the way, and prodded his P-90 into Dawes's chest. "If you say another word, I get to shoot you. Gerard, blowing the Hardline is bad, right?"

"Yes." Gerard wrung his hands, looking like he was ashamed of himself—Daniel had only seen him use a weapon when he had to, never because he'd been angry. "Suddenly disconnecting everyone from the Vinculum is bad. People . . . we don't know how to exist without it any more."

"We figured it out when we went home last time," Jack mumbled. Daniel rolled his eyes, but bit back his comments about the differences between living with the Vinculum for days and living with it for years.

"What did he do?" Sam scanned the monitor and controls, her hands frozen above the keyboard like she was afraid to touch anything. Generally if Sam was afraid to touch the tech, that was not a good sign.

"I don't know." Gerard moved to a different console. "A diagnostic will take too long. . . ."

"Teal'c," Jack radioed, "any idea how many there are?"

"The numbers are not in our favor."

"Great." Jack's eyes cut over to Sam.

"Sir, I think I'm needed here." She hadn't moved, though, clearly not quite sure what to do.

"No, just . . . do whatever soldiering you need to do; I'll take care of the Hardline." Gerard spared her a glance and a tight smile. "It's been awhile, but I did build it."

"What about Jacob?" Sam's voice was soft.

Gerard turned back to the monitor. "I already said my goodbyes."

Jack gave Dawes a long glare. "Daniel, cover Gerard." Jack jerked his head. "Everyone else with me." His eye caught Daniel's and Daniel felt his anxiety through the Vinculum, the same as he would have if they just had the eye contact, really. Daniel shouldered his weapon and Jack followed Sam into the main chamber. His gut said this wouldn't be their final stand, but when Daniel looked back to Jacob he couldn't help but wonder where they'd find their last minute rescue.

* * *

"Sir, if Gerard can't undo whatever Dawes did. . . ." Carter eyed the Hardline in the center of the room, clearly thinking of the impending explosion.

"Eh, it'll be quick," Jack replied. "Right?"

"Being vaporized, sir? Yes."

"Well. At least there's that." Jack took up a position, kneeling behind one of the cable columns, pushing the thought of their imminent deaths from his mind. Teal'c was just ahead to his right, Carter flanking the door to the left. Dawes was positioned behind Carter, making Jack a little uneasy, but they didn't really have a choice but to include him—they'd need the extra body. Dawes prepared himself just as the rest of SG-1 did, a real soldier.

"You're fighting awfully hard for your chance to die when that explodes." Jack nodded his head to the Hardline.

"Wouldn't want Henley to stop the overload. That would ruin everything." Dawes smiled a tight smile, and Jack once again considered that he'd never had a bead on that man.

The weapons fire suddenly ceased and the door began sliding open.

"Fire if you have a shot," Jack ordered.

"Don't hesitate," Dawes said. "Even if it's my people."

Jack didn't even have time to be horrified by that thought. The door pushed open just enough and the weapons fire started, the energy blasts pinpointing their locations precisely. They returned fire, but Jack's angle was bad and all he was doing was providing cover, waiting for the door to slide open just a little more, or for the guard to advance.

Teal'c stood, taking a better angle, and he was targeted immediately.

An alarm suddenly sounded, a red light flashing in the main chamber. If he hadn't already been firing his weapon, Jack would have wanted to cover his ears. "What the hell is that?"

The guard advanced into the room. They were wearing armored jackets that seemed to mostly protect them from the P-90 fire. Teal'c fired his staff and one of the soldiers immediately crumpled, his energy pistol clattering out of his hand.

"Zats!" Jack called to Carter, but she was already on it, the electrical discharge hitting the soldier closest to her. He stuttered, but didn't fall. Carter's eyes went wide, but she hit the soldier with a second burst and he dropped. Two shots usually killed, but if one shot didn't stun. . . . Jack mentally shrugged.

A bright flash blasted through the open door—Jack could feel the heat from the bolt as it shot past. Damn energy cannon, Jack thought. Those were his favorite things from their first firefight with Henley's men.

"I think it's time for reinforcements. Where are your troops?" Jack yelled at Dawes.

"They're in position, waiting on my signal!"

Jack gestured towards the advancing soldiers. "Then signal!"

Dawes pursed his lips and then flicked a switch on the radio over his shoulder. All of their radios picked it up, the sound sharp and shrill in their ears. Jack leaned away from the noise, his lip curling up.

"You could have warned us!" he shouted over the racket.

"You could have not been an ass," Dawes called back.

More weapons fire sounded in the hall. The sounds were a mix of energy pistols and rifles—Dawes's troops for sure. Teal'c and Jack moved together, running forward from behind their cover, firing at the soldiers until they reached another set of cover. The energy cannon fired again, targeting Jack's position. The cable in front of him snapped when the energy blast hit its base, the column breaking free and dangling from the ceiling. When Jack's shoulder pressed against it, it moved.

Jack grabbed for his radio. "We need that cannon taken out. Carter?"

"On it," she chirped over the radio.

Dawes moved up to take a covering position behind Carter and she stood up long enough to chuck a grenade through the open door. It landed perfectly beneath the energy cannon, a totally sweet shot.

Soldiers scattered, some moving into the room with the Hardline, and others backing out the door.

"Fire in the hole!" Jack turned, bracing himself behind the cable column. The explosion was loud and hot, rocking his unfettered column, but most of the blast was contained beneath the cannon. Yeah, getting rid of that thing was going to make all their lives easier.

Jack pushed hard against the cable column base, swinging it out and knocking down a soldier. Teal'c was fighting hand-to-hand with one of the other men. The troops were starting to thin out—Dawes's men outside were helping to pin them in—but there were still enough to be a problem and reinforcements would probably be coming soon. Gerard had better be finishing up whatever he needed to do quickly or they were going to have to choose between saving the Hardline and escaping.

* * *

"Getting there. Almost. . . ." Gerard's hands flew over the controls, his mind open and accessing the Vinculum. It had been so long since he'd been able to work like this—inputting the values into the Hardline, while letting the Vinculum process the commands in his head. It was almost like being part of the Vinculum—a picture of Jacob flashed in his mind, the way he was in the chair just behind Gerard, silent and still. This was as much a part of the Vinculum Gerard had ever wanted to be.

He felt Daniel shifting behind him—his connection to the Vinculum turned all the way up so that it was the most sensitive Gerard ever allowed it to be.

"Jack says it's time to go."

"Another minute, another minute."

He half-heard Daniel request the minute, but even with his senses attuned, it felt like he was listening to Daniel through fabric. Focus, focus, focus, Gerard chanted in his head. The subroutines were fixing themselves, repairing the damage Dawes had done with his short command. It must have been something he'd cooked into the system under Gerard's nose, or maybe after Gerard broke with the program. Gerard had left before the war started, so maybe Dawes had taken up his post for a short time.

The screen suddenly flashed, the alarm and warning lights snapping off. Gerard checked all the displays again, both those physically in front of him and those he was seeing in the Vinculum.

Everything read as normal.

"I did it?"

Daniel clapped his hand on Gerard's shoulder. "We have to get out of here."

"Right." Gerard stepped away from the console, his eyes taking one last look at the machinery he'd built. Sam's portable hard drive was still sitting on the console. How much memory did a human brain take up, anyway?

"Daniel." Gerard's hand was already on the hard drive, plugging it into the machine. "I need another minute."

"We're being—"

"Trust me," Gerard said, knowing just how those words affected Daniel.

* * *

"Took your sweet time," Jack snapped when Daniel finally tapped him on the shoulder.

"Yeah, Gerard had to—" Daniel waved ineffectually with one hand, thankfully getting his P-90 ready with the other. "And how's it going out here?"

"Peachy." It actually wasn't going that badly. SG-1 and Dawes's troops had closed ranks on the last of Henley's men and were picking them off. The Tekhnen reinforcements hadn't shown up yet, but Jack wasn't counting them out yet. "Of course now that you've deigned to grace us with your presence, we'll be moving out."

Daniel smirked, but followed behind Jack without comment.

Teal'c moved with them, spinning his staff and taking out one of the last guards with a cuff to the chin. The guard's head snapped back, his feet slipping from beneath him as he was knocked to his back.

Dawes took stock of his troops in the hallway. The numbers were small—only about twelve still standing, a few men were crumpled over or laid out. Jack noticed Amelia wasn't with them—in fact none of the men who'd come in with them were there. Where had Dawes sent her?

"Remember, we're in the Open Network, now." Dawes gave Jack a hard look. "No slip ups or we'll all be hurting."

Jack barely resisted the urge to flip off Dawes and instead jerked his head, getting SG-1 moving down the hall and towards the exit.

A small squad of Dawes's troops led them down the hall, taking the first fire when Henley's reinforcements finally showed up. Daniel cursed, ducking back behind the corner they'd just turned. Jack progressed down the hall, Teal'c at his side, the two of them pushing forward with a volley of bullets. They cleared the way and resumed their course, continuing to fight Henley's soldiers in pockets, never hitting a full squad the way Jack had expected.

They exited from a different door, meeting up with another squad of Dawes's soldiers. Their numbers were beginning to make Jack uneasy. It could be that he'd spent so much time working on a four-man team, but this was starting to seem less like an escort and more like an army.

"I thought you said your numbers were dwindling," Jack said when Dawes came closer.

"Hmm? Maybe at that base you attacked."

Jack felt the hair rise on his arms. "We're out of the capitol; I think we'll take our chances on our own." He turned to signal to Carter and Daniel to break off, but a shrill sound pierced through his brain. He gripped his head, just trying to stay upright.

"O'Neill!" Teal'c and Carter were still upright, but nearly everyone else was also gripping their heads.

"Shut it out!" Gerard shouted. "It's an overload. Henley's trying to overload us." Gerard groped his way over to Jack and touched his shoulder. Jack felt an iris close over his mind and suddenly it was quieter. The sound wasn't gone, but it was softer, more like an annoyance than an actual pain.

"He can do that?" Jack's voice came out louder than it should and he winced.

"He can't, but it looks like he stole my trick and then built a machine." Gerard pointed to an antenna mounted on one of the capitol's turrets.

Jack rolled his eyes, looking to Carter. "There's always a machine. People are always building machines."

"I knew Dawes couldn't pull off a multi-target overload." Gerard sounded satisfied that the last time they'd been overloaded breaking into the capitol had been Henley instead of Dawes. Either Gerard and Dawes were competing in the pissing contest of all time, or Gerard just liked that his interaction with the Vinculum was so very special.

One of Henley's armored vehicles rolled in, cresting over the hill, blocking their escape into Lower City and to the Stargate. Dawes's soldiers were slowly righting themselves; some of them seemed perfectly fine, like Carter and Teal'c, and must never have been injected with the Vinculum.

Dawes tapped the radio on his lapel. "Now."

The ground vibrated as several more armored vehicles moved in on their position, flanking Henley's troops, a single red bar painted across their hoods.

"Sir, we could use this to, uh. . . ." Carter hitched her thumb over her shoulder, indicating just the thing Jack had in mind—getting the hell off this planet.

Jack nodded and tugged on Gerard's shoulder. "This is what we would call a timely retreat."

Gerard nodded, his eyes wide.

As Dawes's men closed ranks, SG-1 and Gerard slipped through them. Jack knew Dawes saw them, but he didn't pursue them which could mean he was letting them go—or it could mean there'd be shit to deal with later. Hopefully later would hold until they were off this planet and had locked it out of the dialing computer.

Gerard directed them through South City, taking them to a garage where he had hidden a land speeder—one of those things that looked decidedly Star Wars-ish (Teal'c's face lit up as much as Teal'c's face ever did). Jack scanned the terrain as they zipped past. Not that South City had a booming population—they'd only ever seen scavengers, people digging through the wreckage for any valuables that had been left behind—but it seemed quieter, like even the air was still in anticipation.

"We're nearing the Celare Opera House—that's just north of the Stargate," Gerard shouted over the rushing air.

Daniel pressed against Jack's shoulder. You're tense, he messaged Jack.

Got a bad feeling.

Yeah. Daniel looked over his shoulder. It's a ghost town, so where are the ghosts?

Jack watched the back of Gerard's head for a moment, the wind wiping his hair up in spikes. You think he's actually coming back with us?

Daniel mentally shrugged, Jack picking up the sentiment.

I kind of don't want him to. I can't imagine this same mess on Earth.

Maybe Gerard's learned something here and could improve on the Vinculum; make it harder to abuse. Daniel's smile was thin.

Ever the optimist.

It's how I've made it this far. Daniel squeezed Jack's elbow, and they both wished it was Jack's hand, but Jack's hands were on his P-90, providing defense for the speeder.

There were armored cars just past the ruins of the opera house. Weapons fire came from either side and Gerard took a hard right, the speeder sliding over the ground, sending rocks skittering beneath them. He pressed on the accelerator and they shot forward, Jack sliding into Daniel.

"Hang on!"

Gerard rammed the speeder through one of the shattered walls and they were driving through one of the buildings, the support columns collapsing behind them, sending dust into the air, providing rather excellent cover, Jack had to admit. Through the holes in the wall, there were glimpses of Henley's soldiers fighting a small squad of Dawes's troops. They must have been stationed here to prevent SG-1 from taking Gerard off the planet.

Gerard shot past the 'gate and then took a hard left, circling around the back. Teal'c shifted, lifting his staff weapon into position over his shoulder. When they broke from behind the ruins, they fired on whatever troops were in their way. Gerard fishtailed in front of the DHD, ducking down behind Carter in the front seat.

"Hold the Stargate!" Amelia's voice crackled over Jack's radio.

Amelia's small squad of fighters were holding off Henley's troops, keeping them pinned down behind what little cover they had between the Stargate and their armored vehicles. Jack looked around, noticing a sniper in one of the buildings and a few other of Dawes's mismatched uniforms peaking from behind detritus.

Gerard suddenly popped up from the driver's seat and drew his arm back, chucking a grenade into the largest group of Henley's troops. Jack leaned forward, pushing on Teal'c's back and they ducked, taking what little cover they could. The explosion was loud and bright—thankfully Gerard had a good arm.

"You're supposed to warn your teammates," Jack snapped.

"I didn't want to warn them, too." Gerard tapped his temple. "Some units have hackers—you can't think, you just have to act."

Amelia's voice crackled over the radio again—Jack missed most of it but caught the word "pursuit." Henley's men had broken ranks—only a few of them remaining—and were in full retreat. Amelia's squad followed them, and a moment later she stepped out from behind her cover, her arms raised, her rifle dangling from the shoulder strap.

She kept walking until she was standing just in front of the speeder. "I would say, 'we've been expecting you,' but that seems too arch."

Jack leapt over the side of the speeder, holding back his smart-ass comments.

Gerard gave her a long look, his eyes narrowing. "Derek doesn't know you're here."

"I'm here on his orders," Amelia's eyes shifted over to Daniel, "but not for his purpose." She looked over her shoulder. "If you're going to leave, you should probably do it while my men are gone."

Jack didn't wait for an explanation and jerked his head; Carter jumped out of the speeder, heading for the DHD.

"Thank you," Daniel said before following after Carter.

Daniel dialed the 'gate and Carter sent their IDC. Once the wormhole stabilized, Jack felt the tension in his chest release. Home was just a few steps away. Jack closed his eyes for a brief moment, remembering the feeling he'd had on the ramp on Earth—this mission was a bad one.

"You don't have to leave," Amelia said to Gerard, her voice soft and enticing. "We'll overthrow Henley soon enough. Maybe Derek is doing it now."

Gerard cast his eyes between Amelia and the 'gate. His options seemed pretty weighted to Jack—freedom on a new planet or serving under Dawes's thumb.

"There's nothing left for me here," Gerard finally said.


Gerard pulled a hard drive out of his pocket. "Jacob's with me." He was grinning now—it was kind of creepy, actually.

Jack stepped up, standing between Amelia and Gerard. "Is this going to be a problem?" He rocked forward on his toes, getting just that much taller than Amelia.

Her eyes cut over his shoulder and she shook her head slightly. Jack nodded to Teal'c, and he and Carter approached the 'gate, holding position and watching their sixes. Daniel and Gerard followed, Jack giving a lazy salute to Amelia before turning his back to her.

"Are you sure you got all of him?" Amelia said, in what seemed a desperate attempt. "That's a pretty complex operation."

Gerard tucked the hard drive back into his pocket. "I have faith in my skills."

Daniel touched Jack's shoulder, stepping towards Amelia. "You'll be all right, right? I mean, you're kind of disobeying orders." Jack rolled his eyes at Daniel's compassion for his torturer—bitch would get what she deserved.

"Those of us who follow Derek think for ourselves. That's kind of the point—having a better choice." Amelia turned her back on the 'gate. "Besides, you have Gerard with you, Daniel. I'm sure Derek would believe that he just—" She dropped to her knees, slumping backwards. If the angle hadn't been completely shit, Jack would have thought she'd been hit by a sniper.

"What did she—?"

"Amelia's good with the Vinculum, too," Gerard said. "She overloaded herself, the same thing I can do to other people."

Jack grabbed Daniel's arm. "Time to go home."

"Shouldn't we check—? I mean, that . . . she could have hurt herself."

"She'll be fine," Gerard said softly. "She's Dawes's little pet. Even if he suspects her, he'll forgive her for this." Gerard turned, looking at the 'gate, his face pale in the light of the event horizon.

"You sure you're ready for this?"

Gerard put his hand over his pocket, and nodded, his mouth working ineffectually.

Carter went first, giving Gerard a tight smile.

Daniel stepped forward, prompting Gerard forward as well. They crossed the event horizon and Jack felt the moment their connection to the Vinculum had been severed. It really was lonelier without Daniel right there.

Jack nodded his head to Teal'c and they stepped through the Stargate, taking seconds to return to terra firma.

* * *

The debriefing had been long—so very long. They'd had to go over the mission, and Gerard, and Jacob, and the entire political situation on Tekhne. It was the kind of debriefing that even wore on Daniel's patience. Daniel was certain Jack zoned out somewhere in the middle, but when the General asked him a question Jack snapped off an answer with hardly a moment's hesitation.

Jack sent Daniel home as soon as their after-mission routine was complete. Daniel had protested at first—he'd been concerned about how Gerard was coping without the Vinculum—but Jack frog-marched him to the elevator, pushed the button for the surface, and said that if he didn't go home, Jack was going to see about having Fraiser keep him overnight for observation.

Of course Jack didn't specify which home Daniel had to go to, so he was camped out on Jack's couch, waiting for Jack to walk through the door with a report on Gerard. Jack's couch, however, was stupidly comfortable so a few hours later Daniel was waking up to Jack's hand on his face, his touch softer than the way he whispered Daniel's name.

Daniel pulled away from the touch slightly, blinking hard. For some reason it still bothered him when Jack was that tender with him. There were things Daniel had forgotten about him and it wasn't right that Jack still . . . that there were still feelings even though Daniel wasn't all there.

"How's Gerard?"

Jack moved over the remote and sat on the coffee table. "Messed up?" Jack scrubbed his face. "It's probably going to take him a while to adjust. Of course the Pentagon wants him in Area 51 yesterday. And Hammond's expecting a call from the NID in the morning."

Daniel closed his eyes. "We should have taken him to another planet."

"I don't think even Hammond could have looked the other way for that one."

The General looked the other way a lot, probably more often than Daniel actually knew.

"What about Jacob?"

Jack shrugged. "We'll find out. Carter's supposed to be helping Gerard. Did you know she still has some of the stuff from when that energy thing took her over? She thinks she can use the interface it built to create some kind of, I don't know, network for Jacob."

"Not quite human." Daniel licked his lips, remembering his conversations with Jacob. There was a lot about Jacob that wasn't quite human any more, but he still had Gerard. Gerard wouldn't leave him behind; he fought for whatever piece of Jacob he could take with him. Just having part of Jacob was enough for him.

"Eh, what's human anyway?" Jack stood up, heading to the kitchen. "Think the Chinese place will still deliver or do they stop at ten?"

Daniel sat up, taking off his glasses and leaving them on the table. "I think they stop at ten." He followed Jack into the kitchen, winding his arms around Jack's waist, steering him to the refrigerator. "Luckily, someone you know stopped at the grocery." He reached around Jack and pulled open the fridge, showing the essentials including Jack's favorite beer and cold sandwiches from the deli.

"Useful one, aren't you?" Jack grabbed the sandwiches and set them on the counter, pulling out two beers as well.

"Sometimes," Daniel replied. He pushed up, and kissed Jack's cheek, Jack's stubble rough under his lips. He felt Jack grin, and he closed his eyes, leaning his head on Jack's shoulder.

"You still sleepy?" Jack asked. "You just want to hit the rack?"

"Maybe," Daniel confessed.

"You gonna . . . you gonna stay here?" Daniel could hear the uncertainty in Jack's voice, that hesitation Daniel had been purposefully ignoring since he'd come back and they'd gotten back together. At first he'd thought it was because Jack thought Daniel was wrong—that he'd come back incomplete. But it wasn't Jack that had thought that.

"It's weird when I don't stay here," Daniel whispered, finally knowing all along what Jack had wanted from him. "You okay with that?" He took a step back, allowing Jack to turn.

"Yeah," Jack said. "Yeah, I'm okay with that."

Daniel smiled and walked backwards out of the kitchen, his hands outstretched and unwilling to let go of Jack until he had to. He grabbed his bag from next to the couch and headed to Jack's room, thinking as he neared the hallway to call back to Jack: "Put away the sandwiches!"

He heard Jack laugh and went to get into bed, feeling at last like he was human again.

~Comments and feedback tighten my bolts.
~Return to Part 1.
FEELS TERRORIST!: PATD Ryan Architectmomebie on June 23rd, 2009 01:11 am (UTC)
"You suppose correctly," Jack said with a nod, relieved Gerard was coming around. "So you should finish fixing you doodad." Jack flicked his fingers at the weapon parts.

Gerard gave him a screwy look. "I'm doing that. Why don't you go be Colonel-y? Elsewhere." Gerard flicked his fingers the same way Jack did.

Jack gave Gerard a look that hopefully said you-may-be-hardwired-into-my-brain-but-I-can-still-kill-you, and then turned and left.

Didn't say that at all, Gerard said through the Vinculum.

Jack smiled; deep down he really did kind of like Gerard.

Favorite part. Well, favorite part without Derek in it. ;)
Em Dash: Steampunk Gerardtheemdash on June 24th, 2009 10:31 am (UTC)
Ha. I know your real favorite part is "You could have not been an ass." ♥
Advection: chevron by _spuk_advection on June 23rd, 2009 04:52 am (UTC)
::happy sigh:: What a ride. Loved the timing of it, seasons-wise -- that this happened when Jack and Daniel were still on uneven footing after Daniel's year away, and when Daniel still wasn't solidly certain of everything in his own head. The scenario is cool and the adventure is exciting and I really like the OCs. So glad you wrote for this.
Em Dash: SG-1 Jack/Daniel Threadstheemdash on June 24th, 2009 10:35 am (UTC)
I love my OCs. Gotta admit, one of the reasons I struggled with this fic a little is because I kept wanting to tell more of the story with the OCs, but it didn't really matter to the rest of the fic, so....

I'm glad you enjoyed it. My favorite season for writing fics is that transition between the animosity in Season 5 and the comfortableness in Season 7 (there's so much canon left unexplored).
(Deleted comment)
Em Dash: SG-1 Jack/Danieltheemdash on June 24th, 2009 10:36 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
akasha_lilianakasha_lilian on June 23rd, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC)
Damn, this was a sweet ride! =)

Haven't read SG fanfiction in a looooooooong while and it was nice to get back with the characters and just follow their newest adventure.

I really liked the relationship between Jack and Daniel, how the Vinculum kind of intensified their bond and erased those doubts at the end. Btw how did you come up with the name Vinculum for the brain internet?
The whole story was interesting, how a society would fall apart through something like this. If I think about having the internet accessible through my brain? Scary thought indeed...Makes me think of those people, who died in front of a computer due to starvation.
But especially the part with Jacob reminded me so much of Otherland. If you haven't read Tad Williams, then you definitely should. Also if you haven't, then I'd say great minds think alike, cause there's an eerie resemblance between the stories!

So even if you moaned about the hours you had to put into this? Soooooooooooo worth it!!!
Em Dash: SG-1 Jack & Daniel Serioustheemdash on June 24th, 2009 10:50 am (UTC)
So glad you enjoyed it. (Also, I enjoyed your comments throughout the posts. Hee!)

Btw how did you come up with the name Vinculum for the brain internet?

Oh, I have to think back now. Hmm... I can't remember the exact path I followed to get to the word now, but vinculum is a real word that means "a bond signifying union or unity" and is primarily used in anatomy and mathematics. It's Latin root means "to bind."

If I think about having the internet accessible through my brain? Scary thought indeed...

Have you read Feed by M.T. Anderson? I read that as I was beginning writing this one and it freaked me out. It's a much more drastic vision of how internet-in-the-brain could be abused, but it gave me a lot to think about for this story. (I didn't really incorporate any elements from Feed, though.)

If you haven't read Tad Williams, then you definitely should. Also if you haven't, then I'd say great minds think alike, cause there's an eerie resemblance between the stories!

I will have to check out Otherland. I'm a sucker for stories like this, where people are trapped in their own heads or living in a virtual world (The Matrix and Dark City are two of my favorite movies).

So even if you moaned about the hours you had to put into this?

All the hair tearing was out of love. And most of the hair tearing was related to me wanting to write more about the OCs. ;)
(no subject) - akasha_lilian on June 24th, 2009 11:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
Finn: SG- Daniel and Jacktallisen on June 24th, 2009 04:22 am (UTC)
*flails* That was wonderful! A great combination of suspense, action, wompage and all around kick ass Jack/Daniel! Totally worth the wait. Thanks so much for writing this. I hope you've got plans for more in the near future! ;D
Em Dash: SG-1 Jack/Daniel Humortheemdash on June 24th, 2009 10:29 am (UTC)
Yay! I'm so glad you liked it after all the flailing via twitter. ;)

I definitely have plans for more fic in the future. And, um, as I neared the end of this fic I maaaaaaaybe started getting ideas for a third part to this series. Um, yeah. >.>
(no subject) - tallisen on June 24th, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Amamproof on June 25th, 2009 03:16 am (UTC)
Firstly, congrats on finishing this epic. :) I have extremely limited knowledge of SG-1, so I did read the prequel before this to get a better idea of what was going on. From a non-fan perspective, I found it very enjoyable. Well-plotted, and I got a good sense of the characters even without knowing them from the show. I loved how you weaved the fact of Daniel's guided hallucinations into Daniel's p.o.v. I picked up on what was happening around the time Amelia turned up and then it just got more interesting b/c it added another layer to the plot and increased the mystery of where Daniel was.

Good job! This kept me well entertained today. :)
Em Dash: SG-1 Jack/Daniel Humortheemdash on July 26th, 2009 08:52 pm (UTC)
Wow. I'm really impressed that you read this as a non-fan and that you still enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun writing this—my first novel length piece of anything in a long time—and plotting it out was (mostly) a joy.

Without getyourwordsout, I probably wouldn't have had the guts to join in this crazy endeavor, so I'm glad I had that extra boost to dive in and finish the task.
oh hayyyyyyy bwian bwoyle: misc - <3sopdetly on June 25th, 2009 12:01 pm (UTC)

This, my dear, is fantastic. I know how hard you worked on it and I can assure you that it completely paid off, because it's pretty much perfect. The flow is excellent, and the pace is completely engaging. I'm glad I let you talk me into watching SG-1 if for no other reason than that it allowed me to read and really appreciate your work here. I told you earlier that I was hearing the characters' voices as I read, but I wanted to say it again on the record, because that is not an easy feat.

I'm so proud of you for this. *GLOMPS* ♥ ♥ ♥
Em Dash: SG-1 Jack/Daniel Serioustheemdash on July 26th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)

I'm really glad you enjoyed this so much and that you could hear the characters! \o/ That's such an amazing thing to hear (and something that is kind of rare). You know how much work I put into this, so I'm thrilled it paid off.
Still tangled up in you: J/D I will go down with this shipstarglyph on June 25th, 2009 03:07 pm (UTC)
Like watching a movie, only better. SG-1 Slash Reboot? :) Excellent. I had a great ride!
Em Dash: SG-1 Jack/Danieltheemdash on July 26th, 2009 08:50 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it! I had so much fun writing this one.
lavenderlocks on June 25th, 2009 08:52 pm (UTC)
I love this up, down and sideways!

The action, the banter, the drama, the way it unfolds, the scene-setting, Daniel's trip to fantasy land, believable villains with a sense of humour, *breath* AND a happy ending.

This is just fantastic, thank you so much for sharing. :D
Em Dash: SG-1 Jack/Daniel Marriedtheemdash on July 26th, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it from all directions! (I love the villains in this, Dawes is totally one of my favorite characters.)

Thanks for commenting!
(Deleted comment)
Em Dash: SG-1 Jack/Daniel Touchiestheemdash on July 26th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you, thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed the ride! I loved the ride I went on myself, moving this from outline to draft to final product. It was quite a bit of work and involved being coached into the right direction by some other wonderful authors. I love the fan community for allowing me a way to get to get assistance on stories like this.
Marthasaffronhouse on July 2nd, 2009 01:52 am (UTC)
Oh, amazing stuff, here. A big, complex world, fascinating characters, pathos and firefights and world history. Wow. Just an incredible journey; thank you!
Em Dash: SG-1 Jack/Daniel Threadstheemdash on July 26th, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks and glad you enjoyed it! I love this big complex world and I'm glad others have as well.
Sunriselilybertha on July 4th, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC)
I had not seen the prequel to this story so I really enjoyed reading both parts. A fantastic off world adventure and the other characters were good, but didn't take over the story.
Em Dash: SG-1 Jack/Danieltheemdash on July 26th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed this and the prequel! I admit that I love the OCs, but tried not to let them take over the story. Glad that worked! ;)
Deoris: Em AFMfifthhouse on July 5th, 2009 06:44 pm (UTC)
Wild Ride
Took me a while to finish this, but it was well worth it, as usual. I really love your writing and how it flows. It's so true to the characters and their natures. Your action is great and your inner dialog is perfect. Just...thank you for writing this. :)
Em Dash: SG-1 Jacktheemdash on July 26th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Wild Ride
I'm so glad you enjoyed it and thank you for commenting! There are a few people who read a lot of my stuff and I always kind of wait for you guys to weigh in. ;)
AN ENIGMA GAVE A PARADOX A VERY SPECIAL HUG: be afraidmelayneseahawk on August 8th, 2009 11:41 am (UTC)
I can't even begin to describe how many kinds of awesome this is.
tejastejas on August 16th, 2009 12:39 pm (UTC)
FINALLY! I finally got to read this. *Very* nice indeed. I'm not sure who I feel sorrier for, Jacob or Gerard.

Love Daniel's kind of winding rediscovery of his relationship with Jack. Sorta like the room where Jacob was, though, it's real and familiar and he recognizes it, but the walls are the wrong color.

Now, stop all that silly unpacking and write some more! ;-)