Colonel Jack O’Neill, with two l’s thank you very much, could never be accused of being a patient man. His subordinates knew this very well, and all made sure that if there was any waiting to be done, there would be SOMETHING on hand to occupy him. However, when it came to interrogation, there was not much on hand for him to amuse himself with. Not unless he wanted to remove any credibility he still had with his prisoner, that is to say. Still, he managed to control himself as he watched his prisoner, apparently a shape-shifting alien who had stolen away an airman and hurt one of HIS teammates. The fact that he had also healed him afterward was the only reason Jack had been able to contain himself thus far.
While waiting was difficult, at least he had a good show to watch, as ‘Lt. Stevens’’ face glowed and changed. What he did not expect to see emerging was the face of the young carnie his team had watched mere hours before.
“You? But, you’re just a kid! That was some act at the carnival.” Jack crossed his arms. “But that wasn’t an act, now, was it? That was all you.”
The young man sighed and rubbed his wrists where the straps had chafed. “Yes, it was,” he replied, and then frowned. He placed his hand over his throat, fingers briefly glowing. “There, much better. That felt weird.”
“Well, kid, what’s your name? Fair’s fair, I told you mine, now you tell me yours. Who are you?” Jack was naturally suspicious, after all, while alien invasions and infiltrations were quite commonplace, they almost never ended well. Helping Daniel was a mark in his favor, but there was still the issue of the missing airman to consider. “Where’d you stash Lt. Stevens?”
Looking down at the sheets, he replied, “My name is Zan. Your Lieutenant is fine; he’s just taking a little nap out in the woods. He’s not hurt and won’t be.
Jack smirked. “So, Zan, you just heard we had some technology and decided to crash the party? What did you think you were going to do with the Gate when you found it? Cause from where I was standing, you looked kind of out of it, like you were trying to do some strange Vulcan mind-meld with it. How’d that work out for ya?” The Colonel took a moment to enjoy the flustered and embarrassed look on his prisoner’s face. So far, this interrogation had been one of the easiest he’d ever had. The kid just didn’t hide his emotions all that well.
‘Zan’ slumped a little, blushing. “I didn’t mean to do that! I had never seen anything like the…what did you call it again? Gate? before, and I wanted to check it out. I thought if I got closer I might recognize some of the symbols. When I touched it, it just sort of pulled me in. It was really strange; it showed me a bunch of pictures of people in Egyptian skirts with animal heads.” He tilted his head a little. “You wouldn’t happen to know what that was, would you? I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Sudden footsteps startled the pair and they looked over to see Daniel, still dressed in the ubiquitous hospital gown. “You’ve never seen a Gate before?” he asked, “But they are all over the galaxy. Most planets seeded by the Goa’ould have a Gate. If you are an alien advanced enough to make it to Earth, then how could you not have heard of the Gates?”
Jack smiled at his enthusiastic archaeologist. His enthusiasm was catching, even if his inquisitive nature often got him into tight spots. “Well, Danny-boy, Janet did say that he wasn’t human. And our Gate has been under lock and key for decades, so there’s no way that he could have gotten through here.” He turned to ‘Zan.’ “Do you by any chance have a spaceship hidden away somewhere?”
The young man began to blush. “Um, well…no, not anymore. It went back home without me.” He fiddled with his bed sheets.
“Uh, huh. So, you’re stranded here. Were you looking for a way home? Cause that might be a bit difficult, since we can only really go to where there’s another Stargate, and if your people don’t have one…”
“No!” ‘Zan’ shouted, and then looked embarrassed. He continued in a more normal tone of voice “I mean, no, thank you. I don’t want to go back. There was a war, and I got sent away. Well, truthfully, just the DNA, some memories, and a personality got sent away, then they kind of crossed that with a human and made me. They were kind of hoping to re-create their king, who had been killed, but that was over half a century ago. The war’s long over, and we lost. Having me go back now wouldn’t change anything.” He closed his eyes, looking sad. “They keep sending assassins after me, so when I heard that you had some alien technology here, I was worried that it might be part of another of their plots. I just wanted to check and make sure that nothing dangerous had fallen into the wrong hands.”
“Maybe if you told us more about the people you are running from, we might be able to help.” Daniel, always the peacemaker, offered.
“Well,” ‘Zan’ replied, looking thoughtful. “They are called Skins. I don’t think that’s their name for themselves; it’s just the name that they are called here. They can’t live on the Earth without help; the air is poisonous to them. So, they wear a kind of skin-suit. It makes them look just like a human, but they are constantly shedding their skin, kind of like a permanent, full-body sunburn. The only way I ever know they are around is when I start finding large pieces of skin lying around. They are really strong, too, and one of the only ways I’ve found to stop them is to hit them hard on a spot on their lower backs, where the seal to the suit is- break it and they get exposed to the air and die. They have no problem killing people who get in their way.” He shuddered.
“Well, kid, I can definitely say there are none of those around here. Everyone gets frequent medical tests, LOTS of tests, involving lots of needles. Most of which you’ve experienced.” Jack scowled, remembering his own times suffering at the hands of the torturing wench formally called Dr. Janet Frasier. “I can honestly say I’ve never seen or heard of these aliens of yours. Daniel, you’re the book geek. Do you know anything?”
Daniel’s face lit up, presumably at the thought of new research. “No, I haven’t. Unless…there are Native American legends of spirits taking on human form, and stories of shape shifters abound in every culture. I wonder if that could be a reference to these ‘Skins?’” He stared thoughtfully into space. “Of course, the abilities that you have shown are remarkably like the Goa’ould- healing and shielding. They didn’t find any devices on you though, did they? And the energy was green, not white, like the hand devices. How did you do that?”
The young man hesitated, clearly reluctant to speak. “That’s a natural ability. I can manipulate the energy my body produces in different ways. When humans evolve to use more of their brain, then they will be able to do similar things. You only use about 10% of your brain. The other part of your brain contains abilities that you term ‘ESP.’ Most can’t tap into that part.” He looked nervously at Daniel. “When I healed you, I gave you some of my energy, which caused your cells to heal faster. But because you were close to dying, it will have a few side effects. It will eventually give you greater access to that part of your brain that you don’t use. You will end up with abilities similar to mine…”
Jack interrupted, “You mean Daniel is going to be able to make energy shields and throw people around with his mind? Sweet!”
Glaring at Jack, Daniel responded. “Well, seeing as how I’m usually the one to get shot or kidnapped, that might be helpful.” He relaxed, sitting down on a nearby chair. “If you are a war refugee, then maybe you could work with us? Your abilities would be helpful. At the very least, we could help you settle in and build a new life here.”
“Depending on whether or not Lt. Stevens comes back in one piece,” Jack added. “We come across a lot of aliens in some of the strangest places. Like I said, we’re the good guys. We don’t experiment on anyone. And if there are people after you, this might be the safest place for you. You and your friends, I’m going to assume that the people with you in the carnival are also aliens?”
“No, they’re not,” ‘Zan’ lied, unconvincingly. When his interrogators just looked at him, he flushed and fidgeted. “Well, mostly not. A lot of them are people like Daniel- I healed them and they got powers. When I started traveling, they came with me. They are my family. I would do ANYTHING to protect them,” he finished, challengingly.
Jack just nodded. “Family’s important. If they would like a place, I’m sure we could arrange something. I will have to clear it with the General, but if you prove trustworthy, then I’m sure that we will be able to let you go.” He paused. “But wait a minute! How the heck did you know about us in the first place? Do we have a leak?”
The boy just laughed. “No, you don’t. The fortune teller really IS a fortune teller. She can tell your future through touch, and she saw what looked like alien technology when you guys got your fortunes read. If she gave you any warnings, things to do or to avoid doing, please listen to her. She’s very accurate.”
“Yeah, sure, you betcha.” The Colonel was about to continue when he was interrupted by a knock on the door. “Come in!” he called.
An airman entered, bearing a tray. “Sorry to interrupt, sir, but I was sent around with breakfast for you and the prisoner.” He set the tray down on a small table, saluted, and turned to leave.
“Ah, breakfast,” Jack commented, rubbing his hands together. “It has been a long night. Let’s see what we have here.” He lifted the lid. “Ah, bacon and eggs, toast, and three bowls of blue Jell-o! They remembered!”
Daniel snorted. “Let’s face it, Jack, all the kitchen staff knows about your Jell-o obsession.” He turned to their prisoner/guest. “For Jack, the most important part of any meal is the Jell-o. Guard yours well, for he is known worldwide as a Jell-o thief. If you don’t get to it quickly, it vanishes.”
Grumbling and muttering good-naturedly under his breath about annoying archaeologists, Jack grabbed his dish of Jell-o and dug in. He noted that his guest had also chosen the blue Jell-o. Nothing like blue Jell-o after a hard day, he mused. Then, the boy did something that would forever after make him cringe at the memory: he poured the bottle of Tabasco sauce all over it.
Taking a large bite, the young man smiled. “There’s nothing like a nice bowl of blue Jell-o,” he mumbled around the mouthful.
Jack could only look on in horror.
I managed to disgust Jack with Jell-o! Remembering the Roswell aliens’ obsession with Tabasco sauce, I just had to.
More will be coming soon. Please leave a review if you like, they inspire me!