Teal'c looked at the armored man who was standing a few paces away from the base of the ring platform, frozen in place, his weapon still pointing at the last Ori soldier he had killed. His brow was furrowed in a look Teal'c recognized very well, for he had seen it many times before amongst the Jaffa. It was the look of a man experiencing a crisis of faith, a man who had realized that his Gods were false, and that he was in fact on his own to deal with the repercussions of this newfound knowledge. Teal'c slowly walked up to the man, and bowed his head to him: "You are Tomin. The people of the Tau'ri and I," Teal'c nodded at Colonel Bentley, "wish to express our gratitude for your assistance."

Still looking shell-shocked, Tomin lowered his weapon, and addressed Teal'c: "You must be Teal'c of the Jaffa. Vala has told me about you."

"If you know of me and my people, then you should know that I too was forced to renounce false Gods. Only by casting away my misguided allegiance to them was I able to work towards freeing my people from slavery. You are courageous to take this first step as well."

Tomin glanced around him at the fallen Ori soldiers, and then looked at Teal'c: "You denounced your Gods, but were you forced to deceive your brethren? To murder them in cold blood when they least suspected?"

Before Teal'c could reply that, yes, although he was not proud of the fact, he had been forced to kill other Jaffa as well, the rings behind Tomin sprang into motion again. Teal'c pushed Tomin out of his line of fire, aimed his P-90 at the incoming traveler and waited for the rings to collapse downwards again. He needed to be certain that no more Ori soldiers were transporting to the planet.

But the rings collapsed, revealing only Daniel.


"Daniel Jackson. It is good to see that you are alive and well," said Teal'c, a smile warming his face. But Teal'c's smile soon disappeared as he watched Daniel, still clutching his chest, stumble off the ring platform. Yes, Daniel was alive, but Teal'c could now see that he was not well at all. His face was entirely drained of color, and he was struggling to remain conscious.

"Teal'c what are you doing here? What's SG-9 doing here on Avalon?"

It seemed to Teal'c that Daniel was also delirious. Raising an eyebrow, he responded: "I believe you are mistaken, this planet is PX-453, on which we have previously visited the village of Camelot."

"What? I thought that –"

"Where is Vala" interrupted Tomin, his voice laced with urgency.

Daniel had somehow completely overlooked the presence of the Ori soldier upon his arrival, which worried Teal'c even more. Daniel glanced between Teal'c and Tomin, utterly confused.

"I don't understand. What's he doing here?"

"Tomin is an ally, Daniel Jackson. Vala Mal Doran's message to us explained that we were to extract you and Tomin from these coordinates. But I must also ask: why has Vala not joined you?"

Daniel felt as though his insides had been instantly sucked away by a black hole. The truth had finally dawned upon him. "No, not dawned," he thought sardonically, as darkness began to engulf his world and his resolve to remain conscious suddenly vanished. He felt his knees buckle beneath him. When Teal'c tried to hold him up, Daniel pushed his arms away. "No Teal'c…. it's all my fault … I need to get her back" Teal'c ignored Daniel, and grabbed him around the shoulders in order to support him. Daniel, glancing desperately at the sky, whispered: "Oh God … she planned all this … and I thought she was a traitor… I … I left her behind." His eyes fluttered close, and he collapsed against Teal'c's arm.

Teal'c did not hesitate, but radioed his ship at once: "Odyssey, this is Teal'c. Requesting immediate transport. I require medical assistance for Doctor Daniel Jackson upon arrival."

In response, Teal'c soon felt the familiar sensation of his body breaking down into its constituent molecules, and getting whisked away into space. Only after SG-9, Daniel and Teal'c were safely aboard the Odyssey, did Teal'c realize that Tomin was missing.

Adria was furious. Her troops were scattered, her combat vessels mostly destroyed, and to top it all off, the wretched planet she was on did not house anything remotely close to Arthur's burial ground. Orici should not be foolish enough to trust anyone, she thought. Orici should be above anger. Even though her mother had betrayed her, she needed to focus. She needed to salvage the army she had left, to contact her ships in orbit. She needed to get off the planet the Tau'ri had left her stranded on.

Adria closed her eyes, and focused on sending a telepathic message to the priors commanding her ships. They needed to know what had happened, and they needed to send any remaining combat ships to retrieve her.

Light somehow made its way into her pupils, and she blinked against its blinding power. But as her eyes adjusted to it, the floor came into focus beneath her, and she found herself captivated by the intricate patterns hand-painted on the tiles by some craftsman's brush. She wondered why she had previously overlooked this artwork, embedded in the very ground she had been treading on for weeks. Then, she realized that she was lying on the floor, alone, and that the floor was cold.

"Why am I here?" thought Vala. She was suddenly aware of a dull ache, and a sticky wetness that had clumped her hair to the back of her head. Groaning softly, she trailed her fingers along the spot in question, and was surprised to see her own blood on her fingers. A few moments of confusion elapsed before the events leading up to her current state came crashing down upon her. Daniel's anger, his unbridled hatred that had completely taken her off guard, returned to her in flashes, and she shuddered. He had probably managed to get off the ship by now. If so, should she even bother getting up? Was there any point? She squeezed her eyes shut again, and wished she would bleed to death right here on the floor of the Ori ship.

But her blood was clotting, and besides a mild concussion, there was sadly nothing wrong with her. It was then that she felt another presence in the room, silently watching her. Vala Panicked. She sprang up into sitting position, ignoring the pain that reverberated from the back of her head and down her spine. As she glanced around the room, her worst fears were confirmed. A prior was standing at the doorway, his staff irradiating a translucent blue glow.

"Cursed are the deceitful, for they are the foulest of creatures," began the prior, his voice scathing, despite his calm exterior. "You have betrayed the Orici. You have freed the prisoner. You have directed the armies of unbelievers to this planet in hopes of deterring the spread of true faith." The prior annunciated every "you" with utter disdain. "But your deception shall be punished most severely. All those who betray the Ori's trust must suffer the most terrible of consequences."

Vala laughed bitterly. She had nothing to lose now.

"If there's something worse than getting burnt alive, I say bring it on."

She immediately reached for the energy weapon tucked within the folds of her dress, and began pulling it out with the intention of silencing this pretentious man once and for all. But, to Vala's horror, she discovered that her movements had suddenly become sluggish. It was as though the command from her brain signaling her arm muscles to contract got lost somewhere along the way. Her fingers were refusing to flex, and she felt an enormous strain on her mind just to force her arm to retain its current position. "You do not wish to harm me," whispered a disembodied voice. Did the prior say that out loud, or was he inside her head?

"Still, you must suffer …" said the voice, and sure enough, Vala began to feel a crushing sensation overwhelm her limbs and head. She tried to cry out, but somehow her vocal chords seemed crushed by an overwhelming weight as well. Vala felt as though she had suddenly been transported into the bottom of an ocean, where the intense water pressure pushed against her from every direction, and shattered every bone in her body. The dull pain from her head injury was replaced by insurmountable agony. Squeezing her eyes shut, she tried to form coherent thoughts. "You must resist him," she told herself, "Clear your mind Vala … ignore his subliminal suggestions of pain." Vala forced herself to concentrate. She could taste blood on her lips and realized that her nose was bleeding, probably from mental overexertion. Yet, the crushing pressure she felt seemed to subside slightly. The prior's hold on her mind was continuing to slip, as Vala slowly wrenched her thoughts free. She began to think clearly, and Vala remembered that her hand was still poised over her energy weapon, waiting to grasp and pull it out. "Just a little more …" Vala thought, pushing her concentration to its limits: "Now!" She felt the metal of the weapon cold against her fingertips and, with one swift movement, Vala drew the weapon, aimed at the prior, and fired.

But nothing happened.

The prior smiled triumphantly, his face aglow under the stream of the energy that bounced off his protective shield, spluttering like a firecracker in the darkness.

"Countless other mortals have colluded together against the Ori and failed. You, Vala Mal Doran, are alone. Are you foolish enough to believe that you can challenge the will of the Ori by yourself?"

The prior's staff began to glow again. Her options exhausted, Vala decided that if things were going to end this way, she should at least have the last word. She inhaled deeply, and countered: " I am not - "

But before she could complete her sentence, she heard an energy weapon discharge behind the prior. His mental powers had been so focused on Vala, he hadn't been able to detect this new threat at all. With a look of utter shock on his face, the prior collapsed on the floor, his robes charred against his lower back. As he collapsed, he revealed Tomin standing behind him, his staff weapon still crackling with remnant energy.

"… Alone," finished Vala, displaying her signature grin, "I have my wingman to look out for me."

But Tomin wasn't listening to her. He had fallen onto his knees beside the prior, and was sobbing profusely.

Vala wiped the blood from her nose with the back of her hand, and staggered onto her feet. She walked over to Tomin and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder, surprised yet relieved that he didn't push it off.

"I have killed a prior," whispered Tomin, tears streaming down his face, his gaze still transfixed by the prior's body, "I have killed the bearer of truth. I have forsaken any last hope for eternal life. The powerful hand of Origin shall strike me down. I shall be punished with fire."

"Tomin, look at me." Vala rested her right hand underneath Tomin's chin, and tilted his head upwards, so that she could look deep into his eyes: " I'm here Tomin. I'm still here. The all-seeing Ori did not foil my plans. They did not stop you from saving my life. Thus it is safe to conclude that they are not as powerful as you might imagine. They will not punish you. You're safe with me."

Tomin's eyes suddenly became accusatory, and he dropped his gaze, pulling away from Vala. "With you? I have listened to your words, and I have followed your path. All I see is more destruction. More hatred. I am ashamed of what I have become."

Vala did not know how to respond. Could she really justify death by claiming it was all for the greater good? Tomin was desperately begging her for a sense of direction, but all she could say was:

"We're in a war Tomin. A war that has been forced upon us by the Ori. If I told you wars do not involve destruction and death I would be lying. Still, if it makes you feel better, you can blame me for everything." It would only be fair: the universe's current predicament was, in fact, entirely her fault.

Tomin was silent. Vala could hear his breathing steady, and saw the tension in his shoulders dissipate. He murmured almost inaudibly, catching Vala completely off guard: "I wish I had never been cured of my lameness." A few moments passed before he nodded at her, and allowed her to help him up. But his eyes soon shifted to her injured head.

"You are bleeding," said Tomin, concerned.

He tried to reach out and examine Vala's wound but she swatted his hand away. They really had no time for this.

"I'll live."

As if to confirm her growing sense of urgency, soldiers' voices traveled towards them from the corridor. "We cannot leave the ship anymore, since we are no longer in range. But from your stance, I suspect you once again have a plan," said Tomin, his former dejection suddenly replaced by a newfound sense of conviction.

"I do in fact, " said Vala, charging her weapon to the maximum. She smiled, and said: "Tomin, you and I are going to commandeer this ship."

"Sam, we need to get her back." Now that Daniel had returned, it was up to him to restore the remaining missing member of his team.

"I know, Cam. But as much as I hate to say it, we have more pressing concerns right now. An envoy of combat ships is returning from the planet. If we don't act soon, they will probably destroy Camelot from orbit. Thousands of people will die."

"What are you saying Sam?" asked Mitchell, although he knew exactly what she was saying.

"I'm saying that we shouldn't waste this opportunity. I think that destroying even one Ori ship is worth the risk."

Cam paused. He brought his hand up to his forehead, and cursed the times for forcing his hand, yet again, and cornering him into making this decision. Could he, with good conscience, choose to save Vala and condemn the lives of thousands? He knew he wouldn't be able to live with himself. "So if we shoot a missile at the Ori ship, it should be out of phase?"

"Yes, as long as our ship remains out of phase as well. The missile can therefore occupy the same space as the ship. If I get the timing right, I can take the missile out of phase, causing it to detonate within the ship."

"And that's how we circumvent their shields. Nice, Carter!"

"One problem. The Ori ships know we're here. Once I take us back into phase again, we will be completely vulnerable. Our hyperdrive is overextended as it is, since it's diverting some of its power to the mantle. So it's safe to say that we will not be able to make a speedy escape if need be."

"Are you getting all of this Cunningham? We need to be prepared for the worst."

"Yes, Colonel. We'll be ready." Replied Cunningham, signaling one of his captains to boost shields, and arm the nuclear missile.

"Cam, if we do this, we need to do it now."

Mitchell bit his lip, and felt his feet turn to lead beneath him. He was just about to give the order, when he heard a disturbance emanating from the rear of the bridge.

"Wait! Stop! You can't fire at those ships!"

Mitchell shot an exasperated glance at Teal'c and Doctor Peterson, who were following closely behind Daniel. "Jackson, you're not helping. Get your ass back to the infirmary, and that's an order!"

"Please…" begged Daniel, his voice tinged with desperation; "Let Teal'c and I lead a rescue team after her. We'll be back in time for you to complete your –"

"Jackson you can barely stand let alone lead a team. And you know very well we can't beam you past the ship's shields." Daniel opened his mouth to object, but Mitchell beat him to it: "Do you even know which ship she's on?"

"Of course I do … it's … the one with the bluish tiles … and a very large window …" stammered Daniel, while unbeknownst to him, Doctor Peterson was creeping up from behind him with a large syringe. Teal'c suddenly grabbed Daniel from behind, restraining his arms while the doctor sedated him. "I am sorry Daniel Jackson, but you are aggravating your injuries but refusing to treat them," said Teal'c as Daniel gradually stopped his feeble struggle and fell into a deep slumber. Watching Teal'c carry Daniel back to the infirmary, Mitchell admitted to himself that this was one of those times when his job wasn't so hot after all. He begrudgingly turned to Sam, and said: "Do it."

Cunningham pulled the red trigger and fired the nuclear missile, while Sam intently watched the timer she had programmed as it counted down towards the opportune moment. Mitchell watched in amazement as he saw the missile rip through an Ori ship's hull, and yet, continue on its path as though nothing had blocked its way. The timer started beeping loudly, and Sam hit the button on her laptop at once, taking the Odyssey back into phase again. The missile disappeared from view within the Ori ship. Mitchell could hear a massive intake of air, as seemingly everyone on board the Odyssey's bridge held his breath in anticipation.

Just when Mitchell was about to declare their attempt a bust, the ship exploded.

The resulting shockwave rippled through the intermediate space between them, sending debris everywhere in billows expanding from the center of the explosion. The Odyssey trembled slightly, but they were well out of range. "Yeah!" said Mitchell, slapping Colonel Cunningham on the back, "Score one for the good guys." But then he glanced at Sam, who had a solemn expression on her face, and he remembered Vala. He might as well have condemned her to death, and therefore his smile disappeared. Nevertheless, the crew members of the Odyssey were too busy high-fiving each other to notice that their elation was soon to be short lived.

"Sir, we have incoming!" yelled a lieutenant seated at forefront of the bridge, indicating one of the remaining Ori ships that had managed to maneuver itself close to the Odyssey. It was as though it had known the Odyssey's exact position beforehand, and was waiting for it to jump into phase again before attacking it. The ship fired upon them, just as Cunningham bellowed: "All decks, brace for impact."

The Odyssey shook violently as its shields barely prevented the brunt of the Ori beam from completely destroying it. Monitors were beeping madly, and some crewmen were on the floor, some with serious injuries. "Colonel, get us out of here," said Mitchell to Cunningham, but Carter interjected: "He can't. Our hyperdrive is shod. We're not going anywhere."

"Damn it, we're sitting ducks," said Mitchell, thinking that the scenario was sickeningly reminiscent of the Korolev. "You probably can't take us out of phase again, can you?" he asked Carter, desperate for some shred of hope.

"Colonel, we have another incoming attack."

Mitchell cursed again, and gripped the control panel in front of him for support. But something peculiar caught the corner of his eye. "What the..," he stammered. He turned his head, and gaped at the scene playing out before him through the view port. The last Ori ship, which he had assumed was pursuing them as well, had opened fire at the Odyssey's assailant.

The Odyssey's attacker was taking heavy damage. It fired two feeble shots at the third ship, but the later skillfully evaded them, conducting itself with the ease of a much smaller vessel. Finally, a well-aimed beam at the glowing energy center of the second ship crippled it. The vessel was left dead in space, floating like a carcass upon a languid sea of stars.

Carter was the first to break the silence. She said, completely unnecessarily: "Wow. I guess Ori ships can penetrate each other's shields."

"Sir," said a sergeant, "One of the combat vessels has just escaped into hyperspace."

"You mean they didn't stick around to fight to the bitter end? How un-Origin-al of them." said Mitchell, chuckling at his own joke, and glancing at Sam to see whether she got it.

Sam rolled her eyes at him. "I'm betting Adria is aboard that ship, and we just let her get away."

"Way to kill the mood, Carter."

Suddenly, a bright LED began to flash on a console at the front of the ship. "Sir, we are receiving a transmission from the Ori ship," said a lieutenant, looking at the LED as though it were about to transform into a deadly bug and bite him.

"Well … then, by all means, let's hear it," replied Cunningham, trying to wipe off the look of shock on his face.

"Odyssey, this is the Thalaquin," boomed Vala's voice over the radio. " As this lovely ship's commander, I wish to bid you good day, and point out that, once again, I've managed to save your sorry behinds."

"Vala!" said Sam, overjoyed, as she snatched the receiver, "It's so good to hear your voice again."

" Oh, I'm sure you've all missed me immensely." Said Vala. Her voice had taken on a warmer timbre as soon as she heard Sam start talking.

Mitchell snatched the receiver from Carter in turn, and ignored the piercing look she shot at him him. He yelled into the receiver: "Vala! How, in heaven's name, are you flying that ship?"

"Well, my dear Colonel, I've been commandeering ships long before you had even heard of a hyperdrive. In fact, during my years of youth –"


"Let's just say I wouldn't be an excellent former thief without keen powers of observation. I learned how to bypass the command from the control chair of the bridge, so that I can command the ship manually from an access panel."

"Well, then, lower your shields so that we can beam someone over." Mitchell knew the implications of capturing an Ori ship were enormous. If they could fly it back to earth with them, they could use it against other Ori ships. Better yet, they could study it and learn its inner workings. Glancing at Carter beside him, he could see that she could barely contain her excitement at the prospect of this new, albeit very large, toy to play with. Things were finally looking up, and his team was once again complete.

"There. I've taken the shields down. But I feel it's my duty to warn you of –" Vala's voice was suddenly interrupted by a large thud, and sound of muffled firefight in the background.

Vala's voice returned, this time rushed and breathless: "As much as I'd like to continue our invigorating chat, it seems that the remaining guards we locked out of the bridge have finally managed to blast their way through. Reinforcements would be greatly appreciated –" With that, the radio went dead.

"Vala, come in…" tried Mitchell, but he knew it was of no use. He looked up at Carter, who nodded. "It's easier to beam them all on board this ship. We can disarm the Ori soldiers while they are still disoriented," she said.

Vala glanced over at Tomin who was firing his staff weapon continuously at the angry barrage of Ori soldiers. She herself had her hands full, trying to throw off a rather large soldier who had pinned her to the wall with his staff. Pivoting against the wall, Vala brought her knees towards her chest, and aimed a kick towards the soldier's abdomen. Her boots collided with his armor as she pushed him back with her legs. Simultaneously, she wrenched the soldier's staff free from his grip, and used it to cast a sideways blow to his head, knocking him out cold.

Vala took a moment to catch her breath. With the intention of helping Tomin with her new staff weapon, she began to head his way, but was horrified to see an Ori soldier aim his weapon at her unwitting husband from a hidden entrance to bridge.

"Tom…" she began to shout out. But before her thoughts could translate into actions, she felt a familiar white light wash over her. Someone was beaming her off of the Thalaquin.

A/N: Sorry I took so long to update, but college started and ... well you know what happens then. This chapter took me forever to write, and I wanted to finish the next chapter as well so I could post them together. That way I wouldn't get shot by disgruntled readers who are tired of my cliff hangers :D. This chapter, besides being extremely long, is pretty angsty, and so is the next one. There were some places I felt the plot was a little shaky. But anyway, would love to hear what you think. Please don't be afraid to review, and critique.