TITLE: The Return of Joe
SPOILERS: Serpents Lair, 2001, Matrix, City of Angels
SEASON/SEQUEL: Season 5, Sequel to "Joe strikes back"
RATING: PG 13
CONTENT WARNINGS: Slight mention of sex.
SUMMARY: Joe returns - and he does it in a way nobody expected.
ARCHIVE: Anywhere please!
Home: Stargate Atlantis Pandora
DISCLAIMER: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is the sequel to "Joe strikes back", but you don't have to have read it to understand "The Return of Joe". Thanks to Mary "Angel Star" McNamara for beta reading!
The Return of Joe
All what we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream.
- Edgar Allan Poe
Prologue: Joe, Hero
The last thing Joseph Faxon, ambassador from earth, saw before Borren knocked him unconscious from behind was Major Carter falling backwards through the shimmering blue event horizon, back to earth. Back to safety, as he hoped.
When he regained consciousness and opened his eyes, he felt an enormous pain stretching out of his head into his whole body filling his vision with glowing sparks. Very carefully he reached for the large swelling at the back of his head. At the same time he was wondering how he was still alive.
He hadn't left the harvester. Right in front of him he could see Borren lying on the floor - whether dead or just unconscious he couldn't tell. And two other people were there. Humanoid. Blue skin. Armed with Zat'nt'kels. They smiled down on him.
"Congratulations, Joe!" one of them said. "You're a hero now."
Joe pressed a cold towel on the back of his head and looked around thoughtfully. They were on board a spaceship now. Destination unknown.
"Who are you by the way? And why did you save me?"
"We are from the Cult of Samantha", the bigger man replied. He was as big as a mountain and could have crushed Joe's head with one hand. "My name's Stalker. And my boss here is the High Priest of the Cult of Samantha."
"We saved you because you seemed worthy." the High Priest continued. "You endangered your own life to protect someone else's. And not only ‚someone's' but that of Samantha Carter."
"And were are we going now?"
His ‚saviours' looked at each other and grinned. "That's depends completely on you" Stalker answered.
They had taken seats in the captain's quarters of the ship. The armchairs were very comfortable and the room was illuminated by a fireplace, which gave it an all round perfect living room illusion.
"I know that you have a question." the High Priest began. "It's the question that brought you here at last, although you might not be aware of it yet. But you know the question."
"What is the Cult of Samantha?"
"Do you want to know what it is?"
The High Priest held up two pills: "Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Cult of Samantha is. You have to see it for yourself. This is your only chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the red pill, the story ends, you will forget everything that has happened here and return to earth unharmed. You take the blue pill, you will dive deeper into the mysteries to the deepest depths of the Cult."
Without hesitation Joe took the blue pill: "May I ask what's in there?"
"Yes, you may."
"I see. May I have a glass of water?"
Joe had a strange feeling. His head injury was surely not the reason for it, because it had completely healed within the last five minutes
"What will happen to me?"
"The substance in the pill prepares your body for the act of controlled quantum leaping."
"Yes, exactly. You are familiar with quantum mechanics?"
"No, not really."
"Same for me. All I know is that the position of a subatomic particle is undetermined until it is measured. Before that it can exist everywhere in the universe. The probability for that shrinks with the distance, but it never reaches zero."
Joe watched his skin taking on a bluish colour. "And we do the same with our whole bodies?"
"More than that, my friend. We will travel the multiverse!"
"The multiverse? And what would that be?"
"You will find out yourself very soon."
Scene 1: In the beginning
We see the interior of the prison cell on a Goa'uld spaceship. Present are Jack O'Neill, Daniel Jackson, Samantha Carter and Teal'c. They are lying on the floor and seem to be unconscious. Jack is regaining his consciousness and holds his aching head.
Jack: "Teal'c! I can't see."
Teal'c: "I'm also blinded. This is only temporary."
Jack: "What the hell was that?"
Teal'c: "A Goa'uld shock grenade. Although very painful the effects are only temporary."
Jack: "Good to hear that."
Jack feels for Major Carter who grabs his hand in a reflex and bites into it.
Sam: "Colonel? I'm sorry, but it's so dark."
Jack: "It's all right ... no bad reaction."
Daniel: "It's not dark, we have been blinded. And we've failed."
Jack: "It's gonna be all right, Daniel. We've been in worse situations that this."
Teal'c: "Not to my knowledge."
Jack: "Thanks, Teal'c."
Daniel: "They prepare for the destruction of the biggest cities of earth. They'll do it from space, so we can't defend ourselves."
Daniel: "Jack, I've already witnessed this!"
Jack: "Daniel! Keep cool! You witnessed this once and survived. We just ... had a very bad day."
Sam: "Colonel, I'm beginning to see something again."
Teal'c: "My vision seems to return also."
Jack: "That's exactly what I wanted to hear! Carter? If someone comes in ... bite ‚em in the hand!"
Samantha Carter giggles and her smile fills the room like a rising sun, but there is no one there to see it - or is there?
Sam: "Yes, Sir."
"What's that?", Joe asked.
"We are in the year 1998 on board Apophis' ship. It's on the way to earth to enslave the inhabitants and punish them for their arrogance."
"Oh, I remember. In the end SG-1 was able to stop the invasion. Is this a recreation?
"No, we are really here."
"But they cannot see us because they have been blinded?"
"No. They cannot see us at all."
"So we can journey into the past but cannot change it?"
"Oh yes, we could change it if we want to. But that's not the intention of this voyage."
"So what is the intention of this voyage? And why do we start it here?"
"The intention is to explain the Cult of Samantha. And we start here because the Cult of Samantha was born here."
"I haven't a clue what you're talking about."
"I know. Be patient for a short while. Soon you will understand."
Scene 2: Joe vs. the reactor
Two blue skinned men are carrying another man, who looks like a warped version of Joe, through a corridor of an Asguard ship. In the distance a low humming can be heard.
"Who the hell are you?" the Joe-version asks.
"Your worst nightmare." one of them answers.
"Sam is dead. You buggers! Wait..." Joe hesitates. "I was merged with her. Why am I still alive?"
"You forgot about the 30 minutes until the device in your heart is activated and makes it stop beating. I've heard it's a pretty painful death."
"And where are you bringing me?"
"We came to the conclusion that there is an even more painful way to die. And we don't want to miss out!" one of them answers, sniggering.
"So we are going to throw you into the reactor." the other adds.
"Those guys are you and Stalker!" Joe said "And you're about to bring me to a terrible end! And Sam is dead?!"
"A good summary."
"So we have ventured to the future?"
"No, into a parallel universe. The meaning of time becomes unimportant in quantum leaping. In fact we are stepping from one reality into another."
Joe shuddered. It wasn't a very good feeling to see yourself being thrown into a reactor: "And what kind of reality is this here?"
"In this reality you're a real pain in the ass. You kidnapped Sam und we saved her from your clutches."
"Saved her? I thought she just died?"
"No. Stalker and I did a quantum leap to save her. Reality split into two possibilities. In one, you succeeded in killing her. That's the reality you're seeing right now. In the other reality we were able to save her and get hold of you."
"Wow. That is ... unusual. So the Cult of Samantha is responsible for protecting Sam?"
"Yes. She is our Goddess of the Sunshine-Smiles. The term ‚Goddess' is only meant in a transferred sense of course. We do not really believe her to have godlike powers."
"Sunshine-Smiles?" Joe asked in an aggrieved tone.
"Yes. You think it's not fitting?"
"Well, no, it is quite fitting! Her smile has something ..."
Joe looked really embarrassed: "Well, in some ways ... yes. But two grown men talking about things like this out in the open, don't you think it's a bit ... strange?"
"Possibly. But you do love her, right?"
"Yes." Joe answered without hesitation. "It's just that I'm not used to talking openly about things like this. But if you need to know: I fell in love the first moment I saw her."
"I know. It's the same with every member of the Cult. You could call it a prerequisite for becoming a member."
"And you are the High Priest of this pack of lunatics?"
"That's right. I founded the Cult."
Scene 3: The outer truth
We are in a room full of enthusiastic voices. A young man and a young woman are hugging each other, being photographed. On a wall in the background the SGC logo can be seen. Finally the man and the woman part - almost reluctantly one might think.
"Thank you." the woman says with a smile.
"No, I thank you." the man replies, and while he is heading for the exit, the woman is being photographed with other people.
"And where are we now?" Joe looked more and more confused.
"London, November 2000. A Fan Convention of a television series called ‚Stargate SG-1'."
"A television series?"
"You mean like Star Wars?"
"The man who got photographed over there, he looks very much like you!"
"Yes, indeed!" the High Priest said with a little smile. "We have a lot in common, one could say."
"And the woman looks very much like Major Carter."
"Her name is Amanda Tapping. She plays the character of Samantha Carter in the TV series."
Joe was massaging his temples: "What is this? Another parallel universe?"
"Yes." the High Priest nodded. "A reality where everything we believe to be real is nothing but a fictional TV show. The young man you just saw is my creator. He created me as a fictional character to enable me to interact with other fictional characters like you and Samantha."
"You mean we are not real? My job, my life, the Stargate project and even Samantha Carter are nothing but fiction?!"
The High Priest smiled and replied: "This is a question I cannot answer. It has to do with what you accept to be real. If you believe reality to be what you can touch, see, taste and smell, then reality is nothing else but electric signals interpreted by your brain."
"I don't believe this here to be real."
"Then the next scene will be a big surprise for you."
Scene 4: The inner truth
A man sits at a drawer and does a telephone call.
"Hallo Frank. You wanted me to call you back about this new role ..."
" ... Stargate? But I already played there ... yes, Joe ... so-and-so. But the character died. Well, he got missed. But ..."
"... yes, I already heard that saying. God bless Science Fiction! So Joe's back into business? And when is the date?"
"... If I'm interested? Of course I'm interested!"
"That's me!" Joe called out.
"No." the High Priest said. "That's Christopher Cousins, who plays your role in the TV series."
"What???" Joe was almost losing his balance. "That ... that can't be real!"
"What can't be real? Reality?"
"But ... that's not the reality I know!"
"As I already mentioned, the Multiverse is composed of more than just one reality. But which reality will you give precedence? Your own? Or any other?"
"You tell me!" Joe demanded.
"The answer is simple. There is no true reality. It is always what you accept to be real. By taking you on this voyage I have given you the chance to look behind the curtain. To lift the veil."
"And what should I expect at the end of the voyage? Insanity?"
"What awaits you at the end of the voyage I cannot tell. Wisdom? Enlightenment? Or maybe just the beginning of a new journey."
"I can't get back, can I?"
"If you could, would you want to?"
Scene 5: The fight
Two enemy groups are opposing each other at a forest clearing. One group is heavily outnumbered by the other, composed of men and women in brown robes, armed with heavy axes, lead by blue skinned humans. The other group is mainly composed of women wearing ragged clothes, staring at their enemies with an eerie, zombie like look in their faces, lead by screaming iconoclasts who wave their malicious literature in the air. Both groups are shouting words of hate at each other.
Suddenly words are not enough and the battle erupts. The zombies are tottering towards the axe warriors, who hold their weapons at the ready and start to recite a hymn of praise for the Goddess of the Sunshine-Smiles. Soon the battle lines have reached each other and a meat grinding blood bath takes place that would make even hardened Lord of the Rings veterans look away in horror.
"What the hell is going on here?!?!?!" Joe asked in astonishment.
"The Cult has friends and enemies. One of our allies are the Tok'tok'ra, whilst our enemies are mainly the NoRomos, the JD and the Minions of the She-Beast. In the battle we are just witnessing the fight goes against the Minions."
"Jedi? Why are the Jedi your enemies?"
"JD! That's an abbreviation for Jack-Danielites. The She-Beast is a JD, and her Minions are normal humans who have been poisoned by her doctrine and now have to lead a miserable live as will-less zombies."
"And the NoRomos?"
"They are the ‚No-Romance' group, who want to prevent people like Samantha Carter from developing a love life at any cost."
"There are people like that?" Joe was horrified. "That's terrible!"
"Well ...", here the High Priest showed some uncertainty for the first time, "we're not sure if NoRomos do exist at all. I believed for a very long time that the NoRomos were nothing more than a cover organisation of the JD. And that has proven to be true for the most parts. But it is not enough to account for all NoRomo sightings."
"Why should the JD disguise themselves as NoRomos?"
"Because they are slashers."
Scene 6: Strange moods
The light of the early morning is already working its way through the shutters when the two sweaty bodies finally part and lie beside each other for some moments of heavy breathing. Jack is staring up at the ceiling of his bedroom and trying to understand what happened in the night. It is difficult to explain with words - and he isn't good with words anyway...
The small, sweat-covered body beside him turns around and big glittering eyes look at him.
"How was I, Jack?" Daniel asks.
"Ugh!" Joes face twisted with abhorrence. "I don't hold anything against homosexuality, but this here contradicts everything I ever thought I knew about Colonel O'Neill and Daniel Jackson."
"It also denies the true personas of these two people. And this denial is exactly what the slashers love so much about it. They aren't on a crusade to achieve equal rights for homosexual relationships. Instead they are delighted by putting heterosexual people in bed with each other."
"I don't know, but that's not so important. Fact is that the JD are slashers who are mostly interested in the Jack/Daniel relationship. And that makes them natural enemies of the Samantha Cult."
"Because we read our Goddess' wishes from her very eyes. And that's not as difficult as it may sound, because her wishes can actually be seen in her eyes."
Scene 7: Triumph
A lone island flies into view. On it we see Samantha Carter and Jack O'Neill. While Sam is working desperately on the Stargate, Jack lies in a hammock and writes down some notes.
"What are you doing, Sir?"
"I take some notes on what we need for our stay. We may not be able to get away from here but we can still receive some stuff. You know: Civilian clothing, fishing equipment, a stereo, a grill. And BBQ sauce! Yeah, that's the most important thing."
Sam placed her arms akimbo: "That's so typical!"
"What?" Jack attempted an expression of innocence. "You think I want to spend the next three months stranded in this dreamlike landscape as a military operation?"
"Why not?" Sam stepped very close to her Colonel and looked straight into his face, glaring. "You could help me getting the Stargate repaired, for example!"
"I thought it would take it about a hundred days to reload anyway?"
"Yes, but I might be able to shorten the reload time!"
"And what would we gain by that?"
"It's obvious, Sir! The sooner the Stargate is reloaded, the sooner we get away from here!"
Jack took Sam by her shoulders and shook her: "Sam!"
For a moment they both hesitated and the air started to vibrate... And then the moment was over again.
"Sam..." Jack sighed, "Why don't you relax for a while and just accept our stay here? Is it so unbearable to think of spending a few months with me on a lonely island?"
"No", Sam answered in a low voice. "But the world needs us..."
"The world will go on without us for a few months! We have a hundred days. You know what that means? It's like a sign of god. We should enjoy it. I ... what I mean is..." But what Jack wanted to say next wouldn't come so easily from his lips.
"Jack", Sam tried to step back from him, but failed because of her own stubbornness. "It's not good when we ... You know what we decided back then ... I don't want the old wounds to break open again..."
"All right." Jack bowed his head in resignation. The old wounds were already broken open again. And they did it so fast that they broke right through his well-guarded defences as well. "It's just so ... so ... unfair. All I want is for us to be happy."
Sam grabbed his chin and lifted it until their eyes were on the same level. "I know, Jack. I know that very well."
The kiss seems to last a hundred days alone...
Joe sat down by the beach and watched Sam and Jack with a mixture of joy, jealousy and despondency. "I didn't know."
The High Priest sat down beside him: "But you suspected it."
"Of course I did! I'm an ambassador. You don't get that kind of job without a slight ability to judge human nature."
The High Priest patted Joe on the shoulder sympathetically: "Don't worry about it. I felt the same thing when I found out. People like us must find their joy in allowing the person we love most to get the lover of her dreams, even though it's not us."
"And what if I don't accept it like this?" Joe wanted to know.
"You remember the version of you being dragged into a reactor?"
The High Priest said nothing and restricted himself to a meaningful gesture.
"So that's the aim of the Cult of Samantha." Joe realized. "To get Sam and Jack together and fight everyone who tries to prevent the... whatever they call themselves - Jedi or slashers or NoRomos or slashers in disguise or whatever."
"Yes. Although I have to tell you that our concept of the enemy has changed lately. After Daniel Jackson's death the JD have become quite scarce..."
"Daniel Jackson is dead?"
"Well... No. He stepped onto a higher plain of existence... which is quite the same thing as getting killed for most people."
"So the JD met their end." Joe summarized. "Who do we have to fear now?"
The High Priest gave a sigh. "That's the problem! After most slashers have left the field I thought the number of NoRomos would sink accordingly, but this seems not to be the case. It almost looks like the NoRomos are something like the dark matter of the fandom. Nobody can see them but their power is enormous. I suspect the Air Force to be part of the problem, but even they cannot completely explain the phenomenon."
"So we're fighting an enemy that we can't see right now?"
"That's right." a dangerous glimmer was dancing in the High Priests eyes, "But if the task was an easy one, they would have given it to some sissies and not to the Cult of Samantha!"
Joe nodded thoughtfully: "And were will this battle lead us?"
Scene 8: The end?
Minnesota in the future. Blue sky. Bright sunshine. From the top of the hill Sam can see the blue lake shimmering in the clear air, whilst the green woods fly by beside her. She stops exerting herself and allows her bicycle to free-wheel down the hill. The warm wind is blowing through her loose clothing and gives her a feeling of freedom she has never felt before. She has everything she ever wished for and the man of her dreams, who she has spend a wonderful night with, is waiting for her down there in a small cabin at the lakeside.
Slowly she takes her hands from the handlebars and stretches her arms to both sides, closing her eyes and sitting upright in her saddle. The illusion of flight is so perfect that she feels like she could take off at any moment.
Suddenly she hears an ear-splitting splinter, followed by the loud scream of brakes and an even louder crash. Shocked, her hands slip back to the handlebars and she puts her own brakes on fully. Slowing down she passes by the scene of the accident: a well hidden forest path, and on it a fully laden wood truck which seems to have been about to drive onto the street - if not for the tree which has fallen right into its way stopping it in an instant.
While Sam turns around and pedals her way up again, a shudder cold as ice is running down her spine. If the truck would not have been stopped by the tree, she would have been run over, no doubt about it...
Arriving there she sees that the driver wasn't harmed. He has left the truck and attends to a person lying by the fallen tree. The person is a young man, still grasping the axe that served him in taking down the tree. Wooden splinters cover his clothing and a big piece of wood has pierced right through his body. Blood is everywhere.
"Splinter breakage." the truck driver says with a tremble in his voice. "Can happen with bigger trees like that one. Poor lad didn't know how to get out of the way fast enough."
Sam is leaning over the dying man: "Hold on there, I get help!"
"No!" the man has grabbed her hand and holds it fast. He is smiling, even though his pain must be enormous: "Don't mourn for me. Everything's all right. I wanted it this way."
"But why?" Sam asks with tears in her eyes.
She never receives an answer to that question. The man is dead.
"That's....", Joe said, unable to find a fitting adjective.
"That's my favourite ending." the High Priest said. "What do you think?"
"It's eerie. I don't understand it. Why did you have to die?"
"There are scenes in life that are so full of drama that they lust for our blood. One life for another."
"But you are still alive!"
"Right. In quantum leaping not only time becomes unimportant, but also the link of cause and effect. Things don't happen because they are caused by something. Instead they just HAPPEN."
"I'd be lying if I said I understood that."
"I know that this is not easy to understand." the High Priest answered. "I already told you what the Cult of Samantha is and what we are fighting for."
"Yes. And I fully understand that."
"Well. But there is an even deeper truth that makes everything I told you so far completely irrelevant."
"And what truth is that?""
"The multiverse is infinite."
The High Priest shook his head. "No, no, you don't get me right! I mean INFINITE. You have an idea about how big a number that is?"
"Unbelievably big! You cannot compare it with any other number you might imagine. Even more, it cannot be compared with any number at all! By telling you that the multiverse is infinite I mean that in the multiverse EVERY possible scene does exist."
"That would mean every kind of reality is of equal truth?"
The High Priest nodded. "Exactly."
"But in that case there is no need to fight for anything! Because every possibility does exist anyway! There would be as many realities where Sam is happily together with her Jack than realities where this is not the case!"
"Yes. Now you understand it!"
"But what does the Cult of Samantha exist for then?"
"That's easy. Because the path is the destination! It's wrong to say ‚Every reality exists anyway, so we can lie back and do nothing', because somebody has to exist in all these realities to MAKE them HAPPEN. And that is the Cult of Samantha! Wherever there is love for Samantha Carter there is also the Cult of Samantha. That makes this love happen!"
"Which makes her a very special person indeed."
"Indeed! But just for us. With the multiverse being infinite there is a cult for every person of course! Even a Cult of Joe. And a Cult of the High Priest."
Joe laughed: "Well, I would like to meet that Cult of Joe some day!"
"Maybe you will... but it's highly unlikely, because these cults are secret and the person they are most secret from is the person they care for."
"What a pity." Joe turned around. They were still standing on the forest path in Minnesota. In the meantime Jack had arrived and was taking care of the crying Sam. Joe gave a deep sigh: "Love and pain are close relatives."
"Yes." The High Priest smiled dreamily. "Here our voyage ends. And as I said it's just the beginning of a new and bigger voyage in the service of the Cult."
"There's still one question..." Joe said.
"Just ask me."
"If what you just told me is the truth, then what about the laws of physics that the scientists are researching? Does any of this make sense?"
"No. What I told you is the basic truth enshrouding all existence. But the final mysteries haven't been solved by that."
"Which will be quite difficult to achieve in a multiverse of infinite proportions."
The High Priest nodded. "Yes, but there are people like Samantha who devoted their life to the research of these mysteries. And if there's any human being able to perform some amazing breakthroughs in this field, it's her. Don't you think?"
But Joe felt that there was something else the High Priest didn't want to speak out aloud, so he asked: "And what do you think is the most important truth at the heart of all things?"
The High Priest smiled, and for a moment it looked like a sun was rising in his face.
--- The End ---