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S is for Synthetic

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At least some things never change, Jack thinks as SG-1 are thrown into the village jail on the first planet they visit after the team all agrees they’re not going to be good little copies and bury the gate on Altair. No one was enthused about spending 11,000 years in a decaying underground factory, comtrya constantly echoing in their ears, when the whole universe was at their fingertips. Everywhere, of course, except home.

“Well,” Daniel says, making himself comfortable on a stack of hay bales in the corner, “this is familiar.”

“Indeed,” Teal’c agrees. It’s odd to see him without his staff weapon in his hands on a mission. Odd to see the whole team outfitted in the black scrubs Harlan gave them instead of olive green with patches at their shoulders.

Still, there are some advantages to being… well, what they are. Jack doesn’t like to say it. Android sounds so cold. Inhuman. Anyway, advantages. Skin fixes dermatologists only dream of. Hunger a thing of the past. No pressing need to get up to the bathroom in the middle of the night. And sleep-mode itself only takes three hours a week with the more efficient battery process Carter built. Plus, Jack convinced Harlan to update the charge planks during the refit so they weren’t so ominously coffin shaped.

Sure, they’ve all gone through the stages of grief and have periodic existential crises, but organic Jack never could have wrapped his hands around the rusting bars of their rustic prison getaway and— Creak!

Carter smiles at the warped bars and broken lock. “Nice work, sir. I’d really like to do some tests to see how much torque we’re capable of exerting.”

“Maybe later, Carter,” Jack says, herding his team out of the cell.



When the team emerges from the Stargate into a field of purple flowers, Jack reaches automatically for the travel-sized pack of Kleenex he always keeps on hand for Daniel.

It isn’t there. He keeps forgetting he doesn’t have his BDUs.

It doesn’t look like Daniel’s going to need the tissues anyhow. He’s taking huge, deep breaths and leaning down to run his fingers along the soft, vibrant petals. Jack’s going to mark down ‘no allergies’ in the win column.

The whole mission ends up in the win column. The Jylleans are a peaceful, welcoming society that Daniel thinks have cultural similarities to the Dutch on Earth and when SG-1 helps rid them of a Jaffa outpost—finally trading in the improvised club weapons that Carter fashioned out of extra piping for confiscated zats in the process—it’s the beginning of what promises to be a beautiful friendship.



On Keth, it rains. Acid rain. The drops leave tiny burns on the synth-skin of their exposed hands and faces. Jack wonders sometimes why being ‘better’ didn’t come with fewer pain receptors.

“Pack it up, campers!” he calls.

There isn’t much to pack. They don’t have access to the same gear they had on Earth, and they don’t need half of it anymore anyway. No need for MREs and cooking pots when you don’t eat, for canteens and iodine tablets when you don’t drink, for tents and sleeping bags when you don’t sleep. They have their stolen zats and, most importantly, a gigantic bag full of batteries.

“All done, sir,” Carter says, gathering up her soil samples for analysis.

Jack looks at the burn marks on his palms, at the blackened cityscape in the distance and the craters where there used to be bridges and roads and homes. He doesn’t think they’ll be coming back.



They make a run on the Alpha Site, pretending to be the organic SG-1.

Jack feels a little bad about it, but he’s not spending the next hundred years without so much as a deck of cards and a copy of Moby Dick. He misses his BDUs and his P-90 too. Carter needs some kind of spectrometer that isn’t in Harlan’s inventory. Daniel wants field journals and pens. Teal’c already negotiated with the Jylleans for candles and blankets, but he probably wouldn’t say no to a Ka-Bar.

Jack thinks their organic counterparts could have spared them the thought to send a few comforts from home through the Stargate before cutting them off to live forever in a broken down underground factory and trying to forget their doubles existed.

They pack a duffel full of weapons and ammo and another with uniforms and books. Jack steals a copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn from beside someone’s bunk.

When they dial back to Altair, one of the Marines frowns at the DHD. “Sir,” he says. “That isn’t— That’s not Earth, is it?”

“No,” Jack says, and steps through the wormhole.



Tens of thousands of planets to choose from, but still they end up in the organic SG-1’s wake. And do they get to reap the benefits of a successful mission and diplomatic treaty? Of course not. It’s all yelling and recriminations and crossbows pointed at their chests.

Jack can tell from the sensor on his wrist that he’s at 98% power, but he feels so tired.

It’s one more Goa’uld. One more prison. One more death for Daniel, and Jack thinks this one might stick. The organic SG-1 rides in to save the day, but for Jack’s team it’s cascade failure. Daniel, then Teal’c, then Carter. Jack feels the way he always thought he should have in this caricature of a body; lifeless, automatic, one flipped switch away from shut down.

“The real ones are okay,” organic Jack tells him, as if Jack’s team wasn’t real just because they had wires in place of veins. Jack’s bleeding out on the floor here and it doesn’t count because it’s not red.

“Are we still so far from real to you?” he asks, his voice breaking in a way that makes it go synthesized, his words capped with a faint electronic buzz.

“No,” organic Jack says, quietly, “I guess not,” and Jack lets his gears stop turning, takes the peace of connection lost.