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Descent Into Hell
"...Help, I need somebody,
Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone, help..."
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Performed by The Beatles
He opened his eyes. Well, he awakened. Of that much he was aware. Must have passed out or something. For some reason, everything around him was still dark. In a flash of pain and panic and terror, memories of the ceremony - The Taking - moved through his mind. He tried to move, found that his body no longer obeyed his commands. He could sense the ‘presence’; cold, arrogant...malevolent. He was no longer ‘alone’ in his own mind. It was in that moment that what had happened truly impacted upon him. He was no longer in control...a Goa’uld symbiote had taken over his body. He wanted to scream in horror...from sheer unadulterated rage; but could make no audible sound.
The pain had been excruciating. His heart broke at the thought that because he’d failed to protect her, Sha’re had endured the same thing. She’d dealt with that pain, and had awakened as he just had, with a Goa’uld in control of her body. He ached over what his first wife had endured. Marveled at how strong she had to have been, to have fought Amaunet for as long as she had...preventing the Goa’uld from having enough strength to kill him with that ribbon device...holding Amaunet in check long enough to beg him to protect her child...long enough for Teal’c to arrive and kill her...kill Sha’re. To destroy the Goa’uld that controlled her.
He realized now that he’d been aware of the ‘presence’ in his mind, just before he’d lost consciousness. Odd that it seemed so far away. The human mind, Daniel thought, was an amazing thing. He’d always thought of his as a library of sorts...where he stored everything he’d ever learned in beautifully bound books and carefully wound scrolls. Access was, he supposed, like an old fashioned card catalogue, although much faster. Not even the fastest computers could keep up with the human brain.
Everything he knew about the Goa’uld had indicated that the host remained conscious, aware; a terrified prisoner in a body that no longer responded to his, or her, commands. Yet...this was so different than what he’d imagined. He was still...Daniel. Still...here For some reason, those two facts surprised him, in spite of what he had known about the Goa’uld and their human hosts. The errant question of why the Goa’uld left their host alive bounced through his mind. There had to be a reason the symbiote didn't simply kill the host as soon as it entered the body. He frowned...or at least the mental image of himself did. The Goa’uld never took a dead body...the host had to be alive. The symbiote, then, was obviously unable to reanimate a body. But still...if the body was alive when it was taken, why not kill the host, or at least the consciousness of the host? Was ‘he’ needed, in order to keep the body...alive? Was the symbiote able to strengthen the body, protect it, heal it...but unable to control vital, basic functions? Was the essence of a person, the soul if you pleased, necessary to the function of the human body?
Taking the thought a step further, was that which made up the...personality...that inhabited the body, the soul, according to most...able to ‘separate’ from the body, particularly the brain, at will? If he separated himself from his mind and his body, would he cease to exist? Would his body cease to function? Was it possible to leave just his body...would that cause the death of the symbiote? Could his spirit leave his body, could he escape, even if for just short periods of time? The image of a certain red-headed ‘ghost’ flittered through his memory. Yep, separating spirit from body seemed to be possible, much easier for some than most.
That he was able to remember made him frown. If memories were nothing more that chemical combinations and electrical impulses, and the symbiote was controlling the physical aspect of the brain, how was he able to access memories?
Was it possible that the imprint of memories wasn’t just physical, a chemical and electrical process in the brain, but an imprint on the very soul as well? Maybe that’s all death was, just leaving the ‘shell’ and moving on to another plane of existence. He supposed he’d always believed that on some level or another. But...if he was separated from cognitive brain function, how would he survive? Was what he had sensed of Sha’re, and the few hosts he’d ‘met’, when the Goa’uld symbiotes had been destroyed...were they only echoes...imprints of the person who had once been in total control of a body stolen from them? No...that didn’t seem right. Didn’t ‘feel’ right. Sha’re had been more than just a shadow. She’d been there, every bit the woman he’d fallen in love with and married. Sarah was certainly very much ‘alive’ when Osiris had been removed from her...and her mental instabilities just as acute, her psyche even more damaged after having the Goa’uld in control of her mind and body for three years. Obviously, as he was able to sit and consider the subject, he was most certainly ‘alive’. Just not in physical control of his body. Everything that made him Doctor Daniel Jackson was intact. Hmm...could this be compared to being in a coma?
Nice metaphysical contemplation, Danny. And you don’t have time for it now! Hide everything!
Just how the hell he was going to accomplish that feat, he had no idea. Desperation, he'd heard, was the mother of invention. Or, in this case, desperation would drive him to do whatever he could, in whatever manner he could; he’d worry about the how’s and the why’s later. He sat for a moment or two, trying to determine how best to proceed. Felt the symbiote begin to stir.
Driven by the need to protect his friends, the SGC...but most of all, Casey...Daniel frantically searched out every ‘secret’ he could locate. He could ‘see’ a strong box. Quickly shoved memories of his Wife, access codes, routines of the SGC, everything he could lay his hands on...metaphorically speaking...into that box. Lock...he needed some sort of a lock...A padlock appeared in his hand...or the mental image of his hand. He closed the box, pushed the brass tab over the equally shiny loop. Threaded the padlock through it, and shoved the pin home. The only way to open that lock was Casey’s kiss. A weird thought, he decided, but certainly the only way to prevent the Goa’uld now inhabiting his body from finding the information he was certain the snake would want.
It wasn’t easy to see, the images were blurry, but it seemed that he had...well, wasn’t that interesting? He was actually looking at the memories of the Goa’uld. It seemed that this particular snake was Ba’al’s prisoner, rather than a lackey. That, Daniel thought, could work to his advantage!
If this snake was a captive, it meant that Ba’al was after information. Moving cautiously, feeling the presence in his mind growing stronger, he began to sort through the memories that were not his own. Faces of people he’d never known...places he’d never seen; others that seemed familiar in a strange way, all flashed and flickered. Names seemed to bounce around, whispered in a voice he didn’t recognize. One louder than the others...Nergal? This snake worked for Nergal?
Okay, Nergal was a Mesopotamian god. God of war in Sumer, before the Babylonians had come to power, if he was remembering correctly. And was now the snake responsible for keeping Zeus in check. If he could find enough, remember it, when he made it home he could-
‘Cease at once!’
It took a moment for Daniel to realize that the voice echoing inside his head wasn’t exactly his own. And whatever he’d done, the Goa’uld was aware of it. Deciding that for the moment, discretion was the best choice, he slipped back into that place where he’d awakened. Heard a sound, tried desperately to identify it. A voice! The voice sounded...distant...as if he was listening through a wall. No, nothing that ‘thick’. Cardboard maybe. Or a heavy blanket...He concentrated...
"Daniel! Daniel, I love you! I’ll always love you!"
That was Casey! It wasn’t easy, considering he didn’t have control over his own body, but he did his best to turn his head in the direction that sweet voice...so full of panic...was coming from.
Apparently the snake was just as interested. Because now he could see her...tears streaming down her pale cheeks, heart-wrenching anguish filling her beautiful green eyes. He nearly gave away his hiding place when he realized that Ba’al was holding her arm, dragging her away...just as the bastard had been when he’d been separated from his Wife...only an hour or so ago.
"He cannot hear you,"the snake said, his voice taunting.
Weird. It was his voice...but it wasn’t. I can hear her just fine, asshole.
The words caused a sob of agony to escape from her lips. "I love you, Daniel!"
I’m right here, Angel! I love you, Casey, I’ll always love you!
"You belong to me,"Ba’al said, his voice as cold and hard as his eyes.
Casey struggled. "Never! You may have killed my Husband, but you’ll never have me!" Her voice was so full of anger...so full of hate...that it was tangible.
Don’t piss him off, Angel! I’ll get out of this, I swear I will! I’ll come for you, I promise!
The old man...the priest...approached him, a robe in his hands. He could feel the difference; could sense that his body was no longer exposed, and cold. Realized that he was no longer naked. It was a most disconcerting feeling when his body began to move, following the priest out of the hangar bay. Daniel desperately wanted to turn around, to see if Jack and Sam and Teal’c were still with the other slaves...
The creature known as Rihat...Goa’uld symbiote in all its glory...stretched cautiously. The memory of pain...being ripped from his host so cruelly - the human screaming in agony, groveling on the floor - while he was shoved into the canopic jar...he shuddered slightly. He'd taken a chance in betraying Ba’al. And had paid dearly for it. He had no doubt that the only reason that he was now in a new host was because Ba’al wanted something from him. When the thought of denying the System Lord whatever it might be crossed his mind, he gave an involuntary shiver. Better to cooperate as to risk death, or the canopic jar, which was certainly as bad!
A frown crossed the handsome features of the host’s face. Although he was still ‘waking up’ from his time in enforced dormancy, there was something about this body...
Crossing the room which he'd been given, he threw open the door to the adjoining bathroom, and stared at himself in the mirror. Sandy-blond hair. Piercing blue eyes. Front tooth had been chipped at some point in the human’s life. He dropped the robe. Couldn’t help but smile as he cupped the generous girth and length of the manhood that hung between muscular legs.
Intrigued by the colorful marks, Rihat ran his fingers over the tattoo that adorned the left pectoral muscle of the broad chest. Wondered what the symbols stood for...and the reason for the wings. Small white wings. Pigeon maybe. Or perhaps a dove? How...disappointing. He would much rather have wings of a magnificent bird, such as a hawk or an eagle...one worthy to adorn the skin of a Goa’uld. The other marks were...interesting. But, unimportant, he supposed.
Daniel snorted silently. Think you’re that great, huh, asshole? Those wings just happen to match the wings of my- He cut the thought off. Wasn’t willing to risk the chance that this Goa’uld...Rihat...could or would ‘hear’ what he was thinking.
Once again Rihat shifted slightly within the host body. The host’s body temperature was normal, yet there seemed to be...heat...warmth of some sort...that he didn’t recognize, and couldn’t identify. Before he'd been imprisoned he had learned, clandestinely of course, that Ba’al was working to perfect the cloning process. Had this body been created in a laboratory? Was that the reason for the differences of which he was becoming more acutely aware?
Perhaps the marks on his chest had more significance than he realized? Were the marks intended to expose him as nothing more than a laboratory experiment? The frown deepened. The face of a slender blonde woman, her pale cheeks stained with her tears, her green eyes filled with anger and terror, flashed through his mind. There was a connection between her and this host. Such a relationship could not exist if the host had been created by Ba’al’s hand. Rihat poked absently...since he had stopped the host from searching through his memories, there had been no movement...no sound. It wasn’t unusual for a host to be silent in terror for days...even weeks. He had hoped that the man would have been stronger...he’d always found taunting his new hosts to be quite entertaining. Perhaps he should see what was hidden in the mind of this host...
Daniel held his breath...well, sort of. He watched carefully as the Goa’uld sifted through memories...mostly of his childhood, his years in college and at the Oriental Institute. Classes and studies and digs...time spent in work rooms, reconstructing artifacts...
It was difficult to keep from laughing at the growing frustration that was filtering through to him. Daniel still had no idea how he’d managed to hide so much of the information he knew the Goa’uld was seeking. He was just thankful he’d been able to do so.
There was no way he wanted this snake to ‘see’ what had transpired between him and Casey, to sully the beautiful memories of their love making. Carefully, already becoming adept at moving through his own mind and leaving no ‘trace’, Daniel gathered those precious moments...emotions, sensations, images, smells, tastes...and hid them away...in another ‘strong box’ that he labeled ‘personal’. This box remained unlocked, but safe in the place where he was hiding
Rihat felt the stirring...but by the time he had located the place where he had sensed the movement, there was nothing...just dark emptiness. Never before had a host been able to hide anything from him...never before had he struggled so to gain total control over the mind and body of a host.
Moving as carefully as the host had been doing, the Goa’uld found a tidbit of knowledge...blurry images of... Before he could focus on the memories, they faded to gray haze. He was certain that what he’d been able to see, even so briefly, had been of a ceremony. And the sense that it had been of significance. What he wasn’t certain of, had no idea how it could be happening, was his inability to ‘focus’ on the memory. It was as if the images were being carefully erased.
Determined to discover all the secrets this host held, Rihat began to search...confused by the memories he was able to see. It was immediately obvious that the most recent memories were...missing. He grabbed at another image, before it could disappear as well. Examined it carefully. The face of a man with silver hair and brown eyes was frowning. Asking a question - asking about ‘the one’...what it meant...
The thought caused the Goa’uld to pause. He searched his own memories, looking for anything he might be able to recall. There had been myths about a champion of humans, chosen by Beings on higher levels of existence. He’d heard them during his time as a member of Nergal’s court. Nergal was certain that there was ample reason to believe the myths, and was determined to find and destroy this mythical hero. Rihat had always considered the myths to be just that...stories told about a martyred human puppet, a slave used...controlled...by the Tok’ra to instigate the slave revolt. Still, if Nergal believed that there was more to the story than just myth...
According to the myths, if his memory served him well, The One would be endowed with great powers...although it seemed that any details of these ‘powers’ were speculative at best. Rihat doubted that any mere mortal could be as powerful as a Goa’uld, even with the blessings of any Higher Level Beings...if such entities actually existed.
The thought of power, however much or little it might be, was captivating - and held the Goa’uld’s attention. Gave him fodder for dreams of conquest...of becoming the Master, rather than being the Servant. What power he would wield, if he was joined with this mythical hero...The One! Rihat smiled at his reflection in the mirror. He might be nothing more than a prisoner on Ba’al’s ship now. But he would soon destroy that Goa’uld, and take all that belonged to him. And then...dreams and aspirations of dominance continued to stir, and Rihat sighed with pleasure as he watched them play out.
Yeah, you aren’t wielding anything asshole, not if I can help it, Daniel thought. Settled into the corner of his mind that Rihat seemed unable to access. He was unable to do anything...unable to see anything other than what the symbiote allowed. Unable to even have the comfort of his memories; the chance of the bastard finding something he could use against SG-1, or the SGC, or worse yet, something to torment Casey with, too great to risk. He was a Goa’uld host...he’d descended into the darkest hell imaginable. He sure as shit wasn’t planning to remain a prisoner in his own mind! He had to figure out how to get this damned snake out of his head...and his body!
A A A A A A
Casey sat on the chair, stared at the wall opposite of her; seeing nothing but the scene in the hangar bay as it played in a continuous loop in her mind. Seeing Daniel kneeling in front of that altar, naked and shivering, probably from fear as much as from being cold. Watching helplessly as the man she adored was attacked by that damned Goa’uld; unable to stop the excruciating pain he endured as the symbiote burrowed into the nape of his neck, his screams echoing in the huge chamber. Unable to stop his body and mind from being infested by the freaking parasite. Seeing the blue eyes that she loved so much glowing from within...
Tears of grief rolled unheeded down her cheeks, dripped unnoticed from her jaw. Was Daniel aware...was he being hurt in any way? Was the snake now infesting his body tormenting him? Would he be able to hang onto his sanity long enough for her to find a way to get them out of this mess?
Where had the warning for this been? She was his Guide, damn it! She should have known! A shudder moved over her, shaking her from head to foot, accompanied by a familiar flash of light. Images began to dance in front of her eyes... She watched with dispassion as she stood with the team, just before ringing to the ha’tak...could see the snake coiled around Daniel’s neck. She had received the warning...
There wasn’t even a hint of her normal curiosity as she watched a hand...a woman’s hand, clamp over her mouth just as she was about to scream out her fears, to tell Daniel that he was in danger. Nor was there the sense that something more significant was going on...something that had invoked the interference of a being from a higher level. In that moment of time, nothing could filter past the shock, nor move past her grief. Her thoughts moved in a whirl of dark despair...
I can’t live without him! I love him too much...I need him too much...I will not live without my Daniel!...I won’t live without him...I love him so much...how are we going to get out of this?...I can’t live without him...I refuse to live without Daniel...I can’t live without him...
Pleased at the ease with which his plans were falling into place, Ba’al swaggered into the room, ready to take his Consort into his bed. He had thought that when she'd finally ceased crying...wails of agony that had torn at his heart...that she'd finished grieving over what had happened to the man who had once been her husband. When the sobs had subsided, he had informed her that there were duties left for him to perform. Had promised that he would return as quickly as possible. He'd been confident that leaving her alone would give her time to come to terms with all that had happened in the space of a few short hours, and give her the opportunity to consider her new position at his side.
He stripped, walked past her into the bathroom. Frowned when there wasn’t the slightest flicker of acknowledgement in her green eyes. No coy looks...nor the blatant turning of her head to avoid seeing him or looking at him. No taunting comments, nor declaring that he would never touch her. Something was different from any other time she had lapsed into angry silences . The dull look in her eyes had him taking a step toward her. Pulling on a robe, he knelt down in front of her, grasped both of her hands in his. Noted that they were cold, and trembling. "Casey?"
Once before she had thought Daniel dead...he’s NOT dead...I have to find a way to get him to the Tok’ra - Jacob will get that thing out of him...The Tok’ra got Osiris out of Sarah...they’ll get that goddamned snake out of Daniel...Daniel is NOT dead...I just have to get him to the Tok’ra...Oh, goddess...Daniel! Her heartache was physical, left her shaking with grief. Not aware that Ba’al was speaking to her, or that he was gently rubbing her hands with his own, she unknowingly pulled from his grasp and pushed her hands against her ears; tried to stop the sound of Daniel’s screams of pain as that damned thing had forced its way into his body...
I’m so sorry! I couldn’t help you!...Daniel! I need you! I love you!...Daniel, I’m sorry!...I will not live without him! I won’t! I have to find a way to save him...he’s saved me so many times...have to save Daniel...I love you!...Daniel!
Ba’al began to feel the first pangs of fear, his concern growing deeper with each passing moment. He snapped his fingers in front of her face. She didn’t blink her beautiful green eyes. There was no response when he roughly shook her. Perhaps he shouldn’t have subjected her to the ceremony. It would have been better to have Rihat summoned to the throne room, where she could have seen that her husband no longer existed; that only the Goa’uld named Rihat remained in what had once been Daniel Jackson’s body.
"He will be stronger than I. He will destroy you!"
It had been months since the host had bothered to torment him. He didn’t trouble himself to respond. He simply pulled forward the memories, the images of torture, rape...murder.
"I have lived those moments of agony again and again. They no longer hold power over me."
His Consort was catatonic in her grief over the loss of her husband; his host becoming troublesome, in a way he’d never before experienced, nor expected. Ba’al dropped to his ass on the floor. Once again the feeling that everything around him was about to collapse...his carefully constructed plans and schemes were about to come crashing around him in dust and ash...washed over him. The last time he’d felt this way, it was the result of having SG-1 thwart his attempt to take and control the First World.
He pushed the feeling away. SG-1 no longer existed. He’d seen to that. Jackson was host to a Goa’uld who would serve him. The Jaffa shol’va would be executed within the hour. From the other two he would learn all that he could, and then he would see Major Carter as a host...her knowledge would be most useful to him. O’Neill...there was always a need for more slaves.
And Casey...at long last she was at his side, with no hope of escaping him. He would not suffer one of her temper tantrums. Not now, in his moment of triumph...not in this, their first night together. Rising to his feet, he grabbed her by the arms and yanked her to stand in front of him. "I know you can hear me,’ he growled. "You are my Consort. Accept your fate, Casey."
When she made no reply, her green eyes still staring, unseeing, at the far wall, he dragged her into the en suite. Ripped the gown from her body, and scooped her into his arms. The water in the large, marble tub, drawn for the bath he had intended to take earlier, was still warm. He dumped her headfirst into the water. And waited.
The unthinkable had happened. Daniel had been infested with a freaking snake. So many times Ba’al had threatened...and each time they’d managed to escape, Daniel had been spared. Now...her precious, beloved husband, host to a Goa’uld...
No! No! No! It can’t be true! It can’t be!
Pain. Incredible, unending pain pressed in on her from all sides, felt as if it were crushing her heart and soul. Her heart was breaking...shattering into a million pieces.
Hurts...oh goddess it hurts! Can’t live without him...I can’t live without him...Water...there’s water everywhere...Daniel is a host...he has one of those damned things in his head...is he dead...is everything that made him the incredible man he was - gone? Not, he’s not dead, he’s not dead, he’s NOT DEAD!... Daniel! I love you!...Where did the water come from?...Daniel!...Why can’t I breathe?... SG-1 magic...we’ll get through this...find the rabbit...Daniel taken as a host...Get him to the Tok’ra, I just have to get him to the Tok’ra...there’s so much water...
She began to struggle, trying to determine which direction was up...trying to find a way out of the water...
Daniel, I love you...I swear I’ll get you to the Tok’ra...need to breathe!
Alarmed by the lack of reaction, Ba’al reached for the slender body just as she began to thrash about. Pulled her head clear of the churning water, held her against his chest as she gasped for breath.
Green eyes locked on his face. Before he could register the fact that she had moved, her hand came into contact with his cheek, the sound as loud as the blow was painful.
"Let go of me,"Casey hissed.
"You are my-"
"I’m not ‘your’ anything...except your enemy!"Casey retorted hotly. Angrily pushed the wet tendrils of her hair away from her face. "The Tok’ra know how to deal with symbiotes...they’ll have that snake out of Daniel before the damned thing has time to get comfortable!"
Ba’al smirked at her anger. "First, my Beloved, you would have to free yourself, and him."
"We’ve done it before. We’ll do it again," she vowed.
"I think not."
"I’ll see you dead, you snake bastard,"she spat, jerking free of his hold.
Ba’al’s smile held no mirth. "When the day is over, you will see that SG-1 is no more. Jackson is host to a Goa’uld loyal to me." Or he will be now, because I deigned to free him from his prison, Ba’al thought smugly. "The others will be dealt with soon enough."
For a moment, blind panic rushed over her...through her. In one blink of emerald green eyes, every emotion rushing through her body had been shoved to the farthest reaches of her mind. All but one...her burning hatred for Ba’al...for all Goa’uld. She fanned the flames, embraced the raging fire of that hatred. "Don’t make any bets on that, snakeface," she retorted.
He’d never seen her eyes so full of fury. Nor had he seen her so...cold. Ba’al frowned slightly. No doubt the next few days would be trying, until Casey accepted the reality of her position. He would, he decided, be gentle with her. He would court her...win her love. He'd nearly succeeded before. This time, he would not be denied. He'd crushed any hope of escape that she might have harbored...destroyed the only reason she would seek to leave him. No, there was nothing left for her among the Tau’ri. She would accept her place at his side. She would love him!
A A A A A A
Jack, Sam, and Teal’c sat silently in the holding cell. Sam had stopped crying; now she stared at the wall as the shock of what she had witnessed settled into her mind. Jack’s eyes were closed, revisiting that horrible event over and over again...desperate to find a hint in what had happened, something that would give him a clue as to what he should do...a way to undo all that had transpired in that hangar bay.
Teal’c’s eyes were closed as well, as he mourned the loss of two of his dearest friends. He was well aware that there were means of removing a symbiote from a host without damaging the human body. The key was getting that host freed before too much time had passed, and the Goa’uld had been able to drive the host mad with grief and anger. To free Daniel before Casey’s grief rendered her incapable of returning from the hell her mind would no doubt send her to.
Sam shivered violently. Raised grief-filled eyes. "We have to get him...the Tok’ra-"
"As soon as we’re out of here," Jack promised, his voice raspy. His throat was sore from his battle to contain the sobs that threatened to escape..
Teal’c rose slowly to his feet. "We must escape, if we are to save Daniel Jackson and Casey Jackson."
"There’s only one way I can think of to do that," Sam sighed, climbing to her feet as well.
Jack frowned. Slowly pulled himself up. "If we bring that force-field down, won’t there be alarms?"
"Probably," Sam admitted.
"If we are able to hide quickly enough, we might avoid detection for a time, long enough for Major Carter to recover from the effects of the energy field," Teal’c proposed.
"Any ideas on where we can do that hiding?" Jack asked.
"There should be maintenance shafts nearby," Teal’c replied.
Jack sighed. "Hiding there worked well enough when Danny and I were on Kookoo’s ship." And just why the hell didn’t we do this before that snaky son-of-a-bitch turned Daniel into a host?
"Let’s do it. The sooner we can get Daniel and Casey out of here, the sooner they’ll both be back to normal," Sam said determinedly. She knew as well as her teammates that what the slender blonde had witnessed had no doubt sent Casey into a mental and emotional tailspin.
"She’s still getting over his last ‘death’," Jack muttered.
Sam rose to her feet. "Ready?"
Jack nodded. Then reached out, pulled her close. Held her tightly. "I love you."
Sam’s sapphire blue eyes went wide. He rarely spoke the words, even when they were alone in bed together. "I love you, too," she whispered. Accepted his kiss, felt his panic and his concern; wasn’t sure just whom he was the most worried about.
A A A A A A
Dark eyes watched the three prisoners from the shadows. They had sat there, the woman weeping, the two men doing their best not to cry out loud. For awhile, they were silent, the grief they felt etched upon their faces. Then they began to speak to one another. She wished she could understand their words. Now they were rising to their feet... Moving closer to the crackling, shimmering force-field that kept them imprisoned in the cell.
Everything she'd heard in her Master’s quarters echoed in her ears. Seeing the two slender blondes together, understanding for the first time that the differences she had perceived weren’t just oddities, but the result of the fact that the woman Ba’al had declared his Consort, had taken to his bed, was different. The cold, heartless order to take the...the ‘new’...Casey below and have ‘it’ destroyed, as if the woman suddenly ceased to be important...had ceased to be a person. Shivers moved over the petite frame of the lo’taur.
The people in the holding cell were important to Casey. In her heart, Gemeti was certain that they could help...that they could reverse the frightening...horrid...thing that had happened to Dan’yel...the man Casey loved so deeply.
Not stopping to think about what she was doing, the lo’taur raced from her hiding place, and disabled the energy field that held the three prisoners in the cell. Then just as quickly she dashed down the corridor, and into one of the closets she often used for hiding.
Another pair of dark eyes widened in surprise. And determined that the young slave would not be left behind. For now, the Tau’ri would have to find a way to hide themselves. There was much to be done, if Ba’al was to be defeated.
A A A A A A
Jack stared slack-jawed as the force-field flickered, and then dropped. He was certain he’d caught sight of a slight figure, dark hair flying out behind her as she ran away.
"Someone’s helping us," Sam murmured.
"Yeah, we’ll send a fruit basket later," Jack said, shaking himself from his stupor. "Let’s go. Teal’c, find us a good hiding place."
Sticking his head cautiously out of the holding cell, Teal’c looked up and down the corridor. It was suspiciously empty, but he had no time to wonder why, nor worry about what the possible ramifications might be. "This way."
The three slipped down the passageway, and disappeared into an access tunnel...just moments before a group of Jaffa marched to the holding cell. The warriors’ orders were precise, and to be carried out immediately.
A A A A A A
The clone paced the small room, arms around her slender waist, tugging her lower lip between her teeth. She was still trying to deal with the emotions that churned within her...love, hate, anger, confusion...fear. Ba’al had informed her, during one of their evening meals, that he had seen to it that the Jaffa who served him were completely loyal. At the time, she’d had no idea what he’d meant, and so accepted what he said with little thought.
Now, the whispers she'd overheard began to make sense. There were those among the Jaffa who weren’t as loyal as they were pretending, not as loyal as they had persuaded Ba’al that they were. Her personal guards had never been among those who were unfaithful, although she now suspected that their decision to help her would see them just as guilty as the shol’va that Ba’al had told her about. Perhaps those ‘shol’va’ would be willing to help her as well. If they were determined to destroy Ba’al-
Her breath caught in her throat. Warm brown eyes, smiles of happiness and approval...gentle hands...She closed her eyes. Battled her feelings. She loved him. She hated him. He wanted her dead...she had no choice!
She would escape from him. Take the shol’va with her, perhaps together they could find a place to hide. The planet below wasn’t an option, but if they used the Chappa’ai that she’d heard them speak of...that she had seen in the cargo bay - surely one of the Jaffa would know how to use it - it would be able to take them somewhere...anywhere...
A A A A A A
The comm tech shook her head. "I’m sorry, sir. I’m not picking up anything now. My guess is that their radios have been taken from them."
Mitchell sat back in his chair. Scrubbed his hands over his face. He was in so far over his head that he had no idea which way was even up! According to his very intelligent young communications officer, without the handy-dandy devices from the Asgard, simply beaming the team back to the Daedalus was impossible. They had to get to the transport rings, and send the signal that would drop the shields long enough for the transfer to be made...
General Hammond hadn’t had any more of an idea what to do than he did, although, Walter had informed him, the general was calling an emergency meeting with team COs, hoping to utilize the years of experience those men had leading their own teams against the Goa’uld. With luck, they’d be able to come up with some plan of action that would see SG-1 back safe and sound.
No doubt the longer the team was in Ba’al’s custody, the worse things were going to get. Heaving a sigh, Mitchell sat forward, rested his elbows on his knees, his chin on his hands, and stared at the Goa’uld ship that hung in space just in front of the Daedalus; as if hoping that somehow the craft would offer him an answer to his questions.
Given the feeling of sheer panic he was fighting, that he was unaware of the fact that several other Goa’uld were meeting...their intent to stop Ba’al, and destroy him if possible...was a blessing.
A A A A A A
Rihat frowned. He could sense that there was more in this host’s mind...much more. This man was highly intelligent. Where had the annoying human hidden everything? And how had he managed to do so? ‘I know you can hear me. Your struggles against me are in vain. Surrender now, and I promise that your existence will be...tolerable.’
It seemed that he’d managed to hide more than he realized, Daniel thought. And that, he decided, was a very good thing.
The Goa’uld began to pace the room, pounding his fist against the palm of his other hand, determined to break the host, and learn all that the human knew. Tau’ri. He’d been able to determine that much. The host was Tau’ri. The information in this mind could be priceless. Particularly if offered to the right System Lords.
By his calculations, the snake had been in his head...in his body, for nearly three hours now. Daniel was as stunned as the Goa’uld when a sudden shiver moved over his body, shaking him violently, and making his teeth rattle in his head.
Stumbling toward the bed, Rihat barely managed to drop onto the mattress before the host’s legs gave out on him. He wiped at his forehead, surprised to find no moisture there, even though he felt as if he were sweating. So hot...
Daniel remained still. Was his Immortality going to affect the Goa’uld? Would his body attack the symbiote, as if it were attacking any other bacterial or viral ‘invader’? Would the power of The One destroy the creature? He absently reached up to scratch the itch on his shoulder. Nearly gave himself away when he realized that he was controlling his body once again.
"Stop it!"Rihat demanded. Tried to push down the fear that gripped him. Poison! Ba’al had poisoned the body...and it was affecting him! He’d not been freed after all. He was, instead, going to die as horribly as the host in which he had been imprisoned! In blind panic, he began to pull away from the host’s spine. He would flee this body...
But where would he go? In his natural state, he couldn’t exist unless...
Struggling to his feet, Rihat staggered toward the bathroom. Began to fill the tub with warm water. In his terror, he didn’t even consider that he’d need someone to see to it that the water remained warm enough. As soon as a servant or a slave moved close enough, he would take that body, he thought wildly.
Daniel continued to watch...wondering if the snake really would just hop out of his body. It would certainly make things easier for him...
"...it’s important...no...vital...that you have one in your tac-vest. And you have to make certain no one knows about it..."
The implications of Casey’s insistence that he have a voice modulating device settled in his mind. Well, I’ll be damned, Daniel thought. If this snake crawled out of him...or died, he’d have to pretend to be a snake until he could figure out a way to make his own escape. To do that, he’d need to sound like a Goa’uld. The first thing he had to do, as soon as the snake was gone, was find a way to get his tac-vest from wherever the hell it might be.
Ensuat! If he could just find the rebel Jaffa, surely the warrior could bring the vest to this room, right? Right. Daniel settled himself more comfortably. No longer afraid, nor even worried, he sat back to wait. The Goa’uld would soon be gone...one way or another. He wondered briefly if the snake’s memories would remain in his mind if Rihat died, just as Jolinar’s had in Sam’s mind... The thought gave him pause. Information like that could certainly be useful...
A A A A A A
Ba’al’s eyes glowed with sheer rage. "Missing? There have been no alarms, so obviously the Tau’ri have been helped! Who has betrayed me?" he roared. He’d been in communication with the other ships of his fleet, ordering them to return to Nippur, when the Jaffa tasked to see the members of SG-1 to their individual fates reported to him, and told him of the empty holding cell they’d encountered.
The Jaffa shifted nervously. Every warrior on the ha’tak was aware that Ba’al had killed Ensuat, commander of his personal guard. Just as he’d struck out months earlier, killing Ryk’teal, who had been First Prime for decades.
Casey smirked from her place beside him, tied to the chair to prevent her from bolting away from him, kept at his side while he dealt with the problems that seemed to multiply with every passing moment...judging by what she’d overheard so far. Which amused her a great deal. "They’re going to kill you," she taunted. "We’ll take Daniel, get rid of that snake you infested him with, and kill it too. And then we’re going to kill every freaking Goa’uld we can find!"
He turned to look at her, grimaced at the smug satisfaction on her face. "Do not test my patience!"
"Or what? You’ll kill me? Do it!" she retorted. "Kill me now, Ba’al, or I swear to the true Gods I will kill you!"
The fire that jumped from her eyes both enticed him and frustrated him. He’d already come to terms with the fact that little she could do would anger him, much less infuriate him enough to strike out at her. He was, Ba’al realized, incapable of any emotion but love when it came to Casey Jackson. He quickly pushed that troublesome thought from his mind, the implications much more than he wanted to deal with at the moment.
"Too bad you killed your little copy of me,"Casey continued to taunt. "At least she’d keep your bed warm until we get rid of your sorry ass."
"You will warm my bed,"he replied calmly.
"Only if I’m setting fire to the damned thing...while you’re in it!"
He reached out to cup her cheek, paused when she jerked as far away from him as her restrained position would allow. Caressed the soft skin tenderly. "What I do, I do because I love you," he said quietly.
"You turned my Husband into a snake host because you love me?"she asked incredulously, her eyes wide with unmasked disbelief.
"Yes!"he cried, tossing the communication orb he’d been holding across the room. "With him dead, you will no longer yearn for him...you will no longer withhold your love from me!"
She stared at Ba’al. For the first time recognized the desperation that burned in the depths of his brown eyes. For a moment she was overwhelmed by the thought that anyone...Goa’uld or otherwise...could love her so deeply. Twinkling blue eyes danced in her mind. Only one man truly loved her more than she could comprehend. And at the moment, he was in a situation worse than death! She shook herself mentally. "You poor fool," she said softly. "Don’t you understand that what you’ve done only makes me hate you all the more? What you’ve done to Daniel is unforgivable...and I will see him freed from that damned snake," she added.
Without looking at any of the others in the room, Ba’al swept his arm toward the door of the throne room. "Leave us at once!"
Slaves and servants scurried away in fear. The Jaffa saluted, then hurried from the room with no less haste than the others, gently closing the doors behind them.
Ba’al stepped closer to Casey. "I love you."
She shook her head back and forth slowly. "I know. I hate you."
"I know," Ba’al replied sadly.
Tears formed in her eyes, caught in her lashes...rolled down her cheeks. "He was in so much pain, and I couldn’t help him," she whispered. The guilt she felt for that fact was nearly as overwhelming as her grief, and her anger.
The Goa’uld remained silent.
"I love him, Ba’al, more than you can ever understand. I’ll do whatever I have to do to free him from the hell you’ve put him in."
"If I remove the Goa’uld from Jackson, and send him away, will you remain with me?"
The hope in his voice was nearly more than her overloaded mind could handle. The tears fell harder...faster. "I have to see that the damned thing is out of him...speak to him, know that he’s safe and alive and well."
He studied her for a moment, saw the glimmer of hope that had sprung up in her eyes. "You’ll escape. As soon as you know Jackson is...safe...you’ll leave me," Ba’al replied, his voice accusing.
"I promise, I won’t."She could promise that she wouldn’t attempt to escape. Not that she was likely to get the chance to do so. She wouldn’t promise that she wouldn’t leave when Daniel rescued her, she thought frantically. And as soon as he was able, she knew her beloved archaeologist would move heaven and hell to reach her.
Ba’al’s eyes narrowed slightly. He shook his head. "As long as Jackson lives, he will attempt to take you from me."
"Because I’m his wife!" Casey nearly shouted. "He’d never leave me in danger!"
He took half a step back as the words impacted on him. "Danger? You believe your life in danger with me?"
"You’re a Goa’uld! Of course I’m in danger!" she spat.
"Never. I love you, Casey. I could never hurt you...never allow you to be harmed in any way,"Ba’al said gently.
"Oh, Ba’al, you really need to get over yourself,"Casey sighed. "You’re a snake. You can’t love like that."
"I am Goa’uld. I can love more deeply than you can comprehend."
Jolinar and Lantash.
That sudden thought left her shaking. Sam had told her about the memories the Tok’ra agent had left behind. Had described a love so deep between the symbiotes known as Jolinar and Lantash that it took her breath away.
An emotion other than the rage that filled her battled to be recognized...moved forward with blinding speed. One that she had no intention of examining too closely, lest she lose herself in the maelstrom of emotions that continued to churn in the back of her mind. "I’m sorry," Casey whispered.
Again Ba’al caressed the softness of her cheek. "What must I do to make you love me?"
"There’s nothing to be done, Ba’al. I love Daniel. As much as you love me, I love him," she replied softly.
"Dead or alive, he will always be between us, will he not?"
"There is no ‘us’,"she reminded the Goa’uld gently. She watched him as he stared at her...wondered just what the hell he was scheming; not a little afraid of the calculating look that filled his eyes..
"I will not-"Ba’al broke off, began to pace.
"You will not what?"she asked, when it was obvious he had no intention of finishing the thought...at least out loud.
"I will not destroy your mind in an attempt to gain your love,"he sighed. He had learned with the clone that blind obedience...unwavering adoration...was not what he wanted. Not from Casey. It was the fire of her emotions, her intelligence, as much as her beauty and alluring body that attracted him...held him captive to her charms. He wanted to feel the warmth of that fire as much as he wanted to tame her, to make love to her.
"Well, that’s nice to know,"she retorted dryly.
He couldn’t help but smile. "It seems we have a problem, you and I."
One blonde eyebrow went up. "We do?"
"I love you. I will not allow you to leave my side. Yet your...penchant...for escaping me will continue to hang over us, whether Jackson is alive or dead, host to a Goa’uld or not."
"The only way to prevent me from leaving you is to kill me," Casey said quietly.
Well, hell! He’s not playing the game by the rules, Casey grumped mentally. If Ba’al did kill her, and she reanimated three days later...well, hell!
A A A A A A
Sam leaned against Jack’s shoulder. "What do we do?"
"We have to find our weapons," Jack said, wiping a hand over his face.
"I concur," Teal’c said.
"Any clue where that might be?" Jack asked the Jaffa.
"There is the chance that our belongings could be in the storage closet where we found the SGC gear before," Teal’c replied.
Jack nodded. "I’d forgotten about that. Good thinking, T. Okay, do you remember which storage closet that was?"
"I believe so," Teal’c responded.
"Here’s the plan...we’ll grab Casey first, she won’t be fighting us. We find Daniel, knock his ass out to keep the snake from giving us away, and then we get back to the Daedalus," Jack said, his voice growing firmer, calmer with each passing moment. They’d been dealt one hell of a blow. It was a setback, but just a temporary one.
Teal’c and Sam nodded, their own determined expressions revealing that they too, were moving beyond the shock of what they’d been forced to witness.
"Lead the way, Teal’c."
The large man eased toward the vent that covered the ventilation shaft in which they hid, his finely honed senses alert for any sound that would mean impending danger. One by one they slid into the corridor, and darted behind support pillars to hide in the shadows. Slowly they made their way toward the maintenance tunnel that would allow them to move more freely about the ship, up the two levels needed to locate the storage closet that hopefully held their gear.
Weapons, Casey, Daniel, and out. Piece of cake.
A A A A A A
She pressed herself against the wall behind the door when she heard the lock activate, hands curled into fists, prepared to defend herself if need be. Desperation, she was beginning to realize, could fuel the will to live with the ability to do whatever might be necessary. Regardless of how terrifying that ‘whatever’ was.
Two Jaffa warriors stepped cautiously into the room. "My Lady?" a voice called softly.
With a sigh of relief, the clone stepped out of the shadows. "What have you learned?"
The warriors had no idea of the ceremony that had been held, so quickly had it been arranged and carried out; their desire to remain hidden preventing them from moving freely among the other Jaffa - those who had witnessed The Taking. They'd been intent on following the orders of The Consort, and learning as much as possible about Ba’al’s captives. The only excited ‘chatter’ they’d overheard as they made their way to the prison level had dealt with the death of the commander of the System Lord’s personal guard. To the Jaffa who served on the ha’tak, that was more ‘important’ than the fact that a prisoner had been chosen as host to a Goa’uld.
"I believe there are still rebels aboard, other than Ensuat,"was the response, from the older Jaffa. "And the prisoners - the woman with the short blonde hair, the man with the silver hair, and the shol’va - have escaped." That was a fact they’d verified with their own eyes, seeing the three sneaking down the corridor. That neither of Jaffa had felt the need to recapture the Tau’ri only confirmed their stance that they served only the Consort. "I do not know how, but I suspect that someone allowed them to break free. I do not know where the other man is."
She nodded her understanding. "I have been thinking...if I were to switch places with...Her...perhaps she and her friends could escape."
"It might work," the Jaffa allowed.
"Go...Ba’al will leave her alone in his quarters...there was a message earlier, before-"She closed her eyes, willed her stomach to remain where it belonged. Before she had learned just who...what...she was, and how little she meant to Ba’al. "I do not believe these intruders to be the only problem he faces at the moment. Go to her, tell her of my offer."
"How will she find the others?"
"I’m certain she’ll know how,"the clone smiled. Not at all certain how she could be so confident of that fact.
"I will remain here,"the younger of the two offered. "My Lady will need protection. If you find the need, messages can be relayed."
The older Jaffa nodded. "I agree."
The eyes of the two warriors moved to her for direction. In that moment she understood that the Jaffa did indeed answer to her...and her alone. Strength that she’d not realized she possessed raced through her. She could command these Jaffa, and they’d follow her orders to the death. It was a realization that left her humbled, as well as filled with the warmth of the love they offered, such as it was. They also knew much more about strategy than she did. It would be to her benefit to listen to them..."I will follow your judgment in this matter," she said softly.
With a sharp nod, the oldest Jaffa moved toward the door.
The clone stopped him with a hand on his arm. "Be careful. Do nothing that will result in...in punishment or...death."
"I will not," he replied, allowing himself to smile. Never in all the time he had been Jaffa had anyone been concerned with his well-being. The command warmed his heart, and he surrounded himself with that feeling as he slipped from the room once again.
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