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Descent Into Hell
Gemeti hurried into the room, the vest gripped tightly in her hands, the P90 strap over her shoulder. Unsure of what the Jaffa patrolling the halls would say about her taking the Tau’ri things to the Goa’uld who waited, she had opted to hide in the shadows whenever a squad of the metal-clad warriors approached her.
The instant the door opened, Daniel was on his feet. Grabbing at the vest, he led the lo’taur to the nearest chair. In his haste, he nearly shoved her onto it; the inherent good manners behind his need to be polite countered any roughness of the gesture. Focused on finding the item he so desperately needed, he forgot that it was unheard of for a Goa’uld to show kindness to slaves. "Thank you, Gemeti."
Wide-eyed, she could only nod her reply...slaves weren’t thanked for performing their tasks!
Breaking out into a grin when he realized the tac-vest that she had brought was his own, he opened the flap that hid two pockets. "Yes!" he crowed. Closed his eyes and breathed a silent prayer of thanks when his fingers closed around the device.
Now, he just had to find a way to disguise the ‘collar’ to which the device was attached. Frowning, he stared for a moment at the chest that sat beside the wardrobe. Goa’uld were damned arrogant...and usually lousy dressers, wearing clothing most suited for a masquerade ball. He’d noticed that Ba’al had worn the occasional gold collar, usually with a large stone in the center. Which would be perfect...if he could take the device off the metal and leather collar that Siler had mounted it on....
He glanced over his shoulder. Gemeti watched curiously. He didn’t dare allow her to become any more suspicious than she already was. Palming the device as he bent over, he began searching through one of the drawers. Hoping that the movement appeared more natural than it felt, Daniel put his hand against his throat, held the device in place. "You may leave now."
The dual voice echoed in the room. She didn’t remember Rihat being as...kind...before he had been...taken away. Maybe being punished by Ba’al had humbled him. She frowned slightly. He sounded like a god once again...perhaps it just took a few hours before a Goa’uld could speak with the voice of a god after The Taking. With a mental shrug, she jumped to her feet, bowed to the man’s back, and scooted from the room before she was sent on any other...strange...errands.
With a sigh of relief, Daniel watched the door close. He searched through the drawers of the chest, located several scarves that would at least cover the device. He had no idea how to actually wind one, but hopefully he could figure out something that wouldn’t call too much attention to the fact that his neck was completely covered.
The red of the scarf matched the shirt. He did his best to tie it as close to an ascot as possible, even though it was much longer than what it should be. Calling to mind every Goa’uld he’d ever had the misfortune to meet, Daniel unbuttoned the shirt nearly to his waist. Allowed the ends of the scarf to hang down, brushing against his belly. Couldn’t help but smile at the thought that Casey would probably approve.
Casey...My sweet Angel...are you all right? Oh, god, I have to find her...I have to get her away from that damned snake! Have to get Jack and Sam and Teal’c out of here, too!
Not certain what the protocol was on a Goa’uld ship, if one was a Goa’uld in service to the master of said ship, Daniel decided to see just how far he could wander. If worse came to worst, he’d be escorted back to this room.
There were no guards posted at the door. That was a good sign. He strode down the corridor, trying to give the impression that he was on his way to a specific location.
When the sound of Jaffa armor clanking rhythmically reached his ears, alerting him that at least a full squad was heading his way, he almost dove behind one of the support beams. Barely stopped himself from doing so.
Since Ba’al had been the one to free Rihat, who had...if the symbiote’s memories were true...betrayed the System Lord, there had to be a reason. Maybe he could find out what Ba’al wanted from Rihat, and find out about Casey at the same time. He closed his eyes. If Casey saw him...thought he was still infested...it would tear her apart. There had to be a way to let her know that he was okay. He’d just have to give it a bit of thought.
The Jaffa paused in front of him. "Lord Ba’al is on the pel’tak," the leader of the group said, inclining his head slightly.
"Then I will go to the pel’tak,"Daniel replied.
"We shall escort you."
Had this group been sent by Ba’al? It was possible. He was probably damned lucky that Ba’al had been preoccupied for the few hours it had taken for the symbiote named Rihat to die...
Casey! Oh, god...please don’t let him have spent that time hurting Casey!
Daniel gave a short nod. Tried not to shudder noticeably as the Jaffa surrounded him. And sent up a prayer that Ba’al’s lack of attention to him had simply been normal decorum after a Taking.
Green eyes watched from the shadows. She didn’t remember this man...Goa’uld, her mind supplied...his voice identified him as such. He had to be the one... Yes, he had to be the Tau’ri who had been taken as host. Beloved of Her...of the ‘real’ Casey. If only she knew how to pull the Goa’uld from the body...
"My Lady, we must get you to Lord Ba’al’s chambers,"the young Jaffa whispered nervously.
"Yes, we must,"she whispered in reply. Followed her bodyguard into the corridor, and hurried toward the elevator. She frowned at the floor of the car as it started to move.
The Jaffa studied his Mistress as they waited for the lift to carry them to the level they needed. "What troubles you, My Lady?"
The clone pulled her lower lip between her teeth "I have learned about this...’Taking’," she replied. The older of her two Jaffa had carefully explained the ceremony, and all that it entailed, as they had waited for the younger Jaffa to return from escorting the prisoners to the transport rings. "After a Goa’uld takes a host...does anything of the host remain?"
"I do not believe so," the young Jaffa replied.
Closing her eyes, the clone could only imagine the absolute devastation that the ‘real’ Casey would deal with. Yet... If they weren’t convinced that this Daniel would survive, the Tau’ri wouldn’t be so anxious to free him, to take him to the Tok’ra and have the symbiote removed...would they?
"Although, I have heard whispers that the host is trapped within his mind, unable to escape from the Goa’uld that inhabits the body,"the young man added, noting the look of grief on his Mistress’s face.
Trapped was still ‘alive’, right? Right! And ‘alive’ meant there was hope. "I would like to let this Daniel know that Casey and the others are safe. If it’s at all possible for him to hear me, it might help him to remain strong," the clone said, "until his friends can free him."
"I have an idea," the young Jaffa said. "If they are going to the pel’tak-"
"I can’t go there...Casey is supposed to be locked in Ba’al’s quarters," the clone protested.
"But not all of the Jaffa are fully aware of all that has transpired this day,"was the reply. "For all the Jaffa with the Tau’ri host know, I have been ordered to escort you...her...somewhere."
"The dining hall,"the clone said immediately.
"We can cross their path, if we hurry."
The Jaffa stopped the elevator. Sent it back down one level. "This way, My Lady," he said, as soon as the doors opened.
He saw her before she saw him. As it did every time he saw her, his heart sighed. She was so damned beautiful! She was dressed differently than she had been the last time they’d been prisoners on this ship. The black fabric was sheer, beautifully detailed with gold embroidery, and left her midriff completely bare. Better than the gowns that accentuated every curve, and revealed every secret of her body, he thought. He bristled at the idea of Ba’al seeing her...lusting after her...touching her. Those thoughts made his blood boil with rage. Daniel bit his tongue to keep from calling out to her. Rihat didn’t know who she was, he had to play his part carefully, or they’d all wind up dead. Not a good idea on Ba’al’s ship!
The Jaffa beside the slender blonde stopped walking, waiting in the middle of the corridor beside the woman, standing just in front of her. A protective stance, noted by all those who approached.
"Where do you take her?"the leader of the group demanded to know.
"I was told to take her to the dining hall."
The clone looked at the man she had watched from the shadows. He was so handsome! Such beautiful blue eyes. "You can tell Ba’al that I know all about the escape. By now my - friends - are plotting his death."
Daniel frowned. That didn’t sound like Casey. She wasn’t reacting at all like she should be at seeing him. He knew his Wife. She’d be ranting, determined to get through to him...speak to him, Goa’uld be damned. The slender blonde was staring up at him. He met her gaze head-on. Her eyes were clear, she hadn’t been drugged; certainly not enough time had passed for Ba’al to have broken her spirit using ker’nish’ta... It took a moment before he realized that what he saw - who he saw - wasn’t Casey. What the hell is going on here?
The young Jaffa took a deep breath. "The time has come to pay a debt of honor."
Four of the six Jaffa shifted slightly. One of those four was the leader of the squad. "Go, Find more Jaffa, and wait in the dining hall," he said to the two Jaffa who had no idea of the import of what had been said. (Nor did he concern himself with what they might be thinking about the rather cryptic comment. It was a message from Master Bra’tac. How this particular Jaffa had been called upon to carry it, he didn’t know.) He glanced at the man beside him, then at the woman. "Lord Ba’al’s Consort must not be allowed to escape, nor taken."
The two Jaffa nodded solemnly, and hurried down the wide passageway.
"What is going on?"Daniel asked, a frown on his face.
"Goa’uld, does the host remain?"the blonde demanded.
Daniel barely bit back his grin. It was hard not to gloat, knowing that he’d descended into hell, and had walked out unscathed. Pissed off, and certainly much wiser, considering the knowledge contained in the memories that Rihat had left behind. But unharmed. Won’t do to let them know who’s really here, will it? "He’s here," he replied.
The clone smiled. "Good. Soon you will be removed from this man."
This time he did smile...the smirk he had been trying for seemed to allude him as he looked into familiar green eyes. "So you think." He motioned toward her. "Who are you?"
The smile faded. Slender arms went around a narrow waist. She didn’t know that the action was one the man had witnessed many times. "I am..." she paused. "I am Lord Ba’al’s Consort."
Daniel glanced at the Jaffa. "What you hear now is for no other ears."
The leader of the Jaffa nodded. The behavior of this particular man led him to suspect that he was dealing with a Tok’ra. Who were allies of the Tau’ri, and had been allies...of a sort...to the Free Jaffa. How the spy had managed to arrive on the ship, and how he’d been put in place of the Goa’uld that had been imprisoned in the canopic jar he’d seen opened during the ceremony, he had no idea.
Daniel stepped closer to the woman. Reached out, took her left hand into his. She was trembling, but didn’t fight him. He examined her index finger. No scar. This woman had never cut her finger as a child too young to be washing sharp knives. He’d bet a month’s salary there wasn’t an alluring little mole on the base of her spine, either. "You are not Casey Jackson," Daniel said softly, the duality of his voice giving his words an unintentionally menacing tone.
"I am,"she insisted.
Daniel shook his head. "I know her. Intimately."
For a moment the clone stared at the Goa’uld. Could see the kindness, the warmth of the man inside the body. She stepped closer, so that what she said was heard only by the man with the blue eyes. "How is this possible?" she whispered.
"It’s a long story, and one we really don’t have time for,"Daniel whispered in return. Not that he was about to share the truth with anyone other than his family. "But please believe me when I say that Daniel Jackson is here, and...he’s fine."
Green eyes grew round with surprise. She'd heard the whispers...that the Tok’ra allowed their hosts to speak, and even shared control of the body at times. This man wasn’t arrogant, which was common among the Goa’uld. There was a gentleness about him. It was then that the implications set in. "You are Tok’ra!"
Yeah...sure...why not, he thought. He remained silent. Unknowingly cementing that belief in the minds of the slender blonde and the Jaffa who surrounded them.
"Let Daniel know that Casey...his Casey...is safe. So are her friends. We have promised to send you to her,"the clone said.
"Thank you."Did his best not to visibly react to the information, although his relief at hearing that his Wife and friends were safe washed over him in waves of raw emotion. He contemplated the woman for a moment. She looked exactly like Casey. Even smelled like her. How in the hell could Ba’al have a woman on his ha’tak who looked, sounded, and smelled like Casey? He frantically sorted through the memories he could still access, which were damned few, he thought with a bit of amusement. The break-in at the SGC...Casey’s blood among the stolen vials..."Clone!" he hissed.
The blonde stepped back, her arms tightening around her waist, her eyes challenging him to find her less than the human being that she was..
"I’m sorry,"he said softly, reaching for her once again. "I didn’t mean to frighten you."
She lowered her eyes. Took a deep breath. "I didn’t know...until today," she said softly. Sadly. "Ba’al...he...he ordered..." She closed her eyes.
"He ordered you killed, once he had my Wife in his clutches,"Daniel said flatly, knowing instinctively how the snake would have reacted to having his Wife. Why Ba’al had cloned her in the first place was a mystery, though. Was completely unaware of his ‘slip’, although it served to convince the Jaffa even further that the man...and the symbiote...were Tok’ra.
The clone nodded.
Daniel glanced around when the Jaffa standing beside him shifted nervously. The walls had ears, as the old saying went, and standing in the corridor as they were exposed all of them. Sometimes, he thought with a sigh, it was necessary to just cut to the heart of the matter, and get the hell out of the line of fire. Or, in this instance, to stop looking like a freaking alumni meeting. "Look, there’s no way you’ll ever convince Ba’al that you’re Casey. Trust me. You need to get off this ship, away from here-"
"So do you."
"Then I suggest we work together," Daniel said, smiling warmly at this woman who looked identical to the slender seer he loved.
Another nod. "What should I do?"
"Go...wherever it is that he would have Casey, his quarters, the dining hall, whichever. When Ba’al comes in, refuse to speak to him. I know Casey’s given him the ‘silent treatment’ before. So he won’t be suspicious."
She had no idea what the ‘silent treatment’ was...but not speaking to Ba’al would be easy enough to do...there was nothing she wanted to say to him. Or, she thought, too much that I shouldn’t say.
"I think Rihat...er...I’m supposed to meet with Ba’al about something,"Daniel continued. "I’ll see what he wants. Then-"
"I’ll have my Jaffa watch. When you return to your chambers, I’ll meet you there,"the clone said.
Daniel nodded. "Be careful."
He turned to walk away. Stopped when a small hand reached for his arm. He looked down at the fingers so like those that touched him so tenderly.
"Let Daniel know that she won’t give up. Casey won’t rest until he’s back with her...without a symbiote inside him."
"He knows,"Daniel whispered. With luck, he could get back to the SGC before an all out rescue mission had been planned. No need putting anyone else in jeopardy when he was okay...just stuck on a Goa’uld ship! He looked at the Jaffa who waited patiently. "With everything that’s happened here today, and about to happen, it might be best if all of the...all of your friends..." he amended, just in case someone was listening nearby, "made their...um...retreat...as soon as possible."
The leader of the group of Jaffa tasked with taking Rihat to Lord Ba’al nodded. "I concur. I will pass the word. We will all retreat together."
"I think that sounds like a great idea. Now, take me to Ba’al." With another nod at the slender blonde, Daniel fell into step with his ‘escorts’. For the first time since being dragged into that hangar bay, he was certain that everything was going to turn out okay. If not for the sheer inconvenience, and the fact that Casey was probably beside herself with worry, he’d be able to find the entire thing amusing. Funny what a few hours and a dead snake can do for one’s outlook, he thought.
A A A A A A
The planet was lush and tropical; the air warm and filled with the spicy scent of flowers, and the sound a multitude of bird calls. Casey saw nothing of the beauty around her, her attention focused solely on the monument rising up from the sandy beach not fifty feet from where the transport tech on the Daedalus had put them.
All they needed was fifteen minutes, twenty tops, Jack thought, watching as Casey’s trembling fingers pushed the symbols that would take them safe and sound to the SGC. Long enough to get Ferretti and Anderson and their teams, a bit more fire power...a couple of grenade launchers would be sweet, he thought, and they would come back through, ring back to the Daedalus, and head back for Balls’ ship.
Sam dropped to her knees in front of Casey, ripping away the cover that hid the crystal circuitry from view. Connected what looked like a pair of alligator clips to two of the smallest crystals. Entered a command into the small computer in her hand. The final chevron locked into place. "Got it!" she said.
Certain that they’d be able to ‘gate back to this exact spot, the four teammates rushed into the event horizon...knowing their colleagues at the SGC would be waiting for them.
As soon as he saw the general’s face, Jack knew something was wrong. "Sir?"
"Ba’al...Daniel..." Jack felt his throat close up as he tried to force the words from his mouth.
"Colonel Mitchell informed us of the situation," Hammond said
"We’re just here for backup and a few weapons, then we’ll be on our way," Jack said.
"I’m sorry, Colonel, you won’t be returning to the enemy ship. I just got word from Jacob Carter that Ba’al is going to be under heavy attack. The Daedalus can’t take on a dozen motherships, and at least half that many flagships."
"The Tok’ra have operatives on three of those Goa’uld ships. I sent a message as soon as we received word. They’ve agreed to rescue Doctor Jackson...if the opportunity presents itself."
Casey shook her head slowly from side to side. Fear had turned to ice cold panic. "No. No. You can’t leave him there. You can’t do this! Damn it, he could be killed!"
"Casey, I’m sorry, but the president agrees that this is the...safest...course of action."
She took a deep breath. No way in hell was she not returning to the Daedalus, and not returning to Ba’al’s ship. She was going after her Husband. Even if she had to go alone!
"Casey, we can head for the Tok’ra base-" Sam started.
Daniel had risked his life so many times...he’d died for this planet! For the SGC! And when he needed them...they turned their backs, hoping that the Tok’ra could pull off a miracle that only SG-1 would dare to attempt. "I’m going to get Daniel. I can do it with your help, or I can do it without your help." Her voice was calm. Steady. Determined. Her gaze was filled with fire.
"Casey, I can’t allow that," General Hammond said gently.
She stepped close to Ferretti. Looked up at the Marine. "Help me?"
He frowned, his gut twisting inside him, the desire to help her damned near tangible. He slowly lowered his eyes.
She slipped the 9mm Beretta revolver from the holster on Ferretti’s side before he was aware she’d even reached for it.. Aimed it at the window of the control room. "Walter, get ready to dial that ‘gate. Sam has the address. Sam, get that damned thing open. Teal’c, you coming with me?"
Teal’c stood, watching the slender seer. Noted how her hands shook as she held firearm. "Casey Jackson, we must first plan our strategy."
"Mrs. Jackson, put down that weapon," Hammond ordered sharply.
"No, sir. I’m going after my Husband."
"Stand down," the general insisted.
"I can’t do that."
"Mrs. Jackson, stand down, or I’ll have you arrested," the general declared firmly.
All eyes swung to the bald man. His face was grim, his jaw set. His expression said he was not in a negotiating mood.
"Sir, Casey’s obviously distraught," Jack said immediately. "Radar, put the gun down. Teal’c is right, we can’t just go running into this thing without a plan."
"Walter, don’t make me shoot," Casey said, her gaze moving back to the short, gray-haired man who stood still as a statue, watching all that was happening with wide eyes.
"Major Ferretti, place Mrs. Jackson under arrest. Put her in the brig," Hammond said.
"Sir!" Sam said in protest.
"Damn it, sir-" Jack started simultaneously.
Hammond looked at the colonel. "Don’t make me arrest you as well."
"Give me the gun, Mrs. J," Ferretti said gently. Reached out and took it from her. Hell, she hadn’t even bothered to flip off the safety! She knew enough about weapons...she’d never intended to hurt anyone. She was just hell bent to get Doc... He glanced at his commanding officer...the resolute expression on the general’s face. He had no choice. Hating the regulations that outlined his duty, he momentarily contemplated resigning his commission and walking away right then and there. His heart telling him that he had to continue to be a part of the group who fought against the Goa’uld. Reaching behind him for the pair of handcuffs that were part of his security gear, the Marine gently tugged her arm behind her, clicked the metal ring onto the slender wrist, caught the other hand, and repeated the process. "Come on, Mrs. J," he said softly.
Moving on wooden legs, fear so deeply in control of her at the moment that she didn’t think she could stand one more second without screaming, Casey swung haunted eyes toward the general. Daniel was on Ba’al’s ship...a ship that was going to be under heavy attack. He had a fucking snake in his head, and they couldn’t let anyone find out he was Immortal, and goddess, she had to go get him!
He met her gaze steadily. Then nodded to Ferretti.
Everyone in the room...but especially the three members of SG-1 left standing at the bottom of the ramp...watched in stunned silence. The general turned on his heel, and made his way back to his office.
Jack shook himself, looked over at Sam, then at Teal’c. Their expressions told him all he needed to know. As if connected by some invisible force, the three surged forward as one, racing after the commander of the SGC.
"Sir!" Sam called, following Hammond into his office.
"I’d like to know just what the hell that was about!" Jack exploded as soon as he was through the doorway of the small room.
"Colonel, you’re teetering on the brink of insubordination," Hammond warned.
"So write me up!" Jack demanded angrily. "I retired once, I can do it again!"
"Teal’c close the door, please," Hammond said, still calm.
One eyebrow shot up in surprise, and the Jaffa quietly swung the door closed.
"In just a few minutes, Colonel, you and I are going to be shouting at one another."
Jack frowned. The comment took the wind out of his sails...he’d been prepared to beg, threaten, or coerce the general into seeing things his way. The confusion he was feeling was mirrored on the faces of his teammates. "We are?"
"A message from the Tok’ra did come through about an two hours ago. With it was a private communiqué for the president. It seems that the Tok’ra want to keep the Tau’ri out of some little scheme they have going on. I believe their excuse was that any interference by the Tau’ri could have a negative impact on whatever it is they’re attempting." He held his hand up when Sam would have interrupted. "They’re well aware of the fact that Doctor Jackson was made host to a Goa’uld. It seems that they’ve written him off. His...body...is expendable, in their words."
"Those goddamned-" Jack bit off the comment. Struggled to hold himself together. Daniel...expendable? Not in this freaking universe! He looked back at his CO. Who was watching him carefully. As if...as if the general was waiting for him to figure out...something. "There’s more."
"Yes, there is. The president thinks that this is simply a matter of the Tok’ra trying to assert their superiority, and pressure us into doing exactly what they want...which is to remain out of the way until we’re needed. He’s ordered me to keep all SG teams on the base until further notice. Any teams already on missions have been recalled. There is to be no rescue attempt for Doctor Jackson. He told me to make certain that the orders were made very clear to all the personnel of the SGC," Hammond continued.
"Sir, the minute that the teams find out about Daniel, they won’t give a rat’s ass about some Tok’ra demand..." Jack paused. Like beads strung on a wire, the pieces clicked into place. "That’s what he’s counting on."
"I agree, colonel. The president is aware that to a man, the members of the SG teams won’t rest until Doctor Jackson is returned, and the Goa’uld dealt with," the general replied, relief written plainly on his face. He was walking a fine line, and now his second-in-command understood the situation, and would be able to do what he couldn’t do...in order to maintain plausible deniability. In the event that something went horribly wrong.
He frowned. "You didn’t have to arrest Casey."
"Yes, Jack, I did," Hammond said quietly. "No one is above the rules and regulations of the SGC. No one. No matter how much-" he broke off, cleared his throat. "No matter how much we may love her. She was threatening one of my men with a loaded weapon."
"She’s out of her mind with grief and fear and god knows how many other emotions right now," Jack argued.
"She appeared calm enough to me," the general countered. "I can’t let her get by with that type of behavior. No matter what her reasons. Discipline has to be maintained, everyone held equally accountable, or it all breaks down."
He understood what the general was saying. Part of him even agreed. The other part only knew that his young friend was suffering because her husband was, at the moment, a Goa’uld host, and she was sitting in a holding cell. "Don’t tell me to do this without her. Sir."
Hammond gave a tight smile. "I doubt that you’d listen, even if I did."
Jack felt the first real smile he’d had all day cross his face. "Probably not, sir."
"Has Casey had any downloads, any information that will help us?" Hammond asked hopefully.
"No, sir. She did specifically mention Ferretti, Major Anderson, and their teams," Jack replied.
Hammond frowned slightly. "Do you think two teams will be enough?"
"For an assault on Balls’ ship? No, sir. But if those two teams, along with SG-1-" Jack stopped, glanced around. "What’s here of SG-1," he said softly, "and say, five others, hit that ship, we’d be able to rig it to blow, and be out before the snake has a chance to do anything. Fast enough that even if he’s under fire, we should be okay."
"Major Anderson and Major Ferretti and their teams have been prisoners on Goa’uld ships in the past," Teal’c said. "They have also escaped from those ships. They have basic knowledge of the layout of a ha’tak."
"That’s why she mentioned them!" Sam said, realization in her voice. As she recalled, hastily searching her memory, both teams had escaped with help from Tok’ra ships...using the transport rings to leave the ha’tak on which they’d been held. At that moment, thoughts of the Tok’ra left her shaking with equal parts of rage and disappointment.
"It’s possible she was aware of those facts, at least subconsciously," Teal’c replied.
"Those missions happened before Casey came here," Sam argued.
"This is Radar we’re talking about. She might not have known, but somebody on her psychic radio frequency did. Obviously the experience those teams have will come in handy," Jack mused.
"How long for you to plan a mission?" Hammond asked.
"Twenty minutes, at the most."
"Do it. I’ll see to it that you’re...undisturbed." The general rose from his chair. "Now, Colonel, I believe you were about to shout at me that you don’t give a damn about the Tok’ra’s ‘request’, and that you’re going to gather several SG teams and mount a rescue for Doctor Jackson."
Teal’c carefully opened the door. Jack and the general began to yell at one another. Sam slipped into the briefing room, peeked over the edge of the spiral staircase; nodded that the techs in the control room, and several team leaders waiting unobtrusively in the corridor, were listening carefully.
With a nod from his CO, Jack slammed the door completely open, stalked into the narrow hallway, Sam and Teal’c immediately behind him.
"Colonel," Major Dixon called out. "Me and my team are ready whenever you are."
"Same here," Major Anderson said. He tossed a mutinous glance toward the general’s office.
"Meet me in the ‘gate room in ten. In full gear," Jack replied. Glanced over his shoulder in time to see the general slip from his office, and head toward the back corridor. Led Teal’c and Sam toward the armory. He was definitely taking grenade launchers. With luck, he’d get to use them on the damned Tok’ra as well!
A A A A A A
Jacob sat quietly. ‘I can’t believe the Council did this!’
Selmak chuckled softly. ‘Over the years, we have learned to...take advantage...of whatever...weapons...we might find.’
‘Can’t find a more destructive weapon than a group of SG teams hell bent on saving one of their own. Especially if they’ve been told they can’t do it!’ Jacob declared. Wondered if there would be enough of Ba’al’s ship left to identify when all the shooting was over.
‘Precisely. Which is why it was so important that the communiqué for the president of your country be secret. He must know what is happening. But the others-’
‘Have to think the Tok’ra have screwed them over again,’ Jacob finished with a sigh.
‘Keeps them on their toes,’ Selmak said, the mental image she projected grinning broadly. The smile faded. ‘I know you believe we should have simply asked them to undertake the mission. But the added...fire...of their wrath against us will add to their determination.’
He hated to admit it, but the old girl had a very good point. ‘I just hope they’ll forgive us.’
‘One thing I have learned over the years, both from having a Tau’ri host, and working closely with the Tau’ri...they are most generous in their attitudes toward others. I have no doubt they will forgive us. In time.’
"Seems I’ve been too easy to get along with. Given you a totally warped perspective of the species,’ Jacob teased.
Selmak laughed. ‘I would never describe you as ‘easy to get along with’.’
‘Yeah? How would you describe me?’
‘As possibly the most exasperating host I’ve ever been blended with. And probably my favorite as well.’
‘I knew ya loved me!’ Jacob gloated.
‘I wouldn’t go that far,’ Selmak sniffed.
‘Don’t play poker, Sel. You’re no good at bluffing.’ Jacob smiled at the soft caress he felt against his mind. Made himself more comfortable. The wait for word of the battle would be the longest he’d ever spend, he was certain. He was also certain that he’d never be able to cope with the feelings of helplessness that just sitting by created, if not for the symbiote with whom he shared his body. He’d never let her know, but he’d grown pretty damned fond of Selmak. Smiled wider at the second soft caress.
A A A A A A
General Hammond nodded at the guard. "You can wait in the corridor."
"Yes, sir." The guard gave another quick glance at the woman who wept quietly on the bunk, then stepped into the hallway, closing the door behind him.
"Casey?" Hammond asked gently.
She raised her tear-stained face. "I’m so sorry! I just want to go get Daniel, and you were telling me I couldn’t...and..."
"I know. In about-" he checked his watch, "ten minutes or so, one of your teammates will help you make an escape, so that SG-1 and several other SG teams can get through the ‘gate before I can stop them."
Casey sat up on the bunk. She’d been so shocked at the general’s refusal to let her go after Daniel, so desperate to do just that, that she hadn’t even bothered to ‘look’ and see what was going on. She did so in that moment. "Well, gotta give ‘em credit. They know how to stir us up, and the hotter we’re burning, the more dangerous we are," she said, smiling slightly, wiping at her wet cheeks.
"The Tok’ra. They’ve set this whole thing up. Want us madder than hell when we hit Ba’al’s ship. I know you’ve already ordered it destroyed, but by the time we get done, there won’t even be little pieces left." She paused, tugged her lip between her teeth. "We have to save Gemeti."
"Ba’al’s lo’taur. She’s a timid little thing...and doesn’t deserve the hell she’s lived through."
"We’ll find a good home for her," Hammond promised, a kindly smile on his face.
Casey tilted her head to the side. "Sir, don’t let the teams know. About the Tok’ra, I mean. We can tell them after the fact."
"Very well." Hammond looked down at his feet, then up into green eyes that watched him carefully. "I couldn’t stand by and let you threaten anyone, no matter the circumstances."
"I know, sir. And I apologize again. I never would have shot Walter. The floor or wall, but never Walter."
Hammond smiled. "I know. Now, is there anything I can get for you?"
"No, sir. Well, maybe a quick cup of coffee?"
The general chuckled. "On its way. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to drink it."
Casey actually managed to smile. "I hope so!"
A A A A A A
Daniel tried to look more relaxed than he felt as he followed the rebel Jaffa to the pel’tak. More had been revealed in that corridor than he was comfortable with; he, and the clone of Casey, were putting their lives in the hands of a few rebels. And there was always the chance that there was a bad apple in the group, just waiting to run to Ba’al with everything he’d heard. Positive thoughts, Danny.
Ba’al looked up as the man approached. "Rihat. I take it that you feel well."
"I feel fine," Daniel replied. It had always seemed, when he’d been unfortunate enough to witness a symbiote take a body, that the snake was in immediate control. He wondered if it really did take a few hours before the symbiote was truly in control of a new body. Appearances in the Goa’uld Empire were as important as facts. So allowing anyone to suspect that the symbiote wasn’t in control...nope, they’d never allow that. If the host was particularly strong, might it take a day or so? Or did the fact that the symbiote had been in stasis play a part? Had Rihat secreted any chemicals, serotonin came to mind, in order to control him? Not that it had done any good. For all he knew, the antibodies in his system had begun attacking the symbiote before it had completely wrapped around his spine. But, for a human without the blessing of being Immortal, no doubt the situation was different, and a hell of a lot worse.
"I trust that my generosity in removing you from the canopic jar will not be unappreciated."
"It will not, My Lord,"Daniel replied, in what he hoped would pass for a grateful tone. It was hard to tell with the whole dual voice thing. Maybe Goa’uld were better at picking up the nuances of the weird sounding voices.
"I chose to free you because you are still able to offer something to me."
"And that would be?"
"Your skills as an engineer."
"You would trust me, even after I’ve betrayed you?"Daniel couldn’t help but chuckle. Ba’al must be hard up for help if he was willing to let a traitor live...and then confer his trust a second time!
Ba’al’s smile was as cold as ice. "Of course not. But having my Jaffa nearby, ready to strike down the host and imprison you once again, should be incentive enough not to cross me a second time."
He supposed that would be a good bit of incentive. For the Goa’uld, death could be cheated by use of a sarcophagus. Being ‘imprisoned’ in a canopic jar however...Daniel shuddered slightly. That would be a fate worse than death. Sort of like having a snake crawl into your body and taking control, he thought. "Indeed," he said, bowing his head slightly. Sounding more like Teal’c than a Goa’uld there, Danny.
"It has been a most...interesting...day."
"I suppose that’s one way to look at it,"Daniel replied. More like a freaking day in hell!
"Rest now, Rihat. Tomorrow you will ring to the planet, and begin work on the terraces I have designed,"Ba’al said.
"As you wish."
"Yes, as I wish. Never forget that."
Again, Daniel bowed his head slightly. When Ba’al looked away from him, he took it as a form of dismissal. Turned and followed his ‘escort’ out of the room. He had just a few hours to get the hell off this ship. With luck, the Stargate was still stashed in the cargo hold. If it was, he’d ring to the closest planet he could make a connection to, then the Alpha site, get checked out and proven to be snake-free, and he’d be home.
Great plan. Let’s hope it works, he thought. Then wondered what Casey was doing...if she were all right. Hang in there, Angel, I’ll be home soon!
A A A A A A
The clone sat stiffly, watching with anger in her eyes as Ba’al walked into the room. He smiled at her, paused for just a moment, causing her heart to nearly stop beating as the fear of her deception being discovered washed over her.
"Come, sit beside me,"Ba’al said, settling in the throne at the head of the table.
She glared at him, then looked away. But not before she saw the sadness that lurked in his brown eyes. Two Jaffa moved to where she sat. It was clear they were not going to allow her to remain where she was, nearly across the room from him. Arms wrapped tightly around her slender waist, the clone stomped to the chair beside Ba’al. Dropped into it with huff of indignation. Pressed her lips together firmly.
"Ah. You’re not speaking to me."
Ba’al sat there, believing that she was the ‘real’ Casey. Quite content to accept the anger...the absolute hatred of the woman. He loved Her, the clone didn’t doubt that for one moment. Did he ever really love me? she wondered. He had believed Casey dead. It was the only reason that she existed, she understood that now. And when her cloned body began to deteriorate, to die, as she knew it would...the meanings of words used by the two scientists accessible to her now...he would simply order another clone created. And he would tell stories of his youth to that clone. And hold her. Make love to her. That hateful thought broke her heart just that much more. Did he ever really love me? Or was I always just a substitute for Her?
As if her heartbreak wasn’t enough to deal with, the poking at the back of her mind, which refused to give her a moment’s peace, was becoming stronger, almost painful. Damning the tears that filled her eyes, a result of the emotions that warred within her, the clone turned her head away. Not realizing that she was the conduit for forces of which she was totally oblivious, she softly uttered one word..."Daniel."
Ba’al grimaced, but said nothing. He'd already set into motion the certain death of the archaeologist...and the Goa’uld that inhabited the body. He would find another engineer who would see to the terraces he wanted constructed for his palace.
He’d ordered her killed! Viewed her as nothing more than a thing...easily disposed of when no longer needed, just as easily replaced. So why was her heart crying out so? Why did the urge to run to him - throw her arms around his neck, feel herself in the warmth of his embrace - seem nearly impossible to fight? She clenched her hands into fists to keep from reaching for him.
"In a few days, I’ll take you to the planet. Show you the palace I’ve had constructed."Ba’al frowned, studied the piece of fruit he’d just taken from the platter in front of him. "When I started it, I had no idea I’d live there with the only woman I’ve ever truly loved. Or will ever love."
The last was spoken so softly, she almost didn’t hear it. Ba’al had been married to another Goa’uld, so she’d heard. Qetesh, she’d been told. This ‘queen’ had conspired with other System Lords against Ba’al, and he’d banished her to a desert planet that had no Chappa’ai. She wondered briefly if the woman, or the Goa’uld, was still alive.
"Would you like to listen to music? You always seemed to enjoy it,"he said.
Again panic welled up inside her. He was well aware of the fact that she loved to listen to the music, to sit beside him and let the melodies soothe her very soul. Did he know that it was her, and not the ‘real’ Casey who sat beside him?
He smiled slightly. "She...the clone I created...enjoyed the music as well. It’s something the two of you share. Shared," he corrected himself, the smile becoming a frown. "Perhaps I was too hasty in having it...her...destroyed. Perhaps the two of you could have become...friends."
No doubt he was fantasizing even now about having both of them in his bed, the clone thought bitterly. Would he have been able to tell the difference between them...between the real woman, and the copy?
"I am a patient man, Beloved. I will have your love."
You had it, the clone thought miserably. But you tossed it aside, just as you tossed me away.
Ba’al sighed, picked up the chalice, and filled it with wine. "I could take you. Force myself on you. But I won’t do that. Not to you. Never to you."
She bit her tongue to keep from responding. One look in his eyes...the love that she saw there so different, so much stronger for Her than what had shone there when she had been at his side, shared his bed...helped her to regain the cold reserve she’d wrapped around herself. Around her heart.
A Jaffa entered the room, bent over to speak quietly in Ba’al’s ear. He glanced at her, and frowned.
Frozen with fear, certain that her secret - the fact that she was alive, while Casey Jackson had escaped - was being whispered.
Ba’al had no idea why the ships of his enemies had stopped, just before entering the solar system to which he laid claim. Waiting for more of their treacherous number, he assumed. All of his ships would arrive within the hour. Six motherships, two pyramid ships, and four heavily armed al’kesh. He had no doubt that he would emerge the victor of the impending battle.
The clone watched him carefully.
"There are matters to which I must attend. If you wish to...walk...you may do so."
Her surprise filled her green eyes.
Ba’al’s smile was cruel. "I have no fear of you doing anything that would...displease...me. It is an inconvenience, but it seems that the three remaining members of SG-1 have once more escaped from me. Do not worry. I will capture them again."
The relief in her eyes was just as clear as her surprise had been. The Tau’ri had managed to get away, and had kept hidden the fact that Casey was with them. At least she hoped that was what had happened! If so, Ba’al really was none the wiser that Casey Jackson had slipped away from him, and the clone he thought dead was taking her place!
"When I am finished, I will find you."
She looked pointedly away from him as he rose, her heart hammering against her ribs. If she could move about freely, it would be that much easier to gather the Jaffa no longer loyal to Ba’al, the Tok’ra spy who at the moment was inside the Tau’ri known as Daniel Jackson, and make an escape of her own!
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