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Descent Into Hell
Jack opened the door to the brig. Casey looked up at him, the smile of relief on her face enough to tug his heart completely out of his chest. She'd been sitting here, knowing full well that he wouldn’t rest until Daniel had been returned, safe and sound. She’d probably had more faith in him than he’d ever had in himself. He stepped into the room. Nodded at the young guard. "Wanna wait in the hall, son?"
"Sir, I was told-"
"I know. I just wanna talk to Casey."
The young guard looked over at the prisoner. She was the one person in the entire SGC he’d have never thought would be sitting in one of the cells.
He could sense the guard’s hesitation. "When has Casey ever done anything to harm the SGC, or anyone inside?"
"Never, sir," the young man replied immediately. He rose to his feet, and glanced at the slender blonde again. He’d already heard what had happened. According to Major Ferretti, the safety hadn’t been released on the gun Mrs. J had been pointing at the control room. She’d never intended to shoot anyone. She just wanted to go get Doctor Jackson, and get that damned snake out of his head. Hell, if he was in that position, he’d have done the same thing. His gaze moved back to the colonel. Second-in-command of the SGC. Commanding officer of SG-1, the premier team of the base. And Doctor Jackson’s best friend. The only reason General Hammond didn’t already have teams on a rescue mission was because of the Tok’ra. And those - aliens - had been the cause of a hell of a lot of heartache for the Jacksons, and SG-1, and the SGC. Screw the Tok’ra. "Mind if I go topside for a quick smoke?"
"Not at all, airman," Jack replied, giving the young man a quick smile. He’d watched the guard’s eyes...knew the SF was contemplating the situation, weighing the pros and cons of doing what he believed to be his duty, against doing what was right.
"Won’t be more than fifteen minutes," the young guard said.
"Plenty of time," Jack said. "For talking to Casey, and making sure she’s okay," he added, for clarification.
Casey was off the bunk as soon as the door closed behind the SF. "We’re leaving?"
"We’re leaving," Jack confirmed. He slid his ID badge through the magnetic reader, keyed in his personal access code, then unlocked the cell door.
"General Hammond-" Casey started, intending to tell Jack that the Texan understood what needed to be done.
"General Hammond has to obey his orders from the president. And we can’t let the general down," Jack said quietly, his eyes locked with Casey’s. Silently willing her to figure out that the general was clandestinely sending the teams out on a rescue mission.
"Right. Anyone who leaves will be liable for court martial," she said softly. "And the general will be held accountable for not being able to maintain control of the men under his command."
"Well, we’ve all faced that at one time or another. Sometimes you have to do what’s right in spite of the rules. Just don’t go waving guns around in the ‘gate room, unless you’re aiming at snakes or NID pukes or some other bad guy," Jack said, tossing her a crooked grin.
"Got it, boss."
"Radar, we’ve been on the move for almost ten hours now. No telling how long this could take. Think you’ll be okay?" It was the same question he’d asked Sam and Teal’c. Knowing that not one of his team would admit their fatigue if they were feeling it. Understanding that at the moment, their emotions were running too high to rest; adrenaline was keeping them on their feet. When the adrenaline rush was over, however...When this is over, we’re all gonna crash and sleep for days, he thought.
She shook her head. "I’m not going to be ‘okay’ until Daniel is off that damned ship, and that fucking snake is out of his head. I can do whatever I have to do to make that happen."
Jack nodded. "Good. Let’s go. Sam has your gear." He opened the door, stuck his head out. The corridor was completely empty. He led Casey toward the ‘gate room.
Two heads swung around, noted that Doctor Jay Felger was hurrying toward them.
"Mrs. Jackson, always a pleasure to see you!" Felger beamed.
Jack groaned. What the hell was that bumbling idiot doing down here? No plausible explanation for the man’s presence on level twenty-eight came to mind. Which only fueled his aggravation. "Felger. I’m not here. Casey isn’t here. This is all a figment of your imagination."
The smile dropped from the scientist’s face. "I don’t understand."
With a heavy sigh, Jack turned to face the most annoying scientist walking the corridors of the SGC...at least as far as he was concerned. "We’re not here, Felger. You don’t see us. Didn’t see us. It’s-"
Casey put a hand on Jack’s arm. "Doctor Felger, sometimes things aren’t exactly what they seem. Right now the colonel and I are..." She paused, then grinned broadly as the perfect excuse popped into her head. "We’re involved in an impromptu training mission. It’s happening off world; we needed to pick up a few things, but we’re not supposed to be here."
Jack stared at Casey, until he understood what she was doing. His grin nearly split his face. It was a line of shit, but it was a convincing line of shit!
Felger’s face became a study in serious concentration. "Understood. Neither of you are here. Is there anything I can do to help?"
Once again Casey paused. Then nodded. "I know that Sam has quite a bit of information from the Tok’ra databanks. Find everything you can on the removal of a symbiote from a human host."
"Is this part of the training mission?" Felger asked suspiciously.
"Yep," Jack responded, grabbing Casey’s arm, walking quickly. "Don’t let anyone know we asked you to do that, though," he tossed over his shoulder. "Tell them...um...tell them Carter asked."
"Very good," Felger said, nodding vigorously. "You can count on me!"
"I hope so," Casey murmured.
The two disappeared around the blast doors. Felger stood for a moment, then turned to race for the elevator. He’d been asked by members of SG-1 to help them during a training mission! If he could provide enough information, and prove his worth, maybe the next training mission held in the mountain would see him ‘fighting’ side-by-side with the team he idolized!
The ‘gate room was a virtual hive of activity as five SG teams made a final check of their gear. Two of the five were Marine teams, one being SG-3. Ferretti had them taking inventory of the ‘extras’ that had been requested by Colonel O’Neill...grenades and grenade launchers; as well as a dozen Goa’uld hand grenades, two cases of good ol’ American shrapnel grenades, a dozen smoke bombs, and two pounds of C4, along with two dozen detonators.
Ten other teams were preparing to head to the Alpha site. In the quick discussion that had been held regarding the mission, there was concern that the president would send in ‘outside troops’ to lock down the SGC in light of the blatant disregard for orders. The more teams who remained ‘free’ the better, had been the consensus. If it became necessary to ‘retake’ the SGC, they would be able to do so.
Three SG teams were going to remain at the SGC, to make certain that those leaving would be able to get back through the ‘gate. If there was an invasion of ‘outside forces’, those teams would alert the Daedalus, and head for the Alpha site as well. As far as they knew, what they were doing could end their military careers, and see them in Federal prison. To a man...and woman...the members of each and every team considered the possible sacrifice the least they could do. They were helping Casey Jackson rescue Doctor Jackson. Casey had saved each of their lives multiple times, and Doctor Jackson was the reason there even was an SGC, and the reason Casey was a part of the SGC family. Without Daniel Jackson, the mountain fortress would still be an empty collection of rooms, nothing more than an abandoned missile silo, with a tarp-covered monument sitting like a time bomb inside, just waiting to allow some snake to waltz through and do who knew what. No doubt the threat from the Goa’uld would probably have already seen Earth conquered by one System Lord or other.
For his part, General Hammond sat calmly at his desk, after being ‘told’ by Colonel O’Neill that a rescue party was going out, and that they weren’t going to be stopped because of the Tok’ra. The general was silently thanking Jack for taking his part so seriously; the colonel had found several men among the military police assigned to the mountain who were willing to hold the general and his staff in place until the teams had departed. Hammond had instructed those people to cooperate fully. When this was over, he would be able to explain that at no time had anyone actually been disobeying orders. He’d also be able to call the president and tell him that the mission had been accomplished; he didn’t doubt for one moment that his people would once again pull off the impossible.
Walter watched, nearly bug-eyed, as Sam entered the glyph information into the computer. "Major, you’re disobeying orders from the president!"
"We’ve done that before," Sam replied calmly as she keyed in the final command. In the ‘gate room, the massive Stargate clanged to life, the inner circle spinning quickly, the first chevron locking into place.
The technician frowned. "I...just so you know, I was going to dial the ‘gate for Mrs. Jackson."
Sam looked over at the bespectacled man. "Thank you, Walter," she said softly. "I know that will mean a lot to Casey."
"Good luck, major."
"Thanks." Sam ran toward the door, slid slightly as she stopped, then turned around. "Walter...sometimes the way things look...isn’t the way they are."
He could only stare at the empty doorway as Sam disappeared, running to the ‘gate room. The CO of SG-17 dropped into the chair that the major had just vacated. "I’ll close the blast doors," Walter said quietly.
"Thanks, sergeant," the man said, giving the smaller man a warm smile. He grabbed the microphone that would allow him to be heard above the low hum in the room on the other side of the glass window. "Colonel O’Neill, you’re good to go. We’ll keep the door unlocked for you."
Jack turned around, gave a salute, then led his team up the ramp.
A A A A A A
Daniel was pacing the quarters Rihat had been given, his fingers tapping against his thighs. When he heard the door activate, he dove for the bed, tried to look as bored as possible, hands beneath his head, staring at the far wall.
The clone stepped into the room, her bodyguard beside her. "Ba’al is aware that SG-1 has escaped, but he doesn’t know that Casey was with them," she said immediately.
"That’s good,"Daniel replied, rising to his feet. He looked at the Jaffa. "Is there still a ‘gate...er...Chappa’ai...in the cargo bay?"
"Yes,"the Jaffa said. "Do you plan to use it?"
"Yep,"Daniel said. He picked up the list of Stargate addresses he’d been able to come up with. It hadn’t been easy. He’d succeeded in hiding damned near everything from Rihat. He still had no clue how he’d accomplished the feat. However he had done it, the result was he’d managed to hide a lot from himself as well. Casey’s kiss. That’s all he needed for everything in his mind to shift back into place once again. As a consequence of his ‘achievement’, however, he’d only been able to access a few ‘old’ addresses, those he could recall from the first year or so of missions he’d been on; and two he wasn’t completely certain he’d remembered correctly. He could only hope that one of the lines of symbols would work. "I need to find out which of these we can get a lock to. What I’ll also need is for someone to keep the loyal Jaffa from finding me while I’m doing that."
The Jaffa frowned in thought. "I will do as much as I can. My first duty is to protect My Lady."
With a gentle smile, the clone patted the warrior’s arm. "Protecting this man..." she glanced up at Daniel. "Protecting this Tok’ra will protect me as well."
The smile on the slender blonde’s face was identical to those Casey bestowed on the people around her. Thoughts of his Wife had Daniel closing his eyes, murmuring a silent prayer that she was okay...and that her grief over what had happened wouldn’t send her once again into a tailspin of despair that would leave her struggling to remain cognizant.
When the ship shuddered around them, all three exchanged looks of shock...and worry. The Jaffa raced to the window. "We are being attacked. Several of Ba’al’s enemies have joined together against him."
"That’s just freaking swell," Daniel muttered. Waved a hand to indicate what he’d said hadn’t been important when both the Jaffa and the clone looked at him curiously. "We don’t have much time. Let’s go."
The Jaffa said nothing when Daniel grabbed the tac-vest, shrugged into it, then snatched the strap of the P90 and slung it over his shoulder. He was surprised, however, that the Tok’ra was willing to use the Tau’ri weapon. He opened the door, carefully surveyed the corridor. Gave a nod over his shoulder.
Daniel reached out and grabbed both the Jaffa and the slender blonde, yanked them to stand behind the support pillar he dove for when the sound of approaching footsteps reached his ears. Watched in silent surprise when Gemeti hurried around the corner, then slipped into the shadows opposite of the room where Rihat had been kept. Shit! If the lo’taur warned Ba’al that he was missing...
Two Jaffa approached from the other direction. Both glanced around nervously, then tapped lightly on the door. "Tok’ra, are you there?" one of the guards whispered.
He stepped out of the shadows. "Here," he said quietly.
"All of our brethren are prepared to leave,"the tall, broad-shouldered Jaffa informed his ally.
The ship shuddered again, tossing Gemeti from her hiding place. She looked around at the gathered traitors, her eyes wide with fear.
"You will come with us,"the Jaffa said, reaching down and gently helping the lo’taur to her feet. He glanced at Daniel. "She freed the Tau’ri from the holding cell."
Daniel smiled at the trembling slave. "It’s all right, we’ll find a safe place for you. You’ll serve no one...you’ll be free."
"Free?" Gemeti whispered. She’d been born to a slave on a ship very like the one on which she stood. Had been captured by Ba’al when he had attacked and defeated the System Lord her mother served. What did she know of freedom?
A A A A A A
SG-1 stepped through the ‘gate, the other teams following closely. Casey stopped suddenly, cocked her head sideways. "Well, duh!" she grumbled out loud. When the significance of what she'd ‘seen’ impacted on her brain, she swayed slightly, just before she murmured a prayer of relief.
"What’s up, Radar?" Jack asked quietly, reaching out to steady her. Was aware that the team leaders were in a tight circle around him and the slender seer.
She took a deep breath. "I saw what was going to happen. Before we left the Daedalus. But there was this...woman...well that was her form, she’s a higher level being, so who knows what she really looks like...anyway, she wouldn’t let me say anything...I saw a hand...her hand...over my mouth to keep me from even being able to cry out. Then she...hid...sort of hid...well, more like blocked...what I saw...at least temporarily." A few well-placed ‘pokes’ reassured her that there were no other ‘blocks’ in her mind to contend with. "I guess now that everything has already happened, it’s okay for me to know."
"Excuse me?" Jack asked, his eyes narrowing slightly. "We’re talking some major interference here, aren’t we?"
Casey nodded. "Don’t get too pissy, Jack. She’s from a level higher than the Ascended. Maybe as powerful as Oakey."
And that entity, he had been told, was a Seventh Level being. Couldn’t get much higher than that! "So what’s going on?"
"Think about what I insisted that Daniel have before we left," she said, still dealing with what she knew, and what she had known. She didn’t know whether to be furious or scared to death. Her ‘download’ had been tampered with. For a good reason, or so she sensed. Which meant that whatever they were going to face in the future would probably make this day look like a walk on the park.
"The voice modulating device. So?"
"Think about it, sir," Sam said, her own eyes going wide. "Why would Daniel need that, if he was going to be taken host?"
"Carter, we saw what happened." The memories of those events caused a sharp pain to shoot through his heart. Hurt so deep that it reflected in warm brown eyes, before he could push the emotions down.
"My guess is, the symbiote didn’t survive," Casey said. "That’s why Daniel needs the device, so he can sound like a snake, until we can get to him."
"Are you telling me that somehow, Danny was able to beat that thing?" Jack asked. The first spark of hope he’d felt since watching his best friend going through that god-awful ceremony began to burn.
"For what reason would the beings of a higher level allow this to happen?" Teal’c asked, a frown on his handsome face.
"Because, Big Guy, that snake knew something important," Casey replied.
"Like what?" Jack demanded to know.
Sam smiled. "You said that the snake knew something important," she said.
"I did?" Casey’s green eyes rolled heavenward. "I’m too pissed off to find that amusing!" she nearly shouted. Snickers filled the air around her.
"So, just to get a little intel, Danny had to go through that...we all had to go through that?" Jack asked. He’d moved past the shock of learning that Radar’s ‘radar’ had been screwed with. He was fast moving to totally pissed off about the entire deal. He had a thing or two he’d like to say to these higher level beings. None of it particularly respectful...or even civil.
The slender seer shrugged. "I suppose there would be more than just a bit of intel."
"Not a good enough reason," Jack huffed.
"Well, on the upside, we know Daniel is...Daniel," Casey smiled.
"And let’s face it, you know he’s probably giving Ba’al hell right about now."
"We should probably get him off the ship before he does something stupid...like getting into a fist fight with Ba’al."
"Fist fight my ass," Jack grinned. If Daniel had his way, he’d pull Balls apart, limb by limb, piece by piece, and then he’d get mean! "Ya know, that snake might have just crawled out of Daniel. His nagging could have driven it out. Either that, or he just bored it to death with all that stuff he knows, droning on and on and on..."
Casey grinned as the teams around her chuckled loudly. "I’m telling Daniel you said that."
"Be my guest," Jack grinned in return. "Carter, let Mitchell know we’re ready to beam aboard."
The message was sent, and the teams began to ring to the Daedalus.
A A A A A A
"We need to get to the cargo bay, and the Chappa’ai,"Daniel said.
"Where will we go?"
Daniel held up a slip of paper. "One of these addresses will work, I’m sure of it. Once we’re there, we can go home...er...where we need to go."
"We will go to Master Bra’tac. He will know where the Tok’ra will be. Then you can return to your people," the Jaffa said.
Sure, why not. Jacob would certainly play along. Daniel nodded his agreement. It kept everyone who didn’t already know about SG-1’s Immortality from finding out. Jacob could pretend to take the Tok’ra symbiote out, and he could ‘gate home. He’d be home within the hour, if all went as planned. Daniel felt his heart lurch, then begin to batter his ribs with excitement at the thought. Just hang in there, Angel, everything is okay, I promise.
"Will Ba’al notice so many Jaffa going missing?"the clone asked nervously, glancing around at the number of Jaffa who had gathered. There had been far more rebels on the ship than she'd thought...many more than Ba’al ever would have suspected.
"Not until we are already gone,"the Jaffa assured her.
Once again the ship shuddered around them. "We must hurry," one of the other Jaffa insisted, looking around warily.
Taking point, the Jaffa who had been charged with protecting Ba’al’s Consort led the rebel group toward the elevator used only for slaves. They were less likely to come into contact with any of the patrols who were no doubt racing to their assigned positions. The screaming of the klaxons helped to disguise the sounds of their movements.
"Go, we will follow,"the guard whispered when Daniel and half a dozen of the rebels filled the car.
The clone glanced over her shoulder. "We will see to it that you’re not discovered."
Daniel frowned. "Get to the cargo bay as quickly as you can."
"I will," she promised. Green eyes locked with his beautiful blue orbs for one moment. "She will be so happy to know that her Daniel is well."
He couldn’t help but smile. "I’ll...er...Daniel, will be happy to see her."
"Of this I have no doubt. If...do not wait on us. We will be there as soon as we can. But..." She cocked her blonde head sideways.
Is it possible for this clone to be psychic? Daniel wondered, watching the familiar tilt of her head.
"I must do what I was created to do,"she said softly, listening to the soothing voice of the woman, the voice that had been with her from the very beginning of her existence.
"But-"Daniel began to protest.
She put a finger against his lips. "My days are numbered, that is due to who...what...I am. I will not simply sit and wait quietly to...to die. I want my life, and my death, to have more meaning than that."
"You don’t have to do this, we can all escape," Daniel insisted.
The clone shook her head stubbornly. "This ship is under attack. Ba’al’s Jaffa are preparing for any intruders. They’ll be watching every corridor carefully. Even those on the lower levels. Someone has to distract them."
He hated to admit that she was right. Glanced at the Jaffa around him, could see the same unease he felt. Deserting a woman in the heat of battle...
"Go. It was for this moment I was created. Not that Ba’al realizes that,"she said, giving a sad smile. "Daniel Jackson must return to his wife. You must return to your people."
"You’re a brave woman. Very much like Casey,"Daniel said gently.
Another small smile tugged at her lips. "I don’t know how brave I am. But I do know that I can’t stop what was put into motion."
"Just to satisfy my curiosity, are you...psychic?"
The clone tipped her head to one side again. Her green eyes were unfocused for just a moment. "No, not as She is. I have a...Guardian...if you will. One who has been with me since before I was aware. She’ll be with me to the end."
He had sensed that something more was going on than met the eye. As soon as he realized Casey hadn’t been given a warning about what had happened, he'd begun to suspect. Now, he was certain. He took the strap of the P90 from his shoulder. "Just aim this at the enemy, and pull the trigger...here," he said, showing her how to use the weapon.
She wrapped her hands around the gun, nodded her understanding.
When the Jaffa who still had one hand wrapped around Gemeti’s arm stepped forward to enter the elevator, the little slave tugged free. "I will remain with my Mistress," she said, her chin going up.
"It is my duty,"the slave insisted.
"I will see to it that no harm comes to her,"the clone promised, putting an arm around Gemeti’s shoulders protectively.
"Promise me that you’ll do your best to get to that cargo bay,"Daniel said.
"I promise,"the clone replied. "Now...go!"
Feeling as if he were abandoning Casey, Daniel watched familiar green eyes until the closing of the door cut her off from him. If...no, not if, when...when he and the Jaffa with him escaped, it would be the result of the clone’s help. He shook his head silently. Just as Johnny was a person in his own right, the woman he’d met was a person as well. That particular Casey was every bit as brave...and stubborn...as the woman he loved. He sent up a whispered prayer that she and those who had chosen to remain with her would join him and the rebels, so that they could all escape together. Accepted that more than likely, the clone and the Jaffa so loyal to her would be killed before they could escape. He acknowledged the grief prompted by that thought.
Ba’al was seething. Kali, Olokun, Bastet, Yu, and Amaterasu were attacking him. Their ships continued to fire on his ha’tak, as well as the rest of his fleet. They were outnumbered, but persevered in preventing his ships from being able to surround his flagship to protect him. At best his ships were slowing the advance of his enemies. "Launch the gliders," he growled. Watched in satisfaction as dozens of the one- and two-man ships filled the space around the ha’tak. Noted that his enemies had followed suit. His glider pilots were well trained, and he continued to watch with what was near amusement as the enemy gliders were destroyed, and his gliders added their fire-power to damage the approaching vessels.
"Keep me informed of the battle," Ba’al said. "I will return."
"Yes, My Lord."
Hurrying through the corridors, Ba’al had one thought on his mind. He was confident that his latest experiment would prove as successful as the clone of Casey had been. Thoughts of the beautiful, angry woman in his quarters made his heart beat faster. He would make the final adjustments, and then he and Casey would escape. He had a specially prepared shuttle ready for just such an emergency. Equipped with hyperdrive and cloaking capabilities, he would be away before his enemies were aware. Word would go out to his fleet to withdraw, hopefully leading the attacking ships away in pursuit. The ha’tak he was standing on would remain to protect his new capital city.
Even in what appeared to be defeat, Ba’al was confident of his success, and his ability to emerge the victor. Small losses were acceptable. He had far more resources than his enemies were aware of. He’d rebuilt far more, and much quicker, than even his own advisors realized. He was stronger than he had been when he'd attempted to take the First World. And that would be to his ultimate advantage.
A A A A A A
"Only a few of us can get over there at a time. Lou, I’m taking you and your team with us, you’ll see to it that the other teams can get to their assigned section of Balls’ ship," Jack said to the group of SG teams gathered in the cargo bay beside the ring transporter.
"Got it," the Marine nodded.
"According to Radar, Daniel is okay. We just have to find him. So SG-1 will sneak around and do that. The rest of you take out any Jaffa you run across," Jack continued.
"There are still rebels on the ship, if they see you, no doubt they’ll identify themselves," Casey added softly.
Jack nodded. "Team up with as many rebels as you can find. We’ll bring them along when we pull out. We have to take out that Frankenstein lab. Anderson, I’m putting you and your boys in charge of that. Level three is where you’ll find all the labs. Not sure which door will lead to the dungeon and whatever Doctor Moreau-like experiments he’s conducting. It’s possible you’ll find some of those Super Warrior things being created. Destroy everything...make certain there’s not enough left to put back together."
Shudders moved over the assembled soldiers at the thought of finding more of the monsters Anubis had been creating, even as heads bobbed up and down in understanding.
"Mitchell says that Balls is under attack, so we don’t have much time to get this done," Jack added. "So far Balls’ fleet has managed to keep the other snakes from getting too close to the ha’tak, but it’s still taking hits. That could change in a heartbeat. Keep in touch with Mitchell, and each other."
Sam held up a box of small devices. "Some of these are the actual beaming devices that Thor gave us, the others were created from reverse engineering two of them. All of them have been tested, and they work. What we don’t have is enough for everyone. So, each team will get two. Hold on to each other if you have to beam out. Colonel Mitchell will give you five to ten seconds notice before activating the device if there’s an emergency."
"Which means," Jack broke in, "that every team needs to stay within arms’ reach of each other. Not exactly our usual SOP, but better safe than sorry. Each team has been given a section of the ha’tak and a rough idea of where to place their explosives. The detonators are all connected to this trigger." He held up a small detonator. "When everyone has cleared off that thing, I’ll blow it. Any questions?"
"So why don’t we just beam over there?" one of the members of SG-8 asked, pointing at the devices that Sam was passing out.
"Because we don’t have the time to scan the ship and set each team in place," Sam replied. "Coordinates for return are already programmed in, we’ll all wind up here in the cargo hold."
"If one of the teams happens to see Doctor Jackson, what do we do?" Colonel Dixon asked.
"Let him know you’re there, radio the rest of us, and then we’ll get the hell out," Jack replied.
"What about servants?" Casey asked softly.
The question was typical of her tender heart, Jack thought. "Tell them to get to the escape pods. I’ll let Mitchell know to grab any that he sees from the ha’tak."
"What about slaves?" Jonas asked, shifting slightly as he stood with SG-12.
"Ba’al has a very...brutal...way of training slaves. They’re not much more than walking zombies," Casey said softly. "They can perform simple tasks...that’s it. There’s not enough cognitive brain function left to make living on their own even possible."
"Death would be a mercy for them," Sam added just as softly, reaching out to grasp Casey’s hand.
"Okay, time’s a’wastin’," Jack said. "I want this done in under an hour. I’d prefer half an hour."
Again heads moved up and down affirmatively.
Jack turned to the tech who waited patiently beside the console that would ring the teams. "Get us over there."
And so the invasion began...and Ba’al would remain unaware of the arrival of the Tau'ri for longer than any of the teams could have hoped.
A A A A A A
Darting through the door of the cargo bay, Daniel was taken back in time...to the day Nutesh had brought him here. He had been determined to save his Wife that day. To get her off this damned ship, and away from Ba’al. He pushed away the memories of the two and a half months he’d endured without Casey; a result of things going typically wrong for them, and the atypical interference from beings from other levels of existence. Made his way to the DHD that stood in front of the monolithic monument. Once again he was attempting to escape Ba’al’s clutches. This time, however, Casey was safe and sound at the SGC...or at least he hoped to god that’s where she was!
His hand trembled slightly as he pressed the keys for the first address he’d been able to recall. Between the adrenaline flowing through his body, the stress of what he’d endured, and fatigue, it was a wonder he was able to control his hands at all, he thought drolly. He held his breath as he watched the inner ring of the Stargate began to spin. The first chevron locked...the second...the third...the fourth...the fifth...the sixth...and failed to lock on the seventh. "Okay, expected that," he murmured. He hadn’t expected the first address to connect...he really didn’t figure the second one would either.
Again he dialed and waited, the rebel Jaffa with him dividing their attention between the closed door of the cargo bay, and the giant monument. Again the seventh chevron failed to engage.
"Piece of cake," he said softly. He took a deep breath, blew it out. Dialed the third address, his fingers moving over the naquadah ‘keys’ of the DHD with precision. With the same result. Worried now, figuring that certainly someone had heard the clanging echo that sounded each time a chevron locked into place, knowing that their time was growing shorter with each passing moment, Daniel tried yet again.
The sound of relieved sighs filled the room as the seventh chevron locked into place, and the event horizon opened with its usual splendor.
Nervously, the Jaffa shifted, waiting for the clone and the rebels with her to join them. A minute passed. Then two. Stretched into five. Ten minutes the men stood waiting. The warrior nearest the door turned toward Daniel. "Someone approaches," he whispered.
"Open the door,"Daniel said quietly, sounding much calmer than he felt. "Let’s make sure it’s the enemy before we fire on them."
The door slid open. Two squads of Jaffa slid to a halt just short of the door, eyes wide. "Jaffa kree!"
"Oh, shit! Time to go!" Daniel shouted, pointing the zat, which one of the rebels had given him, at the squad who still stood in shocked immobility. Fired at the Jaffa who would be determined to stop him and his new-found friends from leaving. "Go!"
Dashing toward the Stargate, the rebels fired their staff weapons, not allowing those loyal to Ba’al to interfere. Daniel dove into the shimmering circle beside one of the escaping Jaffa. His thoughts were on the clone. Could only hope that somehow the rebels she was with would be able to secret her off the ship before Ba’al found out what was going on. Feared that she would be killed, along with those rebels, long before they could reach the cargo bay and the Stargate.
Leading the small group down the corridor, the guard responsible for the clone’s safety remained beside her. The sound of running footsteps reached his ears, although the accompanying rattle of armor was missing. Knowing that there were other Goa’uld on the ship, and not certain how they would react to a group of rebel Jaffa and the Consort of Ba’al, the warriors placed themselves in front of the slender blonde.
"Go, hide yourself. I’ll find you when it’s time to leave,"the clone whispered to Gemeti.
The slave hesitated. Returned the warm smile of her mistress, and slipped into the shadows. She would follow the Consort, remaining out of sight, able to come to her aid if needed.
The two small groups came face to face: the clone and the rebel Jaffa, and five men who were carrying P90’s. The Jaffa stopped in the middle of the corridor, the clone pushing to stand in front of the men who offered their lives to protect her.
"Tau’ri!"one of the Jaffa hissed.
Major Anderson stared at the slender blonde in the black silk gown. All that fancy gold decoration on it probably made it weigh a few pounds. He knew for a fact that Mrs. J was on the ha’tak. Also knew that there hadn’t been enough time for Ba’al to have captured her and stripped her out of her BDU...not in less than five minutes! Almost as disconcerting as seeing the slender blonde was the fact that she was carrying a P90. "What the fuck is going on?" he muttered.
"Casey?" Jonas asked, his confusion no less than that of his teammates.
Recognizing her name, the clone nodded. "I am Casey. But I am not...Her."
Jonas quickly translated, although his eyes never left the clone’s face.
"Son-of-a-bitch!" Anderson swore. He grabbed his radio. "Colonel O’Neill, we have an interesting problem."
"Which is?" Jack’s voice crackled.
"There’s a woman here who looks just like Mrs. J. Says her name is Casey."
"She’s a clone," Casey’s voice said. "Make sure she gets out with you."
"Uh...right," Anderson replied.
"Sorry, folks, totally forgot about her in all the excitement," Jack’s voice said apologetically.
"Tell her we’ll get her out of here," the major said to Jonas.
Jonas nodded, then turned to the woman and her Jaffa companions. "Come with us, we’ll take you to safety. All of you," he added, his gaze moving from one warrior to the next.
The clone paused. In spite of what she had told the Tok’ra inhabiting Daniel Jackson’s body, she wasn’t eager to die. She had a Destiny, of that she was aware. She understood that her presence had been needed, that she had been instrumental in getting those people, the Tau’ri and the Tok’ra, off the ship. Hadn’t she done what had been expected of her? Was she to be held accountable because the Tau’ri had returned? Certainly her death was imminent if she remained on board the ha’tak. If she left this ship, how long would she live? Another week? A month? A year maybe? There was so much to see, to learn...an entire galaxy waiting to be explored...hadn’t she earned that? The thoughts whirled in her head, moving almost too quickly for her to recognize them. Just as quickly her decision was made...right or wrong. "That is very kind."
The unmistakable sound of Jaffa armor filled the air around them.
"Go, we will hold them back,"the clone said, her green eyes wide.
"Lady-" Anderson started, as soon as Jonas had finished translating.
Knowing only that the man was about to argue, the clone shook her head. Pointed down the corridor behind her. "Go!"
The Jaffa were getting closer. It was a freaky situation, and right now he didn’t have the luxury of playing white knight. The woman had a group of Jaffa to protect her. He and his men had explosives to plant. They’d get that done, then catch up with her. That was the best he could do. With one sharp nod of his head, Anderson led the way down the passageway. Disappeared around the corner just as the second group of Jaffa entered the corridor.
"Walk away, and you will not need to die this day,"the guard said quietly.
"Because I refused to kill the Consort?"
Skeptical glances were exchanged between the Jaffa of the patrol. "Why would Lord Ba’al order his Consort killed?"
"Because I am merely a copy of the woman he loves," the clone spat, her voice filled with bitterness, her expressive eyes revealing her pain. "Created in his laboratory."
Eyes narrowed in speculation. All the Jaffa on the ha’tak had heard the rumors. One of the men among Ba’al’s personal guard had been sent on a strange mission. Alone, without his armor and staff weapon. To retrieve blood samples from the Tau’ri stronghold. Or so the story was told. The Jaffa been successful, whatever his mission, thus his honored position.
"Walk away, Jaffa,"the guard said again.
"I cannot disobey the orders of my god,"the leader of the patrol replied.
"And what orders are those?"
"To locate intruders."
"Intruders? What intruders?"The alarms had been wailing since the first hit the ha’tak had taken, nearly twenty minutes earlier. Any additional alarms were lost in the wail of those initial klaxons.
"The ring transport has been activated...several times now."
"What is the meaning of this?"
All eyes turned toward the voice. Ba’al and his personal guard approached from the intersecting corridor. His eyes glowed with anger when he realized that Casey had escaped from his quarters, and had somehow found one of the Tau’ri weapons.
Without taking time to think about what he was doing, the guard opened fire on the Jaffa closest to his group, while shoving the Consort toward his companion, his intent clear.
The younger man grabbed the woman’s arm, nearly dragged her along beside him as he bolted down the corridor.
The sudden movement taking her by surprise, the P90 wrenched from her hands as the Jaffa jerked her along, the clone did her best to keep her feet under her. She was barely aware of yet another squad of Jaffa descending on them as she followed her guard around a corner.
The sounds of staff weapons and zat’nik’tels filled the air, the acrid smell of ozone and burning flesh the result. The young Jaffa fell face first to the cold, metal floor, dead before his body settled into place, blood pouring from the wounds on his chest.
She gasped out loud. Hot, burning pain...the sensations overwhelming. She stumbled, fell to the floor. Her body twitched slightly, the result of being struck by a zat. She pressed her hand to her side, and felt the charred flesh from the staff wound. Her fingers were sticky with blood when she pulled them away.
"Noc!"Ba’al roared, as he followed. Dropped to his knees beside the slender blonde.
"I am not who you think I am,"she said, determined that Ba’al would know her true identity. She would exact vengeance on him; he would not have the woman he loved, nor would he have her. He would be left as bereft as she had become when he had so callously ordered her killed. "The Tau’ri Casey escaped with the others."
The look in her eyes was enough to show him the truth. For lurking beneath her anger, her heartache, he could see the love that had filled her beautiful green eyes each time she looked at him. "You are Casey," he whispered.
"I hate you as much as she does,"the clone whispered, a trickle of blood staining the side of her mouth. It was becoming difficult to breathe, she gulped in as much oxygen as she could, attempted to ignore the excruciating pain.
Ba’al grimaced. "I love you very much."
"No...you love Her. I’m just your creation...a substitute for the woman you’ll never have."
The truth of her words hit Ba’al like a slap across the face. Clone or original, the woman in his arms was still Casey...the woman he loved. "Do not worry, I will put you in the sarcophagus. You will be healed, and you will return to your place at my side," he whispered.
"Like hell!"The clone coughed slightly. "I was hit with a zat’nik’tel discharge just before that staff blast hit me." She looked over Ba’al’s shoulder at the Jaffa she knew were rebels. "I trust my fate to your hands," she said softly.
The Jaffa nodded solemnly. This woman had saved several of his rebel brethren from being exposed to Ba’al’s loyal Jaffa. His escape had already been carefully planned. Others waited for him in the fighter bay; where they, too, would make their escape. The two Jaffa standing beside him were recently recruited to the cause of freedom for all Jaffa. This was their first ‘test of fire’. He was about to bet his life on their newly declared loyalty. He raised the zat’nik’tel.
The clone shove Ba’al away, a movement that revealed her feelings for the Goa’uld more than she realized. He fell backwards, arms flailing as he tried to regain his balance. She cried out when the bolt of electrical current flooded her body as the Jaffa fired at her. Her body went still, her eyes dulled in death.
"Noc!"Ba’al shouted, his grief written on the tortured features of his face, revealed in the tears that rolled down his taut cheeks.
Before the Goa’uld could gather the dead woman into his arms, the Jaffa zatted her again. In a flash of light, the slender blonde vaporized.
Ba’al’s head flew up. "For that you will die!" he snarled, his eyes glowing as he rose slowly to his feet, his hand coming up, the stone of the ribbon device glowing.
"I think not,"the Jaffa replied calmly. He zatted the System Lord...twice. Before he could fire for the final time, the ship shuddered, tossing all of those standing in the corridor to their knees. "We have little time," he told his companions. The three of them raced through the passageways, and the freedom that lay within their grasp.
Within minutes, the number of Jaffa on the ha’tak dropped by another eight; four gliders appeared to join the fray that continued to light up the black of space, only to disappear behind the small moon that orbited the planet. From there, the two-man ships moved outward, into space...and toward their new home. Every rebel Jaffa on the ha’tak had escaped.
The loyal Jaffa stood frozen, trying to comprehend what had just happened before their eyes, to absorb the meaning of what they'd heard. All of them had been aware of the rebels who had walked among them; not one of them would have guessed that those who fled were of that number. Those warriors had been quite successful at hiding their true beliefs.
As was their duty, they carefully lifted the body of their god, and carried him toward the room where his sarcophagus waited. Not realizing that not all was as it seemed.
Brown eyes watched from the shadows...filled with tears at the loss of her mistress. A woman who had treated her with as much kindness as the Tau’ri...
Casey followed her teammates into the access shaft. So far they’d checked every room of two levels, and still hadn’t located Daniel. That small poke in the back of her mind let her know that something was about to ‘come through’. Cocked her head sideways, and listened to the whispers. "Daniel’s gone."
"Gone? What do you mean he’s gone? Gone where?" Jack demanded to know, glancing over his shoulder at her.
"Stargate," she whispered in reply. "To whatever planet they could get a lock on."
Jack scrubbed a hand over his face. Grabbed his radio. "Listen up, boys and girls. Daniel already made it off this thing. Get the explosives planted, then send a signal to Mitchell. Colonel, as soon as a team signals, get them off this ship," he whispered.
Single clicks, one for each team, and one a communication from the Daedalus, were the only response.
"We have to find her," Casey said, scooting forward.
"Right," Jack sighed. Knew that to argue with Casey about the issue was futile. He thought about Johnny. Didn’t Clone Casey have as much right to a life of her own as he did? They’d figure out what to do with Casey’s double when they weren’t in danger of being blasted by Jaffa who were loyal to Balls. Wondered if he should introduce the slender blonde to Johnny, before pushing the errant thought away.
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