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Desperate Acts

Chapter 5

Jacob frowned when he watched Lorraine hurry toward Ren Au's quarters. Another report, he surmised. He leaned against the opening that led into what served as the dining hall.

'You are angry.'

'No. Not angry'

Selmak sighed. 'Then you are upset.'

'We're being deliberately shut out,' Jacob groused. 'Because I'm Tau'ri.'

'Would your people react any differently toward us? Classified information is just that, Jacob,' the symbiote reminded him.

'According to our treaty, we're supposed to be sharing any information about the Goa'uld.'

'When the time is right, we will do so.'

'And in the meantime, we continue to use the teams of the SGC like canon fodder!'

'That is not true,' Selmak replied calmly. 'The Tau'ri are very...rambunctious. They leap before fully examining the consequences of their actions. There are times a more...delicate...approach is needed.'

'Well, those 'rambunctious' Tau'ri have destroyed more Goa'uld, freed more slaves, discovered more colonies of people taken from the First World by their false gods in seven years than the Tok'ra have in the past one hundred!' Jacob thundered mentally. 'That's the real reason, isn't it? The Tau'ri aren't afraid to go out and step on a few toes to do the job that has to be done. Moving toward the goal of destroying the Goa'uld empire. Something the Tok'ra claim is the same as their own!'

'I do not believe I care for what you are insinuating,' Selmak replied coldly.

'Tell me, Selmak, what's the real reason the Tok'ra want to see the Goa'uld destroyed? To rid the universe of the false gods, or to replace them?'

Selmak writhed in anger. 'I will not dignify that with a response!'

'You just did.'

'You do not understand our ways, even after all of this time, regardless of how often, and how carefully I explain.'

'You explain only as much as you want me to know!' Jacob retorted.

'Do you truly believe that?'

He could sense the symbiote's emotions...she was flooding his mind with them. Not in an attempt to take over, but to let him know exactly how she was feeling. He allowed his own begrudging feelings of remorse to wash back through that unique - and totally unexplainable - bond between their minds.

'You are frustrated by being 'left out'. When our knowledge, our skills are needed, they will let us know. In the meantime, we have research to complete,' Selmak said gently. 'Unless that is beneath you, a mighty Tau'ri.'

Jacob chuckled. It wasn't the first time he and his symbiote had quarreled. Probably wouldn't be the last time. But it proved to him that he was still very much in control of his mind. He shared his body, not his thoughts. What made him Jacob Carter was still intact, and as strong as ever.


A  A  A  A  A  A


When Daniel attempted to rise from the floor, a boot was planted squarely in his chest. He looked up into the face of the man Casey had dubbed 'Raft Boy'. If he ever lost interest in being the 'heavy' for the group of men gathered in the farm house, Sumo wrestling would be right up his alley! He held his arms out, away from his body, in a show of surrender.

Casey had been about to jump to her feet when the audible, and very familiar, click of a gun being cocked filled her ear.

"Don't move, Case. Just relax," Daniel said quietly, calmly.

She slid back on the chair, put her hands beneath her thighs to keep from reaching out to smack the bastard who stood beside her. Getting shot was not a good idea. Especially when there was no telling how long the Chinese would keep them. Being buried in a shallow grave somewhere wasn't her idea of a good time, either.

Kwan hurried back into the room. He pointed toward the artifact that still remained open on the table, the jade phallus reflecting the light of the shrine. "You will tell me exactly what this says!"

"Right," Daniel muttered. He rose slowly, never taking his eyes off of 'Raft Boy'.

"If I do not believe you, your wife will be killed."

"Why on earth would I lie?" Daniel asked, genuinely dumbfounded. "I've already discovered what it is! What would there be to hide?"

Still furious, his dreams crumbling to dust at his feet, Kwan struck the archaeologist again. The man didn't fall this time, but stood stoically, his gaze locked with that of his captor. "Tell me what it says!" the Chinese bureaucrat demanded.

Daniel picked up the pad he'd taken notes on. Closed the shrine, and pointed to each hieroglyph, reading just as he'd been ordered to do. He even went so far as to inform the man beside him that Apophis had apparently stolen the shrine from Lord Yu, and had been in the process of having Yu's prayers carved over. He pointed out the glyphs on the top of each of the four sides. Potency. Energy. Stamina. Read the prayers carefully.

Kwan's face had gone from livid red to pale white. He had no doubt that Dr. Jackson was telling him the truth. Shaking, this time from fear, he left the room once again, moving with the gait of a defeated old man.

"Now what happens?" Casey dared to ask, her voice soft, and quavering slightly.

"I have no idea," Daniel murmured in reply. He sank down onto the chair where he'd spent his time, all but the twenty minutes or so they'd been granted to clean up.

The sound of a shouting voice, he thought it might be someone on the front porch; no doubt the man in charge had posted someone to keep an eye out for any possible visitors. More yelling...first excited, and then panicked.

"C'mere, Angel," Daniel commanded softly, keeping his eyes locked with those of the man who was holding the gun. He could tell the man wanted to leave the room, discover what was happening. Raft Boy stood beside the door, but said nothing, nor did he so much as blink when Casey crossed the room, settled on to his lap.

"What's going on?"

"They're upset about something. I can't make out enough to know what it is."

The answer came soon enough, when the air was filled with the sound of an approaching helicopter. He turned his head slightly. No, that sounded more like two helicopters! Had their captor managed to hire someone to fly him and his associates away? No, there wouldn't be the sound of fear in their voices. The two men who remained to guard them were tossing nervous looks toward the door.

"It's Jack," Casey whispered.

"You're sure?"

She nodded. Snuggled against his bare chest. "I guess calling them about breakfast this morning...was it for this morning? Anyway, wasn't such a bad idea after all, was it?"

Daniel smiled. He'd been a bit put out that Casey was insisting on having breakfast with their teammates. He loved Jack, Sam, and Teal'c...they were family as much as friends to him. But he'd wanted to spend two days alone with her. Just the two of them, hidden from the world and its problems in the house that had become refuge as well as home. "Guess not. I think we should probably try to get under this table. If there's going to be shooting, we need to be out of the line of fire."

"Okay." Slowly, Casey slid from her perch on his thigh to the floor. Daniel followed her. Again, surprisingly, their guards did nothing, although the man with the gun was pointing it at them.

"Slow and easy. Just slide back as far as you can," Daniel whispered.




Jack watched as they approached the house. Two cars in the driveway. If the directions given them by the sheriff's department were correct, this was the place. Casey and Daniel were in there somewhere. By now those who were in control inside the two story farmhouse were aware of their approach. Which meant the next few minutes could be rough for the Jacksons.

"Listen up," the colonel said, addressing the teams on the two Pavehawks. "There are two of our people in that house. So don't go shooting at anything you can't identify one hundred percent as the enemy. We hold fire until fired upon, I repeat, we don't shoot first."

Sam tapped his shoulder, pointed toward the gravel road. Half a dozen cars with lights flashing were racing toward the house. No doubt sirens were wailing as well, Jack thought. He nodded that he'd seen the vehicles. It was actually difficult to miss them; the cloud of dust behind them was visible for a mile or so, at least.




Jim Peterson leaned forward over the steering wheel. Two helicopters were approaching. Had to be the people from the Air Force. A General Hammond had called and talked to Don. Something about national security, and classified information that had been stolen, and two civilians taken hostage. He'd cringed at that news. No doubt those hostages had been inside the house when he had 'visited'. He could only hope that the two, a man and his wife, hadn't been mistreated, and that his impromptu appearance hadn't made things worse for them.

"All units, this is Sheriff Watson. We let the military handle this. Our presence is for back-up only. I don't want anyone going in there and making things worse. We stay out of the way until we're needed," Don's voice instructed through the speaker of the radio.

He didn't think that would be much of a problem. No way in hell was he taking on Chinese agents, Jim thought. He was fairly certain the other deputies felt the same way. Besides, he had a date with Jeri for dinner. He wasn't about to miss it. With a mental shake of his head, he returned his focus to the task at hand. He'd think about his wife...ex-wife...and what her eager acceptance to his invitation might mean, after his job was done.




Kwan watched with dull eyes as the two helicopters landed on either side of the house. Dust from the direction of the rutted dirt road could mean only one thing: American authorities were about to arrive.

Li Yin stood behind his employer. No one needed to say out loud that the eight men inside the farmhouse were about to be arrested. Nor did anyone need to say that when they were finally returned to China, they would quietly disappear. There would be no need for even the sham trials that were held in an attempt to make it appear as if there were justice for the criminals among the Chinese people.

Xin stood beside the door of the room.  He'd followed a fool.  Willingly.  So did that not make him more the fool?

Ruined. All of his hopes, his plans, his dreams were nothing more than ashes at his feet. And for what? A goddamned sex toy! Even now the laughter of the American archaeologist filled his ears. In a sudden black rage, Kwan turned to his most trusted employee. "Kill them!"

Xin winced. If the Americans heard gunfire now, they'd know that the hostages were dead. Which would leave no reason to take the Chinese as prisoners. Being taken alive was the only way to survive this ordeal. He didn't even question the plan that began to form in his mind. Survival was a strong motivator. "Would it not be better to let them live, so that they can tell their leaders how easily we took them? That the Chinese can, and will, take what we want, what we need, as we see fit, and that none can stop us?" he asked quietly.

This was what made Xin Qui such a good assistant, Kwan thought. Xin thought in terms of his country first, a trait that had attracted him to the man in the first place. Even if he and the others were taken into custody, chances were the American government would not want its people to know just how vulnerable they really were. "You are correct, my friend. It is a lesson that the arrogant Americans will never learn. One that is most worthy of being repeated as often as possible."

"What will become of us?" one of the younger men asked quietly.

"We will be interrogated," Kwan said. Every man in the room flinched visibly. They'd all been trained to withstand torture. That training would not make the experience any less painful to endure. "Then we will be quietly sent back to China. It would embarrass the Americans too much to admit what we were able to do."

"And when we return to our homeland?" another voice asked.

"What we did, we did for China," Kwan said firmly. "It is not our fault that we were duped by Simmons. He is ultimately to blame for this disaster."

"There is still time to call for his extermination," Xin said softly. He fished in his pocket for his cell phone. "He is under house arrest. Getting to him would be quite easy for our agent."

Dark eyes glittering with hatred, Kwan accepted the phone. Xin was efficient. All of the numbers his employer might need were readily available. Trembling fingers pushed the appropriate buttons. When the call was answered, he made one terse, short comment. Then closed the phone and returned it to its owner. "Erase those numbers, now," he commanded.

Xin's nimble fingers appeared to oblige. Again, he didn't bother to question his thoughts. He was focused on one thing...his own life. He'd do whatever was necessary to stay alive. Even if that meant never seeing his fatherland again.

Yi Lin shook his head slowly. He had chosen incorrectly. When Kwan had hired him, he'd believed his fortune had finally been made. His brother had tried to discourage him from accepting a position for the Bureau Member. He had not listened. And now, he would pay with his life.

On the other side of the country a man lit a cigarette, sat back in his comfortable lounge chair. He would report the call to his new friends. Knowing full well that he was protected from any retaliation.




Jack jumped to the ground, felt Teal'c land on the dirt behind him. "Let's go get 'em," he said into the transmitter beside his mouth. Staying low, trying to provide as small a target as possible, four SG teams surrounded the house. A glance over his shoulder told him that the sheriff had arrived, but so far the man and his deputies were doing nothing more than blocking the driveway and remaining behind open car doors.

Hand signals sent the teams in two different directions. He sent Teal'c and part of SG-3 toward the back, Sam and the remainder of 3 to the front. The snipers from SG-7 and SG-15 were moving into position. He'd see about getting through one of the windows, his special ops training making him as dangerous alone as he would have been with full back up.

This was personal for the teams. And the expressions on their faces telegraphed that fact. The deputies who watched the military personnel approach the house were left to wonder just exactly who the two 'civilian hostages' might be. Whoever they were, there was no doubt that they were important to the Air Force.

Eight men inside the house waited nervously. To take down the black tarps that covered every window on the lower floor would expose them to the approaching military people. Not taking the tarps down left them guessing as to what was happening. Kwan sent two of the men up the rickety stairs, with orders to tell him what they could see.

The sound of shattering glass and two loud 'thuds' let the leader of the Chinese infiltrators know that the men had moved too closely to windows. That there had been no audible sound of a gun firing meant that the Americans were using silencers. It seemed that they didn't want anyone who might be in the vicinity of the farmhouse to know what was happening.

Kwan walked into the room where the two prisoners waited, sitting patiently beneath the table. "You will come with me," he said coldly. "You will be our...how do you Americans say that...oh, yes. You will be our ticket out of here."

"Not gonna happen," Daniel replied firmly.

"You will cooperate! Or I will kill her!" Kwan shrieked, his face red with rage, the veins on his neck bulging visibly.

Jack had been beside one of the windows, moving just beneath the sill, staying out of sight. He froze when he heard the sound of a man screaming in rage. "Marco?"

Casey grinned. Jack was literally on the other side of the wall. "Polo!" she called out.

Kwan whirled to face the tarp covered window. He strode toward it, grabbed two handfuls of plastic, and exposed the glass with a loud rip. Within seconds he was on his back, a hole in his shoulder bleeding profusely. A small hole in the glass was the only evidence of the unheard shot.

He hadn't forgotten anything he'd learned during his time at the SGC. Daniel had listened as two of the men had gone upstairs. Had heard the breaking of glass, and the two resounding thumps that could only mean that the men had been shot. It seemed that all of the men had been eager to catch a glimpse of his Wife. He'd seen the same faces several times. He'd even listened as much as he could to the quiet conversation in another room, had tried to identify each individual voice. There were three down.  Which meant..."Five left, Jack!" he called out.

The giant that Casey had dubbed Raft Boy glared at the prisoners. Just before he was down as well. Again, the wound was in his shoulder. The thin man who'd served as Casey's guard ran from the room, shouting to the others that their leader had been killed.

"This room is empty!" Daniel called again. He grinned when Jack's head popped above the bottom of the window.

Casey giggled, and slid from beneath the table. She twisted the lock, slid the window up, and barely waited until Jack was standing inside the room before hugging him.

"You owe me breakfast," Jack said.

"I'll make you breakfast."

"Sweet!" Jack grinned. He gave her shoulder a squeeze, and then pushed her toward the window. "Two coming out, take care of 'em, they're ours," he said quietly into his radio.

"You got it, colonel," a voice replied immediately.

Making certain that his two 'kids' were safe before moving farther into the room, Jack clicked his radio twice. Heard two separate, distinct clicks in return. Sam and Teal'c were in position by the front and back doors. He took the time to check the pulse on the two men lying on the floor, leaving bloodstains on the worn, tattered carpet. Both were alive, but from the weak pulse in the older man, he didn't know for how long. "We have two wounded on the main floor. Better get the ambulances up here," he said quietly. Again his order was acknowledged. The sheriff was notified of the need for the emergency vehicles, and that man responded immediately.

He turned his cap backwards. Took a deep breath. Moved toward the open door, trying to stay as close to the floor as possible. There was no one in the narrow hallway. He could hear the anxious whispers coming from the room across from him. Moving with deliberate slowness, he eased into the hallway, peeked around the corner. The entryway opened directly onto a room most probably used as the living room. He could see two men standing in the middle of the room. From their position, and the looks on their faces, they were talking to at least one other. That left one. The men in the living room were becoming agitated; it sounded as if they were arguing. Using the cover of their raised voices, Jack signaled his team. "Two in the room off of the front door, possibly three. One definitely unaccounted for. On the count of three. Hold fire unless you're fired upon. Repeat, hold fire unless fired upon," he whispered into his radio. Again he took a deep breath. "One...two...three!"

Jack raced toward the room at the same moment that Sam burst through the front door, followed by Kid and Ferretti. The sound of the backdoor crashing open echoed loudly. Teal'c ran toward them, Driscoll and Lopez on his heels. Three SG-1 members stood blocking the arched doorway of the living room, the men of SG-3 close behind them.

Four men stood stunned, their faces betraying their panic. For a moment no one moved, no one spoke

"Hands up," Jack said calmly. "Now."

Exchanging worried glances, the four Chinese agents did as they were told. The sound of approaching sirens filled the air as two ambulances and an aid vehicle raced toward the old farmhouse.

"Handcuffs would be good," Jack said.

"I'll see if the sheriff has a few pair we can borrow," Ferretti drawled.

"You do that. We'll just see to it that these fellas don't get any stupid ideas," Jack replied. "Teal'c, take Lopez and check on the two upstairs. Driscoll, find out if these gentlemen are armed."

With a nod, the tall Jaffa led the way, Willie on his heels.

"We wish to speak to a Chinese ambassador," Xin Qui said firmly. He remained rigid when the American patted him down, took his handgun.

"Right. Do I look like a cop to you?" Jack asked.

The agent frowned. "This is my right. The Geneva Convention-"

"Means nothing to me," Jack replied. "You see, you're messing with a group that doesn't technically exist. Which means that technically, I'm not standing here. I can blow your head off-"

The four men in the room took a collective step backwards, gasping loudly.

"-and no one will care. Hell, your government denies any knowledge of your existence right now!"

Xin cringed mentally. In that moment, he might as well not exist. If he could not convince the Americans of his usefulness, his life was forfeit. But he dared not let his companions know what he planned. For now, he had to play the part of a loyal patriot. "How will you explain the dead Chinese nationals laying in the other room?"

"There aren't any dead Chinese nationals. Two wounded Chinese nationals," Jack retorted. "Wounded while we were rescuing the two American citizens that they kidnapped."

The old woman had been correct. Although he hadn't been in the room to witness the apparition, he'd heard Kwan and the others discussing the ghost. And her warning. The others of the committee would back away from Kwan now. His patron would stand alone. He'd be publicly disgraced. As would all those who stood with him.

Heavy footsteps heralded the return of Teal'c and Willie Lopez. "The two men upstairs are wounded, but will survive," the Jaffa reported.

Jack smirked at spokesman for the group of foreign agents. "Okay, four wounded Chinese nationals. Wounded during the rescue of American citizens."

Xin remained silent. Ignored the mutinous glances from Yin Li and the others.

The wail of the ambulances moving up the driveway broke the sudden stillness that had fallen in the room. "Carter, get those medics in here. See to the old man first, he's in bad shape," Jack ordered.

"Yes, sir." Sam dashed out of the room, passing Ferretti as she headed for the door.

"Four pairs of handcuffs, Colonel," the Marine said.

"Cuff 'em, Dan-o."

Ferretti snickered.

"I do not understand this phrase," Teal'c said.

"It's from an old TV show," Jack explained. "Hawaii Five-O. Cop show. Every time the bad guys were captured, the star of the show would turn to his young novice partner, and say, 'Book 'em, Dan-o'."

One eyebrow went up. It was obvious that Teal'c still didn't 'get it'. Ferretti continued to chuckle, however, as he carefully handcuffed each of the men.




Casey gratefully accepted the bottle of water, took a long drink. Daniel had emptied his in half a dozen gulps. She was sitting on the floor of the helicopter, her legs hanging out of the open side, swinging them lazily back and forth. The two security teams that had accompanied SG-1 and SG-3 had set up a perimeter, keeping an eye out for anyone who might try to approach from the back or either side. There'd been no sound since 1 and 3 had entered the house. She had no idea if that was a good thing or not.

"They're coming out," the pilot said quietly, repeating the news to the waiting sheriff. That man gave a nod and a wave that he understood.

Jack led the way, looking like a little boy who'd won a game of hide-and-seek. He grinned cheekily as he approached the helicopter where the two rescued members of SG-1 waited. "So, did you figure that doohickey out?"

Daniel grinned, watched as Teal'c carried the artifact toward him. "Yep."


Casey burst into laughter. "Sex toy."

The colonel frowned. "Huh?"

"It's Yu's dildo," Casey giggled.

Daniel took the box, carefully opened it. Watched the faces of his teammates and those of SG-3 as they stared at the contents.

Sam was the first to react. "Oh, my god! It's a jade dildo!"

Ferretti snorted. Kid turned away from the group, and began to guffaw.

"You mean those stupid SOBs snuck into the country just to get the Doc to open this?" Lieutenant Driscoll asked, his eyes wide with disbelief.

"They thought it was a weapon," Daniel explained, grinning broadly.

"Yeah, imagine that. Death by willywacker," Casey intoned.

Jack howled with laughter. He clamped his hand on Daniel's shoulder. "Please tell me you laughed in their faces," he gasped.

"I couldn't help it," Daniel admitted. "I'd been worried that it really was a weapon, or a power source, neither of which needed to be in those hands. I was relieved that it wasn't, but I honestly had no idea what was inside until I opened it."

The sheriff approached, nodded in greeting. "Your boys tell me that you're the man in charge," he said to Jack.

"Colonel Jack O'Neill," he said, offering his hand.

"Sheriff Don Watson," the man replied. "We're taking the wounded to the hospital in town. You folks want us to keep an eye on them?"

Jack glanced at his watch. "By now there should be two or three federal agents heading this way. My mission was to get these folks out and take 'em home. I'd like to thank you for contacting Homeland Security," Jack said sincerely. "We wouldn't have found this group as quickly if you hadn't. Which might not have been such a good thing for Doctor Jackson and his wife."

Don smiled. "I'd rather have to apologize to foreign tourists for suspecting them of illegal activities, as explain to the people under my protection why I screwed up."

"Good point," Jack agreed. "Until the Feds contact you, toss the healthy guys in cells, keep a couple of men on each of the wounded."

The sheriff nodded. "Will do. Sure glad this is over," he said, shaking his head slightly. "I chose to work here for a reason."

"Quiet?" Jack asked.

"Downright boring. And I like it that way!" Don insisted.

"I hear that."

"Well, you folks have a safe flight back."

"Thanks." Jack watched the sheriff hurry back to the waiting deputies, shouting out his orders. "Let's go home, campers."


A  A  A  A  A  A


Showered, wearing the street clothes that she kept in her locker, noting grumpily that she'd have to remember to bring in fresh when she returned to work, Casey joined the others in the conference room for the debrief.

"This isn't going to take long, is it?" Daniel asked. "We haven't had anything but a sandwich since last night."  He didn't have to say out loud that his concern was not for himself, but for his Wife, who was still struggling to put back on the weight lost while she'd dealt with Dartal on the astral plane.

General Hammond shook his head. "No, Doctor, this shouldn't take long at all."

The archaeologist nodded. "There really isn't much to tell. The guy who broke into the house was wearing a mask. I could tell he was Oriental, but I'd have to hear them speak to know exactly which of the eight it was."

"I think he was surprised that the drug he used on us didn't take effect right away," Casey added.

"What I want to know is why Radar didn't see this coming," Jack groused.

"She did," Daniel replied quietly. The simple response had the others at the table all speaking at once, demanding to know why he and Casey hadn't said anything. "Look, she was freaked out enough by what was happening," he said, his tone of voice firm, rising above the other voices. "I didn't think it was anything to worry about at that moment. She didn't have the itinerary."

"I believe we understand," the general said gently. "However, in the future, anything out of the ordinary is to be reported immediately."

"Yes, sir," Casey said, most willing to agree. If she'd just called Jack or the general to begin with...although what she'd have told them, she hadn't a clue.

Daniel wasn't quite as enthusiastic, but nodded his acknowledgement. He didn't think it was necessary to tell the others about every little thing that might worry his Wife. Especially since she tended to be a bit overcautious when it came to him. He examined that thought for a moment, wrapped himself in the warmth that washed over him. He'd been a child of eight the last time he'd had someone worry about him with as much love as Casey did. Sam and Jack and Teal'c worried about him, he was aware of that. But not to the extent that she did.

Hammond picked up the piece of paper that had been laying on the table in front of him. "I have the names of the men involved. Le Kwan was the man in charge of this operation. He's one of the better known Political Bureau members. His opinion carries a lot of weight with the Secretary General. He's also a member of the Gui Qi."

Daniel frowned as he translated. "Gathering of Seven?"

"Yes, Doctor. It seems that this group of men are determined to move China front and center on the world stage," Hammond replied. "Mr. Kwan was operating with the full knowledge of his companions in that particular group, but not the knowledge or approval of any other government official."

"Sure. I believe in the Easter Bunny, too," Jack said drolly. "You can't tell me that this group of guys are the only ones who know about the artifacts and the Stargate."

"No, there are actually several branches of the government that are aware of our program," the general admitted. "However, they have no desire to say anything publicly, at least not yet. Of course, with this little...fiasco...we're going to be able to downplay all of the artifacts as being nothing more that items gathered at remote digs around the world, and that they've been duped."

"They'll keep quiet just to prevent anyone from knowing they were so easily tricked," Jack mused. "Good plan."

Daniel grinned. "They certainly aren't going to want to admit that what they were positive was a weapon was nothing more than a shrine for a jade phallus." Snickers moved around the table.

"Homeland Security and the State Department will handle the Chinese nationals. The artifact is back in our possession, and no one but SGC personnel saw it. Without that artifact to tie our program to this...infiltration, the SGC won't even be mentioned. So we can rest easier," Hammond said.

"So when the Chinese insist that they needed Daniel to translate something, won't it look odd when the Feds can't find anything?"

"We have a few spies in place, who will insist that Kwan and his men were attempting to coerce Doctor Jackson to accompany them to China to work on a project for them. Maps to Mexico, and for Mexico were located among their belongings, so we know that they planned to leave the country from there. Five lesser known points of entry were marked, meaning that they wished to cross with as little examination as possible."

"And it would have been easy to just toss Casey and Daniel in the trunk and drive over the border, especially if they chose one of the 'back roads'," Jack mused.

"Exactly," the general nodded. "Doctor Jackson's association with Cheyenne Mountain will add to speculation that the Chinese wanted him for a specific reason."

"Which they did," Sam observed.

"But not what will be released to the general public, or even to the politicians who will no doubt become involved. As of right now, the president doesn't plan to tell the Oversight Committee anything. The cover story has been put into place, and even if there are those who suspect something more is going on, it'll be impossible to prove," Hammond finished.

Casey's stomach rumbled loudly. She blushed brightly, lowered her eyes.

The general chuckled. "I think we've covered everything we need to for tonight. Written reports on my desk by the end of the week. Dismissed."

The team ambled to the elevator. "O'Malley's?" Jack asked casually.

"Sounds good," Daniel replied.

"I didn't get my 'Rooty-Tooty Fresh-n-Fruity breakfast," Casey complained.

Jack grinned. "IHOP it is. And you owe me."

Her grin matched his. "You got it, boss," Casey replied.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Kinsey watched as the man spoke quietly with Habib. One of the old priest's spies, no doubt. He'd have to learn the man's name, and try to intercept him before he reported to the priest again. He'd already been successful in turning two of the old man's spies, getting reports from the 'servants', telling them exactly how much to tell the priest. A third had thought to betray him, and was now dead, and carefully buried in the garden. It wouldn't take long until he controlled exactly how much Habib knew. And he'd be able to prove his worth to Tem.

Ares stood near the window. And watched the 'pet' of his lover. He shook his head mentally. Tem wasn't his lover. Oh, they were having sex regularly. But the Goa'uld was insane. Ares would use him until it no longer suited him, and then kill him. He'd debated on whether or not to poison Tem. The right combination of chemicals would kill the Goa'uld. A bit of time in the sarcophagus, and the host would be just fine. And then Thanatos...No. There was a much more suitable host that waited. He was certain that his friend and ally, and sometime lover, would most certainly agree. He shivered at the thought of controlling both Daniel Jackson, and his beautiful wife, Casey. A powerful seer, so he was told. As for the others of SG-1, the shol'va would be executed. As a warning to any other Jaffa who might think to turn against their god. Major Samantha Carter, he had no doubt that her intelligence would be most useful. There were two Goa'uld who would be perfectly suited for her. Their leader, Colonel Jack O'Neill...He would provide entertainment, until Ares grew tired of him.

"You're brooding again," Tem's voice said softly.

He glanced over his shoulder, watched the man walk into the room. "I am watching your pet as he spies upon your priest. Apparently he hasn't figured out yet that hiding in a room with large windows isn't hiding at all."

Tem smiled. "He is occupied. That is all that concerns me."

"He nags. You should cut his tongue out," Ares said.

"He has been most...faithful. And loyal. He does love me, you know."

Ares was well aware of the fact that Tem broke down his slaves, dehumanized them, then 'rebuilt' them, gave them life as it were, for which they were eternally grateful. He'd never had the time nor the patience that such training required. "Perhaps there are loyal Goa'uld among those who wait for a host. That would put an end to your pet troubles."

Tem frowned slightly. "I'm not sure I'm ready to do that."

"So you have thought about it," Ares prodded, anxious to know just exactly what Tem was planning.

"Yes," Tem sighed, "I've thought about it. He has no skills, other than his ability to anger those around him. Well, he does suck cock exceptionally well."

The smile that Ares gave held no warmth. "Then by all means, use him as a host! You have invested far too much time in him to simply kill him. And he's become nothing more than a nuisance, sneaking around, trying to usurp your priest. Who is a doddering old fool, by the way."

"And yours is not?" Tem challenged.

"He does as he is told. For now, that is enough," Ares replied easily.

Tem joined his lover beside the window. Watched Kinsey slip out of the room on the other side of the courtyard. "I will have Habib bring me a list of the Goa'uld who are ready for a host."

"Good." Ares turned to face the man beside him. "Go bathe, Tem. You reek of sex. We are having a guest for dinner tonight."

"We are?"

"Ba'al's ship approaches Thracia. When he is near enough, I will welcome him. I will speak with him, and learn all that he will tell me."

"And then?" Tem asked, when Ares paused.

"I will kill him."

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