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In an office deep inside the concrete walls of the Pentagon, a single lamp on the desk offered the only illumination. The occupant of the room stared at the two closed manila folders in front of him. A forensic report. Completed on a safe house in Pennsylvania. And detailed report on a certain SG-1 member.
With a sigh, he opened the first folder, pulled out the sheaf of typewritten pages. Began to read. Colonel Frank Simmons frowned. DNA from two individuals, both male, had been found at the top of the stairs. But there were no bodies. And when the fingerprints that had been collected were finally analyzed, the findings had been startling. There had been those of his agents, that was only expected. And of their...guest, also expected. Two sets which were unidentified, presumably belonging to the two deceased and missing...visitors. A single, distinct thumbprint. There had been no matches in the computer database. And several 'smears', what his experts believed were left behind by gloved fingers.
What had happened in that house? And where was Dennis Ballard? If Timothy Gold had taken the man, or had him taken, chances were he was dead. But how could Gold, whom he was positive was a Goa'uld named Tem, have found out where Ballard was? The defector had insisted that his employer purchased 'secrets' as he needed them, or wanted them; that any information Timothy Gold wanted was literally at his fingertips. Which then begged the question, had someone within the agency been compromised?
The frown deepened. The second report was very...interesting. Compiled from information gathered by an NID agent working for NORAD. The last spy in the SGC had been 'outed' by the newest SG-1 member. And it had proven to be damned difficult to get another agent inside Cheyenne Mountain. Nor had there been any success at 'turning' any of those assigned to the Stargate Program. It seemed that the 'Seer of the SGC' was more talented than they'd first believed. So much so, that it was possible that if he took her to that house, she could tell him exactly what had happened. There was even the chance she could tell him where Ballard was...if he was even alive.
He had no illusions...none of the people at the SGC would be cooperative. Especially those maddening individuals who made up SG-1. They'd never allow Casey Jackson out of their sight. The fact that the woman was never alone was proof of that. No doubt they suspected that he'd do exactly what he was contemplating doing. He had approached the president, requesting the seer's assistance in the matter of the missing informant. Was politely told that she was...unavailable. And that her work at the SGC was too important for her to be bothered with trifles such as traitors who'd disappeared from an NID safe house. He seethed silently. President Miller wouldn't be in office forever. And when he left, no doubt replaced by someone more...sympathetic...to the NID, he'd have full access to one Casey Jackson. And not even her husband would be able to stand in his way!
But, in the meantime, he needed to find Ballard. The man knew about Tem, and everything Ballard knew, he would know. To find that man, he needed Casey Jackson. The question was, could he succeed before they interfered? Kinsey had tried...and failed. The first attempt to take her had been a dismal failure - the man hired, Simmons thought angrily, had been an incompetent boob. Thus his decision to snatch the woman himself. He had no intention of failing. There was one way to guarantee her cooperation. And learn more about the physiology of a real alien. No doubt what former United States Senator Robert Kinsey had planned for the two women was rather...unpleasant. His own aspirations were less...brutal. Neither would be of any use to him dead, or incapacitated. But he wanted...and would have...full control over them.
With the help of Mrs. Daniel Jackson, he would unravel the mystery of what had happened in the safe house. And have access to all the information she had on a Goa'uld named Tem. He picked up the phone. "I need an immediate flight from Washington, D.C. to Denver, Colorado. Yes, I'll hold."
A A A A A A
"My Lord, we have word of what Anubis had been doing at his base of operations. He had discovered a way to...create...the perfect warrior, superior to even the most highly trained and skilled Jaffa." The spy accepted the glass of wine, sipped carefully.
"Tell me about these...warriors," Ba'al said, sitting back in his throne.
"They are clones. Controlled by Goa'uld that have been given only basic genetic information, enough that they are able to meld with the clone body, and obey instructions. The armor that Anubis created is nearly magical in its ability to absorb the energy of staff or zat'nik'tel blasts. These Goa'uld clones, wearing the new armor, are unstoppable. If you take control of them, My Lord, none will be able to stand against you."
Finally! Something that would see him the Supreme Leader of the Goa'uld! Tem's fleet had been taken, by his Jaffa. For all the good it had done him. They'd been destroyed...messages sent back to Menes, intercepted by Ba'al's own spies, had told of a power struggle between the First Prime and the High Priest. The fools had destroyed one another. Tem himself had returned to his home planet, no doubt catching up with all that had transpired since his disappearance, impotent to do more that rant about his destroyed ships. The spies had also told him that Lord Yu, whose territory surrounded that of Tem, was planning to kill the just-returned Goa'uld. One less annoyance to worry about, Ba'al thought idly.
"My Lord, Osiris knows of these warriors as well. You must move quickly, before she...he...takes control of them."
"I suppose so," Ba'al replied. "You have been very...helpful."
With a smile, the spy finished his wine. And fell dead within minutes, the quick acting poison performing admirably.
Soon, he'd be the most powerful of the Goa'uld. Very soon. As they always seemed to, Ba'al found his thoughts turning toward an even more pleasant subject. Casey Jackson. Twice he'd held her captive. Had been training her to be his slave. Twice she'd escaped him. He smiled automatically when he visualized those beautiful green eyes, that slender body...the talents that she possessed. He shuddered slightly. Truly a woman worthy of being a consort...
He stopped short, the wine he'd been pouring spilling over his hand, onto the floor. With a muttered curse he motioned for Shanda to clean up the mess he'd created. Of course! That was what had gone wrong! Such a beautiful woman, such an enchanting woman deserved more than a life of slavery. Even if she was treated well in his harem...he frowned. She understood her value. That could be problematic, but it was nothing that he couldn't handle. He was certain that was the reason she had fought him so, struggled against him every step of the way.
To be offered the position of consort to a god...no doubt she'd willingly come to his bed, stand at his side! Perhaps that was what she'd wanted from the beginning, when he'd had her attached to the web. How could he have been so blind? Hathor. She was wearing the perfume that Hathor always wore. That bitch had colored his judgment, even after all of the centuries that had passed after their final meeting. And when he'd recognized that perfume, he'd acted instinctively, spitefully. Rather than assessing the situation fully.
Casey would bewitch and beguile his enemies with her sweet scent, the Hathor-esque perfume that she wore; make them malleable to his plans and schemes. None would ever experience her, of course. She would be his, and his alone. He shivered again as his memory pulled forth the sensations that had raced through his body when her pink lips had closed around his aching flesh, when she'd used those soft hands and her warm mouth and had given him pleasure like he'd never experienced in that manner before. His cock twitched anxiously; he forced the memory away.
Shanda watched, could see that her Master was aroused. When she slipped to her knees in front of him, he frowned slightly, then nodded. She watched him close his eyes. Watched as the frown deepened when she began to make love to him.
No. It wasn't right. She wasn't doing it right! With a grunt of anger...of disappointment, Ba'al pulled away from the young woman. Grabbed a handful of black hair, yanked her to her feet. Shoved her toward the bed.
The young slave knew only that she'd displeased her god. That had never happened before! Always before when she touched him, he moaned and whispered that she was a good, faithful slave. But now...since that woman had entered his life...their lives, he was never satisfied. He fucked her; hard, brutally. But she could tell that even after he left his essence in her, his passion still burned. Would not be soothed by any of her caresses. Visits to his harem, which he had brought onto the ha'tak, nights that left her alone and in tears, had not brought him the gratification he sought...he returned as irritable as he'd been upon leaving.
"Present," he hissed. It was the only way he could find relief. The body beneath him offered no pleasure, no satisfaction. Not like he knew he'd find with Casey. Even in his present state of mind, he had no wish to torture his lo'taur. A bowl of olive oil remained from his meal. He dipped his fingers into it, coated his now raging cock, covered the dark brown opening that waited for him. He pushed, not waiting, not caring whether the woman beneath him was ready.
She bit back her gasp, pressed her face into the satin coverlet to muffle her moan. Tears of pain rolled down her tawny cheeks...pain not only in her ass, as it burned from the hard, deep thrusts of the man above her, but from the heartbreak she suffered. She'd nurtured the hope that if she pleased Ba'al, was the best lo'taur he'd ever owned, she could win his heart...his love. That he would love her as she loved him. Often when he took her, he would hold her afterwards. That was, until that woman with the golden hair had stolen his attention. Oh, how she wished she'd killed the bitch! She could have told Ba'al of the woman's escape attempt. It would have proven her loyalty, her love. And he would have loved her again!
He grunted, his hips moving him faster in and out of that tight, hot ass. He tried to surround himself with the memory of Casey's scent. It worked only long enough for him to reach his climax. Spent, he pulled away from his lo'taur, mindless of her pain, and collapsed on the bed. He said nothing as the young woman gently, lovingly cleaned him, then slipped away to bathe herself. He closed his eyes. He would have her. Casey Jackson would be his Consort.
A A A A A A
Jacob stared at Ren Au. Selmak took control of the body before he could begin uttering the curses that were flowing through his mind...riding the tide of anger and disbelief that the summons had wrought.
Ren Au was now the leader of the Tok'ra, one of three surviving Council members; the others killed in the sudden, surprise attack by Zipacna that had totally destroyed their base on Ravanna. She continued to hold the gaze of Selmak's host. Could see the anger in his eyes before the symbiote took control.
"Do you understand what you are asking?" Selmak asked, her voice calm, even though her own emotions were raging as much as those of her host.
"We do," Ren Au replied quietly. "However, if Ba'al discovers these...Super Warriors, before Karinda, as Osiris, can locate them, he will be unstoppable. We must not let the Goa'uld pursue this means of manipulation, they must not be allowed to create armies of these...creatures."
Casey Jackson had been right...again...Jacob thought. She'd sensed that Anubis had been creating something, and that whatever it was, it wasn't good. Ba'al's spy had been intercepted, the information taken from his mind using the serum that hindered receptors in the brain, rendering him unable to do anything other than answer their questions. He was left unharmed, with no memory of his capture, and able to report to his Master. But the Tok'ra had managed to learn his secrets first.
"You believe that Mrs. Jackson will be useful in locating Anubis' base," Selmak said.
"She has proven to be quite...adept."
Jacob snorted. "You realize that after what happened on the last joint mission, there is no way that Doctor Jackson will help us, nor will he allow his wife anywhere near us."
Ren Au frowned. "Surely the fact that his wife was returned unharmed to him will have eased his...frustrations."
"He was furious," Jacob corrected. "And he had every right to be. Casey damned near didn't survive her imprisonment the first time. He..." The older man shook his head.
"He what, Jacob?" Ren Au asked.
"As we followed Ba'al, waiting for our chance to rescue Casey, he told me that if anything happened to his wife, the Tok'ra should 'lose the address' for the SGC Stargate."
Every Tok'ra in the Council chamber stared at the Tau'ri. Several shifted uncomfortably. It was true that diplomatic relations with the people of the First World were problematic at best, and often the people of the SGC reacted to them with open hostility. Most of the Tok'ra assumed it was simply a lack of understanding of their ways...that as the Tau'ri learned more about them, understood them, that attitudes would change. This news was quite...disturbing.
"I had no idea," Ren Au whispered.
"Make no mistake, Daniel Jackson has one priority in his life. The protection of his wife. Understandable when you remember that the Goa'uld took his first wife, made her the host to Amaunet. Nothing will stand in his way, no action will be too extreme when it comes to Casey's safety," Jacob said, his voice holding as much warning as his words.
"Perhaps we should simply pass on the information," Selmak said quietly. "There is no doubt that the Tau'ri will be as anxious to see that these...Super Warriors...do not fall into the hands of any Goa'uld."
Ren Au nodded slowly. "See to it," she murmured. "And send Doctor Jackson our sincerest apologies."
Jacob nodded his head. Allowed Selmak to take control. 'Do you think they finally understand how precarious our position with the SGC is?'
'I hope so, Jacob,' Selmak replied. 'We must mend this rift that has occurred between your people and my own. Although I confess that I have no idea how to accomplish this.'
'I have an idea. I don't know if the Council will agree to it,' Jacob said.
The symbiote 'felt' the man 'open' his mind. She moved forward gently, careful to leave his private thoughts alone. She was surprised, but years of experience helped her to mask the emotion immediately. 'I believe that at this time, it is the only means that we have. Such a...gesture...can only help the situation.'
'I'll let you tell them,' Jacob replied dryly. It wouldn't go over well to hear from him that the Tok'ra needed to humble themselves and beg forgiveness from their Tau'ri allies.
A A A A A A
Major Ferretti stood at the front of the conference room of Warehouse Two. "You're here because you're the best. The top in your class. The fastest. The smartest. The most skilled. Look around you. Because at then end of six weeks, over half of the faces you see will be gone. Chances are, you'll be gone.
"In the folder in front of you, you will find three forms. Read them carefully. When you sign them, remember that you will be held to the agreement, that it is binding, and there is no time limit. Aeternus. That's Latin for 'everlasting'." He grinned mentally. He'd learned that little tidbit of information from Dr. Jackson, when that man had signed the disclosure agreements for the first time. "Be damned sure you can live with those terms before you sign. There will be no repercussions, nothing will be added to your service record if you decide you can't live with those conditions. You'll get on the bus and report to your previously assigned duty post. You'll forget about us, and we'll forget about you. Do you have any questions?" Twenty faces stared back at him. He couldn't help but grin at the emotions that played over each face, even as they all tried to hide their feelings. Curiosity. Fear. Determination. If half of them made it through training, he'd be surprised.
Within the confines of the SGC, the trainers weren't held as tightly to the rules that bound instructors and drill sergeants in the military boot camps that were spread across the country. Because what they did was life and death, no maybes or ifs or 'it could happen' scenarios. This was the real deal, and every SG team member who went through the Stargate had to be as prepared as the leaders could make them. For their own survival, and that of their teammates. This wasn't a game. They weren't playing soldier in the SGC. Training was harsh. Brutal. Sometimes cruel. It had to be, if those who managed to 'graduate' into the ranks of the SGC had any hope of surviving.
"Open the folder in front of you. Read carefully. If you sign the form, hand it to me on your way to the holding pen. If you don't, leave it on the table, and you will wait here for the SF who will take you back to the bus terminal." He'd carefully chosen a more...derogatory...term for the waiting room. Letting these cadets know just exactly how they were viewed at the moment. They were merely sheep, waiting to be led to slaughter. Only the strongest, the brightest, the bravest would survive.
The grizzled Marine crossed his arms over his chest. Watched as twenty young people began to read the very in-depth non-disclosure forms. Bit back his grin as each one of them glanced up at him as they read. Oh, they were dying to know just what the hell was going on! With the eyes of experience, he studied each of them. That one, kid has a bad attitude. He won't last a week unless he learns some respect. Damned good with computers though. The young woman in the corner...too much a Daddy's Little Princess. She'll never make it through the first off world training exercise. Mainly because the planet chosen was as nasty, and swampy and cold and miserable a place as they could find. There wasn't anywhere on this green Earth as lousy as P7R 093. Yep, a few hours in that hell hole and she'd be crying to go home. He'd seen it happen often enough. The football hero in the front row...has potential...but he'll have to quit riding on what he has been, and focus on who he is, and who he can become.
In one of the classrooms on Sublevel One of Warehouse Two, just down the hall from the conference room where the newly arrived cadets were being processed into the mountain, Colonel David O'Brien was preparing his introduction for the class he'd be teaching. He was a chemist by training, and had worked in Area 51 on several of the compounds that had been brought back to Earth by the SG teams of the Stargate program. He knew Major Carter by reputation only, but learned that she had requested that he be transferred to the SGC. He was finding the transfer quite...invigorating, and looked forward to meeting and working with the brilliant young major.
"Colonel O'Brien, may I speak with you?"
The redheaded man glanced up. Teal'c, the Jaffa - an honest-to-god alien, was standing just inside the door. "Of course. What can I do for you?"
"Doctor Lee and Doctor Felger were laughing at this, but were unable to explain it to me, in terms I could fully understand, when I inquired as to what was so humorous. They suggested that you might be able to do so."
O'Brien took the piece of paper, a single sheet printed from a computer. Glanced at it. Grinned. "I'll give it a try. What do you know about chemistry?"
Twenty minutes later the cadets in the conference room jumped when the silence around them was broken by the sound of a deep, rumbling laugh.
A A A A A A
General Hammond looked up, smiled when Casey tapped on the door. "Good afternoon, Casey," he said amiably.
"Good afternoon, sir," she smiled. As much as she wanted to, she resisted the urge to ask the general if he'd thought about the offer that had been made. She knew that it was probably all he'd been thinking about, if not consciously, then subconsciously.
"We have several..." he broke off when he saw that her head was tilted to the side. "Casey?"
For several minutes she stood in the doorway, as images...symbols...danced in front of her. "It doesn't make sense!" she muttered.
"What doesn't make sense, Casey?" By now the general had a bit of experience dealing with the young seer when she was in one of her...trances. When her hand began to make writing motions, he jumped up, led her to the desk, put a pen in her hand, a writing pad beneath it. She was still frowning, staring into the distance as she began to make marks on the paper.
"It doesn't make sense," she repeated.
He stared at the figures...the symbols...she'd drawn. After his time as commander of the SGC, he'd learned a few things. Of the three symbols she'd drawn, he recognized two of them. No doubt the scientists of SG-1 would recognize and understand the significance of all three. "Casey, do you want to wait to go over the MALP reports?"
She blinked. "Do what?"
The older man smiled. "Let's go over these reports, then I'll call Doctor Jackson and Major Carter to join us."
He pointed to the paper.
"I hate it when that happens," she muttered. She reached for the first folder, dropped it when the klaxons began to wail.
"Let's see what's going on," General Hammond sighed. Led the way to the control room. He glanced at the young woman. There were none of the telltale signs that she was sensing anything.
"Message from General Carter, sir," Walter informed them. The Goa'uld text moved over the screen.
"Call SG-1," General Hammond replied. The order was unnecessary. The four members of the team slid into the control room.
"Sir?" Sam asked.
"A message from your father, Major."
Daniel was already leaning over Walter's shoulder, reading as the text scrolled. "It's a report. They intercepted one of Ba'al's spies. This is all of the information they were able to get from him."
Nervous glances were exchanged. "And they're giving a copy to us because...?" Jack asked suspiciously.
"According to them, they're simply complying with the terms of our agreement, that all information concerning the Goa'uld be shared between us," Daniel replied.
The snort of derision was not unexpected. "Since when do they care about our treaty?"
"I have no idea...this is not good," Daniel said softly. "Seems that Casey was right. Anubis was creating something. 'Super Warriors'."
"I don't understand," General Hammond said.
"According to this, Anubis was creating the perfect warrior. He created clones; human, or at least humanoid, or so it says here, introduced Goa'uld symbiotes to...animate...them. Only these symbiotes are...it seems that they aren't imbued with the full genetic memory of the Goa'uld. Somehow the female giving...birth...to them, is able to keep them from having more than just basic abilities."
"So? Therefore? This means what?" Jack asked.
Daniel stood up. "The report says the symbiotes are capable of little more than following orders...blind obedience, because they don't have the capacity to do anything else. And, Anubis apparently has...had...built some impressive armor to put these clone hosts and their symbiotes into. This...armor...can absorb zat and staff blasts."
"Holy Hannah," Sam whispered.
"Super Warriors," Casey said softly.
"According to the spy, if he...or she...can be believed, there are several hundred of these...things...just waiting for orders. No idea if more are being created; but if Ba'al finds that lab, he'll have the means to create more."
"Not to mention the fact that every other snake will be after that information," Jack grumbled. "They'd be willing to bow down to him in order to gain access to the knowledge. They'll stab him in the back first chance they have, of course, that's just the way snakes are."
"This could totally change the tide of the war against them," General Hammond said worriedly.
"Yeah, in their favor," Jack retorted. "We have to stop this."
"Which is exactly why the Tok'ra sent the information," Casey said quietly. All eyes swung to her. "They wanted us to work with them...with...with Karinda."
Anger flared in Daniel's eyes. "It's a good thing they didn't ask," he growled.
"I agree, Doctor Jackson," General Hammond said. The last mission had shone a bright light on the dismissive attitude the Tok'ra seemed to have when it came to the safety of his people. He didn't like that one bit!
"Karinda...Osiris, will continue to look for the planet...the lab," Casey continued. She whirled to face the general. "Location!" She ran out of the room, heading for the general's office. Her teammates and the base CO were right behind her. She grabbed the pad of paper, thrust it at Daniel. "Location!"
Daniel examined the symbols. One was a glyph from the Stargate...the twenty-sixth glyph to be exact. Cetus. The next was an ankh, the Egyptian symbol of life. The third he didn't recognize. "Sam?"
The blonde major examined the symbol. "I'm sorry, I don't recognize this."
Jack looked over their shoulders. "It looks like a compass marking," he mused. "Astronomical," he added, with a slight shrug of his shoulders. "It's the type of mark a lot of amateur astronomers use to mark their notes."
Again, all eyes focused on Casey. "Don't look at me," she exclaimed. "I don't even remember drawing those!"
Daniel couldn't help but smile. "Any clues?"
She shrugged. "It's a location."
"You've already said that."
Sam frowned. "Colonel, exactly which compass marking is this?"
Jack studied the hastily drawn symbol. "Northeast."
"Cetus," Daniel murmured. "It's a water constellation, like Aquarius."
Sam turned to the star map that was spread on the window between the briefing room and the general's office. "Sir, if we take these two symbols literally, we can limit our search to this area," she said, pointing to map. "There are twelve Stargates in this sector."
"So what about the ankh?" Daniel asked. "It's the symbol of life, how would that fit in?"
"Well, technically, there is life being created in that lab," Sam pointed out.
"What concerns me is the armor that these Super Warriors are wearing," General Hammond sighed. "If the other Goa'uld get their hands on just the armor it will cause us no end of problems."
"It might absorb energy blasts, but armor piercing bullets will punch right through," Jack said confidently.
"I certainly hope so," the general replied. "I want a mission brief prepared by thirteen hundred."
"Yes, sir," Jack said. "Major, which one of those 'gates is going to take us to the mad scientist's lab?"
Sam studied the star map. Turned to Casey. "Any ideas?"
The slender blonde shook her head. "Sorry."
His premier team was doing what they did best. And there were still mission files to go over with the 'resident seer'. "Casey, shall we finish with those MALP reports?"
She smiled. "Yes, sir."
General Hammond turned to Sam. "I trust your instincts. If it feels right, that's where you'll go."
"Yes, sir," Sam said. She studied the map. Focused her attention on the northeast section of the Cetus constellation. She sat down at the computer, pulled up the designations for each of the twelve planets. Four had already undergone MALP investigations. None of the four could support life. Which left eight planets. She studied the placement of each. Three she eliminated by following their orbit. The planets would move too close to their sun to be safe. Computer analysis had been performed, showing that several hundred thousand years ago, when the Stargates had been placed on the surface of each planet, the orbits were wider, safer. Something had happened to alter the entire system. She didn't have time to investigate that very interesting anomaly. Which left five possible planets.
Daniel continued to stare at the ankh that Casey had drawn. It was the only symbol that didn't have to do with star charts, by way of compass points or Stargate glyphs. It stood alone. But could it be a marker of some sort as well? He glanced at the star map. Watched Sam for a few minutes. The placement of six stars caught his attention. "Uh, Sam?"
"Take a look at this." He held the piece of paper up beside the stars.
"Wow," Sam said softly. The stars were in the northern most sector of the Cetus constellation. A few keystrokes and an inquiry provided information about each of the star systems. Of the six star systems, three had planets that were on her list, part of the five with Stargates that she'd narrowed down from the list of twelve. "Three planets. It has to be one of them. We have three MALP's," she said excitedly, already heading for the stairs that led to the control room.
Forty minutes later, they'd narrowed the search to two possible planets. UAV scans had indicated that both had artificial power being generated beneath the surface.
"Is it possible that Freaky Face had two labs?" Jack asked, frowning at the images from the first UAV investigation.
"Anything is possible," Sam replied.
"I doubt he'd have been able to convince more than one female Goa'uld to become a breeder for him," Daniel said.
"Unless he threatened them," Sam countered.
"How's it going?"
Daniel looked up, smiled as Casey entered the control room. "We could use some help."
"We were able to narrow our search to two planets, thanks to your...insight," Sam smiled. "I don't suppose you could take a look and tell us which one it is?"
"I can try. Let me do a search," the young seer suggested.
Glances were exchanged. Eventually all eyes were on Jack. He studied Casey. It made him nervous every time she closed her eyes and did...whatever it was that she did. Knowing that he, that Daniel...that no one could help her if anything went wrong scared him shitless. He wasn't exactly sure what could possibly happen to her...but undoubtedly there were dangers out there...wherever she went. The information each of her searches had procured had been instrumental in helping them find and locate Tem; in saving Dennis Ballard from that sick bastard. No doubt anything she could offer would be of immense value now. "Be damned careful," he said quietly.
She took a deep breath. Centered herself. Felt Daniel step behind her, wrap his arms around her waist. She allowed herself to lean back against him, took comfort from the warmth, the strength of his body.
"We have a bit of a problem."
"Seems you have a lot of those."
"Comes with the job," Casey smiled.
"Do what you need to do, Sunshine."
With a nod of understanding, she closed her eyes. Nothing happened. She frowned, once again centered herself. And again nothing happened. "What's wrong?"
The old woman frowned as well. "I don't know. You keep trying. I'll be right back."
In a blinding flash of light the old seer disappeared. Casey took a deep breath. "I don't know who you are, but you've just pissed off the wrong person," she muttered. She began to think only about the symbols she'd drawn. The image of the star chart Sam had pointed to.
So suddenly that she let out a squeal of surprise, she felt herself hurtling toward the star system...and the planet where Sam suspected Anubis had hidden his base.
Jack, Sam, Daniel and Teal'c exchanged nervous glances. Her softly murmured protest had made all of them jump with dread. Who...or what...was she facing? When she'd cried out, Daniel had assured his teammates, and himself, it was surprise, and nothing more. God, let it just be surprise, he thought frantically. As much as it worried Jack when she did this, it terrified him one hundred times more.
Her eyes were moving rapidly beneath her closed eyelids, as if she were in deep, REM sleep. Her breathing became fast, and shallow. Sam reached out to take her pulse. Her heart was beating incredibly fast.
"What?" Jack asked worriedly.
"I don't know," Sam replied softly. "But I think we should get a med team in here, just in case."
Daniel felt his heart leap into his throat. Never again. He was never letting her do this again. It was just too damned dangerous. And there was no way he could bear to lose her.
She continued to move quickly over the surface of the planet. What was that moon where the little teddy-bear like creatures from Star Wars had lived? She couldn't remember the name. But this place looked exactly like the movie depiction of that moon.
The prickle of being watched sent a shiver over her slender frame. She glanced over her shoulder. Didn't expect to see anything, or anyone. And she didn't. However, that uneasy feeling faded somewhat. She was 'running' along a river when she realized what had happened. She stopped suddenly, whirled around. "Okay, damn you! You want to play games? Let's play games!"
She darted into the heavy undergrowth near the river, past trees that were as big as houses. Redwoods, her mind suggested. Whatever, she panted. She didn't have time to stop and identify the local flora. She paused, hiding behind a low, wide bush. Tried to control her breathing, just the way Teal'c had taught her to do.
"Be careful, Angel, please!"
The smile that brightened her face was automatic when that soft, sexy voice echoed in her ears. "I promise," she whispered.
Daniel smiled weakly when her soft voice responded to his request...his demand...his plea.
Jack glanced at the clock. Three minutes. She'd only been...gone...wherever she was...for three damned minutes, and already they were scared shitless and standing around helplessly. Oh, this was so not good!
Using the technique that Sam and Jack had taught her, she began to carefully examine the path behind her, watching for anything that was...out of place. Unusual. Not supposed to be...okay, that was freaky as hell!
She watched silently as leaves and vines began to move as if something...or someone...was brushing against them, walking by them. Now this just wasn't fair! How was she supposed to fight something she couldn't even see?
"There are always options, Casey," she remembered Jack telling her. "Try not to panic, because panic will just blind you to those options. Examine the problem. Then try to come up with the quickest, simplest solution."
Okay, if the Invisible Man...or Woman, wanted to play this
way, she'd just have to find a way to level the playing field. If her pursuer
had some sort of force field that rendered him...or her...invisible, was there a
way to make that field itself show up?
The being...creature...whoever or whatever it was, had started moving toward the left. Apparently there was something that made him...her...it...whatever! believe that she'd headed in that direction. Was it possible to sneak up behind...it?
Probably not a good idea, she thought. Until she knew exactly what she was dealing with, she needed to keep away from it. As quietly as possible, she began to move deeper into the hedge. She flattened herself on the ground, wiggled around stumps and roots and the trunks of the bushes. Managed to crawl out the other side, and left a trail that only an expert tracker would see.
She began to run again. She had no idea where she was. Or where she was going. All she knew was that she couldn't be here!
When the forest ended abruptly, opening onto a wide, grassy plain, she almost moaned. How in the hell could she stay hidden out there? Memories, unbidden, unwanted, flashed through her mind. She pushed them away, closed her ears to the echoes of the tortured screams. She didn't have time for this!
A quick glance around afforded her two options...move forward and risk exposure, or head back into that forest. She opted for the latter. Just as she was about to turn, the sound of metal grinding against metal had her dropping to her knees, tightening her body into as small a ball as she could get.
Two Jaffa seemed to just...appear...on the grassy field not more than twenty feet from her. She watched as they walked a few yards, heard one of the Jaffa speak...almost gasped out loud when a Goa'uld transport ship shimmered into visibility. Cloaked ship! How damned many of them were in that field? And could she find that door before whoever, or whatever was pursuing her, found her?
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