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Peering over the edge of the balcony, Jack began to mutter curses beneath his breath.
"There are fewer down there, now," Casey whispered.
Fewer? Daniel glanced at his Wife, then back to the floor below them. The Super Warriors, clad in their black armor, faces hidden from view behind what looked more like motorcycle helmets than the helms usually reserved for Jaffa, were gathered in groups of fifty. There were at least that many groups. And there were more?
Casey motioned that they should all look up. Could sense the shock that each of them felt as they stared at a ship larger than any of them had ever seen.
Son-of-a-bitch! Damned near the size of Colorado, Jack thought. How in the hell were they supposed to take that thing out? His gaze moved back down to the floor below. Another group of the Super Warriors were being lifted into the ship. Just like Casey had described. No doubt there hadn't been a slow down in the transportation of the abominations during the time it had taken them to locate the planet, for Radar to do her thing and find this place, and their lovely hike through the forest. A quick count told him there were twenty-five hundred or so waiting. How many were already on that ship? A thousand? Two thousand? Ten thousand?
Sam tried to ignore the feeling of utter helplessness as she watched another group of ten lifted into the ship. Her original idea of getting on board and reprogramming the hyperdrive engines seemed like nothing more than a pipe dream now. For the first time in six years, she truly questioned their chances of pulling off a 'miracle'. Always before they'd found a way out, a way around, or through, or over...they always managed to find that rabbit, and yank it out of the hat. Sometimes they were all a little worse for wear, but they always survived...always won. If that ship left this planet, loaded with those warriors, whoever controlled them literally controlled the galaxy. And that included Earth.
"Hey, look," Daniel whispered.
All eyes moved in the direction he pointed. They were far enough away that her features weren't clear, but there was no doubt that the woman with long, dark hair was in charge. Or at least, she pretended to be. She moved among the warriors, stopping now and again. She was saying something, but she was too far away for them to be able to make out her words.
They all bit back grins when she paused in front of one group, only to have them move toward the transport elevator, moving past her as if she didn't exist. Her stance - hands on her hips - told them that the woman wasn't happy about the situation.
"You're right, she can't control them," Jack grinned. That was a bit of a break, anyway. And right now, he'd take all the breaks he could get, no matter how small.
"It's possible that the ship will only respond to Anubis as well," Sam whispered.
"Keyed to his fingerprints or voiceprint," Daniel mused.
"Or just password protected," Casey quipped.
Sam's head jerked toward her teammate. "Say what?"
"Um...I just said maybe his ship is password protected."
"Like his goons," Sam replied. "We just have to figure out the password. If we can get onto that ship, we can take this entire place out."
"I like that," Jack replied. "Just one question. How the hell are we supposed to get out?"
"Still working on that part, sir," Sam admitted.
"From the looks of it, that armor isn't going to help much. Those things are already processed," Ferretti said.
How hard would it be to take out nine of those things, and slip in...Jack's eyes went to Sam and Casey. Too slender. Sam was nearly tall enough to pull it off, but Casey wasn't. Okay, so how would they get Casey on board?
Whether it was Fate, or coincidence, his eyes were drawn to the transport elevator just as three Jaffa wheeled in two large crates. When the elevator platform lowered, the Jaffa pushed past the warriors, and positioned the crates. Apparently the black clad goons were smart enough to understand that the platform was full.
He grinned. "We need to get Sam and Casey into a couple of those crates. Teal'c, you and Daniel need to find a couple of Jaffa costumes. The rest of us need to find some of that armor."
"I get the crate for Casey and me, and having Daniel and Teal'c pose as Jaffa, but how are you going to fit in with them?" Sam asked, nodding toward the precisely lined soldiers.
Jack pointed to a door on the wall adjacent to the elevator platform. A group of warriors was led into the room by two Jaffa. He'd seen the same thing happen a few minutes earlier, but it hadn't immediately registered in his mind.
"Right," Sam grinned.
"One problem, how do Teal'c and I get on board?" Daniel asked.
"You can ride up with the crate," Jack replied.
"We haven't seen that happen," Daniel argued.
"From the looks of things down there, nobody is going to object," the older man countered.
"One more problem," Casey said. "What about Miss Pissy-pants?"
Jack frowned. Watched as the woman continued to wander among the warriors. "Does it seem to you that even the Jaffa are ignoring her?"
"Indeed," Teal'c replied.
"That doesn't make sense," Casey said.
"Unless the Jaffa are also...programmed...to obey only Anubis," Teal'c said.
Jack took one final look at the Super Warriors, the ship and the activity below them, then jerked his thumb over his shoulder. The teams retreated into the darkness of the tunnel that had brought them inside.
"Okay, T, is it even possible to do that?" Jack asked as soon as they were together. He nodded when Ferretti pointed toward the opening of the corridor with the muzzle of his P90. The Marines would stand guard while SG-1 worked on a plan.
"It is possible. I have never known of any Goa'uld who
have done such a thing. But I have heard stories about it, passed down from one
generation of Jaffa to the next."
"What story, Teal'c?" Daniel asked.
"That a Goa'uld of great power, afraid that his enemy had recruited his own Jaffa against him, implanted a device on the neck of each of them. They were helpless to fight against it, any deviation from their assigned tasks resulted in great pain, and even death."
Jack frowned. That sounded similar to the device that had been planted on Ortega. Which reminded him, he needed to check his email and see how that little black op was going. "Okay, I'll buy it," he said. Ignored the surprised looks from his 'kids'. Jack had never been one to put a lot of faith in stories and myths. "What? Do we have any other choices?"
"Not really," Daniel replied. "Of course, by not knowing for certain, we could just get ourselves killed."
"Let's find that lab. We'll set the timers to give us a chance to get onto that ship. When the explosives go off down here, anyone who can think for himself...or herself...will be busy trying to deal with it," Jack said.
"Diversion," Sam nodded.
"Carter will do her thing on those hyperdrive engines, and then we'll ride that platform back down. Those things down there aren't even going to notice."
"If I can find and set the self destruct on that ship, it will take this entire place out," Sam said.
"Better than the hyperdrive engines," Jack nodded. He glanced at the faces of those who trusted him, who waited for him to give the order. "Let's do it."
The teams split up, SG-1 went to the left, SG-3 to the right. Whoever found the lab first would radio. Hopefully they'd also find the hiding place for the armor that those things were wearing. It had to be stored somewhere!
Casey followed Daniel, could feel Teal'c directly behind her. She bit back a smile. If she stopped now just to tie her bootlaces, no doubt one of them would simply pick her up and toss her over a shoulder!
The hallway had surprisingly few doors. Two were locked. They'd check them out later. There were several doorways, which opened onto large rooms that appeared to be some sort of barracks. There were signs of habitation, but all were blessedly empty.
At the end of the hall were stairs that led down. What they were looking for was possibly on the main level of this facility. Jack radioed Ferretti. The Marines had had no more luck in locating the lab or the armor supply room than SG-1. Carefully, as quietly as possible, the team made their way toward the lower level.
When the familiar clank of armor echoed behind them, moving closer, five pairs of eyes darted around frantically, searching for a place to hide. Teal'c motioned toward what appeared to be a supply closet of some sort. It was barely large enough for the five of them.
"They've got memory devices on their temples," Daniel whispered. The small device was familiar to all them, save for Casey. Hathor and her minions had used them on the team when trying to convince them that they'd been in cryogenic suspension for seventy-nine years...an attempt to learn the access codes to the SGC. Martouf had used the device on Sam to help her access Jolinar's memories of Sokar, and his hellish planet Netu, in order to mount a rescue of Jacob Carter/Selmak. From experience, they knew that the devices, once implanted, were not easily removed, especially if the device was 'locked' by the person doing the implantation.
"That's how he maintains control of them," Jack replied.
"It would seem that those who obey Anubis, may not yet be aware of his death," Teal'c observed.
"If he's as paranoid as Sarah..." Daniel broke off...then shook his head. Even thinking about her brought a rush of anger that he struggled to control. "Karinda said that Anubis wouldn't allow anyone near him that he didn't trust implicitly."
"I'd say Freaky Face was just too damned paranoid to take the risk of one of these goons turning on him," Jack mused.
"Or being turned against him," Sam said.
"This can work to our advantage," Jack said. "If those guys have been...programmed...for certain tasks, there's no way they can deviate, right, Teal'c?"
"That is correct, O'Neill."
"You know he'll have programmed in guarding the place," Daniel pointed out dryly.
"I dunno, Daniel. I'm thinking that might be what the tin men on the surface are for. Goa'uld are all arrogant sons-of-bitches. Never believe their strongholds can be infiltrated. Hell, nobody even knows where this place is...we wouldn't know if not for Radar!" Jack replied.
The team cast grateful glances at their young teammate. Who blushed at the silent praise that filled their eyes.
"So these guys will continue to work, no matter what we do?" Daniel asked, both eyebrows raised in disbelief.
"No, I never said that," Jack said. "But they might not be as...alert...as guards would be."
Daniel glanced at his wife. "Can you 'see' anything?"
She shook her head. "Sorry," she whispered.
"Colonel?" Ferretti's voice whispered on their radios.
"Go ahead, Major," Jack replied.
"We found it, sir. Big ugly looking thing in a tank. And a shit load of some kind of tubes...and you won't believe what's in 'em."
"Where are you?"
Ferretti gave the coordinates from his GPS. Sam keyed it into the small, palm-sized computer she carried. "They're on the other end of that hanger."
"Back up and over," Jack instructed.
Following their CO, Teal'c covering their six, the team moved back up the stairs. Casey shivered as they traversed the long corridor. It ran the length of that massive...hanger...or whatever it was, she thought silently. So far that little voice had remained silent. She could 'hear' nothing that alerted her to any changes around them. Those two facts did nothing for her nerves. She tightened her grip on her P90. Knowing that she was armed as they wandered around Anubis' secret base comforted her, somewhat. She'd be a lot happier when they'd accomplished what they needed to do and were safe and sound at the SGC!
Willy Lopez was waiting just outside a large doorway. "Welcome to the Freak Show," he murmured.
Daniel bit back his gasp. According to his very quick count, there were one hundred of the tubes of which Ferretti had spoken. That man and his team stood in the middle of the room, still as slack-jawed as the members of SG-1 felt. The tubes were filled with some sort of greenish fluid...oxygenated if the bubbles that rose from the bottom was any indication. And...floating...in that fluid were the clones the spy had reported. Their limbs and torsos appeared humanoid, although no sex organs were visible. Apparently reproductive organs weren't necessary. The face...he shuddered. There was no visible muscle over the bones of the faces. Just a whitish skin-like covering. The eyes were strange as well, the irises pale blue and very large.
Ferretti was standing beside a tank, at least eight feet by eight feet, and almost as tall as well. Inside was the long, bloated body of a Goa'uld queen...a breeder that was capable of bringing forth nearly one hundred symbiotes with each birthing cycle. With as many of the Super Warriors as they'd seen, and suspected existed, this particular Goa'uld had been very busy...for a very long time.
When Casey approached the tank, the creature within began to thrash about. Her head tilted in that familiar way.
"Incoming," Jack murmured.
"She's exhausted," Casey said softly. "Anubis hasn't allowed her time to recuperate between each...hatching."
"My heart bleeds," Daniel hissed.
"We can't let that...thing...live," Jack said pointedly.
Casey turned to face him. "She's not going to live much longer anyway. She knows that. She's nearly at term now. And when the hatching occurs..." she shook her head.
"What happens then?"
"If the symbiotes aren't removed from the tank immediately, they'll attack her...kill her...consume her."
"Oh, that is just gross," Jack complained.
Daniel stared at the creature. Remembered clearly the sepulcher of young he'd destroyed on Chulak. Was just as willing to destroy this queen and her unborn spawn of evil. A bit dramatic, he admitted to himself, as the thought flittered across his mind. But that was exactly how he viewed them. There was no sympathy. No empathy. Just deep, burning hatred. For all he knew, this queen was the very creature who'd spawned Amaunet. The damned Goa'uld that had taken Sha're from him. Changed her. Killed her. He wasn't even aware of raising his P90 until Jack gently pushed the barrel down.
"Not yet, Danny," the older man said softly.
"So they take the symbiotes out of there, and then what?" Sam asked.
Teal'c pointed to another vat, where dozens of symbiotes swam in lazy circles. "It appears that they are left to mature here."
Casey was still staring at the queen. "There's something in that water. It makes them mature faster."
"Then what?" Daniel asked. "They just drop them into the tubes with those...things?" He pointed over his shoulder at one of the clones.
"It would seem so," Teal'c replied.
"When the blending is complete, the clone is then...born..." Casey said softly. "It knows only what the queen has allowed the symbiote to learn."
"How can she alter genetic memory?" Sam demanded to know.
"I have no idea," Casey answered.
An alarm began to sound above them. They looked around, not quite panicked...not yet. Seven of the tubes had lights flashing above them. The fluid that filled the tank was slowly draining.
"We need to get out of site, campers," Jack said.
"Will she...will that queen tell them that we're here?" Daniel asked Casey.
Casey looked at the queen. Felt an odd sort of connection with the creature, as if she could hear its thoughts.
So tired, so very tired. Not right...it is not right to withhold from the young all that they should know...they are gods...not to be treated as slaves...kill him...kill him...kill him.
She closed her eyes. Concentrated on images of the armored clones. The huge ship. When images of Anubis, sitting on his throne in the grand ball room flashed through her mind, the creature became more agitated still.
Hide, the creature seemed to tell her. Hide yourself. Hide.
"No," Casey said softly. "She won't alert them." Carefully tucked the images of Anubis's death in the far corners of her mind. She didn't want the creature aware that her tormentor was dead. Not yet.
A A A A A A
The SUV screeched to a halt in front of the school. With determination born of fear...of anger, Janet hurled herself from the driver's seat, slammed the door shut and activated the locks as she ran toward the wide, double door of the school. Locked! Oh, god, no! "Cassie! Cassie!" she called, racing toward the windows she knew to be those of the office. Please, she thought, let somebody be here!
The door opened, and Cassie hurried out. "Mom?"
Janet whirled around. "Oh, Cassie!"
Once again the young woman took comfort from the arms of her mother. Clung tightly to the diminutive woman who'd faced down Nirrti to protect her.
"Are you all right, baby?"
"I'm fine, Mom," Cassie replied, a bit shakily.
"Let's go. We're going to stay on base for a day or so. Just until the general can take care of this."
"You won't get any arguments from me," Cassie replied.
He was standing just outside the door of the diner when Janet crawled back into the vehicle. When her brown eyes locked on his, he gave a mock salute. I'll get her yet, he thought smugly. I'm not as inept as Kinsey.
Janet took a deep breath. Blew it out slowly. Rolled down the window beside her. Stared daggers at the NID agent. "If you're smart, you'll be back in D.C. before General Hammond speaks to the president."
"Is that a threat, Doctor?"
"No. But this is. Come near my daughter, and I'll cut your balls off with a rusty knife and leave you to bleed to death!' Janet spat.
Simmons smirked. "Be careful, Doctor Fraiser. Threats like that can cause you no end of trouble."
"Only if someone else cuts your balls off with a rusty knife!" Without another word, Janet rolled up the window, started the engine. Threw one more furious look at the man, and then drove away.
Simmons scowled. It wouldn't be as convenient, but he'd just have to take the girl from the school. His NID badge assured him that he'd be given full custody of the teen. No one in that provincial school would dare to stand against a government agent! As soon as he had young Cassandra Fraiser, Casey Jackson would cooperate fully in order to protect her. They would all cooperate. He knew where they lived. He'd go back to his room and rest. And then be ready to pick the young alien up tomorrow, first thing in the morning.
A A A A A A
Ba'al went over the report the now deceased spy had given him. It was full of flattery and flowery lines. The man must have been a repressed poet, the Goa'uld huffed impatiently. No more actual facts than the report contained, they should be much easier to find! There. Coordinates. Only two of the three he needed. Well, he had an idea where to start, thanks to his spy at the SGC. Yet another dead spy, he thought idly. Pity. It would have been so useful had the man remained at the SGC. Eventually he'd have gotten the codes to that damned iris of theirs. Which would have made taking the facility quite easy for his Jaffa.
"Your orders, My Lord?" the Jaffa nearest him asked.
"Take us to the Saggita quadrant."
"Yes, My Lord."
He sat on his throne, his heart racing with excitement. Soon. Very soon, he'd be the most powerful Goa'uld in the galaxy. The smile that crossed his face was cruel. Those who had opposed him for so long would suffer greatly for every wrong they'd done to him.
"My Lord, our spy among the Tok'ra reports that they also seek the secret base where Anubis had his operations. What information they have was shared with the Tau'ri. It is believed that even now the Tau'ri are on their way to this base," the First Prime said quietly.
Tau'ri. Casey Jackson. Did he dare hope? To find those Kull Warriors...'super' warriors that Anubis created, and take the beautiful blonde? Yes, it was possible. He was Ba'al, was he not? "Very good. When Casey Jackson is located, bring her to me. Treat her with the utmost respect, for she shall be my Consort."
"Yes, My Lord." If the Jaffa was surprised, he never let on. Nor would the disappointment he felt ever make its way to his face or eyes. He would comfort himself with the thought that he'd had his god's consort before his god. A thought that would give him great pleasure for many nights to come.
Ba'al narrowed his eyes. "Do not think that I am unaware of what fills your mind, Ar'tak."
The man flinched slightly.
"A woman worthy to be the consort of a god must be tested. Casey Jackson surpassed all of my expectations. When I take her as my own, she will be as pure as the day she was born. Do you understand?"
"Yes, My Lord." Ar'tak didn't question his god. No doubt Ba'al would even see fit to give the woman a hymen once again, so that on her wedding night, she might give herself wholly and untouched to her god.
He never should have tried to train her has a slave, Ba'al thought angrily. Certainly shouldn't have let so many of his men fuck her. He'd have to think about this. Surely there was a way to turn that fact to his advantage. He'd talk to Balathu. The priest was always eager to find ways to maneuver facts around for the benefit of his god. Yes, that was a very good idea. He rose to his feet. Nothing like starting the fool to work on the problem as soon as possible.
The rooms had been decorated to resemble the main temple to Ba'al on Babylonia. Balathu was carefully going through each step of the afternoon worship ceremony. He didn't need a time keeper, or even a sun, to know what the time was. Years of carefully observing the rites of Ba'al had ingrained the time into his heart, his very soul. It was his subservience, his devout faithfulness that had seen him move up through the ranks of the priests; had put the crown of High Priest upon his head.
The man turned, dropped to his knees when Ba'al entered the room. His heart hammered, as it did every time he was in the very presence of his god. "How may I serve thee, My Lord?"
"You are aware that I held a prisoner. A woman. A woman of great beauty, fit to be the Consort of a god. But I wanted proof that she was worthy of me, the greatest of all gods. Twice I tested her. Twice she proved herself. Part of her testing was to do all that I demanded of her. Including allowing my Jaffa to take her. I have decided that I will take this woman to my side. I will purify her. What rite do you suggest?"
Balathu searched his mind, through all of the many rites and rituals that were required in the worship of Ba'al. It was very simple, really. A rite that had been performed by the priests in order to make Jaffa worthy of carrying symbiotes, just before the Rite of Prim'ta. "My Lord, if you were to bathe her, wash her body yourself, in view of all of your people, they would see that you could indeed cleanse her of all that had been her past. Making her...pure...once again. Worthy to be taken to the side of her god."
Ba'al smiled. "Very good. Make arrangements for the ceremony to be held as soon as we return to Babylonia."
"Yes, My Lord." Balathu watched the Goa'uld leave the room once again. Something tickled the back of his mind. Something that made him smile when he finally recognized it. His god had found his Consort. And was in love! Surely a good sign for all of the people!
A A A A A A
"Senator, I'm sending one of my most trusted aides with information that I believe you should be made aware of," General Hammond said. "The president has a copy of this information. I have a copy. As soon as you've read what is on the disk, I 'd like to discuss any actions you might see fit to take."
"Of course, General." John Shepperd frowned. Something was up, or George Hammond wouldn't be offering him a look at what must be top secret documents.
"It seems that Cassandra Fraiser has once again become a target. I have no doubt that Casey Jackson is, as well," the general continued.
Oh, shit. He knew that the young Fraiser woman wasn't from Toronto. No, she was from a place called Hanka. Not a different country. A different planet. "Any idea who is after them?"
"The NID. Frank Simmons to be precise."
"I see. Any proof?"
"Cassie Fraiser just called her mother to tell her that Colonel Simmons was at a diner across from her school. She managed to get away from him, Doctor Fraiser is on her way to pick up her daughter now," Hammond replied bluntly.
John Shepperd pinched the bridge of his nose absently. He'd suspected that Simmons was up to no good. His 'guest' in a safe house in Pennsylvania had disappeared, vanished into thin air, according the report from Brad Ryder. Simmons had been incensed that anyone dare interfere with his plans, whatever they'd been. Did that 'guest' have any connection to the Fraiser girl and Mrs. Jackson? "I'll notify the president. It's difficult for him to...respond, especially during an election year."
"I understand, Senator. But right now I really don't care about elections. I care about the safety and well being of a sixteen year old girl, and about the safety of one of the most valuable assets we have here at the SGC...who just happens to be the wife of a young man I consider to be my friend," General Hammond replied.
He smiled. He'd always liked the fact that General George Hammond had never been one to dance around the facts. Nor been shy about sharing his opinion. He was one of the few military men in such a position as he held who wasn't swayed by politics. "I'll see what I can find out. And as soon as I've read your...report, I'll be in touch."
"Thank you, Senator. I believe you'll find it very...enlightening." By now, Walter Harriman was halfway to the Capitol. And would hand deliver a copy of the disk Harry Maybourne had sent Jack O'Neill. After the posthumous trial of former Senator Robert Kinsey, the contents of the disk would shake up the capitol city in a way it hadn't been shaken in a very long time.
He knew Simmons well enough to know that the man would never go quietly. In fact, it would be his style to expose the Stargate Program. That could be problematic. But nothing that couldn't be weathered. The general began to gather mission reports. He'd write his own report, one that could be shared...hell, read on the six o'clock news if need be. And he'd do his best to let the people of America...of the world...know just how lucky they were that the SGC and its twenty-two teams of specialists were working to protect them. Maybe he'd speak to General Maynard. Rumor had it that he was going to be made the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff if Henry Hayes won the election. He was also a very vocal proponent of the SGC among those who knew of its existence. He'd be a strong, welcome ally.
If Hayes did win, and by all indications so far, he would, that man would be open minded, and deal fairly with the SGC. He frowned. If he were Immortal, it wouldn't matter who sat in the Oval Office. He'd be the Officer in Charge of the Stargate Command Program. Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter, Teal'c, and Daniel and Casey Jackson would remain SG-1. And they'd be able to do their job without interference. Appearances would be kept up, as much as possible, of course. But technically he'd be the one calling the shots at the facility in the belly of Cheyenne Mountain.
The thought startled him, and he pushed it away. He wasn't ready to deal with that issue. Not now. Not yet. He glanced at the picture of his granddaughters, before his eyes focused on the calendar. Time. He had time. A few weeks at least.
A A A A A A
Nine humans crouched behind the last row of tubes, the dim blue light from each reflecting on worried faces. To be discovered at this point would be one hell of a problem, considering the number of those black armored creatures that were gathered in the enormous 'hanger'. If the alarm was raised, even if they could get out of the underground compound, making it past all of the Jaffa in that meadow would be damned near impossible. Then there was the entire problem of struggling through the dense undergrowth in that forest. No, getting caught was not a good idea!
Four men walked into the room. They were dressed alike, in a black, one piece overall. All four of them were also wearing the memory devices. The bastard certainly had a lot of them, Casey mused silently. Why had Anubis been so paranoid? Even though he was only 'partially' Ascended, he should've had a few abilities that would have protected him. He hadn't needed a ribbon device when he battled Daniel, so he'd had that particular 'gift'. She frowned. She assumed that being Ascended gave a person perception, much like her own gift of 'sight', only significantly stronger. Had the Ascended been able to prevent Anubis from gaining that particular skill...or just prevented him from using it?
The latter made the most sense, she decided. He'd been blocked. And he knew it. And, for some reason didn't trust his natural instincts to be enough. Natural instincts...if the symbiote itself no longer existed, he'd been...he'd been nothing more than the essence of who...what...the Goa'uld had been! That was the reason for the deeply cowled robe, what appeared to be a mask when the light did penetrate far enough to expose his face, the need for the gloves! He had every reason to be paranoid! He was a man...no...a creature...between planes of existence...unable to fully reach the level of the Ascended, where no doubt he'd have been destroyed immediately. Not really of the mortal realm either. Yeah, that would make anyone pissy, she admitted. And damned determined to wreak revenge on those who thwarted him. She shivered. No wonder the Ascended had been desperate for Daniel's help!
Vulnerable. Anubis had been...or at least felt...vulnerable among the other Goa'uld. Absolute, total control was needed...because if any of those working around or for Anubis had discovered his secret, that person, or persons, would no doubt have found a way to kill him...or, as Daniel'd done, forced him onto the plane of existence where the Ascended could deal with him. Just how tight that control was remained to be seen. What they'd already witnessed indicated that the Jaffa, at least those inside the subterranean facility, were able to do only certain, repetitive tasks. Until the Super Warriors were faced in a real battle, their skill levels and the amount of independent thought and control they possessed couldn't be accurately measured. With luck, no one would ever have a need to find out.
By now the tubes that had the flashing lights above them were completely empty of the fluid that had filled them. Probably similar to amniotic fluid, Daniel mused. He watched as the tube was slowly, carefully rotated until it was completely horizontal, rather than vertical. The 'top' half of the tube swung open. The sounds of gasps filled the air as the creatures took in their first lung-full of air. Each of them coughed, and then seemed to regurgitate a bit of the liquid that had protected them, nourished them as the symbiote and clone became one.
What appeared to be a careful physical exam was conducted on each clone. Then the being, naked and wet, crawled out of the tube, and stood unsteadily for a few minutes. Another examination was completed. And then they were led from the room, stumbling at times as the symbiotes learned to completely control the body it was in.
Several silent seconds passed before any of them dared to speak. "That was just weird," Jack complained. "Freaky. Unnatural. Not right."
"I so agree," Casey shivered.
"If we follow them, we will most likely discover where the armor is hidden," Teal'c observed.
"Good point," Jack replied. "Let's go."
She glanced back at the tank in the middle of the room. The Goa'uld within had lain still, almost as if she were trying to remain unnoticed. Once again Casey felt that odd, mental connection.
"Go. Stop him. Stop him. Kill him."
It seemed that the Goa'uld queen knew who...or at least what they were. Taken from her own mind, Casey supposed. And that she recognized that the humans, the Tau'ri, were the only hope she had of stopping Anubis.
"Casey?" Daniel whispered. The instant she'd stopped moving, so had he.
"Let's get out of here," she whispered in reply.
His eye caught on the control panel beside the door. It only took a few seconds for him to read the glyphs, to understand what it was. "Sam!" he hissed.
Daniel pointed. For whatever reason, the tanks where the Goa'uld queen and the maturing symbiotes swam were controlled from the panel. The tubes had individual controls, but were tied in to what he believed to be the main control panel. "What would happen if we adjusted a few things?"
"I don't know," Sam answered honestly. "It 'd probably set off alarms."
"Maybe not. If he managed to keep this place a secret, and had tight control over everyone who worked here..." he let her finish the thought for herself.
Sam tossed a look at the backs of SG-3, Jack and Teal'c. "Sir?"
Jack turned around when her voice whispered through the radio receiver in his ear. "What?"
"We've found the controls for this room."
"We might be able to...interfere."
The CO frowned. "Probably hooked up to alarms."
"I don't think he needed alarms," Sam replied.
The frown deepened. She had a good point. No need for alarms if the crew was all programmed, and couldn't deviate from that programming. "Do it, but be damned quick about it."
Sam studied the panel for a few minutes. Asked Daniel about the half dozen hieroglyph markings. "Let's turn the heat down. Symbiotes can't survive cold water."
Daniel nodded. Janet had conducted a few experiments on Goa'uld symbiotes that SG-1 had finally been able to procure. They already knew, thanks to Hathor, that water at the boiling point wouldn't harm them, in fact, they seemed to thrive it in. But if the water temperature dropped below eighty degrees, they showed signs of distress. Room temperature water seemed to put them into dormancy. Any colder than that, and they actually froze to death. He watched his friend push several of the glyphs, held his breath, waiting for alarms to begin screeching around them. Let it out with sigh of relief when the silence remained unbroken.
Satisfied that she'd lowered the temperatures enough to cause permanent, irreversible damage, Sam gave nod to the two teammates who stood beside her. They hurried down the corridor to join the others.
In a control room on the ship above them, and in a similar room on the other side of the hanger, red lights began to flash their warning. Those who would understand that warning were not nearby. Invisible fingers carefully manipulated switches, causing the sensors to return to green. A small thing, a gift of gratitude. A token of thanks for what The One had accomplished.
In the tank, the Goa'uld queen began to suffer the first pangs of birth. By the time she'd expelled all of the young from her body, the water temperature would be too low for them to be able to move. And if it continued to drop they, and she, would die. It was the only way. Stop him. Stop him.
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