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Every Good Deed
"…And however they try
To destroy him
Let him never die:
Let him never die: ...
...No good deed
Goes unpunished! …"
From the Broadway Musical "Wicked"
The light of the torches flickered over the bodies as they lay close together. There was no sign of life now. The pool of blood beneath the still forms completely surrounded them, making it appear as if they were sleeping cuddled together on a silken sheet of scarlet. Their blood was mixed so thoroughly that there was no way to know which of those red drops belonged to whom.
Three Beings moved quietly, reverently toward the fallen heroes. Their pristine white robes seemed to glow, the deep cowled hoods preventing faces from being seen. Gently, hands were pried apart, the bodies were moved. One by one the members of SG-1 were stripped of the burned, bloody clothes that covered them. Each body was carefully cleansed, and anointed with fragrant oils. Robes of pure white linen were placed on the cold, still figures.
The water in the marble pool in front of the altar began to bubble. Five slabs of white stone rose to the surface. The three Beings dutifully carried each team member into the pool, placed the body on the cold, stone resting places. Cold hands were lovingly folded over chests that were whole once again, but no longer moved with breath. When at last all five were lying in state, the slabs began to lower slowly, until SG-1 lay submerged in water that began to glow, a spectrum of color moving through the waves that lapped softly at the marble edges.
The Beings knelt in front of the altar.
"You have done well," the male voice said kindly. "We are most pleased."
"What of our recommendation?" one of the beings asked, her voice not revealing the excitement that raced through her.
"It is being…considered," was the evasive reply.
"When shall we know?"
"Before the Awakening."
Giving a nod that was felt more than seen, the speaker stood to her feet, led her companions silently into a room to one side of the huge temple. The three Beings sat down on one of the gold gilded benches, and waited.
A A A A A A
Major Ferretti frowned. Five packs. No weapons. And absolutely no sign of SG-1…anywhere! Wherever they are, they're armed, he told himself. That's a good thing. SG-1 is missing. Very bad thing. He sighed, nodded to his 2IC. "Dial it up, we need to report in."
The young Marine nodded and began to press the symbols that would establish a stable wormhole between this planet and Earth, and would allow them to tell General Hammond something he wasn't going to want to hear.
Louis 'Lou' Ferretti had gone after SG-1 at least a dozen times, to get their butts out of whatever sling they'd gotten into. But there was no team tougher, smarter…more capable of surviving...than SG-1. Wherever they were, they were more than likely giving their captors hell. He wandered around the area once again, eyes trained on the ground, hoping to find something, anything, that might be a clue.
"Sir, General Hammond is waiting."
With a nod, the grizzled Marine hurried over to the MALP, bent down to stare into the camera. "No sign of them, General. All of their packs are here, nothing disturbed in them. Well, Doctor Jackson's was open, but I don't know if anything is missing. Didn't seem to be. Wherever they are, they have their weapons."
"Let me widen the search area. Send a couple more teams through, and we can cover more ground a lot faster. They've been gone twenty-four hours, so they could have made it quite a way from here," Ferretti replied.
"Granted. I’m sending the UAV to do sweeps of the area as well," Hammond said. "I want hourly reports, Major."
"Yes, sir." He stood up, signaled that the connection be cut, and the 'gate allowed to close. "Heads up when the 'gate reopens, the general is sending a UAV through." The men around him nodded their understanding. "Let's get a search perimeter established. We'll have a couple more teams to help us. Richards, get photos of where the packs are, then move them over by the MALP."
Jack, what the hell have you gotten yourself into this time? Ferretti wondered. He looked up at the sky. Three, maybe four hours before sundown. Searching in the dark was a pain-in-the-ass. No way would he stop for one second. Not until he found SG-1. Or knew what had happened to them.
His thoughts wandered to the slender young blonde so recently married to Dr. Jackson. That poor little thing had been thrown into the fire from the minute she'd walked into the SGC, and it hadn't let up. Scuttlebutt in the mountain was that she was a tough little cookie to have survived all that she'd gone through in the first three weeks after her arrival, and still be able to walk and talk. He remembered the anger in her eyes when she demanded that the men turn away from the mutilated bodies of those women and children. Her staunch determination to give them in death what had been taken from them in life. He almost chuckled out loud thinking of her storming the 'gate room alone, madder than a nest of hornets when that Goa'uld bitch had shown up. Probably had everything to do with the fact that the snake had plans of making Dr. Jackson her consort. One hell of a temper in that little blonde. Especially if Dr. Jackson was being threatened. He'd put down even money that if SG-1 was being held against their will, she was giving them nine kinds of hell! He did chuckle out loud when he thought of her in comparison to the old story, 'Ransom of the Red Chief'. No doubt whoever had her right now wished to hell they didn't!
"Major, UAV is away. We'll be getting a feed from the cameras in just a few seconds," Willy told him.
He looked around, realized that SG-7 and SG-12 were standing nearby, waiting for him to take charge. The men of SG-7 had looks of hard determination on their faces. They were alive because of Casey Jackson. And she wouldn't have been in the SGC had it not been for SG-1. This was personal for them. He smiled grimly. That would make them tenacious in their search. And that was a very good thing.
A A A A A A
George Hammond lowered himself wearily into his chair. He put his elbows on the desk, rested his face against his folded hands. SG-1 had a penchant for getting themselves into trouble. Of all of the SG teams attached to the program, all twenty-two of them, SG-1 got into more trouble than all the others combined, or so it often seemed. They'd also discovered more, made more friends, more allies, established more treaties, and destroyed more Goa'uld and their holdings than any other team. They'd single-handedly saved the planet, and hell, the universe, several times now! He held to the thought, the belief, reinforced by the team again and again: SG-1 had a habit of surviving. They'd been declared dead numerous times, only to walk through the 'gate, usually worse for the wear, but alive and full of that cocky attitude that could be as amusing as it was irritating; oblivious to the fact that they were supposed to be dead. Just one more time, he thought, the words a silent prayer.
Janet was only going through the motions as she filled out the paperwork requesting routine medical supplies. The only thing that anyone knew right now was that SG-1 hadn't made any of their scheduled contacts. It had happened before, usually when something, or someone, attracted their attention and pulled them too far from the Stargate for regular check-ins. She tossed her pen onto the desk. She looked up at the beds that the team members had occupied just four nights ago, traumatized by the events that had unfolded in a burning village, while they'd remained trapped, unable to help, on a rocky ridge. Dr. MacKenzie had told her that they were dealing with the aftermath in the typical SG-1 fashion. They'd lean on one another, heal one another, and move on; and deny to anyone else that there was a problem. The addition of a seer to the equation had made no difference at all. She'd been accepted, was as much a part of the team as any of the four 'original' members.
She sighed. That team came back from the dead more often than any other team even suffered wounds! She glanced at the ceiling. "Please, just keep protecting children and fools," she said softly. "Those people are a little of both."
A A A A A A
Ten hours. Nothing. Ferretti walked back into the camp that had been established in front of the 'gate. Three more SG teams had arrived, the COs insistent that they be allowed to join the search. SG-1 had a reputation; a well-deserved, hard-earned reputation. They were the best of the best. And had put their own lives on the line for other teams so often that it was becoming difficult to keep track of. Right now, every team who was aware that the flagship team was missing, and were in the SGC, were begging for permission to join the search. Not all of them would be allowed to do so. In fact, he was fairly sure that the six teams already planet side were all that would be looking for SG-1.
The Marine dropped onto one of the campstools, thankful that he didn't have to sit on the ground tonight, his body feeling every year of his age after tramping through a forest thick with undergrowth; climbing in and out of ravines. He gratefully accepted the cup of coffee from one of the younger SFs. "What did the UAV show?" he asked. He hadn't waited around for the images to come through. He was a man of action, and he'd done what came naturally.
"Nothing on the visuals," was the quiet response.
His head came up. "But you did find something?"
"Yes, sir. On the spectrum analysis. This place is putting out energy signals that are off the scale," Richards said. "We're having a hard time pin-pointing the location of origin…it seems to come from…everywhere."
"Keep working on it. You find out where it's coming from, and that's where we'll find SG-1," Ferretti said confidently. It would be some time before he was to know how right he was.
Tim Andrews led his team into camp. The men were haggard with exhaustion. "We're gonna get a couple of hours of shut-eye. Then we'll head back out."
Ferretti nodded. "Same here. The other teams will keep looking."
A A A A A A
The Beings hovered near the camp, watching, listening. When the presence of these humans had been detected, it had not been unexpected. Nor was the desperation with which these men sought their friends, their colleagues. That loyalty, that camaraderie, had been observed many times in the years that they'd been assigned to observe Dr. Jackson, and by default, his friends on SG-1, and of the SGC.
"They are quite distraught," one of the beings, the second female, said softly.
"Yes, they are," said the First.
"It is most unpleasant to witness such emotion, such grief," the male said.
"I know," First replied. She smiled reassuringly at her Companion. "It is also most common to witness when observing humans. Their lives are fraught with grief. You should understand that by now. How much grief has He suffered, that we have endured with Him?"
"If he is...The One...do you think They will allow us to continue to be his Observers?" Second asked worriedly. She'd grown fond of the sandy-haired archaeologist. For so many years they'd been forced to watch him suffer, again and again and again. She'd wept silently, watching him as he cried alone at night as a child, missing his parents, never belonging to anyone, never allowing himself to become attached to anyone or anything, just to have it yanked away from him once again. Had suffered nearly as much as he when his first wife had been taken from him, knowing that the marriage was one that never should have been allowed, one that the First had been unable to stop in time. She'd been delighted when he had at last found and married his Destiny, the woman whose heart and soul were the compliment...the other half...of his own. She had not seen him smile as brightly, had not heard him laugh as deeply for many, many years. To be reassigned now would be...disappointing.
"We can only hope. We have been his Observers from the beginning. I cannot believe that we would be replaced now," First said, her own heart holding tightly to that hope. The three turned in unison when they heard the summons. It was time.
The temple was full of those eager to watch the Ceremony. A Ceremony, a Ritual, that had not been performed in eons of time. There were those among the assembled who had feared it would never be performed again. There was a feeling of expectation in the air, one that teetered on the edge of exhilaration.
First walked confidently toward the pool, knelt down, her Companions just behind her on her left and on her right. "We have been called forth to observe One with great promise. One whose heart is full of goodness, kindness. One whose mind is sharp, He can find answers to puzzles that others cannot. One who seeks knowledge, believes in peace above all else, but understands that there are battles which must be fought. He is the first to offer Himself in the stead of others for punishment or death. He is the first to place Himself in harm's way to protect the weak, the Innocent, and those He calls His friends. We have Observed that all through His years, He has held tightly to the wonder of life, seeing the best in those around Him. He is modest, not believing Himself to be special or Gifted in any way. He has suffered greatly, and still His heart remains strong and pure. We believe that He is…The One." Her voice nearly broke with emotion as she finished.
"Do you petition us?" the male voice asked.
"And what do you seek?"
"The Gift of Eternal life." First realized that the Gift had already been offered, or he and his friends would not be lying dead in the Waters of Life. This was a mere formality. The decision of whether or not to grant him the powers of The One was the only debate at this time, and there was nothing that she could say, or should say, about that point. She suspected, and kept the thoughts to herself, that whatever power was granted to him, would continue to grow in him. Daniel Jackson was The One. She knew it. She only had to wait until those who granted such requests recognized it as well.
"For him alone?"
"No, that would be too cruel. His friends will make excellent advisors, guides. They will not voluntarily leave his side, and will continue to protect Him. He has only just discovered She who was created for Him. To lose her, even if she were given the normal span of years, would devastate Him. He would...cease...to be concerned with his surroundings, and would wrap himself in his grief. She is His Beloved. Her heart is full of kindness, full of love. She is also worthy of the Gift." She spoke slowly, with the confidence of one who was about to win a hard-earned victory.
"Are those with him worthy of the Gift?" This voice was feminine.
First nodded. "They have willingly offered to sacrifice themselves for one another, for their home world, for those that they don't even know. They seek to right wrongs, protect the weak and the Innocent. They are most worthy."
Murmurs filled the massive room, echoing like the buzz of bees off the beautifully decorated walls. The excitement that rolled through the air like waves continued to build, grow.
"What other petition do you bring?"
First took a deep breath. This was it! "My Companions and I believe that Daniel Jackson is The One. All prophecies concerning this Protector, the Guardian of the Weak, The Champion of the Innocent, have been fulfilled in his years. The years of his Beloved have also fulfilled prophecy, and she carries within her the Gift of Sight. It grows increasingly stronger because of Him. Yet another sign."
"There have been others before, who did not survive the Final Test," the male voice warned; however, the tone was gentle, benevolent.
The Being raised her head. "He will not fail. We petition his right to face The Trial."
The silence seemed to stretch on forever. "Bring them forth, that they may receive the Gift. Then let the Trial begin."
She closed her eyes. Success! Now she must stand aside, allow Daniel to suffer the Trial of The One. She had faith in him. But she knew that it would cause him much distress, until he was made aware...realized...that it was only a test.
The three white clad Beings stood, stretched their arms out over the pool. The water began to bubble and churn, and the five marble slabs rose. They stepped into the shadows, and allowed those who would guard the humans to approach, their black robes making them appear to be part of the shadows of the room.
First glanced back over her shoulder. Until the test was completed, they would not see Daniel Jackson again. She took a deep breath. He was The One! The man chosen above all men. His Destiny was about to be fulfilled.
A A A A A A
"…no, sir. We haven't found a thing. The energy readings haven't changed, and Richards thinks it may just be the 'signature' of this particular planet. It's damned high, he says, but since we can't pin-point a source, there's nothing to go on there," Ferretti said wearily.
"Very well. As much as I hate to, I have to call of this search. I need those teams out on scheduled missions," General Hammond sighed. None of the teams were anxious to go through the 'gate without Casey Jackson first looking to 'see' if there was going to be danger. As one of the team COs had remarked, it hadn't taken long to become accustomed to having an idea of what they were walking into. Going into the unknown again was disconcerting.
The Marine nodded. "Understood, sir. We should all be home within the hour." After five exhaustive days of searching, not one clue to the whereabouts of SG-1 had been found. He'd expected the recall order at any moment. He didn't like it, but he knew that General Hammond was under pressure from the Pentagon, and most likely the president as well, to return operations of the SGC to 'normal'. Not a goddamned one of those lily-livered bureaucratic bastards had a clue how much they owed SG-1! Hell, if not for Jack and that rag-tag group of his, Earth would have been destroyed by Apophis four and a half years ago! he thought, sputtering silently to himself.
There was very little talk as the men of six teams began to break camp. Ferretti looked at the packs that belonged to the missing team members. His gut was telling him that they weren't dead. Missing, but not dead. He carried the packs back to the group of stones where they'd been found.
"Lou?" Tim Andrews said softly.
"I figure when they get out of wherever they are, they're gonna need 'em," the Marine replied gruffly.
"Yeah, probably." Tim glanced around, slipped his personal GDO into the top of Dr. Jackson's still open pack. Even if some snakehead found it, he…or she…wouldn't have a freaking clue what it was for. They sure wouldn't know any of the access codes. Like Ferretti, his gut was telling him that the missing team wasn't dead. At least, not yet.
Marine Major Louis Ferretti looked around the area on last time. "Don't let me down, O'Neill," he whispered. "I have a bet riding on you."
The men were gathered around the DHD, watching as young Captain Richards dialed Earth. Each of them were scanning the area, hoping against hope to see something that had somehow been over looked, some sign of the missing team.
The Stargate opened with a 'whoosh' of power. "Let's go, people," Ferretti said. He was the last one to walk through the 'gate.
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