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Final Showdown


Chapter 7

Casey found herself in a narrow room. Steps...no wider than a foot at the most, that followed one wall...led to an opening in the ceiling. There was no choice...it was up and out, or be caught.

Trying to hang onto the wall as much as possible, she moved up the steps. When she emerged, it was to find herself on top of the city wall. There were guards on either side of her, though neither of them had noticed her...yet.

Feeling as if she had jumped from the frying pan directly into the fire, she studied her options. As soon as that merchant and the police showed up, she'd be taken into custody, and who knew where that could land her? She had to find Daniel and the others, time was running out for them. If they didn't face the daemons soon, there might not be an opportunity to do so. Being trapped on this plane of existence, in this...illusion...wasn't her idea of a good time, thank you very much.

She looked down at the street she had just traversed. She could see the two policemen. Ducking behind the ledge of the wall, peering over in order to see her captors as they approached, she watched as four men spoke to the enforcers of the law, gesticulating with their arms. All four pointed in the opposite direction of that which she had taken. Now that was just odd. Or were they simply telling the men wearing the sashes that yes, they had seen the woman run past them, coming from that direction?

Expecting to see all the involved parties look up at the wall at any moment, she was shocked when the officers of the law began to run away. Not one of the four looked up at the wall. They never even looked in her direction. Who were they really...and why had they just helped her?

A glance to her left and right told her she had to get off the wall before those guards turned around and realized they had unexpected...and probably unwelcome...company. As quietly as she could, she slipped back down the steps. Paced the narrow room. What the hell was she going to do? At this point, she suspected that her teammates were being kept in separate areas of the city. Whether they were still part of the illusion, or were now aware of what was going on, she didn't know. How was she going to find them?

She couldn't stay where she was. When the time came for the changing of the guards, they would walk right through this room. Other than a brazier, a small table and two stools, there wasn't anything in the room...certainly no place in which to hide.

What if she just went back to the Library? Wasn't that the most logical place to start, wouldn't she have the best luck in finding Daniel if she went there? Unable to come up with a better plan, or even any other ideas, she climbed down the ladder. Managed to walk beside a sled heaped with baskets, pulled by three men. When they reached the cross street she fell back a few steps until she was walking behind the sled, then disappeared among the other women who were headed to the market to find food for the evening meal.

Not even glancing down the street where she'd run into trouble, she hurried toward the wide avenue, turned to her left and nearly ran toward the massive stone building.

With a deep breath and a silent prayer for protection, she began to climb the stairs as if she had every right to do so. She passed three men, their heads shaved bald. None of them gave her a second glance.

When she walked past the first columns, she heaved a silent sigh of relief. There didn't seem to be anyone around. That, of course, could change in a heartbeat. There were rooms on either side of the wide, temple-like room that stretched the full depth of the building. She stepped into the first room on the right, coming to that opening first. The walls were lined with shelves. Which were in turn stuffed with scrolls. Two men sat at one of four long tables; all of the tables had six triangular shaped wooden blocks on them. There were also shelves standing in the center of the room. Always the possibility that Daniel was behind one of them.

Moving with as much speed - and as quietly - as possible, she hurried to the far end of the room. And faced the cold let-down of finding the space empty of inhabitants.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Daniel had no idea what time it was. But his stomach was telling him it was far past time to find something to eat. He'd noticed the gold rings sewn into the side of his kilt, but hadn't paid them much heed...until now. If he were to guess, he'd say that the rings were to be used as barter. There had been a food stand beside the gate that led from the street of bazaars and shops to the wide avenue that seemed to be the main artery of the city. He'd go there, find something to eat, and then return. He'd search more of the scrolls that waited on the table. It was always possible that one of them might hold a clue to where Casey would be held.

He wandered through the main lobby of the building. Paused at the top of the steps. Took a deep breath, preparing himself to move among the locals, and try to blend in, to become...invisible...by the sheer fact of being not worthy of a second glance...of being forgettable. Now, he knew he was hungry, as well as worried about his Wife. A state of mind that apparently made him a bit more susceptible to the power of suggestion. Because he would swear he could smell that sweet scent of vanilla and wildflowers. Wishful thinking, Danny, he sighed. He trudged down the steps, his mind full of thoughts of her.

Shoulders hunched forward, head down, his brow wrinkled in thought, Daniel went over every word he could recall of the mission briefing, just before the team had walked through the 'gate. Had only a faint recollection of a very dark room...oppressive darkness. And then...nothing until he had awakened...or whatever the hell had happened to him, three days prior.

The sun glinted off of something shiny in the middle of the street. He bent down, picked it up. A thin, gold hoop. An earring from the looks of it. Much easier to 'spend' than trying to rip one of the rings off of his kilt. Thanking whatever Providence had provided the trinket, he stopped at a booth that offered steaming soup. It smelled almost as good as what Casey made.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Jack contemplated finishing the poles he'd started, then thought better of it. He broke the reeds apart, fed them to the fire. No sense alerting the bad guys that he wasn't playing their game. But fishing did sound like a good idea. Maybe he'd come up with the perfect plan for finding Radar and getting the hell out of this place while he was sitting in the boat.

The net he had used three days earlier was still in the bottom of the small wooden boat. And, lucky for him, didn't seem to be tangled. He pushed the small craft out into the water, heaved himself over the side and settled onto the seat.

Rowing easily, slowly, he moved toward the middle of the river. Opted to see how close to the city he could go without drawing attention. With luck he'd be able to just pull the boat to shore and hustle through the gate to the barn at sundown. He glanced up at the sun. Then again, maybe he'd just head back to that little hut before he burned himself to a lobster red crisp...


A  A  A  A  A  A


Sam struggled with the board for a few more minutes. "I have to take a break," she said, panting slightly from the exertion of her work.

"No doubt," Iteti replied amiably.

She stood up, stretched her aching muscles, and went to the bucket where water was kept for drinking. She took a long sip. Glanced sideways at the man who worked at the anvil. In this heat, he was nuts! Figuring that a dutiful niece would offer her uncle water if she took time to get a drink, she filled the dipper, carried it to the man who hammered away on the piece of copper held firmly between tongs. "Thirsty?"

He took the ladle, gratefully downed the water. "Bring another, please."

With a nod she did so, watched as he dumped it over his head.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome." The look he gave her made her uncomfortable. She'd seen the look before...from men who were attracted to her. She was certain he was one of the daemons whom Daniel would have to fight...soon. Otherwise, that look coming from her 'uncle', would have sickened her. "I think I'll go inside and rest for a bit."

"That's fine, Sammy," Iteti nodded.

She put the dipper back into the bucket, and walked back up the path to the house where she'd slept for the past three nights. She needed rest now, because tonight was going to be a busy one. Hopefully Jack, Daniel, and Teal'c were all still free of any mind blocks.

Taking time to clean up, washing carefully in spite of the dark looks coming from the women who worked at spinning wool on the lanai, Sam felt surprisingly calm as she prepared to wait out the last few hours before sundown. She was hoping that was a good sign. With a sigh, and high hopes of finding Casey quickly, she stretched out on her low cot, and closed her eyes.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Casey wasn't certain how long she had wandered the library, hoping against hope that she'd see Daniel. She rechecked five of the large rooms, convinced that they had just crossed paths unknowingly. Eventually she was forced to admit that he wasn't in the building.

Retracing her steps to the entrance of the grand structure, heart heavy, Casey took stock of her situation. She had absolutely no idea where her teammates might be. Examined the possibility that they were also being held in the same palace where she had awakened. She had no means of purchasing food or water. And she was being sought by the local version of the police.

Lovely mess you're in, my girl, she thought wearily. She continued to think about the palace. What were the chances that the daemons would keep the team so close together? Probably not very high. She didn't think that those holding SG-1 would want to risk the team being able to find one another. After all, when they were together, the team was unstoppable. If she had awakened, more than likely the others would too, if they hadn't already. Which meant that they might be wandering around, looking for one another. If that was true, they could be passing one another on the busy, crowded streets. Wasn't that just a royal pain-in-the-ass?

Finding a small step at the side door of one of the nearby buildings, probably something civic, she thought, she sat down, pulled her legs to her chest, rested her cheek on her knee. She felt so alone. And that terrified her. She missed Daniel so badly that it was a physical ache. Tears filled her eyes, she covered her face with her slender hands and wept silently.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Teal'c strode up the street, on a legitimate quest for the Pharaoh. It seemed that a nearby merchant provided a certain wine that the Pharaoh enjoyed. Not trusting slaves or servants to bring him wine that remained unpoisoned by priests and nobles who disagreed with his policies, he had sent the Captain of the Guard. It was an ultimate sign of faith. It was, Teal'c thought, the perfect opportunity to kill the Pharaoh. If this...situation...wasn't just an illusion. He doubted seriously that any of the daemons would be susceptible to any sort of harm from within the illusion.

Late afternoon shadows were clinging to the sides of the buildings he passed, on his way to the market street. Sheriti had given him detailed directions; he knew exactly which shop to approach.

He was surprised to see Daniel Jackson milling among those who moved from stall to stall. When cerulean blue eyes locked with his, neither man acknowledged the other. But the message had been sent, and received. When Daniel had glanced toward a narrow alley, Teal'c had understood exactly what the archaeologist wanted.

Being a large man, he had never been one to easily disappear into a crowd. Given the dark blue kilt around his hips, the gold fringe that tickled his calves, his presence was noted and even remarked upon. Everyone in the market area recognized the Pharaoh's Captain of the Guard. And all would take note of any person that he spoke to.

There was a small booth that offered trinkets made of wood near the alley entrance. He stopped, pretended to examine the merchandise that lined the shelf.

"Any luck?" a familiar voice whispered.

"There is the chance that she has been moved," he whispered in reply.

Daniel closed his eyes, forced down the panic this bit of news caused. He tried to remind himself that they hadn't really known where Casey was being held to begin with...this tidbit of information didn't change anything. "Are you sure?"

"Sheriti was able to examine a room attached to the harem. It was empty save for a lamp and a bed. She mentioned the sweet smelling perfume that permeated the air," Teal'c responded.

He clearly remembered the day, shortly before they'd been married, that Casey had told him that three of the female SF's had asked her about the perfume she wore. She hadn't, she'd informed him, been wearing any at the time. Then she'd told him that after telling the women about the lotion she used, and the brand of shampoo she favored, they had looked skeptical, but accepted her response. It wasn't until after learning about how special she was, the 'Hathor-gene' that made her smell...and taste...so damned sweet, so tantalizing, that he realized that sweet scent was what the women had been referring to. Apparently the natural variety of the chemical compound was noticeable by both sexes, but only men seemed affected by it. There was no doubt in his mind that if this Sheriti had picked up on the scent, Casey had been in that room. "Any idea where they'd move her?"

"I have none." Teal'c picked up a puzzle box and examined it closely. Put it down, then turned his attention to a wooden necklace.

He leaned his head back against the mud brick wall behind him. Closed his eyes. "I guess this just puts us back where we started."

"I will continue to search. I am able to move about freely," Teal'c responded. Understood the disappointment that filled his friend's voice. "I must complete my task, and return to the palace."

Daniel gave a slight nod. "I think I'll just head for the barn. Maybe I'll be able to think of something."

"I will meet you there at sundown." Teal'c gently returned the necklace to the shelf, nodded at the merchant, who had luckily been busy haggling with another customer during the brief conversation, then turned toward the shop where he would make the wine purchase in the name of the Pharaoh.

Daniel waited several minutes, his arms around his waist. "Hang in there, Angel. We'll find you, I promise," he whispered.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Iteti put the finished pot onto the brick shelf to cool. That the work had gone faster for him than it would have a 'real' blacksmith wasn't a fact that would be comprehended by those around him. His thoughts had been everywhere but on his task for the entire afternoon. He'd made up his mind. Didn't care whether Mibi objected or not. It would keep the lovely blonde, who was already completely immersed in the illusion, from ever leaving his side. He couldn't bear the thought of that happening.

He moved silently through the house. Stood just outside the door to her room. Closed his eyes, and moved slowly, gently. He frowned when he discovered the few tattered remnants of the mental block Mibi had placed in her mind. Having never examined her so closely, he had no idea that it wasn't the result of the block being 'absorbed', and made a permanent part of her brain. He assumed that was so, because he believed Tameri's explanation.

Moving with utmost care, he 'strengthened' the mental wall, not realizing that he was actually replacing it. Gently he added new memories. New 'facts'. Smiled when she stirred slightly in her sleep, the smile that pulled at the corners of her mouth. When he'd finished, he took a deep breath. Allowed the illusion with which he had surrounded himself drop away. Stood there, looking as he had in the prime of his life, working as a household cleric for the Sultan.

His task completed, he hurried toward the river. He wanted to bathe, in preparation of beginning his new life with Sm'n'khet, his 'Sammy'. His heart was beating against his ribs, a sensation he hadn't experienced for millennia. At last, he would find happiness.




She stirred slightly, raised her arms above her head. Why was she sleeping here, and not in their bed? With a shake of her head, she sat up. Ran a hand through her tousled, short locks. "Iteti?"

His breath caught in his throat. He barely refrained from racing into the room. Instead, he entered slowly. "There you are. You must have been more weary than you realized if you fell into the first bed you could find," he teased.

Sammy smiled. "I guess I was."

"The festival will do that." He crossed the room, gently caressed her cheek. "Do you feel like taking a walk? The sun is setting over the river."

She nodded eagerly. Laced her fingers with his when he took her hand. And ignored the odd, out of place feeling that tried to move forward in her mind. She watched the man beside her as he led them to the river bank. His dark hair was cut short, neatly trimmed; the sign of a noble. His moustache and goatee weren't full, but closely trimmed, and looked so darned sexy-

Sexy? What a...strange...word. She wasn't sure where it had come from. Sexy. Yes, that was definitely the word to describe the man beside her. When he looked at her, his light brown eyes were full of warmth, and love. Her smile was automatic when he grinned at her.

A glance over her shoulder as they moved across the road at the small villa that was their home made her sigh contentedly. She could see the servants as they moved about, preparing the evening meal.

Iteti stopped by the river's edge, pulled his hand from hers and settled his arm around her shoulders. Felt his body responding when her arm went around his waist, her head to his shoulder. "Are you happy, Sammy?" he asked softly.

"Happier than I can remember ever being," she replied. Although, there was the nagging thought that she really didn't seem to be able to recall much at all. Odd, hazy images of some sort of...festival. Nothing before that, not one blessed thing!

"I'm glad," he whispered.

They watched as the sun continued to slide beneath the horizon. When he turned to kiss her, she responded automatically. Even though something in the back of her mind told her that it was all wrong...everything was all wrong.

He pulled away from her lips slowly. Saw the confusion in her sapphire blue eyes. "Sammy?"

"I'm sorry," she murmured, "I'm just feeling so...confused." She shook her head. "It's as if my mind...all of my memories-"

"Shh," he said gently. "It's because of your fall."

"Fall? I fell?"

"Yes, you did. I was frantic with worry. You slipped on wet stones. Struck your head with so much force that I feared you would leave me forever. You spent days unaware of all around you. When you woke," he looked down at the ground, hoped his expression was one of sadness as he wove a story that would explain her lack of 'real' memories.

"I didn't know you, did I?" she asked gently.

He shook his head, his eyes still on their bare feet. Felt his heart jump to his throat when her soft hands encircled his face. Allowed her to pull him in. Returned her sweet kiss with such happiness he could feel her gasp against him. His arms pulled her closer, the warmth of her body against his stirring feelings he hadn't felt in so very long...




Jack hissed a breath, remained low in the boat. The look on Sam's face convinced him that what he was witnessing wasn't an act. Damn it to hell! Somehow the daemons had figured out she had broken free. He maneuvered the boat to the bank, crawled out, and headed for the narrow road. He had to meet up with Teal'c and Daniel. They knew where Sam was, they'd grab her, then start looking for Casey.

He was so intent on getting to the city that he didn't notice the change in the house where Sam was being held. The ramshackle gathering of rooms had been replaced with a villa. Which included a sentry at the gate.

He barely managed to avoid the fisherman he was certain had been put in charge of keeping him in line. Debated for a moment, before making his way once again to the river. He watched for a moment, then emerged just behind the man. "Hello, there!" he said amiably.

Yuya started, then turned to face the colonel. "Rami! What are you doing here?"

"Looking for something to eat," Jack replied, shrugging slightly. "Didn't have such a good day fishing."

He turned his head to hide his smile. The colonel seemed as deeply enmeshed in the illusion as the others. "I would be pleased if you would join me for the evening meal."

Jack shook his head. "I appreciate the offer. But I'd rather just find something on my own. Don't like owing anyone. Already owe you for the fish the other day," he said gruffly.

This man was honorable. A good man. So much like the man he had hoped one day to be, Yuya thought sadly. Before his life had ended so abruptly. Murdered, by the brother of the young woman he loved. Even though this man, this mortal, had to be kept on this plane of existence as a prisoner, there was no reason to take his dignity from him. If he believed the illusion around him, was settling into his new life, the least he could do was make that life a bit easier.

Just as Iteti had done, Yuya moved his mind toward that of the man in front of him, added just a single memory, not taking the time to check the condition of the mental block. "It's fortuitous that I bumped into you. I have the payment for the work you did on my boat for me."

Jack frowned. He had felt a bit of pressure, not exactly a pain, and then, one of those weird, fuzzy memories came racing forward. He knew it wasn't real, but it was there, nonetheless. His frown deepened. If he had the cash on him to bet, he'd say the bastard had just planted it. "Then this is a lucky day for me after all," he said, hoping that the daemon wouldn't catch on.

Yuya put one hand behind his back, then handed Jack a small, leather pouch. "You do fine work, Rami. I am grateful for your help."

"Just helping a friend," Jack said, grinning broadly. He itched to slam his fist into that bastard's mouth. Although, was he actually real? Or just like a hologram or something? He resisted the urge to reach forward to find out.

He watched as the colonel glanced toward the city. He probably was hungry, he'd spent the morning recovering from a hangover, the afternoon on the river fishing. "I must be on my way," Yuya said. "Good evening to you."

"Yeah, you too. Have a nice night," Jack replied.

The daemon frowned for a moment, then with a slight nod, continued toward the house where he would remain until the illusion was no longer needed.

Jack waited until the man was completely out of sight, then sprinted toward the city wall. This situation was getting more screwed up by the minute. If those daemons could just drop memories into their heads at will, even without the mental blocks, they had to get the hell out...and that had to happen immediately. Or they really would wind up permanent members of this astro turf nightmare.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Casey had remained where she was, sitting out of sight, watching the passers-by. Hoping against hope that one of those people would be Daniel. The streets became nearly deserted as the sun disappeared, and the moon began to rise. Under the cover of darkness, remaining in the shadows that clung to the building, she dared to move closer to the street. Nearly yelped out loud when she saw a familiar form walking toward her with determined strides.

She debated for only a moment, then dashed out of her hiding place. "Teal'c?"

His head swung sharply in the direction of the soft whisper. His eyes went wide, a smile spread across his handsome face. "Casey Jackson!"

So relieved to have found one of her teammates, she closed the gap between them, threw her arms around his neck. "Am I glad to see you!"

"As am I."

"So, what's a nice Jaffa like you doing in an illusion like this?"

Teal'c smiled. "I was placed as Captain of the Guard to the Pharaoh. A position very much like that I held as First Prime."

"Keeping it as close to your real memories as possible," Casey nodded.

"Daniel Jackson was placed as a scribe in the library. O'Neill was a fisherman. Major Carter the 'niece' of a blacksmith."

She gasped. "You've seen them? You know where they are?"

"Indeed. I am on my way to meet with them now. Daniel Jackson will be most pleased to see you."

"Let's go, T-man," she said, grabbing his arm, trying to pull him forward.

With a grin, Teal'c took her hand, and led her toward the barn where the team would meet, buoyed by the knowledge that they would not be required to search for their missing teammate. He was certain that Providence had provided the small miracle of finding her so easily. Probably because the battle that loomed in front of them was quickly approaching, and time wasn't a commodity of which they had ample supply.

"So how long have we been here? I only woke up today, so I'm sort of clueless," Casey whispered.

"It seems that all of us...woke up...four days ago. Our full memories returned last night, after seeing one another at the festival."

"Festival? Typical, you guys party while I'm down for the count," she grumbled.

Teal'c only grinned wider.

For Casey, the walk to the wall of the city seemed to take forever. She kept Teal'c's hand firmly in her own, afraid that if she relaxed her grip on him, he would disappear, and leave her alone again.

When the dilapidated barn came into sight, Teal'c held a finger against his lips. "Wait here," he whispered.

She wanted to protest, but nodded her understanding. If he vanished, she'd scream. Didn't matter if she was arrested. She'd scream her frustration...her fear.

Teal'c poked his head around the corner of the open door. A single candle was burning. And Daniel Jackson paced the width of the room. With one hand he signaled Casey to join him, the two slipped inside, and he closed the door.

"Daniel!" Casey sighed, seeing him almost more than she could believe. That he was wearing nothing more than a linen kilt didn't even register in her mind. She raced forward, reaching for him, not even seeing the startled look on his face.

Hearing his name, Daniel had looked up. Didn't have more than a moment to realize that Teal'c had arrived. With Casey. Her arms locked around his neck, he felt her press her face against his throat. His arms wrapped around her automatically, drew her close, held her tightly. "Casey!"

Safe! She was safe. No matter what else happened, no matter what they still faced, she was safe! As long as she was with Daniel, in his arms, nothing could hurt her. Nothing.

He nuzzled her cheek, his lips settled on hers. She was safe. She was in his arms, she hadn't been harmed...that he was aware of...and now everything would be okay. They'd meet up with Jack and Sam, and then do what they had been brought to this plane of existence to do.

Teal'c cleared his throat quietly, smiled as the two pulled away from each other slowly, their eyes never leaving one another's.

"How'd you find her?" Daniel asked softly.

"I did not find her, she found me," Teal'c replied.

Jack entered the barn at that moment. "We have a problem," he rasped.

Three heads whipped around to face the colonel. "Where's Sam?" Daniel asked. Dreading to hear what he was pretty sure would be the explanation for their missing teammate.

"He got to her," Jack replied. "Has her married off...I think. He blocked her again, then changed her memories."

"He?" Casey asked.

It was in that moment that Jack realized that Casey was standing beside Daniel, the two of them holding one another tightly. "Hey, Radar. How?"

"I saw Teal'c walking down the street," was the simple reply.

"Cool. We have to get Sam."

"Let's go," Daniel replied. He leaned over and blew out the candle, a bit of wax he had found while he spent the late afternoon and early evening pacing the barn, waiting for his friends, worried about Casey, trying to come up with a suitable plan for locating her.

The four slipped out of the barn, headed directly for the gate to the city. The same thought reverberated through each mind...get Sam, face the daemons, and go home. Simple. Right.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Jack stopped short. "That's new," he said, nodding toward the villa.

"I thought that's where this 'uncle' lived," Daniel replied.

"It was just a simple house. Blacksmith stall toward the front of the lot," Jack replied.

Casey frowned. So far, she'd been unable to use her gift. She reached out. "He's in there," she whispered.

"The daemon?" Daniel asked.


"Well, we know where one of them is, then," Jack said.

"One?" Casey asked.

"Each of us has been 'watched' by a daemon," Teal'c explained.

"Didn't do such a bang-up job now, did they?" she said dryly, the quiet snickers of her companions washing over her.

"There appears to be a single sentry at the gate," Teal'c observed.

"There might be a few male slaves inside," Daniel said, "but there wouldn't be any sort of armed guards. Unless he's a priest."

"Well, there's the guy she's-" Jack broke off, cleared his throat. "There's that guy."

"Got it," Daniel replied. He reached out and squeezed Jack's shoulder reassuringly.

"It will be easy enough to dispatch the sentry," Teal'c said.

"I agree," Jack nodded. "We get inside that wall, then we can look around."

"Let's do it," Daniel said, starting to rise.

Jack put a restraining hand on the archaeologist's arm. "You and Radar stay here. We need to know if anyone shows up on the road."

"We don't have radios," Casey pointed out. "What are we supposed to do, whistle?"

Jack grinned, an expression just barely visible in the moonlight. "That will work."

"Should I whistle 'Dixie'?" Casey deadpanned.

"Or Beethoven's Fifth, doesn't matter," Jack retorted.

"Kinda prefer Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, myself."

"It's not bad. Like the canons."

"Kabooms are always good."

"Usually kabooms are good," Jack corrected.

"A kaboom right now would be just about perfect."

"Can't argue with that."

Daniel grinned. Casey and Jack were bantering as usual. Things were definitely looking up.

"Let's go," Jack said, nodding at Teal'c.

The two men worked their way further up the road, moving through the marshy land that bordered the river as quietly as possible. They emerged from the shadows just long enough to run across the road, before disappearing into the darkness once again; witnessed by Daniel and Casey only because they had known where to look, had been watching carefully for their teammates.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Sam paused as she worked on the drawing for the waterwheel. She'd had the idea earlier, having seen the water lift, and having Iteti explain it to her. He had smilingly acquiesced to her request for something to write on, and with. Had grinned when she excitedly told him her idea.

Iteti sat comfortably on the low couch, content to just watch her. The concentration on her face while she worked brought a slight frown that puckered the soft skin between her eyes. This time there would be no fat, lecherous bureaucrats. He'd take her before the Pharaoh himself, to offer the idea. He was certain Mibi would be amused by the entire thing.

"You've been staring at me all evening," she said softly, smiling at him.

"Just watching you. Basking in your beauty," he replied, is voice low...seductive.

She blushed. Iteti's adoration made her heart flutter. It also, however, make her a bit uncomfortable. She'd never been into wide-eyed infatuation. That type of 'worship' normally didn't last long, once the realities of life settled in. She started slightly. Where had that very...unusual...thought come from? She could feel an odd emptiness where she knew her memories should be. But...it wasn't as if the memories were gone, lost to her forever. Just as if they were being covered...no, blocked. As if there was something blocking them.

Sighing mentally, she returned her attention to the papyrus in front of her. Of course they were blocked. The damage to her brain from the fall was the culprit. Her stomach clenched slightly, the thought echoing hollowly in her mind. Perhaps she was just tired. She put down the quill, the feather from a pheasant, Iteti had told her. Replaced the lid on the hollowed-out stone that held the dark ink she'd used to put her idea onto paper...papyrus! Again the odd word left her feeling confused...worried; even a bit frightened.

He didn't miss the look of frustration that crossed her face, nor the sigh that left her lips. "Sammy?"

She looked up, smiled at him. "I'm just tired," she replied, forcing the smile to remain on her lips.

His body hardened. The feelings rushed through him...sweet in their familiarity. So very long since he had experienced them. He reveled in them...the increase in his heart rate, the quickening of his pulse, a slight rise in body temperature. The stiffening of his cock. Closed his eyes and savored the sensations.


"Come with me, Sammy. Let me make love to you," he whispered, rising to his feet, holding out his hand.

His erection was visible beneath the simple linen robe he wore, the belt not tight enough to keep it completely closed. She shuddered...at once concerned about the response she was having to the sight of the aroused man. Shouldn't she be feeling reciprocal emotions of desire? Shouldn't her body be reacting...differently? It was because of the fall, she told herself. They hadn't been able to...well, Iteti had told her that he had been waiting until he was certain she was well enough. If he believed that she was ready, shouldn't she be able to trust him? Nerves, she thought. She was just nervous. She stood up. Crossed the room and placed her trembling fingers against his.

"My sweet, beautiful Sm'n'khet," he sighed.

Now that was a weird sounding name. But...Sammy...he called her Sammy. Certainly fit, didn't it? And it sounded...it felt...right.

"Come, we'll go to bed, and we'll enter paradise together," he said softly.

She couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. Just nerves, she reminded herself firmly.


A  A  A  A  A  A


The guard at the gate was an impressive man. Lots of big muscles, Jack noted. Hopefully the guy was all brawn and no brain. He slipped up behind the guard, not an easy task, considering the guy was sitting on a chair beside the wall. Tapped him on the shoulder.

In one movement the sentry was turning to see who had approached and was on his feet. He was unprepared for the fist that came crashing into his face. Before he could howl in pain, a large hand clamped over his mouth. He barely had time to take note that someone was behind him, when one arm was yanked painfully backwards, his hand pushed against his shoulder.

"Do not utter a sound, or I will be forced to snap your neck," Teal'c hissed into the man's ear.

The guard didn't need to see his attacker to know that the man who held him in check was every bit as large as he was. And he had no doubt that the threat was real. He nodded.

Jack had already ripped a piece of cloth from his kilt. He shoved it into the man's mouth. "Lights out, asshole."

Teal'c moved his hand and Jack's fist crashed into the guard's face a second time. When the guard dropped to his knees, Teal'c's meaty fist impacted on the back of his skull, causing the hapless man to lose consciousness.

With a nod, Jack led the way through the gate and into the courtyard of the villa. The main house appeared to be dark. Three smaller buildings showed light, but only in one or two windows. What light there was appeared to be dim.

Teal'c managed to slide in front of Jack, and led the way toward the back of the villa. Light was shining from only one window. It was to this opening that they crept. He peeked over the ledge, jerked Jack down before that man had a chance to see what was transpiring in the room.

"What the-"

"I will enter first," Teal'c said. Hoping that his appearance would halt what he had witnessed. "Follow me, and remove Major Carter from the premises. I will meet you where the Jacksons wait for us."

Jack knew in an instant what Teal'c had done...why he had done it. His gut churned and twisted, bile burned in his throat. "Right."

Inside the room, Iteti stood in front of Sam, her dress hanging around her hips, her breasts bare, other than the gentle covering of his hands as he caressed her. His lips were moving over her throat and shoulders. Her hands were on his wrists, her head back, eyes closed.

Teal'c bounded through the window. "Major Carter!"

Iteti jerked. That was the Jaffa! Before he could react, a second man climbed through the window. Distracting him just long enough for the giant black man to cross the room and grab him. Shoved to his knees, his face forced into the silk that covered the bed, he felt his arms yanked behind him.

"Let him go! You're hurting him!" Sam screamed, struggling to pull her dress over her naked breasts.

Jack grabbed her by the shoulders. "Sam! Look at me! It's Jack! Look at me!"

Sam continued to struggle, screaming for help.

He was desperate to find a way through the block that had been reinserted into her mind. Tossed about frantically as precious seconds ticked by, and she continued to scream for help. Training...rely on her military training..."Major! Atten'hut!" Jack barked.

The sudden, sharp command had her snapping automatically to attention. Sam frowned. Her head was beginning to hurt...

Teal'c grabbed the cord that had held Iteti's robe and quickly tied the daemon's hands. He wasn't certain how much good it would actually do, but if it bought them enough time to escape, that was good enough for him.

Jack was already leading Sam toward the window. She was still struggling, although she had stopped screaming. "Don't make me knock you out, Carter."

Sam hesitated, stumbled, searing pain moving across her brain. "Oh, god," she mumbled, pressing her hands to her head.

"No time, Major, let's go!" Jack ordered.

Teal'c ran toward them, scooped Sam into his arms, tossed her over his shoulder and climbed back out of the window. Jack was on his heels, racing toward the gate; the sounds of dogs barking and slaves yelling, answering the screams of their mistress, filled the air.

"Which way?" Jack asked, pausing at the road. He nodded mentally in appreciation of their quick thinking when he saw Daniel and Casey racing toward them...there would be no time wasted signaling them.

"Away from the city," Daniel said, close enough to have heard Jack's question, his stride moving him past the two who were emerging from the villa.

"I can run," Sam ground out.

Teal'c paused only long enough to put her on her feet, his hand still clamped around her arm.

Jack grabbed the other arm, noted that Daniel had his hand around Casey's. Catching up to the couple, Jack grabbed Casey's free arm. The men would practically drag the women with them, but at the moment, they didn't have the luxury of matching their pace with those of the shorter-legged females.

The five came to an abrupt halt when the city wall loomed in front of them. They stared at it, panting heavily.

"That's just...weird," Daniel gasped.

"All roads lead to Rome," Jack wheezed.

"Now what?" Casey managed to ask.

Jack shook his head. Looked at Daniel. "You're The One, Danny. What do we do?"

Daniel's eyes sought those of his wife. "Case?"

She shrugged. "Hide. Hiding would be very good right now."

Not willing to question her, Jack nodded. "Any ideas?"

Daniel thought for a moment. "One. Come on."


A  A  A  A  A  A


Iteti rose to his feet, the cord dropping behind him. "They have escaped!" he growled, sending the message to his companions. "The Jaffa and the colonel just took Sammy!"

Four immediate flashes of light lit the room around him. Yuya spoke first. "Shouldn't you get dressed?"

Iteti looked down. His robe was open, exposing his naked body beneath. He spat Arabic curses at the younger man. Grabbed the kilt that was on a chair beside the bed.

"I thought you said that the blocks had become a part of them," Yuya drawled, fixing Tameri with a hard stare.

Her eyes went wide. "Do not blame me for this failure! You are just as guilty of not keeping control of the one called O'Neill!"

"I had control of him, until your charge broke free!"

"The Jaffa was deeply enmeshed in the illusion!" Tameri shot back.

"Apparently not, if he led O'Neill here!" Iteti tossed out.

Kawit shook her head. "They were all deeply enmeshed in the illusion. This is interference from the outside."

Three pairs of eyes focused on her. "They would not dare," Iteti hissed.

"There are others that exist beyond the Ascended," Kawit replied. The knowledge wasn't secret. It wasn't spoken of, for the most part, however. Beings who had any power at all didn't wish to acknowledge that there existed those whose power was greater. It was the way of the universe.

The words hung in the air, seemed to shimmer there, sending fear into the four Beings who stood staring at one another.

"It seems that Mibi has miscalculated," Tameri said quietly.

"We have no choice," Iteti said softly. Sadly. The rush of desire that had filled him, the love that pounded in his veins only a few short moments ago was replaced with deep remorse. They could have found happiness together here, he and his Sammy.

Yuya nodded. "We must destroy The One. When we do so, it will strike fear into the their hearts. They will pause...which will allow us to escape."

"And where will we go?" Kawit demanded.

"There are those who believe as Mibi does. Their ideas are his ideas," Tameri said. "We will join them."

"And then what?"

She gave an icy smile. "We will unite them as they have never been united before. With our guidance, we can retake the universe. And we will be gods!"

Her companions exchanged glances. Iteti nodded. He didn't particularly care about being a god. The idea of death, of ceasing to exist in any form, was not an option he would readily or willingly choose. "And Mibi?"

"What of him? He would leave us to battle The One alone. When we have destroyed The One, we will destroy Mibi," Tamari replied. She had suspected their leader's plans, had watched him when he had been so bold as to actually follow The One and his Guide, just before they were...captured...and brought to this plane of existence. She'd sensed his thoughts, his schemes. His betrayal.

"He can not defeat all of us if we stand together," Kawit added.

The two men looked at one another. "We will not let Mibi know that they have escaped. Hide your thoughts carefully, my brother and sisters. There is only one place for them to run. Finding them will not be difficult," Yuya said quietly.

Taking a moment to calm themselves, to carefully temper their thoughts, their emotions, the four joined hands. Smiled at one another. They were on the brink of greatness. In one bright flash, they were standing just inside the city gate.

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