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Fragile Balance of Politics

 

Epilogue

Casey sighed as she skimmed the list. She was searching for four tablets that possibly had information about the Ancient weapon...a conclusion made as the result of a recent discovery by SG-11. The team had photographed a temple during their mission that had...based on the description of a section of text that had been translated late the day before...referenced a planet that could have been P59 611. That text had also indicated that there were clues left in another place, and from the translation details, it had been a planet previously visited by an SG team. And, the consensus was, if that planet had been visited, and the four tablets located, they were in the storage room. Somewhere. If that conclusion was correct - and since it had been made by her Husband, the brilliant Doctor Daniel Jackson, there was no reason to believe it wasn't - then there should be a clue or two or three about the Ancient weapon on those tablets.

She put her hands on her hips as she scanned the room. Absolutely no clue where to start. Daniel had promised to help her, as soon as he had finished giving out the assignments for the week. It seemed that everyone in the department was doing some sort of research or translation, looking for any trace, any hint that would lead them to the pieces of the Ancient weapon that they were now convinced existed. Ba'al was already in possession of one of those pieces. As luck would have it, probably one of the most important pieces.

Jack and Teal'c were working on a plan to get that piece...as soon as that slimy bastard had been located. He'd disappeared from RK5-212; although from what Jack, Daniel, and Sam had been able to overhear before escaping to the safety of the SGC, carrying their still dead teammates, it was possible that he had left a contingent of Jaffa there. The question had become: would he send one of his other ships to gather the intelligence reports, or would he do so himself? Getting onto the planet through the Stargate wasn't an option...not now that SG-1 had proven that leaving it unguarded was a risk. But, if the Prometheus could detect Ba'al's ship, even follow a scout ship to where the Goa'uld was hiding, they'd be able to get onboard, and find that 'scepter'. Or so the theory went.

She was bent over, sorting through the first crate she had opened when the soft clearing of a throat behind her brought her upright. Odd, that sound hadn't been near the door...

Whirling around, expecting to see Annika standing on the other side of the mirror, she almost fell flat on her ass when she came face to face with...herself.

The slender blonde in the other room...a storage room of some sort, it appeared...gave a wide smile. "Spooky as hell, isn't it?"

"That's one way of putting it," Casey mumbled as she gathered her still reeling senses.

"Obviously this isn't the reality I'm looking for," the blonde said.

"How do you know that?" The question was one of sincere curiosity. If there was a way to determine which reality one was 'looking' at...

"You're not Annika," was the cheeky reply.

"Oh."

"And...the hum is wrong."

"Oh."

"Annoying when the brain seems to freeze up, isn't it?"

She couldn't help but respond to the knowing grin. "Doesn't happen often."

"True. I'm Casey Jackson," the slender blonde said; although, her counterpart thought idly, the introduction wasn't exactly necessary.

"Me, too." The comment regarding her redheaded friend finally clicked in her mind. "You're looking for Annika?"

"Yep. She...uh...dropped by for a visit a few months back. I'd intended to check up on her sooner, but you know how it is," the blonde said, shrugging her slender shoulders, guilt flashing through her green eyes.

"Unfortunately. You must be the Casey she was looking for when she and I met," Casey said, a slight frown on her face.

"No doubt. She told me about meeting you. To be honest, you were a hell of a lot more polite than several of our...counterparts. But given Annika's brand of diplomacy, she's probably lucky that there was the whole 'stuck in the wrong place if you touch the mirror' thing happening."

Casey snorted, then giggled softly. "I was rather shocked to have her demand that I lift my shirt."

"I'll bet." The alternate cocked her head sideways. Studied...herself...for a moment. "You've been through hell and back," she said softly.

"Gee, that obvious?"

A shake of her head sent blonde hair flying into motion, then settling against her slender shoulders once again. "I can...feel...it."

She'd been able to sense that Annika was a seer, but nothing more than that, the first time the two had met. And, the redhead had intimated that her counterpart was very...powerful. She must be, Casey thought, if she were able to sense so much, through the 'distance' of the Quantum mirror. "It was bad...but I'll be okay."

"I can sense that, too," the other Casey said, smiling.

"Annika has some very...powerful...family members. Oakey was able to help me tremendously," Casey said, the gratitude she felt washing over her once again, as it did every time she thought about the afternoon when a tree had been able to convince her that she was doing the job she was destined to do, and that her 'gift' was more powerful than she realized.

"Annika's no slouch at helping, either," the slender blonde murmured. A very long day spent in the company of the redheaded seer had done wonders for her own battle against the darkness that lurked in her soul. "Have you talked to Annika lately?"

"Just a couple of days ago, as a matter of fact. Spent the afternoon in her reality," Casey replied. "She...she'd run away."

"Oh, goddess! Poor Daniel!"

"Yeah, he was in bad shape."

"What the hell did she run from...or for?"

"There was a daemon from our reality who managed to skip into hers. He'd decided that since Daniel had ruined his plans of universal godhood here, that he'd take it out on any and every Daniel Jackson he could find. Starting with Annika."

"Oh, that poor kid!"

"She's tough...she managed to hold on to him to keep him from getting away again. He's dead...er...destroyed, and she's fine, now. Well, she'll be better. What she went through will take time to heal from."

The alternate Casey nodded. "Seems like the second wives of Doctor Daniel Jackson suffer a hell of a lot."

"If I have to go through hell to be with him, I'll do it," Casey said, a soft smile on her face.

"You and me both," the alternate smiled. "I should get going, I need to find Annika before it gets too much later. Duncan will have a shit fit if he finds out I'm down here again."

No clue who Duncan was. But..."When you see Annika, tell her that everything is fine, and...hey, can you wait just a minute?"

"Sure."

"Don't move."

"Won't even wiggle," the alternate promised, an amused smile on her face.

Casey dashed from the room, across the hallway, and into Daniel's office. She knew about the letter he had written, intending to give it to his alternate self when the opportunity presented itself. Given the events of their 'meeting', it just hadn't been the 'right' time. But this was the perfect chance to have that letter delivered.

Daniel barely looked up from the work table when Casey ran in...until she started rummaging through the center drawer of his desk. "What are you looking for?"

"This!" she replied, holding up the sealed envelope.

"Okay, I'll bite. Why?"

"So I can give it to me to give to Annika to give to her Daniel," she explained breathlessly.

"Of course." When his Wife disappeared again as quickly as she had arrived, he chuckled loudly, and then returned his attention to the photos he was still translating.

The alternate Casey was sitting in an office chair, swinging slowly back and forth. "Sorry, I moved a little bit. I never pass up the chance to sit."

Casey grinned. "Yeah, hiking or standing, I do a lot of that."

"Toss three kids on top of it," the slender seer in the mirror retorted dryly.

"Three?"

"Mmmhmm. Two boys and a girl. Well, Emmy...Emily...is our oldest. Then Nicholas, and then Ethan."

"Wow," Casey said softly.

"When the time is right, it will happen for you, too," the alternate said sagely.

That time was very far off, Casey thought. "Right. Um...could you give this to Annika, to give to her Daniel? It's from my Daniel. I don't know what it says, although I have my suspicions."

"Uh, sure, I guess."

Casey put the letter against the mirror; leaning over carefully, making certain that her arm didn't activate the alarm, then watched as part of the envelope 'disappeared'. "Just take it, but be careful not to touch the mirror."

"Right." The alternate gingerly reached out, took the letter between her thumb and index finger.

"Thanks."

"You bet. It was nice to meet you, Casey, but I really need to find Annika."

"One of these days, someone is going to dial that thing and actually be looking for me," Casey said drolly. Her counterpart laughed softly. "I need to get back to work anyway."

"I'll pretend I didn't hear that...so I won't feel guilty about the work I'm not doing."

"Right. I need to get busy," she said, holding up the list of tablets Daniel wanted located. "Oh...wait...I know you're pressed for time, but, um...are there any little bits of advice you can give me? Annika had mentioned something about you and your Daniel having been married for awhile."

Green eyes twinkled with mischief. "Love him. Listen to him. And when he least expects it, become his Little Slave."

"Slave?"

"Mmmhmm. It's nothing kinky...well, not too kinky. No whips or chains or anything like that. Just...just hand your will over to him. Let him do whatever comes to mind."

"I did that...sort of. On our honeymoon," Casey replied.

"Good, then you won't have any problems with this part. I'm guessing you have a few pieces of sexy lingerie?"

She blushed, but nodded.

"Okay, get a lace choker that matches something he really likes. I have a white silk corset that only covers my middle-"

"Me, too!"

The alternate Casey grinned from ear to ear. "Of course you do! Okay, find a really delicate chain...believe it or not, some of the 'upper end' pet stores have really pretty leashes. Get one of those, attach it to the choker, put the other end in his hand, kneel down in front of him and offer yourself to him. Trust me, he'll never be able to look at a leash the same way again!"

Casey giggled. "Got it! Thank you!"

"You're welcome. And...um...any time you need to talk, just dial me up. You'll recognize the hum when you find the right reality."

She nodded her understanding. Waved in return when the slender blonde wiggled her fingers. The mirror went dark. If she hadn't turned in the direction she had, she might not have seen it. The...mark...was small. Unobtrusive. But it was there.

With a smile, Case reached out, mindful that she didn't disturb any of the glowing sentinel laser beams. Ran her finger over what appeared to be an acorn carved into the top corner of the frame. Felt a slight snap, as if she'd been zapped by static electricity.

"I am but a simple call away," Oakey's voice echoed softly. "All you need do to contact me is to touch the acorn."

The smile that lit her face was one of pure joy. Knowing that she had the support of a Seventh Level Being made facing her task as Guide to The One seem less overwhelming. She owed that Tree a great debt, one that she'd never be able to repay. Yep, one of these days, she wanted to meet Oakey, face to face.

She had just stepped away from the mirror, was leaning over one of the open crates when Daniel stepped into the room, a frown on his face.

It had taken a few minutes, but when Casey's rather...bizarre...comment had filtered through, he figured he should check on her. "Hey, gorgeous."

"Hey, handsome."

"I heard your voice...who were you talking to?" He cast a glance at the mirror, relieved to see the black expanse of glass with in the frame.

"Myself."

"Oh."

She couldn't help but giggle. "Really. I was talking to me."

"Okay."

Waiting, she counted the seconds before he put two and two together.

"Oh! Um...who...what were you...she...what or whom was she looking for?" Daniel asked, finally understanding what had been going on...realizing that his almost subconscious suspicions had been confirmed. And simultaneously wondering if there was a way to prevent that damned thing from activating without their prior approval. Or his, at least, when it came to his Wife. She was just too damned impulsive...too tender hearted. She'd race through to any reality she was convinced needed her help. He wasn't certain his heart and blood pressure could take that.

"She was looking for Annika," Casey replied.

"Our Annika?"

"The very same. She's the Casey that Annika was looking for when she and I met."

Daniel frowned. Which meant..."I've met her."

"When?"

"When we were tossed into that reality."

The implications set in, and Casey dropped onto the crate beside her. "Then she...she wrote...she's the reason..."

"She's the reason I looked for you," Daniel confirmed. "I really would like to thank her for that...for helping me find the woman who completes me...the better half of my heart and soul."

His voice was soft, and he'd reached out to caress her cheek. She closed her eyes, pressed against the warmth of his hand. "I should thank her, too," she whispered. "You're everything to me...I couldn't live without you."

Daniel leaned over to kiss her, just barely getting a taste of her sweet lips when the door banged against the wall.

"Told you so," a familiar voice growled. "We need to find this weapon, and you two are making out in storage rooms," Jack growled.

"You know, you weren't half as annoying as a kid," Daniel muttered.

"Oh, har-dee-har-har," Jack replied. "We're getting ready to go to Sonic for lunch."

"We'll get our coats," Daniel said. "Any luck coming up with a plan to get on Ba'al's ship?"

"Not yet. Find that weapon?"

"Not yet."

Casey smiled, laced her fingers with Daniel's and followed Jack, Sam, and Teal'c into the corridor. Everything was back to normal...or as normal as it ever got for those who worked at the SGC. There were still bad guys to be fought. Goa'uld to defeat. Ancient weapons to find. But they'd do it. Because that's what they did. They were SG-1.

 

A A A A A A

 

The Being nodded. Once again, a very special group of mortals had accomplished what their 'betters' had failed to do. But not without a bit of help...

In a flash of light, the two found themselves standing on the shore of a wide lake. The water was placid...reflected the clear blue sky above. After exchanging a glance of open fear, the two carefully examined their surroundings.

"What happened? Where are we?" asked the smaller of the two. Her white head continued to move back and forth as she looked from the water to the low, rolling hills...which appeared pink. Heather, she thought idly. Scottish heather.

The taller woman ran a hand through her dark hair. She always presented herself as calm, totally in control of the events surrounding her. This...this was unexpected. She had no idea where she was. Although she had her suspicions, and knew the reason.

"Greetings," a soft voice called.

The two still confused women turned in unison. "Greetings," the dark haired woman replied.

The Being who approached them was beautiful...long black hair that flowed in waves around her shoulders; eyes as dark as night, which were filled with warmth. Her ruby red lips turned up in a welcoming smile. "Oma Desala, and the one The Guide refers to as 'Miss Eloise'."

"You have us at a disadvantage," Oma replied. She didn't know the Being's name. She did know, however, that the Being was from the Fourth Level of Existence. She could sense that much.

"I am Tareena. I have been sent to meet you."

"I see," Oma said, doing her best not to shift nervously.

"We have...watched...as you tread so near the line of interference. Doing that which your heart told you was right. What we, as Higher Level Beings of the universe, have forgotten was our duty."

Miss Eloise stole a glance at her companion before speaking. "So, we're going to be punished? For making certain that The One and his Guide could complete the task they never should have been called upon to do?"

Tareena smiled. "No. You are not to be punished. What you did was set into motion events that righted a heinous wrong. Surely you...felt...the disturbance when the Protector from the other reality arrived."

Miss Eloise did her best to appear innocent. She'd felt it all right. Doubted there was a being on any level in the entire universe that hadn't felt it!

"I don't understand," Oma confessed. And she didn't like the feeling. It had been eons since she'd been on the receiving end of cryptic messages.

"Welcome home," Tareena said, hugging each of the women in turn.

"Home?" Miss Eloise croaked. "What about Casey? And her friends?"

"You will still be her guide. And you'll...observe...The One and his Protectors. Regular reports will be required, of course."

Miss Eloise bit back her chuckle. "Always hated reports."

"But we'll be pleased to offer all that we observe," Oma smiled, putting her arm around the diminutive seer's shoulders. "The Ascended Committee-"

"Has no say in this matter. You answer to us, now," Tareena said.

"I have no objections to that," Oma sighed.

Miss Eloise ducked her head, her thoughts whirling. She had found a very safe corner to watch from, peeking in at the hullabaloo that had occurred at the arrival of the Seventh Level Being...a tree of all things!...from the reality to which Mibi had fled. One hell of a show it had been, too. And that Tree...well, there was a Being she could respect. She had certainly given the 'Big Boys', as Casey referred to them, a bit of hell. Had been entertaining as all get out. She'd damned near given herself away when she'd laughed at the outrage of those Fifth Level Beings when Mibi had exploded all over them. When the Seventh Level Beings of this reality had finally arrived, the Tree had been so condescending that for a time she had actually expected a battle to break out. The old seer had been relieved when the Tree had so gently taken the guilt and anguish from Daniel and Casey...guilt that neither of them should have been carrying. After all those two had endured, all they had suffered because of Daniel's position as The One, they deserved the peace of mind offered to them. From the reaction of those still 'slimed' Fifth Level Beings, that guilt had been staggering. That two mere mortals had born it was nothing less than amazing. She had no doubt that soon that guilt would be transferred to those as much...or more...to blame for the entire situation. She wondered just how well the members of the Ascended Committee would deal with those painful, negative emotions. It was amusing to now be above that self-righteous group of hypocrites...and it meant she'd have a ring-side seat when the shit rolled downhill. And it was telling of exactly how important Daniel and Casey Jackson were in the grand scheme of things. Something that blasted Committee had never recognized.

"Rest, now. And then you may assume your duties."

Two soft, overstuffed chairs appeared. Tareena disappeared. Oma and Miss Eloise settled into the chairs.

"Well, looks like we did the right thing after all," Miss Eloise mused.

"It seems that the teacher has become the student," Oma said. "I believe I have been more influenced by my encounters with Daniel Jackson than I realized."

"You've been doing the right thing for much longer than that," the old seer said gently. "You've risked your very existence time and again to help others."

"I followed my heart," Oma sighed.

"Which will always lead you in the right direction."

"So Casey believes."

"She hasn't been wrong yet," Miss Eloise huffed.

Oma smiled. "No, she hasn't."

"As long as I still get to watch her and that corker of a colonel, I'm a happy old woman," the seer declared.

"You always did grasp the concept of finding joy in the simple things," Oma teased.

"Hmmph. Now I have to give reports on what I see. Don't know that it's anybody else's business," Miss Eloise snorted.

"Tell our new...superiors...what you believe is acceptable."

"Are you telling me to hide things from them?" Miss Eloise's eyes went wide.

Oma gave a conspiratorial smile. "Not at all. I'm telling you to follow your heart."

That, Miss Eloise thought, would not be difficult to do. Not when it concerned Casey, and her Daniel, and her friends. She would protect those very special people with all that she was. Because they were SG-1.

 

THE END


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