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Hell is for Children
"They cry in the dark, so you can't see
They hide in the light, so you can't see their fears
Forgive and forget, all the while
Love and pain become one and the same
In the eyes of a wounded child…"
"Hell is for Children" by Pat Benatar, Neil Geraldo, and R. Capps
Daniel was carefully examining the UAV images from P7Y 190. The area that surrounded the small village seemed to be analogous to that of the Russian steppes. There were distinct differences, such as the rocky outcroppings to the magnetic west of the small assortment of round shelters. From what he could tell, these people were very primitive. He had no idea if they were related to the Mongols who had roamed the steppes for centuries. The similarity of their dwellings was not enough to make a definitive call in that area.
"So, what do you think, will these folks let us mine the naquadah that Carter says is in those hills?" Jack asked, walking into the archaeologist's office.
"I have no idea," Daniel murmured, studying one of the close up shots. He smiled at the upturned faces of the children who were waving at the UAV as it flew overhead.
"Has Casey looked at these yet?" The colonel turned several of the photos so that he could see them better.
Daniel frowned up at the older man, repositioned the photographs, continued to study them. "Not that I know of."
Jack glanced around the room. "Where is Casey?"
The clothing was much different than what the Mongols had worn, but that could simply be a lack of resources. There probably weren't other civilizations nearby to trade with, or steal from. But the dwellings…they were nearly identical to those erected by the Mongols who opted to remain in one area...
"Getting coffee with Sam and Janet, I guess," was the distracted reply.
Jack grinned. Daniel was off in archaeologist la-la land. He didn't bother telling the young man he was leaving, nothing would have filtered through anyway.
A A A A A A
Casey was, as a matter of fact, sitting in Sam's lab, a cup of coffee in hand, telling her two best friends about her honeymoon. At least about the non-intimate parts. The only thing she'd admitted to was that Daniel had let her wear that special white teddy for about half an hour. Which resulted in a predicament for Major Ferretti, who was running the betting pool. No one had figured that the young man would leave it on his bride for longer than fifteen minutes, which was Teal'c's wager. However, there were five other people who'd made the same bet. They were technically the closest to being correct. There wasn't going to be an easy way to divide the money being held six ways. Casey had giggled hysterically upon learning of the problem.
"It was so beautiful," the young blonde sighed. She glanced at her companions over the top of her mug as she took a sip. "I guess that probably sounds silly to you, I mean, both of you have been all over the world," she said shyly.
Sam smiled. "I've never been to the Bahamas, or in a honeymoon suite."
"Was the bathtub really that big?" Janet asked for a third time. There had been a ten-minute discussion about the two-person jetted tub that had occupied one corner of the suite. Casey had insisted that at least three people would have fit into it easily. She'd refused to expound on what she and Daniel had done, only to say that they'd indeed made love in it, no less than five times.
"Yep. I learned that…um…water sports…can be fun," Casey replied, a twinkle in her green eyes. She sighed. "I hope we can go away like that again sometime, just the two of us, nothing more to worry about than what to order for dinner."
Janet and Sam exchanged smiles. "Maybe you can talk him into a few days away for your anniversary," Janet suggested.
Casey smiled. "Maybe. Hi, Jack," she said, flashing a bright smile at the colonel as he walked into the room.
"Hi, Casey." A smile like that could be damned dangerous, he thought, just before his eyes locked for a few fleeting seconds on sapphire blue ones. "Should I come back?" he asked.
Sam grinned. "It's alright, sir, we're finished now anyway."
Jack grinned. They'd agreed that on base she'd continue to call him "colonel" or "sir", and he'd continue to call her 'Carter' or 'major'. Off base however…he had to catch hold of his wandering train of thought. The two Air Force officers hadn't been to bed yet, neither one of them wanting to rush into a physical relationship. They'd waited too long to be together to screw it up at the very beginning. "Danny's looking at those pictures. I don't know what he's figured out from them, but he should have something by the time we head down for the briefing."
"He always does," Sam agreed.
"I need to head back down to the infirmary," Janet said. "Welcome back, Casey."
"Thanks, Janet," the young woman said.
With a flutter of her fingers, the petite doctor left the room.
"So, Case, did you do any fishing?" Jack teased.
"Not technically. We did watch them though, when we went snorkeling. Which is totally awesome, once you get past the whole 'breathing-with-your-face-under-water' thing," she said.
Jack smiled. "Yeah, it takes a few minutes to get the hang of it."
"It was so beautiful. I'd like to try scuba diving. It must be amazing to really get to examine a coral reef," she said.
"Well, that vacation is going to have to wait. Better go roust Daniel," Jack said. "We'll meet up with you in the briefing room."
Casey stood to her feet. "Okay. See you in a few." She bit back a grin as Sam reached out to pull Jack closer for a hug. She hadn't known them long, but she was glad to see that they were finally able to be together. Daniel had told her that they'd been attracted to each other…in love with each other…as long as he'd known them. He'd told her of meeting Sam for the first time on Abydos, sharing the discovery of the Abydos Cartouche with her, the excitement of having her understand the ramifications of that discovery.
A A A A A A
Daniel was still at his desk, frowning over several of the UAV images when she entered the room. She stood just inside the doorway, simply watching him. Did he have any idea how sexy he was when he was working? "Ready for the briefing?"
She smiled, stepped closer. "Daniel?"
He was flipping through the photos, obviously looking for something specific.
Well, something finally filtered through to him! She gave a wicked little grin, one that would have been a warning had he looked up at her. "So, anyway, I told Jack that I'd give it a shot, and I'm going to go strip in the commissary."
"Okay, whatever," he said, still completely absorbed in what he was doing.
She walked into the corridor, began counting the seconds.
It was all she could do to remain on her feet when Daniel flew past her, heading for the elevator. "Going somewhere?" she managed to ask between fits of giggles.
He turned around and looked at her, a smile slowly spreading over his face. "So not funny, Mrs. Jackson," he declared.
"I thought it was absolutely hilarious," she replied.
Daniel reached out and caught her hand, pulled her into his embrace. "I guess I was a little preoccupied," he admitted.
"A little? Daniel, this place could have fallen down around your ears and you never would have noticed!"
"That is not true!"
"Yes it is."
"Well, maybe a little," he admitted. "Let me get the photos and the report, you'll need to take a look at it."
She nodded. "So were you able to come to any conclusions about the village?"
He shook his head as he scooped the photographs and the accompanying summary of the findings into the manila folder. "Not really. The dwellings could be Mongolian, but the clothing is very different. That, of course could be only a result of not having the same resources as the Mongols here did. I have no idea about their customs, which would tell me more about whether or not this group of people is related to the Mongols who lived on the steppes of Russia. The facial features are similar, but not identical."
Ask a silly question, she thought, smiling to herself. "Do you think they'll be willing to talk to us?"
Daniel glanced up at her. "I don't know. You tell me."
"It doesn't work that way," she said softly. "I can tell you if we're going to be in danger. That's all."
"That's enough," he replied with a smile.
A A A A A A
General Hammond listened carefully as Daniel told him what he'd been able to extrapolate from the photos, and Sam reported on the available naquadah. He turned to Casey. "Well, Mrs. Jackson," he said, his blue eyes twinkling, "what can you tell us?"
With a smile, Casey opened the folder. She never examined any reports without someone nearby, something that Janet had insisted on after her reaction to one particular mission file on her very first day at the SGC. She scanned the photos, smiled at the children. One image showed a group of little girls. Sudden stabbing pain gripped her heart. Something bad was going to happen to them. She shook herself mentally, forced herself to move on. There was an underlying sense of dread, but she was certain it had more to do with the fate of those little girls than anything the team needed to worry about. She took a deep breath. Daniel had been insistent that she tell them everything, no matter how trivial. She did just that.
"But you don't sense anything amiss concerning the mission?" the general asked.
She shook her head. "No, sir. Just…uneasy."
Jack studied her carefully. "You say that this could just be a result of what you think is in store for those kids?"
This time she nodded. "Something…horrible…is going to happen to them. I have no idea what, or when."
"Is there a chance that our presence will affect them?" Sam asked, a frown on her face.
"Are you asking if our visit could result in whatever it is I'm feeling?" Casey asked her friend.
"I don't know. I don't think so, I don't…feel…any of us, at least not anywhere near these little girls, or what happens to them," Casey replied.
All eyes turned to the general. He sighed. "I'm going to give you a go on this. Casey, if you sense that SG-1's presence is the catalyst for what happens to those children, tell Colonel O'Neill immediately." He turned to Jack. "If she says one word, I want you back here ASAP."
Jack nodded his understanding. "Got it, sir."
"All right, SG-1. You have a go."
Jack and Sam stood and saluted as the general rose to his feet; Casey, Daniel, and Teal'c rose in respect as well. "Ready to move out in fifteen," Jack instructed.
A A A A A A
Casey was uncharacteristically quiet as she and Sam readied their packs. The tall major glanced at the young blonde several times, but the young woman didn't seem to notice. She shivered twice, pain of the sort she'd never experienced before wrapped around her heart and began to squeeze. Something bad…something horrible was going to happen to those little girls. And she had no clue how to warn them. She felt helpless. Images of being bound and beaten by Jaffa flashed through her mind. The girls, or SG-1? She couldn't see for sure, no matter how she struggled.
Sam watched the emotions that flickered over delicate features, filled those deep green eyes. "Casey?"
She looked up. "I don't know how to help them!" she whispered fiercely.
"Maybe when we get there you'll be able to see more," Sam replied softly.
"I hope so," Casey said, as she shivered again.
The first thing that Daniel noticed when the two women entered the 'gate room was that Casey's lip was between her teeth. "Angel?"
She shook her head. "It feels so horrible…and I have no clue how to change it."
"Sometimes things can't be changed," he said softly.
Casey looked up into troubled blue eyes. He was thinking of Sha're. His inability to save her, help her. "Sometimes. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try."
He smiled, kissed her forehead. "We'll do our best to help them," he promised.
"Godspeed, SG-1," Gen. Hammond called from the control room.
"That's the word, kids," Jack said. "Let's go." He led the way up the ramp and through the shimmering event horizon.
A A A A A A
Wind. Lots of wind. Casey pulled her cap firmly over her braided hair. The Stargate for P7Y 190 was on a small hill. The village they would visit was just beyond the low hill in the distance in front of them.
"Send the equipment home, Major," Jack directed, as he and Teal'c began to carefully scan their surroundings.
Daniel dialed the 'gate while Sam dragged the UAV closer to the steps. The remote for the MALP was in the hidden compartment right where it was supposed to be. As soon as the event horizon was established, she programmed the auto-return sequence, put the remote back in its place, and when the ten second delay was over, the MALP rolled up the steps and through the shining circle. Daniel ran up to help her gently push the UAV through.
"Any chance that the locals know about that stuff and the 'gate?" Jack asked Daniel as soon as the two scientists joined the rest of the team.
"I'm pretty sure that they know about the 'gate," Daniel replied. "Whether or not they understand what it is, or how it works, I have no idea. Their reaction to the UAV was one of surprise. The adults seemed to be a bit afraid of it, the children were more curious than frightened. It's possible that the Stargate, they probably know it as the Chappa'ai, is nothing more than something that stands on the steppes, and has forever, in their minds and history. If they 'visit' the 'gate, or come close enough, then they'd have seen the MALP and UAV."
Casey ducked her head and smiled. Jack was rolling his eyes before Daniel had finished.
"Danny, new concept. Simple yes or no answers," Jack groused. "Let's go. Teal'c, on the six, buddy."
The shallow valley offered a bit of relief from the wind that blew around them, moving the short, yellow-green grass wildly back and forth. Daniel speculated that the village was located in another shallow valley, in order to take advantage of the natural windbreak.
In just over thirty minutes the team was standing on the opposite ridge, looking down at the small village of round huts. Jack motioned for Daniel to take point, knowing that his linguistic skills would be needed. The young man had natural charm that often resulted in the locals accepting the strangers who suddenly appeared in their midst, as well.
As was usually the case for the team, it was the children who first noticed the five strangely dressed people who slowly approached. Frightened mothers grabbed them, pulled them into the safety of the huts. Within seconds, the men of the village were standing shoulder to shoulder, bows almost as tall as they were stretched taut, and long, sharp arrows pointed at the intruders.
"We come in peace," Daniel said softly, using the only dialect of Mongolian that he knew.
The brown, weathered faces of the men remained impassive. One man narrowed his eyes slightly. "Why are you walking?"
The young archaeologist smiled. The Mongols relied heavily on their horses. Treated them better than they did their families at times, making sure that the animals had food and water, even if the children did without. "We have come through the Chappa'ai."
Low murmuring moved among the group. "You are demons!" the man said, ready to let loose the arrow held between his fingers. Jack and Teal'c already had their weapons up and trained on the leader, Sam and Casey followed suit.
"No! Wait!" Daniel cried out, both hands raised, his P90 swinging at his waist. "We aren't demons. We're travelers, explorers. We're human, just like you!"
The man studied the light skinned strangers. The warrior noted that they held those odd…things …as if they were weapons. His glance moved over the two light haired women. It was possible that these strangers had left their own tribe, and were seeking refuge. Perhaps they'd been banished from their people. Whatever reason brought them here, it could only mean trouble. "You will go away. We have no room for you. No food. No water. Go!"
Daniel hurriedly translated.
"Okay," Jack said, watching the men and those deadly arrows. "Tell them we're on our way. Major, where are these naquadah deposits?"
"Due west of us, sir," Sam replied.
"Jack, if they won't even talk to us, there is no way they're going to sit by and let us mine," Daniel argued. "For all we know, those hills could be sacred to them!"
"Daniel, my job is to find out where the naquadah is. I’m going to do that. We'll worry about making peace with the natives later, since they're not in much of a talking mood right now," the older man replied.
"Don't start, Daniel," the colonel said, his voice holding a warning tone.
Daniel's eyes filled with frustration. He turned back to the leader. "We will move on," he said simply. Not waiting for the rest of the team, he headed toward the steeper slope to the right of them.
Jack rolled his eyes, heaved a sigh. Admitted to himself that as annoying as Daniel could be when he was in one of his 'protect the culture at all costs' moods, he was still a damned good man. And usually right. He glanced over his shoulder. The men were watching closely, but several had lowered those honking big bows.
Casey jogged slightly to catch up with her husband. Slipped her hand into his. Smiled when his fingers tightened around hers. "He knows you're right," she said softly.
"Could have fooled me," Daniel grumped, pouting slightly.
"You'll find a way to make peace with them," she said softly.
He smiled. Her faith in him was unshakable. Something that he'd never had before, from anyone. Something that soothed his wounded pride. Even his teammates, his closest friends, had doubted him from time to time. "I have to try. If there's as much naquadah as Sam thinks there is, the Pentagon will be hell bent to get it."
"You'll find a way," she repeated. She glanced over her shoulder. Caught sight of five little girls. Felt her heart stop beating. For one second their faces were covered with bruises, they were crying, holding out their hands to her, begging silently for help. She closed her eyes, shook her head slightly, looked again. They were watching her with wide, curious eyes. She shivered. Something horrible, she thought again.
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