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Hell to Pay

Chapter 2

Ba'al paced the pel'tak, walking circles around the control console. Making his Jaffa nervous. The Goa'uld had been in a dour disposition for weeks, ever since the golden haired woman had escaped him a second time. The men standing duty in the room exchanged uneasy glances. Their god in a foul mood was not an easy thing to endure. The High Priest had announced that their god had found the woman who would be his consort, his queen. She who had been tested so cruelly. The Tau'ri named Casey Jackson. The Jaffa who watched him could only hope that Ba'al found the woman again...soon!

His failure to take over all that Anubis had held only added to Ba'al's ire. The coordinates for Anubis' hidden laboratory had been erroneous. Whether his spy had been complicit with the lie, or honestly believed the information to be true was unknown, and that spy was now dead. Word had come from his spies among other Goa'uld servants that one of the moons of Azumi, a planet controlled by Amaterasu...who had been 'allied' with Anubis, had imploded. Moons did not just destroy themselves. There had to be an explanation. It seemed, however, that no one had such an explanation. To further complicate matters, Amaterasu declared that any Goa'uld coming near the rubble of what had once been a minor moon of Azumi would be dealt with as an invader. The recent upheaval caused by the civil war instigated by Anubis had left few System Lords willing to risk what ships and Jaffa they still owned. His position was no better than that of the others.

As much as he wanted...needed...to learn the secret of the Kull soldiers Anubis had been creating, Ba'al wanted to find Casey Jackson. He was certain in his own mind that with her at his side, her abilities as a seer at his disposal, he would be unstoppable...and would gather the reins of ultimate control in his own hands. Thoughts of her haunted him, day and night, making him restless, his blood boiling with lust for her. He cursed again as the fact that she had been in his hands twice taunted him. If he had but known!

Shanda watched from her place on the floor beside the throne. Her god had been ill-tempered as of late, the name of that bitch with hair the color of the sun on his lips as he slept...fitfully. No longer did he seek comfort from her...he spent long hours in the harem, using the women there until he was too exhausted to move. She had heard whispers of his inability to find pleasure with any of the nubile women who served him. Release, yes. Pleasure, no. And that one name left his lips each time he poured out his essence. Oh, how she wished she had killed that demon bitch! Her god...the man she loved...would then be free of the curse that the witch had left on him!

With a heavy sigh, Ba'al threw himself onto his throne. "Return us to Babylonia," he said wearily. He would see to it that all was ready for the Purification Ceremony, so that once he had Casey in his custody again, there would be little time wasted in making her his Consort. And taking her to his bed. At this point in time, he would risk addiction to her sweetness. He closed his eyes...brought forth the memory of how sweet she smelled...how soft her skin was beneath his fingers...the soft curves of her body...Growled when he felt himself becoming aroused. Knowing that only Casey could quench the fire that raged in him, he sat stoically on his throne, watching as the ship entered hyperdrive.

Shifting so that she was as close to Ba'al as she could be without touching him, Shanda waited breathlessly, hoping he would take her to his quarters. She would please him this time. She would make him love her again. And forget about the Tau'ri with whom her god was seemingly obsessed. Had she known about his plans to make Casey his wife...his Queen, the young lo'taur would have begun scheming to murder the interfering golden-haired bitch as soon as possible. Her misery would be complete when the woman was found once again.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Sarah moved slowly, carefully. Karinda had been working non-stop for several hours, an attempt to physically wear out her host, the young woman was certain. She was tired, but her thoughts were in a whirl. As long as her symbiote remained in a state of consciousness that resembled sleep, she was free to move about as she pleased.

At least she was back on the ship. Here she was the mighty Osiris. Everyone on board served her. No one questioned her actions...or her motives. No one told her where she could go, or when. She was in charge...here. And it was here that she intended to stay, until she'd decided on which planet she would have her new palace built.

Karinda remained motionless, silent. She 'eavesdropped' on the young woman, no longer overwhelmed by the chaotic, crazed thoughts that seemed to swirl continually. She was as weary as her host, after doing hours of detailed research into the use of canopic jars as a form of punishment among the Goa'uld. And any variations therein. Several reports mentioned the wrath of Ra against Osiris and Isis for plotting against him, and that it couldn't be confirmed, but it was suspected that poison had been introduced into the liquid the symbiote Osiris was placed in. Not enough to kill him, but enough to weaken him. And after several thousand years of exposure to the chemical, it had become a part of the creature, and he had been unable to rid his system of that poison.

This confirmed for the Tok'ra the reason that Sarah had been able to remain as strong, and as 'active' as she had been as a Goa'uld host. Usually, within days, weeks at the most, there was little that the host was able to do, other than watch through their own eyes as the symbiote did whatever it wished. As time went on, less and less of the host actually remained. It seemed that few Goa'uld were actually aware of this fact, however, believing that the feeble human simply chose to hide away. Karinda had blended with two other humans who had been taken as Goa'uld hosts. Neither had been much more than a shell after several millennium of struggling vainly against their captors, and she had declared that it was better to let the poor souls find eternal peace.

Of all of the Tok'ra, Karinda had taken more hosts, had been blended more times. It was a strain on her each time, but the knowledge she gained, the experiences she obtained were worth the stress. She was well aware of the fact that her time of moving from host to host was coming to an end. She needed...wanted...a permanent host with whom to live out the last of her days - at least a hundred years, she was certain. She had hoped that Sarah would be that host...she got along well with the young woman.

But now...her attention faded slightly as she tried to rest. Sarah continued to move slowly down the corridor.

"My Lord," the Jaffa standing guard near the computer console said, immediately coming to attention.

Sarah ignored the man. Her fingers moved with deliberation over the console. She had overheard Jacob Carter talking about SG-1. As always, whenever Daniel's name was mentioned, her ears perked up, her attention was focused on what was being said. It seemed that the famous Tau'ri team had returned to Earth after their 'vacation in paradise', as Selmak had described it. And that they had left almost immediately on a mission. Jacob had even been kind enough to mention the name of the planet. One that had belonged to Thor, where he had hidden humans centuries earlier. If the information Osiris had garnered since his return could be trusted, it was a planet Lord Yu had tried to take. The Goa'uld System Lord had set up residence, intent on subjugating the people. The weapon left behind by the Asgard had been destroyed, and Yu was confident that any planet thus protected by the small aliens was now free for the taking. It had not been so. Within days Thor had arrived, and Yu had barely escaped with his life. The famous "Hammers" that protected nearly a dozen planets were altered, and able to destroy any ships that wandered too near and displayed obvious Goa'uld 'fingerprints'.

The message was very short. Just coordinates, and a single name. She smiled darkly. When Daniel was over the shock of losing his wife for the final time, she would offer him the comfort of her arms...her love. And they would be together just like she had always dreamed they would be. She would even return to Earth, and work with him at the SGC. How better to take over the First World? Daniel would see reason...if Osiris ruled the planet, no other Goa'uld would dare to bother it...thus she would be protecting all of humanity there. Yes, Daniel would understand. He would be pleased...and would stand proudly at her side.

Karinda was barely able to hide her shock. Because she didn't have 'control' of the body, she could only see what Sarah happened to be looking at. The Tok'ra was able to make out only two of the three coordinates. Nor could Karinda plainly 'see' the other part of the message. With a silent sigh, the symbiote knew that she needed to get Sarah back to the secret base. The Tok'ra were going to have to move yet again. And she was going to have to leave the young woman, until the others were confident that Sarah could be trusted. The Tok'ra symbiote refused to think about the fact that her host might be executed. For the time, she would work on the puzzle of the message, do her best to decipher what she had been able to detect. She would send word to Selmak as soon as she was able to...the more who worked on the puzzle, the sooner the answer could be found.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Daniel carefully broached the subject of conducting soil analysis tests, explaining that if there were significant amounts of the mineral ores his people used, a trade agreement could be reached...if the Vikings approved.

Gandalf nodded solemnly. "This is not a matter that I alone can decide. I am leader of Bodoborg. The metals of which you speak are found also in the lands that belong to Vinneaer and Kalhettar. I cannot enter treaties for them."

"I understand," Daniel replied. "Is it possible to meet with these leaders?"

"I will send Anund and Bruadar as soon as the rain lets up. The road will be impassable until then."

Daniel nodded his understanding. "Let me tell my friends what we have discussed."

The Viking nodded his consent.

"Gandalf is going to send his sons for the leaders of two other villages, as soon as it stops raining.  Apparently the roads aren't so great," the archaeologist said quietly. "He seems willing enough to let us mine, although we haven't exactly talked terms or trade yet. He says the ore we're interested in is found near the other villages as well, and he can't enter a trade agreement for them."

Sam nodded. "Tests will have to be run to find out how much ore is even available. If it's enough, we might be able to work something out."

"'Might be able to work something out'?" Daniel asked, frowning slightly.

"These are important ores, but not precious by any means," Sam explained. "The Pentagon may decide there isn't enough to make a full mining operation profitable."

"Since when is the Pentagon interested in profit?" Daniel demanded to know.

"Since we've started making trade deals with alien cultures," Sam replied. "If they can raise enough money on their own, they can bypass the need for further funding for projects that the Senate is slow or unwilling to fund."

That sounded downright scary, Daniel thought worriedly. Maybe he'd just spare these folks the hassle. He was the only one who understood the language. He could tell Gandalf that he'd learned his own leaders were deceiving the people of Midgard about such trade, and that he didn't want to involve the Vikings of Bodoborg in the deception.

Bergthora began to move around the room, gathering clay jars she took from locked chests, and carrying them to the hearth. Nanna helped her, kneeling so that Daniel could see what she was doing, so that he would be aware that she had been taught well, casting shy glances at him every so often. She was disappointed when she discovered he had turned and was speaking to the woman seated beside him. Her disappointment deepened when he took the hand of the other woman, almost absently, held it against his thigh as he spoke with his friends.

When Gandalf and his brothers moved away from the hearth in order to give the two women room to work, SG-1 followed suit.

"It looks like Gandalf's wife is preparing a meal," Daniel said. "I think we should offer to let them eat our MREs."

"I thought we wanted these people as friends," Casey quipped immediately.

He couldn't help but grin. "Sharing our food is a sign of friendship."

"So, let's heat up a few," Jack replied, reaching for his pack.

"Don't open them yet," Daniel warned when Jack pulled out two MREs. "We don't want to offend them, and I don't know how much their culture has varied from that of the Vikings on Earth."

"Find out," Jack said.

"Gandalf, we have provisions with us. We'd like to share them with you...offer our food in exchange for that which you offer us," Daniel said, nodding to where the two women were busy preparing the meal.

"We accept your generosity," Gandalf replied.

"Give them to Casey," Daniel instructed quietly. Each of the team members took two meals from their pack, handed the sealed packets to the slender blonde. "Babe, you have to do this. Since I'm doing the talking, they'll assume that I'm the leader-"

Jack raised an eyebrow.

"-and as my Wife, you're in charge of seeing that meals are prepared," he explained, grinning at his best friend. Often when Daniel was the spokesman for the team, due to his linguistics abilities, those they dealt with believed him to be the leader. Jack had always quietly accepted that fact, knowing that his decisions - his orders - would be followed, no matter what Daniel might actually want, or what the people they were dealing with thought.

"How perfectly sexist," Casey said drolly, accepting the carefully sealed meals.

"I didn't write the rules, Case."

"I know," she sighed. But she did think he enjoyed such situations way too much! She moved toward the round hearth, knelt down, and pulled her knife from the sheath on her hip. She slit open each package, then carefully arranged the foil wrapped entrees in the embers of the fire. "What do I do with this stuff?" she asked, nodding at the packages of crackers and peanut butter and cellophane wrapped cookies that came with each meal.

"Pass them out. I'll show them how to eat it," Daniel instructed her, taking a container of crackers and peanut butter, and one of the cookies.

The narrow room was full of people, moving around wasn't easy. But she managed to 'serve' each of the men, including the teenaged boys. She smiled at the two women, and made certain they had received a 'treat' as well.

Daniel demonstrated how to open the containers, spread a bit of peanut butter on the Ritz cracker with the flat wooden spoon that came with the food, and popped it into his mouth.

Gandalf copied the movements of his guest. Took a hesitant bite of the interesting looking concoction.

"I hope none of them are allergic to peanuts," Casey intoned softly.

"Not even funny, Radar," Jack mumbled.

The Viking men grinned at one another...and in no time had finished the crackers and peanut butter. "Very good, Daniel," Gandalf said, licking his fingers clean. Once again he copied his guest's movements when Daniel opened the cookie and took a bite. Soft moans of appreciation filled the air as the Vikings savored the sweet round 'cake'.

Casey checked the entrees, making certain that the tiny slit she had made in the top of each one was allowing the steam to escape, and none of the ashes of the fire to fall inside.

Again Nanna watched the handsome stranger, and noted that his eyes rarely left his wife. He was deeply in love with her, anyone could see that. She had listened carefully to the discussion her father was having with this Daniel. If there was a treaty, there would be an alliance. As the daughter of the leader, she would be expected to wed Daniel to bond the two families...the two groups of people...together. He had a handsome face, gentle eyes. Surely he would be a good husband. The young woman's gaze shifted to Daniel's wife. It would not be easy to live with a woman so beautiful. Nor one whom already held Daniel's heart.

Sam caught the looks that Nanna was giving Daniel. And the looks Gandalf was giving his daughter. She tapped her best friend on the shoulder. "Gandalf knows you're married, right?"

Daniel frowned. Sam wouldn't be asking the question if she didn't suspect a problem. And he had learned to trust his best friend's intuition. She might not be psychic, but she could read a situation well. "Yes, he does. I introduced Casey as my Wife. Why? What's wrong?"

"That young girl can't seem to keep her eyes off of you. And if the leader there is her father, he seems to be quite happy about it."

Daniel glanced at Nanna, who smiled shyly. When he looked at Gandalf, that man smiled as well. The archaeologist paled significantly. "Oh, god," he muttered.

"What?" Jack asked instantly.

"I'd forgotten about that!"

"About what?"

Daniel looked at from Jack to Sam and back again. "When the Vikings signed treaties, especially to form alliances between to separate groups of people, women were exchanged to be wives."

"Say what?" Casey squeaked.

"I rather imagine Gandalf will offer Nanna to be my wife. I didn't introduce Sam as Jack's wife or lover, so she's...available...in his eyes, and he'll expect me to offer her to him...he'd take her as his second wife, just as I'd be expected to take Nanna as my second wife."

"When hell freezes over, cupcake," Casey hissed.

Oh hell! One look in those green eyes told him everything he needed to know. He was in deep trouble. And it wouldn't be easy to get out of. A glance at Sam and he fared no better on that hand.

Jack chuckled. "You're in shit now, Danny-boy. You'd better figure a way out of it damned fast!"

Gandalf had noted the looks of anger that filled the eyes of the women with Daniel. "Is something wrong?"

"Oh, I hope not," Daniel sighed.

"Daniel?" Sam asked.

"I can't bring it up. I have to wait until he does," Daniel replied tersely.

The MRE entrees were hot. Casey smiled shyly at Bergthora, and pointed to what looked like wooden platters that were stacked on one of the chests. The older woman smiled and nodded in return, fetching the platters and handing them to her guest. Carefully pulling the foil back from each entree, Casey placed a hot container in the center of each platter. Then put the plastic 'spork' beside it. She glanced at Daniel, noted the smile on his face, the pride that filled his blue eyes. It was impossible not to feel a bit of pride herself, just for making him happy.

Carefully, so as not to drop any of the hot food on her host or his family, she 'served' the entrees. The last she served to Daniel, understanding that he would need to demonstrate once again how to eat what must seem like peculiar food to these people.

"There is not much here," Gandalf noted, looking questioningly at Daniel. "Do you not eat to your fill?"

Daniel smiled. "These are meals specifically prepared to be carried with us on our journeys. It is enough."

For a man accustomed to eating until his belly was full, it didn't seem possible that such a small portion could satisfy a warrior's hunger. Gandalf took a hesitant bite. He had been given a chicken casserole. His eyes widened as he chewed. It was different from what he was accustomed to. But very good! He took another bite, and another.

The others began to eat as well, the reactions to the food reflecting on their faces. Casey smiled. "Now might be a good time to tell them that this was your idea, not ours. Just so they string you up and let us go home."

Jack chuckled softly.

With a grin of his own, Daniel translated what his wife had said, and then explained that it was customary for them to complain about the MREs, and that in fact, the meals weren't as good as the 'regular' food on their home planet.

"But this is very good!" Gandalf exclaimed. "How much better must your food be!"

Bergthora frowned slightly, glanced down at the pot of stew that had been simmering slowly, the biscuits that were baking. If the strangers ate food better than this every day, what she had to offer would seem...bland...in comparison.

"There's nothing better than a home cooked meal," Daniel replied. Especially when his Wife was the one doing the cooking, he thought, glancing at Casey.

When Gandalf had finished, he held up the empty foil pack. Casey grabbed the ziplock bag she always carried for trash, and collected the empties, flattened them, and put them in the plastic bag, carefully sealed it shut.

The Viking woman took the platters, and began to fill them with stew, putting a hot biscuit on top. She served her husband first, and then the guests, worried that they would be offended at such simple offerings.

Casey took a bite, then closed her eyes. "Oh, this is good!"

"Nothing like homemade beef stew," Jack agreed.

"I don't think I've ever had stew this good," Sam exclaimed.

"It is indeed quite pleasing," Teal'c added.

With a smile, Daniel once again translated, adding his own praise of the simple fare. His smile widened when Bergthora beamed her appreciation. Gandalf also looked pleased at the compliments. So far, things were going well. Which, of course, meant something was about to go tits up. The entire 'exchanging brides' thing, for example, he thought worriedly.

When the meals had been eaten, Bergthora and Nanna began to clean up, wiping each of the platters and the metal spoons with a cloth dipped into a bowl of hot water. Gandalf had risen, and brought out two jugs. The local version of moonshine, no doubt, Daniel thought. The memory of teaching Skaara and the other young Abydonian men how to brew their own liquor flashed through his memory. The first batch had been so potent that one sip had nearly blinded him. He bit back his smile, and accepted the jug after his host had taken a healthy swig.

Knowing that his tolerance for alcohol was low, and his need to remain lucid high, Daniel held the jug to his lips for several seconds, but took only a small sip. He handed the jug to Jack, who took a swallow, coughed slightly.

"The marked one does not drink with us?" Gandalf asked, when Teal'c shook his head at the offered jug.

"His beliefs forbid it," Daniel explained.

Gandalf frowned. "What kind of a god would not wish his people to worship him with all that has been given them?"

"We respect all ways; there are many beliefs, and each man must do as he sees fit and proper for himself."

The man considered this for a moment, then nodded, and accepted the jug, passed it to his brothers and sons. "Tell me, Daniel, do you and your friends battle?" Gandalf asked.

Daniel smiled. "We have battled the Goa'uld, the Evil Ones, many times."

"You have fought the Evil Ones?" Bruadar asked, his light gray eyes, which were so like his father's, wide with disbelief.

"Yes, we have." He turned to Jack. "We're discussing battles, I told them we've fought against the Goa'uld. Any particular story you'd like to share?"

Jack gave the archaeologist a thoughtful look. "I'll leave the story-telling up to you," he said.

With a nod, Daniel turned back to his host. "The first Goa'uld...Evil One, we fought, was the Egyptian god Ra...well, he wasn't really a god, except in his own mind. He could do some impressive things...but only with technology stolen from others."

"Tek-nol-ogy?" Gandalf asked, confusion on his face.

It took the younger man nearly twenty minutes to explain 'technology'. He described many of the tools, the things that his people took for granted in their day to day lives, not sure that Gandalf and the others understood, or actually believed him.

"You defeated this Guld...this...Ra?" Gandalf asked.

"Oh, yeah," Daniel grinned. And then told of the explosion of Ra's ship, and the snake's demise, using his hands to help animate the story, adding the sound effects of the explosion. The Vikings laughed appreciatively, and then began to recount stories of their own, dealing with wild beasts and the occasional band of ruffians. From what Daniel could gather, there were nearly half a dozen villages scattered throughout the valley, and though they never battled one another to the death, many a day was spent besting one another for use of this plot of ground or that one. They had stayed as true to their Viking heritage as their world would allow.

"Daniel, we need to find out if there's a place where we can set up camp," Jack said softly, after two hours of storytelling.  The sky above the opening in the ceiling showed a sky pitch black as night crept over the village.

Nodding, Daniel turned to his host. "Gandalf, it's getting late, and we need to set up our camp. Is there a place you can recommend?"

"You are welcome to sleep here," the Viking replied, waving a hand toward the sleeping platforms that lined the perimeter of the room.

"You are a most generous and gracious host," Daniel replied. "I will ask my friends if they wish to accept your offer."

Gandalf nodded, watched as Daniel turned to his friends and spoke in his strange language.

"Your call," Jack said quietly.

"It might be seen as an insult if we refuse, willing to eat their food but not sleep within their dwelling. It might be seen as a lack of trust on our part," he replied.

"It's dry and warm in here, too," Casey pointed out.

"Okay, we stay. Might be crowded, but we've slept in worse places," the team leader said.

Once again Daniel turned to his Viking host. "We accept most gratefully."

The brothers of the leader smiled and waved their goodbyes, the cold wet air swirling into the room in their wake, making the team glad they would be indoors. Gandalf's sons had gone with their uncles, apparently there would be more room for them in the homes of their extended family, with so many guests in the house. Bergthora opened a large, deep chest and took out three thick, woolen blankets. Daniel thanked her, and led his teammates toward three long platforms. One of the platforms butted up against another, being attached to the adjacent wall. The third was nearly joined with the second, head to foot, so that the three platforms seemed to form an 'L'. Sam and Jack settled onto one platform, Teal'c on another, and Casey and Daniel on the third.

Gandalf watched silently. The woman with her hair cut short...she did not appear to be attached to any of the men. She laid at the side of the older man quickly enough, but did not move close to him. Perhaps they were related somehow. Daniel was very much in love with his wife, and she with him. That love was in their eyes, there for all to see, and in the way they touched one another. The slender woman put her head on Daniel's shoulder, his arm pulled her tight against his body.

Nanna watched as well. It hurt to know that the man she had fallen in love with was married to another. She glanced at her father, caught his gaze upon her. If she must be the second wife, then so be it. As long as she could be with this Daniel. This handsome, gentle stranger. One day Daniel would look at her the way he looked at his wife...his first wife. Nanna assured herself that she would be the favorite, regardless of her status.

He went to sleep blessedly unaware of the planning...and scheming, that was going on around him. Daniel knew about the Viking culture. But he didn't understand the human element of it as well as he thought.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Karinda moved as gently as Sarah had done earlier. The host was asleep - in her mind; which the symbiote continued to soothe, sending melatonin into the young woman's brain. It made the body a bit more sluggish, as if Sarah were walking in her sleep, which, Karinda thought with a wry smile, she was. None of the Jaffa did anything other than snap to attention when she entered her lab. The Tok'ra headed straight for the computer console. And sent a coded message to another agent in a trading post not far from where the ship was sitting, waiting for Osiris' next order. She had very little, but enough to know that Sarah had sent someone coordinates. The two letters that she had been able to 'see' had been 's-e'. Karinda had absolutely no idea what they meant, or if they were part of a full word.

The message sent, just as secretly as the first had been, Karinda took her host back to the gaudy room that had belonged to the Goa'uld. She shuddered as she passed the sarcophagus. Sarah had insisted that it be brought into the chambers, claiming that it would be much easier to make the Jaffa still loyal to Osiris believe that she was using it. The symbiote had agreed that the plan made sense. When Sarah had casually mentioned using it on occasion, Karinda had grown apprehensive. Use of the Goa'uld sarcophagus was the surest way to lose one's soul. To become heartless and cruel, arrogant and egotistical. To become a Goa'uld.

Sarah shifted slightly on the bed. Her dreams were filled with images of Daniel Jackson...holding her...touching her...loving her. Just the way she had always wanted...

It was all the Tok'ra could do to keep from screaming. Sharing the mind and body of a woman walking the edge of madness was not an easy thing. Karinda could only hope that she would be able to leave the body before she went mad herself.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The Jaffa read the message. This would please his god greatly! He hurried through the corridors of the ship. "My Lord, we have received word from one of the spies among Osiris' Jaffa. The Tok'ra know where SG-1, and Casey Jackson, might be located."

Ba'al sat up in the bed, practically tossing Shanda to the floor in his haste, not even aware of when or how the young woman had come to be wrapped around him. "Where?"

"A planet that Lord Yu tried to take from the Asgard millennia ago," the First Prime responded.

"Coordinates?"

"They arrived with the message, My Lord." Ba'al didn't need to know that his First Prime had received the coordinates, and a single name. And that the Jaffa had searched for information about the planet before delivering the message, filling in the blanks that the short communication burst had left.

Lord Yu had barely escaped that planet with his life. Thor had seen to it that the 'Hammer' that protected the people on the planet was once again able to do so. Ba'al would be unable to approach it directly. However, there were those who could, and would do so for the right price. "Contact Tieel Mogba. Tell him that his god has a task for him."

"Yes, My Lord."

"Take us to the coordinates, but remain far enough away from the planet that the damned Asgard weapons that protect it cannot sense our presence."

"As you wish, My Lord." The Jaffa bowed, and turned to leave. But not before noting the excited smile on Ba'al's face. The High Priest was correct. Their god had found the woman to be his consort. He was in love, and happy. And that would bode well for all who served Ba'al. Once his beloved was actually at his side, that was.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Several hours later two ships hovered near the farthest moon of the planet the Tau'ri knew as PX8-478. The trader transported to the Goa'uld ship. "I received your message, My Lord. I was told the matter is urgent."

"There is a woman on the planet below. You will find her, and bring her to me. She is not to be harmed, or I will kill the one who harms her."

"I understand, My Lord."

"She is beautiful, with hair the color of sunshine, which reaches to her slender waist, and smells as sweet as the flowers of spring. Her eyes are the color of the most precious emeralds..."

Blonde hair, green eyes, the trader thought, wishing the Goa'uld would just get to the damned point. Whoever this woman was, she had Ba'al damned near spouting poetry!

"...I want her as soon as possible," Ba'al finished. "For your trouble, I will pay you handsomely."

"How handsomely?"

"Twenty measures of gold."

Now that was a handsome fee. Especially if he didn't have to do more than go to the planet, grab the woman and bring her back. "Do you have any information about the people I must deal with?"

Ba'al nodded at his First Prime, who handed a data crystal to the trader. "All that you need is there. I will remain here. And Ryk'teal will accompany you."

"It has been my experience that people do not respond well when Jaffa are present," Tieel replied dryly.

"He need not accompany you all the way. But he will ring to the planet with you, to ascertain the safety of she who will be my Consort," Ba'al insisted.

Consort? Well, now, that was interesting. He glanced at the First Prime, then back at the Goa'uld. And knew that any ideas of double crossing either in an attempt to extort more gold would result in his death. "It will be as you say," he mumbled, bowing slightly. "I will signal when I am ready to ring down."

"Very well," Ba'al agreed. His heart was pounding against his ribs. Within hours his Beloved would once again be with him! The fire that burned in his veins would at last be quenched. And having a seer as powerful as Casey at his side would give him an advantage over the other Goa'uld of the Empire. At last, things were going his way!


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