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Hell to Pay
The sun was low on the horizon when Anund and Bruadar returned to their father's house. The leaders, as well as several of the Viking warriors, from three other villages headed straight for the Hall of Thor.
Women from the village began to carry platters of food toward the Hall. Tonight all would eat there, a feast of sorts, as the village leaders and the strangers discussed an alliance between their peoples.
SG-1 ate sparingly from the platters of meat, hoping that it appeared that they were partaking more than they were. One of the boxes from the SGC had been filled with MREs, and those were heated in the coals of the huge fire that roared within the confines of the central hearth in the long, wide Hall. Bottled water was handed out as well, allowing the team to drink water they knew to be safe without offending their hosts.
Blankets, tools, fishing poles and line, bolts of colorful cloth, coats and boots filled the other boxes, and Daniel handed both over to Gandalf, allowing him to disperse the goods as he saw fit. He was relieved that the gifts were accepted enthusiastically. He accepted several hides and horned cups in return. Hopefully the trade would make it easier to dissuade Gandalf of the whole bride exchange thing.
The men were relaxing now, the women and children sitting quietly to one side of the room, the warriors, and the men of Bodoborg, stood behind the seated village leaders. Daniel, Jack, and Teal'c sat on the other side of the fire from those men. Casey and Sam stood behind them.
"You have come to trade," Gandalf said, after a jug had made its way around the group of men.
"We have," Daniel replied, tensing slightly. The 'official' negotiations had begun. His teammates took immediate notice of the way his shoulders had straightened. They tensed as well.
"What do you seek?"
"We would like to mine the ore that lies in the low hills to the east of your village. And if other ore is found near other villages, we would like to mine there as well."
"What do you offer?"
"Food, clothing, medical supplies. Our people can teach your people new and improved farming methods. We can offer you new food crops, and crops to raise food for your animals," Daniel said.
"We must discuss this offer," Gandalf said, formally. The village leaders whispered between themselves. This was actually nothing more than show, the men had already decided that they were most interested in trade with these people from Midgard.
Daniel nodded his understanding. Took the opportunity to explain to his teammates what was happening.
"If this agreement is reached, are you willing to seal the deal in the Viking tradition?" Gandalf asked.
Oh, crap. This was it. "We would be willing to find a way to meld your traditions with our own if at all possible," Daniel said cautiously.
Gandalf understood exactly what the young man said. He would fight against taking Nanna as his wife. That the Viking already understood. But if he wanted the agreement, he would acquiesce. "To seal the deal, I offer my daughter to you. Before the sun sets tomorrow, she will be your wife."
Daniel stared at Gandalf. "I'm sorry, and I certainly mean no offense to you, your family or your people, but I can't take Nanna as my wife."
Gandalf's light gray eyes narrowed with suspicion. "Is she not good enough for you?"
"It's not that, Gandalf. Nanna is a lovely young woman, and some young man is going to be lucky to have her as his wife. But I'm already married, crazy head-over-heels in love with Casey. And my people, on my world, don't allow a man to have more than one wife at a time." Okay, that wasn't exactly the whole truth, there were still countries, cultures, that allowed multiple wives. But the majority of 'civilized' nations didn't allow it. Certainly not in the US of A!
"Then if you were free of your first wife, you would be able to marry Nanna?"
It was Daniel's eyes which narrowed now. "If anything happens to Casey, I will never love any other woman. Nor will I ever marry again. Casey is my Beloved, my Destiny. Nothing can change that, ever. My heart belongs to her, and her alone, forever."
The Viking studied the young man, the fire in his blue eyes. "Nanna will be disappointed," he sighed.
"Nanna will get over it," Daniel replied. "I hope this won't affect our alliance. But if it does...so be it."
The firm, cool words drove home to Gandalf that for no reason would Daniel ever consent to marry his daughter. That the alliance between Midgard and the Vikings was important to Daniel, but not important enough to seal it properly, as custom dictated.
"Gandalf, I understand that this is the way your people have conducted business, have made alliances, for many generations. Just because something has been done for a long time doesn't make it right," Daniel said gently. "Perhaps you, as a strong leader of the Vikings, are the one who can make the changes that will help your people continue to grow."
The Viking glanced over at the corner of the room, where Nanna waited anxiously for him to bid her to his side. To offer her to this stranger. Her blue eyes were wide with excitement. "Perhaps," he mumbled. "For now, I must explain to my daughter why she has been rejected."
"Perhaps you should explain that it was wrong to offer her in the first place," Daniel countered.
"Have you not eyes, man? Can you not see that she was smitten with you the moment you stepped through the door of my dwelling?" Gandalf exploded.
Daniel's eyes went wide with surprise. "She's just a child!"
"She has been of marrying age for a full season now!"
He shook his head wearily. "Gandalf, where I come from, taking a girl as young as Nanna for my wife would send me directly to jail. The age of...um...consent...is much older on my world. I couldn't take her as my wife and go home, even if I wanted to do so. Which I don't," he added quickly and emphatically.
Nanna had started at her father's outburst. Obviously the negotiation was not going well. She began to feel panic stir in her heart. She wanted this man, oh how she wanted him! She would be a good wife, and would love him faithfully, even if she wasn't his first choice, his first wife. She jumped to her feet. "Father, please! I love him!"
Daniel whirled around. "Nanna, you're a child, you don't even know what love is."
It was obvious to the rest of the team that something was wrong. Jack cleared his throat. "Let us in on it, Daniel."
With a sharp nod, and a quick explanation that he needed to let his friends know what was happening, Daniel explained the situation.
Casey's green eyes went wide, then narrowed slightly. She fought down a momentary sense of panic. "I suggest you find a way out of this."
"Just what the hell do you think I'm doing?" Daniel demanded, snapping at her as the complexity of the situation settled more firmly on his shoulders.
"Those ore deposits are large, but not worth this kind of hassle," Sam added quietly.
"Maybe we should just pack up our things and go," Jack said. "I'd like to have a treaty with them. But this is just ridiculous. If they won't see reason, there's nothing we can do."
"Give me a few more minutes," Daniel replied. As was typical of him, the archaeologist was certain he could come to an agreement with Gandalf. Time and patience was what he needed...just a little more time...
"I need to make a visit to the outhouse," Casey announced. She had been putting off that visit as long as possible, hoping that her Husband would wrap up the mediation between the two groups so that they could leave. The cold stares she was now receiving from Nanna and Bergthora were...uncomfortable.
He was certain that she wanted to leave simply because she was upset, and didn't want her anger, which was so clearly visible in her beautiful eyes, to complicate the delicate negotiations. "Hang in there, babe, and I'll go with you," he said, reaching for her hand.
"I can go to the bathroom on my own," she argued dryly.
"I'd rather you wait."
"My bladder begs to differ."
He heaved a sigh. "Fine. Go. Just be careful."
"Casey, do you-" Sam started.
"I'm not helpless," she sighed, cutting Sam off, "in any danger, or going to wander off into the woods and get lost. I'll be right back." She forced a smile. She really did want a few minutes alone to cope with what she knew. The thought of Daniel taking another woman...even a child...as a second wife, even if it was only done ceremonially, tore at her heart. That realization bothered her. She needed time to admit to her jealousy, and deal with it rationally, before she could dare to be around anyone without saying something she might soon regret.
He couldn't let her leave, not without making it clear to those watching that she wasn't leaving in a fit of temper over the situation. Daniel stood to his feet. He slipped his arms around her waist, smiled when her arms went automatically around his neck. "I love you."
She smiled, the love in her eyes plainly visible to all. "I love you. And if I don't get to that outhouse soon, I'm going to have to change my clothes."
Daniel chuckled, kissed the tip of her nose. "Be very careful, Angel. Scream bloody murder if you need us."
"I will," she promised with a whisper. She planted a quick kiss upon his lips, then hurried past the men who stood near or were leaning against the wall, and into the darkness of the night, her flashlight illuminating the path she had to follow.
Gandalf watched the slender blonde leave. "She has freed you?" he asked hopefully, when Daniel had sat back down.
"What? No!" His reply was much sharper than he had intended. "She just needs to...um... she had to make a trip to the outhouse."
Not convinced, but willing to accept the response for the moment, Gandalf nodded. "There is no way I can convince you to take my daughter as your wife?"
"Then I suppose you will not be offering the woman named Samantha to my brother?" Gandalf had thought hard about the situation. Bergthora was a good woman. He loved her deeply. His brother was a widower, for nearly two seasons. The man needed a wife to take care of him. It was the perfect solution to his own problem. He failed to see the similarities, to see that he was denying Daniel what he had sought for himself.
"No...no, no that's not going to happen either," Daniel said, shaking his head.
"Then I do not see how we can satisfactorily conclude this deal," Gandalf replied.
Daniel studied the man, the stubbornness in his eyes. "That's unfortunate. But if that's the way it must be, we will thank you for your most generous hospitality, hope that you accept our gifts in the spirit of friendship, and we'll take our leave. We wish you and your people well, Gandalf."
The Viking jumped to his feet when Daniel stood and picked up the pack he carried. "You are serious about this!"
"Of course I am," Daniel replied, somewhat surprised.
"I thought perhaps you were merely trying to lower the bride price of Nanna, and raise that of the woman named Samantha," Gandalf admitted. He'd been hoping that Daniel had been doing as much...it would make it easier to explain to Nanna. Again his glance went to his daughter. Who now had tears in her eyes.
"No," Daniel responded quietly. "There was never a chance that any arranged marriage was going to take place."
Nanna rushed over to where the two men stood. She looked from her father to Daniel. Held those blue eyes with her own. "I am willing to be betrothed to you, Daniel. To be your wife. Even if I am not first, I will be a good wife, and will bear you many fine, strong sons."
Daniel shook his head. "Nanna, you're a child. Your marriage to anyone, but most especially a stranger, is an idea that never should have been given consideration. I've explained to your father that on my world, among my people, it is against our laws for a man to take a young girl as his wife, and it is against our laws for a man to have more than one wife."
"Then we will stay here!" Nanna declared. Maybe his first wife wouldn't want to stay, and she would leave with the others...
"No, Nanna. You're a very pretty, sweet young girl. And one day you'll make a young man very happy when you accept him. My heart, all that I am, belongs to my Wife. There's no room in my heart for any other. Ever," he said kindly, but firmly.
Tears began to spill down the girl's cheeks. "I will be a good wife," she repeated.
Gandalf shifted uncomfortably. The agreement reached between the Viking leaders and Daniel's people would be a profitable one. One very good for all of the Vikings of the valley. To lose such a deal was...disappointing. The clearing of several throats behind him forced him to stand taller. It was an insult to him, and his village, that Nanna was being refused. He could demand that Daniel battle with him, one on one, to satisfy the need for revenge. But that would most likely gain the wrath of those with Daniel, and he did not need to know exactly how the strange weapons worked to understand that they were much more powerful than the battle axes and swords and spears and bows and arrows that his people had. He turned to look at the men standing behind him. "There are times to demand retribution for wrongs done. There are times when it is more prudent, for the well-being of all, that we simply cut ties and walk away."
The older men among the group nodded. They too recognized the fact that while the strangers were small in number, at least, for the moment, that could change instantly because of the portal. They also understood instinctively that the weapons these visitors carried were more powerful than their own. To anger these people could see the Vikings wiped out completely.
Several of the younger men, two of them Nanna's brothers, began to protest. Gandalf cut them off shortly, demanding that they remain silent. "When you have seen as many seasons as I, then you may question my decisions. Not until!"
Jack glanced at his watch. Casey should have been back by now. Where the hell was she? They needed to get the hell out of Dodge, he thought worriedly. The older men seemed resigned to whatever was going on, but that group of young hotheads were looking downright hostile. He didn't want to have to open fire on these people in order to get back to the 'gate. A thought which had him mentally shaking his head. Daniel had been a huge influence on him over the past few years, preventing him from shooting first and talking later. Another glance at his watch.
"Think we should leave?" Sam asked.
"Oh, yeah," Jack replied. "Let's get out of here. Go find Casey."
Sam grabbed her pack and Casey's, made her way through the crowd of mostly men, and hurried out the door.
"Daniel, time's up. We're leaving."
With a glance over his shoulder, Daniel gave his friend a nod, acknowledging the order. "We will leave you now. We wish you well."
Gandalf nodded as well. "Perhaps one day we will speak again. And we will be able to complete our negotiations satisfactorily."
Daniel smiled. He would suggest to General Hammond that another team visit, in a few months' time. It would allow Gandalf and the other leaders to accept the terms of the agreement and save face at the same time. "That will be a good day for all of us."
The Vikings followed the strangers out of the building, carrying torches to light the way, prepared to follow them to the portal. Some to make certain the strangers left, others to wish them a sincere farewell.
A A A A A A
Casey struggled against the men who held her firmly between them. She had just stepped away from the outhouse, on her way back to the Hall, her heart assuring her that Daniel would have the situation remedied by the time she re-entered the long, tall, rather out-of-place building that Daniel suspected had been a temple to Yu, when she had been grabbed from behind. There had been no time to scream, a cloth had been shoved into her mouth, and then a strap of leather was tied around her head, holding it firmly in place.
Tieel held up a syringe. The woman was fighting them, and her slender build belied her strength. His men were having a difficult time keeping hold of her. If Ba'al wanted this woman unharmed, sedating her was the only way to get her to where the ring transport waited, without doing so. He pressed the needle against her neck, pushed the plunger quickly.
"She must not be harmed!" The First Prime hissed, as he watched from his hiding place among the thick brush.
"I have merely rendered her unconscious. Taking her through the woods like that would have been impossible. Too great a chance of her escaping us," Tieel replied calmly. He wrapped one arm around Casey's narrow waist, then slung her over his shoulder. "Let us leave now. Ba'al awaits his prize."
The traders and the First Prime hurried to the hidden ring platform. They were gone before anyone in the village was aware that Casey had been taken.
A A A A A A
Sam ran up to her teammates. "I can't find her!"
Fear washed over him. Daniel whirled to face Gandalf. "What have you done with my Wife?"
Gandalf stood stunned. "I have done nothing!"
"Well, someone has! She left to use the outhouse. Now she's missing!"
"Perhaps she wandered off...got lost," Gandalf replied, his own anger stirring at being accused of something he had not done. He'd been able to side-step the insult of having this man refuse to marry his daughter, to seal the deal in the Viking way. He would not stand and be insulted a second time.
"Not very damned likely," Daniel hissed. His icy gaze moved over the crowd of men. He hadn't noticed anyone slip out of the hall, but then, he'd been busy trying to keep from winding up with a second wife, a child bride. "If any of you know where she is, I suggest you speak now. When I open that portal, it will be to call more of my people, to conduct a search for her. We'll leave no stone unturned, we'll search every dwelling, every barn, every building. We'll search this entire damned planet it that's what it takes!"
The anger in those blue eyes, the coldness where just moments ago the warmth of friendship had resided, shook Gandalf and the other leaders. They didn't doubt Daniel for one second. The Viking leader turned and looked around him, focusing his gaze on several of the younger men. "Where is she? If you have done her harm, you have brought disgrace on all of us!"
"We have done nothing!" the young men declared.
"Daniel?" Jack asked.
"They claim they don't know where she is," he replied.
"Do you believe them?"
He scanned the faces around him. "Yeah, I do," he said quietly.
"Well, she's got to be around here somewhere. Probably found some kid to give candy to," Jack said, forgetting that Casey didn't have her pack.
Gandalf looked again at Daniel. The man's eyes had taken on a look of panic. One that bespoke of love so deep that for the first time the Viking understood that Daniel had never even entertained the idea of taking Nanna as his second wife. "We will find her, Daniel. She has just wandered away. Perhaps because she was angry with you."
Daniel shook his head. "No, she would never do something like that."
"Women do many things that we as men will never understand," the Viking said kindly.
He gave a small smile. "She would never wander off and cause me to worry. You see, she was taken from me before, and I almost didn't get her back. She would never just walk away," he repeated.
The older man frowned. Turned to those around him. "More torches! We will split up. Surround the village and look for Daniel's wife. She must be found!"
Daniel was in no way, shape, or form a psychic. But something told him that Casey's disappearance was just the beginning of a very long nightmare. He firmly shoved away the old wives tale that 'the third time is the charm'. He would never stop searching for her. Never. No matter how long it took. No matter where he had to go. No matter what he had to do. He would find his Wife. He would take her home.
Flashlight in hand, he raced toward the outhouses, where she had said she was going, training the light on the ground. He was able to make out her boot prints in the mud. They were lost in the multitude of prints nearby.
Jack and Teal'c had been right behind the archaeologist. "Can you tell us anything, Teal'c?" Jack asked quietly.
"There are numerous prints on top of those of Casey Jackson," Teal'c replied immediately.
"Which means?" Daniel asked.
"There are those who came here after Casey," Teal'c said gently. "I do not see any prints that would indicated she left here."
Jack frowned. He knew exactly what the Jaffa was saying. Realized that Daniel did as well by the paling of his cheeks. "Any ideas?"
"Whoever they were, they were not Vikings. These boots have heels, much like those of the military boots we wear."
Not what he wanted to hear, Jack thought.
"Somebody came here specifically for her," Daniel said flatly.
"What makes you think that?" Jack asked.
The young man pointed the beam of his flashlight toward the ground. Moved it slowly toward bushes nearby. Three sets of boot prints emerged from the bushes, became a mish-mash of churned up mud.
"Oy!" Jack groaned. "Daniel, get to the 'gate. Let the general know what's happened, have him send a couple of teams through. There's a chance they're somewhere nearby."
He ran to the DHD on shaking legs. Trembling fingers began to dial the coordinates for Earth. Pain, fear...no, not fear...terror, icy cold, mind-numbing terror gripped him, flooded his senses. How many times had he sworn that Casey wouldn't leave his side? And how many times had she done so? Had he pushed his luck too far? Had the curse that seemed to hang over his head...that put every woman he loved, or had loved, in danger...finally caught up with them?
"We'll find her, Danny," Jack said softly, gently squeezing a shoulder that shook beneath his hand.
"We have to," he replied hoarsely. "I can't live without her."
Jack understood that Daniel wasn't referring to his physical addiction to Casey. "I know," he said. "We'll find her."
A A A A A A
Selmak stared at the message from Karinda. "I do not believe we have a choice. We must have Sarah Gardner return, and she must be tested."
Jacob sighed as he listened to his symbiote explain to the Council that the young Tau'ri woman was possibly a traitor, most assuredly suffering madness. Whether or not she could be saved was something that only time could tell.
Aldwin had been given the task of deciphering the short, cryptic message that Sarah had sent out. There was no clue, as of yet, who the recipient had been. He had been instructed to find Selmak as soon as he had the translation, no matter where or what she and her host might be doing. His heart was pounding with dread as he double checked his findings. Samantha Carter had long ago given him a list of planet designations used by the SGC. He had been systematically cross-referencing them with the known names of each, so that any communication between the Tok'ra and the Tau'ri concerning any given planet would be easier to understand. This wasn't good! Circumstances would put the Tok'ra in the position to be blamed once again for Casey Jackson's abduction...if she was taken before the warning could be sent to the SGC. He raced through the stone corridors. "I have it!"
Selmak turned to face her assistant. "What have you learned?"
"The coordinates are the same as those for a planet the Tau'ri call PX8-478. I am not sure about the letters. However..." He handed the slip of paper to Selmak. "The numerical destination correlates to the identification of Ba'al's flagship."
Several of the Council members shifted uncomfortably.
"And the two letters that Karinda was able to see?" Selmak asked, certain she already knew the very unpleasant answer.
"I believe them to be from Casey Jackson's name," Aldwin replied.
Malek groaned softly. "Once again, unawares, and unintentionally, the Tok'ra have been complicit with the abduction of Daniel Jackson's wife."
"There is no proof that any abduction has taken place," Delek replied.
"I must contact General Hammond at once," Selmak said. "If Ba'al is once again after Casey Jackson, the Tau'ri must be made aware of it."
"What of Sarah Gardner, and Karinda?" Malek asked.
"Send a message that she must return to us here. Begin preparations to move. We must not let her know where the new base of operations will be located until we are certain she is not a security threat," Ren Au replied. "And...begin a search for a new host. Karinda has put herself at risk for us many times. She has earned the right to be blended with a loyal Tok'ra."
Heads bobbed up and down in agreement, and the Council members moved out of the room to complete their given tasks.
'If Ba'al manages to capture her...' Jacob started.
'I know,' Selmak replied. 'We will contact our spy among Ba'al's Jaffa. With luck, he will be able to tell us where the Goa'uld is, and we can rescue Casey before he can harm her.'
'I hope so,' Jacob sighed. 'Daniel is going to be nine kinds of pissed off if Ba'al takes his wife for a third time.'
'I know,' the symbiote said, sighing as well.
A A A A A A
Gandalf had sent search parties in every direction from the village, agreeing with Teal'c that Daniel's wife had been taken from the outhouse. The boot prints matched neither those of the Vikings, nor of the Tau'ri of Midgard. He watched with not a little trepidation as men seemed to pour through the portal, each face etched with determination.
"Casey is a seer," Daniel explained quietly. "She has saved each of those men from death many times."
That explained the fire that seemed to burn in the eyes of the armed men. The man named Jack had set up something called a 'command center'. Both he and Daniel looked surprised when a bald man stepped through the portal, looked around uncertainly.
"General Hammond!" Jack exclaimed. He saluted.
"I thought it best to pass on this message myself," the general said, returning the salute.
Daniel hurried to General Hammond's side. He had been getting ready to leave with Major Ferretti's team. "General?"
"Doctor Jackson," Hammond said, turning to face the young man. "I just received word from Selmak. They believe that Ba'al is once again after Casey."
"And they know this how, sir?" Daniel asked.
The general cleared his throat. "Karinda sent word that Sarah had sent a coded message to a ship. She, meaning Karinda, only had a glimpse of what was in the message, and the numerical destination. It was to Ba'al's flag ship. And contained the coordinates for this planet."
Daniel felt his blood run cold. Sarah! For the third time Sarah had managed to be involved with Casey's disappearance. Very deliberately this time! The hate that he had pushed down, had told himself was unfair to his former lover, began to boil in his veins. "What are they going to do about this?" he asked, his voice hoarse.
"Selmak and Jacob are trying to get through to the Tok'ra spy among Ba'al's Jaffa. As soon as they can locate him, they'll let us know. Sarah is being returned to the Tok'ra base, who are moving by the way. Karinda will be extracted, and the Tok'ra will determine if Sarah can be saved."
"Saved?" Jack asked.
"Selmak's message indicated that Karinda reported that Sarah had gone mad," General Hammond replied.
"I suppose having a snake in your head would do that," Jack allowed, watching Daniel carefully.
"I don't give a damn what they do to Sarah," Daniel spat. "I only care about getting my Wife back!" He turned on his heel, and rejoined Ferretti and his men, who had waited patiently.
"Did Selmak have any good news?" Jack asked quietly.
"I wish she had," General Hammond sighed. "I know you'd rather be searching than standing around here. I'll handle things on this end."
"Thank you, sir."
"Find her, Jack. I don't want to lose either of them," the general said softly.
"Me either, sir," Jack replied. He grabbed his P90 and headed in the direction that Teal'c and SG-2 had disappeared.
Sam had the UAV reprogrammed, and ready for launch. As soon as it went through the event horizon, she would be right behind it. She had been surprised when General Hammond had insisted on joining the search for Casey, informing the base personnel that until further notice, Major Davis would be in charge of the SGC, since everyone in the chain of command was already clamoring to join the search. That man was due to arrive within the hour. The president had apparently given the general free reign on this search and rescue mission. She gave a small smile. Casey touched everyone she met. And that touch was never forgotten, no matter how slight.
Three SG teams hurried through the open 'gate while she and Siler went through a last minute check of the UAV. If Casey was still on the planet, and could give any kind of a signal, the unmanned aircraft would pick it up. Hopefully. If the seer actually saw it. Pushing any and all negative thoughts from her mind, Sam nodded at the sergeant, then followed him to the control room.
"UAV away," Walter Harriman announced.
Her pack and P90 were waiting by the door. Sam grabbed both, ran to the 'gate room.
"Good luck, major," the little man said, his voice echoing around her.
"Thanks, Walter," Sam smiled. The smile vanished at the same time she stepped into the swirling blue of the event horizon. Her best friend was missing. She wasn't giving up until they had found Casey, and had her safe and sound at home.
"Hey, Doc, take a look at this," Ferretti said, his gut clenching with worry. "Tell me this ain't what it looks like."
Daniel hurried over to where the grizzled Marine stood. Felt his heart drop to his feet. "Ring transport," he rasped. "Recently used."
The vegetation around the round platform had been sheared off neatly where it had been within the operational perimeter of the rings. And from the look of the plants, it hadn't been very long ago...none of the cut edges were brown yet. Well, Daniel thought angrily, this explains why no one had heard the 'gate activate, which would have been a warning that someone had arrived!
"Damn," Ferretti hissed.
"Jack?" Daniel said, speaking into his radio.
"Go ahead, Daniel," Jack's voice replied.
"We just found a ring transport. It's been used within the past few hours, I'd say." He was amazed at how calmly he could make the report. That his voice still worked. That his heart was still beating and pumping blood through his veins, his lungs still taking in and expelling air. He felt numb...dead...yet the pain was excruciating.
"Understood. All teams return to command center," Jack's voice ordered.
Gandalf and his men had seen, and heard, many of the Tau'ri as they moved through the woods searching for the missing woman. When they all seemed to turn, to be returning to the portal, he signaled that they should follow. Perhaps the woman had been found, he thought hopefully. He continued to fear that the disappearance of Daniel's wife could bode unwell for his people.
There was no mistaking the looks of anger on the faces of those who searched. The Viking approached Daniel slowly, not seeing that Nanna was hovering nearby. Had he known what his daughter intended, he could have, and would have, stopped her. "Have you located your beloved, Daniel?" Gandalf asked.
"No," Daniel replied curtly. "We found proof she has been taken off of the planet."
"I don't understand," Gandalf said, frowning deeply.
"There is a platform of stones, set in a circle. It's called a 'ring transport'. The Goa'uld use them to move between their ships," he pointed to the sky, "and the planet's surface. Someone came down here and took my Wife."
Nanna felt hope surge in her heart at the words. She burst from her hiding place, ran towards Daniel, and wrapped her arms around his waist. "It is Thor's will! He has taken her away so that you might be my betrothed!"
Daniel pulled the young woman's arms from around him, held her firmly, tightly by the shoulders. "No, Nanna. It will never happen. I love Casey. She's my Wife. My Beloved. And she's the only woman I'll ever love. The only Wife I'll ever have. I'll find her, no matter how long it takes." And when we get home, he added silently, I'll be damned if I ever let her out of my sight!
"I can make you love me! I'll make you forget about her! I'm young, I'm strong-"
"No!" Daniel said, nearly shouting. The tears in the light gray eyes had him shaking his head. "No," he repeated softly. He turned loose of the young woman, and walked away.
"Father..." She whirled to face her father. "Please!"
"Nanna, it is not to be. It will not be. There is nothing that will ever change that," Gandalf said wearily. "Go home, child. This is not a place for women or children."
"Go home, Nanna. I must see to it that the Vikings are not put to blame for this. If they are, I fear we won't survive. Now go!"
With one last, long, lingering glance at the man she had set her heart upon, Nanna turned back toward the village. It would be some time before her broken heart healed. But when it did, she would be a bit wiser, and not as quick to fall for blue eyes and a warm, friendly smile.
Gandalf once again approached Daniel. "I can assure you that none of the Vikings had anything to do with this."
Daniel gave a sad smile. "Gandalf, I know that. My friends know that. A Goa'uld named Ba'al has taken her."
"I will speak to the other leaders. I speak for all in Bodoborg...you and your friends are most welcome...and all that we have, we will share gladly."
Daniel put his hand on the man's shoulder. "Thank you, Gandalf. I'll let my superiors know this."
"You must leave?"
He nodded wearily. "I can't rest until I find her."
"I will pray to Odin that you find her quickly."
"Thank you. Nanna-"
"Nanna will be fine. You are the first man she has ever shown interest in. No doubt she will have more suitors now that she is no longer viewed as a child."
She is a child, Daniel thought. Thirteen, fourteen at the most. But the ways of these people were their own...and had been for centuries. One visit from Tau'ri of Midgard would not change those ways...at least, not overnight. At least, he thought, they had been given permission to mine near Bodoborg, without any arranged marriages taking place.
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