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The Recalcitrant Lo'taur

 

"…Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
With a little help from my friends…"
"(With a) Little Help From My Friends"
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Performed by Joe Crocker

 

Chapter 1

Casey paced around the room, her arms held tightly around her slender waist. "Calm down? I can't calm down!"

Daniel folded his arms across his chest as he watched her. The download had been…unexpected. Not that any of his Wife's messages from…wherever they came from…were ever scheduled. This particular download, however, had come on the heels of a mission briefing, which had been held not more than twenty minutes earlier. Again, not unusual. Often that's when her 'visions' did occur, the information she received pertaining to whatever mission had been discussed.

No, it wasn't the download itself. It was the content that had his Wife nearly hysterical with fear and a healthy dose of anger. SG-1 would be joining SG-12 on a planet where extensive ruins of Ancient design had been located. That was what the mission briefing had been about. But, according to Casey…and she'd not been wrong yet…he, and he alone, was going to fall victim to a Goa'uld. He'd be the first to admit that the idea of being captured wasn't on his list of 'My Most Favorite Things'. But recent experiences had proven that as long as he stayed alive and in one piece, the threat from the Goa'uld was far less devastating for him…or his teammates, for that matter...than they'd previously believed. Annoying as hell. Freakier than shit. But not catastrophic. "Casey-"

"Don't you dare patronize me," she hissed, her eyes narrowing with anger.

"Wouldn't dream of it," he replied easily. Smiling in spite of his attempts to keep his expression from reflecting his beguilement at her rage. Delighted, although quite secretly, for the reason for her current emotional state. She was nine kinds of pissed off because he was in danger. That, Danny-boy, is love.

"I won't allow it! No way in hell! You aren't leaving this base! I'll…I'll…I'll have General Hammond put you under house arrest! See if the damned snake can deal with that!"

He had two very immediate and contradictory reactions to her little rant. The first was the feeling of her love wrapping around him, keeping him warm and safe. The other was indignation that she'd even consider doing such a thing…and he had no doubt that Casey would do exactly what she'd threatened if she thought it would prevent him from going on the mission. "Wait a minute!" he said, rather sharply. "Didn't we have a conversation like this once before? You telling me that I have no right to tell you what you can or can't do? In the men's shower, as I recall."

"That was different," she muttered, color rising in her cheeks at the memory of storming into the men's locker room to confront her husband. She'd been livid when he'd informed the Tok'ra leader that he wouldn't allow her to do a search for them. The realization that she was doing to him what he had done that day, in an attempt to protect her, was unable to find purchase in her fury and fear-filled mind.

"How?" he demanded to know.

"I wasn't about to be taken captive by a goddamned snake!" she shouted.

Okay, point taken, he thought, still more than a bit amused at the display of ferocious, protective anger. "You told me that doing searches is part of your job. Well, going on missions to examine old ruins is my job, Casey. The risks are part of that job."

She shook her head, paced around the work table once again. "This is totally different. I wasn't in danger of being snatched-"

"Yes, you were!" he countered immediately, tossing his hands toward the ceiling in frustration, his voice rising in volume. "You still are! Every time you do a search I'm helpless if something goes wrong!"

The frantic pacing halted when she came to stand in front of him. She wrapped her hands in the front of his BDU shirt. "I can't lose you, Daniel! I won't survive if anything happens to you!"

The tears forming in her beautiful green eyes had his heart lurching in his chest. For one moment he was tempted to give in to her concerns…to her demands. He pulled her into his arms, held her tightly. "If we know it's going to happen, we can use this to our advantage," he said softly.

Wrapping her arms around his broad, strong shoulders, Casey clung tightly to the man who completed and filled her heart...her very soul. Tears rolled down her cheeks; she ignored them. "Nothing is worth risking your life for."

"Aw, Angel, I'm not risking my life," he argued.

"You don't know that, Daniel!" Casey declared. "Snakes are batshit crazy! What if this Goa'uld gets pissy and kills you? What happens when you wake up in three days? Or if your body is handed over to snaky, crazy scientists to dissect? Then what?"

"Okay, those are legitimate concerns," Daniel admitted. "I'll just have to make certain that I don't get killed."

She took a shuddering breath, held tighter to her Husband. "I'll bet Jack will just put the kibosh on the whole thing. He's a general now. He can do that."

Daniel chuckled. "He might. But Casey, what if there's another weapon out there? Do we want to risk the Goa'uld finding more Ancient technology to use against us?"

"If you walk through that 'gate, you'll be captured," she said stubbornly.

"Nothing we do can prevent it?" he asked.

"No," she whispered. She'd already looked for that possible 'out'. In fact, other than Daniel's capture, it was the only part of the download she'd fully examined. "If you walk through the Stargate tomorrow, you'll be a Goa'uld captive within a day or so."

He frowned as a somewhat familiar thought crossed his mind. The only time that Casey's premonitions couldn't be changed was when there was a specific reason for the events that were to take place. "It has to happen," he mumbled, more to himself than to his Wife.

She sighed heavily. "Whatever it is, it had better be damned good. And don't you dare die! I'll kick your ass across the galaxy if you get killed!"

"I promise, no getting killed," he chuckled, pulling her close again.

Jack chose that moment to wander into the office. "Geez, don't you two ever give it a rest?"

Casey looked over at her CO. "Not by choice," she quipped petulantly.

Being the observant man that he was…a fact he would vehemently deny…Jack immediately noted the traces of tears on the young seer's face. "What's wrong?" he asked.

"Casey had a download," Daniel replied.

"Bad?"

Pulling away from her Husband, Casey wiped absently at her cheeks. "If we go on this mission, Daniel is going to be captured by a Goa'uld. I couldn't see who it was, just that it's a snake. The weird thing is, there are two snakes involved, but only one knows about the other."

"Okay, that's a bit…strange," Jack replied.

"Strange? Jack, I just told you that Daniel is going to be captured!"

"So you did. Does our knowing change anything?"

She shook her head.

"So, I wonder what's up," Jack mumbled. "Any ideas?"

Daniel couldn't help but grin. With his best friend coming to the same conclusion, there was no way for Casey to insist that they remain on the base. "No clue."

One size-six, black leather, government-issue work boot hit the concrete floor with a resounding 'whap'. "We're not going!"

Both men stared in unmasked surprise at the young seer. "Did you just stamp your foot?" Jack asked, his brown eyes wide.

Casey glared at the older man. "Damned straight I did! We. Are. Not. Going!"

"She's a bit over-protective at the moment," Daniel explained, unnecessarily. He was grinning from ear to ear, although he had no doubt his reaction would only further irritate his Wife.

"A bit?" was the incredulous response.

"Are you listening to me?" Casey demanded to know.

"We hear you, Radar," Jack responded. "We're just ignoring you right now. When you calm down and can see reason, we'll discuss the matter."

"You…you're…you just…when I…Oooo!" Hands clenched in fists of rage, Casey marched away from Daniel, past Jack, and into the corridor. Her intent was to discuss the situation with General Hammond. Surely he would see reason and keep SG-1 away from…whatever the hell that planet was! SG-12 could take lots of nice close-up photos on rolls and rolls of film, and hours and hours of tape, and Daniel could analyze, translate, decipher, interpret, and extrapolate everything from the safety of his office.

Jack watched the young blonde as she stormed out of the room. "I don't think I've ever seen her this pissed off!"

Daniel chortled. "Yeah, she's in a snit all right."

He returned his attention to his best friend. "Do you think it's safe?"

The archaeologist shrugged. "As long as I stay alive, I should be fine."

"Try to get free as soon as possible, SOP."

"I will," Daniel replied. He took a deep breath. "At least I don't have to worry about becoming a host. I mean, if it happens, I know that I'll be okay within a few hours."

"Don't get too cocky about that," Jack warned. "Ribbit had been in one of those canny jars. He was weak, remember?"

It was impossible not to grin at the deliberate misnomers. Rihat had been the name of the Goa'uld that Ba'al had infested him with. And while it was true, the symbiote had been in stasis in a canopic jar; from the memories that had been left in his mind, Daniel knew that the imprisonment had only been for a matter of weeks. "I remember. I also know that he was much stronger than a prim'ta would be, and to be honest, that's probably more of a threat than any mature symbiote."

"Maybe. Just be careful."

"Always."

"So, how long do you think Radar is gonna be pissed off?"

"Until I get home."

"Oy. Better make it fast, then Danny. Don't know that the SGC can withstand Radar in such a bad mood."

 

 

 

Casey stormed into General Hammond's office. "We're not going!" she announced determinedly.

The general, taken aback at the sudden appearance of the seer, had only a moment to note the fire that lit her eyes. She'd never entered his office without knocking first, and waiting for permission to enter. Whatever had happened, Casey Jackson was angrier than he could recall ever having seen her. "Excuse me?"

She realized at that moment how confrontational her entrance had been. "Sorry, sir," she mumbled. The fear…no, the sheer terror…of what lay ahead for her Husband once again took control. She straightened her shoulders and looked directly at the general. "I just had a download. A very unpleasant download. Sir, if SG-1 walks through that 'gate tomorrow as scheduled, Daniel will become a Goa'uld captive. Nothing we do can prevent that. Short of not going."

"I see."

She took a deep breath. Her emotions were running rampant, preventing her from being able to see the situation clearly. While part of her understood that something important was likely to result if Daniel was taken prisoner by the Goa'uld, the largest part only knew that she couldn't…wouldn't…risk the only man she'd ever loved to the dangers of being captured by the enemy. "I…I can't, sir. I can't lose him," she whispered.

"Sit down, Casey. Let's discuss what you've seen, and what we should do about it," Hammond said kindly.

Dropping into the chair in front of the general's desk, Casey took another deep breath. "I'm not certain when he's taken. The oddest thing is, not one of us…not any one on SG-1 or SG-12…is anywhere near when it happens. At least, I don't see us anywhere."

"All right. What else?"

"He's not taken through the 'gate. Whoever takes him doesn't come through the 'gate."

"That would mean that this Goa'uld is either already on the planet, or has a ship in orbit," Hammond mused.

"Yes, sir."

"What else can you see?"

"Nothing…I mean, there are a few images of…well, I'm not sure." She frowned; concentrating on the images that had filled her mind with the download of information. Images she'd not heeded after seeing what was in store for Daniel. Her fear, and her anger, had taken over before she'd fully examined the entire download, leaving her incapable of objectivity. Taking another deep breath, Casey began to fully examine everything that had been dumped into her mind. "Jewelry. No…not just jewelry. Bracelets. They're wide...several inches wide, and look like gold."

"Are these bracelets similar to the armbands the Goa'uld wear?"

"I don't think so...no...Ancient," the seer replied almost absently, her gaze focused on the wall behind the general, studying what only she could see. "They were made by the Ancients. There's something…it looks like writing on them, but I have no clue what it means. I've never seen that particular script before. Daniel would probably know what it is," she admitted.

Hammond sat back in his chair. "Then these bracelets are important?"

"I think so, but I don't know how or why. One is missing. One is in the hands of a snake-" Her eyes went wide as she continued to sort through all that had been left in her mind. "There are two Goa'uld involved in this, but one doesn't know about the other. The one who knows about the other is watching…he's watching. He has one bracelet. He wants the other, the...um...the mate...to the piece he's found. He's…he's waiting for her?…yes, her…to find it. Then he'll attack, take the one she finds, and disappear with both."

"I realize this is difficult for you. But is it possible that Daniel needs to be taken captive so he can prevent the Goa'uld from either finding the second bracelet; or he needs to take both bracelets from these Goa'uld?"

"It's possible," she admitted - not quite sullenly. She cocked her head sideways as more images began to flicker in her mind, frowning slightly. "Escape," she murmured. "With a ghost." She looked at the general. "Sorry, sir. I know that doesn't make sense. But Daniel does escape. He has help, but I can't see who it is. Just the word 'ghost'."

"And he's able to return to the SGC?"

Once again she examined all of the images, sifted through all of the feelings that had accompanied her download. "Eventually. I can't tell how long. If feels like…well, it feels like a couple of weeks."

Hammond frowned. "That could be a problem," he admitted.

Casey's cheeks turned crimson. "If he takes enough of the serum, he might be able to convince the Goa'uld that he has an illness that requires regular injections."

"We'll have to hope that works."

For not the first time Casey cursed the pheromones that made her unique. That addicted her Husband the same as any narcotic available. An addiction that would result in debilitating withdrawal if he was denied his regular 'fix'.

"One thing I've learned in years of working with SG-1," General Hammond said gently. "They're always very resourceful, and very lucky."

"SG-1 magic," Casey replied, offering a weak smile.

"I understand how you must be feeling right now," the general continued. "But unless you have another download that indicates a change in what you've already seen, something that would put Daniel in more harm than just being captured, the mission will continue as planned."

"Yes, sir." Her heart dropped to her toes. Just how much would Daniel suffer? Would he be denied the serum that would protect him...would he go through withdrawal? Would he be beaten? Tortured? She closed her eyes, willed herself not to cry, even though she longed to throw herself onto the floor and scream her frustrations…her fears.

"There have been other missions that had to happen, for whatever reason. Usually something that aided us in our battle against the Goa'uld. You knew that something…bad…was going to happen when you were captured by Ba'al, and then by that daemon-" the general frowned as he tried to recall the name of the being that had nearly destroyed both Daniel and Casey.

"Dartal," she offered softly.

"Dartal," Hammond acknowledged. "I realize you didn't see exactly what happened, didn't see your capture. But the results of those events led to the defeat of those daemons, and their plans to destroy The One."

She shifted in the chair. "I know," she sighed, finally admitting what her head had been trying to tell her, unable to filter through the screams of rage and fear from her heart.

"Knowing in advance that he's going to be taken hostage will give Daniel an advantage over his captors. He'll know about the bracelets, and he'll be in a position to learn more about them. He would react differently if he wasn't prepared to be taken captive. Most probably in a way that could get him killed," Hammond pointed out.

"I need to tell him about the bracelets," she admitted. Gave the general a weak smile. "I didn't exactly look at everything when the info was first dumped on me."

Hammond ducked his head, tried to hide his smile. No doubt her reaction to what she'd seen had been more emotional than she'd displayed when she'd arrived in his office. He wouldn't hold her behavior against her - she was simply reacting the way any woman in love would react to the news of her husband's impending imprisonment by an enemy. It was only human nature to want to protect loved ones. "Keep in mind, Casey, that SG-1 has walked into the fire many times before."

"Sometimes I wonder if that makes them…er…us…brave, foolhardy, or just plain stupid."

It was impossible to hold back the chuckle that escaped. "I suppose it could be a combination of those things."

She smiled. "I suppose it could be. I need to give Daniel all the info I was given," she said, rising to her feet. "I'm sorry for barging in like I did."

"You were upset," Hammond said easily. "With every right to be. I won't pretend to know what it's like to have a gift like yours."

"Sometimes, it's a royal pain."

The general chuckled again. "I have no doubt of that. I promise, we'll do everything we can to make certain Daniel makes it home safely."

"Yes, sir." She turned toward the door, then paused, looking over her shoulder. "If anything does happen to him...if he doesn't make it home, you should probably find a nice, quiet place for me. I won't survive going through that again."

The simple comment weighed like a stone in his heart. If Daniel Jackson were to be killed in a way his Immortality couldn't protect him from, he had no doubt that Casey would completely fall apart. If there were no miracle return for her husband, she would remain a shattered woman. "I promise," he said softly.

With a nod, Casey retraced her steps, much calmer than she had been. While she still hated the idea of the team going on the mission, was absolutely terrified at the thought of Daniel being taken by the Goa'uld, she reluctantly admitted to herself that there was something important that he had to do. And if the images she'd been given were an indication, that 'something' was getting or destroying those bracelets. She glared up at the ceiling of the elevator as she rode back to level eighteen. "This better be damned important, and he'd better come home to me without a single freaking bruise!" she hissed.

 

 

 

Jack was perched on the edge of the work table, Daniel sitting at his desk, when Casey re-entered the office.

"Casey?" Daniel asked, watching her face. It was obvious that she was still upset, but her wrath had been played out, it seemed.

"The mission is a go," she sighed. "There are two bracelets. Made by the Ancients. Both have writing on them, but I have no clue what they say, I can't make most of it out. What I can see of the writing is a script I've never seen before."

"Oh-kay," he said slowly.

"There are two snakes involved. One has a bracelet, and he's watching the other. She's looking for both."

"She…whoever she is…doesn't know that someone has a bracelet?" Daniel asked.

"No, she has no idea. Whoever he is, he's going to sweep in and take the second one if she finds it."

"Maybe that's why Danny is taken," Jack suggested. "One of them wants him to translate what's on the bracelets."

"That's a good bet," Daniel nodded. "You said they're Ancient?"

Casey nodded. "I have no idea what they are, or if they're just pretty bangles. But those two Goa'uld are convinced they're important."

"If they're convinced of that, we need to find out why," Jack said.

"Absolutely," Daniel agreed.

Casey settled on the corner of Daniel's desk. "I hate this."

"I know," Daniel said gently.

"I'm terrified of losing you."

"I know that, too," he said. "I promise, Angel, I'll be home before you have time to miss me. Whatever these bracelets do, or what the Goa'uld think they do, is important. That has to be the reason I'm going to be abducted. And why we need to let this whole thing play out."

"I'm so scared," she whispered.

Daniel opened his arms, smiled when she immediately slid into his lap. He held her tightly, pressed his face against her soft, fragrant hair. "I am, too," he said, his voice slightly muffled. "But we know what's going to happen. We have a pretty good idea why it's going to happen. That will give me an edge, something to use against them."

"If they want Danny to translate something, it's unlikely they'll try to kill him," Jack added, tossing a rakish grin in her direction.

"True," she sighed.

"We should let Rocco and Sam in on this. They'll both be upset if we know and they're left in the dark. Don't need the whole team in a pissy mood," Jack teased.

"We should probably let the guys on 12 know as soon as we get there," Daniel mused.

Casey was frowning again, tugging her lip between her teeth.

"What's wrong, babe?" Daniel asked, rubbing his hand up and down her back, pleased to note that, just as she always did, she arched slightly into his caress.

"I just don't get why none of us are around when you're taken!" she replied, almost absently. "You're completely alone!"

Now it was Daniel's turn to frown. "That is a bit weird."

"Not trying to make light of the subject," Jack said, "but it's possible that you're gonna be snatched while you're taking care of…uh...personal business."

Daniel rolled his eyes. "Oh, swell. That's a mental image I can live without. Snatched while I'm taking a leak."

Despite the seriousness of the situation, it was impossible not to see the humor in Jack's theory. Casey giggled softly. "There won't be one person on any team willing to answer nature's call alone in the future if it's true."

Jack snorted, then laughed. "Sure will add a new dimension to 'got your back'."

Daniel snickered. "I just hope that's not the case, I really do."

"Yeah, could be embarrassing," Jack agreed. He dropped to his feet. "Okay, let's go get Sam and Teal'c and fill them in."

"Coffee in the commissary?" Daniel asked.

"Ten minutes," Jack confirmed. He headed out the door, hands shoved into his pants' pockets. His expression was one of determination. It had nothing at all to do with locating the other members of his team. And everything to do with the fact that he intended to do his best to prevent Daniel from being captured. It might be a long shot, but if they knew about those bracelets, they could figure out who had them, and get the darned things without putting his best friend in danger. A message he sent out quite succinctly to the Tooth Fairy and any Glowy Jellyfish who might be listening.

 

A A A A A A

 

Doctor Elizabeth Weir closed the folder. Tossed it onto her desk. She’d been in the office less than a month, the newly appointed head of Homeworld Security. A secret agency she’d not known existed until President Hayes had called her to the Oval Office, explained what it was, and that he was appointing her to run the operation. The agency had been created as a result of findings by the mysterious Area 52. She’d also learned about the oft-touted and equally mysterious Area 51. Straight-faced...in fact, the president's demeanor had been downright somber as he shared the information with her...Hayes had explained all that had happened 'behind-the-scenes' during the prior eight and a half years.

Alien artifacts. Brought back through a 'Stargate'. The Stargate, itself was apparently an alien artifact, created by a race known as the Ancients, who had at some point in time called planet Earth 'home'. This Stargate supposedly established a stable wormhole between two planets. Which in turn allowed travel to other planets. As in planets that weren't Earth. Planets that were scattered throughout the galaxy. Military 'teams' went on 'missions' through the Stargate to those alien planets. And the most frightening tidbit of information…Earth was in a war with aggressive, parasitic aliens known as ‘Goa’uld’.

She'd been convinced, as she sat in the most important office in the White House, listening to what could only be a fantastic science fiction story, that someone had slipped the president a hit of acid. He was, she was certain, out of his mind. The only question she believed needed to be addressed was whether his insanity was temporary or permanent.

Jumping to her feet, her thoughts spurring her body into action, she began to pace around the stacks of boxes that held seven years’ worth of ‘mission reports’. Either this was the most elaborate practical joke in the history of practical jokes - or everything President Hayes had told her, every word she’d read, was true. The problem, she decided, was being able to believe what she’d read. One hand moved over the top box of one of the stacks. There were so many…due to that fact she’d actually read only the mission summaries, not the fully detailed and documented reports. She'd not even bothered sifting through any of the numerous photographs that accompanied most of the carefully typed documents.

She frowned as she confronted that fact. It was her habit to devour every tiny detail of information when she was working on any negotiation. She stared at the stacks of boxes. Was it the overwhelming quantity that had pushed her into such haphazard preparation? Or the content of the plethora of reports, coupled with her own nagging disbelief?

She heaved a sigh. If this place…this Stargate Command…was as important as President Hayes indicated it was, maybe she’d have a better understanding of it if she could actually see the place. Talk to a few of the people involved. It had been her experience that reports couldn’t cover nearly enough when the situation was complex. Face-to-face meetings were required to make any actual decisions, or to set out any possible alliances or treaties. Which gave her a nice excuse for the fact that she’d not read even a fraction of those reports, she though somewhat guiltily.

Another sigh. One of her mandates was to keep the Stargate Alliance, a group of world leaders who were aware of the Stargate Program, as mollified as possible, without giving them anything in the way of influence over the program. The president wanted to keep ‘outside interference’ to a minimum for as long as possible. That, she thought just a bit peevishly, was nothing more than posturing by the military. If the entire world was at risk, it seemed only fair that other countries be involved in the protection of the planet. "Men and their rice bowls," she muttered aloud. "So damned afraid someone else is going to stick his fingers into a bowl that doesn't belong to him."

She contemplated for only another minute or so before picking up her phone. "Annie? Put in a call to the president, will you?"

After receiving confirmation that the call was being made, Weir settled back down behind her desk. She pulled a legal pad closer, and began to write down the questions she wanted to ask the man in charge of the SGC…she grabbed the other pad, and glanced at her notes. Lieutenant General George Hammond. President Hayes was full of praise for the man. Which was all fine and dandy. But she didn’t know the general, knew nothing about him other than what she’d read. She’d reserve her opinion until she’d met him.

Her list was three pages long when the phone on the corner of the desk rang. She answered absently. "Yes?"

"Doctor Weir, the president is on line three."

Sitting up straight, Weir responded to her secretary, then punched the button that blinked incessantly. "Mr. President, thank you for speaking with me."

"Glad to do it," Hayes replied easily. "What can I do for you?'"

"I was wondering if it would be possible to take a tour of this…um…SGC," she replied.

"Absolutely. In fact, I insist on it," the president said. Pleased that his instincts had been correct. He'd opted to wait before 'sending' Doctor Weir to Colorado, convinced that she would want to see the place for herself. "The best way to understand what’s going on there is to experience it."

"I realize that Homeworld Security is the political arm of this…department," Weir said carefully. "What I don’t understand is why it’s so important to keep it a secret from the public, or to keep any allies from assisting us."

"Have you read the mission reports?" Hayes asked immediately.

"Yes, sir," she responded automatically. Liar. You're not prepared at all! "Well, most of the summaries," she admitted, somewhat sheepishly.

In the Oval Office, Hayes grinned from ear to ear. The first time the stacks of boxes had been brought into his office, he’d done the same thing. General Maynard had given him a list of nearly seventy ‘crucial’ mission reports that he should read. Those reports had spurred him to read the others. It had taken him weeks, reading every night for hours, but he’d managed to go through every report in every box. None of what he’d read however, had become real to him until he’d stepped into the ‘gate room of the SGC. He’d not understood exactly what the men and women assigned to that particular military base faced until he’d been faced with it as well. "Doctor Weir, I’ll make certain that you’re cleared to enter the facility. We’ll talk when you get back."

Before she could reply, the line went dead. Shaking her head with disbelief, and not a little worry about the man for whom she worked, Weir dialed for her secretary. "Annie, book a flight to Colorado Springs for either tomorrow or the day after. I’d like to arrive early afternoon."

"Yes, ma’am. Shall I make hotel reservations as well?"

Weir picked up one of the folders, which contained information on the layout of the facility itself. There had been mention of VIP 'guest rooms'. If she chose to stay overnight, she’d simply insist that she be allowed to stay there. Doing so might offer a glimpses of routines not normally seen by ‘visiting dignitaries’. Which in turn could tell her a great deal about the operation, and the people involved. "Not necessary," she replied.

"Yes, ma’am."

Weir sat back in her chair, confident that by the time she returned to Washington, DC, she’d have a better understanding of just what her position entailed, and what Stargate Command was all about.

 

A A A A A A

 

Sam and Teal’c stared at Casey. "You’re sure there’s nothing we can do to stop this?" Sam asked.

"I’m sure," Casey sighed.

Teal’c frowned at his cup of tea. "Then there is something Daniel Jackson must accomplish as a captive of these Goa'uld."

Daniel smiled. Once again his assessment of the situation was echoed aloud. He pretended not to notice the frown that Casey tossed at the Jaffa; she'd taken note of the same thing. And she wasn't one bit happy about it. "It seems that one of the Goa’uld is in possession of a bracelet, and the other is searching for both."

"From what I could ‘see’," Casey sighed, "the first Goa’uld…a woman…dark hair, not that that means anything, at least, I don’t think it does, although it might-"

"Gonna get anywhere near a point, Radar?" Jack interrupted, his brown eyes twinkling.

Casey looked over at her commanding officer. Gave him a 'butter-won't-melt-in-my-mouth' smile. And then stuck her tongue out at him. Couldn't help but giggle when he returned the gesture. "The female Goa'uld only knows about the bracelets. The guy...he has dark hair, too...I never though about it, but have you noticed that all of the Goa'uld seem to choose dark haired, dark-eyed hosts? I mean, I know a few of them are still in the hosts they had when they left here...well, maybe...that was almost ten thousand years ago-"

"Danny, you have been a horrible influence on your wife!" Jack declared.

Daniel and Sam were both chuckling, and even Teal'c was grinning.

"Not funny, I was just making an observation," Casey huffed indignantly. Which only made her teammates chuckle louder.

"So the she-snake is looking for the jewelry, and the he-snake actually has one of the bracelets," Jack said, summarizing for the seer.

"Yep," Casey nodded. "He's going to let her do all the work of finding the second one, since he already has one in his slimy hands. Typical," she said.

"Typical?" Daniel asked.

"Yep. The man standing back and expecting the woman to do all the work," Casey replied.

"You so don't want to go there," Daniel warned, not in any mood to listen to how annoying or frustrating men were. Like women were so easy to live with! They'd had a spat just the day before about his den...and his insistence that she stop moving things on his desk to dust. An argument they'd had several times before. If she'd just leave his stuff alone...

Her fingers closed around his hand. "Not you, Stud Muffin. You're wonderful about helping around the house. And I know how much you do around here," Casey smiled, waving her free hand to indicate the SGC in general. "But most men aren't as...motivated."

With a grin, Daniel lifted their entwined hands, and kissed her thumb.

"Typical bum," Sam said, not bothering to hid her smile.

"Or snake. Whichever," Casey grinned.

"Do you think that your vision might be changed if we make sure Danny isn't alone?" Jack asked, trying to sound more casual than he felt. No matter what reason the Tooth Fairy might have for Daniel's capture, if he could prevent it, he was going to!

"I dunno," Casey replied, giving a shrug of her slender shoulders. "Since he's alone when I see him taken, it might make a difference."

"Then we don't leave you alone," Jack said, looking at Daniel. "You stay with one of us at all times."

"Jack-"

"At all times, Daniel."

Blue eyes moved from one determined face to the next. Daniel could feel the determination of his teammates...his family...to protect him. Felt the warmth of that concern, that love, wrap around him like a warm blanket. "Got it."

Casey wrapped her free arm around her waist. Hoped that Jack's edict would prevent Daniel from facing what she'd seen. Feared that in the moment one of them looked away, or when Daniel wandered more than a few steps from them, he'd be snatched from her...from the team.

He reached out and caressed her cheek, the worry in her green eyes cause for his own concern about her well-being. "I'll be okay, Angel," Daniel insisted quietly. "You said I make it home okay."

"I know," she replied softly. "Doesn't mean I won't do anything and everything I can to avoid the situation altogether."

"We all will," Jack promised.

 

A A A A A A

 

The woman was beautiful - her olive skin unblemished and smooth, her features elegant...regal. Exotic amber eyes...barely visible above the veil that covered her face, the top corners connected to the turban that covered her head...moved over the terrain, missed nothing as she strode toward the ruins of a once great city. Her entourage consisted of a dozen armored warriors, who bore the mark of their god on their forehead - a triangle, the sides curved out slightly, with a lotus blossom in the center; half a dozen priests - all of whom were bald and wearing only a white kilt around their hips, and leather sandals on their feet. And a man with red hair and brown eyes, dressed in similar fashion as the priests, although a gold slave collar encircled his neck.

She stepped inside the still imposing structure. The temple was old, and one of only three buildings that remained standing in spite of the ravages of time. The bright paint that had once decorated the pictographs, still detectable here and there, was faded now. Most important, however, the text that had been so carefully inscribed from floor to ceiling on all four walls was completely intact.

In spite of her attempts to do so, she was unable to immediately identify the text that covered the walls. The architects of the temple, of the city itself, were long gone. But they'd left behind the most interesting devices...

Kali stared at the symbols. Like most Goa'uld, she could read basic Ancient symbols. These, however, were strange...like nothing she'd seen before. Convinced that clues to the hiding place of secret map pieces...two matching bracelets, she'd learned...were contained within the writing, the System Lord was determined to read the obscure dialect. After several minutes, during which absolute silence prevailed as she struggled to put some meaning to the odd shapes, she looked over her shoulder at the man who served as High Priest. Surely the priest, educated in all manner of writing as he was, could decipher the text. "Tell me what this says," she said, pointing to the wall beside her.

The priest stepped forward, and studied the runes that marched across the expanse of plastered stone. Gave a heartfelt sigh. "Forgive me, My Lord. I do not recognize these symbols."

Biting back a curse of anger, she paced from one wall to another, hands clenched at her sides.

"My Lord, I have heard rumors that one among the Tau'ri is most gifted in deciphering even the most perplexing of Ancient riddles," one of the lower-ranking priests said, standing just out of range of her ribbon device, and tossing nervous glances at the High Priest. That man was glaring at his subordinate's audacity. The apparent ire of his superior didn't stop the priest, however. "It is said that Lord Ba'al tricked this man into translating two Ancient tablets for him."

Dark eyes swung toward the middle-aged priest. He looked anxious...but she could sense he was speaking the truth as he knew it. "And just whom might this Tau'ri be?"

"One known as Daniel Jackson." The priest sent up a hurried prayer that the rumors he'd heard were true. If his god should demand that the Tau'ri be brought to her, only to be found incapable of translating the strange text, he would die beside the unfortunate man.

The name was familiar to her. Doctor Daniel Jackson was wanted by every System Lord in the galaxy, and beyond. According to the information last gathered by her spies, he was part of a group of four individuals known as 'SG-1'. A most annoying group of humans...three humans and one shol'va, she corrected herself mentally. The shol'va was none other than the former First Prime of Apophis. This 'SG-1' was responsible for the death of nearly a dozen System Lords...including Apophis, and twice as many minor Goa'uld governors.

"He and the others...they call themselves teammates...venture through the Chappa'ai regularly. It would not take a great deal of gold to locate him," the priest continued. He motioned toward the walls of the temple. Paused, then thought to protect himself in the event that the rumors turned out to be false. "The dialect is so old, that perhaps not even the rumored skills of the Tau'ri would be of use."

Kali turned to look at the walls once again. The clues she needed were hidden somewhere in this very room. She was certain of it. All that she had learned so far about the mysterious bracelets...created by the Ancients and rumored to be part of one of the Ancient's weapons...had led her to this place. There was no doubt in her mind that they were somewhere nearby. If she had access to this weapon, she was certain she would rise to rule all of the Goa'uld who bickered back and forth like children. But to find the clues, to solve the mystery, she first had to understand what was written on the walls. And it seemed that none of her own priests were capable of deciphering the text. Her grandiose plans required someone who could read the temple walls. The 'who' wasn't important. Only that the skills necessary were present.

"Should I seek information regarding this man?" the priest asked hesitantly. To aid his god would see him rewarded. To offend her, however, would certainly result in his death. He held his breath, not knowing whether he would draw another or not.

"Do so," Kali replied. She had no time to waste searching for a scholar. If this Daniel Jackson was as talented as his reputation declared him to be, she was certain he would be able to unravel the mysteries hidden within the temple. And his capture would certainly see her position in the empire elevated substantially. To have one of the most wanted criminals of the Goa'uld Empire subservient to her, bending knee in worship, others would hesitate to strike out at her. Particularly if the slave was tasked to help her destroy her enemies.

The priest bowed, then scurried away to locate his most trusted spy. One who would have the information needed within a day, possibly less. While it wasn't possible for the Goa'uld to learn directly of such secrets, nor were even the High Priest or First Prime of the System Lords privy to such information, those among slaves and servants could hear many things. And would share that knowledge...for a price. Not even the infamous SG-1 could hide all of their movements. Especially when they had garnered so many allies. Allies among whom many Goa'uld spies wandered.

 

 

 

Vyas held the communication orb in one hand, and activated the lock on the door to his quarters with the other. He had just enough time to chuckle over the fact that he was living up to his name, 'arranger', as he waited for the spy to respond.

"Yes?"

"It is I," Vyas said quietly. "I am in need of your services."

The one-time slave trader, successful bounty hunter, and occasional spy, nodded. Focused his one good eye on the man to whom he spoke. He'd dealt with this priest before. Without a doubt once again the latest rumors were of interest to him...to aide him in serving his 'god'. "Just what is it that you need?"

"Information."

The spy bit back his smile. Knowing what one's clients wanted before they spoke their request kept him one step ahead in the game of espionage. "That does not come cheap, my friend."

"Of this I am aware. I can offer two bars of gold, if your information proves helpful."

"I'm listening."

"My Lord has need of a scholar. One who can decipher even the most ancient of writings. It is said that there is a man capable of such accomplishments."

"And who would this man be?"

"A Tau'ri. One known as Daniel Jackson."

The spy's blood ran cold. "I cannot help you." The response was immediate, clipped...and cold.

"I have been told that you have dealt with the Tau'ri before. And that you are capable of learning the movements of the Tau'ri known as SG-1," Vyas pressed, in spite of the shuttered expression that now covered the spy's face.

"I cannot help you," the spy repeated firmly.

The priest took a deep breath. Information could always be had...for a price. He knew from experience that this spy was the best in the quadrant, if not the entire galaxy. There was no doubt in his mind that this particular spy could find exactly what...whom...he needed. "Not even for five bars of gold?"

The spy hesitated. Five bars of gold was a considerable amount. He could live well for many months on that much gold.

"I need only know where he will be."

"No harm will come to him?" There was a reason the safety of the Tau'ri was of concern to him. He would not turn the Tau'ri over to a Goa'uld to face death. Not again.

Vyas shrugged. "I do not know. If he translates the text that interests my god, then I can see no reason for him to come to ill."

Tieel Mogba felt a bead of sweat roll down between his shoulder blades. If he gave this priest the information he wanted, no doubt Daniel Jackson would be a captive within a matter of days. If he could find out just where the archaeologist was to be held, he could sneak in, free the man, and repay a debt he owed. And perhaps even earn Jackson's gratitude, if not his forgiveness. That would most certainly prevent the Tau'ri from killing him! Which was, whether he admitted it out loud or not, the reason he kept tabs on just where SG-1 traveled. So that he could avoid any unexpected confrontations that more than likely would end in his very painful death.

"Seven bars of pure gold."

The priest was damned insistent. No, desperate. Look at his eyes. Desperation fills them. No doubt the priest's life was riding on finding Jackson. With a weary nod of his head, Tieel agreed. "According to my sources, SG-1 will join others of their SGC, who have been on a planet near the edge of Morrigan's territory for several days now." A planet once inhabited by the mysterious Ancients, he'd been told. And, according to his sources in the tavern frequented by the Tau'ri, making it easy to 'overhear' their conversations, the archaeologist was quite enthused about the find. "I am sending the coordinates now."

Vyas smiled. "I will see to it that payment is made immediately."

"If I do not receive seven gold bars of pure gold within twenty-four hours, you will pay me with your life." And if I am unable to free Jackson, I will pay with mine.

The priest shuddered slightly. There were stories told of those who had died at this man's hand. Horrible deaths, full of suffering - for daring to cross him, or for failure to pay any agreed upon price. "You will have it as soon as I can arrange for my courier to leave here."

Mogba nodded once, then shut off the orb. And stood shaking where he stood. His actions...his words...had started a series of events that he could only hope would not see the death of the man known as Daniel Jackson. If that happened, he had no doubt that the man's teammates, one of whom was Jackson's wife, would hunt him down and kill him in a most unpleasant manner. This was an opportunity to make amends between himself and the Tau'ri known as SG-1. He sent up prayers to the true gods that he'd be successful.


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