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The Recalcitrant Lo'taur
She bolted upright, her heart pounding against her ribs as if it were determined to break free. Running a shaking hand over her face, Weir realized that the sound of alarms had been responsible for waking her in such a frightening manner. Fumbling in the darkness for the switch on the lamp, her fingers searched for her watch as well. It took a moment for her bleary eyes to focus on the small numbers in the dim light. Not quite five-thirty. In the morning. Hearing the unmistakable sound of heavy footfalls outside the door of her room, she tossed back the bedding, and reached for clothes. What the hell is going on?
With the larger lamp burning brightly, she pulled on a pair of black slacks and a lightweight blue sweater. Took the time to run her hairbrush through her hair, and a powder-puff over her face. She dabbed on a bit of lip gloss, then dropped the tube back into her travel case.
As she hurried for the door, she was struck once again by her quarters...and how comfortable they actually were. The room was as nice as most of the hotels she stayed in. She'd have to remember to ask General Hammond the reason for having such impressive accommodations available.
Following the corridor to the end, where the elevator waited, she wondered just what could be happening that was worthy of alarms. Surely the SGC wasn't under attack...was it? When the doors opened, the car was already occupied by four men. If she was remembering correctly, the one who had nodded at her...although he didn't smile, in fact he seemed a bit put out...was a leader of one of the teams. CO...commanding officer...her brain informed her. She couldn't remember his name.
In spite of the fact that her presence seemed to irritate the men who waited, rather impatiently, for her to step into the elevator, Weir offered a smile. She hadn't expected it to be returned. She stepped back involuntarily when one of the men reached around her and punched the number '28', even though the button was already lit.
No one seemed inclined to tell her anything, she thought grumpily. "What's going on? Are we being invaded?"
"No clue," Ferretti replied. They'd have already been down there if the elevator hadn't stopped for Doctor Prissy Pants. He hadn't been impressed when he'd met the woman during her tour of the facility. Liked her even less at the moment...she was slowing him and his team when they needed to be doing their freaking job! Damned bureaucrats, anyway, he grumbled silently.
"Then why are the alarms going off?"
"That's just the alarm for 'gate activation," Willy Lopez offered.
"This happens every time the Stargate is opened?" she asked, wide-eyed.
"Yep," Ferretti said. His eyes glued to the numbers. Damn it! How long can it take to go down three freaking levels?
As soon as the doors opened the men dashed out, leaving her alone, and speechless. She barely had presence of mind to step out before the doors closed again.
Accustomed to being in new places, Weir had quickly learned the basic layout of each level. She turned the corner, spotted the thick blast door, and hurried toward the 'gate room.' Just as she crossed the threshold, a disembodied voice spoke over the shrill scream of the klaxons.
"IDC confirmed. It's SG-1, sir," one of the techs from the control room said, his voice echoing eerily.
General Hammond was standing just behind the armed Marines. "Open the iris."
She watched as the metal circle that had covered the Stargate seemed to twist and disappear. The center of the Stargate shimmered. It looked, Weir thought...with a bit of hysterical amusement...as if a swimming pool had been turned sideways, but the water wasn't pouring out. She jumped with shock as she watched what looked like camping gear and backpacks come hurtling through the air and tumbling down the ramp. It was even more surprising when two women walked down the ramp. They were followed by five men. One man had another over his shoulders. The other four were carrying a sixth man. The man being carried looked very large.
"Colonel?" Hammond asked when Sam stopped in front of him.
"General O'Neill thought that we'd be able to protect Daniel if someone was with him," Sam explained. "He and Teal'c were with Daniel...but..." She turned her head slightly, took a deep breath before continuing. "Major Anderson and his men located another temple, which had a ring transport."
"It had been used within the past few hours, maybe a day or so at the most," Anderson said.
"I see. So Doctor Jackson was taken?"
"Yes, sir," Casey said softly.
Hammond turned, frowned slightly when he caught sight of Doctor Weir standing just inside the door. He was about to call for a medical team when Jack began to groan.
Anderson gently lowered his burden to the floor.
"Okay, who the hell hit me?" Jack demanded. He glanced around, saw Hammond watching him. "Sir."
"Welcome home, General."
"Yeah, about that," Jack started. He was still a bit unsteady on his feet, although the effects of the weapon were fading quickly. In three steps he was beside Casey, pulling her into his arms. "I'm so sorry, Radar," he said softly.
Teal'c had regained consciousness as well, and was climbing to his feet. "We will endeavor to locate Daniel Jackson as quickly as possible," he said firmly.
"Finding Tieel Mogba will be a good start," Sam said.
General Hammond's eyebrows went up. "Mogba took the doctor?"
"No, sir," Casey replied, pulling away from Jack's comforting embrace. "He's going to be the one to bring Daniel home."
"You're kidding me," Jack said, his eyes wide with surprise.
"Nope," Casey replied, tapping her temple lightly.
"Sir, I'd like to suggest getting teams out as soon as we can," Jack said.
"I agree, General," Hammond replied. "Per our earlier discussion, I have all SG teams on standby."
"We're ready to go, sirs," Ferretti offered.
"We need to get a few more rounds, then we'll be ready," Jack said.
"Very well," Hammond nodded.
"Let's go kids. Leave the packs here, we'll grab 'em on the way back out," Jack instructed.
"I will return Daniel Jackson's pack to supply," Teal'c said.
Jack nodded, his jaw working furiously. In spite of his best efforts, Danny was in the hands of a snake. He'd had just enough time before he passed out to see the Jaffa.
Casey put a hand on his arm. "He'll be okay," she said, although no one was certain whom she was trying harder to convince - her CO, or herself.
With a sharp nod, Jack led the way to the armory.
Hammond turned to look into the control room. "Call the first four teams on the list," he instructed.
Immediately the call went out overhead.
One of the largest trading posts in what they had come to consider the 'center' of Goa'uld territory would be the perfect 'starting point', Hammond thought. Every Goa'uld not already aware of Daniel Jackson's abduction would soon learn of the fact. If the spies for the SGC could be trusted, news of the 'attack' on a Tau'ri would garner mixed reactions among the System Lords. The most useful would be the fact that many of those so-called 'gods' would choose to hide away, until the Tau'ri swarming through the galaxy in search of their missing colleague had returned to Earth. The reputation built largely by SG-1, of the demise of Goa'uld unfortunate enough to cross the Tau'ri of the First World, would most certainly work to their advantage in this situation.
A A A A A A
Daniel groaned, then rolled to his side. He was actually surprised to find himself on a bed, rather than in a holding cell. He sat up slowly, adjusting his glasses. It wasn't an opulent room, such as the one he and Casey had been given on Ba'al's ha'tak. But it was obviously among the 'better' quarters of the ship.
The circumstances of his abduction filtered through his memory, and with a groan, he flopped onto his back. His hands investigated the buttons of his pants. He wasn't exposed...apparently he'd had the time to tuck himself back inside his boxers before being hit. At least he hoped that was what had happened! But his pants were still unfastened. He took care of that problem immediately, as he searched his memory. The fact that he couldn't remember actually performing that particular 'maneuver' made him shudder. Instinct. It was just instinct, that's why I don't remember doing it, he assured himself. The thought that the situation in which he'd been abducted was completely Jack's fault...by simply bringing up the possibility of being snatched during such a personal moment...made him grimace. "You jinxed us, O'Neill. I'll get you for that," he muttered.
The next thought was the concern Casey had shown when they'd awakened. Insisting that he be completely dressed before he left the tent. Usually, he'd just pull on his pants and boots, go out to relieve himself, then return to the tent to finish dressing. In that moment, he was thankful that he'd listened to her. At least he wasn't half-naked. And he'd taken the time to grab...
Shit! Had they taken anything...or everything? He patted his pockets. His heart nearly stopped beating when he discovered they were all empty. He gasped a breath, fighting back the panic that threatened to overwhelm him. With luck, he'd be able to get the serum and hypodermic needles returned before he actually needed them.
One positive thing about that energy weapon, he noted as he sat up, was that it didn't leave a pounding headache the way getting hit with a zat tended to do. That was one more thing to be grateful for.
Pushing himself to his feet, he examined what were undoubtedly to be his quarters. There wasn't a doubt in his mind that he was being monitored, but he wanted the chance to examine the room as carefully as possible before he was taken to...whoever the snake was. He briefly wondered just how much it had cost to arrange for his abduction. Ba'al had spent a considerable amount of gold to have Casey located and kidnapped. Whoever the snake was, she had to have had the resources to find him. Since Jaffa had taken him, she'd spared herself that expense, it seemed. He pushed the thoughts aside as unimportant.
He frowned slightly as he looked around. There was something familiar about this room. Not the room itself, he was aware he'd never been on this particular ha'tak before. The hieroglyphs on wall were totally different. No mention of who owned the ship, though. Unusual, actually. If the ship had been captured from another Goa'uld, perhaps there hadn't been time for extensive 're-decoration', just the removal of the previous owner's name. Still, there was something about it...he'd seen a room similar to this one...Daniel sighed. He'd remember eventually.
A tall chest near the door caught his attention. Or rather, the items laying on top of that chest caught his attention. "I'll be damned," he muttered aloud. His notebook, ink pen, Sharpie, wristwatch, sunglasses...still in their protective case, penlight, and the flashlight that held the Hathor-gene serum were scattered on a large, gold tray. His pocketknife was conspicuously missing, but that really wasn't a surprise. No doubt every item had been carefully investigated. "Sam, you're a genius," he muttered, opening the flashlight. The 'gizmo expert' and dear friend had devised a way to make certain the contents couldn't be tampered with. Locked with a special device keyed to his thumbprint, the tube couldn't be opened by anyone but him. Even so, he found himself checking the contents. The bottle of serum was still sealed with the band that Janet had put around the top...a way of letting him know immediately if the contents had been tampered with in any way. Of course, once he broke that seal, it would be impossible to tell if anyone had added anything, unless the contents were significantly different. Rather that putting everything back into his pockets, he opted to leave them where they were. If whoever was holding him prisoner intended to keep the items from him, they wouldn't be on a tray in his room, would they?
The next thing he noticed was the food waiting on the table on the far side of the room. While it was possible that the food, or the water...he'd sniffed the contents to see if he could determine what the carafe contained, and a few drops on his fingers confirmed his supposition...might be drugged, the rumbling of his stomach reminded him that he'd been grabbed before he'd had breakfast. It seemed that his captors were aware of that fact. He glanced around the room again, wondering if whoever was monitoring would allow him to eat before coming for him. Deciding that it was in his best interest to keep his strength up, and too damned hungry to worry too much about the safety of the food, he sat down on the chair and reached for a piece of fruit. Biting into what looked and tasted like an apple, Daniel figured that if he was needed to translate something, poisoning him, or even just drugging him to make him more complaisant, wouldn't be in his captor's best interest.
So far, his abduction wasn't proving to be threatening in any way. Annoying, of course. But the sooner he could find those bracelets, the sooner he could consider his personal 'mission' completed, and he could go home.
A A A A A A
Doctor Weir nearly jumped out of her skin when the Stargate was reactivated. Seeing what looked like an explosion of water bursting from the Stargate had her stepping back toward the wall. She'd thought the hissing sound the 'gate had made as it closed behind SG-1, when they had returned to the base, had been...spooky. This, she thought weakly, was downright frightening! She was already turning, prepared to run for safety, until she realized that whatever was happening seemed to be routine for those around her. The men she'd been with on the elevator were now armed, and standing impatiently at the bottom of the ramp
She watched as more than a dozen men and women walked up the ramp and into the shimmering blue event horizon. It seemed that the four teams were going to the same place. A trading outpost, she’d been told, upon inquiring as to where the teams were going. With information gleaned from talking to the inhabitants of this outpost, each team would search other places…other planets, she reminded herself. She frowned, trying to recall all of the details of the mission briefing she’d read. There was something…what was it? Oh yes! The so-called ‘seer’ of the SGC had indicated that Doctor Jackson would be returned, safe and sound. So why are so many resources being used in a needless search?
Not realizing that the members of SG-1 had entered the room, Weir turned to General Hammond. "Is this really necessary? If Mrs. Jackson is to be believed, and according to you and the president, she’s never wrong, why send out search parties? If Doctor Jackson isn’t in immediate danger, and the end result will be his safe return, shouldn’t those people be doing something productive, something more...important?"
"Excuse me?" a soft voice said.
Hammond and Weir turned in unison to look at the speaker.
Casey’s green eyes were full of fire. "There is nothing more important than finding my Husband!"
Weir wasn’t able to control the eye roll of impatience. "Of course, that’s just your opinion. You’re too emotionally invested in the situation to view it objectively."
Jack counted to ten before opening his mouth. "Lady, we know that Daniel is going to be okay. The snakes don’t know that we know that. By now there are probably several System Lords who are aware of the fact that Daniel has been snatched. If we just sit back, rather than attempting a rescue, they’re going to want to know why. The snake that has Daniel is going to be damned curious as to why the Tau’ri are suddenly uninterested in rescuing one of our own. That could get Daniel killed!"
"You have to understand military procedure and tactical strategies to understand that," Sam added coolly. She’d read the file on Doctor Weir. While the woman was a proven international negotiator, her dislike of the military had been well documented. So far, her 'exposure' to the military had been limited to the highest ranks within the Pentagon. No doubt she had the required political skills needed to run the office of Homeworld Security. But the negotiator didn't have the experience the job required. Sam bit back a knowing smile. Before Elizabeth Weir left the SGC, she'd no doubt have a far greater understanding of just how things really worked within the bunker.
"Fine, if there needs to be the appearance of a search, send out a team…or two. It’s not necessary to send out every team assigned to the SGC to find one man," Weir argued.
"That ‘one man’ is the reason there’s an SGC to begin with!" Casey retorted hotly. "If you’d bothered to actually read the goddamned mission files and all of the information concerning the program, you’d know that!"
Weir went pale. "How…you…I…"
Casey tapped her temple. "Saw it, cupcake." The tidbit of information had been like a neon light flashing above the visitor's head when the team had walked down the ramp. It hadn't taken but a glance 'around ' the woman to realize that she was feeling out of her element...and that she was still skeptical in spite of what she was seeing. The slender seer turned to her team leader. "Can we go now?"
"Absolutely," Jack replied. "General, with your permission?"
"Granted," Hammond replied easily.
Weir watched as the team, followed by Ferretti and his men, walked up the ramp. She tried not to flinch visibly when each person shot a venomous look in her direction as they passed her.
Ferretti paused, looked over his shoulder at the woman standing next to Hammond. "Not only did Doc get this place running, he’s saved the freaking planet a couple of times. He’s the reason Radar is here. And she’s saved all of our asses more times than I can count. No way in hell will we not look for him, no matter what Radar has seen!"
"Straight up," Willy Lopez snarled. "We never leave a man behind. Never."
"No matter who it is," Lieutenant Driscoll added. "But especially not Doc."
Even though part of him felt guilty for not calling the men on their behavior, his own feelings…personal as they might have been…saw General Hammond standing silently during each exchange. When the event horizon hissed closed, and the ‘gate room security team began to file out - also sending messages of ire with each glance - he turned his attention to the woman beside him. Her eyes were wide; it was obvious she’d never been treated with such open hostility. No doubt she was accustomed to being treated as a distinguished VIP. "The bonds between teammates, and between teams, run deeply here at the SGC."
"I’ve heard that battle can create…special…bonds," she murmured.
"The bonds between these people have been forged in the hottest hell fires, in ways you can't even imagine. These people have seen more, endured more, escaped more, survived more than any group on this planet."
Weir blushed. Other than dealing with generals in negotiations, she’d not had much experience interacting with the military. That lack of insight was glaringly obvious at the moment. She wondered now if she had what it took to do the job as head of Homeworld Security. Political or not, it really was an extension of the Stargate Command Program. Which was, in spite of the large number of civilians involved, a military operation.
"President Hayes believes you’re the right person for the job," Hammond said quietly, not realizing that his comment was a response to Weir’s private thoughts. "I have faith in the president."
"But not in me," Weir surmised. She was at a loss to understand just why that thought made her so uncomfortable.
"I think that you’ll do fine, once you understand what the SGC is about, and how it operates," he replied cautiously.
"Yesterday after we'd toured the facility, you offered to give me a list of the most important mission reports." She'd refused that offer...albeit politely...stating that she had copies of every mission report waiting in her office in the Pentagon. Even at that moment, she thought abashedly, she'd had no intention of reading any of those reports. Something that not only embarrassed her to admit to herself, but was also something completely out of character for her. What was it about this program, about those folders, that had her so defensive? Besides the fact that everything I've ever known or believed has been turned over on its ear? She wondered briefly if everyone who learned about the SGC and the Stargate Program had felt the same overwhelming awe...and fear. "I…I’d like to see those reports. Would it be possible for me to read them in my quarters? I'm certain to be - out of the way - if I stay there. And," she took a deep breath, "if I have questions, you’re nearby to answer them."
"I’ll see to it that the reports are delivered to you immediately." He paused, and studied his guest for a moment. Contemplated the implications of what he was about to do, and decided that if it sped the way to understanding for the woman in charge of Homeworld Security, it was most certainly worth doing. "I’ll assign an Airman to escort you to your quarters," Hammond said, not quite smiling.
"That’s not necessary, I'm certain I can find my way," Weir replied immediately. Jumped slightly when the inner circle of the Stargate began to spin, klaxons beginning to scream their warning overhead.
Once again the security team rushed in, taking up their positions. She wasn’t aware of the fact that the duty shift had just changed, and the men running into the room weren’t the same as those who had been there before. The expressions on their faces indicated that they had heard her comments, and the responses of the members of SG-1.
Another team hurried into the room, making last minute adjustments to the packs they carried, checking weapons one last time.
One of the men, Weir thought he was one of the archaeologists she’d met earlier, met her gaze. She stepped back involuntarily from the anger that blazed in his eyes.
The general had witnessed the silent exchange. "It’s said that the SGC has the fastest rumor mill in the west. Within the next half hour, everyone in the mountain will know exactly what you said regarding Doctor Jackson."
Doctor Weir blushed brightly once again. The momentary thought that her cheeks felt sunburned flittered through her mind as she watched the men of the team shift on their feet as they waited...with the same obvious impatience the other teams had exhibited...for the Stargate to open.
"I doubt seriously that you’ll find the personnel here overly friendly."
"Are you insinuating that I’m in danger?" Weir asked, determined to retain her cool, professional persona, in spite of the fact that she was completely over her head. She could pick up the phone, and report to the president...and tell him that she was being mistreated. Except...she wasn't. She could tell him she was in possible danger, but he'd want details. Intuition told her that the president would probably be less understanding regarding her comments than General Hammond; President Hayes had already sung the praises of SG-1 in particular, and his utter faith in whatever Casey Jackson said. Besides, she sighed silently, it would be too much like running to the teacher to tattle because the kids on the playground didn't like her.
"Not physically, no. But I have no doubt that there are those who will be just as eager as Colonel Carter and General O’Neill and Major Ferretti in sharing their opinion of your comments. By assigning an…escort…you’ll likely be spared any confrontations."
"I’m guessing that the escort would be your way of telling those under your command that I’m…what… 'off limits'?"
"In a manner of speaking," Hammond confirmed. "Make no mistake, Doctor Weir, by now the ire of those who work with Doctor and Mrs. Jackson has been ignited. You’ll never find another military installation like the SGC. You’ll never find a group of people closer than those who work in this bunker. If you insult any single individual working here, everyone takes that insult personally."
With a slight shiver, Weir nodded. "Perhaps your offer is a good idea," she admitted.
Hammond took a deep breath, blew it out slowly. "Doctor Weir, what Major Ferretti and his men told you is the simple truth. The SGC wouldn’t even exist if not for Doctor Jackson. It was his intelligence that unlocked the secrets of how to use the Stargate. He’s risked his life countless times for his teammates, the members of other teams…for this planet. His wife has saved the life of every SG team member in this mountain numerous times with her insights...using the amazing gift she has. She’s helped to save the planet a time or two herself."
"I understand, the Jacksons are quite popular-"
"You’re not listening, Doctor," Hammond interrupted, his irritation obvious to Weir, and the Marines who stood nearby. "Those two people are the reason this facility exists, and is still operational. Those two people are the reason that Ba’al didn’t take control of the planet last fall. Those two people aren’t just ‘popular’. They’re admired and respected."
"I’m sure that Doctor Jackson has made numerous contributions, and I’ll agree that Mrs. Jackson has been helpful in obtaining beneficial treaties. I doubt, however, that they’re single-handedly responsible for the SGC."
"Have you read any of the mission reports from the last year?" Hammond demanded.
"I skimmed them," Weir admitted.
"I suggest you sit down and read them, Doctor Weir. Now." Hammond took the woman by the arm and led her into his office. Picked up the phone, and called Walter, requesting twenty-two specific mission folders. They were the missions that stood out the most in his memory, he was certain there were others. But it was a start.
A A A A A A
He'd eaten, and was now pacing the small room. Waiting for the inevitable meeting with whichever System Lord was involved. According to Casey, his first abductor was a woman. He was mentally going through the list of female Goa'uld that he was aware of...
There was Amaterasu. Japanese goddess of the sun. She'd been allied with Anubis...it was on one of the moons in her 'territory' that he'd built his macabre laboratory, where he had created thousands of Kull warriors. She'd most certainly be interested in an Ancient weapon. No doubt her 'brothers and sisters' were less than amused by her collusion with Anubis. A new, powerful weapon would stop any moves against her in retaliation.
Bastet hadn't been heard from since her ha'tak had been destroyed in the battle with Ba'al, when Lord Yu had led an attack. Daniel still hadn't figured out what had happened to bring Yu into the action. He'd not seemed at all interested in stopping Ba'al from starting a war with the Asgard. He shrugged mentally...he didn't have the time to worry about what did or didn't motivate any particular Goa'uld. So, Bastet probably wasn't sitting in the throne room of this ship.
What about Kali? Hindu goddess of death and destruction. One of the four wives of Shiva, according to Indian myths. So far, all that was known about the Goa'uld System Lord Kali was that she and Bastet had made a treaty with the System Lord known as Sobek, only to move against him when he'd let his guard down during a celebratory feast. He'd always assumed that Sobek had been killed by the two female Goa'uld. Kali was definitely among the 'minor' System Lords. Finding a weapon created by the Ancients would certainly move her from the back of the class to the front.
It could possibly be Morrigan, the Celtic goddess of battle. And strife. And fertility. Daniel couldn't help but grin as he thought about what Jack would say about that combination. As a Goa'uld System Lord, little was known about her. Even the Tok'ra were hard pressed to learn much about her. Part of the reason was simply because her territory...or at least what she claimed as her own, was on the farthest reaches of the galaxy. The only Goa'uld whose territory reached farther was Lord Yu's. Like the others, having an Ancient weapon at her disposal would elevate her in the hierarchy. Daniel frowned. There had been one or two images of Morrigan that the Tok'ra had shared Her hair had been red, not black. Casey had seen a woman with black hair. Granted, the snake could have a new host... He heaved a sigh. It was probably better not to count Morrigan out just yet.
Would a minor Goa'uld have been able to capture him? Once again a frown knitted his brow as he paced. It's possible, but not with Jaffa, he thought. At least, not without the System Lord to whom the Jaffa were sworn knowing about the whole thing. The frown deepened. He went over what Casey had 'seen'. No...it wasn't a minor Goa'uld. If it had been, she'd have 'seen' that. Whoever had him was definitely a System Lord.
He wondered briefly if he was about to encounter a Goa'uld totally unknown to them. That would bring an entirely new set of problems into the equation. Dealing with an unknown could be risky. Granted, the Goa'uld seemed to follow a similar pattern of behavior. But there were certainly enough personality quirks to make each dangerous in his...or her...own way. Even if the information was sketchy, he had some idea about the System Lords who were known in the galaxy.
No matter who it was, allowing her to find and keep even one of the Ancient bracelets was totally unacceptable. Any Goa'uld who discovered an Ancient weapon would be a threat to the other Goa'uld as well as to the humans in the galaxy. If the other Goa'uld felt threatened, they'd band together against that threat. If that happened, and they were successful, without a doubt the alliance would survive to turn against the Tau'ri, and the Tok'ra, and the Free Jaffa. Nope, I have to get those bracelets, no matter what!
It would certainly be advantageous to know in advance who had him. If he were lucky, he'd be able to figure it out before any conversation began. Being able to call this snake by name would throw her off...at least a little bit.
There wasn't time for further speculation. The sound of the lock disengaging filled the air. Two Jaffa stepped into the room.
One of the warriors inclined his head slightly. "You will accompany us, Daniel Jackson."
Well, this is new! Usually when he was a prisoner, he was held in a cell, and wasn't treated with even the slightest modicum of respect. While there was no doubt that he had no choice but to obey the order, it hadn't been couched as a threat. He wasn't being manhandled by the guards. Daniel gave a sharp nod of understanding, and stepped forward.
There were two Jaffa waiting in the corridor. They walked ahead of him, leading him...probably to the throne room, he thought; those who had come into his room were behind him. Either this snake knew about SG-1 and their penchant for escape, and she was paranoid about him getting away before he did the work she needed him to do; or she was afraid of someone else rendering him unable to serve her. Casey said there's another snake involved. Either way, it was a good thing he wasn't of a mind to try to break free. It wouldn't have been possible...at least, not at that particular moment.
He was led to the elevator. They were moving up...the doors opened on level two. Yep, heading for the throne room. Daniel did his best to arrange the features of his face into a mask of boredom. It always annoyed Goa'uld if they weren't immediately perceived as gods, striking fear into the hearts of their captives. And it never failed to amuse him. If he had to be a captive, he was going to make the most of it!
"Don't bait the snakes, Danny," Jack's voice warned him.
He bit back a smile. Jack baited snakes as quickly as he did. And Casey...it was impossible to keep the corners of his mouth from turning up slightly. His Wife was apt to drive a snake crazy with her attitude. Not that any Goa'uld could actually be considered sane. Well, not by human standards anyway.
Realizing that his thoughts had wandered, Daniel jerked his attention back to the situation at hand. By the time the Jaffa led him into the elegantly appointed throne room, he had once again schooled his expression into one of neutrality. He looked around surreptitiously, but couldn't immediately see anything that gave him the identity of the snake sitting on the throne.
She watched as the man was brought forward. Noted that he refused to lower his eyes. Nor did he fall to his knees to beg for her mercy. Instead, he stood staring at her defiantly.
Well, whoever she was, she was wearing a turban of light lavender silk, which matched the lavender satin robe she was wearing. Given the style, he'd guess that she was dressed as most wealthy Indians had during her reign in the Indus region of Earth. Which meant..."Kali," he said out loud.
Startled, the Goa'uld stared at her prisoner. It seemed that this Tau'ri known as Daniel Jackson was most...astute. She waited for him to display the proper amount of respect due to a god, since he knew who she was.
He was determined not to let his eyes drop first. It was a small thing...but it always kept the snakes off-balance when prisoners didn't behave as expected.
"I am Lord Kali. Your master,"the woman said at last, her duel-voice echoing through the room.
"Sorry, toots, I don't have a master. I'm a free man,"Daniel responded immediately. The comment was a reflexive response to her declaration.
Kali bristled. "Silence! I have not given you permission to speak! And I most certainly am your master! Whatever was your life before, it is done. You live to serve me!"
He'd just arrived and already she was pissy. The day was starting to look up! "Ya know, I've heard that so many times it's getting old," Daniel replied easily. Wasn't surprised when he was slapped by the First Prime. The fact that he didn't fall was proof that he'd been prepared for the reaction as well. The surprise on the faces around him brought a smirk to his own.
Rising from her throne, Kali walked down the steps of the dais, and stood in front of the insolent human. She could sense...she bit back her gasp. Her spies had informed her that the woman of SG-1, known as Major Carter, had been a temporary host - to a Tok'ra traitor known as Jolinar. There had been no information on the fact that Daniel Jackson had carried one of her kind! Her eyes narrowed slightly. It seemed that not only had her informants been mistaken about which member of SG-1 had been taken, they were wrong about just who had taken the archaeologist as well. That her spies couldn't even keep simple facts straight was irritating at best. Left her totally unprepared and at potential risk at worst. Inept fools, she thought waspishly.
Daniel said nothing, nor did he cower or turn his head to watch as she circled around him slowly.
"You have carried a god within you."
"Yet this god is no longer present in you."
"How can this be?"
It was impossible not to grin. "You haven't heard? We've come up with a way to prevent Goa'uld from slithering into unwilling hosts. Rihat learned that the hard way. Four hours after he crawled into me, he was dead, and I have all of his memories." It's just a little white lie, he told himself. Just to keep the snakes from figuring out what's really going on.
"Yeah, heard that before too,"Daniel retorted. "Doesn't change the fact that it's true."
Reining in her fury, Kali stalked back to her throne, threw herself onto the seat. "You will serve me."
"Sure, whatever, toots."
"I am told you are skilled in reading ancient writings."
"I can translate an ancient language or two," Daniel admitted.
"You will translate the walls of a temple."
Daniel shrugged nonchalantly. "Okay."
"You will remain in your chambers until I have need of you."
"You wouldn't have anything for me to read in the meantime, would you? Just so I won't get bored?"
Her eyes glowing with anger, Kali pointed toward the door. "Take him! Return him to his quarters."
"Touchy, touchy," Daniel mocked. Again not surprised when he was struck.
Kali watched as the man walked away. There had been no fear in his eyes. He had taunted her with his words about...what had he called the Goa'uld? This Tau'ri was far too insolent. She heaved a silent sigh. And if her priest was to be trusted...she'd not had reason to doubt his counsel before...Daniel Jackson might well be the only man who could tell her what she needed to know. When he had completed that task, however, she would break the impudent human!
Daniel was surprised when a priest entered his chambers not five minutes after he'd been returned.
"My Lord Kali has instructed me to bring this to you,"the priest said. He held out a scroll.
"What's in it?"Daniel asked curiously.
"A myth,"the priest replied. "If there is truth within the words, then Kali will soon be the greatest among the Goa'uld."
Where have I heard that before? Daniel sighed mentally. "And if there isn't?"
"Then no doubt your life will be that of a slave."
"Nothing like blaming the messenger for the message," Daniel mumbled.
"We will arrive soon. I suggest you learn the contents of that scroll well in what time you have,"the priest said. He turned to walk away. Paused, then looked over his shoulder. "For your sake, and my own, I hope you find that which Kali seeks."
Daniel shivered slightly. Even knowing that he would walk away from this experience didn't make the threat any less worrisome. "Here's hoping," he said quietly.
The priest frowned slightly, not completely certain of the reply. With a nod, he hurried out of the room. Performing extra prayers couldn't hurt. Perhaps the added worship would find him granted leniency if the Tau'ri failed at his task.
A A A A A A
Kali stormed through the corridor to her chambers, angrier than she'd been in a very long time. No doubt the servants were already gossiping about the impudent new arrival...she paused mentally. No, the fact that he had been given quarters on the same level as the Goa'uld who served her was testament to the fact that Daniel Jackson was not a servant. Regardless of his status on her ship, he had been openly rebellious. Not even other Goa'uld who served her dared to be as insolent.
Charging into her quarters, tossing aside the scepter she carried...a weapon as well as a lovely piece of metalwork...she shrugged the robe from her shoulders. "Kalidasa!"
A tall, slender man with red hair entered the room from the adjoining alcove. He wore only a white silk kilt, and the gold collar that signified his status as lo'taur. "My Lord?"
"Wine!" Kali ordered. She threw herself onto the luxurious sofa that filled an entire corner of the room. "Insolent heathen!" she muttered beneath her breath.
"What has upset you, My Lord?"the man called Kalidasa asked meekly. If his god was in the mood to talk, she would vent her anger. If not, he would be punished for daring to ask such a question. He poured wine from a tall bottle into a gold chalice.
"I-"She broke off, shook her head. "It is nothing that concerns you," she snapped.
"Yes, my Lord,"the man murmured. He offered the chalice to the woman who fumed silently. Bowed slightly when she took it from his hand, then knelt on the floor beside the couch.
Sipping the wine, Kali played back every moment that Daniel Jackson had been in the throne room. I should have had him beaten on the spot, for speaking to me so! Kali shook her head mentally. From all that she could learn about the Tau'ri in general, and Daniel Jackson in particular, beating him would have changed nothing. And would perhaps make him unable to do anything for several days. No, she needed him healthy, and able to translate the walls of the temple that held the secrets of the Ancients.
Which meant that he would no doubt become more annoying with every day that passed. As soon as he realized she didn't dare punish him, his behavior would become more audacious. She glanced at the man who waited submissively beside her. The secret to keeping servants obedient was to keep them afraid of her, she thought. If they were to see one among those who served her behaving with such boldness, would there be others who would follow his example? And what of the Jaffa? Would her hold over them slip if they perceived that she was afraid to discipline one who so richly deserved it?
"Damnation!"She hurled the chalice across the room.
"I did not bid you to speak!"Kali screeched.
"I was merely going to suggest a massage, my Lord,"Kalidasa said quietly. "To help you relax."
Kali glared at the lo'taur. Had he ever been so...bold...as to offer that which she hadn't demanded? Or had he already heard about Daniel Jackson, and what had transpired in the throne room? Furious at the Tau'ri and the predicament he'd caused, the Goa'uld struck out at the closest available target. She doubled up her fist and hit the man squarely across the jaw.
Kalidasa fell sideways, hitting his head on the brass and marble table beside the sofa. Blood spurted from the gash that resulted.
Rolling her eyes with her barely suppressed anger, certain that the slave had fallen on purpose in order to garner her pity, Kali activated one of the red stones on the metal armband that encircled her wrist. "Send a healer to my chambers at once!" she demanded. No doubt the order would cause more speculation among the servants.
For one moment, Kali felt her power...her control over those around her...slipping from her fingers. She'd never before felt such a fear. She couldn't help but wonder if those who declared that crossing the Tau'ri was unwise perhaps knew more than they were telling. Daniel Jackson had been on her ship less than two hours, and already he was threat to her.
A A A A A A
Kalidasa had been gravely injured. While his life was not in danger, it would be days...perhaps as long as a week, according to the healer...before he would be able to resume his duties as her lo'taur. She'd ordered the lo'taur carried to his own room, and the blood cleaned from the carpet. Finally alone, Kali paced her quarters, contemplating the recent turn of events.
Turning to a tall, ornate cabinet, the Goa'uld opened the doors and stared at the monitor for just a moment. Then reached out and adjusted one of the tiny data crystals that lined a control panel. In an instant, the interior of the room her new Tau'ri acquisition occupied filled the screen. He was sitting at the table, reading from the scroll that she'd had sent to him.
Studying the man for a moment, Kali took note of his light-colored hair. The line of his jaw. The width of his shoulders. Even now, she could still see the intense blue of his eyes as he'd stared at her in the throne room. The archaeologist was a very handsome man...
A smile curling her lips, she pounced upon the answers to her dilemmas. She needed a lo'taur. And Daniel Jackson needed to be seen as a servant. It was the perfect solution. She turned to the Jaffa who stood patiently beside the door. "Have Daniel Jackson brought to me at once."
"Yes, my Lord!" The Jaffa saluted, then hurried out to do his god's bidding.
She turned back to the monitor. The Tau'ri would serve her, and when she needed text translated, whether on temple walls, or in scrolls stolen from other Goa'uld, he would be able to do so. Yes, it was the perfect solution!
A A A A A A
SG-1...sans their archaeologist...walked into the tavern on P2X 555. The planet had first been investigated years prior by SG-5. At the time, the potential use of such a trading outpost had been unrecognized. The Tau'ri had conducted their reconnaissance covertly, remaining hidden in the woods near the Stargate. That their arrival had gone unnoticed had been nothing short of a miracle. During the search for Casey, the trading village had been deemed an inherent source of information regarding the Goa'uld. While the Tau'ri weren't welcomed with open arms, or even any sign of friendliness, none of the teams that occasionally visited there were ever turned away, or threatened in any manner.
The barkeeper rolled his eyes when he watched the four stroll into his establishment. Whenever people dressed as these four were arrived, trouble always seemed to follow. Only the fact that they seemed to have endless credit to spend kept him from forbidding them entrance. "I told the others I don't know nothin'," he said loudly. He pointed with his chin toward the group of men at three tables, his hands never stopping as they wiped the collection of glasses in front of him. "They don't know nothin', either."
Teal'c translated for the team, as the language was one favored among traders, but not yet well known by the SG teams.
"Ya don't say," Jack replied easily. He ambled toward the bar. Rested his P90 on the top of it. "Not even any juicy gossip to share?"
Posing the question to the bartender, Teal'c stepped closer to O'Neill, making it obvious that anyone with the foolish idea of attempting to jump the man from behind would be making a dangerous mistake.
"Don't know nothin'," the tender muttered again, before turning his back on the group.
"He's lying," Casey said softly, as soon as Teal'c had repeated what the man had said.
Four pairs of eyes bored into the man.
"You are not being truthful," Teal'c said.
The pudgy man looked from the slender blonde, to the Jaffa, and back again. Whatever she had said, he could see the accusations in their eyes. "That's an insult."
"It is a fact," Teal'c replied.
Casey stepped forward. "Teal'c, tell this slimy bastard I'll dance through his head and leave him a gibbering idiot if he doesn't tell me what I want to know," she said, her gaze locked with that of the man behind the counter, her voice low and cold.
"Casey, what are you doing?" Jack asked slowly, as if she were a child caught misbehaving.
"Getting information," she shrugged.
Just like Danny, impulsive as hell, Jack thought, with equal measures of irritation and amusement. Daniel had been...aggressive - no, he'd been downright disagreeable and mean...when they'd been looking for Casey. Could he expect any different now that the roles were reversed? At least this time around, they knew where their missing teammate was...or at least what was going on. And they knew that Danny would come waltzing home with the Ancient jewelry he was so eager to get his hands on, and one hell of a story to tell. In the meantime, Radar would storm around the galaxy, making threats about screwing with people's heads...wait a minute, that was one hell of a threat... "You shouldn't make threats you can't follow through with," he told her. He frowned slightly. "You can't do that...what you said...can you?"
Another shrug. "I don't know, but I'm willing to give it a try," she responded irritably.
He had to duck his head to keep the locals from seeing his grin. Casey Jackson, when pissed off, was probably the most dangerous entity in the galaxy. Not even a pissed off Daniel Jackson was as annoying...or scary. He cleared his throat, then looked up at Teal'c. "Tell him," he said quietly.
The conversation between the two men and the blonde had left the bartender more than a little uneasy. His face went white when Teal'c delivered the message from Casey. "I...I have only heard that one of the System Lords was interested in capturing...er.. ...finding...the Tau'ri known as Daniel Jackson," the man stammered.
Jack nodded when Teal'c finished the translation. "Okay, expected that. He doesn't have any idea who this particular snake is?"
The Jaffa posed the question to the bartender. Who shook his head from side to side, staring fearfully at Casey.
"He does not know."
"Well, we'll pass the word to the general that anything useful has been found here," he said.
"I doubt any of the other trading posts will have anything new," Sam mused.
"Probably not," Jack agreed. "But the snakes will know that we're out here in force looking for Danny."
Casey sighed. "I hate this. I hate not knowing if he's okay...or if he's being hurt."
Jack looped his arm around slender shoulders. "I know, Radar. But if I know Danny, he's already got that snake wishing she didn't have him. For all we know, she'll decide nothing is worth putting up with his attitude, she'll toss him out, and he'll be back at the SGC before we get there!"
She gave a water smile. "As long as he doesn't piss her off so much she kills him."
"Daniel is a smart man," Jack said gently. "He knows how to play the game with the snakes...how far he can push them."
"If he gets himself killed, I'm gonna kick his ass," Casey grumbled.
"Won't stop ya," Jack promised. "Let's go, campers."
The men in the tavern watched the group leave. Whoever the Goa'uld had captured, he was important to the Tau'ri. So important that it seemed every available man and woman from their planet was searching for him. Speculation began on how much reward would be offered if the man named Daniel Jackson was located and returned to his people.
A A A A A A
Daniel found himself being hustled through the corridor, toward what could only be Kali's private rooms. Not something he'd anticipated. It would be in his best interest to listen carefully and pick up any cues from the Goa'uld that would help him determine how far he could safely push her...and avoid being overly obnoxious, he decided.
Kali turned to watch the man enter the room. Her dark hair fell in waves down her back, and looked like black satin as the ends swung near her hips with her sudden movement. She waved a hand at the Jaffa in dismissal. There was no fear that this Tau'ri would try to harm her. She was on her ship. Surrounded by her Jaffa. There would be no escape for him if he were so brash. Only a fool would attempt to kill her...and she did not believe Daniel Jackson to be a fool.
Once again he refused to look away before she did. They stared at one another, silence stretching out uncomfortably between them.
"I find that I am in need of a lo'taur,"Kali said finally. This human was far too stubborn. His strength of will would not break easily. But it would break. Rather than look away from him, she chose to move, forcing him to turn to watch her.
His silence had forced her to speak. A small victory perhaps, but a victory nonetheless. "And you're telling me this...why?"
"Because I have decided that you shall serve me in this manner."
Lo'taur? Oh, hell! "Uh...no thanks. Not interested."
"It is not an offer, Daniel Jackson. You will serve as my lo'taur."
"Don't you usually try to find someone...loyal...to keep at your side?"
It infuriated her that he spoke to her as if he were an equal...as if he weren't a mere mortal human, meant for nothing more than serving the needs of his gods. The Goa'uld whirled toward the table behind her, busied herself pouring a glass of wine in order to bridle the anger that the archaeologist roused in her. She sipped slowly. "You will be loyal."
"What makes you think that?"
The smile she gave was vicious. Spying on those who served her had always netted her the information she needed to control them completely. "The drugs you carry. I will forbid their use if you do not obey me. Serve me well, and your...addiction...will be fed."
He felt his blood run cold. "Addiction?"
"I am aware that many Tau'ri seek...comfort...from substances refined from the plants they grow," Kali replied.
Not that the Tau'ri were the only humans to do so, Daniel thought. And the Goa'uld had addicted numerous societies to their own chemical combinations to keep those people 'loyal'...or at least subservient. However, being deprived of the Hathor-serum could lead to problems he didn't have time to deal with. Having it known that Casey was a 'natural carrier' of the Hathor-gene would put her in even more danger than she was already, as a wanted member of SG-1. He wondered briefly if claiming an illness - no, she'd probably just toss my ass into a sarcophagus. He didn't think the damned coffin would 'heal' his addiction to his Wife.
Kali heard his unspoken surrender in the silence. "I see that we understand one another."
"I guess so," he replied, his throat dry.
"As long as you obey me, and serve me well, there will be no need to take the device that so cleverly hides your serum,"Kali continued.
Yep, they'd certainly been watching him in that room. She'd probably been watching him! He gave a short nod of understanding.
"You will begin now."She dropped down onto the couch. Held her chalice up. "More wine."
Moving slowly...trying to figure out just how things had gone to hell so quickly, Daniel picked up the tall pitcher, sniffed the contents. Tipped it just as Kali moved the cup...on purpose, he was certain. Probably so she'd have a reason to punish him.
"You clumsy oaf!"she snarled, her eyes flashing gold. She took the chalice in her other hand, shook the droplets of wine from her fingers.
"Sorry. Archaeologist, not a waiter,"he quipped. The response was as automatic as breathing. He froze, waiting for the inevitable slap. Damned snakes...always looking for an opportunity to be cruel...creating situations in which they could release their brutality. I so hate Goa'uld! Come on, bitch, hit me and get it over with!
She watched the blue of his eyes harden...for a moment, she saw her death in the cerulean depths. A warning of one of her priests had issued filled her mind...
"Be careful, my Lord. Goa'uld who dare to cross paths with the Tau'ri of the First World seldom live long enough to boast about it."
If she struck out, what would he do? They were alone...her eyes dropped to his hands. Strong hands. Long fingers. No doubt he could easily snap her neck...a danger for symbiote as well as host, in that the creature could be mortally wounded if enough pressure was exerted. Even if her Jaffa avenged her death, what would that benefit her? Would her lo'taur pretend that she was well...perhaps put her into her bed, tell the Jaffa that she was asleep and not to be disturbed? There was a narrow window of time between death and the ability of the sarcophagus to reanimate the body within it. Could he kill her, and prevent her Jaffa from learning about it until it was too late? It wasn't the first time in her life Kali had been forced to try to placate an adversary. It was, however, the first time that adversary had been a captive...a servant. She shivered imperceptibly. She wondered briefly if Ra had felt the same fear as flittered through her, when mere slaves rose up in revolt against him. Kali forced a smile to her lips. "You are attempting to be entertaining, are you not?"
Daniel watched as the Goa'uld's amber eyes filled first with fear, and then with mirth...although it seemed that her sudden good mood was more act than actual. What the hell is that about? "Yeah, sure," he mumbled, not certain what to make of the sudden, and unexpected, change of attitude.
"Good. You understand your position well. Without me, you will die. Anger me, you will die. Serve me well, you will be treated well. If you continue to...amuse...me, your life will be quite...pleasant."Kali watched as her new lo'taur continued to study her. The hatred continued to lurk in his eyes, but there was curiosity in those blue depths as well. She decided to drive home her control over him. "You are my lo'taur, Daniel Jackson. And as such you will perform every task required of you to the best of your ability. Or you will die."
Another Goa'uld face flashed in his memory. Images of what he'd been forced to do, had endured...Lo'taur. Oh, hell.
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