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The Recalcitrant Lo'taur
Doctor Weir was sitting in General Hammond's office, discussing the mission reports she'd read. He was doing his best to answer the list of questions she'd written out on a legal pad.
"I suppose you know that I've been opposed to the military for the entirety of my career," Weir said.
"The Secret Service file on you was quite extensive," Hammond allowed.
"Wha-there's a....there's a Secret Service file...on me?" Weir stuttered.
"I rather imagine the CIA and FBI have files on you as well," the general replied, allowing a small smile to escape in the face of her outrage. "Doctor Weir, no one is allowed to know about the SGC, let alone visit the facility, without a complete and thorough background check."
Settling back into the chair, Weir nodded slightly. "Of course. I understand. If the wrong person were to find out-" She broke off. "I'm not sure the public could handle knowing about this," she said, as surprised to utter the words as it seemed the general was to hear them.
"Which is why we do everything we can to keep this program Top Secret. We're not ashamed of what we're doing here. We're not warmongers trying to take over the world-"
She blushed brightly. Both were things she had vehemently accused the military of being. She'd voiced her opinion often, and loudly, during her college years. Before she'd realized that the way to get rid of the military was to remove any need for a military. Now, she wasn't so certain that would ever be accomplished. Tossing aliens into the mix made the equation even more difficult.
"-but we are determined to protect this planet and its occupants from threats that the public simply couldn't comprehend. And, unfortunately, there would be those among Earth's citizens who would be willing to make deals with the devil in an attempt to garner a better position in hell," Hammond finished.
"I fully understand, General," Weir said sincerely. "What you're doing here is trying to preserve life on Earth as we know it. As imperfect a world as it is, it's all we have. We deserve the chance to make our world better, not become slaves."
"Very true," Hammond nodded. "Doctor Jackson believes that if the information about the program, and the existence of aliens, good and bad, were slipped to the public just a bit at a time, that when the final pieces were offered, there would be less chance of all-out chaos. Dealing with religious leaders and zealots would be the most difficult task."
"I'm certain it would be. I have to agree with Mrs. Jackson's observation in her report to the president, that telling John Q. Public that not only is God dead but that he never existed in the first place, and that he's been worshipping an alien parasite bent on total domination, would be akin to setting a match to a vat full of gasoline."
Hammond smiled. "At the very least. I agree with Doctor Jackson's suggestions, that tidbits of information be released to the right people, in a very anonymous way, and letting them do with that info what they will."
"Among all the speculation and theories, there would be nuggets of truth," Weir nodded. "The best way to do that would be to offer those nuggets from a source that most people would accept. The History Channel, for example. Just the other night I watched a show dealing with the question of whether or not the ancient gods were aliens-" She broke off, her blue eyes going wide. "Was that deliberate?"
"Not on our part," Hammond chuckled. "Doctor Jackson believes that others have found the evidence that he did, and are talking about it."
"It took a lot of courage for him to put out the theory that he did," Weir mused.
"He calls it unmitigated ego," the general laughed. "He honestly expected his fellow academians to accept what he'd found, and his theories based on those findings."
"He was absolutely correct," Weir said.
"Yes, he was," Hammond sighed. "Lucky for us Catherine Langford refused to give up her father's dream of learning what the Stargate really was, and what it was really capable of. And that she recognized Doctor Jackson's intellect. Had she not persisted, had Daniel Jackson not deciphered the cover stone, no doubt we'd all be Goa'uld slaves now."
"If it's all right with you, I'd like to remain here for a few more days. There are other mission reports I'd like to read, and, to be honest, I'd like more time to observe how the SGC operates," Weir said.
"I have no objections, Doctor. Which mission reports would you like to see first?"
Once again she referred to her notes. She glanced up at the general. "I promise you, what I don't read while I'm here, I'll finish as soon as I get back to DC."
"I have no doubt," Hammond said quietly.
Weir studied the general for a moment, then voiced her growing concerns. "Do we really have a chance at defeating the Goa'uld, or are we just holding off the inevitable?"
"If I didn't believe we had a chance, I wouldn't be sitting here," Hammond answered honestly. "It will take time. We have to fight smarter because right now they're stronger than we are. But eventually, we'll win."
"I'm almost afraid of what else we might find out there," Weir shivered.
"The people who walk through that 'gate every day are eager to learn the mysteries of the universe," Hammond said gently. "They look for the roses, even though they know there will be thorns as well."
"Lovely analogy," Weir murmured. "I'm just afraid of the beauty of the roses being marred by thorns too dangerous for us to be able to deal with."
"I'm sure that's been a fear with every expansion into the unknown that man has ever made."
She smiled. "Probably."
"I'll see to those reports."
"Thank you, General Hammond."
"You're welcome, Doctor Weir." He watched as the younger woman gathered her notes, gave him a smile, then hurried out the door. His first impression of the head of Homeworld Security hadn't been favorable. Her change of heart wasn't surprising, in spite what she'd believed for so long; simply because those beliefs hadn't been able to stand against the reality of the universe around them. She'd been honest about her feelings, and just as honest about her struggle to accept all that she was learning. That honesty was refreshing, coming from someone mired in the politics of Washington, DC. As far as he was concerned, that boded well for the SGC.
A A A A A A
Daniel had spent a sleepless night. He never slept well without his Wife beside him, her soft body curled around his. Being alone on a Goa'uld ha'tak had left him wary of his safety...regardless of his new position as 'most favored'.
He'd put it off as long as possible, but when he'd felt the tremors in his hands, he'd injected himself with a dose of the Hathor-gene serum. If Kali was monitoring him, and he had no reason to believe she wasn't, then she'd see that he only needed his 'drug' every other day. He was probably pushing himself; after all, he was accustomed to receiving a dose of the real thing at least once a day. But he had only one small bottle, and it had to last until he was able to return to the SGC. Two weeks, Casey had guessed. Any longer than that, and he'd be in trouble.
"Good morning, Dan'yel,"Nirav said, slipping into the room, carrying a platter of fruit and pastries. "Kali will send for you soon, you must eat."
"Have you eaten?"Daniel asked.
The young slave shook his head.
"Sit down, join me,"Daniel said, pointing to the chair across the table from him.
Nirav studied the new lo'taur for moment, then with a wide smile, dropped onto the chair.
"Help yourself,"Daniel said, reaching for the fruit he recognized as being like an apple. For a moment he wondered if there would be anything left for him, as the young slave began to eat, nearly shoving the food into his mouth. A rather unpleasant thought toyed at the edges of his mind. "Nirav, how often are the slaves on this ship fed?"
"Once a day,"Nirav replied after swallowing the mouthful of bread he'd eaten. "But if we are busy tending to extra tasks..." he shrugged.
"When was the last time you ate?"
"A day or so ago, I guess."
He used every swear word in every language he knew. "I hate the Goa'uld," Daniel hissed. He shook his head when Nirav sat back, a look of fear in his eyes. "I'm so sorry, Nirav. I wish I could do something..." Daniel paused. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained, or so they say. Eat as much as you like. I'll talk to you later."
Without waiting for a summons, Daniel strode toward Kali's chambers. He had an offer...a bargain of sorts. If Kali needed his skills, he'd barter them to help the slaves on this ship at least. It was a small thing. But for the moment, it was the best he could do.
He didn't bother announcing himself. He simply walked into the Goa'uld's bedchambers. Kali was still asleep. Locating the control for the lights, he increased the intensity until the room was brightly lit.
"How dare you!"Kali hissed, squinting at him.
"Hey, you wanted me to be lo'taur. I'm just doing my lo'taur thing,"Daniel said, barely keeping himself from sneering at the Goa'uld. "Time to rise and shine."
"You will be punished for this!"
"I thought you kept the host in perfect health,"Daniel retorted, noting the pallor of her skin.
The fact was, she'd been ill as a result of the feedback from using the ribbon device on him. She stared daggers at him, raised a hand to rub her temple...an attempt to ease the unaccustomed throbbing.
"Hung over, huh? Tough. You and I are going to come to a little agreement."
Kali sat up, the silk sheet falling to her waist, revealing her naked breasts. She watched her lo'taur's face, searching for any hint of interest. She had every intention of bedding this man...and soon!
Daniel maintained eye contact with Kali. He'd been among people for whom nudity was natural...in jungles too hot for clothing. He'd run around as naked as the natives, doing the archaeological work responsible for his presence in those jungles. He'd learned how to keep from ogling bare breasts and asses and exposed twats. He'd use every bit of that experience with Kali, he was certain.
"Just what makes you believe that you have the power to reach an agreement with me?"Kali asked sullenly. His eyes never left her face, not even for a clandestine peek at her body.
"I can translate Ancient dialects. You need that."
"And what it is that you want in return?"
"Feed the slaves,"he replied bluntly. "Once a day doesn't cut it, Kali. Especially if those slaves are busy carrying out their assigned tasks during that single mealtime. It's cruel, and it's not necessary. If you expect those people to believe you're a god, if you want them to worship you, the why don't you treat them like the benevolent god you claim to be? Show them mercy...and kindness. If you're capable, that is."
Kali stared at the determined expression on Daniel's face. The request so surprised her that his insolence and insults went unnoticed. "They are slaves...easily replaced! Why should I concern myself for their well-being?"
His hands curled into fists, he muttered curses in ancient Egyptian. "They're people. Sentient beings. That alone earns them the right to be treated decently! It's no wonder that everywhere we go, every village we visit, the people are desperate to break free from the yoke of slavery to the Goa'uld! If you were just half as 'benevolent' as you all claim to be, there would be those willing to stand up for their 'gods'. But you're not. Every damned one of you are cruel, egotistical, self-absorbed, spoiled, good-for-nothing parasites!"
"I should cut your tongue out for speaking to me in such a manner!" Kali hissed. She tossed the sheet back and climbed to her feet. She stomped across the room to stand in front of him. "You should be very careful, Daniel, lest I find more offense than amusement in your displays of arrogance."
"You should be careful as well, Kali," Daniel said, his voice low. "I'd like nothing more than to kill you where you stand. As cruel a taskmaster as you are, I doubt anyone on this ship would object!"
Eyes wide, Kali took a step back. "You would be a fool to even attempt to harm me!"
"Maybe," Daniel shrugged nonchalantly. "Maybe not."
"Draw water for my bath," Kali snapped through gritted teeth.
"Not until you promise to feed the slaves. Three times a day. And more than just bread and water. They need fruit, vegetables, and protein as well."
The Goa'uld began to mutter beneath her breath. "Irritating human! Taking you as host would be most satisfying!"
Daniel grinned at the words he was barely able to hear. "Hey, I told you before, you can crawl into my body any time you like, because the information you'd leave for me would be invaluable to the SGC."
With a shriek of absolute rage, Kali lifted her hand. In a flash the memory of suffering the last time she'd attempted to use the ribbon device on the human danced across her brain. She dropped her hand, her entire body slumping in defeat. "Very well. I will see to it that the orders are given."
"Thank you," Daniel said, his gratitude sincere.
The sincerity threw Kali. She didn't know what to expect next from the infuriating human.
"I'll draw your bath now."With a slight bow of his head, Daniel disappeared into the adjoining bathroom.
Kali was left watching, slack-jawed.
Once out of the Goa'uld's sight, Daniel closed his eyes, ran his hands over his face. The only reason Kali hadn't killed him was that she needed him. Once he'd translated...whatever it was she needed translating...she'd hold all the cards once again.
He turned on the taps. Had no clue if she'd want any particular oil added to the water. If she does, she can add it herself. Searching through the cupboards, he found a stack of thick, fluffy towels. He pulled out four, not certain how many she'd require. Casey always used two...one for her body, and one to wrap around her hair. I suppose I'll be expected to wash the bitch, he thought peevishly. He shuddered as the unpleasant memories as Yu's lo'taur skittered across his brain before he firmly shoved them aside.
Kali walked into the room, ignored his presence, and stepped into the rising water. "The blue flask," she said. "Pour a bit of the oil into the water."
Daniel obeyed. Returned to stand beside the door.
Her anger cooling, her desire for her lo'taur rising, Kali smiled at him, held out her hand. "Join me."
"That wasn't a request," she said, her dual voice holding a warning tone.
"I never thought it was."
Amber eyes went wide. "Yet you refuse?"
"I'm a very happily married man. Crazy in love with my Wife. There isn't a woman in this universe as beautiful...as wonderful...as my Wife," Daniel said quietly. "I belong to her, and her alone."
The response was totally unexpected. The love that flared in his eyes as he spoke was impossible to ignore as well.
"As long as you need what I can do for you, I'm not in danger of being killed. As long as I'm not in danger of being killed, I'm not about to let you touch me."
"And when the circumstances have changed...and the threat of death at my hand is very real, what will you do then?"Kali asked softly.
There was no hesitation in his response. His voice held the surety of his convictions...he was certain he would successfully escape from her. The reputation of SG-1 was well known. It seemed that there had yet to be a Goa'uld able to hold the Tau'ri for more than a few hours at a time. A few days at the most. Even if only one or two members of the infamous 'team' were captured, they always managed to escape. Whispers of the Tau'ri being witches, or charmed, or capable of magical feats, had reached her ears. She'd never believed them, certain that it was the ineptitude of those who took the Tau'ri prisoner. Now...she shivered slightly. The confidence with which the single word had been uttered alarmed her.
"Shall I see to your breakfast while you finish bathing?"Daniel asked casually.
He seemed not even to notice her body, not one flicker of interest had filled those captivating blue eyes. His words concerning his wife, the love that had filled them and his eyes...Kali sighed with frustration. Keeping him here while she bathed would not see him joining her, or taking her to her bed. "Yes. Let my personal guard know I wish to speak to Ashoka."
"Who's Ashoka?" Daniel asked brazenly.
"My High Priest. He will see to it that the orders regarding the slaves are followed."
Daniel gave a slight bow. "As you wish."
Kali sighed again. It was obvious that Daniel was capable of being a very good lo'taur. When it suited him to do so. But his arrogance, his stubbornness, that cursed Tau'ri pride...no, he would have to be broken to serve as he should. But would breaking him destroy the part of him that so attracted her?
He couldn't hide his smile of triumph as he strode through the main room of the Goa'uld's quarters. With luck, Kali wouldn't bother to rescind the order she was about to give. If he couldn't free the slaves, then at least he could make life a bit better for them. And slaves who were better fed were more capable of escape. As long as neither Kali or her High Priest remembered that fact, then all was good.
A A A A A A
Tieel Mogba moved carefully through the city. He kept the hood of his cape over his head. He didn't want the few slave traders he'd passed to recognize him. Word had already reached him that the Tau'ri of the First World were searching for him. No doubt the seer married to the one known as Daniel Jackson had seen his contribution to that man's capture. If he were discovered, most assuredly he'd be handed over for whatever reward the Tau'ri might be offering.
Four major trading outposts had seen dozens of the Tau'ri swarming the area, asking questions, demanding to know where Daniel Jackson was being held, and by whom. If he could discover the answer to the question 'where', Mogba thought, he could go there and free Jackson. Then, when he returned the archaeologist to the First World, he would fulfill the debt he owed. There was one place he could go to learn what he needed to know, and not fear the intentions of those around him.
The temple was small, and on the outskirts of the city. That it was there at all was testimony to the fact that Olokun had indeed lost all control over the inhabitants. There were several temples that honored other Goa'uld, each of those System Lords determined to conquer the defiant denizens. He'd heard rumors...that groups of rebels worked silently, in the shadows. Armed by the growing number of Free Jaffa, and the Tau'ri of the First World, the rebels had every intention of tossing all Goa'uld from the very planet, and declaring themselves completely independent and free. For the moment, however, the Goa'uld presence was still felt through the temples and loyal priests who served in them. Lucky for him it was so, Mogba thought, as he strode toward his destination with the air of one carrying out an important task.
He stepped inside the shadowed interior of the building. Barely noticed the murals and bas relief that covered the walls. Ignored the multi-armed statues - the woman depicted bare-breasted, wearing a necklace of skulls, and a belt made of dismembered arms, her tongue sticking out grotesquely.
Pushing back the hood, he sat down on a nearby bench to wait. There was no doubt that his presence had already been observed.
"Did you not receive payment?"
Mogba looked up into the face of the priest. Noted, with not a little delight, that the man looked frightened. "I did."
"Then why are you here?"
Mogba stood up. He was considerably taller than the half-naked, bald man. "I seek information."
"I doubt that there is anything I can tell you."
"Oh, but there is," the bounty hunter replied, his voice cold and menacing. "You can tell me exactly where Lord Kali is taking Daniel Jackson."
The priest took half a step backwards. "I do not know," he replied quickly, licking his lips nervously.
"You are lying. I do not like being lied to,"Mogba said. He took a full step closer to the now trembling man. Pulled a large dagger from the sheath at his waist. "Now, I will ask once again. Where is Lord Kali taking Daniel Jackson?"
Eyeing the knife fearfully, knowing full well that Mogba would use the frightening weapon without hesitation, the priest stammered the location of the planet on which a temple built by the Ancients waited to reveal its secrets to those who could decipher the clues.
Pulling the hood back over his face, Mogba paused before walking out into the sunshine. "I believe our conversation is best left unmentioned."
"To reveal of what we have spoken would no doubt end my life," the priest replied dryly. "I have no wish to die."
"Good." The bounty hunter hurried down the steps. He knew where Daniel Jackson would be. Now, all he had to do was figure out how to free the man. Presumably the archaeologist would be heavily guarded. It would be a challenge, but not impossible.
A A A A A A
Half a dozen SG teams were scattered throughout the commissary, eating breakfast together when Casey walked through the door. Her gaze stopped on Ferretti. A flash of light...she closed her eyes. Sorted through the images. And burst into giggles.
Everyone had noticed her arrival, and the way she'd suddenly halted. Had Daniel been with her, he would have pulled her into his arms, and helped her with the 'download'.
"Mrs. J?" one of the SFs said hesitantly, rising to his feet. "You okay?"
"I'm fine," she assured the man with a smile. "Just a little intel for Ferretti."
The Marine major's ears perked up when he heard his name. "Mrs. J?"
Casey dropped onto an empty chair at the table being shared by SG-3. She was certain she'd never had such an...interesting...download before. Whoever sends the mystical messages must be in a good mood today. She focused her attention on the Marine waiting for her to speak. "Just so you know, I have no intention of shooting any Goa'uld in the 'nads...unless it's accidentally. Well, if it's Ba'al, then all bets are back on. And I'm not sure about a cat-fight...unless we find out which bitch-snake has Daniel and we can get there before he skips out on her. As for Doctor Weir, I think you're going to find that we've gained one hell of an ally in her. She's been reading mission reports...Jack told us that last night. According to Walter, she's asking for specific reports, because she's following the 'time-line' of certain events. My guess is by the time she gets back to DC she'll know more about the SGC than President Hayes, the Joint Chiefs, and the Oversight Committee."
"Aw, hell, Mrs. J! Now I gotta go and give everybody back their money!" Ferretti complained. Snickers from his teammates had him glaring at them, which only made them laugh harder.
She giggled again. "Sorry, Ferretti. You might want to start a betting pool on whether or not Daniel drags Tieel Mogba here, or Mogba brings him home. And whether or not Daniel will exact a 'pound of flesh' for deserting us like he did."
The Marine grinned. "Got it. You're sure about Weir?"
"I'm sure," Casey nodded.
Jack, who was standing beside the door, and able to hear what Casey had said, bit back a grin. He was certain that Radar's intel would be right. And he still had every intention of conducting that training exercise. In the middle of the night. Just to make sure the political negotiator had a true taste of life at the SGC.
The object of several conversations and a few private thoughts chose that moment to walk into the room. After her apology to Casey, General Hammond had deemed it unnecessary for her to have a 'personal bodyguard'. Doctor Weir paused at the door when all eyes turned her way, and the buzz of a dozen or so conversations faded to silence.
"Doctor Weir!" Casey called out in greeting. She rose to her feet.
At the moment, Mrs. Jackson's was the only friendly face in the crowd. Weir smiled and nodded at the slender young woman. Hesitantly walked toward her. "Good morning, Mrs. Jackson."
"Good morning! Please, call me Casey. I just got here myself. Would you like to join me for breakfast?"
The smile on Weir's face was one of obvious relief. "Thank you...Casey. Please call me Elizabeth. And I'd like very much to join you for breakfast. In fact, I have a few questions I'd like to ask, if I may."
Casey held up a hand. "Not before coffee. My brain doesn't function before coffee."
"Fair enough," the blonde visitor smiled.
The two women walked toward the table that held the large coffee urn and stacks of mugs. After another moment, conversations started back up, although the topic of many of them had changed.
Settled at a table that had been tucked into a corner, coffee and muffins from the nearby tray in hand, Weir watched her companion for a moment. "I have no idea how you...well...how you..."
"To be honest, I have no idea how it works, either," Casey confided. "It can be a big pain-in-the-ass when I have to try and figure out what the images and sounds, and sometimes smells, have to do with each other, and what they mean. Whoever sends my downloads has one hell of a screwy sense of humor."
Weir couldn't help but chuckle. "I won't even pretend to understand what you deal with. But I'd like to ask a question about your...gift."
"According to the reports I've read so far, and what General Hammond has told me, you don't usually 'see' anything until after you've looked over pre-mission reports and MALP findings."
"I'd say that's true," Casey replied.
"Well, and please don't take this as an insult...but how can you be certain it's not just a simple case of deducting what's going to happen from the information available?"
"If that's all it were, then anyone who reads the mission folders would be able to make the same predictions," Casey smiled. "I think that the information from the folders is what helps me to...confine...my searches to the places and the events that are being planned. Rather than just random warnings, and I've had a few of those, I can find the specific information that's...out there...and can pass it on."
Weir nodded. "That makes sense. Well, for what I understand about the situation."
"For me the most annoying thing is when I just get a general 'this is bad' or 'don't go there' feeling, with nothing to back up those feelings. I mean, details are important when determining whether a mission is worth the risk or not. I'm supposed to be helping General Hammond, and if all I can offer is 'this could be bad'...how can he make a fully informed decision?"
"I had no idea," Weir murmured, suddenly understanding how seriously the seer took her job.
"I feel so guilty when I screw up, and don't see something in time, or can't interpret what I do see fast enough, and someone gets hurt," Casey continued. "Whenever that happens, it's my fault."
Weir's eyes went wide with disbelief. "Mrs. Jackson...er...Casey, that's not true! How can it be your fault if you can't control what you do or don't see?"
"That's what we ask her every time she tries to blame herself for something."
Both women looked up to see Jack, Sam, and Teal'c standing beside the table.
"Mind if we join you?" Jack continued amiably.
"Not at all," Weir smiled.
"Casey tends to blame herself for far too much, and shrugs off the credit she deserves," Sam said, sitting down between Jack and Teal'c.
"Every report I've read, written since your arrival, has been filled with nothing but praise for your abilities, and not just those as a seer," Weir told Casey.
Now green eyes went wide. "Really?"
"Really. You and Doctor Jackson are very much respected and admired by your peers," Weir informed the slender blonde. "And from what I've read and heard, that respect and admiration is well-deserved."
Jack had a moment of reservation concerning his plans. Obviously this bureaucrat had figured out the finer points and important details concerning the SGC. His conscience began to poke at him. Scaring the bejeezus out of the woman just wouldn't be as much fun if she didn't deserve it. Still...a training exercise would give her a look at how the base operated during an emergency. Okay, so maybe he'd reschedule it for later in the day, rather than in the middle of the night...
Casey studied her CO. Bit back a smile. She couldn't tell exactly what he was up to...just that he had something planned, and it had something to do with Doctor Weir. She only hoped it wouldn't be one of his practical jokes. Not everyone was appreciative of his particular brand of humor.
Weir continued to question the team, getting more details about certain missions, clarifying what she'd read about others. She was, she admitted silently, a much different person than she'd been the day she'd walked into the SGC for the first time. She couldn't help but believe that anyone...and everyone...who entered the bunker was similarly affected.
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