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 The Recalcitrant Lo'taur

 

Chapter 7

Daniel was standing behind Kali's ornate chair in the throne room, listening as the Goa'uld told Ashoka exactly what she wanted him to do. The old man glanced in his direction several times. That's right, you old buzzard. I'm the one responsible for the changes.

The High Priest rose to his feet after receiving the orders from his god. He looked over at the Tau'ri once again. "Be careful, My Lord, that your new lo'taur doesn't slip the reins of control from your fingers into his own."  

Kali glanced over her shoulder at Daniel, then looked back at the priest. "I suggest that you be careful in what you imply. I am your god. What changes I make I do for my own reasons."

"As you say, My Lord." The priest bowed, shot one more look of disdain at Daniel. "Perhaps a bit of time in the sarcophagus would allow Kalidasa to return to his duties."

"Get out!" Kali hissed, pointing a long-nailed finger toward the door.

He started slightly. That had been a wrinkle he hadn't even stopped to consider! Why hadn't Kali ordered her lo'taur taken to a sarcophagus? "That's a good idea," Daniel said slowly, still digesting this most interesting tidbit of information. "You should have just done that to begin with. Then you wouldn't have to put up with me, and my ineptness." He was still secretly delighted that he'd been able to be as clumsy as possible all morning. By the time Kali had called for her lunch, she was dealing with most of her needs and wants herself. He'd managed to taunt her a couple of times, when she'd muttered again about possessing him, and teaching him true submission.

She would not let the annoying human know that his extensive knowledge of languages would be most beneficial to her, and her plans of dominance in the Goa'uld Empire. Nor would she allow herself to fully acknowledge the quickly growing attraction to her new lo'taur. "You are a much better specimen," Kali replied.

"But a lousy lo'taur."

The smile that crossed her face surprised her captive, she noted with a small degree of pleasure. "You will learn."

"Hate to break it to ya, toots, but as soon as I've done the translating you want me to, I'm outa here," Daniel retorted.

Kali studied the archaeologist. "Why do you wait? Why not attempt to gain your freedom now?"

Play it cool, Danny. Don't give her any clues that you know about those bracelets! Daniel shrugged. "Curiosity, mostly. I figure that if you're interested in something that once belonged to the Ancients, we should know about it, too."

The Goa'uld tossed back her head and laughed. "That mere humans would believe they could possibly understand, much less control, Ancient technology is most amusing."

"We figured out the Stargate...er...Chappa'ai, didn't we?" And we have access to an Ancient weapon right there on Earth. Wouldn't that knowledge send the snakes slithering for cover, he thought with no small amount of glee. He barely managed to keep his face from reflecting his emotions.

The laughter died. Kali's amber eyes narrowed slightly. "Yes, as a matter of fact you did."

"We're not nearly as dumb as you like to believe we are," Daniel said.

"Nor are you as intelligent as you believe yourselves to be," Kali snapped in return. To be reminded that mere slaves moved with impunity throughout the galaxy only served to highlight her own fragile standing in the Goa'uld Empire. That would change, she thought. Once she was in possession of the bracelets, and the weapon they controlled, none would be able stand against her. Not even the arrogant Tau'ri.

The First Prime hurried into the throne room. Barely glanced at Daniel. He saluted the Goa'uld sitting on the throne. "We have arrived, My Lord."

"Finally!" Kali declared, rising to her feet. "Come, Daniel. It's time to learn if you are really as talented in deciphering ancient languages as I've been told."

"If I'm not?"

"Then pray you have other talents that will prevent me from killing you," she said icily, before letting her gaze move over his nearly naked body.

He shuddered slightly. He'd have to hope he could find that bracelet, or clues to where it was hidden, and escape before this bitch decided to test his resolve to avoid being in her bed. If he had to kill her, he would. For all he knew, doing so would make it easier for him to escape. That was a pleasant thought...taking out a System Lord and walking away with the Ancient bracelet.

 

 

 

Sitting on a tel'tak, surrounded by a dozen Jaffa and half a dozen of Kali's priests, Daniel was considering his chances of escape. If there wasn't a Stargate on the planet, then trying to escape would be suicide. Even if he could evade his captors, chances were they'd simply leave him behind. Not a good thing. So, he'd have to hope that he could find the clues about the bracelet, send Kali on a wild goose chase, and find a way to get home from another planet.

His best bet, he decided, was to convince Kali that one of the planets he could recall the 'gate address to, was mentioned in the text of the temple wall. The Goa'uld had told him, as she led him to the glider bay where the tel'tak waited, about the large temple and the walls that waited to give up their secrets to those who could read the symbols. If there was enough text, and a generous use of symbols, he could pull the ruse off.

Four slaves and two servants were also accompanying those heading for the planet's surface. One of the servants, a man with dark eyes and a slightly agitated demeanor, watched the lo'taur carefully. It had been a stroke of bad luck that Daniel Jackson had been chosen to take the place of the wounded Kalidasa. Taking the Tau'ri and escaping to where Lord Chaahk waited would be more difficult.

Daniel frowned slightly when one of the servants continued to smile anxiously at him. As if he were trying to send a subliminal message. This, he thought with a sigh, would be the perfect time to have Casey beside him. She'd be able to search around the sneaky-looking little bastard to figure out just what was going on. The man caught his eye again, gave another nervous smile, then nodded subtly.

He jerked slightly when manacles were clamped around his ankles and his wrists. A short length of chain separated each pair. At least the Jaffa had put them around the outside of his boots, Daniel thought drolly. He was wearing the boots because the sandals he'd been given didn't fit correctly, his toes barely fit through the narrow straps at the front of the leather footwear. He'd told Kali bluntly that if he was going to be traipsing around ruins, he wasn't doing it barefooted, nor with ill-fitting shoes.

Kali smirked at him when Daniel looked over at her, cocked one eyebrow in question. "So that you do not forget your place," she said.

"Yeah, sure. Let's see, I'm your lo'taur, right?"

Rather than risk her Jaffa or priests, or worse yet, the slaves and servants, see just how much her lo'taur could vex her, Kali turned her head. Surely she should at least slap the irritating human. She started to raise her hand. Dropped it back into her lap. No doubt he would refuse to cooperate if she did so. Once he had translated the text on the temple walls, when she had the bracelets in her hands, then she would punish the impudent human. He would beg for her mercy. She ignored that part of her that insisted she would give it, and welcome him into her bed.

It wasn't easy not to squirm beneath the gaze when the Goa'uld turned to look at him once again. He could feel the heat rise in his cheeks when her eyes focused on his groin. She'd looked before, but they'd been alone. Her appraising looks made him feel like a slab of meat on display. When he caught two of the priests giving him the same appreciative 'once-over', Daniel barely bit back his groan. The fact that the Jaffa were now giving him that 'knowing' look had him rolling his eyes. He'd better find what he was after, and soon, or he'd most surely lose patience and start a fight he might not win.

The tel'tak bumped to a landing near extensive ruins. The door had yet to open, however Daniel was already speculating about the lay-out of the city. There had been numerous missions to planets that had been inhabited by the Ancients; he'd been able to study the ruins of four other cities built by them. The temple would be in the center of the town, surrounded on all sides by civic buildings and marketplaces. He wondered briefly if he'd get by with telling Kali he needed to examine the other buildings as well. It was possible that there might be something left behind to explain why the Ancients had created the bracelets in the first place.

In spite of the circumstances of his arrival, Daniel was immediately enthralled by the ruins, his training and natural curiosity had him wanting to run from one building to the next, to learn everything he could about this city as quickly as he could.

Kali noticed the change in her lo'taur immediately. Gone was the sullen man who gave only sarcastic responses to everything she said or did. In his place was a man whose blue eyes had widened with wonder, and sparkled with interest. She gave a brief nod at the Jaffa charged with keeping the Tau'ri from attempting to escape. "Now, Daniel Jackson, we shall learn if your skills are as great as your reputation claims."

The Jaffa jerked on a chain connected to the manacles on his wrists, nearly pulling him off his feet.

"Hey! Take it easy!" Daniel exclaimed immediately. He jerked his hands back, the unexpected maneuver making the Jaffa's arm fly out behind him. "Try asking nicely the next time!"

There was no way she could ignore the outburst. She could feel the expectancy in the air around her. She stepped in front of Daniel, slapped his face with a vengeance, her pent-up frustration released in that physical act.

Daniel's glasses went flying; his lower lip, which had been caught by the edge of the ribbon device wrapped around her hand, began to bleed. He gingerly probed the wound. "Well, if my glasses are broken, I won't be able to see enough to translate anything," he said coldly. It wasn't the truth, the lenses were clear glass. His immortality had granted him perfect eyesight as well as perfect health. But the snakes didn't need to know that.

The sneaky little servant scurried to the rocks where the wire framed glasses had landed. Picked them up, and noted with not a little relief that the glass within was intact. Nor did he notice that there was no distortion when he looked through the lenses. Not fully understanding how the objects worked, he had no idea that he shouldn't be able to see through them. "Svamin...not broken, see?"

Kali examined the object. "You are lucky, Daniel Jackson."

"Well, actually, you are. I don't care if I can see to translate or not," Daniel replied. Bracing himself for another attack.

Everyone around her jumped with surprise when Kali began to laugh. "You do so amuse me, Daniel," she declared.

"Yeah, color me thrilled about that," Daniel muttered. He pointed toward the temple, forced to raise both hands thanks to the chain that dangled between his wrists. "I want to start there."

With a curt nod, Kali started walking toward the building. It had the least damage of any of the edifices standing around it.

Daniel took a step, realized that he'd have to shorten his stride considerably. Halfway up the street it became necessary for him to climb around several fallen pillars. He stopped, shook his head. "Either take these damned things off my feet, or I plant my ass right here and we just stare at that thing," he growled. Dropping to sit on one of the largest stones, he squinted against the bright sun.

With a sigh of frustration, Kali gave the order to remove the chains from his ankles. "Do not test me further, Daniel."

Glancing around at their 'audience', Daniel realized that to continue pushing could result in some very unpleasant physical activity. Unpleasant for him, anyway. He gave a nod of understanding.

When he stepped inside the temple, he took a deep breath. It was magnificent! There seemed to be little damage to the raised text itself, even though the bright paint, in evidence in nooks and crannies of the symbols, had long since faded away. "This is fantastic!" he said softly.

The transformation of his face, his very bearing, was visible to everyone around him. Once again Kali was taken aback by the look of wonder...of sheer delight...that covered the man's handsome features. "Can you read it?" she demanded.

"Give me minute," he murmured. Moving closer to one of the walls, his fingertip the place marker, he began to examine the hieroglyphs. It was definitely Ancient, probably the oldest dialect he'd ever seen. While most of the symbols were recognizable, there were several that were totally unknown to him. With luck, he'd be able to extrapolate the meanings from the text around them. "I need something to write on, and something to write with," he mumbled, not paying attention to whether or not his request had been heard, let alone would be met.

One of the younger priests hurried forward, a stack of parchment paper in his hands. Another carried half a dozen quills, and a container of dark blue ink.

Daniel glanced at the two young men and smiled. When they would have sat down at his feet, prepared to write down every word he uttered, he shook his head. "I just need to keep notes," he explained. He reached for the items, only to have the young priests look toward their leader for permission. "I do this my way, or not at all," he told Kali bluntly.

Kali nodded, the High Priest sighed, and waved his hands. The writing implements were left on the stone floor beside the lo'taur.

"I can't write and keep my place with these things on," he added, shaking the chain slightly.

"You must-" Kali started.

"Know my place, I get it," Daniel said, cutting her off. "I'm surrounded by Jaffa. Don't you trust them to be able to guard me?"

The shifting of the warriors behind her left her no choice. "I will allow you to be unshackled. Do not abuse my beneficence."

He moved his head up and down in understanding. It was apparent to all that Ashoka was irritated at having to release the man he considered a prisoner. Now, Daniel thought, as long as he could remain unchained, he'd be able to make his escape when the time came.

Within minutes Daniel had lost himself in the world of the Ancients, translating as quickly as he could. The story being told was nothing less than fantastic. It had been assumed that the story of the 'lost city' of Atlantis had been nothing more than a myth...a clever legend created by Plato, based on stories the philosopher had heard and read in ancient Egypt. If what he was reading in that moment...directly from the walls of a temple built by the Ancients...was true, Daniel thought, not only was Atlantis a real city, but a living one.

He frowned, re-read one section of the text, then went back to another section. Not living...alive. A city that was 'alive'? What the hell does that mean?

She hadn't let the Tau'ri out of her sight. When he seemed to become slightly agitated, she hurried forward. "What have you discovered?"

"Huh?" He looked up at the Goa'uld. Realized in an instant that there was no way he could let the snakes know about this! "Oh, I was just reading about one of the first cities," he lied. "From what I can find, it was on Earth...um...the First World."

"What else have you found? Is there any descriptions of certain-" She barely caught herself in time. "What devices are described?"

"None, so far," Daniel replied truthfully, secretly amused at her anxiety. If...or when...he located anything about the bracelets, he'd make certain to document it in his notes, tell her a nice story about something else, and then plan his escape.

"Continue. Perhaps you would find more over there," Kali said, pointing to the adjoining wall.

"If I want to find something particular, I need to understand all of this. And that means I have to start at the beginning. Which is what I'm doing," Daniel replied defiantly. He had stopped long enough to copy several of the glyphs, and had translated them, adding his own thoughts and speculation. All written in his own private cuneiform. He made a mental note to make certain the sheets of parchment were with him when he left.

The thought of leaving had him glancing over his shoulder. He was barely able to contain the sheer joy that washed over him when he saw the top of a Stargate. It was on the far side of the square, behind a low building, but there was no mistaking the ring. Doing his best to keep his face as neutral as possible, Daniel leaned over to add to his notes.

"You waste time! Decipher these walls!" Kali ordered impatiently.

"Look, I'm working as fast as I can. This is a dialect I'm not completely familiar with," Daniel shot back. "I have to translate what I can, and then extrapolate the best I can from the text around what I don't understand. If I'm not working fast enough for you, then have your priests do the damned job! If they can't do it, then back off, shut up, and let me do this my way!"

Her hand came up automatically. The stone in the center of the ribbon device, fitted into her palm, began to glow brightly.

"Do we really need to go through all that now?" Daniel asked with exaggerated patience.

Kali stood toe to toe with the infuriating lo'taur. "When you have finished here, you will be punished for your insolence."

"Whatever, toots. Move, you're in my light."

She barely resisted the urge to stamp her foot. For one moment, the thought of killing this infuriating human...this man who would dare to taunt her...teased at her mind, tempting her. Soon, she promised herself. She would break Daniel Jackson, and he would serve as her lo'taur until he no longer pleased her.

Looking around the temple, Daniel sighed. "Look, there's a lot here. It's going to take me two, maybe three days to read everything."

"You need only translate until-" Kali broke off once again. She didn't trust Daniel Jackson. If he knew what she was looking for, it was highly probable that he would lie to her if he did find anything. Which meant she would have to allow him to do just as he planned.

Until I find out about those bracelets, he thought, biting back a grin.

"I will know all that is written here," she declared icily. "When you finish with this wall, you will tell me exactly what it says."

"Sure," Daniel said, giving a careless shrug.

Turning long enough to give orders that a temporary camp be erected nearby, Kali settled herself on the remains of a column. And watched with more interest than she would ever admit to as Daniel Jackson worked.

 

A A A A A A

 

She looked around the dimly lit room. "This place is just depressing as hell," Casey muttered.

"Yep," Jack replied. If anything, the tavern looked worse than it had when he'd been here before, with Daniel rather than Casey. Because they'd been looking for her. This time...he couldn't stop the grin that tugged at his lips. Once again they were looking specifically for Tieel Mogba. They already knew this was a common haunt for the bounty hunter. He'd turn up sooner or later. Hopefully sooner. Radar was getting grouchier by the minute.

Sam was looking around as well. When Tieel Mogba had walked through that door, Daniel had damned near killed him. She wondered briefly if stopping him then would save his life now.

Three days. Daniel had been in the clutches of some bitch snake for three days, Casey grumped silently. Miss Eloise had assured her that he was fine, that he wasn't being mistreated. He's not home, and until he's home, nothing is 'fine'!

"Any more updates, Radar?" Jack asked, settling himself into a chair at one of the corner tables. From this spot, they could see the door, and anyone who might walk through it. They also had an unobstructed view of the bar.

While looking around this particular mission before walking through the Stargate, Casey had been overwhelmed by the feeling that Daniel would be home within a matter of days. Four...five at the most. While that would mean he'd be gone a total of eight or nine days, it was still less than the two weeks she'd seen at the onset of the event. She'd take her breaks where she could find them, she thought with a sigh. "Nope."

Jack crossed his arms and settled back for a long wait. His thoughts, however, were on the preparations underway for a very special 'training session'. He'd thought better of having the drill in the middle of the night. Grudgingly admitted that Doctor Elizabeth Weir was gaining more acceptance with each day she spent at the SGC. She was questioning each of the SG teams...sitting and talking with each group, listening to their adventures, their worries, their suggestions. Scuttlebutt had it that the woman had filled up two full legal pads with ideas and suggestions from those who worked in the concrete bunker. And that she had every intention of addressing each one with none other than the president himself. Still, she wouldn't have a real idea of the dangers unless she experienced an 'invasion'. And, being the considerate man he was, he didn't want her to leave Colorado with less than a 'full' exposure to life at the SGC.

"This is where you came, when...when..." Casey shook her head.

"When Ba'al had enlisted Tieel Mogba to kidnap you," Teal'c finished for her. "It is. Daniel Jackson was distraught."

He'd been falling apart, Jack thought, recalling the days the team had spent in this hell-hole. Finding out that the bounty hunter had turned Casey over to the snake almost immediately had damned near undone the archaeologist completely.

"Well, we know Daniel is okay," Casey said, trying to keep her voice light. "Just not exactly where he's okay at."

Sam smiled. "I think the General is right," she said, nodding at her husband. "Whoever has Daniel right now probably wishes she didn't!"

"All that attitude? And needing his expertise? Gotta have that snake bitch about ready to crawl under a rock to hide," Jack declared.

The comments elicited a soft giggle. "As long as he doesn't piss her off so much she kills him," Casey commented, her fear one that had nagged her since having the download about Daniel's capture.

"Danny's too smart for that," Jack assured his young friend.

"I hope so," Casey sighed. "Okay," she said, pulling a deck of cards from her pocket, "the game is Texas Hold 'em, and you have to earn your way through, no freebies."

"That's right, Radar, take the fun outa the game," Jack grumbled, looking at the cards she dealt him. Not a bad hand. Could be better. "What are we using for chips?"

Teal'c produced a small box of multi-colored toothpicks. "I believe this will suffice." He quickly counted out an equal share for the four teammates.

Jack looked from Casey to Teal'c and back again. "Do the two of you plan this stuff, or is it really just coincidence?"

"I don't believe in coincidence, Jack," Casey said smugly. "You open the betting."

"Right. I'm in."

"Me, too," Sam said, tossing a toothpick on top of Jack's.

The first round of bidding had the players trying to psych one another into folding, or betting higher. They were all grinning broadly; and while it appeared they weren't paying attention to anything but their game, each of them were surreptitiously watching everything that went on in the large room.

 

 

 

The bartender recognized three of the four. Wondered briefly where the other man was...the man with the blue eyes. The man who had been walking the edge. The man who had nearly killed Tieel Mogba.

With a subtle nod at his assistant, he slipped into a room accessed by a narrow door at the end of the bar. Being owed a favor by a bounty hunter was always a helpful thing. Mogba would owe him a considerable debt for protecting him from this group of Tau'ri.

 

 

 

"Bartender must be making a call," Jack said quietly. "We might be wasting our time now."

"Maybe," Sam replied. "We should probably stick around for at least a day, just to make it look good."

"I concur," Teal' said.

"Works for me," Casey sighed.

Neither SG-1, nor the bartender, had any idea that at that moment, Tieel Mogba was on a planet with impressive ruins, watching a System Lord and her lo'taur. Waiting for the perfect moment to strike...

 

A A A A A A

 

Udal Sasar was a small, wiry man accustomed to being invisible to others. It was a trait he had cultivated, making him most suitable to work as a spy. He'd begun doing just that when he'd been but a youth, selling whatever secrets he could learn to those who found value in the knowledge. He had been living quietly, after angering a powerful warlord, in a small village on a planet at the edge of a far-flung solar-system. It had been his misfortune to have been present when a sarcophagus had been unearthed. Certain that the stone crypt, covered in Goa'uld markings and symbols, held the bones of a long dead 'god', he had been among those willing to remove the lid in order to search for any treasure that might have been buried with the nameless god. He'd nearly died of fright to find a perfectly preserved man...who immediately sat up, demanding to know where he was.

It hadn't taken long, a few weeks at most, for him to ingratiate himself to the returned god known as Chaahk. Once again he moved through the Chappa'ai, from place to place, seeking the information that his master demanded of him.

The promise had been given that once he had delivered the Tau'ri known as Daniel Jackson into the hands of his master, he would be paid handsomely, and allowed to live in peace once again. It had taken a fair amount of work, and by the time he had located the Tau'ri, he'd learned that another Goa'uld was also after the man known as an archaeologist...a studier of things ancient. The news had delighted Chaahk, much to Udal's relief.

Now, all he had to do was wait for the Tau'ri...who had somehow managed to become Kali's lo'taur...to finish translating the walls of the temple. Udal understood only that the location of the second bracelet was written somewhere among the strange symbols, and that Kali was determined to find the bracelet. As soon as that had been accomplished, he would take Daniel Jackson to Chaahk. With both bracelets, Chaahk would find the treasure for which he sought.

It took little effort to put himself as close to the Tau'ri as possible during the day. He watched carefully, trying to discern from the man's face whether or not he'd found the secret to the location of the second bracelet. It was annoyingly difficult to know for certain...Daniel Jackson was very careful to keep his expression as calm and neutral as possible.

Udal settled himself in the dark corner of the temple, and simply watched. Soon, he would be free of the yoke of servitude that choked him more and more each day. He would take his reward and disappear far from the reaches of Chaahk...or any other Goa'uld. Soon.

 

 

 

Daniel stretched slightly, glanced over his shoulder at the reassuring arc of the Stargate that was visible. When the Jaffa had clamped the manacles on him, he'd felt a rush of panic. Being chained would totally screw up any chances of escape. He'd managed to talk himself out of those chains within an hour. In spite of Ashoka's insistence that he be chained at night, Kali had declared that she'd never shackled her lo'taur, and wouldn't start now, as it would interfere with her servant during the performance of his duties. Daniel had surmised from the argument that it had been the High Priest who had ordered him shackled in the first place. He was also left to wonder just what the priest knew...what tidbit of information prevented Kali from killing the old bastard.

He'd been translating nearly non-stop for two and a half days. There was only one wall left. He already knew that the bracelets were a map. Just as he'd thought, it seemed they were a map to the 'living city'. Now, if he could just find out where the second bracelet was, he could leave. There was no way he was sticking around once the temple walls had been completely translated.

In the three nights that Kali and her entourage had been camped near the temple, Daniel had made it his habit to get up each night, when only three Jaffa were on watch, and go out to take a leak. Last night his personal 'body guard' hadn't even bothered to accompany him all the way...a fact that had made his heart skip with relief. He'd managed to become so little a threat that the Jaffa barely acknowledged his existence. He was Kali's lo'taur, nothing more.

It would be tricky, but Daniel was confident that he could get to the Stargate undetected. The activation of the 'gate would make noise, so he'd have to hope that he could buy himself enough time for it to open before the Jaffa were awake and after him. Thanks to the hand-to-hand combat tactics Jack and Teal'c had insisted he learn, he'd be able to take out the guards if necessary...and if he could manage to take them out one at a time.

Daniel stretched again, then ran his finger over the wall. He continued to go over his escape plan, the contents of the text already translated and added to his notes. He'd decided to head directly for P3X 888. He knew the 'gate symbols by heart, and he had no doubt that Chaka would be willing to hide him until Kali and her Jaffa gave up the hunt for him...he had no illusions that he'd be able to escape completely. He figured that at least one or two Jaffa would follow him into the wormhole.

The sun was low in the sky, the light it offered so dim that it became impossible to see. Kali rose from the chair she'd ordered brought down for her comfort. "Come, Daniel. You will bring my evening meal."

Daniel turned to look at his captor. Couldn't help but grin. Kali was quick enough to tell him what she wanted...once he'd finished working in the temple for the day. She would sit and watch him, sending the priests and Jaffa to tend to other duties. He never taunted her when there were others around, to do so would force her to discipline him. But when they were alone...he almost chuckled out loud. It was becoming more difficult to get her to actually say anything, but he could get her eyes glowing with just a comment.

"Was there anything new today?" Kali asked, conversationally.

"There were two myths about this city, and how it came to be built. It seems-"

"Nothing else?"

Jack would probably be freaked out to know that Kali responded to his detailed explanations in the same way, Daniel thought, chuckling mentally. He knew that she wanted to know about the bracelets. He'd already located the text that described them, as well as the hiding places. One, it seemed was in this city. He'd already determined that the 'Holy of Holies' was a secret compartment hidden in the altar. That had been easy enough to figure out. Which might or might not be a good thing. Although...perhaps he'd been able to figure it out quickly enough because he'd spent weeks trying to decipher the hiding places of another Ancient weapon. Maybe he was just quicker to notice the clues this time.

Kali looked at her slave when he remained silent. "Did you find anything else?"

"Oh...no. I was just thinking about one of the myths," he said. Which was the truth. However, he wasn't about to tell her the true context of the story. "It's similar to a myth from Ancient Rome, on Earth."

Kali sighed. "It must be here!" she mumbled beneath her breath.

"Is there something...specific...that I should be looking for?" Daniel asked, his expression one of innocence.

"No," Kali snapped. "Bring my meal. And a bottle of wine. I find I am quite thirsty."

With a nod, Daniel ducked his head to hide his smile. She was getting impatient. There was the off-chance that she might decide that the clues were left in one of the civic buildings. He had located a stash of clay tablets. They were written in the more common Ancient dialect. He'd been grateful that they had been nothing more than daily prayers, a list of contributions and a detailed description of one of the burial ceremonies. Nothing about the bracelets. Kali had been incensed over the lack of 'interesting' information, and he'd not been able to prevent her from smashing two of the tablets.

He'd been working on a plan to get the bracelet without Kali knowing about it. The camp was guarded by Jaffa, but the temple was ignored, for the most part. It seemed that at this point the Jaffa were bored to the point of complete apathy. And he knew that the High Priest had been drinking heavily the past two days...no doubt the other priests were imbibing as well. The more time that passed without any word about the bracelets, the more nervous the priests became. He didn't think he'd have to worry about the 'religious leaders' of the group.

Kali watched as Daniel carried in the tray of food. As he carefully arranged the plates on the satin covered table. The device she sought had yet to be located. Each day, she had been so sure that the Tau'ri would find the text that would reveal the hiding place of the bracelet. Was it possible that he would lie to her? She shook her head mentally. He knew nothing of the bracelets. If he didn't know about them, then the obscure references that should be somewhere on the walls would mean nothing to him. And Daniel had been very precise in his interpretations. Pointing out section by section, describing the content of the text. No, for some reason, the clues that should be there, weren't.

Which created two problems for her. The first and most troublesome, finding those bracelets. Without them, she would never be able to defeat the other System Lords. And if the clues weren't where her research had insisted they'd be, then she had no idea where to look next. The second, and just as annoying, was that as long as she needed Daniel to decipher Ancient text, breaking him wasn't an option. But the longer he remained...undisciplined...the more danger that other servants, and even Jaffa, would begin to question her authority. She supposed she should be grateful that he no longer taunted her if others were present. Perhaps he realized that to do so would mean she would be forced to punish him...severely.

She had yet to have him in her bed...he continued to refuse. And her desire grew with each passing hour as she watched him. He was a most handsome man. And the glimpses of his manhood...when the silk of the kilt was pulled tight against his body as he crouched beside one of the temple walls...left her aching to touch him.

The disappointment of learning that the clues she needed continued to evade her had Kali in a bitter mood. In that moment, it seemed that her dream of finding the Ancient bracelets, and utilizing the Ancient devices, was just that...a dream. If she were to be denied her chance to become Supreme System Lord, she would at least have the man she lusted after. She had a plan to achieve just that. That it was brutal in the extreme was inconsequential to her.

"Sit beside me, Daniel," she instructed.

"No, thanks. I'm fine here," he replied. He settled onto a stool on the opposite side of the table.

"I weary of your protests," she said.

"Then stop making demands that I'm never going to fulfill," he responded.

Her smile was vicious. "Tonight, my dear lo'taur, you will please me. You will make love to me as if your very life depends upon it. Because it will. Fail to give me pleasure and I'll have you castrated, and watch you bleed to death."

Well, shit! The bitch will do it, too! Daniel felt equal measures of anger and panic. Just how in the hell was he supposed to get out of this? If the Triad was still watching out for him, they'd better do something pretty damned quick!

The momentary panic that had filled his heart-stopping blue eyes brought a satisfied smile to her face. "Good. I see that you understand. Now, come sit beside me."

Reluctantly, Daniel rose to his feet. Moved toward the low couch where Kali reclined. Sat down when she patted the pillows she leaned on.

As soon as he was seated, she reached out and ran her hand over his chest. The muscles were firm and strong, his skin warm and smooth. "I believe you will do very well pleasing me," she murmured.

He'd been able to take regular doses of the Hathor-gene serum. He wasn't in danger of withdrawal. However, being accustomed to making love at least once a day, and being deprived of his Wife's beautiful, tantalizing body had left him hornier than hell. When Kali slipped her hand beneath his kilt, his cock hardened almost instantly.

Amber eyes bright with lust, Kali sat up, unfastened the clasps that held her dress together. It fell away from her body, leaving her naked from the waist up. "Touch me," she commanded breathlessly.

Daniel closed his eyes. Beautiful green eyes and a warm smile filled his mind. "Casey," he whispered, curling his hands into fists. As much as he wanted to wrap his hands around Kali's neck and squeeze the life out of her, it wasn't an option at the moment...the Jaffa would cut him down before he could find a safe place to hide.

Kali frowned. She had heard this word before, when Daniel slept on the cot next to her bed, where she demanded he sleep. "What does this mean...'Casey'?" she asked.

He hadn't been aware that his whisper had been audible...he hadn't actually been aware of uttering a sound. He cleared his throat, grateful that the Goa'uld had stopped caressing him when she'd shifted. "It's my Wife's name," he replied, through clenched teeth.

The frown deepened. Obviously he called out for her in his sleep. "The life you knew is no more. You serve me, and only me."

"No."

Her eyes flashed gold with anger. "I will leave you less than a man if you dare to defy me."

"Then do it," Daniel replied, praying she wouldn't follow through with her threat. She still needed him, still wanted him to be able to translate Ancient for her, or she'd have at least had beaten him already. Castrating him however, would leave him able to translate for her, and still serve as her lo'taur. It would force her to seek sexual gratification elsewhere, and from what he'd seen in her eyes, at the moment that wasn't something she wanted to do. As long as he could put her off, and stay alive..."I'd rather die than serve you."

She always kept a knife handy. There was a long-bladed weapon in the sheath on her thigh. She drew it, reached for the manhood that had grown so tantalizingly when she'd touched him

"My Lord!"

Daniel nearly passed out with relief when the First Prime called out. The heavy rugs that covered the tent walls muted his voice somewhat, but it was obvious that he was upset about something.

With sigh of impatience, Kali jumped to her feet, pulled her dress around her body, and refastened the hooks. "Do not think I will forget your impudence. I will give you one final chance when I return," she hissed.

He closed his eyes, brought his body back under control, shaking from the pent-up emotions that flowed through him. When I get home, Angel, I'm not letting you out of bed for days!

Daniel slipped to the opening of the tent, and listened as the First Prime spoke. It seemed that another Goa'uld had noticed Kali's ship in orbit, and was curious about why she had been sitting there for three days. This could be the break he needed!

He sent up a prayer of gratitude for the numerous gold trinkets on the belt she wore. It made enough of a tinkling sound to warn him of her movements. He was barely able to get back to the couch before Kali returned.

"I must return to the ship," Kali said.

Rising obediently, Daniel could only hope the she'd leave him on the planet. If she insisted on taking him with her, his chances of escape were nil...there wasn't a Stargate on the ship, he'd already questioned young Nirav on that.

"I have no idea how long it will take to deal with the...problem...that has arisen. I will leave a full squad of Jaffa. Ashoka will see to it that you continue to translate what remains. Do not believe you can escape."

"I can believe anything I want," Daniel retorted. "Believing is half the battle," he added cheekily. He'd heard something similar during commercials that aired between Saturday morning cartoons, encouraging children to read and learn.

"Why do you test my patience so?" Kali asked softly. "Do you not understand that I have chosen you as my most favored? That I could elevate you to my side as my Consort?"

This had to be how Casey felt every time Ba'al went on about making her his consort, Daniel thought. How damned annoying!

She closed the space between them. Ran her hands over his chest. Leaned forward and pressed a kiss on his throat. "Think on that, until I return," she whispered.

He followed her to the center of the camp. Ashoka glared at him. He glared back. Whether it was to piss off the old bastard, or just because in a moment of weakness he felt sorry for Kali, knowing that he would never give her what she wanted, Daniel found himself calling out to her. "Kali!"

The raven-haired woman turned to look at him.

"Be careful. Don't let...whoever it is," he waved a hand toward the sky, "know why you're here."

The smile on her face was genuine. "I am always careful when dealing with my 'brothers and sisters'," she replied. "Nor do I give away my secrets. Your concern pleases me, however."

He gave a short nod of acknowledgement.

With a flutter of her fingers, and a sultry wink, Kali led her Jaffa to the waiting tel'tak.

Ashoka approached carefully. "You have charmed your god, Tau'ri. But do not believe that you have fooled me."

"Hard to fool an old fool, isn't it?" Daniel quipped. His head swung toward the temple. This was his chance. Possibly his only chance. It was dark...if he could just come up with a good reason... One of the Jaffa saluted the rising tel'tak. His whispered prayer of safe-keeping barely reached Daniel's ears. That's it!

The Jaffa who had been his guard since their arrival on the planet stood nearby.

"I would like to go into the temple. To pray for my mistress's safety," Daniel said, trying to sound as humble as possible.

"You are a faithful lo'taur, Daniel Jackson," the Jaffa replied approvingly. He shot a look of pure venom toward the High Priest.

Without another word Daniel ran toward the temple. The altar was near the back of the long room. Not even the light from the large fire that lit the camp reached the far corners. All he had to do was pretend to be praying, and he'd be able to get that bracelet. Where he'd hide it once he'd found it, he wasn't certain. One problem at a time, Danny.

 

 

 

Udal watched from his hiding place. Kali had taken half of the Jaffa with her. The doddering old priest and his followers would be no threat...they relied upon the Jaffa to protect them. Daniel Jackson was alone in the temple...

Pulling a small flask from his pocket, he made his way as unobtrusively as possible to the camp kitchen. The slaves had already been taken to their tent for the night. The lower ranking priests, who usually took care of the majority of the cooking, had also retired. Making certain no one marked his movements, he poured the contents of the flask into two carafes of wine.

With a large smile, bowing and nodding at the Jaffa who were seated around the fire, Udal offered to fill the empty cups of the warriors. Not one refused. He waited nearby, appearing to be eager to please in an effort to avoid being beaten. Refilling cups as demanded.

The drug took effect slowly. One by one the Jaffa nodded off, many of them snoring loudly. He had two...maybe three hours, before the Jaffa could be awakened. Until then, not even an explosion would stir them from their slumber.

Slipping into the temple, he slowly approached the Tau'ri.

 

 

 

Daniel let his hands do what his eyes couldn't. Slowly, methodically, he moved his fingertips over every inch of the altar, seeking a release mechanism. Whenever it sounded as if his guard was approaching, he began to whisper prayers of protection.

Damn it! It's got to be here!

Sweat beaded up along his hairline, his upper lip...slid between his shoulder blades as he continued to search. If he couldn't find that damned thing, he'd have to leave without it. And the chances of Kali pitching a bitch, destroying the altar, and finding it...no, he couldn't let that happen.

Sliding his hands beneath the edge of the granite top, Daniel nearly cried out in triumph when his thumb caught on a small obtrusion. Anyone not looking for a secret compartment would feel only a bit of unfinished rock. He ran the tip of his index finger over the area. Had to be a pressure lock. Taking a deep breath, hoping that whatever he was about to trigger wouldn't make a lot of noise, he pressed firmly.

A rush of air moved over his fingers. He could feel that the stone was sliding. He put one hand on top of the altar. No, it wasn't moving. Whatever was hidden was in a very small space.

The thought that some creepy, crawly thing could be inside the hidden compartment flickered through his thoughts. Nah, this thing has been sealed for too long. With a deep breath, he reached into the hole. Closed his eyes and whispered a prayer of gratitude when his fingers wrapped around a wide, metallic object. He pulled it out, unable to see anything other than the basic shape in the dim light. If worn, it would fit from the wrist halfway to the elbow. It was heavy, meaning it had substantial width and depth. How in the hell do I hide this thing?

Two things alerted Daniel to the fact that he wasn't alone...the soft sound of footfalls on the marble-tiled floor, and the musky smell of sweat. It took concentrated effort to remain where he was until he could determine who was in the temple with him. He again began to whisper the words of a prayer of protection, hoping to convince his unseen companion that he was nothing more than a lo'taur, praying to and for his god.

"My master will be most pleased," a voice hissed in his ear. "You have saved him the trouble of having to attack Kali to retrieve the bracelet."

Before he could respond, an arm had clamped around his neck, pulling him backwards. Another hand was pressing something that had a slightly minty smell to it against his face. In a matter of seconds, Daniel was unconscious.

Udal had watched the Tau'ri writing, day after day. Uncertain of the value of the parchment, he stuffed every sheet, along with the bracelet, into a hide bag. The strap of the bag went over his shoulder, and he grabbed the unconscious lo'taur by the wrists. It was a considerable distance to the Chappa'ai. He had no choice but to drag his prisoner the entire way. He needed to take care, however. His instructions had been clear...Daniel Jackson was not to be harmed. He paused to make certain the communication device was still in his pocket. Once he'd managed to escape through the Chappa'ai with his prize, he would contact Chaahk's Jaffa.

 

A A A A A A

 

Tieel Mogba settled into the brush near the camp. He'd been watching the camp for two days. When the Goa'uld had suddenly left the planet, he knew that his moment of opportunity was at hand. He'd returned to his hidden scout ship long enough to retrieve the tools he would most likely need. In doing so, he missed seeing his quarry disappear into the dark temple. Or the small man who moved among the Jaffa.

It took several minutes for him to realize that the Jaffa who were slumped over weren't talking quietly, or playing some game of chance. The bounty hunter frowned, then dared to move closer.

A sudden snore had him dropping to the ground, lying prone, attempting to appear as nothing more than a shadow. As soon as his brain had identified the sound, his frown deepened. Jaffa sleeping on duty? No...that would never happen!

Another sound, one farther from the camp...that of rocks tumbling against one another, brought Mogba to his feet. He ran in the direction the sound had come from, his good hand reaching for the zat'nik'tel he carried.

By the time he'd found the source of the noise, the Chappa'ai was spinning to life. Being a bounty hunter meant that he carried a variety of tools...he never knew what he might need. A small piece of parchment and a thin rod of charcoal came out of the pack at his side. He carefully copied down each of the chevrons that were lit on the controlling device that sat in front of the huge, stone portal. Someone was going somewhere, and it might be beneficial to know just who and where.

He barely bit back his gasp of surprise. Before he could process what he was seeing and react, a wiry little man had pulled Daniel Jackson from the shadows and into the shimmering center of the Chappa'ai. The Ancient device hissed closed.

Mogba stared the monument for a moment. The face of the little man...he remembered that face...The smile that lit his own would have frightened those who knew him. His memory served him well. He not only recognized the spy, he knew exactly for whom that spy worked, and where the Master was located. No doubt he would need to hurry. If Daniel Jackson was unconscious, he had been taken prisoner. And that could be a very bad thing...for both of them.


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