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The Recalcitrant Lo'taur
Casey had given up trying to sleep. She'd dutifully crawled into bed, amused by the fact that both Sam and Jack had come to check on her, to make certain that she was actually undressed, and under the blankets. Jack had even dropped a kiss on the top of her head, telling her that a good night's sleep would make everything look better in the morning light.
When she'd attempted to remain at the SGC, unwilling to drive alone to a house that was much too empty without her Husband, Jack had intervened. He wasn't, he told her firmly, going to let her sit and mope in the commissary, or the officer's lounge. When she'd mentioned that she could work on the database, Jack had insisted that he certainly wasn't going to have her 'pulling a Daniel' and working all night. She would, he maintained, stay with him and Sam. So...here she was, tucked into the guest bedroom.
Tossing back the covers, Casey slipped down the narrow stairs. There was no point in lying there. Her mind wouldn't slow down, her thoughts continued to circle, her worry over Daniel too strong to give her a moment's peace. She stopped, put her hand against the wall to steady herself as a wave of misery rolled over her. "I miss you so much, Stud Muffin," she whispered.
Certain that her best friends wouldn't mind if she made a pot of coffee, Casey flipped on the light in the kitchen. She didn't know it well, she'd only been to Jack's Colorado Springs cabin a half-dozen times. So she spent five minutes looking for the coffee. Grinned to find a can of plain Maxwell House in the pantry.
Another minute, and the coffee maker was bubbling away. She sat down at the small table that had been tucked into the corner. Buried her face in her hands, and willed herself not to cry. Even knowing that Daniel would return home unscathed did nothing to ease the loneliness. Her Husband was an important part of her life...she missed being able to talk to him, to share her thoughts with him. Nor did knowing he'd come home safely ease the worry that filled her heart. Nothing was written in stone...anything could happen, at any moment, and change everything she'd seen.
A sudden poking had her sitting straight up in the chair. Terrified that her thoughts had been the precursor of bad news, she began to shake slightly. "Oh, goddess, no!" She waited for the deluge of images, and the inevitable flash of light. Tried to keep her breathing slow and steady. Closed her eyes and imagined Daniel's strong arms around her, holding her tightly, keeping her safe.
It was a struggle to keep from grabbing at the images that twirled in her mind; she was desperate to know that Daniel was safe, that he would still walk back into the SGC in one healthy piece. Once again she fought to remain calm. To wait until the 'download' was complete before attempting to interpret what the images meant.
She let out a startled yelp, and put a hand over her pounding heart. "Jesus Christ, Jack! Give a girl some warning the next time!"
"Sorry. You okay?"
"Just had a download," she replied.
"Give me a minute."
"Take your time."
Sam walked into the kitchen, tying the belt on her robe. Before she could speak, Jack held up one hand, then tapped his temple. With a nod she settled onto the chair beside his, waiting quietly.
"Well, whoever the guy snake is, he has Daniel now," Casey mumbled. "And the bitch...oh, is she going to be pissed off!"
"She doesn't know?"
"Not yet. Probably will in an hour or so," Casey said. She opened her eyes. "I think Daniel has the bracelet. Or had it. Not certain which one. But I do believe when he gets home he's going to have both."
"That's the whole reason for this little adventure, isn't it?" Jack asked.
"As far as I know," Casey confirmed. "It feels...it feels as if it's almost over. Probably another day...maybe two."
"Well, that's good news!" Jack declared.
Casey gave a wan smile. "It's great news."
"But?" Sam said, sensing that something was amiss.
"Well, I'm just worried that if he beats Tieel Mogba to a pulp...how will that slimy bastard be able to get him home? I mean, I don't think Daniel can pilot the little ship Mogba has and I know how much Daniel hates him and if he just stops to think about it Mogba is really paying off his debt ya know but if Daniel doesn't think about that and just beats the crap out of Mogba how long before he can get home?" Casey took a deep breath.
Jack snickered. Sam chortled. "Radar, I have the feeling that if Mogba springs Danny, he'll be grateful enough to wait until he's home to beat the guy.
"Oh, I hope so!" Casey sighed.
Sam reached over and took Casey's hand. "Hang in there. Tomorrow, or the next day at the latest, Daniel will be home."
"That's right, Radar. We'll get to hear how he drove the snakes crazy while he was there."
Casey gave a small snort. "He'll brag about it," she grinned.
"No doubt," Jack grinned. "Should make for an entertaining debrief!"
Sam and Casey both burst into giggles.
A A A A A A
Daniel shook his head slightly to clear it. Well, this was just annoying as hell! Grabbed by one snake, then kidnapped from her by another snake. Once again, Casey had been right on the money. Not that he'd doubted her. Not even for a moment. Still... He heaved a mental sigh. It meant starting all over with the whole 'I am your god' routine. Although, on the up side, he could just bug the hell out of this guy. Kali had stopped talking to him altogether, except when giving him orders. She wouldn't respond at all to anything he said that wasn't directly related to the translations he'd been doing. Even then she would cut him off, without listening to his 'full report'. Must have pissed her off, he thought, with not a little amusement. He paused in his thoughts. Well...all but last night. He frowned. How long had he been out? However long it had been, their last conversation had been rather...frightening. Just a tad sickening. Typical emotions when dealing with a Goa'uld, he thought.
Turning his head, he examined the room he was in a bit more closely. Oh, swell...it looked like a dungeon. Okay, an individual cell in a dungeon. Nothing but lots of big, gray stones. No window, so this room was an inner chamber. That totally screwed up any escape plans. The door was wood, but it was thick. Heavy. The planks were at least ten inches wide. Bars of metal held the wood together at what looked like one foot intervals. He counted six of the horizontal steel beams. No busting through that thing, at least not easily. And even if he could somehow cut through the wood, there was just no way he could squeeze through...
He pushed himself upright, waiting for the pounding behind his eyes to fade. He remembered being in the temple...he'd found the bracelet. Wonder where the hell it is now? Someone had come in...he remembered hearing something about 'my master', although at the moment he wasn't sure if it was his assailant's master, or this unknown Goa'uld. He remembered smelling something like mint...
Looking down at his body, he found that he was still wearing the kilt that he truly hated. Silk was a wonderful fabric for the sexy little teddies and nighties that Casey wore for him. Not so great for stomping around in. Left absolutely nothing to the imagination. He was also still wearing his boots. His fingers moved to his throat. Yep, the gold collar was still there as well.
This time around, he was in a holding cell. Not a damned thing but what he was wearing. And...panic gripped his heart. The serum! Oh, shit! If Kali ever learned what was in that vial...Daniel shook his head again. To make matters worse, he was going to need an injection within the next few hours!
"You'll make it back safely...what I see seems to be two weeks...you'll make it back safely...you'll make it back safely...make it back...make it back...safely..."
Casey's words echoed in his ears. Taking a deep breath, forcing himself to calm down, he began to analyze what Casey had seen, and what had happened so far. He'd been kidnapped by Kali...well, her Jaffa, on the planet with SG-12. Just like Casey had predicted. He'd translated almost every word of text on the walls of the temple of the Ancients. If only he had his notes, he bemoaned. He would just have to do his best to remember what he'd discovered. By his count, he'd been Kali's 'guest' a total of five days.
Now...Casey had said that a second snake was watching the first. That the second Goa'uld...a man, she'd said...had one of the bracelets. So this bastard would swoop in and take him, after he'd found the bracelet, which is what both snakes wanted.
Wait a minute. Just how in the hell had anyone known...someone had been watching him. One face flashed through his mind. A small, nervous little man. A servant...
He was on his feet in a flash when the cell door opened. His jaw almost hit the floor when the servant he'd been thinking about slipped into the room.
"I beg your forgiveness for what I've done,"the man said, bowing low. "But my own life was at stake."
In one beat of his heart Daniel had forgiven the man. When a Goa'uld held all the cards...yeah, a man would do what he had to in order to stay alive. It wasn't cowardice, it was simple survival. He offered a smile. "I hope that your life is no longer in jeopardy."
The small man gave a tentative smile in return. "As do I. I am Udal Sasar."
"I'm Daniel Jackson."
"Yes, I know," Udal said, smiling a bit more.
"Should you be here?"
Udal shook his head, looked over his shoulder at the closed, but not locked, door. "What I have done, I have done out of necessity. To make amends, I bring that which belongs to you."
Daniel watched as the small man pulled a large hide bag from beneath his robe. Accepted the bag with a nod.
"My master was waiting for us...even though you were unconscious, he..."Udal shook his head. "He is aware that you were once a host. This intrigues him. I overheard him talking to the one who now serves as High Priest. I believe he intends to make you lo'taur."
"You've got to be kidding!"Daniel sighed.
Udal smiled. "It is better than being a slave, yes?"
"Not by much," Daniel grumped.
"As lo'taur, you will be given a room in which to sleep. If I might be so bold...if you will allow me...I will keep the bag, and watch to see which chamber they assign to you. Once I know this, the bag, and all that is in it, will be there. No one knows of its existence, so they won't be looking for it. This I swear."
The way Udal motioned, Daniel understood that he wanted him to look inside. Okay, let's see what's in here. He sifted through the items, then looked up at his benefactor. Everything that he'd had when he'd been abducted by Kali's Jaffa - clothes, equipment, even his pocketknife, was in the bag. Most importantly, the flashlight case with his serum. And...all of his notes. The bracelet! The little bastard put the bracelet in here! "Thank you," Daniel said hoarsely, thinking how insufficient the words seemed, compared to the importance of what this man had done for him. He handed the bag back to Udal. "I'll look for it in whatever room I'm given."
"Why are you helping me?"Daniel asked, a bit suspiciously. It wasn't totally paranoid to believe he was being set up.
The man gave a slight shrug of his shoulders. He'd had no intention of doing anything other than seeing this man into Chaahk's custody, collecting his reward and escaping. One act of charity had changed his intentions. "You insisted that Kali feed the slaves," he said quietly.
Daniel studied the man for a moment, then nodded. "When you've done this for me," he nodded at the bag, "can you slip away?"
"I believe so." It would be easy enough to convince the Jaffa assigned to one of the tel'taks that he needed to be taken to the Chappa'ai on a nearby planet, so that he might do Chaahk's bidding once again. From there he could make his escape.
"Good. Go as quickly as you can...as far as you can." Daniel paused. "There's a place I know, where you should be safe."
"And where would this place be?" Udal asked.
"Lord Olokun's main trading planet."
Udal smiled. "I have heard of this planet."
"There's a tavern, called the 'Hak'tar Aroosh'."
"A tavern called 'Village of Advanced Humans'?" Udal asked incredulously.
Daniel chuckled. "Yeah, I know, it's a silly name. So far, none of the Goa'uld have caught on. It's a place of safety for those who wish to be free from the Goa'uld. Go there, tell them that you know me. And that you wish to be free. You'll find friends there, I promise."
"Then it is I who must thank you, Daniel Jackson."
"You'd better go, before someone finds you here," Daniel said quietly.
Udal nodded. "I will not see you again. So I will offer my wishes to you that you will also find freedom."
"I will, trust me," Daniel said, giving the small man a wink. No clue in hell how that's gonna happen, but Casey hasn't been wrong yet.
"May the true gods bless you, Daniel Jackson."
"And you, Udal Sasar."
The man disappeared as quietly as he'd appeared. Minutes later, Daniel was wondering if he'd simply imagined the entire thing. He glanced around, hoping that no one had eavesdropped on the conversation if the encounter hadn't been just a strange dream. There didn't seem to be any hidden monitoring devices. Maybe this cell was in an old keep...and lacked modern amenities...like cameras and microphones. It was a comforting thought...
With nothing else to do, and finding that he was more tired than he'd realized, Daniel returned to the cot, and drifted into restless sleep.
When the cell door opened the second time, Daniel was surprised when a priest walked in. Wasn't surprised by the four Jaffa guards who accompanied the man.
"You are lo'taur?"the priest asked.
"For Lord Kali, yes,"Daniel replied. Okay, so the 'position' had only been temporary...he certainly hadn't planned on staying to keep the job. But, for the moment, he'd play the game. Staying in one living, breathing piece was paramount to his escape plans. Which, he thought with a silent, pained sigh, was the only part of the plan he had at the moment!
"You serve her no longer. Come with me. You will be cleaned, and presented to your new master."
He barely resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "Sure, whatever," he mumbled.
A A A A A A
He had yet to choose a human to serve as his lo'taur. Chaahk found it most convenient to be provided with not only a trained lo'taur, but also one capable of reading Ancient text. Surely it was a fortuitous omen. He hurried into the throne room of the aged castle. Settled himself onto the throne. Waved a hand, indicating that he was ready to examine the prisoner.
Daniel had been allowed to bathe, and the kilt he'd been wearing had been cleaned. The silk was still damp when he'd put it on, told that he was being taken to his new master. He'd barely been given time to shove his feet into his boots. Scratching his jaw, he realized he'd not been allowed to shave. He hadn't shaved since Nirav had done the task for him...about four days ago. Or had it been five days? Being knocked out tended to screw around with one's sense of time, he grumped silently.
He was led into the room by the priest, flanked by Jaffa. Daniel was aware that two more guards were behind him as well. He didn't know if it was standard procedure to have so many armed Jaffa escort a single prisoner, or if the Goa'uld he was about to meet had heard about the Tau'ri in general and SG-1 in particular, and their penchant for escape.
Chaahk stared at the man...the bright blue eyes nearly disconcerting by the fact that the gaze never wavered. Whoever this man...this lo'taur...was, he had no fear of those to whom he was subjugated. Apparently Kali had allowed her slave to retain far too much of his spirit. A problem that was easy enough to correct. "I am Chaahk. Your god."
"You would not believe how often I hear that line," Daniel replied. The name poked the back of his mind. Mayan, his memory informed him...Chaahk was a Mayan god...It was all he could do to keep his expression from revealing his shock. Chaahk, it had always been assumed, was just another, shortened name for Tel-chaahk. And that particular Goa'uld had been the one to use Ancient technology to build the first sarcophagus. And that nasty bit of technology he and Doctor Lee had discovered in South America, which adversely affected the living, and brought the dead back to life in a most disturbing manner; a 'toy' which the Goa'uld had left behind and was theorized to be the precursor to that first sarcophagus. Barely repressing the shudder his memories caused, Daniel realized that he could be looking at one of the oldest Goa'uld in existence! And it was just possible that this snake remembered well how to unite the others to battle against enemies. Well, hells bells! This could turn into a freaking mess! Standing a bit straighter, he stared back at the Goa'uld. "Haven't met a real god yet, though," he added.
"Silence!"Chaahk growled. "Your insolence will not be tolerated. Kali was weak. Far too lax in the training of slaves. Where she failed to teach you manners, I will not."
"Right,"Daniel said. He looked around the room. The castle reminded him of that creepy place where Ba'al had captured Casey for the first time. Not as freaky, although it seemed it was just as empty. From what little he'd been able learn...and he'd been able to learn a great deal from the very talkative young slave who had bathed him (and that was a memory he planned to suppress completely - that of a naked young man, standing in a shallow pool of water, undeniably aroused, and washing him)...this particular Goa'uld had just returned from the dead. A lot of that happening lately, he mused. Maybe we should make a list of all the 'dead' Goa'uld, just so we know who might be popping back up! Gotta make sure they're really dead the next time...
The System Lord rose to his feet, walked around the slave who stood so brazenly before him. Dressed as he was, in a simple silk kilt, it was easy to see that the human was accustomed to hard work. Broad shoulders; well-defined muscular arms; wide chest - Chaahk wondered briefly about the white wings and the symbols on the left pectoral muscle; long legs obviously hardened by walking great distances. Yes, this slave was a superb candidate. It wasn't unusual for Goa'uld to prefer one gender to another as host - he had always preferred strong men. Nor was it unusual for a Goa'uld to take a lo'taur of the opposite sex in order to have a convenient sexual partner - although he'd never found such a thing necessary; that was why women were kept in a harem, after all. However, all Goa'uld chose to keep a suitable lo'taur nearby should the need for a new host arise in an emergency. And for that reason, only the strongest, healthiest...most attractive...of the slaves were ever chosen for the position. This human fit every criteria that Chaahk had for his lo'taur.
Daniel turned slightly to look at Chaahk. Noted the studious expression. "Let me guess, I pass the test to become your lo'taur."
For a moment Chaahk was too surprised to respond. Once he'd recovered, he frowned. "You will learn to curb your tongue."
"Yep, that's another line I've heard a lot," Daniel nodded. "Just to clue you in...that hasn't happened, either."
Chaahk slapped Daniel across the mouth with the back of his hand. "You will never speak to me that way again."
The wound left by Kali's ribbon device had healed; and this attack hadn't broken the tender skin of his lip, although it stung like hell. Daniel didn't reply. But he didn't lower his eyes, either.
"Should I find myself in need of a new host, you will serve me well,"Chaahk said, almost absently.
One thing about being lo'taur, Daniel had learned, his well-being was important to the snake involved. Especially if he'd been 'chosen' as a potential host. Which gave him a bit of latitude for some snake-baiting. "That wouldn't work out so well," he said, after a moment of silence.
He moved to stand face to face with his new lo'taur. "And why not?" Chaahk asked, his curiosity barely hidden.
"Well, it would be fine for me, I'd be left with all of your memories, everything you know. Handy information to have in the battle against the Goa'uld,"Daniel replied. "You, however, would die in a most painful way."
Chaahk stared. Then burst into laughter. "You amuse me, Tau'ri!"
"Glad to hear it," Daniel responded dryly. "Just letting you know."
It was because he'd sensed the presence of a Goa'uld in him that Chaahk had demanded that the lo'taur be brought before him. He knew that the symbiote was no longer present in the man's body...but he could sense the naquadah, recognized the 'feeling' of meeting with another Goa'uld. Or at least one who had carried a Goa'uld. "Tell me of the god you carried within you."
"What? Oh, Rihat. Minor Goa'uld. Minion to Nergal, and then to Ba'al. Structural engineer...and a spy," Daniel replied. "He was dead four hours after he infested me."
Chaahk's eyes began to glow. "You lie!"
"Now why would I lie about something like that?" Daniel asked incredulously, adjusting his glasses. He stared wide-eyed at the Goa'uld. "It's true. Or, you could jump in me right now and find out for yourself. In four hours I head home, everything you know right there in my memory."
It had been millennia since he'd been to the First World. It was true that he'd heard of the Goa'uld System Lords killed by the Tau'ri, the progeny of the slaves of Ra. He had not, however, heard any rumors of the Tau'ri learning of methods to repel symbiotes. But, rumors were an unreliable source of actual facts. He frowned. If this were true, it would explain the reason these simple farmers were marching through the Chappa'ai as if they were gods themselves. There would be no fear instilled by witnessing The Taking if these humans knew that the Goa'uld would not survive.
Daniel could see the doubts...and the fears...that began to fill Chaahk's eyes. "That's right...we don't have to worry about you taking hosts from us. We'll see to it that every human, on every planet, has the same ability." He'd told Kali the same thing, hoping that the fear would be enough to keep the Goa'uld from even attempting to 'harvest' humans from among any group of people who had been in contact with the Tau'ri of the First World. The more contacts they could make, the more people they could protect. As long as some snake doesn't decide to test the theory, he thought apprehensively.
He pushed that thought aside...he'd worry about that problem later. His main concern at the moment was getting both Ancient bracelets, and getting home in one piece. Casey had said that the second Goa'uld was waiting for the first to find the bracelet that matched the one already in his possession. This snake's spy had been among Kali's entourage, and Udal had known when he had found the Ancient bracelet. Which was why he was in this guy's throne room. No doubt Chaahk would want him to translate what was written on the two gold bands. He had to figure out a way to get both, and then find a way to get to the Stargate, and home. Yeah, piece of cake. All I need is a minor miracle.
A A A A A A
Kali was incensed. Someone had kidnapped her lo'taur. Conveniently ignoring the fact that she had taken him from his friends and family - by force, the Goa'uld paced the camp. Her Jaffa, all of them suffering the side-affects of the drugged wine, had been slapped and castigated for nearly two hours. Careful examination of the area had revealed that whoever had taken Daniel Jackson had rendered the lo'taur unconscious. The marks of a body being dragged were obvious. The Jaffa tasked with guarding the Tau'ri had insisted that the lo'taur had wished to pray for his mistress's safety, he'd entered the temple, and there he had stayed, praying fervently.
The thought of Daniel praying for her was one that Kali held to tightly...allowing herself to believe that her lo'taur was beginning to care for her as much as she cared for him. It wasn't difficult for her to convince herself that his own people had somehow found him, and when he'd resisted, they had been forced to deal with him by knocking him out.
Yes, Kali nodded, twisting what facts she had to suit her whims, that was exactly what had happened. She turned to her First Prime. "Alert my ships. We go to the First World. I will have Daniel Jackson back at my side before the day is over."
"Yes, my Lord," the warrior replied, saluting smartly.
"My Lord, is it wise to attempt to take the Tau'ri from his own world?"the High Priest asked. "The Asgard-"
"Will not have time to respond,"Kali hissed. "I am not attacking the planet, Ashoka. Merely reclaiming what is mine."
"I believe that the Tau'ri would disagree with you. They hold their freedom dear."
"That Daniel was dragged is evidence that he did not go willingly with those who took him,"Kali insisted. "Who else but other Tau'ri would come for him? Was it not you who told me that the Tau'ri have been searching diligently for their missing archaeologist?"
"He is my lo'taur. My consort if I so decide,"Kali said icily. "I will find him, and return him to my side!"
Ashoka shook his head slowly. Kali was taking a great risk in approaching the First World. No matter what her eyes tricked her into seeing, Daniel Jackson did not love her. No, the Tau'ri hated her. And would kill her if given the chance. The old priest feared that Kali was doing nothing more than baring her neck for the Tau'ri's blade.
A A A A A A
The storage room was filled with Marines. These particular men were MPs, and had been chosen specifically because Doctor Weir had never seen them. And who would, for the next few hours, pretend to be Jaffa. General O'Neill had insisted that they didn't have to go to the Alpha site and then begin their attack, they could simply sneak into the 'gate room, the 'gate would be dialed randomly, and the men could 'pretend' they'd managed to get in.
"Hold still," Ferretti grumbled, as he attempted to draw another 'tattoo'. After careful study of the known tattoos used by the Goa'uld, it had been decided that the sign of Moloc was the easiest to replicate. Three curved lines...one with both ends pointing down, and the other two intersecting that line, with the ends pointing out. And a dot in the middle of the three. Easy-peasy.
After discussing the fact that it was important that the tattoos not rub off during the festivities...er...training, Ferretti corrected himself, he'd grabbed his black Sharpie. None of the men, including their intrepid leader, stopped to consider that the marker was permanent. The 'tattoos' would likely last for several days. Explaining them to anyone not cleared for the Stargate Program was a problem they'd not reckoned with, as a result of that oversight.
O'Neill wanted this training exercise to be as 'legitimate' as possible. What the general really wanted, the grizzled marine thought with a silent chuckle, was to scare the pants off one Doctor Elizabeth Weir. He'd never seen anybody change their tune as quickly as Weir had, after reading several dozen mission reports. Had to hand it to her, she was up-front about being in the wrong...that she'd been biased against the SGC when she'd first arrived. That took guts. It was an admirable trait in anyone. But still, Ferretti thought, he'd have to agree that giving the lady a real taste of life at the SGC was a good idea. Sometimes, you just couldn't understand something until you'd experienced it. No matter how many reports you read. Besides, it'll be fun as hell to see how she reacts. He didn't even bother chastising himself for the thought. "Okay, Ramerez. Let's get you Jaffa'd up."
A A A A A A
Jack glanced at his watch. He'd told Ferretti not to tell anyone not part of the 'Jaffa' exactly when the attack was going to begin. He wanted the reactions of those around him, as well as his own, to be as real as possible. For the moment, he was sitting in the briefing room with his wife, General Hammond, Radar, and Teal'c. Answering questions from Doctor Weir. He figured they'd covered just about everything at least once, and he was certain they were just repeating themselves now.
"So, you really believe 'outsiders' could be beneficial to the operation?" Weir was asking.
"Not at first, no," Sam replied bluntly. "They'll be trying to learn as much as they can to report to their respective governments."
"Would that be a problem?" Weir wanted to know.
"Depends on what they find out," Jack said. "As long as we keep the classified material classified, there won't be much for them to send back."
"After a couple of trips through the 'gate, and getting into a fire-fight or two with Jaffa out to kill them, they'll understand that politics have no place in the Stargate Program," Casey predicted.
Weir nodded, added to the notes she was taking.
"We've already discussed this with the president," Casey added. "He didn't seem as optimistic about the prospect."
"President Hayes tends to be a realist," Weir smiled.
"I don't believe this is going to be a pressing issue, at least not for the foreseeable future," General Hammond said. "For the moment not one of the countries who are aware of the SGC and the Goa'uld threat seem eager to do more than offer their opinions and advice. Until that time-"
"Until that time," Weir broke in, "I intend to tell them only what they need to know."
The members of SG-1 exchanged bemused looks. "I thought you were all about bringing the rest of the world in on the secret," Casey said, a grin on her face. She tapped her temple when Weir stared at her.
"I was. Until I realized just how much chaos exposing the program could create," Weir replied honestly. "On a personal level, I do believe that the public has a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent. On a professional level, it would be unconscionable to reveal the existence of the Stargate...what it is and what it does, and the all that the Stargate Program entails. The chaos of such a revelation could bring about a world war that might destroy us completely."
"That would sorta defeat the purpose of us trying to keep the Goa'uld from doing that...destroying us, that is," Jack mused, a smirk on his face.
"Yes, it would," Weir agreed, tossing a smile at the general. "I do believe we should address the problem of revealing the program...military secrets don't usually remain secret for long."
"Daniel believes it can be done slowly, just little bits of information offered here and there," Casey said.
Weir frowned slightly, obviously considering the idea. "It might work at that," she murmured.
"The biggest problem," Casey sighed, "would come from religious leaders...and zealots...of all creeds. To expose the fact that their belief systems were based on myths, which had been created surrounding the presence of the Ancients, and then the Goa'uld, would cause a lot of anger from the masses who've been misled."
"I agree," Weir nodded. "And that is one aspect of the equation that won't be addressed until the actual moment that the Stargate Program is revealed. There's just no way to convince the followers of the dozens of doctrines in the world that they, and their leaders, are wrong."
Jack glanced at General Hammond, bit back a grin, and the focused his attention on their visitor. "So, I guess all this means you're going to back D.C.? Not gonna rock our boat?"
Weir smiled. "I have no intention of 'rocking your boat', General O'Neill. If the members of the Stargate Alliance become too...insistent, then I'll suggest they provide troops to help protect planet Earth. I'll make it clear to them that their people would be walking through the Stargate just the same as ours. From the reports I've read, not one of those countries are at all eager to do that. Which will keep the Stargate Program under our control for the foreseeable future."
"The Russians have been asking about forming their own SG team, and are willing to have that team under our jurisdiction," General Hammond said.
Jack snorted. "Sure, you betcha. They'll be off doing their own thing and screwing up the minute our backs are turned."
"General," Hammond said quietly.
"Sorry, sir. It's just that experience is such a darned good teacher," Jack replied.
"Then we'll consider their request," Weir said, tossing a smile at Jack. She returned her attention to General Hammond. "Your experience makes you far more qualified to make that call than me."
"I'm still taking it under advisement," Hammond smiled.
Before anything else could be said...and the relieved expressions of the faces of the SGC personnel indicated that there were comments yet to be made...the klaxons began to wail, red emergency lights began to flash, the normal lighting shutting down in response.
"We have a foothold situation in the 'gate room!" Walter's voice declared, echoing through the speakers overhead.
Hammond raised an eyebrow at Jack, who gave a slight shrug and grinned.
"Shit! Jaffa!" Casey said, having jumped to her feet to look down into the 'gate room. She barely refrained from waving at Marine guards she recognized.
"Let's go, people," Hammond said, rising from his chair. "They'll have the control room in the next five minutes."
"Not if we can help it, sir," Jack declared. He led his team toward the spiral staircase that led from the briefing room to the control room.
"Doctor Weir, it might be best if you remain with me," Hammond said. He sighed silently. He'd have to explain 'training exercises', and the use of water guns, to Weir before she was drenched in one of the simulated 'battles'.
"Yes...yes...of...of course," she stammered, following the Texan to the control room. Just before the metal shield that would protect the bullet-proof glass window was completely lowered, she caught site of at least a dozen men, wearing what looked like suits of armor. All of them had strange marks on their foreheads.
"How'd they get in?" Jack asked.
"Um...they...uh...they had a GDO," Walter stammered, glancing at Weir.
"Which means one of our teams in the field has been compromised," Hammond said immediately, to Jack's relief. This was a 'scenario' that had been used during an actual training exercise just a few weeks prior. Several new protocols had been put into place as a result. And the Texan would never admit out loud that a 'training exercise' would top off Doctor Weir's visit in a most realistic fashion.
"They had the correct password?" Sam asked.
"Uh, yes ma'am," Walter confirmed.
"Well, that sucks," Casey sighed.
"Teal'c, take Casey and head up to the main armory on twenty-three. Grab everyone you see on the way," Jack instructed. "Set up defensive points on levels twenty-four through nineteen."
"I'd better not miss any of the fun," Casey quipped, following the large man.
"I promise to leave the snake for you to shoot," Jack promised.
"Holding you to that, boss," Casey replied as she scurried into the corridor.
Weir looked at General Hammond. "She's joking, right?"
Hammond dared to smile. "Yes. You'll find that most of the SG teams deal with their fear, and the stress of a situation, with humor."
"Beats screaming and crying about it," Jack added. "I'm gonna
head up to level twenty-five. I'll get a secondary control center set up there
in case we lose this level."
"Better hurry, General," Hammond replied, watching the monitor. "It looks as if our uninvited guests are going to attempt to drill through the blast doors."
Jack grabbed the receiver for the phone on the wall. "Ferretti? Get your men down here. We need two groups on the blast doors from the 'gate room. They're gonna try to get through."
Weir watched as men and women assigned to the control room began to work frantically on the computers. "What are they doing?"
"Sending all information to the two ships above us. If we have to, we'll wipe the computer system clean. That will prevent the Goa'uld from taking any classified information. It will also make it impossible for them to activate any sealed doors," Hammond explained. "Which will allow us to maintain control of the facility."
"Has this happened before?"
"A time or two. I'll see that you get the pertinent information regarding which mission reports to read."
She nodded. For one crazy moment, she looked around for obvious hiding places. Waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out and scream "You've been punk'd!" at her. Wasn't certain whether to be relieved or terrified when it didn't happen.
Jack took the stairs, his intention to make it to the weapons locker on level twenty-five before Ferretti's 'Jaffa' could make it past level twenty-six. Letting Weir see how well and how quickly the personnel of the SGC could hold back an attack could only add to the positive report she promised to make to the president. The clanking of armor in the stairwell caught him off guard. Three burly men were hurrying toward him.
"Hey, fellas. A little late, aren't you? Ferretti sent the others to the 'gate room five minutes ago," Jack said. He eyed the staff weapons the three carried. Frowned when the weapons were suddenly pointed at him...and charging. "Don't forget, no firing those things off. It'll just make the alarms go crazy," he looked up as the sounds of the klaxons continued to ring. "Okay, crazier, and probably set off the sprinkler system."
"Kree! Shak'ti'qua! Jankin, Tau'ri!"
Okay, demanding to that he immediately tell them what he was doing...in Goa'uld...was a bit over-the-top for the 'game'. With a frown, Jack studied the faces of the three men. He didn't recognize them, but then, with the skull caps on, which apparently were worn beneath the helms of the armor, it was enough of a change to make it difficult to identify them. It wasn't until he noticed the tattoos that he realized something was horribly wrong. Instead of the simple lines and the dot that had been agreed upon, these Jaffa were sporting a triangle, with curved sides, and a multi-petaled flower in the center.
"Oh, shit!" Jack turned and fled back down the steps, ducking just in time to prevent his head from being blown off by a staff blast. Slamming the door on level twenty-seven, he slid into the hallway. "Foothold!" he shouted. "This is not a drill!"
Ferretti's 'Jaffa', who were just entering the corridor outside of the control room, turned to look at him. "Sir?" one of the men said, obviously confused.
Before Jack could respond, the three real Jaffa had made it through the stairwell door, and began to fire.
General Hammond was still in the control room. Colonel Ronson and Colonel Mitchell were both reporting an anomaly that had appeared above Cheyenne Mountain. Said anomaly wouldn't have been noticed, had the tell-tale beam of a transport not flashed between it and the mountain. Someone, it seemed, was using their transport ring against them.
"We should have put an iris on that thing," Jack gasped, sliding into the room. "We have a problem, sir."
"I know, Jack" Hammond replied. "We've got real Jaffa ringing into the SGC."
"If we send our boys out to meet 'em, maybe it will confuse them long enough for us to get armed," Jack suggested.
"I'm on it," Ferretti nodded. "Let's go boys. It's for real, and you can use those things. Shoot to kill."
The Marines who had been in the 'gate room dashed through the now open doors and into the corridor. Two of the invading Jaffa were already down, killed by the staff-weapon wielding Marines who had been tasked to move to the next level. The third Jaffa had escaped back into the stairwell.
"Sam, close down level twenty-four. Lock all blast doors," Jack ordered. He glanced at Hammond.
"I concur. Do it, Colonel," the general nodded.
"On it," Sam replied, dropping into a chair beside Walter.
"Where's Casey and Teal'c?" Jack asked.
"Still on the elevator."
"Let's hope like hell they make it," Jack mumbled.
"Without pass cards, the invaders can't use the elevators," Walter pointed out.
"Seal off the stairwell," Hammond ordered. "If we can trap them there, we can take them out."
When the elevator door opened, Casey's first thought was that the Marines were doing a fair bit of cheating. No way could they have climbed the stairs that fast. Her second thought was that the Jaffa looked...mean.
Teal'c sensed the presence of symbiotes immediately. He grabbed Casey, pulled her to the side of the car just as a staff weapon blast blackened the back wall. He slammed his fist against the door release, closing the door before the enemy could reach the car. He then pushed '16'. There was an auxiliary weapons locker located on that level.
"It's not a game anymore," Casey said, her green eyes wide.
"It is not. Did you not sense the presence of the symbiotes?"
"I could feel something was off...I didn't have time to actually concentrate on it," she replied.
"Do you know who is invading the SGC?" Teal'c asked quietly.
"Give me a second." She reached out and took her best friend's hand. Comforted when the strong, square fingers squeezed hers gently. Centering herself, Casey felt herself drawn upwards...out of the mountain...above the Rockies...into the upper atmosphere. She could see the Prometheus and the Daedalus. Both ships seemed to be heading toward her position. She looked up...there was something not quite right about the view. It shimmered...wavered...Cloaked ship! That's a cloaked Goa'uld ship! Simultaneously enraged and terrified, Casey continued to move up. She searched around the edges of the ship. She could feel...anger. She examined the feelings, probed deeper. Listened to the thoughts that were echoing around her. Focused on one 'voice'. Oh, shit!
Her eyes snapped open. "It's Kali. She's in a snit because Daniel escaped." She cocked her head sideways. "No, not escaped...taken. He was taken. She thinks we took him, brought him home. She's..." Fire lit her green eyes. "Not with my man you don't," she hissed, staring at the ceiling. She looked at the surprised face of her best friend. "She thinks she's going to make Daniel her consort."
"I do not believe that will happen," Teal'c replied calmly.
"Neither do I, because I'll kill the bitch first," Casey growled.
"We must arm ourselves, and warn all others in the facility," Teal'c said.
"Right. Level sixteen it is!"
Doctor Felger was leading a half dozen of the civilian scientists who worked on level nineteen. He'd overheard General O'Neill giving the orders for a very 'special' training day. If he just had the chance...I'll prove what an asset I could be to their team!
"I don't think this is a game," Doctor Simon Coombs whispered.
"Of course it is! The general is just trying to make it as real as possible for that visiting bureaucrat," Felger hissed in reply. "Get down!"
The clanking of Jaffa saw three of the scientists scurry into the nearest room, hiding behind whatever was available to shield them.
Waiting until the enemy was close enough caused a nervous increase in his breathing. To his embarrassment, his left nostril began to whistle when he breathed out. Nothing to do but breath through his mouth, Felger thought worriedly.
The sound of movement had stopped. He peeked around the corner. Saw at least a dozen Jaffa looking around with what looked like confusion. "You'll never take us alive!" Felger shouted, jumping from his hiding place. He fired his water canon, completely drenching the two armored warriors closest to him. "Help me!" he screamed, looking over his shoulder.
Coombs rolled around the corner, his own water pistol adding to the puddle that was forming on the floor. Doctor Lee had a water canon similar to the one Felger had just emptied. He did his best to hit the Jaffa near the back of the group.
Doctor Carmichael, a computer-graphics expert who was working on virtual reality program that could be utilized in training SG teams in various scenarios without actually risking their lives, peeked from his hiding place. A relative new-comer to the mountain fortress, he wasn't completely certain that what Felger was doing had been approved.
"Don't just stand there! Fire!" Felger screamed.
Carmichael raised his water pistol...
Felger saw the man hesitate. "Computer geeks," he grumbled under his breath. He jumped, his intention to hit the opposite wall with his feet, grab the water pistol, and then roll into a firing position. He hit the wall with his shoulder, a loud grunt the result of his effort. He slid to the floor, cradling what he was certain was a broken arm. "Would you just shoot already?"
With a start, Carmichael began to pull the trigger, watching as the water bounced off the metal uniforms.
For their part, the Jaffa stood stunned. There could be only one explanation for the...odd...behavior. The liquid which had been sprayed at them with such vengeance could only be some sort of poison...or acid.
Retreating the way they had come, the Jaffa re-entered the stairwell just seconds before the door was locked, trapping them on the concrete steps.
"We must remove our armor,"one of the men said, watching as the clear liquid pooled beneath his boots.
"With our bare hands?"
"If it is acid, then it will burn through our skin all the faster."
"What if it is poison? What if our armor protects us?"another of the warriors asked.
"We must alert First Prime of the danger,"yet another warrior insisted.
The leader of the group led the warriors up the stairs. When the door refused to open, the Jaffa exchanged looks of worry...and fear.
General Hammond grabbed the microphone that would allow his voice to be carried on each level of the SGC. "This is General Hammond. We have a foothold situation. All lockdown procedures have been activated. This is not a drill. I repeat, this is not a drill. The SGC is under attack."
She'd been afraid before in her life. When the alarms had gone off, and it was announced that Jaffa were in the 'gate room, she'd wanted to run for cover. It wasn't until those Jaffa stood watching carefully...doing nothing...that she realized something was amiss. She'd listened as the general spoke to someone on one of the honest-to-goodness space ships that was orbiting the planet. When General O'Neill had raced into the room, his face pale, his eyes wide, she'd known then that something was horribly, horribly wrong.
Elizabeth Weir was, in that moment, absolutely terrified. Closing her eyes, she forced herself to take slow, steady breaths. Okay, these people are trained for this. Don't become a liability for them. Do something! With a final deep breath, she opened her eyes. "What can I do to help?" she asked, amazed at how calm her voice sounded.
Hammond glanced at her. "We should find a place for you to hide."
Weir shook her head. "If we're being attacked, I should help."
The general smiled. "If you could help Walter watch the monitors, the two of you can relay where the enemy Jaffa are located."
With a short nod, the blonde settled onto the chair beside the bespectacled man. "Just show me what to do," she said.
"Watch these four screens," Walter said, pointing to each in turn. "The enemy Jaffa are only on levels twenty-one to twenty-five so far. If you see anything that looks like a Jaffa on any of those screens, let me know."
"The Jaffa who were in here...the Marines-" she corrected herself.
"Training exercise," Jack said. "We try to make it as real as possible."
"Well, you managed to do that," Weir smiled.
"Had no idea we'd really be invaded," Jack admitted. "They used the transport ring."
"I know," Hammond replied. "I had just received word from Colonel Mitchell that an anomaly had been spotted above us, just before a transport beam was noticed."
"We have the iris on the Stargate," Jack groused. "We should have put something on the ring transport."
"Jack, I don't think anyone expected the Goa'uld to show up and use our ring transporter against us. When Ba'al attacked, not once did he attempt to use it," Hammond said quietly, sensing the anger and self-recrimination in his second-in-command. He knew that Jack would take personal responsibility for the lack of security on the transport ring.
"He was walking a fine line, sir," Jack replied. "Trying to keep from totally breaking the Protected Planets Treaty. Whoever is parked upstairs right now doesn't seem to care about that little detail."
"Zeus?" Sam asked, a worried frown on her face.
"As good a guess as any," Jack shrugged. "I'm going to gather whoever is on this level, get armed, and head up."
Hammond nodded. "Good luck, General."
"To all of us, sir," Jack said quietly.
Cam Balinsky and Jonas Quinn were already racing for the weapons that Daniel had 'stashed' in the work room.
"Just in case we're attacked," the archaeologist had said.
"What should we do?" Doctor Beth Meyers demanded, her eyes wide with fright.
"We'll try to hold this level," Cam replied calmly. "Jonas, see if you can get a line to the control room. If Hammond is there, that means the Jaffa haven't left the 'gate room yet."
Jonas nodded, and dived over two chairs to grab the telephone.
The others assigned to the archaeological level accepted the nine-millimeter Berettas that Cam was passing out. Magazines were slapped into place, and the nerve-wracking wait began.
Kali followed her personal guard down the corridor. Scoffing at those who had declared that taking the facility would be difficult at best, impossible if the invasion wasn't carefully planned. She had no idea that the ring transporter, which her Jaffa had located and utilized, was a new addition to the facility. And that her arrival would guarantee that it was never used against the SGC again.
"Find Daniel Jackson,"she snapped. "Bring him to me...do not harm him."
"And the others?"the First Prime asked.
It only took the Jaffa a matter of seconds to realize that using the elevators would be impossible, as they had no means of opening the doors. Even brute strength wasn't enough to make the steel doors slide apart.
"Take the stairs!"the First Prime ordered. Unaware that he was leading the Jaffa into a trap.
Kali waited impatiently, surrounded by her personal guard. She lifted her arm, and activated her communication device. "Report!"
Once in the stairwell, the First Prime realized that the doors for the other levels wouldn't open. There were no windows to break in order to reach through to deactivate the locks...the heavy doors appeared impossible to breach, particularly in the cramped spaces in which they found themselves. Nor were they able to return to the corridor from which they'd entered the stairwell. Within minutes he had determined that all of the Jaffa he'd sent to take over the facility were trapped, each group standing helplessly on landings and the stairs.
"The Tau'ri fortress is quite impressive,"one of the Jaffa murmured.
"Indeed,"another nodded. "I had not expected slaves to be so...intelligent."
The First Prime winced. He'd been told that the Goa'uld had technology which far surpassed that of the Tau'ri. Superior technology couldn't overcome well-defended and well-planned fortresses. For the moment, he and his men were going nowhere.
Thirty minutes had passed. According to the security cameras, the stairwell was full of enemy Jaffa. Level twenty-four was completely sealed off, and it looked as if the Goa'uld...a woman with long, raven hair and a totally pissed-off expression on her face...understood that she and her men were trapped.
Teal'c and Casey rejoined their teammates in the control room, sliding into the room, and tossing P90's at Jack and Sam.
"Radar, any ideas?" Jack asked, watching the monitors carefully.
The young seer studied the screen for a moment. "It's Kali," she said. Gave a slight shrug at Jack's look of surprise. "I did a little astral recon," she admitted.
"The bitch thinks we kidnapped Daniel back...she's convinced he didn't leave of his own free will...which he didn't...but she thinks we took him. And she has every intention of making my Husband her consort.'
"Crazy snake," Jack grinned. "So, any mumbo-jumbo ideas coming through?"
She cocked her head sideways. "As a matter of fact..."
Sam, Jack, and Teal'c immediately surrounded the young seer. Sam put her arm around Casey's shoulders. Jack put his arm around Sam's. Teal'c put one hand on Casey's back, the other on Jack's shoulder.
"What are they doing?" Weir asked.
"I believe they're assisting Mrs. Jackson," General Hammond replied softly.
Casey closed her eyes.
"Miss Eloise?" Casey turned in a slow circle in the sunny meadow.
The old woman appeared at her side. "Right here, Sunshine."
"We have a bit of a problem."
Miss Eloise appeared to be looking at the grass. She grinned broadly. "I'll say you do."
"We have them trapped...but what do we do with them? As long as they have access to the ring transport, she can keep bringing Jaffa down...and eventually they're going to figure out they can blow those doors off the hinges. Then we're screwed."
"Well, not screwed," Miss Eloise argued. "But it would definitely be a problem."
"We need to get rid of them...but how?"
Miss Eloise smiled. "Just think about the problem, Sunshine. Tell General Jack what you just told me."
"General Jack? Oh, he'll love that one!" Casey giggled.
"The answer lies within you...within the magic that is SG-1," Miss Eloise said.
"Right. I hate mumbo jumbo as much as Jack does."
The old seer cackled.
"Okay...stick around, just in case we come up with nothin'," Casey said.
"I'll be right here," the old woman promised.
Casey opened her eyes. "We have them trapped...but Kali has access to the transporter rings. Which means she can-"
"Keep bringing Jaffa down," Jack finished.
"And it won't take long for one of those tin men to figure out they can use their staff weapons to blow those doors apart," Casey finished.
"They're spread between five levels," Sam said. "That means spreading our defenses thin in order to try to stop them when...if...they get through those doors."
"Should just tell them to go back where they belong before we flood the stairwell and level twenty-four," Casey mumbled.
"Say what?" Jack asked.
Casey repeated her comment.
Jack hugged her tightly. "Radar, you're a genius."
"Really? I am? You're going to...wait a minute...we can't flood the stairwell or level twenty-four," Casey protested.
"Not with water, no," Jack said. "Well, we could turn on the sprinklers, but it would take a few hours for the water to get even knee deep."
"Gas!" Sam cried out excitedly.
"What do we have available?" Hammond asked immediately.
"I'm not sure," Sam admitted. "Let me check the inventory."
Everyone's attention remained focused on the monitors. On six different levels of the stairwell, at least one Jaffa was speaking into the wide, metal band around his wrist.
"Reporting in," Jack muttered.
"If they start conferring, they're going to conclude they need more Jaffa," Casey groused.
"Look!" Weir said, pointing to one of the monitors. The Jaffa on the stairwell landing of level twenty-six were carefully examining the door.
"We could be out of time," Casey said, tugging her lip between her teeth.
"Nitrous oxide!" Sam exclaimed. "There are three tanks on level twenty-one."
"That won't be enough to knock those guys out," Jack said. "The stairwell is too large for those tanks to completely fill the area."
"Illusions," Casey mumbled.
Teal'c moved one eyebrow up. "Indeed. If we merely announce that we are going to fill the stairwell with gas, perhaps the Jaffa will panic."
"What if we give them a chance to leave?" Casey asked.
"Come again?" Jack said, staring at the young seer.
"What if we unlock the door on level twenty-four, and use the intercom to tell them to leave before we flood the area with toxic gas?" Casey asked.
Hammond and Jack exchanged a look. "Don't know that we have many other options," Jack mused.
Ferretti poked his head into the room. "I have men waiting on levels twenty-six through twenty, sirs."
"Thank you, Major," Hammond acknowledged. "Can those men hold those levels?"
"Sure, if those Jaffa come through the door one at a time," Ferretti shrugged. "If they blow the doors off, they'll be able to fire at us same as we can fire at them."
"Sir, I suggest we at least try to spook 'em a little bit. If we could just confine them to level twenty-four we'd have a better chance of taking them out," Jack said.
"Let's give it a try," Hammond replied. "Colonel Carter, head up to level twenty-one. Help Doctor Fraiser get those tanks of nitrous oxide to level nine. Focus on just level twenty-four for now. If we can get that group knocked out, it might confuse the other Jaffa long enough for us to take them out."
"Yes, sir," Sam replied, on her feet before the general had finished speaking.
"Jack, let me...I want to let that bitch know she's messing with the wrong people," Casey said, nearly begging.
Jack grinned. "Sir?"
Hammond's grin matched Jack's. "Casey, do the honors."
Both fists were pulled back to her hips in one smooth motion of sheer elation. "Yes!" Settling into the seat Sam had vacated, Casey gave a wide smile to Walter, then pulled the microphone closer. "Hey, Kali!"
On level twenty-four, Kali started to hear her name. It seemed to come from nowhere, and everywhere. She scanned the corridor in which she stood. Located what appeared to be a speaker. "I hear you, Tau'ri," she called in response. "Surrender, and I will allow you to live."
In the control room, Jack and Casey exchanged incredulous glances. "Yeah, that's gonna happen, cupcake," Casey replied. "Let me tell you what you're going to do. You're gonna sashay your ass back to that transporter ring. You and your tin men are going to zip your asses back onto your ship. And we might...I'm not making any promises, mind you...but we just might not blow your hunk of Goa'uld junk outa the sky."
Jack was snickering loudly. Walter, who understood Goa'uld far better than he could speak it, translated softly, which had Hammond and the other control room techs chuckling as well.
"She's taunting that Goa'uld!" Weir whispered.
"Radar is one of the best snake-baiters in the SGC," Jack said proudly.
"It's a typical response to the threat from the Goa'uld," Hammond explained to the confused...and frightened...bureaucrat. "It also serves to irritate the Goa'uld. The further they can be pushed, the better the chances that they'll react as expected."
"I'm not sure I understand, but as long at it works," Weir replied.
Kali glared at the speaker. "You do not have the strength to defeat me!"
"Take a look around, cupcake," the disembodied voice taunted. "Seems to me we already have! Your tin men are locked up nice and safe in the stairwell. They're not going anywhere. You can't leave the level you're on...except for ringing back to your ship."
Her Jaffa had already reported that all of the doors leading away from the stairs and to the various levels of this fortress were locked tightly. Her First Prime was certain that staff weapons would destroy the doors. The danger, he had warned her, came from the fact that each landing was so narrow that any Jaffa using their staff weapons in such a manner would most likely be seriously wounded or killed by the inevitable backwash of energy as it hit the doors.
Looking around at the faces of those Jaffa who waited with her, waiting for her to give them orders, Kali bristled. "And just how would you destroy my ship?"
"Why don't you just give a little shout out to your boys who are waiting up there. Ask them what they see."
Casey looked over her shoulder at the two generals who waited. "I know we'd prefer to keep those ships our little secret, but it just might put the fear of god into Kali...and if she tells anyone, she'll have to describe ships large enough to defeat her, just to save face."
Jack chewed on his lip for a moment. "If the snakes know we're defending Earth, it might prevent any of them from getting too close."
Hammond sighed. "I don't believe any of us believed we could keep the existence of our fleet a secret from the Goa'uld forever."
Jack nodded at Walter. "Connect me to Ronson and Mitchell."
Only a few seconds passed before the two commanders of Earth's largest spaceships responded.
"Gentlemen, I want you to drop your visual shielding. Give that ha'tak a good look at you."
"Sir?" Mitchell responded.
"It's necessary, Colonel," Jack replied.
Jack nodded at Casey.
"Seriously, Kali...ask your boys on the ha'tak that's sitting above this mountain what they see,"Casey said.
With a snort of disgust, Kali raised her arm. Demanded a report from the captain she'd left in charge of her ha'tak. When she paled, it was noticeable to the cameras that she was still unaware of. Her heart was pounding. If her ship were to be destroyed, how would she escape the Tau'ri? She could not, however, allow her fear to show. She had to maintain as much control over the situation as possible...appear stronger, and calmer, than she actually was. "You would not dare to fire upon my ship. My fleet could destroy your planet!" she scoffed.
"Maybe. Right now your fleet isn't here. By the time it could get here, the Asgard would be waiting for you. Surely you heard about the last little incident...when Ba'al lost his snake mind and thought he'd take over the First World. The Asgard weren't amused,"Casey replied calmly. "I'm going to unlock the door for level twenty-four. That's where you are, by the way. You just tell your boys to fall back, and join you."
Her cheeks were already pale. The panic she felt at the mention of the Asgard reflected plainly in her amber eyes. If the Asgard did not destroy her, the other System Lords surely would. Particularly as she had yet to locate the Ancient weapon that she was certain existed. Quietly, Kali gave the order for her Jaffa to fall back.
"They're moving," Jack said quietly.
"That's good, Kali. Shows you're smarter than the average snake,"Casey said. "Now, we're going to let you use the transporter ring. You have fifteen minutes to get your boys and yourself back to your ship. After that, we lock it down, and your ass belongs to me!"
"Can you do that?" Weir whispered to General Hammond.
"Not at the moment," Hammond admitted. "However, I intend to have Colonel Carter and her staff working 'round the clock to come up with a method to do just that."
"These...Goa'uld...were able to use the ring transporter, because there's no...um..."
"Failsafe?" Jack asked.
"Yes," she nodded.
"Doctor Weir, most of the time we're operating by the seat of our pants, with little idea of what works or doesn't work. Fortunately for us, our 'trial and error' methods have resulted in a number of procedures that protect the SGC, and ultimately the Earth," Hammond said. "To be honest, the idea that a Goa'uld would, or even could, use our transporter ring to infiltrate the SGC never occurred to us."
"To activate the rings, you have to be nearby," Jack added. "After what happened with Ba'al, we didn't expect to have any snakes come slithering back so soon. And since he never bothered to use the rings, it just didn't come up during our debrief after that incident."
Casey was watching the monitor. Kali was among the last group to step into the circle on the floor of the 'ring room'. "Oh, Kali...one other thing. I'll cut you into tiny pieces before I let you turn my Husband into your consort. Just so we're clear on the subject, if you even try to get near him, I'll kill you with my bare hands."
The look of anger...and hatred...that colored the System Lord's face brought a satisfied giggle to the throat of the seer.
The flash of light from the ring transport room that signaled the final group of enemy infiltrators had left, brought sighs of relief from those in the control room. Walter silenced the klaxons, and began resetting the warning systems.
"Time?" Hammond asked immediately when the regular lights came up once again.
"Forty-seven minutes," Walter replied.
Weir gave the general a quizzical look.
"We keep track of the time from the beginning of crisis, until the event has been successfully ended," Hammond explained.
"That was...quick," Weir said.
"Sometimes we get lucky," Jack replied.
"So, are all of your training exercises so...invigorating?" Weir asked, smiling at Jack
"No, ma'am," Jack admitted. "Usually it's just us."
"I suppose you thought it would frighten me?" Weir asked, grinning broadly.
"Nope. But I did hope it would give you an idea of what really goes on around here. The fact that it's been so quiet for the past few days is a bit misleading," Jack replied unabashedly.
Weir began to laugh. "I've heard about your 'training days'. President Hayes informed me that he's hoping to be involved in one, as President Miller was."
Casey blushed brightly at the memory. "Involving President Miller wasn't intentional," she murmured.
Weir turned to face General Hammond. "I want to thank you for allowing me to visit. For letting me stay and learn so much about the SGC." She looked over her shoulder at Jack. "And for giving me a chance to see your people in action."
"That wasn't planned," General Hammond chuckled. "Doctor Weir, I'm glad we had a chance to get to know one another a bit better."
"Me, too," Weir smiled. "I'm going to get out of your way. I still have about three years of mission reports to read," she grinned. "I can do that in my office."
"I'll arrange for you to catch the next flight out of Peterson," Hammond offered.
Weir held up a hand. "Not necessary, General. But thank you for the offer. If I can just get a ride to the airport, I can handle it from there."
"Whatever you like, Doctor," Hammond replied.
Casey moved to stand beside Jack. Offered her hand to the political negotiator. "I'm glad you've learned about the real us."
"So am I," Weir replied softly, taking the outstretched hand. Her gaze moved around the room. "If any of you are in D.C., I expect at least a phone call!"
Smiles lit every face. "We'll let you buy us lunch," Jack grinned.
"It's a deal, General O'Neill," Weir smiled in return. With a nod, she left the room, heading for the elevator.
"If we ever need help, she's the one to call," Casey said softly.
"I think you're right, Casey," Hammond said. "Now, what about Doctor Jackson? If Kali was here looking for him, I take it that the second half of your vision has occurred?"
Casey nodded. "The guy has him. But not for long. Daniel should be home tomorrow, or the day after. As long as he doesn't beat the crap out of Tieel Mogba before they get here."
Jack snickered. "I'm betting Danny will be able...and willing...to wait to exact his revenge until he's home."
"He'd better," Casey sighed. "I'm so ready for all of this to be over!"
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