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Oh, shit! This is not good! Casey could see Teal'c...but with all of those Jaffa between them, getting to him wasn't going to be easy. She ducked down behind the baskets of food, hoping that the villagers would trust Daniel, and not give her away.
Luck was not with her. The arrival of the iron clad warriors had panicked the people, their own survival the only concern uppermost in their minds. The light haired man with the blue eyes behind round pieces of glass was not here, and his words of peace meant nothing in the harsh reality of Jaffa presence. One of the men caught sight of her, and began to shout, pointing toward the small hut.
Teal'c bit back a curse. If he fired on the Jaffa who swarmed around him, he would be captured as well. The men of SG-2 were nowhere to be seen...he could only hope that they, as well as the rest of his team, had managed to slip into the woods before the Jaffa had arrived. He glanced again at Casey. She'd been adamant about giving the candy to the child. He frowned. With her 'gift', she had to have known this would happen! The frown deepened. It seemed that she had no difficulties 'seeing' what lay before them, yet she'd said nothing of this. Was it possible that her gift of sight did not work when she alone was in danger? Or was there another reason...perhaps she had seen what was about to happen, had chosen not to say anything...he shook his head mentally. She'd never allow any of the teams, and particularly Daniel Jackson, walk into harm's way. He could only assume that she'd not anticipated this event.
The Jaffa reached down, grabbed her braid and yanked her to her feet, wrenched the weapon from her hand and tossed it to one of his companions. "Let go of me you overgrown tin can!" She fought, striking out against him, using her fingernails to rip at the skin of his face.
"H'as!" He tossed her to the ground, kicked her viciously in the ribs.
She cried out as pain, white hot and agonizing, ripped through her body. She tried to roll away, only to be kicked by another Jaffa standing off to the side. If she could just get to her feet...
Daniel felt his heart stop when he heard her scream. He stopped running, turned to look. Where the hell was she? She'd been right beside him...Jack had told them to head for the forest, and he'd done so...assuming that she was still with him.
Jack stopped, turned to look. "Where's Case?" he panted.
"She was right beside me," Daniel replied, breathing heavily as well.
"Teal'c isn't here either," Sam pointed out breathlessly.
"Ah, damn it!" Jack swore. "Let's go!" He turned, leading his team back toward the village.
When they reached the edge of the forest, what they saw made their hearts drop to their toes. There were at least fifty Jaffa moving around the cluster of houses. Those frightened people had been lined up, and were standing to one side of the square. Casey had been bound, hand and foot, and was lying on her side. Two Jaffa stood beside her. Teal'c was nowhere to be seen.
"Okay, we're going to follow them. Where they go, we go," Jack said firmly.
Damned straight! Daniel thought, his eyes never leaving his wife. Jack and Major Newsome struggled to hold him back when she was yanked to her feet, and then slapped repeatedly. He memorized the face of the man he was going to kill.
Her heart was pounding in her chest. Her cheeks burned from the repeated open-handed slaps that had been delivered with such fervor. This was not good. She didn't dare look around, didn't dare hope that her teammates, and her Husband, were just beyond the shadows, hiding among the trees, ready to spring to her aid.
"Where are those who were with you?" the Jaffa demanded.
"Haven't got a clue what you're saying," she lied. She understood the man perfectly. Her comprehension of Goa'uld far surpassed her ability to speak it, although Teal'c said that she was learning very quickly.
A single, bright light that seemed to originate in the clouds that filled the sky above them, and going straight into the castle that stood on the hill in front of them, had the villagers dropping to their knees.
Casey tried in vain to see the Goa'uld ship that she knew was above them. Okay, that explained this group of goons. They'd been ringed down as well, might have been in the battle that had raged within the walls of that castle yesterday. But she'd bet the farm that it had been done while the sun was rising, when the beam would have been most difficult to see. The clouds hadn't arrived, with their threat of rain, until almost noon.
Tossed over the shoulder of the Jaffa who'd held her steady as his leader questioned her, Casey bit back a moan of pain. She dared to look toward the bushes where she'd been, where Daniel had been, before that little girl caught her eye. She frowned. She could remember the sense of urgency, that the candy bar in her pack had to be given to the child, and right then. But why?
She closed her eyes.
The old woman was pacing in front of the castle. "Sunshine, I want you to remember two things. You can survive anything. No matter what happens, you can, and will survive it."
Stunned, her heart beating so hard it hurt, she nodded.
"Daniel loves you. No matter what happens, he will always love you." The old woman reached out and touched her cheek. "The path of The One is a difficult path. More so for his Beloved."
Her eyes flew open. Oh, goddess. She didn't have to 'see' to know that things were about to get very, very bad.
A A A A A A
"Teal'c, do you copy?" Jack asked softly.
Sam had inched forward far enough to grab Casey's abandoned pack. Her radio and ear piece were sitting on top of it. Why in the hell had she taken it off?
"I am here, O'Neill."
Thank god! He only had one of his kids to worry about. He glanced sideways at Daniel, took note of the pale cheeks, the wide, haunted eyes. Okay, two of his kids. "Where are you?"
"I am on the far side of the village from where you made your escape."
"Yeah, well, we're sitting just out of sight. What the hell happened?"
"Casey Jackson was in front of me, running beside Daniel Jackson," Teal'c's voice replied. "She suddenly stopped, turned to face a child who had emerged from the underbrush nearby, and dropped her pack. The child showed interest in her radio and ear piece. She unclipped both to show the little girl. Then she searched in her pack to find candy. By this time you, Daniel Jackson, Major Carter, and the others had disappeared. Before we could follow, Jaffa entered the village from three sides. Casey Jackson insisted that we needed to lead them away from the village. We were attempting to do so. One of the villagers saw her, and alerted the Jaffa."
Well, Jack thought, sighing heavily, I asked, didn't I? "So who just ringed down?"
"I believe that Ba'al has returned," Teal'c replied.
"I was afraid you'd say that. We're going to get into that castle, and get Casey out. We'll meet up with you in that little ravine to the south of it."
Without a doubt, the Jaffa was already on the move. Jack glanced around again. "Okay, campers, let's get to that monstrosity up there. We'll stay in the cover until it gets dark."
His entire body was shaking. Sha're had been taken from him, and had a freaking snake put into her head. If the same thing happened to Casey...he shook his head mentally. He couldn't lose her. He couldn't. Because she was his very heart and soul now. He couldn't live without her...without the warmth of her smile, the soft touch of her hand, the sweetness of her love. Icy fingers gripped his heart, and began to squeeze, until he was gasping for breath, the pain blinding in its intensity. "Gotta save her," he mumbled.
"We'll get her out of there, Daniel, that's a promise," Jack said. He glanced at Sam. Was certain that the worry that filled her sapphire blue eyes was reflected in his own. Daniel wouldn't survive losing Casey...wouldn't survive losing two wives to the Goa'uld.
A A A A A A
It seemed to take forever for the Jaffa to traverse the path from the village to the castle, although in reality it couldn't have taken more than an hour. She frowned slightly as they approached that huge gate. Even from the distance she could hear the distinct sounds of armor clinking. That place was crawling with Jaffa!
In the 'searches' she'd done, she'd been unable to actually locate Tem's fleet. These were Ba'al's Jaffa, she recognized the tattoos, so if they were here, that snake was somewhere nearby...it was even possible that the Goa'uld himself had been the new arrival. And he was still looking for those ships as well.
Her frown deepened. The keep had only housed a handful Jaffa. As large as it was, the men had been able to occupy one corner, and leave the rest empty. Using it as a maze for their victims to run through, trying in vain to find a way out before they were killed. But the ships certainly weren't in the keep. Where the hell did you stash your ships, snakeface? she thought irritably. Another thought skittered across her mind, one that made her shiver. Ba'al was bound to ask her that very question. And somehow, she didn't think he was going to believe her when she told him she had no clue.
Forced to her knees by the Jaffa who had dragged her into the room, Casey stared daggers at the man who sat on the wide, high backed chair. Her anger only seemed to amuse him.
"This woman was with the villagers," the Jaffa to her right said, bowing slightly toward his Lord.
One eyebrow went up. "I see. And just where did you come from?"
"Tacoma, originally," she shot back, without thinking. Damn it! Well, they knew she could speak Goa'uld now!
"I have not heard of this place," Ba'al said, frowning slightly. "To which System Lord do you bow your knee?"
"None," she growled. "Where I come from, we don't have snakes. My friends and I are out here getting rid of your sorry asses!"
He tossed back his head and laughed. Her spirit was unlike any that he'd encountered in many years. "You will serve me, now," he said, his eyes glittering. "All that you have known is no more."
That line sounded vaguely familiar. Oh, yeah. Tuoni. He'd said the same thing to her and Sam, just before his goons had dragged them away, and dragged Daniel in the other direction. "Do you guys all have the same speech writer? It's all really over the top."
He frowned, her meaning not quite clear. "Over the top of what?"
She rolled her green eyes. "Over the top, straight into crazy-land."
The frown deepened. Her eyes were full of fire. He had no doubt that she was being disrespectful. 'Crazy-land'? Was this near where she was from? He stood, walked to where she knelt. He had to admit, at least to himself, that her continued struggles, which forced the Jaffa to keep their hands on her shoulders, excited him. Taming her, taking this wild beauty to his bed, would be most pleasing. He stopped short when he drew close enough to smell the sweet scent of her perfume. "Hathor!" he hissed.
Hathor? "Oh, yeah, her. My Husband and friends killed her. Froze her like a Popsicle. I hear that snakes don't like the cold," she smirked.
He didn't sense any naquadah in her. She didn't carry Hathor. But she was certainly wearing the perfume that Hathor used to bewitch men. He glanced at his Jaffa. Their symbiotes would protect them from her. He, however, couldn't take the chance that his host would become addicted to this woman. The man hadn't stirred in years, but Ba'al had no illusions. It wouldn't take much to bring him out of hiding, especially if he believed he'd found a way to best his Master. An addiction of the host would be an addiction that he'd be forced to deal with. Which in turn would give the man a chance to fight him for control. Always an annoyance. And a distraction he didn't need right now. Even as he stood there, the other System Lords were banding together against him, angry that he'd taken so much of what had once belonged to Apophis. His only chance to declare himself the Emperor of all System Lords was to find the missing fleet that had once been commanded by Tem, the right hand of Ra. Until their little...falling out. He didn't have the details. Knew only that Ra had battled Tem, and other unnamed System Lords, and had soon thereafter been tossed off of the First World. Those who had risen against Ra had not been heard from again.
Ba'al paced around the young woman. She had knowledge of Hathor. Who'd had knowledge of Tem, might possibly have been one of his co-conspirators. And he wanted to know everything that beguiling bitch had known. "Take her to my chambers," he said coldly.
Yanked to her feet, Casey felt her heart fall to her knees. This was not good. This was not good at all. This time Daniel wasn't there with his trusty pocket knife.
The room was lavishly decorated. Well, now they knew why Ba'al had left. His first visit had shown him a castle nearly void of furnishings...at least every room she'd seen during her first 'visit' had been empty. He must have gone home and collected a few things to make himself comfortable, while his men searched for those ships. In the middle of the large room was a...device, she supposed. It looked like a spider's web. A metal spider's web. Her arms were stretched out and up, her wrists locked into manacles. Her legs were spread and her ankles strapped down as well. And the wait began. Sam and Jack had explained psychological warfare, and torture. She closed her eyes. Oh, this was so not good!
A A A A A A
Six hours had passed before Ba'al entered the room, stared coldly at her for several minutes. "You will tell me all that I wish to know," he said.
"Right. That's gonna happen," she retorted. Her body was in absolute agony. Determination and a healthy dose of hatred would prevent her from ever allowing the Goa'uld to know that, however.
He nodded. The Jaffa nearest to her slapped her. "Now, let us begin again. You will tell me all that I wish to know. Starting with your name."
"I'm the Angel of Death," she hissed. "And I'm here for you, snakeface!" Again the hand impacted on her cheek. Her face was still sore and bruised from the beating she'd received in the village.
"What is your name?" Ba'al demanded.
With a look of sheer hatred, Casey pressed her lips together. It would take a lot more than a few slaps to get anything out of her.
"The longer you resist, the more painful this will become," Ba'al sighed. She'd be an incredible asset. He could use her to addict any of the male System Lords, or their hosts at any rate. Which would cause them no end of grief. And keep them loyal to him. "If you tell me what I wish to know, I will send you to my harem. You will be well cared for. You will do as I ask, and your life will be...comfortable." The thought that perhaps she'd be a suitable host for his wife flashed through his mind. Then again, that Goa'uld had been caught conspiring with Nirrti, against him. Another thought crossed his mind. If she was cleansed of the perfume that permeated her hair and clothing, he would be able to take her. It would certainly be much more pleasant than watching that beautiful face bruised further. But first she must be taught a lesson. A lesson of obedience.
He raised his hand, the center of stone in the center began to glow.
Oh, hell. She'd seen those damned things. Daniel said that the pain was unbelievable, and coherent thought impossible when one was focused on you. She cried out when the first hot flashes of pain washed over her, the contact point of the beam had her skin burning. Mustn't give up...never surrender...She closed her eyes. Tried desperately to center herself, to call up all of the strength that she had.
Ba'al raised an eyebrow. There was something about this one. She continued to struggle, continued to resist him. "What is your name?"
Oh, god, it hurts! It hurts so badly! She screamed when it felt as if her head was about to explode.
"Tell me your name!"
"Casey," she gasped.
With a smirk of triumph, Ba'al lowered his hand. "Very good, Casey. Now. Where are your friends? And this husband you mentioned, is he nearby?"
"Go to hell," she gasped, her head throbbing.
His hand came up again. "Where are those you came here with?"
She turned her head. Only to have the Jaffa grab her chin and pull her face roughly.
"I do not wish to harm you," Ba'al said soothingly.
"Like hell you don't!" she spat. "You get off on it!" She looked pointedly at his crotch, where an obvious erection pushed against the pants that covered him.
The Goa'uld smiled. "It is not inflicting pain that arouses me so. But your spirited battle against me." He moved as close to her as he dared. "Know this, my beautiful little siren, you will tell me everything I wish to know. Then I will have you. Once you have been stripped of the perfume that clings to you."
Perfume? What the hell was he talking about? Had to be her shampoo. Daniel loved it. Her heart constricted in her chest, tightening until she gasped in pain as she thought about him. She had no idea if he and the others had made it to safety, or if they too, had been captured. No, if they had been, this ass wouldn't be demanding to know where they were. He'd be threatening their lives.
Ba'al picked up a small device, pointed it toward her. Activated the magnetic field that the web created. "Now, we shall...talk. Where are the others?"
She tried to turn her head. Still held in the vise-like grip of the Jaffa, she was unable to do so, she instead closed her eyes in defiance. They flew open as she screamed in pain. The knife was wedged deeply in her thigh.
"Do not fear, my beauty. I will see to it that no scars remain," Ba'al smiled.
"Go to hell," she managed to gasp. Watched as he lifted his hand, another knife between his fingers. When he let go, it flew across the room, lodged into her other thigh. She couldn't help but scream again.
A A A A A A
The keep was large. And it was clear that the Jaffa had taken her to one of the inner rooms. But Casey's screams of pain still echoed around them as they moved as silently as possible. Daniel was nearly beside himself with the need to get to her, to save her. He wanted to charge into the middle of the Jaffa who guarded the entrance of the massive stone building, kill them with his bare hands.
Jack glanced at the young man beside him. For the second time in his life, Daniel's wife was in the hands of a Goa'uld. Sha're hadn't been tortured. Teal'c had assured the young man of that. Well, except for the whole snake-crawling-in-and-taking-over thing. There was no way of knowing what Casey's fate might be if they failed to get her away from Ba'al. He clamped a hand over Daniel's shoulder when the archaeologist tried to rise up, ready to take every bastard on himself. "We'll get her, Danny," he whispered in the man's ear. "But we gotta be smart about it. They out number us too many to one."
SG-2 had managed to find places to hide among the shadows that covered the walls. Near the middle of the room was a stack of crates. It looked as if the snake was expecting to stay awhile, the older man thought. With hand signals, he led his team toward those crates, closer to the Jaffa who roamed about, near the door that led into that creepy stone structure.
Major Newsome watched the progress of the other team, one eye on them, the other on the Jaffa who seemed way too damned relaxed for his liking.
Once in place, SG-1 prepared to lead the attack. With luck, they'd surprise the small group here, and be able to hide again before re-enforcements arrived. A strangely familiar sound filled the air around them, split seconds before a shaft of bright light came towards them from above.
"Sonuvabitch!" Newsome whispered hoarsely. SG-1 had just been ringed up to Ba'al's ship! He motioned to his men. They had to get back to the caves and get SG-6 and -12. There was no way that the four of them alone could take on all of these Jaffa. Hell, even with SG-1 it would've been a damned risky proposition. Another scream of pain echoed around them. Angry, sick to his stomach at the thought of what Casey Jackson was suffering, he carefully led his men back the way they'd come.
Slipping back toward the village, their hearts pounding with fear, with anger, with frustration, they watched the people moving about, tending to everyday chores, carefully searching for any signs of Jaffa. There were none. Apparently these villagers posed no threat to those who were now in control of that castle. The men ran toward the river, not paying attention to the villagers who stared after them.
The undergrowth, while perfect for hiding in, for watching unobtrusively from, was too thick, too tangled to run through. So the men ran along the edge of the river, their feet soaking wet as the knee high water seeped into boots. Each step took more effort than the last as their fatigue began to wear them down.
A A A A A A
The team looked around. They were in a cargo bay. On a Goa'uld ship. "What the fuck just happened?" Jack demanded angrily.
"Ring transporter, sir," Sam replied. She tightened her hold on the P90 in her hands. Dared to look over at Daniel. He did not look good.
In shock over this most recent development, Daniel dropped onto his ass. No. No. No. No. NO! GODDAMNIT ! NO! He had to get back down there...he had to rescue his Wife! He had to! He bolted to his feet, ready to find the controls of the transporter rings. Two strong hands held him back, one on each side.
Teal'c watched the pain that flickered over the young archaeologist's face. Once again he had failed his good friend. He hadn't protected the man's wife. "I am sorry, Daniel Jackson." The words sounded inadequate to his ears.
"For what, Teal'c?" Daniel asked hoarsely, his eyes swinging to look at the man beside him.
"Once again I have failed to protect Casey Jackson."
Daniel shook his head. "Teal'c, you've never failed to protect her. You know what she said about being kidnapped."
"Indeed." Casey had been adamant about the fact that she and Cassie had had to be kidnapped in order to bring Kinsey down. Although, it would've been better if that particular mik'ta-ha had been arrested before escaping the leaders of the country he now served. "I should not have allowed her to stop," the Jaffa insisted.
A slight smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. "Have you ever tried to keep Casey from doing something she's set her mind to do?"
Teal'c's lips curved slightly as well. On one rather difficult mission O'Neill had claimed that Casey Jackson had 'written the book on stubborn', when she refused to leave a wounded local behind, even when he'd insisted he'd be able to survive on his own. They were slowed considerably by his presence, and narrowly escaped capture several times.
"Teal'c, she knew the Jaffa were swarming into that village. She was right beside me," Daniel said. "I should have made sure she kept running." But he hadn't. He'd trusted her to stay at his side. Why had she stopped? What in the hell had possessed her to choose that freaking moment to give candy to a child? What in the fucking hell had she been thinking? Now she was in Ba'al's clutches. She was being tortured. If she becomes a host...he pushed that thought away. Sha're had been taken. Had one of those damned things put inside her. He'd searched for three years, trying to find her. Oh, he'd found her all right. Big as a house pregnant with Apophis' child. God, he'd been devastated when he'd first seen her. But he loved her. Enough to try to get her to Earth while Amaunet was still...dormant. He'd failed. When he'd managed to find her again, the Goa'uld had damned near killed him. Had Teal'c not been there...Sha're had died that day. Amaunet did as well, of course. But he'd finally been forced to let go of the hope...the dream, of bringing his Wife home. Once again the Fates had conspired against him. Now his second Wife was in the hands of a Goa'uld. How in the hell was he supposed to survive now? Casey was his Destiny! Didn't that mean anything at all to the Fates that controlled the universe?
"We need to get off this damned thing," Jack growled. He didn't like the look in Daniel's eyes. Not one bit. The man was as close to the edge as he could get without falling over.
"I do not believe that to be possible at this time," Teal'c said.
"Because this vessel has just entered hyperdrive."
Daniel fell forward, his head hitting the cold metal of the floor. Oh, god, no! This is not happening! It is not happening! Cold, icy resolve began to take over. His Wife had been taken from him. By a fucking snake. Because he had fucked up. Been there. Done that. Damned near didn't survive. This time was going to be different. He didn't give a damn about the SGC, or Jack, or Sam, or Teal'c. Only one thought echoed in his mind. Save Casey.
"We'll get back there, Danny," Jack said soothingly. Flinched when the young man sat up and looked at him. There was death in those cerulean blue eyes.
"Damned straight we will. And we're going to do it before that motherfucker leaves the planet with her."
Sam shivered. She'd never heard Daniel use that type of language, nor had she ever heard his voice so cold. So...void of emotion.
Jack glanced at Teal'c. "How do we find out where we're going?"
"If we can make it to the engine room, we can access the navigational computer," Teal'c replied.
"Good. That's good," Jack nodded. "We'll find a 'gate, and get back through..."
"We don't have a GDO," Sam pointed out.
"Alpha site," Daniel muttered. "We get there, then back to the SGC. Then back to that fucking hole..."
Swearing. Daniel didn't normally swear. Not like this. The man was about to explode. Jack sighed mentally. No doubt he'd just waltz right down the corridor, take out any Jaffa stupid enough to cross his path. Yep, Danny was going to be a handful. "Let's go. The sooner we know where we're headed the sooner we can make plans to get to a 'gate."
They were moving as quickly and quietly as possible through the corridors. So far they'd only seen two groups of Jaffa. Teal'c had located a weapons locker, each of them were carrying zat'nik'tel. Each of them knew that they'd be firing the weapon at each enemy three times, they could leave no trace of their existence on the ship. There was always the risk that someone would notice that Jaffa were 'disappearing', but hopefully they'd be long gone before that happened.
Daniel had taken point. No one had argued with him as he moved ever forward, his zat taking out more than the others when Jaffa were encountered. He had one thought on his mind. Getting back to that damned planet where Ba'al was holding...was torturing his Wife.
Jack reached forward, put his hand on the young man's shoulder. Wasn't surprised when it was shrugged away. "We gotta be more careful, Danny," he whispered.
"I am being careful."
He rolled his eyes. "No, we aren't. We're taking too many out. We have to let them move on by us, or they're going to catch on that something's up. Then they'll be looking for us."
Daniel turned his icy gaze on his friend. "And the problem with that would be?"
He shook his head. "You're going to be able to free her from a cell on a Goa'uld ship?"
It was the first thing Jack had said that managed to penetrate the haze of anger...of frustration...of fear. He sagged against the wall. "Good point."
With a wave of his hand, Jack motioned Teal'c forward. "We'll get her, Daniel, I promise."
Jack never made a promise unless he was certain he could keep it. He took the words and wrapped them around his aching heart. They would get her, rescue her. Or die trying.
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