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Needle In a Haystack
Daniel opened his eyes. Gray ceiling, pipes...the infirmary! "Casey?" he whispered, his voice hoarse, his tongue sticking to the roof of his mouth.
"Well, hello," Janet smiled.
The smile faded. "Um...she's not here."
His heart fell. They'd been set to make their escape when he'd been discovered. He couldn't remember much, not after that asshole Jaffa had found him. The agony of being beaten. That he could remember! He had vague feelings of being carried...an open 'gate... Had Casey managed to get away? "Where is she?"
"How about letting me take a look at you?"
Janet wouldn't meet his gaze. "He still has her," he said flatly, his heart dropping to his stomach.
"We think so," the petite doctor replied softly.
"I have to-"
"You have to just lie here for a bit," Janet interrupted, her voice firm.
"How long have I been here?"
"About three days. You weren't dead, but damned close to it. I need to run an MRI. Let me see your hands."
He held them up. Barely remembered being hit with that metal bar...the memories of pain washed over him, made him gasp.
"Did that hurt?" Janet asked worriedly, as she examined his fingers.
"What? No," he said. "Just remembering."
"Try not to."
"Good advice. Who's looking for her?"
"Jack, Teal'c, and Sam."
He frowned. "No one else?"
"Not until we have more to go on. Right now the teams are revisiting every planet we've gone to in the past six years."
Daniel's frown deepened. "Why?"
"Because no one wants to walk through the 'gate without Casey's blessing. And this is the only way that General Hammond could find that would keep the president off his back, and the teams on the roster," Janet explained with a smile. "Think you can walk?"
"I'll try. What are you going to say about what I assume is a miraculous recovery?"
"That the medicinal herbs that Selmak sent to use did the trick. That I have no idea what they were, or where they're from, but desperation to keep you alive drove me to use them blindly...more or less," Janet said, giving him a wink.
"I thought so. Okay, here we go." She put her arm around his waist, waited until his arm was around her shoulders.
Daniel put his feet on the floor. For just a moment he thought his legs were going to betray him, but he managed to remain standing. He pulled himself completely upright. His body was fine, it seemed. His heart, however, was another matter. She was still out there, still being held on that ship, against her will...He closed his eyes.
"Daniel?" Janet asked, her voice full of concern.
"I'm okay. My body is okay," he amended. "I have to get out there. I have to find her!"
"Let's take it one step at a time. MRI, food, and then we'll talk about you rejoining the rest of SG-1 in the search."
Arguing with this particular doctor was an exercise in futility. It was best to just give in and save yourself the trouble. Sort of like arguing with Casey. That thought had his heart constricting with pain. He'd seen her...she'd been fine...pissed off about the situation, but otherwise okay. He'd spent two precious, beautiful hours with her...but that had been four days earlier. If Ba'al knew about the escape attempt...oh, god, what was she suffering now? Had that bastard raped her? Had he flown into a rage, beaten her? Decided that she was to be a mindless slave after all? "Casey," he whispered.
Janet said nothing as the name left his lips once again. He was absolutely right. His body was fine, she had no doubt about that. The MRI and other tests she'd run were merely props for the cover story. But his heart...and his mind...were still very much on the critical list.
A A A A A A
Selmak paced impatiently. She'd sent a message to General Hammond, requesting that Dr. Jackson return to the Tok'ra base as soon as possible. Osiris was up to something, and the only one who had a chance of finding out what that was just happened to be the man who Osiris was fixated upon...whom Sarah loved. A man who most likely hated both of them...former host and Goa'uld, or at least the Goa'uld 'personality'...by now.
Aldwin entered the room slowly. "I'm afraid the message is not...good," he said slowly.
'Shit!' Jacob groused.
'Language,' Selmak murmured, almost absently. "What is it?"
"Doctor Jackson was located, badly beaten. He has recovered, but..."
"But?" Selmak prompted.
"Casey Jackson was not with him."
'Shit!' Selmak cursed.
'Like I said,' Jacob growled.
"SG-1 found a papyrus near Doctor Jackson. They went to a planet listed on it, and learned that Casey had been with her husband when they, and two others, escaped. It seems a Jaffa was killed aiding their flight from Ba'al's ship," Aldwin continued.
"Then Ba'al must have followed," Selmak frowned.
"That is what General Hammond believes," Aldwin said.
"Contact our spy. See if we can find out where he is. If so, we will relay the information to the SGC," Selmak said.
Aldwin bowed his head in acknowledgement. "It would seem that this has been one situation that has gone from bad, to worse," he said quietly.
"Yes, it does," Selmak agreed. She stared in the direction of the room where Sarah was being held. A situation which had been created by the demented personality of a woman who'd suffered greatly as a Goa'uld host.
"General Hammond has agreed to send SG-1," Aldwin said, almost as an afterthought. "They will arrive within the hour."
"Good," Selmak replied. The sooner to find out exactly what Osiris was up to. To learn anything she might know about Ba'al, and his movements. And then...
'Sarah deserves our help,' Jacob said quietly.
'Yes, she does. But if she cannot control Osiris, then we may not be left with any other options.'
The Tau'ri sighed. 'I hate not having options.'
'As do I, Jacob.'
A A A A A A
Daniel stared at the general. "You want me to do what?"
"Selmak and Jacob believe that this Osiris personality is privy to all of the information that the real Osiris had. And that he...rather...she...might be able to tell us about Ba'al's activities, and where to find him," General Hammond said quietly.
There was the reason. The only reason to do as the Tok'ra requested. If he could find out where Ba'al was..."When do we leave?"
"As soon as you're ready," was the calm reply.
He looked across the table at Jack.
"Ten minutes, tops," his best friend said.
Daniel nodded, stood to his feet. "I'll meet you in the 'gate room in ten," he said softly.
His friends watched him leave the room, his shoulders hunched forward, his head down, his hands shoved into his pockets. They all ached for him. "I'm glad he saw her," Jack said in a hushed tone.
"As am I. It will be enough to see Daniel Jackson through the next few days without her," Teal'c said.
"Few days?" Sam asked.
"Indeed. I do not believe Casey Jackson will be away from us much longer," the Jaffa replied. Although he had nothing to base this 'feeling' upon. He silently hoped that perhaps it had been a 'message' from Miss Eloise.
"I hope you're right, Teal'c," General Hammond said softly. "Colonel O'Neill, if the question should arise, there is a facility where Ms. Gardner can be...kept."
Jack nodded. "Yes, sir."
With a nod toward the team, the general rose and returned to his office.
A A A A A A
Daniel looked at the calendar, not sure what day or what the date was any longer. Shook his head. Time stood still for him...raced past him with little to mark its passage. His days were filled with his fear that Ba'al had managed to recapture Casey, and had spirited her off to who knew where. Even more terrifying was the worry that the bastard had completed the Purification Ceremony, including the six preparation days.
A A A A A A
Casey picked at the food on her plate. The words the old woman had spoken continued to plague her. How could she, a total stranger, have known about the blue eyes that continued to haunt her?
"You must eat, regain your strength," Dartal said gently. In spite of the fact that the slender blonde beside him was his enemy, he felt himself drawn to her. Protective of her. If he ever had a daughter, he would wish for one exactly like her.
She gave him a small smile, put a piece of fruit into her mouth. Chewed slowly.
"Something troubles you," he sighed.
Don't let him know you doubt! that little voice whispered urgently. Don't let him know! "You'll think it's silly," she said, thinking as quickly as possible.
Dartal reached over and took her hand. "Never."
She said the first thing that crossed her mind. "I miss mother."
The comment was totally unexpected. For a few fleeting seconds, he began to miss the wife, the mother, who'd never existed! He smiled inwardly. If she could feel such emotions, convey such emotion that it affected him, then she was totally immersed in this illusion! "I miss her as well."
"She's been gone for so very long." Casey had no idea where the idea had come from, but it was serving the purpose...it kept him from knowing the true reason for her unease.
"Yes, she has."
Okay, so let's just keep this little game of make-believe going, she thought, watching him from beneath her lashes. "I'm all grown up now. It's all right if you want to...need to...seek companionship...for yourself."
He choked on the sip of coffee he'd just taken. A vice that he could understand, having now tasted it. Someday he was going to indulge in a latte. He'd heard they were very good. "I don't believe this is a conversation that is appropriate for a father and daughter to be having."
"Oh, Poppa, please!" The 'pet' name was out of her mouth before she could stop it. Careful, let's not get buried in the part, she scolded herself irritably.
"Ah...it's been a long time since you've called me that, Little One," Dartal crooned. He caressed her cheek with one large hand. Completely taken in by the illusion! And it had been so very easy! "And we are not having this conversation."
She smiled playfully. "All right. What conversation shall we have?"
"Well, since you have brought up the subject of...companionship...we shall discuss your marital status. Or lack thereof."
Uh oh. This could be a problem. "There is no one I wish to...spend time with," she said hurriedly. "I have loved once. The loss was too painful to ever want to go through it again. So we shall just grow old together, without the unnecessary burden of...other people."
He couldn't help but chuckle. "I do not believe 'other people' to be an 'unnecessary burden'."
"Then you'll find a nice woman to keep you company during the day, and your bed warm at night?"
"Ca...Ishtar!" Her comment had so startled him that he nearly lost control of the illusion.
For just one moment it seemed that everything around her had...flickered. There was something familiar about that...And what was it that he'd started to call her? Kay...Kay-something. She'd worry about it later. She gave him a look of pure innocence. Batted her eyes playfully.
For a moment Dartal regretted setting himself up as her father in this illusion, rather than her husband, or lover. No, that would become...distracting. "I think we shall just end this conversation," he declared.
"Good. You're being stubborn, and I'm not in the mood to deal with it," she sighed dramatically.
The laughter that welled up inside him was of the depth he hadn't experienced in millennia. He tossed his head back and roared. When he was finally able to bring himself under control, he wiped his eyes with the back of his hands. "You are the most impudent child a father was ever blessed with."
"I do strive so to be the most...or best, whichever."
Dartal raised her hand to his lips. "I am so glad you're here," he whispered, sincerely. A fact that should have given him pause. But didn't.
She watched silently, not daring to move lest he discover her. It wasn't easy. Casey was playing her part brilliantly. And all it had taken was one look into the seer's eyes to see that that was exactly what was going on. The strength of her gift was weakening the block that hid her memory from her. Soon it would be nothing more than shreds, and his illusion would crumble.
A A A A A A
Daniel glance around. There weren't many rooms left. The room where the Stargate remained, until the giant ring could be moved to the surface and put into the cargo bay of one of the ships the Tok'ra owned. The corridor, and three small rooms. And the room where Sarah...and Osiris...waited.
"I'm glad you came," Jacob said quietly.
He nodded. "Have you had any word from your spy on where Ba'al might be?"
"No," Jacob replied. "But we're hoping to hear soon."
"General Hammond says you want me to talk to Osiris."
"Osiris is insisting that she'll only speak to you. We know she's planning something. What we don't know is how much she has already put into motion. If she's already started to take over Anubis' holdings, it could bring the System Lords together against her. Right now, that wouldn't be such a good thing," Jacob explained. "We also want to make certain that Sarah continues to fight the Osiris personality. If she can, then there's a chance we can help her."
Again he gave a short nod. "Let's get this over with."
Jacob led him to the end of the corridor.
Sarah looked up, her gray eyes lighting up with pleasure. Then darkening as the thunderous look on his face registered in her mind. "Hello, Daniel," she said softly.
"I'm so sorry," she whispered.
"You have nothing to be sorry for. You didn't have anything to do with...things," he said gently. Just as the host Apophis had inhabited had had nothing to do with Sha're's abduction...her pregnancy...her eventual death because of Amaunet.
"I didn't know, I swear I didn't know! If I could help you-" She gasped, put a hand to the side of her head. The pain was nearly intolerable.
"You're looking well, Daniel."
He could tell the difference in an instant. The haughty way she tossed her head. The way her eyes narrowed slightly. The way her back stiffened. "You must be the Osiris bitch who has caused so much trouble."
She made a 'tsking' sound. "Not the way to speak to your god, and Beloved."
"You're no god, and you sure as hell aren't my Beloved!" Daniel spat.
Had she not been so near the edge of insanity, it was possible that the part of Sarah Gardner that had taken on the personality of Osiris would have seen the burning hatred in those blue eyes. But she was teetering on the brink. And so missed a vital signal of what was about to come. "Daniel, please, listen to me. Together we can protect Earth! We'll be the ones to end the fighting...all the wars and the poverty and the hunger...don't you see? One strong leader is all they need!"
"No! It could work! I know it could! Together, we'll stand together. I'll rule in the name of Osiris, and none of the System Lords would dare to move against the First World...we'd be protecting it, and making it better...it would be perfect!"
"Of course, everyone on the planet would have to agree to worship you."
"It would be expected," Osiris replied.
"Don't you see, Daniel, it's the answer to your prayers! You've been fighting the Goa'uld for years...now you won't have to!"
"Earth isn't the only planet in danger. There are people out there who are slaves to the Goa'uld. We're out to help them as much as we are to protect Earth," Daniel said coldly.
"The others are not your concern!" Osiris snapped.
Back off, he thought. Find out what she knows. "If I was interested in this plan of yours-"
As soon as he spoke she left the cot where she'd been sitting. Stood as close to the force field as she could. "Are you?"
"If I was," he repeated, "just how can you guarantee that none of the System Lords will challenge you?"
She smiled. "Because, Daniel, my Beloved, I know all of Anubis' secrets."
"He was creating warriors. I'm not sure exactly where he had them hidden. I have my Jaffa looking for them. But I know the secrets of how those very...special...warriors are created."
Daniel frowned. If Sarah, or rather, Osiris, knew about the Kull warriors, but not the location of that now totally destroyed secret laboratory, it was a safe bet that none of the other snakes knew either. And with Anubis and his penchant for 'disappearing', they might not be aware that he was dead. Until Osiris decided to start calling the shots. Which would bring them together in an attempt to get rid of her. The more often that happened, the more likely they were to join forces on other fronts. Such as defeating the Tok'ra, and the Tau'ri. Definitely not a good thing! "I'm surprised Anubis told you."
Osiris laughed - Sarah's deep, throaty laugh. "He didn't tell me. But one of his little scientists did. It's amazing what you can do with a memory device, and a bit of time."
He shuddered, wondering if Ba'al was using a memory device to brainwash Casey. "So I've heard."
"Darling, don't you agree that my plan is absolutely perfect? And if you want your little SGC to continue, well of course I'll allow it. I'll even work with you. We'll go on digs, just like the one in Egypt-"
"No. Where is Ba'al?"
"I have no idea! I have been cooped up in here, you know. Oh, I need for you to bring the vat of symbiotes in. They took Karinda from me, and that bitch turned her back on me and blended with someone else-"
"Not happening. If you don't know where Ba'al is, I have nothing to say to you." He turned and walked away, leaving Osiris gaping after him.
"But I love you! It's all going to be perfect! And we'll be together, just like I've always planned!" she screeched behind him.
Jacob was waiting for him. "Well?"
"Seems she thinks she's going to take over Earth. Be the 'savior' that the people need. She also knows how to create Kull Warriors. She doesn't know that we've destroyed that lab and all of his creations."
Jacob frowned. "Karinda knew. Sarah knew..."
"What Sarah knows, Osiris doesn't necessarily know," Daniel said. "Which means that this...split, has been fairly recent. Osiris seems to know everything up until a few months ago. If Sarah was in control, maybe with Karinda's help, Osiris was kept from 'seeing' or 'hearing anything'."
"What would have been the catalyst that triggered this final, seemingly permanent split?" Jacob asked.
"I have no idea," Daniel murmured. Pushed down the memory of ranting at her when Casey had been handed over to Ba'al during that disastrous meeting between him and Anubis. He'd deal with that guilt later. After Casey was home, safe and sound.
Osiris was still standing next to the opening. She could make out most of what they were saying. Well, well, well...Anubis had lost his lab? It was an inconvenience, but nothing that couldn't be overcome.
"I don't know what more I can do," Daniel said. "To be honest, I really don't want to be around her. I look at her, hear her talking like that, and all I can think about is strangling her."
"I understand. We appreciate what you've found out."
"Please, Jacob, don't ask me to speak to her again. Not even if it's Sarah. I can't do it. I'm going crazy worrying about Casey. That...bitch...is the reason my Wife is missing! I despise her, Jacob, her very presence sickens me. No, not just despise...I hate her! And I'm telling you now, that I won't be responsible for what will happen if I'm ever within arms reach of her again." Daniel started down the corridor again. "I'm going to look until I find my Wife. I won't stop until she's back in my arms where she belongs!"
The words were like ice water down the eavesdropping prisoner's spine. It would have been better to have planned a little 'accident' for his wife, she thought frantically. Then he wouldn't have held out hope of finding her...of getting her back. If she'd died, he'd have gladly come to her side, she was certain...If Daniel wouldn't help her...
"I hate her....I hate her...I hate her..."
Daniel's voice, and his words, echoed repeatedly in her head, getting louder and louder each time. If she couldn't get a symbiote, she'd never be Osiris. It was all falling apart...she could hear Sarah crying as his voice continued to ring in her...their...head. She could feel her heart breaking...Sarah's heartbreak, not mine, she thought desperately. I am Osiris! she screamed mentally. I am Osiris! I am the greatest of all Goa'uld! ...
Sarah heard the screams of anger. Goa'uld were the enemy! They were horrible creatures who did unspeakable things to innocent people...
The struggle for control began to rage in earnest. In desperation, unwilling to live as a prisoner in her own mind any longer, especially if her tormentor was a twisted, evil part of herself...a result as her time as a Goa'uld host...Sarah staggered toward the tray that held the remnants of her evening meal. She grabbed the fork, stabbed it into the flesh of her inner arm, just below her wrist. Bit through her tongue in an attempt to keep from screaming out. She didn't want them to find her...didn't want them to try to save her. She had to do this...she had to! If she didn't, and Osiris was able to defeat her...she dragged the fork along her arm, opening up the veins as best as she could. Gasping for breath, blood dripping from her arm and her mouth, she repeated the process on the other arm.
Osiris raged, managed to regain control of the body long enough to grab the pillow, hold it between her bleeding arms. Just apply pressure, just enough pressure to keep from bleeding out... She tried to call for help, only to discover that her tongue was so swollen she couldn't move it.
Sarah continued to fight, pushing against the anger, that hateful entity with all of her might. At last she felt 'something' give, and suddenly, she was alone in her mind once again. She couldn't feel the anger...that seething rage that had been there for so long. She dropped to the floor. She was mentally exhausted. Her body was growing weaker with each passing moment. She wasn't even aware of the pool of blood around her as she rested her head against the wall behind her.
Her fingers were sticky...she looked at them, trying to figure out why...oh...blood...so much blood. She smiled sadly. Carefully traced her finger over the wall beside her head. The effort was almost too much. She closed her eyes.
I am Sarah
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