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Picking Up the Pieces
Casey was sitting up in the bed, sipping on a cup of coffee when he walked through the door, rubbing the back of his neck absently with one hand, the other shoved into the pocket of his BDU pants. His face lit up, his smile making her heart flutter in her chest. "Hey, Handsome."
"Hey, Gorgeous." He crossed the room, dropped a kiss on the top of her head. Noted that the bandage that had covered the cut there was missing. "How did the doctor explain that to her staff?" he asked, genuinely curious, as his finger moved over the flawless and now completely healed skin.
"She didn’t. She just said that looks could sometimes be deceiving, something about them not needing to know...and then she made a comment about contact with alien races. That sort of made the nurse and the two medics who were in here at the time do the ‘aha thing’," Casey replied. "She really did tell them the truth...sort of. She just didn’t give them any details to completely clear things up."
"Best to stick with the truth whenever possible," Daniel smiled. "How are you feeling?"
"A little sore, but otherwise all right. How are you? Have you been sleeping? Did you eat breakfast?"
His smile widened. Her concern was mirrored in those heart-stopping green eyes. How absolutely amazing...how positively wonderful...that she loved him enough to be worried about him! "I’ve been sleeping beside you. Just went down to grab a quick shower. Doctor Lewis has been great about bringing meals to us, although she makes us go to the mess hall for breakfast," he responded. "Either Jack or Sam would go to the mess hall and grab coffee when we needed it," he added.
"Well, according to the doctor, I can take a shower...as soon as Sam gets here. She doesn’t want me alone, in case I get dizzy or something," Casey reported. "Then, breakfast. At least she let me have my coffee now."
Daniel grinned. No doubt his Wife had been damned grumpy about getting coffee...had probably demanded a cup or threatened to find one for herself. "Is she going to let you out of here?"
"She is," a voice said from the doorway. Grinned when the two pairs of eyes focused on her. Her gaze went to Casey. "I still want you to take it easy. But from what I could see when I did my exam this morning, all of the bruising is gone. Which leads me to believe that everything else is fine now, as well."
"Good. My butt is getting numb."
Doctor Lewis laughed. "That was on the list of complaints that Janet typed out for me."
"Janet was certainly thorough," Daniel mused.
"Apparently taking care of SG-1 has been an experience that she’s decided to share with any other doctors who might be in the position to have to deal with you."
Casey giggled softly. "Our reputation is biting us in the ass."
"Seems to be," Daniel smiled.
Sam and Jack stepped into the room, after discreetly spending the night together. "Radar!"
"You look much better today," Sam smiled.
"Feel better, too. The doctor says I need a babysitter if I’m going to take a shower."
"I’d be glad to offer my services," Daniel teased.
"I’m sure you would," Casey retorted. "And while I would appreciate all of your very kind and considerate help, I’m not so certain the other female members of the crew would be as happy about having you in the women’s locker-room."
Sam laughed. "Come on, girlfriend. I’ll babysit."
Casey tossed back the sheet that covered her legs, maneuvered herself to the side of the bed. Put her feet on the floor and slowly stood, clinging to Daniel for a moment.
"Radar?" Jack asked, worry in his voice.
"I’m fine, boss. Floor is damned cold, though."
Doctor Lewis opened a drawer, took out two items. "These will help your feet," she said, offering a pair of soft slippers. "And this will cover your backside"
Daniel held the second johnny as his Wife slipped her arms through the openings. Knelt down and slipped the socks onto slender feet. "Do you think the female members of the crew would object if I escort you to the women’s locker-room?"
"I don’t care if they do or not, I want the escort," Casey replied, smiling up at him. She slid her arm around his waist. "But I don’t think they’ll mind at all."
"When you’re finished, come back and let me take another look at you," Doctor Lewis said.
Casey nodded. "Then breakfast."
With luck, she’d actually eat a decent amount for breakfast, he thought. No doubt she’d managed to lose the pound she’d only just gained the week before. He wouldn’t complain, Daniel thought. There were no hollows in her cheeks. He couldn’t feel her ribs, nor had they been any more noticeable than usual when he’d bathed her the day before. "Let’s go. Maybe the cook can whip up a batch of French toast."
"Oh, that would be awesome. Right now I’ll bet I could eat an entire loaf of bread!"
Daniel glanced over his shoulder. Grinned at his teammates. If she ate two full pieces, he’d be happy. And surprised. "I’ll warn the cook," he teased.
Showered, dressed in a BDU and thrilled to be so, Casey found Daniel leaning against the wall across from the door. "You didn’t have to wait here, I could have met you in the mess hall," she said softly.
Broad shoulders flexed in a shy shrug. "I wanted to be here. Where’s Sam?"
"Drying her hair. She waited until I was finished to take her shower. And she sat and watched while I dried my hair," Casey said. "She took her babysitting duties seriously."
"I’ll have to thank her for that," Daniel murmured. "You’re feeling okay?"
"Just hungry," was the immediate response. "So, what did I miss?"
Daniel smiled, and began to tell her all that had transpired - from finding her at the bottom of the pit being stoned, to crawling out with the help of the Marines who had accompanied him to the planet, and the ropes he’d had beamed to ‘drop’ beside them. The fact that the ‘throne’ left for Gaillard had been the captain’s chair from the bridge of the Daedalus, which Casey found amusing, and the plan he’d devised for freeing the villagers from Gaillard’s tyrannical rule. Blonde eyebrows went up at the news that Ba’al had been located.
"After all the time he spent hiding, he’s just sitting there?" Casey asked.
"He’s up to something," she murmured.
"What is Ba’al up to?" Daniel asked gently, not sure if she’d ‘seen’ something, or was simply voicing her opinion.
"Damned if I know. But you can bet it’s not good, whatever it is," she replied.
He couldn’t help but grin as he followed her into the large room that served as the ship’s dining room. "Well, that’s just a given. He’s a Goa’uld, after all."
"Sneakiest, most conniving snake of the bunch," Casey said. She followed her Husband to the counter that served as both work space and a place for crew to place orders for their meals.
Breakfast ordered, mugs of coffee in hand, Daniel led her to the table in the corner that had become, through unspoken agreement, SG-1’s table. They had barely settled into their chairs when their teammates joined them.
"So, Radar, any idea whether or not we’ll get Balls on his ship?" Jack asked, sipping his coffee.
"Nope. Wouldn’t it be easier to find that scepter on the ship, since we have an idea where to look?" she asked in return.
"In theory," Jack replied. "His new palace would be an unknown."
"But, with the Daedalus cloaked, we could scan the palace," Sam offered.
"Really?" Casey frowned for a moment. "Might be better to wait until he’s moved in, then we don’t have to risk running around to find that darned thing. You know he’s probably moved it, just to piss me off."
Daniel chuckled. "Given our luck, I’d say that’s highly likely."
"Thing about the ship is," Jack drawled, "there are only a few places he’d stick the thing. In his palace, who knows where he’d put it?"
"Up his ass comes to mind," Casey grumbled beneath her breath.
"Eww. No thanks. We have to work with it, remember?" Sam objected, shuddering visibly.
"Can I at least whack him over the head with it?" Casey inquired, her green eyes dancing with mirth.
"A dozen times or so," Jack nodded. "Just to make sure it’s the real deal. The Ancients wouldn’t have made something that would fall apart the first time it cold-conked a skull."
Daniel snorted, nearly spitting the swallow of coffee he’d just taken. "I’m almost feeling sorry for Ba’al."
Casey’s eyes went wide. "What on earth for?"
"Because by the time you and Jack...and Sam...get finished, you’ll have his ship in shambles, Sam will have 'salvaged' everything she can lay her hands on, and Jack will hold him while you hit him with that scepter."
"And you have a problem with those facts?"
He grinned at his Wife. "Nope. Just saying that it almost makes me feel sorry for him."
"Yeah," Jack nodded. "Just think how embarrassing it will be for him when all of that hits the Snake Times."
"Indeed," Teal’c said, his cheek twitching noticeably. "However, Ba’al will be able to find sympathy from Zeus."
The laughter that erupted from the table had the others in the room looking over at the team, smiles on their own faces.
Jack grinned, then took another sip of coffee. "Seriously, we need to determine exactly where the snake will have that scepter."
"If it’s not in that storage bay, I have no idea where he’d hide it," Casey sighed.
"We have you, remember?" Sam smiled.
"Right." A slight frown tugged at perfectly arched blonde eyebrows. "Although, if it’s not in the storage bay, he might have it in that workroom."
Daniel’s frown matched that of his wife. "He did seem to have a lot of artifacts there, didn’t he?"
"I don’t think his scientists are very smart," Casey mused. "Or he’d have known exactly what he had."
"You’re talking about that workroom where he had you translating that tablet?" Sam asked.
"Yep," Daniel nodded.
"Then we have two possible hiding places," Jack conceded.
"I don’t remember seeing any other ‘hiding places’," Casey admitted. "Although I was too busy looking for a way to escape, so I really didn’t pay close attention to all of the rooms."
Jack heaved a sigh. Sat back in his chair when one of the mess cooks put a plate of pancakes in front of him. Waited until the rest of the team had been served, and the cooks had retreated to the galley. "We’ve got plenty of time to worry about Balls later."
"True," Casey nodded, buttering the stack of French toast on her plate. She glanced at Sam. "You should see what they found in the Antarctic. It will help you."
Sam jerked slightly, nearly spilled syrup on the table. "They found something?"
Casey blinked slowly. "They did?"
"You just told Sam that she needs to see what they found in the Antarctic," Daniel said, snickering slightly.
"How nice. What did they find? And who is 'they'?" Casey asked, not a little frustrated.
"No clue, and I’m assuming the crew of the Prometheus," Daniel replied.
Casey’s green eyes rolled upward. "Do not make me come up there!" She gave a quiet ‘harrumph’ when her teammates laughed loudly. "It’s damned annoying, ya know."
"I know, Angel," Daniel said, taking a deep breath. He looked at Jack. "Think we should let General Hammond know?"
"Absolutely. After breakfast. We won’t be in orbit for at least ten more hours," Jack replied.
With their next ‘task’ decided, the team felt relaxed enough to thoroughly enjoy their meal, lingering over coffee long after the rest of the crew had returned to their duties.
A A A A A A
If General Hammond was surprised to be informed by his premier team of information that he’d only just received, the reports still on his desk, he never let on. "The Prometheus had positive results on their scan for naquadah. Colonel Ronson reported what seems to be another cavern about one hundred feet due east of the cavern where you and Major Carter were trapped. SG-13 beamed into that cavern not more than an hour ago."
"I’m guessing they must be the ‘who’ Radar was referring to," Jack replied, silently speculating that beaming an SG team into the cavern obliterated the need to have an expedition fly into McMurdo base, and avoided all of the unwanted scrutiny that such an event would create.
"I agree, colonel. I haven’t received any reports from that team, so I don’t know what they have, or haven’t found," the general admitted.
"If memory serves, that cavern was a good fifty miles from McMurdo," Jack said.
"Which is the reason I had 13 use the Asgard beaming devices to enter the cavern," Hammond replied. "Doctor Lee suggested that using the rings could destabilize the ice on the mountains. And, there’s no need to incite any interest in that area. Those caverns were sealed when the exploration expedition pulled out."
"Too bad the president at the time wasn’t more successful in getting funding for that little project," Jack said wistfully, noting that the general’s response had confirmed his suspicions completely. "We’d probably already have whatever it is that’s there."
"Probably. At least the locals at McMurdo won’t be alerted to our presence now."
"As soon as the Daedalus is in orbit, contact SG-13. There should be cold weather gear on the ship that you can utilize."
"And colonel...good work on getting that chair. Colonel Mitchell reported that the mission was...difficult."
Jack shoved the images of Casey being stoned to the back of his mind, the accompanying rage leaving him shaking. "Difficult," he repeated, his voice raspy. "Thought we were going to lose Radar," he admitted quietly.
"So I heard." Hammond’s voice was just as subdued.
Giving himself a sharp mental shake, Jack physically shook his head. "She’s fine, sir. And already getting pissy about having to deal with Balls."
Hammond chuckled. "No doubt."
"What about that doohickey we’re supposed to find in Arizona, sir?" Jack asked.
"From what I’ve been able to determine, there have been numerous holes dug in and around the meteor crash site. Doctor Coombs has informed me that there are three ‘bore holes’, as he called them, within a few feet of the device. He suggested sending a robot in to burrow to the device, and to retrieve it. Doctor Lee is in the process of locating the equipment needed for the project."
"Whatever works, sir," Jack replied. He didn't want to hear all the details. He’d never remember them anyway.
"We’ll worry about that after you’ve examined whatever waits for you in Antarctica," Hammond said firmly.
"Contact me as soon as you’re in position."
Jack sat back. Stood to his feet, gave a lop-sided smile to the communications officer. "Thanks," he murmured.
"You’re welcome, sir."
"Colonel, I need to get my kids ready to play in the cold," Jack said to Mitchell.
"Plenty of gear in supply, sir," was the quick response.
"Good. If you’d be so kind as to have them meet me there, I’d be obliged."
"Consider it done." Mitchell nodded at the comm officer, and almost immediately the corridors echoed with the page for SG-1 to meet Colonel O’Neill in the Daedalus supply room.
From what he could remember, that cavern had been damned cold. Jack shivered slightly. At least this time he wasn’t wounded, nor would they be trapped there. Not with two honest-to-goodness space ships in orbit above them...both capable of ring transportation, and both having those nifty Asgard doohickeys. He was definitely taking a thermos of coffee, though. No doubt he’d wind up sharing it with Radar.
A A A A A A
"Colonel Dixon, this is Colonel O’Neill," Jack said, speaking into his radio as the team stood ready on the ring transporter of the Daedalus, making certain the beaming devices, engineered from the original Asgard devices, were firmly attached to their collars..
"Howdy, sir. Planning to drop in on our little expedition?" the colonel’s voice asked.
"That’s the plan," Jack replied.
"Sending coordinates...now," was heard through the radio.
A few seconds later the transporter tech nodded. "I have them."
"Stand back, Dix, we’re coming down," Jack warned the team on the planet beneath them.
"Standing back, sir."
With a nod at the technician, Jack joined his team on the transporter ring pad. It had already become habit to stand there, whether the rings were used, or the Asgard devices were being utilized. It offered a sense of 'routine normalcy' to something that was nothing less than mind-bending. Five simultaneous flashes of light, and SG-1 disappeared.
Casey glanced around. It was a cavern, all right. It was big, there were a few rocks visible, but for the most part, all she could see was ice. "Okay, so we can add ice caves to the list of places I’d rather not be," she said drolly.
"So noted," Jack mused. He wasn’t too thrilled to be there, either.
Sam shivered slightly. Memories raced forward, unbidden and unwelcome. She sought the gaze of the man she’d nearly died with, just a few hundred feet away in a cavern exactly like this one. Couldn’t help but smile at the crooked grin he gave her.
"Have you located anything?" Daniel immediately asked Cam Balinsky.
"Not yet. Scans from the Prometheus indicate something...just beyond that wall," the archaeologist replied. "So far all the hand scanners are picking up is ice."
"No rock?" Sam asked, moving to look over the red-head’s shoulder.
"Not that the scanners can detect."
"So it’s possible that the caverns in this mountain are all connected, the only thing sealing them is the ice?" the astrophysicist asked.
"I’d say it’s highly likely," Cam said. "What concerns me is the weight above us. There’s at least fifty feet of ice covering this mountain. That’s a lot of pressure, and if this mountain is ‘hollow’, the only thing keeping it from caving in would be the ice that’s filling in the caverns. We’ll have to be careful about drilling through the ice to reach whatever is on the other side."
Daniel nodded. Cam had a degree in geology as well as archaeology. It had been, Cam had told him, a degree he thought would be useful to an archaeologist. It was certainly beneficial now!
Casey shuddered visibly, her eyes going wide as she peered at the ice above them.
"Radar?" Jack asked gently.
"Can we just do this and get the hell out of here?" she said, her voice quavering slightly.
Moving closer, wrapping his arm around her shoulders, Daniel tugged her against his side. "It’s okay, Angel. We’ll get this thing, and be out of here in an hour or so."
"I want that in writing," she huffed nervously.
Cam started the motor of the chainsaw that had been sitting on top of two boxes of equipment. "Let me open the door," he said, tossing a grin at the seer. He turned his attention to his teammates. "Get the two-by-sixes ready. We’ll use them to prop up the ice around the hole I cut."
Dixon and the others nodded their understanding.
"Can a few boards really support that much ice?" Casey asked.
"The boards don’t have to support all of the ice," Daniel replied. "They’ll just prevent the ice from shifting to fill the hole."
"Actually, it could take years for that to happen," Sam added.
"We’ll be long gone before anything starts moving in here," Jack promised.
Chunks of ice fell to the frozen ice and rock covered floor of the cavern as Cam worked. He kicked them out of his way. When he’d managed to cut a hole six feet high, three feet wide, and two feet deep into the ice, he stopped the blade of the saw, stepped back while his teammates shoved the heavy wood boards into place, nailing them together in order to make a threshold.
Waiting had always been the hardest of all tasks, whether waiting to embark on a mission, for an attack, for rescue from a bad situation...or waiting for a passage way through ice to be completed. The members of SG-1 shifted from one foot to the other uneasily as Cam slowly made progress.
The change in the pitch as the saw blade cut through the ice alerted the teams that the wall between the caverns had been breached. Another ten minutes, and the first humans in millennia to even be in the cavern were stepping into the adjoining ‘room’.
"Holy Hannah!" Sam breathed.
What appeared to be two pillars - exactly like those on Goa’uld ships, which contained the crystal circuitry to control the systems of the ship - were visible beneath a thin coating of ice, standing off center in the cave. In the very center of the room was a raised platform. On one side of that platform was a chair, almost identical to the one that SG-1 had just ‘liberated’ from the primitive inhabitants of a plant in the Triangulum star system.
"Ya know, it’s a damned good thing no one has ever made it down here," Jack said quietly.
"We have to take it all, don’t we?" Casey asked.
"Yep. Sooner or later those folks at McMurdo are going to find these caverns. And when they do, we don’t want them to find Ancient technology."
"I suppose not," the seer agreed with a sigh.
"Radar, is this all there is?"
She closed her eyes. Reached out to feel what she could see. Then began to gently search around them. "I can’t sense anything else. And whatever that thing is...it doesn’t work. No power."
Sam moved forward, was examining the platform on which the chair was sitting. "There’s a place here..." she murmured, her fingers running over what appeared to be a large square tile just behind the chair. "I think this is where the stele would be connected."
"What makes you so sure?" Jack asked.
Taking her heavy gloves off, leaving only the fingerless liners in place, she slipped her index fingers into what appeared to be openings in the tile, curled them, and pulled gently. The tile lifted out with a slight grinding sound. Beneath the tile were three circuit cards with the tiny data crystals identical to what they had found in the stele. Sam grinned triumphantly. "That!" she declared.
Daniel frowned. "According to what Jonas translated, this must be the ‘first’ weapon that the Ancient’s built. It was smaller than the second. The text said something about the first weapon being ‘one of less power’."
"Same size, not as powerful," Casey said softly.
He turned to look at his Wife. "What?"
Chuckles filled the air when Casey stamped her foot. "I am not amused!"
"Well, at least we know that the components of the ‘super’ weapon will fit on this platform," Sam grinned.
"How nice," Casey replied. She frowned at the tile that Cam had removed, just to the other side of the chair. Poking at the back of her head had her reaching automatically for Daniel.
Recognizing the signs of an impending download, her green eyes wide and slightly unfocused, Daniel wrapped his arms around her. "Deep breaths, Angel. Nice and slow. Relax...breath slowly...in...out...in...out..."
She locked her gaze with his. Saw only love in his blue eyes as she stared at him, waiting for the inevitable influx of images, or sounds...or whatever means of communication this particular download would consist of.
"Clear your mind, Case," he whispered. "Calm...relaxed..."
Images began to flow...robed figures bending over the platform...the ZPM...the stele...what in the hell was that?...looked like a jewelry box of some sort... She shuddered when the feelings began to filter through...panic, fear, dread... A flash of light, and it was over. She closed her eyes, sorted through the images, trying to identify everything she could. When she opened them, no one could miss the worry that filled the green depths.
"Radar?" Jack asked.
"The ZPM fits in the stele, just like Sam thought. Or, it can fit there," Casey said, pointing to the opening beside the chair. "The chair is where the ‘heart’ goes."
"The piece that’s in Arizona?" Sam asked immediately.
Casey nodded. "We really shouldn’t put the heart into the body," she whispered.
Glances were exchanged among the two teams. Whatever Casey was sensing, it wasn’t a good thing; that was obvious in her wide green eyes and slightly pale cheeks.
"Casey?" Daniel asked gently.
She gave a start, shook herself mentally. "What?"
"Are you okay?"
"Sure. I’ll be better when we get this damned thing destroyed once and for all. Well, not this one," she said, pointing to the platform. "A working ZPM, and we can protect Earth."
"We can?" Jack asked.
"We can what?"
Snickers filled the air.
"Goddamnit!" Casey growled. She shook her fist at the icy ceiling above them. "As soon as we’re finished with this, I am going to find you!"
"Should we leave this weapon in place?" Daniel asked his Wife.
"Beats me," she shrugged.
"If the Ancients put the weapon here, I’m guessing that they did so because it can work from here," Sam interjected. "We have that ZPM at the SGC, and the one we just located. Since we won’t be using that second one-" she broke off and looked at Casey, then smiled, "because I’ll be damned if I’m going to put together something the Ancients were worried about, we’ll have a working ZPM to put here."
"Since we have two ships, it won’t take more than a couple of minutes to get someone from the SGC to here," Jack mused.
"We must determine how this weapon works," Teal’c said.
"Jack can do it," Casey said immediately.
"You can? You can what?"
Before he could reply, Casey held her hand up. Download, Jack thought. Two in less than ten minutes. Was that a good or a bad thing?
She could see it...the way the weapon worked was amazing...energy drones...pure energy! And they could easily move through the ice that hid the weapon from the prying eyes of explorers...and satellites, although that was due more to the shielding the Ancients had surrounded the weapon with than the ice. "Jack, you sit in the chair," she said softly. "When the ZPM is in place, all you have to do is think about the threat, and the weapon does the rest."
"Sweet!" Jack declared.
"Why Jack?" Daniel asked, a frown on his face.
"The Ancient gene," Sam replied immediately.
Daniel nodded. That made sense. Jack had been able to activate the repository of knowledge that had been left by the Ancients.
"Okay, so we leave this thing here, right?" Jack said, watching the seer closely. She had that ‘not-quite-here’ look that she always had when she was doing her radar thing.
"What about the ‘super’ weapon?" Daniel asked, also watching his Wife closely.
She shuddered so violently that she was nearly knocked to her knees. "We destroy the components, and forget we ever heard about it," she said softly.
That was sure easy enough to do, Jack thought. And if Casey said it was the best thing to do, then it was the best thing to do. "I think we’ve found what we needed to know about," Jack said quietly. "Carter, if you and your lab rats want to study this thing, talk to General Hammond about it."
Sam nodded. She most certainly did want to study the device! The thought that she and a team of scientists could ring to either the Daedalus or the Prometheus, and then beam down to this cavern...negating the need for a carefully planned expedition...barely registered as she mentally began to form a list of the experiments she’d like to run on the devices they had discovered in the cavern.
"Okay, kids, let’s go home. We still have one piece left to pick up," Jack said.
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