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Picking Up the Pieces
Sam and Dr. Lee were carefully examining the box. The long, narrow artifact actually looked like a flattened ZPM, although Casey’s description of a ‘jewelry box’ did fit, given the glimmering stones that decorated the top. Stones that they had yet to identify. Whatever they were, those shiny baubles weren’t from Earth!
"Readings indicate that the naquadah in this thing is minimal. Maybe just a thin shielding inside," Sam murmured. "That’s why it was so difficult to pick it up with the scanner. And why the shape and size was indicated by the naquadah itself."
Daniel watched, from his perch on a table, as the two maneuvered the box with gloved hands, reaching into the sealed, glass-sided quarantine chamber to manipulate the object. "Can you get it open?"
Shaking her head, Sam looked up at Doctor Lee, and motioned that she wanted to turn the box over. Minimal naquadah content or not, it was still heavy. She couldn’t imagine what Cam Balinsky had gone through, climbing thirteen hundred feet out of a shaft carrying the thing.
Casey slipped back into the room after a quick visit to the ladies room...she'd splashed cold water onto her face in an attempt to calm her nerves. She leaned against Daniel, and watched as the two beside the quarantine chamber continued their work.
"There’s a seam here," Sam pointed out.
"But there doesn’t seem to be a way to open it," Doctor Lee said.
"That box that I have in my lab...there was a ‘code’ of sorts that had to be entered to trigger the locking mechanism," Sam said. "What if these...jewels...aren’t just attached to be pretty?"
"They could be the key. Sort of like one of our numerical keypads," Lee said, nodding his head.
"So, we just have to break the code," Sam sighed.
"And hope it doesn’t blow up if we enter the wrong sequence," Lee tossed out.
Glancing at his Wife when he felt her shiver, Daniel ran one hand across her shoulders. "Case?"
"Um...you really want to get that thing the hell off the base," she murmured.
"Why?" Sam asked immediately, pulling her hands from the heavy, haz-mat gloves in order to turn to look at the seer.
"Because if those damned things wake up, we're in deep shit. We'll have no way to control them," was the shaky answer.
"Things? Wake up? As in..." Sam’s voice trailed off as she looked at the box. Doctor Lee had pulled his hands from the gloves as well, and was slowly backing away from the quarantine chamber.
"As in alive," Casey whispered. She cocked her head sideways. "Yet...not alive. Thinking, but not sentient. Programmed, but adaptable."
"You’re describing an AI," Sam said softly.
"I don’t know what it is...but I do know that if the Ancients couldn’t control that thing, we don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of doing so," Casey said. She was visibly trembling.
Jack had been in a meeting with General Hammond when Sam had announced that she and Doctor Lee were ready to exam the box. So the team, sans their intrepid leader, and Lee, had driven to Warehouse Two, where the weapon components were being stored. Teal’c had offered to return to the SGC to pick the colonel up. When the two walked into the room, their arrival went momentarily unnoticed by the four people who stared wide-eyed at the ‘jeweled box’. "Hey ho, campers. What’s-" Jack started.
"Alive," Casey whispered. She had a death grip on Daniel’s arm. Not that he seemed to notice.
Jack nearly jumped out of the room, glared at the box in the glass chamber from his place near the door. "That thing is alive?"
"Some sort of AI," Sam clarified.
"Think we should get rid of it?" Jack asked quietly.
"Oh, hell yes!" Casey replied frantically.
Daniel slid to his feet. Turned his shaking wife toward him. "Look at me, Casey," he said firmly. He wreathed her face with his hands. Her hands gripped his wrists, holding tightly.
Green eyes pulled reluctantly away from the box, and locked gazes with cerulean blue orbs.
"How do we get rid of it?" Daniel asked gently.
"You’re asking me?" she squeaked.
With a slight nod, Casey closed her eyes. Shivered violently again. Waited anxiously for the whispers that would give her the insight on what should be done. "Ugly box...deep freeze..."
Frowns were etched onto every face in the room.
"Ugly box...deep freeze," the seer repeated. Her eyes remained closed as she repeated what she heard whispered around her.
"The box in my lab," Sam said. "It has to be."
"It is indeed ugly," Teal’c said.
"Deep freeze?" Jack asked, crossing his arms over his chest. "I don’t think Radar means the freezer in the commissary."
"That planet...um..." Daniel’s frown deepened as he struggled to recall the computer designation for the planet that had been discovered. So inhospitable that the MALP circuitry had barely survived being there for the half hour that Sam had taken readings.
"I know which one you’re talking about," Sam nodded.
"KSL-535," Daniel said triumphantly.
"How do you remember all that stuff?" Jack asked curiously.
"Some of the planets are easier to remember than others," Daniel replied, shrugging his broad shoulders slightly. He returned his attention to Casey. "If we put that...jeweled box...into the naquadah lined box in Sam’s lab, and then send it through the ‘gate to that frozen planet, will we be safe? Will that component remain hidden?"
Casey’s blonde head moved up and down slightly. "Cold...dark...it won’t survive the cold. Dark prevents it from warming up."
"Will it...will it die there?" Daniel asked.
Casey opened her eyes. "Only if it’s left there."
"As far as we know, the Goa’uld have no idea this weapon even exists," Sam pointed out.
"If we get that scepter from Ba’al, we can make certain they don’t know about it," Daniel added.
"But won’t going after the scepter make Ba’al suspicious?" Doctor Lee asked nervously.
"Not if we take several things," Jack said. He and Teal’c had already discussed the possible ramifications of their ‘visit’ to his ship. And the fact that they had to make their ‘theft’ look as if they were after something else entirely. What, though, they hadn’t been able to figure out. "Daniel, you said that there were several artifacts in that room, right?"
Daniel nodded. "I remember thinking that a couple of them looked similar to the ZPM we found, although they weren’t glowing."
Well, wasn’t that handy, Jack mused silently. "So, if those are still there, we grab them. And a few tablets as well."
"My guess is that he knows that those ZPMs are power sources," Sam mused. "He might be trying to figure out how to recharge them."
"And, he’ll assume that we only know that they’re power sources, not that the ones he has are dead," Casey offered. "He’ll laugh his ass off, thinking we’ve been fooled...and that we took the other things just to throw him off."
"You’re sure?" Daniel asked, watching green eyes carefully.
"As sure as I can be," Casey replied.
"Okay, let’s tell the general we need to make a delivery to KS...whatever it was," Jack said. "Then we’ll get ready to head for Ba’al’s ship."
"I have to admit, I’m surprised Selmak responded to my inquiry...and that she offered such a detailed summary of what I have to do," Sam said, moving toward the work table, leaning against it casually.
"Me, too. I just hope we have all the details we need," Jack muttered.
"I’ve already run tests using the information Selmak sent," she reported. "We’ll only have about fifteen seconds before the alarms go off, but that’s at least enough time to hide."
"Every second counts," Jack admitted. And ignored the fact that Sam had been worried enough about the information to double check its validity before the team risked their lives using it. "Teal’c, how long will it take you to get that ugly box that Casey insists we need?"
"Not longer than thirty minutes," Teal’c replied.
"Do it. Tell Walter to find the address for K..." Jack turned to Daniel.
"KSL-535," Daniel said immediately.
"Yeah, that planet. Tell him to start dialing in-" Jack checked his watch. "Tell him to dial in an one hour and ten minutes. And tell him not to bother the general, we’ll explain later."
"I will do so," the Jaffa said, giving a nod of his head.
Casey shivered again. "Not its fault," she whispered.
Daniel pushed a strand of blonde hair from her cheek. "What?"
The seer nodded toward the containment chamber. "It was created to do a job. It just does it too well...and the Ancients couldn’t...turn it off. But, that’s not its fault."
He couldn’t help but smile. Even if the...whatever it was in that box...wasn’t completely sentient, Casey’s tender heart ached for the loss of that...'life'...all the same. "We can’t take the chance of a Goa’uld taking advantage of...it."
She sighed. "I know. It’s dangerous...and it scares me to death. But still..." She shrugged her slender shoulders.
It was impossible to resist the urge to hug her, to offer her the comfort she needed in that moment. Any reason to hold her, he thought with a mental sigh, taking his own comfort in the warmth of her body against his.
Jack stepped closer to the quarantine chamber. "Kinda pretty, isn’t it?"
"Like a jewelry box. Too bad it’s so dangerous," Casey replied. She looked at Sam. "Sort of ruined your day, didn’t I?"
Sam smiled. "Well, I still have that chair to look at."
"Have at it, Major," Jack said, not bothering to hide his chuckle at the flare of glee that filled Sam’s sapphire blue eyes.
Crowbar in hand, Sam broke the seal on the crate that held the chair the team had taken from the small village on a planet in the Triangulum galaxy. Daniel, Jack, and Doctor Lee offered their assistance in pulling the crate apart, exposing the chair.
"Doesn’t look like much, does it?" Lee said, disappointment in his voice.
"Not on the outside," Sam said. She was already examining the seat. "Help me turn it over."
Daniel stepped forward, helped his friend and teammate turn the chair onto its side.
"The Ancients liked to hide things," Sam murmured. The seam she had expected followed the bottom of the deep seat. This particular opening was easy to figure out, however. She applied pressure to one side, and the panel that covered the hollow ‘box’ swung open.
"Cool," Casey said, peeking over Daniel’s shoulder.
Sam studied the obvious insert on the top of the panel. Looked at the box in the chamber. Traced the outline with the tip of her index finger. "Here. It fits here."
"It? That thing?" Jack asked, jerking his thumb over his shoulder, indicating the box.
"Mmmhmm." She continued to examine the chair.
"It’s the same as the stele," Doctor Lee observed. Like the stele, there were half a dozen small 'circuit' cards, each containing tiny data crystals
"Where does the scepter fit in?" Sam asked, looking at both arms of the chair. "What Jonas drew had the scepter attached to the arm of the chair."
"There aren’t any openings," Lee said, checking as well. "This chair is metal," he mused, tapping it in several places.
"Can you run an analysis on it while I look for any place where that scepter fits in?" Sam asked.
"On it," Lee said, grabbing a scanner from a nearby table. "Readings indicate a trinium and titanium alloy."
"Interesting," Sam said. "I think I found something."
Doctor Lee poked his head back toward the opening beneath the seat of the chair. "What?"
"See this indention here?" Sam pointed to a round ‘dimple’on the far side. "Then, this hole here?"
"One end of that scepter is inserted here, and the other end rests there," Lee offered.
"Has to be," Sam nodded. She frowned. "There’s something odd about the placement...it’s the front of the chair, when it’s sitting upright. Casey, are the photos we took in Antarctica on that table?"
Casey looked at the three tables, and located the folders that held the photos. "Found ‘em."
"Tell me if the seat of that chair is as...thick...as this one."
"It doesn’t look like it. The arms look different, as well...and there are places where I’m assuming the person who sits there puts their legs," Casey reported.
Sam sat up. "This chair is different. Casey said something about not putting the ‘heart into the body’. Which means this might have been used in the first weapon. But the second weapon, this weapon, really is different than the one in the Antarctic. That one requires a person to operate it."
"And this one?" Jack asked.
"I think that...thing," Sam nodded toward the box in the quarantine chamber, "controls this weapon."
"An automated defense system," Jack mused.
"Somehow the Ancients weren’t able to control their...creation," Daniel said.
"What I’d like to know, is how did that thing," Jack pointed at the box again, "get to Arizona, after the Ancients did their disappearing act?"
Doctor Lee perked up. "Doctor Balinsky and I discussed that. We think that the Ancients might have sent the box into orbit, maybe believing that it would be rendered harmless in the vacuum of space."
"And it just happened to fall in Arizona?" Jack said, disbelief in his voice and on his face. "Surely they didn’t want the thing to fall back...did they?"
"That wouldn’t make sense," Daniel pointed out. "The thing is lined with naquadah. The Ancients would've known that the naquadah would protect it on re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere."
"Everything we’ve learned about naquadah indicates that it’s darned near indestructible," Sam said slowly. "If they did try to launch it into space, their intent might have been to send it toward the sun, hoping that the gravitational field would pull it in. They probably didn’t know that it had re-entered Earth’s atmosphere, and landed back here on terra firma."
"You’d think that as smart as these Ancients were supposed to be, they’d have tracked it or something," Jack groused.
"I think the Ancients were a little arrogant," Casey said, wrapping her arms around her waist. "They launched it, and considered the problem solved."
"Sure seems that way," Jack agreed.
"Do you think the weapon in Antarctica will be safe to use?" Daniel asked.
"I’m sure it will be," Sam replied. "Because it requires a human to operate it. And Casey hasn’t seen anything bad about it," she added cheekily.
Daniel grinned. "True."
Jack clapped his hands, then rubbed them together. "Okay, so we know how this thing works, and how the one in Antarctica works."
"We have just a basic idea," Sam corrected her lover. "We don’t know at all what it’s capable of...or what sort of energy it releases."
"Energy weapons?" Jack asked.
Sam shrugged slightly. "From what few analytical tests I was able to
run, that seems to be what it is."
"I just thought of something," Casey said, hopping onto the nearest table.
"What would that be?" Sam asked, still on the floor examining the chair.
"If we find a way to recharge dead ZPMs, the ones we take from Ba’al will come in darned handy!"
"Wouldn’t that just ruin Ball’s day? That he couldn’t charge them...we rip them off, and we can?" Jack gloated.
"Which would be the icing on the cake," Casey declared.
Sam, Daniel, and Doctor Lee chuckled loudly.
"O’Neill, there is a problem," Teal’c’s voice called from the doorway.
Jack’s head dropped forward, his chin on his chest. "Isn’t there always?"
"There is a representative from the Pentagon in General Hammond’s office. Sergeant Harriman suggests that if we are about to dispose of this weapon component, we do so quickly."
"Box it up, let’s get it the hell out of here," Jack snapped.
Sam jumped up from the floor. Doctor Lee scurried to the containment chamber and began the shut down procedure.
Teal’c carried the heavy box brought from Sam’s lab into the room, held it steady as Sam pushed the glyphs that would open it.
"You’ll have to hold the lid up, it’s broken or something," Sam instructed.
With a nod, Teal’c grabbed the lid.
"Come on, come on, come on," Sam muttered, waiting for the quarantine chamber to complete the system check that would allow the top to be opened and the jeweled box removed.
Two beeps signaled the end of the cycle. Daniel helped Doctor Lee with the locks that held the two halves of the chamber together. Sam prepared to grab the box and shove it into the naquadah lined container.
"Go!" Daniel hissed.
Jack rushed forward to help when it was obvious that the weight of the jeweled box made it awkward for Sam to handle alone. His thoughts, like hers had earlier, went to Cam Balinsky, and the determination the man must have had to climb thirteen hundred feet carrying the thing in a backpack.
The jeweled box barely fit inside the container. For a moment Sam feared that the lid wouldn’t shut properly. Heaved a sigh when she heard the click that indicated the top had locked into place.
It was obvious that the two objects, both made with naquadah, were indeed heavy. The muscles in Teal’c’s arms bulged.
"Let’s go," Jack said, leading his team toward the door in a run. Another glance at his watch. If all went according to plan, Walter would have the ‘gate dialed, and the event horizon would be open...he nearly stopped running. "Carter, can anything survive if it’s hit by the event horizon when it opens?"
"No, sir. The energy-" Sam grinned. "That’s a great idea, sir!"
"This thing will be destroyed, and we can call it an ‘oops’," Casey gloated. "We just wanted to get it to the ice planet, to keep it from activating."
"Yeah, well, timing is everything," Jack grinned. "Daniel, call Walter. Tell him to dial as scheduled, but...tell him not to dial the last glyph until we tell him to."
"Got it," Daniel said, grabbing his cell phone with one hand, the other reaching for the support bar on the jeep, throwing himself into the seat beside Sam. His free arm went around Casey’s waist automatically when she jumped into his lap.
None of the team realized that, in their haste, they had left Doctor Lee standing at the door of the warehouse, watching helplessly as SG-1 sped away - Jack driving, Teal’c beside him, arms around the ugly naquadah box that had given Sam such fits...and now contained one of the most dangerous artifacts that had ever been brought to the SGC.
The klaxons were wailing on level eleven when the five burst from the elevator. The guards were taken by surprise, barely able to collect the needed scans and signatures before the team was racing past them for the second elevator.
Five pairs of eyes were locked on the level indicator, five hearts pounding as adrenaline flowed through their veins. When the doors opened on level twenty-eight, Jack nodded at Daniel.
"Walter, dial that last glyph now," Daniel nearly shouted into the phone.
Teal’c ran ahead, needing to be in the room before the event horizon opened. The Stargate was spinning...the seventh chevron locked...he tossed the box toward the ‘gate.
The ‘whoosh’ of the even horizon opening caught the box just as it began to tumble toward the floor. For a split second, everyone in the room was certain there had been a shrill scream...a slight flash of light...and the box vaporized.
Panting, SG-1 stood grinning at one another. "Shut it down," Jack said, looking toward the control room.
"Yes, sir," Walter’s voice replied. He was grinning as well.
"What is the meaning of this?"
The members of SG-1 turned in unison toward the sound of the voice...the very angry voice to be precise...and watched as an army general, four-star if his uniform was accurate, stalked into the room.
"Was that a component of the Super Weapon?"
"Well, yes sir, it was," Jack replied. "We needed to get it to an ice planet, K-something or other-"
"KSL-535," Daniel interjected quietly.
"There ya go," Jack nodded enthusiastically, "that planet. We didn’t want the thing to activate."
"It was sentient...sort of," Casey supplied.
"We theorize it was some sort of AI," Sam added.
"It was most dangerous," Teal’c said firmly.
The general did not look convinced. Nor did he look happy. He turned to General Hammond. "If I find out this was done on purpose-"
"General Bradley, I can assure you that the only reason SG-1 was in such a hurry to get that very dangerous alien device off the base was because they understood the need to protect those of us in the mountain," General Hammond replied calmly.
"And you know Teal'c, he can be such a klutz in the heat of the moment," Jack said with a perfectly straight face. "It was an accident."
Teal’c raised an eyebrow, but remained silent.
Casey cocked her head sideways as she studied the Pentagon general.
"Incoming," Jack mumbled, watching the seer closely.
"The president does care about the danger the Ancient weapon poses to the people of Earth. And he’ll trust us before he listens to you," she said softly.
General Bradley bristled at the insinuations. "How dare you!"
Green eyes blinked slowly. "How dare I what?"
The man sputtered for a moment, snapped his jaw closed when the slender blonde leaned toward the tall man wearing glasses, and asked in a whisper what she had just said. Listened as the man repeated word for word what she had uttered. He wanted to think the seer, he recognized her from her file, was trying to pull a fast one on him. That it was part of a ploy by this group of insubordinate misfits to prevent the Pentagon from having a working weapon, created by Ancient beings, that could be used against the Goa’uld. The slightly unfocused look in her eyes when she had spoken, the confused expression on her face as soon as she had finished speaking...no, that couldn’t be faked.
Hammond snickered quietly. "If you’ve read any of the reports generated by the SG teams in this mountain, you’ll understand that anytime Mrs. Jackson makes a comment in that fashion, you can bet your life on it."
As a matter of fact, he had read the reports about this seer. He had read countless statements of how the ‘Resident Seer’ of the SGC had saved lives, or enabled the Tau’ri to establish treaties with other cultures that were beneficial to Earth, based on comments made that she was totally unaware of making. He had also read the reports regarding President Hayes’s complete confidence in General George Hammond and the men and women of the SGC. Particularly the group known as SG-1. "I’m certain the president will be most interested in hearing that the premier team of this program was responsible for the destruction of one of the primary elements of the Ancient Weapon," Bradley huffed.
"It was very dangerous," Casey said, sticking her chin out slightly. "If we hadn’t gotten rid of it, you’d have been begging us to figure out a way to do so as soon as it woke up."
"Woke up? What kind of nonsense is that?" the general demanded.
"I believe Major Carter has already mentioned that it was some sort of AI. That’s artificial intelligence, " Jack said. "I’m sure you know all about that. Artificial intelligence, that is."
Bradley glared at Jack.
"Seriously, sir, with all of the information you’re privy to, I’m certain that you know about AI’s," Jack smirked, covering his ass, and making the general appear all the more foolish at the same time.
"Well, at least we’re all safe now," Casey said, smiling sweetly. She looped her arm around Daniel’s waist. "It’s been a long day."
"Yes, it has," Daniel agreed.
"General Hammond, we’ll have those reports ready for you, first thing in the morning," Jack said, the respect he held for the general reflected in his voice.
"Very well, colonel. I suggest you all get a good night’s sleep. I’ve checked the mission roster for the week, I believe you’re going to be busy for the next few days."
"Yes, sir." Jack said, saluting smartly. "Let’s go, team. With your permission, sir?"
Bradley watched as the five sauntered toward the door. Stood still as a statue when the blonde seer looked back at him. Noted that the entire team paused when she did so. He turned to face Hammond. "Those people are out of control!"
"On the contrary," Hammond said calmly. "Those five people are all that stand between you and the Goa’uld. Every member of that team hates the Goa’uld in a way you couldn’t possibly understand. It’s that hatred that drives them, that makes them as successful at defeating that enemy as they are. If you’re smart, General Bradley, before you go to sleep tonight, you’ll whisper a prayer that those five people continue to fight against the Goa’uld for a very long time to come."
Bradley glanced around the room. The eyes of the technicians in the control room, the silent stares of the Marines who stood in front of the now silent Stargate, the stern gaze of the OIC of the facility, the defiant glares from the members of SG-1 as they stood just inside the door...all dared him to argue. He could see on every face the unwavering belief that what had been said was the gospel truth. He'd read countless mission reports, had sat in on numerous meetings...had learned enough to know that there wasn’t an SG team in existence that had walked into the jaws of the enemy more often than SG-1. No other team had pulled off the ‘miracles’ that SG-1 managed to perform on a regular basis. No other team had taken out as many Goa’uld as SG-1.
He had also read the report about the second weapon, supposedly smaller, that waited in the Antarctic. He would persuade Hayes into letting one of the other branches of the military deal with that weapon. It should be placed firmly into the hands of the Pentagon, and those not afraid to use it against the enemy of all mankind. "General, I believe we’re finished."
"I agree," Hammond said. He, however, was speaking of the small group in the Pentagon who continued to hold the entire military in a stranglehold of dated concepts and ill-conceived goals. President Hayes was an very astute man. He understood the need to think in not only global, but universal terms. Key military positions within the Pentagon, Homeland Security, and the newly formed Homeworld Security department, were being filled with men and women who understood that the concerns of the US military lay beyond the borders of any one country, and that the ‘old school’ way of dealing with adversaries wasn’t always the best approach. Bradley and his cronies were seeing their last days in positions of power. They were, however, too determined to proceed with their own agendas, too blinded by their own egos, to see the writing on the wall.
"Have a nice flight back to DC, general," Casey said, offering a ‘butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth’ smile.
Another derisive snort was the only response.
"Let’s go, campers," Jack said quietly. He led the team to the elevator.
"Won’t he be surprised when the president tells him to sit down and shut up," Casey giggled softly.
Jack grinned. "Probably. Wonder if there’s a way to capture that moment on film?"
"Well, we could sneak into the Pentagon, and put a few of the Goa’uld cameras we’ve...liberated...around his office," Casey suggested.
"Shouldn’t take more than an hour or so," Daniel added, his grin as wide as Casey’s.
"Indeed. I believe the task would be no more difficult than attempting to infiltrate the palace of a Goa’uld System Lord," Teal’c said, his brown eyes twinkling.
"Easier, actually," Sam smirked. "We have the highest clearances issued. We can walk in, do what we want to do, and walk out, and no one would be the wiser."
"Think we could borrow a Pavehawk for the night?" Jack teased.
When the elevator doors opened on level twenty-one, where Janet Fraiser stood waiting, the group had just erupted into laughter. "Well, something went right," Janet surmised, a smile on her own face. That smile softened, became a private greeting when she looked up at Teal’c.
"Yes, it did," Jack said. "We got rid of the box that had Radar so freaked out. Happy now, Radar?"
"Ecstatic," Casey replied.
"Now all that’s left is sneaking onto Ball’s ship and causing him a little heartburn," Jack said.
"You know, I’ve been thinking...there really does have to be a way to recharge those ZPMs," Sam mused. "Having a couple extra lying around will give me a chance to work on that problem."
"See...that scepter isn’t even important now. We’ll grab it just to piss Balls off," Jack smirked, to the amusement of his team.
"Having all of the pieces of that weapon where we can keep an eye on them certainly makes me feel better," Daniel admitted. He glanced at Jack. "They won’t be shipped to Area 51 will they?"
"Nope. For the same reason the Quantum Mirror is back here...the people at Area 51 just don’t have the experience to deal with those pieces of technology. We’ll keep them right here at the SGC, where our lab rats can work on them," Jack replied.
"Sounds good to me," Daniel sighed.
"Tomorrow, we make plans to ruin Balls’ day," Jack said, when the elevator stopped on level eleven.
"And then, I want time off," Casey declared. "It feels like we’ve been running in high gear for weeks."
"I could go for a day or two off," Daniel agreed.
"Me, too!" Sam exclaimed. "We’re due for a nice vacation."
"Well, I can always put SG-1 on medical leave," Janet offered.
"If we can’t convince the general that we deserve time off, we’ll take you up on the offer," Jack promised.
"For now, I’ll just settle for a quiet night at home," Casey sighed.
"I like the sound of that," Daniel said, dropping his arm around his Wife’s shoulders.
It had been a long two weeks. The team had managed to locate all of the components of the Ancient ‘super’ weapon. They had obtained all but one of those pieces. Not one of them would even pretend that getting the scepter from Ba’al would be easy. But the added benefit of grabbing a few of his ‘artifacts’...particularly the ZPMs that Sam would possibly be able to recharge...was worth the effort it would take to sneak onto his ship, grab what they wanted, and leave. Not even Casey was aware of the price that they would pay for their efforts.
A A A A A A
After their meeting with General Hammond the following morning, outlining their plans to board Ba’al’s ship, and what they hoped to return with, SG-1 was given the go-ahead for their mission.
Sam led the team toward the infirmary. The standard pre-mission exams would be made, and the team would be on their way to, as Jack put it, ‘ruin Balls' day’. And, truth be told, all of them were hoping to do as much damage to the ship as possible. Just on principle, Casey insisted.
Daniel and Casey were sitting side by side on one bed, Jack and Sam on the bed across from them. Teal’c normally sat beside Casey. He hesitated, glanced at the petite doctor who was entering the room. Then walked toward one of the empty beds. Eyebrows rose slightly, and the four left wondering what was going on exchanged surprised glances.
Janet nodded at her staff, took her stethoscope and walked toward Teal’c. "Anything you need to report? Sniffles, cough, headaches?" The question was standard. The look in her brown eyes was not.
"No," Teal’c replied calmly.
Holding his hand between her elbow and ribs, Janet took the Jaffa’s blood pressure. "A few points high, Big Guy."
"Perhaps there is external stimuli which is affecting me," the large man said, his cheek twitching.
"Really? Interesting," Janet said teasingly. She ran her hands over his jaw and throat, checking the glands located there. Her fingers lingered, brushed against his cheeks. "You seem to be in excellent health."
"My physician is quite adept at preventing any illness from becoming problematic."
"I think it has more do to with your...special...genetics," Janet smiled, blushing slightly.
Jack rolled his eyes. "I think I liked ‘em better when they weren’t like...this."
"I think it’s sweet," Casey replied, wrapping her fingers around Daniel’s hand.
"Be careful," Janet whispered, just before she placed a gentle kiss on Teal’c’s lips.
"Indeed," Teal’c murmured in reply.
"Hey, Doc, is that a new medical procedure?" Jack teased.
"Only for former First Prime’s of Apophis, who joined SG-1," Janet replied flippantly.
"Well, I think it’s great. Lay one on her, T-man. We’ll wait for you in the ‘gate room," Casey said, sliding off the bed.
Teal’c raised one eyebrow slightly.
"Take your time," Daniel grinned, patting the Jaffa’s shoulder affectionately as he walked past, following his Wife.
"No rush," Sam added, tossing the couple a smile, right behind Daniel. She jerked on Jack’s arm, nearly pulling him off his feet. "Come on, colonel."
"Leave them alone, Jack!" Casey’s voice echoed from the corridor.
Janet couldn’t help but giggle as she watched the four disappear. "Will they tease you?"
"Undoubtedly," Teal’c replied. He glanced around the room, took in the amused looks on the faces of the two medics and three nurses. "Will you be teased?"
Janet’s smile widened. "I’m CMO! They wouldn’t dare."
"Good," Teal’c replied. He slid his hands around Janet’s waist, tugged her closer. Kissed her tenderly. "Until I return," he whispered.
"I’ll be waiting," was her whispered promise.
"I don’t know if I’ll get used to the Big Guy and Doc being a couple," Jack muttered, checking the tac vest he’d pulled from his locker.
"I’m glad Teal’c has someone, and I’m thrilled that it’s Janet," Casey replied.
"Yeah, you can hear about her ‘sex-capades’ now, right Angel?" Daniel teased, chuckling out loud.
"As a matter of fact, yes," was the prim reply.
Jack sputtered slightly. "The three of you talk about your...uh...sex lives?"
Sam grinned. "We compare notes on everything regularly, and you’re well aware of that fact!"
"Everything," Sam whispered, leaning close to Jack.
"Aw, for crying out loud, Carter! Can’t you leave our private life...private?"
"You like to discuss my private life," Daniel snorted.
"That’s different," Jack tossed back immediately. "It’s about you, not me."
"Turn about is fair play," Casey taunted. "Don’t worry, Stud Muffin. I’ve kept most of our secrets."
Which wasn’t, Daniel thought, as comforting as he knew Casey intended for it to be. Because it left him wondering just how much she did share with her two best friends. Knowing, her, however, he doubted that she would reveal anything she thought might be ‘kinky’. She was just too shy to do that. Which meant that most of what they did together was still just between the two of them.
Teal’c cleared his throat, letting his teammates know of his presence. "I presume that the discussion concerning your love lives, and my own, has concluded?"
Casey began laughing. "You just wait, Jaffa. Janet will give us all the details."
"Of this I have no doubt," Teal’c replied.
"Doesn’t it bother you to know that those three talk about their sex lives...about us...like that?" Jack asked incredulously.
"It does not. Do you and Daniel Jackson not speak of your experiences?"
"Well, that’s different," Jack grumbled.
"In what way?" Teal’c asked.
"Give it up, Jack," Daniel chuckled.
"From what I hear, he does...on a regular basis," Casey said, a wicked smile matching the amused light that danced in her eyes.
"Carter!" Jack bellowed.
"Well, you do!" Sam responded, her sapphire eyes twinkling. "Besides, we keep our secrets between us. Just our little group. No one out there," she waved her hand toward the door, "has a clue what goes on behind our respective bedroom doors."
"And that’s the way it’s going to stay," Casey said firmly. "Right, Jack?"
"Right," Jack replied. Grateful to know that the entire base wasn’t privy to his love life. A glance at Daniel told him that the archaeologist was feeling the same rush of relief.
"Now we’re done talking about our sex lives," Casey said, winking at Teal’c.
The team followed the seer out of the gear room. The banter had been enough to help each of them deal with the anxiety that plagued all of them. Missions like the one they were about to undertake had a nasty habit of going to hell on them.
Casey cocked her head sideways. "I’ll be right back," she murmured. Then dashed toward the elevator.
"Casey?" Daniel called after her.
"I’ll just be a minute. I’ll meet you in the ‘gate room," she replied. She had no idea what the whispers meant...only that it was important.
Jack frowned. "Okay, let’s go." Instead of continuing toward the blast doors, however, he trotted toward the elevator.
Casey was just stepping on when her teammates surrounded her.
"Care to share with the rest of the class?" Jack asked, his frown deepening.
"It will sound silly."
"I like silly. Humor me," Jack sighed.
"Daniel needs to have one of those voice modulating devices," she murmured, her eyes on the tips of her boots.
"Why?" Daniel asked, as perplexed as his teammates.
Slender shoulders moved up and down. "I don’t know. Only that it’s important...no...vital...that you have one in your tac vest. And you have to make certain no one knows about it."
Daniel tucked a finger under her chin, raised her head, waited for her green eyes to lock with his. "Can you tell us anything?"
"Only that I’m scared to death," she said softly.
"We’re about to sneak onto a Goa’uld ship," Jack said gently. "That’s enough to make all of us jumpy."
"Not to mention what happened the last time we went on a mission like this," Sam added, reaching out to squeeze Casey’s shoulder affectionately.
"We’ll get that device. Anything else we need?" Jack asked Casey.
"Nope. Not that I can ‘see’ anyway." She turned to Daniel. "I’ll love you always, no matter what happens."
His heart fell to his knees. Was he going to need to use the device in an attempt to rescue Casey...from Ba’al...or from another Goa’uld? "I’ll love you always, Casey. No matter what happens."
Sam, Jack, and Teal’c looked at one another. Their worry was visible on their faces.
Taking a shuddering breath, her gaze still locked with her Husband’s, Casey forced a smile to her lips. "We’re SG-1. We have to go through hell to get the job done, but we always come out on the other side."
"Can you see anything else?" Daniel asked.
It was all he could do to keep from slapping his fist against the emergency button, and then heading straight topside, his Wife in tow. "Didn’t hear that, huh?"
Green eyes rolled with exasperation. "Apparently not."
Daniel repeated what she had said.
"Well, I suppose that means we’re in for a rough ride," Casey sighed.
"Sounds like it," Jack agreed. "We’re SG-1, Radar. Even the Big Boys know that."
She couldn’t help but smile. "Good point."
"We have a job to do. Let’s get that doodad for Daniel, and then get this done. Oh...better grab a camera. I want photos of Balls getting pissy when we show up," Jack grinned.
The comment, and the resulting laughter, was enough to break the tension that had filled the elevator...to push back the fear that gripped each of them. SG-1 was once again heading into the jaws of hell.
Geared up and ready to go, a voice modulator and control tucked away in Daniel’s tac-vest, SG-1 stood at the bottom of the ramp, watching as the inner circle of the Stargate spun, locking each chevron into place. They would ‘gate to the planet nearest the Daedalus, which was ready to take them to Ba’al. The plan, offered by Colonel Mitchell, would save the team two days of travel time. Two days they wouldn’t have to fret about the mission they were about to undertake.
"SG-1, you have a go. Godspeed," Hammond said from the control room.
"That’s the word, campers," Jack said. Glanced at his kids. If they were nervous, or worried, or scared out of their wits, not one of them showed it. Not even Radar looked upset. Given that they knew they were walking into hell...again...her poise was inspiring. He shook his head mentally. It was that SG-1 good luck. It always kicked in when they needed it. They’d get the doohickeys Carter and Daniel wanted, and be back before dinner. Determined to prove himself right, he led the team up the ramp, and into the event horizon.
No one noticed the shiver that passed over Casey’s slender frame, just before she disappeared.
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