<<Previous | Story Intro | Return to Stories | Next >>
Picking Up the Pieces
It had taken two days to make the journey to the first planet, and it had been in the same galaxy as good ol’ planet Earth. Traveling to a far galaxy, by simple deductive reasoning, was going to take a bit longer. Nearly a week, as a matter of fact.
During that time Jack drilled the crew of the Daedalus. He, Sam, and Teal’c piloted 302’s, acting as Jaffa in mock battles. The pilots of those special hybrid jets learned quickly what to expect from their enemy, and by the third day, easily repelled any attempts by the SG-1 pilots to even approach the Daedalus.
Daniel spent his time trying to decipher what little had been found about the Ancient weapon; determined to learn how it had been used, and why it had been dismantled. That the Ancients feared the weapon came through loud and clear in the text he’d already translated, and only served to make Casey’s unease all the stronger. Her unease had the entire team on edge.
Casey spent time working out in the gym. Mostly because she had little else to do. But also because it served as an outlet for the fear that continued to grow. The closer they moved toward the Triangulum galaxy, the tighter that cold feeling gripped her heart.
She was standing near one of the windows in the officer’s lounge, staring at the inky darkness of space. So lost in thought that she wasn’t aware of Daniel’s arrival until his arms slipped around her waist. She jerked slightly.
"Sorry," he murmured, realizing he had startled her. "Penny for them."
"I wish I could figure out exactly what it is that bothers me so about this weapon," she sighed. "There’s something...something..." She shook her head.
"Don’t force it, Case. Whatever is there, you’ll figure it out. We’re still two days away from Triangulum Galaxy. We still have two other pieces to find, as well," he said gently.
"Getting the scepter from Ba’al, that’s going to be a pain-in-the-ass. The one in Arizona-" Her breath caught in her throat, her pulse began to race, her heart hammering against her ribs.
She shook her head, trying desperately to rein in the absolute panic that had gripped her. "I’m not sure," she whispered. "I can’t tell if it’s related to sneaking onto Ba’al’s ship, or that thing resting beneath the crater."
"Let’s go get a cup of coffee," Daniel suggested. Totally missing the clue in her words. "We’ll talk about those fish we’re going to get."
She smiled, understood that he would do anything to help her take her mind off the problem she faced, if only for a short time.
Sam, Jack, and Teal’c entered the mess hall only minutes after Daniel and Casey sat down, steaming cups of coffee in hand. They all grinned at one another. That SG-1 bond was intact and working.
"Well?" Daniel asked, when Jack dropped down beside him.
"We’ve taught them everything we know," Jack replied. "If we run into trouble, the pilots are ready for it."
"What about the rest of the crew?"
"Response times have improved significantly," Sam responded. "Part of the problem is simply the fact that they’re still learning the ship."
"Let’s hope they have things figured out before they run into trouble," Casey said. All eyes focused on her. "What?"
"Any insights to share?" Jack asked, trying to sound casual.
"Nope. Well, other than the fact that we’re only about six hours away from the planet."
Sam jerked, spilling coffee across the table. She grabbed a pile of napkins to sop up the mess. "Six hours?"
"Six hours for what?" Casey asked, looking from Sam to Daniel and back again.
"You said we’re six hours from the planet," Daniel replied.
Jack chuckled. "According to you. You’ve never been wrong."
"Well, strike up the band," she muttered. Rolled her eyes toward the ceiling. "Just once? Could I at least hear these little tidbits of wisdom at the same time everyone else hears them?"
The laughter of her teammates filled the air. "We should let Colonel Mitchell know that we’re almost there," Sam said.
"Yes, we should," Jack said, rising to his feet. "We’ll just pop down, pick up this chair, and head home."
"Yeah, you can watch your recorded Simpson’s marathon," Casey teased.
"We’re SG-1. The last stop was too easy. We’re guaranteed to run into trouble this time around," Daniel said dryly.
"Danny, if you just jinxed us, I will personally kick your ass," Jack growled.
"Right," Daniel muttered beneath his breath.
"Daniel Jackson is correct," Teal’c said. "It has been the constant in our lives that we must suffer through bad luck, before that ‘magic’ of SG-1 begins to work, and offers us the solutions to the problems we face."
"The Big Guy is right," Casey sighed.
"Yes, he is," Sam nodded.
Jack heaved a heartfelt sigh. "So what we’re all agreeing to here, is that things are about to go hell for us."
"Probably in a big way," Daniel said.
"But on the upside, our good luck will kick in, and we’ll get the chair," Casey grinned.
More chuckles filled the air as the team made their way toward the elevator. The waiting was over. It was time to get the next piece of the weapon.
A A A A A A
Mitchell looked up, rather surprised to see the entire team step onto the bridge. During the past few days, one or another had wandered in, mostly to break the monotony of the trip. "Well, since all of you are here at the same time, something must be up."
Casey smiled. "We’re not far from the planet."
The ship’s commander sat upright in his chair. "How close?"
"About six hours."
He looked at his navigation officer. "What’s out there?"
The young man at the console scanned the area around the ship. "I’m picking up three planets orbiting the nearest star. ETA, about six hours."
He couldn’t help but glance at the young seer. Living with her had to be spooky as hell, Mitchell thought.
"Okay, Radar, which one?" Jack asked.
Automatically stepping in front of Daniel, she wrapped her arms around his neck. Closed her eyes when she felt his arms pull her close. Concentrated on the solid warmth of his body, the scent of his skin. She took a deep breath, centered herself, clearing her mind of all conscious thought.
In the span of a heartbeat she felt herself moving up...away from the Daedalus. The star the navigation officer had mentioned winked brightly at her...beckoned to her like an old friend. She sped towards it, spreading her arms as if in flight. The feeling of moving so freely sending a shiver of happiness over her frame.
Daniel frowned slightly when her body shuddered in his arms. The slight upturn of her lips brought a smile to his own. Whatever was happening, whatever she was seeing, it wasn’t bad.
This was the second time he’d witnessed this...whatever it was that Casey was doing. Mitchell noted that her teammates had formed a tight circle around her and Jackson. The tense, worried look was on their faces again, although the archaeologist had smiled for just a moment.
Casey concentrated on the feeling that washed over her when she was near any of the weapon components. Felt herself pulled toward the second planet. She wasn’t an astronomy expert by any means, but if she were pressed for information regarding the planet, she’d have to say that its orbit was the same distance from its sun as Earth was from Sol.
Knowing which planet the Daedalus needed to approach, she moved back toward the ship. She could do a ‘search’ of the planet itself when they were closer. For some reason, one that she hadn’t bothered to examine, when Sam was doing her scans it was easier to concentrate during her searches.
When her green eyes fluttered open, for one moment her love was all he could see. In that moment, he could see his entire universe in those green depths. All that he wanted, all that he needed, was there, in her eyes. She blinked slowly, gave him a shy smile, which had his insides turning to mush, and he knew that she had found the information they needed. "Angel?"
"Second planet from the sun," she said softly, her gaze still locked with his. Shaking herself mentally, she forced herself to step away from him, the deprivation of his warmth making her shiver imperceptibly. They’d been able to make love. But she was craving a good, noisy, heart-stopping romp between the sheets. Wondered for a moment if those feelings were...inappropriate...given the situation. Then promptly decided she didn’t care. That she wanted to shout her love when she and her Husband were together was nothing more than the result of their deep love. And the world could be damned if it disapproved.
He’d seen the flicker in her eyes. Wasn’t sure what she was thinking about. Except that her gaze had focused on his lips. Did the woman have any clue what it did to him when she looked at him like that? How damned difficult it was to resist the urge to sweep her off her feet, carry her to the bed in their quarters, and make love to her until she uttered that soft, sexy scream of delight?
"I’ll get more when Sam does her scan of the planet," Casey said. Turned to her friend. "If that’s okay? It’s easier to search when you’re doing that."
"Really?" Sam asked, immediately intrigued. "Has it always been that way, or is this something new?"
Casey frowned slightly. "You know, I’m...I’m not sure!"
Sam nodded her understanding. "I wonder if it has anything to do with the sensors themselves. Given that brainwave activity is electrical in nature, and of course the sensors are based on electrical and sonar impulses, you might be experiencing some sort of ‘enhancement’ to your gift."
"Makes sense to me...what I understand of it," Casey smiled. "As long as you don’t mind."
"I don’t mind at all. In fact...it’s almost as if I can help you in some way," Sam said softly.
Daniel felt a moment of pure jealousy. That he was unable to help his Wife during her searches, while Sam could, had his hands curling into fists. He did his best...held her, giving her a safe ‘anchor’ to cling to. Helping her focus on her breathing. But it was nothing like what Sam was apparently able to do.
"I like the sound of that," Casey replied. She looked at her Husband. "Is it okay with you?"
He started, wondered if she’d sensed his irrational feelings. "Why wouldn’t it be?"
"I need you to hold me, and it’s a bit crowded by that console," she explained. "We don’t have to stand beside Sam, but it felt like I was able to see more when we were close to her, the last time."
His heart fluttered in his chest. Her eyes spoke more than her words. She needed him...not just wanted him to hold her, she truly believed that she needed to feel his arms around her. She needed him! "It’s fine with me, Angel. Whatever you want."
Jack shifted from one foot to the other, looked at Teal’c, then back at the seer. The team had never before discussed what they might, or might not, be able to do in order to help Casey when she was searching. They knew that they were helpless to come to her aid if something were to happen on the astral plane. But the notion of being able to help in some other way...it just hadn’t occurred to him...to any of them. "What about us, Radar? Anything Teal’c and I can do?"
She cocked her head sideways. "Closer. You need to stand closer. Help Daniel."
Jack nodded. "We can do that."
He coughed slightly. "Come again?"
"Put your hands on his shoulders," Casey explained.
Mitchell listened with unabashed interest. It seemed that this was the first time the team had been tasked to help the seer. Which could be interesting.
Daniel smiled. For just a moment, Casey’s eyes had gone slightly unfocused, the way they did when she was Guiding him. "Casey, do I need to be in physical contact with Sam as well?"
"Through one of the other conduits," she replied.
Her eyes had gone unfocused again, as if she were trying to see something just beyond his shoulder. Once she’d answered Jack’s question, she had blinked, and her green eyes were the same clear, beautiful depths as always. "You or Teal’c will need to be touching Sam as well. I figure a hand on the shoulder should do it," Daniel said.
Unable to resist satisfying his curiosity, Mitchell cleared his throat. "I take it that this is all something...new?"
Daniel nodded. "I’ve done my best to help Casey from the beginning. We learned a method that keeps her focused when she’s getting downloads, but her searches...other than holding her, I was never able to...help."
"You’ve always helped me!" Casey insisted.
He smiled. "Maybe I have," he said, grabbing onto that hope, and holding tightly to it. "I’m guessing that this new sense of...well...what would you call it? Are you able to focus better, or more precisely, when you’re near Sam, and she’s running scans?"
"A little of both," Casey said.
"There’s a possibility that your gift is...growing...changing," Daniel said. "And that our...bond...as a team...is going to come into play."
"Making me more able to see things," Casey finished for him, nodding her head. "That...." She paused, then smiled. "That ‘feels’ right."
"What happens if we’re not all together, will you still be able to search and see stuff?" Jack asked.
"I’m certain I will. It will just be...easier; and I’ll probably be able to pick up more details with your help."
Satisfied that Radar’s gift wasn’t going to require specific parameters to work, which could be problematic if the team wasn’t together, Jack gave a sharp nod. "Okay, when Radar has a download, it’ll still be Danny’s job to help her. Any searches she needs to do, we help as much as possible."
"The really quick searches I do, I think I can still do alone, or just with Daniel’s help," Casey added. "But for something like this, team effort will be appreciated."
Jack gave her a crooked grin, patted her shoulder. "We’ll be there for you, Radar."
A A A A A A
Gathered in the supply room, the members of SG-1 were packing their gear for the next mission. Sam noted that Casey had put a bottle of sunscreen on the top of her knapsack. She elbowed Daniel, nodded to where the seer stood. He nodded, tapped his foot against Jack’s and nodded toward Casey. Jack frowned for a moment, then saw the bottle as she pushed another set of clean underwear and socks beneath it. With a nod in Daniel’s direction, Jack cleared his throat, looked over at Teal’c. The warrior watched as Jack’s eyes focused on the slender blonde. He nodded his understanding and reached for the bottles of sunscreen that had been packed before the team left the SGC. Tossed one to each of his teammates.
Casey looked up, found four faces grinning at her. "What?"
Daniel snickered. "Were you going to tell us...remind us," he amended, remembering the ‘message’ from Miss Eloise, "that we needed the sunscreen?"
"Seems to me I did," she replied flippantly. "I knew one of you would notice, and pass the word."
"Radar, that was sneaky!" Jack declared.
"How many times have you done that?" Sam demanded to know.
"This trip, or over all?" she asked, her green eyes twinkling.
The team burst into laughter. "I repeat, that was sneaky," Jack chortled.
Slender shoulders moved up and down. "It feels presumptuous sometimes, to say we’re going to need this or that, or we should take something extra," Casey admitted quietly. "I mean, I’ve been wrong a couple of times. Things don’t always go the way I think they will."
"But we’re always prepared, thanks to you," Daniel said gently.
"I’d much rather have something and not need it, as need it and not have it," Jack said.
"Me, too," Sam exclaimed. "How many times have we be lucky to have the item, or items, that you insisted we bring along, either vocally, or by simply packing it for yourself, or Daniel?"
Again those slender shoulders moved up and down.
"Many times," Teal’c said, his voice firm with the conviction of his belief. "We would not be here if not for Casey Jackson’s foresight on several occasions."
Tears blurred her vision, she could feel the warmth of her blush in her cheeks. "Thanks, guys," she said softly.
"Should we all wear boonies, too?" Jack asked.
"Probably wouldn’t hurt. I don’t think it’s going to be as hot as it was on the last planet, but I get the feeling the atmosphere is just as thin," Casey replied.
Jack tossed the boonies that bore each name. "Ready to go take a look at this place?"
Four heads bobbed up and down.
Backpacks slung over shoulders, and weapons in hand, SG-1 returned to the bridge. The planet that was beneath the Daedalus appeared much smaller than many of the others they had seen. Blue and green and gold, the planet obviously offered a variety of climate zones.
Mitchell nodded his acknowledgement of their presence. While the team had taken a nap, and then had a hot meal, he and his bridge crew had discussed what they'd overheard. And decided that when Major Carter ran the scans she needed, the communication tech would move to the other side of the bridge, giving SG-1 as much room as necessary to do...whatever it was they did. He’d heard about the ‘magic’ that the team possessed. He was certain that special ‘something’ had seen them successful on their last stop. Had no doubt that it would be the same this time.
Sam sat down at the console, and began to scan the planet’s surface for any traces of naquadah, taking atmospheric readings at the same time.
Casey put her arms around Daniel’s neck. Sighed inaudibly when his arms went around her waist. She moved just a bit closer, wanting...needing...to feel the warmth and strength that his body offered.
Teal’c stood directly behind Daniel, and placed one large hand on the archaeologist’s shoulder. That his fingers were touching Casey’s arm as well went unnoticed. Jack stood just off to the side, put his hand on Daniel’s back, reached out and put the other hand on Sam’s shoulder. The connection between the members of SG-1 was complete.
Mitchell gasped out loud, then glanced around to see if he was the only one who was seeing the soft glow that seemed to envelope the team.
"Sir? Is that supposed to happen?" the navigation tech asked, his voice hushed.
"I don’t know," Mitchell admitted.
"Local temp is eighteen-point-three degrees Celsius," Sam said softly. "Casey was right, the atmosphere is thin. Just think Alps, or Himalayas," she continued.
"Problems for us to breath?" Jack asked.
"No, sir, not if we avoid strenuous activities. If we have to do any walking, it would be best to do so at a slow pace," Sam replied.
He nodded. Not ideal conditions, maybe. But better than the last planet. At least the temperature was a nice, comfortable sixty-five degrees!
Casey felt as if she were able to swoop and fly like a bird. No...more like an eagle, or a hawk. She felt herself ‘tugged’, turned in the direction the pulling seemed to come from. Hovered over what appeared to be a small, medieval village. And in the center of that village, on a platform covered by a thatched roof, was a very interesting chair. She moved closer, could sense that this was indeed the part of the weapon they had hoped to find here.
The problem, she thought, would be getting those people to part with said chair. That would be where Daniel, his beautiful, brilliant mind, and his ability to out-diplomat the diplomats would come into play.
Just before she turned to head back up to the ship, a small structure on one side of the cluster of thatch-roofed houses caught her attention. A cage, of some sort. Not very large. A feeling of dread moved over her. For one moment, it looked as if there were people behind the wooden bars. When she tried to move closer, she found herself unable to do so. Then the shimmering apparitions disappeared. That could not be good! In the seconds it took her to realize she was able to move again, the faces of those ghostly beings registered in her mind. Jack, Sam, Teal’c, and herself. No clue where Daniel was. Oh, this was so not good!
The panic that filled those green eyes when they opened had his own heart pounding in fear. "Case?"
"Well, it’s a village...sort of something you’d find in old England, way back when...sort of like King Arthur, but there’s no castle but there’s a platform in the middle of all the buildings and it has a thatched roof, too, and the chair is in the middle of it and there’s a cage on one side of the village that Sam, Jack, Teal’c and I are going to wind up in and I have no idea where you’re going to be."
Silence filled the bridge for a moment.
"Damn!" Mitchell whispered.
"Yeah, Radar could recite the Air Force manual in one breath," Jack said, giving a weak smile. His team was about to be split up. Or at least one member was going to go ‘missing’. "No clue why we wind up in the cage?"
Casey shook her head. "None. Daniel isn’t in trouble...at least I don’t feel that. He’s just not with us."
"It is possible that Daniel Jackson will be free to seek aid when we are captured," Teal’c offered.
She tugged at her lip. "Sorry, Big Guy, that doesn’t feel right, either. We all go into that village together. No clue what’s going to happen."
"Oy," Jack muttered. "Will we at least get the chair? I’m not going to be happy if we go through...whatever...and don’t get it."
"We’re SG-1, boss. Of course we’ll get it. Just no clue how," Casey replied.
"I wonder if these people are related to the group taken by Sokar," Daniel mused. "Did you see a building that could have been a church?" he asked his Wife.
"No, but then, I wasn’t really looking at the buildings," Casey admitted.
"We should probably set down far enough away from the village that the locals don’t see us," Jack said.
"I agree," Daniel said immediately. "If they are 'Christians', they’ll be superstitious, and would probably view our arrival as that of demons."
"Wouldn’t it more closely resemble angels arriving?" Casey asked.
"With people who are held in the grip of superstitious dogma, they always seem to see evil lurking in everything," was the droll reply.
"Great." She looked up into cerulean blue eyes. "Leave it here, or I swear I’ll kick your butt."
Three pairs of eyes focused on the seer, then looked expectantly at Daniel.
"I’m serious, Daniel. It stays here," Casey said, cutting off what she knew was going to be an argument complete with puppy dog eyes. "If they’re that superstitious, seeing that picture will get both of us killed, and we-" She broke off; looked around the room. No one on the Daedalus knew the secret that SG-1 guarded so closely. "I don’t want to die out there today."
"Radar? Care to share with the rest of the class?" Jack asked, knowing that to ask Daniel would only get him a roll of blue eyes.
"Daniel carries a picture of me," she replied.
"That so? Anything...special...about it? Like, oh, I don’t know...wings?"
Casey nodded. "That’s exactly what it has in it."
He bit back his grin. Didn’t blame the archaeologist one bit for carrying a copy of that particular portrait. "That’s against the rules, Daniel."
"Everybody does it," Daniel objected, glaring slightly at Casey for revealing his ‘secret’.
"Doesn’t matter. We’re SG-1, we’re supposed to set a good example."
Daniel snorted, then looked away. Didn’t want to admit that both his Wife and his best friend were right. "I’ll leave it in the lockbox with our rings."
"Do it now, Danny."
With a curt nod, Daniel held out his hand, waited for Casey to remove her wedding band and engagement ring. "I’ll meet you in the transporter room."
"Yes, you will," Jack replied. "Colonel, might not be a bad idea to monitor what’s going on. Sounds like it could get interesting."
Daniel wanted to be angry, he really did. He’d have lost his mind while he'd been marooned, and presumed dead, if he hadn’t had Casey’s photo with him. It had been the only link to her...the only thing he'd had of her; looking at her picture had kept him going when he'd nearly given up hope. Nothing is going to happen, and she’ll be with me. He paused, his finger hovering over the elevator call button. She saw the team in that cage...but I wasn’t there. He stabbed the button with more force than was necessary.
His arms were wrapped around his chest as he rode up to the level where the officer’s quarters were located. Remained there while he stalked from the elevator to the small room he shared with her.
With a sigh of disgruntled acceptance, he pulled the photo from his pocket. Couldn’t help but smile.
If the people in that village are Christians, they’d see the picture as sacrilege. Angels don’t have breathtaking breasts barely covered by soft, small hands, and navel rings, and seductive smiles. At least, not the angels that Christians believe in. Case is right, they’d kill us over this. We can’t waste the time, the three days, to reanimate.
The thought that the villagers could find a very permanent way to kill the team was one he pushed firmly from his mind. The picture would remain on the Daedalus, where it wouldn’t be a threat, and everything would be fine. Except for the team...minus him, being held in a cage... She hadn’t seen them being tortured, or killed. So just where was he going to be...what would he be doing...while his teammates and Wife were in that cage? Was he missing a clue that he would be responsible for saving them?
The lockbox was in the storage container he'd brought with him from his office. He put their rings into the jeweler’s case, tucked the photo underneath it in the corner of the box. Locked it, pushed it back under the folders and mission photographs, and photos copied from astronomy books or off the web.
His teammates were waiting for him. There was a mission to complete. He could only hope that he’d have the answers for his questions before he needed them.
A A A A A A
Jack looked at the technician. "Anyway to set us down somewhere out of the way?"
The tech nodded. "I’ve located what looks like a path. It’s surrounded by trees, but about half a klick in there’s what looks like a meadow. I can put you there."
The team CO nodded. "Sounds good."
In a flash of bright light, the rings surrounded the five members of SG-1. In less than a second, another flash, the whisper of the rings disappearing, and the team was standing on the planet.
"Okay, campers, let’s go pick up that chair and head home," Jack said quietly. "Teal’c, might want to cover up your tattoo."
With a nod, Teal’c pulled his boonie lower on his forehead.
"Daniel, you and Rocco take point. Ladies, keep an eye on our flanks. I have the six. Let’s go."
Silently, the team moved toward the road that would lead them into the village. They knew two things. The chair they wanted was there. And four-fifths of the team was going to be held captive. It was better than walking in totally blind.
A A A A A A
The general looked up from the forms he was signing when Walter tapped on the door. "Sergeant, what can I do for you?"
"We just received a message from General Carter, sir. It seems that Ba’al has been seen. The Tok’ra believe he was returning to his new home planet. Selmak seems to think that until the palace is finished, and the temple constructed as well, Ba’al will remain on his ship."
"In orbit, or on the planet itself?" Hammond asked.
"I don’t know, sir," Walter replied.
"I suppose they can determine that when they arrive," the general mused, more to himself than his assistant. "Do we have the coordinates for this planet?"
"Contact the Daedalus. Give them the information we have, and the coordinates. With any luck, Ba’al will still be there when they arrive."
Knowing of that particular Goa’uld’s habit of disappearing at the drop of a hat, he didn’t hold out hope that the snake would still be there when the Daedalus and SG-1 arrived. "Yes, sir," the sergeant replied.
"Dismissed." Hammond sat back in his chair. If SG-1 could get that scepter, after getting the other two pieces of the weapon, the Daedalus could rejoin the Prometheus in protecting Earth. That would make the president happy.
It made him nervous to think about the weapon. Especially since it had Casey scared to death. Nor did the apparent ease at which the team was locating the pieces...the report that SG-1 had been successful in locating what had turned out to be a ZPM had just come across his desk...make him feel any better. The Daedalus, and SG-1, had already been on this ‘scavenger hunt’ for ten days. He approved of Colonel O’Neill’s plan to make a ‘loop’, rather than appearing to move from one place to another. He only hoped that they would be able to make the stop at Ba’al’s planet appear to be part of that loop. It would certainly go a long way to keep their enemies from knowing exactly what they were doing. That would make him happy.
He had taken the liberty of contacting the president. The fact that the Tau’ri now had two of the components in hand, and were on the way to pick up the third had pleased the man in the White House. President Hayes had not been pleased to hear about Casey’s reaction to the weapon. General Hammond had already advised that the seer’s fears be taken seriously, and that if she believed the weapon shouldn’t be reconstructed, then he wanted to go on record as stating the Ancient device should be left in pieces. The general could only hope that the president’s experiences during his first visit to the SGC would result in Hayes listening to him...and Casey.
<<Previous | Story Intro | Return to Stories | Next >>