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Sand in an Hourglass
Sam continued to move through the ducts; she'd found a larger section and was sliding through it as quickly as possible. If she hadn't become turned around, she should be near the detention cells now. She stopped long enough to peer though one of the grates that opened onto the corridor beneath her. Nearly gasped out loud. "Casey!" she whispered.
Casey stopped, reached out and grabbed Shanda's arm, held the young slave tightly. Had she imagined it, or had she just heard someone whisper her name?
There it was again! She glanced around. "This is not a good time to go crazy," she muttered to herself.
Okay, she already had one voice in the back of her head. It had never led her wrong. Might as well trust this one. She looked up. Nearly screamed when she saw two sapphire blue eyes looking back a her. When she was able, she took a deep breath. "That's a hell of a place to be," she said softly.
"Tell me about it. Nice to see you back with us, by the way," Sam replied.
"Yeah, nice to be back, I guess." She frowned. How did Sam know that she'd been injected with that drug? Or was it just assumption?
"What are you doing?"
"Heading toward the holding cells to get the guys. Then I was going to look for you."
"Any Jaffa nearby?" Sam asked.
"I sure as hell hope not."
"Watch out." It took a minute to get turned around. Sam pushed both feet against the grate. Pulled them back, and kicked with all of her might.
It was a minor miracle that the grate came down flat, allowing Casey to catch it, and lower it to the floor. Shanda stood, completely stunned, as the woman with short hair lowered herself from the opening in the ceiling.
"Which way?" Sam asked.
"Shanda says this way," Casey said.
"Friend of yours?"
"Not exactly. But she's pretty eager to see me get the hell off of the ship. I might take her place as lo'taur," Casey explained.
"Think she knows where our gear and weapons are?"
Casey shrugged. "I could ask."
Sam nodded. "Do it."
She turned to the young slave. "Shanda, we need the gear my friends came with...the packs they carried, and their weapons. Do you know where they are?"
Shanda studied the two women. How had the tall woman managed to be inside the walls and the ceiling of the ship? How had Ca'see been able to fight off the effects of the drug that the Master had injected her with? She'd seen other slaves trained, knew that once the injections began, their minds were never the same, they were never able to think clearly again. She'd been too young when she'd been taken for Master to deem the drug necessary. She'd been trained, brutally. But her mind had been left intact. For the first time she realized that Ba'al would never break a slave if he were going to make her lo'taur. She'd been a fool! And now...now she must make amends for her betrayal. And hope that her Master, her god, would forgive her. "I do not know."
Casey had seen the sudden widening of the young slave's eyes, and the determination that had settled into them. She's just put two and two together, the young seer thought. She's figuring out that I was never intended to be lo'taur. She grabbed the slave by the back of the neck with one hand, pressed the knife blade against her throat with the other. "Listen, cupcake, I haven't got time to play twenty questions with you. I'll slit your throat and leave your body right here, it doesn't matter to me."
Unadulterated fear flashed through dark eyes. She had no doubt that the woman meant every word she spoke. "There is a place where things such as that are kept."
"Take me there, now!" She didn't turn loose of the slave. Instead, she wrapped her arm around the young woman's neck. "Do not piss me off. You won't like it if I get pissed off," she warned.
Walking slowly, unable to move any faster than the woman would allow, Shanda led Casey toward the room just across from the cargo bays. Watched as the taller woman grabbed the packs and strange looking weapons.
"How far are we from the holding cells?" Casey asked.
"They are one level above us," Shanda replied.
"Casey?" Sam asked.
"Just asking directions to the holding cells," the young seer explained.
"I know where they are," Sam said quietly.
Casey looked at her friend, then back at the young woman. "No offense," she said, just before she hit the girl with everything she had. Shanda bounced against the wall, and slid to the floor. She was unconscious, but Casey had no idea for how long. "Duct tape?"
Sam searched her pack. She'd started carrying a roll of the heavy silver tape when she had learned that Casey did. On several occasions she'd witnessed the young seer using it. Once to 'mend' a pair of ripped BDU pants. Twice to restrain enemy Jaffa taken into custody. Jack had often teased her about it. And would never admit that he carried a roll now as well. She tore off several strips, watched as Casey bound the young woman's hands behind her, then taped her ankles together. Another strip to use as a gag.
"I really wouldn't have," she said quietly.
"Really wouldn't have what?"
"I really wouldn't have killed her," Casey explained, her cheeks pale, her eyes haunted with guilt. "I threatened to slit her throat. I can't clean a rabbit for lunch, for chrissakes', I sure as hell can't kill a young slave!"
The major patted a slender shoulder. "She didn't know that. So it made the threat work, without you having to be worried about being put to the test. Right now, we don't have the option of being kind to slaves."
"Something that totally sucks, you know," Casey replied. "Instead of tying her up like this, I should be trying to rescue her!"
"We have to save ourselves before we can save anyone else," Sam pointed out.
"Let's go. Before the guys bust out and we can't locate them."
"Oh, now that would just be my luck," Casey grumped.
A A A A A A
Anubis strode through the corridors, on his way to the pel'tak. His personal guards were with him. His rage prevented him from realizing that his path was surprising clear. Of course Ba'al had to be aware that he was on the ship, his guard had taken out those Jaffa who were standing sentry at the rings. Although why Ba'al would do such an odd thing was also something he didn't take time to consider.
Ba'al 'watched' as his uninvited 'guest' continued to move closer. His own Jaffa were closing in on all sides. Anubis wasn't quite as formidable as he pretended, he realized. And the damned fool was going to make killing him as easy as taking a village of farmers! Osiris was demanding that he speak to him...her actually. A very attractive 'her'. It would be a source of great entertainment to put the mighty Osiris into his harem. He'd take great joy in raping the body of the Goa'uld, knowing that the symbiote was experiencing everything, every bit of pain...and pleasure. And knowing that its very existence depended on his generosity. Would Osiris become a slut, a whore, to stay alive? He smiled as the thoughts moved through his mind as he waited to finish off Anubis.
A A A A A A
"Three guards," Sam noted.
"One for each of them," Casey said. "I suppose just opening fire isn't a good idea."
"No, it's not. The noise will have more Jaffa down here than we can deal with."
She pulled her lip between her teeth. "I have an idea." She stood to her feet. Closed her eyes for a moment, tried to remember exactly how she'd felt as the drug Ba'al used on her began to take effect. "Get ready," she whispered.
Sam watched, bit her lip to keep from laughing out loud as Casey began to stagger and sway down the corridor.
The Jaffa guarding the prisoners watched as the scantily dressed woman made her way towards them. Twice she'd nearly fallen, leaning heavily against the wall. They exchanged nervous glances. This was the woman Ba'al had brought with him from the meeting with Anubis. The woman he'd been training as a slave before she was taken by the Tau'ri. The woman he'd 'reclaimed' on Anubis' ship.
One of the Jaffa had been on Tem's planet, and had been party to one of the 'discipline sessions' where she'd been raped. He could still remember the smell of her skin, how soft she felt as he took her. If he returned her to Ba'al, his god would no doubt be upset with her escape attempt. And he'd be allowed to have her again. His body stirred at that thought. He moved toward her.
C'mon, big boy, help a poor girl out, Casey thought.
The Jaffa had reached her, smiled at her. She was so beautiful, even more so without the grime of days spent in a cold cell, and bruises covering her face and body.
She tried to pull away from him, began to run back toward Sam's position. It didn't work. He grabbed her, carried her to where his companions waited. Okay, she had to get that damned force field down, so that Jack and Daniel and Teal'c could take these goons out. Her eyes moved around the opening. There! Now, how did the damned thing work?
When the Jaffa let go of her, she staggered toward the opening.
"Casey? Oh, god, what has he done?" Daniel moaned softly, watching as she literally bounced from one wall to the other. He cried out again when it seemed that she was going to fall directly onto the force field.
This woman was Ba'al's new...pet. If anything happened to her...Before she could be fatally wounded, the Jaffa leapt toward the panel, slammed his fist against it, and disabled the force field.
In an instant Jack, Daniel, and Teal'c were struggling with the guards.
"Daniel!" Casey called, and tossed him the knife.
He didn't have time to register the fact that she was all right. When the Jaffa lunged forward again, he felt the blade press into the man's chest. Could feel the warmth of blood on his hand. Daniel jerked away, let the man fall.
The fight had lasted less than three minutes. Jack glanced around, saw Sam running toward them, carrying packs and weapons. He jogged toward her, relieved her of all but her own gear. "That was some show, Radar," he said quietly.
"Thanks," Casey replied. She turned to face Daniel. Was unable to say anything as his lips crashed down on hers, his arms wrapped around her, pulled her close.
"Are you okay?" he asked as soon as he let her go.
"I am now," she smiled.
"Okay, kids, we have to get to the rings. Ba'al is going to have a hell of a lot of Jaffa waiting there. We'll have to take them out, and get the damned things activated before backup can arrive."
"We need to let Dad know we're on our way," Sam said.
A A A A A A
Jacob had been sitting beneath Ba'al's ship for nearly three hours. No doubt something had gone wrong, or he'd have heard from the team by now! It was only Selmak's soothing presence that kept him from attempting to ring to the ship to find out what the hell was going on.
His heart jumped in his chest. "Sammy?"
"We're heading for the rings. We aren't going to have much time."
"Understood." He glanced out. Osiris' ship was still there. Being beneath Ba'al's ha'tak, he couldn't see that another ship, a small escape shuttle, was sitting just above. He had no idea that Anubis was on the same ship as SG-1. If he had, no doubt not even Selmak would have been able to calm him.
Karinda ordered her ship closer to Ba'al's. She'd try to get her Jaffa on board. She had to stop Anubis. If he killed Ba'al, any thoughts of resistance among the other System Lords would evaporate. If she were very lucky, Anubis could be killed. She debated for only a moment. Noted that Sarah was remaining silent...could still feel the waves of remorse, of pain, of heartbreak. She'd deal with comforting her host later. Right now she had a mission to complete...she'd lead her Jaffa...as would be expected of Osiris. She turned to M'zel. "We will ring over, along with the others."
He nodded his understanding. Bra'tac had told him that keeping this Tok'ra alive was vitally important. If she could continue to pretend to be Osiris, information on all of the System Lords could be gathered. Their weaknesses exploited.
"My Lord, where are you going?"
The First Prime stood in the middle of the corridor, flanked by nearly a dozen Jaffa. Of all the times for a mutiny, Karinda fumed. Without a word she lifted her hand, pulled forth the energy needed from her host body, and sent a beam of light from the ribbon device on her hand. As much as she hated the damned things, it was a weapon to inspire fear, and right now she needed the Jaffa afraid of her, convinced that Osiris was a god. "You would dare to spy against me? You would dare to stand against me? I am your god!" she hissed.
The Jaffa shifted nervously, backed away from the First Prime. It was impossible for Osiris to know that they were in the service of Anubis!
"Kill them!" she ordered.
M'zel nodded. The Rebel Jaffa who served as Osiris' personal guard took down the traitors.
Karinda looked around. Several slaves and a few Jaffa stood along the walls of the corridor, fear bright in their eyes. "Clean up this mess. We will leave now!"
Ba'al was shocked to learn that Osiris and nearly sixty of her Jaffa had just boarded his ship. He'd ordered more guards to the transport rings after Anubis had arrived, understanding that those Jaffa who'd been standing guard were now dead. It seemed that they hadn't arrived at their post yet, and as a result, he had more enemy Jaffa on his ship!
"My Lord, do you wish to make your way to the escape pods?" one of his Jaffa asked.
It was tempting. But he wouldn't leave. Not without his prisoners. Not without Casey Jackson. "No. This is my ship. Go, defend the honor of your god," he commanded. Watched all but three of the Jaffa needed on the pel'tak race toward the advancing enemy.
"Okay, kids, let's get into this access shaft. We have a long way to go to get to those rings," Jack said quietly.
The poking that had been bothering Casey for hours was nearly unbearable. Any moment the information that she was trying so hard to focus on would rush forward, into her conscious mind. She just wished it would hurry up and do so! It was distracting!
Jack was on point, Sam behind him. Casey was next, with Daniel directly behind her. Teal'c was on the six, and they were all trying to move quickly and quietly. Which wasn't easy.
Daniel couldn't help but grin. He had one hell of a view from where he was, and that sweet pink flesh winking at him from beneath that tiny little slip was enough to have his thoughts drifting to what he wanted to do as soon as he was alone with her. His mouth watered, his cock twitched at the errant thoughts.
"Shit!" Casey suddenly hissed.
Everyone froze. "What?" Jack asked, his voice muffled both from an attempt to remain as quiet as possible, and from their bodies taking up the majority of the space of the shaft.
"We have to get out of here," she replied.
"That's what we're trying to do," Sam said.
She shook her blonde head. "No, out of this shaft. Now. Anubis is on board."
"Oh, hell," Jack grumbled.
"We have to take him out," Casey insisted.
"Figures," the team commanding officer replied. He glanced around. "Okay, I see an exit. Let's go, campers."
Within ten minutes the members of SG-1 were standing in the corridor. Jack glanced at Casey. "Radar?"
"There's something not right about Anubis," she said softly.
"Like the fact that he's a batshit crazy Goa'uld?" Jack snorted.
"He's not Goa'uld...at least...he's not a symbiote. Not any longer."
"Then what is he?" Sam asked.
"I don't know," Casey admitted. "I haven't quite got it figured out." Not for lack of trying, however. The poking had become so annoying that she had pushed it to the back of her mind so that she could focus on what she was doing.
Jack glanced around them. "Okay, any idea which way to go?"
She pulled her lip between her teeth, shook her head.
"If Anubis is on board, he will go for the pel'tak, in order to take control of the ship," Teal'c said quietly.
"Lead on," Jack said.
Anubis stopped short. Where were all of the Jaffa who should be defending against him? He knew that Ba'al had a full contingent of Jaffa on this ship. Where were they? He tried to reach out, to search around him, felt the now familiar cold restraints that prevented him from using the powers he'd gained, illicitly. He smiled to himself. They could do nothing more than prevent him from traveling on their plane of existence. They could not, and would not interfere with his plans. He'd destroy them all for rejecting him. For stranding him in the limbo where he now was forced to exist. He'd destroy all those they claimed to be Innocent, thus rendering them useless...obsolete. His desire for revenge blinded him to the fact that his ultimate acts of retribution would destroy him as well.
Where are those damned Jaffa? He looked around. Then he heard it. The sounds of movement. He was surrounded. "Remain here," he said the leader of his personal guard.
He slipped down an adjacent corridor. Hid behind a support beam as four squads of Jaffa passed by. Anubis was too arrogant to be afraid. Too sure of his own power to believe that anyone, especially Jaffa, were a threat to him. He wasn't stupid, however...there would be plenty of time to deal with the warriors later. Most of whom would be more than willing to vow their loyalty to him, in exchange for their lives, and the lives of their families. Especially when they witnessed the death of their 'god'.
By now Ba'al had probably sent every Jaffa on the ship after him. He'd be on the pel'tak, with no more than a few most trusted guards. It would be too easy to take him. But most satisfying. With Ba'al out of the way, the remaining System Lords would bow to him, recognize him as the Most High Leader of the Goa'uld. And he'd use them to destroy all in his path.
He turned a corner. And roared with disbelief.
Teal'c was leading them at a run toward the bridge of the ship. They had to get there before Anubis. Surprise would be their only advantage against that Goa'uld. Taking out Ba'al would be the icing on the cake.
"Holy Hannah!" Sam hissed, when the black robed figure stopped just in front of them. The sound of anger that the Goa'uld made caused their blood to run cold.
Her heart pounding against her ribs, Casey felt the poking cease. Waited the few seconds she knew it would take for the information to filter through to her. "Oh, god! Ascended! He's Ascended! Or partially...something went wrong..."
"What?" Daniel asked, turning to face her.
"Now, Casey, tell him now!" Miss Eloise whispered.
"You have to take him out, Daniel," Casey said calmly. "You have the power. You have the strength, only you can do it."
"You have got to be kidding!"
"Think, Daniel! You can feel the power inside you! Use it!" Casey begged.
"I don't...I...uh..." he stammered, totally unprepared for what his wife was telling him.
"The blue fire, Daniel. You have to use it. Against him. Now!"
For a few fleeting seconds Daniel wasn't sure what to think. At first he thought Casey had gone mad. Remembered the flashes of blue flames that had snapped from his hands on that desert planet. Then he felt it. The...warmth...the strength...that had flowed through his veins from the moment he'd been hit with the blue light from that altar, in that subterranean temple. He concentrated. Pushed the heat toward his fingertips. He lifted his hand, and hurled a ball of blue light toward the black robed creature who stood watching them.
"Noc!" Anubis roared, as the ball of fire impacted on his shoulder. He'd not been prepared for such an attack, had not believed it possible that anyone on this plane of existence could stand up to him, could stop him. His own black gloved hand came up, and a ball of yellow fire flew toward his attacker.
The team jumped toward the wall, hitting the floor with thuds and grunts of pain, the fireball impacting on the floor beside them. Daniel sat up, tossed another ball of blue fire.
"Hurry, Daniel! Before he kills us all!" Casey begged.
Desperate, not at all sure what he was doing, or how he was doing it, Daniel stood to his feet. He had both hands up now, pushing that ever growing heat to his fingertips as quickly, and with as much force as he could. The fire balls had become one bright stream of light, connecting him to the Ascended Goa'uld who continued to back away, trying furiously to stop the Tau'ri who had powers he should not.
"The One!" Anubis growled. He'd heard rumors, knew the myths that existed among the Ascended. He'd never believed them. The flow of yellow fire from his fingers met and held off the blue flames that reached toward him.
He felt as if he were running full speed...up hill...with a full pack on. His breath was coming in gasps, his lungs burned as he tried to pull in enough oxygen. Drops of sweat rolled down his face, dripped off of his chin.
Anubis had been weakened by the time spent on the mortal plane of existence. It took great effort to maintain his form. And now his diminished powers were being drained completely as he continued to try to hold off the blue flames.
Stunned at what they were witnessing, SG-1 could only lay on the floor watching, hoping that Daniel had the strength to defeat Anubis.
Slowly, it seemed as if the minutes had turned to hours, the stream of blue fire began to advance. Inch by precious inch it moved closer to Anubis. Faced with total annihilation, Anubis gave a roar of sheer rage, and in a flash of light, a black cloud moved toward the ceiling. The black robes fell to the floor, empty of any being.
What seemed to be flashes of pure white light from several directions impacted on the cloud. A blood curdling scream echoed around them, and then the cloud disappeared.
"What the fuck was that?" Jack asked, his eyes wide, his cheeks pale.
Daniel dropped to his knees, exhausted, still gasping for breath. Casey was at his side in an instant, holding him, cradling his head against her shoulder, gently holding one of his badly burned hands, blistered palm up, in her own.
"O'Neill, we must flee this ship," Teal'c said quietly.
"Right." He moved toward Daniel. "Can you walk?"
"Good. Let's go." He put his arm beneath Daniel's and hauled the archaeologist to his feet. Teal'c rushed forward to hold him up on the other side.
Casey picked up Daniel's P90. With Sam taking point, she covered their six as her teammates half-carried, half-dragged her husband.
Karinda had seen the flashes of light, raced toward them. Watched as SG-1 ran around a corner. She turned to M'zel. "Take two men, see to it that their path to the rings is clear," she whispered. Then she stood straight, spoke loudly for the benefit of Osiris' loyal Jaffa. "See to it that they are under heavy guard. I will not have them escaping again!"
"Yes, My Lord." He pointed to two of his Rebel brothers. The three ran toward the corridor where the Tau'ri team had disappeared.
The Rebel Jaffa took out three squads of guards who would have come up behind the escaping Tau'ri. M'zel signaled, and the three split up, to make certain that SG-1 wouldn't be outflanked
The fact that the rings appeared to be unguarded brought a moment of panic. No doubt the damned things were being watched, and those Jaffa were hiding, waiting to take down anyone who approached.
"Give me some good news, Radar," Jack panted.
"We're going to make it," she replied, a cocky grin on her face.
"Gotta love it," he grinned in return. "Sam, get those damned things programmed. We are so out of here!"
A A A A A A
Jacob whirled around, on his feet when he heard the rings activate.
"Go, Dad, we have to get out of here," Sam said, as soon as the rings had disappeared.
"Right." He ran back to the control console, dropped into the seat and pulled the cargo ship away from the ha'tak. "What the hell is going on?"
"Long story," Jack replied breathlessly.
Casey was searching through Daniel's pack. Found the first aid kit. Carefully bandaged his hands. By the time they returned to the SGC, there'd be little, if any sign that his hands had ever been burned.
The teammates exchanged glances. This was something they needed to discuss...to try to understand. But it wasn't something they wanted anyone else to know. Not Jacob/Selmak, or even General Hammond. For now, this was a secret that only the five of them shared. A secret that would no doubt weigh heavy on them.
When they were safely away from the Goa'uld ships, Jacob put the ship on auto-pilot. Turned around to look at the people who sat wearily in the cargo bay. What was it that was bugging him about Teal'c? The Jaffa chose that moment to turn his head, to make a quiet reply to something Casey had said.
'I'll be damned!' Jacob laughed silently. 'He has an earring!'
'This is unusual?' Selmak asked.
'With SG-1, nothing is unusual,' Jacob replied. He'd have to remember to ask Sam about it. There had to be a story connected to the round gold ball in the Jaffa's earlobe. He glanced at Casey. He'd bet a month's rations that the young seer had been involved.
A A A A A A
Exhausted, not exactly sure what all had happened, SG-1 stumbled through the Stargate exactly twenty-one hours after their departure. The Marines perked up when they saw Casey walk down the ramp, wearing a skimpy little red satin chemise. Which did nothing to hide the curves of her breasts, or the hint of her nipples. It barely grazed the tops of her thighs, leaving her legs in clear, glorious view. Major Ferretti glanced around, then frowned. He cleared his throat loudly, watched as every pair of eyes focused anywhere but on the blonde seer.
General Hammond was waiting at the bottom of the ramp, a smile on his face. "Welcome home, SG-1. We just received word from Selmak. It seems that Anubis and his ship have been destroyed. Osiris took over Ba'al's ship, although Ba'al managed to escape."
"Figures," Jack grumped.
"Get checked out, and then get some sleep. Briefing at oh-eight hundred," the general said.
"Yes, sir," Jack replied.
It took every bit of strength they had to drag themselves to the infirmary. Janet raised an eyebrow when she saw Casey.
"Don't ask," the blonde grumped.
"Ba'al," Casey said.
"Daniel is so gonna kill that snake."
"Why do I need a shot?"
"So give me a bottle of water."
"No vitamins in a bottle of water."
"Doc!" Jack's voice wailed. "Tell Hilda the Hun here that my ass is not the place for that honkin' big needle."
"You need the vitamins," Janet replied.
"Bullshit. You're just trying to torture us."
"What did you say, Colonel?"
"Nothing. Just sneezed."
Casey smiled at the familiar sounds of her teammates complaining...the replies of the very not-amused medical staff as they attempted to deal with the team. "Daniel?"
"I'm hungry. Can we stop by Sonic on the way home?"
"Whatever you want."
Her smile widened. As long as she lived, those three words would always bring a thrill of joy to her heart.
"How about a stop at O'Malley's instead," Jack's voice asked.
"Sounds good to me," Sam's voice replied.
"Case?" Daniel asked.
"Works for me," Casey agreed. "Teal'c?"
"I, too, agree that O'Malley's sounds 'good'."
Janet stood beside her office door. She could see each of the team members as they sat on the beds, separated only by the curtains that were pulled around each one, as the medics and nurses did the usual vital checks, and drew the customary blood sample. Blood samples that she'd very carefully destroy before they could be taken to the lab. So that SG-1's secret would remain so, for just awhile longer.
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