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Strange Bedfellows

Chapter 2

So much had changed since he'd last been in this sector. Rumor had it that Tem had made a miraculous reappearance. Someone must have freed the bastard from whatever prison Ra had banished him to. Anubis had very nearly taken complete control of the Empire, before disappearing once again. Information was scarce, what he could learn was that no one would be fooled a second time into believing that Goa'uld dead. Ba'al had swept through and grabbed much of what had belonged to Anubis, ready to set himself up as the Emperor of the Goa'uld hierarchy. There was much grumbling, but few had the resources to take him on, head to head, in battle.

His own...companions, banished from Earth by Ra, shortly before that particular Goa'uld found himself the recipient of the old 'heave-ho' by disgruntled slaves, were established elsewhere. But he longed for the peaceful days, wandering the hills near Sparta. He missed the days of 'one-upsmanship' played leisurely with his cohorts. Being worshiped as the god he was. Taking what he wanted: be it food, or wine, or women...or the occasional warrior who caught his eye. Ares was a god of...diverse...appetites.

The man shook his head, sending his long, black hair into motion. His brown eyes glittered as he watched the stars. Let the others tremble in fear. Ra was no more. No one seemed certain who had killed him, only that he was dead. His spies had been most certain about that fact. There were no others he need fear. Not that he'd ever feared them before, however now they were even less of a threat. He'd return to the First World, claim it as his own, as was his right. He'd rule the universe from there. That beautiful, blue and white planet.

"My Lord, we approach Thracia."

"Very well. Prepare to land." He turned to the Priest who stood patiently beside him. "Send word that I have returned to the home of my birth. There will be a festival, so that all may come to welcome me, and worship me."

"As you wish, My Lord," the older man said, bowing low before his god. He was one of the few who knew...who understood...that Ares had not been literally born on Thracia. It had been there, however, that he'd taken his first host. His 'birth' as a Goa'uld. As a god.

Hurrying down the corridor of the ha'tak, the Priest began to worry. He had spies of his own. And the reports were quite...disturbing. It seemed that the slaves who had expelled Ra from the First World were now venturing forth through the Chappa'ai, destroying the weakest among the gods. They'd allied themselves with the rebel Tok'ra. More and more systems were slipping through the fingers of the System Lords, freed by the meddlesome Tau'ri. He feared that there wouldn't be the crowds of adoring citizens waiting, at least not in the numbers his god desired. Prochoros sighed. He could only do as much as he could do. He'd been High Priest in the Temple of Ares for twenty years, much longer than any of his predecessors. Only because he was able to appease the Goa'uld. He feared there would be nothing to appease his god if the celebration was less...jubilant...than what he demanded.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The Jaffa who continued to serve on Thracia were battle weary. They'd been called upon to defend the home world of their god a dozen times within the past few months. No one expected Ares to ever return from his place of banishment, sent there by Ra after he and his co-conspirators attempted to overthrow the Egyptian god. They were a different 'family' of Goa'uld, and so Ra had been limited in just how far he could push them, how severely he could punish them. Sending them to a far flung sector of a nearby galaxy was the most he could do. Nevertheless, the Jaffa in service to Ares fought and defended his holdings, as if he would return at any moment.

When the golden ha'tak settled over the pyramid that filled the valley, hearts stood still, before pounding painfully against ribs. None of the other attackers had dared to land in such a manner. Who would be so bold?

It hadn't taken his mind but a few fleeting seconds to recognize the dark haired man when the rings activated, and his god was suddenly standing before him. The Captain of the Guard dropped to his knees. "I serve thee, my Lord," he intoned, his voice trembling slightly.

"You have done well," Ares replied. "Gather the people that I might speak to them."

"Yes, My Lord." The man fairly flew from the pyramid, down the stone steps, calling out to all who could hear him, telling them to gather everyone...the day for which they'd long awaited had arrived. Their god had returned!

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Daniel was working on a translation when he heard her sigh. He glanced over at her, saw the slight frown on her face. She'd buried herself in working on a database, one that would link the gods of Earth myths with the Goa'uld they were learning about. She'd told him about the dozens of cross-references, and the fact that the Goa'uld seemed to have 'adopted' the names and personifications of gods so old in antiquity that no one had a clue who they'd really been, or whether they'd been nothing more than the creation of men and women who'd lived in caves, needing to explain things like thunder and rain and the sun and the moon and life and death. "What's wrong?"

"Well, according to this, Anhur was an Egyptian warrior and hunter," Casey replied. "Ptolemaic Greeks equated him with Ares. But, according to the information Karinda was able to gather, Ares, and those who are recognized as the Olympian gods, were just another branch of the Goa'uld family tree, kicked off the First World shortly before Ra was banished by rebel slaves." She was convinced that without the Tok'ra, that rebellion would never have occurred.

"The Greeks equated him with Ares," Daniel said quietly, waiting for her to make the connection.

"Yes, as in...oh...got it! There was Ares, and there was Anhur. Same job, basically, two different Goa'uld."

He couldn't help but grin proudly. She must be tired, or she'd have seen that much sooner. He glanced at his watch. Holy shit! It was after seven! It seemed that his Wife was just as apt to get caught up in a project as he was. A thought that made his heart beat faster with love, with excitement. "Are you at a stopping point?"

Casey looked up from the monitor. "If I could finish this page..."

His grin broadened. Is that how he sounded, begging for just a few more minutes? "It's after seven."

Her eyes went wide, she looked at her own watch. "How did that happen?"

Daniel couldn't help but laugh. "You worked, time passed. Let's call it a night."

"But-"

"Casey, you're getting tired. I can see it in your eyes. The fact that you didn't see the distinction between Anhur and Ares proves it. Let's go home."

As much as she hated to admit it, he was right. If she continued working, as tired as she obviously was, she was likely to make a huge mistake that could ruin days of work. She saved all of her documents, and turned the computer off.

"I always thought that the Olympian and the Norse gods were more...hands-on than those of the Egyptian pantheon," Daniel admitted. "The Egyptian gods were more...god-like. They took care of the people, and did it without interfering so much with the peasants."

"No screwing around with shepherds and maidens, eh?" Casey smiled.

"Nope. The Egyptian gods knew better. Causes too much trouble," Daniel replied.

"Considering the trouble the Greek gods could cause, the Egyptian people were lucky, weren't they?"

"We don't know how much is myth, and how much is truth."

"I heard a brilliant archaeologist once say that all myths have a basis in truth. That somewhere within the story is a hint of what really happened."

"Brilliant, huh?" he grinned.

"Absolutely." She stood and stretched, her back sore from sitting for so long, working so hard on a database that would hopefully make finding information on any specific Goa'uld a bit easier.

The woman did amazing things for his ego. And specific parts of his anatomy. He grinned broader at that thought. "Let's go, Angel. We could pick up some Chinese food to take home."

"Great idea," she admitted.

"I thought so."

They walked hand in hand to the elevator. Joked with the guards at the check points. Rode the bus to the parking lot. The same thing they did every evening when they left the mountain. Routine. Normal. Predictable.

The presence of Sam's Volvo, and the absence of the Ford F250, was proof that Jack had made good his threat to carry Sam out of her lab if need be. She was in the middle of a project that was the source of excited chatter and detailed explanations during their lunch breaks. One of which Jack forcefully reminded her, it seemed. It was also apparent that Jack was not about to stand back and let her work the hours she'd put in before they'd been given permission to be together. That, Casey thought, was a very good thing. Sam had buried herself in her work, an attempt to focus her thoughts anywhere but on the love she felt for her CO. Now, she had to 'unlearn' that protective behavior. And Jack was just the man to help the major with that learning process...or 'unlearning' process, she thought with a smile.

 

 

 

Daniel had learned much from Jack and from Teal'c. Experience had re-enforced many of those lessons. So when the dark sedan pulled out of the parking lot beside the small espresso stand across from the main gate as the Jeep went by, he noticed. He noticed when it took each turn that he did.

"Um...Stud Muffin, Chin Li's is the other direction," Casey said, watching as they veered right on Baker Street.

"Hang on, Angel," he muttered. He sped up. Took the next corner abruptly, then sped to the middle of the block, spinning the tires as he maneuvered the Jeep into the alley.

"Daniel?"

The hint of fear in her voice had him sparing a glance at her. "Get your phone, babe. Hit the number Sam programmed in."

Oh, god! After Cassie's experience with Simmons, when the NID bureaucrat had shown up in Silver Springs, Sam had written a program that would set off alarms in the mountain, and could be activated by certain cell phones, which she'd carefully modified, using a bit of Tollan technology...acquired from their reluctant 'friends' after long and painstaking negotiations. Those modified cell phones belonged to General Hammond, Janet and Cassie Fraiser, and the members of SG-1. Shaking fingers searched for her phone, wrapped around it.

He backed into an empty driveway, the Jeep hidden in the shadows painted by a large oak tree. Prayed that the homeowner wouldn't arrive...or need to leave...any time soon. "Got it?"

She nodded. She opened the small phone, pressed seven-seven-zero-zero. The code was actually an aviation transponder code. Sam had surmised that if the emergency code was needed, the NID would no doubt be involved. And that they'd be listening in on any calls placed by the team members. The code would appear on their monitoring equipment as a call to information. Casey had no idea how her best friend had been able to work her technical voodoo. At that moment, she was just damned glad that the brilliant astrophysicist had done so.

 

 

 

Lieutenant Myers looked up when the alarm in the control room began to screech. A message appeared on the computer monitor in front of him...

"7-7-0-0 IDC SG-1 Jackson, Casey R. Dialing...421-733-5876..."

Well, this certainly couldn't be good!  The lieutenant picked up his phone and notified the general.

 

 

 

She jumped slightly when the phone in her hand began to play the generic ring tone that alerted her to a call from anyone other than Daniel. Her eyes wide, she flipped it open. "Hello?"

"Mrs. J, this is Myers. General Hammond has requested that you and Doctor Jackson report to the base immediately."

Nicely pre-arranged code for 'message received', get to the base stat. The general, Jack, and Sam would be notified as well, and security teams were being dispatched to their individual homes. After the run-in with the FBI, those working in the secret facility beneath Cheyenne Mountain trusted no one on the outside. "Right. On our way," Casey replied, hoping her voice sounded calmer than she felt.

Daniel peered up and down the alley. So far, the sedan he'd seen hadn't made an appearance. He pulled out of their hiding place slowly, drove toward the street. Someone had targeted SG-1 yet again.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The team stood around the table in Sam's lab, watching as she connected to the computer in an office in Kansas City. "We'll see what the activity for the past three days has been," the major explained. "Gary doesn't have anyone monitoring the system twenty-four/seven."

"Don't know that it'd do much good. They're just as capable of using code as we are," Jack pointed out.

"Exactly," Sam nodded. "But we'll have a better idea what they're up to this way."

General Hammond frowned. "The fact that only Daniel and Casey were followed leads me to suspect that Casey is the target."

"I agree, General," Jack said.

Casey rolled her eyes. "I am so not amused! The Goa'uld are after me. The NID are after me. Why can't they just leave me alone?"

Daniel gave a wry smile. "You've got a gift that they want, Angel. The Goa'uld are convinced that you're the key to dominance. The NID...who knows what the NID want from you."

"Well," she sighed, "I suppose it's only fitting that the new Director of the NID should be shown first hand what SG-1 is capable of. You'd think that the bad guys would learn...mess with us, and they go down."

Jack chuckled. "Yeah, you'd think. But when have the bad guys ever used their brains?"

"Is this a trick question?" Casey retorted immediately, bringing more chuckles from her companions.

Sam frowned. "It's not the NID."

The silence that filled the room at this announcement began to fill with tension. Jack rubbed a hand on the back of his neck. "Ideas, anyone?"

Shaking heads was the only response. All eyes turned to Casey.

"Can you see anything?" Daniel asked quietly.

"I can take a look," she offered. Watched the silent exchange between Jack and her Husband. Neither man was comfortable with the searches she did. Knowing that Dartal had been able to 'drag' her to the astral plane had made them aware that there were others who could probably do the same thing. It was one thing to have the information dumped on her. Even going to a specific place, examining a planet, for example, wasn't as nerve wracking as it was when she simply went 'out' and began to look around. The risks always seemed higher in that situation.

Jack shrugged, looked at the general. "Sir?"

"Have the security teams reported in?"

"Not yet, sir," Sam replied.

"Let's wait until we hear from them," Hammond said, not any more eager than Jack or Daniel to put Casey into a potentially dangerous situation. "Whoever's out there has no doubt figured out that Doctor Jackson has returned to the base. I'll have security do a check on any vehicles parked nearby."

With the decision on what to do made, at least until the identity of the driver and any passengers in the sedan could be determined, the team headed for the commissary.

"I was going to get Chinese," Casey grumbled.

Daniel put his arm around her. "Sorry, Angel."

Her arm went around his waist. "I'll survive. I suppose this means we have to spend the night on the base?"

"Until we know who is after you, and why, yep." Jack looked over at her. "Need to call Emma about the mail?"

"Probably should," Casey replied, wondering why her CO would be concerned about a thing like their personal mail. Then smiled at his unspoken message. "I'll ask if she's seen anyone new in the neighborhood."

Jack grinned. "Good thinking."

Daniel leaned against the wall of the elevator. He and Casey confined their love making to oral pleasure on the base. Mostly because the sweet song of love that she sang to him each time they made love was loud enough to be heard through the door of their quarters. He didn't need her hearing any rumors about them, and their love life. It wasn't a huge sacrifice. Better than being unable to enjoy one another at all. But the thought that some...goon, as Casey would refer to whoever was after them, or more specifically, her...was interfering with his life, their life, pissed him off. He'd had more than enough of that type of interference in the past weeks without her.

"Daniel?" Sam asked softly, noting the frown on the archaeologist's face. "Is something wrong?"

He grimaced. "Yeah. Someone is after my Wife. Again."

Casey ducked her head, pulled her lip between her teeth. How tired Daniel must be of the drama...the constant rush from one crisis to another! Especially when the majority of them seemed to center around her, and her abduction by one enemy or another. She was lucky that he didn't just throw his hands up in frustration, and walk away.

He watched her eyes. Recognized the emotions. Fear. Anger. And most plainly visible of all, guilt. He shook his head mentally. No doubt she was convinced that this was her fault. There was no proof that she was the target. There was just as much of a chance that it was him they were after. He did have a few skills that the NID had wanted access to before. And it wouldn't surprise him to learn that there were rogue agencies that they hadn't heard of that worked for, or with that nefarious group. "What if they're after me?"

Jack nodded. "Could be. If they have something that they've taken from Area 51, or was supposed to be taken to Area 51, then they might need your talents to translate something."

Something poked the back of her mind. It was just a tiny poke. Not even enough to be recognized, not fully. But it was there. Something about Area 51...and the NID...and missing artifacts...

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

"I have news that you probably won't want to hear," the silver-haired man said as he poured water into a goblet of black obsidian.

"And what is this news?" the younger man asked, rolling lazily from his back to his side on the rumpled bed.

"A Goa'uld long ago banished by Ra has returned."

Tem sat up, the silk sheet falling to his hips. "When?"

Kinsey shrugged. "Sometime in the past month. Rumor has it that word's gone out among his priests that a lavish festival is being planned on Thracia in order to celebrate his long awaited return."

Ares and his companions...those of the same genetic Goa'uld family, were as useless as they came, Tem thought irritably. Hedonistic and narcissistic, the group had caused unending trouble among the small groups of Tau'ri on the islands Ra had confined them to. Even so, they occasionally had their uses. And Ares had been most...useful...when he'd provided the information needed to find the cloaking device that Ra had been working on. Which, he sighed mentally, had no doubt been stolen from him during his lonely exile on the First World. Tem still had no clue how Ares had come by the information. And suspected that it was this same Goa'uld who'd whispered in Ra's ear about what his son was spending his time doing. "Prepare for a journey. We shall welcome Ares back."

His memories of his past life were gone. He could no longer access any that might have remained after his...training. Simply because Tem refused to take that chance that his lover would double-cross him. Probably a good call on the Goa'uld's part. Because Kinsey remained Kinsey. He looked sharply at his lover. His god. Tem wouldn't welcome this Goa'uld back unless there was something he wanted. "As you wish."

Climbing from the bed, Tem strolled naked across the room. A new data crystal waited on his desk. He inserted it into the computer, read the report carefully. His smile was demonic. He turned and caught Kinsey's face between his hands, then kissed him deeply. "Soon, my pet, we shall have my queen in our bed. I know exactly where she is! We shall greet Ares, and then go for her!"

He shivered with delicious anticipation. He and his 'son' had shared many of the harem girls, fucking the terrified women and each other to the point of exhaustion. As Tem continued to build his fantasy about the queen he'd have at his side, and share happily with his 'father', the fantasy became Kinsey's own. "She'll bear you many fine sons, worthy of being hosts to the most loyal among your Goa'uld."

"Yes, she will. Get dressed, my pet. We have much to do."

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The commissary was empty when the team walked through the doors. The evening meal had been served an hour earlier, although there would be plenty for any who came in hungry and ready for a late dinner.

The menu insisted that Lemon Chicken and rice pilaf was the entrée of the day. Daniel had his doubts as he picked at the piece of meat that lay on the plate. He'd always thought that rice was the one thing that the SGC cooks could turn out without completely ruining it. Perhaps today was just an off day. He glanced at Casey, who had opted for one of the Cobb salads that had been on display in the cooler. She wasn't eating. She was, however, carefully rearranging everything in the bowl. He sighed mentally. "Case?"

"Hmm?"

"Do you want something else?"

She looked up at him. "What?"

Daniel nodded at the now 'stirred' salad. "Would you rather have something else for dinner?"

"General Tsao's chicken comes to mind," she grumped.

He couldn't help but grin. "Tomorrow night. I promise."

Casey returned the smile that warmed her to her toes. "I'll hold you to that."

Jack took a sip of his coffee. "As soon as we know who the mystery driver is, we'll get this wrapped up," he said. "I want to watch the game sitting on my couch drinking my beer tomorrow night."

The poking in the back of her mind became stronger. There was something...she closed her eyes. NID. Area 51. Artifacts. "Chinese!"

"Casey?" Sam asked, raising one eyebrow slightly. She was certain her friend was no longer talking about General Tsao's chicken.

"Simmons was selling artifacts to the Chinese," Casey said.

"Probably secrets as well," Jack growled. Then looked over at the resident seer. "Oh, crap!"

Casey nodded. "Yep. I'm betting they know all about the Stargate program. And, they know exactly who deciphered the cover stone, and discovered how the Stargate works. You're right. They aren't after me. They're after Daniel! They have something that they can't figure out, and they want him to do it for them!"

"I'll lay odds that getting you is part of the deal," Jack said to Casey. "They'll threaten you to keep him doing what they want."

"We'd better tell the general," Daniel said calmly. Inside, he was quaking. He'd heard the stories about the treatment the men and women of the downed surveillance plane had received. Oh, the media and public at large weren't given the full story. But as Jack said, the military community was a very close-knit group. And word got around. Especially when one of those captured had been an Air Force airman. Nothing as obvious as beatings for this group. They'd been separated, questioned for hours, not allowed to sleep, and then their lives were threatened. After having their plane shot at, another tidbit of information that had escaped the mainstream media, no one on that crew doubted that their lives were indeed in jeopardy. How much worse would the threats be due to the fact that the United States was keeping a secret as large as the Stargate program?

She could see the worry...the fear...in his eyes. Knew instinctively that he was not afraid for himself. Daniel was the bravest man she'd ever met. No, that fear had to do with her, and what this entire mess could mean for the country...the entire world. The public was far from ready to know about the Stargate, and what it meant. This...incident...could blow the lid off of the entire thing; and not in a good way!

The team filed into the general's office. The looks on their faces had him sitting up, and moaning mentally. "Colonel?"

"Sir, Radar managed to put a few puzzle pieces together. We have a bigger problem than someone wanting to snatch Daniel and her," Jack said.

"And that problem would be?"

"The Chinese, sir. They were in cahoots with Simmons. They know about the Stargate, and the SGC," the colonel replied.

Hammond sat back in his chair. The implications were terrifying. It was bad enough that the Russians had found the 'gate that had gone down in the Pacific, and that they'd used the Stargate they'd salvaged from the bottom of the ocean. They had, so far, been more than willing to keep the secret, especially after their own disastrous trips through the 'gate. At least, those that they admitted to. The reports of the American team members after the first 'rescue' mission had described an operation nearly as large as the one in Cheyenne Mountain. SG-1 had been convinced that the Russian 'gate had been operational for some time, although Sam had been unable to explain how they'd kept it a secret, and why there hadn't been any 'cross returns', such as the incident that had sent her and Jack to the Antarctic. Jack was convinced that Maybourne's presence on the Russian base was their answer...that he had, at that time, had a spy among the personnel of the SGC, who was feeding the mission roster to the NID agent. They were able to simply adjust their own missions to occur, and teams return, when the American 'gate was 'unused'.

The Russians had in no way, shape or form been prepared for what lay on the other side of the wormhole. SG-1 had been called in to aid the Russians on two rescue missions. The first disaster had resulted in the deaths of everyone at their secret facility. When a second 'joint' rescue mission had ended so horrifically, the Russians had sealed their Stargate, and had given full blessing for the SGC in Cheyenne Mountain to maintain the only active Stargate program. Although their insistence that they be allowed to 'participate' continued to grow. To have the others know...oh, what a fine mess this was! Their only hope would be to circumvent the Chinese. If the G8 members were aware of what was going on, a subtle message could be relayed to Beijing. Hopefully a message stern enough to prevent a global nightmare. "I have no doubt the Chinese would be very willing to broadcast what they know," the general sighed.

"Exactly. Which is why we have to cut them off," Daniel said. "The president needs to let the members of the G8 know what's going on. And he has to do it now."

"I suggest he bring them here, sir," Casey said. "The best way to prove it to them is to show them first hand. And Thor should be here as well."

"This could be difficult," the general admitted. "Is there anything specific the president should tell these leaders?"

Casey frowned. "Excuse me?"

In spite of the seriousness of the situation, the people in the room began to chuckle. There couldn't be a more apt confirmation of Casey's suggestion.

"I so hate when that happens! What'd I say?" she complained.

"That the president, Thor, and the other members of the G8 need to meet here immediately," Sam said.

"Oh. That's nice." She cocked her head. Pulled her lip between her teeth. "Tell the president that there's a sure fire way to get them all here without one whimper of complaint."

"And that would be?"

With a grin, Casey began to recite personal, intimate facts about each of the men who were the representatives for their country in the Group of Eight. No doubt none of them would be willing to have any of the information leak to the media.

The team stood by as General Hammond made the call. For one group of people, the world as they knew it was about to come to an end. The danger in allowing these people to know about the Stargate was that they'd no doubt insist on becoming a part of the program. Casey smiled as Miss Eloise whispered to her. If nothing else, things would be...interesting!

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Emma Hanks was fixing a cup of tea when the phone rang. "Hello?"

"Emma, this is Casey Jackson."

The old woman immediately peered through the window above her kitchen sink. She couldn't see any lights in the windows of the house behind her. "Hello, Casey."

"Emma, I need to ask you a favor."

She chuckled. "Is the basket on the breakfast bar?" The giggle that filled her ear was reassuring. Nothing...dangerous...going on, she thought with a sigh of relief.

"Yes, it is. And thanks. Oh, by the way, you have haven't noticed anyone new in the neighborhood, have you? Nobody...oh, I don't know, just kind of wandering around?"

The young woman's tone of voice was too casual. She could sense the underlying tension. As for the question itself, well, curiosity battled to be heard over the warnings that filled her head. "Haven't seen anybody."

"Good, that's really good," Casey sighed.

Apparently her young neighbor wasn't able to speak freely. She'd had thirty-five years of experience; talking to her Henry, their 'secret code' telling anyone listening absolutely nothing, and allowing her to know exactly what was going on. "Your roses look like they could use a bit of water. I should probably turn the sprinklers on now. Better to water at night or early in the morning."

"Oh, I'd appreciate that!"

Aha. So Casey did want her to take a quick look around. "I know you're busy, dear, but while I have you on the phone, I was wondering about that cookie recipe."

On the base, Casey's brow wrinkled in confusion. Cookie recipe? And watering the roses? She giggled when she realized just exactly what the old woman was up to. "I'm sorry, I forgot all about it. Okay, it's in the red and green cookbook. I've changed the recipe that's in the book, so be sure to write down my scribbles. It makes sense to me, but if you need help, just give me a call. You have my cell number, right?"

"Yes, honey, I do. If I have any trouble at all, I'll give you a call."

"I have to run...more data coming in," Casey said, keeping up the charade of the deep space telemetry cover story. "Thanks so much for getting the mail and watering the roses."

"I'm happy to do it for you, dear."

"Talk to you later. Bye."

"Bye, Casey."

With determination, and not a little excitement at being part of something covert, Emma grabbed her sweater. The roses really did need to be watered. She hurried down the sidewalk toward the back fence, where Daniel had installed a gate between the two yards, making visiting one another much easier. She slipped into the yard. Took her time finding the hose, connecting it, and dragging it to the side of the house where the roses were the most dry. Her eyes scanned the vehicles parked on the street. She wasn't as familiar with Baldwin street as she was with Chapman, but she was smart enough to recognize what looked like a rental car. The sun was too far down to be able to tell the exact color. But it was dark. And parked across the street. She fished the key from her pocket, opened the side door, making certain that she locked it carefully behind her.

When she opened the front door to gather the mail, she took another good look at the car. The driver was wearing sunglasses. Didn't he realize that gave him away? She 'harrumphed' silently to herself, closed and locked the front door. She checked the windows in each room, making certain they were locked.

"Well, that should make Daniel happy...and horny!" she chuckled when she turned to leave the bedroom and noticed the portrait hanging above the dresser. He always called Casey his 'Angel'. Whoever the photographer had been, he or she had captured the most seductive angel imaginable, Emma thought. She gave another chuckle, and went back to the kitchen.

As long as she was here, she might as well get that cookie recipe. It only took a few minutes to copy it down, using a sheet of paper from one of the yellow pads on Daniel's desk. Casey's neat handwriting was easy to read, and the instructions simple to understand. With a nod, she made certain the door would lock behind her, twisted the doorknob to make sure, and then hurried back to the safety of her own home.

Casey had given her every phone number she could think of in case of an emergency. The list was inside her address book. Dialing carefully, knowing that Casey wouldn't have mentioned the cell phone without a reason, she listened to the sound that indicated that it was ringing.

"Hello?"

"Casey, it's me, dear. I hate to bother you, but I wanted to make these cookies for my canasta game tomorrow. You have one teaspoon of baking...but not whether it should be powder or soda."

"Oh, powder! I guess I've made them so many times I just didn't notice!"

"Well, that's what I thought, but I wanted to make certain. Everything else is just fine. And you tell that good looking colonel of yours that if he's still looking for a car, I might have found one for him. It's dark, not sure if it's black or that god-awful green. But it's four door. From what I could see it looked new. Now, I don't know a thing about cars, so he'd have to take a look at it. But I think Mr. Thompkins would give him a good deal on it."

"I'll tell him, Emma. Thank you so much!"

"You're welcome, Casey. I'll talk to you when you get home."

"Yes, you will. Bye."

Satisfied that the message had been received, Emma began to gather the ingredients for chocolate walnut cookies. They probably wouldn't be as good as her young neighbor could bake. Probably all of the love that she put in them, the old woman smiled. But they'd be darn good with a glass of cold milk!

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The team was sharing a final cup of coffee before heading to their individual quarters. Casey grinned, closed her phone, winked at Daniel. "We have to do something special for Emma," Casey said. "One car. Dark, Four door. Newer. She didn't know what kind it was, but it's sitting in front of the Thompkins' place."

Jack grinned. "That old woman should be a spy."

"How do we know she's not?" Daniel chuckled, only half joking.

Sam was smiling as well. "You have a wonderful neighbor in Emma Hanks."

"Don't I know it," Casey agreed. She'd longed to tell the older woman the truth about what she and Daniel did, explain the reasons for their unexpected and sometimes lengthy absences. Maybe, just maybe, she'd do so. No matter what Emma learned, no one would ever hear it from her lips!

General Hammond came into the commissary, poured a cup of coffee, and sat down with the premier team. "The president is pretty shaken. He said we'd be hearing back from him within an hour or so. Stopping the Chinese from going public has just become priority number one. As for the members of G8, well, we'll have to see how that goes."

"They're going to want a piece of the action," Jack said flatly.

"No doubt," the general agreed.

"You realize that the G8 might not be able to stop the Chinese," Daniel said softly.

"If not, things could get very ugly, very quickly," Sam sighed.

For several minutes the group silently contemplated the ramifications of having the Stargate program becoming pubic knowledge...and in such a manner. The backlash of anger at the program being kept secret would be destructive at the least. The panic of what would be learned could cause world-wide chaos at the worst. And on top of it all, they had to stop a Goa'uld who was well on his way to universal domination. When it rained, it poured.


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