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The Devil In the Details

Chapter 11 

Thursday 0215 hours

Casey sat straight up, her heart pounding. Images were still twirling in her mind; the feeling of absolute panic that had gripped her was still just as strong as it had been when the 'download' had started.

"Case?" Daniel asked, his voice raspy from sleep, having been awakened by her sudden movement.

"He's going to do it! The slimy bastard is going to do it!" she hissed. She tossed the blankets aside, rolling towards the edge of the bed.

"Who? Do what?"

"He's going to take the First World! He knows Thor is out there, but he doesn't care! He's already called for his ships...they might already be here!"

"Lousy, goddamned snake," Daniel muttered, climbing out of bed. "He's breaking the treaty."

She rolled her eyes. "Yeah, big surprise there." She glanced toward the bathroom. "I...um...well..."

He knew that she hated not being clean. He understood exactly how that phobia had become a part of her. "We have time," he said softly.

They were showered and dressed in less than ten minutes. "We have to find a way to contact the SGC," Casey murmured.

Daniel grinned. Picked up one of the 'reference books' Sam had sent along with his book on Phoenicia, and Casey's bodice rippers and the coffee. On the back, inside flap, was what appeared to be a raised water mark. It was dark, and it was small. And it wasn't a water mark at all. The note that Sam had carefully worded, just in case the Goa'uld or his Jaffa had discovered it, gave instructions on just how to use the communication device. He grabbed the book, carefully tapped on the center of the mark.

"What are you doing?"

"Sending an SOS to the SGC. Sam's idea," he replied. "Latest in military spyware."

Her smile lit the room. "Awesome! Now what?"

He studied the door. "Think we can convince them to open that door?"

"We can always try."

"If we can get to the rings, we can make it to the SGC before Ba'al knows we're gone," Daniel said. "Pack up, Angel, we're out of here."

Quietly, so as not to alert the guard, or guards, who waited on the other side of the door, the two SG-1 team members gathered their belongings, and stuffed everything back into the duffels they had brought. It took a bit of searching to find anything to use as weapons.

Deciding that he had no other choice than to try to knock the Jaffa out immediately, Daniel emptied the water and flowers from the crystal vase that sat on a table near the wardrobe, and from the copper tea kettle. He'd have to hit them as soon as the door opened. If anything went wrong, the two of them were going to be in deep trouble.

"If I can lure them in here, we might have a better chance," Casey suggested.

"Right," Daniel agreed. Frowned when Casey unbuttoned her little red blouse, and unhooked her bra. "Casey?"

"Daniel, we're unarmed. I have to keep their attention on me while you smack the crap out of them. Think nude beaches."

"Nude beaches. Right." Okay, so technically the beach they'd visited during their honeymoon had been designated as a nude beach. And they had frolicked on that beach, naked and carefree. They'd been lucky, however, and hadn't had to share their 'section' of the beach with anyone. And Daniel wasn't at all sure he liked the idea of Casey flashing anyone, especially Ba'al's Jaffa.

"Chances are, it's just a re-run," she added, shuddering mentally. She had no idea how many of Ba'al's Jaffa had raped her. She suspected that every one of the bastards on that cursed planet had taken her at least once.

Another thought that did little to soothe him. The thought that the Jaffa standing on the other side of the door had been among the number who'd raped his wife served only to fuel his anger. Which, he thought fleetingly, was probably a good thing. Whether or not she'd intended it as such, he had no idea.

"We have to leave, Stud Muffin, and we're improvising at best here," she pointed out.

"I hate this. I've hated this from the beginning. Have I mentioned that?"

She smiled. "A time or two. Ready?"

He pressed himself against the wall beside the door. Nodded.

"Hey out there! Could you give me a hand please?" She waited, unaware she was holding her breath. She put her hands on her hips, a movement that completely exposed one breast, although she was blissfully unaware of the fact.

The door opened, and one of the Jaffa stepped into the room. His eyes went wide as he took in the sight of the half dressed woman.

"My Husband passed out in the bathroom. I think he's ill. Can you help me get him to the bed?"

The Jaffa turned and signaled to his partner, who also gaped at the view that was waiting just inside the room. Before either was able to comprehend what was happening, Daniel had hit them, shattering the vase over the head of one of the men, denting the tea kettle on the other. Both men went down, but neither were knocked unconscious.

Casey lunged forward and grabbed the staff weapon that the first man had dropped when he went to his knees, blood pouring from the cuts on his head caused by the glass. She swung hard and fast, making contact with the man's jaw, most certainly breaking it, and thankfully sending him into la-la land for a brief visit.

Daniel had grabbed the other Jaffa from behind and had his arm around the man's neck, squeezing hard, trying to avoid the flailing arms and hands that continued to reach for him. "Lights out, asshole," he grunted, applying more pressure against the man's throat, a technique that Teal'c had carefully taught him. Seconds seemed to turn to hours as he waited for the effects of oxygen deprivation to render the Jaffa unconscious.

The man stilled, and for a minute Daniel was certain that he was dead. Which, at the moment, wasn't an issue that he cared to consider. "We need to hide them, and clean this up a bit."

Casey nodded, her fingers making quick work of readjusting her clothes. While Daniel dragged the two limp bodies to the bathroom, she tossed the tea kettle beneath the bed, and picked up the largest of the vase pieces. Those she hid beneath one of the pillows on the bed.

Daniel emerged, picked up the staff weapons that had been dropped to the floor after the struggle, tossed one to his wife, then grabbed the straps of the duffels. "Let's go."

They peeked around the door...there was no one in sight. So far, so good. They closed and locked the door, then inched their way along the corridor.

The ring transport was on the fifth level. They were, they discovered, on the eighth level. No choice, the couple agreed. They had one chance. The elevator would get them to the level they needed. With luck, it was still early enough in the 'day' for the ship's occupants that only duty patrols would be awake...and if they were really lucky, none would be on the fifth level...or at least nowhere near the rings.

The elevator doors slid open. Leading at a run, Daniel charged forward, glancing down the connecting corridors. Casey was on his heels. When they slid around the corner, racing to where the ring transport waited, they both groaned mentally. Luck was not with them.

Four Jaffa stood guard, no doubt Ba'al suspected that they might try to escape at some point. Daniel charged the staff weapon and fired, taking down one of the guards before they had registered that the Tau'ri were running toward them. Alarms began to wail around them.

"Fuck!" Casey swore. She fired as well, taking down a second Jaffa, just barely throwing herself against the wall in time to avoid the shot being aimed at her. Daniel had dropped to the floor, shot the third guard, Casey had the fourth out after his second shot failed to impact on her.

Either the Jaffa were lousy marksmen, or they hadn't wanted to hit the Tau'ri. Daniel didn't have time to worry about the implications of that fact...he raced toward the controls. "Ten seconds," he muttered.

She understood, her eyes sweeping the area around them. He needed ten seconds to program the rings to get them to the SGC. She glanced up, wished that the damned alarms would just go silent.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Ba'al was on his feet the instant the sound of the alarms broke through the restless sleep he'd been enduring. His first thought was that Zeus had attacked. The fact that there had been no repercussions from impacts let him know that that wasn't the case. "Casey!" he growled.

The Tau'ri were attempting to flee...he had no need to search their quarters to know this for fact. He led his personal guard toward the ring transport. While he didn't give a damn about the treaty that had been signed, had every intention of breaking it as soon as the time was right, he'd expected the Tau'ri to honor it. By not doing so, they were complicating matters for him!

Ensuat frowned as he followed his god. Two of the guards who stood near the rings were rebels, he'd recruited them. He could only hope that they were able to help the Tau'ri get away safely. When Ba'al had sent messages to his ships to join him immediately, he'd spent the night trying to find a way to get a message to the SGC. Knowing that Casey Jackson was a seer, and that it was possible she would thus learn of the deception, he'd carefully set into motion a scheme to get the Tau'ri off the ship. He knew full well what Ba'al's plans were...for both of the Jacksons. He sighed mentally. There was nothing he could do at the moment...not if he intended to live out the day. Bra'tac had told him that his position was crucial. That he was to remain a part of the elite personal guard until the time had come for the rebels to flee Ba'al's ships. Which meant that if he was forced to fire on two who were allies, and aid in their capture, he would do so.

Heart pounding, anger boiling in his veins, Ba'al raced toward the rings. Came around the corner just in time to see the flash of light that indicated his prisoners had made good their escape. "NOC!" Ba'al roared, seething. Once again Casey had left him. His love and his anger began to battle once again.

'She will never come to your side! She hates you! She hates you! Just as I hate you!'

He pressed a hand to his head.

"My Lord?" Ensuat asked quietly, frowning as the look of anger had turned to one of fear.

"Come. My ships should be in position. We will attack. I will have this planet under my control by nightfall," Ba'al hissed.

'It will never happen! You know that! The Asgard will destroy you! Finally I will know peace! You are about to die, Ba'al!'

"SILENCE!" Ba'al shouted. He glanced at the startled faces of the Jaffa around him. He was a god. He had no need to explain himself. He hurried back toward the elevator. Not all was lost...not yet. The attack would occur without the benefit of the announcement of his presence. His Minister of Knowledge had been monitoring the communications of the planet below, translating what he'd called 'news broadcasts'. The Tau'ri were a quarrelsome, fragmented people. Breaking them, taking control over them would be as simple as attacking the largest of the cities, then making his demands. Yes, in just a matter of hours, he would be the greatest System Lord of the galaxy!

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Daniel grabbed the handle that activated the alarm system, gave it a vicious twist, the klaxons wailing in response. The duffels hit the floor with matching thuds, the staff weapons clattered as they were tossed aside. He and Casey ran toward the control room, not taking time to acknowledge the surprised looks on the familiar faces of coworkers.

Jack whirled to watch the two dash past him, then broke out into a run himself, following closely. If they were here, then what the hell was going on upstairs? He skidded to a stop at General Hammond's office door. "Something's up," he said, panting slightly. "Space Monkey and Radar just ran to the control room!"

The general nearly upended his chair in his haste to get up. "What's going on?"

"Don't know, sir," Jack replied. "I wouldn't have known they were even here if I hadn't already been on my way down here to investigate the alarms."

Daniel had nearly pushed Walter from his chair, giving hurried apology, keying the sequence he knew would put him in touch with the Prometheus. "Colonel Ronson, this is Daniel Jackson."

"Go ahead, Doctor Jackson," Ronson's voice replied.

"Colonel, there are probably a dozen, maybe more, anomalies in your vicinity, because Ba'al just sent a message to his fleet. I think he's getting ready to attack."

"Doctor Jackson, what in the hell is going on?" General Hammond demanded to know.

"Sir, Casey got an information dump about...what, twenty minutes ago?" he asked his Wife.

She nodded. "About that."

"Ba'al is moving in for the kill. He's going to take over the First World, announce that he's the Supreme System Lord, and then go after Zeus," Daniel said.

"He had a little dinner party last night to let Zeus know," Casey tossed in.

"He what?" Jack asked, his eyes going wide.

"Apparently the Goa'uld do this whole posturing thing before they get down to the actual fighting," Casey replied.

"We need to get word to Bra'tac, if he's got rebels among Ba'al's Jaffa, he needs to do something, or get them the hell out," Daniel added.

Jack leaned over the console, grabbed the microphone. "Walter, can you raise Thor on this thing?"

"I can try, sir," Walter replied, sliding back into the seat Daniel quickly vacated for him.

"Thor can't take out an entire Goa'uld fleet," Casey said softly.

General Hammond smiled. "Not alone, no. But with the Prometheus, and the half dozen Tok'ra ships that have arrived in the past few hours, I think we have a fighting chance."

"The Tok'ra?" Daniel asked, his eyebrows going up in surprise.

"Seems they're as anxious to prevent any one particular Goa'uld from being declared the 'winner' as we are," Hammond grinned.

"You know, if there's a full fledged battle up there, hiding what's going on might not be possible," Casey said softly. "The entire Stargate Program might be exposed anyway."

Oh no. Oh, hell no! He hadn't exposed her to Ba'al, seen her go through what she had, stood by while she damned near prostituted herself in order to give them a chance, just to see the entire thing blow up in their faces. His mind tossed about frantically for an answer. "Meteor shower...or storm...or something," Daniel blurted.

Hammond studied the young man for a moment. Had a pretty good idea just what the archaeologist was thinking. "Colonel, let's make some calls. If we can alert the largest observatories, we might be able to pull this off."

"They'll want answers, sir," Jack said.

"I'm sure they will. I'll call the president. I'm certain that he can give them a satisfactory answer to their questions," the general replied.

"Doctor Jackson, we count sixteen, repeat, we count sixteen anomalies. We're having to move carefully, but from what we can tell, they're settling into orbit. One ship above one large city," Colonel Ronson reported, his voice echoing eerily.

Silence filled the control room for one long moment. "I want a list of those cities, Colonel," General Hammond ordered.

"Yes, sir."

Sam and Teal'c ran into the room. "Daniel? Casey?"

"Tits up," Casey replied, one shoulder moving up, and then back down in that oh-so familiar way.

"Figures," Sam muttered.

"Did you get the SOS we sent?" Daniel asked.

Walter shook his head. "No, sir. There was a hit on the communications satellite, but when no message came through, we assumed it was just random noise."

"That's not possible," Sam frowned. "If you followed the instructions-"

"To the letter, Sam," Daniel said quietly. "They were very detailed."

Her frown deepened. "The only explanation would be his shields. He's altered his shields somehow."

"Well this just keeps getting better by the minute," Jack sputtered, tossing his hands into the air. Altered shields meant that the missiles that had been carefully programmed to disrupt the Goa'uld shield frequency would more than likely be useless now.

"People, I want options, and yesterday," General Hammond said firmly. "I'm going to call the president, he and the Pentagon can work out what to tell the observatories."

Casey cocked her head sideways.

"Incoming," Teal'c intoned. Ignored the looks of surprise that were tossed in his direction.

Daniel was already standing in front of her, running his hands up and down her back, whispering softly to her, urging her to relax, and to breath slowly.

For the first time ever, the images were...incomplete. She could see ships, so many Goa'uld ships...but then the 'pictures' became gray...as if they were photos that hadn't been developed properly.

Her eyes fluttered closed, her heart was pounding against her ribs as she hurled herself, or at least her consciousness, to that place where she always met her Guide.

 

"Miss Eloise!...Miss Eloise!...Come on, old woman, we're on the clock here!" she paced anxiously, precious seconds ticking by.

"What's wrong, Sunshine?" the old seer asked, arriving without warning, standing behind the young woman.

She wheeled toward the sound of her mentor's voice. "I don't know," Casey admitted. "I can't see...the images...the images are gray...and blurry."

Miss Eloise frowned. That could mean only one thing. Those who had the power to discern the future were unable to detect what was about to happen. And that, if she correctly understood what Oma had told her, could only happen if an event was one where the intervention of The One would be needed. "You must guide him, Casey. He'll know what to do."

"Cool blue fire balls?"

The old seer smiled. "I don't know. Wouldn't mind a chance to see that again, though. What is about to happen will have repercussions for generations, and on more than just your plane of existence. Only The One can protect the Innocent, and see to it that the outcome is...favorable."

"Just a hint?"

The old woman shook her gray head. "Casey, if I could tell you, I would. But I don't know...I have no idea what it is that Daniel must do."

Casey suddenly jerked, looked up. "Shit! It's about to get more crowded out there!"

"Tell him, Casey. He'll know what to do."

She looked into the worried blue eyes of the old seer who guided her. That worry scared the bejeezus out of her. If Miss Eloise and Oma and the Big Boys didn't have a clue what was going on...oh, this was so not good!

Miss Eloise took Casey's hand, noted the tremors she could feel, patted it reassuringly. "Daniel is a brilliant man, Sunshine. He thinks in ways that no one else does. That's what makes him so unique, and so suited to be the Champion of the Innocent. Just tell him what he needs to know."

She forced a smile, nodded her understanding. "If you don't hear from me for awhile, better check to make sure Ba'al doesn't have me."

"I'll do that," the old seer promised. "Hurry, Casey."

 

When she opened her eyes, they filled instantly with tears. "It's up to you, Stud Muffin," she said softly.

His eyes went wide. "What?"

"You're The One, Daniel. Yu and a few of his hastily gathered friends are here now, just on the other side of the moon."

"Are they going to stop Ba'al?" General Hammond asked.

"No. They'll wait until he's taken Earth, and then there will be one final battle for supremacy. The Goa'uld wise enough to sit back and wait will take it all, including the First World. Most probably Zeus."

Jack groaned. "Not what we wanted to hear, Radar."

She glared at the ceiling. "HEY! It's my voice and mouth you're using! A little respect is called for, don'tcha think?"

It was enough to have the group chuckling. Hammond took a deep breath. "Doctor Jackson, what do you suggest?"

Daniel shook his head. "I have no idea," he murmured. He'd hoped that Yu would be desperate enough to keep his identity hidden that he would be willing to step in and stop Ba'al, to prevent the Tau'ri from spreading the word about who he really was. Perhaps the fact that Ba'al was his son played more of a part in the scenario than he thought. Would he actually fight at Ba'al's side? Ba'al had killed him! So had Ra, his brain pointed out. But he fought alongside his first son against the Asgard.

"General Hammond," Colonel Ronson's voice jerked them from the silence that had fallen in the room, all eyes on Daniel as they waited for him to supply the answer they so desperately needed. "We have that list of cities."

"Go ahead, Colonel," the general replied.

"Ba'al is still over Cheyenne Mountain. I have no idea why."

"Because he's going to land here," Daniel said quietly. "This is where the Stargate is."

"There are ships, well, anomalies that we assume are cloaked ships, over Washington, D.C.-"

"That's no surprise," Jack mumbled.

"San Francisco, Rio de Janerio, London, Paris, Moscow, Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Delhi, Cairo, Cape Town, Santiago, Jerusalem, Sydney, and Athens."

Sam had pulled up a three dimensional globe of the planet, made possible by the holographic device her father and Selmak had given her when they had come to Earth looking for a missing Goa'uld during their 'census'. They had located, and killed, Seth as a result of that visit. With a few key strokes, red pyramids began to float above the named cities.

"That is so not good," Jack said. "If he hits all of those cities at once, there'll be world wide panic!"

"The destruction will be only part of the panic," Daniel said quietly. "When he attacks, Ba'al won't maintain cloaks on his ships. He wants the citizens he's about to enslave to know he's here. Those ships will attack from low orbit. Then he'll make an announcement...he'll tell them that he's their god. And then he'll start sending down the Jaffa."

"But each country is bound to fight back," Casey argued. "We already know that bullets take them out."

"Armor piercing bullets," Jack corrected. "And if he has gliders, they'll make quick work of any military objectives."

"I'm certain that military installations would be his secondary targets," Daniel said. He shrugged when everyone looked at him. "It makes sense, right? Destroy large, capitol cities, cause a lot of fear and chaos, and while the people are busy panicking, he wipes out their only means of defense."

"We have to stop him," Casey said softly. She put her hand on Daniel's arm. "The question is, how?"

If only he could get through to Lord Yu! If only there were more than one Asgard ship...he paused. Lord Yu had been soundly defeated by the Asgard. The Goa'uld Empire had lost one third of its holdings in a matter of days. That memory, that fear, had held the System Lords in check for millennia. There were those who might suspect that the Asgard wouldn't be capable of defending Earth, or any of the other planets covered by the treaty, but not one of them had been willing to make a move to test that theory...until now. And that was only because Ba'al was poised to win the game of domination.

His frown deepened. Would a warning from Thor be enough? Would the Goa'uld be fooled into believing that the Prometheus was an Asgard ship?

"You aren't going to believe this," Colonel Ronson said. "We've picked up another fleet just this side of Saturn, moving this way, and fast."

"I'm betting it's Zeus," Daniel said, crossing his arms over his chest, tapping one finger against his lips. "If he sits back and waits, he can sweep in and take over while the others are still fighting it out. He has the resources to back up his threats, and by now, everyone of the System Lords in this galaxy are aware of that fact."

"If we have a choice, Zeus would be better," Casey said, giving a shudder.

"What makes you say that?" General Hammond asked.

"He's...different. I can't exactly explain it. But I don't think he'd be as heavy handed as Ba'al."

"Makes no difference," Jack declared. "Conquered is conquered, no matter who's marching through the door."

Daniel studied his wife for a moment. "Zeus was attracted to you, wasn't he?"

Green eyes went wide. "What?"

"Say what?"

"When did you see Zeus?"

"What are you talking about, Doctor?"

He held his hands up. "We'll tell you everything, I promise. Just as soon as we avert another disaster." His attention returned to his wife. "Zeus was attracted to you?"

Casey tugged at her lip. "I think so, I'm fairly sure he was. He went to a bit of trouble just to get a peek or two at the equipment."

It seemed she'd left out that little tidbit of information when she'd told him about the dinner. And he would be talking to her about it...later. "I have an idea. It might work, and it might not."

"Doctor Jackson, we don't have time or any other alternatives at the moment," General Hammond said quietly.

"If I can get to Thor's ship, I can try to contact Yu. Maybe seeing me there, with Thor, will cause a little trip down memory lane. If I can get him to at least try to take on Ba'al, it will distract Ba'al long enough for us to do...something," Daniel said. He looked at Casey. "If you can get to the Prometheus, and contact Zeus, let him know what's going on, and do a little bit of...pleading...tell him what you just said, that if we're going to be subjugated to Goa'uld rule, we'd rather it be him, it might appeal to his ego enough to try to stop Ba'al."

"Colonel Ronson, Casey Jackson is on her way to your ship, she'll be ringing up in a matter of minutes," General Hammond said. "She'll explain when she gets there."

"Yes, sir," Ronson replied.

"Walter, see if you can-"

A flash bright white light, and Daniel disappeared. Jack couldn't help but grin. "Guess the little guy is still listening in."

"I'm going to speak to the president, we need to proceed with warnings, if at all possible," General Hammond said. "If we can keep everyone focused on the problem at hand, we might be able to avert the disaster, and then worry about the fall-out later."

"Come on, Radar, we'll walk you to the rings," Jack offered.

"Can...um...can Teal'c come with me? Please?" Casey asked.

"Of course," Hammond replied, giving her a warm smile. He understood that the two were very close friends. No doubt the Jaffa would be able to offer the comfort she would need until she was back at Daniel's side. He preferred knowing that she was protected, as well.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Daniel looked around. The room, he assumed it was the bridge of the Asgard ship, appeared to be empty. "Uh...hello?"

"Greetings, Doctor Jackson."

Again he looked around. "Thor?"

"I apologize, but I must remain in the engine room. I am working on an idea that occurred to me as I listened to the discussion you were having in your...I believe you call it the control room."

"Yes, that's what we call it."

"I believe your reasoning to be sound. If we can...remind...Lord Yu of his last defeat at the hands of the Asgard, he might not be so willing to face a repeat of those battles."

"Um...just what are you doing?" Daniel asked.

"I am attempting to use our holographic projectors to create a fleet of Asgard ships."

He frowned. "Excuse me?"

"If Lord Yu believes that he sees ships, if his sensors indicate that there are Asgard ships near his position, he will move to safety."

Daniel grinned. "You're going to fake him out!"

There was a moment of silence. "If I correctly understand the words you have used, then yes, that is exactly what I am attempting to do."

"Should I join you there?"

"Yes, Doctor Jackson, that would be most efficient. As soon as I have finished, you will contact Lord Yu with your offer to keep his secret."

Yep, Thor had been doing a lot of listening! "Where do I go?"

"Just follow the markers. They will light up every four meters."

"Got it." When he located the flashing light at the opening to one of the corridors, Daniel hurried toward it. Sure enough, as he stepped into the long passageway, another light began to flash. He started jogging, the lights leading him to where Thor waited. He hoped it wouldn't take the little alien long to rig the...surprise...for Yu.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

"Lay it on thick," Jack grinned, watching as Teal'c and Casey stepped into the center of the rings.

"Inches and inches. I can shovel a lot of shit when I'm this scared," Casey retorted.

He couldn't help but laugh. "You'll do fine, Radar."

"I hope so," she sighed.

With a nod, Jack gave the technician the signal to ring the two up to the waiting Prometheus.

Colonel Ronson was waiting for her. "Welcome aboard," he said. He smiled, but it failed to reach his eyes.

"We know that Zeus is out there somewhere," Casey said immediately. "We need to locate him, and contact him."

"What for?"

"I have to do a little ego stroking."

Ronson looked from Casey to Teal'c. "That will most certainly expose the Prometheus."

"Colonel, if that's the price for saving Earth, I think it's a damned equitable one," Casey replied. "As long as we stay cloaked, Zeus won't actually see the ship. If he doesn't open ship to ship visual communication, then we'll still keep the secret. But one way or another, we have to talk to him."

"I don't understand, I thought Zeus was more powerful than Ba'al," Ronson said.

"We shall endeavor to bring Zeus into the...game," Teal'c explained. "To do so will tip the odds against Ba'al, and with luck will prevent him from beginning his attack on your planet."

"Think it will work?" the colonel asked.

"We're screwed if it doesn't," Casey replied.

"Any idea where this Zeus is?"

Casey cocked her head sideways, then grinned. "I need to see a map."

Ronson grinned in return. "This way."

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

General Hammond had spoken to the president. Explained that Casey and Daniel had escaped, due to Casey's intuition, and had most probably barely made it out alive. And that Ba'al was about to break the treaty in a big way.

All SG teams had been recalled to the base as soon as the threat had become apparent, the general hadn't wanted any teams stuck off world, and he especially wanted all SGC personnel to be able to escape, with their families. Team CO's and department heads had been called together, informed of his decision, and then tasked with alerting their people of the crisis.

SOP was to have all persons who worked for the Stargate Program on the premises during a crisis. The call had gone out the day before, and everyone was present and accounted for. Phone calls home the night before to prepare families for the worst had been made. Now the general had to gather those families in one place, keep them from learning too much about the program until it was time to walk through the 'gate, but close at hand.

It had been Major Ferretti who had suggested using the training hangers as a gathering point. Military trucks and buses could be dispatched, the family members brought in, and through the 'gate in less than an hour's time.

Hammond stepped into the control room. "Walter, send out the word. All family members are to be in Hanger Two within the hour."

The small man gulped. He'd faced many a crisis while working on the project. This was the first time he didn't believe, in the deepest reaches of his heart, that SG-1 was going to be able to pull off a miracle. He nodded; his entire body felt numb. And he made the announcement. Then called his wife.

Jack was in storeroom six, helping to inventory the stores of ammunition when the alert went out. "Okay, get everything ready to move," he ordered. He fought with his conscience for several agonizing minutes. Then ran for the nearest telephone. It was the right thing to do, and for once, he was going to do the right thing by her. He dialed the number with shaking fingers. His heart was pounding with fear when it seemed that no one was home.

"Hello?"

"Uh...hi, Sara."

"Jack?"

"Yeah. Look, no time to explain. Grab what you can carry. Is Mike there with you?"

"Dad's in the other room, should I-"

"Get to the base, Sara. You and Mike. Just get here. When you do, there will be a bus...probably several buses. Lots of wives and kids. Get on one of them."

"Jack, what's going on?"

"Maybe the end of the world."

"Jack O'Neill, are you drunk?"

He closed his eyes. "I wish I was. Please, Sara, just do it. Please."

For a moment he thought she'd hung up on him, there was no sound at all. Then he heard her sigh. "I'll be there. Dad and I will both be there."

Relief washed over him, he nearly collapsed, found support against the wall. "Good. I'll try to get to you as soon as I can. It's going to be a bit chaotic for awhile."

"I understand."

He looked around, watched two SF's run down the corridor. "I have to go. Just get here as soon as you can."

"We're on our way."

He hung up, his knuckles white as his hand remained tightly wrapped around the receiver. He leaned his forehead against the back of his hand. He had to tell Sam. Prayed she'd understand. He took a deep breath, then made his way past a group of Marines who were carrying boxes of weapons to the 'gate room. He needed to get a list of what she'd want sent through the 'gate anyway.

 

 

 

Sam was in her office. Part of her wanted to call her brother. Probably should call him. And tell him what? her brain wanted to know. 'Sorry we couldn't save the world this time? Sorry we didn't tell you that Dad has an alien creature in his body, that he's a member of a group of rebels known as the Tok'ra, and that for six and a half years I've had been a part of a secret military organization that's been aware of the existence of the Goa'uld for almost eight years, and never bothered to warn the rest of the population?' Yeah, that would go over well, she thought. They'd made peace, her father and brother. But it was a tenuous peace at best. What about others who worked here in the mountain, single men and women who had parents and siblings, nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles too far away to get to the warehouse in time? They were probably just as conflicted as she was.

"Sam?"

She looked up. "Jack?"

"I need to talk to you."

"Okay."

He stepped into the room, shoved his hands into his pockets. Looked around at the assortment of test equipment, the bits and pieces of whatever it was she had spread all over the work table. "I...uh..."

She smiled. "I know. Me, too."

"What?" He looked momentarily confused. Often he couldn't say the words. He had other ways of showing his love, and luckily for him, Sam accepted the fact that he wasn't a man given to long flowery speeches. Which right now he wished he could do. "I do love you, Sam. I have since the first time I saw you walk into the briefing room."

Her heart started pounding, that woman's intuition telling her that something was wrong. "But?"

"No buts. I love you. And I called Sara."

For a moment she was stunned. Then his words made sense. He loved her. She knew that he would always care for his ex-wife. It had taken him years to get completely over her. They'd had a son together. There was a lot of history between them. But he loved her. She had no doubt about it, not if he could stand here, in her lab, and declare it, when often he couldn't say the words even when they were in bed together. "Is she coming?"

"She and her dad are on their way."

"Good."

"She won't come between us, I promise."

"If you wanted to be with Sara, you would be," Sam replied, knowing that it was the simple and honest truth. "You're standing here, telling me that you love me. I think I get the picture."

He blew out a breath. "Good, because I've never been good at drawing."

She smiled. "That's not what the kids-" she broke off. Thought about the children of Mrs. Struble's class; the fun she'd when she had 'played hooky' with Jack and had visited the school filled her mind.

Jack was across the room, his arms around her, pulling her close. "I know, baby. It sucks, and there's not a damned thing we can do to change it," he said softly.

Her arms went around his shoulders, and she stood clinging to him. She tried to hold back the tears...hot, angry tears for the children, all of the children; those who could die in the next few hours, those who would become slaves of the Goa'uld, if she and Jack and their teammates couldn't pull another rabbit out of the hat.


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