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The Devil In the Details
Thursday, 0315 hours
"My Lord, I have detected several openings into hyperspace," the Jaffa reported.
Lord Yu sat back. Ba'al had retreated, he was certain of it. "Contact the Asgard vessel."
"Yes, My Lord."
The Goa'uld stood to his feet when Thor's face filled his view screen. "We have...convinced...Lord Ba'al to abandon his attack. We shall leave this solar system, in compliance with the Protected Planet's Treaty."
"Very well," Thor replied. "We expect the Goa'uld to honor the treaty. Another such incident will not be ignored."
"There will be no further attempts to attack the First World," he said. If there were, Yu had little hope of the incident ending as quickly, and with as little objection, as this time. Ba'al had relented only because he was outnumbered. The next time he would not allow the Tau'ri time to alert the Asgard. If...when...Ba'al returned, there would be none to stop him.
Yu signaled that the transmission be cut. He dropped onto his throne, and sighed heavily. "Let us return to the Garden of Jade." The city, and the palace, had been his home for many centuries. It was where, he thought wearily, he would die.
A A A A A A
Zeus had monitored the situation. Listened to the transmission between Lord Yu and the Asgard. His Jaffa indicated that all of the Goa'uld ships that had been gathering were now turning away, disappearing into hyperspace.
He sat back, contemplated for a moment. When he'd dealt with Nergal, he would return. And he would bring with him more ships and Jaffa than the Tau'ri could imagine. Unlike Ba'al, he wouldn't allow the Tau'ri the luxury of time to contact their protectors. His attack would be sudden, and swift. The First World would fall to him. And he would be the Supreme System Lord...in two galaxies!
A A A A A A
Aldwin grinned. "It worked!"
Jacob sat back, crossed his arms over his chest, gave a satisfied chuckle. "Looks as if that group pulled off a miracle again. I'll have to ask George just how they managed it this time."
"I believe the presence of the Asgard, and their 'phantom fleet', are what persuaded the Goa'uld to leave," Aldwin replied.
"Maybe. I have the feeling that SG-1 was involved in this very impressive victory."
"Do you want to ring down to the SGC?"
"Later. Let's return home and make our report," Jacob said. "I'll pay them a visit in a day or two, when things have calmed down a bit."
"As you wish." Aldwin signaled the other Tok'ra ships, and each one moved away from the planet that had stood within minutes of Goa'uld domination. The Tau'ri were most impressive. Again and again they won battles that the Tok'ra would not even attempt to enter. They were a persistent race, of that there could be no doubt.
A A A A A A
Thor made adjustments to the console in front of him. "Doctor Jackson, you may stop now."
Casey bit her lip when Daniel didn't move. His face and neck had were as red as if he had been sunburned. Sweat was pouring off of him, his tee shirt stuck to his back. She reached for his hand, grimaced at how hot it was, pulled it from the crystal box. "He's dying," she said quietly, not quite sure how she could be so certain of that fact, only that she was. "I need to get him to the infirmary. Janet will know what to do."
"Of course. I will see to it that you are beamed there directly," Thor replied.
A A A A A A
"General Hammond, this is the Prometheus. Casey Jackson disappeared a couple of minutes ago," Colonel Ronson reported. "Teal'c says that Thor beamed her to his ship. Don't know what she and Doctor Jackson managed to do, but those 'anomalies' are moving away from the planet. We've detected three hyperspace openings so far. Looks like Ba'al is pulling out."
"Understood, Colonel. Teal'c is to return to the SGC, and I want hourly reports for the next six hours. I don't want that bastard to try to sneak back in," the general replied.
He patted Walter on the back. "Tell the Marines to send the families home," he said quietly. Even though they would continue to monitor carefully, he had the feeling that it would be awhile before they faced Ba'al again. Just as the others had done, all transmissions had been monitored. He'd have to remember to thank the Tollan for those communications 'upgrades', he thought idly.
He looked at the clock on the wall. Not quite seventy-two hours. He felt as if it had been much longer than three days since he had been able to relax. For the umpteenth time since the crisis had began, he picked up the red phone. Alerted the president that once again the members of SG-1 had pulled off a miracle. Could hear the emotion that accompanied the relief in that man's voice. The Stargate Alliance members would be notified. And once again they would see that the SGC functioned quite well in the hands of the Americans.
He left word that as soon as all of the members of SG-1 were safely back in the mountain, that he wanted to speak to them. It would be one hell of a briefing, he was certain.
The general exchanged smiles with his second-in-command. The men were almost cheerful as they removed their keys from the nuclear bomb that would have prevented Ba'al from taking the SGC.
A A A A A A
Janet let out a little squeak of surprise when Daniel and Casey appeared in the infirmary in a flash of light. Daniel crumpled to the floor. "What happened?"
"Heat...he had to take the excess heat...but there was no way, no place to dissipate it," Casey replied, cradling his head.
A simple touch to his forehead told her that his temperature was more than just high, it was dangerously so. The petite doctor glanced around. "A little help here!" she called out. "Get him into a bed, and stripped. I need towels soaked in cold water. Someone go down and get as much ice as the commissary has."
Medics jumped to obey. Casey watched as her Husband was lifted gently onto the bed, his clothes tugged from his body. His chest, belly, arms and legs were as red as his face and hands. She hugged herself tightly, trying to stay out of the way, desperate to be near him.
"Someone let the general know that Daniel and Casey are back," Janet said, spreading wet towels over the archaeologist. "Where the hell is that ice?"
One of the nurses grabbed the phone, pressed the button for intercom, and paged Jack and Sam to the infirmary. It was an automatic reaction when any member of SG-1 was brought in sans teammates. Then the message was left for the OIC, that the two 'missing' members of the team had been returned to the facility.
Daniel's breathing was becoming erratic as his heart and internal organs struggled to rid themselves of the excessive heat that had flooded his body. Janet put an oxygen mask over his face, glanced over her shoulder at Casey. "Honey, I need for you to take this bottle of alcohol, pour some on this cloth, and keep wiping his face. Can you do that?"
With a nod, Casey took the items into her shaking hands. She soaked the cloth, then carefully wiped his forehead, cheeks and jaws, making certain that none of the fluid ran into his eyes.
It seemed to be an eternity before two medics rushed into the room, pushing carts with tubs of ice on them. "Good...get these towels wet," Janet ordered, tossing clean towels to two of the nurses. "We'll cover him with the towels, then pack the ice around him."
Sam and Jack ran into the room, Teal'c on their heels, having heard the page almost as soon as he had left the ring transport room. "What the hell?" Jack asked.
Casey looked up. "Give and take," she whispered, tears streaming down her cheeks. "But I don't think he should have taken so much."
He didn't have a clue what she was talking about. Jack hurried over, put his arm around the seer's slender shoulders. "He's tough, Radar. He'll be fine," he said softly.
It seemed that the ice began melting as soon as it touched his body. His skin was slowly losing the bright red color, and was beginning to turn pink. Casey continued to bathe Daniel's face, sending her love with every touch.
Janet watched, rubbing an alcohol soaked cloth over one wrist, then the other. "His color is getting better," she said quietly. There hadn't been time to take his temperature before starting their routine to bring it down. She did know that his body had been almost too hot to touch. She grabbed a tympanic thermometer from a nearby tray, snapped a disposable cover over the top, and placed it inside the unconscious archaeologist's ear. One hundred four. She flinched slightly. If it was that high now, ten minutes after treatment, just how high had his temperature gone? She glanced at Casey. Daniel might be Immortal, but if his brain had been boiled in his skull, the damage could be irreversible.
A A A A A A
"All right folks, listen up," Ferretti said, speaking into a bullhorn. "We appreciate your cooperation, and if this had been an actual emergency, we'd have bugged the hell out."
Several of the wives began laughing.
"I know you're all wondering just what happened. Let's just say that we were able to avert one hell of a nasty problem. You're all free to go home. The buses will take you back to the visitor's parking lot," Ferretti continued. "Have a nice day, folks!"
Sara stared at Ferretti, her arms crossed. Whatever had almost happened, it had to have been serious. Jack never would have called her otherwise. She made her way through the clustered groups of wives and children, a few husbands, the occasional older couple who were obviously parents of someone who worked inside the secret complex. "Excuse me," she called, reaching out and grabbing the major's arm before he could climb into the jeep he was standing beside.
"I'm Sara O'Neill."
Brown eyes widened slightly. "I'll be damned," he muttered.
"Look, just what the hell is going on here?"
"Ma'am I've told you all that I can. Everything is okay, you can go home," Ferretti replied.
"I'm not going anywhere until I speak to Jack."
"That could be awhile."
"Ma'am, I'll see to it that he gets the message that you want to talk to him. Until then, I suggest you go on home."
She caught sight of two MP's moving toward her. She really didn't want to make a scene. Nor did she want to be arrested on the base. She did, however, want some answers. Experience told her that Jack would probably tell her less than the man standing in front of her. "Whatever happened, or almost happened, had to have been pretty bad," she said quietly. "Jack said something about the end of the world."
"It was close to that."
"You can't tell me anything?"
"No ma'am. Only that it's over, and the good guys won...again."
That made even less sense than Jack's call, and his 'end of the world' statement. She finally nodded. "Tell Jack I expect a phone call."
She turned, glanced over her shoulder to see Ferretti watching her closely, then made her way back through the nearly empty warehouse to where her father stood waiting. Whatever Jack was doing, it was important. It always was. She'd always known that he was a hero, of sorts. She'd also known that Jack would never seem himself in that light.
"Well?" Mike asked.
"Seems that Jack and his friends are still fighting the good fight," she replied.
"I see. Still gonna have dinner with that Matt fella?"
"Yes, I'm still having dinner with Matt. He might not be fighting bad guys, but at least he's home every night," she said softly. "I need home every night."
"I know, sweetheart," Mike said. He put his arm around her shoulders. She'd been a good military wife. But she'd never been cut out for that type of hardship. Even if Charlie hadn't...he pushed away the pain. Even if Charlie had lived, chances were that Jack's military career would have been too much, and the divorce still would've happened.
Sara watched the other wives as the bus lumbered up the old logging road. How did they do it, day after day? How did they deal with the not knowing...the secrets...the long, unexplained absences? Just the same as you did, her mind supplied. They live for the moments when he is home. When he is 'there'. And they made the most of those moments, held tightly to the memories while he was gone.
A A A A A A
Oh, god what a headache! He didn't think he'd ever hurt this badly! Well, maybe when the team had been held by that group of fanatics on that planet...what the hell was the designation?...and they'd had the shit beaten out of them...they'd barely been able to crawl to the 'gate to get home...or when he'd gotten back from the Tok'ra base, when he was suffering from the after effects of that ker'nish'ta, and Casey had disappeared...Something had happened...there'd been danger...He tried to sit up, only to find that his body was being held down by...something. There was something on his face...he tried to lift his hands to push it away...danger...such danger..."Casey!"
Janet was aware of his every movement. He was turning his head as if trying to get away from the small plastic mask that continued to pump pure oxygen into his mouth and nose. His breathing had steadied, so she gently removed it. She'd just checked his temperature again. It was down to one hundred and one, and dropping quickly. That, she had decided, was a very good thing.
"Casey!" Daniel's voice held a hint of the panic he was starting to feel.
"Shh, I'm right here," the young seer said softly. She'd traded the alcohol for a bowl of ice water. Her fingers almost numb as she continued to wipe his face, throat and neck with the cool cloth. "Just relax."
"Hurts," he mumbled, satisfied that Casey was nearby. He could smell that sweet scent, felt her soft touch against his skin.
"Where?" she asked.
Casey glanced at Janet. "His head hurts."
"I'm not surprised," Janet said quietly. She looked over her shoulder at the closest nurse. "Start an IV with Demerol."
Sam, Jack, and Teal'c continued to hover nearby; ready to help in any way they could. If the Space Monkey was talking, Jack thought, that could only be a good thing. He barely took his eyes off the man in the bed when Ferretti slipped into the room, handed him a scrap of paper. He shoved it into his pocket without even looking at it.
He could feel her, he knew she was beside him. It took effort, and oh, god did it hurt, but he managed to get his arm up, felt his hand come into contact with something soft and firm. Instinctively he knew it was her. His entire body relaxed as soon as his fingers closed around her warmth.
Casey smiled when his hand moved toward her, his fingers closing around the material of her shirt, just above her waist. She reached down, wrapped her hand around his, squeezed gently when his fingers tightened.
"Your fingers are cold," he murmured.
"I know. We're trying to bring your temperature down."
"You did it, Daniel, you kept the illusion up long enough to send Ba'al and all the other snakes slithering away," she told him, the pride in her voice matching the sparkle in her eyes.
"Good." He remembered everything...until he'd become so damned hot...he'd felt as if he were burning up, from the inside out. He opened his eyes, looked up, into the face of his Angel. "Hi."
Her smile widened. "Hi."
Janet chortled. "That's a very good sign. As soon as your temp is back to normal, I'll call down for a tray."
In that moment Daniel realized just what was holding him down. He lifted his head, dropped it back down and moaned in pain. "I suppose there's a good reason for the fact that I'm on ice?"
"You're hot stuff, Stud Muffin. In fact, you were so hot you were burning up," Casey replied. Her voice caught, and for one moment she was afraid she was going to burst into tears. The reality of the situation, of how close to dying he had come caught up with her.
He recognized the look in her eyes. "Hey," he said softly, "it's okay, Angel. I'm fine."
She sniffed softly. "You're sure?"
He grinned. Tugged on her hand, until she leaned closer. "Well, I'm hungry, and my balls are crawling up into my stomach, but yeah, I'm fine," he whispered.
Janet snickered, and took his temperature again. "Well, your temp is back to normal."
His cheeks went red...he hadn't intended for anyone else to hear what he'd said. He'd forgotten that Janet seemed to have exceptional hearing when it came to her patients. He opted to pretend she hadn't heard the comment. "So I can get rid of the ice?"
"I want to leave it there for a few more minutes," she replied. Held a hand up when he opened his mouth to protest. "Your body temperature was so high that I want to make sure that your internal organs have cooled sufficiently, so there isn't any damage."
Casey glanced over her shoulder, her smile beckoning their friends...no, at the moment, they were more family than friends or teammates. "He got a bit overheated, but he saved the day," she said softly.
Jack gave a weak smile. They'd had their backs to the wall before. But never had they come as close to losing it all as they had in the past couple of hours. Daniel and Casey had suffered the brunt of the situation; being on Ball's ship, at risk of being treated like prisoners...and that was never a good thing. He didn't understand this 'The One' thing. But he did know that the position seemed to demand a hell of a lot of sacrifice on Daniel's part.
Daniel's teeth had started to chatter, drawing attention back to him. "C-c-c-coffee sh-sh-sure s-s-soun-nds g-g-g-good."
Janet smiled. "Let's get him unpacked."
Casey grabbed a blanket from the bed behind her. Jack, Sam, and Teal'c helped to scoop the ice off of the towels. Not one said a word was said, nor an eye blinked when the towels were removed, exposing his naked body to the air.
The blanket was covering him before he had a chance to be embarrassed at his condition. And his teammates, and Janet, had seen him 'au natural' before. "It might help if I could get dressed," he said dryly, as soon as he had stopped shivering.
"It might," Janet retorted. She checked his temperature again. Grinned down at him. "We cooled you down to a nice temperate ninety-seven point nine. You can get dressed now."
"Then we'll go-" Daniel started.
Janet shook her head. "Colonel, I doubt that any one on your team has eaten in the past few hours. Why don't you have trays brought up? I'm sure the commissary can throw together some sandwiches."
Jack grinned. Appreciated the fact that the doctor understood that right now, SG-1 needed to be together. "I don't suppose I could just order pizza's delivered?"
"You could, I suppose," Janet replied, her grin matching the colonel's. "If you want to meet them at the 'gate to pick them up."
"Right, sandwiches it is." The simple response, while made in jest, bespoke of his need to remain near his best friend.
His teammates good-naturedly trooped to the other side of the room while Daniel stood behind the closed curtain and pulled on his clothes. "The last thing I remember was that we were waiting for Ba'al to pull back," he said.
"He did," Jack replied. "Bastard waited until the last damned minute, though."
Casey was standing with her friends, and shivered violently. "He damned near cost me everything," she murmured.
Sam wrapped an arm around the seer's slender shoulders. "SG-1 magic," she said softly.
"May it never fail," Jack intoned. He grabbed the phone, and requested five trays to be brought to the infirmary, reassured Major Whitmore that there had been no serious injuries, it was just the over-protective nature of the base CMO. Who overheard the comment and gave him a sound clap on the shoulder.
General Hammond strode into the room. "SG-1," he said in greeting.
Five voices responded with variants of 'hello, sir'. "What's up, General?" Jack asked.
"The president sends his thanks."
"Yeah, you know us, always pulling off the impossible," Jack replied cheekily.
Hammond smiled. "Doctor Jackson, I don't know what you did, or how you did it, but we're damned grateful, son."
Daniel flashed a shy smile. "Thank you, sir."
"He just took the heat for us," Casey said, glancing sideways at him.
"You can tell me all about it at the briefing at fifteen-thirty," Hammond said.
"Yes, sir," the young seer said. What she wanted to do was go home. Sit on the couch, curl up in Daniel's lap, and pretend that the previous three days hadn't happened.
Janet had forced Daniel back onto the bed, and was taking his vitals, checking him as thoroughly as she could. His Immortality would heal any damage that the incredibly high fever had caused. But she would worry about him nonetheless.
Three Airmen walked into the room bearing the requested lunch trays, which had been put together at top speed for the premier team. Bed tables were pulled from various areas of the room, chairs put beside the bed where Daniel and Casey were propped up, holding tightly to one another's hands.
"So what happened?" Jack asked, tearing open a packet of ketchup for his French fries.
"Thor managed to program the holo-projector on his ship-"
"He has a holo-projector on his ship? For a holodeck, like on Star Trek?"
"I have no idea, Jack," Daniel replied. "He was able to create an entire fleet of ships, that were both visible, and showed up on scanners."
"How did he do that?" Sam asked quickly, her scientific mind jumping at the implications.
Daniel raised his eyebrows, stared at her for a moment.
She grinned. "Right, never mind."
"Everything was working fine, Yu seemed a bit...um...surprised...to see me on Thor's ship, and I guess I convinced him to talk to Ba'al," Daniel finished. He lifted his sandwich, frowned slightly, then took a bite. "He really didn't seem too upset about the fact that I knew who he was," he said thoughtfully, around a mouthful of roast beef.
"What about you, Radar?"
"I gave Zeus the low-down," she shrugged.
"She chattered at him until he was forced to either respond, or leave," Teal'c muttered. Grinned when an unopened packet of mayonnaise bounced off his forehead.
"I told him that if we had to pick between snakes, we'd take him," she said, cocking one eyebrow, watching Teal'c as she waited for him to make another comment.
"So when did things go tits up?" Sam asked.
"When the projector began overheating," Daniel replied. "I don't think it was meant for more than just holomaps...like you do for some of our briefings. What Thor had done really pushed the limits of the projector."
"So you decided you needed Radar's help?" Jack asked.
Daniel's broad shoulders moved up and then back down. "She's my Guide," he said softly.
"You took the excess heat into your body?" Sam had stopped eating, her mind working on the number of joules that must have bombarded the archaeologist's body.
"So why didn't you just get rid of it?" Jack asked. Four pairs of eyes swung toward him, stared at him. "What? I'm just sayin'..."
"How was I supposed to do that?" Daniel inquired.
"Toss a couple of those cool blue fireballs. I'm betting Thor wouldn't have been too upset at a hole or two in the wall, I mean, considering the circumstances and all."
Daniel shook his head, began to chuckle. "Why didn't I think of that?"
"I should have thought of it," Casey said annoyed that such a simple solution had evaded her. "This is information that would have been helpful half an hour ago," she grumped.
Jack grinned. "Hey, I can't be everywhere at once, solving everyone's problems for them." Condiment packets, wadded napkins and unopened straws sailed through the air to bombard him. "I get no respect, I tell ya!"
Various groans of protest at his declaration filled the air.
"Tell us about your stay at 'la casa de Ba'al'," Jack said. He casually pulled a paper wrapped straw from his hair.
Casey rolled her eyes. "That snake so pisses me off!"
Daniel snorted. "No? Really?"
She gave his arm a half-hearted punch. "The bastard was going to keep us in separate rooms!"
"No!" Jack grinned. "How'd you get out of that?"
Casey looked up at Daniel, her love reflecting brightly in her eyes. "I told him the truth. That I breath because of Daniel. And that I needed to be with him, to feel him hold me while I slept."
"I take it he caved?" Sam asked quietly.
"After I told him I hated him for the time that he'd stolen from Daniel and I. We'll never get back the time we lost because of Ba'al, and I told him that. And that he could put us in separate rooms, but it wouldn't keep us from being together," she said softly.
"He's still in love with you after that?" Jack asked.
"Love and hate are two sides of the same emotion," Daniel said quietly.
"I believe that your wishes superceded his own desires," Teal'c said thoughtfully.
Casey studied her Jaffa friend. "Maybe."
Jack picked up a fry, contemplated it, then shoved it into his mouth. "So any guesses on when Balls will try again?"
"Not for awhile," Daniel replied. "What happened was the equivalent of being disciplined. He'll disappear for awhile. Deal with his wounded pride. When he does try again, there won't be any warning."
The colonel sighed. "Yeah, I figured as much."
"We have the Prometheus. And construction has started on another ship," Sam said.
"Let's just hope we're ready before he is," Jack said.
"Any word about Zeus?" Daniel asked.
"Colonel Ronson reported that all the Goa'uld ships that had been detected disappeared," Sam told him.
"Because he has to go home and deal with Nergal," Casey said.
She looked into amused blue eyes. "I so hate that!"
Jack snickered. "At least you have the info, Radar."
"Ha. What'd I say?"
"That Zeus went back to deal with Nergal. And who is this Nergal?" Jack asked. He looked at Daniel. "I have the feeling we'd better get as much intel on this snake as we can."
Daniel sighed. Deal with one snake, and two more popped up to take his place. "Right."
"Okay, we'll get a bit of sleep, get our reports written, do the briefing, and then head to O'Malley's. I need a beer," Jack declared.
Casey couldn't help but smile. They'd beaten the bad guys. It had been close. She'd never been involved in a situation that they had so nearly been unable to remedy. What she wanted was to go home. But as Jack liked to say, they were the good guys. And the good guys needed time to deal with the long hours of frustration, of fear, of running on prayers and adrenaline. It was SG-1's way. And when the next crisis came along, they'd be ready to face hell all over again.
"The One was most impressive," First said, smiling indulgently at the humans who continued to banter as they finished their meal.
"He learns quickly," Third agreed. "Although he put himself at great risk."
"The One understands," First replied. "It is his duty."
"And ours is to protect him," Second added. "Even if it means interfering?"
"Only to save his life," First confirmed.
The three Beings moved silently away from the mountain. Their instructions were quite specific. And never had any Triad been charged with such a task. The First Triad was the most honored of all: to observe...and protect...the Champion of the Innocent, the Hope of all Mankind.
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