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The Devil In the Details
Wednesday, 0730 hours
Just before she opened her eyes, she'd thought the soft glow of light to be sunrise just outside of her window. When she had them open, however, looked around and took in the gold leaf on the walls, the rich tapestries that were hung beside the bed, she felt a moment of panic. Goa'uld ship! She recognized the image of Ba'al in one of the tapestries, a scene of him hunting. She shivered slightly. Grabbed the blankets to pull them up to her chin.
She willed her heart to stop pounding at the sound of the very male voice behind her. Took a deep breath, his familiar scent filling her nose. Smiled when she realized that it was Daniel wrapped so tightly around her. She snuggled down into his embrace.
His hand moved slowly over her breast, squeezing it gently. Stopped when he felt the rapid hammering of her heart beneath his fingers. "Case?"
"Besides waking up on a Goa'uld ship?"
He opened his eyes. Shit. It hadn't been a very long, very bad dream. "Yeah, besides that."
"Not a thing."
The lock on the door disengaged, both Jacksons sat up in the bed, Casey clutching the silk sheet to her chest.
Gemeti slipped in, her eyes remaining on the floor. "Lord Ba'al has sent me to see to it that your needs have been fulfilled."
"I don't suppose he has coffee on this tub, does he?" Casey grumped.
"When we send down the grocery list, I want coffee," the slender seer said.
Daniel groaned at the thought of having to deal with Ba'al...sans coffee. "Damned straight," he said.
Casey looked over at the slave. "Please tell Lord Ba'al that there isn't anything we require at the moment; however, we would like to send a list to our friends at the SGC, of a few things we'd like to have brought here."
"I will tell him," Gemeti promised. "Shall I see to your bath?"
"That won't be necessary," Casey said, offering the young woman a smile. Her thoughts strayed to Ba'al's former lo'taur. She wondered how Shanda was adjusting to life as a free woman. Had she and Nutesh hooked up...gotten married...were they enjoying their new lives...together?
With a slight bow, Gemeti left the room, practically running out the door.
Daniel watched the slave dash out of the room. "She's terrified."
"She's Ba'al's slave, that would terrify anyone."
He shook his head. "I don't think that's it. She doesn't seem to want to get near you. Did you do something to her when you escaped the snake the last time we were here?"
Casey shook her head. "I never touched her. I sent her to get food, and then headed straight for the bathroom and the ventilation shaft."
His frown deepened. "Maybe she was punished for allowing you to escape."
"Oh, god," Casey murmured, her gaze fixed on the door, her mind playing in vivid detail every blow the young slave might have endured.
He cursed himself mentally. Smooth move, Danny. Nothing like laying a guilt trip on her! How long would she hold onto this 'sin', condemn herself again and again for it? "I'll see if...um...what was his name...uh...Ensuat, I think. I'll talk to him, and see if he knows what happened."
"I never even thought about how Ba'al would react, that the slaves would suffer," she whispered.
He put an arm around her shoulders, pulled her close, pressed a kiss against the side of her face. "He does that on a regular basis, babe. Your escape was just a convenient excuse to strike out."
Tears welled in her eyes. The thought of anyone suffering as a result of her actions had her stomach in knots. "I hate him, Daniel. With everything I am I hate him!" she hissed.
"I know, Angel. I hate him, too."
"I say we slit the bastard's throat, declare a major holiday, and have a party."
He grinned. "I do like the sound of that."
She heaved a sigh. "We can't do that, can we?"
"Not yet. He's up to something. Ba'al never does anything unless he has a contingency plan. We have to find out what that is."
"I don't suppose we can just ask him."
"We could, but I don't think he'd be willing to tell us."
He couldn't help but chuckle. "That's a pretty apt description. Is there a way to take a shower here?"
"Yep. It's like standing in rain shower...warm and gentle."
"Sounds perfect," he murmured, nuzzling her cheek.
Once again the lock disengaged, and Gemeti stepped into the room. She was carrying a tray loaded with fruit and what appeared to be sweet rolls. There was a carafe, of what only closer examination would reveal.
"Okay," Daniel sighed. "Go take your shower. I'll make sure you're not disturbed."
With a nod, Casey reached for the robe she had tossed on the foot of the bed the night before. Pulled it around her slender frame, and slipped from beneath the sheet.
The lo'taur watched the man as his eyes followed the woman. Never had she seen such love. Had the woman bewitched this man, as she had Lord Ba'al? She absently rubbed the back of her skull, where the wound had been, the day the witch had escaped. She didn't understand why the woman was here now; not as a prisoner, nor in the quarters of her god, as she had been before. She remembered this man, as well. He and three others had been sent to the holding cells. It was confusing...first they were prisoners, now they were guests. She sighed audibly. It was not for her to understand. She was only to obey her master.
Daniel glanced over at the young slave when he heard the sigh. Watched as she carefully laid the table for their breakfast. "You fear my Wife," he said softly.
Gemeti jerked from the unexpected comment.
"It's all right, I won't hurt you. Nor will anything you say reach Lord Ba'al's ears."
The young slave turned to look at the man. "She is a powerful witch."
He couldn't help but smile. "She is a seer, but not a witch."
"She overpowered the personal guard of Lord Ba'al! How could she do this if she is not a witch? How could she move so quickly that she could not be seen? She hit me, and she hit Lord Ba'al, rendered us unconscious!" the lo'taur declared.
Aha. That explains it. Ensuat must have hidden in the room, clobbered both the lo'taur and the Goa'uld, and then made it appear that Casey had done so, to make her escape. Okay, how could he feed that illusion, to protect the rebel Jaffa, and still convince the slave that Casey wasn't a witch bent on hurting her? "She is a trained warrior. She can hide well. She was there, you just didn't see her. She did what she had to do in order to get away from her enemy."
"Lord Ba'al is her enemy?"
"Yet you are here...as guests."
"Not because we want to be," Daniel replied quickly. "We're here in order to protect the people of our home world from attack."
Gemeti frowned. "I do not understand." When she saw that Daniel would have willingly tried to explain, she raised one hand, offered him a smile. "It is not important that I understand."
Daniel smiled in return. For just a few seconds, the young slave had had the same look in her eyes that he'd seen in Jack's many times, just before he started a briefing. "Please try to understand that Casey would be horrified to know that you had been harmed because of her."
Gray eyes widened. "She would?"
"Yes, she would. Casey is a very loving, caring person."
The fear that had lurked in her heart, afraid that once again the woman with the long, light colored hair and green eyes would find a reason to bash her senseless, eased at the words. What...Ca'see, the man had called her Ca'see...what she had done, had been in fear as well, hadn't it? "It didn't hurt so much...and Lord Ba'al healed me," Gemeti said shyly.
His smile became a grin. "Glad to hear that."
"I will leave you now. If you have need of anything, just tell the guard who stands outside of the door. He will send for me."
Daniel watched the slave slip out the door. Listened as the lock re-engaged. They might not be in a holding cell, but they were obviously to be treated as prisoners. A bit more...pampered... perhaps, but prisoners just the same. With a sigh, he climbed out of the bed, padded over to inspect their breakfast, tugging his sweats up over his hips.
When Casey emerged from the bathroom, a few minutes later, freshly scrubbed skin glowing pink, he'd already eaten what had tasted similar to an apple. "Okay, Stud Muffin, your turn."
He dropped a kiss on her lips as he passed her, grabbed his duffel and disappeared into the bathroom.
Casey plopped onto the closest upholstered chair. Discovered a sweet, pink juice in the carafe. She had no clue what it was, and for one minute she wondered if it had been drugged. No doubt Ba'al would prefer to keep Daniel and her as...cooperative...as possible.
The Earth was revolving slowly, she could sense the movement of the ship as it remained in geosynchronous orbit. She watched for awhile, mesmerized by the swirls of white clouds. Down there, she thought idly, people were going about their business. Arguing over things that just didn't matter. Fighting and killing one another in so many ways that cheapened life. Maybe it was time that the citizens of the planet were shocked out of their apathy, exposed to the fact that not only were they not alone in the universe, they certainly weren't the most advanced. Maybe a good dose of reality would help them find their way toward a more peaceful existence. Nothing like a common enemy to unite diverse groups of people.
She remembered several of the fruits that were displayed with such flair on the tray. Chose two of the smaller, yellow variety that reminded her of oranges. Peeled them carefully, picked the thorny seeds from the meat of the fruit before popping a piece into her mouth, her fingers working while her mind continued to wander.
How long would she and Daniel remain on this ship...technical prisoners of a Goa'uld she hated with a passion? She stopped to examine that feeling. If she hated Ba'al so much, why had she hesitated to kill him? Why had she allowed herself to relax enough to actually enjoy their dinner...just before Daniel arrived in a flash of white light, his appearance setting her heart pounding with love and relief. Were there some residual influences of the ker'nish'ta that were affecting her? Had Ba'al used some other drug on her when he'd been bound and determined to make her his consort? She shook her head. Her anger at those stolen days and nights - time she would never get back, would never be able to spend with Daniel - was real and hot and foremost in her mind. Had it not been for Ba'al, she'd have been with Daniel when Dartal attacked. She'd have been prepared for the battle, she wouldn't have lost another two months. Such a long time to be away from the love of her life.
Damn it to hell, Ba'al was responsible for the long absences, the time apart. One day, she was going to kick his ass for all that he'd stolen from her. By her estimation, the Goa'uld was personally responsible for the loss of almost four months of her life; four months away from Daniel. Yep, definitely going to make the bastard pay for that.
He hated showering without her. It was one thing to be standing in the tiled room on base, washing quickly in order to return to her side. If they were going to be spending an extended amount of time on this damned ship, he refused to take every shower alone. He loved bathing her as much as he enjoyed her gentle, loving touch. Daniel hurried through his routine, pulled on his jeans and a tee shirt. The black one that she'd given him. He hoped that Ba'al would see it, inquire about it, so that he could explain the love that had gone into it.
There was one thing to be said about the situation. He and Casey were together. Locked in a room, alone. The thought that they could spend lazy days making love, holding one another, just being together, danced in his consciousness. A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. Very nice bonus to being Ba'al's prisoners, one that he had no doubt that the Goa'uld had intended to prevent. Casey had whispered just before they drifted to sleep that she was glad Ba'al had capitulated on the issue of separate quarters for the two of them. He couldn't help but wonder just why the Goa'uld had given in. What had she said, what words had changed the snake's mind about keeping them apart?
She was staring out the window, her arms around her slender waist when he emerged. "Casey?"
The smile that lit her face was automatic when she saw him standing there, wearing his favorite pair of jeans and the black tee shirt. She loved the way his biceps stretched the sleeves. The fact that his feet were bare. He looked the same as he did most weekends at home...relaxed, sexy, happy.
"Penny for them," he said softly.
"I was just thinking that maybe we should tell them. Everything. Let them know that they need to get their priorities straight. That they're brothers and sisters, the progeny of heroes, people who tossed the Goa'uld out into space centuries ago."
"There'd be chaos in the streets, at least for awhile. And then life would settle back down, and slowly but surely, changes would be made," he admitted. "Maybe it would be a good thing. The problem lies with all of the world's religions...and those who follow them so faithfully. The truth contradicts so many of the largest religions."
"The Abrahamic religions, especially," she murmured.
"Millions of people follow those tenants," he said. "It wouldn't be easy to hear the facts of the matter."
"No, it wouldn't be. But has any real discovery been met with open arms at the beginning?"
"I guess not," he admitted. He dropped into the chair across from her. "Have you eaten?"
She pointed to the remains of the fruit on her plate.
"I should have Janet send the protein drinks and milk up here," he said, frowning slightly.
"Do Goa'uld have refrigeration in their kitchens?"
"I would think so," Daniel replied.
"Well, I don't mind not drinking them."
He smiled. He knew that she hated the protein based 'shakes' she drank each morning, in an attempt to bring her weight back up to where it should be. "I worry about you."
Casey reached across the table, laced her fingers with his. That love...that concern, continued to awe her. "I know."
Daniel stood and stretched. Glanced at his watch. "Wow. We should check in...Jack's probably on pins and needles waiting to hear from us."
With a nod of understanding, Casey pulled on her Nike's. Daniel shoved his feet into his sneakers, then tapped on the door. It opened with a quiet 'swoosh', and the Jaffa tasked with guarding them looked at him expectantly.
"I need to check in with my commander," Daniel said simply.
The Jaffa had been given permission to escort these guests to the pel'tak at regular intervals to communicate with those on the planet below. He gave a sharp nod, and stepped away from the door.
Once again the incongruity of the situation struck her. Just as she'd been during those long days when Ba'al had been on his 'consort' kick, she was being treated with deference...almost as if nothing had changed in her extended absence; or her last 'visit' to the ship - when she and her teammates had once again escaped Ba'al's grasp - had never happened.
Ba'al was nowhere to be seen, something that both relieved and worried him. No doubt the damned snake was up to something. It would probably be best to know exactly what that 'something' was. Daniel frowned slightly. How many rebels were aboard this ship? Were any of them in a position to be able to gather information for him...for the SGC?
The Jaffa at the communication console watched as the man and woman approached. He'd received orders that the two were to be allowed contact with the SGC upon request. Obviously that was the reason they were now on the pel'tak.
"I'd like to talk to my friends," Daniel said firmly.
"The channel is open," the Jaffa replied. He moved his fingers slightly, so that a recording of the conversation would be made. Which had also been an order.
"This is Daniel Jackson, to the SGC."
"Go ahead, Daniel," Sam's voice replied.
"Nothing to report," Daniel replied. "But we could use a book or two. Seems we'll be spending our time locked in our room."
"Got it. Anything specific?"
"Um...the thick green book on the bookshelf behind my desk...The Definitive Phoenician Guide is the title." Daniel turned to Casey. "What do you want?"
"Sam, there are a couple of books in my purse. Which is still in Daniel's office. Oh, and some bananas...and coffee. Lots of coffee. You know where the stash is, right?"
"We'll need the coffeemaker, too."
"Adapters for power?"
Casey frowned. "Damn, I hadn't thought about that!"
"I know it's not Sumatra Mandheling, but I could get some instant coffee, if you can get hot water," Sam offered.
"It's better than nothing," Daniel replied.
"Don't forget the creamer and sugar," Casey added.
"Got it. When should I ring it up?"
Daniel looked at their guard. "I'm assuming any time."
"Okay, as soon as I have it together I'll send it up."
"Right. How are Jack and Teal'c?"
"They're fine. Still busy."
They were still working on escape/extraction plans. Well, as long as they hadn't given up, he thought. "Right."
"Sam, could you let Emma know that we need her to pick up the mail and water my plants?" Casey asked.
"I'll call her personally," Sam promised.
"I guess that's it for now," Daniel said.
"Okay. We'll be waiting for your next check-in," Sam replied.
"Right." Daniel looked at the Jaffa. "Thank you."
The warrior dipped his head slightly.
Casey looked up at their guard. "Okay, take us back to the cage."
"It might be gilded, but it's still a cage," she replied.
The Jaffa was confused, but said nothing as he walked beside his charges to the elevator.
A A A A A A
Ba'al was informed of the visit as soon as he appeared on the pel'tak. A copy of the communication was sent to his linguists to be transcribed. He didn't believe that Jackson would be foolish enough to say anything...revealing. But knowing what they were reporting would give him an advantage.
Preparations were underway for the banquet that would be held in less than eight hours. He had every intention of having Casey at his side. He just needed to find a way to keep Jackson busy and out of the way. He brooded over the problem.
An hour later another report came to him, the arrival of items that the two guests had requested. He ordered them taken to Casey immediately. Was surprised when Gemeti hurried into the room, several long, yellow items on a tray. She explained what they were, demonstrated the way she'd been shown to peel the fruit.
"It is a bah-nah-na," Gemeti said, stumbling over the unfamiliar word. "Lady Ca'see insisted that you try it."
He smiled. It was impossible to refuse Casey, that he was well aware. He bit into the soft white flesh of the fruit. Sweet. Very good. He ate the remainder with relish. Reached for a second. This could quickly become a favorite food, he thought. He'd thank Casey personally.
A A A A A A
They were stretched out on the bed side by side, the pillows pushed against the intricately carved wood headboard, reading their respective books. A shiny copper tea kettle was sitting on the table, although the water had cooled considerably. Two cups held the remains of coffee, made with the jar of instant that sat beside the kettle. A ziplock back filled with sugar and creamer packets leaned against the jar. It was to this domestic scene that Ba'al entered, walking into the room without announcing his arrival.
For a few seconds, his presence had gone unnoticed. To see them together...their bodies touching casually, Casey leaning slightly against his shoulder, both of them engrossed in whatever it was they were reading...stabbed at him, making the heartache he suffered just a little more painful.
"Hey! Didn't we have a conversation about this last night?" Casey complained, lowering her book when she realized the Goa'uld was standing at the foot of the bed.
The frown of frustration brought a smile to his lips. She was as beautiful when she was angry as she was smiling. "Forgive me. Habit," he replied.
"Yeah, well if you walk in and disturb us at the wrong time, I won't be responsible for my reaction," she grumbled.
Daniel bit back his smile at the immediate frown that creased Ba'al's forehead. That's right asshole. Think about that for awhile. Wondered just exactly what she'd do if Ba'al did walk in while they were making love. Probably something rude and painful, he thought, almost chuckling out loud.
"I assume you're here for a reason," Casey continued.
Ba'al shook himself. Thoughts of Jackson making love to her had crashed through his mind, leaving him furious and aching. "I thought perhaps Doctor Jackson would like to see some of the...artifacts...I've collected over the years," he said.
Daniel closed his book and sat up on the bed. The chance to examine anything that Ba'al was holding was an opportunity to be grabbed. "I'd like that very much," he said honestly, trying to contain his excitement.
"Good. You may come with me."
"Is more than welcome to join you," Ba'al replied. Better to keep the two together for the moment. When the time arrived, he would have Gemeti fetch Casey, and prepare her for the banquet. No doubt Jackson would believe that the lo'taur would come for him when it was time...which she would. Once he returned to his...their...quarters, however, he could demand until he was blue in the face. As long as he was sharing a room with Casey, it met the condition of having access to her. Once again he was walking a fine line. But the interpretation of the treaty was dependant on just who was interpreting it.
They hurriedly put on their shoes, and followed their 'host'. The workroom was on the level just below the pel'tak. For a moment Casey's memory took her back to the days of walking the corridors of the ship, level by level, hour by hour. She reached for Daniel's hand.
He wasn't sure what was wrong, but he could feel the trembling of her fingers. Maybe she was remembering her days as Ba'al's prisoner, he thought.
"These once belonged to Lord Yu," Ba'al said, waving a hand toward a table covered with various jeweled boxes, vases, bowls, and other treasures.
Daniel jerked slightly. Was this Ba'al's way of letting him know that he was aware of the message sent to Yu? Not possible. Jacob had sent it from the Tok'ra base. Unless Ba'al had a spy among the Tok'ra again, there was no way for him to know that!
Casey had started as well. She turned to another table. "And these?"
Ba'al frowned. "They were uncovered during construction of my new palace. I am unfamiliar with the markings. As far as I am aware, no other Goa'uld have ever laid claim to the planet. There was no Chappa'ai before I placed one in the courtyard," he explained.
Daniel hurried to that table. There were nearly a dozen tablets, various stone tools, the edges dulled by use and time. He ran his finger over one of the clay tablets. Several of the marks resembled the Asgard alphabet. Another section was definitely Ancient. Yet another appeared to be a rarely used Egyptian dialect. "Wow," he said softly.
Casey couldn't help but smile at her husband. "I think Daniel's found something of interest."
The Goa'uld watched carefully. He actually did recognize the markings. He simply hadn't bothered to discern what had been written. It would be interesting to learn how much the Tau'ri archaeologist could read. It was apparent that Jackson was already caught up in his attempts to decipher the tablets. Perhaps getting Casey away from Jackson wouldn't be such a problem after all! "I shall leave you to your work, then," he said, barely able to conceal his delight.
Casey watched Ba'al leave, waited to hear the lock engage. Yep, sure enough. Apparently the idea of the two of them wandering free on his ship wasn't one Ba'al liked. Her attention returned to her husband. His hand was moving, searching. "Sorry, Stud Muffin, no legal pads around."
"Huh?" Daniel's head swung in the direction of his wife.
"You were reaching for your legal pad."
He frowned slightly. "Oh. Guess I was."
She looked around the room. Discovered an empty scroll. "Will this work?"
"Yep. Now I just need something to write with."
Another search netted an item that resembled an ink pen. Casey watched him in silence for several minutes, then reached for one of the other tablets. It was also divided into sections, and the writing of each section was distinctly different. She found what appeared to be a dialect of Goa'uld. She settled on the floor, as Daniel was sitting on the only stool in the room. Her attention was soon as focused as that of her husband, as she began to try to make sense of the marks.
"This is incredible!" Daniel exclaimed. "There are at least five different languages represented here...from five very distinct and different cultures!"
"This is Goa'uld," Casey said, pointing to one section of the tablet she was working with. "Should we assume that each section says the same thing?"
"Let's see if we can locate any markings that are similar, something that might be a name of some sort. There's a cartouche here," he said, pointing to the oblong line that surrounded two characters. "Which indicates that the name is that of a king or pharaoh."
"If this is Ancient, then this could be the name," she said, pointing to another section.
"It's a variant of Ancient. Possibly a dialect used by a specific group," Daniel replied. "The name is the same."
"What's the name?"
"Okay, tell me about him...it is a him, right?"
Daniel smiled. "Yep. He was created by Atum. He and his twin sister, Tefnut, produced Geb, who was the Earth, and Nut, who was the sky. The sky continued to fall to earth, the myths tell of the love between Geb and Nut, and their desire to embrace one another. In order to keep the sky where it was supposed to be, Shu stands between Geb and Nut, thus separating the sky from the earth."
"Nothing. Just letting you know I'm listening."
He chuckled. "Now we just have to figure out why a reference to Shu would be written in so many different languages. One even looks like Asgard."
"Maybe it's a warning," Casey suggested.
"Warning about what?"
"Maybe just a general 'watch out for coitus interruptus' from Shu."
The chuckle became a full laugh. "I suppose it's possible."
"If we can translate what we can recognize, I'm guessing we'll be able to translate the other languages, and then compare and see if they really are the same. Sort of like the Rosetta Stone."
"I think you're right. Let's see what we have." Shifting to the floor to sit beside his wife, Daniel began to compare the text of what he could decipher, to those languages that he didn't recognize. Neither of them were aware of the passage of time, or the fact that they were actually enjoying themselves.
Ba'al watched and listened, the camera hidden just above the door, giving him a clear view of the entire room. He hadn't considered the artifacts to be of any great value. However, knowing the contents of the tablets would be most useful. He moved his hand across the small globe that served as the view screen, the power of the ribbon device on his hand effectively shutting it off.
Neither of the occupants of the work room noticed that the eyes of one of the hieroglyphic animals ceased glowing.
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