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There's A New God In Town

Chapter 3 

When the rings disappeared, and her eyes readjusted from the bright light that had surrounded them, Casey groaned mentally. The corridor was lined with Jaffa, all of them standing with staff weapons at the ready.

And just where was the warning about this? she grumped silently. She'd been feeling ill at ease, but nothing out of the ordinary. She was always a bit on edge whenever the team was on a mission...that was just the nature of the work they did. The feeling hadn't even been bothersome enough to mention. A sudden flash of light. Now's a hell of a time to give me the intel! she thought, determined to lodge a complaint the next time she spoke to Miss Eloise. There were no distinct images. If fact, all she was left with was the certainty that what was happening needed to happen, and that she and Daniel...and someone else...she could sense a third person with them, would make it off the Goa'uld ship alive. Not much to go on, and being alive didn't necessarily mean hale and hearty. But alive was better than dead, she admitted to herself.

Daniel had noted the way she'd tugged at her lip, the way her eyes had fluttered closed for a few seconds. "Case?"

"I'm not sure," she confessed. "All I know is that whatever is going on...it's supposed to be happening."

"Anything else?"

She hesitated. If she told him that they would get off the ship alive, would it affect the way he reacted? Would he be too blasé, and perhaps get himself beaten? Better to keep him fighting to stay alive and healthy, she decided. She'd deal with his anger later, if and when he learned that she'd known of the ultimate outcome of the situation. She shrugged, not an easy feat, considering that the goons on either side of her had her arms in vise-like grips.

He would've preferred to have some idea what to expect. But Casey had no control over what she did, or didn't see. That fact often bothered her; he wasn't about to add to the frustration and guilt that she harbored over it. He nodded his understanding.

They were being taken toward one of the elevators when another group of Jaffa joined them. That squad parted ranks, and shoved their prisoner toward those who escorted the couple.

"Jack!"

He grinned at the wide-eyed look on Casey's face. "Hey, Radar. You and Space Monkey okay?"

"I was just abducted by tin men. Of course I'm not okay!" she retorted, her eyes giving away the fear she was battling.

The grin led to a chuckle. "Yeah, I can see that."

"Kegalo!" [Silence!]

"Bite me," Casey grumbled, tossing a frown toward the Jaffa who had given the order. Was given a sound whack across the back with the blunt end of a staff weapon.

The result was unexpected for the Jaffa, as the two men began to struggle against them, both trying to place themselves between the woman and their captors. While the need to protect the woman was a common reaction, one they had witnessed many times, the ferocity with which the two men fought was an unusual occurrence. Normally the very presence of Jaffa rendered prisoners nearly hysterical with fear. It took effort on the part of the armored warriors, but the three prisoners were loaded onto the elevator, two guards for each.

"We need to find out who's in charge here," Jack whispered, ignoring the glaring looks from their guards. "I want the name of the asshole who just screwed up a perfectly good battle simulation!"

Matching smiles covered Daniel and Casey's faces, as they continued to struggle against their captors. Just on principal.

The Jaffa were hard pressed to maintain control over the prisoners, although not one of them was willing to call for assistance. In their world, six Jaffa could easily contain three humans. They were soon to realize that their preconceptions of this new galaxy would be sorely tested. And that Tau'ri were the most stubborn, resilient, and aggravating group that existed. It wouldn't be long before they understood just how easily the slaves of Ra had driven him from the First World.

 

 

 

Zeus sat back on his throne as the prisoners were brought before him. He expected to see two Jaffa, those who'd been aboard the crippled scout ship. He had no idea who the pilot of the other craft, a type of glider the likes of which he had never seen before, would be. Again however, he assumed Jaffa. He was most interested in learning which System Lord, or Lords, they served.

His eyes went wide when the three humans were brought into the room, none of them bearing the mark of Jaffa; nor could he sense the presence of Prim'ta or symbiotes. Each of them struggled savagely against the guards who held them. The woman, a slight creature with a long, thick braid of blonde hair, and eyes so green he could see the color from even this distance, was hurling insults at the two Jaffa guards who held her arms firmly, wiggling and pulling so much that they were forced to stop walking several times in order to control her.

"Watch it, tin man! I've got a can opener with your name on it," Casey sneered, jerking her arms with as much force as she could muster. Damn! Almost pulled free that time! The hands that clamped back around her limbs pressed harder now. "Ouch! Damn it! Let me go, and I promise not to kick your ass! I'll just hit you once or twice! Let me go!"

The men, while not saying anything, although they seemed to be amused by the woman's tirade, did their best to slow the Jaffa in their path toward the throne. Zeus bit back his smile. Whoever they were, they did not seem at all afraid of their captors. Angry, but not afraid.

Jack resolutely stopped walking every other step. He didn't want to get too far ahead of Casey and the poor Jaffa who'd been tasked to 'escort' her. Bad things happened when she was left behind. Her comments had him laughing silently...well the tone of voice and what he imagined she was saying had him laughing silently.  She was tossing those comments out in Goa'uld, and he'd bet a full paycheck that she was being very insulting. He stopped again, looked over at her, watched as she damned near pulled free for the fourth time. He'd been keeping track. If she managed to pull free, he and Daniel would do the same.

Daniel was just as obstinate, tugging and pulling against the Jaffa who held firmly. He doubted that any of the warriors would be prepared for a true fight from the three of them. If he, Jack, and Casey really wanted to get away, well, they'd already be running down the corridors. As Jack said, they had to find out just who was screwing up what had been a perfectly good day.

The Jaffa in charge of the prisoners were at a loss...most prisoners were weeping and begging for mercy...never had they come upon those who fought so hard against the inevitable! They were already in the custody of Lord Zeus, didn't these feeble humans realize that all of their struggles were for naught? It took a full five minutes for the group to traverse the length of the room. The Jaffa holding Casey finally picked her up and carried her the last few feet, after she had stubbornly planted her boots and refused to move. An act of defiance that amused Zeus, and had his lips twitching.

Zeus felt his breath catch in his throat when she was near enough to see her closely. She was breathtaking. When she finally looked up at him, he could see the surprise in her eyes, the slight widening of those emerald depths. She stood suddenly still, staring at him. He could feel the rush of attraction, could see in the expression on her face that it startled her. He sat straighter, his eyes assessing her, letting her know that he found her attractive. His gaze lingered on her breasts and hips, then wandered back to those alluring green depths, the action as close to a caress as he could make it. This one could quickly become his most favored, he thought.

Daniel groaned mentally as he watched the Goa'uld, whoever he was, mentally undressing Casey. Hell, he was practically panting over her. No doubt already raping her in his thoughts. He glared at the snake, although for the moment, it was wasted effort.

Holy Hannah! It was common knowledge that Goa'uld preferred attractive hosts. But this guy...she swallowed, tried to catch her breath. Damn! If she were into men with long dark hair and dark eyes, which, she noted, were full of amusement at the moment, she'd be all over this hunk! Lucky her for she was totally besotted with one particular blue-eyed, blond-haired archaeologist. When the fact that the Goa'uld was silently laughing at her filtered through to her brain, she stood ramrod stiff, hurled a look of sheer hatred in his direction. Good looking or not, the bastard was a freaking snake. They'd take him out, it was just a matter of time.

When the look of surprise turned to fiery hatred, Zeus felt a moment of loss. Why this woman's opinion of him should matter was a thought he refused to examine. He shook himself mentally, studied the faces of the two men who stood just as obstinately. Something seemed...familiar...about them, although he couldn't place where he could have possibly seen them before. He nodded at the First Prime.

"Kree tal lok!" Diokles had been First Prime of Zeus for nearly seventy years. He'd uttered the same words countless times. Never before had he witnessed such impertinent behavior in prisoners. Normally they fell to their knees immediately, begging for mercy. These humans remained on their feet, continued to grapple against the guards who were forced to hold tightly to them.

"Yeah, that's gonna happen," Jack muttered. Revealing to his teammates that he understood far more of the Goa'uld language than he let on.

"Not in this lifetime, mik'ta-ha," Casey hissed.

Another nod from the man sitting on the throne. Diokles strode to where Casey stood. Slapped her across the face.

Daniel began to struggle again, the fire in his blue eyes just a hint of the dangerous rage that flowed through him.

Well, well, well, Zeus thought, watching silently. There was something between the man with the light-colored hair and the glass and wire object on his face, and the beguiling blonde beauty. If necessary, she could be used against him, as a means to control him.

No one was prepared when Casey kicked her leg out, landing a booted foot against the unprotected thigh of the First Prime. The Jaffa gasped in pain, his reaction instinctive when he curled his fist, hitting her across the jaw with enough force to knock her unconscious.

"Enough!" Zeus snapped. He watched the blond man. The concern and rage on his face was that of a lover. "Take her to the harem. I will deal with her later."

The Jaffa who'd been holding her right arm tossed the woman's limp body over his shoulder, saluted his god, then hurried away.

"No!" Daniel growled, watching his Wife being carried toward the corridor. It was never a good thing when the team was separated. Which usually happened, but this soon after capture...it was a bad sign.

It had taken effort, but the Jaffa guards had finally pushed the two men to their knees. Were forced to keep their hands on the shoulders of the prisoners, and to keep the pressure upon them, else the men would have risen again. Glances of disbelief were exchanged among the Jaffa who watched. They'd never before witnessed prisoners who behaved in such a manner!

There was no need to understand the word. The emotion made the meaning clear. Zeus flinched slightly when the man turned to face him. Never had he seen such anger in the eyes of a mere slave! "Who are you?"

"I'm the man who's going to kill you," Daniel snarled, the venom in his words startling everyone in the room, all but the man kneeling in shackles beside him. Jack simply smirked at the Goa'uld.

"I am a god," Zeus replied flippantly.

"You're a parasite," Daniel replied, his voice cold.

Zeus frowned. Certainly this man and his companion had never bent knee in servitude. Breaking them would most likely be a challenge. He'd always enjoyed a challenge. Especially one he was certain to win. "You will learn to curb your tongue when addressing me," he said.

Diokles struck Daniel, splitting the man's lip, sending his glasses flying across the room.

"Find out who he is, Daniel," Jack said quietly.

Daniel gave a sharp nod of understanding, the motion doing nothing to ease the pain in his jaw, or the headache that was beginning to take hold as a result of the blow. "Just who are you?"

He crossed one leg over the other, lazily ran one finger up and down his thigh. He hadn't missed the interaction between the two men. Obviously the older man was in a position of authority over the younger. Recognition that had him frowning mentally over the situation. "I am your god. Your Master. I am Zeus."

Daniel's eyes narrowed. So this was the mighty Zeus. He studied the man's face, could see how easily the Goa'uld could have charmed simple village women. The reason he managed to keep Hera from killing him. Or from leaving his side, at the very least. "Zeus. Right. Ra kicked your ass off of Earth...um...the First World, long ago."

He bristled at the reference to the events that had resulted in his forced exile from the First World, and the lands he had ruled there. "Ra is no more."

"That's right. Because we killed him," Daniel said.

"You?" The one word was filled with disbelief, and condescension. Mere mortal humans were no match for gods! Many had tried, and those had failed, and died horribly for their efforts.

"Yes. Me. And this man beside me. With others of our...planet. We went to Abydos. And we destroyed the most powerful of all Goa'uld. We've killed many Goa'uld. You're nothing. We'll destroy you as well!"

Zeus studied the faces of the men who knelt before him, wearing their impudence like a mantle of protection. It seemed that there were a few pieces missing from the reports he'd taken from Ares' computer. "Where do you call home?"

Daniel smirked. "Earth...The First World."

Stunned, the Goa'uld did his best to hide the emotions that played through his mind. It was one thing to read a report that stated that the slaves of the First World had learned the secrets of the Chappa'ai. Zeus was, in that moment, forced to admit that he'd questioned that bit of information. When he'd contacted Lord Yu, soon after his exile, that Goa'uld had assured him that while the slaves had indeed overthrown their Master, and that Ra had declared the planet off-limits, worried that the spirit of rebellion could spread to the colonies of Tau'ri that had been established far and wide, their development had not been worthy of attention. Yet, here this man stood, telling him that he was from the First World. Looking far more...advanced...than what he'd believed those slaves to be...and there was something so familiar about the two faces in front of him...

He'd missed something, that much was obvious. He frowned, examined what few facts he had. It seemed that what he'd witnessed had not been what he'd assumed it was. The engine failure his ship's sensors had detected on the scout ship had not been the result of the attack he had believed to be happening. The scout ship hadn't been under attack by the strange glider. These Tau'ri had stolen the craft, it was the only logical conclusion to be reached. No doubt the glider, probably stolen as well, had been trying to protect them...He ran his finger over his jaw. If the Tau'ri were capable of stealing ships, then they were more of a threat than he had realized.

"That's right," Daniel said smoothly, calmly. Recognizing the fact that Zeus was beginning to understand just who he'd captured. "You might want to talk to Apophis about us. Wait, you can't...he's dead. We killed him. There's Seth...no, we killed him, too. And Hathor. And Cronus. And Marduk. And Osiris. And Anubis. We've killed so many minor Goa'uld we can't keep up with their names-"

"Silence!" Zeus roared. "You are but slaves. You will learn your place! Those who call themselves Goa'uld in this galaxy are but fools. I am not. I am the most powerful of all Goa'uld!"

"Yeah, we hear that line a lot," Daniel replied easily, giving a 'who-cares' shrug of his shoulders. "Hasn't stopped us from killing the Goa'uld who spit it out."

Diokles hit Daniel again, with more force this time, causing the archaeologist to fall backwards slightly.

Zeus pondered the names. All of the information he'd been able to gather indicated that Anubis had simply vanished. His eyes narrowed as he contemplated the possibility that this slave was speaking the truth. After Ra, Cronus had been the most powerful Goa'uld System Lord. Anubis had been a close third. Apophis, through manipulation and betrayal, had risen in the ranks of the System Lords as well.

What he needed, he decided, was to know the truth. And that would not come easily. There were ways to guarantee that what he was told was nothing but the truth...eventually. He turned his attention to Diokles. "Take them to the interrogation rooms. I will be there shortly."

"Yes, My Lord." The First Prime saluted, then turned to signal the Jaffa who still held firmly to the prisoners. He followed, making certain that these most troublesome humans remained unable to escape.

When the Jaffa jerked them to their feet, turned them to leave the room, Jack glanced over his shoulder. Caught the frown on the Goa'uld's face. "I think we have him worried," he whispered.

Daniel glanced back as well. "I have no idea where he got his information, but he's figuring out that he doesn't have the full story."

"So where are we headed?"

"Interrogation room," Daniel replied.

"Oy!"

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The Jaffa who'd carried Casey to the harem laid her gently on the low settee, then cleared the room of the women who'd followed him in, curious about the newcomer. These were not Zeus' most favored. Taken from villages and cities, high-born and peasant, the women weren't considered beautiful enough, sensual enough, to dwell with those from whom Zeus himself sought comfort. Instead, they were used by the minor Goa'uld who served as scientists and advisors. Their lot was more desirable than being in the slave bays on the lowest decks, or even the room beneath them, where the unluckiest of the harem slaves were used by the Jaffa.

The women took note of the beauty of their god's newest acquisition. She would, no doubt, be taken to the 'other' rooms, the more opulent chambers where the slaves who served only Zeus lived in luxury. Feelings ranged from idle curiosity about the blonde, to outright jealousy. None of the women missed the fact that she was left alone in the room, and that the door was carefully locked. Already she was being treated as a favorite. When she was conscious, she would be bathed, and dressed properly for her new role as the property of Zeus. A few whispered between themselves, speculating that the new woman would soon replace the slave known as Maia, who currently enjoyed the status of most favored.

Two of the engineers for the ha'tak entered the harem, made their selections, and took the women into the small alcoves that opened off the main harem room. Those left alone for the moment sat closely, chattering about the new shipment of cloth that had been promised, and the gowns that they would sew, their conversations a cover for the relief they felt at not being chosen.

One pair of dark eyes watched the locked door carefully. It had been many years since she'd sensed such power. If she were to tell Zeus about his just captured whore, she might garner her god's favor, return to her place at his side as one of his seers. When the Jaffa returned for the woman, and that would happen, sooner or later, she'd give him a message for her god. She began to work out exactly what should be said, what words would grant her an immediate audience with her Master.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The First Prime watched the prisoners as their wrists were placed in heavy manacles. Chains connected to the iron bracelets were raised, leaving the men standing uncomfortably on the tips of their toes. He cut the shirts from their bodies, both the heavy material of the outer garment, and the softer, thinner fabric of the innermost garment; tossing the scraps of cloth to the floor, leaving them naked from the waist up. The men had refused to speak; both looked at him with eyes filled with hatred.

He didn't understand the concept of electricity. He did know that if the skin of the prisoner was wet, the pain from the device in his hand was much greater. A barrel stood waiting in the corner, the wood dark from years of holding oily water, taken from the cooling pipes that surrounded the engines. Beside it was a dented, rusted bucked. He filled it, tossed it at the gray haired man. Filled it again, tossed it at the younger man. Both sputtered and spat as the water dripped from their faces, and ran down their chests. Another bucket full was thrown over each of them, leaving their bare skin completely wet. "There is no shame in telling me what your god wishes to know. I promise that you will not be hurt if you do so," he said quietly.

Daniel translated for Jack, realizing that while his best friend understood the most basic, and most often repeated words of Goa'uld, he had no idea what had just been said.

"Go to hell," Jack responded, glaring at the Jaffa.

Both men recognized the pain stick that the First Prime held tightly in one hand. He'd been hit by a pain stick during the attempt to free Chakka from those traders who'd lived on...what the hell had that planet been? The designation refused to come to him. "It's gonna be bad," Daniel murmured.

"Yeah, I figured as much," Jack replied. Like Daniel, he'd been on the wrong end of a pain stick one too many times. "We've survived worse."

"Really? When?"

"Give me a minute." Several missions that had gone tits up, resulting in the team suffering through torture of various degrees and types, flashed through his brain...made him wince mentally. The members of SG-1 had endured a hell of a lot over the years.

Zeus chose that moment to walk through the door. Settled himself on a chair that had been hidden in the shadows of the room, brought forward by one of the two Jaffa who accompanied him. "Now, we will begin. I will know the strength of your armies. Where they are located. How you have managed to learn of the Chappa'ai."

Daniel quietly translated.

"Not gonna happen," Jack replied, looking at the Goa'uld.

"No way," Daniel said.

"There is no need for...violence," Zeus said smoothly. Often men would capitulate quickly when just threatened with the pain stick. He nodded, and Diokles ran the stick over the chains above Daniel's head.

"We're not telling you anything. But know this, we will kill you," Daniel said coldly, succinctly.

Brown eyes flashed with anger. Such insolence could not be tolerated! "Begin!"

Diokles pushed the points of the stick into Daniel's abdomen. Amazed that it took several long seconds before the man finally cried out from the pain.

"For Casey, Daniel," Jack said. "You have to hang in there, and find her."

Gritting his teeth, shaking from the pain, Daniel stared at his torturer, his eyes full of anger...hatred. "For Casey," he ground out.

The First Prime turned toward Jack, pressed the points of the stick into his chest. Again, he was surprised that the man didn't scream immediately.

"Sam, Jack," Daniel gasped, trying to catch his breath, pain still very much controlling his body. "Think of Sam."

"I will have my answers," Zeus said firmly.

Diokles again hit the men with the stick, their cries echoing against the metal walls that surrounded them.

The Goa'uld studied the men. The older of the two, was a warrior. He could sense that. He wouldn't be so easy to intimidate. The younger, however..."If you do not tell me what I wish to know, I will castrate your companion. I'm told it's quite...painful."

Daniel paled. Told Jack what had been said.

"Don't you say a word Daniel!" Jack said, coughing slightly. "No matter what!"

"Jack-"

"Daniel, he won't do it," Jack said, staring at Zeus.

"How do you know?"

"Gut instinct," the older man replied. Praying he was right. Wondered briefly if his Immortality would protect him from life as a eunuch if he was wrong.

Daniel's blue eyes, as cold as ever, swung toward the Goa'uld. "Noc."

Zeus rose to his feet languidly. Pulled a long bladed knife from the sheath tied to his thigh. Tested the point with the tip of his finger, watching the two men the entire time. He walked toward the older man, expecting to hear the pleas of the younger man begin. He stopped, looked at Daniel when he remained silent. Lowered the knife, and toyed with the buttons of Jack's pants. The Goa'uld took the pain stick from his First Prime when the begging, the pleading, failed to fill the air. Jabbed the pointed ends into Jack's stomach, held it there; the crackle of electricity, and his screams, filled the air.

"You lousy son-of-a-cron'bah! He's not going to talk, and I'm sure as hell not telling you anything!" Daniel shouted, twisting and pulling at his wrists, trying to get closer to Jack, desperate to help, to pull some of the excruciating pain caused by the electrical current into his own body.

Zeus pulled the stick from the man's body, noted the blood from the punctures caused by the metal spikes. The prisoner was barely conscious. He walked toward Daniel. The young man never flinched. Never lowered his eyes. The blue orbs were filled with such hatred he could feel it. The process was repeated. With the same result.

Diokles caught the pain stick as Zeus tossed it to him. Stayed at attention as his god once again settled onto the chair.

"More water," Zeus said softly. Smirked as the prisoners were doused again. Oh, yes, he was more than up to a challenge.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

She opened her eyes slowly, tried to ignore the pounding in her head. If this wasn't a hangover, she was going to be pissed. Staying as still as possible, her eyes moved over the ceiling above her, down the wall that was beside...what the hell was she lying on? Some sort of settee. Oh, freaking great! Still on the damned Goa'uld ship. This was not good! Not good at all!

Images of the man sitting on the throne flashed through her mind. Made her shiver just a bit. Damned good looking bastard, she admitted silently. She searched her memory. Okay, the First Prime bozo had spouted off with the 'kneel before your god' bullshit, she'd said something, but couldn't recall exactly what it was...bozo slapped her, she kicked him...then nothing. That must have been when the lights went out for her.

Pulling herself into a sitting position, she dared to look around the room. Two walls were covered with the usual gold leaf, hieroglyphs telling whatever story the Goa'uld who owned the ship wanted told. The other two were decorated with colorful murals; naked men and women in various stages and poses of love making. Well, wasn't this just lovely. The harem. She immediately looked down at her body, relieved to see she was still wearing her BDU. That was a good thing. There didn't seem to be anyone around, another good thing, although she could hear voices...

Silently, she moved to the door, pressed her ear against it. Whoever was on the other side was speaking too softly for her to make out any words or phrases. With a sigh, she glanced around the room. Bed. Table. Settee...well, would you look at that!

Now wasn't that handy! There was a ventilation shaft right there next to the floor! Thank goodness for Goa'uld arrogance...and stupidity. Moving as quietly as possible, willing the owners of the voices to stay where they were, Casey carefully pushed against the satin upholstered settee, moved it slowly toward the table, where a crystal decanter and several glasses sat waiting. She knelt beside the gold grate. It wasn't as large as the shafts she was accustomed to, but with luck she'd fit. She'd find the access shafts, those used to allow repairs to be made, and travel the ship through them, she thought, searching her pockets; delighted to learn nothing had been taken.

Her trusty pocketknife, a birthday gift from Jack, sufficed as a screwdriver. She smiled as she recalled the conversation she and Sam had had over coffee and Oreo's...regarding the similarities in construction methods of the various civilizations. Sam was quick to admit that those of Earth had been greatly influenced by the Goa'uld, which was certain to be the reason that they found so many things 'familiar' about the alien ships and palaces.

Whatever the reason, it was good luck that the methods of construction were so analogous. Otherwise, escape might not be so easy. She stuck the screws into the thigh pocket of her pants, along with the closed knife. Gently pulled the grate from the vent. Peered in, wishing for a flashlight, or better yet, Daniel's penlight. It was small enough that she would have been able to hold it with her teeth.

Daniel! Her heart lurched in her chest, a feeling of panic washed over her. She had to stop what she was doing for a moment when her hands began to tremble, raising the chances of her making inadvertent noise. Daniel...Where was he? Most probably in the holding cells. She'd start at the detention level. If he and Jack were on this ship, she'd find them!

It seemed to take forever, but had been fewer than four minutes from the time she'd located the vent, until the moment she carefully worked the grate loose. Okay, almost there. She forced herself to take a deep breath. To remain calm. No sense in getting this close to freedom, only to blow it by doing something stupid, something induced by her rush to leave.

Giving the opulently decorated room one final glance, she wiggled feet first into the narrow shaft. She was forced to keep her arms straight out in front of her - no way to move around in this thing! She reached for the grate, slid back far enough to snap it into place, praying that it would stay put without the screws. Then began to push herself backwards. First cross shaft, and she could turn around.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Jack gasped as the pain refused to leave him be. For several dark moments he wasn't certain he could remain silent. The instinctive need to protect himself kept him pulling away from the pain stick, only to feel the prongs pushed more deeply into his belly. Daniel's constant reminders of Sam, and the escape they would soon make, gave him the strength to do no more than cry out from the torture, a reaction he had absolutely no control over.

His body was wracked with pain. One positive thing about ker'nish'ta, Daniel decided, in one moment of lucidity between waves of overwhelming agony, was that he had no memory of the beatings he'd received on Ba'al's ship. He focused his thoughts on Casey each time the pain stick was moved away from his body. Allowed his worry for her, his anger at her being taken, to keep him from breaking, and giving the damned snake who sat smirking at him and Jack everything he wanted. For Casey, he thought, gritting his teeth until he could no longer stand it, and crying out once again as the stick pressed against his stomach. "Casey!"

Zeus watched, as time after time the men were stabbed. Blood ran in rivulets from the wounds the device had created, mixed with the oily water and sweat, dripping onto the floor beneath them. They were strong, a trait he admired, whether in a friend or a foe. That they didn't break easily made him consider bestowing upon them the honor of serving him as Jaffa. If they could endure so much without the aid of Prim'ta, how much more would they be able to stand as members of The Faithful Ones? Oh, he had no doubt that they would not willingly accept such a position. But once the pouch had been created, and a Prim'ta curled within their bodies, they'd have no other choice but to obey him. Removing the larval Goa'uld would cause more suffering than they could imagine. Experiencing that once would be all it would take to induce their loyalty.

Another thought, worrisome indeed, crossed his mind. If all Tau'ri were as stubborn, as strong, as...brave...as these two men, taking over the First World might not be as easy as he'd believed. It would be an inconvenience, perhaps even dangerous, to be forced to commit a large contingent of Jaffa to the planet. If the Tau'ri were all as these men, they would resist subjugation. If the reports that Tem had given Ares were true, the sheer number of Tau'ri on the planet could become problematic. Oh, it would be easy enough to destroy cities. Which would lower that number considerably. However, if it served only to strengthen the resolve of the free Tau'ri, such an advantage might not have noticeable, nor desired, results. He frowned when he wondered briefly if the Tau'ri would be so brazen as to destroy their own cities to prevent him from taking them...

Diokles glanced over his shoulder at his Master. So far, the prisoners had given up nothing. It had been many years since he'd seen such spirit. He understood that the two men were encouraging one another. He believed it would be more advantageous to separate them, torture them individually in different rooms, where they wouldn't have the comfort of one another's words. He would say nothing, however. If Zeus believed he could learn what he wished to know in this manner, then he, even as First Prime, could offer no objections.

Again and again the men were subjected to the agony that the pain stick wrought. Other than their cries, and the words spoken to one another in a language he couldn't understand, gasped as they gulped air into their lungs, they said nothing. Zeus' frown deepened.

 

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Casey eased forward. She had no idea how long she'd been forced to crawl backwards. She was sure that her slow progress was due to the fact that it was more difficult to move without being able to see where she was going. It had been necessary for her to feel her way with her feet, hoping that her boots wouldn't hit anything that would cause undue noise to echo around her, alerting some passing Jaffa to her presence.

From what she'd observed during each mission requiring the team to be on a Goa'uld ship, they were all built the same. The only thing that seemed to differ was the location of certain laboratories or quarters for guests. What she'd learned on Ba'al's ship would aid her in getting around on this one, she was certain. She figured that the access codes were unique to each ship, what worked on one wouldn't necessarily work on another. Which meant that the codes she'd been able to learn would do her no good.

With that knowledge, she made her way slowly but surely toward the detention level. Stopped when she heard the muted sound of screams. Oh, no! That sorry bastard had better not be, she thought angrily. If she found out he was torturing Daniel, and Jack, she'd give him a little taste of his own medicine. Neutering the bastard came to mind. With her pocket knife. For starters.

 

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Zeus frowned. Shook his head when Diokles looked at him for permission to use the pain stick again. The prisoners had done their best to remain as silent as possible. When one cried out with pain, the other offered what he assumed was encouragement. The man with the sandy-blond hair would hurl insults in his direction as well. The thought that the man's grasp of Goa'uld had allowed his words to be most...inflammatory...skittered almost unnoticed through his mind.

The meaty fists of the First Prime were wrapped carefully in cloth. Not to prevent the bruising of the prisoners. But to prevent his hands from revealing the task he'd undertaken in the name of his god. Zeus preferred that the slaves not know which hands had beaten one of their number, and which hands had not. It instilled fear of all Jaffa, and made the large number of captives much easier to control.

Once again a Goa'uld assumed that Daniel was the weaker of the two. Diokles was surprised at the hard muscle he felt as he began to beat the man who swung helplessly at the end of a chain. Other than grunts of pain, the prisoner made no sound. Nor did the older man, when those same fists began to pound on his body. Just as Daniel had done, Jack grunted in pain. But never cried out. His brown eyes were filled with as much hatred as the blue eyes of his companion. Diokles took a step back, breathing heavily. It had been a very long time since he'd seen such resistance. Those men had died. But it had taken nearly a week of torture before they had.

Torturing one for the failure of cooperation from the other had been of no use. Neither man had uttered a word when questioned. For two hours he'd been attempting to learn just how powerful the Tau'ri of the First World had become. He seemed to be no closer to those answers than when he'd walked into the room, and ordered the interrogation to begin. There was danger in continuing...they were close to death, neither would be able to take much more abuse. It would be easy enough to put them into the sarcophagi he kept for such a purpose. However, keeping them in pain as long as possible would serve to break them sooner.

"Put them in the cells," he said. He waited long enough to observe the men taken down from the chains where they hung limply, then dragged one at a time to separate cells. His thoughts had continued to be haunted by the beautiful blonde woman. Perhaps she would be more willing to answer his questions. If not, he was certain that threatening her with the same brutal treatment the men had received would bring an end to their most irritating stubbornness.

 

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She slid as quietly a she could to the floor, glancing around her before moving up the corridor. Remaining as close to the walls as possible, staying in the shadows as much as the structure of the area allowed, Casey worked her way toward the rooms where prisoners whiled away their time. Peeked around the corner into the first one. Empty. So was the one across the corridor.

She huffed a sigh of frustration. Fought down the fear and panic that filled her heart. Was forced to admit to herself that the Goa'uld had no doubt taken the men to one of the 'special' rooms, where they did their dirty work. And that the screams she'd heard were from her Husband and commanding officer. She blinked back tears, aching to find Daniel, to know that he was alive, that he hadn't been injected with that damned ker'nish'ta.

Dashing through the empty passageway, she crawled back into the vent she'd just emerged from. Began to move slowly. She needed to go down a level. It took several frustrating minutes to find her way to one of the access shafts that had convenient rungs welded into the walls. If she wasn't completely turned around, she should be in the access shafts just above the level of rooms where most Goa'uld performed their most heinous acts of torture.

When she heard his voice, she stopped, looked down through the grate. She was above him. Held her breath for fear of being heard, hoped that no one could hear the wild pounding of her heart.

"Bring the woman to me," Zeus was instructing his First Prime. "No doubt she will tell me all I wish to know."

"Yes, My Lord."

Well, shit! As soon as they found out she was missing, they'd start looking for her. And it wouldn't take them long to figure out how she had escaped, or where she was. She tugged on her lower lip. Distraction! She needed a distraction...one that would keep the tin men and the snakehead busy while she located Daniel and Jack.

She knew where the engine room was. She just had to get there before that asshole made it to the harem chambers. There wasn't time to waste. Moving carefully, so as not to alert the men below her to her presence, she slid forward. There should be a grate to one of the corridors just ahead. Hopefully, she could use the elevator without being discovered.

When she reached the end of the shaft, she heard the familiar clank of Jaffa armor. She tugged her lip between her teeth. No time for doubts or second guesses. There was no one near to see her slip from the shaft, and carefully replace the vent. Or to see her disappear into the shadows of the support beams.

For a change luck was with her. She remained hidden from several Jaffa in the dark shadows. When one of the armored men stepped out of the elevator, to join those who were walking toward one of the chambers nearby, the doors remained open long enough for her to slip onto it. It took several frustrating seconds to remember Goa'uld numbers. She located the symbol for the level she needed, pushed it. Closed her eyes and whispered a prayer.


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