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 There's A New God In Town

Chapter 5

"Okay," Sam said quietly. "If this doesn't work, I'll want to know why."

The corners of Teal'c's mouth pulled upward slightly. "I have no doubt that this will function as you have programmed it to do."

"I don't know how long it will take to hit on the correct code," Sam warned, although she couldn't help but smile at his assessment. It seemed that the faith her teammates had in her abilities, her knowledge, buoyed her when her own faith was flagging at best.

"As long as we remain cloaked, those on the ha'tak will not be aware of our presence," Teal'c replied calmly.

She gave a nervous nod. "Right."

"Once we are on board, we must locate O'Neill, Daniel Jackson, and Casey Jackson as quickly as possible."

"Holding cells?"

"It is most likely."

"And if they're not there?" Sam asked.

"Then we shall search for them."

"Wish we had a few of those armbands the Tok'ra use to mask their bio-signs," Sam sighed.

"Indeed," Teal'c agreed.

"Let's tell Colonel Ronson what we have."

The colonel was on the bridge, frowning at the ha'tak that continued to sit in space. "It hasn't moved since taking our people on board, according to the coordinates O'Neill sent before he disappeared," he told the two SG-1 members when they joined him.

"That's odd," Sam frowned.

"That's what I thought," Ronson replied. He looked at Teal'c. "Any ideas on why the ship isn't moving?"

"I have none," Teal'c said. His frown matched those on the faces around him. There was something strange about the way the ship was sitting. "Is it possible for our scanners to detect any anomalies on the Goa'uld ship?"

The colonel looked sharply at the Jaffa. "Anomalies?"

"There is something not right," Teal'c said.

Ronson looked over at his navigation officer. "Can you tell me anything?"

"No sir. Their shields are...wait a minute, the shields just went down!"

There was something...he continued to watch the ship...watch the ship...watch the ship...he could see the ship! He had listened to the frantic message O'Neill had sent to the Prometheus, that he had seen the ha'tak uncloak to use the ring transport between it and the scout ship. Cloaked...it had been cloaked...The ship wasn't cloaked! It hadn't been for some time now. Teal'c couldn't help but smile. "I believe that our teammates are causing damage to that ha'tak."

Sam gave a grim smile. For the three members of SG-1 to be causing damage, they had to be running free on that ship. Which meant that they weren't suffering torture or some other abuse at the hands of the Goa'uld. It would also make it a hell of a lot harder to find them.

"From what I can tell, their life support system is malfunctioning. Engines are off-line as well," Gant reported.

"That's a hell of a lot of damage!" Ronson declared. "Is there a chance this ship was in a battle?"

"There are no burn marks, no visible fires burning," Teal'c pointed out. "For a battle to have created such extensive damage, there would be evidence of such hits. I believe that O'Neill, Daniel Jackson, and Casey Jackson are free, and are causing as much trouble as possible."

Ronson nodded.

"We have a way to get on that ship, sir," Sam informed the commander. "But if the colonel and the Jacksons are running free, and hiding, finding them could be difficult."

The frown returned. "Suggestions?"

"Sir, if we get on that ship, and go searching for the them, our chances of being caught are the same as them being recaptured," Sam said.

"Which would be?"

"Rather high," Sam admitted.

The commander sighed. "As much as I want to get the colonel and the Jacksons off that thing, I can't let you go storming in there just to be caught yourselves. If there was a way to get a message to them..."

"I could send one to the F-302 that Colonel O'Neill was piloting. It's possible that they'll try to make it back to the fighter," she suggested, assuming that the fighter had been taken, forced most likely, onto the Goa'uld warship.

"Do it. We'll wait another hour. If we haven't heard from them by then, you and Teal'c have permission to try and board," Ronson replied.

"Yes, sir." Sam hurried to the communications console. Called up the ID numbers for the F-302 Jack had been flying. Carefully worded a message, one that he would understand, but any Jaffa who might know English would not - as many times as SG-1 had been captured, as often as the Tau'ri had run-in's with the Goa'uld, it was a real possibility that there were those who had learned a few words of American English, just as she and Jack had learned a few words of Goa'uld.

She nearly panicked when an error message was returned. Carefully keying the number a second time, and repeating the message, she watched with growing frustration as the fighter refused to acknowledge or recognize the message. Something was wrong, and it had to be a problem with the fighter. Had it been damaged? Or destroyed? Her blood ran cold at that thought. Had the Goa'uld fired on the fighter at point blank range? Sam closed her eyes, willed herself to remain calm. There was a small field of debris nearby, but so far, scans indicated it was from the scout ship. The colonel's message had indicated a ring transport between that ha'tak, and the scout ship. That Ronson was to keep the Prometheus and the F-302's concealed. And that he was going to do what he could to get Daniel and Casey back. Jack O'Neill, I'm going to kick your ass, she thought worriedly. I told you not to do anything stupid!

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Ares paced the length of the pel'tak, then the width, nearly a dozen times before throwing himself onto the throne that sat on its platform behind the control consoles. Word had reached him that Zeus was once again in the galaxy. Looking for him, no doubt. He had lost all contact with Thracia. He didn't need a spy's report for him to know that his father had reclaimed that planet. Let him have it, Ares thought peevishly. There wasn't a damned thing there worth fighting over. It was symbolic at best.

Zeus must have brought every ship, every Jaffa that could be spared from protecting his territory, if the report was to be believed. Which meant that he'd be eager to settle the score that lingered between them. No doubt he had a few nasty tricks up his sleeve, Ares brooded. There would be no greeting from the Goa'uld who had selected him, set him up as his son. When they crossed paths, the only acknowledgement would be an attack, Ares was certain of that fact.

He grunted with frustration. One ship. Seven hundred Jaffa. All that were left to him after the swift, unexpected machinations of Ba'al. That Goa'uld had taken everything. Ares was unable to do more than obey the one who would call himself the master of the son of Zeus. Damn Tem! He'd been too easily distracted by that fool! He was still waiting for Mehen to return with the proof of Tem's death. Not that he'd heard anything from the Goa'uld in Kinsey's body since he had left Thracia.

The only way to survive, was to find Zeus, and attack. If he was quick enough, the attack precise enough, he'd be able to destroy his father, and take what he had. From the last report he'd received before leaving the galaxy to which he and his family had been exiled, to take control of what Zeus held would make him invincible.

He scowled at the Jaffa who stood waiting beside the console. "Take us to Yu's territory. Rumor has it that my father has joined me here," he growled.

"Yes, My Lord."

It would be like searching for a pearl among pebbles. Ares was determined. He would find Zeus. And then he would destroy him!

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The room was wrapped in shadows as he sat silently, staring into the darkness. The quiet breathing of the woman in his bed the only sound to break the stillness. The healing device was still attached to his hand. He'd forgotten about it; he slowly pulled it from his fingers and placed it on the table beside him. The device necessary after he had stormed into the harem, finding the slim blonde who had reminded him of Casey, who had been a poor, but acceptable substitute for his Consort. His anger...his fury at the woman he loved...hated, he corrected himself, sending him into a rage, beating the slave nearly to death. Casey would have been appalled at his behavior. Would have called him a 'snake'. Would have shouted her hatred of him. Bitch, he snarled mentally. How he loathed her! How he loved, his heart sighed.

Chagrined by his actions, a feeling quite unique to him, Ba'al had carried the bleeding, unconscious woman to his quarters. Had carefully healed her. Allowed her to bathe, and then told her to sleep, pointing to his own bed. There was no chance he would be sleeping. He continued to search his memory. Never had a woman affected him like that slender Tau'ri, with her bewitching green eyes, and her soft, sweet-smelling skin. Never had his emotions been so close to the surface, so much in control of every thought, every action.

A bruised and battered face filled his memory. The words of the man, beaten but not broken...never broken...echoed in his head.

"She is my Wife!...She loves me!...She belongs to me!...She hates you almost as much as I do!"

The battered face changed, became the sweet, beautiful face he loved...

"I'll never stop loving him, never...never stop loving him...never stop loving him...loving him...I hate you...I hate you...I hate you..."

The anger, the hatred that had filled those beautiful green eyes had been as deep, as dark as what he had seen in the eyes of her husband. As he'd continued to torture Daniel Jackson, her name fell from the man's lips each time he was coherent enough to speak, just as Jackson's name had fallen from her lips, each time she thought he couldn't hear her.

Ba'al shifted in the chair. Every moment he'd held dear, had cherished; every sigh, every soft moan...nothing more than his own imagination. He had never held her. Never touched her. Never tasted her. Never broken her.

She was strong willed; wild and free. A sad smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. Once, when he'd been the ruler of Babylon, he'd owned a horse just as beautiful. Just as headstrong. Just as unbreakable.

He ran his hands over his face. He had thought Apophis a fool to remain faithful to Amaunet. How many times had Apophis searched the known galaxy for the perfect host for his Beloved? Now he could understand what drove him to raid planet after planet. Whatever Amaunet wanted, Apophis would give her. Just as he would give all to Casey.

His heart ached, even as his mind grabbed onto, and held tightly, the anger that he'd felt when he watched her escaping his ship. Three times he'd held her. Three times she'd escaped him. Even as he tried to rekindle the fire of that anger, of that hatred, it only simmered. Continued to cool as time moved past him. Love...hatred...were they not just two distinct sides of the same emotion? One could not love without understanding hatred. One could not hate without suffering in love.

He shook his head mentally. He had no time to sit and philosophize. Zeus had arrived. There was no doubt that he would issue a challenge. His own position was still precarious at best - even with Ares bowing to him the other Goa'uld in the sector would not be so quick to follow, nor so easy to subjugate. An alliance against Zeus would benefit him, but not necessarily the others, and they'd be quick to realize that fact. If Zeus was as powerful as Yu's spies had suggested, standing united against him was the only chance of survival. It wouldn't do to have the entire galaxy fall to one Goa'uld. Unless, of course, that Goa'uld was him. Which, he sighed mentally, was looking less likely with each passing day. He might have the advantage now, for the moment. But adding Zeus to the equation...

A sudden thought, a plan, began to form itself. It was a risk. A wager that he must make carefully, if he were to win. Green eyes and a warm smile danced in his memory. Oh, yes, it was a wager he must win!

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Three pairs of eyes watched the Jaffa who stood guard in the bay, completely surrounding the F-302. "Well, shit," Jack hissed.

"We need a distraction," Casey whispered in reply.

"Whatever you're thinking - no," Daniel said immediately.

"You don't even know what I'm thinking!" she protested. The ship shuddered around them, the Jaffa they watched exchanging nervous glances. "I didn't do that!"

"Under attack?" Daniel asked.

Jack shrugged his shoulders. "With our luck? Most probably. No doubt some other Goa'uld will be stomping around here. We need to find an armory. Zats would be good about now."

Two blond heads bobbed in agreement.

"Okay, then. Radar, which way?"

She closed her eyes. She hadn't been on the hanger bays on Ba'al's ship. She had no idea if, or where, any weapons lockers might be on that level. However, two levels up, on one of the cargo levels, just below the level where the slaves were kept, she could remember a small armory. Not that she'd been allowed near it, of course. If all held true, that Goa'uld ships were all damned near identical, then the armory should be there. If not, there was always the one on the detention level. "This way," she whispered, sliding back into the access shaft.

They were becoming experts at moving around between the walls and floors of Goa'uld ships, Daniel thought bemusedly, following his Wife. And thanks to her time as prisoner on Ba'al's mothership, and the fact that she'd paced for hours every day, Casey knew the ships nearly as well as Teal'c.

When she stopped abruptly, Daniel collided face first with the shapely fanny in front of him. Before he could ask her what was wrong, he smelled it. Smoke. Electrical from the acrid aroma that assailed his nostrils.

"Not good," Casey whispered.

"Back up," Jack's muffled voice ordered quietly. They had to get out of the shafts before they were overcome by the smoke. Which meant taking to the corridors. Which were crawling with Jaffa. Taking the escape pods was sounding like a better idea all the time.

There were only two junctions behind them. They reached the first, only to discover that two ha'he, or Goa'uld technicians, were working in the adjoining shaft. They were trained in the very basics of Goa'uld technology, able to make rudimentary repairs, although over time, most of these trained Jaffa learned enough to earn their places among the favored of whichever Goa'uld owned them. The two men were coughing, the smoke overtaking their position quickly.

The second junction offered only two ways to go...back to the hangar bay, or to the left. So left they went. The shaft narrowed drastically, it was meant for ventilation, not for people. While Casey was able to continue sliding with little trouble, her slender frame fitting easily between the four metal walls, Daniel and Jack were finding their way much more difficult. Their bare shoulders were in constant contact with those same metal walls, and any rough spots or protrusions were leaving cuts and scrapes on their skin.

The vent opened into a workroom. Which just happened to be occupied. Damn it! Casey thought irritably. She knew that the men behind her would be anxious to know what was going on, why she had stopped. The three people in the room didn't seem to be working. They were sitting beside a table, their eyes wide with fright. Not slaves, she noted. There were no branding marks on their forearms. Possibly Goa'uld, although she'd have to get a bit closer to be able to sense any 'duality' that would indicate the presence of a symbiote. She huffed a silent sigh. They were shit out of choices at the moment. Wishing that she could let Daniel and Jack know what was going on, hoping they'd figure it out quickly, Casey began to push against the grate that covered the vent. The screws that held it in weren't tight, meant only to keep the grate from falling out, and certainly not designed to withstand sudden, sharp pressure from the opposite side. The grate rattled to the floor.

Shocked, the two women and the man jumped to their feet, eyes wide when a slender woman slid to the floor.

"Shh," Casey whispered, putting her finger to her lips. "We're not really here. This is just a hallucination brought on by the smoke."

Looking at one another, mouths agape, not one sound was uttered.

"Casey, what the...oh, hello," Daniel said, sliding to the floor beside his wife, understanding in a heartbeat whom her comment had been aimed at.

"What the hell is going on?" Jack asked, landing beside Daniel. "Oh."

One of the women fainted. Her male companion caught her, barely, then held her frame tightly against his body. The other woman took two involuntary steps backward.

"I guess we surprised them," Casey said softly.

"Yeah, I'd say so," Daniel agreed.

Jack glanced at the door. "We need to keep moving."

"Right," Casey replied, shaking herself mentally. She darted across the room, peripherally aware that the occupants had backed into the far corner, and stood watching her. She pressed her ear against the door. Couldn't hear anything. Trembling fingers reached out to activate the lock.

Two Jaffa who stood guard turned, their surprise offering Jack and Daniel the opportunity to dash towards them, and wrest the staff weapons from their hands. The struggle lasted mere seconds, but seemed an eternity to two of the combatants.

Breathless, Daniel held out his hand. "C'mon, Angel. We gotta go."

Wiggling her fingers in the direction of the people who continued to watch with mounting panic, Casey took his hand, followed the men into the corridor.

"We have been cursed," the man whispered hoarsely, misinterpreting Casey's goodbye wave. He gently lowered the unconscious woman to the floor, dropped down beside her. His companion followed.

"We will die now," the woman moaned softly. She wrapped her arms around her waist, began to rock gently back and forth. Expecting to fall dead an any moment. She was already feeling ill.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Zeus stalked the room. Saboteurs! On his ship! How long had they waited, planned this attack on him? He ordered a full count of the slaves, wanting to determine if one, or several, of that number had somehow managed to escape their keepers. The last raid he'd conducted, while on his journey back to the galaxy of his birth, had yielded nearly three dozen new slaves. Including Maia. Had they not been properly broken? Had their spirits remained strong enough, their minds clear enough to plot their revenge; their bodies healthy enough to carry out such a bold plan?

Diokles was busy seeing to the distribution of Jaffa, sending some to put out the fires that seemed to erupt without warning among electrical systems that had been damaged, sending others to initiate repairs. Still others were needed to keep the slaves and servants from panicking as the ship continued to shudder around them. What the Goa'uld didn't know was that his First Prime was also frantically looking for three escaped prisoners.

A Jaffa entered the room, saluted his god. "My Lord, the seer among your harem insists on speaking with you."

He heaved a sigh. He didn't have time to deal with the bitch now. She'd fooled him into believing that she had the gift of sight, one that would aid him during his attacks on enemies that encroached upon his territory. She'd been a fraud, and he'd deliberated her fate carefully, debating on whether to send her to the slave house, or the harem. Her apparent aversion to men had piqued his cruel streak, and he'd relegated her to the harem. That she wasn't among the lowest of the women kept as pleasure slaves was merely because of her occasional ability to give him tidbits of information that proved true.

No doubt the charlatan would tell him all about the bad luck that had befallen him. With a weary nod, Zeus settled onto his throne. Waited for the woman...Charis, he thought her name was, to be brought to him. The wait wasn't long.

Charis hurried across the room, dropped to her knees, then lowered herself until her forehead was touching the floor. She remained that way until Zeus bid her to rise to her knees. "The woman you brought on your ship this day is a witch, a most powerful witch," she said bluntly, not waiting for her god to give her permission to speak.

"And you know this how?" Zeus asked.

"I could sense the power within her," Charis replied honestly.

Dark eyes scrutinized the woman kneeling before him. He had no doubt that the woman possessed a modicum of ability. But not to the degree she'd claimed. Perhaps it was possible that she had indeed sensed such power in that slender, blonde beauty. His attention swung to the Jaffa on the right of the woman. "Bring the female prisoner to me."

"She has escaped, My Lord," Charis informed the Goa'uld. "Vanished as if into the air."

"DIOKLES! Find my First Prime! See that he reports to me immediately!"

The Jaffa gave a startled, jerky salute, then fled the room.

A troublesome thought forced its way through his mind. With a growl, he jumped to his feet. Reached down and grabbed a handful of dark hair, yanking the woman to her feet. "If I learn you have helped this woman to escape, you will beg me for your death!" he hissed. He let go so abruptly that she staggered, fell back against the Jaffa who waited beside her. "Take her back to the harem. See to it that none of the others manage to 'disappear'."

"Yes, My Lord."

Zeus stormed from the room, heading for the interrogation chambers. If what he suspected was true, he knew the identity of the saboteurs. They were on his ship. He would find them. And exact his revenge.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

"I'm sorry," Casey whispered, frowning at the wall where the door to a weapon's locker should have been.

"Don't worry about it," Jack said reassuringly. Still gripping the staff weapon taken from the Jaffa he and Daniel had rendered unconscious.

"We know for certain where at least one is," Daniel reminded them.

Jack nodded. "Doubt they'd expect us to go back to that level."

Keeping to the shadows, moving carefully, the three began to make their way back to where their current adventure had begun. Whatever true gods watched over them saw fit to leave the corridors of the detention level completely unguarded.

"Well, why lock the barn door after the horses escape?" Casey giggled.

Retracing their steps, Daniel located the armory door. Opened it, and found that all but half a dozen zat'nik'tels were missing. There were four grenades as well. Hanging on one of the walls was what appeared to be a munitions belt of some sort. He shoved the grenades into the stiff leather bag, and tossed it over his shoulder.

Armed now, and relieved to be so, the three set out again, determined to make it to the hangar bay, and onto the F-302 that sat waiting.

"Time, Radar."

Casey glanced at her watch. "Four forty-five."

"Damn!" Less than an hour and a half. "Keep an eye on the time. When we're down to thirty minutes, which is one hour from now, we head for the escape pods," Jack said.

She nodded her understanding.

"It's not going to be easy crawling through shafts with these," Daniel said, nodding at the staff weapon he held.

"So we have to stick to the corridors," Jack replied, unwilling to give up the weapons. "Let's find an elevator. When the doors open, we fire. Don't worry about aiming your first shots."

 

 

 

Zeus stared at the empty cages. Witch. The word echoed in his head. There was no doubt in his mind that the beautiful blonde with the enchanting green eyes was just that. Had she not been haunting his thoughts, preventing him from thinking clearly since her arrival? For all of their technology, all stolen from other civilizations, or 'assimilated', as they'd done with the Ancient knowledge, the Goa'uld were every bit as superstitious as the most humble peasants. A trait that had carried over into the Jaffa that they'd created. The Goa'uld were experts at illusion. But recognized the fact that there were forces at play in the universe around them that couldn't be explained away with hard, cold logic. The thought settled more firmly in his brain. At this point in time, getting the woman off of his ship seemed the best course of action...killing a witch could mean only more problems, especially if she should choose to haunt him!

"Oh, shit!"

He turned at the sound of the soft voice. Came face to face with the little witch herself, and the two men who should be in far too much pain to stand, let alone run as they obviously had been.

Casey raised her zat and fired.

"Casey!" Daniel gasped.

"Hey, he was there!"

Jack grinned. "We just picked up our ticket out of here! Come on, Daniel, give me a hand."

When the Goa'uld, who was sprawled in an ungainly heap on the floor began to move, Casey lifted her zat again.

Jack held up a warning finger. "Ah, ah, ah! No killing our ticket. We need him alive."

Daniel grinned, picking up on his best friend's line of reasoning. "We carry him, and threaten to blow him away whenever the Jaffa get too close."

Her eyes had focused on the knife sheathed on the man's thigh. She lunged forward, grabbed it, surprised when his hand closed around her wrist. "Let go, or I hit you with this thing again."

"I am a god, you cannot kill me!" Zeus scoffed, trying to maintain his dignity as much as possible, hoping to put at least a bit of doubt in those green eyes.

"Wanna bet? I hit you again, the host is gone. I either wait until you slither out, or cut into the body and yank your snaky ass out. Either way I stomp you beneath my boot. One less snake in the universe to worry about."

His mind focused on the one word that caught him by surprise. "Snake?"

"That's what Jack calls you guys. Personally, I think you look more like a nasty eel. The type that should be obliterated from existence."

Dark eyes darted to the two men who stood watching, smirks on their faces. Jack. That was the name of the older man, he'd been able to determine that from the time spent torturing the two men. He glanced again at the woman beside him. Did she have healing powers as well as the ability to move unseen? It seemed likely, considering that the two men were far too healthy after what they'd endured earlier in the day. He withdrew his hand, watched warily as the knife was pulled from the sheath.

There had been cuts on Daniel's chest, two on his face. They were still there, not as pronounced as when she had first seen them, but still visible. Had this knife been used to make those marks? She held the tip of the knife against the Goa'uld's throat, pressed slightly, smiling at the immediate sight of blood. "Very nice. Very sharp," she said softly. "And I'll use it to slit this man's throat, and reach in and pull you out of that body if you so much as blink wrong."

The anger, the hatred that filled the beautiful green eyes left no doubt that the woman meant every word. It had been a very long time since he had found himself in such a predicament. He nodded slowly.

"Tell him we shoot three times if he tries anything," Jack instructed.

"Jack says to tell you that I get to use this on your sorry ass if you try anything. Three times. It would make my day to get to do that," Casey said, her voice low and sultry.

Daniel chuckled. Wondered if Zeus was as turned on by her voice as he was. He quietly translated what Casey had said, grinned when Jack chuckled as well. He moved forward. "On your feet."

Too shocked at the sudden turn of events to do anything other than comply, Zeus rose to his knees, then stood slowly. Wasn't prepared for the fist that buried itself in his stomach. He grunted with pain.

His blue eyes were snapping with anger, and hatred. "Just a little taste of what we owe you. If we had the time, I'd hit you again," Daniel snarled.

Gasping for breath, Zeus remained hunched over as Daniel and Jack grabbed him by the arms.  The thought that these three were the progeny of the slaves who'd overthrown Ra flashed through his mind.  He didn't find himself as amused by that thought as he always had been before.  Instead, he began to suspect that the Tau'ri of the First World would be the most trouble he'd ever encountered.

"Okay, Radar, let's go," Jack said quietly.

When the elevator opened on the lower level, the Jaffa in the corridor stepped back in absolute horror as they watched the two half-naked men who held their god captive between them. The woman motioned threateningly with her zat'nik'tels. Unsure of what to do, all eyes went to Zeus.

Dark eyes glared at the warriors who should have been striking down the prisoners. "Kill them!"

"Try it, and we use this," Daniel warned, waving his zat slightly. "Three times."

Humiliated...furious...Zeus was already plotting the punishment for these three. It would be painful. And he would continue to revive them again and again until his anger was mitigated.

The F-302 waited silently, just beyond a group of gliders, six in all. Watching carefully, the three Tau'ri and their hapless prisoner moved ever closer to that bastion of freedom. The ship shuddered around them again, knocking Daniel and Zeus to their knees.

Zeus used the opportunity to reach for the weapon in Daniel's hand, jabbing his elbow into what were surely broken ribs.

As if a spell had been broken, staff blasts began to blacken the deck around them. Jack was firing in return, Casey had whirled and was offering as much resistance as possible, backing toward the relative cover of one of the gliders.

When one of the blasts hit the access panel on the side of the 302, a loud whine filled the air.

"Oh, hell," Jack muttered. "We have to get out of here! Now!"

Daniel was still wrestling for control of the zat. He didn't have time for this. He pulled back his right fist, and hit the Goa'uld across the jaw, sending Zeus' head flying backwards. It was enough to give him the advantage. He threw another punch, rolled to his side, forcing Zeus to the metal floor. Another blow, and the man was unconscious. He staggered to his feet.

Jack put one hand under Daniel's arm, the other still firing the staff weapon, although most of the shots were going wild. Wild or not, they served to keep the Jaffa down, and unable to return fire, for the moment at least. "Let's go!"

Casey had picked up the staff weapon Daniel had dropped when Zeus attacked him, and was firing as quickly as possible; hoping to keep the Jaffa down, and away from the door, long enough for them to escape. Again.

They stumbled into the corridor, raced for the elevator. "Where are the escape pods?" Jack asked.

"Same level as the pel'tak," Casey replied. Her fist slammed against the hieroglyph that represented that particular level.

"Oy!"

"I take it that the 302 is about to blow," Daniel said dryly.

"Yep," Jack acknowledged, watching the indicator above the door. He recognized a few of the symbols, understood that they were moving up. "With luck, those assholes won't get out of the hanger bay before it does."

Another shudder. This one tossing them roughly against the back wall of the lift. Which jerked to sudden halt. The lights flickered, and then went out, plunging them into complete blackness.

"This is so not good," Casey moaned.

Emergency lights flickered on, giving everything around them an eerie red hue. "Gotta go, campers," Jack murmured. He was examining the ceiling. Every elevator had one...there!

Daniel put his foot into Jack's tightly laced hands, felt himself moved upward enough to reach the hatch. He shoved, watched as it swung open, landing on the roof of the car with a resounding thud. He grabbed at the opening, pulled himself up. "Shit, it's dark! Just a couple of small lights three levels above us."

Jack was lifting Casey toward the opening. "No choice. Look around for rungs. There should be a ladder of some sort nearby."

Looking around frantically, Daniel finally spotted the metal bars that would allow them to climb to the next level. "Got 'em." He helped Casey to the grimy platform, then reached down to give Jack a hand up.

When the ship seemed to heave around them, the three clung to one another. The elevator car dropped sharply, then lurched, shuddered, and stopped.

"Casey, what the hell did you do?" Jack demanded breathlessly.

"I didn't do enough damage for this," she declared.

"Domino effect," Daniel said, trying to keep his teeth from chattering in the cold elevator shaft. "Whatever you did effected enough systems that others are starting to shut down as well."

"We'll debate the issue later," Jack growled. "Let's go."

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Sam was biting her lower lip. The ha'tak had begun to list slightly. Major Gant continued to report that the Goa'uld ship seemed to be badly damaged. She cried out with dismay when the bottom corner of the ship exploded, sending burning debris in every direction.

"If O'Neill and the Jacksons are running free over there, let's hope they can find a way to signal us," Colonel Ronson said, his face ashen as he watched the ha'tak drop again.

Teal'c's mouth was turned downward, his heart pounding against his ribs. Three of his dearest friends, three people who were family to him, were in danger. And he was at a loss to know how best to help them.

"Teal'c, are there any other landing bays on the ship?" Sam asked quietly.

"There should be one more on the opposite side," the Jaffa replied.

Ronson nodded. "Go. Keep in constant communication. If we hear from them, we'll let you know."

Nodding that they understood, Sam and Teal'c took one last look at the ha'tak, the hurried through the door.

The pilots, who had just hours earlier been engaged in war games, flying in space for the first time in their lives, were pacing the hangar bay. They didn't know the details. They did know that Colonel O'Neill, and Doctor and Mrs. Jackson were missing. Taken captive by the creatures known as Goa'uld. And that 'their' fighters had been armed...with real ordinance.

"Major, what's going on?" Captain Sanders asked when the tall blonde major and the Jaffa raced in. He'd faced Goa'uld gliders, he understood the threat better than his companions.

"Right now, the colonel and the Jacksons are being held..." Sam paused, shook her head. "We believe they're being held on that Goa'uld mothership," she amended.

"It is highly likely that the three of them have managed to escape their captors, and are wreaking havoc. The ha'tak is suffering extensive damage," Teal'c added proudly.

The pilots offered small smiles. That was good news, right?

"All pilots report to the hanger bay, all pilots report to the hanger bay!"

Everyone jumped and looked at the speakers overhead in surprise.

Sam hurried to the com panel. "Colonel Ronson, what's going on, sir?"

"Gliders, just came from the other side of the ship. Looks like they're examining the outside, probably assessing the damage," came the reply. "I want all of our 302's out there. Stay cloaked, stay alert."

"Yes, sir," Sam replied. She turned to the pilots. "This time, it's for real."

Expressions of grim determination covered each face. These men had been in tense situations before, facing an enemy who had no compunction at shooting them down, held in check only by the mediation of the politicians who gave the orders to those who fought. None of them had ever been face to face with an alien enemy. There would be no last minute reprieves this time. When...if...the fighting started, it would be for real, and for all the points.

Double checking to make certain the computer on her fighter held the program she and Teal'c had created, one that would hopefully give them access to the landing bay of the ha'tak, Sam started her systems check.

For the time it took the F-302's to clear the hanger bay of the Prometheus, the ship would be vulnerable. Although not completely visible, the shields would allow the cloaking device to continue to camouflage the vessel, there would still be an anomaly visible, if the pilots of the gliders were paying attention. Hopefully they'd be focused on the ha'tak, and remain unaware of the cloaked craft hovering to one side of it.


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