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There's A New God In Town

Chapter 7

Colonel Ronson grinned up at the team as they walked onto the bridge, and gathered in front of the star map. "Welcome home, SG-1."

Filling the three wide windows in front of them was the blue and white sphere of Earth. Casey sighed. "Home. Gotta love the sound of that."

"Amen," Jack said quietly. "I rather imagine General Hammond is ready for a briefing. Let's go home, campers."

"We'll be in position by the time you get to the rings," the commander told them.

"Thanks, Bill," Jack said.

"You bet, Jack," Ronson said quietly.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

General Hammond was waiting in the ring transport room. "Welcome home, team."

"Thank you, sir," Jack replied.

"While I'm sure you have quite a story to tell, we'll debrief tomorrow. Go get some rest, SG-1," the general said.

"Thank you, sir," Jack said, answering for his team. It had been one hell of a long day. Started out pretty well, he thought. Went to shit thanks to a Goa'uld. Wasn't that the way it always went?

Wearily, the team headed for the locker rooms to change into their civilian clothes, meeting up again at the elevator. Teal'c bid his friends goodnight there, choosing to take the stairs down to level twenty-five, where his quarters, and those of the others, were located.

Casey leaned against the back wall of the lift. "You know, I'd like to experience one of those 'cakewalk' missions you guys keep talking about."

Daniel smiled. "I could do with one or two of those, myself."

"Damned snakes not only ruined a perfectly good war game, they blew up my 302!"

"Technically, boss, you're the one who set that self-destruct thingy," Casey said, tossing a grin in Jack's direction.

"You're a smartass."

"Which you have told me many times," Casey replied.

"Because it's true."

"I wonder how long it will take Zeus to repair his ship?" Sam mused quietly.

Daniel, Jack, and Casey exchanged wide grins. "Well, considering we wanted to help as much as possible, I'd say it's going to take him a few days," Jack replied.

"Longer if we're lucky," Casey interjected.

Sam grinned. "Sounds as if the three of you managed to have a good time."

"Well, there were parts of the afternoon I'd have rather skipped," Jack said. "But for the most part, it wasn't a bad day."

Casey glanced sideways at Daniel. She'd heard the screams. Wondered just how much he'd suffered. Knew that he'd never tell her exactly what he'd endured. It was only fair, she supposed. She'd never told him all of the details about what she remembered from the hours she spent on the metal web as Ba'al's prisoner, the first time his Jaffa had captured her; what she had told him she'd glossed over quickly, wanting neither to upset him over what had happened, nor to think about what she'd endured.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

She sighed contentedly as they walked into the house. Home. No SGC. No Goa'uld. Just Daniel. Just her. The two of them, safe and warm and happy.

The soft sound of her sigh went straight to his heart. While he checked the mail, she pulled a casserole from the freezer. She took a bottle of wine from the cabinet, he grabbed two glasses from the cupboard. "Celebrating, are we?" he asked with a soft smile.

"I thought it appropriate," she said softly, her smile matching his. "After all, it's not every day I get to almost single handedly destroy a ha'tak."

He sorted through the drawer of odds and ends, searching for the corkscrew. "Were you...um...still dressed...when you woke up?"

"Yep. Boots, socks and all," she replied. "I would've been much pissier if I hadn't been."

He couldn't help but chuckle.

She stepped behind him, wrapped her arms around his waist, rested her cheek against his shoulder, her body pressed against his back. "I wanted to cry...to scream...I wanted to hurt someone as badly as you'd been hurt when I saw you."

"I've been through worse." Although, now that he thought about it, he was hard pressed to recall any particular incident that would qualify. He'd suffered as badly, of course. Being a Goa'uld prisoner was never easy. And often being beaten was part of the routine. Torture was always a danger. It was something they'd all endured at one time or another. It was something none of them discussed. It was enough to know that they'd survived.

"There had to be a reason it was so easy."

Daniel turned, pulled her against his chest. "Easy?"

"Think about it. We weren't on that ship for more than what, four, four-and-a-half hours? And for at least two of those hours, we were crawling around, trying to find a way out of the mess."

"Well, you said we were...are...protected."

"I said you're protected," she corrected gently. "The rest of us benefit by default."

"You also said there was a reason for going through all of that," Daniel reminded her.

"Still no details. But yes, that's what I felt. I have no clue what the reason could possibly have been," she replied.

"Maybe it was simply to let Zeus know that the Tau'ri aren't as easy a target as he might believe."

She shook her head. "That doesn't feel...right."

Daniel frowned. "What other reason could there be?"

Slender shoulders moved up and down in a familiar shrug. "I have no clue," she admitted.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Light years away, on a ship that was still under repair, a group of Jaffa stood talking quietly. What they'd witnessed had left more questions in their hearts, and in their minds. How could their god be so easily attacked, his ship nearly destroyed, by three mere humans? How could those men, who'd obviously been beaten and tortured, threaten the very life of the great Zeus?

"Had the ship not shaken around us, tossing them to the floor, the prisoners would have made good their escape in that moment," one of the Jaffa said softly. "I have no doubts that they would have killed Zeus."

"I concur," another said. "I saw fear in the eyes of our...'god'."

"As did I," a third said. "When the explosion took the glider bay, he was as surprised as we were."

"Then the shol'va speak the truth. The Goa'uld are false gods," a fourth murmured. He hadn't been on the glider bay, hadn't witnessed what the others had. He listened intently however, never questioning their observations, never doubting their conclusions. How it had happened, he wasn't sure. But he'd somehow become the leader for the Jaffa who questioned. Whose hearts yearned for freedom from their yoke of servitude to the Goa'uld. "We must be careful. What we think, what we feel, what we know must never be revealed in our actions, by our words, or our faces. We will have our chance to find this one named Bra'tac of Chulak."

"It will not be easy to pretend," the first Jaffa said.

"No, it will not. But we must do so, if we are to remain alive long enough to gain our freedom." The man glanced around. "Return to your duties. We must not be seen together often."

Heads moved up and down in understanding. Diokles watched as the young Jaffa hurried in separate directions. He'd known for some time that Zeus wasn't all that he claimed to be. That his 'power' was provided by artificial means. There were times when it seemed to be true, moments when his doubts seemed to be silenced by events...but only because of manipulation, or simple good luck, or even a matter of fortuitous timing. His doubts outweighed his belief, and were growing ever stronger.

Would a true god need a device on his hand with which to inflict pain? Would a true god be unable to locate three prisoners, one of whom was a mere slip of a woman? And whom, by all evidence he could find, had acted alone in destroying fifty-three crystals, and damaging equipment that would take days to repair. Would a true god have needed to resort to such cruel torture to learn what he wished to know - which, in spite of that torture, he hadn't learned?

Diokles smiled grimly. The days of humans being intimidated by the Goa'uld were coming to an end. If what he'd heard about these Tau'ri was correct, they were spreading thoughts of freedom and rebellion among the colonies scattered throughout the galaxy like fire spreading through a dry forest. The list of Goa'uld killed by a group of five known as SG-1, of whom one was the shol'va named Teal'c, was impressive. In seven years this small band had cut a path of destruction through the ranks of System Lords that was unrivaled in any previous rebellion.

That they had ships such as those his two most trusted Jaffa had seen when the ring transport had been activated, proved that they were not simple farmers any longer. And Zeus was a fool to believe that they were.

For now, he had duties to perform. At least he would not need to come up with a reasonable excuse to explain away the glider that had been destroyed when the three prisoners escaped the ship. The explosion in the glider bay had destroyed the gliders there, he could simply count it among them. And at least five Jaffa hadn't survived the first of the explosions that had been the cause of that destruction. Again, the missing pilot would simply be counted among the unfortunate who had died when the Tau'ri craft exploded.

Charis had managed to beg for her life, insisting that the witch had spirited herself and the two men away. Diokles was still convinced that the woman had sensed the truth about the slender blonde with the fiery green eyes. He had no doubt that the Tau'ri was indeed a witch. How else could she and the men have moved around the ship so silently, never seen by any of the numerous Jaffa who patrolled and guarded the corridors? How else could she have escaped from a locked room? She had to have the power of healing, else those men could never have walked away from those cages, let alone run as he'd seen them doing.

Diokles understood that Zeus was a false god. That fact did not change another, separate fact. That there were those in the universe with powers not understood by mortal men.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Daniel sat back, his hunger sated. "Casey, that was delicious."

She smiled. Began gathering the dirty dishes. "Thank you. It's just a simple recipe. I've made it before. I think the fact that you were half starved made it taste better."

"I think it's just because you're a great cook," he countered. He stood, picked up the two wine glasses and carried them to the dishwasher.

"Thank you," she repeated. She was still learning how to graciously accept a compliment. It was easier with Daniel. For one thing, he did it on a daily basis. For another, she never needed to wonder about his motives when he offered those compliments. They were sincere, and given with love.

He leaned back against the counter. "You've been rather quiet this evening."

She forced a smile. In the safety of her home, with Daniel safe and alive and healthy beside her, images of how he'd looked as he sat in that cage had begun to haunt her. "I'm okay." Damn it! It was out before she could stop it.

"C'mere, Angel," he said softly, pulling her into his embrace. "Now, tell me what's wrong."

Instead of answering, she took his hand. Led him to the bathroom. Began to slowly undress him, starting with his boots and socks. She pushed his pullover up to his shoulders, let him take it off and toss it aside. Unfastened his belt, then unsnapped and unzipped his jeans. She pushed them and his cotton boxers from his hips, caressing his ass, then his thighs, as she did so.

As soon as she had him naked, Daniel began to return the favor. Her sweater landed on top of his pullover. The lacy little bra fell on top of it. When her jeans and panties were in a crumpled heap beside his own denims, he reached into the shower and turned the water on.

"Talk to me, Case."

Tears filled her eyes. She knew where every cut, every puncture wound had been...the memory was burned into her brain. Her lips began to caress every place where he'd bled, trailed kisses over the ribs that had been broken.

Apparently seeing him in the condition in which she'd found him had upset her more than he realized. There was a flutter of wonder near his heart at that realization. "I'm okay, babe."

"You weren't," she whispered in reply.

"No, for a little while, I wasn't," he admitted. Wiped away the tears that stained her cheeks when she looked up at him.

"It hurt so badly, seeing you like that...knowing what you'd gone through. I..." she lowered her head. Wasn't surprised when he tucked his finger beneath her chin, raised her face, forcing her to meet his gaze. "I heard the screams. I was in the shaft, heading for the detention cells. That's when I realized I needed a diversion."

He winced. He could still hear the screams, Jack's and his own.

"You were being hurt, and there was nothing I could do," she said, tears falling faster now.

"Oh, Angel," he murmured. Pulled her into his arms, hugged her tightly. "Let it go, just push it away, and let it go."

"Easier said than done."

"I know. C'mere." He stepped into the shower, felt her step in behind him. He turned around, pulled her back into his embrace. Held her close as the warm water flowed over them. Felt her body shake from the muffled sobs that filled her throat.

She'd wanted to race into the interrogation room. Wanted to kill whoever was hurting him, wanted to snuff out that life with her bare hands. Instead, she'd fled the other way. Oh, her head understood. Without the diversion created by the damage she managed to do, she never would have been able to slip into that room and free him and Jack, from those cages. Her heart, however, insisted that she'd failed him. Failed to protect him. Even though she'd known that they'd leave the ship alive, she hadn't been there when he needed her. When her head demanded to know just exactly what she could have done, her heart refused to supply an answer.

"Shh, don't cry, babe. It's all over, everything is okay now," Daniel said softly, pressing a kiss to the side of her face. Smiled when her arms tightened around his neck.

"Sometimes-" She broke off. No, what she was feeling, was thinking was so...wrong. So damned selfish!

"Sometimes?" he prompted, when it seemed that she wasn't going to finish her thought without him doing so.

"It's wrong."

"What's wrong, Case?"

"What I'm thinking...wishing. Well, sort of wishing."

He mentally rolled his eyes. No doubt whatever 'it' was, it was 'wrong' only because she deemed it so, not necessarily because it was. "Tell me," he whispered.

"You'll be disappointed in me."

Another of her fears. It hadn't happened yet. He doubted seriously that it ever would. He was so proud of her that he sometimes felt as if he couldn't contain it all. "Never."

"I...well...I wish you weren't The One. That...that it wasn't so important that you go on missions. Sometimes I wish you could do what the other archaeologists in the mountain do."

He smiled again. There were two other archaeologists assigned to SG teams. They took the same risks as he did each time they went through the 'gate. The other three went only to planets where teams had already visited, planets he had selected for further study. While it was true that anyone walking through the 'gate took a chance of running into trouble, those missions truly were cakewalks, nothing more than excavations and examinations of ruins, or whatever had piqued his interest in photos and video recordings.

His silence worried her. "I told you it was wrong," she said sadly.

"No, it's not. I wish the same thing. Especially when something happens to you. Because of who I am. Or at least, who some people...or Beings...in the universe believe I am. There are days I'd love to do nothing more than archaeological work, with you right beside me."

She pulled away far enough to enable to her look up into his face. "You do?"

"Mmmhmm."

With a sigh, she snuggled deeper into his arms. "Just one cakewalk mission. Just so I know what it's like. That's all I'm asking for."

Daniel chuckled. "I want more than just one. Considering what we've been through the past couple of years, I think a dozen or so are in order."

Casey sighed softly. "I think I'm ready to wash now."

"Good." He reached for the new, bright red scrunchy she used. Couldn't help but smile when she took a washcloth from the hook, squirted his shower gel on it. Her touch was soft and gentle, as always. And, as always, it both comforted him, and aroused him.

Her body arched toward him as he moved the soft scrunchy over her skin, leaving a trail of soapy foam with each pass. She gasped when his soapy fingers slid between her thighs, cleansing her gently, thoroughly.

No matter how he touched her, or the reason for the touch, her response never failed to please him. Knowing that he was the only one who could elicit such reactions always made his heart beat faster and harder against his ribs.

She'd already washed her hair, although it was wet, since she hadn't clipped it out of the way. It wouldn't take but a few minutes to get it dry.

He turned the water off, grabbed two towels from the bar across the door. "Dry your hair, Angel. I'll turn back the bed."

"Good plan."

"I thought so," he grinned.

"Meet you in bed in five."

"I'll be waiting."

 

 

 

He was lying on the bed, hands behind his head when she walked into the room. The soft scent of her lotion, the one from Victoria's Secrets that he loved so much, wafted toward him, seemed to caress him as she slid onto the bed.

Her eyes moved over him, taking in every inch of his beautiful, incredible body. The cuts and bruises and punctures were gone now, not even the faint reddish marks of fading wounds could be seen. She settled beside him. Once again began to kiss each and every spot where he'd been wounded.

He filled his hands with her hair, silently watching as she moved her lips over him. He knew exactly what she was doing. Part of him reveled in the love that he could feel in each touch. Another part worried that she'd torment herself with the memory of what he'd looked like. Couldn't have been too pretty, judging by the way he'd felt. For now, he would say nothing. If she had nightmares, he would be there for her, to hold her, to talk her through them.

Firm, warm flesh...strong muscle...healthy tissue. No marks, no scars. Her eyes, her hands, her lips confirmed for her that he was all right. It wouldn't be easy to forget what she'd seen, to deal with her feelings of guilt. But she'd do her best. Like everything else she had experienced...suffered...endured...since becoming a member of SG-1, she'd push it to the back of her mind.

Her loving attention was making him needy. Making his mouth water to taste her. His fingers itched to touch her. It was sheer torture to hold back, to wait until she'd given him a sign that she was ready to move on, to make love. There was no way to hold back the moan that filled his throat when she wrapped one soft hand around his throbbing cock.

She moved over his chest, greeting each flat nipple in turn, teasing the buds until they were hard and the brown disks that surrounded them were puckered. Licked his collarbones, kissed her way to his lips. Still stroking him gently, she nibbled on his lower lip before pressing her mouth against his, waiting for him to kiss her, to make her gasp, to take from her what she so eagerly offered.

Sweet, his brain informed him. So damned sweet. As soon as she acquiesced, he dove into the warmth of her mouth, touching her, tasting her, taking greedily what he wanted, what he needed. Sighed against her when her tongue darted into his mouth, shyly touching and tasting him in return. As her passion built, her kiss would become more insistent. But for now, the tender caresses of her tongue sufficed to turn him on even more.

His kiss consoled her. She could feel him struggling to hold himself in check. Understood that he needed to affirm that she'd escaped unharmed. When she began to trace his lips with the tip of her tongue, he moaned softly, cupped the back of her head, deepened the kiss as he began to demand from her what he knew belonged to him, and him alone.

He moved his hips impatiently when her hand stopped the gentle caresses it had been making. Knew in an instant that doing so had pleased her...delighted her. Amused her. When her lips moved slowly from his, toward his jaw, another sigh filled him. The journey of love had begun, and he'd soon be soaring among the stars.

She couldn't help but smile against his skin. He was breathing harder, faster. His hips were moving slightly as she continued to stroke him. Her assessment of his condition had reassured her, and now completed, she was making love to him. Once again she teased his nipples until they were as hard as she could possibly get them.

Sometimes she seemed determined to drive him insane before she finally offered the kisses he wanted the most. Tonight, however, was not one of those times. She settled on her knees between his legs, looked up at him, giving him a wink that made him grin. And slid her mouth around his throbbing shaft, taking down as much as she could. Sweet Jesus, it just can't feel any better than this!

The moan of gratitude, of approval, that filled the air around them made her heart dance against her ribs with sheer joy. She sucked steadily for several minutes, until the throbbing had increased to the point she was certain he was too close to coming. Moving her tongue around the girth of his magnificent manhood, from the nearly purple tip to his balls, she licked and teased him, noting with satisfaction that when she nibbled here...and here...and there...he jumped ever so slightly.

Oh, god, that feels good! His eyes rolled back in his head as that talented tongue and hot, eager mouth continued to please him, torment him, until he was certain he was going to lose his mind. Another groan moved up from his belly when he felt himself slide deeper, the head rubbing the back of her throat. When she began to swallow, his toes curled.

His belly was beginning to roll, any minute now he would give up that precious white love. Her hands worked in concert with her mouth...she sucked until the need to swallow asserted itself. She swallowed hard, making certain he could feel each and every movement of her throat.

"Oh, god," he groaned. "Casey!"

Victorious, she took down every drop, let him fall from her mouth, licking him clean, kissing him gently as the throbbing subsided. She trailed kisses up his belly, over his chest. Kissed his lips softly.

The needs of his body temporarily content, other than the addiction that was making itself known, Daniel rolled over, putting her on her back. He began his own journey of love, placing kisses over her lips, her cheeks, her eyelids. Grinned to himself when she raised her chin as he began to nibble on that fragrant, elegant throat. The tiny shivers she gave each time he nipped at her pleased him.

He greeted his beauties, kissing each pink tip. Before they'd dressed that morning, which seemed longer ago than just the day it had been, he'd bestowed them with his adoring kisses. Casey, however, had refused to let him do more. Which was probably a good thing, he admitted silently. But now they had the time, and he wouldn't be denied.

When he settled over her, his hands holding her breasts, kneading them gently as his mouth moved from one nipple to the other, she knew that he was going to take his time, would drive her to the edge of madness before moving on. Her fingers curled in his hair, her back arched off the bed, pushing her body closer to him, offering more to his hungry mouth and warm, gentle hands. Completely unaware of the soft sounds of pleasure she was making.

He suckled, giving each breast his undivided attention in turn, noting with approval that her breath was coming in short, hard pants. Those soft little sighs and gasps and moans turned him on, urged him on. Each time he tugged on one of those sweet, delicious nipples, her hips pressed up against him, making her need known. She hadn't teased him, not long, anyway. He wouldn't do so to her. Not tonight. With one final kiss for each sweet tip, he moved from her breasts to her belly, laving every inch of that flat expanse of skin with his tongue. He ran the tip of his tongue over and into her bellybutton. Smiled to himself when she moaned softly.

She opened readily to him when he slid down, made himself comfortable between her thighs. Her hips were pointed up in anticipation of those most intimate of kisses. His eyes smiled up at her when he lowered his head. Flicked his tongue over her. Then licked her from top to bottom. Oh, goddess that feels so good! Her hands went back to his hair, holding on as he began to take her on that most amazing ride.

He took the time to investigate every fold, nibbled the puffy nether lips that glistened with her need. Prolonging the anticipation for both of them. Her eyes were pleading with him, begging him. He lost himself momentarily in those green depths. Then shoved his tongue into her, lapping at the flood of honey that poured from her, that soft sigh of approval making his heart pound.

The first shivers of pleasure moved over her slender frame. She closed her eyes when he began to alternately flick his tongue over her, then suckle gently on her swollen clit. The sensations raced up and down her spine, fluttered in her belly, then settled in the heat between her thighs. Yet another moan escaped when his fingers slid into her, moving deep and hard. Goddess she loved it when he did that!

Her hips were moving up and down against his face. In a matter of seconds she would be singing her love to him. The tip of his tongue tried to coax that hard, pink nub further from the hood, before he took it gently between his teeth. He rubbed it with the flat of his tongue, then flickered the tip of it over that swelling button of pleasure as quickly as he could.

The whimper she'd never been able to control filled her throat as lights began to flash and colors began to twirl behind her closed eyelids. She was reaching for that shimmering climax, waiting to take flight.

He slid a third finger into her, increased the speed of his hand. Listened as that dulcet song of love filled the air around them. He continued to tease her until her hips began to pull away from him. She was soaring, and any further stimulation would become painful. He kissed his way up her delectable body, stopping as always to spend just a few more minutes on his beauties.

She wrapped her arms and legs around him when he sheathed himself in her still trembling body. Another aspect of their love making that never failed to excite her...please her. She loved the feeling of being so full, of being one with him. Her hips met his as he began to thrust slowly, gently.

So good. Always, always, always so damned good! Making love with her would never be anything less than spectacular. Heaven. Home. Two words that described what she was to him, how he felt when he held her. She was the perfect fit. She was his. And that thought pleased him most of all.

Tugging until he lowered himself, so that she could feel the weight of his body as they continued to move together, she pressed kisses against his shoulders. One hand was in his hair, her fingers holding him, the other moved over his shoulder, down his back, and up again.

She'd confessed to him that she enjoyed having him 'take her in two places at once', her description of how she felt when he made love to her, pushing into her body as far as he could, and kissing her, thrusting his tongue into her mouth at the same time. It was one hell of a turn on for him as well, the feeling of taking her in that way. He nuzzled her cheek. Felt her lips meet his.

Oh, goddess, yes! Take me! Take me! Take me! she cried out silently. She tightened her arms around his shoulders, grasped his waist more firmly between her thighs. Never had she dreamed making love could be this good...so pleasurable...so damned near spiritual! No one needed to tell her that only in Daniel's arms would she be so free, so alive.

Her love wrapped around his heart just as tightly as her body wrapped around his. He could feel the tingle in the back of his skull. Not much longer now, and they'd fly together. She was trying to increase the pace, her need driving her, demanding...begging. He complied with her wishes, his own body making demands as well.  Rising up on outstretched arms,  he began to pound into the warm, willing, eager body beneath him, driving his cock harder and deeper with each thrust. Never before had he been able to let go, to feel like a wild man...to act like a wild man. To let his body take exactly what it wanted...needed.

Hot and incredible and absolutely mind bending, fingers of pleasure stretched from her pulsing center all the way to the tips of her fingers and toes. The composition he'd been conducting was building, the overture increasing in an ever climbing crescendo...soon to burst into the finale that would leave her weak with satisfaction. "Nngg...oh, god!"

He leaned down, kissed her, then pressed his lips to her ear. "Sing for me," he panted softly.

The whimper filled her throat, her hips meeting his thrust for thrust, grinding against him each time he pushed into her. She cried out as she leapt off of the top of the mountain, spiraling upwards as her body shivered and exploded into a million pieces of pure pleasure.

Having given her the pleasure she needed...she deserved, he let go of the control he'd been clinging to, barely coherent as he joined her, his cry of ecstasy ending in the whispered prayer of her name. Spent, breathing hard, he dropped down on her, felt her arms and legs wrap around him protectively...possessively.

These were moments she treasured...coming back down to earth from the heights where he'd sent her, feeling the weight of his body pinning her to the bed, holding him tightly. She pressed gentle kisses against his shoulder.

With a groan, Daniel rolled to his back, keeping her with him, remaining buried in that sweet, warm body. They'd barely arranged the blankets over their still entwined bodies before sleep overtook them. Weariness prevented any of the horrors of the day from filtering through, and they slept the dreamless sleep of contented, sated lovers.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Coffee in hand, Casey followed Daniel into the briefing room. Jack and Sam were already there. Teal'c was pouring hot water over his teabag, then joined his teammates at the table.

General Hammond sat down, opened the file in front of him, which held the copies of each individual mission report. He'd read them later. For now, he wanted to hear what they'd seen, heard, and learned. SG-1 could bring back damned near as much intel after being held prisoner as they could on a mission to gather information. "Tell me what happened."

"I was getting ready to do a fly-by of the scout ship," Jack said. "I'd just been 'killed'."

Casey tried to bite back her giggle. Didn't succeed.

Jack glared at her before continuing. "I saw a pyramid ship uncloak right above them, and that tell-tale beam that told me that someone had either ringed to the scout, or had ringed them up. I sent out a warning, told Colonel Ronson to keep the Prometheus and the F-302's cloaked, and the next thing I knew, I was in some sort of beam. It pulled me onto that ship, straight into the hanger bay."

The general frowned. "I wasn't aware that the Goa'uld possessed such technology."

"The Goa'uld we're aware of don't have it," Sam replied. "I have to agree with Daniel's suggestion that it's a possible alteration of Asgard beaming technology."

"It's also possible that it's something they picked up in the Andromeda galaxy," Jack pointed out.

Daniel nodded. "We have no idea how many advanced races might be there. It's possible that the Andromeda galaxy is where the Furlings disappeared to."

"I see. Do you know who this Goa'uld is?"

"Zeus, sir," Jack replied.

Hammond nodded. "I was afraid of that. I received a report from the Tok'ra." He nodded at the folders in front of the team. "If this information is true, we have one hell of a problem on our hands."

Sam gasped out loud. "Three hundred and fifty thousand Jaffa?"

Jack blanched. "This can't be right! One hundred al'kesh? And as many teltac?"

"Oh, this is not good," Daniel said, shaking his head. "He has fifty ha'tak? If this is correct, Zeus controls almost half of that galaxy."

"Who's this Nergal?" Casey asked.

"Apparently a Goa'uld who had left Earth long before Ra was tossed out," General Hammond replied.

"He's a Sumerian/Babylonian god. One of the worst," Daniel said absently, still trying to take in the staggering numbers of ships and Jaffa owned by Zeus.

"And just as powerful as Zeus," Casey said.

Five heads swung in her direction. "Say what?" Jack asked.

"What what?" Green eyes rolled. "I so hate that!"

"If this Nergal is as powerful as Zeus, that might be what's kept either of them from taking over completely," Sam said.

"According to this, only half a dozen of the so-called Greek pantheon are still alive. Zeus, Ares, Hera, Apollo, Athena and Artemis," Daniel said. "It's possible that Ares killed most of them."

"Which would explain their lack of affection for him," Casey said dryly.

"Hera seems to be allied with Zeus; whether or not they're actually involved romantically or sexually, the Tok'ra spy was uncertain," General Hammond said. "She seems to be the only other Goa'uld in that sector with any real power. The others are nothing more than minor System Lords now."

"One thing might be in our favor, sir," Jack said, still frowning at Casey. "If this Nergal is as powerful as Zeus, then it's a simple fact that Zeus isn't going to bring many of those ships or Jaffa here. He won't be able to."

"He could just ask Hera to help him," Casey said.

Daniel shook his head. "From what this report states, the Goa'uld in the Andromeda galaxy have been as busy fighting among themselves as those here have been."

"Not much of a fight when you have two like Zeus and Nergal," Casey retorted.

"But enough to keep them both in check," Jack mused.

"It is possible that in spite of the large numbers of ships and Jaffa, the size of his territory is problematic for Zeus, and Nergal as well," Teal'c pointed out.

"That's a good possibility," General Hammond nodded. "It would explain why they haven't battled it out for supremacy. To do so would leave their holdings unprotected, inviting attack by the others."

Before anything more could be said, the klaxons began to wail, the emergency strobes painting the corridors with pulsing red light. SG-1 followed the general into the control room.

"Do we have any teams due for check-in or return?" the general asked.

"No, sir," Walter replied.

"Casey?"

"Nothing, sir," she said, shaking her head.

A thin beam of light seemed to penetrate the very center of the iris. Which shimmered for one moment. Standing before them, dressed in his full battle regalia, was Ba'al.

"Holy Hannah!" Sam whispered.

"I am Ba'al. System Lord...Supreme Leader of the Goa'uld," the flickering image announced.  

The English was heavily accented...but apparently the Goa'uld had learned the language of the Tau'ri who tormented him at every opportunity.  Probably learned it from Casey, Daniel thought.

"Yadda, yadda, yadda," Casey muttered. Snickers filled the air around her.

"I offer my protection, in exchange for your cooperation. I have but one stipulation. Casey Jackson is to be sent to me immediately."

Absolute silence fell in the control room.

"When it rains, it pours," Jack said, running a hand over his face.

General Hammond didn't know whether to be furious or frightened. "Contact the Tok'ra. And Thor. This has to be a violation of the Protected Planets Treaty."

"I don't think so, sir," Daniel said. "He's not making any threats."

"Oy," Jack muttered. "He's walking the line, and he knows it. He's up to something."

"He needs our help to defeat Zeus," Casey said, shrugging slightly.

Sam nodded. "I agree."

"Or he wants to focus Zeus on us, so that he can sneak around and stab him in the back," Jack said.

"Either way, we have one hell of a dilemma here, people," General Hammond said.

"Do you want to...um...reply?" Walter asked nervously.

"Not yet, I don't," Hammond said. "I'll call the president. Walter, get those messages out, now! Let me know the minute we get a reply."

"Yes, sir," Walter said.

"Won't Ba'al know we're contacting them?" Casey asked.

"If he's monitoring our communications, yes he will," the general replied. "But at the moment, that's the least of my concerns."

She nodded her understanding.

The image flickered for a few more seconds, as if waiting for a response, then faded away.

Daniel stared at the spot where the image had been 'standing'. "I thought you said he hated you," he said quietly.

"He did. Or so I thought," Casey replied. She shivered, rubbed her hands over her arms. "I so don't like this!"

Daniel wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pressed his lips against the side of her head. "Me, either."

"Don't worry, Radar. Balls can demand all he wants. He's not getting a damned thing from us."

"Until he threatens Earth, and the G-8 decide that my Wife is a small and acceptable sacrifice," Daniel spat.

"Remember what Dad told you," Sam said, giving the couple a weak smile. "The Tok'ra can hide you for as long as necessary."

"Something tells me that if we go into hiding, all of SG-1 had better be with us," Casey said softly. She shook her head when four pairs of eyes looked at her expectantly. "I hate Mondays," she sighed.

THE END


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