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A Taste of Things to Come
Casey was on her knees, heaving into the toilet. Daniel was gently rubbing her back. It had been good fortune that had kept her from being ill while they were on the moon waiting to meet up with Potter. She sat back, closed her eyes. "I hate this part."
Daniel smiled. Same comment, every time. "Me too, Angel." He offered her a drink of water. Watched as she rinsed her mouth. Helped her to her feet. Handed her a mint from the package in her pack.
She turned to face him. "You have to do this, Daniel. We can't wait."
"I know." His face pale, he held tightly to her hand. Led her from their quarters to the bridge.
Colonel Bradshaw nodded when they walked in, his eyes followed them as Daniel made his way to the large window that offered a view of the moon below them. Everyone on the bridge knew what was about to happen. Understood that it had to happen.
He could see the oceans, the land masses. Clouds swirled around like wisps of cotton. There were mountains and valleys, prairies and deserts. There were people down there. Innocent people. He closed his eyes. Ignored the tears that filled them. Began to pull up the Fire.
She could feel his hesitation. 'He'll kill you, Daniel. He'll kill our babies. With his own hands he'll kill my babies! Then he'll take me to his bed. He'll touch me, Daniel. He'll taste me…he'll kneel between my legs and addict himself to me! I don't want him touching me…please, don't let him take me.'
Her voice was soft, pleading…the words impacted on his brain…and his heart. He could feel the rage begin to burn. Could still see the images that Nicholas had sent him. See those hands on her body…His Beloved being mauled by that snake-headed bastard…
'Apophis took Sha're…had her every way imaginable.'
The rage grew hotter…
'Don't let him take me, Daniel. Don't allow another Goa'uld to touch your wife, Your Chosen. To have her like you have so many times.' She watched his eyes. The Fire was white-hot, his anger growing by the second. 'Don't let him take your children from you.'
He lifted one hand, felt the Fire racing toward his fingertips.
'Can you see him, Daniel? Can you see him taking me? Fucking me? Hurting me?'
His vision narrowed. That blood red haze surrounded everything. Never! He was never going to allow that to happen! His other hand came up. "I'm sorry," he whispered. He concentrated, forcing the Fire to his hands. Felt the heat that her Fire always added. Drew from it. Then sent a beam of white-hot fire to the moon below. Continued to send it until he could no longer stand.
The force with which he had sent the Fire impacted on the surface, creating an explosion of the same magnitude of dozen megaton naquadah bombs. The crater formed was nearly five miles deep, and fifty miles across. Within minutes fire was spreading, so quickly that it was literally sucking the air from the atmosphere. So violent was the impact that the crust of the small moon began to crack, the molten core pushing up through the openings and adding heat and fire and poisonous gases to the air.
The crew and the team watched in horror as the moon began to burn. The shock wave had been visible from their vantage point. It was doubtful that much had survived that massive wave of power.
Daniel dropped to the floor, tears on his cheeks. He realized that Casey had given him the…incentive…to do what had to be done. Without her, there was no way he could have destroyed an entire world. Wiped out who knew how many Innocent people.
"The few must be sacrificed to save the many," she whispered, her arms around his shoulders, holding him tightly.
"But how many times will the sacrifice be required, before those numbers are unacceptable?" he asked softly.
"No more," she said softly. "I hope."
"Me, too. I can't do that again. I won't do that again." He stood to his feet, caressed her cheek, then walked away. The pain that he felt was visible in his blue eyes for all to see.
When Casey would have followed him, Methos grabbed her arm. "Give him a little time alone," he said quietly.
He made his way to the cargo bay. This was where she had fallen apart, where all that Nergal had done to her finally overwhelmed her. He put his back to the wall, slid down and pulled his legs up, wrapped his arms around them. An entire fucking planet! He had just destroyed an entire fucking planet! How many people? A thousand? Ten thousand? A hundred thousand? A million maybe? God, he couldn't do it again! He had enough blood on his hands!
Daniel held his hands up, stared at them. Imagined that he could see the blood dripping off them, the blood of every Jaffa, every NID agent, every enemy he had ever fought. Now the blood of Innocents mingled with it, from that village where he had battled the renegade Others. Blood of the people on the moon that burned beneath the Prometheus. So much blood that it flowed from his hands, created an ever growing pool of red in front of him.
Tears fell onto his cheeks. "I'm sorry!" he cried out, the anguish he felt ripping his heart into pieces. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I’m sorry! Oh, god, I'm so sorry!"
Sobs tore at him, wracked his body as his grief overwhelmed him. He fell to his side, curled into the fetal position as he wept; angry, bitter tears of regret for every death, remorse for each life his hands had snuffed from existence.
Casey had followed him in spite of Methos' suggestion, knowing instinctively where he had gone. She fell to her knees beside him, tried to pull him into her arms.
"Don't! Don't touch me! Leave me alone! Get away!" he snapped, jerking away, moving out of her reach. "I'm dirty…bloody! You're the purest, most precious thing in my life! I can't touch you! I can't let the blood touch you!"
Her tears dripped from her chin. She glanced around, knew that They were there, watching him. "You did this to him! You've caused this pain! He's a good man; such a kind, gentle man! Look what you've done to him!" she screamed, her anger palpable. She pulled herself to her feet, her hands clenched into fists at her side. She was glaring at the ceiling of the room. "Take a good look at what your damned battle for control has cost! Take a hard look at what you've done! You think you're so much better than us…we poor lowly humans! But you're not! Daniel is the most wonderful man that ever lived! He's so much better than you that you can't stand it! LOOK AT HIM!"
The team, and Methos, Wade, and the kids stood just inside the door of the room, drawn to the bay by some inexplicable force, watching as Casey ranted, and as Daniel sobbed in pain.
"Goddamn you, look! He has more compassion, more goodness in his little finger than you have in your entire freaking bodies! He could take you out with little effort!" she shrieked. "That's why you have to try to destroy him! Because he's better than you! He's more powerful than you! He's what you wish you could be! I hate you! I hate all of you! I hate you for what you've done to him! I hate you!"
"We've got to calm her down," Wade said worriedly. He feared that Casey was as close to the verge of a breakdown as his brother was.
"Why?" Jack asked, his own eyes filled with anger. "She's right." The gray haired man walked further into the room, to stand beside the hysterical young woman. He glance around. "She's right!" he shouted.
Sam and Teal'c joined him. "Look what you've done with your petty jealousies!" Sam shouted. "You're not even as good as we are!"
"Go'tak! You are ha'taaka!" Teal'c's booming voice called out.
Nicholas and Emily stood on either side of their mother. "Cowards! Can't even fight your own battles! You have to have us do it for you!" Nicholas shouted.
Wade sat down beside Daniel. Pulled the still weeping man into his arms. Knew that the blood on his own hands was what kept his older brother from pulling away. "Goddamn them," he hissed.
The room began to glow, light that seemed to appear from nowhere grew brighter and brighter. Casey was the first to put her hands to her ears, Nicholas and Emily following, their psychic abilities allowing them to hear…to feel the loud hum before their companions did. Within seconds everyone in the cargo bay was unconscious.
A A A A A A
Daniel opened his eyes. Felt the throb of a headache. He pressed his fingers against his forehead, waited for his Quickening to deal with the pain. When he was able, he sat up and looked around. Okay, this was interesting. Nice white room. White everywhere. He stood up. Turned in a complete circle. White room, totally alone. He reached out for her, could feel her…although the connection seemed…different. She was alive, and unharmed…but…'Casey?'
"Where I am? Who are you?"
He shook his head. He always hated waking up in a strange place, with no clue what the hell was going on. How…why would he be here? In an instant the weight of what he had done dropped on him, forced him to his knees. "Oh, god," he whispered.
He looked up. The Triad was standing in front of him. "First?"
The beautiful dark haired woman smiled, nodded. "It is an honor to observe you, to protect you."
Daniel shook his head. "It's no honor to be forced to watch a man kill as often as I have. To watch me take out a planet!"
First stepped forward. "You have done that which needed to be done. Look, Chosen, see what you have prevented."
An orb two feet across appeared beside her. Like a movie on fast forward, Daniel watched Penatil's fleet destroy city after city, watched as humans and non-humans alike were chained and forced into slavery. Watched the Kull warriors march into villages and towns, killing mindlessly, destroying everything in their path. Watched the Immortal men beheaded…the women enslaved and used, becoming nothing more than breeders…the children…he turned his head, unable to look at what was done to those tiny bodies.
"Do not believe that those who were in the path of destruction were victims," First said quietly.
Tear filled eyes turned to face the woman. "Ascension?"
First smiled. "They were Innocents, caught in the crossfire."
Suddenly the room was full of people. He recognized the children as being the ones beneath the roof he had held up with his power until they ran to safety. A door appeared in the wall beside him, and opened. He stood up, walked to that door, stepped out onto a balcony, looked down at a sea of faces. Nearly ten thousand people, he thought, his gaze moving from one side to the other of what seemed to be an arena. "These are the people…"
"They were…taken…before your Fire impacted," First said softly. She put a hand on his shoulder. "You have done well, Chosen. The future that could have been - the future that was never meant to be, the future put into motion by renegades - has been destroyed. The timeline has resumed as it should."
He looked at the people below him. "Maybe they didn't want to be Ascended," he pointed out bluntly, the pain he bore still gnawing at him.
Another smile from the woman beside him. "When you were offered Ascension, did you not understand that you would be offered the chance to help in a much different way?"
"Yeah," he replied dryly. "No interference. What good is that?"
A tiny giggle slipped from Second's lips. She tried to look contrite when First turned to glance at her. Second had always admired Daniel for his refusal to stand by and do nothing. She agreed that often there were times when…interference…was a good thing. Not that she would ever have the courage to do what The Chosen One had done. He had returned to the mortal realm. He was Immortal now, but still…she studied the man who was the Champion of the Innocent. The power that flowed through his veins was…awesome. She had heard the whispers of the Committee. Pride filled her when she realized that he was The Chosen One that had been foretold in the myths of the gods. He was the human who would hold even those powerful Beings to their own laws.
Daniel had glanced at the younger woman and smiled. Noted that her eyes had been filled with laughter, and then went wide with…surprise? Sure looked like surprise. And then…pride.
First's smile went wider. "I see that my young Companion has finally figured out who you are."
He frowned. "She didn't know that I'm The Chosen?"
"She knew. Just not that you are The Chosen One."
Now that made no sense at all! He started to ask what the difference was when the sound of a deep gong filled the air around them.
"You are being summoned," First said quietly. "It would be an honor if you would allow us to escort you."
"Since I have no clue where I am, or where I'm supposed to go, I'd be obliged if you would…escort me," Daniel replied.
He followed First back into the white room. Second, and the male, Third, walked close behind him. Every corridor was just as white as the last, and they had turned several times. How in the world did they know how to get anywhere, when it all looked the same? Another turn, and they were in a wide hallway, at the end of which was the biggest set of doors he had ever seen. Each one had to be ten feet across, and if they were shorter than sixty feet tall he'd eat his hat! As soon as they approached, the doors swung open slowly, silently.
He stepped into a room of colossal proportions. He couldn't even seen the ceiling, although light seemed to be coming from it. He assumed it was as white as the walls and floor. At the far end of the room, an easy two hundred feet, was a tall dais. On the dais was a long table, the front of which was solid…and white. Behind that table were thirteen men and women, dressed in white robes. They said nothing as First led him ever closer.
Suddenly the air was filled with Casey's angry shouts, the words that she had flung at those who sat in the room. The declarations of Daniel's goodness, their own cowardice and envy. Her hate.
It was impossible to keep the smile from his face as he listened. "You pissed her off."
Reactions flickered on each of the faces, several smiles, several frowns. Two men looked downright upset. "It was blasphemy!" one of the Beings said.
"You believe yourselves to be gods then?" he asked casually.
"In the eyes of mortals, our…abilities…would make us seem as gods," the Being replied.
"You are powerful, yes. Gods…no. You're the Committee," Daniel said. He examined each face.
"You doubted his brilliance?" a familiar voice asked.
Daniel turned to see his father-in-law standing off to one side, wearing a white robe just like those of the Committee. Apparently Aaron's appearance was somewhat of a surprise to those Beings. He could see them all shift uncomfortably.
Aaron walked across the room. "The Council of Elders sends their greetings."
Now the Committee members began to murmur. "They send a message as well?"
The smile that Aaron flashed was filled with derision. "No. They have faith that The Chosen One will impart any…admonishment…that might be needed."
His heart began to pound against his ribs. Casey…he needed Casey here to help him! He needed her abilities to give him insight to what these…Beings…were thinking…planning. With a cautious glance at the thirteen Beings, he turned toward the Ancient. "Can you get Casey here?" he whispered.
Aaron nodded. Held out his hand. Casey appeared beside him.
"Daniel!" When they had awakened on metal floor in the cargo bay, only Daniel was missing. She'd been searching frantically, had been unable to reach him, even though she could feel him. She raced into his open arms.
He crushed her against his chest. "I'm sorry, Angel, for hurting you," he whispered.
"You didn't hurt me," she whispered in reply. "I understood it was your pain talking, not you."
He pressed a kiss against her hair. She knew him well. He looked up at the Beings who looked down at them. Could see their unease. "That's right. Together we can't be defeated. I don't think you expected that, did you? You certainly didn't predict that the…power…that was given to give me would continue to grow. That Casey and I would become more powerful together than even you. I could take you all out…right here, right now." He raised his hand, astonished when every one of the Beings flinched. Three of the men and two of the women actually jumped to their feet. "I don't know what game you're playing. I don't know who keeps…inciting trouble…or do I?" he asked, staring hard at the man who sat in the very center. "First among the Ancients. Enough that those Beings suffered the greatest losses that they have ever endured. Now you've done the same thing among The Others. Why? Because you, as a group desire more control?"
Casey turned in his arms, her gaze moving over the Beings that were using Daniel's status as the Chosen for their own purposes. She cocked her head to one side. Reached out, moved quickly, gently. "They are afraid of you," she gasped. "That's why they've dared to interfere. To…plant ideas, desires. Simmons, Amisi, the other three Ancients who followed him, the five Others who just died, they were nothing more than pawns!"
Daniel's eyes narrowed as his stare bore into each of the Beings in turn. Not a sound was heard as his eyes met each of those of the Committee. Each of them lowered their eyes beneath his cold scrutiny. "You pretend to be gods, tell yourselves and each other how enlightened you are, but you orchestrate the deaths of Innocents by the thousands!" The Fire was burning, his anger fueling it. He raised his hand. Sent a blue fireball into the table that separated him from the Committee members. The white stone cracked, the table broke into two large pieces.
"Do you threaten us?" The Being…known as the Chairman, demanded.
"You bet I do!" Daniel hissed. "Hear this…if you ever cause the deaths of Innocents again, by your actions, your interference…there will be no Committee!"
"I do not believe you can reach us…" the woman who was speaking let her voice trail off when Aaron stepped just behind Daniel.
"The warning has been given. You would do well to heed it." The Ancient's voice was cold, and echoed eerily through the massive room. "The Chosen One has exposed you for the frauds that you are. Be warned that your…positions…are not permanent. A new Committee can be assembled in the blink of an eye."
Casey was standing, her arms crossed over her breasts. "I am so bummed."
Daniel couldn't help but chuckle. "Why?"
"These…these…Beings…are supposed to be above all of this! Enlightened! They're supposed to understand…supposed to know everything! They're no better than the politicians on Earth! Power-hungry, self-serving hypocrites. How…disappointing!" With a huff, she turned her back on the group. Only to whirl around again. "Let me tell you something. If you ever put Daniel through what you put him through today, there is nowhere in the universe, no plane of existence where you can hide from me!"
Aaron looked down, hid his smile behind his hand.
"You are nothing more than an Immortal seer," one of the women replied haughtily.
"I am the Heart of the Chosen," Casey hissed, understanding for the first time the power that the title bestowed on her. The responsibility that rested on her shoulders. Realized that she was more than just his wife, his lover, his friend; she gave him the strength to be able to do what he needed to do; just as he held the darkness away from her, she was the only thing that protected him from the Darkness that his power could unleash. She was his Heart. For just a few seconds she staggered mentally under the weight. As his Heart, she would protect him with every fiber of her being, every ounce of power she had. "And I'm more than just a seer!" She concentrated on the Being. Moved swiftly. "Pain," she hissed.
The woman cried out, pressing her hands to her head. Never before had she experienced pain. Excruciating sensations raced through her body. "Stop, please," she gasped.
"Casey, stop," Daniel said softly.
She looked at him, released the woman from her mental grasp. "Just making a point."
Daniel grinned. "I think they get it, Angel."
The thirteen Beings stood as one. "You are most powerful, Chosen One. Do not believe, however, that you are invincible," the Chairman said.
The young archaeologist looked at the Being. "I never believed that I was," he said softly. "I'm just a man trying to do what's right. Trying to help people when and where I can." He turned, put his arm around Casey's shoulders, and walked back toward those impressive doors. He nodded at First, and her companions. Felt more than saw them fall in step behind him and his wife.
"Even though Daniel doesn't see himself as The Chosen One, know that he is. And that he has…friends…on the Ninth Level." Aaron turned to follow his daughter and son-in-law.
The Beings known as the Committee settled back onto their seats, shaken that they had been found out. Knowing that the next time Aaron Desala appeared among them, their existence would end.
"We must admit our defeat," the Chairman sighed. "There will be no new Council of Elders. Never will the universe tremble from the words of the Thirteen."
"We are not yet defeated," one of the men said. "Penatil lives still."
Aaron stopped in the middle of the corridor. One of his 'gifts' was exceptional hearing. He glanced upward. Sent the message. Accepted the orders. Turned around and re-entered the room.
The Committee members jumped to their feet at the sight of the Ancient standing in the doorway. There wasn't even time to scream.
Thirteen Beings looked around, taking a moment to get their bearings. Settled into the chairs that sat behind a long, pristine white stone table.
"I am Aaron Desala," Aaron said, nodding at them. "I bring greetings from the Council of Elders."
The man sitting in the center chair nodded in return. "Greetings to you, Aaron Desala, and to the most revered Council of Elders. How may we, The Committee, be of service to you?"
The blonde man smiled. "The Chosen and His Chosen have battled greatly against evil. The Elders would like to see them given a time of…peace…if at all possible."
"I do not understand, Aaron Desala," the Chairman said, a frown creasing his forehead. "We cannot interfere in the affairs of other levels. We can only observe, and offer subtle guidance."
Aaron bowed slightly. "Yes, I understand. When your guidance is sought, you will give it to The Chosen One?"
"If he seeks, we shall offer."
"That is all the Elders ask."
"Then we agree."
Another nod, and the Ancient left the room. Now, if Daniel and Casey could stop Penatil, this mess would be over.
A A A A A A
Jack was pacing the bridge. Every few minutes he stopped and stared into the blackness of space. He had ordered Colonel Bradshaw to move the Prometheus away from the planet…the scorched surface was too difficult to look at, and he sure as hell didn't want Daniel seeing it when he returned from…wherever it was that he had been taken. Casey had disappeared thirty minutes later. So if they were together, they were all right.
A flash of light, and the two Jacksons were standing in front of the view window. "Hey, Jack," Daniel said, smiling slightly.
"Where the hell have you been?"
"Dealing with The Committee."
"Seems The Committee, the level above The Others, has been playing around," Daniel explained. "Simmons, the renegade Ancients, the renegade Others, a few Goa'uld, have been influenced by them."
"Isn't that against the rules?" Jack asked.
"Very much so."
"Hold me," she whispered.
Daniel wrapped his arms around her, met her in that sunny meadow.
"Something just happened…something…big. I…felt it," she whispered.
"Like…like a ripple…no…larger than that. I can't explain it," she sighed.
He kissed the tip of her nose. "That's okay, Angel. Take a look."
She nodded, reached out…listened…there was so much…excitement? No…surprise…shock…yep, definitely shock…almost…it was almost as if the entire universe had been caught unaware. She continued to concentrate on the waves of emotion that seemed to flow in every direction. "I don't know what happened, but something did…" she shrugged.
"Any danger to us?"
Daniel closed his eyes. "It's my fault," he whispered. "What I did-"
"Was necessary, Daniel. And not your fault. You had to change the path that we…that our timeline…was on." She wrapped her hands around his face. Locked her eyes with his. "You are The Chosen One, Daniel. You're in the middle of a war that you didn't start. A war that you have to fight, for all of us. War is hell, Beloved. It's also quite unfair."
He pulled her close, buried his face against her neck. "Help me, Casey," he whispered.
"I'm right here, Daniel. Tell me what you need, what you want me to do," she whispered in return.
"Forgive me," he replied, his voice breaking.
Her heart ached at the pain that filled his voice. "Oh, god, Daniel! There's nothing to forgive! I love you, Daniel, so very much! Thank you for saving my babies...for keeping them from living through hell on earth. Thank you for protecting me from Penatil. Thank you for keeping us safe, keeping our family together. Nothing to forgive, my heart, nothing to forgive," she repeated, running her hands over his shoulders.
He wrapped her words, her love, around his aching heart. "Thanks, babe."
He straightened up, smiled when she reached up and wiped the tears from his cheeks. Reached out and wiped hers from her soft skin. "I love you."
"I love you."
"Let's get back."
She nodded…held his hand until he was too far away to maintain the contact. Sent her love as he disappeared.
"Well?" Jack asked.
"Something is going on…but…I don't think it involves us," Casey replied.
"Well, I have some bad news," the older man told them.
"Don't say it, " Casey moaned.
"Sorry, Case. One ha'tak made it out. Penatil followed the valley those villages were in until he cleared the mountains. He was trying to sneak out. I guess he was afraid Jordan would blow him out of the sky."
"Don't know about Jordan, but we would have," Colonel Bradshaw muttered.
"Okay, campers, the good news is, he has one ha'tak, a couple of al'kesh. A few Jaffa. And the information we were after is secured," Jack said. "Let's head home, kids."
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