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Another One Bites the Dust

Chapter 7

SG-1 and the MacLeods were picnicking at the lake. Sam, Tessa, and Casey were in the water with all five of the children. The babies were in flotation rings, laughing and squealing their absolute delight. Emily and Evelyn, wearing flotation bands on their little arms, were splashing with abandon. Carly was in the water with them, taking pictures, a request of Tessa's.

The men were lounging on a blanket, still picking at the remains of the food. "Casey sure makes good potato salad," Jack said, scraping the last of it from the bowl and putting it into his mouth.

"Yep," Daniel replied. He was reaching for one of the last chocolate chip cookies. He wasn't sure who had baked them. All he knew was that they were good.

Duncan laid back, his hands behind his head. "Now this is what it's all about," he said softly.

"Yep," Daniel said again.

Teal'c shifted his massive frame until he was sitting upright again. "I need to speak with you."

All three men were instantly alert.

"What's up, T?" Jack asked.

"Carlotta has consented to marry me."

"Teal'c, that's great!" Daniel said, smiling at his large friend.

"Indeed it is, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c replied, a wide smile on his face. "She has informed me that she does not wish to have a large ceremony. Instead, she wishes only…family…and a few close friends to attend."

"Okay, sounds doable," Duncan said.

"She wishes to have the ceremony on PX3 695."

Three men exchanged glances and knowing smiles. "She wants to perform the Ceremony of Fire as well?" Duncan asked.

"She does."

"Hoo boy. A Jaffa burning with the Fire. This should be interesting," Jack said.

"This is what I wish to speak to you about. Do you believe that I will be able to participate in this ceremony, without causing harm to Carlotta or myself?"

"Teal'c, you're Immortal, so yeah, you'll be able to have the ceremony. As for surviving…well, we all did…barely, but we did," Daniel grinned.

"I fear that I may become…overly enthusiastic…and harm her."

Both Jack and Duncan tried desperately to hide snickers behind their hands.

"It's really considerate of you to worry about this, Teal'c. Carly is going to be as…enthusiastic…as you will be during the ceremony. Do you…uh…get…enthusiastic…now?" Daniel asked.

"There are times when Carlotta…tests my endurance. During those times I become-" the Jaffa broke off.

"Out of control?" Daniel offered quietly.

"Indeed."

"But you've never hurt her?"

"No. She…she seems to quite enjoy the…activity."

Jack was about to lose the battle to keep from laughing out loud. Duncan's shoulders were shaking.

"Then I don't think you have anything to worry about, Teal'c. It will be an amazing experience for both of you. One you'll treasure for the rest of your life," Daniel said sincerely. He could still remember clearly the way Casey had felt in his arms, beneath him, when they made love among the flames on that stone altar.

"Thank you, Daniel Jackson."

"Anytime, Teal'c. That's what friends are for." Daniel frowned in disapproval at his laughing companions, before he gave in and grinned from ear to ear as well.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

"I have agreed to marry Teal'c," the Spanish woman said quietly as the women kept constant vigil over the playing children.

"Carly, that is so great!" Casey exclaimed, her hand on the ring in which Nicholas floated happily.

"Congratulations, Carly," Tessa smiled. Like Casey and Sam, she had her hand on the plastic, air-filled ring that her baby was sitting in.

"Yes, congratulations, Carly," Sam said. She glanced at the men. She would bet that right now they were having the same discussion. Although it looked like Jack and Duncan were trying hard not to laugh out loud over something.

"Thank you. I wish to have just a small ceremony. On the planet of the Immortals."

Three glances were exchanged. "Gonna do the Ceremony of Fire, too, huh?" Casey asked.

"It has taken over seven hundred years, and he's not even from Earth, but at last I have found a man I am willing to pledge myself to, for eternity," the older Immortal said. Her eyes were sparkling with happiness.

"That's wonderful, Carly," Tessa said. "We're all very happy for you."

"Just let us know if you need help with anything," Sam said.

"Absolutely," Case agreed. "Any idea on when?"

"Not specifically. I was thinking of doing it around Halloween."

"Any particular reason?" Sam asked.

Carly smiled. "My birthday is the eighth of October. I figured it would be easier for him to remember both my birthday and our anniversary if they were in the same month."

The women burst into giggles, drawing curious looks from their husbands. "Now that is the smartest thing I've heard," Sam said, still giggling.

"I'm not going to complain," Casey said, smiling. "Daniel remembers both."

"That is because you are married to Daniel," Tessa teased. "Although I must admit that Duncan has never forgotten either date."

"Well, Jack hasn't either. But we've only been married eight years. I figure it will happen."

"Speaking of anniversaries, unless something changes, Duncan has promised that we'll be home the week of Nicholas' birthday. So we're going to do our anniversary barbecue the Saturday after, and just family for his birthday," Casey said.

The women nodded. "Do you think you will have caught this Nergal by then?" Tessa asked.

Casey and Sam exchanged glances. "I certainly hope so, Tess," Casey said softly.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Duncan looked around at the faces that stared back at him. "I know. I don't want to believe it either," he said.

"How in the hell did he get there so fast?" Jack demanded to know.

"I don't know, Jack. All I know is that Nergal managed to get to Ashnan's home planet, and took control. He has three ships now. He'll go after Laurel first, because she has two planets that provide naquadah."

"And because of the treaty, we can't go in and start a rebellion against her on those planets," Daniel said.

"Exactly."

"So far he hasn't moved, but it's a fair bet that he will soon," Duncan said, reading from the same report that sat in front of all of them.

"If we could get our ships there…before he leaves…and stop him cold…" Jack mused out loud.

"Casey, talk to me, honey," Duncan said.

With a nod, she closed her eyes, reached out…searching…listening. "He's confident that he's going to be able to wipe out all of the other System Lords and take over what they own. He's…he's planning a celebration. He has…oh, god…he's rebuilding his harem…all of them very young."

"I am going to cut that twisted bastard's dick off," Jack muttered darkly.

"Stand in line," Daniel said, his voice cold for just a few seconds.

Jack looked at the young man, nodded in acknowledgement.

"What else, Case?" Duncan asked.

"If we can hit him just before this celebration of his, we have a chance of knocking him out. If we can concentrate our fire on the palace, that should keep casualties among the innocent down," she replied.

"Any idea when?"

"The best time would be the next…twenty-four hours. He's sending most of the servants and slaves out to gather the food, wine, and other things needed for the celebration. As for the girls in that harem…we'd be doing them a favor to just…end it…for them," she said softly.

Daniel shook his head. "I disagree. We should try to rescue as many as we can. We've been in that palace before, Tony knows it fairly well. We beam in, grab the girls, beam out, then bomb the hell out of the place."

Duncan nodded. "Okay, sounds good. The only Marine team I have right now is Two. Obviously you're going to need Sabotti, so SG-6 goes with you. Let's get the bastard this time," Duncan said softly.

Casey stared at her hands. She was aware that very few of the girls they might be able to rescue would ever recover. Even those who did would carry the scars on their souls, scars so deep, so horrible that it was doubtful that any of them would ever be able to have any type of relationship with a man. She understood Daniel's need to try. That was just…Daniel. She just hoped that the rescue attempt wouldn't endanger any of them.

Once again SG-1 ringed to the Persephone. Sam was with them, it had been decided that Hathor had been 'captured', and the Goa'uld killed. Casey had suggested that it needed to happen before any of the other System Lords became any more suspicious than they already were.

Bra'tac was in command of the Hak'tyl. There were well over one hundred new, free Jaffa on board, some of them Ashnan's, several dozen of them had served Nergal.

Methos was still accepted as a System Lord, and Laurel was willing to do whatever he asked… for now. He had no delusions that she wouldn't turn on him as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

Duncan had decided that as soon as Nergal was defeated, the Tau'ri would declare the treaty null and void by consequence of completion. They would then concentrate on Penatil, who was the next strongest. Methos would destroy Laurel's palace as soon as the word of the end of the treaty went out. No need to take the chance that somehow she could rebuild her fleet, and her army of Jaffa.

Sam had been able to figure out how to reprogram the holo-projector they had found on P3X 723, the tropical paradise where they had destroyed Nergal's temple. It was projecting a 3-D image of Ashnan's - Nergal's palace. With information from the Jaffa who had defected from her ranks, they knew what most of the rooms were for. They were having to guess on where Nergal would keep the women of his harem. The Jaffa who had turned against him insisted that it would be nearby, he did not like to wait when he had summoned one of the women.

"We're assuming that he'll take over Ashnan's chambers as his own," Daniel said, pointing to a group of rooms. "So the girls are in one of these three rooms." Again he pointed. "We're going native, so that we'll look like servants, and with luck no one will take a closer look. We only need to get into the room where the girls are. When we do, depending on how many there are, we take one or two each, and beam out. There will be exactly seven seconds between each beam."

"Now, we want to do this as quickly as possible, according to what Casey tells us, within twenty-four hours the palace will be nearly empty. We don't dare go in then," Jack said. "Once we have the girls out, we wait until scans show that everyone has cleared out doing the snake's bidding, and we level it. Information given to us by his Jaffa says that he won't leave his quarters while the celebration is being planned and prepared for. He'll be there, and we're going to get the bastard."

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The Persephone was cloaked, and sensors showed that neither the ha'tak…the pyramid ship that served as Nergal's flagship…nor the two al'kesh ships were aware of its presence. After further discussions with the now free Jaffa, it had been decided that it would be best to go in just before dawn. It wouldn't be unusual to see servants in the hallways of the palace that early, but chances were lower that they would run into anyone who would raise the alarm.

Dressed in the clothes of slaves and servants, their zat guns, radios and locating beacons their only gear, the two SG teams and the Marines beamed into a hallway scanned and found to be empty. Nergal once again had a dampening field, several of the rooms were completely 'unreadable'. It was exasperating, but there was nothing that could be done about it.

Quietly splitting into their three separate units, they checked the rooms where the girls were believed to be. All of the rooms were empty. They were sure that Nergal would keep his harem nearby, so a quick conference on the matter, and they were checking each room they came to. On the off chance that they were on another floor, Jack sent SG-6 up one level, and the Marines down one.

The palace was large, and Jack signaled that they should all check a room. Casey had just given a cursory glance around one of the elegantly furnished rooms, and was ready to leave when she heard a noise behind her. She turned slowly, looked into terrified gray eyes. She put her finger to her lips, and smiled at the young woman. She held out her hand, and slowly, the shaking fingers of the young woman were wrapped around hers.

"Are there others?" Casey asked in a whisper.

The dark head moved up and down.

"Where?"

A shrug.

'Daniel, I've found one, but I don’t have any idea where the others are, and evidently she doesn't either.'

'Okay, babe. Take her on up to the Persephone.'

Before she could answer, a feeling, black and cold and terrifying filled her. 'Daniel! We have to leave! Now!'

She heard Daniel relay her message to Jack through the radio earpiece that was in her ear. She heard Jack order the Marines and SG-6 to get out. As soon as each group was beamed up, a signal was sent out to let them know that the next group could signal for return to the ship.

"Casey, get ready," Jack's voice whispered in her ear. The gray haired man frowned when she didn't respond. "Casey?"

Daniel was already running down the corridor to the room he had seen her enter, his heart pounding with fear.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

It was the young woman's eyes that alerted her to the presence behind her. She tightened her grasp on the zat gun in her hand, then whirled to face him.

"Casey. I am so happy to see you." His smile was…warm…friendly…absolutely demented.

She would never know why she hesitated, her hand was already up, the weapon aimed at the Goa'uld. That second of hesitation allowed him to fire his own zat'nik'tel at her. He was still smiling down at her as unconsciousness closed around her.

Daniel burst into the room, saw his Wife on the floor and began firing. Nergal managed to duck through a door at the side of the room. He scooped Casey into his arms, grabbed the young girl the best he could, and gave the signal. Seven agonizing seconds later, he was back on the Persephone. Jack, Teal'c and Sam were the last to return.

He had one of the lieutenants waiting in the cargo bay take the young woman to the infirmary; he took Casey to their quarters, expecting to feel the ship being hit by weapons fire at any moment. Colonel Bradshaw had suggested that they remain exactly where they were, in case the Goa'uld ships were looking for any type of distortion that would signify movement of a cloaked ship.

"If they look hard enough, they will be able to see a bit of distortion where we are. But movement accentuates that distortion, makes it a bit easier to find," the colonel had explained.

"Nergal may believe he's dealing with Asgard, since we were using Asgard beaming technology," Sam said.

"Yeah, no way would he want to tangle with them right now," Jack replied, somewhat hopefully.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The doctor in the infirmary was caring for the young woman. She hadn't spoken, her eyes were wide and full of fear, but she hadn't fought him. When Casey woke up a few minutes after the return to the ship, she and Daniel went down to check on their guest. They walked in, hand in hand.

"How is she?" Casey asked softly.

"Other than a few bruises, she seems to be all right. I haven't performed a full physical on her yet," the doctor replied.

"Hold off on that, for a little while at least," Casey said. "She's been traumatized enough."

She went into the small wardroom where the young woman was laying on the narrow bed. Daniel was beside her, he smiled down at the terrified young brunette. Casey gently pushed a stray lock of hair from the girl's cheek. "It's all right. We won't hurt you," she said softly.

The gray eyes went from Casey, to Daniel, and back again. She gave a tiny whimper, then slid from the bed to her feet. She looked at Casey again, and when the beautiful blonde smiled at her, she knelt down in front of Daniel, reached for the zipper of his pants.

"Whoa!" Daniel exclaimed, jumping backwards.

"Oh, god!" Casey moaned. She knelt down beside the young woman, took trembling hands into her own slender ones. "No, that's all over. You never have to do that again, I promise."

Tears filled those haunted eyes. She shook her head. "Whore," she whispered, and once again crawled toward Daniel, reaching for his pants.

Casey grabbed her arm. "No! Not a whore! Never a whore! You were hurt, it's not your fault!"

The young girl sat back on her heels, wrapped her arms around her thin waist, and began to whimper softly, trying desperately to hold back the tears that slid down her pale cheeks. She pulled off the surgical gown that had been put on her, leaving her thin, bruised body naked, and trembling with fear and cold. Once again she looked at Daniel. She laid back on the metal floor, spread her legs and closed her eyes.

"Oh, god," he whispered, averting his eyes from the body now on display.

"Daniel, leave," Casey said softly. "I'll see if I can get through to her." He nodded, and gladly backed out of the door. He closed the hatch gently behind him.

"What's your name?"

The young woman opened her eyes, looked around, surprise registering on her face to see that the man had left.

"It's all right, honey. I won't hurt you. Nobody here is going to hurt you. I'm Casey."

The brunette pulled herself into as small of a ball as she could. Casey pulled the blanket from the bed and gently wrapped it around her, tucking it under her as much as she could.

"Hush, little baby, don't say a word, Mama's going to buy you a mockingbird," Casey sang softly. She looked up, noticed that the camera to the room was on. She began to gently run her hand up and down the girl's back. "And if that mockingbird don't sing, Mama's going to buy you a golden ring. And if that golden ring turns brass, Mama's going to buy you a looking glass. And if that looking glass gets broke, Mama's going to buy you a billy goat. And if that billy goat won't pull, Mama's going to buy you a cart and bull. And if that cart and bull turn over, Mama's going to buy you a dog named Rover. And if that dog named Rover won't bark, Mama's going to buy you a horse and cart. And if that horse and cart fall down, you'll still be the sweetest little baby in town."

She sang the song twice through. By the end of the second round, the young girl was asleep. She opened the hatch, found Daniel waiting, and had him pick the girl up and carefully put her back into the bed.

"I don't know that we'll make much progress with her," Dr. Warnke said softly, sadness in his voice. "She's young, and from what I've heard about this particular Goa'uld, he delights in torture, and breaking minds."

"Is there any hope at all?" Daniel asked, his eyes on the monitor screen that showed the young woman still asleep on the bed, lying just the way he had placed her.

The older man ran a hand over his face. "There's always hope, Doctor Jackson. Sometimes there's just more hope than at others. I rather imagine this young woman will spend the rest of her life in the nearly catatonic state she seems to be in now. She has been taught, brutally, that she is good for one thing. The sexual gratification of a man. From her reaction to you, I believe that this - Nergal - has allowed other men…access…to her."

"It's possible that she's one of the few that are used by his Jaffa," Casey said softly, a shiver going down her spine. Another thought came to her, cold and dark and absolutely horrifying. "Take a blood sample."

Daniel knew immediately what she was thinking. His own heart lurched in his chest. He stared at the monitor for a minute. Was this what Casey would have become, had a cure to the nanovirus that she had been infected with not been found? He shivered, unconsciously reaching for her, pulling her close, holding her tightly against his side.

Dr. Warnke was able to draw a sample of blood without waking the young girl. It didn’t take him but a few minutes to confirm Casey's suspicions. The test revealed very few blood cells remained, they had been completely replaced by the nanobots.

"Unlinkil had antidotes," Daniel said. "Maybe he still has some."

Casey shook her head. "He told me that there is a very small window of time when the antidote can be administered and remain effective. Chances are it's too late." She turned her head as tears welled up in her eyes and spilled onto her cheeks.

Daniel pulled her into his embrace, held her tightly. He didn't know what to say, and knew in his heart that words weren't necessary, would change nothing.

Jack and Sam walked into the infirmary, Teal'c immediately behind them. "I take it that things aren't good," Jack said, looking at the faces of the doctor and the two members of his team.

"No, they aren't," Daniel said softly. "Nanovirus. She's…she's…"

"She's what Sam and I would have become had we not been cured," Casey said softly.

"Oh, god," Sam whispered, her cheeks paling. She grabbed for Jack's arm. He pulled her close to his side, his own face pale.

Dr. Warnke played back the tape of what had transpired in the room when Casey and Daniel had tried to talk to the girl.

"I want that son-of-a-bitch dead," Daniel said, his voice full of anger.

"Surely he doesn't do this to all of the women in his harem," Sam said, still shaking from what she had seen.

"It's hard telling what all he does to them. The ones I saw immediately responded to his order for them to 'submit'. They seemed…okay…but then, neither of them said a word either," Casey said.

Jack's jaw was working. "Say the word, Case, and we level that damned palace down there, with that bastard in it!"

She reached out, searched…listened…the palace seemed…empty. She looked around, she could feel him…recoiled from the evil. "Do it. Do it now," she said, her voice as angry as Daniel's had been.


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