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Between Two Evils
Toren paced his quarters. He kept reaching out, hoping to find her, feel her. She had come to warn him, to tell him that the leaders of her world were desperately trying to gather resources to fight him. That they had hoped that Dagon would attack him, thus delaying him, at least for awhile. To have done so could mean only one thing: she cared for him. He had seen the attraction in her eyes, felt the connection in her kiss.
So beautiful, he thought, his memory conjuring up her image. Her eyes were captivating, bewitching. So green, so full of emotion. She was slender, yet had soft curves that set his body on fire for her. He licked his lips in the anticipation of discovering all the secrets of that beautiful body. She would serve him, her abilities as a seer combined with his own would rid him of the need of that old hag. He had left that woman behind; her constant hovering irritated him. She had been furious when she had learned that she would not be accompanying him to destroy Gamma, declaring that as his seer and prophetess, she should be at his side. It had taken the threat of death to silence her. When Casey was at his side, he would send word, and the hag would be dealt with. The old woman would bother him no more. Then, with Casey as his Consort, together they would rule the universe.
Waiting in her quarters in his palace, she hissed in anger. So, the young upstart thought he would be rid of her so easily, did he? In her fury, she yanked on the hooks she had placed in his mind, his howl of pain doing little to appease her. She took a deep breath. Forced herself to calm down, released him, 'watched' as he fell to the floor, unconscious. Soon she would have The Chosen within her grasp. She would take the body of that little witch. And perhaps, just perhaps, she would allow The Chosen to live, just to please her. And to make Toren writhe with jealousy.
Aaron moved silently. So that was the bitch's plan. He had already learned of her experiments, her plan to move into the body of his daughter. You always were a spiteful woman, Amisi, he thought. He reached out just a bit farther. Yes, they were watching, listening. Would they stop him? He opened his eyes.
"Peepaw, what you is doing?" Emily asked, watching him carefully.
He smiled. He could sense the power in his granddaughter. It wasn't as strong as what her mother possessed. Most likely because her father was a mere Immortal. But she would have the gift of sight nonetheless. "Resting my eyes."
"Because they were tired."
He laughed. "I should call you the little 'why' bird! That is all that you do, ask why!"
She crossed her arms over her little chest, cocked her head to one side, in a fair imitation of her mother, and studied him. "Mrs. Waters said that questions is good!"
He picked the little girl up, held her tightly. Wondered for just a few minutes if Casey would have been as delightfully entertaining. Felt and fought that flare of anger that happened every time he thought about being robbed of the joy of raising his daughter, that anger intensified knowing what his child had suffered as a result of being taken from him. "Yes, my Little Why Bird, questions are good."
"Peepaw, is my Mommy and Daddy okay?"
The question startled him. "Why do you ask me?"
"Because you knows when they're okay."
How in the name of all creation did she know that? He frowned slightly, then gently reached toward her. Smiled at what he discovered. She had the gift of sight. It was, as was usually the case in children, 'dormant' right now. She was indeed bright…gifted is what Casey had said the teacher called her. And damned precocious. "What makes you think I know these things?"
"Meemaw says you're 'portant on the Immortal Cown'sel, and that you knows everything that goes on around here." Emily replied simply, echoing what she had overheard her grandmother telling Amanda Seeney.
Aaron roared with laughter. "As far as I know, Little Why Bird, you're parents are just fine."
With a nod, Emily settled against his chest. She knew this man, who had been in her life as long as she could remember, trusted him as much as she did her beloved Daddy. "Peepaw, when I grows up, can I fight all the nasty snakes too?"
"Yes, Emily. When you grow up, you'll help fight all the nasty snakes. If your Mommy and Daddy haven't defeated them all by then." He needed to leave. There were things that needed to be done. In order to make sure that this precious little girl in his arms remained safe. He planted a kiss on her forehead. "Let me up, Emmie. Peepaw needs to go do some of that important council work."
Emily hugged the man, gave him a wet 'zerbert' kiss on the cheek, then climbed off of him. She ran toward the kitchen, where the sounds of Erin preparing lunch could be heard.
Aaron followed her at a much slower pace. He had told Erin what was transpiring. She had already surmised most of what she learned. The smile that covered his face when she smiled up at him was automatic. How could he not, when he looked into those eyes, saw that smile?
"You must leave," she said simply.
He nodded. "It must be done."
She sighed. "It grieves me to think that an Ancient would succumb to such base temptations."
"They are not so far from their human beginnings," Aaron reminded her. "And those temptations haunt all beings, my love."
"If…if she were allowed to live…you say that she is old, weakened…perhaps…"
"She is a threat to…she is a threat," he said, barely catching himself in time. Emily might look as if she weren't listening, but he knew that she was. The child missed little of what went on around her, something that they had learned from experience.
"I understand. Please, try to be home for dinner," Erin said softly.
He smiled again. Her subtle way of telling him to be careful. "There is no way I will miss your pot roast," he told her. He kissed her cheek, let his hand run over the curve of her hip. To touch her any more would start the Fire burning, in both of them. "Come give Peepaw a hug goodbye," he said to Emily. She skipped into his arms and hugged him tightly. Nicholas, who had been playing nearby, hugged his grandfather as well.
Aaron drove to the municipal building that housed the mayor's office, and all of the other offices that pertained to the running of the city. He and Oma had a suite of rooms that served as the office for the Immortal Council. Each of the Council members had their own small office off the larger waiting/reception room. Through glass windows at the end of the reception area the conference room could be seen. There was a receptionist on duty during the normal working hours of the building. She was an Immortal, almost three thousand years old. She was accustomed to having the Ancients come and go, never keeping 'regular' hours. She smiled up at him, noticed the look of determination in his eyes, even as he returned the smile.
He walked into his office, closed the door, signifying that he was not to be disturbed. He was sure that there would be repercussions among the Ancients. Most of them would deduce who…or at least what…he was, as soon as he left this room. He smiled grimly. There was nothing that they could do. He and Erin had chosen to retake corporeal form. That he could still move about at will was something that the Ancient Council of Elders couldn't stop. Nor could they take action against his wife, which had been his biggest concern. Now that she was safely out of their reach, he didn't care what they did. Their Immortality could not be taken from them. The most that they could do would be to complain. And, he could stop that with a simple visit to point out that the entire situation was of their own making, from the lack of response when action should have been taken. He took a deep breath, and closed his eyes.
A A A A A A
Amisi screamed with fright when the man appeared in her chambers. Both hands went to her chest, fighting the sudden pain that flared. Her breath came in short gasps. She stared at him, recognition filtering through the shock of his arrival. "I know you!" she hissed.
"I'm sure you do. Or at least, you think you do," Aaron replied calmly.
"Why have you come here?"
"You were warned not to interfere with The Chosen, or His Chosen, or any of their friends."
She smiled haughtily at him. "And I have not. I have done nothing for which you can find me guilty."
"You have done much. You have placed controls in the mind of the host of Toren so that you could manipulate him into doing as you wished. You have enslaved dozens of young girls, twisting their minds with the drugs that you have created, sold them to Dagon, for the same purpose. Then you sent both Goa'uld in search of The Chosen. How you must have rejoiced when Dagon's new host turned out to know The Chosen personally!" Aaron said. His voice was cold and angry.
The old woman backed away slowly, her eyes wide. Not even the Ancients who continued to watch her could have known all of this. She had been very careful in how and what she had said out loud, both to Toren, and to Dagon. She had taken great pains when she had entered their minds, making certain that her 'watchers' were not nearby. "Who are you?" she asked hoarsely.
"I am Aaron Desala, of the Ninth Level."
Her knees buckled. "No! It cannot be!"
His eyes hard, he allowed her to see what he looked like in his natural form, the blinding light bleaching every color out of the room. Unlike the Ascended, or The Others, or even the Beings of Light, the illumination of his natural form was like that of a small sun.
She threw her hands up to cover her face, protect her eyes. Even the few seconds of exposure to him had left her with small burns. "What do you want?"
"You already know the answer to that," he replied, back in his human form once again. Amazing that after such a short amount of time, he felt more comfortable this way. Perhaps the happiness he had found in this form made a difference. A thought that he had no time at the moment to contemplate.
Trembling, the woman pulled herself to her feet. She held her chin up defiantly. "We would have offered the Ancients a better path."
"You would have sent them down the path of the Fallen. And that of the Goa'uld. The Council was aware of this. They hoped, in vain, that Simmons, and you, and the others, would see the error of your ways before going as far as you did. The purge is complete. Those who thought as you have been stripped of any powers that would have rendered them a danger to the Innocent."
"Innocent! How Innocent can they be to wage war on one another as they do?"
"Did you not wage war on the other Ancients?"
She lowered her eyes. "We only wished to offer humans a better way of life."
"No. You wished them to worship you. To treat you as the gods you believed you were. Even knowing what you know, you chose to follow the path to destruction. You were given a chance to redeem yourself, living as a mortal human. You squandered that chance on your quest for vengeance against The Chosen. Did you know that he is my son-in-law?" he asked, the question nothing more than idle curiosity.
Her eyes went wide. If he was…then that meant…
"Yes. The woman you schemed to take over, or at least steal the body of, is my daughter." His voice was as cold as his blue eyes. He watched her shiver.
"So you will strike me down." Her voice was emotionless. She tried to reach out, tried to move into his mind. She knew that her chances of success were small, but even a small chance was better than doing nothing at all to stop her death. For if she could survive, could carry out her plan, she would be Immortal once again. Her body was slammed against the wall when he felt her try to move near him.
"You would dare to touch me?" His power held her against the wall, her feet dangling eight inches above the floor.
"I had to try," she managed to gasp. The force with which she had hit the wall knocked the air from her lungs, had certainly broken a rib or two. Her aging, decrepit body could not withstand such abuse. The pain was excruciating.
"You arrogant bitch!" He tightened his grasp.
"You will suffer retribution for this!" she wheezed, feeling as if a large hand was wrapped around her throat.
"You're also a fool. Who do you think enforces Their directives?"
Once again her eyes went wide. She had heard whispers of the one who moved silently in the dark, striking down those who had been sentenced to death by the Committee. The last thing her cloudy eyes saw was the angry face of the man who was her executioner. Her body slid to the floor, lay like a crumpled, broken doll.
Aaron sagged, lowered himself to sit on the bed near the wall. Always it was this way. The anger, which allowed him to do what must be done. Stronger this time, because of the danger to his own child, his beloved daughter. Then the remorse, the guilt for the taking of a life. He closed his eyes. The woman had been warned. She had been given a chance to repent. She had refused, had proceeded to do exactly what she had been warned not to do. She had sealed her own fate. He waited. Smiled when he felt it. Approval. Gratitude. Forgiveness. He wiped his hands over his face. And returned to the small office on Gamma.
A A A A A A
The Persephone moved toward Toren's ships. It was cloaked, and would remain so as long as possible. Three teams waited in the ring transport room. Casey toyed with the strap of her P90.
"Do you think we should go to one of the other ships?" Jack asked softly.
She shook her head. "He'll know I'm there, no matter what ship I'm on," she replied. "I'd rather face him, maybe…" she paused, looked over at Daniel. He was watching her, his blue eyes filled with concern…and love. She smiled. "Maybe The Chosen will get the chance to take him out."
Jack grinned. "Now that would just make my day!" He moved toward one side of the room. The quiet murmur of multiple conversations ceased as the teams focused their attention on him. "Okay, this is the same routine as last time. We beam into the engine rooms, plant the C-4, then get the hell out. We need to hide the stuff better, and I want more planted. Also, we're using larger grenades for dropping into the engine well itself. We have no idea if Toren has shields around his engines or not, we're assuming that he does. So, on that note, I'll turn this over to Lieutenant Colonel Carter-O'Neill."
"Since we won't have time to try an isolate the program for any shields that might be around the engines, we're going to hack into the ship's computer system, and try to get all shields to drop," Sam said, moving to stand beside her husband. "Then we'll plant a virus that will prevent them from regaining control of the computers for at least thirty minutes. Given that we'll be setting the charges for five minutes, that should keep the shields down. One person will need to work the computer while the others plant the charges and keep watch. Craig, you'll do the computer work for your team, Charles, you'll do the work for your team." She handed the crystals to the young Immortal men.
"Okay, Case, take a look and tell us what we're up against," Jack said quietly.
She slipped trembling fingers against his strong, warm, slender ones. Felt them close around her hand and squeeze gently, reassuringly.
'I'm here, Angel. I'll be right here the entire time.'
Clinging to him in the meadow, she moved slowly, making sure that she could feel Daniel's reassuring presence beside her. She pulled into herself, hoping that Toren wouldn't sense her. She glanced in as she moved by the pel'tak. He wasn't there. He was lying on his bed in his quarters. She looked around again. There were the expected number of guards around the ship. She was moving away when she felt him. He was reaching out, looking for her. She froze, hoping that he was unable to sense her. She felt Daniel pull her closer.
'Slow, Angel. Back away nice and slow.'
She obeyed, moving with painstaking precision. When she felt that she was far enough away, she fled back to the meadow.
Her body was trembling so hard that he dared not let go of her. 'It's okay, Angel. Let's tell Jack what you saw, and get rid of this bastard,' he said softly.
'Please, don't let him near me!'
'I won't, Angel. I promise.'
She opened her eyes. Looked up into incredible blue eyes full of love. She put one hand on his cheek, leaned up and kissed him gently. "Thank you," she whispered.
Daniel held her hand against his face, turned and kissed her palm. "You're welcome," he whispered in reply.
Jack cleared his throat.
"Standard guard formation," she said, grinning.
"Okay, let's do this," Jack said.
A A A A A A
The team beamed directly to the engine room. Amazing that they all looked identical, she thought, somewhat amused. Must be the same blue prints. That thought almost made her giggle. She pulled three C-4 bricks from her vest pockets, hurried to the columns that contained the crystal circuitry, put one brick on each. The detonator was carefully pushed into the putty-like explosive, and the timer set.
The clanking of Jaffa armor warned them of an approaching patrol. The team hid in the shadows of the room.
Toren walked in, looked around. "I know you are here, My Sweet One. I can sense you. If you do not come to me, I will destroy them. I will force you to watch me kill him, slowly."
She stepped into the light. Frowned slightly. Where was that annoying attraction? "I don't think so."
'Casey! What the in the hell are you doing?'
'Kill him, Daniel!'
Daniel grinned. Raised his hand, began to pull the Fire into his fingertips. Stumbled out of his hiding place when the ship rocked around them.
"What the hell was that?" Casey asked her eyes wide.
The Goa'uld's gray eyes narrowed. "You will come with me, or I will kill him now!"
"Go for it. Knock yourself out," Casey replied.
Before Toren could lift his hand to use the ribbon device, Daniel hurled a fireball toward him. Both men were moving, and the blue flames only hit the Goa'uld's shoulder. The Jaffa watched in horror…the man had no need of a device on his hand in order to send flames from his fingers! Their fear of bringing the attention and wrath of this powerful Tau'ri down upon themselves caused them to hesitate to come to the aid of their god. Who was suddenly appearing much less god-like.
Casey managed to work her way back toward the computer. She knew very little about the thing, but she knew enough to know that inserting the data crystal would take care of infecting the computer. She closed her fingers around it, left there accidentally when Sam had scrambled to the safety of a hiding place. She managed to slip it into the opening. She jammed it tightly into place, hoped that not only would the data corrupt the computers, taking out the shields that protected the ship, but also that the crystal could not be removed.
"Jaffa, kree! Akek ya daru!" Toren growled, cradling the arm below his wounded shoulder. [Take them!]
The Jaffa hesitated for just a few seconds.
"Jaffa, hear me! Toren is a false god! You have seen for yourself that he has not the power of this Tau'ri! Join with me, with the Shakka! Be free of the tyranny of the Goa'uld!" Teal'c called out, stepping out from his hiding place.
Several of the Jaffa turned to look at him. The ship shuddered again, throwing all of them to their knees.
"SG-1, move out, now!" Jack ordered. The team ran to gather in the same spot where they had beamed in. Casey sent the signal, and before Toren could reach her, they disappeared in a flash of light.
"We will leave this vessel," Toren announced, having an idea that Casey's slow approach to the computers had been for a reason. He was intelligent enough to know exactly what the intruders had been up to. What he didn't know was what devices had been planted, or where, nor whether they could be rendered inoperative before they exploded. He looked at the Jaffa who surrounded him. "I know that your hearts are tempted to believe the Shol'va. Do not do so." He reached out with the ribbon device and killed the nearest Jaffa. "I am your god. Never doubt that!" He winced with pain when he turned suddenly. The burn on his shoulder was severe. It would take time to heal it. There were gliders in the bay. He would take one and return to his home. He needed time in the sarcophagus. And he would make plans for capturing that beautiful little witch.
A A A A A A
The team followed Jack to the bridge. "What the hell is going on?"
Colonel Bradshaw was grinning from ear to ear. "Seems that Dagon decided to get involved after all. He dropped out of hyperspace and started firing."
"The other teams?"
"Back safe and sound. Both teams reported mission accomplished."
Jack nodded. "Good. We were…interrupted. Just a few bricks of C-4 planted. We'll have to hope that it's enough."
"We have gliders launching," Vincent Sabotti reported from his place at the weapons console. "They're running though."
The general looked at Casey. "We need to know."
She nodded. Reached for Daniel. Wrapped her arms tightly around his neck.
He was in one of the gliders. And he felt her. He reached for her, grabbed her. She struggled, but couldn't break free. She had never done more on this plane than move around, look, and listen. She was still learning to use her talents to do more.
"Do not fight me, Casey. I can feel him. I can…and will destroy him."
She had no idea if he was lying or not. She sure as hell wasn't willing to take the risk! She went still. She could smell him. Feel the heat of his body. How was that possible, she wondered briefly, before the more disturbing realization that her body was responding to him filtered through her thoughts. "What do you want?"
"I want you, Sweet One."
They were standing on that mountaintop again. He pulled her close. "I understand that you were only doing what was expected of you. Have no fear, I have many other ships."
"We'll blow them out of the sky, too," she replied testily.
Toren smiled. "I think not." He brushed her hair over her shoulder. "I yearn to hold you, truly hold you. Until then, I will make do with what time we can spend together here." He lowered his head, began to kiss her.
Her mind was screaming at her. Her body was responding eagerly. Before she realized what she was doing, she was kissing him back, her hands moving up his shoulders, into his hair. Hair that was long and thick…No! She jerked away from him.
The lazy smile that he gave her was enough to make her anger rage inside her. "Why do you insist on fighting?"
"Because I don't want you. I don't like you. I hate you. I want you dead!" she hissed.
"Your body speaks differently."
"My body isn't in control," she said. She pulled completely away from him. She could feel Daniel, she struggled to reach him. 'Daniel! Please! Help me!'
He was pacing in the meadow, knew that the damned Goa'uld had somehow managed to drag her somewhere. Her cries for help echoed in the air around him. Goddamn it! How the hell was he supposed to get to her? She had to take him…he closed his eyes. Reached out, tried to feel her. There! Right there! 'Give me a lift, Angel. Get me there.'
In an instant Daniel was standing beside his wife, on a mountaintop. Toren's eyes went wide. He looked at Casey. "You are more powerful than I realized."
"Don't you forget it!" she said, moving to stand as close to Daniel as she could without actually crawling inside his clothes with him. Took comfort from the arm that went around her shoulders.
Toren looked from Daniel to Casey and back again. "You cannot touch me here," he said confidently.
"You're sure about that? Let's find out, shall we?" He raised his hand.
Toren disappeared. Casey led them back to the meadow. Once again her body was trembling violently. Guilt flooded her mind, and she lowered her eyes. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
"He…he kissed me. And…I…uh…I started to kiss him back."
The misery in her eyes was enough to let him know that she was confused, and angry that her body continued to betray her. She was convinced that she had done something terrible, something unforgivable. Daniel bit back the urge to laugh. Instead, he wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly. "Don't worry about it. If you only started to kiss him, then you were able to keep from doing more."
A shudder moved from her head to her feet. "I don't understand what's happening."
"We'll talk later. We need to let Jack know what's going on. What do you see, Angel?"
She looked around, nodded at him, letting him know that she had the information she had been searching for. She didn't want to let him leave, clinging to him even as he tried to move away from her. He kissed her fingers, then drifted slowly away. She opened her eyes.
Jack was pacing the bridge. "Well?" he asked, as soon as he noticed that her eyes were open.
"He's heading for home," she replied. "If we're lucky, Dagon will follow and take him out."
The ship shuddered around them. Two of Toren's ships exploded, Dagon's ship had turned and was firing on the Persephone.
"Or not," she muttered.
"Danny, knock him out of the-"
"Al'kesh moving away…just jumped to hyperspace," Sherry reported. The third of Toren's ships blew apart in a flash of light, leaving nothing but debris behind.
"How many ships does Toren have?" Jack asked.
Casey shrugged. "I don't know. I'd really prefer to not have to go poking around in his head to find out."
The older man nodded. "We'll get Aaron to do that for us, then. What about Dagon?"
She threw a glance at Daniel. "Let's give her a break," Daniel said quietly. "Until Toren is taken out, any search she does is going to put her at risk of being grabbed again."
"Again?" Jack asked sharply.
Daniel explained what had happened. Casey had tried to step away from him. Her guilt no doubt making her believe that he was, or should be angry with her. He refused to let go of her. He pulled her closer to his side.
Jack rubbed his hands over his face. "Okay, let's grab some coffee and see if we can make some sense out of what just happened." He turned and led the way to the dining room.
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