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Between Two Evils
She was staring into her coffee cup, not seeing the liquid that sloshed around the sides as she absently stirred it. Something…odd…something really strange…was happening. Her eyes widened. "Only there!" she exclaimed out loud.
The rest of the team, who had been quietly discussing the events of the passed half-hour, looked at her. Questions filled four pairs of eyes.
Casey blushed. "I don't understand what's happening. But the only place that-" she turned to look at Daniel. "When we were on his ship, when he came into the engine room, I felt nothing but hatred for him. It's only on the astral plane that I'm…attracted to him. I don't understand it!"
Daniel was frowning as well. It had just been in the past few days that he had discovered that when he was in the meadow with her, he could smell her, feel the heat from her body, taste the sweetness of her lips when she kissed him. That had never before happened. That she was reacting as she was let him know that she was experiencing the same sensations. "Are you attracted to…me…there?"
Her eyes went wide, then a deep blush crept over her cheeks. "Oh, yeah. As much…maybe more, as I am here," she admitted softly.
He smiled, reached for her hand, lifted her fingers to his lips. He glanced at his teammates. "This is something…new…for us. Before, it was sort of like-"
"Phone sex," Casey said, giggling slightly.
Jack, Sam, and Teal'c chuckled as well.
"But now…it's as intense…as being here," Daniel finished, his free hand poking his wife playfully in the ribs.
"We're also able to interact with this plane when we're traveling the astral," Casey said. "Something I never really thought about before."
"This must have something to do with you being The Chosen," Sam said to Daniel. She smiled at Casey. "I think your talents have to do with your parentage."
Casey smiled in return. "No doubt. The weird thing is, I never really moved around on that plane like I do now…like I have since I took Daniel to that room in the planet where the Lost City was. I could look, and listen, and see things, and I could…well, I guess it would be like leaning closer to hear someone talking. But now-"
"Now she flitters around out there like Tinkerbelle," Daniel said with a grin.
"And moves with ease in the strongholds of the enemy," Teal'c added, the pride in his voice unmistakable.
Jack was frowning. "So, are you saying that you…that the astral plane…is just like this one, where we really are, for you?"
She nodded. "Mostly. There are differences, of course."
"Of course," Jack replied, rolling his eyes.
"There's still something…odd…about the entire thing," Casey said. "I can't help but feel that what is happening…isn't supposed to happen."
Daniel frowned. "You mean someone is…interfering?"
"Yes, at least, I think so. I can't be sure," Casey admitted.
"Your father would know," Teal'c said.
Casey nodded. "I'm sure he would. Maybe I should have a little chat with my dad."
Jack nodded. "We need to know if this is something that is going to be a…distraction. We have two Goa'uld to deal with, both of them want you and Daniel, and both of them seem determined to take Gamma to get you."
She leaned back, closed her eyes.
Daniel was already waiting for her. She hadn't even felt him 'arrive'. "Let's go talk to Dad."
He put his arms around her, felt her moving them through space. For a minute the thought that he was taking all of this in stride struck him as funny. Here he was, a simple archaeologist, one who had been scorned and ridiculed for years, every one of his incredible theories now proven correct…accepted as fact. He was responsible for deciphering the secrets of the Stargate, doorways created by the Ancients that led to other worlds…thousands of other worlds. He was flying through space on the astral plane with his Wife, an incredibly strong seer, the Fire, another invention of the Ancients, burning in his veins, to speak to his father-in-law, who just happened to be a Being a few steps above the Ascended. One of whom he had been - for a short period of time. Just how much more unbelievable…incredible…could his life get?
They were 'standing' in the commissary on the base. It appeared that her parents were feeding the kids lunch. Casey looked over at her babies, wanted to hold them, hug them. Aaron felt them almost immediately.
"What has happened?" he asked as soon as he 'joined' them.
"We're not sure. Maybe some tampering. With us, I mean," Casey replied. "Is it normal to be able to smell, and feel, and taste on this plane?"
The Ancient's eyes grew wide. "Not normally, no."
"Well, we can. It's the reason I'm attracted to Toren. I'm only attracted to him on this plane! Explain that one!"
His forehead was creased with a frown. "Never have I heard of anyone having the ability to use the…carnal senses …on the astral plane before. When Daniel was given his…gift, yours was enhanced. The Chosen is always bestowed the gift of Fire. Because the two of you had already performed the Ceremony of Fire, it already burned in you. Much hotter, much stronger than it has ever burned in any couple, Immortal or Ancient." He shook his head.
"They enhanced our…gifts…not realizing that the Fire would continue to grow stronger," Daniel said.
Aaron nodded. "Never before has it done so. Whatever was bestowed upon The Chosen, that was the amount of…power…that he had. Yours, I suspect, is now many times stronger than what the Beings of Light originally granted you. The same for you, my darling daughter."
"Could someone on one of those higher levels be manipulating all of this?" Daniel asked.
"Very unlikely. Not when one takes into account the fact that the Beings of Light are as surprised as everyone else at your continued…growth," Aaron replied.
"What about someone higher up?" Casey asked.
"They wouldn't deem to get involved with you. You're too many levels below them. There are others on lower levels to deal with you."
"How smugly superior of them," Casey retorted.
The older man smiled. "Any manifestations of your…powers…are a result of the Fire that burns in each of you. That it seems to grow together at the same time, in the same manner, only proves, and strengthens, the bond between you. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea how powerful you may yet become."
Daniel and Casey exchanged nervous glances. "Let's just hope that we can continue to control it," she said softly.
"As the Fire continues to grow, strengthen, change, so to does your ability to handle it, control it, use it," Aaron said gently.
Casey heaved a sigh. "So, at least we know that nobody is fooling around with us."
Aaron nodded. "I will make…inquiries, just in case."
"Thanks, Dad. Kiss my babies for me," Casey said.
"You are welcome, Casey. I will. Be careful. You may be The Chosen, and you His Chosen, but the two of you are still only Immortal," Aaron warned, looking from Daniel and then to Casey.
She giggled. "Only, he says. Only Immortal. That's enough to deal with. Toss in the Fire, and all this astral plane stuff, and I'm totally weirded out!"
Both men chuckled, and with a final goodbye, Casey pulled them back to the Persephone.
They reported to Jack that it seemed that whatever was happening was a 'natural' progression of their 'gifts'. Which was both reassuring, and a little bit scary.
"Let's get some rest while we can," Jack said. "If anything changes, let us know."
Casey nodded her understanding. She allowed Daniel to lead her to the officer's quarters that they occupied whenever they were on board.
A A A A A A
Daniel sat down at the tiny desk and immediately began writing. The journal for this mission, as the one for the last had been, would be filled with musings about the power that he and his wife now seemed to possess…
I'm not so much afraid of what Casey will do with her increasing abilities. She's an incredible woman, and the fact that each 'step' of progression results only in her increased ability to help others, which she does with zeal, I have no doubt that she will continue to be the anchor to which I can tie myself. What I fear is that one day I'll wake up, and be like them…like a Goa'uld. Ordering people around, killing at whim when I'm displeased. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. I'm not sure that this was the type of power the author of that very apt phrase had in mind. But I'm terrified of finding out that it's true.
How many times have I used my - gift - now, to kill in anger? I used it to kill Anubis. I was certain at the time that he was the reason I had been given the power. So that he could be stopped - destroyed. I used it to fight Simmons, an Ancient determined to enslave humans just as surely as the Goa'uld do. But I managed to keep it under control, until the night I watched my brother fucking my Wife. I have never been so angry in my life. I barely remember the events of that night, only the red haze of fury that seemed to fill my brain.
After that, other than to put holes in tables in a show of force, usually to get information, or as with the EDA, to bend them to my will, something that should bother me more than it does, I didn't use the Fire. I didn't use it again until faced with Nergal, both his ships, and the demon that had taken control of him. There was no other way to deal with the demon, even with the Fire I needed help from the Triad. Just as there didn't seem to be any other way to deal with those lizard people created by the NID.
That I used it against those men, in that camp and on the ship still haunts me. But would the blood of their deaths be any less on my hands had I used the more 'conventional' weapons at my disposal? All I could think of, all I wanted to do, was protect Casey. Those deaths were the result of that need. Had they not threatened her, they would still be alive today. Is my need to protect her solely from my deep love for her, my need for her, or is there something else driving the need to guard her? No, if I'm honest with myself, my love alone is all that keeps me ever watchful when it comes to her. I know, from bitter experience, that I can't live without Casey. I'll do whatever it takes to make certain that I never have to face such a bleak existence again.
Casey watched as he wrote. She had never read any of his journals. She had never asked to. She knew that he used them to record his observations of the places they visited, the people they met, and often as a way to come to terms with some of the not so pleasant things that happened on missions, in much the same way that she used her poetry. She didn't write a poem after each mission, however. There was a red notebook for every mission that Daniel had ever been on, from the very first time he had set foot on Abydos, to that morning's confrontation with Toren. She leaned back against the metal wall behind her. The journal from Abydos was thick, full of a year's observations, thoughts, ideas. She was sure that it was full of love as well, full of descriptions of his life with Sha're. She often wondered if any of his journals mentioned her, if he ever wrote down his love for her in any of those pages.
She closed her eyes, leaned her head back. The Fire that ran through his veins was absolutely extraordinary. She realized that she had felt only a fraction of the power that he possessed. That he could maintain control over it was nothing less than amazing. She wondered just how powerful he really was. Which led to the question…just exactly what were they becoming? Daniel was as powerful, or nearly so, as the Beings of Light who had given him the gift that flowed through him. Those same Beings had enhanced hers to the point where she could move as easily, do as much, perhaps more, on the astral plane as the plane of her reality. Were they becoming… gods? She shuddered as that thought crossed her mind. Shoved it away as quickly as possible. What she wouldn't give to be home, fixing dinner! To be nothing more than an ordinary wife and mother. The Immortality issue seemed to be nothing in comparison to wrapping her mind around the things that she could now do. Things she would rather not be able to do. She would trade it all just for the peace and quiet of a normal life. Well, not her Immortality. She wanted to be with Daniel forever. But the rest she would give away gladly!
A smile lifted the corners of her mouth when she contemplated a much simpler life for them. Daniel working at the Center, doing what he was so good at, reaching into the past and learning everything there was to know about a long dead civilization, and what those people meant in the scheme of their own history, and future. She wouldn't mind working a day or so a week with him, the two of them sequestered in his office, translating any of the myriad of tablets that were waiting to be translated. Spending the rest of her time just being with her children. Baking cookies. Doing mundane tasks like making beds and doing laundry. Never having to fear for their safety. Never running from Jaffa determined to kill them. Never having to fight against Goa'uld who threatened not only SG-1, but every man, woman and child on Gamma. Never having to hide from Goa'uld capable of invading her mind.
His voice broke through her thoughts. "Hmm?"
"Are you all right?"
She opened her eyes. He was sitting sideways in the chair, watching her. "I'm fine."
She studied him for a minute. "I'm afraid," she admitted softly.
Daniel slid from the chair onto the bed, settled himself against the wall, pulled her into his embrace. "Of what, Angel?"
"Of becoming an egomaniacal, murdering, cheating, lying bitch."
The laugh that erupted from him was one of amusement, both that she would believe herself ever capable of such things, and to know that her thoughts had been traveling the same road as his own. He planted a kiss on her forehead. "That will never happen, babe. Not to you. You're far too sweet, and kind. You work so damned hard to help people. Relax, Angel. You don't have to worry about that."
She smiled. Snuggled into his embrace. "Not as long as I'm with you. You'll keep me on the straight and narrow."
"Me?" he said incredulously.
"Of course you! You're a kind, gentle, loving man, Daniel, with a good heart. That's why you're The Chosen. You'll be able to keep me from becoming something no better than a Goa'uld."
"Right. You're the good one, Angel. I'm depending on you to keep that from happening to me."
"Like that would ever happen! You're too smart, Daniel. You know what can happen. You're well aware that with your… power…you could destroy an entire planet if you decided to! No, My Heart, you're the one who will keep me in line."
Her words stunned him. Was he capable of causing that much destruction? Not at the moment, of that he was certain. He understood that his Fire seemed so much stronger to Casey because it was stronger than hers. She was merely judging his strength by what she had felt. She wasn't far from wrong. He shuddered mentally when he realized that it if the power continued to 'grow' as it had been, someday it might indeed be possible to at least set fire to an entire planet. That he maintain control over his temper…and the baser desires of his subconscious…was an absolute must! There was no room for debate, no need to think about the subject. He had to remain in control of his emotions, especially anger and hate. No slipping to the Dark side, he mused silently. He pulled Casey closer. A move in that direction would without a doubt result in the loss of her love, which in turn would leave him empty, achingly alone. The key to his survival, to staying on course, was the woman in his arms. He kissed her forehead again. "What you do to me, woman," he said softly.
"SG-1 to the bridge!"
The voice echoed in the tiny room for a few seconds. Casey sighed. "Some snakehead probably just decided to put in an appearance."
He chuckled. "No doubt. Let's go see who it is."
They were only seconds behind Sam and Jack, Teal'c entered behind them. "What's up?" Jack asked.
Colonel Bradshaw said nothing. He just pointed at the window at the front of the bridge.
Fourteen Goa'uld motherships were hanging space around them.
"Holy Hannah!" Jack breathed.
Casey shivered. "We're still cloaked, right?" she asked softly.
"Yep. As far as we know, they have no idea that we're here," the colonel replied.
"How in the hell did we get caught in the middle of all of this?" Jack asked.
"We were following Dagon, per your orders," Bradshaw said. "We had a ship drop out of hyperspace right in front of us. I ordered evasive maneuvers to keep from running into the damned thing. Then another one jumped in. Barely avoided that one. Then another, and another, each time we managed to avoid being hit. Vince and Larry were able to get a feeling for the pattern of arrival. This is the only place we could find where we had a better than fifty-fifty chance of not being hit by a ship dropping out of hyperspace literally on top of us."
"Who are they?" Sam asked, a worried frown on her face.
"Not a clue," Col. Bradshaw admitted.
Jack was looking at the hologram projection that gave a 3-D representation of the sector of space they were in. "Looks like we can drop down here. Let's do that, move toward this moon. We'll just sit tight and see what happens."
"Do you want me to find out who they are?" Casey asked.
The general shook his head. "Until you're not at risk from that Toren asshole, we're limiting your searches to necessity. We don't particularly need to know who these Goa'uld are, not right now. Let's see what's going on. Are we picking up any chatter?"
Sherry shook her head. "None. Which seems strange. If they were meeting about something, wouldn't they at least be making arrangements to all board one ship?"
Teal'c nodded. "Indeed. If they are here to do battle, then they would threaten, taunt one another."
Casey cocked her head to one side. "I can't be sure, but I think there are only three Goa'uld represented here. Lots of…anger. Definitely going to be a fight. That's all I can get without doing a search," she said.
"Well, let's just sit back and see who gets their snake asses kicked," Jack said. The pleasure in his voice at the prospect of seeing at least one Goa'uld taken out was more than obvious. It brought smiles to all those around him.
"Want a bag of popcorn, boss?" Casey asked, trying hard not to grin.
"Got one?" Jack grinned.
"Not on me. Bet I could find one, though," she replied with a giggle.
Tension was high as they waited, the ships hanging in space above them. It felt as if time had stopped, that all of the universe waited with bate breath. Suddenly the black of space around them began to light up as the ships began to fire on one another. From their vantage point, they could see the damage that the individual ships were taking, could see the fires that burned, the pieces drifting away. Three vessels exploded in a fiery show of flames and debris. Two others began to move away. The remaining ha'tak, although heavily damaged, began to pursue. Both fleeing ships were destroyed. The remaining nine ships then turned on one another. When the battle was over, less than ten minutes later, three ships limped away, two in one direction, one going in the opposite direction.
"Someone just lost big time," Casey said softly. "I don't know who the Goa'uld associated with the ships are, but I do know that someone just became much stronger, one was just destroyed, and one will serve, or be destroyed."
"Let's just hope that the one who just became stronger only did so by virtue of having the most toys to take home," Jack said. He turned to Colonel Bradshaw. "Any clue as to where Dagon went?"
"Not now," the man admitted.
Jack sighed with frustration. "Okay. Let's head back to Gamma. We need to pick up Aaron Desala anyway."
"Aye, sir," Col. Bradshaw replied.
Three jumps and they were looking at the gold and blue surface of the planet they all called home. Once again they had managed to avoid an attack here. They had turned the Goa'uld back before they could get close. Hearts shuddered with the fear that filled them, when minds insisted that their good luck could not hold out forever.
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