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Blast from the Past
Methos glanced around, as much as he could, from the window of the troop transport. He was sitting in the 'co-pilot's' seat, next to Camulus. Gliders darkened the sky around them. Camulus had insisted that they fly low and fast toward the palace. The approaching ships would be more difficult to see when they were close enough to be detected. There was also the hope that Camulus' Jaffa would fail to raise a warning. Ordell had tried to send messages to certain Jaffa known to be completely loyal to the Camulus, including his First Prime. It was uncertain as to whether the messages had been received. Methos had objected, insisting that the messages could be intercepted by Ptah's men. But Camulus had refused to listen, saying that even if Ptah or his few Jaffa heard the message, they wouldn't understand it. The ancient Immortal quietly told his men that more than likely they were going to be walking into a trap of some sort.
The Old Man was surprised when activity around the palace showed that their approach had gone unnoticed, or at the very least, unheralded. The troop transport and a dozen of the gliders landed, the others remaining in a pattern around the compound to shoot any of Ptah's men that might try to escape.
It was apparent that Ptah was keeping his own Jaffa close to his side. Probably as protection from those who had sworn loyalty to him in word only. When Camulus strode through the open gate at the front of the structure, smiles covered the faces of Jaffa who quickly knelt before him.
Camulus raised a finger to his lips. Cocked one eyebrow. Several of the Jaffa pointed toward the throne room. He glanced around, waited until Methos and Wade were standing directly behind him. He could feel the others close in as well, knew that his own men were ready to fight to the death for him. He shoved the doors open.
"I told you I was not to be-" Ptah broke off, his eyes widening at the site of Camulus walking swiftly toward him. "I was informed of your death," he said simply.
"Then obviously your informant lied." His eyes stopped on Nefrim. "You will die painfully for what you have done."
Nefrim smirked. "I think not. Take him!"
Ptah reached out and slapped the man across the face. "Remember your place, Goa'uld! You are not in charge here!"
"Neither are you," Methos said quietly.
Ptah looked at the man. "I do not know you."
"I am Lord Methos."
"I have heard of you. You brought together your brothers and sisters to destroy Nergal," Ptah replied, nodding slowly. "A worthy adversary."
Camulus barely hid his surprise. So Methos was pretending to be a System Lord. Very interesting. It would seem that he had garnered a reputation for himself, one that evoked respect. That would be very useful in the future.
"Why do you ally yourself with this one? He was a coward who ran when my fleet approached," Ptah asked, sneering in Camulus' direction.
"It is not of your concern," Methos replied easily. "You need only know that I am." Without saying another word, he raised his zat'nik'tel and fired twice, dropping the Goa'uld where he stood. "Take him," he said, nodding toward Nefrim. Several of 'his' Jaffa hurried to obey. They immediately ringed up to the Hak'tyl.
"You had no right to kill him!" Camulus roared in anger. "He usurped me! It was my right to destroy him!"
"I had no desire to listen to the two of you hurl insults at one another indefinitely. We will leave now. And we will be contacting you again. So that you can…return the favor…owed to us."
"I could order you all killed," Camulus said, through gritted teeth.
"Yes. You could. And they would make certain that you were sent proof of her death," Methos replied, his voice cold.
Camulus stared at him, his eyes glowing with rage. He heaved a sigh, his eyes returned to normal. "I will be waiting to hear from you."
Methos nodded. He signaled the Hak'tyl, and his men began to ring back up to the ship. Prius informed him that the spies were already in place in Camulus' palace. The Old Man grinned. Camulus might be older than he was, but he certainly wasn't wiser. Nor as devious.
He dropped down onto the throne on the pel'tak. "Contact the SGC. Tell them that Camulus is back in his palace, and the spies are in place. Oh, and tell them we have Kinsey…er…Nefrim. Give me best time to Gamma."
The Jaffa nodded, and hurried to comply.
"What will he do?" Wade asked quietly.
"Rant and rave for a few days. Probably re-establish his presence on any planets that Ptah might have tried to claim. Then he'll sit and try to think of ways to double-cross us."
"Even though it would mean Casey's death?"
Methos chuckled. "No. He'll try to make it look as if someone else is attacking us. I'm hoping we can goad him enough into taking on Amaterasu and Morganna. Those two have become quite powerful, but they aren't expanding. Seems that they're content to just keep one another in check. If Camulus thinks he can use us to help him conquer them, and he will, we can keep the three of them focused on one another for the time being. Morganna seems to be more than willing to avoid any confrontation with us."
"Perhaps she is well aware that the Goa'uld who come against us are defeated," Wade replied.
"No doubt. Penatil is looking in this direction, so I'm sure we'll find him slithering this way soon."
"There has been word that Oatash has been quietly gathering Jaffa from several of the fallen Goa'uld. Word is that he raided a training camp and took those who were still in training," Wade said, frowning over the report as it filled the monitor in front of him. "So he has Jaffa, they're just young and not well trained."
The dark haired Immortal nodded. "I hate to tell them about this one. Daniel will take it hard. He's convinced that it's his fault that Oatash is free, and in that young woman's body."
"I know," Wade said quietly. "I haven't been able to convince him yet that it was no one's fault that it happened."
"You never will," Methos said. "Daniel will take the blame for this, just as he did for Sha're, Sarah Gardner, and Steven Rayner."
Wade grimaced. "The best thing that could happen would be to free that young woman. It would go a long way to helping him absolve himself of what he sees as his…failures."
"Yes, it would."
"Methos, word from Gamma. Duncan MacLeod says congratulations, and to get home for a much deserved break," Prius reported.
The Old Man grinned. "Guess we'll be spending Christmas at the Jackson house."
"I can think of worse things," Wade chuckled. Actually, spending this newly discovered holiday with his brother and family was something to look forward to. "Casey is going to be ticked off that we aren't keeping Camulus under tighter control. I think she was looking forward to using him."
Methos guffawed. "Yeah, well, I don't plan on being anywhere near when Duncan and Jack tell her. I figure we should head for deep space when they're ready to do so."
Wade laughed as well. "Probably a good idea." He shook his head slightly. "After all that she has suffered at the hands of Goa'uld, I don't know how she manages to sit calmly in a room with them."
"She's a very strong woman, my friend. Much stronger than most of those around her give her credit for," Methos replied softly, pride in his voice.
"Yes, she is. But not indestructible," Wade said. Daniel had told him only a bit of what had occurred when he had hired that secretary. But enough to know that his brother had been scared to death that she'd been about to suffer a complete break from reality.
Methos looked over at his young friend. He was well aware that Wade knew more about what went on between Daniel and Casey than he did. He usually told himself he preferred it that way. "Has something happened?"
"It almost did," Wade said. "She's fine, now. But if anything ever happens to Daniel-" he broke off, shook his head again. "I'm afraid I'd be left raising Emily and Nicholas," he said softly.
The Old Man nodded. He was well aware of the constantly changing, strengthening bond between the two. She had nearly died the first time she had thought him lost to her. It would certainly be worse now.
"So, what are you going to get Oma for Christmas?" Wade asked, changing the subject abruptly.
"I haven't got a clue," Methos admitted. "Any suggestions?"
Wade grinned. "Are you kidding? I have gifts to get for my own family, and no clue where to start."
"Mall. As soon as we get to Gamma," Methos replied, a wicked grin on his face.
"Before or after a stop at Rinaldi's?"
"After. Definitely after. Only way to deal with Christmas shopping is to do it completely shit-faced," the young/old man declared.
"I so agree."
The men laughed, then drifted off to fill out their reports. To add to the constantly growing pile on Duncan's desk; something that Methos took perverse delight in knowing.
A A A A A A
"What do you mean, he's staying there? Are you out of your freaking minds? How can we control him when he's sitting on his throne, calling the shots?" Casey demanded to know, her green eyes blazing with anger as she paced Duncan's office.
"Case, we thought-" Daniel started.
She whirled to face her Husband. "We? You knew about this? Daniel Melburn Jackson!" She stopped, cocked her head to one side. Her eyes narrowed. "You pushed for this! You didn't want him around here! You were afraid that…Ooooooo!" Her hands were clenched into fists.
Methos sat in a chair in the corner, grinning broadly. When he and Wade had entered the room during the weekly meeting concerning upcoming missions, there was no way to avoid telling the hot-tempered blonde what was going on. He was rather enjoying watching the Highlander, the General and the good Doctor trying to explain why she hadn't been told. One glance at Wade and he knew that the man was enjoying his sibling's predicament as well.
"Casey, calm down," Jack said. "Methos left half a dozen spies there."
She turned to look at Methos. "A couple in the harem, too, I suppose?"
"Of course," Methos replied lazily. In fact, three of them were in the harem. Beautiful women, too. All had been treated brutally at the hands of Goa'uld, and were thrilled at the opportunity to work against the parasitic creatures.
"They won't be of any use," she said quietly.
The Old Man frowned. "Why not?"
"Camulus won't be taking any woman to bed for awhile," she replied.
"He's a Goa'uld. As soon as he gets the urge, he'll fill his bed," Methos argued.
Casey shook her head. "No, Methos. He's still grieving for Cara. It will be some time before he has a need that great."
All eyes went to Daniel. The young man nodded. "Grief like that pretty much pushes everything else away. Including any…desires. He might wake up hard as steel. Soon as his mind registers that fact, it will also remind him that Cara is gone. He won't need anything but a dry pillow after that," he said softly.
Methos frowned. "Well, they'll still be in a position to hear things, see things."
"Does Camulus know that you've left spies?"
The ancient Immortal grinned. "He's a fool if he doesn't."
"Then he might not know," she said, pulling her lip between her teeth. The men in the room burst into laughter. "What?"
"Nice to know that your opinion of him is so high," Duncan snorted.
"He's grieving. I understand that," she said softly. "Never, at any time have I ever suspected him of being anything other than a Goa'uld. Well, okay, maybe right now he's a little less Goa'uld-ish. But…the more I think about what he said, the more I suspect that he was acting out of pure anger…grief…and the instant he realized that, he was already moving back towards his previous behavior."
"Ptah is out of the picture, unless his men were able to spirit him away to a sarcophagus," Methos said.
"How possible is that?" Jack asked.
Wade shook his head. "Not very. Camulus knows that Ptah gave the orders that ultimately caused Cara's death. I rather imagine he did something rather nasty and permanent to the body."
Methos nodded "That would certainly be typical."
Jack shuddered. "Those snakes are just batshit crazy," he muttered.
"Yeah, and we had one right here, under our control, and you guys let him go!" Casey grumped.
"Say what?" Sam asked from the doorway, her eyes wide. "They did what?"
"Cammy is at home, sitting on his throne, Ptah is dead, and the only thing we got out of the deal is Kinsey. Which I'll admit isn't bad, but we could have used Camulus more!" Casey explained.
"Are you out of your freaking minds?"
Methos snorted from his corner, turned his head to laugh.
"Uh…Casey just asked that question," Wade said, barely managing to keep a straight face.
"Now wait just a damned minute!" Jack said, more than a little irritated. "You two were all about trusting him because his little-bitty heart had been broken!"
"Yeah, because we could use him!" Casey replied. "We offered him compassion, a shoulder to cry on, helped him kill Ptah…then we could have used him to get rid of Penatil!"
"We still can," Daniel insisted.
Sam shook her head. "When was all of this decided?"
"About five minutes before Methos and Wade left with Cammy," Casey said.
Sam put her hands on her hips. "Do you guys have a death wish or something? I thought that we worked together? Since when do you leave us out of decisions like this?"
"For your information," Duncan said, his own temper beginning to flare, "I happen to be in charge around here. Jack is second in command. What we decide doesn't have to be approved by committee!"
The instant the words hit the air, every man in the room, including Duncan, cringed. Two sets of eyes, one deep green, one sapphire blue, narrowed. While technically what the Scot had said was true, he depended on the opinions and advice of the entire SG-1 team. They had been on more missions, dealt with more Goa'uld, faced more bizarre events than any other team in existence.
"I see," Sam said icily. "Well, since my opinion doesn't seem to matter, or count, around here any longer, I'm going back to my lab. Where it does matter!" She turned on her heel and left.
Casey said absolutely nothing as she stormed out of the room behind her best friend.
Snorts from two corners of the room turned to raucous laughter. "You guys are so screwed," Wade managed to gasp.
"Shut up," Daniel snapped. He turned to Duncan. "Well, hope you have a nice evening. I sure as hell won't!"
Jack just grunted, dropped down into one of the empty chairs. "Duncan is right," he said quietly.
Daniel stared at him. "You're kidding!"
"He is correct, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said from where he stood on one side of the room. "That Duncan MacLeod and O'Neill seek our advice and opinion is gratifying, but not necessary."
"You realize that until they get over this, neither one of them will say a damned thing in briefings," Daniel pointed out. "And both of those women have some valid points to make, and they offer their own unique perspective to intel."
Duncan leaned back and ran his hands over his face. "I'll go apologize."
Jack shook his head. "Don't bother. Until they calm down, it won't do any good."
A A A A A A
In Sam's lab, the two women sat hunched over her desk, sipping coffee. "I hate that he's right," Sam hissed.
"I know, I do too," Casey admitted. Her own temper was beginning to cool. "I just…I guess I got used to my opinion meaning something around here."
"Me, too," Sam replied. "I guess we both know where we stand, don't we?"
"Yeah, out in the freaking cold." The heat began to flare again. "I mean, even if we disagreed, we should have at least been in on this!" Casey declared.
"Well, one this is for damned certain, I'm not even going to bother offering my opinion. Unless it's something technical that I know about, screw 'em."
Casey nodded. "I guess I do nothing more than report what I 'see', and let them figure out what it means. Hell, now that Daniel goes 'with' me, he can freaking tell them what's going on!"
"I need a beer!"
"I could use a beer."
"Now I wish I hadn't finished my Christmas shopping!" Casey said. "Now I wish I hadn't bought him those reference books. Old reference books!"
Sam grinned. "Yeah, we should have waited until the day before, like they normally do."
Casey giggled. "Oh well." She sighed. "Let's go. We aren't needed around here anyway."
"I hear that, girlfriend."
The two women left the base together. Two cell phone calls later, and the wives of the men in question were gathered at a small table in the back of Rinaldi's, commiserating the fact that the men just didn't appreciate them, or what they had to offer.
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