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They were geared up and standing at the bottom of the ramp. It was their first mission in almost a month. SG-1, and Casey in particular, had gone through so much in the past six months that Duncan had pulled the entire team from the mission roster, just to give them time to recuperate. He looked at them now - rested, at peace…ready to go. He glanced at Casey, his smile automatic when she glanced up him and grinned. Her eyes were dancing with life once again. He watched as she laced her fingers with Daniel’s. Even from here in the control room he could see how the man squeezed them for just a brief second. The ‘gate opened, awing even those who witnessed it on a daily basis.
This mission was a standard recon, and though the MALP hadn’t shown anything dangerous in the vicinity, they were taking no chances, and were all heavily armed. "SG-1, you have a go. Godspeed," Duncan said.
They walked through the ‘gate, and seconds later, stepped out onto the lush ground cover of a jungle. Casey adjusted her ball cap. "Wonder if we’ll find paradise here?" she said softly.
Daniel only smiled and walked down the vine-covered steps. The group gathered around Jack.
"Teal'c, take point, buddy. Jacksons, on our six. Sam, you’re with me."
"Now gee, there’s a surprise," Casey said, her eyes teasing.
Jack grinned at her, then turned to follow the large Jaffa as he carefully made his way through the undergrowth. "Stay in sight of each other, campers," he called.
Five pairs of eyes scanned their surroundings, listened for anything that might signal danger. They could hear sounds of some type of animal or bird, or perhaps both, although there didn’t seem to be a large number of any of the creatures.
Daniel watched Casey’s face, looking for the tell-tale signs of danger that always flickered across her features just before she began pulling at her bottom lip with her teeth.
"Feels good to be working together, doesn’t it?" she asked softly.
"Yeah, it does, babe."
"I was so confused when Jack sent me with Teal'c. And when T wouldn’t listen when I got that feeling…" her voice was barely a whisper as memories flashed across her mind.
"Let it go, " he said gently.
She smiled up at him. "Love you."
"Love you, too, Angel."
The jungle seemed to go on forever. Teal'c had found a wide river not far from the ‘gate, and Jack had decided that following it was the best course of action.
After a couple of hours, Jack called a halt, ordered the group to rest for a few minutes. Casey and Sam wandered off to relieve themselves, keeping the men in sight.
Casey was pulling her pack back on when she turned around and saw it. A step pyramid, the first she had ever seen in a jungle environment. It was covered with vegetation, but the outline was most certainly discernable. "Uh, guys? You might want to come check this out," she said.
The tone of her voice alerted them, and they hurried to join her and Sam.
"Wow," Daniel said.
"To say the least," Casey replied.
They walked toward the structure, fully alert, weapons ready.
"Mayan. Possibly Incan," Daniel was saying. He already had the camcorder out and was recording the scene.
They all helped pull vines and other plants away from the stones. Most of the stones were covered in glyphs.
"Definitely Mayan," Daniel said. "This is a temple dedicated to The Sun God Kinich Ahau. He supposedly visited the city at noon everyday, and would descend as a macaw and consume prepared offerings. Kinich Ahau is usually shown with jaguar-like features, like this glyph here, and he also wears the symbol of Kin, a Mayan day. Kinich Ahau was sometimes known by the name Ah Xoc Kin and was also associated with poetry and music."
Casey shivered. "Yeah, but you left out the part about how much the Mayans loved their human sacrifices."
"That sounds pleasant," Jack said, in a tone that meant just the opposite.
Everyone was watching Casey closely now, waiting to see if there was anything to be worried about. She scrambled up each side as far as she could, Teal'c holding tightly to her legs, as she pulled vines away from the stones. They spent the afternoon clearing the pyramid enough that it could be carefully photographed. It was dusk when Jack ordered camp set up for the night.
Casey was sitting beside Daniel, picking at the MRE she had opened. "Just once I wish I would get one that tasted like something besides chicken. Everything tastes like chicken. Which then begs the question, what does the chicken taste like?" Her companions laughed softly.
Sam yawned. "Okay, who takes first watch?"
Casey drew first watch, and settled back against a fallen log, watching the fire as it burned down. She smiled when she heard Daniel snoring softly in their tent. Jack was doing his fair share of snoring as well.
She stood and stretched, walked around the camp, careful to make as little noise as possible. She pulled her night vision goggles out of her pack and put them on, checked the area that surrounded the camp as well as she could.
She heard small animals, at least that’s what she assumed they were, scurrying in the heavy undergrowth, although she was never able to catch sight of them.
Her P90 griped firmly in her hand, she sat back down, leaned against the log. Her mind was filled with thoughts of her last mission, and of Daniel’s mission before that. Her heart turned over in her chest when she thought about all that they had been through. If she never saw another Goa’uld as long as she lived, it would be just fine with her.
A glance at her watch told her it was time to make another round of the camp. She started a pot of coffee. It was actually very peaceful here. She wasn’t getting any bad or negative feelings. That was good, she told herself. Still, there was something about this place. Not bad…just…odd.
Tomorrow they would try and find a way inside the pyramid. She thought about how excited Daniel had been as he had translated as many of the glyphs as he could. He could be so darn cute when he raced around, trying to see everything at once. Like a kid in a candy store. She smiled.
She raised to her knees when she heard a twig snap near the edge of camp. She pulled her goggles back on, saw nothing. When she took them off, however, she saw an old woman standing just on the other side of the fire.
The woman stared at her.
"Uh, hello," Casey said softly. She slowly stood to her feet.
There was no response.
"Uh, Daniel?" She called softly. "Jack? Teal'c? Sam? Uh...guys, we have a visitor. Grab your night shades and join us, will you?"
She could hear her teammates stirring.
"Please, we don’t mean any harm, don’t be afraid," Casey said softly
By now, Daniel was beside her, Teal'c on his way to her side.
"That’s…interesting," Daniel noted, taking off his night vision goggles.
"Isn’t it just, though," Casey replied.
"Hello," Daniel said. He moved slowly toward the woman.
Still there was no reply, although she was watching them all carefully. Teal'c was the first to notice that there were others, standing just outside of the circle of tents.
"It appears that we are surrounded," he said after careful observation.
"Good news, T, I want to hear the good news," Jack said.
"None of them appear to be armed," the Jaffa replied.
"That’s a start," Jack said.
"Please, don’t be frightened," Daniel said, using the only dialect of Mayan that he knew. He was standing in front of the woman now. "We’re explorers from far away. We come in peace."
As suddenly and as silently as she had appeared the woman, and all those who had surrounded them, were…gone.
"Well that was weird," Sam said.
"You must have said the right thing, Danny," Jack said. He glanced at his watch. "Okay, I’ve got it from here. Get some sleep campers. I’ll let you know if our friends come back."
Casey stripped to her panties and tee shirt, crawled into the sleeping bags, snuggled up to Daniel. "What do you think it was? Apparitions? Mass hallucinations?"
"I don’t know, babe. We’ll find out more tomorrow. Sleep now, Angel," he said, his arm pulling her close.
She didn’t have to be told twice.
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