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Dance of the Heart
It took three weeks, but word reached SGC Gamma that Zinder was on his way back to Alteria. SG-1, accompanied by SG-6 and SGI-3 would return to the planet. Daniel had managed to get enough robes for both teams, in order to blend in among the natives. They wore the robes over their BDUs, so that if need be they could be taken off.
Dr. Montigue, with Sam’s help, had researched what Dr. Fraiser had been able to learn about Hathor, and had created an antidote to the 'Hathor drug'. Each of the men was injected; and Casey, Sam and Becca were given enough of the antidote between them to inject each man twice.
A search of the spaceport was disappointing, Zinder had not yet arrived. All they could do was wait. They chose to stay in the village rather than one of the resorts, and the team members all teased Casey about the lack of room service.
Daniel was able to meet and befriend several of the villagers, and discovered that things were not as they seemed on this planet. According to one of the village elders, the people of Alteria had been there for thousands of years, brought through the Great Eye by their god, although their written history, which was a recent development, had no record the name of this god; the passage of time had erased that name from the memory of the people. When water had been found under the rocky desert surface of the planet, a group of ‘business men’ had decided to build resorts there, a place where anyone could come, and conduct ‘business’…no questions asked. The villagers were needed for ‘atmosphere’. They were treated little better than slaves. The man who had started the resorts was none other than Framone.
"Well, that fruitcake was certainly busy!" Casey declared. "Killing the First Immortals, destroying the Immortal Council, setting up a false Game for the Second Race of Immortals, oppressing villagers…sheesh!"
"Typical snake," Jack said.
She nodded. "Very typical."
"It seems that Zinder is taking over where Framone left off," Jack continued.
"Never any lack of bad guys to take over when one falls, huh, general," Major Parker grumbled.
"Seems like, major," Jack agreed.
The radio on the table in front of them squawked to life. "Three-India-niner to one-niner, come in."
Jack grabbed the radio. "This is one-niner, go ahead."
"We have eyeballs on the bad guy, general. He just landed. According to the locals, he’s not going to receive a warm welcome. Orders?"
"Keep that eyeball on him. If he moves, let us know."
"Keep eyeball on the bad guy, roger that. Will advise if he moves. Three-India-niner out."
Becca was with the Immortal team, and had been instructed to shoot the men if necessary to keep them from falling under Doria Olmstead’s ‘spell’. The men knew exactly what she looked like, and had orders to ‘duck and cover’ if she came near them. With luck she wouldn’t leave the ship, as far as they knew, she hadn’t the last time.
SG-1 and 6 geared up, and headed into the night. Daniel had explained to the villagers that the teams were there to stop Zinder, and somehow it had become translated that the teams were there to free them. If it was possible, SG-1 would certainly try. Getting rid of Zinder seemed like a good first step.
The teams met up on the docks, but so far, Zinder hadn’t made a move…the ramp hadn’t even been lowered. They waited tensely for nearly an hour, then watched as the ship’s engines came online, and the craft began to rise. It disappeared, leaving the SG teams frustrated.
Daniel was able to explain how to dial the Stargate…and how to send a message…to the group of villagers determined to win their social and economic freedom from those who held control on Alteria. This group of ‘freedom fighters’ would let SGC Gamma know the minute that Zinder returned.
Information on Zinder was difficult to find. Jacob Carter had reported that they had heard nothing of him since his last appearance on Alteria. Jonas Quinn reported that there had been no requests of trade from any new person or group in over six months on Langara. While they waited for word, other missions were waiting.
A A A A A A
The team stepped through the ‘gate, looked around. They were on PR3 569, and standing in a…museum. Casey shuddered. She remembered another gate, another museum, and the nightmare that had followed. Daniel glanced at her, took her hand, squeezed her fingers comfortingly.
The oversized room they were in was filled with what appeared to be artifacts from ancient Egypt. They stepped down from the ‘gate and over the low barrier that surrounded it, obviously meant to keep visitors from touching it.
There were spotlights on each of the displays, and Daniel was already photographing them, exclaiming over the similarities between these pieces and those of Earth. They wandered through the museum, getting a feel for the people of the planet they were now on.
"I haven’t seen any sign of security guards," Jack said softly. "Let’s see if we can find an office or something. Daniel, you know about these places…lead the way."
Daniel nodded, headed for the stairs at the side of the large entrance hall of the building. They went up, found three more display rooms, but no offices. A check of the lower floors also ended with no results.
"So, do we just sit here by the door and wait for somebody to come in?" Sam asked as they gathered once again in the entrance gallery.
Teal'c and Jack looked out of the plate glass doors to the street outside. There were several other buildings, all of them the same style of architecture, seemed to be the same size. But there were no signs of life.
"Let’s take a look around out there," Jack said. After opening the door, Sam taped it carefully, so that the lock couldn't catch, making it possible for them to get back inside.
Investigation of each building proved quite interesting. Each building seemed to be dedicated to a specific period of time during the planet’s history. What they found baffled them. The civilization had developed, grew, became industrialized…identical to Earth's progression it seemed…and then - nothing. It was as if the civilization had simply ceased to exist.
They had remained on the paved paths that led from one building to another, but noticed that there was no path leading away from the enclave, at least, not a discernable one. The buildings seemed to be in the middle of…nowhere. There was nothing else around. Teal'c found what could have been a trail, one that led into a heavily forested area.
They stood looking into the dimly lit forest. "Well," Jack said, adjusting his pack. "Let’s take a little hike, shall we?"
The team members cast glances at Casey from time to time, but didn’t see any signs of impending danger on her face. She wasn't feeling any danger, nothing that felt like a 'warning'. She was, however, feeling…odd.
They had been walking for about an hour when Casey requested a stop for rest. She sank down to the soft ground, leaned back against a tree. She felt nauseous, and her head was beginning to hurt. She glanced at the faces around her, noticed that Jack looked a bit pale.
"I don’t feel so good," she said softly.
"Me, either," Jack admitted quietly, dropping to the ground across from her.
"Yep. Like the flu."
Daniel, Sam and Teal'c exchanged glances. They knew that it was possible for Immortals to become ill, but usually the Quickening prevented any serious illness, and caused any discomforts from ‘minor’ ailments to pass quickly.
"Are you guys feeling okay?" Jack asked, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, trying not to throw up.
"I’m fine, Jack," Sam said, her face full of worry as she held a hand against her husband’s face.
"Me, too," Daniel said.
"As am I," Teal'c added.
Casey lost her battle with nausea, and began to heave. Daniel held her braid out of the way, gently rubbed her back.
"Jack, I think we need to get you and Casey back to Gamma," Sam said softly.
The gray haired man nodded weakly. "May need some help," he admitted. Teal'c helped him to his feet, a muscular arm wrapped around his waist. Jack threw his arm over the Jaffa’s shoulders and leaned heavily against him.
Casey tried to stand, became faint, nearly passed out. Daniel scooped her into his arms.
Sam’s mind was racing at the implications. Only Jack and Casey seemed to be affected. What did the two have in common that would result in them being susceptible to whatever…illness…they had been exposed to? Blood type? Had they eaten the same thing for breakfast? She shook her head, something nagging at the back of her mind. Dr. Montigue would be able to tell her, she was sure of it. Her hands were shaking as she dialed the DHD. It had been a long time since any of them had been ill. And from the looks of the two, they were very ill, indeed.
She was the first through the gate, called for a med team. Jack and Casey were put onto gurneys and taken to the infirmary. Neither were coherent, and both were burning with fever. Dr. Montigue immediately took blood samples, then sent both for MRI’s and CT scans.
Daniel sat beside the bed Casey was lying in, holding her hand, smoothing soft blonde hair from her face. One of the nurses brought a basin of cool water and a cloth, Daniel smiled and took it from her. "I’ll do it," he said softly. He dipped the cloth in the water, squeezed the excess from it, and gently wiped her face. Her cheeks were flushed, beads of perspiration stood out against her skin.
"Daniel?" Her voice was soft…weak. It was the first time she had tried to speak since arriving back on Gamma.
"I’m right here, Angel," he replied quietly. He tenderly pressed the cool cloth to her forehead.
"I feel lousy."
"I know, babe. Doc is working on it." So far all of the tests had shown nothing amiss. They were waiting for the results of two of the blood tests.
Two hours after their arrival back on Gamma, three Immortals who had been in the ‘gate room when the team came through were brought in with the same symptoms. Dr. Montigue convinced Duncan to seal off the mountain. The base was now in quarantine, and the doctor feared he had a real epidemic on his hands. His fears were confirmed when more Immortals were brought into the infirmary, Duncan among them.
"I don’t understand why the three of you weren’t affected as well," Montigue said, dropping wearily onto a chair near the beds where Jack and Casey were laying, both unconscious by this time.
"So far it only seems to be affecting Immortals," Sam said, wiping Jack’s face gently with a damp cloth.
"I’ll know more when I get the results of those blood tests."
"That may take awhile, doctor," one of the nurses said as she approached. "Both of the lab techs are sick now."
Montigue shook his head. "Okay, I need mortals in here, now. I need the best and the fastest. Contact General Hammond at Alpha. Tell them we have a situation here."
The nurse nodded, hurried to carry out the doctor’s instructions.
"Teal'c, could you stay with Case while I call Erin and let her know what’s happening?" Daniel asked his friend.
"Indeed." The large man stepped closer to Casey’s bed, took her hand in his.
Three hours later, every Immortal in the mountain, including Dr. Montigue, was seriously ill. Casey and Jack, having been the first to contact and contract the illness…disease, had been comatose most of that time.
Casey was the first to die. Daniel waited for her to reanimate. After an hour, she still hadn’t. Phone conversations with the Immortal Council led to the conclusion that Thor would be called, and they would request cryogenic chambers for each of the now dying Immortals. They could then be kept in stasis until a cure was found.
A A A A A A
Daniel had finally gone to his office. He was exhausted. And terrified. He had come so close to losing her several times in the past year and a half. Would this be the one from which there would be no miracle return? His gut ached, his heart clenched at the thought. He was holding one of the photos of her and Emily that sat on the credenza behind his desk. "I need you, Angel. Please don’t leave me," he whispered.
Someone tapped hesitantly on the door. He looked up, saw Sam standing there, her eyes puffy and red-rimmed from crying. Jack had died within an hour of Casey. "Could you use some company?" she asked.
"Yeah, I could," he replied softly.
Sam entered the room, sank down on the chair in front of the desk. "Duncan just died. Kyle went a few minutes before."
Daniel nodded. "What has Dr. Williams found?"
"So far the connection seems to be their Immortality."
"What about Jack, and us?"
"Ancient genes. We knew that Jack had them. We don’t. I didn’t put it together soon enough, I guess. Thor just contacted us, he’ll be taking the first group up as soon as he arrives."
Another nod. "They’ll figure it out, Sam," he said softly.
"I hope so," she replied, just as a tear escaped and made it’s way down her cheek.
Daniel stood up and went to her, pulled her into his arms. The two friends stood hugging, drawing comfort and strength from one another. "I talked to Aaron. He and Oma are researching the planet we were on, trying to find out what they can about it. He asked General Hammond to send a mortal team there for air and dirt samples."
"Let’s just hope they find the answer soon. I miss him," she whispered.
"I know, Sam. I miss Casey, too."
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