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Three young archaeological graduate students were arriving on Gamma, after a two-month investigation into their backgrounds. All three had been approved, and Daniel was thrilled to finally be getting more help at the Center.
Duncan thought it only appropriate that the Head of the Archaeological Center of Gamma be on hand to greet the new arrivals. Daniel stood, his arms crossed in front of him, Casey at his side, at his request. The 'gate activated, and a few minutes later the three walked down the ramp, their eyes wide and full of awe. He couldn’t help but grin. "Welcome to Gamma. I'm Doctor Daniel Jackson."
Casey looked at the young woman and smiled. "Hello again, Ms. Miller. Welcome to Gamma."
Stephanie Miller beamed at the blonde woman, her green eyes shining with delight. "Wow! You remember me?"
"Of course," Casey laughed. "It wasn't that long ago!"
"I'm Todd Lansing," said a tall young man with bushy brown hair and a beard to match. Daniel shook his hand.
"I am Ramir Jahareed," said a thin, young man with the black hair and dark complexion of an Indian. He wore glasses almost identical to Daniel's. He shook Daniel's hand shyly.
"I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to be putting you to work right away. President MacLeod has already taken care of your accommodations, you'll have rooms in the barracks as long as you want. Your bags will be taken there now, and we'll take you to the Center," Daniel said.
"Cool!" Todd replied.
"What exactly will our duties be?" Ramir asked.
"Mostly cataloguing, at least to begin with." Daniel led them toward the corridor, and ultimately the elevator.
"Oh, wow!" Stephanie exclaimed when she saw the Egyptian hieroglyphics on the wall. She stopped and studied it for a moment. "This looks like…a list of names?"
Casey smiled. "That's because it is. Every Goa'uld that the SGC has defeated is listed here."
"Awesome," Todd murmured. "There are a lot of them, aren't there?"
"Not enough," Daniel replied.
"Don't worry, Doctor Jackson, we'll get them all yet," Stephanie declared.
Daniel laughed. "That's what Casey keeps saying."
"Well, we will!" Casey grinned. "Goa'uld free zone. We'll party for weeks."
"I like the sound of that," Todd grinned.
"Which part, the Goa'uld free zone, or the partying?" Stephanie asked, her eyes flashing mischievously.
Todd flushed slightly. "A little of both, I guess," he admitted.
The young people were overwhelmed at what glimpses they had of the complex as they made their way to the elevator. Once topside, they were awed by the size of the Center. Daniel introduced them to the Whitmans, and Terry and Mike. Casey parted company with them, and went up to the office to finish work on a translation.
It was on the tour of the facility that the magnitude of job began to impact on the students. "This is a lot of stuff!" Todd said, his voice, and face, expressing his astonishment.
"We should have had more archaeologists a couple of years ago," Daniel admitted. "But things were pretty tense between Earth and Gamma at the time."
"Still are, from what I hear on the news," Stephanie said.
"If there are tensions, it's on that side right now," Daniel told her.
Ramir had stopped, fascinated by a group of statues. "These are fantastic! This looks like the goddess Radha!"
Daniel smiled, and crossed his arms over his chest. "Tell me about Radha," he said quietly.
The young man flushed, looked down at his feet, then up at the man who was his boss. "I'm sure you know all about her," he stammered.
"I'm sure I do, too. But Stephanie and Todd may not, and I want to hear what you know about her."
Ramir nodded, adjusted his glasses. "Radha is known as she who is 'loved by many': She's the Hindu-Goddess of sexuality. She's also known as Rati, as well as being known under the name Ragalata, the 'Vine of Love'. She's an Indian goddess of love, passion, desire, and pleasure; she is more or less the Indian equivalent to Greek Aphrodite; and the female counterpart to Kama, the god of Love. Rati is also a member of the Apsaras, and her name occurs as well among the 28 Flesh-Eating Goddesses of the Bardo Thödol.
"In Hindu mythology, She is a milkmaid, the beloved of Krisha. She is an incarnation of Lakshmi, he an incarnation of Vishnu.
"She's the goddess whose 'sexual secrets' have been described in the Ratirahyasa, a medieval text that has become better known as the Koka Shastra," Ramir took a deep breath, noting that Dr. Jackson looked neither impressed nor disappointed. "In this work, the name Rati appears also in terms used for sexual techniques and positions. One example of this is ratipasa, the 'noose of Rati', a position in which the woman locks her legs behind her partner's back.
"On the Indonesian island of Bali, Rati is often depicted as a dark, demonic figure with huge and pointed breasts, a fact that is interpreted by some writers as a sign of 'aggressiveness'." He looked over at Daniel.
The Immortal archaeologist was tapping a finger against his lips. "You memorize quite well. Try to put things into your own words as often as possible. And when you're giving a briefing, be sure to make the information complete, but as concise as possible."
The three students exchanged nervous glances.
"Briefings?" Todd asked.
"There will be times when you'll be asked to give information that we have on a 'god' from mythology to SGCI teams in an attempt to understand the Goa'uld who uses that name, and is most probably the 'god' that the myth speaks of," Daniel explained. "Come on, I'm going to have Mike get you started. I have some work I need to complete for a mission that starts tonight."
"Doctor Jackson, will we be going on any digs on alien planets?" Stephanie asked. She couldn't believe her good fortune! She was standing on Gamma, beside the Dr. Daniel Jackson! And oh dear god are his eyes blue! She tried not to think about how good he smelled.
He had to smile at her eagerness. "I hope so. For right now, though, we have such a backlog of artifacts, I need you here, working hard to get as much catalogued and translated as possible. There will be times that I'm going to ask you to search for specific things…it will be hard, boring, frustrating work," he warned.
"Better than doing classroom work," Todd mumbled.
"I'll ask you about that in a month or two," Daniel promised with a grin.
A A A A A A
Casey was in the office, working on a translation from one of the tablets taken from artifacts of a planet controlled at one time by Nergal. From everything she had found, the man was brutal, sadistic, vengeful…just plain old evil. She found another reference to his 'rest in the cradle of his power'. She looked up when Daniel came in the room. "Have them working already?"
"Yep. They all seemed eager to get started, too."
"Yeah, well, as soon as the 'new and shiny' wears off, they won't be so eager," she predicted with a smile.
"Probably." He looked over her shoulder. "What's this?"
"More from that crate of stuff about Nergal. I have found seven notations on his resting in the 'cradle of his power'. I'm thinking sarcophagus."
"I agree, that's what it sounds like."
"Then this guy uses it like a tanning bed. At least once a day."
"Damn! No wonder he's an egomaniac!" Daniel exclaimed.
She knew of Daniel's addiction to a sarcophagus during one of SG-1's first missions. He had been reluctant to tell her about it, and the other addictions to alien devices that occurred over the years. He had seen them as signs of weakness in his character. She had seen them as the dangers of the work they did, and told him so. "Addicted to it?"
"Without a doubt."
She ran her fingers through her hair, then smiled. "Let's hope he only has one, and we can blow it up, let him go through DT's and morph into dust!"
He laughed. "If he uses it at least once a day, I'm betting he has more than one. Probably one in his palace, and one on his ship. It's possible he might even have others."
"Yeah, that figures. This bastard is not going to go down easy," she said apprehensively.
"But he will go down, Angel," he said. He reached out and ran his fingers over her cheek. He was well aware of how terrified his wife was of this particular Goa'uld. And that worried him.
She shivered. "I know. But it won't happen soon enough for me!"
Daniel glanced at his watch. "Let's go home and have lunch with the kids. Then we have a briefing," he said softly.
Casey stood up, pressed her body against his, and wrapped her arms around him. Once again that feeling of dread washed over her. "Just hold me for a minute?"
He pulled her close, held her tightly. He could feel the tremors that went through her slender frame. "Case? Anything we should talk about?"
She shook her head. There was no specific 'feeling', no definite threat. Just an overwhelming sense of panic, darkness…dread. "No, Sweetheart. I'm just nervous about this mission, I guess. I hate being separated from you. It…oh, god Daniel, it scares me to death not being with you!"
"Shh…I know, babe. I don't like it either. Say the word, Case, and I'll take Wade's place as Methos' lo'taur."
She shook her head again. "You can't, Daniel. You have to be on the Persephone, after us. It has to be this way." That was the only thing she was certain of. That, and something was going to go wrong. She just didn't know what, when, or how bad. And that even with that unnerving knowledge, this mission had to happen.
"You know I'm always right there with you, all you have to do is reach out to me."
"I know." She reached toward him right then, let her love wash over him, smiled when she felt his love returned, wrapping itself around her like a warm blanket.
"Better?" he asked softly.
"Much. Let's go have lunch with our babies," she replied, her voice barely above a whisper.
A A A A A A
They picked Emily up from preschool, listened as the toddler told them about the exciting things she had done that day, including finger painting. Casey had been worried that she was too young, wouldn't like preschool, but the child was having the time of her life, and was already working with the four year old group.
Erin had fixed lunch for them, and they sat on the deck and ate. She watched her daughter, could tell that something was bothering her. "Casey, are you all right?"
"I’m fine, Mom, really. I just hate going on 'open-ended' missions. I like knowing how long I'm going to be gone," Casey replied, forcing a smile.
Daniel exchanged a glance with his mother-in-law. Both were well aware that something was indeed bothering the seer. She either didn't know for certain what it was, or had chosen not to tell them. He hoped that it was the former, the latter was too disturbing to consider. The thought that his Wife might be hiding something…bad…worried him. But both were also well aware of the fact that to push her would only make her angry.
Too soon, she thought, as they hugged Emily one last time before going back to the base. I have to leave my babies too soon, I'm not ready yet! She cuddled Nicholas, kissed his chubby cheeks again and again, whispered her love in his little ear. "I love you, Emily Rose," she whispered as she hugged her daughter again. "Don't you ever forget that, okay? Mommy loves you very much."
"Wuv you, Mommy," Emily replied, hugging Casey's neck tightly.
She was near tears as she climbed back into the jeep. She willed herself to be strong, told herself that what she was doing was keeping both of her babies safe. She stared at the house as they pulled away, the feeling that she would never see it again growing stronger with each passing minute. She knew that with one word, Duncan would call off the mission, and that would be the end of their involvement in getting the local System Lords in an Alliance against Nergal. The need to defeat Nergal was more important than her desire to give in to her fears.
A A A A A A
Methos, Casey, and Wade were going to gate to the 'home planet' of System Lord Methos, and ring to the Phoenix. Sam and Becca were going to follow about an hour later, and ring to the Hak'tyl, leaving within an hour of oldest Immortal.
Daniel, Jack, and Teal'c…along with SG-6…would ring directly to the Persephone, which would then move into position near the meeting place designated for the new Alliance members to come together. Security was going to be tight, and there were the usual worries.
Casey battled her fear, the knowledge that Nergal had to be defeated the mantra that she ran through her mind. She shook her head when Duncan asked her if she had anything to add to the briefing. He studied her for a minute, then nodded.
"Okay, SG-1 and 6, go get geared up and head on out. Methos, your group leaves in forty-five. Sam, you and Becca leave in an hour and a half," Duncan said. "Let's do this, people."
Casey helped Daniel gear up, Sam helped Jack. When they walked to the 'gate room, she was nearly overcome with grief. She hugged him tightly, clinging to his neck. "I love you, Daniel. Forever and ever. With all my heart. You're my Beloved."
Her words worried him. They were too similar to the words he had used before going on that mission against Neferteri. "I love you, too, Angel. Forever and ever, with all my heart. You're my Beloved, my Chosen." He kissed her, and once again she returned the caress as if it were the last time she would ever do so. "Say the word, and we stop this thing," he whispered.
She shook her head. "I love you," she whispered softly, hugging him tightly one last time.
"I love you, Angel. I'll be there if you need me. Just call for me."
"I know…I will." She stepped away, blew him a kiss just before he and the others were ringed up. She held back her tears until she reached his office. Then she cried as if her heart were breaking.
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