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Deceptions and Illusions
The entire team, and Duncan MacLeod, stood in the control room, waiting for the MALP telemetry. Sam was sitting at the computer, Troy beside her. "Here it comes," Sam announced.
They all held their breath. The first view was promising. No Jaffa…no Kull warriors in sight. Sam turned the camera, panning a full 360 degrees. Nothing. Just the brush and the hint of the cliffs that lay just beyond the 'gate.
"Okay, do we take the ATV's or not?" Jack asked.
"Nothing like announcing our arrival," Casey replied, biting back a grin when Jack rolled his eyes.
Sam nodded. "Sorry, Jack, Casey's right. The noise generated by the engines would arrive almost a full two minutes before we would. In a situation like this we'd be at risk of ambush at every turn."
"There are several places along the road from the Stargate to the ruins that would be quite advantageous for an ambush," Teal'c said.
"Oy. That means a couple of days of walking to those ruins."
"He's not that far ahead of us, and he's still in pretty bad shape," Daniel said. "With luck we can overtake him and be back here before anyone who might still be in that city notices us."
"That's if he didn't run straight into Goa'uld arms," Jack reminded him.
"There aren't guards there now, maybe there weren't when he went through," Daniel replied.
Duncan frowned, looked at Casey. "Tell us what you see, Case."
She reached out, felt Daniel's fingers close around hers…the warmth, the strength of that familiar hand always meant safety to her. She smiled at him, then closed her eyes. She caressed him just before she moved away from that meadow. Her smile became a frown as she moved closer to the ruins. "Oh, shit!"
Jack rolled his eyes. "I knew it!"
"They're…celebrating…I think…I see…" she shuddered. "There're going to be sacrifices. And it looks like they might already have him."
She moved closer, carefully concealed her presence. Inching her way forward, she followed a group of warriors, at least they looked like warriors, into the cavern. They approached a tall woman with raven black hair. Her dark eyes glittered as they knelt before her. Casey could barely make out what was being said, and she certainly didn't understand the language. She tried her best to repeat it just as she heard it, knowing that Daniel might be able to translate. The woman suddenly looked around the cavern, and Casey froze when it felt as if the woman's dark eyes focused on her. She pulled away quickly, clung to Daniel in that meadow, waited to see if she had been followed. She felt nothing. Taking a deep breath, she returned to the cavern. The raven-haired woman was still looking around, but didn't seem to sense her now. With a silent sigh of relief she left the cavern, keeping her eye on the woman who seemed to be a priestess as she retreated.
When she opened her eyes, she began shivering.
"Casey?" Daniel asked softly,
"Better stick around awhile," she said quietly. "I'm not sure, but I think that priestess knew I was there."
In a sunny meadow Daniel's arms tightened around his Wife, and he scanned around them carefully, looking for any sign of trouble, any intruders that might be lurking in the shadows.
"What else did you see?" Duncan asked.
"He's a prisoner. They're moving him to the ruins," she replied.
"I'll need an audio copy of this," Daniel said. "Specifically what Casey said while she was looking."
Troy nodded. "Should have it for you in about three minutes."
Daniel nodded. "Now what?"
Duncan looked at the faces of SG-1. "Now you go rescue the rat bastard. So he can stand trial."
A A A A A A
Daniel and Casey stopped in the infirmary. Erin had already arrived. One look at her daughter's face was all Erin needed to know that she was feeling torn and angry. She opened her arms, and Casey walked into the embrace.
"Oh, Mom, what do I do? What if Nicholas has to have an abscess drained? He'll be terrified! I should be here! But I can't let Daniel leave without me, I just can't! If something happens-" she shook her head.
"Is there perhaps a way for Doctor Montigue to check again to see if there is any danger of one of these abscesses forming?"
"I don't know," Casey said softly. She took comfort in her mother's arms. Marveled that at age forty she finally had a mother to comfort her!
"My darling, I will be here with Nicholas. You know that I will allow nothing to harm him," Erin said, her voice soft, soothing. "I can see nothing…dark…around him. Your son will be fine. By the time you return, he will be digging new holes in the yard."
Casey giggled. "Thank you. I needed to hear that."
"I know," Erin whispered. "Now, stay with your son while you can. I think I would like a cup of coffee. Shall I bring some for you when I return?"
"Yes, please." Casey hugged her mother tightly, then stepped away from her, watched her leave the infirmary. She looked over at Daniel. He was leaning against the wall, his hands in his pockets, a small smile on his lips. "What?"
He shook his head. "I remember the day we met them. You couldn't believe they were your parents."
She smiled. "I don't know what I'd do without them," she said softly.
"I know, Angel. I'm glad they're here, that they're a part of your life, of our lives. I'm glad you let them in."
"Me, too." She sat down on the edge of the bed, gently brushed baby fine blonde hair from Nicholas' forehead. When Daniel sat down beside her, she slipped her other hand into his. The gentle pressure he applied to her fingers helped to calm her, and she tightened her hold on him.
"Babe, I need to see if I can translate what you heard. You stay here with your Mom and Nicholas. I'll stop for you when it's time for the briefing."
She turned and looked at him. "I love you," she whispered.
"I love you, too." He stood up, kissed her gently, began to move away from her, held to her fingers until the last second. He stopped at the door. Smiled when she blew a kiss to him. He 'caught' it, and blew one back. None of this would be happening, none of it…if he hadn't hired Steven Rayner, he thought, berating himself as he walked toward his office. See what your petty spitefulness has caused? his brain asked. Just shut the fuck up, he replied wearily.
A A A A A A
"Near as I can tell, it's a form of ancient Phoenician. And you aren't going to like what this priestess had to say," Daniel told them during the briefing.
"I don't like any of this, let's not change anything now," Jack grumbled.
"Dagon is looking for a new host."
Groans filled the room. "You don't think he'd choose Rayner, do you?" Duncan asked.
Daniel turned to Teal'c. "Knowing what you do about the process, how likely is it that he would be chosen?"
Teal'c frowned slightly. "If there is a limited supply of suitable hosts, and…raids…to procure such hosts have not been conducted, then having a human appear at such a time would be considered an omen of good fortune. In spite of his character flaws, which do not matter at all, and his current physical condition, which can be cured by time in a sarcophagus, Steven Rayner would be looked upon favorably."
"That's what I was afraid of," Duncan replied. "Okay, people, we see if we can get him out. You're taking SG6 and Marine 2. Brief 'em in the 'gate room. I'll call them in right now."
Casey looked at Daniel. "Don't you dare blame yourself for this!" she said softly.
"It is my fault," he replied, his gaze focused on the hastily compiled report in front of him.
"Bullshit!" Jack said. "You said he was a good archaeologist. You had no way of knowing he was crazy."
"You told me that of all of the applications you've received so far, he was the most qualified," Casey said, taking his hand and holding it with both of hers.
"He was," Daniel admitted.
"So like Jack said, you had no idea he was so-"
"Crazy," Jack said.
"Let's go get his sorry ass," Sam said, standing to her feet. "So he can pay for what he did to Casey."
"Indeed," Teal'c agreed.
Daniel let Casey pull him to his feet. He tugged her hand, wrapped his arms around her when she was close enough. "Thank you," he whispered.
"Any time," she whispered in reply. She pulled away just far enough to be able to look in his eyes. "When we get back, there's something I want to try…in the supply closet."
"Oh, there is, is there?" he said. He chuckled at the wicked smile that covered her face.
"Mmmhmm. It involves you, me, a wall, and that anaconda of yours." She pulled away, sauntered down the corridor, her hips swaying gently. There, that should give him something to think about, rather than blaming himself for that rat bastard's actions. And she really did have an idea…fantasy sort of thing actually. She was sure that Daniel would be willing to oblige her.
He shivered with anticipation, a grin on his face. God what the woman could do to him! More than likely it was an attempt to get his mind off of his guilt. And, happily, it was working. A wall, huh? Interesting.
A A A A A A
The MALP showed that the area around the 'gate was still clear of hostiles. The teams went through, and Sam took enough time to send the MALP home. The machines were too expensive to lose, and if they came back under fire, there wouldn't be enough time to send it then.
"Okay campers, here's the deal. Rayner managed to get himself captured by the freaking Goa'uld who showed up here just before we left. There's a chance that this Dragon…"
"Dagon," Daniel murmured.
"Anyway, this snake-head might be looking to make a host of Rayner. Now personally, I think the little shit deserves it. But, I don't want the Goa'uld getting their hands on any info about the SGC or Gamma. So we're gonna go get his sorry ass, and drag it back to Gamma." He looked around. "Turk, you and the boys have our six. Teal'c, you and I are on point. The rest of you keep your eyes open."
They began to move away from the 'gate, choosing to follow the path for the time being. They could always hide in the brush if they heard the approach of the enemy. The downside to that was the fact that Kull warriors made very little noise when they moved. They could only do their best. Jack and Duncan had already decided that if the target was too hot, they bugged out and left him. He didn't have any strategic or classified information about the SGC or Gamma that could cause them any heartburn. It was the principal of the thing. He was human, and in spite of what Jack had said, neither he nor Duncan wanted the Goa'uld getting their hands on him. Besides, they wanted his sorry ass back to stand trial.
Casey moved as far away from the edge of the cliff as possible when the path narrowed. Daniel was able to walk beside her, keeping his body between her and that terrifying drop off. Her grip was tight on her P90, she wished that she could hold his hand. Both of them, however, were well aware that right now they had to remain alert and ready to fire. The few seconds it would take to let go of one another and grab their weapons could mean life and death. Rat bastard, she thought angrily. If he had just…what…not applied to come to Gamma? Yeah, that was a good start. She understood that Dr. Steven Rayner had applied for the position for one reason, to try to best Daniel. She should have let Daniel kill the jackass!
Daniel glanced at his Wife, almost grinned. It was tempting to tell Jack to let her take point. She was so angry at the moment that anybody foolish enough to cross her wasn't going to survive the encounter. He knew that she was worried about Nicholas, wanted to be with her son. Hell, that's where he wanted to be as well! Not chasing after Rayner. The entire situation, he knew, was his fault. He never should have hired the bastard. He had known, without a doubt, when he first looked at the email from Steven, what that man had wanted. A chance to show him up. To prove that Dr. Steven Rayner was still on the top, still more…accepted…than Dr. Daniel Jackson. It must have made Steven livid to watch him rise from obscurity, his once laughed at theories proven to be true. They had always been rivals, from the first time Dr. Jordan introduced them in his office. Daniel could still remember the look of anger that had flashed in those dark eyes when Dr. Jordan had informed Steven that he would be assisting Daniel. He had expected at least equal footing. The rivalry, the battle between them for…dominance…had begun that day.
The day was warm; thankfully the sun had already reached its zenith. With luck it would get no hotter than it was now. The three teams moved quickly, quietly along the well-worn path. When Jack held a fist up, then pointed to the brush at the side of the road, they hurried to find cover. Dressed in cammies, the Tau'ri seemed to vanish from sight.
'Take a look, Angel.'
She nodded, reached for his hand. She already knew that the physical contact wasn't absolutely necessary. It did, however, offer her comfort. And in a situation like this, that comfort was most welcome. She closed her eyes, already firmly surrounded by his arms, his love, in that sunny meadow. Rising slowly above the grass, she looked around carefully, uncertain as to whether or not there was a seer looking at them. She reached out, searched carefully. She felt no one, so she moved more quickly toward the ruins. She hadn't gone far when she saw them. Now wasn't that just lovely! Casey keyed her radio. "Jack?" she whispered.
"There's a patrol on the way. I think they're heading for the 'gate. Chances are we're going to meet up sometime after sunset."
"Shit! Okay. We have one unfriendly coming this way. Daniel, I want you to take him out quietly."
"Got it," Daniel replied.
"When this guy is out," Jack's voice continued softly, "we keep moving. We're gonna double time it for awhile. I remember a spot we might be able to use to ambush them. Heads up, he should be here in five."
It seemed to be hours before the Jaffa loped past their positions. He seemed oblivious to the fact that there were twelve people hidden among the brush at the side of the path. When he reached Daniel's position, the archaeologist stood up.
Before the surprised Jaffa could respond, a blue ball of flames exploded in the middle of his chest. He looked down, his mouth working, but no sound emerging. He dropped to his knees, looked up at Daniel, then fell to his face.
Turk and Haberman were on their feet, and dragged the dead man into the brush. He was covered as much as possible in the few seconds that they had to spare. Jack was already signaling, and the teams began to jog up the path.
Fueled by adrenaline, the teams made it to a place where the path narrowed sharply, in record time. Ridges rose on either side, one cliff nearly twenty feet above the narrow dirt trail. Jack signaled again, and the teams began to position themselves. Now they would wait. They could only hope that the patrol didn't know that their advance scout was out for the count. And that this patrol wouldn't be missed for a day or so.
Casey lifted a bottle of water to her lips, drank greedily, then handed it to Daniel. He emptied it, flattened the plastic bottle and stuck it back in her pack.
'Doing okay, Angel?'
'I guess so. I'm worried about Nicholas.'
'I am, too. He'll be okay. Your Mom is there. We'll be home in just a day or so.'
She reached out and slid her fingers against his, sighed when they tightened around her hand. Waiting was the most difficult part of any battle. She sighed again, shifted to find a more comfortable position. The tense anticipation that filled her heart now would seem restful when the fighting started. She shook her head mentally. If they managed to get to Rayner in time, she was going to smack the crap out of him!
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