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Deceptions and Illusions
Steven sat nervously at the conference table. He was unsure why he was the only other archaeologist from the Center accompanying Daniel, and SG-1 of course, on this mission. He didn't know whether to be suspicious or grateful. Was it a test, or a peace offering? He watched as Daniel selected several graphics from the computer, transferred them to the screen on the wall, and began his presentation.
"We're looking at the Goa'uld symbols for 'Dagon'," he said, pointing to a picture of hieroglyphs on a wall in what appeared to be a temple. "Known on Earth by the Kush, and later the Phoenicians as the 'God of Death'. He was also the god of water and aquatic life."
"Okay, explain how he can cover water and death," Jack grumbled, flipping through the pages of information that Daniel and Sam always provided for each briefing.
"In some areas where he was worshipped he was also known as the god of grain and agriculture," Daniel grinned.
"You do it to aggravate me, don't you?" Jack asked. Snickers echoed around the room.
Daniel chuckled, moved on in his presentation. "Most writings about him describe him as a demon, and the god of death. I found references to him in Langaran mythology, and both it and some Earth mythology refer to him as a god capable of turning men into 'zombies'. That's not the actual word used, but given the description, it fits," he added.
"Nanoviruses?" Sam asked.
Daniel nodded. "That would be a logical guess. We've already seen, thanks to Nergal, what a nanovirus can do. According to Langaran myths, Dagon rode around the countryside in a chariot pulled by ten men, all zombies. His body guards were zombies as well, and supposedly couldn't be killed."
"Oy!" Jack muttered.
Casey's eyes went wide. "We're not talking about Kull warriors, are we? I mean, they fit the 'zombie' description fairly well, if you think about it."
Sam looked at her and shuddered violently. The thought that Dagon was an ancient 'god' just as Anubis had been spurred a troublesome thought. "Would Dagon and Anubis have been… contemporaries?"
"Not contemporaries per se, there were a few thousand years between their appearance in texts and stories, but obviously they were interested in the same type of 'research'," Daniel replied. "So far I haven't located anything that would indicate that Dagon is still around."
All eyes went to Casey. "You have to be kidding," she said, looking at the faces around her. "I really don't want to know if that bastard is out there!"
"We need to know, Angel," Daniel said softly. He understood her fear. Hell, she still battled nightmares about Nergal, and what she had suffered at his hands! He walked over to where she sat, held out his hand. She took it, closed her eyes.
Rayner watched, along with everyone else. Stephanie had told him of Casey's gift of sight, that she was an amazingly powerful seer, and that none of the SG teams would embark on a mission without her first 'looking' to see what they might be facing. He had never believed in seers or mediums before. Now he wasn't so sure. He allowed himself the luxury of just looking at her, since everyone else was as well. A slight frown wrinkled her forehead.
Casey waited until Daniel had her firmly in his arms in that sunny meadow. She moved slowly, taking the time to caress him gently before advancing outward. She had seen the references, had helped Daniel translate them. What they had learned was not encouraging. She was frightened that they were about to meet up with another Goa'uld as bad, or even worse than Nergal. She shivered as she moved carefully, searching the places where his name had been found. There…was that…it couldn't be, could it? She moved closer, careful to conceal her presence as Aaron had taught her. She shivered. "Oh, hell!" she whispered.
Everyone in the room tensed. "What is it, Case?" Jack asked quietly.
"The bastard is alive and well. And we're looking at Kull warriors…or at least a version of them," she said softly. "He's at…Daniel, I can see it," she said.
He moved gently in her mind as she guided him towards the information that she could see but not decipher. "Got it," he said. He reached out and caressed her face with his hand, his other hand still gripping hers tightly. "Move away, Case. Nice and slow."
She was trembling when she opened her eyes.
Sam poured a glass of water for the young woman, watched as shaking hands lifted the glass to her lips.
Casey sipped gratefully. "He's evil…Nergal type evil," she whispered, watching as Daniel hastily drew out the Stargate symbols for the planet where she had seen the Goa'uld.
Groans filled the room. Rayner looked around. "Excuse me, who is this 'Nergal'?"
"Goa'uld with a really nasty attitude," Jack replied bluntly. "Information about him is available in the SGC database."
The dark haired man nodded. Whoever Nergal was, he was…had been, a dangerous enemy, from what he could discern. "Did you kill this Goa'uld?"
"Yes," Daniel replied tersely.
"I take it that you…met him…before you did this?" Rayner persisted.
Casey shuddered, closed her eyes. "Unfortunately."
Her soft answer, the look of absolute dread on her face stopped him from asking more. A glance at Daniel told him that the man was not pleased. The questions had all been legitimate, he didn’t know about this Goa'uld, even if everyone else in the room did. It was only fair that they all be 'on the same page' if they were going to work together! Rayner shook his head mentally. For the first time since his arrival he was feeling out of step, felt the part of an underling. And he didn't like it, not one bit. It was time that these people realized that the sainted Dr. Daniel Jackson wasn't the only capable archaeologist in the room. "We should go examine these ruins. We'll be able to determine if this Dagon is the same as the god of the myths on Earth…and Langara."
Duncan looked at the man. Smarmy little bastard, the Highlander thought. Way too interested in Casey, and trying to 'one-up' Daniel. "That decision has already been made, or we wouldn't be sitting here," he replied crisply.
Rayner felt his cheeks burn. Refused to drop his eyes. Arrogant bastard, he thought, watching the Immortal at the head of the table. "Of course," he murmured.
"Right now I want to know what he's been up to in the past few years," Duncan said. He turned to Daniel. "Can you find enough to make sure that the Dagon mentioned in the ruins, in the myths, and that Casey just saw are one in the same?"
"I hope so," was the honest reply.
"Okay. You'll leave first thing in the morning. How many days?" Duncan asked.
Daniel consulted his notes. "Five. Six at the most. The ruins of a city are on the edge of a cliff. It will take at least a day to get there on the ATVs. So that's two days for travel. We should be able to get the ruins examined in three days."
Rayner barely managed to keep his jaw from dropping. Examine ruins in three days? How had the man ever managed to find anything running through ruins so quickly? It could take weeks, months, even, to find enough evidence, information about the people who had lived at a site, their ways of life! And he was going to do this in three days? Suddenly he wanted to laugh out loud. He would let Daniel have his three days. Then he would approach MacLeod and explain how a dig should be done. Then he'd return, and offer up the amazing finds that Daniel would have missed in his rush. And then all would see just who was the better archaeologist! "Are all of your expeditions done in such a hurry?"
Once again all eyes turned toward him. "Sometimes we only give Daniel a few hours," Jack said. He had already decided he didn't like this guy.
"Daniel is amazing," Casey said proudly. "He can determine in just a few minutes what's important, and what isn't."
"He can walk right to the information that we need the most," Sam added.
"Indeed," Teal'c said. "He is a most learned scholar."
Rayner flinched. Okay, no bad-mouthing Saint Daniel around this group. It would be too easy to impress them if they thought Daniel was all that and a bag of chips too!
Daniel had lowered his eyes, his cheeks flushed with the praise that came from his teammates.
"I don't suppose you know how to use a gun," Turk said, looking at the man sitting beside him.
"I've used a 9 millimeter Glock a time or two. Mostly to scare away wild animals," Rayner admitted.
"Stick close to the doc, then. He'll protect you," the Marine replied. The other Marines nodded in agreement. These warriors knew that the new archaeologist had never seen Dr. Jackson 'in action'. Privately, they were all betting that the dark haired man would shit his pants the first time he saw Dr Jackson tossing around blue fireballs!
He bit back the comment that he was a scientist, not a military grunt. Obviously these expeditions were sometimes dangerous, and this one was expected to be. He assumed that was the reason for the Marine escort. He had been on a few of those himself. Which was why he hired bodyguards. Going on digs in the Amazon could be life endangering, especially if indigenous tribes became upset about their 'sacred places' being violated. Rayner had learned how to do digs quietly in the night, spiriting away finds that the locals wouldn't willingly part with.
"Okay, people, get ready to go," Duncan said. He stood up, the Marines rising quickly in respect of their CIC. With a smile and a nod, he left the room.
Casey could feel the dark eyes on her. He watched her all of the time. Unlike Daniel's loving gaze, this one made her nervous. She reached unconsciously for her Husband's hand, not looking at the end of the table where Rayner was sitting. "So, do we get to duck out early, once the ATV is packed and ready to go?" she asked, trying to keep her voice light.
"Sure," Daniel replied. 'What's wrong?'
'He's staring at me. He's always staring at me!'
Daniel glanced toward the dark haired man who had become a thorn in his side in just a matter of days. "Steven, I want you to go read up about Nergal. Study that Goa'uld folder as well."
Rayner bristled at the 'order'. Barely restrained the urge to salute. "Yes, of course." He stood, threw on final glance at the beautiful blonde who haunted his nights and filled his days, and walked out the door.
Jack leaned forward, rested his arms on the table. "He's a slime ball."
He couldn't help but snicker. "Yeah, basically. But he is a damned good archaeologist," Daniel said.
Sam shook her head. "I agree with Jack. I don't trust that guy." She had already talked to Casey, had learned some of the young blonde's fears about the man.
"I do not approve of the way that he looks at Casey Jackson," Teal'c said.
"Neither do I, Teal'c," Daniel admitted.
"Me, either!" Casey declared. "I swear to god there are times he's undressing me with his eyes!"
Turk leaned a hip against the table. "Say the word, Doc, and we'll have a…chat…with him."
Daniel smiled up at the Marine. "Thanks, but I've got this one."
The man nodded his head. No doubt the Doc could handle this little weasel without breaking a sweat. "You got it. Okay, we'll see you in the gear room." He led his men into the corridor. Doc hadn't said anything about not keeping an eye on one Dr. Steven Rayner. And that was exactly what Adam Turac was going to do.
A A A A A A
Casey was sitting on the bed, brushing her hair when Daniel came into the bedroom. She smiled up at him, her heart hammering at the beautiful smile he gave her in return. He sat down behind her, took the brush and began to move it over her long hair. "I don't think I want to meet this Dagon," she said softly.
"With luck, we won't," Daniel replied, his voice soft. "We'll send the Phoenix II, or the Persephone, and they can flatten his palace from the air."
She shook her head. "It won't happen that way, you know that as well as I do. We'll have to face him." She turned around, watched her fingers move up and down his leg. "I'm scared," she whispered.
Daniel pulled her close, settled her in his lap. "No reason to be scared, Angel. I won't let him get to you. I promise."
"Don't make promises like that, Daniel. He…" she shook her head again. "I can't go through…that…again."
He understood exactly what she meant. She couldn't handle being tortured again. "I'll do my best to protect you, Casey. This time you stay with me. We'll beat him. Just like we beat Nergal."
She shivered at the mention of the Goa'uld who had treated her so brutally. She locked her arms around his neck, rested her forehead against his cheek. Breathed deeply of his familiar scent. "Together, always," she whispered.
"Together, always," he replied.
"I need you."
"I'm right here, Angel."
"Do you…need me?"
Gently, tenderly, Daniel did just that.
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