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Deceptions and Illusions
Several hieroglyphs in the temple inferred that another, secret temple existed in the city, where all manner of sacred ceremonies were held. Daniel wanted to find the structure; he was hoping that they would find out more about Dagon. So far all they had found were the usual accolades to the god of Death, and Agriculture. Jack was still demanding to know how he could do both, and how the two things tied together. The archaeologist was sure that his friend was doing it just to be annoying.
Daniel located the entrance just after lunch the second day in the city. The stairs led down the side of the cliff, and into a cavern some thirty feet below. He took one look at Casey's wide eyes, and hugged her. If he wanted her to accompany him, she would, without one word of protest. It wasn't necessary for her to go along. Besides, if he found anything…disturbing…she wouldn't be exposed to it firsthand. "You stay here, Angel. I need the other temple to be recorded on CD. Turk can take you back over there."
She nodded gratefully. She watched Daniel and Rayner start down the steep stone steps. 'That' feeling suddenly washed over her. She bit her lip. It had to happen. She turned to find Jack watching her, a frown on his face. "I can't stop him. If I do, I lose him forever," she whispered, tears filling her eyes. "I can deal with…well, it feels like a short time. I'm not sure how long, a day or two maybe. I cannot deal with losing him forever."
Jack wrapped his arms around the young Immortal. "I understand. How bad?"
Casey shook her head. "He won't die. That's all I can sense right now."
He nodded again. "I'm gonna send Franklin and Baker to the 'gate. Any guesses on what we'll need?"
She closed her eyes. Reached out and caressed him gently. Felt his presence in her mind. She looked around him. Shook her head, tears in her eyes. "I can't see anything; food and water, I'm sure. What if I'm wrong? What if…what if…" she lowered her head. "What if I'm about to lose him forever, and I could have stopped it?"
Jack hugged his young friend tightly, felt the shivers in her body. "Won't happen. You haven't been wrong yet, Casey. You say this has to happen, any clue why?"
She shook her head. "Not right now." She looked toward that opening in the wall that her Husband had passed through only a few minutes ago. She pulled away from her friend and hurried to that wall, wanting, needing one last glimpse of him before 'it' happened. She looked down, saw that he and Rayner were halfway to the cavern opening. She continued to watch until he disappeared into that dark cave. 'Daniel?'
'Right here, Angel.'
'What do you see?'
'Lots of pictographs, hieroglyphs on one side. We're gonna be here awhile.'
'Please be careful.'
'We will be.'
'Love you too, Angel.'
She continued to pace. Turk had agreed to finish recording the temple. She couldn't leave, she had to be here, near him. She reached out, desperate to know that he was alive, safe…unharmed. He was…preoccupied. He had found something, she could sense it. She smiled. It would give him something to do while he was…"Jack! Jack!"
The CO of SG-1 raced to her side. "What?"
"Trapped! They're going to be trapped in there!"
"Tell him, Case," Jack ordered, knowing that she had just 'felt' what was going to happen. He quietly informed the rest of the team about Casey's feelings. Franklin and Baker hurried back to camp. Jack had told them to take their packs and sleeping bags, and to have Duncan send an extra ATV. They would share one on the trip to the 'gate so that they could bring the second one back with them, enabling them to carry the extra supplies that Casey thought they would need; as well as the ropes and picks he thought might come in handy for digging out the two archaeologists. He glanced at her, watching her pace beside that crumbling wall. How hard had it been for her to let Daniel go, knowing that something was going to happen, he wondered. Then he wondered if he could have been as strong.
'Right here, Angel.'
'Sweetheart, you need to be very careful, you're going to get trapped in that cavern.'
He frowned, he could sense her panic, her fear. He needed for her to stay calm. He wouldn’t be able to get out of here if he was distracted and worried about her. He reached out and soothed her as best he could. Focus on the job at hand, his mind told him. Keep her focused on it as well. He took a deep breath, blew it out. 'Casey, I really need to get the glyphs recorded. I think it's important.'
'I understand. We're already working to get the equipment we'll need. You'll be safe, my Beloved. Just…trapped.'
Now he was glad that he had listened to her and packed extra water and rations when she suggested it. Apparently she had known that something was going to happen. The only time she didn't say anything was when things had to unfold the way she saw them. He glanced at Rayner. Wondered how the man would handle the predicament. 'Love you, Angel.'
'Love you, too, Sweetheart. Daniel?'
'I miss you.'
He smiled. 'I miss you too. How long?'
'I'm not sure. Maybe a few days.'
She knew that he would be suffering from withdrawal when he emerged from the underground prison where he was to be trapped, possibly for several days. She would be waiting, and she would make sure that they had a place…a private place, for him to get the 'fix' that he would be desperate for. 'I'll be here as soon as you're out of there.'
He knew that she would be. 'Love you, Angel.'
'Love you, Daniel.'
'I need to get to work.'
'I understand.' She pulled away slowly, felt his lingering caress before he moved away from her completely. Without a word to the others, she went back to camp, tore down the tent she shared with Daniel, and set it back up beside that wall.
Jack quietly ordered camp moved, and soon the other tents were set up nearby. Haberman, with Teal'c's assistance, had a new fire pit dug, and a fire burning cheerfully by nightfall.
A A A A A A
Daniel had located a stash of torches, and firewood. Which made him nervous. This cave was still being used for the macabre ceremonies honoring Dagon. He didn’t know whether the people who frequented this cavern were just worshipers, or whether Dagon himself joined in the 'festivities'. He just hoped that there weren't any…celebrations…planned for the very near future.
He started a fire, then calmly returned to recording the drawings that covered the walls… drawings that depicted orgies that ended in the death of dozens of the participants. Who then amazingly came back to life…as zombies. He looked at Rayner. The man was wide-eyed, scanning the cavern nervously. "Might as well get comfortable. Case says we're going to be trapped in here."
Rayner jerked, turned to look at Daniel. "What? That's ridiculous. The cavern opening is right there. The steps are just outside of it."
Daniel shrugged. "She hasn't been wrong yet."
He ran a hand through his graying black hair. "There's always the first time."
The dark blonde man snorted. "Dream on."
"So why don't we leave?" Rayner challenged.
"Because it's important that we get all of this recorded. We need as much information about Dagon as we can get," Daniel replied. He didn't add that he was certain that Casey would have suggested he leave, or would have begged him not to even enter the cavern if there was a way to avoid what was about to befall them. There was a reason. He only hoped it was a good one.
Walking toward the rear of the cavern, his flashlight illuminating the rocky wall, Rayner's eyes were drawn to a lever that protruded, just about waist high. "Well, well, well," he murmured. A grin on his face, images of an incredible find dancing in his brain, he reached for the carefully carved wood.
"Don't touch it!" Daniel exclaimed, having been watching the man from the corner of his eye.
"What's the matter, Daniel? Afraid I'm about to find something that will overshadow all of your discoveries?" Rayner taunted, his hand already wrapped around the lever, dreams of such a discovery dancing in his head.
"No, I’m afraid of Goa'uld booby traps," Daniel spat.
"Right. You know, I think a lot of the stuff in those mission reports is bullshit. Just a way to make SG-1 look good, make your little finds seem more important than they are. Sometimes you have to take a risk to find the good stuff," Rayner said. He pulled the lever.
The sound of stone grinding against stone filled the air. They listened, trying to determine where the movement was occurring. When they realized that a stone wall was moving to cover the entrance of the cavern, both men made a dash to try and escape. They were too far from the opening to make it out safely.
"You stupid son-of-a-bitch!" Daniel moaned. He turned to look at the man who stood panting beside him, his eyes wide. "It's a wonder you're still alive," he said quietly, his voice filled with anger.
Rayner folded his arms across his chest. He was struggling to hide his nearly overwhelming fear. "I've never had a problem like this before."
"Because you've never been on an alien planet doing a dig in a Goa'uld temple before!" Daniel ran his hand through his hair, spinning with agitation. "You just had to pull that lever, didn't you? Just so damned sure that it was a secret passage to treasure! So damned worried about making a discovery to show me up!"
The dark haired man was obviously surprised at the outburst, even more so to realize that Daniel had known exactly what he had been planning, his entire reason for requesting employment on Gamma. He gathered himself together mentally. "I was prepared for any possible results of my actions," he said with more calmness than he actually felt.
"You're a goddamned idiot," Daniel muttered.
"Archaeology is a risky business. Hell, you know that better than anyone!" Rayner sneered.
"Only if you're too stupid to take safety precautions, or go running into a situation you know nothing about, grabbing at everything you see!" Daniel spat back. He ignored the little voice in the back of his head that reminded him of the times he had touched alien artifacts and the rather unpleasant consequences that had resulted.
"Oh, yes, the great Saint Daniel! Archaeologist of the fucking century! Greater than Carter and Lehner and Wernecke and Hawass! Hell, you're so goddamned smart that you knew better than all of the fucking archaeologists in the world! You came up with that stupid theory, and expected everyone to just roll over and accept it!" Rayner's voice had continued to rise in volume until he was shouting.
"Because I was right! It's all there! Anyone could have read it, figured it out!" Daniel shouted back.
Rayner glared at the man beside him. Yes, Daniel had been right. And all of the archaeologists before him had been wrong. He struggled with that fact, felt it burn in his gut as he swallowed the truth. He spun on his heel, walked back toward the fire. It suddenly occurred to him that Casey had been right as well. He was angry, and looking for…needed…a way to strike out at the man he had hated for so long; needed to hurt him, make him feel the pain that had been a constant companion since their paths had crossed. The pain of disappointment, of never being good enough, of always being one step behind. "So, tell me, Saint Daniel, what really happened to Sarah?"
Daniel looked at the man. He wasn't surprised at the sudden change of subject. "She opened that canopic jar, Rayner. One that had a Goa'uld symbiote in it. Even though the Egyptian authorities had forbidden it, she opened it anyway. Why? Because you were going to do it? Had you convinced her that nothing would happen, no one would know? Hell, maybe you were there! Were you? Did you watch that damned thing burrow into her neck? Listen to her scream while it wrapped itself around her spinal column, implanted itself in the base of her brain? Were you there to watch while Sarah became a prisoner in her own mind?"
Rayner dropped down beside the fire, his face pale in the light given off by the flames. "Jesus! Is that what really happens?"
"Yes!" Daniel shouted. "That's what really happens! It happened to my first wife! It happened to Sarah! Christ, I spend half of my time worried sick that something just as horrible is going to happen to Casey!"
"So…that thing…it really…" Rayner looked away, willing himself not to be ill.
"Yeah," Daniel said quietly, dropping down beside the fire. "Osiris was already in control by the time I got there. If Sam or Teal'c had been with me, we'd have known immediately."
Daniel sighed. "Because both of them have naquadah in their systems, it alerts them to the presence of Goa'uld symbiote."
"I don't understand," Rayner admitted.
"Teal'c is Jaffa, he carried a symbiote in his pouch for almost his entire life. Sam was a host to a Tok'ra for awhile," he said. Let him look up the damned mission reports, Daniel thought irritably.
"So, that thing in Sarah, it killed Doctor Jordan, and Elsie, right?" Rayner asked.
"I assume so. She…he…followed you to that temple. Which was just a marker for where the ship was hidden. You led her…him…straight to his ribbon device, the ship, everything he wanted."
Rayner ignored the accusation...the fact that he had been responsible for the Goa'uld escaping. "I read that Osiris was killed."
Daniel flinched, lowered his eyes. "Yeah."
"She was able to 'emerge' for just a few seconds, long enough to beg me to kill her."
Daniel shook his head. "I…I couldn't. Osiris attacked me. Casey killed her…him."
Rayner stared into the fire. "She was so pissed at you," he said softly.
He knew immediately what Rayner was talking about. That missed anniversary dinner. "You took advantage of that."
"She was hurt…angry. And she knew how far you had gotten on that project," Rayner admitted.
"So you fucked her to find out, so that you could come in and try to finish it yourself," Daniel concluded. He shook his head. "You're an ass, Steven."
"It was already over between the two of you," the dark haired man argued. His own mind had exonerated him years ago for his actions, seeing only that he had done what he had to in order to protect his career.
Daniel remained silent. Wondered briefly if that was true. He shook his head. That fight had been…loud, and painful. Yeah, when Sarah had slammed that door behind her that night, their relationship had been over.
"Anyway, afterward…she…she told me that it had been a mistake. I never did find out about the research. You were finished a few days later. You were closer than I realized," he said with a shrug. "It took her a long time to get over you," he added quietly.
Daniel found his pack, took out two bottles of water. "Make it last," he said, handing one to Rayner.
A A A A A A
Casey looked down at the steps. She could feel it. Whatever was to happen…had. 'Daniel?'
'Right here, Angel.' He sounded tired.
'Are you all right?'
'Front of the cavern is blocked off.'
She dropped to her knees. 'Oh, god, I'm sorry! I should have told you as soon as I knew something was wrong! I'm sorry!'
'Shh…easy, Angel. It's okay. This needed to happen, didn't it?' He was absolutely certain that's why she hadn't said anything. He also understood the toll that such knowledge took on her.
'Yes.' She wiped angrily at the tears that fell on her cheeks.
She was crying. Feeling guilty. 'Casey, stop it right now. You haven't done anything wrong. I love you, Angel.'
'I love you, Daniel.'
'I want you to get some sleep, okay?'
'Goodnight, Sweetheart.' She crawled into the tent, the one she should be sharing with her Husband. She curled up on the sleeping bags and cried herself to sleep.
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