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Chapter 3

The team had decided to postpone doing any reconnaissance on Nergal until they had learned more from Methos about the Goa'uld's latest endeavors. So far, it seemed that he was doing just as expected, visiting the planets that Geb had held captive, and claiming them as his own. Pangeria was on that list; and SGC Gamma, and her allies, were prepared to fight for that tiny village.

"We've got to make our first stand somewhere, and we owe it to those people," Duncan said. "We promised them we'd help protect them from the Goa'uld."

Casey was frowning slightly.

"Case? Something we should know about?" The Highlander asked.

She looked up. "Sorry, what?"

"I asked if there was something we should know about," he said.

"No. It's not going to be easy, but nothing with Nergal involved is going to be easy," she replied. She didn't look at Daniel. The idea of going where…he…was, filled her with dread.

'Let it go, Angel. You have nothing to feel guilty or sorry about.'

She smiled at the warm, soft caress that accompanied his words. She didn't respond, but she did entwine her fingers with his, and squeezed them gently.

Duncan didn't miss the action. He shook his head mentally. When was she ever going to get a break? She was strong, stronger than any of them realized, but Daniel was right, how much more could she take? Okay, so her hesitation over this mission was personal. He still didn't like the fact that Nergal had her so…spooked. The 'feeling' that Daniel had told him and Jack about bothered him as well. She had never been wrong. If they couldn’t change things enough, chances were that something… unpleasant…was about to happen. It had been decided that one of the other SGI teams would go on the recon mission. When he had approached her about it, she could sense no trouble. The team was due back later that day. He realized that Jack had stopped speaking, and the rest of SG-1 was looking at him. "Sorry, guess I have too much on my mind today," he said apologetically.

Jack looked at him, then nodded. "I was just saying that we should probably gear up and head over to Pangeria. Reports say Nergal should show up there at any time."

The older Immortal nodded. "Do it. I'm getting reports from Marine One every two hours, I expect that to continue."

The general nodded. "Okay, kids, let's get ready to go do our thing. Case? Anything we should know about?"

She closed her eyes, reached out. He was definitely on his way there. "He's on his way. Better alert the Prometheus. He has three al'kesh."

"Damn!" Jack hissed.

Casey cocked her head sideways. "Duncan, send in at least three of the SGI teams. We need to be on the Phoenix."

"Any reason why?"

She looked around the table and grinned. "Yep. We need to show him what the Tau'ri are capable of doing. And that means that Daniel and I have to be on the Phoenix."

Duncan had read the reports; Sam, Jack and Teal'c had witnessed what Danielwith Casey's helphad been able to do to two of the al'kesh ships that had pursued them when they fled from Nergal's home planet. "Okay, let's do it," he said.

The team stood and began filing out of the room.

"Casey?" Daniel caught her arm just before she was out the door, turned her to face him.

She looked up at him expectantly.

"Are you all right, Angel?"

She smiled, ran a finger lightly over his jaw. "As long as I'm with you, sweetheart."

He smiled back at her, caught her hand and gently kissed the palm. "Forever. At my side forever, Beloved."

"Forever at your side, Beloved," she said softly.


A  A  A  A  A  A


SG-1 gated to Pangeria, they would ring up to the Phoenix from there. Duncan was sending SG-6 with them. The two teams had worked together so often that they were almost one team. Casey glanced around as they walked down the steps in front of the 'gate. She was hoping to avoid Wade if at all possible.

Ishtar was working in one of the gardens. She stood up when the 'gate activated, watched as he walked down the steps, his wife at his side. His blue eyes and gentle smile still haunted her nights. She could still feel the touch of his hands upon her body. Ryland was a good man, a kind man, and he was more than capable of pleasing her in bed. But his touch was not Dan'yel's touch.

Daniel saw her, turned his attention immediately to the Marines who were standing guard. He glanced at Casey. Yep, she'd seen the former slave as well. She had a guarded look on her face, and her green eyes had flickered his direction twice now. 'Only you, Angel. Always you.'

She smiled. 'Only you, my heart, always you. She still loves you.'

'Maybe. But she knows that I love you.' He reached out and gently caressed her, soothed away the tension he felt. Smiled when he felt her soft touch in return. He caught her hand with his, and they followed Jack and Sam to where Wade now waited.

"Things look good around here," Jack mused as he approached the man who was the brother of his best friend.

Wade smiled. "Thanks. It's been a lot of hard work, but it's paying off. Growing season is almost over, and it looks like we'll have enough to make it through the winter."

Jack nodded. "I suppose they told you that Nergal is on his way here."

"Yes. I take it that your presence means that things are not good?"

The general chuckled. "Actually, I think it's a good thing this time. We'll be heading up to the Phoenix. We'll try to keep him from even getting here."

The dark haired man nodded. "That would be a good thing, indeed. I shall wish you well, then." He let his gaze drift over to her. She was beside him, her hand wrapped in his. She was as beautiful as ever.

Daniel ignored the man, looking in every direction but the one where Wade stood. Brother or not, he wanted nothing to do with the man who had brought so much pain to his Wife.

Casey felt his eyes on her, tried to ignore him, finally glanced at him, their eyes meeting briefly. She winced at the look of raw desire that filled his eyes for just a brief moment.

Her eyes mirrored her pain, and he cursed himself for even looking at her. His presence meant nothing but heartache to her. Would always hurt her. That thought brought pain to his own heart. "If you will excuse me, I have to check on the new waterlines we just put in. Tyler says we have a leak somewhere," Wade said, already turning to walk away.

"We need to get up to the Phoenix," Jack said. "If you need anything, just signal."

Wade nodded, then hurried away from them. Actually the leak had already been located, by now was probably repaired. But he would check anyway. It was on the far end of the village, as far away from her as he could be without actually heading into the woods.

Sam contacted the ship that waited above them and SG-1 and SG-6 ringed aboard.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Methos was meeting with Ashnan on a 'neutral' planet, but the contingent of Rebel Jaffa who had been permanently assigned to the Phoenix were there in case his 'identity' needed to be protected. So far, his status had been accepted among the System Lords he had met, and he was well on his way to earning a place among them. As long as none of them became too…interested…in his 'holdings', then his charade could continue.

Casey took her position at the weapons console. She smiled at the young lieutenant who had been standing there before her arrival. He blushed, then gave her a bright smile of his own.

'Stop messing with that poor kid's head.'

She jerked, looked over at where Daniel stood at the helm control. 'I didn't say anything!'

He was grinning at her. 'Yeah, but a smile from you can make his brain melt. And cause some discomfort for his lower anatomy.'

'Bite me.'

'Come over here, I'd be happy to.'

'I'll bet you would,' she retorted. She was trying not to smile. She didn't succeed.

"Casey, anything we should know about?" Jack asked calmly from the captain's chair.

She reached out, searched for what information she could, recoiled when she came in contact with him. "He'll be here very soon. He doesn't really seem to care about this planet. It's too far from his territory. But if we fight him for it, he'll change his mind about how important it is."

Jack frowned. "So we should just let him show up and demand his tribute?"

"I don't think so. We have to protect these people. One thing, though, if we do fire on him, Methos won't be able to resume his System Lord identity."

"Contact Duncan, tell him that we have a hard decision to make. And find out where the Prometheus is," Jack told Sam.

The Prometheus, it turned out, would arrive just minutes before Nergal did. Jack had Daniel and Teal'c move the Phoenix away from Pangeria, and they hid among several moons of a nearby planet. This might buy them the chance to give Methos more working time as a Goa'uld System Lord.

Duncan agreed with Jack that the Phoenix should stay out of sight if at all possible. If it became necessary, they were to engage the enemy, with extreme prejudice. Not a problem for anyone on the ship who knew about Nergal. Certainly not a problem for Casey. She shuddered. The sooner they killed this bastard, the better!

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