<< Previous | Story Intro | Return to Stories | Next >>
Casey opened her eyes. At least, she was pretty sure she had. She didn't remember falling asleep, but evidently she'd drifted off. She moved slowly, her body stiff from sitting in the same position for so long. She turned on the flashlight, found her canteen and took a drink. She wasn't really hungry, but forced herself to eat a granola bar. She stood up, brushed herself off, and began to walk once again.
"Choose your path!" a voice whispered around her. It didn’t sound very friendly.
Suddenly she saw a fork in the path she had been following. It led to two tunnels. One looked fairly easy to traverse, the other seemed strewn with rocks and boulders, and looked on the verge of collapse. She stood for a minute, just looking. What in the world was going on? That 'something' was still poking at her.
She crouched down for a minute, just studying the two paths.
"Choose your path!" the voice, or rather, voices, hissed.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah…don't rush me," she muttered. She had a feeling that this decision was very important. As in life and death important. She dropped down onto her butt. Something was trying to get through to her, and until she figured out what it was, she was going nowhere!
She opted to turn the flashlight off. Turned it right back on when she saw two eyes glowing in the darkness in front of her. "Okay, I don't know who the hell you are, but I’m not playing your little game. So just come out here so I can kick your sorry ass, and then I'll be on my way."
Suddenly Ba'al was standing in front of her, his eyes glowing red. "You are a whore, fit only for my training camps!" he snarled.
"Oh, puhleeze. Give it a rest. If I'm a whore, then you're the friggin' Pope!"
"He lies to you, and you know it," the Goa'uld hissed. "You are a whore, Casey. A slut. Not worthy of him. You are not fit to be a mother."
Casey pulled her bottom lip between her teeth. "Grandma Rose always told me that my heart would never lead me wrong. That I knew the truth in my heart. I'm not perfect, no. I've made some choices I'm not thrilled with. But I'm not a whore. I'm not a slut. Daniel loves me. He's already fought your sorry ass, and defeated you. My children love me. Did you know that Emily thinks I’m pretty? Imagine that! No, you sorry Goa'uld bastard, I'm not falling for your lies. Go bother someone else."
In a puff of black smoke, Ba'al was gone.
She looked around. "Don't you even try to show up here! I already told your fat ass off once, I can do it again!"
Neferteri appeared next. "He loved me, made love to me! He held me in his arms as he once held you! He told me that he preferred me to you! He told me that he loved me!"
Casey began to giggle. "And you believed him? I know all about that mission, cupcake. I know exactly what he did, and what he didn't do. He may have fucked you twice, but that was it. The other times, it was just your imagination and a healthy dose of Sectonin. He said you were ugly inside, hideous inside. He hated you from the moment he laid eyes on you. He never stopped loving me, the Fire in him never stopped burning for me." She stood to her feet, advanced on the woman. "He makes love to me. Passionate, incredible love. Every touch, every kiss is full of his love. He sends his love to me, mind to mind. It's warm and beautiful and wraps around me and keeps me safe. He loves me, you sorry snake-headed bitch. He belongs to me, and only me! Everything about him, heart, mind, body and soul belongs to me!"
The woman's beautiful face twisted with anger, hatred. "If I had killed you, he never would have left my side!"
"Only if you chained him, cupcake. If you had killed me, he would have made sure you died very slowly. That's one thing that most people don't know about Daniel. He can be damned vindictive when he's really pissed off!"
"He still loves me! He dreams of me, makes love to me!"
"Yeah, sure, whatever. I screwed Nergal in my dreams too. It's symbolism for our worst nightmares. Doesn't mean a damned thing. Daniel belongs to me; heart, mind, body and soul, just as I belong to him; heart, mind, body and soul. So, poof, go on, get out."
Just as Ba'al had, Neferteri disappeared in a puff of black smoke.
Casey settled back down on the dirt, stared at first one path, then the other. She felt a touch of warmth coming from behind her. She turned around and looked. A familiar gray-haired figure stood smiling at her. "Grandma?"
"Yes, sweetie. It's me. You're doing well. Just as I knew you would. I'm proud of you, my dear. Remember this, Casey, not all is as it appears. Sometimes the best things are worth working for."
The young woman smiled. "I'll remember, Grandma."
"Go to him, Casey."
With a quick hug for the woman who had meant so much to her, Casey grabbed her pack. She looked again at the paths, and chose the one that looked the most difficult.
A A A A A A
The sun had gone down on the planet. Not one of the team members were willing to break the circle that surrounded Casey's still form. Daniel had become concerned when her breathing became erratic, but Jack and Sam quietly held his hands, keeping him in place, calming him with their presence.
The eyes continued to watch them.
Teal'c felt his skin crawl, and glanced around. He saw nothing, but knew that something was in the temple with them. He remembered a chant that his mother had taught him, one that was meant to protect from evil. He began to softly repeat the words.
Daniel heard the soft singsong words that Teal'c was muttering. A quick translation, and he shivered. He looked around, saw nothing, but realized that the Jaffa would not just randomly begin to chant a protective blessing. He began to say the words along with his friend. The others listened, then joined in.
The being in the corner hissed with frustration.
A A A A A A
She hadn't gone very far when she came to a deep crater. It was far enough to the other side that she couldn't jump. She could climb down, then back up. Except that the crater was full of snakes. Big, black, ugly, hissing snakes. Lots of the slimy, disgusting creatures. She looked around for another way to make it across. She had never been fond of rock climbing; like Daniel, heights did bother her. But she didn't have a choice. Humming Chicago's 'Feeling Stronger Every Day' to herself, she began to work her way over to the wall of the cavern. If she were careful, she could climb to the other side. "Knowing that you would have wanted it this way," she sang, "I do believe I'm feeling stronger every day!"
One minute she was clinging to the rock wall, the next, she was safely on the far side. Okay, she wasn't going to argue. She hadn't gone very far when a woman stepped into her path.
Doria Olmstead stood in front of her, her beautiful face battered, her neck covered with red and black and purple bruises. "You killed me! Murderer! You murdered me!"
Casey cocked her head to one side. "Yep. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, you sick bitch. And, as I remember, you were fighting me too, you had every intention of killing me. So I guess it was more like self-defense. Go away, I have things to do, places to go, people to see."
"You will not move past me!" she hissed.
"Wanna bet? I killed you once, won't bother me at all to kill you again!" Casey retorted
"Remember this, Casey, not all is as it appears."
Her grandmother's words echoed in her ears. She adjusted the back on her back, and walked through the woman, even as the apparition screeched and hissed. She stopped long enough to search her backpack. If she had to do this, she wanted music to travel by. Soon Doby Gray was singing about drifting away with rock and roll. She was getting tired, and hungry. Her flashlight was growing dim, she wasn't sure how much longer she would have light. The path grew steeper, more rocks and debris littered the way, slowing her progress. The heat was oppressive. She considered stopping, but something continued to pull at her.
The CD had ended, and she was about to put in another one, when she heard something. It sounded like...chanting. She cocked her head and listened. Was that…it sounded like…that was Daniel's voice!
"Daniel! Oh, god, Daniel! Can you hear me?" Her flashlight chose that moment to die. Still hearing his voice, desperate to reach him, she began to run down the dark tunnel, stumbling over rocks and boulders, gashing her hands and her knees. Her heart was pounding. He was close, she could feel him! She wasn't stopping until she was safe in his arms once again!
A A A A A A
Sam gasped when Casey's body jerked, again and again. Blood oozed through her BDUs at the knees, her hands became bloody as well.
Nearly exhausted, Daniel was leaning against Sam's shoulder. He jumped, sat up, his heart racing in his chest. "Casey? Angel?" He looked at Jack and grinned. "I know I just heard her!"
Jack grinned in return. "Keep calling her, Danny. Let her know that you're here."
A A A A A A
Casey stumbled yet again. The walls around her began to shake, sending a cloud of dust into the air, making it difficult to breathe. She could just barely make out a dim light ahead of her, she ran toward it, the dust choking her…
A A A A A A
"Casey? Come on, Angel, talk to me," Daniel said softly, his eyes closed. They flew open when he heard her cough.
Once again her body went into spasm, she coughed twice more, then opened her eyes. She looked around at the faces staring down at her, then rolled her eyes. "You would not believe what I have just been through!"
Relief-filled laughter echoed in the room around her. "Tell us about it, Angel," Daniel said, helping her to sit up.
"Okay, first off when did we go into a freaking cave? Because that's where I was! I remember you being on one side of this…chasm…and then an earthquake, and then it got really bizarre…" her voice trailed off, and she shivered. She looked around.
"Casey?" Jack said, a frown on his face.
"Uh, you do know that we're not alone in here, right?" she whispered.
Teal'c looked over his shoulder. "I was aware of a presence. We have been chanting an ancient protection prayer that I learned as a child on Chulak."
Casey stood to her feet. "I suggest you keep chanting, T. This isn't over yet." She looked at the faces around her once again. "Stay here. I have to do this alone."
"No way!" Daniel said already on his feet.
"You're not going anywhere, doing anything, facing anyone…or anything…without me! That's final. This isn't a discussion, Casey."
She looked at Sam and winked. "I just love it when he gets over-protective and domineering!"
Sam laughed. She linked hands with Teal'c and Jack, and the group began to chant once again.
Casey slipped her hand into Daniel's. "I don't know what's going on, but there's something that I have to face…a demon that I have to fight."
"I'm right here, babe. I'll fight anything that needs fighting." His face was determined, and he tightened his fingers around hers.
A figure made of shadows and black smoke stepped from behind one of the pillars. It pointed a long, bony finger at him. "This concerns you not!"
"Anything that concerns my Wife concerns me," he replied calmly.
"If she fails, you will die with her."
"She won't fail, but if she does, I'd rather be dead with her than live without her," Daniel said.
The being seemed to shrink the tiniest bit. It turned its attention to the young blonde woman. "You are undeserving! You have done nothing to earn that which you have! You are weak! You are h'as! You are a whore! A slut! You are nothing!"
Casey cocked her head to one side. "I don't know about the undeserving part. I certainly appreciate, and treasure the blessings that I have been granted. Weak? I survived a childhood with Helen Webster. I was a Goa'uld slave. I've been through childbirth, cupcake. Twice. Deal with that! The whole slut and whore thing is really getting old. Daniel has already fought and defeated those demons, so you're beating a dead horse on that one. Unless you've got something else to say, I suggest you haul your sorry ass right back down where it belongs, and stay there. Before I let Daniel blast you to kingdom come!"
With each word the being grew smaller. "He sees you for what you are!" it screeched. "He tells you lies in order to please you!"
"She is my Chosen. The mother of my children. My Beloved," Daniel said softly. "I know the truth. None of the lies you speak will change the truth."
The creature was only half the size it had been. "She has killed! Murdered with her bare hands!"
"She defends the Innocent. She stopped a power-crazed bitch who was trying to kill her. It was self-defense."
"Listen, cupcake, I've already been all through this. I'm tired of repeating myself. So unless you want me to come over there and drop kick your sorry ass back to hell, I suggest you leave. Now!" Casey demanded, her eyes flashing with anger.
With an ear-wrenching scream, the being dissolved into a puff of smoke, and vanished from the room.
Her body trembling, Casey leaned heavily against Daniel. He put his arms around her, and pulled her close.
"That's my Tiger," he said softly. He kissed the tip of her nose.
SG-1, SG-6, and the Marines were getting to their feet. "Okay, just what the hell was all that about?" Jack inquired.
Daniel looked around. "Apparently Casey just went through the rite to become a priestess of Amon-Ra. She had to fight the demons of her mind. She defeated them. I'd say that last demon has been around for awhile, and wasn't too anxious to leave. He didn’t count on facing my Tiger!"
Once again nervous laughter filled the room. "Is it safe enough to set up camp out there?" Jack asked.
"Yep. Nothing here but ruins, now," Daniel replied.
A A A A A A
The group was settled around a cheery fire. Good-natured complaining about the MREs filled the conversation. Casey looked up and found Trenton watching her. She smiled at him. "Pretty bizarre, huh?"
The young man grinned. "Yes, ma'am. I just don't get it though. Why would that thing call you…those names?" He hadn't understand all that was said, but he had recognized those hateful names.
Casey glanced at Daniel, then smiled. "Just trying to tick me off, I guess."
The young Mississippi native shook his head. "Damned thing didn't know a class act when it saw one," he mumbled.
"You got that right," Texas said.
"Amen, brothers," Tony added.
"I hear that," Turk agreed.
"Right on," said one of the other Marines.
She felt a prickle of tears. "Thanks, guys. You don't know what that means to me," she said softly.
Daniel pulled her close. "I'm proud of you, Angel," he whispered.
"I couldn't have done it without you," she whispered in reply.
"Together, always," he said.
She smiled at him. "Together, always."
<< Previous | Story Intro | Return to Stories | Next >>