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In Your Own Backyard
She was pacing. Not quite sure how she had come to be in this…room. Well, not actually a room. It was a cave. Nor was she completely sure how she knew that she was waiting for her…turn. At what she hadn't been able to figure out. Her pack was missing, as was her weapon. That didn't surprise her in the least. The only thing that she seemed to have was her flashlight. Odd, but it might help.
Something was going on. Something…big. Dangerous. Life and death important. The only thing she was totally sure of was that she couldn't break. She couldn't fail this…test.
A door at the back of the cavern swung open slowly. "There are four doors. Four locks. Four keys. If the wrong key is placed in the wrong door, they will die," a voice intoned around her.
Oh, crap! She hated this type of shit! She grabbed the flashlight, turned it on, examined the corridor that lay beyond the door. She didn't see any of the keys that had been mentioned. "I suppose this is like a freaking video game, and I have to find the damned keys first!"
With a sigh, she stepped hesitantly into the corridor. The door behind her slammed shut. "Guess I'm here to stay," she mumbled. She reached out, needed to feel him, needed the comfort his presence always offered. Blocked! Totally, one-hundred percent blocked! She frowned. He hadn't blocked her since…when was the last time? When she had had that nightmare about Nergal and Wade. That had been a year and a half ago, at least! She pushed against that cold wall. This felt…different.
She frowned. Did she dare to look, to search, without him? She reached out, just as far as the walls around her. There was a feeling of anticipation…eagerness…oh, no! She wasn't about to give Them the chance…
Them? Them who? Whoever it was, they would love an opportunity to follow her back into her own mind. Did that once. Wasn't fun. Never again. She clamped a mental block around herself. There, try to get through that!
Them. Why did that sound so doggoned familiar? It was a description, she was sure of it. Bad. They were bad. Worse than the Goa'uld, and that was saying something! She moved the flashlight slowly, the beam playing off of the rock walls that surrounded her.
Deep breath. You've done this before, and survived, my girl, she told herself. She could hear hissing from somewhere behind her. Sounded down right pissed off. She turned slowly.
The flashlight illuminated a tall being, his skin pasty white, his eyes yellow. "You will tell us what we wish to know."
"Oh, sure, like that's going to happen," she retorted. She cocked her head sideways. "Couldn't get it from the rest of them, could you?"
The being hissed. "They are all dead."
Fear clamped around her heart. She fought against it. No, they wouldn't die. Not unless she failed. If one of her teammates had failed, well, she'd be dead now, wouldn't she? Unless…no, she wasn't dead. She was sure of it. "Don't believe you," she said.
The being waved his hand. To her right the wall began to brighten, until she was looking out at the beach near the lake where they had first set up their camp. The hole was still there, although the ship that was buried within it could no longer be seen. Lying in the sand at the edge of that huge opening were her friends and her Husband. None of them were moving.
"I know the difference between 'dead' and 'unconscious'," she said, hoping she sounded more confident than she felt. She watched Daniel for a few seconds. Lowered the block long enough to reach out and caress him. Jerked when she felt his caress in return. With whispered words of love, she sent him the thought, explained that she needed to protect herself. Heard his replies, his words of love, his understanding. She could feel something cold, something dark moving toward her. She slammed the block back into place, turned to look at the man beside her. "Don't even think about it," she warned, her voice low. "I can put a world of hurt on you."
The being laughed. "You are but a human! Weakest of all sentient species."
Casey smiled. "Yeah, if we're so damned weak, why are we the ones whipping the Goa'uld, hmm? Why are you so desperate to get the knowledge we have?"
"You are nothing!"
She took a deep breath. She didn't dare lower the protection in her mind. She would have to do that to allow Daniel to help her. She was on her own for this. Her father's face flashed in front of her. Could she reach him with the block in place? She had to try...'Dad?'
'Casey? What is happening?'
'Big trouble. Not much time. Need your help, but I can't lower my mental block, or they'll get in.'
'I understand. Hold my hand.'
In her mind she could see him, suddenly standing in the meadow where she and Daniel met, and had even made love. He was holding out his hand. She grasped it firmly.
He smiled. 'You are welcome. Now, you must do what must be done. Daniel must be the one to destroy them. But first you must break them.'
The being watched the young woman. Her eyes were closed, she had a soft smile on her face. He was not unaware of the fact that something was happening. He was furious to find that as much pain, as much guilt as her mind held, memories that would have easily broken her, he was unable to move forward. She had been blocking him and the others from the beginning. He had assumed that she would grow weary. The illusion that they had created around her began to flicker. She was much stronger than he had anticipated.
Casey turned to the being…the creature. "You like to play with people's minds. Let's play, cupcake!"
The man screamed when he felt her invade his mind.
Yuck! Talk about your dark dungeons! This guy was a real piece of work! She held her flashlight tightly. Found the memories of the torture her friends and Husband had endured. She bit back her cry as she watched the images move around her like so many movie screens playing different movies all at the same time. The images of Daniel and Sha're cut her to the quick. The love in his eyes when he reached for her, touched her…She gasped, turned away from them.
"I love you, Angel, don't you dare forget that."
She smiled as his words echoed in her head. Love you too, Stud Muffin, she thought. Her flashlight had become a torch. Oh, well, as long as there was light. Unconcerned about any damage she might do to the mind she was moving through, she began to search for any information that might be useful.
"I will not allow this!" the man roared, standing in front of her in the narrow hallway that she walked down.
"Yada, yada, yada," she said, rolling her eyes. She stood still, allowed the creature to move closer. Using the moves she had perfected under Teal'c's tutelage, she managed to get the man to the floor. She moved around him, hurried down the corridor he seemed so anxious to prevent her from entering.
Dozens of doors lined the narrow passageway. She was most certain she didn't want to know what was behind most of them. "Plans. Ship. Hope," she said. Grinned when three doors began to glow.
Okay, let's see what's behind door number one. She opened it. Dark, dank…geez, didn't this guy know about air fresheners? The room was empty, save for a small wooden table in the very center. On top was a single sheet of parchment. It had to have been at least five feet long. She walked over, picked it up. It was a list. Of every single person who lived in Hope. Several names jumped out at her. Especially those of her children. Oh, I don't think so, cupcake! She held the paper to the flame of her torch, then dropped it to the stone floor. Watched as it burned to ash. The toe of her boot scattered the ashes. She left that room, slammed the door closed with a smile of satisfaction.
The second room was the same. Several sheets of parchment lay together. Schematics of the ship that they had unburied. Lists of equipment and supplies. She wasn't sure that she could actually take this with her…too bad she couldn't just 'deliver' it to Sam! That thought poked at her. She folded the documents and put them in the front pocket of her vest. She would examine that possibility later.
The third door was difficult to open. She threw her weight against it, clung to the edges to remain on her feet when the floor beneath her began to shake. More sheets of parchment. Unfortunately, she had no idea what language she was looking at. Whatever it was, these papers contained the 'plans' that these creatures had. Just as she had done to the list of Hope's citizens, she burned the sheets, scattered the ashes with the toes of her boots. She stepped back into the corridor.
He hissed when he saw her. "You will not get away from me."
"Wanna bet?" She turned, and walked away. She could feel her father's hand tighten around hers. She moved toward that feeling. "Dad, I have some information, but Sam is the one who will understand it. How do I get it to her?"
Aaron smiled. "Move gently. Then give it to her."
He laughed. "Yes, that simple."
Casey smiled, tightened her hand around her father's, and closed her eyes. Sam was still unconscious on the sand. She giggled when she found the 'laboratory'. This had to be where all of those incredible ideas came from. She found a spot beside the computer, and put the parchment sheets there. She found a notepad and a pen.
"Sam, I know that you'll understand this. We need that ship. Figure it out, girlfriend. Casey."
Pulling away slowly, gently, she returned to the meadow. "Now what?"
"Now, my darling daughter, you wake up your husband. He must battle these demons. He will need you at his side."
"I don't suppose you could stick around and help?"
"I will do what I can," the Ancient Immortal promised. He kissed her forehead, then moved away from her.
She opened her eyes. The man was standing there, staring at her, his glassy-eyed look telling her that she had done significant damage to him. She turned around. It seemed that this tunnel was real. She made her way back to the door. It was locked. Great! Just freaking great! Another glance at the man who stood motionless. Her heart pounding against her ribs, she began to search the robe he wore, found pockets and…yes! Keys!
The warning earlier echoing in her head, she examined each key carefully. No doubt alarms would go off if she chose the wrong one, and that would bring Paleface's friends running. Which one? She closed her eyes. Let her fingers move over each piece of metal. This one!
She took a deep breath. Slid the key into the lock. Turned it. Heard the mechanism disengage. Yes! She ran into the cavern room. It was filled with equipment. The same equipment that Sam had been unable to decipher. Or turn on. Hmm…maybe it was best if it was never turned on. She looked around. Found a large stone. She began to systematically destroy each console.
The doors to the elevator opened when she approached. The ride to the second cave was enough to have her heart pounding with fear. There was no way in hell she was doing that again!
By the time she climbed down to the dirt in front of the cave that held their camp, the team was already stirring.
Daniel held his arms open as she ran towards him. Locked in his embrace, safe in his arms, she allowed herself the luxury of relaxing for just a few moments.
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